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From the Library

The Great State: The Divide by Shelby Gallagher
So, I’m not much of a fan of typical “Prepper Porn” fiction these days. Too often, it’s the same old rehash of the same tired tropes. Someone mentioned this one in passing to me recently, and insisted I really needed to read it.

I’m really glad I did. The protagonist is not your typical middle-class white male (not that there’s anything wrong with being a middle class white male, but at this stage, having that as the protagonist of your prepper novel is….overworn…), but a divorced single mom. She’s not apparently independently wealthy, and has bills to pay and a kid to support, with a shit head ex-husband who makes lots of excuses for why he can’t make his child support payment, etc…

She works for the state government, and still manages to recognize what’s happening around her, and does the best she can to be prepared for it.

I was surprised that I actually really did like this story. I definitely recommend it. Especially if you, like me, are that typical middle-class white male. I would say “have your wife read it. Have your girlfriends read it. Have your daughters read it.” But honestly? Especially if you’re a dude? Read it.

I don’t know if Ms. Gallagher is a reader here, but I can hope, and if so, thank you.

Survival Poaching by Ragnar Benson

Ragnar Benson, for those late to the game, was kind of one of the granddaddies of survivalist writing back in the 80s. I read a lot of his stuff in High School, although I didn’t come across this one until I was in the Army, when I happened to find it at the Post Library one day. Since I was familiar with the author, and the title sounded interesting, I checked it out and read it. Even by then, some of the technical stuff was obsolete, but I got a lot of value out of it. In fact, I ended up ordering a copy, and while I’ve given them away since, I’ve managed to have copy ever since.

Some of the stuff in it, regarding hunting, won’t be novel or new to any country kid that grew up before the turn of the millenium, but some of it will be, and for urban dwellers, he’s got some pretty solid ideas on stocking the larder with protein, when you cannot go to the grocery store anymore, even if it’s still open, and you’re just broke as fuck.

Buckshot’s Survival Trapping Guide by Bruce Buckshot Hemming

Mr. Hemming has apparently written, or co-written a couple of post-apocalyptic prepper novels as well. I don’t remember when or where, or from whom I first heard about this book. I just heard that it was a really solid look at realistic trapping, so I grabbed a copy, some time ago (I’m pretty sure I’ve had a copy for at least the better part of a decade). The author apparently makes all or some of his wintertime income from trapping, in farm country, in the Midwest.

He’s got recommendations for lists of what traps and baits and accouterments you will need, for different levels of trapping goals. He’s got different ideas from a lot of trappers on what works and what doesn’t, based on his personal experiences ( I have a copy of the Alaska Trappers’ Association manual too, and probably a dozen other trapping books from various regions and eras…yeah, he’s a little contrarian…). It’s a good book, and has good advice, based on my relatively limited experience (I’ve trapped some, but I’ve never been a trapper, if you can discern the difference). His bucket trap set is fucking brilliant, in my opinion, and I’ve told myself for years that I was going to start using it. Unfortunately, I always end up finding a use for the buckets before I ever get to use it for trapping. This is one of those books, I recommend getting it NOW, and reading it NOW, so you can start preparing for next trapping season. If this book doesn’t make you WANT to run a trapline—at least a small one—well….thar’s somet’in’ ain’ rat wit’ chu, son…


Campfire Chat

(I took the day off yesterday, like most people in my demographic, to remember friends no longer with us. My intent was to spend today making that up, and getting this week’s articles taken care of, and the subscription drill out. As it turned out however, I woke up this morning to a phone call about a family medical emergency that we needed to deal with immediately.

We’re still dealing with that, but I scraped out an hour to get this posted for y’all.

Subscribers, I will get the drill out this week still, so it will not be late. I will try and get a Library article and a “feature” article out this week also, but….hopefully, next week will allow for a return to your regularly scheduled programming.

If you have an email in my inbox, rest assured, I will get to it as soon as possible. In the meantime, you could bitch at me, or you could rest easy knowing that I’m doing what I preach, and putting the needs of my people first. –John)


Hmmm… Sounds like great advice! One should also carry on their person an AED, because your chance of having a heart attack is SIGNIFICANTLY greater than getting shot! Oh, and you should lug around a gallon of cranberry juice in case you get a kidney stone! Hell, if you’re not driving around in a goddamn AMBULANCE, you’re a FUCKING IDIOT!
Seriously, how many civilian (non-LEO) self-defense gunfight (not active shooter incident) survivors have bled to death in the last 10 years because they weren’t carrying tourniquets? We’re already expected to carry our handgun, a back-up gun, spare magazines for both, a tactical folding knife, a flashlight (with spare battery) & a non-lethal option. Now a trauma kit, too? Add wallet, keys, phone & I don’t have enough pockets for all this shit!
And besides, since we’re going to get shot ANYWAY, why bother carrying the gun in the first place?”

Alright, let’s break this down, for the kids in the slow reading group….

1) YOU may be at significantly greater risk of a heart attack than of getting shot, but I’m not a fat fuck, and get a physical regularly. My physician assures me that I have the cardiovascular health of a man twenty years younger. So, don’t project your own inadequacies on others (for the record, I don’t have any idea if the whiner above is actually a fat fuck…). I’ve also never had a kidney stone, so, now in my mid-forties, it’s probably not a major concern, considering the differences in my diet now, and when I was in my 20s and 30s.

2) I don’t actually know the number, but I know a metric fuckton of people have bled the fuck out from GSW and MVA and other mechanisms of injury, because nobody around happened to have a fucking tourniquet. Someone commented here on the blog a couple weeks ago, about a seminar they were in, following the Las Vegas mass shooting a couple years ago, where it was stated that some 80% of improvised tourniquets failed to function effectively.

3) I don’t expect you to carry a fucking thing. I don’t carry a Back-Up Gun. That’s what my knife, physical fitness, and the ability to fight unarmed are for. As far as your wardrobe shortcomings, I discussed that, in some detail, in The Guerrilla Gunfighter: Clandestine Carry Pistol. At the end of the day, you have to carry what works for you….as I’ve mentioned numerous times, in numerous articles. If carrying a pocket medical kit doesn’t fit you, your abilities, and your mission parameters, then don’t fucking carry one.

4) Hey, pussy? I got shot, and still managed to shoot the cocksucker that shot me. A LOT of people have been shot, stabbed, etc, and still managed to prosecute the fight they were in, and win. Getting shot doesn’t mean you died, and it doesn’t mean you lost. On the other hand, with your attitude, yeah…you’re probably going to die from a psychological stop, via “Oh shit, I’ve been shot! I’m going to die!” In fact, I would offer, instead of spending money on a pocket medical kit, and the training to use it, you should use the money for testosterone injections.


Can you recommend a reliable or preferred vendor for occlusive dressings, hemostatic agents, and compressed flat pack gauze?

1) North American Rescue

2) Chinook Medical

3) The Activity Group

4) Dark Angel Medical

Those are the only four I feel comfortable recommending, off the top of my head. I’ve got experience with the first three, and have never heard anything but positive about Dark Angel.

The guys at The Activity Group are friends, and almost the entire staff has a SOF background with combat experience.


The Activity Group is , apparently no longer carrying the TX2.

I saw that, after I posted the article. The RMT is the same tourniquet.


Curious if the chest seals you carry are vented or non-vented? Since you aren’t as concerned about tension pneumothorax do you carry non-vented?

I actually have both. The Committee-approved protocols are vented is preferred, but nonvented will work. In either case, you still need to monitor for respiratory distress. I don’t get too wrapped around the axle about which one a person carries. Like I said, you’re going to have to monitor for pneumo- anyway, and even if I’m running an unvented, there are treatment options available, whether through burping the chest seal, a chest dart, or a digital thoracostomy (and, I probably just misspelled that, FYI. I get it wrong about half the time.)


2) TQs: You have four extremities. If you don’t have 4 TQs nearby, you’re probably effing up.
Esp. as protocol is to place a second TQ above the first one, if you aren’t stopping bleeding with the first one. So you might, ergo, figure out you should have maybe up to eight handy.
Unless you’d rather run out of blood because you ran out of TQs.
Suture self.

3) NP Airways, i.e. Nose Hose:
Yes, you can do chin tilt-jaw thrust to get an airway in a pinch.
And now, you’re the airway device.
Full-time, both hands, can’t do anything else, until help arrives.
Can’t apply a TQ. Can’t assess bleeding. Can’t do anything else.
Because you’re busy holding that airway open.
Okay if you have more medical help; not so great if you’re a solo act, esp. with more than one patient, or they have more than one problem.
You could tear open the $0.05 packet of surgi-lube, slather the nasal trumpet in it, slide it up a snotstril, and then go on about what you were doing. The noisy audible solo your patient is now playing will assure you the airway is patent while you attend to other things.
They’re small. They’re cheap. Have an NP airway, and use if necessary.


To be clear, I don’t disagree with this at all, but practicably, we ARE limited in what we can carry EDC. I CAN carry a TQ or two. I can’t effectively carry four. My aid bag has anywhere from 16-20, depending on how many I’ve donated to folks recently.


Same on the nose hose. It really just depends on what you’re doing, and under what circumstances. I’m a big believer in erring on the side of establishing an airway via NPA, ESPECIALLY if there is a chance the patient MIGHT lose consciousness, and I’ve got multiple casualties, or I’ve got other shit I need to do, like transporting the casualty, or killing bad guys. As a general, every day carry thing? I’ll carry A nose hose, but if it turns out to be a multiple casualty scenario, until I can get my aid bag from the truck, or the dudes with the ambulance show up, we’re going to be making do.




What do you think of how the USMC uses slings for support/stabilty when shooting?  Is that technique worth a shit? 

Slinging up definitely works. If you’ve got time, and know how to do it, it will tighten your groups. I don’t believe it is particularly necessary, nor important. I can reliably shoot a 2MOA group, from any firing position, with my current primary rifle. Standing will take me longer than I’d like to get that tight, but prone, kneeling, squatting, and seated, I can pull it off at a pretty solid rate-of-fire, around one shot ever 2-3 seconds. Could I eke out another 1MOA with a sling? Probably, but practically, I’m not going to need that extra minute, and I’m willing to give it up in order to get the first round downrange a couple of seconds sooner.

As far as use in a static position, such as a sentry post or LP/OP? When someone suggests that to me, I generally assume they’ve not actually got a lot of experience shooting with a sling, or in an LP/OP. I’ve not met very many people who are going to sit in an a slung up position, for any real length of time. And, if I’m in the LP/OP, and suddenly need to start shooting because “gooks in the wire” or whatever, I’m probably not going to be taking the time to get it done.

Besides pure marksmanship practice (I do have a 1917 sling on my M1A, and I’ll play with it occasionally), the one place where the sling really shines, in my experience, is, if you have a dude who’s really having trouble getting tight groups. Typically, if I can discount any other cause, I assume it’s because he’s not getting a good, tight, solid, stable firing position. Teaching him to sling up, thus giving him the opportunity to see what a TIGHT position actually feels like and looks like (through the sights) can help, a lot.


Hey pal, so I saw your call for questions on your last email and I have had one for awhile now. Since it’s summer, the wife has a tendency to want to do some travel/vacation type road trips. During these excursions I have a tendency to pack a little heavy (rifle, plate carrier, food, water etc.). This takes me back to your NC class where you had a few long guns, sustainment loadouts and carriers. My question concerns a worst case scenario where you could have been in the position to hoof two or three hundred miles on foot with your family in tow. How have you “war gamed” a long trek home? Would you go full kit “hard target” or throw a T-shirt over the carrier and try to blend in with the potential mass of other migrants? The best I could come up with was to lift a Wal-Mart shopping cart for my kids and to do my best to blend in for the first few days while traveling interstate roadways, though with three kids under ten and a pregnant wife, I figured ten miles per day was a reasonable estimate. As things deteriorate over the passage of time, I could see how full kit would be of benefit but the core of my question would mainly concern those first few days where most people are coping with the situation.

To start, I carry a LOT more shit, when I’m on a training trip, than I do when I’m on a family trip, just because of teaching aids, etc.

Generally speaking, I keep a long gun in the truck, with a plate carrier set up. The truck gun sits tucked next to my seat, where it is secured, through the magwell and ejection port, any time I leave the vehicle, with a stainless cable luggage lock and combination lock. The PC setup rides in the enclosed back, or on the floorboard in front of the baby’s car seat.

Additionally, we keep four or five wool blankets in the truck, a rucksack of “Get Home Gear” for the wife and I each, a baby bag for the baby that will support him for 4-5 days anyway, and each of the older kids has a bag. I keep two cases of bottled water in the truck. My oldest kid carries her “survival ruck” everywhere she goes anyway (and, you should see people’s faces, when she shows up for something like a kids’ birthday party, dressed like a princess, while carrying a woodland camo assault pack loaded with survival gear, with a knife and hatchet hanging off the outside…)

Simplest answer is, it’s just gonna depend on my read of the situation. A minor, localized emergency, probably isnt going to drive me to don PC, gun up, and start patrolling home on foot. I’d either stay with the truck and family until help arrived, or we’d look for local shelter until the situation stabilized.

On the other hand, in the case of a situation where—for an extreme example—most cars stopped working at the same time, and cellphone service disappeared, etc…or anything that looked like a major, nationwide or worldwide scenario, I’d be a lot more likely to say “Fuck it, we’re walking,” and start moving towards home by the fastest route possible. In that sort of scenario, I’d be okay with gunning up and throwing a PC on. In/near towns, I’d probably throw a shirt over it, but it would really depend on my read on the situation, based on what I see other folks doing/reacting.


Would you suggest those like my self (who live in non-permissive environments where firearms aren’t readily available even for those willing/able to go to black market sources) carry tourniquets, chest seals, and pressure dressings? Knives and knife crime is becoming more and more common in my AO/AOI.

I am already carrying pressure dressings, gauze, and gloves, but your article makes me think I need to rethink my shit.

I carry the same basic essentials, medically, anywhere I go, even if I cannot, for some reason, carry a gun. In my jurisdiction, intent defines a knife as a weapon v. a tool, so I’ve seen young guys walk into a bank with a Kabar hanging from their belt, and I’ve seen smaller belt knives in otherwise “restricted” areas like local government offices. A stab wound to the upper torso is STILL a penetrating trauma, so I’m going to use a chest seal as my default. Having buried a Benchmade folder three inches into my own thigh once, and then walking a couple miles to get transport to a hospital, I will say, I felt a lot better about having a battlefield dressing to secure the wound before I had to start walking (and for the record, honestly, the tightness of the dressing caused more of a limp than the stab wound to the front of my thigh. I’d even say, if I were to somehow repeat the stupidity of that moment, I’d probably not even go to the hospital to get stitched up. I’d just bandage that shit up, maybe treat it with some sugar-dine or something similarly antibacterial, and let it heal itself).

If the stab wound had been a few inches higher, it would have required a tourniquet instead of just pressure and a dressing. That was a self-inflicted, accidental wound, with a small folding knife, that immediately elicited a response of “Fuck, let’s not do that again!” What if it had been someone with ill intent, and possible, a bigger blade?

So, short answer? Yes, I recommend it.

From the Library

1) Highland Folk Ways by I.F. Grant

Like Irish Folk Ways, which I discussed last week, this is another ethnographic/cultural study, this time of the Scottish Highlands, up to the Clearances, as well as some discussion of the transitions that occurred culturally following the Clearances. Really good look, and a pretty cool book. It’s kind of like The Foxfire Books, only in one volume, and in Sean Connery’s voice.

2) The Modern Art of High-Intensity Training by Aurelian Broussal-Derval

This is, hands down, the best look at “Crossfit” type conditioning work that I’ve seen yet. There’s a thorough discussion of what this type of PT can accomplish, and what it cannot. It covers why some of this type of conditioning work does amazing things…and why some of it is just stupid. It discusses both the primary cause of “Crossfit” injuries (spoiler alert: Bad coaching, pushing people to go faster, before they’ve got the strength and form to do so safely. Crazy, I seem to recall another author who mentioned exactly that in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One….). It includes a bunch of WODs, some of which I’ve already started inputting into my Big Fucking Notebook of Training Misery for my own use.

And, the illustrator is amazing. The illustrations in the book are quality enough, this could be a coffee table art book…which means you could leave it out for visitors to see…leading to conversations about fitness…which can be a lead-in to discussing other training and training together…

3) 100 Edible Mushrooms by Michael Kuo

I’ve had this book for well over a year, when I first started looking at growing mushrooms on the farm. I haven’t used it much (because I still haven’t gotten around to inoculating mushroom spores), but I did recently have a neighbor who was looking for guidance on a mushroom he found behind his house. I pulled the book out and loaned it to him. They ate the mushroom in question for supper, after seeing it thoroughly described in the book, in text and photos, and using the contraindicators parts to ensure it wasn’t a poisonous lookalike.

People are deathly afraid of eating wild mushrooms. When you consider the presence of things like death caps, that makes sense. When you consider the 1000s of varieties of fungi present in the wild in North America however, and the fact that like only a couple dozen of them are poisonous, and of those, only a small few are actually lethally toxic…and you consider the potential health benefits of eating different mushrooms…it only makes sense to start learning about them to increase your self-reliance and autonomy. This is the book I recommend to people looking to start learning about which ones are yummy, and which ones are kill you dead yucky.

Campfire Chat

This article series seems to be rapidly turning into “John’s Responses to Reader Comments and Queries.” I’m completely cool with that. If you have something you want me to address, either comment on the article(s) in question, or drop me an email, and I’ll try to hit it in these each week.

Just recognize…you might not like my response.


All right. This one is kinda long. Take a knee, drink water, etc….

1) Just curious, by 62 grain I assume you mean M855? Is that what you keep with your AR for ‘bump in the night’ situations, or is that what you grabbed specifically to shoot that deer? I keep a couple mags loaded with Hornady TAP with the ballistic tips with the idea being that they will be more likely to do soft tissue damage to an intruder. I keep a couple mags of both 55 and 62 grain loaded as well, with each type in a different type of magazine so I can tell what is what in the dark. To be clear, based on my present living situation an AR isn’t likely to be what I grab first for an intruder, just curious what you keep in the gun given all the options available these days. I’m sure you’ve got a good reason for what you keep in yours.

Yes, M855. It is what I keep in my AR-variants, for pretty much everything. It’s gotten a bad rap, and I recognize that, theoretically, it is far from the ideal projectile/cartridge for antipersonnel use. The M855A1 is, by the accounts of the guys I know who’ve used it on people, superior, and I KNOW MK262 works better.

So, why do I use M855? a) I’ve actually shot people with M855, and of all the people I shot, they all share one common characteristic. They all died, and quickly. b) I’d love to switch over to MK262 for my ‘bump in the night’ and ‘The Apocalypse Is Upon Us’ loads, but I’m not independently wealthy, and MK262 is about 3x as expensive. I try and keep between 5000 and 10000 rounds of 5.56 on hand, and any given time, and since I supply ammunition for myself, my wife, and one or two other guys on any given weekly training day, at roughly $1.00/round, that’s prohibitive with MK262. At $30/round for M855, it’s doable, for the time being.

I’ve got an 870 12 gauge in the safe. About once a year, for a month or so, I’ll switch to it as my “go to” long gun, just to maintain familiarity with it and it’s abilities (and, to be clear, I’ve very clearly discussed my antipathy for the shotgun in the past. At the suggestion of some friends in the training industry, I did a deep dive into the “Gospel of the Gauge” a few years ago. I still prefer my AR-variants, but I’ve become relatively adept with the scattergun).

Unlike most people who carry shotguns however, and load with some sort of shot load, and then practice a “slug changeover drill,” I run mine loaded with rifled slugs, and practice a “shot changeover drill.”

Again, that’s based on my situation and needs. I can make consistent upper chest cavity hits, at 100 yards, with the slugs, all day long, and I’m more likely to need to make hits at 50+ on the farm than I am to need to make arm’s reach shots, and even if I do need to make an arm’s reach shot, a slug does an awful lot of “Go fuck yourself” damage. On the other hand, if I’m going to dispatch a raccoon or possum, where a slug would be way overkill, I’ve generally got plenty of time to do the changeover.

2) Tell me about the “Justus” system where the normal people defending their lives and property soon find that only celebrities, politicians, judges, and lawyers are permitted to use lethal force against criminals. The rest of us serve as target practice for armed criminals.

I did. The book is called The Guerrilla Gunfighter, Volume One: Clandestine Carry Pistol. I included options for dealing with that reality.

3) ‘ I also encourage guys to run slick occasionally, to get used to it.’
Definition please. I googled it and only came up with DB references.

“Running slick,” in this context, refers to running your rifle without being festooned with a pile of load-bearing equipment, like a 19-year old infantry private. For me, it generally means, I’m carrying rifle and pistol, a spare magazine or two for my pistol, MAYBE a spare magazine in a pouch on my belt for the rifle, and my primary rifle spare magazine will simply be tucked into my back pocket.

Soldiers and Marines need a lot of LBE and rucks and pouches, not so much for their individual fighting load equipment, but for all the support equipment, ranging from radios and grenades, to extra ammunition for unit crew-served weapons and extra medical gear for the medics, and batteries for the commo guy’s radios, etc… As individuals, or parts of small, community-centric protection/security groups, we don’t have the organic support weapons and equipment that the regular military has, so we don’t need to carry as much. We also aren’t going to prosecute a fight in the same way (we certainly hope, at any rate), because we lack the reserve forces, and support in the form of CAS and indirect fires. So, we don’t need our equipment set up in the same way, and we probably don’t need nearly as much gear. Although, in some cases, we need way MORE than a conventional infantryman would need.

4) My question is what is your comm plan if any? I.E. – are you just using FRS / MURS frequencies or do you have a licensed HAM operator? Do you recommend getting this? If the SHTF is FCC licensing really going to matter? Our family comm knowledge/plan is minimal so this is an area we need improvement in, especially in a grid-down/disaster scenario where mobile phones will be titts-up most likely.

And just to be clear we get OpSec issues, so obviously don’t share your comm plan details, but if you do have a comm plan – an overview, bullet points and related would be helpful.

We have a licensed HAM, and no, it’s not me. We have the “theoretical” ability to transmit on the FRS/GMRS/MURS frequencies, if we go in and modify the FT60Rs (and by all accounts it is a quick and easy modification….).

I should get my HAM license, and I keep considering it, but I always end up with several dozen other tasks on my plate that are more critical than studying for the tests.

So, to answer the rest of your specific questions:

a) I do recommend getting the HAM license. At a minimum, at least a couple of people should, in any given group.

b) No, in a grid-down scenario, locally or widespread, having your license isn’t going to make a shit’s bit of a difference, from an enforcement perspective. What it will do, as someone else pointed out, is give you the ability to PRACTICE now, when having a license DOES matter. I’m a knuckle dragger, and math makes my head hurt. I know I need a LOT of practice if I’m going to master the intricacies of radio geekdom (which is the other reason I haven’t bothered getting my license. I don’t have time for the requisite practice).

c) For me, the big advantage of the HAM freqs and commo ability is long-range communication. Sure, I can get on my receiver, and listen to others discuss what is happening in their areas, but I cannot drive the conversation into directions that I need it to go, in order to gather potential intelligence information from them that might have an impact on my people. I’m at the other end of the radio’s mercy. Having the ability to communicate back and ask specific questions could be useful. For more immediate needs, the short-range commo of FRS/GMRS/MURS is strictly a tactical commo concern. I need to be able to talk to other elements and neighbors, within a reasonable distance. The FT60Rs have enough TESTED range that I can communicate, with them with anyone I would want to (we got over a mile, in broken, thickly forested terrain on FRS and MURS), in a tactical scenario. And, by using FRS/GMRS/MURS freqs, even if one of my neighbors or someone in the clan doesn’t have a Yaesu, we can toss them a Cobra or something from Wal-Mart’s Sporting Good section, and still communicate with them on those frequencies. I don’t know of a neighbor, within five miles of me, that doesn’t have one of those bubble pack sets of radios. They use them when four-wheeling, when working on the tractors around the farm, and when deer hunting in the fall.

5) I’ve been a user of the mostly-leather M3 tanker’s shoulder holster since my Summertime graduation from 11-Echo tank crewman’s AIT around August 1966s as a new E2 Private. Most examples of the M3 [and similar M7] are made of leather, but If there’s a synthetic substitute that’s as useful,practical, comfortable and inexpensive I’m not aware of it. I’m retired from the tanker biz, for a few years and two generations of tanks now. I have not retired from daily carry of a M1911A1. After fifty years experience with the things, I see no reason to change.

And that’s just fine. You should stick with your leather tanker’s holster, your rotary dial-up phone, your tube television with the manual dials, and your pickup truck with manual roll-up windows, AM radio, and 8-track player, with no A/C. In fact, you should get a contractor’s gig at Ft Knox, teaching those young pups how to drive their Sherman’s better!

Seriously though….That’s fine. There are a number of companies out there making both synthetic nylon tanker’s holsters, and kydex variants. If you wanna run leather, it’s okay. I don’t generally judge people for their sexual preferences.

(Also, this is the last time I’m commenting on the leather fetish. I’m just done. People don’t get that I’m not bashing their choice. I’m simply stating my experiential observations.)

6) As a certified boomer and former action guy, I find it interesting to see you are using a battle belt with suspenders to hold it all up. What’s old is new, or maybe it was never old, just out of style. It’s simple, and it works. And you can throw plates over the top. Nice idea about the NOD in the dump bag, that makes sense. I just grabbed this random photo after a search for H-harness. The old stuff wasn’t so bad. The issue pouches could hold 3X30 skinny metal mags, or other gear as required. My point with this picture isn’t that I agree with everything on this belt setup, but just that belts and suspenders works, it’s flexible, it’s easy to throw on, and you can still throw plates over it if you choose.

I don’t even know that it’s a matter of “coming back” to it, as much as it’s a matter of “some things work better in some circumstances.” A lot of our experiences in the 1980s and 1990s, were—obviously—drive by a) the experiences of our mentors in Vietnam, and b) the fact that, for the most part, we expected to be conducting foot-mobile operations in forested terrain.

There’s an entire couple of generations now who have been influenced completely by operations in the desert, with vehicles, and that’s going to play a part in their paradigm. That’s not ‘wrong,’ but it’s something that we all need to consider when we’re talking about “how am I going to set up my equipment?”

What worked in Fallujah, when some dude was part of the 1st MarDiv, isn’t going to work for that same dude, in Grove, Oklahoma, when he’s part of the “Me and Three Buddies Scavenging the Grocery Store for Food for our Families Militia.”

What worked for me in Afghanistan, with air support on tap, and a team of 11 other meat eaters, isn’t going to work for me—or anybody else, really—in Pikeville, Kentucky come August, even if I do have a team of 11 other meat-eaters. We don’t have air support on tap, and we don’t have a battalion of Rangers or Marines for QRF if we get in over our heads.

Hell, what works for an SF ODA in Syria isn’t going to work for that same ODA in Venezuela.

My “truck kit” that I’ll be discussing next week, isn’t belt and suspenders. It’s a plate carrier, with everything attached. It also keeps everything off my back, except the plates, because I need to be able to sit in the seat of a truck, and the plates are integral, because vehicles—especially soft-skinned vehicles—tend to be giant, magic bullet magnets, in my experience.

On the same hand though, my “patrol kit” is ALSO a belt set-up. In Idaho and Montana, like Afghanistan, I used a chest rig, but it’s a lot hotter and more humid, here in the southern highlands, than it was there, and overheating is a more serious consideration here, with concerns about general safety, as well as physical efficiency.

The NODs in the dump pouch thing just came to me one night, as I was coming back into the house from checking on something. I wouldn’t TRANSPORT them, say on a patrol or in my vehicle, in the dump pouch, but since that outfit hangs from a peg in the wall, out of reach of the dogs, cats, and kids, it’s awfully handy to just keep them in there, instead of having to dig in the safe or my ruck, and then get them out of the padded case. The whole idea of the bump in the night kit, after all, is being able to get out the door in a couple of seconds.

I don’t use the old LC-2 mag pouches. As we’ll see in a couple of weeks, even my “patrol kit” is set up with doubled taco pouches. Being able to get the mags out in a hurry is important to me. I may have time to do a leisurely administrative reload, circa 1992, but I may not also….

7) In this article you mentioned the Warlord A-IWB holster from ISS Design you use for CC.

I have been searching online for that company or the holster. It was interesting to find a number of companies with warlord in the naming for holster but none that had that holster in particular.

Do you have the contact information for them? I’m looking for something similar and one of my clansman really liked that design as well.

Someone shared it in the comments section, but Matt can be contacted via his company FB page, through either Integrated Survival Systems, or American Survival Company.

8) The combination rifle-shotgun break open is a good canidate for keeping close to the kitchen door for night farmstead tool. An instant choice of rimfire for the small and a shotgun for larger predators. The .410 for less damage to valuable farm equipment / buildings is worth thinking about – the targets are often stationary and the smaller amount of shot will do less damage to the surroundings.

It is a good all-around choice for traditional farm threats. On the other hand, I’d sure feel like a fucking idiot, if I rolled out to deal with a raccoon, and found four tweakers in my shed, stealing the 20 year old four wheeler that is our only mechanized equipment, other than trucks.

9) I was the #1 man doing an entry and after the door opened, I headed door-side to clear my corner. As I moved past the door, the bungees on my Tacos somehow managed to grab the door handle and stopped me dead in my tracks. Took me a good 5 seconds to unfuck myself. It only ever happened once, but after that, I switched all my pouches to Esstac KYWIs. FWIW…

I’ve been thinking about this since you posted the comment the other day. I can see why you would switch, in a hurry, but I still can’t figure out how it happened. My elastic is all too snug to catch on anything (Hell, sometimes, it takes pliers to get a grip on it to pull it loose, when I want to…), and my loops below the adjustable buckles are all cut so they are free hanging, instead of loops. Can you explain WHAT caught on the door, and how?

Additionally, since I don’t have a Ranger Platoon or an ODA+ behind me, I’m not even entering the room until I’ve cleared most of it from outside, like I discussed in Volume Two of The Reluctant Partisan.

10) I was wondering about your thoughts on IR cameras both hardwired and blue tooth?

I don’t have an issue with them, generally speaking. Bluetooth would worry me, because it wouldn’t be that difficult for even some local kid to come up with a way to jam the signal, and even a decent thunderstorm around here will fuck with it pretty bad.

I’ve got an IR game camera my wife got me a couple of years ago. I don’t know where it is though, because I tend to just rely on the dog instead, and I don’t have to monitor the screen with the dog. If he barks, I can usually tell the difference between his “Oh wow! This is really interesting!” bark, and his, “Dad, if you don’t come smoke this fucker, I’m gonna eat him!” bark. So, I get a reasonably accurate early-warning system, and a bribe-proof PSD for my kids (Oh, I know…”but someone could slip him some drugged meat!”) They could….if they could get close enough before he started barking.

For me, the dog(s), like IR cameras, etc….are “speed bumps.” Their mission is to slow someone down long enough for me to gun up and go hunting. I think the dogs are superior to IR cameras for that.

On the other hand, I HAVE been seriously contemplating the purchase of a quality drone with camera capabilities. That way, at 0300, when the dog wakes me up with his barking, before I bother getting out of bed, I could roll over, launch the drone out the bedroom window, and fly it over to see what he’s barking at, before I bother getting out of bed.

A local kid I know in passing recently started working for a local drone company, and I saw them testing a small model one day, so I stopped to visit. It was roughly the size of a shoe box, had a 1500 ft elevation ceiling, and 3 mile range….for $500!

Looking at the screen, they had the drone at 1000’ AGL, and I could see individual people walking around in parking lots, and I could see something like 3 city blocks, with excruciating detail. It was pretty tempting, if I’d had $500 at the time (so…if any readers want to sponsor a drones for doomstead surveillance article…..)

11) Have you had any trouble with DEET on the elastic on the taco pouches? I have not had good luck there.

I’ve seen DEET melt the buttons on BDUs, and the lenses on USGI/Cammenga lensatic compasses, so yeah, it would probably be rough on the elastic on the taco pouches.

We have ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, and a host of other creepy crawlies around here, from about a month and a half ago, through probably the middle of November. So, bug dope is pretty critical.

That having been said, seeing what it does to plastic made me give up on DEET a long time ago (even before I had kids). What we do now is go to the farm store and buy concentrated permethrin, and I give all of our outdoors/work clothes a serious dosing with a 40% concentration of it. I then repeat that once a month throughout the summer and autumn. This means I don’t have to worry about DEET’s effects on plastics, and, as long as nobody puts the treated clothes on until all of the petroleum distillate solvents have dried, we don’t have to worry about bad effects from the permethrin either (although, to be honest, I don’t let anyone wear the treated clothes until they’ve dried, and then been through a wash cycle once, just for extra precaution).

12) If you wear a pistol, and it ever gets below freezing, or you want a holster to last more than a few years, leather is the only way to go. At 10 below, all plastics, and kydex break real easy, and fast.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Hold on, let me catch my breath…


Wait…you were serious, weren’t you?

That’s news to me….and cops I know in Alaska and Montana and Idaho and Wyoming and Michigan…and all the Arctic Warriors up there at Fort Richardson, Alaska…and the Norwegians using plastic holsters….and the Russians….and, well, pretty much everyone else who actually gets out and uses their equipment in extreme cold weather conditions.

I suppose, if you buy a $10 kydex holster, off a gun show table, extreme cold weather could cause it to fracture and break prematurely. I’ve literally NEVER seen a quality kydex holster, or any QUALITY holster made of synthetics, break because of the cold….and I’ve carried, and you know, actually used, them in Afghanistan, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Norway, and Canada (and probably a few other extreme cold-weather environments that I’m forgetting.)

You know what I HAVE seen? A lot….leather goods (not just holsters), that were well-maintained with saddle soap and oil, used in extreme cold weather conditions, fall the fuck apart. Why? Because when it gets cold enough, the oil in the leather, and the sweat it has accumulated, and the water that tends to get on gear that’s actually in use, freezes inside the leather, and fractures the internal fiber structures of the leather.

Nice try. It’s still just a sexual preference.


(Okay, I lied above. THIS is the last time I’m commenting on it.)

13) I like. So this is your current training rig as well? I think you had mentioned it on another blog but cant find it at the moment – aside from the bemefits of a belt over a chest rig/pc in hot climes, do you find reloads from the belt to be reliably faster?

Also, since you are running a NOD, what are your thoughts on some sort of laser (IR or visible – they both light up great in a pvs) on tje rifle?

a) Yes, this is my primary training set up as well. I’ll switch out occasionally, and use my truck rig or my patrolling rig, but this is my go-to, because it’s really the one I’m most likely to have when things get kinetic, other than my EDC load, if I’m away from home.

I do find a reload off the belt is measurably faster than a reload off the chest. I’m not sure if that’s a biomechanics thing (which wouldn’t make sense, considering locations of hands during the process, and location of magazines in pouches, etc), or a practice thing, since I started out, almost 30 years ago, loading off a belt, and my pistol mag pouches tend to be off my belt for EDC, so I have a LOT of repetitions reaching for my belt during reloads.

Even if I’m wearing my plate carrier/truck rig, I tend to keep at least one mag on my trouser belt, just for “Oh shit!” emergency speed reloads. Then, my chest mounted mags act almost as an administrative reload center, for tactical reloads, and to feed the belt pouch, when I can.

b) Yes. I use an IR laser anytime I’m using night vision, except with my pistol. I’ve used a red dot on my pistol for NODs, which is sort of the cat’s meow, and I’ve just switched to white visible light and my right eye, when using the pistol. Really just depends on threats/hazards/mission. For a rifle, using NODs and NOT having an IR laser on the rifle is ridiculous, in my opinion. Sure, you CAN mount the NOD on the gun, behind or in front of the optic, and if you’re in a static, overwatch position, that still has some validity, but if you’re moving at all, or possibly have no-shoots to your front, it’s incredibly irresponsible, and is begging for a blue-on-blue event.

I’ve been using an OTAL for the better part of a decade now, because it’s what I could afford at the time. I’ve considered switching over to a DBAL with either an IR/visible laser slaved, or an IR/illuminator combination, for a long time, but I haven’t been able to justify the expense. If I went with the IR/Visible laser, it would just be for the convenience of being able to zero during daylight hours with the visible laser, instead of having to wait until after dark.

I’d probably go with an illuminator/IR laser combo. If money wasn’t an object, I’d go with the BE Meyers M-AWL that is all the hotness now, but, well, money IS an object, and if I dropped that kind of money on a laser, even as much as I use it, my wife would probably murder me in my sleep.

14) I wasn‘t impressed with 531. Using 90% of my max as the new max to calculate lift weights from had me lifting lower weight and fewer reps than before. For example, using 90% of my one-Time bench max as my new max put it at 315 (350 x .9 = 315, and then 90% of 315 = 285-a significant difference on the upper Limits of weight to use.) The program had me lifting lighter than before and I wasn’t getting stronger on the DL, squat, or bench press. I did make gains on military press, and really liked the upper back work that he recommends. I went and re-read it a couple weeks later to see if I was dicking something up and couldn‘t find where I messed up.

A lot of folks really like it and see gains from it; and I‘ve never understood why it didn‘t work for me. I‘m still thinking I screwed something up, just not sure what it was.

So, I THINK, from what you wrote, you are doing it wrong, but that’s the least of the issues.

If your bench max is 350# for a 1RM, then your training max (TM) IS 315, 90% of that. NOT 285. So, your percentages would be based off the 315, not off the 285.

That’s still going to have you pushing less weight initially. The bigger issue is, while you’re going to be pushing lighter weights initially, and while, with a 5# increase in TM each cycle, with 3 week cycles, it’s going to take you 9 cycles, or the better part of a year, to push past your old 1RM for your TM, it actually won’t, because you’ll make pure strength gains, from the volume as well.

The first time I ran 531, my deadlift jumped 100# in six months (I was grossly out-of-shape on deadlift. It went from 350 to 450 for reps.) My bench went from a paltry 235, since I hadn’t done bench press in over two decades, to 315 in the same time frame.

It works, it just takes time. And, if your bench is legitimately 350#, I’d be a lot less worried about strength level improvements, and focus on conditioning work anyway.

15) anyway, point being and its how i have amassed my wealth of gear. those in less than optimum financial resources should mimic as best they can those that know what they are talking about. Replace with better as you can.
You JM may run a super cool Eagle Tactical cigar holder but i may only be able to afford a cheap Condor knock off. For the immediate, we could both quickly access our cigars, in the long run your quality and maybe feature set will surpass my own. Certain things are not negotiable however and that is the not so fun task of funding on a budget. Those particular items are why people will come to people like you and read and learn. “Yeah” says JM, “get you a cheap Condor tactical cigar holder for the short term” “But don’t you skimp, ever, on your boomstick” Therein is the high value of your experience and those you associate with that you in turn learn from, to share here. Thanks, sincerely, thanks.

The problem with this is, the gear we’re talking about is what keeps the “boomstick” operating. It doesn’t do you a bit of good to have a $3500 custom M4, if you dropped all of your magazines, three kilometers back, because your shit fell apart.

A guy would be far better off running around with spare magazines tucked in his back pockets, than running around with shitty LBE that he has to keep stopping and grabbing shit that falls out of it. And, you can buy quality, used equipment, from reputable manufacturers, on Ebay and different forums, for the same price you can buy the Condor shit.

It’s the same as spending $15 for a decent rifle magazine, versus taking the used GI aluminum ones your buddy salvaged out of the trash barrel at the local National Guard range. Sure, you’ve got 50 magazines for free, but the dude that bought three Pmags has three that actually work. You’ve got a pile of scrap you can sell at the recycling center.

16) What type of tourniquet do you use and recommend John?

So, as a general, “better safe than sorry” rule, I tell people, if it’s on the official approved list, published by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care, it’s good to go. There are two personal caveats to that.

a) I’ve been using the TX2 and TX3 from RevMedX, for a number of years now, and they were just finally approved this year. I used them, and recommended them, because I know the guys involved with RevMedX and The Activity Group, and I knew the back story on why they used the ratcheting system, and why they developed a replacement for the CAT-T. That having been said, I also made it a point to tell people that it was NOT approved by the CoTCCC, even though it was already in used by various SOF elements.

b) Even though it was one of the only two on the list for years and years, I HATE the SOF-T. I’ve hated it since the very first time I tried to use one in training. In my experience, they’re a giant pain-in-the-ass, especially one-handed. I love the metal furniture, but the design itself fucking blows.

So, I tell people, I use/carry CAT-T 6s and 7s, and TX2s and TX3s (We also have a number of TX1s for the kids). Those are also what I recommend.

Added caveat emptors (What IS the proper pluralization of that?):

a) Even though he trademarked the term CoTCCC, so he could advertise “Approved by CoTCCC,” the RAT tourniquet is a piece of shit that was never actually approved by the real committee. If you show up to my class with one, I will chop it into little pieces for you. It’s not even adequate for a “better than nothing” pocket EDC. You can fit a fucking CAT-T or a TX2 into the cellphone pocket on a pair of Carhartts, and PHLster makes a flat pack for belt carry. I’ve also carried one in my back pocket, next to my wallet, when I was wearing straight leg jeans.

b) If you’re buying tourniquets on Amazon, and you’re not checking to make sure the vendor is North American Rescue or Chinook Med, or a similarly suitable manufacturer/distributor, you’re probably getting a Made in China knockoff that will get someone killed. It used to be you could basically tell by the price difference, but I suspect the tariff-induced price increases are going to change that.

Tourniquets, Chest Seals, and Pressure Dressings, Oh My!

pocket med


Tourniquets get a lot of digital bandwidth in tactical and preparedness virtual circles. Rightfully so, since they’ve demonstrably saved a fuckton of lives over the last two decades of combat. Unfortunately though, in the process of bludgeoning a deceased equine, in order to overcome decades of medical institutional intertia about the supposed hazards of tourniquet use, many people—myself included, unfortunately—have neglected to make it a point to discuss the surrounding issues.

Let’s start with this, just to get it out of the way:

If you carry a gun, and you’re not carrying a tourniquet or two, you’re either LARPing, or you’re a fucking idiot. The fact is, a “gunfight” implies bilateral ballistics, and the enemy gets a vote. If you assume your one box of ammo a month “practice” regimen means you’re automatically a far better marksman than the bad guy you are going to end up in a gunfight with, well, I’ve got an 8 ounce jar of fairy dust I’ll sell you cheap, and it’s guaranteed to make you stronger, faster, higher flying, and generally more attractive to members of your preferred sex.

Sure, you COULD try using your belt or handkerchief or what-the-fuck-ever to improvise a tourniquet, but experiential research and laboratory study both pretty clearly demonstrate they are a piss-poor substitute, and don’t work particularly well (which is not the same thing as saying they DON’T work, AT ALL. I know people who have saved lives with improvised tourniquets, and you may too. Both they, and their patients, probably would have appreciated a manufactured, quality, tourniquet).

That having been said, we’ve got to look at the circumstances surrounding battlefield wounds, versus our likely circumstances, to see if tourniquets are even MOST of the answer, let alone all of the answer.

Soldiers in combat, in the last twenty years, as a general rule, are wearing—at a minimum—a plate carrier of some sort with rifle-rated plate protection for the upper torso. This means, by default, whether a victim of an IED blast, indirect fire weapons, or direct fire small-arms, the vast majority of wounds sustained will occur to the extremities. Tourniquets work splendidly on extremity wounds. It’s…well…what they’re for…

You and I however, for our EDC, probably do not wear even pistol-rated soft armor, and almost certainly, we’re not walking into the Stop-And-Rob, at 10 PM, with a rifle-rated plate carrier on. If you are, you need to seriously reconsider your life choices. We’re probably not sitting in traffic, waiting to deal with a potential road-rage attacked, kitted up like we’re gonna run Route Irish, circa 2007.

While we SHOULD carry tourniquets, for the inevitable limb injuries, we also need to consider the very real fact that not all miscreants and general shitheads are poor shots. We also need to consider the very real fact that, at arm’s length, the bad dude doesn’t even need to be a particularly skilled marksman to get solid upper torso hits on you. You know where tourniquets don’t do a shitting bit of good? On penetrating trauma to the torso…

You know what other item, besides tourniquets, the improvised/expedient version of is a fucking joke, and a pain-in-the-ass to use, and doesn’t work particularly well? Chest seals.

Dude, I get it. I used the “field dressing wrapper and 100mph tape” chest seal in training as a young soldier. It seems all high-speed, cool guy McGuyver-ish. Now, try doing it on someone with a quarter pint of blood on their chest, covered in sweat, thrashing around, because they’ve got three or four rounds lodged in their lungs, and they’re starting to have a LOT of trouble breathing…

It really is pretty easy to improvise a pressure dressing. A t-shirt will do it pretty well. It’s reasonably easy to improvise wound packing with a t-shirt too. Sure, neither is going to be sterile, but that’s what prophylactic antibiotic treatments are for.

Chest seals are cake to carry. I can fit a set of Fox Seals, or the Compact Hy-Fins, in my wallet, folded in half. I don’t. I either carry them folded in half behind the tourniquet in my cell phone pocket, or I keep a small Maxpedition pouch, with a set of them in it, if I’m wearing something with cargo pockets. Alternatively, I’ll tuck that wallet sized Maxpedition (actually, looking at the picture now, I see it’s NOT Maxpedition, but Vanquest. For some reason, I’ve always thought it was a Maxpedition pouch. Weird) pouch into my back pocket, opposite my wallet, and carry it there.

Seriously, if you’re savvy enough to be carrying a tourniquet, you better be carrying chest seals (and nitrile surgical gloves, unless HerpeSyphiGonorrhAIDS is your fetish) as well. If you’re not savvy enough to be carrying a tourniquet, well, fix your shit.

The other stuff illustrated in my EDC BOK? Meh. I can improvise, or, I can probably get by without, in a normal EDC scenario. Tension pneumothorax, requiring a needle decompression, doesn’t onset THAT quickly, and, outside of a grid-down scenario, I’m probably going to be able to get my patient, or myself, to a hospital, before it becomes an issue.

Same thing with the nose hose. Unless the situation is the onset of the Apocalypse, in which case, fuck a bunch of people I don’t know, I’m heading for the truck, with my people, where there is a full-blown trauma bag, I can probably use chin-lift/jaw-thrust, to maintain a patent airway.

Surgical gloves are sort of a pain to improvise, but I’ve actually dealt with blood-soaked patients who were strangers without them. If you don’t have any open wounds on your hands, you’ll probably be okay, and if you’re worried about getting cut, on scene, a pair of decent work gloves acts as a pretty decent barrier protection as well. That having been said, I found out a few years ago, after exactly that scenario, that going to the ER for a blood test, in my area, runs about $1800, so fuck that. I’ll carry surgical gloves.

If you don’t know what any of this gear is, how to use it, when to use it, when NOT to use it, and when you can improvise a work-around pretty easily, you need to get off your ass and get some medical training. Then, you need to practice it, under different scenarios.


(Author’s Note: I realize there is no tourniquet pictured. It is still in my pocket. It is a TX2 from RevMedX, courtesy of The Activity Group. Tell them Mosby sent you.)

From the Library

Storing Food Without Refrigeration by Carol Shearlock

I found this one on the shelf at Cabela’s. It was alright, but even though it includes “Off grid” living in the subtitle, it’s really geared towards RV life and camping in the short term. I don’t think I saw much that was legitimately “long term” food storage ideas that wasn’t the typical “put dried foods in a bucket with an oxygen absorber.” Meh.

Irish Folk Ways by E. Estyn Evans

I found this at a local used book store. It’s a really cool look at the way the folks of Eire dealt with life. Think “The Foxfire Books” for Ireland. I love old folk ways books like this, because even if they’re not tutorials, they give us ideas to explore, to discover ways of doing things to prepare for a post-grid environment. Recommended.

531 Forever by Jim Wendler

This is the fourth or fifth book Wendler has done on his 531 strength training programming. It’s really not a stand-alone book. While it CAN be a standalone book, a lot of it makes more sense if you’ve read at least his first 531 book, and his second one, Beyond 531 is even more useful as a prequel. I’ve been using 531 off-and-on, for several years now, with great success. This book specifically is really, really good, because there’s basically a lifetime of programming in here, and he describes how to mix-and-match the different programming formats to best effect over the long haul.

I don’t think 531 is a Beginner Program, although folks have used it as such. I think it’s better used after developing a basic level of strength using basic 5×5 programming like the Stronglifts or Bill Starr’s methods. It does work really well for intermediate lifters. I suspect it works really well for advanced lifters as well, but since I don’t consider myself an advanced lifter, I can’t speak to that for certain. The advanced lifters I’ve asked about it prefer to do their own programming, basing it largely on what they feel like. I’m not gonna argue with them about it.

The only issue I have with Wendler’s 531 is not really a beef with it at all. His conditioning recommendations are probably spot on for the recreational weightlifter, or the competitive lifter. They’re nowhere near adequate for our needs, in this context. What I do—and for people who follow Wendler, I’m well aware that, by his definition I’m NOT “following the program”–is use the 531 programming for my basic strength training, and use Convict Conditioning calisthenics and CrossFit type circuits for my supplemental work, and then add in the sprint intervals (I’m currently doing intervals two days a week, a longer run once a week, and CrossFit WODs two days a week. Combined with 3-4 hours of boxing or Muay Thai a week, and the physicality of our weekly range days, I’m getting a LOT of conditioning work in…)


52 Unique Techniques for Stocking Food for Preppers by David Nash

This was another Cabela’s impulse buy. I didn’t expect much out of it, but was pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t anything particularly novel in it, although his bacon curing method seems a lot less complicated than the others I have, and will probably get tried. What I did like about this book—besides being surprised that I didn’t waste the money—was that it really is 52 different, relatively simple projects that didn’t revolve around “put food in a bucket, and add an oxygen absorber.”

Some of the projects are stuff we don’t need to do, because we have different methods already working for us, but some of them will be tried out.


Campfire Chat

1) I got a lot of vitriolic responses via email, to my comments last week about not buying cheap gear. They ranged from “I’ll buy cheap gear if I want!” to “If you’re not carrying the gear I recommend, you’re going to die!” and “anybody that knows anything knows leather gear is the only way to go! You’re a fraud, John!” I also saw a few emails telling me that focusing on gear was stupid, and having a weekly range day with friends to train was stupid, because the coming Civil War 2 wasn’t going to happen the way I think it’s going to happen…okay.

Look, first off, I don’t give a fuck what gear you run. There have been more than a few classes that have watched me run my rifle with a spare mag tucked into my back pocket. There have been a few classes that have seen me do that, while wearing shorts, and either sandals or barefoot (OH MY GOD! THE SAFETY HAZARDS! Dude. Seriously. If you think wearing a fucking shoe is going to protect your foot if some dumbfuck smokes a rifle round into your foot….Why did I go barefoot? Because I LIKE being barefoot. That’s it.). I legitimately just don’t care what you use. That is what I use, and I gave the reasons why I use it.

Second…unless your ass has been in a gunfight or ten, you telling anybody that your gear selection is the ONLY way is like a fucking virgin giving sex advice to a hooker. Go blow yourself. On a related note…when someone tells you that a holster for field use, that doesn’t have a flap is going to get you killed in a gunfight, “because mud and debris,” ask them why every single fucking dude I know who has carried a pistol downrange, in the SOF community, chooses to carry an open top holster with some sort of retention device other than a flap…maybe it’s because we know the pistol isn’t a fucking decoration or a status symbol, but an “Oh shit!” self-defense tool, and we’d sort of, kind of, maybe, like to be able to get to the goddamned thing when we need it. If you feel that you need a flap top holster on your sidearm, and you don’t think the time difference in getting it out is going to make a difference? Don’t even bother carrying a pistol. Or, do. I don’t give a fuck.

Third…as I mentioned in The Guerrilla Gunfighter, Vol1: Clandestine Carry Pistol, in this day and age, leather is a sexual preference, not a valid holster material. Look, I get it. A custom made, tooled leather holster is classic. It’s pure sexiness (see? Sexual preference.). Even for CCW use, it’s suboptimal, for a hundred different reasons that people in the training community (you know, people that actually practice this shit…) have belabored. If you’re still wearing a leather holster, that’s fine, just acknowledge your fetish.

For a field holster? If you’re carrying a leather holster, either a) you don’t have a goddamned clue what the fuck you’re talking about (and I don’t care how many years you served in the peacetime Army in the late 1970s), or b) you’re just not serious about using it in the field. You know what happens to gear in the field? It gets wet. It gets encrusted in mud and dirt. You know what happens to leather when it gets repeatedly wet and encrusted in mud and dirt, and isn’t promptly cleaned off with saddle soap, and then oiled? It fucking falls apart, you fucking troglodytes.

I’ve got an old leather cavalry holster for a 1911, from the interwar years. it’s sexy. It’s well-maintained. It’s also a fucking wall ornament at this point.

2) “Civil War 2 isn’t going to happen the way you think it’s going to. Nobody is going to be patrolling around in LBE like light infantry! It’s going to be spy shit and tradecraft!”

Let me preface this by saying, “That’s probably right, for most people.”

That having been said, let’s parse that a little bit. First off, unless your name is Nostradamus, and you’ve got a fucking crystal ball up your ass, ain’t nobody knows what the collapse of the American Empire is going to look like…and yes, that includes me. The only thing up my ass are turds.

What we do have are historical models we can look at, and try to extrapolate potentialities. We basically have two models we can use. We can look at the long-term view, i.e. what has happened to other empires in the past, like Rome, the Caliphate, and others, which I did, in excruciating detail in Forging the Hero. It’s not a perfect method, but, as they say, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it usually rhymes pretty well. Using that method, we can extrapolate that there will be increasing breakdowns, both in scope and frequency, in the civil order, especially in urban areas. They will also occur in rural areas, but probably less frequently, and less severe, simply because of the presence of resources, so people in rural environments won’t be starving, or lacking in potable water, etc, as quickly as those in urban areas.

Looking at that model, we can also expect some limited excursions by armed bands from urban environments into rural areas nearby, looking for food, women, and other resources. We can also expect, however, excursions by armed bands from rural areas, into nearby urban areas, looking for resources not available in rural areas…tools, valuables, women, and farm labor (because rest assured, those $170,000 tractors are going to be lawn ornaments…)

We can expect micro-collapses. I would argue the civil unrest we’ve seen in recent years, between Left and Right, are far more a result of the unraveling of the American Empire than they are of anything else (again, see, Forging the Hero, as well as the initial chapters of The Reluctant Partisan, Volume Two: The Underground, for breakdowns of some of these issues). We can expect limited recoveries in some areas, with more available resources, while other places will simply continue to crumble. Eventually though, like every other empire in the history of mankind, while some of the infrastructure will survive, the psychological construct of “America!” will fall and fade. It’s just what happens (and seriously, if you’re going to respond with, “But, God loves us!” go read FTH first. I covered that.)

Second, we can look at what I would term the short-term model, by looking at failed state environments in contemporary times. This could range from Somalia, with the fall of the Barre regime, to Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to Iraq and Afghanistan, post-invasion. It could be the Ukraine now.

Interesting thing about all of those, the collapse looked dramatically different in urban and rural areas, but in both contexts….the people who had the ability to fight to protect themselves? They had guns, and gear, and people around them that they trusted (sometimes unwisely).

Get on Google, and look for pictures of the fighting in Somalia in the early ‘90s. Every fucking Skinny out there was running some sort of chest rig for his AK. He might only have one magazine in it, but he damned sure had a way to carry it! Look at photos of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Don’t just look at the folks stuck in the cities being victims. Look at the actual fighters from all sides. You know what you’ll notice? They all had weapons, of one sort or another. Most had some semblance of a uniform, and they had load-bearing equipment for carrying spare magazines and mission-essential equipment.

Look at photos of Syria and the Ukraine. The rebel forces in both places—even before the US and Russia got involved—were carrying load-bearing equipment to support their primary weapon…and those were in both rural and urban environments.

If I lived in an urban area, I would still have my plate carrier fighting load set-up, but I would focus even more than I already do, on my EDC clandestine carry gear. I would spend 99% of my available training time, instead of 80% of it, on pistol work, instead of rifle work.

But, I don’t. I live in a rural area, in a small, spread out community, where everyone knows everyone, and everyone’s business. If shit starts falling apart in the closest urban areas, you can bet your happy ass that several of my neighbors already have plans in place to secure the mountain (they may have mentioned them in passing), in order to repel boarders. As I pointed out, in great detail in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume 1: The Guerrilla, and in numerous articles here in the past, if the enemy is on your front porch, you’re too late. So yeah, we practice and train with light-infantry gear, so we can project force outward, whether on foot, or in vehicles, to keep bad people off the fucking front porch.

That doesn’t mean we can’t dump that shit, slip a concealed pistol under our shirt, and go rolling through a festival or county fair with no one the wiser. We do it every day.

3) Related to that: Do yourself a favor. Never project your own inadequacies on someone else. The mistake can be costly.

4) I’m happy to announce, the TX2 and TX3, which I’ve been advocating to people for several years, are now on the Approved List from the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care. Also, as a brief aside, that piece of shit RAT tourniquet was NEVER approved by the Committee.


5) From a reader email:

“Forgot to mention, the MG PT program literally saved my butt. I was doing chores on the ice rink that used to be my backyard and fell, managing to spear my lower back on the corner of a low planter just before impact. I only had sweats on so no protection to be had from heavy layers of clothing. My offerings to the War Gods in the form of deadlifts and squats were rewarded–I hit really hard but instead of a fractured spine or broken pelvis all I had was a nasty bruise and a broken toe (i have no idea how that happened. PT is the best…”

Said reader has been in a class, and has read the books. He gets it. PT isn’t just about being dangerous in a fight. PT is a fundamental survival training skill, because shit happens.