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Everyone has their own favorite, best, or go-to rifle. When deciding on a rifle for bugging out, buggin in, defensive, offensive, and just plain’old usefulness you need to consider many factors.
Everyone has their own favorite, best, or go-to rifle. When deciding on a rifle for bugging out, buggin in, defensive, offensive, and just plain’old usefulness you need to consider many factors.
That being said, listing the 10 “best survival rifles” requires some compromise and some decisions to prioritize your most important features. There is no single perfect survival rifle. It doesn’t exist because everyone’s concerns are different and there are too many unique survival scenarios to consider.
Also owning ten survival rifles won’t do you much good, unless you have a very large family or a caddy to carry all your guns and ammo, and that stuff isn’t too light, if you haven’t noticed. So I decided to fight conventional wisdom and focus primarily on the top five (or what I consider the best of each survival category) and then give you five runner-ups.
Questions you need to ask yourself. What are the roles we expect out survival rifles to play?
So let’s take a look at each task and the best survival rifles to accomplish them.
In an actual survival situation, you may need to live off the land, and that means we can’t overlook small game.
There are a lot more squirrel, rabbit, possum and other varmints around than there are deer. Shooting a buck might feed the family for weeks, but those won’t be as common as smaller, more plentiful game.
Squirrel is easily found, even in urban areas and can be harvesting easily and feed your family.
But in the small game arena, there are many excellent rifles, each firing a variety of respectable calibers.
Great calibers for small game.
.17 HMR cartridge is flat shooting, very high velocity round and realize it’s the be all and end all of the varmint rounds.
.22 Magnum is a powerful small round, higher velocity than .22 LR, fired by great extremely accurate rifles. Enough power to take coyotes and mid sized animals, but more expense than .22 LR.
.22 LR is by far the most popular choice and the most versatile for various reasons. Plentiful and inexpensive, Usually.
Reason 1 – The .22 LR is never in stock at your wally world, because people recognize this cartridge as the most versatile, desirable, and affordable survival round. People hoard them by the thousands when they do become available.
Reason 2 – It’s the only cartridge I know where you can walk around with a thousand rounds in your pocket—or a lifetime supply in your backpack. They don’t weight much.
So it’s a well-established fact that the .22 LR makes the grade for best survival small game caliber. So let’s choose our small game survival rifle to match the best survival ammo. And there’s only one choice:
Ruger 10/22 platform has been around since 1964. Since the 10/22 has been around for so long, it has been one of the most reliable, semi-automatic rifles, and you can easily modify your rifle with many aftermarket products available.
The Ruger and the Remington are competitors in the semi-automatic .22LR regime, however, over the years the public has voted with their pocketbooks and the Ruger comes out on top.
Plus, the newer take-down versions break down into component pieces. So you can easily store it in a backpack to be reassembled later as the situation requires. Perfect for those who’s survival plan includes bugging out.
So your family is sick of squirrel and rabbit stew, and suddenly that ten point buck presents itself at 300 yards. Which rifle do you wish you had in your hands in that situation?
You will need a cartridge that can have power at 300 yards. You also need to kill that deer with one shot. You don’t want to wound him and then lose him.
If you do get off a bad shot but you still hit him, you want something that will slow him down so you can track. So we’re not talking about mid-sized cartridges, like a 125 grain 5.56 or 7.62 x 39mm traveling at 2100-2400 FPS.
You want something in the 170-220 grain region in .30 caliber soft-point or better traveling 2700-3000 FPS. We’re talking .30-06, .308 Winchester or .300 Win Mag.
So what is the best rifle for delivery of this type bullet? Well the US Army and US Marine Corps are pretty good references to begin with.
2. Remington 700
The Remington 700, in one form or another, has been the mainstay of the bolt-action snipers around the world for decades.
The Remington 700 in military trim is still a frontline bolt action sniper rifle. A high-quality scope is a must for this long range survival rifle. So you can’t go cheap on optics if you want something that is going to last.
Keeping the bad guys away from your people by killing them at long range is usually a safer bet than having them at your front door.
Your personal morality may have to come into question on how you potentially handle a SHTF situation and protecting your family. However, you decide to send a message to others to stay away, you will want precision and make an impactful statement.
That means you need accuracy and lethality.
So why not pick the Remington 700? Surely, if your survival rifle can take down a deer at 400 yards, it can take down a man at 400 yards. No doubt. However, the benefit of the bolt action on accuracy is also a liability when it comes to quick follow up shots or multiple moving targets.
The deer might stand there wondering what the kicked up dirt next to it means and wait there for a second follow up shot, but humans will realize immediately what’s happening.
So a semi-automatic option is your best choice when hunting the “most dangerous game”; Man.
When we’re talking semi-auto, lethal and accurate at these ranges, we’re talking a scoped AR-15 in 5.56 NATO—or maybe a scoped AR-10 in .308 NATO. The AR-10 has the better knockdown power, however, the recoil of the 5.56 mm round fired from an AR-15 with a quality buffer is negligible, so your aim is less affected.
Your shots should come fast, with easy acquisition of your second, third and fourth targets. Quality AR-15s are cheaper than the AR-10 and so is the 5.56 mm round.
You can carry quite a few rounds on your person as opposed to the .308, .30-06 or the like, and they are readily available and affordable—at least before the excrement hits the fan. So stock up.
In close quarters, you need a weapon that is both accurate and reliable.
There’s a reason weapons developed for military use, are perfect for 200 yards or less. They were designed for that exact purpose. We’re talking guaranteed lethal hits on man-sized targets at less than 100 yards. There is one other significant problem at this distance—you can expect the bad guys to shoot back.
In close quarters, every round you fire must count, and the weapon cannot malfunction. A rifle malfunction at 400 yards takes just a moment to clear—a moment you might not have at 50 yards. So what would I recommend?
There is only one logical choice—the favorite weapon of every bad guy, dictator, and communist in the world—the AK-47.
I’m not talking about a real full-auto AK-47. You can’t just pick up a full auto AK-47 on Gunbroker. I’m talking about semi-automatic AK-47 variants and there are many versions and brands, but the beautiful thing about them, is they all work the same.
A full auto is relatively useless, unless you are fighting in a small room or spraying and praying to provide covering fire for someone else. Accuracy goes out the window in full auto and you waste a valuable resource, bullets.
The AK design is tough and designed for the mechanical torture of full auto operation. In semi-auto operation, everything is simple, over-engineered and reliable.
I’ve owned a couple cheap AK variants over the years and have fired thousands of rounds through them. I don’t even clean it very often and I have never experienced a jam.
The 7.62×39 mm round is lethal and even cheaper than the 5.56 mm. Inside 200 yards the AK has decent accuracy. However, the one concession I would make is to add a red-dot sight to enhances the shooting experience and buy many magazines. With the 30 round magazine as standard and keep them loaded and ready in your gun safe.
In an urban area, you can’t keep people from getting close to home.
At this point in a perfect world, you could choose to engage the bad guy with a handgun—but the word handgun does not appear in the title of this article. So let’s assume you are grabbing for something larger. So what would you prefer?
When you are in close quarters combat, you naturally begin to spray and pray. If you have the AR-15 or AK-47 variant, you can make a lot of noise and poke a lot of holes in your walls, possibly killing your family members in the next room, however, if you want to remove doubt at close quarters—use a shotgun.
5. Mossberg 500
A tactical, pump 12 gauge, such as the Mossberg 500, can take spraying and praying to a whole new level. You fire a couple shells down your hallway, you are going to hit your target and probably more than once
Regular, long hunting shotguns are at a disadvantage in these conditions but if you have one, you would use it. I would prefer to have a shorter, tactical version or even one with a pistol grip. Kel-Tec also makes a bull pub shot gun that would be a perfect choice, especially since it can hold up to 15 rounds. There is a reason why mossberg calls one of their shotguns “The Chainsaw”. It will cut down just about anything in its way.
Buckshot increases your likelihood of a hit, but a slug delivers an exceptionally deadly blow at close quarters. Here are the two big differences.
A shot pattern does not guarantee incapacitation. Now if the intruder gets hit with shot that may not neccessarily take him down immediately, but you hit him with 00-buckshot I guarantee he’s going down.
You’d prefer him to be unable to make any retaliation.
Any head or torso shot with a slug or buckshot is going to blow a significant hole in him, and all the desire to reach you or your family will leave immediately.
My personal shotgun of choice is the Kel-tec KSG, but the Mossberg 500 in its many variants in 12 gauge, which also happens to be the shotgun of choice for the US Army.
So what is the best all around Survival Rifle?
So if I could only take one, what do I consider the best all-around survival rifle? I would not choose a 10/22 although it is a great rifle. I do think there may be a better choice—or at least a marginally better choice.
I personally would have to choose AR-15 for my all around rifle. Not the best, by far in many categories, but good enough to use in just about any situation.
So how about some runner’s up? Here are some other best survival rifles to consider:
Written by Rich G, SHTFandGO LLC. excerpts taken from other articles
AR vs. Bolt Rifle: What’s the Difference?
If you’re new to the sports of shooting and hunting, you’ve probably found yourself staring dumbfounded at the vast array of guns lining the walls of your local gun shop—wood-stocked long guns, carbon-fiber ARs and lever-action rifles that look straight out of a Western movie. Theoptions are endless.
So, what’s the difference between these guns? It’s quite simple and, depending on your intended use, you may find one option better suited to your uses than the other. Here are the most important differences between the two most popular rifle styles: AR and bolt action.
All About the AR
An AR rifle, or “modern sporting rifle,” is not just for the military or law enforcement. In fact, over the past decade, ARs have become a very popular firearm choice for hunting and target shooting. A lot of false information has created confusion on just what an AR rifle actually is and does, so it’s important to understand the platform.
“AR” does not stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” In fact, the “AR”, as in AR-15, stands for “ArmaLite rifle,” with the name being adopted from the company that first developed this style of rifle in the 1950s. In reality, “assault rifles” are fully automatic (imagine a machine gun), and automatic firearms have been heavily restricted to civilians since 1934.
ARs use what is called a “semiauto action,” meaning that every time the trigger is pulled, a bullet is launched from the barrel, the case is automatically ejected, and another cartridge is immediately fed from the magazine into the firing chamber. Before another bullet can be fired, however, the trigger must be pulled again, and so the process is repeated.
The AR is versatile and exceptionally accurate. ARs consist of two main components commonly referred to as “upper” and “lower” receivers. The upper receiver of an AR is comprised of the barrel, chamber and handguard. This can easily be swapped for other uppers to chamber your rifle to different calibers by simply popping two pins. Chamberings for the AR platform include .22, .223 (5.56x45mm), 6.8 SPC, .308, .450 Bushmaster, and more.
The upper receiver is where the operating system of the gun is located. ARs can consist of two different operating systems: gas impingement and gas piston. With a gas impingement system, gas is diverted from the barrel through a tube and back into the upper receiver to operate the action. With a gas-piston operating system, gas is funneled from the barrel to drive a piston that works like the action.
The lower receiver consists of the buttstock and grip. These also can be changed to fit your needs. Not happy with your short stock? Looking for a grip with more traction? No problem. Swap them for a Blackhawk Knoxx Replacement Adjustable Carbine Rifle Buttstock, a Blackhawk AR-15 Ergonomic Grip, or a host of other accessories.
Along with those easy changes you can make, the AR can easily be tailored to individual shooters. Almost all of the components of an AR can be swapped out. Replace the stock trigger, buy a different gas block, add a Blackhawk offset flashlight rail mount or a Picatinny rail to mount a Blackhawk SPR Optics Mount for a scope, or simply change the handguard to fit your liking. The options are endless.
Bolt Gun Basics
Unlike the AR, which uses gases and a lot of moving parts to operate, a bolt gun has a much simpler design.
The traditional bolt gun uses a bolt-action system to fire. Unlike semiauto actions, where the cartridge automatically ejects when fired and then a new round is fed into the chamber, bolt guns require you to manually open the bolt, which ejects the cartridge. You then push the bolt forward, which drives the new round from the magazine into the firing chamber. This process must be repeated each time before firing a new round. Because bolt guns have fewer moving mechanical parts and don’t require the use of gases to make the gun work, bolt guns are commonly believed to be more reliable than ARs.
Unlike ARs, not as many components of a bolt gun can be swapped or added to the rifle. Commonly made with wood, laminate, and composite stocks, bolt-action rifles do allow some customization, including replaceable stocks, triggers, and scope mounts.
Additionally, bolt-action rifles can be chambered in dozens of different calibers. The 16/116 Savage Lightweight Hunter bolt-action rifle, for example, is available in .223 Rem., .243 Win., .270 Win., .308 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, and 7mm-08 Rem. Numerous other calibers are available for bolt-action rifles for use on big game that range in size from deer to elk including .30-06, .300 Win. Mag., and .338 Win. Mag., all the way down to small game such as squirrels or coyotes with rounds including .22 or .17 Hornet.
Which One is For You?
Between the modularity of the AR, which allows you to customize it to your preferences, and the reliability of a bolt-action rifle, you really can’t go wrong with either. I’ve hunted bears in the backcountry while carrying the Lightweight Hunter chambered in .270 and walked away with a beautiful black bear shot at 230 yards. My friend and fellow bear hunter, David Faubion, carried an AR on the same hunt, and he walked away with an old sow. Both guns performed as promised, and I came to one conclusion: You can’t go wrong by buying one of each.
Booby traps are devices set up with the intent to surprise, harm, or even kill a unknowing victim. They are triggered by the presence or unwitting actions of another.
Booby traps have been used since ancient times. Cave drawings indicate even prehistoric humans used them as a means of capturing prey, such as in “pit falls” where a large hole is dug and spikes placed inside. The hole is then covered.
Historically speaking, booby traps do not win wars. They are, however, considered a key element in psychological warfare. Also known as PSYWAR, psychological warfare is by definition, something that is done to either deceive, manipulate or otherwise influence an opponent and to incite hopelessness, fear, despair and loss of morale. Used extensively in WWII and Vietnam, booby trap effects have caused many surviving soldiers long-term pain and trauma.They can also be an effective early warning system. However, they can also cause civilian casualties, be inadvertently set off by friendlies or neutral people within the vicinity, and sometimes even by animals or natural events. They are also dangerous to set up if using any explosive materials. Caution should be used. One way to hopefully limit unnecessary injury would be to secure the perimeter with non lethal alert devices. Hopefully once someone has realized they are approaching traps, they will turn around. If they continue, then chances are they are either hostile or being driven that direction by hostile forces.
Booby traps come in two main categories: anti tank, and anti personnel. We will start with the former.
Automatic road blocks work much in the same way as a regular trip wire except that they designed in ways that impede traffic and damage vehicles. The end of a strong wire is attached to a secure point on one side of the road. Perhaps looped around a large tree. On the other side it is attached to something to be pulled into the road. A common option is to attach an anchor to another tree and chop it almost to the point of falling. The cord must be taut and high enough that a vehicle will pull it in the correct direction and not run over it. The cut tree is pulled down into the road, damaging the vehicle and effectively creating a road block. This method was employed by the Japanese when fighting the Allied Forces in the Philippines. It can be effective as a standalone device to slow the opposition, or as onset of an ambush.
Another trip wire mechanism that can be adjusted to block a road, is a simple explosive charge set next to a makeshift retaining wall on a hill or cliff. Rocks, stones, branches and debris are piled behind the obstruction. It may be necessary to route the wire through small anchors to adjust for the angle of the hill. Once armed and triggered, a small avalanche plummets onto the road, injuring and blocking enemy forces.
Caltrops have been used since Medieval times, possibly earlier, as a way to impede incoming troops and damage cavalry and have since evolved into an effective way to combat automobiles. A metal worker can create them quite easily out of small hollow pipes that are bent and welded together. This option allows for more rapid air escape and therefore faster deflation and blowout of the tire; theoretically any metal strong enough and sharp enough to withstand the weight of the vehicle can be used as long as it is fashioned in such a way that one blade is always pointing up.
Even vehicles themselves have been used as booby traps. A charge can be detonated by opening the door, or turning on the ignition (which seems to be popular in the movies). Bombs can also be detonated by impact, where the cars themselves were used as roadblocks. If an armored vehicle attempts to simply pummel through and push the vehicles aside, they explode.
Now we get to the category where most preppers are focusing their efforts. Home invasion protection and anti personnel defensive booby traps.
The most common booby trap as far as prepping is concerned is probably the trip wire. Easy to set up with nothing more than a piece of string and a personal panic alarm. It is easily improvised and can detonate explosives, fire weapons, or activate spotlights for early detection.
Pressure plates can be simple DIY projects, or can be purchased prefabricated. Again, these can be improvised to either turn on lights, sound an air-horn, or detonate explosives. I personally would not attach explosives to these as they are usually placed quite close to your residence as a final warning someone has made it to your door. Some can be quite sensitive and can easily be activated by a dog or other fair-sized animal. If you are placing them further away from your home, or do not care about potential house fire, explosives could be used. One additional and interesting use for these is their ability to be an automatic door opener, if you want a secret entrance and hide it well.
Mobility Denial System (MDS) is a deterring slime that can come in handy (if you can get your hands on any) It is a last line of defense as it will create an impassable surface directly around your home for 6-12 hours. It was invented for the Marine Corps and police riot protection. It is not readily available, however if you were to put your mind to it, you could up with something along the same lines. You want to deter any hostile party, by any means necessary, before they ever get that close to you, and preferably either drive them back or keep them at bay until you can retaliate.
Spikes. They can be as simple as large nails in boards turned upwards around your yard in the tall grass. They could be placed over a hole so that when stepped on with any force, the person’s foot snaps the board, goes into the hole and the nails impale their ankles. In times of war they were often coated with toxic material or feces to promote infection. Some people attach them to stones or logs to create pendulum contraptions that are triggered by a trip wire. Personally I find this a foolish waste of time. A well-trained individual can evade such a device. It would probably take less time to dig small trenches, which might at least sprain some ankles, but to each their own. Spikes on boards can also be weighted and submerged into creek beds and ponds.
Razor wire and barbed wire is another option for underwater depending on how long it stays there. It can also be used similarly to trip wire in heavily vegetative areas where it can be concealed. I’d recommend a matte finish, camouflaged to blend in. In can be used along top fencing, around windows etc… Anywhere you would want to deter someone, perhaps diverting them into even more unfavorable habitat where you have a greater advantage.
Bullets can be set inside a small section of bamboo, atop a firing pin, and buried until just the tip is exposed. If stepped on with any amount of force the bullet explodes.
Hand Grenades. If you can acquire them, all you need is a tin can and a piece of string and duct time and you can secure any door. This is dangerous for the person loading them, but were widely used in WWII and Vietnam. Tie a string around the grenade under the handle. Depress the trigger handle and pull the pin. Quickly and carefully slide it into the tin can. Secure the can somewhere with tape or wedge it tightly. Attach the string to a door handle or use as a trip wire. When the door is open or trap is triggered, the grenade dislodges from the can and detonates.
Remember that booby traps are just one element in the line of defense. Their primary purpose is to slow down the enemy, instill fear, reduce moral, and possibly to injure, maim, or kill. The time these traps may buy you can be greatly varied. Use it wisely and remember, offense and defense are opposite sides of the same coin. You need both or you are broke.
Recognizing the extreme injustice of recent liability suits awarding home invaders large sums for getting injured while burglarizing a house, it could be considered foolish to construct booby traps unnecessarily, regardless of intention or the degree of danger. That being said, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t use them, or wish they had them to use, when put into a potentially deadly situation.
Stay safe, and happy prepping!
In order to be a great bow hunter, you’ll have to go through years of training and experience. It’s just like playing a musical instrument; at first, you don’t know what you’re doing, but with a lot of practice and determination, you’ll find yourself playing sonatas. It’s just the same with archery and bow hunting, but sometimes, you can’t improve by yourself. Thus, I’ve put together this article on bow hunting tips for all beginner hunters. Enjoy!
Weigh between speed and accuracy
Sometimes, you have to choose between the two. And as a beginner bow hunter, you’re bound to have trouble accomplishing a shot with both. Personally, I recommend practicing accuracy first. You’ll need to be more experienced with hitting a target dead on that hitting it at a fast rate.
On the other hand, speed is something that comes naturally (at least for me). I’d say speed will come when accuracy is improved. In other words, once you start hitting those bulls-eyes dead on, your speed is bound to improve as your confidence increases as well. Vice versa, speed will help your accuracy, as faster arrows bound to fly straight at the target.
For beginners, it’s important to master both. But not necessarily at the same time. When you’re out hunting, however, accuracy is more important, but speed weighs in a good amount, as well.
Pick a bow and stick with it
When it comes to archery and bow hunting, mastering your weapon is the best way towards experience. Choosing the right bow is a little bit of trial and error, so I don’t blame you for switching between bows. However, keep this in mind: the right bow will just feel right in your hands, and you’ll know when you have it. Under this, we consider weight of the bow, style, design, length, and these factors relative to your own dimensions and preferences.
If you do, however, find a bow that you can stick with, I highly suggest that you do so. Mastering your weapon will make your bow more of an invaluable friend than a hunting tool, and shooting an arrow will feel like a second instinct.
Generally, the more you master your bow and practice with it, I’d say that your accuracy and precision will improve as well. This is especially important if your target is to go bow hunting soon.
Work tirelessly on your form
The better the form, the higher the accuracy, speed, and precision of your shots. Find and practice the right form, with the proper stance, torso position, and grip relative to the target.
On this matter, I recommend asking an experienced bow hunter or bow hunting expert to assess your form. Ask for an evaluation afterward, which you can use to point out the things you need to do right/better. It also helps to watch Youtube videos wherein you can see bow hunters demonstrating a proper form.
Tip: practice in front of a mirror and compare your stance, torso position, and grip to a standard.
Practice in different settings
Actual bow hunting entails practice shooting in different situations and settings. For instance, you need to know how to keep your bow straight on a windy day, as much as you need to know how to shoot in low light.
It’s best if you practice when the weather is not that good, maybe a little windy. That way, you get to practice your aim in the wind. Another example is practicing near sunset, which will allow you to train with your bow sight in low light settings.
The trick here is to set yourself in a little diversity. After all, you never know what you’re going to expect in the wilderness.
Study, study, study
Reading goes a long way. When you’re a beginner bow hunter, it immensely helps if you read on your niche. Deer hunting tips, bow sight usage, accuracy and precision tips—all of these stored in your mind can help you apply them on the field and in practice.
Also, I emphasize the importance on reading about survival tips. These are the bits of information that you need stored at the back of your head at all times, especially in risky hunting situations and seasons.
Invest in high-quality equipment
When I was a beginner hunter, I wore all the wrong things and hated myself while freezing on the field. So, take it from me and choose the right equipment and clothing to take with you on your hunting trips.
My major recommendation is to splurge a bit—on your first pair of hunting boots or hunting knife, for example, because these are practical investments. When you choose the right products, you will get the quality that you paid for.
Choosing the right equipment also goes for hunting backpacks, kits, knives, clothes, and other gear that you take on a hunting trip. As a beginner, you tend to be not used to the wilderness and discomfort can come creeping up on you unexpectedly. So, choosing the right type of equipment can get you a long way.
Practice being stealthy
When you’re a bow hunter, you have the advantage of silence unlike gun users. When hunting skittish animals like deer, most especially, it helps a great deal if you know how to carry yourself, stalk, and shoot the target in a stealthy mode altogether.
For beginners, it may be a little hard controlling your footsteps and movement in order to make the noise as minimal as possible. It’s also a bit challenging to master the way on how to carry yourself and stalk your prey effectively. However, this skill can be learned just like any other.
The key is to practice in the field. You may not succeed on the first tries, but experience is the best teacher when it comes to stealth. Just make sure to take note of your mistakes and think of ways on how you can improve them afterward.
Under stealth, you also need to learn how to be unseen. This includes masking your scent against the sensitive noses of deer and bears, as well as wearing the right color of clothing. On this matter, you can read up on tips on how to do that and apply it the next time you go buck or bear hunting.
We all start somewhere, and in bow hunting, it takes more than just a little bit of practice to master your weapon and shred in the field. This article is meant to open you up to the basics of bow hunting, which are useful if you want to learn fast in this area. To conclude, I give you this quick rundown of our tips to remember:
Ammunition selection can be one of the most intimidating challenges facing a new shooter or firearm owner. Manufacturers produce an array of different loads, with each one varying in some way from the others. Projectile weight, projectile type, velocity and other factors all differ, even among loads designed for the same firearm.
Fortunately, making sense of the diverse ammo offered by manufacturers is not as difficult as some might believe. Once you understand the various kinds of ammunition available and how they perform, you can easily select ammo to fit your intended purposes.
For new shooters trying to understand how to properly choose ammo for a specific application, below are explanations for what makes good target/training, personal defense, and hunting loads. For each category, there are also example loads given for each type of firearm: handgun, rifle and shotgun.
Whether you’re a serious shooter planning to spend a lot of time on the range or a casual plinker who shoots a few times a year, you’ll need ammo to fuel your chosen firearm. In most cases, this means buying a widely available and relatively inexpensive load.
For rifles and handguns, the cheapest cartridges, or complete loaded rounds of ammunition, are those featuring a full metal jacket (FMJ) projectile. An FMJ bullet incorporates a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal and requires less manufacturing than the bullets used in other more complex self-defense and hunting loads. This makes FMJs less expensive to produce and therefore cheaper for the customer.
With shotgun ammunition, the least expensive shells are typically lightweight target loads in No. 7 ½ shot and smaller (the higher the number, the smaller the shot). These shells are 2 ¾ inches in length and around 1 ounce in payload weight. The projectiles, called pellets, are normally lead, although some states and ranges require the use of steel shot.
In addition to cost, another important factor for target or training ammunition is how much recoil it produces. If you plan on spending any significant amount of time shooting, you’ll want a light-recoiling load that won’t wear down your hands or your shoulder. Small-bore rimfire cartridges are great in this regard, especially for new shooters who might be unfamiliar with or intimidated by recoil. It’s best to avoid magnum loads if possible.
Overall, ammunition used for general plinking, target practice and training is reasonably accurate and doesn’t break the bank, or your body.
Although cost remains a consideration for many shooters when buying personal defense ammo, of far greater concern is the ammunition’s terminal performance. When your life, or the lives of your family, is threatened, you want a load that will reliably stop that threat as quickly as possible. The most effective way to do that is to use a load that impacts the target with a lot of energy and produces the greatest amount of damage.
With rifles and handguns, this means using cartridges with a hollow-point projectile. A hollow-point bullet features a cavity in its tip designed to make the projectile expand on impact.
This expansion is key for two reasons. First, it generates a larger wound channel on the target, which increases damage. Second, it controls the amount of penetration to keep the round inside the target, which reduces the chances of harming innocent bystanders and transfers all the bullet’s kinetic energy into the target.
With shotguns, the best option are buckshot loads, as they use pellets large enough to cause serious damage. While other loads, including birdshot, may be used for self-defense, they are far less likely to provide an immediate end to the threat.
In any personal defense scenario, you want a reliable load that transfers as much energy and damage as possible without over-penetration. This ensures a quick end to a dangerous situation, and harms nothing but the target.
As with personal defense scenarios, the most important thing when it comes to hunting ammunition is using projectiles that quickly and humanely bring down the target. Reliable bullet expansion and retained kinetic energy remain large aspects of this, which is why rifle and handgun hunters — as well as shotgunners using slugs — similarly use expanding hollow point or soft point projectiles (FMJ projectiles should never be used in hunting as they will likely penetrate straight through the animal, without generating enough damage to humanely kill it).
A key difference is the need for additional penetration. While personal defense projectiles are designed to stop human beings, hunting bullets are engineered to penetrate the thick skin, dense muscle tissue and bones of game animals. These bullets are typically heavier than personal defense projectiles and retain more of their weight after entering the target.
Regardless of what you’re pursuing, the highest priority in selecting ammo for hunting should always be ensuring the cartridge or shotgun shell you choose is powerful enough to ensure an ethical kill. Using a cartridge without sufficient power is bad for the animal if it’s wounded, and, if hunting dangerous game, can put the hunter at risk, too. If you can’t decide between two cartridges, it’s best to err on the side of more power.
Caliber or gauge is certainly important when it comes to ammo selection, but often the biggest difference between two loads is the actual object or objects being propelled downrange. This is likely truer with rifle and handgun ammo than shotgun ammo because they use cartridges with single projectiles, whereas shotgun shells can contain anything from a single slug to hundreds of pellets.
With rifle and handgun cartridges there are basically two broad types of bullets: full metal jacket (FMJ) and hollow-point. There are other kinds of projectiles as well as variations of these two designs, but for beginners these are the easiest to understand.
FMJs, which feature a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, are inexpensive and great for target practice and general plinking. Hollow-point bullets, which expand on impact, are far better for personal defense and hunting because they produce larger wound channels on the target, resulting in greater damage.
For selecting shotgun ammo, the projectile (or projectiles) remains the primary concern. Aside from slugs designed for hunting, projectiles in shotgun shells — called pellets, or shot — are categorized according to their shot size. As with measuring gauge, shot size utilizes an inverse scale; the larger the shot size number, the smaller each individual pellet will be (No. 7 shot is smaller than No. 2 shot).
In general, No. 7 and higher shot are great for target shooting or hunting some small game animals, while shot sizes No. 6 and lower cover a variety of hunting scenarios. Buckshot is excellent for self-defense purposes, as well as predator and hog hunting, and shotgun slugs are ideal for hunting deer and larger game.
I have no idea why, but fear seems to be a subject that is rarely discussed or addressed when it comes to self-defense training. In a real situation you are probably going to be absolutely scared witless. When it comes to addressing fear, you avoid the subject like the plague. Yet it plays a vital part in our survival.
When it comes to self-defense, the failure to acknowledge fear and its part in survival is preparing for failure. You must understand how fear works, how you react to it, and how you can make it work for you.
Fear is not only natural, but you can guarantee in the emotional pressure cooker of a real situation that you will experience it. Accepting that you will experience fear is an important step to trying to overcome it. The adrenal dump we experience in the fight-or-flight mode of our sympathetic nervous system is a natural part of the process of fear. While the experience of fear and the adrenal dump aren’t one and the same, they certainly show up hand in hand when things go south.
The hatchet is a small axe that is one heck of a survival tool, and it lends itself to numerous applications that help you not die. Let’s go over some of the way it can be helpful in a survival situation.
You should have at least two to three different ways to start a fire, like waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, and a lighter. A hatchet is another very helpful item to have when needing to start a fire. It not only makes it much easier to cut large pieces of wood, but also functions as a striking tool to create sparks. Use as a striker only in an emergency situation to avoid premature dulling.
Finding yourself face to face with a large predator in the wild such as a cougar or bear is never ideal, and there’s no running away, as it sends a clear message that you’re food rather than a potential threat. Granted, you’d probably rather have a gun or an airbow to keep the predators at longer distances, but if things become too close, you can count on your hatchet. The hatchet works best when used in a hacking motion to maintain your defense.
Cutting ice and hard snow for water is much easier when you have a hatchet, as is digging out a snow shelter. Ice cutting will come in handy if you need to dig a hole to protect a small fire from the wind.
Should you need to create a splint, a hatchet again comes in super handy. It makes it easy to cut and fashion a splint, whether for you or an injured party member.
The metal section of a hatchet works as a light reflector, which sure is helpful if you’re alone in the wilderness and need to be rescued!
The hatchet’s back end works as a very nice hammer.
Some would argue that you only need a fixed blade knife in your pack, while others would argue that the hatchet is the more important of the two. The reality is that you should have both. If you don’t have a hatchet in your survival bag, consider purchasing one. Chances are that you’ll be very glad you have it down the road.