Wednesday, June 26, 2013

weapon devolution


WEAPON DEVOLUTION

Here at Bison Apocalypse Studies Incorporated there are many, many questions that never get satisfactorily answered and that just kind of pisses the staff off to no end.  One teaser is, how will weapons devolution work?  You don’t go from squad automatic weapons and missiles one day and then to hacking at each other with broadswords the next.  So what does that middle look like?  It is important for the individual to think about these things ( or at least, read as I think about these things ) because it is going to affect you, and to think about how this will impact governments because if your local protectors are defeated chances are good you will soon be on an overcrowded slave ship on your way to a ritual sacrifice atop a pyramid.  Let’s play pretend a second and act like all your best hopes and wishes never came true and the ammo shortage never ended but just got worse and basically what you have on hand is all that is available to you and you only have a minimum of reloading supplies.  Now you are faced with surviving the initial die-off, with no resupplies EVER and as trade freezes up you won’t even get supplies for primitive alternatives.  So that eliminates a last minute “save” of reloads or switching to black powder ( if you are not pre-supplied with the weapons you won’t be able to make them yourselves.  The Idaho mountain man dude who smelted his own ore and made his own rifles was NOT your average survivalist, no matter how much everyone wishes they could emulate him ).

*

How are things going to work out?  I have serious doubts that we will see scenarios as depicted by fiction, such as National Guard armories having a quabazillion rounds to stock a budding army, or masses of zombie like crazy dudes attacking with spears made from sticks and butcher knives duct taped on them, assaulting an implanted pillbox of square jawed super studs armed with plastic poodle shooters who quickly win the field.  Somehow what springs to my mind are masses of armed groups spaying and praying all their cute modern semi’s in fear, bloodlust or stupidity, with the bulk of them all pretty much running out of ammunition at the same time.  Then they figuratively look slack jawed at one another and wonder what the Hell they are going to do now.  Those with ammunition left after that are in one of two groups.  Those that then lose their remaining stockpile from besiegers using primitive weapons like fire or blocking the water supply, or those that keep their supply but only on an individual basis.  What we are quickly left with is a bunch of snipers at best, a few kamikaze combatants on the other hand.  Snipers, no matter how effective, don’t win wars ( they merely do much more damage with far less resources.  But in essence they are only state sponsored terrorists ).  The other group which somehow thinks their crap now doesn’t stink will go stupid trying to win a kingdom with superior technology and be defeated quickly.

*

Mass modern firepower will only win a war if the other side hasn’t changed their tactics to counter it ( the machineguns mowing down spear-chuckers was firing into a frontal charge ).  Firearms didn’t exterminate the Indians, the railroad did ( of course, firearms combined with the railroad killed the food supply of the Indians, but the railroads were essential.  The Apaches didn’t really even need guns themselves in their guerilla war as the Union soldiers were not as well resupplied as their Plains brothers ).  Smokeless powder prevailed over black powder in Cuba, but only because we were using an antiquated weapon with conventional military fighting.  And we were experiencing one of our first logistics issues of overseas resupply ( the war to Mexico had some of the same issues but that was the battle, not the war as in Cuba ).  The Conquistadors didn’t kill all those Indigenous with a few swordsmen.  Disease wiped out quite a few first. Moonshiners with shotguns were more than a match for Revenuers with any semi’s or machineguns ( did the Feds use Tommyguns? ). The point being that it isn’t as easy as having the best armed Infantryman.  There are a lot more equations.  It all comes down to logistics in who wins the war.  For some time, individual homesteads, sufficiently removed from desirable areas, can enjoy the benefits of modern arms to protect their homes, needing very few rounds.  Armies in the field are another matter.

*

The majority, from Guard units to Alphabet Soup agencies to individual shooters, mostly operate on a Just In Time Inventory basis.  Even the massive buy up scandal was mostly just increased practice/training ( gotta burn a lot in practice to actually hit those pesky Constitutionalists with bursts of M4’s ).  When the factories and/or transport from the factories halts, the ammo supply runs out quick.  And all those fighters need weapons immediately to continue fighting for the limited spoils.  Yet, as we all know, infrastructure isn’t built that quick.  And if the ammo is not available, neither are other supplies to build much of anything else.  You can’t just throw together a few thousand bows and a few tens of thousands of arrows, even with the know-how.  You need the right kind of wood to start with.  And strings a plenty, without synthetic material available.  How do you suddenly get all those feathers?  In short, weapons are like modern clothing.  Suddenly, the old stuff wears out and no one makes the stuff anymore and the nearest factory is in China with no more boats sailing.  What can you do?  I didn’t mean to tease you this whole time, but I’m still pondering on this question.  That will have to wait for part two, and that assumes I can come up with an answer.  If I don’t, just consider this to be filed under “questions rather than answers”.

END

44 comments:

  1. The Vikings made their way inland in Ireland, Britain and France via the rivers. If you dropped several large and jagged rocks, those Scandi forkers were screwed. They never went anywhere without easy access to their boats.
    Mongolians lived and died on their ponies, dig a trench full of spikes, cover it ... watch Genghis Khan rethink his strategy, or scream in agony, one or the other.
    Always use the terrain, and modifications, against the enemy.
    This is filed under hints rather than answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good hints. I'm basically asking myself, how do you survive against the other army with some guns if you don't have enough yourself?

      Delete
    2. Snares , Booby traps, pits, deadfalls etc. Many ways possible. Gas...

      Delete
    3. OK, I guess I'm just not in the mindset of fixed defences in town, envisioning more of a mobile fight.

      Delete
  2. In the type of collapse you are talking about I think lack of clean water, food, and medicine would bump people off with great regularity and be far more important than guns and ammo. You could have a gun and ammo, but if there's no clean water, food, or medicine to take by force, the weapon does not do you much good (except as a quick escape route by eating one of your own bullets). There is so little food available in most urban areas, for example, there quickly would not be anything to fight over, except of course, for the cannibals. I miss "last one in the stewpot wins!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you are correct about famine and disease, but you need to defend yourself long enough to die from them.

      Delete
  3. So your basically asking what kind of weapons we can come up with assuming.

    A. We are out of ammo and merely individuals with no resources and no knowledge of any kind of production.

    B. There is absolutely no trade at all and no grown or growing local groups that would cooperate with each other in any way.

    I think you are seriously understating the need for people to form groups for mutual protection and just how basic firearm and ammunition production really is. Any small town could start small arms production with the tools they collect from the local's basements. Simple scavenging would produce enough basic materials to produce something for a while before you would even need to actually start mining etc.

    Some areas would be screwed if there was no trade at all i guess.

    If left to nothing but cottage industry I still think single shot or black powder would be the bottom of firearm technology with hand weapons for the close in work. If you are not worried about being sued firearms can be very simple to make.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still think the primer is the weak link for all. And, no, not at first will there be cooperation. Too desperate to survive, not enough resources.

      Delete
    2. I guess we must disagree there. I am sure it's different out where you are but I believe that many small towns throughout the Midwest will ban together immediately ala "One Second After".

      I could be wrong though I guess.

      Delete
    3. I look at it this way. Most times, you don't get along with your neighbors. They are asshats, you want to shoot them but can't. Neighboring towns should be the same if not worse. I also don't think it is human nature to cooperate in the middle of severe life threatening shortages.

      Delete
  4. "The Idaho mountain man dude who smelted his own ore and made his own rifles was NOT your average survivalist, no matter how much everyone wishes they could emulate him )."

    True enough Jim. Sylvan Hart was an engineer (Though I'm not sure what kind? I'm thinking mechanical?) that knew well enough to get out of Dodge while the time was right, which was right before the great depression hit.

    "You need the right kind of wood to start with. And strings a plenty, without synthetic material available. How do you suddenly get all those feathers?"

    You're not incorrect here Jim, but there's also a lot of flexibility when it comes to archery equipment. There are many hard woods that will suffice, such as red oak, white oak, ash, yew, osage orange, hickory, Ipe, black walnut, locust, etc, and so on. A few spools of dacron will last a lifetime of bowstring making, and in a pinch, there are many substitutes that can be utilized, such as paracord. In a worst case scenario, strings can be woven from vegetable fibre, or worst case, sinew such as the Indians did. You can actually forgo the feathers if none are available. In other words, I can't think of a more effective primitive weapon to replace firearms, and that can actually still be produced once all modern manufacturing has ceased?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thinking crossbow-metal junk instead of good wood. But I need to think on it a bit too see any flaws. Perhaps the crossbow cord ( whatever it is called ) needs to be metal itself to draw metal? Don't know enough.

      Delete
    2. Re-read your Wolf and Iron. Crossbows all the way.

      Delete
    3. Ok, if I'm understanding you correctly James, you are asking if the bow part of the crossbow (aka as the Prod) is made from metal, can you still use a Dacron bow string? Well, the crossbow that I got a few years back from Sportsman's guide had a metal prod or bow, and still used a Dacron string. It's actually based on poundage, not material, and it's so many strands of Dacron (B50 generally) for a certain poundage.

      I once saw a plan that called for using a leaf spring from an auto as a prod.

      Youtube has a good many tutorials for crossbows and bows James. If you use Mozilla Firefox, and download the download helper plugin, you can save them to disk and archive them for post collapse.

      Delete
    4. Yep, you answered the correct question. I was also thinking of the leafspring. From Kurt Saxon, I believe.

      Delete
    5. Russel- I like the crossbow NOT because it is the best, but because it is the most practical. Built with junk, easy training, easier to mass produce.

      Delete
  5. The thing with technological superiority is the big guys can have all the strike fighters, helicopter gunships and drones all they want, but they aren't worth a toss sat on the ground and pilots don't come cheap or just walk in off the streets.

    Long range desert patrol successfully used tactics of 3 jeeps with 4 man teams, drive straight down the middle of the runway with a guy on MG, a driver and 2 sat at the back throwing grenades and straight through the fence at the other end under cover of darkness, against German airfields during WWII.

    Open moorland isn't conducive to vehicles and troops tend to stick to trails as if they step off them they sink up to their necks in a peat bog and not slowly either, and without air support, troops are just a walking target. See the Falklands or the German Paratroop invasion of Crete, they had their arses hand to them on a plate.

    Not only that, I have the full box set on DVD of both Rambo and and Die hard, so sorted for tactics for any eventuality...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is amazing the amount of material we now use to kill low tech enemies. Course, war is really just for the health of the state so that is intentional.

      Delete
  6. I'd imagine the general devolution to occur as such:
    1. In any collapse/restructuring of power scenario there will be tons of ammo expended as people go all willy-nilly on the trigger to deal with the short term "this problem is in my face NOW" without thinking about the long term consequences.
    2. Eventually ammo levels will fall to the point where any chieftain/warlord/county king will "appropriate" the remainder for the "common defense/good" and only the regime's Army will be allowed ammo.
    3. As THAT ammo is used up you'll the introduction of more arrow based projectile weapons (and probably pike infantry, as a length of wood with an iron tip is a hell of a lot cheaper to make and equip the ignorant peasants with, than smelting everyone their own sword or turning everyone into an archer). Think Renaissance Era armies where only a small portion of the units on the field were equipped with firearms, say 30% tops.
    4. After that, who knows. If you go full stop down the devolution path I could see ammo becoming so rare that A) there are no working firearms left that could use it, so it is useless or B) it is not used and kept only as a symbol of power. Or, eventually, someone would figure out how to make paper cartridge based blackpowder ammo and maybe firearms stabilize out at the early 1800's tech level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay, so we just need a better background on those Renaissance era battle formations. Makes sense.

      Delete
    2. the 1632 series by john ringo (free online from Baenebooks.com 'freelibrary', can be sent to your kindle) has the reverse an evolution (thanks to untapped resources) from late renaissance era tactics toward a more civil war era, I am pretty certain that we will see the organized warfare ending somewhere between there, but the personal use of powder is going to take quite a while to recover (several generations at a guess) as artillery is a more efficent use of it, in the meantime armies will have 'snipers' with smokeless powder cartridge weapons, and semi trained 'musketters' with black powder bayonett weapons supporting whatever can be drummed up spearlike to arm the peasants with, if enough horses make it through the elite shock troops will be mounted for faster travel, but charges against massed troops will be rare if they have long spears and black powder (as horses will be more expensive than in the past).
      But for personal self and home defense you will be forced to use what ever you can.
      I wonder about leafspring bows (instead of crossbows, faster to fire).

      -Grey

      Delete
    3. Renaissance era battle formations are a lot more difficult to pull off than people realize. The Scotts at Flodden (1513) were using the new fangled Swiss Pikeman tactics, and got clobbered by the old style English Army (I think it was the last to field large groups of Longbow, and oddly enough it was wet so they weren't very effective for a change) because the Swiss discipline and training was insanely difficult to copy.

      Delete
    4. I think the pike formations would be a smaller unit in the future, only growing as the threat of calvary did. Specialized units, so less resources to field. Before, you had the horsed knights to immediately deal with. In future, less mounted men. At least at first.

      Delete
    5. Grey-leafspring bow? Is that possible to draw?

      Delete
    6. If it can be used as a crossbow then SOMEONE can draw it, unless it is so heavy a draw it requires a long ratcheting crank mechanism (possible but s-l-o-w on the battlefield - thus the prvelance of archers for centuries).
      If it cant be drawn it could always be converted to crossbow at that point.
      So, now I need to go find a leaf spring or the like and buy a couple of spools of 'bow string' and start experimenting.

      -Grey

      Delete
    7. I guess I'm picturing a thick band of steel. Thin enough, like NOT a leaf spring, and I can see possibilities. I wonder how it compares to wood or composites. Don't forget to report!

      Delete
  7. Yes , without supply armies do not move, and without a working economy and infrastructure our military will not last long.
    Hunker down in an area which is difficult for others to access. Such as in our case once we are in there the road will be made impassable by vehicle and quite hazardous to foot travel.
    Our back door escape hatch is the St. Johns and water. Not likely for anyone approaching from the water side as it is tens of miles to the next burg (fuel will be short disallowing that)
    Many, many scenarios that one must envision.
    I be that Idaho Mtn. Mans great grandson he he, and yup I could build a gun from scratch, but wouldn't probably bother a bow would be much easier and every bit as effective as BP guns.
    I really pity those that are just coming aware.
    They haven't the thirty some years I've had preparing and stuffing my head with crapola that needs knowing. Even then I probably don't stand a chance of lasting long....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hell, I feel like I just keep finding new things I don't know about

      Delete
    2. Don't feel alone James, even though I've been playing this game for a long, long time. There never becomes a shortage of new things to learn. In fact this is one of many reasons life is so grand, ya just can't ever know it all. Yet you can certainly try !
      On the primer question...Why not forgo the primer and just insert a simple electrical element activated with a switch and Ni-cad. Just a matter of replacing the primer with the coil and making external contact points. Somewhat the same process that the Electra BP rifle uses , only this could be done with a cartridge as well. Bit of jury rigging yet I can picture the possibilities.

      Delete
    3. The e-primer was touched on in my improvised primer book. I just wonder why it either wasn't commercialized or perfected and taught through survivaist books. Is it practical?

      Delete
  8. I don't think the devolution is as clean as "we all run out together". One army always wins and to the victor go the spoils (albeit less and less with each victory). As the warlord sees his poodle shooter .223 ammo depleting he knows that he needs to supplement to win the next battle. Enter the hodge podge army. Some still have the remaining .223 weapons. Others are armed with hunting rifles. As that ammo winds down a few figure out that you can seal off the action end of the barrel and use it as a black powder muzzle loader weapon. There will always be small scale black powder production from humanure so that supply never really runs out but many will be reduced to archery at that point. So the end game is a patchwork, archers, black powder, remaining modern weapons with cannons and catapults providing artillery.

    My two cents,
    Novice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mostly agree. The "running out together" is in a general sense, like in one time period. As in, last year the last of the ammo was mostly all used up. Mostly, as in firearms were no longer the PRIMARY battlefield weapon.

      Delete
  9. Without access to mercury to make primers/percussion caps, you're restricted to flintlocks. Firefox 5 has a good section on that.

    You don't need to smelt iron, there are a bazillion miles of railroad tracks literally lying around made from a much higher grade of steel than can be hand forged.

    Crossbows? Leaf springs from cars/trucks. The hard part there would be to thin both sides evenly to set the desired pull weight. And if bolts (crossbow arrows) are an issue, one can enlarge the track they ride on to accept rocks, a/k/a the Roman ballista.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get Firefox 1-6. Invaluable stuff like making shoes. Avoid 7-12 ( or is it 13? ). Total crap, waste of money, mostly singing and crap.

      Delete
    2. You meant Fox Fire right ?

      Delete
  10. Russell/Cat has boiled down into nothingness what I believe is the perfect 21st century survivor creed.

    "Fast collapse = hide really, really well.

    Slow collapse = to avoid starvation, keep expenses low, and keep your day job for as long as you possibly can, and hope you die of old age (which has happened to many of the 70s survival types) before anything worse happens."

    Also gen 1 night vision is pretty cheap and much superior to da Mark 0 eyeball night vision.

    Gil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mostly make fun of the latest and greatest night vision/thermal imagining three grand doo-dads. I haven't priced any Gen1 lately. I'll just take your word for it as far as cost. I can see, perhaps, a monocal type. Use it occassionally. The goggles suck though. Heavy, complicated, limited use ( of course, I was using real old stuff in the military WAY back when- about when you were ). I just hate relying on yet another non-duplicatable 21st Century technology long term.

      Delete
  11. Probably the smart Warlords, when they see their ammo drawing down, will keep it for their bodyguard unit and for defending their important towns.

    I just don't see many "armies" on the move when things go dark. Not enough fuel for armored cars, let alone real military armor like a Bradley, and not enough horses for real Calvary units.

    And pulling heavy artillery by hand, even with slaves, won't work.

    And most First Worlders are not going to be fit enough to fight on foot.

    MICoyote


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And those warlords should be smart enough to bribe outlaying mobile nomads to bear the brunt of initial attacks by being a buffer.

      Delete
  12. Nothing wrong with relying on something when you remember that it's a stepping stone to get from point A to point B.

    My kids received a cheap night vision toy from Grandpa. It works pretty slick. I'm sure it's waaaaay below quality wise what cost thousands of dollars but I can see pretty good in the dark with it.

    Don't fall into the trap where you refuse to use things that can help you just because you won't have access to it forever.

    Idaho Homesteader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK! Fine! Crumble, mumble, good point.

      Delete
  13. Im betting there are more horses in America now than there has ever been. If they don't all get eaten, cavalry might be a real option

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Calvary will be limited in ag land as the fodder competes with people food. Only natural grasslands afford large groups. Nazis used 3million horses, most died from lack of food eventually. And that wasn't even well fed like calvary needs.

      Delete