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I have a difficult time finishing a book once I start reading it. I am so busy and my mind gets distracted easily. EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots – With a Story of Survival was written by Jonathan Hollerman. It was absolutely an exception as I could not wait to turn the page to see what would happen next. Compared to many “prepper” fiction books I have read (or started to read) Equipping Modern Patriots was realistic and plausible.
Here is a summary of the book from Amazon.com:
EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots – With a Story of Survival is a harrowing story of survival following the destruction of the electric grid and nearly every electronic device in the country. Can you imagine a world with no phones, no TV, no internet, and no way to access your bank account?
Without the electric grid, there would be no lights, no heating or air conditioning in your house, no public water, and the sewer would likely back up into your home. Without modern vehicles or interstate trucking, the supermarkets would quickly run out of food and supplies. Unprepared, the government would be helpless to feed the masses and maintain order. Our humanity is questioned when survival of the fittest becomes reality.
Jonathan Hollerman paints a vivid and disturbing picture of society falling apart after an Electromagnetic Pulse attack against our nation. This is not only a thrilling story, but offers practical life-saving advice for an imminent threat.
About Jonathan Hollerman:
Jonathan Hollerman is a former US Air Force SERE Specialist and expert on survival and preparedness. Jonathan offers his knowledge and skills as a consultant to help others prepare for the potential disasters and emergencies. His consult has helped others from basic preparedness steps to implementation of a secure and off-grid retreat for a professional athlete. With his hands on experience in all matters of preparedness Mr. Hollerman can provide advice based not on theory – but experience.
Jonathan Hollerman was gracious enough to agree to answer a few questions and boy did he ever. I am honored to present the following interview –
What motivated you into your interest in preparedness?
After serving as a US Air Force SERE Instructor, “being prepared” was ingrained into my thinking. Since then, I’ve always made contingency plans in my head when travelling long distances and had a small “Get Home” bag in my vehicle with the basics needed for survival. My interest in actually prepping started about ten years ago after reading James Wesley Rawles’s Patriots and Mel Tappan’s Tappan on Survival. I had been seeing the signs of our country going in the wrong direction for a while and had been wondering how long it would be before our way of life started to fall apart. Whether the catastrophe is an EMP attack, solar flare, financial collapse, or pandemic: our society is woefully unprepared to survive.
Throughout our world’s history, man has always known how to survive: build fires, hunt, preserve food, find shelter, find water sources, etc. In just over the last 100 years, all those skills have been lost due to technology and our modern infrastructure. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my Android smart phone as much as the next guy. However, as a society we are a lot more fragile than people think. Any interruption in the supply lines of our hugely dependent society is going to cause mass panic. Look at Hurricane Katrina. Better yet, look at the Congo. “Well, this is America, not the Congo!” some people will say. Consider this: Take away the American people’s access to food and water for more than a week or two and you will see atrocities just as bad or worse than the Congo. Desperate people are the most dangerous kind. When someone’s kid hasn’t eaten in two weeks and they are watching them die, do not think for one second that the average American will not turn into a killer to get food for their child. It’s just human nature.
Within the pages of EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots the “SHTF event” is focused around an EMP/CME. How likely do you think an event such as this is to take place? Where might it come from?
Let me start out with a quote from General Eugene Habiger, the former head of U.S. Strategic Command. He said the following about the possibility of an EMP attack in the future, “It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.” I have studied the threat of EMP for the last four years and I DO believe that it is the greatest threat against our way of life, especially when you combine it with the threat of a Solar Flare (CME), cyber-attack, or a physical attack on the electric grid like we saw last year in California. I believe that the loss of the electric grid will happen in my lifetime, with an EMP attack being the absolute worst case scenario because you will lose most electronic devices as well.
In my book’s preface, I really challenge people to wake up and do their own research on this threat. I am least knowledgeable on the cyber attack threat and am unsure for how long that could take the grid down. However, for the other scenarios in which we lose a good portion of the large transformers that dot this nation, the grid will likely be down for longer than a year. If that happens, society as we know it will cease to exist. The government won’t be able to save you because 98% of the military and law enforcement rely on the electric grid to function. The president of the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney, says this about an EMP attack: “Within a year of that attack, 9 out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity.”
So, which country do I think poses the greatest danger? I think the greatest threat is radical Islam. They hate this country and mutually ensured destruction doesn’t matter to them because they are religious fanatics and the ends justify the means. I worry about a terrorist group obtaining a rogue nuclear warhead whether by paying some arms dealer for it or by receiving it from some Middle Eastern nuclear nation like Turkey, Pakistan, North Korea, or potentially Iran.
Not that I trust either country, but China and Russia are lesser threats because their economies rely on the US and our buying power. They would hurt their country more than help it. We do know they have very devastating Super EMP weapons, however. Dr. Vincent Pry is the Director of the United States Nuclear Strategy Forum, an advisory body to Congress on policies to counter weapons of mass destruction. He said this to a Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism a few years ago: “Russian and Chinese military scientists in open source writings describe the basic principles of nuclear weapons designed specifically to generate an enhanced-EMP effect, that they term ‘Super-EMP’ weapons. ‘Super-EMP’ weapons, according to these foreign open source writings, can destroy even the best protected US military and civilian electronic systems.”
North Korea is also a problem because their leader is unstable and the threat of mutually ensured destruction wouldn’t have a lot of financial impact on them because they already live in poverty. In 2009, Newsmax reported that “North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a ‘super-EMP’ weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states.”
Aside from the EMP attack threat, you have the risk of a solar flare or CME hitting the US Solar flares have been hitting the earth since time began. Historical records show large solar flares hitting the earth every one hundred years on average. It’s been over a hundred and fifty years since the last solar flare hit earth (it was called the Carrington Event), so I’d say we are due.
It’s not just major solar flares that are a threat, though. Lloyd’s of London (the world’s oldest insurance market) released a startling report last year on the devastating impact even a smaller, more common solar flare would have on North America. The fact that the prestigious Lloyd’s of London would spend the capital on a report like this should prove to you this is not an idle threat. Lloyd’s states that even a smaller solar flare focused on the Northeast could have a devastating effect on transformers and affect up to forty million people. The large transformers that dot our country convert electricity from high-voltage supply lines to lower voltages. They are a core part of our electric grid infrastructure. Weighing nearly 400 tons each, they are built overseas and take more than a year to construct. After they are built, just getting them to the site would require special roads, the removal of overpasses and construction of special bridges. Lloyd’s predicts the blackout could last one to two years before the infrastructure could be repaired. They state the financial cost would be as high as 2.6 trillion dollars (compare that to Hurricane Sandy which only caused $65 billion in damage).
The Lloyd’s of London’s report is very accurate in my opinion; however, there is one section that I feel is severely lacking. Like most media outlets, the report focuses primarily on the physical damage and the cost to repair it. They only gloss over the aftereffects on the population and our way of life. The report states that a solar flare “could lead to major and widespread social unrest, riots and theft.” Really, Lloyd’s? Forty million people without electricity, food, and water for years, and that’s the best description of the aftermath you can come up with?
The other major threat to the electric grid is a physical attack on the grid infrastructure. Last year there was actually a dry run on a substation in California. Four terrorists, armed only with AK-47’s, took out the substation and almost took down the entire electric grid for southern California. A more coordinated attack on half a dozen substations across the country could take down the entire grid. This is probably their next move as these large substations are mostly unprotected. How long the blackout would last, I don’t know. They said it will take 18 months to repair that one substation.
Think about it. What would you do if nearly every electronic device you can think of stopped functioning at the exact same instant? Can you imagine a world with no phones, no TV, no internet, and no way to access your bank account? Without the electric grid, there would be no lights, no heating or air conditioning in your house, your faucets stop producing water and the public sewer could back up into your home. Without modern vehicles or interstate trucking, the supermarkets will quickly run out of food. How will you provide for your family? Most people will have no clue what is truly going on and will expect the government and military to come to their rescue. What if the majority of the military wasn’t hardened and found themselves in the same boat as its citizens? What if the government had no plan in place to deal with the catastrophe?
At the end of the day, I think a loss of the electric grid will bring this country down and is the threat that I am personally preparing for. If you can survive a long term grid-down scenario, than you can survive a financial collapse or pandemic.
Beyond an EMP – what other large scale threats do people need to prepare for?
I think the other two likely threats are from a financial collapse or a nationwide/worldwide pandemic. Unless you have your head firmly planted in the ground, a financial collapse is inevitable in this country at some point in the future. The good thing about this scenario, if you can call it that, is that it won’t happen instantly like an EMP or solar flare. There will be signs and evidence as things start to come crashing down. During the initial collapse, though, your phones still work, you can still drive your car, there is still TV and internet, and you can still buy things from the store last minute. In these two scenarios, you have time to make last minute preparations and get somewhere safe and secure. In the case of a pandemic, travelling may be restricted locally or by state, so don’t wait till the last minute to bug out.
The biggest question in regard to these threats is how well the government steps in and if they are able to slow the tide. Don’t get me wrong here, I have no faith in our government and their central planning is what got us in this mess in the first place. It is a question of how fast it falls apart. In my opinion, once the bank runs start and massive looting starts taking place in every city across this country, it is too late. It is a slippery slope that ends in a cliff. Once society goes over that cliff, no amount of central planning will save it. It is inevitable, in my opinion, that once things get really bad, most people will start “boarding up the windows and doors,” and the people that keep our infrastructure running will stop showing up for work and stay home to protect their loved ones from the looters. A major financial collapse or pandemic will eventually lead to truckers, people responsible for the electric grid, supermarket employees, and even law enforcement and national Guardsmen staying home. Society will shut down and once the grid goes dark, you are in the same boat as if we were hit by a solar flare.
I know I am excluding the nuclear threat, but I find that scenario less likely because of mutually ensured destruction. If China or Russia were to hit us, I believe they would hit us with an EMP which would cause as much death as full scale nuclear war, just over a longer period of time. And they could do that with one rudimentary rocket and without the threat of us sending all our warheads towards them and wiping them out at the same time. Once the EMP has gone off in our atmosphere, does it really matter who did it? We may never find out anyway and our military would be too severely crippled to retaliate.
One of my first thoughts when reading EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots was the main character’s selection of a long gun – a Kel-Tec SU-16. Why the Kel-Tec?
Haha. I knew this question was coming! Everyone knows that discussing “what’s the best gun?” is more volatile than discussing religion, women, and politics combined. I really pondered changing the main character’s rifle at the last minute before print to an AR-15 or M4 to avoid “the controversy.” To be honest, I almost wish I would have. So here is my response for the record….
The Kel-Tec SU-16 (models C and CA) is an absolutely fantastic, reliable weapon for the price (before Sandy Hook). Is it a better long-term battle rifle than a high-end AR, M4, or AK? Absolutely not. Many years ago, when I first bought the SU-16 for $550, I was operating on a very strict budget. Every review I read on the SU-16 was positive and I am still waiting to find a reputable negative review. I had done a lot (and I mean a lot) of research on various battle rifles and what I discovered was that low-end AR-15s were more problems than they were worth. Since then, I have had those sentiments confirmed through actual experience. I have spent many days at the range with several close friends and every single one of them has had a problem with his AR and every one of them own ARs from reputable companies.
My SU-16 probably has around 3,000 rounds through it at this point. I have never had a single malfunction, failure to feed, or double feed. It has eaten every brand of ammo I have thrown at it with no problems. Not long ago, I fired over 500 rounds in a single afternoon of shooting without a drop of lube or even snaking the barrel. When I disassembled my rifle for cleaning that evening, it was so clean that I could have eaten food out of the chamber. The SU-16 has a conventional, long-stroke gas-piston operation and utilizes the proven Johnson/Stoner breech locking system. It is very basic in operation with half as many moving parts as an AR-15. At the same time it uses standard AR mags. Before people start to think that I work for Kel-Tec, I will admit the SU-16 IS NOT a war-proven battle rifle and not meant for butt stroking someone in the face or using it to pry open a door. The fit and finish is nothing to write home about. The front rail bipod is pretty flimsy (I replaced it with the optional rail system), and the stock leaves a lot to be desired (I replaced it with the Kel-Tec stock adapter which accepts any AR stock). The entire receiver is made from high impact reinforced polymer which is why most people think it’s cheap (but isn’t the Glock also made from polymer?).
So the question at the end of the day is would I buy an SU-16 over an AR-15? Yes and No. If you are on a budget and can’t afford a quality mil-spec AR-15, I would recommend you save up till you can afford one. If your wife has you on a budget, then I would recommend the SU-16 over any sub $1,000 AR out there. If money is no option, I would highly recommend a high quality, mil-spec, direct gas impingement M4 rifle. Regardless of which company you go with, if you are going to choose the AR platform as your go-to rifle, you need to make sure you carry a spare parts/spring kit, lube, and an extra bolt on you at all times. What is just as (maybe more) important as the rifle you pick, is making sure you are proficient with it. So now that I have the anti AR-15 crowd screaming at me at the top of their lungs that the AK-47 is the only way to go, or maybe it’s the Ruger Mini 14 faithful. I am not here to bash anyone’s pick at battle rifle; there are a lot of proven battle rifles to pick from. However, I would highly recommend you choose a rifle in 5.56 or 7.62 caliber. Stay away from fancy calibers regardless of how superior the ballistics may be. You need to stick to a common caliber where ammo can be bartered for or scavenged in a SHTF scenario. “Well, I have 10,000 rounds of 6.8 in my cabin,” you say. What happens when you have to bug out at the last second because a large looting force is rolling down your street or your cabin burns down because you didn’t learn how to properly clean your chimney?
How important is firearms training and what type do you recommend?
Firearms training is an absolute must. However, taking your black rifle to the nearest range once every couple months, sitting behind a bench with sandbags, and plinking away is next to worthless. You can teach a monkey to put a red dot in a circle and pull the trigger. A firefight is pure chaos and confusion. Any scenario you end up in where there is someone shooting at you will most assuredly not happen when you are seated behind a shooting bench. Practice shooting prone, on your knees, while running, while lying on your back, while standing on your head (you get the drift). You need to learn how to operate your rifle while moving to cover. And please, if you don’t know the difference between cover and concealment, Google it right now, it could save your life. If you can’t move and shoot at your local gun range, then you need to join a new one or make a range at a friend’s farm.
No matter how high speed you think you are, it is vital to go through a first rate carbine operators course with a professional instructor. The best rifle in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to make it sing properly. In the meantime, I highly recommend Magpul’s The Art of the Tactical Carbine and The Art of the Dynamic Handgun DVDs for practicing at home and at your local range. Practicing in your living room on a regular basis is almost as valuable as range time. Place a pillow on the floor and practice mag changes until they become second nature. Practice clearing jams and double feeds (hypothetically! Do not practice with live rounds indoors…duh). Practice ready-up drills. Focus at a point on the wall and practice raising your rifle quickly to your shoulder until it becomes second nature and your sites automatically line up with the point you were previously focusing on. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Those three simple drills will make you ten times more proficient in real life than someone putting thousands of rounds downrange from behind a bench.
If you are part of a group (and you should be), you also need to train together and learn small squad tactics. You need to train till you can read each other’s minds and then train some more. This brings me to probably one of my more debatable philosophies. Most preppers are learning and teaching themselves the wrong tactics. I love the SAS Survival Manual and the Army’s field manuals. That is great stuff, but it is not designed for a SHTF scenario. Most military training is designed for pitched battles and winning wars by advancing the fight. That is great if you are ordered to take a hillside during a war. In combat, your job is to kill the enemy. If you get shot in the melee, there is likely a medic nearby, who will call in a rescue helicopter to transport you to the nearest Forward Operating Base and a professional medical team with the latest and greatest medical technology for treating battlefield wounds. There are no hospitals in a SHTF scenario and you probably will never make it to the nearest doctor. Getting shot (even a minor wound) is life threatening. You need to avoid shootouts like the plague. Forget all the Rambo crap.
Your tactics should be based on guerrilla warfare. If bullets start to fly, forget winning. Your squad’s only objective should be to lay down heavy cover fire while retreating. Every engagement should be immediately handled by disengaging as quickly as possible and retreating. That doesn’t make you a coward; it makes you smart and will keep you alive. If you absolutely MUST engage an enemy, then make sure it is on your terms. Night vision optics and suppressors are absolute game changers in this department and I would highly recommend outfitting your squad and training with both. Again, if you must engage, use guerrilla tactics and hit the enemy quickly from distance and retreat just as quickly. Never try to win a pitched battle. It isn’t worth it if you lose valuable members of your team or loved ones.
How important is physical fitness when it comes to preparedness?
Very important, and the first way to test this is by actually training with your full kit and pack on and see how drastically it slows you down. I know plenty of preppers who have all the tacti-cool gear, but have never spent a weekend outdoors, training with it and making sure they know how to use everything. You would hate to find out 1 day into a bug out scenario that your $400 pack digs into your lower back in an awkward location and you can’t fix it in the field. You can be all kinds of Gold’s Gym strong, but that doesn’t mean you can ruck 20 miles in full kit. Those are completely different levels of fitness. Also, physical fitness is not just about cardio and staying in shape. You need to keep the rest of your body in good shape as well. For instance, get those hemorrhoids taken care of (no joke). Don’t delay operations till the last minute and for heaven’s sake make sure you are up to date at the dentist. There are things worse than not having a doctor in a SHTF scenario, and that would be not having a dentist. Trust me on this. A bad cavity, which could have been easily dealt with pre-SHTF, could become the bane of your existence later. If it becomes abscessed in a SHTF scenario, you can actually die from it. So get your medical stuff squared away!
One last thing, if you require any kind of medication for your survival (such as insulin), make sure you take steps now to stockpile. Once the supermarkets are looted, the pharmacies won’t be far behind.
I see that you do some preparedness consulting. Can you tell me what services you offer?
I am currently booked for the next couple months for private consulting, but I am always taking applicants for the future and will always respond if you email me through my website at GridDownSurvival.com. Just drop me a short email with some basic information on your current preparations and where you are trying to go with them. I am hoping to start a blog in the near future and I have some other irons in the fire as well.
Are there specific items that you consider “must haves” when it comes to bug out bags/get home kits?
This is worthy of an entire article in itself, so let me address the “must haves” that most people overlook. There is a considerable difference between a “get home” bag and a “bug out” bag, so I will briefly address both.
A get home bag is fairly minimal (backpack size) and includes the bare essentials for walking home from work or local travelling: items like water, fire prep, power bars, knife, small survival kit, etc. If you travel more than 45 miles for work, you may want to include a sleeping bag and extra food and water purification tablets. Either way, a get home bag will get you home from work in the beginning stages of a catastrophe; typically, this will be before society starts falling apart. My state allows conceal carry so I always carry, it’s just become second nature. Check your local laws first, but don’t stress if you can’t carry on your way home on day 1
Bug out bags (BOB) are larger and typically have 3 days of supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice. Even if you plan to bug out by vehicle, your essentials still need to be in a pack just in case your vehicle breaks down or gets blocked by a traffic jam of people fleeing the city (this is why I recommend not keeping your preps at home in suburbia). Even if you have an older EMP-proof vehicle to bug out in, you become a very big target if no one else has a running vehicle. Have the BOB ready to go so that if you get ambushed for your vehicle, you can still grab your pack as you abandon ship. If you don’t have the ability to buy a rural cabin or retreat location and don’t have extended family outside of town, I would highly recommend storing your long-term preps in a storage unit in the rural area you plan to head for. Two years of long-term food storage is great, but you can’t carry that with you if your vehicle doesn’t function or all the routes leaving your city are blocked. If you do have a retreat, I would still keep your BOB ready to go at the drop of a hat in case you have to suddenly abandon your compound to a large raiding force.
There are a lot of really good (and bad) articles on BOBs. Make sure you have enough food to last three days, and I would recommend meals that don’t require fires or cooking because you may be evading and lying low (mil-spec MREs with their heating pouches are best). Outside of food, you need enough equipment to make a good go of it if you have to live out of your pack. A couple recommendations: lighters and matches are great, but you will eventually run out. Make sure you have a full-size metal match, which will last a very long time. Make sure you practice starting fires with it using natural tinder and not your commercial tinder, which will also run out at some point. Make sure you have a plethora of water purification tablets, not just three days’ worth. Also, mil-spec 550 paracord is invaluable and has hundreds of uses if you do your research on it: from lashing items to your pack, to building shelters, to fishing with the inner cord.
The biggest item most people overlook is a good-sized non-GMO survival seed stash. If you have to abandon your long-term supplies, having seed to barter with or offer to a rural farmer in trade for a roof over your head is invaluable. Fifty thousand seeds are very light and compact, and I would put their value up there with ammunition.
Any advice for those interested in preparedness and on a budget?
Without getting too in-depth, I’ll try and put forth some ideas that I think are often overlooked. For survival gear and bug out bags, I would recommend used military surplus gear. “Most” gear that is supplied to the US soldier has gone through rigorous testing and abuse to make sure it lasts under the harsh conditions of the battlefield, which would be similar to a SHTF scenario. A lot of used military surplus was never even used; it may have been issued to some soldier who worked behind a desk and never used it in the field. First, I would recommend the medium-sized ALICE Pack which you can find on eBay for around $40 (just make sure it comes with the external frame). I would also recommend the ECWS (Extreme Cold Weather System) sleeping bag which you can usually find used for around $90. This four-part system is very adaptable to almost every weather condition.
If you already have a sleeping bag, I would still highly recommend you buy the outer Gore-Tex bivy sack component of the ECWS, which is a waterproof cover for your sleeping bag. In an evasion situation, it may not be feasible to pitch a tent in the open and it may make sense to crawl under the bows of a pine tree and stay out of sight. This will allow you to stay dry as well, and in turn help you stay warm. They can also be found on eBay for around $45, but are well worth the investment. Another piece of vital equipment which I recommend regardless of your budget is a military issue poncho. You can not only wear it, but can use it as a tent with the help of some 550 paracord. This can help you eliminate the need for a tent and reduce the weight of your pack considerably. Just make absolutely sure you are buying a used official military issued poncho and not one of the knock-off brands that look official. I can assure you, I have bought these other brands and they are absolutely junk and ARE NOT mil-spec. They rip easily and aren’t even waterproof, which defeats the purpose. Used military ponchos can be found on eBay for around $55.
I also really encourage people to stock up on non-GMO non-hybrid (sometimes called heirloom) survival seed. It is very cheap. On eBay, you can buy 50,000 seeds for under $100. Once spring comes, I believe that seed would be more valuable than silver or gold for bartering with neighboring farms. Also, seed is very lightweight and can last many years if stored properly.
One of my methods of preparing on a budget is a bit more controversial, but nonetheless important. I want to be very clear here where a lot of other prepping consultants are not. If there is a grid down scenario, complete and overwhelming financial collapse, or a “major” pandemic, you absolutely MUST NOT plan to survive in a major metropolitan city or its surrounding suburbs. If you follow the advice of the “survive in place” books, you will likely be dead within the first couple months. They write these books to help people who can’t afford a proper retreat, but I feel they are offering false hope and actually setting the reader up to get looted and killed. These authors and “experts” fail to realize the overwhelming truth of human nature and the concept of survival of the fittest. The average Joe Neighbor WILL kill you for your food if his children are starving and dying. He may ask at first, then beg, then plead… eventually the most passive people will become killers and thieves to save their loved ones from starvation. Do not doubt this truth! If you are the only house on the block with smoke coming out of your chimney, a garden in the back yard, a generator running, or basically NOT looking sick, hungry and skinny like your surviving neighbors, YOU ARE A TARGET.
I don’t want to hear how high-speed you are tactically or about how “awesome” your gun collection is. It only takes one bullet from a good old boy’s deer rifle from 100 yards away to end your life, leaving your family alone and unprotected. And if you are the only family on the block not starving, I can assure you that your skinny neighbors will resent you and eventually gang up on you to feed their families. If you think you can fight off thirty of your neighbors by yourself, then you need to put down the Survival/Prepping/Militia books you’ve been reading and drink a big warm glass of reality.
Some wealthy individuals have approached me on building underground bunkers on their property in the city behind their mansion. Sorry; like I told them, that is also a bad game plan. It may seem like a great idea, until you have spent two months underground without seeing the light of day. That is not living or surviving; that is marinating. You and your family will go nuts after a couple weeks underground and will want to kill each other. If you come out for some sun, you risk giving yourself away.
So what should you do if you can’t afford a proper retreat? Some would say to find an existing survival group on a prepping forum, especially if you have some sort of skill or expertise to bring to the table. That may work out for you and I am not discounting the idea. Just be careful. The TV show Doomsday Preppers is a perfect example of how bats**t crazy some preppers are. By the way, if you are getting the bulk of your prepping advice from the aforementioned TV show… you are doing it wrong!
If you can’t afford a bug out retreat location, I would first point you to family members (even extended family) that live well away from the city. If you think discussing the whole prepping idea with them will make you the “crazy nephew” at family get-togethers, then just rent a storage unit close to where they live and cache your supplies there. Once the SHTF is in full effect and you show up at their doorstep, your former preparations will make you out to be a genius and a forward thinker. If you don’t have rural relatives, then I would suggest you take up renting cabins in the mountains for weekend getaways pre-SHTF. Do your research and make sure the cabins fit within the retreat location parameters. Also, try to find rentals that are corporate owned and not a cabin that some family rents when they are not using it. A carefully worded casual conversation with the management company or the person renting you the cabin can go a long way to getting an answer to that question. Don’t get me wrong,this is a time-consuming process and it may take you multiple weekends to find the right cabin, but it is a lot better option than staying in town. Again, cache your supplies in a storage unit near that cabin.
Lastly, if you procrastinated your prepping and the SHTF before you are ready, follow the advice I lay out to my co-workers in chapter 3 of my book. It is risky, but it is still realistic. Knowledge is power, and if you can articulate well what the future holds after a grid down situation, you may be able to find a rural farmer to take you in. The key here is having something to trade for room and board, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. You need to bug out of the city at least 100 miles and locate a rural elderly farmer or couple. Explain to him what is going on in the world and persuade him that he needs you and your family’s help to survive the coming apocalypse. The best way to get room and board from him is to have something he needs in trade. This goes back to your basic survival gear, having weapons and ammo to help protect his farm and hunt, offering you and your family’s younger muscles to plant and harvest (this will need to be done by hand, because a tractor will attract too much attention after the SHTF), offering to help keep 24-hour surveillance over the farm and crops, and most importantly having seed to plant the next harvest(every farmer I know buys his seed two days before planting). This is the riskiest scenario, but it sure beats figuring out 3 weeks into the SHTF that your decision to board up the windows in your duplex was stupid and it has become too dangerous to travel.
Care to give us a forecast into how you see the future developing?
Badly! Like I mentioned earlier, our society is walking the edge of a cliff and totally unprepared if the infrastructure comes down. With the financial policies of the gutless politicians (both sides) in DC, we are headed for disaster in our lifetime, regardless of which party wins the next election. I do strongly believe that the loss of the electric grid will happen at some point in our lifetime, whether by EMP, CME, Cyber attack, or physical attack on the grid. One caveat I’d like to add here: Preppers, please lay off the militia survivalist novels and their BS! They might be entertaining stories, but don’t think for one second you are going to go toe to toe with Uncle Sam or some invading Army and win. I don’t care how high speed your squad is or what weapons you have. If it comes down to a foreign invasion, your best bet is to keep your head down and stay hidden. If you do feel the need to stand up for the Red, White, and Blue, make sure you are using guerrilla tactics and briefly engaging the enemy from distance (200 yards +) and then quickly disappear into the night. No matter what, do not get into a pitched battle with professional soldiers.
I know you are a military veteran, and I truly appreciate your service. Recently it was announced that there are going to be severe cuts in military personnel in the United States Armed Forces. Any thoughts?
Yeah, I’m completely disgusted by it! I feel bad for all my friends who are still actively serving. It’s wrong that we can double the money spent on welfare over the last eight years and then cut the benefits to the soldiers who defend our country. Nuff said.
Many of my readers are gun nuts like myself – have a favorite sidearm? Why?
This is the easiest question you have asked me: Glock, hands down. I have owned many handguns over the years and to tell the truth, they have all given me pretty good service. However, the Glock is the best SHTF handgun in my opinion. When you pull the trigger, it goes bang every time. I have at least 5,000 rounds through my Glocks with not a single issue, and they have eaten every kind of ammo I have fed them. I don’t know if there is another handgun that has been more rigorously tested and abused and has still continued to function. But that is not my only requirement for a SHTF gun. Simplicity is also very important for most people. Again, from my research, a gunfight is an enormously chaotic event, even for the best trained police officers and soldiers. Nothing goes according to plan and the only hope you have is if you have trained extensively and your tactical training takes over as second nature. Even still, I have read that when confronted with opposing fire, even the best trained soldiers get “club hands” and fumble and bumble through their mag changes and operating their rifle. It is also not uncommon to hear stories of well-trained police officers racking the slide on their weapon after they draw, sending an unused round flying, all because that was their normal routine at the range.
If I am transitioning to my handgun, it is because my rifle has failed, or I am out of ammo. In either case, your handgun is your last ditch to get out of the situation. I don’t want to have to think about whether I have the safety on or not. I know there are going to be people who disagree with this sentiment and insist their weapon have an external safety. But, for the average Joe with minimal training in a firefight, that is one extra step to fumble through before your weapon is operational, and fractions of a second can mean the difference between life and death.
When choosing a Glock, I would stick with models chambered in 9mm or 40 caliber for ease of acquiring ammo in a SHTF scenario. You could go with a Glock chambered in 45 ACP as well, but you are limited to fewer rounds per magazine. In a firefight, I want as many rounds packed into the magazine as possible. With the Glock models 17 and 19, you have 17 and 16 rounds available respectively. Another great thing about Glocks is that a lot of their parts are interchangeable even between models. Lastly, similar to the AR platform for rifles, Glocks are probably the most popular handgun in the country with many police departments having them standard issue, so finding a replacement part after the SHTF is still a possibility.
Glock is NOT the only handgun suitable for a SHTF scenario, but it is the best, in my opinion. There are the HK, 1911, and revolver faithful out there that will swear by their handgun….fine. If you properly train with your handgun, and you are comfortable with it, then good for you. My recommendations are for the weekend warriors, or those who don’t have the time to train four times a month. Remember, your handgun may be your last ditch effort to save your life. I want a handgun that is simple to operate, reliable, and has a high capacity magazine.
Same question – long gun?
If money is an issue and you absolutely can’t drop $2,000 on a high-end battle rifle in the near future, I am partial to the Kel-Tec SU-16 Charlie model with the heavy threaded barrel as an intermediary until you can afford something better. It uses standard AR-15 mags which can help you stay group standard with the rest of your squad if they are using the AR platform. Either way, I would stick with a rifle chambered in 5.56 because the overwhelming availability of ammo in a SHTF scenario. Also, the AR-15 is probably the most popular battle rifle in the continental US. It at least gives you a shot in the dark at scoring a spare part in a SHTF scenario. With a more exotic battle rifle, you may end up with a really expensive club if something goes wrong. Another important thing is to stay group standard with your squad. So I’m sure you will end up having some lively debates on this subject.
If money is no object, my go-to rifle would be a Larue Tactical PredatOBR AR. Larue arguably makes the highest quality, mil-spec AR platform rifles on the market. After that, I would go with either a Bravo Company, Daniel Defense, or Colt in that order. Although great for plinking, I would not trust my life long-term with a low-end, non-mil-spec AR-15 as you are just asking for problems. As far as optics, I am a firm believer in being proficient with iron sights before moving to an optic. At that point, I highly recommend a red dot over a scope on a battle rifle for Close Quarter Battles (CQB).
My favorite red dot is the Meprolight M21. They are Israeli Special Forces issue and have been proven on the battle field. The red dot operates with fiber optic during the day and tritium at night and it never needs batteries. Therefore, it is constantly on and if you are ambushed, you don’t have to worry about fumbling for a button or knob. Since there are no electronics, they are supposed to be EMP proof as well. If money is no object, Meprolight has a new model called the MOR which also adds battery operation on top of the tritium and fiber optic as well as contains a pressure operated red laser and IR laser, all built into the same lightweight unit. Aimpoint red dots would also be a top choice for me. The batteries last for 3 years constantly on, which I am a big fan of. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I’ve heard that EOTech has some reliability issues with their red dots and to me their reticles seem washed out anyways (IMO). Having a 3 or 5 times multiplier on a flip-to-side mount is also a good option if you need to reach out and touch someone.
The only time I would consider a scope for a battle rifle was if I was absolutely sure I wasn’t going to get into a firefight within twenty-five yards. However, I can see where a scope would make sense in certain open plain areas out west. If I did go the scope route, I would definitely want one on the low power side like a 2-12 power, just in case of CQB. From personal experience while deer hunting, there were two times many years ago where I had to pass on a shot because a large buck was too close and moving too fast in a wooded environment for me to get the crosshairs on him quickly enough with my 4-16 power scope. It was very frustrating and I moved to a 2-12 power scope with greater success.
Alright – EDC check – What is in your pockets right now?
In my pockets right now: a Kershaw Clash pocket knife, pack of gum, some change, extra Glock 17 magazine (for my Glock 19 which is technically above my pockets in a Crossbread Mini-Tuck IWB holster), lighter, wallet with my concealed carry permit and a $100 bill hidden in a secret compartment, your sister’s phone number on a piece of paper with her lipstick on it. OK, maybe not the last one….
Any upcoming projects you would like to tell my readers about?
The audio book for my novel has just been released, which turned out excellent, read by professional narrator, Kent Clark. I am currently working on the sequel which I am also really excited about. It will pick up with the main characters, Sean and Maria, where Equipping Modern Patriots left off and I will be introducing a new character. This will help paint a picture of what happened to the rest of the country during the first six months after the EMP. It should be out later this year. I also have a third book which I am periodically working on. It will be an actual prepping/bugging out manual designed with recommendations to help the full gamut of preppers from those on a budget to those with vast resources. I am hoping that is available in early 2015. I have a company I am getting started (which I can’t talk about yet) that will offer prepping services in a way that is currently unavailable. That should be up and running by 2015 hopefully. I have been approached to work as an advisor for a TV show focusing on bugging out of major cities. I am really busy…! No complaints, though. God is good.
Thank you, Jonathan!