Jesse Mathewson is a contributing author to the Suburban Survival blog.  He is an individual who believes in Liberty, Non-Aggression, Self-Defense, Self-Ownership and a Free Market without state interference it is Jesse’s firm belief that we should all be better students in life. His autodactic education in American History, World Religious History, Government and accredited education in Criminal Justice, Juvenile Deviance and Drug Related offenses and crime allows his philosophy to be ever changing. So be critical, he will gladly attempt to respond to all intellectual and honest criticisms. Contact Jesse at [email protected] however, please understand that he receives several hundred emails daily and may not necessarily have the time to respond to them all.

Over the past decade or so since the big hype surrounding Y2K, hundreds of new industries have sprung up virtually over night. Survival gear, food, tools and more are pumped out by entrepreneurs taking advantage of a very real fear of death that inhabits much of humanity. Interestingly, much of this industry is supported by individuals who were urban or suburban in their thinking.

You would be hard pressed to find a second or third generation farm/ ranch son or daughter who has not already either experienced massive flood, storms or life and is not prepared in some fashion. The modern guru’s of preparedness are those individuals who have the ability to attract others like themselves and seem as if they truly know what they are doing. Most of them were originally urban or suburban children and are type A personalities which when you add a spoonful of whatever flavor of religion they prefer doesnt bode well except to their pocket books.

Chief among these individuals is John Wesley Rawles, born in a California city, raised as a nationalistic individual he touts his brief stay in the military as a Captain as his solid background. Of course, he has worked in other fields after getting out of the military, however, it should be noted that companies who desire to gain military contracts regularly buy and sell people like Rawles so as to present a pro-military profile when applying for their share of stolen tax money. In many cases you do not have to have any real experience, a simple set of bars will suffice for a well paid position as whatever you desire regardless of actual skill set.

Of course on the other side of the survival fence you have individuals like myself. People who have lived through fires, storms, tornadoes and floods. You have the individuals who instead of making spurious claims to fame as a foundation for their career in flim-flam, have actually lived through it. Or, as with the administrator of the Suburban Survival Blog, have the courage to admit they do not have all the answers and are learning as they go. Now it should be understood that my chief complaint with Rawles is his inflammatory religious and statist rhetoric. After that even a blind monkey can eventually get some things right, if given unlimited bandwidth and zombie like followers.

How does any of this actually apply to surviving versus living? Its simple really, people like Rawles want to see you change your entire life into a paranoid, religious freak. People like the Suburban Survivalist simply want to see you live, rather then struggle when events like the recent Hurricane in New York occur. I have had long arguments with Rawles, and he has patently denied his right wing, over zealous religious approach to statism and the Constitution. Interestingly a 30 second google or bing search will turn up dozens of quotes from Rawles regarding his desire to see religious separation and more.

However, I continue to get off topic, how does one live versus simply survive? Using Occam’s Razor the simplest answer is usually the right one. You live, life should not stop simply because you desire to ensure your safety and that of your family should a major natural or man made event occur. One can easily incorporate simple, yet beneficial skills and traits into their lives now without really changing anything, Obviously, being a generational country boy myself, living in a small town now, my habits learned as a youth have translated easily into my life now. I do not recommend anyone live in high population density areas, you are asking for trouble regardless. Statistically something negative will eventually occur, to yourself or within your vicinity over the course of your life time.

Rawles and others would have you believe that you should sell everything, and move to the remotest mountains you can find. Myself and the Surburban Survival blogger would have you simply live your life now, and add a bit at a time to your backup supplies for the time when you will need it the most. The easiest way to ensure you and your family live well is to add 5% on to every purchase and use the back of your linen closet, pantry and other storage spaces to live. Most canned goods while less nutritional then fresh foods store for an average of 5 years or more safely. Rotate your stock, store heirloom seeds and learn square foot gardening. Water can be stored in well rinsed plastic gallon milk containers, as well as old syrup or food storage containers.

Rawles and his followers would have you believe that using storage containers like this you will end up poisoning yourself, yet, the reality is that while some issues have been seen with using containers like this, it is extremely long term, meaning you will die of old age long before you actually see the affects of using these storage containers. Local donut shops have food safe frosting buckets and will almost always be willing to sell them for a small price. I have amassed large amounts of these, and they work well to store dried foods, canned foods and even water for cleaning and more. The benefit to using these is that they are easy to transport, seal well and are cheap.

Personally I detest Top Ramen noodles, however, they can be had for literally pennies on the dollar and if you use the noodles only and avoid the high sodium content of the flavor packaging they make a great easy, cheap filler that can turn a blah meal into something almost four star. Your friends have told you about Costco’s deal on a one year supply of food, and yet your bankbook cannot handle that stress. So buy an extra pound of rice, canned goods and more every time you get groceries, and watch your year supply add up quickly.

You should figure out how much is actually used per sitting on a standard family meal for your immediate family, now add a minimum of two more stomaches and multiply by two. During a crisis humans eat more, and expend more energy regardless the level of physical expenditure. A weeks food supply for four people can quickly turn into three days without even realizing it. These are simple things to remember, additionally what about personal comfort, hygiene and more. Do you have toilet paper, paper towels, salt, pepper, shampoo, body soap, dish soap, fuel for cooking and more? Here is where things can get complicated, if you let them.

Depending on where you live you are already prepared for this. However, some of us do not use propane for cooking or heating. Some of us rely on natural gas, so what should we do to prepare without letting our desire to be safe become our life? The same thing we do with food, when we purchase supplies for personal hygiene and washing clothes, buy an extra bottle or box every other month. Remember, clothes can be washed by hand in the bathtub, dried by hanging them on the shower  curtain rod and though stiffer then what you are used to, be clean and feel much better then several day old clothing against the skin. Walmart and other big box stores sell party buffet tray warmers that work well for small meals and more. These can be had for $1.50 to $3.00 apiece and last for two meals, buy four or five every time you go shopping and keep them sealed tightly, using the buckets you picked up for a small price at your local donut shop.

Propane cook stoves can be had for $35 to $125 dollars and work well for cooking, heating water and even heating the house if necessary. Using small propane bottles purchased at big box stores for $5 for two, with an average life span of 4-8 hours depending on use, these can also be stockpiled over time. Another less efficient but simple approach to cooking, or heating water is using a large cardboard box, duck tape and aluminum foil. While it may take a bit of adjustment, you can make a simple solar oven that will function well enough to at least provide one warm meal a day which can make all the difference in the world. Other avenues include small electric hotplates, solar panels, marine batteries and more. A bit more expensive, but longer lasting with less storage necessary.

What should you do about self defense, hunting and more? The primary question should be, regardless what I use is my use of this tool more a danger to me then a benefit? People like Rawles will tell you to train, and yet, they often leave out the specifics. Instead they are gear heads, spouting endless amounts of drivel about the benefits of one tool over another. With no real evidence supporting their assertions other then some odd facts and even fiction they have gathered over time, they have convinced hundreds of people that owning a .45 caliber handgun and a .308 rifle makes them immune to the dangers of the world. For people like myself who spend countless hours, hundreds of thousands of rounds and have thoroughly tested and used dozens of various firearms, his assertions are beyond false, they are dangerous to follow blindly.

For instance I know through personal testing (500-1000 each, of 7 major popular self defense ammunitions) as well as readily available and well documented test results that modern 9mm Hollow Point rounds generate more energy, better penetration and are more reliable then .45 caliber ammunition. I also know that the measly and vastly under-rated .223/5.56 caliber round is extremely effective from 0-500 yards. I know that to use it effectively one must become a rifleman, and not simply someone who humps a larger caliber rifle and assumes that makes them invincible. I know that the actual odds of facing down a grizzly bear or mountain lion are so rare that carrying a firearm specifically designed for that task will only hinder you.

I know that common distances for game hunting are between 100-300 yards, and that the vastly underrated .223/5.56 round will work quite effectively in these distances. I know that the most common battlefield distances are between 25-150 yards and that the modern military man trains more with regards to urban, house to house then for distance fighting. I also know that the training a modern military man receives, especially people like Rawles, is less then effective and promotes only the idea of invincibility but does not actually promote efficiency. Lastly, I know that the lowly .22 long rifle is among the top rounds causing firearms related deaths in the United States and that aimed properly against unarmored targets has as much a chance of one shot stop as does the vastly overrated .45 caliber handgun.

My personal recommendation for the low budget, low impact desire to prepare and live when faced with catastrophe would be to purchase what you can afford without going into debt from the following calibers and types. In handguns I highly recommend Glocks for the beginners, this is simply because the benefits far outweigh the supposed disadvantages. Large magazine capacity, accurate, ease of use and they can be found in any of the major handgun calibers. They are popular firearms and easy for the beginner to learn to take apart and fix. This means that you will be able to find parts without even really having to look if something were to go wrong. I would personally recommend 9mm as a caliber and I would suggest using Speer Gold Dot or Remington green box hollow point self defense ammunition. For training, almost anything will work, however remember, the 9mm gains its true benefits by using a solid self defense hollow point round.

Next I would suggest either an AK in 5.45×39 or an AR in .223/5.56, for the AR I would highly suggest ensuring that it is milspec, and has a 1/9 twist, this allows the best cross over in common bullet weights. The AK, I would suggest a Romanian, or Centurion build spend the extra money on one or the other. Also, get a full stock, dont settle for the cool looking wire stocks, they really dont do much to help you with accuracy. And contrary to popular belief, the AK and the AR can be more then accurate enough. Most shooters I know tend to desire sub one inch groups at 100 yards, however, this is off of a bench, with a ransom rest and match grade ammunition. The truth is that battlefield accuracy, or a 3-4” grouping at 100 yards offhand is more then adequate.

Lastly I would suggest that you purchase a solid .22 rifle, many people promote the Ruger 10/22, and like the glock it is a proven platform with the benefit of being extremely prolific. I personally own Mossberg 702 plinksters, being a low budget prepper myself I have found that these are accurate, reliable and inexpensive. In fact you can often purchase two for the price of a Ruger 10/22 additional factory magazines will run $12-15 apiece, this alone makes them more cost effective then the Ruger 10/22. Remember, regardless which firearms you purchase, you will want to have a minimum of 10 magazines per firearm simply because with use everything can fail.

So we have covered food, fuel and firearms but what about shelter and transportation? Shelter comes in many sizes, there is the shelter that also doubles as a fort, and the shelter that simply gets you out of the elements such as rain, wind and snow. Purchase an older boy scout handbook, pre 1990’s, and you will find wonderful diagrams, instructions and ideas with regards to shelter, food and more. Purchase a second hand family sized tent and you solve your immediate problem with regards to shelter should you find yourself away from your castle or home. Sleeping bags should be purchased ranging from 10 to 20 degrees less then the lowest recorded temperature in your local area. You can do this for around $25-45 a piece and get a nice sleeping bag.

Transportation is also important, are you planning on walking 1000 miles or driving, what is your physical abilities, can you walk, will you be able to drive? Unless everyone goes nuts at the same time a normal car will function quite well given that there are paved roads around the entire nation. If you know that you will have issues walking, buy a inexpensive bicycle and get a little kid hauler trailer for it. Remember, the united states was beaten in Vietnam by bicycle riding people wearing pajamas. This means that you just because someone says you should do it one way, doesnt make it by default correct. Take your time, figure out what it is you will need to do and remember, buy an extra 5 gallons of gas a month. Every six months or so rotate that supply as well, gasoline can go bad through sitting.

Above all remember, live! Go to the family barbeque’s, frequent your favorite eating establishment, watch a show or two and live! If you decide that you desire to remove yourself completely from having a life and live only to survive, then join Rawles and his merry band of travelers. They will likely welcome you, especially if you also believe in fairy tales and myths. However, if you truly want to live, to enjoy life and still impart a sense of readiness just in case. Try a different approach and remember, you can live, or you can survive. Which do you prefer?

Free the mind and the body will follow!

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About suburban

We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.