Everyone has their own ideas about what firearms to use in a survival situation. The problem is, there is no perfect answer. A lot depends on your personal experience with firearms, your level of training and the specific survival situation you find yourself in. What’s ideal for one situation may not work all that well for another.
One thing that rarely gets mentioned in the public forum is the use of fully automatic firearms, even though there are people who have them as part of their plan. (Only fully automatic guns made prior to May 1986 are legal in the US.) I want to take a look at that issue, looking at the pros and cons of using one to defend the home.
The big reason that I’ve heard people use for justifying a fully automatic firearm for home defense is to protect against a hungry mob attacking their home. The general thought is that if you are vastly outnumbered, then you need to get as much lead downrange as possible. Full-auto fire offers you that possibility, much better than even a shotgun does.
If we assume a percentage of your shots are going to find a target, then the more lead you can throw downrange, the better. That makes sense … at least on the surface.
This sort of philosophy seems to assume that there will be a complete breakdown of society, with law and order out the window. Hungry gangs will be roaming the streets, seeking who they can attack to get food. We’re talking Mad Max here, with no police protection and no chance of anyone going to jail.
It also assumes that you are going to defend your home on your own. While you are welcome to do that if you want, that sounds like a recipe for failure. Many survival writers, not just me, have said you are much better off trying to survive in a team, rather than alone. There is no time that is more needed than when you are protecting your home from attack.
What’s Wrong with Full-Auto?
When I was in basic training, they taught us to fire our M-16s on full-auto (yes, we used the M-16, not the more modern M-4; this was quite a few years ago). What they taught us was to fire a three-round burst. That takes excellent control of the trigger, because those three shots will go off faster than you can blink.
In a high-stress situation, it’s almost impossible to maintain the level of trigger control necessary for a three-round burst, especially if you haven’t practiced that a lot. Do you know of a range which will allow full-auto fire? There aren’t many. So, that lack of practice probably means that you are more likely to get off five- and six-round bursts. That’s going to go through a lot of ammo, fast.
It also means that you’re going to be shooting a lot of un-aimed shots. When you fire on full-auto, each shot is up and to the right of the previous one. In the Army, they taught us to fire low with the first shot, say at the crotch, so that there was a chance that all three shots would hit the silhouette target we were firing at.
In officer’s candidate school, they taught us the true purpose of full-auto fire. It’s not to hit the target. Rather, it’s to put a lot of lead downrange for suppressive fire. The idea was to shoot enough that the enemy wouldn’t have a chance to shoot back. In the Vietnam War, this worked out to about 300 rounds fired for every hit. That’s a lot of wasted lead.
So, if you want to take out enemies attacking your home, full-auto fire isn’t the way to do it. More than anything, that’s a way of scaring them, while missing. You might hit a few, but it will be more by chance than anything else. You’re better off with single-aimed shots, than with full-auto.
The Dark Side of Full-Auto
Now we get to the real problem with using full-auto fire. Every shot you fire is going to hit something. If it doesn’t hit the enemies attacking your home, it’s going to continue traveling, obeying the laws of ballistics, until it hits something. If that something is pavement, chances are that it will ricochet and continue traveling until it hits something soft enough to embed itself in.
That something else might just be your neighbor or some other innocent person. Do you really want to take a chance on killing your neighbors?
Many who are thinking about a future breakdown in society are thinking that we will enter into a time of pure lawlessness. While that might happen, I doubt it. American history demonstrates other times when there wasn’t organized law enforcement that could be depended upon. During those times, the good people of the community banded together to protect each other, either hiring a town marshal or taking turns as vigilantes — sometimes both.
What makes anyone think that we wouldn’t see the same happening again? For that matter, what makes anyone so sure that there would be no law enforcement at all? Would all the police in the country abandon their posts? I doubt it. Most police officers are men and women of integrity and courage, and they would no more abandon their post than they would eat their gun.
Think it through: Even in a worst-case scenario, where there was a breakdown of law and order, it would probably only last a short while. Then, once control was reestablished, you can be sure that the courts would be in session and the police would be rounding up those who had gone a little wild with their guns. Is stopping that gang worth a life sentence? It’s not self-defense when you shoot an innocent while trying to protect your home, even if you do shoot them by accident.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a risk I’m not willing to take.
A Better Option
I believe that the risk of having my home attacked by that hungry mob is a realistic threat. Therefore, I have planned for it. To start with, I’ve taught every member of my family how to shoot. That way, while I’m standing up to that mob, someone’s got my back. I’ve also prepared firing positions for my family, where they will be protected while they are shooting. I don’t want to lose any of them.
My home has been hardened, making it harder for anyone to break into. They can’t just kick through my front door or knock out a window to gain access. That means that I can fight that hungry mob from the protection of my home, while they are milling about in my front yard. Finally, I’ve made it hard for them to approach my home, other than by a path of my choosing.
In such a time where there is a breakdown of society, crossing the line onto my property would subject any such mob to an ambush. The property line is alarmed and the dogs know when to start barking. Everyone knows where to go and what to do. The path I’ve left any attackers puts them right in that ambush and when I fire the first shot, my family will open up with everything they’ve got. Not automatic fire, but aimed fire, intended to end the battle as quickly as possible.
Now, doesn’t that sound better than just firing wild in full-auto?
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below: