“Must Have” Prepper Guns (Part 1: Defensive Weapons)

21 Nov

A common question preppers ask: What are the “must have” prepper guns?

No specific firearm is “must have.” There are always options and alternatives. One prepper can like the Glock 19 for defense, another the Beretta 92, and another the 1911. Somebody will choose the Browning Hi Power. Any of those is a good choice for a defensive sidearm. There are many others.

For defensive shotguns, I like the 870 Remington pump. Others like Mossbergs, Benellis, or Berettas in pump or autoloader. Again, no specific choice is “must have.”

There are a few general categories we should have represented. But even entire categories aren’t always “must have.” Not all preppers feel the need to hunt or are located where hunting is viable. If you don’t hunt, you don’t need firearms for hunting.

Here are some general categories:

1) A defensive pistol. In my opinion, this is as close to a “must have” category as there is. In the vast majority of self-defense or home-defense situations, this is all you’ll ever need.

For maximum firepower, it should be a semiauto. Owning a half dozen or more magazines is a good idea.

2) A defensive rifle. It should be magazine fed and reliable. The FAL, AR-15, MIA, and a semiauto AK-47 are some choices. Some like the Ruger Mini 14.

In a really hard-core, violent without-rule-of-law (WROL) situation, this weapon would be your most useful. If you look at war torn countries without order, you’ll see guys carrying assault rifles. If there’s a riot, a defensive rifle has a lot of firepower to deter rioters. These rifles have more stopping power, firepower, and range than defensive pistols. They can shoot through car doors and can cut through soft body armor.

Some preppers feel a defensive rifle is a “must have.” Things would need to get very bad before you’d need one. Personally, it doesn’t make my “must have” list. It would make my “recommended” list.

3) A defensive shotgun. A defensive shotgun should be a pump action or an autoloader. It could be in 12 gauge or, if recoil is an issue, 20 gauge. The idea is to have a weapon that has good stopping power up close and is more effective than a defensive pistol. Many preppers consider a shotgun to be a “must have.” I’d put it on my “recommended” list.

One advantage to a shotgun is the intimidation factor. If somebody smashes through your door and you point a shotgun at them, they’ll probably chill out immediately, unless they’re on drugs.

The downside to the shotgun is the lack of range. Up close you can expect 00 buckshot to penetrate, maybe, 4″ of pipe boards. But at about 50 yards that’s cut in half. Number 4 buckshot penetrates less. For comparison, that’s about the same as a 25 ACP up close. But, up close, the multiple hits of a shotgun make it extremely deadly.

You can get a magazine extension for your shotgun, which is just a little tube extending the end of the tubular magazine. That’s a good idea.

4) A concealed carry gun. This is a smaller handgun for defense. It’s for day-to-day use when you don’t want to carry a full size pistol, but want to carry something. Some people are OK carrying Glock 19s. For slimmer, smaller folks, larger guns aren’t as easily concealed, especially in light clothing. This weapon can serve as a back up to your main pistol.

Popular choices are the Smith & Wesson J frames in 38 Special, the smaller 9mm Kahr pistols, and the PPK/s in the maligned 380 auto or 9 mm short. I’d say it’s a personal choice whether or not you have one or more smaller handguns. It’s not really an absolute “must have” but, for city preppers, I’d probably make it my second purchase.

5) A target pistol in 22 LR or an accurate air pistol like the Beeman P3. This is a category too often overlooked by preppers. If you can afford to do all your pistol practice with your defensive pistol, that’s great. If you shoot a lot and need to save some coin, pick up a Ruger Mark III or some other 22 LR. If range fees are killing you and you have 10 meters in your basement, get a P3.

The purpose of this category (target pistol) is to save you money in the long run while helping you hone your marksmanship skill. If you’re completely new to shooting, this could well be your best and first purchase.

6) A target rifle. The idea is just like 5). A 22 LR or an air rifle lets you practice for less money. This doesn’t have to be something expensive. A Ruger 10/22 will serve. If you don’t have a place to shoot a 22 LR regularly and cheaply, go with a quality spring piston air rifle.

It’s not just about what you own, but what you can do with them. That’s why I put target weapons on the list as something to consider.

The above firearms comprise a basic battery for self defense. If you have a defensive pistol, a defensive rifle, a shotgun, and a concealed carry pistol, you have your bases covered. Toss in a couple of guns allowing for inexpensive practice.

A few preppers say you should have a “sniper rifle.” This is typically a bolt action rifle with a scope, usually in 308 Winchester. For most preppers, that’s not necessary. If you own an AR-15 or an M1A, by all means, add a scope to it.

If funds are tight, I’d just purchase a defensive pistol and then the shotgun (or maybe an AK-47 instead). You’re good to go. Those would be your only “must have” defensive weapons.


Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning (link to book at Amazon)

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