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

OTHER RIFLES

The “Other” Rifles

Rifles that just don’t fit in.

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The .351 Winchester SL was once the cutting edge in a fighting rifle; today, not so much.

Iam reluctant to open the door to this topic. “Other rifles” can encompass a very wide range of firearms and the chapter could get out of hand pretty quickly.

This is kind of an end of the section, end of the book catch-all for all those other rifles and concepts that didn’t quite fit into any of the other chapters.

I can’t begin to cover all the “other rifles” out there. I don’t want to, and you don’t want me to. Do you really want to hear about my antique L Ehennec MLE rifle? How about the Trapdoor Springfield .45–70 or my 1907 Winchester semiauto in .351 SL? They were all fighting guns at some point, but that point is in the past. They are irrelevant to any prepper today.

This is more of a random collection of the leftovers. Some like the Mini-14 are here because I had planned a long chapter on the gun, until the word count got out of hand and those chapters not yet written became abbreviated. Had I started with this gun you would have probably read a long, historic dissertation of Bill Ruger’s gun, one he never really wanted to be a fighting gun, but became one anyway. It had the unfortunate position of being one of the last guns I wrote about. No reason—it just was. Even in abbreviated form, you will see it’s a great gun. If you need more detail, wait for Volume II of this book, or just Google it as a lot has been written on the Mini-14 in the forty years it has been around.

The SCAR is much of the same; I wanted to give it a much bigger word count, but couldn’t. Again, it’s a great rifle with a strong history. I wish I could have explored it more, but you get the point that it’s a good choice for preppers. It was one of the last guns to show up, so it got a bit short changed.

Finally, you didn’t think I would forget the .22 LR, did you? It may well be one of the most important guns a prepper can have. Once you deal with your personal protection firearms, you need to look at the guns that will help you live and survive the issues beyond fighting. The .22 LR is an important piece of that puzzle.

For lack of a better choice of words, here are some of the leftovers.

Ruger Mini-14 and Its Variants

Spawned from America’s last battle rifle, this Ruger is a good choice for preppers.

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The Ruger Mini-14 is an iconic American-made, magazine-fed, semiauto rifle.

In 1975 Sturm Ruger introduced the Mini-14, which is, as it was described in the book Ruger and his Guns, “a scaled down version of the M14—but not exactly.”

The M14 was the last true “battle rifle” as defined by using full power 30-caliber ammo. It was a big, long, and heavy rifle. Ruger trimmed it down, chambered it for our current fighting cartridge, and developed a rifle for those looking to be a little different. For those who love the M1 or M14 designs or who are simply looking for an alternative to the AR/AK rifles, the Ruger is a well-proven rifle.

The Mini-14 rifle has been offered in multiple variations over the years in 5.56/.223 chambering. They also offer a .300 ACC Blackout. The Mini-30 is chambered for 7.62X39. They made a Mini-6.8, in 6.8 SPC, for a while, but it’s discontinued.

My Mini-14 is a tactical model with a 16-inch barrel and a birdcage flash hider. It’s stainless steel with a synthetic stock. The gun comes with an adjustable rear peep sight and a protected blade front sight. The receiver will accept Ruger rings for mounting a scope. There are also rails and mounts for mini red dots available aftermarket.

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Ruger Mini-14.

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The author shooting the Ruger Mini-14. This is a good choice for a personal-defense long gun.

The Mini-14 comes with two twenty-round magazines, but aftermarket magazines are available and thirty-round mags are common and affordable. There are some reports of poor-quality aftermarket magazines, so if you go outside of the Ruger factory options, do some homework and make sure you are getting high-quality magazines.

The Mini-14 magazine might be an issue for preppers because it’s not interchangeable with the AR-15. The gun has been around for a long time and there are a lot of magazines out there, but they will be harder to find than AR-15 magazines if TSHTF. So it’s always a good idea to stock up on extra magazines.

This is a gas-piston-driven rifle and it is reliable. Some of the older Mini-14 rifles had a reputation for horrible accuracy, but the new guns are vastly improved. As with any Ruger, they are tough and dependable.

These guns deserve a hard look from any prepper and can provide a good alternative to the AR-15 as a personal, primary long gun.

FN SCAR 16

The Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) is a modular rifle made by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FNH) for the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to satisfy the requirements of the SCAR competition.

These full-auto battle rifles are a lot of fun to shoot. I have been lucky enough to use them several times, including at a 3-gun match as a guest of FN. For the record, I did use the “fun switch” on one stage—the temptation was too great to resist—but a threatened DQ changed my mind on doing it again. Of course, I had plenty of time between stages to play with it. I have also fired the SCAR full-auto at night with a laser sight. Great fun.

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The author shooting an FNH SCAR.

The SCAR-L, for “light,” called the SCAR 16, is chambered in the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge. The SCAR-H, for “heavy,” called the SCAR 17, is chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO. Both are offered in several different configurations.

One way to describe the SCAR 16 is that it’s the next generation of the AR-15. While a different gun, the controls are similar with the safety, magazine release, and bolt release all in the same location and operated the same. The mag release and the safety are ambidextrous.

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Mark Hanish from FNH shooting a SCAR in a 3-gun match.

My SCAR has a rail for mounting optics as well as folding iron sights. The SCAR is a tough, battle-proven, piston-driven rifle. I have seen them used a lot in 3-gun competition with my friends on the FN 3-gun team and other shooters. It’s a reliable rifle that can stand up to tough conditions. Anything an AR-15 can do, this rifle does just as well or better.

My only complaint is the charging handle is on the left side and reciprocates as the bolt operates. This can cause problems if it hits your hand or when shooting through a doorway or window if it hits the frame. When that happens, it will jam up the gun. I have hit my thumb multiple times with the charging handle while shooting this gun. When that happens it not only jams the gun, it hurts like hell and makes me say words that would get my bottom swatted with a wooden spoon if my mother was alive.

The SCAR uses NATO-style M16 magazines so that any AR-15 magazine will work. This is a huge advantage for a prepper, because magazines should be relatively easy to find.

The .308 chambered SCAR 17 uses a proprietary magazine, so it probably isn’t as good a choice for preppers. During a time of crisis magazines will be very hard to find as these guns are not as common as many other .308 rifles. It’s a fine rifle; but if you buy one, stock up on magazines.

And after TSHTF it might be harder to find parts for the SCAR than the more common AR-15 rifles. Other than that, this is a very good choice for preppers looking for a personal long gun.

FN FAL

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The FN FAL or Fusil Automatique Léger (Light Automatic Rifle) is a selective-fire battle rifle produced by FNH, the same people who now make the SCAR.

Most NATO countries adopted the FN FAL, but not the US military, even though it was at the insistence of the United States that the standard cartridge be 7.62×51mm NATO (.308). As a result, this rifle is one of the most popular guns in history. It has been used by the military in more than ninety countries. The rifle is nicknamed, “The right arm of the free world.” In many ways it is to the Western world what the AK-47 was to the Communist bloc.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, many countries replaced and decommissioned their FAL rifles. Many of them were sold to US importers as surplus and the upper receivers were destroyed under American law, so they were no longer full-auto guns. They were then sold as “parts kits” and used with a different receiver to build legal semiautomatic rifles.

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Nathan Towsley sighting in a FN FAL.

In fact that’s how I got mine; I built it with a Coonan receiver. (They are the same folks who make a 1911 pistol in .357 Magnum.)

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There are a lot of these guns out there on the American market. Even as a semiauto, they are serious battle rifles in a serious cartridge.

The trouble is they are commanding a high price on the used gun market. The guns now are going for more than the price of a new AR-15, so I am not sure that this is the best gun for a prepper.

If you can find an FAL at an affordable price it’s a good functional rifle and is a good long-gun option. But it’s probably not a gun that a prepper should seek. You might be better served to spend the same money on an AR-15 or an AR-L in .308 and have a new rifle that easily accepts modern optics. Also, parts and magazines will be easier to find for these rifles.

“Other” Military Rifles

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General Patton is quoted as saying, “In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.”

People still cling to that, even though the military has long since given up on the rifle. In 1945 it was true, but today it is not the best option. It’s not even in the top five. I love the rifle. I think it’s on the list of guns that every hard-core gun guy should own, but mine is for something other than prepping.

No matter how cool it looked with Clint Eastwood pointing it at gang members and snarling “get off my lawn,” the M1 is an old, outdated rifle. So are the M14 and any military rifle like the Mauser or Springfield bolt-actions.

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Mosin Nagant Sniper

If you think a Mosin Nagant is the ultimate survival rifle, you are not thinking this through. (I have seen that statement on the Internet many times.) Sure the Soviet Union held off the Nazis at Stalingrad with that rifle, but that was back when the Nazis were also using bolt-action Mausers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mosin Nagant; I own several and shoot them often. But they are for fun and nostalgia, not protecting my life. It is an 1890s Russian-design bolt-action rifle with a clip-fed magazine and is long enough to serve as a support pole for a circus tent. Only a fool would think this is the best gun to survive TEOTWAWKI.

Of course, any gun is better than nothing, but if you are serious about prepping, you should be looking at serious guns for that serious business.

Hunting Rifles

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Custom Remington Model 700 in .280 AI.

I suppose the same might be said about hunting rifles. They are better than no rifle at all. But most hunting rifles hold very limited ammunition, are slow to reload and are not designed to hold up to sustained firing.

What about hunting? Well, that could be a big part of survival. Foraging and hunting may be important to making sure you have enough food, but keep it in perspective.

There is this romantic notion that we can “head for the hills” and live off the land. I can tell you this much: I have been a hard-core hunter, both as my personal passion and as my profession as a hunting writer for all of my life. I have hunted with just about every type of firearm and with most of the archery gear that can fling an arrow. I have even hunted hogs with a knife. I have hunted almost every legal species in North America and a bunch of different critters in Africa, Russia, Europe, Mexico, and South America. I am also a trapper and made my living trapping for a couple of winters back when fur was bringing a good price. I am an experienced fisherman and I pride myself on being a woodsman and on my skills in the wilderness.

I do not want to live off the land! I am not even sure I could live off the land. Even if I were successful, it would be a very tough life. A lot of food is seasonal and will be very difficult to find at times.

The hunter-gatherers in history lived hard and short lives.

Beyond that, think it through. If the crisis drags on very long, wild game will become scarce. Most of it will be shot, the rest will develop skills at not getting shot.

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Remington R25 in .038.

Finally, you can hunt with most of your personal protection rifles. An AR-L in .308 is good for most any game in North America. The exceptions might be the polar or grizzly bears, neither known as good table fare. Law and order may be a thing of the past and a lot of people will be desperate and hungry. If you run into trouble while hunting, you are much better equipped with an AR-L in .308 than with a bolt-action .308.

If you are in the extremely remote wilderness where hunting game like moose or elk will truly be a big part of survival and where the odds of running into packs of bad guys are remote, then a bolt-action rifle might be a good idea. In that situation, I personally would pick a big cartridge to help remove any doubt about the critters I shoot, at least a .300 Winchester or larger. If there are bears with attitudes around, particularly the grizzly kind, I would pick a .338 or larger. But for the vast majority of preppers who are going to be trying to survive in the lower forty-eight states, I can see little use for a bolt-action hunting rifle, at least not as long as you have better options.

If you have hunting rifles, by all means keep them. They are backup guns and excellent barter items. But if you are buying guns to build your survival battery, it might be best to put your money into guns that are more diverse in their use than a hunting rifle.

The “Survival” Guns

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The AR-7 Survival Gun breaks down and stores in the buttstock.

The concept of a “survival” gun has again taken on a bit of a romantic notion with the prepper movement. Like I have stated many times, I think the best survival gun is an AR-15 or AR-L in .308. There is not much that these guns can’t do. They are outstanding for defense and adequate for hunting and foraging.

But for many, the concept of a “survival” gun is some minimalist firearm that you take with you as you bug out and head for the hills. It’s a gun that when mated with your scary ninja skills will keep you fat and happy for the rest of your long life. Or at least that’s what I keep reading on the Internet. Heck, the best of the best of them say they plan to bring a flintlock. They will make their own flints, powder, and balls, relying only on the resources of God’s bounty and their superior intellects.

I wish them luck, but that sounds like a hard way to go when there are so many great guns out there and plenty of cartridges to run them. Why take a flintlock when you can have an AR? Remember too that the bad guys will have ARs or AKs. Good luck fighting them with your flintlock. You might also want to check out how using those old muzzle-loaders worked for Lewis and Clark when they ran into grizzly bears. Here’s a hint: It didn’t end well.

Then again, if you believe all the television shows about TEOTWAWKI today, all you need to survive is a sword. Or maybe a crossbow. Hollywood and the fanboys love them both. I think it’s now a law that you can’t have an end-of-the-world show unless the people in it are using swords and crossbows. Seeing that, you start to understand how the term “survival gun” has morphed in today’s Internet and television-driven society.

I think the concept of a “survival” gun goes back to the idea of something small, compact, and inexpensive. It was to put under the seat of an airplane, snowmobile, truck, or boat, and forget until you needed it. If your bush plane crashed, you dug out this survival gun and a few cartridges and used it to feed yourself until you walked home or were rescued. It was not intended to fight off hordes of hungry zombies or to shoot a moose, but rather to plug a grouse or rabbit or maybe even a deer if conditions were right.

This concept has a place with preppers as well. Much of this book focuses on fighting guns. I think that should be the number-one goal for preppers. Staying alive, particularly in the early years, is going to be mostly about keeping what you have. There will be a lot of people trying to steal your food and equipment and possibly trying to kill you. This is what you need to prepare for.

But there will be other considerations. If you move to a retreat or are lucky enough to already live in the country you will need to look at long-term survival. Eventually, you will probably have chickens and other fowl, as well as livestock. You will have a garden. The meat, eggs, milk, and vegetables will be what sustain you and your family. Sure, you may have food stored away and you will hunt and forage, but in the end you will need to have a multi-tiered approach to survival.

What people are prepping for today, a lot of us who grew up rural and poor just called “life.” Part of that is solving your own problems.

It seems like today people call the government for everything. If there is a raccoon raiding the garbage, they call animal control. If a fox is in the neighborhood and acting sick, they call the cops. If a deer is eating their shrubs, they call the game warden.

Those people are not going to do well in the new reality. Self-reliance is a trait that will be required. The solution that is obvious to most of us is to trap the coon, shoot the fox, and eat the deer.

You will also have rats, woodchucks, rabbits, squirrels, and other varmints eating your food. They might be cute now, but when the rabbits have trashed the garden that you need to survive the winter, cute doesn’t cut it. I think that a .22 LR rifle or maybe a shotgun are critical tools preppers need to deal with these problems. Besides, rabbits are tasty.

I live in a rural area now and we have some problems with pests that I have to deal with pretty regularly. I can tell you it’s a lot of fun to open the kitchen window and blast a property-damaging varmint with an AR-15. There is a certain satisfaction in the “overkill” on a red squirrel that just caused hundreds of dollars of damage to the gear stored in my shed, but in a survival situation it’s prudent to stay a bit lower key. You don’t want to call attention to your home with loud noises and it’s best not to scare off any other edible game that might be around.

(Take note, if you continue to train with your defensive guns, and you should, it might be best to find a spot some distance from your living quarters.)

The survival guns can be a good choice here. These are generally low-cost, simple guns that you can stick where they might be needed, like by your back door, in the barn, or in a boat.

There are a lot of guns that will work, but here are a few suggestions of new guns that have caught my eye.

Savage Model 42

For years Savage has made the Model 24, over/under with a rifle on top and a shotgun on the bottom. The most common was a .22 LR over a .410 shotgun. But they also made the rifle in cartridges like the .30–30 Win. or .308 Win., both suitable for big game. The rifles chambered for these cartridges usually had a 20-or 12-gauge shotgun barrel underneath. That model is no longer made, but you might find some on the used gun market.

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Savage Model 42 in .22 LR and .410 shotgun.

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Savage Model 42 in .22 LR and .410 shotgun.

Today Savage makes a modern version called the Model 42. You can get a .22 LR or a .22 Magnum on top and a .410 shotgun underneath.

This is a break-action single-shot. (Well okay, two shots, but a single shot in each barrel.) It’s short, handy, and only weighs about 6.1 pounds.

This is a perfect gun to keep by the back door or in your barn to shoot targets of opportunity like a garden-raiding rabbit or a rat stealing your cattle feed.

Break It Down

Semiauto .22 LR rifles are as common as dirt. They are not horribly expensive to buy new and the used market is full of these guns. It’s a good idea for any prepper to have one or two .22 LR rifles around. They work well for this “survival” gun concept. When I was growing up everybody had a deer camp and they all had an old .22 that was left there to deal with porcupines and other problem varmints.

I keep hearing how the .22 is the perfect survival gun, mostly because you can carry a lot of ammo with you. But again, I am hearing it from foolish people with foolish notions about how survival will be after TSHTF. I know there must be a lot of them because indications are that they are the driving force behind the .22 LR ammo shortages that have gone on for years.

However, the concept of fighting for your life with a .22 LR is a very bad idea. This is not a stopping cartridge. It’s easy to say you will “shoot them in the eye” but that ignores the fact that you are not fighting paper targets on a square range. That eye you are planning to shoot is attached to a guy who will be moving and hard to hit. He will also be shooting at you, probably with a much bigger gun.

Another thing I keep hearing is, “I’ll just shoot him a bunch of times.” While you are shooting the bad guy over and over, his buddy will be shooting you.

Forget it; the .22 is not a fighting gun, just as it’s not for foraging big game. I suppose it might work for either in an emergency, if you are lucky, but that’s not what it’s good for. It’s useful for pest control and hunting small game, or perhaps for training with cheaper ammo and less noise.

But make no mistake; a .22 LR rifle is one of the most useful guns a prepper can have in “true life” survival scenarios.

I highly recommend that any prepper have a magazine-fed semiauto .22 LR with several spare magazines. Or, like I said before, two would be better.

Two interesting guns in this category are the takedown models offered by Ruger and Marlin. They come with carry bags and break down to smaller packages that are easier to store under a seat or in a backpack. They embody the “survival” gun concept as it was originally intended. These would make great rifles to have in a boat, at your remote cabin, or even in a bug-out backpack.

They are also good guns to keep around your place for dealing with problems. You can leave them ready to go, or break them down for travel.

Marlin Model 70PSS Stainless

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Marlin Model 70PSS Stainless takedown .22 LR.

This stainless steel, synthetic stock, semiauto comes with an all-weather case. You can take it apart and put it back together in a matter of seconds. The barrel is held on with a knurled nut that you tighten or loosen with your fingers or the supplied wrench. It comes with open sights and the receiver is grooved for a tip-off-style scope mount.

The gun comes with a seven-shot magazine and the padded case has built-in flotation. The gun only weighs 3.25 pounds.

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

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Ruger 10/22 takedown.

The Ruger 10/22 might be the best-known and most popular .22 rifle on the market. It has earned a reputation as a tough, reliable, accurate rifle. It is not all that expensive and a prepper would do well to consider the 10/22.

The gun is also offered in a takedown model that is easy to transport. The gun slides together and a slight twist locks it together. A spring-loaded lever releases the two halves and a slight twist in the other direction takes it apart. It is stainless steel with a synthetic stock and a Ruger ten-round rotary magazine. You can even order it with a threaded muzzle and a flash hider. The gun comes with open sights and is drilled and tapped, with a base included for mounting a scope.

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Ruger 10/22 takedown with Ruger BX-25, twenty-five-round magazines.

The ballistic-nylon case has pouches for each of the two parts as well as cleaning gear and ammo. One pocket is designed to hold six loaded Ruger BX-25, twenty-five-round magazines. As I pointed out before, a .22 is a poor choice in a fight, but if you get caught in a fight and all you have is a .22, you’d better hope it’s this one with those magazines!