The time shall soon be upon Western civilization that will transform the lives of all within – a time of destruction unlike anything it has seen before, for it shall be one in which the very lifeblood of the agro-industrial economy will run dry. The event capable of bringing an entire culture to its knees is none other than peak oil: for all facets of the American empire (which is, for all practical intents and purposes, reigns over the so-called “free world”) are derived from this ancient black liquid – energy, plastics, fertilizers, lubricants, solvents and many, many more common items we tend to take for granted; once the planet hits this mark, oil production will drop like a stone and take the economy we rely upon with it!
Needless to say, the sudden economic turmoil caused by all this will result in all manner of civil unrest – long story short, the stress upon the United States will be so great that it won’t be able to continue in its present form. The chaos will leave this nation forever changed into either a fascist police state or into the Balkans writ large: many lives will be destroyed in the fray and I don’t have any reason to believe that this can be avoided – this essay is written as a guide to surviving the coming storm, not preventing it. Make no mistake here, those that don’t have the ability or the willpower required to prepare themselves for this will most likely not make it through this event and I thus write them off as dead from the start.
Now that my intentions are clearly stated, the instruction can begin…
Priority #1: Habitat
Your first concern in preparing for the end of society as you know it lies in acquiring a safe haven from entities such as repressive police states and hostile militant groups – needless to say, the last place you want for your hideout will be right in the center of an urban population center (where such forces will likely be strongest).
Ideally, you want your haven to be smack dab in the middle of nowhere – far away from large population centers. However, such places are so remote that most people accustomed to city life would have serious trouble adapting to the new environment due to the lack of such things as running water or electricity: for those who seek to have at least some of those comforts whilst hiding from forces of oppression, I would say that a mobile home (great for making sudden getaways, but provides minimal protection) or a small dwelling (preferably one with an underground level and plenty of nooks and crannies to conceal valuable tools for survival) in a town of less than 5,000 people would provide an adequate level of isolation from the frenzy taking place in the city – of course, one would have to lie lower in this environment than he would need to in the back country (as there are still a significant number of neighbors to observe you there).
Wherever you eventually decide to settle and wait out the storm, the first order of business will involve a survey of the land – know the physical and cultural geography as well as you possibly can, for you never know when you might need to hide a supply cache or make a hasty getaway from your would-be repressors. Be on the lookout for areas that can easily conceal people or items, yet provide at least some protection from the elements (think caves, cellars, old animal boroughs, etc…) in the event of an emergency: also look out for hidden paths and trails as well as potential choke points that an adversary will be forced to take in an attempt to pursue you and your own (either to slow them down or trap them for a counter-offensive). But most of all know your neighbors – find out as much as possible about them through any means available to you so that you might ascertain whether they are likely to be your allies or collaborators against you (more on this later…).
Priority #2: Provision
Once you have your habitat scoped out, you need to ensure that you have the means to acquire the essentials for living in a world gone mad: food, water, survival gear, ammunition and miscellaneous parts and supplies to maintain complex equipment. To this end, it’s good to be self-sufficient in as many ways as possible and get connected to trade partners who can acquire what you can’t.
As far as food is concerned, it might be wise to have some wilderness survival training under your belt – you may want to learn the basics of hunting and foraging for the various game animals and edible plants in your area: it might not provide a feast, but such skills will certainly keep you from starving to death in the event that your regular food sources are cut off. Unfortunately, I can tell you little more than to be familiar with what’s in your area (as game animals and edible plants vary from region to region – as do effective hunting practices for said animals) – you will have to do your own research on this subject to prepare yourself for wilderness survival.
Water, on the other hand, is a more universal subject – the hardest part is finding a steady source of the life-giving liquid. Once you have located and secured the site of your water source, you will have to purify that water before it can be safely consumed: there are many ways of doing this (ranging from simple boiling to chemical tabs to filtration), but the best way to ensure that your water is free from the most deadly impurities (especially if said water comes from a polluted source – such as down river from a factory) would be to run it through a distillation process (which involves little mote than two containers connected by a tube – water evaporates from one container and passes through the tube to the other, leaving many impurities behind in the process) and then run the liquid through a filter (often a simple cloth will suffice, but if you can afford them run it through gravity filter bags). While other methods reduce certain risks you take in consuming drinking water, this method is the most thorough and is guaranteed to clean even filthy water containing industrial run-off.
Which brings us to survival gear, ammo and miscellaneous supplies – in the event that police state rises or society breaks down such things will be difficult to acquire. Personally, I suggest building a large stockpile of essentials right now (compass, combat knife [civilian knives are too fragile for prolonged exposure to the elements], sleeping gear, fire-starters, over 500 rounds of ammunition per firearm you possess, essential parts for said firearms, etc…) and keeping them readily accessible in the event that you need to leave for your previously scouted area (see priority #1 above) in a hurry. If for any reason you should fail to stock up on these supplies before the impending storm, be sure to know people in your area that do have them and might be willing to trade with you: expect to barter for your goods because a social meltdown may render all currency produced by the old order useless.
Priority #3: Weapons
Even if you’re not the violent type (note: I’m not a violent person either – I prefer a nice, reasonable discussion to brute force), you will eventually be faced with a situation in which you *will* have to fight for your life against an oppressive power like a police state. You will *need* arms to defend yourself from these powers or else live at their mercy: this is the most essential portion of this guide regarding personal safety in a war zone, so I will go into as much detail as I can here.
First-off, you don’t want a police state to know that you own such weapons – so don’t register them upon acquisition. In many states, you can do this “legally” via person-to-person private sales (A.K.A. the “gun show loophole”) in which you can purchase a weapon without any paperwork whatsoever. There are also other ways to acquire unregistered weapons, but those are not exactly “legal” so I hesitate to mention them here on this site: all I will tell you is that if you know the right people, you can find those willing to engage in such sales – whether you do this or not is entirely up to you (don’t worry, I’ll look the other way…).
There are three basic categories of firearms out there: shotguns, rifles and handguns – of course, there are a of other classifications of “in-between” weapons and hybrid arms (pistol carbines, submachine guns, shotgun/rifle combinations, etc…), but the majority of firearms most people deal with fall into one of the three categories mentioned above. Thus you need to be acquainted with the basic capabilities and limitations of these three weapon types…
Shotguns: the most versatile weapon of those mentioned, capable of doing most any task at close-to-medium range (point blank to about 100 yards) – from hunting small game (using various forms of birdshot – ranging in size from 12 shot to T-shot) to big game hunting and personal defense (using buckshot, ranging from 4BK to 000BK, or slugs). Although there are many variants of the shotgun out there, I would recommend a 12-guage pump-action weapon (such as a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870) or a very reliable and high-capacity semi-auto shotgun (such as a Saiga-12 – a mil-spec semi-auto shotgun based on the AK platform).
If you opt for the pump-action, be sure to carry plenty of ammo on a belt – as such guns only allow 5-8 rounds to be loaded at once, you will need to reload often in a firefight. If you opt for the mil-spec semi-auto, know that the reinforcement of the firing pin makes it capable of handling high-power ammo (such as buckshot and slugs) for long periods of time without much risk of failure, but also that it can’t auto-reload when using birdshot. This may very well be the most important firearm that you own so choose yours carefully: your life just might depend on it.
Rifles: I would not recommend beating around the bush with this weapon – get yourself a reliable mil-spec assault rifle (such as an AK47 or M-4 carbine – you may need to modify it for select-fire to achieve mil-spec status) ASAP if you intend to go for extended periods in the wilderness: other weapons will suffice as purely hunting rifles, but will be of little value if you find yourself confronted by soldiers of the enemy at medium-to-long range (200-300 yards) – you want to have at least comparable firepower to theirs in the event of a conflict.
You can hypothetically hunt with your mil-spec rifle, but it’s purpose is primarily combat – if you must hunt with a firearm, use your shotgun with appropriate ammunition load instead of using up your supply of assault rife ammo. If you’re the kind that desires to take a more offensive role, you may wish to invest in a longer-range rifle (like a .308 or 30-06 sniper rifle for ranges beyond 300 yards) but the assault rifle should do for those just looking to get through the chaos of life after social order fails.
Handguns: your “last line of defense” before resorting to melee combat, this weapon should be reliable, have descent stopping power and have ammunition that’s fairly common. Because of these constraints, I would recommend nothing shy of a 9mm for a semi-auto pistol (although I prefer .40 and .45 cal semi-auto handguns) or a .38 for revolvers (although I prefer .357 magnums or .45 LC revolvers). All ammo types mentioned are fairly common yet pack a punch that even armored opponents would find to be significant at close range (under 10 yards) – but keep in mind that this is your weapon of last resort (unless you want to go into melee combat with your opponent, that is…), so don’t attempt any difficult, long-range shots with them in a survival situation.
Regardless of what weapon set you select, be certain that you have the ability to perform basic maintenance on them – learn how to field strip, clean and oil your weapons as well as replace essential parts in the event that they break down. Below this article are a few videos of some of the weapons I previously mentioned being field stripped to give you an idea of what you are doing when you try it yourself.
Once you have your terrain scouted, supplies secured and weapons prepared for action there’s only one issue left to tend to…
Priority #4: Local Relations
If you did your job well in handling your first priority (habitat), you should know what your neighbors are like: their ideologies, activities, disposition towards new arrivals and their relations with each other. Sooner or later, regardless of your supply stocks or fighting abilities, you’re going to have to trade with the locals for essentials or bargain with them for protection.
When first approaching a local, do so with a mixture of caution and goodwill – you want to shift his disposition so that he might view you favorably enough to conduct business (such as trading supplies, arranging use of lands he controls or recruiting him into a local militia force). Towards this end, it’s best to focus on as many commonalities you might share with him (ideological similarities, a common foe, quid pro quo trade agreements, etc…) in hope that you might convince him to aid your own cause. If you play your cards right, you will find yourself with a new connection for supplies, territory, intelligence or common defense in your chosen habitat.
However, should negotiations turn sour, be prepared to either run or fight depending upon the situation – not every local you meet can be persuaded to aid you and some might turn hostile due to factors you may not have foreseen going into negotiations originally. If possible, try to end your parlay quietly and leave the area ASAP to avoid provoking further feelings of ill will: if that can’t be done, use any means necessary to fight your way out of the are up to and including deadly force to ensure your own survival.
By no means is this guide all-inclusive (there’s just far too much information for that), but this should give you a basic outline of what you should do in the event that society as we know it breaks down – scout out your habitat, stockpile supplies, acquire arms and persuade the locals to aid you if possible. Put this information into practice and your odds of making through the coming storm will improve dramatically.