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

HANDGUNS

The “Other” Handguns

The misfits and leftovers are some of the more interesting handguns.

Each of the three primary gun sections, rifle, shotgun, and handgun, are subdivided into different chapters about the various types and styles of guns. But, when it’s all done, there always seems to be a few that just defy convention. They don’t really fit any category, yet they may be important guns for a prepper to consider. Here are a few of those rebels in the handgun category.

The .410 Handguns

A new kind of revolver.

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The S&W Governor (top) and the Taurus Judge represent a new type of defensive handgun.

The young lady hiker was lost in her thoughts as she sat in the summer sunshine and she didn’t notice me until I said hello. As is common with just about everybody I meet on this trail, her eyes immediately went to the handgun on my backpack’s hip belt.

“Are you armed?” she asked with a bit of fright in her voice.

“Of course, are you?” I replied.

She smiled and said, “You sound like my father.”

That started a conversation in which she asked fair and honest questions. I explained my reasons for carrying a handgun. First and probably most important was that this section of the Appalachian Trail is frequented by a lot of bad people and some areas not very far from where we stood are a hot bed of drug activity. I also pointed out that there have been several murders over the years along the trail. Then I told her about the rabid coyote that tried to attack me near this spot just a few days earlier.

“The bottom line,” I told her, “is that I carry this gun for problems I sincerely hope will never occur. I am betting you have insurance on your car and house right? Out here in the woods, you have only yourself to rely on and a gun is the insurance policy.”

“Now you really sound like my dad,” she laughed.

“Your dad is a smart man, you should listen to him.”

“I do,” she said with a smile.

That’s when I realized she never answered my question on if she was armed.

Smart girl.

I carry a gun every time I enter the woods. Not just when I am hiking on a trail that is the habitat of some of society’s scum, but also when I am scouting for new deer stands, shooting photography, fishing, or any other activity off the pavement. I would sooner leave my truck without pants than leave my gun behind.

Just a few days ago I was hiking on that same trail mentioned earlier when I almost stepped on a huge snake. In fact, my dog did step on it. That snake was so well camouflaged I didn’t see him and Clyde didn’t smell or see him, so he got nipped for his indiscretion. Luckily, we don’t have poisonous snakes in this area so I just flipped the thing off the trail with my walking stick and let him go on about his business. Clyde seemed pretty happy with that decision.

The last time I was that close to a big snake was in Texas. That one was a four-foot rattlesnake and he actually struck at me. I was moving an old plastic chair that was left in a turkey blind and by pure luck he hit the chair instead of me. I have a firm policy about rattlesnakes: I leave them alone if they leave me alone, but when they try to kill me, I kill them back. That one quickly lost his head.

That is just one of the many reasons I carry a handgun, you just never know what you will run into.

There is a type of handgun I sometimes carry that has brought a new approach to the concept of wilderness protection.

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The S&W Governor.

“The Judge” is a revolver made by Taurus and it started the trend. Later, Smith and Wesson added the “Governor,” and between the two there are a bunch of different models and designs to choose from. The guns are chambered for .45 Colt and/or .410 shotshells. In theory, they are designed to handle just about any conceivable wilderness or urban self-defense scenario.

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The Judge can take small game if the distance of the shot is short.

These revolvers not only defend you from trouble, but are also designed for use in a wilderness survival situation. This is important because danger in the wilderness isn’t always from attacks of four- or two-legged predators. Getting lost or stranded presents a unique set of problems, as does survival after TEOTWAWKI. One advantage is that this gun can feed as well as defend you.

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These .410 handguns can be very versatile.

The guns are five-shot, .45 Colt revolvers with an extra-long cylinder that will handle .410 shotshells. The versatility is that this handgun might have .45 Colt, .410 buckshot, .410 slugs, and .410 birdshot loads in it, all at the same time.

While not recommended for high-pressure handloads, the .45 Colt can be used to kill big game in a survival situation. The long jump for the bullet to contact the rifling due to the extended cylinder reduces the accuracy, but this is intended to be a short-range handgun anyway.

It’s also more oriented to using the .410 ammo and, for close-range problem solving, the .410 is a good choice. In fact, these handguns inspired most of the ammo companies to make self-defense loads just for the revolvers.

Buckshot loads can deliver as many as four, 000, 36-caliber, 70.5-grain pellets to the target with each pull of the trigger. The 3-inch loads have five pellets. If you pick #4 buckshot there are nine pellets. The Hornady Critical Defense load uses a 41-caliber Flex-Tip expanding slug and two 35-caliber buckshot pellets. Or of course, you can use a .410 slug.

Finally, the guns will shoot .410 shotshells, which is what I like best. The barrel is rifled, which is why it’s considered a .45 Colt handgun by the government and not a short-barrel shotgun, which would be against federal law. Spinning the shot column as it passes through the rifled barrel disperses the shot pattern rather quickly, but if the range is kept short this is a formidable gun capable of taking small game as well as protecting you from man-size predators. Large pellet sizes like #4 birdshot will work for many close-range defensive situations, but if you are hunting for the cook pot or for survival I have found that a high pellet count is the key with a .410 handgun. Shot size #7 ½ to #9 works best.

When The Judge first came out I was having an ongoing problem with red squirrels that take up residence in my shed each winter. Like vengeful ex-wives, they seemed determined to destroy everything I valued, so I declared war. When the smoke cleared, The Judge had ruled and eliminated the problem. Not one squirrel that was within range survived the wrath of The Judge and trust me, the body count was high. I have also used The Judge and The Governor pistols to shoot a wide range of small game and pests including gray squirrels, grouse, rabbits, raccoons, and even a few snakes. Pests can’t take a ruling from these guns.

For self-defense, survival or just to carry in the woods, The Judge has set a new precedent and this revolver gets a favorable decision. With the S&W Governor there is no reprieve for pests of any kind.

Both are handy guns to keep around if you are in a rural setting, but they will also work for self-defense, and with .45 Colt loads, the guns can deal with livestock that needs putting down or take a deer at close range. In addition to often carrying one when in the woods, I keep two of them loaded and stashed strategically at hand to deal with any pests that show up at my house or shop.

While not priority guns for preppers, these are two that you should consider. It’s much safer to use a .410 #9 shotshell to deal with pests and pestilence around your property. There is no danger of ricochet or over-penetration of whatever you are shooting. Shooting a snake or a rat with #9 shot is a lot safer for neighbors or family than using a centerfire handgun.

We live in a rural area, but do have neighbors. Recently Clyde was raising hell in the woods behind my shop. I grabbed a Judge we keep loaded with #9 birdshot for snakes and went to investigate. He was barking at a sick raccoon. We are unsure if he had distemper or rabies, but the Judge ended his misery without any danger to the neighbors.

Even inside the home, the self-protection ammo is not as prone to over-penetration through walls. That keeps anybody else in the house safer, as well as any neighbors. Any prepper might be glad to have one of these unique handguns in the toolbox.

Bond Arms

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The Bond Arms Derringer in .45 Colt/.410.

Bond Arms makes a line of derringer-style handguns. Some of the most popular guns are chambered for .45/.410, just like the revolvers. The difference with the Bond guns is that they are much smaller than the revolvers and are easier to carry in a pocket. Of course, you can also get a selection of holsters for the guns.

The Bond is a double-barrel, two-shot derringer-style handgun. The barrels are hinged on top and swing open to reload. There is a safety that blocks the hammer. They make the derringers in a wide range of cartridges, ranging from .22 Long Rifle through .44–40 or .45 Colt. They have interchangeable barrels so they can be switched out to meet your current needs. The most popular, and the one I have, is chambered for .45 Colt/.410. The 3-inch barrel can fire .45 Colt or 2 ½-inch .410 shotshells. That doesn’t leave much barrel left for rifling, which is a good thing in terms of birdshot or buckshot patterns. Of course, shooting the gun with .45 Colt ammo is not going to win any bull’s-eye matches for accuracy, but that’s not the intent of this gun. This is an “in-your-face” defensive handgun. Besides, like all derringers, it’s a bit awkward to shoot and has a tough trigger.

The gun is primarily designed for the .410 function rather than the centerfire handgun cartridge. If the centerfire handgun cartridge is the goal, it would be best to buy the gun, or at least a spare barrel, chambered for the cartridge of your choice, including .45 Colt. That will give you a shorter chamber and more rifling. But to my mind the .410 is the way to go with this gun. It’s going to be nasty for personal defense and it can handle close-range pest control with birdshot.

This is strictly a short-range handgun. It patterns #9 shot well enough to kill a snake or small game out to about seven yards or perhaps a little bit more. It is perfect for controlling pests around the compound and for a backup snake gun when you are out and about and don’t want to use your rifle or primary handgun.

It also handles the 2 ½ defensive .410 loads well. I found that I could keep most rounds centered on the target out to seven yards. This is a great hideout gun option, a backup to your backup when you will be using it up close and as a last resort.

They are well-made, high-quality firearms and the $440 price (2015) reflects that. But remember, your life may depend on this gun; do you really want to go cheap?

Kel-Tec PMR-30

The PMR-30 is without a doubt one of the most unique pistols on the market. I do not advocate any rimfire as a fighting cartridge, but I have shot a lot of game with a .22 Magnum, including a deer or two, and I am always amazed at the nasty holes it produces. There are some knowledgeable people in the defensive handgun world who think this is an interesting approach to a carry gun. I am not one of them, but I am not saying they are wrong either. Certainly the thirty-round magazine is a start. The gun is light, easy to shoot, and reliable.

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Kel-Tec PMR-30.

It’s also following the continuing theme here in this book that you should have as many guns in as many chamberings as possible so that you have something to fit whatever ammo you can find after TSHTF. The .22 Magnum is a pretty common cartridge and the odds of finding ammo are reasonably high.

This pistol is a lightweight 13.6 ounces, even though it’s full sized. It’s chambered for .22 Magnum. It operates with what Kel-Tec calls “a unique hybrid blowback/locked-breech system” that adjusts to pressure differences between different brands of ammo.

The double-stack magazine holds thirty cartridges and is a flush fit in the grip. The trigger on mine breaks at three pounds ten ounces. There is a manual thumb-activated, ambidextrous safety. The sights are fiber optic: green front, and red rear. The front sight is in a dovetail so you can adjust for windage. There is no elevation adjustment, which is one of the few complaints I have. Adjustable sights would be a huge improvement on this gun.

This gun has a lot of modern and innovative features. Several of these Kel-Tec guns have surprised me and this is one of them. I don’t think it is of a power level or construction to consider for your primary handgun for survival, but I do think this is a gun that could have a lot of usefulness for survival. It’s not horribly expensive and any prepper might do well to consider adding one to the collection.