This method of acquisition is most commonly available higher level scenarios. Salvage or abandoned weapons and equipment usually happens right after a battle of some sort. The parties in the conflict are probably fighting over something other than each otherís weapons and for one reason or another, you have access to the battleground but are not a direct participant in the battle. You usually need to be able to move quickly to secure your loot and do so without being noticed. An example would be a big shootout between rival gangs that happens to take place one night a few blocks away from where you live. You hear the shooting and go down the alleys to see what is happening. You see a group of dead and wounded gangsters around a burning car. The rest of their group is being pursued by rival gangsters and the police into another part of the neighborhood. You check the bodies and find that they are carrying an assortment of 9mm pistols. Now the trick is to get them away before you are noticed and before any other scavengers come around.
In wartime situation, salvage is going to be most common after a skirmish and is especially easy after one parties has performed a hit and run operation, like in this picture, Chechen Guerillas have hit a Russian patrol and withdrawn after taking some items that were useful to them, but they abandoned some weapons and ammunition, probably because the group that hit the convoy was not short on these supplies and was unwilling to stick around long enough to destroy them. Another time that is good for salvage is after a military unit has been attacked by aircraft. While it is possible for weapons and ammunition to be boobytrapped by troops under pursuit, it is most commonly not done.
Guns may also be found during and after natural disasters. This is commonly referred to as looting if you did not own the items before the disaster and it is likely that the owner(s) will return to recover their property. Looting is usually discouraged through martial law, meaning that if you are doing it, the authorities and the rightful owners of the property consider your hide to be free game. On the other hand, if the disaster is of a scale that it is unlikely that anybody will recover the items and you have an immediate need for them, then looting is generally allowed, but the authorities may not respect your right to recover weapons and or valuables. In situations where there is no coherent authority, or government resources are spread too thin, then it will probably not matter (although this is a rare case). It will probably be necessary to defend and /or conceal your salvage operation in either case. Salvage operations should be undertaken quickly when it is determined that they will be necessary for your survival. Although salvage operations must be done quickly, they must also be done methodically if you are going to make the most of them. Building and area salvage operations involve four stages that are outlined below.
1. Reconnaissance, evaluation; This important stage is where you check out the area for possible dangers and security threats to your salvage operation. Look for possible hostiles, hazardous conditions (like radiation, unstable buildings, chemical contaminants) and evidence of prior salvaging. Danger areas should be noted and pointed out to all members of the search teams. Evaluate the likelihood of finding important items and supplies and prioritize the areas to be searched more thoroughly. Try to estimate your time constraints when setting your detailed search priorities. Beware of boobytraps and other security systems that may still be operational and will threaten the security of the search teams.
2. Locate desirable items; This includes the initial search of likely places where you will find things and remembering and possibly marking the locations of them for later recovery. You may need to pick up very important and/ or portable items right away.
3. Recover and secure; After you think you have located everything, it will be necessary to recover and secure it. This can mean taking things from where you found them and hiding them so you can get them later or placing them in a guarded or protected place. This is more or less a "local cache". An example would be placing all of the ammo you find in the building in one intact closet and covering the door with debris. A member of your group may be assigned to guard a particular room where the searchers deposit the goods that they recover throughout the building. This way, the searchers will not be burdened during the search.
4. Consolidate, remove and utilize; Here, items are packed and moved to a safe area. They may need to be cleaned, decontaminated, repaired or otherwise serviced. Decontamination should take place outside the retreat and may require some sort of transitional consolidation site where decontamination waste material can be dumped without risking further contamination of water, food supplies or vulnerable personnel (children and sick people). In some situations, removal can be the most difficult stage because the activity will have to be done secretly. This is especially true if you think that you will need to continue recovery operations on an ongoing basis. You will be essentially smuggling the recovered material from the recovery site to the retreat or a cache. Utilization of recovered materials should be avoided until they have been inspected for hidden damage or contamination.
Certain tools and supplies need to be around for an effective salvage operation. These will include bolt cutters, saws, prybars of various sizes and maybe even cutting torch equipment. Some power tools and a small generator may also be useful. Think of a reciprocating saw, a handheld grinder and a chainsaw. Also keep in mind that items may need cleaning and decontamination, so cleaning and decontamination tools and supplies should be a priority also. More involved salvage operations will require a truck or barge for moving salvage material. If at all possible, make your salvage operation in a single trip. Repeated trips to a salvage point will likely make you a target.
Sunken, beached, or otherwise shipwrecked boats are also more or less free game if it is reasonable to believe that the owner cannot be found and/ or the above conditions exist. Nearly all seagoing boats have some kinds of firearms on board. They can also be a good source for preserved food, stored drinking water and other survival items. Sunken or waterlogged boats should be searched as soon as conditions permit, as firearms will be ruined within days of being submerged in salt water. Ammunition can last longer underwater and corrosion can be cleaned off. The ammo may not be as reliable, but most modern ammo is waterproofed at the factory to compensate for this. Even those guns that were ruined by water may be good for some spare parts and accessories. Stainless steel guns do fairly well in salt water environments and are favored by boaters, but internal springs can be ruined. Guns recovered from sunken boats need to be fully disassembled, inspected, thoroughly dried and cleaned with solvent before being put in service. The solvent is necessary to remove salt and mineral deposits that will accelerate rust when the guns are exposed to moist air or get wet again. It may even be necessary to soak the metal in soapy fresh water in order to loosen salt deposits (clean and oil afterwards).