How to build survival fortifications

Readers have requested I do an article on how to build a survival fortification.

So here it is.

-I often hear of people in America living in wooden houses who have storm shutters that cover their windows, made of ply wood-so long as you understand these are only storm shutters and a wooden house wont stop bullets, and in no way make your house a fortress , then go ahead, they may help for storms … but thats not what we are discussing.

Firstly we need to establish your strategy, to determine the answer to the question of fortification.

Are you bugging-in or out, are you planning on building them before or after an event, what are your foreseeable threats, how big will your labor force be to build it and how big is your garrison that need shelter and food stored inside for a siege , what force could you expect to attack you and finally what is your budget ?

Layers of defenses

Next lets talk about layers of defenses

all defenses should have multiple layers, fences within fences , walls within walls , layers provide time to defenders to react and prepare,  and slow an attacker down, a good defender understands the fact that any defensive structure can be overcome in time, and that defenses are only effective when defended by a garrison.

Bugging out 

If bugging out, your best bet is to include a shovel in your gear and plan to dig fox holes and possibly rig trip-wires, these are used by infantry, specifically because they offer the best protection for the amount of equipment carried, they are also cheap and effective, and can be dug very quickly, but they are not great to live in especially in bad weather, and are not a great long term solution. they are best kept to bug out plans, and small groups.

You can add sand bags to your fox hole if you plan on staying a while, they are also cheap , light when empty and fast to deploy, they also are very effective at stopping bullets.

Bugging out in a vehicle?

take a shovel, sandbags and a few sheets of corrugated iron and build a block house( like mentioned  elsewhere on my blog). the sheets of  iron can stop bullets ( if spaced a few cm’s apart and back filled with dirt ) and offer protection against the elements in the form of a roof …

Take a look at my blog post on block houses and ferro cement – the block houses applies here – they were “bugged out” on ox wagon and horse back back in the 1800’s in to the middle of nowhere so its a good idea to copy these.

(as a side note the issue i have with bugging out, is many try imitate infantry, and  forget that infantry have a logistical supply chain, supplying ammo, food and water. The garrison of a fort must eat and drink and cannot if bugging out — its simply impractical to carry enough food with you for a garrison for a long term — if you have solved this problem then let the army know its been an issue since forever and even Napoleon considered this the armies Achilles heal and  is often quoted as having said that “an army marches on its stomach.”  and I know some will say hunting … thats everyones idea and the land will be stripped bare in weeks)

Bugging IN

If bugging in your have many more options –

Fortifying with sand-bags, they are cheap, effective and you can store many empty ones and they can be deployed when needed,  but they are very  labor intensive,

In my opinion corrugated iron sheets are cheaper and can be stapled to the sides (inside or out) of a wooden house with a gap of 10 inches or 20 cm’s  away from the wall and then back filled with dirt, that would go a long way to helping  make that side bullet proof.

that said, a double brick walls will stop single shots from most hand guns, if they are made with proper clay bricks, and not cheap big block bricks (which must also be reinforced) .

Starting out with bug-in fortifications, firstly, get a gun … or other projectile weapon, it is pointless to fortify without a weapon to defend your fortification, and firearms do the job best, man up , and DO IT.

The longer the gun, the better, I mean there are many reasons to buy different weapons but, high rate of fire, quick reload  and long range are the greatest requirements for fortification defensive weapons.

for example a cross bow with a range of 400 m attackers running at +- 8 m a second ( almost Olympic sprinting speed)will get to you in 400 / 8 = 50 seconds – that means if it takes you 3 second to reload and 2 seconds to aim and shoot you only have a chance of loosing 10 shots before the enemy is upon you that is assuming they if they are using hand weapons, if you have an assault rifle, accurate to 800m ( a FN Fal or what ever)  you have 100 seconds to fire maybe more if you consider that 800m is far to sprint for all but the very lightly equipped  , lets say you can fire 100 rounds in 100 seconds , thats 10 times more than a cross bow. long range and quick loading multiplies force

ok, next you need a detection system – dogs if well trained will do nicely and have been used by estate owners for years for this reason, electric alarms work for a while while parts allow, trip wires with cans to alert the dogs works well, they can hear much better than you or I.

And then there is my favorite , if you are really serious about defenses get a marine radar , they can detect movement at a few miles away, and set off an alarm for investigation by a garrison.

ok, next you need a good lighting system, that can be switched on rapidly should you get attacked , electric if you can , gas if you can spare it, hardened (instructions  in my other posts ).

and now we come down to the physical barriers that you can put up:

Barbed or razor wire is good at slowing people down,  best used in coils , or stretched out taught, so that if its cut, it will slash those who would cut it, fences need less labor than walls and can be shot through, so provide no cover to the enemy, these are your best solution to the outer line of defense.

Moats are good and can  be disguised as a fish pond if done in advance, they don’t have to be regular sizes or shapes, get creative.

Ditches, in conjunction with fences, provide barriers to thrown weapons like petrol bombs and grenades.

see my blog on farm defenses for more info.

Plants like brambles can be used to channel attacks much like natural barb wire

Hedges can be used to help with light discipline to screen lights at night and when combined with fences they can very effectively channel people, or slow them down.

Walls are a great last line of defense .. but they are only as good as someone defending them – if your foreseen opponent has no  artillery then high walls on a hill are better and can be thinner …

if they do then low walls that are thicker can be better … with a large dry moat much like they used in the 1600’s – accurate cannons made them less desirable but they were still used in places like capetown where the main threat was actually from the native population that wasnt armed with big guns.

Fields of fire need to overlap and be mapped out. improvised claymores and night vision make for a very well kitted out fort.

And lastly Improvised Claymore mines, made from pipe sections and explosives with electric fuses, that can be remotely set off.

Man traps multiply forces, like pit traps, dead falls and other traps should always be used if possible.


in closing the garrison will make or break the fort – if you have guards who don’t sleep on duty, are observant and look after them you might just survive.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s