Letter Re: Chain Link Fences for Incremental Retreat Security

Mr. Rawles,
Recently the I had the occasion to put in a new chain link fence on my property and while I would have preferred something in the 8-to-10 foot range negotiations with my wife led me to use a more standard fence size of waist high. After calling to get quotes for an install to compare what it would cost me doing it vs. professionals I made my trip to the local Non super store hardware store. While purchasing the components the fine elderly gentleman gave me some pointers and repeatedly pressed upon me the importance of installing the fence with the right side up. He pointed out that “correct” side was the side of chain link which is bent and not the one that is cut. Repeatedly he noted not to put the cut side up as it will “tear ya up”. After paying and loading up I was tooling home when it hit me that if I installed the cut side up it would be a security measure in plain sight that most folks would never notice or give a second look. After installing the fence I must say that the cut side of the fence is super sharp (the wounds are healing nicely!) and while it’s easy to overcome with just a coat or door mat as a small layer in my security level I am happy with it. I would prefer tangle wire or razor wire but that would require more negotiations. When I work around the fence I have a piece of grey PVC pipe with a slit cut in it that fits over the sharp wire. It doesn’t look out of place, and blends in with the grey of the fence and so my band aid supply has not been further depleted. Hopefully someone else might make use of this. I am sure I am not the first to think of it but for a moment of enlightenment I am happy with what I came up with.

On a personal note I want to thank you for your daily commitment to your blog as I have found it more than pays for my 10 cents a day. Keep safe and our prayers are with you. – Mr C.

JWR Replies:
Shortly after TSHTF, a chain link fence can be quickly upgraded with a course of coiled razor wire fastened to the top, but only if you’ve bought the wire and mounting hardware in advance. It is also important to buy a couple of pair of protective “concertina gloves” (also called “staple gloves”), a face visor, and something heavy duty to protect your forearms to wear during the installation process. The hardest to find of these are special wire handling staple gloves that are reinforced. (Typically these have the palms and fingers reinforced with metal zipper material, staples, or riveted leather strips.) These are a must to protect your hands while working with military concertina wire or civilian razor wire.

Of course only in a worst case out-and-out TEOTWAWKI would you want to erect military concertina wire arrays. But just in case, it would be prudent to have the materials on hand to do so.

Unless you have a big budget to buy commercially made razor wire (also called barbed tape), or a huge budget to buy a nifty three strand deploying trailer, then think surplus. Used concertina wire can sometimes be found at U.S. Army DRMO surplus disposal auctions–often for as low as scrap metal prices. Keep an eye on the calendar of auctions to attend one in your region. (Army camp/fort auctions are your best bet for finding concertina wire, such as this upcoming palletized lot of concertina and barbed wire at Fort Lewis, Washington.) In my opinion, used, slightly rusty wire has two advantages: First, it does not have the reflective sheen of new wire, so it not as obvious to casual observers at long distances. Second, from “up close and personal”, the sight of rusty barbs might get the bad guys thinking about tetanus. (Yes, I know that the tetanus risk from punctures by new wire is nearly as great as that of dirty or rusty wire, but at least here in North America the bad guys all grew up hearing about the perils of “rusty nails.”)

Lastly, keep in mind that that no obstacle is effective for long unless it is under observation from the Mark I Human Eyeball. The U.S. Army’s decades-old mantra is still in effect: “Cover all obstacles with fire.”