Is Your Defense At Risk In Case Of An EMP?


At first listen, the topic seems almost silly doesn’t it?

But considering it for more than a moment, many preppers are in danger of losing key components of their defense to a high electromagnetic pulse (HEMP). Thinking about what your defense means, it’s obvious, don’t you think?

Let’s deal first with our firearms themselves and then with other elements of self-defense, and how to look for our way out in case this disaster happens.

Guns after EMP – How Are They Going to Be Affected?

Most firearms would not be affected in any way as far as their basic function is concerned, but many newer firearms could absolutely suffer after a high electromagnetic pulse.

Considering the current trend of integrating microelectronics technology into firearms, the likelihood of future designs being affected is quite certain. Here are some firearms technologies that most certainly could be affected:

  • Firearms that use any form of biotechnology to prevent discharge by anyone other than the firearm’s owner.
  • Laser sights
  • Tactical flashlights that use LEDs.
  • LED-based optics
  • Night vision optics
  • Thermal imaging optics
  • The tracking point line of “smart” rifles.
  • Firearms with electronically actuated triggers.
  • Weapons systems that rely on laser rangefinders for range estimation.
  • Weapons paired with a ballistic computer or combination of ballistic computer and sensor technology to make accurate adjustments for precision shooting at long ranges.
  • Weapons systems firing proximity-fused ammunition.
  • Intelliscope and similar App-based technologies.

That was a longer list than I thought it was going to be, but for most folks, their favorite smoke pole is not going to be affected. But if you run in high speed, low drag crowd, you likely have several of these technologies bolted onto your first line weaponry.

Self Defense in a Post-EMP World

Now comes the second part of the equation. EMP will likely change the elements of your defense.

If something goes bump in the night, most well-prepared and responsible folks I hang with have a plan that goes, more or less as follows.

Roll out of bed, punch the panic code on the safe and strap on a waist pack or “bat belt” which contains some rough approximation of the following equipment:

  • Centerfire handgun with tritium night sights
  • Tactical flashlight
  • Spare mag or two or speed loaders
  • ID
  • Cell phone
  • Mini GSW (Gun Shot Wound) first aid kit
  • Less-lethal option (such as pepper spray, ASP baton or taser)
  • Tactical folder (one-hand opening knife with a blade that locks in place)

Then they deal with the threat. Then, if they are still breathing, they either get to go back to bed or will call law enforcement and an ambulance.

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If they deal with law enforcement they might also worry how the night’s events will alter the lives of their loved ones and their own life and how much it is going to cost to replace the carpet.

But how might that go differently post-EMP?

Roll out of bed, punch the panic code on the safe, which does not open because an EMP occurred while you were sleeping. Small-DefenseMuffled cursing. Find the safe key.

Strap on the waist pack or “bat belt” with the flashlight that does not work, the cell phone that does not work and the Taser that does not work. If their side arm has a laser, that does not work either.

Then they deal with the threat … using their equipment which does not all work.

Then, if they are still breathing, they either get to go back to bed or they try to call law enforcement and an ambulance …. Which they cannot do because their cell phone does not work… and so on.

Get the picture?

Plan A would not work. You would not get a phone that says, “Hey dummy, we just had an HEMP!” You would simply try to use something you use all the time and it would not work. So what is an intelligent, self-reliant person who is aware of the threat of HEMP to do?

The answer is not to swear off anything that runs on a battery. Technology is a powerful fool and every one of us would have make some major changes in order to make a living without it. Even if you live like the Unibomber and think it does not affect you directly, it mostly certainly does affect you indirectly.

If nothing else, it keeps all your neighbors at home watching TV and drinking instead of looting your house or competing with you for the same resources.

The Answer Is Also a Two-Parter.

Part 1: Train without technology before you train with technology, which means among others:

  • Learn to use a map and compass first, and then a GPS.
  • Learn to shoot with open sights first, then with a red dot.
  • Learn to shoot in low light with tritium night sights first, then with night vision.

Part 2: Go through your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) from a post-HEMP paradigm. Walk through them step by step from imagining what would go wrong if a HEMP had occurred. It might mean

  • swapping a battery powered keypad lock for a mechanical one,
  • “down-grading” from an LED lamp assembly in your Surefire tactical flashlight to an incandescent lamp,
  • selecting an ASP baton over a Taser or practicing using a secondary technique after your primary fails, just like you practice failure-to-fire drills when you learn to defend yourself with a side arm.

The point is that there is something you can do about EMP or HEMP or any threat other than a Black Swan.


This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

About Cache Valley Prepper

Cache Valley Prepper is a full-time survival and self-defense consultant, instructor and writer, but primarily identifies himself as a lifelong student of survival. He is profoundly grateful to his mentors for afflicting him with an insatiable curiosity about all things self-reliant but claims to be allergic to conspiracy theory. He is a talented competitive shooter, has a profound love of nature, and likes to backpack, camp, hunt and pursue outdoor hobbies. He studies and trains constantly and loves that his work enables him to get in plenty of “dirt time” all over the world … even if it means he has to work a little while he plays. Cache is a volunteer emergency responder in a small town without any paid services and holds numerous instructor and student certifications in everything from emergency management to less-lethal munitions and high explosive breaching. Cache Valley Prepper is a pen name used to protect his identity.


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