SHTF Survival Guns
posted Monday February 21st, 2011 - 1115 hours (written 08-15-10)
What's your favorite....9mm or 44 magnum.....223 or 300 Win Mag, 22 long rifle or 12 gauge?
SHTF Survival Guns
Although there are a lot of "If, What, Then's" about selecting survival guns.....I want to discuss primarily those guns which are suitable for personal carry. But first, let's discuss briefly the term "SHTF" and "Survival". For some, there is no difference, for others it makes a big difference.
First, why do you need a gun? Having a gun means you think there may be a reason to shoot something. If I were in the wilderness and needed the ability to reach out and shoot food to survive another day, I may select a 22 rifle, or a 22 pistol. If I were to only select a 22 pistol type, I may select a revolver, perhaps a single action type with interchangeable cylinders, a 22 LR cylinder for small game, and a 22 mag cylinder for medium size game. In a highly populated game woods, this combination would cover everything from chipmunks to small deer. In the desert country this might get you some limited reptiles up to maybe jack rabbits and if you are the really lucky type, a coyote!
If we take the survival a little further and combine it with when the sh!t hits the fan (SHTF), your primary reason for carrying a firearm to survive another day, may be more focused on self-defense from others, rather than obtaining wild animals for food. If this is the case, the smart shopper may want to op for something with a little more punch. This would commonly be a 9mm, 40, or 45 auto or perhaps a 357 magnum revolver. These are the common types we most often carry concealed for defense against criminals on the street, and I think this is what is inferred when we think of the SHTF scenarios.
We may also want to consider something even more robust than a handgun and select some type of long gun to carry such as a carbine, rifle or shotgun. Most often what comes to mind is an AR-15/AK-47, high power center-fire scoped hunting rifle, or 12 gauge auto or pump shotgun.
There is an argument for carrying the same wilderness survival tools regardless of the reason for survival. There are those who feel the best survival gun is light weight, capable of taking small game and self defense, while using ammunition that is small, light, and easy to carry a bunch.......the 22 long rifle, fits this bill, and would be the choice for many survivalist in most of the countryside. It will allow you to carry a lot more other needed items for survival, but still work great on small game for food (including urban pets and wild game), and also is capable of defending against 2 legged foe with limitations. The 22 long rifle is relatively quiet and you can carry a bunch of them little rimfires bullets in your shirt pocket.
For most folks however, I think the "SHTF" infers the reason for needing a gun is in self-defense against our own breed, the marauding bandits who want to take away from you, what is yours......up to and including your life!!! So, you may need to kill some wild (or tame) game/pets to survive another day, but protecting your life and the life of your loved ones and/or companions, may be the primary purpose of carrying a heater during times of survival in the event society has a break down and everything, at least for a short period of time, goes berserk!!!
It seems to me in the SHTF Survival mode, we first consider self-protection against others of our kind and then a means to an end of collecting feed. Although your favorite game gun can be used to protect you (and it has in many incidents), I think we can all agree, the firearm most appropriate for self-protection will work better at protecting us and also double pretty well for taking some wild game if need be to collect that evening meal. What I'm saying is, I think I would rather have a 9mm Glock to fight my way out of a tight situation with a gang of bandits and survive to head shoot a rabbit for lunch, rather than face off both marauders and rabbits with a 22 pistol.
As for the selection of handgun to use for self-protection, I think many readers here, already have made a fine choice. What do you carry concealed while running around town? A Glock, Sig, Kimber, or maybe an XD? In 9mm, 40, or 45 caliber? These are all reasonable and capable choices for the job of self-defense using a handgun. Having already made that choice, the way you carry your handgun and what else you carry for it, may not be well thought out for the purpose of when the SHTF. But before we discuss what you carry to support your selected handgun, lets discuss what other gun you should consider carrying.
We should realize the popularity of carrying a handgun for self-defense is based on convenience, not capability. Not only is a 22 rimfire a woefully inadequate firearm for protecting your life.......so are any the handguns ever made!! Any reliable repeating center-fire long gun beats any handgun as a defensive firearm....period! The reality is, handguns are convenient, they allow you to have something that goes bang on your person at all times, even when you are squatting to take a sh!t......something we all have to do regardless of our status in life!
There are some folks who train and live with this reality, congratulations you are more prepared than 98% of the rest. But, if you are a member of the "rest", get ready......go to the gun safe, take out any of those long guns you have and start thinking and preparing with it. It makes little difference if it is a carbine, rifle or shotgun. That is, until you have become "one with your long gun" any of them will do. Once you get handy with your initial choice, you will have some knowledge from which to better decide if another type is better for you.
Now....let's get back to that handgun and visit the long gun later. Remember the primary key to the handgun is convenience. You need a holding device on your body for the handgun, you can live with day in and day out, through the night and through the week. It has to be accessible when you need it and comfortable enough to carry 24/7. If you haven't tried it, might be a good idea to dedicate a weekend and try it out. After work on Friday, come home and strap that hog leg on and keep it there every moment you are awake and at night curl up next to it like it was your new found lover. I know, some of you already live like that (you, who do, like me....probably should consider some therapy sessions!!!!), but for the "rest", try it out now and if that holster and belt don't work to well, find out before you are forced into it and make the adjustments needed. We all have a box or two of old gear in the closet.....if that $100 Kydex junk holster turns out to actually be junk (translation: Looks cool, a favorite with IDPA competitors, but totally useless in the desert environment), face the music and get something better, or take a blow dryer to it and make it work better.
Now how about those extra magazines or speed loaders. How many and where do you stash them on your body? Remember when those marauding bandits come calling, you may find yourself on the run, so I would think weight, bulk and location on the hips, chest, thighs, etc. And, whatever the decision is, they also need to sleep with you for the weekend test. In other words, how much ammunition do you want to carry, what caliber should it be.....kill power, size, weight, quantity-vs-firepower, are all reasons for consideration. I personally like the 45 ACP. I also like full size handguns, and I think having two spare magazines is minimum. Why? Great question......for another discussion, at another time. What it does mean is, I will be carrying about 40 rounds of 45 ACP, compared to others who select a 9mm maybe carrying up to 58 rounds in the same configuration. I'm willing to carry less ammunition because of my faith in the capability of the 45 ACP compared to the 9mm.....it's a personal choice.....you make yours, I've already made mine. 9mm vs 45 ACP......more important is getting the carry method developed which allows you to carry 24/7 without fatigue, so you have optimized on the convenience.
Once you think you have the convenient carry thing worked out, put the rest of your gear on and live with it for 72 hours. You know, that backpack you bought for a 48 or 72 hour bug out bag (or GoBag, BoB)......or maybe you are working on the 2nd or 3rd backpack you thought was going to be perfect!! And, if you are one of those weekend Commando types with the load bearing vest, to carry a couple dozen AR magazines, don't forget to strap it on as well before going to sleep tonight.
Some folks spend a lot of time, money and effort attempting to get their gear ready before they actually need it. If you haven't, after reading this, I hope you will consider getting some gear out and making the best of what you have and maybe making the changes necessary to make it all more useful.
When the sh!t hits the fan your best choice may be to stay put and hunker down.....or maybe, move to a safer location. Either or, regardless, you could find the need to move out. If that need arises, you are going to be better prepared if you have enough personal gear to survive for 72 hours on your back......that minimum water, food, shelter, first aid and defense equipment you can have on your body at all times. Work it out now, when you don't need it and continue to refine it......spend time now working out the kinks, so you will have more time later to deal with the tragedy, rather than deal with inadequate gear.
Now, let's get back to that long gun thing. My favorite is a carbine, and even though I'm most comfortable with it as an all purpose long gun, I would not be outside of my comfort zone carrying my Remington 700. Others prefer a shotgun and with good reason. The 12 gauge shotgun auto-loader or pump, is probably the most versatile choice for home defense and survival in an urban area one can invest and train with. With the capability to select load.......be it bird shot for hunting, buck shot for defense and slugs for big game and hard targets......it is without a doubt, an excellent choice.
I think it is important to have the capability to lay down some firepower, so my selection would include a repeating type, be it an auto-loader, full-auto, bolt action, lever action or pump action. There are definite advantages to consider in the newer designed military type long guns, with box magazines and gas operated actions. They are usually more suitable for defense and offense than other older type designs, such as the pump action and lever action. Unless you have a specific mission such as compound defense, rapid patrols or deployment, mostly your choice in a long gun is going to make compromises.
Unless you are built like Mr. America, most likely you are only going to be carrying one long gun on your person, so your decision will most likely select a "do-all", and with that in mind your selected long gun will take on the roll of "All Purpose" and have some limitations. Most likely your choice may not be perfect for any one thing, but good for most everything.
Once the choice is made remember, it has to fit with all the other gear you have.....handgun, backpack, vest, etc. How heavy is your choice, how many magazines or pouches or ammo bags will you carry? Where do those extra rounds go on your body for your most valuable defense tool, second only to your gray matter? If you can't get to them right now to reload, they are a liability. Move them around on your body and gear, until they are available during a fight, without having to drop your gear.
Getting a primary and secondary gun setup, along with your other required gear, can be summed up as a real Pain In The Ass. Ask any combat soldier or SWAT officer. They will tell you nightmare stories about their gear and how they have been frustrated with getting it positioned. A big advantage you may have over individuals who are members of organized groups, such as the Army, Marines, or your local police department......you are not strapped to carry what the boss says.....you have a choice. The disadvantage to having choices is, you have so many choices......and most of those choices are bad......that is, most of the gear offered on the market, are bad. KISS......keep it simple stupid....if you really don't need it, leave it behind. If you really think it is needed and that black tactical gizmo doesn't work some times, replace it or leave it behind and learn to live without it.
So even if you don't make the best choice in SHTF Survival Guns, become one with your guns.....learn and train with them......become an expert in handling, maintaining and shooting them. Even if you were wrong about your initial selection of what you thought was the best, when you become an expert, you will have already overcome the shortcomings of your choices. And, that will place you far ahead of those who have not dedicated the time and effort to better prepare.
9mm 22lr and 300winmag
I figure that'll cover everything from close quaters combat to lang range hunting and a little small game. Shoot a shotgun all day and you'll wish you had something else. 22lr is everwhere, as is 9mm. Wish I had a 30 06 though.
Well said, thumb's up.
EagleSix, I that your material or something you have reposted from
elsewhere? I do somewhat disagree with some of the assumptions.
First we have to decided on what is the purpose of having a firearm,
1) Provide food.
2) Provide security.
Both are best done at the longest practical range. That would lead
me to point to a rifle as your best multipurpose weapon. What other
attribute should that weapon have.
1) Dependable design
.....a) minimum or no spare parts needed
.....b) easy to clean
.....c) easy to maintain
2) Common ammunition
.....a) easy to get/barter/buy
.....b) easy to pick up off the battle field
.....c) light for easy of carry if that is an issue
3) Reasonably accurate
4) Bolts are fine for providing food
5) Semi's are better for security
My primary SHTF weapon is an AR-15 in .223 Remington. I have a rail on it
that allows me to switch between and scope and standard iron sights.
Next is what is you plan if SHTF, now I am only planning for several variants
of one main senario. But you have to figure yours out. My main issue is with
a complete societal breakdown. Dirty bombs, terrorist attacks, etc. do not
concern me. These are issues that will last day or weeks, on the outside a
If (and when) society colapses it will be years before we can rebuild.
That is my senario.
are your four main needs.
I can go on but that is all for now. I have a few things I still have
to finish up tonight in the shop.
The problem with SHTF posts is that there are so many deviations.
The primary split is SHTF in, or out. In other words, are you staying at home/base, or are you going to be traveling.
Stay at home, I got the big guns and an ammo source. I have enough rifles, shotguns and handguns to equip a small third world nation. My neighborhood watch will be properly armed.
If I go afield, the problem is greatly exacerbated. I need for all my weapons to be concealed, even long arms. Imagine me walking into your neighborhood with my SCAR hanging in a combat sling, combat chest rig, and my Colt 45 hanging from my hip. You going to wait for me to get close enough for a conversation. Neither would I.
Besides, most of my gear will be for existence in the field.
My SCAR will be folded into a carry bag, and my Colt will be concealed under a shirt at the very least.
I have a case for my SCAR that looks like a skate board case/pack, and use an active shooting bag with my fighting gear, Rifle magazines 3, 3 additional magazines for the handgun, first aide/trauma, extra flashlight & batteries, and such. It is square, with no mag pouches (Maxpedition). I will be looking as neutral as I can. No camo either, but a lot of coyote, khaki, brown and a little olive drab. I live in southern Arizona, think desert.
Remember anyone with a visible weapon at the very least will be seen as a threat and dealt with accordingly. Not a problem in my own neighborhood, but on the road/field I want to look as non-threatening as possible to the casual observer.
Those with a hide away are just a modified stay home, assuming they can in fact get there. Those going out with vehicles will eventually have to dismount and go it afoot.
I think you are further with your preparations than most of the folks into prepping and survival and trying to get their arms around what is "SHTF" stuff. My article/discussion was not so much the specific gun/s a person would carry, but rather how will we carrying them, and "is" what we have selected going to work out when we have to carry them longer than a few hours or a day. It appears you have all that worked out, most others I have met, have not, and that is the target audience. But, thankfully you took the time to contribute because you have added value to the post with additional and more specific information and that is the value of the discussion here.
Most of the folks I meet, discuss, and associate with about SHTF, first talk about guns. They have guns, they shoot guns, they think guns, but they haven't actually live with a gun for an extended period. By far, they have 15-20 pounds of guns and ammo to carry and never get to the point of working out how they will manage to carry this armament along with what ever else the will need, and probably need much more than the gun.
How one carries and deploys with their gun/s is just a small part of preparing for a SHTF situation, and the discussion is to highlight thinking out the methods and equipment we select to carry. You have your travel strategy worked out, most have not thought it out as far as you have. And, your advancement in this issue is not unlike many others in this forum, but there are also others here who will hopefully profit from this discussion.
Thanks for your contribution, and I apologize for the long winded read.
It's the value of different folks with different opinions and logic which help us all make our decisions and from which we can make our choices. Whether we decide to bug in or bug out, in the situation we have to go raw and live with is on our backs.....those preparing should give some thought to how that will work out.
Other than a day, the only SHTF situation I have been involved in required me to carry everything I needed on my person. Any combat veteran has had the same experience. Although we had superior support than our enemy, our survival often depended on what we had, right now, on our person. We often virtually lived out of our pack for days.
Yes, I am at least forward thinking and planning. Preparations are getting
there. My thought process is to hunker down and stay, that simplifies
planning alot. If I need to bugout I have several local places to hide (the
family) within walking distance, until the threat is eliminated or leaves. I also
have a good mutual support network here that I trust. Living in a rural
environment gets you half way there. We loose power regularly, even when
the weather is good. :rolleyes: We have a small hobby farm and could live
without the grocery store, if needed. My sells the surpluses now, in a SHTF
senario what is left would be bartered. Also the only "Services" that run on
my property are phone and electric, I only loose one in a SHTF situation that
is useful, electric. I have a generator, it is a gas genny, so fuel would be
strictly rationed. Someday it will be replaced with a diesel genny. Diesel fuel
has a much longer storage life.
Planning is important but training is too. I always remember the quote, "The
best plan seldom survives the first five minutes of battle."
Back to your gun discussion. If you are moving, which I do not plan on doing
but if I have to, I will be in camo and in the woods, ditches and fields. I do
not think concealment of a weapon is primary. Multifuctional weapon with a
common caliber would be more important also. I would pick one and only one
weapon to carry and use the extra weight for ammo and not a second
weapon such as a handgun.
What is a multi-functional weapon.
1) Will provide security.
2) Can be used to hunt/provide.
Any firearm does both but picking one that does both well can be a bit challenging.
I will be back later to add more thoughts.
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