Overrated Combat Weapons

25 Feb

I feel some weapons are overrated in military combat situations by preppers. A few weapons preppers overate:

1) Submachine guns. SMGs. If you’re a buff of old war movies, it’s always a hero with an Tommy Gun or German SMG holding off the enemy. Why do they even make rifles? Why not give all soldiers SMGs?

SMGs are just so cool. They’re cute. They’re sexy. They’re bad-a**. The problem is they fire pistol calibers, nearly all in the 9mm Parabellum. Against well-armored soldiers, even a 9mm fired from a longer barrel isn’t going to cut through body armor.

Many soldiers don’t even like the 5.56mm NATO because they worry the bullet will hit magazines or so much of the other crap modern soldiers wrap around their body, before even getting to body armor. This is why they like heavier calibers like the 7.62mm NATO or even the 6.8 SPC.

The 45 Tommy Gun is even worse. It’s not fair to say it’s only a super fast rock chucker, but during prohibition, 45 Automatic Tommy Guns regularly failed to penetrate car doors. In the book, I tell the story of an ambush on famous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde to illustrate this. BARs cut through car doors, big slow pistol bullets don’t. On the other hand, they don’t build cars like they used to.

In countries like Israel, where a threat of personal attacks by multiple attackers is a realistic possibility, you see citizens armed with SMGs. It’s not uncommon to see a UZI on a beach or in a car. These are much more personal defensive weapons than hard-core military weapons.

One application where SMGs make sense is guarding prisoners. Prisoners don’t wear body armor. The SMG is a compact weapon with a lot of firepower, against unarmored opponents. The lack of penetration can even be an advantage when you don’t want to injure somebody behind your target.

2) The shotgun. I risk flamming by preppers for saying this! How dare I say a shotgun is overrated?! I’m not talking about personal home defense, against an unarmored attacker. I’m talking about combat where we must assume opponents have protective armor.

The shotgun is even worse than the SMG when it comes to penetration and lack of range. At 60 yards, 00 buckshot has about the penetration of a 25 ACP “mouse gun.”

I know many people have taken deer successfully at this range with buckshot and I know the stories about how awesome fighting shotguns were in the jungle. It doesn’t change the fact that even modest body armor stops buckshot.

For personal defense at home, a shotgun is great. Going off to war, leave the shotgun at home.

3) The handgun. It’s not fair to criticize a pistol for only firing a pistol cartridge, but everything I wrote about SMGs and shotguns applies to most pistols. Pistols are a last ditch weapon in the military.

For preppers, I believe a good defensive pistol is the most important weapon to own. It will serve you well for personal defense. Soldiers in combat never want to rely on a pistol. Not only because of lack of penetration, but handguns are notoriously difficult to shoot well at a distance.

It drives me crazy to watch old episodes of Gunsmoke, where the heroes take out their sixguns and head up the side of a mountain to confront the bad guys, leaving their lever action carbines behind. If you must engage in combat and you know it ahead of time, you want something that’s more shootable than a handgun.

4) The “fighting” knife. Even soldiers and ex-soldiers who should know better spend a lot of money on expensive blades. There’s nothing wrong with liking quality, but realistically, if you must rely on a knife as a last ditch weapon in a war, you might just want to say a quick prayer and ask for forgiveness for anything bad you did. Take a minute to think of your wife or your family. Your life is about to end. Or you’ll be captured.

Knifes are lethal. Even an untrained crazy person with a knife can kill somebody. Something I’ve heard so many times is that within about 21 feet a knife is more lethal than a pistol. I’m not going to go into detail about why I don’t believe that, but will say this: Personal awareness is paramount to self defense because people have surprisingly slow reaction times. Up close, a prepared attacker has the advantage against somebody taken by surprise, regardless of weapon choice.

The same argument that a knife is more effective at 21 feet than a gun applies to the fists of a trained middleweight boxer. Before you can react, he could charge you and knock you out.

5) Throwing knives. The above weapons are serious. An SMG, shotgun, handgun, or knife isn’t the best choice in battle, but they’re effective in many situations. Throwing knifes cross the Rubicon into absurdity. Professional exhibition knife throwers work at fixed distances. Even making a throwing knife stick into a board at a variable distance takes exceptional levels of practice. It’s impressive, not practical.

Conclusion: A prepper armed with a shotgun and a pistol is well prepared to protect his family in nearly all situations. Perhaps, it’s all you’d ever need. But compared to well-equipped soldiers, you’d be badly undergunned.

Charlie Palmer, author
The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

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3 Responses to “Overrated Combat Weapons”

  1. thoughtfullyprepping February 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Oh no, Him again.
    SMG is not a dirty word at all.
    With the Sterling and Uzi 3 I was quite happy in semi auto mode out to 50 yards. Only a fool lets loose on full auto anyway unless you just want to keep someones head down.

    Things change though and the HK MP5 is a SMG as used by multiple law enforcement. Surely you are not suggesting that is an inaccurate bit of kit?
    The modern bullpup design of combat rifles are no bigger than the older SMG’s and far more accurate. I cite the 23 inch Micro Tavor as one heck of an example of such a tool.

    A shotgun is more of an area denial weapon with buck BUT start feeding the MODERN sabot and shotgun slugs through it (especially with a rifled barrel) and it’s punch is devastating. They can happily down deer at 100 yards. Ft.lbs of 600 + Plenty enough to ruin someones day.

    Knives are best used as ambush weapons i.e.draw unexpectedly and strike without warning. Always have been, always will be. Knife dancing is a sure way to get cut. So serious users will have them but only as a face to “face or back” tool.

    Pistols. Research alone proves that a pistol in urban combat is more miss than hit.
    Even the better LEO’s are pretty poor with average recorded hit rates at 20 meters on average <2%.

    My choice (for what it's worth)? Rifled pump shotgun with #4 buck and a handful of slugs.
    As a back up, a MP5 or Micro Tavor (optional suppressor) both in 9 x 19 mm.
    Why 9 x 19 mm? Common a muck!
    I'll go away now.

    • preppernextdoor February 26, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      Great comments.

      “HK MP5 is a SMG as used by multiple law enforcement. Surely you are not suggesting that is an inaccurate bit of kit?”

      Actually, yes, if the opponents have good armor. Most people faced by law enforcement don’t have body armor. If I were facing attackers and had body armor, I’d be much happier for them to have HK SMGS than G3s. As preppers most of us will never face opponents with body armor, but the premise of that part of the post is that we’re up against the best equipped opponents possible, which means heavily armored.

      HK SMGs. These things are way too expensive for what they offer. So take that SMGs! I secretly suspect the reason many LE like MP5s is they’re fun to shoot. Plus, who doesn’t want to play Bruce Willis? For the money, go with a shotgun. Need range, go with an AR.

      “BUT start feeding the MODERN sabot and shotgun slugs through it…”

      Absolutely correct in your observation. Slugs are much more effective and in many areas here are required for deer hunting and work exceptionally well. BUT look at it from this perspective: Once loaded with slugs, what is a shotgun really? A 7 shot pump kinda rifle with a heck of a lot of recoil and a pretty limited range relative to a real rifle. All the reason for wanting a shotgun (multiple hits on target at the same time) vanishes.

      • thoughtfullyprepping February 26, 2014 at 9:42 am #

        You’ve shot an MP5? At 25 yards I kept within a one inch group keyholing a 15 round magazine. I wasn’t alone either. Even the two girls on the range came off the firing point smiling at how tame it was compared to the Sterling!
        Shotguns for survival aren’t ideal and I won’t knock a simple 22lr for most tasks including people in an urban setting because of it’s low recoil and good accuracy YET the shotgun is multifunctional plus it’s got one HUGE advantage. The sound the double crunch of loading makes. Funny how that noise is a really good cure for constipation.

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