Archive for May, 2014

SHTF Improvised Weaponry

Friday, May 30th, 2014

When society collapses and small towns, neighborhoods and families are forced to band together to protect themselves against looters and roving gangs, there’s a lot that we can learn from studying modern guerrilla warfare fighters.

In the current conflict in Syria, rebel fighters have been building a wide array of improvised weaponry ranging from homemade grenades, mortar shells and armored vehicles to anti-aircraft weaponry and remote-controlled machine guns.

Here is a gallery of some very creative improvised weaponry being used in the conflict in Syria:


Here’s an example of taking the slingshot idea just a bit further. These large slingshots are easily made from bundles of surgical tubing braided together. Perhaps now’s the time to start stocking up on this tubing, eh? (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

These Syrian rebels are preparing homemade missiles for launch near the Abu Baker brigade. (Edouard Elias/AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s what the launch looks like from the previous image. (Edouard Elias/AFP/Getty Images)

This former steel and iron factory is now being appropriated for the manufacturing of improvised mortar shells. Having machining skills when the SHTF will be a valuable asset.(Reuters/Hamid Khatib)

Here’s the finished mortar shell next to the guy smoking a cigarette (not sure if that’s the best idea). (Reuters/Hamid Khatib)

Another image of the mortar shell.(Reuters/Hamid Khatib)

I don’t think Toyota ever envisioned their pickup truck would become the war chariot of the Third World, but it is by far THE go-to unarmored personnel carrier for everyone from third world warriors and tribesmen to even American Special Forces. In this picture, this heavy machine gun is being used to dislodge a sniper from his over-watch position.(Javier Manzano/AFP/Getty Images)

Homemade grenades are simple to make and are very effective anti-personnel devices.(AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)

Even modern versions of the ancient catapult still find their uses in guerrilla styled warfare as you can see in this example being used to launch improvised grenades. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

This Free Syrian Army fighter is firing an anti-aircraft machine gun against a Syrian Army jet in the Saif al-Dula district.(AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

Even homemade armored vehicles can be improvised like this “Sham 1” example.(Reuters/Zain Karam)

With proper machining skills, even homemade missiles like this one above can be made. (Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah)

Here’s those same missiles now beginning assembly.(Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah)

Missiles are now attached to their payloads.(Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

This young man is recycling the components of unexploded bombs from government shelling for use in those improvised missiles above. (Edouard Elias/AFP/Getty Images)

The effectiveness of IEDs cannot be understated. These Syrian rebels are preparing homemade explosives. (Reuters/Ghaith Taha)

Even retrofitted helicopter rocket pods can be modified for use on the back of pickups.(Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

Another slingshot image.(Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)

Another “Sham 2” improvised armored vehicle. (Reuters/Zain Karam)

Inside the “Sham 2”, a Syrian rebel uses a video-game controller to activate the machine gun mounted outside the vehicle.(Herve Bar/AFP/Getty Images)

Another look at the outside of that same “Sham 2” showing a good look at the camera and gun being controlled from the inside.(Herve Bar/AFP/Getty Images)

This homemade missile is being prepared for launch.(Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah)

Another view of some homemade missiles. (Reuters/Zain Karam)

Another truck-mounted heavy machine gun being used.(AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)

This improvised shotgun has been modified to launch improvised grenades.(Reuters/Mohammed Abdullah)

Preparing the improvised grenade launcher from the previous pic.(Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

These are some serious pipe bombs…(Frederic Lafargue/AFP/Getty Images)

In this pic, a Free Syrian fighter is using a mannequin head to help attract and locate snipers.(Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

This is a homemade anti-aircraft weapon mounted on a pickup truck…(Reuters/Mahmoud Hassano)

They use the electric compass of a smartphone to help them aim their anti-aircraft weapon. (Reuters/Mahmoud Hassano)

Rebel fighters prepare homemade napalm fire bombs (likely with a mixture of soap and gasoline). (Pierre Torres/AFP/Getty Images)

Another example of a repurposed piece of military equipment (anti-aircraft artillary).(Reuters/Raed Al-Fares/Shaam News Network)

A battery powered homemade mortar launcher.(Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants: Violet

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Disclaimer: Eating certain wild plants can be deadly!!

Be certain to consult a professional (or a really good field guide) in order to positively identify this plant before trying this for yourself. The owners of this site will not be held responsible for any lapses in judgment or stupidity when handling or consuming wild plants.

Violet (Viola species) is one of those plants that are deceptively powerful. From first looks, they appear to be very delicate but are in fact both a very powerful source of food and medicine.

Right now in May is typically the peak time for picking violet flowers. One thing that’s really cool about these wildflowers is that Violet isn’t harmed when you pick its spring blossoms.

These spring flowers don’t produce seeds anyways and what happens is the more you pick the more actually the plant gives you. These “flowers” that you see around this time are not the true flowers. The true flowers of the violet bloom in the fall and I actually very hard to spot since they’re very close to the ground.

How to Identify Violet

The first step before eating any wild edible is to positively identify it.

Here are some key features to look for in order to positively identify Common Violet:

Vertically symmetrical five-petaled flower: if you were to cut a line or draw a line through the middle of the flowers in a vertical fashion it would be symmetrical on either side of this vertical line.

Flowers are about 1/2 to 1 inch (1 1/4 to 2 1/2 cm) wide, and can be found as blue, deep purple, yellow, white, or actually a combination of these colors on the same flower.

Heart-shaped, deeply veined leaves: Most species of violet have these heart-shaped, scalloped simple leaves. You may find that the lower leaves are round at the tip while the upper leaves are pointed.

They grow to about a length of 2 to 3 inches (5 – 8 cm) and a width of about 2 to 5 inches (5 – 13 cm)

Where to Find Violet

Violet prefers to grow in shade and will spread through both seed as well as runners. It is a perennial plant and includes many different species all of which have medicinal value.

I find them most of the time in suburban lawns and roadsides.

You’ll find at least one species of Violet growing throughout all of North America as indicated in the following range map:

How to Eat Violet

Violet is a very nutritious wildflower. The leaves and plant contain a lot of vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and rutin.

In fact, 1 ounce of violet packs almost double the amount of RDA for both vitamin C and vitamin A.

Both the leaves and the flowers are edible and make a great addition to salads eaten raw.

It’s best to eat these in the spring when the leaves are still tender since by the fall they become tough (the tougher fall leaves are great for medicine).

The medicinal properties of violet

Both the flowers and leaves make an excellent expectorant for treatment against coughs. In fact, just yesterday I had made a violet tea to help with my cough which I no longer have.

Violet has also had a long tradition and reputation as an anticancer herb, especially when used as a poultice for cancers on the skin. There are also some promising studies in laboratories where Violet has helped to reduce tumors in mice.

Violet Infusion Recipe

An infusion is nothing but a fancy word for tea. Here’s how you can make a Violet infusion:

What you’ll need:

  • One cup of freshly dried violet leaves
  • Boiling water
  • 1 quart mason jar

Directions:

  1. Heat up some water to boiling and while that’s heating up, “preheats” your mason jar by putting it under hot water from the tap for a minute or so.
  2. Once the water is boiling put the dried Violet leaves into the mason jar and fill up the jar most of the way to the top with the water.
  3. Seal the jar with a lid and let this infusion steep for a good 6 to 8 hours.
  4. After that time, strain off the leaves and the resulting infusion (tea) and can be drank hot, cold, or at room temperature. You’ll need to drink this within two days so keep it refrigerated until you want to use it.

Ultimate EDC Combat Knife: The Hissatsu Folder

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

For a while now I’ve been carrying around the Doug Ritter RSK MK1 folding knife as my EDC knife. It’s a fantastic little knife that is perfect for wilderness survival tasks as well as a general all-around great EDC knife…

Since getting into knife fighting I’ve been looking for a knife more suited for self-defense than for pure survival. And although the MSK1 is better than nothing in a self-defense situation, it is far from ideal since the blade profile is too wide for effective penetration.

So by recommendation from my instructor, I’ve settled on the Hissatsu Folder as my go-to EDC knife…

Although the Hissatsu could certainly be used for wilderness survival tasks, it definitely is far better suited for penetrating objects (like the creep who’s trying to mug you).

So check out this Hissatsu Folder video review I did which includes a demonstration of it penetrating through a wood board:

TI News Brief: Korea Prepares for EMP Attack

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

What Is Happening


Just a couple weeks ago Peter Vincent Pry, a member of the Congressional EMP Commission and executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, gave a dire warning to Congress.

He had warned that an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on our power grid and electronic infrastructure could leave most Americans dead and send the U.S. back into another century.

“Natural EMP from a geomagnetic superstorm, like the 1859 Carrington Event or 1921 Railroad Storm, and nuclear EMP attack from terrorists or rogue states, as practiced by North Korea during the nuclear crisis of 2013, are both existential threats that could kill 9-of-10 Americans through starvation, disease and societal collapse,”

North Korea and Other Rogue Nations Pose a Very Real Threat

Pry, who is a former CIA nuclear weapons analyst, believes that Korea’s recent low-yield nuclear tests in addition to their launch of a low orbit satellite may actually be preparations for a future electromagnetic pulse attack.

What This Means to You

The Heritage Foundation explains what an EMP is capable of in this way:

“Airplanes would fall from the sky; most cars would be inoperable; electrical devices would fail. Water, sewer and electrical networks would fail simultaneously. Systems of banking, energy, transportation, food production and delivery, water, emergency services and even cyberspace would collapse.”

It’s not that the EMP pulse itself is deadly but the effects that it has on electronics can regress our cutting-edge 21st-century technology back a few centuries. 

It would in essence “fundamentally change the world”.

What You Should Be Doing

So what’s the important lesson in all of this?

Well, if you haven’t yet, it’s time that you start securing your crucial electronics like communication equipment, medical devices and so on with your own faraday cage.

There are plenty of resources online where you can find out how to build these but be sure to do your homework because there’s a lot of missinformation about the correct method of building a faraday cage.

If you want to get step-by-step instruction on how to build one of these 
based off of consultations with a NASA engineer and EMP expert, be sure to check out Prepper Academy.

SHTF Dental Care: Chew Sticks

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The modern dental industry seems to love to promote the myth that the only way we can keep our teeth healthy and clean is through chemically laden (fluoride, etc) toothpastes and other dental care products.

But what about during an SHTF situation or other long-term emergency where toothpastes might not be available? What do you do then?

Here’s an option you might want to remember when that time comes:

Going Primitive with the Chew Stick

Native cultures around the world have used natural toothbrushes called “chew sticks” to keep their teeth healthy and clean.

To use a chewing stick, what you want to do is get a stick that is about the thickness and length of a pencil and chew on the end of it until it begins to break up into small individual fibers.

Here are a few pictures of a Paper Birch stick that I used as well as its tip before and after chewing:






Using Your Chew Stick

Once you get the end of the stick all mashed up with your teeth it should start producing a bunch of different stick fibers at the end. Be sure to keep chewing until the fibers are very thin and fibrous and not thick or else you’re going to have a painful time brushing.

You then use these fibers to rub all over your teeth and gumline, cleaning the teeth of the plaque and other nasties collected from your eating.

It takes a little bit of practice in the beginning since the bristles of this brush run parallel and not perpendicular to the handle as we’re used to with modern-day toothbrushes.

The Medicinal Benefits of Chew Sticks

The great thing about this method is that most trees and bushes contain active ingredients that destroy harmful bacteria but leave the beneficial bacteria unharmed. This is in many ways superior to modern day toothbrushing since modern toothpastes destroy ALL bacteria in the mouth, thereby suppressing the beneficial bacteria as well.

In addition, if you use sticks that also have medicinal properties like tannins, it can actually strengthen your gums and improve the tissue.

Add to this the combination of an aromatic plant like Wild Mint or Wintergreen and it will really keep your breath fresh and your mouth clean.

What Types of Wood Can I Use?

Obviously it’s important you know at least a little bit about what type of wood you are using.

The first thing is, you don’t want to use anything poisonous. Other than that warning, you want to look for a wood that is pretty fibrous and not too hard (very hard woods will not separate into nice soft fibers as shown in my picture above.

To get you started, here are a variety of common woods that are in most areas that you can use:

  • Willow
  • Ash
  • Olive
  • Hazel
  • Mountain Ash
  • Dogwood
  • Hawthorne
  • Peach
  • Birch
  • Apple
  • Chestnut

Trees to Avoid

Some trees you may want to avoid are:

Conifers

Spruce, pine, Cedar, or any other conifer are not ideal since they have resin in the wood which makes it difficult to get fibers that form a useful brush (however, the sap of some conifers make great chewing gum).

Very Hard Trees

Trees like cherry or oak are pretty difficult to make into good brushes because the fibers tend to be too thick.

Poisonous and Bitter Trees

Some trees like Elder and Yew have bark that is poisonous so obviously it’s a good idea to stay away from these. And others like Maple have a strong bitter taste which most people will have a hard time stomaching.

My Own Experiences

I’ve used chew sticks on and off for years and am always very impressed with how smooth and clean my teeth feel after using one of these.

A colleague of mine is also a big believer in chew sticks (he uses them exclusively without toothpaste) and he mentioned to me that when he visited the dentist, she was so impressed with how healthy and clean his teeth were (ie no plaque). She was even more impressed when he mentioned that he doesn’t use modern toothbrushes or toothpaste and uses only a chew stick.

Try it for yourself. You’ll be surprised…

Ruger 10/22 Takedown: The Ultimate Survival Rifle?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

If you read my article a while back on the Ruger 10/22 then you know how much I like it as a great all-around survival rifle. However, the biggest issue with it fitting the “ultimate” survival rifle designation is due to its shortcoming that it can’t be broken down like the AR-7 or Marlin Papoose.

Well, about a year ago Ruger finally released a 10/22 model which now gives you the ability to take it down to be easily stored or carried in a small compartment or bag.

Potential Uses of the Takedown 10/22

How does this rifle benefit you as a prepper? Well, the most obvious use is being able to store it in a small container or carry bag like your bug-out bag. When collapsed it’s only 20 inches long and will easily fit into most backpacks allowing it to be the perfect bug-out bag rifle.

Another fantastic use for this is storing it in containers that would appear to be anything but a rifle. For example a full sized violin is just a little over 23 inches so this at 20 inch long when broken down would easily fit in a violin case making it a very discreet way to carry a rifle.

Which Takedown Version Should I Buy?

Ruger currently sells two versions of this takedown rifle.

The first version is a stainless steel option and the second one is a blued steel version that has a threaded end on the barrel.

Now obviously if you are looking to put a silencer on this for nighttime hunting (especially if you looking to be discreet) then I would definitely pick the threaded version. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a robust steel that can weather the elements then the stainless might be the better option.

Now, I plan on doing a more thorough review of this rifle when I get one in the near future but for now I wanted to let you guys know about it. So in the meantime, Youtuber hickok45 did a great review on it if you’re interested in learning a bit more about it:

Book Review: Food Storage For Self-Sufficiency and Survival

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Angela Paskett owner of the blog Food Storage and Survival had asked me recently to review her new book called “Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival”.

It claims to be an “in-depth, nuts-and-bolts guide to storing food” that will teach you “a variety of food storage methods that you can customize to meet your family’s unique circumstances including family size, tastes, ages, health concerns, income, and living conditions.”

Angela’s basic intention is to teach you how to store the food that your family already loves to eat and to do it as easily and cheaply as possible.

Does it live up to its claim?

Let’s find out…

Breakdown

The book is comprised of following 11 chapters. Here’s a quick breakdown of each as well as my thoughts:

Chapter 1: Food for 72-Hour Emergency Kits

Angela reveals what types of food are best for your Bug-Out Bags (72-hour kits) with considerations for space and weight. She also keys in on the differing needs that children and infants have when planning your bug-out bags (this is something I see too little of in bug-out bag building lists or books).

Although this is not a book that is concerned primarily with putting together an emergency kit, Angela does a good job at including just enough of the information that you need for using the food and water you’d be consuming while bugging out — such as various cooking methods, stoves, filters and so on.

My favorite part of this chapter was definitely the “Homemade Survival Bars” recipe that can be made from long-term food-storage ingredients like oats, powdered milk, sugar, honey, gelatin and water. These are fantastic.

All in all, it was a good chapter, however, because I respect Angela’s opinion, I would have loved to hear more about her personal opinions on what she packs in her kits and why.

Chapter 2: Food for Short-Term Emergencies: Two Weeks to Three Months

For those of you who are members of my Prepper Academy program, you may see a lot of similarities in her time frames for food storage preparations (2 weeks, 3 months, 1 year etc). I feel (as she must) that this is a natural way of organizing food storage based not only on food’s shelf life but also as a great way to separate your food storage goals into manageable milestones.

In Chapter 2, Angela discusses the importance that short-term food storage plays in personal security and addresses the various methods of short-term food storage like the Menu Method and Inventory Method.

She also includes some great tips for determining how much of a certain type of food you’ll need for a 3-month period.

For example, a lot of beginning preppers have a hard time figuring out how much of a multi-use product (like ketchup, mayo etc) they use in a certain time period. The solution? Simply use a permanent marker to write the date the bottle (or whatever) was opened. Then when you’re done, record the end date.

This time period is how long it takes for you to finish that particular product. So again, say if it takes you 2 months to finish a mayonnaise bottle, you’ll need 2 bottles to get through 3 months.

Chapter 3: Food for Long-Term Emergencies: Three Months or Longer

In Chapter 3, you’ll learn what types of food you can store for Mid- to Long-term emergencies lasting up to a year or more. In addition, you’ll learn the shelf life of a variety of long-term storage foods, how much of it you may need as well as a few tips here and there on some ways you can use it.

I would have liked to seen some more details into some different long-term storage plans and ideas in this chapter. Much of it is just a rehash of the standard long-term recommendations put out by the LDS church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). For example, it would have been nice to see some more recipes as well as some more detailed ways to use the “Mormon Four”.

Chapter 4: Storing Water

This chapter is all about the various methods for storing, purifying and filtering water. Angela does a great job at distilling (pun intended 😉 ) these methods down to an easily readable and understandable format including formulas for an array of chemical treatments.

Chapter 5: Preserving Your Own Food

The biggest bang for your buck that you can get in food storage is in preserving your own. Learning to preserve can be a huge cost savings because you can take advantage of your own harvest or from grocers and markets when they are selling at a big discount.

Angela covers the main methods of food preservation here such as canning, dehydrating, freezing and so on. Keep in mind, that although she gives basic instructions, this chapter is only an overview of the various methods available and shouldn’t replace buying books dedicated to the subjects. Overall though, it’s a great primer to getting to know more of what you may need to know (if that makes sense).

Chapter 6: Packaging Dry Foods for Long-Term Storage

I loved this chapter. I think Angela did a fantastic job at covering the best ways to store your bulk food for the long term. It covers using Mylar bags, plastic buckets, food sealers, oxygen absorbers, reusing containers, #10 can sealing and more. Very thorough and everything you’d need to get going in this important aspect of long-term food storage.

Chapter 7: Buying Food

This is another great chapter.

Many people I come in contact with tell me that they can’t buy food storage because it’s just too expensive.

I think that’s a cop out.

It’s all about priorities. If you make it a priority you’ll find the way to come up with the money.

Angela goes into a variety of ways to not only come up with the money for your food-storage investment but different ways of purchasing it (ie whether to get it in one lump sum or little by little) that’ll fit any budget.

The best part of this chapter is her “Savings through Sacrifice” worksheet. Basically, the process is to make a list of things you voluntarily forgo or “sacrifice” with the intent of saving for food storage. For example, say one day I want to go out to dinner with my wife. Instead of doing that, we decide to sacrifice the meal and record on this sheet how much that meal would have cost. I then use that money (along with any other sacrifices we made) to purchasing food storage.

Chapter 8: Maintaining Balance and Variety

Much of the disappointment I felt with chapter 3 was made up with this chapter. There’s some fantastic ideas in here about ways to improve your long-term stores of food using a variety of commercially purchased (or self-made) canned, dehydrated and dried foods so that you can have meats, vegetables, fruits, sprouts, dairy and more for the long haul.

There’s also information on gluten free alternatives to the masses of bulk wheat that many of us have.

Chapter 9: Sustainable Food Storage

Food storage is finite. Once it runs out that’s it. This chapter covers some of the other ways you may want to supplement your food stores (or entirely replace if possible when they run out). Obviously a ton of detail on these methods can’t be covered in one chapter (that’s not the intent of this book) but Angela does a great job at giving you the ideas and resources you need to delve deeper into these subjects.

Topics covered are gardening, animal raising, hunting, trapping, and foraging are some of the topics covered in this chapter.

*Note: If you haven’t yet seen my latest course on Survival Hunting be sure to check it out here.

Chapter 10: Organizing and Storing Your Food Storage

This chapter covers the where and how to organize and store your food. Also you’ll find tips on finding space (for those without much) and considerations on security.

Chapter 11: Using Your Food Storage

This chapter goes over the importance of proper rotation, gives you a sampling of recipe ideas, cooking methods, and food substitutions that show how to use your long-term food stores in day-to-day life.

Also covered are ways of cooking when the grid is no longer up.

Final Thoughts

I really think Angela did a fantastic job with this book. For someone just starting their food-storage journey — and even those who’ve been on the road for a bit — they will find this to be an excellent resource to get started and go back to time and again when putting up their food stores.

It’s concise, easy to read, and not overwhelming — again, perfect if you need a thorough primer on food storage for survival.

So does it live up to it’s claim as an “in-depth, nuts-and-bolts guide to storing food” that will teach you “a variety of food storage methods that you can customize to meet your family’s unique circumstances including family size, tastes, ages, health concerns, income, and living conditions”?

Absolutely.

I highly recommend it.

Copies are available here at Amazon and all major booksellers.