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The 3 Absolute Most Critical Firearms For Survival

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Any survivalist or prepper wishes he could have all the guns and ammunition in the world, but in this economy, people on tight budgets have to be more selective.

When it comes down to it, the guns you need can be divided into first tier, second tier and third tier. First tier are the most critical guns — without question. Second tier are the guns you need and should be proficient with, but only after you’ve bought and become proficient with first tier guns. Third tier guns are firearms that would be nice to own, but that aren’t nearly as critical as first and second tier.

For now, we will discuss the first tier guns and the reasoning for owning them. All of the roles that you would need a gun for are fulfilled by these three categories.

As always, you should invest in ammunition for these guns both to become proficient with them and to have adequate stocks in storage.

1. .22 Rifle

Many have expressed concern at the rise in price of .22 rounds on the market lately, but in recent months, rounds have become more and more available. The .22 is an enduring and versatile little round. It’s quiet, has extremely low recoil, and can do more than most people give it credit for. But the biggest plus for the .22 is how much ammo you can store. You can easily store hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds of .22 in a box that otherwise could have only fit far fewer rounds of a rifle or handgun caliber. Many .22s are sold in boxes called bricks that contain up to 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

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You’ll want to go with a semi-automatic .22 with a high capacity. There are an abundance of AR-style .22 rifles on the market that will catch some eyes, but your best bet here is to go with the Ruger 10/22 or the Marlin 60. Both are very popular and reputable; the primary difference is that the Ruger is magazine-fed, whereas the Marlin is tube-fed.  Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference.

Priorities fulfilled:

  • Deer hunting (with a properly placed headshot, it is more than possible; simply practice extensively beforehand).
  • Homestead/survival weapon (excellent all-around use).
  • Small game hunting (birds, coyote, fox, rabbits, squirrels).
  • Target shooting.
  • Training people to shoot.

2. 12 or 20-gauge shotgun

Specifically, you’ll want a pump-action field combo kit. A field combo kit is a shotgun that comes with two, easily interchangeable barrels: an 18.5-inch for self-defense and a 28-inch vented rib for hunting. This makes the shotgun extremely versatile by essentially giving you a two-in-one package. Pump actions are also reliable as they can feed nearly any kind of shell that you put through them.

Field combo kits are available from Mossberg and Remington, among other companies. The Mossberg 500/590 series and the Remington 870 are the go-to option for pump-action shotguns due to their fair pricing, popularity, reputation and availability of parts.

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Priorities fulfilled:

  • Bird/waterfowl hunting.
  • Big game hunting (loaded with slugs and at closer ranges than a high-powered rifle).
  • Home defense (you couldn’t ask for a better option here).

3. 9mm pistol

Last but not least, the third gun on the first tier list is the 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The 9mm is plentiful, affordable and versatile. There is a nearly infinite number of 9mm pistols on the market, but since we’re narrowing our priorities here, go with a high capacity, mid-sized pistol that can be adequately concealed on your person, can serve as a large enough sidearm to fight with, and feels comfortable in your hand. Buy a minimum of six magazines for your pistol.

Priorities fulfilled:

  • Back-up weapon
  • Concealed carry
  • Homestead sidearm
  • Self-defense

What would you add to or delete from this list? Leave your reply in the section below:

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  1. William D Moorman

    When the SHTF event happens, I believe the three guns you should have are:
    (1) 12 guage shotgun
    (2) 45 cal pistol
    (5) AR 5.56 cal
    Reason, Its what the Gov will be carrying…There will be plenty of ammo.

    • They dont use .45 and havent in decades. But the others sure. 🙂

      • Check on the “latest”, seems the military is going back to the 45 since they realize that the 9mm has its limitations.

        • Your actually wrong. Military is staying with the 9mm FMJ for cost factor and less recoil. They are in the process in switching from beretta to Glocks due to cost factor. But if your a operator, you basically can choose whatever the hell you like. They dropped the .45 1911 from standard issue I believe after vietnam due to low capacity magazines that are single stack.

    • When the SHTF you can use the .22 rifle to “trade” for whatever weapon you want!

    • i also like the 12 gauge pump, the .45 semiautomatic and the AR15 in a 5.56. I also reload my ammo for all three so I’m able to maintain a substantial stockpile.

  2. Mr Moorman: Don’t forget they will also be probably be using .308 / 7.62 for sniper rounds…

  3. One thing to remember is revolvers don’t jam and bolt action rifles don’t jam. I also like .22 caliber, but I prefer a .22 mag. More punch and I can carry a lot with me. I have a .357 revolver with speed loaders and I also have a lever action .357, this way I just carry one type ammo. Same with my .44 mag. I do agree that nothing says don’t mess with me like a 12 gauge pump. Just the sound of one being jacked into the tube turns most thugs the other way. I am thinking I would like to get a .22 mag lever action rifle to go with my handgun. Stay prepared my friends!

    • I was thinking 22 mag too, but the upside of 22LR is it would definitely be easier to get.

      If I was on foot though, I would feel a lot better about leaving the shotgun behind if I had a 22 mag though.

  4. I agree with the weapons mentioned in this article. They all have their advantages, With the small caliber .22 its possible to carry more ammo, however, when the shtf ammo will become hard to replace no matter the caliber. I reload my own ammo in multiple calipers and have stocked a good supply of powder and primers. Lead bullets can be cast from lead weights used to balance wheels and other sources. You will not be able to walk in to a local gun store to buy bullets.

  5. I have compiled three levels of guns/ammo for “whatever” with level one being – emergency/space considerations and can only leave with the bare essentials, and L2/L3 for if I have time/room to carry.

    L1 If I could only have gun – sig hi-cap 45ACP, dbl action. With this I can protect myself and acquire the rest of my needs on the road when available and when needed.

    L2 would include a 12 G shotgun, 22 rifle, 2 more – 45ACP pistols 1) my 1911 Colt Commander + 7 mags, and 2) my S&W revolver w/moon clips, (shoulder holster w/moon clips serve as speed loaders). All three pistols can be loaded on the person if needed for carry and use the same ammo. Good to to have extra/back up if one is confiscated, stolen or you can use for barter.

    L3 If time and room allow – Nato 7.62/.308, bolt action w.scope and/or urban assault rifle (UAR) format w/scope.

    I built my guns around the ammo which are flexible for effectiveness/use because they all come in a variety of loads – 22LR, 45ACP, .308/nato, , 12 Gauge. You can load 45ACP with snake shot for small game/birds/snakes, same with 12 Guage – many options. .308/Nato rounds good for long distance hunting/sniper and for in close combat, with many different loads to suit most any purpose.

    My personal CC is a Glock 33 in 357 sig (very potent ammo) with an addl. 40cal. interchangeable barrel (police ammo of choice for practice shooting). I do not have much ammo in storage, would most likely “throw it in my bug out bag) just to have as an addl. option.

    • My goal is to keep it simple, 410/45 colt shotgun 22 cal insert and 45 long colt revolver with 45 acp cylinder

      the 410 will take any fowl, just have to be accurate, 410 slugs will take any large game, buckshot for self defense. the 45 long colt can be loaded with smokeless or black powder, a bonus when powder is limited, plenty of cheap military ball for feeding the 45 acp,

  6. i love an AR15, 38 special with laser, no hammer, no safety. pull the trigger and you’re good. semi auto 22 rifle with a clip, 12 gauge shot gun, short barrel with hollow points. i’d love to own the “judge” but illegal here in pussafornia

  7. agree with the rifle/shotgun/pistol trilogy. picking a rifle is the question. a .22 for small game and plenty of ammo for the pound? or a battle rifle of some sort for social work?

  8. Any semi auto weapon of quality is perfectly reliable with proper care and maintenence. One should consider cleaning supplies and extra parts as essentials as well. Which is a big reason the Ruger 10/ 22 and the Mossberg 500/ Remington 870 are great choices.
    I’d prefer a .308 AR platform over the .223 as well. Especially a accurized carbine platform (DMR) with an 18″ barrel. I plan on building one of those. I currently have a Ruger 10/22 and a Mossberg 500 with the 28″ and 18.5″ barrel. I was targeting a 9 mm pistol next and that was before this article. So, I obviously agree with the author.

  9. my friend fred says a 9mm dosnt have the nock down power to take a person out I tell him her wrong its a debate that has gone on for a few years now

  10. as for me if I had the monies to get some guns
    I would get marlin 60 it can be hid in a back pack for the most part
    as for hand gun I would go glock 9mm for the after market parts and so on
    and 12 gauge is great for stopping power and scare tactics also like big d said when you rack it they freeze in there tracks or turn tail dam fast
    but as a fourth option I would go with 7.62×54 / 308 for reach out and touch some one for hunting slash a 30/30 good brush and hunting rifle to reach out and touch some one
    but those are my opinions

  11. I would add a 4th firearm to your list. A S&W BODYGUARD .380 OR EVEN A RUGER. 380 AS A NICE BACKUP WEAPON AND THIS NOT TOO EXPENSIVE .

  12. Shotgun is a must have for any prepper. It is versatile and can be used for hunting, training and home defense. You can even make your own ammo when needed.

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