Could You Be a Hired Gun After SHTF?

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Have you ever wondered what you would do for work after the end of the world as we know it? There are many ideas out there and we have even mentioned a few of them on the Prepper Journal in past articles. Most of the ideas seem to start with the view that there will be a total collapse of the grid. When that happens, anarchy will reign supreme for some undetermined time. After the chaos is over, we will go back to living like it’s the 1800’s or close to that with no authority or social control in place anymore. In that kind of world where none of the technological advances are working anymore, what would you do?

Like I said, there have been a lot of good ideas posted on prepping blogs. Some people recommend blacksmiths or leather-working and those both sound like excellent choices if you have the skill and equipment. Surgeons, pharmacists and mid-wives will always be needed I think, as will people who can grow food, fix things that aren’t running and build things that need to be built. Anyone who is handy and has some imagination would seem to be able to offer something of value in this new imagined world in return for payment of some form. I imagine the world’s oldest profession will somehow find a way to survive even in a world of collapse.

Your average marketing executive, social worker or accountant will likely be up a creek without a paddle unless they have some other skills to offer. One job that I started thinking about was the job of a hired gun. If you have nothing but tactical training and the tools of the trade I can see a potential job for people who fit that bill.

Who would need a hired gun?

Hired guns have been in practice for eons. The bible talks about Amaziah hiring “100,000 valiant warriors out of Israel” so we can safely assume the practice wasn’t new even back then. The ten thousand were a group of mostly Greek mercenary units pulled together by Cyrus the Younger to attempt to take the throne of the Persian Empire from his brother, Artaxerxes II. The Swiss Guard has as part of its history service to the French where they were known as “the best contract troops money could buy”.

Do you envision yourself in the role of hired gun or mercenary?

Do you envision yourself in the role of hired gun or mercenary?

People throughout time have needed protection or muscle to fight their wars. The form of the force or amount of protection would seem to depend on a couple of factors but the bottom line was you got what you could afford. When we are talking about the end of the world as we know it, payment could be as simple as food and shelter. Many of us talk about hunkering down in our homes with our stored provisions of food and riding out the chaos that we can imagine in a real collapse scenario but not many of us have a large enough force assembled to keep what we have safe if we are attacked by superior numbers. It wouldn’t take too many people or too much training to force a family of frightened, sleep deprived and stressed individuals out of the illusion of safety in their home which would then become the property of the invading force.

I could easily see the value in paying trusted, skilled, principled individual’s wages to help me defend my home and possessions if I had the means to do that. Could you?

What skills would you need to have to be a hired gun?

Since I am midway through this article, I should step back and state clearly that I have zero experience with this subject and anything I am writing today is just a simple thought exercise. I have never been a hired contract killer; likewise I have never hired anyone to run security for me, so I can only guess at some of the possibilities here. By the same token, I am imagining a world that has been set back to the 1800’s which also takes some mental creativity and artistic license. If you do have experience please join the conversation in the comments below.

Now, getting back to the article, what skills would make you worthy of employment as a hired gun? I can rattle off a list of military disciplines, skills, experience and schools that the mere attendance of would have made you a certifiable tough guy, but until you had a small village under your control, I would assume anyone hired to be protection would also serve other purposes too unless the threat of violence was imminent. Imagine you and your ex-military buddy were forced out onto the road due to some horrible circumstances. You have skills taught to you by the armed services of your country and you had essential gear for bugging out; battle rifles, bulletproof vests, enough camouflage to look respectable, night vision goggles and a good bit of ammo.

You wander through the countryside and come across a homestead during the course of your route away from the conflict and are lucky enough to meet the rancher who owns the land. After some very guarded pleasantries, he shares that he could use some help protecting his land and family. He would provide room and board for your loyalty.

Afghan and US Teams Fight Opium Trade In Helmand Province Of Southern Afghanistan

What jobs could you have to do?

Now in my imagined doomsday scenario, you aren’t manning guard towers all day and sniping bad guys from 600 yards. You are there to provide muscle when needed, but the majority of your days would likely be occupied by other tasks. Your hired gun status is really only for when that gun is needed. Most of the rest of the time, it is your strong back, your calloused hands and maybe in some part, your companionship that is more likely what you will invest.

You probably thought you would be guarding the perimeter and keeping the other people who wandered through the rancher’s territory in the Golden Horde at bay and dealing with gangs who appeared to take some livestock or the ranchers’ wife and daughters. Maybe that could be the role of someone lucky enough to fall into this line of work, but I doubt that would be a full-time job.

Your job might even evolve over time where the first responsibility would be to set up those guard positions and fortify the house as much as possible. You might be teaching people how to shoot accurately, setting up range cards and developing SOP’s for dealing with various situations. You could be tasked with reconnaissance and information gathering where you would go out into the countryside to analyze approaching threats or coordinate resources. You could have much responsibility or very little until you were needed.

What if you wanted to hire someone as your security force?

Admittedly, this whole idea requires a lot of factors to fall into place to even work. For starters, we would have to have some cataclysmic event that rendered most of the world out-of-order. There would need to be lawlessness and people intent on protecting what is theirs with the resources on hand to ensure that happened. What are some of the other problems with this scenario?

  • Who would supply the ammunition you needed for practice and defense?
  • Would you have access to the ammunition or would you need the rancher to get it?
  • What if the rancher asked you to do something that you didn’t want to?
  • Are there other “defenders” that you have to worry about?
  • Are you able to leave at any point or is this contract for life?
  • Will you honor your commitments?
  • What if the rancher is killed?
  • What if you decide you want to leave to start a new life?
  • What if the rancher kills your friend?
  • What if the rancher isn’t really all that nice and wants to kill his neighbor and take their lands?
  • What if there was a local law presence and your actions as a representative of this rancher ended you up in front of the local law with a murder charge?

There really are a million different ways this could play out and after all these words I still understand that these hypothetical scenarios can never be answered to the satisfaction of all concerned in all cases. The best I can offer in situations like this are my own thoughts which on occasion pose more questions than answers. These are the types of things I think about.

What do you think? Could you foresee a Wild West world where you could be hired on to a larger home to help them protect what is theirs? Would you do it assuming you had nowhere else to go? Would you be a hired gun?

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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You could hire me to kill varmints!


Security is exactly what I would be doing after the SHTF. I have been doing it my entire life in the military, LE and the corporate world. I’m also a handy person that can build and/or almost anything. I wouldn’t be hiring myself out, at least not on a full-time basis, as long as I had family to care for and to keep secure. Unfortunately I think our out-of-control federal government, as it is today, could be just as dangerous as the marauding gangs of murderers and thieves; double trouble.

Mike Lashewitz

Skills, I have over 40 and yes I could be a hired gun. Though I have no interest in that, I would rather serve my city or my state and the people thereof. The only income I would need is a living wage for me and my family.

Kristin Mcgeehan

Well if we’re talking old west situations, then horseback riding better be somewhere on your resume.


Yes! Including how to take care of horses.

Kristin Mcgeehan

Lol yes that too. Sorry, I’ve been riding (and caring for) horses for about 30 years, I just instinctively lump riding, care, training, hauling, etc. horses under just “riding” but you’re right, care (including at least a basic working knowledge of farrier and minor vet skills too) of your “post apocalyptic “vehicle”” should be pretty high on your “to learn list” in the pre apocalypse.

Albert Smoove

I have been a body guard for some of my friends for pay and I’ve done collection for some of my friends for pay, as well as security, I could be hired under the right conditions.

northern raider

Could You Be a Hired Gun After SHTF? in a nutshell NO I will be to busy protecting my family to go around playing Rambo, look you may be ex SF, armed to the teeth, vicious as hell, tacticool to the nth degree, but that kid with the single shot 22lr varmint rifle only has to be lucky once, the dude on the twelfth floor only has to drop a housebrick onto your tactical baseball cap or his 80 year old mother drop a burning bottle of cooking oil onto your head. AFTER TSHTF there will be NO CASEVAC, NO… Read more »


Or the redneck in his backyard, who you won’t see with a high powered rifle. Broadcasting yourself as a threat, might result in a very brief one sided ambush and the donation of all your tacticool stuff.

northern raider

Exactly, when I lived briefly in KS most of the locals had stuff like Remington 700 BDLs etc and every one could take out a deer at 300 yards, I love the US but its about the LAST place on earth I would want to be a PMC or CPO, bloody Kabiul or Bagdad would be safer


I have an AR with a Trijicon, which has been set up as a DM rifle. It is scary accurate, and 30 round magazines give me quite a bit of firepower.

northern raider

and that Sir is a very common position in the United states, it would be a bloodbath for the thrill seekers and wannabes as the locals who know every last inch of the local area use it to snipe at the operators.


While I think you are understating the abilities of true operators, I also think that most would be little more than hired muscle.

Remember, every “away party” has to have a couple ‘red-shirts’.


Well said. About time someone with the common sense


As a former Combat Medic I would barter my skills in trauma, sickcall and minor surgery skills over my shooting skills. Let’s be honest, most doctors in this situation will be pretty worthless without all of their diagnostic equipment, but there will always be a place for people that know their way around “sticks and rags”. Being able to shoot, move and communicate will just be iceing on the cake.

Nice builder lady

As a single mom with no desire for any relationship stuff at this point. I have had this conversation. If I could provide housing, food, etc., in exchange for protection of myself, my daughter, my property and help with stuff I can’t physically do, I would for sure. I’d just be leary of finding someone who wouldn’t turn on us or expect something additional from me or be a child predator.

It isn’t realistic that I could defend her and I solo. So, there will definitely be a need out there.


Why can’t you defend yourself and your child?

Nice builder lady

With a four year old, hmmm. How do you get that age to understand fully and hide solo so you can combat? In a few years, maybe not so much a problem.

I guess I also look at numbers. A solo or two attackers, I might be ok. A group attack? Not so much. Being a female alone, if known is like a bullseye, especially with a small child. Reality is a male presence is a deterrent unless you have just more people (adults) strength in numbers.

We are rural on five acres. Looking into LGD’s too.


I am sorry I just don’t comprehend your excuse. If females can pass Ranger school, you should be able to circle the wagons and hold you’re own. Why would you expect others to do for you, if your not willing to do it for yourself? They have classes and training for this sort of thing.


Not knowing her exact situation your not going to be able to comprehend. LWJ unless you are capable of doing everything known to man than you as well will need to depend on someone else. If you believe otherwise your dangerous to everyone around you!!! She may very well bring a needed skill to the table that you do not have or are not capable of comprehending.


Well Jon part of being a prepper is having the ability to do basic things. I may not be a sniper, but I can shoot. One of those basic skills is being able to defend my family and secure my home. I to have small children, and would not want to be at the mercy of others. So I have plan to secure my home, and I practice that plan should it have to put into effect. I also learned how to fight and win, while outnumbered! With a few dirty tricks up my sleeve and some decent gear it… Read more »


While having the skill of being able to shoot is desirable beginner’s goal it is not the same as having gun fighting skills. My point is not everyone is cut out to be a gun fighter even if they think so on the internet!!!


Being able to defend your family does not require one to be a “gunfighter”.


Importantly, the aggressor may not anticipate effective resistance. If you are the “bad guy” and don’t have the means to overcome determined resistance, you will likely move to an easier target. Sadly, there will be plenty of them.


Yes, and the easy scores will result in 0 casualties to the attacker. Would you want to try to assault a fatal funnel against somebody armed with an AR?

Kristin Mcgeehan

She never said she couldn’t shoot. She said she couldn’t shoot at multiple attackers while keeping her 4 year old hidden quietly.

Kristin Mcgeehan

Females who pass ranger school, first go thru boot camp training (without a toddler in tow), then thru ait (without a toddler in tow) THEN thru ranger school (again without a toddler trailing behind them). What you don’t seem to comprehend is this is a single mother WITHOUT COMBAT TRAINING dealing with a small child who doesn’t act like Judith on the walking dead (I.e. A child actor with a twin who is switched out for a doll when things need to be absolutely quiet). You obviously don’t have children and therefore don’t understand that what she has is not… Read more »


You also forgot the three weeks at Benning.

Never assume Kristin. It is not a good habit to get into.

Having small children is not an excuse to pawn your security off on others.
Improvise, adapt, overcome. I can teach you how to conduct a static defense, or a mobile defense of your home. I can this with my kids in the home and so can others.

Gender will not be an excuse to use in the Apoc.

Pat Henry

Call me old fashioned, and politically incorrect. Women are just as smart as men and capable at most things, but they are no match (in almost any situation) against a man in combat. The Marines are slowly coming to this realization also. Yes, a woman should be able to shoot someone coming at her, martial arts might give her an edge assuming the attacker didn’t know any themselves, but in my opinion, a woman’s strength is in being a strong nurturing force in her family, not the warrior. I know my wife could fight if needed, but she would rather… Read more »


Firearms are the great equalizer though Pat.


I think I understand where LWJ is coming from. I totally agree with the idea that a woman can shoot, move, and communicate as well as a man. No, she can’t hump the same ruck as far, she will struggle in hand to hand combat, but that’s not what this is about. Hope and prayer isn’t an effective defensive option. Create defensive opportunities. Shape the battlefield BEFORE things go bad. Protected firing positions, early warning capabilities, range cards, etc. Someone above mentioned fatal funnels. These need to be built OUTSIDE the house. If trouble is at the door, or heaven… Read more »


NBL, you might wish to consider a retired cop couple,(might be more out there than you realize in your area) and that way, you can increase your security footprint, without sacrificing or dealing with the “relationship” issues that will surely come . As for thinking you cannot protect yourself physically, I would respectfully disagree. Look into Krav Magra and excellent fighting system designed by the Israelis that even “old” folks like my wife and I CAN and do, do. While we avoid trouble if at all possible, going hands on with either one of us isn’t a good idea. Look… Read more »

Nice builder lady

That’s some good advice. My daughter is four so I worry if a situation arose how I could keep her safe while trying to defend us. In a few years it might not be such a worry as she matures.

A male presence or more people would be a deterrent, or so I think. I’ll look into the Krav Magra, thanks so much!

northern raider

Y’know the other name for Operators and BGs is ” Bullet Catchers” and for good reason


Here are a couple of fun jobs for you:
Riding shotgun on a truck loaded with canned goods, medical supplies or any other items on a long list of essential materials.
Providing force protection to salvage crews that recover gasoline/diesel fuel, batteries and tires from the 50-100 million abandoned vehicles sitting on roadways.

Regardless of their size or location, communities that survive will need to be defended, but you are more likely to be working in a farm field or building a latrine (with a rifle strapped to your back) than leading a raid.


How about covering a field to keep pest animals from eating all your crops!!! Deer and Antelope are very destructive, and keeping them out of your fields will be very important. On the plus side, you can eat the meat!

northern raider

Well if it was me moving supplies to communities I would not use the roads, either riverine, maritime or cross country with pack aimals, everyone with a gun and an empty belly is going to be watching the roads. Way back when I did my Inf Training in the UK our Sergeant gave us a piece of advice I still try to comply with ” Rifleman the countryside is your friend, the shadows your mentor, the dark your natural environment. Move into your natural environment as soon as you can because highways lead to ambushes, towns lead to traps, and… Read more »


Your Sergeant is a very wise man. My suggestion centered around the tens of thousands of tractor-trailer rigs that are only going to be moving on highways, assuming that they haven’t already been stripped. But, your point still requires some measure of force protection.

northern raider

100% agree with all f your comment., but generally away from the roads you get away from opportunists, local yokels and urbanites :). Reading US Cav history was enlightening as in some ambushes the cav would dismount and fight, others they would charge but on occasion they would scatter in all directions totally defeating the ambush and regrouping elsewhere, that’s not easy to do if we stay on the roads.


That would be a great idea for the single person but not all. Not for me anyway. I will not leave my family unprotected while I protect the rich guy. I must and have learned the skill to grow my own foods and complete independent and off the grid living. That will my insurance for me and my family

Kula Farmer

Ill provide the food, and the place, the others provide the bulk of the protection, is a win win, i can do what im good at and they cando what they are good at and have a chill spot away from the larger towns.


Nope, I wouldn’t do it. Just my personal opinion is all. I would prefer to stay put on my land and protect my place and family. Not looking to be “THE” go-to-guy for security when the SHTF at all. I want my family and I to be invisible. far better for security in the long run.


1.99… not FOC

Thomas Paine in the butt

I don’t think that there will be a huge amount of mercenary work, in the sense of professional soldiers as guns for hire. A more likely scenario would be farm hand with a rifle, think “Regulators” over Hessians.

I think I could be a ranch hand with a rifle. I’d rather trade my services as a leather worker but, short of looting, I’ll do what I need to to keep my family alive.

Kristin Mcgeehan

If I didn’t have a family to care for, I may not be hired as a “gun”, but I have plenty of homestead skills that could easily find a place on someone else’s land. And I know how to shoot, and have shot, moving breathing targets, not just paper or plastic ones. I just need more practice to be able to rely on that particular skill for my bread and butter.


Its been a long time since I kicked a door in. I can’t imagine signing on to be someone’s henchman/goon, but stranger things have happened. I could see providing reconnaissance and intel gathering, but thats about it.

Seamus Bradley

Not sure if I would be all too happy to her a random guy with guns to hang around my property and family. More likely if that person is a family friend or a neighbor then they would have more “skin in the game” and likely to be trusted.

Personally I think the idea of being a hired gunslinger after the SHTF is pure fantasy for people who actually WANT the balloon to go up just so they can get out of the cubicle.

Pat Henry

You are probably right that this is fantasy for a lot of guys who have spent too much time in front of their X-boxes but you also bring up a great point. What if you had a friend that only brought muscle and some skills along with firearms to your house? In return for shelter they would help you defend your castle.

Simon Young

That was a fantastic article. You writing style is similar to mine. I think you would enjoy my novel Noah’s Pit Stop – available FOC in kindle. Post apocalyptic stuff with hired guns and the golden hoard all in it, along with a Nazi cabal and WW3. Enjoy.


Pat, You said “Your average marketing executive, social worker or accountant will likely be up a creek without a paddle unless they have some other skills to offer.” I’ll agree with the first two, but a good general accountant would be an important asset to a survival community. Someone has to be able to manage inventories of essentials and be able to understand trade-offs that affect the group’s survival prospects. For example, how much seed corn do you need to feed 500 people, and how many acres have to be planted? How many calories per day do you have to… Read more »

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