I personally shop online for almost anything I can for a couple of reasons. First is the incredible ability to research and check prices. I can read or watch video reviews for any products I am considering before making a final decision. Secondly, I hate going to the mall or just about any other shopping center type of place with a passion – I would just about rather take a kick to the head than go to the mall during Christmas, but even the rest of the year shopping online is just my preferred option. I was looking around for more prepper and survival gear the other day and often readers ask for gear recommendations so I wanted to give you this list of the best-selling prepper items but with a twist. I want to also give you my opinions on why this list is wrong when taken from the standpoint of what people should be focusing on. I will show the best sellers and give alternate items you should have if you don’t already.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

The LifeStraw is a great idea and Water is the highest priority, all things being equal, you should focus on when preparing for any kind of unforeseen emergency. But I think the LifeStraw itself has some limitations and drawbacks that would make me choose another option for water filtration.

For starters, the LifeStraw is really meant for only one person. If you have a couple of people to provide clean water for, this isn’t ideal. Next, you must stick your face down in the water for this to work. Not only does this require you to get up close and personal with your water source but it also prevents you from being able to fully stay aware of your surroundings. Yes, you can fill a container up with water and stick the LifeStraw in that, but why? Additionally, can’t take any water with you for later because the LifeStraw only works when you have a water source to stick the straw into. Lastly, the LifeStraw only filters up to 1000 liters before it is no longer safe.

For me, there are a couple of other options. For just about the same price, size/weight footprint, the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is far superior. It filters 100, 000 gallons, comes with it’s own bag that you can fill to quench your thirst, then refill for the road and still has all the microorganism filtering benefits. To me, these are the most minimal and basic water filters you can get, but it’s probably better to expand to a slightly larger capacity system.

The best solution in my opinion is a gravity fed water filtration system. Why? Unlike manual pump filters like the Katadyn Hiker or the MSR Miniworks (which I own and like), gravity fed filtration systems have no moving parts to break. Also, you can just let the water filter do its job while you move on to other issues like setting up camp or observing your surroundings. I am a HUGE fan of the GravityWorks by Platypus, but they are much more expensive. They taste far better than any type of Iodine water filter system like the Polar Pure, last far longer too, can easily support multiple people and I don’t have to worry about those little glass bottles breaking on me.

Mountain House Freeze Dried Food

The next 3 items on the list of best-selling prepper gear are food so I will combine them. Mountain House is listed as the best seller and I certainly have recommended their products as a great camping or backpacking option that also work great as a preparedness option. They only require hot water and you have a meal. Now, is this the best prepper food you should get if you are trying to stock up food for emergencies?

Maybe.

Mountain House or any one of the many other manufacturers of quality freeze-dried food out there fill a need and as part of a larger food self-sufficiency strategy I think they fill a great role. If you have nothing else but Mountain House, you will still be able to feed your family with decent tasting food that requires nothing more than a fire or stove to heat the water. You can even eat out of the bag. However, I recommend a little more diversity.

Your pantry should be filled with a larger portion of foods you already eat and let the Freeze-Dried food supplement that should you need to. You probably wouldn’t want to break out some Mountain House Lasagna with Meat Sauce if your friends were coming over for dinner, but after a snow storm knocks your power out for a week, this stuff is awesome. Your own family’s needs and preferences will dictate what you store but for tips on how to get started, check out my article on 30 days of food storage for ideas on how to get a jump-start.

Emergency Disposable Rain Ponchos

No offense to the good-looking group pictured here, but preppers shouldn’t be buying these cheap bags expecting protection.

Number three on the list of the best-selling prepper gear is Emergency Rain Ponchos? Seriously? Granted, this is from Amazon.com but these are glorified trash bags meant to give you some protection if you are out at a theme park let’s say and an unexpected downpour threatens to ruin the fun. No self-respecting prepper should have to resort to this because if you can’t find out what the weather is going to be and plan accordingly, you have bigger things to worry about most likely.

Instead of a disposable trash bag, if you are looking for some prepper gear that isn’t a rain jacket, consider a legitimate poncho instead. These are more expensive, but the construction is vastly better and you can use these to provide shelter if you combine them with a little paracord. Usually they come in camouflage colors but you do have options if you are trying not to look tactical. You can even combine them with a poncho liner to have a great cold weather system that can keep you dry and warm.

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter

Number 4 is a means to start a fire and magnesium fire starters are a great grid-down item to have. There are many other brands out there and while I haven’t personally tested the Gerber line, I have been very happy with the craftsmanship and quality of other items like their multi-tools that I own. The Bear Grylls Fire Starter is just branded merchandise but it should do the job admirably.

Now I own several fire starters like this but you know what I own more of? Disposable lighters. They are cheap (you can get a pack of 10 for the price of one fire starter) and easier to use. Yes, they won’t last anywhere near as long as a fire starter, but if I needed to get a fire going quickly, I would much rather start my tinder off with a quick flick of my Bic and then move on.

Survival Shack Emergency Survival Shelter Tent

Keep the rain off you? Maybe? Sun? Yep. Will it keep you warm in cold climates?

Number 5 on Amazon’s list of best-selling prepper gear is essentially a big piece of Mylar with some rope. It is cheap, lightweight and compact, but when it comes to staying warm, I don’t see how this big open tent is going to help you.

In the right environment, creating a survival shelter is a free option but that assumes a lot of things. First that you have materials you can make a shelter with. Debris shelters are all the rage on YouTube for preppers and survivalists, but what if you don’t have any trees, limbs lying around or millions of leaves to cover it with?

A better option may be a survival bivvy. Advanced Medical Kits sells an Emergency Bivvy that will keep two people warm. First, it’s enclosed so you don’t have air blowing through it and wiping away any heat convection your body was making – think survival sleeping bag. It doesn’t require trees to string a rope and you get the added benefit of body heat from your buddy – assuming you are with someone. It is a little more expensive and does take up a little more room, but seems like it would be more effective at keeping you protected from the elements.

Is Best Selling Gear really the Best for You?

There are many other items on the list of best sellers and I just scratched the surface. I think in some cases; the things people buy are often out of convenience and cost savings but those two factors alone could leave you just as unprepared as if you didn’t purchase any prepper gear. Before making any prepper gear purchases, use the internet and conduct research. Take a look at what your survival priorities for the place you are or where you are going. Read articles – there are thousands out there on just about any subject related to prepping you can think of. Watch videos on YouTube and make your own mind up on what makes sense. But don’t stop there.

Actually try out the gear you just purchased. Use it to collect water and drink from it. Take that freeze-dried food out with you and make a meal. Try spending a night in that shelter or working in the rain in that poncho – start a fire. You will learn more from your own experience than anything you can read on a prepper blog and it will give you the knowledge you need to make your own, better, decisions on survival gear that works best for you.

I personally shop online for almost anything I can for a couple of reasons. First is the incredible ability to research and check prices. I can read or watch video

 

Let’s start at the very beginning. Why do you need a small business disaster recovery plan? The answer is simple. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. An even greater number fail within 1 to 3 years, due to insurmountable losses.

While the recent devastation from Hurricane Matthew may lead some to believe that business emergency preparedness applies only to large storms or natural disasters, the fact is that there are many emergencies you should prepare for that can interrupt operations and profitability, from localized outages to random fires, floods and more.

According to the 2014 Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey, over 75% of businesses have experienced the loss of at least one critical application after a power outage – leading to an estimated cost of more than $5,000 per minute. For tech reliant companies, that’s a lot to put at stake for lack of preparation.

While there are many kinds of disasters that can strike and many reasons that businesses may fail afterward, doing your business disaster planning ahead of time is an essential step to being able to recover, reopen and recoup your losses in the event of any emergency. It’s crucial not only to have the correct insurance plans in place to protect your physical assets, but also to have strong business continuity and emergency preparedness plans so during a crisis situation at work, you can put your company in position to survive.

How Do Disasters Impact Small Businesses?

Beyond the immediate economic impact of a shutdown, business disruption due to floods and hurricanes, fires, outages and other emergencies can impact your company’s chances of survival in many ways.

Physical Damage

The first way that your business could be impacted is though physical damage to the premises and facility, including the building itself, pipes, ventilation systems and more. Consider what emergencies have happened in your area before and how they’ve impacted the businesses around you. What would the cost of not doing business for an hour, day, week or even longer be? It’s time to consider how to mitigate those losses. Review your insurance policies now – the cost to rebuild is often what results in closed doors.

1994, Los Angeles, California, USA – Image by © David Butow/Corbis

Staffing and Clients

The second way a business will be impacted during an emergency is in staffing and customer retention. Employees may be evacuated or otherwise unable to come to work during the disaster, while significant damage to the area may impact both your staff and customers’ ability to return to their homes, jobs and consumer behaviors. What plans do you have in place to prepare for a change in your staffing or client base? Consider having a remote operations plan to ensure essential services continue in the event of on-site interference.

Business Disaster Planning: Be Prepared in Advance

The basics of business disaster planning have to do with effective preparation, testing, training and leadership. You have to prepare your small business continuity and recovery plans, test them regularly, train your people to perform their roles and have strong leaders in place to ensure they’re carried out when disaster strikes.

Getting Your Business Ready

Here are some of the technical things you might want to consider investing in now so you don’t regret it after a disaster:

  • Lightweight laptop that’s connected to essential business systems
  • Cell phone with mobile Wi-Fi capabilities or another sources of localized Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Cloud storage for essential documents
  • Off-premise operations hub

With cloud storage becoming more and more accessible and affordable, I highly recommend you save important business documents to a cloud storage platform, so you can still access crucial information should your on-site records be unsalvageable. It’s also important to consider where you’ll base operations if an evacuation order is issued or you’re otherwise unable to use your current facility due to damage

If you end up stranded in the office, you’ll also want to have what I call a “business BOB” on hand. Keep your bug-out bag in an area you’ll be able to access in an emergency, and stock it with essential items that can make the difference between life and death when you’re stranded at work.

Your business BOB should include enough supplies to support the people in your office for at least 72 hours:

  • Nonperishable foods and a way to prepare them – consider what you’ll do if there’s no power
  • Water, and plenty of it
  • A first aid kit, medical supplies and basic toiletries including soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, feminine products, baby wipes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc.
  • Flashlights/Headlamp
  • Blankets
  • A toolkit including a compass, flashlights, duct tape, lighters, and other common tools

You may also want to consider having backup systems of defense should your alarm systems go out – especially if your facility is at high-risk for looting or other forms of opportunism that are common during emergencies.

Getting Your People Ready

When it comes to human resources, the most important thing to consider is leadership and communication.

  • Establish leadership in advance. You should choose leaders with a high degree of trust, integrity, capability and experience.
    • Who should employees go to with questions about their work during an emergency? If you are stranded on-site, you’ll need leaders to supervise different essential areas, including food, defense, medical services and even conflict resolution.
  • Establish communications systems, buddy systems and meeting places. What will you do if wireless networks are down and you’re stranded at work?
    • Consider having a battery-operated, solar or reliable ham radio, satellite phone and other emergency communication systems on hand that can allow two-way communication and information delivery when cell phone towers and other business systems are down.
    • Sign up for alerts from the Red Cross and local authorities so you stay up-to-date on the state of the emergency.
  • Make sure every member of the team has a role and a job to do. Consider individual skill-sets – including any medical, counseling or defense training – and how they would be best put to use. Giving everyone a role not only expands the human resources you have available, but it also helps keep people calm in a crisis situation.

Long before disaster strikes, the business continuity plans you create must be shared with and practiced by employees so they know exactly what to do before panic sets in. Test your plans regularly, train employees to carry it out, assess effectiveness and always solicit for feedback. Having a plan will do nothing if it’s not tested, refined and continually refreshed.

It’s also smart to communicate your emergency and business continuity plans with any business partners who may be impacted by an interruption in your operations so they, too, know what to expect. Alerting them in advance will help them know how to stay in touch with you and help you avoid increased losses both during and after disaster.

Crisis at Work: Putting Your Plan into Action

If you’ve prepared well in advanced, you should be able to put your emergency business continuity and disaster recovery plans into action relatively smoothly. Of course, during a disaster, nothing is for sure, so here are a few tips to ensure you stay as safe as possible:

  • Immediately deploy your emergency communications system when disaster strikes to keep staff and customers alert, aware and ready to act.
  • Always follow evacuation orders and use the information available to get employees and personnel safely out of harm’s way before disaster strikes.
  • If you’re unable to exit the premises in an emergency, secure your location, people, supplies and equipment.
  • Remember that every member of your organization has value in an emergency. Just like managers look for employees’ best use when it comes to day-to-day operations, it’s important that you find the best way for everyone to contribute in an emergency so that no one feels helpless or alone.

That last point is probably the most important – beyond actually having a small business emergency recovery plan in place. Emotions run high in emergency situations, so you need to be ready to help people cope. Being sufficiently prepared prior to a disaster will go a long way to keeping everyone calm and collected until you make it safely to the other side.

Small Business Disaster Planning Resources

Explore FEMA’s Small Business Preparedness Toolkit, featuring a range of resources and planning documents.

Use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Sample Emergency Preparedness Checklist to create your own disaster checklist today.

Specific disaster preparedness information and sample assessment forms for small businesses are available at PrepareMyBusiness.org.

Get more resources from the Small Business Association:

 

  Let’s start at the very beginning. Why do you need a small business disaster recovery plan? The answer is simple. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 40

One of the concerns of anyone who is preparing for a SHTF scenario if you are being honest is the dark side of human nature. You can have all of the supplies you ever need; you could have a fully stocked pantry with enough food to feed your family for 10 years, enough ammo to conduct a 21 gun salute every minute of the day for the next 5 years and it could all be taken from you in a minute by desperate individuals who care nothing for you or your family. When hard times come, the true survival instinct kicks in at some point and that is when some of the biggest evils happen and you might find yourself defending your life. When it is desperate and it’s either you or them, most people will side with themselves and do whatever is necessary to take anything you have if what you have can help them.

We discussed the concept of Marauders in a couple of posts here on the Final Prepper and while I think the shining example of an idiot used in Doomsday Preppers was not something I would be overly concerned with (the person, not the scenario) the threat itself is very real. That is one of the reasons we talk about security for your home, maintaining an active Situational Awareness and how society can break down when there is no rule of law. History is full of too many examples of good people being killed for senseless reasons, and ignoring the very real threat that this could happen to you isn’t going to make it go away.

One of our readers is from Australia and they commented on a post I wrote a while back about the top 5 guns you need to get your hands on. The comment was essentially, that since there are no guns in Australia, this person has nothing to worry about and I don’t believe that is true. If you have no guns, you have even less of a chance of protecting yourself from bad guys that do, but lets assume for a second that Australia really had no guns whatsoever. Do you really believe that the absence of firearms is going to guarantee your safety? Tell that to the people in Nigeria who were killed with Machetes. A lack of guns doesn’t mean everything is peace, love and singing. This isn’t new and it violence won’t stop no matter what law you pass or what right you take away from people. If someone wants you dead bad enough, you are dead. That is unless you can stop them.

Guns aren’t the only way to kill a person.

Now, that is one problem, not having some means of protection, but the bigger problem is that dark and sinister element I talked about in the first paragraph. No matter what happens, if society devolves to the point of desperation people will do desperate things. There will not be any negotiating with someone who is starving if they have a plan, superior numbers and firepower. There will be people coming to take what you have and you will be lucky if this happens that nothing worse than theft occurs.

No amount of planning can prevent people out there from trying to steal what they need in order to live. You can plan all of the charity in the world, but eventually it will come down to what you need to feed your family. The line will be drawn somewhere, maybe your stocked, solar-powered retreat that they want. If you have anything at all you will be a target for people like this.

One of the concerns of anyone who is preparing for a SHTF scenario if you are being honest is the dark side of human nature. You can have all of

It is quite a rare attribute to be able to write about something I love. That thing is striking, or more specifically Boxing, Muay Thai, Roman Greco and Brazilian Jujitsu. In this article I am going to break down each of these forms of striking and grappling.  I will also explain how they can be used as a form of simple exercise as well as self defense. All of these are martial arts, which is essentially what they are, although they are not seen as “traditional” due to westerners being a little bit devoid of culture these days unless someone reminds them on their Facebook feed. But alas without starting to sound negative let’s get on with it and I will try to explain some of the history as well as the application of these activities.

Boxing’s roots are engraved in History; it is thought to have begun being accepted during the Ancient Greek Olympics in BCE 688. Prize fighting began in around 16-18th century, mostly in what is now known as the UK. In the mid 19th century it once again became popular in the UK and largely in the USA. The official sport of 12 rounds is not something I would like to address in this article it is more aimed at people looking to get into shape and learn without having to feel pressure to get into the ring or spar.

My main problem with the sport of boxing when compared to the sport of MMA for instance is that pugilistic dementia and brain trauma is so prevalent because of the use of 16oz gloves. This padding causes fighters to take way to many unnecessary shots to achieve a similar result as we are able to see with a lot of boxers today who are having major problems. As an activity boxing and training in general can be invigorating. There is no stress ball or calms tablet that can match the feeling of hitting the pads for a couple of hours. If you are a beginner I would go with some simple 14oz gloves as well a heavy bag, either the free standing or hung variations which can be found locally and on the web for next to nothing. If you have a friend or partner then I would also invest in some target pads, they will improve accuracy and allow you to develop the synapse’s, signals from your brain to your hand, to fire and move in a smooth and quick manner. Feet should be placed around shoulder width apart with knee’s slightly bent, weaker arm forward. This is your jab. Twisting your hips and shoulders with your stronger hand, this is what I call (I think it’s a European thing) our straight cross. Combine these together and you have your 1-2 aka 2! I think possibly if people like this article I will expand on these in the future, although “cough” Youtube “cough” has plenty of instructional.

Roman Greco

greco

Greco-Roman Wrestling

As the name implies, the history of this sport comes from the Greek ancient civilization that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea many, many moons ago. As a Brit, we never really embraced this Greco as a sport or an activity which we now have to play catch up in MMA. Wrestlers in MMA are notoriously tough, they are experience in extremely tough physical and a mental situation as well as the strenuous and sometimes dangerous dieting that go’s on in this world. As I am still learning both forms of grappling I will keep this section brief but I cannot emphasis enough that this is a great sport for almost everyone due to the fact that you can spar 100% power without being in a dangerous physical situation like sparring, the only other activity where you can do this is Jujitsu, which I am going to mention later on.

The main body I focus on when wrestling or sparring with friends is strength and conditioning. In terms of technique wrist control is an excellent form of effective practice. As well as this you will need to understand the basics of under hooks, over hooks, single legs, double legs, trips and throws. Just by sparring you can get a feel for what is effective if you practice these and it will let you understand how people move and where they apply force when in a physical situation. Once you understand this and have some experience you can begin using and going for wrist control and under hooks to negate your opponents striking and get him or her to the ground using these techniques. People I would look to learn these techniques are George St Pierre, the recently retired MMA champ who is able to cover distance and use perfect technique in a split second. But to be honest anyone who has trained for years would be an excellent person to look to learn new techniques and polish old ones, there are so many to list it would be an article in itself.

Overall, in my opinion, this is one of the most effective martial arts in the world. If you look at MMA, wrestlers almost always prevail, if a world class striker such as James Tony hype a fight for months, then get into the cage and not be able to throw a single punch and then tap within the first round, there is no denying its effectiveness.

Muay Thai

Muay-Thai-Photos-Kaokla

Muay Thai Fighting

My favorite form of striking is Muay thai. When I began learning how to kick I actually watched Bas Rutten’s instructional, which is more of a Dutch style (Very popular and effective). The art of 8 limbs utilities hands, elbows, knees and kicks. The extreme turning over of the hips when moving and setting up leg, body or head kicks generates an extreme amount of power that is almost unmatched by any other effective form of striking. Southpaw’s facing orthodox opponents are able to utilize the liver kick. One of the most brutal places to take a full power strike that paralyses the opponent in pain when performed correctly. Ronda Rousey recently finished Silver medal Olympic wrestler Sarah Mcmann with a barrage of knee strike’s to the liver in the first round of their championship fight. Which brings me to another aspect of Thai fighting, the clinch. Often called the “Plum” both hands are placed around the back of the neck of the opponent, then the head is pulled down into knee strike aimed at the head and body. Anderson Silva used these in a championship fight against Rich Franklin, throwing him off balance and delivering brutal knee’s to win the title. Overall you will need to be looking to get some Thai pads if you want to kick with a friend as normal pads won’t be able to take the impact. I would recommend getting a heavy bag and some shin pads, just to save your ankles when learning.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

brazilian-jiu-jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

BJJ was a part Judo in Japan and brought into Brazil by Mitsuyo Maeda, who taught the then Japanese martial art to the famous Gracie family. Maeda was well known throughout his day and performed in over 2000 fights in his career. BJJ is most well known for being a martial art where strength and size can be neutralized by a good BJJ student. This is possibly by using two extremely important points that are used throughout BJJ, Leverage and good technique. Armed with these and a positive attitude, BJJ focuses on teaching youth’s especially the traditional attitude that is associated with martial arts such as respect and living by strong morals. Once of the most famous BJJ black belt is Royce Gracie, One of the slighter members of his huge family of potential killers. He attended earlier UFC event against much larger, stronger opponents (A juiced up Ken Shamrock, a freestyle Wrestler at the time) comes to mind. He was able to overcome, tied up and finish his opponents, becoming the first champion in a tournament where some of his opponents where literally 2-3 times larger than him in a competition that at that time, has very little rules.

As with wrestling, you are able to spar 100% unlike striking sports, which in my opinion is very effective as you will become better faster and be more prepared if you ever need to use your skills. Bruce Lee once said that “Punch bags don’t hit back” which is definitely something to keep in mind, but to be honest it all depends on your application. This article was meant to be an overview to let people understand some effective forms of exercise and combat in 2014. This is also not a be all and end all list of what is effective, Judo and Karate is showing its effectiveness more and more. I am sure within a couple of years we will see a change and someone will adapt and evolve their style to make it effective against the others. That is why I love MMA. It is constantly changing, improving all the time. The true champions of these arts maintain what I think is one of the most effective special move you will learn, Respect to others and being a positive outgoing person. This is emphasized over and over by the true champions, this attitude is prevalent at the peaks as well as the valley’s where skills are not used because we practice being human in this ever increasing world of anti social behavior.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, Again it was just a brief overview and I am by no means an expert in these areas, although I do train in them. It was more to just introduce new people into a world of sport and exercise that I love and will follow for years to come.

It is quite a rare attribute to be able to write about something I love. That thing is striking, or more specifically Boxing, Muay Thai, Roman Greco and Brazilian Jujitsu.

 

I am vegan and I have no intention of being vegan in SHTF. However knowing some tips and tricks about the vegan diet might help us all out when the worst happens and the shelves empty forever.

For most people likely the idea of having to eat an exclusively vegan diet is their idea of the apocalypse! No more bacon and beef burgers. Leaving aside the other valid reasons to embrace a vegan diet before SHTF this article is a none expert’s view on how to eat better if there are no more open stores and the only meat for miles is the odd rat.
Personally I plan on eating that rat in SHTF but I was recently asked to put together a how to article on how to be vegan in SHTF if meat, fish, dairy, and/or eggs are unavailable. I would argue that meat food preparation is the easiest of all if you embrace the SHTF and accept that Costco is gone forever and so is McDonalds. You should have plenty of meat sources stored and have a good idea of how to hunt and trap those local rats.

Having been vegetarian for 12 years and vegan the last 5 years I know how to eat well without animal products. I also know, and this is a critical point, that small amounts of meat and fish go a long, long way. While grabbing that tin of meat balls and eating it dumped over your white rice might work in a short-term SHTF in a long-term event what a waste! Use a tiny amount as protein is readily available from nature and using a huge intake is not necessary. More on this later.

Eating vegan means variety and eating a wide range of different vegetable sources. Eating vegan using the available produce in our modern world is easy and tasty. In SHTF this won’t be the case but nor will it be the case for anyone eating any other type of diet.

What Can Go Wrong with Being a Vegan?

Nothing much as it improves your sex life and general longevity but certain things can easily become dangerously low using a vegan diet. These pre SHTF include calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids (Read more here). The occasional rat takes care of calcium (hum, rat bones!), iron, and zinc. In fact your garden (you have plans for one and have seeds and know how to save them, right?) will almost supply everything you need.

Zinc

This needs to be taken care of as it is essential but how to get it when there is just no meat or stores anymore? Soya beans grow easily even in southern Canada so growing them and knowing how they can be used and stored is an essential skill. Green peas also are easy to grow and help with zinc. Nuts need to be found, prepared, and stored. I have acorns and black walnuts in my area. You need to know what you have in yours and how to harvest, prepare, and store these nuts. It is labor intensive and a skill.

Calcium

Spinach I hear you cry! Popeye had this as his source of strength. Yes and no. It is high in calcium but that calcium is bound to oxalate which renders it hard to absorb. For this reason use it as it is easy to grow and tasty but also grow rocket, cabbage, parsley, and kale (Bet you have been waiting for kale! Preparing tips after this this section). Use these heavily in both SHFT and now. Cow’s milk is very; very good at blocking calcium absorption which is why very few vegan females have osteoporosis.

Iron

A normal vegan diet supplies plenty of iron despite the myths. Just eat a lot of dark green vegetables. I became anemic (lack of iron) about a year and half into my badly thought out vegetarian diet and I suspect a lot of preppers will as well in a long-term SHTF. Eat those vegetables, eat them a lot, and eat them daily.

B12

This vitamin is infamous in vegans yet most vegans and almost everyone else know next to nothing about it. You will need supplements and fortified foods. However gardening in good quality soil and regular rotation of the fields will introduce some B12 into your body if you do not mechanically scrub the vegetables. This is not a reliable source so long-term you need to eat small amounts of meat. Fortified vegan foods and grains work well now but in long-term SHTF I plan to use my rat traps!

Can you fish in SHTF? Fish and the problem with a source for Omega 3 mainly goes away.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Black walnuts are essential in SHTF and a good long-term supply of chia seeds is helpful. You can get Omega 3 from soya beans and leafy greens but it is unreliable. Can you fish in SHTF? Fish and this issue mainly goes away. Salmon run near me and I plan on grabbing them in the Spring and dehydrating them for the year.

Vitamin D

This is of no concern in SHTF as the time in the sun throughout the year will generally give you adequate amounts. Eating the occasional egg also removes any worries about this. Know where the local birds nest and eggs are on the menu in the early Summer.

What Might Be Lacking in a Vegan diet in SHTF?

Top of my list is Vitamin C as I do not live in Florida. There’s no issue at present as trucks and trains bring me lots of oranges but in a long term SHTF I need sources found in Southern Canada.

So wild strawberries and blackberries I will have to find, harvest, and store. But what can I easily grow to cover this one? Orange trees won’t work. Have seeds and grow bell peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and leafy greens. One of the go to foods in SHTF needs to be parsley. Easy to grow, looks like nothing worth plundering, and full of vitamin C and calcium. Most people might add a sprig for decoration or a sprinkle on their slab of meat but as a vegan I can tell you it is awesome chopped up and added to salads and rice. Eat lots of it.

Protein.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “so how do you get your protein?” I would be very rich. My diet is loaded with it and yours is probably in excess if you eat meat. Protein in excess is very bad for the kidneys. Peas, beans, amaranth, millet, and dried pastas are full of it. Eat a wide variety of vegetables and this one is taken care of. I said earlier I would mention vegan ways versus business normal. Well I bet you have tins of tuna and Spam hidden away in your stock pile? Add a tin to a lot of rice and eat over 2-3 days. Before each meal chop up and throw in available greenery. Protein now is not your concern.

Time

A vegan diet without a decent blender (Vitamix or BlendTek) is nearly impossible. I do plan some solar power to use mine but without one preparing food will be a massive time commitment. Cook in bulk and add the greens each meal. Have excellent knives and have the ability to sharpen them every time you use them.

What do you need to know now about vegan diets?

Have seeds and know where you will grow them

Have seeds and know where you will grow them. For me I plan to grow a lot the first season after the first Winter post SHTF. I cannot see much point defending a garden from hungry people. Up here in Southern Canada they will die in the first Winter and afterwards trading and survivors should be friendly.

My main foods stored are vegan with long-lasting tomato sauces, pastes, etc. and pastas (fortified). I have a fair amount of tinned fish and meat as I think sticking to being a vegan in the SHTF would be deadly. Like foreign vacations the vegan diet is great for you but in SHTF won’t be available or would be dangerous. Vegans need lots of different types of intake to stay healthy and that just won’t happen easily in SHTF.

Powered greens and vegan powders are generally very expensive and I can see no use for them at all in SHTF. For me they are not a part of my planning but research them and they might be a bridge for you. I prefer actual real preserved foods than using this sort of thing. Collard, Swiss Chard, and Kale all dehydrate easily under glass in the Summer and can crush up and packed tight into a glass jar. Even without canning this source of green stuff lasts 8-12 months. Have lots of glass jars with air tight lids.

One thing you might not know is that Kale and Swiss Chard and Collard greens come in different varieties. Have a wide selection of types not just one type. Another tip is decent knives and remove the stems and only eat the leaf. Good scissors work very well in preparing leaf vegetables. The stems are very bitter. I think people hate Kale because of this basic preparing error. Kale is actually really tasty.

Amaranth

This is a seed that thinks it is a grain and a good one. It is complete protein and should be part of your pre SHTF garden. Grows tall and has colorful red leaves so put it around your place not just in the vegetable garden. It does well in drought and heat. For fun in SHTF you can pop it and have popcorn around the camp fire. Boil the seeds for a strange but okay porridge or use as a type of pasta/grain.

The leaves are a decent addition to any meal and the root can be eaten if the plant is mature though I have not tried the root. Plant it around the neighborhood as it acts like a weed and no one else will know to eat it in SHTF as red means danger!

Quinoa is a similarly useful crop and I am growing my first this year.

The obvious is the Three Sisters and history is something we all need to focus on. Again my tip is different types of squash, corn, and beans. The more variety the less chance of a crop wipe out and variety is the spice of life.

Anyhow I hope this gave you food for thought

  I am vegan and I have no intention of being vegan in SHTF. However knowing some tips and tricks about the vegan diet might help us all out when the

You may have heard of the increasingly prominent use and promotion of what is being called essential oils if you have read any prepping blogs or self-sufficient literature in the last few years. Essential oils are typically derived from plants and their uses in Aromatherapy or Naturopathy are numerous. You can buy individual oils for specific ailments or boxes containing hundreds of oils. I remember one Doomsday Preppers episode where the preppers planned to use small drones to send survival kits consisting of essential oils to fallen neighbors after some pandemic.

I don’t know anything really about the usefulness of natural “Essential Oils” but I don’t dismiss the validity of their claims. I am sure there are tangible benefits to be realized by depending more on nature to heal our bodies as opposed to the concoctions of the pharmaceutical companies, but this post isn’t about Rosemary or Lavender. In this article, I wanted to talk about the other oils we use all of the time to make our vehicles go, to lubricate our power tools or to light our way. In a survival situation you may need to look at stocking up on some other essential oils.

Oils for your vehicle

Yes, we need to plan on our vehicles working even after a SHTF event. Many assume that an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) would render all electronics inoperable and that may be the case, but I don’t know if every single vehicle in the world can be counted on to be worthless in the future. There are some essential oils that you could store away just in case you have to keep that Bug Out Vehicle running. Some of these aren’t technically considered oil but they do fall into the lubricant category. The list below would also extend to off-road vehicles.

  • Motor Oil – Motor oil is an easy one for most people even though I would bet that a majority of us, myself included take our vehicles to a service station for an oil change. Even though I do that now, I certainly have changed my fair share of oil in the past and could easily do it again. Having spare motor oil is an easy prep that you can store away in the back of the shed. Don’t forget oil filters for your vehicle too.
  • Transmission fluid – Many newer cars have what are called sealed transmissions but if you have service instructions in your owner’s manual for transmission fluid, it can be replaced. Imagine not going to the mechanic for 10 years? Many manufacturers recommend changing the transmission fluid every 30 or 60 thousand miles. Consult your manual and get the recommended replacement amount just in case.
  • Power steering fluid – If you have power steering, you might need to flush this out or top it off after a leak. Careening down trails in the back country could cause some damage you need to fix with spare hose and your trusty Leatherman.
  • Brake Fluid – Brake fluid could run out or need topping off so this is another good one to have on hand. A small can goes a very long way.
  • Lubricating grease – In my Army days we used to have to grease all of our fittings on our trucks and there were a ton of them. There aren’t as many on my current vehicle, but I can still lubricate several points along the drive-shaft and it’s good to have some lubricating grease on hand. As well as vehicle maintenance, you never know when you might have to make a sticky bomb.

Hand tools are important, but if I can use a chainsaw, I will.

Oils for your Power Equipment

So now you have most of the major oils and fluids for your vehicles, what about the power equipment you will likely rely on when the world ends? What equipment you ask? I can think of generators, chain saws, garden tillers, and mowers. Given enough time and desperation, there is probably a never-ending list of creative things people could do with the engines in our sheds. If the grid goes down, I seriously doubt I will be mowing the grass, but I could easily see a need for a chainsaw and I might be able to convert that mower into a survival generator.

  • 2 cycle Oil – For any engines (like chain saws) that need to have the oil mixed in with the fuel.
  • Chain oil/ Bar oil – To lubricate your chainsaw blade and help it slide over the bar.
  • WD40 – For just about anything that the oils above don’t fix.

Lighting and Fuel

You would use anything other than batteries for lighting? Sure I would, with caution. I have some great kerosene lamps that I would break out if needed. In the winter time they would even be more valuable because they put out a good bit of heat.

  • Lamp Oil – I have lamp oil for my lamps that burns nice and clean, but they also burn kerosene. This lamp fuel is pretty cheap and I have several gallons stored for an emergency.
  • Kerosene – Kerosene runs my heater and those lamps in a pinch. I could even barter with any extra fuel if the opportunity came up.
  • Extra Gas – I have frequently written about the benefits of even 20 gallons of gas stored properly and how that could help you in an emergency. You could avoid the gas lines or use that fuel to fill vehicles and get out of dodge.
  • Stabil – To make sure your stored fuel is protected against the effects of degradation, use a good additive like Stabil to keep your fuel fresh. Even with this, I add the fuel to my vehicles yearly and fill my containers with fresh fuel.

Oils for your Health

This list will likely be the one that people point out all of the oils I have missed and that is perfectly fine. I threw a few of these in here that were actually oils that I could see from a strictly utilitarian viewpoint. I know there are more but these three have immediate uses I could identify.

  • Mineral Oil – Did you know that you can preserve eggs for at least a year by coating them with Mineral Oil? In addition to making eggs last eggstra long (OK, I couldn’t resist) you can also use mineral oil as a topical moisturizer. It is supposed to also make a good laxative but I haven’t tried it.
  • Vaseline – Ointment and lubricant that can be used for hands, feet, lips, elbows; pretty much anywhere you have dry or cracked skin.
  • Tea Tree Oil – This can be applied to the skin for infections such as acne, fungal infections of the nail, lice, scabies, athlete’s foot and ringworm. My kids were unfortunate enough to bring lice home from summer camp one year and we all shampooed with Tea Tree Oil shampoo for a month, but no lice for me. According to WebMD, It is also used topically as a local antiseptic for cuts and abrasions, for burns, insect bites and stings, boils, vaginal infections, toothache, infections of the mouth and nose, sore throat. Ask your doctor if Tea Tree Oil is right for you.

Oils for Cooking

The last category I will include are cooking oils. You need a healthy amount of oil in your diet and some of this can come from the oils used to prepare your food. Oils don’t typically have a long storage life, but having extra on hand can make cooking much easier.

  • Cooking Oils/Vegetable/Olive/Canola – Need to fry up some squirrel that you brought home from your big hunting expedition? A little oil in your cast iron pan will help that little guy out and make cleaning easier.
  • Shortening/Lard – I know Crisco isn’t that healthy, but it sure does make a yummy icing for a birthday cake. Saving your grease from cooking other foods like bacon makes a good substitute for frying needs, but maybe not dessert. Yes, there will be cake after TEOTWAWKI or someone will be in trouble.

Oils for your weapons

Initially when I wrote this article, I left this all too important oil off the list. You need to protect the metal that is protecting your life. Cleaning supplies and weapon oils are very important supplies to have.

So there is my short list. What oils did I miss? What essential oils have you stocked up on?

You may have heard of the increasingly prominent use and promotion of what is being called essential oils if you have read any prepping blogs or self-sufficient literature in the

Because the topic has been discussed extensively, I had sworn off writing about investing in precious metals as part of a preparedness strategy.  However, everything I see on the subject seems so flawed and misleading that I simply cannot resist the impulse to share some alternate (or perhaps less-biased) views on the subject.

It seems that everyone who is advocating metal investments starts their sales pitch with the claim that the investor should buy metals to protect the value of their assets from a dramatic decline in the value of the dollar (aka ‘inflation’).  Eventually however, those same advocates close their pro-metal argument by predicting that the metal initially purchased for some number of dollars will ultimately be worth a great many more of those same dollars.

Surely I’m not the only person who sees the contradiction in measuring the success of an investment in terms of the very store of value that one has already called into question?  Someone who truly believes that the value of the dollar will plunge should not, in their next breath, define the success of any investment in terms of those same dollars.  To value things in terms of dollars is to worship at the altar of the dollar, and to lash one’s future to the mast of the sinking ship that all preppers seek to escape!

In this article I will provide a perspective on metals investing that is intended to enable the prepper to make the best possible decisions for their unique circumstances.

Why Metals?

Gold, silver and other metals are commodities, just as are oil, barrels of wheat and ‘pork bellies’.  These other commodities could also be used as a store of value; however there are some important reasons that precious metals are most often preferred:

  • Precious metals don’t degrade substantially over time.
  • Metals are easier to transport – they pack a large amount of value into smaller space.
  • Metals are ‘fungible’ – an ounce of bullion in one location can be exchanged for an ounce of the same bullion elsewhere with no change in value.
  • Unlike agricultural products, the value of metals does not change with the weather or other transient phenomena.

These characteristics of metals have made them an attractive store of value since the dawn of civilization.

It’s All About  V-A-L-U-E

If I were to offer to give you either a crisp, mint-condition twenty dollar bill or another old, weather-beaten twenty dollar bill that had been signed by Elvis Presley, which would you take?  Virtually anyone would take the old, signed bill over the new one simply because there is the belief that the value of the signed bill is much greater than the value of the new one (you could get more “stuff” for the signed bill).

Wise investors don’t think in terms of the dollar value (aka “price”) of their assets nearly as much as they consider the real value, which may not be directly expressed in any quantitative way at all.  For example, if you were to purchase a golf course in an city that a large golfing demographic is relocating into then you would simply know that the value of that investment is going to grow wildly, regardless of the value of the dollar or any other currency.

Ultimately it boils down to “what you can get for your investment”.  If you could purchase 100,000 gallons of regular gasoline with the money you paid for that golf course, and two years later you could sell that golf course and use that money to purchase 500,000 gallons of the same fuel, then you would know that you had made a very good investment.

This principal of ‘true value’ also applies when evaluating the value of the stock market.  There is a measure of the value of the stock market that is called the “DOW in gold dollars” (“DIG$”), which is basically a measure of the value of the DOW Joes industrial average as expressed in troy ounces of gold (a ‘troy ounce’ is a unit of weight that is very nearly 10% heavier than the more commonly used ‘avoirdupois ounce’ – for historical reasons precious metals are still measured in troy ounces.).

By considering value in terms of precious metals one completely takes the dollar (which has whatever arbitrary value the Federal Reserve decides to give it through control of the printing presses) out of your calculations.  Just image how much clearer a picture that would provide you in terms of making ANY sort of medium- to long- term financial decision!

It should be noted that the value of metals is itself not constant.  Theoretically someone might discover a mountain of silver somewhere which would cause the value of silver to plummet.  However, throughout history the value of metals has been vastly more stable than the value of national currencies.

Metals For Post-Collapse Barter

During and after a major disaster it may be impossible to find anyone willing to sell tangible goods for any number of dollars, however it may be possible to, in many instances, trade precious metals for needed goods and services.  Under those circumstances one should base one’s assessment of the value of their metals on their pre-disaster value.  For example, if one ounce of silver bullion were selling today for $20, then it is roughly selling for the price of two good meals or 5 gallons of regular gas.  During and after a major disaster one should expect the value of their metals to somewhat reflect those pre-disaster values.   During the post-disaster recovery the value may grow to be substantially higher, while during the disaster itself the value may be reduced a bit to reflect the fact that “you can’t eat silver”.

SIDENOTE: When my oldest son graduated from college and relocated to the other side of the country I gave him several one-ounce silver rounds, with instructions that he should always equate each of those to one-third of a tank of gas, or to a good meal for himself and his girlfriend.

Metals as the Debtor’s Best Friend

Homeless during the Great Depression

The paradox of precious metals – and one of the salient points that served as the impetus for this article – is that the most substantial advantage offered by metals accrues to those who are least able and likely to own them.  In an inflationary environment (and particularly in the hyper-inflationary environment that many preppers anticipate) the dollar value of precious metals becomes very high while the dollar value of debts remains fixed (in other words, the amount you owe for debts remains unchanged).  Imagine the case of someone purchasing a quality of metals for $1000 and having the dollar value of those metals increase to $100,000 – that individual might then sell those metals and use the cash from that sale to pay off a mortgage.

NOTE: During America’s Great Depression there were countless stories of families being evicted from their homes due to inability to pay their mortgage.  In today’s world the possession of precious metals may be the critical factor in one being able to preserve one’s home.

Meanwhile, the multimillionaire who almost certainly had no debt gets the advantage of preserving the value of his or her holdings, but does not realize the much larger windfall of paying off debt with ‘cheaper dollars’ (assuming that the multimillionaire is debt-free).

This is yet another important reason that preppers should give consideration to owning physical metals.  Perhaps, post-disaster, the dollar value of the metals does not increase sufficiently to pay off a mortgage; however it may very well enable the prepper to service that mortgage long enough for the economy to begin to recover.

Disadvantages of Metals

Holding precious metals is just one of many strategies that are available to the prepper.  Money that could be invested into metals could also be invested into gaining new skills and knowledge that will be needed post-disaster.  Unlike metals, skills and knowledge cannot be taken from you.

One very real risk that the prepper runs when investing in metals is a government confiscation similar to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6102, signed on May 1, 1933, that required all citizens holding more than 5 troy ounces of gold to sell their gold to the government (there were certain minor exemptions – for example for jewelers, dentists and sign-makers).  In today’s dollars the fine for non-compliance with the law was over $180,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison!

There are many who claim that there would never be a return of gold confiscation due to protections that have been built into today’s modern economy.  Perhaps these claims are accurate, but it is also not difficult to imagine metals being confiscated on principle alone, since “hoarding” of metals represents a lack of faith in ‘the system’ that ‘the system’ simply may not be willing to tolerate.  Regardless, if those with metals are forced to sell them at market rates the metals will almost certainly have still increased dramatically in dollar value before that time, and the money derived from that sale could still be re-invested in other preps.

Another disadvantage of holding physical metals is the risk of theft.  Laws have been passed that call into question the security of the contents of safe deposit boxes against seizure, and one must also question other 3rd parties that offer to store metals for the investor (particularly in the aftermath of a major disaster).  These considerations cause many savvy investors to maintain physical possession of their metals, with some actually choosing to bury their metals underground for safe storage.

Yet another risk associated with investment in metals is that they become so popular that yet another ‘bubble’ (this time a ‘gold bubble’) develops in the economy.  This could result in a dramatic drop in the value of metals.  Most experts do not believe that at present we are experiencing any sort of gold bubble.

NOTE: My grandfather was the kindest, most sweet and gentle man that I ever knew.  I never knew him to utter a harsh word about anyone … with the notable exception of President Franklin Roosevelt.  I believe the only time I ever heard him use swear words was with regard to President Roosevelt’s confiscation of gold.

Conclusion

Storing the value of one’s money in the form of precious metals is almost certainly a good way to protect its value from the ravages of (politician-controlled) inflation.  If one happens to have a significant amount of debt, the potential to later sell those metals and use the resulting cash to retire those debts is quite compelling.   There are other preparedness needs that should be addressed before any prepper should consider investing in metals (e.g. food, water, shelter and defense).  Once these fundamental needs have been satisfied, however, a judicious investment in precious metals could make a big difference in quality of life in the medium- to long- term following a major disaster.

Because the topic has been discussed extensively, I had sworn off writing about investing in precious metals as part of a preparedness strategy.  However, everything I see on the subject

I am sure there are those who initially looked at the title of this article dismissed it as something that will never apply to them and that it is just fear mongering. Personally, I think the information here is applicable to everyone who is concerned about their own well-being and that of their families. I am sure those living in the former Yugoslavia never thought their country would be destroyed by civil wars in the 1990’s… In more recent history look at the implosion of Iraq, Syria, Libya, the war in Eastern Ukraine and the terrorist attacks in Western Europe and the US. Whether attending a demonstration in a major US city or preparing for a SHTF situation, understanding a little about snipers and methods used in countering snipers is an essential part of your operational planning and preparations.

Snipers

One thing I find amusing and annoying is that whenever there is a terrorist attack with an attacker using a long gun the media tends to immediately label the shooter as a sniper. There is a very big difference between a trained sniper and some idiot with a rifle and just because someone served in the military to some extent it does not make them a sniper. But, with modern weapons and a little knowledge the wannabe jihadist or anarchist are still a serious threat.

Whether your potential threat is from specially trained personnel outfitted with state of the art equipment or merely an individual with average marksmanship skills, armed with an off the shelf rifle and tactics acquired from YouTube, you need to have plans in place to minimize the threat and procedures in place for dealing with active shooter situations.

There are five general types of shooters: the military sniper, the trained infantryman, the trained marksman, the trained shooter and the untrained armed civilian. Tactically each group have their own application and operational styles, you need to understand a little how they operate to identify the threat you could be under and plan effective countermeasures.

A top sniper, codenamed “Arrow,” loads her gun in a safe room in Sarajevo, Tuesday, June 30, 1992.

  • Military Snipers: At the top of the sniper field are those who have been selected for and passed military sniper schools that usually last anywhere from two to three months. Note, I said selected for… Candidates for most military sniper schools are usually selected to attend the courses after going through basic training and proving themselves capable soldiers within their units, to start with. In addition to long-range shooting skills military trained snipers need to be experts in navigation, communications, camouflage, concealment and observation. These individuals are trained to select key individuals as their targets, stalk them and kill them at distance while avoiding detection.
  • The Trained Infantryman: Infantry soldiers from professional armies should have no problems shooting and hitting a man-sized target at 300 meters (yards) with their service weapons in most weather conditions from a prone position. In addition to their shooting skills they are trained in camouflage, concealment, stalking and combat tactics.
  • The Trained Marksman: Most law enforcement units and the like tend to have marksmen as part of their tactical units that should be trained in precision shooting past 300 meters. The law enforcement sniper schools last from 5 to 10 days and are commercially available to those who qualify. These schools put an emphasis on precision shooting at 100 to 300 meters, rather than the camouflage, concealment, stalking and combat tactics which are not needed by law enforcement units.
  • The Trained Shooter: Most military personnel are trained to safely use, shoot, and qualify with a rifle on a regular basis, so they are trained to some extent, but the standards can vary to extremes. There are also the trained competition and recreational shooters who practice regularly and undertake professional marksmanship training but lack the tactical training. Hunters also fall into this category and tend to have at least a basic knowledge of camouflage and concealment.
  • The Armed Civilian: These are shooters with little or no formal military or firearms training. You can see them all the time in the news reports from various international war-zones. They have been given a rifle and ammunition and told which direction to shoot and that’s about it. Their shooting is not accurate, they seldom deliberately target specific individuals but they have high potential to cause casualties far out of proportion to their actual skill level at close and medium ranges.

Hopefully you can see from the descriptions above there is a lot more to being a real sniper than being able to hit a target at 100 meters and having your picture taken wearing a Walmart ghillie suit. What makes snipers extremely dangerous is their ability to be undetectable before and after killing their target; if you don’t know where the threat is, how can you counter it?  The art of field-craft is the bread and butter of the sniper; they can move undetected and have the discipline to stay virtually motionless and alert for hours, if not days at a time to get a shot, this is what sets the professional sniper apart from the trained marksman.

The Tools of the Trade

A well camouflaged sniper is an extremely hard target to spot.

The typical range for a military sniper attack is 300 to 600 meters with medium-caliber rifles, but depending on the environment, weapons available and the skill of the sniper undetected shots from 50 to 2400 meters plus are possible.

Some of the main calibers for sniper rifles are:

  • .22: Even though this is a very small-caliber .22 rifles make excellent close range sniper rifles, as they are small and easy to suppress. Within 100 meters with quality ammunition they should be able to deliver lethal head shots.
  • .308/7.62x51mm: This round has been around since the 1950’s and for many years was the standard round for NATO sniper rifles. This round, with the right weapon and shooter, can hit individuals at 800 meters and deliver harassing fire at 1000 meters plus.
  • 62X54mm: The Russian military first introduced the 7.62X54mm round in 1891 and it is still in use today with the Dragunov sniper rifle and the PKM machine gun. When fired from quality sniper rifles the round is accurate out to 800 meters plus, I say quality because there are many inferior copies of the Dragunov on the market.
  • .338: The .338 Lapua has gained popularity as a sniper rifle cartridge and has been used extensively in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In November 2009, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan British Army sniper, Corporal Craig Harrison, killed two Taliban machine gunners at a range of 2,475 meters using a L115A3 Long Range Rifle. This is the current record for longest recorded sniper kill. The .338 fired from military sniper rifles should be consistently accurate at 1500 meters but as you can see from Corporal  Harrison shooting, it can reach out farther in skilled hands and in the right conditions.
  • 9X39mm: This is a Russian round that is used in the suppressed VSK-94 & VSS Vintorez rifles which have an effective range of 400 meters and has been in use by Russians and others since 1987. The 9X39 is a heavy, subsonic round that has excellent penetration qualities against body armor.
  • 5mm: The 14.5×114mm was developed in Russia during the cold war for heavy machine guns and anti-material rifles and is still used by many countries. There are numerous rifles chambered in this round with the average effective range of about 2000 meters.
  • .50 Browning: The .50 Browning round was first developed as a heavy machine gun round in 1918 and today it’s still in service internationally. In the Vietnam war USMC sniper Carlos Hathcock used a scoped M2 Browning machine gun to get a confirmed kill at 2250 meters. In the 1980’s Barrett developed the M82 sniper rifle that has been used extensively in conflicts since then. These days they are quite a few manufacturers producing .50 sniper rifles for military, police, and commercial use. Sadly, many of these weapons have found their way into the hands of international terrorists. The average effective range of a quality .50 sniper rifle is about 1800 meters.
  • 20mm: There are several rifles on the market chambered in 20mm, the American made Anzio has a reported maximum effective range of 5000 meters. There are several bullpup 20mm rifles such as the South African Denel NTW20 and the Croatian RT-20 which would be a more maneuverable option for sniper operations but at approximately 19 kg (42 lbs) without ammunition they are not really stalking weapons. These weapons are meant for targeting vehicles, equipment and buildings. Vehicle mounted or in fixed position these rifles could be used with devastating effects as their ability to shoot through most common building materials would render ineffective most cover from fire positions.

There is a lot more to distance shoot that just having a scoped rifle and ammunition, you must ensure the rifle shoots straight to start with. I was chatting with a friend who had spent time in Syria with the Kurdish YPG and he mentioned how a lot of the sniper rifles the Kurds had were not accurate, which is common in such settings. I expect a lot of the weapons were old and had been banged around which is detrimental to a scoped rifle.

Scoped rifles need to be zeroed regularly to ensure the rounds are going where you want them. If the optics are damaged or not properly fitted this can also lead to inaccuracy. The rifle’s barrel needs to be in good condition and taken care of; Romanian rifles used to have very low quality steel in their barrels, which lead to accuracy issues after minimal use. Ammunition needs to be of good quality, in many conflicts ammunition will come from various sources including the black market. Different ammunition will perform differently from the same rifle and old or damaged ammunition just might not be able to fly straight at all.

The weapon’s sights are extremely important and the weapon needs to be zeroed to the shooter. If the shooters eyes are good with quality open sights they should be able to hit a man-sized target at ranges of 200 to 300 meters. For precision and long distance shooting optics are a necessity and on the commercial market there are a vast array of scopes to fit all budgets. The quality of night sights have drastically improved over the last 20 years and they have become freely available on the commercial market. Simple and low-cost optics will not enhance the performance of the average $500.00 rifle into the accuracy class of true sniper weapon but these sights make the trained marksman a much more effective shooter at combat ranges out to 300 meters and beyond.

Many military sniper rifles are equipped with effective suppressors to either completely silence or greatly reduce the noise and muzzle blast of the weapon. Weapons such as the Russian VSK-94 & VSS Vintorez rifles have integrated suppressors on their barrels. Not only do suppressors reduce the noise of a weapon being fired, they also inhibit the task of trying to determine the location of a sniper. Suppressors can reduce the maximum effective range of a sniper rifle, but can be very effective when employed at less than 300 meters. Suppressors are available on the civilian market and are easy to manufacture, the legalities of ownership vary from location to location.

Countering Snipers

The first step in countering snipers is for everyone to be aware of the threat. This is where a threat assessment needs to be compiled and the realist threats need to be identified, if potential snipers are a threat then procedures need to be put in place. In general, operational planning for a sniper threat should always be considered to some extent. Not only should counter sniper procedures be planned for but they need to be practiced, your people need to be trained at least in the basic reactions to fire and the use of cover, preferably before they are exposed to the sniper threat.

A sniper from “C” Company, 5th Battalion, The Black Watch, 51st (Highland) Division, in position in the loft space of a ruined building in Gennep, Holland, 14 February 1945.

When compiling your threat assessment check media reports and talk with locals and those with knowledge of your area of operations. You need to determine what the threat level could be; are there trained personnel, what weapons are available and what’s their motivation and objectives.

When planning counter sniper operations, you need to answer four basic questions that will help you to assemble effective procedures that are relevant to your situation.

  • What is your task and objective?
  • What equipment and weapons do you have?
  • What does your opposition want to accomplish and what capabilities do they have?
  • What are the rules of engagement?

Rules of engagement are a very important consideration and can vary greatly, for example if you are caught up in an active sniper situation in an urban area in the US and you have a legal weapon on you, you cannot go blindly firing into potential sniper locations without positively identifying your target. Also, this puts you at risk of being mistaken for the active shooter and shot by police or other armed citizens. In a hostile or combat environment, your rules of engagement could be a lot freer but the limits of appropriate use of force need to be understood by everyone.

In many parts of the world people openly carry firearms and just because someone has a firearm it does not make them a threat. Also, just because someone is shooting, it does not mean they are shooting at you or being hostile. There is a big difference between someone in your vicinity shooting in the air and you being shot at with accurate and effective fire. You need to be able to determine the difference and plan your reactions accordingly.

Counter sniper procedures are mainly common sense and should be ingrained in most former military personnel with any hostile environment experience.  Basically if you can’t be seen, you can’t be shot, so limit your exposure, always make maximum use of cover, and move tactically. Remember, the sniper always has the initiative unless detected and is trained to wait for hours for a target or the time when your guard is down.

  • Use concealed routes
  • Avoid open plazas and intersections
  • Stay away from and don’t linger in doorways and windows
  • Move along the side of streets, not down the center
  • Stay in the shadows.
  • When moving with others stay spread out and use bounding over watch
  • Go around well-lit areas at night
  • Never be silhouetted against lights, skyline or light backgrounds
  • Move quickly and quietly across open areas that cannot be avoided.
  • Make maximum use of cover and concealment
  • Do not gather with others in large groups in the open
  • Conduct all meetings, gatherings of personnel undercover
  • Do not wear anything that could draw attention to you
  • Do not establish routines

After your threat assessment has been compiled you need to survey the area around your location for potential firing positions that a threat sniper could use and routes in and out of those locations. Once identified those locations need to be monitored where possible, occupied with friendly forces, booby-trapped or made unusable for a threat sniper. Clear any bushes or obstructions etc. that could be used as cover by snipers or inhibit your view of potential sniper positions.

Now in many urban and rural locations the potential positions for threat snipers will be endless, so your only option will be to limit exposure; if you can’t be seen you can’t be shot! Board up windows or put up screens to block the lines of sight for threat snipers. Canvas or plastic sheets can be used to make a dangerous alleyway or street crossing safer. In the long-term, fixed positions, more solid barriers and defenses can be put in place such as sand bags or earth filled 55 gallon drums etc.

Here are some basic military considerations for counter sniper procedures that can be adapted to the civilian world. Not everything will apply to everyone and all situations

  • Cameras: These days’ surveillance cameras are widely available and can be used to monitor potential sniper positions. Hunters trail cameras can be placed in potential sniper positions and along the routes to those positions to help identify any potentially hostile activity in your area. Also, after a shooting incident to help identify the shooter. In hostile environments, special care needs to be taken when checking or retrieving cameras as they could have been booby-trapped or the sniper could be waiting for you. Placing semi-camouflaged cameras around a property will let any potential threats know the area is monitored and can be a deterrent.
  • Drones: Where weather conditions and budget allow, drones fitted with surveillance or preferably thermal imaging cameras are ideal for spotting potential threats especially in rural areas.
  • Observation: Potential sniper firing positions should be constantly under surveillance and where manpower allows observers should be employed to monitor these positions for suspicious activity.
  • Patrols: Random patrols should be employed to gather intelligence, identify hostile movements in your area and deny snipers access to firing positions.
  • Dogs: Trained dogs can quickly search large areas and buildings for snipers who are trying to remain undetected.
  • Protective Clothing: Ballistic vest and helmets will not always stop a sniper bullet, especially from large-caliber weapons, but can significantly reduce the severity of wounds.
  • Armored Vehicles: Whenever possible try to use armored vehicles.

Reaction to fire

Over the years, I have spoken to many security contractors, police and military personnel and find it amazing that when talking about their reaction to fire drills most of them just say they would draw their weapon and return fire etc. That’s ok on a gun range but you need to take a few other things into consideration if someone is shooting at you! You also need to remember that if you are being targeted by a competent marksman unless you have detected them before they pull the trigger, chances are you’re going to be dead or seriously injured.

Basics, moving targets are harder to shoot than stationary targets. It’s a fact, it’s harder to shoot a target that is moving than one that is stationary. So, if someone is shooting at you, do not stand still, run, and get into cover. Smaller targets are harder to shoot than large targets! If there is no cover for you, make yourself a smaller target and drop to a kneeling or prone position.

Following is an adaptation of the British Army individual reaction to fire drill. Some of this may apply to you and some might not- use this as a basic format. If you are serious about your personal security, you must put together a plan that is specifically designed for your situation and then practice it until it is second nature.

  • Preparation: If you have a firearm it must be clean, serviceable, and well-oiled. Ammunition must be of good quality, clean and your magazines full. You must be properly trained and ready to deal with a shooting incident.
  • Reacting to fire: The immediate reaction to fire is to move to cover as you are deploying your weapon and returning fire, if available use a smoke grenade or discharger to cover your movement.
  • Dash– a moving target is harder to hit than a stationary target.
  • Down– keep low and present a smaller target.
  • Get into cover from fire.
  • Observe where the threat is.
  • If armed return fire.
  • Winning the fire-fight: If armed as soon as the threat has been firmly located, you must bring down sufficient accurate fire on the threat to incapacitate them or force them into cover so you can extract yourself from the kill zone.
  • Re-organizing: As soon as you have incapacitated the opposition or are in a safe area, you must reorganize yourself as quickly as possible to be ready for other possible threats. You need to re-load your weapon, make sure that you or anyone with you is not injured and inform law enforcement, emergency, or support services immediately.

Where the rules of engagement allow, suppressing fire can be directed at the general area of the sniper’s location to force them into or keep them behind cover, so you can move to a safer cover or extract from the sniper’s kill zone. Look for and shoot at objects close to the sniper’s position that would cause ricochets and flying debris, such as brick, plastered or concrete walls. Also, you need to be aware of injuries from ricochets and debris when being shot at! In hostile environments and combat zones maximum use should be made of what light, medium and heavy weapons available.

U.S. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division return fire during a firefight with Taliban forces in Barawala Kalay Valley in Kunar province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2011. ( U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Cameron Boyd/Released)

Make maximum use of smoke dischargers where available and use the smoke to cover your movement. Commercially smoke signals are available from maritime stores as they are used for emergency signals on boats, also various smoke bombs are used for paintball and air-soft games. In a major city chances are you cannot carry firearms but can legally carry a couple of smoke bombs, if an active shooter situation develops drop smoke and bug out!

It is very important that you understand the difference between cover from view and cover from fire; you always want to locate the latter where possible. You need to consider which type of rounds will be stopped by the cover you’re using. A table might be able to stop a .32 fired from a handgun, but a .50 round from a M82 will go through it and you.

If planning the defense for a building you need to consider what caliber of rounds the inner and outer walls can stop. Also, where large-caliber rounds can penetrate walls you can expect bricks and plaster to splinter within the rooms and cause injuries. You also need to take note of any surfaces that would cause incoming rounds to ricochet within the building.

Cover from view means you can’t be seen but can be shot and includes:

  • Cardboard boxes and empty rubbish bins
  • Bushes
  • Thin walls and fences
  • Thin tabletops
  • Doors
  • Shadows

Cover from fire means, depending on the firearm used, you can’t be seen or shot and includes:

  • Thick tabletops
  • Heavy furniture
  • Stone and concrete walls
  • Dead ground
  • Thick trees
  • Various areas of a car
  • Curb stones
  • Re-enforced barriers

When you get into cover, you should always try to have an escape route and try not to get pinned down. When using cover as a shield, always keep low and fire or look around cover- not over it. When you are in cover and need to move, first select the next piece of cover that you will move to and move fast and keep low. Keep the distances between cover positions short. When you get behind the cover, assess your situation, where the threat is, etc. Keep moving this way until you are out of danger.

Hunting the hunters

When a sniper threat has been identified and you have the trained personnel, weapons and are within your rules of engagement, you should take active measure to eliminate or capture the sniper.

Potential indicators that threat snipers are in your area could be:

  • Personnel seen wearing camouflage uniforms
  • Individuals in possession of binoculars, range-finders, and well-maintained scoped rifles
  • Hearing single-shot fire.
  • A lack of locals in an area before a shooting incident
  • Reflections spotted from optical lenses
  • Small groups of (one to three) local personnel wandering around or observing your location for no apparent reason.

To capture or eliminate a threat sniper you need to identify a pattern in their modus operandi such as:

  • Time of day of sightings or shooting
  • Direction of incoming sniper fire
  • Location of threat sniper sightings
  • Patrols would need to look for material evidence of threat snipers being in a location such as broken foliage, hide positions, cigarette butts, food, body waste, empty rounds casings or discarded equipment

Once a pattern in the sniper’s routine has been identified, be it the location of a potential firing position, a route in or out of that position a covert ambush would need to be set and the sniper killed or captured. Note: Kill or capture operations need to be kept on a need to know basis, regular routines need to be maintained as not to alert the threat sniper or surveillance that they are being targeted.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has given you an insight into counter-sniper operations and will enable you to draw up some plans and procedures to fit your needs and circumstances. Sadly, we all need to keep the threat from active sniper shooting in mind and be prepared to deal with worse case scenarios.

I am sure there are those who initially looked at the title of this article dismissed it as something that will never apply to them and that it is just

Surviving is more than just being lucky; it is preparation. Preparation is key to surviving all manner of situations; after all, there is a reason Survivalists are often called ‘Preppers’. This preparation may cover self-defense, resource management, first aid, and a number of other skill sets. Whatever you choose to focus on, it is worth considering exactly how you can keep yourself safe. While the situation will change, body armor is an easily accessible product that has a number of surprising benefits.

Firstly, imagine you are in a situation where you need to use your survival skills and experiences. This is where your considerable knowledge will come to light and the stores and defenses you have built will set you in good stead. Whatever the situation, your skill set allows you to cope with the challenges you’ll face and work to the point that you are living comfortably. However, due to luck or similar preparation, there will be others out there. These others may view your success with jealousy, and will work to take what you have. You need to defend yourself.

Self-defense is a broad topic with a number of different methods. Most Preppers will have already considered their own self-defense, and depending on the situation, will have a number of options available to them. Many Survivalists tout the usefulness of weapons for self defense, and your attackers will certainly look to arm themselves. A bullet is incredibly deadly, and no matter how well-armed you may be, it will only take one errant shot to kill you. This is why you need body armor.

Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ethan E. Rocke

Bullet proof vests are easily accessible to nearly everyone, and are an easy way to protect yourself against a wide variety of threats. Part of the benefit of wearing body armor is the protection it can give you against bullets, certainly. However, many do not realize that bullet proof vests can help mitigate the impact of all sorts of injuries, thereby keeping you safe in all manner of situations. For example, DuPont, the makers of Kevlar, annually hold a ceremony commemorating Law Enforcement Officers whose lives were saved through body armor. Every year a significant proportion of these Officers were involved in otherwise fatal car crashes.

Of course, the main threat a bullet proof vest will protect you against is bullets. However, bullet proof vests are available at a range of protective levels that outline exactly what ammunition they can protect you against. These NIJ Levels are standardized by the National Institute of Justice, the world leader in ballistics testing. It is important you ensure your vest is compliant with the testing standards set by the NIJ, and is appropriate for the threats you will be facing.

What is the best style of Body Armor for me?

Just as important, however, is ensuring that you are wearing the right style of vest. Bullet and stab proof vests are available in a variety of styles, each suited to different situations and with their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the most common example of a bullet proof vest is the covert vest, which is worn underneath clothing.

However, even these covert vests are varied, and will likely be quite different to the images most have. For example, these covert vests are exceptionally thin and lightweight, making them truly discreet. This also means that when worn for extended periods they will remain comfortable. Furthermore, some manufacturers offer covert vests designed with temperature-regulating materials to help keep the wearer cool.

A covert bulletproof vest has the benefit of keeping your protection discreet, meaning you can wear your vest in day-to-day life. On the other hand, an overt vest may be far more appropriate for your situation. An overt vest is designed to be worn over the clothing, and is still lightweight and flexible, but will usually have a durable and possibly weather-resistant cover. These vests have the benefit of being augmentable with high-visibility covers, pouches for equipment, and quick-release systems.

If you are truly preparing for the worst, and you expect to face some particularly extreme threats, you may need a tactical vest. These vests, like overt vests, are worn over clothing and are usually more durable than their covert counterparts. However, these vests are extremely protective, offering upgrades to protect the upper arms, throat, neck, and groin for example. These vests are heavier and bulkier than any others, but offer unparalleled protection. These should only be worn in the most dire of circumstances.

There are a number of things to consider before you choose your body armor; how and where will you be wearing it? What level of protection will you need? Understanding the different options available is very important; otherwise you may end up with a vest that does not protect you properly. For example, having a vest that does not fit just right can leave you with gaps in protection. Furthermore, bullet resistant vests cannot protect against knives or needles, and you may therefore need a stab or spike proof vest that uses additional materials like chainmail and plastic.

It may seem confusing or even intimidating, but coming to understand the options available allows you to choose the right vest, and keep yourself protected no matter what you find yourself facing. For example, if you’re going to be faced with large crowds or members of the public, a covert vest will help keep you discreet and give you the upper hand. However, if you find yourself facing an attack of any kind, an overt vest will unnerve your opponents and/or give you the confidence needed to survive.

Surviving is more than just being lucky; it is preparation. Preparation is key to surviving all manner of situations; after all, there is a reason Survivalists are often called ‘Preppers’.

When I first got into prepping I listened to a lot of sources. I read a lot of literature, perused websites galore and read books on everything from Survival skills and tactic to prepper fiction. I think the first actual website I came across was Captain Dave’s Survival Center. His blog doesn’t appear to have been updated since January 2010 but at the time I started digging into this topic it was probably late 2008. This time period in my life oddly enough coincided with the stock market crisis in September when my meager 401K lost over half of its value in days. I think everyone started paying a little more attention at that point.

Up to that year I had been a pretty traditional Republican kind of guy. I was and still am fiercely patriotic, but my understandings of world events, politics, history and propaganda have changed my political philosophy and my loyalties. I am and will always be loyal to the values our country was founded on but I am not blindly loyal to any political party or person anymore. I don’t instinctively tow the party line anymore for the republicans and like to think I have grown more analytical; perhaps skeptical when I hear events in the news.

All of that is to say that my thinking when it comes to being a prepper has evolved over time and with it so have my actions with respect to what I feel needs to be done. I think I will continue to refine what I believe is right for me and my family as I learn more information and that I feel is what any rational person should do.

Right from the beginning of my prepping journey, it was obvious that in order to be as self-sufficient as possible I would need to cross a few major things off my list of To Do items.

  • Get out of debt
  • Acquire equipment (food/gear/tools) as force multipliers
  • Acquire training in Survival tactics, homesteading skills
  • Convert behaviors to self-sufficient lifestyle traits

Like so many other people I started with these broad topics and from there developed a simple list of everything I thought I needed to have or do before I could consider myself “prepared” for anything. My list started with a ton of supplies; food to last for 6 months, purchasing firearms for self-defense, having backup water storage and a means to collect and filter more. Then it turned to actions like getting a garden going, purchasing precious metals and getting training on HAM radio and first-aid. It never seems to end.

But, unless you have won the lottery or are independently wealthy most of us out here have to balance this mountain of wish list items with your daily budget. That is when prepping can cause friction for families especially when one spouse doesn’t see things the way you do. If prepping for a disaster is complete nonsense in their eyes, it will be a battle to purchase everything you need. At the very minimum it will take a long time and this is a luxury you may not have.

Further complicating this whole endeavor is the need to get out of debt. If you are truly focused on reducing the amount of debt you have, you really should not have a lot of discretionary income. Herein lies the problem and it is one that I have personally dealt with and still ponder from time to time to this very day. The question is should you get completely out of debt first, or should you continue prepping? I say or because depending on whom you listen to, these are mutually exclusive.

The case for getting out of debt

Debt is truly a horrible burden that we willingly place on ourselves and our families for no good reason other than we aren’t willing to wait until we have the money to purchase something. I know this just as well as anyone else out there and I won’t try to get on my high horse because I have my own fair share of debt as well. However, my desire is to be completely debt free and that I think is the best scenario any of us can be in from one standpoint. If no person or company has anything they can hold over your head, there should be nothing they can take away from you. The flip side is that if you are only living on what you bring in, if that were to be disrupted, the impacts to your life should be greatly reduced.If you have ever heard of Dave Ramsey, his entire reason for being it seems is to get people out of debt as quickly as possible and maintaining a healthy view of money going forward. His methods revolve around throwing every single resource you have at the debt problem and living on “rice and beans” in order to save every cent to put it towards debt retirement. He has seminars and you can usually take part in a Dave Ramsey program at church if you have the time and money to devote to it. The basic principles are a great method to getting out of debt in my unprofessional opinion.

If you are going hog-wild into debt reduction though, this can be a process that takes several years. The average American credit card debt is over $15,000 and that isn’t taking into consideration cars, student loans, mortgage etc. When you get into a certain level of debt and if you are following a plan like Dave Ramsey’s you don’t have money for anything else. The Rice and Beans you want to stock up for your prepping needs are what you are actually living off of each day.

The case for Prepping

There are so many reasons to begin prepping for your family’s safety isn’t there? If you weren’t interested in how you could be more prepared for whatever happens you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, but as I mentioned above, prepping is not without some cost. That list of items you probably have on your desk or computer somewhere contains a lot of things that cost money. I know that everything that can save your life or the life of a loved one doesn’t necessarily need to cost anything, but that usually comes down to knowledge or equipment and supplies you already have. The average person will need training or books at a minimum to learn that knowledge. Books and training cost money. If you are talking about security and you don’t have firearms, they cost money. Extra food, medical supplies, backup power, even getting a garden started cost money in almost every case.

But, is it worth it? That is a great question and one of the same ones I ask myself from time to time. The answer is always the same for me, but you have to ask yourself if what you are trying to prepare for is worth the investment you are making. To me this is a simple question because I believe that most people who are prepping are doing so because they know that bad things can happen and they want to protect themselves or their family from those bad things as much as possible. Is it worth it to sacrifice a little now to survive later? For me it is, but for each person this question has to be asked.

Can these two coexist?

Can you pay off all of your debt and still build up your supplies at the same time? If you can, then you don’t have any problems. I wish we were all like you. For the rest of us, we have a choice or more accurately choices to make based upon our own individual circumstances and priorities. I don’t believe it should be one or the other. To either get out of debt first or buy everything on the prepper’s Nirvana list. There should be a balance I think and they can both be done at the same time if you feel that is necessary for your overall preparedness.

Dave Ramsey has a great plan for people who want to get out of debt, but I think his plan assumes that the world is still going to be spinning next month; that whatever happens, you should keep paying down that Macy’s card because above all else you have to get out of debt. What if something happens before you get that trip to Disney in 2010 paid off? What if you are halfway through your plan and the bottom drops out of the stock market, we have a global pandemic or there is an EMP attack from a rogue terrorist organization? Will you be happy your car is paid off, but you don’t have any food stocked up? Maybe you will be able to sell your car and buy food? Maybe that car you have is now worth nothing but a bag of rice is worth a fortune.

What am I saying? For starters I am not saying that you should stop paying your bills. I am not saying you shouldn’t worry about debt. I am also not saying that you shouldn’t try to reduce your debt as quickly as possible. I am definitely not saying that you should buy a bunch of stuff on credit.

What I am saying is that as the leader of your family you have a lot of decisions to make. Each of these decisions should be made with goals in mind. If you have a goal of reducing debt and another goal of being prepared, you can accomplish both. Will it take longer to pay off your debt if you are making purchases for your family’s survival also? Yes it will so you have to figure out what is more important and your plan can flow along with your resources and needs. For instance, if you find yourself at a point where you have the basic necessities covered, maybe you should take a break from prepping and pay off a credit card or two. By that same token, if you find a great deal on a course in advanced first aid training, and you just so happen to have some vacation you haven’t taken, it may be a good idea to take the course.

In summation, the only thing I am trying to say is that if you try to go one route or the other completely you could wind up short if things go the wrong way. Run up too much debt and you could end up in a debtor’s prison should those come back to a town near you. Get out of debt, but not have the tools you need to keep your family alive and risk a worse fate if you ask me. Food for thought.

When I first got into prepping I listened to a lot of sources. I read a lot of literature, perused websites galore and read books on everything from Survival skills

Have you ever looked at two different products that fell into two completely different categories and have been unable to tell them apart?  I think, at some point, that has happened to all of us.  We may not always say it, but our minds are screaming “What’s the difference?!?”.  And so begins the saga of the tactical and combat/fighting knives.

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the characteristics that help to define the word “tactical” and wrap it up by picking what might be the best tactical knife on the market today, along with some other choices.

Characteristics of the best tactical knife

Trying to find a good, solid definition for the term tactical knife on the web can be quite difficult.  If we jump over to our trusty source, Wikipedia, we mind that basically they say that it is a knife with one or more military features, designed for use in extreme situations.  They also add that the “tactical” portion means that these knives are typically designed to be used as a utility tool, not for use as a weapon.

A better explanation might be what a tactical knife should be.  Ideally, a knife like this would be used for a variety of different tasks.  These would include general utility type things along with the possible need to defend yourself.  It should be something that you can access quickly.  So it will either have a wearable case, fit into a pocket or have some type of clip.  It should also be durable.  We aren’t looking for something fancy here.  You want it to be reliable, with not a lot of moving parts, weak points, etc..  Finally, you don’t want it to cost a fortune.  You want to be able to use this knife without having to worry about it lasting a lifetime.  You should know that if need be, you can replace it quickly and easily.

What Should You Look For?

There are several things that you should consider if you are looking to purchase the best tactical knife you can.  Let’s take a look at several different things that need to be considered before you go shopping for your first tactical knife.

Purpose

More than anything else, you need to know the purpose of the knife.  This is going to tell you roughly what you need to be looking for.  Is your knife primarily for utility purposes?  Are planning to have it for emergency situations, liking needing to cut a seat-belt or break glass?  Is it for defense?  These types of questions will give you an idea of what you should be looking for.

Design

The design of the knife will be somewhat dictated by the purpose of the knife.  If you’ll be keeping it in your car as an emergency knife, this is going to have an impact on design.  If you’ll be carrying the knife on you, this is also going to have an impact on design.  Are you an undercover police officer that needs to conceal a knife on you?  This will also dictate the design.  You can see where I’m going with this.  First, find the purpose for the knife, then you will let that purpose dictate the design.

Size

This goes along with the design, but is worth mentioning separately because it’s so important.  Technically, the best tactical knife may have a 12 inch blade, but that isn’t the best one for you if you need to carry it everyday as an officer.  Most likely, you wouldn’t carry it at all.  So in a sense, it may be the worst one of the bunch.  Really consider how you will interact with this knife.  Where will it be stored?  How often will it be carried?  But don’t totally focus on just carrying it.  Remember, you need to be able to use it too.  It needs to feel comfortable in your hand.

You should be able to maneuver it easily in both the forward and reserve grip.  It should fit in your hand well.  How will your fingers fall on the handle?  Is it comfortable.  Not every knife is going to work for every person.  You have to find one that matches up well with your body.

Once you have considered these things, then make a decision on size based on these things.

Blade

Like all knives, you need an edge that you can cut with and you need a good tip.  The thicker the tip (up to a point — yes I did just throw that in!), helps to serve multiple purposes, for things like digging and prying.  You can generally look for a thickness of around 1/8″ to 1/4″.  This range is the best combination of strength, but still being good in the size and weight department.  One other thing to consider is that it’s always handy to have a serrated edge on the blade.  All blades dull over time, especially with a lot of use.  But with a serrated edge, you can still cut through most types of cloth and fabric fairly easily.

Handle

You’ll have choices galore when it comes to handles.  From cheap, poorly made plastic all the way up to stainless steel.  Ideally, you want something that is waterproof.  You don’t want the handle to absorb different liquids.  Metal handles tend to last a long time.  A lot of times, the rubber handles don’t last or they wear down over time.  Definitely try several different materials in your hand and consider how they feel.  Then think about how sure handled it will be when you need to use it under stress.

There are a few other things to consider, such as folding or fixed; cases; locks; etc; but most of that just comes down to common sense.  If you considered how you will carry it earlier and what the size will be, you already know if it will be a folding knife or if it will be in a case.

What to Buy?

So this is where it becomes a little difficult.  What is the best tactical knife.  Of course you know that their isn’t a “best” one.  Instead, there are several you can choose from, depending on your situation.

Kershaw 1990 Brawler Folding SpeedSafe Knife

This knife has the following features:

  • Steel blade
  • Black oxide coating
  • Pocket clip
  • 3.25″ blade; 4.12″ closed
  • Built in Flipper
  • Thumb stud
  • Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 240 reviews on Amazon

Find it HERE

KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight

This knife has the following features:

  • Cro-van Steel blade
  • Leather handle
  • 7″ blade
  • Overall length 11-7/8″
  • Made in the USA
  • Leather sheath
  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 660 reviews

Find it HERE

MTECH USA MT-378 Tactical Folding Knife

This knife has the following features:

  • Stainless Steel Tanto Blade
  • Brushed black
  • Steel Handle
  • Thumb Stud
  • Blade length 3.12″
  • Closed length 4.5″
  • Open length 7.75″
  • Pocket Clip
  • 4.3 out of 5 rating with over 230 reviews

Find it HERE

Wrap Up

Hopefully this has given you some idea of what a tactical knife actually is and what to look for when you are shopping for one.  Best of luck in your finding the best tactical knife for you and I hope you get a lot of use out of it (but hopefully not having to defend yourself!).

Have you ever looked at two different products that fell into two completely different categories and have been unable to tell them apart?  I think, at some point, that has

Bartering is the key. This will be the solution to all our problems when the grid goes down and society devolves back to somewhere around the early 1900’s,  or at least that is what everyone in the prepping community would have you believe. Everyone that is except for the 10% who are anxiously awaiting the collapse so they can finally live out their lawless fantasies to their fullest.

Bartering, in theory makes perfect sense. It is at its core, trading services or goods for other services or goods. An agreement between two people to exchange one thing for another. The assumption is that two people would have an honest contract implicit in nothing more than a firm handshake or “you have my word” statement. This will work for most people as I believe that most people are good and honest. However, some people are not honest and forthright and those are who you will need to be aware of when the subject of bartering comes up. Bartering has its good points and its bad so today we will discuss the pros and cons of bartering as it relates to preppers.

Bartering isn’t new. It has been used as a form of commerce since the dawn of time. Before there was money, everyone bartered. If you had chickens and eggs, you may barter with the blacksmith to fix your wagon wheel. The amount of eggs or chickens that equaled the work of fixing the wagon wheel was agreed upon by you and the blacksmith and the exchange occurred. Bartering isn’t something that has disappeared out of time either. I know of many stories of people bartering today. Venison in trade for making jerky; canned preserves for small chores. Bartering happens every day even now, so why shouldn’t it continue in earnest when the grid goes down?

I do believe if we have an economic collapse, we will see a huge resurgence of bartering, but for bartering to work, you must have something to trade. What if you have nothing to barter with? No goods or supplies to trade? You can trade your labor, or I fear some will trade their bodies. This will only go so far until people get desperate and then the simple act of bartering could turn deadly if you aren’t careful.

OK, at this point you may be thinking I am trying to scare everyone out there, and this is not true. I am only trying to suggest that bartering may not be the perfect doe-eyed solution you have been thinking it was. At the very least, each situation must be considered on its own (as will so much else when the grid goes down) and with respect to the possible risks associated. Your value of a good or service will almost always be different from what someone else thinks and tempers could flare.

Before I discuss the risks, let’s talk about potential bartering items. This list is something every prepper must read and use as a guide in making your decisions about what tangible items you should consider purchasing.

Popular items that you can purchase to use for Barter later if the SHTF.

  • Ladies supplies
  • Ammo of various calibers (good luck with that now)
  • Salt (Buy lots of cattle blocks and 1 pound canisters of iodized table salt.) You can buy a case at Sam’s or Costco for about $5
  • Two cycle engine oil (for chain saw gas mixing. Gas may still be available after a collapse, but two-cycle oil will probably be like liquid gold!)
  • Gas stabilizer
  • Diesel antibacterial additive
  • 50-pound sacks of lime (for outhouses).
  • Alcohol for human consumption in small bottles
  • 1 oz. bottles of military rifle bore cleaner and Break Free (or similar) lubricant.
  • Thermal socks
  • Waterproof matches (or disposable Bic type lighters)
  • Military web gear (lots of folks will suddenly need pistol belts, holsters, magazine pouches, et cetera.)
  • 1-gallon cans of kerosene.
  • Rolls of olive drab parachute cord.
  • Rolls of olive-drab duct tape.
  • Spools of monofilament fishing line.
  • Rolls of 10 mil sheet plastic (for replacing windows, isolating air spaces for nuke scenarios, etc.)
  • Strike anywhere matches. (Dip the heads in paraffin to make them waterproof.)
  • Playing cards or games. Anything to break monotony.
  • Cooking spices.
  • Rope & string
  • Sewing supplies
  • Beeswax, 5 lbs.
  • Candle wax and wicking
  • Gold testing kit for dealing with gold.
  • Gold key for dealing with gold.
  • Rolls of wire, plain
  • Barbed wire, mesh wire, chicken wire, chain link etc
  • Cable, various sizes, and cable clamps

There are tons of other items I could think of to add to this list, but you get the idea. The common theme for Barter items in this list would be relatively minor household items that can make your life easier or make what you have last longer. This doesn’t go into the services side of things as that could be limitless and I don’t think we mentioned toilet paper either, but we have our idea of items.

Risks

So how could Bartering be risky? There are a couple of scenarios I can envision bartering in the future if things get bad. The first scenario was demonstrated in the books Alas Babylon and Patriots, (Two excellent books by the way) of a market type of event where everyone in the town comes to a central location to trade what they have in hopes of securing items they want. The second scenario is that someone you know or don’t know approaches you and inquires about trading something as barter. Work or goods they have for something you have they want.

The risk could come with the transaction itself. The first type of scenario would seem to offer the most protection of the transaction. You would be in a public area, presumably with lots of other people and the likelihood that you would be robbed should be lower. The risk that I see is that you are taking goods you have and showing everyone what you have in order to make a trade. Perhaps someone sees that you have a nice bottle of scotch that you are looking to trade for some .45 caliber ammunition. Actually, I think you wouldn’t be able to buy too many rounds with a good bottle of Scotch if the S ever really HTF but I digress. The bad guy sees the scotch, but doesn’t have any ammunition. Actually, they may be jonesing so bad for a drink now because they are an alcoholic and have nothing to trade at all,  but now they know YOU have a bottle of Scotch. Maybe they know where you live, or follow you back home after you leave to try to take the Scotch and anything else you may have. Bartering in this type of setting seems to go against good OPSEC practices.

The second type of scenario is far more likely to end badly if the person on the other end of the transaction has evil intent. They may be right there in your house, looking around and spy other items they want. They may decide at that time to take more than they need or that you and they agreed to. Without some thought and precaution things may end up badly for someone. Hopefully not you.

How to mitigate risks

Now that everyone is thinking about how your neighbor is going to kill you for a cup of sugar let me explain some simple practices you can use to keep yourself safe.

Never let them see where you have your supplies – If you have a stocked pantry full of cans of food, freeze-dried stores and tons of hard red winter wheat, keep this out of sight. This probably should apply now as well as if the grid goes down or we have an emergency. In survival situations people can become desperate and if they know you have something they need, eventually, they will start thinking about how to separate the thing from you.

Never take everything you want to trade at one time – If you have the Patriot’s type of market where someone is trying to trade their Corvette for any kind of handgun, don’t take all of your spare guns with you. If I had extra handguns that I would be willing to trade, I would shop first and discuss the trade with the person interested. Once a deal was struck, I would arrange to meet them at some other time and place with the rest of the guns. This approach has risks too, but may mitigate risks from someone trying to take your guns from you there.

Always conduct the transaction away from your supplies – Do not invite strangers or even friends into your house if they are asking for supplies. Some of this may fall into the charity topic, but if you are trading something for a cup of wheat berries let’s say. Don’t let them come into your pantry with you and see you scooping from a big 50lb. bag of wheat. Ask them to wait and then you will come back with the wheat. Optionally, you can tell them you will bring it right over and that way they may not even know where in the house you are keeping it. Some of this may seem over the top, but use your best judgment.

These are just some thoughts on bartering but I would love to hear your ideas also.

Bartering is the key. This will be the solution to all our problems when the grid goes down and society devolves back to somewhere around the early 1900’s,  or at