Two Letters Re: Swords and Bows for that Dreaded Multigenerational Scenario

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Jim,
This is the first time I've written. I have been following with interest the posts regarding the use of archery for multi- generational
thinking that surely someone else would bring this up, but that appears not to be the case. I'm fairly surprised that no one has yet mentioned the chu-ko-nu (see:
It is commonly know as the Chinese Repeating Crossbow and is essentially a semi-automatic crossbow. It was used extensively in warfare as late as the 1890's against the firearms of the Japanese to a fair amount of success. It is legendary for being rugged on the battlefield and so simple a design, that even someone with limited woodworking skills can put one together. To make it more deadly, the arrow-points were smeared with paralyzing poisons. The advantages of a semi-automatic design should be obvious. In
fifteen seconds, one hundred men with normal bows, or with ordinary crossbows, were only be able to shoot around two hundred arrows in fifteen seconds. In the same amount of time, one hundred men with repeating crossbows were able to get off about a thousand shots. If I were in a survival situation with all firearms and ammo gone and
expended, this is the weapon I would want by my side. - Gilgamesh

JWR,
After reading a significant amount of material back and forth on weapons that have largely been rejected by western culture since the 1500s. I am curious as to why no one has yet brought up keeping muzzle loading black powder firearms for this purpose.
It could easily be argued that a set of bullet moulds a bag of extra flints, and some basic chemistry knowledge [for making black powder and percussion caps] would carry just as far, if perhaps not farther in a "multi-generational scenario". Theoretically, the ingredients in black powder, if stored properly have an indefinite shelf life, and are not dangerous until mixed together in the proper proportions and then processed to meet quality control.
Knowing how to construct and use a bow is a valid skill, and one that a great number of people could master with time, trial and error. However, sword construction is a dying art and largely, one that could not be mastered in short order by all but those with a great pedigree in metalsmithing. Anyone competent enough to make a decent sword, could
probably also produce flintlocks or matchlocks with equal ease.
However, one weapon that seems to be entirely overlooked in this thread is the Roman gladius. Long swords, katanas and other swords are meant to be wielded by large armored men on horseback. The gladius, when combined with a large shield allows an otherwise unarmored man to approach his opponent behind the shield and then strike out with quick thrusting blows. If this were Roman times, the enemy would likely have to overcome a barrage of pilum (Roman javelins) first. All things to consider if we suddenly find ourselves enraptured by another dark age.- AVL


JWR Replies:
You are correct in your assertion that muzzleloading black powder arms would be superior in a long term (multi-generational) collapse,but only assuming that you can still make gunpowder. (More skills to learn and some raw materials to acquire. But a valuable exercise, nonetheless. My personal choice under such circumstances would be a .54 caliber Kodiak double rifle and a brace of replica Colt Model 1860, Remington Model 1858, or Ruger Old Army stainless steel black powder .44 caliber cap and ball revolvers. (My innate contrariness would probably steer me toward a LeMat revolver/shotgun, but alas, they are not made in stainless steel.) Note that cartridge conversion cylinders are made for several of these models, to make them more versatile.

Regardless of what you select for your "just in case" battery of arms, be sure to teach your children how to make archery gear, chain mail, and swords.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Rawles published on September 23, 2006 10:22 PM.

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