Prepper survivalists tend to be gun people. That in and of itself is fine, because one of the major concerns during any big time SHTF is defense against outside threats. Self-defense and protection are huge components to maintaining safety of person, family, property, and survival supply stocks. But how many guns does that take? Use deliberate planning to keep from going overboard.
Survival Budget Priorities
Very often survival budgets are hard to come by. Spending on essential life sustaining supplies should come first. Every prepper needs to seriously sit down to figure out what little bit of discretionary income can be spent on prepping needs. Often the needs list is far longer than the cash deposits can handle. That is why they call it budgeting. It cannot all be done at once, at least for the majority of average preppers anyway.
Related: Read Steve Markwith’s Survival Guns: A Beginner’s Guide
Preppers should regularly compare the prepping gear and supply lists with what funds are available each month. Try to make smart decisions first until essentials are covered. Once you have a good stock of food, water, medical, and other important life stuff, then you can turn to some other issues.
The tough part is that self-defense is not just “another issue.” What if a SHTF were to hit tomorrow and you’re not ready. What if virtually overnight, roving bands of nary-do-wells were up and down the streets looking for easy prey? You have to be ready for such from the get go, often even if your needs list is far from being fulfilled. You simply have to be prepared to protect yourself and family. But what is the minimum to get that done?
This is probably not the time or place for a complete dissertation on a self-defense prepping arsenal. When you have a little bit of slow time you can research all the information you can handle on prepping guns, ammo plus related gear and supplies. The deal here initially is to stick with the very basics to provide ample coverage for a comprehensive armed security plan for a Bug In or Out scenario. You can always add depth and redundancy later.
Likely you have read much about recommended four weapon sets to provide decent coverage for self-defense of person and property especially during a SHTF in addition to some survival meat gathering as well. It would be easy enough to pare this down to just three, because during a dire SHTF event, you are not likely going to be outside potting for small game with a rimfire rifle, so skip that one tool for now. If you are at a rural Bug Out location, then the .22 rimfire can be easily added back.
So the bare bones prepper survival weapons choices should be boiled down to three essential guns. This should include at least one each of a good defensive handgun of choice, a shotgun, and a defensive rifle. The choices here are limitless, but make these decisions wisely to provide firearms you and your team are comfortable and confident in using for self-defense.
Forget the Chrome
Survival firearms certainly don’t need to be flashy for purely tactical reasons. For purposes here though we are talking about those “want” guns. For basic and essential prepper defense weapons generally stay away from collector type guns, specialty firearms, limited editions, or complicated models. You want to go basic right out of the gate.
Sure that 1885 single shot Winchester in 38-55 is a handsome rifle and great for nostalgic hunting, but it is not a good choice for defensive work. Same for that Browning Citori over and under. It’s a fantastic bird gun for quail, grouse, or pheasant, but it is not the best choice to fend off zombies kicking at the front door. Again, save your money for now and let that nickel Colt Single Action Army in 44-40 go. You get the point.
Heck knows there are plenty of “I really want that gun” choices out there. Just walk through a big gun show one weekend. However, preppers need to remain focused on taking care of business before pleasure. If the gun gods smile later, maybe that Colt will come along.
A Decent Three Gun Set
If you are looking for some suggestions or parameters to fill a 3-gun check off list, we can do that. For a handgun, if you want a revolver, pick a good quality 6-shot, .357 Magnum that can also shoot .38 Specials. If you opt for a semi-auto, then go with a universal 9mm, or if you can handle more, a .45 ACP or 10mm. Just choose a quality brand, proven model for reliability.
For a shotgun, look first at a 12-gauge pump action. Ideally it would either be a factory configured combat/tactical model with extended magazine, or a gun that can be built up that way with accessories. My own choice is the legendary Remington 870. I have nothing against a semi-auto shotgun so long as it is a proven model like a Remington 11-87. Stay clear of exotic shotguns. If you happen to be recoil sensitive, go to the 20-gauge, but realize the reduced power and range by doing so.
Related: AR:7 Survival Rifle Review
For a defensive rifle, the primary choice is an AR-15 platform in a proven model and brand, not the lowest growing fruit on the tree. Outfit it with a high quality CQC optic or an electronic holographic or red dot for relatively close range work. The .223/5.56 is universal, and the AR platform allows for endless accessorizing by choice.
I would not frown at somebody picking an AK-47 in 7.62×39. It’s proven, its reliability well known and ammo is widely available as well. It is more difficult to scope, but is effective with its open sights. For my own reasons, the Chinese SKS is not a choice. Some who want or can handle more power, then move up to an AR-10 or similar format in .308/7.62. Personally, I would hold off on the .308 as a Tier 2 firearm to obtain later.
So, there you have the short story. When building a prepper survival cache of weapons, stick with the simple, basic stuff that works every time you use it. Learn these firearms well, practice often, and know how to maintain them. Stock up on ammo. If or when the time comes, you will be prepared and that is why you decided to become a prepper.