Opinions regarding civilian possession and use of firearms within our nation vary widely. Many citizens (including most preppers) consider them to be a vital component of personal security while others view them as a scourge upon our country producing thousands of deaths every year. However, among those in the latter camp (at least among my acquaintances) I have noticed a number who have begun to view firearms as a necessary evil in the face of increasing lawlessness and savagery. They still do not like the idea of possessing firearms but have become convinced they must do so as a form of insurance against the escalating threats to their families.
With family members and friends like this in mind I set out to create the “Disaster Response Kit”, a firearm-based package to suit their needs. I had several criteria in mind: obviously, it must be sufficient for personal and home defense needs. I strongly believe that no single firearm can adequately fulfill this role: while a handgun occupies a vital place as a concealable firearm when it is necessary to leave home, it is woefully under-powered to defend a home against multiple attackers and/or long guns.
However, this kit must also satisfy other requirements. It must be compact and inconspicuous: those who are uncomfortable with firearms do not want a bulky and obvious gun cabinet or, worse still, a gun safe if it can be avoided. It must be secure to prevent access by children or others who are not competent to handle firearms. Finally, it must be affordable: in most cases individuals interested in a kit of this nature (or their spouse) are not eager to spend a great deal of money on something they view as insurance and, frankly, would prefer not to have at all.
With these guidelines in mind I started with two firearms: a short barreled home defense shotgun and a full size semi-automatic handgun. The shotgun I selected is a used Western Field (essentially a Mossberg 500) 12 gauge pump action shotgun with a 30 inch hunting barrel that I purchased for $175. As I have a small machine shop. It proved to be relatively easy to remove the barrel, chuck it in my lathe, cut the barrel down to 18.5”, trim and re-blue the ends, and then drill, tap, and install a new bead sight. Even with the addition of an inexpensive butt-stock shell carrier for 5 additional shotgun rounds my total cost was $185 and about 45 minutes of my time.
The handgun I selected is a Ruger P89 semi-automatic in 9mm with two15-round magazines and an inexpensive nylon holster. In a previous article I extolled the virtues of the Ruger P-series handguns as a high quality and highly reliable handgun for a very modest price: I recently traded for aw ell-used SIG-Sauer P226 (I would not have come up with the money to purchase even a used P226) and have found it to be an excellent firearm. However, I would characterize the P series handguns including the P89 included in the kitas “80% of a SIG for 40% of the price”: the P89 and magazines cost $250.Add sales tax and a simple holster for both the gun and a spare magazine and the total price was $285.
The third essential component of an effective firearm defense is a quality flashlight. I have found the Mag-Lite XL50 to be a high quality flashlight for a modest price, but the light included in the kit was a particularly good value since I was able to purchase it on clearance for $12.50. Add fresh lithium batteries (since this kit may be stored away for years before it is needed) and the total price for a quality flashlight with long-lasting batteries is $25. While it might be preferable to have a light mounted on one or both firearms, the uniformly cylindrical shape of the XL50 makes it entirely feasible to hold against the forearm of the shotgun or use with an FBI style hold with the handgun to provide light with either firearm.
Included in the kit is a supply of ammunition for each firearm: 50 rounds of00 buckshot, ten rounds of rifled slugs, 100 rounds of 9mm hollow point, and100 rounds of 9 mm full metal jacket add another $100 to the cost of the kit. I also included a $7 “gun sock” (a sock impregnated with silicone to protect the metal surfaces) with enough cut from the end to contain the shotgun barrel when removed from the shotgun frame and the remainder (with the open end sewed closed) to cover the metal parts of the shotgun frame. Add ziploc bags for the ammunition and the kit components should be suitable for storage for years, if necessary.
Finally, I selected a Cabela’s tactical gun case to store everything. While this sturdy case including four latches, rubber gasket around the edges, and compatibility with one or more padlocks is a good value at the regular price of$100, I was able to purchase the case on sale for $75. Including sales tax and a sturdy padlock the enclosure has a total cost of $90. Using a pair of scissors I removed the foam rubber “bumps” in the appropriate locations to house the shotgun frame, shotgun barrel, handgun/holster, and flashlight and then removed a section of the foam rubber entirely in one spot to hold the ammunition.
If you have been keeping score you will note that the total price for this kit is less than $700 and a couple hours of my time. While most people do not have the capacity to cut down a shotgun hunting barrel to home defense length,a new or used home defense shotgun would not add greatly to the cost of this kit: substituting a new Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 short barrel shotgun would add less than $200 in cost. This complete, compact, secure, and effective personal defense kit may easily be assembled for an investment of less than $900.
I do not intend this kit for my own use: I prefer to have a variety of firearms in secure but quickly accessible locations for maximum availability in the event of an emergency. However, a similar kit may well be useful to me for other applications. For example, a similar kit stored at another location would provide a back-up in the event my primary firearms were stolen or lost in afire. In that case, I would likely prefer to substitute a carbine length rifle with a folding stock, such as an AK-47, Ruger Mini-14, or my personal favorite:a Kel Tec SU-16C. (An AR style rifle with a collapsing stock might also be a possibility.) For any of these, I would carry a half-dozen 20 or 30 round magazines instead of the shotgun and shells. Alternatively, I might make use of a similar “survival” kit with the folding stock carbine along with a .22caliber handgun/red dot sight to hunt small game or a “bug-out” kit consisting of two cases: one containing a shotgun/.22 handgun and the other containing a carbine/full-size handgun (perhaps with a 9mm sub-compact handgun with pocket and/or ankle holster for deep concealment). As you can see, there are many variations to this approach.
Even with this kit locked and stowed in a closet it could be deployed very quickly if necessary. By pre-loading the handgun magazines with 12 rounds of hollow point in one and 12 rounds of full metal jacket in the other (I prefer not to fully load magazines for long-term storage as the magazine springs maybe damaged) the case could be accessed, unlocked, opened, and the handgun removed/loaded in about 30 seconds. Assembling the shotgun, loading the shotgun magazine, and racking the first round could be completed in another 60 to 70seconds. While I prefer much quicker access to a loaded firearm in the event of an emergency, most situations may be effectively addressed with an access time of less than two minutes.
While I would highly recommend that anyone obtaining a “disaster response kit” take the time to learn how to use and maintain both firearms along with regular practice using both (which I would eagerly facilitate for my family members and friends), this kit would also be valuable as nothing more than an insurance policy to be stored away in a discreet location in the hope that it will never be needed. In the event danger appears it would be far better to have a kit of this nature available despite minimal (or no) familiarity with the firearms: at the least, it would be available for me to teach them when the need is obvious rather than scrambling for something among the empty shelves of picked-over gun stores in a time of crisis. Hopefully they can be persuaded to become proficient long before the crisis arrives if the means are readily at hand.