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The Basics: Understanding What You’re Getting With a Firearm and Which One is Best for You

There is a tendency for individuals to start moving towards self sufficiency following a major world occurrence, whether it is a major natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, or a horrific act of terror like the September 11th tragedy, or those from last month’s headlines in Sweden.

The fact is, the more you understand, the easier it is to make the transition. So many individuals don’t want to work on the things they don’t understand, and it can keep them from being able to protect themselves and their families during a trying time. The more you know about firearms and what they can and cannot do, the more inclined you will be to start becoming proficient with them. We fear what we don’t know, and that fear can paralyze you. What worse spot is there to be paralyzed by fear, than when firearms are involved?

A scene played out in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that has few contemporaries. Never before had a city been so desperately in need of help and yet so dramatically hostile. It was a time where hundreds of thousands of individuals began to make choices to protect themselves against their hostile neighbors, to protect their possessions, their life sustaining supplies, and their families. Unfortunately in many cases, those individuals were left without the means to protect against the hostilities that come along with tragedy and disaster. The supplies and infrastructure were in short supply, the law enforcement was unable to cope with the risk, and good people lost everything, not only from the damage of Katrina, but from rioters, looters, and maniacs running the street with not enough sense, or too much will to survive at the expense of others.

It was an almost post-apocalyptic scene, and yet, one that could have been comfortable for many more families, had they prepared for such an occurrence, and understood what was necessary to survive.

It wasn’t only about food and shelter; this situation also forced people to be able to protect their loved ones with force at times.

This website helps prepare people for the unexpected. It’s a real-life form of insurance to understand the potential outcomes of unexpected situations and know how to handle oneself in such situations. This article should help you prepare for choosing and using a firearm, and coping with the responsibility, power, and capability that come along with that firearm.

Choosing a firearm and training with it can have a lot to do with your personality. Are you aggressive? Are you more proactive or reactive? Do you prefer to have choices, or are you more capable when you know how to do one thing really well? Are you the type of person who wants looks, or do you prefer utility?

Most homeowners would be comfortable with just a single home-protection firearm in the form of a simple-to-use, rugged pump-action shotgun or a revolver. But often times these guns may not be the best bet for specific situations. It’s not always prudent to own just one firearm, and it may not be a good idea in stressful situations to field a full arsenal either.

With costs rising, and regulation tightening around firearm and ammunition manufacturing and distribution, factors come into play when choosing firearms that have never been a factor before.

Some basics:

  • No matter which gun you choose, you will only be able to use it effectively if you understand it, receive training on its usage, and actually practice using it.
  • Any gun can be a hindrance if you do not understand the psychological awareness and decision making that surrounds a hostile situation involving firearms.
  • All guns can be unsafe and therefore must be respected and used properly.
  • Simply having a gun may mean nothing if other measures are not taken to secure one’s safety.
  • A gun won’t get you out of trouble every time. A calm and cool attitude combined with real preparation will be the most effective means to ending a hostile situation.

Choosing a gun is not a choice that should be taken lightly: potentially it can save you and your family in a defensive situation, provide ongoing food supply, and give comfort in a trying time.

Basic gun types:

Shotgun: A long gun style that has an enormous amount of firepower and is best suited for close range or defensive postures. It shoots shells made from plastic and metal which encase a densely packed projectile made up of multiple smaller projectiles. It can be a very useful firearm for hunting, self defense, and breaching buildings, but may be difficult to use while on the defensive, due to smaller capacity of ammunition and size. Effective range in some cases may not exceed a hundred feet.

Pistols: Handheld, concealable, highly intuitive, and quick. The range is similar to shotguns, perhaps a bit less unless a user is well trained. Handguns are easily controlled for safe storage. These guns are ideal for close quarters but don’t necessarily lend themselves too well to hunting and securing food.

Rifles: The best firearm for procuring food from wild animals. The most proactive gun in defense as it can be used from well over 100 yards for protection. Rifles are not ideal for close quarters and tend to be slower to engage with. Some practice will be necessary for accurate usage and quick deployment.

Assault-style rifles: Perhaps the most versatile weapon (depending on how it is configured for self defense), but it does have some limitations in situations where a user might be reactionary, like in a close-quarter unexpected fight. Assault-style rifles can be used with add-ons in some cases to provide more of a weapon system than a singular firearm.

Choices that should be avoided in self-defense situations:

Black powder guns, presentation guns, very old guns, and rare or oddly chambered guns (those that require expensive or rare ammunition).

In general a combination of firearms will provide the best potential outcomes, so long as proper and adequate training can be obtained. A proper and prudent amount of ammunition should be obtained also.

Some notes about different scenarios for proper preparation:

If you are utilizing a purely self-defense firearm, in an area where natural disasters do not occur regularly, ammunition needs may not be as heavy as other scenarios. One should plan to have the following supply for short-term needs (this setup should be a good base preparation):

  • Shotgun: 1 case of ammunition or approximately 250 shells of a midrange-type should be purchased, with 3-4 boxes of specialty ammunition – ideally 1 each of 00 buckshot, rifled slugs, high power (magnum style if the chambering will allow for it), and non-lead rounds.
  • Pistol: 6 boxes of ammunition (approximately 300 rounds) of high quality ball-style ammunition and 2-3 boxes of specialty hollow-point or expanding self-defense rounds (approximately 40-150 rounds).
  • Rifle: 8-10 boxes of ball-style ammunition (150-250 rounds) and 2 boxes of specialty ammunition with high-quality specialty bullets and new casings (not reloads unless made from new components).
  • Assault-style rifle: 1 case of ammunition (approximately 200-500 rounds)

If the following applies to your needs, desires, or personality:

If you tend to be more proactive than reactive: you can expect to feel more comfortable by doubling your ammunition supplies and magazines/reloaders; if you are using a rifle or assault-style rifle, consider purchasing a scope to match. This will satisfy your need for being more prepared.

If you tend to be reactive more than proactive: you may need less ammunition, but may need to take more time planning your defensive setup. A reactive setup may not allow for long-term sustainability.

If you plan on being prepared for the longer-term scenario: you could feel more comfortable by tripling the basic supply and buying some extra components like magazines, magazine springs, and extra cleaning supplies. These supplies will help prolong the useful life of your setup.

If you have more than one property or a large amount of assets to protect, a large family to protect, or live in a particularly population-dense area and cannot secure your property well: you may consider buying four times the supply, and purchasing multiple firearms, as well as training more than one person in their usage.

Firearms can be very valuable in trying times, and inevitably, being over-prepared will almost always be a better choice than being underprepared. With that in mind, it should not be a goal to become an arsenal. If you do choose to purchase several firearms, then it should be done quietly, and you should take precautions to safeguard the firearms to avoid theft, targeting, and groups of looters coming to clean you out.

A comprehensive setup for a family of four in a situation like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (where homeowners were forced to shoot at others to protect their families), might look like this:

  • 1 AR-15 style assault rifle in .223 caliber with a short range scope and 4 extra 30 round magazines, cleaning equipment, and 750 rounds of ammunition
  • 1 Glock 22 pistol in .40 S&W caliber, with 3-4 extra 10 round magazines (where the capacity cannot exceed 10 rounds) or 2-3 extra 15 round magazines (where permitted), and 400 rounds of ammunition
  • 1 pump-style Mossberg 500 or 590 shotgun with an extended magazine and 250 rounds of ammunition.
  • 1 Ruger 10-22 rifle with a 100 yard scope and 2000 rounds of ammunition.

Reasoning: The assault rifle can serve as both a mid-range sniper rifle for suppressing threats from 30-150 yards and as a hunting rifle for larger animals. The pistol is easy to use, safe, and provides good defense in close quarters. The shotgun can help provide easy-to-use defense for another member of the family to utilize and can be used to hunt birds and squirrels, as well as help provide entry into locked down buildings or homes. Finally the .22LR rifle can provide a very versatile small game hunting rifle or a last ditch defensive weapon to keep attackers from getting too comfortable or coming into your home.

It may seem a bit extreme to have four firearms, but in periods of sustained self reliance, the spread of usage over several firearms will extend the usable life of the ammunition and weapons, as well as give you more peace of mind knowing you have what it takes to get the job done.

A quality bare bones setup for most hostile situations would consist of:

  • 1 AR-15 style assault rifle in .223 caliber with a short range scope and 4 extra 30 round magazines, cleaning equipment, and 750 rounds of ammunition
  • 1 Glock 22 pistol in .40 S&W caliber, with 3-4 extra 10 round magazines (where the capacity cannot exceed 10 rounds) or 2-3 extra 15 round magazines (where permitted), and 400 rounds of ammunition

Reasoning: You will want hunting capabilities and long-range defensive capabilities, as well as an adequate number of rounds to accomplish your needs. The pistol will also provide supplementary defensive capabilities. Two firearms allow you to have more firepower and get aid from another family member in defensive scenarios.

Some final notes for this basic overview on choosing an appropriate firearm:

  • Don’t be stingy; a quality weapon will outlast many lesser-quality firearms
  • Do not underestimate your need for ammunition, and buy high quality—your life may someday depend on this choice.
  • Buy extra cleaning supplies, magazines, and springs for your gun and magazines.
  • Make sure you have the tools and knowhow to AT MINIMUM field strip your weapon and clean it well.
  • Make sure you are comfortable using the firearm(s) you choose and that your family members understand how to use them and are comfortable with them as well.
  • Buy safety and storage equipment to protect against the elements, theft, and curious children.

Some high-quality firearms that may be a good fit for defense and home protection in a hostile situation, along with their approximate prices:


  • Remington 870 pump action < $500
  • Mossberg 500 or 590 pump action < $500
  • Benelli M1 or M3 automatic > $500
  • Remington 1100 automatic ~ $500


  • The entire Glock series ~ $500
  • 1911 style .45 cal single action > $500
  • HK USP > $500
  • Smith and Wesson 629 .357 Revolver < $500


  • Remington 700 ~ $500
  • Springfield Armory M14/M1A > $1000

You can expect to pay another $250-750 for a good quality scope and mounts

Assault-style rifles:

  • Major brand (Colt, Bushmaster, DPMS) AR-15 style ~ $500-750
  • FN-FAL Style new build > $500

You can expect to pay $300-550 for a good quality scope and add-ons including high capacity magazines

It’s important to use this information only as a starting point for getting a feel for what you might need or want. Articles in the future will offer more insight into the specifics of firearms and the model’s intended usage.

It is always best to understand a wide variety or weapons in case you find yourself having to use one that is not yours. Additionally, it is important to know general best practices with regards to firearms.

Being prepared can put you in a better position to protect the things that you love and the property than is yours.

It is in times of extreme uncertainty and after unexpected events where preparation pays off best. Plan now when you can evaluate your choices, save for the costs of a proper defensive setup, and prepare physiologically and psychologically for the time when you may be thrust into using a firearm for more than a sporting reason.



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