The Well-Balanced Gun Collection

A topic that comes up in more than half of my consulting calls, is firearms. Most survivalists gravitate toward guns for obvious reasons. If anything, SurvivalBlog could surely be labelled a “guns and groceries” oriented blog, and most of our readers are like-minded. We tend to have large gun collections. We aren’t entirely gun-centric, but our concept of preparedness includes owning guns and having full proficiency in their use.

The greatest difficulty vis-a-vis guns for those in our community is not hand-wringing about whether or not we should own them. We’ll leave that pseudo-question up to the leftists. Rather, our difficulty is knowing which assortment of guns and how many to buy.

Getting balance in a gun collection is a worthy goal. One key to this is recognizing that guns just by themselves have little utility. You will also need:

    • Training
    • Ammunition
    • Magazines. (Buy plenty.)
    • Cleaning Equipment
    • Holster, Cases, and Magazine pouches
    • Optics

I listed training first, because it is crucial. Owning a gun without also getting good training makes a gun little more than just a voodoo talisman.  As I’ve often written:  With a limited budget, it is better to have fewer guns and more training. Train, train, and then train some more!

Tools in Your Toolbox

The other key to balance in a gun collection is recognizing that different types of guns are apropos to different tasks and circumstances. Think of them as tools in your toolbox. You don’t pound a nail with a screwdriver.

Since the days of Mel Tappan, many gun writers have correctly made the distinction between “working” guns (for hunting, pest shooting and target shooting) versus defensive or “fighting” guns for situations where human life is at risk.  Single shot firearms are fine for the former, but inadequate for the latter.

Col. Jeff Cooper often spoke and wrote in terms of creating a family battery of firearms, in both working and fighting configurations. Like Cooper, I believe that it is impossible for just one gun or a couple of guns to be capable of handling all situations.  You can’t expect one gun to be able to handle both up close and personal fighting as well as long range precision shooting. And certainly any gun that can easily be concealed will never be much of a sure ma-stopper.

The Basic Battery that I recommend for each adult member of your retreat group is as follows:

1.) A semi-auto battle rifle, preferably one in 7.62mm NATO if you can handle the weight and recoil.

2.)  A reliable compact or mid-size semiauto pistol, chambered in a potent caliber. (Which starts at 9mm Parabellum. My preference is .45 ACP.)

3.) A 12 gauge shotgun with removable choke tubes to make it adaptable to both combat and bird shooting.

4.) A .22 LR rimfire semi-auto rifle that can be scoped. The stainless steel Ruger 10/22 takedown variant is just about ideal.

5.) A scoped precision centerfire rifle capable of 400+ yard shooting. (Optional.)

Note:  Item #5 is optional, depending on whether or not you live in open country.  If you live out on a prairie then this is a must. But if you live in the dense woods of the northeastern U.S. then it can probably be omitted.

The placement of a battle rifle at the #1 position on my list was quite intentional.  A detachable magazine semi-auto battle rifle will be adequate for most defense shooting situations from 2 yards to 300 yards. And it is no coincidence that battle rifles are currently very high on the hate list of the liberal statists who now tend to dominate government, academia, and the mass media.  Buy one or two before they ban them.

Why So Much Hate?

In recent years the left has built up outright hatred of modern paramilitary semi-auto rifles–commonly called Black Rifles. Leftists can’t abide with seeing an average member of the citizenry armed and trained to the same level as a foot soldier.  One reason that the mass media is so vocally opposed to civilian ownership of ARs and AKs is simply because they are such capable defensive firearms. The leftists would only feel comfortable with us owning slingshots. AR and AK family battle rifles are robust, reliable, and quick to get on target. They are useful in home defense, even when faced by multiple assailants. They shoot medium power cartridges that are relatively lightweight. Thus, an individual can comfortable carry both a rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition in loaded magazines, over long distances. Both ARs and AKs can be fielded with or without optics. So, in all, they are suited to anything from facing a lone home intruder to perhaps waging guerilla warfare. And although not ideal, black rifles can also be used for hunting, especially when scoped.


Tempering Factors

There are some tempering factors to consider, in working up your collection. These include:

  • Your Stage of Life.  Someone still in their 20s will probably make different selections than someone in their 70s.
  • Your Budget. Most folks, especially those who are just starting their careers will have limited budgets.  This necessitates both prioritizing and buying less expensive “starter” priced guns. (Gradually, those can be replaced.)
  • Your Physical Stature, Obviously, someone who is 6’2″ and weighs 185 pounds can carry a lot more than someone who is 5’2″ and weighs 95 pounds.
  • Your Climate. Those living in the arid southwest will be content with blued steel guns. But anyone living in Michigan’s UP or in the Pacific “Northwet” will probably want to mainly buy stainless steel or at least Parkerized or Cerakote finished guns.
  • Your Local Political Climate. In some gun-grabby locales like California, New Jersey, and Canada, your options are now pretty slim, especially for battle rifles or for pistols with full capacity magazines. A stripper clip-fed FN-49 is probably worth considering for those living in states with rifle restrictions. And for handguns, consider the 10-round Glock Model 30, chambered in .45 ACP.
  • Your Local Game and Predators.  If you live in much of the United States, then a .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, or a .308 Winchester will suffice for your deer rifle.  But if you live in elk and moose country, then a .30-06 or better yet a .300 Winchester Magnum is more suitable. lastly, if you make Alaska your home, then you will need both a belted magnum rifle and a .44 Magnum (or possibly larger) revolver.

There is certainly no “one size fits all” solution to assembling a gun collection.  Make your gun battery choices wisely.  Your life may depend on the choices that you make. – JWR


  1. Great discussion here, James. I would like to add: “buy once, cry once,” when it comes to cheap vs. expensive firearms. ARs are very cheap right now, and even top quality brands, like Larue, can be had for right around $1000. I know some people would rather have 3 or 4 PSA or Anderson’s, but over time with all the configurations possible, I have found that buying a quality piece the first time around saves money in the long run.

    Another observation that I have found is that survival minded people tend to focus on military calibers, which is great. However, during the 2012 panic, I noticed that all military calibers were gone from the shelves but the odd and or older calibers where plentiful. 30/30, 270, etc… so I would suggest having one or two of non military calibers in your collection.

    And finally, let us re-emphasize training. While marksmanship is very important, if your range time consists primarily of marksmanship, consider pushing your self with movement and speed drills. Start slow, be safe, and then increase speed.

    1. I’ve always been of the impression that all AR lowers and uppers were the same, all made from 7075 T6 aluminum (if I remember right). What makes one better than the other?

      1. Here is some info you may find useful.

        There is also a chart floating around on the web that I could not find with a quick search this morning, that details which manufacture follows true mil-spec with their foraging process. If I recall correctly (its been a while), Colt and BCM were the only two that were true to mil-spec. Again, don’t quote me on that, but all ARs are not equal.

        Also, the barrel is super important. For a SHTF rifle, I prefer hammer forged chrome lined. But, stainless barrels are going to be accurate. Hope this helps.

        1. LMT, Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense, Sons of Liberty Gunworks, and Sionics Weapons Systems all build AR15s for serious use that are either mil spec or better. Theres other brands too but these are the ones I have experience with that are also decently priced.

        1. Wow I’m surprised to find the differences in quality in the various manufactures. I now have this info on my phone where it will stay until I or a buddy get ready to purchase another AR. Thanks a bunch for the info.

          1. Milspec doesn’t always mean better… Many non-milspec parts are in fact higher quality… For instance, milspec barrels for M4 aren’t cold hammer forged. That’s a SAW mil-spec feature…

  2. It is my humble opinion as a combat veteran and retired Deputy Sheriff who has been in harm’s way that the reason the old boys at that bridge in Lexington were able to stand against the British was simple. They had the best weapon technology of that time. The Patriot’s weapons were equal to the Redcoats. And they knew how to employ them. The Patriot’s weapoms were not squirrel guns, sling shots etc. They were the ARs and AKs of that time. I believe this fact was not lost on the framer’s on the Bill of Rights ( read 2nd Amenment). Citizens must have the resources to confront tyrants whereever they present themselves. And having the same technology as the government makes a Patriot a credible protector of the All the freedoms we hold so dearly. This is what tyrants fear—armed citizens.

    1. Very well said, sir. Very well said. Echoing that, we have to understand (The entire country must understand) that the 2nd Amd. is in place to ensure the populace has access to the same weapons as the military and thus are able to take up arms to defend their Liberty if and when it may be necessary. This (as JWR mentioned in the article) is why the statists have such hate for your battle rifle, while not giving two cares about grand pappy’s old single shot .22 or the 12 gauge single shot that’s in the closet.

  3. Great article! One thing Injust would like to comment on is the “your budget” aspect, and how important this is! When I started out, I had the 870 my Sad gifted me, and that was it! I went with Taurus, Marlin, Hi-Points and bare-boned Bushmaster AR’s, just to get a foot in the door, and that’s ok! Now that I’m a little more established, I have the glocks and the PTR’s and Daniel Defense, and those are ok too, but they took a while to get to. So often I see on these pages someo will ask something like, “should I buy this Hi-Point C-9 or this Taurus PT709?” and someone will ALWAYS say (usually snidely) “That’s junk save $400 more and buy a Glock 19”. What are you supposed to do when your home is invaded tonight, tell the thug to come back in 6 months, you’re saving another $400 for a Glock??! Im not saying buy cheap guns and call it a day. I’m saying Do what you can, when you can.

  4. I love when you write about guns 🙂
    Starts my day off right.
    Thank you, Jim. For all that you do.
    When can we expect the second installment of Land Of Promise? Been missing the folks in the Ilemi Republic!!!

      1. gman, no one gun will do for everything. I have separate guns for working my farm now, as opposed to when everything falls apart. Plus, I also stock up for my children and grandchildren, and I’ve got a few for unexpected family members and friends, just in case. I know the argument is always, “you can’t carry all that if you have to bug out.” I’m already at my retreat; it would take a massive event for me to have to leave.

  5. I like the guys in the picture. Obviously highly trained in couch potato tactics! I hope it’s guys like those that try and get my goodies, nothing like big slow targets.

    Gun collecting….I have my base of “black plastic end of the world guns” but they are pretty boring. For real collecting and serious shooting I need stuff that is far more interesting, accurate, and has some chance of increasing in value. Also, you better make sure your #5 gun is a 800+ gun. Heck, my National match AR is an easy 400+ gun, shoots good up close too!

    1. “Also, you better make sure your #5 gun is a 800+ gun.”

      just curious. all the talk I’ve ever heard about guns and all the talk I’ve ever heard about training never seems to get around to a somewhat relevant point – the opponent(s) – except of course to consider them as shambling zombies or stupid sheep or “big slow couch potato targets”. I’m sure you feel quite capable behind your 800+ gun, but how would you deal with an opponent who was equally equipped and trained and motivated?

      1. I got this one Brooksey. @gman, I, personally, in the context of your statement would feel no different if I were up against trained or untrained. Now, highly trained, I would steer clear, because, let’s face it, if I see seal team 6 rollin’ thru, I’m a grey man thru and thru.

        1. “would feel no different if I were up against trained or untrained.”

          I can’t help but recall that bruce lee movie line – “very good. but board not hit back.”

  6. When I met my wife we were discussing finances and she asked me what I was doing to save for retirement. I told her I had an IRA, she was impressed until I explained it was the “normal” IRA but rather stood for Individual Rifle Account. I was putting my money into firearms which hold value and in many cases increase in value. I can sell them or trade them and I’m not subject to any taxes. Recently I traded a pistol for a used propane refrigerator and propane/wood combination cook stove.

    Knowing that the left never stops their crusade against guns, especially “military style” I “invested” some of my kids’ inheritance into an AR-15 for each one of them.

    Over the past few years I have been trying to trade/Sell “odd ball” calibers and focus on calibers that are very common and that I re-load for. This allows us to ensure we don’t end up with any “clubs”.

    I would also add spare parts to List. Especially if you plan on shooting any steel cased ammo which is brutal on extractors. With many military style firearms you don’t need to be a gunsmith to change a broken part.

  7. Good article, I would however challenge the statement that the leftists would be comfortable with us owning slingshots. I suspect they would be happy banning those as well.

    I would suggest anyone looking at a firearm both as an investment and as a tool check out the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Although not as cheap as they used to be, you can still get a decent M1 Garand for $650 direct to your door.

    1. Please do not forget that the M1 was never designed to handle the pressure of modern day [commercial soft nose] .30-06 ammunition. Without having a competent gunsmith inspect the rifle and upgrade some parts you stand a great risk of not only destroying the firearm but sustaining great injury to the shooter.

  8. I also recommend buying and carrying cleaning kits, lube and chemicals as well as spare parts and field tools for those firearms. Keep spare parts and tools such as punches, wrenches, compact hammer, springs, firing pins, etc. in heavy plastic baggies inside the accessory pouch of your rifle case, pistol case, accessory pouch or BOB. Spray them with Barricade or some other corrosion preventative. If you have an AK variant carry a military cleaning kit made for your rifle. It is not only a cleaning kit but a multi-tool. Your steel AK mag is also a field hammer! Watch the videos and learn how to use it!

  9. In this day of threatening leftist gun-grabbers and wishy washy politicians who seem to lean whichever way the wind is blowing: please consider buying firearms, ammo, and even training and magazines etc. without leaving a paper trail to your front door. Buying used guns thru anonymous gun exchanges, buying ammo & etc. with only cash, keeping your purchases “private” from friends, neighbors, and extended family are all precautions worth considering. Thank you JWR for another great and timely article!

    1. I also prefer buying good used guns from private individuals & paying in cash without a paper or electronic trail. We do not truly know if the FBI is using the background checks at time of purchase as a registration list. But we do know that there have been times when the FBI “neglected” to delete tens of 1000s of background checks for purchases. B/c of this, I have debated whether to sell 1 or 2 of the guns I purchased new. However, when buying or selling a used gun, I do require the other party to show photo ID & sign a bill of sale. I do this when buying, in case the gun was used in a crime, & law enforcement tracks the gun to my door; then I can show the dated bill of sale. & the same is true when selling a gun, if your buyer or the next buyer uses it in a crime. In my experience, most other buyers/sellers do not care about a bill of sale.

      1. And don’t forget the list compiled for background checks. In WA, they know it’s against the federal law to get a list of who owns what guns, so the State admitted in the voter pamphlet for Initiative 1639 that they are using their list of the 500,000+ background checks completed.

        The governor and his minions are scofflaws.

  10. Excellent comments, Jim. I’ve long recommended, from a strictly long term survival sense, going with Glock semi autos and Ruger revolvers. Not because they are the best out there, but because they tend to be the easiest to work on, and maintain. 1911s are a good choice, provided you make sure the necessary parts are pre-fitted, as some are not just drop in, i.e., extractors and barrels.

    AKs and ARs are top choices in rifles, for the same reasons. While I like the PTR91 rifles, they are heavier, and .308 ammo is heavy and expensive. But if you can swing it, they’re definitely not a bad choice.

    Remington 870 shotgun. Go to an actual gunsmith, and ask them how often they see an 870 in for repair. It’s not very often.

    Agree with your choice of the 10/22, and of hunting rifle caliber. In the lower 48, the .270 Winchester will do anything one needs it to, provided you choose the proper bullet for the chosen game.

    Gun and ammo sales right now are flat across the board. NOW is the time to start acquiring them. Many of these you can find slightly used in gun shops and gun shows, and there is always a deal online somewhere for ammo and magazines.

    1. I wanted to toss in an issue I had with a 10/22 take down. With a can on, I experienced about a 4″ drop @ 25 yards. I never experienced a change of impact with regular 10/22s or other 22’s in general. Only with the take down. Just a FYI for those that have cans are considering a take down model.

      1. If you’re talking the integrally silenced unit, the effective length of the barrel is reduced, which reduces the muzzle velocity. That could explain it. But, if you’re talking about a can that screws on the end of a normal-length barrel, I got nothin’.

        1. Hey TJMO, Thanks for the following up on this. It was a can that screws on, and I think the extra weight made the barrel droop. It was so much change in impact that the little adjustment available on stock 10/22 sights would not change elevation enough. I could have tried different sight heights, or gone with a red dot, but I just ended up selling the thing.

  11. “The greatest difficulty vis-a-vis guns for those in our community is not hand-wringing about whether or not we should own them.”

    (shrug) “resist not him who is evil” and all that ….

  12. Make sure to pick up reloading supplies for each separate caliber/gauge, along with copious amounts of powder, projectiles, and primers.

    I agree with what others have posted regarding having a non- military caliber available, maybe for your hunting rifle, during the ammo run of 2008-2009 everything but 7mm mag and 270 was gone from the shelves around here.

  13. There is a good reason that so many writers suggest staying with common calibers. Go with a caliber that is uncommon and you will find yourself in a “small club” that cause great trouble if societal conditions get out of control.

    For example, I was in a fairly large local gun store yesterday and saw several boxes of cartridges from different manufacturers in the common calibers. I saw only two boxes of .300 Winchester Magnum.

    Sure, even during the post-Sandy Hook ammunition shortage, you could get the odd ball ammo, but that was because no one was buying it, and the very few boxes of the odd ball stuff that were on the shelf gathered dust. I simply do not believe that it is a wise survival strategy to plan on being able to buy the two or three boxes of oddball caliber ammo that might be sitting on the shelf in stores that MIGHT NOT EVEN BE OPEN in a serious national crisis.

    Beyond all of that, one frequently sees sales of ammo in the common calibers, but not so with the odd ball calibers. From a survivalist’s point of view, one should be “buying it cheap and stacking it deep.”

    While one frequently hears in publications that there are over 300 million guns in the US, few writers ever address the issue of just how little ammunition is actually kept on hand for these firearms by many gun owners. The reality is that the two boxes of ammo kept by a deer hunter for the old “thuhty-thuhty” sitting in the closet from one year to the next won’t go far if things get “spicey.”

    One last thought: since most people who read this blog have a serious interest in survival issues, I recommend that those on a limited budget listen to those who say that they should buy good, workable, economically priced firearms as soon as they can, rather than wait to buy the top of the line, “bragging rights” firearms later. If a person believes that he has three or four years to save up to buy that dream firearm, he certainly has a better crystal ball than I do. In survivalist matters, it is a “you know neither the day nor the hour” situation. I recommend that a person buy economy guns now and replace them later as his budget allows. As Stalin famously said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

    1. “the issue of just how little ammunition is actually kept on hand for these firearms”

      dunno man, I think after the last buying frenzy there’s probably more ammo out there than full-on-combat life expectancy.

    2. Survivormann99,
      You hit the nail on the head – supply and demand. If half the homes in the US have firearms and with the popularity of the AR platform it is a pretty good chance that many home will have a box or two of 223/5.56. Also give that this is a military/LEO round that also increases the chances of it being around post-SHTF. Same with 12ga, .22 and 30-30 (at least here in Western PA). We shouldn’t confuse an artificially created demand for saying that ammo won’t be in demand. The Sandy Hook run on ammo just points out that people don’t know how to plan but that they are spontaneous. Stocks of 22, 223/5.56 are back up, that is until the next crisis. Stockpiling ammo and mags just like food should be an on going task. When people where paying $50 or more for a brick of .22 I was shooting .22 ammo from a brick that had a $7.99 price tag on. Had friends telling me I should sell some. Nope. Slow and steady wins the race and emotions shouldn’t influence one’s choice to buy or sell preps. With the political tensions running high and the left getting more and more violent if you don’t realize the need to up your preps you aren’t understanding how quickly societies can can with a very simple catalyst.

  14. “Leftists can’t abide with seeing an average member of the citizenry”

    miscomprehends the situation. the leftists think that THEY are the citizens, and that the rest of us are not. you wouldn’t want your goats and chickens stalking your property with firearms, would you? neither do the leftists.

  15. Gee, I hadn’t meant to write a treatise, but hope the following will help you all to consider some things.

    Many of the comments posted here today seem to be the rugged lone wolf mentality on display. Been there, done that, trying to do better now. Think things through a little here……I would love to buddy up to the dude with the wheelbarrow. I’d be more than happy to have his assets available to my group. He very likely already has most of the 5 weapons listed above.

    I’d encourage his further investment in some other areas and to ensure redundancy (one is none, two is one, but three is Me), such as making sure to have at least three sets of the best quality NVG’s, a few cases of Dragons Breath 12 gauge rounds, a couple ATVs with trailers and at least 500 gallons of long-term storage fuel, etc. He should also get a good pallet load of tracer rounds to accompany deep stockage objectives.

    As we integrate him into our operation we’ll ensure he adheres to acceptable practices, since sharing is caring, right? Let’s pool resources. Let’s get together and I ‘ll show you some great techniques. How about next Sunday afternoon? Let’s do this every other week. Here’s a full year calendar when we’ll be getting together. I’ll let you know the locations the week prior to each event.

    I have spare radios for him to communicate to us and locations where the fellow will be a valuable guard to stand those long hours on watch with plenty of beans and rice to keep his body built up to stand the cold. He’ll need the caffeine so he should bring a good stockage of his coca cola.

    On a more serious note, folks, watch actual combat footage for the past dozen years. There are plenty on You Tube, and a few movies like Restreppo. It really bothers me how poorly trained our Army soldiers are now. Partly it’s a symptom of unqualified/inexperienced soldiers are when promoted to sergeant.

    The blatant evidence is there to see for yourself when tough looking young soldiers with all their gear on talk about firefights, especially when shooting from behind their protected positions inside armor or fortifications. Listen carefully and hear them talk about shooting so many magazines of bullets their weapon seizes up.

    Those with jammed weapons prove they fail to pay attention to correct weapon operations such as frequent lubrication when shooting sustained firing operations, barrel changes of heavy weapons/crew served, etc. All of these things are taught to them. I know. I went through the training too, and served with those young soldiers in AFGN.

    Post Viet Nam era battle hardened savvy sergeants used to use a spray bottle to soak the bolt area with lube oil prior to firing our old M60 machine guns, and monitor our operation.

    Later in life, we unit commanders had a saying that is perpetually true: “What gets checked gets done”. It is first line supervisors that force the right things to be done. Make this apply to your life. Identify a good weapons operation standard. Carefully clean your optics.

    Carefully clean your weapons and pay careful attention to both your ejector and your extractor.
    In the AR bolt a common cleaning failure causing jams and fail to feed fresh rounds is when you fail to take apart the extractor and clean out the accumulated particles of brass that build up between the extractor and bolt body.

    Simply take your firing pin and carefully push out the small pin so it falls into your hat which you have already carefully placed underneath your hands, while using your thumb to hold the extractor closer to the bolt as you depress the spring. Let the pin fall into your hat (cover-for you Marines), and take apart the bolt to clean.

    Don’t be “That Guy”. Instead, be “The Guy”. Set up and follow the right procedures. Be a peer mentor. It pays off in team dividends.

    Dibs on the dude with the wheelbarrow full of guns and the cokes he can share with us. I’ve got room inside my Hescos.

    Best wishes and God Bless.

  16. If you have rifle make sure you have extra springs, firing pins etc. I have several AR’s from Anderson and they work well also they produce one that doesnt requires lubrication it’s call FR-85 dont have that one yet. But I’m also a Dura-coat finisher and usually coat my weapons.
    I was at Knob Creek shoot 2 weekends ago one could buy complete upper in a variety of calibers ranging from $ 170.00 to $1000.00 depending on type also lower parts kits from CMMG were $ 40.00 with lowers from $ 28.00 and up. Suck a variety to choose from also look at ATN 5×20 scope. I have friend from WV he was watch rabbits from 600 m at night it also has range finder , ballistic comp and several other features for about $450.00 its heavy about 2# but can be used during the day too. He has it calibrate for 5.56, 308, 30-06, 300 Winmag and few other cals too. Ammo was $ 280.00 for 5.56 and $ 180.00 for 9mm per 1k brass both were FMJ .

  17. So many articles about guns on SB. But I will add that in the way our political climate can change it would be a good idea to get while the getting is good when it comes to gun and ammo purchases. I would remind folks that many people have a thing (irrational fear)of black guns and green bullets.

  18. I like how this site challenges me to think and re-evaluate my preps. My first inclination is to challenge how I do things better, or what caliber weapon is the best but then I pause, and think again.
    Everyone’s situation is different, and resources are different and your party’s resources are different, it all makes for a different solution. (wow different x4 in a single sentence)
    That being said, here is my 2 cents worth…
    308 caliber is great against cars and trucks, I have a M1A for that.
    ak47 is a stupid round, unless you are 100 yards away but it is cheap.
    I’ve shot dozens of elk with a .270, really I mean dozens, my dad shoots a 25-06 and its about the same result, my friend shoots a .243 with the same results. Its about shot placement not about caliber.
    I’ve also shot a moose and a mountain goat with my .270, google Jack O’Connor

    Plus what is not mentioned is you should learn to reload your ammo, save half or more for every shot

    1. “Plus what is not mentioned is you should learn to reload your ammo, save half or more for every shot”

      I normally do not like to participate in firearms discussion because I get a little opinionated. Having said that, in my view, if you are not a reloader, you are not a serious firearms enthusiast. Great point, MR. I am sure I will get flamed on this comment.

      1. Muddykid,

        For most rifle calibers and Magnum handgun calibers, I absolutely agree with you. Reloading should be an integral part of your preps. I’d question 9mm, though. It’s so cheap right now, it almost isn’t worth the time and effort to reload it, same with .223.

        1. Steve C, this is a great point. I still reload 9mm/556 because I get free brass, but when I see a sale price, I will buy factory.

          To expand on my comment, I like to be at the range and I do not want to break the bank to do it. With that, though, I do make different loads for different purposes. For precision and hard hitting 556, I like 77gr. Factory ammo in 77gr is expensive. I will also make some bulk 62gr.

          The other point to reloading, from my perspective, in addition to my “elitist snoot” comment above, is that typically reloaders take care and pride in their loads and they really know how they fly. Which means repeatability/accuracy.

          I have seen a guy at the range testing factory 9mm with white box vs. black hills. The whitebox looked like a shotgun pattern @ 25 yards, and the black hills looked a little larger than a softball @ 25. I am not saying factory ammo is bad. It is just my personal experience and enjoyment that reloading is cheaper, more accurate and I enjoy doing it.

    2. M Rancher,
      “ak47 is a stupid round, unless you are 100 yards away but it is cheap.”
      I live in an urban environment (I live close to where I work), so an SKS is ideal for a neighborhood defense – not much beyond 50-75 yards.
      That’s not to say that I don’t have other, longer range weapons, but for first grab for neighborhood defense, my SKS is it. With half-a-dozen stripper clips.

      1. How do you figure that 7.62×39 is anemic? Destroys barriers just as well as .308 w/in 250-300 yards. 25-200 yard red dot zero, it maxes out at +4″ in middle of trajectory. Battle sight zero on combloc guns, you aim at the belt buckle of an adversary, and it’ll be on out to 400m.

        7.62×39 is a great round for dense woods and brush and urban/suburban environments which is the majority of the US — everything but wide open spaces of the mountain west, which is likely where MT rancher resides…

        I’d prefer a VZ58 or AK to an SKS for urban combat where you might be indoors — more compact and lighter weight. SKSes though rival the VZ58 in accuracy, and are solid options for outdoors.

        1. I have to concur. Ballistically, the 7.62x39mm is almost identical to the venerable .30-30. Granted, the trajectory is a bit “rainbow”, but it is hardly anemic.

  19. I don’t think I’d get much argument when I say BHO was the best arms salesman ever. You would think there is a weapon behind every blade of grass. Stats tell the story. Some new to gun and shooting bought guns but vary few. Most that bought were those that already had weapons. We the believers in the Constitution were concerned. On this blog sometime back we were told how many weapons there is per 100,000 population per state. Numbers haven’t changed much. It’s less than 2% . We’ve herd that number before on another stat. Really we can’t expect much help from the other 98%. So it’s on us to do what has to be done when the time comes. I sure hope we are up to it. Well , we just gotta be.

  20. JWR forgot slings, optics, and weapon lights. All equally important.

    Also, I disagree w/ JWR re: battle rifles. I think for certain, more advanced in training and larger stature, individuals they make sense and in certain terrain, but not for all/exception, not rule. More about out-ranging opponents or terrain requirement than benefits in barrier penetration, etc, at typical combat ranges relative to much cheaper intermediate caliber alternatives.

    So, I build my battery around the carbine in 5.56 (ARs and Galils) and 7.62×39 (VZ58 and AK).

    So generally, in order I recommend folks new to guns buy weapons (with many mags, spare parts, and all necessary accessories):
    1. Compact double stack 9mm handgun.
    2. A pistol caliber carbine compatible w/ that HG for home defense (generally sub2k w/ appropriate magwell/catch configuration); however the new Ruger PC9 is a great option too, also in 9mm.
    3. 10/22 22lr
    4. Semi-auto carbine, in 5.56 or 7.62×39.
    5. Scoped hunting rifle in 6.5 creedmoor, .308, .243 win, or .270 win — generally in that order. 6.5 creedmoor trajectory is roughly same as .300 win mag.
    6. 22lr pistol or single stack concealed carry .380 or 9mm
    7. Sporting shotgun/shotgun w/ chokes
    8. .308 battle rifle if training and stature support
    9. .300 win mag rifle w/ suitable scope
    10. Fun gun

    I only think that a handgun and carbine are necessary for every member of your group. Shotguns are special purpose tools IMO, as are hunting rifles and rimfires. B/c of the low cost of rimfire, I do see utility in having a rimfire rifle and handgun for every member of your group in event of long term grid down, but that’s a last resort option…

    Firearms are expensive as is ammo


    1. Ugh, apparently left some notes at bottom. Please disregard.

      Remington 870s — I don’t care for their safety relative to the mossberg. But the trigger guard is the same as the 10/22 and Ruger PC9.
      10/22 and PC9 is a good option for someone jumping straight into rifle training and skipping/not preferring handguns.

      My #10 fun gun to cover nearly all possible uses would likely be a .338 lapua, though 50 bmg is in consideration.

      Also, w/ carbines — you now have binary triggers available for both ARs and AKs, which is a major + for those being primary.

      Battle rifles — forgot to mention that I see them as better for offensive use, while carbines are better for defensive use, but YMMV.

  21. Re: battle rifle offensive use: specifically, I see them as good for ambush situations where you won’t be closing and destroying but rather attacking and swiftly retreating. And then for engaging static positions where enemy is of known quantity and you can pin them down long enough to destroy cover, such as by setting whatever building they’re using on fire.

    Battle rifles are not ideal for standard patrolling where you may encounter an unknown enemy or an enemy with unknown firepower (especially if enemy has superior firepower like vehicle-mounted MGs, etc, and enemy of unknown numbers. In all of those situations having a greater number of cartridges on your person triumphs, whether for killing or covering fire.

    Also in such a patrol scenario, as much as possible, you want every member of your team carrying the same caliber. Now you could even have your marksman have a featherlite bolt action .308 and a lightweight AR15 build with more total rounds for weight of a standard to slightly heavy combat load than sticking just w/ ammo for the precision weapon. Don’t get me wrong, I like the hypothetical advantages of mixed-arms squad, but logistically the benefit is often questionable.

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