Most of us who prep have to do it within the constraints of a budget.
A lot of times prepping takes over hobbies and recreational activities and even becomes a hobby. I know I’m not the only one out there who constantly tweaks their gear and who generally enjoys it. Firearms are a major expense, but they are also an investment.
Weapons lose little value over time and can be treated as an investment that can be easily sold or traded. This allows a person to start with a very modest firearm budget and complete the basics of a collection.
The most important thing to remember is to never sacrifice reliability for cost. Cheap is not the same as affordable.
Here are the categories we’ll cover:
Self-defense rifle – This weapon should preferably be a modern semi-automatic weapon capable of being a good fighting weapon. The self-defense rifle needs to be accurate, reliable and capable of firing multiple rounds quickly and efficiently. The weapon needs to fire a round sufficient for self-defense. The ammo should be widely available and easy to stock up on.
Self-defense pistol – This follows the same rules as the self-defense rifle. The weapon could be adapted for different locations. For example, someone who lives in bear country may prefer a .357 magnum or a 10mm. The weapon should be reliable and robust enough to last, and the ammo should be easy to find.
Shotgun – The shotgun is probably the most robust and easy-to-find weapon. The shotgun is a thinking man’s weapon; it is incredibly powerful and extremely flexible. Shotguns can be used to hunt small game like birds and squirrels and then can instantly change over for hunting deer and hogs – and can be a great defensive weapon.
Rimfire rifle – Rimfire rifles and pistols are incredibly efficient weapons. The ammo is cheap and the weapons lack any recoil. They are very easy to use and often incredibly lightweight. An entire brick of .22 can be carried in a cargo pocket. They work perfect for small game and in a pinch they can be used for self-defense.
These are the four main categories I believe one must have. These four styles of weapons will give you an incredibly diverse choice of weaponry to choose from. There are two other categories that are not entirely necessary, but do stand to diversify your options even a little more.
Long range rifle – This rifle may not be necessary for some of us who live in scrub areas and flat lands. Some people may require a long-range weapon to harvest game or defend themselves efficiently, but folks who live on wide-open land may absolutely need a long-range rifle. The rifle needs to be a full-powered caliber capable of long range and sufficient power for large to medium game.
Rimfire pistol — The rimfire pistol is a small but capable weapon that allows someone to fill a few niches. First off, the rimfire pistol can act as a backup to your main pistol, with a severely compromised lethality. Secondly, a rimfire pistol is extremely easy to wield with the non-dominant hand, or with a single hand if one of your arms is hurt. In general, a rimfire pistol is an extremely handy pistol that offers a secondary option in a lot of different situations.
The No Budget Prepper
So if you are just beginning your prepping you may find it hard to dedicate a lot of money to prepping. Or you are like me and you didn’t have a dime extra to spend on certain days. You need to keep your overhead low, and guns seem quite expensive at the moment. But you can get a pretty good bargain if you are willing to look.
Self Defense Rifle — Hi Point Carbines. About $240
The Hi Point semi-automatic series of carbines are excellent pistol caliber carbines that are dirt cheap. The Hi Point carbines come in 9mm and 40 S&W. The carbine isn’t attractive, but for fewer than $300 you’re unlikely to find a cheaper semi-auto weapon. The carbine is reliable, but is hampered by its low capacity magazines. The weapon is accurate enough, but it won’t be cutting playing cards in half. Recently a young lady defended herself successfully against three men attempting a home invasion using one of these.
Self Defense Pistol — Hi Point Pistols. $150
Big surprise that Hi Point comes up again. The Hi Point pistols come in 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP. The pistols come with an excellent warranty and tend to work quite well. They feature a fixed barrel which makes them quite accurate. The pistol suffers from the same small magazine as the rifle, though.
Shotgun — H&R Topper Shotgun. $69 to $99
Single barreled shotguns have been around in one form or another since the first long arms were invented. Even today when shotguns have evolved into machine shotguns fed from drum magazines that can fire mini 12 gauge frags, we still have single barreled shotguns. These shotguns are simple, lightweight, handy and very reliable. Reloading is, of course, slow and this compromises its combat effectiveness. The weapon is widely available for less than $100 and is available in all of the popular shotgun gauges.
Rimfire Rifle – Marlin 60. $99 (used)
The Marlin 60 is the little brother of the Ruger 10/22. The Marlin 60 may be nowhere near as popular as the Ruger 10/22 but it’s a legend in its own right. The Marlin 60 has been around for decades and has always been a favorite utilitarian rifle. The Marlin 60 uses a tube magazine that holds 15 rounds. The weapon is reliable and very accurate. They have been so mass-produced and so widely available they can be found for under $100 on the used market.
Long Range Rifle – Mosin Nagant rifle. Varies, but most common model is $129.99
No one is surprised this weapon showed up on the list. Mosin has become a favorite for those on a budget. Not only can your basic model be had for less than $200, but the ammo is dirt cheap as well. The 7.62 x 54R is the equivalent of the 7.62 NATO and is capable of making long-range, accurate shots with plenty of penetrating power. Mosins are absolutely everywhere and available at any place that sells guns. The Mosin is a sturdy and extremely reliable weapon; it has survived countless wars and is extremely tough. Remember: These rifles were made in a time when hand-to-hand fighting was the norm during a war.
Rimfire Pistol – Phoenix Arms Hp22A. $175
Phoenix arms comes off at first glance as one of the ring of fire pistols. This is no Jennings or Raven 22 jam-o-matic. Phoenix arms put out quite the nice little pistol for the money. The weapon is plenty reliable, which many .22 pistols suffer in that department. The pistol allows you to switch barrel from a compact 3-inch to a full-size 5-inch barrel. The magazine holds a total of 10 rounds and is quite accurate, especially with the 5-inch barrel. The weapon is remarkably lightweight and not bulky enough to get in your way. Perfect little gun to toss in the pack as an emergency gun.
Moderate Budget Prepper
If you have the time to save a bit more here and there, or perhaps you started with your no-budget gun preps and are looking to upgrade your arsenal, then look no further. This next list is still very economical but steps up the quality of the firearms and their varying abilities, such as the ability to be concealed, their range, ability to be reloaded, quickly and in general their ability to aid in your survival.
Self Defense Rifle – VZ 2008. $399.99
The VZ 2008 resembles an AK, but that is where the line is drawn. The only thing the two weapons have in common is the round they fire — the 7.62 x 39, a round that is cheap and easy to find here in the states. The VZ 2008 is the American version of the Czech VZ. 58. The VZ 2008 is a light and handy weapon featuring a milled receiver with much handier controls than an AK 47. The steel-folding stock makes the weapon light and portable, but provides not a single inch of cheek support. The weapon features quite a few advantages over the AK variant and is quite affordable.
Self Defense Pistol — Canik 55 TP 9. $299.99
The Canik 55 TP 9 is a direct copy of Walther’s P99. The Canik is not as refined as the Walther, but is still a great firearm and a great value. The Canik is a 9mm, striker-fired handgun, and comes in a variety of finishes.
The Canik comes with two 17 round magazines, a nice carrying case, a Kydex  holster with both belt and paddle attachment, and an additional back strap. The weapon does feature a rather heavy trigger, and takes some time to get used to. The sights are a pretty standard 3 dot. The weapon is extremely reliable, though, and the mags are made by famed magazine manufacturer Mec Gar. It’s a lot of pistol for a little money.
Shotgun — Raptor ATAC 12 gauge. $319.99
Turkish-made weapons have made their appearance twice in this article and for good reason. The Turks have a long history of making quality weapon at a discounted price. The Raptor ATAC is no different. Yes, you can get a stock Mossberg 500 cheaper, but you get a lot more value with the Raptor ATAC. First off, it’s an incredibly reliable semi-automatic shotgun, which is a plus in a fight. The weapon comes equipped with ghost ring sights, a Picatinny rail, and a nice pistol grip and solid stock.
The weapon is capable of spitting out six gauge buckshot rounds in only a few seconds. The weapon feeds both heavier birdshot loads and buckshot like a camp. Anything lighter than 1 1/8 of an ounce will not feed very well.
Rimfire Rifle – Chiappa Little Badger. $179.99
As tempted as I was to list the Ruger 10/22, I just couldn’t do it. The Ruger 10/22 is an amazing little rifle and is a great bargain, but I feel the Little Badger is an underrated and extremely handy little survival rifle. The Little Badger is a single shot .22 rifle that looks like it’s made from almost nothing but a wire stock and a barrel. In reality, that is all there is to it. The rifle can fold in half and become quite compact. Eight rounds can be held on the stock. The barrel is also threaded for a suppressor if you have one.
The rifle has a Picatinny rail for scopes, and a Picatinny rail behind the trigger to attach a pistol grip of any kind you choose. The weapon is tiny and handy, perfect for small game, but lacking heavily in the defense department.
Long Range Rifle – Mossberg ATR. $349.99
Mossberg has really stepped up their game when it comes to innovative firearms and has always been a value leader. The Mossberg ATR rifle is a minimalist bolt action rifle chambered in some of the most popular rounds in America, including one of my favorites, the .308. The Mossberg ATR features Mossberg’s version of the Savage Accu trigger and it’s quite nice.
The rifle comes with iron sights of all things, which is nice to see on a bolt action rifle. The weapon is also equipped with scope mounts. The Mossberg shoots like a dream and is a typical bolt action rifle. No bells or whistles; it’s just right as a basic bolt action rifle.
So these are my selections for a couple of different budget arsenals out there. These weapons make a diverse collection and no one wielding either arsenal would be undergunned. Stay safe everyone.
What would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments section below.