The subject of guns and survivalism/preparedness continues to be a hotly contested battle, with neither side able to best the other. Either you’re a total gun freak, or you’re a wimpy anti war peacenik. No middle ground at all, and that’s too bad, because a gun can be a very valuable survival tool. I think the problem here is that for the most part, those who are preparedness people and survival people fall into two separate, and seriously misrepresented communities. Let’s put it this way; on the one hand, people see preparedness freaks as the Michael Gross character on Family Ties, and on the other hand, they see survivalists as the Michael Gross character in the movie Tremors. It’s the same man, but he plays widely different roles. One a super pacifist, and the other a paranoid, gun wielding, isolationist, nut job.

Which one are you?

One of the things I have noticed is the huge numbers of people who tend to call themselves survivalists that load up on guns and bullets, and tons of MREs for the coming times. All well and good, if you are planning a military campaign, and I suspect that is the way many of these people look upon the coming times. A problem I see with this position is that these are not really appropriate ways to prepare for the coming times. There is no long term, sustainable planning in what these people are attempting. Therefore, they will ultimately fail to survive. Why? Many reasons, and all of them sound.

To start with, MREs are good emergency rations, but they are far from being a good source for food nutrients over the long term. There just aren’t that many varieties on the market, and when you nail your diet into a limited choice of foods, your body suffers from it. One cannot eat the same meal 365 days in a row and not develop some sort of health problem. Along with weapons for defense, you need to have a large variety of foods available to give you the varied diet your body really needs to survive, long term. Not only that, you’ll get tired of the same thing day in-day out. Variety is the spice of life, remember?

But then, the peacenik preparedness freak fails to take into account the possibility of needing to defend both the supplies and food he has stored up, but his family and territory as well. Lots of canned and dehydrated foods, plenty of variety, but, what if somebody takes it all? They will if they know you have no way to defend yourself. Have no doubt upon that fact. Not only that, what of the possibility of fresh meat for the table? Venison, bear meat, moose steaks on the grill. Mmmmm gooood! They’ll take the bite out of all that storage food, and it will help prolong your supplies until you can get your gardens up and running.

I think what we need to do is to meld both ends of the emergency preparedness spectrum into one character, and combine the best of both worlds to recreate a character that is a true preparedness aficionado. One who plans not only for the possibility of battle, but the possibility of having to create a new world from the left over debris of the old world. There just isn’t enough of either at the two ends of this spectrum for either to survive efficiently, independently.

So, let’s put aside the images we have of the preparedness/survivalist community and take a look at the issue of guns and societies coming melt down. Firstly, we need to divide weapons into two separate categories. One category includes the weapons better suited for a battle scenario. These would be guns like the AK47, high tec sporter rifles like the AR series and so forth. Guns that are so finely tuned that you can kill a man without working hard at it. Then there is the much narrower field of simple, but useful hunting arms you’d use any day of the year.

I’ve been asked several times for an opinion on survival guns. What is the best gun to have? How many should you have? What caliber? And so on. what this and what that, but people seem to miss an important point when thinking about survival and guns. First of all, let me say that I am nether a gun nut, nor an expert, so my opinion is simply a thought based upon the sum of my gun knowledge. Which really isn’t very great. But it’s great enough that I have no doubt that I will be around far longer than many others will be.

To start with, we must first differentiate between a gun for survival and a gun for defense. Some guns can be used for both, but not all of them can. And you should always bear in mind that while any tool that serves multiple functions may be adequate for those many functions, it serves none of them as well as a tool dedicated to that one function. So we have to look at guns for survival, and guns for defense. Then we have to break down the different categories even further into the differing qualities each presents. For instance, you can use a handgun for defense, and for hunting, but which does it do best?

You have rifles and shotguns. Then there are loads for high power caliber that can hit and kill a target at a thousand yards. But they’re useless when an intruder is in your home. So there are many variables to consider. Urban settings will require a different weapon than somebody who lives in the woods far from large numbers of people. If you’ve the money, then you can buy several and have multiple weapons at hand for any contingency. But most people do not have the resources to accumulate a virtual armory that would cover any possible need. So they have to limit their choices to a couple or so guns, in many cases inexpensive ones at that.

My idea of a survival arsenal is to have as few guns as possible, and if possible ones that can share ammunition. The 22LR caliber is a very popular and easily obtainable round. You can have a rifle for hunting small game, and a pistol as well for defense. Having been in existence for over 100 years, the 22LR remains the most widely available round in the world. Semi auto pistols and revolvers alike take it with good results along with the scores of rifle choices on the market. There is even a 22 shot load for 22 caliber shotguns. While it is unlikely to blow an attackers head clean off at the neck like Clint Eastwood’s favored sidearm would, it is still a lethal round nonetheless.

These guns can be used for hunting small game and rodents, and possibly for smaller specimens of larger game as well. The smaller profile of the rifles makes them easier to use inside a building when under attack as well. And the pistols are light enough that even well trained responsible children can control the firearm while shooting. I remember that over 30 years ago I could purchase a brick of 500 rounds for under five dollars, although the price is much higher today. Now you can expect to pay around $50.00 for a brick of 500. Sad picture of the times we live in, isn’t it?

There is one other piece I would have in a survival arsenal, and that is a 12 gauge shotgun, with an interchangeable rifled barrel. 12 gauge loads are easily obtainable as well, and with a rifled barrel you can also fire slugs for hunting bigger game such as deer and bear. With a shorter barrel it makes an ideal defense weapon in an enclosed environment, and there is less fear of a round penetrating a wall and hitting an innocent person in another room, such as one of your children.

The Remington 870 is a popular model, and is low priced as well. With a little gun savvy you can fit it out to be a fine defensive piece as well as using it for hunting. You can buy a rifled barrel for firing slugs, an extended to hold more ammo, add a scope and so on.

So, to make it a quick summary, my survival armory would consist of but three pieces, plus accessories. A 22LR rifle, and a 22LRpistol, and a Remington 870 Express 12 guage. And don’t forget to add the scopes for rifle and shotgun, choke tubes, and rifled barrel along with any other add-ons you think necessary. Also, make sure you have stockpiled plenty of ammunition for them as well. I would suggest at least ten bricks of 22LR and 4 to 5 hundred rounds of various loads for your shotgun. These suggestions are a bare minimum, you’d probably want to have much more for the long haul as there will be no place to obtain this stuff after the meltdown. As for the 12 guage, get at least 500 rounds or more, and a few dozen assorted slugs.

Not only that, I would also have a stock of commonly used rounds in other calibers as well to use for bartering after cash and credit cards are gone. One cannot afford to be too careful when planning for the coming times. And always remember the old adage, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

But before you run out and stock up on guns and ammo, let’s examine the issue of guns and survival, and what a gun may or may not mean for your own survival. I have seen far too often a certain breed of survivalist that places the entirety of their confidence in their firearms. Granted, guns can be used for hunting, as well as for defense, but we have to go beyond that position for the long term.

Defense and hunting are two very different uses for a firearm, and what may work well for one task may not for the other. Not only that, the state of mind you require is different for each of the two uses as well. Shooting a living creature when you are hungry is one thing, but what about shooting a living being that is attacking you? And don’t forget that the affect that act has on you extends far beyond the simple act of pulling a trigger. The picture of a man in your crosshairs, going down from a successful shot can haunt your memory for a very long time.

So, if you put your assets into a weapon for defense, and you find you are not really able to use it for that purpose, what then? Will that firearm still be useful for putting meat on your table? Usually they can be, but many weapons designed for defense is simply overkill, and cumbersome when it comes to hunting.

Take Colt’s AR15 Sporter SP1 Carbine. It’s a neat looking weapon, and while intended for sport shooting it can be easily modified for close quarter battle(CQB) very easily. Add a battle sling, larger mag capacity, night vision and what not and you can go to war. But is this something you’ll feel comfortable toting around the woods looking for game?

Some of my regular readers may have recognized part of this post from a couple of other pieces that I have done prior to this one. The issue of firearms and their relation to the preparedness agenda is a hotly contested one, and bears close study by anyone considering obtaining firearms as part of your long range preparedness plans. It’s a good idea to possess firearms, but the choice must be made bouyed by wisdom and research. Join me this Wednesday, 17 February on Maine Talk Radio as I discuss Urban Survival, for more input into the discussion. Click on the BlogTalk button to go directly to the show site.
Listen to D.l.soucy on Blog Talk Radio

  1. sarge77 says:

    You raise good points, and I am generally in agreement. However, and I know this is all opinion and whatnot, I don’t think it fair to write off the AR-15 so quickly. It is a lightweight rifle, chambering a common round. It was designed for combat. However, even in the M4 variation (short barrel for close combat) it is accurate to 500 yards with no problem. the 5.56 mm or .223 cartridge is common in hunting circles. Typically it is used for varmit hunting, but it could be used to take a deer, or something of that size. I don’t know how it would fare with larger game, and so will not speak to that, but I think that it is not a bad choice for an all around rifle.

    Just another of millions of firearm opinions. I enjoyed the read, and the well considered opinion.


    • dlsoucy says:

      Actually, I’m not necessarily writing off any firearm in principle. I suggest the 22 cal and the shotgun as a good basic arsenal because of the versatility of the combination and the low cost for not only the initial purchase, but the ammunition as well. Many of the people who read my writing are new preppers, and the monetary aspects of getting ready to survive the coming times can be overwhelming when faced with the aquisition of the many components of a survival homestead. I go into greater depth in my book “Surviving the Times” but these three firearms are readily available, inexpensive and relatively tame, especially to a newcomer. But they get the job done, no matter what the job is, and they are great weapons to learn how to shoot with, and more importantly, how to care for your firearms. I think you can agree that these are a good starter selection for anyone, based upon these consideration.

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