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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.


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.


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.


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’.

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.


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


Given the fact that knives are among the oldest tools which humans have been using, there is no surprise that there has been a wide array of myths associated with this universal tool. These myths include the various types of knives, the way they should be used as well as with the proper ways that they should be maintained. Here are some facts which you may want to consider before purchasing a new knife, which may debunk some of the common knife myths many people have come to believe over time.

1st KNIFE MYTH: Giving a knife to someone as a present will have a negative effect on your relationship with them.

Possibly one of the oldest myths associated with knives, this one is associated with the cutting function of a knife and the “cutting” of bonds between two people. When you think about it, this is a completely unrealistic perspective, and the symbolism of a knife can hardly have an actual negative impact on your personal relationships and interactions. So, if you think that a friend or other close person will be really happy with a new knife, do not hesitate to go ahead and buy one for them. How your relationship goes with that person depends on you both, and not on the present you give them!

2nd KNIFE MYTH: the harder the blade of the knife – the sharper it will stay for longer.

While the hardness of the blade can ensure that it stays sharp, too much hardness can actually make a knife brittle. This can cause chipping, dulling and the loss of the original sharp edge over time. If you want to make sure that your knife remains sharp for a longer period of time, you should choose one with a resilient blade, but one which does provide some give, so that the edge does not break or become dulled quickly.

3rd KNIFE MYTH: the duller the blade, the safer the knife is.

It may seem like common logic, but in actuality, this belief is false. The idea that by using a dull knife you are less prone to cutting yourself is not true, because dull knives require the use of excessive force for cutting, slicing and other actions, and this extra force increases the risk of losing control of the knife and injuring yourself.

4th KNIFE MYTH: stainless steel blades cannot keep an edge.

In the past, people found that their stainless steel knives were way too soft and their edges couldn’t stay sharp for long. In modern times, lesser chromium is used in the alloy for the stainless steel blades of the knives, and new more resilient alloys have been added, which ensure that the blades hold a sharp edge for longer. So, when looking for a new stainless steel knife, make sure it has been manufactured relatively recently.

5th KNIFE MYTH: there are knives which never need to be sharpened.

There are some knife manufacturers which advertise their knives as ones which do not require sharpening. These are knives with serrated blades which can still do the job of slicing and cutting when the edge becomes duller, but if you really want an efficient and safe knife, you will need to sharpen the blade periodically, even if it is a serrated one.

6th KNIFE MYTH: it is the food and not the cutting board which dulls the blade of a knife.

This is another false myth. While the blade will be cutting the food, it is the cutting board where it stops. Using a hard board, such as a granite, hard acrylic or stone cutting board can be very damaging to your knife. This is why you should stick to plastic or wood ones. The problem with wooden cutting boards is that they are tricky to sterilize.

7th KNIFE MYTH: automatic knives are the best choice for fast deployment.

The verdict is that this is a false myth. The fact is, with modern knife production the difference in the speed for opening and deploying a knife between a good quality automatic knife and a spring-assisted one is absolutely tiny and in some cases even non-existent. The deployment speed depends on the specific brand and model of knives you are comparing.

8th KNIFE MYTH: A dull knife has an edge which has worn away.

Nope. Contrary to what you may think, a knife which has lost its edge has its edge folding on itself. This can occur because a sharp edge is microscopic and can be deformed from use.

9th KNIFE MYTH: The higher the price of a knife – the better its quality is.

This is not always the case, unfortunately. There are some overly expensive knives which are of lower quality that the cheaper ones. For example, some of the older S30V steel knives are much better from their more expensive upgraded S35VN ones. There are also some very good and reliable knives which you can get at a reasonable price.

10th KNIFE MYTH: don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.

This myth was actually tested and debunked in the Mythbusters show. The fact is that the person with the gun will feel overly confident that they will win, but when the fighting occurs in a closer space, the knife can be a really efficient weapon. The Mythbusters found that it is especially useful when the distance between the opponents 16 or fewer feet. Other experts claim that the distance is actually up to 21 feet.

11th KNIFE MYTH: A sword or knife can be stopped by a book or by a pocket full of coins.

A thick book can actually prevent getting stabbed by a sword, but the part about the coins is untrue. The coins are not fixed one to another which means they cannot stay in place no matter how packed your pocket is with them. The knife or sword can slide off of a coin, but the pocket full of coins is very unreliable protection from stabbing. So next time you are in a sword fight, leave the coins at home and take a thick book with you!

  Given the fact that knives are among the oldest tools which humans have been using, there is no surprise that there has been a wide array of myths associated with


There are options when we talk about stockpiling wealth or currency in preparedness folds. Precious metals (PM) as a preparedness item are a topic of some debate in and of themselves, with Suisse bars a love-hate or what? item inside the genre of unconventional currency. Some collect their PM’s in various forms of “junk” coins or bar form for the ease of acquisition and recognition value. Some collect gems instead, pointing out the number of immigrants who have arrived in various countries with fortunes in the linings of their clothing and the even more condensed form of wealth they offer. Some choose to go with keeping paper cash on hand, with the expectation that once cash is truly meaningless, there are other barter items available or it’s time to batten down the bunker hatches and compound gates and ride out the storm. There are others who point out various regional currencies as a way to hedge against loss.

Precious metals are sometimes maligned, with anti’s pointing out the bubbles involved with them and the amounts they’ve “lost” here and there with purchases. Many will also point out that you can’t eat a coin or sapphire.

Those anti’s are right.

You can’t eat a sapphire or coin, can’t use it to treat an infection, can’t wrap up in it to keep warm or use it to stitch up a torn udder. You also can’t immediately swipe them in the case of an emergency room visit to save a farm dog’s life at 3 a.m., even now. There are absolutely highs and lows in the value of gold and silver – like buying a house, there’s no guarantee that the value will go up.

One of the things we commonly hear about buying the precious metals deals with the larger weights, 50g and 1-oz. or more – the $20, $50 or $100 loaf of bread or can of beans argument. That can get thrown away, regardless of whether we go with coins or bars of one kind or another. There are both coins and bars that represent smaller amounts.

I don’t personally see precious metals (PM) as an investment with intended returns over purchase price. Instead, I see PM as another form of insurance, as an alternative to paper or an electronic balance. Certain things have had value since at least B.C. time-stamps, and PM’s and gems are among them even when a printed currency fails. They are a standby through most of the world and most of history.

Assign priorities

Even so, PMs are not and will not ever be my sole focus. Because we aim for different lengths of times and have different expectations and abilities, our priorities and what we focus on are going to be different.

Before we delve into precious metals (or anything – 5K rounds of ammo, 600 pounds of wheat, biodiesel big rigs) we should sit down and seriously consider what we are preparing for, why, and how much we can spend. I personally think immediate needs and existing debt should carry equal weight, but others will say max everything to get as many physical goods as you can and some will push to escape high-interest debt before moving beyond a standard hurricane, tornado or any other evac or shelter-in-place kit.

Lists are important in prioritizing. Listing with a firm eye toward wants and needs can help both in creating available budget and spending it wisely. Don’t assume you won’t reach retirement age without a mega disaster and that you’ll never need to pay health insurance and medical co-pay when you’re making your lists – include that additional savings and investment in your needs.

Suisse bars

When we’re ready to branch into backup currency, a lot of us hear about and jump on coins. I’m not totally against coins, but I don’t go that way exclusively or in a big, big way. I’m not jumping on the gem bandwagon, either. I kind of like Suisse bars.

Suisse bars are a type of bullion that come in thin sheets, regularly encased in plastic. There are now some that come in a break-away format that allows you to snap off small segments for smaller purchases or cash redemption. They are available in many several metals, but for our purposes, silver and especially gold suit my needs.

The gold bars come in pretty useful chips or little bars of 1, 2, 2.5, 5, and 10 grams, stamped with their weight and their purity, with an enclosed certificate when purchased from a respectable dealer. Those weights fluctuate in price, as gold pricing goes up and down, but are typically in the $40-50, $70-80, $90-120, $200-220, and $400-450 ranges at the moment, respectively. The smaller the denomination purchased, the greater the pricing markup, usually. However, there are those new-ish 20- and 25- and 50-gram divisible or “combibars”, such as JM Bullion and Austin Coins. Because of their specialty, they’re usually more expensive than if we’d purchased a solid bar.

Since I don’t often make thousand-dollar purchases, I usually skip the 20-gram and larger gold bars, just like I don’t delve into 1-oz. gold coins all that often. Smaller denominations cost me a little more now, but have more applications in any future.

Suisse bars are available for silver as well. Obviously, the value of silver is lower, so in some denominations, the ease of calculation is the only real benefit over a coin. However, they can help fill gaps between the greater values of gold coins or gold Suisse bars for purchases in the future.

Suisse bars versus coins

I consider a 5-oz. silver Suisse bar a lot more convenient than a specialty coin or roll of coins that total $100-120 in silver. I do have some silver coins, but as I move forward in life, I like the Suisse bars more and more.

When I get paid for a job, it’s sometimes in junk silver or oddball smaller gold coins. Since I don’t carry knowledge of all things in my head, I have to not only know the current spot price (which means a newspaper or the internet), but also each coin’s worth, the amount and purity of the PM in that coin. For me, that means some printed cheat sheets or a book.

The first time somebody showed up with a Suisse bar and asked how I felt about barter instead, my eyes opened. Now, since the bar itself and the stamp inside each little plastic credit card tells me the weights and purity, it’s super easy to do math using only a single sheet of reference for that spot price. I also don’t have to check to make sure those coins are all the appropriate silver-content without an “oops”, and the Suisse bars are easier for me to redeem than waiting for the coin guys to be there or to inspect each one in turn. Easy transactions are a good thing.

Now consider what I have to carry if I’m the buyer with junk silver and 1/10 gold coins.

I don’t commonly go to a store or go do a job for less than $20, and regularly, it’s a $40-50 trip. I rarely leave a supermarket without spending $50-100 and I have never had a service person out for less than $100. That means some of the 1- and 2-gram gold and the 20- and 50-gram silver Suisse bars very much have a place in my current spending.

Since we typically talk about the loss of value on the dollar, too, I can expect that a current $1-4 loaf of bread or apple fritters will go up, too. So I really might not have much use at all for those $2-10 denominations, anyway. Sure, some, maybe, so I can still get a cup of coffee and a meal while we’re in town, and tip the waitress (we’ve been exchanging metal bits for meals since the Dark Ages – it’s okay to envision it, honest). But I expect that if I ever fall back on them, modern society or knocked-back, knocked-down culture, those equivalents of today’s 20’s and 50’s will see a lot of use.

I need my book, really, because not everybody is going to trust a printout. I need the printout (or somebody’s declaration of spot price per ounce). And I need my assorted coins. Maybe I’m going to a pawn shop or bank to sell them for a mortgage or Buy’N’Large-appropriate cash, maybe a government is reestablishing or it’s a disaster more like the Civil War, Great Depression, Argentina, Bosnia, or Greece and I need to pay taxes on my property. Maybe I’m off to buy myself a new donkey or mule, and, hey, while we’re out, hit the blacksmith for a new file or hitch bar, or a septic man to come check my system. I’d like to be able to work in relatively small amounts like $20, $40, and $100, but I may also want to deal with $500-$2K.

With Suisse Bars, I can fit several thousand dollars flat on my person inside a belt, inside the lining of a vest or coat, inside my holster, and inside two or three pockets.

Suisse bars – especially in conjunction with some coins for $2-10 purchases – give me that flexibility, and I can fit several thousand dollars flat on my person inside a belt, inside the lining of a vest or coat, inside my holster, and inside two or three pockets. I need just that spot price, whether I print it weekly or cut it out of a paper and stash it monthly, and that fits nice and flat, too. They add some weight to a canteen, to the stiff panel of a holster or mag pouch, but they don’t add a lot of bulk and they don’t add the weight of 1925 dimes or 1943 quarters.

Compared to just the coins, the Suisse bars do take up more space due to the packaging, but that packaging is what allows them to be readily used as currency and barter even with people who aren’t currently preppers and who are going to be suspicious of the junk silver we like unless we present – and sometimes even with – a “real” book that shows their silver or gold value. The lack of trust may end up limiting our future options. The book alone is one more thing that I have to carry around, or I may end up losing more opportunities from non-hoarders. Since we like to do things in three around here, it’s not just one book or one set of cheat sheets.

Anything limiting is bad. Options are good.

I’d like to be able to use them pretty easily. Marked as they are, Suisse bars inspire a fair bit of confidence in recipients and come with an ease for calculation, use, and carry that coins or rolls of coins just don’t. Not for me.

Suisse bars versus gems

Something I see come up regularly when we talk about PM’s on forums or in person, is that soul who points out gems. It’s a point I acknowledge. However, when you start talking about gems you need three things: a knowledgeable buyer, tools for assessing value, and to be spending a fair bit at once.

You’re way past a how-to book for the uninitiated with even small diamonds. You’re into a loupe, and you have to find somebody willing to take them. If we run into the “you can’t eat a coin” mentality when we discuss PM’s, that goes double for the stones folks. Fewer people will just take your word for it on the value of a piece. A certificate for a stone or a piece of jewelry isn’t going to carry all that far, really, unless somebody can find a jeweler to confirm that value. There’s more time, more equipment, and more specialized skills needed to use gems as currency.

Now, if the Bad Thing that happens turns us into refugees fleeing into a working, functional country and city, my theory is dumb. Somebody with some nice, rare stones and gems stuck in the hollowed out chunks of their boot heels, grandma’s cane, and Cousin Louie’s hood seam are going to be able to readily find a shop, trade their gems for monies, and go be successful. I’m going to have a harder time stashing the same cash value worth of <5g Suisse bars than gem people or people with 1-oz. gold coins.

That’s a pretty specific scenario, though. Because they’re more versatile through more disasters of lesser and greater scales, I prefer the Suisse bars.

Buying in

There are some real scams out there associated with Suisse bars, especially. There are some stupidly overpriced coins, too, but because of the packaging, Suisse bars end up seeing a lot of markups and some unsavory types will always take advantage of wants, needs and fears and mark things up further.

Do your homework. Always.

A three-minute internet search can give you the going rate of bars and denominations, their shipping costs. That knowledge can be carried to a supplier (remembering that brick-and-mortar shops pay for overhead and that increases the price further). We can also call around to shops before we even go out the door so we know what a general starting price is for our areas and not be taken advantage of by unscrupulous types in our towns and cities, or plan a detour to buy from a larger supplier in a larger town somewhere, where bulk consumption helps keep consumer prices lower.

If you choose to buy online instead of with cash, for sure and 100% at least compare the prices against a reputable dealer like JM Bullion or APMEX, and be really, really sure Amazon and eBay are going to insure your purchase and the shipping. Do a BBB and internet search for the seller and company to find reviews. If they’re not 5-star sterling, buy elsewhere.

Suisse bars as a currency

The sizes and ease may make Suisse bars part of a solution for somebody who’s ready to invest in more than savings, retirement, and consumables. They aren’t for everybody, and neither are PM’s. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all fix for anything in life, really. But they are an option for backup or alternative currency, and they’re one I rarely see discussed (besides the scam alerts) so I wanted to point them out.

  There are options when we talk about stockpiling wealth or currency in preparedness folds. Precious metals (PM) as a preparedness item are a topic of some debate in and of

They’re powerful, unpredictable and the most destructive weather system on Earth. Tornadoes can devastate a town in a matter of minutes, ripping away rooftops and sending pickup trucks through the air. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA), the United States has an average of over 1,000 tornadoes recorded each year. Every state in the U.S. has experienced a tornado at some point or another, as they’re not limited to one specific geographic location. But states like Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma are hit harder than others. If you’re moving to Tornado Alley, you’ve got to be prepared for the worst. Keep these tips in mind as you set up your new home:

Plan for Shelter

Keeping your family safe when a tornado strikes calls for a durable storm shelter. In-ground and above-ground shelters offer complete protection from the elements when inclement weather rolls in. Based out of Oklahoma, storm shelter company, Family Safe, offers certified in-home storm shelters that have been F5 certified, giving you complete protection from tornadoes. Family Safe also meets the FEMA criteria concerning reliable storm shelters. Just because they’re based out of Oklahoma doesn’t mean they can’t install a shelter at your home. Family Safe has storm shelter dealers across the U.S. and they’ve installed shelters in Dallas, Texas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Joplin, Missouri.

In addition to providing shelter from Tornadoes, these sturdy structures can also provide a safe room environment.

Shelters like this one in the garage can be installed after your home is constructed and could double as a panic room.

Plan for Communication

There are many things that should go into your survival kit, one of those items is an Iridium satellite phone. When communication goes out, your smartphone won’t be much help. Having a satellite phone in your bug-out bag is essential when it comes to weathering a storm. Iridium satellite phones rely on ground networks and 66 low Earth-orbiting satellites to establish a connection. A report by Frost & Sullivan found that the Iridium network offers the best call quality and call completion rates when compared to competitors. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. military relies on Iridium’s network. A sat phone is your lifeline in the midst of disaster. You’ll be able to call for help and check in with family and friends to let them know that you’re safe.

Of course only relying on technology is a short-sighted plan because things do go wrong. Have a back-up communication plan with relatives or neighbors to get the word out should something happen.

In addition to letting others know about your status after a tornado, it is important to receive as much advance warning of any approaching weather as possible. A good weather alert radio can warn you even if you aren’t watching the news or checking your smart phone. If you live in areas prone to tornadoes, a system like this is essential.

Practice your plan

Once you hear that tornado warning, you’ve got to take action. Having a well-established plan outlined before disaster strikes is critical to survival. Sketch a floor plan of your home and walk each room with your family to discuss how and where to seek shelter if you don’t have a secure, dedicated room described above. Identify second exits throughout the different areas of your home. Make sure that everyone knows where the fire extinguishers and first-aid kits are located. It’s also a smart idea to teach your entire family basic first-aid skills. Keep a list of important telephone numbers and contacts in a waterproof container inside of your survival kit. Store important information like the ownership certificates for your car, truck, RV or boat, your family’s birth certificates and social security cards and insurance policies in there as well.

When the sky turns dark and you spot a funnel cloud, you must take shelter immediately. Most tornado related injuries and fatalities are caused by flying objects, according to the CDC. Practice what you and your family will do to take shelter ahead of time. A tornado can happen anywhere, that’s why it’s also important to go over the best place to seek shelter, whether you’re at home, work or school.

They’re powerful, unpredictable and the most destructive weather system on Earth. Tornadoes can devastate a town in a matter of minutes, ripping away rooftops and sending pickup trucks through the

Preppers try to plan for all manner of situations in which their lives or health could be in jeopardy. We take steps to mitigate the bad effects of disasters so that our family will be as least impacted or safe as possible. When we start to make plans for situations where one or more members of our group are separated from us, the possibilities are endless. How do you prepare for every conceivable option possible for someone who is away from you? Is the main goal for those away, to get to your location? Do you rendezvous at a central location or are they supposed to wait to be collected? When do you know it is time to go? What rules do you have to consider breaking to survive?

This is further complicated when the person you are making these plans for are your children. For most of us, our school age children are away from us for a large block of time each day. Naturally, we would feel better if our kids were with us pretty much all of the time so that we would feel more in control of their safety but that isn’t possible for the majority so we have to make plans to include disasters occurring when our children are separated from us. This article is going to discuss how we can start preparing your children for disasters and equipping them with tools, skills and a plan for reuniting with you in the event of some crisis.

As a parent myself, I have given a lot of thought to the concepts and concerns I will present here, but I don’t have every answer and obviously I won’t be able to identify every possible scenario you could face. However, I think we can all take some practical steps that anyone could start with that could mean the difference between life and death should your children find them separated from you regardless of the event. I will also try to address concepts for different ages. You can’t expect a baby or even a younger preschooler to be able to do much in the way of thinking for themselves the same way you could a child in middle school or someone in high-school although some very young children have survived disaster.

Equipping your child for survival

Any self-respecting prepper has some form of EDC gear on them at all times. If you are new to the term, EDC stands for Every Day Carry and it is simple tools and gear that could help you survive. Some items in our EDC could help our children just as much as they could help you so I think it is also a good idea to equip them with gear they could use in a disaster. Obviously, children going to school aren’t going to be packing a concealed carry firearm or a knife. Most would be prevented from even having a lighter also, which may be a good thing but what can they take with them to aid in their survival?

What EDC gear should children have?

    • Water – No person should be without water. You can easily slip a BPA free water bottle in their backpack every day. This will provide them with at least some measure of water should something happen. Even if a child is in grade school they know what to do with this. Older children could even pack a water filter like the Sawyer Mini. This is incredibly lightweight and packs small but they will now have an almost limitless source of clean water if needed. Naturally, they will need to recognize situations where this filter is needed and instructed in how to use it properly.
    • Food – Children don’t need three days of freeze-dried food in their packs, but a few snack bars would keep them fed for a while. The trade-off is when these get eaten every day and need to be replenished, but that does ensure they stay fresh…
    • Shelter – I don’t think anyone is going to pack a tent or sleeping bag every day, but you can give your child a small emergency blanket. These are cheap and lightweight. Again, they will need to know how to use this and when it is appropriate. Probably the best way to prepare your children is to have them dressed appropriately for the weather conditions outside as opposed to dressing for indoors. By this I mean you need to know what the weather is supposed to be and have them dress for possibly spending a long time (overnight?) in that weather.

A loud whistle can call for help and is heard much easier than screams.

  • Security – This is tough for any kids going to a school, but for younger children you can get them a very loud whistle so they can signal for help. Older children may be able to keep some items in their car, but again this varies according to the age and maturity level of your child. I think any middle school and high school age children should be able to carry a pocket knife or multi-tool, but if the rules forbid that, you are limited.
  • Health/First Aid – There aren’t many children who are going to be able to patch themselves or anyone else up who is seriously injured, but small first aid kits with a few Band-Aids and some hand sanitizer could allow them to take care of small cuts and could help morale by giving them a sense of accomplishment. Older children should know the basics of stopping bleeding by applying pressure until the bleeding stops. Teenagers could easily deploy blood stopping bandages and save lives. I would probably leave the combat tourniquets at home though.
  • OtherDust masks, bandannas and even gloves and sunglasses could help your kids in certain circumstances. The problem then becomes putting this in a form that won’t be lost, played with or forgotten. I recommend putting all of these items in a small bag that stays in their backpack with instructions to use only in an emergency. Again, the bag will have to be where they can get to it for it to do any good. What about fire? I think it is more important to teach your child how to build and start a fire than it is to give them a lighter. Lighters aren’t going to be allowed in school. You could give them a ferrocium rod and separate the striker but that could lead to issues with the school authorities also. Maybe a blastmatch would get past the objections of the teacher who might not even know what it is used for, but you will have to decide if that makes sense. The bigger problem is knowing what to do with either tool if you need it. You can’t just take a lighter to a leaf and have a fire (that is controlled).

Just having the means to build a fire isn’t enough. It is more important to teach your children how to make a fire.

The items above are considerations for school, but what about if your children are on a camping trip or spending the night with friends? There are different situations you could augment supplies switching one thing out for another but in my experience that gets neglected, then forgotten quickly. I think it is better to have one system that they always have, know how to use and carry with them. That doesn’t mean that I don’t change what my child has if they are planning travel that is of a significant distance or longer duration than a single day at school.

Teach your kids what to do in a crisis

Steven, A Final Prepper reader sent me the following question that just so happened to prompt this post and echoes thoughts I have had as well as a father.

I have been wondering what would happen if TEOTWAWKI happened while kids were out-of-state on a school trip or similar situation. Do parents go on a 2-week trek to try to find/fetch them (if they even know where they are)? Do the trip leaders try to march a bunch of children home with no supplies or shelter? Are the families permanently separated until communications are restored? What if both the parents and kids were headed for the other and passed each other on their trips? How does one group know to stay put, and the other to move without communications?

The scenario Steven describes is a nightmare for any parent but a real possibility in a disaster when you are separated by any significant distance from loved ones. It reminds me of the exact plot-line of the short-lived TV show Survivors which you can watch on Netflix. In that show a mother and child were separated when he was on a camping trip and TEOTWAWKI happened. It worked out (naturally) but in real life millions of people have been orphaned in various real-life disasters that didn’t result from TEOTWAWKI, but war. If you want a sobering look at how that takes place in reality, watch The Good Lie.

As with everything I hypothesize on this blog, it really depends on the disaster, the people involved and the resources they have.

What is the TEOTWAWKI scenario? For example, if you had a 17-year-old son who was on this out-of-state trip with his high school and an EMP destroyed all electronic devices in the world (just bear with me) but didn’t cause direct loss of life, you wouldn’t be able to communicate with him. He might have even been en route to his destination so you likely would not have any accurate idea of where he physically was at any time. Would you leave your wife and other children at home to worry while you set out on foot to find him? What if instead of being 17 he was 14? What if your child was only two hours away by car? What if they were only 9 years old?

Being separated from your children is a nightmare scenario for parents in a crisis.

There are a million variables when we start talking about TEOTWAWKI and each family is different. What if you were a single parent and your son or daughter was only 50 miles away. Would you leave thinking you could find them? Now, if it wasn’t TEOTWAWKI and some regional disaster occurred, I would be in the car right away most likely.

For me and I am saying this while there is no TEOTWAWKI and my children are thankfully fine, I think in the scenario above I would stay home and pray for his safe return. Ideally I would have told him before leaving (and equipped him) that if the worst happens, he is to come back home. I would hope my 17-year-old son and whoever he is with would make it back to a known location (our home) using the skills and perhaps some of the gear listed above to survive until he made it back. As a father I might want to run after him, but I would be leaving the rest of my family defenseless possibly. Would I rather try to possibly fail to find one son, or lose potentially the rest of your family? These are hard questions that I hope none of us will ever have to answer.

So keep your children by your side and never let them leave. Seriously, we have to let our children venture further from the nest as they grow. I might not want this to happen because I can think of a million scary reasons how it could go wrong, but we do have to live life. Our children need to do the same. If you children are older, approaching adulthood, you will hopefully have instilled some of your beliefs in them already and equipped them with some basic survival skills. If they are younger, you should be working out worst-case plans with the people they will be in charge of them while they are away. You can make a joke out of it. “Hey, if the world ends and zombies start attacking, you are getting my kids back to me, right?”

I have tried to teach my children what to do in a crisis that happens when I am in the same town as them but there are only so many scenarios you can run through. I have talked to all of my kids about what to do if they were lost, something happened in their schools or they were in a place where a gunman was killing people. I can’t be there with them all of the time so I do what I can, worry occasionally and pray a lot for their safety.

What would you as a parent do?

Preppers try to plan for all manner of situations in which their lives or health could be in jeopardy. We take steps to mitigate the bad effects of disasters so

My wife came to me a few days back and asked me what I thought about Silencers. She had heard either ads or an interview on a radio talk show and was curious so she asked the local gun ‘expert’. I hope you understand that I don’t consider myself an expert on anything really, but when it comes to firearms I do have more experience than my wife for what it’s worth. She had heard bits and pieces about silencers and wanted to know what was so great about them and if they were so great, why didn’t I have them on our weapons.

She even mentioned that she thought this might make a good post idea since there were probably other people who had questions about silencers too. My wife usually has good ideas so I figured I would give it a shot, no pun intended and frame this within the context of a Prepper and our hypothetical grid-down scenario. Does it make sense to purchase a silencer for your handgun?

What are silencers and what do they do?

Silencers are also called suppressors and some people will get hung up on this detail. The silencer doesn’t actually ‘silence’ the sound of the weapon, but it does suppress the sound. You can call it what you want, everyone else does too and only the really anal will correct you if you call this little piece of hardware a silencer.

The reason why silencers are able to suppress the sound of the gun firing is they offer the explosion of the gunpowder more room to expand and cool off. Without any type of suppressor, when you fire a gun, the gasses that explode when the firing pin strikes the primer and ignites the gunpowder explode with a high amount of pressure. This pressure could be as high as 3,000 pounds per square inch so that explosion is very loud when it comes out of the barrel.

A silencer extends the barrel of the firearm out and gives the gas baffles to expand into so the explosion, rather than coming out immediately at the end of the barrel has more room to dissipate and cool off. When this happens there is less pressure and the explosion of gas is not as loud. The round you are using and the silencer construction will all play into how much sound is reduced.

What are good reasons to own a silencer?

The main purpose of using a silencer is to make the weapon quieter when you fire it. There are some other effects that silencer manufacturers will point to, but the noise reduction is the primary benefit. The question is why would you care to have a weapon that doesn’t make as loud of a bang when you shoot it?

I have handguns in my home for self-defense. These are meant to be used in the event that I have someone intent on causing physical harm to me or one of my family. We usually envision hearing a noise in the middle of the night and realizing someone is in your home. The gun is grabbed from its location and we head out to confront whatever the threat is. Our intent would be that if confronted with a life threatening situation we would not hesitate to fire our weapon and disable the threat, possibly permanently.

This sounds well and good but have you ever fired a weapon in a confined space? If you were to shoot just about any gun indoors you would not be able to hear immediately after the first shot. The noise decibels of that gunshot explosion we talked about above would be so high that you would suffer (hopefully temporary) deafness. If you were able to put down the threat with the first shot that might be OK, but what if there were other threats? What if you needed to communicate with others in the house? That gunshot would make doing anything that required hearing for a little while almost impossible.

When I was in the Army we would go to the rifle range all of the time. One time we were qualifying and this exercise is done with pop up targets that pop up for a few seconds and then go back down. If they go down before you shoot them you miss that point. The targets are all spaced at random distances so you never know which one will come up. Speed is a big factor at being successful in this test so I didn’t have any time to goof around. When the exercise started, I sighted in on the first target as it rose and sqeezed off a round. Instantly I knew that I had forgotten to put my earplugs in. My ears almost closed up or at least the feeling was similar and even outside the rifle was loud. The targets weren’t stopping so neigher could I to grab my ear protection. Each shot I took sent pain through my ears. I finished the test but my ears hurt for a good while after that. With a silencer I know it would have done less damage to my ears.

Having a suppressor could make someone who is gun shy, because of the noise, more comfortable shooting a weapon. Instead of anticipating the loud noise, a silenced weapon might allow them to comfortably squeeze the trigger and shoot.

Without getting too far down the rabbit hole there could be situations where you did not want to draw attention to your location and having a silenced weapon could help in that department. I am not talking about going Jason Borne on anyone here, but I’ll leave some of that up to your imagination.

What are reasons not to own a silencer?

There are really only a couple of reasons I could think of not to own a silencer. The first would be the cost and hassle you need to go through in order to purchase one. A silencer is controlled just like firearms so you obviously would need to meet the requirements of your state laws, be over 21 and not be a felon, etc. etc. You would need to purchase this through or have the silencer shipped to a licensed dealer. You would also need to pay $200 dollars above the cost of the silencer and submit additional paperwork to the ATF to get a tax stamp. If that wasn’t enough you will most likely need a threaded barrel to affix the silencer so after it’s all said and done you could easily end up spending close to $1000 for the joy of this new toy.

The second reason for me anyway is that I can’t justify owning one. Would I like to go out and shoot without wearing hearing protection? Well, sure that would be nice but I couldn’t do that at a range because nobody else would have suppressors on. Would this help me in a home invasion situation? I believe it would be a tremendous advantage, but I still can’t justify the trouble. Also, I would have to leave my silencer on my weapon to really use this and I think that might make storing this (where I have my weapon stored currently) more problematic.

Can you imagine walking around with a silenced pistol in a holster?

I know that everyone has an opinion and what opinions are like…. But for me a silencer having a silencer for your handgun falls so far down the list of priorities that I can’t see ever purchasing one myself. That is just me though. I am sure that there are folks out there who have the money and see the value in purchasing a silencer for your weapons. I can see the value, but everything else seems like a hassle to me that doesn’t give me a great return on investment.

What do you think?

My wife came to me a few days back and asked me what I thought about Silencers. She had heard either ads or an interview on a radio talk show

The remembering of the events on 9/11/2001 that killed thousands is just barely in our rear-view mirror. This day fortunately passed without any incident. That day in our past saw so much death, chaos and confusion many of us haven’t experienced in our lifetimes and hopefully never will again. It was a historical day for all manner of reasons beyond the tragedy of lives lost through terrorism or sacrifice. It gave us a glimpse into the very definition of pandemonium live on TV – played out in real-time before our unbelieving eyes. As a nation, we watched in horror as first explosions rocked the towers, then the catastrophic collapse of two giant skyscrapers enveloped a city in toxic dust and sent untold thousands running for their lives.

A terrorist attack on a large city is still statistically one of the least likely events you would ever be affected by, but since that day people have come to understand some of the risks of being caught in an urban disaster differently. There are different realities in an urban environment that might require an alternate set of plans for your life. If you started to plan for an urban survival kit, what items should you consider?

Urban survival kit list

An urban survival kit is one you could carry with you and possibly stash at your work location assuming you have a safe place to go to outside the city. If you live full-time in the city, your needs for a kit might be similar but if you plan on walking out and not coming back, a Bug Out Bag might be more appropriate.

I work in a small city in a building in our downtown area and if an event like 9/11 happened in my city, I would want to have some items on hand that might allow me to escape with my health intact or possibly to render aid to someone. The items in the urban survival kit below are just ideas. Your reality might require additional survival items altogether.

I am going to discuss items that could assist you if an event like 9/11 happened in a city you were in. A disaster has impacted the city and you work in an office building downtown. Communications are down, services are down and your goal is to make it out of your building, out of the city and back home as quickly as possible.

The basics

Water – Naturally you will need water so a liter or so, maybe a couple of plastic bottles of water would meet your needs until you either get home or to a location with a source of water you could filter and resupply. Even in 9/11 the world didn’t stop. Stores were still open and you could still make purchases but this initial supply will allow you to get as far away from the crisis as possible before you have to stop and think about additional supplies.

Plastic water bottles can be reused and are lighter than other options, but a stainless steel Nalgene bottle can also be used over a fire to boil water if you really are in dire straits.

Pack down to storage pocket-size. Ultra lite-weight Waterproof and breathable. Beats carrying an umbrella.

Food – This should be something that requires zero preparation. Something like high calorie energy bars would be best. You don’t want to have to worry about boiling water (or carrying cookware) to re-hydrate your Mountain House Chili Mac, you want to get home. Energy bars take up relatively little space, you can eat them while you are walking and they will tie you over until you get to a safer location. A good option would be Bear Valley Pemmican Bars. They have 390 calories each and no chocolate to melt all over the place. Have enough for the amount of time you think it would take you to walk home and double that. You could face detours or be slowed by injury.

Shelter – You could be forced to spend the night outdoors, or trapped in a subway station or airport. For urban survival you wouldn’t need to worry about packing a tent. There should be millions of places to find a shelter you can get under. You do need to worry about warmth though. In the cooler months plan for a set of base layers, a fleece and a water proof shell. These don’t have to be expensive and the high-dollar hiking shells aren’t worth their price in my opinion. You can get a waterproof jacket from Frogg Toggs for less than $20 that is incredibly light so it takes up no space in your urban survival kit and it can keep you dry. It also doubles as a windbreaker so in combination with your base layers and fleece you should be warm for a walk out of the city.

A urban survival kit can give you the survival items you need to make it out of the city fast.

Summer conditions require a different shelter and that is usually from the heat. A good lightweight hat that keeps the sun off your head will work. I would also pack a lightweight long sleeve shirt. This may be the last thing you want to wear if it is hot, but if you are a woman who is in a sleeveless dress in the middle of summer a shirt will keep the sun off you and offer a little more protection.

Simply touching an attacker will deliver a high voltage shock causing loss of balance and muscle control, confusion, and disorientation bringing him to his knees and making him incapable of further aggressive activity

Shoes are a big deal for me probably because for some reason I have been blessed with the tenderest feet in the world. If I had to walk very far barefoot I would be hurting. I know some people who can walk barefoot over gravel. Not me so good footwear is a priority for me for that reason. In addition, you may be at work with dress shoes and they aren’t suited for long walks. Have a good pair of shoes that will first allow you to walk for days possibly and protect your feet. You could have to walk cross-country. The weather may be inclement so have shoes that will get you home no matter what. I wear either leather boots with good soles or hiking shoes every day. I know some people who wear flip-flops and I would hate to see them try to climb their way out of a collapsed building or pile of rubble with nothing more than those on.

Security – I carry a concealed firearm with me just about all of the time. If something happens I will at least have a 9MM for protection. In a true disaster, desperate people might be out to harm you for any one of a million reasons. Having a means to defend yourself is an important, but often overlooked necessity. If not a firearm, because for some people that isn’t possible, a high power Taser that can shoot out 53,000,000 watts could incapacitate someone quickly. Barring that, Police Strength pepper spray is an alternative. Sabre has a compact size that gives an advertised 35 shots. That could get you through a lot of bad guys. Going down the list a good survival knife is a fall back item which has other uses, but the last thing I want to do is get into a knife fight with anyone.

Health – Running from disaster can lead to injury or you could have been injured in the attack. Simple first aid items can help you stop bleeding or wrap up wounds long enough to receive care when you are in a safe location. Obviously, if you are seriously injured, I don’t expect any of us will be packing a full service medical kit in our urban survival bag.

You can pack a few of the following items that could help in the health department.

  • N-95 masks – Remember the giant dust clouds when the buildings fell? These could be very useful in a similar situation or offer some protection against other threats.
  • Nitrile Gloves – This one might not make sense because our goal is to get home as quickly as possible but a few sets of nitrile gloves weigh almost nothing and could be a disposable option for messy situations.
  • Pain Reliever – A good pain reliever could help with aches from injuries or sore muscles from carrying loads.
  • Blood Stopper –This is a compound that actually stops bleeding. Used for serious wounds to create a seal. Adventure medical kits created a Trauma Pack bandage with Quick Clot in it so you can wrap the wound, the Celox will stop the bleeding and you can keep on keeping on.
  • Sunscreen – If you are forced out in the middle of summer and you aren’t prepared to deal with the effects of too much sun, you could end up with severe burns.

In a disaster or crisis you could find yourself running for your life. Will you have the gear you need?

Hygiene – I wouldn’t worry too much about the hygiene department assuming you aren’t dealing with disease or dead bodies here and assuming you can make it to safety. Spare toilet paper might be a good item to pack just remove the cardboard insert out of a half used roll and squish it down. Put this in a freezer bag to keep it dry. Hand sanitizer isn’t something I use, but in a disaster situation where I was worried about disease and I couldn’t wash my hands I would use this before eating.

I wouldn’t bring deodorant or a toothbrush although I know comfort items are really important to some people.

The X Factor

Many of those items above could have a home in either your Get Home Bag or your Bug Out Bag, but what other items could you need in an urban survival situation where your goal is to get home as quickly as possible?

The Stanley FUBAR can get you out of a jam or be used as a weapon in a pinch.

Pry Bar – A simple pry bar can be a lifesaver. You can use it to pry open vending machines to get that lifesaving candy bar fix or do open elevator doors, stuck filing cabinets… A million uses and if you want to go all Braveheart on someone, a prybar like the Stanley FUBAR can be used as a weapon in a pinch.

Bolt Cutters – This may not be a realistic tool for some of you, but a pair of mini-bolt cutters can open doors that were previously closed. Pun intended. If you goal is to get home, maybe these aren’t needed but I can imagine a lot of potential uses depending on how bad the disaster is.

Eye Pro – You want to protect your eyes and a good pair of swimming goggles can keep you safe from the effects of Tear Gas or dust. You can even get them in pretty colors too. If that is too silly for you, there is always the high-speed ESS Military issue protective glasses. These will protect you from debris, but they aren’t sealed around your eyes. You will probably look much cooler though.

Gloves – Gloves should be available to you pretty much in every bag you have. These can be good leather gloves or something like Mechanix Gloves. They will protect your hands from cuts, heat and abuse.

Small Roll of Duct Tape – Do I really have to say why? Don’t pack a whole roll because you don’t need that weight. Just wrap your water bottle or a lighter a few times for back up repair capability.

Headlamp – A good bright headlamp, beats a flashlight every time for hands free sight when it’s dark.

Bandanna/Shemgah – These can be used for bandages, face-masks or protection from the elements.

Loud Whistle – A simple whistle is great for getting the attention of anyone you want to find you, like a rescue team if you are trapped.

Sticky Notes and Permanent Marker – Useful for leaving notes for people letting them know where you are or where you are going.

USB Battery Charger – This adds some weight but if your phones are still working, this will allow you to recharge your phone without the benefit of an electric socket. Even a small 3300mAh USB Battery charger can fully recharge your smart phone.

Maps of your city – Yes maps. What if you can’t take your normal route home? What if you are forced to go around due to a giant fire? Having even a simple map will allow you to chart out an alternate route if you are forced to. Another option mentioned on another post was to take screenshots of your city or route in Google Earth and store them on your phone as a reference.

What bag are you going to carry your Urban Survival Kit in?

So you have all of this gear stocked and ready. It could go in the bottom of your locker at work or in a desk draw, but you need something to carry it all in. There are a million bags out there and you should select a bag for your urban survival kit that not only gives you room for your gear but is comfortable, able to withstand a little abuse and blends in to the rest of the crowd so you aren’t targeted for your belongings.

Here are a few sample bags that should do the job nicely. Make sure the bag you choose fits and is comfortable to you.

5.11 Rush 24

The 5.11 bag is my get home bag that remains in my vehicle. If I can access my truck but am unable to drive to safety, I will use this bag and transfer any gear if needed. These are incredibly tough bags but do look tactical which is certainly by design. I have seen many guys rocking these bags though so I don’t think you would get too many looks if you brought this to work.

Rush 24 by 5.11 Tactical

Black Diamond Bullet 16 Backpack

Versatility in a sleek, trim pack, the Black Diamond Bullet 16 panel-loader is an excellent rig for off-trail or high-mileage scrambles which would serve you equally well in an urban environment.

CamelBak Cloud Walker 18

The Cloud Walker 18 hiking pack sports a clean, technical aesthetic with features designed to keep all your gear organized. The main compartment is accessed via an asymmetrical zipper that enables easy access and prevents cargo from spilling out when fully open. In addition to the 2 liter Antidote Reservoir you get two mesh side pockets for keeping essentials close at hand.

Osprey Axis Daypack

Osprey makes excellent bags and I have this pack’s older brother, the Atmos AG as my bug out bag/hiking bag. Excellent quality.

Tactical Taylor Urban Operator Pack

The Urban Operator has a large main compartment, medium-sized front pocket with an admin organizer. Fits most laptop computers up to 17″, water bottle pocket and contoured padded shoulder straps. 1,836 Ci volume. It’s a little tactical looking but nothing too out of the ordinary nowadays.

So there are my thoughts on some good urban survival kit items. What do you have in your bag? Do you commute to work in a large city? What are your plans if disaster strikes?

The remembering of the events on 9/11/2001 that killed thousands is just barely in our rear-view mirror. This day fortunately passed without any incident. That day in our past saw

For years, I have listened to people in prepping circles talk about “The Golden Horde”. What is that you ask? Well, the golden horde is a concept that as far as I can tell was introduced by James Wesley Rawles. I like Mr. Rawles – have several of his books in my prepper library and I have been going to his website for years. Mr. Rawles is the writer of several prepper fiction novels (Patriots, Survivors), and probably the first survival book I ever read How to Survive the End of the World As We Know it . He is also the owner of the popular survivalblog.com website. Mr. Rawles’ golden horde concept roughly says that if we have a TEOTWAKI type of event, the major population centers will soon see a mass exodus of people out of the cities and into the surrounding countryside because the cities will be unlivable. The thinking will be to head to the countryside where there is more room, less violence, more food and a safer existence than in the cities.

The historical Golden Horde was a Mongol tribe back in the 13th century, but for the sake of Prepping and how the modern interpretation of this concept could apply to you, I will use Mr. Rawles’ own words in describing what he meant by this concept:

Here is a mental exercise: Put yourself in the mind set of Mr. Joe Sixpack, Suburbanite. (Visualize him in or near a big city near where you live.) He is unprepared. He has less than one week’s food on hand, he has a 12 gauge pump action shotgun that he hasn’t fired in years, and just half a tank of gas in his minivan and maybe a gallon or two in a can that he keeps on hand for his lawn mower. Then TEOTWAWKI hits. The power grid is down, his job is history, the toilet doesn’t flush, and water no longer magically comes cascading from the tap. There are riots beginning in his city. The local service stations have run out of gas. The banks have closed. Now he is suddenly desperate. Where will he go? What will he do?

Odds are, Joe will think: “I’ve gotta go find a vacation cabin somewhere, up in the mountains, where some rich dude only goes a few weeks out of each year.” So vacation destinations like Lake Tahoe, Lake Arrowhead, and Squaw Valley, California; Prescott and Sedona, Arizona; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and the other various rural ski, spa, Great Lakes, and coastal resort areas will get swarmed. Or, he will think: “I’ve got to go to where they grow food.” So places like the Imperial Valley, the Willamette Valley, and the Red River Valley will similarly get overrun. There will be so many desperate Joe Sixpacks arriving all at once that these areas will degenerate into free-fire zones. It will be an intensely ugly situation and will not be safe for anyone. In some places the locals may be so vastly outnumbered that they won’t survive. But some of the Joe Sixpacks will survive, and then the more ruthless among them will begin to fight amongst themselves for the few remaining resources. They will form ad hoc gangs of perhaps 6 to 30 people.

Now, with that context I will try to give my perspective on this question because I have heard a few of my fellow bloggers, some with no more expertise in this topic than Mr. Rawles or anyone else for that matter, give their opinion that is it foolish to think that the cities will disgorge themselves of people in a TEOTWAWKI event. They argue that people will sit and wait and never leave major metropolitan areas for all number of reasons. They say it could be they are too used to being catered to and will just sit waiting for handouts to come from the government. Others say that the roads will be blocked so there is no way to leave. Not wanting to be left out on the fun, I’ll give my own unlearned opinion below.

What is the Event we are talking about here?

As with all things in life, the situation you are actually faced with will determine the available choices you have or more appropriately, what choices you are forced to make. To say this entire concept is without merit is foolish I think and it shows a lack of imagination to say that this could never happen. I can easily see situations that would force people to leave their homes or cities and if you only have one potential disaster in mind you aren’t seeing the big picture. Everything depends on the disaster as I have said before so while one event might not cause any disruption at all, another could change the world. People are fleeing all the time so this isn’t some bizarre concept that lives solely in the realm of prepper fantasy.

In Mr. Rawles’ mental exercise he was using a power outage. What caused this power outage? We don’t know but it has been long enough that for Joe, “his job is history, the toilet doesn’t flush, and water no longer magically comes cascading from the tap.” We have to assume the power has been out for a long time or the outage was extremely severe and the Just In Time inventory has been depleted. Utilities are out so a major city would get ugly fast. Have you ever seen a sanitation strike in New York? He goes on to say “there are riots beginning in his city. The local service stations have run out of gas. The banks have closed.”. Now, imagine this Joe Sixpack is living in a major city when this happens like New York or Los Angeles.

Do you really think there won’t be people leaving if these things were happening? Do you honestly believe in a city of over 8 million people that nobody is going to leave that type of disaster? Even if we are only talking about 10% of the entire population that decides based upon the information they have (maybe we were attacked by terrorists with an EMP) that they need to get out of the city no matter what, you are still talking about 800,000 people. That’s only 10% of one city!

Let’s go ahead and continue with the theory that this is New York. We have to assume from Mr. Rawles’ mental exercise that since he said that this is TEOTWAWKI,  that the same thing has happened across the country. This isn’t a small power outage caused by a storm that brings the power back in a few days. Now take the 10% from all the towns around New York and New Jersey and add those together. Can you begin to see how an event like this could trigger a “horde” of people moving into the countryside to escape the riots and lawlessness?

Where you live matters

In real estate, you know the phrase… Location, location, location. Where you live matters just as much as the event that causes the crisis or the crisis itself. If you live in the backwoods of Tennessee, you probably don’t have to worry about hundreds of thousands of people making their way out of the city, but what if Memphis and Knoxville were looking for a place to go?

Back in 2013, the Business Insider showed a map of the most populated counties in the United States. They used the census data to determine that over 50% of the population of our country lives in just 146 of the over 3000 nationwide counties. Do you live near one of these?

Half Of The United States Lives In These Counties

It is my belief that with the right disaster, the Golden Horde concept is very likely. I can easily see having to worry about people fleeing major cities if you live near some big metropolis. Now if you are out in the middle of East Jesus, then you probably don’t have to worry about it as much, if at all. However, that doesn’t mean it is crazy for anyone to worry about the golden horde. It might be crazier to think you know everything and everyone else is wrong. It is wise to research it though and find out for yourself if maybe there is something you need to plan for. Where do you live? Is there a big blue spot near your home?

For years, I have listened to people in prepping circles talk about “The Golden Horde”. What is that you ask? Well, the golden horde is a concept that as far


What is the Grey Man Theory?

There are many different ideas, rules and trains of thought about the Grey Man theory. Some would view it as a way of life, others a tactical style or type of camouflage and others an exercise in preparedness.

The Grey Man however is universally recognized as a person who remains unnoticed in all situations. Someone who is not only physically but physiologically average and everyday. These people wear non branded clothing that blends in with the crowd and does not draw attention. They are of average height or build and have facial features that do not attract attention in any way. For example, a short balding man in a camouflage jacket with a large nose would attract attention no matter what. The same could be said of an average sized women wearing nondescript clothing who happens to be stunningly beautiful.

Some would say that some people are just born to be Grey Men and others not. However, looks aren’t everything. The places you go and the things you do can also make you stand out. Ordering a flamboyant cocktail in a bar or a specialty dish at a restaurant will also attract attention. The car you drive, the house you own, the job you have, everything leaves people with a memory or note worthy point about you. The Grey Man does not have these things. This is where people tend to have different ideas on how far to go or how to do it.

The other side to the Grey Man is how they think. A true Grey Man will assess the situation in every room or location that they are in trying to take note of the number of people, exit points, hazard points and threats. They do this via a military technique called Situational Awareness.

Being Grey in a Grey World

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

Staying unnoticed in a place where you and the people all share the same or similar physical traits can be a huge advantage. Also, by having similar habits, mannerisms and speech it allows you to go better unnoticed. Having these things means that the minds Reticular Activating System will have a harder time identifying you as a threat or someone worth noticing.

This system is part of the way your mind processes information. It is a lot like the way computers process information when searching. Certain signals, actions, images or sounds processed by the brain set off alarm bells that make us take notice of things. This is how we pick people out in a crowd or overhear odd conversations in a room full of people.

No matter how we think as individuals this system remains active for everyone and works on the basis of what is different is a threat or to be feared. This is why being a Grey Man in a place full of people that look just like or act just like you is a major advantage.

Many sources of information would state that the Grey Man never speaks out or puts himself in the center of attention. However, in many cases speaking out or getting in the spot light every now and again is what makes people seem normal. Keeping too much to yourself and being too quite can often signal that something is wrong to others alerting them to your presents.

Being Grey on Color TV

As a survivalist and prepper living in a foreign country I can put weight behind the point of how hard it can be to simply blend in. This has given birth to a whole new way of thinking about the Grey Man. Trying to blend in when you obviously stick out will only bring more attention to yourself. So, how do you hide the wolf amongst the sheep? Not by trying to be a sheep, but by being something different to either one.

In Japan for example, there are a lot of preconceptions about foreign people’s. By adopting some of these it will aid in your acceptance and in time blending into the public. If the preconception is that you are loud, be loud. Work with these preconceptions and once you are not perceived as a threat, move to fade away into the backdrop.

This idea of conforming to people’s ideas about you also works for creating your own. Many would agree at by wearing tactical clothing draws attention and gives people the idea that you may have something of value in a SHTF situation. However if you have already created the misconception that you do not but wear such clothing as for example fashion or a work functional preference then people in your area are less likely to approach you or question your reasons. For example, if you do a lot of sport, wearing something a little more tactical or survival based would not raise an eyebrow.


This can also work in an offensive way as well as defensive. By appearing as an outsider and not one of the group, people will be less willing to confront you for fear of the unknown. Especially if you are in a physical situation and employ the right body language.

While this is all well and good for people that you know, strangers will still perceive you as different or a threat. Creating a balance of openness and concealment is important and will take time.

What shade of grey are you?

So how do we find out what people thing is grey and what is not? While a lot of preppers keep very much to themselves, some of us have a few friends and contacts that can help lend a hand in his regard.

A good technique for training your mind to pick out and mimic greyness in any given area is to look for it. Find a spot where you can sit relatively unnoticed, like a coffee shop window, which a good view of passers by. With each passing person try to find something to ridicule or mock. This, while not particularly nice is an effective way of finding something noticeable about a person that could be taken note of. When you find a person you can’t find anything to make fun of, you have found a truly grey individual.

Greyness is in the Eye of the Beholder

All of the ideas and view points discussed in this article have merit and are effective in their own way. However, the main point discovered by looking at all of this things and the additional element of living abroad highlight a key flaw in the current way of thinking when it comes to the Grey Man theory. You are only grey if everyone else things you are. By taking the culture, people and their preconceptions of you into account you can create a real camouflage for yourself beyond just clothing and body language.

  What is the Grey Man Theory? There are many different ideas, rules and trains of thought about the Grey Man theory. Some would view it as a way of life, others