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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Urban Survival Planning - Reader Question on a Backyard Survival Garden

UrbanSurvivalSkills.comReceived an e-mail from Carol who had the following comments and questions: ”Dear Urban Survival Skills website, We have been looking at your site and others for the past 4 or 5 months after our son in law kind of exposed us to survival preparation. My husband Bill is a Vietnam era crewman on helicopters and no stranger to guns. We both are almost retired completely and are trying to get a bit more prepared in case something does happen like a great depression. We both logically think something bad can happen and may even result in chaos. I bought canning supplies and we have bought several buckets of prepared survival food from Costco and some dehydrated camping meals from the sporting goods store. We are now looking at doing some gardening in our back yard. We live in a suburban area and have a wooden fence around our backyard. We do not have a lot of space to grow vegetables, but certainly want to try just in case we’ll need the food. What suggestions can you give us? Thanks you in advance. Carol. P.S. My husband just loves the map reading how to’s!

UrbanMan’s reply: Great to hear from you Carol. You are doing the right thing trying to be better prepared. Thanks to your son-in-law for that. We have a baseline checklist in the Survival Preparation World,…Food-Water-Shelter and Protection. Got to cover all the basic areas.

All are important. Glad to see you stocking food and desiring to grow some of your own. Hope it won’t come to the point that you have to rely on what you have stored and what you can grow, but “better have it and not need it, then not have it at all.”

A great book is “Square Foot Gardening: by Mel Bartholomew”. It’s all about gardening tips and techniques using containers in your back yard. You don’t have to buy special containers. With your imagination you can figure it out as long as you consider drainage, exposure to the Sun, water and soil requirements, etc. That’s where the book comes in handy.

Currently I have just planted green beans, two different types of squash, cucumbers, beets, egg plant, corn. And will soon plant some carrots, potatoes and tomatoes,…..although I wanted to stay away from the root vegetables because of the soil and depth requirements. I have found that squash is the easiest to grow,…or maybe I’m just having great luck at it. I grow some monster squash and it’s last quite awhile after harvesting.

It would be great if the residents in your neighborhood could all grow vegetables and have some sort of exchange. In fact, knocking on doors in your neighborhood and giving away some vegetables may be a way to get to know people better and perhaps get them started in prepping.

I am growing vegetables in the nooks and crannies of my backyard. Where I had flower beds, I now have vegetable beds. The corn is growing up along side my fence, so it doesn’t take much room at all.

I have purchased several large orders of non-hybrid seeds, but have quite a bit of hybrid seeds and am using those for my pre-collapse survival garden.

I am not a farmer by any means, just am developing some survival skills in this area, but would have to say that growing and producing your own food is a great feeling. Good luck to you Carol and Bill.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Urban Survival Firearms - Is Weapons and Ammunition Standardization a Good Thing? received an e-mail question from someone with the call sign Rucksack 42: "UrbanSurvivalguy, would like your opinion of a group standardizing weapons and ammo. My group decided that everyone needed an AR. I was pushing for an M1A1 as the standard gun, but the group voted me down. No sweat, I also have an AR built as a long range varmint gun. One of the guys in the group has a Mini-14 and since it’s in .223 everybody said he was cool. I am the most knowledgeable in the group about guns and shooting as well as the only war veteran ( Afghanistan , 2 tours as an 11B…that’s an Infantryman). I am suggesting a standard round for everyone to buy a minimum amount of. My thinking is that if everyone has different ammunition and zero’ed for that ammunition, that different ammunition will change accuracy if used in other guns. What do you think would be the best .223 round to stock as standard?” Same question on handguns. I have three 9mm and some of the guys don’t own a handgun. One gun says no matter what he is going to carry his .41 magnum." /

UrbanMan replies: Rucksack, great questions. As you know the first rule of a gun fight is to have a gun. Second rule is now how to use it effectively. Another fact is survival is a team sport and you all are doing the right things raising these questions, thinking of standardization and such.

You are right about ammunition standardization. But the great thing about the AR platforms is that there are many different bullet configurations to pick appropriately for the mission,..or rather the intended target. The most prolific bullet weight is the 55 grain FMJ and this is the “all around” round. I would suggest this round, but have a stock of the military 62 grain steel core penetrator (SS109 bullet) for addressing vehicle threats or threats in body armor. Tracers may be handy as well. There are many more as well. So if I had to make one recommendation I would say the 55 grain FMJ and the 62 grain SS109. Zero with the 55 grain and know the different with the other. A minimum amount would be 1,000 rds per gun, although I stock well more than that for my AR’s, but considerable less for my odd guns (bolts, levers, etc.)

As far as accuracy is concerned, less different bullet weights and manufacture will change accuracy. But maybe not enough for your more in-experienced shooters to even determine. Still standardization a good idea.

Same answer for handguns….standardization a good thing, but having a handgun, and a good supply of ammunition on hand, more important. I answered another Urban Survival Group who made handguns in 9mm a requirements and then Survival Group members had their choice of a rifle (any caliber) or shotgun (12 gauge). They had reached their pain threshold and were not willing to either spend more money or make stricter requirements. But they are much better off than a lot of people, as they understood Survival is a Team Sport, and at least they thought about and considered some sort of minimum requirement.

Hey, don’t forget about the .22 either! And my last comment is that various rifles and handguns in odd or non-group standard calibers can be a good thing as it gives you a wider ability to barter for ammunition, use ammunition you “find” and so on.

Good luck Rucksack. By the way, I know what an 11B is,..I was one among other MOS’es. And thank you for your service to this country…I hope you don't think it was for naught – cause it wasn’t!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Survival Planning - Gold and Silver Investment received the following comment on a prevous post about Gold and Silver procurement for Survival Planning: Anonymous said...." I bought silver dollars in 1974 for $5 apiece. In 1979-80 when silver peaked at $50/oz I held onto my silver for the long run. I began buying gold coins in 1984, a few each month. The lowest I paid was $230/oz and the most I paid was about $330/oz. I had over 100 ozs of gold goins. I again bought silver for a few years beginning in 1992, over 1500 ozs of rounds. I held these for years and years with no profit while the stock market doubled every other year. I finally had the chance to sell recently when gold and silver finally took off. Yes I finally made a nice profit but I could have made twice as much perhaps four times as much if I had not invested in PM's.

My feeling about PM is if you have lots of time OR if you are buying it for "insurance" then go for it. But it is not really an investment it is a "bet". You are betting that the economy will crash so you can finally make a profit. When it finally happens you will pat yourself on the back and remind yourself how smart you are but if you do the math there are far better investments both in good economies and bad. But here is the important thing to know; at some point in this "bubble" the price of PMs will be two or three times it's value the day/week after the PM market crashes. Your $2000 gold will be worth $1000 and the following week worth $500. Your $50 silver will be worth $25 or $15 or who knows. It will happen quickly and will/may not return to those stratospheric values for another 20 years or so. Now I HOPE this happens because it will mean that the economy is coming back. I know all the theories; we may never have full employment again or we might have a long depression, yada, yada, yada. Well! It's gonna do what It's gonna do and eventually it will come back. I would prefer jobs for our people and fiscal sanity by our government over expensive PMs. I can't predict the future, no one can. But just like the real estate bubble burst so will the PM bubble. So buy some if you want, buy a lot if you like to gamble, but recognize it for what it is."

UrbanMan's response: Great advice in what you write. However, I'm not interested in patting my self on the back nor getting "rich". My interest in PM's, really only silver, is to have a way to purchase or barter for something I need IF it comes to that.

I too, hope for a better economy if those clowns in Wash D.C. can ever get it right. I hope to pass on my silver to my grandchildren. I hope I never have to kill another human being again, or even fire a shot in anger. But I have learned to prepare for the worst.

Just as there are people basing their survival plan around firearms and only firearms,...I am sure there are people leveraging everything just to procure PM's. I think the resonable strategy is ensure all contingencies are planned for,.....the most likely as well as the most dangerous to your survival.

Again, great advice and I like the analogy to a "bet". Nope, I'm buying for insurance and I don't go without other things just to ensure I have a little silver. I only started buying small amounts recently after a 20+ year hiatus. Some months I buy 3 or 4 Silver Eagles or Maple Leafs and some months I buy 10 or 12. Again, I would much prefer to leave all my PM's to my grandchildren, rather than to be able to say "I told you so."

Thanks for your comment. I hope others will read it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Survival Weapons - Zeroing the M4 Carbine: Iron Sights and Scope

UrbanMan received the following question on M-4 zeroing via e-mail.

Larry wrote………”Urbansurvivalskills, I read your site all the time and really like the pictures and the information. I am a hunter and am used to zeroing my rifles with scopes, but now have an M-4 and I am confused about how to zero this rifle with and without a scope. I have a holographic scope, I guess like the eotechs but cheaper. I bought the gun from a friend of mine who never shot it but took the carrying handle off and put a screw on backup sight piece. I mounted my holograph sight and have no problem flipping up the rear sight then looking through the scope and seeing the red circle dot and the front sight. Maybe you can talk me through this? Thanks. Really like your site.

UrbanMan replies: Hey Larry, thanks for writing. I am sending you via an e-mail attachment both a zero target for the M-4 that you reproduce and what the Army calls a GTA – Graphic Training Aid on zero procedures for the M-4 SOPMOD (Special Operations Peculiar Modification) which is the M-4 and package of scopes and accessories (lasers, etc.) for Special Operations Forces.  In fact, if anyone else wants a digital copy, write me at

The most common procedure is to zero your M-4 at 25 meters using the target I am sending you. This is also called the 25m/300m zero, as the bullet exiting the bore hits point of impact/point of aim (POI/POA) at 25 meters, then ascends hitting a target at 200 meters approximately 7 inches high before descending to hit the 300 meter target POI/POA.

You can leave your holographic sight on the receiver, but turn it off. You are going to zeroing the iron sights first, looking through the holographic sight. Rotate your rear sight elevation knob to the 6/3 setting. Don’t use the “Z” mark. Obtain a good sight alignment and sight picture and fire three rounds, center mass, at the black E-type silhouette on the 25 meter zeroing target that I’m sending you.

Follow the guides on the target for rear and front sight manipulations to adjust your sights. The numbers on the outside of the 25 meter zeroing target grid tells you how many clicks to the rotate the respective sight. If you do not have a M4 front sight tool to adjust the front site, then a nail will work to depress the plunger and rotate the front site up or down.

Once you have adjusted, fired, and probably adjusted again in order to shoot point of impact/point of aim and have your shots in the center of the E type silhouette (note: I would not settle for any group larger than a dime and positioned center mass), then you can flip down the rear sight, turn your holographic scope on and zero that as well.

This time you are looking at only the scope reticle,…forget about the front and read sights. Fire three rounds (better if on a new target) and adjust the scope recticle windage and elevation knobs for POI/POA. The L and R on the scope knobs refer to which direction you need to the bullets to move to get them POI/POA.

Good luck and no doubt you'll figure it out.