Should I bug-in or bug-out………

First of all, I want to thank you for hosting this site and posting information that is useful to other preppers. There are 100’s of similar sites out there but only few of them are worth reading on daily basis, and MSO is one of the few that I check out every day.  In this article I will offer few tips and advises that would help people out after the collapse. I am no expert in survival but do have few years of experience in daily survival in post collapse environment. I survived through collapse of Yugoslavia and years of war that followed.


One of the big questions that a lot of preppers ask themselves is should I bug-in or bug-out. This is going to depend on the type of collapse that hits us and the decision will not be up to us, it will be decided by someone else. If the whole community is leaving, then you will be leaving as well. It don’t matter what type of collapse hits us, if there is no law and order, sooner or later you will be forced to bug out. Once there is no law and order, you won’t need a foreign army to come and burn you out of your house, it will be done by organized groups of people from your own community. Most of your average population is unprepared and it won’t take them to long to start getting organized in to armed groups and start taking from  people that have what they don’t. What about our police force? They are a tight bunch and most of them hang out with other cops while off duty. When the society collapses and their checks are not being deposited in to their accounts anymore, do you think that they will be out there protecting you while they are leaving their own families exposed. These guys will form up the groups with other cops and stick together. It won’t be any different with the military. Most of the soldiers are many miles away from their families, even in bases state side, and when society collapses, the military won’t be spared.  Soldiers will stick together with their buddies from their platoons and they will be well armed. I am not saying that all of these groups will turn evil and come and burn your house, but some percentage of them will. I have seen it happen in former Yugoslavia and it could happen here. Majority of massacres was done by paramilitary groups (which many were formed of former cops, soldiers, or decent law obeying people). Basically, my whole point is if there is a large group of armed individuals coming down your block and looting and torching every house down the block, it will be easy decision to leave. Unless you have many shooters on your side and bulletproof and fireproof house, you don’t stand a chance in surviving.


Let’s take a look at average house in America. Rifle bullet will go through it completely in most of the cases and they will be set ablaze with Molotov cocktail really easy. I know, many of you are thinking, “but I won’t let anyone come close enough to my house to set it on fire with a cocktail”. Well I hate to tell you, but you are wrong. It would only take 4-5 guys with semi-automatic rifles to put enough suppressive fire on your residence to allow another 2 guys to come close enough to throw few fire starters. The attackers will be at advantage since you will most likely will be fighting on their terms. They are the ones who will decide to attack you or not, and they will be choosing time of the attack. I am just giving this example in case they did not get hold of any heavy military equipment (M2 .50 cal., MK-19, etc), which in post collapse society they will most likely will. Once again I have seen it in former Yugoslavia. Within few months of collapse you could find any type of military hardware in civilian hands.

Once we leave our home and start our journey towards the destination (whatever that might be), how do we move. My preferred method was always on foot or horseback sometimes. Moving on foot is slowest but safest method. It don’t matter what kind of BOV vehicle you have, you will be a rich target. First you will be one of the few vehicles, if any, on the road and just that alone makes you a target. Some people will shoot at you just because they can and there is no one to stop them. The others will see you as a rich target (nobody has any gas and you are riding down the road). Also in the vehicle you don’t know what you will encounter around the next corner, it could be an ambush, landmine, or destroyed road from previous artillery attack. On foot, you can take your time and look, listen and observe prior to moving on.


What to take with you and how to dress will depend on how are you moving. Are you alone or with a group? Are there any old and sick people in your group or infants? Wearing military clothing and carrying long guns might be acceptable in one part but completely unacceptable in other parts. In some towns in Bosnia during the war you as a civilian or a member or military could freely wander around town with the AK slung across your shoulder and wearing camouflage uniform while in other parts your would be disarmed right away, at the gun point, and put in to local jail. Just because society collapses, that does not mean that all the rules and laws will stop existing everywhere. Some towns or villages might be more organized then others and town’s located only 10 miles apart could be as different as day and night. Another thing about wearing military clothing is if you are captured wearing it you will be treated as a combatant even if you are not armed. Make sure that you always have a set of civilian clothing that you can change in to if you are wearing military uniform. I have personally witnessed a young man have a really bad day, after we were captured, just because he was still wearing a pair or army boots. These are just few things that I wanted to mention and let people start to think about them and what they would do in these situations.


The Survivor.

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  1. I was in Bosnia and it is just as you say. I was part of the American forces in the area and these groups would devastate a small town very quickly. Once the “Mob Mentality” kicks in you will find people that before a collapse were law abiding citizens turn crazy. I have seen where they just start at one end of town and burn down every building in the city. The vail of civility is very thin and it usually goes very bad for the citizens that are staying put. I for one am a huge proponent of bugging out because of these experiences.

  2.  Leaving early enough is the key to success IMO. Anything such as an Economic Crash, Pandemic, Social Unrest (or the beginning of)etc. we will be gone. I don’t tell anyone what our plans are, what we have stored, and how we plan to leave or when… that is our secret. Although my biggest fear is an EMP/Solar Flare that just disables everything electronic related. That scenario is just “horror” in my eyes because I have two kids under 7 who cannot walk the 180 miles needed to reach our camp in Northern New England.  I split my supplies between my two houses and count on taking the difference with me when I go. If I have to walk and push kids in a stroller then I am screwed as it will take weeks and I am going to hit trouble on the way.  I am lucky that I have places to visit and rest on the journey but still a better solution needs to worked out.
    My neighbors are really not prepared and most have nowhere to go but home. Any loss of Law and Order will certainly lead to chaos within weeks. Where I live most do not own firearms, mace even requires a license to purchase (guns are frowned upon in a way I cannot even explain by almost all ages – they are considered evil). The bad guys will have a blast going from house to house after its official that no law exists. The bad guys are the only ones who will be armed and don’t worry about restrictions on high capacity weapons ; )

  3. Well thought out post. However, even with force multipliers (grenades, automatic weapons, rocket launchers, etc) it takes a 3 or 4 and sometimes 8 or 10 to 1 superiority to ensure a successful assault against a dug in and determined defender. Military units are willing to take the risks and the casualties during an assault because they have a team behind them and a mission (God, country, mom, apple pie, or something) driving them into a situation a more thoughtful person would avoid. The 82nd Airborne or the 75th Rangers will flatten an obstacle, destroy the opposition, and mourn the losses later. A mob – be it hungry, mad, diseased, or just maniacal – will not put up with any significant losses just to plunder a house. They will go after all of the easy pickings first. Only as a last resort will they tackle a really tough nut. If you are willing to stand your ground and inflict the necessary harm there are not too many gangs, mobs, or hordes who will push your limits. It is really, really hard to step over the bodies of the first wave unless you have the training and mission objective ingrained into your spirit.

    Now, all that behind us – discretion is the better part of valor. If you have a decent bug out location, can leave without overly exposing yourself (or more importantly your family), and have the means to make the transition (fuel, food, water, time, whatever), by all means get the H*** out of Dodge. If the time has come and gone, stay put and make anyone who contests your exisitence pay. It won’t be pretty, but it will be a darn sight better than being caught in the open.

    I for one plan to stay in place – unless I see a Bradley or Abrams coming up the drive, then I’ll di di mau for my nearest cache and work my way to my cousin’s place (about 120 miles as the crow flies).

  4. Harry,

    Thank you for reading my article and commenting on it. I just wanted to mention type of gangs that might be encoutered. I totally agree with you about dug in and determined person defending his property but I would like to mention that it will only work if you are in well fortified home and well armed defending against the small number of undetermined and undisciplined attackers. As I mentioned in the article majority of everyday people live in normal houses that wont even stop the pistol rounds.

    The “gangs” that were operating in former Yugoslavia during the last war were not you street gangs that most of us imagine. These guys were former or current soldiers, with military training, and operating in large numbers, and with military grade weapons sometimes even APC and tanks. Many of these gangs operated in battalion size elements of larger. So the numbers were on their side. Resisting them would be solved with them firing several RPG or tank rounds in your direction and everything would be over soon. I am not saying that we will see these type of gangs in the US, if everything collapese, but they were part of everyday life in Former Yugoslavia.

  5. Excellent article. I honestly never considered the wealth of information ( and recent at that ) available
    from the various Balkan conflicts / wars. I’m going to gather that information ASAP.
    If the author “The Survivor” has any suggested reading I’m all ears.

    Thanks for “waking me up” in this regard Survivor

  6. I think the author did an excellent job of pointing our the elephant in the corner..

    I am always greatly saddened to hear someone speaking about “Defending in Place” during a TEOTWAWKI EVENT when that place is a wooden structure or in the rare event a Concrete walled Structure with wooden rafters and overhead beams,

    These places are indefensible..end of discussion..

    While one fella is correct a mob will be less likely to tolerate casualties.. any gang can manage by means of improvised incendiary devices to destroy such a defensive position. Gangs function largely by intimidation and fear generally lacking the resources for sustained combat.. (The resource issue is a defenders concern as well).

    While they may not benefit from burning a particular house down you can be sure they will benefit as the surviving people next door relay the event thru the area by word of mouth..

    There are such things as defensible positions. Against a specific force level.. A normal home in the US is not one of them against anything but the lowest levels of threat.

    Best to come to terms with that fact and plan accordingly.


  7. TS-

    Every situation will have to be judged on its individual merits – do I stay and face an armored assault, do I leave by vehicle and face ambushes or sniper fire on the road, do I walk out and face irate neighbors, wild animals, limited mobility, and the prospect of a limited range? It is difficult to plan for the exact occurrance, so we plan and train for every conceivable occurrance.

    I wasn’t debating the limited responses available to most of us when faced with heavily armed “troops”. Military trained personnel with modern war fighting equipment and regimented force structure requires a hit and run type of resistance (i.e., the Wolverines from Red Dawn). Unless one is in a heavily built up area with lots of hidey holes and in contact with and supported by others (i.e., Stalingrad or Moscow during WWII) it is best to refrain from confronting large heavily armed groups. So, if you see or hear a platoon of tanks heading up the road blasting the bejeezus out of everything that looks like it might offer resistance by all means bug out. There will be better times at a later date to offer real resistance to such aggression.

    You had a good post, based on real world experiences – valuable stuff. Hopefully, we won’t be faced with the opportunity to see that type of situation in the USA.

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