This guest post by Anthony M and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
I know what everyone is thinking. Oh great, another gun nut.
Well I am a gun nut, but I do not have an entire vault full of every weapon ever used in a war. I do not collect them just to show them off. I am not a person who buys $3,000 dollar firearms just because it is “the best” and I do not have a “complex” where everything I own has to be the largest.
What I am is an average Joe who wants the most bang for his buck, literally.
I used to have firearms of many calibers and thought I was prepared for whatever task may be needed from a “boom stick”. But as the preparedness life style started creeping into the back of my mind I started to look at things differently. I started getting sick of having to stock 6-8 different calibers and then having to select what firearm to use whenever I went out. With much deliberation and a few tears I decided to limit my arsenal and stock up on the essentials. But what are the essentials, you ask?
Well, the idea came to me when I was reading about cowboys and the old west and how they used to carry a rifle and pistol in the same caliber. The cowboys, who ultimately lived the bug out lifestyles, having everything they owned on their back (or their horse’s) and making do with what they had, are what some of our plans are for a SHTF situation. My SHTF scenario is not to run off into the woods. But, on my way to my BOL I may not be able to use a vehicle which would force me to go on foot. The reasons that I would be on foot could be a solar flare, EMP, road blocks, or break down. I’m sure you could think of a few more reasons why you would be on foot. Having a long gun and pistol of the same caliber makes my load lighter and easier to carry. Taking this one step further, to make my pack simpler would be to use the same magazines and same parts for my long rifle and pistol.
The benefits of having your pistol and long rifle share ammunition and parts:
- Same ammunition
- Same platform for muscle memory
- Same magazines so no confusion when in a firefight or a hurry
- Less extra parts need to be carried for repairs
- Common parts between team members
- Lighter and smaller pack to carry
The first step was to assess my collection and do some research on velocities of handgun calibers. I found the caliber that I liked and decide to stick with it. For me that was the .45 acp, mostly because I already owned a few 1911s, liked the simplicity of the 1911, and I liked the muzzle energy of the 45 acp out of a 16 inch barrel.
NOTE: There are many other fine calibers to choose from. The .410 ga./45LC, 9mm, .40 cal, 22 mag, .357/.38 spl, and many others just to name a few.
Then the hard part started. I needed to cut down on my arsenal to pay for my new toys. Now, I do NOT condone selling firearms, but since I was buying some to replace them I figured it was acceptable as long as I did not tell anyone. Mostly for fear that they would think I was really going off the deep end.
NOTE: There is no need to sell your firearms to pay for new ones. But it was the right thing to do in my situation.
First I had to decide which ones I would absolutely NEVER give up.
- 1. Heirlooms that were handed down to me and I intended to hand down
- 2. My go to guns such as hunting shotgun, carry pistols, and rifles
- 3. My first gun that I bought
- 4. Hand out weapons for neighbors
This left me with a nice combination of all around firearms that would suit many purposes.
Then I had to decide which ones I could part with.
- 1. Expensive special editions that I would never shoot
- 2. Odd ball calibers that I never shoot (or can’t afford to shoot)
- 3. Unreliable guns that I do not trust nor would want any friends to use
- 4. Guns that were cool to have at the time but have since lost their appeal
Once the sales were completed I needed to turn the money into steel.
NOTE: I used my local gun shop to sell them on Gunbroker.com. They only charged a few percent and did all of the pictures, listings, and shipping which was well worth it to me.
To finally decide what I was going to choose I had to do some research. After some research I found the mech-tech systems, high point carbines, marlin camp carbines, pistols with butt stocks, and many other carbine systems. All of these were great options and I was really close to going with the mech-tech. However, after seeing the price tags on all of these I decided to build my own carbine.
NOTE: This is not an easy option and not for everyone, but I have a good friend who is a machinist and we were looking for a project to do.
I bought a 16 inch barrel for my 1911 and built a butt stock for it. I put a fore grip on it, a 120 lumen light, and nice iron sights which rounds this off to my perfect long gun. It has the reliability of the 1911, the accuracy of a rifle (to a certain range), the same parts as my side arm, and is very light.
NOTE: The butt stock is a prototype and we are currently designing new ones. It looks rough but is completely functional and sturdy.
I am not telling everyone that this is the only way to have a sidearm/carbine combo that is interchangeable. There are many firearm conversion kits out there that people should look at and I suggest some searching to find the right combination for you.
Below is a picture of my firearm grab bag. Just an idea of how much smaller your load can be without having to pack two different rounds or magazines.
So, now I have a pistol and firearm that share everything in common and cover quick draw (pistol), close range (pistol/carbine), and long range rifle fire (carbine). One reason that I do not want to carry around an AK or AR or other long range rifle is because I do not foresee myself having to fire over 200 yards and this does not justify the extra weight. My reasoning for keeping my shots under 200 yards is due to a limit of my abilities, moral grounds for shooting that far at an animal or person, and if I am that far away I should either leave or move closer. How many of you could make the 200-500 yard shot that many of your rifles are capable of?
My next problem was how much ammunition to store? I contemplated this a lot and finally came up with my stock up number, but I will leave this number up to you to decide.
NOTE: I am not giving you a number because it will be different for everyone.
Some options that I thought of that may help you decide on a stock up number:
- 1. How much ammo active duty personnel carry on a patrol and multiply that by projected duration of SHTF.
- 2. How much ammo is recommended for an active forward operating base
- 3. Look up statistics for how much ammunition is used in an average firefight
- 4. Look at the route to your bug out location and find the entire population between your location and your destination. Then you could do some arithmetic, multiply the population by 2 (double tap), or some other method to figure out a number.
- 5. Look at availability of your decided upon round in a SHTF. Does LE, military, militias, or local ammo selling points carry your ammo?
My next problem that I encountered was when I started thinking about my neighbors. I realized none of my neighbors even had firearms and if they did they were not reliable. I figured I may need some help defending my local area or getting to my bug out location in a SHTF.
NOTE: I am only counting my neighbors who have earned my trust and will be beneficial to my safety in a SHTF.
This lack of firearms meant I had to figure out what to get for hand out weapons.
I figured out that the most common weapon that my neighbors have is the 12 gauge. Also for the neighbors who did not have experience with firearms the 12 ga. would be the easiest to learn. I had to choose a platform so that all of my hand outs were the same for simplicity. I decided to go with the Mossberg 500. Some of you may be skeptical of the Mossberg but it has been used and trusted in the military, law enforcement and by hunters for many years. I have used it hunting for years and have never had a problem. I trust it and knew that I could get them rather cheap at my local gun shop. I was able to pick up a couple Mossberg 500s really cheap (cheaper than mosin nagants) and am keeping them as hand out weapons. I hear many people talk about the mosin nagant and how you can get them and a lot of ammo for cheap. My issues with the mosin nagant are; who knows how to disassemble one, I do not trust them, and where am I going to get ammo for them in a long term situation? The advantages to me in using the Mossberg 500 is because they are reliable, tear down easily, easy to operate, and use one of the most popular rounds in the U.S.
NOTE: There are many other shotguns that would fulfill this role such as the Remington 870, Winchester 1300, or a variety of other trusted shotguns.
Another reason I went with the 12 gauge is for the versatility of the round. The 12 ga. round should have its own article but I will just cover some of the basics. I can use slugs for 150 yards and under, buck shot for out to 50 yards reliably, and cheap birdshot for practice, hunting small game, or indoor defense. There are also the novelty rounds such as flares, flechette, dragons breath, grenade rounds (rare and expensive), and short shells. The short shells should have their own topic also, but I just wanted to cover them quickly, I like short shells because they add capacity to your magazine and have the same knock down power at close range (usually same powder less pellets) as normal shells. There are different sizes such as 1-3/4 inch or 2 inch. They can jam easily so make sure you test them before relying on them.
NOTE: The 1-3/4 is only recommended for the Winchester 1300 by the manufacturer but can be reliable in other shotguns if some simple modifications are done. The 2 inch is generally reliable in most pumps.
It is also easy to get inserts for the 12 gauge that will fire just about any other round on the market. These inserts look like a 12 gauge shell with a hole in the back. You can put another (smaller) round into the hole and the firing pin from the shotgun will fire the smaller round. Your weapon might be a single shot with these but it adds a lot of versatility, especially in a shortage of ammunition.
Do some soul searching and duckduckgoing and try to come up with a good plan.
- There is a plethora of hand gun caliber carbines out there and I wanted to list some that may spark some interest:
- 1. Grease gun
- 2. Sten gun
- 3. Mech-tech
- 4. Glock butt stock adapter and 16 inch barrel
- 5. High point carbines
- 6. Many cowboy gun combinations
- 7. The judge and Rossi circuit judge
- 8. 1911 butt stock and 16 inch barrel
- 9. AR uppers that accept other ammunition
NOTE: I would like to bring up the Judge pistols and the Rossi Circuit Judge. They are a 45 Long Colt and .410 gauge combination revolvers that can be bought in a pistol version or carbine version. You can read up on .410s and 45 LC rounds and make your own conclusions but I would trust a .410 to take down a deer so I’m pretty sure it would work for two legged varmint. You could also get adapters similar to the 12 ga. to fire just about any caliber out of the revolver judge and make it very versatile. I would highly recommend the Judge family to anyone who is just starting out in firearms. Make sure you get some adapters to shoot 22s out of it to start out and ease into the larger calibers.
After all of this running around and putting my ideas into action I only need to know two gun systems and I only need to store 2 types of rounds. 45 ACP and 12 gauge.
The reason for this article is not to sell you on buying a bunch of 1911’s and Mossberg 500s. The reason is to get you thinking about simplifying your arsenal so you can simplify your life. Nothing in this article is an endorsement for any products or services mentioned.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to discussing your opinions in the comments below. Please let me know if you disagree or have a different opinion than me because the whole pack will benefit from having more than one option to think about.
This contest will end on April 22 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive - A $500 dollar gift certificate courtesy of LPC Survival that is good for $500 off anything on their site. And a Wonder Junior Deluxe hand-mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads,
- Second Place winner will receive – Two cases of MRE’s courtesy of Camping Survival and a $150 gift certificate off of Hornady Ammo from LuckyGunner.
- Third Place winner will receive - a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable.