In my opinion, these are the best of the best of survival and preparedness articles gleaned from the 'net.

Please visit the originating sites to see more like them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Basic Firearms Part 2: Ammunition

Hooray! More firearm fun today! In case you missed part 1, go read here. Today we'll be covering the basics of ammunition, so we'll discuss three types of ammunition (pictured left to right): Handgun, Rifle, and Shotgun.Handgun and Rifle ammunition are built very similarly. They have a brass case that holds a charge of powder in it, a primer at the bottom, and a bullet at the top. The full bullet/powder/case/primer setup is called a cartridge or sometimes a round (as in "a round of ammunition"). They're also frequently called bullets, although technically the bullet is only one part of the full cartridge.The primer is the part that sparks and burns the powder when it is hit by the firing pin on the gun. If the primer is in the center of the bottom of the case, it is a CENTERFIRE cartridge. The following picture is of a Centerfire Rifle cartridge. See the round section in the middle--like the center of a bullseye? That's the primer. When this rifle fires this round of ammunition, the firing pin will strike the center circle and it will ignite the powder inside the case. The powder burns, creating expanding gas which pushes the bullet out the top of the case and down the barrel of the gun. (This all happens very quickly--faster than you can say Bang!)Mostly larger cartridges are centerfire. The smallest cartridges are what's called RIMFIRE. .17's and .22's are in this group. They do not have their primer in the center, but have it in a ring around the base of the cartridge (on the rim of the base=rimfire). The following picture is of the bottom of a .22 rimfire cartridge. In order to fire this round, the gun's firing pin will hit the edge of the base to ignite the powder.The next picture is complements of and shows various rifle cartridges (from left to right: 17 HM2, .17 HMR, .22LR, .22 WMR, .17/23 SMc, 5mm/35 SMc, .22 Hornet, .223 Remington, .223 WSSM, .243 Winchester, .243 Winchester Improved (Ackley), .25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, .308, .30-06, .45-70, .50-90 Sharps):A handgun is a gun that can be held and fired with one hand (not that that is the best or most accurate way to hold or fire them, but just that they can be). It generally does not have a stock and the barrel is shorter than a rifle or shotgun. Other words that refer to handguns are pistol and revolver (although a revolver is only one type of handgun).
Following is a picture of various common handgun cartridges from (left to right: 3-inch 12-gauge magnum shotgun shell (for comparison), size “AA” battery (for comparison), .454 Casull, .45 Winchester Magnum, .44 Remington Magnum, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .45 ACP, .38 Super, 9 mm Luger, .32 ACP, .22 LR):Did you notice the .22 LR (Long Rifle) round is in both pictures? Some bullet calibers can be fired from both handguns and rifles, and the .22 is one of the most common.

So what is CALIBER and what does it mean to me? All those numbers in the bullet names refer to the caliber of the bullet. Caliber is a measure of the diameter of the bullet and is measured in inches or millimeters. So a .22 cartridge is less than 1/4 inch in diameter and a 9mm cartridge is 9mm in diameter.

Every gun's barrel has a certain inside diameter (called the bore size) that will only fit ammunition made that same size. Every gun is made to fire a specific caliber of bullet. This is also called "chambering" so if you hear someone's gun is "chambered" in 270, you'll know that's just the size of bore it has and is the size of ammunition it takes. If you try to load and fire a bullet that is larger than your gun's bore, you can have a nasty explosion on your hands. So ONLY use the ammunition specifically made for your gun.

How can you tell what ammunition you have? USUALLY it is stamped on the base of the cartridge. This picture is of two different makers' .380 Auto round. They have the name of the manufacturer and the caliber stamped on them.The rimfire cartridge I showed did NOT have .22 LR stamped on it, only F for Federal--the manufacturer, so I guess you can't always tell your caliber by looking at the bottom, but this is the exception. Your firearm should also have the caliber stamped somewhere on or near the barrel like this: Look for it--make sure it matches the ammunition before using it!
Now we've talked about the different kinds of primers and calibers of bullets, let's look at a couple of common kinds of bullets. Bullets are usually made of lead and covered with copper or some other metal. If they are fully covered, like the one on the right, it is called "Full Metal Jacket" or FMJ. If they have the tip hollowed out like the one on the left, they are called Hollowpoints, Jacketed Hollow Points, or JHP. FMJ rounds shoot similarly to JHP rounds until they hit the target. Hollowpoint rounds are made to expand when they hit the target so they cause more damage and do not shoot through the target as often. These are the rounds you want for self protection and hunting. FMJ rounds are less expensive and are great for target shooting for fun.

Any questions yet?
Finally, we'll cover Shotgun Ammunition, also called shotgun shells. Shotgun bores and shells are measured in gauge, where the number refers to how many lead balls that diameter would be needed to make a pound. So a 12 ga. is larger than a 20 ga. since if you had a pile of 12 balls that weighed a pound and a pile of 20 balls that also weighed a pound the balls in the 12 ball pile would be larger than those in the 20 ball pile. Make sense yet? Smaller gauge number, larger diameter.
Shotgun shells are built similar to the handgun/rifle cartridges except for a few differences. They have a primer and case, but a shotgun case is plastic. The powder is the same, but the shotgun shell has a "wad"--another piece of plastic to separate the powder from the shot. The shot is a bunch of little balls usually of steel or lead and can be purchased in various sizes. Some shotgun shells are loaded with a bullet called a slug instead of shot. Then the plastic is folded over and sealed at the top to hold it all in.

Now here's your new assignment. Find out what ammuntion you have at your house. See what you can identify . . . :)


Livestock for Survival, by Bobbi A.

With a cynical eye on the rapid downward spiral of events, it seems prudent to plan for a very long time of sustainable living. In this case survival depends not only on your stockpiled preps, but also in your ability to sustain food production past the end of your stored supply.

Let’s assume, to begin with, that you have reasonably stocked retreat. I’m not talking a stock to the level described in “Patriots”, but rather one that includes a year (or more) of food, basic ammo, firearms, reliable water, heat and power source … the basics.

Now it’s time to look past the first year or so and decide how you will continue to produce food and supplies for your family. Hunting is often an option, but it can’t be considered a long-term complete food source, as it is not nutritionally complete.

Much has been said about keeping heirloom (open pollinated) seeds, and this cannot be stressed enough. But you have to plant and harvest a crop each year to continue to re-supply your seeds. Most retreats seem to be in colder climates as they tend to have a lighter year-round population load. If you’re up in the mountains, altitude will play a significant factor in what you can hope to grow. Staples such as corn require heat days in order to properly pollinate and “set”. You generally want to lay in a supply of varieties that have the shortest maturity date. That means from the time you plant that seed to the time you harvest the crop is the shortest possible number of days.

Using “short season” varieties gives you two advantages. First, if you have a crop failure for some reason, you can often have time to replant. Secondly, if you’ve harvested your first crop, you have time to put another crop in the same space.

As summer approaches, consider a great time to practice crop production, if you haven’t already. It is not as simple a poking a seed into some dirt. Get a couple of good gardening books, or better yet, books on basic farming. Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living and the Reader's Digest Back to Basics are both excellent reference books that cover everything from farming to livestock to making basic necessities.

Having a huge variety of seeds is not as important as having plenty to the right seeds for your needs. If you just can’t live without brussel sprouts, by all means, lay in some seeds. But stick mostly to the basics: wheat, corn, squash/pumpkin, beans, peas, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, peppers, and your basic herbs. If you haven’t planted fruit trees, now is the time to get started on that. It takes several years for trees to be come productive. Also give consideration to other perennials such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and grapes. Again, it take a few years for these (except for strawberries) to get into full production.

Besides your garden, fields and orchards, you’ll need to take a serious look at what sort of livestock will fit in to your situation. Eventually, you will probably need some sort of animal power for transportation and heavy work.

The most efficient feed-to-food converter is a chicken. One hen will lay approximately one egg every other day. Peak production (during the summer) generally is an egg a day. Winter drops to an egg every third day or so without significant extra light in the chicken coop. You can expect to raise two or three sets of chicks each summer. Hens will get “broody” and sit on eggs to hatch them once the weather is warm. In order for the eggs to be fertile, you of course must have a rooster. The best ratio is one rooster to every ten hens. A family of four would do well with 25 laying hens and three roosters. The extra eggs produced during the warm months can be frozen or used for feed for other animals. You can even feed the [well-pulverized and unrecognizable] eggshells back to your chickens to give them adequate calcium. During the spring, summer and early fall, you don’t even have to provide chickens with any feed. They are excellent consumers of all sorts of insects and bugs. “Free range” chickens pretty much feed themselves during the warm months. If predators are an issue though, you’ll want to keep them in a moveable cage (called a “chicken tractor”) so they don’t become a snack for some varmint. Raccoons are especially fond of chickens, as are weasels.

If you know that the stuff is hitting the fan, try to order 50 chicks or so [and buy a 50 pound sack of chick starter feed at your local feed store]. Chicks arrive in the mail. Ideal Poultry and Murray McMurray are two excellent sources. If you order “straight run” chicks, you’ll get a mix (about 50/50) of hens to roosters. The best all-round chicken in my opinion is the Astralorp. They start to lay early (at about five months of age) and consistently, they are good mothers and are big enough to still be a reasonable source of meat. The roosters tend to stay calm and usually are not aggressive. Chicks will cost you around $1.50 each. The price varies with the breed, the supplier and the time of year. Ideal tends to have good sales, which you can keep up with by signing up for email alerts.

Another excellent feed-to-food converter is the basic goat. I’ll say right off that they are tough to keep fenced in. Goats are terrifically intelligent and are phenomenal escape artists. If you keep goats, make absolutely certain that your gardens, crop grounds and trees are well fenced off and well protected. Goats can decimate fruit trees in minutes. Goats produce milk, meat and leather. A doe can kid as early as eight months old, but it’s best to wait until they are yearlings. Goats’ gestation is about five months and they tend to only breed in months that have “R” in the name (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr). There are some aseasonal breeders, but don’t count on it. If your does are bred in early September, you might be about to get them bred back again in April, two months after kidding. Goats usually have twins and triplets. Bucks can be smelly and can be aggressive during rut.

The breed of goat really is an individual preference. Goat enthusiasts will extol the virtues of their particular breed, but mostly it comes down to basics: good dairy does will give about a gallon of milk a day. Goat milk, properly processed, is indistinguishable from fresh cow’s milk. If you have never consumed fresh milk, you ought to give it a try. It is completely different from what you purchase in the store. It makes store-bought taste like water. Goat milk is white, it does not separate as easily as cow’s milk (it takes longer to skim enough cream for butter), and it is often well-tolerated by people with lactose issues. During grazing months, a goat will produce milk just with pasture (grasses, clovers, and browse). A small amount of grain is nice at milking time so the does will be excited to come in to the milking area. It beats chasing them all over Creation. IN the winter, they will require hay and a little grain if you intend to keep milking. Some people “dry off” their does in the winter in preparation for kidding. You have to allow about two months of no milking before the doe kids so that her body has time to produce the colostrum the kids need in order to survive.

Goats are capable of pulling small, fairly light carts and helping with basic garden work (muzzled, of course). They can work individually or as a team of no more than two. They are also good packers capable of carrying about 30 pounds (for a full grown adult goat). For a family of four, two or three does and one buck is plenty. And yes, you can keep doe kids and still breed them back to their sire (or their brothers). Line breeding is not recommended over the long-haul, but it’s perfectly fine until things stabilize and you can trade genetics with a neighbor.

Sheep are extremely important, in my opinion, but are rarely discussed. They don’t have a terrific feed-to-food ratio, as they require a bit more protein. But for what they give you in return, they are an excellent survival animal. Besides meat and terrific hides, sheep produce wool. Wool is one of the very best natural fibers. It is somewhat flame retardant, retains its warmth even soaking wet, and is incredibly versatile. It can be spun into yarn, felted, woven, and even worked with “raw”. Lanolin is the “grease” on the wool. Once cleaned, it is an excellent, lasting softener for badly chapped/burned skin.
Sheep are not very smart, and so they really require looking after. If you have a predation problem, you’ll want to keep sheep close-in, or have some sort of guardian (human or animal) with them at all times. Sheep are similar to goats in breeding and birthing habits. In fact, you can keep sheep and goats together without any problems. They do not interbreed (although you may see the males trying it anyway).
Merino sheep are the best for fine wool production: the kind of wool you can wear next to your skin and not feel “itchy”. They are hard to find in the United States. Virtually any sheep, except “hair sheep”, will work for survival purposes. Larger breeds such as Columbia, Suffolk, and Corriedale will have more coarse wool, but they will produce bigger (meatier) lambs on less feed.

Like goats, you’d want two or three ewes and one ram. Rams can be dangerous. Repeat: rams can be dangerous. There is a product available called a “ram shield”. It is a leather piece that fit over the ram’s face so that he can’t see straight ahead to charge. However, his vision is fine for eating and wooing the ewes. (By the way, it works on goat bucks, too). After one Suffolk ram kept charging me, it is standard on our rams except for the Merinos. I’ve never had an aggressive Merino ram. Not to say it couldn’t happen; it just hasn’t happened yet. Merinos are smaller and when the rams fight during rut, the Merinos can take quite a beating. With the other rams wearing shields, it helps keep the Merinos from getting clobbered. It’s best to have a separate ram area away from the ewes once the girls are bred. It’s just safer for the shepherd/ess during feeding and lambing time.

Hogs are not for everyone, but they are one of my favorites. They produce a lot of meat, they are smart and easy to manage if you treat them decently, and they can grow fat on table scraps, roots, and forage. One sow can produce 20 or more piglets in a year. That a lot of meat and useful fat (soap-making). My experience is that colored pigs do better on pasture and forage than white pigs. I have no idea why this is true, but it seems to be. I don’t think the breed makes much difference, as long as the pigs aren’t white. Contrary to the stories, pigs do not like to be dirty. However, they cannot sweat to lower their body heat, and they must be provided with a place to cool off. A shallow concrete “pool”, access to a creek or pond, or even occasional hosing off will work. If pigs cannot get cooled off any other way, then they will wallow in a mud source.

Pigs “root” (dig) almost from the minute they are born. This is a terrific help in the fall when you want to get your garden turned over. They are omnivores and will graze, browse, and yet still consume table scraps and meat. Pigs are a good way to dispose of any accidental animal carcasses that you can’t eat yourself. Pigs are extremely smart (some say smarter than dogs). Boars can be dangerous, just like any other male, especially when he’s chasing a female. If you see the boar slobbering (white foam), stay out of the pen. He’s wooing a lady. We tame our pigs by hand-feeding eggs to them. After a few days, the pigs will come when you call. I have never even been charged by a pig, and I feel comfortable around ours. However, I never forget that they have razor-sharp teeth and that they weigh about 600 pounds when full grown! I never let the kids go into the hog pens unless I am standing right there. We’ve never had a problem, but I don’t believe in being foolish either.

Sows’ gestation is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Sows will have between 8 and 15 piglets per litter. Many times, sows will have fewer “faucets” than piglets and you’ll have to make sure every gets their fair share of food in the beginning. Within a week, the piglets will be running everywhere and helping themselves to whatever Mom is eating. Piglets can be weaned at one month, but we generally leave them on until the sow weans them herself. The nutrition they receive from the sow doesn’t cost me anything and it helps the piglets get an excellent start.
Pigs can be butchered at about 160 pounds, which will give you about 80 pounds of meat and 20 pounds of lard. Pigs raised on pasture have much less lard and more lean meat. A little corn each day will help them gain weight faster, but much of that weight gain is fat and is probably a waste of valuable resources.
One sow and one boar will keep your family fed and provide lots of meat for trade.

As for larger stock, cattle and horses are generally what most people think of. They have great benefits but also great draw-backs.
Cattle produce milk, meat and hides. They also have a poor feed-to-food ratio compared to smaller stock. However, cattle can provide muscle as oxen for pulling, farming, and carting things around. Oxen can be male or female, so even your milk cow can be your ox in a pinch. Cows eat a lot. Figure on a milk cow eating 30 to 50 pounds of hay a day in the winter time. That’s a lot of hay if you’re putting it up by hand. Bulls are dangerous, but necessary to keep your cow bred (unless you can trade for the service a neighbor's bull). It takes about a year or so to get a calf to butcher size, which means you’re going to be feeding that calf over the winter (more hay). However, your cow will produce five to eight gallons of milk a day (on average). That’s a lot of milk for your household, for trade, or for feeding chickens and hogs. Cow milk separates easily.

A cow’s gestation is about nine months and they will breed any month of the year. You can continue to milk the cow up until about two months before she calves. Cows usually have just one calf. Dairy cows produce far more milk than beef cows, but they have less meat. A good solution is to have a dairy cow and a beef bull. The resulting calf will have more meat at butcher time. However, if you’re trying to raise a replacement milk cow, this won’t work in the long run.

There are many breeds of dairy cows. Dexters are excellent dual purpose (milk/meat) for a small group. They are little cows, about the size of a pony. They consume half the feed of a full size cow, produce two to three gallons of milk daily and have a beefier carcass. They dress out at about 65%. The down side is that they are still relatively expensive ($1000 for a cow/$800 for a bull). If you look carefully, especially in this down economy, you can probably find them quite a bit cheaper. Dexters are docile and make excellent oxen.

Jerseys are another “homestead” favorite due to their smaller size and high percentage of butterfat in the milk. Jerseys are 800-1,000 pounds full grown and produce 5-to-8 gallons of milk daily. The milk is rich in butterfat and slightly sweet. I think it’s the best milk. We have a Jersey cross milk cow for our family’s use.

Horses are a huge help, but not necessary to survival. They consume a lot of feed without producing any food in return. Most of the work horses do can also be done by oxen. However, I’d rather ride a horse than an ox any day. If you have plenty of pasture, plenty of feed and plenty of shelter during storms, then by all means keep a couple of horses. Again, a mare or two and a stallion keeps things sustainable.

It’s unlikely that most people would be able to keep each of these animals, or even that they would want to. The idea is to carefully consider what you need to supply for your family over a period of years. What livestock can you add to your retreat planning to help insure a sustainable food supply? Other possibilities include rabbits (meat/hides), geese (down/eggs), ducks (higher protein eggs) or domestic turkeys. Both of the books mentioned above for farming practices have a wealth of information for small-scale livestock production.

The other thing to consider is mobility. If you’re already living at your retreat, adding large stock is relatively simple. If you’re going to have to bug out, you’ll have to consider what you can take. I know that I can put three goats, three sheep, six piglets, and 30 chickens in and on the back of my Suburban. I know because I tried it. It took me 30 minutes to get all of them safely loaded and/or crated. [JWR Adds: My #1 Son mentioned that you should have videotaped this exercise--it would be very popular on YouTube!] I’d have to leave my cattle and horses if I had to bug out, but I could take enough livestock to keep us going for the foreseeable future.

So give consideration to what you will do when your stash runs out. How will you feed your family, your neighbors, your group if hunting is difficult or impossible? What can you do that is sustainable and practical? Think about what works for you in your situation. It’s easy to butcher poultry. It’s a bit more complicated for sheep or goats, and it takes some serious planning for a 600 pound pig!
Think ahead and be prepared.


Small compact survival kit

by Eric
(United States)

My advice on a survival kit are that you need a small compact one to keep (like your kit compacted into an Altoids tin) and a big one put in a safe place.

For the Altoids kit I recommend having:
- Matches(Waterproof is preferred) bound together by rubberband
- The striker from the side of the matches box
- Razor Blade
- Band-Aids
- Small Aspirin
- Ziploc Bag
- Fishing Hook
- Small Amount of Fishing line
- and small but GOOD pocketknife

For the big one I recommend having all of the above plus:
- Small bar of soap
- Nail Clippers
- Latex Gloves
- Paper
- Sharpie (Permanent Marker)
- Teeth Floss
- Q-tips
- (If you wear glasses or contact lenses than an extra pair of glasses or more contacts and solution)
- Eye Drops
- Rubber bands
- A few nails
- and a small multi-purpose knife.


Hunting sling

by Anthony Frailey
(Bentonville, AR, USA)

A way to hunt, simple but effective

A way to hunt, simple but effective

I know this isn't exactly related to edible food itself, but is a way to attain much needed food if you are stuck in the wilds. It was stated before that hunting food would be time consuming, and wasting energy. I'm gambling that if you as a person alone or stranded in the wilds grab a long stick, and make a spear to hunt/fish with, this is so. The problem is that you have limited range, and must actively seek prey in some manner( this is based off the assumption that no gun, or bow of any sort is available.)

My suggestion, is to construct and use a sling.

Slings are one of the oldest tools used for hunting and protection. They are very simple to make (a few feet of string and something such as leather, or cloth is all you need.) Details on how to make one can be found all over the internet.

I've used string, rope, leather (from the tongue of an old shoe), leather from a cast off "broken" sling shot, cloth... you name it. I imagine that even vine could be used if it was supple and strong enough.

In most wilderness places, small game is abundant, but it's fast, and often flies away... much to fast to run down. Traps are not opportunist, meaning they just sit there until the right conditions (or skill of the trapper) trigger a hit or miss. A sling however is light and portable. Rocks, stones, clay balls hardened , even lead sinkers (though I don't recommend using lead anything.), can be found almost anywhere and every where.

A good rule of thumb is to try to find roundish smooth stones, golf ball size or bigger. Smaller is fine, especially if the "pocket" of your sling is small... it just means it takes more practice to get accurate. With just a bit of practice ( most average people can master their sling accuracy, and use in an hour.), you just became a surviving opportunist.

The technique varies by individual... what you feel most comfortable with. Overhand, underhand, side-sweep... the action is often compared to "throwing a ball" on release. Mostly, you just turn your body 30-90 degrees away from your target, whip the loaded sling around (more than three revolutions you are wasting energy ), let the tag end of your sling go, while turning toward your target. (Always keep your eye on the target, not the sling. I find it helps to point my index finger at the target after the "release"... it seems to help the accuracy, I just don't know why it does. )

Too often survivors in the wild happen upon birds on branches close, but just enough out of reach to take effectively. Squirrels, and rabbits also can be spotted close by. Rats and snakes , and even turtles make great food sources if you can nab em. The sling, effectively gives the survivor an effective advantage to procure some much needed sustenance.

Throwing a rock, just isn't the same. If you are a person with a major league arm, you might toss a rock in the upper 80-90 mph range, but all the velocity of the projectile is lost after just 10-20 feet. Accuracy is also lost pending the throw. The sling can generate tremendous power, giving a effective range up to 250 yards. ( so I am told, I try to stay in the "if I can see it clearly, it's a target in range". Anything over 30-50 yards I'm not going to try.) Those long range shots might be better suited to ward of predators, or sport/practice at those distances. Up close, the sling delivers a blinding speed attack, with little effort at all.

And talk about impact! I do not know the scientific measurements of how many pounds per square inch a sling can generate... but I do know it crushes bone easily. (My first attempt at using one in practice amazed me when I hit the target I was using. Old milk jugs filled with water, at about 100 feet away. The jugs filled up with water, have more resistance than any game you'd be hunting, and let me tell you the sling doesn't just hit and bounce off, it often bust the jugs to ruins in one blow, and has even penetrated right through them. Just imagine what it could do to a skull or rib cage.)

It's a cheap weapon, easily carried, light, and portable. I got a tip from watching Survivorman, the famous survivalist always carries a good multi-tool with him always. I now carry one too, and I always carry a pre-made sling with me in my pocket. Those are two tools I won't go out of the house with-out. I also keep one in my travel pack and hiking pack as well. Not only do I use it for light game hunting, I also use it for recreation. A good past time of mine is slinging stones at the local river. A few of my friends have also taken up the hobby.

Also, as I said before, it can be used in protection situations as well. I've killed persistent snakes, warded off coyotes, and dropped a wild boar running at me before. I know this was a bit long winded, but in addition to setting traps and snares, give this simple but highly effective tool a try. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.


Recent Comments

Grab This Widget

Popular Posts