I like “Old School” kit. By this point in my life, many items I used when I started in the military in the late 80’s are considered “Old School”. When I was a kid, and then a young adult, I still liked the gear used by my predecessors. The first thing I did when I arrived at my first unit, was ask the “Old Heads” how they set up their gear.

Pictured clockwise from top left: Springfield Armory Inc. “Marine Operator” 1911, Springfield Armory Inc. “Micro Compact” 1911, Springfield Armory Inc. “SOCOM 16” M1A, Henry Repeating Arms “AR-7”.

The older I get, the more I realize how “Right” previous generations were, regarding weapons and gear. Latest and greatest isn’t. Take a look at where the “Modern Technique” is at, regarding optics height above the AR receiver. It’s almost identical to an optic mounted to an AR carrying handle back in the 80’s.


M1A SOCOM with a 20 rounder in the gun, and a convenient, flush fit, 5 round mag for hunting. 

First on the “Old School” weapons list, is the M14/M1A. About twenty years ago, SAI presented the SOCOM model of the M1A, and it has been a huge success story. Although I’m not a fan of the integral break they added to the muzzle, and changed it out when the opportunity arose, the SOCOM is a great platform for many applications, from defensive rifle, to hunting carbine.

In the present, pictured, configuration, I have it residing in a 1960’s era mil issue walnut stock from Sarco. A SADLAK M1A scope mount is attached to the receiver, with a Primary Arms 1-6xACSS scope topping it. Since it’s my “Ready Rifle”, I have a 3 cell “Surefire 9P” knockoff from Cabelas mounted to it, and a Vortex flash suppressor capping the 16″ barrel.

For in the house, I load this with 110gr. Hornady AMAX ammo, to keep wall penetration to a minimum. This rifle shoots in the 2-2.5MOA range all day, with decent ammo. I have taken several deer with this rifle, and the 168gr. AMAX does the trick for dropping them out to 250 meters. With these additions, this handy “old School” carbine can “Fill the bill” as a home defense long gun, a Partisan weapon, or a big game hunting rifle.


The AR-7 with an “AR-7 Customized Accessories LLC” threaded heavy barrel, Sightron Mil-Dot 3-9x optic and an old Ramline 25 round mag.

At a minimum, you need a heavy caliber rifle for hunting large game, and dealing with 2 and 4 legged predators. Next would be a small game long gun. From a practical standpoint, the .22LR rimfire is the obvious choice, and there are a number of older rifles that fill this niche.

The Henry Repeating Arms AR-7, is a compact, lightweight, reliable long gun, with a number of accessories available to help it with some of it’s accuracy issues at distance. I’ve had a Charter Arms AR-7 for thirty couple years, and wished I’d had these available back then.

I wrote an article a while back, concerning this rifle, and the accessories I bought for it. The heavy barrel I bought from “AR-7 Customized Accessories LLC” for this rifle will fill the small game and pest control role (1-2″ at 50 meters) for anyone who puts in the time to learn to shoot it accurately.

THE 1911’s

I bought my first 1911 back in the late 80’s. I added an ambidextrous safety and a beavertail grip safety and it was the only .45ACP I owned for a long time. Years latter I bought a Springfield Armory “Loaded” 1911, and have owned a few since.

These days, I won’t buy a pistol that isn’t ambidextrous or at least has ambi-controls. These days, there are too many out there that offer them, for a “Lefty” to buy from a company that doesn’t.

I am a firm believer in having a full size “Field” pistol and a small “Compact” version, if possible. I at least want them to have the same, or similar controls. The 1911 is an old design, but like many other companies, SAI has kept it’s pistols up to date, with things like a light rail, and some modern modifications that make the 1911 more reliable and more accurate. These are not your Great Grand Daddy’s 1911’s.

SAI “Marine Operator” with its tanker holster.

Both the “Marine Operator” and the “Micro Compact” .45ACP caliber 1911’s are accurate, reliable and durable. Like the aforementioned M14/M1A, parts are easily available, having the mil issue past that they all do. While the “Operator” is a very accurate pistol, I can honestly say that the “Micro Compact” is the most accurate compact .45 I’ve ever shot.

SAI “Micro Compact” 1911, with its Galco “Classic Lite” holster.

Offhand, the eight-shot “Marine Operator” is a 2.5-3″ shooter at 25 meters, while the six-shot (also uses the full-size 1911 mags) “Micro Compact” ( no longer made, but available on the used market) easily shoots around 2″ at 15 meters. An advantage of the 1911 over many other modern .45ACP pistols, is that the grip is comfortable even for small handed shooters. If you want to consolidate your pistols to one type and caliber, I’d suggest you look at the 1911 in .45ACP or 9mm.

You might have noticed I didn’t include a shotgun in this list. I love shotguns as much as the next guy, and probably more, but the firearms listed here, cover basic needs, not basic wants. If you want a good reliable shotgun that’s been around for a long time, and you’re a lefty, get a Mossberg 500 or 590 (military issue since 1988). If you’re “Normal” handed, look at the Mossberg or the Remington 870.

You don’t “Need” a shotgun for several reasons. First, the ammo is heavy. Second, the ammo is bulky. Third, the magazine count is very limited. Fourth, if the mag count is high for a shotgun ( 20 round drum), the weapon is both bulky and heavy. Lastly, if you do shoot small game with a shotgun, the amount of resources (amount of shot, amount of powder) expended on one animal ( example: a rabbit) is disproportionate to what you are getting, if you get it.

The primary advantages a shotgun has in a SHTF scenario, is that it can hit moving game easily if you know what you’re doing, and it can be reloaded with improvised materials, as well as be easily loaded with black powder. I love my shotguns, but I have to be realistic, when comparing them to other firearms for survival purposes.


Pictured in the lead pic, is one of me using my old ALICE LBE I assembled around 1989. The belt is lined with sleeping pad foam, zip tied to the belt, and many of the metal ALICE clips have been replaced with zip ties and 550cord. I can carry up to twelve M16 or eight M14 mags in this rig, along with commo gear, First-Aid supplies, water and survival supplies. I’ve always used a “Tanker Type” holster with this type of rig, both for an M9 and for the 1911.

Can I do a speed reload as fast out of the LC-2 rifle mag pouch? No. Are my mags secure and still easily accessible? Yes. I’d say if you’re a “Gamer”, the weapons and gear talked about in this post are not for you. If you’re serious about what is to come, and you want tried and true weapons and gear that have stood the test of time (50 years or more), you should check these items out. If these were the only guns I had in a real WROL or SHTF scenario, I’d feel extremely fortunate.


"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.