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A Product Review

Last year, the host of a class gave me a ballistic helmet. I’ve never been much of a fan of helmets except as “air items,” but I graciously accepted the gift, and promptly started wearing it as a NVG mount, in lieu of my TNVC Night Cap. A couple months ago, he got ahold of me to ask if I’d been using it at all, and if so, what I thought of it. I told him, “It’s fine. It’s lighter than my bump helmet, which surprised me, and it holds the -14s more secure than the Night Cap.”
He then told me he was friends with the owner of the company that manufactured the helmet, and wanted to send me some other stuff they manufactured to test out, in order to help get word out about his buddy’s company.  
Well, the company ended up sending me several items, despite my assurances that, if said items sucked ass, I was going to say as much in my review. It’s been a month or two now, so I’ve managed to test the equipment in question, and I’m going to present my findings and conclusions here, as well as on the original blog site.  
Company Name and Location:
Veterans Manufacturing, Katy, TX
Items sent for Review:
1) Ballistic Helmet
2) Level III+ Ultralight Series Rifle Plate
3) Ultralight Low-Profile Plate Carrier
4) Basic Plate Carrier
5) SWAT Vest (ballistic vest. Soft armor, with rifle plate pockets, including neck, delt, and groin protection).  
1) The ballistic helmets, as noted, are lighter (or at least as light) as the bump helmet I’ve got, based solely on my memory. (The bump helmet is in storage, since I never used it, so I couldn’t actually put it on a scale and compare). This is probably the lightest helmet I’ve ever worn, including the original MICH helmets (that became the ACH), the old “Fritz” PAGST “K-Pot,” and a Vietnam-era “steel pot” helmet and liner that I had when I was a kid, for playing Army.
We tested the second one they sent (not the original I was gifted) with .45ACP ball, 9mm 124 grain God Dot, 7.62×39, and 5.56 M855. Following the testing, I was finally able to speak with the owner of Veterans Manufacturing, Michael (who I discovered is now a reader, after the original class host recommended the blog to him). These helmets have NIJ testing certification, AND have been DoD approved now. He has the requisite certifications in hand as well.  
The helmet, as you will be able to see in the photos, stopped the 230 grain ball, with less than 1/4” backface deformation. It would have caused a zinger of a headache and sore neck, but the backface deformation is actually significantly less than the thickness of the actual liner padding. It also stopped 9mm 124 grain Gold Dot, although the back face deformation was significantly greater (but still less than the thickness of the liner padding).

To read this rest of the review, check out the public access post (it’s free) on the Patreon Page.

From the Library

After I posted about Gavin DeBecker’s The Gift of Fear, several readers responded with comments recommending Left of Bang. It was, no shit, the next one on the list for me to suggest anyway. The authors helped stand up the USMC “Combat Hunter” Program, and leveraged that experience to write this book.

In the training industry, a lot of bandwidth and ink is spent discussing the importance of “awareness” for avoiding trouble. The problem is, all too often, the people discussing this importance lack the ability intelligibly define “awareness,” let alone provide a method for actually practicing awareness, beyond “always keep your head on a swivel.” In my book The Reluctant Partisan, Volume 2, I spent a significant amount of time discussing this, including many of the concepts discussed in Left of Bang.
Like my book, but in far more depth, since it’s a single subject book, the authors spend a lot of time breaking down what awareness actually is, by providing the biometric and atmospheric indicators that constitute awareness, and then spend time discussing how to leverage and decipher those, both the universal ones and the cultural ones (an example is looking someone in the eye when speaking to them. In our culture, that’s a sign of respect and honesty. In other cultures, the exact opposite. One thing that takes guys deploying to the Middle East the first time a bit of getting used to…and other regions as well, to be sure…is the proximity in which it is “normal” to stand to other people, especially other males, during conversation. On the other hand, there are many physical cues that are universal human responses to stimuli, cross-culturally).

The one complaint I’ve ever heard about this book was from a dude who grew up in a really rough environment. He pointed out that he didn’t really learn anything he didn’t already know, from the book. I had the same experience. There wasn’t anything in the book I hadn’t learned, intuitively through experience.

The value of the book though, even in that context, was that it allowed me to better articulate what I was observing. This benefited me as a teacher, because I could better explain to students, exactly what indicators I was looking for, and why. As a dude who carries a gun in a society where the police and courts are still—at least arguably—functional, being able to articulate what I saw that convinced me I needed to punch some dude in the dick, or to shoot him, and WHY it convinced me that I needed to do so, may be the difference between ending up in prison, and going home to my family.

Most middle-class Americans are going to get a great deal of benefit out of this book. Some of it will be shit you know intuitively, although I’d be surprised if a dude who grew up WASP, went straight to college, and then into a professional field, didn’t learn SOMETHING from this book, that he wasn’t previously aware of. More importantly, even for those with considerable experience in shitholes, it will help provide a framework for explaining and understanding what you’re recognizing “in your gut.”

I highly recommend this book.

I have a pretty extensive library at home. Combined with stuff that is still in storage, waiting for the library building to be built on the farm, my wife and I have somewhere between 7500 and 8000 books. One of the things I’ve taken to doing is handing books to the guys in our training group to read.

One of them read these two a couple months ago, and has been nagging me ever since to post them in these From the Library segments. They’re that important, and that good.

Campfire Chat

John, some of your recent posts have mirrored my own realizations with shorty ARs. I have two 10.5s that have worn RDS and have become my favorite ARs of my herd. I have 2 carbines with 1-4x scopes and the capability of the optics is so much better here in the sticks than a RDS…so I ordered 2 Bushnell Elite 1-8.5x for the two 10.5s.

I think they’ll be perfect now with such easy handling and the added utility of the LPVOs. Just thought I’d echo your thoughts, 10.5s with LPVOs are where it’s at.

I’ve got my 14.5” as my go-to gun, solely because it goes in the truck with me when I leave the farm, and if I do get pulled over, it’s a lot less of a headache to deal with local cops and deputies over a 14.5” with a pinned and welded FH, than it is a 10.5” “pistol.”

My preference for all-around really has become the 10.5 with a 1-6/8x on it. It’s just super handy, and while shots past 200 yards are not common here, by any stretch, there are straight aways on roads and in town that exceed that. I also know—personally—of at least two dozen dudes who have achieved first-shot kills at (verified) ranges between 600 and 800 meters, with 10.5” guns. Loading them with MK262 or a similar load will aid in lethality at longer ranges as well.

That having been said, I wouldn’t feel too uncomfortable, assuming the shot was justified, taking a shot at 500 yards with M855. I know for a fact, I can hit a chest size area at that distance, out of a 10.5” even with a red dot, and even if it doesn’t kill him, it’s damned sure going to ruin his week.


When I visited South Africa our group visited the ranch home of the Afrikaner gameskeeper on the farm and when we drove up in the bakke a pair of very large domestic geese greeted the truck like web footed klaxons. The two wealthy conservatards in the group wondered out loud why in the hell a guy would keep those things around and when I mentioned that they were for warnings of farm attacks I could see the look on their faces that all but said “Lee Greenwood is not a ‘racist’ and neither am I so what is this farm attacks thing you speak of?”

I offended the shit out of a college kid today. My “leaving the gym” shirt was a Rhodesian Army “Be A Man Among Men” t-shirt. He got snippety about it, then got huffy when I pointed out that like 80% of the Rhodie Army was black. Was Rhodesia racist, institutionally? Fuck yes.

Does that mean I can’t appreciate the Rhodesian Army’s contributions to special operations without being a racist? Fuck you.

Also, geese are the bees’ knees for security alarms. Unfortunately, in my experience, they’re also complete assholes to young children and dogs. I like both my children and my dogs, far more than I like geese.


For lighting, you want perimeter lights glaring outward, leaving your inside-the-perimeter area dark. If you turn them on, those on the outside are visible, you on the dark inside are not illuminated and are obscured by the glare.

Uhm….I know?

On the other hand, in an urban environment, if you live in a high-trust neighborhood, there’s a lot to be said for having the house illuminated too, so neighbors can see if someone is hanging out in the shrubbery that ought not be…


I can attest to the superiority of the white gas colemans. I am still using the one dad bought when I was 6 (I’m 69). The only thing that has been replaced, twice, is the leather pump seal. They are easy enough to make from some veg tan hide.

That’s bad ass! Mine aren’t anywhere near that old.



Uhm….I’m gonna guess you’re new around here. I got out after 10 years, and I do NOT have a military pension, nor do I collect VA disability, despite being more than eligible….

As for 500 paying subscribers? Well, if you provide good enough content, apparently people are willing to pay for it. It’s not like I’m holding a gun to their heads….

I can shoot as much as I do because I work my ass off, and I prioritize the importance of being able to protect my family and clan.

Additionally, I don’t have satellite television. I have a prepaid cell phone that costs $100/month, for both my wife and myself. We grow a lot of our own food, including meat. I drive 20+ year old trucks that I paid cash, at below book prices for. I do a lot of bartering, and I do a lot of side work.

I don’t drink, except ceremonially at holidays, and then it’s homemade mead, so it’s almost free. I don’t use drugs, other than chewing Copenhagen. I eat basically one meal a day. I built my house by hand, myself—and with help from the clan—so I don’t have a huge mortgage payment.

I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words of free content, over the last decade on this blog. I’ve written and published five books that people are willing to pay for (even when I was a dipshit and got the shipping all kinds of fucked up). I write this blog still, occasionally, and the Patreon content, in my copious free time, by taking a day each week away from my family…

We home school our kids, so they’re not quite as inundated with mercantile commercial marketing, demanding the latest, newest shit.

So….yeah, shooting 10K a year is not incredibly hard for me….but that’s because I work my ass off and prioritize it.

Campfire Chat

The Patreon address, because a number of people have asked, is

While I’ve been remiss in posting here, they’ve been getting their posts weekly…and with well over 500 paying subscribers, I must be doing okay with my content over there….

You’ve already sold me on the performance of the AR over the AK, but which is the better option in terms of sustainability or logistics in the face of a tough times scenario with limited future access to spare parts or professional gunsmithing? In other words, which one is best from the auxiliary team’s perspective?

Is the US military carrying AKs? Are there any law enforcement agencies in the US carrying AKs?


What are your thoughts on exterior lighting for security in a grid up situation? Is it safer for the property to be dark, or is perimeter lighting advisable?


If everyone around you is lit, but yours is dark…you stand out and the place may look either deserted/abandoned, or just ripe for the picking because of easy hidden approach routes. On the other hand, our exterior is dark. You can’t see our place from the road, even if you come up the county road, and exterior lights would just make it noticeable. Second, you’re not sneaking on to our place without the dogs alerting. I can choose to respond by stepping outside with white light…or with NVG (and I usually respond with NVG, so if it’s something like a skunk or a raccoon in the feed bins, I can see them before they run off because of the white light…that means, even if it ends up being a person, unless they’ve got NVG too, I’ve got a distinct advantage.

If I lived in town, or in the ‘burbs, I’d be lit up like a Max Security Prison though. I’d probably be getting nagged by city council to reduce the lighting…


I have been ruminating on the ‘when shtf’ article from last week.  I have used the two burner Colemans (propane ones), but they seemed mostly good for warming up canned food or making coffee.  Tough to cook on for groups since the burners are so close together.  And you can’t bake on a stove.  Have you given any thought to dutch ovens, or even a wood fired outdoor oven?

To be sure, propane and butane camp stoves suck giant horse penises! When I’m talking about the Coleman stoves, I’m talking about the White Gas versions.

I’ve got several cast iron dutch ovens, and love them, and they get used several times a year for skill maintenance. Definitely part of the tool chest. We are going to build an outdoor earth oven, but it hasn’t happened yet.


What is your target set up for pistol practice?  Paper targets stapled to cardboard mounted to wood frames?  Steel?

Both. I typically use IPSC/IDPA silhouettes for pistol work, but a lot of the time, I’ll spray glue an index card to them to reduce the A-Zone. At 10yards and out, I use steel a lot. I actually just replaced all the steel on our range, and we are now shooting nothing larger than an IPSC A-Zone, all the way out to 200 yards…So, with pistol work at 25/50/100 yards, it just got a lot more challenging than when we were shooting 1/3 silhouette steel….

Patreon and a Free Article

Initially, I had planned on offering one article per month from the Patreon site, on this site as well. I’ve fallen short on that, but this week’s first tier article is open to the public. Go check it out, and see what you’re missing (it’s close to the tail end of a series of articles).

From the Library

Today’s book is one I read two decades ago (or close to it), and made my wife read two weeks after we started dating. It’s arguably one of the most important books published in my lifetime, when it comes to personal protection. I’m not sure how I’ve never reviewed it for this blog, but one of our guys texted me a couple weeks ago, and insisted I needed to, post-haste.

The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker

Let me preface this by pointing out that, while I don’t know him personally, I suspect DeBecker is a hypocritical piece of shit. I suspect that, because he’s made a veritable fortune by providing armed security to celebrities, but he’s opposed to private gun ownership.

That having been said, while I don’t “understand” it, I get his reason (you’ll have to read the book).

All of that aside, this is the single best book out there, that I know of, to get women to pay the fuck attention to what’s going on around them, and to get them to pay attention to their gut instinct about shady situations, instead of rationalizing them. It’s equally true for men, of course.

My daughters will be required to read this, and write a report on it, before they are allowed to date.

In essence, it focuses on the physiology of WHY we have “bad feelings” or “gut instincts” about people and situations, and explains not just why we have them, but why we should trust them, and heed them.

If you haven’t read this, go get a copy, right now, and read it. If you have read it, and haven’t made your spouse and/or children (of appropriate age) read it, shame on you.

DeBecker not only explains the whats and whys, but he provides real world examples of both successes and failures, based on case studies from his clients, both celebrity and otherwise.

If you’re opposed to spending money on a book by an author who is decidedly anti-gun, I can understand and appreciate that. So, don’t give him any money. I’ve NEVER failed to find copies of this book at used bookstores and Goodwill. Go to your local Goodwill or used bookstore, and find a copy there. But seriously….read the fucking book.

Campfire Chat

What is your opinion of foreward assist on an AR? I have occasionally had to use mine to close a bolt on some random piece of ammo over the last 20 years, usually due to a grain of sand, or a reload with a large base.

But after the front pawl broke loose, and immediately jammed the carrier into the upper with the pawl between the groove and gouged into the aluminum, I am rethinking having one on my rifle. I eventually used a dremel tool to cut the upper apart and tried to salvage the carrier. Without the forward assist in there in the first place, I could probably solve any bolt closures with a brass punch and a hammer.

BTW, since I’ve stopped using RCBS X-dies and a progressive press, and have gone back to single stage reloading, my need for the FA has decreased significantly.

I use my forward assist all the time. Mostly, upon completion of a press check, to make sure the bolt has locked back into battery. I don’t know that I’ve used it more than a handful of times because of fouling, but then, I keep my guns pretty wet.

I can see where if you’ve had the problem you describe, it would be concerning, but without knowing the round count and resultant levels of fatigue on the metal, I can’t say that it wasn’t simply a matter of metal fatigue and stress on the FA that caused the issue.

I will say, in almost thirty years of running M16s, CAR15s, M4s, and AR15s, I’ve never had that happen. I don’t know that I’ve ever even seen it happen. Certainly not to that level of catastrophic failure. I’d be a lot more worried about things like staked carrier keys shearing off (I’ve had it happen on two different BCGs, or the locking keys on bolts themselves shearing off (I’ve had it happen a couple of times over the years), than about the FA causing a catastrophic failure….


Have you found any good radios for your group?  Not the big HAM ones, but the individual carry ones like you would have used in the army.

I’m no commo expert, but I’m very fond of the Yaesu FT-60R. I’ve got a couple of them, and we get really good service out of them, in all sorts of weather, and mine have had me fall on them on numerous occasions, during IMT (and general just falling ass-over-teakettle), and have been dropped from varying heights onto varying surfaces, with little or no damage. I did have to have one of our commo guys do some minor clean-up work on the one that I keep in my truck, as a combination radio/scanner. It slipped between the seats, and ended up forgotten there for about a week and a half, and ended up with lots of debris lodged into the keypad. It was a pretty quick and painless clean up fix though, according to him.

Perhaps—I couldn’t say for sure, of course, since I would never do, or suggest, such a thing—best of all, I’m informed that it’s a fairly simple process of severing one resistor, to allow them to not only receive FRS, GMRS, and MURS band frequencies, but also to transmit on those bands, which they are not supposed to do. I suspect such an ability would be handy to have, if some of your people only had handie-talkies out of the Cabela’s or Wal-Mart bubble pack….


Have you ever worked up a ‘bump in the night’ chest rig, plate carrier, etc. for your wife?  Do they even make plate carriers for women?

My wife does have a plate carrier. It’s an old lightweight LBT one with medium size plates in it, and her Tactical Tailor MAV slips right over the top of it, should she need that. More commonly though, if she’s putting a plate carrier on, she’s just tucking a spare rifle mag in her back pocket, although she does also have a very nice warbelt set up, much like mine.

I THINK they make anatomically appropriate body armor plates for women. It seems like I’ve read that they do. She just has standard ESAPI plates in hers though, and the PC was a gimme from a (male) buddy of mine, when his department required them to switch from Ranger Green to black, so hers are not “female specific.” They don’t seem to cause her too much trouble.


Do you still use the VG2 ‘holster’ at all?

Not really. I keep it in my range bag to show to students during classes, but I really don’t have any use for it. There are so many better options available now.


I read your response to the night vision question with interest.  I was thinking of getting a PVS-14 when funds allow, but put it down the list of priorities after reading in GG v2 that learning to shoot with a NOD was no easy task (probably requiring expert training).  And I’m still coming-up-to-speed learning to shoot in day light 🙂

I was wondering, however, if it might be prudent to have a night observation device, possibly hand-held, that could be used to identify potential threats at reasonable distance (say 100 ft on a moonless night).  Threats could then be lit up by white light if needed.  Does such a device exist?  If such a device were available at a reasonable cost, they could be distributed to the whole clan.  Or would it be best to conserve resources to purchase a full PVS-14 set up for key clan members, and leave the rest of the clan in the dark, so to speak?

Right now, with the grid up, there is a lot of ambient light (especially in the city!), and one could put up flood lighting around one’s property, I suppose.  But with the grid down . . . man, it’s dark out here in the country.

On a somewhat-related note, do you have a brand of lightweight binoculars you like to take on patrols?

The hand-held NOD you’re looking for? It’s still a PVS-14. If that’s just not in the cards, for financial reasons, a set of PVS-7s will work as a fallback, but you’ll have to remove the NODs in order to switch to white light.

One of the methods we used, back in the day, before everybody had NODs, was for key leaders (Team Leaders and above) to have night vision devices. They would load either alternating rounds of ball and tracer, or 3:1 ball:tracer. They could then use the tracer rounds to mark target zones for their subordinates and crew-served weapons to target. It’s far from ideal, but…

Yeah, few people in urban and suburban areas really understand what a moonless night, with no electrical lighting really means…

I use a small pair of Steiners. I love Steiners. They’re a little on the spendy side, but they’re great glass, great internals, and really, really robust.


Seriously asking since you use them; What’s the point of AR pistols? The only advantage I see is a high round count, at the expense of quite a lot of muzzle velocity? It never seemed worth it to me, asking in case I’m missing something.

Two different reader responses, I’m going to share, before I answer the question, addressing the answers provided.

1. Good for short to intermediate ranges
2. Easier to shoot accurately beyond point blank range compared to a standard handgun / pistol.
3. 556 has more power than 9mm in same barrel lengths


You still will need a red dot optic and maybe a 3x magnifier, but based on barrel length this isn’t going to be the long distance shooter.

The point of AR “pistols” is, legitimately, the same point of a 10.5” or other SBR, without the $200 tax and permission slip from The Crown, honestly.

You are losing some muzzle velocity, but you’re making up for it with handiness and light weight.

So, let’s address the muzzle velocity issue, while we address the reader answers:

The obvious issue with muzzle velocity is two-fold: a) reduced range, potentially, and b) reduced lethality of mil-spec ball ammunition. As both readers pointed out, this seems to make it a limited-range weapon, good only for short-to-intermediate ranges. SOCOM has been using the MK18 with it’s 10.5” barrel for well over a decade and a half now. In Iraq alone, there are AARs of dozens of one-shot stops on hostiles, at ranges in excess of 700 meters (and these are from sniper team spotters, in most cases, so it’s safe to assume the stated ranges are pretty damned accurate).

I’ve personally made shots (on steel, the MK18 came into use after my time) with a 10.5” in excess of 500 meters, on reduced silhouette targets. So, it’s really not limited to just short and intermediate ranges. It can—in the hands of a competent shooter—reach reliably out past any sort of common engagement distance with rifles, as seen in modern combat situations. Of course, the MK18 was specifically a CQB module for the SOPMOD system, so it really is going to excel at close ranges, within the 100 meter common engagement distance of most modern combat engagements (even in Afghanistan, where, at least for awhile, there was a trend by Hajj to use crew served weapons to stand-off from US forces, the majority of fights have actually occurred well within that 100M envelope).

The biggest advantage of the weapon, which is essentially a submachinegun, in a rifle caliber, is the same as submachineguns have always offered: as the reader mentioned, it’s a lot easier to shoot accurately, and fast, even at room distances, than a pistol. It’s damned sure a lot easier to shoot accurately and fast, at 100 yards, than a pistol! That makes it ideal for both a personal defense weapon (PDW) like the M1 carbine’s original purpose, and for CQB, whether in a building, dense forest, or even trenches/dugout compounds (as someone once told me, “The purpose of a SMG is to assassinate rooms full of very surprised colonels!”). It’s more powerful than a pistol, and handier than a rifle or carbine.

As far as the optic recommendation goes, a red dot, if that’s your preference, does work really well on an AR pistol, just like it does on a SMG. On the other hand, we have three AR pistols in the safe. One is mine, one is my wife’s, and the third is the oldest daughter’s (she’s eight). Mine has a 1-4x LPVO on it. My wife’s has a 1-8x LPVO on it. Only my daughter’s has a red dot on it, in the form of an EoTech. The LPVO offers the same benefits on the AR pistol that it offers on my 14.5” or my wife’s 16”: it allows us to extend the range dramatically, as well as offering us to ability to see better, into shadows and tight spaces, at shorter ranges.

In fact, oldest daughter’s AR pistol has an EoTech on it for two simple reasons: 1) I have found it is easier to teach her to shoot it, well, with the simpler EoTech reticle. Since it still has a .22LR conversion in it, she’s not really shooting it past 50 yards anyway, so the simplicity of telling her to put the dot in the center of the target, hold the gun still, and break the trigger, is just simpler for her to process. Combined with the less visible movement from wobble, as her positions aren’t as stable yet as they will be, simply makes it less confusing for her. 2) It weighs less. She’s a stout, strong girl, but she’s eight. She’s got some growing to do yet, and a lighter weapon, that she can hold more steadily, makes the shooting/training experience more tolerable for her, when she’d rather be playing with horses.

I use my 14.5” a lot more than I use my 10.5”, but I absolutely trust my 10.5” “pistol” to do anything I will ever ask it to do, out to at least 400 meters. I wouldn’t not have one.

In fact, I’d rather have the pistol than the registered SBR, because transportation is a lot less of a headache.


Got to spend a great weekend at Old Salem in Winston Salem, NC. Couldn’t help but think about an application of the Moravian’s methodology in a smaller scale for the upcoming spiciness. The community owned the basic property, while families could own their own homes. Skills and trades were encouraged, and the educational system supported them. Common worldview, mutual support for families and individuals, interactions with “strangers” on their terms are just some of the takeaways.

Careful, people might start calling you a socialist, spouting ideas like that.

To be honest though, if I was going to start any sort of “retreat community” or other “intentional community,” that’s basically how I’d do it. I’d incorporate and purchase the land and major tools as community property, of the corporation. Written into the by-laws would be that shareholders own their homes, and those homes are inviolate, and may be passed on to heirs, as long as the original owner, or the heir, remains part of the community, but cannot be sold or transferred outside of the community.

We’d have a community school, and all the rest. It’s the only way to “force” form a community that has tribal-level ties and commitments (this is also why I will probably never be able to form any sort of intentional community….)


NVG or Thermals?
The price on thermals has dropped quite a bit over the last few years.
Now IIRC, thermals can’t see through glass (windows, ect) or be used to read maps, but they do make people “pop” out of the background, unlike NV where a good job of camouflage by daylight does just as well by night when viewed through NV.
Of course a set up that merged the two would be best, but DARPA isn’t funding my purchases.

NODs first, followed by thermals down the road. Positive ID of targets is a real concern, and important. It’s much easier to ID targets with NODs than it is with thermals….


American Nations is a good read but the authors near pathological anti Southern bias as well as his complete ignorance of the Southwest flaw the work.

Meh. 1) I’ve yet to read a book that wasn’t flawed somehow (including the ones I wrote, for what it’s worth). It’s the nature of the beast. 2) Hell, I have biases against the South too, and I’m a damned Southerner. Of course, a lot of that depends on which part(s) of the South you’re discussing. Were all the author’s criticisms of the South valid? Probably not. In my experience though—again, as a Southerner—the majority of them were, even if some of those were exaggerated.

I’m not in the loop enough about the SW myself, to comment with validity, but, overall, I still found it an important book, and well worth reading and digesting, even with his biases.

I generally accept that everyone has biases, many of which I may or may not agree with. I don’t accept the criticisms anyone offers against anything as articles of faith, but, if they are well argued, I can certainly consider them in formulating my own opinions on the subject. On the other hand, if they’re poorly argued, that also allows me to consider, and weigh, them, in formulating my own opinions.

Ultimately, I feel like accepting an author’s opinions on a region he’s not from himself, is much akin to listening to a musician or actor pontificate on politics and current affairs. If you lack expertise on the specific area, I can choose to ignore that portion of your presentation. I can watch a movie starring an actor whose politics or other public statements I dislike, and still appreciate the movie. I’m watching the movie to be entertained, not because of the actor’s politics. If the movie incorporates those politics, well, that’s another issue, but that rides more on the screenwriter and director than on the actors themselves, in that case.

Similarly, I can read the author’s work, and appreciate it—and the valid points—while ignoring or discounting obvious biases that are irrelevant to the conclusions.

Campfire Chat

Do you have a recommendation for an AR pistol, off the shelf?

I don’t, sorry. All of ours are custom builds, and all but one were built by me, from various parts. Sorry. I would say though, a mil-spec trigger, 1:7 barrel twist, chrome-lined (1st choice), or chrome-moly (2nd choice). Not stainless. A lot of guys like stainless, but they seem to wear a lot faster. If you’re a trainer, and that’s part of your business expenses, that’s fine, but if you don’t know when—or if—if you’ll be able to replace the barrel, getting maximal usage life out of a barrel is important. If you’re not running full-auto, a chrome-lined barrel is going to last, basically forever, and almost certainly outlast you. I’ve burned out one barrel, on a private owned gun, and it was one I bought used, with no idea of the original owner’s round count. We put well over 15K rounds through it, in addition to handing it to students to use during classes, when their guns went down for whatever reason, and a simple immediate action wouldn’t solve the problem.

Beyond that? Whatever your heart desires, within reason…

All of ours are 10.5” barrels. All but one have variable optics on them (two have 1-8x, one has 1-6x). My nine-year old daughter’s AR pistol has an EoTech on it, because it’s easier for her to grasp how to aim with it thus far, and she’s not really shooting much beyond 200 yards, so….Hers is also the only one without a white light mounted on it. Mine also has an IR laser. When I finally manage to afford NODs for my wife, hers will get one as well.


Hi I love the Patreon channel.  I was reading your article on “Drones”.  Great points on drones but I agree with you on your assertion you would get night vision first.  What is your opinion on affordable night vision?  Never had the opportunity to “appropriate”/ liberate some NV.  What is your opinion?

My PVS-14a were almost $5K, several years ago (like, the better part of a decade now…). They were also hand select, and have crystal clarity.

I’ve looked at a lot of NVG options since then, for an alternate/back-up pair/pair for the wife. I’ve looked at a pair of PVS-7s. -7s are really almost obsolete, CONUS, but….they’re far, far better than getting kicked in the dick, and with effort, you can find a good pair for around $1K. I’ve seen -14s for $1500, but every pair like that I’ve seen has had major blemishes, to the point of visual distraction.

So, my opinion is, cut out the Starbucks habit, drop Netflix, and set aside whatever you can afford each month, hidden from your spouse and yourself, until you can afford to buy a decent set of -14s….


I’ve noticed some ranch properties building family compounds in our area. You’ll see a small cleared patch of land with several homes, spaced about a 100 yards apart in a semi-circle. Near the center, a hay / farm building with a small corral adjacent to it. I’m sure it is parents with their children located nearby to save on cost of property purchasing and helping each other out. Each home has an outdoor sodium pole light mounted high, providing security – task lighting. Pretty neat set up, as long as everybody gets along with each other. A good way to keep an eye on Grandpa / Grandma without having to pay for a home or convenience apartment and everybody gets their privacy..

Thanks for the post – you are missed, but we know Life gets in the way, you keep putting the foot in front of the other.

I suspect you are going to see an increasing return to the village model, especially in rural settings. In urban settings, it can be tougher, because of cost. In suburban settings, it can be damned tough as well, but in rural settings, especially places with no or lax code enforcement, building good housing close together like that, with multiple households on the same “lot,” is absolutely doable. It’s a great idea. You get the benefits of cohousing, without the drawbacks of being underneath each other in your personal private spaces.

A Pattern Language discusses this in depth, with numerous entries on how to layout and develop this type of village arrangement.


Patreon articles today:

1st Tier, a look into a new book recommendation, with notes from Chapter One, on living and rebuilding after emergencies.

2nd Tier, a discussion of the use of range cards and sector sketches for a training aid. These get mentioned a lot in “tactical” prepper circles, but most people who mention them seem to understand neither the doctrinal applications of these tools, nor how they can be utilized, in our context, as a specific training aid for terrain appreciation.

Also, in the 2nd Tier, the Training Journals entries.


Doctor Bailey (if he sees this, he’ll know who he is). The email you have provided me is apparently not allowing me to return emails to you, from any source. You need to check your SPAM folders, and probably go ahead and email me with an alternate address. Sorry for the inconvenience, Doc.

From the Library

Today’s first book is one I read when it first came out. I saw it on my shelf the other day, and decided to re-read it. I’m glad I did, for several reasons, as we’ll see.

Today’s second book is a reader recommendation. I don’t know how I didn’t know about this book before he recommended it, but I appreciate the recommendation more than I can describe. It’s like carrying an 18C (Special Forces Engineer NCO) around in your pocket, in a lot of ways. When I texted photos of the table of contents, and some of the illustrations and diagrams, to a former 18C buddy, and told him it was 700 pages, he was stoked, and his comment was, “It looks really comprehensive!”

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard

Like many people, much smarter than me, I’ve discussed, numerous times, that the idea of a homogenous “WASP” “American” culture is a politically expedient imaginary thing. The United States specifically, and North America generally, was conquered and settled by a variety of cultural colonists, many of whom despised one another, for various legitimate and illegitimate reasons.

For a number of decades, starting in roughly 1900, and through the end of World War Two, a couple of those cultural groups had managed to amass enough power and influence to appear to be the cultural norm in the US, and thus became the default imperial culture. A large portion of what we’ve seen in recent decades as “Balkanization” has been exactly that: a fracturing of the imperial culture, back into the component cultures that have struggled with one another for the last 300+ years, to determine whose would be the dominant one, determining how we defined “American” culture.

Mr. Woodard is a contemporary journalist, and his political biases do come through in some places in this book. However—and this is an important however—he does a really good job of citing his sources, as one would expect, and his sources, thus far, support what he claims they support (which is not necessarily to be expected, in this day and age…).

This treatise goes a long way towards explaining a lot of the cultural phenomena we see occurring in America today, if you read it as more than “on the shitter” reading. From the increasing urge among Americans, among various social classes, for “nannyism,” to the ongoing spiritual battle between the Puritanical urge to inflict one’s moral constraints on others and the individualist urge to tell busy-bodies to “go fuck yourself,” and more. (Want to know why Boston and Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American Revolution, is okay with encompassing gun control? There’s a cultural reason for it, and Mr. Woodward explains it, even though I doubt that was what he was trying to do…)

Unlike Haskett’s Seeds of Albion (which I’ve discussed here before, and also heartily recommend), this doesn’t focus solely on the British cultural groups, but covers the impact of German immigration, French immigration, and the influence that slave and post-slavery cultural accomodations have had on American cultural norms. As such, no cultural group is covered as in-depth as they are in Seeds of Albion, but there’s a much broader coverage that occurs.

Highly Recommended.

Engineering in Emergencies: A Practical Guide for Relief Workers by Jan Davis and Robert Lambert

Before I say anything else, let me say this: Stop reading, go get on Amazon, and order a copy of this book. Right now. Do it. Seriously. New copies are expensive as fuck. Used copies are still kind of pricey. It’s worth every penny.

So, this book was first published in 1995, as a handbook/training tool for NGO Aid workers, in disaster struck areas. It is, as the title suggests, a hands-on working guide, for developing recovery plans, at the local village level, of what we would consider basic infrastructure: clean water, sewage disposal, electrification, etc. All the stuff covered by the SWEAT-MSS acronym (for the most part), of TACFAC development.

This book is 700+ pages, including the appendices. I can’t even describe all the stuff it covers, in detail: an overview of emergencies and different principles and standards of international humanitarian relief efforts (yawn), a chapter on “personal effectiveness,” discussing things like “what are you bringing to the table that will be helpful, personal planning, cultural awareness and how to deal with cross-cultural differences, personal security issues, including accepting that bad shit can happen, protecting yourself from that bad shit, and deterring threats, as well as development of SOP, and planning for contingencies, and more. It has a lengthy chapter on assessment and planning, effort management, including how to deal with local government forces and labor, including recruitment of locals and motivating them…a chapter on finance and budgeting (because, contrary to popular mythology, most funding and donations to NGO Aid organizations never actually makes it to the field, so the aid workers themselves are working with peanuts), and logistics. Telecommunications, environmental sanitation, emergency water supply, and permanent water source development, water storage, treatment and distribution, generators and other “off-grid” (no grid) electrical generation methods, including shit like “how the internal combustion engine works in a generator,” and “how to fix it.” A lengthy chapter on vehicle selection, management, and maintenance. Building and improving roads, bridges and fords, and airstrips, shelter and built infrastructure, and temporary settlements.

Seriously. Go get a copy of this book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

From the Library

Narratives of America by Allen Eckert

This is, of course, a series of books by the late author, focused on the opening of the early American West. Specifically, these books cover the advancement of Europeans into the areas of the Ohio River Valley, and what would become the Ohio Territory, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Billed by the author as “Narrative Nonfiction,” the cast of characters is filled solely with documented actual historical figures. The problem with that arises because the author filled the stories with conversations based on journal records, and put thoughts into the characers’ heads based on the same journal entries.

As a historian, I understand why this drove historians absolutely fucking bonkers, and why today, both professional historians and living historian reenactors alike begin frothing at the mouth at the mention of the author’s name. As a man who understands the importance of mythology to a culture, I could give two fucks if he “stretched the truth” a little bit, in the manner he did. How close are his recreated conversations to the actual conversations mentioned in original source journals and diaries? We can never know. Does that matter? If you’re trying to write a historical study, yes, absolutely. In that case, it needs to be very Joe Friday: “The facts, ma’am. Just the facts.”

If you’re trying to tell a true story to help people learn and appreciate their historical culture? It doesn’t hurt a damned thing.

I first read this series in grade school (Yes, I was—am—a nerd). I had heard of Daniel Boone, of course, but these books opened my eyes to the even more interesting people surrounding Boone’s life. People like Simon Kenton and Simon Girty, and Lewis Wetzel. I would read the stories, late at night, after I was supposed to be asleep in bed. Then, on the weekends, I’d grab my wooden “rifle,” or—more often, a simple fiberglass recurve bow and a handful of arrows, and a satchel with some snacks in it, and I’d leave at first light, once chores were done, and disappear for the day, not returning til well after nightfall (and supper), to get yelled at for worrying my mother. Then, I’d get up the next morning and repeat the process. By the time I started junior high, on longer breaks from school, including Christmas break, spring break, and summer vacation, I’d go to the woods for days at a time, staying alone, overnight, imaging myself as a ranger, searching out sign of impending attack by Seneca and Iroquois and Shawnee.

I’ve re-read the series several times as an adult. Even knowing some of the liberties Mr. Eckert took, I still love this series of books. It still drives me to take off for the woods for weeks at a time, living out of a pack, or off the land. The problem of course, is that the repercussions for getting caught, living off the land, nowadays, is a lot more detrimental than getting captured by the Shawnee. Simon Kenton had to run the gauntlet at Chillicothe, and get adopted by the tribe. If I got caught living off the land, running through the woods, shooting deer for meat when I needed it, I’d end up in prison. I’ll take running the gauntlet, any day.

For general preparedness, if you’re not the sort to think running off to the forest, and stalking hostile Indians and redcoats in small units, or even by yourself, sounds appealing, there’s a far more useful aspect of these stories. That is, what happened when the Indians, French, and later, the English attacked. Those who had established independent farms, separated from their neighbors, almost invariably fled to the nearest “station,” or fort, at the first word of Indian trouble. Those who didn’t, ended up dead or captive. Most people—especially in the early days—simply lived in the stations, and ventured out only to work in their nearby fields. Even then, a lot of times, the stations would be overrun by attacking hostiles and their European allies.

That’s really the biggest benefit for prepper types, in reading these books. If you’re theorizing about the risk of “bands” or “tribes” of Cannibalistic San Fransiscans roaming the countryside, looting, raping, and pillaging, you need to look at what worked for survival options in the past when similar occurrences were going on. Well, here’s your opportunity. I’ll let you in on a secret: it wasn’t being a “rugged individualist” that got you through. It was being part of a community—even if that community was spread out a bit.

One of the arguments I’ve heard against this view of course, is the presence of modern, magazine-fed, semi-auto weapons in the hands of defenders, versus the flintlocks that the settlers and frontiersmen had. Well, there’s two ways to approach that. First of all: they had commensurate arms with their opposition, just like you do. You may have AR15s and AK47s, but so do your “Indians.” Second: in a lot of cases, at the stations, they even had small cannons and mortars, and it still didn’t stop them from getting overrun.

Highly Recommended.