The mid-level battery I will recommend is as follows, with four each in most categories of guns for redundancy and so that they don’t have to be shared.
Mid-Level Everyday Battery
There are two choices here for a handgun– one semi auto and one revolver.
- Four Glock Gen four model 21 in 45acp. The 45acp may not be quite as powerful as a 44 magnum, but the 13+1 rounds it carries should compensate. If you don’t mind stocking a less popular more expensive caliber, then the Glock model 20 in 10mm gives you 15+1 rounds that have close to twice the muzzle energy of the 45 in the same size package. Either one is available for about $520 new.
- Or, you could go with four S&W Model 29s in 44 magnum with four-inch barrels. These will also shoot 44 specials, which have very low recoil compared to the 44 magnum. Like the Blackhawk above, you can get grips of different sizes for different sized hands. You could go with the S&W 329 in Scandium for ease of carry, since the gun is extremely light weight making it easy to carry; however, the 329 has a recoil that could conservatively be called viscous. That said, the 329 would be my personal choice for everyday carry in a SHTF world, but I have shot it enough that I am somewhat used to its recoil, at least for 12 rounds. Although the 329 is brutal, I would carry it every day when a heavier gun might get left in the car. The main downside to the S&W revolvers is the key lock safety that they incorporate in almost all of their revolvers. Although I have never had one fail, this is a still a mechanical device that could fail at the worst possible time and make the gun impossible to fire. I wish S&W leadership would stand up to their lawyers and tell them “no” or go with a less intrusive lock system, preferable one that can be removed by the owner. The model 29 is $850 each ($950 each for the 329). The Ruger Super Redhawk would be another option, but although the longer barrel (7.5 inch) version is less expensive than the S&W, the shorter barrel versions bring a premium.
I will stick with the Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 shotgun for the recommendation here but will also suggest the Mossberg 930 Semi Auto for those who prefer semi-autos or who would appreciate the reduced recoil. Again, a pump is more reliable, easier to use, and less expensive, but the 930 is a viable option.
- Four 12 ga pump shotguns– Remington 870s with slug and bird barrels, new for $350 (with aftermarket slug barrel). Be sure to pick up an assortment of choke tubes, too.
The same is true with the rifle. The Remington 700 is still the best choice, but we’ll go with a variation, too. We’ll also go with a rifle for each of the four team members.
- Three Remington 700 ADL in .308 with iron sights, new for $350. Buy a base level Leupold or Burris 3×9 power scope (both with lifetime warranties, which would be good until TSHTF) for $200. Also, One Remington 700 SPS short threaded barrel in .308 with Leupold Mark IV scope with a suppressor (in the 41 states where legal) fitted by a gunsmith with back up iron sights $2,500 total.
- Four Ruger 10-22 rifles with iron sights and base level Leupold or Burris scopes. There are a lot of variants available, I would recommend a threaded barrel non-take down version. You can get them with longer barrels, heavy barrels, wood, composite, or collapsible stocks in fixed and take down variations all at different prices. Figure about $500 with scope, add two suppressors for $500 each (including tax stamp).
- Two Ruger 22-45 .22 semi auto pistol available new for $290 (shared) if you get the threaded barrel variant; then you can use the same suppressor you have for the 10-22.
- Four Smith and Wesson 642 .38spl without lock for $350 new
- Two .177 or 22 caliber suppressed pellet rifles with built in suppressors to use on small game for $100 (shared)
The total for the mid-price everyday battery is $9,870 or $2,468 per person.
Mid-level Social Battery
- If you go with the Glocks in the everyday battery, then they will serve for the Social battery as well. If you instead went with revolvers, then buy four gen-4 Glocks, I would suggest 9mm, but be sure they are all the same caliber. Depending on what feels right to everyone, you can go with two full sized (like the G17 or G22) and two smaller sized (such as the G19 and G23) if that helps. Prices again are around $520. For another couple hundred per pistol, you could get a caliber conversion kit that lets you shoot both 9mm and .40 S&W. For the polymer adverse amongst us, then police trade Sig P229s and P226s are available for $300 to $400 right now; but you will want to replace the springs and maybe also buy caliber conversion kits. The down side is that they don’t have adjustable back straps, although you can get thinner or thicker grips. 1911s are another option, but here I would suggest stepping up to something like a Ruger or S&W American made 1911. The back straps are not adjustable but there are some options around different mainspring housings, including bobbed versions that can give you some degree of hand size choices.
- I think the Ruger 556 still makes sense for the mid-level battery, although I am going to recommend optics this time. Here I would go with a mid-priced Leupold, Burris, or a comparable scope. In this case, I would buy the Leupold VX-R 1.25 to 4x for about $500, bringing the total cost of the rifle to $1,130. Back up Iron Sights are a must.
- I would also add a Ruger Long Range rifle in .308 with a Leupold Mark iV scope for around $2,500 just in case you do need to reach out and touch someone. The 6.5mm Creedmoor chambering may offer marginally better long range performance, but caliber commonality with the Remington 700s is more important.
The social battery, excluding the Glock’s because you bought them for the everyday battery, totals $7,020 or $1,755 per person. If you bought the model 29’s then the Glocks would add another $2,080. On to the high end battery.
High End Battery
This is for people with money to burn, as it really does not provide a lot of improvement over the other two batteries. You may want to start out with the budget battery and move up in some categories of weapons over time as your finances and the completeness of your other preps allow.
High End Everyday Battery
- The pistol I would really like to recommend is the Sig Sauer P220 single action with steel frame in 10mm. The heavier frame really tames the recoil, and it is built like a Swiss watch. The challenge again is that it does not fit everyone’s hand. Instead I’d suggest going with the tried and true Glock 20 in 10mm, or the new longer barrel 10mm Glock model 40. These come now with the option of mounting a small reflex sight, and I would suggest doing so. You would also want a few spares on hand, but bear in mind that sometime in the future these red dot type sights will fail or you will run out of batteries and you will be back to iron sights. Cost around $800 each with reflex sight. Again for the plastic averse, something like a Les Baer or other semi-custom 1911 would be a good choice at $2,500 each for basic models.
- Rifle choice would be four Remington 700 SPSs with short threaded barrel in .308 with Leupold Mark IV scope and a suppressor (in the 41 states where legal). Also have a gunsmith fit back up iron sights $2,500 total. You can spend more but why?
- Shotguns would be stock Remington 870s as above with two barrels. We will also recommend social 870s below. Four at $350 each. More money will not get you a better shotgun, just a fancier one.
- Four Ruger 10-22 rifles with iron sights and mid-level Leupold or Burris scopes. There are a lot of variants available. I would recommend a threaded barrel non take down version customized by Volquartsen. You can get them with longer barrels, heavy barrels, wood, composite, or collapsible stocks in fixed and take down variations all at different prices. These are $1,750 each with mid-priced scope; add suppressors for $500 each (including tax stamp).
- Four Ruger 22-45 lite weight .22 semi auto pistol available also sent to Volquartsen for customizing. Get threaded barrels and dedicated titanium suppressors (where legal). Total depending on options is $2,000 each.
- Four Smith and Wesson 642 .38spl without lock $350 new. Leave stock, no need to customize.
- Four .177 or 22 caliber suppressed pellet rifles with built-in suppressors to use on small game, $100.
This brings the cost of the high end everyday battery to $33,400 or $8,350 per person.
High End Social Battery
- Four Glock 19s tuned by a good gunsmith with threaded barrels and suppressors. $1200 each.
- Four semi-custom AR15s by someone like Les Baer or another high end builder with optics $2,500 each.
- Four Remington 870 shotguns customized by someone like Vang Comp Systems for consistent accuracy, reliability, and flexibility. A Vang upgrade applied to your 870 runs about $820, bringing the cost to just under $1,200 each.
- Two Barrett M95 bull pup bolt action .50 BMG with Leupold Mark IV. One would be enough but might as well have a backup for $7,000 each.
That brings the total of the high end Social battery to $33,600 or $8,400 per person.
This is not necessarily all of the guns you want to have. You may want spares of the guns listed above. You may want guns for trading or supplying to folks who join your retreat, and you may want to keep a separate cache somewhere just in case. Additionally, if you start out with what you have today, you may want to keep your existing guns as you move towards a higher cost more consistent battery.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Mel Tappan really knew what he was talking about 40 plus years ago. Some of what I ended up recommending surprised me. For example, I have always thought myself to be a Glock guy, but when faced with some of the requirements around putting together a flexible battery, I had to make some changes to my thinking. Likewise, I’m a big fan of 7.62×51 battle rifles, but unless you are planning for paramilitary operations, I think the 5.56×45 makes a lot more sense. What do you think? What would you do differently?