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Uncle John’s Truck: A Story of Coming to Manhood in Rural America (part 1)

When I first turned 16 my mom cashed in a savings bond that my grandma had left her, when she died, and bought me my first car. It was an old Ford  Focus with balding tires and I had found it while walking home one night from my part time job at McDonalds.

Mom was not thrilled with it, (she said it smelled “pissy”), but I loved it. It was white and the air conditioner didn’t work, and my dad had to buy me an aftermarket radio for Christmas that year so that I could stand to drive in it – in the summer – with the windows rolled down.

I only had it a year.

My dad is a cop and I have an older brother who is in the Marine Corps. Both of them are rough knuckled, aggressive men who spent hours and years sweating and grunting like pigs in a little, local judo dojo. My dad tried to get me started into that mess too, but it never really made sense to me. My soul led me into less hostile endeavors and I decided to pursue a career as a firefighter. I would rather nurture than kill it seems.

I enrolled in a firefighting program, in my sophomore year of high school, and it was while pursuing this training that I lost my car.

It was a typical hot day in the spring and I had just pulled up to a stop light in the middle of a large city that I had to travel through to get home from school. We had recently gone through EMT training and I had happened to bring a small medical kit with me that I planned to keep in my car in case I should come upon an accident or find someone in need; when suddenly, I was involved in an accident and discovered a need…

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Survival News: Reviewing the Tom Brown Jr. Tracker™ Knife

I have been a survivalist for about thirty-five years now. I have also been a student of Tom Brown Jr.; having attended his standard class twice in the late 80’s. Back when I started learning this type of bushcraft, it was standard to head out into the wilderness with at least a bowie knife and a tomahawk. Those days; however, are over it seems. This is because my beloved teacher and mentor, Tom Brown Jr. himself, has created his own brand of knife that he has named the Tracker™. This knife, (made popular by a movie of the same namesake), truly seems to be the “be all-end all” in relation to survival tools, and here’s why:

  1. It has a chopping blade. The front end of the blade is not only useful for the fine skill usage such as skinning or separating bone, it’s also heavy enough to fulfill other needs such as cutting down saplings, breaking apart bone, or even throwing if the need were to arrive.
  2. It has a wood splitter. Another function of the tomahawk was that of splitting or shaping pieces of wood to make axe handles, bow drills, etc… The Tracker knife has a back portion of the blade that is perfect for splitting with an offset portion of the blade set aside for precision striking.
  3. It serves as a notch cutter. Often you find the need to carve notches for survival, making a survival bow or building a bow-drill fire set for instance. The top of the blade is serrated to make cutting notches very easy to do.
  4. There are many other functions too. Tiny notches on the wedge section of the blade work to trim cordage or cut fuzz sticks. The front and rear lanyard holes,  (on the handle and the kydex sheath respectively), serves in a pinch as a makeshift bow for a bow-drill, the offset curve of the wedge serves as a perfect surface for fleshing a hide.
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A rough winter: 6 survival tips and tricks to get you through

I happen to own, through inheritance, a horse farm that I rent to others more prone to enjoy such things. Though I have had my time in the saddle, I have never really grown to enjoy it. Instead I like to be in the woods, either taking photographs or living by limiting myself to a survival bowie, a handful of salt, and the clothes I’m wearing… or both. I recently awoke to my telephone buzzing incessantly at 11:30 at night, it was a text from my renter, it said simply: “There’s no water”

We have just had a pretty good cold snap here in Ohio, and water, as it’s prone to do when exposed to freezing temperatures, will freeze. And so, I was a bit perplexed by the fact that this gentleman was calling my at 11:30 at night because his water was froze, and it made me think that perhaps we as a society have gotten to the place where we are way too dependent on others for our very existence.  So, here are six tips to keep in mind as we head into what’s likely to be a very cold, rough winter.

  1. Watch those forecasts. We have come a long way from the old Native American “weather rock” days. Modern forecasters are able to predict the weather to within ten degrees of authenticity and so we should not be surprised by any cold snap in this day and time.
  2. Make sure you are cognizant of the sacred four needs for survival. Those are: shelter, water, fire, and food. These four things are all that you need to live, or should I say… exist. This is the bare minimum that you must have to keep your heart beating, and that, in the end, is what survival is all about.
  3. Gather old clothes, dry foliage, hay, straw, etc. We are kept warm in cold times by dead air space. That is basically a layer of air formed between you and the environment that your body will heat up and maintain an aura of warm air around you. Therefore, if you want to survive a cold snap that involves your heat source going out, you need to learn to bundle up. Pile in blankets, stuff clothing with paper, cloth, stuffing, etc… and remember to stay dry.
  4. Have alternative shelter available. A nice tent, tarp, or even a small camper available for in the event that you lose heat in your house, or if you lose your house such as in a flood, earthquake, or fire, will be invaluable and none of these options are very expensive.
  5. Keep a  reserve of water somewhere.  Or get a means to purify water easily. You can’t last more than three days without it, but there are many easy ways to gather water during a cold snap. Frost and snow can easily be turned into potable water.
  6. Get some food together before you need it. You don’t want to have to eat poor old Fido because you didn’t prepare for an emergency. There are plenty of surplus MREs and if you’re not into that, you can find freeze dried meals at your local outdoor pursuit center. If you don’t have the budget for that, sardines at the dollar store are a great alternative.
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3 Points That MUST be Considered: A Survivalists View of Climate Change

By: Mr. X, survivalist

If you’re anything like me, then you are tired to hell of hearing about climate change, the green new deal, or anything else that stinks of political talking points… from either side of the agenda.

But with the advent of this debate, especially when taking into account the argument that we must change our lifestyle as human beings to accommodate global warming, I’m a bit perplexed. I’m perplexed primarily because of the fact that the way I was taught in my science classes, this earth has gone through no less than 5 complete ice ages. Five times this earth has had to adjust itself by global warming followed by global cooling, etc… Yet we have still gotten to where we are. Now, this point is being brought up outside of the concept of God. I personally am a devoutly religious person, but just for the sake of the argument I’m going to leave God out of it and strictly discuss the science of this matter.

I am personally unconcerned with the threat of global warming and it’s impact on the human race, and here are three reasons why:

  1. The earth has been binging and purging for centuries. As I mentioned before, this earth has gone through this process many times before, and most likely, has done so without the help of humankind. That’s not been proved; however, and there are theories in place that perhaps these past ice ages were the direct result of human, or human-like interference, but there is no evidence to support such a claim.
  2. Human’s are adaptable to stress. In a study by Akira Yasukouchi (1), it was determined that humans exposed to environment changes are generally exposed to very slight levels of stress over time. This is especially true when the environmental changes are experienced to a moderate degree, such as the raising, (or lowering), of the temperature that one experiences over the seasons.

  3. Stress induces adaptation in human temperature. Christaan H. Vinkers et al. (2) have determined that environmental induced stress actually effects the very temperature that the human body maintains itself at. Therefore, as the environment changes, (either by warming or cooling), which it is going to do with or without the help of humankind, our bodies will adapt to compensate.

 

 

(1) Yasukouchi A, Yasukouchi Y, Ishibashi K (2000) Effects of color temperature of fluorescent lamps on body temperature regulation in a moderately cold environment. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci 19: 125–134

(2) Vinkers CH, Penning R, Ebbens MM, Hellhammer J, Verster JC, Kalkman CJ, Olivier B. (2010). Stress-induced hyperthermia in translational stress research. The Open Pharmacology Journal 4:30–5.

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Survival 102: Growing Your Own Garden

I’m all for saving money, and one of the ways I do that is I have a backyard vegetable garden.
Right now half of you are thinking; “too much work”, or, “I don’t have a large yard or a tiller”.
That’s the beauty about this. I’m talking about raised bed garden, or gardening in pots. No expensive equipment needed, and fresh veggies from spring through fall.
You can go as elaborate or as simple as you like. You can buy the expensive cedar range beds at the garden center; or go to a home-improvement store, buy a couple of boards, (and usually they will cut them for free), and build your own.
Just a tip; keep your eyes open in late July into the fall when stores are clearing out their gardening supplies. You can find deals on beds, tools, pots, and seed.
Now, the whole point of this is growing stuff that you really like, (and buy regularly), at the store or farmers market like: salsa! Plant a tomato plant or two, a jalapeño pepper, and some cilantro. Buy the onion and garlic; they keep well, and when limes are on sale freeze the juice. Ta-da you’ll have the makings for fresh salsa on hand all year long and it will be so much better than that canned store-bought stuff.
Many plants now have been bred to be a bush type plant. That’s great for small gardening spaces, plant a bush cucumber or squash bush and have plenty for the season. There are many lettuce varieties with more flavor and nutrients than your bag of iceberg mix sitting in the store, and there are no worries about recalls.
They also carry strawberry pots; more expensive than a build your own 4 x 4 or whatever size you choose raised bed, but they last for years and take up minimal space. Fill them with ever bearing strawberries and have fruit from June until frost.
There are so many ideas for a small garden, get online, go to your garden center and get more. The more ideas the better. The main idea is this: it shouldn’t take you 10 years to recoup what you have in it. You can keep on hand the vegetables and herbs that you use regularly you can monitor how much or if you want to spray with pesticides… my tip, try to go organic as much as possible always keep an eye out for sales, or end of season clearance hit… Buy the seed starters when they clear them out and grow the plants yourself from seed, so much cheaper! And last of all plant what do you like this should be fun and enjoyable not another chore or an unsightly weed patch!
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USMC: 7 new boots that are on the list

Do you remember the good old days when you were issued one pair of uniform boots of the same exact style as everyone else in your branch of the service? Well, those days are over, at least as far as it goes for the United States Marine Corps. In a recent article written for Military.com, the Marine Corps has, in an effort to continually improve the equipment and clothing of the branch, approved 7 new brands of combat service boots. “”

According to the article, “Marines can now choose from 16 different combat, rugged all-terrain or optional boots. The list of approved styles was released in a service-wide administrative message last week, which was signed by Lt. Gen. David Berger, the head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.”.

The article, written by journalist Gina Hawkins goes on to give a brief description of the merits of the new approved footwear, as well as a detailed listing of them and their manufacturer.
“These are the boots that were added to the list of officially approved footwear:

Combat:

  • Bates style No. E30502 (hot weather)

RAT:

  • Bates style No. 29502 (hot weather)
  • Wellco style No. E114 (temperate weather)

Optional:

  • Danner Reckoning boot style No. 53221
  • Bates lightweight style No. E50501 for men and E57501 for women
  • Danner’s Marine Expeditionary Boot style No. 53111 (temperate weather)
  • Danner’s MEB style No. 53110 (hot weather)

The Marine Corps first authorized Danner’s Reckoning hot-weather boot last year. Even though it wasn’t formally publicized, word spread quickly when the service started selling the boots in the exchanges, Hamby said.

The last time the list of authorized boots had been formally updated was in March 2016″.
What this means for the civilian military surplus community is that these same boots will at some point in time be made available as surplus. Because, even though the individual soldier will often purchase the footwear of his or her choice directly from the manufacturer, the military will still buy mass quanities of same for research, testing, deployment, etc…

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Sportsman’s ambiance: 3 must do steps for getting a hornet’s nest for your den

 

If you are a hunter, outdoorsman, sportsman, or even a survivalist or a prepper then it is most likely that you have a man cave somewhere. One of the aspects of having a man cave is having manly, out-doorsie things hanging up in it. An old snowshoe for instance, or a wretched old Coleman lantern. Anything that will put you in mind of an old Jack London style trapper cabin located on the tundra in the wilds of Alaska.

One of my favorite wall hangings is a deserted, (and completely vacated), hornet’s nest. The good news is that a hornet’s nest is not hard to find; the bad news? It’s difficult to vacate. The other good news is that nature and the changing environments will help you to get that perfect decoration.

Typically a bald-faced hornet’s nest is usually the size of a football or sometimes a basketball. They can, however, get much larger than that and of course you can find them much smaller as well. This nest is usually built over a period of half a year and is always started by the queen who emerges from hibernation in the spring and gets the business started by chewing wood pulp into paper, making brood cells and laying eggs in each cell. The workers are then hatched and take over the menial tasks while she lays eggs over the summer creating an army of workers which build and inhabit the nest.

Winter drives the queen back into hibernation while the workers all freeze to death until the next spring when the process starts all over again.

The nest that is left will never be inhabited by bald-faced hornets again!

Here are three things you must do to ensure you don’t have any hornets left in your nest before you take it into your man cave:

  1. Gather it in the winter. And if you have spotted a likely hornet’s nest, make sure that you gather it after the very coldest part of the winter. These workers have to get very cold to die and even then if they are still around they can be revived by warmth. Don’t be afraid to inspect the nest very closely before you take it inside.
  2. Smoke it. In the old days, people would get a smoky smoldering ember and let the smoke permeate the nest to ensure that the inhabitants had vacated it completely.
  3. Seal it. My favorite answer to this quandary is to seal the nest in shellac and make sure that whatever is in there will stay in there, and it will also make it a bit more durable to be used as a wall hanging. It is made out of rustic papers after all.
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Military surplus vehicles: 4 reasons to buy from the government

I was recently on a trip through a local state park with my wife when we saw little signs on garden stakes that said “Willy’s” with a directional arrow pointed neatly below.

Perplexed by what of “Willy’s” we were being directed to, (his funeral, wedding, what?), I followed the arrows obediently and came to this ancient, WWII era Willys truck. It was accompanied by several dozen other Willys vehicles and was in fact, part of a show of these old and restored vehicles that were so prevalent in helping the Allied forces win the last great war. I was excited to see that there was even a demonstration of various Willys vehicles planned; however, I soon lost that excitement somewhat as my wife made it clear that she had no intention of attending such a show, (interest in military surplus equipment doesn’t necessarily run in the family, you see)?

And so, here are four great reasons to invest in a military surplus vehicle and equipment:


  1. It is rugged and well built. Understand that these vehicles were designed to drive through the mud and brambles of unsettled Europe and Asia in order to sneak up on German and Japanese soldiers and subsequently bust their ass “good n proper”. They were designed of hard rubber and tempered steel that can last a long time and take a lot of abuse.
  2. It is simply made. Many modifications were made in the field with nothing more than a good, hot fire, some tongs formed from old crescent wrenches, and parts hammered out on a piece of rusty railroad track. They were made simply so that they could be repaired simply. No computer chips, metric bolts, or JIS screws will be found in these things.
  3. They are well designed. Every nook and cranny on a military surplus vehicle is there for a reason. They were made strictly for utility and not for aesthetics, though many of us warmonger types do find them to be aesthetically pleasing.
  4.  They hold their value. As I mentioned earlier, these vehicles seem to maintain a following for some reason, and as long as they are available, there will always be a group of aficionados who are going to want to purchase and own them.
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Survival 101: 3 predator attacks you can defend with just a knife,(if you must)

Ok, it doesn’t take me to tell you that it is foolish to fight a bear, cougar, wolf, or boar with a knife. But the fact of the matter is that you might very well find yourself in a situation where you are being mercilessly mauled in the wilderness by some beast that is bigger, stronger, and better armed than you.

At the least, you should always have a blade with you of six inches or more. I prefer to make my own Bowie knives and keep them at about twelve inches or so. Although I’m not looking forward to ver being in a knife fight with a super-predator, I would not give myself up for dead if I were. I can almost guarantee you will be forever changed, but wether you die or not depends on how much of, and what kind of, a fight you put up. Here are three of the most likely attacks you could experience, and some tactics you can deploy to try to survive them.

  1. Bear. I’m assuming that before you ever decide to fight a bear, you’ve already exhausted the bear spray, and have tried the “playing dead” tactic to no avail. In this instance your best bet is to feed him your off hand, (yes, right in his/her mouth), while simultaneously stabbing deeply from below, up into the brainpan. Once deeply into the skull you should pull with all your might to slice brain, tongue, and throat as much as possible. Bear in mind that this animal will shake the shit out of you as soon as it clamps down on your arm so cut quick and deep.
  2. Cougar. If you’ve never been close to a cougar, then you have no idea how scary these things are. They are most dangerous in their crushing bite and dis-embowling rear claws. Believe it or not a bear hug is a better defense than anything else, and an MMA “mount” position, (if you can get it), will keep those rear claws off of your belly and out of your testicles. I would try to drag this shivering, snarling thing to the nearest body of water and hold it under, raccoon style, until it quits bubbling.
  3. Wolf. These are the easiest to fight one on one but usually attack in packs. Sacrificing the offhand into the mouth leaves the sides, neck, and underside of the skull open for a good, deep stab wound.
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Survival 101: 3 ways to make your own knives

Two handmade knives constructed from re-purposed materials

If you are reading this the chances are that you are the type of person who is self sufficient and who wants to do things on your own.

I am the same way and am even self sufficient to the point that I make my own knives.  Though I am a big fan of shows such as “Forged in Fire“, I actually learned to hand forge and craft my blades from a American Blade Smith, (ABS), certified knife-maker.

The good news is that if you want to learn how to make your own knives, you don’t have to set up an apprenticeship for yourself, there are lots of resources available to you that will allow you to easily learn some simple ways of making your own knives.

Here are three methods that you can use to make your own knives for both survival and utility use. These are just concepts. The scope of this blog is too narrow to allow for the intricacies of techniques involved; however, these will give you some research direction if you are interested in pursuing these ideas.

(1). Forging and grinding. We forge first so that we don’t have to grind so much. Plain and simple, the easiest way to shape your steel is to get it pliable and hammer it in. This type of blade can usually be finished by hand with files and sandpaper and don’t actually require a grinder.

(2). Hollow grinding. This is a different form of bladesmithing that usually involves just grinding to shape the blade you want from a piece of steel. The blade angle in a hollow ground knife is very different from the blade angle in a forged knife usually, it is less tapered.

(3). Flint napping. This is the lowest form of knife-making but is the best to be known for survival situations.  Basically you take rocks to make the knives you need to use as tools.

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