Yes I know the first thought from just reading the title of this post, “could there be a more broad topic?” You would be absolutely right in that assessment. This is kind of a crazy topic for a single post. Lets just start from the very beginning. The most important thing about a SHTF firearm is to have one. If you don’t have one, get one and learn how to use it. Now that we have that established we have a spot to reference point to start from.
A true SHTF event is going to happen without warning. Sure you may have watched the political, or elemental signs and have an idea that bad events are coming. Economic down turn, flood waters threatening a damn, or hurricane for example. The extent of the damage or how bad things will get can’t be known. Preparation is the only way to ensure you will not just survive but thrive.
There are few weapons more perfect for survival. You have bird shot, for hunting water fowl and small game, buckshot for large animals and close defense, and there are slugs capable of taking down any size game or enemy out to 400 yards. I realize you will have to know your shotgun a little more for shots past 100 yards but there’s no time like the present to gain that familiarity.
An 18″ barrel is all you need for all of the above but I recommend a little addition. If you don’t have a shotgun buy one with a regular long barrel then order an 18″ barrel for it. This way you have a greater hunting ability with the means to turn it to a more defense suited weapon. That advise goes for pump action and semi-auto alike. A shotgun is hands down the most versatile firearm in your collection. Never discount it. Know it and build your confidence with it.
Always a must have. If you have no other rifle make sure you have a .22lr. They are excellent for hunting small game. This can be the difference between life and starving to death. They are generally discouraged for defense but it this is all you have shoot alike your life depends on it. The damage it does is minimal but this has one advantage as a side effect. A 22 Long Rifle doesn’t have the energy to exit a large target so it bounces off the backside of rib cages and skulls doing further damage. Is it can bring down game like deer with a close, well placed shot but isn’t recommended. If the shot isn’t well placed you’ll have a wounded deer running for it’s life. It will bleed out, sure, but not for miles of suffering on it’s part. Despite it’s power limitations it does have more advantages, to it’s credit. They are extremely light weight and small in size compared to larger caliber rifles. They are easily carried over long distances so if you have to bug out even a child can carry them with ease.
Naturally the rifle section doesn’t end with one caliber or type. If you think about it giving the title of “original tactical rifle” to lever action is completely fitting its historical use. I think putting it in this section is wise. It was designed to boost the firepower of any single man in combat. A lever action in any of its larger calibers (.357 mag through 45-70) is a formidable tool. Depending on the caliber you choose it can be a great deer rifle, all the way up to taking any game on the planet. The lever can be worked fast enough for tactical applications as well. If you don’t believe me…go ask a wild west historian how quickly western gunfights happened. These, I believe are the perfect combination of hunting and tactical lethality needed to thrive in rural areas.
Will semi automatics work? Extremely well. In this category, still thinking of rural areas, I would put all the usual suspects. Ruger Mini 14, Remington 742, Browning BAR, and the list of military type rifles are welcome. AR-15’s a re still a little light for hunting but that’s why the civilian market has made caliber additions to this platform. For the most versatility I would stick to the larger calibers. This way we fill the hunting and defensive categories with ease.
Even though they are semi automatics I consider tactical rifles to be in their own category. (yes I said “tactical rifles” and not assault rifles. Assault weapon or rifle is a bogus term spread by the liberal media so we won’t be using it) If we’re on the subject of AR-15’s we’re talking about a .22 caliber rifle. Sure there is a lot of powder behind it and it does some great damage but one thing it isn’t meant for is bringing down big game. Yes, I know that during the Depression more deer were killed with .22LR rifles than with any other. It’s a fact because my parents lived during that time and I’ve talked with them and others and they all said the same thing. But we aren’t going down that road nor do we advocate hunting or poaching with a .22LR. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with a 6.8SPC or 300 Blackout or like calibers for hunting and defense alike. Choose your caliber and have plenty of ammo. Now, going with 5.56 is never a bad call. Being the military and NATO round there will be more ammo around for that, in most areas. If you don’t go with 5.56 then just plan to have enough ammo on hand to compensate.
- It has the range for urban encounters.
- Has plenty of power to take down dirtbags.
- You will have magazine compatibility with law enforcement.
- Parts commonality.
Lets take a look at those reasons.
- Urban encounters (no I’m not claiming to be an expert and have never been deployed so I make no secret squirrel claims) in modern cities are likely not to reach outside of 200 meters and likely be closer than that if you aren’t fighting an opposition force. Scavenging and other activities will likely get you within 75-100 meters of an attacker at the farthest and an ambush can get right in your face. An AR-15 is meant to be light and fast and fills the urban roll well.
- The 5.56 round has the energy for a military combat rifle and will fill the defense roll well. Here is one advantage a civilian rifle has over a military version. We lowly civilians have are subject to a 16″ barrel (military M4 has a 14″ barrel) unless you pay the exorbitant cost ($200) of the BATFE tax stamp. Those coming back from the War on Terror and have complaints about having to shoot a tango 2-4 times to drop him are victims of that 14″ barrel. The 14″ barrel doesn’t allow the bullet to gain the velocity needed to fragment as the round was intended. You see the round is so effective because the jacket comes apart causing multiple secondary wounds. If you don’t have enough velocity you loose the fragmentation. This gives you a .22 caliber entry wound, a .22 caliber wound channel, and a .22 caliber exit wound. Something that is quite survivable. However, if you have a 16″ barrel you now have enough velocity to ensure the round works like it was designed to. (I learned from a now retired Chief Warrant Officer at Utah’s 19th Special Forces group) So civilian AR-15 rifles have a hidden advantage and wound channels like the one above is no joke. It is a great defensive tool.
- I Googled “police out gunned” and found 30+ pages of links revering to our boys in blue being in trouble. Today most, if not all, urban police departments now make sure their officers have an AR-15 for every officer. This means on a bad day either you have extra mags that can help get an officer in trouble back to safety or that he has some that can be shared for the same reason. It also means that magazines and ammo will be plentiful from other sources.
- Since an AR-15 trigger is an AR-15 trigger you can almost guarantee that you can scavenge parts from other rifles. The exception is Colt parts. They use a larger trigger/hammer pin so they won’t work in anything other than a Colt. Since I haven’t seen a civilian Colt since the late 80’s or early 90’s you shouldn’t have too much of a worry about this. The way these rifles meet headspace requirements means most Bolt/Carrier groups will interchange as well.
Let’s not get too excited with this topic. There is a lot of firearm forum debates out there over caliber and what is better. I’m not going to get into that for the most part. What I will say is to get a pistol in a major caliber. This will mean that ammunition is plentiful and can be found anywhere. There are some calibers out there that you simply can’t find ammo for. Something like a .38 super I have never found in a local sporting goods store anywhere I’ve lived. It simply isn’t shot enough for shops to stock much of it if any at all. I would also stay away from smaller caliber pistols for your SHTF defense gun. Something like 25ACP just doesn’t have the energy to take down anything you might run into.
If I could suggest a range of calibers I would go with 9mm, 40S&W, 10mm, 45ACP, 38SPL, 375 mag, 44 mag. These calibers you should be able to buy or if it comes to it scavenge ammo for anywhere you go.
Brand…not getting into that debate either. What I will say is to do your research. Get a pistol in a major brand so you will be able to find magazines or other needed things easily. There are several good brands out there so ask around and get something good. Your SHTF pistol isn’t something to scrimp on. This is the one that will be on your person at all times and will need to work each and every time you need it to. Get something of good quality. You don’t want to learn too late that the pistol you bought is of poor quality and unreliable.
I don’t think this takes a lot of words to sum up. Be prepared to feed your family. Be prepared to defend your family. No exceptions. No excuses.