Good Stuff Cheap (er)

My dad always used to say “It only costs a little more to go first class.”  He drove Cadillac’s, flew Beechcraft Bonanzas, wore Hart,SHTFBlog.com Schaffner, and Marx suits, drank Gordon’s Gin, and hunted with Weatherby rifles, because he thought those brands were the best of the best, and worth every penny regardless of what they cost.  Fifty years ago perhaps those brands did define “First Class” for that generation.  These days not everybody can afford such extravagances, nor do I think we need to.  Picking gear, clothes, guns, vehicles, camping equipment, and other essentials for any coming SHTF has to be a good balance between our budget and what we can afford to spend on survival supplies. 

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Reality Dollars

I recently read on another survival site the discussion over how much cash to sock away for a rainy SHTF and/or how much to Survivalspend in prepping.  The consensus of the replies was that $1000 sounded about right for a starting budget for prepping.  I don’t know the parameters of the question posed on a SHTF budget, but sorry to break your bubble folks, but one grand won’t do diddly squat.  Maybe they meant just to start off with some scratch extreme basics.  In that case maybe so.  I will admit that even some small start is at least a start.  But frankly, a good AR with optics can cost a grand.

Still be it far for me to recommend to anyone else how much hard earned investments they should put into their prepping efforts.  I just know that if you sat down with some blank paper and made an extraordinarily comprehensive list of everything needed, it would be one expensive venture.  That is why incremental planning and buying is the course that most of us have to take.   I been at this 20+ years.

Quality vs. Cheap

By cheap, I do not mean to imply junk that will not function, or last.  I mean useful items that are reasonably priced that most Top Survival Blogpreppers can afford to buy.  I think there is some middle ground these days upon which we can compromise on the equipment, gear and goods we buy for survival prepping.  I think we can buy good stuff for a fair price that will give reliable, long term service.

If you are old enough to remember, stuff from Japan used to be pure junk, say when I was 5-10 years old in the 1950s.  Today most Japanese made merchandise is top quality and a reasonably good value.  Now we have to deal with stuff from China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and other places we know little or nothing about.

I say all that to say we need to closely inspect and evaluate any purchase we make regardless of the brand name on the label.  I have come to discover some of my favorite and heavily replied upon brands now suffer from quality standards as they move their origins of manufacture from the United States.  You simply cannot rely on a so-called trusted brand name alone any longer.  All goods must be evaluated on their own performance standards.

Trusted Brands or Retail Sources (For the most part)

I have made reasonably great strides to evaluate and pick prepping goods that offer both decent quality and a fair market value in today’s marketplace.  There may be exceptions within some of these brand offerings, but for the most part I have found these to make the grade:

•    Muck Boots.  You can buy the basic waterproof, mud boot on sale for under $75.
•    Coast Lights.  They have good flashlights for under $50.
•    Para (Ordinance) Pistols.  Basic 1911 models can be found for $700 or less.
•    PMC Ammo.  Reasonably priced in standard calibers.  1000/5.56 for under $350.
•    Uncle Henry Knives.  Inexpensive but good utility, decent quality.
•    Brown Jersey Gloves.  In bundles they can be had for $1.00 a pair.
•    Bass Pro Shops. Redhead brand is good and reasonable during sales.  Best socks.
•    Carhart Clothes.  Tough, long wearing, durable and comfortable work wear.
•    Plano Plastics.  Carry cases, ammo boxes, storage containers, strong, resilient.
•    Cabela’s.  Store branded clothing and boots are well made.
•    Bushnell Optics.  Reasonable prices, good features, decent glass.
•    Sportsman’s Guide.  Catalog/on line retailer, good source of real surplus.
•    Case-Guard.  AR-15 mag storage/carry boxes and other utility plastic containers.
•    Cheaper-Than-Dirt.  Sometimes, good source of ammo and shooting accessories.
•    War Surplus.  If you can find the genuine stuff, it is quality issued or not.
•    Leupold.  Extreme quality optics, not least expensive, many options.
•    Smith-Wesson ARs.  Top of the line quality, shop around for best prices.
•    Schnee Boots.  Very best cold weather, rubber bottom, leather top boots.
•    Rock River Arms.  Among the best heavy ARs for .308.
•    Case Knives.  Best American made pocketknives.
•    Colt Arms.  The original 1911, still among the best; same for ARs.
•    Coleman Camping.  Good all around, shop carefully for origin of manufacture.
•    Ruger.  An American stalwart for ARs, bolt rifles, 10-22 rimfires and handguns.
•    Tractor Supply JOBSMART ® Batteries.  On sale as good as the bunny drummer.
•    Toyota, Ford F-100, Chevrolet Silverado Trucks.  Pick your options, good rides.
•    Remington Yellow Box Ammo.  Good quality, shop big boxes, shows for pricing.
•    Maxpedition.  Exceedingly durable packs, bags, cases.  Higher end pricing.
•    Honda ATVs.  Well made, durable, reliable.  Mine is 15 years old, never failed.
•    Remington.  Especially M700 rifles and 870 shotguns.

Certainly as members of the SHTFBlog/Survival Cache family you likely have many other thoughts, preferences, and we hope Top Survival Blognumerous more recommendations we could add to this list.  It’s only a start, and it’s only based on my experiences.  We want to know yours.  What prepping products have worked, are working, and what has not.  As to prep budgeting I can only recommend to set aside what you can.  If that requires you to save up to buy a better product, then do that.  You don’t have to buy the high end stuff to get quality, durability, good function, and value.  Keep shopping, but always buy carefully.

All Photos by Dr. John J. Woods

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19 comments… add one
  • Anonymous November 23, 2015, 10:12 am

    “Good Stuff Cheap”is the slogan of Ollie’s stores,
    here in the mid-atlantic region. You can in fact find some good stuff there, sometimes. Worth a look, if you’re in the neighborhood.

    Reply
    • Joe November 24, 2015, 3:59 pm

      I shop at Ollie’s all of the time. This is all closeout name brand mdse. If you happen to need what he has you will save money on it.

      Reply
  • BamaMan November 23, 2015, 6:18 pm

    Spend money on things that last. Guns, optics, boots etc. too many people buy expensive whiskey, steaks and roll eyes at good pair of equipment.

    Reply
    • Joe November 24, 2015, 4:03 pm

      I agree with BamaMan I always bought the best hunting and fishing equipment I could afford, (and sometimes couldn’t afford.) I am now 67 years old and some of the sporting goods I use now I bought when I was in high school. Spend a decent amount on products and they can last a lifetime.

      Reply
  • Doc Montana November 23, 2015, 7:56 pm

    My list* of good ones include on the First Tier:
    Fallkniven
    Aimpoint
    Benchmade
    Toyota
    MSR
    Granfors Bruks
    Arc’teryx
    Osprey
    Browning
    Glock
    Swarovski
    Franklin Armory
    Berkey
    Silky
    Leica
    Surefire
    Pelican
    Barrett
    Night Force
    Patagonia
    Leatherman
    Spec Ops
    Eneloop
    Serengeti optics
    Snow Peak
    Snap-On
    Suunto
    Eberlestock
    Spyderco
    Montana (the state)
    Alaska
    all of Western Canada
    Iceland
    Sweden
    Asolo
    Western Australia

    The Second Tier include:
    The North Face
    Fenix
    Streamlight
    Smith optics
    Energizer
    Nikon
    4Sevens
    5.11 Tactical
    Smith & Wesson
    Leupold
    Jeep
    Ruger
    Idaho
    Colorado
    Wyoming
    Austria
    Central Italy
    Finland
    Cooke Islands
    Black Diamond
    SOG
    Husqvarna
    Otis
    Garmin
    Goal Zero
    Outback
    Wetterlings
    Zero Tolerance
    Vortex
    ESEE
    Maxpedition
    Upper end Gerber

    Third Tier:
    Ka Bar
    Coleman
    Duracell
    Plano
    Ontario
    Bushnell
    Savage
    DPMS
    Remington
    Craftsman
    Buck
    Utah
    Nevada
    Washington
    South America
    South Central Africa

    *this is a partial list of my opinions. I would love to see your list.

    Reply
    • Lance November 27, 2015, 1:33 am

      Fourth tier:
      Coleman
      Wal-Mart
      California
      DC
      Etc

      Reply
      • BamaMan January 22, 2016, 5:28 pm

        Illinois and New York.

        Reply
  • DipSh*t November 23, 2015, 8:30 pm

    My list is sort of short.

    Glock

    Reply
  • TPSnodgrass November 23, 2015, 9:13 pm

    Smith &Wesson revolvers
    THE BHP
    Glocks in general
    Toyotas
    MBZ
    I don’t “do” Leathermans, prefer my Gerber multi- tools
    CZrifles
    Estwing hatchets
    Mora knives
    Just my small list of what I consider “top drawer” quality.

    Reply
    • Mike November 24, 2015, 11:13 pm

      Amen on the smith revolvers. Keep a few around in case I need to knock the eye outta flea. Smith has their act together as far as revolvers go. Only thing better was colt snake series guns but don’t hear much about them. Probably couldn’t afford them anyway

      Reply
    • Chuck Findlay November 26, 2015, 1:42 am

      Gerber lost me as a customer when Fiskers bought them and the quality seems to have went down. I returned a broke knife that wouldn’t stay locked open any more and they sent back a smaller one with a note saying the old one wasn’t made any more. The new one was loose if you flexed the blade sideways. I did a bit of looking on-line and it seems I’m not the only one not happy with them.

      Reply
  • Drew November 23, 2015, 9:42 pm

    My father always drilled into our heads the following mantra: S&W revolvers, Colt automatics, Winchester rifles, and Remington shotguns. I’ve since swayed from 1911s to Sig Sauer pistols, but I’ve held the rest to be eminently true.

    Reply
  • Wally November 24, 2015, 11:52 pm

    I purchase cheapo vodka and run it through a Pur water filter a few times to kick it up a few notches on the flavor meter… otherwise it’s our practice to pay for stuff that lasts.

    Reply
  • Chuck Findlay November 26, 2015, 1:35 am

    If you are on a budget (and who isn’t these days) you can buy used items of higher quality then many of today’s new items.

    Used autos cost a lot less then new ones, used guns cost less and will likely outlast you.

    I bought a leather coat and a few merino wool sweaters at the Good-Will Store for an unbelievable price and they all look new. The leather coat still had the tag on it saying $350.00, I got it for $12.00

    I do handyman work and wanted a new nail gun, on Craig’s List I found a Bostitch air nail gun for $30.00 that sells for $150.00 + new. I also got a Ridgid job site compressor for $90.00. Both of these tools work like new. The compressor is scratched up, but works great, the nail gun has only seen light duty use. A new China-made nail gun cost more then $30.00 and a China-made air compressor is $150.00. Both are China JUNK!

    I always look on Craig’s List first when looking for an item.

    Reply
  • Novice November 26, 2015, 9:26 am

    Poor people shouldn’t buy cheap things. You only end up buying them 2x.

    Reply
  • Lance November 27, 2015, 2:04 am

    Best: (for price)
    Browning
    Barrett
    Barnett
    Top quality 1911 think 2000$&^
    Sig Sauer
    AR500 body armor
    Ohio
    Magpul
    Colt
    Smith and Wesson
    TRAINING
    (hand to hand, weapons training is important too)
    Armalite rifles
    KA-BAR
    JEEP
    Sportsman’s guide
    Gander mountain
    Bass pro
    Buck knives
    Cabelas
    Hornady
    Aimpoint

    Good: (just have disadvantages)
    Remington
    Winchester
    H&R
    Shortlane @gunadapters.com
    Michigan
    Smith and Wesson
    Forehand arms (old shotguns and revolvers)
    Marlin
    Barretta
    All I can think of right now

    Places to buy stuff with good and bad products:
    Kel-tec
    Chiappa Firearms
    Goodwill
    Savers
    Gunshows(obviously)
    M-tech knives

    Reply
  • Minarchist_1776 November 28, 2015, 10:37 am

    I have a serious bias against anything chambered in .223/5.56x45mm NATO for use against anything larger than a (4 legged) coyote. That being said and understood, decent rifles in .308 will still set you back just as much if not more than top of the line AR’s. There are some things that it just doesn’t pay to scrimp on, and if you want a real assault/battle rifle clone then be prepared to pay serious bucks. Decent hunting rifles can be had cheaper, but they don’t have the ability to put the sheer number of rounds down range that a good semi-auto battle rifle clone can.

    I like Ruger revolvers as being good value for the money. Savage rifles are supposedly some of the most accurate you will find for the price they ask.

    If you want a knife, I second the recommendations that have been made for Kabar and Ontario knives as being good values for the money. Ontario’s SP10 Raider Bowie is definitely worth a look for those who like their knives a little on the large side (9.75 inch blade, 15 inches overall). I’m also something of a Cold Steel junkie, but their knives tend to be a little pricier.

    Reply
  • Rich November 29, 2015, 7:08 pm

    There are moments when I purchase top of the line products. But during a survival situation, I just want any tool; it doesn’t have to be top of the line.

    A case in point, I purchased a Mathews bow and have killed a number of deer and turkey with it. Before buying the Mathews, I owned a Browning Rage and killed nearly 20 deer with it. In a survival situation, I would feel well-equipped with either bow.

    What is most important is that a person recognizes what items and skills are necessary and has those in their possession when times get tough.

    Reply
  • Curtisjord April 9, 2017, 8:35 am

    kqylshq

    Reply

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