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Sweet Spot For the 21st Century With Calibers Beating .308- Part 2, by Alpine Evader

Yesterday, I began writing by telling the summary up front. I said we recommend against adopting the beautiful, survival standard of .308/7.62x51mm caliber semi-automatic rifles. Instead, I stated, “The least expensive and best upgrade to any existing AR-15 fire team for high altitude blended threats is to purchase standardized barrels and stock up on single-use, heavier bullets.” I also shared about our survival group’s location decisions. So, who am I to make these statements and recommendations?

Author’s Relevant Background

I climbed my first 14,000+ foot peak at the age of 12 in a summer camp located smack dab in the middle of the Colorado Rockies. I am a father who looks out (logistically, physically, and spiritually) for six children within a blended family. My age is between forty and fifty years old and I’m in moderately good shape. Twelve to sixteen mile hikes with lightweight packs are something I still do. Backpacking is something I’m introducing to the children gradually.

I have over 35 years of outdoor experience and between five and ten years of military service with multiple combat deployments. I’ve consulted with law enforcement at various levels for the past twenty years and grew up at high altitude as well as living at sea level. Formal training includes multiple military environmental survival schools and Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training as well as SERE staff time. I am not a Marine Corps or Army Infantry veteran, but I am a combat decorated armed forces non-commissioned officer (NCO) veteran with an additional five years of experience licensed in civilian law enforcement/investigations, performed within remote and urban regions of the Rocky Mountain Southwest.

Our Group

Our group consists of aggressive hardcore military veterans living part time in a remote community with upwards of 35% households who are also veteran. We’ve been integrating for years. Due to key terrain, this is a hard place for someone to try and muscle into if we all pull together. Even if it were only up to an intelligence element, command element and two fire teams, our wee group could wreak a serious amount of damage and delay any marauding opposing force up to and including main battle tanks (using Concertina wire combined with secondary attacks, ask any Tread-head) and close off enough routes so that dismounted activity was all that was possible.

Physical Factors/Scenario Conditions

I do not recommend trying any of these without a doctor’s approval for your entire team. Don’t believe them; get a note from their doctor telling you it’s okay or bench them. Anyone could have a heart attack or altitude sickness at any time, and you do not want to be remote when this occurs. (Remote = where most of us will be doing our training.) We’ve had two fatalities from preventable issues. We take health very seriously.

Getting To The Neighborhood Fight

For a neighborhood protection team (NPT) scenario, you would have to get to the fight. How do you do train for this? Most folks would say you’d go in by car, but “just down the street” in a mountain community often means across hill and dale rather than arriving in a marauder’s kill zone on an open road.

Battle effectiveness means you must hustle to get there and start shooting, accurately, at various engagement distances, mostly point-blank (like within 300 yards). You’ll have to move to get there, then shoot, move and communicate as a Fire Team. This process is only as fast as its weakest link in the chain. If you have out of shape folks, they will bog down your maneuver and get people killed. That’s just a fact. Ask any jarhead 0311 or infantry 11B.

“But we’re all working day jobs and simply don’t have the time to acclimate and do physical training for extended periods at high altitude…” (I’ve heard it all before.)

Sources of Security-Related Physical Exertion Post-SHTF

Security-related physical exertion post-SHTF within a mountain retreat like ours will come from carrying a sustainment loadout on foot, cross-country skis, snowshoes, or mountain bikes, depending on the existential security threat (SHTF) and the opposing force (OPFOR) capabilities. Secondary transportation would be horseback or vehicle options. Terrain would be off-trail as well as Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), which is virtually anywhere there are more than three or four houses within rifle shot of each other. Worst case is you hustle everywhere at high altitude in rain, sleet, snow, darkness of night, and mud, mud, mud with people trying to kill you, your friends, or your family.

Someone asked me recently which holster I used during my investigative time. I told them that it really didn’t matter because I had my gun out every single time I needed to before the bad actor could react. Choose your battles and survive. By far the best fight to pick is the one that has a longer-range engagement with your enemy. So the most probable course of action (COA) is one that has regular intelligence updates and one in which you pick the fight that comes to you.

Sometimes that doesn’t work out, so you train for plan B, or plan C or D. Things like breaking contact effectively under a full combat load happen, perhaps to rally at high ground where you’ve prepositioned an ammo and sustainment cache.

Another Scenario

Here’s another scenario we thought of. Instead of responding as QRF to a firefight within a mile of your homestead by driving two to three miles of road to get there, a two-kilometer hustle on foot across a 800 foot elevation increase in armor and battle belt is probably going to be more practical, at least in our area of operations (AO). Think biathlon– ski and rifle Olympic sport, maybe on mountain bikes instead of cross-country skis, with a worst-case scramble up wet clay and rock slopes to get into fighting position. Besides, it’s from a direction that the OPFOR who engaged with your neighbor’s homestead will probably be watching a lot less than the roadway.

You just have to get there in time to make it count and with enough savagery to gut them like fish. Remember “Zombieland” Rule One: Cardio

Simulated Combat Training of MOUT At Altitude

One could simulate the combat effectiveness training of MOUT at altitude by building a three-gun range at 6,000 feet and another range at 8000 feet and then working through multiple trials after a mile and a half run/walk in full gear. MOUT effectiveness is limited to weapon employment in small or tight spaces. This mission is only for folks who like to patch holes in themselves or if you had to rescue your loved ones and had no other choices available.

Engagement Criteria For Civilians With A Day Job

Another engagement criteria would be set at something attainable for civilians or operators with a day job. This would typically be “break contact” drills done at altitude, built around a failed “hasty ambush” scenario or at the end of a ten to twelve-mile patrol at 8,000–9,000 feet. Imagine hustling away from an engagement but having some place you knew about and a resupply cache close at hand. That’s the “home field advantage”.

Therefore, our assumptions must add this caveat: Because of our philosophy and our integration into our chosen mountain community, we’re the sheepdogs who can detect, localize, identify, track, and attack outside marauders. In order to be effective, we must be light, fast, and unified in our elements. Otherwise, the wrong people will die. We are the citizens who must hold the line. We must not fail and let our community’s children be killed or enslaved.

Not Teenaged Marines But Retirees and Wives

This greatly concerns us because we are not teenaged Marines; we are military retirees or gimpy Veterans. We are wives, and we are retired or active law enforcement. Other teams may or may not decide to outfit appropriately given all the training and risks MOUT requires. We have Marines and other CQB upgraded government trained types across multiple services within our group. Our plan are also for more engagements within 400 yards, rather than distant engagements beyond 600 yards, which is how 6.8 SPC and upgraded 5.56mm came out on top rather than other cartridges we’d previously implemented, such as 300 Blackout.

Loadouts for Alpine, Sub-alpine & High Desert SHTF Operations

Here are my long-term study results. The optimum solutions I’ve found are in order of implementation ease/lowest cost of upgrade.

Upgrade and Standardize Existing 5.56mm Rifles With 75 Grain Ammo

It’s optimal to upgrade and standardize your existing 5.56mm rifles to support a common standard round adoption. Use the 75 grain Tula/Wolf 5.56mm ammo. It’s less expensive to upgrade your AR-16 barrel and use 75-grain ammo to upgrade your kill ratio past 300 yards doing this one, single thing. ARP (ar15performance.com) barrels work well across all lengths from 12.5″ to 20″, due to their twist rate. The price of the barrel from ar15performance.com was $185. A 75 gr. bullet will also perform better out of a short barreled rifle (well, SBR = AR-15 Pistol, right?) Get the 12.5″ barrel, making it optimum for vehicles and MOUT close quarters. Check out the ARP at ar15performance.com.

This should shoot well enough at short distances and, depending on the specific barrel, shoot better or equal to 55 grain. For the best bang for your buck, pick up a 16″ ARP barrel that has a 1 in 7.7 twist. The best weight to performance ratio is 12.5″ ARP 1 in 7.7 twist, for folks who want a ranch gun. Those two need to be tested next, but any toothpick 16″ barrel that shoots 75 grain ammunition has my vote for best combination.

For full patrol loadout for Tula 75 gr. have 12 mags with Tula and don’t worry about picking up your brass. This is because your brass is steel cased. You have only about 14 lbs. for 350 rounds of ammo to carry around. Plus, it’s inexpensive to stash in caches. If you’re into reloading, just look up the stats and test some loads that fall within 68 and 77 grain. Brass is cheap, so you should have no issue finding your squad’s sweet spot, particularly if you standardize your barrels!

Tomorrow, we’ll continue as I share more of my research findings.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part two of a four part entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest [4]. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator [5] from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses [6], excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper [7]. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees [8] in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate good for any product [9] from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator [10] provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 [11] Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  9. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses [12].

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of [13] Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  3. A large handmade clothes drying rack [14], a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  4. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners [15], donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections [16], a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances [17],
  7. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord [18] (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and

Round 73 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail [19] us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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Comments Disabled To "Sweet Spot For the 21st Century With Calibers Beating .308- Part 2, by Alpine Evader"

#1 Comment By George On October 4, 2017 @ 12:06 pm

Hard to take you seriously when you are recommending wolf steel case ammo in a AR platform as the best choice.

#2 Comment By SAM On October 4, 2017 @ 1:46 pm

I’m with you 100% but to be fair Patrick Sweeney has found them to work as well as brass for him in his guns.
The trouble with Tulammo ammo is, it’s not known for its accuracy. Come to think of it can anyone name any steel case ammo known for its accuracy. Steel cases are used to cut costs, nothing made for cost cutting is going to be the best.

#3 Comment By yancey Waddington On October 4, 2017 @ 12:42 pm

Steel shell casings are not equal in reliability to brass shell casings. I recently had a steel cased Tula 5.56 round break inside the chamber of my M-forgery, rendering the weapon inoperable. Please, steer clear of the cheap steel cased 5.56 ammo especially if your life could depend on a functioning firearm.

#4 Comment By Deplorable B Woodman On October 4, 2017 @ 2:24 pm

I can see a group standardizing on 5.56 for MOST of their people, for MOST of their operations. But I would think that the group would want at lest ONE person (depending on the size of the group) to have a .308/7.62 for those longer distance “reach out and touch someone” shots. Yes, weight for weight, you can carry more 5.56 than .308, but .308 will hit harder & farther and be more effective per hit than 5.56 “poodle shooter” rounds.

#5 Comment By Steve On October 4, 2017 @ 3:05 pm

Specialty ammunition is very unlikely to be available six months after TEOTWAWKI, while NATO standard rounds (7.62/.308 and 5.56/.223) will be. If you want to go with a non-standard round, try the .45 for your sidearm. Its a proven caliber, and you should be able to store sufficient ammo for a lifetime.

#6 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 4, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

Since we’ve had such interest in steel cased ammunition in the first segment, I will elaborate briefly on two reasons why we recommend it.

One of the main concerns we had long term was with the logistics of reloading. In a long term ‘Hard Reset’ we will have to face the fact that every bit of brass is money laying on the ground. By changing our patrol loadouts to Tula, we remove the concern should our patrols get into a firefight. We remove the concern that other people might reload our brass and then shoot it at us. This is also a strength of using nonstandard calibers; that brass is virtually useless to anyone who doesn’t shoot that caliber. 6.5 Grendel comes in steel cases, as does .308 and 5.56 as we mention here.

Here’s an interesting theory. 6.8 SPC is only in brass but not everyone has that caliber – anyone gleaning battlefields may end up repurposing our brass for us, and selling it back to us precisely because we’re the only consumers of it. That sword works both ways; we wouldn’t want any Black Ops using 6.8 SPC which is why we have different uppers available. It also drives our philosophy on caches, which we’ll discuss in future segments.

With maximum firepower effective from a 5.56mm rifle, the lethality envelope is extended, and car windshields ceace to be effective cover for opposing forces. That’s the second advantage of the 75 grain ammunition, which although it’s ‘single use’ and not easily reloaded, provides just a slight advantage over enemies who may be armed with AKs, .300 Blackout, or 55 grain 5.56mm rifles.

Physical endurance matters because if you’re in a fighting withdrawal and you open the distance by being in shape more than your opposition, you now have the opportunity to leapfrog by elements, laying down harassing fire which is more effective from 600 to 800 yards.

I’m pleased to report that this philosophy has become paralleled by one of our MAG interoperative teams. One of my Force Recon sources got back to me just before this was published. He revealed that his new survival team / MAG does high altitude mountain camping / training evolutions and they are in fact all using 6.5 Grendel AR-15s. They are interested in a 12.5″ barrel for the AR pistol, due to their shooting skills and their evasion skills which are enhanced by less weight of the primary weapon. The shorter barrel also allows them to use their AR in 3-gun with the cheaper disposable Tula ammunition.

I would hazard a hypothesis about that Veteran-centric MAG: they would seriously be a force to be reckoned with in SHTF. We’ve known them for over five years and we are happy to welcome them into our area of operations for training now before things get dicey later.

As a side note, we’ve had interest from our local law enforcement (you’ve created good, strong relationships with your ethical and like-minded LEO in your retreat area a priority as well, right?) in learning from these specialists / operators. Our objective is that we hope to host some mutually attended high altitude 3-gun competitions once we get the range set up. Obviously we’ve vetted everyone involved and OPSEC is second nature when the members of our team have undergone SERE training through the military. It’s just one way to bridge between the ‘red pill’ veterans and current ‘red pill’ law enforcement. Our hope is that this initiative unites regional, trusted, operational elements. It gets good face time for local LEO, particularly those who are third or fourth generation within our AO; they’re not going anywhere if SHTF and we feel supporting these individuals is in our best interest.

I bring all of this up to propose a concept; as a high altitude operations are developed, interest in the 21st century calibers that enhance the stock AR-15 (in place of the AR-10 platform) may increase in mountain regions.

Logistically this is in our best interest, because if a region’s LEO adopt this philosophy of use, our caches become more dual purpose. Here’s a scenario where this works out; ‘Slow Reset’ or gradual decline into WROL. Your LEOs become your best friends or worst enemies in that ‘slow reset’ depending on a lot of factors. Noting Colorado’s magazine ban and the plethora of sheriffs who refuse, to this day, to enforce it, local LEO attitude is a strong consideration for any retreat location.

Continuing with the ‘slow reset’ scenario, I would have no issue, for example, of specifically caching three or four ammo boxes where, years later, I could inform trusted LEOs. The conversation would be directed along lines that should they be hunting bad actors in a ‘Slow Reset’ scenario, or (more dire yet probable) be hunted themselves by bad actors, their personal evasion could be well supplemented by ammo our MAG / Fire Team emplaced years earlier. We may save lives by looking long term and aligning our actions in a small, OPSEC considered manner. 5.56mm is obviously a caliber that will never go away and therefore fits that logistical strategy today.

By providing that slight advantage through better ammo and/or better barreled rifles, the high altitude operators will have more options which we’ll cover fully as we examine the next segment.

#7 Comment By SAM On October 4, 2017 @ 5:25 pm

So your enemies have guns, mags, bullets, primers. powder, reloading equipment, time, but not cartridges?

#8 Comment By SAM On October 4, 2017 @ 5:49 pm

If they are that desperate for ammo they would just load the steel case. OK it would not be great but it can be done and hits not a lot harder than using brass. They may use Berdan primers which are a bit slower to remove, but who cares, you just have to line two pins up into two holes or use a hook. You just reload using a Boxer primer.
Just look on the net people have been doing this for years. In Africa and Afghanistan I would guest a lot of this ammo is used.
[20]
The only advantage of steel over brass is cost, and who plans on using a cheep parachute?

#9 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 4, 2017 @ 3:42 pm

It’s exciting to have so many responses to the article. Thank you for your time and consideration and I will try my best to answer the questions.

George: “Hard to take you seriously when you are recommending wolf steel case ammo in a AR platform as the best choice.”

– We tested Tula, not Wolf.

SAM: “I’m with you 100% but to be fair Patrick Sweeney has found them to work as well as brass for him in his guns.
The trouble with Tulammo ammo is, it’s not known for its accuracy. Come to think of it can anyone name any steel case ammo known for its accuracy…”

– Thank you for the kind words of support. We’ve seen similar positive results with them working as well as brass in our tests.

One of the MAG teams we are affiliated with, I discovered after writing this article, favored 6.5 Grendel also tested steel cased ammo and found it worked well enough for close in support, and they intend to use it for training purposes in 3-gun. The results they had was that it’s not sniper match grade quality but it will ring the gong. I would hazard a guess that their personal loadouts – as anyone would do who can take 14 magazines on a patrol – would probably be a mix of brass, match grade or handloaded along with the less expensive and more disposable Tula. The same philosophy of use is discussed more in the next segment. Another matter of ammo is that we’ve discovered that certain manufacturers work with certain barrels, which is why we emphasize the ARP (.223 Wylde) barrels within the team. It’s not like you’re going to miss by a mile, but unless you’re using the same standardized barrel, you can’t expect standardized results with different ammo types. Logistically we’ve put up more components for reloading – well about a fair split between components and off the shelf ammo. We have no shortage of brass cased ammo, and environmentally I think that the mil-spec annealed 5.56 plus lacquer sealed ammo is more weather resistant. We’re in the middle of a years-long test of this (load and unload magazines, carry them around the environment, etc.) so I can let you know how our tests go in 2020 when we conclude the longer term comparisons. 😉

yancey: “I recently had a steel cased Tula 5.56 round break inside the chamber of my M-forgery, rendering the weapon inoperable. Please, steer clear of the cheap steel cased 5.56 ammo especially if your life could depend on a functioning firearm.”

– This is good information but anecdotal. I don’t know anything else I could add except that we haven’t had the same malfunctions occur. I appreciate the feedback and hope that everyone takes that into consideration, we just have not had the same malfunctions occur. I’m not certain I could say why that occurred or if it is limited to merely the ammo type; one of our reloaders has mentioned that there are a lot of reasons why bad things can happen to ammo but that standardization of production ammo meant that there were a lot less risks, particularly when it came to the effort to manually produce the same quality ammo. We’re using .223 Wylde chambering, were you using just a 5.56mm or .223? We’re using Melonite conditioned barrels, etc. etc. Our testing has not yet shown the same results but your mileage may vary.

Steve: “Specialty ammunition is very unlikely to be available six months after TEOTWAWKI, while NATO standard rounds (7.62/.308 and 5.56/.223) will be. If you want to go with a non-standard round, try the .45 for your sidearm. Its a proven caliber, and you should be able to store sufficient ammo for a lifetime.”

– Thank you for your kind suggestions. In this segment we’re providing information on the lowest cost and best benefit modification which includes .223/5.56mm. In fact, it’s using a .233 Wylde chambered AR Performance (ARP) barrel. I am fortunate to know mountain state law enforcement officers who have also standardized their duty weapons to the .45, however we’re not discussing handgun calibers as much as we are rifle calibers. I personally agree and have carried .45 for over 25 years, but if we were looking at the next few segments which talk about weight and cache location strategies, we’d both have to grudgingly accept the 9mm has a better weight to smash ratio, and better ballistics for high altitude, mountainous usage… Perhaps that’s the backbone of another controversial article I could write…! As far as our survival team goes, we’ve kept an agnostic approach to handgun preferences because that’s like debating Protestant Reformation; everyone has their favorites. Our philosophy is that handgun ammo is something you personally cache; if you’re down to a handgun in the open mountainous terrain, you’re just one step above slingshots and war clubs. Rifle ammo is what we provision for caches as you’ll see in the future segments.

As far as the specialty ammunition, we’re pretty well provisioned for stockpiles, we have plenty of reloading stock, and with the 6.8 and 6.5 there are bolt action dual uses we’re exploring – the .270 can shoot the 120 grain Hornady SST but I don’t want to give away too much because the future segments will discuss this strategy and I look forward to your comments!

#10 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 4, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

Diversity of opinion is what I love about this forum. I should be ->paying<- JWR and HJL to submit my papers; I feel like the comment sections are precisely the change we needed and it makes my submission feel just like an anonymous, peer-reviewed study!!!

Thank you so much for the discussion, I see you readers as all experts in your own fields and I seriously welcome the debate. I am blessed beyond words to have this much interest, and it’s an answer to my prayers of whether I’m doing the right thing.

That being said, I know that you can’t swing a dead cat in a room of survivalists without hitting someone who prefers the standard milspec, but when multiple tour combat veterans younger than I are adopting and recommending a cartridge, I’d be a fool not to listen to what they’ve learned, to take the 21st century attitude towards what they’re using, and I’d be a fool not to consider three or four different strategies, applicable to you depending on your AO (mine is high desert, alpine and sub-alpine).

There’s a saying in the Marine Corps that I love – it’s the ‘rules of gunfighting’. It says, “If you know you’re going into a fight, bring a long gun. Bring friends. Bring friends with long guns.”

The concept of operations is that you bring as hard hitting a platform as you can into the fight, with weight and cost the limiting factors. 6.5 Grendel ammo has pancaked in cost, which is why in segment 1 I recommended that if a team were outfitting TODAY, that they consider standardizing on it. We did not do that due to the timing and cost of ammunition, but other teams of ‘red-pill’ SO-capable veterans we mutually assist have convinced me that it’s better than what we first adopted. Over beers and by listening to a former Army Ranger who is friends with a dear and trusted Marine veteran, I’ve become convinced that someone reading my series TODAY without a team should simply do the BLUF strategy because out west, in the Rockies, lots of actual operators and veterans in your AO likely use 6.5 Grendel to take advantage of the ‘big sky’ and wide open spaces these mountainous regions offer.

If you’re (1) leveraging the veterans within your AO and (2) you have a low population density AO, you’re well informed when marauders and looters are probing your isolated farm homesteads – and you’re the QRF (quick reaction force) who hits them hard supporting the defense of your neighbors, friends, and community. You’re the maneuver element, they’re the defensive force that has fixed fire upon the enemy.

Our philosophy is that yes, planning for ten years of operational viability requires flexibility, so we're not locked down to the 6.8 or 6.5. We ensure that we have 5.56mm uppers. But consider for a moment, that if you're patrolling an AO and you have more than a handful of firefights per year over that ten years, you're doing something wrong. What should be occurring is that your intelligence drives the fight. You shouldn’t be running out of ammunition when you’re operating within your territory but if you do run low on specialty ammo, you swap uppers and continue to use the stockpiled 5.56mm or .308 rounds you’ve acquired.

Intelligence driven security is critical and I did not cover this well enough in my article. I’m going to pipe up once again about the IPB concept that Sam Culper has graciously extended as a guest contributor to Survivalblog.com – if your intelligence preparation of the battlefield is done properly, you should be patrolling already pacified locations, where YOU hold the advantage, where YOU know what’s going on, and where YOU are fearing nothing in the valley of the shadow of death because you’re the baddest *** in the valley…!

Sam Culper’s recommendations echo the experience I have had with my street smarts driven experience; I’ve not cared what holster I bring to the gunfight because I’ve always, always, always chosen the time and place for my engagement with OPFOR during an investigation event. I always am the predator hunting the predators, and they instinctively know it when I find them, not the other way around. “I’m not a cop” strikes fear into the hearts and minds of criminals when you show up on their doorstep, or their mistresses' doorstep, asking for them to return what they’ve taken (stolen goods or runaway children). It has worked. Every single time. I’m still alive.

Choose your fights by planning ahead, engage with clear ROE along the lines of Mattis – “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery, but if you **** with me, I’ll kill you all,” as well as “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet”. Two decades ago these concepts not yet voiced kept me alive in the 1990s in a mountain state with mixed rural and urban populations. Sam Culper’s advice will do likewise for you going forward. It’s a mindset, not equipment, and it decreases your risks of a firefight.

As survivalists, we shouldn’t be the Assault or Support elements in a firefight unless absolutely necessary, but when it is necessary, we should choose our engagements carefully and drive the stake of fear directly into any looters or marauder’s hearts so that they know that simply approaching our AO will elicit a response.

*** We should never be fighting from the doorstep of our homesteads after the first 180 days of a Hard Reset, we should be wrapped up tightly with the other ethically like-minded (Christian in my instance) survivors who have endured their baptism of fire, and ensuring that their children as well as our children are secure.

– If you’re careful with your planning, you’re not engaging week after week with marauders after the first few months of a ‘Hard Reset’ or a ‘Soft Reset’. Ammo usage should be training purposes and hunting only, if you're doing IPB correctly.

– If you’re looking out after your front line of thin blue line LEO’s in your AO, they’re the ones who are working Assault, and your team is working Security when it comes to job tasking. Security is critical, but exists so that Assault and Support elements can do their jobs without being flanked in a counter-attack.

– If you’re operating well with vetted, skilled survivalists who are ethically aligned within your AO, you’re mutually mitigating risks and sharing information securely on the threats. That pushes out the perimeter of threat, making patrols more effective.

– If you’ve kept your ‘red pill’ died-in-the-wool-local LEO’s alive in the first 180 days, they’re the ones making first contact with strangers, mitigating your personal risks. They’re the ones manning checkpoints, with overwatch from hard-hitting survivalists who absolutely have ROE to keep them safe 24/7.

Bottom Line: Intelligence is critical, interoperability and ethical alignment is critical which is why you need to be doing outreach NOW if you’re in a small community, so they trust you after WROL hits, Hard or Soft Reset.

I know you’ll look forward to the justifications of weight and logistics made in the final segments, and of course I welcome opinions and a heavily data-driven discussion on which strategy you’ve adopted, whether it works for your team (not lone wolf) and how well you’ve seen training improve. While this is all theoretical until SHTF (and it will) we're all in it together, and 'as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another' as Proverbs 27 says.

#11 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 4, 2017 @ 5:07 pm

Deplorable B Woodman: “I can see a group standardizing on 5.56 for MOST of their people, for MOST of their operations. But I would think that the group would want at lest ONE person (depending on the size of the group) to have a .308/7.62 for those longer distance “reach out and touch someone” shots. Yes, weight for weight, you can carry more 5.56 than .308, but .308 will hit harder & farther and be more effective per hit than 5.56 “poodle shooter” rounds.”

— You’re going to love tomorrow’s segment, and the final conclusion. I can’t wait to hear your feedback on the very controversial conclusions we’ve reached.

A hint – we agree completely. We just have discovered tremendous limiting factors with .308. With existing survival groups who have logistically supported .308 there is no change, particularly if they are not light-fighting or plan for evasion from a homestead within high elevations. However… for those of us who are piecemeal, or ad hoc groups, organizing logistics around .308 to provision high altitude resupply locations becomes problematic. Particularly in the weight and cost of .308 AR resupply strategies.

Most of the survivalist mentors I have are a generation older than I am, and they’ve standardized very closely to JWR’s Patriots team. They’re completely vertically integrated when it comes to logistics (reloading components, actual surplus ammo, et al). I don’t ask and they don’t tell specifics, but I would hazard a guess that mining shafts near their AO’s are easily modified to hold caches with little effort to resupply. After all, if you’ve got a locked and potentially dangerous mine, not many people want to bust the lock and see what’s inside (typically hibernating rattlesnakes, etc.).

I’ve had to listen to my younger veterans and actually sit down with them over beers and be tutored in why, what, etc. drove them to choose their standards. We ourselves batted the concept around for the 6.8SPC we adopted over six years ago. The final issues were what we discuss in the next post of the series, and I’m really looking forward to your feedback and critiques in the next two segments!!

Thank you once again, I hope that you give these factors careful consideration – it’s hard to gain inertia against a stalwart like the .308, and we ultimately had a solution for its integration which will surprise you, but will satisfy you and make perfect sense.

Looking back, I could have titled this series, “How to adopt or reject the .308 standard from a logistical point of view considering high altitude resupply criteria…”

#12 Comment By Deplorable B Woodman On October 4, 2017 @ 10:04 pm

AE,
I eagerly await the ‘morrow.

#13 Comment By sideshow On October 4, 2017 @ 5:37 pm

“damage and delay any marauding opposing force up to and including main battle tanks”

wow.

but you’re not likely to face a tank. you’re more likely to face someone who’s equipped and trained and operating just like you – after all, that is the most effective survival strategy. could you find and deal with a force equipped as you are plus with m24’s and m252’s?

#14 Comment By Skip On October 4, 2017 @ 5:52 pm

A most interesting read. I am very interested in how your group is going to defeat a modern tank or tanks?
A bit of hubris is like pride, the fall is great.

Also, is the retreat prepared for air assaults? I mean your preps seem taylored to a military attacks and if the powers to be want your retreat, they will use all their tools.

#15 Comment By pdxr13 On October 4, 2017 @ 11:33 pm

Tanks are “defeated” by being stopped. They remain dangerous, but they are just pre-dead with ammo remaining. After a while, they will be buried by a rockslide, burned with wood fires, blown up with cheap placed explosives, or just wait until the crew has to pee or gets thirsty to begin surrender negotiations.

Tanks are “winning” in the wide open between the front range of the Rockies and the middle flats of N. America, but not necessarily in the mountains. Tanks are safe enough when supported and protected by lots of combat support vehicles/people as well as infantry to keep cheap Soviet antitank rockets out of range while transiting dangerous places like mountains.

Have you heard of “peak oil”? US conventional oil peaked in 1970 and world oil probably peaked around 2004. Tanks are fuel HOGS. When US Dollars don’t buy world oil, tanks won’t run much. Bicycle infantry: because we will be able to make tires and chain lube with domestic oil.

I’m not worried about tanks when off-road in Alpine or sub-Alpine sloped terrain.

#16 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 4, 2017 @ 6:31 pm

sideshow: “…could you find and deal with a force equipped as you are plus with m24’s and m252’s?…”

Nope. That would be a failure across many levels, particularly a serious failure in intelligence. Hence the term ‘alpine evader’. We build evasion into our curriculum of survival skills, just like the military does with high risk of capture people. Remember, I worked at SERE as staff and mentioned that in this segment. They don’t teach pilots or intel weenies how to be special operators, they teach them how to run away, hide, evade, and tie down the enemy searching for them while they get back to fight as they are trained, using their minds.

Thank you for your discussion point, I think that your post and my post that considers intelligence (above) likely crossed within the cyberspace.

You bring up a good point and I hope that I answer your criticism effectively. Remember, we don’t fight the fight we hope for, we fight the fight that we must.

I think that escape and evasion is a key and integral component for anyone who carefully considers when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. In the future segments we cover this criteria briefly, so I’m glad you brought it up as a concern. It’s my fault in writing the article that I wasn’t clear enough in my lead-in to give you the teaser of that being a consideration.

However, carefully consider your example that you give, in light of that force having to first reach the alpine or sub-alpine, high desert location. Time and distance, dimensions of combat, remember?

They have to come from somewhere, they have to get there somehow, and they have to have a logistics support. What, are these aggressors walking through several hundred miles of desert or prairie to end up in my AO? Do they come from 20 miles away (and would I know about them already) or do they come from 200 miles away?

Are they driving, and if so, in what type of vehicle? How do they refuel? What roadways are they limited to? Has my team had a chance to intercept or thwart their intelligence through our own CI? Have we intercepted radio or cyber communications and are we surprised or not?

What if our AO was interlocked with other AOs, run by cooperative veteran-centric survivalists, who we’d spend years integrating operations with? Would that help to defeat this team of marauding special operators, kitted out with $10,000 worth of gear each, and able to traverse 200 miles or more from the nearest mid-sized metropolis?

These are valid questions. I think that yes, when I stated up to and including a Main Battle Tank, I meant your OPFOR example… provided that they left from Phoenix, Denver, Albuquerque, Spokane, Missoula, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, or any metropolitan area within 200 miles of the Rocky Mountain region which I draw a broad brush across for OPSEC purposes.

If they’re within my AO, they’re either good or bad and the first 180 days should determine what level of threat they provide. Being well integrated into a community means that you have more assets – intelligence and physical – and that you can work well with whoever is providing services (security, water, power, food) on a continuing basis. If you’re working well with Christian-centric people you’re probably going to know a lot more than someone just popping up on your homestead’s doorstep.

As far as finding a force that infiltrates hundreds of miles on foot, through hostile-to-them territory (do you have Indian Reservations counted into this, or large ranch outfits, as mutually aiding assets?), I would be pretty confident that our years spend interlocking our operations with other like-minded veterans and Christians (and Christian Veterans) would give us a heads up about anyone bushwhacking through even if they were on foot.

Logistics, as I’ve said in the first post, are how you determine professionals. If these Ten-K Cowboys were able to hump the food it takes for 200 days on foot, or they prepositioned it ahead of time in order to siege and storm my homestead, they might win the day. If they have to drive, ride horses or motorcycles, or convoy up in school buses and garbage trucks, their scalps belong to me and mine, several hundred miles from my homestead and family.

That’s the power of community and intelligence. If we get the intel prep of the battlefield done right and it combines with our MAG affiliations / comm plan, then we’re going to support our allies a hundred miles out, at defined chokepoints, and take. Them. Out.

I hope this helps.

#17 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 4, 2017 @ 6:45 pm

Skip: “A most interesting read. I am very interested in how your group is going to defeat a modern tank or tanks? A bit of hubris is like pride, the fall is great. Also, is the retreat prepared for air assaults? I mean your preps seem taylored to a military attacks and if the powers to be want your retreat, they will use all their tools.”

I think my previous answer about evasion sums this up, and before I went into tanks I would ask you to first ask your resources about how well concertina wire works, or how it concerns the tankers. Maybe you have different information than I do, and I’d like to hear more data-driven discussion about this, perhaps in a contribution you make to the survivalblog.com.

There is no hubris when it’s a careful consideration and you obtain the right personnel with the right training within your inner team’s decision making. It’s just one more check in the block. This is a dispassionate discussion about capabilities, but I failed to communicate the emphasis on IPB in my initial series, so that is my fault, not yours.

You bring up great points about other threats. Of course, I don’t stockpile Stinger missiles or AT-4s, but I’ve actually held an SA-16 Gimlet and locked on several kinds of my own force’s aircraft. It’s a humbling experience if you fly in military aviation, to understand exactly how easy the OPFOR has it. Virtually any goatherder could tote around these weapons and make life miserable within two miles of where his or her goats or sheep were grazing. If I, operating in a WROL world, happened to incentivize some tribal herdsmen around my AO with a bounty, and secured some interoperability with their local veterans who we had already built a relationship with, it might tip the scales in my favor.

That’s more of philosophical answer. I think if you have a lot of concerns about aviation and others do as well then I should do another series on how to combat aerial threats. I’ve been reviewing Part 107 of the FAA’s guidance on UAS – unmanned aerial systems – which I think is the larger and more probable threat. The findings we have – cybersecurity centric for the data pipeline to and from the drone – are that there are always ways…

I think if you have drones, you have operators of the drones and a combat radius to deal with. If you have OPFOR of a nation state level, you’re fighting the wrong battle. Nobody’s going to win against an F-35 that pops a 500 lb bomb onto your house. Still, that pilot has to eat, sleep and poop somewhere. The right intel puts an asset into his portapotty with a Ka-Bar. “Shhhhhh….”

However. Those are all theories on how to combat asymmetric forces and without a foundation on 4th Generation Warfare which would be its own article, we’re at an impasse. You’ll play your little games in the Apocalypse and my team will play ours.

I do appreciate the comment and look forward to your article on how best to combat the threat. I don’t know everything, we’ve just considered a lot and ‘iron sharpens iron’, as Proverbs 27:17 states. We are merely providing information to discuss options in order to make the survivalblog community stronger as a whole.

Thanks again, I hope you enjoy the details within the upcoming segments!

#18 Comment By Don Williams On October 4, 2017 @ 8:29 pm

1) I would suggest your group consult a lawyer even if this is all just planning for an event that may never occur. Some states, for example, ban paramilitary training although I don’t know how one distinquishes between that and paintball games.

2) I foresee difficulty in claiming “self-defense” if you have to shoot someone 200 yards away. There was still a legal system that put gunfighters on trial even in the wild wild west days of 1870.

3) I think you would gain much more freedom of action by working with the local sheriff to arrange to be made sworn deputies in the event SHTF. That would also provide you with immunity from any federal gun confiscation schemes — and do not underestimate the draconian powers of FEMA in a national emergency. Any “militia” is subject to being drafted into federal service and sent to handle food riots in Chicago, for example. Local government officials are usually –but not always– immune to such drafts due to separation of powers in the Constitution.
Plus being deputies would also lessen any members inhibitions about actual use of force and greatly lessen concerns about future lawsuits.

4) However, your members may find police discipine irksome (background checks,etc.) but much of that would probably be discarded if SHTF.

5) IPB is NOT the same as actual intelligence and direct action operations. You need strong tradecraft to avoid having your unit identified and taken apart — look at how infiltrators and turned hostages let the Gestapo take apart French resistence networks in WWII, for example.
Comms is the spy’s vulnerability. Hence,
One time pad encryption. counter-surveillance. dead drops. cut-outs.

Also ,Compartmentation. What happens if one member of your unit is captured and forced to betray you –identify all your members, techniques and caches — in order to keep his family from being killed?

6) You also need strong counterintelligence — traveling salesmen that buy people drinks at the local bar might be a spies for a hostile bandit force. Know your enemies. Who may be the ruling elites the next town over. The county courthouse has a long tradition of screwing over the outlying regions/residents. IT is useful to be close enough to participate in county politics, travel in to attend meetings at night and have allies who will warn you early. Close tyrants can become a bigger pain than distant ones in Wsshington.

7) < <>> Also, some marine parachute flares have candlepower and burn times similar to mortar illumination rounds if you get hit with night time human wave attacks.

8) Mountain terrain gives the advantage to the attacker, not the defender. Raids. Ambushes. Mines/boobytraps. Sniping. Assassination. You need to guard against all. America’s Indian wars showed that the most effective way to break/destroy an evasive enemy was to raid his harvests in the fall, burn them and wait for his women and children to starve to death over the cold winter.

#19 Comment By Robert, NC On October 4, 2017 @ 9:12 pm

Lots to think about here. Thanks for posting this. I spend a number of years in the Army infantry 11B and 11M. My service was mostly during the Cold War. During that time I participated in REFORGER three times. Once as light infantry, once using M113’s and once as a Bradley gunner. REFORGER Was a multi week training exercise in the German mountain ranges.

This is what I remember:
1. When humping your own body weight through mountains you can eat 10,000 calories a day and still lose weight.
2. Tracked vehicles hate mountain roads and terrain. Often tracks slidie (just a few feet from the edge of a major a cliff in my case) and it can be near impossible to get a sight lock at high angles.
3. Even with a helicopter, medical evacuation is very difficult.
4. You don’t know what Cold even is until you’re sleeping thousands of feet up on a mountain in winter.

Mountains are a no joke environment that will kill those without extensive training and preparation. I wouldn’t even think of it without getting in Olympic shape and going through a wilderness EMT course. Brutal doesn’t even cover it.

But, if you can handle the physical, emotional and psychological stress (cabin fever is a real thing). And you can pull off the massive logistics needed to make it through winter, I tip my hat to you. In fact I must say I’m a little jealous.

#20 Comment By BobW On October 5, 2017 @ 5:03 am

When can we expect fact based discussion on why 5.56 and 7.62 are inferior munitions? I seem to recall at the opening of part 1 that there was fact based analysis in favor of adopting several different “21st century” munitions.

I understand the anecdotal evidence that supports the Creedmore, 6.8 SPC II, and Grendel rounds, but I’ve also seen very favorable discussion of the new-ish 85gr 5.56 round in 1/9 barrels at high elevations (6000+).

The title and lead-in indicate there is some sort of nexus where elevation, bullet speed, expansion, and penetration makes one round hands down superior to the “old school” rounds, but the series has drifted farther and farther away from the original discussion.

I understand the size and weight differences between 7.62 and 5.56, and through that, extend it to the other AR based munitions, but there is balance in everything. Easy inter-operability with the plethora of 7.62/.308 and .223/5.56 platforms, be it bolt action or semi-automatic is a consideration.

On the other hand, variety is the spice of life. While I have not fully investigated the ballistic constraints of the .300 BLK round fully, it shows promise in a handful of situations, one being short barrel arrangements, and silenced operations. Personally, I cannot see the Creedmore being used as more than a marksman role at this point. Part of the magic of the 5.56 was its double-zero ballistic, making it a capable chambering in point blank to intermediate ranges.

All of my observations are just that my own anecodal observations on the subject. They lack academic rigor, chronography -sp, penetration and expansion analysis, etc.

If any of this came across as anything more than inquisitive, chalk it up to printed words not conveying their author’s intent.

#21 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 5, 2017 @ 5:12 am

Wow! This is how you do a peer review!

This seems to be a richer subject than I expected when I first wrote about it – we’ve started discussing some really great concepts here, more pertaining to the geography of survival than the actual requirements of the armament!

Don: (lots of great details) plus a few points that I’d like to answer.

– First, assume that points 1-6 are covered, and I can’t thank you enough for validating my precautions as an anonymous third party. My team will have to suck it up as they read your analysis. Are you one of my neighbors, I wonder, as I write this…? Did you do likewise in your preparations, do you have a team, can you share details in a secure fashion so that I might learn more about your personal approach? I have not let looked through old articles; please know that I’m a fanboi about the approach you’ve brought up. Due to OPSEC, I cannot detail this response but I do want to extend you the same respect and provide some bare details.

– Just to briefly cover things, yeah, we chatted with a very close attorney who happened to be prep-centric (that’s rare) before we launched this endeavor. He’s got his own compound in the middle of nowhere but at low altitude far closer to major populations than we like.
– We don’t do maneuvers in public areas… but we do play sporting events like 3-gun. National forests (NOT National Parks) require a small game license to openly carry firearms, even in very restrictive states this is still true and has no requirement for either a rifle or a pistol. You may be liable for center fire rifle restrictions in deer season in some states, but as far as I know I’ve never heard of someone being more than lightly inconvenienced. We’re not a ‘militia’ either so that’s a bullet dodged in my opinion. We’re not spoiling to fight anyone, but we don’t want trouble showing up at our doorstep either.
– Self defense past 200 yards… well, we don’t like to be constrained. Counter-sniper capability is important to consider. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in rural areas as my bio information indicates; I’m not too concerned about having to justify any conflicts we had to resolve post-SHTF. Perhaps you mean how to handle matters within the ‘Soft Reset’ versus a ‘Hard Reset’…? It’s a concern, but bags of lime and a shovel can cure a lot of that. Not my issue that I’ll discuss here but better to have it and not need it… than to need it and not have it.
– Local LEO interoperability… I think the sheriff concept is fully developed within your notes, we covered that but also my previous post might have answered a bit more and passed by yours unseen in the ether. With a good rep and good community standing I think we got this one nailed for now.
– IPB vs. full scale intelligence – I’d be going far past my scope of the discussion points if I really laid out all the intel which is why I referred readers to check out one of the better (and more modern) SHTF sources I’ve found, Sam Culper. By reading past survivalblog.com articles on SHTF Intelligence most folks could handle this.
– CI – counterintel – we’ve got a pretty good handle on that but I’d love to hear more about how you see this going. For us, having strong roots within the community and compartmentalizing our strategies is about all we can do. The risk to staying isolated is a foregone conclusion; that’s a decision we’ve made already but we’ve kept the exposure to a minimum and expect to do the same in the future. Humble, effective, and friendly. Good points about the Germans and Resistance though. I learned about that compromise in SERE school, your education in the matter shows either scholarly development or a background in similar fields as mine.

Don: “Arson…human wave attacks…”

– For step 7 – well, yes… you bring up good points but OPSEC dictates me not to go into details particularly about incendiary or explosive solutions except to emphasize that with a good intel plan you shouldn’t have ‘barbarians at the gates’ as an issue in the first place. If they trekked a massive force through the terrain features we should have had covered, we should be retreating in haste which brings me to (8).

Don: “Mountain terrain gives the advantage to the attacker, not the defender…Indian wars…”

– There’s a lot that we may agree to disagree upon in your perspective. Consider two counterpoints – first, the Apache as detailed within the book ‘Spider and Starfish’ which discusses decentralized management methods. Google it, you’ll find an abstract PDF which gives you enough background to consider my counter-point. Second, the mountain advantages you list to the attacker are precisely why we intend to evade to the high ground. Let’s get into that part more.

Don: “Raids. Ambushes. Mines/booby traps…”
– Why the assumption is that we could not employ these in our own backyard I’m trying to understand. Maybe there’s a concept of defense in depth which would allow me to explain the strategy of evasion; you leave a bad situation and if the enemy follows, you destroy him at the time and place of your choosing. Raids, ambushes and booby traps right down their throats. Bad plan to follow me and mine into the deep dark woods or highlands. Dirt nap kind of bad plan.

It’s not like there aren’t historical and American precedents to this. Chief Joseph, Nez Perce tribe falling back in a fighting withdrawal is one. He made it nearly 1000 miles, just stopping 50 miles from Canada because his people were suffering too much for him to bear. Before that he was popping Union soldiers who had veterans from the Civil War. Sherman (yeah, THAT Sherman) thought the world of Chief Joseph. It’s a great story, check it out when you get a chance.

Robert, NC: “Lots to think about here. Thanks for posting this… Mountains are a no joke environment that will kill those without extensive training and preparation. I wouldn’t even think of it without getting into Olympic shape and going through a wilderness EMT course. Brutal doesn’t even cover it.”

– Thanks bud. High praise from someone who recalls how nasty winter in the mountains can be. It sounds like you understand the logistics challenge we’re facing but it’s so awesome to have Old Man Winter on your side. I’ve gone hiking with former Marines who failed to recognize the hit they’d take from altitude, my girl and I pretty much crushing their expectation above 9000 feet. You haven’t lived until you’ve gone above timberline to hit a 11k+ peak and had to turn back due to poor weather ¾ mile from the peak. That’s learning your limitations and respecting the mountain.

– I like skis and snowshoes. I don’t mind the cold one bit as long as I’m dressed properly and dry as a bone in it. The Germans, by the way, have excellent 21st century winter gear. Almost as snug as the Polish gear, which we’re going to test further this year. We’re amazed at how well some of the US gear works as well, even the older stuff from my time (yours as well). Layers are your friend, and OPSEC prevents me from detailing all the cool stuff we figure we’d use to stifle IR and thermal signatures, but it’s not super expensive. Shelter is a serious consideration and you better have spare gear that works stuck into a hole in the ground. I like the German and Polish gear because it’s affordable and simply, it works. You’d better have calories as well. We figured 4000 calories per day but we’re old now and probably not burning 10k like you mentioned. I know one of my mountain friends has a relative now in the USMC who came out of boot camp, we compared notes, and he was figuring 5000 cal per day going in during boot. There’s a reason why rural kids make the best special forces. They’re tough and grew up hard. I doubt that any nation’s front line troops could handle Rocky Mountain winter pursuit, let alone the expected marauders who might be an organized threat past the first 180 days.

– You mentioned stress. That’s the wild-card here. We have multiple families and we have accommodations, but humanity is a funny thing. Cabin fever is a symptom of too much time on one’s hands, according to senior NCOs I worked with, so plenty of fix-it work and watches often cures that. We look at board games, card games, paper games and a full library of fiction and nonfiction to fill in the off time. That’s another article entirely, but it’s a serious hazard of mountain living.

– I think the Wilderness EMT course is a great suggestion; altitude sickness is ever-present. Without giving too much away for next segment, lightening the load and caching personal gear is a critical requirement. We set the bar at ‘what if I had to evade from town away from the homestead with only the clothes I was wearing and first line gear (rifle, battle belt).

SAM: “So your enemies have guns, mags, bullets, primers, powder, reloading equipment, time, but not cartridges?”

– Um… //speechless// I don’t know what you want me to say. Can we agree to disagree? I always figured that survival is a game of inches, like the ground game in football. Why give someone else inches by leaving brass all over the place in hostile territory? If they’re awesome at reloading then steel or aluminum cases should be no issue but… reloading them is a pain. It doesn’t have to be our pain.

– Let me put this another way. I wanted to address two things – primacy of action being one. Remember the old school shootouts in the 1980s or so when they’d find dead detectives with handfuls of brass because they were trained in holding their brass when they reloaded their revolvers. Google it. The result is the same as aviation will teach you – you fight like you train. If I train my kids, girl, other team members the same that when they do a mag dump they blast it out, then dump the mag, and we don’t scurry around grabbing all of the brass then in duress and stress they’ll fall back to the training routine where the shells mean zero. That’s what I want – it’s a small thing but it’s important. I don’t want someone going back to a combat zone and rooting around for brass a week or two later. I want them to fire and forget, truly expendable. As well, I want cartridges that won’t come apart and are lacquered against weather. I want barrels that shoot predictably when we use a standard ammo. If they shoot 2 MOA that’s fine – we carry match grade ammo we hand load for the standard barrels.

SAM: “(provides a really good primer on how to load steel cases)” plus, “The only advantage of steel over brass is cost, and who plans on using a cheap parachute?”

– I’m no reloading expert, but I did mention at the last of this segment that “…If you’re into reloading, just look up the stats and test some loads that fall within 68 and 77 grain. Brass is cheap, so you should have no issue finding your squad’s sweet spot, particularly if you standardize your barrels!”

– My point is >>>not<<< that you adopt the steel if you find it distasteful. This is the LOWEST cost solution, with more solutions to come in the next segment. Lowest cost: buy new barrels for existing AR-15s when you onboard new team members into your group, figure out what length you want, figure out a load that works (steel 75 grain is cheaper than brass match grade 77 grain) and you’re well on your way for the best and cheapest fix for high altitude logistics. We’ll cover more on this barrel and bullet issue in the next segment, so it might make more sense then.

Thanks again everyone, for helping me to understand my shortcomings in communication. I’ve learned a lot and I look forward to tomorrow’s comments!

Alpine Evader

#22 Comment By Don Williams On October 5, 2017 @ 1:46 pm

Followup:
1) To clarify my point about mountain terrain giving the advantage to the attacker, I was referring to the difficulty of you patrolling around your home base (where dependents live –mothers, children, elderly ). It can be difficult to patrol the slopes well enough to defend the home base against a night attack by hostile infiltrators if they have expertise.
Advantage goes to the preemptive strike — the reason why mountain feuds like the Hatfields and McCoys are so murderous.

2) Your maneuvering is not constrained by the slowest member of your paramilitary unit — it is constrained by the slowest and weakest member of your extended family unit. Your well conditioned warriors may be able to run uphill at high altitude and evade the enemy–but what about their wives, children and parents?

#23 Comment By Don Williams On October 5, 2017 @ 2:06 pm

1) PS Re the Germans vs the French Resistance, the resistance members feared betrayal by their fellow countrymen more than the Gestapo. Not just from within the network. It can be very hard to totally conceal activity from the surrounding community — keeping things truly clandestine takes a lot of hard, time-consuming work. The burden and inefficiency is so difficult that shortcuts are inevitably taken. 100% operational security is infeasible.

2) It only takes one disgruntled person in the community to wreak enormous harm by betraying you –whether for money, for food or out of fear.
Look at the enormous power of the federal government and the harsh penalties it can impose on intel workers who leak classified info. Yet look at the damage from Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

#24 Comment By Alpine Evader On October 5, 2017 @ 9:10 pm

pdxr13 : “Tanks are “defeated” by being stopped… …Tanks are fuel HOGS… …I’m not worried about tanks when off-road in Alpine or sub-Alpine sloped terrain.”

– Concur 100%. Tanks, helicopters, and APCs are not well suited for mountains. Things get really ‘Red Dawn’ quickly once you start dealing with steep mountain passes (–”Wolverines!”–) Thank you for your reply, you hit the highlights quickly and with accuracy. Future forecasting for Soft Reset – if you pick a retreat location in a mountainous region that is fairly close to oil refineries, or to energy production like coal mining and power plants, you might have the best of all worlds. Hard Reset is harder to predict, but it’s fairly easy to project power out of a mountain stronghold than to project power INTO a hostile mountain stronghold…

BobW : “When can we expect fact based discussion on why 5.56 and 7.62 are inferior munitions? I seem to recall at the opening of part 1 that there was fact based analysis in favor of adopting several different “21st century” munitions. I understand the size and weight differences between 7.62 and 5.56, and through that, extend it to the other AR based munitions, but there is balance in everything. ”
– The case is not along the ballistics as much as it is along the weight and cost of AR-10 magazines. The weight in high altitude combat is a significant penalty. The great news is that yes, 5.56 can perform somewhat significant and should be adopted, and yes, .308 is amazing… but neither are exclusively the best round when you’re considering alpine and sub-alpine environments. I think you’ll really like the next few segments which will deal with cost and weight and effective ballistic performance, but we simply limit the topic to logistics like cost and weight, with less technical discussion of the sectional density or terminal velocity. I don’t chart everything because my focus is on the logistics, with smash stats up for nearly all of these rounds showing that .308 is the Destroyer of Worlds… Which also weighs a lot and that is what counts above 7000 feet. 6.5 Creedmoor is the best overall ballistically, with 6.5 Grendel behind it, which beats out 6.8SPC only after about 400 yards or so. 5.56mm with a better bullet is implied, but Grendel costs the same. The cost of ‘better 5.56mm bullet’ tends to flatten after $0.60 per round where 6.8SPC is priced. The discussion in the final segment will work around what composition of forces and what cache foundational elements do we take into account. Main takeaway from the next segment: Cost per cache is critical to consider. Second main takeaway: Weight per cache is critical to consider.

BobW : “Easy inter-operability with the plethora of 7.62/.308 and .223/5.56 platforms, be it bolt action or semi-automatic is a consideration. On the other hand, variety is the spice of life. Personally, I cannot see the Creedmore being used as more than a marksman role at this point. Part of the magic of the 5.56 was its double-zero ballistic, making it a capable chambering in point blank to intermediate ranges.”
– These are absolutely valid points which I hope we somewhat cover in the next segments. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but in providing a BLUF I think I might have skewed the discussion.
Here’s some operational theory on the whole marksman concept which I didn’t put into the article. I agree with you about the Creedmoor (aka 6.5CM) being used as a DMR – Designated Marksman Rifle as its best suitability. With the AR-10 platform however, you swap an upper and now you’re using a .308 with a 16” barrel, same magazines, etc. A bolt-action 6.5CM would work well, however the .270 shoots nearly as flat as the 6.5CM which shoots nearly as flat as the .300 Win-Mag without the recoil punishment.
A bolt-action, magazine fed 6.5CM would be a low weight way to get a DMR… But another option is to simply use a lower cost caliber that’s well standardized – the .270. Boone and Crockett statistics are dominated by .270 Win year after year (although they lump in all .270s) so it’s a proven performer for nearly 100 years after having been introduced in 1925. Brass for reloading .270 Win can be obtained from 30-06 brass (I get a lot of mine by pulling old ammo and repurposing the black-tip .30 bullets) and the really awesome thing about .270 Win is that the SST loads provide a super smooth match grade hand load once you standardize brass, primer, and bullet for your rifle. Just about everyone sells a deer rifle in .270 and it can take down virtually any animal in North America. I’ve never been in a Wal-Mart that doesn’t have .270 on the shelf even during the hard times of 2013-2014, but 6.5CM was right there alongside it.
I say all of this to say that when we’re talking about bolt-action, most of us who grew up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s in a gun culture household all have bolt-action rifles which could be repurposed for fairly accurate 400 – 700 yard shooting. .243 Win and .270 Win, 30-06 and 7mm, everyone’s got them. If you have more .30 you’ll gravitate towards the 300BLK. If you’ve got a .243 you may check out 6mm Ars. If you’ve got a .270 (which most alpine and sub-alpine hunters find success with) then 6.8SPC provides you with a comparable .277 diameter bullet we cover – the 120 SST – which can be used across both platforms when hand loading your ammo.
BobW : “While I have not fully investigated the ballistic constraints of the .300 BLK round fully, it shows promise in a handful of situations, one being short barrel arrangements, and silenced operations.”
– I concur. The sweet spot for the .300BLK is at lower altitudes or where brush is dense. It also functions well with special purpose loads such as API or Raufoss, as I mention in a response in part 3 of this series. It’s got more Tootsie in the Tootsie Pop due to the larger cross section. However, you can work well with 6.8SPC for silencing and subsonic operations, with a short barrel, if that’s what you desire. In fact, handloading larger projectiles usually stocked for the .270 will accomplish that quite well, or handloading lead-cast gas-capped roundnose if we look at the longer term production capability would also work well for silenced 6.8 along with .270. I guess it’s preference.
BobW : “I understand the anecdotal evidence that supports the Creedmore, 6.8 SPC II, and Grendel rounds, but I’ve also seen very favorable discussion of the new-ish 85gr 5.56 round in 1/9 barrels at high elevations (6000+).
– I think the cost of these was what put me off. If it came down I’d compare it to the 6.8 and 6.5 Grendel (which still is both the low price leader as well as the ballistics leader) and try and decide if it was worth throwing into a hole in the ground. We cover caches and the 75grain Tula was chosen due to cost and terminal velocity performance.
Don Williams: “Followup:
1) To clarify my point about mountain terrain giving the advantage to the attacker, I was referring to the difficulty of you patrolling around your home base (where dependents live –mothers, children, elderly ). It can be difficult to patrol the slopes well enough to defend the home base against a night attack by hostile infiltrators if they have expertise. Advantage goes to the preemptive strike — the reason why mountain feuds like the Hatfields and McCoys are so murderous.”
– Your use case still considers these adversaries popping up from virtually nowhere, like a video game spawn of players. Think of this as a community defense in depth, with strong communication either visually via heliostat or audibly via church bell / factory whistle, or potentially intercepted through radio / telephone / mesh networked Wi-Fi and Wi-Max. I’d be hard pressed to say that Morse Code via heliostat couldn’t work in any situation aside from weather and dark, with audible and radio as backup comms. PACE – primary, alternate, contingent, emergency…
The assumption is implied in your point that I and my team would do nothing while this occurred, waiting until they are on my very doorstep… Our combat radius interlocks with other veteran-centric MAGs, and we’re pretty secure in our capabilities to handle detecting, tracking, localizing and dispatching / fighting someone who hits another household before they make their way to higher ground. The implication is that there is no way that information cannot surpass the speed of advance of the threat and I humbly disagree. If I had to pick my battleground, it would be in the high desert, the middle of nowhere, with mesas and buttes that provided chokepoints 500 yards away and 600 feet up. That’s a kill box and we’ve located dozens of them across our MAG affiliated AO’s. That’s how veterans do business – over beers, chum it up and discuss how and when we’ll help each other out where they’re weakest. It’s also a consideration for the types of weaponry used – now the 700 yard engagement makes a little more sense.

Here’s a response posture example I’ll give you. Known bad actors, killing and raping their way into my mountain community. Round up a team and teleport ourselves (OPSEC, I cannot reveal how we’d get there) a hundred miles down the threat axis to link up with the local cowboy or indian veterans who reported the raid and collect some bad actor scalps. Further, these marauders would also have to work their way into my AO community, hitting the distant and more isolated homestead / ranches first. Here’s the response posture example for that one. Integrating within a community means that a threat to one family on the outskirts is a threat to neutralize. The community would have to provide rudimentary security in that law enforcement isn’t around any longer, so someone misses a check-in. House is looted, dead bodies all around. Round up a team and detect, localize, track and attack the aggressors. That’s a more likely probability, and it drives the desire to have more smash and bang than the aggressors do, which is why we talk about other than 5.56 AR’s in this article. If you MUST have only 5.56, bring more smash with better ammo which is now cheaper – 75 grain. If you choose to go to a gunfight, bring more smash that weighs virtually the same in the shape of 6.8SPC and/or 6.5 Grendel. If you must maneuver on foot at high altitude, hustling with less ammunition and a heavier rifle will slow down the entire element.

“2) Your maneuvering is not constrained by the slowest member of your paramilitary unit — it is constrained by the slowest and weakest member of your extended family unit. Your well conditioned warriors may be able to run uphill at high altitude and evade the enemy–but what about their wives, children and parents?”
– I think we’re dealing with two different scenarios of evasion. The historical model I will answer this question with is that it’s been done before. The Nez Perce was had only 200ish combatant Nez Perce with 500 wives, children and elderly, total numbering around 700 if I recall correctly. They kicked the crap out of the US Cavalry for months because first, the Nez Perce warriors were marksmen and second, the wives and children were helping whenever possible. This wasn’t exclusively in sub-alpine terrain, but it makes for a good counter-point of debate. The book I read was written in 1942ish, with some firsthand accounts of the 1877. For a more modern example, look at the Hmong / Montagnard vs. the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.
It’s been done. Many times historically. To say I can’t do the same is your prerogative and we will respectfully agree to disagree. I think I can, you say I cannot yet history shows that it’s been done before.
One final consideration – I don’t need old people and children to run uphill at altitude… I need warfighters to maneuver effectively at altitude against the most probable adversary – marauders and looters. They may take the homestead, but holding it for more than a few hours is virtually impossible. They may take the town but then I’ve got a Chief Joseph-sized logistical problem, as well as buy-in from nearby communities that whatever got us is going to get them next.
1) PS Re the Germans vs the French Resistance, the resistance members feared betrayal by their fellow countrymen more than the Gestapo. Not just from within the network. It can be very hard to totally conceal activity from the surrounding community — keeping things truly clandestine takes a lot of hard, time-consuming work. The burden and inefficiency is so difficult that shortcuts are inevitably taken. 100% operational security is infeasible.
2) It only takes one disgruntled person in the community to wreak enormous harm by betraying you –whether for money, for food or out of fear. Look at the enormous power of the federal government and the harsh penalties it can impose on intel workers who leak classified info. Yet look at the damage from Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.
– I fully concur and thank you for sending this because it’s a huge consideration. Insider Threat is incredibly pervasive but I have been looking at the root causality of this for nearly my entire life. I think I have found common causes which are both identifiable and preventable. In part 3 of the series, in the responses, I list some psychological considerations which I think you will truly enjoy reviewing.
Essentially nothing is ever secret in a small town. If you are considered highly in that small community, information often will not reach those who wish to harm you. If you consider going silent for the first six months or so of a Hard Reset (which we use as a consideration, and which I have mentioned previously) I’m betting that a lot of the r-selected types (Manning is a textbook example) will leave the area or be shot trying to loot someone’s home. By the time the first three to six months worth of devastation is completed, the topography will stabilize. You’ll probably see a lot more of the third to fourth generational local families doing pretty much as they always have, with urban kids returning to their homesteads and to the roots of their culture. Still, there’s always that guy that Bill Whittle talks about in his discussion on r-selected and K-selected strategists, the silk-robed SOB who opens the palace gates to the enemy on the other side. We’ve got our psychological profiling as part of our skill set and it would be part of IPB to keep track of threats as well as those who seek the shadows and the easy ways out.

Insider Threat is always the enemy, so it’s worth an article you could write on the topic.

#25 Comment By RSR On October 8, 2017 @ 1:16 am

Steel cased ammo is reloadable with a little more effort… So I think you’d be ahead to go with greater reliability brass cased ammo that’s milspec and configured for long term storage and to function in inhospitable environments… Cold and snow and mountains, if bringing ammo weapons indoors and out — condensation can cause just as much issues with unsealed case necks and primers as would a full dunk in water.

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Tula 75 gr is 25 cents per round right now (was around 30 cents per round).
Hornady 75 gr with steel case is 40 cents per round right now.
IMI (among the best milspec ammo) 69 gr HP is 60 cents per round, and their 77 gr HP is 67 cents per round.

If deadset on steel, at least go with the hornady! I really think the high 60 gr range is the sweet spot for 5.56 however, in no small part b/c certainly stabilize in short barrels, less like to have mag feeding issues, and cheaper.

#26 Comment By Josh Wuttke On October 17, 2017 @ 11:51 pm

Poly Wolf works well in most of the AR rifle’s we own. I would strongly stay far away from tula which has proven to be unreliable and have various pressure loads.. I wouldn’t trust Tula but Wolf seems to be a much more reliable company. We used it for training and fired off 500 rounds in classes,

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#27 Comment By RSR On October 20, 2017 @ 2:48 am

Wolf and Tula are fine for training… I have 5.56 AKs/variants that I use it exclusively in… That said, with straight walled 5.56, say vympel golden tiger, with lacquer case and painted primer and case neck, ejection issues are much more prevalent… And without lacquer cases, steel poly cases begin rusting in a matter of hours if not sooner when exposed to the elements… Combined w/ the reduced quality control and reduced powder charges (usually more of an issue of slower burning powders best using 20″ barrels, more milspec brass 5.56 is increasing optimized for 14.5″ barrels on the powder end) of the Russian ammo, it creates a scenario where Russian ammo is fine for training or desperation stores but not an ideal starting point…
There has been some interesting testing done with 5.56 ARs on running a brass round every 10 rounds or so for optimal function… In brief, steel cases expand less than brass allowing more gunpowder residue to enter the chamber between case and chamber walls. That carbon, etc, then stays there… Running brass every 10 rounds or so cleans chamber walls due to expanding more firmly… Versus running a couple hundred rounds of steel case and then running brass case where first round fails to eject and then you need a cleaning rod to pound the case out of the chamber a la early Vietnam where ARs lacked chromed chambers and soldiers died…