Short And Sweet. The AR Pistol, And The Mossberg Shockwave, A Raison d’etre

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Recently, the BATFE has “ruled” that it is now (for now) legal to shoulder rifle type (AR, AK, etc.) pistols that have what is termed an arm brace on the rear of the weapon. From what I read, the ruling originally made by the BATFE back in 2015 said that shouldering the brace was considered a “redesign” of the weapon, and thus made it into a “Short Barreled Rifle” (SBR). The BATFE has now reversed that opinion, and you can read about it here.

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On the shotgun front, we now have 14″ barreled shotguns with a birdhead grip, that are not classified as “Short Barreled Shotguns” (SBS) or “Any Other Weapon” (AOW). This is apparently because Mossberg figured out that if you start with a brand new receiver and register it as a “Firearm” instead of a “Shotgun”, the only length restriction for it was an overall minimum length of 26″ instead of that plus a minimum barrel length of 18″ (requirement for a standard shotgun) as long as it never had a buttstock or regular 18″ or longer barrel on it when built.

Regardless, I have been watching this for a while now. I have owned an AR pistol for almost two years, and recently purchased a Mossberg 590 Shockwave. Although I thought the original ruling on the illegality of AR’s pistols being shouldered was ridiculous, I’m also was not foolish enough to get pinched by doing it. My AR pistol was plenty accurate by shooting it with other methods that were not shouldered, but just as stable.

Why concern yourself with getting something like an AR pistol, when you can have a 16′ rifle. True, you can have a 16″ rifle, but can you legally carry that rifle loaded in your vehicle like you can a pistol. I don’t know about you, but I know of a few people that had something that was considered illegal (firearms wise) in their vehicle, and ended up in an accident which revealed that illegal item, and that ended up causing even more problems than just the accident would have. If you don’t plan on having any accidents, let me know, cuz………yeah, whatever.

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If given the option, you always choose to have a rifle for self defense if at all possible. Anyone who does not agree with that, does not understand the realities of self defense and the degree to which a rifle user can dominate a handgun opponent in a fight. Here’s another example. In my state of PA, you cannot legally carry a loaded rifle in the state forest unless it is hunting season, and you have a license. Guess who can LEGALLY carry his AR “pistol” in the woods….. Yup, ME.

Guys who talk about having their “Minuteman Kit” in their vehicle, but are using a rifle aren’t really what I’d call a “Minuteman” since they have to dig out their rifle and load it. It’s not instant access, is it? I already mentioned PA’s rifle requirement in the state forest, but here’s another requirement. If you have a long gun in your vehicle, it must be unloaded and cased. Guess what doesn’t need to be unloaded and cased in your vehicle in PA? Yup, you guessed it, a rifle type “pistol”. The brand and model you get isn’t as important as understanding the advantages to having a rifle type pistol, especially if you have a carry permit.

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As to the Mossberg 590 Shockwave. When I found out about them last year, I started doing some research and determined that they were not just a gimmick, but had some legitimate uses besides that of door breaching. I have owned a Mossberg 590 (20″ barrel, 9 shot) since 1988 when they were adopted by the military. Over the last 29 years it has had thousands of rounds through it, and never had one issue. I carried a 590 in Iraq (18.5″ barrel, 6 shot), and it’s function was flawless when in use.

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One of the reasons I am partial to Mossberg’s pump shotguns is because of the placement of their safety. It is completely ambidextrous, and having not only hunted with, but also qualified with and carried an Rem 870 as a duty weapon ( and it’s “less than optimal” placement of the safety for a lefty), I appreciate the convenience and accessibility of the Mossberg safety by either hand.

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The 590 Shockwave is a 14″ barreled, birds head gripped, 6 shot (5+1), 12 gauge with an overall length of 26.5″. What are some of the uses I’ve come up with for the Shockwave? Well, let’s see, can you think of a better gun to have in a tent when you’ve been woken up at 0130hrs by a bear intent on getting those krispy creme donuts you left sitting on your pack? Would you rather have a pistol or a short shotgun in that instance considering you are half asleep, it is dark, and a bear moves pretty fast, unlike you.

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What about you guys who have those nifty mantle or shelf gun holders near your front door. Look up the penetration levels of 00 Buckshot, or even better yet, #6 birdshot, compared to a 9mm. Read those, then tell me whether you think a shotgun is better than an average pistol (9mm) for an apartment. When I went out and shot it the first time, I took some birdshot hunting loads with me to see if it was at all viable as a small game gun.

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Both at 10 and 15 yards the pattern on an 8 inch target with #6 high brass was in the 80% range for shot on target. This target was over another bigger target to see approximately how many shot missed it. Would I chose it as my primary small game gun? Of course not. Would it work in a pinch for small game? Absolutely! Of course it would be easily maneuverable in a vehicle, due to it’s short overall length, and as already mentioned, people, especially military and LEO’s, automatically think of this as a door breaching gun, and it definitely would excel at it.

If you have a need for a very compact “Long gun”, and are able to buy either one of these types of guns, I highly recommend them. Are they a necessity? Generally not, but that is situationally dependent. What they are is convenient, and a lot of fun to shoot, even after what they can do for you in a defensive situation.

I know some of you get pissed off when people discuss legalities, and the laws pertaining to guns, but here is how I look at it. Can you get SBR’s and AOW’s in most states? Yes. Are they highly restricted concerning their transportation? Yes. You can either try to comply with what is on the books so you don’t have to worry about getting caught with a National Firearms Act (NFA) weapon and catch a Federal charge, or you can use what is legally available and make it work for you.

It’s easy to say things like “I don’t give a shit what is legal, the second amendment gives me the authority to Fill in the blank (carry concealed, own a unregistered SBR or AOW, etc.)”. Although I agree with your premise, when the reality of that statement hits you in the face with jail time (loss of freedom, probable loss of your job, and hefty fines, not to mention how it will effect your family economically and emotionally) simply because you wanted to violate a law you thought didn’t “apply to you”. In hindsight, you will feel like three kinds of a fool, and wish you had the opportunity to change what you did. Is what the Gov does to people in these instances wrong? You bet it is, but it doesn’t change the “real time reality” for the individual that gets caught one bit, does it?

JCD

I’m Up, He Sees Me, I’m Down!

mdt-patches1-1I decided to re-post this here after getting some inquiries about why I like this type of range over a square range. The A-BC Drill is conducted in every RBTEC class, and gives the students a firm grasp of the reality concerning the real world application of movement during fire over uneven terrain.

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28 April, 2014

 

Had a good class weekend (being in the woods training is always a good weekend). I’m posting a video that was taken to show the basics of the rush, as an individual skill to practice. The Mason Dixon Tactical drill being performed here, is the A/BC-Drill (Assault/ Break Contact).  I have students perform this, first on dry runs, then (after assurance that they are safe), the live fire. Spacing between the buddy team is about 20 to 25 meters across. This spacing is for 1) Safety, and 2) If you can do it this far apart and be heard by your buddy, closer will be a walk in the park.

As I’ve told students that think just one class is all that’s needed. Every time you take the class (or practice these skills in a safe place) you pick up things you didn’t pick up before. When you start out, you are so intent on the basics of remembering “Muzzle, Trigger, Safety!” (Live fire is SERIOUS BUSINESS!) , that you forget some of the basics like your  initial warning of  “Distance, Direction, Description”, and reminding yourself of “I’m up, He sees me, I’m down”.

As your confidence in your ability to “Do it right” goes up, so does your comfort level, and  attention to details. Assessing where your next position is going to be, is one of those tasks that most students forget initially. As they practice the drill, and they continue to perfect the implied tasks by order of priority (safety is THE PRIORITY whether on my range or in combat, unless your foolish enough to think safety rules don’t apply there), their ability and proficiency goes up.

A square range with set cover positions is not real world for the most part, and anyone who hasn’t trained on a true “real world” range, is deluding themselves about their ability to perform a buddy team bounding exercise outside the sterile square range environment. “I’m up, He sees me, I’m down” isn’t about how super fast you are (your buddy is covering you…right?) it’s a guide mantra that is going through your mind as you perform the task (the rush),  and it becomes second nature with a lot of repetition.

Once you get to the point that it is a part of your natural thought pattern when conducting the rush, you will notice your personal “GET THE HELL DOWN” alarm will go off when your up too long. “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast” right? Although we want to get from A to B as quickly as possible, there are threats other than bullets. Picking your route to cover isn’t as easy as picking your cover will be, and your need to move as fast as you can to that cover, while still watching your step (a broken ankle or knee in training or real world could very well end the situation very quickly, and not in your favor). A square range does not accurately simulate this threat, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t use one.

Perfect practice makes perfect. Start slow, do it by the numbers. Speed will come, but you don’t want to injure yourself, and set back your training cycle from that injury. I believe time is short, get trained while you can. Be a retaining wall to the jackbooted thugs that want to destroy what we love, not a speed bump. Which are you?

Here’s the deal with the video. It started about 5 seconds late, so my initial 8 round rapid fire burst, and my giving “Distance, Direction, and Description were not part of the video. I’m carrying my 15 lb, Socom M1A EBR (too heavy, right?), and my gear is the H harness and Tac Tailor vest from this post and it weighs in at 70 lbs. (this is what I train in, as that is as heavy as an LBE will ever be for me) And yes, my 6’1”, 195 lbs frame looks like a fat ass in the video (add 10 lbs. my ass), It wasn’t done as  a “look at me” and how cool I am doing IMT, it was done because I’ve had a number of people ask about the specifics of the A/BC-Drill we do.

On a side note, After seeing some of the comments on the April 29 re-post over at WRSA, one thing needs addressed and that’s “volume of fire”. We are not sustained by a gov logistics train, so the volume of fire you put out as a civilian defender needs to be regulated by how much ammo you have (no resupply from a chopper or vehicle), and the rate of fire you can accurately hit the target (whether individual or the cover/concealment the individual is hiding behind).

The rate of fire in the video is approximately one round every two seconds. This falls between the “sustained” (12-15 rpm) and “semi automatic” (40-45 rpm) rates of fire for an AR-15 or M1A (what both participants in the video are using) rifle. This is also the rate of fire which most competent riflemen can ACCURATELY hit a target they’re shooting at within 200 meters. We have no belt-fed machine guns to fire at a “sustained” (100 rpm), “rapid” (200 rpm) or “cyclic” (650-950 rpm) rate with the ability to change the barrel when needed, and we definitely don’t have the logistic support for them. Accurately hitting your target as opposed to “Spray and Pray” is what is called for.

JCD

Commentary On A Good Southern Prepper 1 Video About Training

I watched a video this morning from southernprepper1 that was pretty much what I’ve been telling students for years. Unless you have some serious, and long term training, you are not going to be doing any offensive operations from your base of operations, retreat/domicile. What will you be facing for the most part? Will it just be inexperienced looters and thugs? Will the experienced looters and thugs have experienced Infantry vets? Will the threat be experienced gov contractors or even the military? Obviously, we won’t know, but we can make some assumptions, based on what scenario (economic collapse, civil war, or limited nuclear exchange) takes place.

Inexperienced looters and thugs will be a problem, but most of them are all about the quick score (both now and after SHTF), and not “making a point” (continuing with the “raid”) when they hit resistance. When it comes to looters and thugs bent on raiding (home invasion) a dwelling, either before or after SHTF, their primary concern is the initial response of the home owner (security measures or armed personnel), and the response of outside support (whether that’s the police now, or a Neighborhood Protection Team after SHTF).

Inexperienced looters and thugs are easily stopped by layered security measures like security lighting, security cameras, locked chain link fence, heavy duty door and door frame, shrubs under all the ground level, first floor windows that make window breaches with a buddy or short ladder more difficult, loud, audibly piercing alarm, etc., but the experienced version of the looters and thugs have planned ahead and done their “Leaders Recon” before hitting a place.

An experienced group will know if they need bolt cutters, a door ram, and/or shotgun for a breach. An experienced group will know if you have security cameras, and will have ways of defeating it from a concealed location (accurate air rifle or suppressed .22LR) An experienced group will have a assault plan and special teams for different tasks. An experienced group will know how many exits there are to the dwelling, and either hit all at once, or at least have them covered once the assault kicks off.

Something to keep in mind when discussing this stuff (the defense), is that the defense is a Hell of a lot easier than offense (usually they are fixed positions and not much is required physically), and it requires a lower ratio of personnel (defense is usually a 3 to 1 ratio meaning the defense only needs one person for every three offensive/attacking personnel) than the offense usually does. Generally speaking, preppers and Survivalists need to make sure they have their defensive plan ready and able to be carried out (enough personnel just for that) before planning on conducting any form of offensive actions.

I’m not gonna bother covering what happens if you got hit by contractors or military, because if you do, you had better already have a squared away escape plan in place because it would be the “Experienced looters and thugs” on steroids (MG’s, AT-4’s, breaching charges that make their own doorway, etc.). You do what you can to fight something like that, but have no illusion that the probability leans towards getting rolled over, even though the possibility is that you could still win. This is why having someone who knows how to set up security of your site is so important. A knowledgeable individual (Like southernprepper1 said, not someone who read it in a book) can give you the layered security set up that gives you advanced warning and also helps channel attackers, and restrict a site breach for a short while.

Southernprepper1 mentioned needing to be in shape for patrolling, and having experience and solid training. This applies across the board, whether it’s a local “Presence Patrol” (defensive measure designed to keep track of what’s going on in your area), or a “Combat Patrol” (offensive patrol designed to look for trouble and proactively mitigate it before it becomes an “in your face” threat to your area or group.

When you are a patrol member, your physical fitness is not just about you. If your lazy out of shape ass gets shot and killed because you couldn’t put down the three times a day “Double frufur latte with extra caramel and whipped cream”, and never did an exercise that didn’t involve 12 ounce Bud Light curls, that’s on you, right? Here’s the other side of that situation. OK, you’re a lazy ass, but want to get in on the “Cool stuff” like patrols, right?

How many of your buddies (I’d imagine you are all close if you are spending the apocalypse with them) will try to extract you (either out of the direct fire that dropped you to begin with, or out of the area of the fight via casualty evac) and get killed in the process because your fat ass slowed them down long enough to get wacked by the original ambushers? How many guys that are in shape, but got hit and needed extracting will get killed because your lazy ass can’t even move them out of the line of fire, let alone out of the area of the fight?

Presence patrols are a necessity after SHTF, even if it’s just a patrol that doesn’t go out of sight of your retreat. Am I saying do it even if you’re not in shape or a physically capable of performing it effectively? Nope, not at all. Getting ambushed within sight of your retreat still has the same issues, the only difference might be the amount of support fire you might be able to get from the retreat personnel (standing guard posts) while you are trying to get out of the kill zone. What I’m saying is that you are going to be lacking in an effective layer of your defense (one of the outer rings) if you cannot perform that function. Your call, but this goes back to the question of “Are you just playing at it, or are you serious?”.

For the most part, prepper or Survivalist groups conducting “Combat Patrols” is ridiculous. You should always be defensive in nature ( you are not an infantryman without infantry, no matter how you appear, even if you were an Infantryman), and unless you are performing an operation to get someone of your group back from a group who took them as a hostage, you are asking for trouble. Even performing a hostage rescue is almost an exercise in futility unless you have some really squared away experienced (know how to plan and conduct the op) former Infantry type soldiers.

A while back, I wrote a post about Battle Drill 4 (this BD is for up to a platoon sized element, but as a civilian trainer, I have only taught it at the Squad/ 9-12 personnel or Heavy Squad/up to 18 personnel level) called “React To Ambush, “A WAY”, Not “THE WAY”. In it, I mentioned this, a 6 man recon team will probably do things a little different than a 9 man LI squad”. How would they do this, and why? A 4 man fire team or a 6 man reconnaissance team (LRS) will usually react to contact (in this case a “near ambush”) in a defensive way (break contact) whereas a 9 man Light Infantry Squad or 12 man ODA can use an offensive technique (attack the attackers) to mitigate their perilous “near ambush” position and destroy the ambushers in place through audacity and maneuver.

This technique (near ambush response) is difficult for a well trained, experienced military infantry squad to perform, let alone some “Fly by night” militia or Survivalist group to undertake. Although I teach Battle Drills 1A (squad attack) and Battle Drill 4 (react to ambush) in class 2 of the “Bushbastard” (RSF-SUTATS) course, I also present the caveat that breaking contact is the default for any enemy contact, and offensive operations are generally a “no-no” for any civilian group, simply due to a lack of competence, experience, and confidence.

Southernprepper1 talked about “No tactics are better than bad tactics”, and for the most part I agree. I also believe that people that are trying to figure something out by getting training, even if it’s wrong, will probably do better than the group who never tried to even get training. The untrained group will have a response based on “fight or flight”, not a plan, and their survival will be dumb luck. A bad plan (plans don’t usually survive contact, intact anyway) is better than dumb luck, and “No”, this is not the same as the “I’d rather have luck over skill any day.” line.

I have seen some pretty ridiculous training, done by people who have read a book and think they know what they’re talking about due to that info. Hell, I’ve had guys who received their “Bushbastard” tab tell me they want to start qualifying others for the tab, and I told them “Not just NO, but HELL NO!”, until they qualified for their “Bushmaster” tab. “The “Bushmaster” course is a five class course that teaches “Wilderness survival”, “Land Nav”, “Combat Leadership”, and “Train the Trainer”, and has a final weekend that tests all the applicable skills learned from “Bushbastard” and “Bushmaster”. The “Bushmaster” course is not even listed on the website because the only people who can take it are graduates of the “Bushbastard” course and I don’t want inquiries about it if you don’t qualify.

Regardless of what someone who has taken classes from another professional trainer or I can teach you, I have given people plenty of advice on how to find a competent trainer, even if you’re not going the “Professional Trainer” route. Look for a guy who is a prior service Non Commissioned Officer or Commissioned Officer of the Infantry (Airborne, LRS, Rangers and Special Forces are all different tier levels of Infantry).

If you think they are BSing you (there are a lot of them out there), ask to see their DD-214 and look at block 1 for their name (make sure it’s them), block 4a for their rank, and block 11 for their primary and secondary MOS’s (the infantry military occupational specialty is 11 series, and although SF used to be 11 series, it is now 18 series) and if they say they have combat experience as an infantryman, it will show up as a “Combat Infantry Badge” in block 13 (one caveat is if a guy was a Special Forces member in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, there’s a good chance he might not have a CIB even if he was in combat, due to the nature of their job and where they were doing it).

If the aforementioned guy who wanted to train you (especially if it’s for money) is saying he’s an experienced infantryman but responds with, “My DD-214 is none of your business.”, tell him to take a hike. He’s the one that says he can train you because he’s experienced, right? Make him show you he’s experienced. As to the professional trainers out there, I can’t speak for them, but I am more than willing to show my DD-214 (or any of my other applicable training certifications) to a student at a class that has doubts as to my credentials (just don’t be a dumbass and ask me to send it to you in an emails like some have done).

Be realistic when you are planning for SHTF. If you are like a few Vet friends of mine (they call themselves “mobility kills”. You’ll get it if you’re a former grunt LOL), you know you can no longer (or never could if you’re round) function as a patrol member, due to your lack of physical fitness shape (for this exercise, “round” is a shape, but not the shape we’re looking for) or physical condition (you’re physically broke). Either plan on having a defensive perimeter that is well thought out, multi layered and has serious defensive potential and always with a secured escape route, or plan on finding others who can perform the presence patrol function to become part of your group whether in your actual dwelling/retreat, or in your Neighborhood Protection Area.

Unless your patrol group is prior service infantry, you are not going to be able to function as the “Infantrymen of the 7-8”, no matter what some trainer tells you (no trainer has the time to teach the whole 7-8 in their classes, no matter how many weekends you attend, and as southernprepper1 said, you need to know more than a chapter from this one book to be effective as an Infantryman during Infantry operations). Applying the standards of CTT that I spoke about in this post is definitely within the realm of possibility for the average civilian (because everybody in the Army has to do it, whether support or not) that applies themselves to the training, and gets in shape.

I’ve said many times, “Be a Survivalist who is a “Jack of all Trades”, master of some (preferably the life saving and life protecting arts).”. We are not Infantry, and if you desire to be, don’t go to a Damned tactical course, go join the Army or the Marines. Survivalists glean the needed skills from many areas to better their chances of survival in the non permissive world we envision our neighborhood becoming.

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A game cart loaded with a ruck for a long walk evacuation

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Survivalists really don’t want to conduct a Bug Out on foot with a metric ton of crap on our backs or even on a game cart but we’d do it because we know we will never be coming back to our home. Hell, we don’t even want to have to walk around the farm with a basic compliment of a couple rifle mags, a pistol and a knife on a battle belt. What we know is that the lines between “what we want”, and “what is getting more and more likely to occur” are getting further and further away from intersecting, and it would be foolish to not face that reality.

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Basic lightweight kit mentioned in this post. Pistol, pistol mags, three mag bandoleer and a full size fixed blade knife.

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Another variation of the “Around the farm” rig that you can use. The one above this is more streamlined and less intrusive for doing chores than this one is, but this one has six rifle mags included instead of three.

Here’s the parting thought. When you are looking for a trainer, ask yourself, does this guy try to convince you that he will make me a grunt, or does he want to make me a Survivalist. A grunt plans for the day or the week, a Survivalist plans for the month or the year. Planning beyond that timeline is an exercise in operational (but not logistical) futility, considering the variables that could exist. That doesn’t mean don’t stock up on food, first aid supplies, bullets, etc., it means if you do, you should disperse them, but that is a topic for another post.

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Being able to live like this is necessary, but it is also worse case scenario, and hopefully you will be able to get by with the earlier lightweight kit options most of the time.

JCD

Brushbeater Talks “Survivalist Commo”

Here’s some good advice from a guy who knows his commo.

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6 Meters: Survivalist Magic

1005161506These days, nearly exclusively, when someone brings up survivalist communications, the default always resigns to some sort of chinese dual bander with the added justification “because its cheap!” Nevermind the fact that the build quality is junk and the thing will likely fail the person using it sooner rather than later, they keep being bought because the personality cults of the Internet tell them to…only because they’re cheap. But if one thought critically, all those folks having the ability to listen to hi band VHF and UHF might be a bad thing- especially if you’re looking for any sort of security.

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The VHF/UHF Basic Bandplan. Note the pink sections are for CW operation on 6 and 2 (50-50.1 and 144-144.1 MC, respectively). Although a bit dated, the diagram gives a good breakdown of the frequency ranges. Consider what your equipment is capable of, the potential OPFOR, and how to maximize capability to both effectively communicate and intercept.

Your area may be different, but around here there’s next to no activity on some of the other bands…you know, the ones Baofeng doesn’t make a radio for. Especially interesting for Survivalists is the capability the 6M band offers- with little to no overall traffic, great capability in rural terrain and many older repeaters sitting idle, 6M really needs more consideration for those actually concerned with creating a capable net versus those just cosplaying. Also nicknamed the “magic band” for it’s unpredictable long range qualities especially on SSB, 6m is just below the FM radio broadcast band (88-108mc) and the VHF television broadcast band (54-88mc); 6m occupies 50-54mc, with 51-54mc supporting FM mode. The band’s properties make it a very good performer in the hills with simplex use, and with repeaters can cover a broad area networking Survivalists spread near and far. The best part? Little traffic and well built equipment.

Here in central NC, many of the 6m machines were built by the same great group of folks, mostly retired engineers, and emergency communications was a significant

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Most 6m repeaters are robustly built from older equipment. Even a motivated newcomer with a Tech license can garner the good graces of an older owner of such a machine, adding a huge capability to both your skills and your area of influence.

focus when the systems were designed. Favoring converted GE Mastr II  and other converted commercial mobiles, these have been hardened and are designed to function when everything else fails. Although our 2m and some 70cm machines are similarly constructed, those operators on 6m are likely to be more proficient and not of the Baofeng-bandit category. Making it work in the field with simplex and not relying on repeaters, 6m has lots of options for those looking to embrace it. The old Cherokee AH-50 handhelds are a great find for those browsing local hamfest fleamarkets, as are the excellent Yaesu VX-5R and 7R, the later being a strong candidate for the most versatile and durable Survivalist radio ever made. All of these sets mentioned are incredibly well built and durable units; for those more serious about having great capability for years to come, these are excellent choices. Since they’re usually much higher priced, even a decade old, than their chinese imitations, many dabblers get scared away in lieu of the material satisfaction of buying junk…er, inexpensive stuff. Mobile and base options are plentiful but curiously underutilized; three of the most popular Survivalist radios, the Yaesu 817, its bigger brother the 857d and the old workhorse the Icom 706,

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Even an inefficient antenna such as this Maldol 50/145/440 duck have their advantages. Keeping a signal within a mile or so in the terrain as well as on a band not in common use is a good, cheap way to keep things somewhat bubba-proof.

each include all-mode 6m support providing a built-in capability for an excellent all-mode 6m station. Keep in mind that every operating option you have on HF, be it CW, Phone or Digital, you can do on 6m base to base.

Working the “magic band” is not without its issues however- there are drawbacks despite all the positives. For one, efficient antennas are large. Carrying a much higher signature than their hi band VHF or UHF counterparts, the antennas can be more visible to onlookers or get snagged up while moving through the bush due to size. Compact antennas can be found for the handhelds while moving or working, but are severely limited in the efficiency department. Not to say they don’t perform, they simply are a compromise between size and efficiency that some brands accomplish better than others. In certain situations this is not a bad thing. Another drawback is the positioning of the band itself. 50-54mc sits right within the military ground VHF band, as any user of the PRC-77 to SINCGARS can attest, and may be prone to interference from those users. Good gear and experience can both mitigate and turn this into an asset.

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One cool thing about 6m being sandwiched right in the military VHF low-band is that all of those cool diagrams from FM 7-92 and 93 all work perfectly. Those are two Army FMs that serve potential irregulars a good bit better than just thumbing through SH 21-76.

Although looked upon as a fun band by experimenters, 6m signals sometimes, especially in summer mornings, can be heard at incredibly long distances due to sporadic-E propagation, tropo scatter and meteor scatter reflection. This might get confusing especially if you’re hearing stations from several states away randomly, even on FM. Because there aren’t that many users, often people will lose interest unless there’s an active net, and encouraging activity locally can be tough. It’s also tough to convince newer operators to jump on board with new equipment, especially if they took the advice of a few and bought a boatload of cheap 2m/70cm handhelds simply because…they were cheap. But that being said some of the radios previously mentioned are not going to break the bank used, quality gear is worth paying for, and great deals can be found for those actively looking.

Despite a few minor drawbacks, 6m presents an option off the beaten path for the Survivalist group looking for something different; it’s cool to do something others ain’t. While low-band VHF might not solve all your issues, it’s versatility definitely goes a long way. Anyone in your group can take advantage of it with only a Technician license and it doesn’t parallel any of the license-free paths others are likely to be trafficking along. Between much better quality equipment and better operators on the band itself with limited users and great rural coverage, it might just be a Survivalist’s “magic” option.

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JCD