Wednesday, October 31, 2012

AGP-surplus v. modern

I was a big fan of the Soviet and Afghanistan conflict when I was a teenager.  A tale of a beleaguered nation fighting the ruthless Red Army, while interesting, was but a cherry topping the dessert of modern warfare unfolding before my eyes.  I didn’t really care who was fighting who, or where, but since I’d missed the action reporting of Vietnam I made up for it with total attention to African mercenary adventures and the guerrilla fighting in Afghanistan.  Being a viral American lad, it was expected and encouraged that I fill my soul with blood lust in preparation for the new volunteer Army ( if that failed, the continuing oil shock induced recessions saw fit that there was little in the way of jobs other than the military, although I must admit my area was better off than most ).  And remember, back then there were actual reporters overseas, unlike at present when bean counting dictates that press releases from the Pentagon are sufficient source material in between  Hollywood celebrity doings.  Even if the news might be playing up the Red Menace, it at least had a whiff of genuine craftsmen writing on events rather than cubical warriors slapping together hack pieces.  To me, it was almost like being there, a vicarious lifestyle I embraced.  The two things I remember vividly are the tribes main foodstuff, whole wheat flatbread ( something I would yearn for a few short years later as I was slurping up Korean war vintage C-rations ) and their almost universal rifle the Lee-Enfield.
I suppose those memories worked on me subconsciously because my main food for breakfast and lunch is flatbread ( actually the modern equivalent nuke bread ) most days of the week, and my preferred apocalypse rifle is the Lee-Enfield.  But a curious thing happened on the way to victory over in Afghanistan.  The SMLE’s were slowly but surely replaced with the AK-47 ( or perhaps the replacement AK-74, in either case the AK platform ).  For the longest time this made absolutely no sense to me.  The Enfield has a much tighter impact area ( which ain’t saying much as the SMLE is the sloppiest action of all war surplus rifles ) at much further distances with much better knockdown power, and its ammunition is reloadable.  And why even bother replacing a rifle every Afghan warrior grew up with and was proficient with?  New stories had always portrayed the Afghan guerrilla as a super marksman, the modern equivalent of the American Minuteman.  Why trade in your longer range weapon for a machinegun?  Even if 303 ammo was scarce ( I do believe that Soviet occupation is the time that Pakistan gunsmiths were improvising gunpowder with such methods as using old movie film for the nitrates ), wouldn’t a semi-auto short range carbine use far more ammo ( pay attention here as swiftly sidestep the danger to my evil semi theory )?
Back before the Soviet invasion, every male tribe member had a weapon, the better to kill his neighbors and protect himself.  By and large this was the rifle from the last invader, the Brits.  Pakistan was the armory for the Afghans, and I imagine just as today, back then opium was the currency.  For intertribal fighting, there was enough ammunition to go around.  Once the Soviets invaded, that small supply had to be in serious jeopardy.  The insurgents most likely switched over to their liberated weapons very quickly.  Not because it was a better weapon.  It most certainly wasn’t if you accept that the AK is the epitome of the modern day infantryman’s support role to heavy weapons.  It is a very short range ( not too much better than the old black powder muskets in terms of effective range if you need to aim the thing ) machine gun.  Granted, much better than a submachine gun using pistol ammunition.  Perhaps triple the range.  But it was designed to do nothing but spray lead.  Not for longer distance bushwhacking ( which is the preferred method of guerilla fighting ).  The switch over was for the simple fact that the ammunition for the AK was the only thing readily available for the fighters to resupply with.  In short, the weapon of choice for those experienced in wars of liberation on a tribal level ( like what you will see post-apocalypse ) was not chosen because the weapon was so good, but because the foremost consideration is for ammunition supply.
Everybody gives you advice on supplying for the collapse based on what rifle is the best.  This would be fine, if the apocalypse never happens.  But as soon as it does, the trophy for Best Toy is a useless hunk of crap.  The trophy for Best Tool To Save Your Life goes to the weapon that doesn’t run out of ammunition as quickly ( in the race to the bottom, you only need to outlast your opponent.  Remember the story of the bear and the two hunters?  “I don’t need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you” ).  Obviously you can’t use ammo use as the ONLY criteria.  But you had better use it as one of your top criteria.  Just as semi-auto’s use too much ammunition for the average survivalist, you also can’t pick the best bolt action rifle.  You must pick the one you can stock the most ammunition for.  It might not be the perfect rifle, or have the best tools for it, or even use the best ammunition.  Everything is a trade-off.  I understand that everyone refuses to compromise on their choice of a gun.  They feel their life is too valuable for that.  But if you don’t compromise, you actually put your life in MORE danger.  When catabolic collapse is just around the corner, you no longer have the luxury of waiting to save up money for the best gun.  Nor do you have time to slowly but surely stockpile ammunition.  You had better be in a rush.  If nothing bad happens, just upgrade later.  NO weapon and its ammo is a waste of money.  You can trade up by trading in, and you won’t lose any purchasing power.
This section continued tomorrow.
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1 comment:


    Sorta like a catch-all