Choosing Your Survivalist Weapons Battery

Re-Post from MDT

As a kid, I had a serious addiction to anything “Weapon”. When it came to weapons, I was most enamored with firearms of every caliber, shape, and purpose. I bought the book “Small Arms Of The World” at 12 years of age, and the rest is as they say, history. I have been involved in the firearms world since I was about 7 years old, but I started serious study when I was about 11 (the reason behind purchasing the book). I have read a number of well known and obscure books on the topic of firearms, but the majority of those books was geared towards firearms for defense and survival/hunting.


Another book that I bought at a young age was “Survival Guns” by Mel Tappan. Although over time, I have come to realize that some of the info he put out in that book was overkill, I also realize that most of it, even though dated, is still relevant today, as it relates to choosing firearms for a long term survival situation in the TEOTWAWKISTAN scenario. Below are some thoughts and suggestions concerning firearms choices I have made, and hopefully it can help you make some good choices of your own.

You don’t need Tappan’s 47 gun, no frills survival battery, but I believe the average person  does need more than one firearm for effective survival and defense shooting after a collapse, if you can be based out of a retreat/Fixed location. Below I will show different groupings of firearms that combine the different attributes inherent in different types of guns. They generally have a semi-auto compact rifle, a compact, centerfire pistol, a full size, centerfire pistol, an accurate long range centerfire rifle, a repeating shotgun, an accurate .22LR rifle, and a compact .22LR,L,S pistol.

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Top to Bottom: Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle .308Win Caliber, Mossberg 590A1 12 gauge shotgun, M4 variant of the AR15 rifle (w/ Ciener ,22LR kit not pictured), S&W M29 .44 Magnum revolver (left), Keltec PF9 9mm pistol (right)

If you could only choose one gun, what would it be? You’re saying “JC, that statement is too broad to make an educated choice.” right? It is, but the fact remains that for overall survival under most circumstances, a compact, semi-auto, centerfire rifle is probably the best choice. I prefer .30 calibers, whether it’s the .308Win (7.62nato), or the 7.62x39S. Both have a good track record for reliability and good penetration, and both are able to use cast bullets if need be. In this category I’d choose the M1A SOCOM or Scout, or the AKMS (folder) AKM. Although the .223Rem (5.56nato) does not function at acceptable velocities with cast bullets (the high velocity that makes the .223 so effective cannot be attained with cast lead bullets), it would be foolish to say that you should not have an AR in your Battery. Parts and accessories  abound, EVEN IN WALMART! Even though I can’t use cast lead bullets out of a reloaded .223 brass in a self defense load like the .30 cals., I can however, use a Ciener AR .22LR conversion for small game, and that’s something in the versatility department, right?

Next up, I’d want a compact pistol. “Why a compact pistol?” you say. The simple fact is that generally if you need protection at close range, it’s more than likely from a two legged predator, not a four legged one. Carrying a pistol concealed does not tip your hand to a bad guy till it’s too late for him. Whether your compact is a 9mm Nato or .45ACP, does not matter. The capability of “The nut behind the butt” does. For a regular compact carry pistol, I would not carry less than a 9mm Nato, simply because they are available in a small enough package to be easily concealable (my PF9 weighs less than 16 ounces loaded). Pick a pistol with a good track record, and practice with it.

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Top to bottom: Match M1A .308Win,  Mossberg 590A1, M1A SOCOM .308Win, Glock G21 .45ACP (left), AMT Backup .45ACP (center), Glock G30 .45ACP (right). Add in a .22LR rifle (the AR-7) and this is the selection set I’d choose. All firearms in this selection (except the .22LR) will shoot cast lead reloaded bullets if necessary.

Next up would be a reliable full size pistol. “What, not another long gun?” Nope, not yet. A good, reliable, full size pistol is easy to shoot well, can be carried around the retreat comfortable (remember, we don’t need to conceal this one). A full size pistol generally has 1/3 more if not twice as much in magazine capacity, and even though it is only a “Self defense first aid kit”, it is more effective in doing its job to getting you to your rifle than that little compact will. If your compact has a full size model that uses the same ( just bigger) mag (G17 and G26, G21 and G30, etc), I’d suggest getting one of those for logistics redundancy.


The compact AR-7 assembled


The AR-7 with action, barrel, and magazines inside the stock.

Another factor to consider when looking at what full size pistol choice you are going to make, is what type of target might you be defending against. If you live in a remote area that has large, dangerous game, choosing something like a .44 Magnum revolver (the Desert Eagle is a “boat anchor), might be a good choice, especially if you are out in the wilds a lot. Planning on engaging a grizzly with a pistol is foolhardy at best, but if your out and about gathering wood 50 feet from your rifle, and you then see the beast 50 yards away, the pistol in hand beats that rifle on the other side of the moon (might as well be).

Next on the list is a rifle designed for hard hitting accuracy. As I’ve said earlier, I’m a fan of .30 cals, and the .308Win in particular (I’m also a .30-06 fan as well), and that is the caliber I’d choose simply because it’s still an issued US military cartridge, and like the .223/5.56, it’s widely available. No one is going to argue the long range accuracy and effectiveness of the .308Win. There’s a reason it’s still the issue machine gun and sniper rifle cartridge. Whether you choose a semi-auto or a bolt gun is up to you, but a number so semi-auto rifles available are as accurate as a lot of bolt guns. Here again, as with the pistols. If your choice of compact rifle has a larger counterpart, it makes logistics sense to get the same operating system with the same mag type (M1A, AR10, etc).

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Top to bottom” Match M1A .308Win, Mossberg 590A1, AKMS 7.62×39, Glock G21 .45ACP (left), AMT Backup .45ACP (center), Glock G30 .45ACP (right). All firearms in this selection can use cast lead reloaded bullets if necessary.

Now we’ve gotten to the shotgun. It’s hard to get more versatile than the shotgun. The variety and type of loads that can be fired from the shotgun cannot be topped by any other type of handheld long gun. Buckshot, birdshot, slugs, less lethal, less than lethal, flares, and “Shellcracker rounds” are a few of the types available for the shotgun. I have been using shotguns for hunting since I was 12 when I carried it my first year deer hunting. The shotgun is equally good at hunting or defense (it excels at close quarters defense). Although it’s not something I would put at the top of the list, I also would not leave it off if I had a choice in the matter. I prefer pump action shotguns, but some modern semi-autos are pretty decent (won’t cycle the non full poer shells though), and should not be overlooked.

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Top to bottom: Match M1A .308Win, Mossberg 590A1, M4 AR15, Beretta M9 9mm (left), Keltec P3AT .380ACP (center), Keltec PF9 9mm (right)

One advantage of the Mossberg 590 that is pictured in this post, is the fact that it will accept an M16 type bayonet. “Why is that important for a survival weapon?” you ask. “Why not?” is my answer. I understand that bayonet charges are not in vogue these days, but this isn’t about a bayonet charge. This is about your position being overrun, and maybe not having the ability to exit the premises. Having that pointy tip on the end of a 9 shot riot gun that can effectively engage bad guys at 100 meters with slugs can’t hurt, can it? What makes the grass grow?

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Top to bottom: Mossberg 500 12 Gauge with 18 inch defense and 26 inch hunting barrels, Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle .308Win, Marlin 880SQ .22LR, S&W M29 .44 Magnum revolver (left), Taurus M94 .22LR revolver (right). The firearms here are primarily hunting arms.

Small and some medium sized game can effectively be taken with a good, accurate .22LR rifle. Although it can effectively kill most small and medium sized game (fox and coyotes, etc.), killing the bigger animals efficiently generally needs optimal conditions. Optimal conditions is not something that you should plan in a TEOTWAWKISTAN scenario. The .22 rifle is great for small game, but there’s a reason hunting small game with a shotgun might be necessary. You could be tired, hurt, and/or starving, and using the shotgun might be the only way you’ll hit the mark on a rabbit bent on running a 2 minute mile.

First Fox

12 years old, 35 lb. fox shot through the head at 70 yards with a Springfield 1922 .22LR

The Last firearm on my list is a .22LR pistol. Although there are a number of good, accurate .22’s on the market, I choose a revolver, simply because it will fire all types of .22 ammo (Long Rifle, Long, Short, CB caps) as a repeater. This “kit gun” type of small revolver can be an effective small game killer (I kill squirrel with it regularly), and works well for running a trap line or dispatching downed big game. It’s not a necessity, but is really nice to have for certain purposes.

On a separate, but equally valid note, I am a big fan of combo guns. My first gun was a Savage M24V .223Rem/20 Gauge, and it was used for everything from squirrel to deer till I bought my next gun 5 years later. I picked that model because I believed it was the single most versatile survival gun available, and the rifle caliber was the same as the M16A1. Use of a combo gun along with caliber adapters (upcoming post) makes it even more versatile, and for survival hunting, it’s hard to beat.


Left is the Remington Model SPR94 Spartan 12 Gauge/.308Win. Right is the Savage M24V Series D .223Rem/20 Gauge.

There you have it, my choice for a “Survivalist Battery”. It works for me, and that’s what I try to give you in this blog, my experiences. Your opinion may vary, but make sure you think worst case scenario through as much as possible before you dismiss it.



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