All posts in "Buying Guide"
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    5 Tips To Help You Buy The Right Gas Mask

    By David Simpson

    Picture this. An earthquake beyond any seismologist’s wildest dreams rocks southern California. The freeway systems collapse throughout the Southland, and the San Onofre nuclear power plant is nothing but rubble upon the beach. Your air is filled with nuclear radiation particles.

    Imagine this. A terrorist network strikes an Eastern city with chemical warfare. In the Midwest, a smallpox outbreak occurs. What can you do to protect your family from breathing in these dangerous inhalants? Strap on a gas mask so you can breathe clean air. Before you make the investment in masks for your family, consider these five tips to ensure that you make a wise purchase.

    1. Use caution with surplus masks

      If you want a high-quality, military- grade mask, you may be ready to hop in the car and head to your military surplus store to snag one for each member of your family. But be sure the masks are still within code, says survival expert Marty Dent of Seattle. “Some military masks have been used and used masks are probably not going to be airtight to your face,” he says. “Plus, these masks are often out of date and past their usefulness.
      In some models, the filter can be replaced to make the mask effective again, but often that is not the case and you’ll be wearing a mask that does you no good.” No matter what type of mask you use, you’ll want to ensure that it fits tightly around your face so that no fresh air can get into it through the sides, top or bottom.

    2. Know the difference between masks

      A gas mask respirator filters many different types of particles if it’s up to date, has been stored properly, and has a new and working filter cartridge.
      Depending on the type of respirator, the mask could protect you from bacteria, chemical threats and other dangerous inhalants. Standard N-95 filter masks like the type you buy at a hardware store are also helpful to have on-hand, because they also clean particles out of the air as you breathe.
      These masks, however, “do not protect against chemicals, gases, or vapors and are intended only for low hazard levels,” the Centers for Disease Control notes on its Web site.
      The best way to ensure that you can breathe clean air is to get a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), which is similar to what firefighters and scuba divers use. They allow you to breathe clean air from a tank. However, they are quite heavy and typically only include an hour’s worth of air.

    3. Check the label

      Depending on the type of threat that you foresee, you’ll want to ensure that your mask can do the trick. Most preppers who expect nuclear fallout will have a nuclear-approved respirator or SCBA mask, whereas you may not need such a heavy-duty mask if you are expecting debris in the air from a tornado.
      Double-check the label on any mask you’re considering purchasing so you’ll know what it

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      The Complete Guide to Buying a Used Handgun

      By David Simpson

      IF the world gets crazy, you gotta be ready.
      And that’s exactly why your list of must-have items should include a handgun. At first, it may seem like a monumental task, especially if the closest you’ve been to a gun is a 3D showing of the latest action movie at your local theater.

      But it’s cool, because, as you’re about to find out, buying a used handgun is a lot like buying a car. You simply need to define your needs, the job for which it is intended (self-defense), determine your budget and then investigate the market. Once you have narrowed down the field, it is time to “kick some tires.”

      First impressions

      First impressions are important.
      You’ll see NIB (new in box) guns with all their original packaging down to those that the owner keeps wrapped up in an oily rag—or worse. For those guns that are not boxed, there are some simple first steps to take in your evaluation.
      First, confirm that the firearm is unloaded before your initial inspection. Then, go down this checklist:

      1. What is the general condition of the gun?
      2. Is it clean overall?
      3. Is the bore bright and shiny with crisp edges to the rifling and no damage to the crown at the muzzle?
      4. Are there any scratches, dents, dings or other evidence of mistreatment or accidents?
      5. How is the finish? Rust or corrosion is obviously a problem, although if the gun is sound you can always refinish it if it is financially feasible. However, that typically destroys any collector
        value that may have existed.

      Be aware that many guns will show a lot of holster wear to certain spots on the firearm but still be mechanically tight. You can either touch those spots up or let the old gun wear them proudly.

      It really is that simple for starters. From there you can do some basic ergonomics and mechanical checking. I’ll cover specifics for both revolvers and pistols in a moment, but first let’s look at the basics.

      The basics

      Having confirmed that the gun is completely unloaded, start by seeing if it fits you.

      The coolest gun in the world is no good if it doesn’t fit your hand and point naturally for you. You should be able to focus on a “target” across the room, close your eyes and raise the gun.

      When you open your eyes, it should be pretty well aligned with that spot. If not, you may be able to correct that with different stocks (grips), or maybe you should just find a different gun.

      Continue by checking its basic action. Check to make sure that the safeties work as designed, and that the cylinder, slide or magazine latches work properly.
      Ask if you may dry fire the handgun to check the trigger, and ask if you can test fire it.

      Via www.nrablog.com

      Besides trying the gun, looking at fired brass can tell you a lot. Off-center primer strikes are not good, backed-out … Read the rest

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        Best top rated survival/tactical/survival watches for the money

        By David Simpson

        TIME—THE GREAT EQUALIZER. No matter how rich or how poor you are, you get 24 hours a day. No more, no less. You can’t buy more time, and you can’t save it up for later use. There is something profoundly comforting about wearing a watch, especially if you are stranded in the backcountry with miles of open territory in front of you or if society is crumbling down around you and there is very little you can do to stop it.

        The quiet and steady ticking of a wristwatch is a reminder of civilization, of the creativity and ingenuity of man. It is a link to your past and a tether to your future. With a watch, we have been given the power to harness time in a way we never have before by utilizing each second in a more productive manner and having the knowledge of how much time we have left in the day and how much time we have already spent. With today’s field watches, time is no longer limited to the features of a common wristwatch. They come equipped with thermometers, barometers, and altimeters. They are waterproof, shockproof, and nearly lifeproof. Their batteries can last for years, and there is very little maintenance required besides wiping off the mud from time to time.  

        A watch is a very personal thing, so the features you want are determined by your own tastes. However, you will want to make sure the watch you choose is constructed solidly, features durable materials (crystal, not glass, etc.), and is water resistant to a minimum of 50 meters (to withstand at least rain and light water wear).

        What Is an ABC Watch?

        The specifications for many field watches today use that big buzz term, “ABC watch.” What this means is simply that it has altimeter, barometer, and compass functionality built into the watch and also utilizes built-in sensors. A thermometer is usually included, as well, but you will not be able to get an accurate reading while it is on your wrist due to your body heat. To get an accurate reading, remove the watch and set it down for about 10 minutes. This will give the watch time  to register the actual temperature of the surrounding air.

        Casio ProTrek

        Via www.casio-intl.com

        Casio’s ProTrek features a compass, altimeter, and barometer, so you are sure to be able to find your way in the field while staying one step ahead of the weather. The ProTrek’s tough solar power and atomic timekeeping mean you don’t have to worry about your watch dying on you in the field or displaying the incorrect time.

        • multi-band atomic timekeeping (U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, China)
        • tough solar power with battery level indicator
        • water-resistant to 100 meters
        • low-temperature-resistant (-10C / 14F)
        • altimeter
        • digital compass
        • barometer
        • thermometer
        • various other functions, such as countdown timer, stopwatch, etc.
        • full auto calendar (pre-programmed until the year 2099); 12-/24-hour formats

        MTM SPECIAL OPS Black Predator II

        The Black Predator II incorporates chronograph functionality

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          Light and lean: ultra-lightweight survival kit and gear for your choice

          By David Simpson

          If you’re in shape, you might find it easy to run. A leisurely jog around the block or on the treadmill at the gym is no sweat. It’s not unusual to believe your body is capable of doing anything. After all, it’s simply putting one foot in front of the other. Try it. Start running flat out, but then do it over rough, rocky terrain in the dark … and imagine that you don’t know where you’re going. Now, add that you’re completely terrified. Now, consider your gear. The 20 pounds of equipment on your back that you thought would be essential when you packed it at home will soon feel like 20 tons. In a survival situation during which you are traveling a great distance and you are trying to do it quickly, every ounce of gear you have stuffed in your bugout bag or emergency pack will soon sap more and more of your energy. Consider a weight-loss program … for your gear.

          Getting started—ultralight survival training. To stay ahead of the curve, I recently challenged my associates to cut the weight of their gear to a mere 10 pounds for a three-day weekend trip. By industry standards, “ultralight” translates to fewer than 10 pounds—excluding water, food, and fuel. By comparison, “superlight” is fewer than 5 pounds. What started off as a challenge proved to be a learning experience that ultimately impacted perspectives, as well as the gear carried, when weight has less of a bearing on the decision about what to pack.

          The obsession with weight set in quickly when my group was presented with this ultralight backpacking challenge. Traditional bushcraft style dictates carrying canvas, wool, and leather kit items on trips—with little to no attention paid to their weight. This trip would challenge those in my group who rely on traditional gear for its rugged construction and durability in the field. Options such as titanium, sil-nylon, and carbon fiber became more viable for this challenge.

          The strict maximum of 10 pounds gave me tunnel vision, and all I could think of was how to shave ounces off every individual item I carried. It was a daunting task, but I applied a logical order of thinking and focused on the essentials first. Faced with all the items in my standard load out in front of me, I started from scratch and built my ultralight kit from there. Warning: If you’re looking to go light, it can be costly, as many of my guys found out.

          Pack

          A quality pack is a must for the ultralight hiker. I usually carry a Kifaru Tailgunner and/or a Zulu pack. These heavy-duty, Cordura nylon packs have survived the worst conditions—thanks to their construction—but the tradeoff is weight. Because the weight carried for this particular weekend was 10 pounds and under, I could cut bulk and ultimately, weight, in the suspension and padding. I could also reduce or eliminate lashing points, MOLLE panels and extra compression straps.

          Via Amazon.com

          In the end, … Read the rest

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            Best ultimate complete bug out bag and get home bag for sale

            By David Simpson

            1. NITRO-PAK Model: Urban Survival-Pak

            Key Features:
            Lightweight, concealed weapon compartment, Coby AM/FM Radio
            Description:
            The Urban Survival Pak combines tactical survival, evasion and escape gear in one compact and lightweight unit. Designed to get you safely home to your loved ones, the kit contains items selected to give you the tools you’ll need to stay safe and survive any emergency situation.

            Developed by survival experts with military and security hands-on experience, the kit’s compact size and light weight easily accommodate the possibility of traveling many miles by foot to reach a safe spot. In addition to 72 essential survival items, the Urban Survival Pak contains a Gerber suspension multi-tool, Aquamira water filter bottle and a Coby AM/FM radio. The kit comes in a cover tactical messenger bag with built-in hidden weapon zippered compartment.

            2. REDEPACK Model: 1-Person Emergency Pack

            Key Features:
            Three-day pack; LED crank light; food and water; work gloves
            Description:
            The RedePack 1-Person Emergency Pack contains enough supplies to sustain one person for three full days, including food and water. The safety and hygiene items in the pack include a folding multi-tool, an LED crank light, a first-aid kit, emergency shelter, duct tape, a compass, lightsticks and candles.

            All items are packed within a high-quality large, multi-compartment backpack. Backpack features angled, adjustable compression straps, padded shoulder straps, zippered accessory pockets, padded back panel and hook for attaching extra gear. Loaded with survival gear and supplies for any emergency situation, the bug-out bag adheres to Ready.gov emergency prepared guidelines and standards. The compact size makes it ideal for easy storage in a vehicle, home or office.

            3. ECHO-SIGMA Model: Get-Home Bag

            Key Features:
            Condor hydration system, compact size, thermal sleeping bag
            Description:
            The Echo-Sigma Emergency Get-Home Bag is designed to provide provisions and tools appropriate to help you get home (or other suitable shelter) should an emergency emerge while you are going about everyday life. The Echo-Sigma Get-Home Bag is a mid-sized disaster preparedness kit that is perfectly suited to keep on-hand in the office, vehicle or dorm room.

            In addition to food and water rations, the kit also contains a Condor Outdoor Compact Assault Pack, a disposable lighter, tinder kit, emergency whistle, thermal sleeping bag and an emergency tube tent.

            4. NITRO-PAK Model: 72 Hour Tote-N’-Go Kit (#5113)

            Key Features:
            72-hour kit, compact, five-year food and water shelf life
            Description:
            The Tote-N’-Go Kit is perfect for those who are looking for excellent protection in a single-person, 72-hour compact kit. The kit contains an emergency blanket, a poncho, LED flashlight with batteries, emergency food and water rations, a survival whistle and multifunction knife.

            The bag easily fits into any vehicle, providing easy access to practical and useful survival products that will come in handy when a crisis strikes. The Tote-N-Go Kit comes assembled in a heavy-duty Cordura nylon bag that’s made to survive years of abuse.

            Editors Note: A version of this article first appeared in the 2013 print issue of American Survival Guide.
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              Best concealable body armor plates and tactical vest in the world

              By David Simpson

              Ever since mankind started attacking one another with pointy objects. man has also thought of ways to defend himself. One of those ways has been the use of personal body armor – whether ancient warriors clad in boiled leather, Samurai dressed in intricate lamellar armor, or medieval knights of old with their iconic plate armor and shields.

              The advent of firearms and ever more powerful ballistic performance outpaced the development of technologies for protective equipment that could be deployed in a practical manner. Flak jackets (those issued in the Korean and Vietnam wars were constructed of on) could help stop fragments and slower or smaller-caliber bullets, but were-not effective against typical fire-arm threats. Metal (steel) plates were required to provide more protection. The end result, not unlike an average teenage boy’s attempts to reach second base with his first sweetheart, was heavy. uncomfortable, sweaty, and awkward.

              Then in 1965, Stephanie Kwolek, a chemist at DuPont tasked with creating fibers for use in tires, invented a para-aramid synthetic fiber known as Kevlar – giving rise to the so-called bulletproof vests commonly seen today. And good old-fashioned steel has been supplanted with other materials and manufacturing processes to protect against more lethal threats.

              Critical to protect warfighters on today’s battlefield as well as law enforcement personnel on the streets at home. protective body armor also continues to spark the interest of civilians who might find themselves in harm’s way or wish to be prepared. While it’s fun to focus on shooting and putting rounds down-range, don’t neglect a good defense.

              Generally speaking, civilians may purchase and own protective body armor, as long as they aren’t felons. Committing crimes while wearing armor can also result in additional penalties. Note also that Connecticut’s laws require one to purchase body armor in-person from a local retailer; mail order sales aren’t allowed. Be sure to double check the regulations in your area. That being said, a number of armor manufacturers have policies restricting or prohibiting sales of their products to civilians, and companies and distributors have various requirements for customers to demonstrate their eligibility.

              Soft Versus Hard Armor

              There are two main types of body armor: soft and hard. Soft body armor is what many might envision when thinking of police officers – a vest made of flexible materials worn around your torso. Typically, there are inserts (front and back) made of the protective ballistic material, sealed against the elements and held inside of a carrier. 

              The inserts may also extend around the torso to provide side coverage. In some cases. both inserts and carrier are custom built to the end user’s exact measurements, providing maximum coverage and comfort. In others, they are available in various standard sizes (e.g. small, medium, large, etc). Custom armor is usually also available specifically for female users, modified to fit their body contours. Carriers may be designed to be worn under clothing

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                Best Air Rifle and Gun Review: A Survival Buying Guide

                By David Simpson

                There is an old saying: “A BB gun in the hand is worth two boxes of expensive ammunition.” OK, maybe we’re extrapolating a bit here, but nonetheless, it does hold some validity. A modern replica airgun, or high-quality airgun of any type, can be a valuable aid to maintaining your firearm skills during the times you just can’t get to the range (or can’t locate enough ammunition to make a trip worth your while).

                And, at least for the time being, they are less restricted in most jurisdictions, making them freely available to adults. Some in the firearms community might view these as merely toys. The truth is that airguns are much, much more. Aside from being an indispensable training tool in an era when ammo is either in short supply or wildly over- priced, airguns can provide many great benefits for a firearms owner.

                The benefits of air rifle and  air gun 

                1. Ammo Abundance: Unlike firearm cartridges (which are either AWOL or pricey as of press time), airgun ammunition is abundant. Airguns discussed in this article use .177-caliber steel BBs or lead pellets in .177 or .22. Truck over to any Wal-Mart or your local sporting goods store and, dollars to doughnuts, you’ll find plenty of all three types.
                  If you don’t live close to a brick-and-mortar storefront, a quick search on the Internet will yield a number of suppliers that would be more than happy to ship you some.
                  Pellets are normally packed in tins of either 250 or 500 and could run anywhere from $3 to $12. Steel BBs come in tubes, cartons, and plastic dispensers containing up to 6,000 BBs. You can expect to cough up anywhere from $2 or $3 up to $12 for these, as well.
                2. Wallet Friendly: The second benefit would be cost. While you could spend thousands on a custom big-bore capable of taking down a deer (no joke, there are airguns that can take large game at impressive distances), we are concentrating here on lower cost alternatives for maintaining your shooting skills.
                  You could easily get started for an investment well under $100, or you might spend several hundred depending on your needs and desires. For example, you could shop online for the Umarex Walther PPK blowback for about $70 and an AirForce TalonSS retailing for roughly $575.
                3. Ya Heard?: Another benefit is the relatively low power of some airguns and the general lack of a punishing sound signature; making it possible for you to set up a range in your basement or backyard as long as you provide a proper backstop. Hearing protection may not be required, but if firing indoors, some models can produce a fairly loud report. 
                  Some models (especially if they are imported from Europe) already have a threaded muzzle with an end cap to protect the threads. This means that if you jump through the hoops needed to acquire a suppressor, you can use the same one on your airgun and your powder burner.
                  Don’t want to
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                  The best POV and Action camera review for the money

                  By David Simpson

                  Besides evaluating your shooting technique, there are many other applications for action cameras; you can attach them to your car, truck, mountain bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, surfboard, skateboard-you name it! Give them a try; you’ll have a blast, and maybe learn a thing or two in the process.

                  Here, we’ll take a look at two of the most popular and well-known brands of POV cameras: GoPro and Contour. We’ll also look at Replay XD, an up-and-coming brand with roots in motorsports looking to make its name with a very small and lightweight camera.

                  GoPro

                  The market-leading GoPro action camera is a glistening little crystalline box-perched on your head. It makes you look even dorkier than you might already be. But that’s OK, because it’s how the video makes you look that matters! Here, the newest GoPro, the HD Hero2, delivers, with great image quality in the widest array of formats in our trial: 1080p, 960p. 720p, and 480p (1920 x 1080, 1280 x 960, 1280 x 720, and 848 x 480, respectively) and fields of view ranging from narrow (90 degrees) to wide (170 degrees).

                  Via Amazon.com

                  The high-resolution modes deliver image quality to match your fancy new HDTV, and the wide-angle modes capture a wider view on screen, though potentially at the expense of some fisheye distortion and making folks who get carsick easily a little queasy. Just choose a mode that fits the action: wide for close up with a lot of stuff going on around you, or narrow for things at varying distances that you want to be able to see in more detail. The HD Hero3, even offers a high frame rate (120 per second) in 480p to allow for superslow-motion video. Furthermore, this summer, GoPro is releasing a firmware update with even higher video quality (35 mbps) and 24 frames per second for professionals and future Ridley Scotts.

                  Audio is another important aspect of video production; onboard microphones on most any video camera don’t generally provide the best results, and these cameras are no exception. Encased in a full waterproof housing, the GoPros produce muffled audio. but if you are filming in conditions where you require complete weatherproofing, perhaps your viewers will cut you some slack. Install the skeleton back plate or the optional skeleton housing and the sound will be a little better.

                  If you get the HD Hero2, you can even plug in an external microphone for best results. GoPro cameras are known for being rugged, and each comes standard with the waterproof housing. Wearing the GoPro head strap mount might make you look and feel like Hannibal Lecter or like you’re going spelunking in a low-budget horror film, so perhaps don’t use it if there are any hotties at the range. It will, however, result in the most natural first-person camera angles, because the camera will be about as close as possible to your eyes. The mount works with hearing protection, is stable, and keeps the weight of the camera … Read the rest

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                    Best carbon fiber pocket knives reviews

                    By David Simpson

                    We tend to think of carbon fiber as a modern marvel that has allowed for amazing human accomplishments. But the truth is that it goes way back to the late 19th century — Thomas Edison baked cotton and bamboo to make carbon-fiber filaments for his light bulb prototypes. In 1958, physicist Roger Bacon officially invented the carbon fibers we know today by heating rayon strands until they carbonized.

                    What exactly are they? They’re made of teeny strands of carbon that are tightly woven and bound with a resin. Sometimes called graphite fibers, they’re super stiff and have a superior strength-to-weight ratio compared to steel while being resistant to corrosion, expansion, and temperature. Plus, they’re versatile because they can have various densities and take on shapes that are limited only by their manufacturer’s imagination. Oh, and their futuristic look might float your boat. But they’re not without their flaws. Under intense stress, carbon fibers can crack because they’re brittle.

                    Plus, they’re expensive to produce. Still, they’ve been used in everything from cars and spaceships to loudspeakers and rifle barrels. So, in this issue we take a stab at this Space Age material by looking at the pros and cons of having knives with carbon-fiber handles. Across the board, we found that they don’t offer any practical advantages over titanium as a knife scale, yet have the potential to be damaged more easily. Plus, they’re way more expensive than G-10.

                    On a positive note, they’re not as slippery as we expected — all the knives stayed in our grip even after being soaked in water. If you’re a knife nut and have the cash, you might find a model or two featured in this column that catches your eye. 

                    Benchmade Knife 484-1 Nakamura, Black Carbon Fiber Handle, Plain Edge Folding Blade

                    Benchmade 484-1 Nakamura Axis Thumb Stud Folding Knife

                    Via Amazon.com

                     

                    The 484-1 features a contoured carbon-fiber handle, a drop-point blade, and blue anodized-aluminum spacers and pivot bushing. Benchmade’s patented and ambi Axis lock keeps the blade’s opening and closing smooth and safe. Pocket clip is adjustable for lefties and righties. Made in the USA.

                    PROS:
                    Everything about it spells elegant. The premium S90V steel makes the blade fantastic for everyday carry (EDC). Lightweight, but still feels balanced. The handle fits perfectly in hand — whether with a hammer grip, saber grip, or Filipino grip.

                    CONS:
                    Abuse it enough, and the carbon fiber will scuff. Unless we start sh*tting Sacagawea coins every morning, we probably won’t EDC the 484-1 often for fear of damaging this investment.

                    Spyderco Rubicon Folding Knife, Orange, 3.04-Inch

                    Via Amazon.com

                    Say hello to the Bugatti Veyron of this buyer’s guide. The solid carbon-fiber scales have been polished to a high finish, the skeletonized titanium liners add strength to the liner-lock, and the S30V blade has a deep hollow grind on the primary bevel and flat-ground false edge to enhance blade geometry and versatility.
                    PROS:
                    This knife cuts like a laser. The handle is beautifully crafted and quite ergonomic. Both the trademarked thumb hole and the flipper tab

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