Archive for the ‘Survival’ Category

Don’t Be A Jerk

Posted: 2012/08/20 in Survival, Tactical
Tags: ,

You know how we feel about lone wolves. You know the type. They are people who think they are better off without the help of anyone else, especially in a survival situation. They think they know everything because they did a stint or three in the military and can field strip a rifle, they were in the boy scouts and know how to tie every knot in the book, or they watch The Walking Dead and have read every survival blog on the internet. But how well will they really do if they treat others like they are better than everyone else?

Telling others that they are stupid for doing something differently than the way you would do something is the quick path to finding yourself alone in a survival situation. It won’t make people treat you like a leader and follow you for your endless wisdom. It will make people despise you because you are a jerk. Leadership does not mean that you bark commands and expect people to jump, especially since survival is not the same thing as being in the military, and if your neighbors don’t really know you, they will not know what kind of knowledge you have. Leading by example means putting your neck out for others. Treating people with respect and courtesy will get you a long way. There is a reason why grace is considered a virtue.

When you begin to run out of water or food or ammo that your neighbor happens to have, will they be willing to give it to you because they know you would do the same for them? Or will they see you as a tyrant who they would rather see zombies munching on your flesh?

Here is my advice to you: don’t be a jerk. Don’t tell people they are stupid because they disagree with you, or even if they really don’t know what they are talking about. Correct misinformation with kindness. Show, rather than tell, others how to do things correctly. People will be grateful to you when you help extend their lives or make their lives better. People will slam the door in your face when you come across as arrogant or as a bully. Lend a hand when the opportunity arises. That way when you need a hand in return there will be others who willingly give it.

– Tim


Zombie Awareness International is proud to announce our first sponsorship.

A few months ago, we were approached by ZAI member David Marchbanks, asking if we could sponsor he and his friend Cameron Scholz for the Garmin Marathon in the Land of OZ, in Olathe, Kansas.

After speaking with them about their plans and what they had in mind, we agreed to sponsor them, and sent them a couple “ZAI Marathon Team” T-shirts.

It goes without saying that physical fitness is important no matter what, but will be paramount during the Zpoc, and these guys are getting ready. Here is some info on the guys. We are proud to call them ZAI members, and happy to support a couple guys who are dedicated to fitness in prep of the Zpoc, and who stick together when things get rough.


Cameron Scholz


Overland Park, Kansas/Pittsburg State University

Why ZAI for a sponsor?

Thought it was a cool group and what better group to sponsor a Marathon team than a Zombie Awareness Organization.

Is this your first marathon?

This is my first Marathon.

What have you been doing to train?

A lot of running (5 mile runs) and cardio activities (3 hours of soccer with my friends)

Why is fitness important to preparedness?

Obviously being fit is crucial. It is after all survival of the fittest.

Future marathon/event plans?

Definitely running the Oz Marathon next year. This year the goal is to finish next year it is to finish with a good time. Also we will probably find some 5ks and/or other marathons to run between now and then.


David Marchbanks


Overland Park, KS

Why ZAI for a sponsor?

Zombies are an interest of mine and i really like the group and how it is run, interesting.

Is this your first marathon?


What have you been doing to train?

Running daily, about 5-7 miles a day.

Why is fitness important to preparedness?

Whether it be staying on the move to get to a new campsite or running from zombies fitness will be vital during the ZPoc.

Future marathon/event plans?

I plan on running the OZ Marathon again next year.

Scholz ran the marathon in 6:04:55.90, and Marchbanks ran the marathon in 6:04:55.84, which turns out to be just under a 14 minute mile for the 26.2, and it also means like true battle buddies, they stuck together, which aside from running away from Zombies might just be the most important part of surviving the Zpoc. Marchbanks had some Achilles/tendon issues around mile 14, which slowed them down quite a bit, but like true ZAI peeps, they stuck together and pushed through it.

They said they got pretty positive feedback on the ZAI gear they wore during the run, which hopefully is enough to reach a few folks and get them thinking about the Zpoc.



Here are some photos of them representing:

Here they are with their shirts fresh out of the mailbox.

Scholz and Marchbanks sporting ZAI "Marathon Team" shirts getting ready for a little 26.2 mile jaunt.

Marchbanks and Scholz doing their thing on the marathon.

Scholz and Marchbanks crossing the finish line together after 6 hours of running. They stuck it out, kept moving and stayed together. Key components in a Zpoc survival situation. Great job guys!

This is a guest submission from Alan on the use of radios for communication after an apocalyptic event.

One of the technologies that we take for granted is the interlaced global communications satellites. As a benefit of a massive government investment in the 1960s space race you now have the ability to have a cell phone, satellite television, and GPS to show you how to get from point A to point B. All good, but what happens if those satellites no longer function?

Massive solar storms have the potential to damage satellites to burned out hulks of mechanical and electrical components. Should we be the target of an invasion from outer space, the first order of business would be to take out our “eyes”. In the case of zombies you would probably be too busy avoiding having your brains eaten.

How would you communicate in the event of an apocalyptic event? Are there means at your disposal to coordinate with fellow survivors? The answer to that is yes.

Garmin walkie talkie with GPS

One of the items that readily available is the simple walkie talkie. Many electronics stores sell these in a wide variety of styles and ease of use. Many outdoors stores sell these even with GPS built in…for a price. There are several services that fall under this category that require no license to those that do require them. The problem with these is that they often are of very low power and only have the capabilities to communicate short distances. They are also fixed on channelized frequencies that require some skill to modify (which is a violation of FCC rules). They also require a charger to convert 120volts AC to the appropiate voltage DC to operate. Some models only require a couple of batteries and an even greater sacrifice of power. If the function is for survival I would probably avoid this method.

Cobra CB Radio

Another option is the traditional CB radio. These come in a variety of quality. The advantage of CB is that they operate in the 11 meter band which is down in the upper end of what is called the High Frequency range. They are capable of skipping some distance but it is generally unreliable as a general rule. These are generally mobile and can even be operated as a base station with power from a simple car battery. One downfall is that these radios also have channelized frequencies. While you can modify these, it is once again against FCC rules unless you are doing so to work them into the 10meter Ham band and have an FCC license. This is not the most efficient use however.

The next form of communication is to go ahead and get a Ham license. The entry level is the Technician Class and can be obtained relatively easy. This license allows radio priveledges in the VHF (Very High Frequencies) UHF (Ultra High Frequencies) and SHF (Super High Frequencies or more commonly the microwave bands). Many use walkie talkie type units the operate in the 2meter band although you can get them in multiple bands. I own one that allows 4 different tansmitting bands and has general receiving capabilities that include AM, FM, TV, Marine, Air, and commerical frequencies up to 900 MHZ with cell phone frequencies blocked. These bands are generally line of site with the use of repeaters placed in strategic places to retransmit the signal or repeat. The repeater splits the signal by receiving on one frequency and transmitting on another. Modern radios has these splits programmed in and allow modification if a local group chooses to do so. With repeaters here in the Portland metro area I have the capability with low power to talk to people in SW Washington, south to Salem and into the east county metro area. Because there are hills between me and Beaverton I can hear their signals but I cannot transmit into the repeater from my location. The radios are also capable of point to point single frequency transmit and receive but again, you must be in the “line of sight”. Certainly usable in emergencies. A test of simple basic electronics, a simple understanding of radio theory, safety, and FCC rules and at one time $12 would net you a Technician Class FCC license.

With Ham radios, you can start small and work your way up.

If you are really looking for long distance and fairly reliable communication the recommended the next step up and test for the General Class license. This license allows numerous radio frequencies along with those of the Technician Class. The plus factor is access to High Frequency bands with much higher power that allows worldwide communication without the use of repeaters or satellites. There are commercially available radios that can operate off a simple car battery with excellent results. This license can be obtained by knowing and understanding more advanced electronics, and radio theory. Communication can even include teletype, slow scan television (within allowed frequencies), and even digital data modes. Far more bang for your buck.

While the notion that learning electronics and radio theory seems daunting, it is accessable to anyone. The national organization that represents the Amateur Radio hobby is the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) in Connecticut. They have available for purchase study guides with test questions. Test questions come from a predetermined pool. Each individual test will include several questions from each section of the pool. Morse code is no longer required, but can be learned after obtaining a license and there are study materials even for that. Morse code is handy during periods of high noise or low power and allow a signal to penetrate through the muck when other modes just won’t get the job done.

The bottom line is that there is not need to fear communicating in the event of apocalypse. A little preperation beforehand will yeald satisfactory reults. You can even build gear out of old parts. In high school we wound coils of wire around toilet paper rolls to build transmitters on a piece of wood.

– Alan

Alan is a Vietnam veteran with a Technician Class license working on his General license whose father was a Navy radioman and toyed with electronics and radios his whole life. Alan is also Tim’s dad, but don’t hold that against him.

You may think that this is you during the Zombie Apocalypse

But in reality, it would look more like this

This weekend, over on the ZAI Facebook page, we did a recall drill, where we asked all our members to check in with their location and status. We ended up with just shy of 300 members (almost 10%) sounding off. While we would have liked to have seen all 3200 members check in, we were happy with the results.

This wasn’t just a drill to boost our page traffic (well, not entirely,) but it was also to allow our members to see where one another are located – and hopefully, reach out to other members in their area.

While we see a whole lot of “No way, I’m going to kill everyone I come across and strike out on my own,” type comments on our page, we at Zombie Awareness International would like to think that we can help people realize that if you are going to go it alone, you may as well just put steel to your temple and paint the wall with your brains at the first sign of the walking dead, which of course would take all the fun out of the Zpocalypse.

One of the things we are about at ZAI, is surviving the Zpoc. Part of surviving isn’t just running around on the lam all the time, hoping that you won’t get your toes nibbled on by flesh eating ghouls, while trying to catch some sleep. It is about living through the outbreak, fighting back, and rebuilding some semblance of society. Say what you will about governments, people, or society as a whole, it is still the best way to live. While it might be romantic or exciting to think about living in an older era where you have to catch your food, build your house with your hands, and chop wood ala Grizzly Adams, it isn’t exactly any kind of life.

What we propose, is that you evaluate your true self, your real motivation for prepping, your shortcomings and decide how you can improve. Talk to your neighbors. Don’t run to Mrs. Jones at the mailbox and tell her that the dead will rise and you need her to tell you what she has in her pantry and where Mr. Jones keeps his gun. But get to know who lives near you. You never know, your next door neighbor might just be able to bring a lot to the table in a disaster. Start off light. Discuss recent news about disasters and gently breach the subject of preparedness. Eventually, you might be able to work into developing a reaction plan.

Like the infantry guys say, “One is none, two is one.”

When you allow others to help you, you don’t have to worry about who’s got your back. (U.S. Army Photo)

Don’t isolate yourself. Of course, protect yourself (I personally operate off the mantra, “Be polite, be vigilant, and be prepared to kill.”) But if you run alone for the hills at the first sign of trouble, think you are going to kill everyone you come across, or board up your house and climb out in two years to utopia, you are a moron.

As my wife put it, “I say if you don’t find a way out, just eat the licorice within 2 months. What are you gonna do? Live your whole life in fear of getting eaten? Who knows when they’re going to find a cure or eradicate all the walking undead. I had this discussion with some of my interpreters from Afghanistan. One day, they informed me that one of the government officials had been killed by Taliban on his way home from work. I asked them one simple question: ‘How do you live like this?’ And at the time of Zpoc, that question would inevitably be turned on myself: ‘How can I live like this? I can’t walk around whenever/wherever I want to. I have limited rations and supplies. This is no environment to be free anymore.’ I figure life isn’t worth living at that point. What if you had to live in the Zpoc for YEARS??? Yea. Not so much.”

We urge you to get involved. Find opportunities in your community to help out. I’m not suggesting you run out and become a Boy Scout leader, or run for mayor – but find out what opportunities and training are available in your area to help out in the event of disaster. You will probably find like-minded people, who can help you out when SHTF.

Of course, when we close our eyes and picture ourselves in The Matrix, we don’t need help. We are all natural leaders and tactical experts. But when reality kicks in, and the water is coming in over the windows, the foundation just split in two from an earthquake, the wildfire is peeling the paint from the siding, the roof just collapsed under tons of snow, the government is setting up checkpoints and curfews – or simply – the hordes of the walking dead are shuffling up your driveway, you are going to need all the help you can get.

So, far be it from us to tell you what to do. Feel free to put your coolest shades on, pull up your digi-cam pants from the “geardo” catalog and put your nunchucks in your pocket, but Zombie Awareness International will be taking a stand beside our neighbors, communities and countries to roll our sleeves up and get to work taking back our land and rebuilding our world.

Get together with like minded people, identify strengths and build a team!


Zombie Awareness International

So many gun choices, so little time. Make sure you think logically about your gun purchases.

Welcome back Survivors,

We all realize that we need weapons for the ZPoc. Even the most hardcore melee expert among us must recognize that a distance fight with overwhelming numbers is a better option than muscle fatigue before death. Therefore we use the most advanced tool allotted to us: the firearm. No history lesson, no uppity garbage. Straight to business.

We need to be very prudent with our selections. Unless you have money to literally burn then you’re like me. So cost is an object. We’re going to look at economical and versatile weapons that will fit our needs.

Ruger 10/22
Up first is the Ruger 10/22. This rifle is affordable and has almost as many aftermarket parts as the 90’s Honda Civics! If you don’t like the standard rifle configuration you can buy an Archangel conversion kit (complete with bayonet). A .22 caliber rifle is so versatile it would take days to list all its attributes, but for us it means we have a ton of lightweight ammo for a weapon that is lightweight and reliable. The most attractive aspect of this rifle is its price. You can pick up a Ruger 10/22 for around $200.

The Ruger 10/22 carbine. Quite possibly one of the greatest guns ever built.




A good way for you to contribute to ZAI is give us a good range report on it, its weight, its capacity to weight ratio, and its accuracy! You don’t have to be a prize winner to contribute. Just be honest!

The Conversion kit
Many of us have AR style rifles. Quick note: AR does not stand for Assault Rifle. It stands for Armalite Rifle. Assault rifles fire multiple bullets with a single squeeze of the trigger. Don’t be drawn into that tired argument.

The .22 conversion for the AR rifle is a drop-in bolt and a magazine designed for the .22 long rifle shells. I recommend the CMMG conversion kit for price, but I will not recommend their magazines. Buy Blackdog magazines for your conversion.

This lightweight kit adds an additional tool to your arsenal. The ability to swap over to the .22 on the fly will give you more capabilities and an abundance of ammo for little weight. It also utilizes your primary weapon so there is no adjustment to reloading, sights, or fundamental manipulations. Excellent for training on a budget as well. I highly recommend it!

The Kel Tec Sub 2000 series
Pistol carbines are a great idea. Accuracy and precision chamber for your secondary weapon. They also make them in a lot of popular magazine patterns and calibers. Being able to have the same ammo for both your pistol and your carbine is outstanding for close in urban work. It also saves on weight because you use the same magazines as your pistol.

One consideration for a Zpoc gun is one that uses the same caliber and magazines as your sidearm.

The rifle conveniently folds for transpiration and storage, which is critical if you need to move quickly. Ideally, weapons of this nature show their versatility simply by being themselves. They give the user a lot of options for an excellent price.

These are just a few things for you to consider when buying your weapons. More soon.

I’m Zom TAC and this is something for you to consider.
Stay alert, stay alive.


Ed. Note; A while back we posted an article about buying a gun. Zom TAC has taken this a bit further and added some other considerations. Tell us what you think in the comments! -Eric ZAI.

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



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

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

Survival Tip of the Day brought to you by Kershaw.

In a survival situation you must be prepared for an injury or medical problem. You might suffer a minor cut or scrape, but without proper treatment that cut could become a much bigger problem. Store bought first aid kits are available, but here are some essential items to help you assemble your own custom basic first aid kit.

  • Adhesive Bandages: Use these to keep small cuts and blisters covered and clean. Infection is the enemy, especially with zombie infection.
  • Bandages: These are useful for a variety of purposes, from keeping dressings in place and binding wounds closed to tying up broken limbs to prevent further damage.
  • Gauze Padding: Gauze pads absorb blood and keep wounds clean while they heal.
  • Safety Pins: Can be used to secure bandages and as temporary sutures.
  • Painkillers: Can help you get through difficult times. Should be saved for when you really need them most.
  • Scissors: A useful tool. You should buy a high-quality pair with a blunt nose if stored in a first aid kit. Can be substituted with a good knife. We recommend Kershaw and Zero Tolerance Knives.
  • Antiseptic: Antiseptic wipes are good for cleaning wounds, and cream will prevent infection and help heal minor wounds.
  • Corn Pads: You may laugh, but when it comes to blisters and other foot problems you’ll be thanking me.
  • Large Triangular Bandage: Can be used to make a sling, for supporting a broken arm, or as a bandage.

Thanks again to Kershaw. You can find Kershaw and Zero Tolerance Knives on Facebook.

– Tim