The threat condition in this country is not good and may become worse. Here is what you need to get without delay.

by Ward Archer

We all know the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. About a week ago, as of this writing, Americans witnessed an event that should have echoed like a hammer blow to the collective forehead of the nation. It was a moving snapshot, a burning spotlight shining on the dangerous and lawless times in which we are now living.

Texas National Guard troops, standing watch along a border fence in El Paso, Texas, looked uncertain, helpless, and utterly overwhelmed as over 100 foreign nationals pulled down a section of makeshift fencing and razor wire between them, jostling and shoving out of the way the servicemen tasked with protecting our sovereign land. It was a depressing scene and an outright disgrace to see U.S. soldiers unable to defend our country’s border.

Yet, this is only an infinitesimal example of an escalating invasion that has led to over nine million unvetted foreign nationals illegally entering our country through fiscal years 2021 to February 2024 alone. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency notes that of these, over 6,261,000 were single adults — not individuals in a family unit, accompanied minors, and not unaccompanied children.

The hard data are mind-blowing.

We’re not here to debate the migrant issue, only to put into practical perspective the ramifications this unsecure border insanity and the general abandonment (wanton, willful, or otherwise) of our many state and federal laws by the very institutions whose reason for existence is to enforce said laws — the “laws of the land” that most of us have always understood and cherished and that are intended to ensure the good health of our constitutional republic.

For some time now — and with alarming acceleration in recent months — we have heard reports of increasing violence: home invasions, carjackings, murder, mini-riots, (setting aside the mega-riots we saw in 2020), armed robberies…the list is long. That our judicial system in many areas and cities around the country refuses to prosecute criminal actors and instead loosens them back into society to commit the same crimes over and over is enough to cause our trust in “the system” to collapse entirely.

Perhaps that is the point.

Add to this the outright ignoring of our Constitutional and the enumerated rights intended to ensure a vibrant and just society as well as, most importantly, the liberty of the citizens.

Take, as just one of many examples, the bald-faced Constitutional violation of the Protect Illinois Communities Act that went into effect January 1 of this year. If you haven’t heard of this and want to shock your system by seeing what the state of Illinois now deems to be illegal or regulated “assault weapons,” just read the “Assault Weapon Identification Guide” put together by the Illinois State Police. As you will see, most of the guns we have, use, or should have for personal and home protection are found in this guidance.

This is just one of many examples of Constitutional violations. How do the 2nd Amendment foes get away with enacting such legislation? They just do it. If a court of appeals slaps it down, then they try it again, and again, and again, attempting to wear down the enemy (us) in the long run while disrupting constitutional rights and commerce in the short term.

Now, we are in the midst of what promises to be the most acrimonious political drama ever witnessed since the founding of this nation. Values are aligned, and each side is locked in a cobra-and-mongoose death struggle, fangs and teeth gnashing in a dusty brawl from which only one will emerge.

Things are already bad. Are you prepared for them to get even worse?

Taking the lessons learned (hopefully) from what we saw in 2020 and the accelerated devolving of the rule of law and judicial integrity combined with the rise in violent crime marked over the last three to four years, here is what we suggest you buy right now if you don’t already have them.

An AR-15

The number of AR-15s owned by American civilians counts in the millions. Most of our readers probably own one, if not multiple, variants of this proven defensive rifle platform. If you don’t, you need to correct that situation pronto.


The reason for this article is to raise awareness that we are soon likely to enter a new phase of personal defense. Where once our concern centered around the individual criminal assaulting our persons and property, the bad guys seemed to have upped the ante. Two, three, or more perpetrators can and should be anticipated in home invasions or business assaults. The AR-15 provides the accuracy potential, the terminal performance, and the round count to best deal with multiple threats.

This becomes especially important for those living in the suburban outskirts or in rural areas. Consider the most recent thing — crime tourism — wherein suspected illegal aliens from certain South American countries (largely Chile and Columbia) work in gangs to burgle affluent suburban homes. Faced with multiple assailants in areas with a reduced law enforcement density, the home defender will find the AR-15 an elegant solution for protecting oneself and one’s family.

Then, of course, there is the distinct possibility of general civil breakdown in some areas of the country — the suburbs of our larger cities to be exact. We saw a minor glimpse of this four years ago as roving, riotous mobs moved through residential areas to intimidate and cause destruction. It is within the scope of possibility that the end of this year could see the same, only worse, given the ideological passions in motion. Law enforcement seemed unable to keep the lawless actors under control the last time. Now, with LE resources stretched even further than before (recall the “defund the police” movement), the wise and prudent citizen should prepare to go it alone.

Combine all of this with the unrelenting efforts of elements throughout our state and federal governments to outright ban and make illegal our best choice in defensive carbines and you can see why we recommend buying an AR-15 without delay. If you already have one — perhaps an AR of the modern sporting rifle configuration — consider a second. Our choice would be a no-frills model that is well-built from a respected manufacturer and priced on the lower end of the spectrum.

Several AR manufacturers, like Rock River Arms, produce a broad range of AR-platform carbines and rifles ideally suited for primary or backup service. The RRAGE carbine is a perfect choice for the first-time AR owner. The Picatinny rail upper will accommodate an open sight system, should you prefer a minimalist configuration, or allow for a red dot or low power variable optic (LPVO).

Operationally, a standard MILSPEC carbine or rifle with an A2 or A4 open sight system is our recommendation. This is a firearm that will perform reliably under the most challenging conditions, isn’t burdened by aftermarket doodads that can get in the way or fail, and can be discreetly stashed for long-term storage or emergency use.

If you are new to the AR-15 scene, you must spend time with it. The AR does present a learning curve in order for the new user to become fluent and competent in its operation before a crisis hits. When your life is on the line, you can’t afford to fumble because you haven’t become intimately familiar with operating the platform.

One freshly published book we recommend for the new or experienced AR-15 owner is Firearms Illustrated Manuals – The AR-15. Available in print or Kindle versions, this book is a straight-to-the-facts presentation of everything you need to know about the operation, deployment, maintenance, and support of the AR. As the title implies, the book is heavily illustrated with quality photography and step-by-step guidance for operating, cleaning, shooting, zeroing, and even includes detailed steps for those who may want to build their own AR.

A Defensive Shotgun

Long before the AR-15 entered the scene, the shotgun stood as the most practical long arm for home defense. Although limited in round count compared to an AR-15, the shotgun is easy to wield, simple in operation, and perfectly suited for close-quarter engagement in and around the homestead.

When we talk of a defensive shotgun, the focus is on either a pump-action or semi-auto variant with a short, 18.5-inch barrel. The action type is a matter of personal choice. Some argue for the manual operating pump, which leaves nothing to chance in the cycle of operation, while others give the nod to the faster cycle rate of a semi-auto.

The shorter barrel length is optimal for defensive use because engagements will typically be close, and the cylinder bore in an 18.5-inch barrel offers good #00 buckshot delivery well beyond what is the typical defensive range.

As with the AR-15, we recommend a minimalist defensive shotgun configuration to keep things simple. Many people favor adding a tactical light to their shotgun, and we can’t argue with that. A light coupled with a high-visibility open sighting system, such as those offered by HiViz or XS Sights, will provide a solid platform that is highly functional yet not overburdened with unnecessary accessories. Add a sling and you’re good to go.

Another aspect of a defensive shotgun is that it’s a low-cost buy-in. You can get the proven Mossberg 500 or 590 and the Remington 870 in the $400s, and imported makes from the likes of Stoeger, Tokarev, Escort, MAC, and others for even less. Buds Gunshop has a pile of defensive shotguns that will meet any budget.

Get Ammunition

We’re not going to start any fires here. If you want to explore the many rumors, speculations, and ignorant guesstimations of what the state of ammunition availability may be in the coming months, the YT universe will give you any answer that fits your perspective or preconceived fancies.

Here’s what we will say: “Remember 2020 and plan for a repeat.”

Right now…today…is the time to buy your bulk. If you can swing it, a 1,000-round case of M193 or M855 Winchester is the ideal starter stash for your defensive AR. Places like Target Barn currently lists these for $519.99 and $584.95, respectively.

On the shotgun side, 2 3/4-inch #00 buckshot has been, is, and probably always will be your best defensive load option. A 250-round case should be the goal, but a quick Internet search shows the pickings to be slim at the moment. At the least, we recommend you start buying what you can wherever you can find it — a couple boxes this week, a couple more next week, and so on — until you have a comfortable quantity on hand. Try to stay with the same manufacturer and model so you need not worry about mixing up ammo in an emergency.

Of course, we should all already have our defensive handguns lined up. Which one is going to be your primary go-to if it all goes sideways? The 9mm? The .45 Auto? You must determine the appropriate quantity. Just understand that in the worst of the worst-case conditions, the long guns — ARs or shotguns — will be your primary defensive weapons. Allocate your limited resources to supporting your primary arms versus secondary arms accordingly.

Ballistic Armor

We’ll call ballistic armor an “optional must-have” because it really is special situation gear. No matter how light and accommodating today’s concealable soft armor has become, it simply isn’t practical for most of us to wear 24/7.

If you are a route driver or someone who must interface with the public in areas where you cannot control where you go, then integrating soft armor into your daily wear makes sense. It is also a smart option for extended road trips or anytime travel requirements take you out of your home range (where you know the areas and places to avoid).

These are daily considerations. Now, forecast a worst-case scenario. Riotous, violent mobs are on the streets (again, recall 2020), police response is not possible, and you are faced with stand-your-ground or retreat. You and your family have just enough time to prepare for what’s coming. In either case — fight or flight — body armor is going to be a priceless asset. You don’t have to wear it all the time, but when you need it, you’ll be glad you have it.

A couple sources for wearable ballistic armor that we recommend include National Body Armor and RTS Tactical. Check out our review and testing of NBA’s VIP T-Short Concealable Enhanced Multi-Threat armor system here.

Get Ready

Mindful folk appreciate Santayana’s truth that, “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” It is a sound lesson in human nature and, unfortunately, human folly. If the last few years have shown us anything it is that humanity is perpetually doomed to repeat its mistakes. Should fortune shine on us, 2024 will not parallel the dystopian misery of 2020, but I’m not going to bet the farm on it. Are you?

Ward Archer
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