If you could own only five guns, what would they be?
I recently asked myself this question and the task proved surprisingly difficult, because there are a lot of different guns that I like — and it’s not easy making sacrifices.
In the end, though, I was able to narrow my selection by first determining the five basic types of guns that I would want to own before choosing the specific models for each of those types.
So what are the five types? They are:
- 9mm semi-automatic pistol
- .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol
- .22 semi-automatic rifle
- 12-gauge pump action shotgun
- .308 semi-automatic rifle
I’ll explain my reasons for choosing these categories below, as well as the specific make and model of gun I chose per category.
9MM Pistol (Walther PPQ M2)
I believe the pistol is the most important firearm you can own, simply because you can conceal it on your person and travel with it. I also believe that if you could own only one pistol, it should be a 9mm because it’s the most abundant and the cheapest to shoot.
While some may expect me to say the Glock 19 or 17 is my pick for a 9mm pistol, the truth is I would opt for the Walther PPQ M2. The ergonomics on the PPQ are incredible and it melts into my hand seamlessly. The trigger is also a wonder in its own right and is much more light and crisp than any other striker-fired pistol I’ve used. Reliability, of course, is excellent.
The fairly compact size of the PPQ means I easily can hide it on my person for concealed carry, while the 15+1 capacity (or 17+1 with the extended mag) offers plenty of firepower in a self-defensive situation. For these reasons, I find it to be equally as versatile as it is pleasurable to fire.
Granted, I am fully aware of the PPQ’s shortcomings as a survivalist sidearm. Because it has a short track record, spare parts and accessories are not nearly as available as, say a Glock or a Smith & Wesson M&P.
Nonetheless, the PPQ is one of my favorite handguns and one I have found great use and enjoyment out of over the years. It would be my personal pick for a 9mm pistol if I could only have one.
.45 ACP Pistol – Colt Mark IV Series 70
If I could own five guns, two of them would need to be handguns (at least for me). I was very close to making my second handgun a .357 Magnum revolver (likely a Ruger GP100), as it would be very versatile in that I could shoot both .357s and .38s through it.
Ultimately, though, I decided if anything were to happen to my PPQ as my concealed carry gun, I would want another semi-automatic pistol that I could use as an alternative. I also wanted this pistol to be in .45, so that I would have a slightly greater variety of calibers instead of just 9mm.
Many people will disagree with my choice here, but I pick the 1911 (and specifically the Colt Mark IV Series 70) simply because it’s one of my favorite guns to shoot. There is no other handgun that balances as well for me as the 1911, and it’s the pistol I find myself enjoying the most each time I visit the shooting range.
The Series 70 I own, in particular, has proven to be very reliable, with only one malfunction during the break-in period (as most 1911s require) and none since then. Even though magazine capacity is limited at 7-8 rounds, the trade-off is that the 1911 is slim and easily concealable on my person.
Beyond that, the 1911 is endlessly customizable with no shortage of spare accessories and parts on the market, something that contrasts heavily with the PPQ, where aftermarket options are more limited.
.22 Rifle – Ruger 10/22
No gun collection is complete without a .22 of some kind, so I knew immediately that one of my top 5 guns to own would have to be a .22 semi-automatic rifle. A .22 is perfect for small game hunting, pest control, plinking, and for introducing new people to shooting. The ammunition is also so small that I can carry literally hundreds of rounds on my person without really noticing the weight.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my pick for a .22 rifle is the Ruger 10/22. The very first gun that I ever owned was a Ruger 10/22, so it’s a weapon with which I have much experience. I have found the 10/22 to be a robust, accurate and dependable weapon. I could easily use it for tactical purposes if needed.
Another reason that makes the 10/22 my choice for a .22 rifle is how spare parts and accessories are literally everywhere. During a disaster scenario, this would be an advantage where I would have a greater chance of finding spare magazines or other parts in the event that anything broke over other .22 rifles.
12 Gauge Shotgun – Mossberg 500
I’ve heard many arguments supporting the idea that the pump-action 12-gauge is the most critical gun to own. No one can deny that the 12-gauge shotgun is highly versatile. When loaded with buckshot it’s devastating for home defense. With birdshot you can use it for bird hunting or clay pigeon shooting. And with slugs you easily could use it for big-game hunting.
My preferred shotgun is the Mossberg 500. The controls are convenient for me (more so than the Remington 870) and the fact that this was the only pump shotgun to pass the U.S. military’s brutal Mil-Spec 3443G torture test says a lot about its quality.
The specific 500 that I would choose would be a Mariner model with a 6+1 capacity. The Mariner, coated in Mossberg’s trademark silver Marinecote, has much greater rust and corrosion-resistant capabilities than standard bluing does. I would also pick the 6+1 version so I could alternate between a 28-inch vented rib barrel for hunting and a shorter 18.5-inch barrel for home defense. This option essentially gives me two shotguns in one.
.308 Semi-Auto Rifle – Springfield M1A
Finally, I need a center fire rifle to top off my five. It makes perfect sense to choose a .308 semi-automatic in this scenario, as I can use it for both big game hunting and tactical training.
My choice here would be the Springfield M1A, over the AR-10, FAL, and G3/C308. The M1A first entered U.S. service in the 1950s and continues to be used by some marksmen in the military today. There’s good reason why: It is a very well-built, rugged, and accurate rifle that will do everything you ask it to do.
I fully understand the M1A is heavy (and long with the full-length version) and that .308 ammunition is not as cheap as 5.56x45mm NATO. However, a rifle that fires the 5.56 like the AR-15 is simply not as multi-purpose for me, as the 5.56 round is far too light for elk hunting (something I do each fall). Ideally I would own both, but since I have only one gun left to choose in my list of five, I would settle for the M1A or any .308 semi-auto rifle over a rifle that fires a lighter bullet.
What would be in your top five? Let us know in the section below: