WEAPONS AFTER ARMAGEDDON
Every once in awhile I will spray a bit of venom towards Yuppie Survivalists, perhaps at times saying something a little bit too harsh such as they are the great unwashed evil. And the blog www.survivalblog.com might come under fire. But Jim ( with a name like Jim you’ve got to be good ) does provide a valuable service. He assembles the bulk of survivalists and provides them with a forum. The amount of information these guys have available as a whole is amazing. My only personal problem with it is that most of the times it is the wrong kind of information, being of the Big Bucks kind. But by reading it every day you get those gems of useful information. Just don’t be too tight. Throw him some kind of bone to keep him in business. At least shop with his advertisers and let them know where you found them.
The latest heads up I really enjoyed was the ongoing thread about weapons after a severe collapse. The logic is that after technological and industrialized society has collapsed, what kind of weapons could be used. The detail as far as swords and bows was incredible. Metal composition, manufacturing technique, tactics, etc. was all discussed. It was very interesting. Of course by the time black powder was mentioned the discussion had pretty much run its course. That is another good thing about the blog. A moderator. Endless flame wars and petty bickering and too long of threads were the problems of the old discussion groups. Even a good one that is moderated doesn’t have the mass appeal of Jim’s blog and thus doesn’t have the meeting of minds to solve most problems.
Bows and swords are great weapons. As long as they are practiced with for a lifetime. You start young and you keep at it until you are killed. A valuable resource years in the making and needing constant practice has just been eliminated. When you need years to learn a skill and then hours a day to keep it, you are a very valuable resource. There are very few of you. You are an elite. And then you die in battle. This is very inefficient as a way to wage war. As soon as something like the crossbow was available that could be learned much quicker and didn’t need as much practice, it was readily adapted. And gunpowder allowed you to churn out soldiers in weeks. Yes, you still need to practice. At marching. That doesn’t cost much.
It is doubtful that we will ever go back to rank and file formations shooting as one to achieve a giant shotgun effect. For one thing, even primitive cannon firing grapeshot is an effective counter. Tanks can be manufactured quite crudely. And even a hand cranked black powder machine gun can disperse a formation. Plus Americans are indoctrinated with the myth of the heroic Minuteman ambushing the Redcoats from cover. No way they are going to line up for slaughter. And how many will willingly wield a sword or bow or even crossbow when black powder weapons can be made using the most primitive methods ( remember the Idaho hermit that made his own black powder rifles all from scratch? )? I wager that while interesting, the study of making or using those weapons is a waste of time.
This is even assuming that we could only make black powder muzzle loaders with flintlocks. Surely we could do better. Breechloaders. Straight cased rimmed brass ammo. Even paper cartridges. Not to mention the possibility of smokeless powder and non-corrosive primers. If primers were made in the mid 1800’s and the French made smokeless powder in the latter part of that century and the Mauser was designed before the twentieth century, doesn’t it stand to reason that it is possible to replicate some or all of that technology? Even if the national infrastructure with coal and petroleum and chemical factories and train transport was not available, couldn’t we reproduce at least some of it locally? Why would we go back to swords? The appeal of hacking at an opponent three feet away can’t match the thrill of being several hundred yards away and knowing mathematically your chances of being hit by a lead ball are pretty low.
So rather than concentrating any time or effort into learning the art of crafting swords or being able to hit anything past 25 yards with a bow, put that effort into metals and chemistry and arms making. And tactics. Did the American Indians stick with bows because they could manufacture their own? No, they bought firearms and became some of the best light shock troops seem since the Mongols. Their downfall was mostly lack of disease resistance, but also the elimination of their food source and the need to protect their camps. Keep these in mind as you plan on protecting your town or tribe. Offensive warfare, ringed defenses, arming all civilians, food storage. And have something tradable for the newest weapons or develop your own defense industry.
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