Review: Survival Guns

Survival Guns

John Rourke may be the fictional poster child of “survivalism”, but the factual one was one Mel Tappan. His most famous work was 1979’s Survival Guns, a book going into detail as to what one should have in their ‘survival battery’.

The important thing to note is that Tappan was an inauthentic, poor-health charlatan. Like an anglerfish, he attained his prominence through a relationship with a more powerful woman-in this case, marrying a wealthy heiress, Nancy Mack (of the truck brand fame). Thus he wasn’t exactly in touch with the ‘common man’, and the fact that his clients were almost all similarly rich Walter Mittys didn’t exactly help matters either.

With this knowledge in mind, why he popularized the “super-lair” type of countryside compound can be a lot more easily understood. He acted as if everyone could buy a concrete barbed wire lair because he himself could. Survival Guns assumes one has an unlimited budget, as evidenced by its recommendation for an ornate Perazzi shotgun (!) This is like recommending someone use a Ferrari for off-roading.

For all its questionable advice, Tappan’s book is a weirdly amusing look at an obsessive culture and a legitimately good historical resource for seeing how “prepping” trends got started.

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