Watching the news everyday continually reminds me why everybody needs to consider their SHTF loadout. Shootings are becoming commonplace to the point where the American people are numb to the news. Emotional intelligence has taken a backseat to knee jerk violent reactions. Man is slowly reducing himself to the violent ape and the general population lives in terror of his neighbor. Even our own government clearly doesn’t have our back as demonstrated by policies which line the pockets of rich politicians. Cops have Carte Blanch to do as they please and shoot who they want with no repercussions. On top of this we have a population spiraling out of control and live in a world of finite resources.
All these things come together to create chaos and disorder. How do you prepare for such chaos? In this post I’m going to cover a few SHTF loadout configurations. These various setups will help you understand what type of loadout is best for you.
What is an SHTF loadout?
First off, what the hell is an SHTF loadout? An SHTF loadout is the gear you strap to your person when TSHTF. It’s the gear you put on when all hell has broken loose and your only option is blasting through the madness like Kurt Russel in Escape From New York. Your loadout is there to give you rapid access to ammo and supplies and protect you from the violent environment around you.
Choosing a Weapon
The best SHTF weapon to have during a full blown SHTF situation is the one you have on you. The second best is the one you prepared to use and practiced with. Without a weapon all you have is a bug out bag (hopefully) and a greatly reduced chance of survival. Your weapon is your first line of both defense and offense. Even a fake weapon is better than nothing as you introduce an element of intimidation to the crazy people around you.
You can find lot’s of discussions online about what kind of gun is best in an SHTF scenario. The truth is, they all have their merits. In this post I won’t confuse you by giving you a thousand choices. I’m going to tell right now to go out and grab yourself an AK-47. Why? Because it’s a damn good weapon with serious stopping power and reliability. You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who denies the power of the AK.
The AK is a high capacity and high powered rifle. You really don’t want to be using a weapon that doesn’t have 30 round mags. This means constant reloading and downtime during firefights. The very nature of the piston driven design makes the AK extremely reliable even when submerged in sand. The AK is also one of the cheapest rifles around and you can find them for roughly $500 bucks depending on where you look. It also doesn’t matter where you find one or the manufacturer. Get one from Yugoslavia, China, Russia, or wherever. Ammo is also cheap and readily available. There’s also something about the AK that signals danger to those around you. Nobody is going to mess with a man wielding an AK-47.
And here’s the secret…
You don’t have to use the AK.
What matters most is your skill and comfort level with whatever gun you have. If you can hit a target 200 yards away with a shotgun then by all means use the damn shotgun! YOU are the weapon and the gun is the tool. However, if you’re starting from ground zero and on a budget (who isn’t these days) the AK represents a powerful weapon and delivers the most bang and versatility for the buck.
The setup and loadout for an AK-47 is drop dead simple. Get a folding stock to move through buildings and fight in close quarters. Get a good set of optics for increased accuracy. Attach a tactical flashlight to the rail mount. Aside from these basic mods make sure to have plenty of mags and ammo. Once again, practice shooting your weapon as much as you can. Your skill level is the most important factor. Mods and the other fancy things you can do to your weapon matter very little. A man who is skilled with a crossbow will easily take down a man with a gun who has never shot one in his life.
This leads us into the next part of the loadout…
Lightweight SHTF loadout
When speed is of the essence you can’t load yourself down like a pack mule. When you need to get from point A to point B ASAP you cannot afford the extra weight of all those survival widgets. You may be able to come back for your gear but at this point all that matters is MOVEMENT. Especially when on foot you’ll need to make good use of those chevrolegs.
Now, if this means bugging out of your home the answer is simple. Grab your weapon of choice along with as many mags you can carry on your belt. Molle mag pouches attach straight to your belt and hold any type of magazine you can imagine.
What about a backpack? Sure, but let’s keep it light.
I personally have found the Camelbak Mule to be a loyal lightweight companion out on the trail. It’s a 12.5 liter pack with a 3L hydration bladder. Throw in a couple Clif bars and a water filter and you have yourself a powerful lightweight survival B.O.B. The hydration bladder means you don’t need a water canteen and the filter gives you the ability to replenish your resources. Sure, you might be hungry but man can survive a long time without food. water? Not so much. Plus in a fully blown SHTF situation your security is the most important element of survival. Everything else takes a backseat behind your physical safety. This is why you need to be packing heat.
The compact size of the pack means you can only pack essential survival items. There’s no room for a tent and sleeping pad in this setup. This is a raw SHTF loadout with only the essential pieces of survival gear.
This setup will keep you light on your feet and ready for rapid movement.
The SHTF Battle Belt Loadout
In this setup we expand upon the lightweight loadout by adding a battle belt. A battle belt is usually a MOLLE compatible belt you can use to attach compatible pouches, magazines, and other storage containers. It’s a versatile setup giving you easy access to ammunition and other supplies. Your waist is the best spot to store your gear because of the natural center of gravity. This is still a lightweight loadout and does a good job at not restricting your movement or weighing you down. Range of motion is crucial when using and weapon especially longer rifles.
A battle belt will make good use of Molle pouches to stow crucial gear:
The Plate Carrier Loadout
Now here is where things get heavy duty. A plate carrier like the Condor MOPC is a Molle compatible vest which supports steel ballistic level plates. These plates are designed to protect both your back and chest from pistol and rifle rounds. In the event you get shot at, most people aim for the chest. In fact, even police and military forces are trained to put 2 in your chest first before they go for other vitals like the head. Center mass shooting training is effective against unarmored assailants but ineffective against someone with plate armor.
The plate armor gives you a defensive advantage against enemy shooters. Downsides include the weight of the vest of course. A fully loaded carrier vest can weigh up to 50 pounds and reduce your speed and ability to run fast. The vest could however save your life especially in a combat zone where you’re taking heavy fire. If you’re going to take this route I recommend wearing the vest and going for runs and hikes. This will acclimate your body to the weight and chisel you into shape.
A good plate carrier vest will have Molle webbing allowing you to attach other pieces of gear to both the front and the back. If you’re in shape this is a serious loadout. Like the battle belt you can attach a med kit, multiple ammo magazines, a good knife, and spare supplies. The plate carrier would make an excellent addition to a bug in setup where you’re being over run by hoards of lunatics. Strap that thing on and prepare to give them hell (final stand style) knowing you’re fully protected and ready to go.
Weapon + Bug Out Bag Loadout
Lot’s of preppers are big fans of the above loadouts. If you’re anything like me though you prefer to keep things simple. I find a high powered rifle and a basic bug out bag to be a very effective setup. Sure, you don’t have armor plates protecting your vitals but I value speed and versatility over chest protection. The lightweight loadout above is a great option but I find it lacking in crucial gear. I have confidence in my physical ability to move quickly even with a bag on my back. One of the best SHTF tips I can give is get in shape. Going for daily runs and hikes will put you in the top 10% of people who will actually have a chance of outrunning danger.
Moving right along, I have a number of gear items in my bug out bag:
- 3 days of food and water
- Water filter
- Knife (ESEE-5 or Cold Steel SRK)
- Multi tool
- Stainless steel cooking mug
- Fire kit (lighters, matches, ferrocerium rod etc)
- Medical kit
- Plastic poncho
- Spare socks
- Tactical flashlight
- Silcock key
One thing to note is you can purchase backpacks with the Molle webbing. One of my favorite tactical backpacks is the 5.11 Rush 72. This thing is loaded with Molle webbing and built durable. You could throw it threw a wood chipper and watch it come out the other side unscathed. This is great for people who like the Molle setup but don’t want to wear the battle belt or the vest.
SHTF Loadout Summary
Here’s a few bullet points to memorize about your loadout setup:
- High powered weapon with 30+ mags
- Extra mags and compatible Molle pouches
- Combat Knife
- Battle belt
- Medical kit
- Bug out bag (if not wearing carrier plate vest)
- Physical conditioning
Pair this loadout with a solid SHTF plan and you have yourself a tasty recipe for survival.