Why we stockpile ammo

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Why do we (and by we, I mean me and those that think like me) stockpile large amounts of ammo when history has shown that in the average crisis the armed civilian seldom fires more than a few rounds?

Economy – One box of ammo is more expensive per box than 100 boxes of ammo. Im on a tight budget so if I can get my ammo for 30% less than what it normally costs you can bet Im going to do just that.

Readiness – Once I have those cases of ammo socked away I am done with my purchasing and can move on to other things. If I see on the news that trouble is approaching I can focus on other things instead of standing in line at the gun shop trying to buy ammo.

Logistical support – If, for whatever reason, my close friends need ammo I’m in a position to help them which equates with helping myself. If my friends are as well off as I am then we’re in a good position to help each other as needed. And if, through some bizarre circumstance, I need ammo I know they have enough to help me out and get me taken care of.

Availability – Good luck buying ammo an hour after the disaster starts. Even when there’s no disaster brewing you can sometimes have a hell of a time getting ammo. The current market situation is such that when you can find ammo in the calibers you want its rather expensive. And that’s when there’s no law restricting your purchasing. Factor in the possibility of some new law prohibiting or restricting purchases and you can see that it’s a good idea to have as much as you can as early as you can.

Pre-positioning/staging – Take my word for it, 10,000 rounds of ammo takes up a bit of space and is bloody heavy…you might be able to carry a case of 1000 in each hand but won’t go far and you won’t go fast. If you’re plan is to leave Point A and head to Point B when the wheels fly off of civilization you’d probably want to keep half your stash at each location. Why half? Because a lot of times things don’t go the way we’d like and you may be stuck at Point A for a good while…in which case you’ll probably want the ammo.

Barter – This comes up and creates friction when it does. Some people argue that given the uncertain and possibly violent intent of strangers why would you give them ammo? Theres a bit of logic to that. If the Hells Angels wanted to trade me MRE’s for .45 ACP ammo I’d probably say ‘sorry, all gone’. If the guy I recognize as the checker from the local supermarket asked for a box of 9mms in exchange for a case of cereal, then yeah, it’ll work.

Profit – This is an angle I do not pursue because I don’t store preparedness items with an eye towards reselling them later. (Although maybe I should start.) However, if you have the money to lay in a pallet worth of cheap 7.62 ammo then maybe in a few years you can sell some at a high markup to finance other preparedness purchases. I don’t have enough money to buy ‘enough’ ammo so buying ‘investment’ ammo is not in the cards for me…but maybe it is for you. Good luck.

.22 ammo – Ammo for the .22 (or really, any rimfire ammo) is virtually impossible to reload. (Yes, it can be done but it requires huge amounts of time and technique as well as amateur chemistry.) Fortunately, twenty bucks will get you about a thousand rounds at most WalMarts. And since pretty much everyone has a .22, if you decide that bartering ammo is possible you’ll get your broadest customer base in the .22 shooters.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, theres the inclination to label someone as a ‘whacko’ or ‘paranoid freak’ when it’s discovered that they had 20,000 rounds of ammo stashed away in the garage or basement. And maybe it’s the fear of being labeled as an ‘extremist’ that prevents some of us from doing the smart thing and stocking up on ammo. “Why do you need 10,000 rounds of ammo?” is the refrain we’re most likely to hear. So, as listed above, theres your reasons. As you can see, its not unreasonable to have quantities of ammo that’s measured by the thousand.

That ammo is totally worthless, by the way, if you just stick it somewhere and five years later you find the cardboard boxes damp, musty, rodent-chewed, and green stuff growing on the brass cases and oxidized lead forming on the bullets. If you’re going to spend resources on acquiring ammo, store it properly. The best container is, surprise, surprise, the military ammo can. These things come in several sizes and I guarantee that if you cant find the size you need you simply haven’t looked hard enough. The most common are the “.30 cal” and “.50 cal” cans. A .50 can will hold a little less than 1000 rounds of Wolf 7.62×39 in 20 rd. boxes (actually it’ll hold around 880 rounds). These ammo cans are the best way to store your ammo. It keeps the ammo dry, protected, and makes it man-portable. You can grab an ammo can, throw it in the back of the truck and go with no concern about the ammo getting snowed or rained on.

If you’re like me, you reload your own ammo to supplement your stash. Loosepacked ammo lets you stuff more in an ammo can but its awkward for distributing or grabbing a small amount. Spend the money and get yourself some 50 or 100 round plastic ammo boxes and package your reloads in them. Bought in quantity they are less than a buck each and they are reusable. They’ll stack nicely in a .50 can and then you can just crack the can open, grab one or two boxes, close it up, and be good to go.

The coming year

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Hey, how’d your Christmas go? Mine was good…got some usefull stuff. Let’s see, I got a very nice Dewey cleaning rod for keeping my .308 boltgun clean, a really nice flashlight ustilizing a CREE LED module that throws a humongous amount of light…very impressive, a Filson wool vest (I’ve been wanting a vest and one of their Double Mackinaw Cruiser coats for a while…maybe next year on the coat), and a few other odds and ends.

Everyones thoughts run towards gifts…right up until December 26th. Then they start thinking of New Years resolution. I never do any because I figure if I really want to make a change why would I wait until January first instead of starting them immediately? However, theres a certain tidiness to starting new habits on the same day you start a new calendar. My only resolution for 2008 is to work more and try like hell to get money in the bank. Everything else that might be a good idea I am probably already doing.

Whats 2008 look like from this side of the fence? Well, there is absolutely no doubt that its going to be an interesting year. That’s interesting as in the Chinese curse about ‘may you live in interesting times’. Theres quite a few things going on in 2008…the biggest being the elections in November. However, theres still fallout from the housing bubble collapse, the war in the middle east, the upcoming Supreme Court decision on firearms, fuel and food prices continuing to rise, etc, etc. In short, theres no reason to think 2008 may be better than 2007 and a few reasons to think it may be worse.

So whats a poor paranoiac like myself to do? Keep on keeping on, I reckon. Continue to play it cautious. Continue socking away food and ammo. Continue keeping the luxuries to a minimum. Stay the course and remain wary. Does that sort of attitude diminish my enjoyment of life? Not at all…it enhances it. It allows me to feel more secure than if I weren’t keeping one eye on which way the wind blows.

If someone were to say to me “Zero, in addition to being a fabulously handsome guy you seem to have a few good ideas. What should I be doing in 2008 to maximize my personal security and safety?” Glad you asked.

First, make every effort to make/save more money. Not because you want to have it sit in the bank and slowly devalue but because you want to have money available for purchasing the things that you’re going to need to give you an advantage. By and large, money is the ultimate multitool. It heats buildings, fixes your car, puts food in the fridge, gives you clean laundry, and keeps the lights on… having a bunch of it tucked away is always a good idea. In a true societal collapse it may not be useful (although it might be) but it’ll be damn useful leading right up to it.

Start socking away food when its on sale. Food prices are going up. If theres a food you like that has a long shelf life and you have the opportunity to buy it in large quantities at sale prices why wouldn’t you? You know its going to cost more later so why would you wait to buy it when the price is higher? Buy/build a nice set of shelves somewhere and start reading those little flyers in the doorway to the supermarket that tell you whats on sale that week. Buy stuff you normally eat. If your favorite canned soup is normally $2.00 but its on sale for $0.75 why wouldn’t you stock up? Ten cans is $12.50 that you can funnel into other needs. It really is like money in your pocket.

Elections are coming up and none of the likely outcomes look happy. If you don’t have yourself an ‘assault rifle’ buy one now. Own a good pistol? Buy another. If you have an ‘assault rifle’ or ‘high capacity semiauto’ buy as many magazines as you can afford. Think you’re good to go on mags and guns? Then buy more ammo. At the rate metal prices are going up you will not see ammo costing less than it does right now…at least not for a good while. Even if all you have is a Ruger 10/22 buy yourself as many Butler Creek mags as you can afford and at least a couple zillion $10 bricks of ammo. Not because it’ll cost more in the future (although it will) but because you may not be able to get it at all.

Whittling away and removing debt would be nice. If things go south and your job vanishes it’ll be nice to be able to channel what resources you have into things like mortgage, food and utilities rather than $500 to Visa every month. Only you know what you really can and cannot live without in terms of cutting back on luxuries. Eating out twice a week is nice but cutting it back to once a week or less can add up in a hurry, etc, etc.

Keep on top of the news. Forewarned really is forearmed. You need to know if theres a forecast for a severe weather situation, if armies somewhere have been moved to some contested border, if some nutjob shot up a shopping mall in a neighboring state, if your local industry giant is announcing layoffs, etc, etc. You don’t have to live with a newsfeed piped into your earpiece but you should at least check the news in the morning before work and in the evening before bed.

These, my friends, are the first things that spring to mind were someone to ask me what they should do for 2008. You don’t even have to do all of them. Just one of them would be enough to put you ahead of the sheep. Im no expert, you may have better ideas and they may be right…Im just giving you my two cents worth. However, I think that any and all of the previously mentioned ideas might prove to have some merit in the upcoming year.

Arfcom secret santa

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I lurk around on the various preparedness forums and usually only post sporadically because I never really have time to follow threads and keep track of them. However, over on ar15.com they were having a little secret Santa action going on and I decided to sign up. I was given a name and someone else was given mine. So, the person I receive from is not the same I give to. So..what did I get? I got a number of extremely cool and useful medical supplies:

Medical Gift

What sorta stuff? Gauze, laceration tray, scalpel, skin stapler, etc, etc. All the cool stuff that should prove to be exceptionally useful. My thanks to odontia32m at arfcom and best wishes for a good holiday.

Nalgene bottle problems

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Polycarbonate bottle raises questions

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Catching his breath at a fitness club, Matt McHugh took a gulp of water from his trusty, hard-plastic Nalgene bottle and pondered the idea of switching to an alternative made of glass, stainless steel or another kind of plastic.

Worries about a hormone-mimicking chemical used in the trendy sports accessory led a major Canadian retailer to remove Nalgene and other polycarbonate plastic containers from store shelves in early December.
Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op is waiting for Canadian health regulators to finish a preliminary review in May before it reconsiders restocking its 11 stores with the reusable, transparent bottles made with bisphenol A, or BPA, a compound created by a Russian chemist in 1891.

There is little dispute that the chemical can disrupt the hormonal system, but scientists differ markedly on whether very low doses found in food and beverage containers can be harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sides with the plastics industry that BPA-based products do not pose a health risk.

However, an expert panel of researchers reported at a U.S. government conference that the potential for BPA to affect human health is a concern, and more research is needed. The panel cited evidence that Americans have levels of BPA higher than those found to cause harm in lab animals.

Well thats just great. One of my favorite pieces of gear and it may be trying to kill me. Sure there are stainless and aluminum bottles out there but I will bet you money that they cannnot take the brutal abuse I can inflict upon my Nalgene bottle.

Nah, I’m sticking with my Nalgene bottle. The risk associated with it is worth it for its reliability and durability. Whats next? CamelBack reservoirs ccontain PCB’s?


Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Dammit, I had a post brewing about this and sure enough here comes the news I was wondering when we were going to see:

Unpaid Credit Cards bedevil Americans

An Associated Press analysis of financial data from the country’s largest card issuers also found that the greatest rise was among accounts more than 90 days in arrears.

Experts say these signs of the deterioration of finances of many households are partly a byproduct of the subprime mortgage crisis and could spell more trouble ahead for an already sputtering economy.

“Debt eventually leaks into other areas, whether it starts with the mortgage and goes to the credit card or vice versa,” said Cliff Tan, a visiting scholar at Stanford University and an expert on credit risk. “We’re starting to see leaks now.”

Well who the heck is surprised by this? “Hmmm…pay the VISA bill and lose my house or pay my mortgage and blow off VISA…decisions, decisions.” No brainer…people are going to circle the wagons and pay the mortgage rather than lose their homes. Next up – auto loans. You watch, those are gonna be next. And as the housing industry gets shaken up with construction businesses going under youre going to see that sort of effect carried into other parts of the economy as the ripples from the housing industry spread out.
Credit card debt is, I believe, ‘bought’ like mortgage debt so who ever is holding the note on all that debt may be in for a nasty surprise. I think the only ‘winners’ to come out of all of this are going to be people who kept a calm head, lived within their means and have a few bucks to spend. Who knows, in a few years (or less) you may be able to buy real estate, cars and other big ticket items at some very good prices. What I see in the news says that foreclosure sales are being attended with alot less interest than one would think…meaning that perhaps those people with a yen (so to speak) to invest arent convinced that prices will go down even further.

Theres opportunity in everything and Im sure theres opportunities here for those who are careful and have money. Unfortunately, that aint me.

I’m quite glad Im a pessimist. When I got my mortgage a few years ago the guy said to me “We can give you this rate or we can go with an adjustable rate mortgage.”
“Well, thats definitely a better rate…”
Yup, it’ll save you $[xxx.xx] a month over this other rate.
“But that rate could change, right? My monthly payment could go up?”
Yes, but it could also go down.
“Not a chance. I’ll take the hgher fixed rate.”

I may be economically ignorant but I knew that I could afford $X dollars a month. No more. So I paid a higher rate but assured myself that my monthly payments would pretty much remain the same. Now I pat myself on the back for being paranoid and pessimistic enough to have taken the safe route.


Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I was reading about the ice storms in the Midwest and the article said that many people were short of supplies…even those who had ‘stocked up’ before the storm. The article said that people who went to the grocery and stocked up on food found themselves in a bad way when the power went off and their refrigerators/freezers went dead and the food started to spoil.

First off, if you know theres an event coming that is so bad that you need to run to the grocery and stock up doesn’t it seem logical to infer that event will also knock out your power? So doesn’t it follow that buying foods that require refrigeration/freezing may be counterproductive?

Secondly, the event in question is an ice storm. An ice storm. ICE. Take the meat out of the freezer and stick it out on the porch where the ice is. Even if it isn’t enough to keep it frozen it’ll sure as hell keep it from spoiling for a few more days. Heck, theres days here in Montana where the temperature in my freezer is actually warmer than the temperature outside.

The girlfriend, who grew up in North Carolina, jokes about how if theres a hurricane the response is to immediately stock up on bread and milk. Now Im starting to wonder what the point of stocking up on milk is when you know bloody well your refrigerator is going to very likely lose power. And, really, bread? For what? I have never seen footage of refugees and survivors huddleds around campfires eating toast. The lesson here, I think, is that if you’re going to stock up before a big event use your head and don’t buy something that needs refrigeration.

Speaking of not requiring a fridge, I finally found Parmalat whole milk at my local WallyWorld. If you’re not familiar with it, Parmalat is what I generically call ‘shelf milk’. It is regular whole milk packaged in such a manner that the unopened package requires no refrigeration. It comes in a ‘juice box’ container like chicken stock and you just put it away in your cupboard shelf until you need it. Once opened you’ll need to refrigerate it but until then…nope. Date on the package puts the shelf life at four to six weeks. However, we all know those ‘use by’ dates can be a bit conservative.

Expensive? Not hugely but it does cost about twice as much as an equal amount of ‘regular’ milk. The advantage, however, is tremendous. You buy it a few days before the hurricane and if power is still out in four weeks you can still have milk with your breakfast cereal. I like to keep the stuff onhand for cooking purposes. I normally don’t drink enough milk to finish a quart before it goes bad, so its nice to have some in the cabinets for when I need it.

How do they make the stuff? UHT processing. Read about it here. Fairly common overseas, Im told. Its interesting to note that more and more stuff in the market is being packaged using these ‘no refrigeration required’ methods. Very convenient for those of us who want to keep extra food on hand. I want to say it’s a trickle-down benefit from the development and manufacture of MRE’s but in actuality its probably a lot less glamorous. Economy of storage and shipping is probably the bigger motivator.

Powdered milk is always an option but the most common is lowfat milk which makes sense from a preservation standard (keeps longer than whole) but, to me, tastes horrible. There is powdered whole milk (Nestle’s Nido springs to mind…usually found in either the baking section or the ‘ethnic/Mexican’ section of the supermarket) which has a shorter shelf life but does a more palatable job (to me) in passing for milk.

The powdered milk has an advantage for storage since it can be had in #10 cans from various retailers. The UHT packaged milk is, as far as I know, only (commonly) available in the foil ‘juice box’ containers which may or may not hold up well in terms of longer-term storage. It would be interesting to see if freezing the UHT milk would negate the shelf life requirements. By this I mean could you keep it in your freezer for six months and then when the power goes out, have it thaw and still be safe for room temperature storage. I would imagine that the freezing process would cause the fat to separate out and the resultant thawing wouldn’t allow you to ‘recombine’ the whole thing. Im curious, but not enough to bother experimenting with it.

Several ‘survival’ oriented food storage books (Making The Best of Basics, for example) tell how to make yogurts and cheeses from stored milk so, to paraphrase Anita Bryant “Its not just for breakfast anymore”.

In addition to mixing it with your corn flakes, powdered milk can be mixed with various fruit ‘flours’ (taking dehydrated or FD fruit and running it through a blender to make a powder of ‘flour’ out of it) or beverage mixes to create nutritionally rich smoothies and drinks. I recall reading somewhere about mixing powdered milk and Tang to create an ‘orange creamsicle’ kind of drink. Haven’t tried it (‘cause I hate that lowfat powdered milk) but I might have to give it a shot with some Nido.

So, if you imagine a circumstance where you just gotta have milk theres a couple options for you. I would imagine this is more important to people with kids than to most adults, but there you have it. You don’t necessarily have to have a cow in order to have milk after the power goes out, although in the very long term it would probably prove handy.

This reminds me, I received Mountain House’s 2008 product info and theres a couple additions – #10 cans of FD strawberries, and #10 cans of FD banana slices. If theres enough interest I may put together a #10 can group buy in a few months…depends on the interest.

Gun show, links

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Went to the Hamilton gun show today. Nothing really jumped out at me. AR mag prices seem to have come down. In bulk, military contract 30-rd mags were about $10. Ammo was still high. Lucked into a guy selling big boxes ‘o bullets. The Kiwi and I snagged 2000 .30 147 gr. FMJBT w/ cann. for $75/1000….a very nice savings. I also saw the only sporterized G43 I have ever seen. It was hideous. Also saw some guy selling a “sniper” Springfield 1903A4….except it had a front sight (hmmm….werent they all made without front sights?), had the serial number and maker data in the wrong place (hey , werent they made so the scope base wouldnt obscure them?) and had a very non-military base (Wow, I didnt know Redfield made a nice blued one piece base like that way back when!). In short it was everything I could do to not ask the guy if he really knew what he was talking about. Sad thing is some idiot will come along and give him a couple grand for that abortion.

But, more importantly, I got a good deal on bullets and can start putting some .308 ammo away for that rainy decade.


Misc. links:

A survival blog that seems to have gone nowhere: http://survivaleky.blogspot.com/

More of the same: http://www.backpackfever.com/

Interesting files from an odd website: http://thedisease.net/?ejaculate=library

Practical Preparedness: http://practicalpreps.com/forums3/

More than I ever wanted to know about making lanyards: http://stormdrane.blogspot.com/

Preparedness discussion forum: http://www.whenshtf.com/

Good grief, Kurt Saxon hasnt blown himself up yet? http://www.survivalplus.com/

An to round out the list: ,Rawles’ Survivalblog