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Mel Tappan’s Personal Survival Letter # 18

Issue No. 18

Gadgets vs. Skills


By C.G. Cobb

Editor’s Note: In Survival Guns Mel wrote about the symbiotic relationship between tools and skill: “Although
neither is a perfect replacement for the other, the right tools compensate to some degree for lack of skill, and skill
may partially substitute for the lack of tools; and while it is obviously better to have plenty of both, tools can be
acquired more quickly, in greater abundance and with less effort than skill. Further, having the right tools often
helps you to develop certain skills better than improvising does.”

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of survivalists and I’ve been appalled and saddened by the way
in which they’ve misconstrued these remarks. It sometimes seems to me that interest in survival is just an excuse for
these people to fulfill every Walter Mitty fantasy they’ve ever had by purchasing an inordinate number of what Mel
used to call “boy toys”, which they then pitch in a closet and forget.

The following article by Chris Cobb appeared on my desk after I had spent a particularly depressing evening at a
local Town Hall meeting in which 80% of the people present were hawking so-called “survival wares” and serious
discussion of the whys and realities of survival planning was lost among their clamor.

For this reason -because I think that many of us have lost sight of the hard realities of survival planning- I decided
to run Chris’ article, even though it does not offer the kind of nuts and bolts information that we usually present.
Chris is a freelance writer and survivalist, and can be reached at 213-820-8767. N. T.

I recently saw a man with a Ruger single-action Blackhawk place more hits into a target -and in less time- than two
other men firing double-action with Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolvers. Does this mean that a single-action
hogleg is a better combat weapon than a properly honed Smith? No.

What I’ve just reported to you is an instance of superior skill prevailing over superior numbers and equipment. This
isn’t at all unusual. It happens all the time. Especially -and unfortunately- where survivalists are concerned.
Survivalists seem to be divided into two distinct groups. The largest is made up of people I call gadgeteers. Survival
preparations for a gadgeteer usually consist of making shopping lists, acquiring needed goods, and stashing them.
Period. These people are inventory-takers. They are dabblers in survivalism. And they are kidding themselves.
There is a strong probability that they are wasting their money.

The other, smaller group contains men and women who are serious about their survival. I’ve noticed that their
inventories are usually smaller than that of the average gadgeteer. I’ve also found that the level of skill among
serious survivalists is always measurably greater than that found in the ranks of the inventory-takers. ​Always.​ In the
event of extreme Bad Times, which group do you think will suffer the lowest mortality rate?

Imagine a contest to the death between two individuals who are in the same part of the forest. One of them carries
an HK- 91 with folding stock, bipod, and ten loaded magazines. He is wearing camouflage fatigues, jungle boots,
and Alice gear. He’s sighted in the HK at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards, but has done little else with it. He has a
manual describing the maintenance and proper use of his Alice equipment, which he’s glanced through once or
twice. Yes, this one is the gadgeteer.

The other man wears a beat-up corduroy jacket, well-broken-in Redwing boots, and a battered hat. His rifle is a
sporter, a Savage Model 99 in .358 Winchester. This man owns no combat equipment whatsoever, but he is an
experienced still-hunter of the highest order.

One of those men is going to walk out of that section of forest with both weapons and all the ammo. Which one do
you suppose will accomplish that feat? If you can find someone to bet on the gadgeteer, you’ll take his money
away.

This subject has already been explored by various people, but the horse I’m pounding isn’t anywhere near being
deceased. When Jeff Cooper tells you that he can defend himself adequately with a Model 94, I suggest you listen.
The message is that skill will carry the day, especially when combined with certain attitudes and attributes, and that
message is of primary importance to anyone planning to survive what lies just around the corner.

Given skill and proper attitude, improvisation can work. Given the lack of skill, the most painstaking acquisition of
equipment becomes meaningless. If you are a gadgeteer, be advised that you could be amassing goods which
someone else might well be using during Bad Times. That someone else will certainly appreciate the care you took
in assembling your inventory for him. He might even thank you.

I know a man who took Jeff Cooper’s basic combat handgun course from the American Pistol Institute at Paulden,
Arizona, a bit over three years ago. He’s had his .45 auto pistol customized to his specifications and has since
acquired one or two more. Over the intervening three years, I’ve seen him practicing on the firing range.
His “practice” consists of going through certain of the drills taught him at API, such as firing two rounds each into
targets set up side-by-side seven yards away.

His idea of competition is to run through this drill with another person, measuring center-to-center in the two-shot
patterns to see who “won”. I have never seen him practice weak-hand drawing and firing, or firing while running,
or firing from kneeling, sitting, or prone positions.

I have never seen him use barricades, choose between multiple targets of varying size and distance, or walk through
anything resembling a combat course. He has not joined or taken part in a combat pistol league. His speed has not
improved over the years -and, in fact, has decreased- which leads me to believe that he seldom, if ever, practices the
firing stroke in the privacy of his home. He has spent a lot of money and expended a few thousand rounds of
ammunition, but he is definitely not dangerous with a handgun except to someone as unskilled as he is, or to
himself.

This man, as you might suspect, is a gadgeteer, an inventory-taker. He’s a successful businessman and is quite
well-to-do. He can afford to accumulate a large stockpile of survival-related equipment and supplies. He has told
me many tunes that he is a survivalist, and that he is taking great pains to insure his own survival in the event of
Bad Times.

I know another man who has completed Cooper’s handgun course, and who has applied what he learned there ever
since, who is finding new ways to use his knowledge constantly, who is still growing in skill and confidence, who
makes sure he stays well-honed and alert, and who acts as though his API experience were a means to an end, and
that getting to that end is strictly up to him. This man has a rather limited income for the work that he does; he can
barely afford his ammunition, but he finds ways. It’s a pleasure to watch him run a combat course.

And the combat courses he sets up are grueling, nerve-wracking, ingenious, inventive, fun, and damned tough. No
gadget-happy inventory-takers need apply. This man is a police officer, which in itself has no bearing on his
attitude- but the fact that he is a street cop instead of an administrator may have something to do with it. Oh, yes,
he’s a survivalist, but he seldom brags or gives lectures about it; he doesn’t have to.

I once invited the first man to go hunting with me. He replied that he didn’t have the time. Knowing that he
possesses a large battery of hunting weapons, as well as combat pieces, I suggested that the practice and the
experience might do him some good. He disagreed, ​saying that he intends to pay someone else to do his hunting for
him​, should the need for it ever arise.

I fully understand that many survivalists are business or professional people with comfortable incomes, heavy
schedules, and deeply ingrained habits of delegating duties to others. I further understand that these habits are
difficult to break. I submit that personal survival ​requires that these habits be broken, at least insofar as
survival-related activities are concerned.
From paying someone to do your hunting for you, it’s only a short -and perhaps inevitable- step to paying someone
else to defend your life, to risk his own life for you. I put it to you that no serious survivalist will even consider that
position, because the return simply isn’t worth it. During Bad Times, the skill of issuing directives will become
distinctly secondary to certain other skills, no matter how much money -which may be worthless, then, anyway- is
involved.

Self-sufficiency is the handle on the bag of survival. To be in a state of dependence during Bad Times is tantamount
to having made no preparations at all, if that dependence is deliberately self-imposed. It doesn’t matter if you’re
buying or selling dependence; the effect is still the same. Carry your own bag. If you don’t, any hired flunkies you
pay to keep the wolves away from your door may well decide that you’re unnecessary.

To put it another way, anyone you hire to live your life for you might decide literally to do just that, and you could
be relieved of the tedious burden of breathing. People do tend to trust equals, and to work with them. Conversely,
an incompetent leader will be detected at once and perceived (correctly) to be a threat. It doesn’t matter how
efficacious that leader may be in his chosen field. Place the head of General Motors in charge of a functioning
combat unit in a battle zone, and the chances are excellent that he’ll turn up in a body count sometime soon, no
matter how deeply he ordered someone else to dig his bunker for him.

If you think I’m telling you that your life depends on you doing your homework, you’re right. It isn’t enough to nod
sagely when Jeff Cooper says that owning a complete survival battery doesn’t make you an expert marksman any
more than owning a piano makes you a musician. It isn’t enough to grasp what Bill Pier is saying when he tells you
that you have to ​use those freeze-dried foods on a regular basis to make their purchase worth the price. It isn’t
enough to fill your garage with enough tools to stock a machine shop, if you don’t take those tools out of their
plastic wrappings and use them.

It isn’t enough to pay someone to go out and buy you the components for Rick Fines’ on-board tool kit, Mel
Tappan’s portable reloading outfit, J.B. Wood’s basic gunsmithing tools, or C.G. Cobb’s bug-out kit- not if you
intend simply to add them to your inventory and forget about them.

If you are the type of person who thinks that sending your secretary out with a shopping list is sufficient for your
survival preparations, then events will change your mind very quickly. You will be faced with massive OJT which,
under the pressures which will ensue, you will probably not be able to handle.

I have seen this self-destructive attitude in more survivalists than I’d care to count. It is not the exception, it is the
rule. Right now, this state of affairs is merely sad. In the event of Bad Times, I think it will be tragic, especially
because it’s unnecessary.
If you have time to watch television for two hours a night, you have time to stay on top of your sight alignment and
trigger control. You have time to practice your firing stroke. You have time to work up handloads which are right
for you. You have time to take a welding class. You have time to grind grain and chop firewood.

You have time to learn unarmed defense. You have time to tune your vehicle, inspect and service the battery,
change the oil and filters, lubricate the chassis, tighten any bolts which may have loosened, check belts and hoses
for wear and replace them when needed, and keep your engine clean.

You have time to teach your family such things as sight picture, firing positions, and Breathe-Aim-Squeeze. You
have time to show them what immediate action is, assembly-disassembly drills, and how to reload magazines from
stripper clips. You have time to study and practice first-aid and paramedic procedures. You have time to study
carpentry, plumbing, and masonry.

You have time to listen to your police scanner and to become conversant with police and fire codes. You have time
to listen to English-language broadcasts from other countries on your general-coverage receiver. You have time to
listen to CB chatter and pick up the lingo. You have time to think, time to plan, time to discuss, time to get your
family on your side and functioning as a unit. Unless, of course, you consider TV more important.

If you have time to play 18 holes of golf each weekend, you have time to construct a vertical-axis wind generator
from 55-gallon drums, and to use it in recharging the batteries which you may have rigged up to power your
refrigerator, or the heater in your waterbed, in case the electric power fails.

You have time to visit flea markets, rummage sales, swap meets, and learn how trading and dickering are done.
You have time to organize a food co-op or to participate in one. You have time to organize or participate in a barter
club for goods and services, to give you some idea of how those trade goods you’ve piled up can be spent wisely.

You have time to participate in a combat pistol league, or to take part in silhouette handgun shooting, or to spend
enough time on the firing range to teach yourself to judge distances and to compensate for bullet drop without
having to depend on gadgets built into expensive telescopic sights on your rifles. You have time to get into
backpacking, camping, orienteering, and map reading. You have time to explore the countryside around your home.

You have time to dig a garden. You have time to go foraging and learn to identify plants and animals. You have
time to take your neighbor shooting, since he had time to show you basic auto mechanics on several past weekends.
You have time to be together with your family and your neighbors, to sharpen those skills which you should be
learning. Unless, of course, social and business pressures are enough to keep you on that golf course.

If you have time to go to Hawaii for two weeks each year, you have time to hunt elk, moose, deer, bear, coyote,
wild pig, pheasant, squirrel, duck, geese, dove, and quail. You have time to augur a well, build a fence, burn out
stumps, remove boulders, dig a foundation, build a greenhouse, or take your pickup and chain saw into the woods
and cut enough fuel to last you through a hard winter.
You have time to attend seminars on raising homestead animals, building and using methane converters,
hydroponic farming methods, rammed earth construction, and the making and using of adobe blocks. Unless, of
course, you think that the pleasures of Maui and Waikiki are more significant.

Survival comes down to commitment. Shopping lists and inventories by themselves are inadequate to insure your
survival, and the mentality of the gadgeteer is dangerous and deceptive. You are far better off spending more time
than money on your survival preparations, because the resulting experience will be of infinitely more value to you
at nitty-gritty time.

You may be supremely confident of your ability to make money anywhere, anytime, and under any circumstances,
but making money and surviving Bad Times are only distant relatives. The idea is to change yourself, improve
yourself, harden and sharpen yourself, so that emergencies will prompt efficient, aggressive behavior from you,
rather than cowering, curling up, and calling for help.

There’s this ancient story involving the great Jack Dempsey, which I can’t resist sharing with you. The episode is a
myth, but the truth in the story captures the essence of the man, his degrees of skill and confidence, his raw
courage, and his blatant readiness for literally anything.

In the ring, just before the opening bell:

“Doc” Kearns: “Jack, the other guy changed his mind. Instead of gloves, he wants to fight with double-bitted axes.”
Dempsey: “Right. Gimme one and get outa the way.”

Friends, our survival preparations may seem, at times, like some kind of competition, a game involving bottom
lines, floor space, and head-counts. Be assured that it’s much more intricate than that. Good preparations require
more than the spending of money, although spending money for survival is certainly unavoidable. When Bad Times
come, the real survivors won’t be hiding behind their piles of canned foods, ammunition, and spare parts. They’ll be
grinning confidently at one another through the slowly settling dust.

Survival Wheels
by Rick Fines

Tires (​continued from PS Letter No. 17)​

The next subject involves a giant step backwards. If your machine is a ¾-ton or larger truck, it will likely be
equipped with split-rim wheels. Tires mounted on split rims require tubes. If your vehicle is a Jeep or under ¾-ton,
it will carry one-piece wheels and tubeless tires. I would strongly suggest operating a survival vehicle with tubes
installed. It’s not at all unusual to bash a rock in off-road operations. As we should anticipate, survival driving will
become more and more like off-road driving as time goes on and roads are not maintained.
Thumping a steel wheel against a rock may very well dent the rim to the point that the bead seal is damaged. The
result will be a flat tire which will not hold air again unless the rim is put right. A steel wheel can often be
straightened to the point of being useful with the application of a large hammer and some appropriate cursing, but a
tire equipped with a tube is far more tolerant of rim damage than the tubeless type.

Tubeless tires came about in the post-WWII period, when it was important to design tires to run at higher speeds
than had been common before. Eliminating the tube reduced weight, and permitted the tire to run much cooler than
the older, heavier tires with tubes. High-speed running is of little importance in a survival context, but ultimate
durability is. Most tubeless tires may be fitted with tubes, and the result is one more line of defense between riding
and walking.

Tread patterns for survival use are a bit easier to choose than might be imagined. Just as the doughnut tires are best
left to the gadgeteers, so are the extreme tread patterns. For use in dry, warm climates, stay with ordinary street
treads. For operations in other areas, mount a standard mud/snow design on all four wheels.

If the going is slick or sticky enough that the rear wheels start to slide around, the more positive steering response
provided by better traction on the front end is worth having. In the event of failure of one or more tires, there is no
question of having optimum traction on the drive axle if all the tires are mud/snow pattern.

The disadvantages of mud/snow treads are shorter highway life and higher noise level. Neither are of much
consequence in survival applications.

For operations in very soft or sandy terrain, lowering tire pressures to 10-15 psi all around will provide a larger
“footprint” on the ground and give much the same effect as oversize tires, but with none of the permanent
afflictions associated with them.

Remember to inflate back to normal pressure before doing any high-speed driving on normal surfaces. Failure to do
so will result in tremendous heat generated in the tires and likely tire failure. (Remember the tire pressure gauge we
mentioned earlier? It’s mandatory- not just a cute toy to have.)

Always remember to pay as much attention to spare tires as to those on the road. While it’s so obvious it should not
have to be said, a flat spare is of little use. Always carry at least two spare tires. Despite all the commercials
featuring otherwise intelligent people drilling holes in tires and driving over nails, the fact remains that tires still go
flat. Since they seldom do so at convenient times, it’s more than just wise to carry more than one spare.

In the event that it is necessary to run on a flat, some precautions can still keep you in your seat and off your feet. If
the flat is on the front, shift it to the rear and get good rubber on the steer axle. Steering effort necessary to deal with
a flat up front is more than most of us can handle.
Depending on the sort of tire and rim you are running, as well as some other variables, you may get about five miles
down the road before the flat tire peels off the rim. Before it parts company, your biggest worry is fire.

The flat tire generates a tremendous amount of heat- more than enough to combust spontaneously. If you allow
your speed to go much higher than a walk, you may have a fire on your hands that you can’t put out. You could lose
the vehicle. Stay slow and easy, and the tire will flip off the rim with no more trouble.

After the tire is gone and you are on the rim, you can count on only a few more miles. Traction will be lousy and
ground clearance impaired. After the wheel flexes for the last time and joins the tire along the side of the road, the
next step is disintegration of the brake drum; then get ready to stay put. Better you carry two spares.

All the spare tires and wheels in the world will do you no good if you can not manage to remove a flat tire from
your vehicle. That is exactly the risk you run if the wheels on your machine were attached at a tire dealer’s shop,
and the lug nuts were tightened with an air-impact wrench. Most dealers and mechanics run their wrenches on
maximum torque settings because other dealers and mechanics do so.

It’s simpler and a bit quicker to operate in that fashion. However, you might find that your original equipment lousy
lug wrench is incapable of removing lug nuts that have been tightened with impact tools set to maximum torque.
The remedy is to replace the cheap throwaway lug wrench that came with your vehicle with a proper extension,
socket and breaker bar to do the job. Keep that special bar and socket separate from your general tool inventory,
just as you maintain your present issue tire tool.

Tire repair equipment is very simple for minor tubeless tire puncture flats. Obviously, you need to be able to find
the foreign object and extract it. Otherwise, soapy water applied to the tire will produce bubbles where the air is
escaping. If no soapy water is available, beer or soft drinks work better than plain water. A very inexpensive tool
which looks much like a screwdriver is available which is used to shove a chunk of rubber plug into the wound.
When the tool is withdrawn, most small punctures are sealed.

For flats involving more than simple punctures, or flats involving tube-type tires, it is necessary to dismount the tire
and patch the tube, and/or “boot” the tire. Breaking a tire loose from the bead normally requires the use of a tool
called a bead breaker. If you do not have one, a very effective method is to place the mounted tire in front of your
vehicle and slowly drive over it.

This procedure should be done on a dirt surface rather than concrete, to prevent damage to the wheel. The tire will
usually pop loose with no problem at all. Use of a sledgehammer on the juncture of tire and wheel is another
time-honored shade-tree method of bead breaking. The usual result is a damaged wheel and a tire still firmly
attached to the rim.
Tire mounting and repair without power tools is the sort of activity which appeals to masochists and those who like
to swear a lot. I would like to suggest that you plan on repairing and mounting tires at your retreat site- not on the
go. The stress imposed by being stopped in the middle of a trip is enough, without the additional hassle of wrestling
with tires and rims.

Wheel balance is of importance in survival operations, just as in normal operating conditions. Sad to say, under
severe operating conditions, tires will not stay balanced as long as when operating on smooth roads. When wheels
are balanced, do not settle for the typical gas station “bubble” balance.

More correctly described as static balance, the bubble balance is used in shops which cannot afford the more
expensive dynamic, or spin, balancing equipment. Bubble balancing is better than nothing, but not much.

For tires maintained in storage, the best policy is to have them mounted on rims, inflate them to operating pressure,
then have them spin balanced. Before putting them back in storage, deflate them to 5-10 psi. As at least partial
consolation for the fact that tires will not stay precisely balanced for any great length of time in rough running,
remember that balance is not nearly as critical at the low speeds at which we will likely operate.

The number of tires you elect to store for survival use is dependent on a number of variables. In very simple terms,
the more the better. Once they are worn out, or have failed, they are not at all repairable. If your machine uses an
odd size of some sort -which we do not recommend- you should stock more than if your vehicle uses a standard
size.

If your retreat site is located in a desert area where rock damage to tires and rims is likely, your stock should be
larger than usual. The bulk does not amount to much, but the cost of buying a pile of tires can get to be a problem.
In the circumstances under which we are likely to operate, I would suggest that you would be better served with
three sets of off-road recaps, or even five sets of 50% tread used tires than with one set of Michelin’s finest.

If you elect to buy recaps in the larger truck tire sizes, I would suggest you look up the nearest Bandag dealer. The
term Bandag is a brand name and refers to a patented “cold” recapping process that is far superior to the hot
capping method. The price is only slightly higher, but well worth it. In passenger car and light truck tires, go with
recaps from a reputable dealer and hope for the best.

Storage conditions for tires can range from outside in the rain to a heated, humidity-controlled warehouse. Avoid
the former, but the latter is not at all necessary. The two biggest enemies of tires are sunlight and air. Keep tires,
preferably mounted, lightly inflated in a clean, dry, dark place. Keep them off the floor if possible to avoid their
taking a set on one side. Ideally, wrap them in burlap or heavy paper. Install new valve stems or valve cores in
tubes, and make certain that the valves are capped.
The question of how long tires might last is very much an open one. In the latter part of the 1960’s, a quantity of
used (very) 9:00x16 non-directional military tires came my way. Since I owned several trucks they fit, and the tires
were free, they found a ready home. Most of them were dated, and the newest one first saw the light of day in 1945.
Since one of the more charitable things I have been called is cheap, the old rubber all got used, generally under
severe conditions in the Mojave Desert.

Had they been in good condition to begin with, and had been stored with some degree of care -note that they were
in poor condition and badly stored- they would have been hard to tell from tires of recent vintage. None of the
antique tires had a chance to wear out- all failed due to rock damage that would have been just as fatal to new tires.

As you inventory tires, lay in a supply of tubes and patching supplies. Neither amount to much of an investment,
and will greatly extend the life of your inventory. If you are serious about tools, and have the space, a bubble
balancer is a good investment, and will cost less than a decent hunting rifle.

The next item to consider carefully is shock absorbers. Shocks are a bit like old age in that their infirmity comes on
slowly. Unlike light bulbs which announce their demise with unmistakable certainty, shocks fade away very slowly.
Operating a vehicle over rough terrain with bad shocks is about the worst possible thing you can inflict upon it.

Every part of the machine will wear out very rapidly, right up to and including the frame. Some of the time-honored
methods of “testing” shock absorbers are entertaining, but not very informative. Bouncing up and down on the front
bumper, then leaping off to see if the vehicle stops shaking at once is great exercise, but tells little about the shocks.
Taking a dismounted shock in your hands and stretching it to the limits of its travel in each direction -while looking
at it sagely- is also fun for some, but equally a waste of time.

The only way to judge shocks is to know how long they have been on the vehicle. If the machine is used for smooth
highway driving, any shock which has been in place over 20,000 miles is more than suspect. In severe operating
conditions, 3,000 miles might be stretching a point. I really don’t care if Joey Chitwood’s stunt team couldn’t wear
them out in a whole season, or if Santa had them mounted on his sleigh when he ran the Baja; keep track of how
long they have been on your vehicle and replace them as necessary.

Shocks do have one thing in common with light bulbs in that when they go south, you cannot fix them. In terms of
how many you stock, the same advice holds true as with tires. The more the better, but specific conditions will give
you a better idea. The brand you buy is not all that important. Monroe, Gabriel, or Delco all market a good product.
Buy the best they have to offer, leave them in the box and store them with your tires.
Sears and Wards also sell good shocks, but I would stay away from discount store specials. It’s also not necessary
to buy shocks with a neat European name simply because you have the money. I would greatly prefer a new set of
what Sears had on sale last week to a set of Konis that wore out last year. Another thing to avoid is air shocks. They
are a popular item for no reason that I have ever been able to figure out. They seem to offer nothing that regular
shocks and correct suspension can’t do better. I have yet to see a set that did not leak.

The next item to consider is ball joints and tie rod ends. Remember the last time you drove a brand new car? That
pleasant, tight feeling the car had was a result of new tires, new shocks, and new front-end moving parts. The same
feeling can be duplicated in most any old car for less than one monthly payment on a new one.

The same people who test shocks by jumping up and down on the front bumper also have a way to check the
condition of front-end parts. They crawl under the vehicle, try to wiggle various components with their hands,
then conclude that the front-end is in good shape. If something is hanging on by a hair, and is otherwise ready to
fall into the street, it may be possible to detect with bare hands. Otherwise, all the crawling is a waste.

Wear in these components is measured in thousandths of inch, and is a matter of accumulation in the suspension
system. For example, if both upper and lower ball joints are worn to their limits, as are the tie rod ends, the feeling
of the steering wheel in your hands will be less than precise.

It will be difficult to hold wheel alignment, and tire life will be reduced. Fortunately, if tires are kept in some
reasonable state of balance and shocks are maintained in good order, the rest of the front end will hang together for
quite a long time with little attention from you.

One thing you can do to help each part is to have grease fittings installed every place you possibly can. Despite the
claims by manufacturers that their sealed parts are good “forever”, most cab fleet operators still install Zerk fittings
and keep everything greased. You should do the same.

Springs are another critical component of the suspension system that requires more knowledge than real attention,
once they are properly in place. Every suspension system is a compromise between ride, handling, and load
carrying ability. At one extreme is the tooth-rattling springing of a dump truck, and at the other, the mushy,
marshmallow ride of a late-‘50’s Cadillac.

For our purposes, we must consider what is most appropriate on new machines, as well as other equipment which is
being “zero-timed”. On the new machine, simply specify the suspension package outlined for trailer towing, or
order the springs which are compatible with the manufacturer’s highest gross vehicle weight for the machine you
are buying.
If you are in the midst of a rebuild and are having existing springs rebuilt, I would suggest that you have one long
and one intermediate leaf added to front leaf springs, and one long leaf added to rears. It’s quite common to overdue
the matter of adding leaves and beefing up springs to the point that the ride is so harsh that more harm than good is
accomplished. If in doubt, or if you think you might have overdone it, do not hesitate to remove a leaf or so.

Tires and suspension components are actually more likely to cripple a survival machine than outright engine failure.
If you have technical questions we have not answered, remember to go for original source material- the
manufacturer’s shop manual or owner’s manual. Leave the shade-tree advice where it belongs.

Tips on Using Your Communications Receiver


by Grant Manning

Last month we discussed the various communications receivers suitable for the survivalist, but failed to mention
that none of this equipment will be of any value to you unless you understand how to use it. This statement sounds
obvious but the truth is that knobs and dials issue a siren’s call to many, who can’t wait to begin fiddling and
twirling and then, when they fail to bring in the station they want, blame the radio and the person who
recommended it.

In fact, the only person they should blame is themselves for not reading the instruction manual thoroughly before
they started playing with their set. Gain an understanding of your equipment now, for you will not have that luxury
during a crisis nor will you be able to call someone on the phone and ask him how to find 5950 kHz.

I also recommend that you “burn in” any electronics equipment that you buy. By this I mean that you run it for an
hour or so every day for a month. You can’t store a radio and expect it to work when you need it, Use it once in
awhile in order to keep moisture out and to keep the electrolytic capacitors that are in all transistorized equipment
in good condition. If you burn in your set, whatever is going to go wrong will probably do so within a month. After
that, run it for a couple of hours each month and you should be able to depend on it.

Unless you are a fairly good technician, and your retreat has a good selection of test gear, you will ​not be able to
effect on-site repair other than changing a fuse and running some continuity checks. You may want to have some
simple equipment such as an inexpensive VOM (volt-ohm-meter), the tools necessary to get your radio apart, the
service manual (you may not be able to repair it yourself, but you may have access to someone who can), some
extra fuses, and possibly a replacement “front end” FET or field effect transistor (the RF transistor in the first stage
of the radio), which will occasionally fail due to lightning or other electrical disturbances.

In order to get the optimum performance from your set, you are going to need a few accessories, the most important
being an antenna. If you have the money and want to sprout a large antenna farm on your place (and thereby raise a
few inquisitive eyebrows in your neighborhood); you will get the very best reception with a general coverage
antenna.
For survival purposes, however, “long wire”, “dipole” antennas, or the new “active” ones, properly installed, will
do nicely. Interestingly, you can make horrendous compromises with receiving antennas but not with those to be
used for transmitting.

Briefly, a long wire antenna is just that: a long wire running from a tree, post, etc. (about 50-100 feet including the
lead in) to the receiver and installed as high as possible. Reduced antenna height means reduced results. The wire
should have insulators at each end and be insulated from everything else going to the receiver. I like No. 18
stranded, insulated wire because it holds up well and can be stored until needed. The long wire will give you good
bandwidth and is simple to install and maintain.

A dipole antenna is a center-fed antenna (usually fed with a coax) cut for maximum performance on a specific
band. Most antennas are really several dipoles cut for different frequencies but used on one feedline. You can use
the dipole for transmitting on the bands it’s cut for and for receiving purposes on all bands (obviously, it’s receiving
quality will be best on those frequencies that it’s designed to match).

A dipole is directional and, if cut in a “V”, becomes even more so. Like the long wire, it should be installed as high
as possible using appropriate insulators. For design ideas, see the American Radio Relay League ​Antenna
Handbook.​ If you think that you may want to get into ham transmission, this is the cheapest and least obtrusive
antenna that you could have.

If you are interested in receiving antennas only, my choice would be one of the new “active” antennas. They are
small, easy to install and maintain, and are designed to receive over a wide frequency spectrum with equal
sensitivity. When buying one, look for a good signal to noise ratio and be certain that it can be powered from DC.

Among the active antennas currently available, the KRS is my favorite; it is full-spectrum active, sensitive from
200 kHz to 50 MHz and works by impedance matching via an FET, a small whip antenna, to a broad band CATV
transistor in a separate enclosure. The DC power for the FET is fed to the antenna head by the same feedline used
for the RF (radio frequency). The KRS is carefully designed not to have gain, but to receive equally well over a
very​ wide bandwidth. (Price: $115)

Before leaving antennas, I should mention that all sets have some antenna re-radiation, which means that they
“leak” RF energy to their antenna and are transmitters at some frequency. While this may not sound ominous, it
will allow anyone with good ECM (electronic countermeasures) gear to find you -wherever you may be- if you are
not aware enough to shut off your radio when you see a plane or vehicle that has “that look”.
Unless there have been some technological breakthroughs recently, ECM equipment is fairly large and, for that
reason, is usually housed in a plane or large van.

In addition to an antenna, there are three other accessories that, while not mandatory, are nice to have. A 24-hour
clock on your set is a convenience that makes locating stations easier, but bear in mind that all shortwave
broadcasts are done on GMT. To translate your local time into GMT, determine the time difference between your
time zone and the GMT broadcast over WWV and add the required hours to your local time: for example, 8AM
PST is 1600 GMT.

When you want to listen without disturbing anyone around you, a good pair of headphones is necessary. They need
not be expensive, but try before you buy, for they should provide clean sound without causing ear fatigue. The new
Yaesu’s are excellent and much smaller than the behemoths of the past ($16).

A preselector completes the list of accessories that enhance the quality of your receiving. It is used to amplify
marginal signals. Because it is an active device, it can introduce noise to the received signal; hence, you only want
to use it on weak signals.

When built into a radio, the preselector is a control for peaking antenna and RF circuits in the receiver, but if your
set does not have this feature and you buy an outboard one, it will pre amplify the signal before it is fed into the
receiver. There are several brands of preselectors on the market and, surprisingly enough, all are useful and will add
sensitivity to any receiver.

If you are interested in superb MW, or AM, reception, do not overlook the GE Superadio (you will not need this set
if your communications receiver has a loop antenna). This set has three high gain IF stages that provide good
sensitivity and selectivity and an oversized ferrite bar antenna and, if you hook it up to an external antenna, you will
be able to haul in stations across the country. The Superadio sells for about $70 but can often be found more
cheaply in discount stores.

In closing, you should know a few things about frequencies. If a band is closed, i.e., the signals are not propagating
from the transmitter site to your locale, you will not be able to receive any shortwave. On the lower frequencies,
both the ham and the international broadcasts are best at night and optimum during the winter.

The higher frequencies are open more during the day and summer although they may be used in the evening, night,
and morning depending on what part of the world you are in and the origin of the transmission. The higher the
frequency, the more chance there is of propagation affecting a signal. Sunspots can and have closed all bands over
15 MHz at times and made reception rotten on the lower bands.
As you become familiar with your set and listen to different frequencies at various time periods, you will soon learn
where and when your reception will be best. Shortwave listening is no different from other skills, in that its rewards
are directly proportional to the time and attention given it.

In our next article we will move into the realm of two-way communication, and, if I have completed my research,
discuss both lithium batteries and a new solar cell that sounds promising.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at Radio West, 2015 S. Escondido Blvd., Escondido, CA
92025, 714-741-2891.

Martial Arts- Fact and Fiction


by Bob Taylor and Randy Wanner

One of your requests on the questionnaire that we sent out was for articles on unarmed combat, so Mel asked his
friend Bob Taylor to write a mini-series for PS Letter and the following is the first of those articles. While the
information presented below may seem obvious to those of you who have studied martial arts, we thought it
necessary to caution those subscribers who are contemplating taking courses and to debunk some of the popular
misconceptions about the subject.

Bob has been studying martial arts since he was 12 and served with the 75th Rangers in Vietnam during two tours
of duty. He and Randy Wanner are currently the Martial Arts Editors for Soldier of Fortune and are involved in
training police throughout the country in practical unarmed combat and in teaching anti-rape/anti-assault courses.

In Bob’s opinion, Randy is one of the best martial arts technicians in this country today. He was the personal
student of the legendary Joo Bang Lee and his head instructor until he quit in protest over the way students and
instructors were being treated. N.T.

When people think of martial arts, they usually envision Bruce Lee totally destroying one hundred people with a
pair of nunchuks, or an ancient master tearing someone’s heart out and showing it to him before he dies. In either
case, the martial arts are shrouded in a haze of mystery and many supposedly Oriental secrets. In our experience,
the only ancient Oriental secret is how to con the world into believing that there is a secret.
Let’s face the facts. People operate storefront martial arts schools for two reasons: profit and ego. Even with the
best intentions, a person who opens a storefront school must sooner or later face reality. To give high quality
instruction, the teachers must work at the school on a full-time basis.

Unless they are independently wealthy, this means that they must make a living from fees charged to the students.
The economics of the business leaves the teacher two choices: Either he can teach a limited number of students
effectively, and starve doing it, or offer poor quality instruction to a large number of people.

Often, interested students are promoted prematurely to black belt and allowed to handle the growing student
population. As a result you have so-called instructors, who are not competent to teach even one student, trying to
handle a class of twenty, a situation that is financially advantageous to the school owner because the so-called
“black belts” are paid little or nothing. In exchange for teaching their fellow students they are usually given
advanced instruction by the head instructor. Of course, they should have had this “advanced instruction” before
they started teaching. A school following this procedure is geared to a rapid turnover of students.

The usual method of selling instruction is structured the same as that of many health spas, often involving contracts
which are usually sold to finance companies. Another method is to sell a time period of instruction and get most of
the money in advance or long before the time period expires. Either way, because of the poor level of instruction,
the dropout rate stays high and there’s room on the mat for more new students.

Most of these schools advertise self-defense, while in reality the instruction is geared toward training sport fighters
and promoting exercise and health. We are not against health and exercise clubs or tournament fighting, but
teaching sport techniques under the guise of self-defense instruction is not only dishonest, but dangerous and
irresponsible. It not only gives the student poor technology but a false sense of confidence.

First of all, we dislike the term self-defense. When a situation appears to be headed towards a violent confrontation,
we usually like the advantage of becoming the aggressor. Most schools operate on the premise that, if you are
attacked, you should counter the attack and use as little force as necessary to stop your opponent. If you believe in
this philosophy, then the Easter bunny approach to unarmed combat should serve your purpose, and will probably
get you seriously injured or killed.

When an act of violence is perpetrated on you or your family, an equal or preferably greater degree of violence
should be your immediate action without reservation or forethought. Mental attitude -the awareness to realize when
you’re in trouble and the warrior’s willingness to launch an all-out attack on your opponent- is at least fifty percent
of whether or not you will be successful in a life or death situation. This holds true whether you are using a .45
auto, a screwdriver, or your hands.
Modern competent martial arts instructors, like Jeff Cooper, teach the mental aspects of training as well as the
physical, without all the phony mystique found in conventional storefront schools. If the instructors in today’s
storefront schools could learn one major lesson from API, it would be realism in training, not only in simulating
physical reality but also in training students to operate under the stress of deadly combat.

Unlike Cooper’s API, storefront studio instructors do not vary the situation or terrain. For the most part, students
train barefoot in oriental pajamas on a flat mat. To date, we have heard of very few people being mugged in a
martial arts studio. But what happens if a confrontation occurs after class when the student has changed from loose
fitting pajamas to tight jeans and high-heeled cowboy boots, is out of the environment in which he was trained, and
is on adverse terrain, such as in a crowded bar or on gravel? He is caught totally unprepared.

A competent instructor should take the responsibility of training a student to defend his life and property seriously.
This means taking the time, effort, and risk to do the research and development work necessary to prove the value
of the techniques and tactics that he will teach his students.

For example, we have just finished eighteen months of research and development on the subject of gun-disarming
techniques. We trained with over 30 different firearms under many different situations and conditions. To test the
finished product, we loaded magnum primers behind Red Jet synthetics and tried the techniques against each other,
a practice that we do not recommend to anyone.

These bullets will blow a hole through quarter-inch plywood at 15 feet with ease. They are even more dangerous at
point blank range, and we have plenty of scars to prove it. We used the synthetics to test our product so we could
teach and write about it with confidence.

Now we see in various publications, such as the premier issue of ​Eagle magazine that has Chris McLoughlin as
martial arts contributor, gun-disarming techniques that completely violate some of the most basic principles we
learned about small arms disarming. One of the techniques in question involves clearing the weapon from the
body’s line of fire by moving the weapon to the inside of the armed opponent and across the defender’s body.
When disarming an opponent who has a gun in his right hand, the weapon should be cleared to the outside, or to the
opponent’s right.

Clearing the weapon to the left, or inside, will cause the trigger finger to pull the trigger automatically. This is a
simple reflex action, caused by the structure of the tendons and joints of the wrist and hand. Clearing the weapon to
the right, or outside, gives you a momentary advantage over the reflex action of the trigger finger, greatly
increasing the probability for success. Misinformation on a technique with such serious implications can be fatal.
Take heed, and choose your instructors carefully.
The first qualifications to look for in an instructor should be the same as those you would look for in a teacher in
any field. Honesty, the proper credentials, and a well-run business establishment are a few of the things to look for.
But choosing a martial arts instructor who is competent to teach a practical combat course is not an easy task. First
of all, don’t be fooled by fancy names and fancy titles, trophies in the window, or the number of students.
Remember, the majority elected Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Observe a class prior to talking to the instructor. If there are more than fifteen students per instructor, chances are
that you won’t get the personal attention needed for a practical combat course. If the school requires learning a
foreign language, remember, learning how to say “front kick” in Japanese never helped anyone win a fight. If all
training with the instructor occurs on the mat under ideal conditions, find out if he teaches in practical situations
wearing street clothes. If not, look elsewhere.

When you decide to talk to the instructor, make sure that the instructor you talk to is the one who will actually be
teaching you. To test his integrity, ask the instructor directly, “​'​How long will it take to achieve the rank of black
belt?” If he sets a definite time period or monetary amount, leave.

Nobody can judge in advance your physical ability. More important, your determination, perseverance, and the
amount of time you will devote to the training cannot be foreseen. If the instructor has a negative attitude towards
the use of firearms for self-defense, I would have serious doubts about the practicality of his program.

There is one positive suggestion we can give you. Check in your area to find out who trains the state and local
police officers, or where they go for instruction. There is no guarantee that this instructor can teach you a practical
combat course, but your chances of getting good instruction from him are much better than elsewhere.

Because you have searched carefully for and chosen a good instructor, you should just as carefully prepare yourself
to be a good student. Do not waste your or your instructor’s time doing exercises before class, reserving class time
for combat instruction.

Be sure the instructor understands that you want the program to run in this manner. Get yourself in shape as much
as possible prior to the start of the course; your ability to concentrate decreases substantially as you become
fatigued. Injuries occur more frequently to students who are out of condition.
In future issues we will cover a wide range of techniques. These will always be presented in a manner relevant to
common, practical situations that you may encounter. Some of the subjects that we will cover are avoiding
situations in which you are likely to become a victim, the proper clothing and equipment to wear and carry, and
recommended reading material. We will also try to answer any specific questions you have, either in PS Letter or
personally. If there are subjects, techniques, or situations you would like us to cover here, write us in care of PS
Letter.

The Setup, Use, and Maintenance of Military Web Gear


by Bill Henry

In military terminology, web gear refers to the individual issue equipment that a soldier wears in the field to support
himself. In this article we will discuss the following pieces: pistol belt, combat suspenders, canteen carrier with
canteen, magazine carriers, fanny pack, entrenching tool with carrier, and Alice pack. Most of these items are
available from reputable surplus dealers and you can find them in both late issue nylon or the old issue canvas.

Pistol Belt: The pistol belt is the first component of the combat harness system. It is made of nylon webbing which
will dry quickly and won’t rot in areas with high humidity. Currently it is issued in two sizes- medium which will
fit an individual with a 35” or smaller waist and large for those with waists larger than 35”. When used in the field,
this belt with its various components fits best and is most comfortable if worn at or right above the hip line. Instead
of cinching it tight, leave a bit of slack so that you can more easily negotiate rough or uneven ground.

In order to determine the correct placement and setup of gear on the pistol belt, there are two factors to consider.
First, the smaller the belt, the less gear can be carried on the combat harness; therefore, the loads must be tailored to
the size of the individual carrying the belt. Secondly, the wearer’s unique logistical situation plays an important part
in determining just how much gear he should carry.

Remember- there is a difference between being prepared and being a pack mule. Once you’ve assembled your
combat harness system, be sure to wear it, become accustomed to its weight, and make any adjustments necessary.
Then, if you have to use it, you can do so quickly and efficiently.

Combat Suspenders: Suspenders carry the load on the pistol belt and its various components. The current issue
Y-type come in one size which fits everyone from midgets to giants. They consist of a yoke with three straps and
four hooks. To put a pair on, place the yoke (stamped US) behind the neck. You will then have two straps in front
and one strap in the rear branching out in a Y-shape (hence, the name).

Each strap has a sure-lock hook, which snaps into the pistol belt. Be sure that the straps aren’t twisted before
snapping the hooks into the grommet holes on the belt. The holes on the hooks should point outward and away and
the straps should be taut. The two small metal tabs attached to the suspenders’ yoke are a battle dressing/compass
carrier.
As the name implies, this is a dual-purpose pouch which can either hold a battle dressing or a lensatic compass.
Battle dressings are small pieces of absorbent cotton with a large OD green tie strap attached to both ends. The
military lensatic compass is extremely well-made and priced accordingly ($30.35 new). The ruler on the edge of the
compass equals one inch to one mile on a United States Geologic Survey Map or a topographical map.

A knife can also be carried on the suspenders’ yoke. The choice of knives is endless but the combat-proven ways of
attaching them are few. In Vietnam the troops used black electrical tape or ballistic tape to attach gear. A few
electronics buffs experimented with the nylon ties that are used to secure wires together and found that they worked
well, they didn’t leave a sticky residue and the point of attachment was very positive.

You can find these nowadays at Radio Shack or Olsen’s. Still another use for the suspenders is to carry the angle
head flashlight. Just slip the tab on the back of the light through the nylon web sewn on the suspenders’ yoke.
Again, let me emphasize that suspenders’ straps should be taut as they bear a heavy load. Develop the buddy
system on web gear adjustment- you check your partner’s gear while he checks yours.

Magazine Carriers: This component of the combat harness system carries magazines for the assault weapon. The
US military deems the .223 M-16 the way to go and has issued two different styles of magazine carriers- a 20-round
and a 30-round. The 20-round carrier contains four 20-round magazines and the 30-round carrier contains three
30-round magazines. These will accept magazines from the Mini-14, AR-15, AR-180, and the HK-93.

Formerly, the US issued two types of .308 magazine carriers. The first was a single 20-round magazine carrier, but
after seeing that its capacity was not great enough, the government contractors came out with a double magazine
carrier capable of carrying two 20-round magazines. These will accommodate magazines for the M-14/M1A,
FN-FAL, HK-91, and BM-59/BM-62. By now these pouches are all but out of the military system and new pouches
for .308 weapons systems command a high price.

The placement of these carriers should be on the hips, not in the groin area, thereby providing better balance and
permitting a lower profile on the ground. When carrying ammo on the combat harness system, keep your situation
in mind. For example, a soldier on a recon patrol needs to carry more weight than one fighting from a
well-supplied, fixed base.

Don’t be caught unprepared without extra magazines, but at the same time don’t be a pack mule. Extra ammunition
can be carried on bandoliers, which along with stripper clips, are an excellent way for a survivalist to store his
ammo. They are easily accessible and easy to inventory. M-16 bandoliers can carry seven fully-charged 20-round
magazines.
Alec Jason, a fellow PS Letter reader, has come out with a superior product: the Rhodesian Ammo Pouch. It is not
GI but should be. Jason copied his nylon OD version after the Rhodesian issue, which consists of five pouches that
will accept magazines of virtually any size and caliber. These pouches ride high across the chest on a cross web
suspension with quick-release snap attachments. This product is extremely-well made and sells for $28 (available
from Anite, P.O. Box 375, Pinole, CA 94564. (415-724-1003.)

Fanny Pack: This pack was most popular with the troops in Vietnam, for it provided waterproof storage for rations
and other goods (the inner lining really worked!). It is attached with two tabs to the combat suspenders right over
the small of the back. Unfortunately, the canvas packs in new condition are somewhat rare, and the nylon issue ones
are extremely hard to find. When using the fanny pack, remember to pack soft goods close to your back and hard
goods to the outside.

Entrenching Tools: The entrenching tool, or E-tool, with carrier is a classic high technology tool. It folds up to fit a
carrier that is approximately 5x8 inches. It epitomizes the philosophy of American industrial design, i.e., making a
product light and strong but as cheaply as possible. It requires basic maintenance in the form of LSA or Vaseline on
the hinges. Keep the serrations sharp since the edge provides a chopping edge for flora and fauna.

Be most careful if you purchase an E-tool, since the imports from Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are even more flimsy
than their American counterparts. A GI folding entrenching tool is readily identifiable because the contractor’s
name and date are stamped on one side (most likely it will be Ames Mfg.) and on the other is stamped US. You can
either carry the shovel and carrier on the back pack or on the pistol belt next to the magazine carrier on the side
opposite the canteen/carrier.

Alice Pack: The Alice Pack was designed to carry extra rations, ammo, clothing, etc. in the field. It is made in two
sizes, medium and large, and can be used independently of the frame although this is not recommended for the
large pack, which features extra side pockets having an ample central cavity with a tie seal. It has pouches for
carrying smaller gear and a means of attaching extra canteens on the outside of the pack. Its straps are designed to
break apart for easy shredding in combat.

These features, however, are far outweighed by the overall shoddy construction of this pack. The extruded
aluminum frame is pop-riveted together none too securely, the pouches sewn on the outside are not reinforced and
can be ripped off, but the most damning feature is the use of springy nylon pads which are abrasive and easily come
through their nylon coverings. All in all I would pass on the Alice Pack.

Tips

To clean your web gear -either the old or the newer nylon- use mild soap and a bristle brush. Avoid bleaches and
solvents because using these products will promote the breakdown of the fabric. When drying your gear, avoid
direct sunlight and put wadded up newspaper in the pouches to retain their shape.
If your web gear becomes faded and sick in appearance, tone it back to its original dark appearance with mud,
aerosol paint, grass stains, or camouflage face paint. Keep your locale in mind when toning- you don’t camouflage
for jungle conditions in Alaska.

You will find canteens easier to carry full than half-empty and much quieter. When carrying your gear, keep the
load center of gravity high but if climbing, keep the load low to ensure stable balance.

On the various pieces of new issue gear, keep the plastic lock tabs secured. The new gear also has a keeper with a
long sliding tab for attaching it to the pistol belt and this also must be secure in the channel at the bottom of the
keeper.

On WWII and Korean vintage canvas gear be sure that the bent wire hangers are securely locked into their
respective grommet holes. Another tip learned in Vietnam was to take a piece of ballistic tape or duct tape and
make a tag on the bottom of the magazine so that you can pull it out of the carrier quickly.

Point charged magazines downward in the carrier in order to avoid getting dirt on the cartridges. This will also
protect the lips of the magazines from bending, which is especially important for the aluminum magazines used in
the M-16/AR-15.

Even if you only use your web gear on hunting or backpacking trips, be sure to get it set up well in advance and
learn how to use its various components.

Survival Gunsmithing- US Model 1911


by J.B. Wood

In the two previous columns, we covered the necessary tools and their uses. Now, it’s time to turn to the list of guns
that Mel sent me last year, and determine which spare parts the serious survivalist should keep on hand for his
chosen firearms. In Mel’s own words, “The spare parts list that you develop for each item should be extensive
enough to support moderately heavy use for an indefinite period of time.”

I know that there will be some readers who will want to keep only a very basic spare parts kit, because of limited
funds or for other reasons. So, I’m going to do it both ways. I’ll list a group of absolute essentials for each gun, then
expand it to a full list to cover almost any incidence of breakage or other damage.

As noted in the previous columns on tools, some parts can be easily and simply replaced with spares, while others
will require some fitting. Those that will require extra attention will be covered in more detail.
The first gun to be covered is the US Model 1911 pistol and its subsequent models and variations, including the
Mark IV Series 70, the Commander, and all other guns of the same basic design. The durability of this old John
Moses Browning pattern is almost a legend, but as any military armorer will tell you, parts do break.

The basic list of replacement parts would include the following: firing pin, extractor, sear, disconnector, sear spring,
and magazine.

The reason for including these in a minimal kit will be obvious, and in most cases they will work without fitting.
For optimum performance, of course, the extractor, sear, and perhaps the disconnector may require very slight
alteration. The sear spring is actually a combination spring that also powers the disconnector, trigger, and grip
safety. The listing of a spare magazine is probably unnecessary, as any survivalist will have several on hand, for
other reasons. For any automatic pistol, I would suggest a minimum of three spare magazines.

Here is the full replacement list, repeating the items from the basic list: Firing pin, extractor, sear, disconnector,
sear spring, magazine, firing pin stop (retainer), ejector, barrel bushing, barrel, slide stop, barrel link, barrel link pin,
hammer, magazine catch, magazine catch lock (retainer), grips (one pair), recoil spring, firing pin spring, magazine
catch spring, plunger spring, and mainspring (hammer spring).

The additional parts included are those which sustain particular wear or stress. The complete spring set will insure
replacements for any springs which weaken or take a “set” after long use. Helical coil springs rarely break, but it’s a
possibility. Some might question the inclusion of a spare barrel, but there is a good reason for this. Given
reasonable care, a barrel is not going to wear out.

After the main ammunition supply is depleted, though, it may be necessary to use makeshift rounds, or scavenged
cartridges that may not have been carefully stored. In either case, there is the possibility that a malfunctioning round
could stop a bullet in the barrel, and if it’s followed by a good round, the barrel could be bulged. Fortunately, the
design and takedown sequence of the pistol will allow removal of even a swelled barrel. Note: a new barrel may
require some fitting in the area of the locking lugs on top.

There is one part susceptible to damage which is not included on the list, as it is actually easier to repair it than to
attempt replacement. This is the plunger tube, located at the top of the left grip panel, which houses the safety and
slide stop plungers and their common spring. The tube has two inner projections which are riveted inside the frame,
and replacement is difficult without special factory tools. Since the tube is on the outside, it’s possible that it could
receive a blow and sustain a dent, and a deep one could affect the operation of the parts it contains.
If this happens, the safety plunger and the spring should be removed toward the rear, and a piece of rod stock turned
to the same diameter as the safety plunger. The rod is then inserted from the rear and tapped forward with a small
hammer, swaging the dent outward.

If this is done carefully, the tube rivets will not be loosened. Be sure to stop when the dent is passed and the rod tip
meets the rear of the slide stop plunger, if it is still in place. If the dent is forward, jamming the slide stop plunger,
then that plunger will have to be tapped out toward the rear, using a drift of smaller diameter. After that, the
procedure is the same.

If the tube rivets are loosened, insert the properly-sized rod in the tube, and lay the tube against a piece of wood.
Press the frame tightly against the tube, and angle a drift punch inside the top of the magazine well to restake the
two rivets. After this operation, it may be necessary to insert a flat file into the magazine well to level any burrs that
may have been raised, to clear the magazine passage.

If the grip panels are of wood, time and atmospheric conditions may cause changes which will require some
tightening of the grip screws. If this becomes necessary, take care to avoid overtightening, and never do this with
the magazine in place. The screws enter bushings which are also threaded into the grip frame, and too much torque
can strip the bushing threads.

It is also possible, depending on the depth of certain bushings and the length of the screws, to turn the screws in
until the tips protrude into the magazine well. In this case, of course, you'll have to file a little off the tips of the
screws to allow passage of the magazine.

Most of the pivot pins and plungers were not included on the list for two reasons: They rarely wear or break, and if
either should ever occur, they are easily turned out from rod stock (or, in dire emergency, even from a nail). The
one exception, which is on the list, is the barrel link pin.

During the firing sequence this pin is under considerable stress, and any replacement for a broken one must be
hardened to just the right degree. In gun parts, there is a point of maximum hardness, beyond which the item
becomes brittle. Since proper heat treatment of parts will be beyond the skills of most “survival gunsmiths”, it’s
best to have one or two spares of the barrel link pin on hand.

There is one part which was included only because it would be so tedious to make if lost. This is the magazine
catch lock, or retainer, which resembles a very small threadless screw with a tab on one side, at the head. These
seldom break, but if one were ever lost during maintenance takedown it would take the average person several
hours to make and fit a replacement.
Now, let’s look at parts sources. Original factory parts for Colt-made guns are, of course, available from the
factory. They will cost a bit more than military parts, but they will be more likely to fit without alteration. The
address is: Colt Firearms, 150 Huyshope Avenue, Hartford, CT 06102. Mark your inquiry to the attention of the
Parts Department.

There are several dealers offering surplus military parts for the Model 1911 and its cousins, and I’ll list five of them
here:

Numrich Arms Corporation


West Hurley, NY 12491

Sarco, Inc.
192 Central Ave.
Stirling, NJ 07980

Sherwood Distributors
18714 Parthenia St.
Northridge, CA 91324

Sierra Supply
P.O. Box 1390
Durango, CO 81301

Triple K Manufacturing Co.


568 Sixth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

These military parts are in no way inferior to the original Colt factory parts, but they will generally be less finely
finished, and may require more fitting. In military use, a trained ordnance armorer did the installation.

While the suppliers above offer all of the springs for the gun, there is another source for springs, including some
with extra power for extended hard usage. The W.C. Wolff Co., Box 232, Ardmore, PA 19003, offers complete
kits, with one of each necessary spring, and the price is reasonable. Write for their brochure.

A good exploded view of the Mark IV Series 70 pistol is found on page 37 of ​The Gun Digest Book of Exploded
Firearms Drawings, Second Edition.​

Complete takedown and reassembly instructions for the Colt 1911 series pistols can be found on pages 160 through
170 of ​Part l: Automatic Pistols​, in my ​Firearms Assembly/Disassembly series of books. Both books are available
from DBI Books, Inc., 1 Northfield Plaza, Northfield, IL 60093.

Between the exploded-view drawing and the photos in the takedown/reassembly book, the amateur should be able
to identify the parts mentioned, and determine their relationship and proper position in the mechanism.
Letter from the Editor

Many of you have asked our opinion of the Korean made (Poongsan Metal Manufacturing Company) .308
ammunition that used to be sold by Federal Ordnance, so I sent Jeff Cooper 500 rounds to test.

Because he was working with a limited amount of ammo, Jeff said that his evaluation was, therefore, superficial but
that he could find no negatives to report in regard to either its functioning or consistency. As you can see from the
photo that he took, the ammo performed quite well.

Federal Ordnance has sold all their PMC .308 but Pacific International Merchandising Corporation (2215 J Street,
Sacramento, CA 95816, 916446-2737) has about 50,000 rounds on hand at $265 per thousand, FOB, Sacramento.
N.T.