Today, I’ll wrap up this series by writing about fire teams and our planning and training regimen. Also, I’ll outline some of our desires for the future.
Fire Teams of Four (or Three)
In SHTF, two fire teams of four would be absolutely fabulous, but we practice with one less person. This factors in SHTF reality, when we’ll suffer injuries, illness, homestead security, et cetera, into our planning and training regimen. A command element of four people– a squad leader, radio, two NCOs– would round this fantasy of a full-strength fire team out. We aren’t into fantasy, but that’s what we would wish for, four-man fire teams.
Fire Team Option A
Fire team option A is the best and most efficient fire team. This team consists of two 12.5″ or 14.5″ 5.56mm operators and two 6.8 SPC operators, one with a DMR of 18″. The fire team is most cost and impact effective with two 16″ 5.56mm rifles and at least one 18″ 6.8 SPC rifle. For primarily MOUT and mounted patrols, three shorter 12.5″ 6.8 SPC SBR rifles and one DMR with 6.8 ammo all around would provide the best kill to barrier ratio. Lose the rifle weight and add up the SAPI armor within a vehicle or as a QRF. Shorter barrel options for the 6.8 SPC and our Christian philosophy of operations within a community at high elevation, particularly as a QRF against marauders of our “neighborhood protection team” members in mutually supporting maneuver elements, are key differences between Grendel and 6.8 SPC.
Fire Team Option B
Fire team option B is the 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 as DMR. This would include a 20″ barrel DMR and two to three 5.56mm operators with the same barrel recommendations. In a squeeze for weight, some 16″ .308 AR-10s could work, but loadout is impacted. That person’s loadout is heavy but could be distributed to other operators, so we factor it as ten magazines of 20 rounds each.
Heavy Fire Team
Our heavy fire team makeup was all .308, all 16-18″ barrels and heavy ammunition loads of 300 rounds. Load is impacted, patrol effectiveness is impacted, and MOUT in close quarters is impacted. Hump this stuff all day with armor and water and you’ll be screaming for 6.5 Creedmoor which would cut in half your carried ammo weight. Longer barrels make it harder to clear houses or maneuver within a vehicle, impacting reaction to threat times. If you’re Ironman or use mountain bikes or horses to get to your operation area, this configuration will work for you. It requires a lot of weight for ammo. Did I mention the weight? See Max Velocity’s recent article (linked below in References.)
Two scout/sniper teams, each with one 16-18″ Creedmoor, one 20-22″ Creedmoor, 300 rounds ammo each, and 15 magazines each. If your PMAG 25 round mags work, then the 18″ guys use those. A lot of rifles are finicky with those magazines. The weight for 300 rounds is the same as 6.8 SPC but with much better smash and range value. Optics will cost two times your rifle to reach past 700 yards on the 22″ Creedmoor, but skill development costs are roughly equal for comparable .308. If you’re going to go 6.5, Creedmoor offers far more smash than the Grendel does but requires longer barrels for longer range performance.
Designated Marksman Teams
Two designated marksman teams have 16″ 6.8 SPC and 18″ 6.8 SPC, 300 rounds ammo each, and 12 magazines. They are effective and lethal from 0 to 700 yards using lower cost 2×7 or 3×9 scopes, and they’re exceptionally devastating within 150 yards supporting any another fire team in MOUT. Preferred configuration of interoperability with ad hoc defense teams would be for our people to operate in this configuration as Overwatch or material destruction (i.e. tearing holes from a distance into embedded OPFOR within light to medium density structures).
If I were loading up for SHTF operations from scratch, I would look at exclusively 6.5 Grendel for four rifles. The best use case calls for a mixed 6.8 SPC and 5.56mm fire team, due to smaller shooters (female) who are also part of our fire team philosophy. All gear is standard and lower cost, easily integrated AR-15-centric gear. The pouches and magazines are virtually identical and so are the rifle parts, aside from bolt and barrel, and 6.8 SPC magazines are $15 for 25 round capacity. The mixed 5.56mm fire team would load-out and zero 75 grain ammunition, and the 5.56mm rifles would be ones that are effective in that caliber. Women have enjoyed the lesser recoil of the 5.56mm over the 7.62 Nato OR Soviet for over fifty years with the AR-15, and their opinions matter greatly when we look at the total logistical picture.
Reloading and the Best Bang For the Buck
Reloading is a factor in these equations. 6.5 Creedmoor is going to give the best bang for the buck in the AR-10 category when you’re “rolling your own ammunition” and have stockpiled components for such. 6.8 SPC in the Hornady SST is the best bang for the buck in the AR-15 category due to its interoperability with the .270. Our survival logistics strategy has not been to have people buy in with solely bulk cartridge drops but also to buy in with brass and lead. This mitigates the ammo shortages on tight budgets. Powder and brass, bullets and primers, and DCA the cartridge sales when there are gluts on the marketplace.
5.56mm uppers would be mandatory (as they are in our group) for all 6.8 SPC owners because 3-gun, field maneuvers, and other proficiency training is much less expensive at $0.25 per 55 grain round. Magazines maintained at retreat per family are still AR-15
If shooting skills for your fire team are already far beyond proficient, the next comparable package is 6.5 Creedmoor, with full gear loadout from scratch supporting the AR-10 magazines. You bypass the low cost 5.56mm practice ammo, but can toss on a .308 barrel and shoot .308 at the range. You sacrifice house-clearing and vehicle mounted capability due to barrel length. However, if you’re planning on mountain biking or horseback operations in the Apocalypse, you’re well on your way.
Proficient = Marine Corps standard or competitive shooting team equivalent at 500 yards, with optic.
The largest issue against .308 is the severe cost of weight. Considering high altitude, escape and evasion metrics, it’s a great cartridge but heavy, heavy, heavy when light-fighters who are not teenaged wunderkind. At high altitude when you’re over thirty, over fifty, or female, an AR-15 starts looking seriously attractive. The right 5.56mm ammo will allow longer range harassment fire against pursuers, and in evasion you’re trying to buy time.
The second issue against .308 is the cost of gear. Looking at the typical Plate Carrier or battle belt configuration you’re looking at extra costs per person. Multiply by 7 or 8 and you’re talking real money.
The total devastator, however, comes in the logistics strategic implementation supporting stashes of ammunition and magazines, along with potential interoperability with other groups.
Cache Statistics for Consideration
We cache factory ammo, not reloads. The last thing you want during evasion is quality assurance issues on your main battle rifle. Caches are intended to be generational, which is why we’re looking hard at what goes in the ground that our children might be using in 20 to 30 years.
I use a fifty-dollar rule across upgrading my cache locations. If I had to toss one or two $5 used USGI aluminum AR-15 magazines into each sustainment (not dedicated ammo) cache, I’m looking at ten bucks. I can use the same USGI magazine in a 6.8 in a pinch and get 15 rounds or so operating. Add 20 rounds of 6.8 SPC, and the total rises to $14. Add 60 rounds of Tula 75 grain 5.56mm, and now it’s $15. The weight cost is 0.5 lb for two mags, approximately 12 ounces for 20 rounds 6.8 SPC, and 2 lbs. for 60 rounds 5.56mm. It’s under four pounds, easily. I have interoperability guaranteed without drama. We already cache AR-15 replacement parts.
Scale appropriately, rinse, lather and repeat twenty times. I’m looking at being able to upgrade my theoretical twenty sustainment caches for $40 each or $800 total cost. I know most non-team folks in the mountains who might be operating with me use 5.56mm, because it’s lightweight. They’re younger veterans raised on the M4/M16A2, and they don’t like humping lots of weight at high altitude either.
Expense of .308 For Least Potential Jams
If I supported .308, for the least potential jams, our preliminary research showed that we would have to use PMAG 20 round magazines for the AR-10, or steel magazines for the M1A. That’s $20 per magazine either way on a good day, so there’s $40 invested in two magazines I hope I never use. The ammo cost for 80 rounds is $0.50 per round, that’s $40. The weight is comparable, just a pound more than the mixed solution of 6.8 and 5.56.
We’re already double the cost of the next best solution however, which makes it $80 per cache upgrade. That’s $1,600, just to bury into the dirt, and each cache upgrade is going to add a whopping six and a half pounds. If I wanted to do 6.5 Creedmoor, it would lower the weight to roughly the same as 6.8 with $0.80 per round cost minimum. I’d be at $100 per cache location, with roughly the same weight as the AR-15 caches.
Lugging Cache Contents
Essentially, lugging cache contents up mountain trails that are full of summertime hikers is a real drag. Before we upgrade this next year’s cache contents, we really want to know that we put something in place that will stay in place for 20 to 30 years and still remain relevant. I’m sure that the caches that most 1980s survivalists put into place are relevant for their groups, which would have likely been standardized on AR-15 and M1A ammunition.
The best-case cost and weight compromise is a single DMR in 6.5 Creedmoor, one AR-10 magazine, and 60 rounds 5.56mm, with one AR-15 magazine, which costs about $55 and has the same weight as the 6.8/5.56mm cache upgrade. That’s not counting the cost of AR-10 replacement parts, some of which are the same as AR-15, but pins are dissimilar due to width of the receiver.
I cannot reveal my sources, but at least one team of veteran operators working high desert areas somewhere between Canada and Mexico, prefers straight Grendel loadouts. They are looking at SBR/pistol configuration in the same length I recommend as the 6.8 SPC because the ammo cost is so comparable to 5.56mm, yet the employment at short ranges for MOUT would be more maneuverable with a shorter barrel.
Our Group’s Recommendation and 2017 Policy
Upgrading gear and logistics for any non-AR-15 rifles across an eight-member team that is integrated into a remote mountain community is too costly. We would be better off standardizing every new member on the group standard 5.56 barrel and choosing the AR Performance 1:7.7 twist, in varying barrel lengths. For extra barrier blind and medium range designated marksman options, the 6.8SPC offers an 80% solution to the heavier and logistically cumbersome .308. It’s not perfect, but the magazine costs and magazine reliability within the AR-10 platform, and the weight of the M1A platform rule them out for light-fighting, escape, and evasion, or Nez Perce style fighting withdrawal in high altitude locations.
Our 2017 Security Policy is: “You bring it, you feed it.” If you bring .308 AR, your loadout is to carry 250 rounds of ammo, ten to fifteen 20-round magazines, and your cache .308, and two spare mags per hole. If you don’t cache at least two spots along every group standard E&E route for your own rifle’s use, you can’t bring it on patrol, aside from special missions. If you don’t pass your high-altitude security qualification with your mission configured 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 rifle, you default to the 5.56mm or 6.8.
In case you don’t have your own, the group arsenal will provide you a loaner 5.56mm 16” rifle for patrol configured typically with stock trigger, backup iron sights, or red dot. Magazine requirements for personal gear stay at a minimum of ten AR-15 magazines you’re expected to either store at the retreat ahead of SHTF, plus whatever .308 AR magazines for mission requirements.
— References —
 Erhart, T. P. (2009) Increasing small arms lethality in Afghanistan: Taking back the Infantry half-kilometer retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA512331
 Dyer, J. L (2016) Marksmanship Requirements from the Perspective of Combat Veterans – Volume I: Main Report retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=AD1006158
 Jeter, C. (2017) Beyond FEMA: A Survival Guide for the Rest of Us: Operator’s Edition (Boomstick 101 – AR Calibers) retrieved from http://www.lulu.com/shop/charles-jeter-nac-pi/beyond-fema-a-survival-guide-for-the-rest-of-us-operator-edition/paperback/product-23193920.html
 Greer, J. D. (1988) Mountain Infantry – Is There a Need? retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA197736
 Bohnenkamp, E., Hackert, B., Motley, M. et. al. (2012) Comparing Advertised Ballistic Coefficients with Independent Measurements retrieved from http://dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a554683.pdf
 Luke 12:48 (NIV) retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+12%3A48&version=NIV
 Abe. (2015) 6.5 Grendel vs 6.8 SPC: A Different Perspective retrieved from http://abesguncave.com/6-5-grendel-vs-6-8-spc-a-different-perspective/
 Max Velocity. (2017) The Maneuver Support Group (Designated Marksman Role) retrieved from https://maxvelocitytactical.com/2017/07/21/the-maneuver-support-group-designated-marksman-role/
 South, T. S. (2017) New rifle, bigger bullets: Inside the Army’s plan to ditch the M4 and 5.56 retrieved from http://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2017/05/07/new-rifle-bigger-bullets-inside-the-army-s-plan-to-ditch-the-m4-and-5-56/
- 1 – Sweet Spot For the 21st Century With Calibers Beating .308, by Alpine Evader
- 2 – Sweet Spot For the 21st Century With Calibers Beating .308, by Alpine Evader
- 3 – Sweet Spot For the 21st Century With Calibers Beating .308, by Alpine Evader
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part four of a four part entry for Round 72 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. 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),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
Round 72 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail 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.