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What Firearms Do You Feel Are Most Important for Long Term Survival and Why?

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.comDoomAndBloom.netIfItHitsTheFan.comModernSurvivalOnline.comSeasonedCitizenPrepper.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.

16 comments to What Firearms Do You Feel Are Most Important for Long Term Survival and Why?

  • Larry

    I suggest having rifle & handguns in the same caliber. Also learn to cut your shotgun ammo, so that you can make a slug. I have seen it done. Does alot of damage to the target.

  • I agree with the shotgun, it’s currently my faverate firearm. I really like the ablity to use less leathal rounds with it. You can’t go around shooting everyone in the SHTF, some of them might just need to be “moved along”.

    • I like that idea too but I’m pretty sure if I’m going to be shooting at someone then I’m going to mean it.

    • Wm

      Disabuse yourself of any ideas related to the use of “less Lethal” rounds.

      You will only get yourself into a situation where you may well either be killed by an adversary unconcerned about such subtleties or find yourself in prison for use of a deadly weapon in a confrontation that by your own actions and munition selection (the less than lethal round) did not justify a potentially lethal response..

      It is a loser for anyone but Peace Officers.

      In a true SHTF situation you have larger things to concern yourself with.. Such as your own survival and that of your loved ones.

  • Farther

    1)A handgun that you will carry at all times in one of the “Big 3″ calibers: .45, .40 or .357 magnum – for those “up close and personal” moments.
    2)Accurate long-range rifle in .308 or 30-06 – to pick off long-range threats.
    3)Semi-auto rifle in .223 or .308 – for those times when “crowd control” is important.
    4)The biggest gauge shotgun you can shoot well. That said, stick with either 20 or 12 gauge as they are the most common.
    5)A good, reliable .22 rifle (and a handgun in that caliber, too). It uses the cheapest ammo and will probably see the most use for pest control, meal acquisition and discouraging hungry transients.

    These aren’t listed in any particular order except that that’s the order I thought of them in.

    I recommend regular iron sights (and being proficient with them) and scopes for all of the rifles. Eventually, the scopes may (probably will) fail. Having the iron sights (already sighted in for the median distance you will most likely use that rifle for) will prevent nasty surprises and wasted ammo during “aggressive negotiations.”

    There are several manufacturers that offer lever-action carbines in popular handgun calibers. Once you have all of the above, you may want to consider one of these. Some of the pro’s are: more power from a given cartridge than a handgun delivers. Only having to carry one type of cartridge. Smaller and lighter than most rifles.

    Some of the con’s are: less power than a rifle cartridge (of a similar caliber) can deliver. Shorter barrel means less accuracy. Shorter range than a rifle.

    These small carbines are sort of a cross-over between a full-size rifle and a handgun. They are a compromise. That being said, they definitely (IMHO) have a place in the survival battery. Smaller means that you’re more likely to grab it on the way out the door. You’re only as prepared as what you have on you…

    • I’m always a huge believe of buy and use what works for you and your situation. The beauty of firearms is that there are so many choices out there anyone can find something to fit their needs.

  • T.R.

    Not going there , this is the endless debate without any resolution . just sayin .

  • Irish-7

    I answered the same question on ModernSurvivalOnline this morning. I will copy and paste it below. I am not a hunter. I am not opposed to hunting, I just was not raised with guns because my father did not hunt (or fish). I am a military veteran, though. I was in the Army for over 30 years, primarily the Combat Arms: Airborne & Mechanized Infantry, Armored Cavalry Scout, plus a few years as a Military Policeman. I am very familiar with the weapons that we used M16/M4 family of assault rifles, M1911A1 Cal.45 & M9 9mm pisotls, etc. Here is my response to Rourke:

    I concur with all your points, Rourke. At a glance, it almost appears that I wrote those words myself. A battery of weapons is recommended. Each individual’s situation will dictate what works best. Folks living in urban areas, who plan on “Bugging Out” to a safer place in the country, may want firearms designed for combat (assault rifle, semi-auto shotguns, automatic pistols, etc). A family defending a farm in a rural area, may get away with a bolt action hunting rifle and a pump shotgun. I would advise new preppers to pick up the following weapons in this order:
    1) Shotgun (12 or 20 gauge, whatever is easier to handle), plus #00/3BK, slugs, #4 or #6 shot.
    2) .22 Long Rifle – Ruger 10/22 with high capacity (BX-25) magazines and a brick (500+) rounds of ammo.
    3) Handgun – .45 Auto (urban), .357 Mag/.38 Spl (rural). May consider a revolver that fires .45LC & .410GA.
    4) Assault rifle – Mini-14 or M4/AR15 or clone in .223 Rem / 5.56mm NATO.
    5) Bolt or lever action in .308, 30-06, 30-30. Might want to match calibers with handgun. For example, if you have a .357/.38 pistol, buying a lever or bolt action .357/.38. If you have a Governor or Judge revolver, getting a rifle/shotgun that shoots .45LC & .410GA will save on the types of ammo you stock. You won’t have the same range as .308/30-06/30-30, though.

    Of course, the best weapon system is the one on hand. Any gun is better than no gun. If you already own firearms, and have no money or intention to obtain any more, I would definitely buy ammo now. I have a bad feeling we are on the cusp of some sweeping changes with respect to purchasing ammunition, especially over the internet. One last note, I would stick with common calibers: .22LR, .380, 9mm, .357, .38, .40, .44 & .45 in handguns, .22LR, .223, .308, 30-06, 30-30 for rifles and .410, .20 & .12 gauges in shotguns. There are millions of rounds already in circulation. Owning a weapon in an odd or not so common caliber may prove to be a challenge to find ammo for during a disaster/crisis situation.

  • jean

    A good. 22 caliber rifle with a scope can take down 90% of the game you need even a moose with the right shot as you can carry thousands of rounds easily with a handgun as a backup is all you need

    • Shot placement always seem to be key but I’m still not sure I would rely on a .22 only, though, I do agree that they have a key role in long term situations.

  • Linda n Texas

    Guns…guns.. and ammo…ammo…ammo…ammo… But also learn to reload and even to cast bullets, and a big supply of Powder and Primers. Powder and primers are relatively cheap , so a large supply of those that are appropriate to your guns are extremely important. The most costly component of ammo is the bullet (actual projectile), but with bullet casting, they can be nearly free with a bit of scrounging for lead. Prepare now for your likely future.

  • Hammer

    I can’t argue with most of those suggestions but I would certainly place more emphasis on battle rifles if it were me.