Primary Arms

The Boogaloo By The Numbers

I don't have a Hawaiian shirt.

Three product reviews in a row. I can’t thank my friends and fans enough. I don’t publish often since I’m a fan of the long-form piece, and it does limit my marketability a bit, admittedly. With that in mind, it’s time for a little thought/rant piece…

The Boogaloo. The Big Luau. The Big Igloo. Cowabunga it is. Inna woods. Whatever you call it, a hopefully hypothetical second civil war on US domestic soil makes for some excellent meme fodder and seventh-tier shitposting. I’ve written on the subject before, but not from a casually-scientific order-of-battle-with-some-numbers perspective.

Disclaimer: I’m not advocating for violence. I believe those of us who are champions of individual rights can peacefully spread and promote the idea. Groupthink from individualists? No! Ha ha.

The Boogaloo Belligerents

The State Gone Bad

The balloon has gone up. The government has decided to throw off all pretenses at civility and kick off the “war on guns”. For the purposes of this long-winded piece, the motivation isn’t important. It could be a terror attack, enough voter fraud to ram through Robert Francis’ wet dream, Trump reverts to being a typical New York City resident, or a sham Constitutional Convention aka the Con-Con as author Matt Bracken would have it. 2A gets repealed or nullified, and there’s active partisan violence on US soil. The government (military, Feds, state, and local) brings to the table:

Manpower and Firepower

  • 1,379,804 active military personnel
  • 845,600 reserve military personnel


  • 132,000 armed federal agents (FBI, ATF, DEA, Department of Education SWAT haha etc)


  • 554,665 state police, local cops, etc.


I subtracted Feds from the number in the link since I can’t find a reliable count of just state and local cops.

Government manpower total 2,912,069

For argument’s sake let’s assume each one of these employees is equipped with a firearm of some sort. The US military offers very adequate training in marksmanship to it’s soldiers. I’ve read the document, it’s very useful and educational. However, most soldiers aren’t trigger pullers. By and large most of our troops are involved in logistics and support functions. Driving trucks, fixing things, etc. The Democrats love to point to Mayor Pete’s experience with guns. With all due respect, he was an accountant the government shipped overseas and gave him a rifle just in case the enemy got past the trigger-pressers.

So, out of around 2.1 million soldiers, only 483,000 are combat troops. This is what they call the “tooth-to-tail“ ratio. The “tooth” is your trigger-presser. Your infantry, your Marine, your Ranger, etc.

The “tail” is your logistical force. They usually aren’t combat troops.

The 132,000 Feds are all sworn agents authorized to carry a firearm of some sort in the performance of their duties. Most are your friendly Agent Scully types who just wear business attire and have a GLOCK and a spare mag or two on their belt next to their shield. Precious few are actually trigger pressers by trade, i.e. “tactical” types - SWAT, HRT, etc. The logistical train is a little different for Feds since typically they don’t operate far from home. They run their business from field offices which usually have their own armories and stashes of ammo.

The 554,665 state and local law enforcement personnel are, of course, all sworn officers authorized to carry firearms in the performance of their duties. Much like the Feds, most are your friendly neighborhood officer types. Still fewer are “tactical”. A cop wearing plates and a rifle isn’t necessarily SWAT these days. The Fed gifting program has a lot of departments tossing around the fun stuff just because. SWAT types will typically have something (I don’t know, like giant SWAT lettering on their van) to differentiate themselves. Training is, to be honest, all over the place. Some departments invest in their officers, and they can shoot. A sad amount don’t. A lot of cops only fire their weapons every six months or so for qualifications. The gun is just some other thing they have to worry about. It’s a cagey subject, but LE firearms training tends towards dismal - or just plain horrid.

These numbers are the raw data. They aren’t accounting for defections, the “blue flu”, and so forth that would invariably come about during a conflict on domestic soil.

Accurate counts of government-owned arms are hard to come by. The best estimate of firearms (in this case rifles, shotguns, and pistols - regardless of action) is 3.4 firearms per soldier.

So, about 10 million guns in the hands of the military, and a few billion rounds of ammo.

Let’s make the math easy and assume the same for Feds and state/local cops. That means 686,665 guns and a few billion rounds of ammo for the Feds and cops.

So the government has about 17 million guns, and billions of rounds of ammo.

The government has the ability to reactivate the draft via the Selective Service system. There’s around 17 million people who can be drafted as the law now stands. Noncompliance would be rampant, and the ranks might swell a bit, but it’d be mostly “fat” and not effective fighters. Maybe add a milllion if you must.

Of course, the government has force multipliers. Tanks, bombers, helicopters, drones, nukes, and so on. Those (well, hopefully not the nukes), will come into play. Those have their attendant vulnerabilities as well, which we will cover later.

The Good Guys

The right to keep and bear arms is inherent to us all. The Second Amendment acknowledges that and places restrictions on the government. Laws or no laws, we are a significantly armed populace.

Manpower And Firepower

There’s no aboveboard central registry of firearms and their current owners in the United States. 4473 forms at each licensed dealer of firearms in the country are a federated registry, at best. There’s the NFA, but that only tracks the cool toys that people take out to play sometimes. There’s some state registries but compliance with those is dismal and the data they do have is inaccurate. This is goverment we’re talking about, not free enterprise.

However on the industry side (manufacturers, importers, distributors) things are tracked to an extent. From that public info, we can glean a ton of useful info. The late, great Weaponsman maintained that there’s somewhere between 412 and 660 million privately-owned firearms in this country. The generally-agreed upon number of owners is 100 million. That’s 4-6 guns per owner, though we all know that isn’t true. Some people have one gun. Some people have a hundred. Those guns require feeding, and there’s untold hundreds of billions of rounds of ammo in the civilian inventory in the US.

Precise data on what the type breakdown of those arms are is harder to come by, but by and large we can assume the statistical majority of these weapons are mostly pistols, shotguns, and traditional hunting rifles. “Military style” firearms only became popular after the government tried to ban them, ironically enough. Prior to that, ARs and AKs were seen as niche weapons for collectors mainly. The number of course includes NFA items such as SBRs, SBSes, machine guns, destructive devices, and suppressors. Those firearms are counted and in a central database, but that database is notorious for inaccuracies.

As Weaponsman states, he doesn’t count 80% builds and clandestine manufacturing since by nature that isn’t public info. Guys making backyard slamfire guns aren’t telling the ATF, ha ha.

Worth noting in his article is that one manufacturer of 80% lowers copped to shipping 100,000 of them in 2015. Most probably lingered in drawers and boxes, but it’s trivial to produce a working firearm from those “blanks”.

However, the civilian inventory is quite diverse. Pistols, hunting rifles, ARs, AKs, pistol-caliber carbines, machine guns, and even things like Vulcan cannons, rocket launchers, and howitzers are in the hands of average citizens.
The unorganized militia is very well equipped.

And trained. Your average “gun nut” is probably better, at least at handling and shooting his weapon, than your average armed government employee.

The unorganized nature of the “good guys” makes an analysis of them necessarily brief. By law and by habit, most civilian gun owners don’t delve into specifics. It can be found out, but that’s large-scale data mining.

But, will the good guys prevail? Will the big luau be dominated and won by happy lunatics in Hawaiian shirts and plate carriers?

It’s a hard guess. We’ll delve deep into the pros and cons of each side next.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The raw numbers are just that, raw numbers. They don’t take into account crazy things like emotions, motivations, and the reality of the world. 2.9 million government employees with guns are just standing in a room if I just left it at that. 100 million American gun gun owners are just some people in a field if I just leave it there.

Each side has it’s pros and cons.

The Government


Dot Gov has a lot going for it. Organization, training (or at least the opportunity), force multipliers, and a near-monopoly on the application of near-consequence-free deadly force, the State shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt. We’ll break it down in spiffy random order.

  • Organization. Even on a bad day, the government can at least get marching orders out to it’s people over common channels or dedicated networks. The military has their defense communication systems (satellite, secure radios, etc) such as DSN, the Feds have their own links, and both Fed and state/local authorities have networks such as the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS). Newer assets such as the Homeland Security fusion centers exist as well. If the balloon goes up, the government gunslingers will all know about it within hours, or less.

  • Intelligence. Yes, there’s been colossal blunders by our nation’s spooks and spymasters, but overall they tend to know things. Portents of resistance to authority are usually known about. As Varys in Game of Thrones said (after Tyrion said eight people knew about a major plot point) - “Well, then it’s not a secret anymore. It’s information.” Human intelligence and electronic surveillance are very powerful tools, tools that the government has in abundance. Encrypt all you want, but information wants to be free. It’ll probably get out.

  • Force multipliers. The government has the tools to harm and kill en masse with little danger to itself. A tank crew can kill hundreds and only have to worry about washing the blood off the fenders. A helicopter gunship can plink with imputiny from miles away. A drone can zap a scofflaw in minutes. And yeah, a nuke pretty much ends it all, fast. Even the mere presence of a tank can sober up even the most crazed “insurgent”.

  • Little to no consequences for breaking the law. The government writes the laws. They can break them if they want to. Once in awhile they’ll hang one of their own out to dry just to keep up appearances, and usually only when we the people call them out on it. However, the government can commit violence on a citizen, and get away with it. Having that card to play makes their job easier. It’s called sovereign immunity.

  • Social conditioning of the people. Face it, we’re conditioned to respect authority. I suppose in some cases it’s useful. We tend to do what the government says. A police officer asks for ID, we present it. It’s a mundane thing, but it’s according respect to an authority figure. Unfortunately we tend to extend respect to those who don’t necessarily require it, such as bureaucrats and politicians. It makes their schemes easier, sadly.

  • “Making examples”. We the people outnumber the government, by a huge majority. The government knows this. Yes, they can’t get everyone, but they can get some. They might not get you, or they might. You may just keep things to a dull roar as to not attract attention. Fear, basically. They get someone, broadcast it far and wide, and most people hide.

  • “Benefits”. In a hypothetical future civil conflict, the government can offer massive benefits to loyal workers and parties. A bureaucrat who sticks around after the excrement hits the air movement device will get ready access to food, power, funds, and protection. If you got a family, a steady paycheck might keep you at your desk in City Hall or buttoned up in your APC chasing down those dang Constitutionalists. Junior doesn’t understand the boogaloo, he just wants his mac ‘n cheese. You might not be a gunslinging type, but you’ll get to live behind those types and have a modicum of safety. Emotions sometimes transcend politics. If you’re a corporate entity, giving the government preferential access to your output reaps similar benefits. Your canned beans factory gets a police detail since you’re feeding the police. Your TV station doesn’t get yanked from the air since you turn the content into Pravda-worthy propaganda. Your ISP doesn’t get shut down since you actively report suspicious data transfers. Snitch lines for subversive activity will be set up, with the usual motivators of rewards. There’ll be a “gun stop” tip line so your progressive acquaintance can feel good about himself. Food, safety, and money, or even the illusion of, are powerful motivators. The government is a master of that illusion.


The government’s advantages can give one pause. They can communicate, fight, and motivate with little regard for any negative consequences. Your house can get blown up by a stray drone strike and the government will just keep going. Or will it? The Man has plenty of problems of his own.

  • Bureaucratic inertia. The word comes down from on high. There’s a big igloo afoot. Cowabunga it is. It’s probably not gonna be a sudden tooling up of troops, cops, and Feds over the course of day. The order hits, the people on the ground have to read it, crap has to get dragged out of warehouses, factories have to spin up, pens have to be ordered from Amazon, people have to muster, and so on. It’ll take time.

  • There’s only so many trigger-pullers. Again, the tooth-to-tail ratio is pretty astounding. 483,000 combat troops in the military. Most Feds are just clerks they issued a gun to. A lot of cops just regard the gun as another gadget on their belt. Spread that out over a large landmass where 330 million or more people live. Good luck with that. Entire regions will break away and fortify before the first units armed with anything more than a long gun get there.

  • The government is staffed with humans. Humans have morals and can see beyond money and the illusion of safety. While your average bureaucrat might just push paper and collect a check, he or she may just do their own undercover warfare. Requisition forms get lost, people call in sick, the keys to the armory get lost, the door to the telecom room suddenly has glue in the lock. Shit happens. Monkeywrenching is a thing.

  • The rumors are true. Trigger pullers tend to be conservative-to-constitutionalist. They’ll remember their oath. Very few who press a trigger for a living and are good at it will do it for someone like Robert Francis O’Rourke or Willie Brown’s girlfriend. My low-ball estimate is that 40 percent of the government gunslingers will defect. Another sizable fraction will just sit on their butts or engage in subversive stuff and feed data to the boogity boys.

  • Organization breeds habits. That logistical train takes the same route. That bureaucrat goes to work via the same roads. That politician goes to lunch at 1:30 every day. Exploitable weaknesses, even if they know about them. It’s not exceedingly difficult to figure out ways to exploit these patterns. When the guys guarding the tail are untrained, it becomes elementary to wreak havoc. You don’t have to blow up a tank, you just have to cut off it’s supplies, or make sure the drivers can’t drive the thing. That helicopter pilot has a home and a family. Hey, I didn’t say it would be pretty.

  • Accruing benefits make you a target. If you’re the sort to take the government’s silver, you’ll be a target in this future hypothetical. Whether you’re a politician, soldier, worker bee, or just a neighborhood snitch, your well-fed and clean appearance will indicate your “activities” to an extent. And especially if the balloon goes up, the government cannot protect you 24/7. The guy in the luau outfit isn’t going to a Tom Selleck tribute event.

The Cowabunga It Is Crew


Our lovable scamps and their motley assortment of toys may not look like much, but they’ve got it where it counts. There’s a certain sense of community and spirit to being part of the putative rebellion, and to paraphrase Steve Jobs, it’s way more fun to be a pirate. Outside of some sociopaths, no one gets a thrill working for the bureaucracy.

  • Invisibility. In our hypothetical, it’s the people versus the government. The government is big on clan identifiers. Police and soldiers wear uniforms, and all their gear is usually labeled similarly. Your boogaloo boy wears jeans and a T-shirt and drives a Toyota. Just like everyone else. Yes, there’s some “tactical” looking dudes out there, but in most cases, even clothing/vehicles of that nature are nothing remarkable. A guy in khakis driving an F150 isn’t terribly uncommon. It’s hard to combat someone when they aren’t being obvious about it. By day he’s digging ditches. By night, it’s the luau.

  • Training. There’s a lot more regular people who are really into guns than skilled government gunslingers. Like they’re really into guns. They train often, and take care of their gear. And I’m not just talking about the people you see on Youtube with all the cool toys. Every year, millions of hunters take to the field to stalk their game. Even basic hunting requires a certain level of skill and commitment. It’s not something you dabble in. In our scenario, those hunters are now snipers. They take four-legged game that runs at 30+ MPH at 500 yards. Two-legged game poking along at 8 MPH and making a racket shouldn’t be a challenge. Nevermind that a lot of gun guys and girls are veterans. Stacked up against less than half-a-million people who press a trigger for a living - the odds look good.

  • Unorganized. In this situation, disorganization works in the favor of the good guys. In a conventional war, the combatants try to cut the head off the snake. Eliminate headquarters and generals, and the whole plan goes to hell. But, if there’s no HQ and no plan aside from “Fuck the government!”, it’s a lot harder to quash the opposing force. There’ll be instances of groups of a few hundred getting their act together and making coherent moves, but even if they are eliminated, there’s millions of more “cells” moving around and picking their targets at their convenience. The boogity boys from Jackson, their raid on the UN compound in Vicksburg might fall flat, but the one guy with the budget AR10 and Primary Arms scope minding his own business all that time might just splatter the blue helmet boss on his way to work in the morning. It’s the unorganized militia at it’s best. Broad goals, the details are left up to the individual.

  • Real grassroots support, at first. The people are going to support the people, and not a government-gone-bad. Hell, even on a good day we hate the government. The people who write parking tickets and hold up commerce with stacks of permits and forms aren’t gonna have many fans during the big igloo. They’re gonna support their friendly neighborhood freedom fighters. The IRA exploited this. The IRA came from the people, and not the government. They had common ground with their neighbors, even if their methodologies were of variable morality.

  • Defections from the government. The government draws it’s manpower from the people. These people have their own motives and goals. Shooting their fellow citizens over some nonsensical laws doesn’t rank high on their things to do, especially amongst the people who actually press triggers for a living. Out of the 483,000 combat troops, only a small percentage identify (find a citation!) as progressive and “big government”. Most lean conservative-to-constitutionalist. These people will take whatever fun toys they can, and leave. Factor in that special operations troops are trained to actually foster rebellions and unconventional forces, and the government has a problem on it’s hands.


Don’t fool yourself, it’s not gonna be a glorious rout of big government and it’s priests and acolytes by a bunch of guys in luau attire and night-vision equipment. The good guys have disadvantges, as well.

  • Resources. Spirit accounts for a lot. That gung-ho fuck-the-man attitude will go a long way. However, supplies, unless one has been stockpiling for awhile, will become hard to find in short order. 2000 rounds of 5.56 goes awfully fast in a protracted engagement. A few mags of 9mm isn’t gonna last more than a day if things get really heated. Guns themselves are durable goods, but can break. If things go sideways, a BCG for an AR might be hard to find. Nevermind things like food, medicine and water. Again, if you aren’t stockpiling, it may be hard to come by. Your big dance might only last a week.

  • Unorganized. While disorganization can be a benefit, like we said above, it can be a disadvantage as well. Hard targets are harder to crack without a group effort. The lone wolf might get lucky and crack it. But probably not. Also, there won’t be a true unified mission. Groups will form with their own interests and goals. The devil is in the details. Groups and people will be united in fighting the government, but their end goals will be different. Group A might want to establish a loose confederation of states along libertarian lines. Group B might want to break off the Southwest into Aztlan or something (link to matt). Group D might want a white ethnostate. Group E might be communist. And so on. Alliances will be shaky.

  • Waning grassroots support. It’s easy to support the boogaloo boys when the lights are on, the A/C is running, and the internet mostly works. It’s a different story when you’re in the Breakaway Republic of Hoppe and Washington cuts the power lines and bombs the hospital. You’ll be cold (or hot) and sick, and desperate. Desperate enough to take the government’s nickel and all the strings attached. A population may just betray their local band of fighters in exchange for electricity. Sunshine patriots versus winter soldiers, as it were.

  • Snitches. With services disrupted, it’ll be difficult to check into participants in the big ice dome. Someone willing to help could very well be an agent of the enemy or another faction. The man bearing fun gifts might just be from Washington.

  • Intelligence. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and human intelligence can be leveraged, but it’s a very improvisational affair, and it’s hard for it to compete with organized government-level intelligence. Bad info might be rampant. That juicy convoy leaving Fort Swalwell might just be a trap.

  • The media. The mass media is never on the side of rugged individualists. The media depends on mass hysteria and groupthink. CNN will call a bunch of guys fighting for their rights “domestic terrorists”. MSNBC will call a band of black 2A supporters “white nationalists”. The amount of propaganda will be ridiculous, and a lot of people will fall for it.

Outside Factors

For all sides, outside factors would come into play. Our nation’s enemies would see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation of a United States in turmoil - and they could be very well aided and abetted by the enemy within.

  • Foreign troops en masse on US soil. In his Enemies Foreign and Domestic series, author Matt Bracken postulates that during a civil conflict, the military would most likely be rife with defections and sabotage. And he’d be correct. As we noted above, the military isn’t rife with “progressive” types. So, a belegaured government remnant would have to call on support from outsiders, nations all too willing to have forces on our soil in exchange for money and resources. It could even be the blue helmets.

  • Emboldened cartels. For lack of a better term, the cartels in Mexico and South America would also see an opportunity in a United States shaken by internal conflict. In addition to drugs, they would gladly turn to ferrying weapons to any party willing to pay for them. Those guns Eric Holder sent south a few years back would be coming back home. You would also see domestic affiliates of said cartels making serious moves and stepping up their level of violence as well. Already-fighting factions may just co-opt gang members out of necessity and expediency.

The Aftermath

Whatever you want to call it, the big luau won’t result in these 50 United States still unified under a banner of the Constitution. The end result will most likely be a balkanized region, again as depicted by Matt Bracken and Kurt Schilicter. The redrawn borders would most likely see the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as it’s own bloc, the South will be distinct once again, having absorbed most of Florida as well. Texas could very well be independent. The Midwest and eastern Rockies could be another bloc. The West Coast would be an oblast of China. And so on. There’d be no clear end to the conflict, with spats and flare-ups for decades, reminiscent of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It wouldn’t necessarily be pretty, even if you were fortunate enough to live in a free area. It’s not something I’d welcome.

Can It Be Stopped?

Can the boogaloo be stopped with an outcome favorable to us? I still think so. Regardless of party affiliation, we need to vote out any politician who is against individual rights and freedoms. They are employed at our pleasure. Vote them out. Ridicule them at every turn. Make the mere mention of their names cause for laughter and derision. This isn’t just about guns, it’s about freedom as a whole. People who are against free speech, people who support gun control, people who support mass surveillance and big government - those people are not American citizens. They aren’t worthy of the title. Your anti-gun neighbor is just some strange foreign national who hasn’t had the decency to leave yet.

Barring that, we have the courts. Hopefully President Trump’s low-key clearing out of the federal courts will bear fruit. Here in Florida, Governor DeSantis has done the same.

The final “box”, as they say, is the ammo box. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point.

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