New stuff from Repackbox.com

I got a postcard in the mail the other day (who sends real mail these days??) from repackbox.com telling me that they’ve expanded their product line to include boxes for more calibers of ammo.

What is repackbox.com? Well, they sell a few useful cardboard products that have appeal to those of us who keep ammo onhand. What I’ve been getting from them are cardboard boxes to store ammo in.

Every so often I find deals on ‘bulk’ ammo. Bulk ammo is just that – bulk. You buy a thousand rounds of ammo you dont get a nice cardboard box with fifty little boxes of 20 rounds each. Nope, you get a big ol’ polybag or box filled with loose cartridges. 8290915400329fc2a66d65b6f89dfeaf (1aa)Great savings, but not exactly easy to store. When the zombies are massing at the barricades the last thing you want to be doing is counting ammo into little ziploc baggies and handing them to your buddies. Repackbox gives you small cardboard boxes, appropriately sized to a particular cartridge, so you can have your ammo organized, neat, and ready for the apocalypse. Case in point: a guy came into the shop and sold me a .50 can full of loose 7.62×39 ammo. I’m not just sticking a can of a thousand loose rounds on the shelf…grabbed a stack of 7.62×39 boxes and a little while later everything was neat, organized, and ready for the apocalypse.

The advantage? Plastic ammo boxes are great, but they aren’t cheap. The cardboard boxes are cheap enough that you can hand out ammo to your buddies at the range or at the rally point and not feel like you’re throwing away money. Also, inexpensive storage boxes are hard to find for some calibers. Repackbox just came out with boxes in a buncha new calibers inc. .30-06, .303 brit., 7.62x54R (better than those string-n-paper bundles you get outta the spam can), and, of interest to me, .30-30.

Although I don’t talk about it much, I like the .30-30. My like for it stems from the fact that after the ubiquitous .22 rifle, the .30-30 carbine is probably the most common rifle in many parts of the country (although the SKS may have supplanted that for a while…but since the days of the cheap Chinese SKS are long behind us….) I rather like the .30-30 in an unltralight single shot Contender carbine, but there are still several million Winchester and Marlin rifles out there. (And Savages and other brands as well.) So…I stock a decent amount of .30-30 and now have a convenient way to package it for distribution and storage.

I’m also a huge fan of he old ‘military style; 50-round ammo boxes. Repackbox makes these for .45 ACP as well as other calibers. Extremely handy.

Since I have a Dillon 1050RL sitting on the bench, I can whip out a lot of ammo in a couple hours. There is very little more satisfying than watching the boxes of ammo stack up like bricks as I package the ammo for storage.

Check ’em out.

 

Organization

Wrapping it up. Four sets of mags left.
===========================
You know, a big part of being a survivalist is simply being he manager of your own personal warehouse. Sure we have to learn skills, read a lot of books, practice various tasks, etc., but we also have to be curator to a stockpile of gear. Think about it, you keep gear in your vehicle, in your home, at work, at a friends house, buried at some middle-of-nowhere cache, etc, etc. And all that gear has information about it that needs to be kept – where is it, what is it, how much of it is there, when does it expire, etc, etc. It can be a major pain in the ass.

Someone I used to know turned me on to a program called Evernote. It runs on your desktop machine as well as on your phone/pad. I’ve found it to be exceptionally useful..more so than a simple spreasheet (although the data can be imported/exported through spreadsheets). Right about now there’s a contingent of people mentally screaming “No! Government sees everything on the interweb! They’ll know to come to your house for your guns and food!”.

Not worried. If you’re really worried about it, do your inventory management on your mobile device while youre snagging McDonalds free wifi. Or just don’t put your name and address in any of the files.

I find evernote most useful for tracking inventory of Deep Sleep stuff. For example, if a vendor emails me a deal on magazines I can pop into Evernote, bring up my ‘Mag’ notebook (or just search for ‘magazines’) and view my list of what I have on hand. Then I can make an informed decision about whether I need to sell the other kidney and buy more mags.

Another useful thing about Evernote is the ability to selectively share some of the data. For example, lets say you and your brother are planning on riding out the apocalypse together. You can have one notebook that is shared between the two of you. Say the two of you want to stock up on radio equipment. You might have a notebook named ‘Radio Gear’. You give him access to it. Now when he’s at some hamfest in Iowa he can check and see a live version of the list of gear and know what does or does not need to be purchased. Handy. Excellent for avoiding those awkward moments of “I didn’t know if we had [name of item] so I picked up three cases of it. I wish I’d know we already had plenty.”

Having said that, spreadsheets are still amazingly useful…especially if your Excel skills are good enough to take advantage of tables and conditional formatting. Again, it’s going to knock some people’s tinfoil hats off, but Excel is great for keeping track of guns. I also use it to keep track of the long term food storage… having those spreadsheets accessible to me was quite handy when I was up at the Mormon cannery a few weeks back. I immediately knoew what I did and did not need, which means whatever money I spent was spent wisely.

There’s that old saying that the first step to wisdom is knowing what you do not know. If you don’t know what you have vs. what you need to get then you’re not using your resources wisely. You’ll wind up with a hundred AA-batteries and five MagLites that take D-batteries. You can’t be your own quartermaster without knowing what the heck you do and do not have.

Between Evernote and Excel, the savvy survivalist can manage his resources wisely and make the most of their purchasing power. If you’re just going along with a clipboard and legal pad you are definitely doing yourself a disservice.

 

Cannery trip

So I stopped in at the Mormon cannery the other day. Actually, if you want to be technical, its the Bishop’s Storehouse or Missoula Home Storage Center. What it actually is is a solid example of a group of Like Minded Individuals working together for a common benefit. Say what you will about the Mormons, they take care of their own and are not screwing around about it. Their logistics are amazing.

I hadn’t been up there in several years since they stopped the DIY dry-canning opportunities. Nowadays you can go up there, but instead of canning the stuff on your own you buy it already canned. It’s certainly more convenient, but I really liked the hanging out and interacting with other (somewhat) like-minded folks.

Anyway, I went up there not because I needed anything but because a friend of mine wanted to go and he’d never been there before. He wound up with a few hundred dollars of assorted goodies and all parties concerned were glad to help. The official line, as I understand it, is that the church offers the services and products of their food storage facility because they want to help their fellow man. Good on them. I’ve been told by people with a more pragmatic bent that the more accurate reason is because if they make the food storage available to their neighbors it lowers the odds of the neighbors forming an angry mob and coming to take their food storage.. I suspect there is an equal element of truth to both statements.

If you’ve never been to one of these places, it is an outstanding source to get some staple goods at unbeatable prices to round out your home storage. The place is almost exactly like Costco but smaller and with about 200% more Jesus. In all my trips there I never once had anyone put a religious spin into things except for starting the visit off with a quick prayer. No one tries to convert you, engage you in religious conversation, or anything like that. We all know why we’re there and we get it done.

20170225_090700 20170225_091102What they offer are very basic foodstuffs. Wheat, onions, carrots, sugar, pasta, dried apples, oats, etc. These are things that you could survive on by themselves if you absolutely had no choice, but they’re much better used in conjunction with other storage foodstuffs.

Anyway, it was a nice visit. I always feel a sense of belonging around the poeple there when I go…not because of some religious compatriotism but rather because I’m around other people who don’t think stuffing your basement full of food, ammo, and toiilet paper is a weird idea.

The Deep Sleepers

Being a survivalist, you tend to ‘go long’ on stuff…a hundred rolls of TP at a time, canned goods by the case, socks by the dozen, etc. On a long enough timeline, all this stuff will get used. Some sooner than others. For example, the canned goods will probably get used up within a year or two, but some things, like the #10 cans of freezedrieds, are meant to never be used. They are a ‘only in case of apocalypse’ sort of thing. Some other items, like the bulk AR mags I bought a few weeks ago, aren’t meant to be used but rather tucked away safely for, probably, at least a decade or two.

Items that are meant to be put into long, long, long-term storage are referred to around these parts as ‘Deep Sleepers’. They are items that are not intended to be used anytime within the foreseeable future. And, honestly, probably not even after that.

Case in point, the recent stash of Magpul AR mags. I have no intention of using them. I have enough mags on hand to handle my needs for quite some time. So, this recent batch of Magpuls are Deep Sleepers. They are there as a ward against a new ban, in case the next civil war breaks out, or some other Very Bad Thing happens.

First thing we do is stuff them away into a clean, solid, ammo can with good seals. They’re arranged carefully and sealed up in the ammo can. Once the can is closed up, I put a couple loops of poly strapping around it. This serves two purposes – first, it makes sure the lid stays closed. Second, it keeps me from sneaking a mag or two out of there when I think “Ah, I’ll just take a couple from the stash and put them back later.” (Trust me…you are your own worst looter.) Once that can is sealed up it gets marked up with the contents and quantity on it..preferably on each side and top so I can see at a glance whats in it. After that, I write the contents on a ‘key tag’ and wire it to the bail on the ammo can. After that, the can gets tucked way back in storage and…byebye, baby…see you in twenty years. Once that’s done, the records (I use Evernote and Excel) are updated. In Evernote, this is tagged as “magazines”,”Deep Sleeper”, “Storage”, “AR”, and “MagPul”. I also make a note that this is an item that does not need to be periodically inspected.

20161120_110025That’s it. Right now, as I think about it, Deep Sleepers include stashes of magazines, clothes, freezedrieds, and a few other things. But, most importantly, I know what I have, how much of it I have, where I have it, and how well it is stored. Peace of mind.

Methods to the madness

Is Preparedness Category based, Linear or All Over The Place?
Such is the question asked by Ryan over at his blog. Succinctly, it is this:

Of the three approaches to establishing a level of preparedness – category based, linear based, or scattershot – which seems to be the way to go?

For me, it’s a balanced approach. My thinking has always been to imagine that I’m dropped naked, in the middle of a winter night, into an empty field. What do I need? And then I work it out from there. I’d want, immediately, a small amount of everything….rather than a huge amount of one thing and no supply of anything else.

Lots of people ‘go long’ in some way…they drop a couple grand on guns and get the sexy part of survivalism out of the way and then go to the mundane things like toilet paper and socks. There is some merit to that, but you leave yourself open to being caught short if you’re still working on that gun/ammo thing when some big event happens and you still haven’t gotten around to buying that water purifier.

Some folks go with a more ‘balanced’ approach and buy everything they need for, say, three days. Then they simply repeat this process over and over until they have their year (or whatever timeframe) supply. I rather like this approach.

And some just keep their eyes open an when they come across something that could be useful, they snag it. In the long run that might work, but it’s a great way to wind up sitting on a pallet of 500 MagLites and absolutely no batteries.

I’ve been doing some form of preparedness (or survivalism) for over 25 years. My experience has been that the most sensible way to do things is to get everything you need for ‘x’ amount of time, and then when you have that do it again…and again…and again. Once you’ve put your ‘weeks supply’ together, do it three more times…and now its a months supply. Do that twelve more times and it’s a years supply. That sort of thing. The alternative is that you shoot your wad and buy a years supply of food up front and get caught with only two weeks worth of toilet paper or gasoline.

The one argument I’ve come across for going ‘all in’ and buying as much of one thing as possible to the exclusion of other things you need (other than a spectacular sale) is when the thing you want may not be available in normal channels later. No one is trying to ban Ivory soap….but it’s entirely possible that in three weeks we’ll never have another ‘high capacity’ magazine available to us. And while gun stuff is the easy answer to ‘what might those soon-to-be-unavailable items be’, there’s other things too. Burner phones, cryptography software, electronic devices without ‘for your safety’ GPS tracking, etc, etc….all things you can have now but very possibly might be on the verboten list next year. If something you feel you need is possibly going to be unavailable later, then it makes sense to get it, in the quantity you want, while you can.

If you haven’t already got your supplies and gear socked away, and are still in the stages of acquisition, the best method…in my humble opinion….is the balanced approach. An increase across the board, on a regular basis, with occasional ‘spurts’ of increase in some categories as finances allow. I’d rather have six months of  food, fuel, power, clothes, medicines, and the like, rather than three years of food and one month of everything else. .

What you do, is of course, is your prerogative. For me, I try to raise the level of preparedness evenly across all categories if I can.

Sortimo and Sortimo-like products

During the day, I listen to ‘Tested‘ which has some podcasts involving Adam Savage, the enthusiastic personality from Mythbusters. One of the things I enjoy about these podcasts is that buried in all the geek-chic of movie fandom, prop making, and television stories, are insights into the practical side of Savage’s manufacturing skills and talents. He has some useful stuff from time to time, and I suspect that he’s a closet survivalist of some fashion, even if he wouldn’t use that term to describe himself.

As you can imagine, given his interest in building all sortsa things, Mr. Savage has a tremendous amount of small parts and tools to keep track of…much like those of us who maintain our firearms. In one of his podcasts he mentioned a line of small-parts organizers, Sortimo, that he was rather fond of..and the demonstrations of it were pretty impressive.

It’s an expensive system, and a bit difficult to find, but it appears to be the ultimate way to keep all those annoying springs, detents, and pins that make up an AR15 from getting lost.

Amazon, my usual source for this sort of stuff, let me down. I found one genuine(?) Sortimo product on there, and a lot of lookalikes. Fortunately, it appears you can order them off the US distributors website. Interestingly, it appears that Bosch is either a licensed partner or is just outright cloning the darn things.

I bring it up because I’ve been keeping most of my spare parts in the older-style Plano organizers, and while they are handy there is room for improvement. What I want is a parts bin that, as Mr Savage demonstrates, can be carried around like a briefcase and all those small parts stay in their compartment.

Anyway, it’s an interesting product, and the video is fun to watch as well. It’s an expensive system, to be sure, but I do believe that often you get what you pay for..especially when it comes to tools and tool-related stuff.

Gas can fillup

Im trying to fill the few empty gas cans I have before the ‘winter blend’ of gasoline hits the streets. There’s a couple gas stations around town that will, in winter, have blends that are free of the MTBE and other nonsense, but that gas is labelled as snowmobile gas or some such. Personally, I have no problem with buying untaxed gas since it’s mostly for use in my generator or other gas appliances anyway…but, you never know when that 5-gallon can is going to have to go into the truck rather than the snowblower.

Speaking of gas cans, I should probably suck it up and order another package of them from Lexington supply. Fifty bucks a throw isn’t cheap, but when you absolutely need fuel for your generator to get you and your family moved to safety in your truck…well, fifty bucks is gonna seem like a bargain.I hate the plastic gas cans, and the Chinese knock-offs (I’m looking at you, Sportsmans Guide!) are bad news. If youre going to drop a grand on a quality generator, even more money on the critical equipment to be powered by that generator, and the trouble and expense of storing all that…..why would you cheap out on gas cans when the difference is about $25~ per can? Do it right the first time, man.

I skip using the nozzles altogether on these things. For me, they just never seem to work right. I buy a handful of these funnels by Blitz, and para cord one to every other gas can. Works awesome. Dose the can with some PRI-G, fill with gas (in that order..so the gas mixes with the PRI-G), attach a weatherproof tag with the date of fillup, and you’re good to go. The stuff will be good for the next year or two. (I generally try to rotate every year.)

What about the Scepter cans? What about ’em? I don’t trust plastic cans for stuff that can explode. I have faith in the metal ‘euro-style’ cans.


When you show me a plastic can that can handle that sort of action, then I’ll consider it. until then..I’ll pay the money for the peace of mind.

How much gas to store? Depends on what you plan on doing with it. First and foremost, to me, gas=distance. If I think that its, say, 300 miles to a rally point, safe house, friends homestead, or other safe location, then I want 600 miles worth of gas. (Yes, I want that big a margin of error.) Assuming 15 mpg, thats 40 gallons or 8 fuel cans. In a perfect world, I’d get to my safe zone with just four cans used. But the world aint perfect, it’s doubly unperfect in a disaster…which is why I want a huge margin of error for detours, idling in traffic, turnarounds, switchbacks, and out-and-out getting lost)

Same story for the generator…calculate runtime per gallon, figure what your average need will be, and then factor in a whopping margin of safety.

Anyway…today was the day to get the empty cans filled before he changeover to that enviro-friendly crap. If you live someplace where they do a similar switchover, you may want to think about getting your stuff topped off.

Some folks just Will Not Learn

The world is populated by idiots.

Im in the bank this morning and the teller and the woman next to me are talking about the power outages that continue in many areas around here. This woman is saying how she hasn’t been able to charge her laptop, that she has no water (well pump), that she’s going to lose the food in her freezer, and how she hates being in the dark.

I gently steered the conversation to ask her if, when this is over, if it will change her behaviors and perhaps she’ll keep some battery-powered chargers around for her cell phone. “Oh, no..this almost never happens.”

You know, your house almost never burns down, you almost never have your car stolen, you almost never get cancer, and you almost never get disabled from your job….yet you have insurance in place for that, so why not this?

For these… clueless idiots…. it appears it truly is better to curse the darkness than buy generator.

My buddy on the other side of town is still without power after a transmission tower (not a power pole, mind you…a transmission tower) decided to go horizontal not far from him. Is he inconvenienced? Yes. He has no internet. Is he still in the game? Absolutely. He has not one but two of the Honda generators. He’s got his freezer, fridge, lights, cell phone charger, and all the other accoutrements of civilization up and running. And he has some stored gas on hand to keep it that way. As his neighbors live out the lifestyle of “Home & Garden: North Korea Edition”, my buddy drinks hot coffee, has lights, has communication, and can continue to run his business. (And also the means to keep it if someone decides his bit of civilization needs to become their bit of civilization.)

I still need to do some after action things… I need to top off the tank on the generator, get all the cords in one place, put some emergency lighting in that one place, log the run time for the generator, pick up some accessories for the extension cords, etc. But, all in all, the generator did the trick.

The EU2000 is too small to run the entire house, but Im thinking of picking one circuit in the house and seeing if I can’t have an electrician come in and set that one circuit up with a transfer switch. That way, I can have one room of the house with the outlets running. The alternative, which I’m also seriously considering, is an entirely new circuit throughout the house of emergency ‘red outlets’ that are completely independent of the house panel and would solely be connected to the generator.

The Honda EU2000 usually runs right around a grand. Worth it.

The folks you meet

There’s always that question of ‘how do I meet other like-minded individuals to network with?’. I’m of the opinion that putting an ad in the back of American Survival Guide or on a forum is a last resort sort of thing. There’s too much risk of winding up auditioning a revolving door of whackos and nutjobs, all the while compromising PerSec.

I am firmly of the opinion that if you really want to meet folks, the best way is to observe and casually work up to broaching the subject with the new person. Today was a fairly good example….

My regular letter carrier (or as we used to call them, “mailman”) is on vacation. The little truck pulls up in front of the shop and a guy gets out. We make some small talk as he checks for my mail. I comment about how it sucks that he has this open-air cab and all he has to cool off is a fan. As I look in the vehicle two things jump out at me….the radio he has on the dashboard and a backapck on the floorboards. The backpack is a coyote, MOLLE-covered bag. “I like your bag”, says I. “Yeah, I got it from online from Botach. Its been a great bag, I can’t kill it.” Hmmm. We shop at some of the same places. I also notice the Sangean radio sitting on the dashboard isn’t one of the cheap models…this one has a few bells and whistles that would be of interest to folks like you and I.

So….shops at the same tactical gear places and appreciates the quality gear. So far, this sounds like it’s possible he’s on the same wavelength as me on a few things. Maybe next time I see him I’ll ask if he’s done any shooting lately…really? With what guns?….Ah, I have one of those too….etc, etc. Then after a while we do some more small talk about interests and soon you’re pretty confident about whether he’s on the same page as you. And that’s the point you decide if you want to pursue this further and bring them into your little circle of friends or not.

It takes a little time, yes. It’s not as fast as walking up to a strange and saying “Hey, you got an AR, some MRE’s, a stash of gold and a water purifier? How about that last election…who’d ya vote for? Cool..cool. Wanna see my bunker?”, but it’s also far less risky in terms of what information you put out there and, more importantly, what kind of impression you give other people. You tip your cards to the wrong person and they go and tell everyone back at work about the ‘crazy survivalist’ guy that is on their route….nobody needs that kinda headache.

Of course, this is just my opinion…maybe you’ve had a different and better experience doing it a different way. If so, I’d find it interesting to hear about it.

Bandoleer stuff

Unsurprisingly, I had a bunch of loose .223 ammo sitting aound that really needed to be organized better. A cardboard box full of 1000 loose rounds of ammo is no way to show up for the apocalypse.

When I go to the range, and I’m shooting .223 (or 5.56 [and, yeah, I know they’re different]) I usually pack them in a plastic 50-round ammo box. Other than keeping things neat and tidy, it also keeps me from turning too much money into noise.

But…for packing ammo away for that rainy day, I rather prefer to store .223 in bandoleers.

clips

Classic four-pocket bandoleer set

If you’re not familiar with them, a proper bandoleer contains a cloth bandoleer, ammo on stripper clips, cardboard inserts for the bandoleer pockets, a stripper clip guide (‘spoon’), and a safety pin to hold the spoon to the bandoleer. This is pretty much how they’ve been packing the stuff since Vietnam.

556x45mm55tracerfederalammocan-840-7_1

New-style four-pocket set

The idea is not, as some geniuses would have you think, to carry this stuff around and then load magazines from stripper clips in the heat of battle. The idea is that it’s a convenient way to stage and transport a basic loadout of ammo. Original bandoleers were seven pockets holding 20 rounds each, for a total of 140 rounds. Of course, that was back when 20-round magazines were the norm. Nowadays there are bandoleers out there that are four pockets holding 30 rounds each. I’m a bit of a worst-case-scenario kinda guy, so I go with the seven-pocket bandoleer but put three clips in each pocket.

The bandoleers, spoons, and stripper clips are quite reusuable and its the rare survivalist that doesnt have some of them floating around in the garage or in his junk bin. But those damn cardboard inserts….they tend to get lost, destroyed, and they’re kind of a pain in the ass to source out. Now, I’ve got a shopping bag full of stripper clips, a cardboard box full of bandollers, and no 3-clip cardboard inserts. What to do, what to do…….

Naturally enough, a quick trip to Amazon showed that, yes, you could get the 3-clip cardboards there. Gotta love that instant gratification enabling that is Amazon. Ordered ’em up and a few days later -voila-:

20150607_201414So what do you do with them once they’re loaded up? Well, I dunno what you do with ’em, but I pack ’em away in some .30 cal. ammo cans until the day when I need them. Then I can grab a rifle, a couple mag pouches of magazines, throw one or two of these bandoleers over my shoulder, and head for the hills.

Is this superior to storing your ammo loose in an ammo can? I think so. For one thing, it makes an easy and quantifiable amount…one bandoleer is 210 rounds. (As opposed to a couple fistfuls of .223 which may or may not be enough to fill all your mags.) The stripper clips keep things nice and tidy, and load mags a heck of a lot faster than by onesies.

For range trips, I still use the plastic ammo boxes..but they don’t fit into BDU pockets very well, are noisy, and still require you to load your mags one cartridge at a time…all things that arent really a big deal at the range. I suppose some might question the utility and practicality of the bandoleers but I find them to be a convenient way of grabbing a ‘pre-measured’ amount of ammo, and also a convenient way to carry it.