I’ll start with a confession: It is hard for me, a true “heavy battle rifle/ M1911 .45/ one shot is all it takes” kind of guy to advocate hosing down and running. Reading posts
about the tinkering and modding is fun but as I hear the Arabs across the wadi from me get all fired up and shoot into the air (I hope). I realize it is not about looking cool but staying alive. Attacking the most controversial issue, let’s sit back and watch the flames spread from this!
1-Concealment and deception. Be “The Gray Man” (see my post on this concept, Thursday, November 3, 2005 in the Survival Blog Archives), avoid the fight.
2-If it is too difficult, eventually you will likely not do it. [For example, heavy/ungainly guns get left in places where they are not quickly accessible.]
Speaking with survivalists, the first topic is almost always firearms. While a fun hobby we must discuss separating the hobby aspect from the application. A survivor with limited resources must consider the utility of the tool he intends to purchase. The firearm is not to be on the top of your preparation list. Don’t let the Audie Murphy fantasy knock you off the track to survival.
Reasonable assumptions to be applied to survival weapons:
1- You are not the Army, so don’t try to copy the army
2- You are not an offensive unit–his is contrary to survival in almost all cases.
3- Hunting is for sport, trapping and/or livestock are food except in cases of target of opportunity, the time wasted on a hunt is needed elsewhere.
4- In most locations the largest dangerous animal is a human.
5- Long range shooting is both fun and cool, you likely won’t have a good reason to do that.
6- A heavy weapon will slow you down some no matter how strong you are
7- People are rightly frightened by bullets whizzing past them
We can waste quite a bit of time fighting over these assumptions but we are looking at statistics and not an emotional attachment to a favorite in your collection. This is to be primarily a defensive arm to keep you alive–saving you from one or more raiding thugs, before order is restored.
Heavy battle rifles are awesome to behold, tossing a 180 grain slug at the bad guys or imagining the force of a butt stroke from the oak stock is what some fantasies are made of. Reality is that unless you have a disability which limits your running they make the quick sprints that save lives more difficult. The heavier slug is not a major deciding factor unless you plan on assaulting troops in body armor. For survival, I consider these in a similar class to a light machine gun, good for a fixed fortification or military assault but not for protection.
Assault style rifles, SMGs, and carbines offer a handy easily portable weapon but can provide quick suppressing and aimed fire assuming a large magazine. A few shots to keep their heads down as you back up is what living to see another day is made of. Only the most hardened (stupid) soldier will not duck when gunfire is aimed in their direction. The chances of you taking an aimed (G-d forbid) kill shot are low, you and your loved ones should be worried about how to get away with the time you have bought. Try to get a weapon which has some aimed fire accuracy beyond 10 meters. CAR-15/M4 with an Israeli sling would be my choice.
Light and handy, reliable bolt action accurate at long range. Sadly it may be less of a deterrent as it doesn’t look as aggressive. A beautiful hunting or ultra light sniper arm, [but] its slow action makes laying down suppressing fire impossible.
A regular magazine is good for carry and normal usage but in the case of an encounter with rifle armed opponents a 30 round mag will give you the spray power
to make your escape. A detachable stock (if available/legal in your country) helps with aim and handling, but you likely will be drawing from a holster and not have
time to attach it.
Combat is usually fast and unexpected–an ambush or a raid. Humans with a desire to live will almost always disengage at any sign of real resistance. Suppressing
fire while not normally lethal will buy time for retreat and maneuver.
Fantasy is made of one shot kills. This fantasy is built in static training ranges. Marksmanship is absolutely vital (thousands of rounds a year) but training should include several sprints before quickly taking you place on the line, while you are still winded. ALWAYS HAVE A SAFETY SPOTTER. While winded, practice taking snap shots from holster and slung positions.
Team paint ball (real competition not weekend buddy fun) will safely let you experience something like the confusion of a firefight and the utility of suppressing fire mixed
with a few aimed shots.
Proper training and drill time must be invested to use aimed fire during a fire fight. Even the most committed range shooter likely has not had the proper mental/psychological drilling to enable them to effectively return aimed fire if ambushed or raided. It takes real discipline to keep to the plan and fall back in an organized way rather than dropping pack and running (sometimes the best tactic) or laying down fetal position and expelling ones bowels.
Interestingly, since the Yom Kippur war standard selector setting on our M16s is on semi-auto after they almost ran out of 5.56 ammunition.
In serious combat units most soldiers pack a M4 orCAR-15 with a reflex sight with one or two ACOG scopes per squad. The reflex sight chalieem can do
snap shots while the sharpshooters get the more distant targets.