I have a tight budget. I’m talking, poverty level budget, and with survival products being over the top expensive, prepping can be really hard. There are hundreds of articles about prepping on a budget. They present us with products that are “budget friendly,” and ideas on what is the best way to prep and save money, but those products don’t fit the budget, those ideas don’t fit the forced lifestyle of the poor. The “Impoverished.”

I’m a college student and currently I gross $8000 annually, and have had to work extremely hard to get up my preps. The following are a few tips to help others with getting ready in a similar situation.

Be Patient

Every step of this process is going to take some time. It’s tempting to blow a whole paycheck on survival gear, I know, but it’s better to show yourself that you can work and wait for what you need. Think about growing vegetables, you can’t pick all of your tomatoes just because one of them is ripe. Everything has to be ready, at it’s own time. Don’t rush anything, even if it feels urgent. We’re turtles, and we will win the race.

Cut it Off

Get rid of what you don’t need. You can use a towel and wash it, instead of using paper towels. Doing dishes is not going to kill you. You don’t need Air Jordan’s if you aren’t on the college basketball team. Why do you have Wifi, if it comes free with your apartment? It’s slow, but it works.

Save money wherever you can, just to save it. Take shorter showers, turn off the water when you brush your teeth, and open the blinds, instead of turning on the lights.

P.S. You’ll be lucky to have running water, let alone internet, when SHTF.

Budget Everything

Budget gas, groceries, rent, savings, insurance, bus fare, fun. Whatever you need to pay for each paycheck, budget. Write how much you can spend, on each item and only spend that much. Seriously. For people like me the most important things are going to be rent, and gas/transportation to make my next check. Write what that costs, and then prioritize and move down the list. Fun is the last thing you budget after you read the next two items.

Budget a savings amount, I save 8% of each paycheck, when possible. After two years of doing this, I have a month of cushion, if I were to lose my job.  After your “Normal” expenses are accounted for, you need to budget in prepping. Just $10 per month. Less if you have less, more if you have more, this is a priority, above going to the movies or the bar; be responsible.

Make sure your math adds up, don’t have a $1,000 spending budget with a $500 paycheck. A good tip for those who are really struggling, is to make payments each paycheck; save a little from each paycheck to put towards your bills.

Learn and Practice

No book you buy can teach you more than you can learn for free, you’re on the internet, use it. Learn to make a fire, learn to make a shelter, learn how to fish and make traps. Learn to do this with just I knife and what nature has given you, because buying a tarp, might not fit your budget.
Learn what is edible and poisonous in your geographical area, how to identify it and how to cook it. I love clover, in salads and as an add in, in curry.

Practice all of this. It’s fun and free. Those two words are beautiful to see in the same sentence. Practice with kids in your family. Practice on a date; firelight and natural shelter in the woods, with some soup boiled over the fire… I say romantic. Run drills, for everything from fire and power outages, to riots and looters.

Don’t be a Gear Snob

I understand the importance of quality, the $1.00 knife you have is better than the $100 knife you would have someday. If you’re struggling to even eat, you don’t need to be turning up your nose. There is a time and place for quality, and yes, one $50 shovel may outlast five $10 Shovels, but we need to make sure that we have a shovel. Search before purchasing, find the best deals, that you can.

Hoard, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If it is safe and reasonable to keep using something, do. It saves money. Your backpack for school is your edc, last year’s backpack is your bug out bag. Make do. Use what you have. You can even learn to make a gas mask from a coke bottle and a beer can.

Shop the bulk aisle for groceries and for preps, I watched the store employee pour brand name flour in the bulk bin, once… that’s quality and quality at the cheapest price.

Public Resources

Use the library for information. Use the food shelf to find canned and bagged food to stock pile. Get help, if you’re below the poverty line, these resources are for you. USE THEM. My food stash is all canned goods from the food shelter, I just keep track of the date.

Save up

Now, I mean this as in after you have your basics. Once you have a decent emergency box BOB, car kit, and edc, you can buy more high quality products to replace what you have, especially when something breaks.

Live, Now

I told you how to save money, throughout this article, you should have preps and maybe even some money left over. Save up for something fun, with your leftovers. Life spent only planning for the future, isn’t really a life at all.

I could write books on this, but I have class, a job and a daughter to deal with. I hope I can help even one person in my situation to be ready for whatever the future may bring. Do what you need to do, only you know what you can do.

  I have a tight budget. I’m talking, poverty level budget, and with survival products being over the top expensive, prepping can be really hard. There are hundreds of articles about

I remember cruising around some of the blogs I frequent last year I believe and ran into one YouTube channel from a guy who said he refused to get his HAM license for anything. I can’t swear by it, but I think I remember who he was, but that isn’t important. In this video he proceeded to show how you could look up any Ham radio license holders address from several different websites. He did this in response to someone who left very incendiary comments on his blog if memory serves and used this as a lesson in both OPSEC and how it’s bad for the government to have your name on any lists.


In another video this same guy went on to explain and demonstrate his own personal Ham Radio setup complete with a really nice antenna that was suspended from trees and hidden from view with additional comments about how he would not get his Ham license because he didn’t need to be on any government lists and if TSHTF, the first place they would go would be the Ham operators and take them offline.

This got me to thinking a while back and I really debated whether or not I should be like this guy and be a conscientious objector to the whole notion of licensing and just be a rebel with my antenna hanging in a tree. After a lot of thought and some research I decided to pull the trigger and get my Ham license and I want to explain why and discuss why you might want to do the same.

Isn’t Ham something yummy and delicious?

As context, let me explain what Ham is to those of you who aren’t familiar with the term. Ham Radio is also known as Amateur Radio and is a network of radio communications that rely on antennas and individual pieces of equipment to communicate using radio waves. Ham Radio has many strengths but chief among them for Preppers is its ability to be counted on in a disaster. Ham radio is perfect for grid down communications.

Ham Radio operators can still communicate if there is no electric power, satellites or cellular service. That is the primary reason they are the go-to method of communication for preppers as well as emergency response teams in virtually every large city. With the right equipment, Ham operators can talk to people in other countries using technology that was around in the early 1900s. If some disaster knocks out the cell phone service, emergency communications can be routed through Amateur Radio and you can keep in touch with others in your family, group, region or state pretty easily.

Ham radio is a valuable Prepper skill.

Ham or Amateur radios fall under the control of the FCC and there is a licensing process associated with being able to communicate on the radio. In order to speak on the air legally, you must first obtain your Technician level license and a call sign from the FCC. Your name and information will be listed in at least one public database and this information is freely accessible to anyone who wants to look.

Reasons Why You shouldn’t get a license

Like my friend above, I had some initial concerns regarding licensing because like any good Prepper, I am concerned with OPSEC. Even if I wasn’t into prepping, I wouldn’t want my name and address posted anywhere that someone could easily access it and part of communicating on Ham Radio is that you are required to give your call sign. Anyone you are talking to, or anyone simply listening in can look up your call sign and see where you are from. After learning all of this I started to weigh my options with Ham radio.

Like I mentioned above, Ham radio is probably the single best – disaster proof communication method the average person can use. As I began prepping my own family, the topic of communications came up several times. How would I communicate with my family in an emergency? How would we get news from others if for some reason there was a media blackout? The ubiquitous walkie-talkies that everyone has are effective at limited ranges, but what about longer distances? Ham Radio addressed both of those concerns nicely.

The only problem was that darned license.

At this point I could do one of two things. I could either get my license and put my name and address out there for everyone to see or I could simply buy the radio equipment and use it illegally. The thought process for some people is that if TSHTF, nobody is going to care if you have a license so the latter option is one I considered just like the YouTube guy above.

How hard can it be?

Ham radio works when other traditional communication methods are offline.

It turns out that two things influenced my decision on whether or not to be a law abiding citizen. The first and most obvious was my address out there on the interwebs. To get around that, I simply purchased a PO Box in a nearby town and used that for my FCC information. This is perfectly legal and still protects my address somewhat. Could someone look up my name, and then cross reference me in the phone book? I guess so, but who are we talking about here? If you have a psychopath running around trying to find you, chances are there are much easier ways of getting to your house. If this is in a post-collapse scenario, I have bigger problems.

Now, does that mean I should let my guard down and talk about anything on the radio? Not at all. The airwaves are public and anyone can listen in. For that reason alone, you should take great care in choosing what you talk about or divulge when you are talking on the Ham bands.

The second and more important factor that influenced my decision was the learning curve that is associated with Ham Radio. Getting started is pretty simple and once I had a radio, I was listening in on channels fairly quickly, but there is so much you can do that is outside of dialing through some frequencies. To fully take advantage of Ham Radio, I would need to practice and you can’t do that illegally, well without risk that is. Technically you can get on the radio and start talking without a call sign or you could lie, but just because radio waves are invisible, that doesn’t mean you can’t be found. Hams make a game out of finding antennas and it’s called a fox hunt. If you are talking on the radio and

shouldn’t be, someone can report you, they will find you and the fines from the FCC are steep.

Baofeng makes a great, affordable radio for preppers.

On the Radio – Almost

So with all that said, I went and took the exam for my Technician level license and passed. Now, as soon as the Government opens back up, and the backlog clears I will have a call sign and my name will start appearing in those databases. I am looking forward to finally being able to talk on the radio, but more importantly learning about the different frequencies and antennas I can use to communicate to others should our normal method of communications go down. I think of this as a decent trade-off for being able to communicate legally over the radio and besides, it isn’t like my name isn’t in several databases already. I am in the database for prior military service, the firearm database, IRS database etc. etc. If they want to find me they already know where I am and just because I have a radio now, that won’t be much more motivation to come get me I don’t believe. We’ll see.


I remember cruising around some of the blogs I frequent last year I believe and ran into one YouTube channel from a guy who said he refused to get his

When it comes to long term food storage, there are several obvious candidates. In Prepper and Survival circles, we talk about storing grains in Mylar bags packed in 5 gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers, creating a pantry and canning fresh foods from your garden, MRE’s and freeze-dried foods. I have some of all of these options stored for our family, but some foods are great for other reasons, not just surviving doomsday.

You can probably take your 5 gallon buckets of rice, beans and grains to your survival retreat with you provided you have a car and aren’t walking on foot, but you can’t hike cross country with them. Canned food is great for storing and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables without the need for refrigeration, but you don’t want to take them camping with you. MRE’s are designed to feed troops in combat, but they aren’t the tastiest meals and are much heavier than other options. Freeze Dried foods excel both in storage life and they are incredibly light-weight. Not to mention, they won’t break if you drop them. Sorry canned tomatoes.

I was sent several packets of Mountain House Freeze Dried foods. I had meant to write a review last month, but life has a way of throwing obstacles in my way some times and in the chaos, I completely forgot.

Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System

Freeze-dried food usually comes in meal form although you can get Mountain House individual foods if you are looking at making your own meals. When it comes to camping or a bug out bag, I want simplicity and like I said, light weight. Taste and nutritional value are definitely important too, but if they can’t meet the first two requirements, the last two don’t matter to me. My family has carried Mountain House freeze dried foods with us on several backpacking trips and they are usually my go-to meal when I am camping during hunting season.

The two meals I started cooking up were Spaghetti with Meat sauce and Chicken Teriyaki with Rice. Both meals as tested have 230 calories and are designed to feed one person.

The only thing that is required to make these dusty granules into a warm meal is hot water. You can either boil some over your fire, or use a camp stove. My favorite so far is the Jetboil Flash personal cooking system. This can cook larger meals with a bigger pot, but since I primarily use it for coffee and freeze-dried foods, it’s main duty is boiling water. I tried cooking an apple dumpling type meal one time for my daughter and failed to judge how quickly it would get hot, then burn… That is what I get for not reading the directions. The last thing you want to do on a backpacking trip miles from civilization is try to get burnt apple turnover mess off the interior of your main water boiling device.

Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – before water.

Another great thing about Mountain House meals (and probably all the other vendors), is that you don’t really need any cookware either, except for a spoon. You can eat the meals, once rehydrated right out of the bag. Preparation is so simple that anyone can do this. Just open the package, remove the bag of desiccant, add the required amount of hot water, stir and close the bag up. For these two meals, I only had to wait 8-9 minutes which gave me time to work on boiling the water for my coffee.

How do they taste?

The question everyone wants to ask, is But how do they taste? I’ll be honest and tell you two things. First is that I was in the Army for a long time and didn’t meet too many meals (if any) that I could not eat. Secondly, I am not a food snob. Now, that being said, I won’t eat just anything and I am not afraid to say something doesn’t taste right, but you will never find me gagging if the leftovers are a few days too old if you know what I mean.

Cooked and ready to eat.

Every one of the Mountain House meals I have tasted have been great considering what they are. The Spaghetti had plenty of flavor and I really only wished I had about two packets instead of the one. Of course, I should probably only have that much food for a single meal, but if you are hiking all day and need to replenish calories, one of the other meals or a larger packet might work better. It is also the case that I received samples, so the real meal might include more food. Actually, it only stands to reason they would.

The Chicken Teriyaki was not as good (personal taste) as the Spaghetti, but as food goes, it tasted perfectly fine and I wouldn’t ever turn my nose up to either meal if I was offered them. Are they beautiful to look at? No they aren’t but this isn’t fresh food prepared by a chef. This is freeze dried food that tastes much better than it looks and can last on a shelf for up to 25 years. One of the great things about Mountain House is there is so much variety so if you have some favorites, stock up on those and leave the less desirable ones to someone else. My favorite breakfast meal from Mountain House is the Breakfast skillet. Loaded with potatoes, eggs, sausages and onions, it is my choice for cold mornings around the campfire.

I like Mountain House for camping but like I said, they are in my Bug Out Bag too because they are light and only require hot water. Some people will say, you may not have time to boil water so you need to take foods that don’t require anything to eat. I can see that point, but I say if you don’t have time to boil water, maybe you shouldn’t be eating either. Throw a snack bar in your pocket and go, but if you are being chased through the woods by the zombie hordes food is probably the last thing on your mind anyway.

If you are looking for a tasty freeze-dried vendor for your next camping trip, long term storage plans or Bug Out Bag, Mountain House gets my vote.

When it comes to long term food storage, there are several obvious candidates. In Prepper and Survival circles, we talk about storing grains in Mylar bags packed in 5 gallon

At some point in your prepping journey you will need to think about Security and for many of us, these are the first thoughts that trigger an initial investigation into the world of prepping. Security in the context of prepping, from my stand-point encompasses your safety in a possibly unsafe world. Security is a broad topic that covers a lot of territory and seems to work itself into most aspects of life in one form or other in the grid-down hypothetical context and there is no shortage of debate when you start digging into the details, opinions and recommendations.

Security from the standpoint of your home deals with keeping you safe from people trying to get into your home. Security in a bug out scenario usually gets into threats from those who might try to harm you when you are out of the relative safety of any structure. Security is almost always focused on the threat of humans to your safety, but there are those who downplay any threat at all or who recommend a different tactic of running away as a solution.

My articles in Final Prepper have a definite slant towards using firearms as defensive options and I know that is anathema to some of you. There are people who simply do not believe that firearms should be allowed anywhere. There are others who believe that only the military or the police should have weapons. There are still others that believe you will surely die if weapons are involved because you are an idiot with no training so you should swim out to sea to avoid confrontation at all costs. All of these positions seem to me to ignore history completely and put preppers at a disadvantage that could end up killing your family more quickly than if you had taken the opposite tract and understood that the world is full of evil and evil rarely goes down without a fight. Some advocate our only hope is to pack up everything we have and move thousands of miles away. To me that is an incredibly naive position that assumes everyone has the resources and capabilities as they do.

Illusion Busting: The world is not a peaceful place

Can’t we all just get along? The immortal words of Rodney King still come to my mind when we talk about defending ourselves from violence. Sure, it would be great if everyone in the world settled their differences with calm reasoned debate and plenty of compromise, warm hugs and thank you cards, but that is pure fantasy. Today, when we have agreements and compromise, they really only have a chance of forming or lasting because there is some societal order. When consequences of a legal system for your actions are a clear possibility, people try harder to get along. When people are safe to complain about how you are acting without fear they will be injured, you play nice. Take that societal structure of safety away and we return to a more primitive style of handling things.

Ideals are peaceful, history is violent.

I recently watched the movie Fury. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is set during the end of WWII. Without getting into too many details, the main character; a battle hardened tank commander, is trying to get his fresh-faced new private to see the reality of war. When everything the new guy sees around him is so completely different from the world he grew up in, he shuts down and actually wishes to die rather than face the ugly reality of war. The commander says “Ideals are peaceful, history is violent” as a way of communicating the reality of their present situation. War is hell and people die. Bad guys will try to kill you and there isn’t any getting along right now. You can’t simply refuse to kill the enemy, because if you don’t kill them, they will surely kill you.

For what it’s worth, if you like war movies, Fury is a good one, but the line that apparently was Ad-libbed by Brad Pitt struck me as a poignant reminder of two things. First, that I prepare for bad times because history has a way of repeating itself. I think it is foolish to expect the best forever and always and I have millions of events on my side to back that precaution up. We have had it far too good for far too long. The second thing is that during history, we have seen as humans one heck of a lot of violence. That is our nature and violence is to be expected in certain situations. If there ever was a time to expect violence it is if the grid goes down or TEOTWAWKI happens.

Why is planning to avoid confrontation a losing strategy in the long run

I understand that due to location or background, some people are unable to own firearms. I understand that the average civilian with little training is no match for an organized group of mercenaries. I completely agree that a single person with a gun is not going to last for long in an Alamo stand against a mob of people intent on getting in. That is not the point of this article.

The point of this article is to try to convey to you that if you don’t plan for violence you may not be able to do anything about it. Could you die during the course of defending your life? Of course you could, but we all die eventually. I am not saying you should go out in a hail of bullets, but I am saying if you want to have a chance in a violent world, you should consider leveling the playing field. Sure, you might not win that gun-fight, but you definitely won’t win if you are hiding in the closet holding a bat when the bad guys with guns kick in the door.

Running away from a fight is a short-term strategy. If you can run away from a gun fight I think that is the wisest move you can make, but what if you can’t? What if you can no longer run? What if there is nowhere left to run? What if you sail out to sea thinking you are the smartest person in the world and pirates come and take over your boat because they out gun you? When your wife is getting raped on the floor in front of you, will you wish you had been able to at least try to defend her then?

I know this post may offend some of you and I won’t win over those who will say “I would rather die than live in a world like that”. There are some who simply disagree and that too is human nature. Some of you would rather die than try to defend your life and sadly, I think that is what will happen. But if that is your attitude, why are you prepping at all?

At a recent gun show I attended I was struck with how much the attendance had grown over the years. 10 years ago we might have had 2 gun shows a year in my town, now it is more like 7. Each show is more packed and I marveled at how full the parking lot was as I pulled in this time. People everywhere seem to sense that the echoes of history are sounding again and as it has been innumerable times in the past, it will likely be violent to some degree. I have said before that prepping is pro-life because I believe anyone who is prepping wants to live. They want to see their children grow up, get married and have grandchildren. We all want peace and to be able to get along, but there has always been and will always be those who are intent on killing and destroying.Unless you want to die, wouldn’t you prepare to fight violence? Wouldn’t you plan for the necessity of violence as a potential way of defending your life?

We prepare for those types of people if we want to survive.

At some point in your prepping journey you will need to think about Security and for many of us, these are the first thoughts that trigger an initial investigation into

As a concealed carry license holder, I am always looking for the best way to carry concealed in whatever situation I find myself in. What I have found over many years is that this requires a little bit of flexibility and the method of concealed carry and more importantly, whether it will work for you, greatly depends on what you are carrying, where you are carrying and what you are planning on doing when you are carrying.

Today I wanted to discuss some of the methods of concealed carry that I have personally tried and share some of the advantages and disadvantages of each method from my own experience. I will talk about what works (for me) and what doesn’t and give you different scenarios where each might be better than another method. I am writing this post because for so many years I have been listening to “the experts” who advocate one method of concealed carry over another as gospel. Like the debate over which caliber handgun is the best or which is the best SHTF rifle: AR-15 or AK47, the debate over your personal best way to carry concealed will generate some different opinions.

Why carry concealed in the first place?

Before I begin with the different methods of concealed carry, let me briefly divert into why I carry concealed in the first place. Simply put, I carry concealed because I want options. If a bad guy is intent on doing me, my loved ones or even a stranger deadly harm I want to be able to address the threat with as much force as a bad guy is likely to have. Just recently, a man (in the video below) walked into a liquor store and started shooting up the place. The reason he did this doesn’t matter. The man is a lunatic who wanted to kill everyone and he should be dealt with as quickly as possible to save lives. According to news reports, what you don’t see is a concealed carry holder confronts the man off camera and put an end to the violence in the store. Unfortunately, the shooter escaped to injure his parents before he was finally put down by police.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be a patron of that store when this idiot walked in there and started shooting? If that ever happens to me, I want the option to do something about it. That is why I carry concealed. Options. Prepping is like that too. I prepare so I don’t have to go hungry if the stores run out of food. I won’t go thirsty if the town’s water is polluted and I can’t drink from the tap. If I have to bug out and leave everything I have behind, I have that option.

Different ways to carry concealed

Since I am talking about options, let’s look at a few concealed carry options that I have personally used and I will give you the situation I used these in and my observations.

Pocket Carry

Pocket Carry is probably the most common form (until recently) of concealed carry I have used. Why? Well, I work in an office where I sit down at a desk all day and work on a computer. I also have to dress up sometimes, meet clients and mingle. Pocket carry for me is as simple as it gets for the right size weapon. To facilitate pocket carry, I chose the KEL-TEC P-3AT. The KEL-TEC was my first weapon purchased for the express purpose of concealed carry and this has it’s good points and bad points.

Pocket Carry is the most discrete and worry free method of carry, but compactness has it’s drawbacks.

Pros of Pocket Carry

  • Drop it in the pocket and forget about it.
  • Very concealable – I never have had anyone ask me about what is in my pocket and I have never had anyone accidentally touch my firearm when I pocket carry.
  • Works great in dress pants or jeans. Easily the least worry of printing in almost any situation.
  • Lighter weapon means you can also use this with lightweight hiking shorts without your pants falling down.

Cons of Pocket Carry

  • To get a weapon that will easily conceal in a pocket you have to limit your firepower somewhat. I used a .380 which is really not enough power in my mind now to effectively put down an attacker quickly. I know, I know, it’s all about shot placement, right and a .22 to the brain will stop someone just as fast as a .45. I disagree on that one. Would you want to go up against a bear or a 220 pound man who is high on Flakka with only a .380?
  • Sitting down in the car, seat buckled makes it really hard to whip this thing out. I could do it if I popped off the seat belt and reared back pretty far.
  • Pocket lint – minor issue I know , but man there is a lot of lint on my KEL-TEC so cleaning frequently was a good idea if for nothing else than it was embarrassing.
  • In some pants with larger pockets like my hiking pants, the holster would turn sideways with the barrel facing to my right making the draw a slightly more complicated process. Eventually the weapon would start swinging like I had a big rock in my pocket.
  • Reduces you to one pocket because you can’t put anything in there with your firearm.
  • I actually had to learn to flick the holster off with one finger because just drawing out the firearm would occasionally leave the holster on. The last thing I want to do is draw my weapon only to have it still safely ensconced in its holster and me with a stupid look on my face.

Small of Back

When I got my Glock 30SF, this was my preferred method of carry most times. I have heard this referred to by a few different names. 4 o’clock position behind your strong side hip is where I would always keep my heavy 45 and this had some advantages and disadvantages as well. The results for me were pretty much the same regardless of whether I carried inside the waistband or outside. Actually inside the waistband was much less comfortable.

Small of Back is great when I am moving around, not sitting for long periods of time and works better for me in cooler climates. Holster is a sturdy leather.

Pros of Small of Back Carry

  • From the front, you are really concealed and there is no noticeable shape to discern.
  • Drawing from this position felt good and seemed natural. I didn’t have to manipulate my hand around the firearm, but again, this probably had some to do with the size of my handgrips too.
  • In the winter time or when I had more clothes needed for daily wear; this was my go-to concealed carry option.
  • Walking around this is very comfortable

Cons of Small of Back Carry

  • When you bend over, even slightly, people can see the lump in your back no matter the size of the weapon or whether it is inside the WB or outside.
  • You can’t tuck a shirt in with this method. Drawing would be a nightmare. Also, any kind of pack would be a pain with this method of carry.
  • If someone grabs you from behind, they might prevent you from drawing your weapon.
  • Someone could try to disarm you from behind and I know you are supposed to be more aware of things like this, but it is still a thought.
  • Sitting down is a pain. I couldn’t easily wear this at work.
  • On a long car trip? Forget it. Not only would your spine be out of whack, you would never be able to get to your firearm in an emergency.
  • I have been hugged and people will tap my firearm and ask me what that is. Depending on the situation I will either confess it is a weapon or lie and tell them it is an insulin pump.
  • Holstering might take a little longer. If you are carrying inside the waistband you might need to loosen your pants first.
  • Holster is right over my wallet which makes me have to carry the wallet in the front pocket.

Strong Side Hip

Carrying at the 3 o’clock position is what you typically see cowboys, military and police doing. This method places the gun directly on your belt, strong side so you can get to it easily in most situations.

Strong side carry is probably the most comfortable outside of pocket but the issues with printing are more pronounced. Holster is from Raven Concealed.

Pros of Strong Side Hip Carry

  • Drawing from the position was very intuitive and easy.
  • All you need is a slightly larger shirt or jacket to cover the weapon
  • Running or walking isn’t impeded by carrying in this position.
  • Holstering is simple.
  • This method of carry does not put the weapon in your back so sitting down isn’t a problem.
  • The weapon fits nicely beside your elbow so it is easy to maintain control or awareness of the weapon.

Cons of Strong Side Hip Carry

  • Even on the side, this method prints when you bend over and most people can see that you have something on your hip unless you are wearing a Fat Albert sized shirt.
  • In a car, this method is also usually covered by the seat-belt.
  • Again, this method is easily detected by hugs which happen from time to time.

Fanny Pack

Yes, I have used a fanny pack to conceal my .380 before when necessary. Fanny packs aren’t for everyone and they have to go on the front, not the fanny but they have some usefulness too.

Pros of Fanny Pack Carry

  • Many of the same advantages of Pocket carry. Drop it in the fanny pack and forget about it.
  • Very concealable – I never have had anyone ask me about what is in my fanny pack and I have never had anyone accidentally touch my firearm.
  • Works great in dress pants or jeans. Easily the least worry of printing in almost any situation.
  • Lighter weapon means you can also use this with lightweight hiking shorts without your pants falling down.

Cons of Fanny Pack Carry – Similar to Pocket Carry

  • To get a weapon that will easily conceal in a pocket you have to limit your firepower somewhat. I used a .380 which is really not enough power in my mind now to effectively put down an attacker quickly.
  • You do have to manage a zipper and possibly other things in the pocket before you draw.

Appendix Carry

This is the newest method I am trying to get used to because I finally got a hold of the new Glock 43 which is what I plan on carrying as my concealed weapon on most days now. Appendix carry takes some getting used to. Some people swear by it but I am still deliberating.

Appendix Carry is new to me, but with my new Glock 43 which boasts a lighter, yet powerful weapon, it may be the new choice in some circumstances. Holster is the Crossbreed Appendix Carry.

Pros of Appendix Carry

  • Arguably one of the best concealment of any method (outside of pocket carry) I have tried as long as I am standing up.
  • Can be used with a shirt tucked in or out
  • You can conceal a larger weapon
  • Drawing from Appendix carry might be a millisecond faster with practice.
  • You can drive while appendix carrying and still get to your weapon pretty easily.
  • I have never had anyone put their hands near my crotch at work.
  • Nobody hugs me down there.

Cons of Appendix Carry

  • Positioning, positioning, positioning. When I was first getting the hang of this, I think I pushed my holster too far down. Walking around this was OK, but bending over killed me. Once I lifted the holster up a little bit that got better.
  • Going to the restroom takes a little more finagling if you are carrying front and center.
  • I have to work a little more to get my thumb behind the grip because the weapon is pressed against my skin.
  • Might not be the best option for overweight people
  • If your weapon ever could go off, this is the absolute last place I would ever want it to be.

Ankle Holster

This is the last method I have tried and I only tried it for about an hour. I think I finally threw my ankle holster away because it was just too painful to even wear.

Pros of Ankle Holster

  • Great concealment with minimal printing

Cons of Ankle Holster

  • Small caliber needed to be practical
  • Weight of even the modest .380 hurt my ankles quickly
  • Drawing would require some additional physical movement and dexterity.

So there you have 6 different ways of carrying concealed. I know there are more like shoulder holsters and belly bands, but I have never used those methods myself. I used all of these methods based upon the situation and what I am carrying. For instance on business travel, I may pocket carry or appendix carry but never the other two. In the winter, outside of work I am more likely to strap the larger .45 on and carry behind my back because I won’t be sitting all day . I don’t think there is any one best way to carry concealed, but there are many different ways  that you can carry that suit you and the situation best.


What is your favorite way to carry concealed and why do you like that method?

As a concealed carry license holder, I am always looking for the best way to carry concealed in whatever situation I find myself in. What I have found over many

I work in a retail store’s warehouse. As anyone familiar with logistics work knows it’s basically just a big windowless box, and the lights are a long way off the ground, with lots of areas of shadow. One of my jobs is to drive order pickers down the rows and raise the platforms up around 40 feet in the air to gather orders off the shelves. Over the summer, I was all the way up at the top rack with my order picker, when I heard an explosion outside the building and the lights went black. The normally gloomy area was now completely dark; I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. A lot of people told me afterward that if they’d been in my position they would have panicked. I didn’t, however, because I had something on me that I always carry, no matter what: a flashlight.

What had ended up happening was that lightning had struck a transformer across the field, flash-vaporizing the oil inside and cutting power to our whole building. The sad thing was, we only had a couple of flashlights and over forty people were on duty in the store at the time. Luckily I had two on my person and another three in my van, all of them with extra batteries. My coworkers laughed, but I was able to help locate confused customers and start restoring order.

The point of that anecdote was to provide a case study of a very mundane event—a power loss due to electrical storm—that my prepared mindset enabled me to react to in an efficient and helpful way. I got laughed at, sure, for having so many flashlights, but I had more people come up and thank me for being able to lend a hand.

Flashlights are often overlooked as a part of a prepper’s Every Day Carry, especially for beginners. They’re not sexy, like guns and knives and monkey fists. They’re often considered bulky, awkward to use, and unnecessary. But as my story goes to show—and I have numerous others from various jobs and situations—they are far from unnecessary. In fact, flashlights are one of the most useful pieces of prepper gear you can carry on you at all times. You’re far more likely to whip out your flashlight than your gun or even your knife (and I say this as someone who always carries at least two knives and owns numerous firearms) in day-to-day interactions.

So, with all that by way of introduction, what are some good characteristics of an EDC flashlight that will serve well both pre- and post-event? Let’s look at a quick overview.

Characteristics of a Good Every Day Carry Flashlight:

EDC flashlights have to do a few basic things: They have to be easy to carry, take readily available batteries, be lightweight, streamlined, easy to operate, and provide adequate illumination. Let’s break these categories down a bit.

The best flashlight is one you have on you at all times.

An EDC light that’s easy to carry is one that you are going to have no second thoughts about throwing in your pocket or purse. It’s kind of like the “Always Gun” concept for flashlights. For those of you unfamiliar with the Always Gun concept, it means that even if you have a bigger, more powerful gun for specific situations you still need a gun that you will always carry, meaning it’s small, light, and easy enough to use that you won’t leave it home. With a gun this could mean you carry your Ruger Redhawk when walking in bear country, but a Ruger LCR when you’re at work in the city. Applying this to flashlights, this is the difference between a big MagLite 4 D-Cell flashlight that you keep by your bed and don’t take anywhere, and the little MiniMag penlight you keep on your keychain.

Readily available batteries should be self-explanatory but for a surprising number of people it’s not. The current rage in prepper products is for all things Tacti-Cool. These items have the appearance of being for high-speed operators, but are in reality bulky hindrances designed for mall ninjas. Case in point: more and more modern flashlights come with rechargeable batteries. I’m not against rechargeable batteries per se, but I do think they make for a bad EDC choice. Many of these batteries require USB charging cables, meaning they need to charge off of a computer or mobile power pack. This may be fine for a flashlight you keep in a truck or charging on the nightstand, but it’s not convenient to carry when prepping for life’s little (or not so little) emergencies. If you don’t carry any spare batteries on you (which you should, since a single change of batteries for a good EDC light adds negligible pocket mass and weight) or if your batteries have expired or gone bad, having very common batteries allows you to either swap supplied with someone else who is similarly prepared (this is why my sister and I carry flashlights that take the same batteries, since we work together), or allows you to buy them quickly from almost any retail or convenience outlet. It also allows you to help others if their light has gone out. Recently I tried to help a man whose flashlight was on the blink, but couldn’t because his light was highly specialized and only took one specific kind of battery I not only didn’t have but had never heard of.

Goldenguy 5 Pack Mini Cree Q5 LED Flashlight Torch 7w 350lm Adjustable Focus Zoomable Light – Great stocking stuffer.

A side point to keep in mind, where practicable, is to keep as much commonality between the power sources for your EDC flashlight and any lights on your EDC handgun or go-to home defense long gun. This is not a hard and fast rule, and often not applicable, but it will streamline supplies if it is possible. My EDC flashlights and the lights I’ve attached to my Ruger 10/22 and Mossberg 500 20 gauge shotgun (I live in town so need lower-powered firearms for home defense) all take the same batteries, meaning I can supply them all from the same stockpile.

Weight is a major consideration for an EDC flashlight. Most of us can’t go around in military web gear or with assault packs on our backs. We need something that we can easily fit into a pants pocket or a purse, and that isn’t going to slow us up, pull our pants down, or give us a sore shoulder. I have never weighed any of my EDC lights to get an exact measurement, but I know that they all come in at only a few ounces, even with batteries.

Another consideration is a streamlined design. Lots of lights look cool and techno, or tactical, or retro, or whatever floats your boat. But when selecting an EDC light, you have to keep in mind what kind of clothing you’re most likely going to be wearing and what kinds of activities you will most likely be doing while carrying the light. Believe it or not, what kinds of work you’ll be doing actually has a lot to do with what kind of light you select. That’s why I have a modest array of lights I can choose from depending on what I’m going to be doing. If I’m going to be mostly sitting at a desk or riding in a car, then I don’t need to worry much about a light that’s easy to turn on in my pocket because I won’t be moving my leg much. On the other hand, if I’m going to be out in the woods, at work, or on the range, where I’m going to be doing a lot of moving, squatting, or bending, I’ll carry a different type of light that isn’t so easy to turn on by mistake. There’s nothing worse in the world of flashlights than to pull your light out of your pocket and not have it shine because you’ve accidentally worn down the battery. So pick something that will fit within your lifestyle and the kinds of clothing you wear. If you wear cargo pants you’ll be able to get away with one design, skinny jeans or dress pants will require a different approach.

One important feature when thinking about design is the activation method. There are two main activation types on flashlights: Twist and push. Twist-type flashlights require you to twist either the head or the end cap to get it to turn on. I don’t personally like them because they’re almost impossible to use one-handed, but their advantage is that they seldom if ever turn on in your pocket.

Push flashlights can be further subdivided into standard push lights—where the button is up near the head of the light—and tactical, where the button is on the end cap or somewhere near it. Obviously this is a generalization, there are tactical lights with the push button near the head, and non-tactical lights with end cap activator. But for the sake of discussion this broad classification will work. By and large I recommend a tactical-style light with a somewhat recessed end cap button, as this is the hardest to accidentally activate. Standard types are the easiest to burn out through careless pocket activation, but there are some with good stiff buttons that are more resistant to this.

Easy to operate is fairly straightforward: get a light that fits your needs and that you can easily grab and turn on without thinking or looking. Odds are that you’ll be in the dark when you need it, and fumbling for your light’s on/off switch is the last thing you want to be doing, as you’re more likely to drop it than anything else.

One other thing to keep in mind when considering ease of operation is the bulb type. I am a fan of LEDs because they never get hot, do not need to be changed, and will not break so easily if dropped. However, if you have very sensitive eyes and will need to be using the light in close proximity to your face, such as in very tight quarters or inside an engine or mechanical assemblies, you may want to consider a standard incandescent flashlight. While they do not last as long and do not put out nearly as much light, they are gentler on the eyes.

Personally, I like a high-lumen light that provides a very bright beam over a short, wide space.

Lastly, I want to touch on adequate illumination. This is a tricky subject because it’s going to be different for everyone. The illumination a flashlight offers is measured in lumens. Without going into the physics definition of what exactly a lumen is, this unit is used to measure and compare the brightness of a flashlight’s beam. A higher number of lumens will be a brighter beam, and most likely reach farther. However the latter is not assured, as other factors including the lens material of the flashlight, mirrors inside the light head, the condition of the lens, and a few others dictate exactly how far a beam will reach.

Personally, I like a high-lumen light that provides a very bright beam over a short, wide space. This is because I’m usually using the light in cramped quarters or indoors, so I don’t need it to illuminate very far. If I were going to be spending a lot of time in the dark outdoors I’d consider something with a longer beam. Take into consideration how much light your eyes need to function. My sister carries a relatively weak flashlight because she has very strong eyes and can practically see in the dark anyway. I, on the other hand, have very weak eyes and need a lot of light to do anything, so I carry a much brighter light most of the time. Another criteria is the type of beam you want. Depending on what you think you’re going to need the light for, you may want a very tight, long-range beam, a broad, well-defined inspection beam, a diffuse beam from the many smaller lamps of a pocket work light, an adjustable-focus beam, or yet another variety. Choose your light based on your normal environment and the kinds of things you expect could go wrong there. I personally work indoors and tend to be in tighter quarters, so I want a wider, short-range beam to illuminate more of my immediate surroundings and not cast so many shadows.

Earlier I mentioned flashlights getting the cold shoulder in favor of guns and knives and other defensive gadgets. While these tools are more effective in a truly deadly confrontation, I would be negligent if I didn’t address the defensive use of the flashlight before I close. A bright, easy-to-use flashlight ready on your person can be used to shine in a nighttime attacker’s eyes, blinding him and either giving you time to escape or draw a more effective weapon. Just one more reason to carry some form of pocket torch.

A flashlight may seem unnecessary in our modern world of 24/7 ceiling lights and power at the flick of a switch. But even without a major disaster it’s still possible to be left in the dark for minutes, hours, or even days. For the purpose of brevity I didn’t go into all the further points to consider when choosing a flashlight for your home or vehicle, but hopefully this short piece helped provide some items for consideration next time you’re looking over your EDC load.

I work in a retail store’s warehouse. As anyone familiar with logistics work knows it’s basically just a big windowless box, and the lights are a long way off the

In Part 1 of the Introduction to Shotguns for Survival, we looked at what a shotgun could do for us in survival situations, the types of shotguns available, provided some information to help in choosing a shotgun, and began discussing simple modifications to improve its usability.  Here are some more useful modifications.

Chokes and Porting

If your hunting barrel has a fixed choke, you can have it modified with an adjustable choke or to handle screw-in choke tubes.  Another possible modification for the front of the barrel would be some “porting” to help with the recoil.  This is a set of holes on the top part of the barrel at the end.  Some of the gas escapes out of these holes, “pushing down” the barrel a bit.  Both of these modifications are best done by a seasoned professional gunsmith.

Shotgun Sights

Truglo Home Defense Fiber Optic 12-20Ga Sight

Look at what sights are currently installed.  A vented rib on your hunting barrel is a plus; adding one is a pain, so it is better to buy the barrel already set up that way.  Usually you will have either a bead at the tip of the barrel (with or without rib), or rifle sights.  The bead is better for hunting moving game, particularly if it is mounted on a full length rib.  But it can be made better by replacing it with a fluorescent rod which picks up ambient light and appears as a lighted dot.  Some replace the existing bead; some are held on by magnets or glue, neither of which I would trust.  If I was putting one on, I’d go with one which screwed on or clamped on.  There is an electronic clamp-on sight called “Redring” which might be even more useful, but being electronic it is subject to being fried by an EMP or the battery going dead, and it is kind of bulky and wicked expensive.  As for rifle sights on short barrels, they are useful for slugs.  Some are available with fluorescent tubes to gather any ambient light or even Tritium capsules.  The latter are great in the dark, but since they work on radioactive decay, eventually (10 years perhaps) they decay to where the glow is no longer useful, and they are much more expensive than plain or fluorescent tube sights.  Another option is to install a picatinny rail on the barrel or the receiver for a scope or electronic sight.  Shotgun stocks are designed so when your cheek is against it, you are looking right down the top of the barrel.  If you change the sight height, it would be wise to add a riser to the stock (elastic or strap-on will do) so this capability is maintained.

Shotgun Ammunition Capacity

Ammunition capacity is limited, from three in some semi-autos to five in most pumps (which may come with a removable plug to limit it to three).  This limitation is in part due to the size of the rounds, but also to comply with Game and Fish Department hunting regulations which limit you to three rounds loaded.  Assuming no part of the mechanism is in front of the magazine tube, capacity can be extended by two or three rounds (or more) by removing the magazine tube cap, replacing the spring with a longer one, and screwing on a magazine tube extender.  Do NOT have a magazine tube which sticks out further than the barrel, with the possible exception of one which has a reduced diameter end which extends past the barrel no more than 1/2″.  Also, some extension tubes may need modification to avoid a gap between the standard and extension tube, which can cause rounds to get hung up.  While we are in the magazine tube area, look at the “follower” which pushes on the rounds.  Often these are thin “cups” which are the same color as the rest of the action and may be subject to cracking.  It would be wise to replace it with a sturdier one, of a highly visible color so you can see you are empty, with a “bump” or “hole” on the end so you can easily feel that you are empty, and optionally a SHORT “tail” extending to the rear to reduce the chances of the spring kinking and failing to feed.

Shotgun Shell Holder – Brown Coat Tactical

Even with a magazine tube extension, shotgun ammunition capacity is limited, so ways to carry more ammo readily available should be considered.  Options include a carrier on one side (or even both) of the receiver, carriers which strap to the stock, a bandoleer (a handy way to carry a lot of shells, but may interfere with slings or backpacks), loops or various pouches or holders on your belt or a vest.  The best options keep the shells organized, so you can quickly and smoothly move a round from carrier to the shotgun loading port without fumbling with its orientation.  Note that they do make slings with ammo loops, but in my day, they were not nearly long enough or adjustable enough to be good slings regardless of how well they carried extra rounds.  A quick search seems to indicate they are no better these days; because so much of the strap is taken up with shell holders, there is not enough plain strap left to offer any real adjustment.

Shotgun Controls and Spare Parts

The most obvious improvement would be an oversized safety (for Remingtons and others with a cross bolt safety).

The controls often are appropriate for sport hunting, but can be improved to be more readily available for high stress situations.  The most obvious improvement would be an oversized safety (for Remingtons and others with a cross bolt safety).  For a semi-auto, you may also want an extended bolt handle and carrier release with cartridge loading ramp.  You may want to research if there are any parts in your weapon which are inadequate or excessively subject to failure and thus should be replaced.  For instance in later model 870s, besides the flimsy magazine follower, the extractor is often MIM (Metal Injection Molding) rather than being a machined part, so is more brittle.  And the carrier latch spring is a bit underpowered.  In addition to upgrading any parts which are not satisfactory, it might be wise to have a kit of small spare parts for your make and model in case any break, wear out, or get lost.  Large parts are usually not at risk enough to be worth stocking.

Shotgun Lights and Lasers

Finally, a lot of defensive use and some hunting is likely to be in the dark.  Having a flashlight on the front is very handy.  You can get a forend with a built-in light which is quite useful, but is a bit bulky.  An alternative is a forend with built-in picatinny rails, which offers the ability to mount a laser sight, flashlight or a combination of these.  But again, this adds to the bulk.  A picatinny rail or other mount can be clamped to the barrel.  If this must extend to the side, this can add bulk unless you already have a shell carrier on that side.  If you have enough of the barrel sticking out past the magazine tube, having a rail for the light under the barrel there does not affect the bulk much, and if there is a laser there, it will line up with the bore better than one to the side.  These sorts of things can be handy, but as with all electronics, they are at the mercy of dead batteries and EMP.  Make sure you have solutions for both of these problems if you plan to go this route.


As mentioned, the key to the shotgun’s versatility is the variety of ammunition available.  The first thing to consider is the “payload”; that which is sent towards the target.  The first variable is material.  It used to be that lead was the only real option, but of course that was determined to be an environmental hazard, particularly near water.  Today you can get steel, bismuth or tungsten shot, and in fact, are required to use it for water fowl (ducks and geese).  Of course, these shells can be higher in cost, and tend to wear out the barrel and can ricochet or spark if it hits something hard, so should ONLY be used for hunting waterfowl.

The next variable is projectile size and count.  On one end of the scale, you have the single slug.  This is good for hunting large game, and can extend the defensive range of the shotgun.  There are plain, rifled, and sabot slug versions.  The latter ones are a smaller diameter projectile encased in a “sleeve” (the sabot) which peels away in flight.  The smaller diameter and lighter weight give you a bit more range.  Then there is “buck shot”, which are the largest sizes of shot.  These are adequate for medium and deer sized game (they get their name from a “buck”, or male deer), but more often they are used for defense.  Most famous is “#00″ (double aught) buck, which is highly touted for defense by the movie and TV industry.  I don’t like it, since there are only a few pellets (9 is common in 12ga).  It might be useful against a barricaded attacker, but a slug would be better for that, and the #4 buck (the smallest common buck shot) is generally considered a better choice for defense.  The pellets are still good-sized (0.24”) and there are a lot more of them.  Of course, today there are some specialty defense rounds, but they are quite expensive and don’t seem to be significantly more effective than good old buck shot.

The #4 buck (the smallest common buck shot) is generally considered a better choice for defense.

For small game and birds, smaller sizes of shot are necessary.  Like buck shot, the size is specified by the pound sign and a number, but followed by the word “shot” rather than “buck”.  #4 shot and #4 buck are completely different sizes.  To get an idea of the size of bird shot, subtract the size from 17 to get the diameter in hundredths of an inch.  For instance, #4 shot is 17 – 4 or 0.13″.  Common sizes range from #2 to #8 although there are larger (B = #0, BB, and so on) and smaller sizes.  #6 is perhaps the most versatile, being adequate for all small game and birds except geese and high-flying ducks (needs a bigger size shot to maintain effectiveness at long-range), and doves and quail (needs smaller shot for a denser pattern).  If you are going after a specific target, you can use exactly the right size shot, but in a survival situation, versatility is critical.  Note that because steel is so much less dense than lead, you need a shot size two numbers bigger for any game.  If #4 lead shot is appropriate for ducks, you would use #2 steel shot in the same situation.  This has a less dense pattern, making it harder to hit the bird, so it might be more effective to use lead in survival situations in violation of any regulations to the contrary.

The next variable is the amount of shot.  In a buck shot shell, they cram in as much as will fit.  In bird shot shells, they specify the amount in ounces, usually 1 to 1 3/4 ounce (in 12ga, using lead shot).

Finally, there is the amount of powder.  More powder means more power, but also more recoil.  You can get a first approximation by looking at the shell.  If it is “low base” (the brass part only goes up the shell about 1/4″ inch), then it is a “light” load.  If it is “high base” (brass extends up 1/2″ or more), it is a “heavy” load.  Note that the height of the base does not provide “more support” for the higher power; it is simply to give you a quick visual reference as to whether the load is heavy or light.  Most slugs and buck shot rounds are “high base”, although there at least used to be “low recoil tactical” versions available.  Bird shot rounds can be either high or low base, and specify the amount of powder to help match the ammunition to the purpose.  In the beginning, shotgun shells were loaded with black powder, measured in drams (a dram is 1/16 of an ounce).  When smokeless powder became common, they measured it in “dram equivalents”, so people who were used to a particular load using black powder could get the equivalent load using smokeless powder (which is much more compact and light than an equivalent amount of black powder).

One more thing you need to be aware of, and that is the length of the shell.  In 12ga, for instance, the most common length is 2 3/4″, and almost all modern 12ga shotguns will shoot that length.  Some are marked for, and will shoot, 3″ shells as well.  And with the switch to steel shot, 3 1/2″ shells were developed to compensate for the reduced number of pellets imposed by the larger size required.  Along with these longer shells, new models of guns were produced to handle them.  But this would be for sport hunting of geese or high-flying ducks, and probably would not be a primary choice for survival usage.

Ammunition Supply

When you run out of ammunition, your shotgun is just a club and not a very good one.  So put some thought into what ammo you get and how much.  Consider the area(s) you will be in and see what game is likely to be found there.  Evil men can be found everywhere, so #4 buck would be a good place to concentrate; it could also be used for medium game.  Slugs and a few #00 Buck for large game and a bunch of #6 high base for small game and large birds, and some #7 1/2 or #8 low base for dove and quail would be a fairly good variety.  If geese or ducks or turkeys would be likely in your area, suitable loads for them would be in order.  Personally, I’d also get a box or two of non-lethal ammunition such as rubber or bean bag projectiles, just to give me another option in a crisis.

In Part 1 of the Introduction to Shotguns for Survival, we looked at what a shotgun could do for us in survival situations, the types of shotguns available, provided some

In close quarters, defensive shooting, you do not aim as such using your handguns sights, because you usually you do not have time for this. You use a method known as instinctive – or point shooting. Instinctive shooting is simple you point the gun and pull the trigger. You need to ensure you have a good grip on your handgun, your wrist is locked and the forearm of your gun hand is in line with your handgun.

For instinctive or point shooting at ranges of about 3 to 10 yards, you should bring the handgun up with stretched arms at chest or chin level, with both eyes looking at your target area. Point the handgun at the target area (i.e. head or chest); when the target is aligned, you fire. There is no need to use the sights, you simply point and shoot. I have seen students, who have been taught to always use the sights on their handguns, even at close quarters, and have difficulty getting good results when shooting. This is usually because they are concentrating too hard on lining up their sights. They are usually amazed how easy, fast and what good results they can get from point shooting. You want to practice instinctive shooting with an unloaded handgun before you go to the range. To start, pick a point in the room you are in, for example, a light switch. Now with a straight-arm point your finger at the switch. Look down your arm and see where your finger is pointing- it should be pointing at the switch.

You have been pointing at things your whole life right? Practice this a few times and then try it with an unloaded handgun. Point the handgun at the switch without using the sights and then look down the sights to see where the gun is pointing. It should be pointing at the switch. If not, adjust your aim and try again. You should practice this strong and weak handed while sitting, standing or lying in bed, this will build up your muscle memory and make you flexible with the weapon. You want to work up to drawing from a concealed holster, pointing and dry firing (handgun unloaded) at different points, from different position, this is good training and will improve your shooting.

Instinctive Shooting takes practice

To train in instinctive or point shooting at the range with live ammunition, place a silhouette target at approximately 5 yards down range. Hold your handgun with a relaxed two-handed isosceles or modified weaver / boxer’s stance and pointed at the bottom of the target. Look at the chest area of the target and raise your handgun until it is pointing at the area where you are looking at, without using the sights. When your gun is stable fire one shot, check the target to see where the shot hit. Lower the handgun and continue with this until your shots regularly hit the chest area, then move on to the head. Next bring the target in to 2 or 3 yards and practice firing from the hip. The handgun should be fired with one hand; just look at the chest area of the target and point the handgun where you are looking and fire one shot. Check the target to see where the shot hit and adjust your aim as required. Continue with this until your shots regularly hit the chest area. You need to practice these drills strong and weak handed, I will discuss this more later.

You want to practice instinctive shooting with an unloaded handgun before you go to the range.

You then want to progress to firing two quick shots; this is called “double-tapping”. At first, take this slowly; as you get more confident and accurate, speed up, make sure both of the shots hit the target. You want to work up to being able to fire at least five shots instinctively, rapidly and accurately into a target at 5 yards/meters and beyond. If you are involved in a hostile situation you need to put as many rounds as possible into the criminal as quickly as possible to end the confrontation before you, your family or clients get hurt. Remember, you need to have a good grip and keep your wrist locked and forearm aligned with your handgun. As you will see Instinctive, or point shooting, is simple: just get a good grip on the weapon then point and shoot. A lot of instructors over complicate things to try to make themselves look intelligent. This is OK for competition shooting but could ultimately cost you your life in a street situation- keep it simple.

As I have previously stated, if you are unfortunate enough to ever have to use your handgun for defensive reasons, you need to continue to put rounds into the criminal or terrorist until they go down and no longer present a threat. If you do not think you could ever shoot and possibly kill a person, then don’t carry a gun and consider other non-lethal methods of self-defense. If you pull a gun and freeze, you could be giving the bad guys a weapon they could take from and used against you.

When starting out use the center of the chest area of the target as your point of aim and, in time progress to head shots. As you will have read, the best place to shoot someone in order to immediately incapacitate them is in the head. The issue with head-shots lies in the fact that the head is a smaller area to aim at and hit than the chest. You stand a better chance of getting a bullet in your opposition by aiming for the center of the chest but one round to the head and the confrontation will be over. You must remember that in a real-life situation things will happen quickly, as you and your target will most probably be moving and chances are it will be dark and you will need to put bullets into your opposition quickly. Head-shots are best and you should train for them, with practice you should be able to put rounds into the head area of a silhouette target at 5 yards/meters with little effort. A lot will depend on your capabilities with your handgun, if you know you cannot get head-shots past 5 yards/meters go for the chest. If you are engaging moving targets at your medium distance go for the center of the chest and as always fire multiple rounds.

When starting out use the center of the chest area of the target as your point of aim and, in time progress to head shots.

Do not get into the habit of shooting the center of mass on police qualification silhouette targets as this is usually the middle of the stomach area, shots there will kill someone in time but there are no vital organs there that immediately incapacitate someone. A good example of this could be the Toulouse (France) terrorist incident in March, 2012 where the terrorist “Mohamed Merah” was killed by French Security force. The terrorist “Merah” was responsible the numerous attacks on unarmed French military personnel and Jewish families which resulted 8 deaths and others wounded. The French police and security forces located Merah at his 2nd floor apartment and a siege situation developed. After several days, the tactical team “RAID” assaulted Merah’s apartment, which he had barricaded to slow down attackers. When the RAID team made entry Merah attacked them with guns blazing, in the resulting gun battle 3 members of the RAID team were shot. Merah was shot over 20 times but still managed to jump through a window, where he was finally killed by a sniper with a head shot.

It was reported Merah received multiple shots to the arms and legs, it’s clear the RAID assault team were not going for head shots, the after incident reports state over 300 rounds were fired. Especially at close quarters you must be hitting vital organs and bones to end the situation as quickly as possible. The RAID team is very highly trained but at close quarters when lead is flying and there is no cover luck has a lot to do with not getting hit! So, avoid the situation or end it as quickly as possible!

After a while of practicing instinctive shooting, you should be consistently hitting the target in the chest and head areas, without using your sights and firing multiple rounds. You should then practice with the target at 7 yards and then at 10 yards as your shooting gets better. Novice shooters are usually surprised at how inaccurate a handgun can be. Numerous times we have had students who fire a 5-round aimed grouping at a target 25 yards and are baffled why they missed. Everyone misses to start with and you must remember that you cannot become an expert marksman after shooting 50 rounds- it takes time and practice.  It is only in the movies that someone can shoot from the hip with a handgun and hit a person running 100 yards/meters away. Handguns are meant in general for close quarters conversational range targets.

You need to practice firing with one and two hand grips both left and right-handed, firing from cover, firing from a seated position, firing from a kneeling position, etc.

If you intend to carry a handgun, you must learn to draw the handgun from your holster. You should buy a quick draw holster, without thumb breaks or retention devices, but I will discuss this in a later chapter. To draw a handgun, you simply grip the handgun, pull it from the holster and point it at the target in one smooth movement. The handgun should take the shortest route from the holster to the target. Care must be taken when you initially start drawing from a holster and you should practice first with an unloaded handgun until you feel confident enough to draw with a loaded handgun.

When you can draw from a holster and instinctively shoot and hit your target make things a little more difficult by practicing drawing while wearing a shirt or jacket. Additionally, you need to practice firing with one and two hand grips both left and right-handed, firing from cover, firing from a seated position, firing from a kneeling position, etc. Again, these drills can and should be practiced dry firing, until you feel comfortable enough to do them with a loaded handgun.

If you are training properly after putting several hundred rounds down range, you should be able to smoothly draw your handgun from a concealed holster and put multiple rounds accurately into the vital areas of two targets at 7 yards/meters. You will then be ready to carry a handgun for defensive purposes and be better trained than many supposed professional’s firearms experts, criminals and terrorists.

In close quarters, defensive shooting, you do not aim as such using your handguns sights, because you usually you do not have time for this. You use a method known

In many survival situations, a firearm would have significant value. And in some situations, it could be of critical value.  For each potential use, there is a “best” type of firearm, but unfortunately, there is no firearm effective for all uses.  The shotgun is about as versatile a firearm as exists.  It usually fires a bunch of small balls (the “shot”), but can fire a single projectile the size of the bore (a “slug”) or even other things (flares, non-lethal projectiles, rock salt, etc).

There are two primary classes of survival usage for a shotgun: hunting and defense.  With the appropriate ammunition, a shotgun is effective for hunting small, medium and large game, as well as birds of all sizes.  And there is not much which would be better at defending yourself from man or beast at close range.  But there are “costs” for this versatility, which keep true the earlier statement about there being no universal firearm.  The ammunition is big and heavy, magazine capacity is small, reloading is slow, effective range is fairly short, and shotguns are not particularly concealable.


When looking at any firearm, the first consideration is the “size”, or diameter of the ammunition, which is a major factor in defining its potential effectiveness.  In shotguns, this is usually specified as “gauge”, an obscure unit of measurement determined from the weight of a solid sphere of lead that will fit the bore of the firearm.  The most common shotgun gauges, from big to small, are 12 gauge, 20 gauge and 410, which is not actually a gauge but a caliber in inches.  To illustrate how gauge is measured, a one-twelfth pound lead sphere fits a 12-gauge bore.  Which is not really much help to most people; for a more generally useful measure, the bore of the 12ga is 0.729″, 20ga is 0.615″, and the 410 (NOT also known as 67.62ga) is, of course, 0.410″.  Since the shotgun usually uses many small projectiles rather than one large projectile, the actual diameter of the bore is often not constant, and the muzzle can be “choked” smaller than the “official” diameter.

There are many different options for shotguns, but the 12, 20 and 410 are the most popular in the U.S..

The most effective and versatile of the common choices is the 12ga, but it may have a bit too much recoil for some folks.  The 20ga is an adequate alternative if the 12ga is just too much.  As for 410, it is pretty much a “specialty” choice, where the gun is the deciding factor rather than the gauge.  There are a few handguns which will fire this, as well as some compact long guns, including ones with a 410 barrel and a rifle barrel.  Besides the “common” gauges, there are others available, including 10ga, 16ga and 28ga (between 20ga and 410), which may be perfectly reasonable or even preferable in normal times, but ammunition is just too limited in availability and variety to be depended on for survival usage.


The next consideration is the action.  Shotguns are available in single barrel and double barrel (both over and under, and side by side) configurations.  These are simple and rugged (and less politically incorrect), but that second (or third) shot is just too slow for some situations.  More practical are pump actions and semi-automatics.  The semi-auto can be quite useful, but are often also a bit more complex, more expensive, and may be more ammunition sensitive than the pump, and some models have part of the mechanism in front of the magazine, which makes for an extra limited and non-expandable magazine capacity.  Others, such as the Remington 1100 and the Benelli M2, have a standard, extendable magazine tube.  There are a few shotguns with other actions, such as lever-action and double action revolver, which might also be adequate, and bolt-action, which seems too slow to be a first choice.

The pump shotgun is a good all around choice and often fairly inexpensive.  The Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500 seem to be the most common, but there are some other good choices out there.  If you get a fairly common, modern, brand and model, your chances of having a good selection of accessories and parts upgrades are likely to be better.

Most repeating shotguns are fed from a fixed tube under the barrel (the KelTech and the UTAS have TWO tubes for twice the capacity); a few use a detachable box magazine or cylinder or drum which allows for a speedier reload.

One advantage of the single barrel or double barrel break open shotgun is you can slide an adapter into the barrel to shoot a smaller gauge shell or even a rifle or pistol round.  In order to get decent accuracy with rifle or handgun calibers, you will want to get one at least 7″ long and with rifling (except for 20ga and 410 adapters).  X-Caliber claims to have them in .223, 7.62×39 and .308, but I could not find any, so they may have been withdrawn.  Chiappa sells an X-Caliber set with just the pistol calibers and shotgun gauges.  There are several other companies which to sell these sorts of adapters.


Changing the Choke on a shotgun.

As mentioned, the diameter of the barrel can vary from end to end.  It starts off at the standard diameter of the shotgun shell and immediately has a “forcing cone” to get the shot down to the “official” size.  The bore may then expand slightly to reduce recoil.  When it gets to the end of the barrel there is a tapered “choke” to compress the cloud of projectiles to the desired size.  This choke can be built into the barrel, a screw-in choke tube, or an add-on adjustable choke.  The more the amount of choke, the tighter the pattern which the cloud of shot will have, extending the range at which there are not excessive gaps between the pieces of shot.  The common chokes, from most open (largest) to tighter (smaller) are:  Cylinder (Cyl), Improved Cylinder (IC), Modified (Mod), Improved Modified (IM) and Full.  There is also Skeet 1 (between Cyl and IC, AKA just Skeet) and Skeet 2 (between IC and Mod, AKA Light Modified), as well as Extra Full and several sizes of Turkey which are even more tight.  There are also special purpose chokes, such as “duckbill” chokes which squeeze the shot into a wide bar rather than the normal circle, and breaching chokes used to get though a door by destroying the hinges (using special ammunition).

Note that it is not the SIZE of the choke which matters, but the DIFFERENCE between the bore right before the choke and the choke diameter.  Since some makers “overbore” the barrel, two guns with the same choke could actually shoot differently.  You can check what choke you REALLY have by shooting at a 30″ circle 40 yards away.  Figure the percentage of shot inside the circle and that defines the choke.  40% is what Cyl is supposed to provide, up to 70% for Full.

Shotgunning Chokes and range

It should be obvious that if you are shooting a solid projectile, you will want a Cylinder bore.  This will also work with shot at short ranges, but allows too much “spread” in the “pattern” of shot for use on small targets at longer ranges.  Modified seems to be a common “general purpose” hunting choke.  If you have a specific purpose in mind, then you can get exactly the choke most appropriate, but in a survival situation, this could be problematical.  I would prefer to have an add-on, adjustable choke, or at least a set of choke tubes to include a minimum of Cylinder (for slugs and defense), Modified (for general small game and bird hunting) and Full (for longer distance).  Better would be to also include Improved Cylinder and Extra Full, and possibly a Turkey.  With choke tubes, don’t forget to have the wrench to change the chokes, and to avoid damaging them, a case, belt pouch or protective tube would be a good idea.


One of the advantages of most pump shotguns and many semi-autos is that the barrels are easily interchangeable.  Short barrels are handy in close quarters, rifled barrels increase accuracy with slugs, and longer, choked barrels are best for hunting with shot.   Most practical would seem to be a two barrel set, with a short barrel for defense and hunting with slugs, and a long barrel with adjustable choke for other hunting.  Perhaps a third, medium length rifled slug barrel would increase your large game hunting range.

Note that by law, the absolute shortest barrel you can have is 18″, and this or 20″ is good for defense.  For longer ranges, a longer barrel is easier to hit with, but heavier and harder to maneuver.  26 to 28 inches seems to be a good compromise.  Of course, it is not strictly true that you can’t have a barrel less than 18″; it is sometimes possible if you don’t mind the costs and annoyances, and there are circumstances when it would be quite handy to have a more concealable shotgun.  If you want to buy, or make a Short Barrel Shotgun (SBS) by cutting down a barrel (preferably an extra one), in some cases you can do this legally by getting the $200 NFA (National Firearms Act) tax stamp.  If the registered SBS does not have a stock, it may qualify as an AOW (Any Other Weapon), which requires a $5 transfer tax stamp.  This is a complex area of law, and you should make doubly sure of all current federal, state and local laws before proceeding.  Failing to follow all laws and fulfill all requirements could have extremely unpleasant consequences.


Most shotguns have some form of shoulder stock, which aids in accuracy and recoil control.  This can be a fixed stock of wood or synthetic material, a collapsing or folding stock, or even only a pistol grip, as long as the overall length of the shotgun is not less than 26″ (unless the appropriate tax stamp, as described above, is acquired).  Sometimes a standard stock has a pistol grip built-in, for more control.  The most versatile option would be a pistol grip to which a stock could be easily attached.  I’ve heard of something from CAA (Command Arms Accessories) which looks like it might provide this, but I have not seen one in person to verify if that is the case, or how sturdy is the attachment.  Both Remington and Mossberg offer versions of their shotguns which have assorted stocks which can be changed without tools.  The Remington MCS system only works on the MCS model 870, which appears to come with a set of barrels from 10″ to 18″, meaning it is a NFA weapon which will cost three times as much and require a tax stamp.  The Mossberg FLEX system appears to be compatible with all model 500 shotguns.  As an alternative, a folding stock may be adequate.

Most modern shotguns allow for easily modifying your stock options.

If I was looking for a stock, I’d investigate the CAA one, since in an emergency situation, sometimes you’d want the best accuracy of a stock and sometimes you’d want the compactness of a pistol grip, and folding stocks tend to be uncomfortable to use extended, and bulky when folded.  If the CAA did not meet my requirements, any standard synthetic stock would do, and for that matter, the original wood one is quite adequate.  As for a stand-alone pistol grip, in my day, the Pachmyer one was a top choice; but the price seems to have gone up considerably.  If I were getting a pistol grip today, I’d look at the Hogue one with matching forend.  It looks to be similar in feel and recoil reduction to the Pachmyr, with a more ergonomic shape and a much lower price.


Generally, the shotgun you get is adequate for sporting use as is, but most can be improved, to increase its usability or versatility.  The first thing to check is the fit of the stock.  Assuming you don’t normally wear thick armor, if you hold the shotgun in your hand as you would when firing it, and lay the stock along your forearm, the buttplate should be against your upper arm when it is at a right angle to your forearm.  If this is not the case, look into cutting down the stock or adding spacers until it fits.  While you are at it, consider upgrading to a good recoil pad and/or recoil reduction system and include that in your fit modifications.  Note that an adjustable stock would be handy to allow adjustment to different clothing or conditions.

At times you will want to be able to carry the shotgun without using your hands, so a sling, or scabbard, would be a good idea.  The simplest sling is a standard (two point) sling, attached at the butt end of the stock, and to the front of the shotgun.  Make sure it has enough adjustment to be usable under any reasonable conditions.  This type of sling can be slow to put into action though, so another option is the single point sling, which is attached to one point near the receiver of the gun, and the gun just hangs down and can flop around, perhaps too much.  The best choice might be a sling which converts from single point to two point, so you can choose which characteristic is more appropriate.  Connecting the sling to the butt end is pretty straightforward; there will be an attachment point or you can install one very simply by drilling an appropriate sized hole in the stock or by installing an adapter between the stock and the receiver.  Connecting to the front end can be more of a challenge.  You may have to clamp something around the barrel, or screw something into the magazine tube cap.  GG&G has some nice ones held on by the magazine tube cap.  If making changes to the gun is not desired, you can use a “universal” mount which just has a strap which cinches around the stock or barrel.

Tune in next time for more simple modifications, and some thoughts on ammunition.

In many survival situations, a firearm would have significant value. And in some situations, it could be of critical value.  For each potential use, there is a “best” type of

In my years prepping I have found a wealth of knowledge and experience in the books I have read and the resource materials I have come across to add to our library. There is a ton of knowledge for the prepper community out there for the taking and it is good to have so many sources of information.

Richard Duarte is a practicing attorney in Coral Gables, FL, who teaches, writes and lectures on urban survival and disaster preparedness. Surviving Doomsday starts with an explanation about his experiences with Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that destroyed his home. It was this life changing moment that focused his awareness on the need to prepare for future Hurricanes and that evolved into general preparedness for a variety of scenarios. Richard’s book is the culmination of “many years of research, trial and error” and began simply enough as a set of notes, guidelines and instructions to his family and friends. I have thought of doing something similar to what Richard has done and I guess that is what this blog is supposed to be.

Richard has done an excellent job of putting a wide and diverse sampling of prepping advice and instruction from the perspective of the Suburban or Urban survivalist. Richard seems to believe as I do that most people are not going to walk out their door, march into the woods and live off the land so he caters his information to a limited scope, the urban prepper.

Let’s start with the content Richard covers. Surviving Doomsday is a nice read at 181 pages. This is something I was able to plow through in a couple of days. The information is well organized and easy to understand. Surviving Doomsday starts with a decent overview of Richards background and motivation then goes on to illustrate various reasons why anyone who isn’t completely asleep should consider prepping.

After the introductory piece, Surviving Doomsday goes into Urban Survival, Water, Food, First Aid, and then Personal Security. The book then dives into the subject of Bugging Out vs. Sheltering in place, Bugout Bags and Get Home Bags.  Richard calls this “All the Bugs” and covers Getting Out, Staying Put and Getting Home.

After the core topics of Survival, Surviving Doomsday goes into Hygiene, Physical Conditioning and then testing your family’s survival preparations and Murphy’s law with a “24 Hour Experiment”. This is a great way to identify stress that your family will be under in a relatively controlled environment and allows you to practice using your preps and skills before a real disaster happens.

What I liked

Like I said before this is a fairly easy read and the basic information you need to stay safe and live is covered very well by Surviving Doomsday. Each chapter begins with a  bullet-ed list of items that will be covered and Richard expands on them throughout the chapter. The book goes into a little detail to get the concepts across and I feel this is a great book to give someone who is completely new to the idea of prepping. This information is easy to understand and Richard does a great job of going into enough detail to back up his information.

What I didn’t like

Really there was nothing I didn’t like. At first I looked at the book and said, “Hey no illustrations!” but they really weren’t necessary and I looked at my copy of James Wesley Rawles’ “How to Survive The End of the World as We Know It” and there aren’t any illustrations in there either. I like pictures but the information is general enough that they aren’t necessary and it isn’t like you are tearing apart a motor here. This is just good practical advice.

There were a couple of places where I had a very slight disagreement but they were extremely minor and just my difference of opinion. Nothing in this book is what I would consider incorrect or bad information and everyone has slightly different approaches. Richard has done an excellent job of presenting a wide swath of information while making it clear, easy to understand and compelling to just about any reader.

You can purchase Surviving Doomsday – A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster on Amazon.com. It would make a great first addition to your survival library.

In my years prepping I have found a wealth of knowledge and experience in the books I have read and the resource materials I have come across to add to

Food is one thing that virtually everyone can agree you need to have because we have all, to some extent in our lives, known the feeling of being hungry. Yes, the seriousness of the actual hunger is probably very relative and for the overwhelming majority, this hunger, however severe it felt to us at the time, was probably nowhere near as drastic as we envisioned. Most of us have never been without food for more than a single day much less a week or more, but the gut tightening response is strong enough to elicit some realization that we never would want to go without for very long anyway.

After the pain of hunger, we can easily grasp the body’s need for food. Simply put, without food, we die. Sure, the time it would take varies by situation but it is generally accepted that if you don’t eat food for three weeks you aren’t going to be contributing to society any more. Nobody wants that to happen.

But for many preppers, and I would presume most of the unprepared out there, the question comes up relative to how much food you have stored; what would you do if the food ran out? What if something happened and you were unable to acquire any more food through traditional means and your family was hungry? What would you be forced to do in order to live? Have you thought about what you are prepared to do to feed your family when their lives are on the line?

Recently, a FEMA contractor predicted that due to potential shortages and weather related events in the future, there could be a spike in food prices of 395%. If that happens, would you be able to feed your family?

Where does your food come from?

I started thinking about this topic the other day during a very routine act that happens every day in the world and has been happening since the dawn of time. This Spring, we purchased about a dozen chickens as our older flock had really decreased their egg production and we had given them away to friends who own a farm. Some of the new chickens we purchased were sexed, meaning their color determined what sex they were so you were pretty much assured to be getting hens. Hens are all we wanted because they lay eggs.

But I also got about 8 Rhode Island Red chicks and with those you really don’t know what you are getting until they mature. As ours matured, it became pretty obvious that we had a few roosters in the bunch. Roosters, as I told my daughter sarcastically, don’t lay eggs. On top of that, roosters are not allowed in our city and ours had started practicing their crowing in the mid-morning. Each day I would cringe when I heard their call knowing that any day one of my neighbors could (but probably never would) call the authorities and they would be well within their rights. I know I wouldn’t want Roosters crowing that weren’t mine beside my home. It was time to get rid of the roosters in my flock.

To be perfectly honest, I had not in my life ever harvested any of our chickens. We have had chickens for over three years, but missed my first opportunity when some friends harvested theirs but I wasn’t able to go. I did put it off because we were still getting eggs even though the output was more sporadic. I had harvested deer several times so this wasn’t anything I was really upset about or dreading. It was just another chore but taking a live animal out and going through the necessary processes to obtain a meal are a little different.

Can you kill your dinner?

After a little research just to make sure I had all the bases covered, I set up a table, prepared hot water and got bowls, knives and trashcans situated. I then went in to get the roosters. As it turns out, we lost the chicken lottery this time around and out of 8 chicks, 5 of them were roosters. I had hoped for a lot more egg production, but instead I was getting meat.

I caught the first rooster and hung it upside down by the feet while my dog watched with curiosity. Once the chicken settled down, I brought it over to the stump I had in my yard. I had pounded two nails into the stump to loosely hold the chicken’s head so I could stretch it out slightly for a clean shot at the neck. I have heard some people just wring the chicken’s neck but I wanted to be a little quicker and cleaner so I got out my trusty hatchet. After hesitating a good long 3 seconds, which seemed longer in my mind, I brought the hatchet down.

Unfortunately, I misjudged where the chicken’s neck was due to the feathers so the first shot was not as clean as I hoped, but I quickly made another chop that finished him off. (Note to self: on the next one, feel where the neck is first).

You have probably heard if you haven’t experienced this for yourself that chickens will run around the yard with their heads off and this I can affirm is true. The saying, “running around like a chicken with their head cut off” is based in fact and my first rooster didn’t really run so much as flop and flap and cover a good bit of ground even though its head still remained on my makeshift chopping block. After he was dead, I dunked him into a hot pot of water until the feathers started pulling out easily, plucked him clean (which isn’t as easy or as quick as I thought it would be) and harvested him for the meat. I did that to 3 roosters that day.

Three roosters ready for plucking.

My family got into the act the next day and harvested the other two. My children participated by catching the roosters, cleaning and harvesting. My wife was the hatchet woman for the other two and I was very proud of them for stepping up and felt a little more confident in their abilities should something bad happen and our nice refrigerated, clean plastic packages of food were no longer available.

What could you face in SHTF when it comes to food?

Now many of you might be saying that of course you would kill a chicken if you were starving, but I do know that there are so many other people who would not have the stomach to do this. They would rather starve than do what is necessary to feed their family. Others would say that they would simply eat vegetables because killing another living thing is mean. I disagree on the latter part. We raised our chickens in our yard; they were treated very well and fed daily. When it was time for them to go, we killed them quickly and humanely. They were serving their purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Phase 1 Plucking Completed – No, they aren’t pretty yet and hand plucking requires a bit more time than I expected. Looking to purchase a plucker for my drill.

Still others will find themselves forced out of desperation to steal or kill to feed their family and that is not what I think any of us should be planning for. It is one thing to kill an animal (that I raised) to feed my family, it is an entirely different thing to plan to kill other humans to feed your children.

But for those who would hesitate at doing something similar, what could you be faced with? I assume that a majority do not have any livestock of their own so that leaves you with less options. Many will say they will just go hunting and I think for most people that is simply not going to be an option. First, you would need to be near animals, second, you would need to be lucky enough to shoot or trap one and third you would be competing with everyone else who had the same idea. You may not even be able to hunt because all the game has been harvested already. What then?

What you should be doing now?

I maintain that if you want to be sure your family has food on the table you should not be looking at what you will do when you are desperate. You shouldn’t be contemplating killing your neighbor or anyone for that matter for the last can of beans or joining up with a gang to break into the local distribution center. You should be preparing now by stocking up on food yourself and investing the time it takes to produce your own food.

You can take steps now to build up your own food storage so that you won’t need to worry about going hungry for a very long time. You can begin a garden to supplement what you have stored with fresh vegetables. You can and should start preserving food and learning methods to keep foods fresh if you don’t have the benefit of refrigeration.

You should also look closely at your own abilities and motivations now. If you know you might not be able to swing that hatchet down, that is even more reason to stock up ahead of time in anticipation of future troubles.  Don’t plan on doing “what it takes” later because you didn’t do what it takes now to feed your family. Act now so that you don’t have to get desperate.

Food is one thing that virtually everyone can agree you need to have because we have all, to some extent in our lives, known the feeling of being hungry. Yes,

This book was not initially listed on my list of 32 Must have prepper books only because I had not read it personally myself. I still haven’t read the Survival Handbook cover to cover, but I have read enough to comment on my thoughts about this resource and its upcoming inclusion in my list.

Before I begin, I want to level set expectations here about what this book is and Dr. Alton and Nurse Amy do the same for you in their own words right up front in their own book as well. This is not a technical manual that is given to medical students when they are learning these topics. It is a handbook and the language is written in plain-speak meant to distill a ton of information into small digestible chunks. I think the authors are very clear with that but I have read a few other reviews from people who complain that the book didn’t go into enough detail. Which leads me to question; what these complainers were expecting in the first place?

If you expect to be able to pay less than $40 for a book that teaches you everything you are going to learn in medical school, you need a reality check. That simply isn’t going to happen and to believe that all you need are a few highly technical manuals, but zero training and you will be all set to survive Armageddon as the local surgeon I think you are delusional.

Now, with that out of the way, I think this book is a tremendous resource for the average prepper who can easily tackle a lot of the subjects covered by this book and in doing so, help their fellow survivors to heal and stay healthy.

The Survival Medicine Handbook covers a wide range of topics, but I think it was written from the perspective of complete novices having to deal with injuries and illnesses you might encounter any normal day, but without the ability to drive down the road to your local Primecare or hospital. There is a decent sized section up front that deals with the reality of our world now and as so many other books that are prompting you to begin prepping, the Survival Medicine Handbook lays out the case nicely. After the why you should be prepping section, Dr. Alton and Nurse Amy dive right in and cover everything from hygiene and sanitation to hemorrhoids. Actually they go further, but I thought that was a nice place to end. – pun intended.

The Survival Medicine Handbook covers a lot of ground on topics that you would expect from simply being outside more often than you might be used to and thinking about a SHTF event, this could be normal for most of us. There is plenty of content on wound treatment which along with illness I think are two of the three most scary aspects of life in a grid-down world. As long as you are staying healthy by not contaminating what you come into contact with by practicing good hygiene, the next thing you have to worry about is getting hurt or getting sick. The handbook lays out clear instructions on how to do things like suture skin (which definitely takes practice), treat burns and even amputations. Like I said, there aren’t technical instructions with dozens of photos, but the process is clearly described and if you find yourself in the situation of needing to amputate a leg, the actual procedure isn’t the most important thing I don’t think.

Which brings me to the third scariest aspect of a collapse and that is a lack of medicine. We have a lot of companies who sell fish antibiotics but the Survival Medicine Handbook actually tells you what to use to treat different ailments.

All in all, I think this is an incredible resource that along with some medical training, the will to help and treat people and some common medical supplies would give you the prepared individual a huge leg up if we have to go through a collapse. This book is hefty and at over 500 pages, I doubt many people would be bugging out with it, but I do think the Survival Medicine Handbook deserves a place on your survival bookshelf. I know I am glad it is on mine.

This book was not initially listed on my list of 32 Must have prepper books only because I had not read it personally myself. I still haven’t read the Survival