– Yet More Survival Skills
From: How to Survive and Thrive During Hard Times
There are two possible scenarios for the beginning of hard times:
- 1. Scenario One: You have some money and many of the local stores are still open for business.
- 2. Scenario Two: You don’t have any money, or you do have some money but the stores are all closed.
The overwhelming vast majority of people who have thought about the possibility of hard times are expecting the hard times to unfold according to the first scenario above. Therefore they have not done anything to prepare for any type of hard times. The reason they don’t prepare is because they believe they will have plenty of time at the beginning of the hard times to buy all the things they will need. Although this might work it is my personal opinion that this strategy has about one chance in a million of being successful.
The most likely scenario will probably be the second one above. In the second scenario:
- A person will not have any money, or
- A person will have some money but he or she won’t be able to get to it because the banks will all be closed, or
- A person will have some money and he or she will really, really want to spend it on the things he or she desperately needs but all the stores will be closed because the stores are now empty and they have nothing left to sell.
The second scenario is the one that occurs when an area is destroyed by a hurricane or a tornado or an earthquake. The people living in Japan on March 11, 2011 discovered how quickly an unexpected hard times event (an 8.9 earthquake and a 30-foot tsunami) could completely disrupt their normal life style and thrust them into a day-by-day survival mode where they had to deal with radioactive fallout, limited amounts of food and water, and intermittent utility services. Simple things, like batteries, or a flashlight, or a battery operated radio, were unavailable in Japan after March 11 and during April of 2011. Many, many people in Japan really wanted to buy these things but all the stores in Japan were sold out of these items. The only individuals who had these items were the people who had purchased them before the earthquake and the tsunami hit the island of Japan.
Hard times are inevitable. The only things we do not know about hard times in advance are:
- 1. the trigger event,
- 2. the severity of the hard times, and
- 3. the duration of the hard times.
The trigger event could be anything, such as an earthquake, or a tornado, or a hurricane, or a nuclear plant meltdown, or a world war, or hyperinflation, or a simple common ordinary worldwide famine. Severe famines depopulate entire regions and they cause massive population relocations that result in a huge number of refugees who die of starvation or starvation related health problems. And severe famines always convert a significant percentage of common ordinary people into ruthless savages who live by the law-of-the-jungle or survival-of-the-fittest. This has been historically documented so many times in the past that to believe that a severe famine will unfold differently today is ludicrous. It really doesn’t matter if you and 5% (or 30%) of the rest in the people in the world can afford to buy food, or if some percentage of families already have an emergency food supply. The people who can’t afford food and who do not have an emergency food supply will not simply sit down and wait to die a peaceful quiet extremely unpleasant death due to starvation. They will do the same things today that starving people have always done in the past. It will begin with just a few people in each area reverting to savage behavior. Then you will hear about small organized groups of people who are engaging in savage behavior. Then each geographical region will be overrun by a huge uncontrollable mob of people who are starving and they will do anything to anybody in order to survive. This mob of starving people will first sweep through their immediate area, then they will descend on nearby suburban areas, and then they will overflow into the nearby rural areas and they will loot and destroy every farm and ranch they find. Many of the people in this mob will die or be killed during this looting process. But some of the people in this mob will survive for a little longer on the food they steal. However, after they have eaten all their stolen food the vast majority of them will still die of starvation because:
- 1. they don’t know how to grow food, or
- 2. they do know how to grow food but they have absolutely no previous real world gardening experience, or
- 3. they simply have no desire to grow food.
And there will be no one they can turn to for assistance because they will have already murdered the farmers and ranchers who had extensive experience in growing food and managing livestock.
Is a worldwide famine in your future? I don’t know. But I do pay attention to the news and I do know that the United States of America is having serious planting problems with millions and millions of acres of their agricultural land in the Spring of the year 2011. And many of the other major food exporting countries around the world are also experiencing severe planting and/or harvesting problems this year. And many, many news commentators are now predicting a significant increase in food prices later this year. If food prices significantly increase at the same time that tax revenues are down and the true unemployment rate is exceptionally high, then this combination of events could easily lead to massive worldwide unrest due to a simple ordinary worldwide famine. If this happens then living conditions will be leveled worldwide and everyone everywhere will be living in a nightmare third-world economy. The reason is because politicians and governments can’t simply create food by passing new laws or making long speeches. All they can do is try to deceive people into believing that they have everything under control and that the horrible growling noise that everyone is hearing from their stomachs is just their imagination playing tricks on them. This is the one speech that nobody is going to believe and when that happens then the people of the world will revolt in a most unpleasant fashion.
The above is just one example of a worst case breakdown in society. The good news is that it may not happen during your lifetime. In fact, some people believe that a worst case breakdown in no longer possible or feasible in today’s modern world. These individuals believe that our leaders will somehow be able to do all the following:
- 1. Water: Keep the water flowing in their faucets. However, as time passes the quality of that water gradually declines. At first it contains just a few tiny black things, and later it also contains some nasty chemicals, and finally it even contains radioactive particles. But the people gradually become accustomed to the constantly decreasing quality of their water and they accept their poor quality water as being normal.
- 2. Sewer: Keep the sewer systems working. Otherwise human waste will begin to accumulate inside and outside their dwellings. If this were to happen then sickness and disease would quickly exceed the capacity of their local medical facilities and people would just start dying. Therefore their leaders would never allow this to happen.
- 3. Food: Keep food on the store shelves. However, as the quality of that food gradually begins to decline, and as the price of that low quality food gradually begins to increase, people become accustomed to their weight loss and their frequent dietary related illnesses and they accept it as part of their new lower standard of living. And they also gradually accept the fact that many older people, and many younger children, are now starving to death. And they accept the fact that some people can no longer afford the expensive low quality food and that those people are now stealing from other people in order to survive.
- 4. Electricity: Keep the electricity flowing to their homes. People gradually accept the fact that their electricity is only on for a few hours each day. Then they gradually accept the fact that the quality of that electricity is so unstable that it ruins the appliances in their homes.
- 5. Heat: Keep the propane or the gas flowing to their homes in the winter so they don’t freeze to death. However, as the cost of that fuel increases many families will not be able to afford it and therefore many people will suffer during the winter and some will die as a result of the freezing weather.
- 6. Employment and Housing: Keep the economy healthy so that most people still have jobs and a place to live. However, as time passes more and more businesses go bankrupt, and more and more people lose their jobs and their homes. The lucky ones are able to move in with their relatives. The unlucky ones find a place to sleep below a bridge, or in a temporary tent city, or in a shanty built from scrap stolen from a junk yard. And with each passing month the true number of unemployed individuals increases and the number of tent cities and shanty towns also increases.
- 7. Police Protection: Maintain the illusion of law enforcement. People gradually accept the fact that the number of thieves, looters, rapists, and murderers is constantly increasing. And gradually they accept the fact that these criminals are not being punished when they are caught. Finally, they accept the fact that their government and their police are not helping them but they are causing some of their problems.
- 8. Money and Inflation: Keep some type of paper money flowing through the economy. People simply accept the fact that their smallest denomination bill is 1,000. And a short time later their smallest bill is 10,000 and all their other bills have a lot more zeros on it than that.
The above is an example of a slow collapse of an economy. Living conditions gradually continue to get worse and worse over a long period of time and people simply adjust to each new reduction in their standard of living. And with each new reduction in their living conditions the above people believe that they have now reached bottom and things couldn’t possibly get any worse.
What the above individuals refuse to believe is that one day the poor quality water in their faucets may cease to flow, that their sewer systems may stop working, that there may be no food for sale anywhere, that there may be no electricity of any type, and that nobody in the entire world will accept their paper money. These individuals may be correct and this may not happen during their lifetimes. But to say that it is impossible and that it could never happen is not being very realistic when you consider everything that is currently happening around our world at this time.
That’s enough “worst case doom-and-gloom.” For the purposes of this chapter let’s assume both of the original hard times scenarios are possible and let’s examine the most practical strategy for each of those two scenarios.
The First Scenario:
You do have some money and
the local stores are still open for business.
If you already own an item in the following list then you don’t need to buy another one. However, if you don’t own one or more of the following recommended items then this may be your last chance to purchase one of these “necessities.”
Obviously the most reasonable course of action would have been to have bought the following items before the onset of hard times. But if you have procrastinated and the hard times are now here, then you should not wait any longer.
If possible purchase at least one of all the following items. It would be better to have at least one of everything than to have lots of one thing and none of several other things. Use your money intelligently. This may be your last chance to acquire the things your family will need to survive.
If you are like most of us you probably only have a limited amount of money and you will need to prioritize your spending. Therefore the following list has been separated into three sections:
- 1. Highest priority items.
- 2. Extremely important items.
- 3. Very important items.
Section One: Highest Priority Items
- 1. One, two, or three good quality heavy-duty tarps in sizes from 8 feet by 10 feet, up to a maximum size of approximately 20 feet by 30 feet. These can be used to capture rainwater or they may be used as an emergency shelter, or they may be used for both purposes at the same time. Do not waste your money on a tent.
- 2. At least 100 feet of nylon or polypropylene cord 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch thick.
- 3. At least 100 feet of 20 gauge black wire (hardware section) or 22 gauge green wire (floral section).
- 4. A box of 1,000 paper matches and at least two good quality butane lighters made by two different companies.
- 5. If you do not already own a good hunting knife then buy a Buck Model 119 hunting knife.
- 6. If you do not already own a good flashlight then buy a L.E.D. 2AA Mini Maglite flashlight. Buy an elastic head band in the sporting goods section.
- 7. A battery operated radio that uses AA batteries. Either buy an Emerson at Walmart or buy a Grundig G6 at Radio Shack. Read the chapters in this book about radios.
- 8. At least sixteen rechargeable AA NiMH batteries that are already pre-charged. These should be the same size batteries that operate all your battery operated equipment.
- 9. At least one 3,000 yard spool of thread in the sewing section at Walmart. Also buy one package of thin hand sewing needles and one package of thick heavy-duty craft sewing needles. A hand sewing needle has the point at one end of the needle and the thread hole, or eye, at the opposite end of the needle. Also buy one small package of assorted color thread that also contains needles and a needle threader.
10. A good pair of waterproof work/hiking boots, either brown or black, with ribbed soles and reinforced toes. Invest in boots that are about 1/2 size larger than what you have worn in the past to prevent foot blisters and to allow you to wear two pair of socks at the same time in the freezing cold winter months. Try the boots on and make absolutely sure they are comfortable to walk in.
11. A good quality portable first-aid kit. The kit should contain a variety of practical useful items and not just an assortment of bandages.
12. A fever thermometer that is the shake-down type and not one that is battery operated.
13. Four extra boxes of bandages in 3/4 inch or 1 inch widths.
14. One 2-inch or 3-inch wide elastic bandage.
15. At least one extra roll of sterile gauze and some white bandage tape.
16. A reasonable supply of the over-the-counter medications and ointments your family has used in the past, such as pain and fever reducers, anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-itch cream, etc.
17. At least 12 bars of pure “Ivory” brand soap for each member of your family, if your family is not allergic to Ivory soap.
18. At least one extra toothbrush for each member of your family and several tubes of toothpaste and several containers of dental floss.
19. A variety of vegetable seeds. If you can’t find vegetable seeds for sale then buy one Roma tomato, two potatoes (either red or baking), some dry pinto beans, and two Golden Delicious apples:
- Slice the tomato, carefully remove and save the seeds, and then eat the rest of the tomato. You can grow a tomato plant inside your house in a plastic pot in front of a window that gets good sun most of the day. Read the chapter on how to grow vegetables.
- Let the potatoes grow sprouts and then cut off and plant the sprouts. You may then eat the remainder of the two potatoes. Read the gardening chapter on how to plant potatoes.
- Do not eat the dry pinto beans. Save the dry beans so you can plant them as seed to grow more pinto beans. Pinto beans will grow to maturity in 65 to 90 days (depending on your climate and soil) whereas most other beans usually take between 90 to 110 days to grow to maturity. If your grocery store doesn’t have dry pinto beans then buy dry kidney beans or any other type of dry beans your family will eat. Any type of dry bean may be planted as seed to grow more of that same type of bean. Beans contain protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and lots of calories.
- Carefully remove and save the seeds from the apples and then eat the apples. Read the chapter on how to grow fruit trees from seed.
20. A garden shovel with a pointed blade and a total length of about 54-inches from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle. Also buy one garden hoe.
21. A water hose that is at least 100-feet long (or two 50-feet long hoses) and a water hose nozzle.
22. At least a one-year’s supply of food for each member of your family. Read the food section in this book.
23. If you don’t have a firearm then buy a firearm. A semi-automatic 22LR caliber rifle is the minimum investment. If you can afford it buy an original design AK-47 and a Glock Model 22 that shoots 40 caliber ammunition. Read the firearm chapters.
24. If you don’t have ammunition then buy at least 500 to 1,000 rounds of 22LR ammo and several boxes of ammo for your other firearms. If possible pay cash to avoid leaving a paper trail.
25. One pair of safety eyeglasses for each member of your family.
26. If you don’t already own one, buy a “Holy Bible.”
If you can still buy things over the internet then buy the following items. Many of these items may be purchased from sellers on amazon.com or on ebay. Or you may do a simple web search and locate online sellers of the following products:
- A good quality stainless steel gravity water filter system, such as the Berkefeld or the Aquarain, and at least four filter elements. If the stainless steel systems are on backorder then it is okay to buy four or more of the replacement filter elements with O-ring seals and wing nuts. You can use them to make your own homemade water filter following the instructions in the water chapter in this book.
- At least one good quality gill net to make it easier to catch fish for the frying pan. Read the chapter on gill nets.
- At least three steel pan traps and three conibear traps for capturing wild animals for food. Read the chapter on traps and snares.
- At least one solar battery charger that will recharge AAA, AA, C, and D rechargeable NiMH batteries. Read the chapter on batteries.
- At least one portable mono-crystalline solar panel that will provide at least 15 watts of power per hour. Do not invest in a solar panel that provides more than 60 watts of power per hour. It is better to have several smaller capacity solar panels instead of one big solar panel. If one of the smaller panels malfunctions you will have only lost a small part of your total investment.
Section Two: Extremely Important Items
- 1. At least 24 double rolls of toilet tissue for each family member.
- 2. 500 to 1000 yards of 10 pound to 25 pound monofilament fishing line.
- 3. An assortment of fish hooks, swivels, and lead weights.
- 4. At least 500 feet of strong twine or string. Walmart sells 249-feet of #18 Catfish Nylon Twine (113 pounds tensile strength) for about $3. They sell 486-feet of #36 Catfish Nylon Twine (235 pounds tensile strength) for about $9. These are twisted nylon twines and they are not fishing line. This twine can be used whenever you need some string or twine to tie something and since it is nylon it may be used outdoors and it will not rot easily like cotton string.
- 5. In the sporting goods section buy a Magnesium Fire Starter. This unit has “fire steel” and it has magnesium so you could start a fire in almost any type of weather in an emergency.
- 6. In the sporting goods section buy a good quality compass with a dial needle that points north. The compass should be completely enclosed inside a plastic carrying case that you can open and close to protect the face of the compass. Do not purchase a battery operated electronic compass. Do not buy a cheap compass.
- 7. In the sporting goods section buy a camping solar shower bag that holds four or five gallons of water. Fill the bag with water in the morning, place the bag in the sun, and in the evening you will have hot or very warm water for a personal shower. Being able to take a simple shower after a hard day of work and cleaning the sweat off your body will allow you to get a really good night’s sleep. A good night’s rest is critical during hard times. If you can afford it you should buy a solar shower bag for each member of your family.
- 8. A Leatherman Wave multi-tool (usually sold in the sporting goods section near the knives).
- 9. At least twelve pair of extra socks for each member of your family.
10. At least one 12-volt marine (or golf cart) deep cycle battery. This battery can be charged with a portable solar panel. The battery could then be used to recharge many of your battery operated electrical appliances that have a cigarette lighter adapter, such as your cell phone or your laptop computer.
11. At least one 12-volt cigarette lighter adapter plug for charging battery operated items. This is the type of adapter that can be connected to the two terminals of a 12-volt deep cycle battery. These are sometimes sold in the electronics section or the automotive section of a store or at a Radio Shack store.
12. If you don’t already have a reasonable assortment of ordinary hand tools then buy a good quality pre-assembled case of general purpose hand tools inside their own special plastic carrying case. The set should have a hammer and screwdrivers and pliers and wrenches and a tape measure. There is a big difference between a set of socket wrenches and a general purpose tool kit. A general purpose tool kit will usually contain a few socket wrenches but it will also include other items such as a hammer and pliers.
13. If you do not have a wood saw then purchase a Stanley Sharptooth 15-inch wood saw.
Section Three: Very Important Items
- 1. Several pair of gloves for each member of your family.
- 2. If possible buy a ski mask, or a cap with ear flaps, for each member of your family.
- 3. Some cast iron cook pots with lids, such as the “Combo Cooker” cast iron cook set that is sold at hardware stores and in the sporting goods section of some Walmarts.
- 4. If you do not already own one, buy a medium size backpack and buy a folding luggage carrier. A school backpack would be fine. Many of the camping backpacks will probably be too big. You will only be able to load a backpack with about 30 pounds for an adult male, and about 25 pounds for an adult female, and about 20 pounds for a teenager, and about 10 or 15 pounds for a child. The child’s backpack should contain his or her spare clothes and some of his or her favorite small toys, such as a doll, or small hot wheels cars, or coloring book and crayons.
- 5. An outdoor mercury-filled thermometer and an indoor mercury-filled thermometer. Do not purchase battery operated thermometers.
- 6. One AA battery-operated quartz wall clock with hands that only shows the time of day.
- 7. One AA battery operated quartz clock that has an alarm and that keeps track of the date, and the day of the week, and maybe even the internal room temperature.
- 8. At least one 12-volt portable electric fan that has a 12-volt cigarette lighter adapter. These are sometimes sold in the hardware section or in the automotive section of stores or at Recreational Vehicle dealers. If you have relatively high summer temperatures in your area then you will truly appreciate the comfort of an electric fan.
- 9. A 1,200 watt inverter. These are sometimes sold in the automotive section or the electronics section of stores, or at Radio Shack. If possible do not buy an inverter that provides less than 1,000 watts or more than 2,000 watts of continuous power. Do not make your decision based on the momentary peak power rating of the inverter which will be higher than the inverter’s continuous power rating. You may need to purchase this item on the internet.
10. At least two portable fire extinguishers that will work on all types of fires.
11. If possible buy a mosquito head net for each member of your family. During hard times the insect population multiplies. All types of flying insects will fly around your head and they will annoy you and distract you and seriously reduce your productivity and your effectiveness in whatever you are trying to accomplish. The simple solution to the flying insect problem is to purchase a mosquito head net for each member of your family. The head net can be worn under a hat or over a hat or with no hat at all. These head nets sell for less than two-dollars in the camping section of many stores. The net will keep the tiny insects out of your ears, eyes, nose, and mouth and you will not experience the unpleasant gagging reflex caused by inhaling a gnat. (Note: A mosquito head net, and a thin lightweight long-sleeve shirt, and a pair of lightweight gloves will eliminate the need for insect repellent during “bug season.”)
12. One large mosquito netting for each member of your family. During hard times flying insects increase exponentially and a mosquito net can be placed above and around each person’s bed so that person can get some undisturbed sleep each night. During hard times you may become displaced from your normal residence and a mosquito net will make a big difference in your comfort each night wherever you may be forced to sleep.
13. At least one case of bottled water in the 16 ounce or 20 ounce plastic bottles. Save the empty bottles and the screw on caps. Refill the water bottles with water yourself when they are empty. These water bottles are a convenient size for personal consumption and they will allow you to keep track of how much water you are drinking each day. This will allow you to consume your water on a planned schedule. During hard times you should always boil your water for one-minute, and then allow it to cool. Boiling will kill all the pathogens that might be in the water but boiling will not eliminate radioactive particles or dissolved chemicals. Read the water chapter in this book.
14. One good quality 100% stainless steel manually operated hand-crank can opener.
15. At least ten disposable razors.
16. 75 square feet of Reynolds Heavy-Duty Aluminum Foil (18 inches wide and 16.67 feet long), and one box of 5 Reynolds Oven Bags. You will also need to download the instructions on how to build a Solar Oven from this web site: http://www.oksolar.com/samples/sunoven1.html
17. At least one deck of good quality plastic coated playing cards.
18. Some paper, some ink pens, some pencils, and a small pencil sharpener with an internal razor blade.
Depending on your current situation, such as where you live and the skills and special needs of your family members, you may need to change the priority of some of the above items from one category to another category. For example, if you have a job where your appearance is critical to keeping your job, then razors should be moved to the first category of items. You may also need to add some things that are unique to your family’s specific situation.
Depending on your past life experiences you may or may not understand the critical importance of all the items in the above list. Just because you don’t understand why an item is important does not mean that item is not important. If the hard times you are currently experiencing continue to get worse with the passage of time then the importance of each and every item in the above list will gradually become obvious to you. It would be sad if you decided to ignore the above advice and not buy an item just because you currently believe it is useless, and then discover later that your long-term survival actually depends on that item you decided you would not buy.
The Second Scenario:
Either you don’t have any money or
you do have some money but the stores are all closed.
Recycling: Do not throw anything away unless it is worthless. As time passes you may discover a very practical use for some of the things you perceived as “trash” at the beginning of the hard times.
Water: Fill every container that will hold water with water. Save every plastic bottle and jar that has a screw on top. If you have a case of bottled water, or bottled Gatorade, or bottled soda, then rinse and save every empty plastic or glass bottle and its screw on cap. If you are not absolutely sure about the quality of your water then you should boil your water for one-minute during hard times to destroy all the harmful microorganisms that might be in your water. However, boiling will not remove dissolved chemicals or radioactive particles.
Fire: This includes matches and butane lighters. Do not waste these precious resources. Learn how to divide a paper match into four pieces before you waste one match. Learn how to start the maximum number of fires using a butane lighter. Learn how to start a fire without a match or a butane lighter by using the coals from a previous fire. Read the fire chapter in this book.
Food: Do not believe everything you hear or read. You may or may not receive some more food in the near future. Don’t bet your life and the lives of your family members on a “promise” that food is on its way and you will have lots of food real soon. Until you actually have the food in your possession you should not bet your life on something you don’t have. Therefore immediately ration your food and your salt. Do not add any salt to commercially processed food because that food already contains an adequate amount of salt. Save any salt you may have for the future when you may have some fresh meat or fresh vegetables. If you don’t have very much food and you don’t know when you will be able to get some more food, then go hungry for a day or two before you eat anything. Only eat one very small meal each day. Your objective is to stay alive. If you consume all your food during the first few days then you will starve to death. Consume your food as slowly as possible. This may mean that you have to skip a day or two between meals. One week’s worth of food could keep you alive for seven weeks if you only eat one very small meal every two or three days. This is not easy to do but you need to focus on long-term survival and not on short-term appetite gratification. (Note: The one obvious exception would be pregnant women or nursing mothers — they will need more food because they are feeding two people.)
Seeds: If you can find vegetable seeds then either buy them or trade for them. If you can’t find seeds for sale then try to find the following fresh food (not cooked, canned, or frozen): tomato, potato, dry beans, corn on the cob, cucumber, any type of melon that has seeds, peppers, fruit, and raw peanuts in the shell (not roasted or salted). Learn how to save the seeds inside these items, or how to sprout and plant these items. Learn how to grow your own food. Read the gardening section in this book.
Shelter: Make a decision on whether you should remain where you are right now or whether you should relocate to a safer area. Do not let your emotions guide you. Instead let your mind guide you. Do not allow an emotional attachment to your current location interfere with this decision. Do not let your financial investment in your current location interfere with this decision. This is not a simple decision. Read the shelter section in this book. If you decide to relocate then each family member should take his or her favorite pillow with them if that is possible.
Clothing: Wear your most practical set of footwear. Read the chapter on shoes and boots. You will need warm clothing and warm blankets for the cold weather months.
Pets: Read the chapter on pets and livestock.
Toilet Tissue: Conserve any toilet tissue you still have as if it were gold. Do not waste your toilet tissue removing makeup, or wiping up spilled liquids, or anything except cleaning your bottom when it becomes necessary. Be diligent when cleaning your bottom but do not be wasteful with your toilet tissue when performing this necessary task.
Protection: Obey the firearm and knife laws in your area. If possible, always carry a pocket knife. If possible and it is legal in your area, also carry a hunting knife. If you have a concealed carry permit, carry a handgun. Do not waste one round of your ammunition on target practice. Conserve your ammunition as if it were gold. You may never have any more ammunition than what you have at the beginning of the hard times. Don’t waste one round of your ammo. It is much too precious.
Psychological: Be intellectually prepared to see the dark side of people you may have known for many years. This may include some people you are related to by blood or by marriage. Read the social breakdown section in this book.
Footnote: Firearm Selection
If you do not already own a rifle and a handgun then now would be a good time to seriously consider making this investment. If you visit a variety of different web sites you will quickly notice that almost every web site has multiple firearm recommendations. Each firearm is reviewed based on its strengths and weaknesses and the types of situations in which it would be appropriate. In a very short period of time the amount of information on firearms can quickly become overwhelming. This makes it extremely difficult for someone to make an informed choice that would be appropriate for his or her specific circumstances. Therefore please allow me to summarize this topic based on what I have recommended for many, many years.
Handgun: I strongly recommend a semi-automatic pistol instead of a revolver or a single-shot handgun. My first choice in a handgun would be a Glock Model 22 with a 15-round magazine that shoots the 40 caliber bullet. This is the same handgun that the overwhelming vast majority of law enforcement officers in the United States select as their primary sidearm. These men and women are intelligent individuals and they know that their lives may occasionally depend on their handgun selection. The Glock handgun is an exceptionally high quality firearm, it is very reliable, and the 40 caliber bullet has an impressive law enforcement history of being an effective man-stopper. The 40 caliber bullet (40 S&W) generates a reasonable and controllable amount of recoil so it is also an accurate firearm. My second choice in a handgun would be a Glock Model 21SF (SF = Slim Frame) with a 13-round magazine that shoots the 45 caliber bullet (45 ACP or 45 Auto but not the 45 GAP). The 45 caliber bullet also has an impressive law enforcement history that is almost identical to the 40 caliber bullet. However, the grip of the Model 21SF is 1/4 inch greater in circumference than the Model 22 and this makes it more challenging for a person with a smaller hand to comfortably grasp. The recoil of the 45 caliber bullet is also more than the 40 caliber bullet and this makes it more challenging for many individuals to shoot accurately. One very important consideration in the selection of a handgun is that it should feel comfortable in your hand when you hold it. Finally, if you are the only person in your family who can comfortably grip and shoot a 45 pistol, and you should become incapacitated for any reason, then nobody else in your family would be able to use your 45 for effective defense or protection. Regardless of which Glock model you purchase you should also install an internal laser sight made by LaserMax. You should also invest in a holster that contains a spare magazine compartment at the front of the holster. Finally, if you can afford it, you should invest in 1,000 rounds of ammunition for your handgun.
Rifle for Hunting and Self-Defense: I strongly recommend a semi-automatic rifle instead of a bolt-action rifle or a lever-action rifle. My first choice in a rifle would depend on where I lived. If I lived in an area where the vast majority of my shooting would be done in areas where the normal visibility was 200 yards or less then I would invest in an original design AK-47 that shoots the 7.62×39 bullet. This bullet has a normal average trajectory of plus 1.5 inches at 110 yards and minus 1.5 inches at 175 yards (3 inch total circle) and it is lethal out to 240 yards. If I lived in an area where the vast majority of my shooting would be done in areas where the normal visibility was more than 200 yards then I would invest in an AR-10 that shoots the 7.62×51 bullet (308 caliber). This bullet has a normal average trajectory of plus 3 inches at 125 yards and minus 3 inches at 260 yards (6 inch total circle) and it is lethal out to 600 yards. I strongly recommend that you add a sling and a good scope to your rifle using see-through scope mounts. The scope mount has a significant impact on the stability and reliability of your scope so I recommend a mount that has four screws on each mount that holds the scope to the mount (total of eight mounting screws on both mounts). You can buy good scopes for less than $100. If you can afford it then you can spend more on a scope but my opinion is that most people will find that a scope that cost between $40 to $100 will perform very well for all their shooting. Finally, if you can afford it, you should invest in 1,000 rounds of ammunition for your rifle. (Note: If possible, purchase an AK-47 with a folding rear stock instead of a wood stock, and a black plastic front hand grip instead of a wood front hand grip. The folding rear stock should fold over against the side of the rifle.)
22 Caliber Semi-Automatic Rifle: If you can afford it then my first choice in a 22 rifle would be the Ruger Model 10/22 with detachable 10-round magazine. If you can afford it then purchase a 10/22 with a stainless steel barrel rifle. My second choice in a 22 rifle would be the very affordable Savage Arms Model 64F semi-automatic rifle with detachable 10-round magazine. Regardless of your rifle choice buy some extra magazines. Install a sling and a reasonable quality scope ($30 to $60) on your rifle using see-through scope mounts. If you can afford it, purchase 5,000 rounds of 22LR ammunition for your rifle.
Shotgun: I have not recommended a shotgun in the past and I do not recommend one to a new shooter. However, if you wish to purchase a shotgun then I strongly suggest a semi-automatic shotgun.
Concealed Carry: My first choice for a concealed carry handgun would be the Ruger LCP that fires the 380 ammunition. I strongly suggest that you install a Crimson Trace laser sight on this pistol. The laser sight is automatically activated when you grip the pistol in your hand. If you purchase the Crimson Trace laser it will include a nice carrying pouch that can be used to transport the Ruger LCP in your pocket. The reasons I suggest this specific pistol are: it is an exceptionally high quality very reliable semi-automatic 6-shot pistol, it is relatively flat (less than 3/4-inch) which means it can fit into your pants’ pocket without creating the normal silhouette outline of a gun, it is very light weight even when fully loaded (12 ounces), and it fires a 380 caliber bullet which is very similar to the 9mm bullet. I also recommend that you install the finger extension on the bottom of the 6-round magazine to make the pistol more comfortable to grip and to shoot accurately. Also purchase at least 500 rounds of hollow-point ammunition for this pistol.
Firearm Summary: I don’t mind if you disagree with the above suggestions and you purchase something entirely different. You are an adult and you have the right to make whatever firearm choices you believe would be best for your family and your particular situation. However, please allow me to caution you against believing everything you read about firearms. It is relatively easy to make a very convincing argument for almost any type of firearm in any caliber if the person only focuses on the strong points of that firearm and that caliber and neglects to mention the shortcomings of that firearm or that caliber. Before you make a firearm choice you should learn as much as you can about that firearm including all of its potential shortcomings. Regardless of your choice in firearms you should learn all the firearm safety rules and you should consistently use your firearm safely and correctly.
Caliber of Ammunition: One of the very important issues in firearm selection that should not be compromised (unless you have some extremely good reasons) is that the firearm should use a caliber of ammunition that is very common and easy to obtain. During a long-term hard times event ammunition may become scarce and extremely difficult to acquire. However, common caliber ammunition has a much better chance of being available for a lot longer than any caliber that is a special caliber or that has very low historical sales. Examples of common caliber ammunition are the 22LR, 7.62×39, 7.62×51 (308), 40 S&W, and 45 ACP (or 45 auto but not the 45 GAP). The 380 caliber that the Ruger LCP requires is not a common caliber. Therefore a person would have to have some very good reasons to purchase any firearm that shoots the 380 caliber. Those reasons were listed above for the Ruger LCP as a concealed carry pistol.
Number of Firearms: Finally, you do not need to invest in a huge arsenal of weapons. If you have a limited amount of money to spend, then you will need to select the most logical rifle and pistol for your particular situation. However, if you have lots of money and you really like firearms, then you can buy all the weapons you wish. On the other hand, during serious hard times it is not unusual for a family to have to unexpectedly evacuate their current residence for an extremely valid reason, even though they originally believed they would never leave their home. For example, a fire may be headed your way and in about one-hour your home is going to become a pile of glowing cinders. Your only option for long-term survival will be to quickly load your escape vehicle with equipment and supplies and then abandon everything else to the fire. In this situation most people will select one rifle, one pistol, and at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition for each of those firearms. Then they will load their escape vehicle (or vehicles) with as much other practical equipment and supplies as they can depending on the amount of time they have available, and then they will drive away and never look back. In this type of situation the rifle you select should be suitable for hunting and self-defense, and your pistol should be primarily for self-defense. The weight of that rifle, and the bulk and the weight of the ammunition for that rifle, will also be important factors in this situation. My personal opinion is that most families will discover that an AK-47 is the rifle that will simultaneously satisfy all these requirements. However, if you live in an area where the AR-10 and the 308 caliber is the best option then you should select it instead.
Footnote: Candles or Battery Operated Flashlights
The next topic I would like to discuss is candles. Except for the emergency heating of canned foods, I have not recommended the purchase of candles. Instead I have consistently recommended the purchase of an L.E.D. flashlight and rechargeable batteries. However, on many survival internet web sites I frequently read discussions on the advantages and the disadvantages of the different types of candles, along with the recommendation that a specific type of candle be purchased in large quantities.
Let me begin by saying I don’t mind if you invest in some candles. Everyone should have a few candles in the event of an emergency. I have about two dozen short round candles for an emergency. However, I do not have a huge inventory of candles because I do not intend to use the candles for light or for heating canned food. The candles are simply my “backup” plan in the event my primary plan doesn’t work for some totally unexpected reason.
The reasons I personally do not intend to use candles are as follows:
- 1. A candle needs to be lit with a match or a butane lighter or some other source of a flame.
- 2. A candle provides a very weak source of light.
- 3. A candle should not be used for reading.
- 4. A candle consumes oxygen and this is a disadvantage in a small confined space.
- 5. A candle emits smelly fumes and this is a disadvantage in a small confined space.
- 6. A burning candle can be smelled from a reasonable distance away and this might lead someone to your place of refuge.
- 7. When a candle has been used up it is gone and it must be replaced with another candle. In other words, a candle is not a renewable resource.
- 8. A reasonable supply of candles would take up space and add weight to an emergency backpack or bug-out-bag.
On the other hand, a flashlight has the following advantages:
- 1. A flashlight does not consume oxygen or emit any type of odor.
- 2. A flashlight provides a strong source of light that can be focused into the distance or it can be used to light an entire room.
- 3. A flashlight may be used to provide light to read comfortably.
- 4. A L.E.D. flashlight bulb will last for approximately 100,000 hours so it will not need to be replaced during your lifetime. A L.E.D. flashlight bulb consumes less power than an ordinary flashlight bulb.
- 5. A flashlight will work using rechargeable batteries. You can recharge batteries using the sun. Therefore, a flashlight, plus some rechargeable batteries, plus a solar battery charger, is a renewable resource that will last for many, many years.
- 6. The above items would not take up much space in your emergency backpack or bug-out-bag.
The sun is a source of renewable energy. If you had a solar panel and a 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery or a golf cart battery, then you could capture and store the sun’s energy inside your 12-volt battery. You could then tap that battery whenever you needed power. For example, you could recharge your portable computer, or your cell phone, or your AA batteries that you use in your radio or flashlight. If you also had a 1,200 watt inverter then you could run 110-volt electrical appliances for very short periods of time, such as an electric drill, or a printer, or a small microwave oven. This means you could briefly heat some canned food to a reasonable temperature inside a small microwave oven using the sun’s energy you previously stored inside a 12-volt deep-cycle battery. Solar power is such a practical option that every family should have their own solar generator.
|Two 15 Watt Solar Panels|
Top = Back of Panel with Controller
Bottom = Front of Panel
|12 Volt Adapter|
with Three 12-Volt Outlets
and Red and Black Wires
|1,200 Watt Inverter|
with On/Off Switch
and Two Power Meters
and Two 110-Volt Outlets
A solar generator can be easily constructed by almost anyone using the following items for a total cost of about $275:
- 1. One 15-watt monocrystalline solar panel. These panels are sometimes sold with an optional charge controller attached to the wiring to prevent overcharging of the 12-volt battery. ($75)
- 2. One 12-volt deep cycle marine battery or golf-cart battery. ($80) (Note: During a serious emergency you could use your automobile battery but your car battery is not a deep-cycle battery so it would not store as much energy as a marine battery or a golf cart battery.)
- 3. One 12-volt cigarette lighter adapter with three outlets for a cell phone, or laptop computer, or similar devices. ($17)
- 4. One 110-volt inverter that provides at least 1,200 watts of continuous power or 2,400 watts of peak power. An inverter normally has either one or two of the three-prong 110-volt outlet sockets built into the front panel of the inverter so you can easily plug your 110-volt appliances directly into the inverter without making any modifications to your appliance plugs. ($100)
- 5. About ten feet of 12-gauge electrical wire in two different colors such as red and black. ($3)
Connect the two color-coded alligator clips from the solar panel to the positive (red wire) and negative (black wire) terminals of the battery. Connect the two color-coded wires from the 12-volt adapter to the battery. Connect the 110-volt inverter to the battery using some of the 12-gauge electrical wire.
On sunny days you will need to place your solar panel so that it is facing directly at the sun. Depending on where you live you have two basic options for positioning your solar panel as follows:
- 1. Place your solar panel inside your home in front of a window or a glass door where the sun shines for many hours each day. This would protect the solar panel from high winds, and unexpected hail storms, and from theft. It should not attract any attention from someone who was casually passing by unless that person stopped and looked inside your window or door.
- 2. Hang the solar panel outside a window in a secure fashion so the panel is facing directly at the sun. Bring your solar panel inside in the evening to prevent it from being stolen.
Your solar panel needs to be in direct sunlight so that no part of the solar panel is covered by a shadow. This is easier to do with smaller solar panels because you can usually find sunny spaces on each side of a shadow that is big enough for a smaller solar panel.
The rest of your solar system should be inside your home below the window on the floor. When you need to recharge a device that has a 12-volt adapter just plug it into the 12-volt female plug of your solar generator. When you need to use a 110-volt appliance just plug it into the 110-volt inverter.
Practice the same safety precautions when you plug something into the 110-volt inverter that you use when you plug something into a 110-volt wall outlet. Even though the power is coming from a 12-volt battery it has been increased to 110-volts at the two outlets on your inverter.
The single 15-watt solar panel and single battery system will only store a small amount of power in your 12-volt battery. Therefore you should use that power wisely and not waste it on something frivolous such as a hair dryer or some other heat generating appliance. It would be enough power to keep all your AA batteries charged for your flashlights and your radio, and you could keep your cell phone charged for text messaging, or you could watch one DVD movie per day on your portable computer, or you could briefly heat one or two simple meals per day in a small microwave oven. If you add another solar panel and another deep-cycle battery then you could double the amount of electricity that you would have available each day.
To recharge your rechargeable flashlight batteries you could plug a standard battery charger into the 110-volt inverter and you could then transfer the power from your 12-volt battery into your smaller 1.2-volt rechargeable batteries.
You could also add the Grundig G6 portable radio ($99) to this system and you would have an AM/FM/Aircraft/Shortwave world band radio to keep track of uncensored news as it was being reported by stations broadcasting in different parts of the world. The G6 radio also contains an internal charging system that will recharge two AA batteries when plugged into a 110-volt outlet. This means you could plug your Grundig G6 into your 110-volt inverter and it would recharge two AA batteries. You could then remove those two AA batteries from the radio and use them in a flashlight or any other device that uses AA batteries, such as an electric toothbrush. The Grundig G6 will not recharge AA batteries as quickly as a standard battery charger so it should not be used in place of a standard battery charger but it could be used as a supplement to a standard battery charger.
Although there is a numerical difference between 110-volts, and 115-volts, and 120-volts, these voltages are all the same when it comes to electrical appliances. Therefore anything you now plug into a standard wall outlet you could also plug into the outlet on a 110-volt inverter even if the appliance says it is 110-volts, or 115-volts, or 120-volts.
220 Volts: If you have the basic electrical knowledge about home wiring systems, then you could install a second 12-volt battery, and a second 110-volt inverter, and create 220 to 240-volt power for your 220, 230, or 240 volt appliances. However, you could not run these appliances for very long because you are using battery power. However, you could run one of these appliances for a few minutes each day. This might be very useful if you have a 220-volt well pump, or if you live in a country where the standard voltage is 220 to 240 volts. If you are a knowledgeable, experienced certified electrician then you could install a 110 to 220-volt transformer on a single 110-volt inverter to increase the voltage to 220-volts.
Wire Sizes: Generally the larger the wire size the more efficient your solar generator will be. If the electrical openings in your solar generator equipment will allow you to use 12-gauge wire then you should do so. However, some of the components may have smaller openings and they may require 14-gauge or 16-gauge wire. Therefore read the instructions that come with your solar equipment before you purchase your wire. The one exception is if you have more than one 12-volt battery. You should connect your batteries together using standard automobile 2-gauge cable. Depending on where you intend to put your 12-volt batteries you may need to position them either side-by-side or end-to-end with at least 1/4-inch of air space between the batteries. After you have your batteries positioned then you could cut your battery cables to the optimum length so you have a slight bend in the wire between batteries. A battery cable may be cut with a metal saw or a hacksaw or a jig-saw. One way to do this inexpensively is to buy the longest 2-gauge battery wire you can find (or 0-gauge battery wire), and then cut it to the lengths you need, and then install a battery connector clamp on the bare end of the battery wire that you just cut. These are the same type of battery connectors that are used on your automobile battery and you can find them in the automotive section of most stores. The clamp connectors in the illustration have a red clamp for the positive terminal and a black clamp for the negative terminal. Or you can purchase the solid brass clamps.
Will You Just Barely Survive or Will You Thrive?
There are three possible futures for your family during a serious long-term hard times event:
- 1. You and your family could perish.
- 2. You and your family could just barely survive on a day-to-day basis.
- 3. You and your family could thrive and prosper.
The third option above is discussed in detail in my book “How to Survive and Thrive During Hard Times.” Some of the people who will read my book will be content to just barely survive. But some of the people who read my book will want to do more than just survive — they will want to thrive.
The secret to surviving and thriving during hard times is really very simple. First, you should do all that you can to provide for your family’s needs. Second, you should pray and trust God to watch over your family and you should ask God to protect your family from harm and misfortune.
Regardless of how much money you have, and how much food you have stored, and how well equipped your retreat might be, there is no way you can protect your family from everything. Something simple like an airborne contagious pathogen, or a laboratory created virus, could kill everyone in your family in a very short period of time and there would be absolutely nothing you could do to stop it. Or something simple like a heart attack (my mother), or a disease of the intestines (my first wife), or a disease of the feet (my brother), or a tumor in the brain (my best friend), could kill or disable specific individuals within your family or your closest friends.
Therefore, if you want to have the best chance of surviving and thriving during a serious long-term hard times event then you will need to include God in your plans. It is my personal belief that the only way you can effectively do this is to believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only true Son of God, that He was born as a baby in Bethlehem, that He grew up and taught the truth about God, that He performed many miracles while He was here on this earth, that He voluntarily allowed Himself to be humiliated, beaten, and crucified, that He died on the cross, that He was buried in a borrowed tomb, that God raised Him from the dead on the third day, and that He is alive today at the right hand of God interceding for everyone who will put their faith and their trust in Him.
In conclusion, surviving and thriving means that you do everything you can to provide for your family, and you also trust Jesus Christ to take care of all the things you can’t do for your family.