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:
- Magazines. (Buy plenty.)
- Cleaning Equipment
- Holster, Cases, and Magazine pouches
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.
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