Instant Response Set Up – A Suggestion

We’ve all got our SHTF set ups and they most likely include, our harness, our multitude of ammo and mags, and the kitchen sink.  And, if we’ve done it right, we’ve bought the highest quality we can afford, meaning it might not be ‘Top Shelf’ equipment, but it’s not going to fall apart with rough use, either.

One thing that many don’t have is an “instant Response Kit” that might entail basic NPT* member requirements for, say, 24 to 48 hours in the event of an imminent threat or actual attack.  In essence, a ‘grab and go’ set up that will see you through the initial stages of a ‘bad thing’ until you can either get your standard SHTF existence load and equipment.  Necessarily so, this equipment won’t be at the top line of expenditures, either, and surplus equipment might be the way to go.

So, for discussion, what might that look like?

Again, this set up should be of reasonable quality to be used in scenario based training and the real McCoy if necessary, but would only have an expected life that would be much more protracted than the really good stuff you’ve made your ‘SHTF I’m not coming back’ set up from.

This example is for an AR set up because it’s ubiquitous, and these days, really inexpensive to get a decent copy.  So….you 7.62NATO fans are going to have to find something similar that takes your mags and spare ammo, if you decide to go with the concept.

Now nothing says your ‘instant response’ or “IR” set up can’t actually BE your SHTF set up, so long as it meets the criteria.  If you’ve got your current SHTF set up in modules, where you can easily pick up something and leave some other thing behind instantly, than you may be good to go.  That means what you might consider  ‘Line 1’ items must be contained in the set up.  Pistol, spare mags, knife, mini-survival kit have to be on it, unless you actually have them already in your pants/on your person when you grab the IR kit.

Remember, the definition I’m going to use here for an ‘IR Kit’ means exactly that:  INSTANT RESPONSE.  No sorting, no digging through stuff, no anything save grabbing your AR and your IR Kit and going out the door.

The IR Kit is comprised of 2 modules that include anything determined to be necessary to operate independently of a support base/group for up to 72 hours maximum that when donned, needs nothing added to complete the set up.

Module 1:  Zero’d AR with one full magazine – it should be painted to break up the shape and outline, with a pallet of colors that match most conditions of your area.

Example of camouflaged AR – outline broken up; does not stand out

Module 2:  IR Kit consisting of the following components:


  • Harness:  Suggested is the USGI Gen II LBV.  Why a surplus USGI 2nd Gen?  Because A: it’s cheap.  Mine cost me $13 shipped.  B:  Because it is versatile enough to haul your required gear/weapons/support with the addition of a USGI web belt that’s also ‘soooper cheep,’ and C: because it’ll hold 8 mags or 6 mags if you use one pouch for ‘stuff’ (jury’s out on that right now due to balance – time will tell).  To keep costs down, I’m also using spares I’ve got on hand so the dollar outlay is as little as possible.  For those of you who might not have spares, remember your local garage sales and flea markets.  New isn’t what you’re after – ‘serviceable’ is what you need.  In fact, a bit faded is good.  So, look for the belts and, while you’re at it, if you don’t have one, get a USGI M84 or M12 Holster to go on your belt for your service pistol.  These holsters really protect your service pistol from a lot of things, including mud, debris, and other items that can impact your successful employment of the pistol when necessary.

  • Fixed blade knife:  One suggestion if you don’t have a spare to throw on your IR Kit, is a Camillus ‘combat’ knife or similar.  Used is also good here, so long as the edge looks serviceable, and the sheath is ok, too.  You can always improve the edge as well as sno-seal or beeswax the sheath,  You could also get a ‘Glock Field Knife’ or other similar knife that meets your preferences. The important thing is to have a good fixed blade knife.

  • Spare Magazines: Determine whether you want 6 or 8 on your person and pre-load them to be stored in the harness.  Not to worry, you can leave mags loaded for years without damaging the magazine spring, contrary to conventional wisdom – metallurgy will tell you that over compression of the spring is what damages mags, not leaving fully loaded for years.   Personally, I like 6 on the vest, because with one mag in the AR, you’ve got a total of 210 rounds which is a basic load taken right from my super old school training.  Unless you’re dealing with a human wave style attack, 210 rounds ought to be good to go for 48 hours, especially if you’re an, ‘aimed, deliberate, accurate, deadly fire’ proponent.  If there’s a chance you might not get back to your primary SHTF equipment for a couple more days, you can always load 6 more magazines (180 rounds) in a bandoleer to provide an added measure of ‘peace of mind.’  The USGI surplus is better than the aftermarket hook and loop closure models – the USGI version has hardcore snaps on it.

  • Support Items:  Then we need to add to the mix some sundry items like water, food, map, compass (even if you’re only going to the end of your block, you should ALWAYS have a map & compass to plot out where the bad guys are or have come from), space blanket, fire kit, canteen cup (universal use pot), fire starter, These might be kept in a small ruck, an accessory pouch, or an old school ‘butt pack.’   A cleaning kit is purposely not included, as you would not necessarily be a position to take down your piece/pistol for cleaning.

The primary objective is to have the harness set up so that everything you need to ‘go now’ for anything extremely short term up to a 48 hour stint away from your primary existence and fighting load is at your fingertips.  This could also serve as a superb ‘mobile’ set up that one might put in his/her vehicle prior to going on a long trip.  2 items:  Rifle & IR Kit.  Not bad.

Once I get mine together, I’ll be doing some experimenting on wearing it and see how the basic idea seems to fit.


4 thoughts on “Instant Response Set Up – A Suggestion

  1. revjen45

    I 2nd the motion for the both Camillus Marine knife and the Glock M81. I bought my Camillus around 1976 for about $13. The grind lines look like they were done by a drunk for practice, but it has served on uncounted camping trips and lives in the emergency kit in the car. Have had the Glock since the mid-80s and used it for everything but a weapon. It takes and holds a good edge, is easy to sharpen, and is just a great practical knife design. A M81 and a Swisschamp make you homo habilus extraordinaire. Both are as ugly as mud fence, so you can use them for whatever purpose is required without damaging something pretty. (You wouldn’t want to use your Loveless Sub-Hilt fighter for digging a hole, right?) They both represent good design, acceptable quality, and great value. Any money spent on either one will be long forgotten while you continue to use them.

  2. Jim

    I know nothing from nothing but I noticed in the 8th paragraph the IR kit is supposed to be good for up to 72 hrs:

    “The IR Kit is comprised of 2 modules that include anything determined to be necessary to operate independently of a support base/group for up to 72 hours maximum that when donned, needs nothing added to complete the set up.”

    The second to last para says:

    “The primary objective is to have the harness set up so that everything you need to ‘go now’ for anything extremely short term up to a 48 hour stint away from your primary existence and fighting load is at your fingertips.”

    I’m picking at this nit because past 48 hrs you’re going to need a sleep setup, fire starter, and food and lots more water, and that’s sounding like a lot more than what an IR kit is supposed to be. It seems to me that an IR kit should mean local defense: you hear the festivities begin, rush out, fight off the bad guys (if you’re lucky), pursue to the edge of your AO and perhaps beyond while they retreat, gather post-battle intel from the field, and return to home, being relieved by “Regulars”. Basically no sleep, no time to set up for a meal so just a couple of power bars or something, and a little water.

  3. Defensive Training Group Post author

    First, thanks for stopping by and reading; I appreciate the catch in time difference, which I did not explain at all.

    Let’s go with your premise that at 48 hours you’re going to need a sleep ‘set up’, fire and more water. Season and AO dependent, I agree. I keep a light tarp and a woobie on my IR kit (small butt pack); I always have fire starters, and I always have a sawyer water purification attachment for my camelbak. I also agree that the IR kit is primarily a defense focused tool, and as such, one might surmise that one has some sort of NPT (Neighborhood Protection Team) organized with plans for resupply and so forth that will fortify and relieve the needs of the person if the emergent condition goes beyond 72 hours. If you’re talking one guy, then the IR kit would become something wider in scope as the tasks required of one man to keep people alive would be expanded as well. Key here would be not overloading so the guy couldn’t move quickly.

    Thanks again for stopping by and reading.

  4. dd

    Nice work and thanks for posting.

    I suggest you remove something and add a tac med kit: 2 tourniquets, gauze/combat gauze, chest seals, ripshears, etc. You can find this many places in small molle packs. Mine is from Dark Angel Medical. And keep the training fresh on the medical. The life you save may be yours or your sons. As for the tourniquets, you might consider these, esp the three inch:


Feel free to comment! Debates are welcome, so long as they add to the discussion. Ad hominem attacks, accusations, uncontrolled vitriol, thread hijacks, personal threats, or any comment that otherwise detracts from DTG's stated mission will not be approved or posted. Repeat violators will be banned.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s