One of the local cops here told me something that seems to be supported by cops everywhere – nothing good happens after 11pm.

If we were to slog through the crime statistics of just about anywhere on the planet, we’d see that most crimes are committed under cover of darkness. Certainly when it comes to those dreaded dynamic ‘home invasion’-type scenarios they almost always happen when it’s dark. Under a disaster or end-of-the-world scenario its reasonable to imagine that these sorts of nocturnal threats are only going to increase and be even more dangerous since, in most cases, electric lighting will be absent.

the_omega_man_large_04If you watch ‘The Omega Man’, you’ll see that our hero, Robert Neville (Charlton Heston), has a big ‘ol flashlight pipe-strapped to his Swedish K. Not a new idea, but probably the one of the first times it was brought to a wider audience. At the time, pretty much the only factory firearm with a dedicated weaponlight was the HiStandard 10A/B series of shotguns…never very common and quite quaint by todays standards of tacticool. (And, yes, if you go back far enough on the internet you can discover revolver-mounted flashlights that go back darn near 100 years….but they were more novelties and evolutionary dead-ends limited by bulb- and battery technology. [And at least one such fitted Luger.]

As time went on, folks seemed to realize that Bad Stuff happens at night and it might be a good idea to incorporate lights into the tactics of those who respond to those Bad Things. The most practiced technique is probably the Harries Technique (which is often miscalled ‘Harris Technique’). This is still a good way to use a powerful light when you don’t have it mounted on your handgun…but its not as great as being able to use both hands on your pistol.

At some point we finally transitioned to purpose-built weapon-mounted lights. These things are great and I love ‘em. The only real drawback, in my opinion, is that it makes it too easy for people to do something that is inherently unsafe – using their weaponlight like a flashlight. (This is much like people using their riflescope as they would binoculars.) Unless you think there’s something over there you need to shoot, don’t point your gun at it because it’s more convenient than using your flashlight.

When these things first came out, the ‘Krytpon’-type bulbs were the standard. Intense incandescent bulbs that generated a lot of heat and sucked juice like Ted Kennedy at an open bar. Eventually the LED technology caught up and nowadays almost all the usual weaponlights are LED.

I’ve played with a few lights over the years. At the moment, I’ve got a Streamlight TLR-2 sitting on the Uzi and it’s an awesome light. (Yes, it has a laser. Not my idea, the light was a gift. Normally, Im kinda on the fence about lasers.) My nightstand Glock has an older Streamlight M3 on it and as soon as I can free up the coin, I’ll be dropping a Streamlight TLR on that one as well. Speaking of dropping, the Glock pistol light is just embarassing. The local PD here had them and quickly moved on to the Streamlight when it was found the Glock lights had a tendency to eject themselves off the gun during recoil. Most of the Glock lights wound up sitting on the rails of the AR’s that are in the cop cars. The Streamlight has a screw to tension the mount so it does not come off the gun…something to think about. (It appears that Glock may have addressed the issue since the copy says that the lights also come with a ‘mounting tool’ now.) A couple years back I found a SureFire Scoutlight in a pawn shop and I love this little light. WIth the push-button tailcap you can use it dismounted from the gun like would an ordinary flashlight. Having run out of guns to mount it to, it sits on my 10/22 in case we are ever subject to a nighttime raid by…uhm…hamsters, I guess. I’ve also found a few of the older incandescent SureFire weaponlights at pretty good deals. Folks usually dump them at bargain prices when they upgrade to the LED versions. Theyre still quite serviceable and are better than no light at all. Additionally, many of them are modular so you can replace the front end with an LED head if you’re so inclined. And finally, a couple years ago I saved my pennies and got this bad boy. It wasn’t cheap (SureFire 618LMG) but it is a very, very nice addition to the go-to 870.

Overkill? Too tacticool? I dunno…I’m sure there’s someone out there who thinks that all you need is to duct tape a $2 WalMart flashlight to the barrel of your Mosin-Nagant and youre good to go..(“Don’t need any of those yuppie survivalist gun toys!”) but when something goes wrong at 3am I think having the option of lighting up the area in front of your muzzle has a lot going for it.

I mention the SureFire stuff because its what I have and they have, hands down, the broadest selection of gear. I’ve used their stuff for years (I mean waaaay back) and have been pretty pleased with it. There are other brands and a few up-and-comers are making some very interesting products these days. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but if the opportunity presents itself I wouldn’t mind giving them a try. In the meantime, being something of a hidebound traditionalist, I’ll stick to the brands I know and have experience with.

Does every gun need to have a light on it? I don’t think so. But it would be a good idea if every gun had the option of having one attached to it. Since accessory rails are standard on just about every gun these days theres very few firearms that won’t accept a light. Pick up a decent StreamLight or SureFire and keep it with your gear if you don’t want to have one on every gun…just switch it to whatever gun youre running out the door with.

Last thing – batteries. CR123 batts are the way to go. There are a few lights out there that take other size batteries but you’d be crazy to go with anything other than the CR123. Virtually everyone has adopted the lithium CR123 batts for optics and lights, so stick with that…makes logistics easier. Spend the extra money and get real, good, known-quantity, CR123 batts. Don’t cheap out by getting some “Sonysonic” or “Duraready” or other cheap Chinese crap. Buy the real deal. $300 worth of weaponlight is just dead weight on the end of your gun if the batteries self-discharge from sitting unused for a while…or worse, the leak all over the innards of your expensive light. Don’t do it!


Article – Tokyo’s disaster parks: hi-tech survival bunkers hidden under green spaces

Another fascinating link from our friend over at Self Sufficient Mountain Living.

Tokyo’s refuge parks are cleverly disguised survival bunkers for the masses during times of urban chaos and dysfunction. They are outfitted with solar-powered charging stations for electric bicycles and smart phones in case of electrical failure, public benches that transform into cooking stoves, and manholes that double as emergency toilets. Under the rolling grass hills and cherry blossom trees are water reservoirs and storehouses containing enough food to allow entire districts to survive the critically important first 72 hours following a disaster.

I love this idea. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across something about Japans civil defense bunkers. I would guess that many countries have some low-profile, heavy-duty preps in place. What I love is the ‘hide in plain sight’ and dual-use nature of this park. I’ve long thought that there should be something similar in the US. (Although, for all I know, perhaps there is.) Back when the military was decommissioning all sorts of unneeded military bases and facilites they should have had each state take ownership of a few and use them as disaster staging areas. Fuel dumps, warehouses of supplies, airfield for transport, etc, etc, etc.

Japanese society, though, is a great deal different than US society. From what I’ve read, disasters tend to be fairly orderly affairs with minimal violence and lawlessness. When we try turning a sports stadium into a shelter it becomes Thunderdome. Another excellent reason to do your own disaster prep instead of letting the government do it for you.

Still, I like the notion of a municipality embracing the notion of civil defense to the point that it incorporates it into something as ‘green’ as open-space and parks.

Link: Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park

.22 LR reloading kit

Like most people today, you probably didn’t even realize it was possible to reload 22 long rifle ammo. As you can see, it is not only possible but also convenient with one powerful tool and a few accessories.

Our manual contains close up photography, cutaway views, and all details necessary to reload without any other means.

If you are concerned with the 22 LR ammo shortage and tired of looking for bullets to go plinking, our kit will help you become self-sufficient and enjoy shooting on your own terms.

This kit is a must have if you are serious about your bug out bag list and survival gear. With the included instruction pamphlet, you will be re-loading 22 LR ammo using available resources while others are left empty handed.

Whether you are preparing an adequate bug out bag with your survival gear or simply want to reload your own 22 long rifle ammo, the Sharpshooter 22LR Reloader Kit is your answer.

I’ve heard that it was possible to reload .22 LR if you were meticulous enough to hammer out the firing pin dent, scrape the material off some matches, etc, etc…but it seemed a lot easier to simply go to WalMart, plunk down $100, and come home with 5000 rounds of perfect factory ammo. How is stockpiling cap gun rolls any less tiresome than stockpiling .22 ammo? You may say “But Zero, what will you do when that 50,000 rounds of .22 you have is used up?” and my reply is “The same thing I’ll do when my 50,000 cap gun loads are used up.” Additionally, assuming some great apocalyptic event that makes .22 ammo rare and valuable, it seems reasonable to think that no one is going to be concerned with keeping the pipeline of cap gun ammo flowing, whereas any .22 ammo found will be guarded and preserved and protected.

I admire this guys ingenuity, and if I lived in a place where it was truly impossible for me to get .22 ammo I would seriously think about this thing. But I live in a country where I can walk out the door and look behind the seat of pretty much any pickup truck and find a handful of .22. Plus, if youre shooting .22 for small game I would think that 50,000 rounds of ammo is going to last quite a while.

I think this guy is missing the boat. He’d make tons more money if he made a kit to reload the rimfires that are still out there that no one is making ammo for like the .25, .32, .41, .44, and Spencer Rimfires. Lots of old Stevens Crackshots, Remington Derringers, .32 Marlins, etc, out there that folks would love to be able to shoot again.

(Someone may ask, “But you stockpiile reloading equipment, dont you? How is that better than stockpiling loaded ammo, using this example?” A couple ways…first, the level of versatility is greater…if I have a box with some IMR3031, primers, and a buncha .30 bullets I’m pretty much ready to load virtually any .30 caliber that comes across the table….30-30, .308, .30-06, .300 Win, etc. Additionally, far more folks will be reloading for other calibers than .22 so the reloading supplies that I don’t use will have a good trade value. There is virtually no advantage to stockpiling 1000 rounds of .308 reloading supplies over stockpiling 1000 rounds of .308 ammo…except that 1000 rounds of .308 is exactly that – 1000 of .308.The reloading supplies are 1000 rounds of whatever you come across in .30 caliber…so it may be 200 rounds of .30-30 and 500 rounds of .30-06. It opens up a few more options. However, to be pragmatic, I stockpile both ammo and components.)

Article – A Glow in the Desert

A cool article I found in a list of links over at our buddy Self Sufficient Mountain Living. NY Times article about a fella living off in the desert building his own stuff and living his own life.

YOU won’t find directions to the Field Lab, a homestead two and a half miles off Highway 118, deep in the West Texas desert and 30 miles or so from the Mexican border, on MapQuest. But John Wells, who built the place and lives there all by himself, will meet you under a highway billboard in his white Toyota pickup and lead you in, accompanied by a cloud of tenacious Fizzle Flat dust. (He might even offer you dinner: a plate of red beans, rice and broccoli, and a tangy slice of homemade cheese, olive and beer bread, cooked all afternoon in his solar oven.)

Great pictures. Theres always something kinda appealing about getting a chunk of barren land and making remaking it into what you want using noting but your ideas, ingenuity, and muscle. I know a couple folks up here that live closely to that lifestyle, although Montana does require you to come up with some creative and expensive options when winter rolls around. This guy living in BFE Texas has the same headaches, except in reverse – keeping cool. Living in the desert and relying on rainwater can be pretty dicey. I have some friends who bought half a section of land in the Arizona desert. Nothing but dirt, scrub, rock…..and a year-round well/spring. That last part is what makes the rest worthwhile, I suppose.

Trouble is, when  you go and live a life like that you wind up, usually, alone. Not a lot of hot chicks are willing to live in a handmade hut, use a composting toilet, and spend the day welding, digging, and getting sweaty. But it sure does have some appeal for a guy.

Nowadays, living by yourself in the Texas desert seems like a recipe for disaster. One day you see some headlights off in the distance and the next thing you know the Mexican army and its drug-dealing partners are using your place as a drop-off point.

The guy in the article has a blog and it looks pretty interesting. I love the DIY stuff. Although his take on life seems to wander a little to the green, eco-friendly, sustainable, organic side of the fence there is still a lot of interesting things there that would work for the less ‘social’ minded.


From the “Why DIdnt I Think Of This” department:

APOCABOX is a subscription based survival box.  Every other month, a hand-selected collection of survival tools, information and gear is packed and shipped direct to your doorstep.  The subscription charge is $50 per APOCABOX + $8.95 shipping.  Your APOCABOX is guaranteed to be a good deal – regularly with a retail value of $100 or more.  Our strategic partnerships with vendors and our subscription based buying power means you get a bigger BANG for your BUCK.

There’s a video on YouTube showing the unboxing of one of these things:

This looks like my holiday/birthday shopping for LMI just got a lot easier and faster. This looks like a really fun gift. Clever idea and it looks like some decent stuff in there too.


Any time you want to start some sort of flamewar or neverending thread cascade, bring up the topic of ideal pistol calibers.

Opinions are like that orifice at your fourth point of contact…everyone has one and most stink. It seems that many of the more authoritative studies, which are really just collections of incident reports and results, suggest that when comparing FMJ to FMJ, it’s a draw in stopping power for the 9/40/45 autos. Mathematically, of course, there are differences in energy, etc, but in terms of the famous ‘percentage of stops’ , the differences (in FMJ) are pretty small…usually not more than 3-5% points. When someone is trying to kick in your door at 4am that 5% is kinda comforting (I’ll take 90% over 85%), but I’ve never felt undergunned with 9mm for bipedal organisms.

Like lotsa folks, when I got my first automatic I eventually got into a 1911 of some flavor. (I actually have a very tricked out Springfield from back in the day when all those features they offer now had to be done by gunsmiths on a custom basis.) Is it a good gun? You bet. Reliable? With non-crap ammo, yes. Accurate? Very. Parts availability? Everywhere.

So why arent I running around with a 1911 tucked into my pants? Well, honestly, the 1911 was a great gun for many years but to think that there have been no significant advancements in firearms design since then is just foolish, dogmatic, or both. I’ve played around and carried all sortsa different guns. The 1911 is a great gun but it’s really a specialists and enthusiasts gun. SpecForceOpDeltaSix might carry them but they don’t have to pay for their gunsmithing or worry about beating the thing up. I want a gun that can get wet, dirty, dropped, banged up, and still be reliable and reasonably accurate. I want parts replacement to be cheap, drop-in without fitting, require no tools, and usually be unnecessary. And I want it cheap and out-of-the-box. That is NOT a 1911.

Okay, fine…so I don’t want a 1911 for my end-of-the-world gun. But this post isn’t a love story about Glocks. It’s about why I like the 9mm for most of that end-of-the-world planning.

For starters, lets move all the other autopistol calibers off the table. 10mm, .357 SIG, .38 Super, etc. I think we can all agree that while those cartridges have a lot to offer, they are ’boutique’ cartridges that are going to be somewhat infrequently encountered when compared to the ubiquitous 9mm and .45. When the lights go out and its Katrina-ville out there, the odds are quite good that most automatic pistols you run across will be either .40, 9mm, or .45 ACP.

Ok, so of those three, why do I like the 9mm? The .40 splits the difference between the two and offers great compromise. Higher magazine capacity than most .45s and heavier bullet weight than most 9mm. Best of both worlds, right? Well, yes. But ballistics and magazine capacity, while important, aren’t the biggest deciding factors.

Every major handgun maker seems to offer a pistol in those three calibers. Sig, Glock, Beretta, S&W, Colt (sorta), Springfield, CZ, etc all offer various models in 9/40/45. Most of the 9mm guns were developed with an eye towards military contracts, so the 9mm versions tend to be the most tested and refined. Take the Glock, for example…the dreaded kB (kaboom) is almost always with the non-9mm versions. Since gunmakers value military contracts so highly, they tested the crap outta the 9mm guns in ways that they probably wouldnt have for any other caliber.  Finding a handgun isn’t particularly challenging. Finding a carbine, however, is another story. Like ‘em or loathe ‘em, some folks (myself included) think there’s a place for a pistol-caliber carbine. In .45 your choices come down to a Thompson, a hard-to-find .45 Uzi that uses equally difficult to acquire magazines, the also difficult to acquire Marlin Carbine, and possibly a few rare semi-auto M3 Grease Guns that are harder to find than the .45 Uzi. Drop your sights a little to the .40 and you start getting some more options. No Thompson or Uzi, but you do get the HiPoint carbine (which is actually a decent firearm..its their handguns that get to be the butt of jokes), Ruger PC40, Beretta carbine, the KelTec, a few ARs from Oly and RRA, and a couple other lesser knowns. Dip down into the 9mm and you get some Thompsons, Uzis, HK94 and clones, 9mm ARs, Feather Industries, Marlin Camp Carbines, Ruger PC9, HiPoint, Beretta, semi-auto Sten, etc. So if youre the kinda guy that likes the idea of a footlocker somewhere stuffed with a carbine, pistol, interchangeable mags, and a case of ammo, the 9mm gives you the most options.

Ammo availability in the US is pretty even across the board. Just about every law enforcement agency in the US uses the .40 so odds are pretty good that youre going to find some locally. Outside of the US the .40 isn’t nearly as well represented as the 9mm. Pretty much every military uses 9mm so there’s always ammo for it everywhere on the planet. Does that matter since you’re probably not leaving the US? Not really, except that if every country on the planet is set up to make its own 9mm or is issuing it to their troops then theres a correspondingly large amount of the stuff in the international markets which means that 9mm is probably going to be the most available and least expensive of those three calibers. The guys in Kiev, Berlin, Toronto, Milan, Krakow and Seoul may not have much experience making .40 but you can bet they’ve got decades of experience cranking out 9mm.

Since 9mm is the go-to for most military forces (including our own), the logistics bases for those guns tends to be centered on 9mm. Or, put another way, which is more common surplus 9mm magazines or surplus .40 magazines? (The same reason why the 6.8 SPC might be a better cartridge than 5.56 but still a bad idea from a logistics standpoint.)

Since I don’t have the same restrictions about ammo as the military, I don’t have to use FMJ in my 9mms. (Although I do keep lots of it around.) I can use whatever JHPs happen to be available and feed well in my guns. When you get away from FMJ and into the magic bullets, the lethality of the 9mm (and the .40 and the .45) go up quite a bit.

So, the reason i went with 9mm instead of .40 and .45 is – designs that were battle-proven and specific to the caliber, wide availability of ammo, large market of caliber-specific surplus military items, broader selection of carbines, magazine capacity, economic to reload, and easy to shoot.

Does this mean you should make most of your pistols 9mm? Not at all. You may be some retired quartermaster with a garage full of cases and cases of DCM .45 match ammo, or you may be a cop with keys to the department range facilities and ammo locker. You may have a particular circumstance that makes one of the other calibers a better choice for you. For me, though, I’ve found that the guns I want are more readily available in 9mm, the accessories and logistics needs are more easily met in that caliber, and things in 9mm are just generally more affordable.



Civil disturbance

I’ll ignore the ‘why’s about whats going on in Missouri, and just go to the ‘what’.

What’s the proper recourse for when your neighborhood or town gets swamped with all sorts of civil unrest? Well, The First Rule Of Surviving A Disaster is paramount: Don’t Be There.

But, let’s be real….if there’s going to be a civil disturbance and the smart thing to do is leave town, would I do that? Wellllll….leave my house undefended and unprotected from rampaging mobs? Tough call.

The Israelis have interesting ways to break up large mob violence – they find the ringleaders and shoot them in the crotch with suppressed Ruger 10/22 rifles. That would certainly take the wind outta my sails. Seems nowadays the plans are to contain the mob with as small a perimeter as possible and let them work it outta their system. Thats great as long as your car and house isn’t within that perimeter.

And thats where you wind up with scenes like this:

58852252And, most recently:

xtattoo-parlor.jpg.pagespeed.ic.WOuyJnR8fB(And if you’re going to pose for the AP photographer at one of these affairs, at least have the decency to take a moment and carry a spare mag, less-lethal option, and some ancillary gear… professionalism, people!)

There are tremendous differences between protesting and rioting. A good baseline is that destruction of other peoples stuff is a riot. Protest all you want, but when you start flipping over cars and setting fire to stuff I’m going to suddenly become a huge fan of guys with helmets and nightsticks. (Or as NYPD calls them “hats n’ bats”.)

I’m a huge fan of civil liberties. Huge. I don’t care if you’re protesting to allow the legal recognition of same sex hamsters who want abortions while crossing the border to smoke medical marijuana with wealt redistributionists….as long as you’re not breaking the laws and are protesting peacefully, more power to ya. But, when you start blocking traffic, throwing things through windows and impacting other peoples lives, whether they want it or not…..well, thats when you lose my support.