Prepping takes planning. Choosing a firearm for self-defense, protecting your home and family, or hunting starts with your environment.
Urban dwellers will have different needs than those living in rural areas. In an urban environment, a short, lightweight weapon is required for maneuvering down hallways, through doors, across streets and for getting in and out of vehicles. A carbine or shotgun may be a good choice, or perhaps a handgun. Those who live in rural areas may be required to hunt for food or protect themselves from bears, wolves and other deadly predators that they may compete for food with. A high-caliber, bolt-action rifle may be your best choice. You know where you live, so the first step is to determine whether you need a rifle, a shotgun, handguns or a combination of all three for survival.
A rifle is the easiest weapon for most users to shoot accurately, especially when chambered in a low-recoiling caliber. They come in a variety of action types. Bolt actions, lever actions and single-shot rifles are all manually operated by the user. They are slower to fire and reload. Semi-automatic rifles fire with each press of the trigger; they’re fast to fire and fast to reload.
Shotguns are powerful and offer the user cartridge choices that range from non-lethal and birdshot to buckshot and slugs. They are versatile weapons and come in manually operated types (pump action, double-barrel break action) and semi-automatic.
Handguns are the hardest weapon to master. Remember, a full-size handgun is easier to control, aim and shoot more accurately than a compact pistol. At the gun store, hold as many weapons as you can to get a feel for them; they are like cell phones and vehicles in that they all perform a basic function with the difference being features and ergonomics. Your choice of weapon type may be dictated by local laws. Long arms (rifles and shotguns) are generally easier to purchase than handguns. A well-informed gun dealer will be able to tell you what documentation or licensing is required to purchase a weapon.
Once you choose a weapon type, the next decision is caliber. Choose a popular caliber since it will be more plentiful when you go to purchase your ammunition. Popular rifle calibers include .22 LR, 5.56mm/.223 Remington and 7.62mm/.308 Winchester Shotguns gauges should be 12 or 20. For handguns, choose .22 LR, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP. For less experienced shooters, a smaller caliber has less recoil, which translates into more accurate shooting. The downside is that smaller calibers have less power and require more hits on target.
A firearm is only valuable if you know how to use it. Take a training course so you can be proficient and safely handle a gun. Your dealer can recommend a trainer or training facility. Maintaining a weapon is vital. Being able to field-strip and clean a weapon is important to keep it working so it can keep you alive.
This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Spring 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.