Who is Nicolas Maduro?: A Look At Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro

Nicolás Maduro Moros is the current President of Venezuela. Born in 1962, Maduro became the President of Venezuela in 2013 when his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, died from cancer. In 2018, Maduro was reelected to the office by a with 67.8% of the vote. The legitimacy of the election was in question and deemed as fraudulent by neighboring countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, the United States, and Canada.

Previous to serving as the President, Maduro was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and served as Vice President to Hugo Chavez from 2012 to 2013.

Controversy

Currently, Venezuela is undergoing an extreme socioeconomic crisis. Many blame Maduro for his governmental policies, referring to him as a dictator. At present, the country is experiencing hyperinflation, the Venezuelan exchange rate is plummeting, and there is mass emigration to neighboring South American countries and the U.S. Over 3 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, citing starvation. The IMF predicts that the Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 1 million percent by the end of 2018, the highest rate seen since the beginning of the 20th century.

The huge reduction in oil production, Venezuela’s main source of income, has caused severe decreases in resources including food and medicine. Maduro has recently put a plan in place to revitalize the country’s wealth by mining for gold in the Orinoco Arc. The plan may be sound in theory, but to date poor treatment of workers, environmental crimes, and murder have been the only outcome of Maduro’s mission.

Citizens believe that Maduro’s form of socialism is what will be the downfall of the country, not the lack of oil.

There are other controversies surrounding the President, including his place of birth. By law, a citizen must be born in Venezuela to serve as the country’s president. In the past it has been stated that Maduro was born in Colombia, not in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. No proof has been brought forward to substantiate the claim though.

Background

Maduro attended Liceo José Ávalos, a public high school. He allegedly became interested in politics during high school, but never graduated.

In 1979, Maduro was named as a person of interest in the kidnapping of American, William Niehous.

Maduro began his professional career as a bus driver for the Caracas Metro company. He ventured into formal politics in the 1980s, when he became an unofficial trade unionist representing fellow bus drivers.

At age 24 , Maduro lived in Cuba with other South American leftist militants. He attended a one-year course at the Escuela Nacional de Cuadros Julio Antonio Mella. Reportedly Maduro studied under Pedro Miret Prieto. Prieto was a close associate to Fidel Castro and senior member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Maduro’s introduction to Hugo Chavez is unclear. The Cuban government allegedly assigned Maduro to work as a mole for Cuba’s Dirección de Inteligencia, with the aim of approaching Chávez.

In the early 1990s, he joined The Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200), a political and social movement founded by Hugo Chávez in 1982. In the 1990s, Maduro also co-founded the Movement of the Fifth Republic, the main supporter for Chávez’s presidential election in 1998.

Maduro rose quickly through the political ranks:

  • 1998 – The Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies
  • 1999 – The National Constituent Assembly
  • 2000 – The NationalAssembly
  • 2005 – Assembly elected Maduro to the position of Speaker
  • 2006 – Appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs

In 2012, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appointed Maduro as Vice President. Shortly after Chavez’s victory and Maduro’s appointment, Chavez announced that he would have to return to Cuba for cancer surgery. Chavez secured Maduro’s position as President by naming the VP as his successor.

Sanctions

In 2017, the United States sanctioned Maduro following his election. The U.S. labels him as a “dictator,” which prevents him from entering the United States. In 2018, Donald Trump placed more sanctions against Venezuela regarding their gold mining operation, forbidding any U.S. entities from participating in the process or from buying any of the gold mined in the country.

Winter Travel Safety

 

Traveling in Bad Weather

If you travel in winter you may be confronted by some unexpected things such as snow, ice, power outages, and more. If you travel by car, you could hit traffic delays, accidents, and breakdowns. Experts report that extreme cold kills faster than extreme heat, yet many people know little about extreme cold preparedness.

Winter Gear

Appropriate clothing is important when going out into extreme temperatures, even if your intention is to go to the grocery store. Wearing layers protects you from wind and snow as well as more dangerous problems like hypothermia. Hypothermia means that your body loses heat faster than it can make it. Extreme cold leads to stress on the nervous system, heart, and other organs.

Winter gear should include several layers of clothing made of waterproof or insulated materials to stay dry and preserve body heat. Synthetic fabrics like polyester or natural materials like wool are best for base layers; outer layers should be weatherproof against wind, rain, and snow.

Driving in Bad Weather

Weather experts warn drivers to stay inside when storms or extreme temperatures are in the forecast. If you must travel in bad weather, let someone know your departure and arrival times, along with your route. A mechanic should check your car to make sure that the brakes and exhaust are functioning well, that your tires are adequate, and that all fluids, including antifreeze, are full. Carry additional washer fluid to combat slush on the highways.

Emergency gear should include:

  • First-aid kit
  • Thermal blanket
  • Compass
  • Kitty litter or sand for traction
  • Water
  • Tire chains
  • Food
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Emergency signals/signal flares
  • Bright-colored cloth to mark the vehicle in a snowstorm
  • Extra boots and gloves

Stranded

If you become stranded while traveling, winter survival dictates that you should stay with your car if at all possible.  Leaving your car is dangerous, particularly if the there is a snowstorm, since the chances of being found diminish. Your car provides shelter and has heat as long as it has fuel. Run the motor for ten minutes every hour to stay warm. Crack the window to allow for ventilation and, if there is a lot of snow, make sure the car’s exhaust pipe is not clogged.

Tie a bright cloth to the antenna to signal distress.

Shelter

If you must leave your vehicle for some reason, you may need to build a shelter to protect yourself during a snowstorm. Stay as close to your vehicle as possible. A snow wall will create a wind block and help to keep you warm. Stay as visible as possible so that you may be found. If traveling with another person, use body heat to keep warm. Move around as much as possible to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

How to Store Ammunition Properly

 Ammunition Storage Box

Gun enthusiasts often buy ammunition in bulk, whether it’s for stockpiling, hunting, or target shooting. Ammo storage is key to protecting your investment. The rules for proper ammo storage are simple. You don’t need a gun vault or special equipment to keep your rounds cool and dry.

Temperature

Everyone will tell you that the first rule of storing ammunition is to keep it cool and dry. Experts store ammo in a temperature controlled environment, usually inside the home. You can use a gun vault, closet, or any location that isn’t subjected to fluctuations in heat and humidity. A basement may work fine in some cases.

Storing ammo in attics, vehicles, and outdoor buildings (like sheds) are never a good idea since they get hot in the summer. Heat and humidity cause big problems with ammunition. It can change the chemical composition of the gun powder, causing misfires. It can also cause corrosion of the casing. If that happens, you should just throw it away and start with a fresh batch.

Ammo Storage Containers

Ammo storage containers are available online and at most retail stores that sell ammo. You don’t have to purchase the most expensive one on the shelf, in fact, any airtight container will work. Some argue the merits of plastic versus metal. Others will use household containers like Tupperware. Adding moisture-absorbing packets (desiccants) to the container will help with the humidity. If you have children, add a lock to the container for safety.

Avoid using old metal containers as the seams aren’t usually airtight.

Shelf Life

Experts say that ammunition can easily last up to 50 years or more. Ammo stored in the original box should be used in the next 12 months or less to prevent damage to the cartridges and your weapon.

Surplus Ammunition

Surplus ammunition can be a great buy. Smart buyers ask the sellers how the ammunition has been stored as incorrect storage can make the ammo useless or dangerous.

Labeling

You should label ammunition for a number of reasons. First, it will prevent a novice from mixing up calibers. Second, it will make it easy to locate the caliber you’re looking for without opening the airtight boxes. Dating the boxes will allow you to rotate stock as you purchase new ammo.

Safety First

Safety is key when storing guns and ammo. Kids open drawers, boxes, and everything they aren’t supposed to, and that includes ammo storage containers. Parents must teach their children how to respect guns and ammo at a young age, so the kids know that they should never be touched without adult supervision. A gun vault or locked ammunition box (and gun box) are imperative if you have children or there will be children on the premises. You should always store guns and ammo separately. If you keep a loaded gun in the house, make sure that it is under lock and key to avoid accidents. This safety guide offers tips and ideas of how to keep your home and ammo safe.

 

 

Iconic Guns in Movies

Directors give guns roles just as they would famous actors. Movies have featured firearms from the beginning. The public’s reaction to weapons in movies have often caused sales to skyrocket, making the guns more popular than they might have been otherwise. Film critics and gun experts argue over the most iconic guns in popular culture, including movies. This list details some of the most iconic weapons on the silver screen.

Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry

Smith & Wesson Model 29

Clint Eastwood gave the S&W Model 29 its screen debut when he played San Francisco detective “Dirty” Harry Callahan in the 1971 movie “Dirty Harry.” The movie was the first in a series in which Eastwood carried a Model 29 44 Magnum. S&W built the Model 29 in 1955 and released it on the market in 1956. Remington produced the first ammunition, using a 240-grain bullet with a muzzle energy of nearly 1,200 feet per second.

Although there was a more powerful gun on the market, Callahan called the Model 29 “the most powerful handgun in the world.” Smith & Wesson enjoyed great success with its Model 29 as the movie became an instant classic.  Director John Milius owns one of the original Model 29s. It is on display in the Hollywood Guns display at the William B. Ruger Gallery.

James Bond's iconic gun

Walther PPK

James Bond 007 uses a lot of weapons and is known for his guns. Many weapons have been used throughout the fictional legend’s movie career but the most iconic is the 7.65mm Walther PPK. The Walther PPK is the handgun that James Bond used in the original Ian Fleming novels. The Walther PPK described in Dr. No, Bond’s first film, was actually a PP (“police pistol”), a larger model than the PPK. Bond changed models when he used a 9mm Walther P99 in Tomorrow Never Dies, however, he went back to using a PPK in Spectre.

Sylvester Stallone in Expendables

The 1911

This gun wins the day in many movies from westerns to modern day classics. Although it’s over 100 years old, aficionados and collectors love the 1911. It plays a great role in every movie it has appeared in, including a stylized version in “Supernatural,” and as the enforcer used by Jeff Bridges in the “The Big Lebowski.”

Bruce Willis in Die Hard

Beretta 92

The sleek Italian-made Beretta 92 shows up well on screen. Many movie heroes have used the flashy 9mm including Mel Gibson in “Lethal Weapon” and Bruce Willis as John McClane in the “Die Hard” series.

John Wayne in Peacemaker

Colt Single Action Army

No western would be complete without an appearance by the Colt Single Action Army – AKA the Colt Peacemaker.  Marshals and villains carried this gun, and it was stowed behind many bars. Wyatt Earp carried a Colt SAA, although it wasn’t the gun he used at the OK Corral. The guns are still used in Cowboy Action Shooting.

The Next Icons

Moviemakers continue to use a wide variety of weapons in their movies – real and fictitious. Along with the Desert Eagle and many ARs, guns will always play a part on the big screen and in popular culture.

River Trout Fishing: How to Trap Trout in Rivers

When the economy collapses, store shelves empty, and people start to lose their minds; people who educate themselves, practice survival techniques, and remain calm will be the ones who thrive. River trout fishing is a great way of gathering food if you know what passive and active fishing methods to deploy. In this article, you’ll learn how to catch trout in a stream using many different techniques. 

3 Traditional Methods for River Trout Fishing 

Before we dive into some of the survival methods of catching trout, let’s focus on the standard and traditional ways that we all fish. It’s important to learn and master these techniques so you can rely on your experience in a survival scenario. 

1. Fly Fishing 

Fly fishing is one of the most trusted small creek fishing methods, especially for trout. This is done with the use of a fly rod, reel, and specific lures called “flies.” The casting process generally involves a backcast where you’ll throw the line behind your back or to the side of your body to build up enough force. Then, you’ll fire it forward with the built-up power resulting in a distance cast. 

The reason why this method is so successful for river trout fishing is that it closely imitates what the trout want to eat. That’s not to say you couldn’t catch bass or panfish either because you can. 

To find an ideal spot to fly fish in a river, you need to find somewhere where the water slows down a bit and you’ll need a pair of waders. The reason why you need to fish from the middle of the water is because of the backcast. You need water behind you so you can throw the fly over your shoulder and let it hit the water. 

One crucial thing to think about is that it generally takes longer to learn how to fly fish. There are a lot of anglers out there who have mastered many fishing techniques but still won’t dare attempt fly fishing because it’s a whole different ball game. While it might be the best option for river fishing, you may want to master something else first. 

2. Spinning Rod and Reel Casting

The traditional spinning rod and reel combo is one of the simplest and most effective ways of fishing for anything. This combo will appeal to the widest variety of fish and it’ll be the simplest to master with many styles of rods and reels available all over. 

What you’ll want to pay most attention to is where you plan to fish. If we’re plotting a survival scenario and you’re figuring out the rivers closest to your bug-out location, you’ll want to get the gear with the highest rate of success for those locations. 

If you’re stream fishing for trout, you’ll need something super lightweight and finesse-based. An ultralight rod, lightweight reel, and something in the 4lb test range in terms of line will work best in these situations. If you approach the creek with bait that is too large and bulky for the water, you’ll scare everything away and likely come back empty-handed. 

When it comes to choosing lures, I find that soft plastics work best for river trout fishing. Anything that imitates a bug generally performs well because this is what the trout are used to eating. They come to the surface to search for these types of critters so you want to imitate that with your presentation. 

If you’re going to choose something else, I would suggest going with a soft plastic worm like a Yamamoto Senko or something similar. Live worms are a heavy target for trout so go with a brightly colored artificial worm. 

3. Jigging 

Jigging is one of the best trout fishing for streams and rivers.  Keep in mind that this is a highly active method of fishing which means you’ll end up burning a lot of calories and spending a lot of time doing it. While it has a high rate of success, in a SHTF scenario, your time might be better spent doing something else. 

The most important thing to remember about river jigging is that you need to find eddies and areas of the water that stop flowing. You can’t jig in moving water. 

Since the full presentation is on your back, you’ll want to cast or pitch it out into standing water and twitch the tip of the rod to make the jig dance. You’ll still use ultralight gear and jigs that weigh around ⅛ ounce. I recommend choosing colors based on your surroundings so you’ll want to stock up to prepare for a time when you can’t buy whatever you want. Choose bright colors on sunny days and natural colors on cloudy days. If the water is murky after a heavy rainstorm, you’ll want to use bright colors to stand out in the stained water. Keep in mind that jigging requires you to create the presentation so you need to make the lure stand out. 

3 Primitive Trout Creek Fishing Methods 

Only once you master traditional fishing methods should you start to think about some of these. While they’re primitive and simple for survival fishing, a lot of the previously mentioned techniques can be practiced in real-life scenarios so you can plan for the imminent future. When it comes to trapping trout in rivers, these are the best ways to do it. 

NOTE: Understanding Rules and Regulations 

The main reason why I say to stick to the traditional methods is that a lot of these techniques are illegal. In most counties across many states, creating anything that obstructs the flow of water and fish is illegal and punishable by fines. So, unless you live in a very rural area of the country or in a place where self-sufficiency is supported, practicing these techniques will be hard. I don’t know about you, but I like to be prepared. 

That said, when all hell breaks loose, you won’t be worrying about laws and all of these methods are fair game. They’re more passive, require less energy, and they can result in a much more stable harvest if you can master them. 

1. Trotline 

Trotlines are my all-time favorite survival fishing strategy for trout because they work so well in rivers and they require very little attention once you’ve set them up. The key is to rig everything properly and make sure that it’s sturdy so you don’t lose your bait. 

You’ll need some pretty large fishing hooks, durable line, and a plethora of live (or once live) bait. Many people use scraps from previously caught fish to rig the hooks.

Essentially, you want to drive a stake into both sides of the river (or use trees) and tie a rope or durable fishing line to both stakes so the line runs across the river. The mainline should have two floats holding it up so the line primarily rests under the water. From there you’ll put hooks throughout the line with a weight that stabilizes the line on the bottom of the river. 

As fish move down the river, they’ll see the bait and either strike it or keep moving. This creates a ton of opportunities without you having to actively fish the river. Designate someone to check these hooks a few times per day to limit the chances of the fish getting away or breaking something. A great pro tip would be to cement your stakes into the ground for added durability. 

2. Nets

Nothing is simpler than fishing with a net but there are a few different kinds of nets. A gill net is thrown into the water and pulled back immediately. These nets are generally used in saltwater fishing applications where catching shellfish is the goal. The holes in the net are large enough to allow small baitfish to pass through while still catching the larger fish that you’d want to prepare for a meal. 

Dip nets are the type of net you’re likely thinking about when you think of a net you’d bring on a boat. It comes with a handle and it’s what you use to pull a fish out of the water from the side of your boat. You won’t use these primarily for fishing but you’ll want to have a couple to assist you with getting the fish out of the water. 

Drift nets are the big boys that we want to focus on. These nets are completely illegal throughout most of the country so if you’re planning to practice this method (pre-apocalypse), be sure to do so carefully. The drift net will function much like a trotline with two stakes driven into the sides of the river and a net hung between. This will catch trout as they move down the river and the net will make it hard for them to get out. In a survival scenario, this is one of your best options for catching a lot of fish in a short amount of time. 

3. Fishing Weir 

Let’s say you find yourself in the middle of an economic collapse and society is in the middle of complete anarchy. You didn’t prepare very well, you don’t have many resources, but you’re starving to death and you need to feed your family. A weir could be your saving grace. This method requires nothing more than some rocks and some time. 

You’re going to build a trap like the one above using rocks. You’ll shape them into a double heart design with the second opening being a bit smaller than the first. If the fish swim into the first opening, you’ve likely got them. Once they swim through the second opening, you’ve definitely got them. From there you can wade through the two pools with your dip net and scoop up as many as you can catch. 

This method does require a serious time commitment with the initial setup and you need to have a DIY attitude because one small hole in the wall could result in a lot of your fish getting away. 

Where To Find Trout 

As you’re planning your bug out around river trout fishing, you need to know what to look for and how to decide that a location would be ideal for trout fishing. 

First, the more remote the river is the higher chance you have of finding trout. Trout are a food source for wildlife such as bears and bobcats and they’re less common along major roadways and near towns. That said, this is a good thing when planning a bug out because you want to get away from these things as well. 

You should also keep track of which rivers are stocked and try to find ones that are the most remote. That combination will result in a higher catch rate while also staying away from densely populated areas where people may go when the SHTF. 

Important Rules to Remember with Trout Fishing 

As you prepare and plan for the future, I want to leave you with a few important rules to always keep in mind for river trout fishing. 

Powerbait doesn’t work on wild trout. 

This point is always up for debate but the general belief is that powerbait is designed for stocked trout because it’s relative to what they eat when they’re being farmed. Wild trout do not have a taste for it so they won’t bite it. If you use it to enhance the scent of natural bait, you’re only doing yourself more harm. My rule is, if you’re fishing for survival, don’t use powerbait at all because eventually the stocked trout population will start to dwindle and it may or may not support the wild trout population. 

Trout fishing is best when it’s cool. 

Another known fact about trout is that they prefer cooler temperatures. Outside temps in the 60s are ideal so if you live in a place where it’s hot during the day, you’ll need to get up early for active fishing. If you’re planning on fly fishing you’ll want to hit the water as soon as the sun comes up. This is when the trout will be most active and you’ll have the highest chance of them hitting the fly. 

A Gun Collector’s Guide to Flags

Flags. You see them wherever you go. When you visit McDonald’s every morning, what do you see flying over the parking lot aside from extremely sick seagulls? A flag. When you refuse to stop driving your go-kart at the family fun park, what checkerboard-pattern thing does the attendant keep angrily waving at you? A flag. When you squint really hard while looking at the moon, what do you notice stuck into its surface? If you’re sensing a theme of questioning here, then you can probably guess at the answer: You see a flag.

Several flags from prehistory have endured into our enlightened times. Neolithic flags have reportedly been recovered from the Dingding Cave in China, although many scholars doubt their authenticity because they include plastic grommets and have “Made in China” written at their bottoms. Likewise, the supposedly Neolithic flags discovered at the Chütlhüldütl Settlement in Central Turkey were deemed by scientists to just be extremely dirty. But the flag discovered at the former site of the Aztec city-state Axolotlfrotlhuatlcolātlhīlpoctliacamolli appears to be the genuine article. It also features mastodons, however, which is truly unfortunate because contemporary scholars just aren’t as excited about the animal as early man seems to have been.

Flags didn’t really take off until Mediterranean civilization began picking up steam. In 1881 German adventurer Heinrich Trinkenschuh discovered a Neo-Sumerian flag in South-central Iraq bearing this message: 𒀴𒀥𒁖𒁣𒀡𒁤𒀉. Loosely translated it reads “Adamen’s Figs & Wine,” which we may assume was an early snack bar of sorts. Imagine Trinkenschuh’s surprise when he unearthed identical flags in Egypt, Qatar, and Jordan. These flags provide solid evidence that the Sumerians developed the commercial franchise long before Singer Sewing Machine Company thought up the concept in 1851.

Several flags made by the Ancient Greeks survive into the present day. You can’t dig six inches into the ground around Athens without uncovering a pennant bearing three Greek letters, such as ΓΔΗ, ΒΘΞ, ΩΚΠ, and ΛΥΛ. Also buried around these flags are empty liquor bottles, polo shirts with collars permanently starched in the upright position, and pills with cartoon characters imprinted on them. The exact purposes of these mysterious artifacts are still unknown, but preeminent historian Chad P. van der Veen has theorized that the Ancient Greeks were “total effen bros who knew how to effen party” (van der Veen, C.P., A Brief History of Effen Partying).

The Ancient Romans learned that the Ancient Greeks had made flags, and because 90 percent of Ancient Roman culture revolved around aping Ancient Greek culture they decided to make them too.

The subjects of Latin flagēos range from the mundane to the extraordinary. One flagēus recovered from Florence reads “Augustus’s Fried Oysters” in Latin, although no evidence exists that Augustus ever managed to franchise. Another flagēolis discovered near the outskirts of Genoa is made of mosaic tile. It is thought not to have fluttered very well, thus the reason for its apparent abandonment.

The most notable Ancient Roman flagēoli was unearthed just outside of Grosseto in 1935. Named the “Boombatz Flagēola” after the local doctor who discovered it, this banner depicts Jove disguised as an ostrich doing something genuinely reprehensible to several Vestal Virgins. (Vexillology enthusiasts solely appreciate the Boombatz Flagēolus for its artistry, not its subject matter.)

The Fall of the Western Roman Empire marked the beginning of a dark age for flags. The medieval Poles reportedly created beautiful flags around the 6th century, but sadly these were all lost when Bolesław the Dingbat put them all in one place and forgot where. Likewise, King Pierre Richelet Aux Pétard je Lorioux Oueuraxeux ordered all of Medieval France’s flags destroyed when he learned that a single banner poking fun at his receding hairline had been created by one of his subjects. Lorioux Oueuraxeux also used this insult as justification for marrying his cousin and invading Medieval Germany, which resulted in the creation of Schumstenberg, now a tax haven with a population of 14.

The British people restored the art of creating flags. They did so because their empire’s navy, which exceeded 83 million ships during its heyday, required flags as a means of distinguishing so many ships from one another. These flags typically depicted simple colorful lines and fields, although several flags depicting King George V in various lurid poses with the letters “SWM DTF NSA” were also flown from British ships’ masts.

The very first American flags depicted rattlesnakes accompanied by threatening messages such as “Don’t Tread on Me,” “I Told You Not to Tread on Me,” “I Swear to God, Tread on Me One More Time and See What Happens,” and “That’s It. I Told You Not to Tread on Me, and You Just Couldn’t Help Yourself. Now I’m Going to Stick my Trekker Half Boots So Far Up Your Keister That You’re Going to Taste Everything I Stepped in for the Past Month, and I Work at a Hog Farm.”

The Americans would proceed to create the best flag of all immediately after winning their independence – the American flag. This is the same flag that you can see when you squint real hard at the moon, but the Americans cleverly made more than one. You can find the American flag flying in front of government buildings, outside of sports stadiums, outside of suburban houses, outside of rural houses, on the backs of rural pickup trucks, and in the backgrounds of Republican politicians’ televised campaign advertisements. It is a really great flag, although communists occasionally burn it when they wish to make it known that they would like to be the very first ones sent to work camps once their ridiculous revolution takes place.

That brings us to the present. As we look to the future, who knows what exciting new flags await us one day? We can only guess which flag will be planted on Mars after America has put her flag there first. And surely mankind has not finished founding new countries, each of which will require its own respective flag. I only wish to recommend that none of these hypothetical countries put the mastodon on their flags, because honestly that idea has already been played to death.

About the Author

Alvin P. Twistleton-Twistleton is the former daytime manager of a Shoney’s in Little Rock, Arkansas. Today he resides at the Little Rock Home for the Mentally Ill with his wife Mrs. Elvira Q. Twistleton-Twistleton-Glossop, whom he made out of a broom and some rubber gloves. They have six children together.

Best Self-Defense Bullets

Obtaining ammunition was certainly no picnic during 2020, a year when understandably wary Americans purchased a whopping 23 million guns. (I pulled that figure from CNN but have no reason to assume it is accurate. Getting the real facts about firearms these days can be tricky, and it’s never reasonable to assume you’re getting them from big media or big tech.)

The best-laid plans couldn’t have prepared us for that surge in demand.

The big American ammo manufacturers – Winchester, Hornady, Federal Premium, Remington, and the like – were all eager to get their latest output into the hands of law-abiding citizens. Although, the pandemic’s impact on lead and copper production greatly limited what they themselves were able to produce, and component primers are still scarce. Overseas manufacturers like Prvi Partizan, Sellier & Bellot, Eley, Wolf, Tula, and even lesser-known entities like Igman and Sterling all stepped up as well.

With a surge in new gun owners, it’s important to make sure there’s accurate information out there for common (and uncommon) questions.

Most people wanted to know if a certain cartridge would work in their new firearm. Oftentimes these folks had bought a Glock 17, 19, or 43 and wanted to know if it would fire 9mm. Probably the most elemental question possible to ask, but understandable: Glock, a European manufacturer, stamps “9×19” on their slides and not America’s preferred “9mm.”

Nearly as many others asked me to recommend the best self-defense ammo for their new firearms. New and seasoned gun owners alike were especially disappointed this year because that .380 ACP ammo became exceptionally scarce during 2020. Chalk that up to the 380 pistol’s manageable recoil and ease of concealment, which are the two most sought out features for first-time gun buyers.

It’s important to understand what makes one bullet more suitable for personal protection than others. Here are the best self-defense bullets currently available, and why they’re good at their jobs.

ammunition

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

I’m including the FMJ because it’s the most common type of projectile, which means FMJ ammo may be all you’re able to find at times. To be certain, the FMJ is not one of the best self-defense bullets. Its simple solid lead core and gilding metal jacket make the FMJ incapable of delivering terminal expansion, which is the defining characteristic of a self-defense bullet.

But the FMJ has often been used to neutralize (or, to put it less politically correctly, kill) people. This is because the Hague Convention, which is honored by the United States and most other countries, places a moratorium on the use of expanding bullets during international warfare. The rationale is that a non-expanding bullet incapacitates a soldier just as effectively as a more lethal expanding one. It’s good enough so long as that guy can’t fight any longer, so why bring about any more pain and suffering than absolutely necessary?

In short, all the ammo the U.S. Armed Forces use in combat is FMJ ammo. (Or other bullets which also can’t significantly expand.) A 124 grain FMJ striking a threat with over 300 ft lbs of energy is not going to do said threat any favors no matter how you slice it, which makes the FMJ a worthwhile fallback in the event you can’t find something better.

Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP)

This is what I mean by “something better.” There are plain, non-jacketed hollow point bullets as well. These are made of pure lead, so they’re too soft to reliably feed into a semi-auto’s chamber, but they’re a perfectly acceptable choice for revolvers.

A hollow-point bullet operates on a simple principle. As its nose cavity fills with pressurized liquid and soft tissue, its surrounding core and jacket are forced to spread outward. This has the very obvious benefit of enabling the JHP to gouge a significantly wider wound cavity into its target than its original diameter alone could account for. It also lets the JHP exert more of its energy outward instead of merely forward, and furthermore significantly reduces the chance of overpenetration putting an innocent bystander in harm’s way. You only want your bullet to hit the bad guy, after all.

On a side note, the JHP often takes a lot of criticism because it’s “designed to be deadlier.” Question who’s making claims like these. A JHP isn’t designed to kill. It’s designed to stop the person who’s threatening immediate physical harm to your person, and its lower chance of passing through the threat has probably saved more bystanders than we could reasonably estimate.

JHP bullets are often available with performance-enhancing features. One of the most common among these is the bonded jacket. A bonded jacket stays rooted to the core when a non-bonded jacket might have peeled away from it. This lets the bullet retain the mass and resultant momentum it needs to penetrate deeply into its target.

Many if not most JHPs have skives (aka notches) radiating around their nose cavities. These strategically weaken the jacket, thus assuring it splits apart along a uniform axis to promote more reliable expansion at lower velocities. Some JHP bullets (like the Speer G2 and the Hornady MonoFlex) have elastomer in their nose cavities. This supple substance facilitates terminal expansion by getting squashed down during penetration so it can place more pressure against the nose cavity.

You may also find semi-jacketed hollow point (SJHP) bullets. These are also designed to deliver terminal expansion within soft tissue. They tend to expand a little quicker without a jacket to constrain the lead around the tip, but because the SJHP’s tip is relatively soft it’s less commonly loaded in semi-automatic firearms’ cartridges.

Soft Point (SP)

The SP is commonly loaded in rifle cartridges, although some handgun rounds also offer it. This bullet hasn’t got a nose cavity. Instead, its jacket leaves the lead core exposed at the bullet’s tip, which lets the lead flatten down as it meets with resistance from soft tissue. A soft point looks a lot like a mushroom after it has come to rest inside its target, which provides comparable benefits to the JHP’s terminal expansion.

SP bullets often feature bonded jackets as well, such as Speer’s Gold Dot and Federal’s Fusion. If you’re buying 223 Rem SP ammunition, it’s a good idea to look for the bonded jacket, because too shallow a wound channel may fail to reach the threat’s vital organs.

Wadcutter

Wadcutters are cylindrical bullets. Its awkward profile can make it difficult for a wadcutter to reliably feed in a semi-auto, which is why we nearly exclusively find wadcutters loaded in revolver rounds.

The wadcutter’s profile makes it ideal for shooting paper targets, as it will punch a much cleaner hole through a sheet of paper than the FMJ’s usual round nose profile could manage. A wadcutter’s flat, circular meplat (aka tip) also cuts a wide wound channel into soft tissue – without the need for terminal expansion!

You might be asking: “Why not just select a self-defense bullet that’s designed for terminal expansion?” Well, terminal expansion is only possible if the bullet hits its target with a high enough velocity. A snubnosed revolver is unable to give a bullet a relatively high velocity because its short barrel doesn’t give the propellant gasses enough time to transfer their energy to the bullet during ignition. That’s why if you carry a snubnosed revolver – especially one which is chambered for a cartridge that isn’t very powerful to begin with, such as the 38 Special – you may be better off hedging your bets with wadcutter loads.

Wadcutter bullets are also available with hollow-point nose cavities, or as “semi-wadcutters” which have slightly tapered profiles that make them more aerodynamic.

Non-Expanding Self-Defense Bullets

In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of non-expanding self-defense bullets (not counting the wadcutter, which relies solely on the diameter of its nose profile to inflict a devastating injury). Examples of non-expanding self-defense bullets include the HoneyBadger and the ARX. Look at these bullets and you’ll notice they have grooves molded or machined into their shanks. That’s where the magic lies.

Non-expanding bullets are designed to create massive wound cavities within soft tissue. Their lateral grooves pressurize any soft tissues they come into contact with during high-velocity penetration, and subsequently jet them outward in lateral directions – often at higher velocities than the bullet itself is traveling in!

Why omit a nose cavity when the JHP is indisputably effective for personal protection? Because the hollow point design has a couple of major shortcomings. First, it gives the bullet a flat nose profile that may complicate feeding in a semi-automatic. Second, if that nose cavity becomes clogged with debris like wallboard or thick fabric, it may inhibit the bullet’s ability to reliably expand within soft tissue.

Bullets like the ARX and HoneyBadger don’t possess either of these shortcomings. And because they’re made out of materials that aren’t as dense as lead, these bullets also manage to achieve very high muzzle velocities, which in turn grants a flatter trajectory and greater energy delivery at short range.

Buckshot & Slugs

We’re moving out of the realm of pistols and rifles and into that of shotguns (as well as revolvers that can fire shotshells like the Taurus Judge and the S&W Governor). Buckshot and slugs aren’t bullets per se, but their efficacy for self-defense is indisputable.

When selecting a shotshell for self-defense, you’re going to want to make sure you avoid birdshot. Birdshot is typically numbered between #9 and #1, as well as B, BB, BBB, and T. Although these smaller diameter shot pellets are capable of inflicting a deadly injury, they’re just not reliable enough when you want to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible.

Pick buckshot instead. These shot pellets are numbered 4 through 000, with 000 being the largest shot pellets commonly available. The police pretty much exclusively favor 00 buckshot (aka double-aught) in their line of work, but you can pick smaller buckshot pellets if you’d like to reduce your chances of over penetrating your target.

Slugs are essentially giant bullets, and will not give you the spread that shotshells are popular for. They’re extremely effective for home defense, as a one-ounce chunk of lead traveling at 1,500 feet per second or faster does exactly what you might imagine to its target. Slugs may also have hollow point nose cavities which enable them to expand, but take care – these powerful projectiles are pretty likely to pass through a human-sized target!

Frangible

Frangible bullets are made out of compressed metal powders. They disintegrate when they hit a hard surface, and are popular for shooting metal targets because they virtually eliminate the chance of a dangerous ricochet or splash-back. Many people use frangible bullets for home defense when they really want to avoid hazardous overpenetration. If you go this route, just make sure you’re aware a frangible bullet cannot expand and is still capable of penetrating a human threat as well as multiple layers of wallboard!

Final Thoughts

That just about does it for the best self-defense bullets. As a parting thought, make sure you train with the same ammo you would use for personal protection. It is crucial that you familiarize yourself with its performance before you ask it to do the most important job in the world for you – even if it is more expensive than conventional FMJ range loads!

Tips for Game Hunters

Tips for Hunting SeasonHunters in North America have generations of experience in hunting game, whether its small game or larger animals like deer, elk or bear. People hunt with rifles, handguns, muzzleloaders, bow and arrows, and even cameras. Whitetailed deer roam throughout the U.S. Some people hunt for sport while most hunt for food. Deer are located in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but they differ in size in different areas.

Getting Prepared

Good hunters know the rules of the land long before hunting season begins. You should study safety manuals and local and state laws before setting foot in the woods. Novice hunters often get advice from their elders as well as training instructors. There is no such thing as having too much knowledge.

Know the Rules

Every state has specific laws about hunting. Game wardens protect certain areas of the land and also enforce the rules that should be observed by hunters. You should choose a location that suits your purpose while making sure it’s legal, whether it is on public or private land. Hunters planning to set up on private land must have the owner’s permission. The state must issue a license no matter what you hunt or with what type of weapon. Game Wardens also regulate the type of ammunition that can be used. Old-timers who know the rules should brush up in case of any changes in the law.

Tools

Hunters love guns and accessories, but there are more things that should be on the list to make your hunting trip a success. The list of a hunter’s tools includes the gun using (.30-30, .243 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, handgun or bow), camouflage clothing, weather-proof outer wear, compass, ammunition, food, water, cell phone, and a hunting knife, for starters. Unprepared hunters can often end up injured, missing, or worse.

Location is Everything

Animals have magnificent senses. They count on those senses to survive. Every seasoned hunter has an opinion on how to hunt deer, whether it involves stalking them in the woods or by sitting in a tree stand. Smart hunters know the lay of the land before they go out into the woods, usually in the dark. You should know how to spot and track the signs of different animals. You should learn to listen for rustling in the woods as well as knowing what sounds the animals makes. Don’t get so caught up in tracking your prey that you get lost. It is easy to get lost in the woods, especially in the winter.

Get a Hunting Buddy

Hunters often hunt alone, but it’s not a wise move. You could get injured and not make it home safely. You could break an ankle or be cornered by an animal. If you must travel alone, carry a flare gun and a cell phone to call for help. The buddy system guarantees that you can get help if needed. A buddy also makes the hunting trip more fun.

Enjoy the Experience

Experts call hunting the ultimate sport. No matter what you hunt, ensure that you practice safe habits and are using the right tools. You should never leave an injured animal to die. Most of all, enjoy the experience.

Best 1911 Pistols

Gold custom 1911

Firearms enthusiasts have many weapons to choose from, but there are few who are more devoted to their guns than those who own 1911 pistols. The 1911 is known for its excellent steel frame and adjustable trigger. Some complain that the trigger, while the best on the market, requires a breaking in period. You may find a gun that’s more advanced, but never one that’s as iconic as the 1911.

History

John Moses Browning designed many weapons during his career, including the 1911 .45 ACP, Winchester 30-30, Remington Model 11, and Browning High Power. He also supplied the military with the Browning Automatic Rifle and Browning .50 caliber Machine Gun, along with many .30 caliber and .50 caliber machine guns made by Colt. Browning held 128 gun patents, creating many famous firearms during his forty-seven years as an inventor.

In 1889, Browning began to experiment with self-loading weapons. Browning converted Winchester’s 1873 lever-action model to an autoloader. He used the principle of using the action of gas at the muzzle to create Colt’s Model 1895 machine gun, which was referred to as the “Browning Potato Digger.”  The Army asked Colt to create a .45 caliber cartridge. Browning modified a .38 autoloader to handle a .45 cartridge. The Army conducted grueling field trials on Browning’s gun. Experts asked for changes and more tests. Browning made the changes and developed the M1911, a locked-breech, single-action semi-automatic pistol. On March 29th, 1911, the Army adopted Colt’s .45 Automatic pistol, the Model 1911.

The Best 1911 Pistols

Springfield Armory 1911 Range Officer Semi Auto Pistol – .45 ACP/9mm

Springfield produces high quality guns and their 1911s are no exception. Their most popular guns are the Champion, Loaded, and Range Officer. Novices choose the Range Officer for range training and practice. The gun gives off low recoil and has excellent accuracy. The beginner-friendly firearm sells for less than $1000.

Ruger SR1911 .45 ACP Semi Auto Pistol

Ruger makes a classically designed pistol with modern features. Its solid construction provides many years of regular use. Its all metal, lightweight frame is easy to handle and offers high accuracy. Ruger designed the gun to appear like the original but has added modern safety features, including an oversized beavertail thumb safety.

Smith & Wesson SW1911 E-Series – .45 ACP/9mm

Smith & Wesson introduced its 1911 series in 2003. They introduced their lineup of 1911 pistols in 2003. S&W upgraded its SW1911 to make the SW1911 E-Series, with a tactical rail, 5” barrel, precision trigger, and tritium night sights for front and back. One negative is the price, listing at over $1000.

SIG Sauer 1911 Emperor Scorpion .45 ACP Centerfire Pistol

SIG Sauer offers the 1911 Emperor Scorpion, a .45 ACP centerfire pistol. It features a stainless steel frame and slides, made with American parts. The pistol is heavy but has a Hogue Magwell grip, high level of accuracy and a superior trigger.

Colt Combat Elite

Colt make high quality firearms. They released the first 1911, so it makes sense that one of their models would make the short list. Colts makes the Combat Elite with forged steel, and offers a single safety side lock, Novak low sight, enhanced hammer, and a beavertail grip safety. The MSRP is $1000.

The History of U.S. Prisons

2014 picture of the Old Jail in Barnstable, MA

The United States has more prisoners than any other country. American jails have the largest number of inmates per capita – 655 per 100,000 adults. The number of people that have been in prison at one time is more than 70 million, or 1 in 35.

States have been unable to keep up with the demand for prisons or the funds to build them. As a result, private companies fund prisons and run them as profitable businesses. It seems to be a good solution to the problem. However, the prison industrial complex is a controversial issue.

Nineteen states use private prisons to house their inmates, creating a “prison for profit” model. Private companies report making over $7 billion dollars per year. Detractors claim that the companies view prisons as cash cows, cutting corners and providing bad service to inmates. Prisoners released from private prisons have a higher recidivism rate than those from government-run facilities.

In the Beginning

The U.S. Constitution is based on British law. Incarceration in England was rare. Police sent criminals to workhouses with bad conditions. The government hoped that their “houses of correction” would rehabilitate the criminals. In the 1700s the practice of reform began. Philosophers believed that criminals needed to become “morally pure.” Inmates often ended up in solitary confinement to ponder the error of their ways. When the first settlers came to America, so did the British rules on punishment.

The Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony courts built the first jail circa 1690 in Barnstable, MA. “The Old Jail” housed up to six prisoners, and was used until about 1820 when it was replaced by a stone building. In 1968, the Old Jail was moved onto the grounds of the Coast Guard Heritage Museum. In 1971, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While there were jails in America in the 17th and 18th centuries, there were no prisons. Colonists built the first prison in Philadelphia in 1790. The existing Walnut Street jail had been expanded to hold convicted criminals. The prison was established by the peace-keeping Quakers, who intended to use the prison for hard work, self-examination, and spiritual reflection. The plan was not successful. By the 1820s, prison had become the ultimate punishment. The government was able to keep criminals in horrific conditions, and to use them as slave labor.

Incarceration

Law enforcement locked up prisoners for a short time. People arrested for public drunkenness slept it off. Sheriffs told fighters to calm down. Those accused of more serious crimes were held over for trial, which usually occurred within a couple of days. Criminals were branded, shamed, or run out of town. The law used corporal punishment for more serious crimes.

Most people that came to America worked as laborers, so it didn’t make sense to lock them up for long periods of time. Additionally, the colonists could not feed and house criminals, so they were set free. The colonists did have a restriction on who could come to America from England. Those refused included rapists, burglars, witches, and murderers.

The era of the American Revolution changed things. The government installed two systems of punishment. One system locked up prisoners alone while the second system incarcerated prisoners in groups. At that time, the issue of incarceration was considered a Northern problem. Most of the prisons were in the North; the South used violence and the honor system to keep crime at bay.

Very little changed in the prison system until the 1970s. The War on Drugs began, causing an explosion in the number of prison inmates. States sorely needed funds to house prisoners and began to rely on corporations to fund the system. Prisons for profit were born.

Prison laborers provide big profit

Prison Labor

Prison labor goes back to the days of the convict lease system in the late 1880s. Prisons began to “lease out” their prisoners, making a profit from the work. Judges sent prisoners to plantations. Other common uses for labor were coal mining and building roads and railroads. However, the death rate of convicts was high.

The convict lease system died out. However, the government replaced the program with systems similar to convict labor. Chain gangs and prison farms became popular.

The 13th Amendment permits prison labor if the prisoner has been convicted.  The 13th Amendment states, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Today, privatized prisons make billions of dollars from inmates who are typically paid a few cents an hour.

Prisoners went on strike protesting forced labor. Inmates demanded that prisons pay them to work. They wanted to work under better conditions. In 2018, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and Jailhouse Lawyers Speak sponsored a prison strike. Inmates told prison officials that the inmates should not be excluded from the 13th amendment, claiming that such low pay equals “modern-day slavery.”