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

Police Militarization and Attitude Is Getting Out of Control

Let me start this post out by talking about the good guys. There are many cops out there today that are decent folk who actually care about protecting the general population. Every day they go up against bad people who’d love nothing more than to see them on the sidewalk with a bullet in their head. I can understand how this would make a person paranoid and this article has nothing to do with you guys and gals out there, getting the job done in the face of adversity day after day.

This post has more to do with politics and the militarization of the police force today. I wrote a post about this awhile back, but I’d like to explore it in a little more depth as new events transpire in this grand country of ours. There was a recent article in the news about military gear coming back from the Middle East and being given to police departments across the country. All they have to do is some paperwork and pretty soon they’ve got an LAV (light armored vehicle) rolling up to their doorstep.

Photo courtesy of Naypong /


Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against police arriving on the scene of a shootout in an armored vehicle that will help keep them safe. The inherent problem with this type of gear, and SWAT teams in general, is this: once you have it you have the urge to use it. If you don’t use it you lose it, right?

Many of the smaller towns and cities don’t need these kinds of elite teams around, but nonetheless many have them. If there’s a hostage situation and there’s need of a SWAT team I hope there’s one nearby to help get matters sorted out. If a couple of crazies go on a rampage like those two guys in California years ago we’ll want a special weapons team to take them down.

But lately there’s been a rash of injuries and deaths due to SWAT teams breaking down doors during no-knock entries. A lot of the entries happen because of drug searches. Unfortunately, many times the information they’re moving on is flawed and innocent people find themselves at the end of a gun with the family dog dead. All a cop has to say is, “I was afraid for my life,” and he has carte blanch to shoot your dog. They can also use that same argument for you.


The SWAT team was first developed in response to the bell tower shooting back in 1954. It was shown that if a team with special weapons and tactics were on hand during that emergency it most likely would have ended sooner than it did.

It wasn’t until the war on drugs that things really started to spiral out of control. These days all you need is someone to point a finger at a house and say, “There’s drugs in there,” and they have the right to break your door in and put your family under the gun. If you’re really smart you won’t try and defy them. When you’ve got six or ten guys with assault weapons running through your house all charged up it wouldn’t take much for an accident to happen. I’ve read comments from readers who say, “They better never try that at my house or I’ll shoot the bastards,” and other stupid stuff. First, if you pull a wallet out of your pocket during this tense time you’re likely to take a bullet or twenty. I’d say your best chance of surviving with minimal injuries is just do whatever it is they want and hope you do it fast enough. You figure out the right and wrong of it later. Let me assure you that when someone is holding a machine gun on you that he is going to be right – even when he’s wrong.

Thirty years ago cops didn’t have the same tactical gear they have today with the exception of the SWAT teams. Nowadays many cops have “tacticool” gear. Black military looking uniforms and tactical weapons are common place.

Innocent Victims

Accidents happen. Even with the best planning and training they still happen, but in my mind it’s what happens after that really counts. Awhile back a SWAT team performed a no-knock raid on a house a family displaced by fire were staying in. As they went in they threw a flash grenade into the house and unfortunately it landed in the baby’s crib. When it went off it caused serious injuries to his face and chest.

Now this is bad. Really bad. As the father of a 2 ½ year old I have to tell you I cringed when I read this story.

Then the mother starts asking for her baby and the cops tell her to shut up and sit down. One of the cops grabs the infant and takes him outside and disappears. When the mother goes out all she sees is a puddle of blood on the ground. Later on they catch up with the baby at the hospital and he’s in a medically induced coma.

So far, state and federal agents, including the Georgie Bureau of Investigations and investigators from two district attorneys’ offices, have found no wrongdoing in last month’s predawn raid.

At a news conference Tuesday, the tot’s father, Bounkham Phonesavanh said the officers who lobbed the explosive into his sleeping child’s playpen showed no remorse afterward, and lied to he and his wife about the extent of his injuries, saying the boy had only lost a tooth, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“The officers cursed and yelled at us and threatened to arrest me after we expressed our concern for our son,” Phonesavanh said, according to NBC Atlanta.

Read more:

It’s terrible that these things happen, but what I find especially detestable is the complete lack of accountability for their actions. No wrongdoing was found and apologies are almost never given in these situations. I believe it’s because people believe an apology is the same as an admission to guilt and they don’t want to go down that path as it might boomerang back on them in a court of law.

Whatever happened to accountability?

One of the first things I learned in boot camp that stuck with me is that you are accountable for your actions. The DI’s didn’t want to hear excuses and we quickly learned not to even try. If you screwed up and the DI called you on it you said, “The private screwed up, Sir!”

It seems that accountability in these situations is nowhere to be found giving the SWAT teams the belief that sometimes you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. It might not be that big a deal to you… until you’re one of the eggs. Think it couldn’t happen to you? Think again. It can happen to anybody. There are many documented cases of people being pulled over for traffic violations and being subjected to cavity searches because they were acting suspicious according to the arresting officers.

Dangerous Situations

What about the danger to police officers who are involved in “no knock” warrants? In this case an officer was killed conducting a no knock search of a guy’s house. The man’s crime? He was accused of having some pot plants and illegal weapons at his house. After the raid they found that he had four weapons legally owned and the pot was only a misdemeanor amount. They could have taken the guy when he went to the store to buy beer, but instead they bang on the door of someone they know to have guns. When the police came through the door the guy picked up a gun and started shooting and killed an officer. The cops then file a murder charge against the man, which were later dropped.

I could totally see myself doing something like that. Imagine waking up and there are guys with guns trying to get into your house. You hear a shot and your dog is killed and men are yelling and brandishing guns. The first thing I’d do is go for a gun too because who the hell but a bad guy is going to be breaking down your door in the middle of the night?

It’s tragic that this officer had to die and I hope that these kinds of raids are looked at more closely before it happens again.

Police Brutality

These kinds of weapons and training have a tendency to spill over into everyday life as well. There has been an increasing feeling of “us against them” among police against citizens in the last twenty or thirty years. To be fair to the police in question, I’ve watched many videos about police brutality and a lot of them are citizens baiting cops until something occurred, and many times that something wasn’t even what I’d consider brutality. Other times it’s exactly what it looks like. A cop gets mad or thinks there’s been some challenge to his or her authority and lashes out at a cuffed or otherwise defenseless victim and hurts or even kills them.

These are just the times when the officers are being over enthusiastic. This doesn’t touch on the aspect when it’s outright abuse of their power. It seems like recently there have been many more instances of police brutality. Some offices have a shorter fuse than others and it doesn’t take much for them to snap and cause you serious injury or even death.

Many times officers will be beating someone and yelling, “Stop resisting!” as they continue to beat the victim into unconsciousness or sometimes to death. It’s as if by shouting these magic words for any cameras or bystanders they’ll be able to justify what they did when the case goes to court.

Again, many times the officer is found not to be responsible and walks away with nothing, not even a reprimand.

Many cops today feel that because they wear a badge they’re entitled to respect, but a lot of times I don’t respect the man behind the badge. Here’s an example recently that happened to my wife’s friend. This woman’s mother hurt herself with a saw of some kind. She sustained serious cuts to her fingers and lost the tips of one or two others. The husband – a man in his 70′s – put her in the car and started driving her to the hospital. On the way he saw a police officer on the side of the road in town and rolled down his window and asked if the cop could escort them to the hospital about two miles up the road. Instead the cop ordered him to pull over. The man decided to keep on going so he could get his wife to the hospital before she lost more blood. The cop followed them the whole distance to the hospital, inadvertently doing exactly what the older gentleman had requested in the first place and clearing traffic for them. When they got to the emergency department the cop hauled the guy out of the car, threw him over the hood, wrenched his arms behind his back causing injury, kicking his legs apart causing more injury, and finally cuffing him in the parking lot. In the meantime the guy is yelling at his wife to go inside and get treatment before she passed out. The cop couldn’t have cared less about the injured woman instead focusing on the fact that this old man had dared defy his order to pull over. An 8 year old boy seated in the Emergency Room saw the incident and once the elder gentleman was allowed in to see his wife the little boy went up and said, “Geez mister, I’m real sorry that happened.” The police have yet to apologize. My wife was astounded by the story. I wasn’t.

It could be that the officer in this example saw the blood (the woman showed the officer her bandaged and bleeding hand) and wanted to investigate what was going on before taking them to the hospital; however a simple line of reasoning may have helped his decision making process. First, the man came to the officer and asked for help. He didn’t try to sneak by and wasn’t waving a gun or otherwise being threatening. Second, the officer saw her injured hand (she held it up for the officer to see that there was a legitimate problem.) Third, even if the older guy had caused the injury he was asking for help getting to the hospital. I would have helped them get there first then figured out what was going on once the woman was getting the medical attention she obviously needed.

In the grand scheme of things this is a small matter, but I tell the story for two reasons. First, it’s local and I know people peripherally involved in the matter, and second, it’s indicative of an attitude by the police that people are generally scumbags until proven otherwise. Even then the civilian has probably done something to deserve the treatment they’ve received. I’ve known several police officers over the years and this attitude was prevalent in them and their friends. One guy I knew who was a former Force Recon Marine used to tell me how he loved Saturday nights because he got to beat drunk people up. He loved to go “drunk beating” as he called it.

Don’t think it’s just here in the United States either. This goes on all over the world.

I often wonder if the need for military style weapons is a response to more violent crimes and more dangerous people the police have to deal with today. If you deal with criminals all day every day it’s bound to give you a jaded view point after awhile. Here in the United States many people own weapons and it may be the police feel the need to have bigger and better guns and equipment just to stay ahead.

Another thing that is likely causing this type of behavior is simply a lack of training on how to handle these kinds of situations. Also, if the office were to be held financially accountable for medical bills for cases involving this kind of police crime maybe it would keep them in check. Right now the tax payers or the victim bears the financial responsibility.


Lately the media and the ability of everybody to take videos of these events have cast the militarization in a negative light. When twenty cops in riot gear use pepper spray on a peaceful crowd it doesn’t look good for the police.

But let’s not forget that not all cops are like this and most of the men and women out there serving are doing a fine job. A few bad apples make the rest look bad and that’s not always the case.

I still tell my kids to find a police officer if they ever get lost, because if you can’t trust a cop to do right who can you trust?

Questions? Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor


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The Original Dot Sight



What if I told you that there was a dot sight that existed and worked extremely well for 100 years before the first Aimpoint ever clicked on? True story. It was (and still is) a fast, easy-to-pick-up zero-magnification sighting system that served to annihilate herds of buffalo hundreds of yards from the shooter in the late 1800/early 1900s, and it’s been standard issue on U.S. (and other) military rifles since the 1920’s. It still can be seen in various forms on your grandfather’s old lever-action deer-gettin’ Winchester, or possibly even on your SHTF AR-15. Though the theory behind the way the sight works is many, many years old, it still soldiers on on rifles, shotguns, and hell, even some handguns to this day…it’s even found its way onto bows.


Aperture sights.

Aperture sight on a Winchester M54.


By now, I’m sure you’re figured out the fact that I’m talking about the aperture sight, also knows as a peep sight, ghost ring, tang sight, or receiver sight, depending on the application and the crowd you’re running with.


What is an aperture sight?


Put basically, an aperture sight consists of two elements: a front post-type sight (sometimes that have beads – more on that later.) and rear sight that sports an aperture, or round hole, that you look or “peep” through. It operates on the fundamental principle that your eye naturally centers items it looks at in its field of view, and when working in concert with your body’s muscles and its own focusing, the sights will be aligned very naturally…without even thinking about it, after you’re used to using it a little. It’s extremely intuitive, and is a fine choice for any primary sights or back-up sights (BUS).


How does it work?

Looking through the aperture sight of an H&K MP5.

Looking through the aperture sight of an H&K MP5.


As I said, the aperture sight works on the idea that your eyes naturally focus and center items viewed through a circle. This is something your body does intuitively; since the rear sight, which is a round hole you look through, is much closer to your eye, you automatically focus on the item viewed through the aperture, which is the front sight. The rear sight hoop goes out of focus and blurry; it is much the same effect as looking through an electronic red dot type sight. You concentrate your focus on the front sight, and let the rear sight and the target go blurry; your body subconsciously does the rest. And as a general rule, the thicker the material of the aperture you’re looking through, the more precise an aperture sight is; conversely, the thinner it is, the faster the sight is. On my hunting rifles, I generally eschew scopes and mount receiver sights with no screw-in apertures that narrow the sighting hole; I like the sights fast, down, and dirty for hitting moving targets out to 100 yards, which is really the furthest practical range where I hunt. If I see a deer at longer range, not to worry: with a little more time and concentration, the sight works just fine out to longer ranges. I plugged a West Virginia white tail at over 150 yards with a lever-action Marlin in .356 using an open aperture sight and a fine brass bead on my front sight; the same day I shot a nice four-pointer on a dead run at 40 yards with the same gun…it works very, very well for close-in fast action and longer ranges. This is the beauty and versatility of the aperture sight.

On the left, a more open, faster aperture. On the right, a tighter, more precise aperture.


On the left, a more open, faster aperture. On the right, a tighter, more precise aperture.

History and types of aperture sights

In the olden days of yore, before the turn of the 20th century, and up through about 1925-1930 or so, the aperture sight coupled with a fine front bead reigned supreme as the long-range precision sighting system of choice. At first, the cavalry carbines started having rear ladder-type sights that had holes drilled in the sliding sight member to use for precision shots when the ranges grew long. Soon, as shooters realized that placing the aperture closer to the eye extended the sight radius and made the rifle more precise, the tang sight, which was a folding, adjustable aperture on a stalk that was mounted on the rifle’s upper tang (if you’ve ever seen “Quigley Down Under”, you’ve seen a tang sight mounted on a Sharps Rifle in action. Great flick, by the way…heartily recommended!) to bring the rear sight right up to the shooter’s eye for maximum precision.


Lyman No. 2 tang sight. Image from

Lyman No. 2 tang sight. Image from


Tang sights worked wonderfully, as millions of Western Buffalo will attest – hunter slaughtered the beasts from hundreds of yards (!) with tang-sighted big-bore buffalo rifles – Sharps rifles, Winchester 1876s and 1886s, Remington Rolling Blocks, etc. Invariably, they used tang sights to hurl giant chunks of lead at the big animals from distances so far away that the animals rarely heard the shots, and never spooked – they just fell where they stood. All without magnification – I guess that just goes to show you that it’s not the arrow, it’s the indian.


Tangs sights were great and all, but as anyone who’s used one can tell you, they suck in the ergonomics department. The sight stalk sits right where your firing hand wants to go on the rifle, and if there’s any kind of serious recoil, its gets mighty uncomfortable mighty fast. Enter the receiver sight.


The receiver sight mounts on the receiver of the rifle (hence the name), usually on the left side. However, where there are controls or other protuberances, the sight can be mounted on top or on the right side of the gun. But the receiver sight got the aperture sight out of the way of the shooting hand, and onto the rifle in a spot that didn’t beat the snot out of the shooter’s extremities, only at the cost of an inch or two of sighting radius. The receiver sight quickly came into its own, with companies such as Lyman and Redfield (amongst many others) finding ways so ingenious to mount them to almost every conceivable style of rifle imaginable that it’s staggering and damn impressive. Receiver sights can be seen on everything from lever action Winchesters and Marlins, Remington pump-guns, Mauser bolt actions, and everything in between. Before the heyday of the mass-produced, reliable scope, the receiver sight made its way onto everything – and WORKED. In rough situations, all weather, neglected or cared for – all without batteries. Kinda makes you think these are traits we as preppers are looking for, huh?


A Redfield sight on a Winchester M1895 carbine, (top) and a Lyman 57 on a Winchester M52C (bottom)

The military recognized these attributes, and started making them standard issue to 1903 Springfields around the end of WW1. Since then, every US (and most foreign) battle rifle has had aperture style sights: The M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, M1 Grease gun and Thompson SMG, the M14, and even the ubiquitous M16/M4/AR15 series of rifles has them standard, built right into the gun. Aperture sights are becoming the best way to get sights on combat shotguns as well, with “Ghost Ring” sights becoming the norm for any serious tactical shotgun’s sighting arrangements.


Aperture sights today


These days, with red dot and reflex sights becoming compact, extremely reliable, and very efficient (Aimpoint makes several red dots that have 50,000 hours of contiunuous-on run time), and reticle-style standard scopes becoming tough as nails and clear as day while offering extreme levels of magnification, the aperture style sight has fallen by the wayside. Oh, every chairborne ranger with a tactical Mr. Potato Head AR-15 throws them on his or her multi-thousand dollar catalog gun because everyone else does, but I haven’t run into many who know how to properly use them, adjust them, or god forbid, train with them. They are now jewelry, something to have just to fill up vacant rail space.


Magpul Gen 2 MBUS on an AR-15.

Magpul Gen 2 MBUS on an AR-15, deployed.

Magpul MBUS folded out of the way for optics use.

Magpul MBUS folded out of the way for optics use.

Magpul front MBUS deployed.

Magpul front MBUS deployed.



But the aperture sight is arguably the most useful tool on your modern combat rifle, and many, many manufacturers capitalize on this. Magpul makes a very fine fold-away set of sights with their MBUS (Magpul Back Up Sights) system. Troy and many others make beautifully machined steel and/or aluminum sights that fold down, but are ready at a moment’s notice if your electric sight shits the bed. The company that I do my training through recommends that introductory courses with carbines be shot with back-up or iron sights only! After all, that is what you will be using when the the S truly HTF.


Don’t have a “combat” rifle? That’s admirable too! But you can probably upgrade almost any modern rifle to use an aperture style sight. Lyman, Williams, New England Custom Guns, XS, and many others make tough, no-nonsense aperture style rear sights for most common rifles. The worst that might happen is that you’ll have to bring your rifle to a reputable gunsmith to have it drilled and tapped for sight mounting. Expect to spend in the neighborhood of $100-150 for a good rear sight. Remember, this is something that will save your butt when the cards fold. I use Lyman sights on all my hunting rifles, with a smattering of Redfields. Really, I prefer them – I only have one hunting rifle with a scope on it – but guess what? It’s set up with a Lyman receiver sight too.


What about the front sight? I really like fine brass bead style sights. Williams makes a great one that goes into standard front 3/8” dovetails. The beads come in many different styles, colors, and sizes. Brass, ivory, flourescent, fiber optic, you name it – pick one that your eye can find rapidly and discern against a target, and go with it. Make sure you replace the sight with a new front sight of the same height, or damn close – it’ll make life easier on you, trust me. But that bright front bead will show right up in your field of vision just as well as any electronic red dot sight will – line ‘er up and hit that target!


Front sights on three of my rifles - all with fine brass beads. Very bright and easy to pick up against a variety of backgrounds.

Front sights on three of my rifles – all with fine brass beads. Very bright and easy to pick up against a variety of backgrounds.



Standard factory-issued buckhorn or blade style sights are OK – but for a few bucks, you can get a back up sight that is very, very fast, extremely accurate with a fantastic field of view, and as rugged as you could hope for. And that, my friends, is exactly what we’re looking for when we set up our “oh no” firearms. Red dots and scopes are awesome – you should always tip the balance in your favor when you can, and those are perfect ways to do that – but you really need something as a backup to save your butt when the toys break.


Do any of you run receiver or aperture sights on your SHTF guns? I love this stuff – let’s hear what you got! Have you found something that works better? Tell us about it!


Stay safe!



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SHTF Update – Mrs Jarhead

Hey Everybody,

Thanks for all the comments and well wishes. Mrs Jarhead is still very sick and still in the hospital as of today.

It’s been confirmed as viral meningitis. The hospital staff has been fantastic and she’s receiving the best care possible.

Thanks again for all your prayers, well wishes, and positive thoughts as my family goes through this trying time. They are truly appreciated.


SHTF Update

Hey everybody.  I’m afraid I won’t be able to put a blog post out today.  Mrs Jarhead was admitted to the hospital this Sunday evening and I need to take care of her and the kids.

They’re not sure yet what it is, but the leading theory is a tick borne disease.  All I can say is she’s been in tremendous pain and thanks to some good medication is now sleeping comfortably.

Since this is a prepper blog it might be wise to note that if something like this happened when you didn’t have access to a medical facility, it would be a good idea to have some serious pain killer on hand.  My understanding is that if this is tick borne the idea is to hit it with some antibiotics, something else that might be good to have stashed away.

Question?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

Cooking Food After the SHTF – It’s NOT Optional

It can be easy to lose sight of the basics as a prepper. You get to worrying about how many beans and bullets you have, and it can be easy to forget about things like how you’ll cook those beans. Remember, most SHTF scenarios are things you can survive.  Some will be short enough that you can skate through on meal replacement bars, canned fruit and water. For anything longer than a few days though, you’ll want to consider a way to cook some hot food. Cooking is crucial to our diets. It helps us digest food without expending huge amounts of energy. TEOTWAWKI is not the time for a raw diet.

Morale - Cooking a hot meal can also be a good morale booster. Whether it’s a simple pot of oatmeal or a soup full of dried veggies and meat, it doesn’t have to be complicated to raise spirits.  I carry oatmealspaghetti makings in our bug out bags. Raisins and cinnamon already mixed in the measured out oats, just add boiling water.   For bigger groups there are freeze-dried meals that can cover quite a crowd. I have one can that will feed 10 people  spaghetti with meat sauce with the quick addition of boiling water.

Basic - Really basic, can you boil water? That should be your starting point for this one. Make sure you have a way to boil water. Bug out, bug in, power on or grid down. Hot drinks, safe drinking water, simple meals and the freeze dried ready-to-eat meals all need boiled water. You can get pretty far with just boiling water, days and days if you plan your food storage right. Think this one through carefully though. You may have to boil water in your house, basement bug in for radiation events come to mind. You may have to boil water in a temporary refugee type situation, maybe you’re camped out at a state park waiting for flood water to recede so you can go home. You may have to boil water for weeks on end with no warning, say your friendly local chemical dealer lets a couple of tanks leak into your county’s water supply.  So you want something that can handle most of those situations, or maybe a couple of somethings that together can cover all the scenarios. My solution was a Kelly Kettle.  It’s a basic rocket stove design. Very sturdy, very safe, light weight. Runs on twigs and pinecones, which I have a lot of.  I don’t have to balance anything on top of it because the whole kettle fills with water.

Safe Meat -For longer SHTF type events you may need the ability to cook up meat. Hunting prizes or raised livestock or just freezer meat that has to be cooked before they rot because power is down.  Of course a basic stick over a fire can get you some cooked meat, it’s not terribly efficient though. A grill or a way to bake the meat bbq style, either would work better. Meat can also go into the boiling water mentioned above, soups and stews are very efficient if you need to get every last calorie you can.

Vegetables – Even garden goodness occasionally needs some cooking to be at max nutritional value.  Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids, to the body than they do when raw. Boil or steam them for maximum benefits. Lycopene also increases in availability for us after cooking. Gentlemen, if you don’t know why you need Lycopene, give it a quick Google search.

Cooking for a crowd – The last thing I can think about to say on this one, is plan to cook meals to a bit bigger than normal. (And yes, I’m implying that your normal should be a cooked meal.) Whether you are feeding an elderly neighbor, or your brother-in-law is on your couch with his family in your guest bedroom, times of hardship will necessitate people coming together. Make sure you have a large pot and a couple of large pans. And that your cooking/stove setup can handle the weight of those.

What are your plans for grid down survival cooking? Do you get a lot of practice with it? Where do you think your weak spots are?  Shout out in the comments!

- Calamity Jane
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There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that when it comes to the one-gun prepper arsenal, the shotgun reigns supreme. King of the hill, my boomstick, baby! We here at have written about many a time – you can find our musings about the ultimate in firearms versatility here, here, and here.


If you scroll through the comments, you probably will find mention of a specific item that increases a shotgun’s versatility exponentially – the chamber adapter. Essentially a slug of metal that has been machined into the profile of a shotgun shell, it has a chamber for one of many, many calibers bored out of the middle. It allows you to chamber a different caliber – from .22 Short all the way to a smaller shotgun shell size, say .410 in a 12-ga – and safely fire it in your larger-bore shotgun. There are also chamber adapters for rifles; my brother has one that allows him to shoot .25 ACP out of a .250-3000 Savage. The caliber choices are extensive; pretty much all your standard pistol-caliber rounds are covered, as well as this company making a kit that allows you to shoot .223/5.56mm, 7.62x39mm, and even .308 Winchester in your 12 gauge. Prices range from a few bucks to over $100, depending on if you want a long-”barreled” sleeve-type adapter that’s rifled, or the style that I got, the “snubnose”, if you will.



I’d been wanting to try one of these babies out for some time, so I basically stopped hemming and hawing and grabbed one off Amazon on the cheap. After all, if it sucks, you probably shouldn’t pay a lot for the suck, right? Right. I ended up purchasing a 12 gauge-to-.38 Special/.357 Magnum adapter from Tru-Bore on Amazon. With shipping, it showed up at my door a few days later, for the paltry sum of just over $31. I didn’t expect much, and once I opened that package, I’m glad I didn’t: at first glance it wasn’t terribly impressive. A nicely machined piece of steel, but that was about it. I secretly had hoped it would be rifled, but I knew deep down it wouldn’t be, and I was right. It’s a smooth bore, and it measured out at .360” inside the bore. Hmmm…a standard .357/.38 bullet is .358”. Sounds to me like an unstabilized bullet….the bullet has .002” of wiggle room in the bore of the “barrel” of the adapter.



Yup, definitely a smooth-bore! .002” may not sound like much, but it’s enough to make that bullet bounce around down that bore like a BB in a coffee can, de-stabilizing the projectile. More on that later.


The back of the “shell” is recessed for the rim of the .38/.357 cartridge. It has a little extra room around the rim for a fingernail, knife blade, or some other plucking accoutrement to retrieve the spent empty cartridge from the adapter. (unfired cases drop in and out with ease, but fired cases expand and stick inside the chamber of the adapter.)


My trusty digital calipers mic the length of the adapter at 2.7315”. With a Winchester .357 Magnum 125-grn JHP measuring 1.5650”, that leaves a “barrel” length of 1.1665”, or just over 1 5/32”. That isn’t much; the average J-frame Smith & Wesson barrel length is about 2 inches. So don’t expect rip-snorting velocities out of the adapter. Sadly, my chronograph is currently being borrowed by a friend, so I couldn’t clock bullet velocities. Future report, I guess; my apologies.


Upon initial inspection, one of the first things I noticed is that the leading edge of the “shell” is very sharp; I took a touch of emery cloth to take the edge off so it wouldn’t scar up the innards of my shotgun. For the first test, I broke open my Winchester 101 over-under shotgun to see how the adapter fit. THUNK…dropped right in the chamber satisfyingly. I went to close the action, and, what do you know? The action wouldn’t shut. I sat there playing with it, and couldn’t come to any real satisfying conclusions as to why it wouldn’t shut. I can only imagine the ejector system may have been causing the problem; break-open guns I tried it on with no ejectors worked fine. It also chambered pleasingly in my Remington 870; I didn’t try it through the action, though, because the weight of the shell plus the sharp edges might have made it catch in the action or jam up. I didn’t feel like disassembling an 870 in a sandpit, so I made a decision to just use it single-shot. It’s not like you’re going to fill the magazine up with these things; the unfired cartridges slide right out without any effort and would surely bind in the magazine and action. This baby is relegated to break-open style guns or single-shot use out of a repeating shotgun.


I couldn’t wait to try this thing out on the range. Reviews I’d read said not expect much in the accuracy department; I didn’t. Lots of factors effected this in my mind: lack of rifling was the biggie, along with the short barrel length, and the lack of precise aiming equipment on the shotgun; all I have on my test 870 is a Meprolight tritium bead. Not exactly a 12 power Leupold…


…but it would have to suffice. With a pistol-caliber cartridge like the .357 Magnum, you have to be realistic: you’re probably not going to be making 100-yard head shots on running antelope. I envision the use of this to be close-range defense to be used in lieu of precious shotgun shells, putting down a nuisance/sick animal perhaps, or one you have in a trap or snare. Maybe with bigger calibers that pack more horsepower, you could hunt deer at close ranges in my mind. But that depends largely on how it performs on target.


My son and I loaded up the gear, and a target stand and some targets, along with a handful of the aforementioned Winchester 125-grn JHP rounds, and a box of .38 Special +P handloads: a 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter (LSWC) at about 850-900 feet per second. After setting up the target stand with targets and getting everything and everyone ready for a hot range, I paced off 10 paces, about 30-32 feet, depending on how sprightly I feel. I slipped in a .38 handload, dropped the works in the chamber of the 870, and closed the action. Everything locked up fine, the shotgun went fully into battery.


I lined up a steady 6 o’clock hold on the target (putting the aiming point of the target directly ABOVE the bead. It makes aiming more precise when your sighting device covers the target) and slowly pressed the trigger. Pop! The round went off, with practically no recoil. It was pretty underwhelming, actually…but hey, there was a hole in the target, surprisingly close to the bullseye, as well! Interesting. I slowly opened the action – the adapter engaged the extractor on the bolt just fine and the ejector popped it out of the ejection port with no fuss.


The fuss came when I tried to use my fingernail to extract the spent case. NOPE. A stiff shake. NOPE. Finally I pulled the felt-tip pen that I was using to mark the target out of my pocket (never did like prying with the point of a knife) and pushed it down the muzzle end of the adapter. With a tap, the .38 case dropped out. Folks, this is definitely not a rapid-fire setup. We eventually settled on a locally-sourced (read: the ground at my feet) free-range organic stick to pop the empties out of the adapter. I will say that after about 50 rounds, the empty cases usually dropped out with a firm shake or a tap on a rock…maybe a little bit of firing residue made the difference?


I repeated the process two more times for a three-shot, 10-yard group:


You’ll notice two things about this group: #1: actually pretty damn good accuracy; far better than I’d expected. The black Shoot-N-C target is 6 inches in diameter, making the 3-shot group under two inches. That’s not terrible, folks: that’s minute-of-rabbit and possibly squirrel if you can get either to sit still long enough to draw a bead and really concentrate on trigger control with crappy shotgun triggers.


The big thing you should notice, though, is that the bullet holes aren’t round. If you look carefully, the bottom two are pretty much exact outlines of the profile of a .38 Special bullet. Yep, they struck the target SIDEWAYS. These bullets are “tumbling”, or spinning end-over-end due to improper stabilization from an oversized bore and no rifling. At 30 feet, this isn’t too much of an issue, however, accuracy will almost certainly degrade very quickly as the range increases. It also means that the bullet will not strike the target nose-on, which is the way bullets are designed to strike; hollow-point bullets only expand if they push into target substrate hollow-point first; same with jacketed soft point bullets. So, you certainly will not get the terminal effectiveness that you could get with a properly-oriented bullet. I COULD make an argument that tumbling bullets will continue to tumble through target flesh and bones (the 5.56mm military cartridge was supposedly designed to do this to help make up for its small diameter), but if I have a dedicated high-performance hollow-point bullet, I’d like it to work as intended. However, knowing that the bullets tumble, I will in the future use heavier, longer full-metal jacketed or all-lead bullets that will be more terminally effective with tumbling. Work with what you got, right?


We stepped back to 15 yards and I let my son give the setup a go.



He thought the whole idea was pretty cool, and really enjoyed the adapter. His groups at 15 yards were almost as good as mine at 10:



Again, a nice consistent tight group, and again, more tumbling. But the accuracy was really far better than I’d hoped for by a long shot. I’d expected the group size to increase exponentially, but it was staying clustered together nicely. So we stepped back to 25 yards, and I got behind the 870 again. I loaded up the Winchester 125-gran JHPs. Holy crap; three shots went into almost the same hole at 25 yards! So, we went back to 40 yards to see how things worked at what I’d previously considered to be “yeah, right” distance. I was getting a bit more optimistic, I will admit.

This time, I sat down to make sure I was getting consistent accuracy with a solid seated position. Again, 6 o’clock hold, really working the trigger produced better than expected results. I fired 5 shots this round.



You can see the .357 25-yard group at upper left; the 5-shot 40-yard group is laid out in thick magic marker outline. We were now getting to be the outside edge of the practical range for the adapter. The group was about 8-9” across at its widest point; the vitals area of a mature whitetailed deer is generally considered to be about that size. I was very pleased with the group, however. I’d fully expected to be off the paper completely at this distance; yet rather I got a useful-sized group that shows decent consistency reasonably close to the point of aim.

For yuks ‘n’ giggles, we opened up at a large prominent rock at the opposite bank of the sandpit.


Yeah, forget about it. The bullets hit the ground about 6-10 feet in front of the target, and then bounced into the bank in a depressingly huge pattern. Even with the proper holdover to get the bullets to impact the target area, you’d be lucky to hit a 15-passenger van or a literal barn door at 125 yards. At 75 yards you’d be lucky to hit a normal-sized entry door to a house.



I must say, I was very surprised by this milled-out hunk of steel. I went in expecting this to be a close-to-useless range toy or conversation starter, but ended up walking away thinking there was actually some utility to this chamber adapter.


Granted, you have an envelope to work inside: I’d say 40, 45 yards MAXIMUM is the effective range of this adapter in .357 or .38 Special. Its limiting factor is the short “barrel” length and complete lack of rifling to stabilize the projectile. Sights (or lack thereof) MAY have been holding back the accuracy a bit, but not much. At 45 yards, the bead of a shotgun at a 6 o’clock hold worked reasonably well – and I’d be willing to bet that most prepper-utilized shotguns will have a standard bead-type sight. I have plans in the works to mount a red dot electronic sight to a shotgun soon; I’ll post a report (with velocities) eventually to see if it actually helped.

If all I has was my 12-gauge, you can bet sure as hell that I’d have these adapters in a couple common calibers, such as .22 LR, 9mm, .38/.357, and maybe something like .45 ACP or .44 Magnum. With every adapter you purchase, you increase ammo availability exponentially. Sure, you won’t have a rapid-fire tactical shotgun, but for the guy who owns a farm or who only wants one gun that’s not a “black gun” so he doesn’t cause a stir, this is a great way to increase your effectiveness with a single firearm. I can see the maximum effectiveness with these adapters coming from a break-open type shotgun with no ejectors; if you only have one adapter, you don’t want it to go flinging over your shoulder at high velocity in the woods after you take a shot at the only meat you’ve seen in days. Keep it captive in the chamber (a rubber O-ring system would really help here…hint, hint, Tru-Bore) and have a small flat headed screwdriver or dedicated prying tool to pop the empties out and you’ll up your fire rate quite a bit. This adapter would work out beautifully for the man with a double shotgun: a side by side or over/under. One barrel would have a standard shotshell in case of a flying bird, the other a chamber adapter with a caliber that offers more punch and precision in case of a deer, coyote, or badguy pops up.

There’s really no down side to having one of these and a handful of pistol-caliber cartridges in your shotgun kit. For 31 bucks, it was worth every penny in my book. I reload for the .357 Magnum, and have several handguns in that caliber – and it’s a very popular caliber here in rural Maine, so ammo should almost always be around or at the very least not a hassle to obtain or load for.

Bottom line: Chamber adapters increase the utility and versatility of your shotgun, and therefore your survival probability in a SHTF situation. I’m getting more. If you have a shotgun, you’d have a hard time making an argument to NOT get one or two to keep with your survival kit.

What do you think? A ridiculous piece of gear that’s not worth your time, or would you now give one a whirl? Do any of our readers utilize these, and is so, how do your results stack up against mine? I’d love to hear about it; sound off in the comments below!


As a side note: you love shooting, right? So why wouldn’t your kids? Be sure to take your children (or, if you don’t have children, take your nephews, nieces, neighbors, whomever!) to the range with you. Teach them to respect the power of the firearm, and how to handle one with the utmost safety and concern for human life. If you start young and teach them properly, you’ll have someone who’s with you all the time who you can trust with a firearm, and a hunting/foraging buddy whose company you’ll always enjoy, and will help you drag game out of the woods, or just provide quality companionship while plinking empty soda cans with .22s at the range. I started my son when he was 7, and now, many years later, he is a fine shot and a respectful, safe young man with a firearm; I couldn’t be prouder.

So get out there, have fun, train, and BE SAFE!



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Seven Reasons Your Bug-Out Will Fail

The S has HTF and you’re ready to bug-out.  You grab your stuff and hit the road and ride off into the sunset, happy to be alive.  Right? Hold on a minute.  Let’s make sure you’re not making a mistake that could derail your bug-out. Here are seven reasons your bug-out might not go as well as you hoped.

  1. Failure to Act

The first one is a failure to act.  You might have the best bug-out plan ready to go, but if you miss the cues of when to leave you might be trapped in your current location with bad things about to happen.  Recognize when it’s time to get out of dodge.  Some of this is going to come from the media in the case of a natural disaster.  Listen to the radio and news stations and if they say it’s time to get out of Dodge you better load up the truck and move out.

In the case of something like civil unrest, a market or money collapse, rioting, or anything caused by your fellow man you’ll have to keep a close eye on the situation.  It comes down to what you can bear.  If you have a low threshold for danger it might be a good idea for you to leave as soon as you suspect something is going to happen.  For those of you who have work and/or family pressures or a spouse that doesn’t believe in prepping and thinks you’re foolish for even considering moving out, you’ll have to have a higher tolerance.  At some point there will be a kick-off event that will decide for you when to leave.  Let’s hope it’s not too late at that point.

Just remember that the longer you wait the more likely you are to be sharing the roads out of town with a bunch of other scared refugees.

When you decide it’s time to leave don’t screw around.  Get moving!  In the case of a quick bug-out you need to be prepared to move fast.  During my time in the service we used to bug-out when the CO went around and started yelling CSMO!  That stands for Close Station March Order and it meant to pack up all the gear and get out of the current position as fast as we could.

If you have your plan laid out and your BOB’s are ready to go then it’s just a matter of throwing stuff in the BOV (bug-out vehicle) and exiting stage left.

2. Inadequate BOV

The BOV you use should depend on the situation.  I’ve heard folks saying they’ll bug-out using a bicycle, which is fine.  But if you’re trying to get out of a city on a bicycle and there’s a tsunami coming, or you’re trying to move through a riot in progress you might be in trouble.  Make sure the BOV you choose is adequate to the task.

Having said that not everybody has a HMMVW in the garage waiting for the day the economy collapses causing you to flee the city with the ring-mounted .50 cal M2 blazing away from the gun port.  Most of you reading this are ordinary Americans driving minivans, passenger cars, or any one of the thousands of passenger cars out there.  This means you need to adapt your bug-out plan to whatever vehicle you’ll be driving, which can be a compromise to the situation.

If you look around the area in which you live you can probably come up with a few likely scenarios of why you might have to bug-out.  For example:  if you live near a railroad maybe one of your scenarios revolves around a chemical leak.  If it’s a small town your car is probably more than adequate for this type of situation.  Or maybe you live in hurricane country along the coast, in which case you’ll want to avoid any Katrina type storms like the plague.  In most bug-out situations you’ll want to move fast, unless you’ve exercised your judgment to leave early.

However, living in a city will present a whole other list of issues and I’ll address this is another post.

3.  Poor Route Planning

Do you have a plan for your bug-out?  Have you thought through all the possible scenarios?  If you’re getting out of Dodge in your vehicle have you prepared a good route and a few alternate routes?  Because if you’re in a city and you’re taking the main artery out of town guess what?  A million other people will be doing the same thing.  My idea of surviving is not being stuck in traffic when the tsunami rolls in destroying everything in its path.

Make a detailed plan of your escape route and have it written down along with some alternate routes.  Take the time to actually drive the route and make notes in a notebook about what you see.  ”Big bridge six miles out of town over fast moving water.  It might collapse or cause a jam up during an ice out.  Or maybe it’s a tactical situation where some group is holding the bridge and not letting anybody through.  (Don’t think that would happen here in the U.S.  Did you forget about the bridge into Gretna and how the cops shut it down to refugees?)  There’s a less traveled bridge two miles south in case of emergency.  Take Route 3 south to Old Town Road to bypass.”  If you don’t make notes there’s a good chance you’ll forget about it when you have to use it.  Or maybe you’ll be incapacitated and your significant other or a friend will be at the wheel.  If they have good notes to go by they might just save your butt.

Make sure your BOV is up to the route.  As you do a dry run over the escape route ask yourself questions as you go depending on the various scenarios you could expect.  I might ask myself, “If I had to move during a blizzard would my vehicle make it to the next town over?”  Answer:  in my minivan hell no, but in my pickup with the plow attachment I just might be able to get the ten miles in order to save myself and the family.  Maybe you live in a flood zone and might have to drive through water up to your hub caps.  Could your vehicle make it?

4.  Tactical Negligence

This is a tough one and not a lot of people think a lot about it.  What I mean by tactical is the ability to move you or a group of people safely through an area without being deterred by your fellow man.  During a disaster of any kind there will be people looking out for each other because there are a lot of good people out there, but there are always a few scumbags looking to capitalize on others.  Or sometimes it could just come down to a family that hasn’t prepped deciding to go next door to the family that has and taking their stuff at gun point.  People will do bad things when desperate.

One of the big ones is OPSEC or Operational Security.  It’s a military term that means don’t go blabbing your plans to anybody.  If you tell one person, that person will tell someone else.  And that someone else might mention it to another someone else and so on.  OPSEC can also be compromised by having a truckload of freeze dried food delivered to your house in the middle of a busy neighborhood.  People notice things that go on in tight communities.  I’m not saying don’t get prepared, just use a little discretion when doing so.  And don’t go telling your neighbors about your preps either.  Friends have seen my pantry and invariably they’ll say, “Well, if anything ever happens I’m coming over here.”  Guess what, I won’t be rolling out the welcome mat to any schmoe that shows up on my doorstep.

Another area you might have to worry about is armament.  Americans love guns and sometimes it seems like everybody and their little sister has one.  Having a great bug-out vehicle and lots of preps might be for nothing if you get held up before you can get out of town.  Be prepared to defend your family, yourself, and your stuff if necessary.  Some people might ask if you’d really shoot someone for a vehicle or a sleeping bag.  Here’s what I say about that.  If that vehicle or sleeping bag is critical to keeping you and your family alive and someone is trying to take it from you then you have the obligation to defend it.  It may sound stupid, but your gear may what is standing between you and death.  If that’s the case and you have the means and skill to protect it I’d say it’s your right.  Having said that, if it means putting yourself or your family in mortal danger don’t be afraid to bail and let them have the stuff.  You can always attempt to get more, but if you’re dead you won’t be able to try.

5.  Poor Planning

When you plan for a bug-out you have to take into account all the variables that your situation brings with it.  Do you have young kids?  Pets?  Older people to look after?  Special medical needs?  Special fuel requirements for you BOV?

I have two small kids and walking any distance with them is a pain.  The oldest can walk by himself for a while, but the 2 ½ year old can’t go any significant distance.  Last year I took the family up a mountain with a full bug-out bag on my back (about 50 lbs for me) and we set up a little camp, made a fire, heated up some noodles and coffee, and generally chilled out for an afternoon.  It was a lot of fun.  Then came the hike down mountain.  My wife carried the baby and then my son (4 at the time) needed to be carried after walking a short distance.  I picked him up and carried him in my arms while wearing the back pack and we made it down the mountain.  This type of activity uses a lot of calories and you need to be in good shape to do it.  It would be exceedingly difficult to do this for any amount of time.

At that point I decided it would be very difficult for us to do any kind of bug-out on foot and re-thought the whole situation.  The gear I carried was enough for me and the missus for a day or two, but have you ever taken two or three young kids to the beach for a day?  Baby bags, diapers, bottles, wipes, extra clothes, toys, etc.  And that’s just for the afternoon!  Imagine trying to do this for a week, on foot and moving through harsh terrain and weather, with two or more little ones.

This meant I’d have to find a way to move my family without moving on foot if at all possible.  I have a four door 4 wheel drive pickup that I’d use in most situations.  The worst scenario for me would be having to move after a CME or some other event has fried all the electronics.  Ironically, it would be easier for me to move the whole family in the winter on sleds than in any other season.  My wife and I are quite skilled on snow shoes and pulling a couple of sleds would be manageable.  Other than that we’d probably be reduced to pulling a crude cart like they do in “The Road.”   We might be able to bicycle once the kids are a little older, but until then I’m just crossing my fingers that nothing bad happens.  (And even then I’ll be keeping them crossed.)

For older people you have to take into account meds, their ability to move, their mental state, and things like that.  If someone has Alzheimer’s disease it will be very difficult to move them.  If they have heart disease or diabetes or any other condition that needs constant medication you’ll have to make sure there’s a way to carry that medication while keeping it cold, or whatever conditions it might need to be stored in.

Do they have a cane or walker?  Are they confined to a wheel chair?  Plan, plan, plan

6.  Bug-Out Location

Many people think they’ll bug-out to the woods and live off the land for a few weeks until things blow over.  Let me put this notion to rest for you right now.  You won’t be able to survive off the land for very long.  Very few of you reading this might have the skills to do this, but the vast majority will starve to death in a relatively short period of time.  Do yourself a favor and find a relative, or friend, or a shelter, or a camp, or some place you can go to in case of an emergency.  Have some cash on-hand in case you need to stay at a hotel.  Whatever it is don’t try and convince yourself that you can survive in the woods for an unrealistic amount of time.

An ideal bug-out location would have a source of running water, be fairly well hidden, easily defendable, and if you have neighbors that think the same way you do there’s always strength in numbers.  Another good idea is to know exactly what resources you have on the property, which means you’ll need to get out and recon on it.  I know the woods behind my house like the back of my hand.  If things went to Hell and I was driven out of my house and had to hit the woods there are many good spots to hole up for awhile until I can get a plan together to get the house back.  If you haven’t hiked an area it’s just a great big black hole until you get out there.  I’ve gone so far as to draw rough maps of resources such as camps I’ve set up, streams, bogs, old logging roads, etc.  It’s nice to have something like this so you can look at it and know exactly where things are.

Do you plan to cut off any roads in to your area if the balloon goes up?  Do you have the resources to do it?  How many people can you rely on to help you out?  Or are you going it alone and hope not to be discovered?

7.  Unrealistic Expectation Of What Camping Out Is

Let’s say that worst comes to worst and you have nowhere else to go, but to the woods.  Many people have no idea what an extended stay in the field is actually like.  Many of you with military backgrounds probably get it.  Ever hiked the Appalachian Trail?  Then you know what I’m talking about.  But if your idea of getting outdoors experience is watching back to back episodes of Dual Survivor you have a tragic wakeup call ahead of you. Get out there and test your gear.  Spend a weekend, or better yet a week, in the bush.  I’m not talking about camping at the local campground, I’m talking about hitting the back woods with a backpack and doing it Alpine Style.  Not only is this a good test of your gear you’ll also start to appreciate what it takes to live in the woods.  It’s hard, folks.  Living without electricity and running water sucks.

You’ll also get a good idea of just how far you can hike that heavy BOB you have in the closet.  If you try to hike a 70 lb. bag any distance when you’ve never done it before it will likely kill you before you’ve gone a mile.  Get realistic about what you need for gear and pack only what you need.


Now you have a few things to look at when planning your bug-out.  This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should get you started in the right direction.  Remember the 5 P’s (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance) and you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to a real exodus from your area.

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

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Are YOU ready?