Letter from Jeff Trasel Re: Competence Versus Caliber

In continuing our discussion on the warrior-way as lifestyle, I have several observations relative to several recent posts on SurvivalBlog that need comment. First off, I am heartened by the level of awareness, camaraderie, and spirit of practical know-how, innovativeness, and just good common sense that pervades the posts of late. However, several have given me pause for thought, not so much for controversy, more so as how the subject matter should be approached by those new to our practice. For instance, there have been some marvelous discussions on battle rifle calibers and their respective effectiveness. In fact, the data was some of the most comprehensive I have seen since attending the Small Arms armorers’ course at Aberdeen Proving Ground and various SOF weapons schools. The authors are to be commended for their research. However, I would caution those in the early stages of the preparedness continuum to perhaps hip-pocket knowledge of this nature, as the reality of such data is more academic than practical. Competence is in many ways more lethal than caliber. I cannot stress this enough and it is this mindset that is the nexus of my writings here.

Projectile weights, powder charges, and the like are good to know if you intend to customize specific loads for your preparedness battery, but in times such as these, the risk-reward ratio of the effort is somewhat squandered, and [for the majority of shooters] the costs better spent on ready-made, good quality commercial or surplus military ball. In fact, you cannot get much better than mil-spec National Match-quality out of the box. I know, as I’ve tried it, and it took a lot of tests with different projectiles from a variety of manufacturers, and considerable experimentation with various powder [types and charges] to make any measurable difference in many years of experimentation. This is not to say it cannot be done, but there are more pressing matters, such as time on the range that should occupy one’s time.

A recent post listed sabotage skills as desirable in a preparedness situation. As someone trained in such matters, and having practiced said skills in the field, I find this a rather curious addition to the discussion. This is a matter of one’s personal survival philosophy, but given that long-term living in a preparedness state is akin to living the life of an insurgent, I can think of no quicker way to bring one’s existence to the eye of authority. Indeed, this runs counter to any idea of survival in hostile environments, and represents an escalation that could imperil the long-term viability of one’s retreat. Sabotage is an offensive, not defensive posture. The nature of survival is to exact retribution only as a last resort and in a fashion that does not telegraph a level of tactical sophistication that is counter-productive. To paraphrase Chairman Mao, “…one must swim as a fish within the sea of the masses and not antagonize the great angler.”

There are distinct tactical reasons where sabotage may be of use, primarily in urban and built-up areas as a means of area denial or in hindering those who may be in pursuit during your egress to your retreat. Caltrops or water in the gas, as mentioned, would certainly work in these and other scenarios. I bring this up only in urging caution in deploying such tactics. It takes practice to become efficient these types of low-intensity offensive operations, and while one should stand ready to incorporate their use in a prudent long-term retreat strategy, it is better to focus on avoidance rather than irritants. – “Jeff Trasel”