(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)
Provide for the Common Defense
We are not extremely wealthy, but over the last several years I have made sure to invest in tangibles including two AN/PVS-14 night vision sets and a few extra firearms with all the fixin’s. My wonderful wife has graciously and intentionally never asked me to quantify “extra firearms” and for that I am thankful! Some of my enhanced armory has come from SurvivalBlog affiliate Palmetto State Armory (PSA) and I frequently select my ‘build-a-bang-stick’ materials from that great company. Having “spare” firearms is a calculated and purposeful foundation of our survival supplies for myriad reasons. Ideally, any person I would allow inside the sanctum sanctorum would arrive with their own weapons and ammo suitable for self-protection and contributing to the greater good. However, if by some circumstance someone shows up at our homestead and they were unable to bring sufficient weaponry to be of any use on security, I have a few basic load-outs ready to loan.
Yes, I know that JWR professes a battle rifle of .30 caliber being the sensible choice, and a handgun of .45 caliber being a no-brainer. I have a few LR 308 platforms in the vault, and several .45 ACP handguns for those of us who can reliably shoot them. Generally, I agree with Mr. Rawles on the heavy-hitting calibers for proper defense, but I selected a set-up of matching 16” 5.56mm M4gery rifles and compact 9mm handguns for utility’s sake, commonality of magazines and ammunition, and cost. This concept follows the Rawlesian precepts of Redundancy, Versatility, and Flexibility as mentioned in his novel Patriots. Commonality and simplicity are core principles to a successful group/tribe functioning in any scenario. The big guns can be reserved for larger and more experienced shooters who are more likely to be effective with the heavy iron.
For the price of one premium .308 battle rifle, I can purchase and outfit two carbines and two pistols. Furthermore, anyone from my 14-year-old son to my 70-year-old mother-in-law can shoulder and effectively fire the AR-15 platform and also easily handle the compact Taurus G2c 9mm pistol. Having identical weapons available for everyone, including smaller-statured members of the tribe, is a combat multiplier.
This is how I approached my loaner rigs:
Each grab-and-go setup is identical consisting of a basic but functional 16” PSA AR15-style carbine with a SIG Romeo red dot optic, Streamlight weapon light, and a sling. An economical, yet perfectly serviceable Taurus G2C 9mm handgun (see Pat Cascio’s November 23, 2020 review) will also be issued. The rifles are inexpensive, but certainly not cheap-o knockoffs. Each has the PSA enhanced trigger and nickel boron bolt carrier group, quality optics and lights, Magpul furniture, and a two-point QD sling.
Rounding out each kit is a simple sling range bag containing six loaded standard capacity AR mags, a holster for the Taurus, three loaded handgun mags, a small weapons maintenance kit, eye & ear protection, a trauma/blowout kit, a headlamp, a knife, notepad and pen, a hydration bottle, and a few snack bars. If I need to set someone on watch or a patrol, they will draw that kit and have no excuses for not being basically equipped for success. I currently have two such setups exclusively for auxiliary personnel who may join my tribe and will try to build two more this year.
Each AR15/G2c grab-and-go setup comes in at just under $1,400 FRNs – fully mission-ready. So it can realistically be achieved with determination and commitment to the purpose. It isn’t too bad if one forgoes the drive-thru coffee and other unnecessary expenditure we all fall prey to. If finances allow, I strongly recommend anyone who would entertain allowing folks to seek shelter at their homestead consider outfitting a few grab-and-go kits such as I have described. On a side note – we have a similar grab-and-go sling bag for each of my family’s personal rifle/pistol rigs, but those are custom built and fit to each of us and are not available for use by guests- just not gonna happen.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Of course, having all the neato gear in the world does not mean a thing if one does not practice, drill, recalibrate, and practice some more. After we were declared SAFE from the SARS-CoV-2 China Virus debacle that our elected government servants used to cripple our nation, I set out to try a drill with family and friends to test the efficacy of my grab-and-go set-ups. My eldest daughter and her husband (both Marine Corps veterans) were invited on a short excursion to a remote area in our local national forest. Without giving away too much of the plan, I asked them each to show up at my home with only a bug-out-bag (BOB) and their personal vehicles. I would attempt to outfit our entire expedition from my supply room.
They arrived on a Thursday evening and were surprised when I did not have food and drink ready for them, but instead immediately went into the drill. My wife and our then pre-teen son set about grabbing our own go-bags and weapons, while I took the newcomers into the gun room to introduce them to their test grab-and-go kits. The equipment issue went off with only one hitch – I had somehow misplaced a sling for one of the rifles. Trying to realistically run with the drill in real-time and as any challenges presented, Daughter was tasked with crafting a sling from paracord out of her BOB. After minimal fumbling she came up with a serviceable alternative and used that for the rest of the weekend. We selected pre-staged boxes and bags of camping gear to spread between the vehicles, and we departed for the forest lands to test our preps.
I deliberately set up the drill so we would arrive at a secluded backcountry spot after dark, but we all quickly slipped back into our military training and performed our priorities of work in the proper order. Security was set, a quick recon was conducted, and hasty shelters were erected to maximize our available terrain and concealment. The seven of us spent the next two days running scenarios, practicing with the issued weapons, and working on some simple tactics (even the wee tyke had skills to practice). I was pleased to see each rifle/pistol/ammo kit worked out well for each of the augmentees and they were equally surprised with how easy it was to adapt to the simple setups.
By the time we cleared camp and returned to the homestead, I was a little afraid they would not want to give back the kits because they had become so comfortable with the simple and effective gear. After a thorough cleaning and some well-deserved refreshments, all the kits were restocked and returned to the gun room. I am quite comfortable knowing that this piece of my plan is tested and proven. Other similar drills happen at least semiannually for my household, but we hope to do more frequent exercises to adjust and adapt to the changing environment.
Playing the Long Game
With the security issue planned, tested, revised, and solid my wife and I started thinking of the next phase of our preparation for potential long-term guests. Our current home is not as large as we would like, but we feel confident we could absorb up to six visitors for even several weeks if we needed. Our garage can be quickly converted to a bunkhouse-style accommodation, and my office will serve as an operations center for radio monitoring, planning, and coordination. We have considered how to effectively segregate our home into noise-free zones which would allow for proper rest periods while another group is in the work cycle. Every member of the family has defined tasks and responsibilities, regardless of age. Even our seven-year-old daughter knows her role in tending the backyard chickens and assisting with the pantry and supply room. She is well versed in rotating items and can keep surprisingly good track of when things are drawn from stock – heaven help the person whom she catches not marking the “out” list when something is removed from a shelf!
We have yet to build back our desired stores and deep larder, but we are slowly adjusting to the eventuality of making do with less. That means each of the augmentees will necessarily become essential in resupply, sourcing alternative nutrition and water, and maintenance tasks around the homestead. Notice I did not say anything about scavenging or taking things from others (theft no matter how you put it). We will not cross that line and believe that Providence and remaining true to our morals and values will enable our survival. Instead, we have set aside several items for barter, including spare 1st aid supplies, shelter materials, some silver, and other precious metals such as brass, copper, and lead. I recommend that anyone considering a similar strategy should take advantage of sales for various calibers of ammunition – even if it doesn’t support your own armory. Some of the more esoteric calibers may be precisely what other folks need to round out their own situations.
One must always consider security and safety when conducting a meet-up for barter purposes. OPSEC is non-negotiable. Never let anyone know where you live, what you have, or how deep your preparations go. Consider some form of masking identity, camouflaging your mode of travel, and otherwise covering your tracks. Try to meet in secure locations, with multiple exit paths, and perhaps have a cover team out of sight but readily capable of backing you up should things turn sour. Always demand to see the other party’s contribution to the transaction before showing your items. Take with you only small quantities in non-descript bags or containers. Make it clear that you are only providing surplus that you have no use for, and don’t tell them “there’s plenty more where that came from”.
Be respectful, but firm, and prepare to dicker a bit on a fair deal (it’s actually quite satisfying and almost fun to make a good deal in this manner). When you leave, have your security team stay put for quite a while to observe the area after you depart. Ensure you are not being followed by doubling back several times to recognize any telltale signs of surveillance. Finally, it may be safest to not make repeated transactions with the same individual or group. Just because a trade goes well once or twice does not mean they are not planning to take advantage if they think you have a supply depot for their taking. People are the worst humans, as my youngest daughter always says.
In conclusion, we have theorized and proven that even without a current mutual assistance group to practice with, we can effectively outfit strays who may come to us needing shelter from the storm. We have developed tactics, techniques, and procedures for getting the most out of our guests. We have basic supplies for their use, and a very nice setup of grab-and-go rifle/pistol/magazine kits for integrating guests into our security plan. Every kit shares commonality of function, caliber, and ease of use for even a smaller-statured individual. We hope that our journey can show others that one doesn’t need a fortress to thrive but that everyone must have a plan and starting next week may be too late. Remember: without a rehearsed plan, one will be relegated to a Lone Wolf status and a well outfitted tribe of Sheepdogs doesn’t play nicely with wolves.