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The Final Trawl is a preparedness and survival blog that centers its content around prepping on a budget, practical advice, gear reviews, how to's, and political commentary on current events.

We want to thank our readers for beginning this journey with us. You are not just another page view. You are not just another nameless body reading these digitized words. Each one of you is unique and worthwhile. You are an individual who was born into this world to fulfill a job that only you can do.

By spending time with us on The Final Trawl, you strengthen the hope that this "trawl" will reap a great catch and not an empty net. Whether we discuss prepping, politics, gear, guns or just shoot the breeze - know that we do it all with you in mind.

As to our purpose, we find ourselves in the midst of a great storm. In light of this world's mounting fiscal uncertainty it is increasingly obvious only two courses of action are left to us, the general public.

We batten down the hatches and weather the storm . . . or sink.

The waves which we have dared to sail in pursuit of greater things now threaten to overtake this great human enterprise we call civilization. Batton down the hatches and all hands on deck! It's time for us to get to work.

Questions or comments on prepping, survival, guns, or gear? Email us at thefinaltrawl [at] gmail [dot] com and follow us on Facebook, G+ and Twitter. We'd love to hear from you, and who knows, you might end up on the blog.

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    Retreat Property: It’s not going to buy itself

    I realize most of our readers, like myself, do not have access to exorbitant amounts of money. Why we might not be paycheck to paycheck, the idea of dropping $50,000 or more on 50 acres just doesn’t seem fiscally possible. I would wager if money wasn’t an issue, most of us would not only own our little peace of mind out in the country, but would probably be living there full time with a five year supply of food and enough bullets and band aids to start a small war.

    “I’m having trouble keeping the mortgage, food, cars, and insurance under control … please don’t give me some speech about how I need to be saving for land …”

    I hear you, and I hate the spiraling economy, inflation, and increasing living costs as much as you do. Think back to 2000 and how far you could stretch your dollar, but don’t linger too long or it’ll make you sick.

    That being said, I have a bit of bad news. I do not believe the price of land is ever going to be cheaper than it is right now. You can’t buy as much now for $50,0000 as you could ten years ago, and I can promise you won’t be able to buy in ten years what you could have now.

    “You’re not listening. I don’t have that kind of money … I probably never will …”

    You might have started your adult life with damn near nothing, but now you’re sitting on your computer ($600) with your high speed internet ($50 x 12 months = $600) and reading this article from the comfort of your very own house or apartment (1,000/month). Or maybe you’re scrolling down this page on your smart phone ($250 + 24 month contract = $2650).

    What most people need to get going on their dream of owning land is a reevaluation in priorities and to take a good hard look at all the materialistic crap they’ve spent years throwing money into.

    Smart phones, flat screens, high speed internet, expensive cars, designer clothes, high end “organic only” supermarkets, fifty pairs of shoes of which you only wear five, gadgets, super expensive makeup, “tacticool” crap for your “evil black gun” … the list goes on. Stop and take a good look around the house. Be honest with yourself. How much money have you thrown away in the last decade?

    If you examine your spending habits and don’t find yourself in the above category, there are other things you can do to lower living costs and start putting aside your “land fund.” Bargain brands, you and your partner skip going out to eat four times a month ($240), carpool or take the bus to work, keep vacations in state and within driving distance, switch from 94858 digital channels with HBO to basic cable …

    I’m not a financial planner, nor do I know what’s going to be best for your situation. I’m just trying to get you in the right state of mind. I want to get you thinking. Get motivated. Make a financial goal. Make a plan to reach that goal. Make a time line. Make it happen.

    No one is going to do it for you. Wishing at it and planning your “ultimate bug out location” isn’t helping either. We don’t want pipe dreams. We want results. Can you go in on some land with a longtime friend? Extended family? This can cut the cost in half!

    Think long and hard. What is your reason for wanting to secure this land? Is it for yourself? Your family? Fear of where our country is headed? The need to be self sufficient? Write down every single reason you can think of and stick that piece of paper on your bathroom mirror. Look at those reasons every day. That is why you’re making sacrifices. That is why failure to realize this goal not an option.

    Make a check list with incremental financial goals leading up to your property cost. Put it where you have to see it daily! Check them off. Your progress will motivate you. Think about what those that came before you had to give up in order to settle your family into the greatest country in the world.

    I will leave you with this final thought. In a hundred and fifty years time, when you and everyone that ever knew you has long since passed. When your great, great, great grandchildren are praying around the dinner table at night with their families … your decedents … don’t you want them to thank God for their great, great, great grandparents? That they had the foresight to secure a homestead for them when land wasn’t $50,000 an acre. That they made sacrifices so that subsequent generations wouldn’t have to.

    Chances are history will not remember you. Make sure your great grandchildren will.

    By: Will Archer

    The Final Trawl

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    Politically Correct: Child Suspended Over “Cute”

    Friends, when will the madness cease?!

    Look, I suppose I can overlook our society melting down into anarchy in a number of areas, specifically: dress attire, social customs, and personal interaction, but what I cannot abide is the re-defining of ideas and definitions based upon plain ignorance.

    Via the power of google, I have confirmed that the definition of sexual harassment is the persistent unwelcome directing of sexual remarks and looks, and unnecessary physical contact at a person, usually a women, especially in the workplace.

    Perhaps I am the one with the reading comprehension problem, but where in this story was the definition of sexual harassment found?

    And when did the simple undirected statement of ones physical comeliness translate into a persistent and unwelcome direction of sexual remarks, looks, or contact?

    The real tragedy here is not only the young man who might be hesitant in the future to express appropriate interest in a members of the opposite sex, but the fact that we now become so poorly programmed into the new mantra of political correctness that the general populace is greatly confused concerning where the line should actually be drawn.

    At this point - inspectors digging through my garbage can for incorrectly disposed recyclables or mandatory training for trans-gender workplace tolerance would not come as a shock.

    What new insanity will we encounter that we have not already experienced?!

    By: Holden Caufield

    The Final Trawl

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    Burglary/Invasion: Learn from my experience

    I think it’s a pretty common feeling among the prepping community that we’re “ready for anything.” I mean, when you’ve planned for an end of the world scenario, a bit of crime in the neighborhood or a hurricane knocking out the power seems quite minor in comparison. Hell, I thought the same thing … all the way up until I heard my neighbor let out a scream that made most horror movies sound like Saturday morning cartoons.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me set the scene for you. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m from the southern United States, but I’m currently living in South Africa. As you may or may not know, crime here has reached epidemic levels. I don’t consider it safe to walk down the street outside of our complex after dark. Most houses have bars on the windows and doors, as seen in our previous articles, and complexes of flats generally sport eight to ten foot walls with electric fencing on the top. It’s not exactly Mayberry.

    All this being understood, our area is par for the course. We have a large concrete wall with electric fencing, an electric gate, and armed private security that responds faster than most police departments in the United States. The regular police here normally take anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes to pitch up after being called.

    Well on this particular night, I was sitting at my computer reading over some prepping material. It was around one in the morning, and my better half and the dogs were snoozing away. Deep in thought, I was suddenly jarred as a scream the likes of which I had never heard echoed down the stairwell of our four flat, one hundred year old house. The hair stood straight up on the back of my neck and both dogs started barking furiously. “What in God’s name … “

    I stood up and tried to quiet the dogs so I could hear what was going on. My mind was racing. Another scream and a door slamming open. “Someone . . help … (scream) … flat … knife … (scream)” I absentmindedly thought to grab for a pistol that wasn’t there. Between the human rights violating gun laws, and the fact that I’m not a citizen of this country, my .40 is still sitting in a gun case in the US. Our biggest dog was trying to muscle his way out of his crate. “Better than nothing,” I thought. I popped the latch and put him into a down/stay in the middle of the living room. The barking was painfully loud.

    There was a fumbling and banging of feet coming down the wooden stairs in the main hallway along with more screaming. “Help! Please help! Let me in! Please let me in! He has a knife! Help!”

    I was calm and collected right? I was a forward thinking, trained for stress, ready for anything, not going to be the victim, prepper.

    Wrong. My mind froze. I panicked. Where had I put the keys to the front door? I scrambled to the key rack, patting my pockets, looking desperately for one of the two sets of keys that would open the doorway to the hall.

    “Help! Open the door! Help me! Please!”

    The keys weren’t on the hanger. “Oh my God!” I screamed in my head. “She’s going to get stabbed!”

    “Where are the keys?!” I yelled to my now fully awake partner. “Aren’t they on the rack?!” she screamed back.

    “Please help!” My neighbor continued to pound on the door.

    As if someone pulled the blinders off of my eyes, I looked down on the couch to see both sets of keys side by side, in plain view. How many times had I looked directly at them?

    I quickly fumbled to unlock the door, pulled it open just enough to squeeze a person through, yanked my neighbor inside and threw all my weight back against it. The auto lock latched as I turned the deadbolt.

    She was white as I’ve ever seen a living person. By this time, three of the four panic alarms were going off. Out of breath, she collapsed onto the couch and managed to get out an abbreviated version of events. I later received the whole story.

    Her flat is on the second story of the house, and has a decent sized balcony.

    She decided to go outside for a last cigarette before bed, and after opening the door, came face to face with a burglar who had manged to bypass a wall, electric fencing, razor wire, and a two story climb. He grinned and took a step towards her as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a knife. That’s when I heard the initial scream. Stepping back, she slammed the door to the balcony, rushed out her front door, down the stairs, and started banging on my door.

    The private security company was in the hallway within about forty five seconds of the whole ordeal kicking off. They had been down the street patrolling after a series of break ins, apparently committed by the same two guys that had tried their luck with my neighbor. Guns drawn, they cleared the stairwell and the entire upstairs flat. The police showed up twenty minutes later. I’m told they caught the guy that was the look out, but the one on the balcony jumped into the garden and made away into the night.

    At the end of the night everyone was fine, though shaken, and I even managed to get a bit of sleep.

    So what can you take away from this story? The amount of time that transpired while I was frantically searching for the keys was no more than ten seconds. It seemed like an eternity though, and I was still shocked, and a bit ashamed of how my constitution seemed to have utterly failed me when faced with an actual emergency. If the intruder had been pursuing here, the situation could have ended much worse.

    No matter how cool and collected you think you are. No matter how many articles you’ve read, videos you’ve watched, books you’ve highlighted, and imagined scenarios you’ve rehearsed in your head, never assume you’re totally prepared for an emergency situation.

    On that night, I had a rude awakening. I implore you to learn from my experience.

    Keep safe.

    By: Will Archer

    The Final Trawl

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    Beef Jerky Box: Part 2

    Alright, so you’ve hopefully had some time to put together your own jerky box, and now you’re ready to hang some meat. As it turns out, there isn’t as much to it as I once feared.

    The best cut of meat for the job is probably Silverside, or what we call London Broil in the US. It’s a nice, lean, flavorful meat that is generally agreed upon to make some fantastic jerky or biltong. Head to your butcher and ask for about four to five pounds (two kilograms) of the stuff (weight should be dictated by the size of your box). If you’re lazy or don’t have sharp knives at home, have the butcher slice the meat for you! Be sure if he cuts it, or you cut it, to slice with the grain!

    Thickness of the slices has a pretty big impact on how long the meat takes to dry, and how soft or hard it’s going to end up. Larger pieces are obviously going to take longer. I went for about an inch thick and about six to eight inches long. This isn’t an exact science, folks. Whatever you decide, be sure to get them all cut about the same so everything drys at about the same pace.

    I would highly recommend getting game instead of beef. It’s actually cheapest here to get Kudu, which is what I ended up going with, but something along the lines of venison will work great. Fresh meat is key! Don’t buy it in packs unless you have to. For some reason, and don’t ask me why, it tends to mold more frequently.

    Once you have it home, wash your hands with soap, and then rinse the meat off and put it on a plate. Let it set on the plate for a bit until most of the water has settled off, and then dump that water.

    Now comes the messy part. Depending on which route you decide to go, you’re going to need a couple of ingredients. Here in South Africa, we have “Biltong Spice” available for purchase at almost any decent Afrikaans butcher. It’s basically salt, pepper, coriander, and a titch of baking soda to fight mold.

    Being a lot of our readers live in the US, I suggest you follow these instructions for preparing the spices and the meat (half way down). They’re straight forward and easy to follow.

    Below is what I ended up using as per instruction from a giant of an Afrikaans butcher that has probably been drying meat longer than I’ve been alive.


    - Store/Internet bought biltong spice

    - Apple Cider Vinegar

    Biltong Prep Instructions:

    - Pour apple cider vinegar into a small cup

    - Dip a small brush into vinegar and lightly spread it over all sides of the meat

    - Liberally sprinkle the biltong spice over the meat

    - Let the meat sit in a glass or plastic container, layered, and covered for 18 hours in a cool, dry place

    Alternatively, if you want to make jerky, there are thousands of recipes on the internet from Billy Bob Joe’s Jerky Madness to Alton Brown from the Food Network. There’s not as much “tradition” involved. Pick your style and have at it. Regular, spicy, chili, soy, Hawaiian … seasoning is all about taste, and I don’t know what you’re going to like!

    We’re all about using what we have, right? Well I didn’t much feel like buying a giant coil of wire and cutting out individual hooks … so I used giant paperclips instead. It worked perfectly, even if they’re not much to look at.

    When putting the meat on the hooks, aim about an inch or so down from the tip and hang the thickest part on top. You don’t want it breaking and flopping to the bottom of your tray.

    Speaking of messes, I decided to cover the bottom of my tray with foil and poke the holes through so the warm, dry air could still make its way up and out. It’s going to be a hell of a lot easier than scraping at dry goo juice in a week.

    Now just hang em’ up and let em’ dry! You should expect to wait 5-8 days depending on how dry you like your meat.

    Check in on your meat every now and again to make sure you’re not getting a mold or bug invasion. You can avoid mold by making sure the strips aren’t touching each other or the box. Also, it’s not going to hurt to put your box in front of a fan to keep the airflow moving. Some people even stick computer fans in theirs. Too much admin for me, but your mileage may vary.

    I’ll let you all know how it turns out. Keep those fingers crossed!

    By: Will Archer

    The Final Trawl

    Notes: 1 note

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    Musing for the Masses

    I’m not going to try to disect the article listed below. Suffice to say, I believe there are some sobering truth’s to be gained from it.

    Horrible Bosses, Pitchforks, and Torches - A financial rebellion in the making.

    After you save to your favorites, do the same for Thank us later and get to reading!

    The Final Trawl

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    Overlooked Essential: Securing Your Castle

    Coming from a quaint and sleepy suburb in the deep south, it’s no surprise I used to find myself cringing at the thought of having solid metal bars on the house windows, or a gate on the front door. This sort of thing was normally reserved for, “the bad side of town.” You know, the place where crack dealers and gangster thugs insist on holding their stolen Glocks sideways when posing for Facebook pictures. So one could imagine my shock upon first arriving in South Africa at my girlfriends house.

    “Those bars don’t look decorative, sweetheart.” She winced slightly. “Would you rather wake up to a house full of thugs?” I frowned and pulled at the white, crisscrossing pieces of metal. “Huh.”

    Okay, so I hadn’t had much experience in the real world. And by real world, I’m referring to most countries outside of our own. Places where safety and well being aren’t necessarily guaranteed on a day to day basis. The police pitch up fifteen minutes after being called, not two, so citizens take measures to buy themselves time.

    One of the easiest ways to go about this is making their homes hard targets. A criminal is not going to expend any more energy than is necessary to get what he wants. Why spend an hour trying to hack through bars at one house when he can simply go next door and smash a window? This line of logic applies beyond the everyday criminal to a drifter or looter in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.

    Those of us that can’t afford multimillion-dollar compounds out in the sticks will likely be forced to hunker down in the suburbs if and when the balloon goes up. Unfortunately, it is likely the hordes of refugees flooding out of major city centers will pass through our quaint little neighborhoods looking for anything they can to survive.

    How will those glass windows hold up against a mob who has spent the last month watching family members and friends die of starvation? What about the wooden front door with the decorative glass pane? They don’t care you’ve already given until it hurt. They’re taking your provisions and with it, the lives of you and your family. Scary thought? Those bars aren’t looking so bad now, are they?

    Adding this extra layer of protection to your suburban castle isn’t as much of an eyesore as you might think. With a bit of paint and the correct pattern, sometimes they’re even hard to notice. The view from our house doesn’t scream prison.

    Our bars, that have been placed on the inside of the windows, are secured to the frame at multiple points. If you decide to fortify your vulnerable glass, I would highly recommend going the inside route.

    Bars on the outside are not only more noticeable, as seen in the shot below, but they are also more easily damaged without the home owners knowledge. If a burglar or looter wants anywhere near our bars, they’re going to have to smash a window and alert the entire house before doing so.

    Keep in mind that your castle is only as strong as its weakest point. Unless you’ve done some heavy modifications, the doors on the average home are not up to scratch. A few kicks as least, and a hand held ram at most, will render it useless. This is where metal sliding gates shine.

    The slam lock variety allow for the home owner to quickly secure a door without the need for fumbling with keys. These doors are also built to take extremely high impacts. Can your door take a hit from a wrecking ball?

    There are also the more traditional gates, but these require a padlock that can be more easily cut through.

    There are obviously some concerns about the possibility of a fire and an inability to escape the house quickly when needed. If you feel you don’t have enough quick exit points, consider having locks and hinges installed on a couple of key windows so the bars can be opened in case of an emergency. Common sense dictates they should swing inward towards the house.

    One last point is concerning the interior of the home. Sliding gates can be mounted almost anywhere! If someone were to make their way inside your house, having a barrier between the living and sleeping area would be invaluable. It effectively transforms one quarter of your house into a safe room. When collapsed down to the wall, the gate protrudes about eight inches and causes no inconvenience to hall traffic.

    Just because you might not need the extra protection now, doesn’t mean you won’t need it the future. Consider this as another way to stack the odds in your favor.

    By: Will Acher

    The Final Trawl

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    Nuclear War vs. Rabbit Slaying

    If you are reading this blog entry then you are more than likely not asleep at the wheel with the ultimate expectation that the Government is the solution and salvation to every problem we face - individually OR collectively.

    Additionally, you are more than likely the kind of person who desires knowledge to further your own self-sufficiency in order to achieve greater personal liberty.

    In light of the previous statement, you our dear reader, are being invited to join us today in recognizing the very real and dangerous mental disconnect between Candy Land (a.k.a. USA) and the Real World (a.k.a. anywhere outside of North America or Europe).

    Here in Candy Land we waste precious tax payers dollars and potentially damn a young man’s future due to a juvenile act (a bizzare act for sure but definitely not a crime that harmed any PERSON).


    Whereas back in the Real World we have a Russian General advancing the idea of pre-emptively engaging in Nuclear Warfare with NATO (a.k.a. USA a.k.a. Candy Land). Just another day in the life of a Russian General, right?


    So what do these two articles have in common? What can we learn from comparing these two seemingly abstract news pieces?

    Hopefully A LOT!

    Primarily, a realization that while we have persons in authority dwelling on prosecuting rabbit “killers”; conversely, there are powerful people with the means to lob nukes at us who are not afraid to make public threats concerning that fact.

    The last time I looked, this revelation of nuclear threat was not on the front page of CNN’s newsite (nope, looking at it right now and it’s not there). Doesn’t that seem just a tiny bit more important than following up to the minute news about a pedophile who held a job with a state university?

    Perhaps you are shrugging it off and asking if we at the trawl really expect nuclear war on our shores in the next fifteen minutes?

    Meh, not particularly. After all we are not fear mongers.

    Then again, the odds are baseline 50/50 for any event to occur. So, we suppose, if warheads start popping off in the next fifteen minutes we will not be completely confounded. Yes, running for our lives, but not, not confounded.

    By the way, since we are on the topic, do you realize that full-scale nuclear war is survivable, and that the USA is one of the only major powers that has no civil protection plan in place for such an occurrence? 

    If you want to know more about surviving a nuclear attack -> Click here!

    By: Holden Caufield

    Photo Render: Will Archer (All photo’s used under free license)

    The Final Trawl

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    Beef Jerky Box: “How to” dry meat on the cheap

    Jerky or biltong. Whitetail or gemsbok. Hell, I’ve even had bear, ostrich, bison, elk, and turkey. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, I’m obsessed with well seasoned, pull your teeth out of their sockets, dried meat.

    Growing up in the south, there was certainly no shortage of the stuff at gas stations and grocery stores. Anything exotic came from either our home freezer or the small time producers that often set up at gun shows, tempting patrons with plates of smokey, tooth picked perfection.

    But seeing as a bag of jerky can set you back the same as a gallon of gas, I started looking into making my own. What I wanted was a portable solution that would create the ideal environment for drying. Something I could build in an afternoon. Something I could easily run of solar if need be. Something inexpensive. Something like … a jerky box!

    Though not a new invention, it was certainly a new concept to me. You hang your wet, seasoned meat on hooks that are suspended in a specially designed box. The box material doesn’t matter. Everything from wood to cardboard to plastic works equally well. There’s a heat source at the bottom, normally a 40-60 watt light bulb, and as the hot air rises up and out of the box, it drys your meat and turns it into jerky. The box normally stands a meter or so high, but dimensions and materials aren’t that important, so use your imagination.

    I found my gem of a box at an antique store. Apparently it was some kind of farm storage container. It had a bit of rust, but at eight dollars the price was right! Check garage sales for old bed side tables and the like. If you’re lucky enough money isn’t an issue, head down to to your local hardware store and pick up a cheap, prefabricated kitchen cabinet.

    After an hour, a pack of steel wool, and two beers, I had managed to knock all the surface rust off … and several layers of skin.

    First, drill holes at the top of your box for dowel rods. Be sure to space them far enough apart that the meat isn’t touching while it hangs to dry. Also, use rods that are thick enough to hold a bit of weight. Raw meat can be heavy.

    To ensure you get the proper airflow, you’re going to need to do a bit more drilling. That jerky needs to breathe! Depending on the makeup of your box, drill a row or two of holes around where the meat is hanging and also down at the bottom where the light bulb is sitting. It’s not an exact science, but keep in mind that we’re not trying to make an oven.

    You’ll want a “drip pan” of sorts so you don’t end up getting blood all over your light fixture at the bottom. I luckily had one built in, but consider using a shelf or some other kind of divider that can be easily removed and cleaned when necessary. Covering it with aluminum foil should make for easier clean up as well. In order to keep that divider from blocking heat you’re going to want to drill more holes!

    This might be a nice time to interject that you’re going to be making a bit of a mess. If you’re using metal, expect a lot of very sharp shards all over the place. Though I did all of my work in the living room, I have a very understanding significant other. That being said, if she stepped on a a metal filing while barefoot, she’d be mad as a wet hen. Clean up after yourself.

    Now depending on where you plan to keep your box, you might want to add some fly and bug protection. Nobody wants bugs on their meat. I’ve opted for some fine mesh screening that I attached with hot glue. Why hot glue? It’s cheap, and I find it easy to work with. Use what you have.

    For the light bulb fixture at the bottom, feel free to wire something up yourself. I’m not going to explain how it’s done because I’m not an electrician. Does mine work? Sure it does, but yours might electrocute the hell out of you if you don’t know what you’re doing. Ask the friendly folks at your local hardware store if you need help.

    I’d recommend a 60 watt bulb for bigger setups like mine, and 40 watt if you’re using something a bit smaller. You don’t want the outside of the meat to dry too quickly and leave the inside wet.

    A nice light gauged wire makes for great meat hooks, and you’re ready to start cranking out some high quality jerky!

    Now I know it might not be the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, but it’s durable, cheap, and gets the job done.

    Don’t know how to pick your meat? What’s the best cut? Which spices you should use and how much? Check back soon as I’ll be answering these questions and more.

    By: Will Archer

    The Final Trawl

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    Taco Bell’s Gold Stimulus Plan

    I grant that the image below is fairly piss-poor. I was not expecting to take a photo with my ancient camera phone while pulling into Taco Bell’s drive through line, but regardless of its quality I think it makes a rather bold statement.

    Taco Bell Drive Thru

    When was the last time you heard of a fast food chain with a promotion to give away “gold by the hour” instead of a reserve notes, vacations, etc?

    I cannot remember a time, at least in my lifetime, where I encountered a sign that screamed, “Come eat at our establishment and win a real gold coin!”

    Is this the 1600’s? Did Taco Bell just plunder a Spanish galleon? Why would the YUM brand corp have physical gold to begin with? 

    S.S. Taco Bell

    According to their official rules page, they are giving away aproximately 200 ounces of gold at current market prices ($363,384/$1780 an ounce). And to top it off, Taco Bell seems to be distributing these “golden” prizes in 1/10 ounce weight coins.

    What are the odds of YUM’s marketing team coming up with this specific promotion out of thin air? Could there be a reason behind this? 

    Did someone at YUM’s brands sink company assets into physical gold which is now being liquidated via prize patrol?! Odd. Very odd.

    By: Holden Caufield

    The Final Trawl

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    AK-74 Review: Part 1

    When deciding which topics would kick off The Final Trawl, we thought we needed to include something controversial.

    A Rifle Review!(part 1)

    There are a handful of AK-74 reviews floating around the internet and as such, I believe that another honest appraisal would be of sound benefit to the “Prepper” community.

    Today we will be looking at INTERARMS Bulgarian-style AK-74 semiautomatic rifle. This rifle was purchased through Atlantic Firearms and cost approximately four hundred and fifty dollars.

    INTERARMS is the rifle division of the High Standard Manufacturing Company located in Houston, Texas. They build AK-style weapons from de-milled Bulgarian AK-74 parts kits installed on brand new US manufactured receivers and barrels.

    When I first began researching which rifle I would purchase for the dread SHTF/TEOTWAWKI situation, I asked myself three simple questions, which I will now pose to you our reader.

    #1 Are you living on a budget?

    Being a man of modest means, I put myself on a budget of five hundred dollars. This is roughly a weeks worth of pay. I could not with good conscious spend more than this as paying taxes, a mortgage, utilities, groceries, and fuel costs have higher priority on my budget.

    The US Census Bueru reported that as of 2009, the median household income in the United States is $52,221. This makes the USA the 9th wealthiest nation per capita with the 3rd largest population. For the sake of this review, we will use this as a reasonable approximation of what most persons reading this blog are dealing with financially.

    The price maximum of five hundred dollars I put on myself meant the majority of .223/5.56x45mm caliber AR-15 style rifles and absolutely all .308/7.62x51mm caliber FAL/HK/M-14 patterns were right out of the race.

    As much as I wanted a fifteen hundred dollar .308 caliber Springfield M1A rifle in my home arsenal, it just was not going to happen. As they say, “Reality bites!”

    In addition, I took into account the cost of ammunition as prices here in the states have literally skyrockets since 2004 and increased in momentum before the 2008 United States Presidential Election. The ammunition shortages in 2009 and early 2010 were worrisome to say the least. See the picture below for a scary confirmation!

    (This receipt pictured above is from 2007. As of October 2011, 100 count boxes of 9mm ammunition at Walmart is now $19.95)

    #2 Is this rifle a well-built tool to feed and defend yourself?

    My second question required that I find a rifle that was as effective a tool as my pliers. I was not buying an object of beauty, or a showpiece to take to the rifle range. What would be required was functionality in extreme circumstances. This tool - this rifle - may very well be called upon to save my life, the lives of others, or quite plainly just put food on the table. 

    Cost purchasing and operation aside, what a particular rifle relevant to the SHTF/TEOTWAWKI situation needs is “near” bulletproof reliability. The gas piston system is legendary for functioning repeatedly with very little maintenance.

    A rifle without a gas piston requires that the force of the expanding gas from the detonation of the primer cap and subsequent burning of the propellant to push the rifle bolt rearward. This action cocks the fire control group, facilitates the removal of the spent bullet case, and chambers a new round as the bolt moves back into its closed position

    The hot gas introduces unspent propellant into the receiver, thus coating the bolt mechanism with fine debris that can cause stoppages and failures to cycle. Now imagine additional outside contaminant such as dirt entering this system. What backup measures does this type of system have in order to facilitate the continued operation of the rifle? The answer is none.

    Here is where a gas piston system comes into play. The gas piston is a part of the bolt and sits inside of the gas tube, which is right above the barrel. A small drilled hole in the barrel and a gas port fitting connects the barrel to the gas tube.

    When a round is discharged, the impulse action of the gas moving down the barrel also travels through the gas port and simultaneously forces the piston rearward as the expanding gas pushes on the bolt face. Even if the bolt mechanism were clogged with debris, the action of the gas piston works to overcome any fouling that might cause a stoppage of failure to the feed.

    #3 Is there a solution to this rifle dilemma?

    Luckily, for both you and me, the answer to all three of these questions is YES!

    Because, in all honesty, I do not want my final moments to end like this humorous comic strip:

    So, a hundred hours later combing through e-zine articles, blog postings, rifle forums, and YouTube videos, I settled on the best compromise of value and performance. That was, by my estimation, the AK-74 rifle platform.

    The AK-74 is a 5.45x39mm caliber gas-piston operated assault rifle designed by Russian Lt. General Mikhail Kalashnikov as replacement to the 7.62x39mm caliber AKM/AK-47 rifle series.

    The AK-74 is the main battle rifle of the Russian Armed Forces and fielded in such conflicts as Afghanistan, Chechnya, and most recently in the Russian/Georgia War.

    This 5.45x39mm caliber represents the Russian answer to America’s intermediary cartridge 5.56x45 currently in use by the US armed Forces in the M-16 and M-4 variant rifles. Whereas the American 5.56 round has about twice the energy of its Russian counterpart, the 5.45x39mm round has a similar “flat” trajectory to the 5.56 with realistic lethality out to 500 meters.

    This reduction in energy yields a rifle with less felt recoil for faster followup shots.

    A reduction in energy does not equate to less lethality though, as demonstrated by this hunter who used a 5.45x39 commercial hollowpoints with great effectiveness while deer hunting.

    The Russian 5.45x39mm round costs .13 cents apiece when purchased in surplus bulk - two spam cans each filled with 1080 rounds of surplus Russian military ball ammunition.

    Operating the AK-74 will result in a 35% cost savings when compared to the Russian 7.62x39mm (AK-47/AKM) and American .223/5.54x45mm (AR-15) round which averages upward of .20 cents a round. 

    The average cost of the .308/7.62x51mm round is nearly .50 cents apiece!

    I made a careful comparison of the 7.62x39mm AKM to the 5.45x39mm AK-74 and found that whereas the initial cost of the rifle was similar, the operating costs for the AK-74 would be significantly lower.

    Also choosing the AK-74 would net several hundred meters of increased effective range, less felt recoil, all while retaining 50% parts compatibility to the older AK-47/AKM rifle series. 

    Part 2: Range Report to follow soon!

    By: Holden Caulfield

    The Final Trawl

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