For most of us, the sun is something we take for granted and don’t spend too much time thinking about, it’s just always been there. But the power of the sun is a resource you need to know about.
Have you ever calculated how much energy it takes to power your home currently and what you would do if the power grid you depend on suddenly failed? Consider how your life and the lives of your family would change, if the power grid we all rely on were suddenly just unavailable.
Even if you believe for some reason that the power grid will stay up and running no matter what, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little extra spending money in your pocket every month? If you didn’t have to pay a power bill every month of the year, what else could you and your family do with that money?
This is where the power of the sun can come into play…
Calculating the Power of the Sun
But how much power does the sun have? Is it really enough to sustain our world power needs? According to several sources, the density of the sun’s energy by the time it reaches the Earth’s surface is approximately 1,000 watts per square meter under ideal conditions, which means a clear day in a sea level location and measured on a perpendicular surface.
Anyone looking to reduce their reliance on public utilities, including homesteaders interested a sustainable life and preppers looking for ways to survive long-term following a SHTF event, can benefit greatly from learning to harness the power of the sun. To truly create a more sustainable lifestyle, it’s important to remember not only all the ways our ancestors harnessed the power of the sun in the past but what types of solar powered technologies loom on the horizon.
We’ve made a list below of just some of the many ways energy from the sun can make our lives more self-sustainable and reduce the dependence on a vulnerable power grid.
Cooking with the sun is a skill that every homesteader and prepper should know. Whether you use a store-bought solar grill, solar oven or make one yourself, the sun can be a great resource for cooking meals. In a pinch, you can even use the sun’s power to heat rocks to use to boil water or even fry an egg.
Heating Water is another task that can be accomplished with help from the power of the sun. This can be done through something simple like a plastic water tank painted black and left in the sun to warm, an outdoor solar shower setup, or even solar powered hot water to your home in the right climates. Using the power of the sun, you can even make your own solar-powered hot water heater.
Distilling Water is one of the main ways to purify water. Following a SHTF event the ability to purify water will be key to your long-term survival. There are multiple ways to distill water using the power of the sun, many of which can be accomplished with very few materials.
Generating Power from the sun for electronics and appliances is another major way to use the power of the sun to reduce our reliance on the power grid. If you haven’t yet explored the topic of solar energy, it’s definitely something to look into for your homestead or post-SHTF planning.
We’ve all heard about solar panels to power your home. If you’re the DIY type, you make your own solar panels or build a solar generator. There are even solar powered window sockets and chargers which stick to your home or car window and convert the power of the sun into electricity to charge your electronics.
Produce Light by harnessing the power of the sun with solar powered yard lights, lanterns, and even security lighting for your home. There are even solar powered blinds, called blights, in development right now.
The blights are made with solar panels that charge during the day and then give off light for the interior of your home as the sun sets. Developers in other countries have piloted solar trees (video demonstration), which not only provide light at night but can provide power for charging cell phones and wifi access.
Heat Your Home using the power of the sun. There are a number of ways to do this including using skylights and south-facing windows in conjunction with materials such as stone and concrete that absorb and radiate heat. Just think about how warm a greenhouse can get when the sun is shining even in the wintertime. You can harness all that sunlight, convert it to heat and warm your home.
Dry Clothes using the sun just by laying or hanging items outside in the sunshine. This is something our ancestors did before electric powered dryers. Yes, it’s not as convenient but once you get a good system and routine, it can work just as well. And sunlight is a natural fabric freshener too!
Killing Bacteria using the sun is an age-old trick. If you have something that has gotten wet and smells like mildew or mold, wash it thoroughly and then set it outside in the sunlight for several hours.
Dehydrating Food is another thing that can be done utilizing the intense power of the sun. You can buy solar powered dehydrators, or you can make your own using a series of screens to prevent the bugs from invading your food. Dehydrating for your stockpile is a great way to preserve all types of foods including meats, fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs. Preserving food by dehydrating gives it a longer shelf life and has the extra benefit of making it lighter and more compact for storing.
Fueling a Car with the power of the sun is something that could significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We already have hybrid cars available that are able to run on electricity. According to Futurism, a vehicle that runs on solar power is seen here:
Lightyear One and its team of innovators were recently awarded a Climate Change Innovator Award. The first group of cars are due out in 2019.
When thinking about how to harness the power of the sun for your home, be sure to think outside the box. The power of the sun is being harnessed for many new solar inventions (video demonstration) all around the world, many of which haven’t even become well known yet.
In what ways are you using the power of the sun to become less reliant on an unstable power grid? Which of the methods above are something you can commit to integrating for your home over the next six months? Share your comments below and let us know if you’ve heard of a way to harness the sun’s rays.
Ask any prepper what they consider to be their foundational piece of kit and they’ll almost always say their BOB or Go-Bag. Sure, a few switched-on mindset-focused types will answer “my brain,” and they aren’t wrong, but I am speaking specifically about equipment, not wetware.
The BOB is the cornerstone of most preppers’ planning and organization because it enables survival across a wider variety of domains and situations than just the clothes on one’s back. A packed bug out bag at the ready or close at hand means your chances of enduring a sticky situation just went up. The BOB contains implements to cover all requirements necessary to life in a crisis, and assures you’ll have shelter, food, water, light, security and more when you need it. Wherever you can park yourself and access the blessed BOB’s contents, you are home.
With so much necessary equipment in one piece of luggage, it begs the question: what will happen should you lose it, or be forced to ditch it to accomplish some necessary task? How well will you fare with just your wits and whatever is in your pockets, if anything? Do you have all your eggs in one basket when it comes to your equipment? Should you take precautions to make recovery of your bag easier?
If you have not done so already, it is high time you consider what you’ll do in the event you are temporarily or permanently separated from your BOB, and some procedures to minimize the loss.
Skill Does Trump Gear, But the Gear Sure Does Help
More than a few preppers will, in response to the question I just proposed, confidently, dare I say arrogantly assert that they are veteran bushcrafters, outdoorsman of the highest order, born again pioneers, and they can positively absolutely live off the land with nothing more than their trusty knife, and maybe not even that. A very rare one or two of them may even be right.
These most rugged of survivors can probably craft a small cabin in a few days time, harvest enough wild game to sustain them for the winter and treat any ailments or vitamin deficiencies with natural supplements from wild plants, roots and so forth. When spring approaches, he will emerge well-fed and hardy with a fine longbow and supply of arrows. The problem for the rest of us is that, lacking the convenience, certainty and labor-saving perks of modern gear, you’ll be expending drastically more energy, and time to accomplish the same things, and lacking significant practice and experience, may not be able to perform vital tasks without purpose-made tools.
You should absolutely be practicing primitive skills and austere conditions survival, no doubt. But the assertion that one will be “fine” in the wild when SHTF with no or minimal gear is a boast that most absolutely cannot live up to. The difficulty and effort required to be truly self-sufficient in nearly any climate means even a minor curveball or injury can have fatal consequences.
If you need a fire right now, it is a small matter to gather suitable fuel, place your tinder and strike a match or lighter. A little harder but still simple is doing the same but sparking a fire steel. Lastly, you can start a fire through friction, using a primitive technique of your choice, but you’ll be sweating like a man condemned and possibly shivering while you do it. Same thing with shelter; you could gather or cut down saplings and branches, same with leaves, boughs and so on, and whip up a small shelter to help trap some of your newly created heat, but this will be at least an hour in the making.
Compare that to just setting up a flyweight tent or even a simple reflective blanket that would let you both get warm, and get recuperative rest faster with less stress than either of the mentioned old-school survival methods. I’m in no way arguing against learning and practicing those skills. You should be! But when survival is on the line, modern equipment is far from some cushy luxury; the efficiency and ease it affords may be the difference between life and death. You took the time to set yourself up for success, after all.
All of the above and more is the reason you must not treat the loss or potential loss of your BOB as anything short of disastrous. Sure, you might have caches here and there that you can resupply from, and bravo to you for being that far ahead of the power curve, but if you have some ways to go in order to get to them, especially through an environment made hostile by man or nature, you may never reach it. So with all that said, what should you do to minimize the chances that you’ll lose your bag and all of the life-saving gear it contains?
Causes of Equipment Loss
BOBs and other gear could go missing or get destroyed in all kinds of ways. This could happen before, during or after the onset of a crisis. Whatever happens to it, your BOB will either be recoverable or non-recoverable. If you can do so safely, you should make every effort to get it back. If you cannot, you must weigh the risks of giving up essential gear against risk of harm or death.
Prior to an event, your BOB could go missing if stolen from your home or vehicle. The onset of disasters like a wildfire, flood or other weather event could see your BOB destroyed before you get to it, or made inaccessible due to a collapsed structure or crunched car. The latter instance may mean it is recoverable.
During the aftermath, you may be shaken down for supplies and food by desperate survivors or outright brigands. A carjack type scenario may see you lose your transportation and everything in it. Chances are you will not be able to recover a BOB taken from you by force without risking death. When camped or otherwise resting a sneaky burglar might make off with your BOB and more without resorting to violence, still leaving you high and dry. Attempting to track them is an entirely different topic. Depending on their head start, it might be impossible.
Simply losing your pack is always a possibility, either in the dark, or from strap failure that may dump your pack and contents into an inaccessible place. Things happen. The bad guys get a vote. Mr. Murphy comes a calling. If you are careful, quick and use good gear, it might not ever happen. Best to have a plan in case it does. If you are mugged for your bag, will you risk a lethal confrontation to protect it? If it is snatched, will you pursue? How much effort, time and risk are you willing to put in to recover a lost or inaccessible bag? Think about these scenarios before they occur.
Consider Carrying Levels of Equipment
Levels of equipment meaning locating some of your kit on your body either in pockets, on the belt, or in a chest rig, thigh pouch, or other “subload” on the thigh. This concept is handily borrowed from the military concept of 1st, 2nd and 3rd line gear, with higher levels of gear equating to a greater load and also greater capability, usually oriented toward sustainment.
This concept is great when practiced as a rule because it ensures that, barring you are stripped or have your clothes torn open in a brawl with a bear or errant cactus patch, you’ll have the most basic necessities on your person, hopefully enough to allow you to survive until you can resupply or recover your BOB.
For starters, consider your pockets and belt line. Between these locations you can easily carry or store a pistol, spare magazine, multitool, flashlight, knife, basic first aid kit, fire-making tool, a food item like an energy gel shot or nutrition bar, tiny compass and a little more. Those items will keep you safe and warm, provide calories, banish darkness and let you process what you need to create shelter, even if it is rough going with just a knife and multitool.
Your next level, on a chest rig, thigh pouch or smaller, supplementary bag, would hold items geared towards making your life a little easier and enabling you to survive a little longer. Things like a proper fire-starting kit, water purification item, maps, additional “nice-to-have” medical items like meds and additional bandages or gauze, a few more ration items including electrolyte powder, gloves if you aren’t wearing them, a headlamp, spare batteries, tarp and space blanket, and folding saw or light hatchet.
You’ll notice that these items supplement what you are already carrying and expand your capabilities. If you had what was in your pockets and subload and nothing else, you would not be doing too badly at all.
A word of warning: some of you who have not until this point considered any additional load carriage solutions may be feeling mildly giddy with potential by now: you can bring all those extra things you were forced to leave out of the pack itself! Not so fast; remember that ounces make pounds and pounds make pain. You must, must, must justify everything you bring against a weight budget, and ergo your energy budget. Moving more weight burns more calories and incurs greater fatigue, fatigue that adds up. Consider what you decide to include carefully.
Now let’s add your main pack, the BOB itself. Within it you will keep your primary water supply, shelter, additional food, weapons or ammo, tools, hygiene and mess kit, camping stove and fuel, full medical or trauma kit, additional clothes and insulation appropriate to the climate and season.
Notice again how we are essentially climbing a ladder of sorts when it comes to equipage and capability. That is by design. Please note that the list of items is not comprehensive, and everyone has their own idea of what fits where. Some folks will not consider parting with a canteen or water bottle holder on the beltline or a water bladder on their back at all times. Others don’t like cluttering their waist with extraneous items and will go with a larger chest rig instead.
That’s all fine. The principle is to get you dialed in a multilayered approach to equipment distribution to ensure you always have something from one of our primary survival needs categories on your person so long as you have your pants on!
Addressing a Possible Bug Out Bag Loss
You might be thinking you won’t lose yours by any of the ways I mentioned above because you never take it off or let anyone sneak up on you. Ha, right! You’ll want to sit or sleep sometime, and no doubt the straps on your pack will eventually feel like they are going to bisect you no matter how ultralight your kit is.
Realty is you may not get a vote in the matter at all. Simple accident or equipment failure may lead to loss of your pack as discussed earlier, anything from a busted strap or handle, leaving it laying when forced on the run, ditching it to minimize contamination risks, forced to hand it over at gun point, etc., etc. The list goes on. Heck, you may set it down in the dark and misplace it! Stress and fatigue can scramble even the sharpest brains.
Your first step toward mitigating this scenario is simply ensuring your “Level 1” kit, the things on your belt and in your pockets is as comprehensive as possible. It is tough to lose something attached to your body in such a way unless you are forced to part with it.
Second, you might consider a few methods to make your BOB easier to spot to prevent loss from chaos or mishap. Reversible marker panels are a good idea, as is tying a conspicuously colored cloth or bandana on to it. For dark conditions, a snap light with cover or pouch is a fair idea. A locking carabiner or sturdy strap can help prevent loss when moving by vehicle, or potentially securing your bag from being swept away or snatched, but it also means you will be slower to don it when required.
If you are raising your hand preparing to cite me for security risk, hold that thought: it is up to you to weigh your threats against the risk of loss. For plenty, risk of simple loss may very well be a greater concern than overall concealment. If the opposite is the case for you, act accordingly. There is no way I could even pretend to anticipate what you’ll be facing even in a given crisis. Use your head.
Cache is King?
Whether or not you should take the time to hide primary or contingency resupply caches is a discussion all its own. If you do decide to lay in supplies either at your preselected destination or along your possible routes of egress you have a good chance of being able to replace or supplement your BOB and other carried gear in the event of loss, simply expending supplies, or being forced to leave hastily before you are able to pack and jock up.
Your caches should be supplied in such a way that each is similar to your levels of carried gear; each one, big or small, is its own cross-section of the equipment and provision covering the needs of survival. So in the event you are starting with absolutely nothing except the clothes on your back (maybe not even that!) once you access a cache you’ll improve your situation across the board. A spare pack, even a small one, located with each cache can serve as valuable backups, overflow luggage, or spares to handoff to a member of your group.
The alternatives, either placing caches as dedicated hides of one type or category of gear may necessitate long travels to get needed supplies, or be impossible depending on prevailing conditions. This will also mean a destroyed, inaccessible or compromised site will not mean a total loss of one category of gear or provision.
Deciding to cache gear is a personal choice and should only be undertaken in support of your strategic survival plans. Don’t go burying or hiding good gear around the countryside haphazardly, and remember you will need tools to dig them up!
Loss of a BOB in a survival situation is a demoralizing blow to your state of readiness. It does not have to spell certain death, however. Through a combination of smart load placement, mindfulness of your bag and surroundings, and perhaps a few smartly hidden stashes of gear, you can prepare against the loss or theft of the item you chose to prepare you for the worst day of your life.
It isn’t paranoia, it is simple redundancy, and redundancy saves lives.
In the wake of a truly society-ending event, everything you know will be different. Well, not everything; need will remain. Need always remains. As long as you live you’ll still need food, water, shelter and security. Personal security in the modern era, even in a post-collapse scenario is best provided by a gun. Your wits and your foresight will help you get the other things you need, but it is the gun that will help you keep them after all pretense of civility has vanished along with most of humanity.
Coming up with a gun will likely not be too hard in North America, but the trick will be keeping it loaded and firing. Aside from what people who can handload are able to produce with the gunpowder, primers and other components they have left in their inventory, there will be no production of ammunition, or what is will be greatly limited and vigorously controlled. Assuming you had a stash of ammunition and it brought you this far, it is likely running low.
Where can you look to find more ammo in this scavenger’s economy? What places in the ruined world may have a few boxes of shells sitting in a dusty corner with only the spiders for company? You can absolutely count on any common choice being long since picked over; gun stores, sporting good stores, armories, etc. Where else might you look to find some ammo in order to keep your gun running hot and yourself from going room-temperature?
This article assumes you have survived the onslaught and aftermath of a properly cataclysmic disaster, one that has disrupted or destroyed society utterly at a regional level at the least. The wholesale destruction and extreme loss of life will see many places and things abandoned and left to rot, and in such circumstances scavenging is ethically acceptable. The information presented in this article should only be considered under such circumstances, and not as a guide or approval to loot, steal or otherwise unethically procure ammunition or anything else.
Think Big Picture
Assuming you have the time and opportunity to prepare for such as the one we are discussing before it arrives, you can help your chances of finding ammunition by prepping smart. Making informed decisions about equipment that will best enable sustainability and longevity is a good play.
The best thing you can do is to store a ton of ammo for personal and group consumption. Ammo is easy to find when you know where you left it! A pallet or more of ammo sitting in the basement ready to load and fire is cold comfort when facing such a terrible outlook, but it is comforting all the same. The only disadvantage if you want to call it that to keeping so much ammo is that you will likely not be able to take it all with you if you have to move out on foot or by vehicle, even in a convoy.
Ammo is heavy for its size, and any one of you who has ever schlepped a case of rifle or shotgun ammo up and down stairs knows it. That case of 1,000 rounds may seem like a lot, but can go shockingly fast when used for training, zeroing, hunting and protection. Split among just two people, that is only 500 rounds apiece.
Don’t Be Special, Snowflake
Caliber selection is your other major concern for long term sustainment. Make it a point to choose a firearm that utilizes a cartridge that is as common as common gets: think 9mm for semi-auto handguns, or 5.56mm for rifles. Revolvers chambering .357 Magnum will fire both it and the .38 Special. A shotgun should be 12 gauge or bust. These are all extremely common cartridges made in extraordinary numbers year in and year out, increasing the chances that when you find a stash it will contain one of them.
If your gun is chambered in something more exotic like .357 SIG, 5.7x28mm, .45 GAP or 10mm Auto, you are going to be truly lucky to come across any out in the world. Dissecting the advantages and disadvantages of these oddball rounds, however great or small they may be, is a subject best left to other articles, but suffice to say none of them amount to much when the world has ended and they aren’t around at all. Logistical concerns are more important.
Another option is to have a selection of guns in common calibers to choose from, either bought ahead of time or by collecting ones you find. If you have something that will shoot whatever ammo you found, you are back in business. This has its own drawbacks; if traveling on foot, extra guns carried just-in-case will pack on the weight quickly. If you have to choose between a JIC gun or extra food, water and clothing for a long journey, you’ll need to weigh your needs carefully.
You’ll have more discretion if you are vehicle-borne or foraging close to home or a resupply point where you can drop what you find or don’t need. This applies double to long guns which are heavier and bulkier than handguns.
Any detachable magazine-fed firearm is dependent upon it for speedy shooting. Single loading rounds into their chambers can work in a major pinch, but is very clunky and failure prone. Make sure you have a good stash of mags for any gun that requires them. Again, choose guns of common pattern to make sure you can buy enough mags cheaply enough ahead of time and perhaps find more of them after the event.
Magazines are often ejected and dropped when guns are reloaded in an emergency. This is good tradecraft if you are in a hurry to get the gun reloaded. If you do this in a real fight, and prevail, you can always pick up your magazines later. However, if you only have one or two magazines, and lose or leave one, you will be up a creek. You might consider training to stow a partial or empty magazine back in a pocket or dump pouch on your person to help reduce loss in the field.
Guns with fixed magazines or multiple chambers don’t share this concern, but are not as fast to reload either, and usually do not have the capacity that a detachable magazine has. Revolvers, pump shotguns and bolt action rifles are still viable, however, and you should not turn your nose up at them if they are all you have access to. Learn to run them well while you can, even if they are not your gun of choice. That way if necessity ever forces you on one of them you will not be a complete beginner on their quirks.
Places Worth Investigating
When you start to run low on ammo, and all the usual places have been thoroughly scoured, you’ll need to get creative in your searches. Of course, should you happen upon a gun shop, sporting goods store, armory, or some other place that you’d expect to have ammo inside, it is worth a look no matter how long it has been since the world went mad.
You might discover a box or stray rounds that were over looked by less intensive scavengers, or perhaps you’ll just be lucky. At any rate, it cannot hurt to see but don’t count on it. Start assessing your locale, or rather your locale as it was before it was ruined or abandoned. Areas that are traditionally conservative in their values have more guns and a lot more ammo per capita than more liberal areas.
Areas that supported a lot of hunting or outdoor activity are also ones where you would be more likely to find ammo in a dwelling or vehicle. Start thinking about a few of the following locations and see if any are near you or worth investigating.
Traffic Jams and Abandoned Vehicles- Most people will not leave their vehicles willingly, so if they did you can probably rest assured that if they did, they did so either in a hurry or begrudgingly, and likely could not carry everything they brought with them.
Look for roadways full of stalled and abandoned cars. Prioritize your searching to pickups, SUV’s and any vehicle displaying conservative or other “right-wing” iconography like gun manufacturer stickers, NRA stickers and the like. Check all the usual hiding places. You might find loose rounds or loaded magazines.
Hunting Cabins and Shacks- If you are traveling through a forest or any area known for deep hunting activity, make a detour to the area where there might be a long abandoned hunter’s retreat. You can probably count on a box of ammo being stashed somewhere within and maybe a gun or two. Good place for rifle or shotgun ammo.
Take Care- Remotely sited dwellings are more likely to harbor survivors trying to weather the end the same as you. Be alert for any signs of habitation before approaching or entering. Most hunters especially are very handy with a scoped rifle…
Outdoor Ranges- Outdoor ranges, especially ones that do not sell guns, are often a ways off the beaten path, and most sell ammo. A fair few survivors will have forgotten about checking here versus proper gun shops and indoor ranges located near population centers.
If they have ammo stocked or no, you can go rummage around on the firing line and in trash cans looking for dropped rounds. Note that any cartridge exposed to the elements for a long period of time, especially in contact with the ground, is to be heavily suspected regarding function, but it may be them or nothing.
Indoor Ranges- Most of these stores will have been picked clean long ago, but the average scavenger will not thought to have checked the trash cans and brass bins on the firing line for live ammo. Plenty of less educated shooters might well have tossed a round that failed to feed or fire for whatever reason into the “misfire” bin, and it could be totally ok.
But many of the rounds you find in the bins will be duds or otherwise defective, so take care and perhaps relegate them to “second line” or “desperate measures” supplies as appropriate.
Sites of Major Gun Battles- It is macabre, but the aftermath of a major battle will often see plenty of usable equipment left behind. Do not assume the victors had enough time or manpower to collect any spoils, and likewise a mutual disengagement by both sides could see fallen comrades and their gear abandoned.
Check any found weapons for a round in the chamber, and any packs, vests and pouches on bodies or otherwise for loaded mags and loose ammo. Beware of lurkers and other scavengers around such places.
Prisons and Jails- Many of these facilities will have arms rooms or lockers. Some may be well fortified to prevent inmates from accessing them in the event of a breakout or prison takeover, but plenty are simply isolated from the detention blocks themselves, and barely hardened.
Most will probably be forgotten in the aftermath of a major crisis, so with time and tools, or a little snooping to find a key, you can get you mitts on what is likely to be a good stash of rifles, pistols or shotguns.
Any Installation or Complex with a Security Force- Cops and the military aren’t the only organizations that keep ammo on hand. Private concerns and business that have significant security force presences are worth checking on and likely overlooked.
Think places like power plants, some corporate headquarters, sensitive government installations, etc. Be sure and search thoroughly and don’t forget the vehicles.
Life after the end of society is no doubt grim, but it can be made worse yet of you don’t have a trusty shooting iron and ammo to feed it. Even when supplies are low and hope seems lost, keep your wits about you and turn to the locations I mentioned above. You might be presently surprised to find a box of shiny brass ready to keep you in the fight and get you a little farther down the road.
There are so many different reasons that people prep. This is partly because the reasons to prep depend greatly on your personal situation, your beliefs, and your skills. But the other main difference between many preppers is they type of event they are getting ready for.
Some preppers believe it’s a huge event like a solar flare or EMP, or that a global economic crash is looming. Still others are preparing for the next storm or other natural disaster. You’ve seen those Doomsday Prepper shows where the guy is spending all his time and money building an underground bunker for his family to hide in, right? Those are the more extreme examples of doomsday preppers.
But some preppers are focused primarily on being prepared for everyday emergencies, such as a power outage, a fall, an accident, a car break down, or a home invasion. These are your overprotective moms and dads who are always prepared with a first aid kit, a powerful flashlight, or a fire extinguisher when something goes wrong.
But no matter which event or series of events preppers believe is coming, they all fall into either the doomsday or everyday emergencies category. (I put natural disasters in the everyday emergencies category because they are typically a short-term impact and things go back to normal relatively quickly.)
So, which is really more important for prepping: Doomsday or Everyday emergencies? First, we’ll clarify the type of events in each of these categories and some general ways to plan for each of the categories, and then we’ll try to answer the question of which is more important to prep for and why.
These are the events that are more common and typically impact one individual, one family, or maybe just one neighborhood, or community. Although things may be chaotic during and immediately after the event, things get back to normal fairly quickly. In some cases, life may continue normally for others even though you personally are in upheaval.
The other important thing to understand about everyday emergencies is that they are often completely unpredictable. Luckily, there are some things you can do to increase your odds of surviving everyday emergencies if and when they happen, even if there isn’t a lot you can do to stop them from happening.
While you can’t everyone be completely prepared for every emergency that could come your way, there are a number of different actions you can take to ease the chaos and stress of everyday emergencies. Prepping for everyday emergencies generally involves a more short-term plan.
Be aware of the proper safety precautions related to any activity you participate in and follow them to minimize risk. You might be surprised at how little things such as wearing a seat belt when driving, life jacket when boating, motorcycle helmet when riding, or proper footwear when hiking, can minimize risk.
Purchase and install the proper monitoring and alarm equipment such as smoke detectors, a security system, fire escape ladders, a panic or safe room)
Understand everyday carry (EDC) and put together your own EDC kit.
Identify and purchase the proper insurances including car insurance, flood insurance, fire insurance, health insurance, and renter or homeowner insurance.)
Put together and EDC first aid kit and make sure it’s easily accessible at all times.
Plan and practice the proper safety drills for likely events in your area such as a wildfire, tornado, hurricane or events such as a home invasion, blackout, etc.)
Take steps to protect vital documents and valuables (cloud storage, flash drive, fireproof safe, plan for pets, etc.)
Plan to protect your property and home as much as possible. This can include things such as having storm shutters ready, installing window bars, clearing dead brush and bushes away from your home, and reinforcing door locks, etc.
Learn about first aid, CPR, and other medical interventions and practice so you are confident in your abilities and can spring into action when an emergency arises.
Create a plan to pay off debt and establish an emergency cash fund that can cover 3-6 months of expenses if you are injured, hospitalized, or must relocate.
Prepare and store a comprehensive car BOB so you are prepared to handle emergencies that may happen to/from home or work.
But if you focus all your time and energy on prepping for these more common emergencies, will you be prepared for a doomsday event when it comes?
These are the events or series of events that have the potential to change the world as we know it. Following a doomsday event, life will be extremely different in some way or often in multiple ways, for a huge percentage of the population.
Doomsday events are more widespread and impact a great number of people within a short period of time. Often times a doomsday event will impact entire states, regions, or even the entire globe. This means prepping for doomsday events must take into consideration that infrastructure, systems, and utilities we depend on will be overwhelmed or inoperable. Doomsday prepping is by nature more focused on long-term planning and survival.
Identify the potential threats related to the doomsday events you believe are most likely for your area.
Stockpile needed items such as water, food, water, medicines, weapons, etc.
Put together a get home bag (GHB) and a more extensive bug out bag (BOB) or get out of dodge (GOOD) bag.
Create a plan to bug in and/or bug out as needed.
Practice your bug out plan frequently and revise often to reflect new information and skills
Consider learning and practicing skills that will be in demand following a doomsday event.
Learn and practice self-defense and hunting using a variety of weapons.
Many people are extremely focused on doomsday prepping, but does this mean they are automatically ready to handle some of the more common everyday emergencies?
Final Word About Doomsday Prepping Versus Prepping for Everyday Emergencies
We’ve given you some ideas of things you can do to prepare for everyday emergencies and for large scale doomsday events. The lists above are general actions and are by no means comprehensive. Some of your preps for events in either category will also depend on whether you are trying to survive in an urban location or whether you prefer to survive in a more rural location.
When it comes down to which is more important for prepping: doomsday or everyday emergencies, I truly believe it’s best to prep with both types of events in mind. There are huge benefits to prepping for everyday emergencies and many of those preps will help you, at least somewhat, for a doomsday event. But if you are focused only on surviving a short-term emergency, you will have a difficult, if not impossible, road when faced with that aftermath of a doomsday event.
Instead of telling you to prep only for everyday emergencies or only for a doomsday event, I’m going to say do a little of both.
Make a list of the everyday emergencies you feel are most likely in your area and for your personal situation.
Then make a list of the doomsday scenarios that you feel are the most likely threats.
List the dangers for each of these situations or events.
Identify the common threats among both types of events.
Start prepping for these threats that overlap first.
Do you feel strongly that either prepping for doomsday or for everyday emergencies is more important? If so, share your thoughts below, we’d love to hear your reasons.
Whenever you think about prepping it is easy to think about the major SHTF disasters that everyone talks about often, such as nuclear strikes, major floods, EMPs and what have you.
But what disasters should we be preparing for the most? What is the thing that is most likely to force us into our preps for survival, or push us to our BOL? We need to take a look at what is most likely to affect us, and tailor our preps to meet the most important needs.
Loss of Income
The number one event that will alter our current way of life and could very well push us deep into our preps is a loss of income. Be it from losing a job, or some other cause, being prepared to lose your income by having emergency funds and supplies for at least 3 months, preferably a year, will keep you from scrambling if something happens to your cash flow.
Almost every day we travel to and from by car or truck. At any second, we could be in a major crash without warning and without fault on our part. With the explosion of distracted driving with people texting and driving and otherwise not paying attention to the road, we need to take our safety into our own hands.
Making sure you pay attention tot he road, and use your seat-belt can go a long way, but having an emergency kit in the vehicle, and a way of communicating in case of an emergency can also help.
Medical Emergency / Injury
Another event that can strike without notice or warning is a medical issue or severe injury. Breaking a leg or contracting a disease that leaves you bed ridden or hospitalized can wreak havoc on your life and finances, especially if you have others depending on you. Making sure we have good insurance and emergency funds can help reduce stress from these kinds of events.
Major Car Repairs
We depend on our vehicles to transport us to work, school, grocery stores, and everywhere else. They are complicated machines however, and sometimes they breakdown. Now, for most preppers a simple car repair wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but what if it was a major repair, or worse, couldn’t be repaired? Having plans for a back up vehicle, or a simpler bug out vehicle such as a bike, can come in handy if your main one decides to give out completely.
It can happen in a blink of an eye, and because of a thousand different things. House fires destroy homes and displaces families every hour of every day. You can not only lose your shelter, but also your preps. This is why it is vital to not store all your preps in one area.
Flood water contains an enormous amount of force, and can destroy entire neighborhoods. As weather patterns worsen across the nation, we are experiencing more and more heavy rainstorms. The water dumped by these storms swell streams and rivers to the point that they explode from their banks, and can level homes and destroy properties.
Tornadoes are another threat that can tear everything in its path to shreds in mere minutes, and with little warning. Like other weather phenomenon, tornado outbreaks have become more frequent, and with larger and more powerful twisters. Having a secure safe area with safe stores of preps will help if your house gets hit.
Wildfires have also become larger and more problematic in the last 10 years. This is partly due to society’s continued encroachment into the natural areas surrounding our cities, but can also be connected to high winds and dry conditions. A major wildfire like the one that tore through Gatlinburg, TN on June 30, 2017, is as powerful as any tornado that has ever touched the earth:
Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire newly released dash-cam footage is terrifying - YouTube
Wildfire moves fast and destroys without prejudice, often leaving nothing but ashes and burned out shells in its path
Another emergency one needs to prepare for is a chemical or hazardous material event. Chemicals are all around us in today’s world. A large fire at a factory or a burst train car can spread dangerous chemicals and lead to an evacuation of a neighborhood or prompt a call for a “shelter in place” from authorities. This is something we need to be prepared for at home, work, and in our vehicles.
Sinkholes / Rockslides
Another disaster that has become common in the news is sinkholes opening up and large rockslides coming down into neighborhoods. Areas that haven’t experienced slides in decades are having large slides due to increased rainfall and many other factors.
Sinkholes have also became a huge problem in a lot of areas, and open often without warning. A good example is the sinkhole that opened under the Corvette museum in Bowling Green, Ky in 2014, that swallowed 8 rare corvettes.
A Grid Down Event
This is one event that is well talked about, but also very likely. The nation’s aging infrastructure, continued dependence on electronics, and vast expansion of our current networks, mean that our power grid is growing increasingly susceptible to a large scale grid down event.
The threat is even greater the further you get from the city. The biggest reason this event is so likely is due to the numerous things that could cause it. Severe weather, EMPs, earthquakes, terrorism, cyber attacks, and many others could take our grid down for weeks under the right circumstances.
As the terrorist groups continue to attempt to disrupt and destroy american life, we are always under the threat of possible terror attacks. From small, localized attacks, to larger, regional or national attacks, we have to always be ready to either take shelter or to bug out to avoid the after effects of these attacks and their possible fallout.
Major hurricanes have been increasing in frequency along with the rest of the severe weather threats. Large hurricanes, such as Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria in 2017, cause enormous amounts of damage across huge swaths of the country. This stresses the government response and can cause further fallout with riots and looting. The sheer expanse of a hurricane is maddening, and very difficult to prepare for.
Earthquakes can strike completely unsuspected with the power of a nuclear weapon. Leveling buildings and creating havoc all over. There is little you can do to prep for earthquakes with the exception of having a good bug out plan and stocked BOL.
The best thing one can do is to move away from earthquake prone areas before a major quakes hits. This would allow you to sell your home, and purchase a new one in a safer area, rather than risk your home being destroyed. Note that this would also include moving away from the Yellowstone caldera.
Drought is a little easier to see coming, but can still cause a major event. Not only can it affect water supplies, but also food production, fire conditions, and health. The best prep for drought is making sure you either have large supplies or water, or building redundancy into your water supply. Building a pond on your property or digging a well will give you a backup supply of water should the tap run dry.
We already talked about flooding, but flash floods are an entirely different beast. Flash flooding is when huge amounts of water drops on a small area very rapidly. It creates currents of water and can turn streets into raging rivers, with enough power to pick up cars and tear out foundations. Make sure you have a plan to get you and your vehicles to higher ground. Also try to identify drainage avenues and slopes that could house water currents in the event of a sudden downpour. It may be necessary to make changes to route these areas from your home.
Volcanoes are generally very docile and safe to live around. However, as Hawaii is currently experiencing, no matter how much we study them, they are forces of nature and will be unpredictable when they become active. The need exists not only for a bug out plan, but also an INCH plan. Like earthquake prone areas, the best preparation is to move away from areas of concern. Selling your house is always a better option that having to abandon it due to an eruption.
Of all the unpredictable forces that exists, large crowds of people are some of the worst. It can be local, regional, or national. Concentrated in certain areas or widespread. You have to make sure you have a plan with multiple contingencies, with at least one of them being to bug out. Remember that the event that triggered the unrest, such as a hurricane or economic collapse, could also hinder any bug out plans.
Pandemic is one of the scariest scenarios we could face. From the devastating effects of widespread illness to the service interruptions from people either being sick themselves or taking care of other sick people and family members, this is a major scale event.
With the emergence of so called “superbugs” and the continuance of antibiotic resistance, containing and treating outbreaks will only continue to become more and more difficult. Private stores of medications as well as means to avoid contagious people such as masks and other barrier devices are a must.
You hear a lot about “economic collapse”, but many wonder if it is actually a threat. It’s hard to know if it could all collapse, but being prepared for the possibility means strengthening things such as our emergency funds, food preps, BOL, and many other areas that we use for other situations. Economic collapse is not so much its own event, as it is a combinations of many others.
Labor strikes are something that not a lot of people consider as a threat, but what is you woke up tomorrow and there was no hospital available? What about the water company employees or the truck drivers that bring supplies to the store shelves? Making sure you have enough supplies not only to sustain yourself and your family, but also handle any emergencies that crop up, can be a vital asset if the workers we depend on everyday have a work stoppage.
Which of these 21 disasters and emergencies do you think is most likely to affect YOU? Let us know win the comments section below.
Between taking care of endless day-to-day responsibilities, work and family obligations and then trying to squeeze in some extra-curricular training, we all have a ton on our plate. Most of us still put in the effort and long hours to go above and beyond, ensuring we are prepared for the crises and disasters, great and small that come crashing into our lives overturning our carefully laid plans.
Sometimes focusing our planning and preparation on what we perceive to be the greatest threat, we can miss or overlook smaller, but important elements in our overall readiness. Below I have listed, in no particular order, what I think the most people neglect the most often in their personal planning.
Some are lifestyle changes, others are hardware or skillset deficiencies, and others are behavioral.
Some of these elements may be obvious, others may be subtle or unpopular but I assure you that they are all important, and I will explain why. It is my hope that this list will inspire you to reassess your own readiness and preparation with a fresh, honest eye.
#1. – Turn Your Body Into a Machine
This is a big one, and the one most likely to rustle jimmies. The simple fact is that your body is both your first toolset, and your first weapon, after your brain. You don’t have to think too hard to come up with a scenario where physical prowess could spell the difference between injury or death in a host of “mundane” crisis scenarios.
The ability to run far and fast, while carrying a load, move an awkward, heavy object or just march through the night like a mule in Hell is priceless. That load could be your child you are sprinting away from danger, that object could be a piece of rubble from a collapsed building or car wreck trapping a stranger, and that long march may be the only ticket out of an otherwise inescapable situation.
Your fitness level will in part determine your likelihood of becoming a casualty. It will also play a part in determining if you are to become a victim of violence. All the training and skill in the world is worthless if don’t have the stamina to endure a protracted fight, or cannot move quickly enough to even get a vote in the outcome.
The world’s best weapons may not be worth a wish if you don’t have the mettle to make use of them. A physically fit person is also typically affected less by mental or physical stresses, and that ability to think clearly in a rough patch is valuable. You will be less likely to get sick, or injured, and all around be harder to kill. This is a level of “disaster proofing” that can hardly be overestimated.
Whatever your current lifestyle, age, condition or ailments, you can be tomorrow a better version of the person you are today, if you’ll put in the work. Don’t come at me with the “whataboutisms”, either: “What about me, I have such-and-such condition that…” or “What about people that are this, this and this?” We could do that all day.
Sure, I’ll admit that there are going to be some folks who are severely disabled, ill or so infirm that they get little choice in the matter. That much is surely true, but chances are it isn’t you: I see too many posts on social media where people from all walks of life and every kind of setback are busting their humps to be fit. You may think you have your reasons for carrying around too much weight or being so out of shape you get winded when carrying in two He-Man armfuls of groceries, but I have heard it said that often reasons are just excuses with fancy fenders.
I am not going to go into detail about any specific plan or programming here because I am not a fitness trainer, and such discussions devolve into dogfights in the comments 87% of the time. I would recommend a program that focuses both on both peak strength and cardiovascular conditioning. Some programs that focus on a “Run-Fight-Run” type of workout can help mentally prepare you for the stresses of an actual crisis, be it a natural disaster or some type of violence or attack. Don’t let yourself off the hook! Start sweating with a purpose!
#2 – Learn First-Aid Skills and Carry a Medical Kit
Most of you are probably cracking your knuckles getting ready to take me to the mat over the last one. “This frickin’ guy! Who does he think he is?!” Well, this may be your comeuppance because I will admit here in front of everybody that this is one I failed at hard, and for a long time. I was the guy constantly sharpening my skill with a gun or adding ammo and parts to the stash instead of working on boring ol’ medical skills. It took a pretty good heart-to-heart with a guy I consider a mentor to get to me to really wake up and see the light. “If you have the ability to make holes, you should have the ability to fix them.”
This makes obvious sense in the context of an armed professional or citizen, but it is much broader than that: the chances that someone will need life- or limb- saving medical assistance (including you) is drastically higher than the chance you’ll need to use lethal force in self defense. It isn’t cool or sexy, but once again the mundane event is far more likely than the spectacular one, here: think car wreck, industrial accident, power tool mishaps, and accidental shootings. Those things require intervention now. Having the skills and equipment on hand will make all the difference.
First get training. Learn CPR and basic first-aid. Then take classes on trauma management. Learn how to cope with lacerations, penetrating wounds and burns. Learn from combat medics, firefighters, EMT’s paramedics, doctors. Prioritize care of most likely causes of preventable death. You don’t need to be brain surgeon, learn the fundamentals.
Get a couple of quality trauma kits, a simple one to keep on you at all times, and an enhanced one to keep in your bag or car. Both should include at the minimum disposable gloves, tourniquets, hemostatic gauze and compression bandages. Other goodies will be things like chest seals, burn treatment, shears for shoes and clothing, splints, and the like. At the very, very least keep a tourniquet on your person with a pack of hemostatic gauze. Like your pistol, if it isn’t in arms reach when you must have it, it might as well be on the moon.
#3 – Install a Vehicle Safe / Reinforced Locking Container
Compared to the previous two, this one is simple. I have observed too many people that either carry a gun or keep one in their vehicle relegate storage of it to the flimsy, dinky console compartment or glovebox, or worse, leave it under the seat when not on their person. This is a bad play.
On nearly any vehicle, these plastic compartments, even if they do lock, are simply not a challenge to break open by force. If someone gains access to or breaks into your vehicle, and takes your presumably loaded gun, it is now theirs to do with as they wish. That’s going to turn out tragic no matter what happens with it. It is a small investment to buy and install either a replacement, reinforced metal locking compartment for the glovebox, console or trunk, or even a standalone low-profile safe that you can secure under a seat.
These units are not foolproof, or impenetrable by any stretch, but will stymie the average smash-and-grab thief, and give you an added layer of protection for keeping honest people honest in carpool and travel situations. Many models are available for a variety of vehicles, and often can be installed DIY if you are fairly handy.
#4- Learn Defensive Skills
Awareness is key to avoiding trouble, or confrontation, but escape or evasion is not always achievable. Sometimes trouble will single you out, or you may just get caught unawares. When deterrence or escape is no longer an option, you’ll have to fight, and it is best if you don’t have all your self-defense eggs in one basket. Don’t bet the farm on being able to employ your discipline of choice to save yourself; remember that the bad guy gets a vote in the proceedings. You should be learning hand-to-hand, grappling, firearm and knife skills.
Focus on practical combatives for any hand-to-hand training, save the more ritualized martial arts for hobby time. Boxing is an excellent foundation. Grappling should be centered on staying on your feet and escaping holds versus taking someone down and applying submission or disabling techniques. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has many adherents and is exceedingly effective, but any time you are tangled up on the ground with a single assailant leaves you at the mercy of his companions. This is not to say it should not be practiced, but bear in mind the bigger picture: you don’t want to be putting Mongo to sleep only to wind up with your head being the guest of honor at a boot party.
Firearms training should focus on getting the handgun in to play from concealment at speed with the priority being an accurate hit delivered quickly. For most of us, if we are not police or military, a long gun is a secondary weapon, with the handgun being primary. It is there we should concentrate our training time and efforts.
Blade work is possibly more contentious than martial arts when discussing best practices. I will only advocate that knowing how to best employ your knife is a good idea not just in defense of a gun takeaway attempt, but also in the event that an assailant is too close to even begin to employ the gun safely. You are also far more likely to be able to carry or at least procure a blade in a locale or venue where firearms are prohibited.
#5 – Carry Your Weapon Always
This ties in with #4, above. It is tough to take people seriously who proclaim a state of readiness, or say they “want” to be ready, and then, after acquiring a concealed weapons license, and training only carry part time or “when they think they may need it.” People, hear me out: if you knew ahead of time that you might need your weapon, that alone is a good indicator that you probably shouldn’t do whatever you are doing, or go wherever you are going, if avoidable. Like any other piece of gear, if it isn’t available when you need it in a crisis, it will do you no good.
If you have taken the time to get a permit, and then only carry some of the time, it defeats the purpose of being prepared in all weather, all seasons, at all times. I get it: Guns and knives are uncomfortable. They’re heavy. They take time to strap on along with all the other equipment you have in your pockets and on you. You know what else is uncomfortable? Getting shot to pieces, cut to ribbons or beaten to a pulp. Many folks get hung up on the comfort issue. They seek smaller and smaller and lighter and lighter options to find “comfort.”
Effectiveness typically starts to shrink as the gun or knife does. You should be aiming to carry a gun or knife large enough to be easy to use, and have good effects on the target. That is, carrying the largest gun or knife you can use well and still effectively conceal. I heard it said by the great Clint Smith that guns aren’t supposed to be comfortable; they’re supposed to be comforting! The same is true of knives or any other piece of lifesaving kit. Keep it on you, or keep it close at hand! No exceptions!
#6 – Remove Telltales From Your Person and Your Vehicle
I define telltales as indicators that tip off an interested party about your equipage, status or intent. I’m concerned about criminal and other nefarious elements taking an interest in me because I get made as a “gun guy.” Telltales can be things like 2nd Amendment themed, branded or logo apparel you wear, cool-guy patches, stickers or manufacturer’s decals on your vehicle or the obvious and heavy pocket clip of a large folding knife. Physical printing of your weapon is an obvious and flagrant one here.
Don’t do anything superfluous to draw attention to the fact that you may be armed, or may have weapons or equipment in your vehicle. This is common sense. It may be a lifestyle choice, but it is not one that you need to advertise to the unknown public at large.
You may think this stuff does not matter, and you probably have told yourself some convincing lies to make that float, things like, “Criminals are stupid, they don’t notice that stuff,” or “It is a deterrent if they think I am packing and mean business,” or “Hell with ‘em, I’ll decorate my truck how I want!” I can tell you with authority that all of those reasons don’t pass muster.
For the first and second objection, I promise you we are just not that worried about the common scumbag or mugger of opportunity. Yes, they may be dangerous, but will rarely press an attack when the prey has fangs of its own. No, we are worried about the alpha bad guys, hardened criminals, ones that train and observe and practice the same as we do. Think of them like a dark mirror image of a motivated and trained good guy. They can spot us the same way we can spot them, if we have enough practice and exposure. You need not think that being identified as a gun carrier will deter them in the least if they decide they are going loud on you: your gun may in fact be what they are after. Many are not afraid of guns or knives, having been shot or stabbed before and come out victorious. It is a sobering thought; they may well be better at this than you are.
For the third objection, well, there is no accounting for taste, and it is your right. But I’d still encourage you to think big picture. I have a huge assortment of hats, shirts, pins, patches and stickers, but I reserve all that stuff for range days, competitions and my journals and toolboxes. It is no one’s business but my own, and if I absolutely have to engage with like-minded folks about it, I can always come here, or call my compatriots and talk shop to my hearts content.
Don’t give in to the petty desire to express your interest to the world at large and in doing so perhaps compromise your safety.
#7 – Maintain Personal Security Online
Short and sweet: stop oversharing your personal info, day to day itinerary, workplace, school, comings and goings on social media. I know it is a facet of the times we live in, and is nothing short of miraculous for staying in touch with everyone you have ever met, or reconnecting with lost acquaintances, but you cannot know how far what you share can propagate. You cannot hope to know all your friend’s friends, their friends and their friend’s friends. I hope I do not need to remind everyone to not accept requests from people you do not even plausibly know, or obviously slapped together profiles with no friends and a tenuous grasp of English. Not today, ISIS! Not today!
The old war-time poster, you know the one, “loose lips sink ships,” applies here. They need to make a new one, showing a busted-up house stripped to the rafters, burning, with cartoon crooks hauling off the couch, TV and guns. It’ll say, “Someone Tweeted!” Your travel plans, or schedule as to when you are not home, or the story about how you just brought home a sweet new TV or gun safe could be seen by someone with ill intent who can then use that information to plan a burglary of your home or worse.
We live in the Information Age, which means that identity theft, and open-source information gathering for evil deeds is a common occurrence. This can happen to even the most cautious through sheer bad luck or the actions of skilled criminals. Don’t make their job any easier.
#8 – Avoid Large Gatherings and Venues
When it comes to making lifestyle and activity changes for security and safety, some are obvious. The targeting of large social venues and crowds of people at a variety of events by terrorists and the criminally deranged has certainly been trending higher in the past decade. The calculus is simple: a larger, denser group of people is a much easier source of casualties and more worthwhile target than a smaller or widely spaced one.
Reducing your exposure at such places will lead to a correspondingly smaller chance of being involved in a typical mass-casualty event. Don’t misunderstand, America is still, statistically, very safe, but there are trends to be observed in anything, and lately concerts, nightclubs, theaters, shopping malls, dense urban pedestrian walkways and stadiums have all seen a spike in violent occurrences and targeting by terrorists.
I’m not saying don’t live and enjoy your life; Instead, make it a point to perform your personal cost-benefit analysis before you enter a large gathering or attend an event at a large venue, especially in times of heightened risk.
#9 – Improve Your Use of Force Options
For many people, their personal use of force hierarchy looks from unarmed to lethal force, with nothing in between. That is a shame because the odds that you will be involved in a confrontation that may not immediately warrant lethal force, but would warrant more than fisticuffs is pretty good. Think multiple unarmed attackers squaring up to stomp you, or a persistent personal space-invader that is not obviously a lethal threat, but isn’t taking the clue from your verbal warnings.
Pepper spray is your solution here, and very few people (especially us guys) choose to carry it. Pepper spray of good blend and make, and deployed properly, is very effective at psychologically stopping an aggressor, and will likely degrade the fighting ability of someone determined to press an attack. Pepper spray causes searing pain, copious tearing and mucous production, coughing, and typically the involuntary closing of the eyes. All this serves to help give you the upper hand in a fight.
Make sure you get a good brand, not just any old $5.00 keychain in line at the superstore checkout. The size, capacity and range of the unit are also considerations. Sabre Red brand is a mainstay, and with good reason, having both a potent blend of solution and great quality control. Like any other tool you carry, be sure to practice and get training with it: you need to know exactly what you can expect from it both on the dispensing and receiving end. Back spray is possible, as is getting a splash off of the person you are spraying.
Pepper spray is still considered use of force, so don’t think you can go to the heat quicker than fists or weapons just because it is a less-lethal tool. That being said, the “optics” of using pepper spray are far kinder than fists, guns or knives, so judicious use is less likely to result in serious legal entanglement.
We all have elements of our personal security plan we could improve upon. Don’t lose sight of the fundamentally crucial by focusing on an outlandish scenario or something that you enjoy working on or learning about. Be objective, assess the most likely threats, and grow your skills and preps around that core group of plausible threats. I hope this article gave you insight into your own path of growth.
Which one of these elements is most relevant to your situation? Did you ace all eight? Think I am fake news? Sound off in the comments!
If you’re stuck in a survival situation or another emergency situation without the tools you need to get what you need, it can not only be uncomfortable, it can be downright deadly. But with the right knowledge t-shirts have unlimited uses for survival. If you’re wearing a t-shirt and throw a couple extra old ones in your GHB or BOB, you’ll be prepared for just about any survival situation.
Replace a Broken Shoelace using the strip of hem from around the bottom of your t-shirt. If you don’t have an extra shirt, you can even cut the hem from the one you have on and still wear it.
Bandage a Wound with any clean t-shirt if you get cut and don’t have any clean bandages.
Make a Sling for a sprained or broken arm by putting the t-shirt around your neck like a necklace. Once you do this, pull the shirt down so you can cradle the injured arm inside the shirt. Put your injured hand through the armhole on the opposite side of the shirt.
Filter Air by placing your t-shirt over your mouth and nose to protect your lungs from smoke or debris-filled air.
Gather Berries or other Foods and pull up the bottom of your t-shirt to create a makeshift basket as you forage for berries or nuts in the woods.
As a Pillow. A t-shirt can be used to make a fairly comfortable pillow. Tie the neck of the t-shirt closed by knotting the arms together. Fill the inside with leaves or other soft debris and tie the bottom of the t-shirt closed.
Call for Truce in a confrontation situation by waving a white t-shirt where it can be seen by your opponents.
Mark a Path so you can find your way back to your campsite or so someone else can follow the markers to you.
Protect Your Neck from sunburn and bug bites by draping a t-shirt around your neck or tucking it under your hat and letting it hang down over your neck.
Tie Downs for Gear. Cut your t-shirt into strips and use the strips as tie downs so your gear is always secure.
Build a Shelter using a tarp with metal grommets and strips from a t-shirt. The strips of a t-shirt can be looped through the grommets and then tied off on a tree. It’s not a bullet proof shelter but it will keep you temporarily protected from hot sun or rain.
As a Flotation Device if you find yourself unexpectedly in the water. Tie the arms of the t-shirt closed and fill the space inside with air and tie or hold the other end shut.
To Carry Things such as eggs or vegetables you might collect from a farm or property along your bug out route.
As a Fan when it gets too hot during a survival or bug out trip, you can wave a t-shirt at other group members to cool them down. You can even do this to cool yourself down though it’s a bit more difficult.
Make a Trap to catch fish for dinner as demonstrated in this video.
Signal for Help using a bright colored t-shirt which will be more visible to rescuers than just waving your arms. If you break down on the highway, use a t-shirt on your car antenna to signal you need help.
Create Tinder from a t-shirt made of cotton by scraping it with a knife or another sharp object so it pills. Use the scrapings or cotton pills as tinder for your fire.
Makeshift Torch. Soak your t-shirt in a flammable liquid and then knot it around the end of a stick. Light the t-shirt on fire to use as a torch.
Carry Sticks with a t-shirt by laying the t-shirt on the ground and piling the sticks in the center of it. Tie opposite corners together over the sticks.
Protect Your Head against sunburn by draping your t-shirt over it. You can tie the t-shirt around your head or secure it with a hat.
Handle Hot Pans from the campfire by using a t-shirt folded several times to keep from burning your hands.
Make a Blanket. In a survival situation where you don’t have a blanket but you can located extra clothing or t–shirts, you can stitch or glue 5-10 t-shirts together in order to make a blanket. For extra warmth and if materials are available, use a sheet on the backside and stuff the space between with other clothes, newspapers, or even leaves.
To Cool Off you can wet a t-shirt and drape it around your neck.
Make a Clothing Patch if you catch your jeans or jacket on a branch and tear a hole, you can patch it with a piece of an old t-shirt.
As a Rag to clean your hands or wipe your face, even clean your camp dishes.
Filter Water to get the bigger debris out of it. You must still boil it or otherwise purify for bacteria before drinking.
Catch Fish by turning an old t-shirt into a fish trap over a frame made of sticks.
Make a Tourniquet using an old t-shirt and a stick for leverage to twist it around just above the bleeding wound. A tourniquet should only be used as a last resort option. You should always seek professional medical attention as quickly as possible.
Dry Your Hands using the hem of your t-shirt or an extra t-shirt that you keep in your BOB or hang from your belt loop.
Make Cordage using strips from a t-shirt that are knotted together or braided together for more strength. You can cut t-shirts into thinner or thicker strips depending on what you need to use your cordage to accomplish.
Collect Dew or Rain using a t-shirt by using it first thing in the morning to wipe over dew covered grass or hang it during a rainstorm and then wring it out into a container or even directly into your mouth.
Make a Cushion from an old t-shirt by tying or sewing the collar closed and stuffing it with leaves, other t-shirts, or anything soft you may have available. Tie or sew the hem shut and you have a cushion that you can use on top of an upturned log to make your break more comfortable.
Replace a Shemagh using a t-shirt which can be wrapped around your head, your neck, or even used as a bag to carry items.
Do you know of any other survival uses for t-shirts that we didn’t include above? Tell us about it the comments below so we can add to this list.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the estimated amount of water used by an American family is over 300 gallons per day. When you consider all the uses for water in daily life, it’s clear that water is truly one of our most crucial resources. Without water, many functions that we’ve come to rely on daily would be so much more difficult.
Watering the Garden is one of the more obvious survival uses for water besides drinking it. Following a SHTF situation, stores will likely be shut down or too dangerous to approach. You’ll need to rely on a garden to get a lot of your food in order to survive long-term.
Aquaponics is another method that can be used for gardening in order to survive long-term after a SHTF event. Aquaponics uses recycled water to raise fish and use the fish waste to fertilize a garden. This method is great for areas or situations where access to water is restricted or limited.
Producing Power with water is one of the most basic survival uses for water. Think back to our ancestors use of the huge water wheels for things such as lumber production and milling.
Cleaning Wounds is another of the survival uses for water besides drinking it. Obviously you want to use water that is as clean as possible for cleaning wounds so as not to introduce additional bacteria to your wounds.
Washing Utensils and Dishes will be a necessary evil following any SHTF event. Water for washing dishes and other utensils may come from a variety of water sources depending on your situation.
Brushing Your Teeth after some kind of disaster or SHTF incident might be something you don’t think about right away. But having water available to brush your teeth if not a couple times daily then at least several times per week will be critical to preventing oral health problems. When things go haywire after a SHTF event or in a survival situation, the last thing you want to worry about is a toothache or other oral health issues. Dentists just aren’t going to be very available.
Putting Out Fires is another one of the survival uses for water besides drinking it. In a survival situation or following a SHTF event, you’ll need to create a fire daily to stay warm, to cook, and to accomplish other tasks. Having water available is the quickest way to put out a fire. If you are in a situation where you need to conserve water, you can use loose dirt to smother a fire instead of using water.
Bathing and Showering is going to be another one of those critical uses for water besides drinking, especially in an extended survival situation. You may think you can survive skipping the bathing or showering for a couple days or even a week and you just might. But in a survival situation, you are at increased risk of minor injuries such as scratches, small cuts, blisters, bug bites, etc. All of these minor issues can become more serious if your skin is loaded with bacteria from not bathing or showering and an infection occurs as a result.
Washing Hair again may seem like one of the luxury tasks in a short-term situation but in a long term survival situation, good hygiene is going to be important to preventing infection and disease. Having freshly washed hair is also great for morale which a key factor in surviving an extended survival situation.
Washing Clothes may seem like a luxury and it may not be necessary during a short-term SHTF situation but at some point during an extended survival situation, you will need clean clothes. Even if you are attempting to hide the fact that you have access to water and other supplies, you’ll want to have freshly washed undergarments at least for hygiene purposes.
Rinsing Vegetables is one of those survival uses for water that will become very important in a post-SHTF situation. Professional medical attention in a survival situation may not be accessible so you want to keep as much dirt and bacteria out of your body as possible. Rinsing vegetables or other edibles you’ve foraged during a survival situation will help prevent other issues that could even be fatal. Be sure to use clean water that has been purified in some way. If you cannot use purified water, use something to simply brush the dirt and debris from your veggies as best you can.
Fishing of course uses water because that’s where the fish live. But you’ll also need water for cleaning the fish before you cook them.
Shaving isn’t going to be as critical as some of the other survival uses for water but for some people it will be a necessity. Shaving for both men and women can be something that improves personal hygiene. Poor personal hygiene has been proven to negatively impact your ability to withstand a survival situation. So, when you pack your BOB or GHB, make sure you plan for how you will shave.
Washing Hands/Face again will be something that is critical for good personal hygiene. It’s also huge for boosting morale and keeping you going in a survival situation. You’d be amazed at how just being able to use water to wash your face and hands can give your morale a boost, lift your spirits, and keep you going for another day.
Watering Animals is one of the critical survival uses for water following a natural disaster or SHTF event. Whether your animals are pets or are livestock raised as a food source, keeping them hydrated will be very important to your morale and to your survival.
Keeping Animals Clean, especially animals that you will be using for food in a survival situation or post SHTF event, is a very important task. There are many diseases and infections that can be passed from livestock to humans if food is not properly clean and prepared prior to cooking it.
Watering fruit trees may not be something you need to use water for in a short-term survival situation but it’s definitely important for anyone who is preparing for a long-term survival situation. Fruit trees are an investment in your survival and sometimes can take several years before they begin to bear fruit. You’ll need to make sure that you can water them sufficiently in a survival or SHTF situation so you don’t waste that investment time.
Recreational Activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, etc may not be one of the most important survival uses for water. But these activities and the ability to do them once in a while during a long term survival situation can significantly boost your morale, relieve tension, and help to keep you going.
Start a Fire using water in several different ways. There are at least over a dozen ways to start a fire with water. Many of the methods involve using common household or office items such as: a cleaned out light bulb and a balloon, a juice bottle filled with water, plastic wrap filled with water, a picture frame covered in plastic wrap, or a toilet paper roll and toilet paper.
Raising cattle as part of your survival plan can vastly increase the beef and dairy yields on your prepper compound. But, raising cattle takes a lot of time, space, money, and knowledge.
Before venturing out to your first livestock auction, educate yourself about cattle husbandry to avoid an epic – and perhaps even deadly, failure.
We are blessed to live on a 56-acre secluded survival homestead. It took us nearly three very long years to find the right spot to relocate our tribe, but I am so glad we were able to find and put our self-reliance plan in motion before the SHTF.
Even though we have ample space for cattle, we did not purchase any our first year on the land. Why? We had a lot to learn about cattle husbandry, had to improve the condition of the pasture so it could support even a small herd during the winter, make what seemed like an enormous amount of fence and barn repairs.
If we would have skipped even one of those vital steps in the pre-cattle herd ownership process, we could have lost all of the money spent purchasing the livestock when they failed to thrive or escaped. We had a goat herd to supply us with dairy and meat, as well as chickens and ducks for eggs and protein, as well.
Before you can determine if cattle should be a part of your survival plan, you must decide what you want out of your herd and learn more about the various breeds to find the right fit to suit your needs.
Can You Keep Cattle On Small Homesteads?
You do not need to have a lot of land to own a few head of cattle, especially if you purchase a Dexter breed – miniature cattle. But, you do need to provide enough quality space for them to graze or have deep enough pockets (and again space) to buy enough hay to sustain the herd.
A “foundation” bovine is generally a good fit for a small homestead. This type of cow is between 2 and 5 years old and has already successfully bred one healthy calf.
Laws And Deed Restrictions
It would be highly unusual to not being allowed to raise cattle in rural areas. But do purchase a single cow before you double check any deed restrictions that exist on your land, as well as local farming laws.
Raising livestock, even small or medium livestock, in suburban areas can be problematic. In right to farm states, you will likely be able to at least keep a few hens in your backyard, but keeping even a miniature cow on a large lot might not be permissible.
• The general rule of thumb when it comes to standard cattle breeds is you need 2 acres per animal for grazing purposes.
• If your survival retreat is partially wooded, you can “grub” the woods or even fairly steep hillsides and turn the areas into additional pasture. Both trees and stumps will need to be removed, briars cut back, and the sod tilled and quality pasture-grade seed planted. This process typically takes up to two years to complete.
Possible Cattle Restrictions
• Number of cattle on a property – even a rural property
• Number of bulls on a property
• Distance fencing is from a road or property line
• Cattle access to a public waterway
• On-site butchering restrictions
Make sure to work cattle emergencies into your prepping budget.
• If you do not have at least two natural sources of water on your survival retreat, planning for herd watering during a drought is even more of a priority.
• A cow can drink upwards of 20 gallons of water per day. The herd, like the rest of your livestock, will expect to quench their thirst even when their natural water sources are solid ice. Cracking ice to allow animals to water is both time-consuming and back-breaking labor. The more animals you have, the larger they are, the more physical labor will be required to care for them.
• Vet bills can be incredibly expensive. I have only ever once called a vet in all my many years of owning animals. I learned how to treat minor to fairly serious illnesses and injuries both by myself and naturally. But, if a serious incident happens, like calving problems, you must have the money in hand to pay a vet to come help save your animal – or risk losing your source of meat and dairy. You won’t be able to call a vet during a SHTF scenario, so learn as much as you can now about common cattle emergencies, illnesses, and injuries then stockpile materials and cross-train members of your family accordingly.
Cows may look docile, but if one gets food aggressive or just generally is ill-tempered, it can crush a person, ram them into a fence – breaking ribs and potentially quite a few more bones in the process.
Never turn your back on the cattle and do not treat them as pets. Giving little treats to the herd should be done in their feed tubs and not by hand. Do not pet the cattle and teach them to seek your affection – or get mad if they do not get it.
There are some exceptions to this sound advice when dealing with dairy cows, because you need to gain their trust and keep them calm during the milking process – especially if you both are new to the chore.
Cows Come In Different Sizes?
Yes, they most certainly do – and some are far better suited for smaller or partially wooded survival retreats.
• Miniature Cattle – These animals were crossbred to intentionally create smaller bovines. The tiniest of bulls and small or dwarf cows were bred consistently. The runt of each herd of small cows bred in this manner were typically used to help create miniature cow breeds from standard breeds.
• Standard Breeds – Typically standard size cattle are at a minimum, 600 pounds. Some cows and bulls in this category can grow to weigh nearly 1,600 pounds.
• Guinea Cattle – These are another small breed. Due to usually a genetic mutation, cattle smaller than 600 pounds as adults are considered guineas and sometimes intentionally bred with other guineas to create livestock for small farms and homesteads.
Different Types of Cattle
When you say you want “cows” do you really know what you are asking for? Do not become the laughing stock of the livestock auction, or spend hundreds to thousands of dollars for an animal you do not really need or are capable of housing on your prepper retreat.
• A bull is an adult male bovine. He is used solely for breeding and not meat – unless a long-term disaster forces you to butcher the bull. Bulls generally live a long life, making their meat quite tough. Bulls are referred to as sires once they are two years old. A bull will typically reach at least half of its mature weight by the time it is 14 months old.
• A single bull is capable of breeding up to 30 cows in a single year.
• Usually bulls are placed in a pen or pasture to breed for only about 40 days and then they are separated from the cows to allow them all to rest. Overly taxing the animals could lead to major health problems, aborted calves, or even death.
I would never recommend a cattle newbie buy a bull. That can make sustaining a herd on a survival retreat quite difficult. Now, you can buy bull semen to impregnate your cows, but that will not likely be an option after the SHTF. Try to find a nearby homesteader or farmer to rent stud services from now to establish a connection that could be vital during a long-term disaster. Once you are a more seasoned cattle keeper, then it could be time to invest in a bull.
Bulls are hard to handle, should not be allowed to freely roam with the cows year round, and can be difficult to keep in a pasture that has not fortified substantially.
• A cow is a mature bovine that has had a calf at least once. A cow will have far wider hips and a thicker belly than bulls or steers regardless of whether or not they are dairy or beef cows. It typically takes two years for a cow to be large enough to hit butcher weight. Wintering them over will require a mild climate if they are going to survive on pasture (ample pasture) or the stockpiling of a significant amount of hay.
• Cows should never be bred until they are at least 15 months old and weigh a minimum of 600 pounds – unless they are guineas or miniature bovines.
• A cow’s gestation period is about nine and a half months – 285 days.
• Cows can breed year round but the bulk of calves are born from February to May.
Learn how to estimate a cow’s age before purchasing the animal. You do not want an old cow because the meat will be tough or she could be past mating age and therefore not produce adequate milk. Once a dairy cow is no longer able to reproduce, she is most often butchered and her meat ground up for hamburger.
• A steer an adult castrated male. This type of cattle is almost exclusively raised for beef, it really has no other purpose since it can no longer reproduce. Steers are not usually aggressive like bulls. Just like cows, it generally takes two years for a steer to hit butcher weight.
• A heifer is a young female bovine that has not yet had a calf. It is typically less expensive to buy a heifer than a just recently matured cow. Because a heifer has not yet calved, she will have a less rounded body than a oow and slimmer hips.
• A calf can be either a male or female bovine. Once the animal is no longer nursing, it is referred to as a “weaner.” When a weaner is at least 12 months old, it is referred to as a yearling.
• Calves are usually weaned around 7 months old. Placing the cow and the calf in separate pens or pastures, but allowing them to still see and touch each other through a fence will greatly reduce both separation anxiety for the animals and LOUD and sad moaning from them both. Cow moaning would definitely not be a good thing when OPSEC is a priority.
• Once the calf is weaned the cow must be milked to continue her production of milk.
There are two different types of cattle – beef and dairy. Now, you can get milk and beef from any cow, some breeds are better suited to their respective tasks and will give you a better return on your investment in both quality and quantity.
Beef cattle breeds boast a more muscular carcass and therefore offer a greater amount and quality of meat that a dairy cow. Beef cattle is typically more stocky, have no visible hip or ribs showing, and boast a flat back.
Cows of this type generally have larger udders and feature a boney look to their bodies.
Dual or Multi-Purpose Cattle
This type of cattle will likely be the best option for a survival homestead. You get nearly the best of both worlds when a multi-purpose breed is purchased.
Dual or multi-purpose cattle may not offer as much meat as beef cattle, but the meat is still of a good quality. The milk production on a dual or multi-purpose breed of cattle will be less than a dairy cow, but will still offer more milk that a miniature bovine or goat will.
Heritage breeds of any type of livestock are always my favorite type to add to our survival homestead. These largely endangered breeds were the original breeds of their respective species. Factory farms have cross-bred nearly all of the heritage breeds to garner their superior genes – and then pumped them full of all kinds of medications and confined them into small spaces to quickly increase their bulk and get them to market.
Heritage breeds will likely never grow as quickly of perhaps even as large as the cattle that provide grocery store meat – but that’s o.k. The benefit of heritage breeds is their natural adaptability to the environment, from both a parasite and weather standpoint. They are generally substantially hardy creatures that have not had their natural instincts bred out of them, allowing them to find food and shelter far easier on their own.
Cattle Raising Basics
• Cattle must be able to graze on quality pasture to meet their dietary needs or be fed hay.
• An average mature bovine eats about 24 pounds of hay per day.
• Cattle can consume up to 4 percent of their body weight on a daily basis.
• A lactating cow will eat approximately 2 percent more feed on a daily basis.
• All stock feed can be fed to cattle to help supplement the roughage their diet requires. The all stock feed should have both a high fiber and a high protein count.
• Cracked corn be be mixed in the with the all stock feed to further enhance the diet of the herd.
• Cattle feed is generally sold in three different varieties: block feed, pellets, and sweet feed.
• Creep feeding is a practice engaged in when separating a calf from its mother. The creep feed is not intended to replace the cow’s milk but to supplement it to begin the weaning process while maintaining a proper diet and strong bones.
• Cattle, like most varieties of livestock, should be given salt and minerals (either loose or in block form) to round out their diet.
• Cows will need additional mineral supplementation before giving birth and while lactating.
• It is always a good idea to add extra minerals to a bulls diet during the mating season.
Cows do not need to live in a barn and rarely do. But, they need at least a lean-to of some type to protect them from the elements.
Keeping the cattle out of sight and secure will surely be a priority during a SHTF scenario. When buying cattle, keep barn space in mind. Keeping or building a large open stall to house the cattle at night, locking all of the animals inside and even putting a guard on the barn, may help you keep your meat and dairy sources right where they belong.
Cattle cannot be kept inside only an electric fence. Cattle cannot be kept only inside a barbed wire fence. Usually, cattle cannot even be kept inside only a wood fence.
How do you keep the dang things in, then? You must either use metal cattle panels mounts to sturdy metal or thick wood posts that have been sunk at least 2 and half feet down in concrete, or go the combo fencing route.
Most cattle owners go the combo route because it is far less expensive than using all cattle panels to create a pasture perimeter fence. Wood fencing with at least one line of electric fence that sticks out about five inches on the inside of the fence to keep the herd off of the wood.
If cattle frequently pushes against the wood fence to scratch their hides, which they love to do, it will weaken and ultimately crack and create an escape route the herd will immediately take advantage of – the grass being greener, and all.
Barbed wire fencing can also be used to keep the herd away from the wood fencing, but it is not usually as effective as the little jolt of electricity stemming from a solar charger.
Cattle Buying Tips
1. The fall is typically the best time to buy cattle. Prices to tend to drop because farmers and breeders do not want to endure the expense or extra work of wintering them over.
2. Search for “grade cows” they are not fancy purebreds but their meat and/or milk will nearly always still be of fine quality. You are not searching for a show cow here, you just want a healthy animal to help put food on the table for your family.
3. Try to purchase the herd members for a local farmer, livestock auctions are no place for newbie cattle owners. You will have little to any time to inspect the animal before the auction, will not be able to view the breeders that created it, and will have to simply take the word of the seller about its health and antibiotic or other medication use. Even if a vet inspection accompanies the animal, the type used for livestock auctions are rarely, if ever, comprehensive or involve blood testing.
4. A healthy and sturdy bovine should have strong legs and eet, able to easily stand and move under its own bulk, have legs that are evenly proportioned for the animal’s frame, and slightly recessed at the back hock.
5. All cows, and dairy cows in particular, should have wide pin bones.
6. Check both the udder and the teats of dairy cows closely. A cow with a medium-sized and not a large udder usually is a steady and strong milk producer. The udder should never hang lower than the joints on the hock joint and should be pliable yet firmly attached if the ligament in the vulva region is healthy. Teats should be spaced evenly and point right down to the ground and not be angled.
Top Cattle Breeds For Survival
1. Chianina – Sturdy and heavy dual-purpose breed.
2. Brahman – Beef cattle that are regarded as both docile and smart.
3. Brown Swiss – A preferred dairy cattle breed than can produce up to 9 gallons of milk with a 4 percent butterfat content, per day.
4. Hereford – One of, if not the, best beef producing cattle breed in the country – quality meat and a lot of it.
5. Simmental – A multi-purpose cattle breed that is a steady and consistent producer of milk and meat and strong enough to even be used for agriculture drafting chores.
6. Dexter – These miniature bovines are another multi-purpose option that are especially suites to newbie keepers and small homesteads. Dexter cows can give up to 3 gallons of milk per day, on average.
7. Jersey – This is a small standard breed that is highly regarded as a quality milk producer. Jersey milk also boast a a high butterfat content. They are known as a non-aggressive breed.
8. Guernsey – This breed could be ideal for a large survival homestead. Guernseys can weigh up to 1,200 pounds on average and routinely give about 7 gallons of milk per day. They mature quickly and tend to repeatedly produce healthy calves.
9. Angus – These are one of the top meat producers as well. They are not really a multi-purpose but do produce a nice quality of milk, as well.
10. Lowline Angus – This miniature cattle breed is well suited to both a small homestead and intense heat. Cows generally grow to hit 42 inches tall. The cows are great milkers and attentive mothers to their calves. Being of an Angus cross-breeding endeavor, they also produce top grade beef and are lauded for their gently disposition.
Cows never seem to be at the top of any list for suggested survival livestock. Why? Because they are large and eat a whole lot. This does not mean you should mark them off your list, but instead find the right breed and the proper herd number your prepper retreat can handle when buying hay and feed is no longer possible.
Butchering a cow is no more difficult than butchering a deer or a goat, but it will take both more time to complete and require more space to store the preserved beef.
The AR-15 family of rifles is one of the most prolific and effective in the world. In the guise of the M16 rifle or M4 carbine it has served continuously as the U.S. armed forces issued rifle for over 50 years, and has been adopted by dozens upon dozens of other militaries around the world. It is also widely employed as a patrol rifle by police and government agencies, to say nothing of the more than 15 million AR-15 variants that have been commercially produced in the U.S.
Any system is only as reliable as its weakest component, and a common weakness for a firearm is an inferior magazine. Rifles, including the AR, are no different. The AR has seen many improvements and innovations over the course of its long life, among them many revisions to the design of the magazine. Accompanying the dizzying array of other components and accessories available to a user today, there are over a dozen different types of magazine: constructed of original aluminum, steel or polymer, and each has many unique designs.
Each varies in its reliability and usefulness, some being supremely reliable and others only of marginal effectiveness. In this article, I will detail a compressed evolution of the AR-15’s magazine, from its inception to today, discuss what makes a quality magazine, and offer my opinion of what the best “standard” magazine is today. Read on, and let’s begin.
Evolution of the AR-15 Magazine
The AR-15 is descended from Armalite’s earlier AR-10, itself a “Space Age” rifle of the day, that used a suitably advanced magazine: one made of lightweight aluminum, pressed with a grid or waffle pattern for rigidity and intended to be so cheap and available as to be disposable. Aluminum has many material advantages, such as very light weight, very good corrosion resistance and good strength when alloyed properly.
The Vietnam War-era M16A1 rifle used similar magazines to the AR-10: lightweight, 20 round magazines, these with made with long grooves instead of the AR-10 magazine’s waffle pattern, and intended to be disposable. Later on, around 1970 30-round versions of this aluminum mag started appearing in the hands of soldiers and marines, and were later adopted as standard issue. Over the years, various improvements to the standard U.S. Government Issue (USGI) aluminum magazine were implemented, predominately changes to follower design and the magazine spring.
These incremental changes were usually identifiable by the color of the follower, beginning with black, then green and finally tan. In 2016, the U.S. Army introduced the first “major” adopted improvement of the aluminum 30-round magazine, the “EPM”, or Enhanced Performance Magazine. The EPM uses a new, modified body colored tan so as to not be confused with older, incompatible magazines and redesigned feed lips to, purportedly, increase reliability over previous iterations by 300%.
The U.S. Marine Corps has gone in a different direction and in December of 2016 authorized the issue of the Magpul PMAG M3 for all in service rifles, including the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. The PMAG, long a sort of domestic industry standard in the U.S., and now, after grueling government testing, and service with the British military, it is finally being adopted at home.
AR-15 / M-16 Aluminum Magazine Characteristics
The standard USGI aluminum magazines are most commonly seen in 30rd versions, with modern 20-rounders still being popular with some. The two are easily told apart by the 20rd versions short, straight appearance while the 30rd version is longer with a slight curve or crook in the body. The finish can be any color from black to a dark or light gray, not including any magazines finished with homebrew camo paint or any other aftermarket finish.
Any rifle is only as good as its magazine, and while much improved today early AR magazines were delicate, especially compared to any of its contemporaries like the AK-47, M14, FAL or G3. Even other rifles’ alloy magazines had noticeably overbuilt feed lips and rugged bodies. The AR-15/M16 magazines had a reputation for the followers binding in the magazine, causing a stoppage in the rifle at best, or sometimes seriously upsetting the stack of cartridges. This did nothing to help the poor reputation of the Vietnam-era M16, alongside other errors and mistakes during early adoption and rollout.
Malfunctions of that sort were the reason for the incremental follower redesigns mentioned above, and were aimed at creating a smoothly feeding, consistent geometry follower that would be immune to the issues of the past versions. The latest version, the Army EPM, was tested and supposedly found to offer a huge increase in performance over predecessors. It remains to be seen if this is the case across a large sample size of issued magazines.
Nevertheless, these improvements did undoubtedly help improve overall reliability somewhat, but did nothing to help the other weakness of the aluminum magazines design: the fragility of the feed lips to being bent out of spec.
The Achilles’ Heel of Aluminum Magazines
Correct feed lip geometry is critical to a properly functioning magazine. The feed lips hold the next cartridge for loading in the proper orientation to ensure it is picked up by the bolt at the right angle for its short journey up the feed ramps and into the chamber. If this geometry is changed, either from damage or fatigue, malfunctions will start to occur.
If you examine the feed lips of the current and legacy aluminum magazines, you will see how obviously delicate they are. A magazine used in battle or training must endure considerable rough handling, be it from dropping, a sharp impact from a botched reload or merely wear and tear from being loaded off stripper clips and their guides. The Devil is in the details, and it does not take much deformation of the feed lips to start inducing malfunctions, and what little does need to occur is very difficult to detect with the naked eye.
A special gauge can be used to quickly ascertain if the feed lips are serviceable, but these gauges are not issued to troops, and furthermore never seem to be around when needed. The most insidious problem with the alloy magazine is the fact that those same feed-lips, when a magazine is found to be defective or just not working properly, are easily “tweaked” by the well-meaning user, and this sometimes is enough to return the magazine to acceptable levels of performance.
The offending feed-lips, though, have been seriously weakened, undetectably, first by the initial damage and then the corrective measure, so that they will be much more prone to deformation in the future! So if the magazine is turned back in to the arms room, or put back into the “duty” rotation, it is now a time-bomb, waiting to malfunction again.
Some companies, most notably H&K, turned to designing a “high-reliability” steel magazine to address these shortcomings. Regrettably, while somewhat more durable, the feed lips remained vulnerable to deformation as described above. Thanks to this persistent weakness and their very high cost (upwards of $50 per magazine!) they never caught on in great numbers.
Polymer to the Rescue
Polymer magazines are not new, having been around in one guise or another since at least the 80’s. Early polymer AR pattern magazines were the Orlite and Thermold varieties. Neither worked very well, being comparatively delicate compared to metal magazines, often not as reliable and with the additional weakness of being vulnerable to melting.
Polymer AR magazines remained an “also ran” product until Magpul, a company previously known for a simple, handy rubber loop designed to extract AR mags from pouches, released the now ubiquitous PMAG in 2007. The rest is history.
The PMAG was the first polymer magazine to combine excellent feeding reliability with superb ruggedness and durability. They were inexpensive, easier to disassemble for cleaning or maintenance, and included other features like an stowable top cover designed to both seal the magazine and alleviate pressure on the feed lips when stored loaded.
After a series of well publicized demos and very good marketing, they caught on like nobody’s business, spawning a number of imitators and competing polymer magazines. After a couple of generation upgrades that slightly improved material construction and feed geometry, today the Gen 3 PMAG is the de facto standard for the AR-15 and M16 family of rifles, being completely superior to the older aluminum magazines in almost every way.
A major benefit of the PMAG and other quality polymer magazines is that the feed lips are more rugged than aluminum designs. In addition to this perk, if the feed lips are ever stressed beyond a point that they are able to bear without failing, they will visibly break, making inspection of magazines for defects much simpler.
PMAGs do have a few quirks, such as a reputation for not falling free in some patterns of AR’s, or non-AR weapons that utilize the AR magazine, like the SCAR. Magpul addressed this issue earlier by introducing the EMAG; essentially a PMAG with modified a modified body designed to fit other rifles more easily or without modification, especially foreign ones.
Other major manufacturers’ polymer magazines incorporate a different features or a different design ethic: One excellent competitor, TangoDown’s ARC magazines utilize a consistent-feed internal geometry, and are designed to fall free from any AR. They are a very reliable and viable option, and have earned a good reputation.
Some other companies have polymer magazines with steel feed lip inserts, nifty-looking hexagon patterns in the bodies or various other gimmicks. Some work well enough or are merely average, and others are of decidedly lesser quality.
Considerations for Using Modern vs. Legacy Magazines
While modern polymer magazines are the performance standard, this does not mean that alloy magazines are unsatisfactory. I believe the advantages of polymer are undeniable in all but the most remote circumstances, having been proven in over a decade of relentless testing and operation in every climate on earth.
Modern polymer magazines also typically allow you to load a full 30 rounds and still seat the mag on a closed bolt, whereas many fully loaded alloy magazines will be very difficult or impossible to seat on a closed bolt, leading to some users downloading by a couple rounds. All that being said, some users may have operational requirements that mandate metal magazines, or simply prefer them to polymer.
This can complicate employment somewhat because there are a great many makers of alloy AR magazines compared to polymer ones and many of them are of inferior quality. Additionally, the supply of older “surplus” magazines still in supply means many users of alloy mags have a mish-mash from different eras and generations of improvement. Sorting the wheat from the chaff can be challenging.
In such instances, my recommendations are simple: When buying or replacing magazines, buy good magazines from known-quality makers and you’ll likely have no issues. Known makers of good magazines are Bravo Company Manufacturing and Okay Industries, with Okay Industries making probably the finest alloy magazine widely available. When a malfunction is traced to a magazine, notate it. If a magazine of any make induces a malfunction twice, retire it permanently and unceremoniously via destroying it and then trashing it. Do not let someone come along and retrieve it, possibly endangering their life.
If you have an older magazine that you use regularly and it gives you no trouble, march on. Age alone is no reason to discard a good piece of equipment. However, don’t get sentimental about your magazines! While not truly disposable as was originally intended with the AR-10 and AR-15, they are consumable items that will wear out even if babied. When they stop functioning at 100% discard them and buy new ones. At the very least, if you must keep it, distinctly mark it so that it will only be used for practice and training, nothing else.
As far as I am concerned about the plethora of polymer magazines today, the only two I buy that I depend on and have worked 100% of the time with no issues are Magpul PMAG’s and TangoDown ARC mags. It has been my experience that others either offer no performance increase for their greater cost, or are deficient in areas of durability or reliability. If you want to try other brands for evaluation, fine, but you will have to try a great many of them over a long time to even get close to the amount of assurance you would have if you just bought a PMAG or ARC mag instead.
Whatever magazines you select, performance speaks. It is an essential component for proper functioning of your rifle, and so long as it works 100% of the time and does not have to be hammered in or out of the rifle, do not get too caught up in trying to find the “perfect” magazine.
Storing of Magazines
When storing magazines, the same basic rules apply as when storing firearms: avoid damp locations, and use desiccant or dehumidifiers to reduce moisture in the storage container. AR magazines can be stored loaded with a few caveats.
Use caution when leaving alloy magazines stored loaded for long periods of time. The pressure of the fully compressed spring pressing the cartridge stack against the feed lips can lead to the lips spreading apart, changing their geometry and causing the malfunctions discussed above. Note that leaving a spring compressed for a long time (in the case of modern magazine springs) does not cause it to lose its strength as is often asserted, or at least very, very little strength, assuming that it is not stored in excessively high temperatures.
If storing a PMAG loaded and worrying over feed lip deformation, which has been tested extensively in the above example, you can simply use the snap-on top cover which will alleviate the pressure on the feed lips.
The AR-15 design has been around awhile, decades now, and has seen many revisions and versions of its magazine come and go. From classic alloy to the most modern polymer, the only thing that matters about the magazines you choose is that they are durable and function reliably.
Whatever your preference, buy them cheap, stack them deep and decommission any troublemakers and you’ll find that any of them are up to the job of keeping your rifle firing for a long time to come. This goes without saying, but you should also get your firearm from a reputable dealer; obviously you can find the perfect AR 15 rifle for sale online.
What is your preferred material for magazines, polymer or metal? Have you found one brand to be superior to all others? Let us know in the comments!