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The set of grips (sometimes called stocks) on a revolver can really dramatically change its characteristics--from really low profile for greater concealment to big, bulky rubber things to soak up recoil and increase shooting comfort.

Of course, having those choices leads you down the inevitable goldilocks path to find the grips that are just right.

The Smith and Wesson J-frame revolver has a multitude of aftermarket grips, but many suffer from one shortcoming or another. I've tried a several of the best aftermarket grips on the market and did a quick review on them a while back.

Way back then, I wrote about wanting to try out the Hogue Tamers, which are essentially the same grips that come on Ruger's LCR line of pistols. They looked like a pretty good happy middle ground. I put in an order with Hogue, which ended up getting cancelled due to backorder status. Then, the Tamers were out of stock everywhere.

Eventually I forgot about 'em, mildly satisfied with my old school wood and Tyler T-Grip combo. A range trip a few weeks back ended up with a thumb bleeding after getting scraped during recoil...this time around, the Tamers were in stock. I ordered some up, uncertain with how well they'd do.

Part of the challenge with the J's, especially the Airweights, is the amount of recoil they generate, which can make practice painful and ruin follow-up shots. I've found this to be an issue on any grip with an open, bare back strap. The width of the wood grips actually helps a bit versus the thinner 'boot' grips out there, but it's still becomes a bit abusive to shoot after more than a few cylinders of regular .38 special.

On the other hand, the bigger grips with a covered/padded back straps can plain ruin the concealment characteristics of the snubbie.

Some people switch grips around - big rubber grips for range, slimmer grips for carry, or they'll have separate guns. To me, that largely defeats the purpose - the shooting characteristics of the revolver are dramatically different when you swap out the grips. You want to practice with what you carry, not some gimped, 'range'-only version. 

So, there's the tradeoff between concealment and shooting comfort.

On top of that, a large number of grips are not compatible with speed loaders, which is ridiculous.

Surprisingly, there aren't really many options out there that try to strike a happy medium.

I am glad to report that the Hogue Tamers do just that. They're not too big and not too small...for me, they are a very good compromise in terms of concealment and shootability.

Though they do add bulk, the snubbie is still easily pocket carried.

They work with speedloaders, too--very well, as a matter of fact.

The Tamer's standout feature is a specially padded back strap, located right where the J-frame usually jams into the web of your hand during recoil. It's a little bit softer and squishier, really helping to soak up the recoil.

That recoil mitigation dramatically helps with controlling the snubbie under recoil and speeds up follow-up times.

It also makes shooting the J-frame a lot more comfortable. With slimmer grips, I can get maybe 25 rounds in before my hand really starts to feel it. Not a big deal in a defensive situation, but a detriment to practice. With the Tamers, extended shooting sessions are no problemo.

So, if you've got a J-frame that you carry a lot but shoot a little, or one that you've shoved into the back of the save because it's no fun to shoot, drop $21 on a set of Tamers and you'll have what will seem like a whole new gun.

Highly recommended.

Buy 'em on Amazon >
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 31, 2014, 2:43 am
The good folks over at Choate are having a big 25% off sale! The sale runs from October 30th through December 13th, and will help save you a good chunk of change if you're in the market for a new stock, shotgun extension or any of Choate's other wide array of products.

Use coupon code HARVEST2014 (all caps) to get the discount.

Choate Machine & Tool have been a looong time sponsor and friend of T-Blog, so go give 'em some love!

Choate Machine & Tool >
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 30, 2014, 2:00 pm
Reader D.B. sent this one in:

Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 29, 2014, 10:48 pm

EVZombie bringing his A game!

Only a few days left to enter this contest...if you want in, hurry it up! Details here.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 29, 2014, 3:46 am
From GT:
​I am a person with a c4/5 spinal cord injury. Here I am with my 12 gauge with adapted bite trigger and my Tenpoint crossbow with adapted crank trigger.  If I can kill pheasants and deer, zombies should be easy, lol. ​

From Alex: Huge props to GT for getting out there and doing what he loves. Awesome example.

If you want to get in on this contest, there's one week left to enter. There are three prize packages up for grabs, and your odds of winning should be pretty good! Full details here.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 25, 2014, 3:26 am
Wanted to send a friendly reminder out to the Tribe - in case you missed it, we're running a new contest, looking for your finest in monster hunting gear or garb. Your favorite anti-zombie tool, vampire defense kit, a little monster hunting cosplay at the range...the options are wide open, so let that creativity flow.

Check out the details here, and then get to work for your chance to win. There's not much time!
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 24, 2014, 2:09 am
 Some standout dialog from this week's episode:

"I sent you away..." - Rick
"You said I could survive...you were right." - Carol
"I sent you away to this--and now we're joining you. Will you have us?" - Rick

"Now, I need you to hear what I'm about to say, ok? You are not safe. No matter how many people are around, or how clear the area looks, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think--you are not safe. It only takes one second. One second...and it's over. Never let your guard down. Ever." - Rick to Carl (and his old 'Farmer Rick' self)

"We're strong--we both are. But we're strong enough that we can still help people. And we can handle ourselves if things go wrong. And we're strong enough that we don't have to be afraid...and we don't have to hide." - Carl to Rick (good message here)

"We push ourselves to let things go. And then we let some more go...and some more. Pretty soon there's things we can't get back. Things we couldn't hold onto even if we tried.' - Bob to Rick (referencing his past?)

"Rule number one of scavenging: There's nothin' left in this world that isn't hidden." - Glenn

Some thoughts/spoiler-ness:

The mysterious person watching the group was Morgan.

Not surprised to see the cannies back so soon. Rick was right in wanting to go back and finish them off...you can't let people like that live around you. It's like letting a rabid pack of wolves roam around your neighborhood.

Did Bob have a past with Gareth (cannie leader), that goes back prior to their brief convo in episode one? Seems they singled him out for capture. Bob has had a mysterious past for a while...not sure why he went outside and started sobbing to begin with. I thought he'd secretly been bitten by the bubbling corpse zombie, but apparently not. Guess we'll find out soon, since he may not make it a whole lot further into the season...

Some standout makeup effects for the water logged zombies. Behind the scenes footage showed some cool animatronics at work. The end result was very nasty. You'd want a loooong decontamination shower after swimming around in that muck.

Oh--and who hides suppressors in a fridge?

What'd you think about the episode? Anything I miss? Any speculation for next week
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 21, 2014, 3:22 am

From EdWood. For educational purposes only :).

Ventilators available from Vigilant Gear and Amazon.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 19, 2014, 8:42 am

With Ebola blowing up in the headlines, WHO projecting 10K infections/week by December and an apparent 70% mortality rate, longtime reader JeepBoy was kind enough to send in some background and info.

Hope this is helpful in answering questions you may have. 

From JeepBoy1991:

I feel I really should post this due to all the half ­truths and outright falsehoods being spread on many websites about Ebola. I am NOT an expert but I am a reasonably knowledgeable individual on the subject. I have a BS as a Medical Technologist (this qualifies me to work in a hospital lab) and a BS in Microbiology. Not a Masters degree, not a PHD, just a Bachelor's of Science degree. I worked 8 years in hospital labs, then 19 years as a chemist with the state department of health. I followed the various Ebola outbreaks since back in the early 1980s.

Ebola is a filo-virus, and is an odd duck even for viruses which are really strange at times. OK this is the c­a­t spells cat version of virology (I'm really just hitting the basics here). Viruses contain a strand of DNA or RNA that they "inject" into a cell after the virus particle invades the body. This strand of DNA or RNA uses the cell's own DNA repair mechanisms to "hijack" the cell and to reproduce more virus particles, consuming the cell's resources until the cell bursts (lyses) and releases the virus particles to continue the process.

Many people misunderstand what is meant by airborne transmission of a disease causing organism. Medical lingo is like Lawyer lingo, words mean specific things. Airborne transmission means something like a person in office 7C gets "the flu" and three days later a person down the hall, around the corner in office 23F gets the same bug because it is spread throughout the building by the air conditioning system.

This is different from a virus that is spread by body fluid contact. Body fluids can be spread a considerable distance by aerosol (coughing and sneezing) but this is a different medical term than airborne. Too many people are confusing airborne and aerosol, they are different.

Ebola has several known strains, Reston, Marburg, Zaire, Sudan, and a few others I cannot remember off the top of my head. One strain, Ebola Reston IS known to be airborne transmission. This is the strain talked about in the book THE HOT ZONE that took place in Reston, VA in the primate research facility. This strain can infect people but it has NO harmful effects on people. You do not even know you have it. For some reason it is not a species jumper like the other strains.

The other strains ARE species jumpers and do have harmful effects on people (massive understatement, what hemorrhagic fever does to the human body is truly horrible ). Fortunately, the strains that affect people are only spread by body fluid contact. These fluids can contain viable (infectious) particles for a considerable length of time, under perfect conditions for at least several days. Proper sanitation methods as practiced in the western world will do an excellent job of containing an outbreak, simply wiping down surfaces with disinfectant will get most if not all of the virus particles on surfaces. More on this later.

The reason that Ebola gets to epidemic stages in sub-Saharan Africa is due to the near total lack of Western levels of sanitation and hospital care in these areas and the funeral practices in these countries. The family of the deceased cleans and prepares the body for burial. This almost always leads to the family being infected.

Now to getting infected with Ebola and what it does to you. It does not take many virus particles to infect you, in theory only one is needed but usually more than that. A bit of information bandied about on the web is that 10 drops of body fluid contains enough Ebola to infect 10,000 people. True in theory but not in practice.

One mililiter of Botulism toxin can in theory wipe out half of New York city but in reality.... you have to eat Botulism and getting that one mililiter broken down and spread in that much food to affect half of New York is a different story. It makes for great headlines but isn't really accurate.

When you get infected with Ebola, the first thing that happens is the virus enters your cells and begins to reproduce by hijacking the cell processes. During this time, your body is beginning to produce more virus particles and at SOME point, you begin to shed virus particles in body fluids. You DO shed virus particles BEFORE you start to show the first symptoms.

The CDC annoucements that say you are not infectious until you show symptoms are NOT ACCURATE and anyone who has taken a single virology class will know this. Why the CDC is spreading this deliberate falsehood I do not know.

As the virus spreads to different parts of your body and the amount of virus builds up you begin to show symptoms, starting with fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Please note that these symptoms are not unique to Ebola, they are what you will often get with any number of mild diseases including food poisoning and most Influenza (the "flu") infections. Many people with weakened immune systems can die at this stage before reaching the distinct symptoms of Ebola.

As the infection progresses, the virus invades more and more organs of the body and "takes them over" as I described earlier. This causes the organs to begin to fail as they LITERALLY begin to LIQUIFY as the cells burst releasing more virus particles. In some cases the bones even begin to liquify. This is the final stage of infection and many people die before getting to this stage but by this time you are leaking blood through your skin, vomiting blood and pretty much anything your body is excreting is full of virus particles.

Another thing not discussed much recently: different strains of Ebola have different fatality rates. One of the strains has only a 50% fatality rate, half the people who get it survive. Some of the others have 85­%-90% fatality rates. We do not know why they are different.

The same thing occurs in other viruses, the "Spanish flu" of 1918 killed mostly people in the 20­-40 year old range, while most influenza strains tend to kill the very young and the very old. Scientists have never been able to figure out why. Influenza by itself is rarely fatal, it kills by weakening the body and the body's immune system so you are more susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections. This is why when you go to the doctor with influenza (the"flu"), they send you home with antibiotics. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses such as influenza but do help your body fight off the bacterial or fungal infections that you can get while weakened by influenza.

That is what the Dallas hospital did with "patient zero". Admittedly, the hospital really dropped the ball in this case but I can see how it happened (remember I worked 8 years in hospitals). Several mis­steps and errors had to stack up to get this blunder of sending the man home but this was the emergency room of a hospital and no one was really expecting a case of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever to walk into the ER. The symptoms he was showing are not unique to Ebola and are really quite common to a lot of different illnesses.

Big thanks go out to JeepBoy for the knowledge share! From Alex:
I'd like to add that, while the media is likely to continue to churn out the panic-driven headlines for the foreseeable future, there is not a need to freak out and quarantine yourself up.

Keeping away from sick people, washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face/mouth are some sensible daily precautions.

If the outbreak worsens stateside, expect to see a run on stuff like N95 masks, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer and so on, similar to what happened during the swine flu outbreak back in '09. With Ebola being a lot scarier, expect the reaction to be amped up accordingly.

I wouldn't be surprised to see some quarantining if the outbreak gets bad enough here in the U.S., or at least schools closed, employers telling their people to stay home and so on.

If you're in an a 'hot zone', self-imposing a limited quarantine would be a smart move. If there's a possibility that folks in the general public are stricken with Ebola, avoiding contact with 'em would be a sure ticket to avoiding infection.
Having basic necessities on hand to avoid a trip to the store for a week to a month (which we should all have anyways) would be a wise preparation for such an eventuality.

Got questions? Let us know.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 14, 2014, 11:46 pm
Our buddy Glenn wishing he'd practiced restraint escapes...
If the first few minutes of last night's season opener didn't give you good motivation for practicing urban E&E/escaping from restraints, then you're probably in the wrong place. Some hard to watch stuff.

Good improvising of weaponry by Team Rick, too. With a little work, a belt buckle becomes makeshift Wolverine claws.

A standout scene for me was the conversation between with the captured baddie and Tyrese. The scumbag straight up points out how illogical it is that they haven't killed him yet--"Why am I still alive? How can that help you?" It shows TWD is aware, at least at times, of the character's seemingly senseless survival decisions. In the zombocolypse, you don't have the luxury of taking prisoners. Kill all those bad guys and let God sort 'em out.

Overall, solid, tense episode. Several great ass kicking moments from the good guys, and the show continues to have me on the edge of my seat waiting for characters to die at any moment.

What did you think? Did the episode get you thinking about anything? Let us know in the comments.

Also -- don't forget to enter our Monster Hunter photo contest. Check out the details right here.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 14, 2014, 1:43 am

Jerry just has too much fun...
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 12, 2014, 11:24 pm
In celebration of the Hallo-ma-ween season, return of the Walking Dead and along the lines of one of my favorite book series, Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International, we're going to have us a little contest.

At first, we were just going to go with a zombie theme, but then I thought--why give those other murderous monster bastards a free pass? Nope, werewolves, vampires...if it's a monster, it's fair game for huntin', right?

So...snap a photo of your vampire hunting weaponry or collection of silver bullets. Bust out the Saiga 12 and channel Owen Zastava Pitt. Throw on your zombie apocalypse gear and slay some walking dead. Heck, put your artistic skills to work and send us a purty drawing or comic panel. Our signature apocalypse weaponry contest from a few years back should give you some inspiration if you need it.

For prizes, we'll pick three winners to receive a grab-bag of TEOTWAWKI Blog merchandise and survival loot, valued at approximately $50 each.

To enter, send in your image (please resize images to a max 1200px width if able) to teotwawki.blog@gmail.com. No text description is required, but feel free to add a brief blurb if you'd like.

The contest is open for new entries through October 31st--winners will be selected in early November.

  • Must be 18 or older to enter
  • International entries are fine -- if you win, it might take a lil' while to get your prizes
  • One entry per person
  • Keep it family friendly...PG-13 max
  • By entering the contest, you agree to have your image shared across T-Blog's social media empire, future blog posts and electronic endeavors
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 11, 2014, 8:43 pm

Found this cruisin' for gun safes. Pretty tricksy.

Not sure how I feel about all that leopard print...
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 2, 2014, 3:24 am
Well, this is not good:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case diagnosed in the United States.

Guy gets infected in Liberia, flies over to visit family, then starts getting sick here in the U.S.

CDC team is enroute, people who were exposed to the patient while sick are in quarantine.

Now, before we all batten down the hatches and crack open the cases of MREs, the CDC is saying those on the flight over or who were exposed to the patient prior to him showing symptoms are not at risk. According to CDC Director Tom Frieden via Fox News:

“It's only someone who's sick with Ebola who can spread the disease,” said Frieden. “Once those contacts are all identified, they're all monitored for 21 days after exposure to see if they develop a fever.”

Frieden added that while it is possible that someone who had contact with the patient could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, he has no doubt the infection will be contained. At this point, he said, there is zero risk of transmission to anyone on the flight with the patient because he was not showing any symptoms at the time of travel.

Still, having the Atlantic Ocean as a barrier was much more comforting than some reassurances from the CDC. The CDC is always reassuring the general population in pretty much every zombie movie, ever, and we all know how well that turns out...

Just another example o' current events to motivate you to get to work!
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: October 1, 2014, 2:01 am
Shelf-stable milk? Bwaaaa?

They've had UHT pasteurized milk over in Europe for a looong while--like the 70s. In many countries, the majority of milk consumed is UHT milk.
I've had some in past during living stints in Switzerland, and then promptly forgot about it upon returning to the U.S., where it hasn't been readily available for sale until recently. Something about shelf stable milk weirding us Americans out.

Taste-wise, it's somewhere around skim. Dramatically better than powdered milk. You can't tell the difference pouring it over a bowl of cereal or using it in a recipe. It's even good enough to drink on its own.
 Thanks go out to SP1 for giving a shout out for this stuff a while back, which led me to keep an eye out for it. I've found it at local Target and Wal-Mart stores, which means it's probably in your local grocery/mega-marts, too. Prices are $2/quart, so more expensive than regular milk, but not highway robbery.
 Recommended shelf life is going to range from six months to a year, though as usual, your mileage may vary. We just bought some (September '14) that has a Best By date of April '15, so that's 8 months. Like most shelf life/best by dates, those are probably pretty conservative.

In terms of food storage, a year is a fairly short shelf life, so it'll need more frequent rotation. Unlike non-fat powdered milk, this isn't something you can throw in your basement and forget about for the next 20 years.

But, unlike powdered milk, this is one of those "store what you eat" things that is really easy to rotate.

Running low on milk? Crack open one of these to keep the family tided over 'till you can get to the store.

With three little ones in the house, we find ourselves in that situation pretty frequently. That's when this stuff rocks. Our kids have a Spidey-sense for when we've changed up something with their food, but they can't tell the difference with UHT milk.

Super convenient, super easy. Never again find yourself with a fresh batch of cookies/brownies and no milk.

After some trials and taste tests with the fam, this stuff has a thumbs up from me. I'm going to stock up on around a month's worth of milk for our family, and then rotate out regularly from there.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: September 25, 2014, 2:41 am
Well, I need to get a safe.

Son #2 is fascinated by the "boom booms" and likes to go exploring for them. They're all stored in a safe/secure fashion, but having the toddler trying to get into gun cases is no good. There's nothing he can do with 'em if he does get to 'em, but its the principle of the thing.

And, of course, lots of other good things about having a safe.

So, a bit about what I'm looking for:

I've got a couple handgun safes, but need something for the long guns. 12-24 in terms of capacity. My long gun collection isn't that big and not growing that quickly, and I don't have space for a giant 100-gun, walk-in safe just yet.

Looking to spend somewhere in the ballpark of $1K.

We've historically moved around a fair bit. We own our home now, are more settled and have no imminent plans to move, but I'd put the chances of us moving within the next 3-5 years somewhere at 50-75%. And moving a 700lb safe would be a challenge.

For those who have moved with a conventional safe--how big of a deal is it? We could move across town or across the country.

Conventional safe, I'm looking at the AmSec safes - SF and FV lines. We've got a couple dealers 'round these parts.

But, the move deal has me a bit worried, which leads me to look at the modular safes - some assembly required.

Zanotti has been around a long time. They're a bit more than I want to pay, and the wait time is a bummer.

SnapSafe is another option I've come across new on the market. They're a bit less expensive, seem to be ready to order. A 7 gauge Titan would probably be the one I'd go with.

As far as I'm aware, those are the two main players in modular safes these days. If you know of another company making these things, let me know.

So--that's where I'm at. Looking for recommendations from the many who have been there, done that--fire away!

And, I'm not opposed to less conventional options - quality gun cabinet, for example, or something else.

Edited to add: I'm looking for a safe, or something that will be basically as hard to get into as a safe - so a really, really solid gun cabinet. Something that crooks would see and give up on trying to get into pretty quickly.

Fire resistance is a nice to have--generally, it seems that to get good fire protection, you have spend a fair penny extra. It's not worth it to me to drop an extra $1k out of the budget to go from 30 minutes to 60 minutes or whatever.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: September 19, 2014, 1:55 am

The old food storage adage "store what you eat" is often thrown by the wayside in favor of stocking up on exotic, styrofoamy tasting freeze dried foods and #10 cans of pricey, no-name bulk goods. Who really eats most of that stuff in their day to day diet?

But, that doesn't have to be the case. You can package up familiar dry non-perishables foods for long term storage with minimal tools and inexpensive mylar bags.

What the heck is mylar? It's one of those wonder materials developed by NASA back in the crazy 60s. It protects the food from harmful light, and when sealed correctly, keeps the food in a dry, oxygen free environment--essentially the same conditions found inside a well sealed #10 can. Mylar has been used for food packaging for many years, and is well known amongst food storage aficionados.

Packaging up your own foods in mylar bags is a dead simple process. And, because you know exactly what's getting packaged up, there's no need to wonder about the initial quality of the food, no doubts about whether the family will like it, and no trouble to rotate it into your daily life.

And, you can save a ton of money doing it yourself. Hit up Costco or grocery store sales, buy your favorite foods cheap, package them up and stack 'em deep.

For this tutorial, I'm packaging up a family favorite sugar-y breakfast cereal, but mylar bags are suitable for most any shelf stable dried good...rice, beans, wheat, flour, sugar, oats, pastas, baking ingredients, dry mixes--you name it.

All right, let's get down to it. Here's what you'll need:

  • Dry, shelf stable food to store (in our case, two 16-ounce boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch bought on sale with a coupon - about $2/box)
  • Oxygen absorbers
  • Mylar bags
  • Some means of sealing the mylar bags - I am using the awesome HotJaws hand sealer but many have had good luck with a clothes iron or flat iron set on high heat
  • Labels - I'm using 4x2 in. labels from Avery
  • And a printer for printing out your label
I am using 1 gallon, 5 mil weight mylar bags and 300cc oxygen absorbers purchased from Amazon. They seem to be high quality and are well reviewed and fairly priced. They arrived on my doorstep the day after I ordered them, too.

5 gallon bags are another choice and commonly used for those big food storage buckets, but I think the smaller gallon sizes give you an easier-to-use package and keeps the food to manageable quantities. Too much food and it can go stale before you eat it all.

The 1 gallon sizes are also better for socking away smaller purchases of food - those $5-10 extra you grab at the store. And, they're also a good size for giving away to friends/family/neighbors in a pinch.

Packaging up your food is pretty simple. Start by, well, putting the food into your bag.

You'll want to do some shaking to get it packaged down in there. This is both bags worth of cereal, which was just a little too much. I ended up scooping out about 1/2 cup full out to give enough room to comfortably seal the bag.

You'll want to avoid getting the inside edge dirty with crumbs - that can interfere with getting a good seal.

Next, fold/press the edge of the bag to get it ready to seal.

Then, get your HotJaws or iron hot n' ready and start sealing the bag.

So - why buy a specialty tool like the HotJaws versus a regular ol' clothes iron or flat iron?

While many, many people have successfully used irons to seal up mylar, I've read several sources that recommend against it. Something about difficulty getting the right heat and pressure to do the job correctly.

I'm not exactly sure what amount of truth there is to this, but there is a certainly a level of uncertainty out there.

On the other hand, the HotJaws is purpose-built for sealing mylar and does an awesome job of it.

It's dead simple to use, seals the mylar beautifully, and leaves no doubt about whether or not you've got a good seal on the bag. It's also a pretty tough little unit, something that should work for decades to come.

And look how nice that seal looks...

Like a bag of chips! Very cool.

I bought the HotJaws to test out, knowing I could return it if it didn't impress. At this point, you'd have to pry this thing from my cold, dead hands to get it from me.

At this point, you don't want to seal the bag all the way. Try to squeeze as much air out as you can, then add your oxygen absorber.

Pop that little dude in there. Then finish up the seal.

Sealed inside the mylar bag, the oxygen absorber will gradually absorb all of the oxygen inside of the package. Often, it will give the bag quasi-vacuum sealed look, with the whole package becoming stiffer and sucking down around the food storage. If you toss an extra absorber or two inside, that vacuum seal effect will become even more pronounced--not usually necessary, though.

If, after a day or so, it looks like the O2 absorber isn't working, open up the bag, toss in a new one and re-seal.

It's best to use the oxygen absorber quickly after opening the package they come in. If you're not going to use 'em all up at one time, you'll want to store them in an air tight container--I've found that a 1 pint canning jar is often recommended and what I personally use.

So, that's it - the bag is sealed up.

Give the seal quick visual inspection to ensure it's good. Pretty simple, huh? 

Now you'll want to label it - contents, when you packaged it, maybe cooking directions.

You can scribble on the  mylar bag with a Sharpie, but printing out some labels doesn't take a whole lot of time and gives your stored food a clean, professional-ish looking finish.

I'm using 4x2 inch shipping labels here--if you wanted to add more info, like cooking instructions, you might want to step up to a bigger size category.

Get your labels, load them in the printer.

Then we'll need to download a template that matches the size you're using. I am using a free Microsoft Word template from these guys, but there are many other sources for free labels and different software.

You can also download product logos with a quick Google search. For generic products, some clip art can add a bit o' flair.

Open up your label template, paste/insert your logo and then type in your text. I've been doing name, weight, and month/year packed.

It should look something like below:

Microsoft Word can have an odd way of handling images, so you'll probably need to play with the size and the settings found in Picture Tools to get it to look right. For Position, I choose "Position in Top Center with Square Text Wrapping" (see above).

And for Wrap Text, I choose "Tight."

Fill up the page with as many labels as you need and then print 'em out! The printed labels are trickier than the actual packaging of your food, but it's worth it.

Pay no attention to that other label...an unrelated side project ;)

And then apply the label to your sealed mylar bag. See how good that looks! Classy.

Take a moment to bask in your success and greatness. When the machines arise and we're bartering food amidst the ruins of the modern world, one of these bags would make you a veritable survivalist king or queen. And now, friend, it is you who will wear that apocalyptic crown.

With your food successfully packaged, store it away some place safe and temperature controlled. The mylar doesn't protect your food from high temps, so avoid 'em. Some folks box their bags up, others put them in Rubbermaid-style totes or 5 gallon buckets for an level of added protection and easier stacking.

Materials Cost: Around $5 ($4 and change for the cereal, $0.60 for the mylar bag and O2 absorber and $0.04 for the label). Not bad for brand name cereal.

How long will food stored like this last? Well, I've got two answers.

First, it depends. There are many variables at play in how long your food will last - what you're storing, the temperature its kept at, how well the bag is sealed, etc. Properly sealed and stored, something like white rice should last 25 to 30 years or more. I'm anticipating a bag o' breakfast cereal would last something like 5+ years, though this will likely get rotated well before then.

The second answer? I'm not a food scientist and I don't know how long your food will last. You'll need to do your own research, trial and experimentation. Shelf life charts are but a Google search away, but even these can be educated guesses at best.

Now, another question you might be dying to ask: Why am I putting back sugary breakfast cereal for food storage?

It's a familiar, family favorite comfort food that can be prepared by simply adding milk--fresh, powdered or otherwise. Or eaten dry as a snack. It's something that my family will be happy to eat, whether that's by rotating it out, if we need to eat it during tight times, or if we're cracking it open after some kind of disaster.

Yep, cereal is a mixed bag nutritionally, and its light, fluffy form factor is also a downside. A 1 gallon mylar bag will hold 4-ish pounds of pasta or six-ish pounds of rice, but only 2 pounds of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Not the best bang for your storage space.

No, cereal is not something I'd recommend as a pillar of your food storage plan, but having some set aside might serve as a convenient morale booster in tough times.

There you have it - a little bit of added know-how for your adventures in food storage and preparedness. Hopefully, this can open up some options, save some cash and help you store up your family's favorite foods for when they may need them the most.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: September 9, 2014, 3:03 am

Well, that bucket 'o Fruit Loops inspired me to get some mylar bags and start doing a better job packaging up some of the food we have set aside for mid/long term storage.

I've been planning on buying up some #10 cans of food, but the cost savings and better ability to stock up on familiar products/brands led me to give the mylar bags a try.

The bags I'm using are these 5 mil weight ones. They're good quality and a nice, durable weight.

Of course, if you're going to repackage your foods, you might as well do it right with some nice looking branded labels. Helps with the picky eaters, looks much better than some poorly scrawled Sharpie writing.

Anyways, I've got some more baggin' to do over the weekend...and, I've gotta go hit up the stores for some o' that bulk cereal. I'll get a Pinterest-worthy DIY post up soon.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: September 5, 2014, 10:24 pm

A 6 gallon bucket of generic Fruit Loops? Now that's survivin' the apocalypse in style. Thrown down some of that powdered milk and bro, you got yourself a mean bowl of cereal.

Emergency Essentials recently added these and they are honesty fairly tempting. Normal food can be a big psychological deal when dealing with tough times...especially for kiddos.

There's 100+ servings in one of these buckets, which is the equivalent to about 5 big boxes of cereal. We'd get a month of breakfasts for the family out of one of these pretty easily, but we have little kids. If you had a couple teenagers roaming the pantry, expect to get a long weekend out of one of these.

Not sure on shelf life - none is specified. 5-ish years plus would be my guess. They are mylar'd up with oxygen absorbers, and normal cereal shelf life is around a year to a year and a half, and that's in cardboard with crappy packaging.

For those who prefer slightly less dye and sugar in their breakfast cereals, they've got generic Cheerios and Frosted Flakes as well.

You could certainly DIY these up for less, especially with sales and buying generic. Add your own bucket, mylar bags and oxygen absorbers and you'd be good to go. Figure $15 in cereal, $5 bucket, $2 bag/oxygen absorbers (1 gallon sizes are appealing for a variety of reasons) and you could DIY up one of these cereal buckets for under $25. But, there's also something to be said about letting someone else do the work and do it right the first time, especially if you only want a bucket or two to put back.

Next question: When will they be getting generic Captain Crunch?
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: September 3, 2014, 7:00 pm
Let's hope that your survival never depends on your ability to catch game with little more than a blade, cordage and natural materials. But if it does, here are five of the best primitive traps, as shown on YouTube.

And by best, I mean functional but easy to make. This kind of survival is a calories game - you want to take in more than you expend. Many trap designs require intricate whittling and a lot of time to build. Why spend 2 hours of whittling when you can get the same results with 10 minutes of work? Trapping, especially primitive trapping, is often a numbers game - the more traps you have, the better your odds of catching something. 2 hours for 1 trap or 2 hours for a dozen traps?

Also - primitive trapping isn't something that most of us practice a whole lot. Simpler designs that you can remember and execute independently are preferable to complex designs that you can't, or only partially can.

1. Treadle Snare

Dave Canterbury runs through the basic treadle trap/snare in this video, plus several variations on the design using a similar trigger system. This variety of trap requires only cordage and can be built without tools. Size can be adjusted up or down depending on the target game.

2. Two-Stick Deadfall

From Sigma 3 Survival School. I made a variation of this trap when I was all of 14-ish - used a bucket instead of a rock to make it a live trap. Didn't think it had a chance of working...but, next morning, found that it had caught a rabbit. Mr. Bunny dug out and lived. Super simple to make.

3. Treadle Deadfall

More treadle action from Dave C., this time as a deadfall. Here's another design - different trigger and angle, same idea. Prey steps on the treadle, trap is triggered, weight crushes prey.

4. Heavy Deadfall

Here's an example of a heavy/weighted deadfall for catching larger game. The simple trigger can be used as a treadle or covered in bait, as shown. The deadfall/weight shown is a bit complicated, but does provide an ample platform for adding weight. A simpler trap would simply rely on a large log or two, as shown here.

5. Twitch Up Snare

Though Rob from Sigma 3 uses wire in this set (wire being always preferable - picture wire is popular), you could use whatever cordage you had on hand. Slightly different trigger system, still fairly simple, using a bait stick.

There you have it! Those are my five picks for primitive traps. Simple and quick to make with minimal resources.

Did I miss one of your favorites? Disagree with one of these choices? Let me know!
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: September 2, 2014, 4:00 pm
Had a good day with the family. Ate some good food, got some relaxing and playing with the kiddos in.

Hope you enjoyed some quality R&R today, or at least got paid well if you had to work.

I've been doing some poking around at Labor Day sales, but haven't bought anything...yet. No screamin' deals, but some solid discounts. PSA has/had $.30/round XM193, most of the dealers have 10%-ish discounts on their stuff. The kind of discounts that are tempting, but still resistible unless you had an imminent purchase anyways.

As a reminder, both leather patches and stickers are in-stock at the moment. And, the Survivalist Garage Sale still has a few items up for grabs...the status is current as of this posting. I need to do some digging and add a few things to the trade blanket.

Thanks go out to the tribe for your support, readership and commentary. It'd be a lonely place without you guys, so I'm glad you stop by!

I'm queuing up some good material for this coming week, so look forward to that coming down the pipeline.

- Alex
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: September 2, 2014, 12:32 am
For those that missed it, we've got the awesome Bomb Rider leather morale patches back in stock. Get 'em while they're available!


As a follow up to the last installment of Outside the Box, a couple notable uses for the ubiquitous 2L pop/soda bottle that didn't get covered in the comments.

Fish Trap

Via Black Scout Survival

A scavenger's take on the basket fish trap. Easy to make, set and forget. Small fish aren't exactly a filling meal, but they work well for catching larger game.

MRE Heater Bomb

MRE heater(s) + water + a 2L bottle = loud boom. Don't try at home, kiddos. More of a distraction device than a weapon, though certainly not something you want to blow up in your face.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: August 28, 2014, 2:03 am
As mentioned, clearing out some excess, unused gear. Payment via PayPal; barter a possibility. All prices include US shipping via USPS - small things will go First Class, larger things will go priority. And I'll likely toss in some free swag/surprises, too. Sorry, no International shipping.

Happy to combine shipping if you buy multiple items to save some moola.

If you want an item, say so in the comments and shoot me an e-mail at teotwawki.blog@gmail.com with the item name in the subject line.

Edit: Status is current as for 9/1/2014

And now, welcome to Barter Town...

Tactical Nylon Gear

HSGI Pistol Tacos in MultiCam with a 3-finger Raven Concealement Moduloader to allow for belt carry. The Moduloader was upgraded to the paddle attachment. More details on the Moduloader at RCS. Asking $SOLD.

PIG Drop-Slider mk 2 (bungee) single point sling in Coyote Brown, with HK attachment. $30 shipped.

Gun Gear

Older, non-matched wood stock set for Mossberg shotguns. Stock has a 13"-ish LOP. Stock needs to be refinished or at least lacquered. $22 shipped. No bolt included for attaching the stock.

GG&G Mossberg 500 QD front sling attachment. $7 shipped.


(top) Esee Izula II (black) with AZ Welk kydex sheath, plus original sheath. Knife has seen a little use, still in excellent condition. Has been stropped to touch up the edge. The sheath is awesome and comes with a mini-TekLok for belt attachment. SOLD

(bottom) Bradley Mayhem balisong. Awesome bali in great shape. Have box and papers. I don't think they make these anymore. $SOLD.

Roger's Belt Hatchet. Made by Iron Hammer Armory, with the Domari Nolo (booo!) logo on one side. I've added some camo form to help with the grip. Has seen some use, shows wear. Asking $45 shipped.

That's all for now - will be adding more later!
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: August 23, 2014, 5:24 pm

Shop & Survivalist Garage Sale
Leather patches are enroute - should be here within the next couple of days. Those who are waiting won't have to wait much longer. Edit: They're back in stock and glorious!

I'm also kicking around the idea of a 'survivalist's garage sale' of sorts. Made it happen!

I figure I might as well give the tribe a crack at the loot before flipping it over to fleabay. Comment if you'd be interested.

On the survivalism front...
As I blogged a few weeks back, our primary goal at the moment is rebuilding our emergency fund. A portion of that money is allocated towards food storage and Rawles-style tangibles (we have both - this is adding to the stores), a portion is allocated to cash and money in the savings account.

All of that depends on having the leftover money to do so, which in turn depends on having and sticking to a budget.

Budgeting is one of the secrets to preparedness...you won't have the funds to do a whole heck of a lot without it. Increasing your income is another one of those secrets, but that's another topic.

We are generally fairly mediocre at sticking to a budget, and there are always things that can sneak up on ya and decimate your budget for the month. Not that we blow through it by hundreds of dollars, but there's often an extra trip to the store/Costco that bumps us over. TEOTWAWKI Wife has gotten pretty serious about getting our food bill in under budget this month, which will be a big help.

Sticking to our budget, we should be able to make some good progress in the emergency fund/tangibles/food storage front. I've got us getting to where I want us to be (for now) by spring of next year.

Along the way, I'm planning on doing some variety of 'food storage' series here to track our progress when we get things rolling. I'll write up a separate post on that topic.

Production from the garden has slowed, which is probably a good thing. I'm pretty sick of tomatoes at the moment and the garden never really yielded enough to break out the canning gear.

Reloading has been put on the backburner for the moment, in part because I haven't been able to get to the range, and in part due to focusing time on the fam/kiddos. I need to test out my test loads before doing some larger scale production runs, and they're ready n' waiting for me to shoot up.
Otherwise, I'm culling through some of the unused/unallocated gear that we've got kicking around (see above 'survivalist garage sale') and intend to plow those funds back into the emergency fund and gear.

That's about it from me at the moment. Now it's your turn. What are you working on? Let us know in the comments section below!
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: August 23, 2014, 12:06 pm

And while we're distracted by the antics in Ferguson...

In Iraq, ISIS has been massacring Christians

Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, is the "first cradle of Christianity in Iraq," Habash said.

But after Islamic militants seized the city on June 10, Arabic letters with a chilling ultimatum were left at the homes of Iraqi Christians.

"The letter said that if you don't convert or if you don't pay, there is a sword between you and us, meaning execution." 
ISIS has been targeting Christians specifically and slaughtering them in horrific ways...crucifixion, be-headings, murdering whole families - done out of pure hatred and for shock value. We're only hearing bits and pieces reported back by the media.

They're also massacring other non-Muslim minorities:

Militants in northern Iraq have massacred at least 80 men from the Yazidi faith in a village and abducted women and children, reports say.

"He told me that the Islamic State had spent five days trying to persuade villagers to convert to Islam and that a long lecture was delivered about the subject today," said the villager.  

"He then said the men were gathered and shot dead. The women and girls were probably taken to [the city of] Tal Afar because that is where the foreign fighters are."


U.S. forces are launching airstrikes in Iraq to help loosen ISIS' hold on the northern part of the country...

U.S. airstrikes helped Kurdish and Iraqi forces retake the unstable Mosul dam. The Kurdish Peshmerga are the best, most organized fighting force in Iraq. And they have cool technicals, too.
Hope they can push ISIS back, quickly.

And as of last week, Max Velocity is trying to get a trip to Kurdistan together to roll in and kick some ass.

And civil war still rages in in Ukraine...

On Monday, Ukrainian officials said a refugee convoy of several vehicles was displaying white flags as it traveled through an area where intense fighting had taken place. The buses were hit by rockets and mortars, the officials said, leaving some of the occupants, including women and children, to burn to death. The officials said dozens of people who had left the besieged rebel-held city of Luhansk were killed, though an exact death toll wasn't available. Source.
Author: TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf
Posted: August 19, 2014, 4:39 am

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