Rambo meets Walter Mitty, and they are both wrong

This is a guest post by Leland 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 see lists all the time of a dream list of arms “needed” for survival. Some times it sounds like spoiled air head teenagers going to the mall! Are they trying to survive, or are they trying to buy a life membership in the consumer society?

So, you need a $1500 rifle with a grand of accessories to shoot somebody? That $1200 1911 will kill somebody twice as dead as a $600 1911? Need 8 different guns, one for each possible contingency? How about a $300 combat knife to stab somebody who is quicker, faster, and meaner than you? And don’t forget 1000 rounds of handgun ammo just in case. Just in case what, you survive one handgun fight?

Reign in your fantasies and get some basic arms for the real world and spend your extra dough on training or maybe even simple body armor or hardening your house. Go for name brands, preferably made in America, and models that have been around a few years and that have sold a million or more so they have some sort of track record .(Suggestions below for specific arms are just a suggestion. See the “one size doesn’t fit all” comment below).

First, buy 2 identical riot shotguns with short barrels (keep it legal). The shotgun is the king of home defense because of one thing: stopping power. Close up and personal, nothing matters like stopping power, not to mention that with a small amount of training you’re probably at least twice as likely to hit your target with a long gun than with a handgun. A stock Mossberg 500 will work just fine. If all members of your family can handle 12 gauge, get two 12 gauges. If not , get two 20 gauges. The ammo has improved enough that you can now get a lot of bang out of 20 gauge buck and slugs. Buy a 50 or 100 rounds of buck and 50 of slug and 100 of birdshot for practice, hunting, and vermin control.

Next, pick up 2 good identical concealable handguns, with quality holsters to go with them. Latest research says that people with quality holsters are less likely to shoot themselves. You never know when you may need to go out with a concealed weapon, and in any case a good handgun with a big enough bullet is good backup for your shotgun or carbine. A pair of Ruger SP 101’s in .357 would do. Revolvers are less problem prone than autos, and you don’t have to go through the expense of buying and testing extra magazines. If you have two handguns, you have a New York reload if you would ever need it. Load them with .38 special +p and have the .357 capacity available if you go on a car trip and might need the extra penetration at the cost of more kick, flash, etc. Keep 50 rounds for each gun around, good upgraded personal defense ammo. Get some metal snap caps and get into an 80/20 training regime—80%dryfire/ 20% live ammo fire with your service ammo.

Next go for your rifle, two of any good semi-auto carbine that will take over just past shotgun range and take you out to 300 yards if necessary. I guess the ideal weapon would be an American made AK in .223 for around 600 bucks, but until that happens you are on your own. I still can’t figure why AKs were originally chosen in part for ease/low-cost of manufacture, and now the good ones half made abroad cost more than a domestically made Ruger Mini-14! In this we haven`t caught up with the 1950’s USSR! Pick what you like, AK, AR, SKS, Mini 14, buy two and learn how to use them.

I’d go for the 7.62 x 39 for the extra penetration, but don’t pooh-pooh the .223 if that’s what you like. They are both good. Both good means both good—get a life.Have several hundred rounds of good ammo around and 3 extra quality mags per gun. The rifle is the only weapon with which you are likely to get in a lot of shots and live to tell about it. Don’t pooh-pooh FMJ– you never know in advance if you are going to need the pentration or not. Having penetration and not needing it is better than yada-yada-yada. Get your guns, function test them and select good ammo for each. Get your family members trained in their use and keep them trained.

That’s the basic setup. Not cheap, but good value – keep it simple, get good basic guns and two of each. Obviously, if you have a larger family, buy more than two. Throw in a .22 rimfire rifle, but for urban/suburban survival keep in mind you are more likely to use it for feral dogs and rats than for hunting. If you hunt and if you live somewhere where there is something to hunt, you might also want a high-powered rifle appropriate for your area, but something more like an everyday hunting rifle than a Navy Seal sniper rifle for Xzillion dollars..

One size doesn’t fit all. If for example, you have recent, successful, significant experience with an AR, M590, 870, or some service pistol and you are happy with it,splurge the extra bucks and go for it. No need to put yourself through the extra training curve just to have a gun that is theoretically better according to “somebody”. Just make sure you can get your family up to speed with your chosen guns.

Keep your family arsenal as simple and idiot proof as possible and get in some good training. Buy extra quality ammo as money allows, and rotate it into your training.

Leave the fantasizing for the Rambos, Walter Mittys, and assorted gun magazine writers.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. 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. Good advice! I want to survive, not start WWIII.

    I have plenty of arms , but to me it seems I never have enough food put up…….

    • El Tejano says:

      Don’t forget to stock up on ammo. You can use it for money when paper dollars turn to buttwipe. Its a lot cheaper to practice if you save your brass and load your own. Cost about 1/3 of store bought stuff.

  2. Well I’ve always said,there is no lack of training that expensive accessories on your ar 30 (twice as good as ar15) won’t compensate for. I’m saving right now for a new buttstock with integral tactical toothpick dispenser. I’ve dura coated all my very expensive gear “tactical black” to match my drop leg holster and fingerless gloves. The other day someone commented on my $600 ultimate tinted uv defeating daytime eye protection. They said they looked like sunglasses. What an idiot. Sunglasses go for about 12 bucks. oh! Gotta go! Rambo “balanced budget” is fixin to come on.

    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      bctruck, I just GOTTA have one of those integral tactical toothpick dispensers!!!!! WHERE did you get it? I’ld be willing to pay a million for one of those, been looking all my life for that option. PLEASE tell us where you got it…..ROFLMAO…

    • K Fields says:

      Oh no! Does that mean my old AR 10 is only a third as good as your AR 30? Dang it anyway, now I’ve got to find another part-time job so I can upgrade!
      I think I remember seeing those toothpick dispensers listed in last year’s DOD budget – $20,000 per buttstock but hey, I’m sure they’re worth it.

      • Tom the Tinker says:

        K….. I found ‘Govt. over runs’ on those Tac pic Disps at our local ‘Woodville’ surplus…. Tan, Green, Black and three camo parterns! You can get either the velcro wrap style or one that screws on your pic rail! Capacity is 40 standard ‘pics’ or three rounds of 223! $8.oo for velcro, $9.25 for the rail mounted model.

        • $20,000 to the DOD = under 10 bucks retail; that sounds about right.

          • i remember when i was in the army and need fastener driving impact device,it was $550.00 later as a civilian i needed to perform a task just like the one in the army that required the use of the fastener driving impact device.imagine my suprise to find this high tech device being sold as ,get this, a hammer at orange depot. it was $10.00

  3. James from Iowa says:

    Love it! That sort of ‘Walter Mitty-esque’ fantasizing is all too common in survivalist/prepper sites. Yes, indeed GET REAL with your needs.

  4. templar knight says:

    For the average person living in suburbia, I think this advice is right on target, Leland. I’m not quite as fond of the Mossberg 500 as the Remington 870, as for some reason the Mossberg is easier to short stroke. But I can’t really argue against your choices, although I think every family should have one scoped, high-powered rifle(.308 or above) for stopping vehicles, etc. Very well written, concise post, without the usual bravada on this subject.

    • Thats just it ,
      most of the people that are talking about body armor , urban assault tactics , etc . yadda yadda are on these sites …………..the overwhelming majority of ” zombies ” your going to run into have no such equipment let alone know how to use it . They may have a pistol , rifle , or shotgun , and may be competent with it and willing to use it , but thats about it . They are not trained people by any stretch of the imagination . All the para military people are on these sites . The street gangs are a problem but the numbers are not up there with the average zombie . Many will be unarmed ( with a firearm )

    • K Fields says:

      I’ve experienced the same problem with some Mossbergs but I still prefer them over the Remington due to the location of the safety. My favorite shotgun is still a 12 gauge side by side double barrel though. Simple enough to get the first shots off quickly no matter how stressed you are and simple enough to keep operational without having to be a gunsmith.

      • templar knight says:

        I remember an old 12 ga Savage/Stevens double-barrel that belonged to my grandfather that I used to dove hunt with when I was a kid. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated my brand new Remington M870 youth model in 20 ga. when I got it one Christmas. And my shoulder appreciated it even more. I haven’t shot a double-barrel since then, not that I’m against them, it’s just the childhood memory of getting stomped ever time I missed. For some reason, I never felt a thing when I hit a bird.

  5. For the new prepper without any weapons, I typically recommend the purchase of three weapons.

    First buy a Remington Model 870 12-gauge pump shotgun. It’s nearly indestructible, common, and multi-use.

    Next buy a .22 calibre semi-automatic rifle. Great for hunting small game and target practice. Ammunition is very inexpensive and you can accumulate several thousand rounds for a reason price.

    Finally, buy a 30.06 or a 30-30, whichever you prefer. This will allow you to take larger game if needed. And like the shotgun, it can be used for defense.

    (I’ve elaborated on these selections over on our site if you’re interested. But this is the gist of it. )

    What do you think? What am I missing?

  6. richard muszynski says:

    Greetings. Why the big endorsement for semi-auto firearms for survival? they all are delicate, even the original AK’s and fussy about the ammo used in them. and almost without exception cost more then simple bolt action former military rifles in major calibers like .30/06, 8 m/m Mauser or the Russian 7.62 Mosin-Nagant’s that are available for usually under $100 and tough as can be and useable regardless of temperature or weather. the old bolt actions are made to be as fool proof as possible and do not require a armory to fix them if they break, which is very unusual. and surplus military ammo is dirt cheap compared to current military calibers offered. Example Russian 7.62 X 54R in the 203 grain soft point with non corrosive loading goes for $9.95 for 20 rounds and that is new manufactured ammo. try getting ammo, soft point in any other heavy caliber for that kind of money. You won’t find any. and you can get the Russian ammo in sealed sardine can like containers of 440 rounds for $84 already in condition for long term safe storage. and in case you are not up on the military news. much of our current ammuniton for the American military is now being sub-contracted from the Former Soviet Union, Russia. so the thinking that only American ammo is any good sort of falls on its face since the American military are using Russian ammo now. seems to me that for any firearm it would be a good thing to get a dollar calculator and a copy of Shotgun News and check on prices. you may be surprised what is actually out there. and save yourself a lot of bucks to use for other needed items like maybe some useful trade goods to have on hand. just my opinion of course. the firearm you bet your life on should be a personal choice.

    • Thanks RM, I learn something new everytime you post on the subject of firearms.

    • Bolt action is great……for hunting, or sniping. I believe this article was more geared towards gunfighting, for which semi autos and auto’s are king. He who gets the most accurate rounds on target the quickest wins. you ever try cover fire with a bolt action? good luck, I’m sure it can be done, but most people lack the skill to do it. Then again many FNG’s to the world of firearms will think they pulled the trigger once but empty the weapon in a stressful situation.

      Just my opinion, but when it comes to gun fighting, watch what the pros use. Semi or full auto. With the earlier stated exception of snipers. you wont be sniping when they come knocking on your door, the only oportunity to use those skills will be hunting, either animals for food or men on a saftey patrol.

    • Our space program is also being out-sourced to Russia.

  7. frank sherman says:

    best peice you have ever printed on fire arms,nuff said

  8. richard muszynski says:

    should have added the sardine cans of Russian ammo are not the $9.95 for 20 rounds soft points but the 148 grain steel penetrator rounds in the same caliber that go through light armor and bullet proof vests unless they have the heavy metal or ceramic trauma plates in them. the way i wrote it I think it looked like I was saying the soft points went for that amount.

  9. Dan in Oklahoma says:

    Two of every weapon? Didn’t you say a $1,000.00 dollar gun will kill just as effective as a $600.00 dollar gun? So I need to spend 1,200.00 on two guns to kill one person? I have one of everything you mentioned besides the Mini 30.
    I do think your spot on with the content but the advice of having two of each is just expensive. Plus When I Bug Out I will only be taking two weapons with me – A 10/22 with 1,000 rounds and a .45 with 200 rounds I believe about two weeks supply wshtf will be enough to get me by till I can dig up my Cache if it comes down to it. I don’t plan on killing anyone I want to evade and survive with my family.

    • Dan in Oklahoma,

      Two of each can get exspensive fast, unless you go with say two Mosin Nagant rifles. Having a spare would be great if one became lost, broken, stolen etc. My advice is to get one firearm first then another after other survival needs have been met. As for bugging out in most cases it’s not a good plan and most of us here will be bugging in.

      • Dan in Oklahoma says:

        I live in an apt, and need to move quickly, if I had a house on the other hand or something that ment somthing to me I would 100% agree witht the atricle.. Love the info and the blog

    • TexasScout says:

      The point of having two of the same weapons is that the “manual of arms” is the same for each. You “standardize” on racy type so each person knows the proper operation of each. It’s always better to have two shooters than just one.

      • TexasScout says:

        Stupid iPhone spell check. How do you get “racy” from “each”?

        • texas scout, i sometimes am glad that i have spell check. it makes me feel way smarter than i am. but sometimes it will choose something crazy like if i meant to write,the sky is blue,it would correct me and write, the sky is botulism. i dont get it.

          • bctruck wrote, “…,the sky is blue,it would correct me and write, the sky is botulism.”

            That makes more sense than you know.

          • The one benefit of having some vision issues is that I use a Text To Speech application (free version available for Windows) to read the post to me before I post it.
            A statement like, “I received an order form Paladin Press” will pass the spell check and fly right by most human eyeballs, but the TTS and the human ears catch it every time. Did you?

    • Multiple firearms can be useful if you have other family members who will be involved in defensive operations, and haveing all identical or very similar models make training more effective, and allows more options for use of the entire battery by everyone involced.

  10. AZ Rookie Prepper says:

    Leland S., thanks for a good article. My only comment in disagreement would be to keep a little more than 50 rounds of ammo for the handguns and shotgun, only so you have plenty to practice with. One suggestion would be a good quality high power pellet gun, especially for those in an urban environment, to take care of those feral dogs/cats/rats that you suggest a .22 for, dont want the law breathing down your neck. Thanks for a good read with some humor thrown it too!

    • AZ,
      I agree with the ammunition and the practice. IMO everyone should practice monthly with the firearms you intend to use and I would assume a minimum of 50-100 rounds handgun, 10-25 various rounds shotgun, and 20-100 rounds rifle.
      For the rifle I would use the lower number for .30 calibers and move into the higher numbers as ammunition gets less expensive for something like an AK or an AR. If you have an AR I would also highly recommend a .22 RF conversion kit with at least 3 magazines. This allows you to practice the rifle extensively and inexpensively while becoming proficient with the same controls you would use with the 5.56mm ammunition. This also doubles as that .22 RF rifle if you want to keep or carry a smaller firearms battery.

  11. Great article. We have a Moss 500 12ga pistol grip, a Judge 45lc/410, a 45lc lever rifle, a Moss 500 410ga, a 45 auto and a 38spl. the 45 auto and 38 are carry arms. Just the wife and I. we hit the range about once a month.About 200-400 rounds for each, FMJ on the 45lc, 45 auto, and 38spl. #4 and buck for the 12ga, #7 and buck for the 410ga. We did buy 1 box each of JHP in 45 auto and 38spl+p for carry. Expensive hobby to practice, but much cheaper than a $400 day fishing and burning 100 gal of fuel.

  12. You are so right. I have people ask me the stupidist questions on this matter all of the time. They want to argue about calibers and range and weight and things that most of them really dont know enough about to understand why they are asking that question in the first place. My answer is usually diappointing to them when I say get one that…….WORKS! Thats right folks, get one that is accurate, user friendly and goes bang everytime. Then TRAIN WITH IT until you master it. Then, you can stop with the gun crap and get on to things like FOOD WATER SHELTER AND SKILLS THAT KEEP YOU ALIVE!! I once had a friend who a seal(not a fury water creature but a member of the armed forces) HIS idea was “doesnt matter what caliber, it doesnt matte if its a 22, when shoot you twice in the chest and once in the head, your done” This bit of wisdom rings true. Get what you can get, get something reliable and then LEARN HOW TO USE IT! TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN@!! Training with ammo is not a waste of ammo. Skill is where its at people. If you have skills, you can pick up any gun and use it. Skills are the KEY. The only reservation I have about SHTF weapons selection is logistics. You can only stockpile so much and then if you have to leave, you can only carry so much. Get things that are common. I like Glock 40, every cop, security guard, and lots of private individauls have them so if you have to scrounge for ammo, the liklyhood of finding some is very high. 22s have a defininate place at the table. AR15 platforms because a huge number of other countries use them so even in a situation of invasion, one may be able to gather ammo and mags from the enemy

  13. Sound advice. I prefer to think in terms of function first, then firearm (rather than recommending a type of firearm to get first, then second, ect.). What do you see as the biggest survival task you want to address first? Home defense, defense while away from home, small game hunting, medium game hunting? That question tells you what to get first and what best options there are. For some people a handgun would come first and for others a 22 rimfire rifle would be the highest priority, etc.

    There is not much functional difference between high cost and moderate cost firearms, as you describe. The controversy tends to come in when people favor low cost over medium cost choices, because there can be some differences in function. Whether those are important differences is where the controversy comes in. People will get all bent out of shape if someone favors a break-open, single shot shotgun, a Mosin-Nagant rifle, and a Hi-Point handgun rather than the moderate priced options. If your n of 1 low cost firearm is reliable and you develop skill with it, then I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    Ammo, to me, is about training and comfort. I stock lots of practice ammo because it is one less barrier to practice time- feeling too cheap/broke to buy ammo is not a barrier. Premium hunting/defense ammo should be stored in whatever amount makes you comfortable. I would not pooh pooh on someone who says 50 or 100 rounds makes them comfortable any more than I would pooh pooh on someone for wanting several thousand rounds. I can’t possibly know how many rounds you might need for hunting or defense, so that is a very individualized choice.

  14. Very true , one doesn’t fit all . the old saying ,” the best one is the one thats in your hand when you need it ” , whatever it is . I personally dont like heavy caliber handguns , a 9mm will do just fine with more rounds just in case . Ammunition has come a long way , and will make your 9mm every bit as effective as the 45 . I also have a mini-30 , got it as a good general purpose carbine . Its small size is perfect for a backpack ( the main reason I got it ) I love it . Dirt simple , feels good , a joy to shoot , very reliable . Would highly recommend getting the acustrut stabilizer with it though . And again wide variety of ammo for 7.62×39 around . The 150 grain cor bon jsp hotload actually does quite a decent amount of damage . Shotguns ……. I have a couple standard sporting 12 gauge for the home . Not a fan of the 12 gauge as I dont like my shoulder being pounded on every time I shoot, so it pretty much stays inside . I get enough sore shoulder at the gym thank you . Maybe the modern ones have addressed that issue . Prefer the 410 , in the desert , your not going to be hunting anything very big anyway and for whats out there to hunt , the 410 is more than adequate . The rest of my guns are hand me downs of varying caliber from .38 special to 30-06 military . All good , but I have my favorites . I like to shoot , and have calibers that are pleasant to go out with a lot . Wont buy a bolt action or revolver , the army found out bolt actions suck during WW1 and got rid of them for the most part soon after . again its a preference .

  15. Red, White and Blue says:

    I have really enjoyed this post, partly because I have recently gone through a transformation in attempting to simply my survival battery and to refocus.

    Here are some additional thoughts.

    I believe that it is a priority to have a couple of semi-automatic rifles in .22LR. I would get (2) Ruger 10/.22 carbines with stainless barrels and synthetic stocks, additional full-size scopes, and slings. In fact, I believe that you should have a .22LR for EVERY member of your family that is capable of using them. Others I would consider are the Marlin 60 and the Marlin 70 “Papoose” takedown rifle. Additionally, it would be nice to have a non-semi-automatic that can handle subsonic ammunition.

    As for the shotguns, I believe the Mossberg 500 is the best value, and I really like the safety on the tang. It makes sense to get the 20 gauge for recoil, but if you do, I strongly suggest you picking up an additional 12 gauge pump (preferably a Mossberg as well), and make sure that you have at least one shotgun with a 18-20″ barrel and one with a 26″ barrel. I prefer the Mossberg 500 Combo kits that come with both.

    For the assault rifles, I suggest a couple of Saiga .223s. I would probably choose one with the 16″ barrel and one with the 20″ for versatility. I live in a heavily populated area. If I lived in a rural area with plenty of open space, I might consider the Saiga .308s instead (however, they are significantly more).

    As for a long-range bolt gun, I would probably get one in .30/06, as these can be readily purchased used at really good prices. If I chose the Saiga .308s, I would probably get one in .308, instead.

    As for your thoughts on a primary center-fired handgun. I have a tough time of choosing between semi-automatics and revolvers. I probably lean toward the semi-automatic, but I like that you can leave a revolver loaded without stressing springs, etc., and that they will fire just about any ammo. For a variety of reasons which I don’t want to go into, I believe that for a survival gun, a Glock is the best all-round choice that can be made. I might include one in my survival battery regardless what else I choose. And if so, I would probably choose a Glock 23 and get a 9mm conversion barrel and 11 lb. recoil spring. However, it wouldn’t be MY first choice, especially given that I would possibly have to carry it all the time. I’ve thought about the pros and cons and I really don’t like the fact that it doesn’t have a factory external safety. I guess I could get an aftermarket one, but I am not too comfortable with that. Because of that, I personally would choose the Ruger SR9. It would be a tough call between the Ruger SR9 or the FNH FNX 9. I like the way the SR9 feels the best (the newer ones with the better triggers are awesome and the price beats the FNX!), but I also like the FNX 9 with its safety/decocker. I like that it can be carried cocked and locked and that you can still use it as a double action handgun. However, due to availability, cost of parts. etc., I would shy away and get the Ruger. Unless FN was adopted by the military.

    I love revolvers, too. And you cannot beat their simplicity. If I chose the revolver route, I would probably choose two of the same type, but with different barrel lengths. I would probably choose two security/speed sixes in .357. One with have a 4 or 5″ barrel and night sights installed for my primary homestead, nightstand gun, and the other would be a carry with a 2 or 3″ barrel.

    So, would it be better to have two revolvers or semi-automatics? I don’t know. I would have at least one of each and probably 2 of whichever one I could shoot better, or I would shoot for 2 of each!

    As an afterthought, I would add a good stainless .22 handgun with at least a 5″ barrel and a scope that could be used for hunting small game and practicing. My preference would be either a Ruger Mark II or Mark III, but a double action, or even a single action revolver would fit the bill nicely, too.

    To sum it up, here is what I would get:

    (2) Mossberg 500 pump action shotguns in 12 ga (you can buy special shells with less recoil or one of those recoil dampening stocks and put on one of them)
    (2) Saiga semi-automatic rifles in .223, and I’d make sure to get a parts kit
    (1) Ruger SR9 and (1) Ruger SR9C (if the magazines are compatible), or just (2) of the same of either one
    (2) stainless Ruger SP101 revolvers w/ with a 3.06″ barrel in .357 / .38 with quality holsters and at least one with night sights
    (2) Ruger 10/.22 semi-automatic rifles w/ scope and sling
    (1) Ruger Mark II stainless pistol w/ scope and holster
    (1) Remington 700, Savage 110 variant, Ruger 77, Winchester 70, etc. bolt-action rifle in .30/06 or .308

    Two be honest, I would also want something else in a larger caliber handgun similar to the 9mm I had chosen (or the Glock 23) … Ruger SR40, FNX 40, FNP 45, XD45 w/ safety, etc. The only other thing I can think of would be a Saiga .308. If I got that, then the bolt action WOULD be .308

    For the bear minimum, I suggest:

    Mossberg 500
    Glock 19 or 23
    Saiga .223 or AR-15
    Ruger 10/.22
    Ruger .357 revolver

    • The 12 Ga or .357 might be effective against a bear; however, I think the vast majority of folks are much more likely to deal with MZB’s than bears.

    • How many bears are going to be a problem – (but to answer it – the 12 ga will speak with authority to bear attacks) – I think most are worried more about the zombie problem – cause them will sniff out food

      just sayin…

  16. Well written,makes a clear point,and some humor too. I would call that above average.
    Regardless of agreement/disagreement on selection he makes a very good point.


  17. Greetings, my friends,

    I partially agree with Leland except that I don’t care to invest in two of each firearm I have and then have so few rounds of ammo. Better to have enough ammo (do you ever have enough?) for each of your guns than to run out and still have several useless guns on hand. I live alone and am in no condition to bug out so will have to bug in. Hopefully I will never have to resort to firepower to protect myself and my castle but I want to be prepared if necessary. I have a Rock River AR, a Mossberg 930 tactical 12 ga. and a Para Ordnance hi cap pistol as well as a Ruger 10/22. I don’t feel under gunned but I don’t expect everyone to agree with my choices. They’re what I’m comfortable with. If, after I have all my other supplies and equipment that I need for TEOTWAWKI, Then I’ll think about possibly adding to my arssenal. Incidentally, I did buy two Mosin-Nagant rifles this week and four boxes of ammo but these are for give-aways in the event I run onto someone who is unarmed and needs a good, reliable rifle.

    Be prepared and God bless you all.


    • AZ Rookie Prepper says:

      “They’re what I’m comfortable with.” That is the key to my thinking too. I did not necessarily choose the firearms all the experts would have chosen, but got those that I am comfortable with also. They work well, dont give me problems, I am pretty darn accurate with them, and like you jaxhaus, now I can focus on beans, bullets and bandaids. If there’s time later and I feel like spending some $, might look at other firearms, but for now, I have what I feel is necessary. Good points.

    • With firearms and survival in general , safety (and options ) in numbers . I really feel for the guy or gal on their own alone when the SHTF . Frightening , lonely , and difficult .

  18. This is a very thoughtful post. I don’t know if many people would be able to buy two of everything, especially two of the same thing. It might be better to get bargains as they come up, and certainly you would need to plan for your specific family needs and geographic reality. The one thing I would want to get two of is what you would consider your primary concealable handgun in whatever you feel comfortable with and whatever you shoot best in at least .38 Special.

    I would probably also get a couple 12 guage shotguns because they are cheap enough, versatile, and good for hunting and defense and at least two semi-automatic rifles in 22. . After that, I would get a semi-automatic carbine and possibly a long-ranged rifle.

  19. Caoimhin says:

    I really think this is right on the money. I have many guns but only one of each. If I had these 6 guns I would have back up parts if one failed or was damaged. Tighter focus. Holsters, ammo, training/cross training etc. Great starting point. My friend has the Les Bare Thunder ranch AR. $2500. I could get those 6 guns for that this weekend at the Albuquerque gun show ($2500). Now I’m adding beans, rice, red chile powder, lard, salt and flour. Good shooting and good eating. See you all soon in the new Republic.

  20. Richard,

    Semi-automatics are important, because you don’t want to be outgunned, especially if you have multiple assailants. Other things are important as well. Range is important, because you certainly don’t want to be outranged, but it would be better to be the one with the longer range. And stopping power is important, because if you are lucky enough to get off the first shot, then you want it to end before your actions are reciprocated.

    You really only need ONE good gun you can shoot well. Well one you can shoot better than everyone else can shoot his or hers. Then you will have his or her gun and his or her ammo.

  21. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    I somewhat agree but it’s not always feasible to have 2 exacts. For instance I have 2 Glocks but of different sizes, one for deep CCW. They both take the larger magazines and both shoot the same caliber but perform different tasks.

  22. I understand the 2 is 1 rule, don’t want to be caught empty handed. I also took the liberty to purchase a set of spare parts for my (matching) rifle set. If there are any “weak spots” then all rifles may have it. A set of spare parts is cheaper then a whole rifle and worth considering before getting a second rifle.

    This article came a little late though – I already bought the “Autographed Rambo gun, rifle and knife – 15 piece – collection”.

  23. Rich Arland says:

    OUTSTANDING information! Spot-on! 99.999% of us are NOT SoCom Operators, nor would we want to be. Ergo, we do not need the high priced, over accessorized guns that the slick-cover gun mags tell us we need. After all, they are in business solely because of advertising…think about that next time you want to dump a couple of grand at the gun store! More to the point, most of the gun writers today do not make their living with the weapons that the hawk in print. Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, Peter Capstick, Rober Ruark; those guys used their guns every day. When they wrote an article you could bet the farm it was factual and “on target” (sorry about the pun!). In short, do you homework and buy ONLY what you really need not what some steroid enhanced Rambo wannabe tells you to buy!

    • Exactly !
      if i have to babysit the gun , I dont want it . The older military weapons tend to be better for ruggedness , and reliability ( talking Korea and further back )

  24. blindshooter says:

    I like firearms and have for a long time. I had a fairly large collection of good stuff until my recent financial troubles when I sold off the majority so I could continue to live, one more reason to own more than you NEED. I guess if you are not a “gun person” you may not feel comfortable “stocking” firearms. I am in the process of rebuilding my “stash” and I’ve found that with getting older my preferences have changed a lot so my forced rebuilding might not be such a bad thing after all.

    Leland is right about the mall ninja crap not being useful. I think some folks see our military people in house clearing mode with lights and reflex sights etc hanging on M4’s and think that is what you need to have. I can’t imagine dragging a AR that’s loaded with “stuff” through the woods where I live, you would be tangled up in wait a minute vines and briars so bad you’d ditch the assy’s quick. If you live in urban areas and intend to stay there the extra stuff might be OK. As he said “one size does not fit all” so getting what works for you and the area you are likely to be in is very important. I’ll have to sick with the 1911’s because of years of training and shooting them and I don’t want to start over with another platform. I can fix them when they break and keep spares on hand.

    I also second what some others said about selections that are pretty common. I pick weapons that our military use or at least have common parts that are numerous and easy to obtain and keep spares on hand. I hated the AR when I first started with it but have since become a reluctant fan in my old age and neck/spine trouble has set in.

    Lots of ammo is essential for the obvious reasons, training being number one and availability after a shtf situation. Maybe even trade?

    It’s hard for me to look at the question of firearms from the perspective of a new or casual gun owner so I try to remember that not every person I’m talking to has been reloading and shooting for 35 years. And yes I did buy stupid stuff when I first started just because I wanted to try everything that came along, wish I’d had someone older to help me avoid some of that, I’d have saved money and aggravation.

    I believe it was Mr. Lint that asked the ladies to comment on more of the firearm threads, I’d love to hear what the ladies here have decided on in the weapon dept. and how they got there.

    Thanks Leland for making me think some more!

    • The same type and caliber of weapon for each capable member of your family or group makes sense from a logistics standpoint.
      Ever try to use a glock 9 mag on a S&W 40 cal? Better everyone is
      one or the other.
      But if you have to work with an exception then plan accordingly.
      My beautiful bride JoJo has a hard time with the slide on the 40. If I rack it for her she is dead on with the 40. By herslf she can chamber a round but it is slow and not pretty. (After shoulder surgery a broken arm and wrist surgery her left arm is a problem). So we added a 38+P S&W revolver. With a 1 3/4 barrel it will also serve us well as a carry.
      So for us it’s a 38 on her side of the bed, a 40 on my side and another 40 back in the man cave (the far end of the RV). We also keep the extra ammo stored seperately to avoid confusion in the middle of the night.
      Ammo… I dont know if there is ever too much. I guess if it interferes with other prepping requirements then it could be a problem. However, it is clear that having one size when tshtf is easier, cheaper and less confusing then keeping two or more. Reality dictates that we have different weapons for different reasons. No single firearm does it all. I read a blog from a guy who was in Cairo earlier this year, as he put it, “the perfect gun is the one you have in your hand”.
      We have a Mossberg 500 with Riot, Bird and Deer barrels. A great home defense weapon that can also reach out and touch someone if need be.
      I want to finish up with a 22 LR with a good scope. It can bring home the small game and with its limited report and well placed rounds on an unsuspecting goblin one can serve as a sniper rifle.

      • Ron,
        You stated, “Ammo… I dont know if there is ever too much.”
        If the second floor room in which you store your ammunition starts to have structural issues from all of the weight, THEN you have too much ammunition (at least in one place) – LOL.

  25. Well thought out and presented well. I like your choices. I need to add a mini 30 or similar rifle. I have multiple high power hunting rifles. I can take care of things at a distance but need more firepower between 50 and 150 yards.

  26. I have to agree on the whole 1 is none, 2 is 1 mantra. That a spare parts kit and TRAINING to install those bits and pieces might be a better buy. I took the course from PCDI in Gunsmithing [no longer offered] and feel the knowledge gained more usefull and easier to carry than a spare gun. As for which one when, it depends, game, topography, defense all vary. So will your needs. Higher on my list is a .357 carbine to go with my revolver. Lacking training 2 might be better than 1 but it depends on how handy you are at fixing things. All in all a very well writen, and thought out piece

  27. Back in the late 1970’s Mel Tappan’s PS Letter had a lot of discussion on weapon selection but the one paragraph that really summed it all up for me was the following, “Out to 40 yards or so, a properly loaded shotgun is your surest defensive weapon – and a pistol, your most convenient. Beyond 150 yards a scoped, bolt action rifle would doubtless provide the greatest practical accuracy – and at that range you would have the time to employ it. But in that middle ground where you are apt to encounter multiple armed assailants close enough that even average marksmen are a serious threat, NOTHING ELSE even comes close to the effectiveness of a good semi-automatic fighting rifle, properly sighted.”
    Personal Survival Letter – Issue #11

  28. Tom the Tinker says:

    I… am a lucky fellow. Lucky I suppose because I started my prepping in the era of the survivalist movement. ( Who remembers the cover photo of the very first ‘Survivalist’ magazine… worn out looking balding fella with a Rem. pump 30-06 looking over the wall of a blown out house) I have traded for, bought, given away or sold every…. thing I have put away for the less kinder times I know will overtake me and mine.. and replaced them…. more than once and each time with something that would do the same job… only better quality.

    This Artical got me in the consolidation mood….. dump, sell, give away the redundent ‘stuff’. Good artical…. yeah. New information…. no. Thought provoking…. Oh yeah. I’m done! I have all the ‘hardware’ one could ‘Want’…. Need! oh hell yes.

    Leland S., thank you! The rest of you in here… Thank You. MD! Thank You. I do believe I’ll stick to training, skill development and rotating my ‘goods’.

    Well… Unless.. somebody can lead me to a nice semi-auto version of the old BAR for around 2 grand…… always wanted one of those.

  29. What is scary , is watching a “senior” who hasn’t handled any arms for 30-40 years or never has, go through a CCW class and fire at the range for maybe the first time. On our 12×12 paper at 5 yrds, he hit once out of ten with a 9mm, and hit 5 out of 10 with a 38spl.
    Lesson: train, train ,train,train, get accurate and comfortable regardless of caliber.
    The untrained walk among us.
    Most scavengers after a SHTF episode will not be trained either.

    • Ya , your talking housewife with a kitchen knife or keychain pepper spray , and office dude with a tire iron or baseball bat or swiss army knife .

    • WOW. In all my years of teaching I’ve only ever seen a few folks who couldn’t hit a 9″ paper plate at 15 or 20 feet. In fact 4 5-inch groups (2 from bench and 2 from offhand) are required to pass the course, so perhaps there’s incentive to pay more attention and have better concentration.

      • true that , but when it comes down to a real live human being and not a target , the ball game ( and your life ) has changed forever psychologically . Some will be able to shoot , some will choke , wont know till we’ve been there 😉

    • No, the scary should be the hat to the side , pants at half mast, twit with the brand new .45 glock as he asks me to help him load his “mag in his piece” – (I thought that a awful personal thing to ask a stranger) – then I looked at his clip – he had the bullets in backwards…….

      Just sayin….

  30. What we really need is the ability to visit a local range conveniently and easily, and the ability to “trade” our firearms easier. That way, we can REALLY practice and see what works. Heck, we might even know what parts to stock up on.

  31. Careful with the “two of everything” rule. I concur that extra parts and interchangeability is great, but if you live in a border state and buy two AK-anythings, your kiester will get reported. You will be a “straw buyer” waiting to happen a-la Holder and the ATF… might want to wait a few weeks in between identical purchases.

  32. Given our discussion last week, I thought I would write and inform everyone that Scotts toilet paper is on sale this week 12-pack for $6.99 at K-Mart.

  33. I had a productive week prepping, bought a water purification kit through cheaper than dirt for 30 bucks. It uses a silver impregnated ceramic filter and comes with everything you need except two clean food grade 5 gallon buckets. Also purchased additional ammo and a 5 round magazine for my AR15 which will allow me to hunt with it here in Florida legally. I added more stored food to the larder . Buying a few extras each week while doing the weekly shopping thing allows your food bank to add up quickly. Thanks to all who post on here and contribute ideas and suggestions.This is always a productive and informative group of folks!

  34. “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.”
    Thomas Jefferson

  35. El Tejano says:

    If you have the time, and want a hobby that pays you back, take up reloading. Save the brass from all the centerfire you shoot and pick up all that others leave. If the left over brass is not a caliber you shoot, you can trade it for brass you can use. I reload .45ACP for less than $0.20/round or $10.00 a box. Dealer/wholesale prices are typically $17.00 on up if you buy in bulk. Since I shoot about 200 rounds a month it didn’t take long to pay back the $100.00 I’d invested in equipment.

  36. El Tejano,

    How do you get started? Did you get a good reloading book? What equipment is needed?

  37. Well, I for the most part agree with MD mentioning of Kurt Saxon’s paper on “Fantasy & Weaponry.

    I differ a little on Mr. Saxons recommendation but I say 90%+ of what he has to say is right on target. The paper dates back to 1989 to early 90’s. Somethings have changed for the better since written in the handgun area.

    I by choice, go with a .357 Magnum revolver. But semi-auto handguns and their ammo have come a long way since the “Dark Ages” of the 70’s and 80’s when 99.5% of hollow point ammo was marginal at best and some semi-autos weren’t designed or refined as they are now .

    If you like a semi auto, get a semi-auto. Just commit your self to being the best shot you can be, with as few rounds fired as possible. Don’t piss bullets at a problem to make up for your lack of skill.

    Mr. Saxon warned against the .357 magnum revolvers due to their recoil working against one marksmanship ability. I beg to differ.

    Try to follow my logic. Next to a .22 LR handgun, the .357 magnum revolver is a great beginners handgun. The reason is it’s versatility. One can start learning to shoot with standard pressure rounds of .38 Special, then work up to +P’s, finally graduating to firing various levels of .357 Magnum rounds. One could also shoot lower power .38 Short and Long Colt rounds for real powder puff loads. If you want a real survivalist gun, send it to TK Custom guns for the moonclip modification, it will not only fire the rimmed .38’s and the .357 Mag, but also anything in the 9mm auto family of cartridges. 🙂

    The .357 Magnum 125 Gr. JHP, doing 1450 FPS will yields 585 FPE on target. The round shatters and stops in 12″ of flesh, reducing the chance of over penetration and maximum energy transfer in the bad guy. Mr. Saxon claims the recoil is too much to shoot effective.

    I’ve fired many a thousands of rounds of all types, perception wise I’ve shot the .38 SPL 158Gr. LSWCHP +P (the FBI load), the .357 magnum 158Gr. standard loads and the above mentioned 125Gr .357 mags.

    Perception wise the 158gr .357 Mag had the most recoil, then the .38 158Gr +P was next, with the 125 grain being the softest of the three. Hard to believe that how much difference 33 grains will recoil wise.

    The 158Gr .357 magnum in today’s pressure limits (33,000 PSI vs 40,000+ )is still too powerful for self defense. The 158Gr .38 +P is still the best street record as far as .38’s go, but lacks penetration against common barriers like car door’s and windshield glass. The 125Gr .357 Mag can penetrate and still do a reasonable good job after going through such obstacales. That’s why state troopers, and highway patrols were the last to turn in their .357’s for this reason.

    In closing on the .38 Vs. .357, you can always shoot .38 specials out of a .357 but, not the other way around. That and if your desperate for scrounged ammo and you find longer cased rounds (.357’s) you can still use them. All you have to do is cowboy up.

    As for the longer 6″ barrel, I don’t like the idea. For if your handgun just sits on the night stand come SHTF, it should do fine as long as your sleeping next to it. But a handgun is a convenience weapon, for one may find themselves doing a chore that requires two hands, and long gun may be “in the way” when a dangerous animal or hostile erect biped pays a visit, you may not be able to get to the rifle you put against the fence rail. A handgun can be at your side always, unless you left it on the night stand.

    That’s the problem with a 6″ barreled revolver is it a little long, especially when driving a vehicle or sitting. It also makes a quick draw harder. Yes it gives a little more zip (velocity) and sight radius but it does you no good if you don’t carry it!! In my state, the minimum barrel length my .357 Mag can be for lawful hunting is 5″ and without a special holster like the Gould & Goodrich K frame retention split front speed holster, you can get in a lot of trouble if the gun doesn’t rest in a low style cowboy thigh holster. I don’t hunt with handgun based on a old man saying, if you hunting for your dinner never use a handgun, when you can carry a rifle or shotgun.

    The more you shoot with a 3″ or 4″ duty style gun the more you can negate the longer sight radius advantage.

    The pump shot gun I have no bones about except get a interchangeable bird barrel and chokes for hunting.

    As for the rifle a bolt action .308 or .30-06 is a good choice, the only thing I don’t like is many of the bolt guns of today exclude “Iron sights” in lieu of having a glass scope. Problem is if it gets broken or you grab the wrong weapon as someone’s in the house, the rifle can be near useless. So I’m not saying don’t use a scope, just have a backup means of aiming it.

    For me I got a Marlin 336 in .30-30 Winchester for my needs for I don’t have a 60 yard shot on my property, never mind a 600 yard shot save for a tilled farmers field out of town. And god forbid I do have to shoot to save myself from injury or death, but the bad guy isn’t going to tell no tales, weather he’s hit by a .30-06 or the .30-30 for at close range ,it’s just as devestating. And contrary to popular belief the .30-30 can stop a man a lot further than 300 yards, with the right sights and practice.

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