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Knowing When To Hold Your Fire

15 Apr

I don’t write much about small unit tactics. It’s not something you can learn reading a book or blog. There’s a question whether most preppers could coordinate with family, friends, or other preppers to defend themselves unless they held fixed barricaded positions.

What breaks down in the motto “Shoot, move, communicate” for preppers? Most preppers can shoot reasonably well. Movement is a bugger. Once people start moving about, you don’t know where the heck they are. A part of communication is letting the people who are on your side know where you’re moving and what you’re up to. You don’t want them to shoot you. Part is letting your team know where the enemy is positioned. You want them to shoot the enemy.

The capture of the Boston marathon terrorists is a case in point. Police are well trained. They have good communication. They wear uniforms. They should be able to recognize each other. They seldom practice coordinated drills with other departments.

After the two punk Boston terrorists murdered a police officer, they engaged in a gun battle with police. From what the news reports, they had one handgun and fired a dozen shots total. What ensued was a long battle with a whole lot of shooting. Reports now say most of the shooting was friendly fire. An officer saw somebody was shooting and felt it was a good idea to shoot back. The officer under fire shot back.

One terrorist ran and was shot. The other fled by vehicle, running over his brother. He escaped the gunfight. That he could escape with so much fire trained on him shows a lack of coordination.

The best solution to avoid friendly fire is to positively identify your target before shooting. If you can’t ID your target, don’t shoot. This is one reason to have good optics on defensive rifles.

It’s good to know what’s in front of and behind what you want to shoot. If you’re working with others and fire comes from one direction, that doesn’t mean you’ll be positioned to return fire. This is easier said than done if you panic.

Short of full combat, knowing when to hold your fire is important to defending your home. Too many homeowners panic and shoot at targets that haven’t been positively identified.

If there ever is a zombie apocalypse, for every zombie killed, one citizen will likely be done in by friendly fire.

Underrated Weapons And Tactical Equipment

27 Feb

In the last post, I shared my opinions about what I see as overrated weapons. This post will look at what I see as underrated tactical equipment.

1) Body Armor. A big part of my last post was about the limitations of many weapons against armor. I’ve heard several preppers say something I agree with: If you expect to be in a combat situation, by the time you own a defensive rifle, a pistol, and a shotgun, you should purchase body armor before you add more weapons. Body armor saves lives.

In way of honest disclosure: I don’t own body armor. If I had any armor left, I’d sell it because I have more pressing needs for the money. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t run out and purchase armor. If you can afford it and are concerned you’ll be in combat, then look into it.

2) Good Optics for your defensive rifle. This gets to shootability. How well can you shoot your weapons? Good rugged optics makes target acquisition faster. If you have great eyesight, you can get by with a good peep sight.

3) Binoculars. Fits in with the optical sight theme. In some areas these aren’t useful. In open terrain, good compact binoculars let you scout out an area. These are useful for spotting game. Is that a rock or a deer? The sooner you identify a threat, the more preparation you’ll have to deal with it or avoid it. The worst situation is where you’re suddenly taken by surprise. Stumbling into adversaries is deadly. Just don’t let a reflection from any optical device give your position away.

4) Camouflage. If you live in woodland areas, woodland camouflage makes you much harder to see. This could allow you to avoid inadvertent confrontations. Be sure your clothing doesn’t stand out in your environment. Woodland camouflage in the city sticks out like a sore thumb.

To remind you of the kind of freaky world we live in, I saw an article about experiments that successfully bent light around small objects, making the small object invisible to the eye. Invisibility cloaks are a long way off. In 20 years, it’s possible they’ll exist. They’d be exceptionally complex, calculating incident light from every direction and redirecting it around the object. If this comes to pass, somebody could be standing right in front of you and you’d never notice. How freaky would that be?

5) Ammo carriers. This is something that isn’t underrated by many preppers with military experience. They want a way to carry several magazines for their rifle. At a minimum, do you have a reliable way to carry two spare pistol magazines on your belt?

6) Stripper clubs. I mean clips. Many magazines are the fastest way to reload. The downside: Expensive. If you had to defend a position for an extended period, these little metal strips and an adapter allow you to reload magazines quickly. Important to save your fingers.

7) Night vision equipment. Liked by professional soldiers. Too expensive for the rest of us.

8) Silencers. These aren’t so much important for silencing sentries as they are to protect your hearing. The trend today is for weapons to have shorter barrels. The result: Without hearing protection, your ears are in trouble. The problem: If someone is skulking around inside your home at night, you don’t want to be wearing ear muffs. Your ears can alert you to the position of an intruder. Without ear protection, if you’re forced to fire, you can temporarily lose your hearing. There is ear protection designed to allow normal sounds to pass while cutting off loud sounds.

One issue with silencers is that they are illegal in many areas. Many of us will need to do without. Another big problem with silencers is the length and bulk they add, making weapons far less maneuverable. This is necessary for a traditional silencer, because of how they operate. Three sounds must be dealt with when you want to silence a weapon:

A) A sonic boom sound created when the speed of sound is broken by the bullet. This is why there is subsonic ammunition. Subsonic means lower-powered lower velocity, so shot placement becomes paramount. The bullets are usually heavier.

B) Hot expanding gasses under high pressure propel a bullet down the barrel. When the bullet leaves the barrel, these gases rapidly expand into the surrounding low-pressure air. This creates a powerful pressure wave, known as muzzle report.

Silencers operate on the simple principle of allowing the gasses inside the barrel to expand into a larger chamber before the bullet exits the silencer. This reduces the pressure difference between the outside air and the pressure directly behind the bullet as it leaves the weapon. This is why silencers are long and bulky. The longer and bulkier, the quieter the silencer.

C) This third sound isn’t usually dealt with and only applies when you have the very best silencers. It’s the clickidy-clackidy sound of the weapon’s action. Much less noisy than the two points above. In some situations even the cycling of a Ruger 10/22 action is too much noise.

Even if a silencer can’t completely reduce a gunshot, it changes the sound enough so it isn’t easily identified. Many cities have shot tracker technology today to locate the position of gunshots. This is an effective police tool. In the future, it’s possible if a gunshot is fired anywhere outdoors in a city, the police will instantly know. This is probably a good thing. It shows how technology can change policing and get us help sooner.

9) Reinforced doors and strong house locks. The above items are for combat situations. Most of us are at far more risk of being attacked in our home than needing to confront an army. Strong doors achieve two important purposes. It delays an intruder from getting in, giving you more time to prepare. It forces the intruder to make more noise, giving you more chance of being alerted to the break-in attempt.

10) Yappy dog. Dogs sense intruders sooner than we do. Not only are we alerted. Many burglars avoid houses with dogs. Downside: In a hard-core situation, it’s possible a yappy dog could alert somebody passing by to your well-concealed location.

11) Pens, toothbrushes, and everyday objects. Again, this isn’t for combat against an army. For personal self defense, a pen or toothbrush could be used to attack the eyes. When in a room, look around: What makeshift weapons are there? Just because you don’t have a gun doesn’t mean you’re defenseless.

Protestor Bonus Items. This Post has grown far too long. I’ll end with two bonus items for protestors.

12)  Protective headgear to keep your skull from getting cracked.

13) Gas masks.

Overrated Combat Weapons

25 Feb

I feel some weapons are overrated in military combat situations by preppers. A few weapons preppers overate:

1) Submachine guns. SMGs. If you’re a buff of old war movies, it’s always a hero with an Tommy Gun or German SMG holding off the enemy. Why do they even make rifles? Why not give all soldiers SMGs?

SMGs are just so cool. They’re cute. They’re sexy. They’re bad-a**. The problem is they fire pistol calibers, nearly all in the 9mm Parabellum. Against well-armored soldiers, even a 9mm fired from a longer barrel isn’t going to cut through body armor.

Many soldiers don’t even like the 5.56mm NATO because they worry the bullet will hit magazines or so much of the other crap modern soldiers wrap around their body, before even getting to body armor. This is why they like heavier calibers like the 7.62mm NATO or even the 6.8 SPC.

The 45 Tommy Gun is even worse. It’s not fair to say it’s only a super fast rock chucker, but during prohibition, 45 Automatic Tommy Guns regularly failed to penetrate car doors. In the book, I tell the story of an ambush on famous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde to illustrate this. BARs cut through car doors, big slow pistol bullets don’t. On the other hand, they don’t build cars like they used to.

In countries like Israel, where a threat of personal attacks by multiple attackers is a realistic possibility, you see citizens armed with SMGs. It’s not uncommon to see a UZI on a beach or in a car. These are much more personal defensive weapons than hard-core military weapons.

One application where SMGs make sense is guarding prisoners. Prisoners don’t wear body armor. The SMG is a compact weapon with a lot of firepower, against unarmored opponents. The lack of penetration can even be an advantage when you don’t want to injure somebody behind your target.

2) The shotgun. I risk flamming by preppers for saying this! How dare I say a shotgun is overrated?! I’m not talking about personal home defense, against an unarmored attacker. I’m talking about combat where we must assume opponents have protective armor.

The shotgun is even worse than the SMG when it comes to penetration and lack of range. At 60 yards, 00 buckshot has about the penetration of a 25 ACP “mouse gun.”

I know many people have taken deer successfully at this range with buckshot and I know the stories about how awesome fighting shotguns were in the jungle. It doesn’t change the fact that even modest body armor stops buckshot.

For personal defense at home, a shotgun is great. Going off to war, leave the shotgun at home.

3) The handgun. It’s not fair to criticize a pistol for only firing a pistol cartridge, but everything I wrote about SMGs and shotguns applies to most pistols. Pistols are a last ditch weapon in the military.

For preppers, I believe a good defensive pistol is the most important weapon to own. It will serve you well for personal defense. Soldiers in combat never want to rely on a pistol. Not only because of lack of penetration, but handguns are notoriously difficult to shoot well at a distance.

It drives me crazy to watch old episodes of Gunsmoke, where the heroes take out their sixguns and head up the side of a mountain to confront the bad guys, leaving their lever action carbines behind. If you must engage in combat and you know it ahead of time, you want something that’s more shootable than a handgun.

4) The “fighting” knife. Even soldiers and ex-soldiers who should know better spend a lot of money on expensive blades. There’s nothing wrong with liking quality, but realistically, if you must rely on a knife as a last ditch weapon in a war, you might just want to say a quick prayer and ask for forgiveness for anything bad you did. Take a minute to think of your wife or your family. Your life is about to end. Or you’ll be captured.

Knifes are lethal. Even an untrained crazy person with a knife can kill somebody. Something I’ve heard so many times is that within about 21 feet a knife is more lethal than a pistol. I’m not going to go into detail about why I don’t believe that, but will say this: Personal awareness is paramount to self defense because people have surprisingly slow reaction times. Up close, a prepared attacker has the advantage against somebody taken by surprise, regardless of weapon choice.

The same argument that a knife is more effective at 21 feet than a gun applies to the fists of a trained middleweight boxer. Before you can react, he could charge you and knock you out.

5) Throwing knives. The above weapons are serious. An SMG, shotgun, handgun, or knife isn’t the best choice in battle, but they’re effective in many situations. Throwing knifes cross the Rubicon into absurdity. Professional exhibition knife throwers work at fixed distances. Even making a throwing knife stick into a board at a variable distance takes exceptional levels of practice. It’s impressive, not practical.

Conclusion: A prepper armed with a shotgun and a pistol is well prepared to protect his family in nearly all situations. Perhaps, it’s all you’d ever need. But compared to well-equipped soldiers, you’d be badly undergunned.

Charlie Palmer, author
The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

My Philosophy Of Prepping (Part 3: Right To Self Defense)

10 Feb

In Part 1, I shared my belief you should have a basic understanding of the systems you rely on in your life. In Part II, I suggest you “prep to live” and don’t only “live to prep.”

Part 3 is key to my view of prepping. You should insulate yourself from harm that could be caused to you and your family by external circumstances beyond your control. This is what prepping is all about. Control what you can. Realize what you can’t.

You should insulate yourself from harm to you and your family that can be caused by irresponsible others or criminal people. In my book, I write a lot about guns, self-defense, and home hardening. Why?

I don’t want you or your family to be in a position where you can be injured by the negligence or maliciousness of others. I’m a strong believer in the right to self defense. You have the right to protect yourself and your family.

The sad fact is that some people are immoral. They won’t hesitate to harm you or your family for their own personal gain or even for their own amusement. There is no great moral virtue in letting people like that harm you or your family. I believe there is virtue in fighting people like that, and if it comes to it, even shooting them dead.

One thing I’ve heard is that this view isn’t particularly Christian. Aren’t we supposed to turn the other cheek? In a traditional view of Christianity, what happens to us in our time on earth doesn’t matter so much. The way we act and behave matters. Think of this world as a proving ground for the hereafter. It’s important we conduct ourselves morally. We can’t control the choices made by others. We can control our own actions. I understand the phrase “turn the other cheek.”

I still see harm in letting criminals run amuck harming innocent people. It’s not that I pass judgement on anyone. I don’t. But if it comes to self defense, I’ll stop an attacker. My view is that if another creature seeks to harm me or my family, I don’t really care too much about what happens to them. If everybody in society were basically moral and shared the same view, we’d have far less crime. As a society we tolerate far too much criminal behavior.

I can’t count the number of stories I’ve seen where some innocent person is murdered, raped, or violently assaulted by habitual criminals, who served time, were released, re-convicted, served more time, only to be released and commit more crimes.

In any situation where the police aren’t able to protect innocent people, criminals take advantage of the situation. They don’t care about the laws or the harm to others. In a situation like that, you must be prepared to defend yourself and your family.

If there were a total breakdown of society and laws, wouldn’t criminal gangs rule? I’m not so sure. In places like Somalia, they certainly do. In America, there is a tremendous body of basically honest people who, like me, might be classified as “gun nuts.” We like shooting. We shoot well, or at least I did when younger. Many of these guys are ex-military. Most would be classified as conservative Christian and have families. I don’t see them going out and pillaging.

At 100 yards, many of these guys can cut a dime at 100 yards with a rifle. I’d be surprised if the average criminal gangbanger could do that. I can’t help but think that in a complete breakdown of society, it’s the criminals in America who would have the most to worry about. Just as much as fear of injury, fear of prosecution prevents many people from getting involved in trying to stop a criminal.

In my view, knowing self defense is a key part of being a prepper.

4 Self Defense Guns You Need

16 Jan

In my opinion, a well-equipped prepper should have four firearms for self-defense. Gun cranks can own more, obviously, but with four weapons you’re basically all set. You can defend yourself in pretty much any situation. You won’t be undergunned.

1) The first weapon is your defensive sidearm. Yes, soldiers would make their first weapon a battle rifle, but most of us are more likely to need a handgun. It’s portable and for most defensive situations, it’s really all you need. It can be carried semi-concealed and draws little attention. That’s a huge plus. It isn’t awkward to maneuver in tight locations, like inside your home.

There are many great pistols to choose from: The Glocks, the Beretta 92, 1911s, and many others. It could be a 9mm (9×19) Parabellum. It could be a 45 Automatic (45ACP). It could be in another caliber of your choice.

This is your main “Go To” self defense weapon. Whatever you choose, it should be completely reliable and you should learn to shoot it well.

2) A backup pistol. This gun serves as a smaller concealed carry handgun. Sometimes you just don’t want to carry a full-sized gun. In a more violent world, this gun would serve if you became separated from your main defensive pistol or if it failed.

There are many choices for this weapon. It could be stub nose 38 Special. It could be 380 ACP. It could be one of the smaller Kahr 9mm pistols.

This gun is very likely the weapon you’ll have with you in most self-defense situations. Is it the best choice for the Zombie Apocalypse? No. But, it’s great for daily life.

3) A shotgun. Probably in 12 gauge. It could be an autoloader or a pump. This weapon has several nice features. It has better stopping power than the two first weapons. It has more intimidation value. That could be important if you’re trying to discourage somebody from attacking you.

The shotgun does have some downsides: It lacks range, which could be an issue in some situations. On a battlefield against rifles, a shotgun isn’t really a great weapon. Buckshot is easily stopped by most body armor. Beyond maybe 50 yards buckshot really starts to loose effectiveness.

For most of us, we’ll never need to engage an attacker beyond 20 yards and most attackers won’t have body armor. This makes a shotgun a great choice.

If you have the three above weapons, especially, if your defensive handgun is a 357 revolver and your backup a 38 Special, you’re about as well equipped as a law enforcement officer from the 1970s would be. With the revolvers, many today would consider you a bit undergunned. 9mm Glocks have more firepower.

4) A defensive rifle or a battle rifle would be my fourth choice. This is a weapon you’d never need except in the most dire circumstances. If there is a complete breakdown of law and order, this weapon would give you the most firepower to defend your retreat and your family.

Your rifle should be a semiautomatic version of one of the battle proven assault rifles. It could be an AR-15 (OK, some say those aren’t battle proven!), it could be an M1A, it could be an FAL. It could be an AK-47.

To make this weapon most effective, you should have several magazines for it.

Those are my four general “go to” self defense choices. What four self-defense weapons would you choose if you could only have four firearms?

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning