Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Airmoto Tire Inflator

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

I'm adding a very minimal amount of tools to my motorcycle, not because I don't expect to need them, but because storage space is very limited. What I am adding are bare-bones additions to the factory tool set, like a pressure gauge and the Airmoto Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor/Pump. There appear to be several small inflators that look very similar (and almost certainly from the same factory) so I decided to order through Amazon, because Amazon!

From the Amazon ad:
  • QUICK & ACCURATE: Built with the highest quality materials, Airmoto is a portable tire inflator for car, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and bicycles. Quickly inflate your vehicle's tires in just minutes with precision accuracy up to 120 PSI. Small and compact car air pump that fits in your glove box or trunk.
  • AUTO SHUT OFF: Use the “+” and “-” control buttons on the Airmoto to easily select your desired pressure, simply connect the air hose to your car and press the middle “Start” button on the electric air pump. Once the correct pressure has been reached the Airmoto will automatically shut off. The cordless car tire pump makes it easy to reach all tires without a hassle.
  • MAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Easily change between PSI, kPa, BAR, and KG/CM pressure units with a push of a button; Easy to read large LCD; Digital Tire Pressure Gauge; Built-in LED flashlight for low light conditions; Deflate button for decreasing pressure; Air Hose stores inside; Powerful 2000 mAh rechargeable battery with fast recharging; Rated to 120 PSI.
  • INFLATES ANYTHING: Includes 3 attachments and air hose. Use the Schrader valve on cars, SUVs, motorcycles, and bicycles. Use the Presta valve for a bike tire pump. Needle adapter for sports equipment like basketballs. General adapter for cushions, air pillows and similar. NOTE: Airmoto is not designed for large volume uses like air mattresses, paddle boards or heavy load tires that require a small air compressor.
  • INVEST IN PEACE OF MIND: Perfect gifts for women and gifts for men. Conveniently store this portable air compressor for car tires in your glove box or garage, ready for use whenever needed. The package comprises 1* Airmoto Car Tire Inflator, 1* Air Hose with Schrader attached, 1x General Nozzle Cone, 1* Needle Adapter, 1* Presta Adapter, 1* USB-C Charging Cable, 1* Carrying Case and 1* User Manual. For any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us
While the pump is rated to inflate car tires, I am hesitant to really try and inflate a tire from flat to full as it seems a bit small for that. What it did do quite well, however, is add 4lbs of air to my rear tire in approximately 2 minutes. The other test I want to do is see how fast an air mattress is filled, because I want to prevent myself from passing out while blowing into that stupid tiny inlet.
As a side note, a benefit to having a modern motorcycle is the fact of having a USB port under my seat, so my flashlight and this inflator could be recharged while I ride.
Recap and Takeaway
  • This is exactly the right-sized item with the features I wanted for my motorcycle!
  • While my motorcycle comes with a plugging kit and CO2 canister, that only gives me one shot to get a tire fixed and on the road. This is a way to get two tires up or maybe help someone else get their tires inflated.
  • Purchased: one Airmoto Tire Inflator from Amazon for $79 with Prime.
* * *

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!
If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Sunday, October 29, 2023


Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

Can this year please be over? I cannot recall another time in at least the past 20 years when I have been so thoroughly beaten down by life. I don't know if this is burnout, depression, something else, or all of the above, but regardless of what's causing it there are days when I struggle just to be a person instead of some feral swamp witch. This means that writing blog posts like this one often feel unsurmountable. 

No one wants to hear me whine, though, so here's a post that's a follow-up to a lot of previous posts, because this is the only stuff I can think of right now:

My house is still in shambles and the master suite is still unlivable (more details here). Very little has happened since May; we hired an insurance adjuster to go to bat for us and he's had to work like crazy to get USAA to give us any money at all. We've gotten some, but it's not enough to cover the cost of renovation. It looks like we might need to get a lawyer to sue them. 

Between all this drama and the hot humidity of Florida summer, it's been months since I was able to do my regular night walks. Because of this, and because I'm a stress eater, I've gained weight. Yuck. 

I tore down my BOB and GHB to build an instructional pack for LibertyCon, and I've been tinkering with it in order to lighten it and implement the knowledge I've acquired and the lessons I've learned since then. Neither are 100% as I want them, but they're getting close. I think that if I didn't have all this other stuff going on in my life, I would be finished by now. But there's nothing I can do about that, so I do as best I can.

I really like my portable water pump from Pacific Bay, because it fills my water bladders quickly and efficiently. I've been told by an engineer that I ought to put my filter between the pump and bladder (which is what I wanted to do to begin with) because in his experience, pumps are more powerful at output than input. I like this explanation because not only does it make sense, it also tells me that my gut feeling was correct. 

That's all I have for now. Hopefully things will get better (wouldn't that be nice) so that writing feels less like pushing a boulder uphill. 

Stay safe and practice self care, everyone. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Prepper's Pantry: Shepherd's Pie

With the weather starting to get colder in much of the United States, the desire for comfort food grows. In previous Prepper's posts I've talked about soups and stews, chili, and most recently lasagna. All these dishes are distinct, yet they also all have in common a tendency to be hearty, possibly even heavy; are generally served hot; and can provide us with plentiful leftovers. The recipe for this post is no exception. 

Shepherd's Pie is one of my favorite fall and winter comfort food, although since my version uses beef instead of lamb, it's really more of a Stockman's or Cottage Pie. Any meat or meat substitute can be used, however. 

As this is a family recipe, I don't really have precise quantities. I tend to make it to fit the baking dish, which is usually either a glass 8x8 casserole dish, or the same deep 9 x 13 metal dish I use for lasagna.

Shepherd's Pie

Filling Ingredients

  • Ground beef (3-5 lbs)
  • 2-3 6-oz cans Tomato paste
  • 1-2 lbs Frozen or otherwise preserved vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans, etc)

Topping Ingredients

  • 3-5 Potatoes
  • 4-8 oz Butter
  • 1-2 cups Milk and/or sour cream (measurement is total)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Brown and drain the ground beef.
  2. Mix in the tomato paste and frozen vegetables.
  3. Spray an oven safe baking dish with non-stick spray and pour in the filling.
  4. Boil the potatoes until soft then drain.
  5. Mash and add butter, milk (and/or sour cream), and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover the top of the filling with an even layer of potatoes.
  7. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are nicely browned, and the filling is bubbling up around the edges.

Alternate Biscuit Topping


  • 2 cups Self-Rising Flour (White Lily preferred)
  • (Or 2 cups regular flour, 3 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt)
  • ¼ cup Crisco shortening or 1 stick butter - softened
  • ¾ cup buttermilk or 2/3 cup milk


  1. Place flour in a large bowl. Cut in shortening (or butter) with pastry blender or two knives until crumbs are the size of peas.
  2. Add buttermilk, stirring with fork just until flour is moistened.
  3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.
  4. Knead gently 5 to 6 times, just until smooth.
  5. Form over top of the filling.
  6. Bake as above.

The first piece always comes out messy.

This dish is best served hot while looking out the window at unpleasant weather.

Keep warm, and eat hearty.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Some Sorta Very Light Shaking Goin' On

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

Yes, there was an earthquake today here in Northern California, but nothing much happened where I live. What has changed, though, are some basic safety instructions. The U.S. Geological Survey has good disaster readiness info for the whole country, with the following tips about 50% quake specific and 50% to general prepping advice. 

Another page, titled What should I do DURING an earthquake?, has the following advice:
  • If you are INDOORS -- STAY THERE! Get under a desk or table and hang on to it (Drop, Cover, and Hold on!) or move into a hallway or against an inside wall. STAY CLEAR of windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances. GET OUT of the kitchen, which is a dangerous place (things can fall on you). DON'T run downstairs or rush outside while the building is shaking or while there is danger of falling and hurting yourself or being hit by falling glass or debris.
  • If you are OUTSIDE -- get into the OPEN, away from buildings, power lines, chimneys, and anything else that might fall on you.
  • If you are DRIVING -- stop, but carefully. Move your car as far out of traffic as possible. DO NOT stop on or under a bridge or overpass or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs. STAY INSIDE your car until the shaking stops. When you RESUME driving, watch for breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, and bumps in the road at bridge approaches.
  • If you are in a MOUNTAINOUS AREA -- watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees, and other debris that could be loosened by quakes.
  • If you are near the OCEAN - see these safety rules from NOAA's Tsunami Warning Center. 
I have posted several articles covering earthquake prepping, so please follow that link for more information. There are also included links to other bloggers in my posts that contain information that either I didn't think about, or the authors had specific information and knowledge I don't have, that can help keep you safe!

In my opinion, an earthquake is no different than a tornado or hurricane in that there is potential damage which may occur; it's just that there's no current system to give early warning for one. What is different, however, is there are very few major earthquakes, and I seldom hear of a minor tornado or hurricane. (Oh, they exist; they just don't make the news outside the states where they happen. -- Editrix Erin)

Everyone stay safe, plan your winter swap-out of summer gear, and get ready for the changing seasons!

Recap and Takeaway 
  • Quakes are not predictable, so be ready every day.
  • Have your meeting places set, and backup plans for your backup plans.
  • Set your vehicles up for local conditions.
* * *

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!
If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Prepper's Armory: Gun Safety

I hope all our readers are familiar with the four basic rules of safe gun handling. There are, of course, other guidelines and rules for safely handling firearms, but these four are the ones that every new shooter should start with.

In my classes, after stating the basic rule I expand on them to clarify, and I will do so here as well. 

1) Treat every gun as if it's loaded.
Until you personally confirm a gun is unloaded yourself, always act as if it is loaded. Any time you’re not in control of that firearm, assume it became loaded and check again. Remember, ammo gremlins are everywhere.

2) Keep your finger off the trigger.
Until your sights are on target, your finger should be above the trigger on the frame or slide. Not alongside the trigger, as it's too easy for it to slip onto the trigger unintentionally.

I learned to shoot in summer camp when I was around eight years old. Our instructor was a crusty old ex-military guy. (Well, I say "old" because I was a child; he was probably in his thirties, which is a good twenty years younger than I am now.) One of his favorite phrases was “Keep your booger hook off the bang switch.” If it had been a particularly trying day, he'd add the favorite word of Red Foreman from That '70s Show.

3) Be aware of your target and what’s beyond that target.
If you’re shooting at an indoor range, beyond your target should be a properly constructed backstop. While the same should be true at an outdoor range, it's often easier to shoot over the backstop in that environment.

If you’re shooting at an informal range or sport shooting on someone’s property, this rule is even more important than usual. Remember: even the lowly .22 Rimfire can travel over a mile.

4) Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Sometimes stated as "Never point a gun at something you don't intend to destroy", this is the most challenging of the four rules, and I rephrase it as "Keep the muzzle pointed in the least unsafe direction." For example, in my classroom one wall faces the store, another faces the bathrooms, the third wall another classroom, and the fourth the parking lot. Up is the ceiling and some expensive HVAC equipment.  Plus, whatever goes up comes down, and we’re below "up". In that room, down is a concrete slab with stick-on carpeting tiles. A bullet hitting that would ricochet at best, fragment and ricochet at worst.

So what’s the least unsafe direction there? Generally speaking, down and angled away from people. In that classroom, there is no truly safe direction. That’s why I call this one the most challenging rule.

One of the great things about these rules is that you generally have to break more than one of them for something to go horribly wrong. Unfortunately, many people either don’t seem to know these rules, or they know them but don’t follow them consistently. Between time spent at shooting ranges and working in gun shops, I’ve seen some of the poorest gun handling from people who should know better.

The two most common causes of negligent discharges and unintentional injuries with firearms are ignorance and carelessness. A negligent discharge is one that was caused by the negligence of a person, whereas an accidental discharge is one that’s caused by a malfunction of the firearm.

Ignorance, or lack of knowledge, is correctable by training. As long as the person is interested in and capable of learning, they can be educated in the rules of proper and safe gun handling, but carelessness, also called complacency or negligence, is harder to fix. These people do know better, but they don’t bother following the rules for various reasons.

If I had a dollar for every time I’d been flagged by a muzzle on the range or at the gun counter, by customers and coworkers alike, I could probably afford at least one more reasonably priced gun. The statement "Don't worry, it’s not loaded" has never comforted me since in all too many cases it simply isn’t true. 

As gun owners, it's our responsibility to set a good example, and this is especially true when it comes to gun safety. One of the best ways to pass this on is by teaching these rules to new shooters and rigorously practicing them ourselves. Whenever we pick up a firearm at a gun show, at a store, in our homes, or at the range, we need to follow these four rules as best we can. Don’t be ostentatious about it, just do it naturally and consistently.

In conjunction with this, don’t hesitate to kindly — and I emphasize kindly correct others who are not behaving in a safe manner. A calm and gentle correction can go a long way; "Please watch your muzzle direction, it was pointed at me" goes down much better than "If you sweep me with that gun one more time, I’m going to make you eat it." If you’re at a range, and the situation persists, get the attention of the range safety officer, and let them handle it.

Be aware, be safe, and have fun on the range.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Prepper's Pantry: Lasagna

The history of traditional foods is deeply connected with the history of poverty, for many of our favorite cultural dishes are direct descendants of meals that were developed when that culture (or subculture) was at a low point economically.

Lasagna is just one example of this. There are an infinite variety of lasagna recipes; it can be made with nearly any type of meat (or none at all), a variety of cheeses, and all sorts of vegetables and sauces. Many of these ingredients are available canned, or in other forms of long term storage.

What all these recipes have in common is the separation of the different ingredients with layers of noodles or other sheets of starchy foods, such as thin rolled flat bread. According to the Bread Cube Law, this makes lasagna a cake.


What follows is an estimation of my family recipe. I say estimation, because as with any multi-generational set of instructions, people, tastes, and ingredients change. For example, my great-grandmother mixed peas in with the ground beef. However, My Wife (tm) doesn't like peas, so I leave them out.

The noodles can be store-bought, or home-made if a pasta maker is available. For my latest batch, I used a combination of both store-bought and home-made as I had a half box of noodles in the cupboard from the last lasagna I baked.

The Ingredients

Ingredients for one 9x13 tray of lasagna:

  • Minimum 3 lbs ground beef/pork
  • Minimum 32 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb mozzarella
  • Minimum 2 quart jars tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cans tomato paste
  • Minimum 8 hard-boiled eggs
  • Minimum double batch of pasta dough (2 cups flour, 2-3 eggs, 1-2 tbsp olive oil, Roll noodles out to at least setting 5 on an Atlas pasta maker)
  • Or 2 boxes standard lasagna noodles


  • Brown the meat and drain the grease.
  • While still warm, add the paste and about half a jar of sauce, mix well.
  • Slice the hard boiled eggs.
  • If using home-made noodles, store them under a damp towel until needed.
  • In the bottom of a tall, 9x13 oven safe pan, cover the bottom with a layer of sauce then follow with the following:
    • Noodle
    • Ground beef
    • Noodle
    • Cheese
    • Noodle
    • Hard-boiled egg
    • Noodle
    • Cheese
    • Noodle
    • Ground beef
    • Noodle
    • Sauce
    • Shredded cheese topping

Assembled and ready for oven or refrigerator

Once done, the lasagna can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for a few days. When it's time, bake at 350° F for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cheese is nicely browned and bubbling.

Cooked and ready to eat

Serve with garlic bread and, if you like, a nice red wine. Buon appetito!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Kidde Fire Escape Ladder

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

Along with the other pointers mentioned last week, I left out one very important thing: how to escape a burning building when you aren't on the first floor. To solve that problem, I have a Kidde Fire Escape LadderI bought this right after moving into my condo, since the idea of jumping from a second story window isn't appealing. Even if the height isn't that much and the possibility of injury is low, I still don't want to do that, so this sits in the upstairs hall closet and everyone here knows what it is and where to find it.


From the Amazon ad:
  • Easy to use fire ladder - attaches quickly to most common windows (up to 11 inches deep & 16 inches wide) before rungs are released - works on casement windows
  • No assembly required
  • Flame resistant, durable & sturdy, foldable ladder - tested to 1,000 pounds
  • Tangle-free design for fast & easy deployment in an emergency
  • High quality, zinc-plated, 1-foot wide, anti-slip rungs for secure footing & a confident descent
  • Rails are constructed of red nylon straps for a secure grip
  • Single use only - discard when unfolded or used
  • 5-year limited manufacturer warranty

I have the two-story version, but you can also buy a three-story ladder as well. 

A Serious Fire Safety Story
This is a story not as in "once upon a time", but rather as something shared to others from a third party. This actually happened in the order written, so please take a minute to read the whole story about escaping from a burning apartment building. 

Recap and Takeaway
  • Think about what you you are going to do, with whom and when. Plan for leaving every building as safely as possible with everyone with you.
  • Purchased several years ago: one Kidde Fire Escape Ladder from Amazon, $43.97with Prime shipping.
* * *

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!
If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Lessons of Israel

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

If you're like me, you've spent the last few days aghast at what happened over the weekend, and is still happening now, in Israel. 

It is not my intent to talk about international politics, or the history between the Israeli people and the Palestinians. However, I hope we can all agree that kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder is obscene behavior regardless of who does it, and that civilians must never be targeted like that. If you disagree, then be advised you are endorsing several Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions -- in other words, the literal definition of War Crimes -- and as such your comments will be deleted and you will be forever banned from commenting on this blog. With that said, let's take a look at what is happening in Israel through a prepper's lens. 

Firearm Ownership
The private ownership of firearms is so highly regulated in Israel that it makes California or New York look unrestrained in comparison. For a comprehensive listing of those laws go here, but here are the highlights:
  • A license is required to own any firearm. 
  • To possess a license you must have lived in Israel for three years, pass a series of tests including physical health, mental health, and a criminal background check, and an in-person interview.
  • You must have a "genuine reason" to own a firearm, such as needing it for a job or wanting it for self-defense. 
  • If for self-defense, you are permitted to own one pistol and only 50 rounds of ammunition for it. It's my understanding that you can buy more to replace what is expended at the shooting range, but you can only possess 50 rounds at one time. 
  • You need to renew this license every three years. If your license is not renewed you must surrender your firearm(s) to the police. 
  • Only around 60% of all license permits are granted, which is odd in a nation that has mandatory military conscription for all citizens, male and female alike. 
  • As a result of these attacks, the Israeli Minister of National Security has announced that he will loosen these restrictions... by doubling the amount of ammunition allowed, reducing the requirement of an in-person interview to a telephone interview, expediting the license process, and so forth. More information can be found on Stephen Gutowski's article on The Reload
With all this said, you can see why the civilian losses (over 800 at this point) were so horrific: once Hamas made it past the border, they had soft targets with few weapons. In fact, as my friend Jay Peterson says:
If the attack on the Tribe of Nova Music Festival alone was a mass shooting in the US, it would already be more deadly than the Las Vegas, Pulse nightclub, VA tech, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, Ft. Hood, Columbine, Aurora, and Buffalo shootings.
They're still finding bodies.
And that's just the festival. It doesn't include the rest of the attacks on Israel that began Saturday morning.
As of this moment, that death toll is at least 260. 

The lesson to be learned from all of this is just a reiteration of what I and other bloggers have been saying since we started this almost a decade ago: if you can at all do so, buy firearms for home and  self defense, learn how to use use them, get a concealed carry license when possible and carry whenever and wherever you can. You never know when someone will decide to kill you, so make it as difficult for them as possible. 

First Aid Kits
In a similar vein, carry a trauma kit with you so that you can treat the wounds of others, or even yourself. Take classes like Stop the Bleed and Red Cross First Aid so you know how to use these materials. This is another topic on which we've talked extensively; use the First Aid and First Aid Kits tags on this blog to learn more. 

Emergency Supplies
Finally, the Israeli Defense Force spokesman has told people to get 72 hours of supplies, pack them in a bag, and have an evacuation plan; essentially, "Build a Bug Out Bag and have a Bug Out Plan." When people started panicking at this, the government explained that they were just emphasizing something that's been a recommendation for years. As of this moment that link will result in an "Access Denied" unless you have a VPN that is set to show your location as Israel, likely to ease the traffic load and possibly make cyber attacks more difficult. 

Having read the site, it's pretty similar to our government's website on preparedness, www.ready.gov. I tend to forget that September is National Preparedness Month, because for me and the other bloggers here, every month is Preparedness Month. It's still a great resource for getting started, involving the kids, and perhaps even convincing recalcitrant adults to get involved ("The government says we should do this.")

And, much like over here, I know of at least one Israeli whose mother considers the idea of having an emergency stockpile of food and water "as if it was some kind of silly survivalist notion. You would think the distant rumble of artillery and the howl of fighter jets coursing overhead and the actual government recommendations to please get the food and water would be some kind of hint."

So please, Please, PLEASE learn these lessons of Israel:
  • Be prepared to defend yourself and your family from harm. 
  • Be prepared to render medical aid to yourself or others. 
  • Be prepared with 72 hours of essential supplies. 
  • Be prepared to evacuate. 

I would much rather have these preps and never need them than to need them and not have them. I hope you feel the same way, too. 

Friday, October 6, 2023

Prepper's Armory: Shot Sizes

It's been a while since my articles on shotguns and shotgun chokes, but a question came up elsewhere regarding optimal shot sizes for different purposes. As I mentioned in those previous posts, shotgun bore size is measured in gauge, which is the number of lead balls the diameter of the bore that total one pound. Therefore, it would take twelve balls of .727 caliber to be a 12 gauge, whereas 20 gauge would take twenty balls of 0.617 caliber. 

Caliber and Gauge Chart

Shot sizes use a different numbering system, but just as with gauge, the number goes down as the pellet size goes up. This means that #4 shot pellets are larger than #9, and so forth. 

Shot types are grouped into two main categories, generally referred to as Birdshot and Buckshot. In addition, there are some differences in numbering systems between American, British, and European sizes. As most of our readers are American, and that's the system I'm most familiar with, I'll stick with that one for this post.

Shot Size Chart

Since shot size effects the number of pellets that fit in a shell, lead is still king when it comes to economics by giving the most bang for the buck, both figuratively and literally. However, in the United States legislation has been passed limiting the use of lead shot in certain areas and for certain types of hunting. In those situations where such regulations are in effect, steel shot is frequently used. Being lighter than traditional lead pellets, it's generally suggested to use steel shot one or two sizes larger than the equivalent lead shot. While slightly more expensive than lead, steel shot isn't prohibitively so.

Another option is shot made of an alloy of bismuth. It's softer than steel (in fact, nearly as soft as lead), but only slightly denser than steel. This makes bismuth safer for older shotguns where steel pellets might damage the barrel. However, bismuth is also more expensive than lead and steel, sometimes considerably so, which limits its popularity on the market.

The latest addition to the shot pellet material menu is various alloys of tungsten. Half again as dense as lead and over twice as dense as steel, tungsten has excellent performance on game. However, tungsten is considerably harder than lead, with some alloys even harder than steel shot, which may damage older barrels. As you would expect, tungsten shotgun shells are also the most expensive option. 

Which Size to Use?
When choosing a shot size, most references are based on lead shot. If steel or bismuth are used instead, simply slide up one or two sizes larger on the chart to find the appropriate pellet size. No change is necessary for tungsten.

When using a shotgun to hunt small game in the air and on the ground, or for shooting skeet, trap, or sporting clays, smaller pellets give the best combination of shot pattern and terminal effect within their range. For example, #5 and #6 shot are preferred for hunting rabbit, while #7, #7½, and #8 shot are generally considered most effective when hunting squirrel. When overland bird hunting, such as grouse and quail, the preference is for #3 and #4 size shot for larger game birds and #5 and #6 for smaller ones.

Waterfowl hunting has an added complication with federal regulations requiring the use of what's referred to as nontoxic shot. According to some studies, lead pellets from missed shots are believed to have significant health effects on birds when ingested, so a ban on the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl  became nationwide in 1991. According to the law, waterfowl are defined as the family Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans) and coots. Nontoxic shot is defined as "any shot type that does not cause sickness and death when ingested by migratory birds", which generally means steel, bismuth, and tungsten pellets.

Many locations have restrictions on using buckshot for hunting large game, such as deer and similar animals, so slugs are most commonly used for that purpose. However, buckshot is still the primary choice for defensive shotgun loads. #4, #1, and #00 buckshot are the most commonly found loads in commercial shells, offering a good variety of pellet size to payload options.

Shot sizes
When using shells loaded with multiple pellets, whether birdshot or buckshot, the chosen load needs to be patterned, a method of testing to make sure the density of pellets is sufficient for the purpose intended. This process is well understood and involves shooting at the center of a large target at a specific range based on intended use (such as a four foot square at 40 yards for certain hunting loads), then counting pellet hit percentages while keeping an eye out for voids in the pattern. Here's one reference, and another, on the procedure of patterning a shotgun.

Hopefully this post helps make sense of a large, and often confusing, field of information. Good luck, and safe shooting.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Fire Safety Tips

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

October is the start of fall, so it's time to get ready for cool to cold weather.

Fire Safe October
Depending on who you ask, this is either Fire Safety Week or Fire Safety Month. It really doesn't matter how you look at it, though; being fire safe is important, and if you can get all your safety checks done in seven days or if it takes all thirty, just do it. There are many different organizations and companies to use as fire safety sources, so I will only list a few that I personally like.

First Alert
Yes, they have a vested interest in bringing this info to you, since smoke alarms are their primary product. That in no way lessens the great information on how to set up your house with the necessary detectors to keep you safe. Here is one link from them.

National Fire Prevention Association
The NFPA has some amazingly easy to read and share short fact sheets on fire prevention for your whole house. There is a section designed for kids and fire safety, and also one for kitchen and cooking, since kitchen fires are the most common type of residential fire. There are too many Fact Sheets to list, so here is the link to the entire bunch. Many are available in multiple languages, too. 
Other Common Maintenance
These are some really things to check. Most are inexpensive, compared to  the cost of replacing your house!
  • Check your heating system and swap out your filter. 
  • Look at your burner and connections to the fuel source.
  • Check the fresh air source and exhaust vent/flue.
  • If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, check the flue and venting piping for clogs or soot build-up. 
  • If you haven't checked the structure of your chimney, do that now.*
  • If you own fire extinguishers, check them to see if there is powder showing in the nozzle (there shouldn't be any) and, if yours has an actual dial, if the pressure is still good.  
* A friend did serious damage to his house one week after moving in. While still unpacking, the fireplace was lit to give off a little warmth and 'mood' for the evening.  It turned out the previous owners burned a lot of resinous wood and when the next fire was lit there was a flue fire, damaging the chimney and setting fire to the roof.
One relatively new thing I have seen, but never used, is a Fire Blanket.


From the Amazon ad:
  • 2-PACK EMERGENCY FIRE BLANKETS FOR HOUSE FIRE SAFETY: Each fire resistant blanket cuts off oxygen with no mess unlike fire extinguishing spray. Fire blanket for people protection while camping or cooking in kitchen, home, grill, smoker, boat, or car.
  • PREMIUM QUALITY: Flame retardant blanket made of woven 430+ GSM 100% fiberglass flame retardant fabric. Fire blanket roll resists temperatures up to 1076°F. Meets safety blanket standards set by CE and SGS. Fire retardant blankets for fire safety kit
  • EASY TO USE: Pull down tabs on the fire proof blanket, spread the blanket to cover the fire, let the fire blanket fire suppression blanket suffocate the fire, then turn off the heat source. Can also be used to cover the body for fire survival.
  • HOME FIRE BLANKET KIT: Fire proof blankets and resistant to high temperatures. Hang kitchen fire blanket on wall of a house or boat. Use as emergency survival blanket or fireproof blanket for grill. Safe to drape over adults, children, or pets.
  • QUALITY GUARANTEE: Buy emergency blanket 2-pack fire retardant blanket with confidence! Blanket fire resistant is a fireproof blanket emergency blanket for car. Fireplace blanket, emergency survival blanket, fire extinguishers for the house kitchen.
Make Plans
Plan out what you are going to do in a fire: how you will evacuate, where to meet, if you live with others, what to grab on the way out, and who you need to notify if people are not home.

I will be re-posting my experience in what not to do in a fire next week. Stay safe, everyone.
 Recap and Takeaway
  • Spend a few hours looking over your place. Even if nothing is wrong, you now have the peace of mind in knowing you are starting the season off prepared.
  • While I have not used or seen one of these in person, the idea is interesting! One two-pack of Fire Prevention Blankets, orderable from Amazon, is $36.99 with Prime shipping. (Erin says: I own one and it is mounted in the kitchen in case of stove fires. I have fortunately never had to use one, so I have no review of it.)
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NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

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