Ok so there are a lot of topics I eventually want to cover with this, but let’s continue with the basic gear outline for now. By now let’s say you’ve got your rifle. It’s setup with either a scope or a red dot, and you have back up sights. You have a weapon light mounted on it, and you also have a sling attached. Good. How many magazines do you have? I’d recommend you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 12, but 6-10 is fine. Remember, you’ve already looked into your local laws before you even started down this path, so if you can’t have standard capacity magazines, you don’t. So if you’re limited to 10 round mags, you have even more of them than the suggested amount. What else do you need?
I’d recommend you do your due diligence in finding out about load bearing equipment. You may want body armor, and I recommend you have it, even if you don’t intend to wear it while training (or in real life). There are situations where it may be appropriate to wear it and there are situations where it may not be appropriate. A lot of that is personal and situational. We’ll get there but won’t discuss it for now.
A chest rig is a good idea for carrying your mags. You can get a cheap Chicom one off ebay for like $15. Your AR or AK mags will fit just fine, and you can carry 7 of them with this rig (plus one in the rifle, that’s a lot of ammo!). It has straps that tie off in the back but if you or someone you know can sew at all you can attach plastic locking clips to make it easier to don and doff, etc. I have a couple of them lying around and they are very simple and cheap but still durable. My personal philosophy on this stuff is that usually simpler is better. A lot of people in gun circles are always chasing down the next gadget. No need. Aside from the fact that it’s just capitalists doing their bullshit, I just don’t want more shit that can fail when I need it most. Keep it as simple as possible, but your setup still has to work of course. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some “Gucci” gear. But that’s because I’ve figured out what works for me and I’m committed to this. So spending a little more money for something that will (hopefully) last is justified in my opinion. You’ll figure out what works for you too.
Another method of carrying shit around, not just magazines of course, is the battle belt. Maybe you’ll see it referred to as a war belt or duty belt, or whatever. This can be instead of or in addition to your chest rig. I really like the belt option for a lot of reasons. Having rifle magazines, an individual first aid kit (IFAK), a knife, a canteen, and other assorted gear starts to weigh a lot. And if you’re already wearing body armor, you’re going to be bogged down. Distributing that weight around your waist is a great way to deal with this problem. If you look at actual soldiers throughout history, a lot of them just had some sort of belt setup. Also, if you just have a battle belt, you can lay down flat (go prone) when you need to. This way will be easier than doing it with a bunch of shit hanging over your chest/stomach. I highly recommend you explore this option first. Condor makes less expensive shit, but the sky’s the limit as always. There are a lot of brands out there. Just go for most durable at lowest cost. Shop around and ask your experienced comrades what they recommend. You can attach things like: a tourniquet, your IFAK, magazine pouches (pistol and rifle perhaps), canteens, a dump pouch (which is where you put your empty or partially empty magazines after a reload), a survival knife, a pistol holster, extra medical supplies, a compass, etc. It’s versatile and can be set up however you need it to be. And the weight will be better distributed than if all your gear is right there on your chest/stomach.
I have a plate carrier with body armor, a chest rig, and a battle belt. I can just throw on the belt quickly and roll with just that if I need to. My chest rig can be worn by itself or I can disconnect the straps and attach it to my plate carrier. Versatility and simplicity. That’s what works best for me. I can change my particular setup based on the situation I’m in. NOTE: It would be a good idea to look up how to use MOLLE webbing. It’s fairly straight forward but if you’re not familiar with it it’s possible to do it wrong. You don’t want your mag pouches falling off as your patrolling, etc. Also, an older system, called ALICE does not play well with MOLLE. I’ll admit against my better judgment I tried to mount an ALICE item with zip ties on a MOLLE belt once. Thankfully it was obvious it wasn’t going to hold for long and I never did anything that mattered with it. I would have lost a piece of gear in the brush. Not smart.
Remember, these are just general guidelines to get you thinking about where you need to be. This all comes again with the statement that I’m not an expert and am merely sharing things from my experiences both in the military and with community defense work. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions about specifics or anything else. We just want you to be properly equipped if you’re getting into all this.
So to sum it up so far:
-Rifle (AR or AK most likely).
-12 magazines (Or more!).
-Sling attached to rifle. I use two-point slings.
-Red dot or scope. (Or just run iron sights of course.)
-BUIS (Back up iron sights).
-Weapon light. I recommend Surefire or Streamlight. Prices vary, but a surefire G2 will do the job if you can find a way to properly mount it.
-Plate carrier, if body armor is something you’re going to use.
-Chest rig of some kind. Be able to carry at least 4 magazines, but no more than 8 really.
-Battle belt (Your setup may vary but you need an IFAK and extra tourniquet at a minimum. A lot of times I’ll put a tourniquet on my rifle).
You may be asking yourself, how much ammo do I need?!? That’s a great question, since we haven’t really talked about it yet. In prepper circles, it’s usually said you need 1000 rounds per weapon. I think that’s a good number over all. It’s fine to keep more than that on hand, but cost is always a factor so I think that’s a good goal when starting out. The problem is that to get skilled, you have to go shoot, A LOT. So….stockpiling ammo is hard when you have limited funds. Try to keep as close to 1000 rounds on hand as you can to start. Don’t store it anywhere too hot or cold. And keep it dry, avoiding humidity as much as possible. Down south, plastic wrap around the boxes being stored helps. I often leave ammo in my trunk to see if it’s still reliable. Usually, even with the oppressive summers we have, it still performs as it should. And I’m just using plain old 55 grain (basically just a unit of weight when talking about bullets) American Eagle 5.56. Nothing fancy. It’s always worked well in my rifles and out of literally probably 35,000 rounds of it over the last few years, I’ve only* had 3 misfires. The 62 grain green tip stuff hasn’t worked great for me. I had a rifle that didn’t like it, wouldn’t extract right for some reason. And it’s harder on your barrel anyway. Again, keep it simple. I do occasionally buy some more pricey 77 grain Hornady or something like that if I’m doing longer distance stuff. But even that is unnecessary for my main carbine. The XM193 55 grain American Eagle ammo is perfectly fine for any scenario I can come up with based on my geographic area.
Anyway, I guess that’s it for this time. I’m trying to build up the foundations quickly. You can go back and reference these later at any time and you may need to do some research on your own to fill in the gaps. Next time I think we’re going to get into some actual shooting instruction. All this gear stuff is important, but all of that is meaningless without fundamental skills and continued training. I’m hoping this can become a guide to get comrades up to speed quickly, so again, please give me any feedback you may have. Until next time…
*Misfires aren’t cool. But the statistics there aren’t too, too terrible. Make sure when learning how to manipulate your firearms you learn how to do deal with malfunctions. I’ll cover that eventually too. So much to talk about!