This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest by Jason in Virginia
Any prepper will tell you that weapons, be they for self-defense or hunting, are an integral part of your preps. Any SMART prepper will also tell you that they are not the end all be all of prepping, nor are they the most important part either. Unfortunately, there exists a vein in the community (thankfully it is non-existent or shouted down on this particular blog, but it exists in the broader movement) that insists that anyone owning less than a full national guard sized armory capable of arming a brigade sized group to the teeth with everything from night vision goggles to tanks (I’m not kidding, I’ve seen it suggested on a board that a survival group build out a mock Abrams piece by piece) is not a “real” prepper or survivalist, or else is naive and is doomed to be victims of the somehow highly trained organized and disciplined groups of anti-social criminal super-villians wandering the land.
I’ll not get into the inherent contradictions in the notion of anti-social organized disciplined groups here. Thats for the shrinks to figure out. Please do not misunderstand me either, I’ve no doubt that if TSHTF, bands of criminals and looters will abound, I just don’t know that they’ll be quite so efficient as some portray. Most of those who’d gravitate towards such groups are cowards, and would much rather prey on the weak than someone with a demonstrative ability, skill, and will to shoot back.
Finally, please understand that I make a marked distinction between a firearms enthusiast and a Rambo wannabe. If guns are your hobby, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If insisting to your buddies that the fact that you own six AK-74’s all with laser sights good out to 450 yards with built in night vision goggles strapped to the buttstock modified to fully automatic makes you a real survivalist and everyone else who doesn’t is sheeple and zombie food is your hobby, well, you’re reading the wrong article. Go polish your SOG bayonet.
I’m writing this for preppers like myself. I’ve been around guns my whole life. Started hunting with my Dad around age 10, pistols as a teenager, did my time on the ground in the military. I like guns, I know the basics, I enjoy shooting from time to time, and I realize they are an important part of preps. But I’m not a “gun guy”. I can’t discuss in depth the advantages of a West German H&K 91 vs an M1A, or explain the greater stopping power of a 7.62 round vs a 5.56. Folks like Jarhead and Riverrider can explain all of that, and it’s valuable knowledge to have.
But I’ll be frank. I don’t care too much about the technical side of firearms. If it works, meaning that so long as I take care of it, when I load it, point it at a target, and pull the trigger, it goes bang and puts a hole in what I was pointing at, I’m good. I can break them down and clean them and put them back together like any normal soldier, but that’s pretty much where it ends. For me, it’s about functionality and price, just like the rest of my preps. I don’t want to break the bank on them.
But, being honest, weapons aren’t cheap, and building an adequate survival armory can be a relatively expensive proposition. The following lists my “arsenal”, that I believe covers my needs in the situations I am likely to face. Of course, any preppers plan must be modified to suit there own situation. All of these weapons were purchased a piece at a time, and on sale when I could find them. If you were to recreate this list, it would cost approximately $2,300 not including FFL transfer fees or any other throw ins. Your mileage may vary.
I’m not at all advocating running out and buying these at the same time, and the “good” news (for your wallet) is that one gun (the CAR15 223) takes up nearly 33% of the entire cost, and I advocate making this your final piece. Finally, these weapons are not always the “cheapest” in there respective categories per se, but IMHO, represent the best value for your dollar.
1. Slingshot. Don’t laugh, at least not until you’ve taken a ball bearing off of a wrist rocket to the chest at about 15 feet. You will think you’ve been shot. It hurts. A lot. This is more for pest removal in and around your location, especially when noise discipline is important. A good slingshot and decent aim can take out a rabbit at 15 yards. One less pest in your garden, one more meal in the pot. You can find a variety of slingshots on amazon for around $10 dollars.
2. Bowie knife. Admittedly, this is used almost solely for hunting. If I’m down to fighting with my knife, its bad times in the neighborhood, and shame on me for being caught out unprepared. Nevertheless, it is a weapon, and if left with a choice of a knife fight or death, yeah I’d use it. Wal-Mart, $15. There are other knives available for defense, my knowledge of them is limited. Like I said, I don’t wanna be the guy who brought a knife to a gun fight.
3. Marlin Model 60 .22. A classic rifle, one of the most popular in the world, its tube fed with a respectable magazine capacity, and is quite easy to mount a scope on. Handles varmints of the 4 legged variety, and will certainly give pause to the 2 legged variety. Has to be considered a best buy for $179 at wal mart.
4. Remington 870 12 gauge. I learned to shoot on the 12 gauge with my dad in the woods. I still vividly remember the massive bruise I had the next day from the recoil from not listening when he taught me how to shoulder it. My father gave me his when I graduated basic training. There’s an emotional attachment to this particular model, but its also very highly regarded for its quality and reliability. This is your meat rifle. Deer hunting, bird hunting, whatever game is in your area. It may also serve as your peace keeper. Nothing tends to settle arguments faster than the sound of a shotgun shell being racked. It is also universal language for “don’t freaking move if you’d like to live another 5 minutes”. Oftentimes a good solid bluff will save both YOUR and someone else life. $339 dollars at various online outlets.
5. Bushmaster CAR 15 223 16. This is your firefight gun. Your last resort, no kidding under attack full on battle rifle. For this reason, and given its healthy price-tag in relation to the other weapons on this list, I recommend making this your final purchase of your “creating a basic” arsenal. It is a nice, LIGHT, AR style rifle that comes equipped with a red dot scope and is reasonably priced for what it is. DISCLAIMER: It is true that you can build an AR-15 piece by piece for cheaper (SEE RIVERRIDERS POST ENTITLED “Don’t Pay A Fortune For An AR-15“), but for the rank amateur, “not gun-guys” here, I think most of us would be more comfortable with a pre-assembled version. Yes, this is biased, no, its not the smartest move in the world, and yes, we will do it anyways. Because we’re not gun guys.
6. Taurus PT-709 Slim. A nine millimeter pistol that serves as an excellent CCW. 7+1 capacity and can be carried in a standard pockets or holsters. Perfect for EDC. I chose a nine for EDC because of my state. It is a solid pro 2nd amendment state with fairly easy to obtain CC licenses. It’s courts however, have been a bit ubiquitous when dealing with deaths resulting from lethal force with CC license holders. Nine millimeters have stopping power, but they’re slightly less likely to kill you than a .45, depending upon shot placement. Yes, I know there are good arguments for ignoring this fact, being judged by 12 vs carried by 6, I get it. It’s just the personal decision I made for myself. It can be found new for $341 dollars online.
7. Taurus PT111 Millennium Pro. Another 9 mil, this sits in my GHB. It’s a full sized, beefier 9, handles recoil a bit better, and can be used as a blunt weapon in a worst case scenario. I chose a nine millimeter here for much the same reason as the EDC is. If I’ve broken out the Get Home Bag, things are bad, and I’m not trying to engage, I’m running, hiding, trying to evade and get home ASAP. Not trying to fight it out with anyone. Commonly found for $359 dollars online.
8. Taurus PT145 Millennium Pro. The .45 is for home/retreat defense. Virginia may be conflicted about using lethal force out in a public setting, but has a solid record of upholding the right to defend your home. In Virginia, if you enter a man’s home uninvited, regardless of intent, you get what you get and that’s that. So I reserve the hand cannon for the house. I’m not high on the notion of shooting anyone for any reason, but I feel strongly that if I’m forced to have a firefight in the confined area that is my house, I want it to be over in one shot. This is far more likely if I have the forty-five on hand. Can easily be purchased online for $359 dollars.
Incidentally, my handguns are Taurus as a matter of personal preference. I find them to be good, well made, reliable firearms that are reasonable priced and have a 100% lifetime warranty. It’s just a matter of preference for me, but I never hesitate to recommend them. They’ve always been good to me, but I have no connection to Taurus, Remington, Marlin, or any other firearms or weapons manufacturer listed in my post.
As a final note, I strongly encourage anyone who may be interested in building there basic arsenal to do there own research and shop around. Prices vary, and I encourage purchasing used firearms from responsible dealers/individuals when possible, as prices on the used market may be drastically lower than retail. Get some range time in with the weapons before you purchase them. Make sure your comfortable with the way they feel in your hand and the way they fire.
Most dealers with ranges will allow you to “rent” a firearm for a nominal price to fire it so long as you purchase your ammunition from them. Take advantage of that. Try as many models and calibers as interest you. Maybe a .38 feels better in your hand than a .9. Or the game in your area dictates you replace the 12 gauge with a 30.06. My final suggestion is simply to make sure whatever you choose is a commonly available caliber. If SHTF, an unloaded gun will be about as useful as the gossip magazine in the grocery store line.
I can’t wait to hear your comments on the list! What’s in YOUR basic survival arsenal?
This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:
First Prize) Winner will receive a Nomad – 1 Person Standard Survival Package courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply, a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms, a $150 gift certificate for Remington Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com and a EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves. A total prize value of over $875.
Second Prize) Winner will receive two (2) Rothco Sure Paks With Heater courtesy of Camping Survival, a Wise Food Vegetable bucket courtesy of LPC Survival and a Wonder Junior hand grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $509.
Third Prize) Winner will receive 3 – 27 Variety of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds, 2 – Fruit Pack of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds and 2- First Aid Kit with Sutures in a Waterproof Resealable Bag courtesy of Be Prepared Now. A total prize value of over $215.
Contest ends on March 30 2012.