What Are the Best Guns for Emergency Preparedness?

We often get asked about what type of gun we would recommend for emergency preparedness. The answer is a bit complicated. The short answer is that it depends on what you’re going to use the gun for. Is it for hunting food that you’d need in an emergency? Is it for self-defense? Each gun has different strengths and weaknesses and the gun you choose should be tailored to your specific needs.

Points to consider before you add a gun
Before you choose a gun for your preparedness needs, you’ll want to consider a few points:

What are the best guns for preparedness?What Needs Will You Have? Will you be using this gun for protection? For hunting? Just an intimidation factor? Whatever gun you choose will depend on what you’re going to use it for. For example, a rifle would be better for hunting during an emergency while a shotgun would be better for self-defense.

Popularity/Availability of Ammo. You might not be able to buy more ammo in an emergency. As a rare commodity, you’d need ammo that would be popular enough to fit in your gun. You’d also need a gun that takes a very popular type of ammunition.

How Much Ammunition the Gun Holds. How many rounds does the gun hold? This might affect your decision of gun because of the needs that you have.

Interchangeable Choke and Barrel. For shotguns, the choke of the gun is the tapered build of the gun that helps determine how much the shot will spread. The choke will determine the accuracy and range of the gun. An interchangeable choke will allow you to change the use of your gun from a longer range to a shorter range weapon. The barrel length also makes an impact on the range but more importantly makes it easier or more difficult to handle in close quarter like turning around corners in your home. Handling a 4-foot gun for self-defense to protect yourself from a perpetrator in your home will be impractical.

Safe Storage. How are you going to store the weapon? Is it going to fit inside of your 72-hour kit or would it be something you keep under your bed or in the top of your closet? Will the gun break apart and store in a different space? Depending on what you’re using the gun for and how readily available you need the gun, the answers might change. But always keep your gun in a safe place away from children. If you are going to own a gun, treat it with the respect it deserves & get proper gun safety training.

gun-1080231_1280Understand Your Weapon. No matter how many guns or how much ammunition you have, if you don’t understand how to use your gun and don’t have practice shooting it, it will be worthless. Or worse, your ignorance could cause injury or death for yourself, loved ones, or innocent people.

Which Gun Should I Own? Below we’ve listed the different types of guns you could consider acquiring for use in an emergency with some helpful details for each type of weapon. Please keep in mind a couple things:

• Prices for ammunition can change. The prices listed below are on the cheaper end. High-grade ammunition can be much more expensive than the prices listed below.
• *Range has many variables including: weather, specific ammo, specific gun, gun condition, visibility, and shooting experience to name a few. The best way to know the range of your gun is to use it.

High-Caliber Rifle (Price Range = $300 - $6,000 | Average Price = $800)
These weapons are designed for use in hunting large game like deer or elk from a longer distance. The ammunition is large, heavy, and travels very fast in order to take down larger game from far away with a high level of precision and accuracy.

Common Ammunition Practical Range Availability Price/Round
.30-30 300 yards* Common $1.25 (Oct 2012 was $1.00)
.30-06 500 yards* Common $1.25 (Oct 2012 was $1.00)
.308/7.62x51mm 500 yards* Very Common $1.10 (Oct 2012 was $0.90)

Tactical Rifle (Price Range = $400 - $4,000 | Average Price = $1,000)
These weapons are designed for self-defense and are typically semi-automatic (you can just keep pulling the trigger to fire without cocking or reloading). Usually these weapons will hold more rounds of ammunition than a typical hunting rifle and are commonly used with a high-capacity magazine. They are usually shorter than a hunting rifle and have a pistol grip and stock combo for easier handling in close quarters.

Common Ammunition Practical Range Availability Price/Round
7.62x39mm 500 yards* Very Common $0.40 (Oct 2012 was $0.25)
.223/5.56 300 yards* Very Common $1.00 (Oct 2012 was $0.25)

Low-Caliber Rifle (Price Range = $150 - $1,000 | Average Price = $300)
These weapons are designed for hunting smaller animals like rabbits. They have a much shorter range, but the ammunition is significantly less expensive than other weapons. With a little digging you can find rounds for close to a penny each.

Common Ammunition Practical Range Availability Price/Round
.17 HMR 300 yards* Uncommon $0.30 (Oct 2012 was $0.20)
.22 LR (Long Rifle) 100 yards* Very Common $0.20 (Oct 2012 was $0.05)

Click on the image to compare different kinds of rifle ammo:

click for more info on rifle ammo

Tactical Shotgun (Price Range = $200 - $2,000 | Average Price = $500)
Tactical shotguns like tactical rifles are intended for short-range self-defense. They usually have a shorter barrel and a choke designed to spread the shot as much as possible. Typically these are pump action or semi-automatic weapons. Barrels shorter than 18” or weapons shorter than 26” are illegal in the USA without proper registration. Another thing to consider is shotguns are the easiest ammunition to load yourself.

Common Ammunition Practical Range Availability Price/Round
12 Gauge 3” #1 30 yards* Common $0.80 (Oct 2012 was $0.50)
20 Gauge 3” #2 30 yards* Common $0.80 (Oct 2012 was $0.50)

Hunting Shotgun (Price Range = $200 - $2,000 | Average Price = $500)
Hunting shotguns are designed for shooting small game (especially birds). These weapons typically have a barrel 28” - 33” long. There are many choices for ammunition depending on your intended use.

Common Ammunition Practical Range Availability Price/Round
12 Gauge 3” Slug 75 yards* Uncommon $2.50 (Oct 2012 was $0.50)
12 Gauge 3” 00 Buckshot 50 yards* Common $1.30 (Oct 2012 was $0.80)
12 Gauge 3” #7 Birdshot 35 yards* Very Common $5.00 (Oct 2012 was $0.50)

Click on the image to compare different kinds of shotgun ammo:

click for more info on shotgun ammo

Pistol/Handgun (Price Range = $150 - $3,000 | Average Price = $500)
Pistols, like shotguns and tactical rifles are design for close-quarter self-defense. Handguns have the advantage that they can be legally concealed with a proper permit. Ammunition is cheaper than other weapons but still not as cheap as a low-caliber rifle.

Common Ammunition Practical Range Availability Price/Round
9mm 50 yards* Very Common $0.50 (Oct 2012 was $0.35)
.40 S&W 50 yards* Common $0.80 (Oct 2012 was $0.40)
.45 ACP 50 yards* Common $1.15 (Oct 2012 was $0.45)

Click on the image to compare different kinds of handgun ammo:

click for more info on handgun ammo

What are you packing?
So, what gun do you prefer? Comment below to tell us what kind of gun you prefer for emergency situations.

Don't forget to complete your preparation with MRE meals and other emergency supplies.

130 thoughts on “What Are the Best Guns for Emergency Preparedness?”

  • George Morris

    Two glaring problems with your chart. First the "practical" range of your high "caliber" rifles. The 30-30 has a practical range of about 200 yards. The 30-06 and 308 is about 400 to 500 yards. Only a military sniper could be effective to a range of about 800 - 1000 yards.

    Second, there was no mention of 38 special or 357 magnum in your pistol choices. 38 special ammo is very common and 357 is common. A 357 magnum will shoot both 357 and 38 special ammo, A 357 can have a range of 75 to 100 yards. A 38 special about 40 - 50 yards.

    George... thanks for your feedback. The chart was originally intended to be a MAXIMUM effective range in ideal conditions with a trained shooter. We've updated the chart with numbers that are more inline with the average Joe that would be shooting a gun. Thanks!

    • Bobby C.

      Mr. G. Morris
      .308 , Theoretically...Max. effect `killing` range is 800 yrds. That is guaranteed. Beyond that....there are a lot of depends & what if's ! As a former, Law Enforcement `Counter Sniper` Instructor, and as a Sierra 1 , SRT, for 13 yrs , bullet weight...environment ,
      shot placement , have a lot to do with what is going to occur.
      A tricked out rifle made to the shooter, will be another factor.
      The 30-06. is a fine round as well. But always remember this....
      "No matter what weapon you choose to use or carry"....Remember ; "Every man / woman , must know their limitations" ! What ever may be best suited for you or me , may not be for another. Bigger is not always better. Shot placement & control, usually work best.
      And in tight quarters....`Alley , parking lot , business, Mall....How fast can you evaluate , what is behind the suspect(s), before you may have to shoot. `POINT...If you do not hit a vital organ or bone. Will that round pass through?
      A round that may hit a rib , glance off, and then strike the heart & or , lung , spine. Or, if it should pass through. Where does it end up at ?
      Choose your ammo wisely ! Hand gun or shotgun or rifle , wisely.
      Critical Defense ammo , is recommended or even ball ammo , for particularly in the cold times of the year . Heavier , clothing is worn. Remember , there are a lot of `what If's` , when shooting in self-defense !
      Semper Fi

    • Joe

      Thank you for this. Not all of us are gun experts and you have explained our options very well. THANK YOU ALL

  • Jake

    What make and model is the hand gun in the first picture?

    The gun in the first image is a Beretta 92FS Billennium 9mm (9×19mm Parabellum)

  • RG

    To serve multiple needs with the fewest weapons, there are companion weapons ( same caliber in different weapons ). The advantage to a companion weapon is one caliber for both weapons and the need for only one type and size of ammo. The most common is the .22 pistol and numerous rifle offerings. A revolver and a lever action eliminates the need for extra magazines. For larger calibers the .357 magnum and .44 Magnum offer better knockdown for big game harvesting and are offered in handgun and rifle offerings as well. I reload to tailor my loads for accuracy. This inexpensive option to factory loaded ammo negates some of the issues of ammo availability and allows replenishing from components. Adding a shotgun to your choices can still meet companion criteria. There are current offerings in the over/under single shot realm. The shotgun barrel is on the bottom and the rifle barrel on top. Calibers range from .22 rim fire to high power rifle and the most common shotgun options are 12 and 20 gauge. Choice should be thought out according to end use and shooter proficiency with costs in the mix. Carry..holster for handgun and sling for rifle..should be considered as well. Simply put, a handgun is meant for close quarters and normally for self defense. A 4 to 6 inch barrel is well suited for this. A short barrel requires more practice due to a short sight radius. A longer barrel can get in the way and the accuracy is fine for target shooting but can be a distraction in close quarters. Seek out a qualified instructor, a local range for practice. treat every weapon as if it is loaded, deal with a reputable dealer, ask questions, follow the law. Every one has personal choices and preferences that may not be for you, but can help you make an informed choice. Many ranges offer firearms you can shoot on site before buying. You may find that .44 magnum is overkill and the recoil and muzzle blast is excessive for you. Hollywood action movies are not the best sources for making real life choices for firearms. This opinion is offered to provoke thought before action and to offer a different point of view. I hope it is helpful and not too lengthy.

  • ESPE


  • Rob

    The best gun, in my opinion, is the one you can handle and shoot safely. It doesn't matter what the caliber or make and model it is is, if you can't operated safely than it's worthless. With that said, I own 9mm Glock and XD. Yes many people will say that 9mm doesn't have enough stoping power, or it over penetrates. Both can be true but a Navy Seal Instructor said it best "2 in the chest and 1 in the head you won't be able to tell the difference". What I've noticed is that 9mm tend to leave the shelves fairly quick, at least where I live. I've shoot other calibers but some of the things that have turned me off is cost.

    Besides how inexpensive 9mm is, what really attracted me to 9mm is cost of operating. I don't have to break the bank to practice or protect my family. Secondly, if one gun breaks down I don't have to worry about having boxes upon boxes of ammo I can't use. What attracted me to Glock and XD is how easy they are to operate, point and shoot. Like anything else the more you practice the easier it becomes.

    Why a handgun vs. a shotgun? I have both but in tight spaces such as your typical apartment living I think handguns are easier to operate.I will say this, everyone has their own opinion on what is the best caliber for defense. When it comes down to it with practice andy caliber including a .22 can be lethal.

  • Allamakee County
    Allamakee County October 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Thanks for the nicely done review! A good quick reference on the subject. Nice work.

  • Joe

    This is an excellent overview of guns and calibers available.

    For all those who do not have a shotgun - think about that as a single "long gun" to own. A shotgun can be used with buckshot ammo (varying caliber of BB's packed into a shot shell) as well as slugs (a solid "bullet" packed in a shot shell) This allows the shotgun to be used for small game when loaded with buckshot. Loaded with slugs, the shotgun can be used for large game.

    I prefer a 12gauge shotgun as it allows for a good balance of firepower to manageability, it does have some recoil but that can be managed.

    I highly recommend a visit to a shooting range where they have different guns you can rent. This will give you the ability to see what gun fits your hand, as well as what caliber you can safely handle accurately. A gun is useless if you cannot hit what you are aiming at.


  • gunner

    For me the best overall round is the 5.56/.223 I have a hunting rifle chambered for .223 and a AR-15 that is chambered for 5.56 so it can shoot both. Then I just buy .223 ammo in bulk, save the brass and reload them. Sure I wont be shooting a deer at 1000 yards, but if you can only get 1000 yards close to a deer you got other problems.

    Combine that with either a 9mm or a .40 S&W and you've got a really nice setup. Can take care of nearly any situation with only 2 different kinds of ammo and both of the ammo are on the smaller end so the magazines tend to hold more and are cheaper.

    Of course real mean are archers.

  • Bill

    Glock mdl 22 holds 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber for a total of 16 rounds. Glock firearms are very reliable and used by many law enforcement agencies. Also, for each caliber, they manufacture compact and "baby glocks" for better concealment and the larger models magazine will fit in each smaller frame handguns.

  • KMR

    ESPE, it depends on your needs: most of the more popular .40 S&W sidearms have a 15-round magazine, but you may find them too bulky to use as a concealed carry weapon. The .40 weapons of choice for military and police are typically the Glock 22 or the Sig Sauer p226, both with standard 15-round mags. Each company has smaller concealed carry versions that hold 8-12 rounds. I personally love the Glock, but Glock's lack of a "traditional" safety

  • FnFal

    Sorry folks but your "Practical Range" for the ammo you have listed is way off. You need to revisit the distance listed for the perspective round.
    Also, NO Semi-Auto rifles are "Assault Weapons" You are merely reaffirming the incorrect propaganda of the main stream liberal media.
    Assault Weapons are ALL Full Auto, Select Fire.

  • KMR

    ESPE, it depends on your needs: most of the more popular .40 S&W sidearms have a 15-round magazine, but you may find them too bulky to use as a concealed carry weapon. The .40 weapons of choice for military and police are typically the Glock 22 or the Sig Sauer p226, both with standard 15-round mags. Each company has smaller concealed carry versions that hold 8-12 rounds. I personally love the Glock, but Glock's lack of a "traditional" safety requires more than the usual attentiveness - much quicker to shoot in a hurry, but you MUST keep it away from young, untrained hands.

  • Ralph Long

    In answer to the question above, the Glock Model 22 has a total capacity of 16 rounds when a round is in the chamber.

    I am a retired police firearms trainer and spent three years on active duty with the US Army Reserve teaching small arms. Much of this "best gun" information is very misleading. The 30-30 does not have a practical range beyond 300 yards due to bullet drop. In fact, unless one is a highly trained marksman with a telescopic sight, 600 yards is the practical limit of any rifle. A short .223/5.56mm assault rifle is much more practical for self-defense than shotgun. The 7.62X39 round is not practical beyond the same range. Both may be accurately fired to 400 yards by a trained shooter, have much less recoil than a 12 gauge shotgun(75yds with slugs/50 with buckshot), and is maneuverable in fairly confined spaces.


    12 ga Pump action shotgun. OO buck for hunting or protection, slug for hunting deer size game, #6 for turkey or grouse, rabbit, etc, #7.5 or #8 for dove or quail. Which do you want? A single projectile of .32 cal (or slightly larger) or 9 - 12 projectiles (OO buckshot) going down range at the same time. On the street or in the brush the 12 ga shotgun is KING.

  • KMR

    Well said, Gunner, though an inexpensive shotgun really rounds out the preparedness.

  • eldergod0515

    Great article, and I've been looking for graphics like this for months. But, the text in the graphics is unreadable, even when you copy into another application and enlarge.

  • Joseph

    I carry a variety of weapons, from my Ruger 9mm for personal defense to my shotgun for home defense. Being prepared could be the difference between missing more than one meal to saving your life. Do not take firearms lightly as they are a tool to be used much as any other, it is the person using the tool properly that makes it a good addition to your preparedness kit.

  • Doug

    One set of criteria you did not discuss is conceal/carry guns. If you want to carry for self defense, that is an important consideration.

    Ideally, people want to carry small/light weapons with sufficient stopping power and ammo capacity. There are many compromises and personal preferences in making a choice for CC.

  • Ola

    Just an intimidation factor? Intimidation is not a reason to have or use a gun. Never Point a gun at anyone for any reason if you are not prepared to fire it.

  • Richard

    Don't forget about some night gear ,and a bullet proff vest for your-self..Take a bow in your back yard and learn that now..

  • Bill

    I agree with the two caliber theory, but not with three weapons in a bug-out situation. The AR with a Leopold AR scope, manufactured specifically for the AR rifles are a great choice. Can hold a quarter inch grouping at three hundred yards. My preference in handgun has to be the .45acp. It does not hold as many rounds, but usually one or two rounds should get the job done. .40s&w would be second choice and 9mm third. However, 9mm would be found easier and they are manufacturing some very reliable stopping power ammo these days, plus it is cheaper to shoot.

  • tacticalm4

    Ahhh, I do believe that practical range on 7.62x39 is a bit far fetched @ 800 meters, nada, not happenin, nothing I've seen out of the AK's would be accurate over 200 meters tops. Have the barrel micro-grooved, different story. The practical range on the AR's should be 500 meters not 400 meters. I shot these rifles for many years and have enough experience to know....

  • rc

    9mm semi auto and .357 magnum sidearms, 35 remington,30-30 wnchester for longer range big game, 12 guage and 20 guage for birds and m1 carbine with mags welded together for protection, rifled 12 guage with slugs for closer big game, and a few 22 long rifles scoped for smaller game and practice for myself and family. Probably close to 20,000 rounds locked up at all times. I got into archery so I also keep 5 bows and one crossbow ready to go at all times 4 recurve and one compound. this wasn't intentional for prepardness, just the way I was raised not knowing why, only figured out why after my father died why he always kept us stocked up. All in one place ready to lock up in the truck camper that takes 15 minutes to secure to the truck (maybe less if I bust my hump) that is capable of being off the grid at a minunium of 30 days at a time for my family of 4. And solar so with just electric indefinatly.... hoping I am prepared more then others when and if the time comes and we will be in better shape then most.

  • PJ

    The best advice to give someone who doesn't own a gun is to get a gun that is easy to use. Then practice shooting it to become proficient with it. A revolver like a .38 is easy to shoot, doesn't jam like an automatic and ammo isn't expensive. For a long gun, a 12 guage pump shotgun is the best weapon. Easy to use, and it'll do most anything you want. The most important point here is this: Know how to use the gun you choose. Practice and shoot it to become familiar with it.

  • JR

    While I appreciate The Ready Store in trying to educate their customers, certain topics (such as firearms) should be referred to experts and not glossed over in such a fashion. Stick to your areas of expertise (food/water storage, etc), and encourage customers to seek out professional, personal help in selecting firearms for their needs. This article leaves much to be desired.

  • Dave Koonce

    Excellent article. May I suggest that you do not need five weapons each firing different ammunition types. This makes resupply difficult and more expensive. Pick one or two weapons that fit your needs, a shotgun and a rifle and stock up on ammunition. If you later get a pistol, match that calibre to the rifle. Say .22 or .357. The bottom line is think before you buy. It will save you money and possibly your life in the long run.

  • Irish-7

    You are correct in stating that situation dictates the type of weapon to have. A person, or family living in an urban setting will need different guns that the same family living on a farm. That family in the city may be facing a larger, more violent threat as they attempt to "Bug Out" to a safer environment. Consequently, they may need an assault rifle or combat shotgun and an automatic pistol. A family living in a rural setting may be comfortable with a bolt action rifle or hunting shotgun and a revolver. I recommend that preppers have a battery of firearms. I would tell folks that are just starting emergency preparedness to get the following guns in this order: 1)Shotgun- biggest caliber that you can handle, .12 or .20 gauge. 2) Semi-auto .22 Long Rifle like the Ruger 10-22. 3) Handgun - .45 Auto (city), .357 MAG (rural) 4) Assault Rifle M4/AR-15/Mini-14. 5)Bolt Action .308/30-06 or lever action 30-30.

  • Grinder

    As was metioned in the beginning, the answer to this question "depends on what you're going to use the gun for", but also on who's handling the gun. For example, my wife is petite and has small hands. So we wanted to get her a pistol that fit her hands, that did not have a lot of recoil, and that wasn't overly complicated to operate. We tried automatics, but we found she couldn't rack the slide on most of the small automatics that fit her hand because of the spring tension. So we switched to a revolver, but found that the really light revolvers (usually with a titanium frame), like the Smith & Wesson Airweight, transferred a lot of recoil to your hand. Eventually we settled on a Smith & Wesson .32 revolver, which fit her hands, did not have a lot of recoil, and was extremely simple to operate (just pull the trigger). We went through several purchases, and subsequent sales, before finding the right gun for her, so if you want to avoid the same cost and aggravation this entails, I highly recommend going to a store with a range that lets you test fire any gun you're considering buying.

  • gg

    I have a Stoeger 2000 12g tactical shotgun.
    2 AR15 556 rifles WITH a CMMG 22lr conversion system.
    2 40cal. semiautos including a Glock G22 conversion to 22lr
    A Walther P22 backup.

    12g, 556/223, 40 and 22lr.

    flexibility, redundancy.

  • Floyd Carter

    Side by side or over and under 12 ga shotgun with
    one or more insert for 22lr, 9mm, 38 special,
    44 mag, 45 Long Colt.

  • Bob

    A short .223/5.56mm assault rifle + a 9mm handgun.
    I think you are will prepared.
    Please make sure you know how to use it and practice shooting often.
    (Often mean may be every month)

  • WestTexasBirdDog
    WestTexasBirdDog October 22, 2012 at 2:31 am

    There are lots of reasons to choose lots of different weapons. This is the reason we have so many blogs like this one.

    The information and advice here is good, but I have a couple of items to throw in. First... the best weapon is the weapon you can get your hands on when you need a weapon. Second... the best weapon is the one you train with, and I don't mean an annual trip to the range to run through a box or two of ammo.

  • Steve S.

    Anyone that has a 30-30 with a 1200 yard practical range I have a purple unicorn I am willing to trade you for it!

  • Zack

    I have to say this is one of the better articles written on the subject. I think for those who have had little to no exposure to firearms this is a really good resource.

    My personal opinion, if you are someone starting from scratch, no firearm experience at all, and you're already stressed (both in mind and budget!) over prepping in general, you can spend a lot of money on firearms and firearm related things. So I would start with a rifle in .22LR like a ruger 10/22. The rifles are cheap, the ammo is cheap (and light if you are prepping for a bug out scenario), you can get larger capacity magazines or stick with the reliable 10 shot rotary, but most importantly you can afford to practice practice practice. You can put back 5000 rounds for around 300 bucks, and it's affordable to shoot week after week.

    When you add a rimfire scope (not vital but helpful) a sling, a couple of extra magazines, a cleaning kit and the ammo - for around 750 you have a reliable, well accessorized rifle with a good ammo cache that you can start building your skills with.

  • Ken

    As stated above the .30-30 isn't practical beyond 400 yards, which is pushing it. The .30-06 and .308 are equal in their practical distances, around 1,000 yards. You've got it wrong on the .223. It's practical distance is 600 yards as I can hit a man-sized target at that distance. Having the right scope is very important. I'd recommend the Trijicon fixed power scopes at 4X or 6X with a bullet drop compensator reticle. You really don't want to be twisting your elevation knob back and forth while under stress. Here's my pick for firearms, 1911 .45 ACP, Mossberg 590 in 12 gauge and a Daniel Defense M4V4 or V5 in .223.

  • Ken

    You'll find a different opinion from every gun enthusiast, but a couple of things about the 7.62X39 or "Russian shorts" ammo - 800 yards range? I don't think so. It has an old design and pretty bad ballistic coefficient and at about 400 yards the rounds are usually tumbling - try 'em at 400 and I bet you'll see some start to "keyhole" - that's not a good thing.

    What *IS* good about them is if you have an AK-47 or one of the GOOD former Eastern-bloc gunmakers that put out ones like the SAR-1...well, these rifles are ABSOLUTELY the ones to take over an AR-15 simply due to reliability issues. With no gunsmiths around, unless you're a hobbyist/gunsmith the AR-15 will need maintenance that the AK-47 simply doesn't. The Taliban tie knots in the bootlaces, dip them in motor oil, and run them through the barrel and that's "good ENOUGH" to keep them working. If you're gonna have a single rifle that's gonna get dirty, rained on, muddy, grimy, and have some difficulty in keeping clean, the AK-47 will always go *BANG* when you put in a round and pull the trigger. Inside 300 or so yards, it beats an AR-15...over the LONG haul. AR-15s are going to have an edge in accuracy - as long as they're kept clean - and in lower recoil, faster follow-up shots.

    However, if you hit someone with a Russian short, follow-up shots are usually overkill. And there's the added bonus of a possible "two-fer" if you have 2 zombies lined up for a shot with the 7.62's.... :D

  • Sonny

    I am former military and weapons trainer. I can shoot my 22LR with accuracy up to 300 plus yards and can shoot continous fire without my barrel jumping up from recoil and hit my target with multiple rounds. This cannot be done with the same accuracy of speed with .223 or 7.65 x 39. I can also bug out with two thousand rounds of 22's so how many can you bug out with AR's & SKS's. 22LR will also take down a deer, elk, bear as well as a rabbit if survival became the norm. However rim fire in most states are illegal to shoot a large game animal except for domestic cows or pigs for butcher which is what we use. For novices get a good 22LR with magazine. No matter what you shoot with a 22 LR the effects will be the same on the receiver.

  • Richard

    For me, it would be a good intermediate caliber carbine, a 4"-5" barreled service caliber handgun and a light, accurate .22LR rifle.

  • Sonny

    I am curious! With all these recommendations for different weapons how many can you shoot at one time. Get one pistol for close ranger personal protection and I suggest a 22 LR with magazine!

  • Ken

    Everyone makes some good points...I'd just like to add that it would be a good idea to have a .22LR rifle and a .22LR handgun. They're inexpensive to find a decent used one (~$125 for a rifle, ~$250 for a handgun USED) - simply because while the .22s cannot be reloaded (rimfires can't reload) the ammo is cheap, plentiful, and a good shot placement will take down pretty much anything (even bears if you hit them in the medulla or anywhere in the head). I'll be willing to bet that when all the .223/5.56 ammo is long gone, the last weapons firing will be using .22LR....I'd say add at least one - even if it's a pistol - and keep it in your bug-out bag. Even non-shooters/scared women can be taught to use them as they aren't loud and have negligible recoil, so it's a great choice for use for a person that has never shot a gun in crunch time to use as it is only marginally more intimidating to the brand-new shooter than a BB-gun is.

  • KDS9601

    I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes my wrists aren't very strong. I found the 40 and the 9mm have a kick I am not really comfortable with. Would a .380 be a good choice for a female with the above issues in a self-defence situation?

  • Kevin Thomas

    Well the simple answer to this is the one you have with you! Many will tell you a AR-15 style is the best but they are expensive and do require maintenance and training. I'm sure some will say a Glock 9mm but a hand gun has its limitations. Shotguns are a great choice they are cheap ammo is cheap and can be used for defense and hunting as wel. Also shotgun shells can be reloaded by hand with little or no training. I have heard the argument that a "air rifle" is the best because you can carry so much ammo with you, hunt quietly, they are inexpensive, and are deadly at close range, the problem with this type of gun is that they are single shot making the rate of fire slow to say the least. If i can only have one(horrors) then In my opinion a shotgun fits the bill and a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500 with a variety of ammo.

  • K

    I have deer and rabbits in my area, was thinking a .22 rifle, too small? Don't want overkill (no pun intended) just enough to get me dinner.

  • Hank

    Highest capacity handgun that is reasonably priced and quality construction is made by Springfield Arms....look it up.
    12 gauge pump shotgun with extended tube. Assault Rifle AR 15 or AR 10 if you can afford it. Bolt action .308 and your Handgun should be 9mm or 40 cal. All of these rounds are used by the police and military and will be stockpiled.

  • Shawn

    Great job ready store! I appreciate the simple article that brings to our attention the need to defend our property and hunt. When it comes to guns, its funny how everyone likes to pretend like they are experts. If you are an expert (most who think they are, aren't) then good for you - write your own article. The Ready Store is just getting us thinking. Who cares if ranges are too generous or other slight details are off... the purpose is to help us prepare and they submitted a well-rounded article. Keep up the great articles.

  • West Texas Twister
    West Texas Twister October 22, 2012 at 4:08 am

    "the best gun for emergency preparedness" is the one you have practiced with and are comfortable/willing to use. I read through and agree with many of the writers. If you are new to shooting, start with a .22lr rifle. Find a handgun you like and can shoot, 9mm, .38/.357, .40,.45 all are common and very shootable. A handgun is for personal defense and for fighting your way to a long gun.
    A center-fire rifle for most is applicable for security and hunting, but you must practice. I have several large caliber rifle that shoot better than I do, but I practice tactical shooting with a .223/5.56 with a red-dot. It is NOT for long range shots. If you have a .30-30 that you love and can shoot great - "beware of the man that only has one rifle, it knows it well".
    Shotguns - 12 or 20, up to you and your family. Even my 5'2" 125 lb 18 yr old daughter can handle a 12ga. When shooting clays, she'll switch shoulders to shoot more birds - just say'n. I like interchangeable barrels so I can adj to the situation.

    You must have situational awareness: Where do you live, where will the shots go if I miss, What are the laws in my state, county, city, What is my moral obligation? It is better to over-prepare, so you can help your neighbors. Know your neighbors and work together. There is strength in numbers and having knowledge. Help them be prepared, share the responsibility, leverage their strengths, talents and skills to make everyone safer.

  • Stargazer

    Retired city dweller. Have been "prepared" since 1965.
    Fire Arms:
    22 cal. rifle (J.C.Higgens lever action)
    12 ga. pump action (Mossberg 500A 18 in & 28 in bbl)
    .308 semi auto rifle (PTE-91 GI Rifle)
    .357/.38 S&W Revolver (Model 66)
    1000 rounds per gun
    Range practice at least once per month w/each

    Be Safe,

  • gunner

    @KMR Of course how silly of me to forget ... a good old 12 ga. ... I have one and use it often (actually my first gun) definitely a good gun to have.

    @K like others have said if your a good shot you could take down bigger game but often its illegal to use on the hunt. for small game its great and a perfect weapon for beginners to practice practice practice. After all what good is any weapon if you cant use it effectively.

  • Moe

    I'd have to take either my highly modified AK-47, or my Mossberg Model 464 SPX.

  • Bilbo

    Thanks for the overview. Well written and pretty informative. Plenty of points to get you thinking!

  • Doomsday Patriot
    Doomsday Patriot October 22, 2012 at 5:47 am

    I personally have lot of weapons and a ton of ammo but for the average person: A pistol in probably .40. Since the guberment is ordering so much there should be a lot laying around. A rifle in the .30 cal range. .308, 30.06 would be good. For those with budget constrants a mosin 91/30 in 7.62x54R is a great weapon. Then of course a 12 gauge shot gun. Don't forget non firearm weapons. A good high velocity airgun and either a bow or a crossbow. Why waste ammo when you don't need to.

  • Jase

    I don't know who this blog writer is, but he does us NO service whatsoever with his DNC/Obamist/ChuckieShumer loose use of legally incorrect terms. Rant? Nope. I'm trying to keep you out of Federa; prison. No, I'm NOT joking, and this is not a case of me being a nitpicking little creature.

    What LOOKS like an 'assault rifle,' but is only semiautomatic fire, W/O 'selective fire/full auto fire, is NOT an assault rifle. It's just a light carbine that is okay for hunting deer-sized game animals. There are other names for this to look for, such as 'modern sporting rifle,' 'AR-pattern' and suchlike.

    Important because: You innocently show friends your new $1400 deer rifle, and one of 'em(not much of a 'friend' ey?) calls the police, or Heaven forfend - the American Gestapo, the BATFE, who shoot their way into your house at 0400 shoot your dog or children, cuff you, all over a - legal semiautomatic light deer rife that is incapable of full-auto fire, and at best you have to mortgage your house to pay over $100,000 in legal fees to stay out of prison. Assuming the idiots didn't burn down your house 'as an unforseen result of your ' ' resisting lawful service of a Federal warrant'. ' Don't smirk - it's happened more than once . . .

    Okay, rant or not: over. I've done my due diligence toward you.

    1st gun: .22LR pistol or rifle. Which one depends on your personal preference, and possibly whether you live in the country or city(where some folks are distant from reality and freak if they see ANY 'weapon.' Pistol, and a legal concealed carry permit there, OK? And, remember, keep it out of sight, whether you are in your house, or outside it. That's just a part of the covenant your make with your state(Georgia in my case). As in, "Peace, it's wonderful . . ."

    2nd gun: whichever .22 you didn't buy for the first one. Easy. First reason for these two: NOTHING's cheaper than .22LR ammo. - You WERE planning on getting training, and PRACTICING, weren't you? THAT IS THE ONLY WAY YOU EVER HIT A TARGET, FOOD ANIMAL, OR BAD GUY. (Rule One, in a gunfight: Have a gun. Rule Two: Same as Rule One. Rule Three: Hits count, misses mean you starve, or die/enter slavery. These rules are just facts. Not opinions, and thus not open to argument.

    3rd gun: Let's extend your effective range, just a little more: 12gauge shotgun. This gives you a very wide increase in your ability to secure game for feeding your family, out to about 40yds. or so. Others can make longer shots like geese, or fire stabilized, saboted slugs out to 100- or even 200yds, with one or two special slug rounds, you will not. Yet. Practice.

    4th gun: Light rifle, or 'carbine'(kinda similar, both terms mean 'fairly short-range rifles that aren't going to beat you like a dog with the recoil.') These days, you have a wider range of choices than before the Vietnam era of civilian firearms. So. A light lever action(like a .30-30), bolt-action or semiauto(just means 'automatic loading, semiautomatic firing.) The semiauto can be a civilian hunter's traditional shape like a Remington or Browning, etc., OR . . . you can brave the new world of AR-pattern modern sporting rifles, which may look cool(and, well, ugly) or be your choice because they fire standard military ammo, in case that ever becomes a plus in the Bad Days - whatever that may mean. Lever actions(like an old .30-30) were the most popular up to WWI, then bolt actions up to WWII, then civilian-pattern semis up through Vietnam, then the black-gun-looking AR-patterns after that era. They all have their points, and veterans who may advise you on choices tend to lean toward the pattern they fought with(but you already figured that out from my descriptions, didn't you?)

    Each has their points, with the older ones tending to be perceived as 'less-threatening,' whatever that means. (I see a hole in the end of a funny steel pipe - I tend to get reaall quiet and polite, and worry about the nomenclature later, but that's just me.

    5th gun: Either a battlerifle, AR-something or otherwise(The legal, semi-auto only M14 pattern is called a 'M1A,' from Springfield Armory, Inc.(the Reese family. Nice folks.) Or a hunting rifle in a longer-range cartridge, bolt, semi, whathaveyou. Please, don't get some unknown, touted, SkyBoomer9000 kinda cartridge. You'll never find ammo for it, or it'll cost four bucks a round, or it'll have massive, stupid recoil that would crush a pygmy. This should just be a nice, comfortable-shooting round that will take you out to 300yds. or more. If you're not good enough to be a sniper, and it's wartime, that's all you need. And, even 'if,' do you really want to shoot an elk 1975meters away, and then have to hike over a mile and a half just to dress out the carcass - - and then have to hump it 2km, AND the distance back to camp?

    Good news: You don't have to worry about the rifles/light ammo/big game ammo choice right now, 'cause you're still training on the .22 pistol, and the .22 rifle, right.

    First, have fun with the light stuff, get good, and only then worry about the heavy/military gear.

    Take a deep breath here, let it out halfway(yes, just like in Basic Rifle Marksmanship. . .), relax and have a great time with all this. (Folks, the sneaky secret about the shooting sports is that it's more fun than anything in public shy of flying a high-performance fighter jet. If you don't see that yet - join the NRA. Join your local NRA-sanctioned rifle and pistol club.)

    Have fun.

  • mrs julie a neary
    mrs julie a neary October 22, 2012 at 9:43 am

    NO GUN is more suitable then you are less likely to be shot by a NON gun holder

    GUNS can be dangerous and i dont think enough people know what safe with them is and intimidation

    therapy use a symbol

    its unlawful to aim at someone in a threatening manner or should be
    and i threaten them back with attempted murder if i should have a stroke or heart attack
    just sitting there

    but they dont like it much !

    HARM to others animal or mammal is NOT safe

  • Tom Kelly

    Yo Ready Store: Yea I agree, please don't use the BS term"Assault Rifles". If some comes at you with a pitchfork, is that a Assault Pitchfork? This is a media pimp term, for sensationalism gathering!

    I would suggest to go to the library and get a copy of "Mel Tappens...Survival Guns" It is old but true in every sense, and a great primer for those not trained in the art of weaponry and their use. It covers all aspects of handgun, rifle and shotgun choices and the "why's & where's". I also took issue with the ranges listed for the weapons listed.

    Other than that, good article for newbies.

    Stay Safe, Tom

  • Rowdy

    Good article, and lots of intelligent comments!

    The only thing I would add, is that a .357 magnum revolver with a 6 inch barrel, makes one heck of an all around gun! Reliable, low maintenance, powerful enough for deer sized game, as well as protection, and as mentioned in the article, a popular caliber.

    I suspect that most folks who store food, also tend to be "gun nuts" like me, so having only one to choose from is an unlikely situation. If face with that decision, a good quality .357 would be my choice!

  • jsutton

    Great article,I have hosen a 12 gauge shotgun as my primary self defence weapon, loaded with 00 buck shot it is a force to be reconed with. I back up the shotgun with a glock 17 and an AR 15. For hunting I have chosen a 22 long rifle. The reason for this choice is several fold; a 22 long rifle will, with proper shot placement, kill nearly any animal on the North American continent. In addition to its capabilities it has a comparibly soft report, I like the idea of keeping my where abouts a secret. This can be even more enhanced with a supressor, yes they are legal to own, you just have to do a little homework and have a spotless record.I really liked the comments on the availability of ammo to fit your chosen weapon. I call it the Walmart rule. If I can't buy ammo for a gun at any Walmart I walk in to I will not buy the gun. I believe in hoarding as much ammo as I can afford, if I don't need it I can use it to bater with. I keep telling my freins that the next currency will be 12 gauge shot gun shells. Stay prepared. Jeff

  • Pat B

    I have limited myself to one pistol and one long arm if I have to do a long walk somewhere.

    My carry choices are a Sig 226 in 9mm with a 22LR mod kit (slide, barrel, & mag), and a 12 gauge Mossy 590A1 with a variety of ammo.

    This gives me the serious take down power of the 12 gauge and the flexibility of a 9mm and 22LR pistol. I feel the shotgun gives me more versatility than a rifle would. If I am traveling with and can equip a second person, then the pistol would stay the same but the second long arm would be a 16" AR-15 platform.


    I carry 100 rounds of 9MM mixed ball and RangerT +P+ all in mags.

    I carry 100 Aguila 60 gram rounds for subsonic hunting, 250 rounds of CCI Stinger for longer shots, and 50 rounds of shot shell.

    12 Gauge
    And lastly, 50 mixed shells of Hornady SST slugs, PDX1 shells, and Ranger 00 buck.

  • Puff357

    The specific weapon is not as important as the trinig behind it. A man well trained with a small caliber pistol can take out someone with a speior weapon and less training. Get any weapon you can and learn how to ue it.

  • Granny

    If it gets too the point that we are all carrying our weapons for self-defense and hunting, who is going to enforce the "no .22lr" for big game? Use what you have and use it well. Good article.

  • Toby Smith

    The correct gun is the one you have, and know how to use. I intend to use a civilian semi-automatic (NOT a full auto selectable Assault rifle, get it right!) M14 in a 308 calibre. Covers all the emergency needs, and is very reliable I have an AR-15 in my trunk all the time, so it might sneak along too. I prefer a 45 ACP for emergency use, because of it's stopping power and reliability. My daily carry is a 380 Kel Tek with Glaser rounds and a Crimson Trace Laser site. But to the point of this post: KNOW YOUR GUN, practice with it, and know how to maintain it, or it is just so much dead weight and a waste of effort!

  • Jeff

    I have a good many weapons, ARs, shotguns,22s, etc. But I am liking my new combo best, the Ruger 357 magnum sidearm and the Ruger 77/357 bolt action rifle. Both will fire 357 rounds or 38 special. Same round in the rifle or sidearm, with stoping power with the 357 and train with the cheaper 38 special.

  • jonbouy

    But, if you could only have ONE gun, what would it be? If I can pick obviously I would take several, but what if I could only take one, or ended up with one? What would be the best all around, considering most of the obvious uses/questions, hunting, self-defense, is quiet an issue, is it better to be common caliber or unusual (others won't want your supply) & reliability? Of course there are geographical influences, but in general what would be the better all-purpose firearm?

  • oldbookwormman

    For concealed carry, I favor the stainless steel Walther PPK. It is not a powerful gun what with a caliber of .380, but close up it gets the job done with its seven rounds. For a semi-automatic it is very reliable despite it's late 1920's design. A leather pocket holster keeps it from moving around while walking. I am also partial to the .40 caliber Glock. It fits nicely under a coat (or even in a pocket of a large coat) during cold weather. As for home defense I prefer the pistol grip pump action 12 gauge Winchester Model 1300 shotgun. There is no wooden stock to get in the way, and the gun can hold six rounds as well as one in the tube. Being a pistol grip, there is minimal recoil as it goes through the hand and forearm, with no shoulder recoil (which can be painful) with a wooden stock.

  • Slim

    Most of these blogs can fit a variety of needs,and I wouldn't argue about any of them.But my next choice will be a Savage o/u .22Mag over a 20Ga.Shotgun,Carbine sized. Just a thought..

  • Fran Fender

    Are you saying that only a rifle is the best gun?

  • Paul

    Wow! That was an awful lot of information for what seems like such a simple question. Please allow me to add my two cents, just two simple considerations.

    1. If you plan to use a firearm for intimidation purposes, someone will take it away from you and kill you and everyone you love with it.

    2. The only gun that will do you any good, is the gun you have with you. Having the perfect gun in the safe at home won't do you any good if you have to run for your life from your workplace.

    3. Get a gun you can use effectively, not one that scares you, or one that's uncomfortable for you, or hard to load, or not as accurate as you'd like. If you're comfortable with it, you'll practice, and you'll keep it with you.

    Hey, that was 3! Sorry...

  • Ian

    The Taurus PT 24/7 9mm hold 17 rounds. is tremendously a accurate . reliable as can be. easy to take down and clean. I have put rounds on a silhouette target at 100 yards! Very user friendly also. My lady is a new shooter and picked up this gun and became very proficient in just a few trips to the range. Plus the price is great. I bought mine for $300.

  • Barry

    For years my job was behind the counter at what is arguably the largest gun dealer (by volume) in the US answering questions and helping people choose the right gun for everything from hunting to target shooting to home defense. There is no one gun that is the best for everything but you can cover most of your needs with four guns.

    First off get a good .22LR rifle. My preference is bolt action but there are a number of great semiautos, or lever actions if you choose (loved my Marlin 39A). This will be used for small game, the bread-and-butter of emergency situation hunting. Top it with a high quality optic in 4x, 6x or 2.5-8x magnification.

    Second, get a good bolt action rifle in either .308 or .30-06 for medium to large game. Same as above, top it with a quality optic in either 2.5x9x, 3-9x or 3.5-10x. Rifle brand is up to you but I tend to go with Ruger or Winchester. Remington is good also.

    Third gun should be a 12ga. Pump shotgun with an interchangabl

  • robert

    i use a 38 special/357 mag gp100 revolver and a rossi lever action rifle in the same cal its good out to 100 yards and everyone in my famley can handle them and ammo is everywhare

  • J.D. Fleming

    .22 rimfire becomes wet very easy, it does not accept the enviroment as well as modern centerfire, so water tight transport is important and not difficult, the 12 gauge pump, is the first weapon I get and the last one I will keep. the shotgun is not a 2nd amendment protected weapon, it is not considered a militia weapon, so it could be banned with a stroke of a pen.Some combo rifle/shotgun weapons are around, back in the day, when i was a kid, mountain folk like the trapper rifles, that had a shotgun barrel and a rifle barrel over that, giving them the ability to use either in a split second. single shot, but handy.

  • Texas Red Neck

    I love these articles. Some have derided TRS for speaking of that which is not their field of expertise, but the article has served its purpose, which is to get people thinking and talking (writing). Oh yeah, and to expose all the internet commando blow hards.

    Bill, I particularly like the 1/4 inch group at 300 yards with an AR-15. I'd like to see that. That would be 0.08MOA and would produce a group (theoretically) of less than 1 inch at 1000 yards.

    A couple of questions in the postings that went unanswered. The pistol in the first picture is a Beretta Billennium.


    As for what weapon holds the most .40 cal? Well an H&K MP5/10 can hold 30 in a mag with a cyclic rate of 800/min.....ok. overkill but you get the point. Practically speaking a pistol in .40 will hold 10-15 rounds in the mag.

    Since the article asked "what is the best gun for emergency preparedness?" I take that to mean singular ("the") and emergency, meaning natural or man-made disaster. Lest I be labled as a prick - too late, there were lots of great observations and points made in these posts. For me, I would be hard pressed not to choose a basic 870 Remington 12 ga as the all around weapon to have for the average person with little or no training and modest disposible income. It has versitility in ammunition choices, is readily available, and idiot proof in its operation and accuracy. You can hunt pretty much anything with it (out to 100 yards with the new sabot slugs).

    For someone with a little more money and more training resources, A nice handy AR carbine is also tough to beat and has great versitility along with a higher magazine capacity for dispatching multiple zombies at close range.

    As many have pointed out: Practice. A weapon in the hands of an un trained person just begs to have it taken away and used on themselves.

    Lastly, always remember the 4 rules:
    1. assume every weapon is always loaded and treat it as such
    2. Never point a weapon at anything you do not wish to kill or destroy
    3. Never put your finger in the trigger until your sights are on target
    4. Know your target and what is beyond it.

  • Puff357

    A 223/12ga over/under with a 223 to 22 LR chamber adapter, a 357 mag revolver with a 6" or longer barrel, and a high capacity 9mm. Long guns are single shot but you have time at distances. The medium range has six shots with good power. The short range can have up to 20 shots with quick change mags. And all the rounds are very common.

  • Le Cerf Agile

    This type of article should run on a monthly basis. Very informative for the beginner and with some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism from the more experienced contributors, could turn into a cornerstone for choosing a gun. I especially like the caliber pictures being included to show the true size variations.
    I agree with many comments about losing the popular media buzz words. It is a gun, plain and simple.
    A gun magazine article from my childhood suggested that the basic sportsman's cabinet should contain a .22LR rifle and revolver, a 12g shotgun, a .30 caliber rifle, and a .38/.357 revolver. I would add a distinction in the .30 as I would have both a 30/30 lever action and a .308 or 30/06 bolt action rifle. Elmer Keith suggested that we own a .44 revolver and who are we to disagree? You might as well get the .44 lever action or Ruger 99/44 if you can find one.

    Good article and thank you for taking on a subject as difficult as religion and politics.

  • Mirage

    I recommend the following,

    A Rifle and pistol chambered in 22LR (A ruger 10/22 and S&W 22A are reasonable choices)

    A Battle Rifle of some type, I prefer HK91 .308/51 Nato or a Ruger Gunsite scout (.308 Winchester)can work. Ideally scoped.

    The Springfield XD in S&W .40 is an excellent choice. A really quality weapon price right.

    Get a 1600 rds. of 22LR and 200 rds of the others, a decent cleaning kit, and 2-4 clips for each gun and you should be good to go.

    You should not need much else excepting in a more urban environment.

  • Shawn p

    I have a Mossberg 590 pump for home defense (stopping power), a Springfield Xd 9mm for a handgun (capacity and availability of ammo), a couple of .22 rifles for small game as well as an air rifle ( super cheap for small game) and a 8mm Mauser for big game.

    If you want to survive though you'd better have a .22, there's not enough big game and the report gives away your position more.

  • Jerimiah Jetson
    Jerimiah Jetson October 26, 2012 at 3:56 am


    I agree with FnFal, you hit the nail on the head with political bull! Assault rifles are full auto, high capacity and SHORT, i.e. Folding AK-47 w/75rd drum, As for ranges, shooters are like fingerprints, one may be able to shoot a duck out of the air with a 7.62x51mm and others may not be able to hit the barn, so effective ranges are totally up for discussion. Lets just pray that all this will result in a nice picnic and a day of target practice and not what i feel may be the ultimate end of what we all take for granite!!

    Jerimiah Jetson, Montana

  • Don

    Wanted to comment on Greg Morris's take on the 357. Though it may be common in some respects,it is not commonly used and or selected as a self defense gun. Recoil is a bit brutal,limited round capacity and 38 special and 357 ammo is more on the expensive side. 9mm is the most common round and the glock 17,19,26 would be the best choice for self defense because of the ammo availablitiy,cost and the glock besides being a tried and true performer spare parts would be easier to come by and the 17,19 mags will fit in the 26 so you could own a 26 and you could barter/buy a 17 or 19 mag for added capacity.

  • Mike

    I think everyone should have a gun in their emergency kit. My favorite gun for protection is a 45 ACP. Everyone also should have a 12 gage shot gun and a .22 rifle.

  • Chris24

    I have pondered this question since my youth and personally chose the route of what works for me. Being able to control what you may have and use it proficiently is of the utmost importance I think, feel, believe and have experienced. Also, indeed a bow is also very important I support - because having a firearm without ammo is pointless. Learn your skills, practice and improve, and don't shoot unless you have to. You have the best weapon ever made, it rides behind your eyes and between your ears. Use that first! " )

  • woody

    For SHTF situations - Shoot what you feel comfortable handling, and look towards handling common rounds (9mm, 38/357, 40, 45 (in pistol/revolver); 22LR, 223/5.56, 308win, 30.06 (in rifle); 20ga, 12ga (in shotgun). In shotgun, look towards versatility - Remington & Mossberg make shotguns with interchangeable barrels so you can go long OR short. IF you choose a mag-fed firearm, don't forget to get spare mags!

    BECOME FAMILIAR with your firearm! KNOW how to replace at least the basic small parts (pins & springs), and get some! Learn to make & use alternatives for solvents and lubes.

    And God bless you 2nd Amendment guys/gals! Of ALL the Amendments in our Bill of Rights (only 10 of them), there is only ONE that specifically prohibits government interference - the 2ND! WORDS MEAN THINGS!!!

    Lot's of good advice here! What was the source for most of your info?

  • Sonny

    Opinions are like belly buttons. everybody has one and most believe they are experts. Being former military, former police officer and hunters safety trainer I like to keep it simple stupid for myself. In case of WROL I prefer the 22LR. It will take down small animals but also very capable of taking down large animals (illegal in some states) in the event there is no law and will also take down a person should it be necessary to defend yourself. I can carry a thousand rounds of 22lr with no problem can you carry 1000 rounds of higher caliber weapons? You might but you will not carry anything else. People who store and pack large caliber weapons are under the misguided notion that they can defend a home or area. There is no such thing as a defensive position for a long time. I pack a 9mm Ruger side arm and for close contact 12 gauge pump. Keep your weapons the same to share ammo if necessary with others in your family or group. Here is the question: what would kill you quicker a baseball bat in the head or a hammer? They both will kill! So will a 22 LR. Shooting a 22 LR long range has no recoil for the second shot to be on target will take little effort. Higher caliber weapons recoil and pull up setting the stage to take time to re-aim at your target. RAMBOitis is just Hollywood and not the real world. Keep it simple!

  • Irish-7

    Good point about the question requiring a single answer, Texas Red Neck! I listed multiple firearms, myself. On that note, if you can only afford one weapon, I think that the revolvers chambered for .45 Long Colt and .410 Gauge Shot Shells may fit several different roles. The Taurus Judge (5-shot .45LC/ .410GA) and Smith & Wesson Governor (6-shot .45LC/ .410GA + .45 ACP!) offer the versatility of shot for hunting small game and large, heavy bullets for defense or large game. You would have to be close, though. I am compelled to ask "mrs julie a neary" (her punctuation, not mine): What are you talking about?

  • John W

    For what it's worth you need two guns (one a backup) I recommend a Glock (any caliber) strictly because it's the most reliable gun on the market for dependability under extreme conditions. The other recommendation is the new Smith and Wesson Shield, a pocket-able 9mm with incredible accuracy also functions very well. You don't hear many people talk about problems such as jams, failure to extract spent cartridge etc, but these are real life problems. A malfunction while your protecting you family would be catastrophic.

  • REID

    The best gun is the one you have , the one with no paper trail and the one you have a pile of ammo for .

  • marcus

    I wish those ammo prices were accurate today.

    Marcus... you'll notice we've updated the current prices (as of 8/28/2013) for ammo (and left the historical so you can see the difference) On average prices have about doubled, and in some instances have increased five fold. We took the median price listed on http://www.ammoseek.com.

  • Richland

    @marcus: check out http://www.gunbot.net/ for up-to-date ammo prices

  • Cathy


    I am with you about Mrs. Julie a neary.

    I find that these anti-gun people no nothing about guns. They are fearing their unknown. I did not grow up in a house with guns. So, I understand somewhat in how they are thinking. But, I never felt people should not own guns. We had family that were hunters, both responsible and irresponsible. In my opinion, that had to do with maturity.

    I enjoy guns. I was trained to shoot a variety of guns in a sport that I enjoy. Based on speed and accuracy under pressure is really good shooting practice.

    We live in a rural area so I have had to kill rattlesnakes. When the snakes cross the safety zone, they are killed. I wonder how Mrs. Julie thinks about that? Keep us safe from dangerous critters?

    I do not hunt, but I will to survive.

    We had to evacuate from a wildfire 2 years ago. We had our animals and pulling trailers. We also had all of our guns and ammo with us. After we took our horses out of a shelter, we had learned that the Dept of Agriculture wanted to confiscate all of the animals. They did not have the right to do so. We had a man who told the Dept of AG to get lost and get out of here.

    You never know what you need to protect. When times are desperate, those people will kill to get what you have.

  • Andrew

    George: Effective range has nothing to do with the shooter, it's a feature of the external dynamics of the cartridge.

  • CadillacFan

    What about Black powder? With BP you can do all the above. A .50 cal slug will do the hunting job. The administration and Congress are taking away the right to own or use any of these, so they can turn the US into EGYPT or SYRIA without any way of protesting, I am afraid it is coming to this... No one in Congress is raising any kind of a fuss over it. Black powder you can make yourself. But without primers you better have a flintlock, or a bow and arrow.

  • Jeff

    The Texas Ranger was asked, "Why do you carry a .45?"

    He replied, "Because they don't make a .46."

  • Doug

    A .357/.38 revolver should be high on anyones list of handguns. Revolvers are more reliable to an inexperianced shooter than an automatic pistol. They break far less often, not subject to improper grip (limp wristing) and with dbl action revolver squeezing the trigger gives immediate BANG, no need to rack the slide. Granted ammo capacity is 5-8 rnds, but all rnds will be fired, and NO JAMS.

    .38 ammo will work just fine in a .357 revolver, and is Highly common....

  • Mo Better

    This is a good overview and will help the novice find his or her way. I disregard those who say you should limit yourself to a caliber or two/three. You don't have one screwdriver in your tool box that you expect to take care of every job, do you? Firearms are just like that, they're tools, and different types perform different functions. A variety of weapons gives one the opportunity to match the weapon and ammo to the shooter and/or the situation. The urban apartment dweller will obviously have different requirements than the rancher having long sight lines. Study the differences and select the firearm with which the shooter will be comfortable and effective.

  • Reid

    if you don't have a lethal means of defense all you are doing is storing supplies for those AGGRESSIVE ENOUGH AND WILLING TO TAKE WHAT YOU HAVE.

  • Urban Survivalist
    Urban Survivalist August 29, 2013 at 5:40 am

    This article was obviously written by someone with limited knowledge and/or use of firearms. Furthermore, most of seems directly pulled from misleading information online. Being an instructor i'd have to say revisit and do your homework.

    We appreciate you taking the time to read our article. On the ReadyBlog we cover a very broad range of subjects and realize that we are not the foremost experts on everything. Many of our readers have a basic knowledge of the subjects we tackle, but some of our readers (such as yourself) may be in fact more of an expert on a specific subject than we are. We love receiving constructive comments from these expert readers with detailed feedback and positive suggestions on how we can improve our content. We actually take many of these comments and update our content to give our readers a better experience. So if you have some specific feedback, let us know... we'd love to hear it. :D

  • Avg Guy

    I read an article once that said that a 20ga has 5/8 of the load with 1/2 the recoil of a 12ga. I'll save my shoulder, The zombie or food animal will be just as dead.

    There is no one perfect weapon. Each has its purpose, and are only as good as your ability to use it. By the same token, there is no one perfect article on the subject. Research and learn what works for you.

  • Edward Plasek

    Several of us have been inquiring to the make and model, and calibre of the semi-auto handgun in the first picture-- Please Advise

    The gun in the first image is a Beretta 92FS Billennium 9mm (9×19mm Parabellum)

  • REID

    i noticed that some seem to think that recoil is something to be avoided. The best way to approach recoil is simply shoot a gun with substantial recoil and it will very soon become second nature

  • Denver Ed

    I own nearly all of the guns that others have listed as their favorites for various reasons... my 2-cents for "city-dwelling" newbie gun owners is: Buy a Ruger 10-22 rifle plus a cheap .22 pocket pistol and 5000 rounds of CCI ammo. Then learn how to shoot without shooting yourself or your wife and kids. PRACTICE with them every chance you get, replace the ammo you are using up and you will stay alive long enough to learn lots more about other guns in a SHTF situation.

  • Steve K.

    Rhodesia was an state located in southern Africa during the Cold war. From 1965 to 1979, it comprised the region now known as independent Republic of Zimbabwe when an elderly woman in her seventy's,she was living on an settler establishment in her little home stead and was attacked by ZAPU from Zambia. They were armed with AK's, Chinese hand grenades, and explosives, having been issued vague instructions to sabotage important installations before killing indiscriminately. They intended to follow Soviet thinking of the time period, placing an emphasis on sophisticated weaponry in the hopes of winning a conventional battle like the Veit Minh at Dien Bien Phu but she was only armed with an colt woodman 22lr auto pistol to defend her home stead. The reporter that was intrigued by her actions and interviewed her after the incident. How she was able to dispatch the heavily armed men, she replied it was easier than the rabbits that got in her garden. So have confidence and start with an 22lr.

  • Kes121

    I prefer a .50 cal for long range and competition shooting. For hunting (deer) I prefer a .308 or .243

  • Kes121

    For self defense, I prefer a .357 or colt 1911

  • David

    I am a newbe at gun ownership. I have read many forums on which rifle and handgun to get for self defence, survival and hunting. My choice is a 357 revolver and the lever action rifle in 357 cal. I am also getting a good 22cl Air rifle for the bug out senerio for these reasons. 1) I can carry far more pellets (ammo) than I can bullets. and when it come down to it I can shoot rocks from it as well. once you run out of ammo your rifle becomes a club. 2) In a bug out situation water is my first concern. food is my second not to mention shelter of some sort and all weather clothing. carring around several types of ammo. and weapons is bulky and takes up space especily if I'm on foot. 3) I,m not saying I would not carry my 357 but it's use would be limited to the first few days and for the off chance I come across a bear. 4) In my situation for long term survival bringing down a dear or large game would be waistful. it is far less effert to catch small game in several traps and snares than it is shooting them. you can only shoot what you can see. you do not have to see your pray to snare it. With that said, There is one down side to not having large cal. ammo. If and when the Civil end comes ammo of any kind could be used for barter.

  • Don Russell

    Actually, no the circumstances are not different in city vs country. The fact is that if shtf, you are going to need fighting rifles everywhere, and that a pistol won't amount to a ram's damn once everyone is carrying a longarm. Everyone WILL be so armed, too, if shtf.

    You are way ahead to "have to' hunt with a fighting autorifle than have to fight with a bolt action. How can you shoot or intimidate anyone with a gun that you haven't got with you, hmm?

    Regardless of where you are, if shtf, you want your rifle to give you rapidfire, be rust resistant, have luminous iron sights, have a quick detachable, return to zero scope base, with a "see thru" option, to use the iron sights.

    YOu want your rifle to have at least 300 yds of effective range, you want it to take the rd that our military armories are full of (clue, not ONE rd therein is .20 or .30 AK). You want it to take down for concealment in a backpack and you want it to be threaded at the muzzle, and have a sound suppressor. It should also have a .22lr conversion unit, so that you have the option of using the most commonly found, (and most commonly needed for survival rd.)

    nets, trotlines, fish, crawdad and turtle traps can be tended at night. Being see in daylight, if shtf, will get you shot. Those tools work for you 24-7 and in 30 or more locations. They are far more likely to feed you than hunting or fishing with a rod or pole. :-)

  • Don Russell

    It's pretty silly to buy any "special" gun for shtf. Your pistol for such a scenario should be the same pocket auto that you use for EDC, everyday carry. The front pants pocket, starting hand in pocket, is by far the swiftest concealed draw, and the pocket holster stays out of the way of your backpack and rifle, yet is concealed and swift to access.

    If you are not going to spend a lot of money on your survival rifle and becoming skilled with it, reloading your ammo, etc, then stick to a .22 autoloader, like the Marlin Papoose. Fit it with a "spare" 6" long barrel and silencer, so that "normal" .22lr ammo is subsonic thru that barrel. Also fit it with a telescoping buttstock, so that it is concealable under your jacket, (underarm, on a sling)with the 5" long suppressor attached. You do not want an integral can/barrel combo, because then your front sight is on that weak link, threaded on tube! Mount the front sight on the shortened barrel and simply do the female thread inside of the counterbored barrel, with a male threaded stud protruding out of the rear of the can. naturally, all federal and state laws relative to silencers must be followed.

  • Barack Obama

    I think you're all nuts.

  • Name H R Safford
    Name H R Safford December 4, 2013 at 8:29 am

    How do I obtain 1-3 copies of Brandon Garrett Bullett/Cartridge Display Board--size as offered on the Computer Screen--I wish to frame.

  • awatkinson

    Guns, generators, matches, parachutes, water, friends--When you need them there are no meaningful substitutes. Perhaps also shelter.
    Have a neighbor who is a nice lady over 80years old. She lives by herself but does have a phone, a cat and a 22pistol. When I occasionally visit her at night I usually call then knock. She is a little hard of hearing
    If she doesn't answer I don't enter her house. Who is more prepared
    all the people with multiple guns, or no guns or her?

  • perun

    I hit all day at 150yrd with a 590a1 12 GA

  • Joe Thomas

    If you do not have experience with guns, GET PORFESSIONAL ADVISE!!!!!!!!!!!

    As to which gun is best:
    First, the best gun is the one that you like and can shoot well. Secondly, no ome type of gun will do everything that will be needed in an emergency situation. I have a semi auto modern sporting rifle, sometime mistakenly called an assault rifle, in .308 caliber for hunting, self defense distant shots (up to 600 yards), to penetrate barriers, etc, next is my semi auto MSR in.223/5.56 x 45 simular to what the US military uses, these are effective up to 300 yards on small game and can be used to kill ferral hogs, coyotes, etc. (BEfore any complains, I only kill/hunt animals when absolutely necessary). I have a .22 cal for very small game such as rabbits and mostly for target pratice/fun. Two shot guns in 12 ga, a short barrelled tactical one for home defense and a longer barreled one for hunting birds, squirrels (this an 80 year old side by side handed down from my gransfather, still works great). Lastly an assortment of handguns in 3 different calibers, both for defense and target. I have had to use a handgun for defense on at least 2 occations. The brand of gun and whether it is semi auto or revolver is personel preference, use what you can best shoot with. I like the modern sporting rifles best because I have experince with they from the military but have used other types and calibers. Consider your situation, do your research, talk to professionals, people at the shooting range understanding that they have their bias, rent a few guns if possible, shoot other peoples gun if possible and then decide what is best for you.

  • Don 1951

    Stick to food articles...This post is so bad I can't even list all the wrong info in this small reply. This makes you look stupid.

  • Louise

    Thanks everyone for great bits of knowledge and opinions. Grinder: thanks for mentioning petite wife. Have had several handguns that did not "work" for me. I have been thinking of a Ruger 380 to replace my Taurus 38; but since you mentioned Smith & Wesson .32 revolver...will go and check that out.

  • Michelle

    I carry a .357 Highway patrolman 4 inch 98% of the time. I also carry a .38 Lady Smith 2 in.
    I like the .357 best. I carry cross draw .

  • Dave

    The best gun in an emergency? The one in your hand.

  • Mark Neno

    Guns should never be used for intimidation. Nor should intimidation be a factor in the purchase of a firearm. People who believe a firearm can be used to intimidate may be strangely shocked when it does not serve that purpose with certain people. The purpose of a firearm is to deliver deadly force. To use a firearm to an end that is contrary to that can be dangerous to the user.

  • Terry C.

    The Universal sound of intimidation is the racking of a 12 ga. pump shotgun, just the sound of a pump will send most perps running .

  • Name Ben

    I have a little of everything, having reached a ripe old age (chronologically) but have used the Holy Bible, the best medical checkups, using new medical procedures, eating the most healthy diet, avoiding dangerous places to protect myself and my wife. Law suites will come even if you are legally shooting. It is expensive to defend.
    There are no experts in the defensive field! I am still learning and situations are continuously changing. Quality Laser Grip sights are GREAT.

  • jimbob

    When I was a young Marine, I was mostly lugging around a 249 SAW and was always happy to turn it in at the armory. I liked the basic M-16 and M-9 but not that much. Never really had any desire to own a gun until an elderly relative who lived along asked me advice on the subject.

    As with everything else, I studied extensively, shot every interesting rental at the range(s) and spoke with folks who seemed to know what they were talking about. I've owned everything from Saiga's to .308 battle rifles to heavy magnum revolvers (love Rugers and Colts) to Glocks and Sigs to fun 10-22s - everyone loves 10-22s.

    Advice for a beginner:

    Home defense handgun: 38/.357 revolver - this is a no-brainer for countless reasons (simplicity, springs at rest, no magazines, no safeties to mess with, heavy trigger pull prevents accidents). 38 is plenty of power for 99% of situations. You're better of with one weapon you know how to use and use often than with 10 sitting in a safe that have never been fired.

    If you insist on a pistol instead of revolver stick to big 3 basic calibers (9mm, .40, or .45) all other pistol calibers are nonsense when you look at price v. performance. 9mm is the no-brainer pistol caliber given the improvements in ammo in the last 20 years.

    There just isn't much ballistic difference between the three calibers and the 9 is cheaper and softer shooting - but shoot what you like - it boils down to a flying hunk of lead. Only variables are the size & shape of the hunk of lead and how fast it is going. The rest is emotional b.s.

    Long-gun for survival (not home defense) - pick up a good .22 rifle. Marlin 60s are fine (no mags to lose), ruger 10-22s are awesome and kinda like potato chips - you can't have just one. Remington .22s are fine too.

    Home defense, hunting, do-everything long-gun: mossberg 500 or 590 or remington 870 or Ithaca - in 12 or 20 gauge. The H & R and new Turkish companies are getting better too. A basic pump shotgun is pretty tough to beat for all around do-everything utility at a budget price and you can practice with bird shot for not much.

    Saigas and Benelli's are fine too - downside is, you can't leave a loaded Saiga sitting around for years because the springs will have issues and it will jam when you need it - fun range toy but liability issues and just not worth the trouble - sold those awhile back.

    With a pump shotgun, it can sit in the closet, loaded, for 20 years and if you need it just grab it, rack the slide, flip the safety and you're good to go. Course I still love my hump-back...A-5 is too darn fun.

    Overall rifle - 30-30 lever action or AR-15 / AK 47 / 74. Either will do the job. The AR requires a bit more maintenance. The lever not so much. The AK you can bury in mud for a year and the damn thing will still work. Also if you are in court - the lever action will look much more innocent than will an "evil assault rifle" :)

  • Jimbob

    P.S. No offense but the author of this article could have done some research. Just sayin'.

  • Chip

    Nice article folks. I have enjoyed and benefited from the discussion that followed. Have Glock 19, Ruger 10/22 Take Down and Moss 12 gauge. Girl friend has been shooting several hand guns with very good proficiency given her being a new shooter. She has settled on a .22 because of many of the points made in these discussions. She has shot the S&W M&P 22 Compact and likes it. Question is, is this a solid gun @ $399.00 new that will have good durability and a long service life. Any other suggestions for a .22 hand gun. Don't mind paying for quality for something that we may need to rely on for trouble free operation.

  • Steve

    What is the make and model of the 357 revolver pictured in this article? Thanks for opening this very important topic for conversation. In a SHTF scenario surviving bad guys may be as important as food and water. Home defense is also an extremely important issue that doesn't get enough attention these days.

  • Jeanne

    EVeryone mentions that if you are a city/apt dweller that the gun needs differ. I am 65 year old woman not super strong who needs a defense gun for apt dwelling. Suggestions?

  • Im a survivor

    I want to say , page is great. There's nothing more useful than good info these days, after all we do live in the information age. Thanks for the info, it is very useful because if the worst happens all we'll have is our brains.

  • RegularGuy

    Informative article. Interesting to read the comments. The gun nuts (yes, gun nuts) who think Democrats or anyone else wants to take your guns need to get real. Those who favor gun safety are only concerned about those weapons that have one purpose -- killing many humans as quickly as possible. It's unlikely you'll ever be in such a scenario. Much more of a threat to you is mismanagement of the environment and the economy, and the environment and economy usually do better under those who you so needlessly fear. If you think a large cache of weapons or ammo is going to keep you alive you're sadly mistaken. If the world is that bad off you only need enough ammo to end your family's suffering. Much more important than guns and ammos in a survivable, long-term SHTF scenario is building community with your neighbors to provide food, water, medical care, etc. In a doomsday/zombie/whatever ridiculous scenario you won't survive a sniper's bullet, or the absence of hospitals or medication, etc., and all of the guns and ammo in the world won't prevent a slow death. Instead, plan for much more likely and reasonable scenarios. Be prepared to weather short-term natural disasters. Build community with you neighbors. Plan on being more self-sufficient in the long-term, though you'll never make it long-term without community. Have a reasonable selection of guns for hunting and basic defense. But the zombie's ain't coming. Now a question. What about gun storage? Safe? Locker? Individual foam-lined cases (I've heard they're not good for long-term gun storage)? Trigger guards? Concealed carry might be fine for some, but many people don't want to be responsible for having a firearm with them 24/7, which makes sense, considering how many people are constantly losing their cell phones, misplacing their car keys and etc. Open carry is just wacky and doesn't help reasonable gun owners look reasonable.

  • realist

    How about a duel purpose weapon ? .. The Kel Tec sub 2000 uses 9mm (very common) or comes in a the 40 cal (common) the effective range is about 150 yards or better.. The mags are also interchangeable with Glock semi-auto handguns, so you only have one type of ammo for both your handgun and carbine with magazines that work in both ..

  • Ben

    To: The Ready Store
    I like all your tips including these on firearms. Some of the suggestions in replies are good but not ideal for beginners. The first match I fired in while serving the US Army in Germany back in 1961 I shot the highest individual score. There were "masters" firing in the match. These are men who qualified expert for five years in a row on their team. I could shoot and still can but could I survive on my own? I doubt it. Revolvers are best for new or old shooters for carry because they are the most dependable and reliable. Rifles are better than shotguns for defense and the more simple designs are best for long term use. Always be prepared and always keep it simple.

  • Brooks

    Since accuracy and a fast second shot are the main factors in defensive hand gunnery, not the weapon caliber, I chose a couple semi-auto 9mm as the handgun. Wife has a Ruger SP-101 revolver
    that handles 38 special and .357 Magnum loads, but reasonably available.

    I have an AR-15 chambered so it can handle both .223 and 5.56 making ammo available not much of a problem.

    Adequate range and ammo availability make the .308 the rifle caliber of choice and a variable 3-9x scope is adequate. Long range sniping is not out o the question but unlikely to be needed. Hunting at ranges over 300 yards for the average shooter should not be attempted.

    Most folks like the Ruger 10-22, a fine choice in rimfire rabbit and squirrel gun, but I have an old Remington Semi-Auto with a tubular magazine that can handle .22 shorts and longs as well as long rifle, and so haven't bought anything newer.

    The tactical shotgun will handle slugs quite well for close-range deer hunting.

  • Coop

    I've read a lot of articles on emergency preparedness and many recommend firearms that use same ammo as police and military because they would be the most available. My thinking is the opposite. In a national emergency, they would be stripped from the shelves and reserved for police and military use. I think we would be more likely to find hunting rounds (.270, .30-06, etc.) and ammo made for revolvers (.357, .44, etc.).

  • Brooks A. Mick

    1) A .22LR pistol, i.e., Ruger, can easily take rabbits and other small game if you sit quietly. And many hundreds of rounds don't weigh too much to move.
    2) .308 bolt action is good for deer and animals up to elk size.
    3) AR-15 style in Wylde chamber can handle both 5.56 and .223 ammo, thus increasing availability markedly.
    4) Modern 9mm is a quite decent round in a semi-auto pistol for self-defense. I personally don't go for bigger rounds. Learn to shoot.
    5) A semi-auto .22LR such as Ruger 10-22 is good for small game at longer range than the pistol can handle.

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