Tag Archives: If you could only have one gun

“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)

If You Could Only Have 5 Guns

11 Jun

Here’s a silly question I’ve asked myself dozens of times over many years: If I could only own five guns, what would they be?

Many preppers choosing survival guns come up with great answers, which usually go something like this:

1. A defensive handgun, often a Glock 19 or 1911
2. A defensive rifle, often an AR-15, AK-47, or 7.62 mm M1A
3. A 22 LR rifle or pistol, Ruger 10/22 is popular
4. A Shotgun, 870 Remington
5. A 308 or 30-06 hunting rifle, bolt action

That’s a well balanced collection for survival. You could defend yourself and hunt small game and big game. One prepper is simplifying his collection to include only common calibers. This is just so wrong on so many levels! Why should a shooting hobby suffer at the hands of prepping?

The more you’re into shooting sports, the more unbalanced your ultimate 5 gun collection will probably be. What if you shoot 10 meter air rifle? You shoot three-position rifle with a heavy 22 LR. You enjoy hunting upland game with a lightweight 20 gauge side-by-side. You hunt plains game with a 7mm Remington Magnum.

Already four of your choices look like this:

1. Obnoxiously expensive air rifle
2. Obnoxiously heavy 22 target rifle
3. 20 gauge side-by-side shotgun
4. 7mm Remington Magnum bolt action

With only one space left, we’ll add in a basic defensive pistol. From a pure survivalist standpoint, this is kind of a crummy collection. The first two seem totally out of place. The shotgun is a poor choice compared to a 12 gauge pump. The 7mm might have a place in a good survival battery. But isn’t the 308 Winchester more popular? And, if the shooter takes up trap shooting, preferring an over-under shotgun, forget about it. You don’t even have room for a defensive pistol anymore!

Which battery is the better one for survival? Sure, the first. Here’s another question: Which shooter is probably better prepared to survive a situation where shooting is a crucial skill?

I’d venture to guess the shooter with the second collection is better prepared. If you can hit small birds in the air, an intruder at the door won’t have much of a chance against the 20 gauge.

The years and years of practice with the first two guns on the list pretty much assures the average noob with an AR-15 won’t fare too well against the shooter with his 7 mm Magnum which holds only a few shots. Yes, you’d lack firepower against multiple opponents.

Your gun collection should grow organically to suit your unique needs and interests. Don’t eliminate calibers like the 38 Super in place of the common 9mm or get rid of a 257 Roberts just to “simplify” your collection. Don’t let prepping concerns interfere with your shooting hobby!

If you could have only five guns for the rest of your life, what five would you choose?

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

Here’s a good article about “minimalist prepping,” focusing on the key things you need to survive, without cluttering your living room.

Here’s a good post about Dual Flush Toilets, those that use less water when solids aren’t involved.

Here’s a Youtube video I stumbled upon:

Superhumans-Byron Ferguson Ultimate Archer. He has 20/15 eyesight and can shoot an aspirin out of the air.

This is an episode of an interesting reality show, called Top Shot.  People who are great shooters with rifle, pistol, and shotgun can produce an audition video and apply. Win the show and win $100,000. Follow the link to see some of the Top Shot audition videos at the right:


The One-Gun Prepper

30 Jul

Cleaning a bookshelf, I came upon an older book: Totally New 2nd Edition Pistol & Revolver Digest published by DBI. It must be old; the copyright date was listed as MCMLXXIX. A Colt Combat Commander cost $276 back then. I’m sure I bought it new, which makes me feel old.

I flipped to an article I enjoyed reading years ago: “For the One-Gun Man” by Charles A. Skelton. Skelton, a devoted handgunner, chose the 357 magnum revolver. With it he included a portable Lyman 310 reloader and even a bullet mold to be carried afield.

We’re never limited to one gun, but it gets the brain cells turning to think about what gun we’d choose and why. What would a one-gun prepper go with? What are some common choices?

Outdoorsmen who hunt big game and are concerned mainly about wilderness survival might select a big-game bolt action hunting rifle with a scope and a sling. A 30-06 could reliably take any animal in North America. They like the simplicity, reliability, and ruggedness of the bolt action.

Hardcore survivalists, especially the old-timers, might select a 7.62 mm NATO military-style semiautomatic rifle, like the M1-A. These guns are usually fed with detachable 10 or 20 round magazines. Their reasoning is that this is the best caliber for self-defense under WROL battlefield conditions. Plus, in a pinch, it could be used to secure big game. The downside is that these weapons are heavy.

Other preppers, especially younger guys, might feel the need for a defensive rifle, but be satisfied with a 5.56 mm AR-15. Even if the 5.56 mm isn’t ideal for taking big game, they’d say personal defense is the paramount concern. More 5.56 mm ammo can be carried than for the heavier caliber. The AK-47 is another popular choice among rifle-toting preppers.

Some will choose the 22 LR. It’s low in power compared to the weapons above, but ammo is cheap and tiny. A thousand rounds can easily be carried in a backpack. If small game is abundant and big game rare, and hunting a primary concern, the 22 rifle makes a certain sense.

Although it lacks the range of a high-powered rifle, the 12 gauge shotgun might be the most versatile weapon. Many preppers love their Remington 870s or their Mossberg 500s. With rifled slugs, it can be used to secure deer or bear. With birdshot, you can secure small game. With buckshot, a 12 gauge is a formidable close-range self-defense weapon. A major drawback to the shotgun is the bulk and weight of the shotgun shells.

The above weapons are great choices under certain circumstances. They all suffer one limitation: they’re bulky. An urban prepper couldn’t walk down the street with any of these weapons without drawing attention. After many disasters, there isn’t a complete break down of social order. After a hurricane or tornado, a few looters might be present, but so will be police. If you walk down the street with a 7.62 rifle, the police might confiscate it. It’s not that they’re trying to take away your gun rights. They don’t know what you’re up to. They’re enforcing the existing law.

For self-defense and daily carry, a reliable defensive sidearm, like the Glock 19, is a popular choice for urban preppers. It’s unobtrusive. You’re more likely to have it with you when you need it in a self-defense situation. In an urban setting, hunting for food might not be something you could count on anyway, so the pistol’s weakness in the area might not matter. And, if you have a concealed weapon permit, you’re on strong legal ground to carry your gun after common disasters like hurricanes.

For many preppers, one gun isn’t enough. They’d say you need a complete battery, capable of serving many functions. Many could happily get by with a collection of three to five weapons. Going through the thought process of selecting only one weapon forces us to prioritize and evaluate our needs.

If you could only have one firearm, to serve you for the rest of your life, what firearm would you select? What if you could have only two? Only three?

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