Have you thought about your neighbors lately? And not in that, “what’s all that racket?” way. Have you thought about ways you could help them?

I know, I know, it’s not a holiday, this isn’t the season for such thoughts, but I would argue it should be an every day thought.

Let’s face it, things are not getting a lot better out there, not for most people. And they aren’t likely to turn around much.  And the stronger you can make your community, the better your community (And YOU!) will survive a SHTF event.

Do you have some time? Lots of parents these days have followed jobs and moved away from extended family. Trying to juggle kids and work without any help can be stressful and exhausting. If you have time and you know of a family nearby, offer some childcare so they can get some more hours in at work or pick up a part time job, or even just get a haircut.

Do you have skills? Maybe there’s someone interested in learning those skills. Schedule a room at a library or meeting hall and put up some flyers (or facebook posts on the local town swap group) to let people know what you are teaching. I’ve done this with seed saving a couple of times it’s gone really well and I’ve met some good folks and I think they learned a couple of things. On the flip side, I know I need to find someone locally who knits, as I’ve reached the point where Youtube videos just aren’t doing it for me anymore.

In more extreme events, do you have a plan about how and how much to help your neighbors? I’ve talked to people who have boxes already put together for their neighbors, in with the rest of their preps, ready to be distributed when the lights go off and the knock sounds at the door.  I know there’s a wide range of thought on this one though, all the way to the side of no help will be given under any circumstances. I, personally, couldn’t do that one. I think it could really only work for you if A) you live some distance from your neighbors and B) they have no idea that you are a prepped individual.  I fail both those tests, I’m not the best at opsec, my neighbors have seen me cleaning my gun on the front porch, and they see me growing and storing food. We’re friends on facebook and our kids play together. If they need food, I’d give it to them, and I think they all know that.  I’ve even thought that the 90 year old next door would come stay with us if the lights go out and the weather is extreme enough that I’m worried about her.  (Her children are in AZ.)

At the very least I think you should talk through things with your family. Who do you think is likely to knock on your door during a SHTF event? Who do you know that’s experiencing a personal SHTF event? Can you help? Will you help?

Sound off in the comments!

- Calamity Jane

{ 8 comments }

by Road Warrior on April 23, 2014

A while ago, one of our readers wrote in and asked for advice for a good SHTF shotgun. I helped him out with the knowledge I had, and I guess it was OK, because he wrote back on a slightly different topic. He asked,

Dear SHTFblog,
You guys gave me great shotgun advice reciently. I’m coming to you again for your thoughts on ARs.

I’m a gun novice. I’ve been looking into purchasing my first AR15. I’m trying to keep the price at $1000 or less. I do want a forward assist. I’m not planning on putting optics on this rifle so I’m looking for good iron sights. I like the maneuverability of the 16″ barrel models.

Aside from that, I really don’t know what I’m looking for. It seems I can find negative press about every model if I look hard enough. 

Can you make some recommendations on manufacturers? Can I get a quality product at the $1000 price point? I’d rather spend a little more if necessary to get a better product. I don’t want to spend 900 only to find out a could have gotten a better option for 1300. I only want to make this purchase once. I’m looking for a product I will own for a lifetime and will it to family.

 

AR advice, eh? *cracks knuckles* I’ll see what I can do.

WHY the AR-15?

I know many of our readers scoff at this plastic and aluminum wonder that has taken over our media and society in the firearms world. But like it or not, you have to face the facts: it’s here to stay, and it’s only becoming more popular as the days roll on. There are literally hundreds of companies making ARs and probably thousands of companies making parts for ARs. Go to www.brownells.com and type in the search field “AR15″ and watch what comes up. The “Mattel Toy” of the Vietnam era has had 40 years of evolution and perfection through combat service, and it has become a serious tool that many rely upon for their SHTF needs. It is reliable, extremely accurate (especially compared to runners-up like the AK variants and the Ruger Mini-14), lightweight, compact. The 5.56mm/.223 round it is chambered in leaves something to be desired in the whollop department, and lack of long-range stability with the more common 55/62 grain military loads makes it an under-200 yard weapon under the best of circumstances. But for those who stay within the confines of the envelope the AR-15 works in, it is an incredible workhorse piece of gear.

 

As the most popular rifle in the US right now, by a long shot (nyuk nyuk) the AR has another thing going for it in a post-SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenario: sheer numbers. Most, if not all, modern AR-15s are built to standard military specifications (or “mil-spec” as you’ll see it abbreviated to), and as such, parts from one (say the one in your hand) will fit another (a battlefield pick-up, for example) with little fuss. Magazines are interchangeable, triggers, bolt carrier groups (BCGs) pistol grips, springs, detents….you get the picture. So what I’m trying to say is that if you gear up with a SHTF AR-15, chances are somebody close by will too. And so will the local PD. And so will the National Guard armory. Spare parts, ammo, and mags will be easier to find in an “oh-shit-I’m-the-only-one-left” scenario for an AR-15 than any other long gun make out there except maybe the Remington 870. And when you’re using a detachable-magazine-fed firearm for a SHTF gun, you want to make sure those magazines are going to be available so your weapon keeps running.

 

Getting to the point…

 

Okay, so the specifications desired for the reader are:

-16″ barrel for mobility (also the way to go if you don’t want to fill out extra preying-eyes paperwork for an SBR (Short-Barreled Rifle)

-Iron Sights, probably no optics

-$1000 or less for a quality, long-term investment

 

Well, No sweat. Now that the post Sandy-Hook retardedness has died down somewhat (though who knows how long that will last), high-quality AR-15s can be had for less than a grand. I’m going to recommend one model in particular, because I’ve had personal experience with the firearms and the manufacturer, and can’t plug them enough.

 

If I had those same criteria, I would go buy a Windham Weaponry MPC A4. Here’s a picture!

02_ww_mpc_a4

 

It fits all your criteria (here is the Cabela’s page, where it’s on sale for $899), and has a few key points I like in specific:

-Fixed A-frame tower front sight – Extremely tough, protected. When I got my personal W-W upper, I got it with a railed gas block instead of a tower front sight. Now I wish I hadn’t. I like the simplicity and ruggedness of the fixed, all-metal front sight….especially if no optics are run.

-Folding metal rear sight – yeah, I know what I said about the front sight above, but I prefer flip-down rear sights (the Diamondhead ones that come on the W-W guns are pretty darned good) JUST IN CASE I get a good deal on an optic. Why limit yourself? The standard “carrying handle” A2-stylefixed rear sights are awesome and strong, but THEY SUCK to mount optics to. That’s why pretty much every new AR you see these days offers a removeable carrying handle rear sight as an option or add-on. But trust me, get flip-down rears if you have ANY thoughts about optics down the road.

-6-position collapsible mil-spec tube stock – with ARs, the rear buffer tube (that the stock sits on) is made in two different external diameters: commercial and mil-spec. Commercial is the smaller of the two, if I recall, and it is being phased out to standardize on mil-spec. However, you DO run across commercial-tubed guns occasionally, and if you want to upgrade the rear stock to something like a Magpul ACS (my personal favorite) it’ll be easier to find Mil-Spec stuff. Also, the collapsible stock is great if you’re wearing body armor or a backpack…you can shorten it up to make up the difference in length.

 

My personal AR has a Windham Weaponry upper, and it’s aces. I can shoot 4″ groups benched with a 3MOA red dot at 150 yards. (not anything special with a standard crosshair scope, but where the red dot covers MORE than the group size at that distance, it’s pretty good.). I’ve toured Windham Weaponry’s facility (where I took my armorer’s course with Academi/Blackwater) and their attention to detail floored me. Every SINGLE PART is inspected three times before installation: upon receipt from vendor/manufacturers, before it gets sent out for any modifying/finishing (like having the barrels drilled and rifling cut, or anodized finish applied) and then just before the gun is built. If there is the TINIEST flaw, the part is junked. So you can be assured that W-W has the highest standards on a gun you buy.

 

So there you go, my personal recommendation for your question. There are personal choices (like 1:9 rifling twist compared to 1:7…but that depends on what ammo you’ll be running) that you can iron out, and there are myriad options you can run for accessories. There are other manufacturers out there that will hit your price point (Smith and Wesson, Stag Arms, etc.) but I’ve had personal, excellent experience with Windham Weaponry so I can say you’ll be pleased with confidence.

 

Okay, all you other AR gunners (I know you’re out there!) What would you recommend to help this reader out? Let’s hear ‘em!

 

Stay safe!

-TRW

{ 24 comments }

Your Best Defense

by Calamity Jane on April 22, 2014

When you think about your best defense in times of hardship, what sorts of things come to mind? For most of you, I would bet you are thinking of your guns, or your body armor, or perhaps the hardening on your bug out cabin.

Let me toss something else into the ring for consideration. Mobility.

This has several aspects, not the least of which is this: Can you physically get yourself to a new geographic location if needed? And no, a car is not cheating for this question. A car could work. Could fail too, depending on the situation. Then the question becomes, can you walk out? A harder question is can you walk out, carrying food and water and your family? I plan to drive out, but I prep to walk if it’s needed. There’s equipment that helps of course, good sturdy bags, good sturdy shoes, slings and straps and harnesses. Take an honest look at the legs you’re putting all that on though. If you aren’t training for endurance, stamina, strength, you should be. This option isn’t a Sunday stroll. mobility

How mobile is your money? Will you have access to it if you have to bug out? Will you have access to it if power is down? Is it usable in every day transactions? That one is aimed at the gold crowd, bars may be space efficient, but the only people I know with scales are drug dealers.

How’s the healthy adult ratio in your immediate family? I was reminded this weekend about how easy it is to lose a kid in a crowd of people who are all moving around. (Town egg hunt, it was packed, thankfully it was a really familiar park and I had a good idea where the child was headed.) 2 adults and anything over 3 or 4 kids is a bad ratio, another adult would be vital to have in an emergency, start recruiting now. Seriously, work out some multi-generational living or team up with your unmarried sibling, or rent a bedroom to a younger cousin. Elders can also tip the ratio too far for good mobility, make sure you have a solid plan for their meds and aids and sanitary needs, and solid transportation for them.

How mobile are your skills? Books might have to be left, gadgets can break. Do you have skills that could keep food on the table if you are forcefully relocated?

How mobile are you? Sound off in the comments!

- Calamity Jane

{ 17 comments }

Survival Shows

April 21, 2014

I’m not a big TV watcher.  We don’t have cable TV at our house and don’t watch any live TV shows, but I do like to pick up the out of season survival shows they put on Amazon and Netflix. My favorite is Dual Survival, but it hasn’t been the same since Dave Canterbury left […]

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If You Only Had Four Pieces of Gear…

April 18, 2014

Here’s one of my favorite “What if…” games to play with other outdoorsmen. The scenario: You’re canoeing down a river on a solo camping trip and you get caught in some rapids you didn’t know were there.  Boom!  Your canoe tips over and most of your gear and your canoe is gone.  Swept away and […]

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Start Your Food Garden, 101

April 17, 2014

You’ve got your piece of dirt picked out. Perhaps it’s still covered in sod, or weeds? Spring is definitely sprung though, and if you’re still dithering over what needs to happen and when, let’s sort that out right here, so you can get things going! Start with the dirt! If there’s sod, till it under. […]

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Urban Skills Challenge WINNER, Prepared Associates Land Nav meetup

April 16, 2014

First things first…I know some of you are chomping at the bit to find out who won the Urban Skills Challenge giveaway slot. I actually did the names-in-a-hat (okay, I used a bowl) method. People who DID say they like the SHTFblog and the Prepared Associates Facebook pages got extra entries, and in this case, […]

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The Ups and Downs of Urban Farming

April 15, 2014

Urban farming is what I call my food growing style, hopefully me living in Iowa doesn’t automatically exclude me from that title.  If the proper authorities are reading this post, you let me know. I grow food in my front lawn, I grow food in spare corners of church lots, I grow food in parks […]

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Prepper Expos – Prepping Gets Popular

April 14, 2014

Maybe I’ve been out of the loop for awhile.  Maybe I’ve been asleep at the helm.  Maybe the world has just been passing me by, but how it is that I didn’t know about all the prepper expos going on around the country? I was surfing through the news the other day and read a […]

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Happy Home Coffee – Roasting My Own Coffee Beans

April 11, 2014

Have you ever cooked your own coffee beans, ground them up and then made coffee before? As you all know if you’ve read the blog for awhile I’m an unabashed coffee addict.  I love coffee.  Give me a good strong cup of black Joe and I’m a happy camper. Well, what do you think will […]

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Stay Out of Debtors Prison

April 10, 2014

You should make sure this one is on your radar.  As municipalities and states continue to feel the budget crunch of the long descent, they start coming up with novel ways to wring blood from stone. One of the many services some have privatized out to the highest bidder is the process of collecting fines […]

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Range time!

April 9, 2014

Well, everyone, I know much of the country is experiencing spring already, but up here in the Northeast, the temps are finally rising above 50 degrees semi-regularly. The plowed-up snowbanks in my front yard have gone from 6 feet high to knee-high, and we finally have bare patches in the yard. Spring is here! That […]

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Canning for Beginners

April 8, 2014

We had some questions about canning from readers. It’s one of those subjects that needs it’s own post to have enough room to cover everything. It’s a great skill to have in your prepper skill set. It’s a way to store fresh foods for a long time, in a shelf stable state. Admittedly, you won’t […]

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