Basic weapons safety, tactics and selection for the prepper / survivalist

This is a guest post by Mike S

[This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win a number of prizes including an 84 serving storage bucket of Wise Food Storage, 500 rounds of 9mm ammo, a NukAlert a copy of my book The Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat and a copy of my CD It’s The End Of The World As We Know It – And I Feel Fine . For complete rules and list of prizes see this post.]

I thought I would take a moment to go over some basics about weapons for my entry. I know the subject of weapons choice/ selection has been done to death so we will only address it briefly here in the beginning and then move into the good stuff (the stuff most people pay for or get from professional training (military/law enforcement). Let me start with the credits so you know where I am coming from, then you can take my info for what it is knowing it’s source. I am a retired Army veteran with one combat tour under my belt in OIF (I have many brothers who were able to serve more and I thank them, unfortunately an injury ended my service a bit early). My job was MP (military police) and have been through basic rifle training and Mount (Military operations on urban terrain)school twice, (once in basic, once before deployment). Additionally, I have law enforcement (patrol) experience in Los Angeles County for six years. During that time I completed what most would consider to be both advanced pistol and rifle courses. Additionally I have been through several variations of active shooter training and anti terrorism training. Like I said, not trying to impress, just letting you know where it’scoming from.

Lets start with the first section, weapons selection. Forme, I believe the prepper should have at least on of each, a pistol, a shotgun,and a rifle. Personally, I believe in redundant back ups. Real life tells us that shit breaks and we need backups, every cop does it, every soldier does it.Have more than one weapon system. When selecting a weapon get something that feels good in your hand (fits) and goes bang every time (then maintain it to make sure it keeps going bang every time. For pistols, I have personally run thousands of rounds through glocks, H&k Usp’s, Beretta 92’s and SpringfieldXd’s. They have all gone bang every time for me and I would classify them in the reliable enough to bet my life on category (and have done so). As far as rifle’s go, savage makes a good rifle at a good price (bolt-action). In my opinion most ar-15’s are created equal. For most people you will never engage past 200 yards so the wazzu bull barrel only adds weight.

Having said that, if you plan to bug in and not out, the weight may not be a concern. As far as ar-15’s go, maintenance means more than brand. Shotguns: I love over-unders for bird hunting but think a better option for the prepper would be a Remington 870. Just about every law enforcement agency in the country uses them for one reason. They are tough and reliable. The birds. Dear wont know the difference between your daddy’s side by side and an 870. The big difference is gonna be mag capacity.

Having said that, the topic of gun selection is hugely subjective and not the main purpose of this entry so well leave it at that.

So. Now we will get to basic safety. Rules, take them as commandments as far as firearms are concerned. Treat every gun like it’s loaded. Never point your gun at anything you don’t want to destroy. Keep young finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Oh and treat every gun likeit’s loaded and don’t point it at anything you don’t want to kill. I know I already said it but I can’t emphasize it enough. I have seen professionals shoot each other on accident because they were complacent and negligent, don’t do it.

Now let’s get into the basics of firearm tactics which is what I intended for the bulk of the article.

Lets start with cover since you can’t shoot if your dead.Forget just about everything you see in the movies. The rule is for objects that are NOT solid, you need at LEAST 18 inches of cover. Items that would fall into this category are dirt, debris drywall (18 inches of solid drywall not hallow walls, a 9mm ball round can go through several houses worth of drywall). Decent cover includes trees over 18 inches in diameter (also known as big-trees, which also make good concealment for those living in wooded areas and want to bug out instead of in), fire-hydrants if you get stuck out in the open and happen to be near one, tire rims or an engine block are about they only thing I would get behind on a car and count as cover. Even a little .22 cal bullet will penetrate through and through both car doors on a vehicle., car doors are good for neither cover or concealment (M.D. Adds: it depends on what that .22 bullet hits inside the door if it penetrates through or not).

Lets get into the more prepper relevant cover now though. Around the House, most things you have are only good for concealment, at least that is the case in my urban situation where most of the houses are wood and not block. Filled block should be considered cover against MOST small arms fire although when the calibers/loads begin to exceed .308, even filled block will not sustain repeated assault from these weapons.Remember if defending your place against armed looters and shooting breaks out,there are not many household surfaces that stop bullets, which brings us to concealment

Unlike cover which provides us with a physical barrier,concealment provides a visual barrier, or hiding place. Cover can be concealment(remember big as trees and engine blocks), but concealment is not cover.Concealment can be bushes, walls, fences, dark shadows, or even standing still in the woods so as not to attract the searching eye with movement.

Now that we have covered cover and concealment lets move into tactics. Some basic rules. Don’t flag your weapon on barriers/corners or anywhere someone might be waiting for you. This means basically that your line of fire should be the first thing to enter a kill zone. This means your eyeball along with as little head as possible looking down the sight of your gun.The first thing any bad guy should see of you coming around a corner or out from cover is the barrel of your gun pointing at him (no doing a wide long swing around the corner with your gun so he has time to aim), followed by a muzzle flash and the gates of hell. This also prevents an attacker from taking your firearm if they are waiting close to a corner.

One thing to remember that is good for you if you are the home team is that depending on who you ask (different trainers give two different stats) it takes either 4 to 1 or 10 to 1 to overcome a trained person in a fortified position. As a prepper, it wouldn’t hurt to have some sand bags around to fortify with or concrete filled tires (get creative, but remember 18 inches for “soft cover” Probably at lease 6-8 inches for solid cover like concrete or metal) . The military has been doing it for almost every war since the birth of the country (not the revolutionary war to my knowledge).

There are a lot of differing opinions on how to hold your weapon when shooting. I like the FBI stance personally (it is basically both feet shoulder with, both arms form an iscosolese (Spelling) triangle and your legs slightly bent. It is a good shooting platform and adapts well to shooting on the move (which you should be doing if not behind cover. When shooting, you should either be shooting while moving to cover, of shooting while gaining a better position on your attacker. Or if you have both position and cover, you should be presenting as little target as possible and delivering well aimed shots as quickly as you can accurately shoot until the threat stops (or stops moving if you prefer). Remember folks, anything shooting once is worth shooting twice, the double tap is your friend and when in doubt shoot ‘em all out (but be ready and able to reload if you do run your mag dry unless you have no other alternative).

In closing, the best things you can do for yourself in a gunfight are to shoot first, shoot accurately, and shoot when possible from cover/concealment. This is by no means intended to be a complete guide on the subject but if you are new to the subject it should get you started. If you are already a shooter and well-practiced, begin to think more about the tactical side of the house.

But for all, there is no substitute for rounds down range to increase skill. If you go to the range and are new and have no one to show you,pay they 30 bucks for someone to show you the basics of stance grip, sight alignment and trigger control. It will be money well spent. Remember that all the preps in the world wont save you if you don’t know how to use them. In a gun fight, the bottom line is the guy that puts the most accurate rounds on target before the other guy is going to be the guy who wins. It only takes one round to drop someone in fact more people are killed with .22’s than any other round in the world statistically. So if you have been keeping track, get gun,practice with gun safely, look for cover and concealment in and around your abode, and train train. BE safe and Happy prepping.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. I just filled out an application for a firearms ID card this week, so this will come in handy, considering I’m entirely new to firearms.

    • FOID? Perhaps it’s time to find another state to shoot in – LOL

      • Matthew says:

        FOID… took my 57 days, welcome to Illinois.

        • FOID, don’t see the point. My CHL (concealed Handgun License) only took 19 days.

          • 19 days!?! Come to PA, mine took 15 minutes!

            • serfsup,
              I’m originally from PA and my license from there took only 10 days from the time I mailed it until the time it was back in my mailbox here, and was only half the cost. I understand the laws have changed, so I may have to go back to PA in person for the renewal, but that won’t be an issue.

      • Yes, FOID. It’s only a matter of time until most of us can’t even buy firearms, so I’m not gonna complain. I sorta wish I had stayed in Iowa, though, no such ID required…

  2. Spook45 says:

    This one I can harp on a little. A lot of gun safety issues are training scars from improper training or lack of corection in training. One thing I see consistantly is poor handgun possitions. Only in advanced classes will you see the SUEL position. No one teaches this at the lower levels and it is the fastest safest ready position used. Also, with rifles, I prefer High positions over low posititons point being when the call for UP rings out the rifle must track across more area creating a higher likelyhood for a muzzle sweep. From the high position, the weapon can be manipulated, static or in motion, safely and efficiantly and is still readily deployable at the range call with a short snap to the shoulder. fingers on triggers and safeties are pet peaves as well, I focus more on the finger than the mechanical safety. If the safety is on thats good when the weapon is not in use, but the finger off the trigger is probly the best safety there is.

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      The SUEL position isnt taught at the lower levels because it is complex and not where you want the weapon pointed for possible first timers who are still not familar with weapons and ADs are most prevalent. In the event of an AD especially on concrete the weapon needs to be simply downrange or at least in a low ready directed away so there is no splatter and no resulting injuries from particles which are common in the SUEL and other low pointing position training ADs.
      It is also not always taught in areas of CQC because it is not a strength hold and the handgun can be easily stripped/knocked away during the struggle and requires you additional movement of your hands to retain the weapon which is time lost.
      High positions on rifles are safer from sweeps/lasing etc but less effective in combat. If you are bringing the rifle up and they block it you still discharge into the lower extremties whereas a high postion it will go off over them.
      Fingers off the triggers are a must as you stated.

      • I dunno what’s so complicated about the SUL position… heck” turn wrist so weapon points at ground, cover with opposite hand. Can’t be any more cave-man simple.
        The major reason it isn’t taught in many beginner classes is because it’s not popular with the ‘big names’ in gun circles.
        As to retention in CQB, it’s covered by a free hand and can easily be turned to fire, even from under the covering hand, if need be. If someone is struggling with you in a SUL position, simply turn the body so the muzzle points at the opponent and pull the trigger. Doesn’t get any more simple than that.

        • I tend to agree with Jim on this one. I have been trained in the use of position “SUL” which just means “South” in Portuguese. The bottom line is “SUL” is designed to be able to keep your weapon pointed in a safe direction while operating in tight spaces. Example would be a PSD or officers stacking up to make an entry. Low ready and high ready will not work in these operations. The ideas is to develop a tool box of skills for different task.

  3. idahobob says:

    Good stuff.


  4. axelsteve says:

    What is flagging a firearm?Not everyone is military or leo so some terms baffle me. Steve

    • riverrider says:

      axel, flagging is when you approach a corner or doorway etc with your weapon barrel sticking way out in front of you. from the enemy’s viewpoint you are waving a flag “look i’m coming, shoot me!”

      • axelsteve says:

        Ok I understand now however being a lifelong civilian I am just not up on all the military/para military terms,cop codes etc.

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      Axelsteve what he means is dont hold the gun in front of you so that the barrel or even the whole gun is the first thing thru the door, window etc. If it is and someone is on the other side 2 things can happen they can ambush you because they can see you where your coming/going and (2) they can also grab your firearm. Don’t lock your arms out in a full stance like a weaver or Isosolese, keep the pistol closer in to your body or if you do lock out back away from the corners/doorways before entering and create distance.
      Keep it in tight, practice CQC drills, get trained, practice and never grow weary of learning

    • Flagging is not a term used in LE, it maybe in the military though. In LE we teach “Slicing the Pie” technique and not “telegraphing you position” as you roll out from cover. Other than that the advise sounds pretty standard.

  5. riverrider says:

    if i might add for the good of the group….there is a sight, i think, where two ex military guys test out gun myths and misconceptions and generally blow stuff up. they have a section called”sands of truth”. thru their testing, six inches of sand stopped bullets from 9mm to 308. no joke. now i wouldn’t trust 6 inches, but double that and i’ll stand behind it. so when tshtf i’m building 4ft walls around the entire house, 1ft off the existing wall, and filling it with sand. that’ll give me a solid wall to fight from if needed. i would do it now,but wifey frowned deeply on that one:) laying in the material now tho. i use the same for a backstop now, and no round to date has penetrated it….. something to think about…..

    • Kerevus says:

      Try offering to put in some terraced raised beds for her flowers around the house… with lots of sand for drainage

      It’s all about perception


    • i spent about an hour reading thebox of truth blog. i was amazed at how well the 9mm did as compared to other pistol rounds. in sand and phone books,even into cement blocks the 9mm stood up as good and in the phonebooks even better than the 45. suprising! great site and thanks for the heads up.

      • riverrider says:

        bc, glad to be of service. you guys give me so much in information and support, its nice to recipr, recip,…give back some…..darn, college education but no spelling classes. know a ming from a mong, but can’t spell crap:( anyway, i love that sight. check the body armor section for some horrifying stuff.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      riverrider: Build it so it’s a combination bullet barrier and planter for a garden or some lovely flowers. Which come to think of it, isn’t such a bad idea.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      I should have kept reading as Kerevus already done thought of the bullet barrier/flower beds. I’ll just have to patent them and have cheap modular units built in China! Just kiddin’…

  6. templar knight says:

    Great article, Mike! I see most people at the range static shooting, which I know is good, but few folks do any practical shooting. I live in a rural area fairly close to a small town, and most people hunt, so it stands to reason that would be the most common practice point.

    Given the above facts, what would you suggest someone do to increase their tactical skills? And I’m not talking about an official tactical course, which would be the best of all possible worlds, but something a person could do on a local range? I usually set targets at varying distances and angles, engage them in a specific time limit, and see how I did. Is this a good practice, or not? Thank you.

    • TK,
      Yes, it’s good practice. Too many people consider practice to be putting rounds into a static target, at a fixed distance from a single stance. Shooting at targets of varying distances is a good start, but even better if you keep moving. Take the shot, keep the gun on target or low ready, look to both sides (called scan and assess) as you move to one side or another. The scan and assess is a habit you need to learn to break the tunnel vision you will encounter in a stressful shooting situation, and to determine what other threats may be present. Keep in mind that bad guys often run in packs. If you have NRA instruction available in the area, you can learn basic tactics and how to perform them safely by taking the Personal Protection in the Home and Personal Protection outside the Home class. You can also glean some good information from instructional DVD sets like the “Dynamic” series from Magpul. In any case, especially if doing this on your own, start slowly and always be aware of the muzzle, as it is always easier to speed up a tactic as you learn it safely, then to attempt to learn it fast in the first place.

      • templar knight says:


        This is off topic, but I know you’re an engineer. My son recently told me that the company he works for has discovered a process that will let them recover over 1 million tons of lithium from a brine deposit that exists in Columbia and Union County, Ar. They already recovery bromine, oil, natural gas and other chemicals from this same deposit. The lithium project will be huge, and here’s where I’m asking you to help.

        The company he works for, Albemarle Corp. in Magnolia, Arkansas, has a real need for mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers. If you know someone who would be interested, refer them to for information. Thanks.

        Anyone here who needs a job and has a skill should go to that site. I know this company will be adding several hundred people to its payroll over the next 2 years, and these are good jobs, but you do work in a chemical plant. And bromine is one of the most caustic substances on the planet. Just so you’re warned.

    • If you’ve got a good Weaver or FBI or Isocsoles stance, great sight picture and hitting every shot, then you’re not moving fast enough.
      It’s great to set targets at varying distances, but also try to vary your distance. Run to cover, use covering fire as you move. Get behind an obstacle- cover, not concealement- and return fire.
      Practice shooting with both hands- from a two hand grip asn especially a one hand grip.
      Learn to reload on the fly as well as reload one handed- or to load one handed from an unloaded weapon. Do it well with both hands. If you want to add a time element to this, so much the better- take three seconds to reload one handed. That’s twice as slow as a slow two hand reload.
      Practice clearing a jam/weapon malfunction… induce them if your weapon is so reliable as to not create them on its own. (If it does create a lot, return it and get a new weapon.)
      Practice your draw from concealment. Draw, acquire/present, fire (dry fire in home). Get it under two seconds, preferably one second, from under your T-shirt and a jacket.
      Tactically speaking, you’ll be moving to cover, around cover, from cover, all while trying to hit a small target that is probably moving as well- only targets stand still. Or dead dummies. If you can contrive a moving target, you’ll be miles ahead.
      If you have a rifle (sometimes called MBR) you can practice transitions from pistol to rifle to pistol… or shotgun, your choice.
      Set targets up at 100 yards… 50 yards… ten yards… three yards… have a companion decide which you engage first, then you have to react with appropriate weapon. Say, 10 yards first… then you have to engage with pistol, then engage the three yard target, then transition to rifle for 50 and up. (You get the idea.)
      Once you have this down ‘pat’, then do it under movement- running, timed to create stress, or after doing ten pushups and ten situps or running fifty feet- anything to get your heart pumping and breathing hard.
      Remember: slow is smooth, smooth is fast. It’s draw-acquire/present, shoot. (acuire is the trigger, present is to the target).

      • You definitely have some training under your belt sir. Military? I definitely agree with most of what you said. You are definitely wading into deeper water here for most people, advanced training. dont forget we all had to crawl before we could walk and walk before we could run. Novices gotta be careful when doing the old draw acuire present fire thing to quick, it’s easy for the fng to get the order wrong and shoot themselves in the foot by drawing and firing before presenting, in fact I laughed my ass off a couple days ago when some guy shoot his self through and through his thigh doing just that. Practicing quick draw and fire from the hip, shot himself as he cleared the holster. Thats why most of us aquire a target before the trigger, how long does it take to put your finger from the slide indexed position to the trigger? tenths of a second maybe? However if you sqeeze of a round early with a superman grip on the gun as you present, your responsible for where that negligent round goes (as I’m sure you well know).

        Also, there is such a thing as moving too fast, like you said slow is smooth and smooth is fast. This is a really common thing we see from guys coming to the streets from the military, they cant slow down, having been in the military myself, I know how hard it is. BUt it is to damn easy to get killed in an urban environment, to many angles to cover that fast especially if your by yourself. If you live in no mans land it may be a different story, but a lot of us live in urban terrain (or at least some of us who still cant escape los angeles). Point being, the military’s expected casualty rate when operating in urban terrain was close to fifty percent casualties when I went through the training. I think that is a bit higher than most of us would like to see. Having said that, if not directly under fire, it doesn;t hurt to take the extra second to clear the angles properly. Pie it out.

        I agree though on shooting with variety, from multiple distances one handed, off handed, two handed, running, standing, kneeling, lying down. One handed reloads, chambering off your belt. But again, definitely geared towards the intermediate and advanced shooters. You definitely sound like you have a few years under your belt. I should probably have included a bit about point shooting in here, and also a bit more on shooting off just your front sight…… maybe in a future article I will get into some more advanced stuff, if MD will post another guest post from me 🙂 This is my first guest post, has definitely been fun to see some of the responses.

  7. V2Saturn says:

    Got the article in my mail and thought someone hijacked the article by including flickr pics. This link is included on your page at the page at the bottom of the article. I dont want to get a bunch of unsolicited pics – not sure how to stop that.

  8. Sistaprepper says:

    Fantastic article. Thanks!

  9. Off topic:
    My brother-in-law passed away this morning.
    He managed to stay coherant till just a few days ago when he started having seizures. The cancer had gone into his brain.
    I wish to thank all of you that prayed for him. He was a good man and he loved my sister which is a plus in our book. He will be missed.
    I ask for prayer for my sister Susan so that she can get through her time of grief and loneliness.
    I love her story of romance. She had spied Frank and thought he was so cute. She told everyone that she was going to catch him. And she did. And he was all for it. I can still see her pointing him out and telling me her intentions.
    But the best thing was when he told her if he wasn’t there in the A.M. that he loved her.
    This will carry her through her whole life.
    So thank you again for your prayers they were so appreciated.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      I pray for Susan and Frank and for you. It’s obvious that you are close to your sister. Your moral support for her, i’m sure, is a great comfort to her. I’m an only child so I don’t know anything about sibling love, but can tell by your words that it is an awesome thing.

    • sorry to hear about your BIL, glad that your sister was in a lovin Match with her DH right to the end. She will be included in my prayers.

    • templar knight says:

      Ellen, I’m so sorry to hear about his passing, but I know you hold his memory dear. My condolences to you and your sister, and I pray that God will give yall strength and peace.

    • overkill750 says:

      I am sorry for your loss. Please give our condolence to your sister. The prayers of my family goes out to yours. God bless

    • i am so sorry, my prayers are with your family.

    • "Big Jim" says:

      Ellen , my condolences to you and your family ! My mother passed with brain cancer in 89 and I know what all of ya’ll have endured ! He’s in a happier place now , a better place !
      God Bless Ya’ll …….. Big Jim

    • blindshooter says:

      Ellen, I’ll keep your Sister and you in my prayers,

    • The brainwashing wore off... says:

      Blessings and God’s peace to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. Love does indeed carry us through.

    • Sorry to hear that, my condolences to you and your family.

  10. Caoimhin says:

    Good job. On thing about being a professional gun slinger is, you can never over learn the rules of safety. Too many people have a gun and get all hurt when you go over the basics. They think because they took a class 2 years ago they are a safe operator. I consider them “DANGER”. Thanks for the refresher in the basics. Anybody have a source or Idea on empty sandbags? Can’t afford the shipping on the sand LOL and I have plenty in my area.

    • riverrider says:

      c,…..lowest prices and fast service i’ve found. not affiliated, just satisfied:)

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      Caoimhin on the sandbags I have had decent luck at Surplus stores and making them out of pants legs sewn up from discarded jeans.

    • I’ve never built a wall of them, but have made quite a few for adjusting the bench position for students at the range. I use either the pant legs from well used jeans, or discarded shot shell bags if you have friends who reload shotgun shells. These generally contain 25 pounds of lead shot and are a perfect size for a sandbag. In either case, I generally line the cloth bag with a plastic bread bag, fill the bread bag with sand, seal it duct tape, and then sew or glue the cloth bag. Since I usually only make a dozen or so of these at a time, I purchase my sand from Home Depot, Lowes, etc as bags of sandbox sand.

      • Caoimhin says:

        Thanks RR, Matt and OP. I have checked 911sandbags and I love the idea of pant legs. We use old socks filled 3/4 full of rice then tied off. Place the sock in the microwave for 99 seconds and you have a nice heating pad for the next 30 minutes that forms to your body. Pant legs with sand just a bigger scale.

        • riverrider says:

          c, with all due respect, there aren’t enough pants in the world to make adequate cover for you. well maybe the world, but i ain’t letting you cut off my pantlegs:)

  11. I saw an interesting show about guns one time . This guys wife wanted to buy a pistol for self defense and learn to shoot . The instructor took her to the indoor range . he then loaded her gun and ran up to the man target as fast as he could firing the gun the whole way . The woman was a bit freaked out by that , but when the instructor walked back he explained that he wanted to get into her head early that most shooting encounters happen at a distance of 3 to 7 feet and she needed to seriously understand that mentally to protect herself .

  12. Very informative. Thanks.

  13. Concealed Carry in my opinion should be the right of all Americans , WITHOUT a license ! . The 2nd amendment says we can have a gun , how we choose to carry it shouldn’t matter . Why give an automatic advantage to criminals ? In my state , and from what I’ve seen in several other states , its legal to carry a firearm strapped to your hip as long as its in plain sight . Thats all well and good , but what about the rest of us that dont want to walk around like Wyatt Earp advertising the fact . Thats the government for you . Blade length restrictions are another thing that just need to go away . I cant carry a knife with a blade over 6″ long , but I CAN walk around with a pistol on my hip !………thats retarded !

  14. I have a .45 Taurus sidearm and a Ruger LCP .380 for my concealed carry. I like both very much but need more time on the range to consider myself proficient with either one. We don’t have our own range and are able to do some backyard practice. I do need to get to a range and put 300 rounds through each one.

    • ive give the subject of small arms cover some real thought. i have a sunroom that offers about a 250 degree view of my 5 fenced acres. however,its a “sunroom” ,meaning,its nothing but windows. i given sand bags some consideration but i think ive finally come to a decision. a 2 foot tall planter filled with dirt would not look suspicious or out of place,yet it would afford the most protection from small arms fire. theres one more project on the list of things ive got to get done before the lights go out. great article !thanks.

      • bc,
        50 gallon food grade barrels filled with water make a pretty good bullet stopping barrier.
        Just a thought.

        • K Fields says:

          Only for one shot though. Ever see a filled 50 gallon water barrel hit by a 12 gauge slug? The second shot goes right through…

          • K.
            Water barrels work until the first rounds hit and the water drains out.

          • That’s true to a point; but, if you don’t seal the water barrel on top, then the hydrostatic pressure will blow water out the top and not totally destroy the barrel. Water will however leak from the hole. Also, the round would first travel through a double pane window before hitting the barrel and that might mitigate some of the energy. No matter what you use, including sandbags, the effectiveness will diminish as more shots are fired into it, but anything is better than nothing, and I’m assuming in a sunroom you need only a first impact protection, because you’re probably not going to fight it out from there.

        • Not for rifle fire, even .223 will go through it, an ak round will shred it, multiple rounds and your done. thats the crappie thing about water barriers, as soon as the water is gone……….no more barrier.

      • riverrider says:

        bc, thats cool if you’re going to sleep on the floor of the sunroom. i have thought about using those like the military as driveway obstacles, to slow approaching vehicles. but i thought that might just be giving the zombies free cover. i told the wife she could plant flowers on top of my wall idea, but got a double dog frown on that one. she’ll change her mine after usual:)

        • dear god man! who wears the pants in your family. i just tell my wife what im gonna do and she quietly nods approval and,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,shhhhhhhhh she just walked past my man cave,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, delete! delete!

          • riverrider says:

            bc, hehehe, well i prefer to say that she is the voice of reason in our house, without which i would live in a bunker. or a castle. with a moat. and machinegun turrets. no wait, an m1 tank…..

        • LOL It will be amazing how fast people with fussy diets ( organic , low sodium , 2% horse shit , etc . ) will suddenly be very willing to eat whatever is served after TSHTF also 😉

      • Concrete or railroad tie planters, 18 to 24 inches wide make very good barriers to more then just bullets. I would go as high as 3 feet.

        • well ive thought about this all day. i think ive decided what ill do for cover.ill but a whole bunch of 40 pound bags of cement and let them sit out behind my shop till i need them. ill wheel them around to the sunroom when its time and stack them up outside the wall. that way the house looks normal until i need the cover. by the time i need them they will be hard as a rock. heck,they would be hard as a rock in a couple days left outside with this humidity.

          • riverrider says:

            bc, sandbags are cheaper:) you don’t really want hard when it comes to ballistic protection. like kevlar vests, sand spreads the energy of the bullet over a wide area. hard stuff concentrates the energy on a single point. you can use fine gravel,1/4 inch and below, in a pinch. uncle sugar taught me more than i ever wanted to know about sand:)

            • Thats true . When they stopped making hard fortifications and switched to earthworks , the attackers cannons were much , much less effective . It was like punching a pillow , you move it around a bit but dont do real damage . ( talking civil war era )

    • I have a friend that has a Taurus 9mm . We went to the range and put out about 150 rounds through it . No jams , no misfires , well balanced , comfortable gun . He also payed much less for this gun than he would have with one of the trendy brand names with similar capabilities . When I hear the word Glock , all I think of is an urban criminal blasting rap music wearing gold chains and cheesy rings on every finger . The problem I have with Ruger is they have never been big on high capacity . It took them forever ( and constant customer complaints ) to break out with a 20 and 30 round magazine for their carbines . Other than that , they make a good product .

      • axelsteve says:

        T.R. A friend of mine was active duty usmc when they went to the 9mm.I asked them if they put thier dog tags on gold chains now also.He picked up on the Fact that I was not pleased.

        • It used to be that all equipment that our military used had to be made here in the US . . reason was mainly so if the nation were ever to go to war with other nations , our military would not be dependent on anybody else for materials . Apparently that is not the case anymore .

          • riverrider says:

            tr, army berettas are made in usa now. but frankly the italian ones are better.

            • Sorry to hear that . Too bad we dont have the pride in workmanship we used to . I wasn’t a ground pounder , but I would want my equipment to work when I needed it .

      • What you think of when you hear the word Glock is irrelevant. Glock is the world standard for high quality, ridiculously reliable sidearms. A fine choice for any prep per sidearm.

        • That may be true , Got to remember that I’m from an older generation . I gee a Glock in a gun store , I walk on by it . I still only see an urban black gang banger with chains and cheese blasting rap crap .They love them too and even write songs ( if you can call it that ) about Glock . Soooooooooo as a personal protest and disdain for those kind of people , I practice my freedom of choice . Honor and decency is very relevant to me sir . Then again , moral / ethical decay grows with every generation after 1950 thanks to liberalism .

          • Also , its people like that as well as the government , that we are even prepping in the first place . Another reason why I wont support a company that is so popular with the dregs of the street . Good product perhaps , but its ideological with me .

            Stars & Bars !!!!!!

      • Matt in Oklahoma says:

        “When I hear the word Glock , all I think of is an urban criminal blasting rap music wearing gold chains and cheesy rings on every finger ”
        You need a change of scenery brother

      • THink of the gang-banger/urban criminal and the criminal who intends useing a weapon… why would they prefer to buy something cheap and unreliable? When your life depends on it, unreliable is not the best way to go, so buy the best you can. One reason they buy Glock is reliable. Simple economics, really.

        • Well there are many other brands just as good and reliable without the seedy following .

  15. overkill750 says:

    don’t forget to avoid “The Ways of Death”,,, door ways, hall ways, stair ways. they are all fatal funnels. avoid them if you can or even better, make the bad guys use them to get to you. and remember ” shoot, move and communicate”

    • Agreed, didn’t include it in the article because I wanted to stick to basic basics. There are some of us in here who could literally teach on this topic for weeks or months. That is definitely solid advise though. One of the things I love about my house is the fact you have to enter a six foot hallway before you can get to the door, a very effective funnel. Please comment if you see anything else you would consider basic that I left out.

  16. Good info. You can also get sand bags at

  17. I can see the hole in my “cover”, I have none. I have a mobile home with sheet metal outside and paneling inside, not even drywall. So, now the question is how thick the metal sheet needs to be to stop handgun rounds.

    I had the thought that I would bolt square panels (3 X 5 ft.) to walls inside the bedroom and bathroom as shields. The bad guys would not see them and would give me some cover inside. I am also thinking about door panels as well as the spot next to the door.

    Outside, I have tree stumps. I cut the trees down around the trailer but, did not cut them down to the ground. The sucker shoots provide “bushy” concealment. The stump is cover.

    • riverrider says:

      MC, unless the panels are “ballistic rated” panels, meaning hardened, they won’t stop most bullets. i even saw a shotgun slug go thru 1/4 inch plate. check out the site i mentioned above , . they have very interesting tests.

    • If it comes to defending your fort, it might be a better idea for you to dig a hasty fighting position before the trouble finds you, I dont like the idea of being trapped in a tin can, there is definitely more cover outside, stumps, dirt, rocks, even a shallow hole that makes it harder to hit your body (aka ranger graves). It is good to be thinking about what you have and how you can improve it though. Being realistic is the first step in my humble opinion

      • riverrider says:

        mike, excellent point. i saw a trailer go up in flames in about a minute and a half. scarred me for life, i have fire extinguishers everywhere now.

  18. A few more thoughts on shooting from behind cover/concealment. As Mike stated, don’t lead with the barrel and wave that flag at the opponent, but also don’t get too close to the barrier as you go around it. If you do you can get a moving slide encountering wood you didn’t see, or blowback into your face when firing. I typically try to stay at least 12 inches behind the barrier as I look around it, leading of course with the barrel, so that you have some leeway when physically moving the gun. It is also a good practice to learn to shoot weak hand because you can be wounded in your strong hand, or shooting from behind the barrier may require shooting from your non-dominant side, unless of course you plan to place a large portion of your body in the line of fire.
    Finally, “when in doubt shoot ‘em all out” might rhyme nicely, but continuing to fire on someone after they are no longer a threat, at least in a pre-SHF situation could put you into a very bad legal situation. While it is always better to be tried by 6 than carried by 12, it is preferred to have to be involved in neither situation.

    • Matthew says:

      Nicely put…

      • Agreed, getting to close to a barrier can indeed harm you and severely limit your mobility in relation to your target. As far as the “when in doubt shoot them all out”. The doubt is the key word there, if they are possibly still a threat, then you should keep shooting, mindset will come into play in a pre-shtf situation, if you can still articulate the threat, then you will be good. there was a study done by the fbi several years ago, basically it concluded that the old shoot two to three shots then re-assess was getting agents killed. The reason was that agents were missing or scoring non vital hits (probably due to adrenaline or lack of practice on moving targets, or both), they would then stop shooting and re-assess, giving the bad guy enough time to shoot back and kill them. In a pre-shtf scenario, most people wont be shooting at an unarmed human. Having said that, if you are shooting at an armed human, if he is still conscious and still has the weapon, it should be easy for you to articulate the threat that caused you to continue firing.

        Knowing when to stop can definitely be the case between self defense and murder though, I would not recommend the close range coup de gra after the threat goes down.

        • Mike,
          Thanks for clarifying. A lot of us know the laws but someone who doesn’t can take some rule of thumb, misinterpret it, and end up in a heap of trouble. In the classes I teach it is interesting to see the misconceptions people bring to the classes with them, and the stoic panic they often leave with, after finding out how the law really works, and what responsibility they are taking on if involved in an event with lethal force.

          • Yeah, In a Pre-SHTF scenario, you will surely find yourself in police questioning, and likely have to defend your actions in court for a civil suit even if not held criminally (IE it was actually self defense). Knowing when to stop shooting is key, knowing what to say is equally important. One of the first things every cop learns is how to articulate use of force. It is essential. Almost all negative case law out there as it relates to the use of force came from bad articulation of justified force. You have to articulate to fill in the blanks instead of letting some shithead attorney fill them in for you in court in front of a jury. If you are shooting someone pre-shtf, you had better say you were in fear for your life and have good reason to be. The hardest thing I see new cops try to get over is the tough guy thing. they dont want to say they were in fear for their safety. BUt it isn’t about being a tough guy, it is about being a smart guy. And the smart guys don’t end up as defendants. Same goes for civilians. you have to be smart, if you weren’t in fear, would the situation cause the average person to fear for their safety. Was what you did reasonable? These are questions you need to have answers for before hand. Play scenarios out in your head to their logical conclusions, try to be objective, try to look at it from several perspectives.

        • Main point is after the threat is down. If you think that someone will still be a threat especialy when woman and children are involved.another round may just be fine.

  19. Has anyone heard of Del-Ton? I bought an AR from them not to long ago. I had some complications buying it. Not their fault, entirely my own. Anyhow, they have the cheapest firearms i have seen in a long time. Also you can customize your AR before you buy it from them. If you are familiar with AR’s and can put together a kit… i think i paid about 475.oo for it. As much as i would like to i don’t work for these people nor am i affiliated with them in any way other then the AR i just bought. I am merely trying to bring it to anyone’s attention if you are looking for a cheaper AR you should definately look into them. I have several friends that have them and are very happy for not paying more for bigger name brands.

    • Ya , I try to be careful about consumerism . Do your research and save a little cash instead of going for the name brands if the others are just as good . Not just with guns , everything ! Some things are cheap and a good product , some things are cheap because they are junk . Do your homework . If you can save $200 on a non trendy brand firearm that is just as good as the brand name , thats $200 you can put someplace else .

    • riverrider says:

      luke, i have built many ar’s both civilian and military. i tried delton parts and found them lacking in the quality department,specifically lack of proper hardness, and a barrel i got from them also had a burr in it at the gas port. never could get rid of it and accuracy suffered… for a couple bucks more you can get dpms or dsarms, both very high quality. delton and blackthorne are def not on my recommend list.

  20. This is a good article. I am going to read it again after awhile.
    I wish to thank everyone for their condolences.
    My sister has said she is thankful also.
    Again Thank You

  21. SrvivlSally says:

    Thank you for the interesting article and it you offered some good advice and knowledge. I know from experience that to keep the finger off of the trigger works best but to do it successfully takes a little conscious effort until it becomes like second nature. I once knew someone that had never cleaned their gun and because it had become full it was nearly ready to stop working properly and cause damage to their body. Luckily, they got it cleaned before that could happen and the gun was in good shape afterward. My dad served for a 4 year and while doing so, he received a paper stating that he had top skills in regards to guns. If anyone would have ever needed a sniper, he would have served them well. At the age of 9-1/2, he took me outside and showed me how to, say, point and shoot. About twenty years ago, on occasion, I would go to a sort of pit in the forest with my family and get in a little practice. Again, thanks for the article. And, in my opinion, your article was complimentary and beneficial.

    • Thanks I hope it is helpful to those now well versed in this subject, and for those with more experience it never hurts to remember the basics.

  22. blindshooter says:

    Good post, I have spent a lot of time on shooting ranges playing games but have zero real experience. I have one character trait that has saved me from lots of bad things, I’m somewhat of a chicken. I would rather avoid situations that might come down to gun play. That said, I have carried concealed since NC allowed it( maybe even before;^) and still practice in the mirror and live fire as much as I can. The time I spent playing IPSC helped me learn a lot and some of my friends with real training and experience have helped me with different drills and how to handle likely situations. I am really behind on trigger time, too many things going on at once.
    Thanks for making me think some more….

  23. When it comes to weapons I have only two comments I share.
    1. Its better to have a $300 gun and a 1000 rounds of ammo then a $1000 gun and 300 rounds of ammo.
    2. When it comes to a firefight… You had best be shooting. If you aint shooting you had best be improving your cover/concealment. If you aint shooting or improving your cover/concealment you had best be reloading, and if you aint reloading you had best be running.

  24. Thanks for the wonderfully informative article. I have quite a bit of experience in unarmed self-defense, but I’ve never owned a firearm. I recently went to the range for the first time (fired a .45), and I’m thinking of buying a handgun. I won’t ask for advice on what kind of gun to buy, because everyone has an opinion and so many variables go into that decision, but what advice can you give me for research and shopping? Any resources you value among others? Thanks!

    • riverrider says:

      chris, number one is shop around. check out and other gun sales sight to see what the model you want is going for. gun shops have incredibly high markups. at least you will know enough to haggle, hopefully not overpay. my motto is never pay sticker price….other than that, ohioprepper and others on here know their stuff. good luck.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      Chris, first advice would be figure out your budget. Second, figure out what you think you’ll most likely want for your purposes. A concealed carry handgun versus a home defense handgun versus an all around use weapon versus a revolver versus an auto….lot of choices there to make. If possible, go to a range and borrow/rent/observe your various choices in action. If you have a spouse and or children you want to teach to use this firearm, take into consideration that a .45 might not be the best choice, but if its just you, a .22 probably isnt going to be your best choice either. After you’ve made a choice, lots of selection in stores, at gunshows and online to obtain your weapon, shop around. Good luck with your selection.

  25. Great article packed with info. One to be reread. Thanks. Practice turns into reaction. Reaction is what will save your life when things get intense.

  26. Sawed-off Shotgun?
    Is it worth it?

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      A very limited use firearm. Pretty much only good for one thing, close-in shooting of a defensive nature. If you’re looking for a multi-use firearm, the longer barrel shotgun with another short, changable barrel would be a better selection.

    • riverrider says:

      if you like being cellmates with big guys named bubba:)

    • ‘Stagecoach’ shottys are popular with the cowboy shooting fraternity and have a historical background for use: they send plenty of slugs downrange in short order and don’t require a lot of aiming skill.
      On the other hand, they’re great for close quarters and indoor work. Also, in my neck of the woods, they’re great for hunting birds- partridge- in the brush. But not much else. For the cost of a sawed-off, you could buy a decent revolver or pistol and have a better all-around defensive weapon.
      (This comes from a die-hard “I hate shottys for self defense” guy, though- so take it for what you paid for it. 😀 )

    • I would think just getting one of the new design tactical shotguns would be a better bet , they are not nearly as cumbersome as a standard sporting version . If your planning to saw off a shotgun , might as well just pack a good pistol and be done with it , not to mention easier to carry with more rounds when you need them .

  27. Nice thread. Between the two of us, my husband and I own 4 weapons. We’ve mulled over buying a shotgun and always find a reason to put it off. Maybe it’s time to give this serious consideration. We need to fit it into the budget.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      Lynda, the good thing about a shotgun is its multi-function usage. Great for bird hunting, small game hunting, with the proper ammo good for larger game hunting and defense. And dont forget the sheer intimidation factor when faced with bad guys. The negatives include a pretty good kick (depending on which gauge you choose), inaccurate at longer ranges, not as easy to carry around in comparison to a pistol.

      • AZ, I could have had one for my birthday but turned it down. In retrospect I should have accepted this gift. I would opt for a smaller gauge, like a 20, I think. I definitely have to practice firing one first before I commit. Thanks, AZ, for the advice!

      • As you know , the pioneers that came out west had to make hard choices about what they could take with them . The gun that settled the west wasn’t the 6 shooter or the winchester ……it was the shotgun .

      • Good thing about that is , in the close quarters of a house , if you do have to use it to protect yourself , everything is going to be at fairly short range . Makes it more frightening as well . 🙁

  28. Caoimhin says:

    After I read this yesterday I put my Glock 30 45acp on Jasons list .com for sale or trade. Here in New Mexico we don’t need permission to sale or trade a gun. I decided I needed a 9mm. I have many other 45’s. (9mm is cheep to buy. $229 for 1000 rds delivered from Traded right away for a Glock 17 RTF which is a gun on my really want list. Turned out the guy who contacted me is an old friend and he had read an article on shooting and he too got the urge to do some gun swapping. He is a competition shooter and the new Glock is tuned up real nice. My wife said I should stop reading articles about guns and shooting. Man this is just a little fun in the middle of a national crisis. Let’s keep up the good writing and thanks.

  29. Long ago in a far away galaxy I had a job that required me to walk about fields and jungle and swamps and mountains and look for bad guys and kill them. I was mostly scared for 13 months and 29 days but I tried to overcome my fear by carrying every conceivable weapon available at that time and over the course of time reducing the amount of weapons and increasing the amount of ammo I carried. Hence the following, I carried on my body 2 1911 45s, 1 model 60 stainless,38, One model 97 much modified winchester, 12 gauge, and either a CAR 15, we did not have an M4 or a M3A1 Grease gun, with more ammo than walmart. This became ridiculous. I was so over loaded that I could not run which was also a part of my job discription. I finally narrowed to 1 45, 1 38, 1 rifle or the grease gun, and always, asleep or awake, in the head or in the mess or at “meetings” or taking a shower the MOdel 97. I am writing this article because of the power, reliability, and availability of ammo and the ease of use of a pump shotgun. If you have only enough money for one gun and can only afford one weapon, I heartily endorse a pump shotgun, Winchester, Remington, Mossberg, High Standard, even old used cheap off brands are better than no shotgun. They are available at Walmart and 12 gauge shells can be found in even country stores in the most isolated areas. Not for the weak or the faint of heart but they work, will kill most anything with the right ammo, and of course shot placement. Buy a shotgun, whatever you can afford, even a single shot, practice, practice, practice and sleep better at night. Sidebar They are less likely to be banned than other weapons also. I am just suggesting, your mileage may vary and follow label instructions.
    Semper Fi

    • First and foremost sir, Thank you for your service, we are ever in your debt.

      We had similar problems in Iraq, once they started issuing armor, it was just ridiculous. My interceptor with my xl plates was like fifty pounds, then add ammo, med kit and water and your talking closer to 80 lbs. It can be done, but it is a lot to hump. About the shotguns. I have to say I love my scatter gun. No other gun in the patrol car, not handgun or ar-15, can clear a crowd based off fear of the weapon. The shotgun does it everytime. People get uneasy when they hear you chamber it, everyone knows the sound, everyone knows what it is capable of, many every overestimate it. But psychologically that is a great thing if it is the bad guy doing the overestimating.

      Also a great gun for the home defense, and your right, very versatile, it can take everything from squirrel to dear as a hunting gun goes, there are so many different ammo options. One could easily hit a man sized target with a rifled slug beyond one hundred yards, and that slug is a fight ender.

    • fantastic reply . …. been my experience , a shotgun tends to make more people bug eyed than perhaps any other weapon pointed at them psychologically speaking .

    • Sometimes a cheap of fbrand is really a name brand with a house name such as western auto. I had a jc higgens 270 that was an fn mauser. A belgum made fnmauser is a dambed fine gun if it has browning stamped on the barrel or jc higgens beacus it was the same barreled action.It was just a different quality stock in my case.Now an axel steve flying monkey getter would be a different story.

  30. SurvivorDan says:

    Mike S. Thought I was going to read about a do-it-all specific make and model of weapon so I really like your simple 3 guns suggestion. My 3 guns are a Glock19, Remington870 (w/folding stock it fits in a scabbard on the side of my Go-Bag) and Bushmaster AR-15 E-2 variant. But I could make do with most anything. I ain’t fussy.
    I’ve seen amazing penetration by a .22 so I know what you mean and I get MD’s comment too as I was shot to no effect in my wallet once (well it ruined some credit cards).
    Your cover/concealment/, shooting stance and tactical recommendations were great, limited to a few paragraphs as they were. Considering your background I’m sure it could have easily spanned volumes. Very succinct and the advice was right on the mark.

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