Over the forty years or so I’ve had a serious interest in firearms, I’ve always wondered what were “The Best” firearms one would select for survival, whether self defense or supplying nutrients via wild game. When it comes to shooting wild game, I’ve hunted for the last 43 years and found the most useful rifle on the rack is generally a .22LR. That being said, a .22LR requires precision shot placement that some might not be capable of after TEOTWAWKISTAN (The End Of The World As We Know It land) becomes our AO (Area of Operation) and just plain wears you out from the “normal” level of activities. The firearms listed below will be reviewed in stand alone, in depth posts. This post is just a brief overview of my reasons for selecting them.
In a TEOTWAWKISTAN environment (a non permissive environment where you have threats from marauder types, and also have to be self sufficient in food gathering) the first firearm you will need will be for protection. Although a pistol does well for up close, personal protection, nothing says, “Drop Dead!” like a good, reliable semi automatic rifle. As most of you know, I’m a fan of the 7.62x51Nato round, AKA the .308 Winchester. For a defense rifle in that caliber, I recommend two different rifles, depending on your envisioned use. The first is the M1A, specifically the Socom model. The second is the FN FAL, more specifically, the DSA 11″ Para FAL OSW.
The Springfield Armory M1A Socom
Although I like M1A/M14 type rifles in general, I’m a huge fan of the Socom model in particular. The Socom is about as compact as you can make an M14 type rifle. It has a 16″ barrel, and if you check with Smith Enterprises or Delta P Design, you can give it a threaded front end for a flash or sound suppressor instead of the integral muzzle brake.
Some have had issues with mounting optics. I have had no problems with either the Smith Enterprises scope mount or the Sadlak scope mounts which I have used on these rifles. As the rifle appears in the top pic above, it weighs 13 3/4lbs. (12 3/4lbs. with a synthetic stock) with a loaded 20 round mag in it, optic and light, and it regularly shoots LC 149gr ball into 2.5MOA.
I use this rifle specifically as my “House rifle”, and thus use 110gr Federal AMAX ammo in it. Those rounds usually produce 1.5-2MOA. Why use that instead of one of my AR’s? Look at it and tell me what you see from a “Public” point of view. To the typical cop, it looks like a hunting rifle, not an “Assault Weapon” (especially with the 10 round mag in it).
That rifle makes a Hell of a better impact weapon than any AR I have, and the 110 AMAX (ballistic tip, varmint type bullet) at 3300FPS acts like a 5.56 on steroids (2650 foot pounds), without the residential media penetration ball type bullets are known for. A solid rifle with a reliable action shooting a dependable “killer” cartridge out of 20 round mags and can also double as a “deer rifle”, what’s not to love?
The DS Arms ParaFAL OSW (Operations Specialists Weapon)
I have been using FN FAL type rifles for about 25 years. I had never really looked into the shorter barreled versions because I figured you’d lose too much velocity and energy to make them worth the extra weight in carrying the 7.62N/.308Win ammo. After seeing a video by Garand Thumb concerning this weapon, I decided to look into it and get the real numbers. The numbers for velocity were OK, but when I “crunched” them for the foot pounds of energy, I found out it still put out a lot more energy than a 16″ AK with Ball ammo, so I bought one.
On average, it chronographed at 2380 FPS with 149gr. LC Ball and that round is putting out 1880 Foot Pounds of energy. For reference, a 16″ AR with anything from a 55gr to a 77gr bullet, is putting out 1075-1250 foot pounds of energy. Another comparison would be a 16″ AK’s 123gr-150gr bullets. Their performance was between 1520-1760 foot pounds. My OSW is 4 inches shorter than my 16″ AK’s with folding stocks, and the OSW puts out 100 foot pounds more energy than even the non standard 150gr soft point hunting round that most people won’t be using.
At distance, my holdovers for the 11″ OSW barrel are 50 meters off. This means When I use the ACSS reticle holdovers, past 200 meters I use the 350 mark for a 300 meter shot, and the 450 mark for a 400 meter shot. As to the compact and easily carried aspects of the OSW, they made it a “no brainer” for a “Patrol Weapon” choice.
Overall length is 24″ with the brace type “stock” folded, and measures 33″ extended. It weighs 13.5lbs. with the a loaded 30 round mag (regular mags are 20 rounders), a PA 1-6x ACSS optic, Tac light and DBAL IR laser. It is as compact and powerful as a hand held firearm can be. Accuracy is approximately 2-3MOA at 200 meters.
The Keltec SU-16C
This is a unique design that is a good alternative to the AR-15 while still using the 5.56x45Nato/.223 Remington cartridge. If I’m gonna use a 5.56, it’ll probably be this rifle. I own plenty of AR’s, but that is because of their ubiquitous presence and parts availability nationwide, not my fondness for the design. Some of the SU-16C’s advantages are it’s lightweight at 4.7lbs. with no accessories attached, it has the ability to easily attach a scope via the built in picatinny top rail, and it takes M16/AR-15 mags. Finally, it is compact and folds up to 26.5″ (this “Charlie” model will fire when folded) and is 36.5″ when locked open (measurements are with an AR-15 A1 flash suppressor attached). The SU-16C that I’ve had for 10 years regularly shoots 2MOA groups at 100 meters with a 1x optic, and I’ve never had a jam, malfunction or part break.
Having used and repaired (I was an Armorer among other things in the Mil) the M16/M4 type rifle for the majority of my life, either in the military or out, I’d say I have a pretty good idea of what the AR platform has in the way of advantages, and what it lacks in attributes. The AR system is lightweight, accurate and within a low end, “maintenance depot’s” reach, durable. As a “One size fits all” rifle, the M4 type AR is hard to beat. Considering it can be used by even the small framed, less strong and recoil sensitive among us, it is probably the best “All around” rifle to be considered by a group with plans on a collective defense where everyone is armed with a rifle.
The downsides to the 5.56/.223 AR platform need to be given serious consideration as well, starting with the cartridge. As an “All around” reliable “killing” cartridge, the 5.56/.223 has little to be desired, especially when using MilBall ammo. As a Survivalist, I want more “Kill for the Buck” when it comes to defensive rounds in my rifle. The 5.56 was designed to wound, not kill. From a military perspective, a wounded enemy is an asset. From the “Survivalist in TEOTWAWKISTAN” perspective, that wounded adversary is someone who can come back later and finish the job.
From a maintenance perspective, the AR platform is in “Armorer Speak” a “Depot Whore”. By this I mean it is very high on the preventative maintenance needs/parts replacement scale. As long as you replace certain parts regularly, you should have no issues with it’s reliability. Lacking those extra parts for the regular PMCS needed, will give you a rifle that could fail you at any moment in TEOTWAWKISTAN.
I definitely will recommend the AR to individuals and groups. That being said, it’s always with the caveat that you better have someone who knows how to work on the weapon (in perspective, it is a pretty easy system to work on) and have a ton of extra parts for the long term. BTW, I will not recommend the AR-10 systems to anyone, considering the number of military Armorers and “End Users” I’ve spoken with, concerning the AR-10/M110’s lack of reliability in the field. Also, given the lack of standardized design across the civilian industry in the AR-10 type rifle designs, it takes away from the reason many want an AR type rifle to begin with, which is “Commonality”.
Although many think the AK type design is crude and unwieldy, I think their main problem is a lack of practice and training with it. Having used AK’s for upwards of 30 years, I can tell you they are not hard to run, once you’ve worked out how to “run the gun” for you. Manipulations such as operating the charging handle (should you go over the top or underneath), operate the safety (left hand underneath or strongside right hand trigger finger) are all things you need to practice and decide what techniques you are most comfortable with. Fortunately, as a “Lefty”, running guns like AK’s, M14’s and other right side charging handled guns is a piece of cake. Find what works for you, and practice the Hell out of it. It’s that simple.
For the most part, AK’s are reliable, durable and “Minute of Bad Guy” accurate. Just like the AR, the amount of accessories available can boggle your mind. At a minimum, have a way to mount a light on your defensive rifle. Optics are nice (I recommend the RS-Regulate mounts), but I don’t feel they are necessary on an AK. Buy Mil surplus or Magpul mags along with some Wolf or Red Army ammo and you are set up with a rifle system that will do all the practical functions one should expect from a defensive rifle.
The Mossberg 500/590 Shotgun
The 590 is the model of pump shotgun I have regularly used for over 30 years. I have owned several of both the M590 military shotgun (carried an 18.5″ 590 in combat) and the M500 hunting version and have never had an issue with any of them. Reliability, durability and accurate (for a smoothbore shotgun) are words I’d use to describe them. I’ve spoken before about the 20″ barreled M590’s ability to take an attached bayonet, but another awesome feature is it’s 8+1 ammo capacity (20″ barrel), which is one more than most other 20″ barreled military type shotguns.
They also double as acceptable hunting weapons as well. Even if I was hunting pheasant or crow (yes, I put the required mag plug in it), I would just make sure I was using heavy duty 2 3/4″ High brass or 3″ magnum Remington “Nitro Express” and I’d take what I was after, even with the restrictions a cylinder bore choke imparts on your range and pattern at 30 and 40 yards. Pump shotguns excel at being versatile. If you have less lethal “pepperball” or rubber buckshot loads, they will cycle and fire just as well as the lethal ammo you have for hunting or defense.
Part 2 of the Firearms For Freedom and Forage will be out within the week. That post will concentrate on the reasons I’ve picked the handguns I use, and the benefits and detriments of each.
"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.