Glossary of Survival Terms and Acronyms

GlossarySurvival Tactics NOW! Glossary of Terms

Survivalists tend to use a lot of military acronyms such as OPSEC and SOP, and terminology common among peak oil adherents and gun culture. They also use terms that are unique to their own lexicon—the following are some key survivalist terms and acronyms include in this glossary:

Alpha Strategy:

The practice of storing extra consumable items, as a safeguard against inflation, and for use in barter and charity. Coined by John Pugsley.


The 7.62mm NATO predecessor of the M16 rifle, designed by Eugene Stoner. Early AR-10s (mainly Portuguese, Sudanese, and Cuban contract, from the late 1950s and early 1960s) are not to be confused with the present-day semi-auto only “AR-10” rifles that are more closely interchangeable with parts from the smaller caliber AR-15.


Semi-automatic civilian variants of the U.S. Army M4 rifle.

Ballistic Wampum:

Ammunition stored for barter purposes. Coined (in the survivalist context) by Jeff Cooper.


Bug-In-Bag: A kit of essentials designed for “hunkering down”, in place. See also: BOB.

Big Sandbox:

Generic term for the Middle East


A Bivy is an extremely small, lightweight, waterproof shelter, and an alternative to traditional tent systems.


Browning Machine Gun. Usually  refers to .50 cal. BMG, the U.S. military’s standard heavy machine gun cartridge since the early 20th Century. This cartridge is now often used for long-range precision counter-sniper rifles.




Bug-Out-Location; synonymous with retreat.


A stout object that is used to confine traffic within or from a given area. These are typically 4 to 6 foot long vertical members made of concrete, steel, or wood set at least 18″ in the ground with at least 30″ exposed.


Be On the LoOkout (see also: Attempt To Locate – ATL)




Command and Control


Command, Control and Communications Countermeasures


Depending on context: 1. Command, Control, Communications, Computers.  2. Composition 4 (plastic explosive)


Command, Control, Communications, Computers & Intelligence


“C4”, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance


Command, Control, Communications, Computers & Navigation


A short-barreled rifle originally developed for use by cavalry, but now popular for mechanized infantry. See: AK and M4.

Carrington Event:

A naturally occurring EMP-like effect, caused by a large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) of the Sun. (See also: CME and EMP.)


Chemical, Biological, and Radiological warfare. This acronym has been largely superseded by Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) warfare.


Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive. Spoken “Sea-Burn” (see also: Consequence Management Reaction Force – CCMRF)


Concealed Carry License (see also: CHL)


Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions


Objects, materials or terrain that prevents detection by sight, sound or movement (see also: camouflage)


Any barrier which is capable of physically protecting an individual from enemy fire. Cover is differentiated from the concept of concealment, in that an object or area of concealment only affords the benefit of stealth, not protection from small arms fire or artillery fragments.


Closed Circuit Television.


Depending on context: 1. Carrying a Concealed Weapon; 2. Counter-Clockwise.

Cleaner-Lubricant-Protectant (CLP):

A Mil-Spec lubricant, sold under the trade name “Break Free CLP”


COunter INsurgency


A CONtinental EXpress shipping container. They are the standard steel or aluminum international shipping containers used on trucks, railcars, and ships.  Usually manufactured in 20, 30, and 40-ft lengths. In recent years, they have been used as weatherproof lockable storage sheds as well as semi-permanent living structures.


Acronym for CONcept of OPerationS usually referring to military operations.


Acronym for Combat Outpost.


A cord is a unit of dry volume used in Canada and the United States to measure an amount of firewood.  One cord is a 128 ft­­­3 (≈ 3.62 m3), corresponding to a woodpile 8 ft wide x 4 ft high of 4 ft long logs. In the metric system, wood is usually measured in steres or cubic metres: 1 stere = 1 m3 ≈ 0.276 cords.  In the United States, the cord is defined by statute in most states. Wood is also sold by the “face cord” (sometimes called a “rick”), which is usually not legally defined, and varies regionally.”


Individuals who foolishly invests in a declining market.  Coined by James Wesley Rawles.


Acronym for Command Post.


Acronym for Close Quarters Battle (see also: Close Quarters Combat CQC)


A general term for a major, long-term disaster (see also: Zombie Apocalypse, WTSHTF, TEOTWAWKI).

Deep Cycling (Deep Discharging):

Discharging a battery to 20 percent or less of its full charge. This shortens the life of most types of batteries.

Deep Larder Concept:

A pantry stocked with foods and essential oils for a family for 2+ years


A slightly yellowish oil; the active ingredient in most modern topical insect repellents (N,N-Diethyl-meta-Toluamide). It is intended to be applied to the skin or to clothing, and provides protection against mosquito, tick, and flea bites, chiggers, and many other biting insects.


Do It Yourself

Dirty Bomb:

A conventional explosive used to propel radioactive materials–designed solely to cause contamination and incapable of reaching critical mass.


U.S. Department of Defense. It was more appropriately called The War Department before the onset of political correctness. DOD can also refer to Depth of Discharge — a battery technology ter,


U.S. Department of Energy (a U.S. Federal government agency)


A Peak Oil adherent who believes in a Malthusian-scale societal collapse.

Every Day Carry (EDC):

Items carried at all times in the event that a disaster strikes while a person is away for their residence or retreat. Often refers to the normal carrying of a pistol for self-defense, or (as a noun) the actual pistol which is carried.


End Of The World.


The systematic encoding of a message or bit stream before transmission to prevent unauthorized recipients from understanding it. The process of again rendering the information readable is Decryption.

Electromagnetic pulse (EMP):

An extreme level of electromagnetic energy sufficient to burn out computer chips that may be caused by solar flares or by atmospheric nuclear explosions. Such an event would disable the internet, telephones, computers, and devices that rely on computer controls, including automobiles, the electrical grid, and household appliances.


A criminal miscreant, coined (in the survivalist context) by Jeff Cooper.

Golden Horde:

The anticipated large mixed horde of refugees and looters that will pour out of the metropolitan regions WTSHTF.  Coined (in the survivalist context) by James Wesley Rawles.


Acronym for Get Out Of Dodge [city].  Fleeing the local area (usually urban) in the event of a disaster. Coined (in the survivalist context) by James Wesley Rawles.


Acronym for Get Out Of Dodge Kit, synonymous with Bug-Out-Bag (BOB).

Hard Money:

Currency that is either redeemable in precious metals, or issued in the form of precious metals…think gold, silver, and platinum.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization. An intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.


Survival Tactics NOW’s acronym for No Other Way. This term describes the “best-of-the-best” in terms of overall readiness for any survival scenario. It is also the highest category in the Survival Tactics NOW proprietary three tiered rating system. The “NOW!” rating is reserved strictly for means, methods, gear and equipment that Survival Tactics NOW endorses as the standard of performance, above all others, for its quality and craftsmanship, cost, added functionality beyond its primary purpose, and/or used exclusively by one or more members of our team.

Peak Oil:

According to M. King Hubbert’s “Hubbert Peak Theory,” “Peak Oil” is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.  In laymen’s terms, demand for fossil fuels (gas and oil) will greatly exceed availability resulting in super-inflation of gas prices.

Pollyanna [Polly]:

Individual that is in denial about the possible disruption that might be caused by the advent of a large-scale disaster.


A synonym for survivalist that came into common usage during the late 1990s. It is used interchangeably with survivalist much as retreater was in the 1970s. It refers to one who is prepared or making preparations.


Shit Hits The Fan. A term used generically by survivalists to describe disaster situations.


Acronym for The End Of The World As We Know It. This term has been in use since the early 80s, specifically by survivalists or preppers.


When The Shit Hits The Fan. A term used generically by survivalists to describe disaster situations.


Without Rule Of Law.  This describes a completely lawless state of society.


You’re On Your Own. Coined (in the survivalist context) by David Weed.


Unprepared, incidental survivors of a disaster that “feed” on the preparations of others.

Zombie Apocalypse:

Often used as a metaphor for any large-scale natural or man-made disaster in which “Zombies” or “walking corpses” of your family and/or neighbors are trying to “eat you alive”. However, there are some, who are seriously preparing for a zombie (walking dead) attack in the literal sense.