Letter Re: Survival Battery on a Budget

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have followed your writings and bought your book Patriots which I have read several times. Now I am enjoying reading your blog everyday and all the profiles and exploring your links. You have lots of great ideas and have obviously spent a lot on equipment and supplies. Not everyone has many thousands of dollars every year to put into preparations, so I am wondering if you could say something about a low-cost strategy.

For example, a no-holds barred firearms battery may include (in various quantities):
* FAL .308 ( most are $1,000 – $1,500) plus 20 or more magazines, plus spare springs, extractor, firing pin, ejector, etc., plus 1,000+ rounds of ammo
* .308 bolt action such as Rem M700, plus a few extra magazine, spare parts, scope, and another 500+ rounds of .308 ammo
* 12 ga. pump shotgun such as Rem 870 Police 7-shot (about $400), plus spare parts, and 500+ slugs and shotshells
* 1911 .45 ACP (about $600), plus 10+ magazines, spare springs, extractor, firing pin, ejector, and 1,000+ rounds of ammo

On the other hand, a lower cost version might be:
* .308 bolt and scope such as a Savage 110 for less than $500, plus spare parts and 1,000 rounds of ammo
* 12 ga. “Plain Jane” Mossberg or Remington pump or double barrel coach gun (such as Stoeger) for about $250, spare parts and 500 shotshells; or even a lever action carbine such as a Winchester or Marlin in a pistol caliber (.357, .44, .45 LC)
* .357 Ruger GP100 plus 1,000 rounds of ammo, or perhaps a Hi Power clone such as from FEG, or even a Makarov (under $300)

Practically every defensive situation I can think of except all out war seems as though it could be handled primarily by the shotgun with slugs or buckshot, with a handgun for “always there” carry, and the scoped rifle for hunting and defensive beyond 50 yards. Magazines can be a huge expense so eliminating as many of those as possible would keep costs down.

Another example: I like the idea of “owning the night” in a chaotic situation. But what can those of us who cannot afford many thousands of dollars for multiple sets of night vision goggles do that would give us an advantage without all the technology?

Anyway, I would appreciate reading your thoughts along these lines. Especially if you could include the “ideal” and the “low cost alternative” for each factor you discuss in the future. Many thanks for your inspiration and ideas. You have taken a bold step to sound the warning and help others. Sincerely, – J.B.

JWR Replies:

Yes, budgets do vary. But prioritizing is the key. What is more important? That big screen HDTV or jet ski in the garage, or the lives of your wife and children? TANSTAAFL.

Your “lower cost version” battery would definitely do in pinch. As I often say, it is the man or woman behind the rifle that determines its effectiveness. In the right hands a $150 sporterized WWI vintage bolt-action Springfield or Mauser rifle is much more to be feared than a $3,000 Steyr AUG or SIG-AMT.

Regarding Handguns: You mentioned FEG Hi-Power clones and Makarovs. But for about the same amount of money you could buy a used military surplus Argentine M1911 clone (M1927 “Systema Colts”.) Do consider that .45 ACP is much superior to 9mm Parabellum or 9mm Makarov for stopping two legged predators!

Regarding Night Vision Gear: If you are on a very tight budget, think in terms of tanglefoot wire, concertina wire (sometimes available at scrap metal prices at U.S. Army DRMO auctions) and trip flares to give you an advantage in defending your retreat at night.

Regarding Magazines: I am of the firm opinion that six magazines per weapon is a bare minimum. If you can’t afford that, then perhaps you need to consider a less expensive rifle.As I pointed out in previous posts, some rifles such as Valmet .308s, Steyr AUGs, and AR-10s (from some makers) are essentially limited to accepting only very expensive OEM magazines. One reason that I like FALs and L1A1s is that the magazines can usually be found for $6 to $8 at gun shows. HK-91/CETME magazines are even less expensive than that! (See the letter on this subject in today’s blog entries.)

Regarding Lever Action Rifles/Carbines Chambered in Pistol Calibers: I do not recommend these, except perhaps as secondary small game hunting/marksmanship training guns. IMHO, they are underpowered for stopping both deer-class wild game and men. The advantage of having both a handgun and a long gun chambered in the same cartridge is far outweighed by the disadvantage of having an under-powered long gun! If you want a lever gun, I recommend that you make it a .30-30 or .45-70!