Top 5 Firearms You Need To Get Your Hands On NOW!

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Last Updated on January 15, 2022

To the individual who is either interested in Prepping or already knee-deep into preparing for any number of potential emergencies or disasters, security has to be one of your primary concerns. This is not any truer if you have a family than if you are all alone. The simple fact of life is that when people are scared, hurting or in some other way seriously under duress, the niceness of society disappears quickly. Someone who used to be your best friend will kill you if you are standing between food and their baby is starving.

It should be clear from any number of recent disasters where looting happened within hours that you and your family need to plan for security wherever you are. Firearms are most commonly (and for good reason) associated with security. Are there other options? Sure, but I would rather have my trusty shotgun as opposed to a baseball bat and harsh language if there were a bunch of people trying to knock down my door any day.

So, with that in mind, below are my list of the top 5 firearms you need to get your hands on now. This of course assumes you don’t have any firearms for personal protection and you aren’t philosophically opposed to defending your family’s life with deadly force if it comes to that.

Top 5 Firearms – #1 Shotgun

A shotgun is first in the top 5 firearms you should purchase
The Wilson Combat CQB Shotgun – When you have a lot of money to spend.

As I explained in my earlier post, if you only have the time or means to purchase one firearm to defend yourself and your family it should be a shotgun. Shotguns are everywhere and they are relatively inexpensive to purchase.

Where is the best place to purchase a shotgun? You can walk into just about any Walmart and pick up a reasonably priced shotgun without too many people even blinking. Shotguns are pretty simple to use, hold on average 5-6 shots, and come with a variety of ammunition options. For home defense or close quarters, a shotgun is very forgiving with respect to nervous aiming. By that I mean you don’t have to be very accurate with a shotgun to do some damage.

Even the sound of racking the slide up and down can be an effective deterrent although many will disagree with that assertion. The two most common calibers are .12 and .20 gauge. The .20 gauge is usually recommended for women and smaller kids because the recoil is less.

In addition to home defense, a shotgun is perfectly suited for hunting both small game and larger animals with the right type of ammunition. Another plus is that shotguns are plentiful and the ammunition isn’t 4 times as high now with the recent talk of gun confiscation by the federal government. You can still pick up plenty of ammo and a nice new shotgun fairly easily. For the tactical minded prepper, you can even augment your shotgun with lots of accessories similar to your pistol or AR-15.

Top 5 Firearms – #2 AR-15

AR15 - Hands down the most versatile weapon you can have if the SHTF.
AR15 – Hands down the most versatile weapon you can have if the SHTF.

Speaking of AR-15’s… This would be my second choice if you have a shotgun already. There are several reasons for making an AR-15 next on your purchase list. The first is that this is the weapon you want to use in a variety of other solutions and its strengths lie outside of the shotgun’s sweet spot.

The AR-15 chambered in .556 (will also shoot .223) gives you a highly flexible weapon platform. The AR-15 holds a higher capacity of ammunition so you will need to reload less often.

When would you possibly need 30 rounds of ammunition? What if your home was being overrun by 50 people who had wandered off the highway from the town 20 miles away and they were deadly intent on taking your home and your possessions away from you? Or on the other end of the spectrum, what if a whole busload of zombies was walking across the parking lot towards you. Wouldn’t you rather be able to take out 30 of the closest ones before you had to reload?

The AR-15, unlike a shotgun, is a medium distance hero. Where the shotgun is good for close quarters, you can’t count on hitting anything using a shotgun with any real power above 40-50 yards. The AR-15, in a competent shooter’s hand, is excellent up to 300 meters on any day. I would rather take care of the bad guys when they are very far away from me and my family.

On top of its usefulness at taking out bad guys, it uses the same ammunition that your local police department, National Guard, military, and now Homeland security use and are buying more of every day. The chance that you will be able to acquire some ammunition that is compatible with your AR-15 is very high in certain conditions.

Now, the rub is that because of the recent antics by some in our Congress, AR-15’s and the ammunition that go in them is harder to come by. It isn’t impossible though and you can still get an AR-15 for your very own personal use in most locations if you are willing to look around and wait a while.

Where can you purchase an AR-15? You can still find quite a few at gun shows everywhere and even at places like Gander Mountain and Cabela’s. Dicks Sporting goods is not stocking them anymore I believe. Pawnshops and gun stores also have them in stock, but you will be paying a premium now, unfortunately. I don’t believe this will change any time soon.

If you are waiting for the price to go back to what it was last summer I think you will be out of luck. There are also places online you can purchase them and have them shipped to your local FFL dealer. The dealer will usually charge you a small fee ($25 is normal) for the transaction and long wait times are still going to be a factor.

Ammunition is tougher to get and more expensive but it is still out there. Shop around online and go to your gun shows. My research shows that the prices are just about the same at a gun show, once you add in shipping to the retail costs. Know what the price of 500 and 1000 rounds are before you go to the gun show so you can be a savvy shopper.

Make sure you have at least six AR magazines for your rifle.

Top 5 Firearms – #3 Full-size Semi-automatic Pistol – .45 or .40

Glock 22 - Perfect as your sidearm or nightstand gun.
Glock 22 – Perfect as your sidearm or nightstand gun.

Pistols are usually the first firearm people choose for a few reasons. They are easier to handle, easier to hide, and less wieldy in general. They are the weapon most of the good guys use in the movies so the natural inclination is to get a pistol and you will be all set like Bruce Willis in Die Hard.

Pistols definitely have their place, but they would come after an AR-15 and a shotgun in my opinion. Why is that? A wise man once said that “a pistol is what you use to get back to your rifle”. Pistols are for close quarters and you want that to be the last resort. You don’t want to be that close to any bad guys.

However, it happens and pistols are an important aspect of your survival battery of arms. Run out of ammunition in your shotgun or AR-15 and then you grab the pistol. Bad guy kicks in the door while you are asleep then you reach for the pistol close to the bed.

Why am I recommending .45 or .40 and not a .9mm? It comes down to stopping power really and I know I may get some blowback on this topic. I have all three calibers, but if I could only buy one and I was buying this for home defense it would be a .40 caliber. Why not a .45? Well, for the simple fact that you can hold more rounds in the magazine of most .40 calibers because the rounds are a little smaller.

That is also why I recommend a full-size and not a sub-compact if you only have one. My 1911 .45 holds 8 rounds and my .40 holds 14. It’s just that I like options and having a few more rounds gives you more options. What about the .9mm you ask? It can hold up to 17 rounds. Yes, and like I said, I have .9mm also, but if you put a big freaked-out psychopath in front of me with a machete and told me to pick one gun to use to take him down I would pick up the .45 or .40 before the .9mm.

Where is the best place to purchase a pistol for home defense? Pistols are not as in demand as AR-15’s yet. I was just at Gander Mountain last week and they still had full cases of pistols in all calibers and models. The prices still looked consistent with what I would expect at that store and the only shortage I saw was of Glock. They only had one G27 on display.

I personally like purchasing handguns from a gun show but you have to know what you are looking for and the price range you are willing to pay. At a gun show, you have a lot more people competing for your business. I recommend finding the gun you are after at every booth, talking to the seller, and getting a price. I found $200 worth of difference the last time I went for the same make and caliber of handgun so you should shop around.

Ammunition for handguns is ridiculous now and it’s running about 4 times as expensive as what it used to last year this time. My advice is to get two 50 rounds boxes of hollow points at a minimum and put those away. After that, go to places like or my new favorite and order in bulk to build up your supply.

Make sure you have at a minimum 4 magazines for each gun also as well as a reliable holster that’s custom-made for your firearm. I won’t get into the details here, but you can check this survivalmag article about Glock 19 holsters, they have some good options listed there.

Top 5 Firearms – #4 Long-Range Rife

Large Caliber .30-06 will take down any game in North America. No matter how many legs it has on it. Perfect for hunting and long-range marksmanship.
Large Caliber .30-06 will take down any game in North America. No matter how many legs it has on it. Perfect for hunting and long-range marksmanship.

When it comes to a long-range rifle, I am talking about between 300 and 600 yards now and this is primarily for hunting. They can also be used to take over where your AR-15 begins to fall short. If you start going too far past 300 yards, your AR-15 will need a little help.

Can you still hit targets at that range? Sure and further! But I would rather have a caliber that isn’t slowing down already. My personal recommendation for a long-range rifle is a .30-06.

For one reason, the .30-06 is capable of taking down any big game in North America. You won’t run into an animal that can’t be hunted successfully with a .30-06. Are there other calibers that can do the job? Of course, but in addition to being a great all-around hunting weapon, the .30-06 is also a common sniper caliber for police forces.

Where can you purchase a good hunting rifle? They are everywhere from Walmart, Dicks, Cabella’s, Gander Mountain, and the local neighborhood pawn shop. You don’t generally need a license to purchase a long rifle and they have lots of use. The ammunition is going to be more expensive, but if you are hunting with this rifle, you will need less; unless you are a horrible shot.

Top 5 Firearms – #5 .22 (Pistol and Rifle)

The .22 is great for two things in my mind. In a rifle, the .22 is perfect for small game or varmints. A pistol is great for practice or for use by smaller children. A .22 is a great addition because you can use this to practice your accuracy and not spend a fortune on ammunition. While it is still way more expensive than it used to be you can buy hundreds of .22 ammunition for a fraction of the more common calibers. Additionally, if they ever do try to take away guns, they might leave you with a .22 and something is better than nothing.

Honorable Mentions – Also known as if you have money left over… try these on for size.

Mosin Nagant

The Mosin is a Russian rifle used primarily during WWII and routinely runs around $100 each. For the life of me, I could never find too many of them but if you have no other option, a Mosin is a great rifle to have and could pull dual duty as a hunting rifle or a backup battle rifle. Of course, there are many limitations to the latter approach.

Concealed Carry (.380)

Yes, I do believe every legal firearm owner should carry concealed. In my recent post on the subject, I explained all of the reasons I think this is wise and good for society, but it would be one of the last firearms I chose. The reason is that for most people, carrying concealed isn’t a comfortable option unless you have a much smaller weapon. The .380 is perfect and can easily fit in a pocket or purse, but the capacity and stopping power are much lower.

To those of you, who actually finished this post, thank you for reading! I am eager to hear any comments from you on my opinions and what ideas you have for your own personal top 5.

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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Larry Black

Hey, I get to be first! I’ve been waiting for this post since your reply to my comment on the best weapon for home defense (thanks for the mention of the .20 cal for shotguns). Over all, I agree with your top 5. The only one I really don’t have a need for is the “long range rifle”. Here in Vermont, we are densely wooded enough than any shot over 200yds is a rare occasion when hunting–if it is done, it’s usually by a group of guys showing off. What I’m thinking of doing is combining a couple of your… Read more »


Larry, Thanks and welcome back! Yes, the .308 would make a great choice also. The reason I went with a separate rifle is that where I live they frown on hunting with a “black rifle” and I wanted to have a different set up on my .30-06 as opposed to my AR-15. Not to mention options. For starters, I would definitely want a nice scope on my .30-06, but the AR gets a red-dot site. Just a question on your profession. Couldn’t you carry this in a cargo container (locked of course) outside of the cab and be legal? Is… Read more »

Larry Black

I would have to try to get a Concealed Carry permit for each state. And that still doesn’t take care of the Federal issue. You can be a civilian traveler and carry a loaded & accessible handgun in your car for personal protection, but not us truck drivers. DOT regs state that we are not allowed weapons of any kind in the cab or on our persons. This includes (don’t ask me why) bow & arrows & crossbows! The one potential weapon we are allowed is the old fashioned tire thumper. This is not to say that none of us… Read more »



I’ll admit that I am not familiar with the rules for professional drivers. For the rest of us, there are a ton of states with concealed carry reciprocity, but NY and NJ don’t play that’s true. I’d hate for anyone to end up like that poor guy after the Rodney King riots.

Stay safe,


All, in the situations we’re talking about here, law, color of law (what we call “law”) will mean NOTHING. You’re not buying this stuff to use now except maybe for practice and skill building. Larry, don’t get stuck in the now. Normalcy bias will kill you in the future world where we’ll have to use these guns.

Larry Black

Not stuck at all, Ranger. Just reporting the facts on the ground as of right now. It’s a fact that, as a driver, I am vulnerable to search and seizure at any time, for any reason. It’s just part of the job. Next time you drive down the interstate and pass an active weigh station, look to see if any trucks are parked “out back of the coop”. The DOT has the legal right to inspect our rigs, our log books, and the inside of our cabs without a warrant at any time. A couple of times each year, we… Read more »


we need to apparel these laws for truckers. With a hungry mob around any corner, your just asking to get shot.


A few links to consider regarding Truck Drivers & Firearms. &

“A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage, the NRA points out.”

You might also consider an Armatix iP1 Smart Gun –


No, the feds are really strict with this. And actually, it’s the truckers who need a firearm more than anyone. When things go south, do you not think that they a hungry mob won’t go for a truck with over a million dollars worth of food on board? Easy pickings, and the driver will get pulled out and killed for his load. Truckers today are marked for death(at some point). Maybe even by DHS.


The AR15 chambered in .223 is a bad choice, now an AR chambered in 5.56 is a wonderful choice. Military, Local Leo’s use the 5.56 which can also shoot a .223, however a .223 cannot shoot a 5.56. Right idea though

John Hertig

The 5.56 chambers will function fine with .223, but you will lose some accuracy with that round. There is a .223 WYLDE chambering which will fire both 5.56 and .223 with good accuracy.


You need install a secret compartment to hold a gun. I installed two magnets under my dash. They are screwed into a metal brace, and have a couple of rubber gaskets to protect the finish of the gun. I can get to it immediately, but it would be a very determined cop indeed that would find it. A friend had a stereo installer friend put in a compartment that can hold a handgun, that is opened by an electronic keycard. It is in the door, and you can not see the lines in the uhpolstry unless you put your face… Read more »


Ahh……be very careful about hidden compartments! Many states have specific laws dealing with hidden compartments in vehicles. Although meant for drug trafficking bad guys, those laws carry an extra heavy punishment and can put you in a category you don’t want to be in, especially in front of a sentencing judge!


The fact that so many LEO’s are aware of secret compartments negates much of the benefit from having one. If you do everything legal you dont need to worry about it. Now for hiding stuff only while my truck is parked, to reduce theft, I just unzip the back of my seat and stuff things there. You will be surprised how many vehicle seats have hidden zippers.


I agree with most of your choices on guns with the exceptions of pistol. I like both 40 and 45 cal pistols but capicity is usually limited to 8 to 10 rounds. My choice for both regular handgun and concealed carry would be the GLOCK model 17 in 9mm. You can buy both 17 and 33 round magazines and 9 mm ammunition is less for 50 rounds. Two 33 round clips or 17 round clips would be a lot of firepower.Also you can buy some small 9mm pistols for concealed carry if the Glock is too big for you. The… Read more »


I have an AR in .308 and it is a wicked beast! Talk about penetrating armor! Next I’m going for an AR in 30.06.


( AR10 )

Pat Henry

I have been debating between another AR15 or an AR10 for my next rifle purchase.


the 15 is more accurate.

John Hertig

You can’t have an AR-15 chambered in .308 (unless it is as a single shot). But you can get an AR-10 or AR-308 in .308. Or you can get an AR-15 chambered in 7.62×39 (the AK-47 round).


I would change 5 to either a pellet rifle or a compound bow. Preferably bow. Either way one should have a silent ranged weapon.


Jay, Thanks for commenting! I do agree with you that those two are great additions. Actually, they are probably going to be the subject of another post. In this one, I was focusing only on firearms. I think a BB gun definitely has utility. The Crossbow would be ahead of that by a long shot (no pun intended) but I can’t get over the cost/benefit. For the price of one good crossbow I could almost buy two hunting rifles. Regardless, I agree these are two really solid recommendations and I will be discussing those types of weapons in the future.… Read more »


Eh, the cost of a good bow runs ruffly in the $500 range. Another $50 in arrows/bolts and one has a healthy and renewable ammo source. Bullets are expensive these days. Furthermore, i know not of a good hunting rifle sans the 10/22 ruger, that costs under $450. Most are over $600. Tack on a few hundred rounds,scopes, etc. And one has a hefty investment. Downside is of course even at a skilled level one can only get 10-15 shots off per minute. And the distance factor of course. But i see the articles point of focus and look forward… Read more »


Jay, That isn’t so, at least where I am. At Gander Mountain and I would assume most other places you can get a perfectly respectable .30-06 with a scope for less than $400. In fact, you can right now, just check out this link: . Yes, ammo is more and it isn’t renewable, but a scope and hundreds of yards of distance would give a long range rifle (in my opinion) a better advantage. All of that is to say, that I agree with you that a crossbow would be a great and valuable addition. I would only get… Read more »


No argument here. Guns first for sure. However for us unfortunatesouls that live in gun restrictive states like CA, NY, etc one cannottakethe bow option for granted. Its a solid artcle and i think the top weapons to have would be a good subject. But stricklyas a cost benifit pov i would get the “3 gun” weapons first but then consider a bow. Online shopping for guns includes ffl and usualy shipping fees. Add the age restrictionsfor pistols( in CA at least) and all the restrictionsthe government is trying to apply and its becoming a headache for us gun owners.… Read more »


one of each jay…i like it!!

Jeremy Armour

A good pellet rifle, the single-shot variety that operates with either a spring piston or gas piston that is charged when the barrel is broken open (NOT a rifle powered by a CO2 cartridge!), should be in every prepper’s kit. For one it’s cheap practice that can be done inside your home if necessary, but it’s also a nearly silent hunting weapon for small game and an excellent way to deal with the inevitable vermin that will show up after the trash isn’t picked up for a while. The Gamo Whisper models even come with a built-in sound suppressor to… Read more »

Pat Henry

Great suggestion Jeremy! Yes, I have a pump Crossman myself that was purchased in the hopes of scaring dear out of our yard that were eating from the garden. Even pumped up 10 times (max recommended) and using pellets, the deer only flinched. That was the year we put in a fence.

The pellet gun did work great on a raccoon though. One hit at close range and that coon was spinning and cussing me. Also, it sure is fun to shoot cans with the family on a Thanksgiving afternoon. Lots of great uses as you say.


Jeremy Armour

The pumps are a lot of fun and can be great for practicing your rifle marksmanship. I used to have one designed like an AR15 that was pretty awesome for a 12y/o & accounted for a boatload of crows too, but they’re not really what I was talking about. Like you found out with the deer, they’re just not powerful enough to do much. I was talking about the kind that you cock & load by breaking open the barrel, similar to a break action shotgun. Some of those can spit out a pellet at up to 1,500fps and are… Read more »

Keen Edge

Subsonic .22 ammo is really quiet.
I thought I would have problems with feeding but no.


I think hand gun before AR, you cant always be walking around w/ a slung weapon.You might want to be doing some work in the garden or something, its attached to you .Then theres the be armed but not stick out like a sore thumb factor.With firearms theres always a time for discretion.Of course my AR/AK/G3 will be inside the door. thanks for the read.


Thank you for the comment!

I agree a handgun is preferable in situations like you mention above. I rated the AR higher in terms of importance though for several reasons. Probably the most pressing is the scarcity of them now and the threat of confiscation soon. You don’t have that (right now) with handguns so the sense of urgency would be with the weapon that may be harder or impossible to find soon.



I know quite a bit of folks scare buying weapons and asking advice rhe best I can give is just to keep it fairly simple for me and my wife all pistols are chambered in the same caliber. Easier to stock ammunitionAnd also we can shoot each others and the recoil is fairly similar no surprises 2 shotguns same brandand model and 2 others same make and model. Keep it simple.


Thanks for your comments yezzir!


buy and build the AR556/223 or AR10 (beefier therefore more expensive parts) parts kit minus the stripped lower receiver , no ffl required, very easy and few inexpensive armorer tools, get an >80%< lower receiver, machine to finish (machinist friend relative or self), or black market finished lower – no license / registration/ ffl , build bump fire (legal) for less than 10 bucks ( sworn fact) …..

John Hertig

You can (if you can legally buy a gun) make that gun yourself. But you must do it yourself. If somebody else does any manufacturing for you, for fee or for free, then they are guilty of manufacturing without a license. And I doubt you’d get off scott free either.

Plus, you must intend to only use it for personal use, and the BATFE has not yet informed me if there are any conditions under which you can transfer it to anyone else.

George V. Tucker

Wow — I was getting ready to post something snarky in response — and then I found this: “With certain exceptions a firearm may be made by a non-licensee provided it is not for sale and the maker is not prohibited from possessing firearms…” and this: “With certain exceptions, and subject to any state law that might apply, as long as an individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm, he or she can make a firearm for personal use.” I’m not a lawyer or a fed — but I think your reference to a “black market finished… Read more »

Evil von Scarry

Some good points. I would simplify it even further. First of all:Have 2 of whatever you have. Even better narrow it down to a shotgun, any given centre fire rifle and a .22 either pistol or rifle, lots of ammo for everything.


Thanks Evil! -that sounds odd…

Yes, that puts it nicely too, but doesn’t make for a lot of reading. 🙂 Thank you for commenting and stopping by!


George V. Tucker

Totally agree that standardizing your ammo is a good idea. For instance: – 9mm sidearm and carbine (I prefer 9mm cause it’s cheap, readily-available, and a military-issue caliber) – alternatively, .357 Magnum sidearm and lever-action rifle (for cowboys) – .22lr sidearm and rifle If you happen to have a break-open shotgun, you can buy inserts to allow you to fire 9mm/.22lr/etc. out of it. My preferred source: Short Lane, ALSO agree that “have 2 of whatever you have” is super-smart. You can always cannibalize one to keep the other running. (Or lend your spare out.) As Grandma used to… Read more »


I agree, everyone should understand that you need the right tool for the job. Many times this means you will need more than one type of firearm in order to accomplish your goal. For example if you only buy one rifle, and you make it a 30-06, when you go rabbit hunting you will not enjoy the bits of fur and meat that are left after you take your shot. However a 22LR won’t be effective against deer and other large game animals. You need a toolbox that has multiple tools in it. I won’t even get into the whole… Read more »


Thank you very much Shawn!


I do disagree with you on a .22 lr not being able to kill a deer. I won’t cite the specific reasoning due to legality, but I assure you that it can. My advice would be to skip the .22 lr and get a .22 WMR instead. Much more stopping power. I would get a Marlin model 925M as a rifle and a Kel-Tec PMR 30 as a pistol. Both are chambered in .22 WMR and the 30 rounds the pistol holds make it a viable source as a personal defense weapon. Now I know some will not like the… Read more »


P.S. It all really comes down to confidence and competence in YOUR ABILITY with what you’re using. Generally the mechanisms we use (firearms included) have higher capabilities than what human error allows for their performance. Airborne Sappers clear the way!


Thanks for all your comments Kwil1390, you have some great choices in there too!



I believe what you mean to say is that a 22LR won’t be painless to a deer. People have been poaching Deer with 22LR pretty much since the round went on the market. It requires a precise shot, but a 22LR is certainly capable of putting down a deer of any size. (Now an elk on the other hand…)

George V. Tucker

I once saw a well-documented report of feral hogs killed with — wait for it — .22CB rounds!

I’ve been told, but never personally witnessed, .22lr as the caliber of choice for deer poachers. As you say, it requires a precise shot.

James Hart

An AR-15 is way out of my budget and I managed to get lucky with a bonus and have a 30-30 rifle. What’s your opinion about this for my long range?



I guess it depends on what your range is going to be. Hornady has a ballistic trajectory chart on their site at that will give you a good idea of the range of virtually any caliber you can choose. The 30-30 doesn’t even rate past 300 yards. That’s why I personally like the .30-06 better for a long range rifle. You can find these very inexpensively if you buy when they are running sales. The cartridge is very common too so finding ammo isn’t a problem.


David I Nelson

James – I am not sure if reloading is an option for you, but the Hornaday flexitp bullets can extend the effective range of your 30-30. If it is a modern, rifle you can push the loads to the upper end of the reloading manual recommendations. BIG caution – if you see any signs of “HIGH PRESSURE” STOP, pull the bullets and back off the load a bit. – enter level I started reloading in my late teen. My shooting buddy said, “you can buy another gun or reloading equipment. You’ll get more shots for your dollar if you… Read more »

David I Nelson

For a carry gun – Keltec’s PF9 provides 7 +1 of 9mm in a package not much bigger than most .380 and are very reasonably priced – good bang for the buck – pun intended 😀 As for the rest, all are great tools when properly used based on your environment, geographic location and population density. Whatever tool you use, the ammunition is just as important as the firearm. Target and full metal jacket bullets are not what you want when defending yourself. Match the ammo/bullet to the application to deliver the most effective stopping power on target. In this… Read more »


Thanks for the comments David!

I have the P3AT from Keltec and really like it. I’ll have to check out the PF9 the next time I am out.


Nate W.

Love all of the suggestions, and spot on (in my opinion of course) with 30-06 for long range. Only thing I changed personally was for the “assault” rifle. I went a little euro-isk and purchased an AK-47 chambered for the normal 7.62×39. Mainly for its ruggedness, power, and good price. In a SHTF situation, I think it’s likely that an all around use weapon would likely take a licking. One may not have the time or resources for ideal firearm care. AK-47 is a use and abuse weapon. Drawback of course is that you would be more likely to stumble… Read more »


Thanks Nate!

If I had a ton of money I would own a few AK’s myself, but do prefer the AR platform. AK’s are cheaper though. Maybe the prices will continue to fall, but until then I still have a list of other items on my Christmas list that need filling.



I would never use a shotgun. It won’t even go through a car door unless you are shooting slugs. Racking the gun? Why don’t you just tell the bad guy “here I am”? Sit in a corner with a semiautomatic rifle of your choice and wait for the bad guy. Then when you see he isn’t a friend shoot him 7 or 8 times. If he’s in your house shoot him 7 or 8 times through the wall when he walks towards you. Then call 911. 🙂


“It won’t even go through a car door unless you are shooting slugs.” Maybe if you’re shooting bird shot… 00 Buck will easily punch through a car door. Here are three youtube videos that demonstrate how easy it is a 20 yards: “The effective range of a shotgun with 00 buckshot, is about 20 yards.” You know modern shotguns have such a thing as a choke, right? You can set your pellet group to 18 inches at up to 35 yards. I have no problems hitting small targets every time with buckshot (or slugs) at about 40… Read more »


Entirely reasonable recommendations and I agree with all. I’ll echo your comments on the Mosin and add one more…at <$200 each (they seem to be up in price…at the gun show this weekend they were $179 or so) you can gradually buy a few dozen without going bankrupt. Why so many? I've got some neighbors and friends who are like-minded and a good group but basically unarmed. So if you've got to arm your own militia you can do it relatively inexpensively. Yeah…I know…a bunch of Mosin-toting members isn't optimum…but I can't afford a supply of AR's and if we… Read more »


Thanks Dave!

Yes, at the last show I was at, I saw one vendor with boxes of them. The price tag was $168 each and I was tempted to buy a couple. I decided against them though and put my money in ammo. You have a great idea though for relatively cheaply having backups for your neighbors.



Bought my Colt AR15 in 98 for $750 and my buddies made fun of me for “over spending”. Now, not so much 🙂


Yeah, it would be nice to have a couple at that price these days. I can find them around $975 stripped down, but after you add some rails and sites they are way over $1000. Mine was about $900 (before taxes) back in 08.


I agree with all of your picks except for the AR. I’m an old Viet Nam vet infantryman and carried the AR 16. It could sometimes be an unfaithful girlfriend. Field stripping was always a risk due to conditions and with rough or dirty use it was often a jammer. I understand that they have improved a lot since 1967, even so it is not the faithful wife I trust. I have 2 AK 47’s for mid range with open sights. If you dropped it in the mud, it would still fire. I had a lot of 7.62×39 whizzers go… Read more »


Thank you very much for stopping by Clay and for your comments and service. You certainly aren’t alone in your preference for the AK’s. It seems that AR versus AK is the age old debate like Ford vs Chevy or PC vs Mac. Everyone has a favorite and at some point regardless of whose side you are on, you have to agree with some of the other persons points. The AK is a solid choice. I would love to have a few AK’s to add to my collection and someday hopefully I will. Maybe at that point, I will change… Read more »


I have not fired an AR in many years. I’m not opposed to them at all. I just don’t trust them as I do the AK (personal preference and cheaper bulk ammo). I have the Bersa 380 and a C&R Makarov 380. The Makarov out performs the Bersa by 3 fold. The Bersa is fixed sights and it took a number of rounds to figure out where to aim. On the other hand, the Makarov was dead on and is adjustable. Like you, I am not a fan of handguns. I’m close range proficient but marvel at those who speak… Read more »


I hear you on trying to keep the calibers at a minimum. I thought I was set with .9, .40 and .45 for handguns and .22, .223 and .30-06 for rifles. Getting ready to purchase another one for my kid and that will probably be a .270 and then I will call it good. Anything else would have to be a gift…

Urban gun enthusiast

I find it funny when it comes to calibers, some people are different side of the spectrum, I have a 9 mm pistol but have a 7.62 by 39 AK, where I have met quite a few guys that will not shoot a semi rifle under 30 caliber, but picks on guys who do not carry over 40 caliber with pistols. I shot most caliber handguns, I personally chose the 9 with speed and better accurate follow up shots in a in a matter of seconds. What is so funny is AR is the same with speed , lighter recoil… Read more »


That’s so true. Everyone has favorites for different reasons. That is one thing that makes coming up with a definitive list like this sure to cause an argument. In the end, specifics don’t matter as much as the general concepts I think. In the end, I’ll take just about anything over nothing…


If live near the southern border of the U.S. I really reccomend the AK 47. They are very popular south of the border and on the border. Walk into any surplus stores and you will likily see hundreds of AK’s and 1000s upon 1000s of rounds. Good Luck


Agreed with almost everything. Almost. I am a huge .45 fan/ Love them! But lately I have been reading articles about pistol rounds and all have said that the fabled knock down power of the .45 is highly over rated when one is in an adrenaline charged moment. What stops most people is blood loss. And with a 9mm one has the ability to fire 2x’s the amount of rounds into the attacker. And 9mm is much cheaper and mre available. But I will still keep my trusty 1911 close by!


Thanks for stopping by and commenting Bob.

Its perfectly fine with me to disagree with the details. We can always do that as long as you have the basics. I love my 1911 too. That reminds me, I need to go kill some paper. Been too long.



2.Miny gun
4. Ak47
5.p99 pistol.


Ahh, the RPG. Yes, I would like to have a whole case of those and some stinger missiles and a TOW or 40 while were dreaming! Thanks for commenting Cooper!

Scott Clark Sr

The list is great, except I am more of a Mini-14 to an AR kind of Guy……My Mini-14 and M14 serve me well. Thanks for the Post.

Pat Henry

Thank you Scott! Everyone has their favorites and Ruger makes a great rifle.


.9mm isn’t going to do a whole lot of damage 🙂 Personally, I’d also recommend a 7.62×39 rifle: AK or SKS. Both are reliable, shoot fairly common and relatively powerful ammo, don’t cost a whole lot (at least they didn’t), and the SKS comes with a flip-out bayonet. I have an AR and a SKS (among other toys) and would probably sling both in case family or friends needed a rifle. Also, for a shotgun, consider a breeching barrel: it not only performs its intended function, but can also be used a bit like a bayonet to stab an opponent… Read more »


Thank you


I would change the AR-15 to be chambered in 5.56 instead of .223. That way, you could use both 5.56 and .223 ammo safely. A 5.56 rifle can safely shoot all .223 ammo, but the reverse is not true, due to the higher pressures of the 5.56 round.

John Hertig

Yes, you can fire .223 in a 5.56 chamber without ejection problems, but you do lose a bit of accuracy.


Well, yes, but in my experience, the practical difference is negligible at best. I find that the accuracy difference is much more dependent upon the type of ammo used, rather than saying that all .223 ammo is less accurate when shot from a 5.56 rifle. For example, I’ve found that a 5.56 rifle will be far more accurate shooting match grade or varmint .223 ammo than it is when shooting regular military surplus 5.56 ammo. In my opinion, a 5.56 rifle is plenty accurate with .223 ammo, but of course, on average, a .223 rifle will be more accurate shooting… Read more »


That is not recommended. It’s ok to shoot .223 out of a 5.56 chamber but not vice versa. And it has nothing to do with accuracy. The difference between the 5.56 and .223 is that the case wall is thicker in the 5.56. Therefore it’s a higher pressure round. People who don’t know the difference and shoot 5.56 through a .223 chamber risk catastrophic failure. I’ve seen it personally. Another problem that happens somewhat often is that the primer will blow out of the back of the round and fall into the trigger group. You wanna talk about jamming up… Read more »


Oh never mind, I could’ve sworn your post said it was ok to shoot 5.56 out of a .223. It’s late, I should go to sleep!

some guy

Pet peeve, but shotguns are discussed in terms of gauge, not caliber (except for the .410 and ‘shot’ ammo like you can get for .22, 38, 9mm etc). You also shouldn’t put a decimal point in front of the number; it’s 12 and 20 gauge, not .12 and .20. The decimal points are used when discussing calibers under one inch; for example .22 cal bullets are nominally 0.22 inches in diameter. Gauge is a weird measurement that has something to do with the number of spherical balls of lead that of the barrel diameter that you can make out of… Read more »


Pat: Sorry I arrived late to the discussion. I think I read most of the string and everyone is accurate, lucid and very sure of their choices. For me, I don’t consider magazine capacity, rate of fire, stopping power in my prepper paradigm. My end of the world 5 guns would not include an AR or an AK……..I am looking at more of a self defense situation where I may be cut off, isolated or even a rare survivor. I rate my weapons by reliability, low maintenance and available ammunition and or parts. While the AR scores high on many… Read more »

Pat Henry

Better late than never Scott and thank you for adding your comments to the discussion!


If you took a ball of lead with the diameter of a 12 gauge shotgun barrel (inside) – that lead ball would weigh one twelth of a pound.
This system was developed back in the day when cannon were designated based on the weight of the shot that they fired – thus twelve pound, eight pound, three pound etc.
A half pound cannon ball would be a 2-gauge.


good article. just another reminder of how badly i need to save up for that ar-15. Fortunately, i’ve got the other bases covered.

d prepper

i think the ar15 should be switched with the ak47. my reasons are, 1. 7.62×39 is one of if not the most common round in the world. 2. the price of the gun and ammo are way cheaper than the ar. 3. in an emergency situation you might not have gun cleaning supplies or might not be able to obtain them, and in that case the ar will not be as reliable. when its been 4 months and i have not had the time or supplies to clean my gun i would much rather be holding an ak. the only… Read more »

Zach Adkins

I love the AK and feel the article should have been an either or. I totally agree with everything you said to an extent. Even though the AK is the most popular in the world, it isn’t the most popular in the U.S. The way I see it, you could screw yourself with either of them. So my solution is to have both!


Thank you all for the comments. Each post has a very valid point based on shooter ability, region, physical surroundings, bug in, bug out, budgetary restrictions and so forth. I must say, I do personally agree with the originally listed top five (I personally prefer a .45 caliber 1911 for an automatic) and am fortunate enough to have all bases covered and well beyond. The only other consideration I might make in the handgun category would be of a .357 Magnum revolver with 8 round cylinder. With it’s ability to shoot both .38 and .357 ammo, and multiple selections in… Read more »


My system consists of the following:

AK-47 7.62X39
Mosin-Nagant 91/30 7.62X54R
Glock 17 9mm
AK-47 Bayonet
Compound Bow and Arrows

I prefer the AK over the AR due to it’s ruggedness and simplicity.
I’d go with a Glock 17 with some good 124 grain JHP ammo by Speer or Hornady.
The Mosin Nagant… Your $100 30.06 that is TOUGH and (again) simplistic. Surplus ammo runs about $4-$5 for 20 rounds too.
AK-47 Bayonet, well, it goes with your primary weapon and it doubles as a mean fighting knife.
Compound Bow, because sometimes, even a .22lr is too loud.


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.308 shoots flatter than a .30-06 which is why an m14 would be a far better purchase than an ar15

John Hertig

I believe the .308 was designed to “mirror” the ballistics of the .30-06 in a shorter, more auto-friendly case. As such, I don’t see how it could shoot “flatter” than a .30-06 with the same bullet.

That said, yes, a m14 would be more effective than an AR-15 in .223 or even 7.62×39.


um, ok…..I carry a kimber .45 ultra carry 2. I carry on my hip. I also sometimes carry Sig P229 .40 double stack mag. Ankle holser backup with .25 Lorcin which I got 23 years ago and is loaded with hollow points. I also carry a 5.5 inch Kbar which is perfectly legal in Texas. So not sure why the recommendation for .380 which is better than nothing….barely. .380 is an underpowered 9mm basically. Doesn’t have any real knockdown power. Most are not much smaller than my kimber are harder to shoot, less accurate and recoil is just as bad… Read more »


I should also add that the AR-15 is an idiotic idea unless you get the training to use the damned thing. You can’t just pick one up and accurately fire it. Got to learn to correctly zero the weapon, how to maintain it. Also, it is not actually designed to put the enemy down for good. Quite possible to hit a deer and not kill it, or hit an enemy and not kill him. My .270 BAR will put them both down for good on first shot. AR is a good choice if you’re trained on it. Otherwise a more… Read more »

Dan Nabis

A second consideration is that all major handgun calibers are considerably identical in their stopping power (meager in comparison to rifles or shotguns) This is readily verifiable by a simple search. On average all handguns require 2 shots for a stoppage. 9mm in modern time is much more powerful than in the past and is certainly a formidable cartridge, which is why it is a common military and police issue caliber. For a prepper 9mm (9×19, 9 Luger, 9 parabellum are all the same cartridge) has advantages in that it is smaller and lighter and thus most people can carry… Read more »


Like anything firearm related, this list has sparked differing opinions and I think that’s healthy. We do need to think about such things and having a discussion about the advantages of one weapon choice vs. another makes us all better. I do have a couple of points I’d like to make regarding the list: 1. This list seems much more geared toward self-defense vs. survival in my opinion. The lack of a simple .22lr or .177 or larger air rifle would likely be my #2 choice after a shotgun because the .223 is too much for small game and not… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for your comments and thoughts,

I do have the .22 on the list though at number 5 because I think you are right in that this is perfect for small game/varmint and much better for that purpose than a .223.


Jim A

Your five gun types all make complete sense. That being said I would also add from years of experience with firearms that an owner of a few SKS rifles with a nice batch of 7.62 ammo is extremely well prepped. Add a top of the line 9mm with serious 147 grain JHP and your list is perfect.( a 9m or 40 cal in a Beretta PX4 Storm can’t be beat for firepower and ease of maintainability)

Pat Henry

Thanks Jim,

I have some of those on my long-term list also.


Patrick Henry

A good ol fashioned .38 or 357 revolver. Always reliable is in my aresenal.

Pat Henry

You know that is one type of handgun I have yet to purchase? I have some in the family but don’t own any revolvers myself. If I did I agree a .357 would be my choice.

I Beg To Differ

I disagree with the article, in some profound ways. First, let’s just take zombies off the table. In a real SHTF scenario, let’s imagine a global pandemic as the most likely (I think), with some other disintegration of society as we know it No. 2. But, let’s assume that it is going to be from a year to forever before order is restored. Those scenarios are unlikely enough, but adding in zombies, “The Walking Dead” style, is just prepping for something that can’t happen. Let’s try and keep it at least somewhat real. In those situations, firearms would be helpful… Read more »

Pat Henry

Nothing wrong with disagreeing and each person has to do what works best for themselves. Thank you for commenting!


Great post, as I was going down the list I have every single one of those firearms! Great description of uses for each firearm!

Pat Henry

Thank you very much Ryan!

Rick N.

Excellent list of weapons, but for the pistol you shouldve added 9mm as itis probably more abundant ammo wise than any other for the .22 lr…do not under estimate this proven killer…just ask any emergency room across our nation what cal. Kills more people every year. You also forgot to ad magazines for these weapons got have a few????

Dan Nabis

Excuse my corrections but It’s not “.12 gauge” or “.20 gauge”

You are conflating caliber and gauge, I believe.

Gauge is an old concept based on the number of the largest size of lead balls that can fit in a tube that add up to 1lb.

So it is correct to just write 12 ga. or 20ga.

see :


I just began reading this website, this is the first e-mail link I received. While the information is very good rules to follow, I would like to ADD one more option to your Prepper supplies. That is: – “The purpose of the Hammond Game Getter is to convert your big-game rifle into a low-power rifle ideal for targets, birds, and small game at close range with minimum noise” When ammunition runs low (or OUT) , this option could save your life. It consists of : a precision made cartridge adapter with a stainless steel chamber, a bullet forming tool… Read more »

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I definitely like you Shotgun example. The whole gun thing brings me to point. I think that a lot of people that are looking for their first gun don’t do enough research. This is especially true for women who often look what kind of guns men buy without analyzing their own situation first. Their hands are smaller and they have less strength than men. This is why they need to do their research right. We wrote about this recently here for anyone interested in reading it: Who knows, maybe it will help someone.
– Robert M


.357 revolver is the ONLY handgun I would use in self defense and bugout. Why? A revolver almost never jams. With a .357 you can also use a .38 bullet. A revolver is more accurate than an automatic. A revolver is easier to clean A revolver has less parts to wear out, jam, or clean. If you are really concerned about number of shots and speed of reloading, you need a machine gun, not an automatic. Now before we get into all the retributional comments at me, I will let you know that I own and shoot all kinds of… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for the comment SafetyDave! There are a ton of options so you won’t find consensus in all cases. Whatever works for you is the best.



Some of these are great recommendations, I COMMEND you for mentioning the Mosin Nagant, I also scold you for not mentioning some other note worthy weapons though! You have chosen to mention the AR-15 yet as a ten year veteran I discourage those that want this rifle. The AR-15 is a great weapon but is over priced and the .223/5.56 ammo is over priced as well. Seek out an AK-47 or SKS that uses 7.62×39, it’s EXTREMELY cheap! I personally love the SKS and bought a Yugo with grenadier sights. I caution those who buy the archangel stock though, I… Read more »

Nigel Bob

Hi guys I want to know how much will a firearm like a 9 mm pistol cost me and what do I need to buy it.

Pat Henry

There are a lot of factors that go into that cost Nigel. What state/region are you in? What brand are you buying? What is the condition of the firearm (new/used)? Are you buying from a dealer at a show, a personal owner or a chain store? Very roughly speaking I would say you could pay anywhere from $300 to $600. A new Glock 17 will run you close to $500 but you can get them cheaper.


Good evening my friends. For some reason, today turned out to be very busy for an old retired guy, so it took me literally all day to read the article listing your choice for the top 5 firearms for you defense when SHTF. I agree with almost all of your choices and your reasoning. You asked for comments, so here goes. I’ve been shooting handgun, shotgun and rifle for nearly 40 years now for sport, hunting, competitive and just plain fun and am probably a little set in my ways at this point, but perhaps I can add to what… Read more »

Pat Henry

Great suggestions and thank you very much for the comments Michael! God bless you too.

Pat Henry

Thank you for sharing your list as well William!

Gordon Waite

I would also add a pump, air pellet rifle for rats, squirrel, rabbits and other small varmints. Cheap, quieter and there is no cheaper ammo other than BB’s or rocks for your sling shot. Oh! Add a sling shot! Cheap, lightweight, easy to carry and ammo is free.

Jim B

How many self-defense situations has the author been in? Yeah, I thought so. None. He is not an expert. There are no experts on this topic in the US just a bunch of make believe idiots like this guy that fantasize about gun fights. Morons.


I have owned & operated a variety of firearms for over 45 years. Regarding a total, full scale, SHTF scenario, here is my 2 cents: I would guess that most people posting on this topic have never faced bullets flying in their direction, during a real life fire-fight. I have, and trust me, it is no picnic. First, there are several variables to consider: Urban vs. Rural situation. Wherever you live RIGHT NOW, be prepared to defend that residence. The common fantasy among so-called preppers, is to have that safe cabin in the woods, with a lake nearby for fishing,… Read more »

Pat Henry