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Posted:  6/7/2012 9:17 AM #31950
CTD Blogger

Joined: 7/14/2009
Posts: 10828
Last Post: 8/20/2014
Subject: The Five Principles of Survival Guns and Weapons
( By Scott Wagner-I would like to start my next post by laying the groundwork I believe is necessary for selecting the survival guns and weapons you will need, both lethal and less lethal (the proper term is “less” not “non” lethal, since many of these weapons systems could kill if used improperly), as well as the equipment to support that the weapon selection. Before we get into specific weapon selection for specific need, I need to state what I consider to be the underlying foundations of the weapons type you select, no matter what form, or for what situation. While the location and conditions may dictate different weapons be purchased for those specific situations, the underlying concepts used for selection remain constant. I feel that there are five basic parameters that a suitable firearm for tactical preparation must meet.

1) Reliability of Survival Guns

This may seem to be a no-brainer, but from what I have seen, it sometimes gets overlooked because of other factors that come into play, including the “looks cool” and/or “my buddy said…” which may prevent those who are starting to explore this concept from making a better choice.

To put it succinctly, your tactical preparation gun MUST, I repeat, MUST, be absolutely drop-dead reliable. Every time you pull the trigger you must get the proper “bang” and the appropriate projectiles leaving the muzzle. Reliable right from the box is best. If we suffer a national implosion, a finicky firearm, or one that needs to be babied isn’t going to get it. If your situation involves travel, whom are you going to get to fix it? Not likely to be a gunsmith in the crowd of angry, dangerous people who are attempting to surround you and your family.

2) Ruggedness

Your survival guns need to be able to take a beating without damage, especially guns that will be traveling with you. They need to hold up to lowered levels of maintenance, because unlike our military, you won’t have an unlimited supply line from a rear echelon to keep you supplied with spare parts and maintenance materials. Therefore these survival guns should not be of a type that will need replacement parts or specialized service for the duration the uncivilized conditions.

3) Portability

M1 Garand: Survival Weapon?

The M1 Garand is the author's favorite rifle overall, but its bulk makes it unsuitable as a survival gun.

I will be 55-years-old later this year. While I feel I am still in good shape, carrying heavy things around on foot over long distances in terrible conditions just doesn’t appeal to me much anymore.

The survival weapon(s) you choose must be light and easily maneuvered. This means some great guns that will work for shelter-in-place situations won’t work well for travel. My favorite all-time rifle is an M1 Garand manufactured in 1942, refinished once and given a new stock by a previous owner, and purchased for me for my birthday by my father. It is highly reliable, extremely rugged (although I would hate to mar that excellent hunk of black walnut it is nestled in), shoots-the-all-time greatest battle cartridge (sorry to all you 7.62 NATO fans) and is simple to operate.

But who wants to lug it around over long distances at a loaded carry weight of over 10 lbs., plus a healthy supply of loaded clips (WWII combat load on an ammo belt held a total of 80 rounds), plus whatever other gear you are carrying—a pistol, food, clothing etc.? Not me.

For the purposes of this discussion, “portability” also includes maneuverability in confined space—vehicles, buildings, or concealment/cover locations.

4) Simplicity

Read more about survival guns

Click the image to read more about survival guns in the aptly-named, "Survival Guns."

The survival gun needs to be simple to operate in all facets-loading, clearing, making safe, and firing. This is especially important in terms of getting the weapon to run from an empty and unloaded state. How quickly can you go from empty to “boom” without injuring yourself or someone else?

For me simplicity also means that you aren’t hanging bucketfuls of equipment off your weapon. That includes flashlights and most any other gadget you can think of on, including electronic sights, but excluding a bayonet. Electronic accessories that you become operationally dependent on are likely to fail under extreme conditions.

Further, how many different types of batteries do you want to lug around during travel or store at your home? How much benefit do you really get from that electronic device? Don’t get me wrong; during normal societal conditions for law enforcement or civilian where re-supply is not a problem, you can add whatever additional pieces of equipment you feel you need.

In times of extreme crisis, you should be able to pick up the survival weapon, charge and immediately fire it. There should be no knobs to fool with or system to check, no batteries to test. This principle of simplicity is the same concept I use when it comes to recommending police patrol rifles and shotguns.

5) Effectiveness

The AR-15 is a good choice for tactical scenarios. But is it versatile enough to get you through a survival situation? The author thinks not.

The survival weapon must be effective in terms of completing the task assigned to it.  This also means that you can only evaluate a particular weapon based upon what it is designed for to judge effectiveness.

For example, the 5.56mm AR-15 and its variants work very well for a number of tactical and defensive/offensive purposes. For dealing with single or multiple aggressors within 300 meters, it is hard to beat. In other words, its effectiveness rating for this purpose is very high. However, if it was the weapon you choose to take with you for say, protection against grizzly bears in the wilds of Alaska over any other gun, then its effectiveness rating, and your I.Q., would be very low.

So if your primary mission is addressing single/multiple human threats at ranges within 300 meters, there would be a number of possible weapons choices for this purpose, some being better than others. There are also survival weapons that may be selected for this purpose that are totally unsuitable, and that is what we are trying to avoid.

Effectiveness in terms of the tactical preparation firearm used for defensive/assault purposes would also include its potential ability to hold off, stop, or turn a large mass of people away from their goal. Some weapons are extremely effective in stopping single offenders due to the amount of destructive energy each particular round puts out, but due to lower ammunition capacity, would not be effective in dealing with larger groups of assailants.

For example, in the “Blackhawk Down” incident, two Delta sniper team members, SFC Randy Shugart and MSG Gary Gordon, lost their lives after they volunteered to protect downed chopper pilot Michael Durant—who was later captured—from hordes of Somali assailants. At least as depicted in the motion picture, the two Delta Operators were armed at that time with 1911 .45s as their fallback weapons. They exhausted their primary weapon ammo supply and turned to their 1911’s as the mob moved in.

The ammo supply for the 1911s was exhausted in short order. They were finally overrun and killed, and Durant was captured and held hostage. The .45 was very effective in its basic mission of personal defense, but not in terms of being able to hold off large masses of angry, determined individuals.

This example leads me to the selection of a potential extreme close quarter firearm for tactical preparation—the pistol. That essential survival weapon will be covered next.

Posted:  6/7/2012 4:39 PM #31966
Texan Raven

Joined: 5/22/2007
Posts: 411
Last Post: 1/9/2013
In terms of reliability, ruggedness (especially ruggedness), portability, simplicity and effectiveness, it's kind of hard to beat an AK-47 or AK-74. I could make the same case for an SKS. They are like Timexes. They can take a licking and keep on ticking.

Posted:  6/7/2012 6:23 PM #31967

Joined: 1/31/2012
Posts: 114
Last Post: 10/1/2014
I think versatility needs to be included. Can the firearm be used for both self defense and hunting. The Garand fits this bill in aces. I've been saving for a Garand from CMP. For health reason we would need to survive in place.

Posted:  10/8/2012 10:10 PM #34510
rusty shackleford

Joined: 1/3/2012
Posts: 126
Last Post: 12/31/2013
You forgot the mosin, it maybe be heavy, it may be old, it may be a bolt action, but its simple, ive never heard of one failing to fire, and if you run out of ammo it can become a spear or large club in less than 2 seconds.
ssssha shaw pocket sand!

Posted:  10/9/2012 12:56 AM #34515

Joined: 5/2/2012
Posts: 2063
Last Post: 9/30/2014
I'm with Texas Raven on this one - an AK-47 works for me.

Posted:  10/9/2012 10:46 PM #34537

Joined: 2/26/2009
Posts: 53
Last Post: 2/19/2013
I really think a mosin is a poor choice... Theres nothing fair about a firefight and I like the odds stacked in my favor as much as I can.

Posted:  10/13/2012 10:10 PM #34592

Joined: 3/6/2009
Posts: 29
Last Post: 10/13/2012
@import url(;  Don't presume the AR is too delicate in SHTF scenario, nor is the AK entirely infallible.  Each has its pluses & minuses, but the greatest factor in the equation is the user and HIS pluses and minuses.  In that regard, the shotgun may be more appropriate, or a Rem 700, or any of a hundred others.

Posted:  10/14/2012 12:04 AM #34594

Joined: 5/2/2012
Posts: 2063
Last Post: 9/30/2014
If you're bugging out, sooner or later you'll be on foot and then you only get to pick one long gun and maybe one handgun. "Choose wisely." However, if you're bugging in, you get to avail yourself of your entire collection, picking arms according to the situation.

Posted:  10/14/2012 7:44 AM #34595

Joined: 2/14/2012
Posts: 10
Last Post: 3/20/2013
There is strength in numbers.  An Individual on his/her own is unlikely to survive in ANY SHTF scenario, at least not pass the first time they meet any kind of determined multiple aggressors.
Be it a wolf pack, or a man pack, the need to obtain food, water, and rest will eventually overcome any quantity of supplies that one person can handle, and exhaustion leads to mistakes if not outright unconsciousness.
With even four people working together they can rotate rest periods, provide cover while food and water are being obtained, and man a defensive watch. Better yet, even a small group the weapon's mix can cover a much wider range of needs.  A long range rifle is then more feasible, while others carry lighter arms.
Ideally a scoped rifle, a couple of intermediate weapons, a light .22, and a shotgun would be in the mix.  Handguns are always useful as a secondary arm, but the weight of a handgun and any amount of significant ammunition might be more usefully translated into quite a bit of rifle/shotgun ammunition if the group was on foot.
Exotic calibers, while wonderfully useful in a task specific application during normal times, would be difficult to obtain on the move. 
Even the old standby cartridges like the 30-30 and 30-06 have fallen out of use to the point that finding massive stockpiles of either caliber are unlikely.
Standard US/NATO military ammo, 7.62x51 and 5.56x45 are the most likely calibers to find in any large quantities.  7.62x39 is probably the next most easily obtainable due its being distributed in massive quantities as a low cost round for inexpensive weapons.  .22 is always useful for small game, and probably more deadly at longer ranges than most people give credit.
 Handgun calibers are always subject to argument, my personal preference for EDC is a .45ACP... That being said, the SHTF weapon in my holster would be a 9mm unless I was certain of finding large supplies of another specific caliber. That choice simply reflects what I feel that military stockpiles are most likely to have in quantity.
 I suspect that those investing in gold and silver coinage will discover that like paper money THEY HAVE NO INTRINSIC VALUE... You can't eat them, and they aren't particularly useful
 as a weapon unless you drop them in the toe of a sturdy sock.
Ammunition OTOH, is both practically useful and a potential trading item as well...  
Food for thought, just how many ounces of gold WOULD a stripper clip of 5.56NATO ammo be worth to you in a real SHTF scenario?

Posted:  10/14/2012 1:10 PM #34596

Joined: 5/2/2012
Posts: 2063
Last Post: 9/30/2014
OMG I've been cloned! So that's what they were doing with me when I was abducted by aliens. TCHall and I think very much alike.

Posted:  12/5/2012 7:44 AM #35462

Joined: 9/1/2012
Posts: 4
Last Post: 6/8/2013
Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I believa high powered air rifle, in at least .22 calibre shoul be included. Ammo is cheaper than cheap and it's very capable as far as puttinb meat on the table, quietly
God hates the people who say they know what God hates.

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