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


Pistol-Caliber Carbines

With roots in the Old West, this concept makes sense for preppers.


The author with the TRESNA JAG9G BU Tactical Rifle. This is a 9mm-chambered AR-15 type rifle.

Alot of the cowboys in the Old West embraced the concept of having their handguns and their rifles chambered for the same cartridge. That way they only had to carry one kind of ammunition. Many of them reloaded and they only needed one set of tools in their saddlebags. In a fight, they didn’t have to worry about segregating ammunition; they could feed both guns from the same source.

Granted, some of that was because the repeating rifles of the time were not all that powerful and most were chambered for pistol-caliber-type cartridges, so why not match the rifle and pistol? If you had a Winchester Model 1873 rifle in .44–40 and were looking for a Colt pistol, a .44–40 made more sense than a .45 Colt. But in the end, it worked out for convenience and cost savings as well.

I am not suggesting that you get a pistol caliber carbine as your primary long gun. As a prepper, you really should have some serious battle rifles. That’s not a pistol-caliber carbine forte. They are personal defense guns and do not have the power or the long distance capability of a true battle rifle.

But pistol-caliber carbines make perfect sense for self-defense. They are great for everyday carry when you want to have a companion gun to your pistol. They also give a prepper the ability to shoot pistol ammo in a long gun. So, if the ammo supply dries up and all you can find on the black market is handgun ammo, you now have a long gun that can use that ammo. There is little question that a long gun is easier to shoot than a handgun.

One other consideration is for use inside a building, like your home. Shooting a short-barreled .223 or .308 carbine inside a building is not a good idea. The blast from these guns is so loud that without hearing protection they can stun the shooter and will certainly cause permanent hearing damage. With a pistol caliber cartridge in a carbine, the blast is less and might be a better option when fighting a home invasion.

There was a time some years ago when these guns were all the rage. I remember Ruger and Marlin both had carbines in pistol cartridges. But I guess they didn’t sell all that well because they are gone. I think it was because they were ahead of their time. I suspect they would sell very well today, as people are more aware of the need for personal self-defense.

The cowboys loaded their cartridges into both their rifles and their handguns one at a time. They didn’t have magazines that could be replaced. Of course, we have that option, so the smart thing to do is to match the carbine to your handgun so that they can both use the same magazines. That way you can reload either gun in a fight without the need to think about which is which. Just grab a new magazine, stick it in the gun, and get back in the fight. Also, you only need to carry one set of magazines, not two.

There are a lot of different pistol-caliber carbines on the market, including several AR-15 variants. Again, I can’t begin to cover them all but here are a few I have tried and like. They represent three “classes” of these guns.

Kel-Tec SUB-2000


The Kel-Tec SUB-2000.

Yeah, I know, cheap guns right?

Yes, they are inexpensive, but those I have tried work pretty darn well. The only Kel-Tec that ever gave me a problem was a .380 handgun that broke after several years of shooting. The company just sent me a new one, no questions asked. Considering that the original gun was pretty inexpensive, it really didn’t owe me a thing. This kind of customer service is rare today.

Please do not take that as an endorsement for all inexpensive guns. Most are a mistake. But these Kel-Tec guns, at least those I have owned, are a good value for the money. It’s probably best to buy high end for your primary guns, but getting a few inexpensive guns for backup and barter makes sense.

That was my idea here—an inexpensive carbine for backup or barter. Then I tried the gun and was very pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t even going to cover it until David Fortier, the editor of the prepper magazine “Be Ready,” told me about this carbine. I am glad that he did.


This little carbine has the option of using several different pistol magazines. I ordered mine to use Glock 9mm magazines. I wanted a .40 but they were back ordered, so I got a 9mm and left an order for another in .40 when they are available. Fortunately, I have several Glocks in both cartridges and have collected a lot of magazines for both. Glock magazines are not expensive to buy and there are a lot of aftermarket magazines that often cost even less than Glock brand.

The coolest thing about this gun is that it folds in half to reduce it to a size of 16.25 x 7 inches. That means you can put it in a bag like the Blackhawk Diversion Wax Canvas Messenger Bag from BLACKHAWK! or the Vanquest Envoy 2.0 bag. You can put the folded carbine, several magazines, and even a pistol in these bags and just look like any other hipster headed to the coffee shop.


The Kel-Tec SUB-2000 folds up for easy carry and concealment.

If you get the dorky haircut, Buddy Holly glasses, and skinny jeans, nobody will ever suspect you are armed. It’s the perfect urban camo until TSHTF. Except, I am not sure it’s worth the hit on your self-esteem and sex life. They call those birth control glasses for a reason.

With this carbine folded and inside one of these messenger bags or a backpack, it’s completely hidden but ready for action very quickly. Just take it out, snap it shut, and go to work. The downside is that it is difficult to mount an optic because the sight will block the gun from folding up all the way. There is a peep rear and a protected front sight which work fine. I added a rail-mounted laser sight from LaserLyte on the bottom rail. All I have to do is slide my hand down the rail to hit the activation switch. Another option would be to mount a small red dot on an angle on the side of the forend using an M-Lock mount. Then the gun can be turned sideways to use the optic. This is a common technique in 3-gun shooting for Open Class rifles and is very effective for defense as well.

The stock is adjustable to three different positions and includes a single-point sling loop attachment, a slot for adding a nylon sling loop, and a Picatinny rail on the bottom for adding small accessories.

The safety is a push-bolt located behind the trigger on the grip. The bolt can be locked in the rear position by the operating handle. The rear sight is an aperture and the protected post front sight can be adjusted for windage and elevation. The thread protector on the muzzle covers 1/2–28 threads on the 9mm and 9/16–24 threads on the .40 S&W so you can add muzzle accessories if you wish.


This little gun only weighs 4.25 pounds, so it is comfortable to carry on a sling. I have shot it a bunch and so far it’s very reliable. This is an interesting little gun. I don’t honestly believe it’s of a design or quality to be your only gun for survival, but I sure think that buying one or two to have around is a great idea.

TRESNA JAG9G BU Tactical Rifle


The TRESNA JAG9G BU Tactical Rifle is a 9mm-chambered AR-15 type rifle. It uses the Glock magazines so you can interchange with a Glock 9mm handgun.

This 9mm is an AR-15 based gun. It uses a dedicated milled billet lower receiver that uses Glock magazines and comes with a thirty-three-round high cap magazine. They say any Gen 4 Glock magazine will fit.

The gun is more or less the M4 design, with a 16-inch barrel that even has a cut for a grenade launcher. It has a birdcage flash hider, of course. The forend is a four-rail that is a little short for my style of shooting, but is easily replaced. The stock is adjustable. The gun has a decent trigger and pretty much the same controls as any AR-15. I have been shooting it for a few weeks and so far it has digested every 9mm cartridge I have fed it without any bitching. I have tried multiple factory loads and a few hand loads and the gun just runs them without drama. I like that in a rifle.


The author with a TRESNA JAG9G BU Tactical Rifle. This is a 9mm-chambered AR-15 type rifle.

The gun is relatively light as AR-15s go at 6.5 pounds. It carries and handles like any M4 with a collapsible stock.

I have a Vortex Strike Fire red dot sight mounted on the gun and it’s very fast for multiple target drills. I can rip through the 2x2x2 drill and run my MGM plate rack probably as fast as with any rifle I have. The recoil of the 9mm cartridge is so minuscule that split times for aimed fire are fast.

The 9mm also picks up a little more velocity in the longer barrel than with a handgun and so is more effective with terminal ballistics. This is a gun that a serious prepper would do well to consider as a companion to a 9mm Glock handgun.

Beretta Cx4 Storm


Beretta Cx4 Storm.

I got this carbine many years ago because of New York. We were shooting USPSA at a club not too far from my home in Vermont, except that my son was a teenager and New York would not let him even touch a handgun. No kidding. As I understood the law, if I asked him to hand me my pistol and he did, we both would be committing a felony. I think if they had their way it would be illegal for a teenager to look at or even think about handguns and that was before New York got bad about gun laws.

So I talked the guys at the club into letting Nathan compete with a carbine and that’s how this Beretta Cx4 Storm came to live here at Camp Towsley.

Of course, the club disbanded after we shot one match. Now, with the new and improved gun laws in New York, I no longer do any competitions in that state.

But I still have the Storm. This little 9mm carbine takes Beretta pistol mags and has controls that are similar to running a pistol. For a right-handed shooter, the safety is a push button that you run with your trigger finger. The slide release is easy to reach with your thumb. The bolt is pulled back by a lever on the left side. You can reverse it all for lefties.

The rear sight is a peep with a post-style front. The adjustments are on the front sight. The gun has a rail on top and I have an Aimpoint red dot mounted on it so that I can also use the iron sights by looking through the Aimpoint.

The gun comes in 9mm or .40 S&W. It has a 16.6-inch barrel, is 29.7 inches long and weighs 5.7 pounds. The two-stage trigger is not what it could be. It’s hard to pull at almost 9-pounds pull weight and kind of mushy feeling. But other than that, this is a great little carbine.

I once had a buddy visiting my house who had been in the South African Special Forces for many years. He did some amazing shooting with this gun! If you are a Beretta fan and carry a Beretta handgun, this might be a great companion gun.

The idea of a pistol-caliber carbine is one that every serious prepper should check out. Using the same ammo in their pistols and rifles helped a lot of cowboys survive the lonesome prairie. It might help you survive the lonesome apocalypse.