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Survival Without Firearms

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The current furor over the threat of a new round of restrictive firearms laws in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings has gotten me to think further about what kinds of weapons we might choose to protect ourselves.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to

Here we are talking about defensive modes of protecting ourselves against any uninvited menace that might befall us.  However, and intended only as a sidebar, consider also if we were to find ourselves without traditional defensive firearms, then some of these same weapons choices could also be as easily applied effectively in an offensive mode.  How does the government intend to protect us against these tools?

Which of these “weapons” could be used for self-protection, an AR-15, 1911 in 45ACP, a wheel gun revolver in .357 Magnum, a swing blade, combat knife, screwdriver, ball peen hammer, a pipe wrench, sledge hammer, machete, 12-gauge shotgun, an ax, a 30-06 deer rifle, a ball bat, length of log chain, or a Kaiser blade?

The Prepper Scenario

A common thread among the planning tactics for both Bug Out and Bug In preppers is the concept that we might eventually be confronted by rogue groups or a solo assault of “zombies”, common criminals, starving crowds of non-preppers, aggressive neighbors, or others just wishing to take from you what you have.

We tend to rely on a first front of defense using firearms.  There is no need for an in depth discussion of that here.  Our arsenal would likely include rifles, shotguns, and handguns.  Any types and all types in a wide range of suitable (or not) cartridges chambered for self-defense or property protection can expected to be found in stock.

A gross generalization of a tactical stance would be to use rifles for long(er) range defense or deterrent, shotguns with buckshot (not slugs) could be used for closer ranges, but perhaps not point blank, but maybe.  Handguns would most likely be relegated to close quarters work.

Hopefully what you choose to use works for you best because you are confident and skilled in the use of the weapons choices you have made.  If not, then get there as soon as it is feasible.

But in all of this keep in mind that despite the fact that you may have an ample supply of firearms and ammo available to defend or protect yourself, family, and escape hide out partners there are other alternative tools to consider.  Plus there may be times when a firearm is not the closest defensive tool within reach.

On the Cutting Edge

I am not a knife fighter or blade expert.  My plan is to be the one that brings a loaded 1911 Kimber to the knife fight, but being a realist I know that might not always happen.  Still I have a wide selection of blades, long and short, fixed blades, folders, meat cleaver types, pocketknives, fish filleting knives, and nearly everything else in between.  While most of my blades are not designed for defense, at some level any one of them could be pressed into service likely with varying results.

I do not harbor a desire for that kind of hands on self defense work.  But what if we get faced with a situation in which that is the first or only option?  Then some training is called for as well as keeping such tools within reasonable reach just in case.  Knives may not draw attention like a firearm, so it is reasonable to add these to your kit.

One of the characters on the program Doomsday Preppers believes one of the critical weapons to his theoretical “circle of seven” tools of self defense needs to include a samurai type sword or other similar long blade with a long handle or hand grip.  There are many such tools on the market made by outfits like Cold Steel, Gerber, and others.  Even hardware stores and farm supply outlets will have a variety of tools that are for brush cutting and other heavy duty cutting/hacking tasks.  Add these to the mix.

Blunt Force Instruments

As we work around the house or at a bug out escape location, we are highly likely to have a variety of impromptu weapons around.  We might think we’ll always have a firearm within reach, but maybe not.  If someone comes up on you in the workshop, garage, or storage shed, what might you grab to defend yourself?

Viewing another movie recently of the fictitious zombie genre’ I was taken by the choice of a sledgehammer as a tool of offensive and defensive self defense by one of the actors.  Understanding that depiction was “Hollywood” nevertheless it spirited my consideration of such heavy tools as a possible weapon of choice.  A ten pound hammer may not be a first choice, but it could an effective one at any rate.  A forward thrust to the throat or knee cap is likely to change the course of an aggressor.

Now I own a mega sledge and I would be the first to admit I would not want to tote that thing around all day.  At camp I strap it in the carry rack of the ATV.  At my age swinging a sledge about ten times is the equivalent of trying to do twenty pushups.  Good luck with that.  My point is to consider the defensive strategies with any tool you might buy for bug in home or bug out camp use.

Look in your garage on your pegboard wall or in your tool boxes.  See what items in there could be used as a last resort grab.  Perhaps all this sounds too elementary, but when is the last time you thought about taking a shovel off the wall to defend yourself?

Consider other tools as well.  What about a pipe wrench, a rake, heavy long shaft screwdriver, pry bar, broom, claw hammer, or any number of dozens of other implements found around the house.  At the very least consider thinking through the process.

Again, I don’t personally promote close quarters essentially hand-to-hand confrontations.  It’s only that whatever we are prepping for or planning for will likely not work out exactly as we had imagined.

Choosing and selecting weapons for our prepping strategies does not automatically imply the sole source of self-defense tools have to be firearms.  In reality and practice, I think we all intend to include that component, but there are many other options to have at the hand if needed.

Photos by:
Mr. Smashy
Dr. John J. Woods

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