Just what constitutes “SHTF”?

Whether it is in the pages of this website or countless other places across the Internet the perspective over what constitutes a “SHTF event” is often discussed. Typical characteristics involve power outages, communications down, food shortages, fuel shortages, lawlessness, and economic collapse. Disagreement begins to surface when specifics are put forth.

How will the population react? How much will race play a role? Will civil war break out? Will a top secret government army come out from underground bunkers to institute martial law and go house to house taking guns and food? OK – being a little sarcastic and far-fetched with that last one. My point is a lot of scenario’s are brought up and described by preppers. These people talk about the precise happenings and circumstances like their opinion is fact. When others disagree the discussion elevates to an argument and fighting. I have seen it time and time again.


Someone mentions they just picked up a .30-06 bolt action. A few people say that is a great caliber then the trolls come out stating they should have bought a .308 or a .270. Trolls will mention there is a difference between 7.62 NATO and the .308. They will tell you if you don’t put a Leupold scope on it might as well throw a rock.

Guy mentions he picked up a Glock 17. Quickly the trolls proclaim he might as well use a pellet gun and should upgrade to a .40S&W or 45ACP.

Preppers should unite rather than fight. We have so much more in common than the differences which separate us.

I have no issue with people having opinions but please let’s have some common sense when it comes to predicting the future and be willing to admit the opinion is just that – an opinion. It could also be called a “guess” as to what will occur.

My opinion on what constitutes a SHTF changes from week to week and the specifics around each one changes as well. What I am also willing to admit is I may be totally wrong. I provide an educated guess – not really predicting.

There are so many factors involved it is impossible to state exactly what will happen.  Our best guess is all we can really do and then prepare accordingly.



20 survival items ebook cover

Like what you read?

Then you're gonna love my free PDF, 20 common survival items, 20 uncommon survival uses for each. That's 400 total uses for these innocent little items!

Just enter your primary e-mail below to get your link. This will also subscribe you to my newsletter so you stay up-to-date with everything: new articles, ebooks, products and more!

By entering your email, you agree to subscribe to the Modern Survival Online newsletter. We will not spam you.


  1. How right you are. Not only what you said, but SHTF could be different for each individual. I had to evacuate (I was given 10 minutes and did it in 8) from a wildfire a few years ago. I left with my dog and a duffle bag. I did not have time to load my preps. It changed my whole way of thinking. We can never really have one concrete plan that encompasses every scenario. We can only do what we think is best for our situation.

  2. Another aspect of SHTF is how wide spread the effect is. Global will differ greatly from nationwide, to state/region, to local. I’m sure many people in San Bernardino felt TSHTF. For at least 14, it did.

    As to the “caliber” debate. Bigger is arguably better, but what you have is better than nothing. I often respond to someone disparaging a “minor” caliber, “Well, you go stand downrange while I fling a few “pellets” at you.” To date, I have not had any takers.
    When you need it, the .38 in your pocket is far more useful that the .45 in the safe.


  3. Great article. I could not agree more, the negativity on all of the sites seems to be getting worse. It seems no matter what someone says, they are criticized for it. As far as what constitutes a SHTF event depends on who you are talking to and when. What may be a minor inconvenience for one, may be a total disaster for someone else. I have no idea what is going to happen next week, never mind next year, but I do have my fears and that is what I try to be ready for. There are a lot of good people that comment on these sites and we all need to stand together and support each other. The anti-preppers would like nothing more than to have us turning against each other. To you and all of the other people who comment here, keep up the good work and keep the ideas coming.

  4. Just want to say right-on and thanks Rourke. I’ve felt this so many times and often don’t participate in discussion for this reason! Merry Christmas and Blessed 2016 – Keep Looking UP

  5. Rourke- very well put !!Some food is better than none and this goes for weapons ,medications etc. Tomorrow is the first official day of winter-Have a safe Winter solstice. Arlene

  6. Wouldn’t it be plausible that if we can converse on the web then shft has not happened? Or if we can return home from a wildfire, a hurricane, earthquake, etc. then we are still on the pre-teotwawki side of life. For whatever it’s worth here, I see a real problem with people confusing all templates of ‘life altering’ circumstances with teotwawki! No matter what comes mine and your way, regardless of how horrible it is in our own domain, the fact is, if after that event the lights are on, food is on the table, the car still runs, and the rest of the world is functioning, then shft has not happened. There has never been, and never will be a shortage of personal disasters for all of us. But it isn’t the end of the world as we know it. When that happens we will know, and there won’t be an iota of doubt.

  7. SHTF is anything that removes you from your comfort zone, something that alters your day to day existence, something that is out of the ordinary, not normal. that is SHTF.

  8. Like they used to say pray for peace , but pass the ammo , but in our case it’s prepare for the worse pray ,hope for the best ,hope ya’ll have have very great Holidays

  9. I find it really funny…in a morbid way…that people as you say come out from under their rock and start giving advice on everything. We talk about the various weapons systems,calibre or ammo and whatever. Sadly a 22 cal will kill you just as dead as a 308. That IS a fact.

    We need to honor the choices of whatever from whenever. Maybe they DO have a reason for their purchase. Maybe it’s the cost…the availability of the item wanted for purchase. There are a number of reasons for it. We can offer assistance, hints, materials….and is “some” cases give items to the indivivud.

    Bottom line is this, if your in a group don’t stop planning, practice, or purchasing items. It’s the small things that will make these scenarios livable. My family and I found that out during our time in Florida dealing with hurricanes. We lost family members as a result of the storms, lost most of our home, lived in a camper for 4 months, but we survived because of good neighbors and pre planning we had done. Now we are in TN and a total different sets of priorities and a new set of friends and team members. Preps are never done, faith and concerns grow.

    Be safe and Merry Christmas to all

  10. SHTF is personal – TEOTWAWKI affects everyone. I totally agree that we need to stop picking each other apart, trying to show off who has the biggest (insert word of choice here) & just help each other. I’m a 70 yr old woman, in good shape for the shape I’m in, but my hands are not as strong as before. I’ve been asking advice from those who might know about what gun I need & could handle. In this case, their input was asked for & appreciated. Let’s all sing a chorus of “Come on people, smile on your brother” and have a merry Christmas!

    • Linda, I’m a 67 year old with the same situation. I went to gun stores all over town and found the only slide I could easily work was the Ruger SR 22P LR. I’ve had a Lady Taurus .38 Special since the early 90’s but the recoil is so bad it hurt my hands to fire it. Everyone says a .22 doesn’t have a lot of stopping power, but with 10 round mag. and 1 in the chamber, if I can’t take someone down, I might as well just give up. For long guns, a .22 Semi-auto is an easy choice and an SKS kick the least and are very accurate.

  11. Well .. “you pays yer money and you takes your chances”
    I suppose I am as much a “special snow flake” as anyone else. I think my choices are all right .. or I haven’t make the choice.
    That said I will be the one that suffers from it, one way or the other ..
    The right and wrong or a particular weapon, or food prep .. or anything is very situational.. I’ll do as much as I can within my financial limits. I hope I prepare fore the most likely events.. almost all of which would be shorter term.. and if I can do more .. then it will be gravy. I really respect the folks that have the discipline and means to be able to go completely off grid and self sufficient. Maybe I’ll get there some day before I need it. Rourke, I really appreciate the efforts .. and I hope I ask and listen as much as give an opinion.. Most everyone here are good folks ..

  12. great words from all, and truth from rourke. . . . I get really tired of the put downs by those who have the latest, best, most, biggest, etc. Hopefully we are all doing the best we can , given our unique circumstances. . . and no one likes a self aggrandizing smart aleck. . .

  13. I always thought that a SHTF event didn’t have to be state, country or even worldwide event . If something happens to rock my world if you will then that’s a SHTF event and I need to be able to protect and defend my children and me. Of course I have to be ready for the state, country and worldwide events too. Start small don’t get over welmemed and shut down. Just my two cents ~justme

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.