15 Best Guns for Preppers

Rich M.
By Rich M. February 28, 2019 09:31

15 Best Guns for Preppers

If you want to get a debate going amongst survival types, all you have to do is say, “The best survival gun is ­­_____.” It really doesn’t matter what type of gun you fill in the blank there, you could say a Kentucky Long Rifle or a Blunderbuss. Regardless of what it is, you’ll get a whole bunch of people responding, telling you why your choice is wrong and their favorite gun is the survival gun of choice.

Part of the problem is that there really is no one perfect gun for survival; I don’t care what you pick. Survival needs are so varied, that there really isn’t one gun that will do everything you need. If you’re serious about survival, you need a small arsenal of personal firearms, picking out the best possible gun for each specific purpose.

By the way, that small arsenal I mentioned is a small arsenal for each shooter in your survival team. Unless each member of your team only has one job to do, they’re probably going to need multiple types of guns.

Of course, if you bug out, you’re not going to be able to take the whole arsenal with you. In that case, you’re going to have to limit it to one long gun (rifle or shotgun) and one sidearm per person. It’s not just the weight of the guns you have to consider, but the weight of the ammunition as well.

One way to handle this is to arm your bug out survival team with a variety of different long guns. This will allow you to have that same sort of variety that your personal arsenal gives you, while limiting the weight that each person has to carry. If you standardize a bit on the guns you all buy, then you should all be accustomed to shooting the same guns, meaning that you can switch guns back and forth between you, without a whole lot of problem.

That still leaves us with the problem of what guns to buy. Basically, that means guns for:

  • Personal defense (pistols)
  • Home or survival retreat defense
  • Team defense on a bug out
  • Hunting big game
  • Hunting small game
  • Hunting birds

Let’s take a look at some of the best out there. You might not agree with me about some of these choices and you have a right to your opinion. But these are some of the best I see out there. I’ve purposely avoided all fully-automatic firearms, because I don’t feel they are practical for a survival situation. You would go through too much ammunition, too quickly.


I’m personally a fan of semi-automatics, rather than revolvers. Yes, I know that revolvers are simpler and less likely to break. But if I’m depending on a pistol for my life, I want to have the most firepower possible. I just don’t like the idea of being limited to six rounds. While there are speed loaders out there, I have only met one former police officer who can actually load a revolver as fast with a speed loader, as the average shooter can slap a fresh magazine into a semi-automatic.

There’s also a lot of discussion out there about caliber. Personally, I’m a .45 fan, probably because that’s what I learned to shoot in the Army. But my survival gun is a 9mm. This is the single most popular caliber in the world, meaning that it is the one which will be most likely to be available for barter. So, while I carry a .45 every day, I also have a 9mm for my survival sidearm.

Glock Model 19

Glocks are probably one of the most popular pistols on the market; largely due to the ease of customization. All Glocks are basically the same, regardless of the caliber of frame size. That makes it extremely easy for aftermarket parts companies to produce parts for them. Their wide use in the law-enforcement community gives them enough of a market to make it profitable to do so.

The model 19 is their compact 9mm version, a slightly smaller version of the model 17. While carrying two rounds less in the magazine, the double-stack design still allows for 15 rounds, a very respectable load. Yet at the same time, the model 19 is smaller, lighter and easier to conceal than the model 17.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield

The Smith & Wesson M&P is one of the top-selling pistols in the USA today. This is largely due to its compact size and light weight. This single-stack pistol is great as a concealable gun, making it ideal for everyday carry. In a survival situation, it might be an ideal backup gun, hidden away in case the primary is lost or taken from you.

Even though this is a subcompact semi-automatic pistol, it has s solid trigger. The standard magazine gives you a 7 round capacity, as opposed to most concealable guns, which only hold 6. That one extra round is a big advantage and has contributed considerably to the M&P’s popularity.

SigSauer P320

The SigSauer P320 has just recently been adopted by the US Military as the new sidearm, replacing the Beretta M9, which was the sidearm from 1985 to present times. Like the Glock, the Sig is a highly modular design, which we can expect to see a lot of aftermarket parts coming out for.

Having owned a SigSauer, I can testify to their reliability and ease of use. One of the things that has made this particular model so popular, and which won it the military contract, is that three different grip modules can be used with it, allowing it to accommodate different sizes of hands.

Colt 1911

I can’t let this list go without at least one pistol which isn’t a 9mm. There’s a good reason why the venerable Colt 1911 was the military sidearm for an amazing 74 years; that’s because it is so effective. Invented by James Browning, this pistol was created with the idea of combating Moro tribesmen, who would come out of the jungle high on drugs. The larger diameter and rather blunt .45 ACP round was excellent at transferring its energy into these tribesmen, increasing the chance of knocking them down, even if they didn’t feel the hit.

There are so many 1911s in circulation, that you can find a wide variety of aftermarket parts for them, just like Glocks. In fact, it almost seems like it’s hard to find a 1911 which hasn’t been modified, even if that only means changing the grips.

Related: 6 Reliable ‘Pocket’ Revolvers For Off-grid Defense


The main gun for most people will of necessity be a rifle of some sort. The question then is, what sort of rifle. That can be a bit difficult to decide, as the same rifle might have to be used for multiple purposes. A rifle which works for hunting really isn’t all that good for home defense. One that is good for hunting big game, will splatter small game all over the landscape. So how to pick?

As with the pistols, I’d stick with the most popular rifle calibers out there; that’s 5.56mm/.223 caliber and 7.62mm/.308 caliber. While there are a lot of other good hunting calibers out there, like the .30-30 and .30-06, those calibers don’t work for tactical rifles. So, not only will they probably be harder to find in a post-disaster world, but you’ll have to stock more calibers of ammunition.

Once again, I would go with more than one rifle; perhaps a tactical rifle and a hunting rifle. That would give me more flexibility. If an AR-15, chambered in 5.56mm/.223 caliber is the tactical rifle, then a .22LR kit will allow it to be used for hunting small game as well.

On the other hand, an AR-15, chambered in 5.56mm/.223 caliber really isn’t a good hunting round for big game. You’re much better off with a 7.62mm/.308 caliber, or the other hunting calibers I mentioned above. A lot will depend on your team picks to standardize on and how you go about stockpiling your ammo.

Some people claim that a .22LR is an ideal survival rifle and there are even a couple of collapsible .22LR survival guns on the market. But you’re limited in what you can do with any .22LR. While good for shooting small game, that’s really all they are good for. Granted, if that’s all you have for self-defense, you use it; but why would you want to set yourself up that way?


The AR-15 is inarguably the most popular sporting rifle in the country today. There are a number of things which contribute to this, but probably the flexibility and customizability of the design are the main reasons. You can literally do just about anything with this platform, setting it up for just about any purpose. I’m not even going to try and pick a specific AR-15 model as the best, as there are so many of them out there. Mine is custom made, as are many others.

Because of its capability, the AR-15 has also become the number one rifle for most preppers. If you need a rifle for defensive purposes, this will do much better than the hunting rifles mentioned further down. But the standard 5.56mm/.223 caliber cartridge really isn’t heavy enough for big game hunting.

Nevertheless, I’d recommend that everyone have an AR-15 in their personal arsenal, along with plenty of extra magazines. I’d also recommend buying one that is chambered in the standard 5.56mm, rather than something larger. As a defensive round, the 5.56mm is excellent. You can also use this gun for varmints and hunting small game, especially if you get the .22LR conversion kit I mentioned earlier.


The AR-10 was actually the predecessor to the AR-15, chambered in the larger 7.62mm. While it was off the market for a lot of years, it has become more popular in recent times. Basically, it offers you everything the AR-15 does, in a larger caliber. This gives you the advantage of being able to use it for hunting large game.


There are those who prefer the Soviet Union’s AK-47 over the AR-15. I’m personally a bit prejudiced against them; but that’s due to my time in the Army. The AK-47 is an excellent rifle, as proven out by how popular it is, around the world.

One of the greatest advantages the AK-47 has over any other rifle on the market is that it is virtually indestructible. You can take an AK-47 underwater or in a mud puddle and fire it, without damaging the gun in any way. There are few other guns around that you can do that to. Designed for simplicity and ruggedness, the AK-47 could actually be the ideal survival rifle, as it would probably last forever.

Chambered for the 7.62mm round, the AK can be used for hunting big game, unlike the standard AR-15. This is an advantage too. Having a rifle that works for both defensive purposes and hunting, all in one package, is ideal for survival.

Related: The AK-47 vs AR-15: Which Rifle is Better When SHTF?

Remington 700

The Remington 700 series of rifles has been a favorite of hunters for many years. It’s also made itself quite a reputation as a sniper rifle in the US Army. While we now have other sniper rifles which are much higher caliber and have much longer ranges, there’s no doubting the quality and reliability of the 700.

My personal Remington 700 is chambered in .308 caliber/7.62mm, in the belief that this will be easier caliber ammunition to find. I’ve customized mine, putting a MagPul tactical stock on it and a bi-pod. I’ve also put the magazine well in it, so that I can change magazines quickly and easily. You have to buy one that’s made for this, or you can’t do that modification. While my 700 is intended to be a hunting rifle, the mods I’ve made make it possible to use it as a sniper rifle, if I should so need.

Mauser M18

Mauser has quite a reputation for rifles, especially bolt-action ones. It comes from the factory chambered in 3.08, with a detachable magazine and an adjustable trigger. This is nice, as it allows you to lighten up the trigger pull for more accurate shooting. The three-stage safety allows you to carry the rifle with a round in the chamber, without having to worry about it being forced to go off.

This rifle is filled with convenient features, like a storage chamber in the stock; a great place to keep your cleaning supplies. If you think about that, it’s a great idea for a survival gun. It’s also got a fairly short barrel, making it ideal as a brush gun.

Browning X-Bolt Hunter

This browning comes with a detachable rotary magazine, which I consider a necessity for a survival rifle. But what makes it really special is the way it handles recoil. The “recoil index technology” used in its design pushes the stock down and away from the shooter’s face. Like the Mauser, the trigger is adjustable, with a low end of just 3 pounds.

While I expect Brownings to have excellent design, they didn’t miss a thing on this one. The barrel is free-floating, which increases accuracy, especially when making multiple shots over long distances. On top of that, the ergonomics are outstanding, making it a very easy rifle to work with.


When we talk shotguns in the prepping and survival community, we’re talking 12 gauge; so let’s get that out of the way to start with. I’m not even going to think about 20 gauge or .410.

In many ways, the shotgun is the ideal survival firearm, mostly due to its flexibility. The shotgun has two primary purposes in survival, just like the rifle, hunting and defense. But the thing is, you can hunt for just about anything with a shotgun, out to about 100 yards, just by changing the type of ammunition you are using. Small game can be hunted with the same rounds as birds, slugs can be used for big game and a combination of buckshot and slugs can be used in defensive situations.

Shotguns can be broken down into two basic groups: tactical shotguns and hunting shotguns. There are two basic differences between these two. The first is barrel length, the average tactical shotgun barrel is only 18.5 inches, while the average hunting barrel is 26 to 25 inches. The other is the number of rounds they hold in the magazine. Hunting shotguns are generally limited to three rounds, while tactical shotguns can hold three, five or seven. Some even have replaceable magazines.

While tactical shotguns really aren’t designed for hunting, especially bird hunting, I think they could still be useful for hunting in a survival situation. The key is the choke. Most tactical shotguns are “full bore” meaning that the muzzle doesn’t close in any, providing a “choke.” But that’s not to say they can’t be.

Not only that, but the chokes on some shotguns can be changed. So, if you have a tactical shotgun with interchangeable chokes, you could leave it full bore for tactical uses, then change it to “full choke” to get a tighter pattern for hunting. It wouldn’t be quite as good as a hunting shotgun, but it would be acceptable. Just don’t try running a slug down that barrel with full choke.

Related: I Asked a Friend What I Should Stockpile for SHTF: The Great .223 Remington Or The Stalwart .308 Winchester?

Kel-Tek KSG

I was very impressed the first time I saw Kel-Tek’s SKG. This is a dual-magazine, bullpup shotgun, designed specifically for building clearing and other CQB applications. Each magazine holds 7 rounds, giving you a total capacity of 15. One magazine could be filled with slugs and the other buckshot, allowing you to switch easily between the two. The only thing wrong with it is that the magazines aren’t removable, so it takes a bit of time to reload it.

In my opinion, this is the best possible firearm for home defense, providing a lot of firepower in a compact, easy to use design. If I had to defend my home from a gang of attackers, this is what I would want to use. However, I’d want my AR-15 standing by, in case I needed more than the 15 rounds it holds.

Another great use for the KSG is the slack man when on patrol. This is the backup person for the point man. Their job is to protect the point man, in case he comes under fire. As such, they need a lot of firepower that they can throw out there, quickly.


The UTAS UTS-15 is very similar to the Kel-Tek SHG, just from a different manufacturer. Some claim that it is better, as well as being a bit cheaper. I won’t judge between the two; but would rather suggest that you look at both, if you’re thinking about buying one of them.

Mossberg 590

If there is any company which is known for tactical shotguns, it’s Mossberg. Probably just about every police department in the nation has their products in their armory. Mossberg shotguns are reliable and designed specifically to be tactical guns; they’re not just a cut-down version of a hunting shotgun.

While Mossberg has a number of excellent models, the 590 has the advantage of having a replaceable box magazine. You can get 10 or 20 round magazines for it. From what I understand, the 20 round makes it a little harder to pump the gun and load a new round. But that advantage is something well worth having in a tactical situation.

Mossberg shotguns are also designed either with sights or for the addition of optics. Typically the 590 comes with ring and post sights, which are easy to work with. Personally, I’d probably change this over to a red dot sight, just because the red dot is so much faster to use.

Remington 870

For hunting, the Remington 870 is probably the top choice. Since coming out in 1950, this shotgun has become one of the most popular on the market. Its reasonable price adds to this popularity, while the quality makes it one that you can count on.

Winchester 1300

The other top shotgun for hunting would be the Winchester 1300. This is commonly known as the “speed pump” due to the fast cycling you can accomplish with it.

While there are many other good hunting shotguns out there, these two models are popular and inexpensive. Should there be a need to find parts for repairs, chances are that it will be easier to find parts for these, than if you were to pick out some high-grade shotgun that wasn’t so popular. In a post-disaster world, that’s something you just can’t afford.

You may also like:

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Rich M.
By Rich M. February 28, 2019 09:31
Write a comment


  1. Wolverine February 28, 15:28

    One gun I didn’t see on your list, the good old .22 ???

    Reply to this comment
    • FuzzyFace February 28, 17:32

      He mentioned the .22 in the beginning, but argued that it is a limited caliber so why have that one if you can get something with more versatility.

      I personally do have a .22 in my arsenal and think everyone should. The ammo is inexpensive and plentiful. The decibel range is relatively quiet and if we are truly talking a SHTF scenario I would rather make as little noise as possible (also why I have an bow too). Also can save your hearing in the long run unless you happen to have some peltors but then why would we waste the batteries?

      Lots of things to consider and so many variables. No one right answer and the list above has some excellent guns listed to consider.

      Reply to this comment
      • dp February 28, 20:47

        The .22 is going to be your main hunting gun. Never discount the venerable .22 whether a bolt or a semi-auto.

        it will bring home game up to small deer size with proper shot placement, it is quiet, accurate, and you can easily carry hundreds of rounds of ammunition without weighing you down.

        Not only that, but you can carry various types of ammo. Everything from shot shells, and very quiet subsonic rounds, to high powered light weight hollow points.

        If I get jumped by a roving band of zombies while shooting for some food… I would much rather have 1000 rounds of .22 on me than two or three 30 rnd .223 mags, and an AR-15.

        A dead Zombie is a dead zombie, and no one cares what caliber got the job at hand done.

        Simple fact that the lowly .22 gets the job done, and you can easily carry 1000 rounds of ammo in your pockets with out any major effort.

        Reply to this comment
    • Scott February 28, 17:48

      My first thought too.

      Reply to this comment
    • Meathead February 28, 18:40

      He mentioned .22 several times including the .22 ‘drop-in’ for the AR-15.
      The .22 ‘drop-in’ WILL NOT cycle for semi-automatic fire (not enough gas pressure), so the Charging Handle must be cycled to eject the spent round and insert a live round.

      Reply to this comment
    • Ranger A July 7, 22:52

      .22 LR weighs around 7.5 pounds per thousand , so that would be a lot of weight and bulk to carry around in your pockets. A small backpack would be a better alternative for that amount of ammo.

      Reply to this comment
    • Graywolf12 February 26, 14:56

      I have used the lowly .22 on everything from rats to White Tail deer. Only close range and head shots on deer because I did not want to loose a lot of meat to the crows and rodents.

      Reply to this comment
  2. radarphos February 28, 15:47

    Claude, Thanks for sharing. I read a lot of these types of posts as a (so far) non-any-type of gun owner (other than pellet). Your post is the best by far (it makes so much sense to me), and partially by including “team thought” that I have not read in any other post. I haven’t bought yet (X about 4 years now of studying the subject) because I made rules for myself, particularly with self-defense weapons. but also because I am still working and have time constraints in my aging family. My rule is never accidentally hit an innocent; and I told myself that if I would not practice, I should not bother to own (for the reason of not measuring up to my #1 rule). I bought a SIRT to learn from; but I haven’t practiced it due to time constraints. My dilemma is eye astigmatism (I can’t focus my eyes); and then my other biggest concern is, “What would make me want to pick one of my kids (40s, whose bad habits have been worse than mine) to inherit my stuff? I do have the opinion that some people should never own (but learn how to run). the fact that I read your article means that I have not given up on the quest to deal with this matter well, maybe later this year or the next.

    Reply to this comment
    • Dreaded February 28, 22:11

      radarphos, From what you said it appears you need to just do it or don’t do it there is no in between. You may not have time to wait till next year or even this summer. A prepper means one thing being prepared for an event that will most likely happen in your lifetime. My self I am retired on SS and not much funds to spend on prepping but I am prepared as much as I can be. I own several guns i bought or traded for and I have learned a lot from others, as to family getting those guns well I raised them as best I could and what they do with them is on them and not me. See you can only be responsible for you and your young and not someone that is an adult.
      Events are happening that I believe will lead to a SHTF (shit hits the fan)and those events are not easy to see. It I think will be an economic caused event first. Then that will cause the SFTY (Shit flies toward you)lol witch is the reason you prep.

      Reply to this comment
      • radarphos March 4, 16:01

        Dreaded. Thanks for your comments. I think you are right…and in a general way I have always thought this way; but my limitations have held me back.
        I have been watching, listening, and transcribing a free (at the cost of s/h) DVD offered by Jason Hanson. It is his recommended offer referring to Goat’s Bags, and the prep-planning done by experts related to BOBs, GHB’s, and other bags. I was astounded that a (possibly) now retired expert carried a .357 revolver with the first two rounds of rat shot, and the other four full .357. What he described was the possibility of being surprised (and unready), except for expert quick draw+accurate fire…but because of that unready suprise that could happen to anyone, the rat shots would be a non-lethal NOTIFICATION that would likely result in a retreat (or pause), that would be followed by much more serious activity that from an expert would be very serious. What it did for me, is give me a “GO”, similar to your recommendation. It became a way to get started and set aside my hesitations. In Jason Hanson’s intro to a special friend, he suggested that watchers would see “a thing or two” that they never have seen elsewhere. Actually though, it is dozens of things that, in my case, I have never seen nor heard of anywhere; and it has changed my whole view of how to carry Preparedness Bags (on my person), and more. It is well worth the $6.00 s/h. So I thank you for your comment, and it fits with newer (brand new to me) info that I have recently acquired…and I just appreciate it all, after 4 years+ of struggling to understand what I might, and overcoming my stuckness.

        Reply to this comment
    • Hacksaw March 1, 14:11

      Radarphos: I recommend getting a 20 gauge pump or semi auto shot gun for your self defense. You don’t need great vision to use it. Just point in the right direction and pull the trigger. It’s light and has little recoil and it can also be used for hunting small to medium sized game. Also a very common type of ammo so it should be accessible when SHTF. If you don’t trust your kids designate a friend to take possession when you pass on.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck March 1, 22:33

        Please, Hacksaw, the urban myth that one does not have to aim a shotgun is just that, an urban myth. By the time the shot column reaches maximum dispersal to do what you suggest it does the velocity of the pellets has dropped to the point all they are good for is breaking clay pigeons.

        At household distances, even with a cylinder bore the shot column of any bore shotgun is only about ten percent bigger than the bore of the muzzle. If your shot is only one inch in diameter, it is quite easy to miss if you just point in the general direction of the target. At household distances the shotgun must be aimed just as any other gun must be aimed at those close ranges.

        You can prove that to yourself if you care to at any range that will allow you to fire a shotgun or the next time you are out plinking, put a sheet of cardboard out that is about the size of a human horse and just point your shotgun in its general direction, don’t bother looking at the signs. See how many hits you get. No, no, no aiming, just throw the gun to your shoulder and are as soon a the butt is against your shoulder.

        Reply to this comment
        • Thomas March 3, 03:16

          12 ga field loads are cheaper and better with about the same recoil. I cast buckshot and wad slugs for hunting, they work well and are much cheaper to shoot in volume.

          Reply to this comment
      • Fuzznuts February 26, 13:51

        While .20 ga. shotguns are underrated, in the scenario above, ammo is NOT going to be as likely to be available as .12 ga. I have a .22 rifle and pistol; but if I have to “bug out”, it’s the Saiga .223 rifle I will take with. I pack fmj, “penetrators” and hollow points. Sidearm is my .45 ACP along with my .22 revolver, packed in my ammo bag with 200 rounds of hp…

        Reply to this comment
        • dp February 27, 04:24

          The .22 is certainly under rated by many people. It is an accurate small game getter. It is quiet anyway, so that makes it easy to build a can for from junk materials (old flashlight, washers, spacers, etc) to make it even quieter. There is something to be said for being able to load your pockets with 200-300 rounds and still carry all of your other gear easily.

          I also prefer the .45 – in a 1911 platform because that is what I shoot well, but a .357 revolver will take down small dear, and it can also shoot 38 spcl.

          I would hate to have to bug out and have to make this choice… all of my guns have something that they excel at, whether it be hunting, self defense, or “other.”

          By other I mean like my Mosin or SKS with plenty of cheap surplus ammo that I can arm other members of the household, and trusted neighbors for common defense.

          Reply to this comment
          • Raven tactical February 27, 11:32

            Why a relic like the 1911 ?

            The sks is nice but the ak is light years ahead.

            Ar15s can be had for 400 now.

            Reply to this comment
            • dp February 27, 12:46

              Because it is accurate, reliable, well balanced, and it has one of the best triggers ever put into a hand gun. Therefore, I shoot it well.

              I have had many plastic, striker fired guns, and in my opinion the trigger on all of them are crap next to a 1911. Plus a plastic body with a metal slide causes the gun to be top heavy and unbalanced resulting in excessive muzzle flip especially when you go from 9 mm to something snappier like .40 cal.

              I also like the .45 ACP as with the heavier, balanced 1911 it gives more of a push than a snap.

              Reply to this comment
    • Graywolf12 July 7, 23:37

      get a laser sight. a gun smith or a person on a gun range an zero it in for you.

      Reply to this comment
  3. left coast chuck February 28, 15:51

    As the author states, there is no single all-purpose gun which works outstandingly in every situation. While I would not particularly choose some of the author’s suggestions, his choices will certainly work in the situations he describes for them.

    A well thought-out article about a variety of firearms.

    Reply to this comment
    • Hacksaw March 4, 13:41

      Please LTC take your whine to mommy and cry to her for your piece of cheese. If I point a shotgun at anything within 10 feet of me and pull the trigger whatever I’m pointing at is going to get a taste of lead shot. Just a fact. Been there and done that. Come back in a few years when you get some real world experience little girl and save your crying for mommy.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck March 10, 17:06

        Perhaps because you are such an world-renown expert shotgun gunny, but for the newbie shooter, not so much.

        Reply to this comment
        • dp March 10, 19:00

          LCC – people just need to take their shotguns out, and pattern them. Most will give about a 6 inch or usually much smaller pattern at house size distances (around 20 feet.) they wouldn’t be much good for hunting otherwise. 🙂

          They all pattern differently depending on the choke, and the load being fired.

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck March 10, 20:28

            Here is a test that Rifleshooter.com did on actual spread of 18″ cylinder or ic chokes.

            We can’t even begin to count the amount of times we’ve read, been told or heard someone say that shotgun patterns spread about 1″ per yard after exiting the barrel.  The old adage predicts, if a shooter is 10-yards from his target, the pattern will be 10″ and 15″ at 15-yards and so on.  Typically, this discussion is framed around defensive use of the shotgun with a relatively short 18-20″ barrel and some sort of defensive load like the ubiquitous 00 buck.
            Having this not match our experience,  we decided to head to the range and see what typical spreads we would encounter.  For this exercise, we used a series of 5-barrels listed below and Winchester Super-X, non-plated buckshot provided by Brownells. We selected this full power, 1325 fps, 2 3/4″ load because we have found that the tactical and reduced recoil loads on the market pattern tighter then non premium buck and thought this load would provide a better representation of what the typical defensive shotgun owner would encounter.

            The 20-yard pattern size was divided by 20 to estimate the average spread per yard of the pattern in inches.  Results for this calculation ranged from .35″ to .96″. Barrels at each end of this range represented modifications to stock configurations one would normally encounter in the defensive shotgun market.  The results for the two unmodified barrels, the Remington Improved Cylinder and Cylinder, showed an average spread of .58″ and .60″ respectively.

            While the barrel we had back bored 2″ short from the muzzle fit the 1″ per yard tale, it should be noted that we intentionally back bored it short as part of our testing protocol from another article.  When examining stock barrels, the spread was approximately half of the anecdotal 1″ per yard spread.

            So what does all this mean?
            Pattern your gun.  Next time you wonder how your defensive shotgun patterns, take it out and shoot it with your favorite load at different distances.  Normally, we shoot 7, 15 and 20-yards for T and E, but we do shoot buck at shorter and longer ranges on occasion.  If you haven’t done so, do it; and next time you hear someone tell the 1″ per yard myth, make sure you set them straight

            The results chart is telling:
            Barrel 7 yds 15 yds 20 yds Ava spread per/yd
            Back Bored 2 5 ¼ 7 .35”
            Vang Comp 1¾ 7 7 ¼ .36”
            Remington IC 5 10 7/8 11 ½ .58”
            Rem. Cyl 3¼ 9 1/8 12 .60”
            Back bored 2”
            from muzzle 4 ¼ 15 ¾ 19 ¼ .96”

            So one can see from the above figures that unless you have a special barrel, the standard Remington 870 with an improved cylinder give the shooter the best spread. Unless you live in a McMansion, you will get a spread of 5 inches at 21 feet, the most distance any of us might bace in our homes unless, as I say, you have some kind of unusual home or extra large home. However, the caveat is that this is for that particular shotgun and may not apply to your shotgun. It behooves the shooter who is relying on a shotgun for home defense to pattern his or her shotgun at the appropriate distances for your home. While Hacksaw is right that he will get a couple of pellets on the target if he just flings his shotgun to his shoulder and lets loose, I still maintain that if you want to put the majority of the shot column on the bad guy, you need to aim the shotgun. You can’t just point it down the hallway and expect to be fully on target and take the bad guy out.

            What I found most interesting from the test is that the improved cylinder spread more in this test than the cylinder bore. Intuitive thinking would indicate that the opposite would be true, that the cylinder bore would spread more.

            The next time someone tells you that you don’t have to aim a shotgun, you will know that they really don’t know what they are talking about. Of course, some folks still believe the earth is flat and that the space station is a myth.

            Reply to this comment
            • dp March 10, 21:56

              Pretty much what I was saying – you need to pattern your shotgun with the load that you will be using. Shotguns are kind of funny that way. Even different brands of similar ammo will pattern differently.

              It’s all a moot point to me as far as home defense goes. Since my shotgun has around a 26″ barrel it will never be my first choice in home defense. That would be the 1911 until I can get to the AR-15. 🙂

              Reply to this comment
              • left coast chuck March 11, 01:49

                dp: Agreed. That’s why, when testing guns if one is writing an article for a magazine about the accuracy of a particular gun they will use a variety of ammunition. Even with a gun clamped in a rest that is bolted to the bench one will see a variation in the impact zone of various ammunition. Even if the group size is similar, the impact point may be an inch or more apart on the target. And that is at only 25 yards, think of how that impact point will change at 100 or more yards. I am always amazed when I read about the groups that some long range shooters get at 1,000 yards. Not a lucky shot here and there, but actually tight groups. Mind boggling!!! 1,000 yards is almost 3/4 of a mile. I don’t recall the world record for the smallest group at 1,000 but I know when I read about it I didn’t see how it was possible.

                Reply to this comment
  4. Hacksaw February 28, 16:35

    Regarding the development of the .45 to fight the against the various tribes in the Philippines: the Moro’s wore a vest like body shield made of bamboo and rope. The .38 cartridge in use at the time couldn’t effectively penetrate the home made shield. No doubt many Moro’s were “high” going in to battle but being high didn’t stop the .38, the shield did. Bamboo is a very strong and tough material. The .45 was developed to penetrate the shield, not to “buzz kill” the high.

    Learned this when training to use the .45 while in the Navy, stationed at Subic Bay, P.I. In the 1980’s.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 28, 17:40

      While the .45 acp was a lethal pistol round, it was not the hand cannon that many think. Last year a police officer scored 17 hits on a bad guy with185 grain hollow pointed .45 acp bullets. The bad guy continued to fire at the officer, luckily not scoring any hits, probably due to the impact of so many rounds on his body. It wasn’t until the officer finally put a round in the bad guy’s brain that he quit fighting and laid down. So much for the urban legend that getting hit anywhere with a .45 acp will put you on the ground.

      If one is comparing full metal jacket bullets, then there is no question that the hole made by the .45 is superior to the hold made by something that is .355 of an inch in diameter. However, the FBI has laid down some stringent requirements to ammunition manufacturers before the FBI makes an ammo purchase. Those requirements have been adopted by many police agencies in this country. As a result, ammunition today with its many variations is infinitely better than it was when 98% of law enforcement carried 158 grain .357 diameter lead round nosed bullets with a muzzle velocity of about 850 fps.

      It must be remembered that in those days there was no 911 emergency unit with trained EMTs waiting to transport shooting victims to the hospital. Until the end of WWII, antibiotics were not available. A penetrating wound would very likely result in a severe infection from the debris carried deep into the body and there was always the chance of bleeding out if first aid was not administered promptly by knowledgable people. Peritonitis was a frequent sequela of a penetrating wound to the abdomen. Getting wounded by any penetrating object carried far graver risks than it does today.

      In addition to improved bullet design, gun manufacturers today are improving the feeding systems of their products so that they can reliably feed bullets with hollow points or other design features that make the bullet more effective.
      The days of a semi-automatic pistol only being capable of feeding solid pointed, jacketed bullets is long gone. A pistol with only that capability would be a non-starter in today’s marketplace.

      Because of the improvements in bullet design, low flash powder design, feeding and chambering design improvements, the semi-automatic pistol has taken the lead over the revolver. In prior years, the real advantage of the revolver over the pistol was that the revolvers would ignite and discharge any round that was designed to fit in its chamber. You could fire very light bullets and very heavy bullets. Bullets with flat noses, hollow points, semi-jacketed, full metal jackets, round balls and shot cartridges. All would function in a revolver whereas the pistol was limited to full metal jacketed, round nosed bullets. There was one exception and that was the 124 grain truncated cone bullet which Georg Luger designed for use in the 08 Luger. The allies in WWI complained that it was so destructive that it supposedly violated the Geneva Convention against dum-dum bullets and threatened reprisals. Germany dropped it in favor of the pointed 124 grain round nose bullet.

      It is interesting that the truncated cone bullet is rarely made today. Almost no manufacturers catalog such a round and even a manufacturer who does, only makes an occasional run of them. As far as I know, the 124 grain truncated cone bullet has never been tested to FBI standards to see how closely it meets their standards.

      Today, the semi-automatic pistol utilizing improved ammunition has replaced the revolver as the main duty gun in every major police department in the U.S. and I suspect in most smaller departments as well. The hollow pointed, skivved (a made up word for cuts in the body of the bullet) has lessened the differences in the wound channel between various calibers of ammunition. Despite all that, it still is bullet placement that matters the most. One can see that from the example I used at the beginning of this long discourse on bullet manufacture. While I have not read whether the particular 185 grain, hollow-pointed .45 acp round used by the officer in the example met the FBI standards, I presume it did which was the reason the officer had it loaded in his pistol.

      By the way, if somebody questions why you need more than a 10 round magazine, you can cite that case as a good example of why more than 10 rounds just might be necessary. The officer was very lucky that there was only one bad guy involved. He would have been in a world of hurt if three such tough bad guys had been involved.

      Reply to this comment
      • Raven tactical March 27, 03:02

        10mm solves all problems

        Reply to this comment
      • Fuzznuts February 26, 14:10

        When a “perp” is high on PCP, they don’t know they’re dead yet. The head shot talked about is the end of that story. And as to the truncated bullets; the 200 grain semi-wadcutters I load, coming out at 960 fps is sufficient for most things, but my everyday carry ammo is the Ruger 118 grain ARX rounds, rated at 1,307 fps.

        Reply to this comment
    • Oneshot February 28, 18:54

      Then again, the damage done by a .45 even in a non vital area (disregarding the shield entirely) will often do more damage than a .38, making it the logical choice for a protection weapon.

      Reply to this comment
  5. young prepper February 28, 17:28

    i agree completely,not with the particular firearms (i havent used any other than the m1911) but i agree that a small arsenal is much more practical than a little survival shotgun,for more than one reason, one being,as the author stated, each gun can fill a particular purpose,another reason being, if you’re in a small group of people (lets say ten) and one of your men end up a hostage for a band of looters, the other nine can go in and help the hostage,and one of them can give him a gun to use until your group gets back to your camp and i’m sure there’s a plethora of other reasons but i wont bother listing them,for courtesy sake.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Dr. English February 28, 17:57

    I believe your description of the Mossberg 590 is incorrect. I think you were describing the Mossberg 590M which is the magazine version of the 590. The non-magazine version is a tubular magazine fed shotgun and is extremely reliable. The 590 can be bought with a higher capacity tubular magazine that will allow up to seven or eight, I forget which, shells to be carried plus one in the tube. It is equipped with rifle sights and a variety of factory stocks configurations one of which allows for four additional shells to be carried conveniently. I would change the magazine spring to one manufactured by Wolf Springs in order to increase its reliability.

    Reply to this comment
  7. RedEagle February 28, 18:00

    I have a Mossberg Maverick 88, a Taurus PT 111 and a Marlin 60

    Reply to this comment
  8. Texas February 28, 18:13

    Hey Rich,
    All well reasoned ideas. If the personal defense pistol is a 9mm auto loader, then why not a Ruger LCR in 9mm for a back up revolver? It uses 6 round “moon” clips and would keep the ammo assortment simpler.
    BTW I believe it was John not James Browning

    Reply to this comment
  9. Kohl_D February 28, 18:13

    I am surprised not one revolver was on this list. As good as the pistols listed may be there are still a lot more moving parts with the potential for failure. In my opinion, a revolver is more reliable then any semi-automatic pistol. In a SHTF situation I would want something reliable.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Crowbrother February 28, 18:18

    Truth of the matter is that the Glock 17 is only about 1/8″ longer in the barrel and grip than the Glock 19.
    Lay them both side by side, slide down, you will see .
    No issue in concealment, at all! I’ll take the 1/8″ for the two rounds. Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
  11. Hoosier Homesteader February 28, 18:19

    Whatever your weapon of choice may be, KNOW HOW TO USE IT. You should be as comfortable shooting your firearm as you are with getting dressed in the morning.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Roadrunner February 28, 18:25

    I have a tactical Remington 700 12 gauge 18” barrel. I also bought a long barrel and a slug barrel. These are easy to interchange.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Hoosier Homesteader February 28, 18:39

    This is a good post, but I have to disagree with the opening statement for shotguns. I don’t know why one would rule out a smaller gauge. One example that stands out to me is the Taurus Circuit Judge. It’s a revolving carbine that will shoot .410’s and 45 long colts. The .410 option allows you to deer hunt with slugs, and shot shells are great for small game. The 45 long colts are what I prefer for deer since I get greater accuracy. It gives you deadly force, without the heavy recoil. (I’m 65 years young)
    One thing’s for sure. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a shotgun, no matter what the gauge!

    Reply to this comment
  14. Meathead February 28, 18:54

    A firearm IS a TOOL. Just as there are different types of wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, etc., each TYPE and CALIBER of firearm has specific applications.
    I wouldn’t recommend shooting a squirrel with 12GA 00 Buck, unless you want to skin it, gut it and turn it into ground meat all at the same time. However, I’ve dined on many squirrel that I shot with 12GA #5 Shot (low brass). I simply aimed a few inches in front of their heads, but still had to pick some pellets out of the good meat.
    The correct firearm, properly applied, will get the job done.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Graywolf12 February 28, 19:00

    But you’re limited in what you can do with any .22LR. While good for shooting small game, that’s really all they are good for. You should tell that to all the deer We ate back in the 50’s. another is hunting shotguns are limited to 3 rounds. That is only true if hunting water fowl. All the pumps I am familiar with are capable of holding 5 rounds. Not impresses with your knowledge.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 1, 00:59

      Yes, most hunting shotguns come with a wooden plug in the magazine which limits it to two rounds and one in the chamber. Removing the plug allows two more rounds in the magazine so the typical shotgun will hold five rounds. One can buy extended magazines for seven or eight rounds for the Mossberg and the Remington.

      Reply to this comment
  16. Dupin February 28, 19:31

    Good article. One thing I will say in favor of a .22 for small game is that it isn’t as noisy, so you’re less likely to attract unwelcome attention. I wouldn’t want to depend on it in a tactical situation, though. I have the AR-7 Survival Rifle, which used to be the Air Force Survival Rifle. Everything goes into the stock, making for a small package, which fits easily into a backpack. I’ve had mine a couple of decades and have been happy with it.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Mitchell February 28, 20:25

    I keep a 9mm, 380 and 17hmr all ready to grab and go. The chiappa little badger 17hmr is great for small game for the small group for getting ground hog and gophers any time of year. The 380 makes a great little pocket defender against up close encounters and the Taurus G2C is my choice in 9mm for the 12rds and dependability. So a little arsenal of fun that’s all extremely common in the industry in the caliber’s. Not all shtf firearms have to be for defense some are for food and small caliber’s work great for small to medium game.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Lilburner February 28, 20:57

    I score 12/15. I’m missing the Glock 19,the KSG, and the UTAS. The way Sportsman’s Guide runs crazy deals on the KSG, though, I have a feeling it won’t be long.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mitchell February 28, 21:16

      The ksg is ok if you want good shotguns go for ones with a mag if you want more than 5 shells. The ksg is just so bulky you might as well carry a truck tailgate on your back. Get a Mossberg 590M series and you can have 10 or 20+1 mags and the guns made by a company whose USA based and holds military contracts. As for the handgun I chose the G2C from taurus over other handguns as it was 179.99 and two 12 rounds mags with modifiable sights. Go for sales on quality firearms and don’t always trust the gun shop try your gun ranges as well for sales and information.

      Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty March 3, 19:35

      At least you would get your guns BACK! Can’t believe that guy stole your guns – better hope he isn’t planning on holding up a liquor store. 😉

      Reply to this comment
  19. Dreaded February 28, 21:54

    It has been said there is no one weapon that will work for everyone in every situation. But I think properly trained in use off any weapon goes a long way. I can take a 17 hmr, a 22 rifle, 556/223, 9mm or almost any weapon and kill a deer, wolf or bear if I needed to. To kill anything you need to know where to hit it with what your using, the point is this if you are in that shtf situation Knowledge of your surroundings, guns, targets(be it human or animal) and training is the most important factors.
    The next important factor is how you handle a situation. Some want to jump headfirst and start shooting, others want to take a wait and see, and yet others want to hide. Me I am of the type that does not jump head first into any situation I try to think of all the outcomes and select the most probable outcome that meets the needs of the situation.
    As to being in a situation that requires fast action the AR15 556/223 longer range or glock 17 gen 4 for short range is my choice because I use the AR 15 to deer hunt with some(enough to stay in practice lol) and the glock for personal defence(BTW My Ar15 has a scope and a laser so I can use it for defence or hunting short and long range). The main problem is you have to select your setup for your weapon and that requires thought.
    But on home ground I will use a crossbow, Remington model 77 308 cal, or winchester 30/30 for hunting and witch one depends on if there are hostiles around and the terran I am hunting. I will carry the glock and one weapon only hunting but then I am a country boy and know the woods.
    My advice is learn you weapons by using them, Train yourself in the art of woodsmanship,and always be aware of every detail of what is going on around you. Not paying attention the the slightest sound, a broken branch or marks in the dirt could get you killed.
    As to guns they are tools and any craftsman knows you have to learn to use your tools to achieve the best results. There are many tools that will do the same job. So the choice of guns is yours and yours alone for what is great for one may not be good for others.
    But second part of advice is to learn not only your weapons but any weapon you can get your hands on the more you know the more likely you are to survive.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Storm February 28, 23:54

    Super good article and excellent choices of firearms and their descriptions for use.
    I am sure that everyone has their own personal preference for SHTF weapons for hunting and defense but here is my 2 cents. Hi Hi.
    I actually have considered this scenario for awhile and my choices to carry on my person in a SHTF case are
    1. 2 sidearms – .22LR revolver – 44MAG 6″ barrel
    2. 1 Rifle – 44mag large loop lever action.
    I am sure everyone sees the reasons for the combination and I know for sure there will be many objections to my personal choices but they are my choices for carry in SHTF. They should be enough to get me back to base camp where other defenses are abound. chuckle chuckle.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Shep February 28, 23:57

    Enjoyed your article. Any reason why you skipped the M1 Carbine? I carried one in Nam & enjoyed it so much, I bought my wife one, & she loves it too. Not too big or small, Semi Auto & lightweight. I’d rather have the knock-down power of a .30 cal than a .223, very rugged. Shep

    Reply to this comment
    • Johhny Rotten March 1, 04:42

      Hate to be the lone dissenter, but we’re talking about the “SHTF” situation. Finding the under powered .30 carbine ammo will be harder than finding 30-06. And, for knock down power, I’d put my Saiga .223 shooting hand loaded 62 grain, traveling over 3,200 FPS against the 110 grain .30 carbine traveling about 1,800 FPS. The “carbine” was used for close combat in Korea and ‘Nam. Shots over 100 yards would be iffy. But, if you have lots of ammo and your wife will fire it accurately, more power to you. Personally, I have the Saiga, a Savage 111E in .308 with a 4-16×50 “glass”, compact .45 ACP and a couple of .38 snubbies. Oh, I do have a bolt action .22, tube feed, with a 3-9×40 scope for the small game.

      Reply to this comment
    • Raven tactical March 27, 03:05

      Yeah m1 carbine was outdated in ww2. A slow pathetic round so awful that it had trouble penetrating a jacket.

      Reply to this comment
  22. Al March 1, 01:07

    Good article but I disagree that 30-06 cartridges will be hard to find The .30-06 Springfield is the most popular sporting rifle cartridge in the world. It is versatile, accurate, and plentiful. Every rifle maker offers at least one model chambered for this old war horse. The smaller caliber .30-06 spinoffs may shoot flatter and the larger calibers may hit harder, but only the “Ought Six” can drop everything from wood chucks to Kodiak bears. The fact factory ammo and reloading components are available everywhere—from the largest U.S. city to the smallest African rail stop or Australian’s outback—proves why it is so popular.

    Reply to this comment
  23. Yosemite March 1, 04:34

    I like the idea of people making list like these it is great food for thought and needs to be digested and processed.

    IT also shows where people have lack of knowledge on part of the wriiter.

    Here is one such OBVIOUS example:

    Chambered for the 7.62mm round, the AK can be used for hunting big game, unlike the standard AR-15. This is an advantage too. Having a rifle that works for both defensive purposes and hunting, all in one package, is ideal for survival.

    The AK-47 fires the 7.62×39 or 7.62 Russian. The caliber is ROUGHLY Balllistically equivalent to the 30.30 Winchester. as is the SKS Rifle That as not mentioned.
    The Ballistics on the 7.62×39 are bit better because a more aerodynamic bullets.

    Using the 30.30 Winchester on anything larger than deer might be questionable to some But no doubt it and the 30.06 have taken more big game critters than any other single calibers…..Simply because they have been around so long and people in those days did not have writers in magazines telling them how bad the ballistics on those calibers were.. There is no doubt of hat they can and will do.

    People can argue whatever they like and both ..Both could be wrong because they read this magazine or article they saw on the internet or both could be Right

    Enough of that the Russians are currently using the AK-74 and are getting Two Ne Select Fire weapons main difference is one of them is suppressed.
    The caliber they use is 5.45×39. even smaller than the 5.56×45 NATO. There are people in the US that carry and use it…..

    The AKs do not have the range and accuracy of the AR Platforms……There is no doubt the toughness of the AK type rifles….
    BUT Depending on the model of the AR platforms and barrel length that may bot be true.

    IMNSH Opinion the SKS should have been on the list.. it has a 10 round fixed magazine that can be replaced with 30 round magazines.

    22LR kits I hae never had any issues using them in M-16s or AR-15s…. Anyway one can get .22LR kits for the Ruger MINI-14s…The 1911/ SIG P-220.P 92F Glocks.

    Another thing one can build their own Glock and depending on what they build all they need is new upper slide Bbl Probaby the spring and new magazines and can change calibers and hae say 3 or 4 handguns in one say 22LR 9mm .40 S&W .45 ACP. Not sure about the 10mm Mag.

    Also something to consider are Air Rifles from .177/.22 calibers up to serious hunting calibers.

    They are not cheap. They also DO NOT Fall under the National Firearms Act…..They ARE NOT firearms…..They are serious weapons do a search on air rifles

    .177 and .22 calibers needs to have a velocity of AT LEAST 1200 FPS MINIMUM to kill small game….1500 FPS on .177 is much better and one can buy THOUSANDS of rounds of different type of pellets for $10.00 or so…….They can also be used on BAD GUYS shots to he face/eyes or above the eyes…..may not kill them but an incapacitate them and or slow them down…… above the eyes will cause a wound and bleed don into their eyes.
    .177 caliber air rifles seem to be more common and can be bought at Walmart…………. and there is one that comes with a .22 caliber barrel so you get TWO rifles for under $100.00 USD.

    Revlver vs semi autos….. The semi autos are pretty much useless without magazines..Gotta have plenty of them as that can and do go bad and get lost…

    Revolvers such as the .357 and ..44 Mag shoot to calibers the .357 MAG will fire .38 Specials and the .44 MAG will shoot .44 Specials.
    There was and may still be a .357 Mag revolver that would shoot something like 12 or so different calibers.

    The revolvers wiith no external hammer can be fired through a purse or pocket and not jam….
    Now to tactical shotguns…First The Mossberg 590 carries 8 rounds in the tube and 1 in the chamber.There are also extension tubes available for most tube fed shotguns o carry a few more rounds.

    There are AK and AR 12 Gauge platforms out there than can hold up 20 round drums….Quick reloads.all of those seem superior to any tube fed magazines….

    Food for thought if you are hungry for such information and ideas……I hope at least few will find this of interest and worth considering putting some of the info to use.
    I left links out because if you are interested you can do a search and find them and RESEARCH them and decide for yourself…..

    After all YOU will be the one carrying whatever weaponry you want to carry or you can afford/get that works for YOU……. THAT is what matters the most. That it works for you.

    Eskimos regularly kill polar bears with a .22 LR…THAT is a situation I hope I never have to be in NOR would I recommend or suggest trying. It works for them is the point….. hey don’t need a Big Game Rifle.

    Another popular hunting caliber is the .270 Winchester. Flat shooting and ammo is readily available…. am just saying people may already on a rifle in that caliber and love it…… think of it as a necked don 30.06 If hat is hat you have and it works for you and you have a really good supply of ammo stocked away….If it is not broke then don’t fix it……Yes getting those other firearms is important………..but can you afford to keep that rifle and get a 30.06 and or .308 Winchester?

    Reply to this comment
    • 0352 February 24, 15:55

      No, Eskimos DO NOT regularly kill polar bears with .22 LR. Perhaps a few polar bears have been shot with .22LRs, but very rarely. Most Eskimo-killed polar bears are taken with bolt-action military surplus rifles such as the Mosin-Nagant and Enfield.

      Reply to this comment
  24. dp March 1, 06:06

    I have too many guns… is that possible?

    I have enough guns and ammo to outfit a small army, I have reloading supplies when the powder keg goes dry…

    thank God that I live in a red state, and I am on good terms with my local reps and LEOs

    lol. come and get them… I dare you… lol

    Reply to this comment
  25. Hacksaw March 1, 13:57

    The best gun is the one that fires every time you pull the trigger and hits the intended target. Anything beyond that is just gravy.

    Reply to this comment
    • dp March 3, 13:32

      The AK can’t hit thr broad side of a barn after 100 yds. The SKS is much better, and cheaper if going for 7,62X39.

      as accurate as most 30-30s… almost as reliable, and dirt cheap…. I have 3 of them, and WELL OVER 1000 rnds of ammo.

      You can reload the ammo… just 1 more step drive the primer out using water.

      I also have a Mosin Negant and several spam cans of ammo. Never discount the old Russian war horse… it is cheap, and so is the ammo. Everyone should have one… It is the Russian 30-06.

      Reply to this comment
      • Raven tactical March 26, 11:57

        Yeah if you struggle hitting a barn at 100 with a ak47 you need to go back to basic marksmanship. The sks isnt much more accurate then the ak but both are build around the idea of hitting a man size target at 250 to 300 meters.

        Reply to this comment
  26. Armin March 2, 03:25

    For me up here in the GWN sidearms and assault rifles are a non issue as they are EXTREMELY difficult to get. I believe the only assault rifle you can get up here is some Belgium model but I’m not sure. Never underestimate the power of a lowly .22. Saw a you tube video about it and if memory serves if you use the long rifle bullet in it you can still penetrate half inch pine from something like 300 yards or a 100 yards. Can’t remember which right now. The .22 is not a toy. For a general purpose rifle I’m partial to a repeating 30/06. For something a little more substantial a .308. .308 should be able to take down almost anything. Single shot with the biggest magazine I can put on it. My go to hunting rifle. With a scope on it of course. For close in fighting if they get into the house a pump action 12 guage. Sometimes less is more.

    Reply to this comment
  27. Miss Kitty March 2, 04:12

    Interesting article. Does anyone have any thoughts on what a good gun for a beginner would be?

    Reply to this comment
    • dp March 2, 07:20

      Miss Kitty, It depends on what you want the gun for. If you are just wanting to learn to shoot, then a .22 rim fire is probably a good choice for most new shooters. The ammo is cheap, they are generally very accurate, and the recoil and report (sound) are negligible.

      You really don’t want to start out using a high powered pistol or rifle. I always start new shooters out on .22 rim fire, and they can work up from that as their skill and confidence increase.

      If you are wanting a gun for self defense, then I would suggest going to the local range, and try various rental guns prior to buying a gun in order to see which firearm suits you best. The people at the local range will likely be able to offer some suggestions regarding a defensive gun as well.

      I would still start you out on a .22 rim fire to learn basic skills first.

      I’m assuming that you are not looking for a hunting rifle.

      Reply to this comment
      • Miss Kitty March 2, 12:41

        Thanks dp ! Yes, for defense right now and to learn. Sound advice.

        Reply to this comment
        • dp March 2, 19:27

          Miss Kitty – I am not sure what your budget is, but
          the Taurus PT-111 Millennium G2 gets pretty good reviews. The MSRP is around $250, but can often be found on sale for around $200.


          Some folks don’t like the brand, and that is fine. There are probably better guns available for more money. The G1 had some issues that Taurus fixed in the G2. It has been out for a couple of years, so if it was junk it wouldn’t still be getting decent reviews.

          The main thing is that you want to try a variety of brands and designs, before you decide which fits, and works best for you. This is where your local gun range, and their rental guns are invaluable.

          I personally like 1911’s, but a good quality 1911 will cost you close to $1000…

          Reply to this comment
          • Miss Kitty March 2, 19:43

            My current budget is zero, but I hope to maybe save enough to get my permit and a pdw this fall. Hope I still can at that point, but I have no police record and except for AAP and Disqus don’t have a social media footprint, so I should be good.;)

            Reply to this comment
            • dp March 3, 07:29

              That is funny.look at the $200 gun.. I would just loan you a gun, but that has worked out bad for me in the past….

              I have enough to have one to loan a good revolver or whatever….. never going to happen again.

              I am going to court over loaning a SKS and a Glock…

              if the police report does it I will get the insurance money..

              I can’t wry well shoot him, so the court and insurance’ are my only options..

              Reply to this comment
              • dp March 3, 13:36

                I would still take you out to shoot… no cost to you,

                Reply to this comment
                • Miss Kitty March 3, 19:32

                  At least you would get your guns BACK! Can’t believe that guy stole your guns – better hope he isn’t planning on holding up a liquor store. 😉

                  Reply to this comment
                • Miss Kitty March 3, 19:50

                  Thanks! My posts keep disappearing into the ether, by the way, but we could have a great shooting party. With Thomas’s squirrel delight and my batter fried bucket trap urbanized feral rock doves we could have quite the picnic. Who’s bringing the potato salad?

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              • dp March 3, 13:41

                What a dirt bag…

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            • Raven tactical March 27, 09:20

              Check out yankee marshal on YouTube. He gives away guns to new shooters.

              Reply to this comment
    • nick March 4, 06:11

      Air rifles are extremely accurate and can be powerful. and economical to shot.

      Reply to this comment
  28. Mac24516 March 2, 06:36

    Great ideas and I agree with the group that the best gun is one that “always goes bang” when you really need it and that you can use it to put rounds on target. I agree with your thoughts on the types of guns for different requirements/events, but have different choices. I have a CZ-75 (9MM) and a SIG SAUER P226. For a semi-auto rifle, I prefer the SKS over the AK-47. Same available ammo, but more accurate to have a milled rifle with a longer barrel vs stamped shorter barrel, also easier to carry ammo in stripper clips instead of magazines, and i don’t have the ability to go full auto with the AK anyway. I also have a Remington 10/22 that can be re-built to fit your evolving needs with after market parts (stocks, mags, sights, scopes) and Remington 1100 shotgun (12 gauge) that has always worked. I enjoyed your article and just wanted to offer my thoughts.

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  29. Miss Kitty March 3, 19:58

    Hoping this post will find it’s way – my last FIVE attempts have disappeared! Thanks again dp for your advice, and your kind offer. And thanks to everyone who has posted to this article – your experience and information is much appreciated by inexperienced folk like myself.

    Reply to this comment
    • dp March 3, 21:19

      Claude has a delay on posting comments so that he can weed out the trolls. All of your comments get posted it just takes a while.:)

      Reply to this comment
      • Miss Kitty March 4, 03:15

        Oooohh… well that explains that! Lol! Now I just feel dumb rather than ignored…I didn’t realize that there was that much of a problem. Sorry Claude!

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        • left coast chuck March 4, 04:10

          I would second dp’s suggestion to start with a .22. I have been an NRA certified instructor for over 30 years and unless the student already has a handgun that they want to learn on, I always start a new student out with a .22. I also like to start them out with one of my .22s that I know shoots to point of aim at 25 yards with the ammunition I have. With a strange pistol/ammo combination, first one has to define the accuracy of the gear before starting to work on the student acquiring shooting skills. Once the student has good basics down, then is the time to move up in caliber. Again, I prefer to start with a handgun that I know is accurate rather than a strange gun that I might have to wring out first.

          I hate it when someone with an inferiority complex decides he is going to show his girl friend/wife what a real gun is and hands her a hand cannon and she never shoots again. In my view that is the same as throwing someone off the deep end of the pool. Sure, they might learn a panic stroke. They might also learn a deep fear of water and shy away from swimming for the rest of their life. That is, if they don’t almost drown and need to be rescued.

          Another fallacy is to give a woman a short barreled hide-out gun. Those are guns for professional shooters. I never use less than a 4-inch barrel on any firearm for instruction and prefer a six inch revolver for early large caliber instruction.

          Reply to this comment
  30. nick March 4, 06:05

    People never mention pellet rifles, a good one can kill a deer with a head shot. Mine will pass thru a pine 2×4 at 20 yards. and pellets can be cast and air guns are easy to repair.

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  31. dp March 4, 14:27

    Nick – I’ve got a couple of air guns .177 (pump) and .25 (springer) caliber. I doubt that either one are powerful enough to kill a deer at average deer hunting distances. It would unethical to try, unless it were a starvation scenario. They work fine for small game.

    Having said that there are large caliber PCP air guns that are suitable for hunting larger game. I don’t know how easily repaired they are in a SHTF where you can’t order new parts, but you can certainly cast pellets and you don’t need powder for them, so that is a long term advantage.

    I’ve also got a crossbow, and compound bow for long term or when needing to hunt quietly.

    Reply to this comment
  32. Miss Kitty March 4, 17:39

    Ok, don’t know how practical it would be, but 1) how difficult is it to make gunpowder, 2) do they still make guns/rifles that you load with powder/wad/shot , 3) can you find bullet molds and what do you melt in them? Resources?

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    • Hacksaw March 4, 18:46

      Miss Kitty. It’s not difficult to make gunpowder. It’s not fifficult to find the ingredients. It is difficult to make gunpowder that reliably burns but with practice it can be done. Muzzle loaders are in use and are being manufactured and sold today. You can buy kits to make them if you are so inclined. A bullet mold shouldn’t be too difficult to make. People made them over 500 years ago so I’m thinking that with a little effort molds can be made today. Lead isn’t too difficult to find. In SHTF scenarios there should be many abandoned vehicles. Look for lead balancing weights on the wheels. Open the hood and find lead on the battery terminals. Muzzle loaders are fun to shoot but take some work to keep clean. Rifled versions are accurate and with calibers exceeding .50 you can take down most land animals with one.


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      • dp March 4, 21:56

        Hacksaw – Yes, black powder is easy to make. Modern smokeless powder not so much, although gun cotton is easy to make, and there may be a recipe around for converting that into something usable. The British cartridges used something called cordite that contained gun cotton, along with other ingredients (nitro glycerin, petrolium jelly). Modern smokeless powders have replaced it. Primers can be made using match heads.

        Molds are fairly cheap, so if you think that you might want to cast bullets I would get them now.

        If you have “modern” cartridges that were originally black powder, like my 45 LC revolver, then black powder is a pretty good option once the smokeless powder runs out…

        Reply to this comment
  33. Miss Kitty March 4, 23:17

    Thanks guys!: In a true shtf situation having a “diy” option might be helpful for us to consider. I think of the early settlers who might have gone months or years before supplies arrived at the harbor from the old world. Borrowing a page from their survival book wouldn’t be a bad idea. Worth examining at any rate.

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  34. Raven tactical March 26, 11:52

    Nice article I just find the 1911 to be a outdated range toy. The ksg is pretty spot on the utg thing felt like cheap plastic and I never seen a video of it running well.

    I would add in the ruger precision rifle. Sub moa rifle for less then 1200.

    Less not to forget quality optics and magazines

    Reply to this comment
    • dp March 26, 15:39

      The 1911 is far from a range toy considering that it served us well through multiple wars as the standard military side arm.

      I do see the attraction to firearms like the Glock with it’s much larger capacity, dependability, and ease of field stripping, but it is not for me and many people feel the same way.

      I have owned several plastic guns, and the balance is terrible – very top heavy. Most are striker fired, and/or double action – so they will never have the short crisp trigger of a 1911.

      You can find 1911’s in 9mm with double stack magazines, which negates the capacity issue – although these are not cheap.

      That leaves reliability. 1911’s can be just as reliable as any Glock, but they do require to be set up correctly and a longer break in period. A good 1911 is also much more expensive than most striker fired plastic guns due to more expensive material and production costs.

      It really comes down to personal choice, and if the plastic guns work for you then that is your choice.

      I find it disingenuous to call the combat proven 1911 a range toy… that is the problem that I have with your comment. It puts forth your personal opinion with no facts to back it up. The facts are on the side of the 1911 being a very capable, dependable, and proven combat weapon.

      Reply to this comment
      • Raven tactical March 26, 15:55

        It was good for it’s time but that all it is now.

        It didn’t win wars

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      • Raven tactical March 27, 03:10

        If you want a challenge of 8 round capacity on a full size pistol be my guest. Most modern guns are beyond the redundant safety’s and limited capacity. Heck my shield holds the same amount. Accuracy is is probably the same. Reliability well the 1911 isnt known for that. I’ll take my g20 edc over my 1911 range toy. Everyday.

        Reply to this comment
        • dp March 27, 05:26

          Raven tactical – No offense dude, but you have no idea what you are talking about. The 1911 would not have been used for over 100 years as a US military sidearm if it was not reliable. Navy Seals who can choose any sidearm in the world would not choose it if it was unreliable.

          You seem to have problems separating your opinions, and feelings from facts and rational thought.

          The 1911 is an extremely reliable firearm. The only issues that it has is low capacity compared to modern plastic guns, and it is more mechanically complex than most modern plastic, striker fired pistols.

          Because of this it needs to be manufactured properly, and broken in properly. Can you buy a $200 1911 that has problems? Of course. If Glock didn’t have a patent on Glocks then the market would be flooded with shitty $100 Chinese Glock knockoffs that are unreliable too. Would that make an actual Glock a crappy firearm?

          The patent is expired on 1911’s, so anyone can produce and sell a 1911. Not everyone can produce a good 1911, especially if they are trying to be the cheapest.

          I don’t mean any offense – I really don’t, but I am going to post a quotation from Thomas Sowell:

          “The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”

          ~Thomas Sowell

          As I said before, you seem to have a hard time separating facts from hearsay, your opinions, and your feelings. I don’t blame you, or people like you – I blame the school system that failed you.

          Have a great day.

          Reply to this comment
          • Raven tactical March 27, 09:16

            It would be cute if you could avoid personal attacks. I guess your fudd gun lifestyle and 1911 fanboy must be showing. I suppose you have a colt tramp stamp as well. I’ll say it slowly again. They Make good range guns and even race guns. But As a carry gun they ate extremely out dated by not only glock but everyone else. Just because it was great 100 years ago doesn’t mean it’s still relevant. Navy seals use sig and again the side arm is pretty much never used.

            Reply to this comment
            • Hacksaw March 27, 12:56

              Raven- So you interpret he truth as being a personal attack? Get over yourself. The 1911, as well as whatever your favorite weapon happens to be, will, at the end of the day, put holes in whatever object the bullet hits. That is the objective and all the hot air in the world isn’t going to change that fact. And no, claiming that you are full of hot air isn’t a personal attack, it’s as Joe Friday always said “ just the facts ma’am”.

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  35. dp March 27, 02:30

    Raven tactical – I don’t know where you get your information from, probably the public school system. Maybe you should forget all of that socialist propaganda from publicly funded 12 step brainwash camp, and go buy a “real US history” book.

    Not sure what you mean by it didn’t win wars. No single weapon ever won a war including the A-bombs during WWII.

    The 1911 was the standard US military sidearm during the Spanish American war… we won that war. It was also the standard US military sidearm during WWII… we won that war. It was the standard US military sidearm during the Vietnam war… We would have won that war if politicians didn’t try to run it from DC…

    Up until a few years ago many elite troops in the US military, folks who get to choose their own weapons like Navy Seals, carried the 1911 by choice.

    The 1911 was in active military service for over 100 years. …Far from being a “range toy”… you are delusional… you are entitled to your own opinion, but you aren’t entitled to make up your own facts.

    Reply to this comment
  36. Graywolf12 February 26, 15:04

    The best gun in any situation is the one you are comfortable with, can use accurately, and is dependable. If you dislike the recoil and noise of a .45, .44 mag, or .454 do not buy one to only use for self defense. Go with a sure thing you are not afraid of.

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  37. The LiL Leprechaun April 1, 08:21

    Good article. My setup was a Remington 700 BDL 30-6 big game, 870 mag for woods, Ruger model 77-22 for the small stuff. But my brother had this 44 mag carbine which was sweet, and with a Ruger 44 mag 9″ barrel that seamed to be a great combo. A competition shooting (60,000 rounds a year) gunsmith friend of mine at his gun range had a sand bank wall at 225 yards and showed me how he could hit clay targets placed in the sand with his Ruger 44 Mag. That is a long shot for such a heavy bullet, but he after missing the first time 6” or so to the right, he was able to take down 3 in a row. So when he asked me if I wanted to try it, of course I had too. Aim about 5′ high to start he said and a lil to the left for the slight breeze. Missed,missed again, then I hit, and hit again. He had almost every gun you could think of even a 357 maxima, which he had to custom make the shell casings because they were so hard to get at that time about 25 years ago. We tested the 44 mag compared to a 41 mag on 2 sets of 3 big phone books taped together. The 44 mag was impressive and for all purposes destroyed the books, but the 41 Mag made confetti out of the books. It was awesome.
    I started to learn to shoot at 6 years old on a old Remington 22 bolt action single shot. Dad said if you can’t learn to hit what your shooting at with 1 bullet, you shouldn’t be carrying a gun. One of the great things my father taught me. I hear these idiots out in the woods firing several fast shots, and I know they cant hit the broad side of a barn. And I really worry about all the others in the woods, because you know they are not aware of their surroundings. Nuff said. Keep up the good work.

    Reply to this comment
    • dp April 1, 20:14

      Truth. Probably the biggest problem with the .44 mag for long range is that they tend to use pistol bullets with a fatter and flatter nose.

      That said… You find the same problem with any tube fed gun ammo because a hard pointed nose right against the next in line’s primer could set off the whole magazine because of recoil forces.

      The new soft nose spire points help, but they deform at high velocity and they affect accuracy also. still better range and terminal velocity. The solution is probably easy, but cost prohibitive.

      225 yds is impressive out of what is pretty much 100 yd. ammo.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck September 1, 00:03

        dp: Just so you can be informed, every weekend, somewhere in the U.S. there is a match called metallic silhouette. It is fired at 25 meters. 50 meters, 75 meters and 200 meters. The rams which are the 200 meter target weigh 75 pounds and in order to score the shooter must knock the ram off the rail. It is a drag to hit the dang ram and see it turn and teeter and stay on the rail. Those ranges are shot with a variety of handguns. While long barrel single shot handguns are primarily used, there is a revolver match and the favorite revolver is the .44 magnum. Many shooters are able to shoot a possible at 200 meters, that is 5 rams, 5 shots. You only get one shot per target, so if the ram turns and flips you off, there is nothing you can do about it except go on to the next ram. You aren’t safe at 200 meters from an experienced shootist who shoots long range.

        Reply to this comment
        • dp September 1, 05:33


          I gave you a thumbs up brother.

          I am well aware of silhouette shooters.

          I actually have two Thompson Center barrels that I have sent off to be-custom re-chambered that would be very good indeed for this sport.

          That isn’t what I I had them made for. I made them for them to my best single shot hunting guns.

          I am about to box them up and have 3 inch muzzle brakes permanent installed, so that I can use them on my Thompson Contender rifle stock legally.

          They are a 44 magnum barrel that I had made into a .444 Marlin barrel, and a .41 Magnum that I had made into a .414 Super Mag. Both are 14″ bull barrels… I am sending them off tomorrow to have 3 inch barrel extension/recoil extensions permanently installed per BATF guidelines.

          They will then be over 16 inches.

          I am not losing sleep over rioters or Antifa members or BLM communist rioters having a a 200 yard sharpshooter in their ranks… HaHaHa LOL. what were you thinking???

          May GOD BLESS you My Brother. You made me belly laugh with that last post. 🙂

          Reply to this comment
        • dp September 1, 06:20


          LOL, Ha Ha.

          Just to let you know, and just to cite my other posts regarding firearms…

          I am a collector, and I have been for over 20 years. I have had many “Glock Clone” plastic pistils – including the first. A H&K VP70Z That was the 1st plastic gun. It sucked. The trigger sucked, the way that the metal slide was the heaviest part of the gun sucked, The way that the slide recoil BS (balance) changed with every shot sucked as the counter balancing magazine got lighter and lighter with every shot.

          Now I own 1911’s and revolvers, single shots and rifles or shot guns.

          I probably own 40 guns. I own so many guns that I lose them all the time, and I have to go find them to clean them on schedule…

          It sucks to live in a red state during this COV19 FF, lock down, and communist insurrection, but not as much as living in a blue state… at least I have Constitutional carry, So I can legally carry every day with no government oversight or registration.

          If I have to shoot one of these assholes then I have over 1 million$$$ in CCHL insurance, and the cops and the government will be on my side. We love our cops around here… we work with them when they need a bit of help, and we just watch their 6 and we let them know that they are appreciated otherwise. NLR (my town) has the best police force in the state… We have like a 2 year waiting list for new recruits.

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