Best Guns For Long Term Survival (& A Revolution Firefight)

7 Oct

Several prepper blogs wrote good posts about what they’d choose for their favorite guns for long-term survival.

Those sites pretty much sum up what I’d choose. Let me preface by saying that I’m not a hardcore survivalist. I’m not a Rawlesian survivalist who believes we should move 300 miles away from population centers to prepare for a long-term break down of society that will last for many years. I’m much more focused upon short-term disruptions to life.

Given this, my first choice for a weapon would be a defensive handgun. Many preppers said they like 38 revolvers. I can agree with that. The gun I usually keep at home for defense is a S&W model 66 loaded with 38 special 125 grain JHP +P ammo. I believe under high-stress situations, we’re less likely to accidentally “touch off” a round with a revolver. The long trigger pull of a revolver gives it a lot of safety.

But if I could only have one handgun for a long-term survival situation, I’d probably go with an autoloader for one reason: I know how to fix them. With a few extra parts, a good automatic pistol can be maintained for a person’s entire lifetime, even if subjected to abuse and hard use. In addition to ruggedness as emphasized by, I want a serviceable weapon. In a really adverse situation, with several extra magazines, an autoloader has more firepower.

Given what I actually own, I’d choose a 1911A1 I have. In retrospect, I had several others that I liked better that I got rid of over the years. The crummy one I have has a rear sight that was rounded down to an extreme level. I’m not a big fan of carrying a single action pistol “cocked and locked” and would recommend a reliable double-action automatic pistol to most preppers or a Glock. Mine’s in 45 ACP, but I’d be fully content with a 9mm.

The next common choice is an 870 pump shotgun in 12 gauge. It’s true, at close distances, these are very versatile. With rifled slugs, you can hunt deer or bear. With buckshot they’re great for close-range defense. And, you can hunt small game with birdshot. As said, the 20 gauge is a go-to caliber on a homestead, as is the 410 shotgun. Why beat yourself up with a 12 gauge if you don’t really need to?

As said, if money were a factor, I’d avoid the expensive defensive rifles, like the AR-15, FAL, Springfield Armory M1A, etc. When prepping we must budget our purchases.

A good post on expressed this really well, saying that if he felt he needed a defensive-combat rifle to protect his family, he’d own one. Where we put our money says a lot about our personal priorities.

Only under extreme rioting would I feel poorly armed without a defensive rifle. What about long-term WROL? Honestly, I’m not sure it would matter. Here’s why: If we look at countries that have long-term disorder, warlords arise who, even in small countries, have thousands of men. If a true long-term break down of social order happens in the U.S., warlords and gangs with several thousand men would exist. How much chance would two or three united prepper families have against those?

Look at it this way, take any two or three well-armed prepper families and drop them down somewhere in Somalia. How long do you think they’d survive? You can run, you can hide, but trying to hold a retreat wouldn’t be an option.

If there were a short- or intermediate- term break down of law and order, we’d have a much better chance of defending ourselves against the hastily-organized, small gangs. This is where an AR-15 would shine. I’d like it over a shotgun because it has less recoil, more firepower, and a greater range.

Exhibition shooter John Satterwhite once said in an interview in Soldier of Fortune Magazine something akin to that as much as he liked shotguns, he wouldn’t always choose it as his weapon: What happens if somebody starts shooting at you from 400 yards away? If all you have is a shotgun with buckshot, you’ll feel rather foolish. Besides, it’s fun being able to shoot a pop-can-sized target at 200 yards out.

For hunting, I agree with the consensus too: Have a 22 LR and a 12 gauge shotgun (or a 20 gauge) and, if big game lives in your area, a bolt action rifle in 30-06 or 308 Winchester.

Watched another episode of Revolution. Found the firefight amusing. The militia blasts away with muskets, clearly in range to do some harm. Then one solo guy takes a bolt action sniper rifle to the roof and holds them all back. All fifty or so, from about the same distance. I think their militia needed better training. They send one guy straight into the fire at a time. It’s like those karate movies where one villain after another keeps attacking the hero one at a time. Maybe this would all work if the guy were 400 yards away, nullifying the muskets, but with fifty or so people shooting at you within their range, you’re going down. Lancaster’s Law would certainly apply.

Black powder is miserable stuff compared to modern smokeless gunpowder. If we needed to revert, maybe it would be time to select a good old 45-70 rifle. Casting bullets from lead would be easy. Stock up on primers or figure out how to make them. I don’t think things would ever get that bad.

Charlie P., author The Prepper Next Door

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