The latest question in our list of basic survival questions is a fun one:
5. Do I have a firearm for each adult family member? Do I have enough ammunition for each firearm (the minimum should be at least 1000 rounds of ammunition per firearm)?
Two linguistic quirks, to begin with. If it’s a minimum number, “at least” is already implied; also, the terms “rounds” and “ammunition,” in this context, are synonymous. Nitpicking, I admit, but imprecise language is a sign of imprecise thinking.
To the meat of the subject, then: a firearm for each adult family member. The obvious question is, “what kind of firearm?” There are answers and answers and answers and answers to this question in the survivalist blogosphere. The original poster of the Questions actually goes into his thinking on this matter under Question #6 (wherein we discuss the functionality of the firearms). His take on the matter: “…the caliber of all handguns you have should begin with the number 4.” He means, of course, the .45ACP, .44 Magnum, and .40 S&W, although there are others (and variations of these). What strikes me as humorous is that he then lists the “notable exceptions” to the rule: the 9mm, 10mm, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, and .22 Magnum. Yes, there are more “exceptions” than there are “base models,” so to speak. He also posits that something like a .22 (rimfire) pistol “…probably wont help much in defending your home” from marauders.
He continues: shotguns should all be either 10, 12, or 20 gauge. The #1 consideration for rifles is reliability, with the AK-47 listed as “best,” followed by the AR-15, FN-FAL, and SKS carbine, with “most deer rifles” also accepted as “excellent.” For the shotguns, I believe that 12 and 20 gauge are far and away the most commonly available in the U.S. I’ve never fired a 10-gauge; I wouldn’t want to have to rely on a 12-gauge for extended home defense (it tends to have quite a recoil). And it’s fortunate that “most deer rifles” are excellent: there are significantly more of them to be had, and from an opsec perspective, I’d think that you draw less attention being seen buying a hunting rifle than an AK-47.
Ammunition is the next point. 1000 rounds per weapon is recommended as a minimum. Personally, if you’re not the type to eschew firearms completely (there are a few out there, admit it), I’d rate 1000 as an absolute minimum 3-month limit. There’s no good way to build proficiency with the firearm without practicing, and that takes ammunition. Back in my younger days, I went through a 100-round box of ammunition in about an hour of target shooting. Do that a few times a month, and you’ll run close to that 1000 rounds pretty quickly. Actually having to use the weapon in a SHTF scenario might eat through the stockpile in a surprisingly short period. There’s also the consideration: if the world ends in a zombie apocalypse or Mad-Max scenario, you’re not exactly going to be able to pop down to the corner sporting goods store to buy more ammo…
As with so much of this, the majority of my advice to you is this: do what makes sense in your situation. If possible, try to get out there & “experiment” with a variety of firearms. (The local NRA often has classes that do this very thing.) Find out what works best for you. Look at your personal situation, and decide what you’ll need. Pay attention to the “experts,” but don’t be afraid to do your own thing. (That .22 caliber pistol mentioned above? Think accuracy, ease of use, and being able to carry lots of light-weight ammunition. Still sound wimpy?) Having a huge arsenal might put you on the “radar screen” of some oversight agencies; how much of a concern would this be to you? I absolutely do not recommend acquiring firearms illegally, or illegally modifying them in any way, as this can lead to all sorts of problems down the line.
One thing to keep in mind when making your choices is the ease in acquiring ammunition. Find out what guns are common in your area, and get those types of ammo. This will make stocking up (and re-stocking) easier, less conspicuous, and more beneficial in the long term (think trade goods, if things go down that path). I’ve always been fond of the .308 Winchester, in terms of hunting rifles; it’s the same round as the nearly ubiquitous 7.62mm “NATO” round, and can fairly easily be found in bulk. It’s a great hunting round, too…
Another thing to keep in mind: we’re (so far) arming the adults. What about the children? Not just arming them presently, but what are we to do when they come of age? An obvious choice, to my mind, is to go low-tech. People ’round the world have been arming their children with slings (and slingshots) since time immemorial. A good foundation in archery is probably not a bad idea, either–with a bit of work, both the weapon and the ammunition can be manufactured as needed. Some time on the range will even help with “gunpowder firearm” skills–a lot of the basics are the same, and much easier/safer to learn with a bow. If you’re able, I’d suggest having additional firearms for the kids as they grow older, from a .410 shotgun and .22LR rifle, on up to the full-scale “adult” firearms. (Don’t forget the ammunition, again!)
Any other suggestions from my readers?