If you could only have one long arm, it is hard to beat a shotgun for utility. With good slugs it will bring down big game even at 100 yards. With light shot loads it is fine for rabbit, squirrel, or other small game. With buckshot it is fine for home defense.
The humble shotgun has quite a bit to recommend it. But the utility comes at a cost. It lacks the range of a true big game rifle, it lacks the stealth of a subsonic rimfire, it lacks the rapid fire of a semi-auto carbine with a 30 round magazine. It is by all accounts perfectly adequate for any number of tasks and yet it is the best option only as a fowling piece.
So if you already have a decent shotgun for the end of the world, by all means keep it and stack your ammunition deep. If you want to branch out into other long arms I recommend three, a big game rifle, an AR-15 carbine (although an AK variant would generally do just as well), and either a 22 long rifle or 22 caliber air rifle.
Now before you take my advice and make a purchase you should ask yourself whether or not it fits into YOUR plan and situation. If you live in an apartment in New York City odds are quite good that any sort of firearm is going to be more trouble than it is worth, so alternative tools (longbow, crossbow, compound bow, blow pipe) should be worth considering. If you live in a retirement community in southern California you probably don’t have much use for a big game rifle, and my recommendation of an AR-15 could get you into legal issues with the state so a Mini-14 might be a better choice for you. If you have a specific situation that you would like my input on, comments are open.
But, on to what I think are the essentials.
A big game rifle is a huge category in and of itself. It can be a 30-30 lever rifle for taking deer, or it can be an ultra huge magnum that would bring down an elephant. I recommend only two cartridges, the 30-30 and the 308 Winchester. I recommend this because they are cheap. There are better options out there for ballistics, but there are no better options for cost. A lever action 30-30 can be had used for quite reasonable, or a new Savage or Ruger American Rifle in 308 is readily available for cheap (as are Marlin or Remington).
An AR-15 carbine is about the most common lightweight option out there. With three magazines someone has 90 rounds of “self defense” at their beck and call. One in the mag and two in butt stock pouches makes for a pretty handy bit of kit. It can take deer sized game if need be (in a survival situation I wouldn’t worry about state minimum caliber requirements) and is a proven man stopper in combat. Odds are that anyone serious about prepping will be able to assemble an AR-15 carbine from a parts kit and save quite a bit of money, but even a factory carbine can be had for a reasonable sum.
The rimfire or air rifle is the small game and trainer rifle. This is the one that kills the rabbits that eat the garden, and trains the kids to be the next generation of riflemen. A semi-auto rimfire is a lot of fun, but with the cost of rimfire ammunition being what it is, a break barrel 22 caliber air rifle makes a lot more sense from a cost perspective.
The common thread here is that I’ve recommended less expensive tools. In a survival situation the odds of using a rifle in a firefight are much less likely than using the rifle to gather meat for the pot. And in a survival situation there are a lot more small animals than big animals. If you live in a suburban area, I would forgo the big game rifle all together and just get the AR and an air rifle. A squirrel in the stew every now and again will prevent malnutrition much better than a non-existent big game protein source.
Protein sources vary quite a bit based on geography. If you live near an ocean you can get fish or shell fish. If you live in the midwest possibly antelope or prairie dog. If you live in Florida alligator becomes a distinct possibility. But your situation might make more sense to invest in good fishing gear instead of a big game rifle, or if you live in rural Alaska or Montana, forgo the AR-15 entirely as the sparse human population makes the need for having a lot of firepower all at once less desirable than a big game rifle that could bring meat for the pot.
Comments are open.