Archive for January, 2012

Our YouTube page was looking a little sparse, so Tim decided to show you yet another way to get a fire going using some simple household items. You can then go back and watch our previous video sharing a few ways to get cooking quickly.

Brought to you by Kershaw & Zero Tolerance Knives.


What if you turned on the TV and saw this? Are you ready to help?

The last few weeks have seen some crazy weather here in the U.S. Severe snow and ice in Seattle, a devastating tornado in Alabama, and Oregon saw record flooding. Some of that flooding wiped out Turner, Oregon, the town I grew up in.

Notice the concrete retaining wall around this house. The owner built it after record floods in 96. Notice how the water is almost breaching the wall.

Seeing the images of people stranded, caught off guard, without power, and many now without their homes or any possessions got me thinking: What is preparedness worth when Mother Nature sticks it in and breaks it off?

What could you do to help these people? Would you if you could?

Last week, thousands of Oregonians essentially had no warning and were caught off-guard with feet of water in their homes and businesses within a couple hours. Yesterday, near Birmingham, Alabama, 211 homes were destroyed and so far three people are confirmed dead following a tornado that swept through Jefferson County.

So what do you do if all your awesome prepper gear, guns, Zombie plans and outbreak maps get covered in sewage filled river water? What happens if all your ammo cans, water purifiers, and bug-out-bags get haphazardly tossed into the next county by the portal to Oz? What then?

Truth is, I don’t know a good answer for that. There are drills that will help with floods, fires, tornadoes (if you have enough warning,) rolling blackouts, riots, and of course massive hordes of the walking dead. Red Cross, FEMA, and a few other agencies offer lists of things you should have on hand at all times. The drills go something like: Place a tarp in your living room, then run around your house like an idiot grabbing all the items on the list and placing them on the tarp. Goal time is to get under 5-minutes to get everything on the tarp so you can have it all in one place. Not sure what good that will do you when the water is running into your living room, or a tornado just relocated your neighbor’s boat into your kitchen.

What if you came home from a movie and your street looked like this? What could you do to help?

Other things you can do is keep a Bug-out-bag or 72-hour bag – or whatever you want to call it – in a friend or relative’s house that is miles away on high ground, or keep some cash and a pre-pay cell phone in a bank’s safety deposit box. You could always get a storage unit across town and put some stuff in that. That of course has logistical problems like getting to it when every road in town is under water.

What do you do if you are cut off from your super prepper 1000 kit you bought online?

What I witnessed over the last week, isn’t how awesome everyone’s prep was, but how awesome people come together to help total strangers – countrymen – in their time of need. Several members of Zombie Awareness International came out to Lowes home improvement store in Salem, Oregon to help fill sandbags for anyone who needed them. My wife posted that we were doing this on Facebook, and one of the guys she recently deployed with drove nearly 50 miles through flooded counties to come help, just because he felt a need to do something to help.

This is truly what we at ZAI are all about. Our catch line “Keeping your ass alive” paired with our motto: Semper Vigilans Semper Paratus (Latin for always vigilant, always prepared) are about more than talking which gun is better than which, and what is the better plan, bugging out or staying in during the Zombie Apocalypse. It is about being ready to not just protect yourself from disaster, but making sure you are in a position to help others. Get to know your neighbors. Don’t approach them and say, “Zombie Awareness International told me that I need to be prepared for the Zpoc,” but rather, cite the recent emergencies and talk to them about their state of preparedness or readiness. Who knows, you might actually find out that they are more prepared than you, or posses valuable skills for your Zpoc team.

Are you able to help these people? Even just a blanket, a shower, or a hot meal could do wonders for these people right now.

If you see someone in need, true need, help them. This isn’t giving a bum on the corner a five spot because he looks sad at you at the traffic light. What we are suggesting is that you get involved. Don’t freak out and buy a reflective vest and set up neighborhood patrols, but be prepared. Get your family prepared. If your home is undamaged, and you are able to take in a neighbor whose house was leveled or flooded out, let them stay with you a night or two, at the very least, offer them your shower. Who knows, it might just pay off when the dead rise.

And no, this isn’t us going all soft. This is about who we are. What kind of people would we be if at the first sign of trouble, we took our ball and went home? That being said, we still operate under the premise of be polite, be vigilant, and be prepared to kill. It may work in a combat zone, or during Zpoc, but it doesn’t apply when your neighborhood has been waylaid by Mother Nature. This is the time to roll up your sleeves and do the right thing as a human and a survivor.

What if this was you? Yesterday you had a house. Today, you only have a sewage pond. How do you prep for this?

Semper Vigilans Semper Paratus



Hollowland (The Hollows, #1)Premise: In a post-apocalyptic world, the zombie virus had spread and zombies run rampant. The place where Remy King and her brother Max had been living is overrun with zombies and she is forced to escape. The only problem is that she thinks Max has been taken by the soldiers there to a quarantine to the north. That is her goal, but one of the other girls there, Harlow, ends up coming with her.

Along the way, they find a zombie-eating lion (of course), which Remy quickly names Ripley after Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien. They also meet Blue, the reliable and intelligent pre-med student, and Lazlo, the former rock star. This small group encounters marauders, a religious cult, and of course zombies on the way to the quarantine where Max supposedly has been taken.

Remy must do everything she can to get to her brother, to find out where he is and what has happened to him. They hope to make it to the quarantine, but will Max be there even if they do?

Themes: Obviously, this is a story of survival. Not only must they survive zombies, but they must also survive their encounters with other people.

Hollowland is also a story of a journey. Getting from one point to another with a vehicle is one thing, but when roadblocks are thrown in the way the journey is more difficult. Going on foot becomes even more difficult when the way is teeming with zombies. It is also a journey of growth for the characters, as well.

Remy goes through a lot of self-discovery in the story, facing death, her ability to survive, be a leader, and keep other people alive. She also discovers herself as it pertains to romantic relationships. Her dislike of Lazlo is put to the test. Can she care for someone when survival is so uncertain?

Pros: If you like gory scenes of zombies being killed in strange and inventive ways, that is about all Hollowland has going for it. The other reason I even read it is that it is currently a free download on Amazon.

Cons: This is a classic case of show, don’t tell. That is, it is a case of what not to do. In a first person perspective, this book suffers from explaining things through internal monologue rather than just having them actively engage in the action. Another problem was even though this is first person, a very vital piece of information is held back until over halfway through the book, a piece of information that the protagonist knows that is only revealed seemingly when it suits the author in order to build false suspense. This is just sloppy writing, not to mention the myriad of grammar and spelling errors that plague this novel. There are more minute details that could have used some research, such as the main character sharpshooting a man off a roof a block away with a handgun. On top of all these things, we are left with a cliffhanger that requires us to read the next book in the series to find out what happens to the protagonist. The real problem is that at the end of this emotionless book with stilted prose I just didn’t care about any of the characters.

Recommendations: If you like mindless stories about zombies, this book might be for you. Its only redeeming quality is that it cost me nothing other than my time to read it. Other than that, I can think of much better books to waste time with than this. If you are going to self-publish, at least have the decency to have your books edited. I can see why Ms. Hocking had collected so many rejections by traditional publishers after reading Hollowland. I suppose she may have the last word since she has made millions in book sales, but it doesn’t make her books any better quality, at least not this one. If Hollowland is any indicator of her writing, I doubt I will ever read anything else she writes.

Hollowland on Goodreads
Amanda Hocking’s website
Amanda Hocking’s blog

– Tim

One question we have come across a lot is “What do you do with children during the zombie apocalypse?” We have heard that they are a liability because they can’t fend for themselves, they make too much noise, and they are a drain on resources. This is not something that I take lightly, especially since I am a new father. Since we at Zombie Awareness International look at surviving zombies as an extreme scenario for surviving in any situation, we have to look at how we travel and survive with children in this context. Here are some things you can do to make your children aware and ready for survival.

Integrate babies into your workout routine. I regularly add my baby into my workout by using him as additional weight when doing situps or lifting him with different exercises. Not only is this good exercise for me, but it is also good bonding time between us as we can play and work out at the same time. A baby carrier is also good as you can wear it while doing pushups, everyday manual tasks, or even while going on walks. Your training while carrying a baby may come in handy later when you actually have to carry that baby for long stretches of time.

Teach your kids the basics as soon as possible. Soon your child will be walking and able to do simple tasks. Don’t count out a child’s ability to reason and help out. You might begin to teach them gun safety, but before they are ready for that you can involve them in even more important basic skills, such as finding food, starting a fire, or building shelters. Teach these basics to your kids and they will be able to do their part and they will also be equipped for future survival. Show your kids how to bait a hook, forage for edible plants, find good sources of water, or construct a basic shelter. Help them learn the essentials in an emergency supply kit. Several websites have information and games they can play to help them (and you) learn these things, such as FEMA or Equipped To Survive. Putting this information in the form of simple songs or rhythms will help them learn it. Even if there are tasks they are physically unable to perform a child’s memory is very good when properly engaged, and they will be able to retain this useful information even when you might forget something.

Even in the zombie apocalypse, you are not going into a combat situation. Your six year old does not need to be a sniper in order to survive. More than likely, in a true zombie outbreak situation, the best thing you can do is avoid and run. Engaging in a firefight with a horde of zombies is a bad idea, especially since they will never give up and your gun fire will only attract more zombies anyway. Having a child with you will not change that. But since we use a zombie outbreak as an extreme example for more realistic situations, such as natural disaster or governmental collapse, we must consider the human aspect in these terms. Leaving someone behind because they are a liability is out of the question. They are probably not going to cause your death, especially if you are adequately skilled. If anything, you being a heartless bastard leaving behind helpless children will more than likely end up causing you to get a bullet in the back from one of your own people. Kids who can’t handle a gun yet might still be able to perform simple manual tasks. In fact, the real liability just might be an older person who is more confident in their ability to handle a weapon than they actually possess.

That child you train now may save your life later. If you take the time to give a child the skills they need to survive, they may end up keeping your ass alive in the future. What happens if you break your leg and need someone to bring you food and water and the basic skills you taught them when they were younger now come in handy for you? When they grow up and you are now infirm, would you like them to leave you behind because you are a liability? What if that child you train is the one person around that is the same blood type as you or the only person around to perform CPR? In all of these instances you will be quite glad that you did your part in teaching that child basic survival skills.

“But children are a drain on my supplies.” Babies won’t start eating solid foods until they are at least 4-6 months old. Children can continue to breast feed through two years of age or longer. Even after then, children eat a fraction of what an adult eats, and by the time they eat a sizeable amount of food they will be old enough to help find and prepare that food. Remember these things when you think that a child might be a drain on your supplies or a liability to your group. They need your help to survive, and in turn you may one day need theirs.

– Tim

We have been working on getting some new designs available for you.

You can buy them here.

Also notice that the website has been upgraded and is now only bookmark it!

Semper Vigilans Semper Paratus



Dreadnought (The Clockwork Century, #3)Premise: Dreadnought is the followup novel to Boneshaker in the Clockwork Century series (if you exclude the novella Clementine). It is set during the Civil War, this time beginning our story in Richmond, Virgina in a Confederate hospital. Nurse Mercy Lynch is good at what she does and has seen her fair share of bloodied soldiers, but when she discovers her Union husband has been killed and her father is dying, she decides to leave for Tacoma, Washington to see him before he is gone for good.

The trip is difficult, to say the least. She has to hop a dirigible through the front lines of the battle. The airship she is on gets shot down but she is able to make it to St. Louis. From there she gets on a Union train known as the Dreadnought to travel through the vast expanse of land west of the Mississippi. The mysterious cargo it is carrying, however, draws the attention of bandits, Rebel soldiers, and an even faster Confederate train as they race to their destination over the Colorado Rockies. On the way to Salt Lake City, will Inspector Galeano discover what happened to a group of missing Mexican soldiers, and will Texas Ranger Horatio Korman learn what is in the last two cars of the infamous train?

When Mercy arrives in Tacoma she meets up with the sheriff who is supposed to lead her to her father. It is here in the Pacific Northwest that she encounters a completely different world full of characters familiar to those who have read Boneshaker. She is introduced to these new people by her maiden name: Swakhammer.

Themes: What is important to you when you are on the edge of losing everything? When she loses her husband and her father is on his deathbed, Mercy is faced with choosing what is important to her. Knowing her father and seeing him before it’s too late become the most important thing to her at this time, so the obstacles in her path are dwarfed by her desire to know the only family she has left.

This is also a story about personal growth. This journey to Tacoma is as metaphorical as it is literal as she makes important life decisions. Mercy left Richmond a strong-willed widow but her arrival in Tacoma and Seattle bring her face to face with her unknown past and an unsure future.

Pros: Mercy is an incredibly strong female lead character that can handle being on her own. She doesn’t swoon over the sight of a man, but she is also feminine and has personal conflict, all of which makes her likeable and realistic. The pacing for Dreadnought was perfect, starting with the creep of sickened soldiers and building to racing locomotives. All the story elements – airships, zombies, the steam walkers – stood the chance of being cheesy tropes, but here they are executed and woven together with a skill that makes them all believable and interesting. I liked the train plowing through hordes of zombies, but it was the giant steam-powered walkers that I really loved.

Cons: Some of the motivational conflicts between characters seemed a little forced in order to move plot points along, but when facing zombies I can see how they would make some of the decisions they did in spite of their allegiances. Since I liked the walking war machines I could have seen more of them in the story. Besides, I wanted to see a fight between a walker and zombies.

Recommendations: Dreadnought gathered steam (pun intended) beginning with the sobering realities of war and accelerating to breakneck speeds of shootouts on dueling trains. Cherie Priest took the foundation she laid with Boneshaker and created something new in Dreadnought, with a few tie-ins to its predecessor. The two stories are greatly different and you can read one without having read the other, but why would you want to? This story is a speeding juggernaut of action, mystery, and intrigue…with zombies.

Dreadnought on Goodreads
Cherie Priest’s website

– Tim

Even "Ahnold" had questions about which gun to buy in "The Terminator"

I wrote this piece a couple years ago when I was getting asked “what gun should I buy,” quite frequently. Lately, it seems I get asked this more and more, so here it is. It is long winded, but I feel it is informative. If you feel I missed your favorite gun, or didn’t give your favorite gun enough credit, well, that’s just the way it goes. Feel free to comment about it. Obviously, this list isn’t all encompassing. It is intended to give some basic information, and perhaps help the less informed reader think clearly about firearms. Enjoy -Eric

So you want to buy a gun . . .

There has been a lot of talk lately from a bunch of people I know about buying guns. Most of these folks aren’t gun nuts, white supremacists, vigilantes or any other of the liberal tags of people who want guns. They are you average law-abiding citizen who realizes that there is a potential in the very near future to at the very least, not be able to exercise their God given right to own a gun. Worst case scenario, is that these people realize they may need to use a gun to defend themselves in a basic absence of a real government. So I will address several issues that will hopefully spur some thought for the citizen who wants to purchase what is perhaps their first firearm.

First and foremost, one must ask the question of why he or she wants a gun. Is it for home defense? Is it for hunting? Is it for personal defense? Is it for stashing in a 72-hour bag? Is it for holing up in the event of a governmental collapse?  Dependent on how one answers this question determines what kind of gun one should buy. It is pretty rare that one gun can cover all the bases. But there are a few guns or combinations of guns that do all these things fairly well, but not all of them perfectly.

Here is a basic list of several types of firearms and their main uses:

Bolt Action Rifle; Chambered in about every caliber ever made. Can be loaded singly, or with a magazine. Fires one round each time the bolt lever is rotated and locked back. Can be highly accurate. Can be found in numerous configurations from plinker for targets up to a full tactical sniper rifle. Most often used for hunting and precision shooting.

Lever Action Rifle; typically chambered in lighter power calibers because the action is slightly weaker. It was often referred to as the cowboy rifle because it was one of the early American repeating rifles, used by cowboys and eventually the military. It is fairly accurate, and can be fired quickly by actuating the cocking lever for each round fired. Used primarily by cowboy action shooters and re-enactors, but still used for hunting as well.

Semi-Automatic rifle; this is typically a magazine fed rifle, that automatically extracts a fired round and loads another one. Each pull of the trigger fires a round then the weapon is reloaded and locked into battery after every trigger pull. Can be used for hunting, but the paramilitary applications far outweigh hunting. Calibers range from small plinking rounds, all the way up to 20mm.

Pump-Action Shotgun; Much like the lever-action or bolt-action rifle, the pump shotgun requires the user to cycle the action manually after every round is expended to lock the weapon back into battery. Used for hunting, home and personal defense, law enforcement, and paramilitary operations worldwide. For the most part, only one chambering, 12 gauge is worth owning.  Shotguns also come in semi-automatic, break-open single shot, lever and bolt action. Semi and pump should be the only ones looked at for nearly any application.

Single-Action Revolver; the quintessential cowboy gun. Usually holds six rounds in a cylinder and is fired and cycled by a single pull of an external hammer device. Each time the hammer is drawn back, the cylinder rotates to align the next round into the firing cone at the breech side of the barrel. Chambered in calibers ranging from plinkers all the way up to overly-large rifle calibers, and some shotgun calibers. These are used again by re-enactors. Don’t rule them out for hunting small game, and perhaps self defense.

Double-Action Revolver; this is possibly one of the best starter handguns, and is perfectly fitted for home/personal defense, as well as sitting in a 72-hour bag. Similar to the single-action revolver, in that it has a cylinder and hammer and operates much the same way, although instead of cocking the hammer manually, a single pull of the trigger will move the cylinder and hammer into battery simultaneously, then drops the hammer to discharge the round. The design lends itself to utter reliability. It is nearly idiot-proof in that you just point and pull the trigger. It can have a live round under the hammer, and with today’s safety standards, will not go off accidentally even if dropped. It can be used for hunting, and is still used by a large amount of law enforcement officials worldwide. The strength and design of this weapon lends itself to holding some pretty stout calibers.

Semi-Automatic Pistol; Operating much the same way as the semi-auto rifle, this weapon is typically magazine fed, and after cycling the action, each pull of the trigger will fire a round and recycle the action into battery. Caliber sizes are limited by pistol size, and often by the type of round, for instance, most semi-auto pistols do not fire rimmed cartridges like calibers often chambered in revolvers. Can be used for hunting, although calibers often don’t meet legal standards. Most often used for home/personal defense and 72-hour bag applications. Widely considered the end-all weapon for individual defense worldwide.

This is a brief look at various weapon types available. There are obviously quite a few other makes and types out there. This list just covers the basic types available and used today.

The most important things to remember about owning a firearm is that it doesn’t make the man, it is only worth a darn if you know how to use it, and without training with the firearm, one may not even bother purchasing it. An untrained person with the most expensive and high-tech weapons system is no match for a highly trained individual with the most rudimentary gun.

How much training is enough? There are a lot of schools of thought on this. Some feel that a person is not fully trained on their weapon until they have shot 5,000 rounds through it, and can perform immediate action and combat reloads in the dark under duress. Some feel that several hundred rounds a week are sufficient. Truth is, training on a weapon is an individual thing, but one should have sufficient experience with the weapon so that they are comfortable using it in the worst possible situation.

So, what gun is the right gun? The simplest answer is: the one you have in your hand when you need it. But quite a bit more thought should be put into owning a gun than that. It is a pretty serious decision. Once you own a gun, there is a whole new problem set involved with ownership. Where are you going to store it? Is it in a place where it is readily accessible if necessary? Is the potential for it to be used against you there?

There is also the whole morality and thought process surrounding the actual use of said gun to take another’s life to protect your own, or even to stop a violent crime from being committed against a total stranger. These things should not be taken lightly. For some, this problem is enough to keep them from owning a gun.

Once all these issues have been addressed, the time comes to make the actual decision as to which firearm to buy. For this process we will look at the idea of personal/home defense.

There are a lot of combat style (or assault) rifles on the market, as well as pistols and shotguns. The predominant assault rifle on today’s market is the venerable AR-15, arguably the cowboy gun of our generation. That isn’t to say that the AR is the end all of firearms. There are several few other “assault-style” rifles out there.

Quite a few nations use what is commonly referred to as the NATO battle rifle. The NATO BR is basically any variation of the FN-FAL or H&K G3 (known to civilians as the 91 or 93). These rifles are almost always chambered in .308 NATO, or 7.62x51mm. This rifle is used by one government agency or another on just about every continent on the planet.

Also high on this list is the Kalashnikov, or AK-47, AK-74, MAK90, AKM or RPK. This is the soviet answer to the M-16/AR-15, and replaced the reliable SKS in the hands of third world terrorists and communist militaries worldwide. Almost always chambered in 7.62×39, they are cheap, reliable, and ugly. But with perhaps more than 50 million copies worldwide, who can argue with numbers?

Similar to the NATO BR is the Galil. It is the Israeli battle rifle. It combines some of each of the above mentioned weapons, and is seemingly flawless, much like all the weapons Israel makes. It is typically chambered in 5.56 NATO. These are difficult to find in the U.S.these days.

The M14/M1-A is a standard style .308 NATO rifle used by U.S. Military forces since around late Korean War times. It is still fielded today by Soldiers in Iraq, though typically in a one weapon per platoon as an impromptu sniper weapon. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of the above mentioned weapons, but it does have an amazing history of reliability, and unmatched accuracy.

Depending on the use of the intended rifle, it is important to weigh the pros and cons.

Here is a short list of the pros and cons of each of the above listed weapons.

AR-15/M-16/M4 is one of the most used, most modified, and possibly one of the best weapons on this list. If one has a lower receiver package, he or she could purchase and attach any number of variations and calibers on the lower ranging from a .556 M4 Style upper, to a .50BMG single shot upper, and just about everything in between. This includes pistol calibers and plinkers. This weapon has often been pooh-poohed on by a lot of armchair quarterbacks based on its initial fielding failures in Vietnam. Some of the features that make this one of the best rifles on the market today are: Drop-free/straight load magazines. This could mean the difference between life and death. It is easy to disassemble and clean. It isn’t finicky about ammunition. Although all weapons should be cleaned, this weapon can really go a long time dirty and still function. It is easy to use at the beginner level. They are usually under $1000.00, and are readily available even at sporting goods stores. Cons about the AR platform are that even though it can run dirty for a long time, once it does get too dirty to function, it won’t function. It isn’t the most accurate weapon on this list, although Marines shoot the weapon 500meters, and most shooting teams in theU.S. use it. Some of the lightweight materials on it make it prone to potential breaking when used outside of just firing the weapon, i.e. hitting someone with it, prying open a door and what not.

AK-47, is a hardy, brick wall of a weapon. It will operate in any condition, and misfeeds are nearly unheard of. One could hit the exposed charging handle with a hammer if necessary and it wouldn’t affect the weapon. The Soviet block models have a threaded on barrel, whereas the Chinese style weapons have a pressed on barrel. The Soviet models, with a bayonet attached, can be thrown as a spear if necessary and they won’t break. Cons for this weapon are that it has loose tolerances and is relatively inaccurate. It is ugly, with a lot of exposed metal that can lead to operator burns on a hot weapon. One of the fundamental flaws with this weapons system, and every other on this list except the AR is the lack of a drop-free magazine. It has a pin-rotate magazine style that can be hard to operate, and leaves the potential for the magazine dropping out during firing.

NATO BR, in any of the configurations, this is a pretty solid weapons system that hits pretty hard due to the .308 chambering. They are well made, and have tight tolerances. The weapon is pretty accurate, and has few functionality issues. Some cons are that current and impending restrictions are making getting not just the rifles, but replacement parts hard to come by. Again, this weapon does not have the drop-free magazine.

The Galil is nearly unavailable these days in the states. It is an impressive piece, but the lack of worldwide use makes it hard to rate. It is something of an amalgamation of ARs, AKs, and NATO BRs. Cons are that things like parts and even magazines are nearly non-existent.

The M1A/M14 is an amazing rifle, proving itself in combat on nearly every continent since the late 1950s. It is robust, simple, and sturdy. It is exceedingly accurate out of the box. The .308 chambering makes it a premier semi-auto sniper system throughout the world. Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock used this weapon extensively duringVietnam, once getting a confirmed kill at nearly 1500 yards. It does suffer from the non-drop free magazine. It is also expensive. Here is a video of me shooting my M1A SOCOM 16.

Recoil should be noted here. Any of the weapons listed with the exception of the AR in .556 have fairly stout recoil that can affect follow-up shots.

Pistols – the above list of the different types of pistols pretty much covers it. There are myriad pistols on the market in countless calibers.  The main thing to keep in mind when choosing a handgun is to think about how much money your life might be worth. Then spend accordingly. Choose a pistol that is comfortable for you to handle, as well as carry on your person for possibly days on end. The caliber range should be somewhere between 9mm at the bottom and .44 magnum on the absolute top end. If going with a semi-automatic, look at what the American military, including special operations groups is currently or has recently carried as a sidearm.

Shotguns – again, the list of manufacturers is pretty large. Purchase one that is not too light, as recoil will be unmanageable. Avoid shotguns in any configuration that is not pump-action or semi-automatic for a home/personal defense weapon. If you are using this piece primarily for hunting or skeet/trap shooting, feel free to explore over/under or side by side break-open type guns. For home/personal defense, one should only purchase a weapon in 12ga. That handles at least 3-inch magnum shells.

Recommendations: This list is obviously biased. Here is the best advice I can give to anyone now looking to buy a gun. If your purpose of buying a gun is because you think you are not going to be able to buy one in the next few years, due to restrictions, then look at buying the “scary” looking guns. Specifically, guns usually three or more of the following: Detachable magazines, flash hider, bayonet lug, pistol grip, carry handle or collapsible stock. Yes, that is everything on an M4/AR-15 and most stuff on an AK and NATO BR as well. So, if you are thinking “fire sale” then run right out and buy one of those.

Keep in mind, that the above mentioned guns are bullet hoses, and eat up ammo at a pretty ridiculous rate. Currently, .308 ammo is running right around .50 per shot, 5.56 is around .30 a shot, and 7.62×39 is about .20 a shot. That being said, .556 and .308 are typically reloadable, non-corrosive ammo, whereas the 7.62×39 is not. If possible future restrictions are what is urging you to buy the firearm, take note that ammunition and reloading supplies are also on the hit list, so stock up now. Also if you believe that you may face a situation in this country where you are on your own, and might be in a position to be pilfering magazines and ammo off the dead/wounded, remember that you will be most likely to get AR-15 ammo and magazines.

One of the best options is what is somewhat referred to as the triple threat. It is a combination of an “assault” rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol.

For the price of a more expensive NATO BR, or even an M1A-M14, one can purchase an AR-15, a solid pump-action shotgun, and a good combat pistol. Such examples are a Remington 870 tactical, which retails for around $300, a berretta M9/92 ($500) and a Bushmaster AR-15 (900). This combination spans all three categories quite well.

Another school of thought is to purchase a handgun and carbine that have interchangeable magazines/ammo, like a Ruger P94 .40 caliber pistol, and a Ruger PC4, .40 caliber tactical carbine. This means one only has to carry one type of ammo, and magazine. Another combo is a Berretta M9 and CX Storm Carbine. These limit any long range shooting, but lessen the burden of multiple cartridges and magazines if one finds themselves on foot for any length of time.

While the idea of an AK or NATO BR seem like the way to go, it is hard to argue with the service record and “bang-for-the-buck” of an AR.

If I was going to go out and start from scratch, I would find a dealer who sellsBushmasterAR’s as a Davidson’s distributor (this option gives a lifetime warranty to the weapon) and purchase an M4 style rifle. I would then buy a Remington 870, and a berretta M9, or Springfield Mil-Spec 1911. I would then purchase at least 1500 rounds for the rifle, 1000 for the pistol, and 500 shells for the shotgun. That would be my base supply (and absolute minimum to have on hand at all times) any shooting done would not be with this ammo. Ammunition, if new or factory reloaded, and stored in a cool, dry place can last for at least five years. Surplus ammo cans can be purchased pretty easily and cheaply, and make great storage.

The 72-hour bag: Also known as a “bug-out bag,” this is a duffel bag, backpack or tote box that is easy to get to and carry. It should contain enough food and clothes to last 72 hours away from the home. Some refer to it as a “go to hell kit” or an “Oh-shit bag.” Aside from food and clothes, it should also have a small but complete first aid kit, binoculars, regional map, any medications needed, at least 100, but preferably 500 dollars, and possibly gold or silver. It is also advisable to have another handgun that one is trained on and familiar with and at least 100 rounds of ammunition in this bag. Make sure it is light enough to carry. Remember, trying to get prepared for an event during the event is like putting on a condom after sex.

Reader “tucosgunwasempty” has an opinion about some rifles. Here is his input:

“Okay, so you wanted my thoughts on guns, more specifically it sounded like you were after my thoughts on things which will likely be banned and also firearms chambered for .308.  Here you go.”

AR10: This can be a good choice.  They are bigger and of course more robust than an AR15/M16/M4 which means that it will be a bit heavier as well.  If one is familiar with the M16 family of weapons then the controls on this are almost identical and there is no learning curve since the manual of arms is the same.  Parts are much more limited than an AR15 for any mods you might want to do and as a result they are also much more expensive.  Try looking for a free-float quad rail for an AR10.  Also magazines are nowhere near as available as they are with the M16 and its derivatives.  What the AR10 does have is .308 power.  It’s a stopper for sure and carries much, much more kinetic energy at much, much greater distances than the 5.56/.223.  The rifle being chambered in .308 combined with the modularity of the AR10 design of an upper and lower receiver means that you can also get uppers in different chamberings within the .308 family of cartridges such as .270 and .243 for a much lower cost than popping for a complete rifle.  I think the biggest supplier of these is

FAL: These certainly have their fans.  This is a solid design in every sense of the word and is popular around the world in countries that were never part of the Warsaw Pact and were never forced to arm themselves with the Kalashnikov.  Also in .308, this thing is big.  Even with the non-NFA minimum of a 16-inch barrel these are big, similar to the AR10 since the length of the .308 cartridge requires a long action and subsequently a long receiver.  There is a fair level of aftermarket accessories for these.  You do have to watch yourself when it comes to any repair parts as recent importation restrictions limit the number of non-US made parts that can be in one of these and you can get yourself into serious trouble even if you inadvertently installed a few metric springs.  I don’t know a whole lot about these, but you can get a lot more information from DSA at

AK: The Avtomat Kalashnikov is popular the world over and I couldn’t disagree more.  My main problem with it is that it is stone-cold butt-ugly.  Sure it’s got a .30-caliber chambering.  Sure there’s tons of aftermarket upgrade stuff.  Sure you can get one cheap (relatively, these days).  Sure they’re still fairly easy to find.  Sure you can get high-capacity magazines for it.  Sure it’s supposed to function flawlessly even if you pour dirt into the action.  But it’s ugly.  I’d rather put a sling on pig’s ass and walk around with that over my shoulder.  Plus, they just do not have the accuracy potential of the AR design or the M1A design, or even the FAL design.   If you put the same amount of time, money, and energy into an AR that it would take to make an AK shoot 1″ at 100 yards, you could shoot a fucking germ a mile away with an AR.  The differences between the AR design and the AK design are interesting from an engineering standpoint and I think that looking at them this way sums up the differences in the two rifles extremely effectively.  The AK was designed to be quickly and cheaply manufactured and then used by large groups with little training in the operation and maintenance of the rifle.  The AR/M16 was designed to be manufactured using (at the time) high-end manufacturing processes and then used by individuals with extensive training in both the operation and maintenance of the rifle.

M1A/M14: This is a well-made, extremely effective design.  It has a robust action and the potential for extreme accuracy with little to no effort.  Out of the box, most models from Springfield Armory can outshoot their owners.  The National Match models have accuracy potential that 99% of the population does not have either the skill or talent to effectivly exploit.  They also don’t have a lot of the features which scare pussies such as pistol grips and folding/collapsing stocks.  This means that sometimes when ban come down the pike the M1A flies under the radar.

There are also a good number of companies that make HK91 knock-offs.  I have no idea which ones, if any, produce quality results.


So there you have it, folks. This is the list as I wrote it a while back when getting asked a lot of the same questions I am getting again lately. Obviously most of this is my opinion and open to interpretation. I hope this helps, or at the very least, opens debate.


Semper Vigilans, Semper Paratus

Zombie Awareness International

Late last year I did something I (and many of you) have done before; I broke the tip off a knife using the blade as a screwdriver. It was my favorite knife: a CRKT M-16.

This review is the result of many hours reading reviews, asking friends what they carried, and going to at least a half dozen stores handling and testing out different knives.

The knife I ended up buying was the Kershaw Select Fire.

This knife also has a full sized driver set built into the handle. It accepts all ¼ inch driver bits and also has built in magnetic holders for 4 bits in the handle.

The knife may be too large for small hands with a 3 3/8 inch blade. Closed it is almost 5 inches long, and is on the heaver side due to the handle being a glass filled nylon.

Kershaw has used a lesser known type of steel called 8CR13MoV. With a slightly higher carbon content than AUS-8 steel it falls between 440b and 440c making a very hard blade that can keep an edge.

I usually hate gimmicky knives but this one fits all of my needs exactly. The driver is big enough to be useful in most applications, the blade is high quality and the handle fits nicely in my hand.

Thanks to Kershaw for making awesome knives.