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


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


  1. So this author believes a prepper in a small town needs 12 guns, plus 4 backup guns, plus 4 to trade =a total of 20 firearms. Wow, that seems like quite a few to me. IT’d be nice to afford that many, but my wallet & bank acct aren’t nearly that rich, at least if I want to be able to eat & keep the roof over our heads.

    • JP in MT says:


      Just for comparison, in Montana there is an average of 23 registered firearms per resident. Not resident over a certain age or under one, 23 per!.

      Many people subscribe to the idea of the “perfect” gun for everything. Since I do a lot of different shooting, I have no found this to be the case.

      Many think that one gun per category is sufficient. That’s okay if you have found the one that never breaks or needs a “tune-up” so that it is always in service.

      In a SHTF situation, is everyone that could show up going to have what they need? Another reason to have a spare.

      This question of how many to have is like how much ammo should I have stored up. Personally, my answer is based on a question – how much will you need when there is none available to buy? If someone knows the answer to THAT question, I (and by extension my DW) would love to know.

      Quantity gives you options that limited quantity does not give you. And prepping is all about options. IMO

      • I agree with you, in principle, but, there are two major points being overlooked or underestimated in this article, and with the idea owning so many different guns: maintenance and ammunition.

        Why have entire “backup firearms” when you really should be concentrating on backup parts for the firearms you have. That means bolts, trigger groups and other internals. I think reliability and maintenance is much more important than having a wide range of different guns just for “backup.”

        What about ammunition? It is not at all practical to keep 10 different types of ammunition in any significant volume. Everyone knows how easy it is to quickly shoot up a lot of ammunition. In a real SHTF situation you obviously will not be buying more. Just look at how hard it was to buy ammo last year, just because people thought it was going to be banned. No, in SHTF environment, if you don’t have any ammunition you will have to FIND it. So why not start with the most popular – therefore least expensive – ammunition available, and limit to a few different types? If you happen to find ammunition, the odds are it will be one of the most popular.

        This makes the most sense to me: AK-47/AR 15, 12GA, 22, .45 and 9 mm.

        If you need a long-range or hunting rifle (I don’t at the moment), go with the most popular type. Backup parts still apply.

        Just my thoughts.

        • JP in MT says:


          To address come of your points.

          Parts are great (better I think) than guns, IF YOU KNOW HOW TO FIX THEM.

          I run into deals where I have ammo in calibers I don’t have guns for, for the same reason I have guns I don’t use.

          I don’t go out of my way to get these things, but once I have them (and a place to store them) I usually keep them. Just because I’m looking at a time when I can’t get the,. Hopefully I will drive my grand kids crazy when they have to clean it all out.

          • “Don’t go out of my way to get these things.”

            Naturally I would agree on that point. I would never say “no” to a gun I got for free or for a good price. I have a couple like that now, that I have no ammo for even. Ammo is the same way; never say no. Generally speaking, the price of firearms rarely go down, so they can always be sold or traded later.

            Personally, I think that, if you own a gun, you should ABSOLUTELY be able to disassemble/reassemble and replace parts, as needed. Not knowing how to maintain the firearms you own is like owning a car but only knowing how to put gas in it…only much, much worse.

    • Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

      I am guessing he has purchased them over time , some used , some on sale … unless he hit the lottery .

    • Weather weapons says:

      Weather weapons,
      Earthquake weapon,
      HAARP ,
      These are weapons of the elite being used around the world to take down opponents. Just saying.

    • tommy2rs says:

      RedC, I’ve got more than that in just one room. After 6 or 7 decades they tend to accumulate, kind of like dust bunnies.

  2. Nam Marine says:

    I have :
    1. A Ruger Mini-14 tactical carbine
    2. A Colt Government 1911 in Stainless steel
    3. A Colt Combat Commander blued
    4. A Ruger Lcp in .380
    I’m good for the time being .
    Oh….almost forgot, I am a former combat Marine, Vietnam
    1968-69. OooooooooooRah !

    • Jarheadusmc says:

      1. Spikes Tactical 16″ mid w/acc….. min/100 mags
      2. XD 9, 3″, 4″ & 5″ w/acc…min…. 40 mags ea.
      3. Mossberg 890A1 w/acc…

      And several more I won’t mention:

      Min. 5.56/7,000rds ea.
      Min. 9mm/7000rds ea.
      Min. 12g. OOB – 500 other l- 5000

      and a whole lot more I won’t mention

      You can’t buy enough ammo – .22 – 9mm – OOB – .45 – .40 -.380 these will be like gold for barter all the “extra” you might have, if extra.

      Give up the .45 – 9mm is cheaper to learn, shoot, and buy parts and ammo; not as prone to breakage and current 9mm jhp/124-147gr has been so efficient that even the FBI and Military are going back to and staying with 9mm.

      Just for comparison:

      1. State trooper in New England – shot twice in gut with .45jhp, drove himself to the hospital 25 miles away.
      2. Cop in Texas shot six times with .357, drove himself to hospital, both recovered ok.

      It’s shot placement, shot placement, shot placement. A .45 -9mm – .40- .10mm-, .357- even a .380 will all do the near identical damage placed in the very same spot. However, due to the large cap. of 9mm’s, up to 20 per mag, easier recoil and follow up shots, cheaper ammo, parts, etc, and the now proven equal damage of a .45 with the new JHP 124 and 147gr rounds – hands down, proven now by the mil. and forensic reports from all over the countries main city police reports and shooting results.

      But I’m with you brother, so are a lot more around here – Western Pa – I’m also Nam Vet – 68-69 Marines, with 6 well trained sons and my oldest granddaughter now marring a MARINE – oh if she only knew – lol

      Semper Fi – OooooooooRah!

      • I do not believe a person should use Ammo as barter. Just my opinion. I think a better item(s) for barter would be cigarettes and alcohol. I do not participate in using either but there will be plenty people who do and with these not being readily available anymore, well there are some who would just as soon go without food and would be willing to trade something of need for a smoke or a drink. Besides they could use the Ammo against you and you would lose everything. Again just my opinion

        • Bwhntr61 says:


          Your assessment on ammo is correct.,although a great barter item it could haunt you/ your group. Cigs and booze/beer would be excellent items to barter as you noted. But then again if it some guy and his desperate family who has trade items/ skill set you want, carefully trading some ammo to him might pay off. As always it is. A judgement call, based on your current situation and needs.

      • Axelsteve says:

        I know that I have never been in combat . I can guess that shot placement when the shtf can be pretty iffy. I prefer a bigger bullet when there are teeth and claws or lead coming my way.

        • I have been shot at before and have been in some pretty scary situations. The turd might be hitting the fan so to speak but I can guarantee you that ain’t the only thing it is hitting. Ones shorts come to mind

        • JP in MT says:


          Shot placement when lead is flying is difficult. It takes a special kind of nerve to stand and take an aimed shot. I suggest that people get trained, properly trained. The more stress you are under in practice, the more you can handle when things get real.

          • Axelsteve says:

            I agree JP I am just saying that shot placement and real sometimes do not match up. I have been shot at before and it is no day at the park.

    • Charles says:

      I’d rather have a Ruger mini-30, but good luck finding one of those for sale. I’d also like a Ruger 10/22 chambereds in .22 Magnum. Again…good luck finding one for sale.

      • Bwhntr61 says:


        No issue in SE WI finding a mini for sale. Cabelas and Gander Mtn have both. Now the 10/22 in .22 mag is problematic, as is the ammo.

  3. Thomas The Tinker says:

    My safe is full. My ammo dump is too. I’m good.

  4. Charles says:

    2 – 12 pump action shotguns chambered in 3″ magnum
    2 – .22 rifles with high capacity magazines and quality scopes
    1 – AK – 47 with multiple magazines
    1 – 30-06 bolt action rifle with scope

    gen II or higher night vision optics a desirable option.

    Don’t forget the edged weapons! They’re silent and reusable.

    • A nice sharp machete and you could take out three or four attackers before they know it. Don’t have to kill them right off. Just get them leaking quickly and let their own bodies do the rest. They will have adrenaline running through their veins so will have to be a major artery strike to attain enough leakage to put them down. Two would be better.

  5. Well, at least the author has a better take than one guy I read. His great idea was a full size 12ga. pump with full length mag. and a bayonet on the end. Wonder if he ever walked with that in the woods? I suppose he was figuring on an over the top charge and glory.
    My choice for my Midwest retreat is a highly modified single shot 12ga that hangs near my door. The attached light is a wonder for things that go bump in the night. BB or OO pretty much takes care of what’s around here.
    For the zombie biker hoards, there’s the auto loading 06 with a 10 shot mag. Why piss around with a .223 which I have but don’t use?

    • Charles says:

      A 12 ga. pump w/ full length mag and a fold-able or detachable bayonet is a fine thing. With a fold-able stock. w/ pistol grip, it is infinitely practicable as a close range weapon (50 yards , give or take 5 depending on the choke and barrel length). Far superior to ANY pistol…and it can also be used to put meat on the table…RELIABLY.

      And…if you’re talking about 30-06…NOTHING is simpler, and more reliable than a bolt action. It’s been the weapon of choice for both hunters AND snipers for generations. One shot…one kill.

      “Over the top charge to glory”? No. More like REPELLING an “over the top charge to TYRANNY”. It’s a last line of defense weapon (the 12 gauge shotgun). Your final stand. It will make even the most battle hardened veteran piss themselves in fear at the thought of walking into its field of fire! Nothing gets out unscathed. It WILL leave “a mark”.

      I do agree with you on the folly of the AR-15, .223 craze. I’ve seen the 7.62X39 in action. It is FAR superior to the NATO .223 round in all respects. That’s why my “assault rifle” is an AK-47.

      You seem like a thinking owner. Please don’t give short shrift to the 12 gauge shotgun. It could well save your life one day!

  6. M. Biccum says:

    My choice in what I have is “don’t ask, don’t tell” on an open, public forum such as this unless you want the Feds to come knocking on your door sometime down the road. I have nothing to brag about so they will go to your house sooner than mine and that’s the way I like it.

    • M. Biccum,

      If the feds start “knocking” on doors don’t worry you won’t be left out… I’m sure that the feds have much more efficient ways of find out what guns that you have besides reading a blog post about legally owned guns.

    • JP in MT says:

      In a country where “we” can’t “find” 13 million illegal aliens receiving government benefits how do you think things will work out when they try to “impound” 300 million firearms, most of which are in the hands of those who are unwilling to give them up?

      • mom of three says:

        Thumbs up… 🙂

      • Look at the roadblock the Feds could come up with in Oregon versus what they can do at our border with Mexico.
        Loose lips sink ships.

        • JP in MT says:

          You are correct as far as your thinking goes. I do not plan on “going to them”. They will have to come to me. That changes the dynamic of the situation. Some ways better, some worse.

          Never attack your enemies strength.

      • I agree!!!

    • Charles says:

      LOL! I have cousins that are Feds. Let them come. I do not discriminate based on anything at all. It is what it is. You want what’s mine? All you have to do is come and TRY to take it.

      Molon Labe!

  7. Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

    I have down sized the number over the past 15 years . 2 rifles , 1 shotgun , 1 pistol .

    Networking means friends are on the same ” ammo size ” page . Less calibers means more .

    I am in the mood to get another .357 revolver . Perhaps one day but not worried about it .

    GUNS FOR TRADING ……… Now that part of the article made my brain yell WHAT ? ? ? TRADING ? ? ? ?

    • Charles says:

      I’ve always been a .44 Mag., .45 auto kind of guy when it came to pistols. That having been said, the .357 magnum is one sweet load. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but they are one of the most accurate pistol rounds I’ve ever shot.

    • “…GUNS FOR TRADING ……… Now that part of the article made my brain yell WHAT ? ? ? TRADING ? ? ? ?…”

      Yup, my thoughts exactly. There’s no way I’m going to trade away something that can come back at me in the dark- which includes matches, arrows, knives, et-al.

      My arsenal isn’t as full as the author’s since I’m a “one-caliber-two-weapons” kind of guy, I keep it simple. Rifles, pistols, shotguns, buy three kinds of ammunition and reloading supplies for each.

      • Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

        Over the years I have always been amazed at the number of sites / articles that promote stocking up various goods for trading in a serious SHTF scenario . It is one thing to trade with friends or known aquaintances ……

  8. Overwatch says:

    “Ahem”, many posters on this blog have had boating accidents. That being said, I do like a variety of hardware. My Glock 23 in.357 Sig and my S&W 642 in .38 are my EDC. I have different guns for different outings. Fishing in the mountains? S&W mountain .44 mag. Tuxedos? Colt 1903 in .32 ACP. Target shooting? A .22 or my 1911. Zombies? My Kalashnikov with a 75 round drum. Protracted societal collapse ? AR-15 and Sig 226. Trap shooting? A crappy old bolt action Mossberg 12 ga. with little bluing and a split stock. Noise in the yard? Mossberg 590 with 00 buck and fixed bayonet.
    I once had to put down two old, sick horses humanely. The farrier told me a .357 magnum between the eyes always worked immediately. He was right.( I still feel bad about it but it had to be done.) I never carry that Ruger because it’s too damn heavy. Different tools for different jobs.

    • Charles says:

      LOVED your post, Overwatch! Too true. But even you have to admit that if confined to a tight budget, you’d forego a few of those tools in favor of ones that serve double duty.

      As a miserly type of fellow, those are the ones I focused on acquiring first…and I feel it appropriate to recommend others do the same.

      You need one assault rifle of high capacity.
      You need a shotgun.
      You need a sniper rifle.
      You need a small game rifle.
      Pistols are an unnecessary luxury…unless you have a rifle of matching caliber (ie., a .44 magnum). The weight would better be distributed in the form of extra ammo for the other more functional weapons.

      Just my humble opinion.

      • Overwatch says:

        A valid opinion. Our friend in Montana loves the pistol/ lever rifle combo. (Don’t you, JP?) Maybe I’ll do that next.
        Minimizing wasn’t something I learned as a virtue until my 40’s.

        • Rifle-pistol ammunition commonality is the only way to travel. Be it .357/38, .44mag/special, 9mm, .40 cal, keep it simple with a matching rifle and pistol. Cuts down on weight, reloading components, grabbing the wrong item on a spooky night… many reasons in favor, few against. Even a “cowboy assault rifle” will do the job of a mini-30 in spite of the magazine debate.

          Now, let the fireworks begin! 😀

  9. The closest I’ve been to small town living is big city suburban, so keep that in mind while I blather.

    I’d break down the guns into sections:

    Pure Fun, Practice, Hunting, Defense. There can be some overlap, of course.

    Pure Fun: Whatever: not particularly included in the survival battery. Might be useful, but that isn’t their purpose.

    One aspect to fun guns I don’t think I’ve seen addressed: If they are in less popular cartridges, you might be able to get ammunition for them when you can’t get ammo for the standard defensive stuff.

    After ammo supplies collapsed following the Sandy Hook school shooting, the stuff which was seriously out of stock were the ones everybody wanted most: .22, .38/357, .223, .308, 9mm, .45 ACP, 12 gauge buckshot and slugs. In many cases the other stuff was around.

    If you already have fun guns in other calibers, it might be worth having some extra ammo for them. Maybe not piles of the stuff, but more than whatever was left in the box from the last time out.

    Practice: these can overlap with fun, like a good air rifle with scope, or a .22 revolver if you have an essentially identical model for self defense. Example: S&W Model 63 in .22 is excellent practice for a J-frame S&W .38/.357.

    Same thing for a Model 1911 in .22 which gives practice for the bigger rounds. Especially if it is the bigger defense gun with a conversion kit. Given the price of conversion kits it might make some sense to just get a whole gun in .22. Maybe not.

    Hunting: I don’t see this as much more than fun guns for most people in most scenarios. Some people are in situations in which hunting would be a viable endeavor if they lived in walking distance and were already sport hunters with the skills and gear needed

    If things well and truly fall apart as in TEOTWAWKI, I suspect game isn’t going to last long in the suburbs, nor around small towns. If you are already a big game hunter and things get bad without a collapse, maybe you can come out ahead with some hunting. If you aren’t a hunter, it doesn’t make much sense to me to buy pure hunting guns with the thought that you will go hunting if things fall apart. It just doesn’t work that way.

    In TEOTWAWKI one might have a LOT of trouble getting to your regular hunting areas and back with game: they are just too far away, and a non-trivial number of other people might decide you successful hunters are easier to pot than deer/bear/elk/moose/Holstein/whatever.

    Defense: This seems to me like the foundation of a prepper weapons group, and only the individual can decide what gun/s etc are appropriate for their situation.

    If money is tight, a cheap multi-shot bolt action, semi-auto, or pump .22 rifle is a lot better for home defense than poking a bad guy with a wet mop.

    2nd hand models would be just fine if the more delicate parts are inspected by someone who knows what to look for, and if possible some spares parts are laid in, like firing pin, extractor, springs, stuff like that.

    Also, get online and print out a users manual and detailed disassembly/assembly instructions. Ideally get two or three different sets of instructions because nearly all of them leave out something.

    There is nothing like detail stripping your gun and the instructions, which say ‘reassemble in reverse order’ fail to mention that the widget (Part 137c) needs to be half turned to the left and held upside down while slowly depressing the flangithingee while moving it forward 3/4 inch while grinding your teeth to powder in order to ‘reassemble in reverse order’.

    If your gun needs a special tool for detail disassembly, maybe you should think about getting one, especially if you are concerned about TEOTWAWKI instead of just short term problems.

    Proper gun smithing screwdrivers are a must have because regular household screwdrivers will totally screw up your screw slots because they are shaped wrong for gun screws.

    Shotguns: I like them for home defense, but I dislike the ones with nothing but a pistol grip with no stock. They are way too hard for me to point well and they kick too much without a shoulder stock. Other people don’t have a problem with them, though. Your call, but I would sure want to try one out before making a commitment.

    I really like the shoulder stocks with full pistol grips, and if you think about how far your forearm extends back to the elbow, a stock really doesn’t take up much room when clearing a house, but does give vastly improved control.

    If you are a bird hunter or target shooter like skeet, trap, or such, you already have a shotgun which is already good for home defense. Unless it’s a single shot or a double, you can add a few parts to make it a great home defense gun: Shorter barrel, possibly with rifle sights for shooting slugs if that seems like it might be useful in your situation, magazine extension, maybe an oversize safety, maybe a flashlight or laser. Maybe a sling.

    The fewer gun types within each part of the defensive category, the better, because then you are less likely to fumble for the safety or the reload when you are under life or death stress.

    I want all my shotguns to have safeties at the back of the trigger guard, because that is where it is on my favorite fun shotgun. That’s the one I shoot the most, so my ingrained reaction is that is where the safety is. A defensive shotgun with the safety on the tang would be a hazard for me.

    Pistols should all have safeties in the same position, and magazine releases ditto. In revolvers, the cylinder releases should should all be pushed in the same direction -different manufacturers are not all alike: some push forward, some pull backward, some rock. Fumbling that under stress is a really bad thing.

    That’s where thinking in terms of sets can help. Sets of pistols, no matter what they are used for, all have identical controls, Sets of shotguns: ditto. Sets of rifles: ditto. That way you are training in certain basic reactions, like taking the safety off, or reloading, which you are then less likely to fumble under pressure.

    The last thing you want to do when a bad guy is swinging his gun toward you is have to ask yourself “Uh…where is the safety on THIS gun?” Bang. You lose.

  10. Weapons are always going to mean compromise. I let Logistics dictate my choices. I try to Keep It Simple.
    I have 3 handguns. All in S&W40. Two are the same make and model. Spare Parts made simple and they use the same magazines. The 3rd is a sub compact for EDC. No confusion in the dark with ammo. I can afford more ammo by concentrating on one caliber.
    The wife’s EDC is a 38 revolver. She can handle the 40 S&W’s but she has physical trouble chambering a round in a semi-auto.
    A 12 gauge Mossberg 500 with 3 barrels and a Mossberg 22LR finish it off.

    • Charles says:

      I love my Mossberg 500 AG 3″ mag. pump with poly choke! It’a a life taker and heart breaker. If I could only have one gun, I think that would be it. Range may be limited, but it will kill ANYTHING closer than 50 yards…PERIOD!

    • Should remember that while the 357 sig is an excellent round I doubt if the proverbial turd hits the fan that it is going to be readily available. I would stick with 12 gauge, 223, 9mm, 40 S&W, or 45 acp. By the way I love off calibers too. One of my most favorite was the 327 federal. Had one and curse the day I sold it. One could always get into reloading and buy all the necessary components for their guns. A healthy stock of those calibers would be nice

      • Overwatch says:

        I still have the .40 S&W barrel for the Glock. We also had healthy supplies of ammo in all calibers prior to the boating accident .

  11. My views on this is to have rings of protection. Long range,medium range battle rifle, close range shotgun and handgun. Common calibers are a plus, but you have what you have. As long as you know how to use the weapon and are proficient with it your chances of survival have gone up.

  12. Everybody has their own “perfect” collection. I agree that staying in standard calibers makes sense, and I also like to do things in pairs. I have doubles on the essentials – so if one goes down, its backup is identical in function, if not appearance. I used to think I had all the guns a man could want, but then I found 8 more I simply must have, and sadly three of them are in calibers I don’t stock, so more mouths to feed, more calibers to buy. Oh wait. I’m broke. Back to the pellet gun! For inexpensive practice that carries over, it’s a good way to conserve the big stuff. Guns for trade? NOPE. I might give you food for your guns/ammo – but mine are family. Oh and no, the government won’t be “confiscating” anything here. When they come for the guns, ANY GUNS, it’s the shot heard ’round the world- it’s ON, that’s all she wrote – like lock and load- because they are not just coming for the guns- they are coming for YOU, and at that point you have nothing left to lose.

  13. West of the Big Chicken says:

    One gun no one has talked about is having a high powered pellet gun for sport hunting. Deadly on small game and quiet.

    • JP in MT says:


      The reason I have one is 5,000 rounds of ammunition cost about $30.00. I bought one with the “expansion chamber” on the muzzle in .22 caliber. under 1,000 fps; deadly and quiet.

    • Charles says:

      Another one no one is talking about is the .50 caliber muzzle loader. It ain’t quiet, but you can keep it fed almost indefinitely if you know how to make your own powder. It makes for a good survival tool.

      • Only if you’re using a flintlock. Cap is a whole other issue since you’d need be a chemist to make them- if you can find the fulminate of Mercury and a copper or aluminum nip. A flint can be chipped off almost any hard rock.

        Otherwise, definitely consider BP for protracted hunting, sport, and self defense.

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      West…/ I always thought of a pellet rifle or pistol as something like an old wallet that you’ve always had and knew where to reach for it… didn’t need to talk about it much… cause it was right where it always is. My pistol is up on the desk next to the attic window where I snipe black birds and starlings. The scoped rifle is leaning against the bench in the basement next to the range ‘go bag’. (I like to practice on the cans and water bottles the range slobs leave behind) The iron sighted rifle in is a rack in the rafter over the potting bench at the basement door where I like to snipe the same pesty,.. crapping on everything… seed picking .. Starlings and Geeks. ( I feed the tree rats…. helps build the local herd and keeps em closer to the pot. .. my pot ) I loves my airguns cause they demand I slow down and aim small.

      • Pplus they are just downright fun to shoot. Relatively cheap Ammo and very deadly and quiet. Should be in every bodies list of bug out guns.

      • Axelsteve says:

        The pellet rifle deserves a spot in a survival arsenal as far as I an concerned. My friend has one that his son kills squirrels at 100 yards.I think both a pump and a co2 would work well.Another thing about them is you can shoot a pesky dog or coyote in the rear just to encourage it to move on off of your property. Or pesky 2 legged coyote for that matter.

  14. Illini Warrior says:

    I totally understand the “why” behind your suggestion of 20g shotguns for hunting – the article needs it’s differences and controversy ….

    but for practical prepping purposes you don’t buy shotguns of different gauge and manufacture/model between hunting & defense – you buy just the necessary modifications …. and you most certainly don’t split your ammo gauge supply just have something to discuss …

  15. Enzo Pamrona says:

    I would like to ask all of you a question…when the bell rings, which ONE gun will you grab? If you have to take a few seconds to answer that question you are in serious trouble. You will have time to grab only one gun (no matter what you are doing), maybe two.

    That is why we carried one 38 Special on our belt back in the day (9mm semi-auto today), maybe a 12 gauge racked on the dash of the cruiser. I watch today’s troopers with their choice of shotgun or rifle and wonder how confused they get when challenged. Choosing is not always as easy as it might seem.

    I keep my choices simple, a 12 gauge and a 9mm. I know what I will be using so I save that precious time in responding. All of your pistol cartridges will perform about the same, shotgun rules over everything.

    Do you think you will go heavily armed about your business so you are “always ready?” My guess is no. Wearing a full duty belt for eight or more hours each days is tiring, hard on the back. Now that I am officially approaching old-codgerdom, that prospect is daunting.

    As always, YMMV! ;=}

    God be with you,


    • “…Wearing a full duty belt for eight or more hours each days is tiring, hard on the back…”

      Yup, but there won’t be a need to wear a full duty rig. At the moment, I wear a full size XD and spare mag on the belt with a multi-tool and a folder in the pants pocket. Never have felt it wear me down after a full day carry.

      So, to answer your question, “…Do you think you will go heavily armed about your business so you are “always ready?…” Yes, I do. I’ll just do it without hand cuffs, flashlights, mace, Taser, etc.

  16. Thomas The Tinker says:

    Enzo Darlin…. my answer is…. Both my “9 irons” My Glock 26 “9mm” EDC and my Mossy “9round” 20ga. The one gun thang is fun to talk over…… but that is what EDC is about as well…

    • Enzo Pamrona says:

      Thomas, I like your answer. And in my first paragraph I hint at that possibility. A 9mm semi-auto (or 38 Special revolver if you prefer) and a 12 gauge will carry far onto the new frontier. Those two plus an ammo box with 12 gauge and 9mm (or 38s) will support you for quite a while.

      Don’t I like to collect guns? Why, OF COURSE, I do. I have owned one (or more) of just about everything over the last 45+ years. But not now. I have pared back to just what I consider the basics, and I am thinking I can be even more basic than that.

      Thomas, I like your choice of 20 gauge for your shotgun. My shoulders are torn up and I dread the recoil of a 12 gauge. I need to move to a 20 gauge. Now I just have to find a home for all that 12 gauge ammo. :={


  17. Fun article Jeff C: gun guys never get tired of sitting around the campfire and sharing their opinions.

    I also fall into the camp of less is more. Start with a semi-auto carbine and at least 6 full capacity magazines with 1000 rounds for it. One option to enable one rifle to be effective from room-clearing distance to 300 yards is a variable low-power scope. I am partial to Leupold: they make a 1.5-4 power with a green “firedot” that enables this scope to function like a red-dot with low magnification but can easily engage a target (even with my aging eyes) at 300 yards.

    Add a full size handgun: revolvers are fun and there are a few people who are very proficient with them, but I much prefer semi-auto with 15 round or better magazines. There are too many great choices in this category to count in a variety of budget ranges. Add at least two spare magazines and 500 rounds of ammunition.

    Next comes a short-barrel shotgun: I prefer 20 gauge and find it entirely adequate, but they are typically more difficult to come by and, therefore, more expensive. Add 100 rounds of buckshot. Note: don’t bother planning to use this to hunt: shells are far too bulky and expensive to store enough to use a shotgun for hunting small game or game birds: shoot them in the head with a .22 (or air rifle) or forget about them.

    Which brings us to firearm number 5: a scoped .22 rifle. Semi-automatic (like the excellent Ruger 10/22) is optional: any respectable bolt action will do the job. Add 1000 rounds of .22 ammo.

    While the full-size handgun is concealable, it can be a challenge to do so. Firearm number 6 is a sub-compact semi-auto handgun. I prefer 9 mm in my handguns since one caliber will supply both full-size and sub-compact handguns. The Glock 43, the Kahr PM9 and CM9, and the Ruger LC9s (just to name a few) are excellent choices and span a wide price range. Add a spare magazine and a holster for deep concealment: I prefer a pocket holster since I never have enough room inside my waistband.

    The sixth and final firearm is a larger caliber rifle: I prefer .308. There are a number of excellent semi-autos like the Springfield M1A or the DPMS Recon. However, since you will also need a good scope (3-9 power or better) and some rifles (like the M1A) are not designed for easy/inexpensive scope mounting (not to mention the cost of magazines) this option can quickly become very pricey. A bolt action will do the job (and for superior precision some will do a better job than the semi-autos): a box magazine and a flash hider are each a plus. Add several 20 round magazines (if possible) and 300 rounds of ammo (for a bolt action) and you will have a hard-hitting round to 300 yards and (well) beyond.

    One additional thought: each of the first three suggestions is suitable for defense inside a home (depending on the situation). Therefore, I highly recommend adding a white light to each.

    If the budget allows, a back-up for each is a great idea, especially if the back-ups can be stored in a different location: we don’t want to lose all of our firearms and ammunition in a house fire. Also, while the order I suggested is my ideal, it may not be feasible for budget or other reasons: get what you can when you can but have a plan in mind so you do not end up with a lot of guns you really don’t want (although some would say that is impossible).

  18. jay sharpe says:

    how about; 9mil however meany u want to have.
    7.62, (screw the .223), personalty I like the HK91, and AK47.
    however there are any number of makes out there.
    at lest two 12gauge pumps, one of them with a folding stock would be nice.
    for hunting, a couple of 10/22’s in long rifle
    a couple of lever action 45/70’s, at lest two bolt action 30/06’s
    a 300mag, and either a .375 mag, or a .458mag, pre. ’64 Winchester’s would be nice
    for fun the old 30 cal carbine is fun to shoot, and a good ‘kid’s gun’, ah something else, one or two reproduction sharps rifles in 45/70, or 45/120, (or both).
    that’s it for my legal list, if you have the right kind of FFL then I would get a couple of G3’s or Fn’s and at lest one MG2, or 3 (ak Mg42’s in 7.62)

  19. Shootit says:

    I lost my slingshot in a boating accident when I was 8.

    • It’s probably the slingshot I hooked and played like a three pound crappie. You nearly ruined my day when I brought that up. Darn kids. 😉

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!