Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review – The Glock 17


I suppose I am a bit late to this particular party. Gaston Glock first introduced the Glock 17 in the early 80s with his first military contract with the Austrian Army being signed in 1983. His US plant opened in Smyrna, Georgia in 1985 – and the rest, as they say, “is history”. Hundreds of reviews have been offered by the shooting community of this revolutionary hand gun. Why one more? A couple reasons:

It’s one of the three handguns I believe every shooter – especially new shooters – should own. Given my strong feelings, I think I need to offer a bit more than “because I said so”.

I want to present it from a “first gun purchase” point of view. If you have limited funds and want/need to purchase your first hand gun – I believe the Glock 17 (or sister Glock 19) should be your choice. You deserve an explanation for my strong belief in that.

It was unique at the time of its introduction – and continues to be unique in many different ways even today. The differences are worth noting.

It fits a broad range of needs for a new shooter, I want to detail them for you.

And, it’s “on my list” of posts I wanted to write. With all the Prepper posts lately, it’s time for a gun post – what better topic that a review of the Glock 17.


The Details

Let’s get to details out of the way:

  • Length: 8.03 in.
  • Height: 5.43 in.
  • Width: 1.18 in.
  • Sight Radius: 6.49 in.
  • Barrel Length: 4.48 in.
  • Weight – Unloaded: 22.22 oz.
  • Weight – Loaded: 32.12 oz.
  • Trigger Pull: 5.5 lbs
  • Trigger Travel: .49 in.
  • Barrel Rifling: Right Handed, Hexagonal
  • Twist Length: 9.84 in.
  • Capacity: 17 9x19 rounds
  • Safety System: Safe Action

So what does all this data mean? Let’s walk through it.

The Glock 17 is a “full sized” handgun. It is NOT a compact or sub-compact weapon. This implies that as a carry weapon, you will need to find a place/way of carry that fully conceals it while still allowing it to be easily accessible. My personal choice is a Blackhawk IWB holster worn at the 4 o’clock position. It conceals easily and draws smoothly from that position.

For the new shooter, most course work is done with an OWB holster worn on your dominant side. My choice in this environment is the Blackhawk Serpa holster.

In either case – concealed carry or course work – I find the Glock to be an excellent full sized handgun.

However, size does matter – and if you have a smaller frame I believe an excellent alternative is the Glock 19, a compact version of the Glock 17 and more easily concealed on a small framed individual.

Sight Radius is the distance between the rear and front sight. The longer the sight radius, the more accurate your sight alignment is. Since most defensive situations occur within a 50 ft. distance, sight radius is not a significant factor until you reach the sub-compact sized handguns where the sight radius can quickly drop to the 3 in. range or so. The Glock 17’s 6.49 in sight radius offers excellent accuracy out to 25 yards and beyond depending on the skill of the shooter.

Barrel Length allows the rifling of the grasp the bullet longer, increasing its spin and thereby increasing its accuracy. Sight radius and Barrel Length work together in this instance to insure that shot placement is dependent of the skill of the shooter – not the mechanics of the weapon.

Weight is simply weight. 1.25 pounds empty, slightly over 2 pounds full. It’s noticeable; especially if you have a poor holster or are wearing it is a position that is not comfortable. It is something that must be taken into consideration when choosing your clothing, your pistol belt and the position you choose to wear your weapon in.

Trigger Pull should be stiff enough to help reduce the possibility of a negligent discharge yet not be so stiff that your sight alignment is affected during your trigger press. 5.5 pounds is pretty much the “standard” weight for a defensive handgun. Although, some law enforcement communities move that all the way up to 10 pounds just as a reminder to the LEO that he/she is, indeed, pressing the trigger.

Trigger Travel is the physical distance your finger pad travels from the time you touch the trigger until it “breaks” and your weapon fires. Again, for defensive pistols, a half-inch has become a standard.

Rifling is the system of “lands” and “grooves” that grip the bullet as it travels through the barrel giving the bullet its spin. A hexagonal rifling pattern is fairly “aggressive” in its grip. This matters little for copper jacketed bullets, however for lead bullets; it can easily increase “leading” of the barrel requiring more frequent cleaning with solvents to remove the lead that is stripped off the cast bullet. The solution for this is to use cast bullets with a Brinell hardness number of 18 or so that have been sized – or drop in a replacement barrel built with a gentler rifling that will more readily accept cast lead bullets.

Twist is simply a measurement of how quickly the rifling makes a full revolution within the barrel. In the Glock 17’s case, it would take 9.84 in. for a full revolution to occur.

Capacity only becomes important if it becomes important. What happens when you fire the 6th round in a standard revolver and the threat isn’t down? What happens when the 7th round leaves the magazine of a standard 1911 and the threat isn’t down? What happens with multiple intruders come into your home? The 17-round capacity of a “double stack” Glock 17 magazine gives someone new to the defensive use of a handgun some true insurance should things go sideways on them. A second, fully loaded backup magazine increases this insurance. This is another reason I am fond of the Glock 17 for a new shooter.

Unique Aspects of the Glock 17

At the time of it’s introduction, it was unique in its blend of steel and plastic components. Components that were required to handle the pressures of a firing cartridge – barrel, return springs, striker, ejector, slide – were all made from steel components. Parts of the weapon that merely housed items like triggers, sears and other mechanical components – but did not have to absorb the massive pressures of a firing round, was made of strong plastics. The combination of these two materials – steel and plastic – resulted in a lighter handgun that was designed to fit a wide range of shooters. It instantly became a favorite handgun of military and police departments across the world.

Simple Disassembly / Reassembly

For the new shooter, I appreciate the simplicity of breaking down the weapon by simply drawing back the slide 1/8th inch, pulling down two small levers, and releasing the slide forward. The return spring, guide rod and barrel drop out easily. That is all that is needed to give the weapon a good field cleaning after a range trip.


Should the need arise, removing the retaining plate at the rear of the slide allows ease access to the extractor, striker and striker spring. Again, it’s very easy for the new shooter to master.

The ease of disassembly / reassembly encourages the new shooter to properly maintain their weapon. A habit that then can be transferred to more complex handguns should the shooter decide to use a different handgun platform.

Safe Action Safety

The safety mechanism is integrated into the trigger.  As you press the trigger, it releases a striker block allowing the striker to be fired when pressed to the rear.  this is one less operation to learn – disengaging the safety – prior to engaging an oncoming threat.  For the new shooter, this can be a real advantage at a critical time.


The Glock 17 is simply the most reliable semiautomatic handgun I have. And I have two of them. For personal defense, for defensive handgun courses – it simply goes BANG each and every time I press the trigger. This level of reliability is simply a must for the new shooter. If they must spend half their time clearing feeing malfunctions or weapons malfunctions – they will tire of learning this new craft and abandon it. Reliability is a KEY ingredient to my recommendation of the Glock 17.

So there you have it. Are you looking for your first defensive weapon? Your first “range gun”? Your first gun to take to your first shooting class? I strongly recommend you give full consideration of the Glock 17 . . . .

. . . . one of the handguns that needs to be in every shooter’s range bag.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Commentary - Memorial Day, our journey . . . .


Virtually all Americans have been touched by deaths that are remembered today. Whether they served side by side with them, sent them off to war, gathered their remains from the battlefield or the aircraft at the airport, wept as they held their flag and watched their warrior placed in their earth for their final rest . . . .

Most have their stories – tales of service, love of country, love of their fellow warriors . . . .

So many have given their “final measure” that allows me to sit and share my thoughts, allows me to attend Mass, allows me to live my life in the freedom that was given to us from God . . . .

Their total loss in our major wars is staggering when viewed together . . . . . there are many “minor” conflicts not listed – minor to history . . . . men and women still died.




American Revolution



Civil War



World War I



World War II













2001 - Present


I have thought of my lost friends this morning, in the quiet of a motel room still dark so my wife can sleep on a bit more. I have remembered each and once again said my “good byes” . . . . . they are not forgotten. There are five others that wandered into my thoughts while sharing my time with old friends . . . .

The names were there for the world to see in a painfully small graveyard that held our beginning, our history. Names of those who, without their courage, ferocity, dedication and sacrifice we would have been but one more little group of rabble the Crown had to crush into submission.

I searched for five – those who like so many – were simply in a place where it was “their day”. Still, their deaths became the very first in our long road of people’s sacrifice to a greater cause.

Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, Crispus Attucks and Patrick Carr


These were the first who gave their lives – a price they paid for our freedom. They have been joined by well over a million others since that day.

Our count, as a nation, began on March 5, 1770. It began here.


And it has been added to throughout the generations by those who hear and answer the call.

To all that have served – Thank you.

To all that have lost friends, relatives and buddies – we all remember and honor them.

To Absent Comrades . . . . Hear, hear!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Personal - Friendships . . . .


I have a belief that friendships are best fostered over a meal taken together. It is during the conversation that you can find the breadth and depth of a relationship. When the initial spark is fed and you get to see if you have a single, solitary item in common with this person . . . . or if there is a broader foundation to build from.

ME – Texting: Hey Ms. A, Susie and are going to be passing by on Friday. Would you be interested in getting together for supper??

Ms. A – Texting: Hi!!! Yes, it is only about 35-40 minutes south of us. We would love to come to see you!! Let me know a time and all that!

So plans were made, times and dates set . . . .

Tonight, after a year+ of reading “A Girl and Her Gun”’s blog – Susie and I had the great pleasure of meeting Ms. A and TSM over an absolutely amazing meal, a great bottle of wine and a “holy crap give me MORE of that” desert!

While you might expect the conversation would center on guns – it did not. It also included her training, Susie’s equestrian endeavors, our kids and grandkids, their kids and grandchild, jobs, individual passions . . . . and I got to truly “see” Ms. A – a passionate, chatty, funny, loving and friendly woman – who loves guns and trains with MMA fighters. And it all just fit together so well.

Thanks for the time with you and TSM tonight Ms. A – we’ll have to do this again sometime!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Commentary - Head Shots


During virtually every IDPA match I shoot or training I have been to there is “the headshot”. My last training in the company of police officers occurred in February and was a “post certified” course in the state of Missouri. There was a hostage stage that involved movement from one point of cover to another and then engaging a threat holding a hostage. My first round tickled his ear – the other three centered in the triangle of nose and eye.

The target was a life sized image of a woman being held hostage by a man. A simulation of a recent story of a co-ed being held hostage by a male with a gun. The male then turned his weapon on a police officer – the officer engaged the male . . . . and killed both the assailant and the hostage. Not the ending anyone wants or expects. Both the officer and the family are devastated. No LEO expects to kill an innocent. No parent expects their child to be shot by a police officer. Yet – it happened.

How does this affect you – a citizen who has chosen to carry a weapon to protect yourself, your family and your friends? I see a couple of lessons here I’d like to explore.

The gravity of your choice: Carrying a weapon is a grave responsibility. You hold the ability to take a life in your hand – even the ability to take the “wrong” life. When you look yourself in the mirror each morning – do you really understand this?? I’m not trying to get you to change your mind – I want you to understand your choice completely and insure you work hard every day to live up to it.

Your skill set matters: I find I am truly resistant to the “4-hour quickies”. Yes – I understand Constitutional Carry. Yes – I agree these courses meet the requirement laid down by the state. But . . . . but . . . . as a shooter, as a person carrying a death-dealing weapon on their side or in their purse . . . . I believe you have a personal obligation (albeit NOT a legal one) to be fully familiar with your weapon and fully capable of using it to its fullest. To me that means you work with your weapon DAILY. Draws, dry firing, use of Airsoft look-a likes, us of tools such as the SIRT pistol and LaserLyte rounds. EVERY FRICKIN’ DAY!!

Live rounds down range: Yep, know ammo is scarce. Yep, know it’s expensive. Still, if you’re not putting a couple hundred rounds down range each month – your skill set is diminishing – NOT even maintaining an even keel. I have no answer to this particular issue – I simply believe you MUST SHOOT to maintain a skill set. Find a way to make this happen.

Spend money on human targets: When you work on hostage shots – you should see a face. A human face of a victim. You should see the human face of the attacker. In real life – both have lives. You intended to end one if need be. Move your training for personal defense to a higher level and understand the importance of shot placement, consistent hits and accurate “cold” shots. The mini-range I’ve built in my office for my SIRT pistols has two hostage targets. I take dozens of shots every day on both. I TAKE THE SHOT!

Be confident in your hostage shot – TAKE THE SHOT: The average width of the human head is around 6 inches. With lives in the balance, conversations over and a clear intent on the part of the hostage taker to either kill you or the hostage – take the shot. It should be one of thousands you have taken. Your range time should always include this scenario – always.

“I could never take a head shot – I’m just not good enough.” Then why the hell are you carrying a gun? It’s no different than a 6 inch spot on a chest. Do not allow yourself to “go there”. If you feel inadequate – hit the range, take a couple of courses, increase your dry fire. YOU are responsible for your training – stop limiting yourself.

It would be easy to allow an “out” here and say something comforting like “of course, there is always the chance that even with all that training, you might still shoot the hostage”. It would be easy to say . . . . but I won’t. If you draw, choose to engage a hostage taker with your shot . . . . there are no options, on “buts”, or “damns” . . . . there is only room for the hostage taker down – hard.

Push yourself. Accept only perfection. Every day. And, after all that, after the thousands of head shots . . . .

. . . take the shot, it may well be the victim’s only opportunity at life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Basic Prepping - Location, location, location!


It’s the very late 40’s and my dad is riding center seat in the rear seat with a bunch of his commuting crew to the Fisher Body plant in Flint, Michigan. It’s not his normal seat but late riders and other adjustments saw him sandwiched in the middle. No idea what the morning banter may have been like, but I met many of these men when I was very young – tough, coarse, loud . . . not unlike those I bonded with in the military decades later. Suddenly, near the plant, a car carrier went out of control, crossed the center line and smashed into their car. As the dust settled my dad looked to his left and realized half of his friend was simply gone. It changed my dad’s life; he lost his soul to the guilt of his change of seating that morning. By the early 50s he’d pretty well given up on life. By ’57 he was gone. A simple change in location changed his life. A simple change in location allowed me to be born.

Should things in our country, in our society go sideways, for whatever reason – your location may well determine whether you live to tell the tale of crash and rebuilding . . . . or if you become a name chiseled in stone detailing those occupying some mass grave.

We have two excellent examples of situations going to hell in a very big way in large population areas that we can draw some important lessons from – “Katrina” and “Sandy”.

Katrina has really taken on mythical proportions – especially in the political arena of finger pointing. However, when broken down to the individual level there are some very distinct lessons that you – as someone preparing to survive “the event” can draw.

  • Everyone knew it was coming . . . . and enormous numbers of people decided to stay anyway.
  • Everyone knew it was going to be huge . . . . and enormous numbers of people decided to stay anyway.
  • Everyone knew it was going to be huge . . . . and few had stores on hand to handle long term survival.
  • Many DEPENDED on the local, state and federal governments to protect/help/save them . . . . that trust was foolishly placed.
  • Society breaks during such large scaled disasters.
  • The government will take your weapons to protect you from . . . . who???
  • For the majority of heavily damaged areas of the city . . . . there was, and will be, no recovery – NONE – NOT EVER.
  • Still – with the size of this event – it’s estimated that less than 2,000 people died during the storm. That’s amazing to me.

Our most recent example of a large scaled event that affected hundreds of thousands . . . . hurricane Sandy. The biggest lesson? We learn very slowly.

  • Everyone knew it was coming . . . . and enormous numbers of people decided to stay anyway.
  • Everyone knew it was going to be huge . . . . and enormous numbers of people decided to stay anyway.
  • Everyone knew it was going to be huge . . . . and few had stores on hand to handle long term survival.
  • Many DEPENDED on the local, state and federal governments to protect/help/save them . . . . that trust was foolishly placed.
  • Society breaks during such large scaled disasters.
  • For the majority of heavily damaged areas . . . . recovery, if it every comes, will be SLOW, EXPENSIVE and depend of the tenacity of the residents, not the assistance of the local, state or federal governments.
  • Again, even with the size of this event – only an estimated 125 people lost their lives. Amazing.

What do these two events have to do with your thoughts on prepping?? A great deal, I hope. They were IDEAL events to respond to – plenty of notice, good tracking as to the precise time TSHTF (“The S#$T Hit The Fan”). Time is survival – it’s as simple as that. The more time you have to prepare, the more time you have to react – the better your chances of survival.

They are also good examples of group behavior that just naturally seems to happen in large metropolitan areas – “if you’re stayin’, then I’m stayin’!!” – kind of decisions.

In evaluating “Location”, people are primarily located in 4 population regions:

Mega-City: Cities with populations of 1 million people or more. There are 10 such cities in the US today.

Urban Areas: Cities with populations between 500,000 and 1 Million people. There are approximately 24 such cities in the US today.

Sub-Urban areas: Areas within 250 miles of travel from the center of Mega-Cities and Urban Areas.

Rural areas: Areas outside of the 250 miles radius of Mega-Cities and Urban Areas.





Estimated Population 2011

New York, N.Y.



Los Angeles, Calif.



Chicago, Ill.



Houston, Tex.



Philadelphia, Pa.



Phoenix, Ariz.



San Antonio, Tex.



San Diego, Calif.



Dallas, Tex.



San Jose, Calif.



Jacksonville, Fla.



Indianapolis, Ind.



Austin, Tex.



San Francisco, Calif.



Columbus, Ohio



Fort Worth, Tex.



Charlotte, N.C.



Detroit, Mich.



El Paso, Tex.



Memphis, Tenn.



Boston, Mass.



Seattle, Wash.



Denver, Colo.



Baltimore, Md.



Washington, DC



Nashville-Davidson, Tenn.1



Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.2



Milwaukee, Wis.



Portland, Ore.



Oklahoma City, Okla.



Las Vegas, Nev.



Albuquerque, N.M.



Tucson, Ariz.



Fresno, Calif.



The 250 mile radius is derived from the typical maximum distance of travel during a total evacuation. The average MPG of cars and trucks combined is approximately 20mpg. The average gas tank for all vehicles is 20 gallons. And, most people will not fill up before they reach the ½ tank level. Throw in a bit of “fudge” factor – you get an approximate range of 250 that people can travel from major population centers before they are dead in the water. These are the areas that will be affected in a major way during a mass evacuation/exodus type event. I consider these areas to be the primary “danger zones”. Society will not do well. Government will be ineffective in controlling violent confrontations. Things will not go well in these regions of our country.

First – let’s just establish MY base-line for how to view your reaction and situation during a major “event”. HELP IS NOT COMING!!! YOU ARE THE ANSWER – THE ONLY ANSWER – TO YOUR AND YOUR FAMLY’S SURIVIAL. Nothing is coming to pull your butt out of the fire folks, nothing. You’re it! The sooner you accept this reality – the better your chances to live through your own particular piece of hell. You have all the time you need TODAY to prepare – get off your butt and get moving!

Second – and I will do an entire article on this topic, but I want to touch on it here ever so briefly – MINDSET! YOU choose to live or die. If things go sideways in a really big way and you look, watch and become overwhelmed and just decide “it’s over” . . . . then it is – you’re dead. Simple as that. FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE! You, and your family, are worth it.

So let’s look at some options within the Mega-Cities and Urban areas – and outside of them.

Mega-Cities: Let’s just get this piece of advice out of the way first – LEAVE. Now, today, immediately. Find a different job in a place that is smaller, less congested and less potential for a complete disaster should “the worst happen”.

Still, most New Yorkers are not going to heed that warning, so if you live is a shoebox in downtown Manhattan – what are your options for prepping to survive a mini/max collapse? The primary two considerations for surviving past 3 weeks are food and water. Even small apartments can store a substantial quantity of food. Small residences, in major Mega-City environments would be a good place where the “Grab and Go Pail” I spoke of in an earlier article would fit well. They are lighter, easier to pack and in the event that your feet are your only mode of transport – they would be much easier to transport than larger, bulkier options.

Water is major here as well. You assume that when you turn on the tap, water will come out. During a major collapse – not so much. A couple 20 gallon food-grade plastic barrels of water will give you approximately 40 days of buffer at a gallon a day per person consumption. Good insurance IMHO.

OPSEC – Operational Security – is OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE. If you are surrounded by a million hungry people – picture the worst case “zombie” movie with you their next victim. Keep your damn mouth SHUT!!

Should you decide to evacuate – evacuate EARLY. Pay attention! Up your situational awareness. Trust your gut. If you gut tells you to leave – leave!

However, if you choose to stay – concealment may well be your best weapon. If you have a store of food, a store of water – baring a “zombie apocalypse ” you may well be able to hunker down until some semblance of order is restored.

Urban Areas: Honestly, the advice is pretty much the same as for the Mega-City regions. Leave or shelter in place. If you choose to leave – LEAVE EARLY!! If you choose to shelter in place – concealment becomes your primary weapon. Even though there are fewer people, if you have a comfortable buffer of food stuffs to get through an “event” and hungry neighbors or “passers-by” do not, you will become a target in a heartbeat!

You may have an advantage of a larger living space – take advantage of that. Build a solid month buffer of food stuffs. Rotate your stock. Add 30 days of potable water as well – 20 gallon blue food-stuff barrels are cheap.

It may also be easier to add weapons to your defensive component – do it.

Sub-Urban Areas: People in this area are subject to two different and distinct threats – the actual “event” that is prompting a shift to survival mode – and the migration of those in the Urban and Mega-City areas that have decided to get the hell out of Dodge – they are coming folks, they are coming.

Your basic prepping steps – food and water – should just be a given. You probably have much more flexibility in the types of food stuffs as well as the quantity. And, you may have easier access to potable water as well. Still, the basics hold. Begin with 30 day supply, rotate it through your normal consumption and keep your mouth shut!

In the event there is an exodus from Urban and Mega-City areas – you may find yourself faced with frustrated, angry, hungry and determined people on your front lawn. We’ll work on home defense in later articles – I just want you to put that on your “things to consider” list.

Finally, Rural Areas: If you are very lucky – most of the people and damage will be sucked up by the 250 mile Sub-Urban region surrounding Urban and Mega-City areas. Simply put, the exodus will “run out of gas” – quite literally! That said, those determined to push past the 250 mile range will be exactly that – determined. In addition to the normal preparations repeated over and over – food and water for 30 days – the intruders will be those who have come through the worst. They may well be tougher and better equipped. Pay attention. Build your defense now.

Rural areas also provide many more options for food raising, food storage and movement. Once your basic work is done, make a broader plan should you, too, need to move.

Bottom line? If you can relocate to a rural area – and maintain the quality of life you are looking for – do it. You are much more flexible in rural areas than in Mega-City areas. But, if you are in an Urban or Mega-City, you can still prepare for a long term “event”, make a plan for you and your family and then prepare to execute that plan. Survival is primarily a mental decision – food and water simply make it easier.

Location, location, location! It affects your prepping plans. Distinct regions may demand additional thought and planning. Pay attention!


You have all the time you need . . . . TODAY . . . . time to get started!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Personal - I have a new daughter!!


There are times in your life when a person is truly blessed and their life enriched.  Last evening was such an instant in time for my wife and I. 

TheBoy brought Ms. H into our lives about 2 1/2 years ago, she has been a joy to be around and fun to get to know.  Last evening they became husband and wife . . . . and she became our daughter.  We are truly blessed beyond words.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Basic Prepping - Food


When you start to talk about Prepping and food . . . . a lot of folks go just a bit “off the rails” in my opinion. They start talking about a pantry full of a year’s worth of food, root cellars, canning, drying meat, buckets of dehydrated food . . . . . it’s enough to overwhelm someone just starting to think what they would do in the event things go sideways in a really big way. My approach to the food issue?

Start with your tummy . . . . “What do you want to eat today?”

We’re “menu people”. We always have been. Each week’s shopping trip begins with a conversation around the dinner table about what we want to eat this week. That begets a menu which begets a shopping list.

The same is true for preparing for a trek or paddle . . . . what do you want to eat. And that’s the format I want to share for building a prepper’s food supply. We will start with a day, which can easily be expanded into a week and then “cookie-cutter’ed” into a month. Past a month?? Up to you really, just “cookie-cutter” your daily/monthly menus into a time period you wish to prepare for . . . . nothing tricky here folks, nothing tricky.

A couple day’s menu:





Coffee / Hot Choc

Coffee / Hot Choc

Coffee / Hot Choc

Crystal Lite

Crystal Lite

Crystal Lite

Eggs (2 per person)

Bagels (cinn. & blue berry)


Bacon (3 Slices per person)

Eggs (2 per person)

Dry Fruit



Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite




Sausage (1/4 stick per person)


Chicken Salad (chicken/ranch dressing/relish)


Bagels (1 per person)

Pita Bread

Spread Cheese

Trail Mix



Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Beef Stew (8 oz per person)


Chicken/Wild Rice


Mashed Potatoes

Nut Roll



Granola Bars

This is a couple days of a week-long paddle a few years back. Paddles offer some nice alternatives to backpack treks – mainly you can carry more food and not be so weight conscious. I carry food in “food barrels” – usually two barrels will handle a crew of 8 for 7 days.


Weight becomes less of an issue because most portages are typically less than a mile with the majority of the paddle seeing the barrel ridding in the bottom of a canoe. I’ll “splurge” a bit on paddles because of this.

Backpack treks – weight is definitely an issue. My rule of thumb – 2 pounds of food per person per day, less water. A minimum of 96 ounces of water at the beginning of the day – 3 Nalgene’s worth add another 6 pounds max per day.

Prepping?? If you are “on the move” – the same travel considerations for a paddle or a trek come into play. How many days of travel are you planning on and how are your carrying your gear? If you are “sheltering in place” – a well-stocked pantry with a rotating food stock is simple to build and maintain.

I would suggest you begin with a week’s menu/supply and then expand to a month. Once there, work with your pantry, work out the kinks and then expand as you see fit. But a one month supply of food for your family is a minimum you want to plan for.

As you can see from the example above, each meal is detailed – number of eggs, pieces of bacon, bagels, snacks, drinks – detail, detail, detail. Remember, you only have to do this once. Build a spreadsheet, total quantities per week and use that to build a shopping list. Or, use one of the many menu planner websites that will accumulate the shopping list for you.

Some examples of food that can be used for “prepping” would include:

clip_image004 clip_image006

I like breakfast bars as part of breakfast. I am also fond of instant oatmeal packets on the trail or regular oatmeal if I have time. Notice the expiration date on this pack, it’s about 1-month from the date of purchase. Honestly, the bars are packaged in sealed foil wrappers, I would have not hesitation of stretching this out quite a bit. That said, expiration dates need to be part of your rotation.

clip_image008 clip_image010

Foil packets of tuna and chicken make easy snacks or meals. In this case though, the expiration date on the tuna is 2-years into the future making this a very flexible item in your prepper food kit.

clip_image012 clip_image014

Hamburger Helper is also quite flexible. The expiration date is about 1-year in the future. A broad range of game meat would work well with this packet as well as many canned meats.

clip_image016 clip_image018

What good prepper kit would be without SPAM?? Expiration date nearly 3-years into the future, this works well for many dishes. I find it’s best fried first, that helps firm up the slices. But for taste, I like it!

clip_image020 clip_image022

Pastas have very long self-lives – this package of macaroni has a “use by” date nearly 3-years into the future.

So there is your process. Begin with a day’s menu. Expand that to a week. And finally, expand it into a month. Use that period of time to prepare a pantry. Obviously this is a mix of long-term food and consumables – fresh fruit, meat, eggs, milk and the like. But, there are longer shelf-life foods that can easily be mixed in. Remember, you can consume your pantry over the storage life of the food, whether that food has a shelf life of 6 months or 3 years.

If you are willing to do this, you will have a “window” of time – a month or so – go survive the initial “incident” whether it is a severe storm or a meltdown of society. You will have bought yourself time to react.

Of course, we are all susceptible to the “we must get the hell outta Dodge” event. A 1-month pantry is easily transportable as well. (“bugging out” is a whole series of posts that will come in the future). Plan for this event as you are building your pantry.

Of course, there are “bucket” solutions. Buy a bunch of buckets filled with meals with a shelf-life of a decade, you are ready to roll. The biggest downside here – they are expensive. I am very fond of Mountain House Foods. These are the dehydrated packs I take on all my treks and paddles. Their quality is excellent, their price is in-line with alternatives. My only caution is to double their serving size. A packet is typically billed as a 2-person packet – not so much. When you are on the trail, your calorie count climbs and I can easily down a packet by myself. One packet equals one person.

You’ll note they have everything from single packets to “grab and go” buckets. Try some packets, do some weekend treks, work your kit. Then settle on what works for you. Their meals are typically rated for a 10-year shelf life. Plenty of time to replace them periodically by using your stores on your treks and paddles.

Obviously, the whole other part of food storage is raising and storing your own fruits and vegetables. We’ll touch on that later as well. This post is to get you to a 1-week and then 1-month pantry as soon as possible. You will be surprised how comforting this little cushion is.

Remember . . . . you have all the time in the world TODAY to prepare . . . .

. . . . do it!!

Reflections – Memories . . . . Can you come to my class and talk about Vietnam??


Ms. C: Hey dad, what ya doin’ next week?

Me: Nothing special, why??

Ms. C: Can you come talk to my class about Vietnam??

So this past Monday found me in front of no less than 7 middle school history classes working their way through the 60s and Vietnam. I brought along 50 or so slides (ok, scans of slides) of places like the base at Pleiku, Mang-Yang Pass between Pleiku and Ahn Khe, the “zoomie” flightline at Ahn Khe, roadside images and a round of shots of our tower after the last earnest sapper attack before I headed home. The favorite photo – “Boozer”, a little pup our barracks adopted . . . . glad that was the favorite photo.

Anyway, we arrived at our son’s wedding city late yesterday afternoon.  And late last night met our daughter at the airport, drove to the home we’re staying at and settled in to recover from the day – wine for the ladies, some Wild Turkey for me.

Ms. C: Hey dad – I got something for you . . . .

And she brings out over 100 thank you notes from her class. Nice notes filed with “thank you for your service” to “thanks for sharing your emotional story”. Nice group of kids, some good questions and more than a “emotional” moment or two.

A intense looking 8th grader raises her hand and asks “so why did you volunteer for Vietnam Anyway?????” It was a strange question to bring up an “emotional” response . . . . yet there I was in front of a classroom of kids and I’m all choked up - hard/impossible to talk, watery eyes . . . . heavy sigh – where the hell is this coming from?!?!?!? Deep breaths . . . . . and after a moment or two it passes and I can talk again.

So I answer the “whys” of why I volunteered . . . . what else could I do? 4 months after Tet, I had family who proudly served during WWII, I believed we were doing the right thing, I’m a citizen, I have a responsibility as a citizen, as an American . . . . what else could I possible do??

So we talked about the 60s, the global context of Vietnam, how it affected me from age 13 when Kennedy was assassinated through the 1965 attack on the Ia Drang Valley, Tet, my enlistment 6 months earlier, my stay in Tawain, our May 1970 attack on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Kent State, campus unrest, “road trips” between Pleiku and Ahn Khe, all the different aircraft types at Pleiku . . . . . to coming home and embracing Susie at the airport after a 2-year absence . . . . memories of long ago and far away . . . .

I pray that when these kids reach the fine old age of 63, they’ll have gentler memories . . . .

Me asking a class a question: So, when you think of a “veteran” . . . . what do you think of . . . .

Bouncy kid in the rear-left corner waving his hand: “Old guys!!!”

Heavy sigh . . . .

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Personal - A wedding in the family . . .


We’re off getting “The Boy” hitched!  Posting will be a bit spotty . . . .

Lots of great folks on the side bar to keep any visitors busy . . .

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Training - Indoor SIRT Pistol Range


An update on training with NLT’s SIRT Pistol.

The biggest thing the SIRT pistol brings to the table is the ability for the trigger to reset giving you the opportunity for multi-round engagements. I found the next step was to “upgrade” my indoor range in my office. You see the results below.

20140304_122752 (Medium)

Range targets – be they an in-home practice range, or an actual full sized target used on a live fire range – should serve a purpose. Bull’s Eye style targets are fine, but defensive shooting involves so much more that holes on paper.

My indoor range began with three rows of resized IDPA targets. The bottom is 1:3, the middle is 1:6 and the top is 1:4. So, if I stand 7 foot away the bottom is 21ft., the middle is 42ft., and the top is 28ft.

The introduction of the SIRT pistol to my training brought to mind the expansion of this range to include human-threat targets, some hostage targets and some numbered shapes for “cognition drills”.

The human-threat targets were simply found by doing a Google search and then printing them to fit and 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. As you can see, their size matches fairly well with the 1:3 reduced IDPA target.

So I now have a range that I can use throughout the day for simple “draw and engage” drills or for “cognition drills” where I use an MP3 recorded drill – complete with timer tone – to push my skill set.

The SIRT Pistol training pushes the boundaries of “dry fire” training. Since the Glock 17 is one of my carry weapons, the “touch and feel” of the draw from concealment is virtually identical. Drills that expand to speed reloads and tactical reloads also feel like the real thing. I can easily mix focal-point-shooting drills with precision head shots. And the cost of a trigger press runs in the 1/1000th of a penny range rather than the $.60 range. I find this all to be a “win” situation.

The other great thing is that I find I probably do 10 to 20 drills throughout the day rather than just 2-3 times a month on the live fire range. Much more trigger time. And, this SIRT Pistol trigger time comes with a self-diagnostic every time I press the trigger . . . . am I getting a single dot or is the barrel moving as I press and am I getting a dash instead.

All good stuff! So, a couple weeks into beginning the real work with my new SIRT Pistols, I like them! You may want to consider adding one to your tool kit, especially if the price of ammunition remains high and the availability remains low, low, low!!!



Thursday, May 9, 2013

Basic Prepping - Water Purification


Purify: a: to clear from material defilement or imperfection

              b: to free from undesirable elements

It had been a busy/hectic/strenuous week. Four of us had traveled to Haiti to meet a new priest. He was to take over the 24 parishes we attempt to help support. This is done through monetary efforts to help pay teachers and provide some meals for the children at various village schools. It also includes an annual trip to a number of different villages to show our physical support, bring medical teams and to let these people know they have not been forgotten . . . that whole phrase . . . . “not been forgotten” . . . . is why we are on this visit. To show them, by our physical presence, by our physical embrace, by our sharing a meal and attending Mass together . . . . that we have not, and will not, forget them.

We chose to “become one” with the villagers we go to visit. They take great pride in providing food and shelter on our visits. And, while we bring our own drinking water (yes the Culligan Man really does exist in Haiti), they provide “washed” dishes, cups and glasses. It’s impossible to not be exposed to the local water sources and all the little critters that live within.

Which is exactly why three of the four of us, me included, are having a rather bad time of it sitting in the Miami airport waiting for our trip home. It’s not going to be a pleasant trip home. Finally, the good Lord must have found a soft spot for us and our situation . . . . our flight was canceled. After a night in a hotel spent mostly nursing fevers and bathroom visits requiring “both ends” to be taken care of, we were finally travel worthy the next day and returned home. A career in the military that included trips to Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and various countries in Central America insured that I had experienced these “intestinal challenges” before – but they had been blissfully absent for a number of decades. It was a good reminder that while water is a life giving liquid; it can also cause real problems if it’s not treated properly.

So let’s talk about purifying your water. How are you going to be sure that the three quarts or more that you will need to drink every day will not have you doubled over vomiting or running into the wilderness with your trowel looking to attend to your bad case of diarrhea?

The critters hiding in your water consist of protozoans (small, single celled animals) and an assortment of bacteria and viruses. Any one of them can give you a very bad day.

When I use the word “purify” I mean that these creatures are either dead or removed from the water you drink. And there are four primary ways to make that happen – heat, filtration, chemical treatment or exposure to Ultra-Violet (UV) light. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Some work better when used in combination with other techniques. But all will get you where you need to be – with a supply of pure water.



One of the items in my “Boogie Bag”/camping gear is a coffee pot (insides taken out) that acts as a container for my MSR Whisperlite gas stove. It’s a nice combination. And, should we choose to purify water by simply boiling it for coffee or hot chocolate, it does the task just fine.

By applying heat to water and maintaining a water temperature over 165F, the pathogens contained in the water are killed off within 30 minutes. If you take the temperature over 185F, that time is reduced to about 3 minutes. If your water is at a rolling boil, you can be assured that all the nasty little critters are dead. Most material suggests a rolling boil for 3 minutes, but the critters are long since dead once the boil begins.

There are disadvantages to this approach however – fuel and time. Fuel can quickly become a consideration. On week long treks or paddles I usually budget 2 quarts plus one pint of “white gas”. This is usually more than enough but if we also used the fuel to boil water to purify it, much more fuel would need to be carried.

Of course, wood can also be used. Unless you are in a long-term shelter condition and your wood is also used for cooking and warmth. While you can share the heat to purify water, it is time consuming and can go through fuel in a hurry.

Still . . . . all that said . . . . heating water is a proven way to insure your drinking water is pure.


Micro-filters are small, lightweight, simple to use and effective. While there is any number of options, for the past 15 years or so I have used MSR’s MiniWorks ceramic filter.

clip_image004   clip_image006

The MiniWorks consists of a Pump Assembly that allows you to pump up to 1-liter per minute of purified water. An Intake Hose drops into the water allowing the pump to take in water through the Pre-Filter. In some areas, especially in water that is algae-rich, I suggest wrapping multiple layers of a coffee filter around the Pre-Filter to help keep out material that will clog the Ceramic Filter. The Pre-Filter Float allows you to adjust the depth that the Pre-Filter draws from. Typically you do not want to try and filter surface water since this holds some of the highest concentrations of critters. The heart of the filter is a Ceramic Filter with pores that are only 0.2 um (um = micro-meter = one millionth of a meter or 1 thousandth of a millimeter) in diameter. To give you some idea of how small this is, a hair is typically 100 um. Protozoans and Bacteria are typically .2mm to 4mm is size. This filter will filter out virtually all of these harmful critters. Where it falls short is in killing viruses – they are small enough to pass through a filter like this.

That said, few streams in the US are infected with viruses – your greatest danger are the larger critters and this filter will clean that water at the rate of 1 liter per minute.

Water seals at the intake end and the out flow end insure the two water systems do not mix. One big benefit of these filters is that they will screw directly on to a standard Nalgene bottle.

Water Bottels (Medium)

This goes a long way to insure the “dirty water” and “clean water” never meet.

The thinner the Ceramic Filter becomes, the poorer its filtering capability. Snapped onto the protective cap of the water filter is a Filter Gage. If the Ceramic Filter can pass through the gage opening, it is too thin and must be replaced.

I have used this particular filter for 15 years and it is, in my opinion, simply the best filter on the market today.

Chemical Treatment

One of the favorite treatment combinations is to use a chlorine tablet along with a second tablet to take away the taste.


This treatment will, indeed, purity your water – even without the above filter. You must be aware of the water temperature and the quantity to dose the water appropriately. My own personal preference is to use the MiniWorks filter and then augment with a chemical to kill off any viruses that may be in the water. My preferred product is something called Polar Pure.


In the bottle are Iodine crystals. Water is added to the bottle and it is allowed to sit for 30 minutes. You then pour two cap-fulls of this tincture into one liter of water, shake well and wait 30 minutes. This too will kill all the critters, including viruses. But, again, I prefer to use this as an adjunct to the MiniWorks filter. One problem with Polar Pure is that recently the FDA has decided that they can’t sell this product anymore because Iodine Crystals can be used in the production of Meth. Heavy Sigh! This single bottle can purify around 2,000 liters of water – I still have a ways to go! Keep an eye out for this product, if it comes back on the market – buy a couple bottles, it’s one of the best chemicals available for the treatment of water.

Ultra Violet – UV – Light

UV light is a relative newcomer to the treatment of water for backpackers. It has long been used as the final treatment of water from most water treatment plants. But a product that is battery operated and carried in a pack – that’s a fairly new development.

The big kid on the block for this product is SteriPen. While they have multiple iterations of their product, their mainstay is the SteriPen adventurer.


Simply fill your Nalgene with clear (take the chunks out) water, dip the “pen” into the water, it will turn on automatically. Stir it around gently for about 90 seconds and it will turn itself out. You water is now pure. Again, I would use this product in conjunction with the MiniWorks filter, but the literature and reviews of the product assure me that that is overkill.

And finally, a simple and virtually free purification system . . . the clear plastic water bottle.


This process has become very popular is third world countries as an alternative to building large, expensive and hard to maintain water treatment plants. The process is simple. Fill the bottles with clean (again, take the chunks out) water and lay them on a roof, on tinfoil – somewhere that they are exposed to sunshine all day long. After 8 hours, you have a bottle full of purified water. Obviously you will need a rotation system so you have drinking water while your next batch is purifying, but the simplicity and very, very low cost makes this an attractive alternative for many poor countries.

There you have it . . . . through the use of heat, filtration, chemicals and UV light, you can provide yourself with all the pure drinking water your need to keep yourself healthy and well hydrated.

You have all the time in the world NOW to prepare . . . . if you do not have a good water filter or a supply of chemicals or a SteriPen in your kit . . . . get one!

Pure water is simply a must in a survival situation . . . .

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Basic Prepping – Water


Me: So are ya peeing enough???

Ms. C. (daughter): DAD!! Really?? (she and her husband are tagging along on a BWCA trip as life guards for our scouts?

ME: Clear and copious kiddo . . . .

Ms. C: Don’t worry about it dad – K??

I must admit I enjoy “tweaking” my daughter a bit. She is a tough critter and she’s doing us a real favor by bringing her hubby along and lifeguarding our P7161936-2patrol. We are on a week-long paddle through Minnesota’s Boundary Water Canoe Area – the BWCA. It borders Canada and offers our scouts a true taste of wilderness. You can easily paddle for days and see no one.

It’s mid-summer – the days are long, hot and draining. And everyone is shedding massive amounts of water quickly. They need to pay attention . . . . and so do you. Why?? Well, that’s the purpose of this post – to flesh out “all things water”.

We’re going to look at what’s living in the water – what can come along with each and every swallow. We’ll see how your body uses water and then how your body reacts once the demand for water far exceeds its availability.

It looks clean to me!!

One would think, looking out on a beautiful blue lake or a clear running stream P7181954that the water we need is simply a “cup’s dip” away. And while true, your thirst could be easily quenched – you need to remember that water is home to much more that simply a bass or trout. Much of what calls water home can’t be seen with the naked eye – and yet these bacteria, protozoa and viruses can cause anything from mild diarrhea to death. Let me list just a few and their possible effects on your body:

  • Bacteria – Small little critters that can do anything from giving you a stomach to actually eating your flesh.
  • Campylobacter – A major cause of bacterial diarrhea.
  • Cholera – An intestinal infection causing watery diarrhea and vomiting. People typically die of dehydration.
  • Cryptosporidium – Another intestinal bug that causes diarrhea and dehydration.
  • Escherichia coli – Typically known as E. coli. It’s part of a healthy digestive system and helps keep more harmful bacteria in check. But there are strains that can release a powerful toxin that will damage the lining of the intestine and cause severe sickness.
  • Giardia – It’s one of the most common causes of waterborne illnesses and will give you a bad case of diarrhea..
  • Hepatitis –Hepatitus A, B, C, and D are primarily liver diseases. The effects can range from mild discomfort to a life long battle with the disease.
  • Protozoan parasite – Protozoan parasites define a broad category of single celled critters that are looking for a host. Problems can range from damage to your central nervous system to diarrhea.
  • Salmonella – Salmonella finds a home is water as well as eggs or poorly prepared food. It can present as a range of diseases from typhoid fever to salmonellis.
  • Shigella – Just a small quantity of bacterium can cause dysentery, hemolytic uremic syndrome or shigellosis.
  • Viruses – A wide range of viruses, 100 times smaller than bacteria, can deliver a broad range of symptoms from simple fevers to severe nerve damage. Viruses are immune to antibiotics and are so small they pass through the smallest of pores in classic water filters.

There are more . . . . but hopefully this list is enough to have you take water purity serious. There are a number of ways you can purify your drinking water to make it safe . . . but that process if for another post. I simply want you to understand that while water is a basic requirement for your existence – if you fail to properly purify your water, it can also end your life.

So how much water do I need in a day?

A majority of your body’s weight is water. For children, the average is about 75%. For the typical adult male it’s in the neighborhood of 60% and for an P7181962adult woman it’s closer to 50%. As we age our water content drops with the average more around 45%. Regardless of age, water plays a major role in our body’s chemistry and overall wellbeing.

The typical adult loses around 3 liters of water a day. This is primarily through urination, perspiration and your breathing cycle. This water must be replaced every day to maintain a proper level of hydration. And, remember – not all water comes from drinking – a lot is contained in the foods we eat as well.

Exertion increases our need for water since we are sweating more and water is being used faster within the body to carry off waste products from our muscles and other tissue as well as keeping us cool through perpiration. A typical person needs to drink about 500ml per hour during times of increased physical activity. Increase your intensity?? Then increase your water consumption as well.

Water within our bodies, water performs a number of different functions:

  • It thins the bloodstream so our blood can move easily throughout the body.
  • It helps to remove waste from cells, muscles and tissue throughout the body.
  • It helps regulate your body temperature.
  • It keeps your mucus membranes (lungs, mouth, tear ducts, saliva glands) moist.
  • It cushions and lubricates your joints.
  • It flushes your bladder, helping to reduce the probability of infection
  • It aids in digestion and reduces the possibility of constipation.
  • It moisturizes and softens your skin.
  • It carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells.
  • It acts as a shock absorber around your body’s most delicate areas like your spinal cord, eyes and brain.

Water is essential to your wellbeing. Withhold it for 3 days or more – things will not end well.

How can I tell I’m not taking in enough water”

You body can give you any number of warning signs that you are becoming dehydrated:

  • You notice an increase in headaches.
  • You simply have no energy.
  • You mood changes and you are slow to respond to others.
  • Your nasal passages are dry.
  • You have dry or cracked lips.
  • Your mouth is exceptionally dry.
  • Your urine turns a dark yellow and your flow is reduced.
  • You become weak and tired easily.
  • You can become confused easily.
  • You may hallucinate

Perhaps the best guard against dehydration is the observations of others. You may slide downhill so gradually that you simply don’t notice the changes in your body’s performance – your hiking or paddling partner may well notice first. Listen to them!

Why am I becoming dehydrated?

The primary culprits are over exertion and illness. If you are sweating a great deal, you need to be sure to counter that with an increase in how much you are drinking. It is a short distance from exhaustion to heat exhaustion to heat stroke. Pay attention, make sure you are urinating sufficiently and that it is clear, NOT a dark yellow.

Illness, particularly diarrhea and vomiting can take their toll quickly. While you may not feel like drinking – you simply must or you will spin out of control far quicker than you think is possible.

Water is a basic requirement of life. You must plan for it when you make your preparations – whether for a 3-day “get home” scenario or a long term “shelter in place” plan. You must have it available in abundance and it must be pure enough to drink without causing your harm. (we’ll talk about that in the near future).

It’s the second “Rule of 3” – “Three days without water” – and you’re in trouble.

You have all the time – NOW – to prepare, make sure you have all the pure water you need . . . .

. . . . your life depends on it.