The Bucket…

Today I want to go over a piece of kit that I have been playing with for some time now and including in some of my trips:  The Five Gallon Bucket.

image1The five gallon bucket is a staple of the construction site, disaster response, prepper supply rooms, etc and for good reason they accomplish a lot of tasks pretty well.  Add a Gamma Seal lid and for roughly a two pound weight penalty you get a waterproof container to keep water in OR out, a close to air tight container for food or anything else you can imagine, and a long list of improvisations from toilet to washing machine.

I routinely travel both domestically and internationally with my North Face Base Camp Duffell bags (medium for carry-on and extra large for checked) and have no issue fitting one or even two five gallon buckets in the XL bag.  On a trip last year where I needed to take a good bit of food with me I loaded a weeks worth of food for two people into two five gallon buckets with gamma lids which protected the food and other gear from occupying the same space, nobody likes dry oatmeal in their socks.  Just sayin’.

image1(1).jpeg

On my most recent trip to the Caribbean I nested fins and booties for snorkeling/SCUBA into a single bucket and left the lid off, packed in the same bag.  Two pound weight penalty for a bit of added security.  Upon arrival I filled the bucket up with five gallons of clean drinking water in the event that water became scarce.  Having been in regions where water and other resources are not as reliable as at home I liked the security of having the clean drinking water available if it was needed along with all the other potential uses of the bucket it was more than worth it to sacrifice two pounds of gear allowance.
image1(2)I am going to keep working this concept to try and optimize it for travel but suffice to say as long as I am carrying a large enough checked bag to include one you will continue to see me include a bucket and lid on trips.

The bucket shown is a basic food safe bucket and Gamma lid purchased from a local big box hardware store for roughly $15.  I went with the food safe marked one for the sake of holding drinking water, cost over a standard branded bucket was a few dollars.

I have a long laundry list of improvised uses but I am curious to hear yours.  Comment here or on one of the social media platforms.

Stay Sharp,

Mike G.

Posted in Disaster, Field Gear, preparation, preparedness, prepps | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MoraKniv of Sweden product added

Close to six months ago I signed up for a class with Tony Nester at Ancient Pathways, a survival and bushcraft school, and started packing my bags for two days in Arizona.  The course was a ‘modern survival’ course based off of the bug out bag or get home bag concept.  While packing gear I had to choose which blade(s) I felt were most appropriate for the course.  I snagged one of my general purpose fixed blades and my Chris Reeves Sebenza as well as a Leatherman multi-tool along with an assortment of other gear and caught my flight.  After arriving at class I got a quick intro to the school and Tony made a small list of products available for students to purchase on sight; products that he personally vouched for and had good experience with during his extensive time in the field.  One of those items was a MoraKniv.  Being one to ‘immerse’ myself in what instructors have to offer I opted to pick up one of the knives and use it during the two day course.

FullSizeRender(1).jpg
While I had heard of Mora Knives prior to this course I had always ignorantly shunned them because of the price point and the fact that they weren’t full tang.  I mean how can a sub $20 knife that looks like it would be sold next to the register at a bait and tackle shop be a formidable tool of survival and fieldcraft?  Admittedly a bit elitist and looking back a bit off base.  In regards to the lack of full tang construction it doesn’t hold back the functionality or durability of the knife even when performing aggressive maneuvers like batoning.  All that said, Mora has recently released a full tang model that should be delivered mid-2016 albeit with a $100 price tag.
After talking with Tony about why he likes the Mora knives I started to appreciate his selection and wish I had given them a chance sooner.  At a $20-25 MSRP and street price of $15-20 depending on model and features you can get a razor sharp ~4 inch carbon steel blade that holds an edge, is easy to sharpen, and even functions as a striker (important to choose carbon steel models for this) that comes with rubber handle and a polymer sheath.  A great option at a price point that allows users to stash them in contingency bags, vehicles, tool boxes, tackle boxes, around the house, caches, etc or to keep for barter or as gifts to build relationships in the field.

For initial addition to the site I went with the Companion HD with carbon steel blade in a subdued green and hi-viz orange depending on the environment you are working in.  The HD or Heavy Duty models feature a 3.2mm blade, compared to the 2.0mm blade on the standard Companion for added strength although at a slight compromise to blade flex that some find nice during some operations.

Product pages:
MoraKniv Companion HD – Orange

1061_3cd4d0198058daf26e3bda6f7cfd500c.jpg
MoraKniv Companion HD – Military Green

1060_9d22a10b4cd26b210794bd90204b8bf6.jpg

Keep an eye out for other MoraKniv products, mods, and general information in the future.

Stay Sharp,
-Mike G
Keep up to date with APC:
E-Mail
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Case Against That “Special” Mag

I occasionally hear people mention that they carry one or two magazines with “special” ammo in it, just in case something special happens.  I can remember doing this, among other things like a mixed load in my shotgun (birdshot, buckshot, slugs), a mag of JHP and a mag of FMJ for my pistol to address vehicle based threats, or a variety of mags for my rifle to address various threats.  My argument to myself at the time was that I would have a mix of ammo solutions to address a variety of threats or potential problems.  What I was actually doing was trying to come up with a technology fix for an inability to problem solve on the spot or proper equipment selection ahead of time.

These days I try to pick the best platform for my perceived threats and skill level and I pick the most appropriate ammo and standardize for as deep as I expect to use that platform.  I will give an example:  I have a couple rifles that I rotate through truck duty, they are all zeroed on a single lot of AE223BK that I have a couple of cases of.  Now this is not a spectacular round by any means, it is a solid range round with decent accuracy and tolerable terminal performance.  What it does have is a fairly good reliability, it is prevalent and easy to acquire in bulk, feeds reliably in my guns, has minimal variation from round to round, and I have yet to have a failure in this model.  This round also allows me to have a loaded plate carrier, chest rig, spare mags in my rifle case, spare mags over the safe, spare mags scattered all over vehicles, work, and home that are from the same lot with plenty left over that I can confirm zero on those guns promptly after any modifications to the gun or routinely for confirmation.

If I had this level of depth with green tip M855 I would not be able to confirm zeros as easily at my primary range due to steel traps and the price would be slightly higher.  If I had this level of depth with a boutique round that wasn’t armor piercing I would be able to zero and confirm my gun regularly but the cost would be significantly higher and I may not be as apt to replace the ammo as often to account for exposure to the elements, etc.

If I had a mixture of ammo I would be giving up my ability to surgically apply force due to different zeros for each load along with the delay in application of that force by introducing a decision to load or not load a different round into the gun.

Some may say the difference between two rounds of the same caliber at common defensive ranges is minimal and will make no difference.  I would have probably agreed with that statement some time ago until I recently setup a couple stages of fire for a pistol shoot and shot one for a demo.  The stage was a 10yd hostage shot from the holster.  I didn’t want to use up my carry ammo so I snagged a free box of frangible 124gr from the range and loaded up a mag with a few rounds.  I didn’t need much as it was a single shot to the brain box, GO or NO GO.  I setup the timer, BUZZZ, draw, sights, trigger, sights, assess.  My shot was in the hairline, about 4″ high and an inch or so to the left.  I scolded myself and setup the shot again, round number two broke the line of the first shot.  Slow fire on the correct sight picture for shot number three and clover leaf, all three shots within the size of a nickel.  This ammo was different enough to be off 4″ at 10yds from my standard load, significant enough to be a NO GO at a high value shot and potentially the difference between a loved one living or dying.

I am not saying there is no use for boutique or specialty ammo BUT you need to understand that anything worth doing is worth going all in on.  If I transition to a specialty round for my truck rifle I will buy enough to outfit all the mags stashed in the truck, armor, chest rig, and enough to zero and confirm zero at least once a month for a year.  This prevents any gaps in the ability to deliver accurate fire across the entire load out AND allows me to confirm zero regularly in the event that I need to change the configuration of the carbine OR zero for another round for high round count training and return to my ‘operational’ ammo.

Ask any upper level instructor with a background in Special Operations and they will place an emphasis on a consistent ability to ‘stand and deliver’ on the clock and at distance.  Having multiple ‘operational’ rounds in your kit for each caliber diminishes this capability.

So, in short, pick a round that you can get easily and use without restriction in your area, and standardize on it for carry.  Learn the limits of that round and how to overcome those limits through tactics and application.

 

I use ‘operational’ loosely, don’t read too far into it.  It is just easier to use than duty/CCW/defensive/etc.

 

Until next time, Stay Sharp.

Mike G

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Vehicle Operations – Staging Trauma Kits

In this blog article we are going to discuss a few aspects of setting up trauma kits for vehicles.  My main focus of this article is not to convince the reader that they should have one but to address the need for staging multiple small trauma kits.  This is primarily for people that either spend a lot of time driving where the risk of being involved in an accident is higher than usual and in particular for people that need to be prepared to fight from and around a vehicle, i.e. law enforcement, Military, PSD, armored vehicle personnel, etc.

The below teaser pic that went up on Facebook is of a kit I keep in both front doors of my personal vehicle.  I also keep one of these stashed in the cargo area.door panel trauma kit

Why so many small kits instead of a single large kit?  Well, I also have a couple of large kits but these smaller kits have a different function.  Staging smaller kits around the vehicle allow me to access them even if I don’t have access to the large kit in the rear cargo area of the vehicle.  The two primary scenarios of concern for me are fighting around a vehicle and having to use the vehicle for cover and being involved in a collision where I am pinned in the vehicle and unable to self-extricate.  In both scenarios a large portion of the vehicle is not available to me either by threat of gunfire or due to having some portion of my body mashed in the vehicle and the possibility of injury is high.

Most readers have seen the multiple detailed reports of the North Hollywood Shootout where multiple officers were injured by two gunman attempting to rob a bank.  In this single event multiple officers used vehicles as moderately effective cover and became trapped behind those vehicles unable to reach equipment or support until being rescued by others.  While you can’t stage an armored personnel carrier in your door you can store “Bandaids and Bullets”.

police cruiser three kits

In this image the red boxes indicate staged equipment, positioned for accessibility to both front seat passengers while in the vehicle and provides good access while using the vehicle as cover from various directions of attack.

police cruiser two kits

In this image the number of kits is reduced but access is still fairly good.  The advantage of this placement is that in the event of a door collision the kit would still be available to the occupants.

Both of the examples given are specifically focused at LE where the rear seat is commonly caged for transport.  If you are setting up a personal vehicle, PSD sedan or SUV, or any other type of vehicle keep in mind the areas you will be sitting if involved in a collision as well as what areas will be accessible if you have to use the vehicle for cover during a shooting.

Also, remember that these kits should not replace a large kit if you are trained in using one.  These kits are designed to treat immediate life threats in the immediate moments after a collision or during an ongoing firefight.

Until next time, stay sharp.

-Mike G

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dental First Aid

Dental issues are one of those problems that is generally not acutely life threatening but can have a serious impact on comfort, function, and the ability to hydrate and nourish.  In some cases they can be life threatening but usually afford the patient some warning, if they are paying attention.

NOTICE:  This is a blog article and not an instruction manual or training course.  It is up to the reader to accept that they will not become a dentist or even a remote medicine practitioner by reading this article.  Don’t rely solely on this article for the education necessary to treat dental issues even at the first aid level.

Because dental issues are generally not life threatening preparation for treating these issues gets little attention or concern and when something arises both patient and provider start to appreciate the level of discomfort that can come from a cavity or a fractured tooth, among other problems.  Below I am going to provide a basic list of dental first aid items to handle common issues in the field until you can get to a provider who has a more capable knowledge base and tool box.

-Dental floss.  For kits I often use non-waxed for cleaner packaging.  Used for cleaning debris from between teeth and moving gums.

-Toothpicks.  Used for manipulating tissue and filler material.

-Q-tips.  Used for applying medication or drying surfaces.

-24″ of 30ga stainless wire.  Used for buddy splinting a tooth among other more advanced techniques.

-Assortment of sutures, 3-0 and 5-0 generally work well.  Used for securing a tooth in place or repairing a laceration.

-Temporary filling material.  Obvious.

-Small tube of Benzocaine dental pain gel.  Topical pain management.

-1/2 of an emory board (cut down).  Reprofiling sharp tooth surfaces.

-Scalpel blade.  I use #11 the most.  Draining an abscess or manipulating tissue for wound repair.

-Dental wax.  More temporary filler material.

-Cotton gauze or preferably the small cotton rolls.  Saliva management!

 

All of this will fit in one of the large rectangular dental floss containers if you strip out the roller.  Unfortunately these are harder to come by as most manufacturers have gone to the smaller cases.  If you can’t come by one of these a small travel soap dish will work fine and give you a tray to work from.  This is the basic kit and can accomplish a lot but for a minimal amount of time, think 1-2 days.  If you have more space adding the following items with add a significant capability and ease to treatment BUT they take up space.

-Mirror.  Visibility and manipulation.

-Probe.  Manipulation and assessment.

-Tweezers.

-Eugenol liquid.  Cleaning and pain control.

-Salt.  Global oral cleaning.

With the total of the two above lists you can replace a filling, cement down a cap, stabilize a crown-root fracture, wire in a jaw fracture, repair an oral laceration, smooth off and seal chips/dentin exposures, treat thrush, among other items.

High yield concepts:

-An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment.  Take care of your mouth.  Two cleanings per year, brush before and after sleep, and consume a good diet low in sugar.

-Address small issues before they become big issues.  A small cut or a small cavity can be stabilized with regular brushing and mouth rinses.  Fixing a small tooth fracture with a sharp edge early on will prevent the patient from rubbing their tongue raw compounding discomfort.

-A clean and dry workspace is necessary for any patch or filling to be effective.  All but the most temporary coverings need to be put onto clean surfaces to prevent undermining healthy material.  Non-dry surfaces will not hold sealant or filler.  Breaking a healthy tooth yields clean surfaces, breaking a tooth due to a cavity yields a dirty tooth.  Keep this in mind during your assessment and decision process.

-When in doubt rinse with saltwater.  Got a cut in the mouth?  Think you have an abscess?  Think you have a cavity?  Tooth fractured below the gum line?  Rinsing with salt water can help improve or stabilize infection and bacteria/fungus growth in the mouth.  Warm clean water mixed with table salt 4-6-8 times per day will stabilize many issues.  This is not a cure-all but it is damn close.

-If you don’t know what to do, rinse with salt water and control pain.

Look for more dental info down the road.  In the mean time, if dental treatment is an interest of yours “Where there is no dentist” is a great resource.

 

Stay sharp,

Mike G

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

NJ Home Invasion, some take aways


This video of a vicious home invasion in NJ has been making the rounds all day.  Add a story about a assault and battery in a line waiting for tennis shoes and a woman who calls 911 and the dispatcher advises her that the local sherriff has no personell on duty and the state police are not available.  Three separate incidents that highlight the fact that you are on your own during the minutes preceeding and following an attack.  It is what you do during this time that will decide your fate.  Luckily for this family she survived despite the best efforts of the bad guy.  That being said, this perpetrator should have been the one laying in the floor unable to move in response to overwhelming force.

Step 1:  Be aware.  Many people walk through life believing that bad things only happen on the news, other countries, or the other side of town, never to them.  If you don’t acknowledge that something bad can happen to you it will be very difficult to prepare for bad things that may happen.

Step 2:  Take precautions.  Precautions are very basic steps that can be taken, often without any expense, and easily developed into habits.  In the case of being at home, the first step is to keep the doors and windows locked.  This step will dissuade many home invaders of the opportunity type.  Those that wish to proceed will have to overcome the strength of the lock/door/window/etc affording anyone inside time and warning to respond to an attack and in the case of an empty house forcing entry leaves evidence and will possibly alert neighbors.  This seems like a common sense habit but I am amazed at how many home invasions I read about where the perpetrator simply walked into an unlocked home.  Think it is odd to keep your door locked while at home?  Consider how many projects and activities you do in your home where a stealthy invader could make it inside and close the distance with you and your family.  Similar precautions can be taken when out of the home such as locking your car door.  Sitting in venues where you can see entrances and exits, etc.  All of these precautions give you advanced notice of an attack IF you are paying attention.  Advanced notice = time and time = survival.

Step 3:  Be Prepared.  Many who read this blog are already gun owners and most of this blog seems like I am preaching to choire but it needs to be said.  There is evil in the world and they will use deadly physical force against you for no other reason than you are in their path (see video).  Being prepared mentally, physically, and logistically to respond in kind is what will increase your chances of survival should your AWARENESS and PRECAUTIONS not keep you out of the path of destruction.  Remember, the good guys can do everything right but the bad guy still gets a vote.  Carry your gun!  Train to use it!

Step 4:  Have a plan.  You need to wargame.  When you are at home you should have a plan of attack/defense, hardened fall back points within the home that improve your ability to fight by channeling your attackers and reducing their avenues of assault, and pre-stage the ability to fight, communicate, and treat wounds resulting from the fight.  This may seem like overkill but it can be as simple as stashing a pistol, trauma kit, and burner cell phone in the night stand of your bedroom or some other appropriate location in your home.  Remember this plan is useless if you live in home with others but you are the only one that knows about it.

Simply following these steps increases your chances of never being involved in such a situation, attackers tend to avoid hard targets but if your day comes you will at least be prepared to respond.

Spread the word, many times I find that the same people who refuse to carry or even own a gun because they won’t accept that evil exists also won’t take simple steps like paying attention to their surroundings or simply locking their doors.

Until next time, stay sharp.

-Mike G

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Contingency Kits – Fire/Heat category

Continuing with the series “Contingency Kits”, I want to address a few major categories that will be common across a wide variety of missions or environments.  I say common because while you may carry something that falls into this category it can be used for different purposes and in different manners based on where you are and what you are doing.  My point in this approach is to get the user thinking about what they need based on the circumstances they may find themselves in.

This entry will cover the Fire/Heat category.  This category is pretty broad because of all the things that fire/heat can be used for such as morale, maintaining body temp, signaling, light, cooking food, sterilizing/pasteurizing/sanitizing water and equipment, destroying sensitive documents or equipment, etc.  Because of the wide variety of uses there are hundreds of ways to harness this power from a ferro rod to a thermite grenade and everything in between, you have to be careful in deciding what is appropriate for your application.

Below I have photograph a variety of fire/heat tools:

fire making tools
This image is not all inclusive but includes a wide variety of items that most people would use.

While most survival kits will include a few matches, a ferro rod and striker, and maybe a fire starter or fuel tab I don’t think many consider the usefulness of such items in their expected environments.

Ignition sources:  Manufactured ignition sources have a variety pros and cons.  Matches are generally easy to light but can go out rapidly from wind and are functionally one time use.  Lighters can be used repeatedly but may be damaged by moisture or impact and may not give a good indication of being out of fuel or the fuel may be lost due to evaporation or incidental activation.  Ferro rods and flint and steel are great at being resistant to the elements, impact damage, and they are multi-use but they require more skill and it is functionally impossible to light a candle directly.  Flares and thermite are great for an intense fire but are hard to control and bulky for lighting a small campfire but excel at signaling and document or material destruction.  Water activated and non-flame heating elements can be lumped into this category but have limited use generally associate to heating water or food, supplementing body temps, or limited applications in signalling.  These are great when you need a no-flame solution to a niche problem but generally should not be used as a stand alone solution.

Sustainment:  Choosing a fuel for sustainment is just as important as choosing an appropriate ignition source as some fuels are not functional in certain environments or with certain ignition sources.  Pocket lint is great for use with most ignition sources to get a ‘birds nest’ started to light larger fuel but it will not burn for very long and doesn’t work well when it gets wet.  Add some petroleum jelly based product and it is slightly  more difficult to light but moisture resistant and will burn longer.  Dense wood based fire starters similar to fire logs will burn for a while and are fairly moisture resistant but require a lighter or the full burn time of a match to ignite.  FastFire tabs are water resistant, light easily with a variety of ignition sources and can be extinguished and reignited easily although they are not recommended for cooking food whereas esbit tabs can be used for cooking with a pot or pan but are harder to light initially and more difficult to extinguish and relight.  Candles are great because they are easily controlled and generally water resistant but they are difficult if not impossible to light with ferro rod or flint and steel.  One item I am really fond of is the vaseline gauze, it is easily lit with a match or lighter, able to lit with ferro rod and with a little practice can be turned into an improvised candle.  I get an average of 7-8 minutes out of one, not great but decent and easy to carry.

Choosing what to pack:  I like to carry a variety of options that offer some redundancy.  A common kit for me is a small bic lighter with the child safety mechanism removed, a ferro rod and striker, and matches for ignition sources and FastFire cubes, a vaseline gauze, and a candle for sustainment.  This kit allows me to start a fire in the woods or jungle or in an urban/cave/man-made structure environment I can sit in a modified Indian style around the candle to stay warm, use the vaseline gauze packaging reflector with the candle as a directional light.  This is a pretty generic kit that covers a pretty broad realm of environments BUT remember to be very analytical when examining your mission or trip to evaluate your needs.  Sometimes a road flare and a squeeze bottle of kerosine is more appropriate.

In all cases, I recommend practicing the use and application of tools and techniques before you are freezing and losing dexterity or trying to burn up a disabled vehicle in a non-permissive environment and realize your techniques suck.

Until next time, stay sharp.

-Mike G

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment