Few would argue the importance of firearms in an overall prepping plan. Firearms can provide you with food as well as protecting you and your family. The reality is, in a total societal collapse situation, firearms can make the difference between success and failure.
Unfortunately, if you are just getting started with prepping, you’ll quickly realize guns are expensive. There can be a substantial outlay of cash to putting together a decent arsenal. The good news is, it is very doable to gather together a basic set of firearms that will serve your needs and cost less than $600.00 total.
There are essentially four different categories of firearms you should consider for the survival armory.
The .22 rifle is often the first firearm purchased and that’s as it should be. The Ruger 10/22 is one of the best available in this category and if you shop around you should be able to find one under $200.00. The .22 rifle will keep your cook pot filled with small game and could be used for home defense in a pinch. Ammo is also readily available on the cheap, with boxes of 50 usually selling for under a couple bucks. Being that inexpensive, you can stock up a considerable amount of ammo, as well as having plenty on hand for target shooting.
There are few sounds more pucker-inducing than that of a shell being racked into a shotgun, right? For this reason alone, they are ideal for home defense. There are a wide range of loads available too, from bird shot to deer slugs. Stick with the 12 gauge shotguns if at all possible. They are the most common and thus the ammo is more easily found. Keep your eyes open and you can probably find a decent used 12 gauge for a couple hundred bucks or so. The Remington 870 is probably the premier model for preppers, but they are kind of pricey.
The third firearm on the list is your long-range / big game rifle. The Mosin Nagant 7.62 is often recommended for preppers due to the inexpensive cost. I regularly see them on sale for under a hundred bucks at sporting goods stores. They are reliable, dependable, and the ammo isn’t overly expensive. They are accurate to well over 1,000 yards. Spend some time getting acquainted with it once you’ve purchased it and it will serve you well.
All three of the above can be had for around $600 total, with some budget left over for ammo.
The final category is usually the budget buster — the handgun. While very important for home defense, I feel it is wise to get the other three categories taken care of first. Doing it that way you’ll get more bang for your buck, no pun intended!
Handguns are not cheap. Even used, you can easily spend several hundred dollars on something decent. Stick with the common calibers if possible, such as 9mm, .40, .45, or .357. Revolvers are usually the better choice for novice shooters as there is less that can go wrong with them. They don’t jam and have fewer moving parts. The trade off is you’ll be able to carry fewer rounds in the weapon. Where a semi-auto might have a 9+ round capacity, the revolver will only carry 6.
Be sure to also invest in the cleaning supplies needed for each firearm and if you’re unsure how to do so, have someone teach you how to strip and clean each weapon. Proper maintenance is critical to reliable use of a firearm.
Also, if you plan to carry a firearm in your daily life, be sure to obtain any necessary permits to do so legally. It makes very little sense to risk having your firearm confiscated during a simple traffic stop. Murphy’s Law dictates that if that were to happen, that will be the day you finally have NEED of that weapon.
Jim Cobb writes as The Frugal Prepper in every issue of Survivalist Magazine. His primary website is SurvivalWeekly.com and he also blogs daily for Survival-Gear.com. His new book, Prepper’s Home Defense, is available for pre-order and will be out in October, 2012, from Ulysses Press.