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Letter from Dr. Sidney Zweibel Re: Which Guns for Barter?

Dear Jim:
I read your insightful article on the pending economic meltdown and in it you suggested storing up tangible assets like gold/silver, ammo, and GUNS, etc. My
question is concerning the details of purchasing used firearms for barter and trade.
1.) Do you think that used is better than new because private party sales are done with no paper trail?
2.) If so, what types and caliber(s) do you foresee as being the most pragmatic and desired TEOTWAWKI [1]?
3.) Do you recommend equal quantities of rifles, shotguns and pistols or do you have other ideas?
4.) Are their any calibers or manufacturers you suggest we stay away from in a barter scenario?
5.) Are you storing firearms for barter/trade or are you keeping your arsenal for personal use?
P.S. I just read in your Oregon profile where the State has stopped all private [no transfer record] gun show gun sales. Fortunately out here in Arkansas there seems to be an ample supply of firearms for sale. Whatever we do, we had better “make hay while the sun is still shining!”
B’shem Yahshua Messiah, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies:
In answer to your questions…
1.) Definitely buy used, but be sure to buy quality. (Read Boston’s Gun Bible [2] for detailed gun recommendations as well as some useful gun show buying strategies.) By buying used guns, you can buy privately (sans paper trail–very important), and almost as importantly you won’t be paying full retail. Guns shows are probably the best place to buy. However, some private party sales bargains might come up in you local newspaper classified section. Assuming that you paper hasn’t gone PC [3] and banned gun ads, check the classifieds every week.
2.) IMO, in CONUS [3], the calibers to concentrate on are .22 Long Rifle, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 12 gauge, and .308 Winchester. In Alaska, add .44 magnum, .30-06, and perhaps .375 H&H Magnum to the list. In Australia, Oz [3], or New Zealand, add .303 British to the list. In any Third World country, add 7.62x39mm Russian (AK-47) to the list.
3.) Based on expected demand, I’d recommend 40% Main Battle Rifles (.308 semi-auto), 30% semi-auto handguns, 20% pump action riot shotguns (preferably with a spare long “bird” barrel for each), and the balance in semi-auto .22 rimfires. (For example the Marlin Papoose and/or the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22.)
4.) Avoid most cheap off brands. There are a few exceptions, such as N.E.F. (New England Firearms), which makes surprisingly good guns at budget prices. Likewise, avoid oddball calibers! Think: commonality. Remember that any of your designated “barter” guns may just as well end up in the the hands of relatives or other newcomers that will be living at your retreat. So getting “extra copies” of the guns that are already in your personal battery would be ideal. That will have several key advantages, namely: commonality of training, commonality of magazines, and commonality of spare parts.
5.) I have set aside roughly 20% of my firearms battery for charity and barter.

One note in closing: When shopping for used guns for barter, forget about aesthetics. Some of the real bargains at gun shows are guns with nasty home brew camouflage paint jobs, guns with a lot of honest holster wear or hunting wear (but no pitting), and guns that have been “personalized”. (Typically these have amateurish carvings on the stocks.) Remember that a gun fight is not a beauty contest. Rather, it is playing for keeps, with no second place winner.