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

RIFLES

“Big Brother” AR-L Cartridges

The AR-15’s big brother handles some very powerful cartridges.

As with the .223 in the smaller AR-15 (AR-S?) platform, it makes sense to have one or more guns chambered for the most common cartridges in the AR-L platform. With all the options, it might be in a smart prepper’s interest to have a few alternatives available too.

Most of these cartridges were designed for hunting, but they have crossover applications as well.

.243 Winchester

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The .243 Winchester is simply the .308 Winchester necked down to take a .243-inch diameter bullet. The 20-degree shoulder is maintained and the case length is slightly longer at 2.045 inches, versus the .308 at 2.015 inches.

The strength of the .243 Winchester is in its versatility. It is a true “dual-use” cartridge that will perform equally well on deer-size game and on varmints.

Bullet weights run from 55-grains at 4,000 ft/s to 100-grains at 2,950 ft/s.

As with any of these cartridges, I would not hesitate to use this rifle in a fight. Any cartridge designed on the .308 case is powerful enough for self-defense.

The .243 Winchester is a hugely popular cartridge and any sporting goods store that sells ammo will have some on the shelves. That makes it a good candidate as a secondary choice for your AR-L rifle.

.260 Remington

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The .260 Remington bridges the gap between the .243 Winchester and the 7mm-08 Remington, while retaining much of what is good about both. Recoil is manageable, making it a good choice for young or small stature shooters, but it has more bullet weight and a larger frontal area than the .243 Winchester for improved terminal performance.

Popular bullet weights are 120-grain at 2,950 ft/s and 140-grain at 2,750 ft/s.

This cartridge is not as popular as some others, so ammo might be a bit more difficult to find. It is starting to see some use for long-range shooting. Right now that’s mostly a handloading proposition, but it’s expected that some of the big-name ammo makers will start producing target ammo in this cartridge.

6.5 Creedmoor

Think .260 Remington, but with better marketing. The two are very close ballistically, and the major difference is that ammo makers for the .260 Remington have focused mostly on hunting, while the 6.5 Creedmoor is targeted (pun intended) more at the long-range target crowd.

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Right now Hornady and Nosler load ammo in both hunting and target bullets. Hornady’s 120-grain Superformance load has a MV of 3,010 ft/s. The 129-grain Superformance loads hit 2,910, and the 140-grain A-Max has a MV of 2,710 ft/s. Nosler also makes a few loads in 140-grain: Ballistic Tip or HPBT Match.

This is a very accurate cartridge. My custom precision rifle is capable of 0.3-inch, five-shot, 100-yard groups with factory ammo. I also have a Ruger Predator rifle that’s nipping at its heels in terms of accuracy with ½ MOA groups. I have used the cartridge in bolt-action rifles to make one-shot hits on 1 MOA targets from 200 to 1,200 yards. In an accurate AR-L, it can easily do the same.

Ammo is a bit limited now, but this cartridge is growing in popularity at a very rapid rate. I would expect it will be easier to find in the next few years. If you stockpile ammo and/or handload, this is a very good choice if you are looking for a long-range AR-L rifle to protect your home.

7mm-08 Remington

Every family of cartridges must have a 7mm—this is the law of Remington. In general, the American public does not give great acceptance to metric cartridges, except if they are promoted by Remington. The 7mm Remington Magnum is popular, as is the 7mm RUM and the .280 Remington. Pretty much no one else has been successful with the .284 bullet diameter. The 7mm-08 is Remington’s contribution to this class of cartridges.

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Popular bullet weights run from a 120-grain at 3,000 ft/s through the 150-grain at 2,650 ft/s. The most popular is a 140-grain with a MV of 2,850 ft/s.

Like the .260, it’s a fine cartridge, but ammo may be a bit tougher to find than some of the other cartridges.

.308 Winchester / 7.62x51 NATO

What can I say here that hasn’t been said already? This is the cartridge the gun was designed around.

It is the preferred cartridge for fighting with AR-L guns and it’s also one of the best for long-range shooting, even out to 1,000 yards. As with all 30-caliber cartridges, the bullet options are too huge to list here. My choice for long-range work is the Federal Premium load with a Sierra 168-grain MatchKing. For hunting and foraging, I really like the Barnes VOR-TX ammo with a 150-grain TTSX bullet.

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For a fighting gun, any expanding bullet ammo will be a much better one-shot stopper than anything you can put in a .223.

The guns and ammo are heavier, there is a bit more recoil, and the magazine capacity is lower when compared to a .223 Remington, but when it comes time for a serious, save-your-life fight, you can never go wrong with a .308 in an AR-L rifle. Nobody who survived a gunfight ever said, “Gee, I wish I had brought a smaller cartridge.” There is a reason for that. We explore some of that in other chapters, but in the end this cartridge and an AR-L rifle make a great fighting package.

.338 Federal

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This is one of the best short-action hunting cartridges offered in any gun and particularly in an AR-L rifle. It also brings a new level of power to the AR-L platform.

While ammo is hard to find, this cartridge is worth a look for a prepper. It is the best option for hunting and foraging. It also has some tactical advantages. It’s a good fight-stopper of course, but it also has the capability to penetrate barriers and to break stuff like car engines. I am a huge fan of this cartridge in any platform, but it stands alone in an AR-L. Of course, you will need to stockpile ammo and/or handload, but it’s worth it for the performance you can get.

As we discussed in the big-bore AR section, if you are going to hunt or forage for feral livestock you need a powerful cartridge. But you also need a platform and a cartridge capable of saving your life if you run into trouble while hunting. While magazine capacity is an issue with the big thumper cartridges in the AR-15, the magazines for AR-L hold the same number of cartridges for a .338 Federal as they do a .308, so there is no compromise for the more powerful cartridge.

Federal and Fusion offer a wide range of ammo options, but I am partial to the 200-grain Fusion load with a muzzle velocity of 2,700 ft/s for hunting most game or for defense. Some years back I used an early engineering sample of this ammo to shoot my best ever black bear, and I have nothing but confidence for its use hunting hogs or deer. I have seen this cartridge perform on elk, moose, mountain goats, and a bunch of other game. It’s very impressive. With the new Federal 200-grain Trophy Copper bullet, it can handle any ungulate in North America.

My choice of rifle is the incredibly accurate JP Enterprises LRP-07H Long Range Precision Hunting Rifle. With the Fusion load, three-shot, 100-yard groups average 0.71-inch. The best group was a ragged hole that measured 0.3 inches. That’s about as good as it gets.

This cartridge is surprisingly good at long range and you can use it to reach out to 400 yards or more with confidence.