SHTF Weapons Checklist

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Last Updated on January 9, 2021

For many preppers, a firearm is a must-have item for everyday life not to mention dealing with the aftermath of a potential SHTF or grid-down event. Firearms in the hands of properly trained individuals can prevent as well as cause death, so their use and acquisition isn’t something to be taken lightly.

We routinely talk about firearms under the security category when I am mentioning the 4 things you should focus on when you are prepping, but simply having a weapon isn’t the end. You can check the box on having a firearm in your SHTF arsenal, but to be better prepared, you should look at what else needs to be planned for with that firearm to ensure that tool doesn’t become an expensive paperweight shortly after you need it. You need a weapons checklist.

Don’t get me wrong; just the fact that you have a firearm and a box of ammo is an advantage should you be called on to protect or defend your life, but history has shown us in order to be more fully prepared, there are other considerations that you need to account for and these topics are what I wanted to bring up today on the Prepper Journal. What are all of the other things you need to consider for your safety and protection that you may need to maintain that firearm and conversely your ability to protect yourself if the grid goes down?

Why do you need weapons if the grid goes down?

How many weapons do you have on the SHTF weapons checklist?

Before we get into the SHTF weapons checklist, I wanted to briefly paint a picture for you. Some disaster has happened and society is in chaos. Let’s take the example of an economic collapse which as I discussed the other day is a real and tangible threat our country faces. When millions (more) are out of work, services are cut and there are shortages of food, gasoline, power, and protective services of police, people will get angry. Once they are angry, people will get desperate and once people get desperate, you better watch out.

A firearm is only a tool, but it is a tool designed to inflict mortal damage on your opponent. In the case of a desperate individual breaking into your home, would you rather have a firearm or harsh language? For me personally, I want firearms to be a tool my family has at our disposal in a case just like this.

Above all things, I hope I never am forced to use a firearm in defense of my life or the lives of anyone in my care, but the pragmatist in me doesn’t believe for a second that people are always good deep down. I know people can be evil and act in ways that are dangerous. To believe anything else is foolish I believe so I prepare for evil and dangerous people while hoping I will never see that.

What are the best weapons for SHTF?

So if you are still hanging with me by now and don’t already have a firearm, you might be asking what are the best weapons to have on you in a SHFT scenario. This question can be answered in many different ways and I have actually written on this subject before. If I am looking holistically at an array of weapons you need for many different STHF scenarios, I would make similar recommendations as in our Top 5 Firearms You Need To Get Your Hands On Now, but this is an ideal scenario, not just what is necessary.

I have also recommended a shotgun as the best weapon for home defense under the assumption that if you only had time/money to purchase one weapon, what would that be. For a SHTF scenario, I think I have changed my mind somewhat on the best single weapon to a pistol.

I read a post from FerFal who has his own blog. Ferfal lived through the Argentinian economic crisis and he makes a compelling case for the pistol as the best weapon for SHTF and I tend to agree with him. The main reason is that a pistol over any rifle or shotgun is highly concealable. Even if there is an economic collapse, life won’t immediately turn into Mad Max so as FerFal rightly proposes, you will still have to function in society for some time before you can whip out your camo outfit and go running down the streets geared up for battle.

The right pistol can be used for home defense easily and as I mentioned above, you can take it outside with you concealed so you can also have protection away from your home. I do still think that ideally, you would have more weapon options, but a pistol would seem to be a priority for living in the immediate aftermath of any SHTF fallout.

What else do you need for SHTF?

OK, so for the rest of this article we are going to assume you have procured a SHTF weapon of some form, likely a pistol but what else would you need? A firearm is just a tool like I said and that tool needs several things to function ideally in bad situations for a long time. When we are talking about SHTF, you aren’t getting much worse than that and we will also assume a trip to Walmart or your local Sporting Goods store is out of the question.

SHTF Weapons Checklist - The Prepper Journal

Do you have supplies to keep your firearms clean after SHTF?

Ammo – Any weapon you have is going to need ammo and many people have asked me how much ammo do you need. Each person has to answer this question for themselves. I know some preppers who will say you can never have too much ammo. These people plan to not only never worry about running out, but logically state that ammo will be more valuable than precious metals after a collapse. Selco, who runs and who lived through the Bosnian War where his city was under siege for years wrote that he personally gave all his gold for ammunition. Now, he says he keeps 2000 rounds per weapon. Your mileage may vary but consider how much ammo you need if you can never go to the store again. How much do you think you would need for one week? For one month? For one year? Purchase Hollow-points for damage and ball for practice.
SHTF Weapons Checklist - The Prepper Journal

Cleaning supplies – Sometimes we overlook how many weapon cleaning supplies you might need. Imagine the worst scenario. Do you have enough cleaning supplies for your weapons to last? Do you have a portable weapon cleaning kit? Do you have all of the right brushes for your various bore sizes? Do you have spare oil and cleaning solvent?

Magazines – Most new pistols will come with one or two magazines, but what if you lose one? What if during the chaos of a firefight, home invasion, or attempted car-jacking you have to change magazines and in the panic, leave one on the ground that you aren’t able to find? Do you have spares to replace what could be lost? What about your AR-15? Do you have enough magazines for a load out and spares to replace those if you have to ditch your gear for some reason?

Holsters – This is one thing I think most people overlook and that is a good holster for your pistol. Sticking this down your pants isn’t the ideal way to carry concealed so a good holster is really important to have if you plan on carrying that firearm around with you. I would opt for a good concealed holster first and then get your go-to war holster if you need one after that. Most people will only ever need a good concealable holster.

Spare parts – Things break all the time and you won’t be able to log on to to get 2-day free shipping in order to be resupplied after SHTF. You can now purchase spare parts for your weapons online easily so it may make sense to have spare parts on common items that may need replacing(if any) on your model of firearm. One of the reasons I like sticking to one weapons platform is that parts are interchangeable in many cases. I am partial to Glock so some of my magazines, all component parts and some barrels are interchangeable with different Glock weapons I own.

Training – Training is crucial because even if you have the best firearm in the world, pallets of ammunition, and enough spare parts to last a lifetime, you still need to know how to use that weapon. Training at a minimum should enable you to safely use the weapon to hit what you are aiming at. You should be comfortable reloading ammunition, changing magazines, clearing jams or malfunctions and taking the weapon apart, and putting it back together for cleanings. There are all forms of advanced tactical training courses out there too but know the basics first.

I think that if you have a plan to keep a firearm for self-defense and you foresee a situation where you could be putting this weapon to use in a bad scenario, you should consider the checklist above. Do you have these bases covered? Did I miss anything?

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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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A Glock, why is it always a Glock HAHAHAHA
I agree with 99% of your article, except one thing of course, Training should be right after acquiring a firearm, period.

Thomas Paine in the butt

I carry Glocks for one simple reason, with my eyes closed I can draw the weapon from my holster, snap it up into firing position, open my eyes and the sights are in line. It fits my paw.


I agree 10000% Mr. Butt hehehe (sorry had to do that) 🙂
The firearm has GOT to fit, if it does not than get something else, period.
I have owned and fired the XD’s for better a longgggg time, they “fit”.

Thomas Paine in the butt

ROFL…yeah I was waiting for that. It seems that very few people are neutral on Glocks. Most seems to be love them or hate “that plastic gun.”

I’ve never tried the XDs, but I have 1911 variants. Fun to shoot but for me not pointable.


Aren’t they all made of plastic now?

Pat Henry

Ha Ha! I love Glocks NRP, but everyone has their favorite.

You are right that training is the most important thing and I wasn’t thinking about the order of the list when I wrote it, but maybe I should go back and change that around. Training and being proficient with any firearm is more important than anything else.


Start them young, Mr. Henry. All mine are basically proficient with the Glock platform, even if the 13 yo is in love with the Sig. Too big for her hands, but she loves it anyway.


The Glock is the standard against which all else are evaluated. The cant of the handle makes it easy for beginners. That’s important for someone like me with a younger clan around the castle. Commonality of parts across the lineup is important as the prepper equips each of his/her responsible clan members. With so few moving parts, and most of the replaceables available from joints like MidwayUSA very cheap, there is no reason to not have at least one rebuild kit on a shelf or in a well labeled parts bin. I’d further the discussion on a pistole as the… Read more »


Good article. As a frame of reference, I always maintain a quantify of ammo ranging between a LOW order point of 7,000 rounds and an upper limit of 10,000 rounds for my primary firearms. If I found myself on foot in a bug out situation I wouldn’t be able to carry that much bulk along with necessary survival gear and food. However, I keep a grab and go bug out ammo bag packed with 250 rounds of 5.56X45 plus another 200 for my sidearm. This supplements the mags that I keep in a tactical vest. If i can distribute additional… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks Bolo,

Wow! I thought I had a good supply, but now I see I need to step it up. Actually, your max is my ideal, but I am a good bit away from that yet. Just ordered some more JHP for the 9 last night. Slow and steady.


NRP, “…A glock, WHY(emphasis added) always a Glock?” Very fair question to ask. For my choice, yeah, it’s a Glock 9mm. Why? Simply because so many public agencies and a few military ones now issue the Glock, that their parts are much more available than most other pistols. Do I “like” the astethics of the Glock pistols? Nope, they are YOU-gly, they are beyond ugly. Do they feel “good” or fit my hands? Not as well as many other choices. I’ve had to “mod” each Glock pistol in my possession to make it “work” for my hands. However, because our… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for the great comments Egbert and you echo my thoughts on Glocks almost to a T. I had a Beretta that I absolutely loved to shoot because if felt like it was made for my hands, but I traded it in on the same caliber Glock. Why? Because of many of the reasons you mention.


Great reply Egbert, I do appreciate when someone is fair and gives an honest reply to a comment. Personally I’m not so much worried about “repair or replacement” parts for my primary firearm, simply because I do have multi backups of the identical firearm and I probably wont be needing to scrounge ammo and parts form anyone, with that said I’ll probably be looking someday for exactly that :-/ Additionally if I do find myself in need the poor fellow I scrounge from will most likely have both the firearm and the ammo??? But again that is rather low on… Read more »


Don’t you have a three gun bag that is loaded up with a pistol, rifle, and a shotgun and the ammo, mags, and cleaning supplies needed for them? I have one packed up and ready to go just in case.


I don’t have a three gun bag kitted up and ready-to-go, although I do have one for each of the BOB firearms. Either going to have to wait until the grandkids get BIGGER, and make them carry the three gun bags, or, get a mule, horse, AmmoLlama, or a three wheeled running stroller to tote the ammo. We’ve been looking at some of those, as well as similar things for “range carts” specifically to carry heavier items like ammo, other gear in the three wheel go-anywhere “strollers”. Slap on a Tacti-Cool-Barney and we are ready.


NRP – The maintenance gear (Bore Snakes, cleaning cloths, Hoppes, etc) are in the same grab and go bag. I also carry a 30 piece set of Pachmayr gunsmith blades and drivers in my truck.


One of the cheap milspec cleaning kits is a solid starter. I have two, and each kit has the tools to clean the assigned handguns and rifles. All I had to add was 9mm and .45 bore brushes. One of the little bottles of CLP fits right in the kit. Its not Hoppes No.9, but but it works fine for keeping things running properly. Each of the cleaning kits rests in bug out bags. I have other cleaning supplies for cleaning at home.


I’m on board with Bolo’s-Bag-O-Ammo myself! Although, I fear another rupture trying to carry the thing. Might have to get the family an AmmoLlama….


I would invest in some decent weapon mounted lights, they are very handy and I feel more comfortable not having to mess around with a flashlight. I would also buy a lanyard for your main battle pistol, and a decent 3 point sling for your rifle.

Mike Lashewitz

I am loving the discussion! I had a Glock when they first came out and at the time I loved the whole ceramic un-detectible fantasy about it, but that wore off and it just became another gun. Today I prefer M&Ps and have some but I also have Ruger LCP9s for concealed carry. Simply because they conceal nicely and are the size of the Bersa Thunder 380s. Also they do not stove pipe like the 380. Of course the quality of the ammo is important as well as the shape of the round for easier chambering. More importantly, you get… Read more »


Mike, slightly off-topic, have you any personal experience with the M&P .45 ACP Compact? While I love my 1911 commander size pistol, I’m thinking that I just can’t go wrong with the Compact. Please advise any of your unvarnished opinions. Thanks!! I had a weapon-mounted light ONCE, and only once during a building search many eons ago. Thing was a bullet magnet back then, and that has infected/influenced my opinion on them. Yes, they have a place, just not sure I’m ready to use my hand-held weapon with a flash on it, to “search” an area again. Rather use a… Read more »

Mike Lashewitz

Not the ACP compact. But I do have the 40 Compact and while it is a bitch to load it works flawlessly though it is too small for my hands. Which is why I have the larger 45 and the 9. I love the 45 as I am a large man with very large hands. My wife loves her M&P 9 full size as well. We go to the outdoor range as often as possible to drill holes in targets. My really fun weapon is an AK and my competition is of course the AR10 and a Remington 7MM Magnum.… Read more »




I’ll add one more thing that honestly, never crossed my mind until the other day. Once you have a weapon or weapons you like, make sure they are as functional in hand as possible. This sounds funny, but bear with me. On my latest slum through the clearance section of MidwestUSA, I stumbled upon three modifications for the Glock. All items were under $3. On an impulse, I purchased an extended slide release, extended magazine release, and modified trigger lever. Mind you, I’ve never done anything to my Glock besides basic field cleaning. I used Duckduckgo to search for a… Read more »

gibson player

I would love to go up against a glock with my tactical pump shotgun.

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