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“The Survivalist” Book Series by Jerry Ahern

Author Jerry Ahern’s “The Survivalist” series was his longest running at 29 volumes*. Set during the height of a Cold War turned hot, ex-CIA Operative Dr John Thomas Rourke uses his survival skills to keep himself and family alive after a Nuclear War.

Dr Rourke is joined by his wife Sarah, son Michael, and daughter Annie. He also relies on right hand man Paul Rubenstein and KGB Officer-turned-traitor-to-the-Soviet-cause Major Natalia Tiemerovna who falls in love with Dr Rourke.

Eventually, the series takes on a science fiction vibe as our heroes are flung into the future after a long period in suspended animation as the earth heals itself after a massive conflagration. Amazingly, other societies also survived in underground cities. Once revived, the Rourkes take on all comers until they eventually defeat the last of the Soviet regime.

Growing up in the 80s, there was a certain ensemble of impending doom and survivalism sustained a great deal of interest. Just consider the popularity still to this day of the movie “Red Dawn”. Pulp fiction was the icing on the cake.

Perhaps the most compelling draw of “The Survivalist” series was author Ahern’s attention to detail in equipment. The hero was always outfitted the same way and depended his life on his equipment. It’s really no wonder, considering Ahern owned the Detonics USA company.

Rourke carried:

Twin stainless steel Detonics .45 Combat Master 1911 handguns complete with Pachmayr grips in an Alessi shoulder rig with a Milt Sparks 6-pack leather magazine pouch for backup ammo.


This image from Wikipedia is of a Detonics Combat Master and is not customized like the models Rourke carried.

But those two sidearms aren’t enough. He supplments them with a 6″ .357 Colt Python revolver which was Mag-na-ported and incorporates a Metalife chrome finish and once again, Pachmayr grips. It is carried in a Ranger leather flapped holster and accompanied by Safariland Speedloaders.

As a backup piece, Rourke secreted a 2″ Colt Lawman revolver in .357, in the small of his back. Everything was mounted to a Ranger leather belt which adorned his Levi’s jeans.

If all of that firepower wasn’t enough, he toted a Colt CAR-15 with a carrying handle mounted Colt 3x scope. For taking out longrange targets, Rourke had a Steyr-Mannlicher SSG rifle.

However, his greatest weapon may well have been his famous “double TaeKwon-Do kick” to this extremity or that of his enemy of the moment.

He was never without his Black Chrome AG Russell Sting 1A boot knife in the top of his combat boots. Aviator sunglasses adorned his face. His watch was a Black-faced Rolex Sub-mariner wristwatch and he used a Zippo cigarette lighter to light his wver present cigarello which he kept in the pocket of his Blue Chambray shirt.

Supplies such as freeze dried meals and Bushnell 8×30 armoured binoculars were carried in the top-of-the-line-for-its-time Lowe Alpine LOCO backpack.

Occasionally, Rourke would use other weapons and items such as a Colt Government Mark IV 1911 and Kel-Lite flashlight. Rourke always rode a Harley-Davidson low-rider but walked, rode horses, drove trucks, and even flew planes, when needed.

Interestingly, his buddy Paul Rubenstein whom he met up with the night of the war, adopted a Browning Hi-Power and WW II MP-40 submachine which he referred to as a “Schmeisser”, after taking them off of a biker gang in a firefight. Ironic, considering Rubenstein is Jewish.

*As an author, Jerry Ahern was assisted by his wife until his death in 2012. The series was continued for a time after Ahern stopped writing it, up to volume 35. Furthermore, a French publisher produced at least 51 books based on “The Survivalist” series.

10 Responses to ““The Survivalist” Book Series by Jerry Ahern”

  1. Gerard58 says:

    I miss Jerry, he was a leading expert on holsters and gun concealment. I learned alot from him over the years. Jerry Ahern RIP

  2. Michael Bane says:

    I have a Detonics Combat Master that was a gift to me from Jerry after we did the SHOOTING GALLERY episode on him some years back. He and I shared an agent years before that. I still have an affinity for A.G. Russell “Stings.”

    Michael B

  3. chris says:

    Woah… crossover from SSD IG.

  4. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    These and Mack Bolan were a staple in my reading growing up.

  5. AbnMedOps says:

    Ahern owned the Detonics company?? I didn’t know that. Hmm…I don’t recall any “disclosure notices” in the Soldier of Fortune columns Ahern wrote about Detonics! That’s a hoot!

  6. TravelingMike says:

    It’s a good action packed series, however, a lot of the action scenes in the story usually end up involving “dual-wielding” everything from pistols to assault rifles. Definitely an 80’s action fiction.

  7. thebronze says:

    Wow, blast from the past!! I read the Survivalist series as a teenager in HS.

    I still remember it. RIP Jerry…

  8. Larry says:

    I read The Survivalist as a teenager absolutely looked forward to the next book after finishing the last one. I shopped for years for a Detonics .45 but never could afford one, but I did make a lot of other purchases based off the books characters. Like several of you I also read Mack Bolan, Phoneix Force, Able Team and Remo Williams.

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