Archive for Special Skills

The Future of Drone Warfare

Those of you that have followed my site known I have keenly tracked and been a part of autonomous drone development.  The implications of this revolution in warfare are staggering.  All too often I hear some well-intentioned, but woefully ill-informed person state that their “counter-drone” weapon is a shotgun.  Rather than explain how wrong…and in a real life engagement, dead…these people are, I just want to show a video of a recent military drone test, which evaluated swarming technology.  As you watch, keep in mind each one of these drones will one day be able to independently identify, select, target, engage, and kill with precision day or night, from potentially miles away.  Using the swarming technology being developed, a precision strike of drones will eventually be conducted in a manner that independently targets and kills every living thing on a military base simultaneously.  Let that reality sink in for a bit.  Now sit back and watch this clip.

Guiles Hendrik

February 27, 2017

 

Micro Drone Swarm Launched From F/A-18 Super Hornet

 

Lessons Learned from J20 Protests at Trump Inauguration

Before the Inauguration of President Trump fades into memory, I wanted to capture some the important lessons learned.  Please feel free to post on chat boards and begin discussions because this list is by no means all encompassing.  Instead, it is short run down of salient lessons learned to date that were under reported or appreciated.  I would love to see a fully consolidated after action list and would be happy to post it should someone want to submit one.

  • The key takeaway from the Trump Inauguration is that the Left failed. The inauguration was the single best chance Trump’s opposition had to unite and take decisive action against the new president.  The propaganda, anger, and vitriol in the run up to President Trump’s inauguration were unprecedented in our lifetimes.  Nonetheless, the Left utterly failed to stop anything.  The protestors looked like nothing more than a motley band of moronic, spoiled brats with a penchant for destructive behavior.  It was a truly embarrassing show of “force.”
  • The Left is far weaker than they try to present. Their numbers they mustered on the streets amounted to small bands of Soros hired anarchists and was far below even the lowest estimates presented by the media.  Any large scale national resistance movement by the Left is currently impossible with their current numbers and capabilities irrespective of Soros funding.
  • Anarchists are still targeting downtown business districts close to mass transportation hubs. This is important for future planning and preparation purposes.  In the case of DC, the majority of protests materialized in the vicinity of the main train station (Union Station) and Metro Station, which is the second largest metro hub in DC outside of Union Station.
  • Violent protestors are cowards and fear strong opposition. When confronted by individuals prepared and capable of self-defense, the Leftists resigned themselves to shouting obscenities, but avoided further escalation.  In the few examples where they miscalculated and tried to attack a competent solo individual, they uniformly had their butts kicked.  The pro-Trump biker groups were a strong testament to this effect.  It is clear the Left is in fear of groups willing and capable of proportionally responding with like violence should they try to attack anyone.
  • Violent protestors prey on the weak. A review of the attacks and destruction that occurred during the DC protests/riots shows that victims were not chosen at random.  Solo individuals and unguarded/unprotected property were the primary targets of the mob.  In many cases, women attempting to simply go to work were attacked.  One of the most egregious cases involved a violent mob attack and beating of a lady walking with a cane, which left her hospitalized.
  • Attendees wearing Trump attire were targeted if they appeared weak or in small numbers.
  • A screening of dozens of videos of attacks committed by rioters and protestors overwhelming demonstrated none had professional martial arts training. The individuals uniformly attacked people they thought they could bully and easily overpower, but never displayed any degree of competence in hand-to-hand combat.
  • The mob was easiest to penetrate by simply donning black attire. Our operatives wore black hoodies with black cargo pants and were able to easily infiltrate the mobs of anarchists.
  • By dressing like the anarchists (all black, face obscured, adorned with communist symbols), it was easy to target, approach, and “remove” anyone that appeared to be a major agitator in any said group. This tactic proved very effective at dispersing mobs and disrupting the protestors/rioters.  Critical to this tactic were speed and surprise.  Once action was necessary, infiltrators needed to neutralize the threat rapidly and then make an escape through the crowd to a secure area before anyone realized what was going on.
  • Preparing for a confrontation in high-pro kit was suitable for group shows of force for property defense, but was of limited utility in disrupting the mobs. Anyone wearing kit was too high profile to penetrate the mob of rioters and immediately drew the focus of hostilities.
  • Do not park any vehicles along streets. Roving mobs of anarchists blocks from the center of hostilities were seen randomly vandalizing property.
  • Keep plenty of fire extinguishers available. Fire is still the most dangerous threat widely faced.  Extinguishers also make a great (and perfectly legal) area dispersal or screening agent.  In fact, we found that simply discharging an extinguisher provided far better obscuration than typical smoke generating devices.
  • The police didn’t intervene except in the most egregious cases. They must maintain their lines for safety and security and have to preserve their limited manpower.  Riot trained police know that they must maintain a tight cohort.  Getting separated is extremely dangerous for an officer.  In DC, when they did make an arrest, they did it in a big group.
  • The police in DC used good discretion. If anything, most people wanted them to act more aggressively against the rioters.  In every case we witnessed, which included fights between pro and anti-Trump attendees, the true agitator(s) were arrested.
  • Don’t expect the police to be able to help you during major protests and riots. Their manpower is dedicated to protecting key infrastructure and persons…not you and your property.
  • Don’t expect the police to leave their lines immediately and come to your aid to break up a confrontation with violent anarchists. Police stood by and did not intervene in most of the minor assaults we witnessed.  That said, we witnessed a woman assaulted by a weaselly, male (barely) protestor trying to block her access to a venue and she decked the protestor.  The protestors screamed for her arrest, but the police took no action.  The lady then proceeded unmolested on to her destination.

This is a short list of some of the highlights of our observation teams last week.  Again, we ask that you post this to discussion boards.  We want to capture all of the lessons learned.  Each of these bullets provides plenty of fodder for further discussion and value to planning and preparation for future events involving mass civil unrest.

 

By Guiles Hendrik

January 27, 2017

Are you prepared for the “Day of Rage?”

Tomorrow, Friday July 15th has been announced as a “day of rage” to protest perceived social injustices across the nation.  Most major metropolitan areas have been identified as areas targeted by possible protests.  Now, just because a day of rage is called for online, it doesn’t mean anyone will turn out.  However, based on past Black Lives Matter (BLM) events that turned violent, it would be wise to take precautions out of an abundance of caution.  So what should you do if you happen to live, work, or pass through these named areas?

I have written many pieces over the years explaining how to prepare for the mobs rioting and burning our cities during times of social unrest.  Per my piece in June, I detailed how to defend against fire, which may be your most pressing threat during a riot.  (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2016/06/06/how-to-protect-your-home-from-rioting-mobs-using-fire-as-a-weapon/ )  I also have discussed in detail how to organize your community into a common defense since private citizens, NOT law enforcement have proven time and again to be your best defense for life and property against the mob.  (See stories listed at: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/?s=ferguson)  For extremely bad situations, we have also put together the Civilian Response Force composed of volunteer citizens from across to the nation willing to help those located in high threat or disaster areas.  (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2015/01/21/lms-civilian-response-team-ferguson-conundrum-solved-by-community-security/)  All of these articles present a coherent comprehensive strategy for the defense of you and your community and should be reviewed in detail.

Specific to those needing to make “last minute” preparations for tomorrow’s planned “day of rage” touted as a “peaceful” event, I would recommend the following.

Family:  Get any non-essential family members out of the danger area.  If you can, have them stay with family or friends until you know it is safe to return.  Before parting ways, make sure everyone knows your plan in the event you need to bug out and ensure that includes a “no-comms” plan.

Fire:  Go to Costco or similar store and make a bulk purchase of fire extinguishers.  Chemical extinguishers that work on gasoline/petroleum and electrical fires are optimum.  Place these extinguishers in easy to access locations close to any windows and doors of your home and on all levels of your home.  If you have any combustible material around your house, remove it.  Be especially vigilant to get rid of gas cans and such in easily accessible locations like sheds and outbuildings that a rioting mob could easily access.

Preparations for Defense:  Prep your kit for either bugging out or the defense.  Weapons, ammunition, and any other associated items like body armor should be staged and ready if the situation deteriorates and dictates the need to defend your home and family.  If the situation becomes hopeless (block is engulfed in fire, overrun, etc.) be prepared to bug out.  Have a go bag staged and multiple evacuation routes and options ready for execution.  Make sure you let at least one other trusted person know your whereabouts and plans should you need to execute a bug out.

Medical:  Inventory, update, prep, and stage any medical equipment you have or intend to use in a casualty collection point.  This should be somewhere safe in your home and could be a safe room, basement, or internal room with no windows and doors.  The most critical items such as tourniquets should be staged and at the ready.

Vehicles:  Any vehicles that you cannot store inside a locked garage should be driven and stored outside of the area of disorder.  Vehicles left along streets are likely to be vandalized, stolen, or torched during riots.  If you chose to keep a vehicle at your residence, make sure it is prepared to be used to bug out on short order.  That means any tools, extraction equipment, and hardening should be complete.  Any maintenance should be done.  Make sure the vehicle is fully gassed.  Also make sure your spare tire(s) are easily accessible and your tire change equipment is staged if you don’t use run flat tires.

Community:  Now is a good time to coordinate your plans with likeminded individuals in your neighborhood.  Optimally, there are at least a few other people on your block that will be prepared and ready to react if your area is targeted by the mob.  Have a plan to communicate, react, and provide mutual support.  If you are short on manpower, access your prepper network for friends from out of town willing to come into town and establish security at and around your home.  Respective of the rest of the neighborhood, assume they are sympathetic to other causes and even possibly hostile to anyone bearing arms in defense of their homes and family so keep a low profile unless the situation dictates.

Travel/Business:  If you do not live in said high threat area, but must travel through it or work in the immediate area, you must also take precautions.  Make sure you have your bug out bag with you and your primary, alternative, and emergency evacuation plans are made and ready to execute.  Monitor the radio for signs of trouble and have your cell phone with a backup battery ready.  Make sure you dress appropriately and assume you may have to move miles on foot.

Be safe by being prepared.

 

By Guiles Hendrik

July 14, 2016

 

More reading:  http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2013/12/02/overcoming-the-greatest-prepper-weakness-the-individual-versus-the-community-and-a-plan-for-the-future/

How to protect your home from rioting mobs using fire as a weapon

Fire at the US Consulate, Benghazi, Libya. Source: www.aljazeera.com

Fire at the US Consulate, Benghazi, Libya. Source: www.aljazeera.com

As the presidential political landscape takes shape, even a passive observer can tell it is looking like a violent year.  I have been taking careful notes on these developments and it should have you worried if you live in an urban area.  In particular, it has caused me to review preparations to counter fire dangers.  I have seen firsthand how fire can be used as a weapon either intentionally or inadvertently and it has awesome destructive force.  More specifically, in an urban setting, out of control fires can quickly spread and consume entire blocks in firestorms.  Now, think about your home.  How well is it protected and how prepared are you if fire is used directly or indirectly against your home?  More specifically, if the fire department can’t or won’t respond to your home because of riots and anarchy, will you be able to prevent fire from destroying it?

If you are like most people, you never put much thought into the question I pose.  If not, now is the time.  It is especially important if you live in an urban area and your home is connected or a part of other buildings.  Beginning this summer, the radical extremist foot soldiers of the Left are being marshaled for wide spread violence against civilian targets.  Read more

Fire starters for survival: The lighter versus the fire steel

I get asked a lot about what my preferred techniques and tools are for starting a fire. Many items are on the market from old school flint and steel to lighters, matches, and magnesium fire steels that shower your tinder with hot sparks. So for “last minute survival,” what would be my best choice if I could only choose one? Further, why are there so many fire steel “sparker” devices? Are they really that good and should I have one? The good news is I have a definitive answer for you so read on.

My answer is that in a survival situation, your best fire starter is whatever gets the fire reliably started in the quickest and most energy efficient manner. What works is what I carry and that is a simple lighter. In fact, it is one of the three items I never go anywhere without and always have on my person. What I have witnessed in the real world over and over is that for the average person, a simple lighter is by far your best choice. Even when instructing experienced outdoorsman, the lighter is still the choice fire starter and the one that most people see the quickest and most consistent success when starting a fire. This isn’t an accident. The lighter is very convenient, works well, and most people are comfortable operating one even in complete darkness. Lighters are also very forgiving and can allow one to maintain the flame to light larger tinder items that spark type ignition methods are not capable of igniting. Lighters are small and light enough that a person can carry a small backup lighter in a waterproof container in their pack and still always have a primary on their person. Further, you can operate a lighter even when your dexterity is diminished such as during the mid to late stages of hypothermia when getting a fire started immediately is critical to survival. Lighters also can still operate after being wet if allowed to dry out and they can also provide some temporary light. They don’t get soggy and absorb moisture like matches. Finally, lighters are available all over the world and are one of the cheapest fire starting tools available. Read more

Left-Hander Immediate Action for the AR-15: The Owen LIA Method©

If you run an AR style weapon then you should be intimately familiar with the “tap, rack, bang” method of immediate action. When a stoppage occurs, both civilian and military shooters are taught to come off the forearm of the rifle with the non-firing hand and “tap” the magazine, then “rack” the slide, and then sight back in and attempt to fire.  This method works great “if” you are right handed.  However, if you happen to shoot left handed, not only is this method awkward and slow, but the shooter often fails to completely rack the charging handle to the rear and almost always wastes precious time trying to get back on the sites after completing immediate action.  For left handers, there is a better way to conduct immediate action that is lightning fast and far more effective.  I call it the Owen Left-handed Immediate Action Method© or Owen LIA Method© for short.

To conduct the Owen LIA Method© when a stoppage occurs, the left-handed shooter will Read more

Are you prepared to survive an active shooter style terrorist attack?

Not so ironically, I was in the process of writing an entire piece on how Islamic terrorist cells were already operating inside the United States and then the events in California occurred.  The Islamic terrorist attack pre-empted the article’s publishing and unfortunately proved the point I was making so I have since scrapped the article and instead decided to talk directly about preparing for and surviving an active shooter situation.  The events in Paris, Colorado, and California are all examples of active shooter scenarios and mark a deadly change of tactics that now show a bias for soft targets in gun free zones.  This knowledge alone will help you prepare yourself and your family to survive in the event you find yourself confronted and possibly trapped in the midst of an attack.  To survive, consider these simple points.

Preparation is key to a successful outcome whether it be in war, a sports game, or a job interview.  It is no different when it comes to self-preservation in the face of an active shooter.  One must be mentally prepared to fight to the death.  The first time you think about what you would do while at school or work or shopping when shots start ringing out should not be when it actually happens.  Working through the problem sets in your head beforehand will enable you to act much more quickly and decisively under high stress, which is vital for survival.  You should also constantly maintain a state of mild vigilance and never completely ignore your situational awareness.  Take note of where exits are.  Observe the people around you and their dispositions.  Be aware enough to know if something doesn’t seem right or if it is out of place.  If you get a gut feeling something isn’t right, exit immediately and leave the area.  Read more

Food Confiscation: How to protect your food stores and production from government confiscation

Did you know that if you have even a small subsistence farm to grow and or raise food for your family it all could be confiscated. Did you know the government is currently trying to identify and register all food producers to support this goal? Whether you are aware or not, at any time the president deems necessary, the US can now confiscate key resources in the name of national security. In particular, the food you worked hard to grow or raise could be seized. Naturally, it makes no sense to spend your time and money developing a farming capability to insulate your family from hard times only to have it seized. By following a few basic rules, you can help to protect your food supply and ensure those that helped cause the collapse and refused to prepare aren’t fed on your watch.

President Obama also nationalized our nation’s food supply through executive order. (See: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness) This executive order effectively orders the heads of various agencies to include the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to identify critical resources under their purview and develop policies on how to ensure their production and procurement during national emergencies. As with most government regulation, this order on the surface doesn’t sound too draconian. However, the devil is in the details regarding its implementation. In order for the USDA to “secure” the US food supply, it becomes necessary to identify everyone involved in food production. Once identified, then upon order, the USDA can send nationalized goon squads to confiscate any and all “critical resources” deemed necessary for national security. National security may very soon include declaring “preppers” “extremists and depriving them of their stores of food. In this particular case, it could involve your entire crop. Read more

‘Militia’ Redefined

A message from our friends.
Check them out at…
http://officialmilitiagear.com

“Official Militia Gear was created when a group of brothers, sitting around a table after training one late Friday night, were discussing the negative connotations associated with the word “Militia”. We decided that we that needed to find a way to change the stigmas associated with Militias. Our common purpose, core beliefs, brotherhood and unity spawned something we already knew.

The Militia, as defined in the Militia Act of 1903, was to “consist of all able-bodied men age 17-45″ that were not already part of the organized armed forces. With current laws regarding equality, that could technically be expanded to encompass everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, or sex. That means WE ARE ALL THE MILITIA!

Our goal as a brand is to build awareness and get more Americans training! We all own guns, but we should also be proficient with them. Without a skilled professional behind them, our tools are worthless.

Our goal as a company is to carry the best products available! We want you to be able to take our gear, and eventually our guns, into the field with you and put them to use. We will only deliver products we can stand behind. Guns and gear that will hold up to the rigors of heavy, day-to-day use. If its hot, we train. If its cold, we train. If its wet, we train. You shouldn’t have to worry about your gear failing you when you need it the most!

We hope you enjoy this site as we grow. As always, we appreciate you stopping by and look forward to meeting you someday.

For Freedom,

Official Militia Gear Team”

Check them out on Facebook too at: https://www.facebook.com/officialmilitiagear

Survival Gardening: Don’t fight your soil

Don’t fight your soil trying to grow “ideal” crops.  Those of us who have undertaken growing our own food understand intimately how much work it can be.  Soil quality is one issue that consumes a disproportionate amount of time and work to overcome.  Often, we are in possession of land that has less than optimum soil for growing crops.  The generic solution is to build up and work that soil until it is of the consistency and PH desirable.  Achieving this “optimum” gardening soil can be daunting and take years.  Today I want to suggest a different approach that requires far less work and time, but will still yield suitable crop yields.  Read more

LMS Civilian Response Team: Ferguson Conundrum Solved by Community Security

When police get it right.

When police get it right.

I wanted to take a moment to follow up on Last Minute Survival’s Civilian Response Team initiative.  Our initiative proved that not just in Ferguson, but that in communities around the country a well-organized community response is far better protection and security than anything the state can provide.  Not only did our teams respond to crisis areas completely ignored by government agencies, but provided real protection to businesses and residents unable to provide for their own defense.  Further, our teams were able to accomplish this without heavy handed police state tactics.  Read more

Gun Owners: Critical knowledge to protect yourself from gun confiscation

We Will Not Be Disarmed

We Will Not Be Disarmed

If you own a short-barreled rifle (SBR) or other controlled device such as a suppressor or have any registered firearm, this article has critical information for you.  As you should be well aware, more and more states are beginning to confiscate firearms for the smallest of infractions.  In fact, one may only need to say the wrong thing during a doctor’s visit or have you child play with a water pistol in public to trigger the police visiting your house with a warrant to confiscate your firearms.  Furthermore, if you own an SBR or Class III firearm/component, you can be inspected at any time.  To protect yourself and your firearms, every gun owner should follow the practices listed below.  Read more

Bug Out Bags Part II: Washington, DC

Map of Washington DCFor Part II in our series on bug out kits, I will look at some specifics for planning your kit if you happen to live in or around the nation’s capital.  I chose to address DC first, because it is a city where the conditions that trigger bugging out are likely to occur and it offers some very specific challenges that are applicable to many urban centers across the US.  Hopefully, you have had a chance to read my intro post on building your bug out kit.  If not, first review thin information we posted at: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2014/10/13/location-specific-bug-out-bags-part-i/.

Why would you worry about having to bug out if you live in DC? Read more

Location Specific Bug Out Bags: Part I

Getting out of town

Getting out of town

I would estimate that at least once a week I get an email from someone asking me about what is the best bug-out bag.  I have apparently, quite noticeably, avoided posting on this topic because there is a ton of commentary already out there on the subject and it honestly just “depends.”  However, after looking through “images” of various bug out bags on the internet, I realized just how poorly prepared and informed most people are.  From junk gear to ridiculous “essentials,” I reviewed over 100 images and did not see a single kit I would grade as sufficient (of course a smart person won’t post their kit online).  As such, the critical need for good information appears as relevant now as it ever was.  So, in an attempt to inform our readers and answer your questions I want to make this discussion relevant.  To do so, I must get specific to the unique details of each situation.  Therefore, I will speak to kits best suited for urban hubs as well as specialized travel situations like at an airport or taking a cruise, both domestically and abroad, where someone could find themselves trapped during a crisis and needing to escape to survive.  Due to the specificity of this series of posts, I believe our readers will find this information to be some of the most valuable and relevant tips and advice out there on the net.  Further, the kits and my methodology have been proven over and over across the globe not just in combat, but in real life crises and disasters of every sort.  As an intro post on this subject, I will cover the general issues, I see most often, to lay a foundation for follow-on posts detailing location and situation specific kits.

“What is the best bug out bag?” is the first question I normally get.  The answer is simple; it is the one you have with you at the time when you need it.  In both combat and peacetime operations overseas, I repeatedly witnessed the lesson that if it isn’t on you when you need it, you might as well have trashed it before you left.  For this reason, I don’t like to refer to a bug out “bag” because it implies this may be something you don’t have immediately on you and left behind.  Instead, I prefer the term bug out kit.  However, as we will discuss, I do believe in having various preparedness kits that include bags stowed where they are immediately available.

“What should I pack in my kit?” is the second question I normally get.  For starters, always use the highest quality items you can acquire.  All too often I review a kit of a client and find that they have used cheap, throwaway type items.  Ask yourself, how much money is my life worth.  This is the gear you will rely on for survival under the worst case conditions.  Can you afford not to have the best possible gear?  The second part of the answer is put nothing in it you haven’t first thoroughly tested and become proficient with.  In this regard I often find brand new water purifiers, radios, and firearms that have never been used.  When I ask the owner about how to operate the system, I usually get a blank stare and a scramble for the directions.  This is an automatic failure.  Know your gear, use it, and master it.  I don’t care how sexy your gear is, if you don’t know how to properly operate it, it is a liability.

Perhaps ironically, the third question I usually get is something in regards to the viability of their bug out plan.  This tells me immediately that their planning priorities are out of sync and most likely will be flawed.  A deep analysis should be done of your bug out options long before a crisis ensues.  This allows time for proper rehearsals, testing, and modification of said plan under controlled conditions.  Note, in later posts, I will discuss in extremis escape bug out planning.  Further, before you can properly prepare your bug out kit, it is essential to know what you are preparing to do.  For example, if you have to go through subterranean tunnels, headlamps, batteries, and respirators are a must.  However, if your plan takes you through waterways, you better have a way to waterproof your gear and cross bodies of moving water.  Finally, your kit must be fully integrated to support your bug out plan.  For example, if you staged your kit on the top floor of a downtown high rise building where your office is located, but you spend the majority of your day on the road making sales visits, it is probably not going to help you in an emergency.  Nonetheless, in spite of the seemingly endless variables, there are still basic essentials that a prepared person should never leave home without.

This list of items is not prioritized since I consider all items as must have.  A prepared person will not only tailor their wardrobe for functionality, but also in a way that allows them to have all of their essential kit with them at all times.  Optimally, “one is none and two is one.”  I can’t expect you to incur the added weight in many situations for redundant systems, but you should opt for overlap in your gear and planning as much as possible.  To make these posts as useful as possible, I will often reference specific products and gear.  I have personally used all of the items I recommend and know that when employed properly, the gear will work as advertised.  You may read these specific references as product advertising, but I assure you, I have not received any financial gain and am only speaking from my own experience.  These products stand on their own quality and I am simply validating the products work well for the purposes I describe based on my real life use and employment of them.  Further, there are many other products that are equally suitable or perhaps, better for your specific needs.  You need to test and choose what specific items fit “your” needs best.  With this understanding, always have:

  • A means of communication (cell phone/CB/SatPhone/etc.): If you use a cell, make sure you have important numbers memorized or written down because in the event your phone is lost or destroyed, you may still be able to find and use another.  I find that with phones, I can slip a laminated list of emergency numbers inside the battery compartment or protective case.  Make sure you harden your phone so that it is stored in a ruggedized, shock and weatherproof case.  OtterBox and Pelican make a rugged line of cases that have performed well under tough environments.  With all electronic items, you should have a backup power source or spare batteries.  I have used both GOALZERO and Solio commercial products for this purpose successfully.  Both are well engineered as lightweight, packable, ruggedized chargers that are suitable for bugging out.
  • Water:  You cannot last more than a few days without water in the best of conditions.  Your plan must provide for redundant sources of potable water.  Optimally, you will need one gallon of water per day.  However, water is one of the heaviest things you carry so for anyone bugging out on foot, it is reasonable to plan to carry as little as two quarts at a time between water resupply points, but your resupply plan must be sound.  Many people have transitioned to hydration packs such as those made by Camelbak, which are excellent for hydration on the move.  However, I still carry a couple insulated water bottles/canteens.  The wide mouth containers are excellent if you plan on traveling in temperatures that will drop below freezing where the water in the hydration bladder tubes will freeze solid.  Wide mouth bottles are also much easier to clean and thanks to insulation, keep cold things cold and hot things hot.  Finally, depending on the type of purifier you use, a bottle is far easier to use.
  • Purifier:  If you don’t carry all the water you need with you, you must have the means to purify it as you go.  Failure to properly purify water even once could lead to becoming very ill or contracting crippling…even deadly diseases.  In fact, clean water in most of the world is virtually unknown.  Fortunately, today, there are a wide variety of purification technologies to choose from.  However, it is important to get the right information.  In particular, most water “filters” are great for purifying relatively clean water or water only likely to contain bacterial (or larger) contaminates, but do not kill or remove viruses.  Chemical treatments have similar virus “or” bacteria drawbacks and are prone to only being effective in a narrow water temperature band.  As such, I tailor purification equipment to the available water sources in a client’s bug out plan.  Dangerously, some of the worst diseases like Hepatitis and Polio thrive in water polluted with human waste, which is quite common during a disaster or grid down situation and would not be neutralized by typical bacterial purifiers using just a filter such as water purifying straws.  Thus, for most applications, I recommended a redundant system of a pot or cup to boil water when stationary and a SteriPen to use on the move to effectively kill the full spectrum of microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoans).  The application of a few drops of stabilized oxygen can also serve the same purpose.  None of these methods add harmful chemicals or a foul taste to the water.  Further, few other methods effectively deal with all microorganisms across a broad water temperature range.  In special situations where high levels of industrial contaminants are found throughout the region’s water supplies, I will also recommend a water filter that incorporates a carbon filtration cartridge to pre-filter the water and reduce (not eliminate) chemical contaminates.
  • Metal pot or cup and a spoon: Whether you are brewing a cup of coffee or boiling water to reconstitute your meal, you need some type of metal pot or cup and a metal spoon.  Further, when all other means of water purification fail, boiling water is still your best method to kill the things in your water that will make you sick.  When selecting a pot or cup, try to find one that will “nest” with other gear to save space.  Often people will take a very lightweight backpacker’s stove and fuel cartridge and store it inside their pot or store their food in their pot.  Remember, you will need to handle your cup or pot over a fire when its boiling hot so have some type of tool to grab the pot, a handle, or leather glove.  Having a fitted lid will allow you to boil your water faster, keep out debris and bugs, and prevent spills.  Finally, make sure you have a couple of sealable plastic bags with a scrub pad to clean your pot.  As for the spoon, it is a do it all tool for cooking.  Just make sure it is metal so it won’t melt or break.  If you want to shave a couple ounces of weight you can purchase a titanium spoon and pot.  Otherwise, I prefer to use stainless steel over aluminum even though it is heavier.
  • Food:  Depending on your bug out plan, you should plan for a minimum of three days of food without resupply.  A good kit will have both quick trail foods you can keep in your pockets such as energy bars and more substantial meals such as a dinner entrees in your pack.  I have used bars for as long as I can remember to “take the edge off.”  Bars, peanut butter, and trail mix are high energy, easy to carry, and reasonably non-perishable foods that will be your first option if you must stay on the move.  However, as soon as you get a chance to stop, you will need to eat a high calorie meal.  Freeze dried backpacking meals are some of the lightest, most nutritious, and easiest to prepare (just add boiling water), but are also the most expensive.  Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs) require no preparation, but are heavier because they already have water added.  Both are palatable, but I would not class these meals as “good.”  Both options also have long shelf lives, which combine to make them your optimum choices for pre-packed emergency food.  However, which type of meal is best really depends on whether your plan allows for building a fire and boiling water or laying low and eating a cold meal from a bag.
  • An emergency signaling device (whistle, mirror, high visibility panel, flare, etc.):  Most people find a way to totally integrate this into their wardrobe.  For example, attach a whistle to all of your jacket zippers and have an article of clothing that is brightly colored.
  • Ziploc bags:  Carry a few heavy duty freezer bags of various sizes to organize and waterproof your gear.  Later, these can be used for many things such as carry water or gathering food.
  • A weatherproofed fire starter (lighter, matches, fire steel) with some type of weatherproofed tinder (cotton balls dipped in Vaseline are excellent):  This is not a time to prove your woodcraft skills.  If you need a fire, you don’t want to mess around.  Put one lighter in your pocket.  Then have a secondary in a small waterproof case that includes tinder independently sealed.  I have found small Pelican cases for water sports excellent in the regard.  They are tough, float, and remain watertight.  Fire starters are one time where redundancy is a must.
  • A navigation aid (preferably a liquid filled compass):  I have successfully used many different compasses.  Suunto, Brunton, and Silva all make great compasses that can be acquired at a reasonable price.  A lensatic model will be far more accurate for someone skilled in orienteering.   However, don’t waste your money on super small (swallow size) survival compasses unless you plan on hiding it as a POW.  They rarely work well and if it comes down to actually needing to navigate with it beyond finding cardinal directions, you will not be served well.  A GPS and or electronic compass are also very nice, but remember they are never as robust; especially, in an EMP type event.  Nonetheless, I still use a Casio Pathfinder watch with an electronic compass as a tool for acquiring a rapid and reasonably accurate direction and azimuth.  If you have electronic devices, use them while they last because they are excellent navigation tools.  However, they burn batteries quick.  As with cell phones, you will have to plan on some type of recharger that converts renewable energy like solar or thermal to electricity.  Also, be cognizant of the fact that in the wrong hands, your data stored on a GPS device could tip off others to your route and location.  For example, if your GPS has a secret bug out location stored on it and you ditch it once the batteries die, but someone else later finds and charges it, expect visitors.
  • A laminated map of any areas you will be or plan to travel to in an emergency:  At minimum, you should have a road map of your local area obtainable at any gas station.  As mentioned above, a stand-alone GPS or one on your phone is wonderful when working, but plan for a system failure during a crisis.  Also, as with a GPS, be careful not to label your map in a manner that if it is obtained by others, would compromise your bug out plans.  The easiest way to protect your information, if you must label the map, is to tape a piece of clear acetate paper over it and use either a wax pencil or alcohol pen to make your annotations.  In the event of a possible compromise, you can separate the acetate paper from the map making the information useless.
  • A pocket knife and/or multitool:  One has a vast choice of knives and tools to choose from so pick what works for you.  I found it best to carry both.  For quick access and daily use, I carry a sturdy, lightweight, flip-out folder that can be operated with one hand and clipped inside my pocket for the most common tasks.  The blades are between 3-4 inches so are still suitable for self-defense, but are better designed for making short work of packaging, game, and other daily chores like cutting bailing twine.  Great knives in this category can be found for less than $60, but don’t buy a cheap knock off made in China.  The blades are junk.  I also have used multitools made by Leathermen, SOG, and Gerber.  They are all great tools and each offer some special features and tools so evaluate each based on your unique needs.  Further, if space and weight are at a premium, both Gerber and Leatherman have mini-tools that are well-built, very light, and can fit right in your pocket, but still perform most of the functions of their big brothers.  I use them in all of my overseas blow out kits.  Again, don’t buy junk.  It really pays to get a brand name tool that is quality.  I also see a lot of pretty massive bowie knives and exotic fighting knives.  Generally speaking, leave them at home.  For the weight and size, I can carry a pistol and keep it better concealed.  Gil Hibben exotics (no offense Gil, I still love your works of art) normally aren’t truly functional tools.  However, if your daily life demands or allows you to wear a sheaf knife strapped to your belt, then by all means opt for a fixed blade survival knife.  They are tougher, safer, and generally more capable than any flip out folder.  I really like the robustness and simplicity of ESEE, Swamp Rat, Gerber, and Cold Steel fixed blades, but for the price, Mora bushcraft knives from Sweden are exceptionally good survival knives for half what others cost.  Mora knives are also extremely light and easy to pack so you can get away with one in your kit without the big weight penalty of others.  One last note on knives, I often get asked about the old school Swiss Army Knife.  They do many things, but none of them well.  They are still great little tools and I still occasionally use them when I must be in a suit and tie or less “scary” knives are required, but they are not as user friendly as new flip out folders, not as capable or durable as modern multitools, and not suitable as a fighting knife.
  • A flashlight:  Flashlights, like fire starters, are an area where redundancy is key.  I highly recommend all your lights use high intensity LEDs.  LEDs use far less energy and are far more durable than mono-filament bulbs.  For starters, I buy Photo LED keychain lights in bulk.  I place them on all of my zippers and key rings and have them in various LED colors for signaling and illumination.  An LED headlamp is something I always carry and find indispensable for hands free work at night.  I also recommend you carry a pocket size, high intensity “tactical” light.  These are designed to be waterproof and take enormous shock.  Further, they are now very lightweight, put out over 100 lumens (bright), and double as hand held weapons.  I have used Surefire lights for years, and still do on my firearms for their proven reliability, but find they eat batteries quickly and are pricey.  More recently, I have switched to carrying a Fenix PD32 tactical light that is great.  It puts out a blinding 340 lumens, is smaller than most cigars, and has a power adjustment button that allows me to use the brightness I need without burning extra battery life.  For a tight budget, Olight does pretty well in this category too and shouldn’t be cast aside for the more popular brands.
  • A warming layer:  Even in the middle of the summer or in the desert, always have a warming layer to offset cool nights and rainy chills. Choose a garment made from wool or a poly synthetic material that will still insulate even when wet.  Fleece tops with an outer weave that stops wind are excellent.  If you can find a jacket style top with a hood, you will get even more thermal retention out of a small garment.  Any of your major brands such as Marmot, REI, The North Face, and Mountain Hardware have excellent pullovers and jackets to choose from.
  • A rain jacket and pants:  The ability to stay dry is not only necessary for comfort, but for survival.  Many people that die from hypothermia don’t die in the extreme cold, but rather, die in temperatures between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit after becoming wet.  To stay dry, you need both a top and bottom.  It is easy to discount rain pants until you actually have to stay out in the pouring rain and walk some distance.  With only a top, water will soon be running down your soaked pants and puddling in your boots leaving you chilled with badly blistered feet.  Pants don’t take up much space, but are absolutely necessary.  Further, when coupled with a warming layer, the rain gear makes an effective light weight coat and windproof pants that are enough to keep you alive in remarkably cold weather.  Again, all of your major brands of outdoor apparel make affordable, lightweight, raingear that you can pack into a small corner of your pack.
  • Medical kit:  At minimum, your medical kit needs to be designed to sustain life at least until higher level treatment can be obtained and should include a few items to allow for disease isolation.  If your kit is to sustain more than one person, you should increase the numbers of the items contained.  To begin, you need to obtain higher level medical training so that you can correctly and safely use the various medical tools and equipment, which we provide at LMS.  With the proper training, the items in this kit will allow you to treat survivable wounds up to and including gunshots and amputations.  However, you will need to train any other persons involved in your bug out plan thoroughly to use the medical supplies because it should be obvious that if you are the injured person in need of higher level medical care, you will be in no condition to do it.  For treating massive hemorrhaging, carry at least two readily accessible tourniquets, two packages of Celox Gauze, one H-Bandage, a roll of Coban style gauze, and two rolls of ACE wrap.  I prefer the SOF-T design for my tourniquets, which is suitable for rapid, one-handed application.  For splinting a host of breaks and sprains, carry two SAM Splints with two or three cravat bandages and safety pins.  For treating penetrating injuries to the chest, include one HyFin chest seal and two ARS needles for chest decompression will be sufficient.  Burns are hard to treat so carry at least one packet of burn gel and a roll of sterile dry gauze.  Airways are can be very complex to maintain so carry at least one nasal pharyngeal airway, a sterile scalpel, and a roll of cloth medical tape.  For minor cuts and abrasions, carry a tube of anti-microbial cream or ointment and a pack of various size Band-Aids.  For blisters add a section of mole skin.  You should also have a pair of EMT Shears and a set of tweezers.  Make a trauma pill pack (includes powerful antibiotics and pain killers taken immediately after a serious injury) for everyone in your party and then additional medications for diarrhea and nausea, acetaminophen for pain and fever, oral rehydration salts, and ibuprofen for inflammation.  For body substance isolation, carry at least one N95 mask and two sets of properly fitting nitrile exam gloves.
  • Personal hygiene kit:  To stay healthy, you need to keep yourself clean.  Your kit should include a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, a small bar of soap, a small washcloth or handkerchief, hand sanitizer, anti-fungal foot powder, lip balm with sunscreen, Glide anti-chafe stick (if you walk a long way and rub the inside of your thighs raw, you will never question adding this again), and nail clippers (this may seem unnecessary too until you deal with an ingrown nail).
  • Duct Tape:  Don’t leave home without it.
  • Cash:  During a crisis, the power is often out and banks are closed.  This means ATMs and credit card machines will not work.  If any money is still being used for transactions, it will likely be cash.  During long term power outages, it will only be the people with cash that will be able to buy gas, ice, and other needed supplies until they are sold out.  Overseas, it is also cash that can buy your freedom or the emergency airfare out of a collapsing country where the currency has been frozen and is quickly becoming worthless.
  • Bug repellent:  Some would argue this isn’t essential until they are forced to spend the night outside without a good shelter and get eaten alive by mosquitos, biting flies, and ticks.  Good sleep and comfort are essential for long term survival, but only discomforting in the short term.  However, more and more mosquitos and ticks in North America are again carrying debilitating and potentially deadly diseases such as West Nile, Malaria, Dengue Fever, Lyme, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which could be devastating in a survival situation if contracted.  To reduce your exposure and risk, carry a small bottle of repellent.  I find that Eucalyptus Oil serves well as a non-carcinogenic, natural bug repellent.  If you must use DEET, use a formula with a concentration of no more than 30 percent.  Higher concentrations do not keep bugs away any better and are just more toxic.  Be careful of applying DEET to any synthetic or plastic material because it can dissolve it.  Further, do not put DEET directly on your skin or body.  Apply it by holding the article of clothing away from your body and spraying it and then wash your hands if possible.  Ultimately though, your best bet will be dressing appropriately and covering your body.
  • Sunscreen:  Like bug spray, many people would write this off as unnecessary.  If you truly don’t burn or live in an area that gets no sun, then that is valid.  However, for the rest of us, a bad burn is not just possible, but crippling if you suddenly find yourself outdoors all day.  For most of us, we spend most of our time indoors and our skin is not prepared for the sudden exposure to the elements.  Further, for pale skinned people, a very bad sunburn could occur in just 10-15 minutes so application of strong sunblock is critical before we even venture out on a sunny day.  To pack your lotion, find a small travel size squeeze bottle to carry a high SPF, waterproof, sun screen.
  •  A hat:  Prevention of problems is of the utmost importance during a crisis.  A simple item such as a hat not only provides shade for your eyes and can prevent your face from becoming sunburned, but it also is critical for maintaining body heat during cold weather.  It is also handy for protecting your identity in urban environments continuously monitored by surveillance cameras.  For a summer bug out kit, one should always have some type of brimmed hat.  For colder seasons, a knit or synthetic watch cap is essential for warmth.
  • Gloves:  Your hands are critical to your survival.  Protect them like you protect the rest of your body.  It is quite easy to injure your hands in a manner that they could quickly become dangerously infected so take proper precautions.  For example, after a major earthquake, medics were constantly treating patients presenting with deep lacerations to their hands.  The quake had shattered windows and left broken glass everywhere.  Anytime you need to work with your hands you risk cuts, abrasions, bruises, sticks, and blisters.  Blisters are very common if you have to use a shovel or axe for any length of time such as digging food or cutting wood.  If working on a car engine or rapidly firing a weapon you can also badly burn your hands.  Environmental injuries are also possible in the summer from burns and winter from frost bite if you don’t protect your hands.  However, almost all of these injuries are preventable by packing a pair of gloves.  If you live in hotter environments, you can get away with leather work gloves or Mechanix type gloves.  However, for colder environments, you will need to have either mittens or insulated ski type gloves to properly protect your hands.
  • Eye protection:  Vision is your most important sense and must be protected.  Something as simple as a speck of dust can cause immense pain and blindness.  Invest in a good pair of glasses that provide ballistic wrap around protection for your eyes.  Try to find a pair that provides interchangeable clear and tinted lenses such as Oakley’s SI series so you can adjust them for all lighting conditions.
  • Good shoes:  Most people don’t buy shoes thinking about what they would buy if this pair was the last pair they could buy.  Further, they often don’t get dressed for work planning to have to walk for miles in their shoes across rough terrain.  Bugging out in high heels or smooth soled dress shoes is not an option.  You will need to either be wearing the shoes you will bug out in or have a pair with you that you can quickly change into.  Fortunately, there are plenty of great options for shoes that are made tough, will carry you for miles, and still look sharp.  The best options across the board for bugging out tend to be mid-weight hiking boots or heavier backpacking boots made by companies such as Asolo, Salomon, Merrell, Lowa, and Vasque to name just a few.  If you are on a tight budget, you can also find a pair of lightly used combat boots, which today are far better than the combat boots issued just ten years ago.  Go to your local outdoor store to try on and find the pair that fits you best.
  • Clothing:  If you go to work daily in a suit, you need to carry a change of clothes with you.  Your high dollar, custom tailored, designer suit is virtually worthless beyond inconspicuously leaving your office building if you need to bug out.  Find durable clothes that are comfortable enough to walk for miles in while not standing out.  By standing out, I mean that unless your plan absolutely requires you to wear woodland camouflage and look like you robbed the local army surplus, stick with conservative clothes such as some cargo pants and a pullover.  You can wear colors like khaki, brown, and green if you need to be low profile without drawing attention.  Further, even bright colors will soon take on earth tones from dirt and grime if a grid down situation persists.  Ultimately, your clothes just need to be functional and should be suitable for the environment you live in.
  • Any medications or eye glasses:  How many people carry their medications for more than a few days with them?  In the event of a crisis forcing you to bug out, you may not be able to get home to gather your medications.  If you have allergic reactions leading to anaphylaxis, you must have at least 2 doses of epinephrine and diphenhydramine (Benadryl).  Further, how many people that wear contacts to work have their glasses with them?  After just a day without cleaning your contacts, you run the risk of severe eye pain and infection if you are unable to clean them properly.  To seriously prepare to bug out, carry at least three weeks’ worth of medications in your kit and if you wear contacts, have your glasses with you.  Even better, if your glasses can double as ballistic protection, this is one less thing you need to put in your kit.
  • Passport:  If you don’t have one, get one.  Preferably, get a second passport from another country.  Put the passport(s) in a waterproof container and keep on your person.
  • A shelter:  No matter where you are going, you should have some means of providing shelter.  At minimum, two Mylar space blankets and at least 30 feet of strong braided rope should be in any kit.  I recommend two space blankets because they tend to rip at the worst times and are never big enough to cover a full grown man.  Given the ability to carry more weight, keep the above and add a tarp.  With a little practice and good site selection, a tarp is the lightest, most versatile shelter you can carry.  However, if you live in an area with swarms of biting insects and/or lots of rain, it is worth a good night’s sleep and dry gear to carry the additional weight of an ultralight backpacking tent.  REI’s Halfdome backpacking tent and Big Agnes entire line of lightweight tents are definitely great ultralight buys.
  • An insulated sleep pad:  If you are like many, your body is not as young and limber as it used to be.  Having some type of sleep pad provides a significant improvement in comfort.  Unlike others, I recommend carrying slightly more weight if the comfort factor justifies it; especially, in regards to sleep.  When you don’t get good sleep, you feel bad, make bad decisions, are less likely to work well as a team, get sick easier, get chilled easier, and don’t heal as well.  Sleep is all too often underrated by “experts” and critical during a crisis.  As important as providing better sleep, a sleep pad insulates you from the ground.  Even on “warm” nights, body heat conducted to the cooler ground can leave you freezing cold if you lay directly on the ground.  On cold nights, it is essential to avoid freezing to death.  The cheapest sleep pads are closed cell foam pads, which are durable and insulate well.  Ridge Rest makes a proven line of refined closed cell sleep pads.  For more money, you can buy a self-inflating, insulated sleep pad.  Their major selling point is that they pack smaller and are generally more comfortable; however, they can be punctured and can weigh more than simple foam pads.  Therma-a-Rest, Big Agnes, Nemo all make great self-inflating, insulated sleep pads.
  • And a sleeping bag:  Many experts would simply recommend sleeping in your clothes wrapped in a coat or space blanket.  I have done this plenty of times and it sucks.  You don’t sleep well and feel like you were beat with baseball bats.  As noted above, sleep is vital.  If you must travel with the absolute minimum of gear or are skilled at building an improvised camp, this is viable.  For example, in urban areas you can layer cardboard for a sleep pad and find plenty of unoccupied structures to act as your ready built shelter.  In the forest you can lay bows of pine under a rock ledge to act as your sleep pad and shelter.  Otherwise, you can get away with a sleep pad and a light synthetic blanket like the classic military poncho liner.  Anyone that has served in the infantry will be able to tell you about the many nights they spent wrapped in nothing more than their poncho and liner.  I can attest that this arrangement can become very comfortable and works very well for summer nights in the dessert.  However, try this in cold weather or during a rain storm and the fun wears off fast.  Under these circumstances, you must modify your bug out kit.  You will need a good shelter, a well-insulated sleep pad, and a good sleeping bag.  Down bags are going to be your warmest for the weight and pack very well; however, they don’t insulate when wet.  For wet environments, a synthetic bag is the better option even if bulkier and heavier.  Both are going to add weight, but if your conditions require bugging out during cold and or wet weather, you are going to need the extra warmth.  You can find a great bag at any good outfitter such as REI.  I have found Marmot, REI, The North Face, Eddie Bauer First Ascent Series, and Mountain Hardware brand bags all to be outstanding.
  • Binoculars:  A set of small, high quality, ruggedized binoculars or other similar magnifying optic will be extremely valuable.  This item is one that many forget or forego, but is vital to identifying problems and threats before they identify you.  During a bug out situation, it may be necessary to cross areas that could be quite dangerous, gang infested, or otherwise unknown.  Binoculars will allow you to safely observe the area in question from a covered and concealed position until you are confident it is safe to travel or can formulate and alternate movement plan.
  • Additional items: Depending on your budget and ability to carry additional items you may decide to carry include a solar rechargeable multi-ban weather radio, hand warmers, night vision devices, a firearm, ammunition, and cleaning kit, bolt cutters, copies of vital personal documents, and gear specific to your bug out plan such as climbing equipment and rope, and river dry bags.

Now that you know what you need in a basic bug out kit, you can design your “bag” around it.  Make sure you include in your size estimate any additional items you may need or want to carry.  Find a bag that you can comfortably carry the items of your kit all day, but make sure the essential small items such as a cell phone, firestarter, pocket knife, flashlight, compass, cash, warming layer or jacket, food ration, and a water bottle are on your person.  For all day carry, make sure your pack has a comfortable waist belt.  The waist band is key because it is actually where most of the weight is carried.  There is a host of military style or “tactical” bags that suit this purpose well, but I don’t recommend them.  They tend to be heavy, uncomfortable, draw unnecessary attention, and instantly scream military.  Unless that is the image you intend to present, it is best to buy a quality backpacking pack.  Again, going to a store like REI and trying out various packs sized to carry the weight and volume of your gear is critical.  A backpack is sized to the individual and outfitters specialize in finding you the best fit.  These packs are designed to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and are more than capable of supporting your bug out.  REI, Kelty, Gregory, and Osprey are brands that make a variety of excellent packs that will more than suit your purposes.

Where you store your bug out kit is ultimately specific to you, but it must be close by and readily accessible at all times.  Another option to constantly transitioning your kit from house to vehicle to place of work is to pack multiple mirrored bug out kits and pre-stage them in key areas.  I practice this myself and keep identical bags packed in every vehicle, residence, and place of work I regularly use.  This also allows me to move light, react quickly, and not draw a lot of attention.  When I deviate from my normal patterns, I make sure I carry my “jump” bag with me so that I never have to remove my pre-staged bags.  If you can build your preps to this level, you will be far better prepared in the event of a crisis situation.

Today’s post covered a lot of information.  For the beginner, this can be overwhelming.  For the seasoned prepper, this information should have helped them refine their plans and gear.  If you are serious about preparing your bug out plan and ensuring your kit is ready for the worst, contact us at Last Minute Survival for expert and discrete consulting.  We can walk you through building a resilient bug out plan or evaluate your current plan, custom tailor your kit, and teach you the hard survival skills you need to safely evacuate you and your family from any situation.

By Guiles Hendrick

October 12, 2014

Trauma Medicine for Massive Hemorrhage: Combat Gauze versus Celox

If you are looking to update your medical kit with effective and proven products, consider adding hemostatic agents. Over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan trauma medicine has markedly improved with hemostatic gauze being one major advance. These clotting agents have proven so effective; they are standard in every medic’s trauma kit on the battlefield. As such, it is worth comparing the two most popular brands sold under the names QuickClot®Combat Gauze and Celox.
First of all, one should understand that clotting agents have been around for some time and have undergone an evolution in both composition and the mechanisms by which they work. Both Combat Gauze and Celox are the current result of this evolution and are far safer and more effective than their earlier ancestors. For example, the original QuickClot® essentially cauterized a wound with heat from a chemical reaction, which caused serious burns and contraindications. As a result, it was removed from medical kits and replaced with newer and better hemostatic agents. Today’s products are impregnated with hemostatic agents that facilitate blood clotting by complimenting or enhancing the body’s natural clotting faculties to stop massive hemorrhaging. Both Combat Gauze and Celox do this well, but which is best? Both also are used broadly by military, law enforcement, and rescue units around the world. However, these products are not cheap so if one is to invest in only one product, I recommend Celox for your medical kit.
Hemostatic agents in Combat Gauze and Celox allow for the formation of much larger clots than normal, which are more stable and more difficult to dislodge. This is critical for effective stoppage of heavy bleeding, especially, when a patient will have to be moved and clots could be jarred loose such as on the battle field. Further, both require the gauze to be used with constant firm pressure to be effective and allow the clot to form. Both are essentially used in the same manner. The specific location of the massive hemorrhage is located in the wound (usually a severed artery or large vein), is quickly wiped clean so that the wound location is identifiable, and the gauze is placed firmly and directly upon the bleed. For penetrating wounds such as gunshots, the cavity is then packed tightly being careful to maintain constant pressure on the bleed location while completely filling the void with tightly packed gauze. The packing is then held in place with a compression dressing. The gauze should be so tightly packed that it forms a gauze golf ball in the wound channel. The critical aspect for effective application of both products relies on their correct placement on the bleeding vein or artery and the maintenance of constant pressure until the bleeding stops. It is also worth noting that plain sterile gauze packed in a wound in the same manner using direct pressure is also still highly effective for stopping hemorrhaging.
Even though both products essentially are used the same way, Celox has notable advantages. First, in tests and operational employment, the Celox simply worked better at stopping serious bleeds. When similar wounds were unpacked in a surgical setting, it was clear from the degree of blood saturation that far less blood was lost in a patient when Celox was used. Specifically, in like wounds that severed the femoral artery of patients, Combat Gauze was unpacked and laid out showing over 12 yards of blood saturation whereas Celox showed approximately 12 inches before the gauze was blood free. This large difference could mean the difference between decompensated shock induced by severe blood loss and then the death of a patient or the complete prevention of hemorrhagic shock and survival of the patient. Further, the thicker Z-Folded Celox was much easier to handle and pack into wounds than the old school style of rolled Combat Gauze. Nothing is worse than having an entire roll of sterile gauze unwind into the muck on the ground just as you are trying to pack the wound of a severely hemorrhaging patient.
Evaluations of wounds treated with Celox and Combat Gauze also revealed that the clots formed by Celox tended to be larger and more stable. This may be due to how Celox and Combat Gauze clot. With Celox, the clotting agents are inherent in the compound so that they react instantly when they come into contact with blood. However, Combat Gauze relies upon concentrating the body’s own clotting agents (platelets) as they contact, accumulate, and react with the gauze. This is problematic since often, as a body enters shock from blood loss; the body naturally shunts blood flow from the core preventing the critical clotting compounds from reaching the wound site and the gauze. Further, when intravenous fluids are given without the addition of platelets, it reduces the effectiveness of Combat Gauze’s clotting mechanism because the fluid dilutes the blood’s natural clotting compounds.
Celox and Combat Gauze both help blood to begin clotting, but Celox is designed to work across a much broader range of patients. Specifically, Combat Gauze is designed to work with the narrow body chemistry of healthy fighting age patients. Celox on the other hand is designed to be effective across a much greater range of patients to include geriatric, those taking medications, and those taking blood thinners. This alone makes Celox a better “civilian” choice where it is more likely the patient will not fit into the perfect physically fit specimen of a fighting age soldier. In short, Celox employs a hemostatic agent that applies to everyone, whereas Combat Gauze is only designed to be effective in healthy fighting age soldiers.
In the recent DoD comparative study, Celox Gauze had the least overall blood loss, the highest survival and the highest overall hemostasis of all products. This study corresponds to the empiric evidence that I have gathered over the years using a variety of these products operationally.

By Guiles Hendrik
July 8, 2014
All rights reserved.

Overcoming the Greatest Prepper Weakness: The Individual versus the Community and a Plan for the Future

One of the greatest assets to preppers is that they are self-reliant and able to independently operate.  However, it is also their greatest vulnerability.  No matter how tough, how well-trained, how well armed, or how well prepared an individual is, there is only so much one person can do.  Numbers matter.  As an individual, you must eventually sleep and can’t stand guard indefinitely.  You can only be at one place at one time.  A second set of hands on nearly any labor intensive task is better than one.  If sick or injured it is very difficult or impossible to provide prolonged self-aid or surgery.  If directly confronted by an organized and numerically superior force, the odds are decidedly against the individual.  You can only accurately fire one weapon, at one target, at one time.  Further, your best odds of survival if attacked by superior numbers would be to try and escape, but even then it is pretty easy for a larger number of pursuers to head you off and corner even the craftiest of evaders.  As such, for any realistic, long term survival plan, one must build a prepared community.  A community is the foundational bedrock of a society and a nation.  The community is where the individual can truly make a difference and build a better life.  Today’s article is my appeal to you to take action to improve your life, to create new and better communities, and to take back our nation.  I will provide each of you with the template to not just resist, but triumph.  Each one of us has the ability to change the status quo in the present day and no longer be at the mercy of the state, which at one time, represented us as citizens.  Make no mistake, survival is a long term struggle against both nature and tyranny that comes with sacrifice, but we can overcome the odds best through collective action.

Man is neither designed nor equipped to be a solitary animal.  Individually we are weak and vulnerable and would have long ago become easy prey and gone extinct if it wasn’t for banning together.  Since the earliest prehistoric times, man has grouped together in bands and tribes to survive.  Modern man is no exception as we live today more interconnected than ever.  This interdependency has allowed us to specialize, to survive, and to even have leisure.  Man was designed with neither the long claws and fangs of apex predators nor the acute hearing and swift speed of prey.  We don’t come with fur to protect us from temperature extremes and have long since lost our immunities to many parasites commonly found in food and water.  Man’s greatest asset, his mind, combined with strength in numbers has demonstrated that he can overcome nearly any extreme and challenge.  This maxim is as crucial for survival today as it was ten thousand years ago when small bands of Ice Age hunters and gathers grouped together to fend off ferocious predators and take down massive game.

Communities and villages sprang to existence out of the mutual need for security and distribution of labor.  Someone always needed to tend to the fire and be on the watch for predators so that others could safely sleep.  While some hunted the others cooked and farmed.  In modern times, these families became bands, then tribes, and then nations.  As nations grew, man’s greatest threat ceased to be lions and tigers, but his fellow man.  Nation state violence led to the need to collectively organize in even greater numbers or risk being numerically overwhelmed by a neighboring nation.  Internally, the rise of nations led to the rise of brutal tyrants and the further need organize the masses in resistance in order to escape slavery and death at the hands of the king’s mercenaries.

Today, the modern prepper faces all of these challenges.  At the most local level, the prepper must find a way to accomplish the daily tasks of a subsistence existence.  The chores of simply acquiring and preparing food and water, staying warm or cool, maintaining shelter, and creating or fixing the means to accomplish the former are enough to rapidly overwhelm anyone.  However, the prepper must also provide for his common security against potentially large bands of hostile people and what appears to be an increasingly hostile government.  Individually, or at least as a family, it is certainly possible to scratch out a subsistence level of existence as long as you are never confronted by a hostile group.  However, it is simply not realistic to believe that one could independently sustain for the long term when faced with hungry bands of violent, armed, thugs or a hostile, state sponsored tyranny.

As previously stated, I don’t care how prepared you “think” you are; if you are trying to subsist with just a handful of people, an organized group of basically trained thugs with a proclivity for violence will quickly overwhelm you and certainly seize whatever preps you have stored.  This is not a situation of maybe, but an absolute.  The preppers that fail to learn and internalize this are living in a fantasy world.  Preppers that ardently stick to their small groups in remote and isolated areas only delay the inevitable.  This paradigm may be best illustrated by how law enforcement represents a small percentage of the population, but effectively controls the masses by being able to quickly mass and achieve local (tactical) numerical superiority against any resistance.  Individually, there have been literally millions of people arrested that were tough, prepared, and well-armed, but I can’t think of any in recent memory that have successfully fought off a determined attempt at seizure by the police.  Sadly, government has never proven capable of leaving individuals alone and hungry mobs have never shown the proclivity to take the moral high road and starve when the option to loot for food existed.  Eventually, preppers that failed to organize BEFORE a collapse or crisis and build communities will each be independently identified, targeted, and wiped out by thugs or hostile government forces.

The solution to this is not a new one.  It is as old as mankind.  Like minded individuals will once again need to band together to collectively survive.  This is and will be an essential, critical, FACT that preppers must accept.  Preppers need not build communes or cede their independence, but do need to build communities.  These communities need to be aware, prepared, and organized in a manner that they are effectively self-sustaining and self-governing.  It is equally essential to also build the population numbers in a concentrated manner that will change the voting demographic so that elected representatives will not only properly represent, but be of the same mindset of their constituents.  We have seen some of these successes in Montana and Idaho, but are failing to coalesce in an organized manner nationwide.  Only by achieving, at minimum, at first, tactical numerical superiority in targeted regions will free, independent, liberty minded individuals be able to live a life of freedom with liberty in something more than their imagination.

Communities built around self-sustainment are by their very nature resilient to natural disasters, grid failures, and crime.  By locally producing food, water, and power a community can almost completely eliminate the major vulnerabilities of today’s societies.  The society is healthier, happier, and more connected.  By once again localizing industry, the community can build, fabricate, or repair nearly anything and have a vibrant localized economy.  Further, by having a large pool of like-minded citizens, the community can fend off both political and physical attacks.  One threat can be defeated through the ballot box and the other through tactical numerical “superiority.”  To illustrate this point, 100 groups of eight preppers could disperse across the 50 states (two groups to a state).  These small groups have zero political influence or protection and could be rounded up and wiped out in a single night by either hostile thugs or government forces operating in groups so small local law enforcement could field them.  However, if you combined these groups in one area, you would have the local tactical strength of upwards of 800 people.  This is a sufficient number to not just swing, but control elections in smaller districts, install a like-minded sheriff and deputies, and present a unified defense requiring at least a battalion of military regulars to engage with any chance of success.  Imagine getting back to a time and place where instead of fearing police, the local police actually acted to “defend” the locals and keep the peace with the full weight of the people and the law behind it.  Imagine a place where you could walk down the street and not be filmed, photographed, tracked, and fined for violating one of a seemingly infinite number of overbearing regulations.  Now consider the literally millions of like-minded “preppers” that exist in the cities, towns, and the rural expanses of America.  If the media is to be believed, tens of millions of these people are already organized under the nebulous title “Tea Party.”  By concentrating these numbers we not only make being prepared and living free mainstream, but the lifestyle sells itself.  Don’t waste your strength and try to fight the numbers in states like California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.  Let those states wallow in their own filth, debt, and ever increasing taxes.  Instead, take charge and opt out of them.  Stop paying into those defunct systems and move away.  Concentrate in places where we can control the elections, the schools, the local law enforcement, and ultimately empower our way of life.  To use the cliché, “if we build it, people will come” is justified.  As we set ourselves apart and demonstrate a workable better life, more and more people will turn away from their current unsustainable, rat race existences and seek something better for themselves and their families.  People want this and are thirsty for leadership, but to date, few have stepped up.  If we lead, the masses will follow.

The model outlined above is feasible, suitable, and something that could be quickly accomplished in the near term.  Much debate surrounds the “optimum” prepper retreat location, but it is unnecessary because few states truly fit the bill.  Further, most of the debate is academic because true survival will not come from hiding and hoping tyranny will overlook you.  Instead, we must recognize “prepping” is not just an action but a way of life that must be protected and nurtured.  To truly survive, we must come to terms with reality and engage in an effective course of action with a chance of long term success.  We must change the debate and public perception of preppers.  We need to show the public we are absolutely no threat, peaceful, and reframe ourselves as a persecuted minority requiring protection, much like the Amish or Mennonites.  To effect this we must concentrate our numbers in specific localities.  The best prepper locations to concentrate at first will be areas of low population density, but ample natural resources.  Further, it is only reasonable to first target locations within states that predominately tend to support freedom, liberty, and independence or in short, support a prepared lifestyle and are not burdensome with respect to taxes and regulation.  This means that an ideal state probably will not have a large, leftwing, urban center like New York City, Philadelphia, or San Francisco that disproportionately biases the elections.  That immediately rules out states such as California, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York.  You would also want to avoid locations with staggering debt or other lingering problems that would be materially detrimental to building new communities.  Out west, states such as Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming offer the best options to concentrate.  Idaho has long been recognized as an ideal redoubt and is already demonstrating that this model works.  Not only have local and state leaders been elected, but representatives at the federal level have been elected and are now insulating Idaho from many of the problems facing the rest of the nation.  In fact, businesses are also moving to Idaho.  Gun and ammunition manufacturers in particular have found Idaho a great place to set up business.

In the east, West Virginia may well be on its way to becoming the prepper redoubt of choice.  West Virginia’s topography is well suited to the defense and has a very low population density.  There are entire areas of West Virginia that have zero electronic emissions.  The federal government has also recognized West Virginia’s suitability for surviving an apocalypse and has built various “hollow mountains” throughout the state.  Unlike many other potential redoubts, West Virginia is a realistic location to bug out to from most areas along the East Coast and is not prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or large earthquakes.  It is also well protected from potential nuclear blasts and is not seen as a high value target for terrorists.  Further, West Virginia really doesn’t have any major metropolitan areas that will spill millions of refugees into the surrounding hinterlands.  The climate is very suitable for growing a variety of crops and the state is rich in natural resources that range from salt and coal to timber and natural gas.  West Virginia tends to not be heavy on regulation and the people are generally conservative minded and live already as semi-preppers.  West Virginia also has the potential to be a leader in alternate energy.  It has endless ridgelines for wind and solar power as well as many streams and rivers suitable for various scale hydroelectric systems.  West Virginia is an outdoorsman’s paradise, yet is still located close enough to eastern population centers that it will have increasing influence.  Given the low population density and the affordability of homes and property in West Virginia, it would be relatively easy for preppers in the mid-Atlantic to relocate and take up residence in a few targeted counties such as Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Grant counties in the eastern panhandle.  By concentrating in these counties and gaining a strong percentage of the voting block, like minded preppers could essentially establish a food hold in the heart of the mid-Atlantic and establish their own model community.  Note that it is not necessary to even gain a voting “majority” in these counties because the influence of a well-organized and active electorate will be more than sufficient to sway, skew, and control any local election.  Further, voter turnout; especially at the local level and during primaries, tends to be extremely low so it would be possible to not only oust incumbents on tickets, but stack the local and state governments with our candidates.  From those initial gains, we could fundamentally change how local and then state governments operate in the near term and demonstrate a better way of living to the nation.  Ultimately, we will fundamentally change the thinking nationwide and to this end, achieve our goals of independence, liberty, and sustainable living.

I challenge each of you today to disseminate this message as widely as possible, to as many people as possible.  Sow the seeds of liberty and freedom again in people’s minds.  Let them know that they don’t have to accept the status quo and can change their situation now.  There are no longer empty frontiers to escape to and waiting till the SHTF will be too late.  We must pick our ground wisely now so that we can stand our ground later.  By doing something as simple as moving your state of residence (even if that doesn’t mean you physically move) so that you can (and must) vote in Idaho or West Virginia, we absolutely can improve our lives and the lives of others.  Follow my lead and begin the process of stacking the deck in these two states where as little as a hundred votes can control the officials elected at the local and state level.  Idaho and West Virginia are not the end, but the beginning.  From these two localities we can expand our communities to the surrounding regions and states, but we have to begin somewhere and we have to begin now.

 

By Guiles Hendrik

November 3, 2013

All rights reserved.

Wind Call, An Introduction

Getting rounds on target while the wind works against you is not the easiest of challenges to overcome. Doing so becomes more difficult when using a relatively small cartridge like the Remington .223 or its military brother, the 5.56 mm NATO. Fortunately, this author has spent hundreds of rounds and countless hours figuring out the basics of dealing with wind and will share that info below.  The dark art and science of compensating for the effects of wind can be extremely complex and is full of opinions along with facts. To simplify this complexity, the 5.56 mm NATO AR-15 will be our reference firearm.

The first step in overcoming the effects of wind is to learn about your chosen ammunition and how your firearm works with it. For example, 55 grain .223 caliber Remington and PMC ammo will will perform differently even if fired through the same rifle. This difference has many causes, fortunately we don’t need to jump into that tar pit. The ‘American Eagle’ 62 grain 5.56 mm cartridge will be our reference cartridge.
Learning how this ammo and firearm work together has been simplified thanks to digital ballistic calculators. My favorite calculator is run by Hornady and is free to use on their website. This calculator, and others like it, will ask you for data such as your ammunitions muzzle velocity, ballistic coefficient, and bullet weight. Hairs can also be split for those of us desiring greater precision. In this case one can input data like wind speed, temperature, altitude, barometric pressure, blood type, SSN, and more.

Providing a calculator with enough info will result in a chart or list detailing ammunition performance and how much effect the wind has on it at ‘x’ distance.
The calculator will NOT read ‘at 500 meters the wind will blow your bullet 11 inches left or right.’ It will read something similar to ‘500 meters…5 mph wind…3.75 MOA.’
This means that a target 500 meters away with a 5 mph wind perpendicular to your firing position/target line will require an adjustment of 3.75 minute of angle.

Readers who survived Marine boot camp may recall their range data book. This small green book took the mysterious “MOA/minute of angle” data and translated it into “click’s” on the M16 windage knob. The term ‘click’ is used because turning the windage knob produces audible clicks. Converting from MOA to clicks on iron sights requires simple division, see your rifle/carbine manual to find its MOA per click.
In no time you will have a personalized chart worth it’s weight in gold. The example below shows how many clicks of windage are required to compensate for bullet deflection over various distances for a specific ammo/firearm combination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the easy part, estimating wind speed.  This part is so easy that it will only cost you a few hundred rounds and countless days at the range, yay! Reading this wont do much for you in terms of learning how to ‘call’ or ‘dope’ wind speed. You must go out and practice to get anywhere, but here are a few pointers:

A 3 MPH wind will be hardly felt on your face
A 5 MPH wind will be noticeable on your face and leaves will rustle
A 10 MPH wind will kick up dust
A 100 MPH wind will toss you around, stop shooting, go home.
*Beware, wind speed at the shooting position may not equal wind speed down range, it’s only a starting point.

Take a shot at calling the wind.  It’s safe to assume that you will overestimate the wind at first. Next find the intersection of your target distance and wind velocity on your snazzy little chart.  If the wind is perpendicular between you and your target (from 3 or 9 o’clock) then apply the number of clicks indicated, this is called a ‘full value’ wind. If the wind is blowing at a 45 degree angle (from the front or rear) then apply half the stated clicks, this is called a ‘half value’ wind. A wind direction that is head on is called a ‘head wind’, duh. A wind direction from behind you towards the target is called a ‘tail wind’.  Head and tail winds require no windage and elevation corrections for iron sight AR shooters at 500 m or less, unless you want to be extremely technical.  What about a wind direction that is less than 45 degrees but more than a head or tail wind? One can treat them as 1/4 values, but can also ignore them if using AR irons as they prohibit long range shooting where this would be an issue. These finer points will affect the long range (aka 1000 meter) shooter, more on that later.

This article is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’.  One needs a solid grasp of basic topics like trigger control, natural point of aim, sight alignment, zeroing, focusing, and more to achieve good results.  Getting lead on a 12×20 inch target at 500 meters against wind with iron sights is easy, if you practice. Grab a buddy, head to the range, and be safe.

 

Gear Review: SOGFARI 18” Machete

Machetes come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, which adapt the tool for a variety of chopping and cutting tasks.  In particular, machetes are so well adapted for tropical environments that they are considered a necessary tool for basic survival.  Being that machetes are used worldwide, I thought I would try out a modern design in the woodlands of North America while hunting in the mountains.

I first had to select a machete.  I was able to quickly find a host of different machetes for sale ranging from the very basic to the exotic at a local outdoors store.  At the most basic, there were plain steel blades with wood handles.  At the other extreme, there were machetes targeting what appeared to be the zombie apocalypse crowd, which sported a rubber neon green handle and radical blade angles.  I chose a model that seemed to follow the traditional machete design with an 18” blade, but incorporated modern technologies like a black powder coated steel blade, saw teeth along the top edge, a ballistic nylon sheath, and an ergonomic Kraton handle.  The brand I purchased was a SOGFARI 18” Machete.  SOG’s website lists this machete for $33.00, which seemed reasonable for what the tool appeared to offer.

The tool felt comfortable in my hand and came with a nice edge so I had high expectations for it going into the wilderness.  Once afield, I first ran it through some tests on tasks considered standard for any machete.  I used it to cut back dense undergrowth along a river bank to open a path and then to attack high grass obstructing a 100 yard rifle range used to check zeros on our hunting rifles.  I found that for the task of clearing brush it performed as one would expect.  I was able to get into tight areas and still swing with enough force to completely cleave most brush up to about an inch in diameter.  It handled thicker green brush with a few axe like chops.  However, when paired against dead, woody brush, the machete seemed to almost bounce or stick, but not chop cleanly.  Its performance on high grass was at best par.  It was too short to cut the grass without being perpetually bent over and it tended to push the grass (even with a factory sharp edge) rather than cut it.  A handheld weed-whacker would be a far superior tool for this task.  On a positive note, I did find the handle to provide a comfortable and secure grip when swinging the tool.  Nonetheless, I would always recommend wearing gloves when using a machete.  The SOGFARI’s performance overall on standard machete tasks such as cutting through green brush, vines, and foliage appears to be par.  I certainly wasn’t overwhelmed, but it managed the basic cutting chores.

After the initial machete specific field trials, I decided to test the machete against the forests of North America.  Although the machete is essential in the tropics, I was curious to see if that usefulness was as applicable for general tasks confronted by most Americans.  As one might have expected, it was of limited use.  I was able to cut kindling for a fire, but found it of next to no use trying to chop any dry, dead wood thicker than a couple inches.  The blade was simply too thin and light even at 18 inches.
A machete made from thicker steel with a heavier belly may have proved more useful, but would still be far inferior to a good axe for these type chores.   I also used it to try and cut some roots and dig out a small fire pit.  The rocks in the ground were brutal on the blade even though it performed okay against green roots.  For prying tasks it was near useless and too weak.  The softer steel bent far too easily.  I found that there were at best very few realistic tasks for the saw along the spine of the blade and its cutting performance was subpar.  If anything, the saw proved to be a liability because it was all but destroyed if you attempted to hammer the machete’s blade through a log to split the wood and the teeth tended to snag on any piece of fabric within a foot of it.  However, I did find that it was suitable for rapid construction of a lean-two shelter in a pine forest.  I was able to cut green pine boughs rapidly from larger limbs to use as bedding and thatching for a roof with relative ease.  Overall though, the machete was not suited for woodsmen tasks in the North.  When weight matters, it was not a tool worth carrying.

The final battery of tests I performed was on actual animal flesh and bone.  I wanted to see if it was viable to gut, skin, and butcher large game with a sharp machete.  Consequently, it was also a good test of the machete’s potential as a close combat weapon.  After making a few attempts to field dress a deer with the machete, I gave up and just used my hunting knife.  Although I had low expectations for this and would say it is “possible,” a machete is just too big, dull, and unwieldy to make fine cuts through hide while not nicking the intestines or the stomach and causing a huge mess and potentially ruining good meat.  For skinning, I attempted to use the belly of the machete and found that it would be viable in a pinch, but again, definitely not the preferred tool.  The machete is simply too long and unwieldy to follow the angles of the meat.  In fact, using the machete was only slightly more helpful than simply pulling the hide off by hand.  My deep bellied hunting knife performed far better on this task.  Next, I used it to quarter the deer.  The blade did slice through the large muscle reasonably well, but failed to cut through the bones.  When I attempted to chop through the leg, the steel in the blade proved sub-standard.  The chop actually bent a quarter size divot into the blade perfectly around the deer’s femur as if the blade was made of clay.  The manufacturer claims to have used high quality 3Cr13 steel in the blade, but the facts on the ground suggest weak, recycled, bumper steel.  The final test for butchering was to attempt to remove the head from the deer carcass.  The machete was able to sever the head nearly completely in one strong chop.  In this regard, it would definitely prove to be a vicious weapon against any attacker, but could only be used to slash and chop.  The machete offers little to no stabbing qualities.

Overall, unless one is intending to use the machete as a defensive weapon or for cutting some small, green vegetation in tight quarters, I would not include it in my kit.  The SOGFARI looked good in its packaging, but proved to be subpar in nearly every task I would conceivably use it for in the woodlands of North America.  I also found it subpar in respect to other machetes I have used in the past.  To date, the best machetes that I have used were of good quality carbon steel with a thicker spine and deep belly, which shifts the weight and balance of the blade toward the end.  For North America, the SOGFARI is just above useless and the steel is junk.  I was disappointed in SOG after testing this tool and lost plenty of respect for what used to be a company that produced very high end edged implements.  In response to those who would argue that I didn’t use a machete for what it’s intended, I would agree.  I did not test it in a tropical jungle.  Instead, I tested what has proved to be a very useful tropical tool in an environment I am likely to operate in against tasks I routinely need to accomplish.  In this regard, the traditional tools of woodsman such as an axe and deep bellied hunting knife proved far superior to the range of tasks “I” needed to accomplish.  The “essential” tool of the jungle is neither designed for, nor adequate for the heavier chopping tasks one routinely faces in northern woodlands.

Manufacturer’s website: http://www.sogknives.com/sogfari-machete-18-black-powder-coated-straight-and-saw-back.html

By Guiles Hendrik

November 2, 2013

All rights reserved.

 

Sgt G’s Story Time: SHTF Marksmanship, Pt. 1

America fell apart after the October 2013 Debt Ceiling/Obamacare fiasco.  The politicos ‘running’ the country agreed-to-disagree and inevitably kicked off the national default.  The pain of endless magical government money disappearing had no ripple effect, it was more like all the dominoes falling down at the same time.  Thousands of honorably disabled military veterans, some just home from Afghanistan, took the hit straight to the gut when the VA ran out of money.  Many of these vets depended on these hard earned monthly checks from the VA to keep up with bills and keep themselves and family fed.  Poverty quickly moved their way.  Thousands of vets using the GI Bill to pay for college also got the ‘sorry but…’ letter from the VA as they too became victims of their government’s inability to do anything efficiently, responsibly, and honestly.  Welfare recipients were not exempt from the economic crash.  Honest blue collar workers down on their luck and barely making ends meet lost the financial aid, they knew nothing more than to take it on the chin and keep pressing on.  The equivalent of career politicians in the welfare receipt world suffered the most from the demise of welfare.  These individuals, able bodied masters of ripping off state and federal governments, depended on welfare for every aspect of their lives.  Food stamps, free medical coverage, etc., they had it all but lied to get it.  Ms. Karma struck with a vengeance as they would soon become very hungry able bodied individuals with no free rides to keep them alive.

Our imaginary friend Kenny was around for all this drama.  He was smarter than the average bear and relatively prepared for a short term nationwide crash.  Days spent on YouTube guided his emergency preparedness buys like food and water storage, ammunition and firearms, and barter items.  Unfortunately, he was never able to buy common sense and sound judgment, especially when it came to using his ‘Prepper/SHTF’ toys.  Kenny saw the news coverage of big city riots where hungry maddened people took to the streets in a Rodney King-esque fashion.  He understood their looting of grocery stores as they were not OK with starving.  Eventually the looting grew to include murder and rape on a grand scale.  The bloody snowball was going wild and rolling out of big cities into not so big cities.  Martial law by way of the military became the norm but fell apart when troops could not be paid and decided to head home to care for their families.  Organized banditry was the new threat to be fought and Kenny was part of fighting the good fight.  Refugee camps sprang up along the US-101 north of LA (aka: Hell-A) as the thuggery got worse in the city.  The better organized gangs occasionally raided these camps a la Viking with typical raping, pillaging, and burning.  Although a citizens defense force was forming to keep the criminals at bay, Kenny preferred to play the lone-wolf card.  Bad idea.

So there goes our dumb friend Kenny into the beautiful rolling hills of southern California in search of ‘bad guys’.  Along the way he befriends a fellow lone-wolfette, Ms. Stone of the ‘Green Hill Rangers’.  Stone eventually dropped out of the operation due to unseen ‘blisters’ on her feet, “I just know they are there” she said. Her exodus had nothing to do with his creepy stares and insistence on walking behind her while they hiked uphill.  As a parting gift, Stone gave our idiot hero Kenny a scoped SR-25 rifle, magazine inserted and ready to rock and roll.  Now he would really ‘bring it’ to the marauding scum that prowled what he called the “Central Southern Highlands.” The next morning Kenny rolled out of his 13 pound modular sleeping system and got ready for breakfast.  From his half-ton Alice pack he produced a bag of powdered eggs, some pancake mix, a bottle of maple syrup, a cigar, a cast iron skillet, and a propane stove.  This guy traveled in style.  His stove didn’t work so he fired up some twigs and branches to get his breakfast cooked, bad idea.  Hours later he got back to work and found what he was looking for, one platoon sized unit of motorized thugs stretching their legs just off the US-101.  From behind absolutely no cover and concealment, Kenny flipped the SR-25 to fire and pulled the trigger on his nearest target.  He heard a quick ‘pfffft‘ sound and saw no effects on target.  He thought, “Ms. Stone said nothing of an internal silencer?”.  He sat up for a second shot at his 500 m target and was annoyed at the wind pushing dust into his side and rustling leaves.  ‘Pfft‘ again, then the lack of recoil woke him up. He removed the magazine and saw a white pellet near the top.  He cried, “DAMN YOU GREEN HILL AIRSOFTERS!”  His loud objection drew the attention and incoming fire from his would be targets.  Kenny had one good thing going for him, a Colt 6920 Carbine.  The 5.56mm firearm was nearly stretched to its limits at 500 m but more than capable of accurately engaging his targets.  Kenny chambered a green tip round, set his rear sight elevation to 5, and began engaging his targets.  He had no idea that his centered rear windage was allowing the wind to move his rounds almost one foot to the left of his targets.  Three magazines worth of zero hits later and Kenny was toast.  The thugs had common sense and bounded towards him at a steady pace.  He was eventually suppressed by their fire and one well aimed AK did him in.

Slowly, Kenny’s soul drifted up from his cooling lifeless body.  He noted the following:

“Why was I carrying so much unnecessary gear?”

“Why don’t my clothes match the terrain?”

“Why did I shoot from an unconcealed/uncovered position?”

“Why did that cute girl give me an airsoft gun?!”

“Why did I miss?”

 

Kenny’s last drifting soul question is what we will cover in our next post.  One reason why Kenny missed was due to his lack of a wind call.  An accurate wind call is one of the factors that separate hits from misses.  Our dearest Kenny would have had a fighting chance if he applied the fundamentals of marksmanship.  Don’t be fooled by anyone that tells you wind can’t be beat.  If a platoon of Marine recruits can punch holes in a man sized target at 500 meters against wind, so can you!  Put yourself in Kenny’s shoes.  What you have done about your surprise SR-25 airsoft rifle?  Best comment gets a t-shirt courtesy of Guiles Hendrick.

 

Sgt. G, LMS Contributor

All Rights Reserved

Improvised Firearms Maintenance

While reviewing preparedness plans I find consistent oversights respective of properly preparing to maintain gear and equipment.  One glaring shortfall is that individuals nearly always fail to have stocked proper tools and supplies for firearms maintenance.  This article addresses the issue and provides some simple, improvised solutions that will keep your firearms in top notch working condition.

People are very particular about the type of firearm(s) they select for home defense and survival.  They spend countless hours deciding on what mix of firearms will suite their needs best and this is very worthwhile.  However, when I ask them how to field strip and maintain the firearm, all too often, I get a blank stare or what amounts to a futile attempt to demonstrate the proper maintenance technique for the firearm.  This oversight never ceases to amaze me.  A person will spend thousands of dollars for a top of the line rifle, scope, ammo, and extra magazines, but have no idea on how to actually maintain, repair, and care for the weapon.  They will also stockpile thousands of rounds, but barely practice with the gun.  Owners of AR-15 variants are by far the worst offenders since the AR is a complex firearm that requires thorough cleaning and maintenance after “every” use or it will cease to reliably function.  Further, when I ask what supplies they have for cleaning; most people can only produce a small can of gun oil and a few patches.  This situation is unacceptable and will lead to a critical failure point in any preparedness plan, but is easily preventable.

To remedy this situation, you must first read your instruction manual for your firearm.  Yes, you actually need to do this.  The manufacturer will provide you the proper procedures for safely field stripping, cleaning, maintaining, and operating your firearm.  For older firearms or ones without instruction manuals, I have been able to find the necessary instructions online for nearly every firearm I have encountered.  Often, you are able to download a PDF document directly from the manufacturer.  For more complex operating systems such as that found in the AR-15 variants, it may be best to get with a former soldier or Marine and have them show you the proper techniques.  In particular, the bolt and bolt carrier group (BCG) in AR-15 style weapons are troublesome and require an inordinate amount of attention and cleaning.  Most people simply do not realize the time and labor required to keep a weapon such as this operational under battlefield conditions.  In future articles, we will discuss in detail the maintenance procedures for an AR style rifle.

After mastering assembly and disassembly of your weapon there are a few basic tenets of cleaning to know.  The first is to clean any major dirt, dust, and debris from your weapon.  This is an important first step because any residual dirt, sand, dust, etc. will mix with gun oil and can cause a weapon failure.  It can also scar the finish and lead to corrosion and rust.  Second, you need to remove carbon and lead/copper fouling that may have accumulated in the firearm.  This is usually the worst in the chamber, barrel, bolt, and/or feed ramps.  To clean, use solvents to loosen and dissolve the fouling and then scrub the affected area with a stiff plastic or brass brush.  Be careful to avoid plastic parts and wood finishes on any firearm when cleaning with solvents.  Although many gun solvents claim to be universally safe, it is a best practice to prevent solvents from coming into long term and repeated contact, especially, with plastics and composites.  Solvents also tend to be very unhealthy so you should always wear protective gloves and eyewear and use them in a well-ventilated area.  Solvents “dry” out the metal and leave it more susceptible to rust, corrosion, and friction.  As such, the last step in cleaning is to lightly oil the gun and wipe it down paying special attention to scrub any areas where rust has formed or may form.  In wet or humid environments, the liberal use of oil will prevent rust and corrosion; however, in dry, dusty areas, very light oil or dry lubricants are best.  For example, in an area like Arizona, a gun that is too “wet” will mix with dust to form a gunk.  This paste made of oil and dirt will jam an operating mechanism, especially in semi-automatic style weapons, such as AR variants, and cause them to fail or improperly operate.

Now that you know how to field strip and clean your firearm, you will need to have the materials to clean it with.  You can buy a host of gun care products.  Names like CLP®, RemOil®, and Hoppes® are well known as leaders in gun cleaning supplies.  You can also buy very expensive cleaning kits.  Otis produces high quality cleaning kits with specialized brushes and gun oils.  When it comes to cleaning solvents and oils, I find it best to stockpile these in bulk and then transfer them to small bottles.  However, improvised tools, solvents, and oils can do just as well for far cheaper.  They may also be all that’s available during a grid down situation.  For a cleaning brush, just use an old stiff bristle toothbrush.  Any old t-shirt or cotton cloth can be used as a cleaning rag.  Cotton t-shirts can then be cut up to make cleaning patches.  For solvent, carburetor cleaner works very well to dissolve carbon, but one must be careful not to get it on plastic or composite parts.  Gun oil is by far the easiest to improvise and everything from a light coat of WD-40® to synthetic motor oil can be used in a pinch.  However, vehicle transmission oil appears to most closely match actual gun oil and even has a detergent effect.  Transmission oil works across a broad range of temperatures, effectively lubricates even under high heat and friction, is dirt cheap, lasts indefinitely, and is available throughout the world.  Further, we have tested it on numerous weapons to include M-4/AR-15 style weapons and are aware of numerous major police department SWAT units that regularly lube their pistols and assault rifles with transmission oil with positive results.  Having a cleaning rod is usually the most difficult piece to improvise; especially, for small caliber weapons.  Nonetheless, one can use commercially produced rods and tips or a BoreSnake® type device, which we found to be an excellent way to quickly clean a rifle bore in seconds.  We also were able to improvise effective rods by taking copper wiring (appropriate in size to the bore diameter) and just bending a J-hook in the end to hold a patch and then pulling it through the barrel.  Note that you should always clean a firearm from bore to muzzle and pull not push a patch through it.  We were also able to find shoelaces and braided rope that fit most calibers and could be used to improvise various BoreSnake® type cleaning devices.  Heavy test fishing line also worked well when a non-steel hook was used and bent flat together with pliers to hold a patch.

In conclusion, you must plan and prepare adequately for the maintenance and cleaning of not just your firearms, but all of your gear and equipment.  Knowing how to use it is only half of the equation.  To get safe, reliable, long-term service from gear and equipment, you must properly maintain it.  Knowing how to do this with improvised materials easily found around the world is key to a sustainable and robust preparedness plan.  Remember, even the best quality equipment will fail if not properly maintained.

By Guiles Hendrik

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