Prepper Guns: Firearms, Ammo, Tools, and Techniques You Will Need to Survive the Coming Collapse (2016)

RIFLES

AR-L Introduction

Why mess with little guns? If you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly.

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This is another of many contradictory chapters. The concept that there is a single best option in any firearm category for preppers is condescending, because it assumes that only one opinion matters and that all preppers have exactly the same needs and issues. Guns are not “one size fits all,” and preppers must make their own informed choices. There is no single “best” in any category. If there were, there would be no need for this book. I could write up a short list and be done.

The nature of firearms today is that we have a lot of options. The function of this book is to explore those options, and often they will contradict each other. For example, some say the best pistol for a prepper is a Glock. But, is it? Many others believe it’s the 1911, which, after all, is the best-selling pistol in history. Some progressive thinkers believe the best pistol for preppers is the 2011-style handgun, which combines the best of both; except that the 2011 is expensive and you can buy multiple Glocks for the price of the 2011, so now the frugal prepper is in a quandary.

So which is the best choice of pistols for every prepper?

Hell, I don’t know. All of them? None of them? It all depends on your personal guidelines. What’s the best for me is not necessarily the best for you.

It’s the same with rifles.

I still believe that the best personal long gun, battle rifle for preppers is the AR-15 and its variants. That said, nothing is perfect, and I have a concern with the rather small cartridge. The 5.56/.223 is a bit on the small side when compared to historically successful battle rifle cartridges.

That is mitigated somewhat because as civilians we can use advanced-design expanding bullets, so many will argue that some of those concerns have been addressed. That may be true, as long as we have the ammo we want to use, not the ammo we are forced to use. Still, when you weigh all of the variables, in spite of its flaws, the AR-15 remains the best choice for preppers. At least in my never-humble opinion.

Except I am of the opinion that there is another best choice: the AR-15’s older, bigger brother. Eugene Stoner came up with the .308-chambered AR-10 first, so it has been around longer. In our current civilian rifles, this larger .308/7.62x51-chambered rifle is very similar in design to the AR-15 except it’s scaled larger.

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Some of the most common cartridges for the AR-10 type rifle, L to R: .234 Winchester, .260 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington, .308 Winchester, and .338 Federal.

When it comes to trying to kill things that are trying to kill me, I always follow the guideline that bigger bullets are better bullets. The .308 Winchester is much more powerful than the .223 Remington and uses a much bigger bullet. That’s a fact and nobody can dispute it without ignoring math, physics, and logic.

While I still truly believe that the AR-15 in .223 is the best choice for a prepper’s primary long gun, in a lot of ways the .308 is just as good, maybe better.

Am I not being clear? I suppose not, because there is no wrong answer here. I can make just as strong an argument that the larger .308 rifle is just as good of a choice for preppers as the AR-15. The larger gun has its flaws too, but the cartridge and its ability to stop a bad guy from continuing to be a bad guy is not one of them. When you may be defending your life it is never a mistake to pick a larger cartridge.

I also believe that even if you decide to go with the AR-15 as your primary long gun, a smart prepper should always have one or more of the larger .308-chambered rifles as well.

The trouble is, I am not sure what to call them. While Colt technically owns the rights to AR-15, the term has become generic to describe a rifle style. While rifle makers have to use a different name on their guns, the term AR-15 has become accepted as descriptive of a class of rifles. When you say “AR-15,” everybody knows what you mean. The same goes for the AR-10, except Armalite owns the trademark to the AR-10 and apparently they are strident in protecting that name. So, the rest of the makers have to get creative if they want to avoid problems.

DPMS calls their rifles LR, as in LR-308, LR-338, etc. Even the new Gen II DPMS guns are called LR. Rock River Arms calls theirs the LAR-8, with JP Enterprises it’s the LRP07, and Ruger calls theirs SR-762. The list goes on, and to avoid confusion a lot of shooters just call them an AR-308. But that’s not correct either, as there are other cartridge options beyond the .308 Winchester/7.62x51 NATO.

The apologists in the gun industry came up with “modern sporting rifle” as a name for all AR-style rifles so we would not “offend” our anti-gun enemies and to try and hide that we are talking about black rifles. Sorry, but I am not getting on that bandwagon; and if you ever see “Modern Sporting Rifle” or “MSR” under my byline, rest assured it was put there by an editor. I am not of a mind to apologize or try to hide the truth about the guns I am using or writing about. Besides, it does nothing to address the issue of how to differentiate the AR-15 from the AR-10 size rifles.

So, I think I’ll just invent my own term: AR-Large, or AR-L for short. It should keep me, and this book, out of trouble and you will all know what I am referring to as a rifle platform.

But it still doesn’t settle the matter completely. That’s because there are some other differences between the AR-10 and many of the other .308 rifles based on Stoner’s design. Most of the new firearms makers entering the field are following the DPMS concept, and that has become the standard, more or less. Magazines and some other parts are interchangeable among this group, whereas the AR-10 and some others use a different magazine and some parts are not interchangeable with the DPMS-style guns.

Confused?

Me too.

To simplify for now, the primary difference between the ArmaLite AR-10 and other AR-L rifles is the magazine. There are two magazine types: the DPMS pattern and the AR-10. Both rifles are designed around the .308 Winchester cartridge and are chambered primarily for that cartridge or one of its offspring.

When you move up to the larger AR-L style of rifle, the cartridge options open way up in terms of horsepower. This rifle is designed for the .308 Winchester, so any variant of that cartridge will run well in the gun. The cartridges are covered in depth in another section.

Preppers, of course, should consider having their first AR-L only be chambered in .308 Winchester (7.62x51 NATO). This is an extremely popular rifle cartridge with civilians of all kinds, from hunters to long-range shooters, so ammo is easy to find. It’s also a NATO round and is used extensively by law enforcement. That means that in a crisis there will always be ammo, either from people who no longer need it or on the black market. If you already have a few .308s, it’s a good idea to look at the other options outlined in the section about cartridges for this platform.

The downside of these rifles is that they tend to be heavier than the smaller AR-15. Plus they are bigger and everything, including the springs, is beefed up so they may be more difficult for a smaller person to operate. Another issue is that the magazines generally hold nineteen or twenty rounds. Larger magazines are available, but they are not as common as large-capacity .223 magazines. The AR-L magazines are larger in dimension than the AR-15, so a lot of load-bearing vests or other gear designed to carry spare magazines for the AR-15 will not accept the AR-L magazines.

On the other hand, the .308 is a far better fight-stopper than the .223 and is an infinitely better choice for foraging big game or feral livestock.

Every serious prepper should have one or more of these guns. If you need to find ammo, the odds of .308 being in the pipeline, including the black market, is very high. If the only ammo you can find is in .308, it does you no good without a rifle to shoot it through. Even if you don’t select the AR-L as a primary, personal long gun, you should probably have one or more waiting in reserve along with a bunch of magazines. I would rank it very high on the list as you are prioritizing the guns you will purchase.

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If you are hunting for survival and there is a chance of trouble, an AR-L is the best choice in rifles.