Guns & Ammo
(gun pictures not to scale)
"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no
match for a good blaster at your side, kid."
-- Han Solo
"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." -- Sigmund Freud, General Introduction to Psychoanlysis (1952)
"The people of the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their posession any swords, bows, spears, firearms, or other type of arms. The posession of these elements makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues and tends to permit uprising. Therefore, the heads of provinces, official agents, and deputies are ordered to collect all weapons mentioned above and turn them over to the government."
-- Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Shogun, August 29, 1558
[Stephen R. Turnbull, The Samurai: A Military History (New York: Macmillan, 1977; reprinted by the University of Hawaii Press, 1996), n. 59]
Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons. The possession of a good rifle, as well as the skill to use it well, truly makes a man the monarch of all he surveys.
-- Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle
Every man who goes into the Indian country should be armed with a rifle and revolver, and he should never, either in camp or out of it, lose sight of them. When not on the march, they should be placed in such a position that they can be seized as an instant's warning; and when moving about outside the camp, the revolver should invariable be worn in the belt, as the person does not know at what moment he may have use for it.
-- Randolph B. Marcy, The Prarie Traveler, 1859.
If you find yourself in the middle of a disaster, you'll probably wish you had some guns. "Everybody ought to have some guns" as my brother-in-law the Highway Patrol officer says. See also The Parable of the Sheep by Charles Riggs, if you have any doubts about the wisdom of this.
If you still have doubts, read the short essays contained in Joe Zychik's Arm The People website. If you still have doubts, you must not be very bright, I'd say.
I've made up 3 different lists here.
The first list is what I would get if I had the money.
You'll need a rifle, a pistol or revolver, and a shotgun. Remember to buy a half-dozen or so extra magazines for the ones with detachable magazines!
You'll notice I list 2 rifles. What's with that? One is a "combat" rifle (no, not an "assault" rifle, a "main battle rifle" actually). The other is a "precision" rifle. You probably need both, if you can afford it. If not, you'll have to decide for yourself which you'll need most.
A .22 rimfire rifle and pistol will also be handy.
The second list is more-or-less a "lower-powered" version of the first list, for people who aren't able -- or think they aren't able -- to handle the "high-powered" guns on the first list.
The third list is for people who are just plain broke. "Something is better than nothing."
Glock (offical), and Glock (unofficial); the compact Model 30 and/or the full-sized Model 21 (both chambered in .45 ACP).
Glock 21: Glock 30:
Why Glock? In a word: Reliability! Glocks are the most reliable, out-of-the-box dependable handguns on the market. And they stay that way. They're not perfect -- I find the trigger disconcerting -- and they're really ugly, but you can bet you life on them. And that's all that matters.
In addition, Glocks are simple to operate, unlike, say, the famous 1911. I actually like the 1911 better, but it's more complex to learn. A Glock is as simple or simpler than a revolver. You'll hear the experts tell you new shooters should get a revolver because revolvers are simple. Actually, they aren't all that simple mechanically, and the "manual of arms" (how you work one) is not any simpler than that of the Glock. It's just that revolvers have been around longer, so experts assume they're less complex than something new without really examining their assumptions. I personally find revolvers ridiculously complicated: you push on this button here (or pull it, depending), and then swing out this complicated cylinder thing (but not too hard or you'll screw it up! Careful!!!), and then ... and so on. People who tell you revolvers are simple are just so used to them they don't really think about them anymore. Sheesh.
Actually revolvers are simple to use. Just as simple as a Glock in fact. Up until you have to reload, at which time they become much more complicated ... and slow. However, I've been getting used to revolvers lately, and I like them better, especially the medium-frame models.
Springfield Armory SAR 4800 (SR9148) rifle. Costs around $1,300, alas, looks just like the L1A1 (below); also the Hesse Arms FAL-H series of rifles, or the DSA, Inc. SA58. All versions of the FN/FAL rifle. Century International Arms makes these L1A1s by assembling parts from around the world. The L1A1 is the semi-auto version of the FN/FAL. It is chambered in 7.62x51 NATO/.308 Winchester. Almost identical to the SAR 4800 from Springfield, and the Hesse FAL-H and DSA SA58, except costs about one-half to one-third as much.
ArmaLite makes a good alternative to the FAL/L1A1 design:
The AR-10s are very good .308 semi-auto rifles, but they are also expensive.
Savage Model 10FP in .308 Winchester/7.62x51 NATO. If you look closely, you'll notice it has no sights -- you'll need a telescopic sight mounted on it -- Fighting Firearms magazine (Summer 1996 issue) recommends the Tasco 3.5 -10 x 50-mm World Class Plus with the 30-30 reticle or the Tasco SuperSniper 10x 42-mm as good but inexpensive scopes. They also recommend the Harris Bipod with swivel-base.
Steyr Scout Rifle is another good rifle. It seems expensive, but it comes with everything, ready to go out-of-the-box, for about $2,600, if you can find it.
Mossberg Model 590 12-gage shotgun:
Glock (offical), and Glock (unofficial); the ultra-compact Glock 26, the compact Glock 19 and/or the full-sized Glock 17 (all chambered in 9-mm Parabellum):
Glock 17: Glock 19:
Springfield Armory SAR-4800 (SR9748), in .223, costs almost twice what the Bushmaster costs. Looks just like the L1A1 (above). Bushmaster Firearms makes the XM15. It is a semi-auto clone of the M16 -- except it works better, I hear. It is also less expensive than the Colt & Armilight versions. It is chambered in 5.56-mm NATO/.223 Remington:
Savage Model 10FP in .223 Remington/5.56-mm NATO.
Mossberg Model 50581 20-gage shotgun:
Savage Model 24F rifle/shotgun combination (top barrel is the rifle, bottom barrel is the shotgun). Made in 12 or 20 gage for the shotgun barrel, and .22 LR (20-gage only), .22 Hornet, .223 Remington, or .30-30 Winchester for the rifle barrel. I'd recommend the 12-gage/.30-30 combination, or the 20-gage/.223 combination for the recoil-shy.
Marlin 30AS is a relatively inexpensive .30-30 lever-action rifle. The sights are outstanding, the rifle is simple, rugged, reliable. Local sporting-goods stores frequently have it on sale, and you can find ammo for it anywhere in America.
A local sporting-goods chain has surplus Lee-Enfield Number 4, Mark 1 or Mark 2 rifles for around $120. This is generally regarded as the best military turn-bolt rifle ever made. The .303 British cartridge you can generally find most anywhere. Pistol? Check your local gun shop. See what's on sale, what's in the used department, and ask for advice. A local store has Smith & Wesson revolvers that were formerly used by various police departments for very reasonable prices, for example. A Russian or Chinese SKS rifle is another inexpensive possibility. The Russian-made one are a little better-quality, the Chinese are cheaper -- around $99 once upon a time. Or perhaps one of the more-expensive AK-47 clones (AKM, MAK-90, and so on). Prices seem to be going up, however.
Blackhills Ammunition makes the best ammunition, or so I hear. However, it's probably cheaper to stock-up on military surplus ammo which your local gunstore will frequently have at amazingly low prices. Sometimes this ammo is in poor condition, sometimes it's factory-new. Ask.
Hornady also makes excellent ammunition. I've heard especially good things about their "Light Magnum" loads for non-magnum rifle cartridges like the .308 Winchester. The editor of Fighting Firearms magazine highly recommends the Hornady Custom pistol ammo loaded with the XTP bullets.
Ammo Man sells ... ammo!
Cascade Ammunition sells ammo too!
Georgia Arms sells ammo -- their "canned heat" bulk quantities are an especially good deal.
Cole Distributing, Inc sells ammo
Dillon Precision-- the best ammo-reloading machines you can find, with a great "no-B.S." warranty.
MidSouth Shooters Supply, shooting accessories and supplies
Widener's Reloading & Shooting Supply, Inc shooting accessories and supplies
Graft & Sons, Inc
4050 S. HWY 54
Mexico, MO 65265
(800) 531-2666 -- shooting accessories and supplies (no web page apparently), a good catalog you can order.
ProEars amplified hearing protection. You don't shoot without hearing protection (and eye protection!), and these let you hear without hurting yourself.
Guns won't do you any good unless you learn how to use them, of course:
Self Defense Firearms Training by Greg Block, in Southern California. Front Sight Firearms Trining Institute, near Las Vegas. Gunsite Trining Center, in Arizona, (520)636-4565 Firearms Academy of Seattle, in, well, Seattle! Massad Ayoob's Lethal Force Institute, in New Hampshire, with classes held all over, phone: (603) 224-6814 The Firearms Training Site, in Virginia. Thunder Ranch, Inc, Mountain Home, Texas, Phone: (210) 640-3138 (Widely regarded as the number-one training facility.) Chuck Taylor's American Small Arms Academy, in Prescott, Arizona, Phone: Voice/Fax: (520) 778-5623 Storm Mountain Training Center, in West Virginia. Gabriel Suarez Enterprises, in Southern California Phone: (310) 572-2833 (24 hours), FAX: (818) 407-1960 Advanced Tactical Technologies, Inc., in Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: (602) 706-8010 Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, in North Carolina, Phone: (919) 435-2488, Fax: (919) 435-6388
Books to supplement classes
Complete Book of Combat Handgunning
by Chuck Taylor
Published by Paladin Press, June 1982
The Tactical Shotgun: The Best Techniques & Tactics for Employing the Shotgun in Personal Combat
by Gabriel Suarez
Published by Paladin Press, September 1996
The Ultimate Sniper: An Advanced Training Manual for Military and Police Snipers
by Major John L. Plaster
Published by Paladin Press, January 1993
David's Tool Kit: A Citizen's Guide to Taking Out Big Brother's Heavy Weapons
by Ragnar Benson
Published by Loompanics Unlimited, June 1996
The Art of the Rifle
by Jeff Cooper
Published by Paladin Press, August 1997
Comment: "Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons. The possession of a good rifle, as well as the skill to use it well, truly makes a man the monarch of all he surveys." -- page 1
Glock: The New Wave in Combat Handguns
by Peter Alan Kasler
Published by Paladin Pr, 1992
Homemade Ammo: How to Make It, How to Reload It, How to Cache It
by Duncan Long
Published by Paladin Pr, 1995
Gunsmithing at Home Lock Stock & Barrel
by John E. Traister
Paperback 2nd edition
Published by Stoeger Publishing Company, 1996
by Editors of American Gunsmith magazine
Published by DBI Books, 1996.
Nuclear War Survival Skills
by Cresson H. Kearny
Published by Oregon Institute of Science & Medicine, 1988
Comment: if nukes start flying around, we're all probably toast. But just in case, I don't guess it will hurt to see what kind of things you can do if you're really lucky.
by John Ross
Hardcover, 863 pages
Published by Accurate Press, 1996
Comment: the trouble with government is all actions have consequences, frequently unintended consequences
BACK to Ken L. Holder's "Preparedness" Page.