Ive been going through all my gear again for the twelve hundredth time. I have also been spending a lot of time in the woods carrying a long gun lately. This has brought up some topics that I thought I could address here.
The “mission”. First and foremost, I am a civilian. I am also a civilian that doesn’t think we are going to be invaded and have to go toe to toe with an army some day. That being said, the mission, my mission, dictates my gear. I know what my “mission” is, yours may be different.
Anymore I like to go as low profile as possible. That might mean completely hidden and wearing full camo, or that might mean having a semi-frinedly looking appearance to other people. What I have found though is that what I carry is really not normal for what everyone else says a person should carry.
When I’m out on my own, or even doing a double person scout, I go pretty light on my load out. In general, I run real light when carrying bolts and mag fed semis, If I’m lurping, I’m doing everything I can to not fire a shot and I can lurp better with a lighter load. Its not like I cant go for days with 90lbs on. I can, I’ve done it. I even liked doing it. But the level and longevity of being aware, moving quietly, focusing, observing… all that goes down when the load goes up. In general I believe that if all the planets align and you cannot avoid a fight, you should be looking for every possible way to E and E as soon as possible. But again, you’ll have less of a chance of getting into that fight if you are more fresh and better trained than the other guys.
For Team Patrolling, if I’m carrying a bolt action or scoped semi, then I’m carrying a pistol too, which can offset some of your main gun load out. I don’t see a pistol as a last chance weapon like most seem to. I see it as an alternative. Bolt wise, I consider 60 rds a good medium load. Scoped semi (in a Designate Marksman role) I like to have a minimum of 60 on tap, but usually like to see that doubled.
For stripper fed semis (SKS/M1) Its easy to carry 210rds so that’s usually what I find myself with. Mag fed carbines I actually feel good with 5 mags, but its easy enough to toss one more pouch on your gear to get to 7 for that magical 210 number that so many people standardize on. I barely go into the woods with a large capacity, mag fed, semi auto anymore though. All my numbers are loosely based on loaded mags/strippers, ready to go. I’m not a big believer in relying on loose or boxed rounds stashed away in your patrol pack. Base camp pack yes, but not tucked into your patrol gear.
As far as ammo goes, I am pretty anti-establishment on what most people deem necessary. First and foremost, AGAIN, the mission dictates it, but my rule of thumb as far as ammo is pretty simple:
For storing ammo, I say store more than you can count. If you know how much you have, you don’t have enough. That’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek thing, but I never bought into the 1000 per rifle, 500 per pistol thing. That’s maybe a good rule if you have one or two guns, but I don’t. I have multiple rifles of the same and different calibers (Mosins, PSL, ARs in 556, 9, 308…). The “rule” just doesn’t work well once you get past the one gun status. Not that its bad or wrong mind you, It is a good starting point. Once you’ve started that, you realize its not always applicable though. 762×54 is easy to stock up on, its also hard to shoot all that ammo. Even with an auto loader in that caliber, I dont go through all that much x54 in any given year, but Ive got a crap ton of ammo for it.
Conversely, If a guy had a Swiss k-31, he’d be hard pressed first to get 1000 rounds of 7.5, and he’d be even harder pressed to find a k31 that has ever been shot more than a 1000 times. Not a great example, but maybe you see what I’m getting at.
When talking about carrying ammo in the field, I yet again go against the un-wriiten rule book with this. My general rule for carrying an ammo load out (after letting the mission dictate the need), is to carry more than you will need and less than you will find burdensome. I know, I know, you never know what you are going to need, but the point is that I dont think you need to have a 400 rounds in bandoleers and or filled mags on a single day scout of an area.
Now this all kind of came up when I was out with two other guys a couple weekends ago exploring a mountain. We were more hiking than scouting, but I took note of the fact that people who dont have a pack on their shoulders and gun in their hands often, feel the stain of even a light weight pack and gun much more than a sixty year old dude that is used to humping a ten pound m1 Garand and pack every few days or weeks. Whether its a mental thing, a muscle memory thing or whatever, if you have gear that you dont normally use, you wont like it and wont want to wear it. Youve got to get out and carry that load to know what its like, how to change it to make it and thus-ly yourself, more effective.
Whatever the reason is that you have probably very similar gear to what I and many like minded people have, you have wasted your time and money if you only put it on once a year.