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


Guns for the Meltdown

Think you can survive the end of society with your deer rifle? Think again.


Ican tell you that no book worth reading in the history of the world was finished on schedule, including this one. Anybody organized and disciplined enough to do that is not creative enough to write anything other than a boring book.

I know writers like that: precise, on schedule, and very organized . . . and their books are snoozefests. Check into all the great writers in history and you will find that they were mostly free spirits. At least that’s the excuse I keep using for this landfill I call a desk. (Remember what Einstein said: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”)

It’s also the excuse I had for being late getting my novel, The 14th Reinstated, finished. That book is set after total economic and social collapse. While it’s an action-adventure work of fiction, it deals with exactly the same scenarios we are prepping for today. In fact, it was the inspiration for this book. As you might suppose, considering that I am a gun guy, there is a lot of shooting, a lot of fights, and a lot of guns in that book.

I wanted to publish it in advance of the 2012 elections to cash in on the well-placed fear that people had for the future, given the direction Obama had been pushing the country.

(Full disclosure: There is an “Obama-like” character in the book and he is not one of the good guys.)

I thought that once Romney won the White House things would improve and people would be less fearful about the future and perhaps less inclined to buy my novel. Clearly, there was no way Romney could lose, and I believed it would slow sales to have America back on track again (for the record, a price that I would willingly pay).

Obviously, I underestimated the stupidity of American voters. Throughout history, it’s always been bank accounts that drive elections, and no sitting president in history had been able to defend against so bad an economic record and keep his job. But America has changed; voters are motivated by different things now. As somebody (according to Google it could have been any one of Alexander Fraser Tytler, or maybe Alexis de Tocqueville, or Elmer T. Peterson) once said:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

The voter motivations that are driving elections now are no longer sustainable and I fear America will end badly, which is the main point of this book. This new direction for America has been good for book sales, but bad for our country.

If you are reading this, then I assume you probably have a clue and are worried about the future. The signs are not good. I keep telling myself that we have made it through bad times before and we will make it through this, but then I look at the news and I fear I am wrong. This time it all feels different.

We can’t predict the future, but if you are smart, you are making some preparations. I am not suggesting that you build a walled compound in the middle of nowhere—at least not yet. But you should be making plans to feed, shelter, and protect your family if this does indeed all go south.

I believe protection is most important. Storing “beans, bullets, and Band-Aids” is a worthless gesture unless you have a way to hold onto them. If the law no longer applies and there are thousands of desperate, hungry people roaming around with no social restraints or cops to keep them in line, it will all be up to you.

I know it’s a horrible thing to think about and most people refuse to consider it, but truth is an ugly bitch sometimes. We all hope that it will never happen and frankly the odds still favor that it will not, but we must consider that we are moving closer every day to a major disaster in America. Certainly the odds are much higher today for social and economic collapse than they were in 2008. If it happens and if you are not preparing, including for your own defense, you will probably die.

I met a woman at a party the other day. She told me how concerned she is about things going bad. Then, because I was trapped at the table with her, she told me her plans. She is going to leave her house in New York State with no real planning or any gear. She is going to meet her daughter and two young grandchildren at a state campground, because to her, “that is out in the boonies where it’s safe.” She has no camping gear or camping experience, which probably doesn’t matter much because she has no plans on what to do for shelter, food, or security after they arrive. The only thing she is certain of is that they must “head for the hills.”

I asked about guns, already pretty sure what the answer was going to be.

“Oh, I have a .22,” she said. Then she giggled. “But I don’t know how to use it.”

Just to be clear, if it all falls apart and she follows her plan, that lady is going to die very quickly. In fact, there will be a multitude of “cause of deaths” lining up for a chance at glory. I doubt she will make it a week. It’s too bad; she is a nice person, just foolish and naive. There is not much we can do about people like that, except wish them well and make meaningful preparations for ourselves and our families.

Prepping means you must think ahead and make smart choices. Part of smart prepping is recognizing that the realities are going to be savage and brutal and that guns and ammo are the only tools that can help you keep what is valuable to your survival.

But which ones should you buy?

Well, I can say for starters that a .22 you don’t even know how to load is not the correct answer.

I know you are interested in prepping and personal defense, otherwise you would not be reading this book. If you are like most intelligent people, you are looking to multiple sources of information on the topic of which guns and ammo are best for survival. But let me provide a little caution. Things have changed. Until recently if you were reading a book or a nationally circulated magazine, the text was likely written by a genuine expert in the field and was edited by a staff of professionals. For a gun writer to reach the point where he was publishing in the big national magazines or writing books for noted publishers, he would have paid a lot of dues. Back then a gun writer had to make his bones by proving his expertise. The editorial staff served as a filter to make sure the writer knew his stuff. Sure, an occasional article written by a fool slipped by, but any name that was in the magazine regularly belonged to a writer who had proven himself to be a true expert in the field. As for books, no legitimate publisher would make the investment necessary for a new book in a writer without a proven track record.

Today, everybody is an expert. The Internet gave a forum to thousands of people looking to publish. This is a great thing overall, but it opened the door to a lot of misinformation. I am not saying that only a print writer can be right; there are a lot of good writers on the Internet. Heck, I have my own blogs, including “Towsley on Prepping” and “Towsley on Tactical,” and I regularly contribute to several other gun or hunting sites. Just be careful. Think about what you are reading and see if it makes sense.

One good example from the bloviating crowd that always sets my blood boiling:

“You only need one gun to survive. If you can shoot, you can get all the guns and ammo you want. Heck, give me one gun and I can get a tank.”

Usually these guys will advocate for a simple gun like a revolver, which I suppose in their simple minds makes them superior. After all, if you can take a .38 Special revolver and attack a solider or even a well-armed civilian and take their battle rifle or their tank, well then you must be one hell of a man.

This misses several points. First, you must be willing to commit murder to take the other guy’s guns. In my view, that’s a very poor platform on which to base your survival strategy.

I recognize that this book is mostly about guns used to shoot other people, but I see a clear distinction. The guns I am writing about are for protection, survival, and defense. They are not used to murder other people and take their possessions. I have guns exactly because there are other people who are going to try to murder me for my stuff. I see a very clear moral distinction between the two. If you are the kind of guy who will murder somebody else in cold blood to get his guns, I see you as the problem, not the solution. You are the reason I have guns and why I am writing this book.

The second flaw in this argument is that you may well run into a guy who can shoot just as well as you can, or maybe even better. He has a rifle (or a tank), you have a revolver; the math is easy here. You will die for a stupid idea.

No matter how much you train, you are not going to be the biggest, baddest operator out there. If you approach survival with an aggressive and combative attitude, you will not last long. There are some truly badass guys in the world. Because I have worked in the gun industry for three decades and also because I am a competitive shooter, I know a bunch of the elite military operators. Trust me when I say we civilians, even those of us who train hard, would not last long against any of them. These guys have the best training and lots of combat experience.

I once played informal paintball with a longtime Delta operator. (He is also a consultant for this book.) The set-up was two of us against him. We would head to the woods and see who “survived.” I figured we had this one covered. After all, I am a hard-core hunter, and while it’s bragging, I am pretty good at sneaking around in the woods and shooting stuff.

At one point my brother, Scott, and I had this guy pinned down behind a log right in front of us. There was no way he could escape. Yet, while we were arguing about which of us was going to draw his fire so the other one could take him out, he came up behind us and shot both of us in the back of the head.

I want to make two points about that.

First, forget any fantasies about fighting the battles of Armageddon. If you want to survive, learn to hide and evade. Stay below the radar and avoid fighting except as a last resort. But if you must fight, fight to win, fight like your life depends on it, because it will.

The second point? A paintball, shot point blank in the back of the head, hurts like hell.

Just saying.

There is a lot of other misinformation out there. Look at shotguns, for example: “You don’t even have to aim, just point it in the bad guy’s direction.”

“The sound of racking the slide on a pump shotgun will scare off the bad guys.”

“A shotgun is the perfect defensive gun for an inexperienced shooter.”

All flawed, which you will see in the chapter on shotguns. In fact, as I will explain, a shotgun is a rather poor choice for a primary defensive long gun, no matter what Joe Biden might have to say on the topic.

Another I see all the time is:

“The .22 Long Rifle (LR) is the perfect survival gun. The ammo is light and it’s easy to carry lots of it. It’s all about bullet placement anyway; just shoot them in the eye.”

There are a couple of flaws in this theory that are addressed in depth later. One is the shot placement argument. This one comes up all the time on the Internet; just Google anything about the 9mm versus .45 debate. You won’t have to scroll through the comments very far before somebody will say, “It’s all about shot placement.”

Well yes, of course it is. Where you hit them is important. If you were in a fight for your life, only a fool would try to shoot the bad guy in the ass when his chest is available as a target. We train hard to be good shots and we learn anatomy so we know where to aim. But anybody who makes that “shot placement” argument has no idea what shooting under stress in a fast-breaking situation is really like. It is one thing to shoot at a static target on a square range and quite another to shoot at something that is moving, while you are also moving, and with the knowledge that your life is on the line because they are shooting back. Often you are just trying the best you can to get hits anywhere. The man who says he can hit them in the eye every time is a braggart and a fool.


Is the .22 LR the perfect survival cartridge?

The point is, a big tough guy may shake off a marginal hit with a .22 LR when a .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, or even a .45 ACP might have a different effect. Nothing is guaranteed, but the odds always favor a larger, more powerful cartridge. The .22 Long Rifle is never that cartridge. It is very low power in comparison. A .308 Winchester has about 2,600 foot-pounds of energy, a .223 has 1,300 foot-pounds, and a .45 ACP has about 450 foot-pounds. By comparison, a 36-grain hollow-point .22 LR has only 127 foot-pounds of energy. There are a lot of other factors in a bullet’s ability to end a fight, but you get the idea here. Besides, none of those other factors enhance the .22 LR argument in any way.

The .22 LR is an important cartridge for preppers, but it’s far from the ideal all-around survival gun. Falling for that argument, and a lot of others, can get you into a lot of trouble.

I risk repeating myself here, but this is very important. If social collapse occurs, it will be up to you to take responsibility for your safety and the safety of your family. You cannot depend on the government, society, the police, or the rule of law or to help you. You are on your own.

If you have prepared and put away food and other supplies, there will be desperate people trying to take it all away from you. As the cities empty and the number of hungry people increases, you must understand that at some point it will not be just one or two lost souls, but likely dozens or perhaps more who show up to take what is yours and possibly kill you and your loved ones. If you try to defend your home with your deer rifle or your shotgun, you will probably fail. Failure means death for you and your family. If the attacking hordes do not kill you, starvation or exposure will. There are plenty of reasons why trying to defend your home against an angry mob with your hunting guns will not work, but the primary reason you shouldn’t use hunting guns for self-defense is simply that they do not hold enough ammo and are much too slow to reload. You will be overrun as soon as you run out of ammo and pause to reload.

That’s one big reason why you never see a solider or a cop with a hunting-style gun.

Don’t think that adding an aftermarket high-capacity magazine to your semiauto hunting gun is the answer. Hunting rifles are designed to fire a few shots at a time, not sustain a high volume of fire for a long time. They get hot and dirty and they seize up and stop running. The last thing you want (or likely will experience) is to have your gun go down in the middle of a fight.

A much better choice for defending home and family would be any of the guns that were originally designed as fighting rifles. This class of rifle was designed for battle, and most of them were originally designed with a full-auto option, so they can run sustained fire and continue to operate even when they are dirty and overheated.

Hunting guns are for hunting. While hunting and foraging are important to survival, and we will explore the guns used in other chapters, the primary focus of this book is surviving. The idea of living off the land is a bit of a fantasy for most people. Realistically, if society breaks down, a lot of really bad people will have the filters, governors, and restrictions lifted off their behavior, and the most difficult part of survival will be dealing with these people. It will be very hard to avoid these people, no matter where you live or where you may bug out to, they will be around sooner or later, and they will be your primary threat to survival.

Therefore Prepper Guns will deal mostly with guns for fighting. No matter what you may think or have been told, your .30–30 Winchester and double barrel shotgun are not the best choices to get you through to the end.