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Campfire Chat

May 13, 2019

1) I got a lot of vitriolic responses via email, to my comments last week about not buying cheap gear. They ranged from “I’ll buy cheap gear if I want!” to “If you’re not carrying the gear I recommend, you’re going to die!” and “anybody that knows anything knows leather gear is the only way to go! You’re a fraud, John!” I also saw a few emails telling me that focusing on gear was stupid, and having a weekly range day with friends to train was stupid, because the coming Civil War 2 wasn’t going to happen the way I think it’s going to happen…okay.

Look, first off, I don’t give a fuck what gear you run. There have been more than a few classes that have watched me run my rifle with a spare mag tucked into my back pocket. There have been a few classes that have seen me do that, while wearing shorts, and either sandals or barefoot (OH MY GOD! THE SAFETY HAZARDS! Dude. Seriously. If you think wearing a fucking shoe is going to protect your foot if some dumbfuck smokes a rifle round into your foot….Why did I go barefoot? Because I LIKE being barefoot. That’s it.). I legitimately just don’t care what you use. That is what I use, and I gave the reasons why I use it.

Second…unless your ass has been in a gunfight or ten, you telling anybody that your gear selection is the ONLY way is like a fucking virgin giving sex advice to a hooker. Go blow yourself. On a related note…when someone tells you that a holster for field use, that doesn’t have a flap is going to get you killed in a gunfight, “because mud and debris,” ask them why every single fucking dude I know who has carried a pistol downrange, in the SOF community, chooses to carry an open top holster with some sort of retention device other than a flap…maybe it’s because we know the pistol isn’t a fucking decoration or a status symbol, but an “Oh shit!” self-defense tool, and we’d sort of, kind of, maybe, like to be able to get to the goddamned thing when we need it. If you feel that you need a flap top holster on your sidearm, and you don’t think the time difference in getting it out is going to make a difference? Don’t even bother carrying a pistol. Or, do. I don’t give a fuck.

Third…as I mentioned in The Guerrilla Gunfighter, Vol1: Clandestine Carry Pistol, in this day and age, leather is a sexual preference, not a valid holster material. Look, I get it. A custom made, tooled leather holster is classic. It’s pure sexiness (see? Sexual preference.). Even for CCW use, it’s suboptimal, for a hundred different reasons that people in the training community (you know, people that actually practice this shit…) have belabored. If you’re still wearing a leather holster, that’s fine, just acknowledge your fetish.

For a field holster? If you’re carrying a leather holster, either a) you don’t have a goddamned clue what the fuck you’re talking about (and I don’t care how many years you served in the peacetime Army in the late 1970s), or b) you’re just not serious about using it in the field. You know what happens to gear in the field? It gets wet. It gets encrusted in mud and dirt. You know what happens to leather when it gets repeatedly wet and encrusted in mud and dirt, and isn’t promptly cleaned off with saddle soap, and then oiled? It fucking falls apart, you fucking troglodytes.

I’ve got an old leather cavalry holster for a 1911, from the interwar years. it’s sexy. It’s well-maintained. It’s also a fucking wall ornament at this point.

2) “Civil War 2 isn’t going to happen the way you think it’s going to. Nobody is going to be patrolling around in LBE like light infantry! It’s going to be spy shit and tradecraft!”

Let me preface this by saying, “That’s probably right, for most people.”

That having been said, let’s parse that a little bit. First off, unless your name is Nostradamus, and you’ve got a fucking crystal ball up your ass, ain’t nobody knows what the collapse of the American Empire is going to look like…and yes, that includes me. The only thing up my ass are turds.

What we do have are historical models we can look at, and try to extrapolate potentialities. We basically have two models we can use. We can look at the long-term view, i.e. what has happened to other empires in the past, like Rome, the Caliphate, and others, which I did, in excruciating detail in Forging the Hero. It’s not a perfect method, but, as they say, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it usually rhymes pretty well. Using that method, we can extrapolate that there will be increasing breakdowns, both in scope and frequency, in the civil order, especially in urban areas. They will also occur in rural areas, but probably less frequently, and less severe, simply because of the presence of resources, so people in rural environments won’t be starving, or lacking in potable water, etc, as quickly as those in urban areas.

Looking at that model, we can also expect some limited excursions by armed bands from urban environments into rural areas nearby, looking for food, women, and other resources. We can also expect, however, excursions by armed bands from rural areas, into nearby urban areas, looking for resources not available in rural areas…tools, valuables, women, and farm labor (because rest assured, those $170,000 tractors are going to be lawn ornaments…)

We can expect micro-collapses. I would argue the civil unrest we’ve seen in recent years, between Left and Right, are far more a result of the unraveling of the American Empire than they are of anything else (again, see, Forging the Hero, as well as the initial chapters of The Reluctant Partisan, Volume Two: The Underground, for breakdowns of some of these issues). We can expect limited recoveries in some areas, with more available resources, while other places will simply continue to crumble. Eventually though, like every other empire in the history of mankind, while some of the infrastructure will survive, the psychological construct of “America!” will fall and fade. It’s just what happens (and seriously, if you’re going to respond with, “But, God loves us!” go read FTH first. I covered that.)

Second, we can look at what I would term the short-term model, by looking at failed state environments in contemporary times. This could range from Somalia, with the fall of the Barre regime, to Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to Iraq and Afghanistan, post-invasion. It could be the Ukraine now.

Interesting thing about all of those, the collapse looked dramatically different in urban and rural areas, but in both contexts….the people who had the ability to fight to protect themselves? They had guns, and gear, and people around them that they trusted (sometimes unwisely).

Get on Google, and look for pictures of the fighting in Somalia in the early ‘90s. Every fucking Skinny out there was running some sort of chest rig for his AK. He might only have one magazine in it, but he damned sure had a way to carry it! Look at photos of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Don’t just look at the folks stuck in the cities being victims. Look at the actual fighters from all sides. You know what you’ll notice? They all had weapons, of one sort or another. Most had some semblance of a uniform, and they had load-bearing equipment for carrying spare magazines and mission-essential equipment.

Look at photos of Syria and the Ukraine. The rebel forces in both places—even before the US and Russia got involved—were carrying load-bearing equipment to support their primary weapon…and those were in both rural and urban environments.

If I lived in an urban area, I would still have my plate carrier fighting load set-up, but I would focus even more than I already do, on my EDC clandestine carry gear. I would spend 99% of my available training time, instead of 80% of it, on pistol work, instead of rifle work.

But, I don’t. I live in a rural area, in a small, spread out community, where everyone knows everyone, and everyone’s business. If shit starts falling apart in the closest urban areas, you can bet your happy ass that several of my neighbors already have plans in place to secure the mountain (they may have mentioned them in passing), in order to repel boarders. As I pointed out, in great detail in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume 1: The Guerrilla, and in numerous articles here in the past, if the enemy is on your front porch, you’re too late. So yeah, we practice and train with light-infantry gear, so we can project force outward, whether on foot, or in vehicles, to keep bad people off the fucking front porch.

That doesn’t mean we can’t dump that shit, slip a concealed pistol under our shirt, and go rolling through a festival or county fair with no one the wiser. We do it every day.

3) Related to that: Do yourself a favor. Never project your own inadequacies on someone else. The mistake can be costly.

4) I’m happy to announce, the TX2 and TX3, which I’ve been advocating to people for several years, are now on the Approved List from the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care. Also, as a brief aside, that piece of shit RAT tourniquet was NEVER approved by the Committee.


5) From a reader email:

“Forgot to mention, the MG PT program literally saved my butt. I was doing chores on the ice rink that used to be my backyard and fell, managing to spear my lower back on the corner of a low planter just before impact. I only had sweats on so no protection to be had from heavy layers of clothing. My offerings to the War Gods in the form of deadlifts and squats were rewarded–I hit really hard but instead of a fractured spine or broken pelvis all I had was a nasty bruise and a broken toe (i have no idea how that happened. PT is the best…”

Said reader has been in a class, and has read the books. He gets it. PT isn’t just about being dangerous in a fight. PT is a fundamental survival training skill, because shit happens.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Paul Boggs permalink

    What type of tourniquet do you use and recommend John?

  2. Jim Irwin permalink

    You suggested Army web gear 1965-1975. Also my idea. Your info historically to present Great.Thanks. My California location is rural to Urban medical. Jeep EDC a 38+ 40. Fighting knives, on 165 lbs 5ft 9 inch body 2 feet from patients. Farming no, storage Yes. Ammo, medicines, HOH, food. Can patrol ambush . 223+ 7.62 + 12 G.+ 45. Versatile. Older male.

  3. Sheedy Michael permalink

    Same old reprobate , good stuff, as always


  4. Greg permalink

    People like one size fits all plans, that’s fine if you are talking foundational principals. But mostly they like one size because they are mentally or physically lazy. I live in a rural area like you and my plans and gear are not going to look like most of the urban or suburban readership of this blog. My neighbors are farmers and coal miners, which means we have resources that people are going to want. Which is entirely different planning than most people that will be seeking resources. Peeps should think before they type gripes but such is the blogosphere. I enjoy what you do and your perspectives and advice. Thank you

  5. Dan Morgan permalink

    When I suggest that people buy quality gear, I use the motorcycle helmet analogy.
    If you have a fifty dollar head, then go ahead and buy a fifty dollar helmet.
    If you can afford to spend twenty grand on a bike, you can afford a good Snell approved helmet.
    Most folks get it.
    I distance myself from those who don’t.

    • SemperFi, 0321 permalink

      Raced enduros for yrs, word was if you bought a helmet for under $100, wear the box it came in.

  6. Red permalink

    First off I appreciate your straightforward dissemination of very valuable information, both in your opinions and the facts you present. On gear, i remember being a part of a Y2K meeting where a bunch of worried folks got together to hash out the end of the world when all the computers failed. There was quite the assortment of people, mostly some older well meaning couch potato types.

    The topic extended to gear and the resident expert was telling Aunt Eunice and Uncle Walt to go out and buy expedition level top shelf gear like North Face, Patagonia, etc. Assessing the crowd, i chimed in with a comment that, fleece for example, is available at walmart for far less and would happily meet most operational needs. the guy presenting immediately assumed i worked for walmart. anyway, point being and its how i have amassed my wealth of gear. those in less than optimum financial resources should mimic as best they can those that know what they are talking about. Replace with better as you can.
    You JM may run a super cool Eagle Tactical cigar holder but i may only be able to afford a cheap Condor knock off. For the immediate, we could both quickly access our cigars, in the long run your quality and maybe feature set will surpass my own. Certain things are not negotiable however and that is the not so fun task of funding on a budget. Those particular items are why people will come to people like you and read and learn. “Yeah” says JM, “get you a cheap Condor tactical cigar holder for the short term” “But don’t you skimp, ever, on your boomstick” Therein is the high value of your experience and those you associate with that you in turn learn from, to share here. Thanks, sincerely, thanks.

  7. frank de Cespedes permalink

    Go with what you know, train with what you have and for gods sake get off your ass and train.

  8. Jeff permalink

    You can’t pound common sense into some people even if you have a large hammer, don’t stress on them John

  9. permalink

    love his fire side chat.thx for sharingCarl T. Smith, CHA, CPOPresidentSmith Hospitality ManagementPO Box 51Bent Mountain, Virginia 24059csmith@smithhm.com540-580-4010

  10. Juan delafusa permalink

    If you wear a pistol, and it ever gets below freezing, or you want a holster to last more than a few years, leather is the only way to go. At 10 below, all plastics, and kydex break real easy, and fast.

  11. Glenn permalink

    Thanks for one of your funniest posts in a while.
    Fuck the idiots.

  12. archy permalink

    I’ve been a user of the mostly-leather M3 tanker’s shoulder holster since my Summertime graduation from 11-Echo tank crewman’s AIT around August 1966s as a new E2 Private. Most examples of the M3 [and similar M7] are made of leather, but If there’s a synthetic substitute that’s as useful,practical, comfortable and inexpensive I’m not aware of it. I’m retired from the tanker biz, for a few years and two generations of tanks now. I have not retired from daily carry of a M1911A1. After fifty years experience with the things, I see no reason to change.

  13. Gator permalink

    A long time ago I wanted to get a 3x flip to side magnifier to put behind my aimpoint on my very first AR build. I looked first at the aimpoint, thought it was too expensive for what it did. I looked at a few others, but found a 100$ sightmark that had glass ALMOST as clear as the bigger names, but at a third of the cost. The glass is pretty clear, but the eye relief on it is terrible. I mostly shot sitting from a bench because of the range i was using at the time, so I didn’t really notice it at first. Later on, when shooting on the move type training and practice that cheap piece of gear revealed its short comings. Its really hard to get quick shots and transition between targets on the move or keep awareness of your surroundings on something with that short of eye relief. Thats extra couple inches makes a big difference(thats what she said…)

    • archy permalink

      Optics has got to be one of the best things to blow money on. It’s one of the few things in this world that no matter how much you spend, it generally doesn’t go bad. Just watch it, and spend wisely.

      That said: spares and extras for backup items can be costy.

  14. Frank Devan permalink

    Solid points John, cheap gear breaks easily. People don’t realize it. Great information as usual. RLTW.

  15. Boondocker permalink

    Amen on good quality gear. Living in Alaska, crap that isn’t well-built quickly shows its ugly face. Leather holsters might be ok for an urban dweller, but here everything turns greens and slimey pretty quickly…

  16. JimCalifwin permalink

    The USA is moving towards Venezuela Socialism. With 21 Socialist Presidential candidates and their Multi Media friends 2020 is BATTLE. Get Ready. Come as you are Fight.

  17. “ask them why every single fucking dude I know who has carried a pistol downrange, in the SOF community, chooses to carry an open top holster with some sort of retention device other than a flap…maybe it’s because we know the pistol isn’t a fucking decoration or a status symbol”
    What about Charlie the FAG (aka, “SF Team Daddy”)? Pretty sure he didn’t use it as a decoration or status symbol., or doesn’t his opinion count?

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