I get a lot of questions about what the beginning prepper’s first gun should be. I’ve heard rifle, pistol, and shotgun. Maybe they need an AR. What about the revolver? We’ll explore my thoughts on this now.
The first thing a person has to do is figure out what job they want it to do. A weapon is a tool. It’s made to fight, defend, and hunt. Every gun out there can do that. That’s just truth. The lowly single shot 12ga, the .44 magnum, or the AR can all do those jobs. These following weapon choices are not based on the survivalist ideals. Those are going to be discussed to an extent in another article.
The shotgun is the MOST versatile weapon a person can own. It’s also the most devastating. No other weapon on the market can fire as many projectiles at one time. A load of #4 buckshot releases 27 pellets of .24 caliber at about 1,600 fps. Devastating! You can swap shells and use a rifled foster slug for sufficient accuracy out to 150 yards easily. Maybe feeding your family game birds or rabbit is on your mind. Move to a #7 game load and hunt quail and dove. The 12ga shotgun can literally take any land animal in the western hemisphere, Europe, and Austrailia. It is highly effective if outfitted properly.
Shotguns have been developed for use in fighting, home defense, and hunting. Typically you can trade out barrels in more pump action or semi-auto shotguns from a cylinder bore barrel, a choked barrel, or a rifled slug barrel. Cylinder bore barrels are the same dimensions all the way through to the muzzle end of the barrel and have zero constriction. Choked barrels typically have a barrel that is cylinder bored up until the last few inches of the barrel where there is some type or bore constricting device. Either a screw in choke, an adjustable poly choke, or a barrel that is machined in a way that it has a fixed choke. Chokes can be found in improved cylinder, modified, full, and extra full. You can also get rifled chokes for use with sabot slugs. Rifled barrels are machined in the same fashion as traditional rifles, but are meant to be used in conjunction with sabot slugs. Imagine a bullet, sitting in a cup, in the top of a shotgun slug. When you fire the round, the sabot or cup is making contact with the barrel’s lands and grooves spinning the bullet inside. As the projectile leaves the barrel, the cup is shed and the bullet continues flying true. You can get a rifle like accuracy out to 200 yards using sabot slug. Shotguns, in my opinion, should be the first weapon a prepper purchases as it is the all-around most effective.
The calibers of choice for you should be either 20 gauge or the more common 12 gauge. 12 gauge is used by police and military, and is the most common hunting caliber shotgun available on the market. That makes the ammunition extremely common. I don’t know of an outdoorsman yet who does not have or had a shotgun. The two most common shotguns you’ll find on the American market are the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870. Both weapons are fine quality, and if taken care off, can last a lifetime. I’ve had both and personally prefer the Mossberg 500.
Next would be a handgun. A lot of people say to start with a revolver. The 5-8 round weapons are a favorite in nightstands and purses nationwide. Defensive calibers start at .38 Special and work their way up to the venerable .44 Magnum made famous by Clint Eastwood’s Callahan. There’s even the .500 Magnum made by Smith and Wesson who’s claim to fame is .50 caliber power in a portable revolver.
The favorite today amongst police, military, and concealed carriers is the semi-automatic pistol. They are typically striker or hammer fired magazine fed polymer framed weapons. Some are also made of steel or aluminum alloy. These are available in every caliber from .22LR to .50 AE in the Desert Eagle. Some AR-15’s are even classified as pistols. The most famous of semi-automatic handguns are Glocks and 1911s. Handguns are made for two reasons, and two reasons only: fighting and protection. They are small enough that they can be hidden easily on one’s person but effective enough that they can be used in a fight to protect yourself. Pistols have almost exclusively been developed as a secondary weapon to be used in conjunction with a rifle or shotgun. It is said that pistols are made for you to fight to your primary weapon, and then the primary weapon is made to fight the threat. If you choose to go with a semi-auto, go with either Glock, S&W, Springfield, Walther, Sig, or Ruger. There are many more quality brands but these 6 seem to be the most common. I personally prefer a Glock 17 in 9mm. The caliber of choice should start at .380 ACP for those seeking high-level concealment and end at .45 ACP with my choice being 9mm. Many police choose .40 S&W though the FBI is starting to move back to 9mm.
When it comes to rifles I discourage new preppers from obtaining one first off unless an awesome deal just lands in their lap. Rifles have a place, and it’s a very prominent place. That’s not to say a rifle such as a 10/22 isn’t right for the first time shooter. That’s a different subject that will be covered in another article.
With that said, following along with the themes posted above I would suggest something that would cover multiple uses. Defense, hunting, and fighting. So what’s the best choice for that? Many people choose the AK or SKS platforms due to their gas piston operation. History shows that a gas piston operating system tends to be cleaner running in the chamber area which lends itself to greater reliability. The AK platform is the second most popular rifle system in America, but the most prolific style in the world. Literally, almost every nation in the world, or their enemies, use the AK pattern rifles. They typically are chambered 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm.
The flip side of that coin is the AR platform and similar direct gas impingement systems. They run a bit dirtier in the chamber area. DI rifles also lend themselves to being more accurate while requiring greater amounts of maintenance. The AR-15 is the most popular modern style semi-automatic rifle in the United States and is the primary weapon style of US military and many of its allies. The ammunition is cheap, but not as cheap as that of the AK rifles. The AR uses primarily the .223 Remington or the 5.56x45mm NATO round. The AR-15 is my #1 choice for the beginning prepper’s first rifle.
So what were your first choices? Do you agree or disagree? Please leave your comments for others to learn and grow by and if you found this article helpful, consider subscribing to my email list.
*Original content by Prepper Ralph for prepperralph.com*
**All images were sourced from google**