What follows is an edited and updated version of an article that Irish-7 wrote and had published over at SurvivalBlog.com.
Arsenal and Gear
by Irish-7, Editor-at-Large
First, a little background and base information. I am a retired US Army First Sergeant with over 30 years of military service. I have performed multiple jobs of my lengthy career, mainly in the Combat Arms. I was a Mortarman and Automatic Rifleman in the Airborne Infantry. I was a Unit Armorer, Supply Sergeant and Rifle Platoon Sergeant in the Mechanized Infantry and a Scout Platoon Sergeant and Cavalry First Sergeant in a Brigade Reconnaissance Troop. Those were all active duty positions. I was also a Military Policeman for 2 years in the US Army Reserves. I retired in late 2010.
My family began preparation for crisis, disaster, TEOTWAWKI in March 2011. I was convinced of pending calamity by a financial advisor’s video (Porter Stansberry). He spoke indepth on the potential for economic collapse, largely due to insurmountable national debt removing the US dollar as the World’s Reserve Currency. Our preparation efforts have been adversely impacted in the delay of the Veterans Administration processing my award for Service Connected Disability. I waited over a year for a decision, more than 18 months to get the back pay. But, I did finally get paid, which enabled me to purchase some beans, bullets and band-aids. Also, I collected and saved some things over 3 decades in the Army. I believe that this military equipment will be very valuable in any survival situation. I owned several guns before we began preparation for the pending tragedies. We have purchased multiple weapons specifically for WTSHTF. We have 4 members of our “Nuclear Family” as Jerry Ahern defines in his book “ Survive! The Disaster, Crisis and Emergency Handbook”. I have a wife and 2 teenaged sons. I wanted each family member to have both “stand off” and short range firing capabilities. I consider “stand off” to be a rifle or shotgun with slugs and short range to be a pistol.
This article was prepared with the presumed situation of a SHTF/WROL scenario that forces us to “Bug Out” away from our home. Ideally, we would be driving to a safer location. There are some situations where that would not be possible, ie: solar flare or EMP that shuts down electronics, roads closed due to natural disaster or just blocked by TSA, UN or Chinese troops! Anyway, I will carry a Ruger Mini-14 LE Model Tactical Rifle. It shoots 5.56mm (.223 Remington) bullets. I also have a Colt Gold Cup Series 70 M1911A1 Cal.45 Pistol on my web gear. I slide a Smith & Wesson Governor .45LC/.45ACP/.410GA (loaded with Winchester PDX1) in a leg holster for a short range weapon. I built my web gear using the vest type suspenders (as opposed to the old LC-1). I kept the 2 small arms ammunition cases on the pistol belt so to free up the ammo pockets on the vest for a hand held radio, GPS and some survival supplies. This set up holds a lensatic compass, 2 one quart canteens, a canteen cup, pistol holster, fixed blade knife and a small buttpack. The web gear is a complete survival kit containing all the basic necessities for shelter (poncho and emergency blanket), water storage / purification, first aid, sanitation items (toilet paper, baby wipes, soap), food procurement (fishing kit), plus several pocket knives and multi-tools (pliers and hammer types). The web gear holds about 200 rounds of 5.56mm ammo for the Mini-14 and 50 rounds for the M1911 pistol. The leg holster carries an extra box of 10 Winchester .410 GA (3 Defense Disks & 12 BBs) shot shells, plus a mixture of #4 shot (for snakes) and a few 1/5 ounce slugs.
My oldest son is assigned a Mossberg Model 930 SPX 12 gauge shotgun and a Smith & Wesson Model 19-5 .357 Magnum pistol. His web gear is very similar to my own. I attached a larger buttpack on this Load Bearing Equipment (LBE). It essentially hold the same survival items as my set up, with the addition of wire saw and a snack bag containing trail mix, Slim Jims, Beef Jerky, Nutri-bars and Jolt gum. He has the same 2 one quart canteens, canteen cup and 2 ammo pouches as me. With the addition of a shotgun bandoleer, he can carry 100 rounds of mixed 12 gauge ammo (slugs and “00” buckshot), plus about 80 rounds of .357 Magnum (6-gun, 4-speedloaders + a box).
I am giving my wife a Remington Model 870 20 Gauge Shotgun. She also has a Walther PK-380 handgun. She purchased one of those tactical vests that the SWAT teams use. We hooked the vest on a civilian fanny pack, the kind with the Nalgene water bottles on both sides of the zippered pouch. The vest / fanny pack combination is also a complete survival kit. Combining the sling on the shotgun and a cheek rest pocket on the buttstock, there is 25 rounds of mixed shotgun slugs and numbers 2 &3 Buckshot, plus 2, 4 & 6 Birdshot. She can carry about 40 rounds total for the shotgun and 74 pistol bullets (3 x 8 round magazines for the PK-380, plus a box of 50). True, the Remington 870 in .20 GA is not the best defensive weapon. But, it is a diverse tool for hunting food, if the situation warrants.
Since my youngest son is somewhat leery of rifles or shotguns with strong recoil, I have assigned him my Ruger 10/22 Rifle. As with the Remington 870, it would not be my first choice for security. I will point out that the BX-25 magazines holds 25 .22 LR bullets. I purchased several additional BX-25 magazines and bought an adapter that attaches three 10-shot rotary magazines together. In very short order, he could put out a hail of .22 LR rounds. I also gave him a Ruger 22/45 Pistol with 4 magazines. His web gear consists of the fanny pack with the 2 Nalgene water bottles.
In addressing the rucksack / backpack assignments,(info deleted) I am still using my large frame rucksack that I had as a paratrooper in the early 1980’s. It may be more than I should be carrying with my current medical conditions, but I believe that I am mentally strong enough to push myself into bearing that weight. (info deleted) I have always subscribed to the theory that “It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”. On the outside of the military ruck I attached an entrenching tool (small, folding shovel), a 24” machete / saw, a 2 quart collapsible canteen and a small hatchet. I won’t go over all the contents of the rucksack, but I will say that it holds similar provisions as the web gear survival kit, but in greater quantity or more elaborate spread. For example, the first aid kit in the ruck is larger than the buttpack. Where the buttpack contained a $2.50 Space Blanket, the rucksack has the military version of the $12.95 All Weather Blanket. I will credit John D. McCann’s book “Build the Perfect Survival Kit” for helping me choose the contents.
My wife and kids have smaller backpacks. They are using the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) medium rucksacks that Army National Guard Recruiters give out as enlistment perks. They are frameless packs with multiple, zipper-closed compartments. They hold complete survival necessities, including ponchos, poncho liners, folding saw or hatchet, mess, sewing, fishing, fire starting and first aid “kits”. There is also space for emergency blankets, SOL bivy, Mountain House or MRE entrees, Datrex Rations, toilet paper, baby wipes and a waterproof box holding insect repellant, sunscreen, Chapstick, water purification tablets, baby powder and a small tune of Curel hand cream.
Our packs are more “Survival Kits” than “Bug Out” Bags”. We each have a separate Bug Out Bag with clothing, more rations, personal hygiene items and a few manuals (Wilderness Survival, First Aid, Special Operations Medical Handbook, TEOTWAWKI (Rawles), Where There Is No Dr/Dentist (2 separate books) and SAS Survival Guide). I carry a versatile hand truck / cart in my SUV. The cart will hold our Bug Out Bags, a case of water, 1 case of MREs and a milk crate with auto items (larger First Aid Kit, tow rope, folding shovel, field shower, roll of garbage bags and camp toilet seat). This ingenious item is lightweight, but strong enough to hold 400 pounds. It can be set up as a cart on 4 wheels and be pushed/pulled down any hard ball road. Or, it can be stood up as a hand truck on 2 wheels and be dragged through the field. I considered purchasing a police ballistic riot shield to affix to the cart. But, that desire has not yet been fulfilled. We also have a collapsible hand truck for any last minute, additional items. Of course, we would only be using these hand trucks and carts if we were forced to walk to our “Bug Out Location”. Our intentions are to “Bug In” at our home. One quick note about storing weapons in my truck: I DO NOT carry all these weapons and bulk supply of ammunition around with me during routine use of the vehicle. In my mind, such practice would not be very reasonable. I do keep an AR-7 Air Force Survival Rifle, a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, a Rossi Circuit Judge .45LC/.410GA and the Savage Model 24J over/under .22 LR/.20 GA in the truck for most travel within the region. My wife and I both have concealed weapons permits in our home state. At any given time, I have the Colt .45 Auto or S&W Governor and she has the Walther PK-380 or Smith and Wesson .380 Bodyguard. We each purchased at least 4 extra magazines.
In closing, I feel compelled to state that we prefer a “Bug In” over “Bug Out” scenario, if we are to face any type of crisis or disaster situation. I am confident that we have covered the required security considerations with the mixture and breakdown of weapons on hand. The topography of the land surrounding our home allows us to engage potential threats with all 4 “Stand Off” weapons: Mini-14 and 10/22 Rifles, Mossberg and Remington Shotguns. I own a Bushmaster M4 Carbine, too. When I bring Son#2 “Up To Speed”, he can carry and fire it if he likes it more than the Ruger 10/22. The handgun calibers: .45 LC,.45 ACP, .357 MAG and .380 Auto are ample defense in protecting us in the odd event that robbers penetrate our perimeter.