A guide to self reliant living






Tuning the Ruger Charger Pistol

Survival Reloading

Bug-out-Bag (BOB) Tips and Tricks 

Survival Reloading

Bug-out-Bag (BOB) Tips and Tricks 





1. Food

2. Manna

3. Water

4. Sanitation

5. Medical,

6. Kerosene heaters and cookers

7. Lighting

8. Wood
cooking and heating

9. Communi-cations

10. Essential

11. Home
built items

12. Electrical; generators
and power

13. War preparedness

14. Gardening


Miles Stair's SURVIVAL










Miles Stair's SURVIVAL





"When seconds count, the police are only minutes away."

Practice Makes Perfect!

New!  See the Survival Reloading page for information on reloading centerfire cartridge cases
in the new era of Obama-created ammo, component and equipment shortages of 2013.

New Page - Using Lyman 310 Tong Tools for Reloading

We are no longer naive. We will need to defend our homes, indeed our very lives, from now into the future. Only call 911 for an antidote for poison. The status quo is that the bad guys are there and gone before the police can even respond. All they can do is take information for the next of kin. Besides, the Supreme Court has already ruled that police have a duty to the community at large, not to any one individual. That's right - the police have "No Affirmative Duty to Protect" us, affirmed by many court decisions! When your home experiences an "home invasion," try defending yourself with your kid’s baseball bat against bad guys armed with AK-47's.

America is polarized with political opposites no longer able to compromise, with a huge influx of illegal aliens, etc. Throw in the possibility of a banking meltdown, trucker strike or wide-spread terrorist "events" creating food shortages, and civility can be quickly lost.  Assault by one side can only be met with bold defense – or subjugation – on the other side. The result? Anarchy. It will happen. And when it happens, will you be able to defend yourself?

PERSONAL DEFENSE IS NOT THE SAME AS HOME DEFENSE. Personal defense means always having the means to defend yourself available at all times.  The North American Arms mini revolver in .22 LR shown at right only weighs 4 ounces, but 5 rounds of hollow points are better than a sharp stick anytime!  Sure, a .45 auto is vastly superior to a .22 in battle, but personal defense often comes down to a knife versus a gun...and a gun wins every time, particularly if the handgun is readily available.  The excellent Multi-Purpose carry case can hold a mini .22 and some ammo in a belt case that does not appear to be a holster.  Available at my Survival Shop.


Pepper sprays and slingshots will work just fine to infuriate an enemy...might as well build a catapult and hurl your stored food, and when that runs out, fling them your wife and kids. So ultimately, we’re talking guns for home defense.

(NOTE: What I am going to say about firearms is for defensive use, not offensive use, and within the narrow view of Home Defense only - the purpose of this article. This is not to say that other weapons would not be very useful for other purposes, or that other weapons could not be used for Home Defense!  This narrow definition is being written for those who do NOT already own firearms, and only wish one (1) weapon for Home Defense only. Personally, I believe the more, the merrier.  The lowly .22 Long Rifle is incredibly useful for survival, as are the newer spring-powered air rifles that can attain 1000 fps in .17 caliber.  But "survival" is not the same as "defense.")

The primary object in home defense is to hit the target while avoiding such power and penetration that unintended victims are not hit. Obviously, if you are familiar with and have firearms, you are going to use what you have. But if you don’t have a firearm and are going to buy one (1) for home defense, I recommend a shotgun. But not just any shotgun. Most common shotguns are 12 gauge waterfowl guns with long, full choke barrels. They are unwieldy in confined spaces, more powerful than required, overly noisy in confined spaces, and "kick" too much for novice shooters.

A 12 gauge "riot" shotgun fired in a house produces an incredibly deafening blast!

Twelve gauge "riot" shotguns with folding stocks are a particular problem with the stock unfolded. The hard synthetic stock is straight or slightly raised toward the front, not sloped downward toward the action.  When the shotgun is fired, the shotgun raises in recoil, and the hard synthetic stock seems to jump straight up into your cheekbone with a teeth rattling jolt.  A softer cheek piece is needed, and it should be black or dark grey to match the stock and sturdy closed cell foam, so it will not hold water.  The answer?  Water pipe insulation tubing!  The tubing is 3/8" thick foam, so it is thin enough to allow the stock to fold in the normal manner, yet thick enough to provide some cushioning from the brutal recoil when used unfolded.

At left is a 4" long piece of 3/4" pipe insulation glued to the top of the folding butt stock using "Household Goop."  A channel was cut out of the round pipe insulation (as shown) for a good fit. The 3/8" insulation makes a soft cheek piece, the shotgun can be fired without the feeling your teeth are going to rattle loose, and the stock still folds up tight against the action.

As women and older children could be using this home defense shotgun, bulk, weight, recoil and noise are definitely factors to consider. Thus, a .410 bore shotgun is a great choice. A 3 inch .410 shot shell fires 3/4 ounce of shot at 1100 feet per second, resulting in approximately 800 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, and a 2 ½" .410 with ½ ounce of shot produces approximately 600 foot pounds at the muzzle. The delivered energy at the defense ranges considered here are greater than a .357 Magnum revolver cartridge, but the longer barrel and greater weight of the shotgun results in less than half the noise and recoil. More important, the shot pattern is about 8 inches in diameter at 20 feet (full choke), and does not generally penetrate a wall, whereas a .357 Mag bullet pierces walls easily...and unintended victims on the other side.

In the close confines of home defense, a small dot laser light has limited usefulness.  I mounted a 1" tube light with 8 super-bright LED's and a tail button switch.  In the dark, the LED light is more than enough...if the target is lit up, it will be hit. The nice wide, non-marring clamp is model #SMC-1100 from http://www.allenslaw.com/at.html .

(There are those who will claim that the lowly .410 shot shell is too underpowered, even less than a .357 Magnum revolver. They are making their judgment based on recoil - comparing a .357 Magnum revolver versus a .410 shotgun. Bad comparison, as a full length shotgun is heavier and held by two hands. I've got a .45 Colt/.410 derringer:  recoil with a 2 1/2" .410 is extremely heavy, far worse than with a .357 Magnum derringer, and stronger than with the .45 Colt; recoil with a full length 3" Magnum .410 shot shell is fearsome enough to make just hanging onto the derringer extremely difficult. That recoil is easily tamed by the weight and length of a .410 shotgun.)

Of course home defense means more than defense against two legged creature. In any breakdown of civilization, a weapon like a shotgun becomes critical. Pet dogs are abandoned, join in packs and quickly become feral. They can, and do, attack domestic animals, pets, and are even a danger to children. Raccoons can get into a chicken coop and kill a flock very quickly. Rabid dogs are not uncommon in a societal disaster. These must be dispatched quickly, yet they are a moving target and hard to hit. This is where a shotgun really shines, as the pattern of shot is easier to put on target than a single bullet fired by someone shaking under extreme anxiety and stress, and repeat shots are more likely to put additional pellets into the target zone. A .410 bore, 3" magnum with #4 pellets is up to the task -- at reasonable ranges. Don't think these are 100 yard range weapons!

Hunting for food may well be necessary in the future. Small birds such as quail can be taken with a 2 ½" .410, larger birds with a 3" magnum, and game up to deer (at fairly close ranges) taken with a .410 slug load.


One excellent .410 bore shotgun for home defense was actually designed specifically for that task...wonder of wonders. The Mossberg HS410 (the "HS" an acronym for "Home Security", model #50359) is a 6 shot pump action shotgun with an 18 ½" barrel having a spreader choke, ideal for close action shooting in home defense situations. The stock is synthetic and the right length of pull for women and older children (but still works with large men), the action extremely rugged and reliable, and the short length makes it very handy in confined spaces. The price? About $360.00 in 2005.  Discontinued, but well worth the effort to find a used one.

The Mossberg 500 Field .410 Pump-Action Shotgun can be found for about $250.00 and may be the best available pump .410 shotgun available at the price.  Mossberg shotguns are renowned for reliability.

Now there is another excellent .410 bore shotgun on the market which may well be as good as or better than the Mossberg HS410 - the SAIGA .410 SHOTGUN. The cost of the Saiga ranged from $400.00 to $585.00 in April, 2012.  It is an adaptation of the Kalashnikov designed AK-47 designed to fire .410 Magnum shot shells, has a semi-automatic action, and it comes with two magazines.  With its 19" barrel, it would be handy in confined places, and it also comes with two choke tubes, increasing its versatility. The rate of fire would be better than with the Mossberg, and reliability is reportedly extremely high, but as with everything there are other factors to consider:  A semi-auto action is less tolerant of loads than a slide action such as the Mossberg, so reloading for the Saiga requires more care and testing to be certain of reliable feeding.  More information on the Saiga .410 shotgun can be found online from dealers such as Bud's Gun Shop.

An additional .410 shotgun which some may want to consider is the Winchester lever action 9410, a variation of the venerable Winchester 94 lever action first introduced on January 1, 1895. In some variations, it holds 9 rounds of 2 1/2" shells in a very long tubular magazine, but the overall length is not conducive to easy handling in a home as compared with the overall length of either the Saiga or the Mossberg HS410.  The 9410 is not chambered for the 3" Magnum .410 shell.  Loading a tubular magazine is slower than simply changing magazines as with the Saiga, and it costs more than the Saiga.  Nevertheless, there are those who love lever actions and they do combine fast firing with sufficient weight to keep recoil very low. Saiga shotguns are imported by RWC Group LLC.  Your local dealer can order from RWC.

The Marlin Model 1895 Lever-Action .410 Shotgun was made for Cabela's and is only available from Cabela's.  The Marlin lever action .410 does not have a full length magazine and is chambered for 2 1/2" .410's, but it is still very useful.

NOTE:  The excellent SAIGA .410 is not currently available but should be imported again soon.  Eric Holder, the current Attorney General of the United States, apparently detests the 2nd Amendment.  Trying to apply new definitions to "sporting use," anti-American Holder, through his Just Us Department's control of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, etc,  directed the BATF to decide on how many, what type, etc of shotguns should be prohibited.  Holder was simply unfamiliar with existing law - which is certainly no surprise.  Anticipating Holder's actions, House Republicans snuck a provision into his 2012 appropriations bill prohibiting any such actions.

"A little noticed provision tucked into a large appropriations bill obviously flew under the radar of the “Brady Bunch” and the “Illegal Mayors.”

"The new law effectively kills ATF’s plan to stop tactical/military shotgun imports by way of abusing the “sporting purpose” requirement and their agency rulemaking powers.

"The “Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS) and Transportation/Housing/Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bills”, also known as the “Mini-Bus”, was passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Obama on November 18, 2011.

The new law reads as follows:

SEC. 541. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to deny, or fail to act on, an application for the importation of any model of shotgun if–

(1) all other requirements of law with respect to the proposed importation are met; and
(2) no application for the importation of such model of shotgun, in the same configuration, had been denied by the Attorney General prior to January 1, 2011, on the basis that the shotgun was not particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.

"This new law became necessary due to the ATF releasing on January 27, 2011, a “Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns.” The “Study” argued “military shotguns, or shotguns with common military features that are unsuitable for traditional shotgun sports” should be banned from import into the U.S.

"The ban would have applied to all shotguns including semi-autos, pump-actions, double barrels, etc. As part of the rulemaking process, comments from the public on the study were allowed to be submitted until May 1, 2011."

Read more at Ammoland.com: http://www.ammoland.com/2011/11/19/little-noticed-provision-kills-atf-shotgun-ban-plans/#ixzz1wbK5u4GC

It should not be long before SAIGA shotguns are again imported into the US.


One lonely .410 shotgun will not suffice as complete home defense against a determined band armed with 7.62 x 39 mm AK-47's. But that is not the issue here. Either the Mossberg HS410 or the Saiga .410 will provide deterrence against such attacks, and time is always on your side in any conflict: given resistance, most attackers will give up and go on to easier pickings. Against a lesser attack, either shotgun should be equal to the task at hand, and far better than nothing at all.

If you already have a good selection of home defense weapons, make sure you can reload for all of them. Ammo will make great barter stock in the future. My booklet, "Survival Reloading," includes reloading data for just about any cartridge (not shot shells) you would ever encounter, using hand tools or bench tools, and with only three different smokeless powders, so you can stockpile and be covered with whatever comes your way.

DON'T DO THIS! Respect your OWN privacy and keep off any government lists. Why invite trouble?


Saturday, May 09, 2009
WorldNetDaily Exclusive

Next step? No guns allowed for right-wing 'extremists'
Bill empowers attorney general to forbid firearms for those 'suspected dangerous'

By Drew Zahn
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

A new gun law being considered in Congress, if aligned with Department of Homeland Security memos labeling everyday Americans as potential "threats," could potentially deny firearms to pro-lifers, gun-rights advocates, tax protesters, animal rights activists, and a host of others - any already on the expansive DHS watch list for potential "extremism."

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has sponsored H.R. 2159, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009, which permits the attorney general to deny transfer of a firearm to any "known or suspected dangerous terrorist." The bill requires only that the potential firearm transferee is "appropriately suspected" of preparing for a terrorist act and that the attorney general "has a reasonable belief" that the gun might be used in connection with terrorism.

Gun rights advocates, however, object to the bill's language, arguing that it enables the federal government to suspend a person's Second Amendment rights without any trial or legal proof and only upon suspicion of being "dangerous."


Surprisingly, 3" .410 bore shot shells cost twice as much as the much larger and more common 12 gauge shotgun shells, being priced at over $10 per box of 25. For the purpose of home defense, one does not need to have an armory full of ammo, though. I would recommend at least four (4) boxes of 3" .410's and four (4) boxes of 2 ½" .410 shells at a minimum, all with #4 shot. Those who think ahead would also have a simple reloading kit for .410 and some reloading components as well.

Remember that I wrote above that one advantage of the .410 is a lack of penetration? That can also be a disadvantage if you don’t know where to aim. Number 4 shot is definitely not going to penetrate body armor, and many intruders now wear such readily available equipment. One advantage of a shotgun that can be used to offset that factor, however, is the very pattern that makes precise aiming not so critical: shoot at the face. It is unprotected, and even a visor won’t help much. At longer ranges even a few pellets in the cheeks will discourage a determined opponent, ‘cause it hurts, and they will know you are as intent on hurting them as much as they are intent on hurting you. Turnabout is fair play! "Aim" with a shotgun means looking down the barrel and seeing the front sight...there usually isn’t a rear sight. The target is placed on top of the sight for the pellet pattern to strike correctly on bird sized game. On larger game, such as a feral dog, aim at the bottom of the body and the shot pattern should be in the chest area. If shooting at longer ranges, remember that small sized shot lacks mass and being circular has a poor ballistic coefficient, so it drops about 8 inches from line of sight at about 50 yards, so aim a little higher on the target at longer ranges.



The great debate regarding handguns for self defense usually comes down to the subjective issue of "stopping power."  I used the word "subjective" deliberately.  There are those who cite military experiments (Gen. Hatcher) as "proving" that only .45 caliber handgun bullets as having acceptable stopping power usually do not mention that the bullets used were "hardball," non expanding round nose bullets conforming to the Geneva Convention guidelines.  A 185 grain, .452" round nose bullet fired from a 1911 Colt in .45 ACP does not "cut" a .45" hole in the "target," but rather punctures a .45" hole because of the round nose.  And in many cases that non expanding bullet has too much penetration for home defense, so it does not transfer all of its energy to the first "target."  Often there is sufficient penetration to go through a wall behind the first target and endanger an innocent. The trick, then, is to obtain at least .45" expansion with full transfer of deliverable energy within the body of the first "target," with no excessive penetration.

Sufficient "stopping power" for home defense can be obtained with a 0.357" bullet if it is properly chosen and reloaded to acceptable velocities.  The photo above shows the results of tests using a Speer .357" hollow base wadcutter - loaded backwards - with the full huge hollowpoint exposed.  At the extreme left above is a .38 S&W cartridge with a Speer 38 HBWC loaded backwards, and at right is a .38 Special with the same bullet.  The load was 3.0 grains of Red Dot, for a "real world" velocity of over 820 fps in a 3" barrel.  Recoil was extremely mild and the load is suitable even for old top-break .38 S&W's.

Bullet #1 was loaded with the hollow base down, as normal.  Penetration was far too great and there was no expansion.  This loading is unacceptable for home defense.

Bullet #2 was loaded backward, but the bullet hit solid bone.  There was no "fluid" to effect an opening of the hollow cavity, so the cavity collapsed and the bullet nose "self forged" into a spire point.  Expansion was to 0.625" with very sharp cutting edges, and penetration was not excessive.

Bullet #3 was loaded backward and fired into fluid with no solid object hit (a "gut shot").  Hydraulic effect in the hollow cavity resulted in expansion to 0.694", and penetration was 6".  The hydrostatic shock of this bullet is incredible, and there was full transfer of 200 ft. lbs of energy within 6" of bullet impact travel.

Bullet #4 was loaded backward and first hit soft tissue and fluid, then hit hard bone.  The hydraulic effect opened the hollow cavity which was then further expanded by contact with a hard object.  Expansion was to 0.800" with sharp cutting edges.  This is almost twice the diameter of a .45 ACP bullet - and the sharp edges combined with the rotational aspect imparted by the rifling had a cutting power not possible with a non expanding round nose 0.452" bullet at the same velocity.

Properly loaded, even an ancient top break .38 S&W has adequate "stopping power" for home defense.  "Properly loaded" includes overall cartridge length.  There is no ogive on the full-diameter hollow base wadcutter loaded backwards, but revolver chambers have a "step" in the forward portion of the cylinder for the bullet.  The bullets must be seated deeply enough to slightly enter the chamber fully without resistance.  As individual handguns have different specifications for chamber dimensions, the loaded cartridges must be tried in each chamber to obtain the correct seating depth.  That is why the seating depth of the bullets in the cartridges shown above is not the same.

Loaded into a .38 Special case to velocities exceeding 950 fps, expansion of the backwards-loaded hollow base wadcutter is spectacular, often resulting in considerable bullet fragmentation.  For home defense, however, the higher velocity is not needed, as it results in considerably higher recoil and noise, neither of which is desirable when fired from a small handgun fired in the confines of a closed room.

The lowly .22 LR rimfire for home defense.

Much maligned as a defensive weapon, the little .22 rimfire has done more damage to bad guys than perhaps all other calibers combined.  The .22 LR is a killer.  It is not a one-shot man-stopper.  Nevertheless there is much to recommend the .22. 

Ammo in .22 LR is so cheap that virtually anyone can practice frequently and become a reliable shot with either a .22 handgun or rifle.  Practice does make perfect.  Someone well acquainted with a .22 LR would undoubtedly have a better chance at actually hitting perps than someone who owned a cannon and rarely, if ever, fired a round through it.

Another aspect of home defense is that of "sound and fury" shooting.  Nobody likes to get shot at.  And no one would choose a single-shot .22 LR for home defense.  With a very reliable and inexpensive rifle like the Ruger Mini 14 and readily-available 25 round magazines, an incredible amount of lead can be sent downrange to keep anyone off balance and decide there were easier "pickings" elsewhere.  And if the perps did not retreat, a whole bunch of .222" diameter holes in a body is major disappointment to perps and does result in bad things happening to them.  One shot stopper?  No.  Five or more rounds quickly?  Not bad!  A typical 45 ACP bullet weighs 185 grains.  Five rounds of CCI Segmented Sub-Sonic bullets weigh 185 grains.

At left, a Ruger 10/22 in .22 LR with a 25 round magazine. 

The Ruger 10/22 Carbine has a slender barrel and a reputation by some for inaccuracy.  Fine.  It is not a target rifle.  At reasonable ranges, say under 100 yards, the 10/22 certainly has sufficient accuracy to justify a scope, and at man-sized targets it is then adequate to well over 100 yards.  Paper targets are small and they don't fight back.  To practice with the 10/22 for home defense any ammo can be used.  For home defense I prefer CCI Segmented Sub-Sonic ammo. To recover bullets for analysis, the target was taped to a large cardboard box and the box filled with tightly folded newspaper.  Look at the photo below:  the bullets all expanded and had sharp cutting edges...and 25 of those bullets can be fired as quickly as the rifle is aimed and the trigger pulled.  With three or four spare magazines, over a hundred rounds can be send downrange in a very short period of time.

On the right side of the photo is an illustration of just how well a 10/22 will do at a reasonable range - that lump is two bullets which fused together after going through the same hole in the target!

At left is a Walther P22 semi-auto .22 LR.  This one has the 5" barrel and an M-16 flash hider added.  This combination is fairly quiet, very accurate, and the muzzle flash when fired in a dark room is not blinding to the shooter, but is blinding to the perp at the other end.  The flash hider also conceals the caliber from the perp - they have no way of knowing if you are holding a .22 or a .45!  Add a couple of spare magazines and 21 rounds can go downrange very quickly.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Quiet, inexpensive practice is necessary to attain proficiency with handguns and rifles. And that brings up pellet firearms.  It is not necessary to have the exact configuration of rifle or handgun used for home defense.  What matters is practice with hold, trigger control and sight picture.

For air rifles, few are better than the RWS Model 34.  It is expensive but so well built it will last a lifetime or two - and they are superbly accurate.  Less expensive air rifles can also be used.  The Benjamin NitroPiston is an accurate air rifle AFTER breakin of at least 300 rounds fired, but they are very large and heavy.  These days there are many good spring air rifles that will work very well for practice, and spring-air models are the most compact and easier to cock than the 34 ft lbs required with the Benjamin NitroPiston.

The best pellet pistol I have ever used is the Daisy Avanti Powerline 747.  They are superbly accurate with excellent sights and a marvelous trigger.  The Avanti 747 is a pneumatic, not a spring air design, and very easy to cock and shoot.

The one disadvantage to the Daisy Avanti Powerline 747 is the lack of a suitable holster being commercially available.  I made one using the material from a very inexpensive East German day pack. 

Links to more information:






Site Index