Posts Tagged ‘extended fight bag’

Even "Ahnold" had questions about which gun to buy in "The Terminator"

I wrote this piece a couple years ago when I was getting asked “what gun should I buy,” quite frequently. Lately, it seems I get asked this more and more, so here it is. It is long winded, but I feel it is informative. If you feel I missed your favorite gun, or didn’t give your favorite gun enough credit, well, that’s just the way it goes. Feel free to comment about it. Obviously, this list isn’t all encompassing. It is intended to give some basic information, and perhaps help the less informed reader think clearly about firearms. Enjoy -Eric

So you want to buy a gun . . .

There has been a lot of talk lately from a bunch of people I know about buying guns. Most of these folks aren’t gun nuts, white supremacists, vigilantes or any other of the liberal tags of people who want guns. They are you average law-abiding citizen who realizes that there is a potential in the very near future to at the very least, not be able to exercise their God given right to own a gun. Worst case scenario, is that these people realize they may need to use a gun to defend themselves in a basic absence of a real government. So I will address several issues that will hopefully spur some thought for the citizen who wants to purchase what is perhaps their first firearm.

First and foremost, one must ask the question of why he or she wants a gun. Is it for home defense? Is it for hunting? Is it for personal defense? Is it for stashing in a 72-hour bag? Is it for holing up in the event of a governmental collapse?  Dependent on how one answers this question determines what kind of gun one should buy. It is pretty rare that one gun can cover all the bases. But there are a few guns or combinations of guns that do all these things fairly well, but not all of them perfectly.

Here is a basic list of several types of firearms and their main uses:

Bolt Action Rifle; Chambered in about every caliber ever made. Can be loaded singly, or with a magazine. Fires one round each time the bolt lever is rotated and locked back. Can be highly accurate. Can be found in numerous configurations from plinker for targets up to a full tactical sniper rifle. Most often used for hunting and precision shooting.

Lever Action Rifle; typically chambered in lighter power calibers because the action is slightly weaker. It was often referred to as the cowboy rifle because it was one of the early American repeating rifles, used by cowboys and eventually the military. It is fairly accurate, and can be fired quickly by actuating the cocking lever for each round fired. Used primarily by cowboy action shooters and re-enactors, but still used for hunting as well.

Semi-Automatic rifle; this is typically a magazine fed rifle, that automatically extracts a fired round and loads another one. Each pull of the trigger fires a round then the weapon is reloaded and locked into battery after every trigger pull. Can be used for hunting, but the paramilitary applications far outweigh hunting. Calibers range from small plinking rounds, all the way up to 20mm.

Pump-Action Shotgun; Much like the lever-action or bolt-action rifle, the pump shotgun requires the user to cycle the action manually after every round is expended to lock the weapon back into battery. Used for hunting, home and personal defense, law enforcement, and paramilitary operations worldwide. For the most part, only one chambering, 12 gauge is worth owning.  Shotguns also come in semi-automatic, break-open single shot, lever and bolt action. Semi and pump should be the only ones looked at for nearly any application.

Single-Action Revolver; the quintessential cowboy gun. Usually holds six rounds in a cylinder and is fired and cycled by a single pull of an external hammer device. Each time the hammer is drawn back, the cylinder rotates to align the next round into the firing cone at the breech side of the barrel. Chambered in calibers ranging from plinkers all the way up to overly-large rifle calibers, and some shotgun calibers. These are used again by re-enactors. Don’t rule them out for hunting small game, and perhaps self defense.

Double-Action Revolver; this is possibly one of the best starter handguns, and is perfectly fitted for home/personal defense, as well as sitting in a 72-hour bag. Similar to the single-action revolver, in that it has a cylinder and hammer and operates much the same way, although instead of cocking the hammer manually, a single pull of the trigger will move the cylinder and hammer into battery simultaneously, then drops the hammer to discharge the round. The design lends itself to utter reliability. It is nearly idiot-proof in that you just point and pull the trigger. It can have a live round under the hammer, and with today’s safety standards, will not go off accidentally even if dropped. It can be used for hunting, and is still used by a large amount of law enforcement officials worldwide. The strength and design of this weapon lends itself to holding some pretty stout calibers.

Semi-Automatic Pistol; Operating much the same way as the semi-auto rifle, this weapon is typically magazine fed, and after cycling the action, each pull of the trigger will fire a round and recycle the action into battery. Caliber sizes are limited by pistol size, and often by the type of round, for instance, most semi-auto pistols do not fire rimmed cartridges like calibers often chambered in revolvers. Can be used for hunting, although calibers often don’t meet legal standards. Most often used for home/personal defense and 72-hour bag applications. Widely considered the end-all weapon for individual defense worldwide.

This is a brief look at various weapon types available. There are obviously quite a few other makes and types out there. This list just covers the basic types available and used today.

The most important things to remember about owning a firearm is that it doesn’t make the man, it is only worth a darn if you know how to use it, and without training with the firearm, one may not even bother purchasing it. An untrained person with the most expensive and high-tech weapons system is no match for a highly trained individual with the most rudimentary gun.

How much training is enough? There are a lot of schools of thought on this. Some feel that a person is not fully trained on their weapon until they have shot 5,000 rounds through it, and can perform immediate action and combat reloads in the dark under duress. Some feel that several hundred rounds a week are sufficient. Truth is, training on a weapon is an individual thing, but one should have sufficient experience with the weapon so that they are comfortable using it in the worst possible situation.

So, what gun is the right gun? The simplest answer is: the one you have in your hand when you need it. But quite a bit more thought should be put into owning a gun than that. It is a pretty serious decision. Once you own a gun, there is a whole new problem set involved with ownership. Where are you going to store it? Is it in a place where it is readily accessible if necessary? Is the potential for it to be used against you there?

There is also the whole morality and thought process surrounding the actual use of said gun to take another’s life to protect your own, or even to stop a violent crime from being committed against a total stranger. These things should not be taken lightly. For some, this problem is enough to keep them from owning a gun.

Once all these issues have been addressed, the time comes to make the actual decision as to which firearm to buy. For this process we will look at the idea of personal/home defense.

There are a lot of combat style (or assault) rifles on the market, as well as pistols and shotguns. The predominant assault rifle on today’s market is the venerable AR-15, arguably the cowboy gun of our generation. That isn’t to say that the AR is the end all of firearms. There are several few other “assault-style” rifles out there.

Quite a few nations use what is commonly referred to as the NATO battle rifle. The NATO BR is basically any variation of the FN-FAL or H&K G3 (known to civilians as the 91 or 93). These rifles are almost always chambered in .308 NATO, or 7.62x51mm. This rifle is used by one government agency or another on just about every continent on the planet.

Also high on this list is the Kalashnikov, or AK-47, AK-74, MAK90, AKM or RPK. This is the soviet answer to the M-16/AR-15, and replaced the reliable SKS in the hands of third world terrorists and communist militaries worldwide. Almost always chambered in 7.62×39, they are cheap, reliable, and ugly. But with perhaps more than 50 million copies worldwide, who can argue with numbers?

Similar to the NATO BR is the Galil. It is the Israeli battle rifle. It combines some of each of the above mentioned weapons, and is seemingly flawless, much like all the weapons Israel makes. It is typically chambered in 5.56 NATO. These are difficult to find in the U.S.these days.

The M14/M1-A is a standard style .308 NATO rifle used by U.S. Military forces since around late Korean War times. It is still fielded today by Soldiers in Iraq, though typically in a one weapon per platoon as an impromptu sniper weapon. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of the above mentioned weapons, but it does have an amazing history of reliability, and unmatched accuracy.

Depending on the use of the intended rifle, it is important to weigh the pros and cons.

Here is a short list of the pros and cons of each of the above listed weapons.

AR-15/M-16/M4 is one of the most used, most modified, and possibly one of the best weapons on this list. If one has a lower receiver package, he or she could purchase and attach any number of variations and calibers on the lower ranging from a .556 M4 Style upper, to a .50BMG single shot upper, and just about everything in between. This includes pistol calibers and plinkers. This weapon has often been pooh-poohed on by a lot of armchair quarterbacks based on its initial fielding failures in Vietnam. Some of the features that make this one of the best rifles on the market today are: Drop-free/straight load magazines. This could mean the difference between life and death. It is easy to disassemble and clean. It isn’t finicky about ammunition. Although all weapons should be cleaned, this weapon can really go a long time dirty and still function. It is easy to use at the beginner level. They are usually under $1000.00, and are readily available even at sporting goods stores. Cons about the AR platform are that even though it can run dirty for a long time, once it does get too dirty to function, it won’t function. It isn’t the most accurate weapon on this list, although Marines shoot the weapon 500meters, and most shooting teams in theU.S. use it. Some of the lightweight materials on it make it prone to potential breaking when used outside of just firing the weapon, i.e. hitting someone with it, prying open a door and what not.

AK-47, is a hardy, brick wall of a weapon. It will operate in any condition, and misfeeds are nearly unheard of. One could hit the exposed charging handle with a hammer if necessary and it wouldn’t affect the weapon. The Soviet block models have a threaded on barrel, whereas the Chinese style weapons have a pressed on barrel. The Soviet models, with a bayonet attached, can be thrown as a spear if necessary and they won’t break. Cons for this weapon are that it has loose tolerances and is relatively inaccurate. It is ugly, with a lot of exposed metal that can lead to operator burns on a hot weapon. One of the fundamental flaws with this weapons system, and every other on this list except the AR is the lack of a drop-free magazine. It has a pin-rotate magazine style that can be hard to operate, and leaves the potential for the magazine dropping out during firing.

NATO BR, in any of the configurations, this is a pretty solid weapons system that hits pretty hard due to the .308 chambering. They are well made, and have tight tolerances. The weapon is pretty accurate, and has few functionality issues. Some cons are that current and impending restrictions are making getting not just the rifles, but replacement parts hard to come by. Again, this weapon does not have the drop-free magazine.

The Galil is nearly unavailable these days in the states. It is an impressive piece, but the lack of worldwide use makes it hard to rate. It is something of an amalgamation of ARs, AKs, and NATO BRs. Cons are that things like parts and even magazines are nearly non-existent.

The M1A/M14 is an amazing rifle, proving itself in combat on nearly every continent since the late 1950s. It is robust, simple, and sturdy. It is exceedingly accurate out of the box. The .308 chambering makes it a premier semi-auto sniper system throughout the world. Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock used this weapon extensively duringVietnam, once getting a confirmed kill at nearly 1500 yards. It does suffer from the non-drop free magazine. It is also expensive. Here is a video of me shooting my M1A SOCOM 16.

Recoil should be noted here. Any of the weapons listed with the exception of the AR in .556 have fairly stout recoil that can affect follow-up shots.

Pistols – the above list of the different types of pistols pretty much covers it. There are myriad pistols on the market in countless calibers.  The main thing to keep in mind when choosing a handgun is to think about how much money your life might be worth. Then spend accordingly. Choose a pistol that is comfortable for you to handle, as well as carry on your person for possibly days on end. The caliber range should be somewhere between 9mm at the bottom and .44 magnum on the absolute top end. If going with a semi-automatic, look at what the American military, including special operations groups is currently or has recently carried as a sidearm.

Shotguns – again, the list of manufacturers is pretty large. Purchase one that is not too light, as recoil will be unmanageable. Avoid shotguns in any configuration that is not pump-action or semi-automatic for a home/personal defense weapon. If you are using this piece primarily for hunting or skeet/trap shooting, feel free to explore over/under or side by side break-open type guns. For home/personal defense, one should only purchase a weapon in 12ga. That handles at least 3-inch magnum shells.

Recommendations: This list is obviously biased. Here is the best advice I can give to anyone now looking to buy a gun. If your purpose of buying a gun is because you think you are not going to be able to buy one in the next few years, due to restrictions, then look at buying the “scary” looking guns. Specifically, guns usually three or more of the following: Detachable magazines, flash hider, bayonet lug, pistol grip, carry handle or collapsible stock. Yes, that is everything on an M4/AR-15 and most stuff on an AK and NATO BR as well. So, if you are thinking “fire sale” then run right out and buy one of those.

Keep in mind, that the above mentioned guns are bullet hoses, and eat up ammo at a pretty ridiculous rate. Currently, .308 ammo is running right around .50 per shot, 5.56 is around .30 a shot, and 7.62×39 is about .20 a shot. That being said, .556 and .308 are typically reloadable, non-corrosive ammo, whereas the 7.62×39 is not. If possible future restrictions are what is urging you to buy the firearm, take note that ammunition and reloading supplies are also on the hit list, so stock up now. Also if you believe that you may face a situation in this country where you are on your own, and might be in a position to be pilfering magazines and ammo off the dead/wounded, remember that you will be most likely to get AR-15 ammo and magazines.

One of the best options is what is somewhat referred to as the triple threat. It is a combination of an “assault” rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol.

For the price of a more expensive NATO BR, or even an M1A-M14, one can purchase an AR-15, a solid pump-action shotgun, and a good combat pistol. Such examples are a Remington 870 tactical, which retails for around $300, a berretta M9/92 ($500) and a Bushmaster AR-15 (900). This combination spans all three categories quite well.

Another school of thought is to purchase a handgun and carbine that have interchangeable magazines/ammo, like a Ruger P94 .40 caliber pistol, and a Ruger PC4, .40 caliber tactical carbine. This means one only has to carry one type of ammo, and magazine. Another combo is a Berretta M9 and CX Storm Carbine. These limit any long range shooting, but lessen the burden of multiple cartridges and magazines if one finds themselves on foot for any length of time.

While the idea of an AK or NATO BR seem like the way to go, it is hard to argue with the service record and “bang-for-the-buck” of an AR.

If I was going to go out and start from scratch, I would find a dealer who sellsBushmasterAR’s as a Davidson’s distributor (this option gives a lifetime warranty to the weapon) and purchase an M4 style rifle. I would then buy a Remington 870, and a berretta M9, or Springfield Mil-Spec 1911. I would then purchase at least 1500 rounds for the rifle, 1000 for the pistol, and 500 shells for the shotgun. That would be my base supply (and absolute minimum to have on hand at all times) any shooting done would not be with this ammo. Ammunition, if new or factory reloaded, and stored in a cool, dry place can last for at least five years. Surplus ammo cans can be purchased pretty easily and cheaply, and make great storage.

The 72-hour bag: Also known as a “bug-out bag,” this is a duffel bag, backpack or tote box that is easy to get to and carry. It should contain enough food and clothes to last 72 hours away from the home. Some refer to it as a “go to hell kit” or an “Oh-shit bag.” Aside from food and clothes, it should also have a small but complete first aid kit, binoculars, regional map, any medications needed, at least 100, but preferably 500 dollars, and possibly gold or silver. It is also advisable to have another handgun that one is trained on and familiar with and at least 100 rounds of ammunition in this bag. Make sure it is light enough to carry. Remember, trying to get prepared for an event during the event is like putting on a condom after sex.

Reader “tucosgunwasempty” has an opinion about some rifles. Here is his input:

“Okay, so you wanted my thoughts on guns, more specifically it sounded like you were after my thoughts on things which will likely be banned and also firearms chambered for .308.  Here you go.”

AR10: This can be a good choice.  They are bigger and of course more robust than an AR15/M16/M4 which means that it will be a bit heavier as well.  If one is familiar with the M16 family of weapons then the controls on this are almost identical and there is no learning curve since the manual of arms is the same.  Parts are much more limited than an AR15 for any mods you might want to do and as a result they are also much more expensive.  Try looking for a free-float quad rail for an AR10.  Also magazines are nowhere near as available as they are with the M16 and its derivatives.  What the AR10 does have is .308 power.  It’s a stopper for sure and carries much, much more kinetic energy at much, much greater distances than the 5.56/.223.  The rifle being chambered in .308 combined with the modularity of the AR10 design of an upper and lower receiver means that you can also get uppers in different chamberings within the .308 family of cartridges such as .270 and .243 for a much lower cost than popping for a complete rifle.  I think the biggest supplier of these is http://www.dpmsinc.com.

FAL: These certainly have their fans.  This is a solid design in every sense of the word and is popular around the world in countries that were never part of the Warsaw Pact and were never forced to arm themselves with the Kalashnikov.  Also in .308, this thing is big.  Even with the non-NFA minimum of a 16-inch barrel these are big, similar to the AR10 since the length of the .308 cartridge requires a long action and subsequently a long receiver.  There is a fair level of aftermarket accessories for these.  You do have to watch yourself when it comes to any repair parts as recent importation restrictions limit the number of non-US made parts that can be in one of these and you can get yourself into serious trouble even if you inadvertently installed a few metric springs.  I don’t know a whole lot about these, but you can get a lot more information from DSA at http://www.dsarms.com.

AK: The Avtomat Kalashnikov is popular the world over and I couldn’t disagree more.  My main problem with it is that it is stone-cold butt-ugly.  Sure it’s got a .30-caliber chambering.  Sure there’s tons of aftermarket upgrade stuff.  Sure you can get one cheap (relatively, these days).  Sure they’re still fairly easy to find.  Sure you can get high-capacity magazines for it.  Sure it’s supposed to function flawlessly even if you pour dirt into the action.  But it’s ugly.  I’d rather put a sling on pig’s ass and walk around with that over my shoulder.  Plus, they just do not have the accuracy potential of the AR design or the M1A design, or even the FAL design.   If you put the same amount of time, money, and energy into an AR that it would take to make an AK shoot 1″ at 100 yards, you could shoot a fucking germ a mile away with an AR.  The differences between the AR design and the AK design are interesting from an engineering standpoint and I think that looking at them this way sums up the differences in the two rifles extremely effectively.  The AK was designed to be quickly and cheaply manufactured and then used by large groups with little training in the operation and maintenance of the rifle.  The AR/M16 was designed to be manufactured using (at the time) high-end manufacturing processes and then used by individuals with extensive training in both the operation and maintenance of the rifle.

M1A/M14: This is a well-made, extremely effective design.  It has a robust action and the potential for extreme accuracy with little to no effort.  Out of the box, most models from Springfield Armory can outshoot their owners.  The National Match models have accuracy potential that 99% of the population does not have either the skill or talent to effectivly exploit.  They also don’t have a lot of the features which scare pussies such as pistol grips and folding/collapsing stocks.  This means that sometimes when ban come down the pike the M1A flies under the radar.

There are also a good number of companies that make HK91 knock-offs.  I have no idea which ones, if any, produce quality results.

—–

So there you have it, folks. This is the list as I wrote it a while back when getting asked a lot of the same questions I am getting again lately. Obviously most of this is my opinion and open to interpretation. I hope this helps, or at the very least, opens debate.

Eric

Semper Vigilans, Semper Paratus

Zombie Awareness International

Here is our first guest submission from our good friend and tactical adviser, Zom Tac. (the views and opinions expressed here are those of Zom Tac and not necessarily ZAI. Zom Tac suggests a knife other than Kershaw, the official knife of ZAI for its great price, reliability, and customer service. WE at ZAI recommend Kershaw.)

Photo: Book of Eli, Warner Bros. Pictures, 2010

Hello Survivors,

We’re taking a dive into our bags to see what’s going to get us through. We’ll start with the basics of selecting a bag and fill it with our essential kit for moving home, or just basic survival on the move.  There are copious tutorials, lists and even PowerPoint presentations on Bug Out Bags. But this is the official layout for the ZAI EFB, coordinated through the staff there. By there, I mean the subterranean compound that they live in, or Mom’s basement.

Supplies are our quintessential bread and butter. We need our supplies to help us complete our mission. Our mission is to stay alive. From simple fire wood chopping to escape and evade (E&E), let’s take a good solid look at what we’ll need to help us out. As with all things Zombie apocalypse or just mundane emergencies we need to be versatile. This bag will have more than one use so bear that in mind. The key to being a well prepared survivor and a running buffet for brain chompers is versatility.

We’re going to need a bigger boat.

This is not a Bug Out Bag, or an All in One Bag. This is to get you through the fight and home to your hoarded supplies and a more secure location. This is not a 72 hour bag. It’s closer to a 12-24 hour bag as far as food and water are concerned. That’s why it’s small. With ingenuity and God’s blessings this could be all you need, but it probably won’t be. That being said, first we need a bag.

“Pick it up put it in the bag, boom boom…”

This sounds simple but you can drive yourself mad trying to find a good fit. I’ve found two. Both are Maxpedition. What you want to look for is a decent size for your mission. Mission drives equipment. To get an idea for my bags I went to REI and looked at the bags, getting a good gauge of what a 6,000 liter bag is versus a 32 liter, or a 1,100 cubic inch versus… You get the idea. Finding the right fit is essential. Take a look inside; look for the amount of organization you want and features you would like to have. Does it have enough zipper compartments? Too much mesh?

A lot of this was trial and error for me. But that is how I got what worked for me. Online shopping can be a blessing and a curse. Read the return policies and carefully make sure you don’t see “return only in original packaging, unopened.” It is infuriating to no end to get this language in a return statement.

So learn from my mistakes and read carefully. I don’t do business with those companies anymore. How the hell would I know if I want it if I can’t take it out of the packaging? I suppose you’re right: the four pictures on the website should have told me everything I ever needed to know! Come on!

Therefore, return policy is important. The best advice I can give in regards to bag selection is this: Try it. Make sure you load it up, get it on, and move around. Take the things you want to put into the bag with you, then load it up and try it out. You might think you look like a fool. But really you look like a pro. I’ve seen people in REI with an entire back packing load-out spread out on the floor stuffing it into a bag they wanted to buy. Thankfully they didn’t buy it, it wouldn’t hold what they needed and they needed almost another thousand liters. The pack was right around $900. That little time spent actually testing the bag saved them more money and hassle than just guess work. Let others make your mistakes for you.

The first of my recommended bags is the Kodiak Gear slinger. This thing is a chest rig, backpack, and desk all in one. Its economical design gives you the space you need to put essential items easily at hand. In the backpack configuration you have a row of two PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System, for use with MOLLE pouches, Modular Lightweight Ladder Equipment); you can throw a compass, radio, or knife here and have easy access to it. The cross chest strap comes with an integrated whistle: a seriously snazzy feature! There is also a strap to secure your drinking tube.

Front Strap

That was just the front strap!

Moving on to the cavernous main compartment you see that there is plenty of space.

Main Compartment

Each pouch may have a specific use for you. Note that some pouches are water resistant. While the entire bag being made of 1,000 denier cordura is naturally water resistant due to the tight weave of the nylon, Maxpedition went the extra mile and put extra water resistance in the built in pockets and pouches. These are some of the obvious reasons I chose this bag.

Note the mesh pouches which save weight and allow easy visibility of what’s inside

The front pouch has a lot of organization to it.

One thing I do wish would have been done with the smaller upper pocket was put a gusset on the slash pocket. This would have allowed for those items such as the radio shown in this stock photo to be put within easy reach and a more natural position.

The entire front and sides are covered in PALS, attaching magazine pouches or anything else is extremely easy, especially with Maxpedition’s attachment system. Ever had a snap get crushed beyond function? Well with Maxpedition’s system that’s not going to happen.

Still more storage can be found in the hydration compartment.  Here you see the loop side of a Velcro strip used to fasten a universal holster and magazine pouches.

Front Pouches

There are cons with this bag, and the other bags like it.

It is very easy and very possible to load this thing up uncomfortably full. For what we use it for it is VERY easy. It does not ride extremely well for hikes over six miles at 35 pounds and above. Be very particular about the items you put in here. Ammo must be a priority so pack accordingly (approximately 1 pound per loaded 30 round AR-15 magazine. Those of you in CA, NJ, NY, move and save your own life.) Another con is counter balancing the weight with your rifle. If you can’t or don’t own a rifle or shotgun, your load bearing shoulder is not going to be happy with you. All of that weight rides directly on your shoulder. The cross strap (the one with the whistle) does help in offsetting it a little, but at mile seven you’re going to need a serious break.

The Falcon II

This is very similar to the Kodiak because it was the precursor. It does not have the same organization characteristics as the Kodiak but is still 200ci larger. This is my bag of choice for just about everything. It’s my assault pack for the Army, my EFB, and my diaper bag for my daughter when not in the other two roles. Just as with the Kodiak you can overload this puppy easily. Thirty five pounds fits like a glove, so be careful.

The Falcon II has a lot going for it even if it is an earlier model. It’s very streamlined and has a lot of the same features as the Kodiak.  The main compartment zips fully open just like the Kodiak and can fit a large amount of gear. I recommend keeping your items in individual Ziplocs, redundantly sealing water sensitive equipment. . The main compartment has two mesh pockets, the larger with a zipper, the smaller without.

Falcon II front

The gusseted sides shown here are to allow for a full water bladder. This is an awesome feature. The internal frame is a very nice plus, and the waist belt helps distribute weight onto your hips.

Front of Kodiak

The exterior is also covered in PALS and you can attach your favorite pouches. The bottom features a rubber slip resistant pad  that also has adjustable cinch straps. You can use these to cinch down your Thermarest. One of the best features for us military folk is the helmet strap. Although this is not its primary design it works exceptionally well for it.

The cons:

It’s not a double strapped Kodiak. If this bag were a double strapped Kodiak it would be the perfect bag for us. Take all the features of the Kodiak, add the extra cubic inches, and put two straps on it and BAM! The perfect EFB!

Both the Falcon II and the Kodiak have a pistol pouch in them

Hint, hint Maxpedition!

The categorized list:

Keep in mind we need to be lightweight, so very bare essentials: water, food, fire, shelter, miscellaneous, medical, ammo. Lots of ammo.

This tastes like… Burning?

Water storage, purification, and filtration. Above all else, this is your biggest worry. Berkey does it better than anyone. For at home use get a Berkey www.getberkey.com. For field use, use what you have. If you chemically treat, know what you’re doing! Read the instructions! Killing yourself for a drink of water doesn’t do much good. Whether you use iodine, bleach or something fancy, do it correctly. Filtration is easier, but most filters don’t catch viruses. And what do we know? It’s a Zombie VIRUS that we’re looking to stop. But the bright side is that most viruses will die in open air in a few seconds. AIDS doesn’t last thirty seconds outside a host. Will the Zombie virus? Who knows? Don’t take a chance. I double up. I will chemically treat and filter/purify my water. It’s just good tactical sense: dual stages of defense. AquaMira makes a filter that attaches directly to your Camelbak or other bladder.  It uses coconut husk fiber.  Pretty cool really. Why a hydration bladder? Canteens and even my beloved Nalgene slosh if not topped up or empty. Making excess noise is not an option. Humans and Z’s know what water sounds like. Do a jump test with a half full canteen and see. Lot o’ noise! Well, more noise than you want. A tip from someone who has done it: only put water in your hydration bladder. Anything else will screw up the tube and make it forever taste faintly like lime beverage powder. You must air dry them when you store them. Make sure they are as dry as possible. Run a few gallons of water through them before use. They are plastic and will taste like it for a while. My wife still complains, but not when she’s thirsty enough!

“It’s not a flavor thang, it’s a texture thang.”

Food is the other non-tool item that should be discussed. Whether you opt for lighter weight or just munch and run there are three that I’ll discuss. Each is mission dependent. First is freeze dried. Got to love it! Nice shiny package, light weight and they have some delicious entrées! But you have to boil water to eat it. MREs are the staple of the Military. They are heavier but you can eat them cold; just be choosy. Some are better cold than others, but you can eat them on the go easy. Finally, we have ration bars. They’re bricks of sustainment food, usually seen in life rafts. These things are dense and taste like coconut. They won’t really curb your appetite, but hopefully you’ll be observing rule number one too much to care (cardio). I go with MREs as it’s what I know and I have access to them. Just save a few from the field each time I go.  You can pick them up at a surplus store or online. I recommend www.MREinfo.com before you do. These people are obsessed with them. Ration bars would be my first option if I didn’t have MREs for food. They are easy to pack and each bar is 1,200 calories. They will keep you going in a fight.

Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of our bag. Or should I say the straps and buckles… I’ll be here all Apocalypse, just laugh or the beatings will continue…

FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! Uh huh huh huh!

(This section has been revised from www.survivalcache.com)

The first real tool is fire. Have a minimum of five ways to make fire on you or near you. In your bag is just fine.

Burn baby, burn!

This super tool I picked up at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon (Pronounced: Orygun). This thing is the bee’s knees. Tinder when you need it, magnesium when you don’t. This handy little tool is made by Jack Ward. (To get yours send $20 check or money order to: 89772 Sutton Lake Rd Florence, OR 97439. Or call 541-997-1999. The one I use is the “Survivalist”, good for ~60,000 strikes on the flint.)

Flick your Bic… or mine..?

Yep a good old Bic lighter or three. These things will light forever! I used ONE on an entire 16 month deployment and let me tell you I smoked A LOT! Kind of got to. It’s that or go crazy from boredom most of the time. And you look cool right? Right? Anybody? Ah! Marlboro man! Knew you’d say yes!

“I Need more powa!” Scotty, Star Trek

As our fearless site leader stated: 9V battery and steel wool! You saw the video. This stuff goes up quick and HOT!  Besides, you can use both for just about anything: powering electronics, shorting them out, silencers… Only after the BATFE folks are walking meat sacks though. Dead walking meat sacks. It’s not worth 25 years.

“I’ll make my fortune with sticks…” Aludra, Wheel of Time series.

Matches: a million and one uses. Tips dipped in paraffin wax to water proof the coated ends and you’re good to go! Strike anywhere matches work best because, well, they strike anywhere… An old film canister works very well for this. Tape some sand paper to the lid for a striking surface and you have a handy sander, for those things in the field* that need sanding.

Wait… What do you mean?

You figure it out. You need one additional way to make fire. Rubbing two sticks together is just as valid as all of the above. But here’s the catch: ever tried it? We know it works, but I hope you have a pair of gloves and a lot of time because you’ll be there a while. Try it first, and then pack more lighters, matches, and strikers. It’s NOT fun, it’s not fast, but it does get the job done eventually… Hours later.

Is it chilly or is it just me?

Our second tool is insanely important. You must have shelter. Doesn’t matter what really, but a way to keep yourself warm and dry at night is key. In my terrain we have trees. Shelter for me consists of a jungle hammock, a lined survival/Emergency blanket with a green side, and a lightweight sleeping bag. I also have a Thermarest accordion that is amazing! It gets strapped to the bottom of the Falcon II wrapped in a noiseless garbage bag, which coincidentally doubles as a poncho or additional shelter. So now you have a lightweight solution that you can keep in your bag year round. Just for extra comfort I keep a lightweight sleeping bag in a compression sack as a standby. I like to be comfy while I sleep. A pillow? Really? Ok fine. For a pillow, a jacket folded like so… (img of jacket folded into the hood) works awesome! Used it every time I’ve been in the field, both for jacket and pillow (link to pillow jacket folding tutorial)

“No! We’re not lost, the map is broken!” LT. Arriola, four miles away from where he should have been.

A compass and a map are key components. You need to know where you are to get where you’re going. A simple street map and a compass can often do that for you. You can also map out areas you could shelter in or find supplies. Some people call it a “Plan B” map. If “Plan A” worked you wouldn’t need a map, but it’s always good to have one or two. I recommend either laminating it with acetate or getting it laminated. A set of map markers can be used to mark key locations and areas of interest. Make sure you know how to read a map. It’s not like Call of Duty where it shows the little green “You are here” arrow. Something to remember: the top of the map is always North.

…Then divide by zero and carry the one…

An additional tool that’s worth the weight is a Pocket Reference guide, as well as a Ranger Hand book. Both have valuable information that comes in handy for mission planning and trying to remember that darn metric conversion. I keep mine in a heavy duty Ziploc bag.

“Who’s on first?”

Have a small AM/FM NOAA radio: solar and battery powered. The best have a hand crank flash light and a solar cell phone charger outlet. Being able to get information is essential. Knowing if there is a Mega Swarm sweeping across your part of the city is a really good thing to know as well. Additionally, have some sort of communications equipment. I recommend an XMRS radio keyed to specific channels for your internal *squad and or *company size.

“Peace be with you.”

Something I never leave without is a Bible, just a New Testament: hope, salvation, and something to read and study besides the four walls of your shelter, also stored in a Ziploc bag. Whatever your religion, take it with you. God may need to have a word through His word with you.

… I wish I would have written that down.

Never underestimate the power of notes. A pencil and paper are great tools to have and I typically get silly redundant with it. My bag features two write in the rain tablets, a mechanical pencil, and a wood pencil. Why both? Prepper rule number one: Two is one, and one is none. The wooden pencil shavings can also double as kindling if needed.

Timmmmmbbbbarrrr!

A saw, a nice little zip saw, can do wonders in the woods and in an urban environment. It’s light weight and can cut wood and plastic pipe. It can also choke people… Bad nasty people, of course. Admittedly, this is not in my bag yet. But it will be soon.

“Machete don’t text.”

One of my favorite weapons is a machete. It’s a tool too, but it has a great heft and you can swing it all day. This, accompanied by a tomahawk, is all I really need to be nasty. They don’t run out of bullets, and even when they’re blunt they still do the job. ‘Nuff said. I recommend, at bare minimum, a 1/4″ – 1/8″ blade thickness running down to a 20* sharpened edge. It really gives you the best of a lasting edge and sharpness. The tomahawk is the same. It needs to be heavy enough to use as a weapon or a tool and balanced enough to throw. I recommend a Chippewa style. The heart cut out isn’t necessary but it makes me throw better. Practice a lot with both your throwing knives and axes. To a lot of the tactical community, throwing knives are a joke. I’m not saying I’ll go running into battle bladed up like some uber ninja in Hiroshi’s castle. It’s just an additional skill that could come in handy. Maybe you need to cut a rope across a canyon and can spare the knife but not the rope? Who knows? It’s a tool for the tool box. Great stress reliever too, not to mention it’s cheap fun.

“It messes with their head when I do it naked.” – Broc Samson.

A knife. This seems like a no brainer, but you can forget it. How often do you use one in this modern world of ours? You don’t need a Rambo knife, but it does need to be hefty. This is your utility knife, not your melee weapon, but it can double as one when needed. It does a lot of the work for you with its weight. There are tons of articles and volumes of information on knives. Find what fits you best. Just remember you’ll have to haul it around with you. I use a United Cutlery S.O.A.  It’s not the most expensive knife out there but it works well for me. One thing I must add about this knife is it’s a little lightweight. I will most likely be upgrading to the same blade design but heavier. In addition to this knife, I carry no less than two multitools. You can’t really have enough of them. Okay, maybe six is a bit too many, but they are essential. **Zombie Awareness International recommends Kershaw brands Zero Tolerance or Kershaw USA knives, the official knife of ZAI**

“I think it’s broken…” Countless people.

Why is medical almost last? Well, we’re kind of going in an importance wave. We start at the top with water, food, fire, and shelter. Then we move down into miscellaneous items that help us out but are not immediate essentials, and back up to medical and ammo.

The reasoning is to get basic needs met first and foremost, and then go on to more advanced needs. Medical and ammo are advanced needs by definition. I have an extensive medical kit. It’s far and away more extensive than someone would likely need. My motto is “Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” Where’s a cop when you need one? Well, probably buried under an officer to issue ratio that looks like the U.S. debt. It is the same with the medical personnel in a crisis.

So why would I wait for them when I could get myself stable, and most likely lengthening my life by several months?

In an outbreak, natural disaster, or just plain catastrophe YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, “they” are not coming to get you right away. You are your best immediate hope. You will get you out of this because YOU prepared, and YOU knew this might happen. “They” are too busy rescuing as many as they can as quickly as they can. They’re trying to save hundreds or thousands; you’re worried about one person. You. Nothing wrong with that. For most of us, this is the only life we know, and for the most part we like it. By having a preparedness plan, bag, and mind set, you just took responsibility for your own life. You now have the power to get yourself out of most sticky situations almost unscratched by comparison to those less prepared, while the majorities blow up the phone lines with calls to 911 and frantic calls to Mrs. Cleo for psychic guidance out of a burning building. This entire article is about your choice not to rely on someone else, but be responsible for you and your survival. That’s why medical supplies are an essential. Having an extensive first aid kit is a very good start. We have no idea what form the Zombies will come in: viral, mega bacterial, parasitic, chemical weapon gone bad, who knows? So having the best medical kit you can have is a very good idea. In a survival situation, dying from normal infection is as common as dying from everything else. Being able to treat it quickly and effectively is essential. Remember the hero in the movies who gets stabbed, shot, and drug behind a car, then refuses medical attention? He’s a moron. He just became five times as big of a problem as if he would have come running for medical assistance. Infection, blood loss, and contusions all take resources and time to heal. The worse they are, the more resources they take. All wounds get worse with time when severe enough. Don’t be a stupid hero. Do the best you can with what you got, and then when you find someone who’s better let them fix you. If you can save the world single handedly, by all means do it, but it probably would have been easier if you had not lost your other hand to an infection.

A few tips for your medical kit.

What to fight:

  • Infection
  • Bacteria
  • Disease
  • Contamination
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation

Infection and bacteria die with alcohol, peroxide, or benzoin iodine.

Disease can be controlled with sanitation and proper living conditions. Keeping a mask, CBRNE or Surgical, can help. Keeping the latrine away from the kitchen and living quarters and washing your hands constantly helps also. Hand sanitizer rocks!

Covering wounds keeps contamination away, as well as staying sheltered. Depending on your conditions you may need to stay undercover or sheltered for a very long period of time. Keep this in mind.

Dehydration can be combated with clean water.

Constipation can be combated with fiber.

An additional item is a pen light: unobtrusive and very functional.

One seriously good idea is to go down to your local paramedics in their down time and ask them what’s the bare minimum you would need to treat “X”. Example: gunshot wound, broken leg (closed and compound fracture), amputation, etc. serious medical issues we may actually have to deal with. Show them your bag, then show them how much room you have for the items. You might get the rolled eyes, or the standard “Why do you want to know?” question. Because you want to be better prepared to treat yourself and your family when medical attention may be far off or not available. If you tell them you want to have a medical kit for the Zombie Apocalypse you know the answer you’ll likely get. Not everyone is as enlightened as you, so perhaps you can bring them around.

“My goal is 100,000 rounds per weapon. Or, if I could buy it, make it or find it, the infinite ammo bandana from Metal Gear.” Zom TAC, when asked: how much is enough ammo?

Why so much ammo?

If you were to take a snap shot of where most of us have to work for a living, therefore spend most of our time, then count how many people that are within a block radius. How many would there be? A thousand? Hopefully a lot less. But, tactically speaking, multiply that by two bullets each. Now all of those people are infected… Get the picture? You also have to deal with uninfected: people who are just like you, or are barbarians stealing and looting, or who have just gone postal. You have to be selective with your targets, but rule number two – the double tap – applies. Almost all the Zombies at this point will likely be fresh, so ammo type is a major consideration. We’ll go through types and reasoning for certain calibers later. Suffice to say a silenced .22 is essential for ammo volume and concealment. For those of you who don’t know, or buy into anti-gun rhetoric, silencers are not illegal. Nor do they make that “Pfft-zing” sound you hear in the movies. Silencers are VERY LEGAL in most states. Check yours. Then move to a gun friendly state. Something else that is hardly common knowledge is that you can make your own, FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY, as long as you fill out the tax paperwork (weird story) first, before construction. We will go into construction of that later as well.

Let’s start with ammo for our EFB. Simply put, have magazines. Ammo in the factory box in my bag means two things: 1. I just bought it and am transporting it back home to put it in my magazines. 2. All the magazines I own (that are not on rotation to avoid spring death) are full and present in my bag for my particular weapons. Those are the only two logical reasons to have a brick sitting in my bag.

A full combat load of ammo is really up to you. How much can you carry comfortably without sacrificing movement or firepower? My answer is: fourteen standard capacity AR-15 magazines, seven ten round magazines for a Sig P220, and three 15 round magazines for my P11, with a brick of fifty in my bag.

My total:

AR-15: 420 rounds .223/5.56 (we’ll get into that later too)

P220 (.45): 70 rounds

P11 (9mm):  22 rds loaded in mags 50 in a spare brick.

Grand Total: 864 rounds.

I’m a spinning death machine of strawberry jam producing goodness.

All of that weighs: ~19.5 lbs.

That weight does not include the bag, the rifle, or the pistols. That is ammo only. Think about it long and hard before you get carried away with packing your tactical hair drier. I am also considered to run very light ammo-wise for these types of operations.

Very briefly in conclusion let’s discuss how to carry your ammo. I recommend building your own tactical gear. You get a really good eye for how well something is made if you build it yourself. I’ve built a few chest rigs, and they are very easy to build. Check out www.diytactical.com for tutorials. Aside from that, keep it lightweight and maneuverable. Try it BEFORE you buy it. Look online at the return policy and make sure you can return the item if “it is not in its original packaging”. A lot of online places will ground slouch you with this crap. Try it on and load it up. If it does not work, fit, or feel comfortable, send it back and get something different. This is the voice of experience talking. Check the policies before you buy!

It’s like a man bra, or a bro, if you prefer.

To easily store the massive amount of ammunition you may require you’re going to need some kind of chest rig or vest. Easily the most lightweight and basic chest rig is the Blueforce 10 Speed. It does not get lighter than this. While I have not had personal experience with this item, I can tell by how it’s made and what materials are used that it will be both durable and extraordinarily lightweight. The price might be prohibitive for most of us, so other options are in order. Something that is an eighth the cost is the Voodo Chi Com chest rig from www.cheaperthandirt.com. It serves the same basic function but weighs more. If you prefer a MOLLE rig, such as I do.

Make your own.  The www.diytactical.com forums have a ton of information on how to build your own equipment. It starts out with the expense of buying a machine, but candidly you’re going to need one anyway. It pays for itself really quickly. You’ll also have additional skills. You’ll be able to see exactly how much you’ve been over paying for gear, what gear is good, and what is just crap. Think of everything you can make with your own sewing machine. The repair aspect alone is worth getting one. Make sure you do the research and try it out first! There is a primer on DIY Tactical.

I use a Tactical Tailor MAV clone I made myself for my EFB. Whatever you choose, consider what you’re doing, how you will be using it, and how the weight is distributed. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to get out and train with it. Actually put it on full, with your pack, and walk around and through the areas you maybe navigating in a crisis situation.

Your chest rig or vest for your EFB may or may not be your “Go to Work” rig. It may be a lighter more versatile system that allows for additions. A few good add-ons are: A helmet (even a bike helmet), knee and elbow pads, different types of gloves, and what I consider to be the most over looked pieces of equipment in any kit.: eye and ear protection.

Think of a scenario where you’re in a confined space without either eye or ear protection. You have to fire your weapon. If you’ve ever fired a weapon unprotected you realize that it’s extremely loud unsuppressed! Now you’re deaf and you have no idea if something is sneaking up behind you. Eye protection is critical because there will likely be dust and debris flying all over, as well as other threats to your sight. Being sighted, I like it and I take great care to stay that way.

The helmet may bear some explanation. While “ballistic” helmets were not designed to be bullet resistant, they were designed to save your head from other battlefield hazards like falling rocks, shrapnel and debris. The same idea goes for us. Get something on your dome. Bike helmets work just fine. You might look stupid, but guess what, the dead guy looks stupider. You can’t defend yourself if you’re unconscious, and you’re a liability to your group if you are. Reef surfing helmets made by Gath are a good way to go, as are rock climbing or skate boarding helmets. Just get one.

I’m Zom TAC and this has been more information to keep your ass alive.

Train, prepare, grow, hoard.

Glossary:

It’s come to our attention not everyone is familiar with military jargon. Or “Army talk” as my wife puts it. So here are some of the terms.

*Field:  “The field” is typically the area we military types go to train in. Most of the time it’s desolate wilderness with very few creature comforts, but sometimes we luck out and get a nice spot.

*Squad= 6-8 persons

* Company= 150-250 persons.