Prepper Guns: Firearms, Ammo, Tools, and Techniques You Will Need to Survive the Coming Collapse (2016)
The Middle Ground
Smaller pistols for concealed carry and backup.
S&W Shield in front. Back is SCCY (left) and Ruger LC9s.
Ahard-core gun guy might feel good about carrying a full-size 1911 or striker fired handgun, but most people do not. In fact, I’ll admit that much of the time I do not and you won’t find a more hard-core gun guy than me. The truth is, a full-size handgun is heavy and hard to hide. It will pull your pants down and by the end of the day it will make your back hurt. While I carry full-size guns a lot, I find that more and more I am moving into another category of handgun for my everyday carry.
Why is a discussion on current everyday carry part of a book on prepping? Well, for now we are going about our everyday lives. Nothing of the magnitude of TEOTWAWKI has happened. We should not be just buying guns for prepping and then sticking them away unused. Part of prepping is buying guns that we will also use for everyday protection and that we will enjoy training with and shooting on a regular basis.
The truth is that the odds still favor that we will not see any kind of long-term survival situation become dominant in our lives. The world has gone on for a very long time and it will probably continue to self-correct and continue on for a while longer. While I think the odds have changed considerably that bad stuff is coming and that the possibility is much stronger today than it was a decade ago, the optimistic outlook is that somehow the grownups will regain control and life, as we know it, will continue without serious interruption.
Of course, if we could predict the future we could just buy lottery tickets until we have enough money for a private island where nobody will bother us. But we can’t. Or at least I can’t and I assume you can’t either, so the smart money is on preparing for the worst while we hope for the best.
A functioning society doesn’t mean we should bury our heads in the sand. Even in today’s still (relatively speaking) stable society, there is a pervading evil that is growing. Even if it never grows enough to create a serious survival situation, it’s a dangerous world out there and becoming more dangerous every day. The responsibility for your personal safety is yours alone. I know you believe that or you would not be reading this book. That probably means you are carrying a gun now.
Another worn-out platitude is that “the best carry gun is the one you have with you when you need it.” If you are of the build and temperament that allows carrying a full-size gun all the time, then you are ahead of the game in that department. For many other people, including myself sometimes, there is a compromise; a category of carry gun that addresses the “comforting, not comfortable” issue with handguns that are easier to carry, but still are viable fighting guns.
The idea of a carry gun is that it should be in a cartridge powerful enough to be considered a serious defensive handgun. It should also be in a handgun that you can shoot well, actually hit the target with, and it should hold a reasonable amount of ammo. Lots of handguns fit those guidelines. But if carrying the gun is “comfortable” wouldn’t that also be a huge asset?
We covered the little, polymer-frame .380 ACP guns in another chapter. Assuming you have not read that one yet, they are not the guns that solve the problem. The .380 is really a bit small and underpowered to be considered a serious fight-stopping pistol cartridge. The guns themselves are difficult to shoot under stressful conditions and it’s often hard to shoot them with precision beyond powder-burn distance. The guns have their place, but in my never-humble opinion that place is not as a primary carry gun, either now or after a disaster.
It used to be that the next step up were the compact guns that were simply scaled-down versions of the full-size pistols, like the mini-Glocks or others like the FNH FNS-9C, S&W M&P Compact, Ruger SR40, and many others. These are smaller guns that typically are around seven inches long and weigh twenty to twenty-five ounces empty.
They are great guns for the most part and are relatively compact, but still maintain good magazine capacity. For example, the Glock G26 holds ten rounds in the magazine and the slightly larger FNS-9C has a twelve-round magazine capacity.
The Ruger SR40 in .40 S&W holds ten rounds. Clearly that’s less ammo capacity than a full-size gun, but it’s a lot more than a micro or most revolvers. At the lower end in size and weight spectrum in this class would be guns like the SCCY, double-stack 9mm. It’s 5.7 inches long and weighs fifteen ounces. This inexpensive, double-action-only, polymer-frame gun is small and compact. The magazine capacity with a double-stack magazine is ten rounds of 9mm. The upper end is the FNS-9C that is 7.25 inches long and weighs 25.5 ounces.
This class of handgun is usually described as a subcompact pistol: smaller than full-size like the Glock G17 and its CCCs (copies, clones, and competition), but not exactly small. The footprint is smaller than a full-size or even a compact, but most of these handguns still use a double-stack magazine, so they maintain the width of a full-size gun and much of the weight due to more steel in the slides.
Then in 2012, along came the S&W M&P Shield, a striker-fired, polymer-frame handgun that created a brand-new category. I am not sure what the category should be called and neither is the industry. The guns are smaller than a subcompact but larger than a micro pistol. Glock calls theirs a “subcompact slimline,” Ruger calls the SR9s a “Lightweight Compact Pistol” and S&W just calls the Shield a “Compact Pistol.”
Clearly these guns need a catchier name and of course, an acronym. After all, you are nothing in the gun industry today without an acronym.
Maybe super-micro, SM? Micros on steroids, MOS? Sub-Sub-Compact, SSC? Super Sub-Compact, also SSC? Double-Sub-Compact, DSC? The little handguns that could, TLHTC?
Maybe not that last one.
The Shield split the difference in size between the little .380 handguns and the larger handguns. The key is that it’s a true, scaled-down handgun in every dimension. The slim, “less than an inch” width made it a very light and very comfortable gun to carry. It also made the gun feel good in a smaller hand, which is important for a lot of gun owners. While most men have little trouble with a smaller handgun grip and can adapt easily, those with small hands find a large grip difficult to deal with.
The Shield has high-quality, three-dot sights that are easy to see. The striker-fired trigger pull is about 6.5 pounds, so the gun is easy to shoot. But the best aspect of the Shield, other than its size and weight, is that it’s available in true self-defense cartridges.
The 9mm Parabellum is the best seller in the Shield. It is considerably more powerful than the .380, averaging about 300 foot-pounds, while some +P loads can nearly double the power of the .380 ACP.
The great thing to my way of thinking that all fighting handgun cartridges should start with a four, is that you can buy the Shield in .40 S&W. This cartridge uses a larger diameter, heavier bullet than the 9mm, and will produce nearly 480 foot-pounds of energy with some loads.
Some will say the .40 S&W is harder to shoot than the 9mm. However, in a blind, side-by-side comparison I did with several shooters and two Shields it was extremely difficult to tell the difference in recoil between .40 S&W and 9mm +P.
The M&P Shield features a black polymer frame and a coated stainless steel slide and barrel that are rust resistant, which is important in a carry gun where sweat is unavoidable. The barrel is 3.1 inches and overall length is just 6.1 inches. The empty gun weighs only nineteen ounces, which is less than two spare loaded magazines weigh for a double-stack, full-size handgun. The sight radius is 5.3 inches and trigger pull is 6.5 pounds. Unlike some other striker-fired handguns, the Shield can be disassembled without pulling the trigger.
The guns ship with two magazines, one of them with extended capacity and an insert to extend the grip. These magazines hold eight and seven rounds of 9mm. The .40 S&W magazines hold seven and six rounds. The Shield has an eighteen-degree grip angle for natural point of aim for most shooters.
The Shield can be ordered with or without a safety. As with most striker-fired handguns, no secondary safety is required. However, the option is on the table for those who wish to have the redundancy of a safety.
The M&P Shield is a very easy gun to shoot and on the range it acts more like a full-size handgun. I find that I can run drills and make hits easily. Of course, with any carry gun it’s important that you be able to shoot it well and this is a gun that is fun and easy to shoot, which encourages practice.
I am a huge advocate of laser sights on any carry gun and the Shield can be ordered with the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard installed. The green laser is very bright and unlike most red lasers it can be seen in most daylight conditions.
Crossbreed makes a holster that will fit the Shield with the green laser. I also have one of my Shields fitted with a Viridian green laser with a magnetic switch. This takes a special holster so that the laser is off in the holster and comes on when you draw the gun. The laser comes with a holster, but one designed for the commoners, not we special people. Crossbreed again came to the rescue with a left-handed version.
One of my other Shields in .40 S&W is fitted with the CT green laser and with Trijicon HD Night Sights. These sights are another add-on that I highly recommend; these are some of the best night sights for a carry gun I have tried. This set up has become my go-to carry gun much of the time. I trust my life and the life of my loved ones to this gun. That’s something I do not take lightly and I believe makes a strong statement about the Shield.
In fact, I liked the Shield so much I bought three of them. I got a couple of .40 S&Ws for myself and my wife to carry. I also bought a 9mm because I think this cartridge is important for prepping due to the ammo availability issue. It’s a NATO cartridge and very popular with law enforcement and civilians, so even in times of shortages this is the ammo voted most likely to be available.
This S&W Shield is fitted with a Viridian green laser with a magnetic switch. The crossbreed holster has a magnet that turns the laser off when the gun is holstered. The dot of the laser is pointing at the magnet.
Don’t think these SSC handguns (that’s the acronym I like best) are carry guns for women, feeble old men, and wimps. I have a buddy who is six-foot-five-inches tall and weighs more than 350 pounds. He is a big, very tough guy—you would be making a huge mistake to mess with him—and he carries a Shield. I have another weightlifting buddy who is close to six feet tall, very fit, and big enough nobody messes with him. He can bench-press a Prius and he carries a Shield.
I was in a small local gun shop a few weeks ago and the guy behind the counter was showing a Shield to a customer. He knows me well and mentioned that I carry one. He asked if I minded showing it to the guy and telling him why I like it so much. Three other guys in the shop spoke up and said they were also carrying Shields. He made the sale.
This class of guns is too good for the Shield to stand alone. If you are a Ruger fan, you will love the LC9s, which is the striker-fired version of the LC9. It can be ordered with or without a safety. Offered in 9mm, this 6-inch, 17.2-ounce handgun has a magazine capacity of seven rounds. The sights are white, three-dot. My gun has one of the nicest striker-fired triggers I have seen in this class of handgun.
Like any Ruger it’s rugged and dependable. Mine runs and runs and never complains or jams.
If you are a Glock guy, the G43 is their gun in the SSC category. This little 9mm has a six-round magazine, is 6.26 long and weighs eighteen ounces. It’s a small, single-stack gun, but otherwise is pretty much a Glock in every other way. Not sure what I can say that has not already been said elsewhere in this book about Glocks. The G43 is so dependable that it’s boring. Any ammo I feed it is ingested and expelled without fanfare or drama. The sights are classic Glock, white-dot front, and white outline rear. It’s a very “shootable” handgun, one that will no doubt become a best seller in this category. Can we dare hope that Glock will introduce it in .40 S&W?
Let’s be clear on one point. I don’t think that the Shield, Glock G43, Ruger LC9s, and all their CCCs, or any subcompact for that matter, should be a primary carry gun after TSHTF.
They are an acceptable compromise now. Although comfortable and easy to carry, they are serious fighting guns; but they are still a compromise. We give up magazine capacity, sight radius, and the faster follow-up shots that come with recoil dampening weight. For most of us, right now, the odds of actually using our carry gun are infinitesimal. But when you need one, you really need one. These are guns people will carry and so the compromise is acceptable. Better to have a SSC on your belt when trouble finds you than a big 1911 back home, sitting on your dresser.
If things go bad and we find ourselves in times of serious duress, then a serious prepper should be carrying a serious handgun. For most, that means a full-size handgun. It might be a double-stack or if you prefer, a 1911. If TSHTF then the odds of needing our handguns for protection go up until they blow off the chart. It there is a total social and economic breakdown those odds will crowd 100 percent. When danger becomes very real and almost a guarantee it only makes sense to carry a grownup-size fighting handgun.
If that happens, you may wonder, where does the SSC I bought fit in? Why did I talk you into buying a gun that I no longer recommend for a primary carry gun?
Simple, backup. If things really do get bad it will be smart to carry at least two handguns at all times. These SSC handguns are comfortable, can be chambered for the same cartridge as your primary handgun, and can do some serious damage in a fight for your life. They make the perfect backup handgun for preppers.