Edible vs Poisonous Mushrooms – What Is The Difference?

Overview

Mushrooms are one of the most striking and intriguing vegetation in the world – highly regarded for their nutrient composition. All mushroom varieties are characterized by beautiful forms and shapes. Though some have medicinal properties, others are poisonous and lethal.

Picking of mushrooms is steadily becoming a hobby for many people, often for food but also for recreation. We hope that this course will guide you in taking up this activity too.

Realize that many poisonous mushrooms will resemble edible mushrooms from other climatic zones of the world. Hence, it’s paramount that you are certain those you pick for food are harmless beyond any reasonable doubt. This article will focus on helping you distinguish edible mushrooms from the otherwise poisonous mushrooms.

[Editor’s note: Please consult a local knowledgeable expert and/or guidebook before attempting mushroom picking! You health and safety are nothing to be taken lightly as choosing the wrong mushroom can be potentially lethal.]

Types of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are classified into two broad categories: edible mushrooms and poisonous mushrooms.

  1. Edible Species

People normally have diverse reactions to the foods they ingest – this fact holds true for mushroom consumption. What may be edible for some people may not be necessarily edible to everyone. North America is known to be home to approximately 250 mushroom species. Edible mushrooms are those that pose no health issues whatsoever when consumed.

The safest way to identify edible from poisonous mushrooms is via accurate verification of their specie by an expert collector. Though books are an acceptable alternative means towards identification of edible mushroom species, it can occasionally prove catastrophic. Empirical identification methods such as smell and taste can be extremely dangerous as some poisonous mushrooms could exhibit a pleasant smell and taste.

  1. Poisonous Species

Poisonous mushroom species are those that cause health complications when ingested. Their mere resemblance to edible mushroom varieties has in numerous occasions confused mushroom collectors. In some cases an unwitting victim does not exhibit symptoms of poisoning immediately after consumption, but often shows up after 48 hours. Symptom severity, however, varies from case to case.

Poisonous mushrooms can lead to death within 3 to 6 days after ingestion. As such, it is very important that the victim seek medical attention immediately. Mushroom poisoning symptoms include dizziness, breathing problems, diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Some of the most poisonous mushroom species include the death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides, Amanita virosa (the destroying angel), Amanita muscaria (the fly Agaric) and Cortinariusrubellus.

Identification of the different mushroom species

There exist numerous methods for the identification of mushrooms and all methods should be employed when out foraging. The criteria include:

  • Do the mushrooms possess distinct smell?
  • Do the mushrooms change their colour when bruised or cut?
  • What is the shape, texture, color and size of the cap?
  • What is the shape, texture and size of the stem? Does the mushroom have a skirt/ring and are there any visible markings on it? Is the base narrow, bulbous, sack-like or rooting?
  • Do the mushrooms have any pores, gills, or spikes under their cap? If gills are present, how close are they? Do they fork? Are they linked to the stem? Are they soft or pliable and brittle?
  • What is the flesh texture? Texture (soft, brittle covered with hairs).
  • At what time and season of the year is it?

Remember to always confirm with various pictures and guides as mushrooms can appear different in regard to their age, the locale they grow, as well as the type of climate they grow in.

Difference between Toadstools and Edible Mushrooms

Although some varieties of mushrooms out there are edible, others are highly poisonous and lethal; however, there exist no hard and fast rules or test through which one can safely discern the poisonous varieties other than accurate identification of the species.

Most people are familiar with the common mushroom varieties since these are the edible mushrooms that are readily available for purchase at the supermarket and grocery. You may not necessarily go out looking for mushrooms in the wild, but many people are known to identify, collect and ingest wild mushrooms. Again, only people with appropriate knowledge and training in mushroom identification should collect and consume mushrooms from the wild.

There are so many factors one need to take into consideration when trying to identify mushrooms in the wild. In this guide, we will go through mushroom identification process regarding their habitat, spores, gills and much more.

Typically, physical characteristics (such as color and shape) are the first attributes one will notice. Upon successful examination of these mushroom traits, the identification process becomes much easier and usually straightforward.

We’ve categorized the main mushroom characteristics into four broad sections: the toxins, habitat, physical characteristics, and the smell.

Toxins

The main difference between the edible and toadstool mushrooms is the toxins present in the latter. These toxins are naturally produced by the fungi, and no known mechanism of toxic removal, including cooking, canning or freezing work for mushroom toxins.

Mushroom toxins are usually sub-divided into four broad categories including.

  1. Protoplasmic toxins – poisons that destroy body cells, and eventually cause organ failure.
  2. Neurotoxins – compounds that lead to various neurological symptoms like hallucinations, excessive sweating, coma, convulsions, a spastic colon and depression.
  3. Gastrointestinal irritants – cause vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  4. Disulfiram-like toxins that only exhibit symptoms if and only if alcohol is consumed (within three days after consumption); the victim will usually experience a short-lived acute toxic syndrome.

Habitat

Where does the mushroom grow? Is it growing on trees or grassland? What kind of tree are they growing atop or under? Are they growing in a ring or singly, tuft or troop?

Edible mushrooms typically grow in lawns or open paddocks and not under shrubs or trees like the toadstool varieties. Amanitas, for example, start appearing in fall and summer, especially on the floor of woodlands. They are quite common in most places.

Physical Characteristics

The following is a detailed list of some of the common physical characteristics that distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous ones:

  1. Warts or scales on the cap.

These are universal veil’s remnants that encompass the mushroom while it is young. Sometimes these patches look more like rows of raised dots.

Edible mushrooms have smooth and more or less white caps with no visible or noticeable raised warts or scales. On the contrary, poisonous mushrooms, for instance, the toxic fly agaric have a different colored cap (usually red with white spots) which has conspicuous scales and raised lumps.

  1. Cap shape.

Most of the edible mushrooms have bun-shaped or convex caps and sometimes with a wide low-hump. Other edible mushrooms such as chanterelles have caps that are concave and wavy or even trumpet-shaped. Poisonous species, however, have convex caps while young and flattens as the mushroom matures.

The cap of many edible mushrooms stretches from the stem as it grows developing a ring of tissue around the stem also known as the annulus. Toadstools or poisonous varieties do not have this ring around the stem.

  1. Base Stem.

Some mushrooms have a rounded cup commonly referred to as the “volva”, which is a universal veil remnant. To observe the swollen base clearly you may have to dig up the mushroom as it’s usually under the ground.

The base of the stem of edible mushrooms is narrow or not thick like the rest of the stalk. On the other hand, many poisonous mushrooms usually have a noticeably swollen base. The Amanita muscaria, for instance, has a bulbous base.

  1. Spore print

A spore print is an important diagnostic trait for identifying mushrooms. Identifying the color of the spore print can be very helpful as it helps you distinguish the different mushroom varieties. The color of mushroom spore can range from white to black and many other shades depending on the mushroom species. Some of the common poisonous mushrooms such as Amanita have white-colored spore prints.

You can easily obtain a spore print for color-testing by removing the stem and putting the mushroom gills on a dark or white piece of paper for several hours. Once you know the color of the spore refer to a mushroom guide to know the exact species and its edibility.

  1. Gills

Another distinctive feature is the size and color of the mushroom’s gills. You will find most of the edible mushrooms with gills attached to the cap and not to the stalk. This means that the gills will stay attached to the cap even when the stalk is removed from the mushroom’s base. The poisonous mushroom’s gills, however, are attached to the stalk and will remain there even after you’ve removed it from the base.

The gills on the cap of a young edible mushroom cap are usually pink in colour. However, the pink colour changes as the mushroom mature to brown or black. On the contrary, poisonous mushrooms have white gills that do not change colour throughout their entire lifecycle.

Smell

Another common difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms is their smell. Some mushrooms have distinct smells or a unique smell which can help you to distinguish species that are visually similar. Some of the edible mushrooms, for instance, the Chanterelles have a distinctive fruity smell like apricots. Some of the poisonous species such as Agaricus xanthodermus, commonly known as the yellow-staining mushroom are known for their almond scent.

When you are testing for odors, crush a part of the mushroom’s cap for best results. Many mushrooms lack a smell, while others have quite a distinctive odor; thus, make sure you have a local mushroom guidebook to cross-reference.

Also, you need to keep in mind that not all mushrooms with odors give a certain smell of something as most of them have vague descriptions like “farinaceous,” meaning consisting of or containing starch.

How to Avoid Poisoning

To prevent mushroom poisoning you must be knowledgeable in the various mushroom identification methods when collecting mushrooms.

Remember that there is no simple cut-and-dry method or set identifiable features to distinguish poisonous mushrooms from edible ones; thus, once you collect mushrooms, never mix the two species, and only consume the edible mushrooms that are healthy and in good condition.

Always preserve your edible mushrooms by properly refrigerating them, and discard any mushroom you are in doubt about whether it is edible or non-edible.

Although there are numerous poisonous species, knowing how to properly identify the various mushrooms species will help to keep you from getting sick and even to enjoy your new mushroom foraging hobby.

The bottom line

There are numerous mushroom species and knowing the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms can be a daunting task. Some mushrooms are edible and delicious, while others will give you a nasty tummy upset… maybe even lead to death. Please equip yourself with the right information and always take proper precautions when you are on the lookout for edible mushrooms.

Last, never taste a mushroom to identify whether it’s poisonous or edible because some poisonous species taste good, yet they’re deadly. Instead, remember to check on the unique physical characteristics, smell, and the habitat in which the mushroom grows to establish whether it’s safe for consumption or not.

Author Bio: Hi there, I am Jason Shiflet from HuntingPleasures.com – a website help people exchange knowledge about hunting pleasures!

15 Things You Don’t Actually Need To Survive Disasters

Last week I’d heard about a story of three family members who died during Hurricane Irma because they ran a generator inside their home. Although I couldn’t find more details, I did find this article about the incident.

Sadly, such a tragedy was entirely preventable by understanding what carbon monoxide (CO) is, how it can kill you, and perhaps most importantly: what items produce CO.

Here’s some good articles about carbon monoxide and safety:

And here’s a good article about running generators safely: How To Safely Operate A Backup Generator.

Anyway, what that tragedy really got me to thinking about was those things (or actions) you don’t actually need to have (or do) to survive in a disaster, such as with the recent hurricanes.

Now, I’m assuming that this family was running a generator to power an air conditioner because it was relatively warm weather at the time, but that’s pure speculation on my part. If they were running a generator for any other reason then it’s even worse because there are honestly very few reasons why you’d need electricity after a disaster.

Now I can hear you saying, “But, wait! I need to keep my refrigerator and freezer food from spoiling!”

No you don’t.

You SHOULD be able to do so… but you don’t HAVE to, especially if it means doing something ignorant like running a generator inside your home.

Regardless, you don’t need to have or do many things, such as:

  1. You don’t need power to keep the lights on if you have other light sources such as candles (not my first choice) or battery-powered lanterns (a better option). Heck, you could just sit in the dark but that sucks.
  2. You don’t need power to run a stove or oven or even a microwave if you have alternative cook sources like a BBQ grill or even makeshift stoves. (Note: BBQ grills can also produce carbon monoxide if charcoal-based and even propane grills can put off CO as well).
  3. Heck, you don’t even NEED to heat most foods so long as it’s been precooked, such as with canned foods. That said, some foods just need to be boiled to make them edible like rice, beans, pasta etc.
  4. You probably don’t need hot water either for any reason (except as noted in #3); this makes for cold showers and cold teas but it still works.
  5. Like I said above, food can be allowed to go bad and so the refrigerator doesn’t need to be kept cool. That said, I understand there are some cases where you’d hate to lose many hundreds of dollars worth of food and so you should be able to keep them running but it doesn’t have to be a generator that does it (hint: your car works pretty well for this purpose) and, besides, coolers and ice work well enough for a few to several days.
  6. You probably won’t need to do laundry in most cases since most of us have plenty of clothes in the closet which can be dusted off.
  7. You don’t need to bathe for weeks or longer in most cases (but I’m sure it would be appreciated by most people around you, lol). Even a simple washcloth rinse off is better than nothing.
  8. You sure don’t need WiFi or the internet or television… except then you couldn’t read this. 🙁
  9. I’d suggest that you don’t need your cell phone but it is our primary means of communication these days and so you really should try to keep it powered… and, of course, learn to text during and after disasters since they’re FAR more likely to get through jammed cell towers.
  10. You probably don’t need to go anywhere in your car if you’re hunkering down but I sure would prefer you had the option and so storing some extra gasoline with fuel stabilizer is a good idea.
  11. You don’t need almost ANY beverage (such as soda or beer) besides water to survive; sorry, you’ll live without either.
  12. You don’t need water to flush toilets or for most common household activities; keep water for the most necessary activities such as drinking, cooking, and minimal personal hygiene including brushing your teeth and the washcloth bath… and for pets too.
  13. In many cases you don’t need to air condition your home. Granted, there are some locations and times of the year where you’ll be miserable but so long as you can stay hydrated, in the shade, with a breeze,an so on then you’ll live. Of course, there are some folks who simply cannot tolerate the heat such as the elderly and so must be planned for.
  14. In some cases you don’t have to heat your home either. Yes, there are locations and times of the year where you’ll literally freeze to death if you don’t (and you know who you are) but most of us will survive by putting on more clothes and huddling under lots of blankets.
  15. You won’t need to do any dishes for weeks if you bother to stockpile some disposable supplies. Even if you want to use your dishes then items like cups, for instance, could be labeled with names and reused for quite a long time. I’d assume you could get creative too with your other dishes.

I’m sure I could go on listing items and actions you could likely do without in a relatively short term survival situation, but I’m sure you get the idea.

That said, there are some items/actions that you really shouldn’t go without. For example, any life-necessary medications or other medical equipment that literally keeps you alive come to mind. As such, it behooves you to have plenty of these medications on hand as well as the ability to power medical equipment for several days or longer if the power goes out.

Similarly, it would be silly to not be able to care for your basic needs, such as being able to heat your home if you live somewhere that you could truly freeze to death (as mentioned previously) and, of course, at least some minimal amounts of food and water. I still can’t believe people run out at the last minute to grab bottled water before a hurricane… ugh.

I’d encourage you to prepare yourself properly so that you don’t HAVE to go without… it’s not hard to do and I can show you how to get it done in only 5 minutes a day but you have to take action to make it happen.

Beginner’s Guide To Concealed Carry: Choosing Your Holster

CCW Holsters, Image Credit

Once you make the decision to carry a concealed weapon, you should make sure that how you choose to conceal your weapon is both safe and comfortable for you.

This means looking at a variety of different types of concealed weapons holsters and making a decision on what type best suits your style and your weapon of choice.

First, here are some basics to consider when carrying a concealed firearm:

What To Consider Before Carrying a Concealed Weapon

Do Your Research

If you are a true beginner, then you may feel overwhelmed by all the choices in concealed holsters.

The best way to combat this is to research each type of holster a few at a time, then expand your research to a variety within each category that includes shoulder, waist, ankle, leg, pocket, and pouch holsters.

This includes knowing which holsters are best for which types of firearms. If you are unsure, always consult an expert either online or at a local gun shop for advice.

Your goal is to find a gun and holster system that best fits your physicality and needs.

Take your New Holster for a Trial Run

Once you’ve made the choice in a holster, the worst thing you can do is immediately strap it on and go out in a crowd or other social environment without really knowing how it will feel over a period of time.

You want to get a feel for the holster on your body and how it moves with you with the firearm intact. The best way to do this is to wear the system around the house a few times while sitting, standing, and generally walking around with it on.

You can then adjust it accordingly, keeping in mind that all holsters have a tight fit initially before they are worn over a period of times.

Drawing Attention is a Deal breaker

The whole purpose of concealing a firearm is so that no one has an idea you are carrying a weapon.

If your gun and holster system is uncomfortable, then you will naturally pull at it, adjust it, and generally draw attention to it.

If this occurs, go someplace private and make adjustments and then return to a public area. This includes generally acting as natural as possible while you have it on.

Remove the Bells and Whistles

Sometimes a new item is like a new toy; we want all the add-ons that go along with it and we want to use them all at once.

This is not a good idea with a concealed weapon. The more stock you keep your concealed weapon the more natural it will look. The only extra should possibly be sights.

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is nothing more dangerous to you and to others than to have a gun and holster system concealed on your person and not be able to skillfully remove the weapon if you need to use it.

This could lead to an errant discharge of the firearm that could harm you or someone else.

The only remedy for this is to practice firing the weapon at the range with the holster on.

This also means wearing different styles of clothing including overcoats and zipped jackets. Practice drawing the weapon directly from the concealed holster for as long as it takes you to become sufficiently skilled to do it safely and with relative ease of motion.

Leave Social Media Out of the Equation

You may be proud of your new gun and holster, but letting the whole word know on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media sites defeats the purpose of a concealed weapon.

Because so many strangers have access to our social media through other friends’ threads and phones, it is never a good idea to brag on social media about how you carry a concealed weapon or the type of weapon that you carry.

Keep this information only between a few close friends privately.

Here are several types of holsters to consider in a variety of styles from IWB, belt pouch/pocket, shoulder and ankle holsters that are available:

Different Types of Holsters, and Where To Find Them

IWB (Inside the waistband) Holster

A comfortable IWB holster is the Leather Canted Tuckable Concealed Carry Holster, designed for total concealment.

This IWB holster has a design which lets shooters conceal the weapon inside their shirt, or inside their waist and over the weapon itself.

The leather belt loops which are part of the design are integral to the concealment of the firearm. It also is very easy to draw from this holster, especially for beginners, and it can be carried on your back as well.

Leg Holster

A popular leg holster is the Tactical Drop Leg Holster With Extra Magazine Pouch, owing to its comfort, durability and space for extra mags.

This concealed holster for the leg is manufactured with durable plastic that has a fabric liner.

Its best feature is a thumb break that can be either removed or adjusted to custom fit each user. There are two straps for the leg, and each has an anti-slipping exterior so that there is no need to overtighten the straps.

These straps also include elastic components that will expand when you sit. It also comes with an additional magazine pouch and both right and left-handed designs.

Ankle Holster

When ankle-carrying, I use the Elastic Ankle Holster For Concealed Carry. It has special calf straps so that the holster doesn’t slip down, no matter what pistol it holds. The liner is also soft and doesn’t chafe my skin.

This holster is a very basic design and made of all elastic. It is best used with smaller revolvers and pistols and comes with a small pocket for carrying papers or small documents.

It comes in left and right-handed models, making it a solid option for ambidextrous shooters. I like to use the Falco Elastic Holster when carrying my little Glock 43, one of my favorite pistols for CCW.

Shoulder Holsters

My go-to shoulder horizontal holster is the Horizontal Leather Shoulder Gun Holster.

A thumb break made of reinforced steel acts as an added measure of security in this conceal shoulder holster model, and the entire barrel is covered and has an open muzzle.

It also has a horizontal configuration with a cross-shoulder type harness. It is available as a right or left-handed model.

My favorite vertical shoulder holster is the Leather Vertical Shoulder Gun Holster.

This concealed gun holster is virtually the same as the horizontal version except it has a vertical holster at the shoulder as well as a vertical harness. It also has the steel thumb break for added security.

Many people think that using a vertical shoulder holster is only for police or active duty military. The truth is, that is usually the case, but there’s no reason the average civilian can’t do it too. I often carry my Glock 26 in a shoulder holster, which makes for a super fast draw.

Pouch/Bag Holsters

Probably the best belt pouch holster on the market today is the Falco Belt Pouch For Concealed Gun Carry.

This model has two front pouches—one for the gun itself and another for other carry items of your choosing. It is a zipped compartment that is easily opened and can hold a gun with dimensions of up to 220 x 140 mm.

You can see it at

If you’re looking for a leg carry option, you should try the Leg Bag For Concealed Gun Carry.

This model is worn on the thigh area and has a generous-sized pocket in the back for the firearm itself (up to a 220 x 175mm) and two smaller pouches for other items. Because the pocket is so large, a tactical light could be included with the firearm of your choice.

There is a non-slip material on the back of the bag and for added securing, a belt and leg straps are included in the design.

Conclusion

Following the prescribed considerations for carrying concealed weapon as well as taking the time to look at the suggested models should give you a secure and skilled start at being a concealed weapons carrier.

Author Bio

Sam Bocetta is a retired engineer and writer at Gun News Daily. He’s is an avid hunter with over 30 years experience.

Checked Your Fire Extinguishers Lately? I Haven’t And That Was A Mistake…

Fire Extinguisher,

Just the other day I’d decided to check on my smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and while I was at it have my youngest son try to put out a very small (and controlled) fire in our driveway just so he had an opportunity to hold and use a fire extinguisher which I don’t think I’ve ever had him do.

Well, as it turns out the first fire extinguisher I grabbed indicated “red” meaning it needed replaced; I gave it a try anyway… it was dead as a door nail. So I grabbed another one that indicated “green” and with a quick test THAT one didn’t work either!

I thought, “Uh oh… when’s the last time I checked these?” Believe it or not, I used to keep a good list of all the prepping tasks I needed to check on and when but, sadly, I can’t find the list anymore let alone remember the last time I even looked at it.

As it turns out it’s probably been a LONG time since I’ve actually looked at one of my fire extinguishers and, sadly, I found another one that needed replaced too. Surprisingly, the extinguishers I have in our vehicles still worked even though I would have assumed they–if any of them–would be bad since they’ve been exposed to both extreme hot and cold for many years… go figure.

The good news is that this has caused me to create a new prepping tasks list and, of course, to replace my fire extinguishers too.

I did briefly look into trying to refill them but apparently the type I have can’t (or shouldn’t) be refilled because they have plastic heads as opposed to metal ones and are prone to leaks… perhaps that’s why they don’t work any longer.

Anyway, just last night my wife was cooking dinner when the kitchen smoke alarm went off which isn’t unusual and so I didn’t bother to move from the basement couch as my wife was sort of yelling something incoherent which I did my best to ignore. As it turns out one of the burners had something stuck to it and caught fire. It wasn’t a big deal but I’ll take that as a sign I need to replace my fire extinguishers sooner rather than later, lol.

My suggestion: go check on your fire extinguishers and while you’re at it your smoke alarms just to be sure they’re still in working order.

Best Air Rifles And Pellet Guns For Survival (+ 5 Reasons Why)

If you are seriously into your guns and take your prepping seriously, you may have overlooked the humble air rifle. If you are anything like me, it’s likely you haven’t shot one since you were a kid, and don’t really regard them as a serious weapon, especially in a survival situation.

This is a shame, because I’ve recently realized that no bug-out bag is complete without a decent air rifle (or three). I’ve got plenty of friends, serious preppers themselves, who swear by their air rifles.

I know what you’re thinking. Air rifles are for kids, right? Well, no.

It’s true, of course, that no air rifle is ever going to deliver the power of a “proper” hunting rifle. In a survival situation, you are never going to be able to take down a deer, a moose, or a bear with a .22, and trying to do so is likely to get you killed. But I’d like to point out that in a survival situation you are not going to be shooting at large game very often, or at least you shouldn’t be.

In reality, the majority of the food for you and your family is going to come from much smaller game – squirrels, rabbits, etc. If you manage to hit a small animal with your AK (no mean feat given the recoil) you are not going to have much animal left to eat. Hitting small game with an air rifle is easier, and means you don’t end up with squirrel mush.

Hunting With Air Rifle, Image Credit

Beyond this, there are several other reasons why you should get an air rifle for survival situations. Today, I’ll take you through some of them, outline a few options you have when choosing an air rifle for survival, and then take you through what I would recommend.

Why An Air Rifle?

#1: More Effective

Why should you get an air rifle for a survival situation? Well, let me quickly say again what I said above – that for hunting small game, they are simply more effective. You can hit a squirrel more easily with an air rifle than with a full hunting rifle.

#2: Relatively Powerful

And don’t think that just because you used one when you were a kid, that air rifles are not powerful. Nowadays, the best air rifles deliver huge power. Though they usually shoot a .177 or a .22 pellet, modern air rifles achieve fairly high muzzle velocities and can kill most small game stone dead.

#3: Size and Weight

Air rifles have a number of other big advantages in survival situations. First and foremost, they are much lighter than a full-sized rifle. This is true not just for the rifle itself, but also in terms of the ammunition you need to carry. Going out hunting with even a dozen rounds of full-sized rifle ammunition makes you slow, and limits the number of shots you are going to get. In comparison, a coffee tin full of .22 pellets is lightweight, easy to carry, costs less than $50, and will last for years as long as you are careful with it.

#4: Usable by Anyone

Lastly, one factor that is often overlooked when thinking about guns for survival is that your kids (and perhaps your wife) are not going to be able to handle a full-sized hunting rifle. I would recommend getting your son or daughter an air rifle in any case because I had so much fun with mine when I was a kid, and this is a great way of getting them into firearms young.

#5: Teaches Shooting Skills (and adds another hunter)

Teaching your kids how to shoot an air rifle is not only a great bonding activity, but will also have huge advantages when the SHTF. Think about it as adding another hunter to your group – with a bit of practice, your son or daughter will easily be able to go out an bag a few rabbits and this could make all the difference.

Types Of Air Rifles

If you haven’t used one since you were a kid, it’s worth reminding yourself that air rifles come in a variety of different designs.

Caliber

The first factor to consider is the caliber. Air rifles generally come in two calibers – .177 and the larger .22 pellets. In my opinion, if you are buying an air rifle for a survival situation, only the larger caliber is a real option. .177 pellets can be used for killing small game, and are great for teaching your kids the basics of shooting, but in truth they are a little under-powered for survival situations. The .22 pellets deliver their energy to your target much more effectively, and will improve your hunting performance.

That said, caliber is not the only factor that affects the power of an air rifle. As you will see below, one of my choices for today is actually a .177, but one that has a huge muzzle velocity. The most powerful, and unfortunately most expensive, .177s produce a good deal of stopping power, but I think that for most people the .22 is best.

Design

Then we come to the design of air rifles. A lot of the most popular air rifles available today are CO2 -powered guns, a relatively recent invention. I think these are the most popular because they essentially take out all the work from using an air rifle – using a compressed gas for power, you simply load the rifle and pull the trigger. That’s great right now, but this type of rifle will have a huge disadvantage in a survival situation: getting those CO2 canisters. They are likely to run out pretty quick when the SHTF. In addition, carrying around a load of bulky canisters essentially eliminates one of the other advantages of air rifles in a survival situation – their light weight.

For this reason, my advice would be to stay old-school when getting an air rifle or pellet rifle for a survival situation. The best air rifles, in my opinion, are the ones that use a ‘pump-action’ design. The simplest form of this–and the air rifles you are likely familiar with from your youth–are those that use a spring mechanism. By pumping the stock on these rifles, the spring inside is compressed, and when you pull the trigger the spring is released, shooting the pellet. As the simplest design of air rifle, this type is easily maintained in the field, and is really reliable.

That said, one disadvantage of spring-based air rifles is that the spring has a tendency to wear out after a while. It will being to lose power and may eventually fail. There are two solutions to this. One is to make sure you have a few spare springs and make sure you know how to fix your rifle. The second is to take advantage of an advance in the design of these rifles, and get a ‘gas-ram’ gun.

This type of rifle works on the same pump-action principle but instead of compressing a spring it uses a canister of gas, most often nitrogen. Unlike CO2 powered air rifles, because the gas stays inside the canister, it does not get consumed, so the only consumable is still your pellets.

Our Choices

There are a huge number of great air rifles available, but the most important features in an air rifle for survival is reliability, specifically a rifle that has built up a great reputation in the field.

For a truly old-school air rifle that has built up a great reputation for both accuracy and reliability, look no further than the Diana RWS 34. This is one of the simplest designs of air rifle you can get, and in a survival situation the ability to maintain your weapon easily is going to make all the difference.

If you’re looking for an air rifle that almost anyone can use, take a look at the Gamo Varmint Air Rifle. This is a .177, and whilst I said above that this caliber is not powerful enough for most survival situations, the muzzle velocity produced by this rifle more than makes up for the smaller pellets. It will produce 1250 fps, and because it uses a smaller pellet the recoil is lighter on this rifle than some others.

If you’ve got a but more cash to spend, consider having a look at gas-piston air rifles. Though they cost a little more, they are more reliable. A good choice here would be the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat, which offers huge power in a compact design. The skeleton stock on this rifle make it even more portable than your average pellet gun, and when out hunting it feels like a full-sized rifle. In addition, the incorporated scope makes it an even more accurate hunting weapon for small game. Another good option is the Crosman CFRNP17SX Nitro, which develops a serious amount of power and is a great choice for hunting small game.

Lastly, I want to mention the Black Ops Tactical Sniper air rifle. This is one of the most powerful air rifles around at the moment, and has been designed to replicate military-style sniper rifles. While the heavy pump-action and larger frame means it takes some getting used to, if you’re looking for an air rifle with huge stopping power, this is the one.

Author Bio

“Sam Bocetta is a retired engineer and writer at Gun News Daily. He’s is an avid hunter with over 30 years experience.”

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Survival Hax Tactical LED Pen with Glass Breaker and Fire Starter Review

I was sent this Survival Hax Tactical LED Pen for review and I can say that I was pleasantly surprised at the quality.

For starters, it came well protected in a foam case:

And here’s the pen outside the package for a better view:

I can say that when I first grabbed the pen it felt a bit heavy and bulky (as compared to a regular pen) but, honestly, it only took a minute or two and I actually preferred the tactical pen. Here it is as compared to a regular Bic pen:

The first thing I tried was the light. It’s a simple twist on / twist off deal, similar to a pen light or maybe a keychain light:

I took it into a dark bathroom and was able to use the light to see around quite well. Granted, it’s no Maglite but definitely as good as my LED keychain light, plus the Survival Hax light doesn’t have a focal point which I like quite well. Overall, the light will work great in confined quarters.

Next, I looked at the “business end” of the tool where the glass breaking tip is:

Granted, I didn’t try it as I didn’t have any glass I wanted broken, lol, but I can say that the tip comes to a nice point and I’m fairly confident that it would crack glass fairly quickly. Besides that, this tactical pen would double as a nice Kubotan for self-defense if needed. In fact, I occasionally carry one (a Kubotan) but I’ll just carry this instead.

To actually use this as a pen you would need to unscrew the glass breaking tip which is a bit annoying but understandable since if there’s anything you’d want quick access to in an emergency situation it would be the tip and not the pen:

Regardless, the pen writes well and as expected. If you further unscrew the pen by gripping the threads above the pen tip you will expose the pen cartridge which can apparently be refilled, though, I don’t know where to find refills (I’ll have to look into that):

After putting it all back together, if you instead unscrew the tactical pen from the middle you will expose the fire starter as shown here:

I did try it (but don’t have a photo) and, though not a Sweedish Firesteel, it worked well enough and certainly better than other fire starters I’ve used in the past.

Ultimately, I’m pleased with the Survival Hax Tactical Pen for the price. It’s fairly well put together, works as expected, and will make a decent addition to your EDC… I know I’m adding it to mine.

Survival Hax Tactical Pen

WARNING: We Are Not Ready For The Next Pandemic

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“WARNING: We Are Not Ready For The Next Pandemic,” this was the cover title on a recent Time magazine article I read while waiting at my kid’s orthodontics appointment the other day. I was intrigued. What did Time magazine know that I didn’t?

Well, a few things, in fact. For example, I did learn that “the number of new diseases per decade has increased nearly fourfold over the past 60 years, and since 1980, the number of outbreaks per year has more than tripled.” That doesn’t sound reassuring, not at all.

I also learned that there are nearly half a million viruses with the potential to spill over, that is, to spontaneously jump from animals to humans like HIV did with chimps, SARS with bats, and influenza with birds and pigs, to name a few they cite in the article. This statistic alone startled me as I had no idea there were so many potential threats looming out there!

I also found out that budgets to those departments which are at the forefront of the battle to keep us safe are being cut (or proposed to be), that there are efforts to both catalog and rapidly develop vaccines but they’re still a long ways off at best, and that there’s approximately zero incentive for drug companies to invest in anything which could help us stop the next pandemic because there’s literally no money in it… until there’s money in it due to a pandemic which is already in full-swing and killing us in droves.

What should scare you the most, however, is the fact that one of the deadliest of flu outbreaks was the Spanish flu of 1918 which infected about 500 million (about a third of the population) and killed an estimated 50-100 million people (more than WWI and WWII combined) that’s a good 10-20% who contracted the flu and died! Can you imagine one or two out of every ten people who get the flu… die? For most of us that would mean at least one family member which is just shocking to me.

Things just get worse. It should go as no surprise that there are a few more people on Earth now than there was then and in closer interaction with each other than in 1918 due to migration from rural lifestyles to cities. I believe I read elsewhere recently that more people now live in or near cities than not for the first time in human population. That’s scary in and of itself, lol.

Travel is unquestionably easier (with the ubiquitous use of planes, trains, and automobiles) and thus disease spread is easier too. This is, no doubt, how disease will spread around the world in a matter of days. Just how bad and out of hand will the next major pandemic be? I shutter to imagine.

Climate change apparently plays a part too by making it easier for disease-carrying critters and insects to travel farther than they normally would and interact with us more often which only increases the chance for disease to spill over.

Moreover, our general belief that science and medicine will “keep us safe” tends to lead to complacency by both the public and authorities. And since any effective reaction by the authorities to combat the flu with a vaccine, for example, would likely take several months at best (assuming we react to it from the very start which hasn’t been our track record) it will likely be too late for the majority of folks who come down with the next deadly bird- or swine-flu.

Click here to watch a video on a medical “crash course” for dealing with such scenarios

All isn’t without hope, however. There are some interesting efforts by scientists and various agencies to better sequence pathogens and to track their spread or potential of doing so (read the Time magazine article). One interesting application is genetic sequencing of viruses which according to the article “…can mean the difference between an outbreak that kills hundreds instead of millions. The hope is that scientists will be able to use genetic information to predict how a pathogen will behave–before a single person ever falls ill.” That’s very promising but still a long way off it seems.

The article goes on to state that: “For all the advances in finding dangerous pathogens, the simple truth is that neither the world as a whole nor the U.S. in particular is at all prepared to handle a major infectious-disease pandemic–and a significant reason for that is a failure to invest in things now that can keep us safe later.”

Ok, I’m back to being depressed.

Really, it isn’t going to be a vaccine that saves us. It’s going to be the efforts of healthcare workers on the ground, mandated quarantines (yes, I said it), and ultimately it will be up to YOU to both recognize the threat and to be prepared to outlast it.

This won’t be your average power outage, or even a deadly tornado or Hurricane Katrina… it will be on a scale like nothing we’ve experienced. This isn’t local or even nationwide… it’s global. And it isn’t a few week ordeal… it’s several months at best.

Can you outlast a several month pandemic? One where healthcare services are overwhelmed at best, non-functional at worst? One where very little goods aren’t being traded and services (like electricity and water) are being kept going because nobody wants to go to work for fear of being exposed? One where food can’t be found because everyone is hoarding it? One where desperate mobs and looters ransack nearby businesses and neighborhoods in search of anything they can get their hands on?

I sure hope so, but the honest truth is that most of us won’t be able to. Most don’t do a single thing to prepare now for the worst later. I guess that’s just human nature.

I’d like to think I’m prepared to outlast such an ordeal but maybe not. Who knows what my family and I would be subject to over several months of a pandemic. I don’t know… but I can prepare as best as I can… and you can too. Now’s the time because tomorrow may be too late.

How Easily Ebola Turns Into A Pandemic (link)

How Ebola Turns Into A Pandemic, Source

Funny, I just recently read an article in Time magazine discussing how we’re not ready for a pandemic, go figure.

The author in this particular article is quite right… it only takes one person (or in this case a family) to potentially infect dozens of others who then go on to infect the rest of the world, including you and I.

Preparing for a pandemic is, in my opinion, very much like preparing to “bug in” for most any SHTF situation with the added problem of a deadly contagion lurking at every turn, lol. The time to get yourself and your family prepared is always NOW… not when the authorities beg you to…

Remember the soothing words of the World Health Organization about the Ebola outbreak in the Congo?

Don’t worry, they said. It’s in a remote village that doesn’t even have real roads, they said.

Except, the problem is, now people are fleeing from that village in fear of the virus.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo – Ebola drove Kevin Balenge, his wife and three children to get to this capital city as fast as they could to try to outrun a suspected new outbreak.

“We can’t stay here because there are no hospitals, and once you get the virus you simply die,” said Balenge, from Bas-Uele province in the north of the country, about 51 hours away from Kinshasa.

“Residents are still not aware of the virus and they do not know the precautions (to take),” he added. “Very many people are going to die here.”

“Staying here is like trying to play with death,” he said. “Ebola gives no second chance and I can’t risk it. If I can save myself, I will try to do so.”

Read the full article here