Category Archives: Basic Skills

General Purpose Load Outs – Pt III

Updated at AP on 21 Sep 18.

Parts 1 & II

On this installment, we’ll look at what would be Level III, or the ‘Existence Load.’  Please note that brands are not what is being recommended here (everyone seems to have their own favorites); only the category/type of item.  For purposes of this post, a pistol is a pistol, a fixed blade knife is a fixed blade knife, etc.  Most importantly, your mileage may vary on what you need as Level 1 in your own AO.  Remember to not over do on item selection for any of the levels.  You have to carry it all….that said, this is what we recommend for baseline gear/equipment leveling:

Level 1 Contents in no particular order (and some are not included in the pictures):

  • Presume you have AO/Season appropriate clothing on your person, so we won’t go into that.
  • Cotton Balls or some other very light fire starter
  • Signalling Whistle
  • Stabilized Oxygen (water purification)
  • AO Map – Usually a state map showing major roads, cities, etc, (this would be in addition to any topographical or aerial photograph maps you have in your level 2 or 3 list.
  • Water proof bag to keep small L1 items together (should fit in a cargo or pants pocket)
  • ‘Space’ Blanket’
  • Magnesium or Ferro Rod fire starter (I prefer the ferro rod; others like the magnesium – I keep my ferro rod on a piece of 550 cord around my neck…works for me.)
  • 12 inches of 100 mph tape
  • 1 unlubricated prophylactic – relax – it’s an emergency water container
  • Fixed blade knife of 6 to 8 inches
  • Small sharpening stone – in the picture below, that is kept in the snow sealed, riveted sheath
  • Compass – As seen, this one is in the knife cap
  • Small, individual survival kit – in the knife handle; can include a few fish hooks, a few matches, etc.
  • Side arm & one magazine
  • Holster – in this case, the owner is using a simple trigger guard with belt attachment for IWB carry.  I prefer either a belt or should holster.  In any event, the pistol is on your person 24/7, even when you’re sleeping – never out of reach, always ready in an instant.
  • Small bag with a couple packets of MRE toilet paper and a couple disinfectant wipes (even in dire straights, keeping yourself clean as possible will keep you going longer as your body won’t have to fight an illness while using its energy reserves you’re counting on).
  • A high quality multi-tool in a pouch on your knife sheath or belt or in a pocket.  This is just as important as your fixed blade knife and pistol.  This item, really, depending on what’s chosen, one of those things you’ll find you really need.  DTG actually carries two; one affixed to the knife sheath and one in my accessory pouch.  One is a Leatherman MUT, and the other a Gerber 600 one hand opening needle nose.  In. De. Spensible.
  • One quart size plastic bag to keep things in (can also double as another water container).
  • Other items can be easily added, such as
    • 10X monocular, kept in a shirt pocket
    • Lighter (highly recommended)
    • Wrist Watch – On your wrist, obviously, and one might consider a self-winder or manual wind (EMP, you know).

As you can see from the second picture below, it all goes very nicely in the dry bag, and its scale/weight will do very nicely in a cargo or even a large shirt pocket.  Knife goes on the belt, and the pistol goes into an appendix carry in this case.  If you use a belt holster for your pistol, make sure to balance your belt with the pistol on one side and the knife on the other.


Level 2 Contents in no particular order:

  • Carbine & primary magazine – the carbine should be set up as a practical combat carbine w/optics and possibly a weapon mounted light, depending on product.  Remember, a ‘negligent light up’ in the dark could get you killed.
  • H-Harness or LBV – Remember DTG does not recommend chest rigs as ‘general purpose’ gear.  They’re great for specific applications, but, at least in our opinion, don’t fit the definition used for selection as general purpose.  As always, your mileage may vary.
  • Ammo pouches to hold six standard capacity (30 rounds) magazines with appropriate ammunition.
  • Compass pouch w/primary compass.
  • Accessory pouch with those accessories a NPT member might need for security operations.  Could contain things like:  Headlamp, earplugs, 3 or 4 inch blade folding knife (for small chores like opening food packets), eating utensil, spare batteries, small bottle of CLP, 4 way spigot key (can turn on a lot of faucets if needed in an urban/suburban environment, etc.  Your call, as it’s what you believe you’ll need and will be on your harness/LBE.
  • CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) –  DTG carries an additional one taped to the outboard side of the carbine stock in order to have two; one of which is immediately available,  DO NOT use 100 mph tape!!  You’ll never get your CAT off the rifle in time to use it.  1.5 wraps of electrical tape on each end of the CAT will do it.
  • BOK – AKA, ‘Blow Out Kit’ or Traumatic Hemorrhage Kit complete with coagulants, chest seals, etc.  It all depends on what kind of care you think you can get post use of the BOK.
  • Mini-IFAK – Includes band aids, triangular bandages, snake bit kits, etc, again, depending on your AO  (if you’re narrow waisted, and don’t have a lot of ‘real estate’ on your LBE, you might consider a cargo pocket or a shirt/jacket pocket.  In cooler weather, a British Windproof Smock or similar jacket with many pockets would help on this.  DTG uses a smock for L1 add ons and L2 items that won’t fit on the LBE, and it works – make sure you test what you come up with).
  • Radio – Make sure you check out Brushbeater’s radio series if you’re not quite sure what you should have or how you’d use what you do have.

Level 3 Contents:

These are what old-schooler’s refer to as ‘Existence Load’ items.  Again, in no particular order:

  • Entrenching tool
  • 6 additional loaded standard capacity magazines in bandoleer
  • Water bladder (additional or primary – depends on what you can carry)
  • Lean to (tarp, poncho, etc) – The USMC field tarp, British Basha, Aqua Quest Defender, Noah’s Tarp, etc, seem to be very popular and work well.  DTG has used all the listed examples.
  • Sleeping bag/poncho liner & additional tarp (depending on season/AO)
  • 30 ft 1/2 inch rope
  • Carabiners
  • 3 Duke 110 traps
  • 3 ‘Yo Yo’ reels
  • Naglene water container
  • Utility pot (canteen cup – DTG prefers the WWII/Korea models with the solid handle vice the ‘butterfly grips’)
  • 1 spare set of pants/shirt
  • 3 spare sets of socks
  • 1 pair thermal underwear
  • Spare batteries
  • Spare compass
  • Four 50 ft hanks of 550 cord
  • Tinder packet
  • Sharpening stone
  • 3 day pack
  • “MAC” sacks (one way valve waterproofing bags)
  • Kukri or Machete (not pictured) – personally, DTG likes the Kukri – it can take a LOT of use/abuse for survival situations
  • Equipment Repair Kit – Heavy Material Stitcher, Goo, 100mph tape, or whatever you think you’ll use to repair gear that becomes damaged in the field
  • 6 full meals (that doesn’t mean MRE’s, either, unless you ‘field strip’ them.  DTG does a mix of Mountain House vacuum packed, field stripped MRE’s, and other small items that equate to 4 days of meals.

Add what you need, but the trick here is to have what you really need in the Existence Load, but not over pack, and BE ABLE TO CARRY FOR AT LEAST 5 MILES what you have without falling over, and then still being able to set up a RON (Remain Over Night) location when you get to your way point.


And there you have it.  The image below shows a NPT member with all Levels mounted.  Again, these photos are for demonstration, and therefore, no field clothing is being used by the model.


Instant Response Set Up – A Suggestion

We’ve all got our SHTF set ups and they most likely include, our harness, our multitude of ammo and mags, and the kitchen sink.  And, if we’ve done it right, we’ve bought the highest quality we can afford, meaning it might not be ‘Top Shelf’ equipment, but it’s not going to fall apart with rough use, either.

One thing that many don’t have is an “instant Response Kit” that might entail basic NPT* member requirements for, say, 24 to 48 hours in the event of an imminent threat or actual attack.  In essence, a ‘grab and go’ set up that will see you through the initial stages of a ‘bad thing’ until you can either get your standard SHTF existence load and equipment.  Necessarily so, this equipment won’t be at the top line of expenditures, either, and surplus equipment might be the way to go.

So, for discussion, what might that look like?

Again, this set up should be of reasonable quality to be used in scenario based training and the real McCoy if necessary, but would only have an expected life that would be much more protracted than the really good stuff you’ve made your ‘SHTF I’m not coming back’ set up from.

This example is for an AR set up because it’s ubiquitous, and these days, really inexpensive to get a decent copy.  So….you 7.62NATO fans are going to have to find something similar that takes your mags and spare ammo, if you decide to go with the concept.

Now nothing says your ‘instant response’ or “IR” set up can’t actually BE your SHTF set up, so long as it meets the criteria.  If you’ve got your current SHTF set up in modules, where you can easily pick up something and leave some other thing behind instantly, than you may be good to go.  That means what you might consider  ‘Line 1’ items must be contained in the set up.  Pistol, spare mags, knife, mini-survival kit have to be on it, unless you actually have them already in your pants/on your person when you grab the IR kit.

Remember, the definition I’m going to use here for an ‘IR Kit’ means exactly that:  INSTANT RESPONSE.  No sorting, no digging through stuff, no anything save grabbing your AR and your IR Kit and going out the door.

The IR Kit is comprised of 2 modules that include anything determined to be necessary to operate independently of a support base/group for up to 72 hours maximum that when donned, needs nothing added to complete the set up.

Module 1:  Zero’d AR with one full magazine – it should be painted to break up the shape and outline, with a pallet of colors that match most conditions of your area.

Example of camouflaged AR – outline broken up; does not stand out

Module 2:  IR Kit consisting of the following components:


  • Harness:  Suggested is the USGI Gen II LBV.  Why a surplus USGI 2nd Gen?  Because A: it’s cheap.  Mine cost me $13 shipped.  B:  Because it is versatile enough to haul your required gear/weapons/support with the addition of a USGI web belt that’s also ‘soooper cheep,’ and C: because it’ll hold 8 mags or 6 mags if you use one pouch for ‘stuff’ (jury’s out on that right now due to balance – time will tell).  To keep costs down, I’m also using spares I’ve got on hand so the dollar outlay is as little as possible.  For those of you who might not have spares, remember your local garage sales and flea markets.  New isn’t what you’re after – ‘serviceable’ is what you need.  In fact, a bit faded is good.  So, look for the belts and, while you’re at it, if you don’t have one, get a USGI M84 or M12 Holster to go on your belt for your service pistol.  These holsters really protect your service pistol from a lot of things, including mud, debris, and other items that can impact your successful employment of the pistol when necessary.

  • Fixed blade knife:  One suggestion if you don’t have a spare to throw on your IR Kit, is a Camillus ‘combat’ knife or similar.  Used is also good here, so long as the edge looks serviceable, and the sheath is ok, too.  You can always improve the edge as well as sno-seal or beeswax the sheath,  You could also get a ‘Glock Field Knife’ or other similar knife that meets your preferences. The important thing is to have a good fixed blade knife.

  • Spare Magazines: Determine whether you want 6 or 8 on your person and pre-load them to be stored in the harness.  Not to worry, you can leave mags loaded for years without damaging the magazine spring, contrary to conventional wisdom – metallurgy will tell you that over compression of the spring is what damages mags, not leaving fully loaded for years.   Personally, I like 6 on the vest, because with one mag in the AR, you’ve got a total of 210 rounds which is a basic load taken right from my super old school training.  Unless you’re dealing with a human wave style attack, 210 rounds ought to be good to go for 48 hours, especially if you’re an, ‘aimed, deliberate, accurate, deadly fire’ proponent.  If there’s a chance you might not get back to your primary SHTF equipment for a couple more days, you can always load 6 more magazines (180 rounds) in a bandoleer to provide an added measure of ‘peace of mind.’  The USGI surplus is better than the aftermarket hook and loop closure models – the USGI version has hardcore snaps on it.

  • Support Items:  Then we need to add to the mix some sundry items like water, food, map, compass (even if you’re only going to the end of your block, you should ALWAYS have a map & compass to plot out where the bad guys are or have come from), space blanket, fire kit, canteen cup (universal use pot), fire starter, These might be kept in a small ruck, an accessory pouch, or an old school ‘butt pack.’   A cleaning kit is purposely not included, as you would not necessarily be a position to take down your piece/pistol for cleaning.

The primary objective is to have the harness set up so that everything you need to ‘go now’ for anything extremely short term up to a 48 hour stint away from your primary existence and fighting load is at your fingertips.  This could also serve as a superb ‘mobile’ set up that one might put in his/her vehicle prior to going on a long trip.  2 items:  Rifle & IR Kit.  Not bad.

Once I get mine together, I’ll be doing some experimenting on wearing it and see how the basic idea seems to fit.


General Purpose Gear Load Outs – Pt II

Updated at AP on 21 July 18.

Gear Layering

What is gear layering? As described in other posts here and on other sites, such as Mason Dixon Tactical, American Partisan, and WRSA, gear layering is arranging equipment in lines, layers, and levels, to achieve the same thing. It is a technique for prioritizing the carriage of the most essential gear for the specific job over gear that may still be important, but not as high on the priority list as other items. Many sources divided their levels of gear into 3 or 4 layers. DTG recommends and uses the 3 layer approach.  Why address it again?  Because it works!

A quick description:

Level 1: Gear that is essential to survival and ALWAYS on your person, even when you’re sleeping (remember, you will fight like you train, and if a SHTF situation presents itself, you no longer have the luxury of ‘total comfort’.) If all else fails and an individual loses their harness and ruck, they still will have their level one items with them to help them survive until they can reach support.

Level 2: Gear is for NPT security tasks and is on your person the significant majority of the time. Only items that are needed for conducting continuing security tasks are carried on this level with respect to the SMOLES packing concept. Following this methodology, the NPT member stays light and has the freedom of movement essential to do their job.

Level 3: Gear is comprised of sustainment items, which serves as one’s “home away from home.” Usually, this is a “patrol pack”, ruck or combination of both. Items at this level are needed for task completion while on a job, or for long term survivability in the field. If in contact with a threat, more than likely this level is shed so that the NPT member can maneuver more easily to counteract the threat. So, there is a possibility that items in this layer may be lost in contact. On the other hand, if the NPT is successful in its task, the NPT members can always retrieve their Level 3 gear.

Here are a few visual examples of gear that layered for an NPT member:

Example Level 1: Here you can see a NPT member wearing a big knife, a pistol, (and the bulge in the pocket is a survival kit).  He’s always got these on.



Example Level 2: Here you can see a NPT team member’s Load Bearing Harness. It contains all the necessary items to conduct security tasks in a SHTF/WROL situation. The harness weighs about 25 pounds complete with all equipment.


Example Level 3: Option 1: As you can see here, the level 3 gear is a “patrol pack” or small ruck, dedicated to sustainment items for a short trip in the field. The pack weighs about 22 lbs loaded with the items we recommend for general purpose carry.


Example Level 3 – Option 2: And lastly we have a large ruck in combination with the small ruck as the full load out for one’s home away from home in the field. Together they weigh about 65 lbs.


So there you have it, an overview for gear layering. It’s not a complicated concept, but it does help one prioritize their gear for the purpose it was intended. The layer concept also makes sure you have your “oh crap” tools always on hand.

In the next post we will take a look at general NPT security member kit contents in each layer.

General Purpose Gear Load Outs

Updated at AP on 9 July 18.

Part 1: Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) Selection

There are many gear options out there today for one’s fighting load and sustainment ruck. As our overall goal is to show the NPT how to protect their neighborhood in the event of disaster, we want to do this as efficiently as possible.  One way to achieve efficiency is to provide information that equates to much less time needs to be spent worrying over which LBE set up or ruck is better and using that time instead for training and study.

As you most likely know,  a person can spend anywhere from a few hundred bucks setting up LBE and rucks with military surplus items to upwards of several thousand on the latest and greatest ‘special-ops’ equipment in the latest and greatest camouflage pattern.  It’s safe to say that American preppers virtually have the greatest availability and choices of military/paramilitary gear in the world, and as neat as that is, it does tend to complicate gear selection for people who are new to the point of becoming overwhelming.  Even when asking, “expert” advice, the tendency is to see the advice given based upon personal tastes versus objective analysis based upon the specified purpose for the selection.

So, when you’re helping the new NPT member to get equipped, you, as the NPT leader, must be able to quickly outline the best return on investment of potential gear selections so the new member can get focused on training as soon as possible.

With that said, DTG recommends a “general purpose” approach when selecting gear.  The definition is offered for clarity, as we try to stick to the definition closely in 98% of all circumstances.

gen•er•al-pur•pose / adjective

1. Having a range of potential uses; not specialized in function or design.  “a general-purpose detergent”

For the requirements of the NPT, general purpose load bearing equipment should facilitate “normal” (that is, ‘routine’) NPT security tasks.   To be considered ‘General Purpose, the LBE you choose should have the following attributes:

  • Capable of mounting all necessary pouches/equipment holders without being so front loaded so that one cannot get very low to the ground, (think H-harness / Battle-belt).  Chest rigs are great for the right circumstances, but they really don’t fit the GP parameters.
  • Comfortable enough to be worn to complete daily grid down chores without extra fatigue.
  • Capable of being put on and taken off without any discernable noise (think of the loud “SKWAAAAP!!!” sound that some Velcro pouches, plate carriers or chest rigs make).  Buckles and snaps are your friend when it comes to quiet.
  • Capable of being put on with or without the use of a low profile plate carrier (the H-harness/battle belt set up work very well in this regard), should that be one of your choices to augment your equipment.

Remember, what works for elite soldiers doing specialized missions might be different than the day to day gear needs of Mom and Pop providing security in their NPA while going about daily chores.  Available cash may also be a constraining factor when it comes to choosing gear.  To preclude the loss of precious time and money when NPT members experiment through trial and error what works best in most situations, and for what cost, the NPT leader should provide all the lessons learned possible so the ‘noobs’ don’t have to go through all the things the veteran NPT leader or member did.   Remember, unless Mom and Pop are in superb physical shape, they might have a hard time with 12 mags hanging off their tummy trying to get into a prone firing position, or low crawling to cover after being encouraged to get a chest rig or plate carrier set up.  (An aside, helping Mom and Pop do reasonable PT helps, too, but you, NPT Leader, need to be busting your ass on PT.)

How do you get the ‘most bang for your buck’ in relation to time saved when learning about gear?

Have new NPT members get some training in SUT with one of the trainers or schools offered by writers on this site.  Their courses are structured to show students, through the performance, if gear is incorrectly set up or can be tweaked a bit.

When you’re home, if appropriate to your AO (meaning you won’t bring a stack down on you after a terrified neighbor calls the local PD on 911) wear your LBE around the house doing normal tasks, yard work, etc. Nothing teaches you how to wear your gear like performing daily chores or the occasional SUT drill!

Any time you attend the training, check out how the instructors set up their gear.  If it seems to work, and it’s possible for you to mimic their set up, test it when you train with your group or family.  If you don’t understand why something is set up a particular way, ask!  Remember, the instructors have tailored their LBE set ups used during their experience in the military to that of citizens training to defend their families. Pick their brains; they know what works and what doesn’t work so well. If you have a question, drop them a line.

DTG’s LBE and Ruck Suggestions:

General Purpose Option 1: “I have an extremely limited budget, but need all the quality I can find!”:

Get an ALICE H-harness/web belt and an Enhanced ALICE Large Ruck. My good friend JC Dodge provides some great advice on modernizing the ALICE:  Get a CFP-90 patrol pack to add to the top of the ruck. With mag pouches and canteen’s, etc, you’re looking at about $200 give or take, maybe less depending on what you find or where you shop. Example: In the not too distant past, I was at a flea market and found 4 M1956 canvas M-14 pouches for a buck each. ALICE frames for $20 (US, not knock offs.)  Below you can see two typical ‘old school’ examples that still work very, very well.



General Purpose Option 2: “I’ve got some cash” option:

Get an Eagle Industries RLCS harness (ebay $100 new, $50 to $75 used) with molle pouches ($15 ea) and a USMC FILBE ruck with attachable small patrol pack ($325 new). You’re looking at about $400 to $600 after pouches for your LBE, if you want to go the surplus route.  I’ve had a set up very similar to the one below for the last 5 years – haven’t had an issue with it, and I routinely ruck.  The harness is bomb proof, and it will accommodate flotation pads if you think you’ll need to cross a river.

Eagle Ind. H Harness

Eagle Industries H Harness




*Note these estimations do not include the cost to fill your LBE or Ruck with actual field gear.

The next post will be on gear layering. The idea is not to get into all the supporting theory behind layering as much as it is to give a good example for general purpose gear placement so that (if you like it), you can show an example to new people how/where to wear their gear for security tasks.

The Foxfire Series – An Introduction

Posted at AP on 8 June 18.

While many in the prepper world have heard of this amazing book series, many times more folks have not!  In fact, I’d venture that there are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who are concerned about possible hard times on the horizon who haven’t heard about this treasure trove of information!  This post is offered in that light – to raise awareness of what treasure of knowledge can be obtained for small cost in dollars.

These wonderful books contain priceless information that anyone, of any age, anywhere, can use to increase their knowledge of, ‘the old ways’ for that will see them through harsh times, off-grid living, or learning and teaching the ‘old’ traditions.

The book began as an English class project published in a magazine, and eventually morphed into a series of encyclopedic paper bound ‘manuals’ with it’s own website and organization, which, if you have a mind, you can become a member.  Foxfire’s mission is to preserve the traditions and practices of Southern Appalachia, however virtually all the information can be adapted to anywhere in the world, as the practices are time tested and proven and will work anywhere.

The history below is taken directly from the foxfire website:

“In 1966, a new teacher at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School was struggling to engage students in his high school English class. In frustration, he asked them what they thought would make the curriculum interesting. They decided to create a magazine, honing their writing skills on stories gathered from their families and neighbors, and producing articles about the pioneer era of southern Appalachia as well as living traditions still thriving in the region.

They called it “Foxfire” after the glowing fungus that clings to rotted wood in the local hills. This spark of an idea, and the work that followed, has turned into a phenomenon of education and living history, teaching readers, writers, visitors, and students how our past contributes to who we are and what we can become – how the past illuminates our present and inspires imagination.”

The good news is that for those who bargain hunt, older copies can be found for almost the original price (about $4 per volume) at flea markets, old book stores, and, of course, on line auction sites, such as ebay.   The older the copy and the better shape it’s in, the price will be higher of course.  You can also go to on-line sellers such as Amazon and buy single copies, partial sets, and the entire set if you prefer.  It’s all there for you.   I started with the single book, and after reading a few chapters, quickly went out hunting the other volumes!  My first is an original 1972 copy in ‘like new’ shape (at least it was when I bought it – now it’s well-read and a bit worn).

The first volume covers many subjects.  This is from the front overleaf, but is also on the cover as the image at the top of the post shows:  “The Foxfire Book – Hog dressing; log cabin building; mountain crafts and foods; planting by the signs; snake lore; hunting tales; faith healing; moon shining; and other affairs of plain living.”

The books are not dry, either.  They’re written exactly as the words were spoken and/or written by the people being interviewed, and keep your attention, and transport your mind into their world.  Plain speaking; they tell you why and wherefore with no pretense:  “this is the way I was raised up.”

Get the first volume, “The Foxfire Book,” and judge from there.  As you increase your interest, and decide to buy the second, third, and subsequent volumes, consider passing the ones you’ve read to someone who is of like mind….but you’ll want to make sure they return it and get their own!


Re-Post: Shelter – Why Tents Suck

Originally posted on 1 June 2016.

Bottom line first:  As the title indicates, DTG is no fan of tents for survivalist or mobile NPT scenarios that may require sheltering from weather.  Look at the graphic above:  Do you think the occupants saw/heard this guest coming into their camp?  Of course, the photo indicates this was a ‘simple’ camping trip, and other factors are sure to be present that drew the uninvited guest in to check things out, but the main point is the apparent haste in which the occupants left the tent….and all their belongings because they were blind to their environment.

Another reason we don’t recommend any tent, to include individual ‘bivy’ shelters are due to the logistics involved:  Shelter is hauled on your back.  Any shelter that has rigid support structure (poles or springs, such as ‘instant’ pop-up shelters/tents) tend to make the load being carried unbalanced (more or less), and once set up, blocks vision, restricts movement, or retains moisture from condensation, or all of the foregoing.  Don’t agree?  Try your small signature tactical tent in deep winter, and when you settle in for the night, turn on a flashlight and watch your breath rise to the ceiling, freeze, and begin to drift down as micro-snow.  You may find in the morning that your sleeping cap is covered with a thin layer of “snow”, as well as the top of your bag.  This is not speculation – yours truly has had this happen.

Additionally, this post is not about hiding one’s IR signature, either.  Different subject; different tools; different employment of the tools available for an entirely different purpose.  I’m sure you can find plenty of other sites available that will provide more than enough justification necessary to validate the purchase of their $200 tarp with a reflective liner.  Most likely with various camouflage patterns to meet your specific needs.  If that’s what you’re after, this is not the post for you.

This post is also not about sheltering when you know or have reason to believe you’re being actively hunted.  Another entirely different subject where different tools and methods are employed for an entirely different purpose.  The frame of reference here is simply sheltering in the elements to (in no particular order) rest, dry out, eat, hydrate, perform hygiene, etc.

The focus will simply be:

  • Tarp Shelter Purpose
  • Optimum Size & Weight
  • Shelter Siting
  • Knots to use
  • Setting it Up
  • And whatever else crosses our minds on the subject.

Tarp Shelter purpose:  Simply put, a shelter is to get you out of the sun/wind and rain/snow.  As most know, that’s where the debilitation of your physical condition occurs is in the elements.  You can stay cooler or warmer, dehydrate less, and become much more comfortable if you have a tarp shelter big enough to get you out of the elements.  Here’s what you need:

Tarp Shelter, 550 cord, basic knot knoweldge (trucker’s hitch, figure 8, and Prusik will do nicely), your field knife or tomahawk (to make stakes), bungee cords (if you’re going 1st class), and wind consciousness.

Optimum Size & Weight:  Again, bottom line:  Ideally, no more than 3 pounds and size should be 7 X 8 feet, and completely waterproof.  It has to be large enough, ideally, to shelter you, your personal defense carbine, and your ruck.  If your ruck is guaranteed to be waterproof, you can leave it out if needs be, but if not, you don’t want to carry the extra weight from the material becoming saturated.  If you’re alone, or each in your group has their own, you can use your poncho if you have one.  Below is a picture of a student shelter with a standard issue Woodland pattern poncho.  Note the mandatory ‘goose neck’ to keep out water.  And yes, the ruck, hawk and carbine belongs to the student, who wanted to show them in the photo.

DTG Student Hootch

As to size, there are a group of newer shelters, such as the Aqua Quest Defender (shown below) that are about 10X7 feet, and have all sorts of great innovations like up to 20 loops around the perimeter and even one or more loops on the center spine.  They are a bit spendy, but you get what you pay for.  This one weighs in at just over 2 pounds, but has the tried and true woodland pattern.  So far, I really like mine – it works very very well!aqua questAnother great one, if you’re traveling in a team of two or three at most, and distribute the shelter building load among yourselves, is any 10X10 ft waterproof tarp, such as the Snugpak All Weather Shelter, as sold here by Great Lake Survival and weighs about 2 pounds.  I’ve got one and used it regularly until it was edged out by the Aqua Quest. So much so that each time I hit the bush on a training run, it was ‘home.’  Very nice, and when not with a partner, it’s like having a mansion.  I can make my fire right at the edge without endangering the tarp so long as I keep the fire at a reasonable level to heat my food or water for coffee.  The image below is only one configuration possible.

GLSC shelter

If you like MARPAT, and you shop around, you can get almost new USMC Field Tarps, with Coyote Brown on one side and MARPAT on the other.  It’s bigger than a poncho, has no hood, and is solid.  It’s a bit heavier at about 3 pounds, but some folks swear by it.  I have one of these as well, and have used it with no complaints, other than the additional weight.  Here’s one set up in the ubiquitous ‘shelter half’ configuration.

shelter USMC field tarp

One feature you want to look for, especially if you’re going to get an individual sized tarp, is the ability to snap them together (did we mention that your team needs to have standardized equipment?  Here’s one more reason why) in order to make a larger shelter when appropriate.  It’s a nice capability to have available, but not essential for efficient sheltering.

Next time: Shelter Siting, cordage, and knots that lend themselves to efficient set up and tear down.

Essential Skills: Converting Grid and Magnetic Azimuths – How and Why

Posted at AP on 5 Apr 19.

In the last post on Magnetic Declination, the impact it has on azimuth/bearing accuracy was described.  In this post, we’re going to look at the ‘how and why’ of converting grid (or map) azimuths/bearings to magnetic azimuths/bearings and vice versa.

First, a word about grid maps.  They’re not essential for ‘shooting’ an azimuth or bearing (from here on out referred to as either a Grid Azimuth (GAZ) or Magnetic Azimuth (MAZ)), but they are essential to plotting (determining & marking) positions on a map to within various levels of accuracy (meaning actual distance from the object or location being plotted).  That’ll be covered in one of the next posts on this subject.

For your convenience, you can use a ‘UTM’ ‘Universal Transverse Mercator’ AKA USGS 7.5 minute map.  They’ll either have ‘tick’ marks on them that you can use to provide your own grid (as I have done and commenters have suggested (Tip:  Use very thin map marking pens and don’t use red ink – red disappears when using a red light) or complete grid lines.  They’re ok to use; they’re typically in 1:24,000 scale, and you need to ensure your map tools correspond in scale.  More on that in the future.  Personally, I prefer and recommend maps that use the MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) which is similar to the UTM, but scaled in 1:25,000 & 1:50,000, which is what I learned land navigation with during active duty.  It’s a familiarity thing for me.  YMMV.  In either case, the listed Declination, or ‘GM Angle’ on the map (which may or may not be correct due to Magnetic North Pole movement) is for the center of the map, and depending on the what’s under or on top of the surface, the Declination degree may be distorted during your trip.  So, it’s good to check the on line or other sources for up to the date declination numbers.

The simplest way available to man right now is to get a compass that has an declination adjustable feature, such as the Sunnto MC-3 as pictured below.  Basically, once you determine what your Magnetic Declination is, you simply use the provided tool, adjust the declination reading to correspond with that number (either East or West) and use your compass on the map as well as when shooting your azimuth.  No mathematical equation is necessary because the compass itself has the declination already accounted for by your adjustment.  In the compass image below, you can see the declination window at 6 o’clock on the compass, or specifically, at Zero degrees.  It’s the little black pincer looking thing.  Underneath the compass is a small standard screw slot that an accompanying tool will adjust to whatever your declination is, East or West.  Once the degree is in the center of the indicator, you’re set.  None of your azimuths need conversion until such time as you use a different compass – one that can’t be adjusted similarly.

If you’re not using that type of compass, you’ll always have to use the mathematical equation to convert both Grid and Magnetic Azimuths back and forth when navigating.

When you’re figuring out the azimuth to get from your start point to a mid or end point on your course, you really need one of these things to determine your GAZ.


It’s called a ‘protractor’ and using it is pretty simple:  Place the center over the point on the map you’re using to determine which azimuth you’re going to travel on, square the protractor to the map’s grid, place a small tick mark in the center of the protractor (they usually have a hole for that purpose), and use some sort of straight edge to line up the center point and the azimuth (use the INNER RING of degrees, not the outer ring), place a tick mark, move the protractor out of the way, and draw a straight line from the origin point to the azimuth line.   You should have written down your Grid Azimuth (GAZ).

Now on to GAZ to MAZ conversion.

For now let’s say you’re using a USGI Lensatic or other compass that does not have the Declination Adjustment feature. The graphic below demonstrates for both East & West Declination.   You need to know that if your declination is East, it means that Magnetic North is East of your location.  Conversely, if it’s West, Magnetic North is West of your location.


If you plot your grid azimuth on a map and it reads (for example), 180 degrees (GAZ), and you know your local declination is 15 degrees East, and you wish to convert your GAZ to a MAZ, simply subtract the Declination of 15 degrees and you’ll have a 165 MAZ, or ‘magnetic’ azimuth that you can use with your compass.

Now, if you want to convert a MAZ to GAZ using the example above (in that you have a MAZ of 180, simply add the 15 degrees declination to the 180, and you have a correct GAZ.

This equation must be memorized if you don’t have a declination adjustable compass in order to stay accurate and end up on or near the coordinate you’re aiming for on the last leg of your navigation.  The consequence of not converting or adjusting for declination is not reaching your objective…..or worse, getting hopelessly lost, which might be terminal, depending on your location and the scenario you find yourself in.

And really, that’s all there is to it.

Next time:  Plotting Coordinates – Why and How


Essential Skills: Magnetic Declination can RUIN Compass Accuracy if not Accounted for…

land nav map 1

Originally posted 12 Mar 2016 and reposted on AP on 23 Mar 19


Comments on a post back in 2016 on another site on Magnetic Declination disagree with, or at least minimized the importance of magnetic declination with the general feeling that, ” …’15 degrees’ isn’t that much of an error” or, “15 degrees will only result in a little bit of extra walking..,” or “I can get where I’m going…”

Now, I’m sure that guys and gals out there who’ve been hunting in one area or another (no matter how large) all their lives and have well used topographical 7.5 minute maps can get from point A to point B and so on with a cursory look at their map and shooting a general bearing with their compass.  The primary tool they use is familiarity with the AO (a good thing) and terrain association with the compass used as a back up.  Ergo, they may not think they need to worry about declination.  And, in that particular scenario, those making claims like that are most likely 100% correct…until they get into territory they aren’t familiar with.

USMC Land Nav

Before we begin, let’s define Magnetic Declination:  All compasses used today point to Magnetic North, not True North.  The difference between the Magnetic North and the True North direction is comprised of an angle called magnetic declination.   It can be literally zero degrees or as many as

This angle is NOT the same in all places.  It varies based on how far away you and your compass are from the one place that your magnetic compass would be in line with True North.  An example might be someone navigating a route on the Gulf and East coasts of the United States would be subjected to a declination variance of 20 degrees West in Maine to 0 degrees in Florida), to 10 degrees East in Texas, If the trip started in Texas, and the compass was adjusted at the beginning of the journey, it would end up having a true north error of over 30 degrees by the end of the journey if not adjusted for the changing declination. 

A good source to get the exact declination, or GM angle, is

                           Diagram of Declination Errors

So how do you know if it’s an East or West Declination error on your map?  Simple:  All quality topographic maps will have the number on it.  Personally, I use the maps at – they’ve never let me down.  I also double check the printed declination against the declination web site above.

Experienced navigators backed up by the facts regarding magnetic compasses and the magnetic ‘North Pole’ will quickly tell you that if you don’t account for the local declination, you stand a great chance of not reaching your objective (which may be getting back to your truck or home or reaching and injured person or whatever you can think of) or becoming lost yourself.

Ok, let’s do a scenario  with a very popular subject, a SHTF scenario or some other situation where the person is using a new map and is unfamiliar with the territory.  Let’s say you or one of your folks is running a security patrol with your NPT with the task of linking up with a neighboring NPT at a particular location at a particular time.  If the NPT’s in the scenario don’t concern themselves with accurate grid azimuth conversion to magnetic conversion, lives could be at stake, and the link up will most likely not occur.

US Magnetic Declination Map

                                                                        US Magnetic Declination Map                                                                                                    Remember, the Magnetic pole shifts all the time so this is not necessarily accurate.

If you’re looking on your map and figure you need to take a 78 degree magnetic azimuth, and set your compass accordingly, and you haven’t either adjusted your compass for the local declination (difference between Magnetic North and True North, either East or West) or converted your grid azimuth to magnetic by either subtracting or adding the correct declination degrees, you will have a proportionate error when you shoot your azimuth (bearing)  to start your navigation that only gets worse as you go along.  Here’s the error factor of being off by various degrees computed to distance from the target:

1 degree of error at 1,000 meters from start point = 17.5 meters off target (or 19 yards)

5 degrees of error at 1,000 meters from start point = 87.5 meters off target (95 yards)

8 degrees of error at 1,000 meters (my AO) start point = 140 meters off target (153 yards)

10 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 175 meters off target (191 yards)

16 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 280 meters off target (306 yards)

21 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 367.5 meters off target (401 yards)

That’s for a 1 click leg (1,093 yards).  Now, let’s multiply that to, say, a 7 click straight line walk.   Drum roll:  2,572.5 meters off target at the end of that little 7 click jaunt from the start point, not taking into account any additional anomalies you may encounter while trying to walk that perfectly straight 7 kilometer line you drew on your map.

Now, for discussion’s sake, let’s make our walk shorter.  We’ll use the maximum variation in the US – 21 degrees East (Washington State) for a short, 3 click walk.  Drum roll:  1,102.5 meters/1,205 yards (even backing it down to the declination in my AO, 8 degrees, it comes out to 420 meters/459 yards – almost half a click – which is a LOT in a rural/wilderness environment).  Over a click off your target from the get go if in Washington State and drift, deviation, and pace count error haven’t been factored in yet.

That’s where you are; imagine where you will be when you think you’re at the end of your first leg.  The mind boggles.  For fun in this mental exercise, add a little thing called, “night” to the equation.  Now, for added flavor, consider when the map isn’t matching up to the terrain and you’re positive that your on the right azimuth, the disorientation (something that occurs with little notice) that can add to all the things you’re dealing with, and oh yes, human error in our calculations.

Good luck in reaching your destination as planned.

So now you should be able to see how important factoring in local declination into your map and compass work is to you.  There are a lot of good sources out there to teach you the skills, which aren’t that difficult in the first place.  All it takes is time and effort.  One way to learn or improve your land nav skills if you’re serious is to find a good local weekend course and register/attend.  Or go join a local orienteering club.   You’ll really be glad you did when you have the confidence of not only your equipment, but your skills in making them as accurate as possible.

declination map

The Sling – It’s for Much More Than CQB or Ease of Rifle Carry…

Excellent opening image above, isn’t it?  It demonstrates the use of a ‘deliberate’ sling on a 1917 Eddystone Enfield, chambered in 30-06.  The image below is an M-14 rifle nomenclature diagram.  Notice the sling is important enough to be included as part of the weapon system, and it’s set up properly for a deliberate (aka, ‘loop’) sling , too.  Following that is an image of a M-16 with one of the older cotton web slings, and it’s set up properly for a deliberate sling as well.  The sling, as taught to many generations of US servicemen, is an aid to accurate shooting.  Even the sling swivels are placed in strategic locations for optimum employment (more on this below).

As mentioned above, the US military (all branches at one point) used to teach marksmanship to include the use of the sling to all recruits (especially the USMC), but, as the years went by and training focus changed from accurate fire to area suppression, less and less time was spent on accuracy, and more time was spent on putting as many rounds into an area or location as possible, to the point that only the Marines continued to teach the sling.  Stands to reason, in the USMC, everyone is a rifleman, first and foremost.

In my own time on active duty, I believe my ‘generation’ was the last to receive any training in the use of the sling, and that was after arrival at our first duty stations, not in Basic Training, and then, not universally across the board.  I was lucky; had a few early Vietnam veterans and cross branch enlistees who took an interest in my shooting capabilities because I was on their squad.  And, about that time, the sling, to most people, became an item with which to carry one’s rifle on the shoulder, and these days, across the chest or abdomen.

HUGE mistake in my opinion.

                   Yours Truly Shooting a M14 Type Rifle with a Hasty Sling

To underscore the point, the primary purpose of a sling is not simply for carrying a rifle comfortably as some may think; rather, it’s an essential shooting aid that allows the shooter to achieve better accuracy in each shot than the shooter would without it.  1907 slings as well as web slings are now mostly used by competitors, re-enactors, and purists (which I count myself as one of the former competitors, now turned purist).  Mores the pity – the generations of younger shooters will most likely not benefit from such superb training as those who’ve gone before did.

Today’s slings (both issue and after market) can be single point, two point, three point, in terms of attachment, as well as variations thereof with slides and buckles to tighten or loosen the sling on the individual for ease of weapon deployment or carrying easier that has a byproduct of letting the troop use both hands for other tasks while retaining the ability to bring the weapon to bear in a threat.  They’re simply an evolution of a need brought about by a major shift in vehicle & airborne insertion into a battle zone.  They don’t have a thing to do with helping the shooter deliberately hit a target a long way away to the back burner.  So, in relation to accuracy, those type of slings pretty much suck as deliberate shooting aids.   One of the reasons is the points of attachment have changed along with the purpose of slings when shooting.

Most military grade or replica of issue rifles have two primary points of attachment for the sling:  On the underside of the forearm near its front end and the underside of the butt stock near its end.

Take the Vietnam issue nylon web sling (above), it’s WWII/Korean War predecessors made of cotton web, and it’s child – black cotton/poly mix (the worst of the lot, in my opinion).  All three good versions were able to be quickly employed as either deliberate or hasty configurations for the shooter to have a really good chance at hitting his enemy at maximum effective or beyond maximum effective ranges, or if closer and under great stress, have a better chance of coming out on top with a first or second shot hit.  In my opinion, the Vietnam issue is the best, because with use it gets softer and does not stretch at all.

Another that doesn’t stretch at all is the Turner Saddlery ‘all weather’ 1907 slings as pictured below.  In my opinion, you can’t buy a better sling than Turner, leather or synthetic.  You might find some just as good, but none better.

                                            Turner Saddlery Synthetic NM Sling in OD

                           US Marine Employing a Deliberate or “Loop” Sling with a M-16A2 Rifle

The front and rear sling swivel locations help reduce any pressure of the forearm against the barrel, which will degrade accuracy.   This can be mitigated, though.  How?  Easy – the barrel must be ‘free floated.’  Back when I competed in High Power, my match rifles, both Garands and M14 type rifles, were free floated to wring the most accuracy possible out of them when using or not using the sling.  Standard issue or replica rifles used are typically upgraded to match level in parts and construction, and the shooter learns how much pressure he can put on the sling before it’s a detriment and not a help in his shooting.  Here’s a very short video on the proper way to install a sling.

If you’re a more ‘modern’ shooter and have a sling installed on the standard USGI gas block clipped in with a plastic or light metal quick release buckle, and you’re putting pressure on your sling, you could easily break your attachment device or put enough pressure on the gas block to cause problems with your accuracy.  If you have a QR release on the side of the forearm, enough pressure may pop your QR swivel right out of its receptacle.   Either of these conditions are not good for your shot.  And Murphy ensures these kinds of things always happen at the wrong moment.  When installed ‘old school’ on older .30 caliber battle rifles or even M16A1’s, through A4’s, these things rarely happen because A:  the sling swivels are reinforced to take the pressure using a sling generates, and B: the sling isn’t putting pressure on anything that will affect the shot.  If you are going to use the current crop of slings, 99.999% of them were not designed to help you attain better accuracy, so it might not be a good idea to try it out on them.  Especially if you’re a ‘CQB’ type – you don’t need the sling for accuracy anyway.  Using a sling is strictly for making accurate shots out to ranges you don’t normally shoot at or when strict accuracy is necessary for a certain shot.

Me?  Sure, I’ve got rifles set up with the more modern 2 point slings, but I’ll always have at least one rifle set up with a 1907 or USGI Nylon sling.  Not so cool looking, but really high up there for making shots when it really counts.

Let’s hear your thoughts on sling shooting in the comments.



A Designated Marksman Rifle & Cartridge That Won’t Break the Bank

First, let’s understand what I mean by, ‘Designated Marksman Rifle.’  Simply put, it’s any rifle that can reliably hit to and beyond the maximum effective limit of the riflemen being supported.  That means if you’re going to support ‘off the rack’ AR’s or iron sighted .30 caliber rifles being used by your NPT, you’re going to need something that can hit consistently between 550 and 650 meters and be effective.  Effective means ‘put the target down.’

                                            For Illustration Purposes – Dead German Soldier circa WWI

Extrapolate that to mean the platform and cartridge chosen must be able to do what it needs to do at the specified range typically with the first shot (that doesn’t necessarily mean kill, either.  If you have 3 zombie bikers coming, and you gut shoot or hip shoot one, and they actually care about their buddy, it’s going to take the other two to get him out of the line of fire).  That can buy time for you to dislocate to another shooting position for further support or cover the egress of your NPT from the situation.  Most folks think of the 7.62NATO round or even the .300 Win Mag to fill the role, but I’m  thinking of a now, for the most part, ignored cartridge that when originally introduced, was used as a 1,000 yard cartridge.  Over the years with advances in bullet design, propellants, primers, and all things ballistic, as well as the excitement new rounds and platform design causes, it has all but been relegated to the dust bin of history other than for hunting excursions.  Don’t get me wrong, I dearly loved the 7.62NATO round; at one time had a Fulton re-worked Norinco M14 that was MOA with irons and really enjoyed the .300 Win – I spent about 5 years doing precision with home rolled 200gr Sierra HPBT Match Kings from a very, very accurized Remington 700 Sendero that routinely stayed sub – MOA at 1,000 yards – awesome rifle and cartridge to load  and shoot experiencing its capabilities.  But it was real expensive!  The base rifle was $650 off the rack, then there were the accurizing modifications, such as cryogenic treatment to relieve all stresses in the steel from the manufacturing process; the re-crowning of the barrel to a perfect 11 degrees (ensures consistent gas release) then the action was trued, the trigger replaced with a Timney, a Leupold M-8 Fixed 10X

I’m sure the older and very experienced shooters have now surmised I’m thinking of the 30-06 Springfield.  Excellent round, and very  versatile.  It can be loaded up to 220 grain bullets and down to 110gr bullets.  It can have a .22 caliber ‘accelerator’ projectile loaded by way of a sabot.   Amazing round.  Developed and deployed in 1906, over 113 years ago, it still packs a HUGE punch and is very accurate when either purchased as a match round or loaded as an extreme performance round, usually by an experienced hand loader.  Personally, I’m a Sierra HPBT Match King 175gr guy, but 168’s work just as well.

The platform to choose for a DSM rifle, in these days of wanting to do everything for a dollar, is a now seldom pursued used hunting rifle with a 22 inch barrel called the Savage 110.  These things come cheap, and many don’t know that Savage accuracy out of the box beats many high end competitors in the rifle business at a price point that can defy belief.  Do a few accurizing modifications as described below, and you’ve got a really good DSM.

Yes, I like Savage rifles.  I’ve got two right now.  One is a project rifle, and the other a Scout.  They are out of the box extremely accurate.  That’s not the point, though.

The point is tuning a John Doe ’06 bought OTC for comparably few dollars into a very precise over-watch or support rifle that a reasonably trained rifleman can make sing.  Especially in times of emergency conditions or circumstances.  If, for whatever reason, the rifle is ‘lost,’ it is inexpensive enough to have an identical copy (or two) at the former owners finger tips.  If you already have one languishing in your safe or you can get your old uncle or grandpa to give you theirs, you’re ahead of the game.

To be clear, this is not a ‘sniper’ rifle, either (and a DSM is not a sniper – a DSM is simply a rifleman who can shoot extremely well and has the calling to provide ‘pause’ to an approaching enemy).  The barrel is pencil thin; the stock is standard; the trigger may be polished, but it’s not going to be in any stretch a ‘precision trigger’.  The optics are not going to be anything to write home about, either.  In fact, I’d consider using the optics the rifle came with, so long as the glass is clear, doesn’t fog, and provides at least a 9 to 12 power magnification.  It probably won’t have mil-dot reticles, either.  The standard “thick-n-thin” reticles will do nicely, especially when the rifleman learns how to use them to estimate range against a known target’s size.  Here’s an example of what might be on a scope coming with a used rifle like this one.

All that has to be done to the Savage 110 ’06 after you’ve purchased it and taken it to the range to see what ammo it eats best (you’ll want to save your targets for comparison later when the accurization project is complete) is to, first, assess the trigger pull.  If it’s not at about 3.5 lbs, and isn’t adjustable, take it to a competent gunsmith and get it done now.  Once he’s done his work, take it back to the range and see how it performs again.  Save these targets as well, and mark them “post trigger smoothing.”  Then, the next step is to completely strip and detail clean/degrease it, recondition the barrel (easily done with JB polishing compound, some boiling water and dish soap (hint – do this outside to ensure you don’t hear the high pitched war cry of your spouse unit when she sees you doing this in the sink….ask me how I know).  I’ll outline the method I learned for conditioned a barrel in another post (this method works so well that with a new out of the box rifle, your break in is done in about 10 rounds without cleaning between rounds).

Once the rifle is completely clean and the barrel has been reconditioned, the next step is to polish the bolt lug raceways in the action.  JB’s is good for this as well, and all you do is smear a bit on the bolt lugs and work the action smoothly for about 30 revolutions all the way in and locked and all the way out.

Then you clean the action again….really clean it.  Boiling water helps get all the crud out. While your at it, clean the bore again against anything that may have moved in during your action cleaning.  And make sure to clean the lug recesses, too.  You don’t want any gunk in there.   You want the chamber pristine, as well.

Purchasing one of these kits, or something similar, will make you a happy camper.Once it’s clean, dry it thoroughly.  Don’t worry about oiling it just yet.  If you just have to for your own peace of mind, run and oily rag through the action and almost dry oily patch down the bore.

Now comes the hard part:  You have to free float and bed the barreled action.  Why?  You want to ensure that the harmonics of the barrel steel when the round is fired is as consistent as possible from one shot to the next.  This consistency means that the “Cone of Fire” (every rifle fires in a cone – no BS) will be as uniform and as small as the rifle’s inherent accuracy will allow.  It’s usually evidenced by a triangular group when firing 3 shots properly (meaning breathing, sight picture, trigger depression, firing, and follow through all come together at the same time).

I am partial to atomized stainless steel bedding, but will also use Devcon fiberglass bedding material.  So long as you have proper release agent.  Pictured below is Brownell’s Steel Bed Kit, now about $60 or so at Walmart.   Follow the directions precisely, especially as it involves applying the release agent, or you’re going to have a permanently affixed stock.  And I mean permanently.

                    A bedded Savage stock after releasing the action from the bedding compound.

When you insert the action into the bedding compound, a simple way to free float the barrel is to have a pre-cut piece of coffee can plastic lid, about 2″X 3″, to place between the barrel and the stock near the front end of the stock.  Once the action is secured into the bedded stock (and presuming the action has been thoroughly coated with spray or brush on release agent), the plastic will keep the barrel about 3/32’s or 1/8th inch at the most up from the stock.

Once the cure time has passed, you can unfasten the action retaining screws according to the instructions, and tap the action out of the bed.  C.A.R.E.F.U.L.L.Y.  Clean any excess bedding compound and painters tape from the stock and action, clean their surfaces, and reassemble your rifle.

Then paint it to match the area you may be operating in….then go back to the range.  The example below should have the action, barrel and scope painted as well.  Remember, looking cool isn’t the object of painting a rifle or any piece of equipment.  The main objective is to break up the outline.  Ugly is your friend.  When you’re done, you might do a simple test:  Lay your rifle down in some  typical vegetation around where you live and walk 5 to 10 yards away.  Can you easily see it?  If not, you did it right.

That’s the ‘in a nutshell’ on how to get a DSM rifle with a spectacular cartridge that packs a punch.  There are still components out there from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam that make interesting hand loads for range experimentation.  Due to our current laws, however, make sure you are in compliance with your local and state (as well as federal) before you buy or load any surplus components.

What’s your choice for a DSM rifle and caliber?


Disclaimer:  This article is for educational purposes only; any misuse of the information contained herein is the sole responsibility of the reader.