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Common Acronyms


Just about every hobby, pastime, profession, or other special interest ends up with some buzz words of its own.  This is as true of rocket scientists as it is of rock n roll musicians, and is as true of pastors as it is of preppers.

So, unsurprisingly, there are some commonly used acronyms that you’ll encounter when reading articles about and by preppers.  If you’re seeing these for the first time, they’re not necessarily obvious and intuitive.  Some terms are common to ‘internet speak’ and ‘text speak’ in general, others are more specifically prepper-focused.

Here’s a list to help you decode the terms.  If you come across terms that aren’t on this list, let us know and we’ll be pleased to add them.

AFAIK As Far As I Know – or – And For All I Know
ALICE All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment – in use by US Armed services from the mid 1960s to the turn of the century, replaced by MOLLE
Alpha Strategy A concept espoused by economist John Pugsley in his book The Alpha Strategy.  He suggests storing extra logistic items as a hedge against inflation, and as future barter goods (and for charity giveaways too).
American Redoubt A location of parts of five western states (eastern WA and OR, all of ID, MT, WY) proposed by noted blogger Jim Rawles as an ideal location for preppers to relocate to.  Somewhat controversial.
Anthracite The best type of coal, most clean burning, with fewest impurities.
Avgas Aviation gasoline.  Petrol for piston engined planes – not to be confused with Jet fuel (a kerosene).  Comes in various grades, the most common being 100LL (LL = lightly leaded).
BIB Bug In Bag – A collection of essential items if a person decides to stay and shelter/survive where they are at present.  See also BOB.
BOB Bug Out Bag – A bag or other container(s) of essential items a person would take with them if having to evacuate an area, probably after TEOTWAWKI
BOL Bug Out Location – a place a person attempts to transfer to after a disaster.  Sometimes referred to as one’s ‘retreat’.  Probably has some prepared facilities already in place waiting for the person(s) to arrive.
BTW By The Way
CalGly A mix of Calcium Chloride and Glycerol, used for preserving seeds
CB (radio) Citizens Band.  An unlicensed AM radio band around 27MHz (11 Meters), very popular in the 1970s and still somewhat popular with truck drivers.  Has 40 channels.
CM Compressed Meal.  The successor to the MRE – about 2/3 the size and weight of an MRE.
Combat Tupperware A term originally coined, derisively, to describe the polymer framed Glock pistols.  These days it can refer to other similarly polymer framed pistols (of which there are now many), and while some people still use the term derisively, other people use it self-effacingly or ironically, because the reality is a Glock is an extremely long lasting, durable and reliable pistol at least the equal of steel pistols.
CONUS The Continental United States, ‘The Lower 48’.
C-Ration Combat ration.  Canned food rations that were replaced by MREs in the mid 1980s.  Sometimes called ‘C-rats’.
Deep Larder The concept of stocking a lot of food, usually sufficient for the people expected to be sheltering together for at least two years.
E-tool An entrenching tool – a small collapsible space, maybe also light-weight.  Can do double duty as an improvised weapon.
E85 A type of fuel comprising 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline
E100 A type of fuel that is 100% ethanol
EMP Electromagnetic pulse.  A nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude will also create a wide area of EMP.  This is likely to destroy many electrical and electronic circuits in just about any/every/all electrical goods you have.  A widespread EMP would likely lead to TEOTWAWKI
EOTW End of the World.  See TEOTWAWKI and LAWKI for related concepts.
Fiat Currency A currency that can be issued at will and with no asset backing (as opposed to currency convertible to gold or some other asset).  Compare with Hard money.
FRS Family Radio Service – an unlicensed UHF FM band for personal walkie-talkie radio use, under-powered and not as good as GMRS which uses the same frequencies but allows more power
FUBAR F*cked Up Beyond All Repair
FUD Fear Uncertainty Doubt
FWIW For What It’s Worth
GHB A Get Home Bag (as opposed to a BIB or BOB).  Also GMHB
GMHB Get Me Home Bag.  See GHB.
GMRS General Mobile Radio Service – a UHF FM band used for commercial walkie-talkie radios, but now generally unofficially used by any unlicensed operator.  Shares same frequencies as FRS, but is allowed to use more powerful transmitters, giving slightly better range.
Goblins A slang term for criminals and other bad people, coined by Jeff Cooper
Hard Money Currency that can be exchanged for a specified amount of precious metal, or sometimes the metal itself (eg gold bullion bars, gold coins).  Compare with Fiat currency.
HEPA (filter) High Efficiency Particulate Air (filter) – for cleaning out contamination from air such as inlets into fallout shelters.
IIRC If I Recall Correctly
Inverter A device to convert DC electricity to AC electricity – for example, to create ‘mains’ power (ie 110V 60 Hz) from a car battery (12V DC).  Inverters vary enormously in terms of power, efficiency, and the ‘quality’ of the sine wave of AC power they create.
JIT The ‘Just in Time’ inventory system widely used in most enterprises these days.  It means there is little inventory of stock, and no ‘supply cushion’ in case of disruptions anywhere in the supply chain, making the end purchasers more vulnerable to problems.  Supermarkets only carry a couple of days stock, their warehouses also carry only a few days stock, and so on along the supply chain, so that if transportation is disrupted to a region, in less than a week there’ll be no stock of food and other essentials anywhere in the region (actually, panic buying will mean the stock disappears much faster).
KISS Keep It Simple, Stupid
LAWKI Life as we know it – our modern life, surrounded by conveniences and comfort, and all terrifyingly vulnerable to disruption.
Level 1/2/3 scenarios A convenient way of categorizing different levels of TEOTWAWKI and TSHTF.  Discussed and defined in this article.
MOLLE Modular Lightweight Loadcarrying Equipment – pronounced ‘Molly’.  The current system of rucksacks and other accessories used by the US armed forces.  Replaced the earlier ALICE system.
MRE Former standard US Army field rations, now replaced by CM.  Not usually a good product to stockpile due to cost and relatively short shelf life.
MSM The Mainstream media, generally assumed to be biased towards the left wing, anti-gun, and derisive about Prepping
MURS Multi Use Radio Service.  Unlicensed VHF FM radio service, generally superior to FRS/GMRS, but the equipment is more expensive.
N95 When used in the context of masks, refers to a lightweight air-purifying type respirator mask that covers the nose and mouth, and which filters 95% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in diameter (or larger).  There are also N99 and N100 type masks (the N100 filters 99.7% of particles).  The N signifies it is not oil resistant (R rated masks are oil resistant and P rated ones are oil proof).
Off Grid Or ‘off the grid’.  In its pure form it means a house that is not connected to the national electricity grid.  It can also less exactly refer to a house that is capable of creating sufficient power for its own (diminished) needs in an emergency, and it sometimes also (especially as in ‘living off the grid’) refers to people who try to avoid drawing themselves to the attention of various authorities and who try to have minimal or no ‘footprints’ in terms of official records.
Paracord Parachute cord.  A thin and strong braided nylon rope great for many different purposes.  The US Military issues paracord in six sizes, the most common of which is Type III, also referred to as 550 cord due to having a minimum strength of 550lbs. Not all non mil-spec paracord is equally good, quality varies depending on the number of strands and the material it is made from.
PC Politically Correct.  A disparaging comment.  Also the opposite, in forms such as non-PC, meant approvingly.  Preppers are generally non-PC.
Peak Oil A term used to refer to the time when oil production can no longer keep up with oil consumption.  At this point, the cost of oil will skyrocket.  $5 gas will seem like a bargain, as will $10 gas.  Opinions vary as to when we will reach the Peak Oil tipping point, but (and assuming no major changes in the oil industry as we currently know and regular it) many oil industry observers expect it to occur after 2015 and before 2020.  The time post Peak Oil is expected to be marked by massive economic and social disruption – in other words, TEOTWAWKI.
Phantom Load Power consumed by electronic items even when they are switched off (eg used to keep a clock running, to keep ‘listening’ for commands from a remote control, to keep the electronics on ‘standby’, etc).  Phantom loads are of little relevance in normal life, but if you are trying to become energy independent, they become very important.
PV Photo voltaic.  Usually used to refer to solar cells – devices that generate small DC currents from solar energy.
Retreat A place one goes to after TEOTWAWKI.  Usually has been prepared in advance.  Sometimes may be an Isolated or Remote retreat, designed to be self-sufficient without needing any interactions with other people or services.
Sheeple Derogatory term to describe non-Preppers and those who deny the possibility of TEOTWAWKI and the good sense in preparing for it.
Shelf Life For batteries, the time a battery can be stored and still retain 85% of its original charge.  In other words, the real life of a battery can be much longer than the shelf life date stamped on it.
For food items, the period of time until changes in the color, flavor, texture or micro-organism count makes the item unacceptable.  This is not the same as an expiry date (which relates to food safety).  Shelf life predictions are based on rules of thumb and tend to be shorter than can be achieved it items are well cared for.
For medicines, the point at which the medicine is still guaranteed to have 100% of its potency.  Some medicines remain effective as long as 15 years after their expiry date if they have been well stored.  Nitroglycerin, insulin and liquid antibiotics seldom outlive their shelf lives by long periods of time, but almost all other medications do.
SNAFU Situation Normal, All F*cked Up
TANSTAAFL There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – expression originally created by Robert A Heinlein
TEOTWAWKI The End of the World as We Know It
T-Pack Bulk trays of food to feed army squads (as opposed to individual CM or MRE rations)
TSHTF The Shit Hits/Hitting the Fan
WAG Wild Assed Guess
WROL Without Rule of Law
WTSHTF When the Shit Hits the Fan


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