5 Prepper Firearms to Have When the SHTF

ReadyNutrition fans, this segment is going to cover five weapons in particular that you should familiarize yourself with and train up on.  You don’t necessarily have to buy these weapons or even know a private individual that has them, although either case would benefit you.  One of the suggestions I make will depend heavily on the state you reside in.  There are many gun shops and firearms ranges that will “rent” a weapon to you…even full-automatic weapons…for use in their range.  Let’s cover five weapons that it would behoove you to train on: two pistols, two rifles, and a shotgun.

5 Prepper Firearms to Have When the SHTF

  1. AR-15: The mainstay of the U.S. Armed Forces (M-16, now the M-4) for the past fifty years. It’s not going to be mothballed anytime soon.  Those .223 rounds are about as common as they will ever be.  Everything in the military and law enforcement is geared around this system.  M16A4 and the M-4 carbine being the designators for the model carried by the U.S. Armed forces.  Cyclic Rate of Fire: 700 – 900 rpm (rounds per minute).  Caliber: 5.56 x 45 mm.  Effective Range: 500 meters/550 yards.
  2. AK-47: Widely available in semiautomatic form, firing a 7.62 x 39 mm round. The Russian ammo is harder to come by now; the Chinese ammo is more readily available, and the rounds are coated, unlike the Russian rounds.  Winchester and Remington also make “boxer” primed rounds that can be reloaded.  The full-auto version can be found in your higher-end ranges and fired for a price.  Cyclic Rate of Fire: 600 rpm.  Effective Range: 300 meters/328 yards.  The availability, coupled with the fact that the upgraded versions are almost identical is the reason to train on such a weapon…a rifle that, if the “Red Dawn” scenario occurs, you will surely see again…and possibly need to employ.
  3. Beretta 9 mm Pistol: A semiautomatic pistol in service with the U.S. military for more than 30 years. Effective Range: 45 meters/50 yards.  Rate of Fire: Semiautomatic.  Caliber: 9 x 19 mm.  The U.S. military phased out the M1911 for “economics and accuracy,” only to find the stopping power is less than the .45, which is presently experiencing a resurgence and possible complete return.  Still, the 9mm Beretta is an excellent “starter pistol” to train with: it’s still in service in the military and law enforcement and is not disappearing anytime soon.
  4. M1911 Pistol: A semiautomatic pistol, arguably (and I follow the “pro” argument) one of the finest weapons ever produced. In service with the military more than half a century.    Effective Range: 45 meters/50 yards.  Rate of Fire: Semiautomatic.  Caliber: .45 ACP.  The U.S. military should have never let it go…for a good recap on the .45 cartridge, refer to my recent article at ReadyNutrition entitled The Great Defender: You’ll Want This By Your Side When It Hits the Fan.”  Stopping power, ease of operation, and durability…you can’t do better.  The 1911 is making a comeback and is as plentiful as ever.
  5. Mossberg model 500-Series 12-gauge shotgun: As Rage Against the Machine so eloquently phrased it, “Pistol grip pump on my lap at all times!” Yes, indeed, the 500 series is the successor to the Remington 870 (another beauty that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it).  You can do no finer.  Stick with that pistol grip pump or leave that stock on the back if you feel more comfortable.  Many recommend the Bennelli Black Eagle, etc., in semiautomatic version, but the semis tend to jam in a manner that the pump shotgun does not.  Stagger your ammo with 12-gauge slugs and 000 (“triple-ought”) buckshot.  Effective range is about 25 meters (50 feet) unless you train with it frequently for longer distances.  In any event, what’s in front of you will go down.

Read more about long-term home defense solutions

By training with these weapons, you will be familiarizing yourself with firearms you will definitely see in one way, shape, or form in a SHTF scenario.  Learning how to operate these will stimulate you to develop skills and perhaps to purchase one or more in civilian/legal ownership form.  There are also plenty of qualified instructors to be found in these ranges, and a high-end range that is worth its salt will provide one for you to familiarize you with the weapon free of charge before you fire it.  Keep your powder dry, don’t stop the training, and try out these five…you won’t be disappointed.  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 12th, 2017
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  • Mitch Bubbley

    In service with the military more than half a century.

    Minus the word “half”.

    • No idea why he said half a century.
      The Colt’s Government Model 1911 in various incarnations, has obviously been in service for 106 years.

  • wally63

    My vote is the 7.62×39 caliber of the AK Series battle rifles. Other calibers are OK, but the 7.62 ammo is almost universal by now. AK’s also can be found in 5.56×45 (.223) as well, but magazines for the .223 are not as readily bought as the 7.62 mags. Same comment for the 5.45 x 39 AK-74 version – ammo and mags not as easily found. Get a stamped or milled receiver, both are fine, but the milled versions are pricier. Stay with the original AK-47 steel 30 round “banana” mags, preferably ones that are genuine military surplus such as East German, Polish, Chinese, Russian, Yugoslavian, and a few other points of origin. Synthetic mags are OK, but you cannot go wrong with the “factory” steel mags. AK-47’s “love” the steel cased lacquer-coated ammo so pay no attention to the more expensive brass cased ammo if you are watching your $$$.

  • John Hattabaugh

    great article sir. i’d probably wind up getting the ak. sure the ar gives it a run for the money, but you can go anywhere with the ak. the ak is NOT a fine swiss watch. it doesn’t need to be. having said that to say this, the ak truly does take a licking and keeps on ticking.
    as for the beretta; it is a joy to diassemble/assemble. it is easy to fix when something goes “snap” instead of “boom”. granted the 9mm round may not be the best man stopper, but the cartridge is everywhere. it’s almost as ubiquitous as the .22lr. in my book. when the balloon does go up, I want ammo sources beyond my stockpile, i’m gonna need it. badly. the .45acp ammo might not be all that plentiful and even downright scarce. same can be said about the 1911 platform (parts, mags, etc.) as well. the beretta and 9mm ammo (parts, mags, etc.) won’t be as scarce. and more easily bartered or traded for.
    lastly, as for the shotgun; yes, a pump beats a semi-auto shotgun hands down, for ease of operation, fixing/repairing, but another shotgun option to consider, might be the single-shot shotgun. that weapon system is even easier on my now primitive repair kit, repair abilities, and my ammo supply. weapons system reliability and ammo conservation is the name of the game in this scenario.
    all of the previous is my food for thought on the article. have a great day to all.
    carry on!!

  • walcon

    A semi auto in .22 is a fine protection weapon. Being able to have 25 rounds, easy to reload, ammo is light, is more quiet and can be fired faster with more accuracy. A great backup.

  • Bolofia

    If you have a strong preference for the 7.62X39 AK round, a good alternative to the AK pattern is the SKS. With a longer barrel, the SKS has superior accuracy and range. It can stand up to the same punishment as an AK and is incredibly easy to maintain. The only drawback is that it comes with in internal 10 round box magazine, but this can be replaced with an external 30 round version similar to the AK. I have no particular axe to grind against the AK, but recoil and limited accuracy/range makes it a less than perfect choice when compared to the AR-15.

  • vocalpatriot

    1) .22lr rifle
    2) pistol (defense cal like 9mm or 45acp for example)
    3) bolt action rifle (,30 cal range like .30-06 or .308)
    4) semi auto rifle (also .30 cal.)
    5) pump action shotgun (preferably 12 ga.)
    every prepared person should have all of these(if possible), not just some of these.
    And that is as specific as this “list” should be.

  • Kregg Deur

    Forgot the most important one that all can handle. Many people can’t handle an AK or 1911, too much power (even with practice). Same goes for an AR or M9. And unless you are a man over 150lbs, forget a 12ga. For many modern firearms, size does matter. If you a small, light weight, you will not be able to control full power weapons and are a danger to those around you. All Preppers should have a Ruger 10/22 with 25 round magazines (I recommend at least 2 per family unit). If I could only have one firearm, this would be it. Ammo is light weight and finally abundant and cheap (6-10 cents a round). Children and smaller women can handle it. Super accurate with no recoil, so keeping rounds on target is easy. With the exception of some really big game (bears, elk, moose, etc), this gun will take all wild game you will need to eat in a survival situation (I know you can’t legally shot white tail with 22LR, but I’m talking after the Crash). It will kill. 5 rounds of HV 22LR will do the same to a person and a round of 00BUCK or a burst of 5.56. And for less money 🙂

  • I.D.Servesit

    25 meters is > 75 feet.

  • jrhartley

    Ans. 1 & 2. AR vs AK, YAWN……just choose one already. In reality, neither is better than the other, but it simply boils down to which one YOU can handle easily, and are confident with.
    Ans. 3 Swap that Beretta 92 for a Glock 17. Simple, stupid, and cheap.
    Ans. 4 The same as Ans. 3. (sell your 1911 and buy some seeds)
    Ans. 5 Forget pump-action, buy a used Benelli M1 or M2 Super 90 (NOT the Black Eagle) In 21 years of owning an M1 (shooting 3 gun) it has never jammed, or failed to feed including using light 1oz Dove loads when I hunt with it.

    Before we tied up with calibers or gear, let’s remember the pioneers of old, who managed to survive, hunt, and protect themselves with one single shot musket and perhaps a pistol of the same cailber. Survival is more about using your brain that what gun you have, but if you can only afford one gun, forget the whole lot of the above and just buy yourself a Ruger 10/22 and a couple of bricks of 500 rounds.

  • Agree with the caliber and gauge recommendations.
    But it’s not necessary to go with the rather crudely made AK variants in order to make good use of the widely available 7.62×39 round. Many modern rifles are chambered for it, including the Ruger Mini 30.
    Ditto the Beretta M9. Much better pistols are chambered for the 9×19 Luger round, including the highly desirable Glock 19 and 43.

  • El Mac

    Lot of half baked info in this article.

  • Maynard

    Good list, but if you don’t have a .22 in your arsenal, you’re lacking indeed. Not every situation in a SHTF scenario is going to be self defense or shooting big game. A .22 is perfect for small game and doesn’t make a lot of noise.

  • There are more Glock 22s, 23s, and 27s on the hips of LEOs than 9mms and 1911s.

  • blad

    This list is semi-crap. You couldnt give me a beretta, they are junk.

    2-AR’s
    2-AK’s
    2 10/22’s
    2- CZ bolt 22 w/scope
    2-glock 9mm’s
    2- pump 12g (winchester)
    2- 30 cal suppressors
    2-22 suppressors
    2- Compound bows and training
    5000 rds ammo for EACH gun
    2 FLIR scopes
    2 ANPVS14 scopes
    2- TA11 Acogs

    Thats a much better list

  • Paladin 911

    If you have move quickly, how are going to haul your ass and all those guns and ammo too?

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