Letter Re: Choosing Between a Shotgun and a Rifle for Retreat Defense

After reading Declan’s question and then your answer, I felt compelled to write in. Many of the survival minded people that post on various boards swear by their main battle rifle (MBR), whether an AK, AR, M1A, FN-FAL, the list goes on. All which are tools that have certain uses just like a hammer. IMHO, I don’t believe that we will go to a full scale war zone overnight. With the concealable of a pistol, it is not as threatening as a MBR in public, mostly because of “out of sight, out of mind.” with a CCW, a person can began to carry and also have it accessible if the balloon goes up and their MBR is no where close. For someone with a limited budget, a quality handgun would be the best first gun in a survival battery. I also believe that if the person is not experienced with weapons, the simpler the better. I have shot 1911A1s for the last 30 years, also carried in the Army. I was fortunate enough that I had an office beside the armory, and the armorer let me put together a tighter weapon from parts. Officers never could figure out why my pistol held a tighter group. But, I digress. The 1911A1 is an easy weapon to work on, but I believe it is still too complicated for the novice. The locked and cocked issue to be ready is my concern.
Since 1989, I have fell in love with Glocks. Yes, I pack plastic. To me the grip is very similar to the 1911. The simplicity of the design also won over the engineer in me. Currently they can be found in the .40 and .45 caliber for around $350 dealer cost. These are trade-ins. I have purchased three this year that were trade-ins. The weapons were in great shape. Also, there are many used “law enforcement” only hi-cap mags  [made during the 1994-2004 U.S. Federal magazine ban] out there for $10. Sure beats the $100 each they were just a few short years ago. For around $500 a person should be able to arm themselves with a Glock, six magazines, and 500 rounds of ammunition. The next step is practice, practice, practice. Proficiency is not acquired on the Internet, it is available only at the range. That’s enough for now. Love your site. I’m a proud “10 Cent Challenge” donor. – The Sarge

JWR Replies:  Yes, handguns have their role in survival planning.  They are handy for concealed carry, and as a means to have a weapon close at hand when you are doing heavy work and you can’t carry a rifle. (It is hard to dig post holes when you have a rifle slung across your back.) But handguns are not a proper substitute for a rifle or riotgun when faced with deep drama. Another writer said it best when he opined [my paraphrasing]: “A handgun is just a tool that buys you time to fight your way back to your rifle.”