One of the biggest concerns that most preppers have, besides running out of food and water, is protecting their home and family. The general consensus of opinion is that there will be hungry gangs attacking homes, in the aftermath of any major, nationwide disaster. Considering the small percentage of our population which is actually prepared for a disaster, that's not an unreasonable assumption. Hunger makes people desperate and desperate people do desperate things.
This is one of the things that has fed the boon in firearm sales over the last few years. Granted, the majority of those sales have been driven by the anti-gun crowd, but amongst those of us who are truly paying attention to the condition of our country, the number two driver of firearm sales is the risk of having to face that hungry mob.
But preparing for that requires more than just buying guns and ammo. You'd better do lots of practice with those guns, so that you are ready to use the at a moment's notice. When the time comes, you're going to have to shoot fast and shoot accurately. You're probably going to be outnumbered, so you'd better be good.
There's one other thing you're going to need; that's to buy time. Even if it is only a few minutes, you need to be able to slow down that mob and keep them under your sights, where you have a chance of taking them out. You need for your home to be prepared to keep them out so that you can defend your home.
Before Going any Further
Before we slap a magazine into our guns and start blazing, let's make sure we've got our heads screwed on straight. Some people act like they think that any major disaster is going to cause a total breakdown of law and order. Without the rule of law, they'll be able to do whatever they decide to do, including killing others.
There's a name for people like that; they're called criminals. Just because there's a disaster doesn't mean that the law no longer exists. Just because others are acting like the law doesn't exist, doesn't mean that you and I have a right to do the same. While the police and the courts may not catch up right away with every criminal act that happens during such a time; you can be sure that they will eventually. So, we want to make sure that whatever we do, it's within the bounds of what the law allows.
That varies from state to state, so make sure that you understand the laws about self-defense in your state. More than anything, you need to understand what it says are permissible ground to use deadly force in your own defense and whether the castle doctrine is in effect in your state.
Breaking the law to defend yourself could just mean a delay in punishment. Great, you manage to defend yourself from the hungry mob, but now you're subject to the law. So you end up in jail, where the hungry mob has the opportunity to have revenge on you. Not a great option.
One other little detail that I feel I need to mention here. That is, it's basically illegal to use traps and bombs anywhere in the United States. You will be held liable by the law for any injury sustained by an attacker, if they are harmed by a trap that you set. It's just as if you were holding it in your hand. So, make sure that any such devices can only hurt those who are clearly bent on hurting you and your family.
Plan the Fight
In order to properly plan your defenses, you have to plan how you are going to fight. In other words, you need to have a pretty good idea of the various ways that enemies can come at your home, how you will know that they intend to do you harm and how you will respond to their theoretical moves. Don't limit yourself to just one scenario, try to figure out every possibility. I guarantee you, they will come up with a way that you haven't thought of, so the more ways you think of, the closer you will come to what they actually do.
The enemy will have two, perhaps three advantages. Those are:
- They can pick the time of the attack to try and catch you off guard.
- They will probably outnumber you.
- They will probably not be concerned about the law (due to being desperate).
To counter that, you only have one advantage, that of being in a fixed place. Actually, that's not much of an advantage and at times can be a real disadvantage. That is, unless you have your fixed position fortified to be defensible. Then it's an advantage.
That's why you need to plan the fight; you want to take away their advantages, so that you ultimately have a greater chance of winning the fight. That's possible, if you can set things up right.
You've got a bit of a problem, as far as the law is concerned. That is, the law allows you to use deadly force for self-defense. In order to do that, you must be in "imminent danger of life and limb." That's the key phrase the courts and lawyers use. So, you can't use a sniper rifle to hit someone that's 200 yards away, walking down the street to attack your home. Unless they have started shooting from that far away, you have no proof that you are in imminent danger. You have to wait for them to make their intentions clear.
The usual litmus test that is used in court is that the attacker is in your home, with a weapon in their hands, facing you and expressing their intent to do you harm. There's only one problem with that. You might be able to fight one or two people who burst into your home with guns in their hands, but there's no way that you can do that with a hungry mob. Their superior numbers will overcome you, no matter how good a shot you are.
One of the most effective military tactics is the ambush. It combines surprise with massed firepower, all placed in such a way as to prevent the enemy from being able to fight back effectively and maximizing the amount of death and destruction in the kill zone.
The basic idea of the ambush is to select a place where you want the enemy to get to and arrange all your forces so that the maximum firepower reaches the enemy, in that location, at the same time.
Typically, ambushes are set to catch a military unit moving from one place to another. But they can also be set in a fixed location, such as your front yard. The reason for doing that is a combination of the law and the practical limits of defensive fire. If you wait too long, such as until they are in your home, you won't be able to shoot fast enough to stop them from killing you.
Practically speaking, you probably can't get away with saying that they are a threat to you, until they cross your property line and are on your property. They'll also have to make their intentions clear, either by what they say, by brandishing their weapons in a menacing way or by shooting. But once they've done that, your actions can be justified as self-defense.
Keep in mind that we're talking a mob here. Let's say at least ten people, or even six. Your being outnumbered is what gives you the right to carry the fight outdoors. It's also what justifies setting up an ambush.
So, if they have to cross your property line for you to legally say they're an imminent threat and you don't want them to get into your home, taking away your only advantage, that means your ambush has to happen somewhere in your front yard. Everything you do in setting up your defenses should be done with the aim of setting up an ambush in your front yard.
A typical layered defense forces the attackers to fight to make it past each layer. If you look at the old forts and castles, you'll see that there was an outer defense works where the defenders could hide to attack the approaching enemy. As the enemy gained that position, the defenders would fall back to another, and another, for as many layers of defenses they had.
The other thing that the layered defense did was cause the enemy to move in a certain way. They couldn't ignore the outermost defenses, because doing so would make their flanks vulnerable to attack. So, the designers of those defenses would lay them out in such a way as to cause the attackers to put themselves in a vulnerable position in overcoming one layer of defenses and in moving from there to the next layer.
This works wonderfully well when you have a lot of space to work with. Unfortunately, unless you are out in some rough country somewhere, you probably can't do that. About all you've got to work with is your front yard and your home. That makes two layers. But since the attackers need to step foot on your property, before you can call them a threat, you really can't set up defensive positions along the perimeter.
However, you can use your perimeter for the second purpose I mentioned, that of getting the enemy into a vulnerable position. If you are going to ambush them, you need something to get them to walk into your kill zone. Otherwise, you can be sure that they'll find a different way to come; one in which you can't fight them effectively.
Setting Up Your Perimeter
Fortunately, you're not fighting trained, disciplined troops, so you can use your perimeter effectively. To start with, you need to understand a little trick of psychology. That is, when faced with multiple ways to go, almost everyone will pick the easiest way. So, you give them an easy way to approach your house, while making everything else difficult.
If you have a wrought iron fence around your front yard, it's going to be hard to get through. But the open gate will be extremely easy to get through. So, they will pick the gate and walk right up your front walkway. The exact same thing works with having a hedge around your front yard (and the hedge is cheaper).
So the purpose of your perimeter defense is to channel the attackers into your ambush kill zone. For most homes, that means getting them to walk up your front walkway, towards your front door. This will seem logical to them, as the front door is the most common point of entry that criminals use. That works to your advantage as well, as while they are on your front walkway, they are under your guns.
The other thing you want to do with your perimeter is to keep them on your front walkway. In other words, you don't want them to come through the gate and spread out across your front yard, or try to get around to the sides of the house. So, make it difficult for them to do that.
You can make it difficult for them to leave the walkway by extending the hedge alongside it (assuming you are using a hedge) or by placing booby traps on either side of the walkway. Pits, with stakes in them, make nice traps. As does broken glass or caltrops. These methods have been used for centuries to force attackers to come at a defensive position in a certain direction. A more natural method might be to plant cactus on either side of the walkway.
If you are going to use these methods, make sure that you do enough to keep them from just stepping through them or jumping over them. You'll need a swath at least six feet wide, on both sides of the pathway, to keep them there.
Another good place to booby trap is under windows, so that if anyone tries to get through a window, they'll have an unpleasant surprise waiting for them.
The other thing you want to incorporate in the entryway is some sort of alarm to let you know that someone has breached the perimeter. This can be a laser alarm, setting off a buzzer inside the house or something low tech, like a trip wire. Either way, it needs to be loud enough to warn you, but not so loud that they hear it too.
You can buy commercially manufactured caltrops, but they are a bit expensive; especially to get enough to do any good. However, if you have a welder and a grinder, you can make your own fairly easily.
The caltrop consists of four points, each of them spaced so that no matter how the device falls, one is always pointed straight up. In medieval times, blacksmiths would make these by the thousands. They were one of the most effective defenses against a cavalry charge, as they were hard to see in the grass and would cripple a horse that stepped on them.
To make your own caltrops, you'll need 16 or 20 penny framing nails. Each caltrop needs two nails. Cut the heads off the nails and grind a point on that end, so that you have a short piece of stiff wire, with points on both ends.
Next, bend the nails at the middle, to form a 130 degree angle. I usually do them in pairs when I'm making them, placing them in a vice together and then hitting them with a hammer. I have a gauge I've made, which I can hold up to them in the vice to see if they are bent far enough.
Place two of the bent nails together, so that the inside of the bend is up against each other and clamp it there. This is actually the hardest part of the operation. I've been trying to come up with a good jig for this, but haven't come up with anything yet that isn't more trouble than it's worth. With the nails clamped together, weld them where they cross.
Remove the caltrop from the clamp and examine it, bending it as necessary to ensure that no matter which way it falls, there is a point up. Even though it is welded, it should still be possible to bend it with hand strength alone.
Now repeat that several hundred times more and you'll have a good collection of caltrops to use.
Hardening Your Home
Once you've arranged for the attackers to come down your front walkway, you want to stop them there. You don't want them to be able to get in your front door. In this, we need to turn away from conventional wisdom, as what conventional wisdom says isn't enough.
Conventional wisdom tells us to put a deadbolt on our front door, screws in our sliding patio door track and lock our windows. The only problem with that is that the bad guys can break through any of those. A booted foot has no problem breaking through a deadbolted door; not because the door is weak or the deadbolt is weak, but because the doorframe is weak.
Hardening The Front Door
Keeping people from kicking in the front door is easily solved by installing what is known as a security door striker. The door striker is the little piece of metal that the door latch hits, when you close it. You should have two of these, one for the door lock and another for the deadbolt. But, they are rather small and installed with short screws. So, when that booted foot comes along, it breaks them out, along with the part of the door frame they are attached to.
Commercial security door striker plates are longer, about a foot long. They make the door frame stronger by spreading the force of the kick out over a larger area. We can improve upon that by making our own, which spread the force of the kick out over about three feet.
This homemade security striker plate covers the existing plates. You can see the door striker plate sticking out from under it. That's the bottom hole. It's made of 1" wide by 1/8" thick steel strap, so it's not going to break very easily. It's also mounted to the door frame with 3 1/2" long screws, which go through the door frame and well into the structural wood behind it. It's going to take a lot more than a booted foot to get through that.
The other side of the door has the hinges on it. These are also installed with short screws, so if the door frame doesn't break on the latch side, it might on the hinge side. We can fix that by replacing the hinges with security hinges and installing them with the same 3 1/2" screws.
This is a security hinge. It has a tab sticking out which goes into a hole on the other leaf of the hinge, making something like a mini-deadbolt. That may not seem like much, but remember, there are three of them on the door and the hinge is installed with longer screws.
About the only other part of the door that is easily broken is the widow, assuming there is a window in it. That can be taken care of by doing the same thing that is done to secure your home's windows.
One other device you may want to consider adding to your front door is what is known as a door club. This attaches to the bottom of the door and works something like a deadbolt, going into the floor. That makes it extremely strong, as well as being hard for any attackers to reach and remove. Since it is fairly new, the attackers may not even know what it is.
Windows are a problem, in that they are made of glass. Since glass breaks so easily, attackers can always break through them to gain access to your home. That is, unless you make it hard enough for them to break through, that you have time to get there and stop them.
Some people suggest replacing the glass in your windows with Plexiglas to make them stronger. That will work to some extent, but it's an expensive way of making your windows stronger, and still won't be strong enough to meet your needs.
There are two basic ways of making windows hard to break through. The first and best is to install burglar bars. These wrought iron structures attach to the brickwork of the home or through the siding to the structural members of the home, making it impossible to fit through the window, even if they break one out. About the only way you can get through one of these is to hook a pickup truck up to the bars with a chain and yank them off.
The problem with burglar bars is that they are custom made to your home, which makes them rather expensive. However, if you truly want to secure your windows, that's the way to go.
The other method to secure windows is to use window security film. This plastic film is much like the window tint film that is used, except that it is clear and a whole lot thicker. The film is installed on the inside of the windows and works much like the inner layer in a car's windshield. Although it will still be possible to break the window, albeit much harder, the glass will stay in place unless it is broken out all the way around. That takes time, giving you a chance to react.
Sliding Patio Door
A sliding patio door is the biggest security nightmare there is. Being glass, it's like a big window. The conventional wisdom only helps keep the door frame in place, it doesn't stop them from breaking it. So, that attacking mob can still get into your home.
The best thing to do with a sliding patio door is to replace it with a conventional door, which can be secured in the same way as the front door. But a lot of people like having that glass door, so that they can keep an eye on their children playing in the backyard. I understand that.
Since the sliding patio door is glass, it must be treated like a window. That means installing burglar bars or security window film on it. The same shop that makes the burglar bars for your other windows can make a sliding or swinging gate to go over your sliding patio door. Then, you'll have a very secure door.
Defending Your Home
With your perimeter built and your home hardened, the rest is up to you. This is where you and your family are going to have to take up arms in defense of your home. I'd recommend having every family member trained in the use of firearms and that you fight as a team. Don't try and be Rambo and do it by yourself. That makes you too easy a target. Give them more targets to confuse them. That confusion will cause them to delay and to miss.
If your home has a brick facade, then that's enough to stop pretty much all handgun rounds. But it won't stop rifle rounds. In order to do that, you'll either need body armor, 1/4" thick hard steel plates mounted in the walls, or sandbags.
Sandbags are the old standby used to stop bullets. The average home's structure can support a three foot high wall of sandbags, one foot thick. That means that you could actually build firing positions of sandbags under all your windows to protect your family. As long as you kept your bodies under the window ledge, all that would be exposed is your head. While still vulnerable, most people would have trouble hitting a head sized target in such a situation.
When the bad guys come, you should try to talk them out of attacking you, before shooting. But once they fire the first shot, let loose with everything you've got. Don't hesitate. At that point, they've opened the ball and it's time to dance. Make your ambush as effective as possible by raining as much lead down on them as you can.
Pay particular attention to any leaders that you are able to identify. The leaders will be telling others what to do and are most likely going to be the ones who cuss at you and tell you to give them your food, before the shooting starts. They will also probably fire the first shot. If you can take out the leaders, there's a good chance that the rest will flee.Your purpose is to stop the attack, nothing more. So, when they flee, let them go. If you shoot one of them in the back, while they are running away, the law will see it as murder. As long as they are a threat, you can shoot; but you and your family need to be disciplined enough to stop, when they are no longer a threat to you.