Wednesday, November 6, 2013

List of Lists - Firearms

Here is the list I think people have the most fun with. Firearms is obviously an important part of any preparation list. Their uses are numerous, with hunting and personal defense being the obvious two. Since the list I am putting together is made primarily for a beginning prepper with a modest budget, this list is probably going to be surprisingly short to a lot of people. The truth is, to cover all your bases on the firearms list, you actually don't have to have an arsenal that rivals Bert Gummer from the movie "Tremors".

When choosing which firearms to include on your list, there are some variables to think about. You want to make firearms choices that include weapons that are reliable and easy to maintain and use. Just because you are a war veteran who carried an AR-15 and can break it down and put it back together in 30 seconds, doesn't mean your wife or parents who are bugging out with you can do the same thing. You have to understand that everyone's life might depend on someone who isn't an expert using that weapon. You might say something like "then I'll train them to be!" Well, good. Train them. But that doesn't mean you go out and buy the most complicated weapon platform available and then train your family on it. You still need to choose something that has simplicity and reliability.

Each firearm out there is specialized for a certain set of tasks. Sure, there are some that are very versatile and can handle a wider range of jobs than other firearms, but most have a particular job that they handle better than most. For right now, let's look at this list and then discuss each entry. I'm not going to put any specific brands or models on the list, because each person has their own abilities and budget and preferences. I'll talk about a few brands later. For now, I'll be very general.

- .22LR caliber rifle (2,000 rounds)
- 12 gauge shotgun (500 shells)
- Handgun, 9mm or larger in caliber (1,000 rounds)
- Weapon cleaning kit and gun oil
- Magazines for each firearm

See? Short and simple. This list is not designed to break anyone's bank or turn someone into an arsenal-toting Mad Max character. If you have the spare funds and desire, there are plenty of other options to add to this list, and I encourage you to do that. But for right now, I'm trying to get someone started with the minimum they need to make it.

A rifle chambered in .22LR is probably the most important firearm to have in a survival situation. The ammo is light. It's not hard on the ears (you might not have hearing protection at all times in an emergency, so this is a plus at least). It's highly effective for hunting small game, which is the most likely type of game you're going to run across when you're out and need food. I know, the TV likes to show survivalists hunting and gutting and cooking a big moose or a ten-point buck after an eight hour trek through the woods. But they don't show the 500 birds and squirrels and rabbits that person walked past that would have been easier to find and kill and clean and cook! It's entirely possible to take down a deer with a small caliber rifle, but why expend the energy hunting for a deer with a small caliber rifle when you can bag ten squirrels in an hour without moving far from camp? Plus, a few dead squirrels is less likely to attract a hungry predator than a dead deer.

Small caliber rifles are light and very simple to use. Light recoil makes them easy to fire. Often they are easy to maintain. Their simple mechanisms make them reliable in poor weather. When they do malfunction, it's often a simple fix. A couple of top quality choices here are the Ruger 10/22 carbine and the Savage .22 bolt action rifle. Both are lightweight and reliable. I prefer the Ruger because it's semi-automatic, but the bolt-action Savage is a high quality and accurate weapon. To have either one in an emergency is a big force-multiplier for you. They'll both cost you about $200.

In a pinch, a small caliber rifle can serve as a decent defense weapon. It might not be ideal, but when threatened, it's small size and ease of operation will allow you to quickly and effectively put some well-aimed lead downrange at a high velocity, even if that lead isn't very big around.

The 12 gauge shotgun is a big plus on anyone's list. Great for home defense, great for hunting, great for scaring your daughter's boyfriends. I'm just kidding! Not every 12 gauge is great for hunting and home defense. We'll talk about that.

A long barreled shotgun will be very suited for hunting large fowl and mid-sized game. Turkeys, ducks and wild pigs would be some good targets here. I wouldn't want to have to shoot a squirrel with a 12 gauge and then try to eat that torn up mess, but I suppose you could salvage rabbits easily. Overall, a long barreled 12 gauge will open up a lot of hunting opportunities. It can also be an effective defensive weapon. One great choice would be the Mossberg 500 pump action 12 gauge shotgun. This one will cost you around $500. Just be aware that a long barreled shotgun like that one will be more difficult to maneuver around tight corners and walls inside buildings.

That is where the short barrel comes in. A shorter barreled shotgun may not be quite as accurate, so that might make hunting a little trickier. If you can overcome that disadvantage, then you should be all good. The short barreled shotgun may very well be king in close range self protection. The short barrel is easier to maneuver around corners inside buildings and it's lighter weight makes aiming and hitting a target with the first shot easier. A good option for a short barreled shotgun is the Mossberg 88 pump action 12 gauge shotgun. The normal cost is around $200.

When choosing a shotgun, you have to take into consideration what you'll be doing with it. If you know you're going to be using it for hunting, you may want to choose a longer barrel. If you think defense is more of a concern for you, the short barrel might be for you. Personally, I prefer the Remington 870 tactical 12 gauge shotgun. If I need to hunt with it, I can. But if it comes time to protect myself or my family, the Remington will do well for that too. That model will cost approximately $650, but the additions and options available for it may cause the price to move up or down..

A handgun is a big choice. There are so many options out there and one size certainly does not fit all. Let's try to establish some foundations. The handgun on this list is mainly there for personal protection and carrying on your person at all times if practical to defend yourself from a two-legged predator (that would be humans). Therefore I am not going to suggest a small caliber such as a .22LR for your handgun. The smallest caliber I would consider would be the 9mm, .38 or .380. Anything smaller might leave you needing to fire an entire magazine for an effect, and that is not the goal. Let's talk a little about semi-automatics and revolvers.

A semi-automatic is going to allow you to fire rapidly if necessary. No cocking needed after each shot and typically you will have more available ammo than in a revolver. There is a slight danger of a "jam", so you're going to need to be proficient with your chosen semi-auto in order to maintain the ability to clear the problem and get back in the fight. With a revolver, you have significantly less chance of any type of malfunction ever occurring. However, you probably will have more limited ammo in your firearm and reload time is a good bit longer than in a semi-auto. Also, if you choose a single-action (SA) revolver, you'll have to cock the hammer on every shot. I don't recommend choosing a SA. A double-action (DA) revolver does not require this cocking. The trigger pull will do that itself, though the trigger pull may be a bit harder than you'd like it to be in a fight.

Choosing a handgun is all on you. You have to ensure the weapon fits your hand and you can fire it comfortably. I feel comfortable carrying a Beretta 92FS 9mm semi-auto. My hand fits it decently and the recoil is easy on me. But my wife's hand is not made for that weapon. The recoil may not be hard, but if the weapon is a little too big, the recoil effect is going to be even worse than normal. My ideal carry weapon might be a Glock 19 9mm or a Colt Government 1911 .45ACP. For my wife, a Ruger LC380 (.380 caliber) would be a better fit and the recoil is manageable for her. The 1911 feels comfortable in her hand, but the recoil is a bit much. So, my point is that you need to ensure that the weapon fits well in your hand and that the recoil is manageable for you when firing. You also need to make sure you understand how to operate the weapon like an expert and maintain it properly.

My recommendation for a handgun won't go any further than me saying that I prefer a semi-automatic over a revolver. Revolvers are excellent weapons, but in a fight, I want to be able to fire quickly and reload quickly. I do understand that with a semi-auto I will need to be able to clear a possible malfunction (however unlikely) quickly. As far as recommending a model, I can't do that. It all depends on you. Some good brands (there are many others) to check out are Colt, Beretta, FN, Walther, Smith and Wesson, Glock and Ruger.

It's obvious that you will need magazines for any weapons you have. It's advisable to have several for each weapon in case you lose one or one is damaged. Cleaning kits are also obvious needs. It's important to have a good oil for cleaning and lubricating your guns. CLP (Cleaner, lubricant and protectant) is what the US military generally uses. RemOil by Remington is an excellent choice.

Ammunition for each firearm needs to be collected in abundance. 1,000 rounds per firearm is an excellent start. Notice that I say "per firearm". That means if you have two 9mm handguns, you should acquire 2,000 rounds of 9mm ammo. Being short on ammo means your weapons will do you no good. Shotgun shells take up a lot of room and aren't made to go around "spraying and praying", so 500 shells should be good to start.

During times of gun control pushes ammunition, magazine and firearms themselves can be difficult to find. When the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred in 2012, left-leaning politicians like President Obama and Kalifornia Senator Diane Feinstein (who had been telling everyone that this was "no time for politics") started their push against everything gun related. They pushed for bans on common sporting rifles, on ammunition, on magazines, on firearm features like pistol grips and collapsible stocks. What ensued was a run on ammo, magazines and firearms. In the late part of 2012, all kinds of common ammo disappeared from the shelves and common sporting rifles like the AR-15 vanished. Even 30 rounds magazines were all bought out. Things have returned back to normal somewhat, but it only takes one event and a bunch of gun grabbing politicians to start the panic again. Luckily, freedom loving Americans defeated almost every single anti-gun bill presented throughout the land. Only in the most liberal areas did the anti-gun crowd make any progress. In most areas in the US, the anti-gun crowd has been soundly defeated and our 2nd Amendment freedoms have been strengthened. We have to continue to the fight to maintain our God given rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights, or our children and grandchildren will live under the boots of tyrants.

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