Choosing the Best Guns and Ammo for your Arsenal

By on October 13, 2014
find the best survival weapons, combat rifles, handguns, and shooting supplies

Is your arsenal of guns and ammo going to be enough when SHTF? How can you be certain the survival weapon you’ve chosen is right for you?

How much confidence do you have in your survival gun? Is it multipurpose? Can you use it for hunting large and small game? Will it do the job if you ever have to defend your home and family from an attacker?

Is your survival weapon accurate when shooting long-range? Can it be used up close if needed? Can you carry it with you discreetly?

Five Ideal Survival Guns For Survival Situations:

In a perfect world, there would be a weapon that could do every one of these things, and choosing a survival gun would be a piece of cake. But unfortunately that’s not the world we live in.

Instead, we have to choose our guns and ammo carefully based on the criteria that are most important to us. And for most of us, that usually means owning multiple weapons. (Not necessarily a bad thing.)

I can’t tell you what type of survival gun to buy—only you can decide that. What I can do is give you a rundown of the types of guns and ammo I think everyone should own, what they’re used for, and why I think you need one.

The Best Survival Guns and Ammo for Your Arsenal

1. The Combat Rifle

survival weapons, survival guns and ammo, survival gear, and shooting skills

A combat rifle makes a great multipurpose survival weapon

 

Examples: AR-15, HK-91, AK-47, M1A/M14, Galil ARM in either .308 or .223, FN SCAR 16/17

Uses: Defense, hunting

What to look for when choosing a combat rifle: magazine-fed, semi-auto, minimum 300 meter accuracy, center-fired rifle cartridge, detachable magazine with capacity for at least 20 rounds (if legal in your state), dependable iron sights.

Bottom line: A good combat rifle makes an ideal go-to weapon for both hunting and self-defense, so this is not a weapon you want to scrimp on. If you’re only going to have one survival gun, this should be it.

2. The Shotgun

the best shotguns for your gun safe, how to choose the best guns and ammo

A double barrel shotgun for hunting and self defense

 

Examples: Mossberg 500, Remington 870, Stevens/Savage 511, Benelli Super-90

Uses: Typically a hunting weapon, but often used in combat as well. Best for up-close shooting.

What to look for when choosing a shotgun: 12 gauge (or 20 gauge for less experienced shooters)

Bottom line: This is a really versatile survival weapon with many variables. I prefer pump-action, double barrel guns, but other types are great too. Shotguns have great accuracy and are easy to shoot, but may not be the best choice for self-defense.

3. The Handgun

guns and ammo, shooting supplies, gun accessories, and survival weapons for your gun safe

A handgun for concealed carry and self defense

 

Examples: 1911, Springfield Armory (.45ACP) HK UMP .45ACP, S&W M&P, Glock

Uses: Concealed carry, day-to-day shooting, self-defense, backup weaon to rifle

What to look for when choosing a handgun: Center-fire cartridge, minimum 9mm, .45 ACP for automatic or .357 magnum for revolver

Bottom line: A handgun is a must-have for self-defense and survival, especially if you want to concealed carry (which you should). Ammo for 9mm handguns is abundant, which is a huge plus. 9mm’s are also easy enough to handle for women and young adults. The debate between automatic and revolver is never ending, but it all comes down to personal preference.

4. The Long-Range Rifle

long range rifles, 308 rifles, 30-06 rifles and more survival guns and ammo

Long-range rifles are great for precision shooting

 

Examples: Winchester Model 70, Remington 700, AR-30, M40A3, Nighthawk Tactical .338 Lapua Magnum, Barrett 98/Bravo .338 Lapua Magnum

Uses: Long-range precision shooting, hunting

What to look for when choosing a long-range rifle: Center-fire cartridge, ability to take down medium to large game, 308 or 30-06 (my preferences; your needs may vary depending on your environment and skill), accuracy.

Bottom line: If you have a combat rifle, it’s debatable whether you need a long-range rifle too. But these guns are great for shooting big game at a distance, and the US military even uses some long-range rifles as sniper weapons. These weapons and their ammo aren’t cheap, but in certain situations and environments, it’s worth the investment.

 

5. The Rimfire

the best survival weapons, 22 rifles, rimfire weapons, guns and ammo

A 22 rifle is the most common rimfire gun

 

Examples: Ruger 10/22, Marlin 60, Henry Lever Gun

Uses: Small game, last-resort self defense

What to look for when choosing a rimfire rifle: A .22 is your best bet. Bolt, lever, semi-auto, magazine, single shot, or tube fed all comes down to personal preference.

Bottom line: This is a handy gun, compact, and easy to shoot and carry. It’s also inexpensive and ammo is easy to come by. A .22 is a great “starter gun” for novice shooters.

 

6. Surplus Style

military surplus weapons, guns and ammo, and survival weapons for your gun safe

A military surplus weapon for hunting or self defense

 

Examples: Mosin Nagant, SKS, Makarov, M-1 Carbine No. 5 Enfield Jungle Carbine

Uses: Backup weapon, good for novice or ill-equipped shooters (in other words, when SHTF, you can loan it to someone you trust)

What to look for when choosing a surplus weapon: This will depend on the specific weapon, since surplus weapons can come in a variety of styles. Generally, stick with the recommendations listed for other guns.

Bottom line: In general, ammo for surplus weapons is cheap and readily available. The weapons themselves are in low demand, making them inexpensive and easy to find. While not an essential item, a surplus weapon is great to have as backup and is handy, durable, and well-built.

The Final Word on Guns and Ammo

A well-stocked gun safe with a variety of reliable guns and ammo is essential. In my opinion, these six guns are the basics of any decent gun collection. Every gun on this list is affordable (around $300 or less) and would do the trick if needed for self-defense or hunting food.

Since each gun serves its own unique purpose, it’s good to have a well-stocked gun safe with plenty of survival weapons to choose from. Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to buy more survival guns and ammo?

 

Find more about survival guns here: Video Survival Gun Reviews



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93 Comments

  1. Pingback: 6 Survival Guns For Your Arsenal | Survivalist Basics | Be Prepared For Anything!

  2. The only thing I feel I’m missing is a long range hunting weapon. Need to pick up a Remington 700

    • Bill

      The Remington Model 700 “action” is a copy of the Winchester Model 70 action. . . . The
      Winchester Model 70 action has a “controlled round feed” bolt face, which makes it convenient for saving brass as it will “hang on” to the brass if you want it to and loading is a little more efficient, especially in awkward positions. . . The only advantage to the solid Remington bolt face is when you get basically into the Elephant Gun calibers. . . Anything in the .338, .300 WinMag, .308 and 30 06 range, the controlled round feed of the Winchester Model 70 is most desirable. . . . Also you may want to consider a Browning A-Bolt in a .270, .308 or .30 06. . . . Also a great rifle, but IMHO, the Winchester Model 70 is the hallmark of rifles in the category you are looking into, but certainly nothing wrong with the Remington ! . . . Also, awhile back Remington took the stand that should TSHTF, they would consider the Government and its entities as their main customer, basically saying that “We The People” were somewhere down the list from the Government when it came to supplying weapons, parts and ammo. . . . How soon they forgot that it was American Hunters and Plinksters that built Remington into what it is today. . . How unfortunate for Remington that I have a good memory !

      • Model 70 winchester “the riflemans rifle” What mor has to be said?

  3. TSgt B

    Would you PLEASE hire a proofreader?

    And maybe update your research a bit?

    The M-1 carbine, a fine defensive weapon, is not that easy to find affordable ammo for, trust me.

    “pump action, double barreled guns”? REALLY/ Show us one example.

    And in case you haven’t noticed, the most rare, “common” ammo at this point seems to be .22 Long Rifle. Try buying soma at Wally World, today.

    I’d be happy to offer some much needed guidance. You have my email address; contact me.

    • TSgt B

      OK, I fat-fingered “some”. Sue me.

      • Peacekeeper

        TSgt B, this is TSgt F and I said the same damn things you did, hire a professional or at least a out of work retired USAF Defender who is a Prepper and NRA Certified firearms instructor with more of a clue than this author. I am sorry but in a Prepper situation, I am going to defer to the handgun as being the first weapon you would want to buy. My reason, you can conceal it easier, ammo is cheaper (typically) and each member of your team should have one. Now on to selection which rhymes with Perfection and the Perfection is a 9mm Glock, preferably a G19 4th Generation model. Like stated in the article, “Ammo for 9mm handguns is abundant, which is a huge plus. 9mm’s are also easy enough to handle for women and young adults.” Another reason is in a SHTF situation, if you run out of ammo, you can take it from that dead soldier over there (thanks for your service Brother). You might find .40 and .45 on some Law Enforcement officers but 9mm will be more widely found. Another good thing about Glocks is the customization factor. Longer barrels and stocks will give you added range, threaded barrels allow use of a silencer and spare parts are dirt cheap. You will find that magazine’s are cheaper in the $23 range whereas their competitors (HK’s and Sigs run $50+ per mag). You can also buy Korean clone’s for as low as $5.99 on sale or in bulk, typically around $15 regular price). I keep five factory mags per gun then use the Korean ones for range use but I have yet to have one fail and would trust them in combat if I had to. If I could only have one Glock, it would be the 19 for it’s mid size and concealabilty but my 19 is actually the back up to my G34 long slide tactical model. That’s another nice thing about Glocks is the compatibility of magazines between models. My large 17 and 33 round mags actually fit in the smaller G19 and G26 models. If you want to turn your pistol into a carbine, there are stocks such as the HERA stock but make sure to register your gun as a SBR with the Feds. (or hide it away for TEOTWAWKI). I am not telling you to commit a crime, just that there is a product that will turn your pistol into a carbine for little less than a whole “battle rifle”. If anyone is looking for advice, please let me know. TSgt F.

        • Jade

          Why “Convert” a 9MM hand gun…. Just buy a 9MM Carbine! No problems with the Feds!

        • Mahatma Muhjesbude

          Daryl, I know it had to be a typo when you said the ‘SKS is an extremely good long range defense weapon”?! Right? Unless you misunderstand the typical definition of long range? Long range is considered by the international sniper competition ranges to be over 400 meters. And ‘long range hunting is considered to be out to about 800 meters in mountain country. And i guarantee that No SKS’s are ever used at this range. That’s because you’d be very ‘lucky’ to even hit a man sized target with a scope mounted SKS fifty percent of the time at 300 meters, let alone long range shooting.

          Overly optimistic and emotionally ambitious assessments of your equipment will get you and/or your team killed.

          A decent well sighted in AR-15 or M-14, on the other hand has been in the hands of more combat vets who qualified ‘expert’ by regularly hitting the knock down steel point blank plates at over six hundred meters, with iron sights.

    • Daryl

      I agree with you and the SKS is an extremely good long range defense weapon and can take alot of adverse conditions. I have the M1 and a original SKS and a tactical built one and they are very deadly and accurate. .22 ammo is hard to get reasonable in some areas and makes a good varmit weapon.

      • In a SHTF situation, I kinda like the sks because you don’t need clips, they load fast with a stripper and if you loose them or damage them you can load by hand, all 10. loose your mag on an ar and you have a really cool single shot. Most of the gung ho types I see at the range can’t hit paper when there are other people shooting, can’t imagine them keeping track of empty mags in a real shoot out

        • glenbo

          Wrong. It doesn’t normally take removeable magazines, but it does take clips, stripper clips, which are used to load the internal magazine. There’s a difference between magazines and clips.

          • OK , split hairs, stripper clips hold individual cartrage in groups to be fed into the mag.

            You still can load a SKS one cartrage at a time until the 10 rounds are all loaded. Rifles with detachable magazines are single shot with out the magazine

    • Joe

      To TSgt B: Why do you feel it necessary to find fault with such unimportant
      petty subjects as proof reading ?
      Furthermore, you have appointed yourself as a self proclaimed expert in
      in the field of firearms.
      I was in Walmart today and they were fresh out of “SOMA” “Parts of an organism other than the reproductive cells.
      the body as distinct from the soul, mind, or psyche”. So much for your tip
      on proof reading, you may want to hire one for yourself.
      You are the type of person that loves to look for others faults, you may want
      to pull the plank out of your own eye before removing the twig from another’s
      eye.

    • SmokeHillFarm

      I agree about ammo for the venerable old M-1 carbine. I fell in love with it back when I was first issued one at Ft Lewis in 1966 & would always try to get one as my duty weapon instead of the M-14’s & M-16’s that predominated during my 21-yr career with Uncle Sam.

      I got an FFL after I retired, and one of my first purchases was three M-1 carbines. At $130 wholesale, what’s not to like?

      It’s one of the best all-around rifles available, but though the ammo has always been available — it’s never been very common. The local guys might not have it, and Wally World might only have a couple of boxes in stock. In a SHTF scenario, you aren’t going to be scrounging much of this, and I’d recommend reloading this one, definitely. Keep a lot of reload material around and the little one-at-a-time Lee Loader in that caliber, and you’re all set.

      My big objection to this article is its assumption that most people can keep semi-autos in good repair & working smoothly.

      That, and I’d sure like to see these modern tactical rifles and decently-made semi-auto pistols for the $300 he suggests. At that price I might actually buy one of those Ar-15s or Glocks — though I’d still trust my revolvers, pump guns & single-shot rifles to be operating decades after the semi=autos are rusting in a corner, jamming on all that old, scrounged ammo they try to feed them.

  4. Dick

    James, Don’t get a Remington 700. They have trigger problems. They have been recalled. Very poor customer service area. Difficult to get cooperation and get gun repaired. Also: article said these guns are available for under $300. Where can I get a new AK, AR, combat .308 for $300? Please publish particulars so I can order one. Thanx

    • JScott

      Remington sent me a postage paid box to return my 700 for trigger replacement. Received gun back in two weeks. Cost me a trip to the post office. Period. Even got a discount on products at the Remington store. No complaints at all. Excellent service. Great gun (.308, bolt action)

  5. Robert Ross

    YES, I agree. V-Nam combat vet.

  6. left coast chuck

    This article should open a long list of replies. I’ll start off. A long range .338 or some variation thereof requires a fair amount of expertise in order to utilize it for its intended purpose. This would be low on my list of weapons for my self defense. If you have the bucks and the time to learn how to use it, go for it. Keep in mind that there are not that many ranges that have a 500 yd range.

    The M-1 carbine is a handy rifle to have, but hardly is in the SKS price range. Carbines are going out the door at a premium price. Even the newly manufactured copies are retailing in the $600+ range. You can buy 2 or even 3 SKS for that amount of money. Having a back-up rifle in the same configuration is very handy. Jungle Enfields also sell for way more than their value, especially as they have a tendency to have their zero wander. If you are interested in an Enfield style rifle, consider an Ishnapoor (not sure of the spelling) Enfield. It uses .308 ammo which is easier to find than .303 British. The Moisin-Nagant is a sturdy battle weapon that is selling fairly cheaply and ammo is plentiful. It can be a mule to run, but it will never let you down. Think winter of ’43, Moscow, Russia. It turned back the Wehrmacht.

    If I could only afford one gun and one gun only, it would be a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 in 12 ga. There is a huge variety of ammo available. I would get a 20 inch barrel with an extended magazine tube. I would get a barrel that either had internal threads for a variety of chokes or I would get a Polychoke installed. Many people think a Polychoke is ugly and they may well be right, but with a Polychoke you have the full range of chokes with you at all times. You instantly go from modified to full to cylinder with just a couple of twists of the Polychoke. Disclaimer: No financial or any other interest in the company itself, just happen to own one and am satisfied with it and don’t have to ever go searching for that choke tube that I haven’t used in a couple of years. Very handy when you have to pump some slugs down the barrel and can’t find the cylinder bore choke. You do have to disassemble and clean the Polychoke unlike my brother who used it for 25 years every duck season and never cleaned it. After I disassembled it and cleaned it, it went back to functioning just fine. Disassembly is easy. If I can do it, so can you.

    Just my 2¢ worth. I am sure every following poster will have compelling arguments why none of my choices is valid.

  7. Donald A Luksan

    Your list is ok,but please tell me where you can buy an AR for 300.00 or less.Some of these weapons can be had in used condition for under 300.00,others not even in worn out broken shape for that money. Thank You Don.

  8. doc

    If you really want to explore the survival gun topic, try to find copy of a now out of print book called “Survival Guns” by Col. Jeff Cooper. It will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the subject. He of course does not discuss the brand new guns on the market but gives valuable, timeless principles that will help you choose from what is available to you today. Highly recommended!

  9. Where and how can I buy these weapons?

  10. awesome article on best guns and ammo.I recommend for frugalness the mosin nagant .the gun and 880 rounds of ammo will cost under 200$ and the H&R Pardner pump shotgun 12 ga new for 150$ The Serbian AK 47 and red army ammo. gun 250$ red army ammo 23 cents a bullet. a person can well arm them selves for survival with out breaking the bank.

  11. obsidian

    My thoughts are One cartridge and a variety of arms chambered for it.
    .357 Magnum.
    Revolver, Carbine, Rifle, uses heavy expanding hollow points for hunting large to medium game, light bullets for small game, anti personnel for combat/defense. Can shoot .357 Mag, and .38 spl. if that ammo is found or scavenged traded for.
    Shot shells for shot gun work.
    With a proper scope and used inside it’s effective range it can be used as a long range rifle on a rifle platform designed or mod to make it so.
    ——–
    Using several firearms that chamber 9 mm will do, pistol/revolver Carbine and rifle.
    out to perhaps 150 to 200 mt.
    ———
    I would think 5.56 x 45 mm would do with the number of pistols chambered for this cartridge as well as carbines and rifles.
    ————
    Long range rifle fire would work in areas that have the terrain that makes this a need.
    This could be a single shot or bolt action any caliber from .270 up…..
    My go to is a .357 magnum brace of revolvers and a Win M 94 in 30/30.
    A 12 ga and a 20 ga shotgun.
    A gaggle of .22 lr.
    A man could conceivably go with one rifle, a bolt or semi auto long range rifle in .308 and use it for every long arm and hand gun function.

  12. obsidian

    Walmart in my area is selling a twelve gauge shotgun, standard Remington 870 hunting weapon for $287.00
    Ya cannot beat that and can mod it to do every job you need it done.

  13. Donald

    You do not want a Marlin after the company was sold to Remington. A lot of bad blood occurred. It is my understanding no lever gun people [gun smiths ] from Marlin were hired by Remington. Do a little research and you will understand why I feel this way.

    • obsidian

      Research? Hell Ya need a gun ya buy one.
      Remington is just as good as the others and for that price it’s better.
      I don’t play politics when it comes to buying what I need.
      Smith and Wesson did get bad press once for some stand they took, I didn’t sell or throw away and stop buying S&W because of it.
      If you don’t want to buy a Remington for what ever reason, don’t.
      I still own a Remington I am quite proud of and never had a problem with.
      Your call, I could care less.

  14. Jim

    And a minimum of 1000 rounds for each.

    • obsidian

      The standard combat load out for rifle ammo in an Infantry unit US Army or USMC is 210 rounds.
      1,000 rds is the ammo load of 4 to 5 infantrymen/riflemen.
      So you say at minimum you are going for the ammo load out for a fire team of combat soldiers per weapon.
      I got an exercise for you.
      Take a coin, any coin but a silver dollar will do.
      Flip that coin and call out heads or tails.
      get what you call out every time three times in a row.
      Getting into a shoot out once is flipping a coin and calling it right and surviving, getting into a shoot out three times and calling it right is the same as surviving three gun fights.
      Now more ammo may mean more chances of surviving BUT having an ASP lying about waiting for thieves to come take it from you is not sound thinking.
      If you have, One pistol, one carbine, one rifle and a shotgun you are talking about 4,000 rds of ammo or the combat load out for a re-enforced couple of squads.
      What if you have to bug out?
      I hope you plan on having a 6 x 6 truck.

      • Allen

        Not sure what article you read, but this one is about survival, maybe short, maybe very long term. There are plenty of potential situations where there would be no supply line replenishing your ammo when you run out after a year or two. Guns are used for plenty of things besides going into battle.

        • obsidian

          If the SHTF situation you envision will require 1,000 rds of ammunition per weapon, because the supply line will dry up then you are in deeper kimchee than ammo and guns will dig you out of.
          You would be better off buying mule pulled plows and seeds because if ammo dries up that thoroughly you will be in the 17th century if not the stone age.
          I know a fellow who doesn’t fly and he owns a parachute, “just in case” but if you feel the need to carry and own an Infantry Platoon’s worth of ammo in your private ASP just for yourself why you go ahead Bubba.

      • John D

        obsidian, to clarify: 1000 rounds supply for a rifle does not mean it all will be carried at once. What you might think about is carrying 210 rds, five different times.

        • obsidian

          Load up then Bubba.
          Hell 1,000 rds per rifle handgun?
          Seriously what are you planning, fighting world war in your backyard?
          reality will show you surviving that many actual gun fights is not possible and just how much hunting will you be doing?
          I stand by my statement.
          you will not need that much ammo.
          If you do, you need a squad automatic weapon and a Rocket team in support.
          LOL go ahead buy up that 1,000 rds.

      • SmokeHillFarm

        Some of us are assuming that one likely SHTF situation may last indefinitely … possibly many years. My basic prepping strategy is to aim for a couple of years’ supply of the essentials and then add to it as time goes by. Since ammo is so important, it’s one I stock heavily in my critical calibers: .38 special, .22 magnum, .22 LR, 12-gauge and .22 airgun pellets.

        I have enough HTH to purify water for decades & enough coffee filters to filter it. Food gets added to regularly, 100 Bic lighters & other small but essential items.

        One may hope that SHTF may resolve itself in weeks, or months … but there are no guarantees here, as we know, and we need to bear this in mind.

        It would take a pack mule to carry all my weapons & ammo, but I’m too old & crippled to leave my little farm, which I’ve set up to defend — so I’ll make my stand here with the deer, rabbits & fish in the pond to keep me fed.

      • Great Grey

        Lets see there are bulls and cows that will attack a person just because they are in sight. Then there’s the stupid people who will turn the hogs loose from hog confinements which will create a problem for anybody on foot. If you think cattle and other livestock will stay put when electric fence quits working or a wire fence will stay up without maintenance you’re crazy.
        Then there’s things such as coyotes, wolfs, bobcats and mountain lions around here. There are a lot of reasons you could go through 1000 rounds and not one them fired at another person.
        Of course a 1000 deer would feed me for a long time.

  15. glenbo

    “I prefer pump-action, double barrel guns..”

    I’ve been around guns for my entire life and I’ve never seen such a critter as a pump action double barrel shotgun. Anybody got a picture?

    • John D

      Glenbo, come on. did he have to put in OR to satisfy you?

  16. One gun I own is a Savage .22/410 over and under that makes a great survival rifle. They were made originally to be put in WWII bombers for scavenging in case the crew got shot down over enemy lines. If you can find one at a gun show I believe they are in the $300 price range.

    • Coydog

      The model 24 runs $600 to $1,000 currently. The mod. 42 can be had for under $400.

  17. Bill

    Congrats ! . . . .This looked liked a pretty good list of essentials to me. . . If I were to add anything, it would be to also have a backup on “high wear” parts that may fail rendering a particular weapon useless, and possibly also the ammo. . . I chose a Winchester Model 70 in a .308 over a 30 06 for a little better accuracy, but mostly due to the “kick” being substantially lower than a 30 06, in case my wife or smaller, younger person should have to fire it and be able to handle the recoil. . . . The AR15 platform is great for almost anything and highly accurate. . . .556/.223 ammo is highly packable due to semi-small size & weight, reasonably priced, and with a 30 round magazine could, I stress “could” be used on very large game if the need arises. . . . Whatever the choice, you should have enough ammo in any given caliber to literally burn out the barrels of that caliber weapon(s) you have, and possibly a thousand more for close quarters protection when the rifling in the barrel is all but gone. . . . Great article. . .Makes you think !

  18. The .223 and the .308/30-06 are not in the same class, so the first category should be split into “light” defensive rifles and “heavy”. The .223 is fairly common and easy to shoot, but is not optimal for defense and is lousy for hunting, except perhaps for Javelina sized game. It is a small bullet traveling very fast, so is good at penetration but not effective at transferring energy to the target. Thus, having a .223 to provide a way to shoot common ammo and for training is a good idea, and it would be better than nothing for people who cannot handle a better defensive round. If at all practical, your primary defensive rifle should be a .308 or 30-06.

    A fine single shot or double barrel shotgun is great for sporting uses, but is too limited a capacity for survival usage. A pump is usually the best choice. There are a few autoloaders which have a decent magazine capacity or can be extended, which should also be quite adequate.

    .338 Lapua may be an exceptional round, but probably not be common enough for survival usage. If you have a defense rifle in .308/30-06, it CAN be used for hunting good sized game, but it is not optimal for that purpose. Also having a good bolt action rifle in the same caliber would be a better option. For long range usage, a bolt action is usually better than a semi-auto.

    The M1 carbine is useless for any conceivable purpose. The ammo is mostly ineffective for any purpose, the guns are not that accurate, and the recoil is higher than it’s usage warrants.

    • obsidian

      The M-1 Carbine accuracy falls off miserably out at 100 yards.
      It can hit a man size target but not in any type of group worthy of the name.

      • SmokeHillFarm

        Do you really expect firefights at 100 yards plus? The Marines of that period loved the carbine, according to my Dad, who island-hopped all the way to Japan during the 1941-45 Pacific Cruise of the USMC.

        I have my SKS & other rifles for longer work, if necessary, but I expect most “attacks” by SHTF mutts will be at much shorter ranges, nicely handled by the same carbine I take to the barn at night when strange noises happen (along with a .357 or .44 in the pocket).

        The carbine isn’t a rifle and was never intended to be, but it’s a great intermediate tool between a rifle and a handgun — its original intent for tankers & paratroopers.

        • obsidian

          I don’t at my age and location expect firefights at all.
          If I did have one I’d feel just as well armed with an M-1 Carbine as anything else I would have, it’s the man not the weapon, the mind is the weapon the rifle and carbine or handgun is merely the tool.

          • SmokeHillFarm

            Agree. My Dad loved his M1 carbine, as did most of the paratroopers & OSS commandos in the European Theater (I worked with a lot of them in DIA in the 60s & 70s).

            I was issued my first one in ’68 at a Nike missile battalion and loved the thing. It was still standard issue to missile site guards & dog handlers at that time, too.

    • pHIL CUNNINGHAM

      HAVE TO DISAGREE ABOUT THE m-1 AS i HAVE SHOT IT IN THE MILITARY AND AT HOME IT HAS GONE THROUGH 4 WARS OR MORE AND AM SHURE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT OF THE ARMY AIR FORCE OR MARINES IT WSN’T ANY GOOD A LONG TIME AGO PRETTY SURE THE aIR fORCE TOOK IT OUT IN 64 OR 65 AND REPLACED IT WITH THE m16

      • SmokeHillFarm

        I must add one thing here, for the benefit of those on a very limited income. Of course, your first choice in a gun will depend on what you can afford NOW, and that may vary. For me, it would probably be the revolver in .357 mag, and I’d have zero problem with buying a used one from Ruger, Colt or S&W. The next most essential (which will get lots of argument, I’m sure) for me would be a bolt-action rifle in a somewhat deer-capable caliber like .270.

        My next buy would be a high-powered airgun like the RWS Model 34, arguably one of the most reliable accurate ones for the price. It gets around 900 fps in .22 caliber and will obviously take any small game (saving your .22 for later). A decently-placed head or neck shot would certainly stop, and perhaps fatally wound, a human at ranges up to 100-200 feet. The real plus, though, is that it’s close to silent, compared to actual firearms, and the ammo costs almost nothing ($9 for 250 pellets, often cheaper). Needless to say, the shelf life of the “ammo” is nearly forever.

        A high-velocity, quality airgun with good accuracy is around $200, less on sale, and should be in EVERY prepper’s gun cabinet, but for those on a tight budget, getting an airgun even before you opt for the .22 rifle or higher-caliber rifle might be a wise choice for some people if it gets a useful gun to you sooner. Just be sure to stock up on maintenance stuff like barrel oil, cleaning pellets, etc.

        The airgun also has value in that in most places it has no restrictions, or even a record of the sale if you pay cash — always a good thing!

        As I say, every prepper should have one for the long-term SHTF, but it may give some good options to the fixed-income guys who are just starting out.

        Fixed-income preppers should also be looking hard at choices like used revolvers, pump shotguns and bolt-action rifles. You can often save enough there to buy another gun, or a lot of ammo to feed what you have.

    • left coast chuck

      Either a .308 or a .30-06 will take any game in North America using the right ammunition. Using a 200 grain solid you certainly can take a Kodiak brown bear or a moose. If you are in the lower ’48, your chances of encountering a moose, musk ox or Kodiak brown bear are pretty slim and a 180 gr. bullet will take any black bear around. I wouldn’t want to mess with the deer or elk that a .30-06 wouldn’t handle. With the wide variety of ammunition available in .30-06, you are not poorly armed with any rifle in that caliber, although for self-defense, I would prefer a magazine fed semi-automatic. In that vein, .308 will certainly incapacitate any human I have ever met.

    • John D

      For the 223, how about FMJ for practice and hp or sp for hunting medium game? or for serious social situations? We are not limited by the Geneva Conventions.

  19. Tom

    Sorry “contributor”/author, but this article is barely worth the time it takes to read it.
    Bare minimum “survival” weapons take a little bit more thought and a LOT more thought than what was put into this article. There’s a ton of “luxury survival” weapons in this one…
    First, as a bare minimum, everyone should have a shotgun and it should probably be 12 gauge and probably pump-action. Why? 1). 12 gauge shells can be found much more readily than any other gauge and could even possibly be scavenged off of a dead soldier or a dead police officer (Hey, when the “real” SHTF, a dead soldier/cop will be a viable source for MANY different items. Let’s just hope they both are wearing foreign or “U.N.” uniforms). 2). A 12 gauge can be loaded with slugs or shot which makes it viable for taking big game as well as removing guv-mint dependent “zombies” from the picture. 3). Pump action is very reliable and the magazine capacity of even a “field gun” allows for a more diverse use.

    Second, I would recommend a “combat rifle” as this author puts it, but ONLY in the 5.56mm caliber and only ones that take standard AR-15/M-16 magazines. Why? Again, even dead U.N. soldiers will be carrying similar weapons so that magazines and ammunition can be had off of them in a pinch. Also, even though not “ideal”, 5.56mm can easily take deer sized game at reasonable distances. A .308/7.62X51 weapon is ALSO nice and can easily be adapted for longer range zombie killing or the taking of big game, but 7.62mm is not as readily found on the battlefield as it used to be, so unless you want to stockpile a ton of ammo and then transport said “ton” when you need to move positions quickly, a battle rifle in this caliber is not the greatest choice. Oh, and I just LOVE the suggestion for 20 round or more capacity Magazines “ONLY IF THEY ARE LEGAL IN YOUR STATE”! ROTFLMAO! Like “legality” is a consideration when it comes to survival, especially after the SHTF… AK’s/SKS’s, forget them! Yes, excellent battle rifles but when your ammo is gone, then you’ll only have a Russian made club at your disposal…

    Third, handgun for close-defense is not a bad idea, especially for quick scenarios which ma come up when driving a car, etc… But in reality, either of the above weapons can fill the CQB role just as effectively if one is smart enough to never get into a situation where any movement is extremely limited. Besides, handguns leave much to be desired in the “threat stopping” category. Due to SHTF ammo availability, I’d recommend staying with 9mm for the same reasons as my other suggestions above; soldiers/cops will have that caliber on them… Should be worry about the “legality” of high-cap magazines for these too??? LoL…..

    Forth, a .22 rimfire gun (rifle or pistol) is probably a good idea too. 1). a LOT of ammo can be carried in a very small/semi-light weight package. Small game can be a good source for food and .22 is pretty easy to suppress the report of. It also can be used where a more quiet self defense weapon might be necessary/desirable.

    Fifth, a long range rifle? In .338Lapua caliber? Talk about reading too many magazines and never getting behind a rifle to figure out how STUPID this suggestion really is! .338 is hard to find on the internet. When the SHTF, the ONLY source for this ammo will be dead military snipers, and GOOD LUCK with getting ammo off of them! Not only are they trained in extreme-range accuracy, they HIDE themselves very well, so any attempt at them and you will get .338Lapua alright, but you’ll get the PROJECTILES FIRST!
    IF you think your going to become a zombie sniper or if you live out in the plains states where big game will be a LONG way off usually, then a high powered/long range rifle is not a bad idea. .338 Lapua would be stupid as 99.6% of all shooters cannot hit anything besides a Greyhound bus at the capable ranges of this ammo anyway. .308/7.62mm would be the next best choice, again due to possible availability while scavenging. .30-06 would probably be the next best bet… Forget any other calibers, forget any imported rifles with obtuse calibers as that ammo will NEVER be found, anywhere…
    M1 Carbine? LOVE the weapon! Great for CQB and better than a handgun for stopping power, even out to 50-100 yards. But, unless you are going to stockpile all the ammo you are EVER going to need, good luck.

    Author, you need to get out of the house more often….

  20. Ron H

    The Best Survival Guns and Ammo for Your Arsenal — when SHTF ???
    First, in a SHTF situation I want guns in calibers I know I can steal, scrounge, barter, buy, ammo from your house and everyone’s house & that ammo is most likely going to come in common calibers. If I have to make my own ammo I want calibers I would most likely find components for.. No, 338 Lapua isn’t common ! No sense in having a weapon without ammo.
    I also want a limited number of weapons as a complete 56 gun arsenal isn’t easy to transport in a SHTF situation.
    The Combat Rifle – I have been in the military & I understand military rifles BUT I don’t care for Combat rifles under most circumstances. BUT in a SHTF situation my choice would be FN SCAR 16/17 Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington. Almost anyone that has a MSR has 5.56 or 223 ammo I can steal !! And I can fire either in the FN. I don’t currently own a Combat rifle.
    The Shotgun – Any GOOD quality Auto, Pump, or Double Barrel in 12 Ga. – I don’t want the 20 Ga. in a SHTF situation. I can steal more 12 Ga. ammo than 20 Ga. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE 20 Ga. guns and own 3 O/U 20 Ga. guns. Every house has 12 Ga. ammo.. If I were to find 20 Ga. ammo in your house I would most likely find 12 Ga in the same place. I currently own in excess of 17 shotguns and double rifles.
    The Handgun – Wheel guns, Ruger, S&W, Colt – 38 Spec., 357 Mag, , 44 Mag., I currently have 12 GOOD quality wheel guns. Auto’s ANY good quality Auto in – 9mm, 45 ACP – I have 4 Auto’s, and Last resort – 22 RF… I have 3 Ruger 22 auto’s
    Long Range rifle – Calibers will be 30-06, 243 Win, 308 Win.. Bolt guns – Ruger 77, Winchester Model 70, Remington 700, Auto guns -,Browning BAR, Rem 742- I have 2 Ruger 77’s, 1 Win Mod 70, 1 Rem 742, 3 Browning BAR’s , and a couple Sako’s, & a couple Marlin 336’s..
    Rim Fire Rifle – 22 RF, Ruger 10/22, Marlin 60, Henry Lever Gun, Marlin 39 A, Browning BLR, Win 63. I have a Ruger 10/22. Marlin 336, Browning BLR, Win 63
    Surplus Guns – In a SHTF situation I don’t want any surplus guns ! I want GOOD guns in common calibers I can scrounge ammo for and if I have to hand someone a gun to help protect me I want them to have a GOOD gun I can trust with the same ammo I have for my other guns. – see above selection.
    I currently reload for every firearm I own and I cast my own bullets for all my wheel guns & Auto’s.. Got primers ????

    Ron H

    • obsidian

      A simple single round reloading kit with dies and such for each weapon would as you said be ideal.
      You will have time to sit and make bullets and cartridges.
      I doubt you can or will shoot them up faster than you can make them, if you do then you need a Machine gun with a squad of infantry not a survival weapon.

  21. obsidian

    Ya go with what ya got.
    Ya got to go like you are a mouse.
    Slow, quiet and sneaky, look harmless and be invisible.
    Clanking around death lands with an arsenal of battle rifles, glittering rifle scopes and armed with pistols like Josey Wales with a hard on may be good for the soul but will make you a target for every person who wishes a battle rifle just like yours.
    An M-1 Carbine has taken whitetails, killed men, as well as rabbits.
    It’s useable now mostly among Coon and Bobcat hunters.
    Poachers are fond of it. It’s quieter than a large caliber rifle.
    The .223/5.56 x 45 mm is used to take Whitetails also, a good heart shot will drop them often in their tracks as will a head shot.
    Heck I’ve seen whitetails taken down with .22 lr and .410 slugs.
    Ya gotta be a mouse, a tiger gets LEO and Martial Law attention, an Elephant stands out.

  22. John Smart

    As with many experts including Law Enforcement, You are only considering the beginning of the flight of the bullet.
    The latest research has shown that a shotgun with birdshot in it is the most sensible home defense gun for the average shooter. It will kill at 30 feet and yet it will rarely penetrate more than one wall.
    I have seen an ar15 penetrate the offender and lodge in the fourth house over.
    I personally carry a gun according to the situation.
    A large dense crowd, the 40 caliber or the 45ACP will penetrate one person and usually be lying on the floor within 5 ft. of the offender.
    I could talk much more, but the bottom line is that you are responsible for the complete path of the bullet you fire.
    40+ years of service has taught me this lesson. You would be wise to think about the total outcome before you pull the trigger!

  23. Please share sources of guns #1, 3 and 4 for $300 or less. I feel the need for some duplication.

  24. Colby

    “In general, ammo for surplus weapons is cheap and readily available.”???
    Really? I have been trying to find .22 ammo for the last 2 years and have only come across about 600 rounds. Yeah, it’s still relatively cheap, if you can find it.
    Last weekend I went to the counter at the Walmart, like I do every time I go there and asked if they had any .22 ammo, to which they always say “No.”
    This time they said “We had 22 cases this morning, but were sold out now.”

    AAAAHHHHHH!!!!! It was only 2:00 pm.

  25. SF Frank

    there is only one soldier’s rifle that is head and shoulders above the others.
    It will fire in the worst of conditions, is very rugged, easy to maintain, ammo is inexpensive, and as the old soldier saying says – KISS. It is the AK 47.
    Avoid any rifle that is finely machined, has close tolerances as it will jam at the first opportunity. Also weapons that have teeny parts to get lost in the woods, swamp, sand, etc.
    In RVN, SF soldiers would throw away an M16 and grab an AK at the first opportunity.

    • David S.

      Lots of good to great options. I like simple. I have an old Rem. tube fed 22lr that shoots to 100+ yds with iron sights,hits what I aim at,good for small game. Or a bad guy if need be ,holds 16 rnds,Mag.HP,s will mess up your day. A 9mm pistol for up close to 40-50 yds. A Rem 870,for at home to hunting. An AR15 I hand built for close-quarter to 200yds,NOT fancy looking or covered with a bunch of show junk. But my favorite is my Norinco 84s AK47 in 556 with 18″ 1-8 barrel, folding stock and sight base if I choose to use a scope. It WILL shoot to 500 yds with scope and take any abuse you can put it thru and uses common ammo. Which I reload for to my taste.

    • I like the way you think.We might meet in a fox hole someday.Don’t shoot.I’ll be friendly.I just really hope we can turn this thing around before it crosses that line.

    • SmokeHillFarm

      Amen !!!

      Unless you have at least moderate skills in repair & fine adjustment of those tight-tolerance “modern battle rifles,” and have loads of tiny spare parts & tools, I believe you are better off with much simpler, sloppier-made firearms.

      Though I have been playing with guns for almost 60 years, did 21 years in the Army, and sold guns for a couple of decades, I don’t kid myself that I can diagnose & fix broken parts or jamming problems years down the road, or even know what extra parts & tools to keep on hand. Since we all may be dealing with old or scrounged ammo, this may well add to feeding & jamming problems.

      That’s why I stick mostly to revolvers, bolt-action rifles, or pump shotguns (plus a few single-shot & double-barrel shotguns).

  26. Pedro Roy Laigo

    I am planning a self sustainable farm for my family and a few friends. I need help in the for of infos and contacts.

  27. Joe

    I found your article very informative, personally I like a good double barrel
    shotgun, such as the old and no longer produced Fox Sterling worth, this gun
    was made with fluid steel barrels and the workmanship and quality are very
    impressive, I still to this day use mine for bird hunting.
    If you have ever handled a true Fox sterling worth you will agree the distinct
    closing of the receiver is unsurpassed as is the timeless beauty of the gun.
    Rifles, I love the Winchester model 70’s well built with a vast array of calibers. I reload my own ammunition and have worked up loads using the Winchester 70 that would be hard to beat in accuracy.

  28. RAGNAR BENSON

    The best bet, is, military surplus rifles or their clones.
    Stay with the military rifle calibers, 7.62 Nato, US cal.30, 5.56 Nato, 7.62×39, 7.62x54R, 7.92×57, alternates but expensive are 303 Brit and US 30 carbine as stated here. Keep away from any wildcat cartridges.
    TOP OF THE RIFLE LIST FOR ME IS, M14/CLONE, M16A2/CLONE, AK 47/CLONE, M4/CLONE
    In handguns, 45acp, 9mm, 357 mag. These are the staples, found everywhere. Top brands only should be considered, Ruger, Smith, Sig, etc.
    I agree with the post’s list of rifles, however two important rifles were missed, M1 Garand and the k98. Bringing the Galil’s in is questionable, they are expensive and both mags and rifles (not clones) are hard to come by. A good FAL clone would be a better bet and cheaper (keep away from the century junk). Mags are another consideration with these, some are difficult to find. Stay with a metric rifle and mags. DSA is making both rifle and mags.
    In shotguns, 870 is about the best for the money. used ones are cheap. Mossberg 500 and sub groups are good also.
    A side by side is somewhat inadequate for SHTF.
    MY TOP PICK OF SHOTGUUNS ARE 870, 500, MOD 12, AUTO5.

    • Mahatma Muhjesbude

      Not the REAL Ragnar by any chance?

  29. J.P.

    “Shotguns have great accuracy and are easy to shoot, but may not be the best choice for self-defense.”

    Since when and in what bizarro-world scenario? The 12 gauge shotgun has been the de facto ideal self-defense weapon on the planet since its inception.

    If I was stuck with only 1 long gun, I wouldn’t feel the least bit unprepared if it was my Mossberg 8-shot 930 SPX. After all, if it really is a SHTF event, hunting capacity rules and laws will cease to exist or be enforced.

    Rather than an extreme long-distance rifle for distances I would never shoot, I prefer my .45-70 that will reach out and touch anything at the distances I would; and it’s the perfect camp rifle for even the biggest critters when they would inevitably start adding human beings to their regular diet.

    And I’ve got the rest covered. Miculek cut this list in half; said he could accomplish anything he ever wanted to with a gun with a 12 gauge shotgun, a .22 rifle, and a .357 revolver.

    • Mahatma Muhjesbude

      There’s one caveat with citing Miculek. He happens to be a world class expert with those weapons. I’m sure he could do as well with several other ‘combinations’ of weapons also. But The average cop can’t even fire the standard 870 for instance, with any formidable effectiveness against someone with an AK who had some experience with it and at least knows how to lay down the firepower. Even skeet shooters aren’t much better, especially with fast reloading, so what’s the point of mentioning guys like Miculek when we are talking about everybody else and their weapons?

      With my light weight one hand shooting capability AR carbine and drop free mags i can out shoot most people with a pistol at pistol ranges and better.

      I could certainly out shoot most people using a 7 shot 12 guage with my sixty round .223 mags.

      And don’t even make me laugh with your .22 rifle, doing anything ‘better’ than a .223 AR, even in expert hands. Of course if ammo ever became dirt cheap again, you can always get one of those nice pop on uppers in .22LR.

      While Miculek is far better than my modest skill by comparison. I could still outshoot his ‘choices’ in any capacity, compared to just about everyone else including putting 7 or 8 70 grain expanding bullets in that man eating camp Bear’s head in around one second before i emptied the rest of the 20 plus rounds in him as he went down. And then have another mag l&l’ed before i even take the bead off the target–in case he had any ‘friends’ hiding behind any other trees,lol!

      Choices do make a big difference in reality especially if you practice to suitable performance levels, but none if you don’t practice at all.

      If you ask him again, what he would choose in a shtf catastrophe if he COULD ONLY HAVE ONE FIREARM, wanna bet which one he’d choose?

      And while you’re right, the Shotgun was always traditionally the number one ‘self defense’ weapon back in the day. that is until the AR-15 carbine arrived. And of course that’s why more LEO agencies are dropping the old outdated for modern CQB compared to Ar carbines. And even .40 pistol/carbines.

  30. Nolan

    Finally, a list that I agree with. My only addition might be an air rifle that shoots .177 pellets, or larger. Silent hunting. In a survival condition, if hungry zombies hear a shot, they will immediately head for the location. A shot equals food to them…

    • SmokeHillFarm

      Airguns, as I’ve often posted, should be standard for preppers because of cheap ammo, mostly silent, and infinite shelf life of the ammo. Though I do have a couple of so-so airguns in .177 caliber (the usual size), my “real” one is an RWS Model 34, which has amazing accuracy & is a legend in the airgun community. I’ve murdered uncountable trash birds (crows, etc), possum, skunk, groundhog, fox etc for 25 yrs on the farm, using many thousands of pellets, and never had one probem with it. Not a bad deal for the current price of $200, often less on sale.

      I would DEFINITELY get it in .22 caliber, though. It comes out a bit slower, but the heavier pellet gives better penetration, which could be important if you’re shooting at a human predator.

  31. Wolf Champlin

    I myself look at ammo ,what I mean is the availablilty of ammo within different areas around the country. Like 9mm,shotgun shells,and 223-5.56 ammo oh and 22 shells. After the shtf day one will be able to trade for this ammo since there is a huge amount of this type of ammo for trade. Like for whiskey salt rice or oatmeal water and other supplies, well that’s the plan anyway

    • David S.

      Ammo is important,I live in Texas so ammo isn’t too hard to find. 12ga is plentiful,22lr does come around,and I reload 9mm,556 and 308 for my brothers and myself. Getting a box or 2 of 22 when available,and No I don’t empty the shelve like some do. Every body deserves to get some when available. I’ve stored several K of all these in sealed containers in small lots in different locations on several routes,along with supplies. Lots of eggs in different baskets. Survival is the plan,And having more then one plan is the key to any problem.

    • John D

      With Fearless Leader’s economic sanctions against Russia, Russian guns and ammo are really drying up. Luckily, there are other sources for both. But you will pay a premium. Again, with 7.62×39, you are not limited to FMJ. Hunting SP and HP are out there, and pretty effective

    • SmokeHillFarm

      Well, theoretically you may be able to trade for it, but I suspect few people will be trading any ammo. My inclination is to hold onto any ammo even if I can’t use it myself, just so it won’t eventually be used against me. I figure there is much better trade goods to stock anyhow, like Bic lighters, little baggies of HTH to purify water, or toilet paper, or salt. Booze would be good, too, just too expensive to stock (like cigarettes).

      • SmokeHillFarm

        I suspect that most ammo will only be traded for OTHER ammo — like if someone scrounges up a box or two of 20-gauge shells but has only a 12-gauge. They’d certainly be willing to trade someone else who had 12-gauge ammunition. That’s the one case where I might trade ammo.

        • left coast chuck

          I have food. You don’t. I have weapons and ammo. You have weapons and more ammo than I do. Are you willing to trade ammo for food? Remember, you kids asked you when they were going to get something to eat when you left your soddy* this morning. I think you would trade ammo for food and/or water in that situation.

          *soddy: a dwelling made of cut sod. In common usage on the plains in the early days of the pioneers. Sometimes built into a hill to make them larger.

          • SmokeHillFarm

            I am less worried about food than anything else I stockpile. I’ve been stockpiling for years and we could probably survive for 9 or 10 years without fishing the bass & bluegill from our farm pond or shooting the deer & rabbits that hang out here. By that time, the heritage-type seeds should have sprouted anyhow ….

            Would I trade ammo for food if I needed to? Of course, but my priority after firearms & ammo was purifying available water (pond or well) with HTH, and making food a non-problem. No system is perfect, but we do the best we can. My basic point is that ammo is pretty much a last-resort to trade off, which is one of the reasons I want to keep a LOT of acceptable trade goods like Bic lighters, aspirin, & Zippo flints. I actually keep a couple of guns I don’t even like, just in case someone wants to trade .25, .32 or 9mm ammo. Eventually I hope to include a couple of other solid people into my defensive plan, since two people is not ideal for defending one brick farmhouse (though the big dogs will help a lot). And for others joining us, any gun or ammo will be helpful. Better it’s in my gun locker than being packed around by some ghetto mutts.

          • Mahatma Muhjesbude

            Most people will trade all their gold or silver for one bag of Ramen noodles if they run out of food and are hungry. And most of their ammo for the last beer known to be alive!

            Do NOT forget one of the top five survival commodities. MOONSHINE! It’s a better antiseptic than rubbing alcohol and if you mix a little with bleach it will kill virtually any germ. It’s good lamp fuel, And you can (sadly) use it your vehicle engine in an emergency–but it better be a good emergency, lol, to use it for anything other than it’s most valuable appreciation, drinking! And of course a very hot trading commodity. But be careful, there are more than you think out there who wouldn’t think twice about wasting precious ammo to get a bottle of ‘everclear’, one way or the other.

  32. Cat

    What about a 410?

    • left coast chuck

      In my opinion only, a .410 is a waste of money. The ammo is not as widely available as 12 or 20 ga. The .410 is only good for very small game, rabbits, squirrels, doves, sparrows, perhaps crows, but only at very close range. The .45 long colt that some .410 handguns can fire is a good man stopper and will take larger animals at close range. I suspect you wouldn’t want to fire a hot-loaded .45 LC in one of the combo guns more than once and then after that your flinch would preclude accuracy. There has been some discussion about a .410 slug out of a shotgun as being adequate for deer but why screw around with what is possible when you know that a 12 ga slug will take out any game in North America and is cheaper than .410 and more available? If all you have is a .410. it is better than a pointy stick, but look for a 12 ga. You can buy reduced recoil rounds for the 12 ga. is you are really recoil adverse or you can use padding on your shoulder or you can drill a hole in the buttstock and insert shot into the buttstock to reduce recoil.

    • SmokeHillFarm

      I’ve stocked a dozen boxes of .410 only because I have an ancient, but solid, .410 of my grandfather’s. It’s so old it has no serial number.

      For close range defense the .410 is useful, and it may be a good choice for small people or children in your SHTF family. whether game loads or slugs are better … depends on the capability of the user.

      Certainly the least useful of the shotgun calibers, and the sooner you upgrade to 12-g the better.

    • Mahatma Muhjesbude

      Nah, waste of money.

  33. I have not heard anyone talk about the Saiga version2 .308.This gun is built like an AK-47.You can throw this thing in the mud ,underwater,in the sand and load with match grade ammo or the cheapest ammo and this gun will fire 98% of the time. I’ve done it.I’ve seen it done and knock down power at 100-200yds is scary.I would put it up against most M-1 or AR. The shot gun is good choice along with a.22 ankle gun.Springfield Armory is putting out some very reliable handguns in a variety of sizes and calibers. I like the XDM ,XDS 9mm. with the right defensive ammo or not don’t forget that it will put down most things in its path.That ammo is very common and easy to steal,borrow,or what ever you want to call it when SHTF.What do you think?

  34. Bill

    How long does a comment have to wait for moderation ?

  35. glenbo

    One of the best sources of info that would help this discussion is Jeff Cooper’s book, The Art of The Rifle. Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper was the foremost small arms expert of his time and the founder of the Scout Rifle concept. Art of the Rifle is a short book, full of info, and easily read. I was amazed at what game he took with only a 30-06. He advocates a short, light, bolt action rifle in 308 or 30-06 for anything you need, and he’s right. Either can take anything from rabbits and squirrels to anything you will find in North America’s contiguous 48 states. I got the book on Amazon for my Kindle for around $10.

  36. A really good rifle to get is an argintene mauser 95. All were built before 1899 so they are fed gun laws exempt, same as an antique lamp. They are 7×57 mauser which is about on par with a 308 winchester and they are really well made and cheap. Another is a 6.5 carcano. go ahead and laugh, then shoot one. about 100 bucks and they were factory sighted for 300 meters. pretty flat all the way there. check the date but lots were made before 1899 and last saw service in Libian civil war last year.

  37. Pingback: Choosing the Best Guns and Ammo | Survival Life | Blog – Survival Life | Preppers | Survival Gear | Blog | Wilderness and Survival

  38. Joe

    Some chooses were left out. First is handguns calibered in .40 S&W. I have owned or now own all the handgun calibers listed but like .40 the best. A .45 has great knockdown power but limited magazine capacity and can kick like a mule. Not a great choose for a small person or someone that cannot stand the recoil. 9mm is a great caliber with very good magazine capacity but it is an open field caliber developed by the military for combat that usually happens over a long distance. A 9mm bullet is very high velocity and has great penetration but can easily over penetrate in a close quarters combat situation like inside of a home. I have seen a 9mm round penetrate a interior wall going through 2 pieces of 1/2″ drywall and a 2 x4 stud diagonally and hit a child on the opposite of the wall killing them. The new defense rounds have solved some of this issue and it is easier to handle because of the lower recoil but still has to be used with caution in close quarters. I shot the 9mm for years until a bought a .40 S&W on a whim, I quickly fell in love with it. 12 round magazine, 180 grain bullet, recoil between the 9mm and the .45 without as much of the over penetration issues. The .40 is often used by special operation units for its greater stopping power than a 9mm and lower recoil compared to the .45.

    Another chose left out was the AR 10, the father of the AR 15. Gene Stoner first developed the AR platform in 7.62 x 51 mm to replace the M1 Garrand and M14. An Air Force general liked the gun but wanted a smaller caliber so it was resized to 5.56 x 45 mm. It is both my combat rifle and my long range(600 meter)rifle. 7.62 x 51 mm can be effective out to 800 meters and can easily take down a deer, a feral pig and some other large game. It can also “drill” through a car windshield and other barriers. Most but not all accessories for the AR 15 will fit an AR 10. I own both and can switch some parts and accessories between them. After buying the AR 10 and loving it, I decided to aquire an AR 15 because it was lighter and was easier for my wife and kids to shoot because of the lower recoil. This is my 300 meter gun. One of the most popular rifles used by snipers is the SR 25, a high end AR 10 chambered in 7.62 and other calibers.

    Lastly, surplus rifles are great but you must check their condition or purchase from a trustworthy dealer and some of the ammuniation that they are chamber in can be hard to find. Especially when ammo becomes scarce. Be sure to check the availability of the required ammo before buying.

  39. Dan

    OK first of all most of the Gu a on this list are over $300. Second of all I have a mosin-naganta and it’s accurate to 800 yards with sites that cone on the rifle and it’s extremely cheap. Therefore this gun should be 2nd or 3rd behind a semi auto pistol which is a necessity not a revolver where your limited to 5 or 6 shots. If shtf would you rather have 5 or 6 shots or 10-17 rounds ready to roll? 2nd or 3rd would be shotgun or mosin-nagant because they can be had for cheap and are very reliable. And last but not least .22lr is scarce these days however a .22lr is deadly at 100 yards with a head shot. So the real answer to what’s the best gun? The one you have with ammo for.

  40. Mahatma Muhjesbude

    I thought we went through all this on another forum and everybody ‘should’ know better by now, but by some of these comments here, it looks like too many of us are still in the stone ages.

    I’m one of those guys somebody down here cited as needing certain experience to qualify in commenting sanely about ‘best’ choices for weapons. Add in everything besides his criteria in terms of training credential and actual combat and police experience, not to mention owning and/or firing just about anything that ever shot bullets at one time or another in over 40 years of vocation and avocation, i feel compelled to throw in my ‘3 cents’ worth just keep the urban legends from once again getting out of control and killing more people from stupidity than ever before.

    Bottom line on shtf all around weapon is without question anymore…the AR-15 carbine in 5.56/.223. PERIOD. When you consider ALL the considerations including the all important price factor these days there is no better universal weapon. Otherwise the military would still be using Enfields and Winchester lever actions, now wouldn’t they? Especially with bulk ammo getting down to around the cost of .22 long rifle prices–if you can even find good .22 LR ammo?. AR’s are also cheaper now than they’ll ever be so for only a couple hundred more than you’d pay for your tricked out shotgun or bolt action you get the number one military individual combat weapon in the world. But i know that still just doesn’t make sense to most of what i’m reading here. If you simply cannot afford anything new at the moment, then sell all your other useless–by comparison–shit and get at least one AR platform.

    All you guys with your bolt actions and SKS’s will wind up be either dead in a real hot CQB situation or at a serious disadvantage going in. Here’s the reality logic:

    1. Just like the old .45 v. 9mm debate, There’s nothing a shotgun or bolt action or any other rifle can do better than an AR-15 platform in .223 out to 400 menters except be heavier and get you killed easier due to lack of combat utility. Having said that, the No.2 rule of combat is:

    2. The best gun to have when shit is happening is the one you happen to be holding. Which should foster the concept that:

    3. You can shoot only one gun at a time. (well, most of us, that is,lol) Which supports the notion if if you only had ONE, which one would be best for you, which brings up the next tenet:

    3. Whatever you use make sure you’re good with it. Just because you have a better weapon, doesn’t mean you can shoot and handle it well enough to rise to its full potential advantage. I could out shoot and rabidly take out the average AR-15 owner with just a 30-30 lever action carbine in a typical heavily wooded forest situation or Urban house to house CQB scenario with ranges of under 200 meters and closer to 100m.

    On the other hand an average well practiced sharpshooting 30-30 shooter/hunter doesn’t have much of a chance at all against me in a one on one running firefight with a good CQB AR carbine and tactical optics and higher mag capacities because i have more hours in real time experience, tactical competition and practice, and instruction training, than most people have hours spent watching TV. Besides the fact of extensive combat tactical training and actual combat experience.

    It all boils down to the difference between Armchair warriors, and those who actually practice what they preach.

    And I do agree with one of the comments here that in a general bad social situation where you can’t trust anybody or any ‘social’ situations outside of the security of your own retreat, you should have your AR close, but your Glock closer, as the mob used to say about ‘friends and enemies’, lol! You must always carry a ‘handgun’ for those quick surprise ‘close encounteers’. It must be of higher capacity superior firepower for one and one reason only despite the ‘other’ rationales which are never valid in a reality gunfight.

    That is the sole purpose of your pistol is to gain you ‘suppressive’ response time to a surprise encounter which allows you to fall back and get your AR if you still are ‘engaged’. If you happened to be good enough to take out the threat in the initial ‘blast off’, all the better. But if you’re a student of the truth, you all know the proverb. ‘Never bring a knife to a gunfight, never bring a pistol to an assault weapon fight and so on.

    Again, the Glock is universally accepted as unsurpassed in overall utility, performance, as the all time ‘best bang’ for the buck. Whatever peculiar idiosyncratic trait doesn’t agree with your style of shooting can usually be eliminated by aftermarket customizing. The .40 Glock 22 is what you’ll find most LEO’s and special operators carrying for the reasons cited here and for other reasons, mainly no external manually configured safety. One less thing to do when you are committed to draw and concentrate on firing is one more–sometimes tremendous-advantage even if you’re an experienced cop but just a little ‘off guard’ at the moment.

    It can readily be converted into a tactical ‘carbine’ just check the ATF rules on those drop in carbine stocks. I’m ‘exempt’ so i’m not up on what civilians can or cannot have. I think you can buy them legally, but they can’t be anywhere in the same continent, then, as your pistol, lol!.

    The Glock 22 is also the most versatile of pistols. Besides the numerous after market accessories and mags, it easily converts to three different cartridges just with the barrel change! .357 sig, 9mm, and .40. The mags are the same size. And there’s new .40 ammo out there now that has terminal ballistics rivaling a .44 mag, if you really wanna be a man, lol! Oh, and those conversion .22LR conversions for it are out there. But as it is, standard .40 ammo us as common as 9mm and about the same price in bulk.

    But just for conversations sake, i always considered the MAC 10 weapons with the short folding stocks as the best all around professional carry weapon in CGB as long as you carried a lot of mags. You can actually carry it concealed in a reasonably quick retrieve holster with a shorter 20 round mag, In a civilian semi-auto mode, you can also do an accurate reasonably effective shot on game up to deer under a hundred meters with the shoulder stock out and proper ammo.

    For some of you i know this is cognitively dissonant and depresses your emotional firearm content but i hope some of you consider this tried and true state of the art evaluation…

    …before it’s too late and you find out the truth the hard way.

  41. David Thew

    I like my GP 100 .357 Magnum. Friends say things to me such as, “Yeah, but my gun has 15 shots.” I reply, “Yeah, but I don’t miss.” On a side note, I also only need one bullet to seriously ruin somebody’s day, even if I shoot to wound (which is unlikely; if I pull my gun, it’s with the intent to kill). I alternate my bullets. My 1st bullet is a flat-nosed, 158 grain, .357. 2nd is a hollow point, 130 grain, .38 (I like Winchester Bonded PDX1). 3rd is a hollow point, 125 grain, .357 (I like Hornady Critical Defense FTX). Yes, the holliw points are expensive, but as I mentioned before, it will only take one shot. Plus, my GP 100 is dead on accurate. I live in an open carry state, so I wear it most wherever I go. Seldom do I have a problem with people (although they (liberal morons) sometimes ask me stupid questions about why I carry) and the police, here in Vegas, have never, ever, hassled me. I am clean cut, responsible and 100% legal. De oppresso liber.

  42. SmokeHillFarm

    I must add one thing here, for the benefit of those on a very limited income. Of course, your first choice in a gun will depend on what you can afford NOW, and that may vary. For me, it would probably be the revolver in .357 mag, and I’d have zero problem with buying a used one from Ruger, Colt or S&W. The next most essential (which will get lots of argument, I’m sure) for me would be a bolt-action rifle in a somewhat deer-capable caliber like .270.

    My next buy would be a high-powered airgun like the RWS Model 34, arguably one of the most reliable accurate ones for the price. It gets around 900 fps in .22 caliber and will obviously take any small game (saving your .22 for later). A decently-placed head or neck shot would certainly stop, and perhaps fatally wound, a human at ranges up to 100-200 feet. The real plus, though, is that it’s close to silent, compared to actual firearms, and the ammo costs almost nothing ($9 for 250 pellets, often cheaper). Needless to say, the shelf life of the “ammo” is nearly forever.

    A high-velocity, quality airgun with good accuracy is around $200, less on sale, and should be in EVERY prepper’s gun cabinet, but for those on a tight budget, getting an airgun even before you opt for the .22 rifle or higher-caliber rifle might be a wise choice for some people if it gets a useful gun to you sooner. Just be sure to stock up on maintenance stuff like barrel oil, cleaning pellets, etc.

    The airgun also has value in that in most places it has no restrictions, or even a record of the sale if you pay cash — always a good thing!

    As I say, every prepper should have one for the long-term SHTF, but it may give some good options to the fixed-income guys who are just starting out.

    Fixed-income preppers should also be looking hard at choices like used revolvers, pump shotguns and bolt-action rifles. You can often save enough there to buy another gun, or a lot of ammo to feed what you have.

  43. James

    From these comments, got to figure out how to feed guns long term. What will the budget allow? What are you planning for? First priority is saving empties for reloading if weapon is bigger than .22 rimfire. Can you afford to lose empties fired from any big semi-auto over the long term? If not,take a serious look at reloading equipment to reload saved empties. For those “on the go”, take a good look at Lee Hand Press with Breech Lock feature. Will take almost any brand of reloading dies, with quick insertion and release. Totally portable, no reloading bench needed. Quiet. No hammering noise like original Lee Loader. Figure on 1000 primers a month, 4 to 8 lb container of gunpowder,and supply of bullets to reload empty cases. A reasonable stock of supplies. If you need more, you can get more. At present, .22 rimfire is having serious distribution problems due to too many people “stocking up”. But plenty of primers. Gunpowder is still having supply problems, but it can be found with extra effort.

  44. James

    Got to figure out what you are planning for. If dealing with people in motor vehicles, .357 Magnum or .357 SIG are preferred over 9MM Luger cartridge. The .40 S&W and .45ACP can also be used. But may not give quite as much needed vehicle penetration. Most center-fire rifles are useful in this area. Shotgun can be used with rifled slugs within range, usually about 75 yards maximum.

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