Monday, June 29, 2009

Prepare: Top 10 SHTF Guns

There have been a number of posts like this elsewhere, but most have some high degree of technical bias which precludes them to choosing the best firearms for the post-shtf world.

Here is the real SHTF world..

- there are no Wally Worlds, gunshops or pawn shops open.
- your neighbor is not a gunsmith, Class 3 dealer or gunstore owner.
- you do not have unlimted funds to build the ultimate armory.
- you do not have access to an abandoned Army or National Guard base.
- you are not guaranteed to win every gun battle and discover caches of mouth watering hardware waiting to be plundered.

Nope, in the SHTF world its you, one or two firearms and a limited amount of ammo you must either resupply or reload.

That in mind, here are my choices for the ultimate SHTF guns, from best to worse.

Number one - Single barrel 12 gauge shotgun.

Simple, easy to operate, hard to break. Will shoot anything. Basically, a tube, stock (optional, but preferable), a hammer and trigger. You can load slugs, buckshot, bird shot, whatever. You can reload the shells and in a pinch, put anything in the hulls that will fit - glass, scrap metal, pebbles, etc. One moving part besides the hinge to break it open. Its the caveman club of the gun world.

Number two - The double barrel 12 gauge shotgun.

As above, times two.

Number three - The .22 single shot

Same concept as the shotgun, but available in the bolt action variety. With few moving parts and a cheap, low weight ammo, the .22 single shot is enough of a gun to keep one in squirrel meet and to keep busy bodies far enough away.

Number four - The bolt action center fire rifle

Best calibers, 30.06, .308. The .270 and .243 way down the list. Simple to operate, and reloading can be done with a simple press. Best range and stopping power. The only reason it is not ahead of the .22 is because the ammo and rifle cost more.

Number five - The single action revolver

Easy to operate and hard to break. The single action revolver makes up for slow firing with a simple mechanism which in adverse conditions, will leave the semi auto owners stuck in the mud. Only the most popular calibers need apply - .38, .357 and .45

"Do you really have enough food stocked when the SHTF?"

Number six - The 12 gauge pump

Whether it is the Remington 870, the Mossberg 500 or the even the Winchester Defender, the 12 gauge pump is versatile, hearty and respected. It can fire slugs, shot or bird and works where others don't. Plus the *rack* action is enough to send midnight callers the other direction pronto.

Number seven - the combo rifle

.22/410, 30-30/shotgun, what ever. The combo gun has two calibers on the same platform making it the perfect hunting/defense weapon in most situations. On the move and can't lug along an arsenal? Have two weapons in one with the combo rifle. SPR94, Savage24 and others are available in a variety of options.

Number eight - the lever action rifle

I would pick the .357 because it will work in my revolver, but 30-30 is popular. Why a lever gun? Fewer moving parts, no external magazine required, easy to load, decent range and accuracy.

Number nine - The standard double action revolver

.357 or .38 for me, but .45 is doable too. Few moving parts, good selection of brands available, low cost and high availability of ammunition. Less chance of jams over a semi auto as well.

Number ten - The .22 semi auto tube load only.

Why? There is no magazine, the tube is built into the rifle. As much as I hate to load these things (cannot be done quickly), they carry a decent amount of semi auto fire to pour rounds on a target. No, not much stopping power, but that is allowable because of the low weight and cost of ammunition. Plus can be used for hunting, short and distance.

OK. So why no AR, AK, Colt, etc?

First, the mechanisms can jam or break and most of us cannot fix one with basic tools or in low light.

Second, all require an extra piece of hardware - the spring fed magazine. Springs fail, magazine gets dented or lost and you have a single shot weapon which is a pain to load.

Third, too many of these semi rifles will not stand up to years or firing, dirt, wear and tear (well maybe an AK) that will come when carrying and shooting are the same as hammering, cutting and sawing in so far as tools go. I would no sooner depend upon a weedwacker, gas powered chain saw or skill saw after the SHTF than I would a firearm with multiple moving parts.

Well, what about the 30.06 M1 favored by so many other writers with the same, "less is more" philosophy? One word (or two) - en bloc, en bloc. That funky thing is not available at the hardware store or anywhere else. Same with stripper clips.

Sure, in a long, running gun battle, a single shot shotgun won't cut it. But in the real world of post-SHTF survival, it is going to be a place of keeping a low profile and avoiding large scale gun battles if one wants to stay alive.

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food


Bitmap said...

Something to think about: Tube magazines (especially on .22s) are pretty easy to damage. The springs in them break, too, just like all springs. Some have a spring loaded catch to hold them in the rifle and that can fail. Tube mags have some advantages and some disadvantages. Centerfire leverguns and pump shotguns with tube mags have the advantage that you can shoot one and load one which you can't do with any rimfire tube mag that I'm aware of. The rimfire .22s with tube mags in the buttstock like the Nylon 66 and the Browning .22 have the advantage that the tube is better protected.

You forgot to mention interchangeable barrel single shot rifles like the T/C Contender and Encore and the NEF. They are simple and rugged and give you more versatililty. Many of the older H&R frames that were intended for use as shotguns are made of softer steel and not up to high pressure rifle rounds so if you want to swap to a rifle barrel you have to be more selective in what you buy.

I think you underestimate the ruggedness and long term reliability of quality military pattern rifles. If you take the average bolt action sporting rifle from Walmart and a decent AR/AK/M1A etc. and start loading and shooting them you will probably break the sporting rifle long before anything breaks on the military style rifle. You have to be careful about stuff from Century because they frequently market junk, but I'm talking about decent name brand stuff. The bolt guns that are made for deer hunting are not designed for long term use because most hunters won't put 1000 rounds through one in 30 years, while people put more than 1000 rounds through ARs in a week at typical defensive firearms classes. Another thing about ARs and most other military rifles is that they are easy to work on and parts are easily available so you can stock up on them now. A couple of LPKs, a spare BCG, a few other spare parts and a few simple tools and you can fix almost anything that is likely to break on an AR. Mags are cheap so stock up. The biggest problem with semiautos is if you don't have good discipline you will run out of ammo long before you break the firearm.

On SA revolvers I would limit that to Ruger revolvers. The various copies of the original Colt SAA all have the same problems the originals had which is that they are fragile compared to the Rugers.

As far as the reliability of revolvers vs. semiauto handguns, I've dropped a double action revolver in the sand and had it completely tied up where it had to be stripped and cleaned. I've dropped a Glock in the same sand and it came out gritty but firing. I suspect if I repeated that 10 times I'd get different results each time but it does show that you nothing is for sure.

If you are taking handloading into consideration then don't forget a .44mag revolver and lever gun.

I like most of the choices on your list and would recommend them for anyone on a budget.

Anonymous said...

In reading about SHTF guns I have been thinking of one thing missing . And that is there may not be an inexhaustable supply of ammo and powder. You may run out eventually of both.(Unless you know how to mix the correct mixture of charcoal,saltpeter and sulfur). Then I remembered what Albert Einstein said when asked how the third world war would be fought. And he said "Well I know how the fourth world war would be fought, with sticks and stones. What I'm trying to get at is that maybe a bow set should be added to your list. Arrows can be made from anything wood.

JD said...

Along with a bb/pellet gun, slingshot, crossbow, blowgun/darts(?), throwing stars, obviously knives, tomahawk, spear points, etc.

All good alternatives and the makings of a good blog post...

Anonymous said...

Ruger 10/22 easy to load mags less susceptible to damage like a tube. Faster to reload. IMO a 10/22 and 10 steel lips hi-cap mags is way better than anything posted. Lightweight, carry into the thousands of rounds. Fast shooting, decent range (200+ yds), lethal, accurate, and less likely to break. If you do wind up in a small battle with a single shot, kiss your ass goodbye! Plus shotgun ammo gets heavy after a nominal round count. And despite what was said it is not that easy, fast, or economical to reload a shotshell. Sure, there are a number of ways to do it, but this guy even makes light of the fact that your not gonna be privy to a place that sells powder, primers, or matches, so explain how is that the most practical thing to carry again? IMO single shot shotty is a LAST resort!

Anonymous said...

I agree about he Ruger 10/22. I have numerous magazines and can keep shooting when someone with a tube mag is reloading. It breaks down in five minutes and is super-easy to clean. I've had my 10/22 for almost 40 years and it's never failed to fire from a mechanical failure, provided I used good ammo. I think a handgun is a vital piece of the puzzle, but a shotgun and a 10/22 will work very well. Keep in mind, if you're not in somer sort of firefight, two or three shots at a time will be all you're shooting, and at that rate, your ammo and your guns will probably outlive you.

kalon said...

if western demoracey falls my weapon of choice is my 30 30 winchester. purpose it's lightweight easy to handle a common cartridge my grandfather bought one after world war duce in 1952 the year my father was born, passed it on to my father he used it to feed him self and his family for 40 odd years barley ever even clean it. Even went through one house fire broke it down for the first time because i put the wrong bullet in it not looking it was filthy and rusted still puts meat on the table model 92 winchester folks!

Anonymous said...

Nope, disagree with the entire post. SHTF I would without question take my M4. You based some of this post off of not being able to get gun parts or ammo, so what US do you live in? How about keeping it real. I don't know of one town, in the state that I live in, that does not have multiple gun stores. Of course you cant go to a gun store when the SHTF and expect to get locked and loaded without the gun store owner blasting you in the face for stealing his sh*t. You must plan ahead of time, but its not like that stuff isn't going to be around.

-Know your weapon, know your weapon, no matter what weapon you choose (lots of moving parts or not) know how to fix it if need be. You should know your weapon inside and out. It is relatively cheap to buy a good quality AR, parts kit, ammo, and mags.

-Weapons handling, are you just gonna be out there dragging your weapon in the dirt and mud? The same weapon you rely on to keep you and your family alive? I would hope not. It is relatively easy to keep an AR clean so that it wont malfunction on you when you need it. If you are just dragging/banging it around yeah its probably not gonna do to good and will probably mess up your sites as well.

-Gear for an AR platform is readily available as well. This is due to the fact that it is our military's primary weapon system. Gear is sold on the civilian market that will allow a shooter to carry more rounds than he or she will probably need. I rather be rolling around with a QUALITY AR and my DA gear full of mags loaded with 77grain over any of the guns listed in this post. No matter what weapon you have you should always have a parts kit on hand and as I stated earlier you should know your weapon inside and out.

So what happens when you miss with your single shot shotgun?!?! Say if an aggressor is shooting at you from distance or behind cover and you dont put him down with the first shot? Well, lets go back in time for a moment shall we, Bank robbery North Hollywood California Feb. 1997. Before officers went to a DAMN GUN STORE to get M4's I might add, the cops who only had pistols and shotguns were getting owned by two bank robbers who had the AK's. Ok so TWO I say again TWO bank robbers were able to shoot and maneuver killing and maiming an entire task force of cops armed with pistols and shotguns. It wasn't until the cops ran to get better weapons and the robbers had run out of ammo that they were able to overtake them. Point being in a SHTF situation if two bad guys roll up on me and my wife with assault rifles I want a chance. I damn sure don't want no single shot rifle or 22. cal pistol LMFAO.

You screw up and take a bad shot with your single shot w/e or your bolt action w/e and miss your pretty much SOL, better be a good runner. Meanwhile If I miss I have 29 more rounds of 77 grain that can be fired at my target, not to mention all the extra mags I have on my gear.

Stopping power...and an AR will put them down in 2-3 shots, its all about the range and shot placement. Ive dropped bad guys(military OIF 2) with one shot close up and to the chest, didn't even need to follow up with another shot even though I did because its what I was taught. Its all about shot placement with 556.... SO that BS about 556 not being "enough" is all just that, BS. The guys that say they shot someone 7 times probably missed 6 out of the seven shots with the 7th grazing him at best. You shoot a man with 556 in the chest they aren't gonna just keep coming that is for sure......So the round is plenty big enough.

You can hunt pretty much Anything in the US with 223/556, is it humane? Don't know and don't care this is about survival.

I have used an AR in combat and in the military for 10+ years. I continue to use an AR in combat zones today as a I continue to work for the government. I put my life in her hands and she has never cheated or failed me so that is good enough for me to marry her and make her my main SHTF rifle of choice.
12:18 PM

Anonymous said...

Very good representation in this piece.

As usual, when you open it up to comments, the "I got a better idea" people blow it all to hell.

Any firearm will be better that no firearm and there will be little opportunity for being shot specific.

Scarymike23 said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the SKS! 10 round internal magazine (obviating your concern about box mags and en bloc clips), reasonably powerful cartridge which can be had for anywhere from $.20 to $.25 per round if you buy smart, insane ease of cleaning and maintenance, and more reliable than pretty much any other semi-auto firearm on earth. Most of the non-Yugoslavian versions also have a chrome lined bore for increased durability and ease of cleaning.

My '51 Tula SKS is my go-to gun if things go south.

JD said...


No I didn't but you are right. I am a big fan of the SKS platform. Thanks for reading and posting.

Dr. Dillinger said...

My 1911 trumps mosst of your list, and my AK is incredibly easy to maintain and has never failed on me. .45 and 7.62x39 are both profliferous in my area (i.e. the US) so ammo is never a problem, either. Your arguments are all invalid.

Anonymous said...

You're wrong...

Why do armies always issue RIFLES? Beacuse you can attack and defnd better with them. Shotguns are not very useful outside an urban environment or over 150 yds. Don't even think about trying to close on a position over open ground with one. Your list will get you killed...

Anonymous said...

I would disagree. Armies issue Rifles for offensive and defensive action. Choose a RELIABLE, quality rifle. Ruger GS Scout, Remington 700, HK91,FAL, M1 Garand over a shotgun anyday. That should be your FIRST and main SHTF weapon. Next comes a decent Secondary semi-auto pistol in 9mm, .40SW or .45APC. Then a 10/22 Rifle. Then and only then a shotgun. In a more urban/suburban environment an M4 makes way more sense.

Mickey said...

I have had many thoughts on the subject over the years. My opinions also have changed over time. Where I used to be a die hard revolver man I now own two S&W 9mm pistols, a Ruger .327 federal, a 32 H&R revolver and a couple of .22 revolvers. With this I have three 12 gauge pumps, two 12 gauge semi auto's and two single shot 20 gauges. For rifles I am currently making a custom .243 and I own a couple .22 magnum rifles. I'm not a "bug-out" type. I will do everything I can to stay home if at all possible. The pistols and shotguns are my main line of defense.

Anonymous said...

you have to consider an m1a rifle.that 7.62 round will knock down anything it comes against.throw a taurus 410/45lc rifle in your back pack for hunting small game and your good for feeding and protecting the family

Anonymous said...

If shtf for real, anyone in a shootout with the military/gov is dead, I don't care what you are shooting. If this doomsday sincerio ever takes place, we are all f##ked..

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