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My New EDC Knife: Review of the Benchmade 551BK-1 Folder

by Erich on April 22nd, 2016

Before I get into the actual review of the knife I really wanted to quickly provide some context and background about what knives I currently carry as an every-day carry knife and where this knife fits into that.

When it comes to daily carry there are two knives that I will choose on a regular basis, and depending on where I go that day determines which knife I ultimately carry with me.

The two knives are the Doug Ritter RSK MK1 (made by Benchmade) or the Hissatsu folder that I reviewed in a prior article that you can find here.

Why I switch off between these two knives is because of their differences in terms of utility. The Doug Ritter knife I used primarily for every-day carry in the rural town that I live in and if I visit the surrounding areas. It’s an excellent survival type knife and if you notice the blade profile pictured below (with it’s wide blade and drop point) it’s perfectly suited for survival types of activities like making bow drill sets, skinning animals, making primitive traps or simple carvings and even light splitting of smaller pieces of wood using the baton technique. All in all it’s very strong and is an excellent every-day carry survival knife.

doug-ritter-edc

The downside to the Doug Ritter knife is that due to its wide profile, using it as a self-defense knife would be not ideal because it would be difficult to penetrate into someone — especially when encountering ribs or a threat who’s wearing heavy winter clothing or a leather jacket.

Compare that with the profile of the Hissatsu Folder whose primary purpose is for self defense and is clearly intended to for stabbing and penetration as seen by the blade profile in the following photo (As a side note, I was able to easily penetrate this knife into and through a wood board as you can see at the end of this video I put together):

hissatsu-folder

However, it functions poorly as a survival tool because of its steep blade angle, lack of drop point, and thick spine which prevents it from easily slicing into wood and overall, making bushcraft activities a difficult process.

Up until now, anytime I’m local or head into the bush, I have the Doug Ritter, and those times I’m heading into the city, or a strictly urban area, I will primarily carry the Hissatsu folder with me, which brings me to today’s review…

For the longest time now, I’ve been looking for a knife that could really serve both purposes — it would work great as a survival knife but at the same time you would have the proper blade profile to function as a self-defense tool.

Enter the Benchmade Griptilian 551BK-1 knife…

Review of the Benchmade Griptilian 551BK-1

Overview

Benchmade 551BK-1 Review

The Benchmade Griptilian 551BK-1 knife was designed by custom knife maker Mel Pardue.

Mel has been around the knife making seen for over 25 years now and is well known for his elegant style and his simplicity in design. He’s collaborated here with Benchmade to offer an excellent knife I’m happy to review for you guys.

Locking Mechanism

The locking mechanism of this folder leverages the proprietary Benchmade Axis Lock System.

You might be asking what the big deal about the Axis Lock System is and why you should care so let me just explain here for a little bit:

The fact is, locking mechanisms for folding knives have been and still are in many cases far from reliable.

Older designs like the lock back or the liner lock designs are some very common ones where the mechanisms don’t always keep the blade in the lock position. This can inadvertently lead the knife to fold back into one’s fingers as you’re gripping the knife’s handle

Bench made’s axis lock is a proprietary mechanism that is probably my favorite locking mechanism. It’s easy to use with one hand but also it’s completely ambidextrous if you happen to lose the functionality in one hand and are required to use the other.

Axis_Lock-System Benchmade

Here’s how it works: The lock is really a bar that’s under spring tension that slides back-and-forth along the track that is cut into the handles of the knife.

The butt end of the folding blade itself has a flat spot that allows the spring tension bar to lock into place when the knife is open.

To close the blade all you have to do is pull the bar backwards and then using one of the thumb studs (again these are on both sides allowing for ambidexterity) to fold the blade shut.

Opening the blade does not require any manipulation of the locking mechanism. All you need to do is manipulate the thumb studs like many other folders and open it that way.

See the following video for an example of closing and opening the 551BK-1 knife:

The Blade

551bk-1_blade

The blade is premier stainless steel that is been coated with a black non-reflective coating and a plain edge that lends itself to a large variety of every-day uses.

For you steel hounds out there who care about the details (like me), the steel has been upgraded from Benchmade’s current M390 steel to this CPM–20CV steel. The upgrade in steel offers better edge retention but it is not quite as tough to resharpen as the M390.

In all honesty I prefer the S30V steel that the Doug Ritter survival knife has over the 20CV steel because it has less carbon, is less prone to chipping and it’s all-around just a little bit tougher.

Still, with that being said, the blade profile ultimately what won me over to this knife.

If you compare the picture below between the Doug Ritter and the 551BK-1 you can see that it will perform a lot better as a self-defense tool due to it’s narrower profile but at the same time, still still work well as a survival tool.

Again now comparing it with the Hassatsu Folder, while it doesn’t have the extreme self-defense profile it is nonetheless a great midpoint between the two.

knife-comparison

The Handle

While the blade profile design is enough to sell me on this knife, the excellent handle was just icing on the cake which lead me to want this to be my every-day carry.

The handle features the well-known Griptilian diamond texturing for grip and comfort. Gray G10 forms the basis of the outer handle with blue G10 accidents inside. In addition there’s some partial stainless steel liner is to support and house the locking mechanism.

griptilian-grey

As with other Benchmade knives, the construction will provide for easy disassembly, cleaning, and overall maintenance.

As a side note, the combination of the handle size and locking mechanism lends itself well to working with gloves on during colder temperatures.

Price and Where to Buy

The retail price for this knife goes for $225 and can be found in most knife stores online. If you’d like to get a discounted price for this be sure to check out this knife at KnifeArt.com where you can purchase it currently for around $40 off the list price (these knives are popular and sell out quickly so be sure to get them while they’re still in stock).

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


Mental Games to Improve Your Survivability

by Erich on April 20th, 2016

The following post has been contributed by Jake Roberts

mind-games

You have prepared your food, water, shelter, and security, but have you prepared your mind?

There are many people who may have taken the time and effort to prepare all the “stuff” but when the SHTF they will freeze or fall apart because they haven’t taken the time to prepare the most important thing. Their mind.

Resilience is basically a persons ability to bounce back or to handle the stressful situations in their life. The clinical reason that has been discovered for why some people have great resilience and others don’t has to do with brain connections. People who do not have good resilience are those who have weak or few connections between the prefrontal cortex, that part of the brain responsible for higher functions and the Amygdala or the part responsible for the visceral emotions of fear and aggression.

The Importance of the Mind in Improving Survivability

The main factors that determine a persons ability to bounce back are several. One factor is that of your environment, the family you were born into, where and when you grew up. How many resources were available to your family? These environmental factors do seem to play a part in a persons ability to bounce back. These are what I believe the more important factors of Psychological and emotional factors.

I tell my kids all the time, you don’t get to choose often what happens to you, or what people may do or say, you do have control over how you respond and the attitude you have. People with a positive attitude and optimistic outlook tend to have better resilience than those with a cynical attitude or those plagued by depression.

Other things researchers have identified as negatively affecting a persons ability to cope or bounce back are things like experiencing consistent loss and failure, an unwillingness to ask for help, and a lack of problem solving skills.

So I am doomed you say.

No the great thing about this is there are things you can do to increase your resilience. This is where we answer the question of mentally preparing for SHTF. Doing mental exercises can help you to prepare for TEOTWAWKI, or smaller things like the loss of a job, loved one, or being in an airport when bad people do bad things.

How to Improve Mental Strength

Spiritual Meditation

The first thing I do to develop mental strength is I spend some time everyday in meditation. For me this is thinking about the Word of God as given in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. I spend time reading and thinking about these things for about 30-60 minutes in the morning and evening. The majority of humans spend very little time thinking. When you engage in thinking you begin to flex and work the greatest resource you have, your brain.

Mental Games to Improve Survivability

The next thing that I do to help develop the mental ability and thinking skills of my family is to play games. Yes we play games. But not just any games, we play games that force the players to grapple with the “What if”. This is the same thing that military and intelligence community do all the time. And there is a reason they do it. By playing “war games” it fosters the critical and creative thinking needed by our military people to win a complex campaign or our IC to give us advance warning of imminent attack.

Scenario-Based Games

You can purchase some games like Persian Incursion which is a game used for these purposes. Playing these games is like receiving an intelligence briefing and will help you to gain the skills you need and are better in my opinion than the wildly unrealistic zombie games out there.

Most in the prepper community are aware of the card game Conflicted. This is a game that helps you to begin to think ahead of time what you will do in a given situation. While you may never face the given scenarios what I feel the real benefit of this game is in the building of descion making muscles, using your brain to come up with real answers to questions quickly, and also reveals to you your real values and beliefs.

Paintball

To combine mental and physical preparing my boys and I play paintball. Paintball is a great way to teach team tactics, quick decision making skills, It allows us to practice what we might do in a given scenario. When we play we have different objectives for each team, designed to present real possibilities on our property. It also helps us learn where weakness in our security may be, and it the real world application of the board games we play putting to use the critical and creative thinking we have been fostering.

Situational Awareness (Kim’s) Games

The final area that will help you in SHTF or everyday is situational awareness. We hear a lot lately about situational awareness in the preparedness community. But how do you develop it? Are there things we can do to? I will never forget the time a guy that spends time around my kids school comes up to me and says what are you teaching your kids? I’m like, huh? He then proceeds to tell me that my 12 year old son had said to him earlier that day, “I can see your gun” This guy did not believe my son, who then told him where he had his concealed weapon.

“So what are you teaching your kids?” he asks. I tell you I was proud of my boy. He had learned how to see the print of a concealed weapon. We did have a conversation later about this, fortunately this guy is someone who I trust and know. He Later came to me and seriously asked how I was training my kids.

I told him about another game we play called “the Play of the Jewels” or Kims game. Taken from the 1901 book KIM by Kipling it is a great game that can be played anywhere. See the following 3 minute clip from the movie “Kim”:

The basic way to play the game is to take a group of items, observe the items for a set time, then after covering the items or removing them from the players sight, try to list more observations about those items than your opponent can.

The great thing is you determine what counts as an observation and how the points are determined. As you increase in your ability you can do things like increase the amount of items, reduce the time to observe the items.

You can play this game anywhere because we spend a lot of time in our car, a hazard of living 30-45 minutes from anything, we play this game while driving. We might say okay look out the drivers side of the car for the next minute, then describe anything you have observed. 1 point for each observation made.

Or sitting in the car waiting for my wife at the store, we will say okay look out the window observe the next ten people who walk out of the store. Then state back the observations. You can pass a lot of otherwise lost time playing this game and at the same time teach your children how to be aware of their surroundings.

My kids now play this game without my prompting. A similar twist on this is the old, find the letters of the alphabet game, where you have to find the letter of the alphabet in order on various signs, license plates etc.

Sometimes I will test the kids when they don’t know they are playing. I will say give me your observations of the last five people you saw walk past us. Or while walking in our neighborhood I will have them to tell me the things they observed about the house we just walked past.

Body Language

As the kids have grown I have begun to teach them about body language, we will watch videos of crimes just to see how people act before they commit crime. I remember about a year ago flying out of Africa from a trip, I said to my wife, “that couple is up to something” She said how do you know? I began to point out behaviors all the way from Africa through Europe and into the US. Obviously someone else had noticed because as we arrived in the US waiting at the bottom of the stairs were a couple of guys with a list of names, you’ll never guess who I saw pulled aside.

Given the recent events in Europe and the amount of travel I do, I am increasingly aware of how important this skill set is for me and my family.

I hope you might take sometime and play some games with your family. It might just save your life!

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


How to Tan Rabbit Hides

by Erich on April 6th, 2016

This is final part of a 3-part series on raising, butchering and processing rabbit for meat and fur.

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

How to Tan a Rabbits Hide

Tanning the hides is the final step in totally using the rabbits you have so lovingly cared for by not letting any part of your animal go to waste.

The reward for all your hard work is a beautiful, warm soft hide that could be used for anything! While these “directions” say rabbit it will work on any fur-bearing animal, just adjust according to size of the hide/pelt. There are several tried and true methods that will be discussed here, none of which call for expensive equipment or supplies.

Step One: Skinning and Fleshing the Hide

The first step is to skin the rabbit. This process is best done by peeling (not cutting) the hide off the animal as demonstrated in the following video:

After securing the hide (cutting out the head if necessary) scrape off every bit of meat and fat from the hide with a knife.

If you have the time, you can begin the tanning process immediately or you can store the hide until you have a quantity to do at one time. To store the hide, coat the flesh side liberally with plain non iodized salt, roll up flesh side in and freeze. This first step is the same no matter what solution you use to tan the hide.

Step Two: Prepare the Hide for Tanning

Soak the hide(s) in water in a plastic bag or bucket until it softens, changing the water often. This rinses off the salt also. Once the hide is soft drain and scrape the hide back and forth either over a 2 x 4 on edge or with a DULL knife or other bladed instrument. This is to break down the skin but do not scrape so much as to expose the hair roots or put holes in the hide.

Step Three: Tanning the Hide

Now here is where you have a choice. The most common method of tanning a hide is the alum and water method but there is also the traditional brain tanning method or bark (tannic acid) method. Those three will be covered here…

Option 1: Alum and Water Method

In using alum and water you first have several (5 or so) hides ready to be tanned then dissolve 2 ½ pounds of salt in 4 gallons of water in a garbage can. In a plastic bucket, dissolve 1 pound of ammonia alum in a gallon of water. Slowly pour the alum solution into the garbage can, mixing thoroughly. Soak the skin for four days, occasionally stirring to make sure the hide is well coated. Rinse thoroughly with running water.

Option 2: Brain Tanning Method

Save the brains from whatever animal hide you are tanning. There is a saying amongst tanners that each animal has enough brains to tan its own hide. So if you are doing a batch of rabbits save all their brains in a bucket.

Prepare the tanning solution by combining 1 pound of brain with 2 gallons of warm water. For best results, use rainwater. If you do not have access to rainwater, purchase bottled spring water at your local grocery store. Water treated with chlorine may reduce the effectiveness of tanning solution.

Soak the hide(s) overnight in the brain solution

The next day remove the hide from the brain solution and drain by wringing GENTLY until most of the solution is removed.

Nail the hide(s) to a flat surface, or stretch in a frame. A smooth tool like a wooden spoon or axe handle can be used to work the hide. The hide should be worked by pushing and stretching it in a stroking motion until it dries.

The final step for brain tanning is smoking the hide. Brain tanned hides are most durable if they are smoked for several hours in a smokehouse. However, be careful not to heat the hide too much. Use dry, semi-rotten wood to produce lots of smoke and low heat.

Option 3: Bark (tannic acid) Method

This method is labor intensive and takes a long time but can be done with stuff found in nature!

I found an old U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (1884) publication Home Tanning of Leather and Small Fur Skins and have summarized the basic steps for tanning a cow hide with tannic acid from bark: For rabbits just tan 10 or more hides at one time.

  1. Make bark liquor – 30-40 lbs. of finely ground (particles no larger than corn kernel) oak or hemlock bark.
  2. Boil 20 gallons of pure water (rain water is best)
  3. Mix in barrel (do not use iron container) and let stand for 15-20 days, stir occasionally
  4. When ready to use, strain off the bark by pouring through a sack
  5. Add 2 quarts vinegar
  6. Hang sides (of cow hide) from sticks in the bark, the less folds the better, move around often to insure even coloring
  7. As soon as sides are soaking in the bark liquor mixture, make another batch of liquor mixture
  8. After 10-15 days, remove about 5 gallons of mixture from the barrel with the hides, and replace it with fresh bark mixture from second batch, and add 2 quarts of vinegar.
  9. After 5 more days remove another 5 gallons of mixture and replace with 5 gallons of the fresh mixture (no more vinegar needed)
  10. Repeat twice more every 5 days – check hide by cutting a sliver from an end piece to see how much the hide has been penetrated.
  11. Then take another 40 lbs. of bark and moisten with water, add bark directly to the sides and bury them in the bark for 6 weeks.
  12. After 6 weeks, check of hide should show tanning spread nearly to the center – pour out half of the old bark liquor water and fill the barrel with fresh bark – shake the barrel from time to time, add bark and water as needed to keep hides covered – checking hide should reveal all tanned, no white or raw streak – if not complete, leave in the mixture and add more bark and water to keep covered. At this point leather to be used for harness or belt leather should be done, but leave for 2 months longer if leather is to be used for shoe soles or other uses that require a more pliable skin.

Step Four: Finishing the Hide

For any of the above methods the hide(s) need to be finished. Here is how that final step is done:

  1. Tack the hide, hair side down, to a piece of plywood.
  2. Partially dry it in a sunless place, then rub in a coat of fat liquor oil (3 ½ ounces of neat’s-foot oil combined with 3 ½ ounces of warm water and 1 ounce of ammonia). Work in half of this mixture, allow it to stand for an hour, and then repeat.
  3. Cover with plastic overnight. Remove the tacks, dampen the hide with a wet cloth, stretch it, and then rub it back and forth over a sawhorse or a 2 x 4 placed on edge.
  4. Redampen it and repeat, applying additional fat liquor sparingly.
  5. When the hide is perfectly supple, smooth the surface by chafing it with fine grit sandpaper.
  6. To clean and brighten the fur, tumble it repeatedly in dry, warm (preferably hardwood) sawdust. Bran or cornmeal may also be used.
  7. Clean the particles out of the fur by gently shaking, beating, combing and brushing the fur.

Now your hide is done and ready to become whatever you wish it to!

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


Bugging In – Defending your Home whilst keeping it a Home

by Erich on March 30th, 2016

This post is sponsored by Prepper Academy, the only preparedness program that shows you step-by-step how to rapidly prepare for the coming hard times — no matter what your income or where you live.

fortress

The following article has been contributed by Matt, a preparedness expert currently residing down under in the beautiful country of Australia.

I live in a City. More in the suburbs than surrounded by towering skyscrapers.

It’s an Urban Environment. There’s no wilderness or bush, being from Australia the ‘bush’ is pretty much any area or terrain that’s remote enough to not have many if any other people living there. There are sealed roads, schools, shopping centres and we’re surrounded by miles and miles of housing.

We preppers are always ready to bug out. Stores are cached. Bug out location secure and hidden. Plenty of supplies and a means to get from ‘home’ to your Bug out location.

It might be essential to have a bug out location, but after all if you do have to bug out all you are essentially doing is moving from one ‘home’ to another ‘home’. The ‘other home’ (your bug out location) is well prepared, stocked and defended. Why not prepare your actual home in the same essence?

As we increasingly become more and more urbanized every day, in some places, bugging out to the woods, wilderness or bush isn’t really a viable option.

Sure, we have to plan for somewhere to go just in case. It might mean another dwelling still in or near an urban environment. But bugging out when family is involved might add to the challenges.

So what can I do to protect my family if the SHTF and Home is the only place they feel safe?

The Hidden Fortress

I got thinking and I want to be realistic. I want to keep my home a home and not a fortress. I want it to look like a normal typical house. But soon as a storm approaches and/or damages something or if the SHTF, I’d like to be prepared to protect my family and defend my home as quickly and easily as possible.

Now I live in relatively quiet street, elderly nosy neighbours, always out and about their front yard.

There are people tending their gardens, birds chirping. The last thing I want is to attract attention by erecting a 9 foot chain-link fence topped with razor wire around my property.

What can I do to defend my home and protect my family without drawing too much attention? If the SHTF and bugging in is the only option, there’s looting and rioting going on and the threat of intruders trying to harm my family on my property is realistic what can I do?

The Perimeter

Natural Barriers

We have rose bushes along the front edge of our property. Plants are a great way to deter potential intruders. Thorns, spines, prickles, poison ivy. Just keep them contained, well kept, and as neat as a garden should look.

Material Barriers

Our front fence will be (we’re currently renovating) a black aluminium pool fencing deal, topped with ornamental spikes. They look decorative and its high enough you can’t jump it without having to pull yourself over. But fall on one of those spikes and you’re going to have a bad day.

Bollards

If your driveway permits it and is a bottleneck of sorts, you could also prepare some post holes in the ground. Cover and protect from weather. If the fear of intruders in a SHTF scenario and the potential for them to enter your property via ram raiding with a vehicle presents itself, then you at a moment’s notice can drop in some vehicle impeding bollards.

This also works for any other potential ram raid point of your home. Obviously a vehicle traveling towards any side of your house with speed will most likely break through a brick wall, but at least you can give them a bit of worse day by stopping, reducing, or preventing major damage.

You have also created time and that is what most of this is about. You’ve created inconvenience for them. You’ve reduced their opportunities.

Now preparedness is about being ready at a moment’s notice. Do you really want to lug all the way from your shed to the front yard reinforced concrete or metal posts? If you have the means and some proper bollards then do it.

I wouldn’t, so why not make them your garden bed edging. All you do is pick them up/ roll them from garden to post hole, several feet, and drop them in. Light enough to lift, with effort, strong enough to reduce the speed and increase the stopping power of a potentially unwanted vehicle.[Editor Note: If you have the financial resources, there are decorative bollards available that look like fancy light posts which essentially cover concrete/metal posts].

Additional Perimeter Ideas

The fencing around our house adjoining the neighbours is legal, to code, standard Colourbond fence. But to get over it you’ll need a crate, stool, or a bit of a jump to then drag yourself over it.

Additionally, if the SHTF fan and we’re forced to bug in without rule of law: I have a bucket with enough crushed/broken glass, a pair of sturdy cut proof gloves, and a few tubes of outdoor silicone to scatter the glass shards along the top of our fencing.
It sits there in a bucket, in the shed, and it didn’t cost a dime for the glass as a few parties supplied the material. Anyone caught trying to enter our property by jumping a fence is going to have some sore hands. If we have to leave we’ll throw a blanket over it.

As an environmental bonus: due to the terrain, our house and the surrounding houses are built on a slope. Being in somewhat of a valley like area a lot of driveways are on at least a 45-60 degree angle. Therefore we have a nice 5-6 foot drop from the level road to our front yard. So getting over a 5+ foot fence to then drop a further 5 or so feet isn’t going to tickle.

Use your surroundings if you can

Surrounded by trees, twigs, sticks, these are slippery underfoot plus make noise.

Same as loose gravel, stones, and dirt all leave tell-tale signs of a presence, by making noise or leaving marks.

Improvised Outdoor Self-Defence Weapons

Be mindful that anything you can use as a self-defence weapon someone else can use against you offensively.

Remember those rose bushes I told you about? Well there staked into the ground by garden stakes. They’re long, solid and splintery.

As an example: If I have to grab at a moment’s notice one of the stakes to protect my family from someone slipping in behind me as the gate shut when I got home from work and we’re rolling around the garden, then at least I can even the odds.

Same as the backyard. You’ll find the plants that need to be staked have the same ones like the front.

Things like this range from the simple garden stake to a letter box that’s secured well enough to the ground to not be knocked over but easily removed in case you need to take on an attacker trying to go one on one with you on your own property. An improvised large hammer if you will.

Stones (they don’t have to be the large kind), loose gravel, dirt and soil from your garden. As above if you have to square off with someone on your property and all you have is a handful of dirt or gravel the natural reaction of having something thrown at you is to flinch. This may give you enough time to get the upper hand or retreat inside. Look around your property and see where your ‘improvised weapons’ are. See where you can strategically place ‘normal’ landscaping materials that can be improvised at a moments notice.

House

Window Reinforcements

I have pieces of plywood, paneling or whatever you call it where you’re from, cut and measured to the sizes I need to cover all my windows. These are stored in my shed with a hammer, nails and duct tape bagged and taped to the panels. If for some reason a football, rock or storm damage happens to take out a window and repairs will take more than a day or so then I can cover and seal the window safely until repairs are made.

In a SHTF scenario I can board up my windows at a moment’s notice without having to scramble for things, thus securing possible entry points, making it harder for looters to gain access and or giving me enough time to prepare for fight or flight. Cutting a few inch sized holes here and there will allow air, light and vision through if needed. Just remember to cover the holes at night otherwise the light may alert others to your presence.

Door Reinforcements

I have enough pieces of wood 2×4 etc., to board up my entry doors (from the inside) if needed, once again, stored in my shed. Cut and measured and labelled for each door. If you need to brace a door to give you time against looting or for some other reason you already have the materials. Off cuts are cheap and easy. Make sure you always keep yourself an entry/exit point. Don’t board yourself in.

Environmental Sealants

I have measured the length of duct tape needed to seal off my windows, vents and doors. Now I am not talking about airtight enough to die from asphyxiation.

Not near our home but further away, at separate times and days, there were some fires in a Recycling Plant, tire dump and garbage dump.

Picture living close enough to these and not being prepared to Bug In if you or your loved ones cannot go outside until the fires are controlled. Staying indoors and sealing off enough gaps to minimize and reduce the amount of toxic/poisonous smoke entering your home should make it more bearable until the problem is sorted. Just remember to leave some ventilation, don’t panic and do something silly.

Of course completely leaving the area would be better.

Know the visibility limitations from inside/outside your home

During the day look out the windows and see how far and where you can see. Find the blind spots. Do the same from outside. Do the same at night. This is particularly useful at night. Close all your blinds and go outside. You’ll be amazed what you can see when you think your blinds are shut. Silhouettes, all these unsecured curtain edges allow full visibility to your 55inch flat screen tv, what family sleep where, where you put your jewellery at night before you go to bed. See what you can from up close to the windows. See what you can from the street. Note it all down and make plans to close some gaps.

Noise Discipline

Do the same for audio levels. During the day crank your tv or radio up to a level and go outside. Keep doing this until you can just hear it outside. Note down the level.

Do the same at night. This is useful for monitoring your noise levels in case you have to minimize your presence to unwanted attention. Plus it might help with not annoying the neighbours if you know you can’t crank your music past volume level 8 at 10pm at night.

General Recommendations

Then there are the usual measures you read about in most home safety or law enforcement tips for securing your home.

  • Good quality locks on the doors and or windows
  • Peepholes, viewing glasses
  • CCTV, surveillance cameras, dummy or real
  • Security Stickers
  • Floodlights, security lights
  • A dog and or sign
  • Doors installed securely, long screws, Door Devils, solid core or reinforced doors
  • Never leave anything outside that someone could use to break into your property (unless reasonably indistinguishable from something you’d normally look for, say like those garden stakes!) Ladders, tools, gardening equipment all secured in shed
  • Make sure your home is well kept, gutters cleaned, maintained
  • Rodent and pest controlled as best as possible
  • Plumbing/electrical etc. all in good working order

This is by no means and exhaustive list and a lot of points can be expanded upon considerably.

In the end it is entirely up to you. Be practical. Be realistic. Don’t sacrifice looks and aesthetics if you don’t need to. Education might alter your family’s outlook on bugging out.

But there might be a time there is no other option than to just bug in, prep and defend.

Tactical Is Practical.

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


Guest Post: Budget Home Defense for the Prepper

by Erich on March 24th, 2016

The following guest post was contributed by Nathanial Kincaid

gear-rolloutOne dark eerie night I was resting in peace and comfort when suddenly I was jolted awake by a huge crash. My hair stood up on end. Bits of sweat beaded on my back. I lay still barely breathing. My wife asked in a hushed voice, “What was that?” I could imagine escaped convicts, or terrorists with dull knives come to butcher everyone in the house.

Thankfully it was a shelf or a clock that fell, something dull and mundane. But across America many households are not so fortunate. In some homes women and men are found the next day in a pool of blood. Tragically even innocent children cannot escape some sadistic human reapers. The police and the SWAT teams do save countless lives but for some they arrive to late.

No one can prepare for everything. Intruders can always catch you unawares. Motion sensors, dogs and even alarms can always be circumnavigated. Yet the more prepared and perhaps most importantly the more trained you are the safer your home will be. I love to read in the NRA magazines how from young to the elderly, all people can in certain circumstances protect the ones they love.

In our era, home intrusion can be coupled with the fear of lone wolf attacks. Recently shootings are a normality. We never know when an extremist or unsettled neighbor decides to end your life. In the midst of these fears we realize the US is a very big target. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 shocked a country that felt unassailable. You and I know that in our lifetime any of a number of countries would salivate at the idea of invading our homeland. Thus each of our states is sanctioned by law to call eligible citizens to defense in a catastrophic event. Before such a time comes it pays to be ready!

The Ingredients

For my home defense uniform and gear I planned this with a budget in mind. I know there are always gun snobs, tactical snobs, and optic snobs along with a group of others who only buy gear that effectively excludes the rest of us. I gathered my list of gear with the idea of protective affordability.

Kevlar Large PASGT Helmet- My cost $40 (eBay)

helmet

Pros:

The PASGT helmet is heavy but provides good all around protection. Some add upgraded pads to enhance concussion protection. Upgraded chin straps can also be purchased to help make the experience more comfortable.

These helmets protect against some pistol rounds but do not stop rifle rounds. New helmets in various sizes and with different mountings can be purchased online at army navy sales for $124 used and $169 new. Ironically the moniker new only adds $45 to your bill. While the older steel pot helmets were thin walled with a plastic type helmet liner, this Kevlar helmet is thicker with Kevlar promoted as possessing a strength five times greater than steel.

I also like the way the helmet drops to protect more of the side of ones face than more modern helmets. This helmet seems to have been in storage for most of its life almost having a new feel to it.

Cons:

My black Kevlar helmet started its life several years ago as a police helmet with a riot shied attached. This is an older style Kevlar helmet and was sold as old stock. Some claim that Kevlar after a certain age loses an amount of its protective properties. However in Ukraine I read that the UK donated some of their old Ballistic helmets, (they are not made of Kevlar exactly but of another type of ballistic material) to the struggling army.

In researching on old UK helmets I read that they are inferior to PASGT helmets and have a propensity to mold. Thus if Ukrainian soldiers face Russian backed separatist in a helmet considered less safe than my old Kevlar, I feel vindicated in my purchase. These helmets are also heavy. Protection comes at an expense and this one feels like a couple bricks were added to your cranium. Also the chin straps are uncomfortable and the helmet has a tendency to slide. I don’t believe these problems are unique to only the PASGT but also to the newer service helmets as well.

Goggles-Revision Desert Locust – my cost $13 (ebay)

goggles

Along with a protecting helmet, modern operatives at times rely on googles to protect the eyes. New helmets in testing offer full head protection but for now these surplus goggles work.

The Revision Desert Locust goggles come with clear and darkened lens. They are supposed to meet both the ballistic requirement for military shooting glasses and also perform to a higher standard which classes them at being able to repel .22 projectiles traveling at 550fps. A great article explaining this in depth can be found at the Lucky Gunner Labs website under the article eye protection and shooting glasses review. On his website he tested glasses, shooting them to really see how they held up. After reading the article I might go for a pair of goggles that definitely were almost new! In his review he found that glasses older than five or so years lost much of their protective ability.

These goggles are huge but fit well. They claim to be anti-fog but expect to see some cloud to build on the glasses. Overall they seem fairly well built.

Plate Carrier. First Choice Armor – my cost $15-(ebay)

plate-carrier

Pros:

The greatest asset was that this vest was cheap. At fifteen dollars it seems a stellar deal. Obviously this was only for the vest and without inserts. The vest has molle on the sides front and back. Thus I can attach ammo pouches and in the back I have my hydration pack already inserted. Inside there are pockets for hard and soft armor. Velcro again is used to make sure these will stay in place.

Cons:

I find myself wishing the vest had more molle. There is molle on the back and on the side straps but really none on the front except two rows on top. Also the vest came in tan so I painted it black with mixed results.

The Velcro works but somehow with 20lbs or so of body armor I wonder how long the Velcro will hold up. The opening for your head is rather small so one might have to unlatch the vest each time just to put it on.

One thing to realize is that armor is NOT COMFORTABLE! In all I am happy with the vest and it seems to be fairly versatile considering its low cost. Body armor can be purchased many places coming in a buffet of sizes and types. Hard armor is usually steel or ceramic plates with ceramic plate considered better but more expensive. Soft body armor again is made by several companies. China evens imports armor many of which is marketed on ebay etc. I love ebay but just a caution research what you are getting! There are several ratings of body armor. Below is a simplistic explanation.

  • Level I-stops .22
  • Level II-stops 9mm
  • Level III-hard plate and soft armor protect from .308
  • Level IV-protect from one armor piercing shot

Also note that stopping a blade is a bit different so tailor your armor for your perceived threats.

Knee Pads-Hatch- $7 (ebay)

knee-pads

For a while I scorned knee pads as bulky and for those unduly tormented by fear of bodily harm. But I realize that in a desperate situation the last thing you want to do is be found crippled by a busted knee. For a home defense situation knee pads might seem a stretch but such confrontation could evolve to an outdoor protracted firefight. Especially for those in secluded areas where help will not arrive soon. Imagine a nighttime vandal luring you into a woodland confrontation. Or even the thought of kneeling on rough surfaces while you defend against a deranged assailant could suggest use in these padded inner and hard shell outer knee pads. Granted these scenarios seem far fetched and absurd but our world is not a safe place!

The knee pads are serviceable. The Velcro is difficult to secure to a level of snugness. The pads seem durable and alright for what I need.

AMD 65- AK 7.62×39 – $499 (Classic Firearms)

amd-65

The AMD 65 is a Hungarian AK that was built short for tank crews etc. and then lengthened in the US. I just purchased it recently so I haven’t had the chance to take it to the range yet. So far I have been very happy with the gun.

I was able to find triple pocket Molle CONDOR pouch that accepts double mags per pocket thus I can hold six thirty round mags in one triple pouch. This pouch also has a place for pistol clips to be held inside as well.

I also replaced the handguard of the AK with a UTG quad rail which seems very sturdy. The stock is hollow allowing for a cleaning kit to be stowed inside. I don’t like the pistol grip since it is basically painted rough wood but that is an easy change. I am also adding a Bushnell small red dot sight the TRS-25 to this rifle. Perhaps later I will detail this rifle further explaining in specific steps the upgrades and positives I see in this gun.

The rest.

For my tactical gloves I purchased some atv gloves from Home Depot. They are black and made of stretchy, foam, and synthetic material. They are not Kevlar plated but at $4 or so a pair they are pretty nice.

My shirt is TRU-SPEC. I LOVE TRU-SPEC!!! Most other tactical brands seem to charge exorbitant prices. Again on ebay which I troll I can find great prices on TRU-SPEC. This tactical shirt I think only cost me $8 or so.

At Wal-Mart I found the thin weight SOG black tactical pants. I wish they would have had cargo pockets but they still are great for the $5 I found them marked for on clearance. They are made of rip-stop material and repel water nicely. Again they are very light weight with an elastic waist. I bought about five pairs and I wish I could have found more!

The boots I also found on ebay and they came to about $5. They are military pattern boots. Lace-ups with metal eyes and leather body over rubber soles. Overall I like these old boots better than some of the new tactical style boots. Before you spend over a hundred dollars on what is a glorified sneaker I highly recommend surplus boots in good condition.

Conclusion

As I read sites and forums I realize that the availability of tactical gear is huge. When I find an item I like I usually first read reviews about it on Amazon. Then I head over to ebay and Sportsman guide. Ebay usually has better deals than amazon if you are patient. Sportsman guide sells a lot of surplus and tactical gear. With their free shipping over $49 they can be a good place to buy ammo if you can’t afford to save by buying large quantities in bulk. Cheaper than dirt I found only had my UTG quad rail cheaper than other sites. With its hefty shipping Cheaper than dirt is seldom cheap. For tactical guns Classic Firearms is a great place to go. JG, AIM and others may be as good but I find Classic usually has better deals.

Again my gear is not only for protection but also a hobby as well. For extended hikes I have a black molle hydration pack. I will add my medical kit to the hydration pack and also some other pouches. Recently I purchased a handheld ham radio which I plan to get licensed on as well. Additionally an Ontario version of the K-bar knife I recently secured to a molle leg holster for hiking and survival purposes.

The point is have fun learning the history and uses behind the gear as free Americans we are allowed to possess. Respect your gear and your neighbor! Let us as law abiding citizens take our Constitutional rights seriously and provide a just defense of our homes.

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


How to Butcher Rabbits

by Erich on March 17th, 2016

This is part two of a 3-part series on raising, butchering and processing rabbit for meat and fur.

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

butchering-rabbitButchering rabbits is not my idea of a good time. It is one of the many necessary chores around a homestead that, while distasteful, HAVE to be done. A long time ago when we decided to make our own meat we came to the decision that all our animals would have the best lives we could give them and only one moment of pain. Meat -no matter how many think otherwise- does not come from the backrooms of your local store wrapped in plastic.

So now you managed to raise that first litter to 12 weeks of age and they are looking mighty tasty, how do you turn a cute fuzzy rabbit into a delicious meal? There are as many methods as there are rabbit raisers. I will show and explain some of the “better” more humane ways of killing rabbits in this article. The main and most important goal in this is to make the death as quick and as painless as possible. Any stress during the butchering process can result in the release of adrenaline and other endocrine hormones associated with the animal’s flight response. These hormones negatively affect the flavor of the rabbit meat, and will toughen the meat. If your farm’s rabbit meat tastes sweet like chicken, that means the rabbit died peacefully and humanely.

Setting Up Your Processing Area

First, find a time and a place where you will not have any unwanted observers! Neighbors may not agree with you killing “cute, fuzzy bunnies” and make a fuss, children may not understand, and others just might make you nervous your first go around and make the process more stressful for both you and the doomed rabbits. A good place would be in your garage or basement or a separate enclosed building specifically designated for butchering. If you are lucky and live way out in the boonies and have no neighbors you could do it in your yard. No matter where you choose to do the deed you will need the same basic tools. These basic tools are a gambrel to hang the rabbit to make gutting and skinning easier, a table, two buckets of water, and of course several sharp knives.

Methods of Butchering Rabbits

A shot to the head will cause an instant death. It will kill the rabbit before it even knows what has happened. But it goes without saying that this isn’t an option for many situations. There are ‘manual’ methods which can be used anywhere, on the spot, that anyone can do. They are the neck break (also known as cervical dislocation or broom sticking), and clubbing or blunt impact to the head. Be warned, I will talk about killing rabbit in a blunt way and it might shock you.

Gunshot

This can be performed with a very small caliber handgun or rifle, or (especially in an urban or suburban environment) with a more silent pump action pellet gun (not a BB gun). Create a small pen out of wire and place the rabbit in that pen with a treat or some greens to munch on. While the rabbit is occupied, place the end of the gun between the ears at the back of the skull and aim towards the mouth. If you are using a firearm, a gun safety course is highly recommended and it is recommended you do not perform this on a rocky or hard surface where there is a risk of ricochet.

Broom sticking

broom-stickingBroom sticking is called that because you use a broomstick or similar long pole. Place the rabbit on the ground, on its belly with its front legs out in front of it and hold on to its back legs. Lay the broomstick across the back of the rabbit’s neck, right behind the ears. Place one foot on the pole – use only enough pressure to hold the pole in place. Slide your hands back and grab the rabbit by the back legs.

Now then step onto the pole with both feet and firmly pull the rabbits legs straight up. You should hear the distinctive sounds of crackling bones. This method is one form of cervical dislocation and is rapid and relatively painless. Here is a link to a video to better show how this is done.

Rabbit wringer

rabbit-wringerThe Rabbit Wringer is a commercial product that uses mechanical cervical dislocation as a safe and humane method of dispatching rabbits.

Here is a description from their site:

When done correctly, there is no blood until you severe the head, except in some cases, blood will drop out of the nose of the rabbit while hanging. No need to bend down and hurt your back, and no coordination issues. A proven, and reliable method whereby the rabbit goes from alive to dead in a split second kill, with no chance for recovery.

Here is a demonstration of the product being used:

Manual cervical dislocation

manual-dislocationThis is just a fancy way of saying you’re breaking the rabbit’s neck causing the brainstem to be completely dislocated from the central nervous system.

This method requires no extra tools and, when done right, is incredibly fast and painless for the rabbit. However, it does also require quite a bit of technique and muscular effort to pull off right and is not recommended for a novice. I bought an educational video that displays this method, but for copyright reasons I cannot share it. If you wish to learn this method it is best to have someone experienced show it to you. Here is video from Youtube that will give you a better idea of how this is done:

Blunt force trauma

blunt-traumaCarry the rabbit nestled in your non-dominant arm with the head facing out and the rear nestled towards your elbow. Hold the front legs immobile with your non-dominant hand. Push the rabbit’s ears forward causing it to drop its head downward and expose that spot between the ears at the back of the skull.

Using a ball peen hammer or other heavy, sturdy object (like rebar, a club, or even your own fist if you’re strong enough), strike that spot on the back of the skull HARD. Once to stun, and then two more times in rapid succession to kill.

The most important thing to keep in mind with this method is to make sure you are accurate and forceful with your blows and that your non-dominant hand is out of the path of the blows.

Quickly test the pupillary reflex and add additional blows if warranted. But the first blow needs to be strong enough to render the rabbit completely stunned in order to be successfully humane.

Dressing out the Rabbit

Whew! Now the rabbit is meat! The hardest part is over.

As soon as the rabbit is dead, hang it on a Gambrel by the hocks (back leg “ankle joint”) at a convenient height for you to work on the carcass.

With a knife remove the head first so it can bleed out. While it is bleeding out remove the front feet and tail. Skin the hind legs from hock joint to the anus/groin.

Using your fingers, peel the whole hide down and over the body as you would turn down a sock. It might take a little force but the whole hide should come off turned inside out fur side in. Decide at this point either to keep for tanning or discard the pelt. Tanning will be my next article!

Being careful not to puncture intestines, make a slit the full length of the body from groin to front of breastbone. Again using your fingers, by blunt dissection remove the entrails, leaving the liver, kidneys, and heart in.

The carcass should be rinsed in one of your buckets of cool water to remove any blood and hair. A rabbit can be cut into seven pieces much like a chicken. Legs, loin, shoulder, back. Chill the meat in ice water for two hours then wrap up and place in the freezer. It could also be stored in the fridge for up to five days and used fresh.

So now what?

Rabbit can be cooked in most the same ways chicken can. So get out your pots and pans and get inventive! Rabbit has a mild flavor and is a very healthy, easily digested meat!

I hope all this work to make a meal for your family was as worth it for you as it is for us! Enjoy!

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


Survival Applications of a Portable Laser

by Erich on March 9th, 2016

laser-blue

Recently I had a gentleman over at SkyTech Lasers contact me about doing a review on the blog for one of his portable high-powered lasers.

At first I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do the review because I didn’t initially see how, in my mind, “an overpowered laser pointer” would apply in a survival situation.

But after receiving it and playing around with it for little while, I was able to see some pretty decent applications in a survival situation. Before I get to that though, let me run through a quick review on the laser itself…

Unboxing the SkyTech Blue Handheld Laser

The laser unit ships with a hard case with foam inserts to help protect and store your laser — a good addition if wanting to keep it safe while packed in a bug-out bag and on the move.

IMG_5094

When picking up the laser, the first thing I noticed that this is no run-of-the-mill red laser pointer you can get at any dollar store. The unit is larger than any “pointer” I’ve ever handled before, it feels solid but at the same time it’s light enough to easily carry with you and not notice it.

laser-unit

Because this is not a toy and can cause severe and permanent eye damage, there are multiple safety features built in to the unit — some that are required by the FDA (yes, the FDA).

On the front of the laser there is a rotating aperture that allows you to prevent the light from being emitted.

IMG_5097 IMG_5096

There is also a lock that when engaged will prevent the laser from turning on. The unit ships with two keylock keys included.

IMG_5098

And finally, as if the above two weren’t enough, there is a remote interlock:

remote-interlock

The remote interlock is a pin type lock that must be attached in order for the laser turn on. There are two types of interlock keys are provided, the pin and loop. The laser comes with the pin already inserted into the remote interlock. If this is removed, the laser will not turn on.

The loop key is used if you require the addition of a third party switch to activate the laser remotely. Simply cut the red wire and attach a remote switch.

The standard use for this laser is the concentrated beam (which you can see in the intro picture at the top of this blog post). In addition though, the laser unit allows you to adjust the focus of the beam — expanding it outwards so as to function as sort of a flashlight as you can see in this video:

Laser Specifications

For you laser nerds out there, here are the specifications of the laser unit itself:

Laser Color Blue
Wavelength 450nm
Power output 1,000mW
Laser class 4
Dimensions Φ23.5mm * 180mm
Weight(without batteries) 134g
Transverse mode TE00
Beam divergence <3.0 mRad (Full Angle), Adjustable
Beam diameter < 2.5 mm
Battery type 2 x 16340 Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery
Battery life 30-60 minutes
Power consumption 3.7V, 1A – 2A
Operating temperature 10-30°C
Storage temperature -10-50°C
Duty cycle 10 minutes on, 10s off
Expected lifetime >5,000 hours
Warranty 2 years

The two things that stood out for me from these specs are the expected lifetime (5,000 hours!) and the 2 year warranty. I’ve had lots of smaller laser “pointers” and none of them had a warranty or such a long life expectancy. Those two points are proof to the quality of manufacturing put into these lasers.

Survival Applications

Nighttime signaling device:

After playing around with this at night and seeing just how powerful this laser is, the first thing that came to mind terms of an immediate survival application is as a nighttime signaling device.

Shining this thing in the sky it literally looks like a huge light saber. Now I must warn you, do not shine this up in the sky if you see any airplanes. The laser is so powerful that it could easily blind a pilot and can be seen from miles away.

With that being said, if you were ever lost out in the woods and needed to signal to a rescue party or someone within your group, they would easily see this at a distance

In the video I included below you can see the beam in the daytime and the contrast of that with what it loos like at night (yes, I did make sure that they were no planes flying above when I shined it vertically):

Self-defense tool:

When I was testing this laser, I wanted to see how effective it was through glass (which it is). And because it was dark outside and inside was lit, I did not wear my dark safety glasses. Well, a small amount of the laser light was reflecting back at me off the glass and just that small reflection was enough to temporarily blind my eyes and cause discomfort which I felt for a few minutes.

If directed at someone’s eyes, the beam is so powerful that it can easily cause temporary blindness; and if exposed for a longer periods, permanent damage will result. While I certainly understand it’s not the most practical self-defense tool, if you did have enough distance and the time to aim, it could be a great tool to cause temporary blindness while you try to get away.

I don’t recommend using this if you are in a threat situation where an attacker is close and coming at you. Your adrenaline will cause you to shake too much to allow you to focus the beam on a small area such as the eye (especially if the guy’s moving).

Another application I could see it working well in, is to prevent someone from pursuing you in a car. Especially if you had a passenger that could help you with this, by shining the beam in the pursuing driver’s eyes, there would be no way they’d be able to keep up the chase with this powerful beam hitting their eyes.

Nighttime camp security:

One great application I could see using this is in nighttime camp security.

Let’s say you were in a bug-out situation or had a remote camp and you were a distance away for whatever reason (gathering supplies, night patrols, etc). You could hook up the remote interlock wire to a switch that is triggered when someone trips a line entering your camp. With the laser pointed to the sky you would immediately see and know that someone is in your camp, alerting you to their presence.

Hunting

If you’ve ever used a normal laser pointer to play with your cat or dog, you know how the glowing and moving dot on the floor draws them in like a moth to the flame. They can’t help but to chase it around.

Well, this technique doesn’t just work on your pets, it also works on wild animals as well. While it’s more effective on predators such as from the bird, weasel, racoon, canine, and feline variety, it will also attract herbivores (like deer) in some cases too.

The application I see is to set up in a stand somewhere in the daytime and point the laser out ahead of you to draw animals in for a closer inspection — just enough to put them into shooting range. The range and brightness of these lasers will easily overcome any washing-out that the sun would do to a normal red laser pointer.

Fire starter:

This last application I played around with just to see how effective it would be in making fire. While it is not the most effective (in terms of the laser directly causing fire) it can be used to start a fire indirectly by igniting a primer like char cloth, birch fungus, or even a cigarette.

In the video below you can see me attempting to start a fire with it directly on the tinder bundle (it smokes, but no flame) versus lighting the char cloth and then blowing that in a tinder bundle into a flame.

In addition, it easily ignites matches if you were in a situation where you’d forgotten your matchbox/striker and had your laser.

Conclusion

Besides how impressive these lasers are in their normal applications (you really need to experience them at night to fully understand how powerful these are) they are actually fairly useful in a variety of survival situations.

While I wouldn’t trade this for some of my other gear, if you’re the prepper that “has everything” and you’re interested in adding this to your collection of “cool” survival gadgets, be sure to check them out over at SkyTech Lasers, you won’t be disappointed.

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


How to Build a Prepper First-Aid Pouch

by Erich on February 29th, 2016

The following article has been contributed by Nathaniel Kincaid

Survival has evolved from a fight for man’s very existence to a business model. On sites such as Amazon etc. one can buy ready made kits and equipment that promise to protect an individual or a whole family. I am sure China is kept busy churning out disaster packs that include flimsy led lights, a couple of bandages, water packs and edible food.

While I buy some specific items, I prefer to research and come up with my own unique configuration to meet my needs.

For a first aid kit one can go to Wal-Mart and buy the bright red first aid pouch or the large clear car first aid kit but why not make your own? Pictured is my current kit which has evolved and changed quite a few times.

first aid kit

Before I begin dissecting this kit I want to clarify that this kit is designed for lightness and economy. It is not perfect, no kit will be. But when your leg is gashed and you’re alone in the woods, or your arm is splotched with crimson blood you will be grateful that you thought ahead and packed a first aid kit at all!

Putting the Kit Together

The Pouch

first aid pouchDesigned after the ALICE system the MOLLE pouches and load bearing gear have enjoyed wide spread popularity. Tactical gear and even hunters enjoy the modularity involved with the loops and straps that make this system so easy to mix and match.

My end result was to attach a pouch to my MOLLE hydration pack which will be attached to a plate carrier. So in my case of various oddball items I found this woodland camo, military grenade or flasbang MOLLE pouch. It’s small but just large enough to squash in a bunch of useful items. I love to surf on eBay for military lot deals where you can buy these cheaper than almost anywhere else. Now I’m going with an all black tactical look so down the road this MOLLE pouch will turn a darker hue.

The Blood Stoppers

Almost top priority in my mind for first aid is the job of aiding in clotting or stopping excess blood flow.

blood-stoppers

Band-aids

The most normal response is the humble band aid.

Yes you can go from Dollar Tree brand to the fancy types of more specialty types of Band aids, but just make sure you have some. Band aids with their small gauze pads and adhesive edges work great on small cuts. They not only aid in stopping blood but help obstruct ugly germs from crawling into your newly sliced open body wound. I tend to stash band aides not only in my first aid kit but also in my survival kit because these little guys are so useful! Things like they can double as tape or the pads can be fire tinder.

Military Bandage

Military bandages or field dressings again are different due to country origin and style.

The one pictured above is an older US Army style field dressing. Just as an extra tip, on youtube I ran across an interesting video showing you how to make a simulated one. With the right material I guess you could make one of almost equal quality. The field bandage is designed to stop more serious blood flow such as gunshot wounds. Thus for bad situations, one hopes never happens I also included it in here.

Super Glue-( Be Careful)

Not long ago I went to work and one of my friends had just cut himself pretty bad. But instead of stitches he used good old super glue. Now I know people will tell you its poison and there is a medical and non medical kind. After some surface research I felt comfortable enough to stick it in here just for those times when you might really need a homemade stitch! You research and see what you think.

Neat Blood Nabbers

One of the perks I suppose of war is that man learns how to stay alive. Thus even the civilian market now carries some newer technology perhaps pioneered in part on the battlefield.

WoundSeal is a powder that when poured on a wound is designed to clot the blood. CURAD Bloodstop is a gel bandage designed to gel over a wound and stop the bleeding. Both of these were about $7 a box which while a bit pricy I considered worth enough to invest in.

The Creams

first aid creamsIn this group I packed a Johnson burn cream. We have a Cortaid ant-itch cream and some Staphaseptic, more general purpose gel, billed as a first aid antiseptic and pain relieving gel. I got a box of these last packets of first aid gel, again on eBay, for very cheap. While blood stoppage gets the major attention in first aid even a burn or an infected untreated wound can be serious. Adding small packets like the ones shown just add a peace of mind for those long hikes or extended journeys away from civilization.

I also added a packet of alcohol wipes in here for sterilization purposes. These can also double as fire starters! Make sure these are tightly sealed because they tend to dry out fast! Also I put a couple tiny butterfly band aides in this packet.

Years ago I went in an old fashioned drug store and found these tiny pill baggies like miniature sandwich bags. I find them so useful for packing small survival gear I highly recommend them. If you can see in the picture that is what the alcohol wipes are snugged away in.

The Meds

first aid medsMedication tablets are easily carried and easily confused. I used to pack some in my pill bags but the writing seemed to wear off and little white pills are not good to just pop in your mouth when you don’t know what they are designed to cure!

I stole the ones pictured above from the car kit stashed in my bathroom closet. The Imodium is advertised as anti-diarrhea which you might need if you forgot to bring along a water filter. The Motrin and Tylenol can be used to fight general pain. One of the quickest ways to die is to stop making good decisions. Sometimes a little pain relief might help clear the fog if life outdoors takes a bad, bad turn!

You will notice I have no scissors, knives or scalpel blades in this pack. These are quite slim and easy to add, but since I already have them stashed in my survival kit elsewhere I decided not to worry about adding them here.

Summary

I have always remembered the adage that something carried is far more useful than the perfect gear left at home. I also remember the lessons of the Civil War when Union Cavalry packed so much they could hardly ride. A couple days or battles later they had stripped down to bare essentials.

Don’t be paralyzed by the fear that you can never pack an operating room in your pack. Maybe a band aid is all you need. Use foresight and study to find the perfect balance of what you need in your personalized first aid kit!

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


Rabbits: The Ultimate Homestead Animal

by Erich on February 23rd, 2016

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

Most preppers include livestock in their preps, but not all preppers have acres of land to keep that livestock or the experience needed to keep some of the bigger farm animals.

I consider rabbits the perfect prepper animal. In a nutshell they are relatively small, quiet and easy to keep. Rabbits are dual purpose animals. From your rabbits you can get nutritious meat, wonderful pelts for clothes and manure that will have your gardens blooming. Fabulous coming from a ten pound animal! Also because of their small size and quiet nature they can be kept out of sight and raised pretty much anywhere!

I know of preppers that live in the city and raise a few rabbits in their basements or spare bedrooms. This is great for operational security! Another added bonus is that children can be taught to do all the care and maintenance of the rabbits and by taking one chore off your list teach the children a skill and give them something to do! So if you are looking to add animals to your preps consider adding a trio of rabbits.

Read on for more information…

Picking the right rabbits for your homestead

There are over 40 different breeds of rabbits not including all the mixed breed rabbits.

For meat purposes you are looking for rabbits that will be about 10 pounds at maturity and have a blocky build. Some of the desirable breeds are: American Chinchilla, New Zealand, Californian, and mixes of those breeds. Below are pictures:

New Zealand White

New Zealand White

An American Chinchilla

American Chinchilla

Californian Rabbit

Californian Rabbit

Besides these rabbits there are rabbits ranging in size from 2 pound adults to rabbits that are almost 20 pounds as adults. The three breeds pictured above are the best meat rabbits but you can eat any type of rabbit if you want to! Check out American Rabbit breeders association for pictures of all the breeds and types of rabbits.

These rabbits have the best meat to bone ratio and the largest litters. American Chinchillas have a beautiful salt and pepper pelt to work with. They are bred for meat purposes and have large litters and great mothering skills. These rabbits are also docile and easy to handle.

Make sure that you buy healthy rabbits with bright eyes, dry noses and clean ears and feet. The rabbit’s fur should be smooth and clean and its teeth in line.

Do not buy a mature female because you cannot always know how old she is. She might for instance have reached the end of her productive life and will be of no use. Long toenails indicate that the rabbit is older. Select your rabbits from parents which have a good breeding record. A female that does not perform well will also have poor offspring.

Buy breeding stock when they are about 6 months old. Replace your breeding stock every 3 years and get rid of poor performers.

Determining how many rabbits to get

The answer kind of depends on how many people you are planning on feeding.

The best thing to do is start out with a trio (one buck –male and two does –females) that are unrelated. This way if for some reason your family does not like rabbit meat you do not have a lot of rabbits to get rid of.

But if your family does like rabbit you can grow your herd by saving babies off the litters instead of having to buy more rabbits.

Watch out rabbits are addictive! We use to have over 200 ourselves! What you as a family need to do is figure out how much rabbit meat you want to eat. Average meat does (females) have litters of 6 to 8 kits and wean most. Those kits would be ready for slaughter by 12 weeks after birth so you are looking at roughly 4 months from breeding to eating!

If you say you want rabbit once a week and are feeding a hungry, growing family of four you would need 104 rabbits in the freezer for a year (two rabbits per meal). So that would mean you would need 18 litters of 6 kits a year. Five healthy, productive does could handle this. Each doe would have 4 litters a year. Six adult rabbits and their offspring is an easy, small start and do not take up much room or feed!

Caging rabbits

Rabbits can be kept quite simply. Most rabbit raisers keep their rabbits in an all wire cage measuring 30” x 36” x 18”. Rabbits do very well being kept this way. These cages will have to be provided some form of protection from the elements by either hanging them in a barn or some other sort of structure or making a roof and walls for it.

Typically, bedding is not used in wire bottom cages, but on some occasions, particularly on occasions of sudden extreme cold, either straw or hay may be used. Cages with solid bottoms will use wood shavings, wood chips, straw, etc. as contact bedding to help absorb urine within the enclosure. The size and type of wood shaving/chip needs to be taken into consideration in order to maintain healthy animals. Cedar chips should be avoided as it is known to cause upper respiratory issues in rabbits. Bedding can be made out of shredded up newspaper or raked up yard trimmings to keep down cost. Dry pine needles smell great and are good for bedding also.

caging

Colony cage raising

colony-cage

Now for the rabbit raiser that wants to get back to the basics, rabbits can be raised on the ground in a colony where they can forage for some of their food. In a colony cage you will need to make for sure that the rabbits cannot dig out by putting some wire covering the bottom of the cage but allowing the grass to come through.

The colony raiser needs to be sure that the rabbits have protection from elements and protection from predators.

Colony raising of rabbits does have its problems. These are for instance: high mortality of young rabbits caused by the free entrance of does to other does nest boxes, possibility of higher levels of aggression between rabbits, more work keeping colony clean, and lack of knowing when and who was bred. But for the dedicated rabbit raiser it is possible!

We did raise a few rabbits this way ourselves but I highly prefer the individual cage method. The up side to colony raising is that they take care of the breeding chore for you, less equipment to clean and the rabbits are very amusing to watch as they interact with each other and the new kits that are born. For more in-depth information on colony raising here are some links:

Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions (temperature, ventilation, and light) are important to maintaining healthy rabbits. The ideal environmental temperature range for a rabbit is 55˚ to 70˚F. Rabbits can adapt to temperatures outside of this range with appropriate environmental conditioning.

Many rabbitries are not climate controlled so animals may be subjected to environmental extremes. For these rabbitries, animals must be acclimated to the changes in temperatures. Rabbits do not do well when temperatures exceed 85˚F. Fans, misters, and frozen water bottles in cages are examples of methods to help animals cope with high temperatures. Ventilation during high temperatures is essential to help air quality; ventilation must be provided either by natural airflow and/or artificial airflow with the use of fans, shade trees or air conditioners.

Rabbits are quite hearty in cases of extreme cold, provided they have been acclimated to such temperatures. During cold weather months, animals may require more feed as more energy is used in cold temperatures. Rabbits need to be sheltered from the elements of direct sunlight, rain, snow, wind, etc. Natural outdoor lighting and light cycles are ideal environmental conditions. In cases where natural sunlight is not available, artificial lights need to be provided in a cyclical fashion to mimic natural light/dark cycles.

Nutrition and Water

Proper nutrition is very important to raising healthy rabbits.

It is the easy, fast way to feed rabbits if the primary source of nutrition comes from a commercially produced pelleted food with consideration as to the breed, age, ideal weight, purpose of animal being raised.

Supplements such as hay, oats, sunflower seeds etc. may be given in addition to the pelleted feed. Treats, such as fruits and vegetables, may be given in small amounts as well.

Rabbits will eat almost anything that grows in the soil as long as they are given time to become accustomed to a diet of fresh greens and hay. A rabbit’s diet can include lucerne, grass, green maize leaves, carrots, turnips, cabbage (not too much) and lettuce. Do not feed cabbage to the female while she is in milk as it can lower milk production.

They also enjoy food such as cornmeal, porridge, bread, weeds and leaves of fruit trees. Potato and tomato leaves and rhubarb are POISONOUS to rabbits.

Do not introduce sudden changes in the rabbit’s diet. Do not feed rabbits greens that have become heated, food that has been sprayed with pesticides, spoiled food or moldy hay.

Clean water should always be available. Never leave them without water. Feed the rabbits early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Most of the food should preferably be given late in the afternoon.

You can grow your own green material for rabbit food. Growing greens for rabbits is called fodder. Many people do grow fodder and feed only that and hay to their rabbits. It may take a little longer to grow out the rabbits to butcher size and a bit more work on your part but for many preppers there is more “sweat equity” around their place than cash!

Breeding and Caring for Young

A  spotted (broken) New Zealand Red doe with a nest box full of kits (babies)

A spotted (broken) New Zealand Red doe with a nest box full of kits (babies)

Rabbits reach sexual maturity between four to six months of age; however it is not necessarily recommended that they enter into a breeding program at this point. Rather it is recommended that animals enter into a breeding program based upon the relative size of a given breed. For the types we are considering that would be between 8 and 10 months of age.

Breeding needs to occur either in a neutral environment or by taking the doe to the buck’s cage. The gestation of a rabbit is typically 28-32 days. Nest boxes need to be offered to a doe minimally at day 28. The next box needs to be large enough to allow the doe to enter and turn around.

Once a doe has kindled she may be rebred as early as when the kits are two weeks old. If this intense system is used, kits are to be weaned at four weeks of age. Careful monitoring of the doe’s condition needs to be monitored for the health and wellbeing of the animal.

It is recommended that litters be weaned between 6 and 8 weeks of age for optimum growth. Animals need to be weaned before 10 weeks of age to prevent fighting. While it is recommended that litters be weaned into individual cages for optimum growth, litters may be group housed until they are either butchered or selected as replacement breeding stock. Because of this intense breeding system the raiser needs to consider exactly how much meat he has space to store.

Most does have litters ranging from 6-8 kits. So rotating the does spaces out the breedings and reduces the number of rabbits that have to be butchered at one time. The maximum number of litters that a doe may produce in a year is eight litters. This heavy breeding program is recommended primarily for commercial operations. The maximum amount of litters that the average breeding doe will produce in a year is five litters. Should a doe miss a breeding cycle or lose a litter she can be rebred immediately.

If the raiser is raising the rabbits in a colony the breeding will be done whenever the buck can catch a doe. The only way to control breeding in a colony is by removing the buck from the colony cage.

Butchering Rabbits

The good part about raising rabbits is that when you kill them you have very little waste.

One rabbit usually dresses out at about 2 pounds of meat. Perfect for one meal for an average family without having any left overs to have to worry about. Rabbits for that reason have been called biological refrigerators!

Rabbits are ready to be butchered when they reach about 5 to 6 pounds live weight at about 10 to 12 weeks unless you are looking for prime pelts then you would need to wait until the rabbit is about 5 to 6 months old. Butchering is a relatively easy process but a subject that deserves its own article.

See some of the additional resources below for more information on butchering…

Additional Resources

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved


11 Food Storage Tips You May Have Never Thought About

by Erich on February 19th, 2016

The following has been contributed by Anonymous Prepper

Why is food stockpiling a big deal? Because most people expect to bug in for most disasters and emergencies. It’s easier to hunker down, as well as safer. Now, if you’re “trapped” inside, it must be because something bad is happening outside. This limits your ability to get fresh supplies and gives you no choice but to survive on what you’ve already stockpiled.

Improving shelf life of food is crucial for a couple of reasons… first, even if you rotate your stash twice a year, when SHTF, you want the expiration date to be as far away into the future as possible. Second, you’re probably going to store food in other places besides your home, such as your car, your bug out bag or your bug out location. As you may or may not know, storing food in your car’s trunk isn’t ideal because of high temperatures and temperature variations which significantly decrease shelf life.

In what follows, I want to give you a few kick-ass food storage tips to protect your survival food from spoiling, increase shelf life and decrease the odds of your family waking up with rotten food post-collapse.

11 Food Storage Tips You May Have Overlooked

Tip 1: Focus on high-carb foods instead of high-fat

Why? Because fats go rancid pretty quickly while carbs don’t. Some foods high in fats such as butter or cheese won’t last more than a few weeks, particularly if your fridge or freezer won’t work. Much better to focus on foods that are low fat and high in carbs, meaning they can give you a good energy boost post-disaster.

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t store fatty foods. Fats are an important macronutrient in your diet and, if stored under the right conditions, things like coconut oil will last up to two whole years. But, for your bug out bag or your car, where conditions are less than ideal (due to higher temperatures), consider keeping high-carb snacks such as energy bars and dried fruit.

Tip 2: Temperature variations are just as bad

We all know shelf life decreases with temperature but did you know temperature variations are just as bad? Keeping the temperature constant in your pantry may prove to be a challenge. You may want to consider a well-ventilated basement. As for your car, what you can do is store your food (and you’re your meds) into a wide-mouth thermos, which will prevent this and always keep your perishables a few degrees cooler than your trunk.

Tip 3: Store the ingredients as opposed to the cooked foods

Two good reasons for that. First, ingredients have a longer shelf life. Second, you get to decide how much salt or sugar to add later on. Keep in mind that, even if you’re not diabetic today, you might end up this way in the future, so being able to cook without adding too much sugar or salt might not be optional.

For example, you may want to store wheat berries instead of flour (but be sure to also have a grain grinder), cocoa powder instead of chocolate and so on.

Tip 4: Use a desiccant when storing seeds

When storing seeds for your survival garden, consider adding a desiccant such as silica gel to keep moisture away.

Tip 5: Tin foil can increase shelf life

Wrap veggies like broccoli or celery in it before storing.

Tip 6: Use pantyhose to increase the shelf life of onions

Besides, pantyhose have numerous alternative uses so it’s something you probably have or thought about storing.

Tip 7: Ventilate your basement…

To prevent mold and moisture. IF you have windows, a fan might be enough but if you don’t, you’ll have to install an exhaust fan and vent.

Tip 8: Put all dry food in food-grade storage containers

That’s where it’s protected from some of the food storage enemies. If you leave it in sacks, moisture or rodents will compete over it.

Tip 9: Freeze your oil

IF you have room in your freezer, one way of making it last past its shelf life if to freeze it.

Tip 10: Beware of shelf life after you open something

Many people don’t realize this but, after you open something, the shelf life decreases dramatically after the packaging has been open.

Tip 11: Don’t forget about rodents

Mice, rats, moths, cockroaches – they can significantly decrease the shelf life of your stash… in as little as a few hours until they finish eating it! Keep them at bay by ensuring they don’t get into the pantry or basement in the first place. If they do, other protection layers must be employed, such as putting your Mylar bags inside metal buckets.

Final Word

If you got at least one tip from my article, then it was worth writing and your time was not wasted. Still, there are other tips and tricks you can employ for a more robust stockpile, so I encourage you to keep educating yourself on the subject matter because it’s a pretty complex one.

Copyright © 2016 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved