This post is part of a week long cross blog celebration of national preparedness month where we, as blog owners and preppers, answer five interesting and pertinent questions–one per day–and request that you, the reader, provide your own answers as well in the comments section below. Equally important, we request that you visit the other awesome participating blogs as well in order to get to better know the blog owners and their sites. The other participating sites are mostly sites that I highly recommend you visit anyway and include: ApartmentPrepper.com, DoomAndBloom.net, IfItHitsTheFan.com, ModernSurvivalOnline.com, SeasonedCitizenPrepper.com, and The Retreat. Please choose to visit these other sites and give feedback. Thank you.
Now that’s a “loaded” question (pun intended)! Before I answer, I should point out that I did not grow up with firearms in my life until recently, I didn’t serve in the military, and I don’t hunt. In fact, I may not be a great resource for firearms advice but for those of you who are in a similar situation you may be interested in my train of thought.
Although I do own a few firearms I never considered them for anything other than personal defense or “just for fun” such as with my little .22 rifle. In a long term survival situation, however, firearms may be among the most important pieces of equipment any person, family, or group could own. Certainly, they have a place for self defense, to provide food on the table, and even for critter control. They are the great equalizer among men and, besides a larger brain and opposable thumbs, what makes man superior to beasts.
When I think about this answer, I come at it with (1) cost in mind and (2) and general lack of enthusiasm for firearms. I’m not a gun collector and I don’t subscribe to Guns & Ammo magazie but I know people who are and do. That said, I merely see firearms as tools with multiple uses and nothing more. Considering this and with the expectation that I’m not trying to arm the entire neighborhood (just my family) then I quickly realize I don’t need many dozens of firearms. In fact, I probably only need several at most. Here’s what I suggest:
If I had to start anywhere I would start with a simple shotgun. In fact, some people would suggest that a shotgun would be among the most versatile weapon to own and are obviously great for home defense. Many shotguns can be fitted with different barrels depending on their intended use and can even use adapters that allow for firing different caliber bullets.
The most touted shotguns include the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870, both of which are less than $400 new and can be found for significantly less if you look. Shotguns can be found for a LOT less than that if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of name prestige (and maybe some functionality as well) such as with the Mossberg Maverick 88, which can be had for easily less than $200. I would suggest one shotgun per family member capable of handling them.
Again, considering personal defense to be the most important aspect of any long term scenario, it’s hard to beat a handgun. I know, I know, with respect to stopping power handungs don’t stand up to shotguns and certainly not rifles. But, that’s not why handguns are important to your survival: the most important aspect to owning a handgun is because of the simple fact that it’s the one firearm that a person can and WILL keep on their person at all times. Think about it.
How long would you be willing to carry around a shotgun or rifle? Hours, days, weeks… even with a sling? Probably not that long. As we preppers like to say “you’re only as prepared as what you actually have on you!”
I’m not going to bother with recommendations as there are so many options and opinions on the subject. Just keep in mind the effective stopping power of various rounds and especially the availability of ammunition in a long term scenario. I would consider no less than one reliable handgun for each adult.
Although I do not yet own one, another firearm to have for long term survival would be the simple bolt action rifle. Choose any popular rifle such as the Remington Model 700 or Winchester Model 70 (or any of a dozen others) and you really can’t go wrong. Each rifle can be picked up for several hundred dollars or less. One or two such rifles per family should serve you quite well for years to come.
I would also encourage you to have one or two rimfire rifles, such as the Henry AR-7 or Marline Model 60 both of which can be had for a few hundred dollars at most. They shoot the least expensive round out there (.22lr), can be used for critter control (may become very necessary), and are perfect for general target practice and keeping up with your skills. They’re also the firearm of choice when introducing youngsters and newbies to the craft.
It might also be prudent to get an inexpensive .22 handgun for “field work” as they like to say.
Battle rifles, such as the AR-15, are something else to consider but I do not own one of these either in large part because they are so expensive. Besides that, I shutter to think of the situation I would need to be in to use one. I assume that if I had military experience then these firearms would be “old hat” but they’re foreign entities to me and probably will be for some time.
If you’re relatively new to firearms, like me, then don’t feel like you need to cash in your 401K to buy an arsenal. Inexpensive firearms can be had that won’t break the bank. The shotgun, handgun, and rimfire rifle can each be had for less than $200 new if you don’t feel the need to buy the most popular options out there.
Of course, there’s more to the question than just the firearm alone. You need to consider ammunition, which can get expensive quick especially when stocking up for SHTF. And, I should point out that there are range time and fees to consider, training courses, as well as an assortment of accessories (scopes, straps, mag extensions, etc) that will definitely add to the initial cost.
My advice: just start somewhere. It doesn’t really matter where. Maybe a cheap shotgun to start with. Take it to the range and see what you think. Move on to a handguns and then rifles, or whatever makes sense to you.