My ‘Go-to-hell’ Bag and SHTF Gun Selection for TEOTWAWKI

by Michael

My ‘Go-to-hell’ Bag and SHTF Gun Selection for TEOTWAWKI

Bug Out Bag and SHTF Gun Selection for TEOTWAWKI

Image courtesy stock.xchng user haloocyn

I have followed with great interest all of the submissions for this writing contest, and have gleaned a tremendous amount of useful information. Thank you to those of you for taking the time to share your knowledge.

I am a combat vet and former public servant. I currently work in the healthcare field as an RN and Paramedic. I am married, a father of two boys and in my mid-forties. I have a college education, an honorable discharge and numerous other professional experiences and certifications, including but not limited to certified Interior Structure Firefighter, a CDL Class A driver’s license and a master bartender’s certification (hiccup). I am also a certified NRA Ranges Safety Officer and Small Arms Instructor. Enough of that, but I did just want to give you a little background on myself before continuing.

In the world of prepping, what motivates us, or better yet scares us to take measures to ensure self-survival is as varied as we are as individuals. There is an old adage that applies to preparation as it does to anything else; there’s a million and one right ways to do the same thing, and when we disseminate information for the benefit of our fellow man, we must keep that in mind. We need to present our knowledge in a way that is respectful and with the understanding that what may be ideal or perfect to you, may not be for someone else, and that HAS to be okay.

We all have so much to share and learn from each other, yet sadly time and time again in any thread in the forum, on any subject, there are those that seemingly always present their experiences and/or knowledge of a particular subject matter as indisputable fact, to the point of being disrespectful, and often times downright indignant when an opposing idea or thought is presented to them.

I am baffled by that mindset and I try to address it every time I encounter it. I am sure each of you have seen it occur as often as I have, and I hope you’ve taken the opportunity to engage the offender in a constructive way, taking the opportunity to remind them that the purpose of the site is to inform and support each other in preparation for any possible SHTF or TEOTWAWKI scenario we may encounter. The world in which we live is challenging enough as it is.

Daily we encounter those that wish to discount what we do as insane, and to ridicule us at every opportunity. A fine example of this is the television show currently on the National Geographic channel; ‘Doomsday Preppers’. It is my opinion this show does more harm than good, and takes every opportunity to highlight those who are on the extreme fringes of what prepping is all about.

We do not need to be seen in that light, nor do we need to berate each other within our own ‘family’ on this site. In fact, there are many ‘users’ who post with regular frequency that quite simply scare me, and certainly annoy me. So much so, that I would view them cautiously in any real world scenario. We need to combat negativity at every turn, and encourage great camaraderie through positive information sharing, and guidance to all members.

Many times I see a new member eagerly post a question and instantly get berated with ‘OMG, this topic again?’ type replies/responses. Why is this? What is the satisfaction from berating a new member; any member? How much effort does it take to either, A) Answer the question, or B) Politely direct them to existing threads and posts on the subject matter, or C) Simply do not even respond if it irritates you that badly. We are better than that and need to make sure we lead the way in a positive manner at all times.

Getting off of my high horse now, I’d like to share with you my thought process behind my ‘Go-to-hell’ bag and weapon selection for a TEOTWAWKI and/or SHTF event, with the hope of possibly making you take pause and reassess your own arsenal in a beneficial way, or help you create one from scratch. Remember, though, this is what works for ME, based on the experiences in life I’VE had, and based on MY personal preferences and observations. It is NOT foolproof, and is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but it may be solid plan for those of you in the region/environment I am presently in, and could be good starting point for those of you new to this aspect of preparing.

Living in the Northeast; specifically the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, I have to ensure that the weapon I select for defensive, and if necessary, offensive purposes is suitable for this harsh, unpredictable environment. Initially, I set out to find a ‘one-does-all’ weapon, but quickly discounted that mindset and reverted to the ‘different jobs; different tools’ line of thought.

As I think is the case with most of us, we develop a fondness and proficiency with certain weapons and it’s often hard to look beyond those favorites, but you have to find a way to impartially assess your arsenal and determine if it’s adequate for the perceived task. If it is, great and congratulations; if it isn’t, you need to prioritize this part of your preparation simply for the fact that if you cannot defend yourself, your property, your family and your stores of supplies adequately, you’ve essentially prepared for nothing. Regardless of where you live, you will be threatened. You will be challenged. Someone will attempt to take what you have. Prioritize your arsenal ahead of any other purchase.

Selecting your weapon(s) begins with questions and assessments. Your assessment and questions begin with your location. What is the terrain? Are you rural, suburban, city or a mix? What is your primary need of a weapon(s), i.e. hunting or defense? Your secondary need? You need to do a little investigating and determine what the law enforcement and military presence is in your community, as well. Take time to find out what the caliber is of the side arm your local and state law enforcement agencies use. Chances are it’s going to be 9mm and/or .40S&W, but you may encounter .357 Sig and the occasional .45ACP. Find out what they use for SWAT calibers in their long arms; chances are that’s going to be a mix of 5.56 (similar to .223), and 7.62×51 (.308). I have seen some agencies fielding the 7.62×39, but that’s a rarity. They will all likely have shotguns in their employ and probably of the 12 gauge variety. The military will be fielding weapons primarily of the 9mm, 5.56 and the 7.62x51flavors.

Before you continue, plant in your conscious psyche right now that as far as weapons and calibers are concerned, promise yourself you won’t get caught up in the group that likes to make a particular caliber something it isn’t, and that can be in a good or bad way. Use calibers and weapons for what they are, not for what they aren’t. Make informed decisions and plan accordingly. Make choices based on what your needs are, in the region in which you reside, and for the purposes you expect to need the weapon(s) for. There is no ‘one’ gun for all tasks. There are many suitable ones, though. View them as tools, and your arsenal as a toolbox. How many toolboxes have you seen with just one tool?

The prevailing ‘official’ calibers in almost every community, rural or otherwise, are the 9mm, the .40S&W, the 5.56 and the 7.62×51(.308). Are these my favorite calibers? Not necessarily. I’m a dinosaur and in a side arm, I love, love, love the .45ACP and the .357 Magnum. In rifles, I’m a huge fan of the 30’06. However, those calibers, while popular and seemingly abundant right now, will be scarce, if not almost non-existent when things crap out. The likelihood of coming across those calibers and calibers like the 30-30, .243, .270, etc., will be near impossible if you do not already have a huge personal cache of ammo. However, the 9mm and other calibers mentioned above are going to be found abundantly at armories, police stations, and as ‘combat/battlefield casualty litter’; sad but true.

Next, you have to consider the prevailing firearms. In side arms, it’s estimated that 60% of U.S. LEOs use some variation of the Glock. The State Troopers in my state have moved to the S&W MP .40, while local LEOs carry the Glock 22. The state to my immediate south, Massachusetts, moved their State Troopers to the S&W MP .45ACP. The VT National Guard, as does the regular Army and most other branches, carries the Beretta 92FS in 9mm and the M4 in 5.56. What did I do with this information? I prepared long term based on the most commonly encountered weapons and calibers in my region. I acquired them, learned them and have become proficient with them. For my side arms, I utilize the Glock 33, the Glock 23, the S&W MP .45ACP and a S&W Model 28-2 Highway Patrolman .357 Magnum. For my long arms, I utilize an AR-10 (7.62×51), a Mossberg MVP Predator in 5.56 (a bolt gun that uses regular M4 magazines of any capacity). For intermediate ranges out to 200 meters, I use the VZ58 in 7.62×39.

Why the Glocks? First, I hate all things polymer, I just do, but you cannot overlook their simplicity, their durability and the abundance of parts available. The Glock 33 is a subcompact chambered in .357 Sig. However, with the simple change of a barrel, I can also use .40S&W ammunition flawlessly. With the change of a barrel and magazine, I can run 9mm through it flawlessly. I have it set up to run 9mm Hornady Critical Duty 135gr +P and it resides in a flap holster on my molle chest rig, along with the other barrels and additional mags. I also have a slide and mag in my ruck that allows me to run .22LR through it. It’s my backup gun capable of handling the 4 different calibers I’m likely to encounter and keeps me in the fight. The S&W MP .45ACP rides in an M12 holster as a thigh rig and serves as my primary side arm in any SHTF situation. The Glock 23 is my EDC (everyday carry) and it, too, is capable of firing the .357 Sig and 9mm, along with its original OEM configuration for .40S&W. I have it set to run the 9mm Hornady Critical Duty 135gr +P, too, as it’s my preferred self-defense round. The Glock 23 usually spends its days lounging away in the small of my back. The S&W .357 Magnum wheel gun resides in my ruck, along with four pouched speed loaders. An undisputed awesome round, having that wheel gun on me is a huge piece of mind. More than that though, it also fires the .38 Special. See where I am going with all of this? With four handguns, I have 6 calibers covered: the .22LR (which I hear the FBI claims has killed more people and animals than all other calibers combined), .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .357 Sig, .40S&W, .45ACP.

For the same reasons as the handguns, I based my choices on my rifles: the availability of ammo of chosen calibers, lethality of selected rounds, likelihood of encountering spare parts, magazines, etc., The 7.62×51 (.308) gives me long range hunting and defensive capabilities in a proven platform. The 5.56 with 20” barrel gives me the stability and increased performance of a bolt gun with the capacity of an M4, using M4 mags.

It is utility round capable of performing almost any task I ask of it out to 500 meters. Those two reside at home. The VZ58 is absolutely my personal favorite weapon. I have an aftermarket heavy duty adjustable folding stock on it, along with an upgraded front upper and lower hand guard. I’ve kept it iron sights only and it’s deadly accurate. I bust clay pigeons all day long at 125 meters. Chambered in the under-appreciated and grossly misunderstood 7.62×39 round, it is deadly capable and is my primary ‘go-to-hell’ weapon. The appearance to an AK47 is where the similarities end.

In fact, they share ZERO interchangeable parts. The action is similar to the simplicity of the SKS, and maintenance requirements are almost nil. If you are not familiar with one, I recommend you check one out. Its accuracy at ranges fewer than 200 meters is comparable to any AR plat-formed rifle. In my environment, not many opportunities to fire beyond 200 meters exists or is needed, and unless I’m hunting, I will avoid unnecessary contact that poses no immediate threat to me, making the 7.62×39 round perfect for my everyday need.

Its reliability, in my opinion, far surpasses the Stoner system, of which I really have nothing bad to say, other than regular fouling that may not always occur at a convenient time, as many my illustrious ‘brothers-in arms’ can testify to! Built to fire the steel cased combloc ammo, with extremely available and affordable spare parts, it is the gem of my personal arsenal. With 30 round magazines, the $4.19 122gr HP ammo is not painful to the wallet to shoot and stockpile. In addition the loaded VZ mags on my chest rig, I have a full reload of 330rds in my ruck, and 5K rounds spread between home and where I intend to rally/bug-out to.

Lastly, I have the venerable Winchester 1200 12 gauge pump shotgun that actually saw action in ‘Nam with my Dad (R.I.P.), with extended capacity and an aftermarket skeleton stock I added, along with a rifled slug barrel. It, too, lives at home, loaded with low recoil Triple OOO buckshot, standing its silent vigil ever so faithfully as it has for nearly 40 years now.

On my USGI chest rig, I use Condor Kangaroo style dual mag pouches, one left of center of chest rig, one right of center. In these I get a total of 4 VZ mags and 4 pistol mags. In the middle I use a USGI triple pouch mag carrier that I get 6 VZ mags into. Above that is a triple pouch pistol mag carrier that houses two mags and two other barrels. To the right of that pistol mag carrier is the flap holster that carries the Glock 33.

On my belt is the thigh rig with the M12 holster holding the S&W MP .45ACP. At the top of the M12 extension is a triple pistol mag holder that holds mags for the MP .45ACP. This set up gives me two handguns with the capability to fire 4 different calibers. It also gives me 10 loaded VZ mags. Including the mags in the weapons themselves, I have 330 rounds of rifle ammunition and 150 rounds of handgun ammunition, encompassing a total of four different calibers; oh, and my Kabar Sheath Knife, too.

This is my primary bug out load/vest and is complimented by my old school Alice pack, which contains a selection of critical replacement weapon parts, the wheel gun, 5 to 7 days of caloric sustenance – stretchable to 10 days, including water and water purification, first aid, fire capability, two camo woobies, two camo ponchos, USGI sleeping bag and USGI 4 season tent, several hundred feet of paracord, compass, an emergency radio and transceiver walkie-talkie, local maps for the surrounding 50 miles, a main set and a change of BDUs, three pair of socks, my Belleville 650 boots, M65 with liner, tuque, gloves, flashlight, binoculars, a small fishing and trapping kit, one week worth of meds, a fifth of Jim Beam Black in a plastic bottle and a pack of Winston Red’s, in the box.

This set-up fits nicely in the cross box of my pickup truck, and remains ready to go and untouched, with the exception of range time with the weapons and change out of food products periodically. I can grab the chest rig, ruck, and rifle in a matter of seconds, and be kitted up shortly after that. The total weight is not much over what I remember my combat load out weights being, and I’ve carried this up and down the Appalachian as a test to see if I still had the physical ability. I was pleasantly surprised that with a little weight shifting, I could comfortably carry it.

What I have shared with you here is my personal preferences, based on the logistical challenges and opportunities of where I live, and what my ultimate mission is I hope to accomplish when the ‘balloon goes up’. My setup is designed to get me in or out of the fight regardless of where I am, keeping me self-sufficient in any environment for up to 10 days with nothing else needed from anyone, allowing me to focus on my primary goal of getting back home by any means necessary, and putting my family’s long term action plan in gear. My wife is similarly equipped. My boys reside out of state, but logistics are in place to ensure we eventually link up.

We keep our preparations low key, and have a small network of like minded individuals within a 50 mile radius. We have the ability to ‘bob and weave’ as necessary, should we need to avoid hostile contact of an invading enemy force, roving gang, or zombies, with caches of extra supplies and ammo strategically located and accessible within a day’s hike in most directions, in most weather conditions. Everything I have written here is usually a contentious and hotly contested topic. It shouldn’t be that way because it is completely speculative at best and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality is simply absurd. All I can do, and hope I have done, is share with you what I do, and why.

I hope this has been informative, entertaining and thought provoking.

Good luck, God Bless, and keep your powder dry… times they are a changin’!

This contest will end on February 16 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first… Yes


  1. Tinfoil Hat says:

    You fool! You sheeple! You’re nothing but ZOMBIE FOOD!! How can you POSSIBLY expect to survive carrying Jim Beam??? EVERYONE knows that Wild Turkey is the ONLY Bourbon that will get you through TEOTWAWKI!!!

    LOL, I’m sorry, I had to do it..

    In all seriousness, great article! Excellent preface to it as well! Just a question though, no .22 rifle for small game?

    Great submission. Happy New Year!

    • Good one, Tinfoil! Made me spit coffee all over my laptop … Glad you enjoyed the article.
      I do have a .22LR upper slide assembly and mag for one of my Glocks’ , and there is a OEM 10/22 with several standard Ruger 10rd and 25rd mags stored in an ‘ALOKSAK’ at the place we would bug-out to permanently, if that move became necessary.
      I will heed your advice post haste and add a bottle of Wild Turkey to my ruck ASAP!

      • Surviving in Ky. says:

        Hey Michael, Don’t pay no attention to Tinfoil, he’s new to these here parts and don’t know they’re both Ky. Bourbon. He’ll be alright after a sip or two. Great post, enjoyed the detail and the thought behind it.

  2. riverrider says:

    well written, well thought out system. i wouldn’t be able to carry it myself, but more power to you. i’m still struggling with 9 vs 45. like you, 45 is my baby but might not be the best choice on the run, ammo scrounging or capacity wise. sometimes i want to sell everything n start over.

    • Tinfoil Hat says:

      I have both too, but I just can’t give up the .45. Something comforting about that huge honking round on my side of the fight. It’s one of those “should I take the ______ or the _______, aw heck, I’ll just have to take ’em both”

      • Surviving in Ky. says:

        Tinfoil, Sounds like the 4 of us are going with both, 9mm/.45. 1911’s and Glocks, love both of them, I mean all of them:) Oh, I let Michael know you was new to these here parts and after a sip or two you wouldn’t care if it was Jim Beam. It’s all good!

    • For 9mm ammo options, check out Hornady’s 135gr + P Critical Duty offering. After trying many rounds in multiple calibers and platforms, I find the Critical Duty to be an awesome round.
      Go watch this video to see it in action by a guy on YouTube that calls himself ‘TNOUTDOORS’. He has what I consider the most unbiased and professional video review of numerous types of ammo available.

      As well, check out:
      This guy makes some really hot ammo in most popular calibers. I just ordered dome of his 115gr +P+ that he claims has a muzzle velocity of 1400fps and 501 ft lbs. That’s approaching .357 Magnum territory. That kind of power, with the capacity of my 9mm magazines intrigues me. If they perform that well when I get to chrono them myself, I may have a new defensive/offensive round.
      Check out their .45ACP offerings, too. I ordered a box of his 185gr +P to test. The site claims they are sending the Golden Saber bonded jh down range at 1200fps with 592 ft lbs. If true, I may have a new round for my .45, too.
      I, too, have run the realm of buying and selling handguns, trying to focus on ‘need’ and ‘task’, without considering ‘choice’ or ‘preference’. Tough, ain’t it?
      Thanks for the comment and I am glad you enjoyed the article.

      • riverrider says:

        i have used a bit of underwood ammo as well, very snappy. i’m very happy with it. my brain says 9mm, i have a m9 and a keltec sub2k that use the same mag for pete’s sake, but my heart goes back to the 1911. i literally cut my teeth on it. dad’s got the pictures:) decisions, decisions….

        • Check out a JRT GEN2 Carbine. They make one in .45ACP that I do believe takes 1911 mags …
          A 1911 was issued to me when I enlisted at the ripe old age of 17 and it was the first handgun I became proficient with. I’ve had, and have many vaiations/makes of 1911’s and just added a Remington R1 to the collection; the 1911 is what, a hundred and 10 years old now? Something like that? For good reason, too, and I hated the day went to the M9, though I do like my 92FS.

  3. Please tell me you meant Johnny Walker Black and Marlboros, otherwise this post is worthless.

    Just kidding Michael, and that’s certainly an impressive survivalist resume you have. I too get tired of the “if you’re not doing it this way, you’re doing it wrong” comments. For one thing, anyone that can post the details of their SHTF plan on the internet without getting a visit from a 3/4 letter agency might not be thinking far enough outside the box. The best, and safest, way to formulate a plan is around a campfire and over a couple beers, imo of course.

    Everyone’s situation is unique, like you said there is no “one-size-fits-all approach”. There’s also the exact nature of the SHTF event to consider as well. Planning for a economic collapse is a lot different than preparing for nuclear war. A biological attack might kill a lot of preppers before we even know we were attacked, in which case weapons would be a waste of money. Surviving might require beans, bullets, and a bunker – or maybe it’ll require gasmasks, gold, and get-your-butt-a-thousand-miles-away to survive. Who can say for sure now?

    I wouldn’t argue any point you make. Not all of it is a good fit for me, but then I’m not you. It’s all well thought out and worthy of intelligent discussion however. Happy New Year all.

    • Good points Red. The only reason I always stress Weapons and Medical Supplies is that they are the last thing (IMHO) you should improvise. Even if you are a mixed martial arts master or ER doctor, you should improvise only as a last option. Better to have the right tools. The reason I mention this is the # of people I know who would rather use the money to buy food for there neighbors.

    • Between you and Tinfoil, my laptop doesn’t stand a chance! I’m not sure how many times I can spit coffee on it before it craps out on me.
      Johnny Walker and I are old friends, and in your honor, as I did for Tinfoil, I will add a pint of JW to my rucksack, and give a nod to the heavens on your behalf should I ever find myself enjoying it. As for the Marlboros; you sir, are a man amongst men. I picked up a pack of the red box Marlboros once upon a time … once. Hahahaha.
      You are absolutely correct in pointing out the importance of what type of SHTF scenario you expect to encounter in your particular environment/location, and that it should dictate the order/style of preparation. I try to take a generic approach and be prepared for something as simple as an extended power outage due to weather, or to the opposite extreme of something like a total collapse of our society. Because I am on the road more than I am at home, I put great importance on what I have with me daily in my vehicle, and have it geared for 7 to 10 days to get me home, or some other destination, totally independent, and totally indifferent to what scenario has forced me to turn to it.
      As you already know, I do not share your opinion of weapons being a waste of money, simply because we do not know what event, or combination of events will trigger us into action. Because of all the ‘what if’s’, I try to prep in a balanced fashion, so that I am prepared regardless. Lastly, my ultimate desire is that some day, a great-great-grandson may stumble across my cache of goodies and wonder what type of psychopath I was!
      Thanks for your comment and I am glad you enjoyed my submission.
      Lastly, I have in reserve a single .40SW hp, that I will tape to a box of Marlboros that I intend to purchase tomorrow in your honor. When it gets to the point that I am desperate enough to actually consider puffing those ‘cowboy killers’, I have an out! 😉

      • “Lastly, my ultimate desire is that some day, a great-great-grandson may stumble across my cache of goodies and wonder what type of psychopath I was!”

        Great…. Now I too have to clean up Mt. Dew off the monitor. I am going to have to quote this one often. Love it!

        • Quote away!
          Another I like to use is “My greatest fear of dying before my wife is that she’ll sell all of my guns for what I told her I paid for them!” and “For as many times as I have been up Shit Creek, you’d think I’d remember to bring a paddle.”

          • Rider of Rohan says:

            A paddle? How about a boat? As for the guns, you are right on target. Funny stuff.

  4. MY God! Alcohol in plastic! What are you thinking; it will be almost undrinkable within 5 minutes! You should leave that for me. Kids!

    I agree with you on the differences of gun selection. I have gone through so many handguns, I could be debt free by now. I have not tried the M&P series pistols, I prefer Glocks, but my hand keeps going back to my 1911.

    My GHB has a 357 trapper rifle and a 2.75″ Ruger 357 revolver. I couple that with a Walther 22 LR, with a 5″ thread protector, and that covers everything I can think of in that situation.

    I have converted my hunting rifles to 308, although I do have a 30-06 due to ammo availability here. ANd lots of 22’s. Most defensive pistols are 9mm, and have cycled through several brands over the years.

    As I get older I have gone from Bug-out to “Bunker In”. Bug out is still there and an option, but not my 1st.

    You have definately touched on some “hot button” topics. I’ll give someone my opinion, but tell them if it’s not a good fit, and you dislike shooting it, you won’t practice and get good.

    • Yeah, I like the ‘bugin’ concept, too, and am fortunate enough to be in a locale that that may actually be possible.
      I’ll look into alternative vessels for my whisky, hmmm … wonder if I can freeze dry it???
      I, too, love a 1911 platform and will recommend that you do try out a M&P. It’s everything Glock is and isn’t, with the beauty of being American made. The M&P is completely field servicable, including the slide rails. Glocks, while modular and prevalent, embed their rails into the polymer frame, just like Taurus and most other manufacturers do. I don’t like the M&P’s trigger much, but have ‘peaked & tuned’ it and have become accustomed to it. Make no mistake, I do enjoy my Glocks, too, and with either my G23 and 33, I have the capability of .22LR, 9mm, .40 and .357 Sig.
      My wife is damn near ‘anti-gun’, and in times past, it was a source of contension between us. Finally, I told her that I didn’t need her to like them or love them, but that I did need her to know how to use and understand them. I started her out using my combo .22LR/.22WMR revolver and 10/22, easing her up to her own G23 set up for 9mm for now, and her own 9mm carbine on an AR platform. Slowly her competive nature won her over and she usually shoots when I do. That said, though, you are on the money when you said people are less likely to practice with something they hate or are uncomfortable with. I always get a kick out of the guys that arm their spouses or gf’s with a hogleg wheel gun in .357 Mag or .44 Mag first time out, and then wonder why they can’t get them to shoot anything else ever again.
      Have a safe and happy New Year, my friend! Thanks for the input.

    • axelsteve says:

      In my location it would be 45 acp with a 06 a 12 guage and a couple or few 22 lr that makes the most sens.A marlin 30/30 and a sks would also be good choices.I am not x military so I do not plan on looking ex mil or mil or leo.I would rather be gray and blend in but,to each his own.

  5. salt & prepper says:

    Ho, ho, hum ….

    • You came up with this all by yourself? I am so proud of you! Tomorrow we’ll let you play with crayons, and if you try your very, very best to not go potty in your pullup Pampers, we’ll even let you take your helmet off for a little while. In the meantime, quit playing on your Dad’s computer and give your sister her skirt back, though I’m sure it’s very pretty on you. Now scoot along … good boy, good boy …

  6. Enjoyed your article. I agree (for whatever that’s worth) on most points.
    I too love the Win1200/12GA. Prefer it to the 870. I’ve heard others praise the Vz58. Unfortunately it’s totally banned in my state. How have you found the Mossberg Predator? I agree with you on the 243/270. However if they are secondary arms they will do for those with recoil limitations. As for the 30/30. I doubt that it will be in short supply. I judge this by range observations. I rarely saw 243/270’s at any range. 30/30 on the otherhand was always common. I like your handgun caliber choices. But I am a Sig/1911 man. And the 92 rocks. I would add a 22lr rifle. I like the 10/22 myself.
    I prep for SHTF events. TEOTWAWKI, not so much. My health precludes long term survival in that event. Even having trouble with recoil now.
    I would enjoy any reply/rebuttle you care to make.

    • Sorry to hear about your health … Though in generally good health now, I experienced an OJT injury that resulted in 13 operations and 2 years of rehab, so in some fashion, I can relate to your dillemma.
      As far as recoil goes, if I were you, I’d take a look at a pistol caliber carbine. I have pistol caliber carbines in 9mm, .40 & .45. I can penetrate three 1 gallon jugs of water at 100 yards with the .40 carbine, plus, it uses the same mags as my Glock 23. There are several available. My personal fave is my JRT Gen2 .40S&W carbine. It resembles an AR platform and actually shares interchangeable parts, and again, it’s fed by the same mags as I use in my Glock 23. There are also 22 round mags avail for it, too. The .40 could serve you well for most purposes on anything under a 100 yards. After that, I don’t know, but I do know I don’t want to be in front of it at any range! You could also look at some autoloaders from just about any manufacturer as far as shotguns are concerned. Stepping down to a 20 gauge gives you 90% of what you get from a 12, with only 60% of the recoil. Rossi has resumed production of a carbine that is a wheel gun at heart, and can chamber 45LC and .410, maybe even .45ACP, too. That could be a very versatile weapon for you with low recoil. Buckshot from a .410 at 30yds is almost equal to being hit with three slugs from a .357 Mag simultaneously.
      Up here the 30/30 is the underdog, and the other calibers are prevalent, but again, as common as those rounds appear now, in any significant SHTF scenario, you’ll be harder pressed to find those than the other ‘official’ calibers.
      I gotta tell ya’, I love the Mossberg Predator. It’s available in 18.5, 20 and 24 inch barrels. I took the 20 incher because ballistics wise, the 5.56 gains no benefit coming out of a 24″ barrel, whereas it gains almost 200fps and 50ft lbs coming out of the 20″ versus the 18.5″ barrel. I am not crazy about the bolt design, but 2K rounds thru her has not revealed any issues. I find I favor the 20rd mags over the 30rd mags for many reasons, primarily when going to a prone position. It has its supporters and its detractors, as all things do, however for me, it’s a go. I love it and I love the 5.56.
      One more thing about recoil, choose quality of shot placement over quantity of lead thrown down range. Make no mistake, suppressive fire en masse has its purpose and place, but 9.9 times out of 10, the environment you and I find ourselves in will not require any prolonged amount of cover fire. So go with quality of shot placement and a low recoil weapon. I guarantee you that two or three .22LR rounds in the thoracic triangle of a bad guy, or one in his eye, is really, really going to give him a less than pleasant experience. Ruger finally began making their own 25rd mags for the 10/22 and NOBODY I know wants to be on the receiving end of 25 of them fast little f*****s.
      Damn, as I just wrote that, there are some real nice .22WMRs out these days, too, now THAT’S an underappreciated little cartridge and worthy of consideration.

  7. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Good article and good advice. I believe DH and I did our homework. Although our choices aren’t exactly the same as yours, we realized we needed to have the right tools for the jobs we are facing.

    • Yup, and that’s the daunting part … determining which tasks we’ll be faced with and prioritizing our prepping around it.

  8. Excellent article. I think your intro could have been an article of its own – there really is no need to diss someone for his/her opinion and experiences. I also like how you explain the logic behind how to make certain choices. Since what works best in your area might not work here, all that is needed is to apply the logic to your specific circumstances.

    • I am going to assume GA is for Georgia and RED refers to the fabulous red dirt of the foothills … I am a SC native myself, from Walhalla, Charleston and the Myrtle Beach area.
      Logic appears to be a waning attribute these days. As an RN and Paramedic, I am baffled by the thought process of some people in some very serious positions that I encounter daily. I say baffle here lightheartedly, but in reality, it scares the shit out of me.

  9. Gary Olson says:

    Since the DHS has just provisioned itself with a horde of .40S&W ammunition, I suggest this will have better scavenging success. The local LE will more likely barricade and fortify (see Hurricane Sandy and the NYPD); while FEMA will be ineptly unavailable and their supplies less secure.

    If the current run on ammunition is any indication, 30-30, 30-06, 7mm and other less mainstream rifle rounds will be easy to scavenge. As a backup rifle, I chose a Winchester lever in 30-30 Takedown — compact, lightweight, and easy to carry in a backpack by a smaller person. And those buckhorn sights have no breakable glass or batteries.

    Jim Beam?! Oh my. This is one item where you could choose to show some sophistication over pure practicality. Woodford Reserve please.

    • You, Sir, have offended my whisky sensibilities. How DARE you tarnish the good name of Jim Beam Black by using it simultaneously with the disasterous concoction of horse dung known as ‘Woof’-ford Reserve?
      May all of your guns jam and your food spoil …
      Wait! On second thoughts, I will acquire some … should make an excellent fire starter … 😉

  10. Rob in Ontario says:

    Great article — never thought to look into local calibers used by LE, hand guns are not as easy to come by here but its possible , and have to think of a way to add Crown Royal to my bag, and your right what weapon you would best need in a city is different from the bush to farmland – which here is all with in a few miles – I have 3 -.22( two are old bolt action) one semi- two bolt action rifles one is 30-06 and a 6.5×55 I know its uncommon caliber was one my father got just hate to get rid of it – have 3 – 12ga, and 2 SKS 7.62×29 and several .177 pellet guns for small game not to bad of an approach to cover most everything-

    • You know, that .177 pellet gun ain’t a bad idea, or maybe one in .22. They have some pretty serious ones out and about these days that could have some real practical applications. Great, I can hear my wallet screaming now…

  11. MountainSurvivor says:

    I’m sticking with the shotgun for it’s ability to spray like a skunk, lol. I appreciate your insight on the guns because I will be heading that way if the shelves haven’t been emptied before I get there, I like the ALICE for more of a personal use than entirely for weapons and you know you have the right setup with supplies available within hiking distance; saving the back and energy reserves without overload taking over is important when you must pack the weight of your protection and ammo.

    • You know, if pressed against the corner, and could only choose/reach one gun, I’d have to say it would be my Winchester 1200.
      My carry weight right now is manageable, and it’s a little less than my old combat load out days, but that will not be the case as I age, and that was the motivation for setting up resupply points. I have prioritized weapons because where I live, even in peace time, law enforcement assistance is a minimum of 45 minutes away, regardless of the nature of the assist, unless by fluke, a trooper happens to be nearby. For as peaceful and rural as Vermont is, it has its seedy underbelly, too, and quite a large addiction problem. It’s also a major corridor for illicit drugs to and from Canada. With weapons, I can defend, offend, and eat (hunting, etc). Without them, I am a little more vulnerable than I care to be.

  12. Good post, thanks. I’d be curious to know what holster you use with the G23.

    • I have several for EDC that I rotate through but for my vest, I use a Condor M10 flap holster. Much like the USGI issued M12, just a little smaller. My fave EDC holster is an OD green paddle holster made by G-Code. The model number for mine is G-A0013. I prefer its retention system over Fobus and Blackhawk, and I like that whatever fits the 23 also fits the 33.

  13. Good food for thought. I was looking to get a 308 but I made up my mind a little too late. Now you cant find an AR10 anywhere thanks to CT. I really like the auto load with mag capabilities of the AR10. Guess I’ll have to keep looking for something else.

    • Don’t overlook the .308 bolt guns out there, my friend. The Scout .308 uses standard 308 mags and is an excellent weapon. Savage puts out an accutrigger model, with iron sights and Hogue OD Green stock called ‘Hog Hunter’. It’s a fab little rifle chambered in .223, .308 and .338 Lapau. Food for thought, buy a rifle that has iron sights, and avoid any optics that require batteries.

      • The only thing I don’t like about the bolt guns is time to reload. If the S really does HTF then I want something with a little higher rate of fire. I do have plans on getting a 7mm Mag for those longer range deer shots 🙂

        I will keep an open mind though… who makes the Scout that takes mags?

  14. Great article, i agree with your post on…….. you should do it my way because thats what works for me or else your a fool. Like you said everyones situation is different from where there located to family etc so everyone has to find what is the best for them to do it. Read forums and learn things that other people do and if it works for you great.

    I take the same approach to wepons that you do, I look at what I’m likly to find/aquire in my area.
    One thing you may want to add to your bag asprin or Tylenol, something to take the edge off sore feet and muscles.

    Great post I enjoyed the reading


    • Thanks for the input my friend … I kinda grouped all of that under the ‘meds’ word. I have aspirin, generic Flexiril (a mild muscle relaxant), Tramadol (moderate pain killer), ibuprofen and an otc generic pain killer that contains acedametaphine, aspirin and caffeine.
      Like you, I like to know who is using what for weapons and calibers around me. Nothing would suck more than be 30 miles from home when the ballon goes up and realize that the revolver chambered in .45LC was a bad choice for EDC when your six rounds are done!

  15. We call it our WDEK, Worst Day Ever Kit. It has items to both take and save lives.

    And it’s Johnny Walker BLUE and some great cigars. 😉


    • Johnny Walker Blue? Is that the color people turn when they drink it and asphyxiate? Now the cigars … that’s a good suggestion I will abide by!
      I like that you’re thinking/prepared for both roles. I intend to be very selective of who I will use my very limited medical supplies on in a true TEOTWAWKI scenario, I will not be so selective when defending.
      Johnny Walker Blue, eh? I’m curious now.

  16. Michael, good information and you validated my contention about ammo. I have a 9MM pistol and Feather 9MM long gun. The wife has a 380 for her self defense. I also have a 22LR S&W MP1522 for small game and 12 gage. Learned the hard way in Vietnam about having so many different cal weapons and resupply problems. AWI now makes the 9MM/40/45 handgun round rifle and found it can reach the 250 meter line with no problem. The red box is good trading material.

  17. Eugene Farley says:

    I thought that was a great article. I also feel that incompatibility with others will be a major survival issue. I was in the USArmy for 8yrs, 18 months of that in Viet Nam. Most prior military have real time understanding of survival needs and techniques, though not all payed attention. Everything said is well thought out and put into use, that I think is actually the key to any survival technique. No matter what a person may say about what they would do, none of it matters if they plan on it but dont actually put those plans into action. No matter who we are, no matter where we are, what we have right now is all that we can actually count on. The only thing that would add some diversity would be fishing gear. My preferences in weapons is a bit different except for the SKS, I really feel that they are underrated. So having said that here is my choice of weapons, a 91/30 Mosin Nagant, an M44 Mosin Nagant both in 7.62x54R. An SKS in 7.62×39 in a Bull-pup stock for ease of use. a CZvz 52 pistool and a TT-33 pistol both firing the 7.62×25 round. I chose those two pistols because of their ballistics, the round travels at over 1600 fps, and both can be used in a pinch to take down game. My choices had to do with the availability of military surplus ammo for each of them. Other than that I can only add that One Barrel Rum is a better tonic.

  18. Johnnie Walker Blue Label is blended to recreate the character and taste of some of the earliest whisky blends created in the 19th century.

    Give it a try Master Bartender, you’ll like it. You may also like Captain Blacks Jamaican Sweets or an Acid Nasty Cigar. Gotham out of FL sells online at half retail. No affl.

    I wasn’t talking scenario’s, EDC for my line of work.

    Nice article. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  19. This was a good read. Thank you! Got me thinking about what I/hubby need to change, modify or keep just as it is. We are very new to preparing so we are doing our best on a “lower middle class” budget. Slowly but surly we are getting thing in order.

  20. Rider of Rohan says:

    I liked your article very much and can’t find much to add. You covered your butt on the firearms argument, and but for some Longbottom Leaf covered just about all the bases. Very nice effort, I just wish I could carry as much as you. New resolution for me=hit that gym.

  21. Great article. I am envious of your medical experience and would like to see something about emergency medcine someday.
    I keep Crown Royal in a flask in my bag. I have a bouda bag with brandy in it when skiing. I would not put good booze in plastic. I don’t smoke but if I did, it would be a home rolled. I do grow tobacco in my greenhouse for medicinal and spiritual purposes. I don’t do the chemicals that are in commerical cigarettes. Yes, I said it. I am a cigarette snob.

  22. Quick question , you mentioned contributing to the community in a positive and constructive way ………….How can anybody be positive when most of the reading material is NEGATIVE ? not a slam , but an observation . Seriously , its on the same level as the news media , just the other side of the coin ……………but every bit as negative . The owner of the blog is a very nice guy , he tries to stay away from politics and current events as much as possible because he knows we are already bombarded with that as it is , and focuses more on gear and prepping techniques . There is a place for both , finding the balance is what I’m talking about . MD is a great guy as well and works hard for us , but perhaps we all might want to step back and reevaluate what we want here . Do we want to vent ? thats fine , we need to get it out . Do we want topics about prepping vs. political theories ? then we need to start submitting those articles ,each one of us is good at something , pass it on . We ourselves are part of the problem . Just sayin .

    • T.R.


      I try for a mixture of articles – how-to-do-it, personal stories, and politics via my daily miscellany section to news to help keep everyone up to date with what is going on in the world. The “What did you do to prep this week” and the new Friday polls sections seem to be popular as well.

      If you publish page after page of the same type articles day after day folks get bored. Think of the most boring survivalblog that you’ve ever read… see what I mean…? I try to make about readers not me.

      If you have any suggestions I’d be happy to hear than…

      • Nothing wrong with the site MD , sometimes we the readers , have to step back once in awhile and look around , we all know things dont look good , we just need to tweek the steering wheel every now and then .

  23. Michael,
    Yes..yes..yes! Thank you! It’s not which one caliber or gun,it’s multiple calibers for different jobs. Availability of ammo will be important, 9mm,.223,22lr,12 gauge,all are good choices but the more the merrier.Buying guns in every caliber is expensive and may prove hard to carry when you bug out.Guns that can fire multiple calibers is a great way to cover the bases. Popular ammo will be more available at first,but when the inventories are seized by law enforcement/military the more rare chamberings may still be left on the shelf. If one is good then 4,5,6.. is great.It’s nice to have backups for your hideaways that backup your weak side that covers your primary.

  24. Excellent article, I really enjoyed reading that one. I thoroughly understand the need to use multiple calibers, and have a weapon platform that allows you to use more than one.

    Your choice of handguns and rifles is excellent as well. Personally, and because of the local environment in Lebanon, I would go for 9mm, 5.56×45, and 7.62×39, as those are the rounds used by the paramilitary LEOs and the Army (As well as to all the militias/ factions that abound here).

    The .22 is available, and so is the .45, but they are not very common rounds here, and while some have 7.62×51 and 7.62x54R platforms, they are few and far between.

    In term of weapons prevalent here, while VZs and ARs are available (ARs are more easily found though), the Belle of the Bal is the AK. Handguns availability is mostly CZ, HiPower, Glocks, and Star Model B (1911 clone in 9mm). In term of SMGs, the MP5 is common and so is the Skorpion in .32

    Lots of shotguns here, mainly in 12 gauge. Many of those shotguns are turkish made “Escort” brands, who, according to friends who hunt, are reliable, cheap, and get the job done. A shotgun is always a good choice as ammo is plentiful.

    Your recommendation to train in the weapons commonly found has a lot of merit, and i agree wholeheartedly: One has to train in the tools that will be found and used.

    Regarding whiskies, while i do appreciate Jim Beam Black, it is nothing compared to a good single malt like the Yamazaki 18yrs or the Macallan 12yrs 😉

  25. Great post agree on many of the weapons and all the calibers with a couple exceptions I love the 30-06 tons of knock down snd ex military round so very available especially if u reload i am not a glock guy find a perfectly adequate and cheaper pistol can be had in Taurus or ruger and if don’t have time to reload mags it’s worse than expected. really like the 357 revolver choice because .38 shoots thru as well. I am a Remington shot gun guy 1187 auto loader shoots and shoots and 870 are like assholes everyones got one. Really like the 1911 reference just works period. 9mm awesome deadly and my wife is a nail driver with her millenium 111. Really not a fan of the forty cal. If push comes to shove should be plenty of weapons and ammo laying around I suppose so availability not an issue. The 7400 Remington in 30-06 with 10 rounders makes an ok substitute battle rifle if u font have ar variant or Kalashnikov. But real issue lies in one family can’t survive forever alone in loss of order the survivors will be those who create order small communitys who can count on one another

  26. Michael M. Bystrzycki, Sr. says:

    I’d like to revisit my initial post now that the world has yet again changed since the Sandy Hook tragedy.
    Regardless of your stance on gun control, or what your belief(s) are about the Sandy Hook experience itself; it has shown to some degree what is to be expected in tumultuous time, whether it be man-made or natural. This ONE localized incident created a massive run on the weapons and ammunition industry and availibility. I assist part time at my LGS and within hours of Sandy Hook, the run on ammo and semiauto weapons began. Here’s what occured:
    1) Any AR or AK platformed rifle went off the shelf at ridiculous customer dictated prices.
    2) Ammo for said platforms disappeared, i.e. .223, 5.56, 7.62×39, 7.62×51, .308
    3) Semiauto handgun magazines with greater than 10rd capacity flew off the racks, followed by the handguns that accepted them.
    4) High capacity magazines for AR and AK platformed rifles disappeared as quickly as we could get them.
    5) Mosin Nagants, M1A’s, M14’s, SKS’s, etc … got bought up, along with their respective rounds of ammo.
    6) Surprisingly, the hardest ammo to locate and replenish is ……. wait for it …. the .22LR. Yup, the .22LR.
    7) The most abundant ammo still in stock is the 30/30, .270, .243 & 7mm-08 for rifles and the .45ACP and .45GAP for pistols.
    8) The number one requested handguns since Sandy Hook has been the Glock 19, Glock 23 and Glock 27. Next would be the Ruger SR22. We had 11 Taurus PT809’s in stock the day before Sand Hook; the day after we had 1. We’ve since sold 34 of those alone.

    We moved more weapons and ammunition in 6 weeks than we did in the previous 8 months and that is a documented fact. The way I see it, the actions taken by the anti-gun realm has had the opposite desired effect. They have literally caused the influx of 5 years worth of weapons and ammunition to enter the market.
    So, now, more than ever, I am confident with my previously shared weapon and caliber choices but will now add perhaps a nice bolt .270 and/or .243.

    Keep your powder dry, boys. Times they are a changin’!

  27. 14 paragraphs on guns and ammo, and 1 one on everything esle. God bless you Americans.

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