We have this post from The Survival Blog which asks the eternal question: Best SHTF Gun? I greatly respect this blog and the writer of this post. I do, however, differ with him on his premises in this question. What are your thoughts?
September 24, 2009
Best SHTF Gun
The issue of the best SHTF gun has been worked top to bottom, bottom to top and side to side and back again, it is nothing new.
Some will say a .22 rifle or shotgun, others will suggest an AR-15 or some other center-fire magazine fed rifle and a few will tell you a bolt action is the most logical choice.
While they aren't wrong – at least under certain circumstances, they fail to see the big picture or fail to realize what really happens after a collapse.
It would seem many survivalists have been influenced by Hollywood or writers of fiction and can't separate reality from illusion. Leave make-believe to armchair commandos and teenage boys.
* You won't be engaging constant combat.
* Those wanting to do you harm will not announce the fact.
* Anyone wanting to rob or steal from you will attack when you're most vulnerable.
* If you're attacked it will be up close, quick and violent.
After a collapse, violent crime will increase to levels never thought possible, theft, robbery, kidnappings and home invasion will be the norm. You'll need to be armed at all times. Not following this rule will almost guarantee that you will be abused, robbed, raped, tortured and killed at some point.
Keeping a rifle or shotgun on your person at all times is impossible. Working the garden, feeding the chickens, cutting firewood, setting traps etc. And don't forget barter markets where going armed will likely be forbidden. Criminals will know this and will wait to attack when you leave the market area.
It's been said before; the first rule of winning a fight is to have a gun, in this regard a handgun makes the most sense. I know many of you look to be attacked from a distance, you see yourself returning fire from 300 or more yards away.
It could happen - but it's not likely. In war yes; but not in a SHTF situation – most survivalists confuse the two. You're more likely to need to defend yourself at arms length than from a distance of several hundred yards, if you're attacked it will be fast, brutal and in your face closeup.
In a recent study it was found that 90% of police and civilian self-defense shooting occurred at ranges of less than 15 feet. With 34% being from contact to 3 feet.
I can't find one justifiable civilian self-defense shooting taking place at 100 yards or beyond - if you know of a documented case please let us know.
Like any firearm, handguns are encumbered by a number of limitations; namely low power and limited range compared to a rifle or shotgun - but a handgun can be there when you need it and that is most important...
An interesting question that seeks a single, simple answer to to an almost unlimited universe of possibilities.
For example, why would barter zones be disarmament zones? They will be what the consumers demand in terms of rules. You want me to come and trade my horses for your salt? Fine, I stay armed. No? Then you bring your salt to my AO. Here are the rules for approach. Wait, Auntie Entity doesn't get a cut of that for providing the trading space? Too flipping bad. Should let me come armed.
Cops won't let you walk around with long guns? And who feeds them? Do they till the earth, raise the crops? If its like almost every small town I know, Charlie will come into town with his oldest sons and buddies as a security force escorting the wagon of consumables to trade (but always with enough left at the homestead to defend). Deputy Doug, who's known Charlie all his life will just wave as they come in past the roadblock, armed to the teeth. Dangerous times call for different measures. Human relationships will adjust to the new normal. And the new normal will be everybody other than small children will be armed. I concur with the fellow above who noted: frontiersmen vs. Indians = long guns. Farmers vs. guerrillas = long guns. The other thing is that the situation that develops will require a Minuteman/quick reaction force for raiders. Individuals will be less likely to survive than communities, or more likely, several communities linked by trade, family ties and mutual defense pacts. The station system of the Tennessee Cumberland River folks still almost collapsed under opportunistic Indian raids until the stations banded together, went to the source of the enemy raiding parties and killed every warrior they could find and burned it to the ground. This was against both Federal and State diktat. Still it happened because it had to be done. Americans, being practical people, will make their own arrangements if governments fail.
Thus the premises of your search for the perfect weapon are, at least in part, flawed. You have no way of knowing what conditions might obtain, and how those conditions will influence either the worm's eye level of local politics or the local tactical aspects of public safety. Neither do I, but in the aftermath of collapse -- however you define it and from whatever source -- the immediate survivors are unlikely to be sheep willing to obey the first cop's (or local bully boy's) BS rules.
Sometimes, events have a way of evening things out. Take for example the Cumberland stations. As homesteads incurred casualties, the per capita of firearms available to the survivors increased. This became a factor in their survival when attacked in their stations, for the surplus weapons could be loaded and held at ready (and reloaded by womenfolk and children) providing a constant base of fire that the marauding Indians could not match. And no male, adult or teen, went around without a long gun. Handguns were rare, eschewed in favor of the hunting knife and tomahawk for close in fighting.
See Seedtime on the Cumberland by Harriette Simpson Arnow.
Now, I am not saying we should all go out and buy tomahawks (although there ARE worse purchases). What I am saying is that it is impossible to cope with all contingencies by limiting your choices.
And I am also betting that unlike the folks on the Cumberland, we will not be particularly awed by the diktats of a government that got us in this situation in the first place. We will make our own arrangements. But for those times when we are out of sight of our own "stations" or the reinforced walls of our newly-fortified towns and villages, carrying a long gun will be assumed and as natural as carrying it to our tasks outside the defensive perimeters of our new lives as picking up our car keys and cell phone today. As natural, indeed, as it was to the men of the Founders' generation on the frontier.
And there's this, which didn't make my reply. One of my favorite passages from Seedtime on the Cumberland, in the chapter, "The Shirttail Men":
The men who hunted the elk and the buffalo disappeared with less dramatic suddenness, but more completely than did the animals they hunted. They were the last of their generations, for the hunters who went west of the Mississippi were hunters, not the many-handed men who hunted, farmed, and fought the Revolution. Many of the men mentioned as hunters were were officers during the Revolution and later in the Indian warfare of Tennessee as were John Montgomery, John Rains, Isaac Bledsoe, and Kaspar Manskar. Most were good officer material; the letters of many have been perserved; some spelled phonetically, revealing that their speech resembled the now almost extinct speech of the hills, filled with gits and whars.
Still, the ability to keep even a properly spelled muster roll was only a fraction of what on officer on the borders had to have. It took quite a man to persuade other men to leave their families, not to mention crops, and risk their lives on some battle front hundreds of miles away, and with no promise of pay, glory, or even food for themselves or the horses they furnished. "In the old frontier wars, every man turned out at the drop of the hat and each man was his own paymaster, forage master and commissary." If he got killed there was no pension for his widow and children, not for a long time. A man who could lead men under such circumstances had to have all the woodcraft, courage and endurance of the Long Hunter, plus something one might call personality.
Yet, somehow they did it, and like George Rogers Clark got little for their pains. The long-hunting-soldier-farmer-borderer was an unloved figure; Washington praised his skill with the long rifle, but found him difficult. He was, and he didn't mind fighting but hated soldiering, and had an innate distaste for drills, standing armies, and all other aspects of the military life. New Yorkers and New Englanders found him uncouth and even silly with his long shirt and "rifle barreled firelock," though even Boston made him welcome as long as he was needed. The British also hated the borderers for they found the "shirt-tail men, with their cursed twisted guns, the most fatal widow-and-orphan-makers in the world."
They were; they hated war. Fighting was a business they would be done with, and the only way they knew to end it was to kill as many men as possible. They could then return to the real sruggle for more and better land on which to raise their families and get ahead in the world. Their many-handedness was typical of the times when a man had to be a world within himself: make a poem; sing a song; mend a gun; preach a sermon; shoot buffalo, Indians, British; make a mocassin or a boat; teach school; but always able to live in the woods if need be. The old west could not have been settled and won without such men. Still the physical characteristics of the Long Hunter's way of life, were, in a sense, the least of him. It wasn't so much that he was completely master of a hard world and hence fearless, but rather it was his ability to believe in himself and the world around him. Seneca snakeroot may never have cured a single case of snake bite, but a man with faith and a bit of dried Seneca was never afraid to sleep in rattlesnake country. His faith did not stop at Seneca snakeroot, but went on, encompassing himself and other men around him. (pp. 170-171)
Couple of axioms:
1 - Pistols are for surprises; if you know there's a problem, bring your rifle.
2 - A good 'hawk in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Ok, number two isn't necessarily an axiom, but it oughta be!
The lessons of the past in the use of the 'hawk hasn't been lost on all of us....just ask Charlie Quintard. -wink-
"The station system of the Tennessee Cumberland River folks still almost collapsed under opportunistic Indian raids until the stations banded together, went to the source of the enemy raiding parties and killed every warrior they could find and burned it to the ground."
Reminds me somewhat of my family story.
On September 23, 1711, my 6X grandfather, his wife, and five of his six children were killed by the Tuscarora Indians at Core Creek, NC, and I have found the place where it occurred. This branch of my forefathers came over in 1709 with the Swiss-Palatines who founded New Bern in 1710.
The Indians went on the killing spree after continual encroachment upon their lands that moved up the river from New Bern. The slaughter occurred over a period of three days, and about 200 settlers were killed. The massacre was a Day of Remembrance in NC for over 100 years, and reports state that the women were killed by having saplings forced into their vaginas.
The Tuscarora were almost wiped out later as a result.
There is a comment on the Marlineowners.com forum sticky thread about the 30-30 getting respect.
This man says that he lives in an area with grizzly activity and that he always carries a 30-30 when doing any work away from the house.
On one occassion he rounded a bend and locked eyes with a grizzly that was a mere 40 feet away. The grizzly charged and he had time for 1 shot. He lived and grizzly died.
So if there is a serious breakdown of order I'll be carrying a rifle.
A lot of people in the south (outside of cities) are armed practically all the time anyway whether they have a carry permit or not.
Speaking of 30-30 leverguns... I'm fighting the urge to buy one... can't stop.... must not buy.... will have to buy all new set of dies..... shit.... resistence is futile. you will be assimilated.
Having never "seen the elephant" (combat) up close and personal, my theories on the "best" gun remain just that, theories. One thing I do know though. Tactical quantity has a quality all it's own. Non technology based security to an extent will always depend on manpower. Choose your friends wisely.
"...cursed twisted guns.", eh? Is that a reference to rifling?
Reading what your thoughts are, oh wide one, are as breathing the clear mountain air, all day. Mighty little can be added. I promote the .45 ACP, but of course, my choice alone. What is yours?
Wow, excellent post!
Regarding SHTF guns, I have several. My regular revolvers and .45-70 longrifles are excellent for hunting, and regular self defense, but when it comes to SHTF and emergency guns, my choices are hardly tactical or fancy.
I keep my full-power, full-frame revolvers in my study desk all the time, but my ideal weapon for defense if caught off guard is probably the derringer. Short, compact, and powerful at CQ range. During the summer when I had some time off of work I built a couple of traditional twin-barreled derringers of the Mississippi riverboat-era style. I am a serious fan of cowboy era weapons and I was still surprised by the ease of a derringer's handling, and ease which it can be deployed, even when you are under attack by a much stronger opponent. Because I am not going to always be in my study room near my revolvers and my rifle, it is a really secure feeling that you have protection nearby at all times. My neighborhood was once very rural-feeling, very peaceful atmosphere, but it seems like drugs and gangs are starting to move in. There has been gang fights lately right on my street and more than once I have smelled marijuana in the lobby of my building when I come home late from work. It is a matter of time before the usual crimes associated with drug use begins to be committed against residents living in this area, so it is best to stay on the safe side.
In my personal opinion, an SHTF gun must be different from a regular combat gun in a way which it must be small, discreet, concealable, and easily deployable, because an attack can come out of nowhere, at blinding speeds.
The best SHTF gun?
With the technology available to us today, there is no reason to restrict oneself to a single weapon. A collapse from the world we know will produce a much different chaos than a collapse in the 17th Century.
I'd want a small arsenal:
A .44 magnum handgun for personal defense, probably a Ruger
A .44 magnum rifle for hunting to simplify ammunition
A .22 LR pack gun (like the Henry AR-7)
A TC Hawken flintlock rifle just in case the crisis lasts long enough I have to make powder and ammo from scratch
I think you are both correct. A convenient, carry everywhere handgun will be critical and a long-range, reach-out-and-touch rifle will be necessary. Foraging and necessary perimeter defenses will require that long weapon.
As noted law will crumble and violence will be swift and up close. For home defense, I might expand to the trilogy and add that tactical shot gun.
No single gun will do it. Add into the equation the high probability that arms and ammo will become an incredibly valuable medium of commerce.
I posted at survivalistblog;
I think this thread should have been named the "Best SHTF Gun" for YOU.
Everyone requirements and situation is different.
I am a Vermont resident. I can have any commercially available weapon I want and I carry a Sig 220 handgun almost everywhere.
Now, my wife has a house in NYS, which has draconian handgun laws and the "assault gun ban" style laws for rifles. We have been trying to sell her house for a year now with no luck. The best I can do this side of the border is a legal pre-ban Colt H-Bar with Vietnam era 20rd'ers at 23 bucks apiece. Unless thing go totally wacked and I get a battlefield pickup pistol, I will have to work with what I have and adapt tactics like overwatch, (using two people to do tasks for security) and banding together with others you can trust to get through. I am lucky that my high school buddies are still local to my wife's location, and are all ex service or outlaw biker types, all of which hunt and hunt and hunt. We all have our long arms and know how to use them.
I guess what I was trying to say is if you live in a place that you cannot leave, do the best you can with what you have is the best you can do...
However, If I could only carry or afford one firearm, It would be a magazine fed rifle. Vertical butt stroke to the head will give me room to work if my problem is up close and personnel.
Quoted: "I can't find one justifiable civilian self-defense shooting taking place at 100 yards or beyond - if you know of a documented case please let us know."
Waco, Ruby Ridge... this is what I could come up with on short notice.
III 4 life.
Too many situations, each with their own one ideal gun. That said, here goes. . . .
If we go with the original blog's scenario, for everyday carry, I'll take a sawed-off (about 12"?) 12 guage, semi-auto, carried in a holster, like a pistol. Short, easy to handle, but can use two hands for steadiness & accuricy, variety of ammo types available, deadly at short-to-medium ranges.
Mike, if we go with your scenario, I'd take an M16/AR15 clone in .308. Full/semi-auto selectable if I can get it. Popular ammo. Long enough range, plenty enough stopping/knockdown power, accuracy to spare (at least for these old glasses-wearing eyes). Easy enough to carry, enough spares & spare parts available in case something breaks.
Pistol? Anything north of a 9mm.
And a Ruger 10/22 would be welcome in any situation, for small varments (2- or 4-legged).
PS - Curiosity question - Does anyone make a 1911-style .45, but made for a double-stack magazine for extra ammo capacity above the usual 8+1? Thanks.
My nickel's worth (inflation)
K31 Swiss? Check.
Pump and Semi 12-Ga? Check.
.40 pistol and matching KT Carbine? Check.
AR? SKS? AK? Check, Check, Check.
Pocket pistols? Check.
Mil-grade 9MM? Check.
.22 bolt, lever, semi? Check, Check, Check.
Marlin Camp .45 and matching 1911? Check.
Others too numerous to mention? Check, Check, Check, Check...
Plenty of mags and ammo? Duh.
Best SHTF Gun? ALL OF THEM.
Oh, and for B Woodman I offer the following:
"PS - Curiosity question - Does anyone make a 1911-style .45, but made for a double-stack magazine for extra ammo capacity above the usual 8+1? Thanks."
Woodman, where have you been for the last quarter-century?
Para Ordnance, Kimber, STI and others make double-stack 1911s. Para got its start in the mid 80s selling high-capacity frames.
Best SHTF firearm?
I'll preface by agreeing that a pistol/revolver will be one of your most important defense tools post SHTF. For that matter, they are pretty darn valuable right now...
Let me back up a step and suggesting that the best 'tool' post any type of SHTF is your noggin. A calm, deliberate use of your gray and white matter will suggest how to operate, including the appropriate firearm for defense, hunting, etc.
Such is my excuse for a 'collection'. As well, I carry something to suit the 'occasion' most all the time. Yes, there is one within reach or on my person at all times since I can't predict the moment when I would need it. That will be the case even moreso post SHTF. What about places that legally don't allow firearms? Same decision each of us will have to make regarding government diktats post SHTF. An individual choice of weighing benefit and risk, period.
There simply isn't a single best SHTF firearm. There can't be given the infinite variety of scenarios we might be faced with. It is a situation driven decision that at best might be boiled down to the biggest, most reliable stick of iron one can muster effectively... Sure there are occasions that will dictate little stuff, but that's precisely the point. A situation driven personal choice.
B Woodman. Take a look at Para Ordinance. You can get 14+1 in .45 16+1 in .40 and 18+1 in 9mm.
As for me, I refuse to be saddled with the 'one gun solution'. I've been a peace officer for a long time so yeah, the surprise confrontations, they do tend to come on quick and near. A pistol in a secure, easily and immediately accessable holster with a scatter gun or rifle nearby is pretty much ideal. I think it was Clint Smith who said a pistol is only a tool to fight your way to a real weapon. That's true but I'm always more comfortable when I have one physically attached to my person and not lying nearby. I can think of scenarios where 5 feet could seem like a very long way away.
Check out Para USA
..And in case some of you can't get a hold of some reloading or summat, may I suggest
David used one; I'm sure, with practice, you can too.
Never, ever forget the 'primitive' weapons for daily use around your AO. Know them, use them, live them.
If one piece of serious reloading equipment fails, and the replacement is 3 weeks away, this may very well save your hide.
"Deputy Doug, who's known Charlie all his life will just wave as they come in past the roadblock, armed to the teeth."
Anyone putting a metal detector on a trade route is the enemy of liberty. The police checkpoints do not work in our interests today in the airports and malls, and they won't work in our interests at the future town gates. The walled city (Soviet iron curtain, American Southern border fence, etc.) is built that way at least as much for enforcement of its medieval political structure, than for defense against external armies. What is the first thing a walled city demands of you? 'We have police for you, leave your weapons outside'. Freedom comes from removing the checkpoints.
"For example, why would barter zones be disarmament zones? They will be what the consumers demand in terms of rules."
Your local mall is a disarmament zone today, and it will be so in the future. The rules will be whatever lies the public schools and media have been trained to believe, and ask for by name.
"Cops won't let you walk around with long guns? And who feeds them?"
You feed their bellies with your taxes, and you feed their authority with your votes. You cherish them because it makes you feel safe to believe you have them in your corner. But George Washington was wrong. Government is never a servant, no matter what size it is.
Any double stacks that are closer to $500, and don't use $50 magazines?
"And don't forget barter markets where going armed will likely be forbidden."
For crying out loud! The author lost all credability with me as soon as I read those words. Just who in Hades is going to try to enforce a "no guns!" policy anywhere in a post-SHTF society? Any goody-two-shoes who tries will last all of about one hot second.
Envisioning the collapse of industrial society, what one firearm is best suited for fighting and foraging, possesses adequate power without being intimidating to the uninitiated, is able to be repaired by any village blacksmith, is capable of shrugging off abuse by the elements and neglect by the owner, operable without adequate lubrication, can be easily field-stripped by any reasonably competent family member, is easily affordable and almost universally available?
The answer is in the question: a Kalashnikov rifle chambered for the 7.62X39 cartridge, AKA the .30 Russian short.
I recommend a Yugoslavian underfolder. Get yours before the hoarders do.
Double stack would be the Springfield XD-45 Tactical model full size which you can pickup closer to $500. It holds 13 + 1.
I have one. It is a great gun and I have had every other type of .45 including Glock, Colt and Para. The XD to me is a safe and reliable gun that will take a severe beating and keep going. You can feed it anything which is not the case with the tight tolerances on the Colt guns. There are exceptions but the XD is a junk yard dog in the sense that it will eat anything.
It has the comb safety and trigger safety as well as indicators for when a round is in the tube as well as an indicator for when it is cocked and ready to go.
If you buy one shoot it of awhile and then put a trigger in from Springer Precision and watch your groups improve even more.
To become comfortable with, it shoot some USPSA/IPSC or IDPA matches with it. Nothing else will make practical shooting skills easier to obtain then a few matches.
Check gunbroker.com to get a sense of pricing. If you want to buy one at a store Outdoor World usually has good prices on these versus the gun stores. Prices are closer to 640 these days where as gunbroker.com might have them for 500 but you will pay a local ffl fee for the transfer...
I agree with malthus. My weapons are strictly centered around reliability. AK, Mossberg pump shotgun, a glock in .45 for me and a 9mm glock for the wife. cant go wrong. A long range rifle and ruger 10/22 are next.
Yes, it is a reference to rifling :)
The weapon of choice for these frontier militiamen during the Revolutionary War was the Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Schuetzen longrifles, each of them accurate out to over 500 yards with iron sights. (The British were truly lucky that the colonial sharpshooters did not consider attaching one of Galileo's inventions onto a rifle, yet)
The "shirttail men" was the name used by the Redcoats and their Tory sympathizers to refer to the "over-the-mountain men" of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah valley. By the time the Revolutionary War began, these over-the-mountain men were Appalachian farmers with already a proud century of tradition and self reliance. At first, they did not actively participate in the Revolution, but later did, due to a certain Tory Green officer named Colonel "Bloody Ban" Tarleton.
Now Tarleton is the kind of person that one would call scumbag or douchebag, because of what he liked to do to captured Patriot prisoners and their families. Nevertheless, he had invoked the rage of the previously isolated mountain folk, who began to join the war on the Patriot side by the thousands.
Now, the rules of war for the over-the-mountain men were simple: Start off with the commanders on horseback, then work your way down to the officers, and finally, to the soldiers. If there are artillery in the enemy column, shoot down the gunners, then, detonate the caissons by shooting at the metal hinges on the wagons to create blasts of sparks.
The British regulars and the Greens had no idea what had hit them. During the Battle of Cowpens, the Greens lost over 80 percent of their entire force, all due to sniper fire. Cornwallis' field artillery was gradually silenced as the battle progressed, the dead gunners heaped around their weapons like haystacks.
The frontier war was the campaign that the Redcoats lost miserably, despite the atrocities committed against settler by their native allies. Sharpshooting is the national sport of the Appalachia, and still is, and always will be. Those who are foolish enough to attempt an invasion finds out the hard way.
I think the point of the original article was that the best "SHTF gun" is the one you have with you when you need it.
Carrying a rifle around everywhere you go is a pain in the ass, especially if you're trying to get some work done. Humans have a tendency to get lazy and cut corners when things become inconvenient, so if you have a handgun, which is more convenient to carry, you are more likely to at least have a gun when you need it.
I think we can all agree that carrying any gun of any caliber of any size or color is better than not having any gun at all.
"Just who in Hades is going to try to enforce a "no guns!" policy anywhere in a post-SHTF society?"
The same people who today enforce 'no guns in the mall/car/street/school/post office'. It is most likely there will be continuity of political leadership, although the officeholders might be replaced in a completely cosmetic change. And if there is not continuity of political leadership, the historical record says the next stage after 'fiscal collapse of empire' is 'dictatorship'.
Why do you believe the next stage is 'return to conservative Christian manifest destiny Westward expansion' type politics? I understand that you want it. But, dispassionately, why do you think you will get it? Electoral politics didn't get you what you want now, and it won't work any better in a few years.
For Anonymous- Para Ordinace makes a 1911 double stack- The P14 in 45cal
The article's author took care to say "SHTF," not "TEOTWAWKI." Too many people are fixated on "Omega Man" scenarios. But in reality, you don't wake up one day and find that you can carry your M1A around the city with no repercussion.
"SHTF" scenarios tend to be temporary (Rodney King riots, Katrina), with a return to government and relative normality soon enough. Even more likely is a gradual decay in society, and increased crime. You won't be able to carry your AK47 to work just because crime is up. Things can get very bad AND at the same time you have to be discreet about weaponry.
I thank God, I don't have to pick just one.
Pistol/Revolver is a given, no thought required...
Rifle, for the long haul, I would have to go with a Garand. You can cast bullets for it, it's very durable, 30-06 allows a lot of different weights, you can get a open ended gas plug, and run it like a bolt gun with 220gr bullets for hunting large game, and with standard CMP surplus, you can use it well for self defense. I don't the lack of glass it all that bad in a survival situation... I think 30-06 is much more versatile then 308
I have a well setup M1A with glass, that I really like, and is very capable, but the one rifle, if I could only have one, would be the M1
The best air rifle for shooter guns had barrels with a twisted polygonal bore. The Whit worth rifle was the first such type designed to spin the round for accuracy.
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