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Heya Peeps,

Night vision is normally considered something of a luxury item in prepping due to it’s prohibitive cost.  Having used first generation night vision in the field during my Army days I can understand the force multiplier it can be.  If you can see in the dark and your enemies cannot, you own the night.  Another issue with night vision is that it usually requires batteries, which may be hard to come by in a medium to long term disaster or WROL situation.

The Newcon Stargate night vision device does NOT use batteries to power the first generation light amplification.  It does have an illuminator that takes CR123 batteries but this can be observed both with the naked eye, and with other night vision devices if it is turned on.  To the naked eye it glows a dull red if you look directly into the light, but with night vision it’s like someone shining a flashlight around and a total position give away.  If you are tactical do not use the illuminator.  I consider it useful if you are in a blackout tent or dark place where the light cannot escape such as inside a building, but in those conditions a regular flashlight might be more comfortable to use.

The Stargate uses a piezoelectric element to generate a charge to power the amplifier.  You squeeze the handle on the device and it produces a small charge.  Given it does not require batteries and costs less than two hundred dollars, I consider it an essential prep.  I got mine for around one fifty shipped and have done a YouTube video which I will post with this blog post so you can see how it works.  Keep in mind the video is not as bright as looking through the device but you get the picture.

This is a basic solid device that is pretty bullet proof.  It’s metal, not plastic, and well built.  It has a small adjustment for focus on the lens on the front which is pretty easy to use and comes with a clip on illuminator, which I probably won’t use, and a cleaning cloth, as well as a padded soft sided case of good quality.

Bottom line, if you don’t have night vision or three thousand dollars to drop on the PVS-14, this is a very good solution that will increase your survive-ability by a large margin for not a lot of investment.

 

Link to product:

http://www.adorama.com/NESTARGATEM.html?gclid=CO65vIfKyLgCFVIQtAoddC4AZA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9LTVZ9Eqy8


 

I’d like to mention a category in prepping most of us have probably not given a lot of thought to. TEOTWAWKI Transportation. I like to keep things simple so I won’t get too heavily into vehicles on the upper end of things, most of us cannot afford a diesel monster of a hummer or other military style vehicle, especially with the mileage deficiencies of such vehicles. What we need is something that is sustainable. The most simple vehicle and one of the cheapest is a bicycle. Bikes can be had for less than $100.00 in most instances, and decent ones can be had for not much more. Bicycles can be operated in third world countries, and often are, without the luxury of roads or any fuel infrastructure. You provide the motive power, so as long as you are healthy and able bodied, you are mobile.

The only issue with a bicycle is it’s lack of load bearing capacity. With paniers you can increase it’s cargo capacity, but to really carry anything meaningful you need a trailer. Bicycle cargo carriers can be had for prices ranging from a hundred dollars to many hundreds. I actually wound up building my own, or , more correctly, adapting it from a stroller designed for runners. This means the wheels are 16” and it has a very low weight and rolling resistance. I further reduced the weight by removing one wheel and all the superstructure built to support it. I had to essentially “transformer” the stroller to achieve the desired result, but it was pretty much almost free and works admirably well. I removed rivets and replaced them with bolts, reassembling the pieces in an alternate configuration which gave me a trailer similar to but FAR cheaper than a commercially offered trailer costing $250.00. Enclosed in this article are pictures of the trailer I was able to adapt to my purposes. On it in one view is the bug out bag I have chosen, a large Alice pack in ACU and at this point in the testing the trailer and load are 40 pounds. I have no doubt it can carry far more, it’s just that’s how much my BOB weighs at the moment.

You may have to consider a time when fuel is no longer available, and going to the corner store, or market, or farm to buy one’s food will involve transporting items distances that cannot reasonably be traveled by foot. I have a cheap mongoose mountain bike bought at the local walmart for $130.00, so if TEOTWAWKI occurs in whatever form I will at least be somewhat mobile as necessary for short excursions with limited cargo. If I am forced to use the bike as my exodus vehicle to extricate myself from an untenable position, I can load it down heavy with paniers and other gear beyond which it could be ridden and push it. The upside of doing this is that while I cannot ride the bike to where I am going….when I get there I will have a vehicle. Pushing a load is far less strenuous than carrying it’s full weight and you can push fairly large loads long distances in a pinch. I have even seen backpacking trailers that have a single wheel and trail behind a hiker on foot that remove the weight of their pack from hikers, thus unburdening them to enjoy the walk. Make sure to stock up on stored spare tubes, and choose a durable bike such as a mountain bike rather than a speed or road bike, which may not stand up to the rigors of uncivilized use.

That’s a last ditch transportation solution, let’s talk about the next step up from that. If you have a vehicle that has no electronic ignition, such as an older beetle then you are pretty much EMP and infrastructure failure resistant as long as you have stored fuel and spare parts. Also diesels, particularly older diesels without the electronic ignition not only will withstand EMP effects, but can be fueled for longer on stored fuels. Diesel can last up to ten years with the addition of a stabilization agent, kerosene something on the order of seven years, and gasoline only one to three years. I am sure you don’t need a calculator to see that diesels may well be the wave of the future if our fuel infrastructure breaks down. In addition to longer storing fuel, diesels can be run on many other liquids than traditional fuels, so sustainability is better by far with them than gasoline engines which pretty much can only run on a very few fuels.

One exception that may make smaller gasoline engines desirable is the conversion to woodgas as illustrated on “The Colony” from last season. I had never heard of this, but it appears to work fairly well, and I doubt it’d work with a diesel, so a gasoline engine may have it’s place in the TEOTWAWKI universe. Steam engines would be my first choice but they are problematic and complicated. One advantage they have though is they can run on ANYTHING that can be made to burn.

 

Bike Trailer Upgrade

Well I upscaled my trailer and it’s finally usable, though not completely finished. I have a few tweaks to do to it but it’s been pulled and tracks nicely. I can turn it so tightly that one wheel on the trailer actually goes backward and it’s not so much of a load you won’t want to pull it. Here are some pictures of the trailer. This trailer uses the same attachment part from McMaster Carr for something like five dollars and can carry a MUCH heavier and bulkier load than my light trailer. Things to add are a stabilizing bolt to keep the conduit from turning in the u bolts and some grinding to take off rough edges and sharp corners. I also want to improve the tracking of the trailer wheels, as it is now they are not perfectly aligned and tire wear may result.

This trailer is based on a design from Tony’s trailers website and is built from a futon frame reconfigured. The front forks were used to attach wheels to the trailer and quick disconnect hubs so that when you get where you are going to camp you can remove the wheels and gear from the trailer and use it as a bed. Just toss a line over it and drape a nice tarp over that and you’re weather proof. Being up off the ground is a big deal in terms of keeping hypothermia at bay, as well as keeping creepie crawlies off you while you sleep.

Heya Peeps,

Just got in a new piece of equipment and I am very glad I waited till I found something suitable instead of settling for something else.  I looked at the .22LR conversion kits for the AR-15 but the accuracy was pretty poor with these.  This would make sense, since the .22 LR round is a different diameter, weight, and speed down the barrel.  Most dedicated AR style .22’s are expensive and so are the upper receiver kits, until now.  Chiappa has marketed their upper for around three hundred dollars, which is pretty reasonable.  I’ve seen them as low as two fifty or so online so shop around.  It comes with two 28 round mags, which is a nice add since most kits ship with only one.

I picked up the upper on Friday afternoon, slapped on the high mount rings and 4-16X42 scope and tightened it down and gave it a good workout at the range Saturday morning.  I have to say I am very pleased with the accuracy and reliability so far.  I wet down the working parts with Miltec 1, which is a dry lube I highly recommend, and checked the bore for obstructions and checked function.  That’s it.  No break in, nothing special.

Out of 450 rounds of federal 40 grain bulk pack ammo and some blazer I had only one malfunction.  I pulled the shell and found that it had not been struck properly by the firing pin.  I re inserted the shell and it fired the second time, case closed.  I shot all of that ammo without cleaning and while the weapon was fouled when I finished the session, it was flawlessly cycling right up to the end.

Accuracy was pretty impressive to me.  Keep in mind I shoot at shotgun shells with my bolt action .22 and rarely miss at 100 yards, so I am not easily impressed.  I was doing the same with this rifle by the end of the session.  In a semi-automatic rifle this is pretty respectable accuracy.  It’s not quite as tight as the single shot, but the squirrel who’s head you just popped off at 100 yards won’t know the difference.

One of the nice things about this setup is I get to use my Delton lower with the trigger pull I’m used to and handling characteristics of the AR, down to mag changes and sighting.  I also get a useful .22 long rifle platform for taking small game and other tasks I don’t want to waste a .223 or 5.56 on.  This upper allows me to carry my duty defense weapon in .223 and pack away the upper giving me two guns for the weight and bulk of only one and a half.

I consider the .22 long rifle to be one of the most useful cartridges ever invented, and wouldn’t be without a good survival .22 in a pinch.  Ammo is cheap, plentiful, adequate for it’s intended purpose, not to mention being useful as a barter item.  I have a ton of it and add to my stash whenever I get a chance.  I highly recommend the federal bulk pack ammo, not that it shoots any differently than the other stuff….but it shoots cleaner so you don’t foul your gun so fast and have to clean it as often.    I hate having to clean my guns in the middle of a shooting session.

One other reason I bought this upper is so that I can teach people to shoot with the .22 and then move them up to the .223 or 5.56 with little transition.  All of the controls are the same and the rifle doesn’t look any different, which may take some of the intimidation out of the higher caliber for them.

 

Keep on Preppin’

GIJeff

 

 

Update:  Since writing this post I have fired approaching 700 rounds total with this upper, with only the single aforementioned failure to fire malfunction.  Accuracy is exceptional, I have put rounds touching at one hundred yards from a bench with regularity.  I am not sure if the reliability of this setup is owning to my use of MiliTec 1, the use of the cleaner shooting federal 550 bulk pack ammo, or simply good design of the operating system, but I can say it is a winning combination.  I have never seen such reliability from a semi automatic .22 rifle.  This coupled with sub MOA groups makes this combination something I endorse wholeheartedly.

Heya Peeps,

Anyone that has read my blogs to date knows I tend to use equipment that has multiple uses and carry only what is necessary. Some items are specialized and still worth the weight and bulk in your pack due to the efficiency and the 10″ Corona folding saw is one of these items. Sure, you can cut trees and branches with the Cold Steel Katana Style Machete, but when it comes to efficiency nothing beats a saw.

Hatchets and camp axes or any other type of tool will not hold a candle to this saw, and no other saw does what it does as well either. The secret of it’s efficiency is that it is curved and the handle design allows you to simply pull on the handle to use it. The curve imparts downward force to the blade and draws it down into the work. When gripped properly like a pistol and pulled through the work, NOT pushed ever, the saw can go through limbs as thick as a man’s leg in short order. Hard wood, soft wood, construction materials such as drywall, it eats through it like buttah.

You could easily build a log cabin with the 10″ saw in a pinch, but most of us won’t be needing quite that permanent a structure when surviving in the wild. A smaller version of this saw exists and could be nearly as good, but for the extra bulk and negligible extra weight I decided to have the most efficient tool possible.

Here is a review of several saws on youtube with the Corona being one (and the best of the lot)

 

This item can be purchased here:

Corona Clipper 10 inch folding Saw

Heya Preppers,

I recently bought a machete for it’s obvious utility in clearing a path through thick vegetation but I also wanted some more versatility. I looked at the Cold Steel Katana Style Machete video on their website and saw a guy cutting whole pigs in half with one. That did it, I ordered it that day.

I own swords, and I won’t get into the desirability of this or that type of sword, but I will say this….get a cutter. A stainless steel sword is a decoration, DO NOT EVER SWING IT! It can and eventually WILL crack, break, or even shatter turning itself into a grenade of sharp objects that travel in unpredictable directions. Cheap swords can be had that ARE cutters, and are safe to actually CUT things with, but one must look hard and be sure of the type of metal used and it’s proper heat treatment. 5160 is used in many cheaper swords and will serve, tool steel is pretty good too. Any differentially heat treated sword such as a traditionally built katana is usually prohibitively expensive. Go to swordbuyersguide.com to get information on which swords are servicable, this is the best source of information and reviews on commercially available swords in existance today.

I have three swords as of now, a cris cutlery ninja-to sword: $130.00, a musashi low end cutter: $69.00, since discontinued, and now the Cold Steel Katana style Machete $24.00. This Machete is fitted with a very long two handed grip, and is totally utilitarian, nothing fancy, all business. It does cut admirably well, will chop down trees in a pinch, and can easily be used defensively in situations where gunfire may not be an ideal solution. You may not want to waste ammo on a guy with a pocketknife, or you may not want to alert his companions to his timely demise, there are many reasons to use weapons other than firearms and it behooves us to have them on hand.

I bought the sheath for the machete with it and it’s fairly nice and while the machete is very spartan, it works very well. One reason to buy such a weapon is you’re not swinging a three hundred dollar sword around for practice. Proper technique is required to make a good cut with a cutting or slicing sword. Draw cutting cuts through things, push cutting, such as swinging the sword like a bat will make a shallow cut and not penetrate through even limbs, let alone a torso.

In order to practice proper technique I have devised a stand that holds pool noodles, which I buy at a dollar store for….a dollar each. These are perfect practice targets, as they will not slice through on a push cut, but will cut through “like buttah” if proper technique and blade angle are observed. Positive feedback, cheap and safe to use. I had no trouble cutting the pool noodles as easily as I do with my katana using the Cold Steel blade, which says something.

It is a shorter blade so in order to cut properly you must be very close to your target, inside their guard if they were to box you, but the weapon does lend itself to claymore style techniques due to it’s long handle and short light blade, so you can fend someone off easily with a faster stabbing blade with relative ease. I think for the money and versatility you get from this blade it’s a perfect addition to a bug out bag or one’s preps, otherwise I’d not have ordered one. That said after receiving it and using it, I have found nothing that disabuses me of that notion, and much that reinforces it.

Keep on Preppin’
GIJeff

Cold Steel Two Handed Katana with Machete Black Blade

Cold Steel Two Handed Katana Machete Sheath Cover

Heya Peeps,

Well budgetary constraints are preventing me from doing too many reviews of late. On the other hand, some things I just HAD TO HAVE and bought as soon as budget allowed. One such item is the BK-2 Campanion knife. This is a full tang camping knife or survival knife with a 1/4 inch thick blade. First thing you can say about this knife is that, and I quote an unknown reviewer “it’s the perfect knife to have along if you ever have to field dress a BUICK” Dave Canterbury, of Dual Survival fame calls it the “Becker train wrecker”. All I can say is that you won’t have to worry about breaking this knife, it’s built like a main battle tank.

The design of this knife is a drop point, which makes it less desirable for stabbing than some other designs such as spear point, but it’s still serviceable in this role. The grind is about 3/4 and that way for a reason. The knife is designed for chopping, batoning, and other camping chores, as well as food prep. For those of you not familiar with batoning, it’s the use of a knife as a sort of log splitter, in order to do so you lay the blade across the top of a vertical log, using another log to impact the blade through the log being split. Not every knife is built to take such abuse, and this one is probably OVERBUILT to take such abuse.
The knife weighs over a pound by a smidge, and is balanced around the index finger, which makes the 5.25″ blade surprisingly agile in the hand, and if you choke up a bit you get even more control. Choking DOWN on the blade and using a lanyard around your pinky to prevent the blade slipping out of your hand allows you to chop with it as one would with a camp hatchet, and it’s weight makes it as good a tool as the aforementioned hatchet. The only better tool I can think of that is as compact is a folding saw. I will be purchasing a corona 10″ saw later for review and testing.

When considering the contents of one’s BOB or GHB or even camping gear, having tools that serve more than one purpose is paramount. I love that this thing can chop onions and three inch diameter logs equally well. As a fighting knife it’s not optimal but is VERY efficient as a slashing weapon, I’ve been able to part pool noodles with it, although infrequently, and when I don’t completely slice through it I at least get 3/4 of the way through, which is fairly impressive for a 5.25 inch blade. I use the same pool noodles as targets for my swords and in my review of the Cold Steel Katana Style Machete and they are not terribly easy to cut through with a full blown sword unless proper technique is used.

I purchased my BK-2 on Amazon.com for fifty eight dollars and change, opting for the free super saver shipping. That’s a steal on an absolutely indestructible knife (within reason) that does so many things so well. The BK-2 as all BK or Becker knives has an ergonamic grip that fits the hand of most anyone well with no sharp edges or any other uncomfortable characteristics. The new kydex sheath is a one way reversible sheath that holds the knife only one way, which makes it more positively secure than the older two way sheath, while still retaining the ability to be worn left handed by removing four screws to reverse the belt loop attachment. I added some paracord through the many slots and holes around the sheath to wear it “scout style” for a day or two and then attached it to my pack strap. The “scout style” carry is very practical, keeping the knife from bouncing around, getting in the way, or catching on things even when climbing in and out of vehicles.

I did make one slight modification beyond the attachment of a lanyard I braided myself out of paracord. I took the scales (handle halves) off the knife and took some very coarse sandpaper to them to put ridges going along the handles where your fingers go and in the same direction. This adds to the grip of the knife considerably, as the original plastic or grivory grips are fairly textureless. They do sell micarta grips for this knife, but they are rather expensive, nearly the price of the knife, and I like to adapt where possible. I made the same modification to my Katana Style Machete from Cold Steel and it’s very effective, and cost me nothing but a little time to implement.

If you don’t have a good full tang knife in your kit, you really should and you could do a LOT worse than to choose this knife to rely on. The only knife of a comparable size that chops better than this one is a Tom Browne Tracker, which costs almost three hundred dollars. For those considering the “one tool” approach this is the perfect one. You won’t break this thing, and it can do most any task you might set for it.

Keep on Preppin’
GIJeff

 Becker BK-2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

GIJeff here with a piece of equipment you may not have considered for your emergency preparations.

Information is one commodity that will be very important in any emergency, particularly survival and emergency procedures.  Books are great as far as that goes, but if you have to bug out you cannot bring an entire bookshelf with you.  In looking for a solution I had certain criteria in mind, the most important being a low power consumption.  Other criteria were ease of use, storage capacity, and price.  I looked into the ebook readers available on the market today and settled on the Nook Simple Touch for several reasons, not least of which being a three month potential battery life.  Another consideration was the nook’s android operating system, which lends itself to rooting and application installation making  the Nook Simple Touch far more versatile than any other e-ink based reader on the market today.

Rooting with touchnooter allows you to install the kindle app on your Nook.  This means I can use nearly any kind of e-book format file, given I can install a pdf reader like EZPdf (cheap pay app), along with other android apps like Cool Reader (free app).  It is even possible to install and run angry birds, but given the refresh rate of e-ink it is just a bragging rights sort of thing, you can’t actually PLAY it on the Nook very well.  I also installed Opera mini, which is far better a browser than the stock undocumented browser (accessed by typing a URL into the search field), Advanced Task Killer, for killing tasks android autostarts, and Astro file manager, all free apps.  You have to install a search market app to get the market search to work so you can find new apps to install, but the procedure is pretty straightforward and easy, also well documented on the youtube guide page, along with links to the files needed.

Link to the guide for rooting the Nook Simple Touch the EASY way.

http://www.the-ebook-reader.com/nook-touch-root.html

 

On my Nook I have many PDF documents pertaining to survival, a few wild edible guides, books by notable survival authors such as Cody Lundin’s 98.6 , James Wesley Rawles’ Patriots,  Survivors and How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living, and Matthew Stein’s When Technology Fails.  I can put this Nook into my cargo pocket and have a veritable library of good information to reference if something occurs.  Furthermore, the low power consumption of this device makes it reasonable to charge it using a solar charger I have for that purpose.  In addition to survival and emergency preparedness guides, I also have a great deal of reading material for all the spare time one is likely to encounter in an emergency with no access to electricity, the internet, or cable television.

In the interim, I use the device as intended to read books so it’s not a one application device.  I tend, like Dave Canterbury, to carry only items that have multiple uses.  One device or tool that does many things is far better than three devices that all do one thing each.  I do understand that in an emergency I will likely not have wifi, internet, or household electricity, and the uses I can put my Nook to under those conditions will be far more limited than they are as of now, but given the choice of huffing around thirty pounds of books or tossing the Nook into my cargo pocket and having access to all that same information, well it’s a no brainer.

The reason I didn’t go with a tablet is because the power consumption of back-lit color screens like the Kindle Fire or Nook Color is so high you’d likely not be able to keep it charged using alternative power sources.  These devices are great for the current situation, but if power is difficult to come by your ability to use them may be seriously curtailed.  E-ink may be less glamorous, but it’s certainly easy on batteries, thus making it a more secure choice if you want to be able to use your device in an emergency.

Barnes & Noble NOOK Touch eBook Reader (NEWEST model, WIFI Only)

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