Concerned about war and tensions between Ukraine and Russia, American consumers are buying up survival gear — specifically of the nuclear variety.
But what products are flying off shelves and can the industry keep up? Pew Pew Tactical sat down with a few gear companies to get the details on what consumers can expect moving forward.
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Survival Companies See a Boom
Ready Made Resources in Tennessee is a survival/preparedness gear store in the world.
Owner Robert Griswold is both a wealth of information and a friend of James Wesley Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com.
Speaking on sales of nuclear war survival gear over the past two months, he said purchases have absolutely gone through the roof. For years nuclear war survival equipment, he explained, had been largely put on the backburner.
There were sales of gas masks, hazmat suits, potassium iodide, and the like, but those items weren’t at the forefront of peoples’ minds.
“Sales of this type of equipment were slack until the whole invasion started,” Griswold said.
He’s stated that anything related to nuclear war survival is currently “unobtainium.” That’s not just for his business, but for the entire industry.
Geiger counters are difficult to keep in stock (Mazur are the best, he notes). All of his potassium iodide is sold out.
It’s even up the chain to the wholesalers, who are out of stock as well. The only way that people can get potassium iodide now, he said, was via eBay, where what was previously a $12 bottle of pills now costs upwards of $250.
He can keep gas masks in stock, but the filters for them — many of which came from Russia — are now very difficult to find.
He says this is not only because of the skyrocketing demand for these goods but because of the inability to produce. The manufacturers he deals with can’t find the employees necessary to churn out enough products.
Even Ready Made Resources has found it difficult to find employees of late.
And due to this perfect storm — increased demand, supply chain problems, sanctions, and worker shortages — what was once next day shipping for Ready Made Resources has now been pushed back to two weeks.
It takes more than just gas masks and hazmat suits to survive a nuclear war, however. Grain mills, night vision, freeze-dried foods — they’re all very hard to obtain right now — with prices increasing or products unavailable.
“It’s all just gone,” Griswold said. “People are buying everything.”
(Psst, we have the deets on how to make your own MREs here!)
Perhaps the most infamous piece of gear for surviving a nuclear strike is the Geiger counter. Hollywood has caused its eerie chirp/ticking sound to be etched in the minds of millions.
GeigerCounters.com said it’s currently out of stock of a number of Geiger counters.
In the month of February, they sold 28 Geiger counters — a fairly standard number for them. But in March, the company reported a 500+% sales increase — selling 158 units.
The company said a majority of its customers have always wanted a Geiger counter, but it was just a matter of urgency now.
Amazon & Google: A Sudden Burst in Survival Searches
Amazon searches for the past few weeks have also shown a similar pattern. Products related to nuclear war survival seem to be in short supply.
ioSAT, a brand of potassium iodide, ships 3 to 4 weeks after the initial purchase. Hazmats also seemed to be in short supply as well.
While there were plenty of full-face gas masks, the majority of these didn’t accept NATO canisters. Instead, they’re primarily designed for working around fumes or gasses. Similar problems exist when searching for dosimeters.
It doesn’t appear to just be gear that people are looking for, but information as well.
Cresson Kearney’s Nuclear War Survival Skills is no longer in stock on Amazon — something that happened within the past month.
Used copies of the US Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Survival Manual now sell for $15 – roughly the same cost as buying one new.
Ready Made Resources’ book section also reported NBC Warfare: Protecting Yourself as out of stock.
Data from Google Trends, a resource that allows one to search the prevalence of keywords searched via Google, shows massive spikes in “potassium iodide,” “gas mask,” “nuclear fallout,” and “nuclear war” — all spiking immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Americans are gearing up — from Geiger counters to gas masks to potassium iodine — consumers are grabbing what they can.
And the result is more and more gear flying off shelves as quickly as it’s stocked.
For more on gear you might want to stock up on check our top recommendations:
Have you bought any survival gear recently? Let us know what you grabbed in the comments below. For more on survival, check out our whole category dedicated to Survival & Prepping.
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