Budget Prepping: A list of 20 firearms under $1000 most under $500

According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.” Sun Tsu

(For the sake of continuity all facts pertaining to ballistics are listed as links at the end of the article, and not within the article. I have not submitted my own testing results, simply because from experience I have found people ignore my results if they go against what they believe. When it comes from someone else, eg., the FBI or some other organization, they believe it.)

Lists are always difficult, reasons are very simple. We all want what we have been told is best by people we trust or what we have grown up believing is best. My list is based entirely on firearms I have or currently own and use and have proven themselves to me entirely. My idea of having a firearm proven too me is simple, 1000 rounds with no hiccups. Minimum 200 rounds of my chosen SD ammunition, no hiccups. Accuracy, sandbagged must be within hunting needs, eg, two inches at 100 yards for ALL rifles, 4-inch max for handguns at 25 yards, sandbagged. Lastly, shotguns, I do not use shotguns for numerous reasons*. As a result, even though I can suggest** two names that most will agree with, I will not include them on the list.

Agree or disagree, however, here is the list and I can honestly say, it is based entirely on personal experience as well as the experience of a close group of individuals. We run firearms, and we run them well. Reloading, shooting, etc., the people I surround myself with all are at the very top of their profession whichever that is. The list will be in three parts, rimfire firearms, rifles (including carbines) and handguns. So here is the list, without further ado.

  1. Mossberg 702 Plinkster, like all rimfire guns, clean it well after shooting or every 200-300 rounds. Do so and you wont have problems with it, 4lbs of lightweight accuracy and more importantly, accurate, reliable and less than $150.
  2. Ruger SR22 handgun, reliable, accurate, and with all rimfire again, clean it well after shooting. I love my Walther P22s (threaded) however, they are not inexpensive. Ruger SR22s can be had for under $300 and many times used for under $200.
  3. FegPa63, P64, Makarov 9×18 virtually any Eastern European 9×18 handgun, the round works well, it will work in self defense, I use Hornady 9×18 critical duty, NOT other rounds, some are too hot, these are blowback handguns and surplus, not designed for the +p novelty rounds out there. Most can be had for right at $250, well worth every penny. I prefer the FEGPa63 and the P64.
  4. Glock 19 or 17, denigrate the 9×19 with a solid defensive round all you want, sure BALL ammunition sucks, it sucks in everything! Modern self defense ammunition makes the 9×19 round better than the .45 and virtually equal to the ,40 or .357 and does it at half the cost. Gold Dot 115 or 124 grn, NOT 147 grn, too slow doesnt penetrate well. Or the Hornady Critical DUTY 135 grn round. These rounds have been tested and approved for carry by the FBI which is switching too the Glock 19. Accuracy folks, is far more important than a near miss with a wide projectile. I can guarantee my Glock 19 will meet and equal or beat any other firearm out there in terms of reliability, accuracy and putting a target down. Plus being 9×19 (not plus P never plus P) means even my 7 year old daughter shoots it well! Pricing is $300 – $500 depending on used or not, and remember, unlike other firearms, used only means broken in on a Glock. I prefer buying used, after all, there are changes I make automatically too mine. Personal preferences and all.
  5. Springfields XD series in 9×19. I do not like this gun, however, I cannot in all good conscience not include it, it works, it is accurate, and absolutely reliable. There is nothing to dislike other than personal taste for myself. Thats all, and thats it. $400-$700
  6. Canik 55 TP9SF a new arrival to the scene, but at a price point of $350 brand new, you cannot miss this as a possibility. If you are prepping on a budget and new to firearms, THIS is the way to go. Reliability to date is amazing, accuracy very good and it comes new with spare mags, holster, etc., I mean whats not too like! Honestly, if I didnt already have too many Glock 19s, I may have switched to these.
  7. AR15 platforms, there are dozens of approaches, builders and several calibers. My suggestion, stick with what is most popular currently, 5.56 is what you want it chambered in, or .223 wylde. I would suggest 1/8 twist or 1/9 to start, these twist rates are good in between and allow you too shoot 55 through 77 grain accurately, the 1/9 is better with 55-62 grain, however, I continue to be able to out rounds on target easily at out too 500 yards with a nice 1/9 twist nitride barrel. If you go with 1/8 it truly is a solid twist rate, at 16” MINIMUM length it is amazing. Under 14” the 5.56 loses effective velocities. For personal defense I prefer 55 grn ball ammo, again, per FBI testing it penetrates less than 12 gauge 00 buckshot in drywall. (see links) So here are the brand names I suggest, Palmetto State Armory, Delton, DiamondBack and Olympic Arms are all solid AR15 builders, they may need minor work as they are not as highly polished as a $1200 plus rifle. However, they are absolutely reliable and more importantly, the bottom side of all of these rifles can be found for between $500 and $700 apiece. (Magazines are simple, get Hexmag or Magpul magazines.)
  8. AK47 platforms or AKMs, here is where things get fun. See the simple reality is I do not have as much trigger time behind one as others do. However, I do absolutely believe in the necessity of having multiple calibers available especially in popular calibers. As a result I do use them, just not as much as my AR’s. Caliber, honestly, I prefer the 7.62×39 caliber. It works as a deer round, and other medium game as well as self defense. And anyone that tells you an AKM is inaccurate, hasnt used one. Brand names suggested are as follows, take this with a grain of salt. Red Army standard, Serbian NPaP, Definitive Arms DAKM and lastly I own and currently enjoy an IO AKM, though these have serious issues on occasion and I cannot recommend one as a survival tool. Pricing ranges from $500- $1000 for the above listed names. There are other brands and I am sure they are wonderful. But under $1000 and what I or my core have personal experience with were the guidelines. Now for the caveat, the IO after the first 200 rounds had a failure to cycle, the gas tube was 1/16th too short. I called them, they sent another immediately and it has been rectified. It has been accurate and I have successfully put another 1200 rounds through it without a failure. Hence it passed the test. By accurate I do mean well within parameters set.
  9. This category has a different approach, it is something many people do not consider. Hunting and shooting over 500 yards. Though there are thousands of people on-line especially who make wonderful claims regarding their prowess as a shooter, distances past 500 yards are not easy, and when you hit the 800 mark, things start getting REALLY fun. Personally I have shot past 1000 yards only a few times, and while I am a very good shot from 0 through 500 yards with simple iron sights, past this is not easy. My observations and experiences are much more refined in this area, leaving the last two spaces for un-scoped milsurp and scoped non milsurp. Iron sights at distance there are only three rifles I can honestly suggest, that meet the criteria as stated. Enfields .303 (I prefer the MkIV or III), Mauser 8mm K98, Swiss K31 in 7.5×55 (my personal favorite, and a rifle I have taken to 1100 yards four times now, with iron sights, amazingly very very nicely. Each of these can be had for between $300 and $600 and should be looked at closely prior to purchase for signs of wear. (Side note my first rifle at 16 was a MkIV Enfield that I took jackrabbits at 400 to 600 yards regularly, quite fun when young, but the eyes go with age.)
  10. Long distance rifles, non milsurp. Remington 700, Mossberg 100 ATR, Weatherby Vanguard are all wonderful rifles, I have owned them all and shot them all, and loved them all very much. The Vanguard was a sub MOA model, (not normal) and shot under an inch off of a bipod at 100 yards. The Remington and Mossberg both shot very well also. Pricing ranges from $300 – $600 for these rifles. You can upgrade all of them as you go and get the money, however, an inexpensive Bushnell scope will get you on paper well for around $200 or less.

There you have my list, again, subjective, absolutely! But realistic, also ABSOLUTELY!

*Why dont I use a shotgun, this is an interesting question with a VERY simple answer. Here is my response. I have grade v spondylolisthesis (since I was 12- and yes I worked for over two decades full time with grade IV before it went to grade V), nerve damage down my left leg below the knee and in my right leg is permanent and severe. When I am tired or in pain (which is daily, pain can be a friend) I drag my feet and eventually my legs simply stop working. Literally I fall straight down several times a week. Weight is NOT an option, shotguns equal weight. 10 shotgun shells weigh the same as 200 rounds of .22lr or 50 rounds of 5.56. Eating birds shot with a shotgun is a process filled with fun times and occasionally cleaning lead or steel shot out of your teeth. I can build a live trap for birds easily, that works and the parts are found growing around us. As a self defense weapon it is NOT the “just aim at the general direction” that people like to say it is. Even from a 18” barrel the shot WILL not spread enough at defensive distances to allow that approach and honestly, if you have children or animals, why would you want stray shots anyhow. So there you go. An AR is MUCH easier to shoot far more accurately, as is a solid 9mm handgun.

**If a shotgun you must have, Mossberg 500/ 590/88 (Maverick), Remington 870 – there easy, yes ive owned them, no I wouldnt again simply because everything I have must have a use.

See the links below for statistical real information regarding ballistics.

http://www.brassfetcher.com/FBI%20Ammunition%20Protocol/FBI%20Ammunition%20Protocol.html

https://ntoa.org/public/Publications/Articles/2158.pdf

http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/

http://catm.com/yabbfiles/Attachments/FBI_Defensive_Systems_Unit_Ballistic_Research_Facility_FBIAcademy.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXOIQgfvVlE

When is Ammo Too Old? – Prepper Ammo Storage

What is the single most important firearm type for TEOTWAWKI: Reviewing four modern semi-automatic 22lr caliber rifles.

22-rifles

by Jesse Mathewson

In these United States, we have seen hundreds if not thousands of 22lr caliber rifles come and go over the years. Arguably the Ruger 10/22 is the most well known and oldest version of the semi-automatic 22lr rifles still in production today, originally coming onto the scene in 1964 with a rotary style magazine, as compared to the other rifles in today’s review, which all utilize stick style magazines. This rifle was ahead of its time and served to make Ruger a household name, along with the further innovations in the Mini (14, 30 etc.,) series rifles and a variety of handguns.

It is important to understand that my choice personally for 22lr caliber rifle; for the purposes of this article, is not based on anything other than testing, function, weight, price and overall effective efficiency in filling the role as meat provider for the table in a grid down situation, or even as a defensive tool. (And all arguments aside, 22lr is a deadly round, this has been proven time and again over the years, I will attach links to several factual stories of defense against BG’s with the lowly 22lr, not too mention its use as a premier fly swatter for individuals intent on fulfilling pest control of a two-legged variety of varmint.)** On a personal note I have used it quite actively over the years for varmint control, freezer filling and more, sadly the caliber .22 being banned for hunting in many states now, though this is not a serious issue in a grid down situation. After all, some laws are simply not moral or necessary.

The following four rifles include four of the top brand names and are modern, still in production, semi-automatic magazine fed 22lr caliber rifles. The specifics for each are listed below for your perusal. I am not including bolt action .22lr or tube fed, I am not including any 22lr caliber clones of AR, AK or other military variants. I am also not including conversion kits for AR styled rifles as these have their own set of issues and costs.

Marlin Model 795

  • .22 long rifle
  • 10 round stick magazine, 1 in chamber
  • 18” barrel
  • Sights, adjustable open rear, ramp front sight with grooves in receiver for scope mounting
  • 1: 16 rh twist
  • 4.5lbs unloaded
  • 37” overall length
  • Suggested retail is 239.99

Relatively new, not many aftermarket parts, somewhat based on the Marlin 60 which was a truly fine 22lr and shone in many areas. Very accurate rifle and for the cost is extremely nice. Only ammunition issues were Remington flat tips, otherwise, shoots everything.

I had one, and loved it, however, as the cost is more than the Mossberg 702 which follows, I haven’t invested more in additional copies. And as I am a KISS proponent and fan, it is essential that those within my core group are armed in a similar fashion so as to reduce the number of possible problems when arming, rearming etc.,

Mossberg 702 Plinkster

  • .22 long rifle
  • 10 round stick magazine/ 25 round factory extended magazines available
  • 18” barrel
  • Adjustable sights (replace with Tech Sights) grooved for scopes, not milspec, you will need to get a 3/8” scope mount or adapter, which is easily found on Amazon for milspec additions and rails.
  • This is not abnormal with non AR styled .22lr firearms, to be more pointed, many hunting rifles come with this mount approach. So it is in fact a standard mounting for hunters.
  • 1:16 twist rh
  • Synthetic Stock, Wood Stock and or additional colors available if needed. However, the standard black synthetic stock works effectively.
  • 4lb’s
  • 37” overall length
  • Suggested price 176.00

Based on an older model, several companies make aftermarket parts, however, magazines are still only available from the factory. It is not as popular as the 10/22 and as such suffers from a lack of aftermarket parts availability. Extremely reliable and accurate. Only ammunition issues were Remington flat tips, otherwise, shoots everything.

This is my top choice, they can be found for around $100 at most Wal-Marts, or used for even less depending on location, rarely have I seen them over $160. Pinned barrel, simple action blowback action. A bit of sandpaper and a philips head screwdriver will have the barrel free floated in under 15 minutes. I currently own several, with 10 magazines for each one. An inexpensive one-inch nylon sling, $79 on Tech Sights (Amazon), and you will have a rifle that will easily get you a rifleman badge at the local Appleseed shoot, keep it clean and you will never have an issue with it.

Ruger 10/22

  • .22 long rifle
  • 10 round cyclical magazine/ 25 round factory extended magazines available
  • gold bead front sight (replace with Tech Sights)
  • 1:16 twist rh
  • 18.5” barrel
  • 5.75lb’s
  • 37” overall length
  • Suggested price 379.00

Extremely popular there is no shortage of aftermarket kits, parts, and the bells and whistles you may require to make your survival gun both pretty and relatively functional. Have owned 4 from the mid 80’s through 2009, all were ammunition specific firearms, or finicky. Accuracy was decent, however, magazine issues (factory magazines) and some ammunition feed issues had me selling them all.

After spending two years helping out with local Appleseed shoots in Arizona, I witnessed two or three failures every shooting day of every Appleseed from the Ruger 10/22. Now, this does not mean you wont find solid shooting 10/22s, it just means that during that two year time, my Mossberg 702s never failed, not once, and the 10/22 in multiple configurations from factory basic through $2000 plus add on configured did.

Savage 64 F

  • 22 long rifle
  • 10 round stick magazine
  • open sights, drilled and tapped for scope mounting
  • 1:16 rh twist
  • 21” barrel length (slightly better accuracy and ballistics should result)
  • weight is 5lbs.
  • Suggested price $140.00

True free floated barrel, several variations available, generally considered to be most accurate out of the box and having shot one or two, I would tend to agree. It is an extremely accurate, ammunition picky, but VERY accurate. It has also been out since 1964, though the first model met with bad reception due to using plastic magazines. Its following is not nearly as large as the base for the Ruger 10/22. Less market share, less possibility for parts being made by companies other than Savage.

I really enjoy this gun, and you will as well. Make sure you can get magazines for it, and check ammunition reliability in it. Otherwise, it’s a great firearm.

22-riflesRemember, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, .22lr is going to be a very important caliber. Local harvesting laws will not matter with regards to game, they are relatively quiet, and with an accurate (sandbagged and properly sighted in) version of one of the above models you will do fine. Personally, I prefer Mossberg 702’s and will gladly submit to competition between any one of the several owned and any .22lr you choose. I do not like the AR styled, AK styled or kits that allow shooting of .22lr in regular firearms. Though I can understand the desire for some people to keep things as similar as possible, in most cases, practice is severely lacking in individuals preaching this approach.

If you need to practice with your AR then, practice with the AR. Recoil, noise and all the accompanying parts of shooting the .223 or 5.56 round is essential to solid practice. If you want to practice fundamentals of shooting and accuracy, the type of firearm will not matter nearly as much as the fundamentals themselves. If you are able to “run and gun” than do so, but make sure you practice and train with legitimate trainers in these areas. In my strict opinion as a lifetime shooter, who does okay for himself when shooting, rifleman basics are not stylistic or reliant on type of rifle, but rather on the approach used and fundamentals practiced.

This is why I do not have, recommend or use three point slings, single point slings or any number of special “tactical” attachments that so often take a 6lb AR and make it a 15lb monstrosity. KISS, always, for the sake of those reading, this is a very easy word to decipher. Keep It Simple Silly. A solid two point sling, understanding why laying down is more stable than seated and seated is more stable than standing and resting the rifle is more stable than standing without resting the rifle is essential to accuracy. Hollywood does a great job of making gun owners stupid, its up to us to ensure we don’t reinforce the ridiculous notions regarding gun owners in the media, politics and Hollywood.

So now you have four choices for a TEOTWAWKI rifle, remember, even in “gun free” nations, .22lr is used and owned in most cases by people interested in hunting, target practice and simply having for self-defense. A .22lr firearm must be cleaned every 300 rounds on average or after every practice session, I clean all my firearms every two weeks with a basic rubdown and lube, in depth twice a year, and after every range session. The sole exception being cached and or stored firearms- which are stored soaked in lubricants and in ZCORR storage bags, review to follow. These .22lr firearms also work very well to introduce non-shooters and or non-preppers to the world of prepping/ shooting without hurting their shoulders, ears and easily showing them the benefits and sheer pleasure of hitting a target where you want too.

Shoot on fellow Wolf Pack members, be safe, smart and above all, be free!

**Links follow, some are graphic in nature, please be aware.

http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/using-the-22-for-self-defense (statistics regarding various calibers used for defense of self)
http://bangordailynews.com/2012/02/20/news/bangor/man-who-shot-home-invaders-in-hermon-i-had-to-protect-myself/ (self-defense with .22lr handgun)
http://www.wlwt.com/news/local-news/news-northern-kentucky/Boone-County-homeowner-shoots-kills-intruder/16463942?item=0 (92-year-old man shoots and kills home intruder with .22lr rifle)
https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2010/04/29/elderly-iowa-woman-uses-her-22-handgun-in-self-defense/ (89-year-old woman uses 22lr handgun to defend herself)
http://gunssavelives.net/self-defense/13-year-old-armed-with-ruger-1022-saves-his-mother-from-intruder-thought-to-be-on-drugs/ (13 year old uses 10/22 to defend family)

There are many, many more verifiable stories, and I am sure if any of us has spent time in the woods, we all know someone who has harvested game with a .22lr, legal or not. (Though I do not openly recommend doing anything that will bring you in contact with authorities, eg., don’t do illegal things. Understand there is always consequences to every action, always.)

Free the mind and the body will follow.

Choose Your Weapons

by Lloyd P

Glock handguns

This is a Glock 23 with three calibers and a Glock 20 with two

In much simpler times when gentleman wanted to settle a dispute of honor they called for a duel. “Choose your weapons” was the traditional start of the events once they had assembled. Dueling pistols, swords, even Bowie knives were sometimes used as tools to settle the disputes. Although it sometimes played out with each party firing into the air and then walking away with honor in tact or regained as the case may be – with no harm done.

It did not always end without loss and there are some very famous duels in our US history. While I’m very glad we don’t settle disputes this way any longer, the fact is many of us feel we are involved in a different form of dueling today. We are dueling with much more complicated situations, events and scenarios more significant than simply defending one’s honor. In fact, many people feel that any number of possible events could occur that might justify or require the ability to protect ones, life, liberty, property or loved ones.

While the polls show that a majority of Americans believe our leaders are not leading the country in the right direction, there are some good things going on out there. One huge area of improvement is the increase in the numbers of people arming themselves and getting training on the safe and proper use of firearms. State governments across the nation are strengthening and even encouraging the use and personal carry of defensive weapons, both concealed and openly carried.

This has had the result of lowering violent crime to its lowest level since statistics have been recorded. This includes every place where private carry and use of firearms has been loosened or confirmed and the only places in the nation where violent crime has increased is those localities where the local governments have bucked the trend and have made it harder, or continue to restrict the personal carry and use of personal firearms. Things can change quickly and you do not want to be a victim of violent crime. If I may adapt an old adage here – you can only be a victim if you haven’t been warned, after that you are a volunteer.

With so many entering the firearms market it is understandable that people are asking questions about what weapons to consider and what choices should be made concerning ownership of firearms. While we have all heard the adage “experience is the best teacher”, I do not subscribe to this opinion. In fact I believe experience is not the best teacher, someone else’s experience is. Who wants to learn about a rattlesnake bite or a hand grenade by experience?

I bet most of us wished we had not learned about having a car accident by experience! And so it is with firearms and related issues, what we can learn from others can be indispensable in the long run. Even if you are in a position to have unlimited choices of firearms and ammunition it makes little difference as you cannot use all of them at once or have everything available to you when you are in a critical position of need. So choices must be made, and if the right choices are made from the beginning even as other items are added the expense and time involved will not increase exponentially.

Experience is not the best teacher, someone else’s experience is.

Choosing a general purpose hand gun is often the first consideration when a person decides to enter the world of firearms ownership or the world of firearms for preparedness. There are so many options, colors, calibers, sizes, materials and the list goes on and on. How about starting with the idea of keeping things simple, useful, effective, flexible and commonly available?

Before actually choosing which hand gun might be your best staring point it is quite advisable to look at what caliber you will want in a defensive handgun. One should, of course, choose a cartridge that is adequate for the purpose of self-defense. But it should also be available, affordable and shootable by the person who will use it. You could choose something like the .38 super and you would have a cartridge that is totally acceptable as a self-defensive round, but it is not readily available or particularly affordable, so why consider it except for specially purposes?

The handgun … an entire class of arms that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense…it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home. U.S. Supreme Court, District of Columbia V. Heller June 26 2008

Let me keep things simple for the sake of discussion – the most commonly available, affordable shootable cartridges that are at least adequate for self-defense in a handgun would include the .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), the 9mm (9mm parabellum / 9mm Luger), .38 S&W (Smith and Wesson), .357 S&W Magnum, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. There are other great cartridges such as the .357 Sig, 10mm, .41 Magnum, .45 Colt, and .44 magnum, but these each fall short of our criteria in at least one area or more.

The .9mm is the most popular center-fire handgun cartridge in the world. This is supported by the fact that it is the military handgun cartridge for more militaries in the world than any other, including the NATO nations which includes the USA. Having a firearm that can be fed by readily available ammunition is a wise choice so long as the cartridge also meets all of our other standards.

While the 9mm has been replaced by the .40 S&W as the choice of carry for most police departments in the USA, the civilian still has a greater choice of useful ammunition available than the militaries of the world who are limited to the less effective full metal jacketed bullets, also called ball ammunition, because of treaty obligations. Police departments actually use handguns as their primary weapon where as militaries do not. So when in comes to handgun use perhaps it is wise to consider what the vast majority of police departments choose to use. This would be the .40 S&W. So while the 9mm is the most widely used cartridge in use by militaries, the .40 S&M is the most widely used by police departments across the USA.

The 9mm is cheaper to purchase in most cases, and it is widely available. If you consider that shortages might be a possibility in the future (they have been in the past) – a lot of people choose the 9mm in part at least with the thought of future availability as a major factor, even though the .40 S&W has more “stopping power“. Unless you are able to purchase a lifetime supply of ammunition at the time you acquire your handgun, this is a consideration.

But why not start with a choice of firearm which allows the use of both – or even more? This gives the flexibility of not only stocking up with your primary choice of cartridge, but also gives you the option of using another widely available cartridge should that be the available one in the future. While the 9mm is generally more available, what if in the future your source for ammunition was more closely related to your local police department than your national military?

“The .40 S&W caliber is the overwhelming top choice of police departments today.” Massad Ayoob – Police officer & internationally renowned firearm and self-defense instructor.

Those who choose a .357 revolver know the flexibility of having the possibility of using .38 Special ammunition for cost savings and enjoyable practice shooting with less recoil, yet using the same gun for both types of ammunition. But is this possible with the semi-auto pistol? It is if you plan ahead properly.

I shoot a lot of 9mm ammunition for practice and fun, and I don’t do it in a 9mm hand gun. How is that possible you might wonder? It is possible by using a .40 S&W handgun with a barrel designed to fit that firearm, but chambered for the 9mm. It is not possible to use a .40 S&W barrel in a 9mm, so it is necessary to choose the .40 S&W from the start even if you will be shooting 9mm as your primary ammunition choice, but then you will have the option of shooting .40 S&W if and when you choose to.

I do this with Glock pistols. All that is required is using an aftermarket 9mm conversion barrel designed for the handgun in question from suppliers such as Lone Wolf Distributers and also using the factory magazines for the caliber in use. A 9mm magazine works perfectly in a .40 S&W Glock. There are also after market conversion barrels for the Springfield XD pistols from Bar-Sto.

If you live in Delaware, Dallas, Maine, Tennessee, Virginia or other places where the .357 Sig is used by law enforcement you might choose a handgun in this caliber and use the same drop in barrel to shoot the .9mm. In fact the .40 S&W and .357 Sig factory barrels can be exchanged readily and the same magazines are used for both cartridges, but most people do not have a reality available source for inexpensive .357 Sig ammo.

After your basic firearms – invest in ammunition! The more you have, the better off you will be for a number of reasons. The cost isn’t going down. Ammo is also a good barter item. Unless you reload your own ammo you are vulnerable to the market on both price and availability. You never know how long you will need to depend upon the ammo you currently have.

Kel-Tec-2000 and Glock handgun

This Glock and Kel-Tec-2000 use the same caliber & magazines

Let’s face it, once you have your basic firearms stocking up on ammunition would be a priority. Without ammunition the handgun is useful for a paperweight or an attempt to bluff an attacker, neither of these would be high on your list of reasons to purchase a firearm. After you acquire your basic battery invest more in ammunition than on additional firearms. You don’t want to have more firearms than you can feed.

If you run out of ammo you will need to locate some, if you have extra you are in a position to barter – or practice more. If you choose a system which is flexible from the start, you have more options. I know a lot of people who choose a 9mm as their primary cartridge simply because it is the most readily available adequate cartridge even though they would like the added security of a more powerful cartridge like the .40 S&W. Why limit your choice?

By choosing carefully you can have the option of using both. While I have read of some problems with aftermarket conversion barrels – after firing thousands of rounds of ammo through mine I have not experienced any failures. I have learned that the barrels work best with some slight lubrication on the outside where as the factory barrels work best with no lubrication.

The flexibility does not end here either. Once a hand gun is acquired with conversion barrel, you might like to add a carbine such as the Kel-Tec Sub-2000 in either of your cartridges and use the same magazines as you use in your semi-auto handgun. This gives the person a real broad flexibility with a minimal expense just by planning ahead when purchasing the primary defensive firearm & cartridge.

The 10mm is not a widely popular hand gun cartridge because it is more powerful than necessary for most self-defense situations. Because of this it is more expensive to shoot. So why is it so popular in local areas such as the Rocky Mountain west? Because there are four-legged varmints as well as two-legged ones there! Lions, and wolves and bears (oh my!). So what if you live in an area like this and would like the added power of the 10mm but you don’t want to give up the flexibility, affordability and availability of the other cartridges listed? Simple, use your 10mm barrel when in the wild, and drop in a .40 S&W barrel when you are near pavement or the shooting range.

The Glock 20 10mm even has a factory drop in barrel available which is designed specifically for handgun hunting, something not available for any of the lesser cartridges. There’s even a 10mm conversion carbine available from Mech Tech (Also many other caliber choices) for those who want to have the flexibility of a carbine for certain uses such as hunting or patrol. While I love the 10mm, I do not suggest it as a choice for the average person for reasons listed earlier, but it is totally possible to have a common cartridge such as the .40 S&W for common and general use and have a specialty cartridge like the 10mm available for the same firearm if proper planning is done before purchasing your weapon.

There are other options available also, while not quite as simple or as inexpensive as a conversion barrel for a .40 S&W to 9mm, a 10mm Glock can be converted to shoot .45 ACP by simply purchasing a new slide & barrel for the similar sized frame. Since only the frame is considered the “firearm” by the BTAFE, a new slide can be ordered through the mail thus avoiding additional paperwork and expense of purchasing an entire new firearm. This is also possible for those who have a .45 ACP but would like the 10mm, perhaps for hunting. The magazines from each caliber fit perfectly in the grip of the other. Glocks are not the only brand for which this is possible, but check before you purchase if you feel you might like this flexibility later. Along the same line, there are .22 conversion kits for various hand guns that convert your 9mm, 40 S&W, 10mm or .45ACP into a .22 rimfire for practice, plinking and flexibility to shoot and stock up on very cheap .22 caliber ammunition.

If you shop wisely you could start your battery with a pistol and conversion barrel that will shoot two or more common calibers of ammunition, a carbine that shares the same magazines as your handgun and as much as 1000 rounds of ammunition for the current average cost of one AR-15. However if you already have an AR-15 you also have a very flexible firearm. Most AR-15s shoot the useful and widely available 5.56×45 /.223 ammunition. If this is what you have you, have the option of adding a drop in .22 LR conversion to shoot .22 rimfire cartridges through the same barrel. Of course the AR family of rifles can be easily switched from one caliber to another by changing one upper for another.

This gives many options for other barrels, like longer for more velocity, heavier for heat displacement or other calibers. However, when it comes to our criteria of simple, useful, effective, flexible and commonly available we are primarily looking to the .223, .22 and the 7.62×39 which is currently widely available and quite reasonably priced. There are also uppers for pistol calibers which use special magazines.

For those who have a pistol in 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP who also would like the simplicity and reliability of a revolver there are a number of revolvers which are chambered for these calibers. Charter Arms has a revolver chambered for the .40 S&W that is quite nice and does not require the use of moon clips to hold the rimless cartridges most used by pistols. For those who use the .45 ACP in their pistol the S&W Governor is a revolver that can expand your flexibility.

The Governor is a follow up of the very popular Taurus Judge which will chamber both .45 Long Colt and .410 shotgun shells. The Governor matches this and also accepts the .45 ACP. While I like the .45 Colt cartridge it does not meet our requirements of wide availability and reasonably priced, but with the right ammunition it is functional as a handgun hunting cartridge or for use against lager predators. While you might not purchase a dedicated .45 Colt revolver, if you have a .45 ACP and would like a revolver in this caliber having the .45 Colt adds flexibility. While the .410 shotgun shells are advertised as being great for self-defense personally find them very useful for small game, vermin, venomous snakes and game birds up close.

These ideas are meant as helpful suggestions with which you can increase your flexibility with your personal defense arm by careful planning and forethought. Flexibility, dependability, and adaptability are each keys to survivability. Choose your weapons – thoughtfully.

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RELOADING STEP 1, GET A MANUAL

By Andrew Skousen – via The World Affairs Brief 

Learning to reload ammunition yourself can be daunting. After all, we are talking about assembling cartridges for a controlled explosion that will launch a bullet at high velocity. But there is more than just safety in the learning curve. There are many brands and varieties of reloading materials including the various weights, shapes and material used for bullets of even the same caliber. If that wasn’t enough there is a lot of technical details to making accurate ammunition including balancing the complicated physics involved. Not enough powder for the size of bullet can affect the accuracy and force of the bullet. Too much powder and you could damage your firearm. Bullet and powder manufacturers carefully research the best balance of these factors to give shooters accurate and safe loads, and they publish this load data, which is essentially a recipe with precise measurements for the type and amount of powder for each caliber and bullet weight. A good reloading manual can help you navigate all these hurdles and catalog most of the load data for common rounds.

Reloading manuals are most often produced by makers of reloading equipment or materials and consequently favor that manufacturer’s products, sometimes with fewer details about the other options. On the flip side, the best information for a specific product line is the one produced by the same company.

I started with Modern Reloading by Richard Lee ($20), maker of the prevalent LEE reloading presses. His impressive 720 page manual focuses on the value and benefits of his reliable and cost-effective presses which still have a strong following. His explanations at the beginning describe how to reload in a very easy to read fashion with many in-depth, practical tidbits about the potential problems to look for and avoid in any reload. Don’t be put off by the size; the bulk of the manual is a very comprehensive set of load data (the “recipes” or tables showing amount of powder to use according to caliber, powder type, and bullet) covering all the most common bullet and powder types—and many of the uncommon ones as well. I was disappointed with the lack of index and it could stand a glossary of terms for those unfamiliar with everything ballistics, but overall it is a respected guide among even experienced reloaders.

The Lyman Reloading Manual is also a popular manual, often called the “gold standard.” They strive to stay up to date and are currently in their 50th Edition ($25, but the 49th Ed. sells for $11). At 450 pages it covers the most common loads and has data for many cast bullets as well (Lyman sells bullet casting molds among other things). Reviewers were disappointed; however, that some common calibers only had information for metal jacketed bullets and left off other common types of bullets.

The powder company Hodgdon also produces an annual guide with 140 including load data. The 2016 Annual Reloading Manual is only $9 making it the cheapest option. It has popular reloading articles and seems more like a large magazine with an expansive table of load data. Most reloaders like to use this as a good 2nd reference manual for a second opinion about loads.

For more general reloading advice I recommend The Beginner’s Guide to Reloading Ammunition: With Space and Money Saving Tips for Apartment by Steven Gregersen. This has an easy to read style but is still very informative including when to resize the casings and the differences in powder types. It does not have load data so you will need another manual like those mentioned above.

I recommend buying a manual early in the reloading process and referring to it often when buying supplies and equipment to verify you have the right load data. As manufacturers develop different varieties of bullets and powder, your manual may go out of date. In this case just download (and print out) the more specific information for any specialty bullets or powder you buy that is not covered in your manual.

Once you learn the basics, you will find that reloading is not difficult, but it does require careful work and attention to detail. Experienced reloaders like Richard Lee provide invaluable advice, but nothing compares the trial and error of doing it yourself and finding what tools or information you were lacking to get the job done right. Get them before hard times hit

The Preppers Arsenal – Choosing The Best Survival Firearms For Your Needs Now and Post Collapse

Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest  Jeff C

Survival gunsI live in a small town in the Midwest, not on the outskirts but smack dab in the middle. There are about 5,000 people in my town, not a large town by any stretch of the imagination, but big enough for my tastes. A preppers mindset has to make a bit of a shift when living in town, versus a more rural area. Namely, your garden is smaller, you can’t keep chickens and your ability to maintain a watchful perimeter is greatly diminished. These are all challenges that we need to adapt to, and as such your firearm choices need to adapt as well.

The premise of keeping firearms for more than just sporting purposes has been around ever since the first flintlocks were invented. So it makes sense that we should keep that tradition going. I have read many articles from people who have boldly proclaimed that a .50 caliber muzzleloader is all you need as it can be used to take small game, big game, waterfowl and defend your home. And while that’s true to a certain extent, a 30-50 second reload time between shots, combined with a 200-yard maximum range doesn’t appeal that much to me. As such, here are my musings on what I consider a prepper’s arsenal should look like, along with my personal choices for each category.

The categories are

  • Sporting
  • Defensive
  • Handguns
  • Backups
  • Trade

Sporting

Survival gunsFor Sporting firearms, you should have a .22 for small game, a shotgun for waterfowl, and a long gun powerful enough to legally take the largest animal in your region. Here in northern Indiana, that means a shotgun loaded with slugs.

My choices:

  • .22 Mossberg 42M with 1950’s era 1.5x Weaver scope.
  • 20ga Remington 11-87
  • 20ga Mossberg 500 with a 3-9×50 Optic.

Since I am a sportsman at heart and participate in all deer seasons possible around here, I also have a .50 Hawken and a .50 CVA Kodiak inline. The reason for two muzzleloaders, with the right tools and some training, casting your own rounds for a Hawken rifle is not only fun but immensely rewarding.

Defensive

Survival gunsThis is the category that tends to be the hardest to fill. Mainly due to the huge (and always growing) variety of options out there. Primarily it should consist of a shotgun for home defense, optional rifle for inside the home/under 100-yard engagements, a rifle for 50-300 yards and a rifle for 200-500 yards. The ranges on the last two are adjustable based on your location. Since I live in Indiana, there is not a whole lot of areas one can safely practice/shoot longer than 500 yards. If one lived in a place such as Utah or Wyoming, a rifle capable of reaching 800-1,000 yards may be necessary.

My choices:

  • 12ga Mossberg 500 for home defense16″ DPMS Oracle with a red dot sight for under
  • 16″ DPMS Oracle with a red dot sight for under 100-yard engagements.
  • 20″ Del-Ton AR15 with a 3-9×42 Optic for 50-300 yards..308 Mossberg ATR Night Train with a 4-16×50 Optic for 200-500 yards.
  • .308 Mossberg ATR Night Train with a 4-16×50 Optic for 200-500 yards.

Handguns

Survival gunsA solid selection of handguns should consist of the following, one for Every Day Carry, one for home defense and one for practice. Optional, nightstand gun. Any choice you make for a nightstand gun should be extremely simple to operate, as you would be using it in a state of half awake/ half asleep.My choices,

My choices:

  • Kahr CM9 for EDC.
  • Kahr CM9 for EDC.Glock 19 for home defense.
  • Glock 19 for home defense..38 Spcl S&W 10 for practice.
  • .38 Spcl S&W 10 for practice.
  • S&W 5906 for a nightstand gun.

Backups

Survival gunsThese should be firearms to compliment/ replace what you’ll be using. Ideally, they will be ones that will escape notice if the government decides to push confiscation of “assault rifles”. No magazines over 10 rounds, and in calibers other than your primary firearms. That way if the government confiscates your ” assault rifles”, “high capacity handguns” and “military grade ammunition”, you will still be armed. You should also have a holster for your backup handgun.My choices,

My choices:

  • Mosin M91-30
  • Romanian SKS
  • 30-06 Sears 53
  • .45 ACP Tisas 1911A1

Trade
Survival gunsThe premise of firearms for trade is that you should develop zero sentimental attachment to them, they should be in generic calibers and be simple enough that anyone can use it. That way, if you have to/ want to trade for something in a situation where the economy has gone belly-up, you have a very useful commodity on hand and ready. The second reason for keeping firearms for trade on hand is that they can turn a neighbor/local friend from someone to be viewed as a liability, into an asset.

I have two different friends across town who do not prep beyond a 72-hour kit due to the chance of tornados. And as such, they do not/aren’t able to invest in acquiring firearms and training for themselves. I have taken them to the range and both are competent, if not familiar with guns. And in a crisis, my ability to hand them firearms to defend themselves and their homes creates two new allies.

My choices:

  • 12ga Stevens double barrel
  • 12ga Ithaca 37
  • .22 Marlin 81
  • 20ga H&R Pardner

There you go. That’s just my two cents worth of opinion. Any criticism is welcome, and appreciated. I am always ready to update and improve my defenses, mindset and safety.

Prizes for This Round Include: (Ends July 29, 2016)

First Prize:

Second Prize: 

Third Prize:

Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.

The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.