Able bodied citizens should own firearms for defense of themselves, their families and their country. Naturalized citizens, male and female, vow to take up arms to defend the United States and Constitution. Selective Service says males have an obligation to serve when called.
Two evacuations, a home burglary and advancing years have me examining my firearms in light of what I might reasonably evacuate with and leave to my heirs. Firearms can last for centuries. Some have fired cannon-lock wall guns from Tannenberg Castle THE TANNENBURG GONNE .75" BORE (handgonne.com). Firearms may be made of rust-resistant materials with chrome lined barrels and durable finishes. Firearms made in the millions may have the bugs worked out with replacement parts and knowledgeable gunsmiths widely available. Some designs are inherently less likely to cause problems for decades. As an extreme example, a science fiction author suggested the .75 caliber Brown Bess flintlock as a survival weapon for stranded space travelers. A modern flintlock rifle with .50 bullets would equal penetration with greater accuracy. A synthetic or aluminum ramrod won’t split or stab your hand. I haven’t owned a muzzle loading rifle, but include this thought for worst case scenarios.
Guns can be used for effective defense. Most events resolve without a shot being fired. I have only fired one shot with intent to save a life. It was a warning shot into the ground which stopped a big man slamming his girlfriend’s head against a concrete sidewalk. Otherwise, there have been a dozen times I was glad to have a firearm available (about half with animals in camp, at night).
Handguns leave a hand free to open a door, hold a flashlight, cellphone, or child; or fend off an attacker with bad breath. Pocket guns don’t gain attention by criminals or police. The neighbor who knocked for sugar at midnight wasn’t terrified by the gun hidden in my robe pocket. She was making a cake for her son’s birthday even though we both worked swing shift and stores weren’t open (yes I was around when 7-11 were the store hours).
A handgun may be secured in a locked drawer. A double-action revolver may be loaded/un-loaded and cleaned without cocking the hammer. Revolvers can rest loaded for decades without any springs under tension to weaken or fail. Metal parts can break from metal fatigue when under spring tension for decades. Revolvers are usable with cartridges having a great variety of bullet nose shapes and power levels (.38/.357 Magnum). Revolvers retain the cartridge case which makes reloading easier.
American ammunition factories made only military ammunition during World Wars One and Two. You may want to store a five-year supply to get you through. Ammunition made today should be good for 50-70 years with dry, room temperature storage. After losing my stockpile, the recent ammo shortfall left .22 Long Rifle, 12-gauge shotgun and NATO ammunition (9x19mm, 5.56X45mm, 7.62X51mm) on store shelves. Over a dozen nations make NATO ammo for their own use so those factories geared up for export to the USA.
The FBI rates the 9mm, with expanding bullets, equal to larger calibers against humans. I’ve also read it works against bears. I have fair confidence in availability for the next fifty-years. 9mm revolvers usually require a sheet metal ‘moon clip’ to facilitate ejection and loading. These clips may be lost or bent out of reliable shape. A springy moon clip can defeat a firing pin. The 22-ounce Charter Pitbull uses spring loaded extractors to eliminate the need for clips. Model # 79920 | Charter Arms (charterfirearms.com)
Other revolver calibers to consider are the .22 LR (Long Rifle), .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, .38 Special/.357 Magnum and .45 Colt. The .22 LR is least expensive, lightweight, and available BUT is a less reliable stopper for humans or bears. Reloader’s may favor the .45 Colt designed to be a man and horse stopper with flat-point lead bullets and black powder. Charter Arms made a five-shot, 22-ounce, .45 Colt pocket revolver (not on the California roster). CHARTER ARMS 74530 BULLDOG XL .45 LC 2.5IN Stainless Steel FS | Guns Warehouse
Rifles generally give better accuracy than handguns because of a longer sight radius and four points of contact. .22 LR rifles are reputed to be reliable stoppers for people within 100-yards. Browning makes the nice SA22 takedown. The newer Savage A22 features detachable rotary magazines for quicker loading and unloading. The .223/5.56 NATO is used by police and military and has low penetration through apartment walls. The .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO should be available for decades of heavy duty. Iron peep sights are fairly easy to use. You just look through the little hole and put the target on top of the front sight. A 9mm folding carbine can weigh just 4-5 pounds and fit in a backpack or dresser drawer. New: Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P FPC Folding Carbine :: Guns.com
It has always taken years to arm our troops for a major war. The Viet-Nam War saw us field a new .223 rifle with only .30 caliber cleaning rods in country. The designed-for ammunition wasn’t supposed to require cleaning in a dry temperate climate (or Siberia). The Army save some bucks by recycling poorly stored World War Two powder that filled the receiver with limestone fouling. You may want your own rifle. How And Why The M16 Failed In Vietnam (And Is It Reliable Today?) - Pew Pew Tactical
I don’t own forty-acres or a mule and couldn’t evacuate with them. My emergency food plan is to hunt large animals. Rifles work best for that.
I now prefer takedown long guns to avoid theft and avoid notice when going to a hotel room or traveling by bus, rail or foot. Also, take-down action guns allow cleaning from the breech without ruining accuracy by scraping the rifling crown with the cleaning rod. 7 Salty Takedown Rifles For Any Survival Situation - Gun Digest When my longarms don’t take down easily, I have used folding chair sleeves to disguise them while moving.
Shotguns shoot heavy shells (9/pound) at close range. 12-gauge is available and is a reliable intimidator as well as stopper. Remington pumps used to be reliable but since the 2020 bankruptcy the current batch has problems with reliable extraction and ejection. Los Angeles police found semi-automatic shotguns can be fired from the prone position when rioters are shooting back at you. The quiet Metrogun extension Metrogun can minimize those pesky flash mobs when poaching. Otherwise, you can hunt during storms. Hammer shotguns, like revolvers avoid metal fatigue with the hammer down. Single shot break-open shotguns are about $150. Hammer doubles are $500. They clean from the rear of the barrel and takedown to fit backpack or suitcase with 18-20-inch barrels.
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Rick Kester is a Viet Nam era veteran living in Northern California with his wife Nancy.