(Speaking of Air Conditioning… Mine died right before my vacation at the beginning of the month, so my gun budget has suffered a MAJOR setback. Them things ain’t cheap. It’s ok now, and I was away when the temps hit 104 here.)
My Buddy the Gun Enthusiast (MBtGE) is also a bit of a survivalist and has dreams of a Homestead Style property. Lots of gun owners, I find, are also survivalists. The whole “willing to defend your life and property with force if need be” attitude dovetails well with this. Occasionally Survivalists make the news in a negative way but these are the wackos that make good copy in your local news organ (I think that organ is the spleen, though it may be the duodenum...). The wackos are rare, but when they do something colorful they are compelling to observe. Most Survivalists are not wackos. Justifiably paranoid, mayhaps.
Let me define, for those unfamiliar with the breed. Survivalists are people that want to be prepared in the event of some natural disaster or social upheaval. This preparation ranges from a Rubbermaid bin full of canned goods, medicine, blankets, and 3 days of drinking water to people with remote properties, seeded with crops, livestock, and fruit trees and with elaborate underground structures stocked with supplies, able to withstand close-by thermonuclear explosions and the subsequent fallout. And they have plans. If one scenario happens, they know what to grab, where to meet separated family members, what is the way out of town, and where to hole up when they get there. The planning is critical. If everyone in New Orleans had a 3 day supply of food and water and plan to evacuate then the levees breaking would have had a lessened impact on the residents.
I was a Boy Scout, the Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared” so Survivalist tendencies are in my genetic code. But I’m not as prepared as MBtGE. He has a dozen 5 gallon buckets filled with rice or beans or dried peas, all from 25 pound bags bought at Costco. He has canned goods. He has lots of 2 liter soda bottles squirreled away, all filled with tap water. He rotates the water out every couple of years. Same with the foodstuff. He has plans. Like what he’ll do if he has to walk home from work because some disaster happened in the middle of the day. He keeps a bag in the trunk for that. He know what he’ll do if he has 60 seconds warning to bug out, 15 minutes, 1 hour, or 6 hours, and what relative’s farmhouse he’ll set out for. And he can hole up at home, even if the electric grid fails, and the water spigot stops working. Sure it would suck, many of these scenarios, but the Survivalist figure it’s better than rolling over on your back with arms and legs in the air, like a dying cockroach. We’ve seen that emergency relief services can get swamped, and people have to take charge of their own destiny.
There are several levels of survivalist emergency. Basically:
- There is the relatively benign, like having extra blanket in your car and some food and water in case you get stuck in a snowbank in South Dakota, and what do if that happens, like stay with your car, run the car every so often keeping the exhaust pipe clear. Or have a few gallons of water while driving back roads in Arizona in case the car dies.
- There is a little more severe like having a week or 2 worth of supplies in your basement if a tornado tears off the upper floors. Or having a week or 2 worth of supplies on the second floor if the levees that protect your town burst. Or having a week or 2 worth of supplies in your house in case of massive rioting locally that keeps you holed up, fending away dirt bags that are looking for easy targets to exploit. Might as well have a full month’s worth.
- And there are the Stuff Hits the Fan Scenarios. Where you may go years on your own after a war, (nuclear or otherwise), plague, massive Zombie Outbreak, alien invasion by our new Ant Overlords. A total societal breakdown. Not even MBtGE is ready for this, fully. Though he’s a lot closer than me.
In all these scenarios, being armed has its place. Ammo is a big survival supply, for protection, for hunting game, large or small, and for loose militias when order starts to re-established. I gotta tie in guns somewhere, this is a gun blog. Survivalists certainly think about guns. Disasters tend to drive home the fact that the government authorities can’t be everywhere at once to protect everyone from everything. They aren’t really there on normal days, but it’s more obvious when the chips are down in an emergency.
So I have prepped/am prepping a bug out bag or two. Something to carry in the car, and something to have quick to hand in my house if I have to get out in a hurry, and something a bit more elaborate for longer term that I can hole up at home with, or pack the car with in less than an hour.
BoBs take many forms. There is the kind where it’s just what you grab when you only have time to grab one thing, and that one thing is often a gun. Sort of a “running out the back door because the antagonists from The Hills Have Eyes are bashing down your front door and now you wished you hadn’t smoked so much in your life because I’d really like to sprint for a good 15 minutes.” The only thing I have is the S&W 686 revolver if the time crunch is 5 seconds. If I have 60 seconds it’s the Garand. I’ll run barefoot in the snow if the Hills guys are there looking to add me to some menu, as long as I had the revolver. Clothes are a plus, but I’m not sleeping with my shoes on.
But if I can grab the Garand, I can grab the backpack, bandolier and jacket next to the gun cabinet. In the backpack are energy bars, a change of clothes (and extra socks and underwear) a poncho and some water bottles. That’s the basic Bug Out Bag concept. You have to leave where you are and you don’t know when you are coming back. This barebones minimum backpack is there for a serious hurry, and the local situation is dire enough that it would be half expected to see guys running for their lives carrying a rifle. In this situation, the Police are probably running, too. Possible situation: Terrists have cooked off a nuke on the Mall in DC (I am 6 miles from the northern tip of the District), the EMP has cooked the electronics in my car and it won’t work and cars that do work have clogged the roads, and other Terrists are running wild shooting up the suburbs. That kind of bad-bad. It also entails that my proximity to DC means I can’t hole up at home because the weather report calls for southerly winds that’ll blow nuclear fallout on me.
See? You stumble over survivalist blogs looking for gun info, and hang out with a guy like MBtGE (my buddy the gun enthusiast) and you start worrying about this kind of stuff.
Plus, on vacation, I read a book called Alas Babylon loaned to me by said MBtGE. It was written by a guy named Pat Frank in 1958 and it may be the first “Day After” kind of book describing what happens after a full scale nuclear exchange when everything has broken down, and you have to think about survival when there are no delivery truck, grocery stores, hardware stores, gas stations, electricity, or even government. In a full on thermonuclear exchange with an entity like the Soviet Union then I am pretty much toast, but Terrists with a sub-megaton device on the Mall won’t even make my house catch fire. Probably. Anyway, I should be cursorily ready for a situation with no advanced warning. And I need to throw one of these in the car in case bad stuff happens when I am at work or away from home. No gun in the car bag, the state of Maryland doesn’t like that, and DC REALLY doesn’t like that. But I could walk home from work with such a pack.
The next stage of Bug Out Bag is with 15 minutes warning. Cops are driving around with loudspeakers saying “Flee for your lives!” This is a Katrina times 10 problem. A displayed weapon would be the least of the authorities worries as long as I am not shooting at them. Maybe the car works. Sort of like Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds. This BoB is a larger backpack with more food and water, a sleeping bag, more ammo and clothes. Maybe the car works, so that is nice, but I can leave it if I get stuck, grabbing the bag. I have this BoB assembled, mostly, but it needs upgrading. I have a surplus ALICE rig, which is just a military style pistol belt and suspenders with 2 canteens and a butt pack. This gives you 2 BoBs actually on me. I can dump the bigger backpack in a hurry if I had to and still go a ways on just the stuff attached to the ALICE rig. Food goes beyond energy bars to canned goods I can eat straight from the can. There should be enough in this bag to hole up in a storm drain for 3 whole days without sticking my head out, ever. After that I will get thirsty. This BoB has ammo for the revolver and the Garand, plus some 12 gauge. I’m going to make a scabbard for the Remington Model 11 that will attach to the pack. Don’t forget a sheath knife and an entrenching tool (short shovel for you Air Force types.)
I’ve considered the MOLLE gear. MOLLE is the replacement carrying system for the older ALICE stuff, but ALICE stuff works and is cheaper.
Water is very important for any BoB. I am chubby (not TOO, yet) enough to go a long ways without food, and I have thrived only a dinner roll a day for a month (don’t ask) but without water I am a goner in 3 days, tops. If anything I need to find a way to carry more water in all the BoBs.
The next step up is the BoB you can move in an hour. I am still assembling this. It is more than I can carry on foot and assumes I have a working vehicle. It’s a couple more weeks of food and water. MREs would do, but so does a few cases of canned goods and a can opener. There is a tent in this BoB. Some other odds and ends, like a few 100-hour candles and matches in a water proof container, blankets, some personal hygiene items, and more clothes, too. In the car, no one will see or be worried about the 3 weapons and all the stockpiled ammo. Rifle, shotgun, and revolver. If I have a .22 when everything goes pear shaped then I am bringing it. Maybe any other working weapons as well. I already have at least 2 bandoliers of Garand cartridges ready, and I need more shotgun shells and .357 on top of the dozen or so I have on hand. Lots of these supplies are in Rubbermaid bins. Just a few, but you can pack a lot in them. The stuff is distributed so that if I lose one bin it isn’t say, ALL the water, or ALL the warm clothes.
Where am I going with a car full of stuff? Why, to MBtGE’s house, or course. He is much better prepared and farther from the city. Because I am bringing stuff, and he trusts me, I am welcome. I am useful for taking a shift on watch so he doesn’t have to stay awake 24/7. Plus, he has a further escalation BoBs.
I intend to store extra brick of coffee to convince MBtGE to let me in without shooting me. He hasn't store much, and he will appreciate the bounty. He has his priorities, after all.
He has a trailer that can attach to my car or his, and he has enough supplies to load this. By the time I got there the trailer would be loaded, and I have a better truck for pulling it, with room for his wife and 2 kids and one more. Where do we go if we can’t hole up in his house? MBtGE has plans. He has relatives even further out in Virginia with farm acreage, and other locations even further belonging to trusted friends that might expect him to roll in. His supplies include lots of propane, 5 gallons buckets of rice, shelves worth of canned goods, much more ammo, plenty of water, radio equipment with batteries and solar chargers. A judgement call has to be made at this point. Do you hole up for months or head to the hills for even longer, maybe forever? Once at MBtGE’s house that decision can be made.
Meanwhile, it’d be a Good Idea (tm) for me to have the ability to hole up at my house, banding together with my neighbors to defend our little slice of America. I live near a High School that would be useful for defending a largish group against the Zombie horde, plus potatoes can be grown on the football field. Many of my neighbors are Hispanic immigrants that own landscaping businesses and they have lots of tools and are handy with them. Our neighborhood is such that we can block off large sections of it with makeshift barricades to dissuade unruly mobs. I have no idea what their internal caches are like, but this is America, and there is probably enough weapons and ammo to go around for a short while.
But I’ll need more water, more ammo, and more food IN my house, just in case. With a little wherewithal I’ll one day add on to my house, and this addition will definitely have a woodstove in it. I’m half considering a well with a hand pump with that. I already have a complete set of woodworking handtools to set up a 18th century cabinetmaker shop. With a bunch more wherewithal I’d buy 50 acres and a cabin in the boonies, planting fruit and nut bearing trees, scatter potato plants hoping for yearly volunteers, and fencing off area with dry stone walls for gardens and rabbit/chicken pens. That’s the ultimate BoB. A retreat fully prepared for permanent hideaway.
Another BoB design is caches on public land. Between home and work you dig a hole in the middle of the night, burying a 10 inch PVC pipe with an end cap. Inside this you place a sealed 8 inch PVC pipe filled with supplies that can last a while. Food, water, ammo, extra clothes. Mark it well, but not so well people will get curious and snoop around.
UPDATE: You can now get a BoB at Wal Mart