Crossing America – 2017

Time to play this game again.

The Challenge: You have the opportunity to go back in time, arriving on the east coast of North America circa 1650, and your goal is to cross the North American continent, taking as much time as you need. When/if you reach the Pacific coastline, you’ll be transported back to the present day. Your equipment for this journey will be as follows (taken back in the time capsule with you):

— enough provisions for the first five days’ travel
— a backpack containing some clothing essentials
— a winter coat, raincoat and boots
— waterproof sleeping bag
— an axe, and a small sharpening stone
— a box of 1,000 “strike anywhere” waterproof matches
— a portable water filtration system
— a topographic map of North America
— binoculars and a compass
— a current U.S. Army First Aid kit
— ONE long gun, shotgun or rifle (and 800 rounds, but no scope; and no interchangeable-barrel rifles like a Thompson Center Encore or Blaser; drillings are acceptable, but you still only get 800 rounds of ammo, total)
— ONE handgun (and 1,000 rounds)
— and TWO knives (can include multi-tool knives like Leatherman).

Once there, you’ll be given a horse, a mule and a dog — but apart from that, you’re on your own. Remember you’ll be traveling through deep woods, open prairie, desert and mountains. You may encounter hostile Indian tribes and dangerous animals en route, which should be considered when you answer the following questions (and only these):

1. What long gun would you take back in time with you?
2. What handgun?
3. What knives?

Unlike previous surveys, I’m not going to tabulate the answers; just have at it in Comments. Feel free to add any supporting arguments. I’ll post my choices over the weekend as an update below the fold.

My choices:

Long: Mauser M96 (Swedish) 6.5x55mm. Flat-shooting, manageable recoil, more accurate than I can shoot it at any distance. I might add a Marble pop-up peep sight, just in case it’s needed.

Handgun: Ruger New Model Blackhawk Stainless in .357 Mag with a 6.5″ barrel. Indestructible.

Knives: Anza Skinner, Swiss Army Champ.

All the above assumes I would be thirty-seven years younger and with better eyesight than I have now. Otherwise, I might as well just give up and lie on the beach on the Atlantic shoreline, waiting to die…


  1. Oh, I love this game!

    OK, here goes:

    Long gun: Winchester or Marlin lever action chambered in .44 Magnum, and with an aperture sight installed (my eyes aren’t what they used to be).

    Hand gun: Ruger Redhawk, also in .44 Magnum. As much as I love Smiths, the Ruger has the edge in durability and reliability.

    Knives: 1) Leatherman multi-tool (in fact the one I have in my bag right now would serve) 2) Buck 120 General

    Reasoning: Common ammo between the rifle and handgun is a good thing, especially with only 1,800 rounds available. .44 mag is enough for anything in the lower 48 with the possible exception of grizzly, and honestly if attacked by a grizzly the best defense is to curl up in a ball, place your head firmly between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye. The Leatherman provides the tools needed for gun maintenance and repairs, and the Buck is the hunting knife by which all others are judged (although I was tempted to say a K-Bar instead).

    Yeah, I know, my answers aren’t sexy, they’re functional.

  2. I’m a traditionalist.
    A modern Winchester 92 in .45 LC (preferably with the cross bolt safety stripped out, but I want the modern metallurgy!)
    A large-frame Ruger Blackhawk in .45 LC
    (Implied: 1,800 rounds of .45 LC P+, interchangeable between weapons)
    A large bowie (like I said, traditionalist.)
    A smaller camp knife. Nothing special, just a straight-backed knife with a bit of a belly.

    There’s not much to explain or defend. Reliable, mechanically-simple tools useful in a wide variety of situations.

  3. Long: M1A Socom. Perfect length, largely destruction proof, lots of power for things that need killin’, reasonable capacity for many things that need killin’ at the same time.

    Short: Glock 20. If I have to use the pistol, it means I’m either out of rifle ammo, or things have gone sideways in a hurry– hence I want hammer reliability and as much muzzle energy vs. capacity as possible.

    Mr. Stabby: Benchmade Bolo limb hacker (tree or otherwise), Benchmade Saddle Mountain recurve skinning knife.

  4. Ohh, fun times. Since I have been watching Hell on Wheels of late and that is what they did,

    I would go with my Ruger M77 bolt chambered to 357 along with my Smith and Wesson revolver chambered to 357. Both of them are stainless and have all weather grips and stocks. I would add a tang peep side to the rifle just incase I needed to get out there a ways.

    As to knives, a multi tool from Leatherman would work and I have several, they are all good. as to knives I have a nice Kukri that would be coming along. And some of the mora knives. Probably a barrel full so I could trade them as I travel.

    I think I would add some snares and traps as well as some flints to have back up fire making capabilities. I would budget 90 days to make the journey and I would expect some wetness along the route.

    stay off the ridges, and keep smokeless fires using a Dakota fire pit, try to arrive on the west coast with most of the 1800 rounds I started with.

    It could be fun.

  5. I would have both firearms broken in and all the kinks worked out without being worn out.
    Benelli Performance Shop M2 Turkey Edition with Burris sight. extended tube 3 shot gives 6 + 1
    100 rounds of Brenneke slugs for smooth bore
    200 rounds of 00 buckshot
    250 of number 4 lead 3”
    250 of number 6 lead 2 3/4

    Food getter gun, use for turkeys, ducks, small birds, no wing shooting, all shooting on the ground or in the trees.
    Great for small and large game. 7 shots slugs might be good for defense and buffalo.

    S&W 29-5, NICKEL, .Stainless Steel 44 MAG, 8 3/8” bbl – close in defense –
    Buffalo Bore Ammunition 44 Remington Magnum 270 Grain Jacketed Flat Nose – good to kill anything –

    200 rounds – defense and bears – elk and deer
    Buffalo Bore Ammunition 44 Special 255 Grain Lead Keith-Type Semi-Wadcutter

    800 rounds – good for deer close in and there should be plenty close in, good for defense without too much recoil.

    2 Knives
    Real Avid Viscera™ 3-in-1 Field Dressing Tool , 3 1/2 blade, bone and pelvis saw, oversized gut hook – I am thinking a good way to get along with the locals would be to have hides and skins along with meat to trade and make friends.

    Shun Blue 6″ Utility / Butcher Knife, $200 dollar Japanese made multi layer carbon steel thin blade for boning out meat and making jerky. Once more going to need some trading stuff to get help going across the Mississippi and other rivers, the pack mule will come in handy for that.

  6. I think the practicality of the Marlin lever gun in settling the west wins out. Now….what caliber? I see the votes for the .44 Mag, an excellent choice, but a might underpowered. Although, if you read this article you might change your mind a bit as it posses a very apt but heretofore unasked question: ( of where are all the pistol attack failures? Be that as it may that the .44 Mag might just ‘be enough gun’. I have also given several readings of the writings of the early west as well as more than a half dozen more modern renditions on the behavior of the Great Bears both then and now due consideration, recalling there was indeed a reason the early mountain men came back and requested larger calibers to venture west again with (.50, .54 etc). Plus there is my predilection to not bend over and kiss my ass goodbye at the sight of otherwise overwhelming odds brings me to the conclusion that I’d prefer the 45-70 and my 1895 Marlin with six in the mag tube and one in the chamber to the mighty .44 Mag in my long gun….Thank you very much! 🙂 On the other hand, given the aforementioned research, I’d gladly arm myself for backup and mid-night calls of nature, with my Ruger Redhawk (5.5 in.) in .44 Mag plus a few handy speed loaders. As to my knives, I’d go with a modern ‘Bushcraft’ knife with the Scandi grind which has proven itself in what we used to call ‘Scoutcraft’ back in my day to be quite useful for all tasks great and small from skinning to shelter building. I consider the wisest choice for me would be a backup to that knife. I also agree with the poster that a couple o’ three conibears and some snare wire would be nice….. but with my knife, I can construct efficient traps from what I find in nature and even go native and provide fire by friction….but a nice flint and steel would be worth tradin’ some o’ those matches for. What? no modern ‘fire steel’? Oh, ok…. matches and friction sets it is! 🙂 Thanks for providing the space to play this game. Quite fun!

  7. Okay, I’ll play.

    Long Gun: Marlin lever action guide gun. 4 in the magazine, 1 in the chamber. The open hammer is a nice feature. The only drawback is that if you use it on small game, there won’t be much meat left for the pot. On the other hand, should a brand new bear rug come ambling into your camp, you’re all set. The .45-70 will take down a 2,000 pound animal, which covers everything in the North American continent.

    Handgun: .22 caliber Ruger Title II AWC TM-Amphibian ‘S’ integrally-suppressed variant of the Government Mark II, with three or four spare magazines. The pistol is good to about 200 feet, and although many experts consider the .22 to be an unacceptably light caliber for self-defense, it’s my life that I’m defending, and if I want to use a Red Ryder BB gun it isn’t anyone’s damn’ business but my own. Besides, it’s very nice for small game, and I know that I can hit stuff with it out to 200 feet easy. Probably farther if my eyes weren’t so bad.

    Knife 1: Any high quality Bowie knife will suffice.

    Knife 2: A good quality fillet knife with (we hope) a suitable carry box. The idea is that the Bowie knife is used for all jobs requiring a knife, except filleting fish. For work like that, a fillet knife gives me a much better fillet.

    As for the dog, I want a golden-doodle. They’re smart and have the built in tendency to fetch things. As for the horse, I’d really rather have a Mexican burro, but the burro and the dog won’t get along together, so I’ll take a well trained Quarter Horse, preferably a buckskin or Palomino.

    You don’t say anything about tack for the critters, so I’ll assume we’re going to be using the local gear, which is unfortunate for us. For me, anyway. One way or another, I’ll have to get hold of a good saddle maker and introduce him to a new design. Those old saddles would cripple me up faster than a bad case of pneumonia.

    Mind you, one of my ancestors made his living guiding people from East to West. He knew the routes and could get along with the indigenous life forms. He was a pretty tough customer. Now me, I likely wouldn’t make it. Ill health would likely get me before the Indians did.

  8. Hopefully the time machine can also restore me to the durable body of my youth.

    Long gun: Purdy 12 ga double. A well built English double that can thousands of rounds shooting on a Scottish moor should be able to hold up on the trek. I’d carry a mix of about 1/4 turkey loads, 1/2 buckshot, and 1/4 slugs.

    Pistol: Ruger Redhawk in .45 LC. Tough enough to take heavy bear loads, but pretty potent with regular lead WC.

    Knife 1: Classic K-Bar
    Knife 2: Buck Ranger skinner

  9. Long Gun: Chiappa Firearms 1892 Trapper Classic Carbine .45 Long Colt with the 16 inch barrel. Unless I’m mistaken (I might be, it has happened before) that’s enough barrel to get the most out of .45 Long Colt, and I won’t want anything longer in brush country. Given the time period, there will be a lot of brush country to traverse.

    Pistol: Henry Repeating Arms Mare’s Leg…no, just kidding. Cimarron Pietta ‘Man With No Name’ Single Action Revolver, also in .45 Long Colt. Yes yes, I know. But I’ve loved that gun ever since I saw the movie, and I’m glad there’s a production version available.

    ONLY TWO KNIVES?! Have you lost your mind sir? I must protest. I carry more knives than that every day. I would feel positively naked if I stepped out of the house with less than three blades about my person.

    Knife 1: Bark River Knives Long Clip Bowie in A2 tool steel, which I have been informed has excellent edge retention. It will have to do, I suppose, until BRK starts making Bowies in S110V. Speaking of…

    Knife 2: Spyderco Manix 2 in S110V. I love this knife. Edge retention is ridiculous, blade geometry is excellent, lock is very strong, about the only thing I don’t love is the damned blurple colored G10 handle scales.

    I would also like very much to take a sharpening kit with me. The KME Diamond is quite excellent and breaks down into a small enough kit (with case, said case has room to spare for a small double sided strop, and a Gerber Center Fire multitool) to make the journey. I can be forgiven I hope if I insist that the Wicked Edge Gen 3 is just a bit too large, even if I did have the appropriate Pelican case.

  10. This has always been a fun topic either around the campfire or at sipping time on the porch. 🙂

    Here’s my picks:

    Long gun; Holland and Holland Royal in 12 gauge, SxS, 28 inch barrel, mix of birdshot, buckshot and slugs for ammo.

    Handgun: Ruger GP100 in .357 Magnum, 6 inch barrel.

    Knife 1; Fallkniven F1. Long time issue Swedish Air Force survival knife.

    Knife 2; Leatherman Wave. Proven utility tool.

    I may need the horse to carry all that 12 gauge ammo at around 90 lbs.

  11. None of that matters. The only way I’d make it to the Pacific is if I had a Lear Jet.

  12. I want the fire power of a semi-auto in a long gun and I think I’ll need a rifle. So, I would choose a Remington Model 81 in .300 Savage. I like the reliability of the Browning designed (moment of silence, please) recoil-operated action and the cartridge is plenty powerful for North America.

    For the handgun, I want a double-action revolver in a potent, yet controllable chambering. I like the way the Smith M29 handles, but the Ruger Redhawk is hell for stout. So, I will go with the Ruger in .44 mag.

    I would take any name brand multi-tool that has pliers, small knife blades, amd screwdrivers. My second knife would be a good solid camp knife with a nine-inch carbon steel blade. Versatile and useful.

  13. I would go with an AR15 chambered in .50AE (Troxim upper) for my long gun and a Desert Eagle 50 for the handgun. That gives me common ammunition and plenty of power – the .50AE in a long gun is equal to a 45-70.

    My trusty Bucktool and a large bowie will be the knifes taken.

  14. Toss the sharpening kit, toss the water filtration- if you can’t sharpen a knife on a smooth river stone or drink the water of 17th century America without getting sick ya got no business going.
    Ammo- any one contemplate how HEAVY ammo is? I just weighed a 50 round box of .45acp- 2.5 lbs, 5lbs per hundred times 18 = 90 freaking pounds of ammo?
    None of us would make it, you know- well, maybe one out of thousand. We are not tough enough, and we don’t have the knowledge. Our ancestors were harder than you can believe. They did not brag about it, it was an everyday thing, normal. What was the standard load for a voyager portage, 200 lbs or something like that? We don’t have a CLUE as to how hard these folks were. Logging-Even in the 1950’s, they would lay the dead guys on a stump until the day was done- too long a stretch to bring them into town. And they, every one of them, would admit they were not as hard as their fathers. We read about survival stories, the sort of thing that has a beginning and an end- their entire lives were a survival story.

    1. I wouldn’t make it now — I’m 70. But in my 20’s I was carrying 50 pounds on my back hiking in the high Cascades for a week to 10 days at a time. In this “game” we have a horse AND a mule, which makes weight a moot issue.

    2. Raven, sir, I get what you are saying about the weight. I wondered about that myself when I read the conditions. Then I looked up what the Lewis and Clark expedition took with them. They had kegs of lead made up which held enough powder to shoot the lead in the keg. Pretty ingenious. If I estimated somewhat correctly the number of rounds allowed in this game and the number of rounds that L & C took with them are about equal. They had flatboats, canoes and horses. Unless I misunderstood, and I might have, we get a horse a mule and a dog. We don’t have a lot of equipment to start with and the ammo will probably get lighter along the way. And…we don’t have to ride the horse so that gives us an extra pack animal if needed, the mule and the horse can carry around 110 pounds apiece. I didn’t mention it but since other’s specified ammo, I’ll be bringing the extreme penetrator ammo (copper of the .44 mag and brass for the 45-70) which will lighten my load. But, all this being said, one mount will contain a bunch of ammo and pretty much nothing else for a while.

    3. Try sharpening A2 or S110V on a smooth river stone, let me know how that works for you. I’ll be over here sharpening with diamonds. Even with diamonds it took me over an hour to reprofile a short blade in D2, which I’ve been told isn’t as good as A2. I know for a fact it’s not as good as S110V.

      As for hard, yeah. “Hard men bring good times, good times breed soft men, soft men cause hard times, hard times breed hard men.” It all runs in cycles.

      1. It is not the gear. It is the MEN. And it is not all the physical condition either-it is the mental toughness.
        The talk about fancy knife steel- who needs it? Invert the argument, for a second- is the fancy knife now useless because the support equipment necessary to sharpen it is gone? BTW, I have sharpened lots of knives, just ordinary knives, on river stones. Cutting sand encrusted cargo net dulls them in a hurry.
        Now for a gun? In 1650 any breech loading single shot cartridge rifle would be a order of magnitude better than anything else available. A repeating action would be an arm of the gods. but the critical factor here is not firepower- it is reliability, and repair-ability. I would suggest an arm with a proven military record , like a Mauser 98.
        IMO, leave half the ammo, and substitute cheap trade goods.
        And for the one thing to bring, no matter what- a big bottle of 100% DEET.
        The only thing that would improve the odds of a modern day first world man making it across, is what we lack the most- an intimate knowledge of the land, and especially, the indigenous people. That is how the mountain men survived as solo or in small groups.

  15. I’m going to play this game making do with what I already own. Since no scopes are allowed (if we can use modern guns, why not modern optics–I don’t get that) then I’d probably skip my many rifles and choose one of my two shotguns, which boils down to a choice between a 12 gauge pump and a 20 gauge semi-auto. Both are “tactical” models. (If scopes aren’t allowed, does that mean my Streamlight gets left behind?) One part of me says go with the greater power of the 12 gauge. But I practice more with the 20 gauge and really like it. I wouldn’t expect to engage bad guys or big game out more than 30 yards or so with it, but my strategy would be to avoid contact with bad guys and big game altogether if possible. The primary role of the shottie will be for small game, including upland birds. In the event I’m attacked, inside 20 yards bad guys and big game are in a world of hurt with 2-3 rapid shots coming from a semi-auto, even if just 20 gauge. And if that hasn’t stopped them, then it is up to the handgun. I get why the .44 magnum is the choice of several of you, but going with what I own, it will have to be a Taurus Tracker 7-shot .357 magnum with a six inch barrel. I’d want a mix of bullet weights for the revolver (up to 180 grain), including some .38 special “snake” loads.

    As for knives, I’d take one of my SOG “Revolver” blades and my Leatherman Skeletool.

    Last time I played this game, we got to pick our breed of hound to take along with us.

  16. This is a brilliant exercise in that it really makes you consider just what you really NEED and why do you need it. Just off hand, I think that I could get along with a plain jane 30-06 bolt action by any of the modern manufacturers. They are all doing amazing jobs of building accurate, solid rifles that can shoot better than I can, for an unbelievable price. One man alone getting into a fight with wild natives, it would not make much difference if he had a gattling gun, he would not stand a chance, and so, I would not feel handicapped by a bolt action as opposed to a semi auto. For a hand gun, I lean towards the Smith and Wesson revolvers in .357 magnum, with a large amount of my ammo being 38 special. That round is useful as a small game round on rabbits and sitting birds, like turkeys and such. And it still packs enough punch to give you a fighting chance with a larger, dangerous animal, such as a black bear. The big grizzley bears of course, the rifle is going to be the only thing that will stop them, but that round, in a big enough bullet, is enough to kill anything on the North American continent. As to a knife, again, it comes down to personal preference, and I also carry at least 3 knives at all times. I would have to go with a K-Bar and then with a Leatherman. The K-Bar for of course the wood chopping and field dressing necessary on larger game, and the Leatherman simply due to it’s versatility. You never realize when you might need to tighten that screw on your rifle, or to bend the spring on your revolver after a fall or such.

  17. Hmmm, I seem to be taking a contrary path to many here…

    If there was ever a call for a Scout rifle, this would seem to be it. So, barring Cooper’s Sweetheart, a Ruger Gunsite Scout w/the polymer stock and XS sights for a rifle. Hornady’s 178grn. ELD-X Precision Hunter would seem to be an appropriate round.

    Glock G20 10mm… reliable, hard hitting, ammo in the range of 180grn-200grn full power. Not the time for downloading here, so most likely a Buffalo Bore or Double Tap offering. Far from my favorite handgun for my more modern needs, it fits the bill here. If I burn through 1,000 rounds of ammo, I’ll steal a Peacemaker off of someone.

    Knives: a good skinning knife and a hatchet – the best quality I could find… I’m thinking Randall and Winkler, but I don’t know knives like I know the palm of my hand, so I admit there may be better choices.

  18. I’m leaning toward the common caliber long gun and pistol school so I’ll put my vote in for a Henry lever gun in .38/.357 and a Smith 686. Yeah I know that the Henry doesn’t have a loading gate, but its a solid, well made and accurate rifle. I don’t intend to fight my way across the continent – if I did I’d be dead before I got across the Alleghenies. Both guns can take small game and deer and can put down a bad guy as needed.

    I’ll go with a good quality kukri as my “big” blade. I can cut brush and small firewood and do some hand to hand work if absolutely necessary. A Leatherman or Gerber would be my second choice. A guy has to have tools.

  19. I am not an outdoorsman or shooter to speak of; I could never survive this challenge, even when I was much younger and healthier. (Though I am probably stronger than I ever was until about 10 years ago, when I started working out seriously. I was peak about three years ago, I think, and have since backslid.)

    I do have one serious question about the kit.
    ” — a topographic map of North America…”

    A one-sheet map of North America will either be too large-scale to have any useful detail (1:2,500,000, 25 km per cm), or too large to be deployed practically (1:250,000, 20 meters across). One would want a map book, with laminated pages (chances of it not getting wet are nil). 1,000 25cmX25cm pages, double sided, would provide about 63 sq meters of maps, which at 1:250,000 scale would cover about 40M sq km. That’s overkill, but one would want all the maps to overlap. Oh, is the map current? I.e. does it show all rivers in their courses as of 1650? Does it show ground cover as of 1650?

    Some other questions:

    One gets a horse and a mule. Does one get any saddlery, harness, or packs? One hopes the horse and mule are both trained (the horse for riding and the mule for carrrying). Are they shod? Should one’s knife-tools include implements for taking care of them (i.e. extracting pebbles lodged in hooves)? (There’s another point: I don’t know anything about the care of such beasts.)

    The supply of matches – I would rather have a burning glass, as it won’t get used up. Also, a small crank-charged flashlight.

    About the guns: most people seem to prefer a heavy caliber rifle (.44 or .45 caliber) but the weight of the ammo could be a problem. Except that it’s a problem for the mule, not the walker, now that I think about it.

    Personally, I think the design and quality of the clothing and footgear would be more critical than the choice of longarm or handgun. For one thing, traveling say 15 km/day, it will take at least over a year to make the trip, so the walker will be outdoors in sub-freezing weather for weeks (even assuming a southern route, there will at least be periods of nightly freezes and wet, chilly days). And walking that much in boots that don’t fit well or aren’t designed for it could mean going lame.

    Also, having camo pattern clothing could help lot in hunting and avoiding conflicts with Indians.
    One last thing: water filtration is important, but canteens or waterbags would be essential, because one would have to cross desert somewhere, unless staying far north.

    Oh, one very important question: “the North American continent”? Does that include Mexico? Veracruz to Acapulco is a relatively short trip, through territory under Spanish colonial rule, not wilderness, so that’s really not the challenge implied. Even Matamoros to Mazatlan is a shortcut. Does one have to start on the Atlantic Coast, i.e. not the Gulf Coast? On the Pacific Coast, not the Baja Gulf?

  20. At least 950 rounds of pistol ammo would be useless weight unless you went with the lever gun/revolver combo suggested by some. Then you would have 1800 rounds of rifle ammo with the revolver as backup/convenience. I think 44M is about the best for the purpose. The 1800 rounds should be a mix of heavy magnum, light magnum and specials. The rifles that L&C had were more or less equivalent to 44M from a revolver but with a heavier bullet. They had huge trouble with griz and finally took to 2-rank volley fire. Couldn’t do that in this scenario so you would have to depend on the higher rate of fire of the modern gun. I wouldn’t plan on doing much fighting since if you tried you would be dead before you reached the Susquehanna. The Iroquois had armies and the Huron etc could put together some pretty good war parties. You would have to bribe/negotiate your way through them. I would shoot a buff or elk, wait for the Indians to show up and trade them meat for tools, clothing etc. Once you get out on the plains, there would not be much need to fight. Plains Indians were not nearly as formidable in 1650 as they would become. No horses to speak of yet and the Lakota were still up in the North Woods getting their asses kicked by the Chippewa. So what you had were farmers and low level hunter/gatherers. The dog would have to do sentry duty to prevent sneak/stab/steal so you would want something formidable. L&C had a Newfie but I would prefer something more agile. A ridgeback if it could tolerate plains winters.

    You are going to be living on small game mostly and shooting it is a huge waste of ammo. So you want traps. A multi-tool would be most useful for this as well as repairs for clothing and gear. The other knife should be some sort of big utility knife like a bowie. I would like to have some specialized stuff like skinning and scraping tools so I would try to trade for these. Nice to have some buffalo robes when winter comes and Indians would be able to do this. Probably be stone tools but they work. Shoot a couple of buff with the surplus ammo and give the meat to the nearest village. If you tried to live on big game, you would have long stops to process and serious issues about toting the meat. You would need to do this occasionally to get fat in your diet but the 44M should do except maybe for moose.

    Before I left the E coast, I would trade the map and water filter for a bow saw, a small shovel and some wire. Route would be along the S side of the Great Lakes (assuming a start in MA) then I would go up Missouri, the Yellowstone and the Big Horn then across South Pass onto the Snake plain. From there you could go either the Oregon Trail or the California trail route.

  21. Here goes a long-winded answer (I’ve been dying to play this game for YEARS – welcome back Kim!)


    Era Characteristics

    Continent totally undeveloped. Colonization just beginning to get off the ground. Eastern US has a few settlements on the coast, French have claimed St. Lawrence river/banks and are trapping along it and in Great Lakes area. Quebec City founded just 42 years earlier has less than 2,000 inhabitants. New York City is still New Amsterdam, population also about 2,000. Fur trapping and trading, particularly beaver, is in full swing, in eastern US from Canada through Allegheny mountains and into the Carolinas. Wild game from small animals thru deer to elk and buffalo are plentiful.

    East Coast Colonists: 50,000, hugging the coastlines and immediate areas just inland.

    Native Americans: 2-4 million in 500+ tribes. Note: This is just 1 percent of current US population. Smallpox and other diseases introduced by Europeans since 1492 have already reduced native populations by half. They have seen or heard of white people, and are probably wary at best. Major westward expansion, encroachment / resettlement, and open warfare with whites hasn’t begun yet, so not automatically hostile, but centuries of competition and warfare with neighboring tribes means they are very capable of attack.
    Spanish /Mexican empire: limited encroachment north of Rio Grande, confined to settlements; area dominated by native tribes. Past the Mississippi River it’s all Indians with a very rare mountain man.

    Diverse as Kim stated. Totally undeveloped, zero infrastructure. ZERO. River crossings are on your own.

    Little Ice Age is in full swing, and winters would be significantly colder and longer than today. Implications: mountain passes stay closed longer, so a more southerly route may be favored. Greater water supplies but high rivers in Spring runoff. Food would be especially at a premium in late winter.

    Speed of Travel / Journey Duration. 3000 miles as crow flies, more like 4000 with detours. In flat open country, could theoretically achieve upwards of 40-50 miles/day. In rugged terrain, perhaps just 5 or 10. IF Your food was squared away, AND if you weren’t trapping or trading or hiding from war parties or dealing with predators or laid up sick. Crossing major obstacles, like the Mississsippi, might take weeks (you’d need to build a raft from scratch big enough for you and your animals). Six months to a year, depending on luck. Maybe more. So your guns and gear have to last.

    Threats / Risks

    Natural Elements You will be in the wilderness the entire time, in all weather, seasons, and climates.

    Starvation. You will have to hunt for, gather, or trade for all your food starting on day 6 at the latest. This will be a major occupier of your time. And a major job for your guns. So much so that to avoid ammo depletion you will need to supplement with other hunting implements. Think trapping. Bow/arrow.

    Injury /sickness. No doctors worth anything. No modern medicines. Nobody to rely on for care or assistance, at least initially; a broken leg could easily prove fatal. Injuries from an attack count as injuries too, so your gun gear needs to decisively win fights you can’t avoid.

    Wild animals
    from venomous critters to wolf packs to mountain lions and bears. Large critters and pack attacks are huge threats.

    The seventeenth century version of a VCA would fade as soon as you leave the east coast settlements. Indians in 1650 would armed with flintlocks, more likely bow/arrow, spear, tomahawk, clubs, knives. Would attack in numbers. Would not have seen repeating firearms. Max range of bow or flintlock would be 100 yards or less, more like 50 yards or less. In forested areas, canyons, dense brush the attack would be from close range and sudden. Horses were not yet commonly used by Indians in 1650, which provides our explorer with a mobility advantage, if he can keep his animals alive and healthy throughout the journey. Any attacks from mountain men would be solo, from ambush or perhaps up close after some conversation.

    Loss of pack animals – due to critter attack, runoff, injury, starvation, theft. Without a pack animal, your ammo becomes too heavy to carry. Dragging you stuff in a makeshift sled gets old fast. Guard your pack animals.

    Your solo-ness
    You are alone. You will stand out for many reasons. Your unique gear will attract attention. You are both a curiosity and a target. You have to sleep sometime. If you stay solo on this journey, you or your pack animals can be set upon. Maybe you should invest in a traveling companion or two.

    Summary of challenges.

    For a solo venture, this is extremely challenging and dangerous. Food supply for both man and beast will be key, followed by avoiding becoming predator food or an Indian trophy, staying uninjured or letting exposure kill you. The equipment you start out with will likely be insufficient to prevail by itself. That means you will need to acquire or make what you don’t have. Don’t begin without gaining the know how first. Lots of items we just buy today would be nonexistent or only handmade in 1650. And “buying”, past Yonkers NY, means trading with Indians for what they have.

    Some out of the gate equipment gaps:
    Full on winter clothing/blankets
    Small tools -can be partially solved w/Leatherman, but there goes one of your two knives…
    More knives
    Bow/arrow/spear -you don’t want to rely on your guns for hunting if you can have an effective alternative.
    Cured leather / deerskin for shoes, belt, pouches (unless you are going to take your time with this journey).
    Spare cloth for when you need to repair/replace what you have
    Sewing needle / thread

    The point here is you will need to be TRADING for the things you will need, including food. So your gun/knife selection needs to support acquiring tradable things – furs being at the top of the list.

    Major risks in descending order:

    Animal attack from solo or pack predators
    Indian attack

    Key Requirements / considerations for firearms:

    #1: Extreme Ruggedness in all outdoor conditions for extended time – minimal maintenance, zero “tweaking” needed. And undeniably proven.
    #2 Reliability
    #3 sufficient firepower for repelling multiple assailants of various species in determined attacks
    #4 Calibers suitable for hunting wide range of game and killing attackers.
    #5 sufficient capacity to avoid being overwhelmed in a close range dust up.
    #6 sufficient range to enable the long hunting shot once on the plains /desert/ high mountains, and to significantly out range dismounted bow/arrow/spear (you don’t want them closing on you). I’d argue that translates to 500-600 yards-ish max. Without a scope you (or at least I) won’t be effective past that. In the forested east, this is moot.

    Note I didn’t say accuracy. Pretty much any rifle you’d likely pick for this will be accurate enough. That 1/2 MOA super duper sniper gun won’t stay that way long jostling in a saddle sleeve… As for shotguns, see below

    Once the ammo runs out the gun becomes useless. There will be no resupply or reloading where you are going. That means reliability is determined a little differently. It has to work every time, for as long as you take to complete the journey. It does NOT have to fire 5,000 rounds without a malfunction, because you won’t HAVE 5,000 rounds, ever.

    Capacity: you will either need one careful shot for hunting or a small solo predator, OR MANY shots for large predator or multiple assailants. Think: starving wolfpack that finds you in late winter in waist deep snow. Or Indian scouting party that rushes you from cover.

    You won’t ever be practicing with your limited ammo supply, so don’t pick a gun that you cant already effectively use. And no scope means no uber long shots.

    Shotgun vs. rifle: pump-action tactical shotgun with 9-round tube mag meets all criteria except range. Even if we cut max range requirement by 50-66%, shotgun will struggle. In the scenario where our explorer is under attack by multiple bow/arrow equipped plains/desert Indians, the way to avoid them overwhelming you is to engage at a distance that is beyond their effective range. So while shotgun is very appealing in most other ways, I’d go with a rifle. Yes, shotguns can be used to hunt birds. Ever eat a bird? They are tasty but…small. You will need 4000-5000 calories/day to stay alive on this journey. Don’t waste ammo hunting small critters. Trap them instead.

    Bolt vs semiauto vs lever vs… : Reliability and ruggedness are key. If it breaks where you’re going you won’t be fixing it. The absolute most rugged reliable modern actions are battle-proven bolts. Firepower would argue for the semi, but remember ruggedness is #1, reliability is #2. Lever guns did win the west, but that was because they were the most advanced breechloading repeating action of their day, and folks needed…Firepower! They have limited capacity and slow reload. Remember there is only one of you. They can be cycled with one hand with practice, a decided plus in the injury case. The bolt gun wins in my book.

    Revolver vs. pistol: the easy money is on the revolver. Reliable, rugged, easypeasy malfuntion clearance. Hard to argue with. Except I believe the modern striker-fired double action double column pistol offers the same ruggedness and reliability with multiple times the capacity. This is utterly unimportant in the hunting / snake killing scenario, but absolutely vital in the Wolfpack / Indian attack case. If you are rushed by an 8 man raiding party or wolfpack your 6 shot revolver will become somebody’s pickup trophy.

    Rifle /handgun ammo commonality: a really great idea. Logistics! 45-70 is a great choice. Will drive you to a lever gun / revolver combo. While I cannot argue this, my selection reflects leveraging the best of each firearm type given the challenges of this quest.

    My firearm choices:

    Rifle: Lee-Enfield SMLE No. 4 Mk 1 in .303. Absolutely rock solid battle-proven rifle/action. Rugged as a baseball bat. Can hit beyond 600 yds. Caliber is suitable for 2 or 4 legged game. 10-round magazine and butter smooth action means you can deliver fast follow up shots (see the “mad minute”). Stripper-clip fed means fast top-off.

    Handgun: Glock 18. All the proven reliability and ruggedness you will need with full auto a selector lever away and up to 33 rounds before a reload. The full auto mode sounds ridiculously wasteful – until you fully consider the wolf pack or raiding party rush scenarios. Then you’ll be glad you had it. Remember if you win but you get seriously injured/crippled you lose, just slower. And you can dial it down to semi for everything else, where it impersonates the venerable G17. The Europellet is for sure no bear-stopper- that is what the SMLE is for. Although 33 +P hollow point Europellets in the face / neck/ trunk in 3 seconds will give most critters pause. Night sights, natch.


    Key requirements:
    #1 Rugged
    #2 Multipurpose / Versatility
    #3 Supports hunting, skinning tasks
    #4 Good to great for self-defense

    I would plan on adding to the collection once I’m “in-country” via trading. My choices:

    1. Ka-bar. One of the most general purpose designs out there, and clearly proven in the field. I’d see about customizing the SMLE to accept this as a bayonet. The Buck 120 is a great alternative.

    2. Bowie: formidable in combat, can substitute for a machete, camp axe. It does the Kabar one better in those areas while retaining versatility. I’m SORELY tempted to go with a multi tool, but Kim has sadistically limited this to only two, so…

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