Getting started with guns, part 1
Prepper guns seem like a really popular topic, at least judging by the number of books and magazine articles on them. It’s almost like there’s an entire industry built on writing about so-called prepper guns. Unfortunately, a lot of it is basically just gun porn. It sells magazines but doesn’t give you much practical information. So what is the best prepper gun? That depends on what you’re prepping for and where you’re prepping. If you live in a city, the best choice will be different than if you live 50 miles from your nearest neighbor. There are just a few things to keep in mind when deciding what guns would be good prepper guns for you. (Spoiler alert: One of the considerations is NOT how “cool” or “bad ass” the gun looks…)
Will it do the job?
It doesn’t matter how “tactical” or “cool” a gun looks. If it won’t do the job you need it to do, it’s basically worthless. An HK 91 makes a great battle rifle, but it kind of sucks for hunting small game. A muzzle loader might be OK for hunting, but it kind of sucks for self defense. An AR 15 is good for hunting small game AND for self defense, but it’s a felony to own one in some states.
Will you be able to get ammo for it?
My tastes in cartridges run mostly towards those that aren’t exactly main stream. 44 Special, 41 Magnum, 257 Roberts, 45-70, things like that. All are really good cartridges now, but very bad choices for prepper guns. Why? Because post-SHTF it will be hard to find ammo. Some of it is hard to find now. Some people like to say they don’t care, they’ll reload or they have a big stock pile. OK, so what if SHTF when they’re not at home and they can’t get home to their reloading setup?
In my opinion, ammo choices for a prepper are few: 22 LR is good IF a 22 meets your needs. For revolvers, 38 Special or maybe 357 magnum. For semi auto handguns, 9mm or maybe 45 ACP. Rifles, 5.56 (223) or 7.62 Nato (308). For shotguns, 12 gauge (best) or 20. Sorry if I left out your favorite round. These choices are made solely on the basis of how likely it will be to find ammo post-SHTF. It doesn’t matter how flat-shooting your custom 6.5×284 Norma is. If you can’t get ammo for it, you basically just have an expensive club.
Will you be able to fix it?
Finding a decent gunsmith is hard now. It will probably even harder post-SHTF and besides could blow your OPSEC. That means you get to fix your guns when they break. Make sure your prepper guns are reliable, easy to fix (simple enough that you can do the work yourself without a lathe or milling machine), and have good parts availability.
In my experience, the following guns are pretty easy to work on, have good, easy to find repair information, and good parts availability:
Just about any Glock
AR-15 and clones
Remington 870 shotgun
I left off the Colt 1911 and clones because from what I’ve read they’re easy to mess up unless you have a lot of specialized knowledge and skill, in spite of the fact that parts and information on repairing them are easy to get. I have no experience trying to work on other guns, so I won’t comment on them. (If someone would like to donate Smith and Wesson M&P for me to evaluate I’ll be happy to give you my FFL’s contact info)
Some random thoughts on prepper guns…
Stainless steel or melonite barrels and synthetic stocks aren’t as pretty as deep bluing and fancy wood, but they’re low maintenance. Always buy the best guns or parts that you can afford. Besides a good gun, make sure your scope is good quality too. It’s better to put a $200 scope on a $300 rifle than to put an $80 scope on a $1500 rifle. If possible have back up iron sights. The most likely parts to break are firing pins and springs. They’re easy to get and not very expensive, so get spares now while they’re easy to find. Don’t own a gun without owning some kind of repair manual for it. Always buy the best quality you can afford. Practical is good. Tacticool is dumb. Don’t be this guy:
Now that I’ve talked about general principles I’ll wrap this up. In part 2, I’ll make some specific recommendations.