Canned water

It’s kind of interesting to look back on the history prepping back to the golden-age of the Red Scare and Cuban Missile Crisis and seeing the gear that was marketed towards those wanting to survive the inevitable nukefest.

cw-1One of the things that I often see pictures of in old bomb shelters is canned water. More specifically, drinking water that was packaged in cans like beer or other canned food would be. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Notice that this was in the days of dinosaurs before the pull-top can was invented. So, if you wanted to slake your thirst in the post-nuke world, you needed the old-fashioned church key to open it. Although there are plenty of these relics floating around, and people come across them from time to time and post pictures of them on the internet, very infrequently do you find those same people saying if the cans were still full or not. Assuming the cans were not lined with any particular barrier coating (which seems pretty likely considering the era), and their steel construction,  the cans probably succumbed to rusting pretty quickly. (This, by the way, is why those old Civil Defense water barrels were not stored full of water,  but rather stored in such a condition as to allow them to be rapidly filled when the warnings were given.)

Water_sideFrom a manufacturing standpoint, the market for this sort of thing would have been a no-brainer for a company that was already involved in the bottling/canning process. For example, here’s some canned water that was canned by the folks at Royal Crown, or as we know it today – RC Cola. If you’ve already got the canning operation set up to make pop, why not just turn the taps on and can some water at the same time? No additional capital investment and a whole new market to sell to….seems like a win to me. But, realistically, that market for canned water, even at the peak of the crisis, probably couldn’t even begin to compare to the market for the regular product.

Anheuser-Busch-Water-Cans-in-Packaging-1 Interestingly, canned water actually does turn up these days in disasters. The folks at Anheuser-Busch, most famous for Budweiser beer, periodically use their resources to run off batches of canned water to be distributed in disaster areas. Compared to the old cans, these things are rocketships…pull-top cans so no opener is required, lined interiors to preserve taste, and aluminum construction to reduce weight and increase durability. And, considering the manufacturing technology and resources of a company like A-B, they probably produce more of these things in an 8-hour shift than most companies could have produced in a week back in the days of Sputnik.

51BhAMJrHnL._SX425_Interestingly, if a person was interested in getting some of this sort of thing for their own bunker you can find it online without having to hang around a disaster relief tent. There’s at least one vendor on Amazon selling the stuff. (Blue Can) And although I rather like the idea of the convenience and durability of an aluminum can, I think that, when you really think about it, any advantages offered by an aluminum can are pretty much available in other forms…most specifically the ubiquitous plastic water bottle that we get at WalMart for around $5 a case. (Versus what amounts to about a buck a can for the aluminum cased stuff.)

I can’t speak for everyone, but my own experience has been that the plastic water bottles are exceptionally durable and probably more durable than the aluminum cans. The biggest issue that springs to mind is what happens in cold weather…I’ve had cans of Coke freeze and explode like an M67, but I’ve never had one of the plastic bottles explode. The bottles also have a bit of ‘give’ to them so things that might puncture an aluminum can don’t necessarily have the same effect on the plastic bottle. In fact, pretty much the only advantage I can come up with for the can over the plastic bottle is the opaque nature of the can preventing light transmission and inhibiting any type of growths.

thTwo other packaging options are the ‘juice box’ style of packaging, which is also pretty tough to find, and the foil pouches that we often see marketed specifically towards preparedness. The boxes seem like a clever idea but I think theyre the least durable and therefore the least attractive option. I do very much like the foil pouches. While I don’t think they have the puncture resistance of the plastic bottles, I very much like their small serving size…their small size means that if they freeze (like in your car in the winter) you can thaw them quickly and easily by just tucking them under your arm or sitting on them. Contrast that with trying to quick-thaw a 16 oz. frozen plastic bottle of water.

It’s also worth pointing out that if you’re the DIY type of guy you can actually ‘can’ water same as you’d can fruits or other foods using your pressure cooker. The water is completely sterilized, the containers are sterilized, and pretty much the only weak point is the glass container.

Article – Couple missing for 2 weeks found in California wilderness

WARNER SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — A couple missing for two weeks were found Sunday in a remote part of San Diego County with the elderly husband dead and his wife severely dehydrated, after surviving on just rain water and some food, authorities said.

Cecil Knutson, 79, Dianna Bedwell, 68, were found near a Boy Scouts camp on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation near Warner Springs, sheriff’s Lt. Ken Nelson said.

Knutson’s body was near a white car and Bedwell was inside the vehicle, he said.


That last sentence is curious. So the white car was not the same one that the woman was in? Did the woman stay with the vehicle and the husband went off for help and found another car?

Perhaps staying with the vehicle isn’t so great an option when the clock is ticking on your need for insulin. Bad story all around. Be interesting to follow this and get more details.

Thoughts on the PTR

People throw the phrase ‘battle rifle’ or ‘battle carbine’ around and it always sounds a little…weird…to me. I suppose you may want to differentiate between youre hunting rifle that you knock down deer with and your ‘just in case’ FAL thats sitting in the closet, but ‘battle rifle’ always sounds kinda hokey. But..what else do you call it? Your ‘social rifle’? I usually just call it a ‘rifle’ and, maybe, depending on the context, ‘defensive rifle’. Anyway, Friend Of The Blog, Ryan at TSLRF, has been mulling a .308 defensive rifle. I threw my two cents in and suggested the PTR.

The PTR is a fairly accurate copy of the HK91. There are several copies of HK rifles out there, and there are a few ‘niche’ or ’boutique’ makers who make a very nice (and very expensive) product, but in terms of mass-market stuff its either Century or PTR. My feelings on Century is that it is the ballistic equivalent of treasure hunting at the sight of old outhouses….you might find a jewel once in a while, but most of the time what you find is crap. (Not withstanding their new milled AK which I may have to get two or three of.)

Personally, I rather like the FAL. But economically, if you’re wanting a .308 semiauto for the day the wheels fly of civilization, and you’re on a budget, you would be hard pressed to find a better value.

Eliminating the exotic stuff, here’s the rundown of whats available in .308 these days that fits the bill and isn’t some super-rare oddball thing (like a .308 Galil or Valmet): AR-10, FAL, PTR, M1A and maybe one of the AK-pattern .308s. I’m limiting this discussion to stuff based on platforms that have been around a while…the AR-10 being the newest. Stuff like the KelTec RFB or other gunny-come-lately need to be around for a while so we can see if they have legs or not.

Whats your budget for the gun and it’s necessary gear? Well, let’s say, mmmm, $1250. Let’s also not cheap out and go with the absolute cheapest [rifle/mag/etc] we can find. We want what works. So, while the Century FrankenFAL may be 1/2 the price of a DSA, it is not a contender because it’s simply a crapshoot in terms of its manufacture. LWRC and SIG don’t have anything for less than $1250 at the moment. S&W has some ‘bargain’ AR-10 rifles but nothing on Gunbroker is less than $1250, and while Remington makes one as well I’m holding off on any of their new stuff until they get their act together in terms of QC.

A basic rifle suitable for defensive use, not a target, match or hunting gun:

Magazines? You’ll need a few. Assuming OEM or similar Tapco, no USA, no Korean/Chinese. Magpul is ok.

So, working within our arbitrary $1250 budget, and not counting mags that came with the gun, we get:

A Springfield Armory M1A with no extra mags
A PTR-91 with 116 extra mags
An AR-10 with 8~ mags
An FAL with 9~ mags

Or, to work it from another angle, a rifle and 30 mags would be:

M1A – $1700
PTR – $990
AR-10 – $1682
FAL – $1575

So, from a ‘bang for your buck’ standpoint the PTR seems to be at the top. But, that isn’t everything when it comes to these matters. What about reliability, ergonomics, modularity, etc, etc? The AR-10 platform is the newest and thus doesnt have the track record of the others, but it seems to be as reliable as most other piston designs. The PTR, while based on a design that has been extremely reliable, suffered a bit with the early guns. Newer PTR rifles (within the last couple years, and all “GI” models) have corrected the fault that caused rifles to choke on tar-sealed surplus ammo. So, assuming you have one of the rfiles made in the last couple years, it should be as reliable as any HK.

Ergonomics suck but, for me, theyre no more awkward than an AK. If you really wanna go nuts, you can have the receiver sent out for the paddle mag conversion to make it ‘true’ to a G3 but I find that the magazine release isn’t a big deal. The AR-10 wins, hands down, on ergonomics, by the way.

The PTR, with a railed handguard, is about as modular as any other gun. There are provisions for folding, tele, and regular stocks. New guns can be had with railed receivers, making optics much easier to mount, and the rifles are accurate enough that a scope really is worth the investment….the guns are capable of very fine accuracy.

Do they eat the brass? Not to the point you can’t reload it. Someday I’ll take the gun, one cartridge, and a loading press to the range and fire/reload the same case several times to prove it. Until the, though, believe me…you can reload the cases just fine.

So, Im not saying the PTR is the best rifle for anyone. For me, who wanted a .308 in a proven platform without breaking the bank, the PTR fit the bill nicely. From a logistics standpoint, it is at the top of the list with cheap mags and spare parts availability (for now). Some folks prefer the AR-10, some folks (including myself) prefer the FAL, but for the guy who wants a quality, reliable, semi-auto and it’s accessories at a reasonable price…well, its pretty hard to beat.



Estate stuff and meeting folks

What a weird day. I moved a piano for someone with the help of a professional wrestler.

The father-in-law of one of my wife’s coworkers died last week and I was asked to come out and evaluate the gun stuff. If you spend any time around guns, and people know youre kind of a ‘gun guy’ you eventually get called for these sorts of things. There was a bunch of reloading stuff, but it was mostly older presses and dies. There were, however, lotsa primers, some powder, and a small stash of .22 ammo and I wound up carting off a bunch of it.

As I was leaving, I asked the gal there if, since I was already there, could I help them with anything else as they were packing up the house. Well, she said, could you move the piano out to my truck? Uhm..sure..but not by myself. No problem, she says, a friend of my dads is on his way here…maybe the two of you can do it.

The friend, as it turns out, was Keith Hart of the Hart wrestling family. A gentleman in his early sixties but in good enough shape that the two of us managed to haul a piano down the driveway and into the back of a Tacoma. I don’t remember much about him but I do remember his brother dying in an accident during the introduction of a match. He was a nice guy and we chatted a little about pro wrestling (he says it really is fake, but a lot of times it ‘turns real’ when the two guys get their blood up), and also talked a little about working out. His deadlift was 500# in his prime. Pretty impressive. He’s apparently a substitute teacher now and lives a couple hours north of here in one of the border towns.

So, an interesting day….got a buncha primers and powder, and got to work up a sweat with a professional wrestler. Another interesting day in Montana.


ETA: Here’s what I20150522_204936 was graciously and generously permitted to take for myself…….


Local flashlight sale

Years and years ago, the flashlight to have was a MagLite with the ‘Krypton’ bulb. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s these things were practically lightsabers. But…they still used incandescent bulbs (which are somewhat fragile) and sucked down batteries pretty quickly (the tradeoff for lighting intensity). But despite those two issues, MagLites were pretty much the standard flashlight for most folks. Streamlight always controlled a good chunk of the cop market for flashlights, but MagLite wound up becoming quite the major player in that field. One of the great attractions of the MagLite was that they were pretty robust…you could drop them, bang ’em around, and, of course, use them for ‘persuasive concussive techniques’ if the situation called for it. And, even after pulping someones face with them, they still (usually) worked.

When the LED revolution in flashlights finally came, MagLite introduced an LED version of the classic D-batt flashlight. This completely solved the bulb fragility issue (as well as having a longer life) and made a big positive change in battery life as well. As a result, I’ve been slowly phasing out my non-LED MagLites to the LED version. Problem is, the LED versions cost a little more than the non-LED. It is my opinion, though, that the added initial cost is very, very much worth the expense for the tradeoff of battery life and bulb resilience.

So, I was in my local sporting goods store today and they had the LED MagLites marked down by 33% from their normal price. That dropped ’em to about $18. A quick check on my phone shows that Amazon sells them for about $25 and that was the price to beat. So, I managed to get a flashlight upgrade today at a bargain price. Now if only the rest of my day were so bright and promising….

Article – Father buys £20,000 Cold War bunker

A father who is so determined that his children do well in their school exams has splashed out £20,000 on a nuclear bunker in the Essex countryside so they can revise in peace.

Raymond Sturgess purchased the bunker, which is 12 feet under ground, so that his four children aged between seven and 16 are free from distractions when it comes to studying.

The Cold War relic, which only measures 13 feet by nine feet in size, was part of a former army base but is now a nature reserve in Chigwell.

A 13’x9’room ain’t a whole lotta space. Matter of fact, its about the size of your typical bedroom.

I’ve seen articles from time to time about tiny little observation bunkers coming up for sale in the UK. Usually they’re rather tiny affairs that don’t amount to much more than this one.

The more I read about military bunkers and shelters, and see what is being done by other countries, I’m becoming less a fan of the underground ones and more a fan of the partially-buried, and the above-ground varieties…especially as done by our friends the Swiss.

Bunkers of this sort don’t come up in the US very often, although I did read about some organization that did a land swap with the feds and wound up owning some awesome NSA-grade bunker facility out in the woods. The closest thing you might find to these Swiss style above-ground concrete bunkers are the old AT&T relay bunkers that dot the countryside. But, thats another post altogether…………

Admin – State of the blog

This is just boring stuff about the blog (as opposed to a boring blog itself) so don’t feel gypped if you come away feeling you didn’t get your full dollars worth of entertainment.

Since switching to Bluehost, things have been pretty smooth. My only complaint thus far has been that their email system is doing a mondo crappy job of spam filtering. When I do try to configure their filtering system it does virtually nothing. Yahoo dropped the ball on several levels for me but their spam filtering was usually quite good.

The Updraft Plus auto-backups has been working great as has Dropbox. I get an email once a week to let me know that backups were successful and that, Crom forbid, should I ever need it I have the weekly backups stacked over at Dropbox. Big thumbs-up for Updraft…pay the money, get the pro version, its worth it.

Page hits seem to be fairly constant and thats always nice. According to Google Analytics, most of the hits this year are from the US.

1    United States    93.59%
2    Canada    1.40%
3    United Kingdom    0.82%
4    Sweden    0.51%
5    Germany    0.47%
6    China    0.40%
7    Australia    0.31%
8    Russia    0.27%
9    Norway    0.26%

Once you narrow it down to the US, the top ten states that stop by:
1 Texas
2 California
3 Florida
4 Pennsylvania
5 Washington
6 Virginia
7 Ohio
8 Montana
9 Illinois
10 North Carolina

Most popular post this year so far? This one on panic buying….mostly as a result of some aggregates link to it.

Donations to the Bunker Equipage Fund ( you know, that PayPal button on the top right menu everyone ignores?), 2015 YTD: $0.00 … it appears my plans for a poured concrete off-grid cabin will have to wait a while longer.

And thats pretty much it. Just a little behind-the-scenes data for those who are interested.


Propane and propane accessories

I found one of these while straightening up the other day. It’s an adapter that lets you fill the small 1# propane bottles from a larger tank. It seemed like a useful item to have since we have several devices here that run on those small bottles…most notable a small heater, a couple Coleman lanterns, and a camp stove.

Propane is great stuff, it’s just damn awkward. As someone pointed out to me, with a gas or diesel powered device I can borrow fuel from a neighbor if I have a five-gallon bucket. Borrowing propane from a neighbor is far trickier…can’t exactly tear off a piece of your 20# tank and say “Here, get it back to me when you can.”

Of course, an adapter like this lets you take your empty to your neighbors barbecue (or vice versa) and get some fuel that way.

I think that if I were going to live out in the sticks and have to have my own source of power, propane would be very attractive. The only thing I don’t like is that I’d have to have some guy drive his propane truck to my little hideaway once a year and fill the tanks. On the other hand, I suppose I could mount a tank on a small trailer, bring it into town to be filled, and then bring it back to my little hideaway and then hook it up, leaving the tank on the trailer year-round….probably violate a dozen DOT and zoing regs, but I like to think I’d be living somewhere where ‘zoning’ was a quaint notion that never really caught on locally.

Back in the Y2K runup I did wind up buying a few dozen 1# bottles of propane. I’ve probably only used one or two over the years, but as long as the bottles themselves are protected from rust and banging around they should last quite a while. It’s just another layer of redundancy…we’ve kerosene for lighting, heating, cooking in an emergency and also the option of propane for the same purposes. Add in the gas-fueled generator and we’re looking at around three different ways to skin the same cat. (And while I generally find Ragnar Benson’s books to be pretty lame, I will give him credit for bringing up “the rule of threes” in his ‘The Modern Survival Retreat‘ book.

Even though at the moment I’m living in town, I think it’d be nice to have a buried tank in the yard to run the generator and a few other goodies. Unfortunately, I doubt I can get a 500# tank past the city codes. On the other hand, a couple 100# tanks shouldn’t be a problem. (By the by, excellent graphic showing relative tank sizes.) My Honda EU2000 has some aftermarket kits to let it run propane, natural gas, or gasoline…’d be nice to have options.

Panic buying

It occurred to me, as I was talking to someone about the still-present situation regarding .22 ammo, that any lulls that we’ve experienced in the panic buying over the last year or so are going to be pretty much wiped out by the fact that next year is an election year.

The Clintons, Slick Willy or/and Hillary, are hardly friends of gun rights. They aren’t even friends of friends of gun rights. And as you hear Clintons name bandied about more and more as the nomination process approaches you’re going to see more and more panic buying going on.

Then, once the nomination process is on, it’ll continue as the election comes closer closer. Finally, depending on who is elected, it might start to calm down around March or April of 2017.

This stuff is actually highly predictable. The four stages of gun panics, as far as elections go, are:

  • Right before the election
  • Right after the election
  • Right before the inauguration
  • Right after the inauguration

Don’t take my word for it, your own life experiences should confirm what I’m telling you.

thNow, I’m not nearly as stupid as I look (I couldn’t possibly be), but even I learned a long time ago to buy what I needed as soon as possible, as much as possible, so I could ignore this sort of thing.

“But, Zero”, I hear you cry, “I am a survivalist of limited resources. I can’t possibly get all my guns, ammo, and magazines before the election. I need both those kidneys!”

Well, that’s true. It’s a pretty intimidating list. That’s why you need to prioritize that mofo like no one’s business. Let’s look at it from a historical and hysterical standpoint – in the last, oh, say thirty years, what’s been regulated out of the realm of ownership by us simple peons? Chinese guns, Chinese ammo, steel core 5.54×39, steel core 7.62×39, imported rifle barrels for ‘assault weapons’, magazines that hold more than 10 rounds*, pistol grip stocks on semi-auto rifles*, bayonet lugs*, etc.

What else could come down the pike from the twisted gnomes in Washington? Well, almost certainly a magazine ban, assault weapons ban, and some restrictions on ammo. That whole wrist brace issue is living on borrowed time, IMHO. I expect there’ll be some fundamental changes to the DIY/80% receiver market and possibly some restrictions on mail ordering the other parts you need to complete your AR. (And before you say that ATF can’t regulate gun parts that aren’t serialized receivers, go try to import some AK barrels and let me know what happens.) And I fully expect there to be some restrictions on body armour coming along as well.

So, man of limited resources, where do you put your money to get the most bang for your buck in a world where political expediency directly challenges your ability to own thundertoys? Guns, mags, ammo, in that order. Since it is reasonable to expect that as we slide further and further down the timeline prices will go up and availability will go down, it would seem to make the most sense to purchase the most expensive and least available items first. Actual guns are outnumbered by magazines and ammo, so get the guns first. After that, get the magazines. After that, ammo. For every AR, there are probably hundred of AR mags, and thousands of rounds of .223….so get the guns first.

Stripped lowers? Sure, if you can’t afford the actual complete gun I’d grab as many stripped lowers as I can. I suspect that at some point the upper receivers and what not will be regulated as well but until that time you’ll at least have the serial numbered part sitting away waiting for you to complete it…or use it as trade for other stuff.

Magazines are simply a buy-as-many-as-you-can item. For those of us who remember the ’94-’04 ban, we can tell you youngsters stories about $750 BetaMags, $100 Glock mags, and $30 AR mags. It was a time of great chaos, and great(!) profit making. Even if you don’t have the gun, get the mags.

Unless you’re on fire or swimming, you can’t have too much ammo. Any surplus ammo still coming into the country, as well as the Russian stuff, is probably first in the crosshairs of those who would do evil to us. While we all have a magic number in our head about how much ammo is the recommended amount per gun, the truth is that you really can’t go wrong with buying as much as you can afford. If you don’t think so, look at the the folks who are sitting on thousands and thousands of rounds of .22LR right now. Or cases of old Chinese 7.62×39 when it was nine cents per round.

At this point I’m sure there is some genius hitting the comment button about to say something deeply profound like “It’s because of idiots like you encouraging all this hoarding that I can’t find .22LR ammo, and when I can find it it’s at ten cents a round!” Actually, it’s not because of’s because of basic economics, laws of scarcity and demand, and federal asshattery. (How many ‘t’s in asshattery, anyway?)

Having been to this dance before, I’m pretty much immune to a bunch of it. I already have a goodly amount of guns and mags stashed away, and ammo is always on the shopping list anyway. But it is my opinion that if you’ve been waiting for prices to ‘return to normal’ or for ‘availability to return to normal’ you’re going to be left with a full wallet and empty shopping cart. As the political season heats up prices are going to go up, availability will go down, and today is going to be looked back upon as the day you’ll wish you had started shopping.

* = yes, that law sunset and we can now enjoy normal-capacity magazines and ‘evil features’. But do you really think they’re gonna make that mistake again?