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Tuesday, September 7, 2010


How My Father RollsImage by mr.smashy via Flickr
The Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety should be etched into your memory before you begin to handle firearms. These rules are intended to be followed by all persons handling firearms in the field, on the range, or at home. Please read, review and understand these rules before you begin to use your firearm.

Commandment #1 - Always Keep the Muzzle Pointed in a Safe Direction
This is the most basic and most important safety rule. A safe direction is one in which an accidental discharge will not cause injury to yourself, to others or property damage. This is particularly important when loading or unloading your firearm. Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. Treat every gun as if it were loaded at all times.
Commandment #2 - Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not Actually in Use
Firearms should only be loaded when you are in the field or on the target range or shooting area, ready to shoot. When not in use, firearms and ammunition should be secured in a safe place, separate from each other. Remember to unload your firearm completely, so that there is no ammunition in the chamber or magazine. Before handling this or any firearm, or handing it to someone else, visually check the chamber and magazine to ensure they do not contain ammunition. Always keep the gun’s action open when not in use. Never assume a gun is unloaded - even if you were the last person to use it. Never cross a fence, climb a tree, wade through a stream, or perform any awkward movement with a loaded gun. When in doubt, unload your gun! Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person. And never carry a loaded gun in a scabbard, a holster not being worn, or a gun case.
Commandment #3 - Don’t Completely Rely on Your Gun’s Safety
Treat every gun as though it could fire at any time, even if you are not applying pressure to the trigger. The “safety” on a firearm is a mechanical device which, like any such device, can become inoperable at the worst possible time and fail to function. By mistake, you may think the safety is “ON” when it actually is not. Or you may think your gun is unloaded when there is actually a round of ammunition in it. The safety serves as a supplement to proper gun handling but cannot serve as a substitute for common sense. Never handle a gun carelessly and assume that the gun won’t fire, just because “the safety is on.” Never touch the firearm’s trigger until you are ready to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger when loading or unloading. Never pull the trigger when the safety is engaged or when the safety is positioned between the “SAFE” and “FIRE” positions. Never place your finger on the trigger unless you intend to fire.
Commandment #4 - Be Sure of Your Target - And What Is Beyond It!
Once fired, a bullet (or shot charge) can never be called back, so before you shoot know where the bullet is going and what it will strike. Be certain your shot will not injure someone or strike something beyond the target. Never fire in the direction of noise, a movement, or at any object you cannot positively identify. Be aware that a .22 Short bullet can travel over 1-1/4 miles. A centerfire cartridge, such as the .30-06, can send its bullet over 3-miles. Shotgun pellets can travel 500-yards and a shotgun slug has a range of over a half-mile. Make sure your shot has a safe backstop such as a hillside. Keep in mind how far the bullet will travel if it misses your intended target. Once fired, a bullet can never be called back. You are responsible for your actions and judgment.
Commandment #5 - Use the Correct Ammunition
Every firearm is designed to use a certain caliber or gauge of ammunition. It is important that you use the correct ammunition for your firearm. Information on the correct ammunition to use with your firearm appears in the firearm’s instruction manual and the manufacturer’s markings on the firearm itself. Use of the wrong ammunition, improperly reloaded ammunition, or corroded ammunition can result in the destruction of the firearm, serious personal injury and/or death. Form the habit of examining every round of ammunition before you put it into your gun to ensure it is of the proper gauge or caliber and that it is in good condition.
Commandment #6 - If Your Gun Fails to Fire When the Trigger Is Pulled, Handle With Care
If a cartridge or shell does not fire when the trigger is pulled, follow Commandment #1 and keep the firearm’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keeping the muzzle pointed away from your face and anything you do not intend to shoot, wait at least 30-seconds (to ensure that the ammunition is not delayed in firing) before carefully opening the action, unloading the firearm and disposing of the ammunition safely.
Commandment #7 - Always Wear Eye & Ear Protection When Shooting
Exposure to shooting noise can permanently damage hearing and flying debris, such as powder residue and ejected cartridge cases can injure your eyes. Thus, it is only common sense to wear both eye protection (such as shooting glasses) and ear protection (such as a sound muffling headset) whenever shooting. Also, wear eye protection when cleaning or disassembling your gun to ensure that cleaning solvent and tensioned parts (such as springs), do not come into contact with your eyes.
Commandment #8 - Be Sure the Barrel Is Clear of Obstructions Before Shooting
Discharging a firearm with an obstruction in the barrel can result in personal injury, property damage or death. Before you load your firearm, check the chamber and magazine to ascertain that no ammunition is inside. Also, check the inside of the barrel (called the “bore”) to ensure it is free of obstructions. Even a small amount of mud, snow or excess lubricating oil or grease in the bore can cause excessive pressures resulting in a bulged or burst barrel which can injure or kill the shooter and bystanders. It’s a good idea to make a habit of cleaning the bore and checking for obstructions with a cleaning rod just before each shooting session. If the noise or recoil experienced upon firing seems low or weak, or something doesn’t feel “right”, cease firing immediately and check to make sure that there is no obstruction in the barrel. Placing an undersized shell or cartridge into a gun (such as a 20-gauge shell in a shotgun chambered for 12-gauge ammunition) can result in the smaller round of ammunition falling into the barrel and acting as an obstruction. When a round is subsequently fired, the barrel may burst causing injury to the shooter and bystanders. For reference, re-read Commandment #5.
Commandment #9 - Do Not Alter or Modify Your Gun and Have It Serviced Regularly
Firearms are complex mechanisms that are designed to function properly in their original condition. Any alterations or changes made to a firearm after its manufacture can make the gun unsafe and will void its warranty. Do not jeopardize your safety or the safety of others by altering the trigger, mechanical safety or other mechanisms of your firearm. You should have your firearm periodically checked for proper functioning and serviced by a qualified gunsmith.
Commandment #10 - Learn the Mechanical and Handling Characteristics of Your Firearm
Not all firearms operate the same way. The method of carrying, handling and operating firearms varies with the mechanical characteristics of each gun. Thus, you should never handle any firearm until you become familiar with the safe handling, loading, unloading and carrying procedures for that particular firearm, as well as the rules for safe gun handling in general.

Source: Century GP1975 Rifle Manual © Century International Arms, Inc.
Staying above the water line!

Guest Post: Splitting Wood by DW

Stuck Wedge

Preferred Wodd Splitting Tools
Preferred Wood Splitting Tools
     During a crisis or collapse, many would have to return to using wood for heating and cooking needs.
     The chainsaws and wood splitters would run until the gasoline was gone.  After that it would be done like my grandfather had to do it, by hand.

     There is good and bad about splitting wood by hand, mostly bad.

     The good thing is that it is excellent exercise.  President Reagan used to split wood by hand.  Some say that the larger muscles in his chest, from splitting wood,  stopped the bullet and saved his life when Hinckley shot him.

     One of the bad things is stuck splitting wedges.  In the first photo, the wedge has been pounded all the way down and is countersunk about an inch.  It is not always possible to cut only easy splitting wood, like clear oak or birch.  Sometimes a tree dies or is blown down in a storm.  They get cut up and the bigger pieces need to be split.

     In order to get that stuck wedge out, we are going to need another wedge.  Hopefully only one.  Drive the second wedge in close to the first.  Hopefully at some point the piece will split and both wedges will be free.  If not, time for another wedge.

     In my experience, Elm is the nastiest, absolute worst wood to split.  It is gnarly and stringy.  Several times I have had four wedges stuck in the same piece of wood.  Box Elder and Willow are bad as well.  Willow is what you see in the photo.

     Another bad thing about splitting (during a collapse) is the amount of calories used.  Good when we need the exercise and have plenty of food.  Bad when food may be limited or everyone is already dead tired from all the other work.

     The second photo shows my personal choice for splitting tools:
  • Sledge hammer with fiberglass handle.  When I first started splitting by hand, I was a teenager,  my Dad had a sledge with a  wooden handle.  Sometimes when new to splitting or tired out from that particular splitting session,  you will over shoot the wedge.  Instead of metal to metal contact, you have wood to metal contact.  After a few of those, it's time for a new handle.  The fiberglass handles are very very strong.  I have never broken one. (yet)
  • Ear muff hearing protection.
  • Goggles for eye protection.  Sometimes little chips of steel come flying off the wedge.  No thank you!
  • Wood grenade splitting wedges.  The tip got broken off of the red one, but I can still use it if I get a wedge stuck.  I need for there to be about a half inch split in the wood to get it in.  The wood grenades are the best!  Since they are roughly circular, they apply pressure equally to the piece and it splits at its weakest points.  The only disadvantage is that the tips break off.
  • Standard splitting wedge.  Usefull if you need for the piece to split a certain way.  They are also cheaper and easier to find in stores.
     Other splitting tools that have limited use are:
  • Hatchet.  Good for splitting boards into kindling.
  • Axe.  For smaller, easier to split pieces.
  • Splitting maul.  Like a sledge hammer with a wedge on one end.  Sometimes it works  good on bigger pieces that are easy to split.  It will still get stuck in the wood occasionally and then you are going to have to wrestle it free.  I never liked them.
     When using standard wedges, tap them a few times to get them started firmly  into the piece to be split.  This is very  important!  If you hit it a glancing blow, with your first full strike, it will come flying off, and will be just like a miniature hatchet head.   Seems like they are always aimed at your shins.

     At a minimum use work boots,  heavy long pants, goggles, and hearing protection when splitting.

     Make sure to take your time when splitting.  Work into a rhythm.  Stop after a set time to avoid becoming fatigued.  With fatigue comes the possibility of injury.

     I assume no responsibility for anyone acting on this post.

     I want to thank Andrew for allowing me to post this article at Daily Survival.

     If you liked this article,please visit:
     New Dawn Survival

Practical and Affordable Prepping, by Steve G.

The purpose of this submission is to establish that we all have real lives to lead while we remain vigilant about all possibilities, most of which others choose to pretend away.  Money is not unlimited, and we have families and a life to lead.   These things should not be sacrificed or squandered  because we’re too captivated by a single, or favorite, survival scenario.  We need to be building happy lives and memories with our families, children, and their children, even as we remain ready for what we hope won’t happen, and may not happen.

The rank and file among us doesn’t have the money and unlimited space to stockpile AR-15s and M1911s.  Or high-end freeze-dried Stroganoff, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  Likewise, fully-built safe rooms, pre-fab shelters, well-filter systems, and the like are off the table for most of us. What would be the essence of survival if you removed all options to replicate your favorite foods, daily routines, or favorite survivalist movies, in the TEOTWAWKI scenario?  (Note: While TEOTWAWKI is a neat acronym, I’m still fond of the military’s SNAFU, TARFU and FUBAR as a barometer of conditions!)

I would start with a bare-bones arsenal that consists of a [used] entry level 12 gauge,  low-end  .22 rifle, and a 1,000+ FPS air rifle.  Each can be had for under $150, new.  The air gun is particularly important, if you consider that silence during hunting or self defense may be a life saver.  The report of a firearm may cause you more harm than good, in certain conditions.   Also, thousands of .177 or .22 pellets can be stockpiled for little cost, and almost no space.  This weapon is just as deadly as any other in the right hands.  The shotgun and .22 are mandatory hunting and defense tools, to be used when appropriate.  They also feature cost-effective and storage-friendly ammo.  The relatively small expense of these 3 weapons may also allow you to buy more than one, or to purchase the air gun with multiple barrels; this will minimize your need to focus on becoming a gunsmith or machinist to deal with maintenance.  Some may argue the need to add handguns and larger firepower;  I choose these weapons and guile over a reliance on quantity and massive power (a 12 gauge is quite powerful enough, given the option of buckshot and slugs). Other weapons such as bows and slingshots offer even more affordability and the ever-important silence, with  a bit less power and quickness.  However, they are important supplements to the survival arsenal and should be included.  In the absolutely  bottom-line situation (middle of nowhere with nothing), you must remember to quickly carve or grind spears, collect rocks for throwing, and craft clubs, rock mauls or axes, or slings and bows  as your skills allow.
Knives are essential, and easily managed for cost and benefits.  They are your last line of self defense, and typically your first tool for most other field activities.  If you must, buy one or two high-end models for durability and surety. But then partake of a classic gun and knife show for a whole spectrum  of $10-to-$15 tools that will be the bulwark of your survival.  You must have multiple sharpening options, and oil and steel wool will round out your maintenance needs.

Regarding water management, sanitation, and medical, SurvivalBlog already enjoys many quality writings on affordable, effective approaches.  Especially those that observe that nearly your whole inventory can come from various dollar stores.  We will have to accept that our contingency-apocalypse medical careers will be limited to normal illness management, standard sanitation, and minimal doctoring like small wound care, maybe setting a fracture or pulling a tooth at best.  Unless we are close with a medical professional who will be in our survival community, we’ll have to accept and prepare for a limited ceiling; as we conjure up images of maimed and deathly ill loved ones we may wish for more, but materials, training, and equipment for much more is likely beyond our grasp.  Manage the small things that we can, and pray for help beyond them.  The one other opportunity worth noting is military manuals, training materials, and backpack-beltpack style kits.  The military long ago defined the medical capabilities and methods for the average Joe in the field, which will be nearly all of us.  These items are affordable and can be found on-line, and in surplus stores.

Food is the last frontier.  We must remember again that the bottom-line scenario looms.  Nothing can replace the basics of hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging.  As always, you can run the gamut of fancy, expensive gear, minimal gear, or maybe no gear at all.  The minimalist weapons noted directly above are a starting point.   Fishing  can be done nothing but a spear, or one level  removed, string and anything resembling a hook (and don’t forget the potentials of anything resembling a net).  Though nothing can equip you better than pure experience; do some fishing, hunting, and trapping  just to get a feel for it and some skills.  There is an ample collection of written materials on naturally growing plant foods, trapping, and foraging out there, especially in the aforementioned old military materials and survival manuals.

If you are lucky enough to pursue and stock “store-bought” stuff, let’s steer clear of efforts to recreate your favorite culinary and childhood experiences in an apocalyptic, chaotic world!  What can we afford and store efficiently (space) and effectively (longevity / durability), that also gives us the densest and highest quality calories and nutrients?  Whole wheat is a given, with a 30 year life span that dwarfs all other grain alternatives.  Honey is the ultimate, chock full of food value, a nearly endless shelf life (it’s been claimed that honey has been found deep in the Pyramids, likely from the time of their construction, that was edible), and incredibly suited for efficient storage.  You can buy yourself a plastic 55-gallon drum of honey, for much less per pound than it costs in small containers. Will you get sick of it?  Yes.  Will this much honey, eaten very sparingly, help keep you alive for a year?  I believe so.   Peanut butter has similar potentials, with a much shorter shelf life. Rice is also relatively inexpensive if bought in bulk. If you could stock one 55-gallon barrel of each of these four items, you would have quite the larder for multiple years, under severe, austere conditions.  You must be ever mindful of the effects of temperature, moisture, and pests.  The plastic barrels with effective lids, elevated off the ground, are probably the ultimate storage method.  You can also achieve successful conditions with multiple layers of plastic bags and very tight plastic containers, always keeping an eye on placement and threats.  The “barrel” volume is, of course, the ultimate efficiency, but keep in mind that gallon (or 5) boxes, cans and jugs of these products are available in many nearby stores. [JWR Adds: They can be re-packed into fairly vermin-proof containers, such as five gallon HDPE plastic buckets. As previously noted in SurvivalBlog these are often available free for the asking or for a dollar apiece from bakeries and delicatessens.]
As far as the rest of your contingency needs, nothing will serve and protect you like a hobbyist’s collection of affordable camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting gear.  Simple backpacks, canteens, tents and sleeping bags…..and moving on up from there.  Remember the opportunities of dollar stores, second-hand-Goodwill-yard sale approaches, and be sure to make it one of your hobbies.  Also include simple and effective fire starting and cooking, methods & materials.  A few remaining equipment items such as a small wood stove, bare-bones generator, grill-type propane tanks and stoves / grills / lamps; candles, matches, and mass-packaged lighters are eminently affordable, especially when bought used or at thrift stores.  In the scenario where retaining and fortifying your home is an option, these are invaluable pieces of the puzzle.  Lastly, don’t forget to stock several hand-crank flashlights and radios.  They are plentiful, reliable, and inexpensive in most stores now.

In closing, you don’t need to sacrifice 98% of your anticipated life, or resources, for preparation for a 2% likelihood of calamity.  Conversely, you can maximize your real preparedness with a highly efficient, reasoned approach, along with making much of it a part of your life’s hobbies, pursuits, and enjoyments.  I wish you an enjoyable, successful prepping experience! - Steve G.. Lt. Col. USAF, Retired