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Urban SWK: The Basics

Posted by on 2011/04/09

This Survive Whatever kit is comprised of 5 items you may find useful in a post-apocalyptic urban survival scenario.  Like other SWK’s it’s not intended to be the definitive survival kit; just an exercise.

The container we’ve chosen is: The BulletBlocker Explorer Backpack, a bit pricey, at around $300, but relatively inexpensive compared to body armor.  The Bulletblocker boasts the ability to literally stop small arms fire, so in a firefight it can be carried as a shield to protect your face and torso.  Pretty fucking handy.  As per usual, we’re stocking the backpack with a mylar emergency blanket, our magnesium firestarter, first aid/trauma kit, and sewing kit.

The Flavor:

Slot 1. The traditional fixed blade knife slot in our SWKs; we have to consider how much use we’re going to get out of a knife this time.   Unlike wilderness scenarios, hunting and foraging are both unlikely; so besides defense, the knife is less often going to be out of the sheath. If we decide to stick with a knife, it’s going to be a purely tactical knife; and in most situations the big tactical advantage of having a knife is not letting your opponent know you have a knife.  For now, lets stick with cold steel recon tanto.  It’s a durable, streamlined knife that can punch through kevlar and has a matte black finish for extra super secret stealthiness; also a bargain at $65.  I’m going to add here, in response to comments and emails, that a knife is a highly personal tool, one that will inevitably become fetishized as the vessel and icon of your personal survival, and a knife choice is  thusly a highly personal one.  Your preference will vary.

Slot 2. We’re going to take defense a little more seriously here than in a wilderness kit, because we’ve seen Beyond Thunderdome and Prayer of the Rollerboys.  In a lawless future, might makes right; which means our #2 slot is going to be the first Firearm in an SWK. We’re going to want reliability, stopping power, and accuracy; but also we’re going to want a gun that doesn’t require specialized, hard to find, ammunition or something that can’t be brought to bear in a hurry.  A handgun that can take .357 and .38 rounds would be a good choice, 9mm is fairly common, 22LR while abundant, doesn’t have the stopping power we’ll need in a firefight.  A Magnum Caliber 357 Revolver becomes an early favorite as a self defense handgun.  It has excellent stopping power, can handle both .357 and .38 rounds, and as a revolver is not likely to jam or misfire.  A .44, .454, or .45 (or even the massive .50) all boast greater stopping power and better one shot kill percentages, but as the ammo is less common, your chances of scavenging rounds are reduced.    We’ll assume, for the sake of the SWK that a firearm will come supplied with two standard boxes of ammunition.   Our choice for this slot is going to be the Ruger Security Six; which is only likely to be found from secondhand dealers, but is a sturdy heirloom quality pistol reminiscent of the legendary colt peacemaker.  It has a reputation for reliability, and may be found in 3″, 4″ and 6″ barrel lengths.   Revolver vs. Semi-Auto comes down to a personal preference most of the time, while proponents of each will tout the benefits vs. the other.  Autoloaders have higher capacities and faster rates of fire, but revolvers are less prone to jamming and require less maintenance; also reloading becomes a point of contention; in practical use, reloading a semi-auto is as easy as swapping out a fully loaded clip; however loading a clip takes significantly longer than reloading a revolver, and requires two hands; while a revolver can be held and reloaded at once. I’m open to feedback here.

Slot 3: We’re going to eschew rope in this kit, in an urban setting rope and similar shit is going to be easy to come by.  I’m going to insist however that we keep the multi-tool. In fact, we want an even more versatile multi-tool, something with a wire-stripper and range of screw-driving solutions. The completely out of control Victorinox Swiss Champ multitool might be a good choice, but having never used it, I can’t speak to its durability; however the range of tools falls perfectly into this slot. If your priorities and mine are at all aligned, the corkscrew is a welcome addition. An alternative would be the Leatherman Surge, which is a similarly equipped beast with the added bonus of being reknowned for durability, but it leaves you on your own to figure out how to get that wine bottle open.

Slot 4: This is a tricky slot, because I want a flashlight with a nice long battery life, but I also want a water purification device, and more bad ass defensive gear.  A tactical strobe flashlight I could mount on my gun would be nice, surefire makes a few; and a few uv-water filtration devices could serve as an emergency light source in a pinch; but they’re none too durable. So, I’m going to go ahead and use this slot for an gun-mounted combo strobe/flashlight/laser sight, because fuck it. I want to live.  If we opt for the Ruger Security Six, we’ll need to pick up a weaver 305 mount or a conversion kit, which means a shit ton of work. If you went with a more common or modern handgun, you shouldn’t have an issue.

Slot 5: The true urban multitool, the wrecking bar.  We’re not going to fuck around with standard crowbars, or prybars, or iron spikes, I’ve got my sight fixed on the Dead-On Tools Annihilator 18″ Wrecking bar.   This bad ass utility bar is a demolition hammer, drywall axe, prybar, nail puller, tile ripper, conduit stripper, scoring spike, and in a pinch, it’s a bottle opener; also, it’s awesome looking.

So, just to recap: The Basic Urban SWK consists of a bullet proof backpack containing a Fixed Blade Knife, A Revolver with mounted light, two boxes of .357 FMJ, A multitool, and a wrecking bar.  Based on this configuration, we’ll be able to move through a hostile urban environment with stealth and confidence, gain access to locked structures, and handle some repairs and construction.  Our first goal is going to be to secure a source of clean water, which we will most likely have to defend, as we lack the means to purify found water.  Once we’re hydrated, we’re going to immediately want to start pursuing water purification and storage solutions.

In this kit, I feel like the knife is the weak link – Between the handgun and the wrecking bar, the knife is awfully specialized and the slot is almost definitely better filled with a water purification device of some sort.   Comments?


6 Responses to Urban SWK: The Basics

  1. Dan Flewitt

    You can’t use 38 cal ammo in a 357 magnum. A 357 magnum round is .35 inches in diameter, a 38 cal round is .38 inches in diameter-it won’t fit in the chamber. You can use 38 special ammo in a 357 magnum, 38 special ammo is .35 inches in diameter like the 357 magnum. A 38 special round is basically just a 357 magnum with a shorter shell casing.

    • chance

      Regarding water purification:
      In an urban setting, more tools for water purification will be available than in a wilderness setting, but there are lots of great portable water purification solutions. I’ll post a basic guide on water purification soon.

  2. Mad Max

    I definitely feel that water purification would take precedence over a knife. That being said, knives are relatively light, so I’d probably bring ’em both.

  3. Dan

    A knife is actually one of the most important tools. It comes in handy in almost every kinda of survival work. Remember, God made you a monkey without any formidable claws or fangs. A knife is imperative for cleaning any game you are lucky enough to capture or kill. Without it, your energy expensive meat would spoil within hours. And when cooked with the meat, guts will make it 100% unappetizing. And once your gun runs out of bullets, you canould lash it onto a pole and have a spear. Or sharpen the end of a wooden pole. And don’t underestimate that. There’s a reason the spear and lance were the cutting edge technology on the battlefield at one point. Traps are also easier to set with a blade.

    If you plan on eating canned foods, a knife acts as a pry bar. Any type of food other than perishables need some form of cutting implement and it’s always better to have a good piece of steel at your side instead of a sharp rock. A knife’s uses are only limited to your own ingenuity and knowledge.

    A serrated blade would be more suited to a suvival situation. This allows you to cut sturdier objects like cord or plastic based cable with more ease and thus less hacking and more safety.

    I don’t mean this to start an argument, or say that you know nothing of survival. I like your ideas. I just want you to rethink your decision about a knife being “specialized”. Put it in your pack. If you aren’t glad for it at least once in the first day, I’m wrong and you can throw it away.

    • chance

      Dan, I don’t disagree with a thing you’ve said. A fixed blade knife is almost always the #1 tool in my kit.

  4. pinterest image

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I to find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to present something again and aid others like you helped me.

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