Primary Arms

Survival And Security Means More Than Just Guns

There's more to it than guns...

You managed to pick up a gun. You got some ammo to feed it. You’ve got the requisite accessories. Hopefully you managed to train with it. You’re ready for the coronavirus hordes and an ensuing boogaloo. Until dinnertime at least…

Let’s be honest, buying guns, ammo, and related accessories is fun. Everyone wants a grey room full of ballistically-oriented goodness. It’s a worthwhile goal and one we should all strive for. Our collections should make small nations envious. But if you are hungry, ill, or injured - it’s kind of hard to take care of all your toys. You’re gonna need food, water, medical supplies, and other miscellaneous items. Yes - you gotta prep.

Self-Reliance Is The Whole Enchilada

You have to defend what’s yours. Don’t let your supplies become their supplies. You’ll have to stock up on those supplies though. The basics, really. Food, some source of clean water, clothes, medical supplies, backup communications, power, and ancillary things like hygienic items and even entertainiment goods. Yes, even psychological health is important. Let’s run through the list.



In terms of food, assume the worst. The trucks aren’t rolling, and you aren’t in a position to take up farming. Time to stock up. But you have to be careful on precisely what you stock up with. Canned food is a good start, but check your expiration dates. Beans generally don’t go bad quickly, and have a shelf life of a few years. Dried beans in a bag or sack will last even longer. Rice is a staple food for most of the world, and for good reason - it “keeps” for many years.

Meat is tricky. Canned meat “counts” towards your recommended daily intake of around 5 ounces of lean meat per day, but again, it can spoil quickly. Fortunately you can get your protein intake from beans, which tend to stay fresh for awhile.

Fruits and veggies are a must - with care, you can even grow small quantities in an urban environment. Get a planter. On a more practical level, snag things like carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.

Other good choices are cereals, oatmeal, and things like honey and flour. You’ll have to get back to learning how to make things from scratch again. Whole grains and oats keep for the longest.

Salt is critical both for nutrition and other uses like storage.

Also, learn to hunt, even if you are in a urban area. The wilderness might not actually be that far away. You may also be on the move.

Food storage is critical. Make sure your food storage area is a cool and dry place. For raw meat you’ll need a decent freezer, or if the power is out, learn how to dry and preserve it. Picking up the art of canning could be useful.

MREs and other “survival” foods are great but aren’t designed for long-term consumption. The idea is to keep you going until you get to a proper food source.

As for amounts, your mileage may vary. A good yardstick is that a 50 pound bag of beans should last 1 person about 3-4 months.

You’ll also want to figure out how to cook without power or ready access to propane or propane accessories.

TL:DR - Get Food That Is Nutritious And Won’t Spoil

Clean Water

If it really came down to it, you could go weeks without food. Gandhi survived 21 days without eating. Water is another story. No water for a week, and you’re toast. You’ll need clean drinkable water, not only for yourself but for food preparation and other things.

In terms of pure drinking water, there’s a lot of solutions out there from survival straws, purification tablets, and even portable desalinators. However you do it, you need clean water.

The general metric is one gallon of water per day per person. You’ll have to procure or produce it somehow. One solution that I’ve seen is to hook up an RV water filter to a hose, then filling up a convenient container. Don’t forget your utility key!

TL:DR - You Need Clean Water


Yes - clothing. Whatever you are wearing right now probably won’t last long, even in good times. You’ll need something a little more sturdy like decent pairs of work pants, shirts, socks (yes, socks), hats, and solid footwear.

There’s numerous “tactical” manufacturers out there, such as 5.11, Tru-Spec, Propper, and so forth. However, if you don’t feel like looking like an off-duty cop, simple job-site and work clothes will do. Think Dickies, and so on. All these types will have numerous pockets to store things in, and robust construction.

A little trick I learned from reading Paul Markel’s book, “Patriot Fire Team” is to stow a fresh t-shirt or two in a plastic Ziploc, toss it in your go-bag, and forget about it. Having a fresh shirt in a moment of crisis is amazing.

Boots? Yes - you’ll need a sturdy pair. They should be reinforced somehow and from a reputable manufacturer. I’ve traveled the world with a pair of 5.11 boots, and they haven’t failed me yet. Think steel-toed work boots, and the like.

Socks. No, the ones you have on aren’t good enough. Believe it or not, there’s dedicated “boot socks” which will set you back at least $20 a pack. That’s from Paul, not me.

Also remember things like gloves, a cap, sunglasses, and even little items like a bandana or shemagh.

TL:DR - Get Sturdy Clothing

Personal Protective Equipment

While for the current situation, good hygiene and an N95 mask will suffice for keeping the virus at bay in crowded situations, you’ll want to have a stash of quality personal protective equipment in case aggrieved parties start popping off crowd control agents, that sort of thing. Yes, you’ll want to invest in a decent gas mask. The ones on the military surplus websites are usually junk and only suitable for display, to be honest. If you’re going to go the surplus route, keep your eye out for Israeli M15 gas masks, which if in good shape, are generally reliable and safe.

Other options include current Czech-built models such as the ones offered by MIRA Safety. Yes, a gas mask is an investment. Filters are key, you’ll want to make sure the filters are current and not too old. Anything older than 5 years should be viewed as suspect.

In a pinch, a 3M 6000-series respirator and P100-rated filters will get you out of a bind when paired with sealed goggles like you would see in a lab environment.

TL:DR - Get A Gas Mask


Regardless of the crisis, you might get hurt or sick. You’ll need a stash of decent first-aid items and medicines. You’ll also need to know how to use them. Books, classes, and manuals on first-aid are invaluable. If you have prescription medications, see about getting extra from your doctor. If not, look for over-the-counter alternatives, while not as potent, might be good for an emergency. Plan at least for a few months of disruptions since here in the US, we’ve stupidly outsourced most of our pharmaceutical capacity to enemy nations.

Get things like bandages and basic OTC medications for headaches, colds, and so forth. You do have a tourniquet, right?

Also it’s sensible to acquire bona-fide medical equipment if possible. Shears, scalpels, syringes, and the like. Warning, a lot of this equipment is regulated by law, and acquiring it outside of industry channels could be illegal.

You’ll also want more mundane things like vitamins - liquid ones are the most effective actually. Way more potency than pills.

TL:DR - Set Your Self Up For Medical

Backup Communications

In times of crisis, the internet can slow down, and often your access could be throttled or curtailed entirely. ISPs blinker offline, cell towers get overloaded. You’ll need backup communications. The easiest method is to go old-school and use a VHF/UHF radio, aka a ham radio. That’s a whole book in and of itself in terms of knowledge, since to make proper use of it, you need to study and be licensed to legally operate on certain frequencies. However, certain frequencies, the FRS bands, are “open” for unlicensed use. And in a real emergency, the FCC won’t be policing the licensed frequencies.

A worthwhile purchase, ironically enough, are the cheap Baofeng radios from China, specifically the BF-F8HP and BF-F9V2+. Now grant it, these are cheap Chinese radios, but they’ll do the job in an emergency. As you get more proficient with backup communications, you’ll graduate to more robust offerings from Japan and here in the US.

Non-radio communications become important in times of crisis as well. As Paul Markel teaches in Patriot Fire Team, you and your team/family will need to learn and develop a system of hand/light signals. Smoke will become your friend as well. Emergency smoke generators are commonly available from marine supply outlets and Amazon. Did I mention reading Patriot Fire Team yet? If not - go read it.

You’ll also want to learn how to operate on common communications channels, but quietly. If the internet is still functioning in a time of crisis, it can still be used. Learn Tor and other encryption strategies. In chatrooms, assume someone is a plant for an opposing force. Learn the ways of meme magic. In times of crisis, spiritual health is importand and humor is a great uplifter. I’m serious!

TL:DR - Don’t Rely On The Usual Communication Methods


Face it, the power could go out, either by executive fiat, sabotage, or neglect during a crisis. You have to be squared away for backup power.

The most obvious backup power source is a generator. Generators come in all shapes and sizes, and all varieties of fuel source. Gasoline, diesel, propane, and more. The cheap generators are easy finds, even in times of crisis. The problem with the cheap generators is that they run at 100% all the time, which wastes fuel and makes a ton of noise. For example, you acquire a 3000 watt generator, and only use it to power an 800 watt stove. The cheap generator runs at 3000 watts the whole time it’s on, when you only need 800 watts. What you want to look for is a generator with an inverter. This type of generator contains a controller which only outputs the power required, saving fuel and generally running quieter. In a crisis situation where the power is out, generator noise becomes a problem - opposing parties are drawn to the noise like flies, because you have power and they don’t.

Other options include solar, battery, and wind power.

Solar solutions a few hundred watts of power are generally cost-effective. However, some knowledge is required to put the kits together. The kits generally consist of the panel itself, the controlller, a battery for when it’s dark/cloudy, and an inverter so you can plug conventional items into the system.

Wind solutions are along the same lines as solar - you aren’t going to run a household off of it unless you invest significant sums of money. However, the concept is the same - a wind turbine provides power to a controller/inverter setup with a supplemental battery for when the wind isn’t blowing as much as normal.

Collecting standby batteries should be on your list as well. From the little Anker power banks up to server-sized UPS systems, it’s a must-have. A large battery system can power small electronics for days at a time. It might keep a file server that draws 2000 watts alive for an hour, but a laptop drawing 45 watts will stay alive for days at a time. A little radio can be kept going for even longer.

Backup power is a must.

TL:DR - Get Backup Power Solutions


For health and mental reasons, staying clean is important during a crisis. Let’s be honest, you just feel better when you are clean. So yes, stock up on all the soaps and care products you can lay your hands on. The ideal solutions are the tried-and-true things like bar soap, stick deodorant, and so forth. Also something most people don’t think about is dental health. Outside of civilization, people die from tooth problems, let’s put it that way. So yeah, stock up on toothpaste. Even a toothache can sideline you at the worst time.
This is also where camping/solar showers come in handy. Even if you’re hunkering down at home, the water may be off, and you’ll need a “Plan B” for showering.

TL:DR - Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness


In a prolonged crisis, there’ll be some downtime. For your own sanity, you’ll have to disengage. Someone else can take watch while you sleep and read. Let’s just assume the power has gone out. You’ll have to buy some books, and maybe things like playing cards. You’ll also want to maybe relearn the fine art of conversation. Also take the opportunity to go over your supplies and firearms.
And yes - sleep.

TL:DR - Enterain Yourself Without Electricity

A Crisis Reminds Us How Fragile Civilization Is

The simple fact is that most advanced societies are a week or so away from complete chaos even in a good time. If basic services are cut or simply not there, it goes downhill real fast. Even a gradual decline into chaos is dangerous. Stock up, learn, train, and develop your local network of like-minded friends. It’s easier if you don’t have to go it alone.

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