Why a Handout Gun?, by D.B.

A handout gun is an inexpensive carbine and/or pistol given to someone who arrives at your home during societal collapse without one. The required criterion for this tool is that it be simple to operate, reliable, and reasonably priced. If you don’t have them in a rack waiting, then you do not fully comprehend what you must do in order to be prepared for TEOTWAWKI or WROL times.

Who Will Show Up At Your Retreat?

Family and friends will show up at your retreat. That will come unless they fall prey to a wild pack violence event on the way to your retreat. Who else will show up at your retreat? Straight up refugees will seek shelter with you also. Can you definitively predict this? What about your buddy from work? A refugee doctor or dentist? A Soldier that was on his way home for leave? A Lurch-sized college student far from home? Of course, one has no idea who will show up on their doorstep. If you could, then you would be able to also tell exactly when society will unravel and in what exact manner this will occur.

Untrained Refugees

The refugee/family member you take in will also likely not be trained to fight with a weapon. In addition, the refugee/family member will likely not have their own weapon(s). Therefore, they will be of little to no use in the securing of your retreat, if they cannot help pull security. Without a weapon, they cannot cover the front/back/east/west window. They cannot effectively man an Observation Post (OP), nor defend against the attacking hordes seeking your food, water, ammo, medicine, et cetera.

A 24/7 Perimeter Requires Many People

It will take approximately 12 people to run a 24/7 operation at a retreat.

  • You will need to have a rover patrolling the perimeter 24/7, hopefully broken into three shifts of eight hours at least. This requires a minimum of three people. (A total of three people so far.)
  • You will need a Charge of Quarters (CQ), which requires three more people. (A total of six people so far.)
  • You will want someone manning an OP on your most likely avenue of approach. This requires three more people. (A total of nine people so far.)
  • If someone gets sick, injured, or dies, you will need replacements. Would it maybe be good to have a day off every so often? Therefore, another three people are needed to rotate into the mix, for everyone’s sanity. This requires three more people. (A total of twelve people so far.)

All of this assumes you only have one likely avenue of approach that mandates a manned OP. It also assumes all people are able bodied and can carry out security tasks. Be ready to “plug and play” for these 12 people with a handout gun. More people is better to a point. The difficulty with adding additional retreat members is having to feed them.

Reliable, Universal Weapon Platform

The weapon platform must be reliable, above all else!!!! A universally used platform that any of your retreat members can pick up and put to work is prudent. Also, a common and simple manual of arms will be useful. An ergonomic weapon is good, particularly for those unschooled at soldiering.

These weapons are to be a combat platforms. I mean that 2-pound triggers and sights designed for 1,000 yard Creedmoor rifle matches are in no way what is needed. Think ghost ring iron sights and USGI triggers. When I buy Magpul Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS), I drill out the aperture on the rear sight. I do this to allow the shooter to look through it to find the front sight for using available daylight as late or early as possible. I once was unable to shoot a bobcat with my Garand while waiting for daylight in the deer woods. There just was not enough light to use the sights in spite of being able to see the bobcat walking by me 10 yards away. You can bet all of my Garand apertures are drilled out now!

Camouflage Your Weapons

Paint the carbine. There are no straight black sticks in nature. Just get the Krylon and paint the thing! If it gets scratched, shake the can and repaint it! Pick the shades that match your area of operations (AO), and get it done. Be sure to mask off numbers on dials and any glass you have mounted, as well as the actual sights. Keeping the front sight post flat black is prudent to reduce glare on it.

Rifle Caliber

While the current military .30 caliber cartridge provides many steps up the power application scale over the 5.56×45, average younger retreat residents (10-15 year olds) and ladies will not be able to effectively fight with a weapon chambered in 7.62×51. Indeed, many “males” in our current sissified society would be unable to effectively employ a genuine battle rifle, such as a G-3, a FAL, an M1A, or an M-1 Garand. My Lovely Spousal Unit (MLSU) can effectively fire an M-1 Garand and loves to do so. The Garand for use in a fight, where she’d have to use it in a position other than off the shooting bench, engage in three second rushes, or even just carry it around the retreat, is completely beyond her capabilities. The handout gun likely needs to be chambered in 5.56×45. 7.62×39 (AKs) might be another viable platform.

Sidearm Caliber

The sidearm cartridge for a handout gun needs to be 9×19. The milder recoiling cartridge equals less intimidating recoil. Many people of smaller stature cannot adequately grip a .45 ACP chambered Glock. (Use G21 and G30. The G36 is single stack and not suitable for use with the other two as a combat weapon.) While the G22 and G23 can be acquired for a song now due to police trade-ins, be careful. All of my Concealed Carry Weapon students prefer the G21 or G19 over a .40 S&W chambered Glock. This is due to the snappy/harsh recoil impulse.

If you can afford another cartridge and want to match Law Enforcement in your area for ammunition, trade-ins make the .40s a possibility. However, fear of the sidearm due to pronounced blast and recoil impulse will result in flinching and many rounds in front of the target. Later, when it genuinely counts, this means misses instead of rounds inside the bad guy.

AR-15 As Recommended Handout Carbine

Here in the contiguous U.S., the handout carbine should be an AR-15. While the AK could be used, the tidal wave of ubiquity that the AR platform brings to the table is unmatchable. The good old Military Specification (Mil-Spec) is to blame for this. The Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) enjoys a 95%+ interchangeability of parts and accessories thanks to this set of rules. (MSR is the firearm industry’s label for AR-15s and AR-10s in its an attempt to get into the terminology war with the gun grabbing hoplophobes.)

While fortunate for the user to be able to swap parts and accessories, understand the Mil-Spec for what it is. It’s the best set of technical specifications available in the early 1960s! The firearms industry has made significant technological advancements since then. Metallurgy has improved. Polymers are stronger and more resilient. CNC machining makes tiny tolerances a matter of easy routine. Nickel Boron (NiB) coating and nitride finishes surpass parkerizing for weapons care and longevity. All in all, the Mil-Spec and its accompanying tsunami of spare parts and magazines makes the AR platform your go-to weapon system.

Direct Impingement or Piston Operation?

Should one use direct impingement (DI or a “gas” gun) or piston operation? I personally struggled with this aspect of the platform. I was schooled at the altar of the M-14 by soldiers who had lived the debacle of the “no maintenance required” newly fielded M-16. The bottom line, as Pat Rogers once told me, was that by the time you have fired 400 rounds with a direct impingement gun you should be looking for the opportunity to break it down and clean it. Finally, it is highly unlikely that you and your retreat group will be re-enacting the Battle of Wanat, where U.S. soldiers actually fired enough ammunition in a short period of time through their M-4s to heat seize the actions.

Short of a Battle of Wanat situation, the direct impingement carbine defecating upon itself with every pull of the trigger will likely get you through your “exchange of pleasantries”. The piston guns cost several hundred dollars more and weigh a bit more. It seems like these two factors probably bump the piston gun out of the running for handing out to your newly arrived retreat team members.

AR Caliber

Also, the cost difference between a 7.62×51 AR and a 5.56×45 AR is quite noticeable and departs from the Mil-spec ubiquity. Unless you have won the lottery, your handout gun will need to stick to the smaller platform due to higher cost and weight.

Sidearm Platform

With regard to a sidearm platform, 75% of the world’s law enforcement and military organizations use Glocks. The British army replaced their Browning High Powers with G17s in 2016. In fact, Glocks are a sack of hammers in terms of toughness and reliability. Certain portions of our armed forces have selected G19s. Those favoring them are the combat soldiers, not the morons in ordnance acquisition. Maybe, there is a message there. Additionally, Glock does not change models every other year, like their competition. Therefore, spare parts and magazines remain available and inexpensive. One can get parts and magazines from a dozen vendors on the web at fair prices. Try that with your Ruger, Smith & Wesson, or Springfield Armory weapon, which are all imitating Glocks by the way.

When a company fields a new model every other year, you should be put you on notice you will no longer be able to get parts or mags for it, if you ever could do so. The ubiquity tidal wave of the Glock platform is nearly insurmountable for their competitors.

Personal Experiences with MLSU

Let me share with you an example or two from my personal experience locker. Clint Smith loaned his G21 to MLSU during her first pistol course with him. She was failing miserably to master the two trigger pulls on a Ruger P90. Clint sent Pete to his house to fetch the G21. The problem was solved! I still have the silhouette target missing the center 3” area after her last afternoon of class instruction. Where I come from, this could be considered to be a “clue”.

Several years later, MLSU and I conducted our annual Independence Day noise-making ritual by conducting proficiency firing of the last ditch, night stand gun– the dreaded P90. The second shot MLSU put down range, the spring that lays along the inside of the magazine well dislodged and stuck up into the recoil path of the slide. This stopped the thing dead. Had it occurred during a home invasion, it would have been a catastrophic failure. MLSU’s comment to me was “Why don’t you just sell this thing and get another Glock?” I was on that like a duck on a June bug!


Now for the solutions. The sidearm is easily solved with Glock 19s. The G26 would be nice for deep concealed carry and still takes G19/17/18 magazines. Glock makes a $10 combat holster for them. Dale Fricke also makes a $20 Zacheus holster. Get one for each personnel slot in your retreat. Get five flush fitting mags and five more G17 mags, and don’t look back. Furthermore, put tritium night sights on them, and call it good.

I have had great success with Palmetto State Armory. The chat boards warn one off of their PTAC products. Therefore, I have never tried any. The regular PSA lines have yet to disappoint me, and I have gone to this well at least half a dozen times now. As an example of their available wares, on April 3rd, 2017, the PSA 16″ MIDLENGTH 5.56 NATO 1:8 SS MOE FREEDOM UPPER W/BCG, CH, & REAR MBUS SIGHT – 516445358, available on their website is an excellent choice.

Commentary on the SKU: #516445358:

  • Barrel Length: 16” – light and maneuverable – you will not be engaging bad guys at a range (over 400 yards) that a longer barrel would provide any noticeable ballistic advantage.
  • Gas System: Mid-length – softer recoil impulse after the chamber pressure falls = less wear and tear on your parts.
  • Twist Rate: 1 in 8” – good middle of the road twist rate that will handle all common cartridge loadings.
  • Hand guard: Plymer – excellent and comfortable to use.

A blemished lower receiver is $50 today on the PSA website. (Blemished receivers are our friends!) Furthermore, the base model complete lower that you could mate to the upper listed above is $130. If you want to step up just a tiny bit, the complete lower receiver decked out in Magpul furniture is $150. Therefore, with the $320 for the upper listed above + $130/$150 for the complete lower receiver = $450/$470 for a complete carbine! Gun shop prices will run at least $600 for a less well-equipped carbine.

Depending on your ability to catch sales/specials and the condition of your wallet, here are some features or add-ons you would want to snag when possible:

  • Cold hammer forged (CHF) barrels are tough and generally give good accuracy.
  • Melonite or nitride surface treatment is preferred over parkerizing.
  • Magpul furniture is inexpensive, tough, and just feels good. (This is subjective, yes, but very much worth a trial run.)
  • Nickel Boron bolt carrier group, which runs $90-$100.
  • Nickel boron trigger parts. Palmetto State has a package called Enhanced Polished Trigger (EPT) for $30. I thought it was well worth the removal of the sandpaper grit experience one gets with a straight USGI spec trigger group.
  • Bravo Company ambi charging handle.
  • Ambi safety. Because you can’t tell me if the people who make it to your retreat will be righties or lefties. The complete ability to fight with a carbine would entail using it from both shoulders. $25 is money well-spent on this.
  • Bushnell 1-4×24 First Focal Plane scope. (I caught these on sale at Palmetto State for $150!). Or, you could use a red dot from Vortex.

Each carbine should be paired with the following support gear:

  • An Olongapo Outfitters shingle with waiststrap to carry eight 30-round magazines.
  • 9 Magpul PMAG magazines. Get more when you can. Remember, the magazine can be lost or damaged and is the weakest link in the weapon system.
  • A blowout kit (tourniquet, Israeli dressing, celox sponge).
  • A boo-boo kit (bandaids and moleskin to keep your feet working).
  • A ruptured casehead extractor.
  • A cleaning kit.
    • Boresnake
    • carbon scraper
    • chamber brush
    • Rod section/pistol rod to use the chamber brush with
    • dental pick
    • toothbrush
    • a small bottle of Breakfree
    • a small bottle of Mobil-1 to keep the BCG sloppy lubed
  • At least 2,000 rounds of 62 grain green tip. Unless you’re swimming, more ammo is better.
  • Web gear. The shingle permits your retreat member to play Minute Man but is not adequate for security patrols. See Spec-Ops or Tactical Tailor for this gear. If you can find it, USGI ALICE gear is adequate to the task. It won’t be as sexy or perhaps as comfortable as a battle belt from Tactical Tailor, but it will be less expensive! A 72 hour security patrol would require the ability to carry 9 mags, two water bottles, a Camelback, a water filter pump, some rations, cleaning gear, spare socks, compass, snivel gear, binos and other mission specific gear. On the battle belt members need two mag pouches; two canteens; a butt pack; blow out and boo-boo kits. In addition to a battle belt, an assault ruck is probably going to be needed.

I hope my gear set approach (ala, Aliens II) makes sense to you because I arrived here after several years of frustration trying to find like-minded people with a similar commitment level. By assembling plug and play gear sets to equip the generic person who does make it to your retreat location, you will enhance the chances of your own family’s survival. By the way, don’t forget to assemble various sized sets of clothing from your local thrift store!

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been an entry for Round 70 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  9. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  3. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  4. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and

Round 70 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.



  1. Error – I missed that the anticipated engagement ranges at the retreat will be UNDER 400 yards – if it were over 400, you would let that fight go or allow the bad guys to approach more closely, thus giving you a higher percentage shot. No matter how many times you read through things…..AGH!


    1. I have to say, one of the better articles on this subject. Often articles on this matter are written by pretentious blowhard mall ninjas. Your approach, logic, and common sense presentation, along with realistic explanations and defense of your positions made for an excellent and informative read. Well done sir.

  2. If you’re really talking about untrained or ‘lightly’ trained people, especially women, I don’t think that there is a better choice than the M1 Carbine with modern ammo. Simple manual of arms, lightweight, low recoil, simple iron sights set for 100yds and 20-30 round capacity.

    The M1 Carbine is the rifle I have taught most women to shoot with and once they see how easy it is, they invariably end up asking me to get them one. And that’s easy with both the USGI and after market guns that use the USGI format (I tend to stay away from Universals).

    Some will complain about the ‘stopping power’ of the .30 carbine round, but with modern ammo and the expected ranges that lightly trained shooters will use them it has the stopping power of a .357 magnum.

  3. Mark S – Yes – this platform would work – however –

    Where would I get spare parts?

    Where would I get spare mags – no Magpul PMAGs here!

    Where would I get ammo! No Mil Surplus = higher stockage cost – not a common cartridge

    Tough to mount an optic

    I agree – slightly built people would be able to rock with these in using them, but you surrender the tidal wave of cheap mags, parts and ammo available for the AR and AK platforms.

    If you go this route buy these three things (parts, ammo, mags) cheap and stack them deep!


    1. First, it’s a great article, I should have mentioned that.

      As North Woods said, Sarco has a great parts supply for the M1 Carbine and ebay.com and gunbroker.com also have a lot of parts.

      I get 20 round mags at the gunshows for $9-10 and 30 rounders for $14-15, but I prefer the 20 round.

      If you want to mount a optic an Ultimak rail is aobut $90. I have them on 2 of my M1s, one is configured as a scout rifle with a 2-7x scope and popup angled irons. The other I cut the barrel down to 16.25″ and am in the process of shortening the stock for a smaller vehicle/HD weapon with a red dot and a laser light combo. (these modified guns are an IJ and a Plainfield, not USGI guns. I’d post pictures if I knew how)

  4. The M1 Carbine is indeed a excellent platform for smaller and partly disabled. As for parts and ammo go to Firearms News the Sarco Co carries an excelent line of parts and 30cal carbine by up to case. I receive no financial renumeration from Sarco but am very happy with the parts and service. I now have put away parts for M1.

  5. Agreed. I’d rather have five $600 rifles than one $3000 rifle. My retreat won’t watch itself when I need to get some shut-eye, collect water, cook or spend time with family. Also, I won’t want to give up my rifle while someone else is on security. One rifle for every able-bodied adult at your retreat.

  6. Great article and spot on with the extra rifles and being painted and ready. I’m lacking on handguns however most everyone I know carries all the time anyway so it would be more limited in what I need.

  7. Good article. When I bought a couple of “extra” ar’s my wife thought that I was wasting money. Your article is exactly why I bought the spares. I also caught some heat when I bought spare parts (complete lower parts kits) and extra stripped lowers, also extra bcg’s. I was looking to the future. Also purchased some other extra parts for the pistols that we carry (all are 9mm). We have extra hunting rifles in a variety of calibers for trade. Keeping our primary calibers in 556/223 (all use both cartridges) and 9mm for pistols. Again, a few other pistols in other calibers for trading material. Great article!

  8. After spending much time debating all of these ideas, I too have come to a conclusion identical to the author on all points. Whenever someone asks what gun they should get the answer is always Glock 17/19 and AR15. I don’t particularly even like them as far as looks go, and they are painfully boring to practice with, but they are THE best tools for the application.

  9. Matt in OK – you and me both – I have one that needs the Krylon baptism – garden chores took precedence. Thanks for the kind words.

    Jerry in NC – I hear you, brother! Have that T-shirt, most definitely! My Lovely Spousal Unit doesn’t seem to see as much of the oncoming freight train of disaster as I do. I am right there with you – BCGs, parts, ruptured case head extractors, etc., etc., etc.. Cleaning kits are not sexy, but they are sorely needed!


  10. Very good article. Mini 14s were never mentioned. Terrific rifle and the only stainless battle rifle in the universe. Piston driven means it runs filthy. It comes with the best combat sights I’ve ever seen on a stock rifle. Where do I find people for the group who are serious? I’m 69 and most of the people I know are physical wrecks and useless eaters. I need younger soldiers.,,,Mike

  11. I know dozens of younger ones and women that can handle an AR-10.
    We’re out in the boonies. Every dirtbag casing our location will have a hunting rifle of some sort in .30 cal or close.
    Suburbanites might be better off with smaller caliber weapons, but out here, we’ll be engaging at 300 yds.

    1. I too agree with author. I’m a former U.S. Army soldier and I believe the AR platform is much maligned. To me it is a tool, I have found it does a pretty good job of it if you take care her. As for Glocks. Yep. Wife had a heck of a time finding something she liked, until I said here try this one. G22. After she shoots a mag through it, she says get me one. LOL. As for distance AR platforms. I have Colt HBar with Match trigger, made into Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) with an Hi-Lux 1-8×26 for a bit of reach out and touch. Use 75 or 77 grain.

      Now if those darn suppressors would be a shorter lead time to acquire, then we would be in business.

  12. One addition I’d make to the add-ons: ambi bolt release. I set up a rifle for dear daughter #3, who’s a southpaw, and immediately saw the advantage to these for the rest of the world. One (righty) can easily hit the bolt release without having to bring the rifle down. One note of caution though: they do not work with all uppers.

  13. This article does a fine job of presenting a plan for those who have the funds to purchase a dozen rifles, accessories, ammunition, spare parts, and accessories; and for those who already own the bulk of it. And the details recommended are excellent.

    For those of us who are still spread too thin to do this, remember that 12 people who are equipped with a normal farm’s supply of miscellaneous weapons are still a substantial defense if the users are disciplined, organized and determined.

    Might the best source of said dozen people, be the neighbors to the right, and the neighbors to the left?

    Let’s say we have a typical homestead that has rimfire rifle(s), shotgun(s), sporting rifle(s), and handgun(s). Even a single weapon from each category, passed around between shifts of duty, would pose a formidable deterrent, when backed up by various non-firearm options that are waiting to be recognized. But many farm families already have a dozen firearms.

    The first priority is to ensure that all of them are in good working order; that any worn parts are attended to; that they are properly zeroed; kept clean; and that suitable ammunition is available for use, in sufficient quantity.

    For aiding non-military-pattern weapons in providing a sustained level of fire, one accessory that is useful is a simple cartridge belt, such as is sold by Gallati International for $15-20. Another accessory that is especially useful on rimfire rifles, is a simple stock pouch that holds 50+ cartridges at the ready.

    When dealing with untrained persons, it may be better for them to hit several times a minute with a single shot, than to miss 59 times a minute with an AR. But the biggest question is, can untrained persons be safely entrusted with a firearm in the first place? A bow has significant advantages, in that the user can actually see what they are doing, and the effects stay reasonably close to home–rather than affecting neighbors who are completely out of sight.

    On the other hand, a farm kid that has learned to be SAFE and disciplined with his .22 in eliminating varmints, can probably pick up an AR and do the same after a few minutes’ instruction.

    Discipline is the better half of warfare. A wise predator has strategic patience, and will endure your deterrent measures until you relax. When a significant gap occurs in your security, they may still wait quite a while before striking. But expect the strike to be devastating.

    So, my point is, cover all your bases, and don’t be too trusting of persons that haven’t been through YOUR boot camp.

    1. Good Article. Made me think. I’ve got some guns but don’t have the finances to change to a suggested standardized platform, and I might be a little too old/stov up to do much of a 72 hr patrol. I live in a rural area and most everyone has a .22 LR, a .223 for coyotes/prairie dogs and a .308 or .30-06 even if they don’t don’t currently use it because they like their 300 Win Mag or 300 RUM. Seems to me that my best investment is more 22LR, .223, .308 ammo to keep my neighbors in the fight. And though a new Glock sounds like fun, more ammo for .38 and .44 spl seems wiser.

    2. First off, this is an excellent article, definetly the best I have seen on this very important subject. That being said, I must agree with CF here; as much as I wish I had the budget to get a backup AR for everyone in my group, I don’t even have the budget for one of my own yet, though I plan to soon. For the time being, everyone within my group has trained with everyone else’s firearms to the point of competence, so while we wouldnt have perfect ammunition compatability, and a few too many.22s for my taste, we would have a rifle and a sidearm for every person. Again, I agree that your system is an excellent one for those with the funds, however for the rest of us, it is More important to have high quality guns thay everyone knows how to use, while gradually saving up for modern battle rifles.

  14. Great information and many thanks for the article. I have a couple of thoughts to add…
    I know that “Pmags” are all the rage and they are wonderful magazines, but don’t discount USGI magazines – especially with the updated followers. The USGI mags have been battle proven for decades and most importantly, they are much easier to insert and remove from mag pouches than Pmags. The geometry of the Pmags make them stick and drag in my web gear. The USGI magazines slide in and out of pouches smoothly and quickly. The old trick of attaching a loop of paracord as a pull under the magazine floor plate may be useful for some shooters as well. Both the Pmags and upgraded USGI mags are as cheap as they have ever been, so get them now. It seems in states that prohibit high capacity magazines, the FFLs are having to pull the high capacity magazines and sell the rifles without a magazine or with a low capacity magazine. The FFLs end up with piles of mags that they have to ship to non-restricted states. My FFL is selling these to me at $7.00 each and I’m sure he still is making money in the process.
    I agree that Magpul furniture is great stuff. Another benefit of purchasing the Magpul pistol grip is the secure storage space in the grip. It is just large enough to locate a “boresnake” pull through and a “single serving” package of my favorite lubricant.

  15. As far as handout ‘sidearms’ are concerned, I prefer revolvers for the masses and semiautos only for family members because they’ve trained with them.

    The Glock is a fine weapon, but I personally don’t like them and don’t see them being any more reliable than any other modern pistol.

    We roll with the M&P 9. Although I like the 1911 platform, I prefer 2x as many rounds.

    One thing choosing the Glock platform does allow is the selection of numerous 9mm carbines like the Keltec Sub 2000 (I think Gen 2 also works with the M&P) and various styled AR platforms and mag interchangeability is nice. I’ve got a Colt 7.5″ AR pistol with 30 round mags that also has a red dot and laser/light combo that is a lot of fun, it’s also pretty good HD/car runandgun.

    As for the revolver, .38 is just fine. Cheap and reliable.

  16. Great article! Although in my experience with new shooters its much easier for them to pick up on how to shoot an Springfield XD-M than a Glock partially because of the ergonomics and definitely because of the trigger. A few months ago while I was at the local range a guy came over and shot with me with his brand new Glock 17. He was shooting a target at 7 yards and most of his shots were outside of center mass. I helped him and by the time he left every one of the shots was in center mass. I don’t say this to rag on the guy I say this because that’s the shooting level the majority of people that you’ll come across will be at. I definitely agree that Glocks are very robust pistols but so are plenty of other platforms. I’m not trying to rag on Glocks either. I’m just saying it would just be easier to have a more forgiving platform in case the help you find after SHTF is only the average Joe six pack. Plus on a budget note this year, through June 30th, they were giving anyone that bought a new Springfield pistol 4 extra magazines, a range holster, and a magazine holder!

    God Bless,


  17. “All the people constitute the militia — according to the Founding Fathers. Therefore every able-bodied man has a duty under the Constitution to become part of the “well-regulated” militia, specifically to understand and perform well with the individual weapon currently issued to the regular establishment. . . . Thus one who has not qualified himself with the M-16 may not be considered to be a responsible citizen.” Retrieved from http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/rkba/Cooper_Quotes.htm

  18. Another point against the piston systems is there is no industry standard on piston systems. Therefore a Colt may not be interchangeable with an Adams Arms etc. so unless you have all identically manufactured piston ARs you lose the interchangeability (mostly) of DI systems.

    1. This is an outstanding point.

      Far too many people don’t think beyond the advertising claims about the newest and greatest gun — that somehow a magic coating or a minor design tweek will eliminate the need to actually train oneself by shooting a lot of rounds — rounds that lead to wear and tear on ANY gun.

      There’s a reason the military doesn’t jump on every “New and Improved!” gun or accessory. Standardization is the only rational way to deal with maintenance and repair of any piece of machinery, when you’re dealing with multiple units of the same sort.

      For ARs that means direct impingement instead of any piston system, forged lowers, forged uppers (GI-pattern/”mil spec”), standard bolt carrier groups, etc. “Perfect is the enemy of good enough” as they say. “Perfect” is useless if it’s missing a vital piece that “good enough” will work without.

      Stock spare parts, and the tools you need to properly install them.

  19. Great article and sound advice. My only issue the the 2000rds of 62gr green tip (steel core). Sure it is great to shoot thru soft armor or vehicles, but wouldn’t soft points be what you would want to use on human targets? That 62gr steel core is going to zip thru and leave a 22 cal hole, while a soft point is going to do some damage. Civilians aren’t held to the Geneva Convention US Military standards. Sure FMJ 55gr are cheaper and great for practice, but for the real-deal, wouldn’t you want a hunting bullet? I also agree 2000rds/gun is about right. Just my thoughts after using soft points on 160# deer for 3 decades… Mike

    1. It’s actually the Hague Convention not Geneva. The U.S. has never signed it, but we voluntarily comply with it. You’re right though 55g SP or open tip would be better. The green tip was developed for use in Europe against Warsaw Pact troops,who were wearing flak jackets or light body armor. We found in Iraq that it would just zip through enemy combatants with little tissue damage. Oh, also soft point are not restricted under Hague, it hollow points. The Marines are currently using an “Open tip” match round in Afghanistan, not a hollow point by the way!!! I do know the new Sig that was selected by the military must be capable of feeding hollow points. So, maybe the military is finally putting behind the craziness of FMJ only.

    2. 2000 rounds per gun is a good start…..

      I would also recommend components, primers, powder, dies for every reloadable caliber, & good presses to feed those firearms, if those 2000 rounds severely diminish due to an extended duration of necessity to use them…..

    3. M193 55 grain ball is an excellent anti-personnel load at 250m or under. Most .223 Rem hunting loads use bullets designed to expand very quickly on varmints. On people, pigs or deer they will often cause a shallow non-immediately-lethal wound while M193 FMJ ball will penetrate further before yawing and breaking apart, causing a more effective wound.

      Not all 55 grain FMJ ball is the same, even military loadings. Some has a heavy jacket designed to prevent fragmentation while yawing. Some is loaded to lower pressures and velocities, or is loaded for non-AR platforms and may not be reliable in a carbine-length AR.

      A couple of good choices are Federal’s “XM193” load and IMI’s “M193” — both use US GI-pattern 55 grain FMJ bullets that will break apart while yawing, causing more effective wounding/killing.

      The “Ammo Oracle” at ar15.com has a lot of good information. Google it.

  20. Mike –

    I went down the Mini-14/30 trial many years ago. I recently relived it with a Ruger AR-10. When I called the factory seeking parts it was $300+ for Bolt and buffer spring!

    There is no parts supply that I know of for mini-14s.

    I detest being raped for magazines by Ruger.

    It is a good little platform. If it works for you, use it. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade – heck! At least you have a weapon (or two, or three…) vs. many who are in total sheeple status!

    Do you have a dozen though? I assembled all of my PSA AR-15s, so I know them and can work on them.

    The Mil-surp 62gr is purely for cost – I would certainly like to send better love downrange to the bad guys, but have no way to afford a MINIMUM of 2,000 rounds of softpoint for multiple guns. (If you can, send me some – LOL!!!!! That is great!) You are getting the whole point of the article – get something and incrementally improve – I don’t have 12 ARs in the rack ready to hand out yet – but I have a darn good start on it!

    Great comments and info flowing! Keep it going!


    1. DB-
      The cost of M193 rounds seems to be equal if not less that m855 green tips, so why not use those? the 55gr FMJ projectile has a better chance of yawing and fragmentation in soft tissue, making it arguably better for self defense than the 62gr rounds. Just a thought.

  21. Anon –

    A ruptured case head extractor is a tool (as opposed to the extractor in the bolt face of the weapon). It is used to extract the remaining piece of the cartridge case when the bolt face extractor has torn off the head of the cartridge case. Brownell’s has them.


  22. All in all I get the thrust of this article. Commonality of weapons is pretty much a good thing. However my experience with people who have had no shooting or weapons handling experience ( and even with many who have had such ) is pretty guarded. They tend to be fearful of gun handling, and are not very safe in terms of muzzle control. Now in these normal times, yes training and range time with the right instructors can do wonders. But your scenario of people showing up at your retreat in a SHTF time adds stress and immediacy to situation, with perhaps very little time for formal training. To just give them a weapon when the environment is stressfully fluid/uncertain may be a recipe for disaster. They could shoot someone in the retreat or themselves quite easily if startled. Just saying this is something to consider. There are many people out there who just don’t have the mental mindset or inclination to use firearms, so I’d say proceed with caution for sure.

  23. D-5 –

    JUST GET AMMO!!!!! LOL!!!!

    As long as it reliably goes bang and you aren’t swimming, can one have too much ammo?!


  24. Bwhntr62 –

    I didn’t get that far in the article, but I never intended to give a newbie a weapon without instruction. I have taught CCW for my state for 10 years, State hunter Ed, etc.. I knew there would be ALOT of instruction hard and fast. If they are taken in to my place, I would have already made an assessment that they are stable enough to handle a weapon, but of course they tell me you just never know for sure until the exchange of kinetic pleasantries.


  25. Rod –

    Maybe that is why I have two Dillon 550 presses?!

    One I keep small primer tube in (9mm & 5.56×45), the other is for large primer sizes (7.62×51, .30-06, .45 ACP).

    : )



  26. I agree with your choices on firearms, but I’m having a hard time seeing why you think it’s a good idea to hand out guns to people you barely know.

  27. High School Prepper –

    Awesome that you are doing what you can! My article is directed towards a somewhat “perfect”, or textbook solution. Not everyone has funds for this. Right now, myself included so I slow way down and “nibble” at the goals. A spare mag here – next month a boresnake with Cabela’s points. My intent was to give people a possible solution to a problem that they will face in the future. By cross training with what you do have, you are ahead of 97% of the sheeple watching the Kardashians on the idiot box! Keep at it!


  28. Porcupine –

    I would not be trying to hand them out to total strangers. For example – I worked as a contractor at a military base nearby. If one of the retired Soldiers I worked with showed up on my doorstep I would have a person who already knows how to use a weapon competently, and whom I had gotten to know for at least one year on a contract. Who would I have to man the north window, or pull OP/LP duty? Could this former Soldier not go on a security recon patrol with me? If I had a spare AR to hand to him to use! Do you not have a brother/cousin/buddy whom you trust, but have not been able to get him to wake up and see the danger – not coming out of normalcy bias now does not mean he would be worthless to you after the schumer collides with the rotary oscillator. If it was a stranger – a doctor, or a Lon Porter as in JWR’s Patriots – then one makes the best assessment possible and makes a call. Beats trying to pull security for yourself 24/7/365. The perfect solution would be to find perfect team members before the disaster. Real life seems to be showing me that these people are “unicorns”. I will keep trying to find them, but my plan B is to have handout guns.

    Hope this helps you to see the intent of my article.


  29. I think your major point is that standardization is a key point. And that Mil-spec is tried and true. I have gone with AR15’s and Colt 45ACP. The MLSU AR15 and Beretta. Son and Daughter both over 21, living at home. AR15 and Colt 45 daughter liked the Mini-14 and has yet to choose a MSA (Main Side Arm). We also have Marlin Model 60 22lr for all 4 of us – No Mags to loose and the fact that I grew up on one. Bother and his GF and 2 sons have been trained on all my weapons but he has a single 12ga. So your advice of picking up a few more lower priced AR’s hit home, My advice break protocol and tell others what I have. To ensure they purchase compatible weapons. Mags I have in abundance 1or2 a week for years amounts to a ton of AR mags. And before the hate starts on the Berretta – I pulled 60mags for 2 bucks a piece from an old friend. So I am mags for days on Berretta’s. And my family motto is handguns are for getting me to my next battle rifle! So my family is set but we need to push extended family towards similar arms. Most are in walk stage -shotguns and 22’s. And yes we have shotguns and couple of 30-60’s for hunting. A new M1A is my latest addition and again caught a break with a buddy who pop out with 15 20Rd mags for $140, 2x 4 mag pouches. M1A has SADLAK mount, LaRue tactical ring and a SWFA 16×42 Scope -set to 200yards. The LaRue quick detach allows me to throw the scope on my LE6920 AR Platform and with marking for that rifle to go to 200 yards as well. I am working on a Rem 700 for a precision rifle for son it too will have a SWFA scope. The 4 of us have tac-vests with our mags for them. And IFAK’s are being worked on. I have the list of the items that I want in them. We also use a throw IFAK – with less items, last I checked you aren’t going to insert a tube in your own throat or cath there own lungs. And we use the SWAT tourney to save money.
    All that said lets be clear a 22LR with 500 rounds will keep heads down as well as a $1700 dollar M1A! And a 12Ga with 1 solid metal on metal pump will stop a dog and it has no idea what a 12GA is. That’s defense without pulling the trigger. I also have most security figured out, its called a fence – that said I liked the 12 person plan and ours is about 25 but that is counting kids. I need more guns! But your more correct in that I need more shooters. We have a Doc, and a pharmacist but need more shooters. I like others would be very concerned about handing a “zombie” a firearm on day one and asking them to aid in securing our family/group. I would much more likely ask them to fetch firewood, retrieve water, pick berries, or burn waste or clean up. Spending some time to earn that trust. And yes I said Zombie – a term I use for anyone coming with nothing to offer and looking to take by force or guilt or pity our weapons, food, people.
    I think if a group to keep to say less than 6 rounds they will benefit say 5.56/223, 9mm,45ACP 7.62×51/308, 12Ga and of course 22LR. But if pressed to 3 it would be 5.556/223, 12Ga and 22LR and all would be rifles. I have never been in a fire fight with anyone that said “damn I wish I had a pistol in stead” – or “I wish I had more pistol mags”.

  30. I was just wondering what all’ya’ll thing about the M1 Garand? I’ve got some and some extra ammo to go with them. I like them, and don’t want to sell them, but maybe I should consider it.

  31. As far as the M1 Garand goes, I think it depends on where you live, your spare parts inventory how familiar you are with maintaining the rifle. I love the Garand- in fact mine is my favorite rifle. If I had to partol in grizzly infested areas, it might be my choice, but my wife and daughter would have problems lugging one around and firing one unsupported. That’s where the AR type rifle is hard to beat. AR parts are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. They are light and functional. The AR is “America’s rifle”, meaning that the odds are good that many folks will already be familiar with the workings and maintaining them. I wouldn’t say the M1 is a no go, but if I were purchasing inventory for the topic at hand, I agree with the choice of ARs and Glocks for the long haul.

  32. Anon –

    I actually started the evolution of the handout gun with CMP Garands. (Still a screaming deal – you just may not be an American if you do not have a CMP Garand – LOL!!!!) One day it finally seeped through my thick cranial cavity that most people outside of in-shape real Soldier types cannot manhandle a Garand. They are a bit long for CQB – they are a bit problematic to mount optics to – the solution there is to get an Ultimak scout rail which replaces the handguard (a non-permanent modification) – but they will deal with bad guys in an authoritative manner. You can put a red dot on the scout rail, or Leupold scout scope. Vortex and Burris also make 2-7x long eye relief scopes, but I have not been able to buy and try these yet.

    Olongapo outfitters makes 12 en-bloc shingles for the Garand. They also make molle pouches.

    If you do ALOT of PT and are a moose, then the Garand could be a great platform for a hand-out gun. Remember though – Uncle Sam is not there to provide you with en-blocs – when they eject they are probably lost. HAVE A TON OF THEM!


  33. USGI EXTRACTORS are tough to come by – get any you find!

    Springs – recoil, ejector, extractor

    Firing Pin


    Replacement front sight assembly

    If you have some extra cash – rear sight parts, trigger assembly complete


  34. As far as spare parts, a call to Fulton Armory would be wise. A reputable company like that would steer you right. I would agree that large amounts of en-block clips would be a must, along with springs and maybe an extra bolt assembly. All I have parts wise for mine is an extra recoil rod spring (and hundreds of clips). The old GIs who ran them through years of war are fast disappearing, so reaching out to the pros who specialize in them is important.

  35. I want to start with saying that the OP has pretty much nailed down the armory aspect of the issue, Bravo!

    I would ask myself a question, aside from the soldier who turns up who else should be carrying or emptying 8 or 9 mags? I think these untrained folks should be equipped more like VC. One rifle and a couple of mags. I don’t think they’re going to hit much so I don’t think I want them blasting through a case of ammo the first time some critter startles them. That’s just my take, I think the “turn ups” will have to serve as decoys and deterrents until they prove themselves.

    Part two but still gear related, camouflage, I’m thinking the “turn ups” will show up in civies. A Rubbermaid bin with army navy store surplus camouflage shirts that will fit over their weather appropriate civilian attire could pay for itself fast. I’m grabbing oversize gear, nothing smaller than XL, the 2x and 3x may look like a poncho on some folks but that just covers a little more of them. The oversize shirt can be adjusted for with a duty belt or even some cordage. Pants on the other hand are to personalized to be effectively stocked. If the “turn ups” have to dirty up their pants to blend in then so be it.

    I’m not saying what you are proposing is flawed but it’s probably going to be premature depending on who shows up.

  36. Jack –

    I understand your point about the new guy/gal and blasting away/wasting ammo. Two things to mix into this situation – after WWII, SLA Marshall interviewed US infantry combat veterans to determine what we did right and did wrong. I don’t recall the exact figures, but it was something like only 10% of US infantrymen in combat actually fired their weapons!!!! The ARs that I have as handout guns are all semi-auto, so no danger of mad magazine dumps. I think the real challenge, as the Army found, was to get humans to fire their weapon and take another human’s life.

    My intent would be to IMMEDIATELY begin teaching the new guy/gal how to SAFELY and competently handle their handout gun, so if given a week this issue should begin melting away. This drives the need to have Ruger 10/22s and LOTS of .22LR ammo, as well as even airguns and pellets to teach basic rifle marksmanship. Then step them up to the AR – you still need to have ammo left to fight with after training the person! 10,000 rounds per rifle would not be crazy to stockpile.

    Max Velocity recently penned an article on the train of thought that you have put on the table – basically his idea was to carry enough to be effective, but not so much that you are crushed by the weight of your gear/plates/ammo. Yes, 3-4 mags is probably going to be the limit of what slighter built/out of shape people can effectively carry and use. However – I will begin correcting this upon their arrival – PT is part of the life at my place.

    Next to consider – defending the homestead does not entail schlepping the numerous mags on 3-4 day patrols (initially – eventually one would pre-emptively want to patrol your surrounding area) – if the newer guy/gal is sitting behind a window sill, then having 10 mags is not a big deal at all. Remember – mags will get dropped/lost. The feed lips are the most delicate part of magazine. The magazine is the weakest link in the weapons system, so when I get a new AR, I automatically get 10 new PMAGs for the carbine. I start feeling warm and fuzzy when I have 24 for each carbine. Worst case, I have money in the bank to trade later. (During gun ban scare periods, PMAGs are used as currency by some in the weapons world.)

    To your tactical clothing point – You are dead on! Old sets of BDUs are durable work clothes. The only downside to them is that ANYONE can have a set, so if your group is wearing BDUs, a bad guy can get into your perimeter unnoticed for a time by wearing BDUs.

    Boots of all sizes are also something to stock up on in the same manner. Sturdy belts are prudent to collect. Like it or not, even socks and underwear from Thrift stores will be needed. If your people have none and are going commando, they will be raw and very unhappy in short order. Then they become distracted and are not alert/observant. The Army kids around about “snivel gear”, but a shivering Soldier is not worried about the perimeter – he is just focused on wanting to be warm. Same for someone whose groin is raw from rubbing against the BDU material. I would guess that a lady would VERY much appreciate at least a t-shirt between her nipples and the BDU top. Can’t say as I have the expertise to deal with the stocking of bras, but I think you can see the issue here.

    You are using your noggin’ and thinking things through – keep at it – great job!


  37. Thanks DB, I’d say we’re pretty much on the same page we just have different families. I’ve only got three shooters and the rest of the lot is baggage until they’re trained up. Speaking of trained, you touched on something I mulled over but didn’t solve while I was writing yesterday – Quiet Training. The locals will know where I am whether I run shooting drills or not but locals aren’t the only people in the world. I need to lay in some more quiet shooting gear for the learning curve period. Thanks for jogging my memory and providing a course of action.

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