One of the most commonly talked about topics in the preparedness world is some form of “what weapons do you need to survive XYZ?” or “The top 5 must have weapons”. Many of these articles and videos, however, seem to follow a one size fits all approach to weapon selection. As prepared citizens, we need to make sure that we not only have tools to use, but that those tools are the ones best suited for the job. Many of us are working with small budgets for preparedness supplies, and thus I think that there are crucial aspects of weapon system selections that are often overlooked.I certainly do not consider myself a firearms expert by any means, but there are some considerations that I feel you should make when deciding what weapons systems to acquire. There are three main aspects of a firearm that you should consider when choosing your weapon.
The first issue to consider is the availability of ammunition. Take a hypothetical situation where you are trying to choose a bolt gun in either .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor. I think that few people will argue against the fact that a 6.5 Creedmoor round will have a flatter trajectory and be more accurate at extreme ranges than a .308. What is the availability of that ammunition in your Area of Operations (AO)? If systems disruptions are expected, do you have enough on hand? Are you able to resupply from local sources? Is it a common caliber in your area? By choosing a .308, you also open yourself up to having ammunition for an AR-10, a FAL, or any other number of weapons that you may somehow acquire during grid down or system disruption scenarios. Is a .308 the best round you can possibly have for long range precision shooting? Probably not. Does it serve a wider purpose than other comparable rounds? Yes. That is not to say that adding a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle to your arsenal isn’t a good idea. However, should it be the first bolt gun your acquire? I do not think so.
The second aspect is the availability of spare parts and magazines. As an example, I currently run a Springfield XD9 and a Springfield XD40 as my two main handguns. I love both of these handguns and would not hesitate to recommend them. I am, however, going to transition to Glock 9mms (probably the 17 or 19X) even though I am not the biggest fan of them (I can hear the pitchforks being sharpened). Why? For one, the popularity of Glock handguns means that they is a good chance that spare parts and magazines can be bartered for or purchased during less than ideal times. Additionally, there is a high likelihood that both friend and foe have Glocks, and that allows for reloads from fireteam members or vanquished enemies. Additionally, many AR pistols or carbines chambered in 9mm use Glock magazines. This would help you limit the number of different magazines you need to acquire because those magazines can be used for multiple purposes. I am sure that someone will sing the praises of the Five-Seven from FN, and though I have not shot one I have no doubt it is a nice gun to have. But, how many others will also have a Five-Seven? Again, adding it to your tool box is great if you have the funds, but if your budget is limited (like mine), then beginning with a Glock is the best way forward. Versatility and plentiful resupply options is what rules king for me in this area.
This concept is extended to other platforms such as the AR-15 in 5.56 or choosing the AR-10 over the FAL. With the availability of parts and magazines for the standard AR-15, it wins out over other oddball ARs such as the CMMG Mutant in 7.62×39 or ARs chambered in .50 Beowulf, 5.45, etc. While I would love to own a FAL one day, the AR-10 makes more sense if you are set on a semi-auto .308 (and the ammo is interchangeable with the bolt gun you purchased!) because spare parts, while more uncommon than AR-15 parts, are still going to be more plentiful than FAL parts. Being able to both simplify your resupply needs to a handful of calibers or magazines will pay dividends when the supplies are in short supply.
The third aspect to consider is your Area of Operations itself. Do you really need that 6.5 Creedmoor bolt gun your heart is set on if you live in a city? What about if you live in suburbia? What is your average engagement range going to be? What environment does your AO consist of – open fields, dense brush, tree-lined suburban streets? All of these are factors to consider. Perhaps your group doesn’t need to standardize with SCAR-20s if your AO is a medium density city suburb with winding streets. If your average engagement range from hill crest to hill crest is 400 yards through medium high brush, what good is that $3,000 long range rifle? Again, I am not saying that these weapons and capabilities are not important. But, if you are operating with a limited budget, should they be your priority? Perhaps your intended use is to have a heavily fortified compound that warrants a heavier rifle like an AR-10. Or, perhaps you intend to be fleet of foot and would welcome a lighter AR-15 or even an AR-9. Your intended use goes along with your AO and your preparedness plan, and should be considered when purchasing your weapon systems.
My dream is to have at least two guns in every common rifle and handgun caliber so that I have a tool for every type of ammo I come across. But, that is not a realistic goal at the moment. So, I have instead decided to use the three concepts above to determine what weapon systems should be my priority. I didn’t always use those concepts, however, which explains why I have the XDs to begin with.? With that said, let me describe my AO. My current AO is a medium density suburb in Southern New Jersey. Outside of the suburbs it is mostly pine-oak forests with low to medium density underbrush. There is also a decent amount of farmland, but most of the fields are no larger than a couple hundred yards and divided by tree rows. There is a large density of current and former law enforcement and military personnel in the area. This had led me to my decisions concerning my weapons choices.
For handguns, I have decided to begin moving towards Glock 9mm handguns. They are plentiful and used by most law enforcement agencies in the area. Parts should be attainable, and it fits with my future goal of having a few AR pistols in 9mm once I relocate (AR pistols are illegal in NJ due to a weight restriction on pistols – we can thank the “scary” Tec-9 for that). Given the number of magazines I have for the two XDs I have, I plan on eventually getting one more of each and putting them into Deep Sleep (to borrow a term from Commander Zero). A reliable .22LR handgun is also valuable, and your choice may vary given what is popular in your area (i.e. choosing a Ruger Mark III over an Smitih and Wesson SW22). I also recommend a .22LR revolver, because depending on your potential operations, revolvers don’t leave any brass to clean up.
For rifles, the standard AR-15 is my choice. I don’t think much needs to be explained here. I also intend on obtaining an AK-47 as most of our adversaries use it and, given the production of them to our south, there may be surplus parts and magazines sooner than your think. I also intend on obtaining a .308 bolt gun. Besides my earlier point of more plentiful and available ammo, I own an AR-10 and thus it cuts down on the types of ammunition I need to purchase. In hindsight, the AR-10 was a purchase made without considering my earlier points, but its’ resale value warrants me keeping it over selling it. I also recommend obtaining a .22LR semi-automatic rifle, and while the 10/22 is always suggested, there may be regional differences that warrant you choosing a Marlin or Savage over a Ruger. Talking to your local FFLs may give you an idea of the common .22LR rifles being purchase. Additionally, obtaining a conversion kit for your AR-15 gives you increased utility and functionality.
Choosing a shotgun may depend on the hunting in your area. I don’t know enough about shotguns to really guide your decision here, but talking with local hunting clubs may give you an idea of common models to purchase.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and opinions on the topic. I am not an expert on firearms, survival, or preparedness. I am like many of you – a run-of-the-mill citizen constantly learning from those around me who are more knowledgeable and slowly working my way towards a complete level of preparedness (if there is ever such a thing). God Bless, and keep the work up. Time is running short.
Patriotman, armed with a Master’s of Science, a glass of whiskey, and an AR-15, currently ekes out a survivalist lifestyle in suburban northeastern state as best as he can. He has varied experience in political science, public policy, biological sciences, and higher education. Proudly Catholic and a former Eagle Scout, he has no military experience and thus offers a relatable perspective for the average suburban prepper who is preparing for troubled times on the horizon with less than ideal teams and in less than ideal locations. Can be found on FreeZoxee as “patriotman”.