Book Review: Holding Your Ground

Most of the books that we review are somewhat general in nature. An overview, if you will, of the skills needed for survival. “Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart” by Joe Nobody is of a different mold.

USA Berkey Filters

By Captain Bart, contributing author

Joe Nobody spends his time talking about the defense of your location, armed and otherwise.  The focus of the book is for the prepper who has not had the benefit of special ops or military small unit training.  By providing a way to judge your defensive posture and improve it where needed Joe provides a solid base upon which to build a secure and defensible area.


The book starts from the basics.  The author assumes you know nothing about defending your retreat, not even the terminology so he starts at the basement and builds up.  The book provides a tool, in the form of a spreadsheet (layout is in the appendix for you to enter – no software provided) that will calculate required levels of defense for a given location as well as the skill level of the defender.  Put together, it provides a ‘score’ for your ability to defend your position.  For the untrained, it will be an eye opener as you consider the things that make a place ideal or untenable.

One of the best things I liked was the assumption that ‘hordes’ of MZB was not the issue.  Joe points out early that if you come up against a couple of M1A1 Abrams tanks, you lose.  If you come up against an organized military unit, you lose.  In many situations, you will lose and in those situations, bugging out at the correct time and in the correct manner are the secret to survival.

Methods of choosing fighting positions, observation posts, access paths, in short, everything to do with a retreat are covered and covered in such a way that your retreat doesn’t look like Ft. Apache.  That would annoy the Home Owners Association and isn’t the most effective defense anyway.

About the Author

Joe Nobody is obviously a ‘nom de plume‘ and other than what you can glean from inside the book, not much is available.  His style of writing is interesting and the coverage of the topic thorough. That he lives in the Southeast part of Texas is apparent from his examples and location choices.  If you know a military trained vet, he will agree that Joe seems to know his material fairly well.

Favorite Part

The general lay out of “Holding Your Ground” is perhaps its greatest strength.  Starting from nothing we are lead through the various levels of difficulty.  We start with the basic description of the problem.  Once the Who, What, Where, and Why are taken care of, we move on into the How do we secure our site at a price we can afford.  The methodology of determining the strengths and weaknesses of various parts of our plan is the main benefit of this book.


I thought the primary weakness of “Holding Your Ground” was Chapter 12, Weapons.  Joe states ” If you are a gun person, feel free to skip this chapter.  It is written for those who have little experience with firearms.”  I would have liked the book better if I had taken his advice and skipped over the chapter.

While I do like his division into 3 classes (Long range, Medium Range, Close Quarters) and recognize that this is a book focused solely on the defense part of prepping, the choice of weapons he chose for each class was, to my mind, unfortunate.  While the .308 Winchester is certainly an excellent weapon for long range, the exclusion of every other caliber except .50 cal BMG and .338 Lapua is a disservice.  In addition, Joe seems to think that the AR pattern weapon platform is the only acceptable one as it is a ‘military’ pattern.  The fact that most AR’s are not manufactured to Mil-Spec standards is totally missed as is the fact that .223 and 5.56 medium range rounds are NOT interchangeable.  He blithely states there are ‘some minor differences’ but get it wrong in the wrong gun and you are in trouble.  Finally, he seems to think that a 12 gauge is substantially more effective than a 20 gauge and this is simply not the case for Close Quarters combat.

Telling me that the most important factor about an AR pattern rifle is that it “LOOKS EVIL” really has no place in what is an otherwise decent book.  The rest of the equipment section is decent and has some interesting ideas to be considered.


With the exception of the Weapons part of Chapter 12, I thought this was an excellent book for a new prepper.  It is a much easier read than the military handbooks, contains excellent decision making tools, and should prove useful in setting up a survival location.  Some of the equipment he lists as “must haves” is expensive, in some cases it is of doubtful usefulness and in others less expensive options exist.  I give this book a conditional recommendation. What is right with the book is very right and very useful. What is wrong with the book is all in chapter 12 and its sub-chapters.  Plenty of food for thought in it but also what I see as glaring, in some cases dangerous, errors.  I would recommend the book to anyone for the methodology.  I also strongly caution the reader to take chapter 12 with a whole tablespoon of salt.  If you see something there you like, and there are some things, do your own research and check with people you trust.  Used carefully this book will serve your well.

Available on Amazon: (Click Here)
e-Reader Version: (Click Here)

Get Exclusive Survival Articles!

Subscribe and get survival prep, gear reviews, and guides sent to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

36 thoughts on “Book Review: Holding Your Ground”

    • Walrus,
      Interesting. I have the Kindle edition, I don't know if there is any difference with the print edition.
      My chapter headings are:
      1 Who should read this book?
      2 Decisions
      3 How to use this book
      4 The Methodology of Preparing your defense
      5 The Event Horizon
      6 The Location
      7 Assets
      8 The Perimeter
      9 Safety in Numbers
      10 Low Rise Apartments and Condos
      11 High Rise Apartments and Condos
      12 Weapons
      13 Rules of Engagement
      Appendix A
      Did the print edition combine 10 and 11 maybe?

      • For me, the chapters are as follows:
        1.Decisions – 9 pgs
        2.How To Use This Book – 4 pgs
        3.The Methodology Of Preparing Your Defense – 10 pgs
        4.The Event Horizon – 12 pgs
        5.The Location – 10 pgs
        6.Assets – 72 pgs
        7.The Perimeter – 13 pgs
        8.Safety In Numbers – 4 pgs
        9.Low Rise Apartments And Condos – 4 pgs
        10.Highrise Apartments And Condos – 2 pgs
        11.Weapons – 13 pgs
        12.The Rules Of Engagement – 2 pgs
        13.The Author’s Plan – 6 pgs
        Appendix A – 1 pg
        Final Page Number – 169

        This is a 2011 edition and it looks like the chapter “Who Should Read This Book” was dropped and “The Author’s Plan” was added. It would be interesting to see if the “Weapons” chapter was revised as I have seen criticism from many other reviews as well.

  1. I thought Hold Your Ground was, over all, pretty solid. But, I did role my eyes a bit at the "it looks evil" comment. Para militaries have a long history and it's pretty much all bad, why you'd want to look like you're part of one is beyond me. Post SHTF, people walking down a street in my neighborhood dressed up in molle gear and caring AR-15's would probably send up all sorts of red flags. Someone with a backpack, a 30-30, and wearing clothes from LL Bean would look like someone from the neighborhood and probably wouldn't get much of a second glance.

    • "Post SHTF, people walking down a street in my neighborhood dressed up in molle gear and caring AR-15's would probably send up all sorts of red flags. Someone with a backpack, a 30-30, and wearing clothes from LL Bean would look like someone from the neighborhood and probably wouldn't get much of a second glance. "

      Really? ReallY?

      I get tired of hearing this parroted across the net, again and again.

      The whole world has fallen apart and the guy dress in combat gear is a bigger concern that the guy dressed like a hunter?

      Why would a ARMED stranger stand out more because because he has a AR instead of a 30-30? Wouldn't ANY stranger be consider a risk?

      Or are you so conditioned to only think one way?


      Thought his book was very good and have bought all of them. Much better then most that just lift chapters from Military manuals.

      • I can see your point and have thought about that to some extent.

        I would rather see a well armed a/k/a well supplied person than some guy with nothing just wandering around looking in car windows.

        People who "show their force" from clothing, AR 15, fortified house, etc… are actually tying to keep you away from them while the "wandering person" who looks harless is really hungry and desperate.

      • CDW,
        the difference is the marketing. AR pattern, AK, and SKS type rifles are "combat" or "mil-spec" rifles. Most of the hunters I know do not consider an AR as a "hunting" weapon. For that reason alone, the AR, AK, and to a lesser extent (because of publicity) M1 Garand type weapons – for that matter ANY recognized "military" weapon looks like you are expecting combat. The 30-30 is so ubiquitous around the area I grew up in they are not noticed as "assault rifles". I know, I know, it is because of clowns like the Brady bunch, er, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center (read the Brady I want you disarmed and helpless bunch) hold up an AR pattern and scream about "assault rifles" any time a long arm is used in a crime.
        Even knowing that, a great many people react as Michael said. Doesn't make it right and I would hope we are a little better trained than that BUT who is more likely to be a mall ninja – the guy with the 30-30 or the guy in camouflage toting an AR?
        It is about what the mall ninjas buy into (the assault space gun motif) versus what we know.

      • It's not a difference between a guy dressed in combat gear and a guy dressed as a hunter, it's a difference between a guy (or gal) that looks like they belong in my neighborhood and one that does not. It's also the difference between someone that looks like they're just trying to get home and someone, or some group, that looks like they're out to start a war or take over the neighborhood.

        • And really, it's just something to think about. How do you want project yourself and how might people perceive you? That's going to vary person to person and place to place. There might be places where Molle gear and an AR would be just fine, but in my neck of the woods I doubt they would be. However, hiking clothes, a backpack, and something like a .30-30 or a coach gun probably wouldn't raise many flags.

        • So a soldier or a vet doesn't belong in your neighborhood?

          Someone in military grab doesn't want to get home? Only your hunters do?

          You think your enemies are ONLY going to wear uniforms? Charge at you with bugles going?

          • No, I think it's sometimes hard to communicate what you mean over the internet and you're misunderstanding what I'm trying to say. What it boils down to is this, people that look like they fit in in a neighbor hood wont draw many looks or red flags those who standout will. For me, I'd try to look like I fit in.

          • CDW,
            Remember it is not about what is right or what should be, it is about what is. Ground truth is all that will matter and in many neighborhoods the tricked out AR pattern rifle will remind folks of what they saw on TV. Maybe isn't right but it simply is. Feel free to disagree but remember, you are playing 'you bet your life' on the perception other folks will have of you so consider carefully what conclusion they might draw. Not what they SHOULD think, but what a scared home owner who isn't really into the preparedness scene might think. All the woulda, shoulda, coulda, what ifs won't matter if the other guy gets the wrong idea. Mistakes will be made, both ways, no matter what we do but we can do our best not to raise tensions in an already tense time. Think Gray.

          • When comes down to it perhaps he lives in a prepy gated community that has more former yuppies than the nearest GAP or Old Navy store. I live in a neighborhood more likely to see a serving Reservist or National Guard's man or woman or a Cop or former Cop in uniform, though the only one armed maybe the Cop heading to their car. But in a post disaster/ SHTF the home owner with the best weapon he or she has will be the one protecting his or her home. In the TEOTWAWKI scenariors the people that take the initiative to protect what they have even if that is to relocate from a formerly safe location if it is compromised by a larger force will live the longest. Never take on more than you can handle.

        • well as it is I'm a person that served fifteen years six months in the Army National Guard in my state and I can attest that even as a Reenactor for two years and six month that I never drew more attention that a slow moving Monte Carlo with dark tinted windows would. In fact when Cops did see me in full WW-2 gear with my Garand they stopped and chatted and the wanta be bad boys in the tricked out Montes would drive by with their windows down and waving howdies to me.

  2. it was a worthwhile read. I thought it would have better info though. I have not calculated my defense capabilities with his system of equations. Perhaps doing that would make me have a better respect for the book. The info is pretty basic for the most part. I also laughed at the weapons chapter. His gun being "death incarnate" at 9000 yards or whatever he stated, I loled.

    • OK, I think it was "only" 900 yards :-), but yeah there were some 'interesting' concepts in the weapons part. If you have military training, the book may be a little simple but for those with no history of defending a position other than what they see on TV, this book is a start.

  3. Good review. Defence is not commonly thought of until it’s too late. Avenues of approach, obsticles, key terrain, channelized movement. These are also good to know about when you are the one doing the snooping and pooping. Does he mention safe rooms and ballistic protection?
    I agree about the 12 gage vs 20 gage in that the ballistics can make a difference when going against hardened or armered targets. Could also be the difference in a one shot stop or multiple shot stop… Know what I mean?

  4. I haven't read the book and probably wont! However, the review is a bit baffling! "that .223 and 5.56 medium range rounds are NOT interchangeable," I find confusing. Can someone attempt to explain this? And, "Finally, he seems to think that a 12 gauge is substantially more effective than a 20 gauge and this is simply not the case for Close Quarters combat", I also find this statement very contradictory to everything the military teaches. Please, someone enlighten me to a different thought pattern!!

  5. yes it is true that 5.56mm x 45mm nato is very similar to .223 they are not identical. there are at least two exceptions where they can be interchanged but it has to do with the weapon Not the cartridge. as has been said military cartridges have thicker brass and have more powder which translates to more pressure. the .223 chambers have a shorter leade and require a lower pressure (saami chamber) . the 5.56x45mm chamber has a longer leade and handles higher pressures..generally a .223 will fire in the 5.56 chamber— but the 5.56 in the .223 is very dangerous. your rifle should have a stamp on the barrel/reciever stating what the rifle is chambered for. .223 rem or 5.56x45mm —- or 5.56/.223 (both). –a lot of surplus cheaper widely available ammo is in 5.56x45mm. caveat empor buyer beware. if you dont know find out. dont be a casualty. you may get away with it a few times but why risk your eyes or life in an exploded barrel ?

  6. Another option for less recoil on a 12 is to lighten your loads, add a good recoil pad, use a shooting jacket, pull the butt stock in tight, and go with a blow back automatic. Ultimately some people prefer one over the other. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Weigh them for yourself and decide what works best for you and yor family. Check out the connetic energy on impact specs from a good relaoding manual… Usually expressed in lbs. per square inch. If you are trying to shoot a bad guy hiding behind your book case or trash cans you want higher velocity and more penitration on impact… Slugs. If you want to drop some with the first round in the open you want shot… More chance of hitting them and a high energy patern over a large surface area. Capt B has articulated some good reasons for the 20… Beware of advice that cannot be well ariculated. My wife would prefer the 20 or a 410 but she never wants to go shooting anyway so I ain’t buying her one. A lot of people are strongly opinionated about what is the best self defence/SHTF set up. Research, shoot, evaluate, and make a decision you are comfortable with. One piece of advice: Get something with easy to find, commonly used ammo. Exotic rounds are not survival rounds.

    • Excellent advice. The BEST set up is the one you will shoot enough to be proficient with and will put enough energy on target to get the job done without killing the family across the street. In the shotgun world, that is almost any of them, given the right ammo and a willingness to practice. I agree about your commonly used ammo. One reason I prefer the .410 to the 28 gauge is the more readily available ammo for the .410.

      I fear too many of us bought into 12s as younger folks and just stopped looking at other options. Low recoil ammo helps as does some of the special stocks and, you are right, auto-loaders are softer than doubles or pumps. Still, I see no compelling reason to believe the guy who uses a 20 is at a disadvantage at CQB distances as compared to the 12. Slugs may, again I say may, be a different case but unless you have to breach a door or stop a bear at the extreme end of your range do you want slugs in your home defense firearm? I want to stop the intruder (or have my bride be able to do so) at ranges around 5 yards. That is the mission profile. That does not take a 3 inch, 12 gauge round in my not so humble opinion.

      • Shotgun wise people might want to go with whatever's most useful for them when they're using it for non SD purposes.

        I have 20 gauges as it's all I need for busting clay pigeons and the occasional grouse hunting trip. It's actually better for grouse hunting as the birds are small and the ranges they're hunted at are quite short.

        I like not having a recoil pad on a SD shot gun incase I need to turn it around and butt stroke someone or something with it. I'm mostly thinking feral dogs here, as a way to get them away from your feet for safer shooting.

        • Agreed, sir. The Army taught me the usefulness of the "vertical butt stroke". Bayonet drill does not depend on there actually being a bayonet on the end of the rifle. Unfortunately, civilians don't get the bayonet training unless they have a GOOD instructor. Still, worth thinking about.

  7. One Item I carry in my B.O.B are 30.06 rounds. I haven't owned a 30.06 for several years. However the 30.06 is one the most produced calibers in the US and if nothing else the ammo might be a useful bartering tool. The box doesn't weigh that much or take up much space. If nothing else I can pull out the bullets and have powder for wet tender.

  8. Thanks for the input guys! Just needed some clarification and different points of view, especially on the 12 GA issue. BTW, this is a GREAT site!

  9. What is the author supposed to do, offer an encyclopedia version of recommended firearms? It sounds as if he threw out the disclaimer that if you're a gun guy-which can sometimes mean narrow-minded know-it-all-then simply skip this chapter. Just from the review, I would have to agree with the few simple recommendations he made for firearms. Anymore would be pleasing to the "gun guy" but annoying to someone who just wants to know the basics.

    • I have not read the book, so my only resources are the review and follow up comments. I did NOT think the review bashed the author, even on the weapons section but stated some omissions such as the 223/5.56 interchangability; which if dealing with a novice weapons owner can be fatal. The comment on not covering more caliber selection is just that, the reviewer's opinion that more common rounds should have been covered; I do not think a 50 BMG or 338 Lapua is "common" for a novice rifle buyer nor practical. The 30/06, 308, 270, etc are more common calibers.
      Based on the review, I would consider the book personally. As for Capt bart, I've read many of his articles and comments on other reviews and weapons forums and have never noticed a "Narrow-minded know-it-all" attitude as his weapon of choices is "whatever is in thy hand". He is partial to the 45 ACP or Colt, but I've seen him encourage and recommend other calibers based on the person asking the questions criteria.

    • Alex,
      My apologies if you understood me to be critical of his self defense weapons. I was critical of his chapter 12 as being way too narrow and inaccurate as well. Actually, if he had simply reference "Boston's Gun Bible", for example, I'd have been a lot less critical. As it was, he pushed as the only correct options expensive weapons that I frankly don't agree with in the first place, was dangerous as he proposed it, and used the appearance of the AR platform as the prime reason for choosing it. Three really, really lousy reasons for a weapons selection. His chapter 12 was full of expensive, high tech options that while nice may be of limited use in a grid down situation. I thought that an good book was marred by what was a needlessly, self-inflicted wound.
      It was my intent to say, read the book for the tactics and methods of defending your location but read something else before selecting weapons.

  10. I understand the premise of the book from the review, but I've had second thoughts about using .223 or 5.56mm as this round is not legal in my state for game bigger than a varmit. In fact I will have to use what I already own. I own an M1 Garand and an M59/ 66A1 SKS. .30-06 with 150 gr bullets or 7.62x39mm is perhaps a better choice for me. In my case these are the chamberings I have and spending more on another rifle is not in my budget. Now if you're bugging out you need to understand that you should use what you have to the best of your abilities to protect yourself and loved ones. The same advice applies to a bugging in situation.

  11. Sounds like a good read. I’ll skip chapter 12 like you recommend.

    I have been reading this website for a year now and in that time, Capt. Bart, I have found your posts thoughtful and well thought out. Reading your posts have swung me towards getting a 10/22 and then the Mini-14 I want. Train to perfect the skill then get the more defensive /big game gun. It’s cheaper to learn to fly a Piper Cub then jump up to a F-14. (Just cause I know your a pilot.)

    Keep up the good advice and thanks

    • Thank you for the kind words, Ben. Good rifle choices, by the way. I don't have a 10/22 but I sure wish I did. I shot one (one of the Boy Scout versions) and I loved the way that little rifle shot, right out of the box! I was drawing outlines on the target at about 50 yards with it. A real blast!


Leave a Comment

Get Exclusive Survival Articles!

Subscribe and get survival prep, gear reviews, and guides sent to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.