Weaponry through the ages. Feeling safe with defensive weapon systems.
Podcast Episode 032421
Published on March 24th, 2021
Talk about longer-term dependence on weapon technology. However, I want to be sure we talk about the chance that manufacturing plants could be offline, or no longer functioning. As we discuss the need for weaponry in a defensive measure, I want us to consider the longevity of said weapons. Whenever discussions of the zombie apocalypse surface, the immediate discussion comes up for axes, modified maces, or swords. Although these visions seem to invoke ideas of simplicity and rudimentary weapons of zero expense, they are for all intents and purposes where humankind within a decade of a societal breakdown. When the days were the brass cartridges can no longer be reloaded, or the world as we know it no longer has any gun powder left. This is where the human race will find itself fairly quickly following a total meltdown.
Greetings friends, family members, fellow Alaskans, and fellow Americans wherever you are and welcome to the Alaska Outlaw podcast. I am the Alaska Outlaw, and I hope to guide you on a journey in understanding the impact of society on the use of modern-day weaponry. Today, I want us to think about the inability of running down to the local gun store to pick up ammunition, or reloading your ammunition yourself. Thinking about the use of weaponry in a defensive stance against whatever threat your family may face in the uncertain future. That's today's adventure in helping us understand how to be prepared.
Like many of you, I once thought about the stockpiling of ammunition for the weapon stash I had here in my home. I thought that as long as I had ammunition, I would be safe. Then, when I started to think about a longer-term societal breakdown, I evaluated my axes and other primitive weapons for their longevity. Then I had an epiphany. What if I started looking at weapons before the firearm cartridge was developed, back in the days before the flintlocks and percussion cap weapons came to the forefront of war-making technology. So, in this endeavor, I considered the potential of "resupply" of ammunition, and the range of the weapon systems. These two factors are what make long-term preparedness relevant. So, with that in mind, let's look at the weapon systems and determine what (if any) changes we need to make to our long-term preps.
We’ll start with factoring out the difference between close-combat, and range weapon systems, then address the technology in each. Now, there are many weapon systems that can span across both the major groups here. Those major groups are "close-combat", and "long-distance" weapons. The obvious difference between these two major groups is the accuracy-at-range. In other words, we could throw a knife 100 feet downrange, but realistically, how accurate would we be at that range? Versus delivering a 50 caliber bullet into the skull of an enemy at two and a half miles away. This really becomes the difference when we talk about weapon systems. While, I personally, am pretty damn accurate throwing a Tomahawk at 25 feet, I'm going to struggle greatly at 100 meters. With that said, our first group to consider is "close-combat" weapons, things like:
- Axes & Tomahawks
- Swords & Machetes
- Spears & Halberds
Each of these weapon systems can be deployed expertly at close range, and the Spear arguably could be thrown for quite a distance, they are going to be no match for a simplistic center-fire cartridge rifle, not even a black powder rifle, just because of the physics involved. The other aspect to discuss here is the longevity of each of the products above. There are very few vendors who make an "indestructible" product anymore. Reality. So, speaking about any type of bladed weapon, how long will it actually keep an edge, so this becomes an ongoing maintenance issue, but obviously there is a substantial difference between vendors here.
In the times before the steel, there were other forms of bladed weapons that survived for tens of thousands of years. This is something we really need to ponder when talking about long-term survival without the aid of steel mills. Ultimately, you have a couple of choices here, you can either take up metal-smithing (which is not a bad idea), or we start considering the use of older technologies, like possible stone or flint tools. In addition to the idea that they are VERY cheap to make, their natural abundance makes them an optimal weapon system. With the skills to create arrowheads, spear tips, or knives and axes, we increase our long-term survival potential ten-fold. This is really important in the big picture of things.
Moving through the primitive weapon systems, we can arrive at a bat or club, this, embedded with sharp rocks or sharpened tree branches begins to create an arsenal of weapons that can be cheaply fashioned, and will be fairly successful at repelling some threats from your person. Obviously, the major issue here is that you don't get much of a second chance with close-in weapons, as the threat is upon you, they have the potential of disarming you, and/or possibly using your weapon system against you, and this is where the whole idea started with long-range weapon systems.
Now, the long-range weapon systems today are a marvel of technology. Evolving from the very primitive, to the highly advanced weapons of today. Again, many individuals throughout the world have chosen to stockpile ammunition, thereby providing long-range accurate defensive actions to be deployed. However, I believe that, if an apocalypse should happen and a societal implosion happens where the manufacturing plants are no longer creating these metric tons of cartridges (modern-day bullets), we are going to find ourselves looking for ways to create a little distance between us and our "would-be" foes. This is where the longer-range weapons come into our discussion, and they boil down to:
- Cartridge Firearms (Modern)
- Black Powder (Older)
- Bows & Arrow weapon systems
- Spears & Atlatl
The identification and creation of gunpowder changed the whole landscape of weaponry. When it was first used to catapult cannonballs from those very rudimentary cannons hundreds of years ago, it would change the way humankind would secure land, and prey for their usage. It quickly became a glaring symbol as to the "haves" and the "have nots", and in my personal opinion, can't be any better demonstrated by the migration of Europeans west through North & South America in the 1800s. Gunpowder changed the game by minimizing the amount of kinetic energy that the "shooter" needed to create. By increasing the grains of gunpowder in a sealed chamber, and applying it to the back of a small projectile (bullet), the "shooter" could now throw that little pee (actual pebble bullet) thousands of feet. It wasn't until a little later that humans discovered that by spinning the bullet during its launch down the barrel, it created a more accurate throw. The targets that were intended to be struck now began to reduce in size and could be moved further away.
Within this collection of technologies, spans about 100 thousand years of evolution, with only about 800 years of black powder, which leads me to believe that there is some effective technology there. Now, many individuals may have 10 thousand rounds stored for the "end-of-civilization" as we know it, however, modern-day rounds have a shelf-life, ultimately they degrade and become really cute paperweights. So, when considering your defensive weapon system, let's consider moving back in time a little to discover what made the weapon systems of early humans so effective.
- Firstly, there were abundant resources to create thousands of weapon systems if necessary, thereby
- They were easily replaced, and
- They were fairly simple to make.
- Ammunition could be found almost anywhere there were trees or sticks.
- Finally, the actual point for puncturing the target, was again, easily found and replaceable.
These, among many other factors, made the bow and arrow systems, without a close comparison, the ideal weapon system for an apocalypse type of situation. Many bows and arrow long-range accuracy are most accurate between 30 - 60 yards, with the longest recorded shot hitting the intended target 930 feet away. Now, having said that, there are some limitations of modern-day bows that can render them just as useless in the apocalypse as a firearm. Modern-day compound bows exert an extraordinary amount of kinetic energy upon the arrow shaft as it's released from the archer's grip. This energy can shatter your standard wood arrows, thereby needing to have specialized arrow shafts, ergo useless. To ensure your preps are legit, a standard-issue bow is necessary, then this opens the world as an ammunition belt (of a sort).
Before the bow and arrow system really came to fruition, we saw the development of the Spear technology. Remember, we are trying to get some distance between us and the target? So, the development of the long spear with a sharpened tip came into the usage of humankind. As this spear evolved from a hand-held device to a thrown device, the advantage of distance was realized by those early humans. This advantage was further exploited when humans discovered and developed the idea behind the launch physics, creating more inertia with an atlatl. An atlatl is essentially, a lever used to launch a spear with a substantial increase in kinetic energy applied to the spear shaft, creating more distance. This weapon system survived for over a hundred thousand years in securing land, and prey for those very early humans.
We've kind of glossed over many different weapon systems and have spoken of the need to identify weapons that give the range necessary to be able to have a second opportunity to prevent the forward advance of any enemy in a defensive type of situation. However, there are some alternatives to having long-range weapons to provide the "first response" to an oncoming threat, another potential is the use of "booby-traps". While the name may sound a tad goofy, their effect can be far more psychological than straight out weapon systems. I am reminded of the traps used by John Rambo (played by Sylvester Stallone) in Rambo: First Blood. Of course, the story insinuates that he learned the fine art of "booby-trapping" during his tour in Vietnam with the US Army Special Forces. I do know from other sources that the Viet-Cong soldiers used a substantial amount of these types of traps to mitigate the difference in manpower between the two armies. So, our next weapon system to consider is:
- Traps & Booby traps
Many times, these types of traps can be VERY low cost, and yet, very effective in preventing the forward momentum of an oncoming threat. Just things to consider when you ponder the implosion of society as we know it, which includes the loss of law enforcement and community protection. The other side of this weapon system is the psychological impact that it has on the perpetrators. Having effective booby traps in use can upend the surety that the perpetrators have in entering properties in which they haven't been invited. Another perfect example of this, although comically displayed, is the young boy (played by Macaulay Culkin) in Home Alone who deployed many different "traps" for two would-be robbers. The fact that this young boy was able to collect standard household items and weaponize them, is what makes booby traps so effective.
Having covered a multitude of ideas for defensive weapon systems, and their potential for deployment, I want to make sure I include the statement that I'm not bloodthirsty here. As a long-time Alaskan, I know to keep my defensive weaponry pretty close at hand when I'm off the beaten path, not as much for humans, but the wildlife around here can get a little worrisome. So, the ideas that we've discussed here can be supplemented by the use of local law enforcement agencies, home security systems, and an overall good security posture. The use of defensive weaponry is more focused on those individuals who are away from the societies we've created, and/or during a societal implosion. The idea here is to be prepared. Don't wait.
In conclusion, the other concept to note here is to become proficient with these technologies now, before we find ourselves in a survival situation where there is a life-saving necessity of having to defend yourself. I encourage each of you to research these technologies and determine what would work best for you in your preparations. As always my friends, stay safe out there, remember to stay at-the-ready, keep your head on a swivel, and as always... Peace.