> TEOTWAWKI Blog: The Weapons of John Rourke (The Survivalist)



The Weapons of John Rourke (The Survivalist)

I've been listening through the first several books of The Survivalist series, written by Jerry Ahern and turned into audiobook format by the folks at GraphicAudio. You can read my review of the first book right here. Overall, I find the series to be enjoyable if a bit mindless entertainment. It's definitely geared towards gun nuts and actions fans; the series is like a prolonged action movie, with John Rourke playing the role of ultimate action star. He's like a mix of Rambo, Chuck Norris and MacGuyver rolled into one. If that sounds good to you, you'll enjoy these books. The Survivalist is fun entertainment, with one-liners, action and guns galore.

Yes, the guns. Lots of guns. The Survivalist series pays close attention to its firearms, with lengthy descriptions of weaponry, customizations and accessories. The series was written in the 80s, so the weapons featured are a bit dated by today's standards, but there's some style, class and history to the old stuff.

John Rourke carries with him enough weaponry for two or three normal people. He doesn't carry a whole ton of other survival gear -  some sunglasses, the occasional Mountain House meal, Bushnell binocs and a zippo lighter - but that's probably because he's got about 30 to 40 pounds of guns n' ammo on him. John Rourke's arsenal is part of the fun of the series, and rises to epic/legendary status to the reader as the books progress.

Want to find out exactly what John Rourke brings into battle, and how his weaponry stacks up for survival? Click the link below
Here's the break down Rourke's battle gear. One of the interesting things is that you can find all of Rourke's gear out on the market today, without too much trouble. Heck, lots of it is still being produced. I've listed sources where possible

The Detonics Combat Masters
Rourke's primary weapons and sidearms are a pair of matched stainless steel Detonics Combat Master pistols. Detonics were popular in the 80s; heck, Crockett from Miami Vice used one as his backup piece. They're 3.5" barreled sub-compact 1911s, pretty high-end. Nice looking, but heavy - around 30 ounces, unloaded - and with a 6+1 magazine capacity. Rourke carries two of these in a double Alessi shoulder holster, and they sport Pachmayr grips. Where the rest of Rourke's gear changes around a bit, the Detonics are a constant.

Detonics has gone through several incarnations over the past few decades, and was run by Jerry Ahern, author of the Survivalist series, for several years. They look to be under operation under the name Detonics Defense, planning to release (re-release?) the Combat Master shortly. Used Detonics .45s can also be readily found on places like GunBroker.

As a survival sidearm, the Detonics have pluses and minuses to them. Shooting akimbo, gun in each hand, is theatrical and dramatic but not generally recommended practice, and double shoulder rig is similarly "cool guy" stuff that isn't as practical/functional in real life. The Detonics themselves are  compact 1911s though - .45 ACP with accuracy, thin and more easily concealable than a full size. The 1911 is a totally valid choice for survival sidearm, IMO, so no knock on Rourke here.

Several books in, Rourke gets a Milt Sparks Six Pack magazine holder, allowing him to carry six spare mags for his Detonics.

A.G. Russell Sting 1A
Like the Detonics, the black chrome Sting 1A is Rourke's other inseparable piece of combat gear. The Sting is a pretty cool knife - a dagger with a 3.5" blade, the entire knife (handle/grip included) forged from a single piece of steel. It's the knife the famous CIA Letter Opener is modeled after, and the old black chrome knives are very sexy looking little blades.

The Sting is sometimes talked about as a survival knife, and while the one-piece design is very strong, a double edged, needle point dagger blade like this will not excel at survival tasks. It will excel at fighting, stabbing and slashing, which is what Rourke uses it for. The Sting sees a lot of use in the books; Rourke gets into his share of knife fights, slits a lot of throats and is (of course) an expert knife thrower. He carries the Sting inside his waistband, on the left side, which is a good location for such a blade, positioning it well for use fighting off someone during a gun grab.

A.G. Russell has recently re-released the Sting, albeit with wooden handle slabs and not the cool black chrome finish. If you want black, they've teamed up with CRKT to release a production version of the Sting. It's a pretty affordable little blade, coming in at $31.26 from Amazon; I saw one at the local REI the other day, too. The CRKT knife comes with an elastic sheath for ankle or wrist carry; I'd prefer a leather sheath with bootclip like the originals. I may pick one of these up for kicks, despite the fact that it's not really legal to carry most anywhere (daggers are evil, kids!).

Colt Python
Ahh the Python. Probably one of the most (if not THE most) famous modern revolvers. Rourke's Python sports Mag-na-porting, Metalife chrome finish and Pachmayr grips like his Detonics. He carries the Python on a separate gun belt in a flap holster (Safariland, I believe), along with an unknown number of Safariland Speedloaders. Rourke's is the big 6" barrel model.

Yes, this is Rourke's third sidearm, and takes an entirely different kind of ammunition from his twin Detonics .45s. Like the Detonics, the Python is also a heavy gun, weighing in at about 2.5 pounds. Plus ammo.

The Python is a legendary gun for a reason. While there may be "better" modern choices out there, the Python is still a Python, the gun that many called the best revolver ever made. I won't argue with anyone who wants to carry a Python when TEOTWAWKI rolls around.

Pythons are out of regular production and, as such, command high prices on the used market. Expect to pay over $1,400 to get into the Python club.

Colt Lawman
Rourke's 4th handgun is a 2" Colt Lawman in .357, which he carries in the small of his back. This gun does not get much action in the books, and seems to be often left out/forgotten when describing his arsenal. The Lawman and Python can share ammo and speedloaders, which is nice.

Carried on their own, the Python/Lawman combo makes sense - big blaster and a smaller, concealable backup. It especially makes sense in the early 80s, when there weren't the Glocks, M&Ps and other modern pistols on the market. Today, a similar combo could make sense for a survivor living in a state or country with strict magazine capacity limits, or one in bear country, where the extra Oomph of the .357 makes it more desirable over common autoloader cartridges.

The Lawman, like the Python, has gone out of production. The Lawman does not have the legendary status and collectors value of the Python, so it comes in at a more affordable $600-$700.

Rourke's personal rifle is a Colt AR-15 with a collapsible stock and a Colt 3x scope. This is a pretty conservative choice for survival rifle; can't really argue with it. Rourke carries a musette bag filled with spare magazines for the AR; the old-school "rifle fighting bag." He will often pick up extra AR-15s or M-16s to carry into battle.

The above is Rourke's "core" armament, at least for the books that I have gotten through. Rourke has additional weapons that he uses off and on - a Steyr-Mannlicher SSG sniper rifle, a Freedom Arms mini revolver, additional 1911s, and various "found" weapons used on a temporary basis. He's also an expert in hand to hand combat - a "double Tae Kwon Do kick" being one of his signature moves.

Yes, four heavy handguns, an AR-15 and gobs of mags and ammo. Despite all the firepower, Rourke is often running empty and resorting to the Sting 1A and hand-to-hand or grabbing weapons from the enemy. He mows through that many people, and on a fairly regular basis. What can I say - he's John Rourke, the Survivalist.

Individually, none of Rourke's survival weaponry is completely bizarre, improbably or crazy--even today, some 30 years later. His overall loadout is certainly action-hero dramatic, but I guess if I was going up against a couple hundred Commie special forces guys at once, I'd pack as much firepower as I could, too.

Photo Search
If anyone owns the above weapons (Stainless Detonics, double Alessi shoulder rig, Milt Sparks Six Pack, Python, Lawman, original black chrome Sting 1A, etc.) and has pictures they'd like to share, shoot me a line at teotwawki.blog@gmail.com. Fame, glory and maybe some freebies will be your reward. No snagging pictures off the internet and trying to pass 'em off as your own, either.