Camping & Survival

Guest Post: Commander Zero on Preparedness, Spreadsheets and PTR-91 Magazines

Preparedness is all well and good, but without a bit of accounting it can be difficult to know what you have, where you have it, and how old it is. Commander Zero talks about the use of spreadsheets for tracking his inventory of foodstuffs and other preparedness items. Later in this article he discusses the PTR-91 as a main battle rifle (MBR) and the current availability of low cost magazines.

A fortuitous episode while grocery shopping the other day. An item that we normally find for $10 was on sale for $8.89. Ok, not a huge sale price but saving something is better than saving nothing. Problem was, they were out. I went to the customer service coutner and asked for a rain check and for them to order me a case. When the case showed up the other day it was in the midst of another sale and the price had been reduced further to $4.99. Well, half-price is sort of a magic threshold for me…I cleaned out the stock on the shelves and order another three cases. Took our goodies back to the house and added them to the food stockpile. Once thats done it’s time to update the spreadsheets.

I cannot emphasize enough the sheer utility of spreadsheets for keeping track of stuff like this. I use Excel and am fairly good with it. I found this thread over at arfcom about how to have your spreadhseet automatically note when a product is nearing its expiration/best-by date. When we upgraded out phones to Blackberry devices I discovered that the crippleware version of Excel in the BB would read my Excel spreadsheets. Joy! I now keep a copy of the spreadsheet in my cellphone. If we happen to be out shopping and discover something is on sale at a ridiculous price I can pull up a copy of the spreadsheet and see if the quantity we have on hand is sufficient or if we should go ahead and get more. Very useful, that.

The spreadsheets I use for tracking our food arent fancy, they just give a general description, brand, quantity, amount and that sort of info. I keep it on a clipboard with a pen and the clipboard is hanging off the steel shelving by the food. When food is taken (or added) its noted on the spreadsheet and then once a week or so I update the spreadsheet on the computer and cellphone. Once every few months I do an inventory to make sure all the numbers jibe. Usually they do…however, sometimes someone in this household will forget to update the clipboard…usually because their hands are full at the time. By and large, however, the accuracy of the count is never off by more than two or three items. Not bad when you consider theres about two hundred on the clipboard.

As of late I’ve been thinking that I need to expand this spreadsheet/clipboard system to some of the other consumables around here, most notably ammo. I have a reasonably good idea of how much ammo we have but I cannot say with 100% accuracy. Ditto for cosnumable gun stuff like spare parts and magazines. Really, I need to take a long weekend and work up a ‘master spreadsheeet’ with all of this stuff.

=-=-=-=-=- Speaking of mags, I had a customer who did a very very smart thing the other day. He’s been wanting a .308 battle rifle and I sold him on the PTR-91. He’s been dragging his feet but last week I gave him the hard sell with the same seriousness and somber tone as if I was telling him he had cancer. Look, I said, one of my vendors is having a sale on these things…it’ll cost you $1000. Cheaper Than Dirt still has mags for $1 ea. and spare parts are still abundant. If you dont buy now youre going to regret it later. I know its a pile of money but youve been working ten, twelve hours of overtime every week, right? Buy this. I guarantee you that you will never regret this.

He handed over ten $100 bills and I ordered his gun. I then admonished him to get on the phone to CTD today and order at least fifty magazines. Since the vendor ships the rifles ‘free shipping’, I added ten more Glock magazines for me and the missus. Strike while the iron is hot and all that.

Then, because I know the customer (who is also an LMI and a good friend) had to reach deep for the money for the rifle, I called CTD and ordered twenty magazines for him. I’ll stick them in the closet and if he winds up not being able to come up with the scratch to get some magazines in a timely manner I’ll give these to him as an early Christmas gift. He’s a good guy and I don’t want to see him get caught flat-footed if something goes weird in the world. This way if between the time he gets the rifle and the time he can actually get some mags he’ll at least have twenty mags to keep the gun running.

I really should nag him into some spare parts while Im at it. Hmmmm.

Commander Zero makes his home in Montana with his wife where he is an active member in the preparedness community. You can visit his blog at

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