SHTF Armorer: DIY Cold Bluing

Like anything else in this world that gets used, guns wear over time. Stick a gun with even the toughest coating on it in a holster and drawing it back out will slowly erode coatings and finishes.  Salt in sweat, salt and humidity in the air, repeated use, metal dragging/bearing against metal as it moves and actuates, even holding a gun in the same area will eventually wear off the finish. Go into a gun shop sometime and look at the ’94 Winchesters in the rack; the balance point on a 94 is such that you can wrap your hand around the receiver just forward of the triggerguard portion of the lever.  Any 94 that has been used will show signs of bluing wear (shiny, silver spots instead of black metal) right there, as well as inside the lever loop. It’s a constant in the universe:  any gun, given a long enough timeline and heavy enough use, will display signs of honest wear.  And it’s not a bad thing at all; it’s a sign of a much-loved gun.  However, it CAN be an eyesore, and even worse, it means that there is raw, exposed metal there, and that means that the steel is dangerously unprotected from corrosion if not properly cared for.

Note the light bluing wear in the high points of the receiver lines, as well as minor rust freckling, of this Remington 870.

Note the light bluing wear in the high points of the receiver lines, as well as minor rust freckling, of this Remington 870.

What is bluing?

In layman’s terms, “Bluing” is the traditional deep blue or black coloring you see on most STEEL-framed firearms. Traditional bluing only works on ferrous metals, and therefore will not work on stainless steel, or aluminum, for example.  It’s a process of changing the chemical composition of the outside of the steel that the gun is made up of, chemically altering iron in the steel to form a coating of magnetite, also known as black oxide of iron.  This can be achieved through a few different processes: “cold” bluing, which uses selenium dioxide to change the chemical composition of the steel, but the resulting finish isn’t as tough and wear-resistant as “hot” bluing.  Hot bluing utilizes a caustic solution of  liquid alkali salts in a heated bath, usually about 295-325 degrees F, and the resulting caustic black color is much tougher than cold bluing, but necessitates lots of specialized equipment – all the big time gun manufacturers utilize hot tank bluing because it’s a reliable, cost-effective way to produce high quality results that are attractive and rust-resistant.  I used hot-tank bluing to refinish guns for years at a local gunsmithing shop, and I can tell you, it’s a dirty, dangerous process.  One drop of that caustic salt solution at 300 degrees will put a hell of a burn on you. There are lots of environmental issues with cleaner and salt bath disposal; this is why you end up shelling out the big bucks for a professional reblue job.

Also Read: Survival Shotgun – 6 Reasons You Need One

There are other methods, such as rust bluing , fume bluing, and carbona bluing,  that turn out truly beautiful and extremely durable blued finishes, but they are very labor intensive and generally only employed by trained, experienced gunsmiths. There are myriad other finishing options, such as parkerizing, sprayed-on finishes like Duracoat and Cerakote, and nickle plating. However, all of these are out of the reach of run-of-the-mill guys like you and me, as they are either expensive to have done, or expensive to buy the necessary equipment and training to do it ourselves.

Going the Easy Way

So, what does this mean for us if we want to keep our firearms looking snazzy, and keep them protected, yet don’t want to pay the $150+ bill to have a gunsmith refinish our guns?  Well, a quick and easy way to re-finish our steel guns is with cold bluing.  No, it’s not as durable as the other types of bluing, but it has the advantage of being very inexpensive, and relatively easy to apply, even by the novice.  There are couple things to watch out for and attention to pay in certain areas, but there’s no reason why, with a little patience and attention to detail, anyone reading this can’t do it on their own.

What You’ll Need

Aside from the aforementioned patience, there are a few items you’ll need to accumulate. First, a few grades of sandpaper (400 and 600 grit) and/or Scotch-Brite metal finishing pads (maroon colored ones are a good bet) to polish the metal and remove and crust and rust scale. Non-VOC brake cleaner (doesn’t leave a residue as it de-greases) or acetone, to de-grease the metal and generally clean it; #0000 steel wool for burnishing the metal between applications; cotton balls for applying the cold blue (clean cut-up sections of an old t-shirt works well too.), and a good, high-quality gun oil will be needed.

Brownell's Oxpho Blue and our test subject.

Brownell’s Oxpho Blue and our test subject.

Of course, you’ll need cold bluing! I’ve used a couple different types, and both worked well: Birchwood Casey Perma-Blue has been pretty good to me in the past, but I generally go for Keen-Bore Black Magic if I have my druthers. There are other products out there, such as a bunch of other such as Birchwood Casey products, that I’m sure work just as well if they’re more available to you.

Also Read: Tuf Cloth Review for Gun Cleaning

Most of these will come in a liquid form, but some come in cremes or pastes which probably cling a little bit better to the metal and possibly would be a bit easier for the beginner. However, I’ve never found the liquids to be hard to use, so I’ll leave that one up to your discretion.

Getting Started

To kind of have a visual display as to what’s going on when we cold blue, I pulled the butt-plate of my father’s old, beat up Remington Model 14 that has seen many, many days in the woods. The steel butt-plate had some severe crust built up in the horizontal grooves that were in the surface of the plate, plus pretty severe wear, from being shouldered thousands of times, and leaned against trees, or whatever handy field prop was around when the rifle needed to be set down.



Rust and pitting.

Rust and pitting.


First, we need to remove all the old bluing, and any built-up rust and crust.  Any foreign contaminants could possibly ruin our hard work down the road.  To remove these, I usually first use steel wool soaked in gun oil or WD-40 to break down the rust and grime, and get it out of tight spots, the the grooves you see in the butt-plate.  A wire brush, a fine wire wheel on a bench grinder, or any other number of light abrasives that won’t remove a ton of metal when you use them, will work well too; no saying you can’t use combinations of anything you have to get the metal down to just metal.  Once the crud is cut out, you can use 400 grit sandpaper to get the old bluing off. If you find big, deep pits, you might want to look into buffing wheels with polishing compounds to get those out; but for now we’re going to assume that the pits were removed by sandpaper and a little elbow grease. Next, use a higher-grit sandpaper or a green Scotch-brite pad, followed by a maroon Scotch-Brite pad to polish the metal up and make it snazzy. We’re looking to take the the entire surface of the part down to bare metal.

Scotch-brite pads to remove the bluing.

Scotch-brite pads to remove the bluing.

Once everything is cleaned up, you’ll be pretty grubby, but the metal you’re working with should be nice and shiny, bright silver.

Cleaned up nicely!

Cleaned up nicely!

You can still see some light pits on this butt-plate, but I’m personally not really concerned about those; this is a working gun.

The next step is the most important, and as any car painter or gun refinisher will tell you, grease, oil, and silicone are the enemy!  We need to eradicate these from the entire surface of the part you want to re-blue, or you’ll get bleed-through and discolorations that are very tough to work through without starting from scratch.  So, trust me: It’s best to do it right.

I like to start by giving the part(s) a good healthy dose of aerosol brake cleaner to blast all the oil, and any broken loose crap, off the surface of the part. Give ‘er hell; brake cleaner is cheap and it really works. However, it can leave a light, dry residue that also will wreck our bluing job. So, when I can, I also wash the whole part down with acetone and let it air-dry.  Make sure you clean your hands before and after you do this; oil from your skin can and will discolor the parts! While you’re brake-cleaning parts, drench a bunch of your #0000 steel wool and let it air dry. Steel wool comes with a light coating of oil on it to keep it from rusting…and guess what? THAT will mess up your bluing job, too!

Brownell's Oxpho Blue and our test subject.

Dig out the cold blue!

Once everything is super clean, get out your cold blue (whatever form you purchased) and your application cloth or cotton balls. If you have rubber gloves, don them. It’ll keep the bluing solution off your skin, and your skin oils off the parts.

Go ahead and soak a cotton ball or patch with the cold blue solution. Really drench it. (this can be messy; be sure to have a wipe-off rag handy, too!). Then, rub that soaked cotton ball all over your nice, shiny, clean steel part…and watch the magic happen.

Also Read: 5 Steps to Cleaning a Gun

Yep, it turns colors! But it will be splotchy colors. Kinda discouraging. But keep at it; keep running that soaked applicators all over the part, not letting the cold blue solution dry or settle on any one part; this will create darker spots. This isn’t the end of the world, but the more even you can make the application, the easier it will be.

First application.

First application.


You’ll see it doesn’t get super black instantaneously; this will take several “coats”, if you will. It’s VERY IMPORTANT for a nice, clean, even finish that you don’t let the cold blue solution sit on the part for more than one minute or so; it will keep those discolorations in the metal. once you’ve gotten the first application on the metal, take a clean, lint-free cloth and wipe the whole part down, getting the solution off. You can rinse it with water if you want, but I usually shy away from that since the part really isn’t that protected yet.

Next, after drying the part thoroughly, grab your #0000 steel wool and polish that metal you just cold blued. This is called “burnishing” and it helps to really up the quality of the bluing job you do. It looks like it’s taking off the finish you just applied, but go lightly and you’ll soon find a happy medium that looks good and keeps the finish. Clean the part again with acetone, to get any steel wool fragments and any other crud off, and let air dry.

Wet the applicator down again and repeat the process. Wet, dry, burnish, clean. You’ll notice that the more you do this, the “brighter” the polish will be, and the darker the blue will get.

Getting there.

Getting there.


Soon, the finish will be at a level you find pleasing.


It may take a couple hours and all your patience, but eventually, the hard work will pay off. Different tempers and alloys of steel will blue easier or harder; you never really know until you try it. But keep at it, repeating the process, and eventually, the dark blotches will work themselves out, the rest of the metal will even out, and your metal will look great.

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

After the hard work

Once you have the metal to the point you’re happy with it (the above butt-plate took about two hours, beginning to end) you’ll need to protect your hard work.  Be sure to clean any remaining residue off, and then coat it heavily with gun oil.  Let the gun oil work into the pores of the metal – heating the part at low temperature in your oven – say 170 degrees F or so, to expand the metal and open the pores will help, before you apply the oil. The metal will cool, trapping the oil inside and keeping the metal protected. The oil will also help bring the color out a bit, you might notice.

Keep in mind, like I said before: cold bluing is not as durable as standard hot-tank bluing or many of the sprayed-on finishes that are available. However, you can do it yourself, it’s aesthetically very pleasing, and it protects your gun. What’s wrong with any of that? It may not be a SHTF skill per se, but if you use your gun (which is a huge investment) it pays to be able to keep it looking great and protected for when you do need it.

As a side note: Bluing doesn’t HAVE to be just on guns. Anything that’s carbon steel can generally take a nice bluing: hatchet heads, knives…you name it. I have a REALLY snazzy hatchet around here someplace that I blued in a hot bluing tank years ago…and DAMN, does it look good! I’ll have to dig that out someday…

Do any of you do at-home refinishing? Is it a waste of time, or worth your time? Would you try cold-bluing, or does Krylon and Rustoleum take care of what you need in the finish department?

Stay safe!

-Road Warrior

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All photos by Road Warrior

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Gear Review – The Crovel Extreme II

If you’ve never seen the Crovel before it’s an amazing piece of gear that is made in the USA. Basically it’s a military e-tool on steroids with some cool additions.

First, it’s heavier than an e-tool. This can be both good and bad and I’ll come back to this in a moment.

Second, it has some cool additions such as a pry bar and an attachment point where you can add in some serious heavy duty hardware to break concrete, rocks, or whatever needs to be broken.

The blade is sharpened on one side and carries an ok edge out of the box.  It’s heavy and sharp enough that I was able to split some firewood with it without having to sharpen it.  The other side of the blade carries a saw blade.  In reality I’m not sure what this might be good for but hey, you might as well have it in case you need it.  The shovel blade also has a bottle opener, so you won’t have to go looking for one while you’re doing all the hard work you’ll be doing with this beast.  Enjoy that frosty beverage!

Also Read: Trucker’s Friend – a great SHTF Tool

The pry bar comes with a heavy duty nail puller, which would be useful doing demolition work.

Paracord is wrapped tightly down the length of the handle and could be used for just about anything in a survival situation.  The handle is also hollow, which means you could store extra survival gear such as fishing tackle in it if that’s what you were going to be using this tool for.

Don’t think that because it has a hollow handle it will break easy because that’s not the case at all. This is a heavy duty tool.  When I was splitting the wood I put some oomph behind it and it felt just as good as swinging an axe.  It is a little funky with the claw hammer on it though.

I brought it with me to the campground I stay at in the summer crovel extreme ii shovel for survivaltime here in the state of Maine and passed it around to a couple of guys. I said, “Here! Take this tool and try it and tell me what you think of it.” Now these were good-old Maine boys not easily impressed by cheap goods, but the answer they gave me was invariably, “Where can I get one?” after letting them play with it for a few hours.


So how did it perform in real life? I tried a few different tests. First and probably most obvious I dug a small hole. It performed about like a small shovel would be expected to. If anything it did a little better because of its weight. It was easier to thrust into the ground and it didn’t turn in my hand as much as one of the lighter e-tools might. One bonus was that as I would hit tree roots it was easy to cut them with the edge of the Crovel and keep digging.

I turned the head to 90 degrees and dug a small trench without too much effort. Again, the extra weight made it a good solid tool for this type work. It bit into the ground nicely and one thing I actually kind of liked is that the nail puller at the end made a pretty good handle to hold. I expected that feature to get in the way when working with this tool, but for the most part I didn’t mind it too much.

As mentioned earlier, I split some wood with it the first night I had it and it was a satisfactory experience. It wasn’t the same as splitting with an axe of course, but again, it was heavy enough to go through the wood if you really committed to the swing. I’m not expecting to split two cords of wood with it, but it’s nice to know that if it’s all I have it will get the job done. Remember, I didn’t do a thing to the crovel when I got. I used it as is right out of the box.

One of the downsides to this tool was the paracord wrapping.  I know above I said that it’s covered with paracord, but let me explain why I didn’t care for this feature.  I’ve never had good luck with tools wrapped in paracord for some reason. I do have one knife that’s been ok, but generally speaking it doesn’t usually work well for me, which was the case with this tool as well. After using if for about ½ hour the cord handle started to loosen up on me. I was able to twist it back into place, but it slowly started to unravel again and I had to twist it back into place. When I’m using something I just want to be able to pick it up and use it and not worry about babying it for whatever reason.

The Crovel wasn’t meant to be babied. This thing wants to work and can take it. I’m going to wrap the handle in camo duct tape and if that doesn’t work I’ll just take the paracord off altogether and use duct tape on it, or just leave the handle plain metal.

Wrecking Tips

This tool also comes with two tips for smashing through various concrete structures or zombie skulls. They are very sharp and I can see where they’d be useful for smashing through concrete if you were trying to rescue someone in a collapsed building or something like that.

The bottom of the Crovel unscrews and you can screw the pointy wrecking tips right into it. These two spikes are sold separately from the Crovel.  They are called the Z Spike and the Super Spike. There are rubber gaskets lining the tips, so you don’t have to worry about water leaking in and getting your survival items wet while using it.

I wondered how the tips would stand up to some real abuse so I found a flat rock and took the bigger tip and whaled on it a few times. Not so good. The tip flattened out on the end and while it’s WIN_20140817_170109still usable it isn’t as pointy as it once was.



I’ve mentioned the weight a couple of times and yes, it’s heavy.  At 5.5 lbs it will add some weight to your pack.  However, the extra weight does have advantages in some areas, so it’s not all bad.

It comes in a black nylon case that holds the two tips discussed above, but it’s also got a couple of MOLLE straps that allow you to attach it to your pack.

Since the nylon case is there I decided to test it fixed it to my pack to see what happened. I used my everyday hiking pack/GHB for the test. This is a relatively light pack – about 15 lbs – that I keep with me all the time. I attached it to the pack and took it for a walk. It did add to the pack weight of course, but it wasn’t clumsy feeling as I feared it would be. I walked around for a bit, did some squats, climbed over some logs, and some other basic things you’d do in a pack and was surprised that it didn’t slow me down. It looks awkward, but if I gave you the pack to wear and said, “Here’s a 25 lb pack to carry,” you probably wouldn’t realize it had the Crovel hanging off the back unless you looked.

As a matter of fact it did have one advantage that I rather liked: when I sat my pack down it helped keep it upright even though it wasn’t leaned up against something. My pack usually lays down when it’s by itself, but not this time. The Crovel acted kind of like a kick stand to keep it upright.


This is not a tool that you want to carry around with you if you are trying to go light and fast during your bug out.  Words that come to mind are “industrial”, “bad ass,” and “heavy.”   Made in America by quality craftsman, words that do not come to mind when I think of the Crovel Extreme II are “cheap” “flimsy” “light weight”.  The Crovel would be ideal in a base camp situation.  I could see it being used by rescue personnel or maybe even as a firefighter tool.   In a SHTF situation this tool could prove to be extremely useful.

I have it stowed in my truck in the big toolbox.  It’s a great addition and it’s a comfort knowing it’s back there in case I need it.  The paracord handle is a pain.  I’ll probably remove it so it doesn’t slip while I’m swinging it at something.  With my luck I’d cut a toe off with this thing.

The saw blade really isn’t that practical, but if you have the space and it doesn’t add weight then why not?  The teeth are wide and don’t cut that good, but it’s better than nothing.

If you’re looking for a rugged multi-tool then this might very well be the one you’ve been looking for.

Want more?  Here is a video of the Crovel.

Photos by:
Jarhead Survivor

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

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6 Ways To Prepare for Ebola

Ebola.  Even the name is a bit creepy.  The disease itself, is horrifying.   First you get flu like symptoms, then vomiting and diarrhea, then your organs start shutting down and you bleed from all your orifices before dying.


The death rate from this virulent disease is anywhere from 55-90%. Those are not good odds.  Basically, there are no proven cures for this yet.  Some experimental stuff, but who knows how far those will come.  I’m sure there’s not much profit in it for the pharmaceutical companies in a rare disease that hits poverty stricken areas in Africa.  But maybe that’s just my cynical side.

Most survivalists probably have more than a few worries where this disease outbreak is concerned.  What can be done to prepare for a possible exposure?  What can be done to limit one’s chances of dying horribly from it?  Let’s discuss some ways you could prepare.

6 Ways To Prepare for Ebola

1.  Get Necessities:  The incubation period for this virus is 21 days.  In the unlikely event that you find yourself in the middle of an outbreak, you need to be prepared to stay home for 3 weeks, at the very least.  Food, water and medicine, you must have a months worth if you are to avoid contact with others for that length of time.  You need to know the symptoms so that you can accurately gauge who among your house and kin might have the illness.  The World Health Organization has a good factsheet here with details.  And of course, you have to love WebMD.  The same place you go to check your 3 year old’s chicken pox symptoms also has a section on the Ebola virus.  Of course, treating someone in your house through a case of Ebola puts everyone in the house at risk of getting it.  Do you have enough quarantine materials? Enough gloves and masks? Enough courage to face this one knowing you might get it if you’re the one taking care of the patient? Could be a tough decision in real life.

Some Ebola stricken areas cancelled schools and closed markets, quarantining the affected neighborhoods with troops in some cases.  Which leads to the next point.

2. Avoid Quarantine:  Our own American government has much leeway when it comes to “civil disorder.”  I would not put it past them to set up quarantine zones and temporarily detain anyone with so much as a cough.  That’s not to say that this disease spreads in that manner, usually you have to come into close contact with blood or other secretions from a symptomatic Ebola patient in order to catch the virus.  I doubt that will stop the troops from detaining you though and keeping you penned up with other likely sick people.  So don’t give them the opportunity to add you to their collection.

surviving_ebola_how_to_6_ways_to_stop_ebola_outbreak3. Stay home:  I love a good getaway as much as the next gal, but if you keep company with too many world travelers, you put yourself at risk of being the stepping point for the disease as it hops across continents.  And perhaps this should go without saying, but Don’t Go To Africa.  While the outbreak rages, don’t go there.  The disease originates from fruit bats and monkeys native to that continent.  The chances of an outbreak in Idaho or Iowa or Maine, are nill.  (Barring the aforementioned world traveling incubators.)

4. Which Hospitals Welcome Ebola?  Not all hospitals are equipped with the proper isolation and protective gear to handle Ebola patients. The large hospital closest to me has outright said they wouldn’t accept an Ebola patient.  Their plan, such as it is, is to send any that might arrive to the bigger hospital down in Omaha.

6_ways_to_survive_ebola_shtf_pandemic_outbreak5. Get Ready to Play Doctor:  If you suspect your local hospital would not take an Ebola patient, and you want to cover all your bases, you should be prepared to provide supportive treatment for anyone who comes down with it. Re-hydration to combat the vomiting and diarrhea.  Probably preferably intravenously if you have that ability, just because of the vomiting.  And I can’t stress this enough, proper protective gear for anyone that might come in contact with the patient you’re treating at home.

6. Avoid the Big City:  I would love to take in a show on Broadway, maybe after the find a cure for Ebola.  Big cities have international airports with direct flights to and from Africa.  The virus is coming from Africa.  Need I say more?

Also Read: Are You Prepared for Quarantine?

Bottom Line: Hand sanitizer and tissue face mask won’t cut it in this case.  You’d probably want a full body hazmat suit, with a hard plastic face mask.  The truth is, you will probably die this winter from some weird strain of the swine flu, so Ebola is really the least of your concerns in the United States.

Should you be prepping for Ebola? I’d argue no, especially if you’re an American reader who doesn’t travel to Africa.  It can be used as a good thought experiment though, for deciding what to prep for any sort of highly contagious disease outbreak.  So if that’s your aim, go ahead and use Ebola as a test case.  Just don’t lose any sleep over the possibility of an American Ebola outbreak.  I don’t see it happening but if Ebola becomes airborne….stop the clock.

Stay safe out there! Stay healthy. Your best defense is a healthy happy body, so work towards that goal.

Photos by:
International Red Cross

European Commision

- Calamity Jane

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Give me liberty or give me… breath?

Should an American citizen be tear-gassed while standing in his own yard?

By Professor Liberty Mize

Libertarian bridge-builder Rand Paul says no.  In an op-ed penned last week for Time magazine, he uses the situation in St Louis to finally shed light on an issue that the mainstream media has ignored for far too long.

militarization_police_americaThe issue is the militarization of our municipal governments; a systematic injustice of federal overreach that has been going for years under the guise of security.  And as you expected, this multi-billion dollar folly is fully funded by federal dollars.

Homeland Security has no time to shore up our Southern border, but is printing reams of cash to buy and equip assault vehicles to trample the civil liberties of American citizens.

Stated another way, YOUR employees have taken YOUR money to take up arms against YOU.

We’ve all seen the Road Warrior film, but few of us pictured that the post-apocalyptic siege contained within it would be led by fat bureaucrats driving amphibious assault vehicles as they mow down citizens in-between union-mandated naps.

Sadly that scenario is becoming more and more a possibility.  We’ve arrived at a place where the government is so scared of us as to require multi-million dollar weapons to keep us in line.  Couple that with a hair trigger mentality and a sincere lack of understanding about what makes a domestic threat and we are in it deep.

Consider the small town of Washington, Iowa population 7,000 and rambo_survival_knifenow proud owners of a $500,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected troop transport.  A vehicle that could prove handy if racy Southern neighbor Burlington ever invades.  Seriously though, what could a land-locked s-hole of a nothing town need with this vehicle?  I doubt John Rambo will be holing up in the nearby Port Louisa Wildlife Refuge anytime soon.

The fact is that Barney Fife was a harmless yet effective deputy sheriff while keeping his lone bullet lodged in his breast pocket.  Can you imagine what he would have done with an RPG?   I’m glad we never found out.  Sadly the next generation (none of whom know who Barney Fife is) won’t be so lucky.

Perhaps most disappointing about the entire issue is where the true story was broken.  I’d argue that it says all you need to know about the state of our republic that Time Magazine has become our beacon of liberty.

Atlas has shrugged and St Louis has burned, it seems like the Constitution might be next.

- Prof Mize

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Summer Camp Mentality

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTF

A Bug Out is not going to be the equivalent of a vaca to summer camp.  Forget the white sands, the water slides, the picnic BBQs, golf, snow skiing, bonfire marshmallow roasts, shopping antiques in the quaint downtown area with a quiche lunch at the Bistro, or whatever else comprises your idea of a getaway vacation.  This “ain’t” it.Nikon Digitals 080

Escape from your relatively safe and comfortable home to any kind of a secondary domicile be it a farmhouse out in the country or a pup tent a mile from roads in a federal forest is not going to be time off to rest and relax.  Now is the time to work on the mindset of just how serious and difficult living under such conditions is going to be if the SHTF lasts any length of time at all.  It only gets harder as the days bear on.

If you want any idea of how tough this could be, then watch the television series Mountain MenIn particular watch the profiled life of one Marty Meierotto who flies his Piper Super Cub bush plane into the dire wilds of Alaska to trap fur for family income.  Talk about living on the rough side.Nikon Digitals 261

Now, your SHTF might not be this tough, but just consider living without electricity, running water, a flushing commode, central heat and air, on demand stove and oven, plush bed mattresses, and living room furniture with flat screen television and TiVo®.  The fully stocked local grocery store is just a mile away with fresh bread and cold milk everyday not to mention fresh cut meat ready to cook, and frozen foods of all kinds, cheese, snacks, and well you get the point.

Opportunities to Practice

You know the cliché.  But it just happens to be true.  Although in one exception I know of, I never, ever got better at golf no matter how many times I circled the 18 holes.  But in prep for a Bug Out nothing will ever beat being able to practice everything in advance.  Call it a practice run or whatever, but if you are not accomplished at the mission of an on-call pack up and escape, then you need to schedule trying it several times before you have to do it.Canon Digitals 226

If you are not seriously ready to execute a Bug Out, then I can only think your best position is to stick it out at home or work.  At least you know that environment.  If you think you’re going to just throw a couple sleeping bags in the car with a box of pastry tarts, then you might as well give up before you go.

Reality is as well, you really can’t even be expected to practice any realistic Bugging Out skills until you have everything ready to go.  Sure, you can slump off on a few things during these practice sessions, but not much.  You need the time in the field to be as realistic as it can get.  You are testing not only all your gear and its use under real conditions (will I eat tonight?) but you’re also equally testing the skills you and your family have to be successful.

These practice events can be fun.  It can be planned as an adventure away for a weekend from the hum-drum aspects of life, but stage it as if it could be the real Bug Out scenario.  First trips could be to locate or try out some remote sites, or to set up and live out a weekend in an acceptable area.  At least you get to make some dry runs.

Ready to Pack Out

As mentioned and to be redundant, you can’t Bug Out if you don’t have everything ready to Bug Out with.  Many of you preppers will obviously be way beyond this stage, but others may not be.  For some including me initially it can be difficult to get your mind and body around everything that needs to be done to prepare for an exit strategy.

As a friend of mine says, “It’s all part of the experience.”  I would add that it’s all part of the process, too.  There is no need to break out in a sweat over all this, but having said that it is still time to get engaged if you are the least bit prepper serious.

You can study our and the  sites to garner all the prep information and advice you could possibly want to digest.  Articles and blogs here will guide you through the whole process or help you hone skills and prep you have already Tony's cabin #2accomplished.  It’s an on-going never ending process.  It may be a long path, but you have to take the first step.

Trails and Trials

The whole purpose here is to encourage all preppers who are not already fully engaged in the execution of their plans to initiate moving forward.  These Bug Out practice trips are the ideal time to test skills, equipment, gear, and to honestly assess the whole process.  This can be done solo, with a family unit, or an entire SHTF team.  Practice the way your plan is established.

If you are camping, then test your camping equipment.  How fast can you get a camp site cleared out set up, tent assembled, cooking arrangements set, water set up, firewood gathered (if you have one), a meal started, kids settled, older adults settled, job tasks assigned, gas lanterns working, security established, defense weapons ready to go and everything else?Canon Digitals 152

Test your personal gear.  How did that new pair of hunting/hiking boots feel on the walk in?  Ditto for the backpack, weapons sling, machete, knife, compass, and such.  Now that you’ve worn those new socks, cargo shorts, boonie hat, work gloves, etc., is everything working right.  What might you change?  Ask others similar evaluations of their gear and stuff.  Take notes if you have to.

How did that first night away from home work out?  Did a piece of equipment fail or not work as you had hoped?  Was there enough to eat, enough to occupy your mind, did you enjoy the experience?  How did the wife and kids do, or the husband.  Face it, some people are just not cut out to be in the wilds.  No shame in that for sure, but now is the time to find out how compatible you are with a SHTF Bug Out.

No, it is definitely not like going to summer camp, the Holiday Inn, or even those rustic cabins at the state park.  After a couple trips, maybe you will need to reassess some aspects of your plan.  If camping out did not work for you and your family, then start thinking other options such as a camping trailer or leasing a rural place with a small house or cabin.  Maybe there is a generator and a water well.  These are possibilities.  As they say though, get with the program.

All photos by Dr. John J. Woods

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Do You Really Need An AR-15 When TSHTF?

There are two groups of people reading this:  those that think you’ll need an AR-15 or two and those that think one is totally unnecessary.

Let’s explore some scenarios. Maybe some thinking along different lines will help you to make your own decision.

Model 116A PWS AR15

Model 116A PWS AR15


Scenario One

Let’s first operate under the idea that things have really gone to hell. If your thinking falls into this scenario you just might want that semi-automatic handyman by your side. Some of our favorite standby end of the world scenarios are a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) or maybe a terrorist attack that brings the grid down. Maybe it’s a natural disaster that makes your area an island unto itself.  Or possibly a currency collapse as Chris Martenson loves to talk about.

It’s a grid down, TEOTWAWKI world and all you have standing between you and the bad guys is your trusty AR-15 and a few thousand rounds of .223.  In this scenario the more hardware you have the better off you’re going to be.  If legions of crazy people are trying to overrun your compound, it’s unlikely that standing out in front giving the peace sign will turn them away.  Desperate people will do anything – anything – if they think it will help them or their family in a desperate situation.

Bad guy shooting at you.

Bad guy shooting at you.

But they didn’t prep and shouldn’t go after those that did?  Haha!  Everybody will be going after those that have food, gear, and water after it hits the fan, folks.  If you have shelter, water, food and equipment you will become a person of interest to those that haven’t.

You have the right to protect it.  Especially if it’s all you have to keep you alive.  You thought ahead.  You prepped for it.  You deserve to protect it for your use.

In this scenario you should have a good rifle or three.  Do you need an AR-15?  Only you can answer that, but I’ll tell you I feel a lot better with one than when I didn’t have one.  Honestly, any good semi-automatic rifle will probably suffice.

There are several things I like about the AR.  First, I was trained on the M16 and it’s where I have 90% of my experience.  I can still take the bolt apart in my sleep and put it back together again.  Plus it’s so prolific that even after ammo gets hard to find you should still be able to barter for it.  (You do have stuff to barter don’t you?)  It might be expensive, but I suspect it will be well worth it after TEOTWAWKI.

There are other good guns out there that you might want of course:  a good hand gun, a shotgun, maybe a good .30-06 hunting rifle (which could double as a good sniper rifle), a .22 for hunting small game.  You get the idea.

In this situation more is better and an AR15 would definitely be a great addition to your armory.

Sweet security.

Sweet security.

Scenario 2

In this scenario things have gone south over a period of time.  Infrastructure is weak, but still in place.  The markets crashed, but money still works.  Barter definitely happens in the market places and there are many more homeless people than there were before things started their downhill slide, but there is still law and order, or at least a semblance of it.

People are hungry, but not starving.  The government is handing out more food than ever to the hungry masses, but it’s never enough.  The rich are still rich and the poor are still poor, but the middle class has disintegrated and there are more discontented people than ever.

The government crackdown on weapons makes owning an AR15 risky and using one even in self defense is considered a crime.

In this scenario an AR might not be such a good choice.  It’s possible to possess one – just don’t get caught with it or you’ll wind up in a FEMA camp making little ones out of big ones for the greater good of the government.

In this case a bow and arrow or even a sling shot might be a better choice.  If there was a harsh enough punishment meted out for owning a gun then most people probably wouldn’t take the risk, but like the saying goes, “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.”0712140928a

Living in the country would be different than living in a city.  You’re likely to be more of an open target to people who have nothing to lose by attacking your compound.   Assume you have to live behind walls or barricades and the need for a weapon in this situation would be obvious.  If a gang attacks with guns you’d better have something better than bows and slingshots to drive them away with.

In the city during a time like this an AR might not be the best choice.  A small handgun or even a knife for that up close and personal action –  you know:  swift, silent and deadly, might be a good way to go.

If you have the skills that is.  Are your knife fighting skills up to snuff?

 So Do I Need One or What?

Obviously these scenarios are just that.  Nobody knows how things will go down and the only thing you can do is keep on doing what you’re doing.  Prepare.

If you’re thinking the world will be a whole lot worse than Scenario One by all means, spend the money and get yourself a good weapon (or weapons) to defend yourself with.  Plan for that Mad Max event and go for it.

On the other hand, if you think it won’t get that violent and people will come together like a band of brothers then don’t buy one.

However, just because you own a good gun don’t think the government can’t or won’t take it at the beginning of an emergency.  Watch this video:

Ultimately you’ll need to make your own decision. Go through the scenarios likely to happen in your area and then prepare for that situation.

Keep in mind the above video, though.  Don’t think the government won’t run roughshod on your rights.  If they think it’s in the public’s “best interest” they’ll take your guns and good luck ever getting them back.  You might want to have some kind of back up protection just in case.  A good fence and good home defense, a guard dog, bow and arrows, a Trucker’s Friend,  whatever, anything is better than nothing.IMG_1766

As unlikely as it may seem, if we ever do devolve to a Mad Max or The Road type post apocalyptic world you’ll want to have back up weapons anyway.  The bullets are only going to last so long and then that sweet AR-15 will be a club.

Final Word

If, like me, you fall into the camp that think an AR-15 would be a useful tool to have around after TEOTWAWKI then now is the time to get one if you haven’t already.

If you don’t like the AR platform then this would be the time to go after the gun you *do* like.

I think that if you’re reading this blog you’re not the kind of people who are going to wait around for the government to take care of them.  If you do think that it’s unlikely you’ll last long in a real long lasting SHTF event.

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

Weapons Security – Bug In Or Bug-Out

Dr. John J. Woods    Contributing Author to SHTF Blog

If you own firearms, you certainly want to keep them safe and secure. However, if you are a prepper you need to be particularly concerned about firearms being secure both at home before or during a Bug In.gunsafe3

For an executed Bug Out there is an equal need for in-transit security procedures as well. But then especially during a Bug Out escape and in event of either a short term or prolonged hideout escape scenario, steps need to be planned and followed to make sure you maintain control of your firearms, ammo, and related gear.

The balance of security has to be a fine line between keeping firearms locked up from internal prying little hands and eyes, or unauthorized adults pilfering around the house and the requirement to access them quickly when the immediate need arises.

Following a real life practical plan a prepper friend of mine uses, let’s consider some thoughts, tips, and advice for implementing a fairly comprehensive firearms security plan as part of an over all prepper strategy. Surely we won’t cover all the potential bases, so consider this just an initial starting place in any plan you develop.

Bug In Security

    A home firearms security plan is what I would classify as a no-brainer whether you are a survival prepper or not. Let’s not be party to contributing to another home bound firearms accidental shooting where a kid or somebody else got a hold of an unsecured gun and shot somebody. These events often end in dire results.

Case in point I have secretary at work whose son was involved in an accidental discharge of an unlocked firearm at home and he is now paralyzed from the mid-chest down. He will probably never walk again at the age of 18. Sad for certain, but really I think this is more along the blatant lines of plain ole stupid on the part of the kid and his parents. Everybody needs to guard against such occurrences.

Home security can be accomplished as simply as applying the firearms lock straps that many manufacturers are now including with every factory boxed gun. These can be bought separately for older guns. Other manufacturers like Ruger for example are including specialized gun locks that when in place are very difficult if not impossible to defeat.Gunlocks2

The primary downside to such cable or action locks is that they are key operated. This means of course, that the keys have to be in a place of easy availability. Each gun then may also likely have separate type locks that will have separate keys. This could get quite complicated if speed of access is a consideration. A system would have to be concocted to deal with this. Perhaps some kind of color coded tags?

And of course, the guns would still need to be secured or otherwise

If, and this is a big IF, the guns are only needed during an actual Bug In or Bug Out event, then the weapons can be secured more safely in a gun safe. This does not have to be a Brinks Security walk in bank safe, but anything from a common business steel supply cabinet to a full-fledged gun safe made specifically to lock guns up.hidden from plain sight. If the guns are locked individually, I could see putting them say on top of a closet shelf, but being locked up would be better. Guns could be stolen and the cable type locks could easily be cut off. A key lock door knob could also be put on a closet door as one mode to deter unauthorized access. However, easy access has got to be the big issue here.


There are some very nice, well made, and highly secure sheet steel gun safes made by Stack-On that are quite affordable. They make many different sizes and configurations. These can and should be bolted to the wall studs or to the floor or both for added security. Stack-On gun security cabinets are key locked but some of the more upper end models will have advanced locking systems.

Of course full sized, heavy duty, channel steel, welded gun safes are made by many companies including Redhead at Bass Pro Shops,

Browning, Winchester, Cannon, and others. Some are even fire proof rated. Such safes can cost upwards of $2000 and more, but this is the ultimate in gun security. Their locks are usually electronic coded push buttons, or turn dial combination locks.

If there is an issue of having say one handgun easily accessible in the house, then there are also single gun lock up cabinets that function on finger press combination sequences. In the event of a break in or other disturbance the gun owner can quickly press a hand on the lock mechanism and easily withdraw a loaded gun.

There are many options available to keep guns locked and safe at the house. We just urge that you include such thinking in the overall development of your prepping guns security plan. Make sure the appropriate adults in the family also know the system and the plan. You may think that loaded shotgun leaning against the bedroom wall is a good idea, but be prepared to suffer the consequences if an accident occurs.



    Remember, too, that according to traditional gun safety training, ammo should be stored and locked in a completely separate location. I’ll let you work this out to suit your plans and depth of security arrangements. Guns only work when they are loaded, so work out a system to keep magazines close by or in the gun perhaps with an empty chamber.

In Route Weapons Security

    Keeping guns safe and secure during a Bug Out can be much more problematic. First there is the issue of maintaining control and access during the transportation phase from the main house to the Bug Out location. This may be coming out of a big city or suburb headed to the rural wilds, or leaving at night from home to a house or cabin in the country. It could be going from a rental apartment in a big complex to a wall tent in a national forest somewhere.

During vehicle travel in a Bug Out you are going to want your defensive firearm(s) at the ready. I have tried many different ways to do this and have not until recently been too comfortable with any of them.

If you can name all these guns, you get a prize.

Belt holsters don’t work well for the most part unless it is a cross draw rig especially for a right-handed shooter in the driver’s seat. The side door compartment to the left of the driver seat can be OK, but sometimes there is a tight squeeze between it and the seat. Ditto the same situation between the driver seat and the center console. If there is no console then the handgun could be simply set down on the floor as a compromise. In either situation I recommend you practice drawing your gun from these locations in a vehicle.

I found the best case scenario for a quick weapons holster mount under the steering wheel using a Gun Creek Customs (.com) vehicle gun mount. This positions a nylon handgun holster right under the steering column for a quick, rather unobtrusive draw. Their mounts can attach either to the gaps in the under dash molding or using a strap fixture to wrap around the column. The holster is held secure for a positive handgun withdrawal.

Whatever you do in terms of in vehicle weapons security and deployment, be sure to practice it live even without having to fire out a window or door. Moving from an unarmed condition to a ready position is the key.

I have seen it suggested using a SBR (short barreled rifle) or a shotgun from inside a car, but I have never seen it work in real practice. A long gun is simply too wieldy to get to a ready position from inside a vehicle. If you anticipate a stoppage or event up the roadway, then getting to the ready inside an open door could be done using the door as a shield. Practice this, too.

Firearms Security in the Field

Naturally I favor permanent structures for a Bug Out location over a camping tent. An RV hard sided trailer would be better than a thin fabric Alpine tent in terms of security for both firearms as well as inhabitants. But use what you have and plan accordingly for all contingencies.

Again access is the most important element as well as guarding against unauthorized tampering in your absence. Out in the wilds either camping or living in an alternative home or cabin many preppers likely intend to keep a firearm on their side or a long gun nearby. I guess it all depends on the relative threat in your area.

For security in a hard structure see section above again for Bug In conditions in terms of weapons security. If you don’t have a hardened dwelling or a sturdy out building, storage shed or something similar, then you have to work on a plan to secure and protect valuable weapons and supplies from unwanted access and the outdoor environmental elements.

There are some portable carry, lockable, metal gun cases like safari cases that can yield a measure of security out in the field. Just work out a way to keep these covered and protected from rain, snow, and such. Few things foul up firearms quicker than moisture. Just keeping them in the back of a contained vehicle might be an option. Lying on the floor of a tent might not be.

Individual firearms could be cable locked as suggested for Bug In conditions when these tools are not in immediate need of use. Survival vaults, tubes, or containers that could be buried, or just hidden nearby could be another option. These need to be waterproof and sealable from outside contamination.

As one might well imagine, this discussion is endless. Everybody’s situation is different, but if you have weapons in the mix, then security and protection of these value assets is essential. Just put it down on your “to do list” to work on a strategy to secure weapons for a Bug In or a Bug Out option.

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SHTF Armorer: The AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

Whether you like it or not, you have to admit that the AR-15 is the rifle of choice for the majority of preppers nationwide. It’s adaptable, it’s easy to handle, easy to shoot well, and the sheer numbers of them out there mean that any prepper undermost circumstances should probably have one in his arsenal.

If you DO have one, you should know how to work on it.  You may love yours to bits; you lovingly selected every part, widget, accessory, and optic on your AR. But if the balloon goes up and yours breaks, you can’t exactly roll down to the local gun shop and expect the gunsmith to fix your problem while you wait. You may find a parts gun in an abandoned police cruiser or National Guard armory that will work on your gun (most are Mil-Spec and therefore mostly interchangeable)…but who’s going to work on it? Guess what, buddy: you are. Luckily, the AR platform is pretty easy to work on.

I keep a smattering of easily-replaced (read: field-replaceable with little or no tools) parts in the Magpul ACS stock compartments of my go-to rifle, along with a cut-down 1/16″ punch, which lets me work on most of my AR with maybe a convenient rock utilized as a hammer. But those parts and punch are useless without knowledge.

What’s that? You have an AR as your go-to SHTF rifle and you can field strip it, but really not much else? Well, let’s start fixing that problem. And we’re going to start the process with learning about the most crucial element of the AR-15/M4 system: The Bolt Carrier Group, or BCG.

First, we’re going to assume that you can remove your bolt and charging handle from the gun in the normal field-stripping procedure.  Do so. You’re going to need a couple specific things, one of them being a 1/16″ or 3/32″ drift punch…this should be relatively easy to come by at your local hardware store. Make sure you get a good hardened one; cheap ones bend and snap very easily. A small hammer will probably be needed, as well as a few cleaning patches, a bunch of Q-tips, some gun cleaning solvent, a light, high-quality gun oil, and a small scraping tool (I use a jeweler’s screwdriver.) A dedicated AR-15 multi-tool is a godsend; I heartily recommend one! Let’s get started.


First, we’re going to pull out the Firing Pin Retaining Pin. This is a small, cotter pin-like affair that is recessed into the side of the bolt. Using a punch, pry it out.

Firing Pin Retaining Pin (shown partially removed)

Firing Pin Retaining Pin (shown partially removed)

A word about this pin: it is a hardened pin; if it breaks somehow, you’ll need to get another AR-15 specific pin. Just going to NAPA and getting a cotter pin won’t work. Those are soft, malleable metal and will break very quickly. Firing Pin Retaining Pins are cheap, so there’s no reason not to buy a few of these expendable parts and have extras.

Firing Pin Retaining Pin removed.

Firing Pin Retaining Pin removed.


This pin, as the name suggests, retains the firing pin in the bolt housing. Removing it allows us to pop out the firing pin, which, depending on your level of gunkiness, may drop right out, or need to be pried out.

Firing Pin partially removed from bolt.

Firing Pin partially removed from bolt.


Next, we’ll get the bolt proper out of the carrier. To do so, we need to pull out the Bolt Cam Pin. Push the bolt head backwards into the body of the carrier (you’ll see it moves back and forth), and once it’s fully in, the cam pin can be turned 90 degrees in either direction.

I'm grasping the bolt in this photo; it needs to be pushed into the body of the carrier to remove the cam pin.


Here , the cam pin (the rectangular piece) is rotated 90 degrees. Pry straight out to remove.

Here , the cam pin (the rectangular piece) is rotated 90 degrees. Pry straight out to remove.


Once the cam pin is rotated 90 degrees, pull it straight out of the bolt carrier body. It should come out easily.

Bolt Cam Pin removed.

Bolt Cam Pin removed.


Once the Cam Pin is out, the bolt can be pulled from the carrier body. If your gas rings are fresh, the bolt may come out a little tightly, but it should pop out with no real problems.

Bolt and cam pin removed from carrier.

Bolt and cam pin removed from carrier.


To disassemble the bolt, there are two pins we need to remove. Grab your trusty pin punch, and drive out this pin to remove the extractor. Be careful: the extractor does have some spring tension behind it, so keep your thumb on it to keep from launching things.


Remove the extractor slowly, watching the spring tension, and set aside. We’ll get back to that in a second.

Next is the ejector. I usually don’t pull out the ejector on routine tear-downs, but it’s easy to do. Drift out the tiny roll pin indicated below (keeping your thumb over the ejector! Serious spring tension here!) and pull the ejector and its spring out of the front of the bolt. Take note of the orientation: There is a notch in the ejector for the pin, and it needs to go back in the same direction it came out so things will work properly.

This small hole is where the ejector retaining pin lives.

This small hole is where the ejector retaining pin lives.

I also don’t pull the gas rings off – there are three of them; you can see them as a slim silver band towards the rear of the bolt body in the picture below. If you need to remove them, use a dental pick or something similar to pry them out of the groove, then peel them out one by one. These rarely need to be replaced unless the rifle is seriously malfunctioning, so I leave them alone generally.

The gas rings are the silver band. Leave 'em alone unless you're sure they are the problem.

The gas rings are the silver band. Leave ‘em alone unless you’re sure they are causing a problem or they are worn.


The extractor houses a couple extra parts: the extractor spring, the extractor spring buffer that resides inside the extractor spring, and usually a rubber O- or D-shaped ring that sits around the extractor spring. This O-ring really helps the extractor spring out in the power department, and it’s easily retrofitted if yours doesn’t have one. The Extra Power upgrade kit is, once again, very inexpensive, and cheap insurance against failures to extract. Grab a couple and keep a spare.

The extractor assembly as it comes out of the bolt.

The extractor assembly as it comes out of the bolt. Note the rubber extra power ring.

From top to bottom: Extractor, extractor spring with buffer inside, rubber O-ring

From top to bottom: Extractor, extractor spring with buffer inside, rubber O-ring


Another item, the last part of the bolt, is on the carrier body, and it’s called the Bolt Carrier Key. It’s held in by two cap screws that are heavily staked in. You can see it in the first photo of this article, where the Firing Pin Retaining Pin is partially pulled out. This key allows gas into the bolt, and it must be sealed strongly on the bolt. Make sure it is secure on the bolt carrier and that you can’t see daylight between the bolt carrier body and the key. If you can, it’s letting action gas be wasted, and needs to be replaced. But if it’s not wiggling and if you can’t see daylight under it, leave it alone.



There are a few words to be said about properly cleaning an AR bolt. As a direct gas impingement system, hot gases and carbon from the cartridge firing are directed right into the body of the bolt, and as such, it gets very dirty very quickly. With all the crud being subjected to lots of cycles and lots of heat, it quickly builds up and hardens inside the bolt. If not properly cleaned, it builds up to the point where the firing pin won’t work properly, or the bolt won’t go fully into battery, amongst other things. So therefore, it is imperative we do a little bit of extra maintenance inside the bolt while it’s apart. Gas piston AR guys don’t have to worry as much about carbon buildup, but it’s still important to keep the innards of your AR bolt carrier group properly clean.

Let’s start with that extractor. The groove in the underside of it catches the rim of your case and pulls it out of the chamber. If that groove has crud built up in it, the extractor cannot properly grasp the rim of your expended cartridge, and you will have a failure to extract, probably followed by the next round from the magazine being fed into the back of the case that didn’t extract. And that, my friends, is a whole lot of suck.

We can prevent that from happening by simply cleaning the extractor groove. Take a small screwdriver, a toothpick, dental pick, whatever – and scrape the gunk out. Use a Q-tip with powder solvent (such as my old friend, Hoppes #9) to break things loose if it’s really built up.

The pointer shows the extractor groove. Clean that baby right up!

The pointer shows the extractor groove. Clean that baby right up!

Use a Q-tip or two and clean out the extractor cutout in the bolt body for good measure. I will put a very, VERY light coat of oil or none at all in the extractor cutout. Oil attracts dirt and grime, and dirt and grime will impede the extractor from properly actuating in its cutout. I do, however, put a drop of oil in the hole the retaining pin goes through, so it will pivot freely when assembled.


The gas rings are the silver band. Leave 'em alone unless you're sure they are the problem.

Use a small screwdriver or scraper tool to remove hardened carbon around the bolt here.


When cleaning the bolt, you need to get all the built-up hardened carbon off the “tail” of the bolt, as shown above. I soak it down with Hoppes # 9 or a cleaning patch, then scrape it away with a small screwdriver. This is one of the important areas on an AR bolt: if this is allowed to build up with carbon, it will eventually impede backwards progress of the bolt in the carrier body, and the gun will not function. Use a Q-tip and clean out the hole for the Bolt Cam Pin, and all the locking lugs on the head of the bolt. Clean the bolt face as well.


Make sure this end of the bolt head is nice and clean as well.  (Yes, I know the BCG is assembled.)

Make sure this area gets an extra helping of clean.

Make sure this area gets an extra helping of clean.

When cleaning the firing pin, make sure all the carbon is cleaned off of it. Again, if it’s loaded up with grime, it doesn’t free-travel inside the bolt and the gun will not function.

Desired results.

Desired results.


When cleaning the Carrier, pay special attention to the areas inside. Carbon builds up like crazy inside of the carrier, and it all needs to get out. I soak this puppy with Hoppes for a few minutes, scrape it with a screwdriver, and usually blast it right out with Gun Scrubber or non-VOC brake cleaner.

Be sure to clean the bejeezus out of the inside of the carrier.

Be sure to clean the bejeezus out of the inside of the carrier.

Use a Q-tip to clean inside the gas key.

Use a Q-tip to clean inside the gas key.


I make sure the bolt is nice and dry, with no cleaning solvent residue anywhere, inside or out. I will usually heat the big parts (bolt and carrier) up inside my oven (don’t tell my wife) at about 170 degrees to open the metal’s pores up, then I’ll use Militec-1 or FrogLube or a similar metal-penetrating lube oil lightly on these parts, inside and out. I let them cool completely to close the pores, then thoroughly dry off the excess, with just a light coating of lube on the outsides of the parts. The main thing is not to leave enough lube on the parts to attract dirt, sand, etc., but to have enough for the parts to not wear as they actuate, nor corrode if they sit for a while. I put a drop of high-quality gun lube (like the aforementioned Militec-1) on the Bolt Cam Pin as well. I like to leave the firing pin clean and dry, with no lube on it to attract anything that will impede its moving freely.


The bolt is kind of a reassemble-in-reverse-order setup. Install the ejector (if you pulled it), then the extractor and its spring, buffer and O-ring. Put the bolt back into the bolt carrier, making sure the extractor will be facing the ejection port of the rifle once it is installed. This is important for the function of the rifle. If the bolt head is in 180 degrees off, the ejector will punch the fired cases back INTO the rifle instead of out of the ejection port. We don’t want this, for obvious reasons.

Note the orientation of the ejector and extractor - this is the correct setup for a standard right-handed gun. (not a left-handed Stag, for instance)

Note the orientation of the ejector and extractor – this is the correct setup for a standard right-handed gun. (not a left-handed Stag, for instance)

Insert the Bolt Cam Pin as you took it out, rotate it 90 degrees so it will clear under the gas key, and then install the firing pin into the back of the bolt. Make sure it slides back and forth freely, then install the Firing Pin Retaining Pin in the side of the bolt.

The bolt should slide back and forth, and rotate freely in the carrier, with some resistance. To test if the gas rings are good, extend the bolt fully out of the carrier, then set the bolt down on a table or flat surface. Gravity should not let the bolt carrier slide down on the bolt; it should stay fully extended. If it does slide down, it’s time to replace the gas rings on the bolt body.

Test the gas rings by putting the boly face-down when fully extended.

Test the gas rings by putting the bolt face-down when fully extended.


That’s about it! Re-install the bolt and charging handle in your rifle, and make sure everything functions as it should. Then go shoot the hell out of it and get some training!


Questions? Comments?  Anything else you’d like to know about the AR platform in an article? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

Stay safe!


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The Weakest Link

Today I’d like to talk about our dependence on electricity.  

We are ingrained from birth in how to use all things electronic.

light post

We take for granted that when we open the fridge it’ll be cold, or when we turn on the coffee maker we’re going to get hot coffee.  When we flip on the light we’ll be able to see when it’s dark outside.  It’s always worked, right?

How many of you have ever been in the middle of a blackout and walked into the bathroom and tried to flip on the light?  For just that brief second you’re like, “What the…?” even though you know  the power is out.  Then you feel a little silly, smile to yourself and continue on.  I’ve done it even when I was carrying a flashlight!

Electricity is the lifeblood of all our fancy doohickeys.  I’m writing this on a Microsoft Surface connected to the internet by tethering to my cell phone in the middle of a campground.  If the power suddenly went out I’d be on the ‘net for another couple of hours until the batteries on my personal electronics died out.  Then – gadget wise – I’d be back in the stone age… or at least the eighties.  (I ain’t knocking the 80’s – I had fun then.)

Read our Grid Down Scenario (Click Here)

But it wasn’t always that way.  Not too long ago people didn’t have electricity.  Hard to believe isn’t it?  Things change so fast and technology moves forward at dizzying speed.  Smart phones keep getting smarter and computers keep getting smaller.  Have you looked around lately at the people immersed in their own little electronic worlds using their cell phones or tablets as gateways?  Or seen how traffic accidents have increased because of distracted driving?

People are getting more and more dependent on electronics and moving further away from the things our parents and grandparents knew:  you don’t need electricity in order to survive… or even to have a good life.  I’ve heard many people over the years say, “I’d just kill myself if doomsday happened and we didn’t have power.”  Wow!  What a sign of the times!  People would rather die than not have electricity.  If that isn’t dependence I don’t know what is.

As crazy as this sounds to most of you reading this it’s something I’ve heard repeated again and again.  The question is if push came to shove and our supply of electricity was knocked out would they really not want to live or would they reach deep down and try to survive?

The Weakest Link

Thus the weakest link in the equation of American’s daily lives is our dependence on electricity.  It’s not like it’s an addiction, it’s what gives us the creature comforts we have to come to expect as part of our every day life.  It allows us to operate our civilization, to govern it and feed it and entertain it.  Think “Just In Time System” and it should make you worried.

If we lost our ability to make electricity it would be harder on our society today than it would have on our grandparents or great grandparents.  My father grew up for years without electricity.  I remember going to his house in Canada when I was very young and there were no electric lights, no plumbing,  and the house was heated by a wood stove.

Try running that by the princess/prince next door and see how it flies!

What can we do about it?  How do we guard against it?  It should be obvious at some point that someone will get the bright idea to bring the grid down.  Or maybe we’ll truly get that CME everybody’s been talking about for years, or possibly it will fail due to a lack of infrastructure  or a terrorist  attack.   Or possibly it’ll be  an attack mounted  by hackers, who knows?

One thing for sure is that when it does go down there are going to be a lot of unprepared folks out there wishing they had a way to keep their food cold, or to see at night, or to communicate or entertain themselves.lightpost5

There have been many blog posts written describing with authority what will happen if and when the grid goes down.  I think the only thing that can be said with authority is that no really knows what will happen.  A lot of it depends on where you’re located.  It’ll probably be different in the city than it is the country or the suburbs.  Maybe it will get violent.  Maybe it won’t.

Another determination on how far down the rabbit hole we go is how long it lasts.  If it’s a few days we might get away with minimal damage, but if it drags on for a week or more we – as a civilization – could be in big trouble.


What can we do to protect ourselves?  Probably not much as an entire society, but as individuals we can take action.  Or maybe a small community could take the initiative and find a way to cut back their electrical dependence and produce their own electricity using hydro power, windmills, solar, or a combination of all three.

At one point I considered going all solar.  After looking into it at the time it was very costly and I didn’t have the money for it.

Recently I bought a camper and it has a 12 volt system.  It wouldn’t take much to convert one over to an all solar powered system.  The idea is to cut down power usage as much as possible and then provide the electricity for whatever systems remain.  A camper can be set up to run off a few solar panels and a couple of batteries for a good long time.

A house that has been converted to solar would of course be a great solution as well.  While costly to set up it would keep you and your family in the creature comforts for years.

If the power goes out you won’t be able to get gasoline and propane – at least in my area – without a major hassle.  And the price is sure to be exorbitant for what supply there is – unless the government steps in and institutes a rationing system.

Having the ability to generate your own electricity will give you some of the luxuries and hopefully enough of the necessities to survive.

Or maybe you could homestead it. There are a lot of folks who do modern homesteading, which means living close to what our ancestors did many years ago.  Grow you own food, raise your animals, keep chickens for eggs.  You could run everything off oil lamps and wood stoves.  Then if the power went you wouldn’t be as affected as others with no idea on how to live without electricity.

One thing for sure is you don’t want to leave your well being in the hands of others if you can help it.  Even a small solar generator would be useful for running lights a few small appliances.

Are you prepared for a grid down situation?

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

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The Psychology Of Solitude

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to

When my wife and child leave for the weekend to visit her sister, I am not guilt laden about feeling a special sense of relief and freedom. The house is quiet. I can watch the TV shows I want, eat what I want, go out to places I might not normally get to go to including a gun store or two, big box bookstore or a restaurant.

I can writejohn-woods in peace and quiet with my buddy dog Molly at my feet. I can stay up late, go outside, smoke a cigar, and drink a bottle of wine. What’s wrong with that? Surely after 60 plus years of life and hard work I deserve that? Is there an issue with a little “me” time?

Funny thing is though, after about two days of being relatively alone, it starts to eat at me.  Maybe the house is too quiet, too lonely.  Do I really miss my wife yelling commands to my daughter?  Do I start to talk to myself and ask questions to which no answers come back?  Is the junk mail really starting to interest me that much?  Isn’t it a bit unusual to flag down a neighbor (that I might not particularly like or have anything in common with) just to have some direct human contact and conservation?  I have friends out there, but they are busy elsewhere or with their own families and lives.  Is this what solitude is all about? And do I really like it?

It should make one stop to think who is actively involved in the prepping process for any type of SHTF black cloud that might form on the horizon. Can I go it alone, if I have to? If I have even minor issues with living by myself for a few days, what would my psyche be like after a week, a month or longer? Regardless of whether I Bug Out or Bug In if the plan puts me in a position of going solo, is that really the best case scenario if I am human dependent? What steps can I take to offset the solitude in a struggle to maintain my sanity? Well, let’s see.


What is it exactly in the purest sense?  Solitude is the condition of being alone or remote from others.  It is isolation in its most restrictive definition. It means being totally withdrawn from society. This condition is likely to be more pronounced in a Bug Out option if you go it alone. In theory during a Bug In there would be neighbors around, but there are pluses and minuses to that. You may also get uninvited visitors as well.john-tree

The emphasis on solitude is the complete detachment from others.  Obviously from a prepper’s perspective the plan you develop for survival under adverse conditions may or may not imply solitude will be the operational condition, but it well could be.  The recommendation then is to take steps to prepare for that eventual likelihood just as you would to prep for stocking needed supplies, exit strategies, defensive measures, and the like.  It needs to be part of the total prep package.

Functioning in a solitary environment can be just as serious a skill undertaking as starting a fire in the rain, or changing out magazines while maintaining steady fire. Trust me if your personal psychology has a breakdown, then the performance of all other essential skills will suffer greatly. In the worst case situation it can be like near paralysis.

Keeping Sane

What is it they say about an idle mind being the devil’s workshop? This old proverb may actually have real life application during a SHTF event, especially if you find yourself going solo with little or no outside contact or prospects of such. It can be a lonely existence, but there are ways to weather a long drawn out Bug Out or In strategy.john-bench

The real key element to success in fighting psychological nagging at the brain is based on the concept of staying busy. If you have stuff to do, all the time, then you have little time to dwell on the negatives of your situation. It’s an exceedingly simple principle but it works.

Think about your days at work or at home concentrating on a particular project to accomplish. I am willing to bet that during those days the time flies by and you paid scant mind to other issues as you focused on the task at hand. Keeping the mind and body active is essential to defeating the devil from getting between your ears.

As you plan your prepping in home stay or escape elsewhere, plan to take along a hobby or several of them.  This may sound totally silly when you’re worried about having enough food to eat and water to drink.  But beyond the essentials of sustaining life, you need other stuff to keep you active, too.  Things you like to do are a really good start.

This could be starting a garden, which is a super idea. It might be wood carving, bird watching, painting, drawing, reading books, leather work, honing outdoor furniture from wood in the forest, whatever.  Have a battery operated radio so you can hear broadcasts, news or music.  Even a battery powered CD player would be good to have.  You get the idea.  Take some stuff along that would be fun to do and help you occupy what might otherwise be idle time.

If you can develop several hobbies or projects then you can divide your time among them.  Having alternatives helps keep the interest level high and your attention span honed to a sharper edge.john-alone

Avoid daily ruts and routines at all costs.  Sure you may have certain obligations you have to do like cook, clean, personal hygiene (very critical), gather wood, repair or build stuff, but try to break up routines into smaller segments and infuse other activities in between including rest or exercise into your daily plan. If safe, take a walk around the neighborhood or base camp property.

This goes hand in hand with varying your daily schedules.  Don’t do the same things every day the same way or at the same time.  Variety is the spice of life, and you’re going to need some spice if not in that pot of venison chili you have over the fire.

Create and Pursue Activities

Beyond the hobbies and fun things to spend time doing, also start making an active to-do list.  There will always be things to do.  Having these projects written down on paper will initiate goals and objectives to be reached.  It may be constructing a gate at an entry point into your Bug Out camp.  It might be building ground blinds for hunting or security observation of various points around the camp.

Bug In projects can include fortification work around the house. As in hurricane territory you may want to fabricate plywood window coverings to have ready just in case.  Maybe a door entry needs strengthening or a garage door locked down from inside.

You may want to create the ultimate “safe room” in the house. This will need lots of planning for barricading inside as well as stocking up essential goods for several days of hiding out.john fire

One aspect I read recently about that seriously had not occurred to me personally was the preparation for a fire at the house. This could be a common strategy for thug outsiders to breech your castle by setting it afire. You need to plan to defend against that, but also have a vehicle ready to go slamming out of the garage to escape the flames and the marauders .  Let’s hope against hope that such never comes to pass.

I feel certain as you assess your own situation and take a personal accounting of all the aspects of surviving alone, that you will come up with plenty of projects to do to keep active.  That is the key to surviving solitude.  You may be alone, but you don’t have to succumb from a solitary existence.  Stay busy and stay alive.

All photos by Dr. John J. Woods

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When #2 Becomes the #1 Priority

Let’s face it: lots of us were drawn to the “prepper movement” because of, well, the romance of the possibilities. The purity, the sheer glamour of testing one’s mettle against anything the world can throw at you. No Big Brother looking over your shoulder. No government taking what you worked hard for to give to someone who didn’t. A great reason to stock pantries and rifle magazines, loading the shelves with crates of ammo and freeze dried food, huge containers of water. You and you alone are 100% responsible for what happens to you. I’ll admit, it definitely has a primal allure!


But one of the most overlooked things I see when people  get ready (probably because it is far less romantic that geeking out over gear) for that big apocalyptic event is sanitation and waste disposal…specifically human waste disposal. For those of us here  in the sticks, it’s not nearly the looming disaster that it will be for those of you in urban areas, living in multi-story apartment buildings, or even suburban layouts. But after a few days, we all end up in the same pot (no pun intended): I don’t care how many bullets the magazine in your multi-thousand dollar tricked out AK-47 holds; shooting your shitter ain’t gonna help when it fills up and you have no way to flush it, chief.


So a great, region-wide event occurs. In the big city, the power grid is down. City water no longer flows. It’s the middle of summer. People have no AC, no running water to wash the sweat off their worried brows. People are dealing the best they can at first, but basic needs and instincts kick in. The toilets everywhere very quickly fill up with no water to flush them. Once the toilets fill, the urinals fill up. Then the sinks and bathtubs. Within three days, any toilet in an urban area is overflowing with feces, festering and fly-covered in the sweltering summer heat. The stench and sanitary conditions are repulsive, and people start migrating out of their comfort zones to do their business. Closets, corners, alleys, dumpsters, even vacant cars are quickly turned into makeshift bathrooms. Humans, knowing deep down that water equals sanitation, relieve themselves near public water ways, park ponds. Within two weeks, by my best guess, a large city with no running water or sanitation facilities, and no paid public employees to clean them up, will become a giant cesspool of filth, sickness and disease, largely because that little porcelain doohickey in your bathroom won’t flush. People start heading into the surrounding areas to get away from the spectacle, and then the people in rural areas start feeling the pressure. So what can you do to protect yourself from the basic issue? This isn’t something you can overlook.


The easiest way to counteract the immediate issue is water. Lots and lots and lots of water. If you live in a home with a septic tank, you’re made in the shade, more or less…IF you have  a steady supply of water, like a nearby pond or river. Once your toilet is full (don’t let it go too long, or it will clog), you can take a bucket of water and either full the back tank on the toilet until it engages the float, then flush, or you can simply dump water in the bowl until suction occurs, and the toilet will flush on its own. This system is a luxury, though, and can’t be counted on. Luckily, gray or non-potable water can be used for this task, but count on a couple gallons per flush. If you have a city septic system or sewer, try to ensure the system is still functioning and not clogged. If it’s not, then you can use the water-filling method with your toilet. If it IS clogged, sewage could back up, causing big time problems.


If you don’t live in a home with a septic tank, you have some planning to do. Not only do you have to supply a way to get rid of the waste from the immediate area, you will have to deal with the fact that you will have to deal with the possibility of built-up waste and smell from others around you (say, if you live in apartment building). YOU may have a way, however basic or complicated, of dealing with the issue, but those around you who did not plan ahead will possibly make the area unbearable to be in. Keep that in mind and have a second location to go to if necessary.


If you plan on bugging in during a long-term event, a nice, simple portable toilet is a 5-gallon bucket. It’s not extravagant, but if you line it with trash bags or some other catching system it works surprisingly well. I find that the plastic bags that grocery stores use to pack your groceries in can work OK…just check them for holes first! They usually have “handle” holes built into them, which you can run 2×4′s through to keep them in place while acting as a makeshift toilet seat. Once you’re done with your business, pull the bag out, tie it up using the handles, (it won’t be airtight) and dispose of it elsewhere (preferably outside if possible.) If you line the 5-gallon bucket with a heavy-duty trash bag, you can use it multiple times; just be sure to sprinkle wood ash, kitty litter, or even dirt over the waste between uses to keep the smell down and the flies and other vermin out of it. I’d probably try not to urinate in this bucket and keep it solid-waste only, just in the off chance you utilize the bucket for other uses that might require some degree of cleanliness. This toilet system is dirt cheap and very portable. You can also line your (emptied) existing toilet (if you have a really good magazine rack by it, say) with a trash bag and use it the same way. Having a disinfecting spray made up of bleach and water will keep things sanitary and knock the smell down too.

old-school latrine.

If you live in a rural area with some real estate around you (and hopefully privacy), you can dig cat-holes. These are basically one-time use holes, preferably around a foot deep, where you can leave your business behind after you bury it. Or, if you’re staying where you are and you’re pretty sure it’s permanent, you can dig a latrine (a large, deep trench in the ground) or even build an outhouse if you have materials. The really big thing to watch for with these ground-dependent receptacles is proximity to drinking water. If you’re pulling water from a well, keep your waste 100 yards or further away. Bacteria will get in your drinking water, and I’m sure in a serious SHTF event, you won’t want to get sick.


They also sell completely non-electric, non-water dependent composting toilets for the prepper with a few bucks. These convert poo into usable compost, supposedly, though I’d do my research first before I bought one, and make sure that it’s right for your conditions. Chemical toilets may work OK too, but they need to be flushed and re-filled with chemicals to work properly…and who needs another thing to stock up on?


Speaking of stocking up, toilet paper, toilet paper, toilet paper! I’m pretty sure my wife would rather die than have to wipe her bum with a series of nature’s own leaves. Yes, it’s bulky, but TP provides a level of comfort that’s hard to parallel. Have you ever cleaned your backside with leaves? Any serious prepper should go out and try it sometime…yeah, you heard me. When you get done reading this, go take a crap in the woods, back to a nice sturdy tree, and wipe up with green leaves. (Dead leaves break and crumble, with obvious consequences.) You will immediately go buy stock in Charmin. Trust me on this one…I know frontiersmen and explorers cleaned up with leaves for millenia, but we have the technology…put that little bit of SHTF romance behind you (hah! I kill me!) for as long as you can. It would also pay off to research poison ivy, oak, and sumac to know what NOT to contact your derriere with. Nobody wants to fight the zombie horde with an itchy nether region.

Hand sanitizers, antibactetrial soaps, and disinfectants should be kept on hand for obvious reasons. Stock up…staying clean means staying healthy. And while you’re at it, keep things as fly- and vermin-free as possible. Flies have no problem walking around in poo then stamping around happily on your next meal…the more you can keep that sort of thing OUT, the healthier you will be as well.

What did I miss? THere must be a million ways to handle this subject; I just touched on the matter at hand. What do you have planned to dispose of solid human waste once the SHTF?

Stay safe!


A Desperate Migration Pt. II

Photo courtesy of mknobil at

Well a short 4 months ago I wrote a post on Human Migration.  As I am sure most of you are aware,  a child migration is under way.  This is not new to humanity, but it sure is causing a stir here in our country.  The big issue in the first post was, ‘How would we react?’  It would appear that we don’t know what to do.

The two camps are actually in somewhat of an agreement:  we can’t take them.  Or maybe the term should be we won’t take them.  The reality on the ground is that we have been taking them, begrudgingly, for years.  Yes, Obama has stepped up deportations, if you believe government reports, but the tide continues.  I do not know the exact numbers, no one does,  everything we hear are estimates that special interest groups want us to hear.  It is in the millions, that can be agreed upon by all.

Look at how Africa or The Middle Beast deals with such human tragedy,  it is ugly.  Filth, dehydration, starvation, degradation, isolation, you have seen the images of refugee camps, let them burn into your mind.  Those places have one thing in common, not enough resources to really help those who need it.  So the question begs to be asked, ‘How will we deal with it?’  Will we just kick the can down the road or will we step up to show the world that American exceptionalism is still alive and well.

Photo courtesy of expertinfantry @

Let me take a step back right now and explain myself.  I believe we are the best Country on the planet, bar none, since countries were formed.  Our founders wrote the best documents possible to set up the best government possible.  Like it or not, governments are a necessary evil to keep the peace, more on that in a future post.  My biggest concerns are what country my family will inherit and will I still be around to help them, I bet every parent feels the same.  I recommend that all of you re-read the Declaration and Constitution, along with books written by our founders to understand how fortunate we are to have a system that affords us to think about how to ‘right the ship’.  Never forget.

Back to our current situation,  children fleeing a miserable existence.  The stories are sad, horrific, and depressing on a level that few of us can imagine.  I have heard some stories that make me turn the station in a moment of weakness.  I have my own problems.  Hell, kids in Detroit, Stockton, Chicago, your hometown have crap lives.  We can’t fix our own problems much less fix other nation’s issues.  Our nation is on the brink of civil unrest, financial collapse, and the world still relies on us for its freedom.  They won’t admit it, but we know.  If not for our military presence then who would stop the fundamentalist/communist/control freaks out there?   The answer is simple, no one.  Back to our issue,  what do we do with these kids.

One, send them back to their hellholes and tell ourselves that it is for the best, because we can’t afford to feed, house, and educate them.  Probably a valid point.  Two, we feed, house, and educate them, then send them back to fix their country.  I have yet to hear that one from either side.  Three, we let them stay permanently with all that entails.  Four, we help fix their countries now so they can go back.  There are a few permutations of these ideas, but the jist is we have to deal with it and look at ourselves in the mirror.  Nation building is not easy or really economically feasible, and it isn’t our job as a country.  Idea one is not without cost, both financially and morally, plus it won’t stop the problem.  Number two has merit because it helps those who need it and allows them to change their country’s destiny,  in time and assuming that they would want to go back. Three opens the floodgates.  Fourth is a deep hole of commitment that I don’t have the stomach for, but it does relate to number two.  This subject makes my stomach churn and gives me a headache.

How did it get so bad down there?  Lack of jobs, gang violence, drug trafficking, and corruption at the highest levels.  Many of our Central American neighbors point the finger at our appetite for drugs,  another valid point.  Our war on drugs is a miserable failure and has done nothing to stem the tide.  The border is as porous as ever.  All those drugs flow through the Central American corridor, bringing all the problems with them.  Some vacation destination countries turn a blind eye to the traffic, in exchange for….  Where you have poverty, you have desperation.  People willing to do anything to survive and after awhile the line between right and wrong is blurred or vanishes altogether.  Gangs rise up.  The parents of these kids are dead, disillusioned, or incapable of providing the most basic of needs, so they send them to the promised land.

None of this is new to the human condition.  It would be easy blame the population explosion, it is at the top of my list for most current problems, but a closer look at history shows that we are willing to maim or kill just to be on top of the heap even if we have all that we need.  So how can we possibly solve this situation that demands compassion above all when we can’t seem to pull together ourselves to solve America’s issues?  Does America still have a heart that goes beyond our front door?  These questions strike at the core of the prepper debate concerning to go it alone or form a community to survive calamities.

Lastly, one of those kids we save might come up with a cure for cancer,  solve cold fusion, or develop warp drive.  Maybe they will just become solid, caring, hard working Americans.  We could use more of those types.  I struggle with my own thoughts that tell me more people here is a bad thing.  I also struggle with the thought of an innocent kid being sent back to hell because I didn’t want to share some space.  I hear there are whole vacant neighborhoods in Detroit.


Eight Reasons Preppers Are Crazy

Doomsday Preppers, zombies, TEOTWAWKI, SHTF, OPSEC, market collapse, food storage, water storage, bug-out bag. If you know what these terms mean and practice some of them then welcome to the loony bin. You are crazy, maybe even subversive. We all know that if you step outside the narrow range of what society considers normal you will likely be labeled. If you break the law you’re a criminal. If you dance on your roof naked you might be called crazy. There are certain ways to act and not to act around your fellow human beings and depending on what society you live in these things can change. In our society if you talk about the world as we know possibly ending then you might be called strange. If you act on it you might be called crazy. You might be tagged as a survivalist, which conjures up images of guys in camo and high powered weapons and shifty eyes who come to town once a year for supplies. Or lately you might be called a Doomsday Prepper thanks to T.V. Worse yet you might be labeled a subversive or even a terrorist by the government. Here are eight reasons we are crazy:

  1. We do things outside the norm.

Yep. We plan ahead. We put away food and water just in case the power goes out. This doesn’t have to be from a CME, terrorist attack or a nuclear war. I’ve dipped into my water supply at least five or six times now because of storms knocking the power out. Imagine that!

 Instead of not having water to do anything when the power went out I went downstairs grabbed enough water in every bathroom to brush teeth and wash up. I put enough water in the kitchen to make coffee, cook, and wash up with. People who don’t store water don’t appreciate how much they depend on it until it’s not there.


  2.  Planning for an event that others don’t see as likely. 

At some point most of you reading this looked around at our world and thought to yourself, “Man, this whole thing is a house of cards and could come crashing down at any minute.” Maybe it’s a market crash. How long can we keep pumping 80 billion a month into the market and getting market highs before people figure out that our fiat money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on? Maybe it will never happen. Maybe people want to believe in the illusion so badly that it will stay propped up. Then again, maybe it won’t. If it does come crashing down and there’s a period of time where your dollar bills are only good for wiping your backside with, then it might be smart to have some extra food and water kicking around.

 You know all the scenarios. CME, terrorist act, societal collapse, asteroid. If you’ve watched Doomsday Preppers you know society can collapse in any number of ways. Exactly how likely this is to happen is a matter of debate.

3.  We think of guns as useful tools instead of weapons that scare the hell out of people.

Most of us Preppers are pro guns for different reasons. We believe in the right to bear arms. We believe in the right to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We realize if society ever does collapse or there is a major disaster having guns for self-defense might be the only way we make it through with our lives and the possessions that could keep us alive intact.

There are many people out there right now that would like to take our guns away. These people would be happy to give up their rights so that we might be protected by the government. Personally, I’d rather be in charge of my own well-being. The idea of relying on someone to feed my family, clothe us, and give us shelter makes me queasy.

            4.  The media likes to make us look crazy for the entertainment value.

The media is a double edged sword. If you keep in mind that they are in it for the money, you might be able to deal with them and not walk away looking like an idiot. I admit to watching a few episodes of Doomsday Preppers, but I’ve got to say that the way they were set up and the shows were edited were mostly a turn off for me. Maybe there were some really good episodes, but I just preferred not to watch it after awhile.

 Example: There was an episode of a guy here in Maine who has an outdoor school. I’ve met him in person and he’s really quite a guy. Smart, articulate, likable, and he’s probably forgotten more about wilderness survival than I’ll ever know, but the media made him look foolish. I was really disappointed in the way they edited the show for him.

         5.  We practice OPSEC.

Operational Security. It’s important. As you well know this basically means don’t go around blabbing about how prepared you are and where your secret bunker with two year’s worth of food, water, and ammo is located, because if and when things actually do go south everybody you’ve told – and everybody they’ve told – will be knocking on your door wanting a piece of the pie. It doesn’t matter that they had the same opportunity as you to get prepared. Hell, they may have laughed at you for wasting your time and money on prepping. It will be a moot point then because all they’ll want is to make sure their families are fed and protected. And you’ll be their ticket to staying warm, fed, and dry.

 Are you ready to turn friends and family away if it comes down to it? Have you added more preps to help take care of the overflow of people that might show up on your doorstep? 

 If you don’t want to handle a large group of people the best way is to practice good OPSEC and simply not talk about what you’re doing with others. 

 I’ve had people come into my house and remark on the stuff that I have. Invariably they’ll say, “Well, if doomsday ever hits I’m coming to your house.” My response is, “You better bring some mad survival skills with you ’cause there ain’t gonna be a free ride!”

6.  We tend to be a little paranoid. Not necessarily because we’re afraid people will come steal our preps (well that too), but because we don’t want to be branded as crazy. 

Have you ever been at a party and used a phrase like, “Hi, I’m a doomsday prepper!” just to break the ice? Of course not. Neither have I. My experience is that people who don’t understand the need to prep tend to think we’re crazy, foolish, stupid, subversive or even dangerous. Or a mix of all five.

 For that reason I don’t usually talk about it at all. Now, if someone brings it up I’m willing to engage in a limited conversation. If you want to meet like-minded people you have to. It’s just that sometimes it’s harder to meet another prepper than it is to meet another bird watcher. Preppers and bird watchers are both avid at what they do. Bird watchers might occasionally be called a little strange because of the lengths they’ll go to to spot a certain rare bird, but Preppers will be called crazy and I’d just as soon forgo that title and not draw attention to myself. 

         7.  We believe in being self-sufficient.

This encompasses some of the other points made here, but I believe it’s an important concept to bring up. The whole idea behind prepping is to survive any kind of situation as self-sufficiently as possible. I’ve found in many situations when I’ve had to rely on others to get things done I’ve been disappointed. You’ll get a half-assed effort or no effort at all, others won’t take it as seriously as you do, they might get sick or just plain not show up, whatever. If it comes to my survival I don’t want someone else to be in the position to screw me over, either on purpose or by accident.

 The more skills, knowledge, and survival gear you have the better off you’ll be in times of need.

8.  We talk about the zombie apocalypse. 

This would almost be kind of funny except people don’t realize we’re talking about them. I’ve heard people talk about shooting zombies, that horde that comes out of the cities looking for food, water and shelter, after a major catastrophe. It’s easier to talk about killing a zombie than it is a real, living, breathing human being.  A real zombie apocalypse will never happen of course. Here’s a helpful tip, if you’ve got a ton of ammo put away for shooting real zombies it might be a good idea to re-task it for a different purpose. However, a flood of people streaming out of the city after a major catastrophe is a possibility. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying to shoot innocent people fleeing a disaster. I’ll be as compassionate and giving as I can without putting my own family in jeopardy.

Questions? Comments? Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

Are YOU ready?