Gear – Estwing tomahawk

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Tomahawks are one of those niche specialty pieces of gear that either make you a forward-thinking outside-the-box kinda guy or show you to be far too immersed in zombie movies for your own good.

I’ll ignore the utility, practicality, likelihood of need, and a few other criteria about why you would want a tomahawk and instead simply link to the bloody things:


Nylon Vinyl Shock Reduction Grip®

American-made Black Eagle Tomahawk Axes are designed for sportsmen and military professionals. The lightweight design makes it easy to carry and with Estwing’s Shock Reduction Grip for comfort and durability. Black Eagle tools are perfectly balanced and weighted, and made to last. American forged in one piece out of genuine American steel.

Estwing makes some nice stuff and I really like the all-metal construction. However, I would imagine that when the apocalypse happens and youre knee-deep in the middle of it, your needs for a chopping implement are more along the lines of cutting cable, chopping debris, busting windows, prying doorjambs and that sort of thing rather than getting your Daryl Dixon on and opening up zombie brainpans. To that end, I found this interesting link over at Zombie Squad: Converting an Estwing into a Tactical Tomahawk.

Nice looking and probably a bit sturdier than the other model.

On the other hand, if youre looking for a tomahawk for getting all Mel Gibson-y on some Redcoats, well the lighter, newer, version is probably a better choice to keep from tiring out quickly as you hack through someones vertebra.

I do find that a very small hatchet or ‘pack axe’ can be handy in the boonies when out hunting or what not. Gerber makes some very lightweight stuff, but I’m rather taken with this Swedish one: Mini-Hatchet… expensive, but I like to think that in this case it’s a reflection of the quality of the product. This would be a nice one to have in my pack for disassembling deer.

Anyway, I figured some of you might find the recent addition to Estwing’s product line interesting and figured I’d share. Big shout-out to my buddy on Facebook who pointed me in the direction of this new offering from Estwing.

Those “I have a friend…” warnings

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

He said “let me give you a tip, and take this seriously. Do not go anywhere far from home between now and November. You will not be able to get back home if you do.”. That’s all he could tell me, as I tried to get more detailed information from him by asking questions. He rushed me off the phone as if he was telling me something he shouldn’t be. I was pretty stunned at what I just was told. This gentleman has never acted like this before and is far from a so called “conspiracy nut-job”.

If you do any frequent traveling around the preparedness blogosphere, you eventually come across this sort of nonsense from time to time. (Yes, nonsense. Im being judgemental.) Almost always these things follow a format that looks like this:

“I have a [friend/buddy/relative/coworker/sex partner] who works in the [military/police/FBI/Homeland Security/UN/banking industry/FEMA], and they told me that [soon/before the election/after the election/during the holiday] there will be [civil disorder/martial law/invasion/economic collapse/currency exchange/declaration of war/terrorist act/postponed elections] and that all concerned patriots should [stay home/gear up/stock up/get in their bunkers]. I’ve known this person for years and they would never say anything about this unless it was 100% true! You have been warned!”

All that is missing is “if you really want to save America you’ll email this to all your friends and Like it on Facebook. And Microsoft will give everyone $5!”

Now, let’s look at this critically for a minute. Let’s say you really do know that, for example, on New Years Eve the .gov is going to declare martial law because they have inside information that Al Anon Al Roker Al Qaeda is going to pop a nuke in NYC. You know it with 100% certainty…you saw the plans, you saw the warnings, you even saw the guys planting the nuke under Madison Square Garden. It’s a done deal, guaranteed to happen.

So, why would you tell people and remove anything that could give you a shred of credibility? I mean, if you really believe in what is about to happen, and you really want to warn people, wouldnt you say “Hey! I’m Col. Joe Schmoe of NORAD, and we know there’s gong to be a nuclear war tomorrow! Here’s a link to classified intel proving it. Heres a link to the foreign news media thats slowly uncovering the plan. Heres a link to a real major media outlet covering the mysterious departure of everyone in Washington. Heres a picture of me standing in front of the Big Board holding a sign that reads ‘GET IN YOUR BUNKERS NOW!’.” and not care about losing your job or being jailed since, if you really were correct, we’re all going to be living in Mad Max world in the next 48 hours?

Succinctly: if you really do have info about crap like this, why do you care if people know who you are for broadcasting it? Are you saying that the lives of millions of people aren’t more important than you keeping your job?

Listen, if I knew that the Chinese were gonna nuke our military, invade California, and sweep eastward in Red Dawn fashion and telling you this was gonna cost me my job guess what….I’d tell everyone who would listen, back it up as best I could and take the unemployment checks.

When someone makes one of these statements and actually puts their name, career and credentials on the line along with even some fairly credible evidence then I’ll give it some weight. Otherwise it’s nothing more than the preparedness version of “I am Dr. Mugato Timbawawa of the Burkino Faso. A client of mine has left me $20,000,000 of money to my self. If you will help me move it from my country I will give you half……”

Books – ,Rawles’ new book

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

I was going to purchase a copy of ,Rawles’ new book the other day,( Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse ), but am seeing some not-so-good reviews on Amazon. Has anyone read it yet and can tell me if it’s worth shelling out the greenbacks? I enjoyed his first book and was hoping he might catch lightning in a bottle again.

Day of bicycle stuff

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

I usually ride my bike to the shop in the mornings. It just doesn’t make sense to spend the money on gas when I live relatively close to the shop and the dog seems to enjoy the exercise. My tire had been running low so i got out the pump to add some air to the tire and thats when things started to go wrong. For some reason I couldnt get the pump to latch onto the valve stem in a manner that let the air flow through the correct orifice. (There are two orifices on the pump…one for presta valves and one for schrader valves.) I spent about twenty minutes trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and was drawing a blank. Now, when confronted with a puzzling situation like this I usually go for the process of elimination. I tried both tires and had the same problem. Reasonably, this means the problem is something to do with the pump rather than the tires. (The odds of both tires suddenly developing the same mysterious problem are pretty slim.) The problem obviously (to me) had to be the pump…either a problem with the pump itself or a problem in my application of it. Unfortunately, I do not have a spare pump for my bicycle to compare against.

Long story short: operator error on my part. I took the bike and pump to my local bike shop and asked the guy to check it out. He got the pump hooked up to the valve bo problem and promptly filled my tire. WTF? So I thanked him, watched him carefully, and then deflated my tire and tried it myself. Seemed to work this time. The error was in my trying to force the stem too deeply into the pump.

But, while I was at the bike shop I figured I should get another air pump. I wanted one to keep with the bike, which means a small, compact, lotsa-strokes unit. The guy who owns the bike shop is, surprise, a like-minded individual so he knew where I was coming from. “Here’s what I want: I need a pump that will fit in my bag, work on both valves, take abuse, be reliable, versatile and durable. If it gets wet or snowed on it won’t matter. Doesn’t have to mount to the frame, but it would be nice to have that option. I don’t care about the cost as long as it is end-of-the-world quality.”

He explained that while the smaller fit-in-your-bag pumps required more strokes than the longer mount-to-the-frame pumps, there is a greater risk of damage to the frame mounted pump if you take a tumble on your bike. I hadn’t thought of that. Originally I was looking at this pump (which I still may get as a tertiary-level spare) bit wound up ordering this one which is small enough to fit in either the bag on my bike or in any of my packs/bags. When it gets here I’ll deflate my tire and then time myself to see how long it takes to reinfalte using one of these little pumps.

Of course, a pump is pretty useless without the means to repair the tube so it can hold more air. A few more clicks of a mouse got me a bicycle multi tool, a patch kit, some tire levers and a few other goodies to get me back up and running. Still need to get a couple spare tubes, some Slime, and some other small parts but when it’s all done it should all fit into a small Maxpedition pouch I can mount on the bike or keep with my gear.

I do need to put together a comprehensive “at home” kit of tools and gear to keep the bicycles running, though. I got several very good books on bicycle maintenance and repair, I just need to go find a junked mountain bike and tear it apart and put it back together a few times.

While Im not a ‘Peak Oil’ person, there are times when being able to zip around the town and the hills quietly, quickly, and on pathways that motor vehicles cant navigate might be very useful. Last thing I need is to get stuck somewhere with a busted chain or flat tire, though. So…we prepare.

Article – Alaska militia member receives 5-years prison term

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska militia group member found guilty of weapons charges was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison in a case involving others convicted of conspiring to kill government officials.

Coleman Barney of North Pole held his head in his hands and sniffled loudly while he waited for U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan to impose the sentence Monday in Anchorage.

“I think you got into some real bad stuff here, and this sentence reflects it,” Bryan said.

Pretty standard stuff except that this particular article seems to veer a little off the usual course.

Before he was sentenced, Barney apologized for making poor choices and decisions. A member of the Mormon church, he said he loved his country and that the militia started out as a group of “wonderful Christian men” who wanted to protect their families in case of a collapse. He said he got caught up in the hype and said things he didn’t mean.

Whats different here is that in virtually every article about ‘militias’ there is no mention of how the group started. Was it a rabid, anti-government group from the start? Or was it something benign that gradually shifted focus into something else?

In this case, from the phrasing in the article, it sounds like a bunch of guys who had a common interest and a common concern and somehow got ‘carried away’. This is worth thinking about because ‘conspiracy’ is one of those great catch-alls that is used to nail people to the wall in cases like this. You don’t have to have done anything, and you may not even have to take real material steps, but as long as you and your buddies agreed to do it someday….well, seems like thats as good as doing it in some folks’ eyes.

So…you, your buddy at work, the guy down the block, and another guy from the gun range…….you guys get together once a week or so to shoot guns or watch football. One day a semi-serious discussion about politics turns into a serious discussion about ‘what are we gonna do if TSHTF?’. And the conversation goes on for a couple hours and when its done you’ve got an informal ‘group’. Thats the organic way these things happen.

You and your buddies, you go to gun shows together, check out military surplus stuff, maybe hit the cannery once a month, go in on group purchases to save money, maybe help each other on little projects like setting up radio towers or helping to move a new freezer into a basement…so far youre all a happy little group of like-minded individuals.

One day, after range practice, Steve pipes up and says “Man, you see all that looting in Haiti? You’re outnumbered, like, a million to one in a scenario like that. Check out what I picked up to help even those odds” and he reaches into his range bag and pulls out….what? A homemade silencer? An auto sear? Unpapered SBR or SBS? Maybe a grenade? And that’s right about the moment that your band of buddies who were nothing more than a bunucha guys with a common interest on being prepared suddenly turned into  ‘persons of interest’. And at that same moment, every single thing youve done…the stored food, the piles of ammo, the rack of guns, the gold in the safe, the tweaked out BOV, those new solar panels on the roof….becomes threatened, Now, rather than ‘preps’ those things have become ‘supporting evidence’ when you get accused of being part of some end-of-the-world extremist fringe that was bent on overthrowing the government (or whatever).

Maybe everyone looks at Steve and says “Are you nuts? Put that crap away!”. Or maybe they say “Steve, if youre into that sorta stuff we cant have you hanging around us.” Maybe someone goes as far to say “Steve, it was nice knowing ya, but I can’t afford to be mixed up with that kinda stuff. Don’t ever come by my house again.” Or, more likely, everyone says “wow, cool!” and they pass it around like a party favor. And a week later someone tries to one-up Steve by acquiring something even more questionable.

Or, another likely scenario…..Steve never pulls anything ungood out of his range bag. But one day as theyre all driving back from the gun show he mentions that he thinks someone with a rifle ‘oughtta do something’ about ……and he starts naming politicians. Or local government officials. Or just people he doesn’t like for whatever reason. And someone in the back seat pipes in with “Yeah! And that other guy too! Someone oughtta take it to both of them!”

And this is how that fine line between conspiracy and harmless group of like-minded buddies gets blurred. A casual conversation about what to do about looters in a world ‘without rule of law’ turns into ‘and when those cops or feds show up and start violating their oath we need to……’. I know he didnt mean it. You know he didnt mean it. He probably doesnt even really mean it. But it’s not our opinion about it that matters in these things, sadly. There’s plenty of folks who’ll take what he said at full face value because thats their job.

I almost want to say that the secret to keeping any group of LMI from turning into a ‘ant-government militia that was planning on killing elected officials’ or a ‘group of extremists who were conspiring to blow up the…’ is to simply never talk politics at any of your little get-togethers.

I’ve met quite a few people over the years who would be in the red folder in some federal agencies ‘watch’ files. Usually they are so over-the-top that they’re unable to be taken seriously enough as a threat. But why take chances? When you and a couple buddies are getting together at the cannery and the discussion turns towards questionable things you have one of two choices – put an end to it politely, maybe even obtusely so the person talking doesn’t even notice you’ve changed the topic so abruptly…or…let him go on and be prepared to face the unpleasant possibilities that might happend when someone “hears something, says something” about your conversation.

Me, I’m the biggest advocate of free speech youre ever going to meet. I think you should be able to burn flags, bibles, korans, effigies, and all that stuff.  Nothing gets my ire up like censorship and the notion that you cant express yourself however you like (as long as youre respecting other peoples rights…maybe not respecting their beliefs, or their opinion, but always their rights ). But the sad fact is that there are somethings you just have to keep to yourself if you want to stay out of trouble.

If you’ve got a loosely knit group of friends that you include in your preparations and stockpiling it is important to make sure that you don’t fall into that trap of someone going a little off the reservation and getting the whole group shot down.I hate the notion of guilt by association but thats how it plays out. Four guys are just stocking their shelves with canned goods and building solar battery chargers and one guy is doing that and building auto sears in his garage…or smuggling antibiotics over the border from Mexico…or mouthing off about how the local police chief is gonna ‘get it’ someday. And because of that one guy, four other guys who weren’t doing anything more extreme than building can organizers and working on their ham radio licenses are now caught up in a legal mess that’ll bankrupt them if theyre lucky, or send the to jail if theyre unlucky.

I like the idea of having a close little knot of friends who are on the same page as myself. It makes things easier, it gives me a chance to be myself, and the camaraderie and validation is quite nice. But if someone starts talking about something they shouldn’t, it gets tamped down…fast. It sucks to have to step on someone’s ideas and desire to express them but at this point in the game who needs the hassle of getting pinched for ‘conspiracy to….’?

So….moral of the story: nothing wrong with living a ‘secret life” as a survivalist. The trick is to make sure that things stay ‘survivalisty’ and don’t drift into something that others could, rightly or wrongly, construe as ‘dangerous extremist’. This article about the guys in Alaska sounds like a good example of a buncha guys that started out with noble intentions and somehow got sidetracked into becoming something they now wish they hadn’t. Don’t be those guys.

WalMart & EBR’s

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Was up at WalMart today and the folks at WallyWorld had some promotional flyers out. Since hunting season is approaching the flyers were directed at that sort of stuff. What was interesting was that while the hunting side of things was represented, there was an abundance of Evil Black Rifle stuff. DPMS AR’s for $597, SIG and COlt Ar’s, Mini-14s, etc, etc and a host of Blackhawk AR accessories like single-point slings, etc, etc.

Sign of the times? Maybe. Certainly, the market for this sort of stuff is always good right before an election. Just between you and me, though…I’m not buying an AR at WalMart. I have no way of knowing where the manufacturer cut corners to meet WallyWorlds infamous ‘must keep the price low at all costs’ purchasing criteria.

Interesting to see those sorts of guns and accessories get to be so mainstream as to wind up in the promotional flyers at the door.

Hamilton gun show

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Went to the gun show in Hamilton today. Didnt really see anything I couldnt live without, but I did find a rifle that I thought my buddy might like. I pointed it out to him, we checked values against what was on Gunbroker (yay wireless internet!) and, to my surprise, he bought it.

Here’s something you dont see everyday: Springfield Armory SAR-48 with the short barrel and para stock. For those of you too young to remember, Springfield Armory used to bring in FAL and HK91 guns ‘back in the day’. The SAR-48 was an Imbel FAL that was a very high quality build. They stopped bringing ‘em in back in ’89. This one is in minty mint condition with the sidefolder stock and short barrel. Price? Well, cheaper than if you got it from DSA…and at least $500 cheaper than the ones on Gunbroker.

I take joy in my buddy getting something he always wanted. I’m looking forward to getting to try it out.

Just Say No

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

It’s that time again. These kinds of emails were quite prevalent a couple years ago. Looks like theyre making the rounds again:

Dear Sir,

My name is Richard Drew and I’m a TV producer based in the Tri State area.

I consult for a company called Peacock Productions (part of NBC) who are currently working on a new show for a major cable network (NOT National Geographic) that looks at the US ‘Preppers’ community.

The show will be hosted by a major name from the network news world. He’d like to talk with some of the leading figures and characters within the Preppers world for their unique take and stories.

We’re at a very early research stage on the show and I wondered if you’d be interested in sharing your own Preppers stories and background?

Please let me know if this idea may be of interest and hopefully we can set a time to talk shortly.

Many thanks,


Richard Drew
CEO/Founder, Savannah Media
Twitter: @remotepatrolled
Cell: +1 917 312 8679

Thanks, but no thanks, “Dick”.

This sort of thing has not really worked out well for anyone. However, if youre interested, cut/paste the above quoted texted into an email to this guy so it looks like youre replying to his email and nominate yourself. Lemme know how it works out.


Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Found a handy product description .pdf of some of the military Hardigg cases that have been turning up. The supercool medical chests that someone tipped me off about are on page 4. And, my way over-the-top 12-rifle case is on page 8….I may have bit off more than I can chew on that one. With a dozen AR’s in it the weight is going to be close to 160# or so…kinda pushing the limits of man-portability.

I don’t know whats going on in Seattle, but their Craigslist is full of these things…..