A big part of the prepper culture revolves around guns and gear. I must confess, I’m gun and gear poor! I can just about outfit an infantry squad as I write this! My bonafides are as follows:
- In my youth, I was an Army Airborne Ranger (Ranger class 9/78, assigned to the second Ranger Battalion, 2/75th).
- Currently, I am a more than 29 year serving police officer and soon to be retired.
- I’ve done patrol, investigations, FTO, supervision, and I was a SWAT guy at one time.
- I have also been a “use of force” instructor and have taught rifle, pistol, and shotgun along with police defensive tactics. ‘
- I have been in some hairy situations over the years, to include two standup gunfights.
- I am a widower with five children, all of them by the same woman, God rest her soul. Three are grown and two teenage boys are still at home.
- I have prepped for over 20 years, and, yes, I am old.
I have given a lot of thought to what our world will look like if the thin veneer of civilization peels away. This article includes my own conclusions and opinions about some popular gear and EDC options we spend a lot of time and money on. I will also talk about my thoughts on training, mindset, and violent encounters.
I have worn body armor daily for most of my law enforcement career. It is hot, uncomfortable, and limits your torso flexibility at best. Having said that, I don’t leave home without it! But we need to be realistic about it. If you are over 40 and orthopedically challenged, you will not be very effective trying to shoot, move, and communicate in a full interceptor vest with rifle plates, not to mention all of the ammo, water, and gear you will inevitably strap to it. That stuff is very heavy and meant to be carried by 19 year olds, who believe they are invincible.
Conventional wisdom states you must wear the body armor that will stop the weapon you are carrying. I disagree with that for several reasons. Body armor gives you an edge and nothing more. It never replaces good hard cover or solid tactics. Also, manufacturers are very, very conservative on how they rate the protection levels of their vests. We have level 3 kevlar panels, in concealable carriers, with rifle plate pockets.
If we feel a need for the plates, we can drop them in. I assure you though, that if I’m walking the four miles to town on a hot summer day to trade a cigarette lighter for a roll of toilet paper, I will not be in full battle rattle. Hopefully, no one will realize I’m even wearing body armor. Remember the Gray Man principle?
Whatever you choose to carry is up to you. I am not going to step into that minefield. The situation will dictate whether you should openly carry or conceal; use a handgun or long gun or both. Hopefully, you are well trained in their use and they are configured properly for how you intend to deploy them. For example, if you are carrying an AK with a 3 to 9 variable scope mounted to it and you’ve only fired it from the bench at the local range, you could be in real trouble in a running gunfight. I’m just saying…
Ammunition and Essentials
I must confess, I have a man purse. It looks vaguely military and has a comfortable shoulder strap. It will also hold an amazing amount of useful items and doesn’t make me look like I’m about to invade Iraq!
On my speculative jaunt to town to get toilet paper, it will contain what I think I need to get home. My shoulder bag has two pockets under the flap and two internal pockets, which are ideal for each holding a 30-round AR or AK magazine. With one in the rifle, that’s up to 150 rounds of ammo, which if I’m attacked will hopefully be enough to break contact and run away home!
The main compartment will contain my IFAK, survival gear, and a little bit of food to get me home. Did I mention that my handgun ammo will be on my makeshift battle belt in a magazine pouch, and I will also be carrying a knife or two? Yes, we have more serious load bearing equipment. For example, I got a good deal on universal chest rigs a couple of years ago. They are essentially set up for home defense and escape and evasion (bugging out!), and patrolling. Or in a pinch, they can be used for invading Iraq!
I mentioned my makeshift battle belt. There are all kinds of grossly expensive gear items out there, and I’ve spent my share of hard earned money on some of it. What I’ve learned is if something gets the job done, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the highest speed, mil-spec piece of gear on the market. My battle belt was cobbled together from police gear I’ve acquired over the years and stuff I’ve bought pretty reasonably from Amazon (I love Amazon!).
I started with a cordura nylon duty belt, belt keepers, a Leatherman tool, and a double magazine pouch. I added a kydex holster and a zippered pouch to carry minimal survival and first aid gear. I also added one kydex rifle magazine pouch– the most expensive piece of equipment on the belt! This setup is concealable under a jacket or an un-tucked oversized shirt, and it contains the absolute minimum of what I believe I would need to get home, including my canteen of course.
The Camelbacks and water reservoirs are great! If you have the logistics tail the military does. Before you head out on a mission in the military, you fill it up full of purified water and move out. If you run out of drinking water, that long logistics tail can usually resupply you. The draw backs are that if you have to refill from a source in the field, you just about have to disassemble your gear to do it. Also, they are heavy, hard to clean, and prone to being punctured. (See the previous comment about 19 year olds.)
We have canteens. I did some research and bought everybody a 34 oz, aluminum, Laken camping canteen with shoulder strap. It’s not something I would carry to war, but it’s robust and handy enough for the apocalypse. It’s easily refilled from a puddle or stream, while lying prone and keeping a watch for the bad guys, without stripping your gear. With a filter or supply of purification tabs, we’re good to go! Those canteens are not the only options for water carry we have, but they are the first line.
There are many water container options out there, from stainless steel to plastic. Just remember you need a minimum of a quart a day of clean drinking water just to survive. Obtain accordingly, and after the apocalypse, always carry drinkable water on you. It may save your life.
Physical Fitness and Training
I used to be one of those invincible 19 year olds, but life has crept up on me and taught me lessons I didn’t want to learn. I’ve always been one of those guys that would get hurt, could suck it up and drive on, and would recover quickly. However, I woke up one morning at the ripe old age of 58 and had two stints in my heart, a bulging L-4 L-5 disk, and bad knees, not to mention arthritis in my hips and did I say that I am now pre-diabetic?
I am losing weight and working out at the level of my limitations, and I assure you it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My advice is to get fit and stay fit! The key I’ve found is to keep moving. When you stop, you will die a lot quicker than you wanted to.
As to training, firing the minimum state CCW course and getting your permit doesn’t mean you are trained. Seek out training that will teach you how to fight with the firearms you have chosen. It can be expensive, but how much is your life and the lives of your loved ones worth? Also, my advice is to be adult and humble about it. In every course I’ve ever been to, there are always a few posers who are more interested in turning the session into a manhood measuring contest instead of absorbing good training. Ignore them, be humble, and focus on getting trained. Don’t take anything personally. Just train, and ignore the posers.
I’m lucky. I’ve had a lot of good training and experience, and I’m a good trainer. I’ve taught my kids and those around me how to shoot, move, and communicate. It may pay big dividends if the veneer of civility peels away at some point in the future.
You can be well trained and have all of the high speed weapons and gear on the market and still be cannon fodder in a gunfight. The most deadly weapon you potentially have is your knowledge and a tactical mindset.
On my hypothetical trading mission to town, I will not go alone, and if I go on foot I will not use the roads. I believe roads will be death traps in a post-apocalyptic world. Having said that, if vehicles are still working and fuel is available, the risk may be worth it if you know what to do if ambushed. I will cross that bridge if I come to it.
I know my area well, on and off the roads, and I can get around better than you might think. I live in a semi-rural area and have reconned alternate routes to places I may need to go on foot, with less chance of being observed. You need to know your area and make the terrain work for you. This applies in urban and suburban environments as well. I was taught as a young Ranger that speed, surprise, and violence of action will usually win the day. If, on our hypothetical trading jaunt, we are ambushed, me and mine will assault through the ambush because that’s how I’ve trained them. We will assault into their positions and cause as much mayhem as we can and run through and away to our last rally point, and hopefully regroup. Will we take casualties? Probably, but there is really no other option in that scenario. Any other option constitutes defeat and death!
Now let’s say we are moving through an area and a group of armed people step out and demand we surrender or give them our stuff. Nope! For one thing, if they were committed to violence, they wouldn’t be talking. I will make the quickest tactical assessment I can and start the dance! Remember what I said about speed, surprise, and violence of action?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I will not hesitate to employ violence if needed. I will not negotiate or equivocate if faced with potential violence in a post-apocalyptic world. Some of you may think I’m mentally deranged, and that’s okay. I am comfortable with possessing the ruthless resolve to protect my kith and kin, and I make no apologies for it.
Does that mean that I will shoot first and ask questions later? Not necessarily; I believe in live and let live, and I believe in charity and community. I will do whatever is within my power to be part of the solution as opposed to the problem and so will my children and those around me. Trust me; I hope to never get into a gunfight again, as long as I live!
In closing, I would like to say these are the opinions and conclusions I’ve come to after much thought and some trial and error. Regardless of whatever I may think, I’m sure the situation we could find ourselves in will dictate our responses. Be prepared the best you can and keep moving!
Be safe out there