A look at Survival and Preparedness, Firearms, Ham Radio, German Shepherds, Photography and other related stuff! 73 Later, ZombieAxe :-)


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ramblings on the S&W 325 PD revolver...

325 pd right side

I love semi autos and my favorite caliber is the venerable .45 ACP.

Sure I like the capacity of the wonder nines and if it shoots a projectile, I like it.

Revolvers are nice but I have not owned many. So after getting really anal about chasing my brass from the autos, I looked into the S&W 25,625,325 series of revolver. I wanted something light weight so the 325 PD fit the bill. Thunder Ranch has partenered with S&W to make the Nightwatch but I just don't like snub nosed revolver. I consider the 4" barrelled revolver the minimum for a good utility gun. My local dealer ask his supplier and they said they had one in stock and I had them ship it out.

325 pd left side

It has some nice wood grips as well as the the rubber grips it now wears. I'd plan on adding some Crimson Trace laser grips (I prefer Lasermax for semi-autos) in the future.

Since the .45 ACP does not have a rim, it requires the use of a moon clip to be able to extract spent cases. Think a speed loader that you just drop in six fresh catridges! I think you can also use the .45 auto rim catridge but to me it is a mute point as I am sticking to the .45 ACP.

If you are gonna use it you better lay in a good supply of moon clips and they are cheap enough to stack deep.

325 pd rear

The cylinder is made from titanium and the frame is made from S&W Scandium metal, only the internals and a metal insert in the barrel are made from steel! Very light weight buts recoil is not severe. I wouldn't want to shoot the .357 or .44 mag version a lot :eek: Weighs roughly the same loaded as a Glock 36 and is just as handy.

The sights are of the high-viz front size variety and are very easy to pick up. As all S&W revolvers it is nicely done and is accurate.

Just need some leather for it, might place an order with Kramer to get one of their excellent horse hide leather holsters. Good stuff!

So now when the mighty .45 roars on the ZA homestead, the ZA doesn't roar because he lost his BRASS. It happens when you shoot and move in a fescue field!

Thanks for reading :)


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ramblings on my working blades...



RTAK by WKC Newt Livesay
Woodsman's Pal
Buck Intrepid commercial copy of the Kit Carson design
Cold Steel Recon Tanto
Gerber LMF II


RTAK (Randall Training and Adventure Knife) made FIRST by Newt Livesay of the Wicked Knife Company. I read an article in ASG (American Survival Guide) and was really impressed with it. I took me about a month to get it shipped and I suspect that is why eventually RTAK production went to Ontario Knife to meet demand. I have both but IMHO the Origional slightly edges (pun intended) out the Ontario version. Currently the ONLY semi custom blade I own. This blade is a awesome chopper. It easily and quickly can help you blaze a trail, clear brush, construct a shelter, split wood and defend yourself if need be!


Next up is the Woodsman's Pal. This was designed in WWII and I even think there is an technique for using it as weapon. I found a local source that carried these for $35 (at the time) so thought I'd try one. I was impressed. It equally chopped wood well and functioned as machete. The brush hook will easily handle small brush, saw briars, and blackberry bushes with ease. I prefer to use this over a axe or hatchet, for to me, it seems much safer.

I use this also to split wood by driving it through the wood by striking the tip with a handy sized chunk of wood. I actually use this on a test for the RTAK's, Recon Tanto and WP to make sure my knives are up to my needs!

The example shown above is my PRISTINE one as it has never been used but resides in my work bag (I have bush axes, axes and pruning saws on my truck and use them because I have to chop poison vines with them, mine is for survival use).

The one on my 4 wheeler has seen a hard life, but other than the wood handles graying, and some shiny spots on the blade, it is good to go!

Bottom line, if I had to have only one blade to survive in the wild, give me a Woodman's pal!


Next up is the Buck BUCKMASTER. Back in the mid to late 80's when the hollow handled survival knife craze was going on, this was the pinnacle of mass produced knives. I later came to find out, that this design was vastly inferior to full tang designs. HOWEVER next to a Chris Reeve hollow handled knife this blade is the only hollowed handle design I would carry.

At the time I liked the idea of having an all in one survival kit in the handle of your knife. I mean it was a cool concept, but blade and handle seperation is a bad thing! Better to have a superior blade and a survival kit in YOUR POCKET!

The BUCKMASTER is a big piece of steel. The handle has agressive checkering and well IMHO is one of the prettiest knives of the 80's.

Unfortunately I lost one of the spikes while on a camping trip. I suppose the idea is to use this knife as a grappling hook or such in the sheath... I don't like that idea but it is there if I need such. The screw off handle has a place to attach a rope or carabiner as well.

Great knife, but it was a "I wanted one when I was younger" thing. It resides in one of my vehicle kits these days as a backup...


This is the Buck Intrepid. This blade was designed by Kit Carson. The knife is very well made and has a full tang. The handles are removable for cleaning zombie blood or when immersed in salt water.

I prefer a straight edge knife to serrated one because it is easier to sharpen. I do however think the combo blades with partial straight and serrated edges are great. I think serrated blades really shine in cutting nylon, rope and similar materials. So got the best of both worlds there!

I also like the chisel edge on top of the blade as this knife has lots of cutting area, which is a nice option as well

This blade has a Tanto point which is also a plus in my book as it makes the tip very strong as well as great piercing characteristics. They also made this blade with a chisel tip, but it was not for me

This knife resides in my work bag in case I run into a survival situation @ work and need a great blade to get me out of a survival situation.


Above is the Cold Steel RECON Tanto. This blade wins in the economy department. As you can see from the pics, I have used this knife, lovingly but HARD! I love this blade and can not say enough good things about it!

Funny thing is a group of three of us went on a camping trip. When we pulled out our knives, EVERYONE had a RCON Tanto. This said a lot being that we were from varied backgrounds and had come to the same answer in a fixed blade knife!

One of the fellars showed me a technique to split wood with the RECON Tanto, that when I first saw it, I honestly thought he was gonna break it. I mentioned it above about striking the tip to drive the Tanto through the wood with a baseball bat sized piece of wood!

I use the RECON Tanto to split pieces of wood for kindling just like I described above and it works great! The Woodman's Pal beats the RT in this method mainly because the WP is a bigger piece of metal!

Overall one of the most affordable, durable and SHARP (holds and edge and is easy to sharpen) knives I have ever owned/used.

I don't know if the RECON Tanto's are still made in the USA, but if I had a choice, I'd go American, this one is.


Finally we get to the last blade and the one that has the honor of residing in my BOB/GHB, the Gerber LMF II. I hated Gerber Knives in the late 80's and early 90's. The reason is that the blades broke to easily. I am hard on a knife, so either it breaks and I hate it, or it doesn't and I love it.

So even though Gerbers were not cheap, I considered them POS blades (except the origional LMF) and after a bad experience I wrote them off.

A friend of mine is a Gerber freak and I noticed ,that to me, the blades seemed better made. So when the LMF II came out I was impressed. Impressed enough to lift my ban on Gerber blades.

I like the combo edge (as I talked about above) and I find that the shorter overall length makes this a practical knife that does small and large chores easy. IMHO this is a perfect length for a tool knife. It does everything well except for the chopping power of the larger blades.

The blade and hammer pommel are electrically isolated so if you need to you could chop a live wire (one sniper in Iraq used this knife to do such a thing). Not plan A, but a plan none the less!

The steel is easy to sharpen and it is extremely well ballanced.

Overall it has passed all my tests and it reminds me of an updated version of the 'USAF pilot survival knife' expecially in its size and handiness.

So there you have it, my fixed blade arsenal. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ramblings on keeping electronics working in cold weather...

I just got back from a parade up here in the mountains of NC my little was in. It was rather chilly, overcast, 5mph breeze, and 30F. I know for most of you in the Northern part of the country this is considered a heat wave, but for us in the south when that is the HIGH, that is 'dry' blizzard conditions

So when standing on a street waiting for your little angel to hurry the heck up (the float she was on was 3rd from the last ) your camera batteries are even less cold tolerant than you... So you don't want to miss that all important 15 secs of "Hey Daddy!!!!!" you were capturing for posterity with a cold 'graveyard dead' camera battery.

There are actually 2 solutions to this problem but are dependent on the battery type.

1. If your device is powered by AA's then simply switch them out to Energizers Lithium AA batteries. These batteries work very well in the cold. ALL my gear in my BOB/GHB has lithiums in them (if available), because these don't leak like alkalines, and their shelf life is greater! Only downside is MORE expensive, but what is more expensive the cost of the batteries??? Or the item being useless when you need it???

2. Hot Hands 2 hand warmers...I came up with this technique on a camping trip in the Natahala National Forest. Our ham radios were powered by rechargeable NiMh batteries, but when subjected to below freezing temps, the batteries couldn't take it and they would shut down. Cold and rechargeable batteries don't mix in my experience, so some way was need to keep the battery warm so we could use the darn things! We had a crap load of hot hand hand warmers so stuck these in the radio pouches to keep our radios working. They work EXTREMELY well at this and we got through the trip. No fumes and no fuel or mess. Thin enough to fit in pouches or be temporarily taped/rubber banded to the back of cameras,camcorders, GPS units, ham radios, etc. They also do not get too hot (130F) but you should make sure that your electronics don't super heat by monitoring them while using the hot hands.

Just something you need to consider when working outside in the cold and expect your electronics to do the same...

That is what I used to get the video camera to record those 'precious moments' today!



Zombie Axe's "Check Six Ring"

ZA's Check Six Ring in action

Back in my early school days I read an interesting book. It took place in the late 1800's but I don't remember much of anything other than the central character was young boy and somehow befriended a benevolent river boat gambler. The gambler had one of the coolest things to check behind his back while playing card so NO bad guys could get the jump on him. The cool thing was a "highly mirror polished ring" so he could see what was going on without turning around. I reckon he had to keep an eye on the players so they wouldn't cheat and keep an eye on his rear (called "check six" by military folks) so he wouldn't get jumped! I always thought the idea of a mirror ring was very neat and a worthwhile idea.

In my high school days i had a cool pair of sunglasses which were mirrored on the inside edges to allow you to "check six". I loved those things and the reflective ring became a distant memory.

ZA's Check Six Ring Model 1

Enter to a few weeks ago, I discovered Kip Kay's awesome HOW TO videos and REALLY got interested when he showed this little 1"x1" mirrors that people use in craft projectsm
, but was using them to bounce a laser beam for a home brewed security system. I thought, "wow next time I locate some of those I will hafta get some!"

Now flash forward to today. I was checking out a VERY good dollar store called "Mighty Dollar". They had bags of these little mirrors for , you guessed it, a dollar. I bought several bags for projects I have been wanting to do and lots of other goodies :)

When I got home, I thought about the gamblers ring and boy now I got the mirror, how can I make it handy???

ZA's Check Six Ring factory

I went messing around in the tool room and found some copper fittings from a plumbing job I did years ago... and it dawned on me, that I was a pretty good solderer back in the copper pipe days :)

ZA's Check Six Ring 1&2

A 3/4" coupling made a good ring after cutting a piece off. A 1/2" coupling cut into, pulled apart, pounded flat made a good base to support the mirror on the copper ring. All I had to do was solder the two together. After a little engineering and some blow torch time, my little project came together just fine.

I made 1, then made another using a more streamlined approach. My wife was astounded I could make jewelry (I am in trouble now ;) )and thought it was a cool idea.

In the pics I am using a piece of tape to hold the mirrors onto the copper plate. The one I will be testing out has it attached with an adhesive silicone glue. I am planning on painting these in a "skin tone" color to blend in with the hand better.

Ok Ok, you ask, "WTF is that for???????????????????????????" Fair enough, the 'ZA Check Six Ring' is to discreetly observe WTF is going on behind you. Observe things overhead while looking down. Place on a table to observe whatever.

ZA's Check Six Ring model 2

I really do not know if there is a market for this or not, or heck, even a practical use for it. A fictional river boat gambler, thought something similar was a good idea, so maybe there is a use??? It's a cool idea if I do so so myself :)

Thanks for reading!!!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ramblings on gates and limiting access...

Limiting access is a great way to secure things. Many criminals simply drive around the neighborhood and look for an easy mark. I have studied break ins in my AO and have noticed that the places that limit the getaway car from being able to pull up to the front door and load up the goodies were usually safe. I have advised neighbors to do such and some have taken my advice, some have ignored it and others only understood 'half' of what I recommended. Electric gates are nice but I will not be covering them in this article.

To take retreat security seriously you need to use the ONION method. IOW you need many layers. A gate or a fence is only ONE layer in a well thought out security plan.

IMHO a gate is one of the first PHYSICAL barriers a potential threat could come up against. Gates and fences are designed to keep something in, something out, or BOTH.

One family in the neighborhood lost a loved one a few years back. She was an elderly lady who knew everything that was going on which was a deterent in itself. While she was alive she had many visitors so a gate was not an option for her. However, when she passed away the family wished to limit access to anyone wanting to 'snoop around' because there were no longer EYES watching the place.

A large pennant gate (triangular) was thought to be a solution but costs over $600 to fabricate. I offered them a simple solution of the chain gate. Basically 40' of 3/8ths chain secured between two posts or trees at a natural choke point. You have to be careful with using a too heavy chain or you will have to be superman to lock it.

Basically we secured a light pole 3' down in about 160 lbs of concrete. Setting the pole was tricky as we had to dig into a bank to place the pole so we wouldn't impede the flow of runoff water in the side ditches. Instead of opting for a second pole we used a handy oak tree to secure the chain. The oak is where the family placed a keyed padlock to get in and out as needed. On the light pole 4 large screw eyes were place so the chain could go through and not be 'walked up and off of' the pole. The chain needed to also be secured back upon itself and it only made sense to use a lock to do so. This lock is one of the combination locks that the combination lock can be changed at will, so you can let service folks in and then change the combination, thus giving them temporary access. Also a solar powered halogen motion detector night light is placed strategically to BLIND the driver of a car or truck at night. The light does not blind the trespasser into hitting the gate, but to disorient them and give the family time to react. This also works as a visual burglar alarm. So far there have been no vehicles or break-ins at this property as it is a PITA to back out of there and this gate removed access to the cul de sac that folks used before. If you make things hard, folks will not even bother. Criminals like EASY targets and most 'case' the location and even visit it before they ever take anything...


One of the folks in my neighborhood before I moved to my current AO had some crooks break into their home after they established a pattern that the bad guys could set a watch to! One day as the homeowner left, 10 minutes later, the bad guys broke in and pillaged the house. This house had an alarm system but the crooks knew they had a few minutes to smash and grab. They backed the getaway car up to the door, kicked in the door, and grabbed the good stuff (as per elderly next door neighbor's eyewitness testimony). The homeowner invited me over to see the damage.

I tell you, this made a BIG IMPRESSION on me and I designed the security of home with the lessons learned from this neighbor’s incident. The neighbor upgraded his door and security and installed a gate. The gate will NOT stop any vehicle as one night a friend came by and pulled the posts to the ground by driving through this gate with a BMW. The gate or cable across the driveway suffered more damage than the BMW:eek: It is VERY effective for stopping friends knocking on your door though, especially in the rain!!! So if you place a gate, design it to stop whatever you put it up for or at least go down FIGHTING!!!

When I got a hankering to write this up, I decided I needed some pictures. Most of these were taken in fairly rural areas within a few miles of each other. A lot of my ideas to limit access came from ones similar to the ones below.


In placing an access limiting device, you need to first decide what you intend to stop. Cars, trucks, four wheelers, motorcycles, people and animals all require different things to stop them. A gate that works great to limit trucks may not work well for motorcycles.

Most gates unless they are attached to a fence are designed to stop vehicles. A gate will limit access until it is unlocked to allow someone to drive through. A lot of times you cannot find the PERFECT choke point to place a gate but a fence isn't what you want either. To limit vehicles you place posts 3 foot or higher (spaced so a vehicle cannot pass between) so one cannot simply drive around but can still walk to the trail.


Another idea is a variation of this method is to place posts further apart and string a thick cable between as to prevent vehicles from driving between the widely spaced posts.


Using natural 'choke points' such as spaces between trees in the forest, buildings, large rocks, hills, etc. can be the EASY way to secure your road.

If one can wait long enough, you can simply plant trees or bushes that will grow INTO a natural barrier.


Some gates can be fabricated from steel and nothing short of a tank can defeat them. Make sure your gate is your weakest point, or folks wishing to compromise your defenses will simply BYPASS and go for the EASIER point of entry.

Drainage Ditches, creeks, streams, and rivers can provide a good barrier, especially if they are deep enough. You can also add trees, fences, rocks and other barriers to increase the potential for success! Just add a gate at the bridge or culvert and you are good to go!

There are lots of other methods for homestead/retreat security but stopping them from coming down your driveway is one of the first steps. I think everyone should have a gate if you have the property to do it.

Also keep in mind that having to get out of your vehicle WTSHTF is a perfect AMBUSH point for the bad guys. If you have ever read FerFAL's blog (www.ferfal.blogspot.com) on surviving the conditions in Argentina, you know one of the main methods of ambush used by the bad guys is getting you when you leave your home. A gate can make you vulnerable as well. Better have someone watching your six at home ready to unleash havoc on your enemies. So design your gate where you or someone else can cover it if things go bad!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Ramblings on becoming a "Thrivalist"...

First off some definitions:

intransitive verb
1 : to remain alive or in existence : live on
2 : to continue to function or prosper
transitive verb
1 : to remain alive after the death of
2 : to continue to exist or live after
3 : to continue to function or prosper despite : withstand

1 : to grow vigorously : flourish
2 : to gain in wealth or possessions : prosper
3 : to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on

I have always viewed survivalism as going out in the woods (by choice or circumstance) living there for a week (or longer) with just the things you have with you. Also my concept of survival is that you did enough to 'get by'. Nothing wrong with that but would you prefer to survive or thrive???

Surviving and thriving are not necessarily about minimal and maximum gear, but rather about know how!

Is the only way you know how to start a fire by using a match or lighter and burning paper? Sounds to me like you are surviving, but not after the supplies run out!

Or can you use a bow drill, fire piston, magnifing glass and use materials you find in nature to start and keep the fire going! Sounds like you are THRIVING there!

Know how to go through the wrecked airplane and scavenge all the honey roasted peanuts from the wreckage??? SURVIVING!!!!

Know how to run a trot line, fish, setup snares, find edible plants and how to cook and preserve those food for the long term??? Sounds like you are THRIVING to me!!!

WTSHTF and you are sitting in your home with the lights out, freezing because you ran out of Pine Mountain Logs, starving because the Taco Bell's power is out as well, and hear a bump in the dark but can't see WTF it is... you are surviving... but NOT for long!

or are you...

WTSHTF you are sitting in your easy chair reading a good book by the firelight in your light disciplined home (aka blackout curtains) listening to the shortwave when your intusion system silently alerts you there are visitors coming down your road. You quickly set down your WARM cup of joe, don your gear and weapon, notify your team mates to be ready and get into position! Sounds like you are BOTH SURVIVING and THRIVING!

So my friends, are you merely gonna survive TSHTF or are you gonna THRIVE during it???

What you learn and practice NOW will determine if you THRIVE or just 'get by' if you live long enough during TSHTF!

Don't you deserve to THRIVE???



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ramblings on the Optimus Nova + backpacking stove...

My EOD bag configured as a "Cook Kit".

Inside the EOD bag, with fuel, stove, pots and instant food/beverages.

When I first turned on the Optimus Nova + backpacking stove from preheat to fuel throttle, it reminded me a small jet engine with the afterburners on!

I have had some pretty extravagent meals when I have gone camping before. Most of my meals have been cooked over dual burner Coleman type, white gas and propane stoves. I have even cooked foods over the campfire and in dutch ovens. However, these stoves are big an bulky when one hikes into wild backpacking style!

So when I got into backpack camping I needed something strong,small,powerful and RELIABLE! This was also going to get double use as a GHB and work/travel stove.

I read a lot of reviews and most of them were very favorable to the Optimus stoves. I am a big fan of MSR stuff, but I liked the heavy duty pot supports of the Optimus Nova and I also liked the Nova's all metal parts...

Some of the folks issues with the Nova is that it is constructed of brass which weighs more, but makes a more durable and lasting stove In my opinion.

The Nova+ will burn just about any petroluem liquid. Gas can be used, but do you really want all those additives winding up in your chow??? During an emergency though all bets are off. I burn the highly filtered Premium Coleman fuel that comes in a quart plastic bottle and that, so far is the only fuel I have tried.

When you purchase the Optimus Nova + it comes in a nice zippered ditty bag. In it you will find a small repair kit (O rings,fuel filter and grease for the washers inside the pump), the Nova + and the pump. All you need is to purchase a fuel bottle (250 ml used in this test) and your fuel. Fuel bottles range in size from the small one (quarter liter) to the large (one liter) size.

The small one is good for your GHB/BOB and lasts over 2 hours of good hot cooking. I like the large liter size for week long camping trips.

To use the Nova + you will need all the items I mentioned above. Assembly is very easy. Remove the plug from the fuel bottle, insert the pump, screw it in hand tight, pressurize the bottle with about 25-40 strokes, open the pot holder legs, straighten the fuel hose, insert fuel hose into fuel pump quick connect, open fuel hose to release a small amount of fuel then shut off, light the fuel to preheat the burner, when the flame dies down turn back up the flame and it should burn a blue flame.

The Nova + works as advertised and the capability of cleaning the fuel jet nozzle during use with the included tool makes it very easy to maintain. I really like how the fuel valve control is located AWAY from the hot burner. When you get done cooking you simply flip the fuel bottle over and it purges the air and the fuel from the fuel line and prevents fuel spills. Then you disconnect the fuel bottle quick connect, install the dust cover on the quick connect, wait for the Nova+ to cool down, pack it up and be on your way!

When the weather turns cold, I sometimes take along the Nova+ in a EOD bag along with a small bottle of fuel, a cooking pot and some dehydrated soup (cup of soup) hot cocoa, instant and ground coffee. When I bring the ground coffee I also tote my French Press coffee mug to make some awesome coffee in the sticks. When I carry my "cook kit" it is not really for emergercies, it is for having hot liquids. When you work outside all day long, it is nice to have a warm cup of something.

Today I took these pictures while boiling some water for hot chocolate today. It took about 6 minutes after the burner was preheated to boil 16 ounces of water. When backpacking or using the stove with the cook kit, I tend to stick with dehydrated foods and instant beverages to limit cleanup. IOW I just boil water and stick with food products that only require adding hot water (Mountain House, Cup of Soup, Instant Coffee, etc.) since all I want is something hot. I don't want to spend the time to clean those noodles stuck to the bottom of the pot!!!

So far the Nova+ is one of the fastest burners I have used to boil water! I like when I get a hankering to eat, I can get something fixed to chow on in under 15 minutes. Fast food indeed!

The Nova+ is also a part of my GHB/BOB and Stranded Bag. A stove can be useful to melt snow for use as drinking water and of course cooking food, heating water, and warming MRE packets in hot water. So there are many uses for a stove so small in your BOB and you can find many uses for it in wilderness camping, making hot chocolate while the kids are playing in the snow right on site, and anywhere else you need a stove!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ramblings on Get Home and 'Stranded Bags'

Thought I'd share some of my GHB, Escape & Evasion, and "Stranded Bag". My primary focus is a bag that will get me back home or help me survive a situation where I may be stranded for a few days.

This bag is no where near complete and is a little heavier than I'd like but not bad for what all is in there. Weighs in under 30lbs which is no sweat for me to hump as I regularly hump a 40lb bag on some of my excusions. I still need to give it a shakedown cruise!

Some things I omitted for OPSEC reasons and some are items I need to add (nagelene bottle and cup THANKS Diesel for the link) and some platypus water bags.

I work primarly outside and at work I keep in a patrol bag alot of work related clothing including cold weather gear. Should I need to get back home I will rob the items I need from my other bags (mainly clothing) and get back. First I have to get back to where I will keep this bag from wherever my work truck is, then a short hike to a private storage building I maintain in the town I work in, and then hopefully ride a bike back home (WX permitting). All this is from the scenario that my vehicle does nt work and I can't get a ride home for whatever reason. Walking is the worst case scenario so my bag revolves around it. Riding the bike home is next to the worst, and driving home is definately plan 'A' However, hope for the best, plan for the worst!

What I am referring to as a "Stranded Bag" is sometimes I have been snowed away from home and I have to set up house wherever. It is rare it has happened, but it has often enough to be annoying. Also, my work truck SUCKS in the snow, and I have been up in the mountains and stuck before. One of these days if I get stuck and can't get out I can camp out until help arrives. This bag will stay in my personal vehicle unless the WX conditions warrant it as I have enough stuff in my work truck to make it through 'standard emergencies'.

So without further ado, my BAG

Spec Ops T.H.E Pack treated with Camp Dry with 2 M-16 Mag pouches for additional capacity.

Contents list:

T.H.E. Pack

one technician screwdriver
one versa driver pocket tool
one you dig it mini shovel
one Gerber LMF2 knife
one cold steel voyager lock back serrated blade knife
one knife sharpener
one small diamond stone
one Gerber saw
one multipurpose saw (uses reciprocating saw blades one for wood and one for

Kenwood THF6A radio
seven LED keychain lights(smaller than light sticks, reusable, can be switched of, and are brighter)
one Energizer LED headlamp
six AAA batteries for headlamp
one CR123A battery holder that holds four batteries for EDC flashlight
8X21 monocular
one pair Bushnell binoculars
signal mirror
three Air burst flares
one bright orange rainfly (also double as signal marker)
para cord
two rolls mason twine high visibility
2 oz WD-40 spray can
one small tube superglue
one whistle

Medical Hygiene
Adventure Medical Kit
Adventure Medical Kit blister kit
Adventure Medical Kit pocket medic
One EMT shear
one purell hand sanitizer
One mole foam
insect repellant wipes
sawyer sun block
one small bar of soap
one small bottle shampoo
one small toothpaste/toothbrush
one floss
two chaptstick
twelve eyeglass cleaners (also can double as fire starter)
one 40 wipe container antibacterial wipes
one roll tp vacuum packed
ear plugs

sewing kit
one snug pack poncho designed to fit over backpacks
one 9'x12' 3 mill thick drop cloth for improvised shelter
one disposable emergency poncho
one survival blanket
one change of clothes
Tilley hat
one pair mechanics gloves

one butane lighter
one peanut lighter
three small boxes of matches
one match safe of strike anywhere matches
one Kershaw fire steel
one magnesium fire starter
water proof fire sticks for fire making
magnifying glass

Water purification/gathering
one MSR EX water filter
** two platypus bags
various sized aloksak bags food grade to gather and store water and protect
items that need waterproofing
sponge to gather dew in arid environments
hydration system not shown
coffee filters to help remove sediment

one Optimums nova + multifuel stove
one bottle 250 ml fuel for stove good for 2 1/2 hours cooking
one MSR cook set
P38 can opener
six power bars high protein
one package homemade beef jerky
three Mountain House meals
three MRE's
seven tasters choice packets of instant coffee (dollar store special)
one liter water bottle
**Nagalene Water bottle

one silva compass
**maps of local area
GPS V in work bag easily switched to carry bag

Also added:

Pen,Pencil and notepad
Wire for snares and small fishing kit
Small 'airplane sized bottle' of vodka for wound cleansing, sleep aid, pain killer, sterilizer, etc.
Contractor sized trash bags

Thought not part of this bag, I carry these items everyday (EDC)
One Kershaw folder
One SAK multitool
One Zippo lighter
One Peanut Ligher
One micro grappling hook (use it for telecom work to snag overhead wiring)
One survival bracelet (www.survivalstraps.com) with about 15-18' paracord
Blackhawk Gladius Led light
Pocket Widgy Tool (mini pry bar)

Also in my work bag:
Insulated coveralls (prefer them to insulated underwear)
2 waterproof GoreTex Jackets
Various Sweaters/Fleece
Extra clothes



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ramblings and Observations of the fuel shortage in Western North Carolina...

This was written over a period of several days so sorry if my train of thought gets derailed!!!

Once again prepping pays off!

The pipeline that supplies WNC with fuel has not be running @ full capacity since Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas coast 2 weeks ago. Gas supplies have been lacking in our area since then.

It is kind of spooky seeing all those pumps with bags over the nozzles. You immediately know which stations have fuel and those that don't.

The ones that do look like a 40 car pileup on the interstate as motorists jockey for pump position.

The ones with NO fuel look pretty barren with usually only the employee's vehicles in the parking lot. There is diesel for sale about anywhere that carries it in abundant supply.

My personal vehicle is by choice a gas sipper, so I can drive 6 days a week on 12 gallons of gas. The family vehicle doesn't do that well, but it is close to 30 mpg.

If it wouldn't be for my work vehicle (10 mpg gas powered 25 gallon tank Truck) I wouldn't even notice this crisis outside of observing it as a spectator.

My employer has me to refuel from gas stations via a fuel card. Other than what is in the tank, that is all I can store. Some smart managers in Asheville that work for the same company, have hashed out deals to deliver and fuel work trucks at the place of employment. My managers, unfortunately , don't think that far ahead, and I have to spend an hour every other day to fight the masses to jockey for position at the pump...

The folks in line at the pumps have been suprisingly civil, but that is not the case everywhere. A few towns over, a man pulled a gun on another man becuase he beat him to the pump. Waiting in a line with a bunch of angry people, the smallest thing can make someone go off the deep end! Be on a high level of alert while waiting to fuel up (or anytime) as ANYTHING can happen!

Watching the Charlotte, NC news last night, there was alot of heated verbal exchanges going on there. Not suprising really as Charlotte is a madhouse when things are going right!!!

I honestly feel sorry for those that are passing through North Carolina on their way to home or vacation that get stranded in our state. One fellar was stuck in Charlotte on his way back to Rhode Island just waiting to get some gas to continue his journe

Here is how I have been making out so far. Luckily the golden S&P rule of keeping your gas tank half full is an great way to give you options. When you are on empty your choices of where to get fuel is limited to your immediate area. With the 1/2 tank trigger, if you can not find fuel there, you can drive on to the next town.

To prevent folks from taking too much gas and to give everyone a fair shot, many gas stations will limit your fuel purchase to 10 gallons. Most average gas tanks hold from 12 to 20 gallons... Well within the half tank trigger/ 10 gallon limit!

Remember how people were stealing gas when it rose to $3 a gallon??? Well I expect those type people will be even more desperate when there is NO Gas to be had. I have locking gas caps on all my vehicles as well as a fuel tank patch kit in case someone decides to go the "poke a hole" route.

As I mentioned before, half a tank is when you should be your trigger to fill up. Many of the so called "officials" and "experts" say to wait until you are BELOW a quarter tank before you refuel... So you will not just top off all the time... That is stupid thinking!!! When one refuels and tops off a 3/4 full 12 gallon tank... That is 3 gallons... When one fills up a 1/4 full tank... That is 9 gallons!!! Doesn't make much sense to me either!

I do understand that folks filling up all the time and getting 20 extra gallons makes for limited supplies to be even scarcer. However, I don't want to be the guy with the empty tank when the last of the fuel is pumped out and I am still on empty pumping nothing but air in my tank! Dang work truck!!!

For my personal vehicles I do not hafta participate in the get the gas race. So in the evenings I smile with glee as I dodge the traffic jams created by desperate people and head home to the sticks...

Just today I had to work up in the mountains. They are bad off up there as well but all the stations were empty in my town of employment. I figured my best bet was to head up the Interstate and not be a part of the roving pack of thristy vehicles. Tried a truck stop a few miles up... No joy... They bagged their pumps like all the others. Decided my next stop would be the way I was going anyways... Wouldn't you know it... A nice sized truck stop with... GAS!!! And no lines!!! So I pulled in, pumped my fuel and was on my way in 10 minutes! Lucky me!

In my experience, the larger truck stops that cater mostly to truckers almost ALWAYS have fuel. It may have something to do with them being a larger volume seller of fuel and a good agreement with their supplier. Also these truck stops have plenty of room to snake your way in line much safer than waiting on the road!!!

I have not seen many folks buying up extra fuel, but on the front page of the Charlotte Observer there was a fellar filling up four 5-6 gallon gas cans, but three of them were kerosene blue ones (If he has a kerosene heater, I hope he doesn't forget what he put in there... his arse, not mine!!!)...

I have also witnessed that large gas cans (5+ gallon size) are in short supply... Get your stuff before everyone else has the SAME idea!!! WTSHTF is no time to get your gear order form filled out!!!

I have enough fuel to ride this out for now, but I probably don't have enough to satisfy my mental comfort level. Alot of S&P prepping involves you deciding on a prep level that is in your comfort zone. Then a situation arises (like this gas shortage) where you 'were' comfortable, but realize that you would be better of with a higher level of that prep...

So when things settle down and supplies get back to normal, I will restock what I used, and add a little more capacity for the next time this happens...

Thanks for reading, 73!Later,ZA

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ramblings on acceptable risks

I got an email from a reader the other day about taking a good paying job in DC. "Eric" asked me what I thought about taking the job. Here is my reply:

Thanks Eric for the email,

Life is about deciding acceptable risks. Which risks you are willing to take and if those risks will reward you for taking them. I can think of the example of the "contractor" in Iraq... he takes great risks in carrying out his duties... but he makes quite a bit of money... for the period he has agreed to...

Some jobs are not that dramatic, but all carry a ratio of "risk to reward". Not trying to preach or anything... just trying to put it in perspective...

I gather from your email that you currently living close to DC... so you may not be "shocked" by the condition/situation like someone from the rural South... So if you are a hardened "veteran" of the area and can stand it... Then go for it! If I scanned your email wrong... and you are from an area unlike DC... then I would avoid it!

If I did take a job in DC... you had better believe I would have some serious S&P gear (within legal limits of course) for about every contigency I could think of... especially terrorist related!

You do not need a firearm to survive... it just makes things easier if you can... Remember that thing between your ears is your greatest weapon... equip it with all the upgrades it will hold!!!

I can not tell you what to do... just offer you some guidance. If you think that DC is the bull's eye for a terrorist attack... then you need to ask yourself, "is it worth the risk?"

You can die tragically at any job in any place... there are NO guarentees in life that something is a surefire SAFE thing to be doing!!!

I personally would run like heck from that area... but it not just from possible terrorist attacks... it is the anti-gun, political, crime/social matters, and the lack of wide open spaces that keep me away...

As for the probability of a terrorist attack (like the Jericho scenario)... it can possibly happen... remember that it is not a matter of 'if'... it's a matter of 'when'...

I am not bashing any of your "prophets"... but I don't remember how many "chicken littles" I have heard over the years... Most like to set dates or timelines... which go by without anything happening... We know the "sky is gonna fall" but we don't know when... unless those people are the ones that are gonna make it fall!!!

Like I said not trying to bash any decent folk... just be leary of "date setters".

I hope it gave you something to think about and it was helpful in some way.Have a great day and good luck in what ever you decide...

Keep us posted!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rabid Racoon

A post from a long ago post posted on the Rubicon which *I* wrote...

*Rabid Racoon*

By: ZombieAxe

14 October 2003

I Went down to my folks place this evening after work to get some "woods" time. I had planned this before I left work so I brought along my H&K USP and Blachhawk Flap holster rig and packed it SECURELY in the lock box.

After work the WX was a little drizzly but nothing major. It had been awhile since I had walked along the entire property line, and things were grown up. I also took along my folk's German Shepard who adores me as long as Dad is ain't around (then I am second place :) ).

The rain was picking up a little and I ALMOST did not finish walking the entire property but I went on as the tree canopy was keeping most of the rain off of me. As we were walking a trail in behind the homeplace, the Shepard came close but not in contact with a gray looking cat that appeared to be dead... fearing that the animal might have died of some disease (mainly I was thinking Rabies), I told the shep to stay clear of the animal. As I got closer I told Shep to go the house (she is a highly intelligent dog) and she obediently went there.

As I got within 10' of the "CAT" I noticed that IT was not dead, even though many flies were swarming around it and it was a VERY skinny, but full sized racoon!!! It struck me as odd that a racoon would be sleeping in the middle of a path, in the open and in DAYLIGHT as they are nocturnal creatures.

I immediately drew the H&K and aimed at its skull as it became aroused. It had a weird air about him as he didn't show fear and looked like it was getting up to head in my direction. Not waiting for its next move, I shot once striking it the skull, and then again to which the racoon flipped over on its back and its rear legs were kicking into the air, so to end its miserable life I shot it a third time :( It was dead.

After I put up the dog, it was getting dark, so tomorrow I will call the county animal control folks to come get Rocky Racoon and see if it indeed had rabies. It had all the signs of Rabies,except it didn't have the "foaming at the mouth", but the racoon could have been too dehydrated to have that sign. The racoon was very near death...

It pays to be armed ANYTIME you are out and about. Sometimes the threats are not what you expect. I was expecting running into the 2 legged pests that sometime frequent the outer edges of the farm, but instead I ran into diseased animal that might have been a handful if I had not been armed.

Only thing I would have done differently, is also brought along my Ruger 22/45 which I had in the truck but FORGOT :( to dispatch the animal...

Come to think of it, thats the first case I can think of that I didn't need that much gun... The point being that I was armed! Threats come in all shapes and sizes and UNEXPECTEDLY... Be prepared :) 73!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

The barrier Island of Portsmouth is very isolated

Operating a Ham Radio Station on a Remote Island...

Last year, a couple of my friends and I discussed where we were going to go the next year on our yearly trip. The idea of going to a remote island off the North Carolina coast won out. I decided to turn the trip into what Ham Radio Operators call a DXpedition. A DXpedition is where Ham Radio Operators usually operate from a remote island or rare grid square or so on. The idea is so other Ham Radio Operators will be able to work your station and get credit for various awards. The DXpeditions that you read about mostly have a support team; we would have to be our own support team. We also decided to turn our DXpedition into a Special Event Station (to get a 1X1 callsign for 2 weeks), and IOTA (Islands On The Air) event. Before I mislead you, I want you all to know that this was not a 24-hour a day operation as Hams go on in QST magazine (a magazine for Hams published by the American Radio Relay League). It was a few hours a day (usually 4) as this was a vacation also.

After the idea was hatched, I had to figure out what I wanted to do and how to do it. As for communication equipment, I had that already covered. I brought along the ICOM IC-706MKIIG compact HF rig that would be my #1 radio. An Automatic Antenna Tuner would also be required, but I had that base covered as well in a LDG AT-11MP.

My home antenna is a portable one and while it does well, I was going to need something larger. I acquired a G5RV antenna at a Hamfest. G5RV antennas work VERY well! Anyone who has been at the beach before knows that there are not many trees to hang your antenna from so a portable mast was also going to be required. I found what I was looking for in an MFJ-1910 33’ fiberglass telescoping mast.

I was also planning on working mostly digital modes (PSK31/MFSK16) so I had to have a laptop, which I did, along with the appropriate 12V DC power adapter.

Now that I had the station equipment covered, I needed to power it. I have some wet deep cycle batteries. But after our last trip in the woods, I wasn’t really satisfied with the special conditions that I had to consider when transporting them. I mean, they can leak acid and really make a mess of things IF the case bursts open. On a trip where you might encounter some dicey 4X4ing conditions you do not want to worry about your lead acid batteries spilling their guts on you other gear.

I became seduced by the prospect of acquiring some AGM batteries. These AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) are very rugged and even if you poke a hole in the side of one, the bad stuff will stay inside which is perfect for my needs. Another plus was that the AGM batteries had a quicker recharge turnaround time (1 hour according to the specs) than a regular wet cell deep cycle.

I found what I was looking for at Bass Pro Shops for $119 for 79 amp hours. Pricey but money well spent in my opinion.

Batteries do not recharge themselves, unfortunately, so I had to come up with equipment that would fit the bill. I have an 1100W AC/DC (DC at 90 amps) 2-cycle gas generator that would do nicely for topping off the batteries.

It worked well but was a little gas hungry. It would run about an hour at full load before needing the tank refilled.

I also brought along two 15 watt solar panels for a total of 30 watts of solar power. The solar power was intended to keep my truck battery charged for the VHF operations and satellite radio entertainment. I did not use the solar for that purpose, so it went to extend the run time of the AGM deep cycle battery.

Here lately, I have found that those 1”X 1” 8 foot long boards really come in handy on camping trips. They are small enough to easily carry 8 of them and strong enough to use for tent poles and other camp needs. They will also work well for firewood should you not want to bring them back. I made a quick and dirty solar panel rack using 8 four-foot pieces of those 1X1’s and a few galvanized decking screws. Forgive my sloppy carpentry work. This was made in a matter of minutes. It worked beautifully and my only change would be to make a permanent version with a fold up capabilities.

Shelter wise, I opted for Cabela’s truck tent. This tent attaches to the rear of a truck with a camper shell or a SUV. This allows you to have both a hardened shelter (truck) and a tent shelter all in one. Not a bad concept and it worked well for the trip. If you are going to get one of these, be aware that unlike many tents on the market today, the truck tent does not have ventilation under the rain fly, so condensation can be an issue. I was able to use the tailgate of my truck as an operating position for the ham station, which gave the portable setup a solid operating surface. In other words, I didn’t have to worry about knocking the tailgate over as I would have a “camp table” and everything was above the sand that seemed to be everywhere.

Food was packed in coolers that were shielded by reflective heat barrier insulation (it looks like bubble wrap sandwiched between 2 thick layers of tinfoil) and also had a foam cooler type insulation custom fitted inside to keep it colder longer.

Also, I used homemade block ice along with dry ice to keep my food frozen longer than it would have been in a regular cooler. The dry ice kept the block ice frozen longer.

I also froze ½ liter Deer Park bottles to keep the food cold and provide me with good cold water when needed. I brought back most of the block ice I had made.

Water containers such as jerry cans take up space in this type of situation when you want to leave with less than you brought. On a previous trip, a friend had shown me 5 gallons of water in two 2-½ gallon containers. What impressed me was how nice they stacked. Once consumed, the cardboard and plastic containers could be easily burned. These wouldn’t be ideal for long term storage but seem to work well for situations where you have to slash and burn. I brought 40 gallons with me and it worked great!

Now since you have an idea of what we had to bring, I guess I should tell you why. A little history lesson is in order. Portsmouth Island was once a large port town in the 1800’s. Sea faring ships would unload their cargo on Portsmouth Island, to which the people on Portsmouth would then transport the cargo across the shallow sound to the mainland. After a storm cut a deep inlet directly to the mainland, most of Portsmouth’s economy went to fishing. After a few large storms in the 1900’s, people started moving away from Portsmouth and onto the mainland. In the early 70’s, the last permanent resident of Portsmouth Village moved to the mainland and Portsmouth is now a ghost town along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Today, the only folks that come to Portsmouth are surf fishermen and Hams crazy enough to brave the elements to setup a station along the island.

There is NO power and only limited potable water and toilets near the ferry landing but they would be 15 miles away from our center of operations. During high tide, the beach road would be impassable for a few hours. I was able to talk to a late arrival into our camp from 12 miles away. That comes in very handy when there are NO landmarks, just sand, sky and ocean.

Cell phone coverage was a little spotty but doable. A large dune in our immediate camping area made a good platform to get into a cellular repeater. I also would get some tropospheric ducting on my wireless email PDA at night but it was spotty at best. To me this was a perfect environment to test out my comm. gear and make notes of what worked and what did not work.

The 33’ MFJ-1910 telescopic mast failed, but I fixed it to keep us on the air. Instead of 33’ it became a 27’ mast.

My idea of keeping us 24/7 on the APRS network didn’t exactly work as I planned, but we were on a few hours a day. Considering that we were over 70 miles away, we still did very well to get into the APRS node. I can say that the HF station I ran, ran perfectly once I started transmitting.

I worked many DX countries and many states. I often got compliments on my signal and I was impressed, as many were, about my operating conditions.

One of my favorite comments was, “so all you guys have to do is provide the radios and antennas and the rest is provided on the island???” As I said before, we had to bring everything!

When on a DXpedition, it pays to have a contact on the mainland SOMEWHERE. RadioRay provided that crucial link, and we even proved that you could correct a T-shirt order over HF! RadioRay was also willing to provide traffic handling should we had needed to pass traffic.

We had an awesome time and learned a lot of valuable info in other areas as well as communications! Sure you can test your gear at home, but to really test your gear you have to take it to extreme levels to figure out what does and does not work! It only works if you “know” it does, not if you “think” it does. 73


Camp Boneyard

My Hootch

PSK31 Digital station

The Dxpedition site

Quick and Dirty Improvised Solar Rack

The ghost town on Portsmouth Island

Our station antenna

Day is Done

Disclaimer and Copyright Notice

The information presented in this blog are things I know how to do and have training for. To duplicate any information or techniques within is solely at the readers risk and ZombieAxe, ZombieAxe's Ramblings or Google shall not be liable for any advice and information posted within that results in damage/loss of property, injury, loss of limb, or death. By reading this blog you, your family, your heirs and even folks that have not been born yet, have entered into an electronic binding contract to not hold any entity liable (especially ME!) but YOURSELF for any damage/loss of property, injury, loss of limb, or death from reading this blog.

FTC Discalimer,

To the Federal Trade Commison:Zombie Axe/Zombie Axe's Ramblings is not being paid by anyone, bribed with free gear to test, or offered free trips to exotic locals to 'give good press' for a product. All products were personally purchased by myself with the intention of using them for myself and any thing I plug on this blog is an item I recommend because I HAVE TESTED IT and found it worthy of mention. Go after those travel agents who get the free cruises and leave us legit non commercial bloggers alone.

All material is copyright 2009 Zombie Axe and no material may be used without credit to the author in part or whole.

Zombie Axe

Blog Archive