> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Thoughts on Fighting Gear: Guns



Thoughts on Fighting Gear: Guns

Thanks to all those who have commented so far on the 'question' post from Monday. It's good to get a gauge for where everyone is before launching into any discussion on a topic.

Based on those comments, I wanted to talk through the firearm part, since several folks seem to be figuring that out. There's no reason to worry about a holster before you've bought the handgun, a sling before you've bought the rifle or how you will carry magazines if you have neither.

And, I will preface this and future conversations by recommending having some emergency savings, food and water storage and other basics before diving into the deep end of fighter gear. I'd also recommend an assessment of risks that you see yourself facing and whether you would play an active role in the defense of your community or whether a support role might be more appropriate.

If you are skeptical of the need for a citizen to take up arms in defense of his community, religion, nation or liberty, please keep your skepticism to yourself and do a little bit of reading on both historical and current events.

Anyways, onto the gun talk!

On Handguns:

In any kind of serious collapse situation - regional or otherwise - a handgun will be left wanting. Threats go from a couple of thugs at across the room distances to potential for armed mobs, organized gangs or governments gone tyrannical. The need for concealment is quickly replaced by the need for a more effective weapon--a rifle.

When facing that level of threat the oft repeated "a handgun is for fighting your way back to your rifle" holds true.

Many, many soldiers have marched into battle with only a rifle...not very many have marched into battle with only a handgun, and fewer of those likely marched back out again.

See this 'Devil's Advocate' post from recent T-Blog history for some more background - there are some great comments, including this one from from John Mosby sums up the role of handguns in full-fledged combat nicely:

"In a situation that mandates having a rifle in hand, a pistol really is a luxury. While the arguments can be made for different what-ifs that seem to require a sidearm, they are just that...hypothetical...If I'm taking a crap, in a field environment, I better have a Ranger buddy watching my (figurative...literal would be gross) six. If I'm inside a perimeter, I should have security out providing me warning that I need to pinch it off and pick up my rifle. In CQB....in a typical residential house-sized room? a) There are other people covering your sector as well as you. That's why we work with friends. If your weapon goes down and you have a pistol....chances are, you're not going to get it out and into action before you collide with the dude in front of you. I don't care if you're Wyatt Earp. Distances are too close and movement too fast. It can happen--has happened--but I've seen as many guys (in the real world, versus a training range) solve THAT problem with combatives or edged weapons as with a sidearm.

All of that having been said......I'll stick with carrying my sidearm. As Cooper once wrote....It's a piece of mind thing, and it's worth it to me to carry the extra weight."

A handgun is something you will likely want to have with you, but keep its importance in perspective--it is an airbag in case your primary stops working. As such, you shouldn't plan on carrying much more than two spare pistol mags on your fighting gear.

In terms of specific recommendations on a handgun for a combat load, the polymer wonder pistols are hard to beat in terms of weight, capacity, reliability and shoot ability...but, if you have a preference for and shoot something else better, then I wouldn't worry much.

I would also recommend a handgun that could be reasonably concealed, useful both in current times and after some kind of event but when a full fighting load may not be appropriate.

If you were very pressed for resources, you could skip the 'fighting handgun' all together and go without or press a subcompact 'carry gun' into the role.

On Shotguns:

When you encounter a list of 'must haves in your survival firearms battery', it invariably includes a pump action shotgun.

While I agree that a 12 gauge can be a handy thing to have around, I would also disagree that they are a must-have.

That's right. You do not need a shotgun.

Why? Shotguns excel at three things: hunting birds, firing non-lethal rounds and breaching doors. Neither of these are a big priority.

That said, a shotgun is a devastatingly effective weapon in trained, capable hands and within its range envelope. Slugs and buckshot will put a serious hurtin' on anything that walks this earth.

Shotguns are also legal in places where something like an AR-15 is not.

12 gauge is pretty much always available and the simplest option to reload in austere conditions and improvised components...as in a nail, a dowel, a primer, blackpowder and whatever you can improvise for shot. You can't do that with 5.56 or .308.

And, shotguns are generally less expensive than a rifle or even a big brand handgun - $250-$350 can get you a very nice, new-in-box shottie. Go with 'used' and there's even better deals out there.

If a shotgun was my only choice, I would sure as hell make it work.

But, if I had the choice between an AR-15 and a 12 gauge, I'd pick the AR-15 every time.

Fighting gear for shotguns bears special considerations because you dealing with loose shells, loaded one at a time. Getting fast, smooth and efficient takes a lot of practice, both dry and on the range. I will probably do a separate post for shotgun support options in the future.

On Fighting Rifles:
For your primary, I would strongly recommend an AR platform. 

A few years back, the argument used to be AR or AK, but it seems that has mostly gone away. The AK used to have a price advantage, but these days that has mostly disappeared. A serviceable AR can be assembled for around the $500 price point these days.

Yup--the AK has the edge in durability.

The AR makes up for that with accuracy, ergonomics, the availability of training for the weapon system and the vastly simplified logistics it brings.

A 5.56 AR with a 16" barrel and mid-length gas system is the best bet for an all-around rifle. A 1/7 rifle twist would be the way I'd go today. Mine is a 16 inch, carbine length 1/9, but I bought my AR before midlength 1-in-7 was commonplace like it is today.

You will want a light on it, and if you can afford it, an optic - I would recommend a red dot like the Aimpoint PRO.

The Devil is in the Details: Logistics
A big part of the reason for recommending the AR is the simplified logistics it entails. 

In the last post, WG wisely noted:

'Any weapon brings with it more than just the price tag. It brings with it the need to train, the ammo for training, the ammo to put away, spare parts, knowledge on how to fix and maintain that weapon, carrying equipment, other accessories. There is a logistical tail behind any weapon, and adding a weapon should not be taken lightly. The value of a weapon should be weighed against the stress to your personal logistical system. ' 

This is incredibly true. Ammo, magazines, optics, etc. all increase the overall investment of money and time required to have a weapon system in place and figured out.

Logistics become even more complicated when you add in a group dynamic, whether it's a training group formed before any troubles or something that comes together out of necessity after a collapse.
There will be more people to work with and more weapons to support. You can assume most will not be as 'prepared' for any troubles as you are and will need additional support--parts, maintenance, magazines, ammunition and so on.

Compare two fictional teams o' survivors/defenders:

Team 1 running:
  • Steyr AUG
  • AR-10
  • AK-74 
  • Saiga 12 gauge
And Team 2 running:
  • Four ARs in 5.56
While Team 1 has some long range advantage from the AR-10 and some interesting CQB possibilities with the Saiga 12, they also have vastly complicated logistics. No compatible magazines, spare parts or ammunition, different 'manual of arms' for each weapon, different training required and different capabilities.

Add that to the added expense, difficulty and comparative rarity of getting magazines, parts, etc. squared away and things get even trickier.

Team 2, in comparison, are all running the same weapon...they need the same ammo, the same magazines, the same parts...and use the same manual of arms and require the same training, so if Timmy goes down, Joe Bob can pick up his mags and keep fighting. If Joe Bob's bolt shears off, Big Mac might have a spare kicking around his pack that they can pop in once they are back to base.

The AR-15 is everywhere. Yes, there can be some allure to the new/cool thing, but do the math and think through the logistics before making that deep dive.

Your gun buddies probably have ARs...and as noted, that is important in many ways, from training to splitting bulk buys to those simplified logistics if the crap ever does hit the fan.

Mil/LEOs use AR pattern rifles, magazines and have vast stores of ammunition.

Your local gun shop has stacks of ammo, parts and AR magazines a plenty...at least until another "firearmageddon" roles around.

And let's not even get started about the options that are available on the interwebs.

I recommend 5.56 for those reasons; yes, 300 Blackout and 6.8 SPC are more terminally effective. They also cost more, are less readily available and your friend's AR is probably chambered in 5.56.

If you end up with several ARs, then by all means move into alternate calibers if interested and you can support the cost and logistics that entails. But you'll still want to have an AR in 5.56 around.

Along the same lines, a lot has been written about 'battle rifles' in .308. FALs, AR-10s, G3 clones...usually with some derision about 5.56 thrown into the mix. If you can afford the rifle and the price of .308, IF you can handle the additional weight of the weapon and ammo, and IF your gun buddies are also set up with the same model of .308s, then I would not argue against 'em.

Similarly, if your group/family/friends all run AKs instead of ARs, then I would go with the crowd in that case.

"But what about..."
So you don't have an AR-15 and already have odd-ball rifle X and want to know what to do with it.

SKS: Sell it and buy an AR.

M1 Garand: Sell it and buy an AR.

Mini-14: Sell it and buy an AR.

Lever Gun: Sell it and buy an AR.

Get the idea? If you've got your freedom fightin' AR done, squared away and ready and want to venture elsewhere for personal interest/hobby purposes, cool. If local laws restrict you from having one, then that is another matter.

The Really Minimal Firearms Battery
This is a bit off topic, but it is related. Folks ask and there are neophytes out there looking for guidance: what is the smallest/least expensive firearms battery that I should look at assembling?

For post some kind of major collapse, I would not lose a ton of sleep over running an AR-15 as my sole weapon. It would be within arm's reach at all times.

But since we're also concerned with present day, under rule of law situations and the potential for a slow slide into chaos, a concealable pistol is needed, too. For me, that would mean a subcompact pistol of some kind...think Glock 26, S&W Shield in size.

For a third gun, I would add a full sized handgun with a light on it. Some folks can carry something like a Glock 19 year round, which would allow you to bypass the small gun for the regular sized one right off. Or, if you aren't able to or are not interested in concealed carry, then there's no reason to go with the carry piece over something bigger.

But, an AR and a subcompact pistol would do most of what you realistically need a firearm to do defensively. Concealed carry, check. Home defense, check. Combat? Check.

What about hunting? I'm not really planning on eatin' off game in a collapse, but .223 varmint rounds will kill small game dead, and a .22lr conversion will let you do so efficiently. .223 huntin' rounds have been used for deer, hogs, even elk with good effectiveness.

Long range? While .223/5.56 does loose some of its oomph at longer ranges, 300-600+ yards is entirely doable and will still render good hits. At 500 yards, m193 (55gr 5.56mm) still has around 300 ft/lbs of energy, which is in the ballpark of what 9mm has at the muzzle. If you step up to mk262 (77gr 5.56mm), you've got 463 ft/lbs of energy at 500 yards, which is in on the low end of .357 magnum at the muzzle.  

Point is this: is it the 'best' for every conceivable role? No. But it is a pretty good all-arounder with manageable logistics.

A good, well outfitted carry gun and a good, well outfitted AR-15 is not an insignificant investment. Factor in the support gear, logistics and training parts, too. You will be far better off with a 'complete' set of kit to run two firearms than having four or five firearms floating around in various states of completion.

After that point, you can move onto other guns. But those two will give you the most functional bang for your buck.

Me? I did not have any wise soul dishing out this kind of sage advice when I started, so I fall into the camp of having more than a few firearms floating around with support gear in various states of completion.

And, of course, I am now too 'attached' to them to sell my shotgun to buy parts and n' ammo for my AR and so on, and all serve their own purpose, anyways. I'm in the process of getting the whole firearms battery wrapped up and sorted out, but it has been a long journey for not a ton of incremental reward.

So, if you are building up your arsenal and want to stay focused and efficient, concentrate on an AR-15 and a pistol or two, plus support gear. Hard to go wrong there.


  1. Thank you, new to the blog. Some very good, and simple guidance that will definitely influence my next firearms purchase. Thanks.

  2. Regardless of John Mosby I think the pistol has a place in backing up the rifle. Google Marcus Luttrell and you will see he and his fellow SEAL team members carried a pistol either in a thigh holster or on their LBV in the pictures. If you have read the book or seen the movie you would know they did end up having to use their pistols also. Way I look at it if combat experienced Tier one operators see the value than it most likely has its place.

    1. Re-read the quote and the post:

      "All of that having been said......I'll stick with carrying my sidearm. As Cooper once wrote....It's a piece of mind thing, and it's worth it to me to carry the extra weight."

      Handguns do have a place, as a last ditch backup weapon. It's the open combat equivalent of a cop's ankle or pocket gun...you probably won't need it, probably smart to have one with you anyways.

      The SEALs of Operation Red Wing were up against 60+ Taliban fighters and went through 11 rifle mags. IIRC, Axelson was the only one who used his pistol, in a last stand against the Taliban after he and Luttrell were separated. Luttrell had rifle mags left and, IIRC, never used his pistol.

      As far as Tier One operators go, I am sure most have a similar attitude about the pistol as John Mosby, who is himself a former Army Special Operations veteran.

    2. He left prior to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003. Not sure how much real world trigger time he got compared to the current SO people. One other problem with John is in his Bio posted in 2012 he said he was 35 and left the military in 2003. The math say he was 24 when he got out. So he went into the special forces at 14? Red flag!

    3. John Mosby
      Blogger since 2012


      I am a 35-year old family man. I grew up in the "survivalist" movement, before serving nearly a decade in Army special operations. Since leaving the military in 2003, I have been active in the liberty movement, and training individual survival tactics, techniques, and procedures.Contact via email at nousdefionsranger@yahoo.com.

      If I had to guess he is also claiming to have been a Ranger based on his email address.

    4. Sigh...maybe 7 years counts as nearly a decade? Army SF can/do go thru ranger school as well.

      A flame war on Mosby's resume is not the intention here, and it also bears to keep in mind that we are not operating as big military special forces anyways.

      Re-read that section and you will see that I support carrying a sidearm, just keeping mind of its context and role.

    5. You name dropped him!

      Still 7 years does not add up. He left at the age 24 after 7 years. So now he was SO at age of 17.

      Sound like another internet poser! You might what to vet your sources before name dropping them.

    6. Could have gone in at 18, too.

      I also quoted WG. The post isn't about name dropping or the credentials of those quoted. Take or leave the advice and go back to reading Lone Survivor if that makes you feel better.

    7. Maybe Ranger at 18, but Special Forces (Green Berets) the minimum age is 20. The point is my references were vetted operators, not some guy on the internet claiming to be one. There are a lot of fakes out there, but at the same time there are plenty of vetted operators that we can look to for the same info. It is your choice.

      As far as the pistol is concerned the military does not issue it to the troops at large more out of logistic. Then again when you can call an Apache or an AC130 why do you need to worry about a pistol. The bottom line it has its place in a SHTF prepper world because we do not have all the cool shit the military get to call in for support. This is a fact that is sometime lost of the so call military gurus out there.

    8. But the guys from Operation Red Wings (RIP) and other operator types would not disagree with me: a pistol is a last ditch weapon, rarely used in modern combat, and taken along just in case.

      No one ever said a sidearm doesn't have a place--the point is just not to overemphasize it.

    9. Before I went into the army in 2004, I asked a friend (who was in the 19th SF group out of Draper Utah) what sidearm he carried. He laughed and said none.

      Why? Weight. He simply had so much other stuff to carry that his body was right on the edge of maxing out all the time. I discovered this reality for myself in the Army. I fantasized about carrying the cook's rifle, because he didn't have to lug around a PEQ+Comp4+203 etc etc etc.

      I do think that handguns have a place in WROL, but are not essential in a "combat load".

      Which brings me to my second point, the "combat load". I'm hearing a distinct tendency to copy-paste from the military fire team model, but the scenarios where this is useful or necessary are EXTREMELY specific. Like insurgency.

      In the vast majority of disaster scenarios worthy of preparation, people will still need to go to work, feed to dog, get food, etc. This kill-team mentality smacks of MZB to me.

      One thing that I can say will be an absolute reality? Work. Lots of it. Manual labor. My brother just flew over to the Phillipines after the hurricane devastated that country. Not a lot of fire teams over there, but a hell of a lot of "rebuild this lady's house" teams.

      Again. insurgency is a possibility, but if it comes to that you may find yourself load maxed without the extra handgun. But yeah, AR-15 ubiquity FTW.

    10. I agree with 032125 on the fact for some reason preppers think they need to be set up like some military spec ops fire team. Selco deals a lot with that mentality over at his blog and what they average person would face in a SHTF scenario.

      Now since were talking guns, mine is an AR platform with an Aimpoint PRO. It works for me, but for everyday possibly walking into a SHTF scenario, which is more realistic than it in my Glock 22. Like Selco has said the best weapon is the one you have in your hands when you need it.

      Alex you made mention about a 1/7 twist verse 1/9. The 1/9 is good for most ammunition up to about 70g, above that is where the 1/7 is needed. So I would keep what you have there and not worry to much about 1/7 bandwagon.

    11. Thanks 3rdman. I'll go one further and suggest that being kitted out like a tier 0 operator might encourage a risk-taking mentality that should be scrupulously avoided. Again, unless we're talking insurgency, which I suspect is the elephant in this room.

      As the sage noted, "Your number one philosophy for personal security should be a life long commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation. "

      Of course, this is just my dumb opinion, from a grey man mindset. Handguns have been and will be the right carry weapon 99% 0f the time, whether you live in Kosovo in the 90s or Argentina during the collapse, or the US during....whatever is coming.

    12. 032125 -

      Thanks for your comments and personal experiences on carrying a handgun in a combat zone.

      R.E. the odds a civilian would ever need to 'soldier up' with a combat load in defense of home, neighborhood, community, religion or nation are up to the individual to decide. As I note at the beginning of the post, I would be recommend sorting out basics like water, an emergency fund, food and so on before venturing down the combat arms path.

      If you take the viewpoint that Katrina is the worst thing you'd ever want to prepare for, you can get away with a lot less in terms of supplies, tools and training. I don't remember a lot of folks going to work, running to the store to get food, etc. during Katrina, though, so I'm not sure your point there.

      Most of us survivalist/prepper types feel it wise to keep an AR around for 'worst case' scenarios...and if you're going to have an AR around, you might as well have the gear to properly support it if the worst case ever did roll around.

    13. Thanks Alex. I don't want to give the impression of being "against" the AR, or a handgun, or even both. My point is only that the old Cooper saw about peace of mind sounds good on paper but may not be feasible unless the individual is either in tip-top physical shape, or is willing to jettison some other useful gear.

      I am definitely in the AR+9mm camp, mostly because the military experience made me fanatical about weight shaving. There's a good reason that so many vets have bad knees and chronic back pain, and the culprit is the Good Idea Fairy.

      This goes back to your excellent discussion on "Do you have your load carrying equipment figured out?". I think a lot of people haven't actually tried to walk a mile or two humping their full battle rattle. If you can, go on a multi-day 15+ mile trek with everything (or use weight equivalents if you can't legally carry your arms and ammo). Money says something in your kit will get jettisoned before the next outing, and a second firearm is on the short list.

    14. 3rd Man -

      Not worried about the 1/9 twist, just would do it differently today.

      A handgun is exceedingly practical for everything up to and including strapping on the Rambo gear. I had a part in the post originally about how if I was artificially limited to only one firearm, it would have to be a concealable handgun. The gun you have with you sort of deal...you get some of that in the 'Really Minimal Firearms Battery' discussion - concealable handgun + AR.

      It's been a while since I've read Selco, but if I remember right, he recommends having handguns and AKs around - and, were this Serbia, I'd recommend an AK versus an AR, too.

      And, insurgency is one reason you'd want ARs and some combat kit around (see: 2nd Amendment). Wide scale collapse and lawlessness of any kind is going to have you reaching for an AR and some level of support gear, even if it's just for peace of mind running security.

    15. 032125 -

      No worries, brother. We're in agreement. If I couldn't find a place/weight on my battle rattle for a handgun, I wouldn't sweat it too much.

  3. Pistols are an interesting discussion. For a genuine one pistol solution something between a G 26 and G19 size (or equivalent M&P/ XD) is the zone of possible utility. I think the Shield has a real role here because it has enough barrel to shoot but is thin enough to conceal better than the fat shrunken down service pistols. Then again it is a single stack if that concerns you. For a genuine 1 handgun solution I would suck it up and pack the Glock 19 everywhere. Though the compact M&P which is IIRC slightly smaller than the G19 could be an excellent option here.

    The issue with the 'Get a fighting rifle next' discussion is twofold. First that it totally ignores cost. Sure a $800+ AR is better at shooting people than a Moss/ Rem pump shotgun, it should be as it is purposely designed for that and costs 2.5-3+ times as much. For the price of an AR and some mags I could realistically have shotguns for Wifey and I plus a spare stashed someplace. What I am getting at is if there is some artificial reason you can only have so many guns (live on a boat, etc) then cost isn't so much of a consideration but for most people the limiting factor is money.

    Second is versatility. If you have a closet full of various hunting guns and just want a fighting rifle then by all means get an AR. On the other hand if you are going to have just 1 or 2 long guns the total utility of a pump shotgun (especially with long choked and short 'riot' barrels) is a huge asset. Being able to put on a long barrel and load it up with #6 shot to go hunting small game with the utility to slip in a slug if you find a deer then get home, swap it out for the short barrel and buckshot for defending against the hordes is a lot of utility.

    On rifles. For buying at today's prices the AK doesn't have much of an edge on an AR. Gun prices aren't far apart, AK mags are more expensive and steel cased ammo costs are similar (though I think AK's tolerate it better than AR's). That being said if you got a $250-500 AK years ago and have plenty of stuff then stick with it.

    Other rifles. The 30-30, SKS, etc are not what I would want for a go gun. The 30-30 has the advantage of legality everywhere, being darn near unbreakable and a very common round. The SKS screams back up/ loaner gun for anybody vested in the AK/ 7.62x39. That being said I liked the SKS at under $300 a lot better than at $400 plus. With careful shopping both of these guns can be purchased in the $350-400ish range. If you are hard up enough that you've got to sell em to fund and AR then do it. On the other hand a 30-30 deer gun that eats cartridges almost every hunter/ rancher/ farmer has at a price where you don't mind tossing it in the truck for a road trip is something handy to have. Honestly while I love semi auto mag fed rifles I am hard pressed to come up with too many legitimate examples of civilian situations where a 30-30 would not fill all my rifle needs. LA Riots, no prob. Katrina, no prob. Home invasion by multiple armed thugs is really the only one and my odds there aren't great anyway.

    As to the .22 conversion kit. You can buy a dedicated .22 like a Marlin model 60 for around the price of one. To me their utility is that for maybe the size of a 1 liter coke bottle in an assault pack you can have the bolt, a mag and 100rds of CCI ammo to go squirrel hunting with the AR you're packing anyway.

    For a one man/ bug out situation that is handy. On the other hand for limited guns in a disaster I'd rather have a .22 I could take to the woods and another long gun at home with Wifey.

    I agree the 5.56 AR performs well in CQB and realistic combat ranges then tails out to adequate for awhile. About where it dips from adequate to iffy we get to the point where realistic combat hits are a rare thing anyway.

    1. If someone can scrimp and save $500-ish for a good handgun, than I don't see why they couldn't also save $600-ish for an entry level AR-15.

      The shotgun is versatile, but most of its versatility is in hunting. If you hunt, you've already got a shotgun and/or a deer rifle. In terms of versatility, the AR has plenty, too - from small game slaying to deer hunting to CQB to precision marksmanship...it will kill bunnies just as dead, at longer ranges.

      But, completely agree - shotguns are cheaper, and if the cost of an AR and accessories is prohibitive, that is what I would recommend. I have several friends whose sole firearm is a shotgun, 'cuz that's what they can afford at this point. Better than nothing!

      Many farmers have an AR kicking around these days, too - along with a few shotguns. The AR is taking the 30-30s place as the 'All American' rifle.

      A .30-30 or pistol cal lever can do a lot, but they aren't a modern combat arm. Try using one from the prone position. If Katrina is the worst case you're planning for, than really any kind of long gun will be fine for show of force. If it is something on the scale where a citizen would have reason to don combat gear then it comes up short. I

      If a lever is all you can have for legality purposes, than that's one thing, but otherwise a lever gun runs $450...and these days that can get you well on your way to an AR.

      On the .22lr - something like a Model 60 would require some additional logistics - mags, scope, sling, parts - and training. It'd hopefully be more accurate and reliable than the conversion. The conversion has the added benefit of running in your AR, giving you some added training/trigger time there.

      I would add that if you hope to feed yourself through small game hunting with a .22lr after a collapse, you'd better hunt with a .22lr now, and a Model 60 or 10/22 are more suited to hunting at present.

    2. Alexander, I regularly see Winchester 30-30's in the mid $300 range and Marlins for about 3 flat.

      The Marlin Model 60 is tube fed and has iron sights. Toss on a $20 sling, get a few spare parts and stack ammo deep is about all you need to do for them.

      For ME hitting the woods with a .22 to shoot dinner is in the contingency or emergency part of the pace plan.

      For a fighting gun a lower end but not junk AR like an M&P is a fine option.

      I agree a lever gun is not a modern fighting arm. Nor is a pump shotgun. Then again a reality checking anti gun porn part of me has to look at what civilian situation occur that cannot be solved with those guns. Looking at reality vs some magican SHTF time might lead us to see those guns can do the job far more often than not.

      I recently transitioned the bedside long gun to a 12 gauge 870 from an AR. Did it for both legal and economic considerations. Anyway I have a hard time seeing a violent problem in my home that I could realistically solve with an AR that I could not with an 870. When I think about the 'second fight' I want them to be looking at a plain old 12 gauge shotgun, which I swear Louisiana residents own 3 of on average, not some evil black plastic rifle.

    3. Ryan -

      I'll admit that I haven't looked a whole lot at used 30-30s, $300 for a good 30-30 is a deal.

      I agree on the value of a stand alone .22lr and have 'em in my arsenal--but also think you could 'do without' and still be equipped for the widest possible array of situations.

      r.e. the rest of the comment, I think you're heading into a different discussion - what situations a civilian is 'likely' to face, the minimum that you'd need to get through those, etc...which isn't the intent of the post and is honestly a pretty short conversation:

      Likeliest threat is a home invasion or armed robbery, and a Glock-ish handgun is pretty adequate for dealing with those. A shottie, lever gun or semi-auto rifle of any variety would also work for those purposes.

      Of course, a lot of what we do is about preparing for the less likely, black swan type events.

      And if we start talking about threats where you have multiple bad guys are armed with AKs, ARs and on up, a lever gun becomes hard to recommend.

  4. I just upgraded to the LWRCI REPR as my primary weapon, with a spare. It doesn't mean I'm willing to part with my AR's, it's just that I'm wanting to up the game a bit for the AO I'm planning to stay in if it all goes bad. The rest of the fam have AR15's for their primary weapon.

    Another trick I've gone with is to have the ability to drop the number of mags I carry without dropping the round count. I've gotten a few 40 round Pmags. For every 3 you carry, you can drop a mag from your previous load, or carry extra rounds in the same configuration.

    As far as handguns, that's a personal decision. There are enough Glock 40 and 9mm mags running around that you can be sure to run across a few in your daily travels. Hard to beat. If you get a 26 or 27, they will run any other size mags you can find, right on up to the 33 round 9mm mags.

    Shotguns IMO are great for last ditch Alamo defense or in heavy brush, but lacking at ranges past 80-100 yards. Where I live, shots past 100 yards are hard to find, but I'm not interested in changing out ammo on the fly when I need to take a 100 yard shot and my gun is loaded with turkey shells.

    The bailout location is perfect for DMR rifles, with shots regularly out to 600 yards from elevated cover. A bit too much for an AR with a 1x sight, but perfect standoff distance with a telescopic sighted 308 AR or a mid magnification optic.

    Whatever firearms you choose, make sure it fits your needs long term and practice with it regularly.

    1. Meister -

      Your arsenal is what most of us aspire to!

    2. Thank you. Working at a gun shop part time has it's privileges. Reloading keeps them fed and me in condition. Great topic, many don't understand the role a firearm takes once you get past point and shoot. A cohesive, purpose driven system is what works best in bad times and under pressure. Sweat on the field or bleed in combat.

  5. I would like to respectfully disagree. Although I agree with 90% of what you say about the AR, for the new shooter who is not proficient with an AR a shotgun (mag loaded) may be far more effective. For my group the main members carry ARs, however despite the advantages of interchangeability I would argue that when equipping a group focussing on getting everyone, even less than proficient shooters, group standard is a waste of resources.

    Also I agree that the Pistol has its place. By the time you exhaust 7 magazines of ammo its likely that much of your attackers ammo is exhausted and while you might be able to carry an extra 5.56 mag or two you can easily carry 3 or four pistol mag, which in close quarters can be effective.

    1. PADRE -

      Pump shotguns are not easier for most folks to shoot than an AR, especially when loaded with defensive stuff - buckshot or slugs. It is a long perpetuated myth that just is not true. Heck, it's something the anti-gunners trot out routinely!

      The fact that you get a few inches of spread with buck does not make the shotgun a death ray - in fact, it causes added risk of pellets missing their target and hitting friendlies and the good ol' 'donut of death' at range. Complications that an inexperienced shooter is unlikely to consider in a defensive situation.

      Handling recoil and operating the pump can often cause trouble for shooters, especially those of smaller stature. Managing the shells requires complex manipulation that requires practice to get good at.

      Getting proficient with an AR is a much easier task to accomplish for a wide range of shooters - one of the reasons 5.56 was adopted by the U.S. military in the first place. Especially when you throw a red dot on it.

    2. The biggest issue to train out of new shotgun shooters is short shucking the thing. In an intense situation, macro and micro dexterity is reduced, making mistakes and errors more common. Under duress, most highly trained operatives and police officers can't even tell you how many shots they fired until they count the rounds in the gun. Saying a gun that requires several movements to fire a single round is superior to one that requires just a trigger pull is disingenuous at best. A saiga or something similar would be better, but they aren't the most reliable and are brutal to shoot for smaller stature people or new shooters. Hits count, and flinching causes misses.

    3. I've been told the same thing about fine motor control loss for many years, but have recently seen some compelling arguments against overstating the phenomenon. I can't recall the sources but will dig them up. Without going into detail, I will say that under extreme pressure I have personally gone straight to training.

      As an aside, the magic number is five. Go look up police and self defense shootings on YouTube or LiveLeak. For some reason people pull that trigger five times. It's eerily common.

    4. In the event that the 12 gauge has too much recoil for the small framed, 20 gauge or even 410 are options. A newbie can outfit the wife and teenage kid for $300 if the time is taken to find a deal.
      I recommend a carbine in one's favorite caliber such as hi point, keltec, or marlin camp carbine. Recoil is not an issue, operation is easy, range is not a huge factor in an urban setting, and most important for me, the same caliber used in the handgun can be used in the carbine. In some cases the magazines are even interchangeable. All guns are just tools and there is a tool for every job. However, some are just as multi-purpose as a pair of channel locks and duct tape.

  6. Wow, really intelligent post and comments. Smart people here, a cut above the norm.

    I do think that if you are starting from zero and looking to equip a group then establishing a group standard in key gear is a no-brainer.

    I'm not even going to go into AR vs Ak vs PTR, etc. Pick one that is appropriate to your situation and terrain and then stack the ammo for it high. If you can't get the group to agree on something this basic NOW how do you think things are going to work out post-SHTF?

    As for pistols, I wouldn't sweat the group standard here. Pistol fit is very individualistic and just how much pistol shooting are you going to do when its TEOTWAWKI? As the op pointed out, the rifle will be your primary then. Let the folks pick their own sidearm for CCW, home defense, etc now.

    I agree with everything the op said about shotguns. Also, the training aspect, especially with the typical pump 12 ga, can be an big issue.

    Again, smart people here, glad I found this site.

  7. I know that I am opening up a can of worms here, but for budget group arsenals, ruger 10/22s might be a good idea. At around $300 a pop with loads of options for loadouts and magazines. The ammo is a little hard to find right now, but far cheaper for shooters who need training. I would say that if you have members in your family group who you plan on taking with you, but that don't have firearms of their own or firearm experience, the 10/22 is a nice solid choice for them. At the very least, with the high ammo amounts, it could be a good suppression weapon while the real gun shooters take accurate shots.

    1. I agree with Yeager's theory, I'll take a 10/22 over any handgun as a main defense weapon. More accurate, higher capacity, more accurate, longer standoff distance and it's cheap to shoot when things get back to normal. I will say this though, the S&W M&P15/22 is another great option that can be had in that price range, with direct crossover training and experience. Options are nice, and upgrading with almost zero retraining to a 223/5.56 package is a real advantage.

  8. I have a AK-74, got it a few years back for under $400--including the FFL. Ammo is cheap too--so that's another advantage. I like the AK--its a cool gun--but I agree with your points. An AR is pretty indispensable. I don't really want to sell me AK though--its become a dear friend over the years. And I'm not sure if I could build a decent AR for the price I'd get for the AK. Perhaps some day down the road I'll get a little AR to supplement my arsenal--for some of the reasons you mentioned.

  9. I'll add one more thing. The idea that you should try to emulate Special Forces as a citizen or even in a post-collapse scenario is a little silly. Obviously you can learn things from them, but you will be in a very different situation. You won't have any of the support or intelligence they have--no helicopters, no drones, and no tanks to roll in and back you up. More importantly in a collapse situation you will likely have some kind of profession. SF guys whole job is SF stuff. And when they fight they knew they were going to fight before hand. They suit up knowing they are likely going to see trouble. Chances are no one's going to pay you to do SF stuff in a collapse scenario--you'll be a farmer or a hunter or maybe if your have a certain skill set you'll be a doctor, a merchant, a banker, or a mechanic. Point is its not going to make much sense to carry a rifle, a pistol, 10 extra mags, breaching charges, fully body armor, and night vision goggles while you go about your strenuous daily responsibilities. It might make sense to carry a rifle slung on your back or a pistol on your belt. It might even be needful to engage an enemy force--defensively or offensively. But don't do something just cuz some special forces guy does the same thing--it might make sense for him but make no sense for your potential needs. When the shiz hits the fan your not going to magically turn into Mr. Oscar Mike Delta Seal Team Jason Bourne and start running special forces missions all day long. Just sayin.

  10. My first gun was a 10/22, and I would agree with the above. For someone new to firearms, they make a great starter with undervalued capabilities.

    That said, in a group setting, someone with only a 10/22 and an inability to use anything else would likely be relegated to a secondary, non-combatant role.

    1. I appreciate the open minded nice here, honestly thought I was gonna get hammered for mentioning a 22lr in a rifle discussion. Like KingHoju stated, most people will be doing their trade first and actual gunfighting second, so it is nice to have options to arm the "non-combatants" while not spending so much money to where it will impact the primary weapons.

  11. great job. "professionals know logistics"..one thing to add...MAGS!!!!!! not 6 or 10 but dozens. magpuls are running 10 bucks on sale on the net. buy 10 every month or two or three, whatever you can afford but keep stacking them in. if you plan to engage in the coming hostilities you will go thru mags. when bullets start coming back at you that dump pouch will be the last thing on your mind and may get you killed. drop the mag and keep shooting. police them up if you win, otherwise have a hundred more back at the base. besides, many folks ran out n bought ar's but no mags. they'll also be worth their weight in gold, literally.

    1. Roger that on the Mags, Riverrider

  12. I run an AK-74 and really like it. I'm not against ARs, and hope to get one in a few years. I have one point I'd like to make. The 5.56 is a mixed bag, ballistically. Out of a 20+ inch barrel, these concerns largely disappear. Out of a 14 or 16 inch barrel, the 5.56 is only truly effective out to maybe 100 yards/meters, depending on temperatures. -30 F is going to drop that a bit.

    My concerns with 5.56 effectiveness disappear when we talk about the 75+ gr rounds. I understand that. As long as the round is going faster than 2700 FPS, the 5.56 will outperform most AK rounds. Heavier 5.56 rounds can be effective at even slower velocities. I choose to not shoot 5.56 right now for cost and effectiveness concerns outside 100 yards/meters. When I get my AR, it will be a 20 inch barreled version.

    One reason I like the AR is because I can hand it off to a friend trained in the US military, and they can get going right away. It is familiar to them. If I had a few AKs around and handed one to a friend, I'd have to teach them to use it and then they would have to manage under stress. I have taught military trained friends to use an AK. It is a bit of a sight at first, and does not inspire trust. I'd prefer to hand them a familiar weapon.

    Here is a good link to information on 5.56 effectiveness. I suggest folks read it and tailor their rifle and ammo to meet their area and needs. Because of the articles I"m linking to, I have developed a healthy respect for the 5.56, and now want to own one. The list of articles is on the left hand side of that page.


    Thank you for the kinds words in your article. I'm glad I could help.


    1. The Ammo Oracle is a great resource.

      Note that M193 and SS109 will fragment/yaw/'splode and do nasty damage out to 200 yards from a 16" barrel.

      And even if they don't frag, both will still hit with some good ft/lbs behind 'em for many hundred yards past that.

      As a civvy, you get to play with things like hollow points that the .mil can't, which removes the dependency on 'frag velocity' for wounding potential.

      That said, the 74 is a valid choice and you are well aware of the cross-training/logistic concerns that come with it. That very affordable surplus ammo is very enticing, though!

  13. The AR I built for a friend of mine regularly takes deer out to 500 yards. I have no idea where the 100 yard terminal ballistics idea came from, but it's wrong. One of the current NRA F-class record holders is with a 223, and it's a gun I had built to shoot out to 1000 yards. It's only going to poke a hole at that yardage, but from muzzle to 600, it's a killer. I've dropped many Yote's out to 750 with a .223 as well. Even my 11.5" SBR has killed yotes and many other thing out to 400. I'm amazed that anyone would consider the 223 a 100 yard round.

    1. The .223 is very accurate.

      As was mentioned in response to my post, bullet types matter, and that does change the game. Also, shot placement matters and even poorly designed bullets, which the 5.56 is not, can kill with a headshot, heart shot, or other central nervous system shot. Clearly Meister, you are a better marksman than I am.

      My mentioning of the 5.56 being a 100 yard round is based on FMJ rounds fragmenting. This is based on when the 5.56 drops below the 2700 FPS threshold. Different bullet weights and different designs extend the effective range well beyond 100 yards/meters.

      For a more full explanation of what I'm talking about, please visit the link I posted above.

      I do appreciate the point that different kinds of bullets greatly extend the effective range, and shot placement matters a lot. Thanks for the reminder.


    2. I failed to mention something. When I described the 5.56 as a 100 yard/meter weapon, I based my description of a 16 inch barreled weapon firing 5.56 on the information presented for M855, which is 62 gr ammunition. The Ammo Oracle lists the effective range for M193, 55 gr, as about 150 yards/meters out of a 16 inch barreled weapon. Lighter rounds are more zippy, and this pertains to FMJ military type ammunition, not civilian options.

      Also, altitude, humidity, and local temperatures greatly affect actual performance. Just thought I'd clarify what I was referring to. As was mentioned above, a 16 inch barreled AR is not always a "100 meter weapon."



  14. Here is the famous Travis Haley/Blackwater "Turkey Shoot" video from Najaf, with Haley using (IIRC) and 18" 5.56 carbine to engage out to 800 meters:


    1. Haley is one of those guys whose classes I hope to attend one day.

  15. I used to have an AR as my primary but since have moved to an AK... why? Well I did take a hit in accuracy at longer distance but made up for in reliability and penetration. But those two reasons were not why I switched, it was the price of Ammo, at ~25 cents per bullet for an 7.62 vs ~ 50 cents per bullet for 5.56/.223 I can REALLY get twice as much bang for my buck Muhaha I crack myself up. But seriously I just bought 1,000 rounds of 7.62 for $230 whereas 1,000 rounds of .223 I had priced out to $550. I still have the AR for backup though in case the AK goes down... or hell freezes over. Like you mentioned on logistics, if I ever run out of AK supplies AR supplies should be easy enough to find/trade for around here (I live outside a military installation). I have two S&W M&P .22 rifles, one for my wife and one for my son. About 5,000 rounds of .22 set aside ready for those.

    For handguns I have a XD .45 compact and XDS .45 for concealment. Love both. My wife has a Glock 17 and Glock 26 9mm. I also have a .357 revolver with a 5 inch barrel, two pocket pistols (.25 & .380), and a Glock 22 .40 to go with my Keltec Sub 2000 .40. The sub 2000 is a great gun, accurate, fun, and reliable, also it is so small for a rifle that it allows great portability. I have seen pics of bikers having them sewn in the back of their jackets, but mine fits in a small bag.

    I have a couple shotguns, a few semi-auto's for skeet shooting and a Mossberg 500 tactical cruiser with 18" barrel. I've gone the well rounded route, the path you suggested not to take. I had a little bit of everything for the longest, but over the years I've finally gotten where I have a lot of everything. So I'm where I need to be on weapons and supplies for those weapons. Now after a realistic assessment I've decided to start looking at other supplies like food, water, etc.

  16. I totally agree about the AR thing, except, as long it is a battle proven system, it doesn't have to be an AR. If you had 4 Aks on team 2, or 4 Tavors or what ever. You just need compatibility.
    I personally would (for over all survival, not just fighting) the shotgun over a pistol and a rifle in my area. I can't name (except maybe a road) an area around here that I couldn't reasonably chunk lead at a target and make hits with a shotgun and slugs. Not easy, but doable. Also, every one talks about having a .22 for survival. I think (in my "close distance area") there is nothing I can't do with a shotgun that I can do with a .22, plus I can shoot birds and it is a better fighting gun.
    I also think a pistol is very important. If you are working around your house and not expecting trouble a handgun is a lot easier to keep close (in a holster, on your body). If you wear that pistol all the time, then it isn't really a factor in weight, because it is practically part of you (arguing against this would be like saying I don't wear clothes because they are too heavy). Now, your rifle should always be close (20 or so yards), but it is kinda hard to carry fire wood, chop down a tree, feed chickens or whatever with a rifle in your hands, or over your shoulder, which is harder and more annoying than you think (for me anyway).

    Anyway, great post!

  17. As a survival weapon, a 22 caliber rifle with a suppressor and a goodly supply of subsonic, standard velocity or any such standard velocity variation hollow point would be indispensable for a meat gun. It would also allow totally silent taking of two legged game if you can stick to head shots. Semi auto's aren't silent with a can, but many bolt actions are, all you hear is the firing pin hitting the rim.

    1. I didn't say you shouldn't have one. I was just saying in a mostly hunting survival and the odd bad guy (not mobs of them) you would be better off with a shotgun. Now, I would not give up my .22 for anything, either. It's just a little under powered and difficult to realistically hunt, especially large game (with head shots) and not spook them or anything. Without bait of some sort (or a food plot) bringing home meat with a large caliber rifle is hard enough, much less a headshot with a .22. A suppressor does completely change a lot of what I said though.

  18. Irishbrian90January 31, 2014

    I'm fortunate enough tht most of my guns have some sort of compatibility with my group. We all have Mosins. Two of us have ARs, with two more planning to build one soon. We all either have 9mm handguns, or 1911s. I have a Kel-Tec Sub 2000 that takes Sig 226 9mm mags, which my friend has the matching pistol for. My Ruger SR9 has compatibility with my other friends SR9c. There are of course multiple .22 caliber guns, both pistol and rifle, with 2 10/22s.
    The only oddball we have is the friend who only has AKs, but that is most likely going to be my next gun just for the sake of being able to shoot that cheap milsurp ammo. All in all, we have at least some "standardization" in our battery of arms, which isn't too bad since most of it happened before we started to think about it lol

  19. Thought I'd chime in on this one...I think what rifle/pistol combo or wither or not you choose to carry a sidearm is up to the individual/situation at hand. Personally, I am never un-armed..ever...wither it be my concealed handgun or a blade, even at the local swimming hole, I've got a concealed blade in my swim shorts, in the water, but this is coming from a former LEO and Marine. My mindset it always on alert and looking for threats, which have come un-expectantly once in awhile. As far as which rifle, which handgun...I was taught that the best weapon is the one you have in your hand at the time that you are engaged in combat. No such thing as a "combat weapon" like everyone loves to throw around, your choice of weapons is dictated by what you have in your hands at the time of contact. Prior planning taken into consideration, no one weapon is a do-it-all but I think a great Pair which would cover various realistic ranges, stopping power and commonality of ammo is the Lever action .357 combined with a .357 wheel gun. With this combo you have a rifle suitable for stopping human threats out to couple hundred yards, taking game from small to medium size at varying distances and a handgun very capable of stopping any threat within its range...added bonus you have a complete other caliber of ammo that will reliably cycle thru both weapons if push comes to shove. Both compatible ammos are very common rounds and wouldn't be that hard to scrounge/find in a post-collapse situation...especially since you could use either one in both weapon systems....redundancy is a savior. As far as carrying a sidearm, there is a reason it has been done for centuries, literaly thousands of years...ancient man carried a spear, several of them usually, some sort of axe or bludgeon weapon and a knife. The bludgeon/knife was a sidearm...utility weapon, back up to the main weapon but also as a utilitarian device. The spear. bow and arrow, tomahawk and knife. All used for protection as well as utility. The utility of a handgun is limited yes...but I'd much rather have one and not need it then need it and not have one. Being a former operator I have conducted many a movement or escape and evade through tight spaces, crawl spaces even sewers, where I was carrying my primary weapon, an MP-5 at the time, which is pretty compact, but had to make at least some of the journey with pistol in hand, as you physically could bring the primary weapon to bare if needed. I have also been involved in a brutal gunfight in which all operators were loaded down with between 6 to 10 mags each for primary weapons and by the end of the fight, were running out of ammo and about to have to switch to sidearms to protect themselves. Luckily the suspect presented himself in a last stand, came out shooting and was neutralized. But it was close...to close for comfort, especially being that he was armed with an RPK type rifle and our men were pinned down within 25yrds. That said, as far as load out...commonality of mags/ammo should be a priority when traveling as a group in a SHTF type scenario. If on your own, carry what ever you want, just take into account availability of ammo/mags in a post-collapse...disaster scenario. Weight...is an issue, but I think one that it overly emphasized sometimes..I promise you, when the bullets are flying and people are dying, you can run faster, carry more and leap building in a single bound like you never thought you could. You'd be amazed how far and fast adrenaline can carry you...like I said before, I'd rather have gear and not need it than need it and not have it.

  20. Great read. I can't say I agree with everything as it is said, but I certainly agree with the point. We have standardized with the AK platform in 7.62, and the Glock platform in 9mm on our large homestead. So, while the players have changed, the tune is the same. Thanks again for the great read.

  21. Good discussion here, but I'm going to stir the pot concerning the Ruger 10/22. I have owned a little bit of everything in .22lr long guns. The 10/22 was a steaming pile of excrement compared to everything else I have had. I lean towards favoring Marlin model 70's for autoloading .22 rifles and I can't honestly say they have never malfunctioned, but it was nothing a thourough cleaning would not cure. Had a Savage 64 in stainless steel that never gave me a lick of trouble, but I traded it off on a levergun, because those are my passion. If you have a 10/22 that has treated you well, thats great, but I fail to see how they have reached a cult status of the end all be all autoloading .22 rifle. If memory serves me right, Max Velocity banned them from his training classes fairly recently because of the regularity that they would malfunction, resulting in halting of the live fire drills to correct them. Not a piece I would trust my survival on. I guess my point is that if you end up with a finicky .22, no matter what brand, ditch it and find something else. Plenty of good choices out there. If I had to pick one .22 out of my collection that had to function absolutely flawlessly because my survival depended on it, I would grab my 39a. The fact that it has NEVER malfunctioned on me easily outweighs any other advantages a detachable mag auto loader .22 might have. If I ever find one that had been as trouble free as my 39a, then I will change my tune

  22. I'd have to say, for those that already have a rifle, stick with what you know. If you can afford more weapons, or haven't bought one yet, I recommend you consider calibers commonly used by either friends or group mates; or calibers used by your erstwhile opponents. If you believe Feds or military are going to be your opponents, and you are successful in defending yourself, you can scavage more ammo from them. Finding 7.62x39 or 5.45x39 in a shot up HMMV or truck is doubtful, but 7.62 NATO or 5.56 NATO is highly likely.

  23. Darn, I'm late to the party on this post. I'll make a longer post when I have time.
    Quickly, the 1in 7 twist for the 5.56x45 round was decided on by the military with the m16a2 because the tracer round that ballistically matched the 62 gr ss109 was too long to be stabilized by the 1in 9 twist. I haven't kept up with the last few years of work on heavy bullets in the 5.56 for long range work. My stock of 5.56 consists of 55 grain that I bought several years ago. BUT, 55gr from a 1in 9 or 1in 7 twist barrel tends to break in to 2 or 3 fragments when entering the body so it has as good or better wounding potential as the old 1 in 12 twist from the vietnam era.

  24. The 5.56 in 55 grain is widely available, so the twist really doesnt matter. I do not have a group, so my friend is my SHTF sidearm. Also, I have a leftie AR, so the bolt...etc...is not interchangable. I shoot and carry my pistol right handed, even though I can shoot it leftie just as well. I grew up shooting right handed weapons left handed. Powder burns, hot shell down the shirt...blah...blah. I would only switch to a rightie if I had nothing else. So there is that consideration as well. Dammit, I am a white, middle-class, middle-age male, I should be able to have a weapon made for me;-)