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  • Considerations on survival weapons and calibers

    This is probably going to end up being a rather long post, but it is something I've always wanted to put pen to paper (keyboard to screen?) and talk about.

    I always like to say I'm no expert, because I'm not, and nothing I say or write should be considered as such.

    Preface

    When considering guns, there are three main considerations in my view. Hunting, Defense, and Offense. Hunting is pretty obvious, and the considerations are too. I would offer that your hunting rifle could double as your defense rifle if you cannot afford or do not wish to purchase separate rifles for this. Defense rifles take many more variables into account. Caliber selection in important, so is barrel length, recoil, portability, etc. Offensive weapons would carry considerations from both defense and hunting. One of your questions might be, why would I need an offensive weapon? Imagine if your wife or daughter were kidnapped, and the kidnappers demand 50 gallons of fuel, which you don't have, for their release. You'll get offensive, quickly, I promise. ;)

    Hunting Weapon Considerations

    Obviously, if you are on this forum, you've come to the realization that you'll probably have to kill something to eat it at some point in your life. Once you get past that, the question becomes more of "how can I do it efficiently and effectively?".

    Caliber In my opinion, caliber selection is important, but not as important as optics, and rifle type. The main things you'll want to consider regarding caliber is the type of animal you'll be hunting. We don't have buffalo or hippos here in Alabama, so I won't be needing a 45-70. I can do just fine with a .223, 270, or 30-30. Thanks to Omegaman for pointing out that rifle cartridge availability is something you should take into consideration. If you can't buy but one box of your super special 764343.3 caliber hand crafted rifle and it costs $500 for 3 rounds, you might consider a more mainstream and readily available caliber.

    If you plan to hunt rabbits, you might consider a shotgun, maybe even a single shot. If you plan to hunt mainly birds, you could do fine with a semi-auto shotty with bird-shot. If you plan to hunt multiple prey, you can usually purchase guns that do this. Some shot guns shoot either slugs or shot, and some rounds can kill rabbits, squirrels, and deer. My son has a rossi that can change barrels and shoot a .22 or a 410 shot shell. There isn't much he can't kill with it.

    Optics If you intend on hunting larger game, you'll need optics. As a general rule, the larger the animal, the further you will be away from it when you shoot it. This could be because they are very sensitive or attentive, or becuase they can be dangerous.

    Keep in mind, that having glass on a gun, let alone a survival gun, is risky. You won't be able to run up to wal-mart and buy a replacement scope, so this is where your money needs to be spent. Buy a good, sturdy, quaility optic that serves your need. Also, invest in end-caps, that attach to the scope, or have inherent retention because you'll eventually leave them in the field.

    Regarding magification, you don't need nearly as much as you think you do. If you are hunting deer, your average shot will be less than 100 yards, and you can easily shoot 4x with that. I suggest you take the miniminum magification possible, because that means less weight, less glass, and more simplicity.

    Materals No, you don't need an antique, chromed, oak side-by-side for survival hunting. When you life depends on it, and you are laying the rain for 20 hours waiting for a deer, you'll appreciate synthetic stocks, with blued actions, and subdued barrels. Wood absorbs water, reflective metal gives your position away and shows rust more, and fancy moving parts gum up with dirt and grime. Keep it simple with a sythetic stock, blued metal, and simple action.

    Action I would suggest a bolt action for large game, semi auto shotgun for quail or other birds, and a single shot shotgun or repeating rifle for small game like rabbits and squirrels.

    Tonight or Tomorrow I will post the 'defensive considerations'. Sorry, I have to break it up into multiple posts, I don't have time to do it all at once.

    -Brad
    Last edited by bcauz3y; 04-15-2011, 04:59 PM.
    not an expert

  • #2
    Defense Rifles

    It is pretty reasonable to imagine that you may be put into a situation that requires you to defend your bug in/out location. Having the right gear, ammo, guns, etc, can go a long way in making sure you aren't overrun. Now, this post does not cover tactics, because, hell, we all know that would take about 40,000 words by itself. Instead, I'd like to share my thoughts on weapon, caliber, and gear choices.

    You must choose which defense style you are going to use before selecting a loadout.

    Weapon There are two major forms of maneuvers that you can classify into 'defensive tactics'. (danggit, theres that word again!)

    The first, stationary barricade style, has it's own value, and therefore its own weapon considerations. Because you will be primarily stationary, you have the luxury of selecting a heavier weapon system. Usually, you will get the added bonus of larger capacity and caliber as your weight tolerance goes up. This is why I suggest piston operated, magazine fed rifles for this purpose. Why a piston you ask? Well, you are likely going to be shooting prone, possibly in wet, dirty conditions. Piston guns hold up better in these conditions, and require cleaning less often, which keeps them in the fight longer. When selecting a gun style, remember that you'll want to be able to lay sustained firepower down that can serve as harrasing fire, cover fire, or can penetrate barriers (such as cars and trucks). The AK-47 design is very well suited for this because of the available drum style magazines, and low cost for large quantities of ammunition. Don't limit yourself, though, the AR-10 platform is solid and proven, and so are the barrett rifles, and FN-FAL type rifles.

    The second, on the move style defense has value, but requires more resources. Think, 'on patrol' and 'mobile force' when you think of 'on the move' style defenses. I'm making these terms up as I go, so bear with me. Rifles employed by defensive personnel who implement this type of defense will be light weight, shoot smaller calibers, and are also magazine fed. A major consideration here as I mentioned is weight. If you plan to do patrols, you'll be in this gear for hours on end, and carrying dozens if not hundres of rounds. Your rifle design needs to allow for fast magazine changes, and simple/rapid problem resolution (think simple design, like an AK or AR). Now, in this case, your gear selection is going to make a huge difference. Do you load out with a chest rig? Plate carrier? Or just a belt?

    Gear The gear is going to be driven by two variables, money and training. Depending on how much each you have of each, you should be able to drive your gear choices.

    My gear, as an example:





    I've selected a simple, light weight AR, plate carrier (titanium alloy plates), and not much else aside from a BUG and some reloads.
    This allows me to stay mobile, if required. FWIW, this is my offensive load out.

    If you are going to hunker down, and lay fire on the approaching group, your gear selection will likely assume you are behind a barricade, and armor may not be necessary. Larger quantities of ammunition will be needed, as well as multiple larger capacity magazines. (again, the AK drum or AR drums are a good fit here)

    Caliber A good rule of thumb on this is to shrink your caliber and increase your capacity based on the distance from your home. If you plan to patrol only a 75 meter tract around your home, you could probably get away with carrying an AR-10 (308) and a few reloads.

    If you plan to barricade yourself in, your caliber choice is limited to your funds. We'd all love to have a ma'duece or a semi-auto .50 cal for our pill box.

    If you are going to walk miles upon miles every day, you might be better served with a 5.7 or .223 caliber rifle because the rounds are lighter and you can carry more of them.

    Also, one last thought. Yes, a gun can serve well in both defensive maneuver types. Just remember the basic requirements for each.

    Offensive weapon selection will be the next post.
    not an expert

    Comment


    • #3
      You covered a really good point on caliber related to geographic location. Up here in New England 45/70 Govt. is not a bad choice and a lot of old timers use it. You don’t want a caliber that the ammo is hard to come by in you’re A.O. or an odd ball caliber. As an example I will use 45/70 (which I love), in our store we have maybe 20 boxes from two manufactures of 45/70. Now I look on the selves for 30-06 and there are at least 20 manufactures on the shelf with each maker having 3-6 choices of style and grain weight and there are huge amounts in back stock.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Omegaman View Post
        You covered a really good point on caliber related to geographic location. Up here in New England 45/70 Govt. is not a bad choice and a lot of old timers use it. You don’t want a caliber that the ammo is hard to come by in you’re A.O. or an odd ball caliber. As an example I will use 45/70 (which I love), in our store we have maybe 20 boxes from two manufactures of 45/70. Now I look on the selves for 30-06 and there are at least 20 manufactures on the shelf with each maker having 3-6 choices of style and grain weight and there are huge amounts in back stock.
        Actually I left that out!! Availability is HUGE!! Thanks for pointing that out!

        I'm going to add that in.
        not an expert

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by bcauz3y View Post
          ....this is my offensive load out.
          .... the hat .... it doesn't match with the rest of your gear.

          O.W.
          Things are seldom what they seem.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Oscar Wilde View Post
            .... the hat .... it doesn't match with the rest of your gear.

            O.W.
            I always like to have a few coronas when I head out armed to the teeth.:cool:

            (dunno if you can tell, its a corona hat)
            not an expert

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bcauz3y View Post
              I always like to have a few coronas when I head out armed to the teeth.:cool:

              (dunno if you can tell, its a corona hat)
              .... now where'd I put my glasses?

              O.W.
              Things are seldom what they seem.

              Comment


              • #8
                Go into your local Wal-Mart's (the local one that still sells guns) sporting goods section. Look at the calibers that they sell (both guns and ammo). You will always find .30-06, .223, .270, and .30-30 represented in their gun rack. They are also well-represented in the ammo section, along with .308, 7.62x39mm, and 7mm Magnum.

                Those are all good calibers to choose for a rifle.

                The big surplus bargain these days is 7.62x54mm, although 8mm Mauser, 7.62x39mm, 5.56mm NATO, 5.45mm Russian, and to a lesser extent 7.62mm NATO still seem pretty well represented.

                Among those calibers, there are several excellent rifles that you can choose from based upon your individual requirements.
                -- http://ticomsurvivalblog.blogspot.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  .308, 5.56, 9mm, 22lr.

                  NATO rounds....think about what will be avaliable on the black market at a later date....just my $0.02
                  Live like you'll die tomorrow, learn like you'll live forever.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How about thinking in an alternate direction? Consider firearm and caliber combinations that can reliably feed cast bullets and/or be easily converted back to black powder...

                    Black market... Availability, if any, would be based upon what the occuping power uses...
                    -- http://ticomsurvivalblog.blogspot.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Awesome suggestions!! Keep em' coming!
                      not an expert

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thomas Icom (Ticom) View Post
                        How about thinking in an alternate direction? Consider firearm and caliber combinations that can reliably feed cast bullets and/or be easily converted back to black powder...

                        Black market... Availability, if any, would be based upon what the occuping power uses...
                        I' not to worried about ammo supply....but IMO....the common GI NATO rounds will be out there for sale for a while...

                        Most folks think that I'm joking about my groups set up for reloading....If we ever HAVE to reload.....Then I think we'll be OK....













                        We have many Lee single stage presses....2 RCBS single stage presses....a Hornaday Lock and Load progressive....a Dillion 550 progressive.....a RCBS automaster 50cal....and a Corbin mega mite.

                        We have dies for.....well....about 15 long gun cals and 10 handgun cals.

                        We have the swaging dies to make our own jackets for 50cal from 1/2" copper water pipe....and to turn 22lr brass into 223 jackets

                        We can cast many hand gun bullets.....50 BMGs.....and are currently working on more rifle rounds....mainly 308....and 338.....if there is time....416

                        We are currently working to transform a lot of our raw lead....into ingots....we plan on doing the same with our wheel weights.

                        We have many recipes for different hardness's.....but have bought a press gauge and a...I don't know the name of it....but you pour a slug and put it into it....the crank down on it.....then read the gauge.

                        We have a little over a ton of lead now.....and I was told to stop looking....

                        We have...at last count....41 buckets of brass.....about 12 was sorted.....that is a mind numbing task....it came from many different sources....

                        primers and powders......not an issue

                        So....yeah....you could say we plan to reload....

                        The black powder rifles we have a few in our inventory....but only a couple pistols....I don't foresee that being an issue.
                        Live like you'll die tomorrow, learn like you'll live forever.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Dang!

                          Well done!!!!
                          The 12ga.... It's not just for rabbits anymore.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Offensive Rifle Considerations

                            To be honest, this section will be brief because many of the same considerations have been covered under defensive rifles. There, however, a few extra things I'd like to cover that didn't get as much emphasis under the defensive considerations.

                            First, mobility is going to be key. Second, firepower, or quantity and quality of ammunition is also very important. Finally, flexibility will allow you to adapt your weapon system to the mission at hand.

                            Mobility - When moving in on a position, you will likely be moving either silently or swiftly, and in either case, the weight of your weapon will have an impact. The lighter the weapon, the longer you can carry it, the longer you can remain without fatigue in a firefight, and the more easily you will be able remain flexible in your positions. (You don't see SAW gunners in trees) It is easy to throw the AR platform into this discussion as the end-all be-all, but there are other weapons which fit the bill quite nicely. I suggest you go out and handle each weapon system you are considering.

                            As a secondary consideration of mobility, I'd like to discuss slings. Too often, slings aren't given the proper consideration when configuring a battle rifle. I suggest you perform drills with each sling configuration you are considering. Many of them 'look cool' in SWAT videos, but are largely impractical to the type of operation you'd be caught up with in the real world. Slings can offer a number of large benefits, but there are two that I consider critical. "let 'em hang". The ability to retain your rifle while regaining the use of both of your hands. Ideally, this hanging position would also allow you to quickly bring the rifle to arms and return fire, or at least get sights on target. The second is stability. In many cases, it is not possible to safely prone out to take a ~200 yard shot, and stable cover won't allow to you brace yourself in a kneeling or standing position. When properly utilized, a sling can add a fourth point of contact between the rifle and your body, stabilizing your rifle for longer distance shots.

                            Firepower
                            - While maintaining a light rifle is, in my opinion, very critical, the ability to lay powerful rounds in high quantity downrange is nothing to sneeze at.

                            Lets face it, what counts in battle comes down to hits that put the enemy out of the fight. You won't be doing that with your ruger 10/22. You need firepower. As mentioned, firepower is broken down into two sections. Quantity and Quality.

                            Quantity is simple. How many rounds can you carry (IE, light/small cartridges) and how many can you put down range quickly (IE, rate of fire). Now, we've all heard of spray and pray, and we all know that isn't effective. If you can shoot 300 rounds per minute, and it isn't controllable, then you don't have much. You need to consider magazine capacity. 30 rounds is the accepted standard, but 20s and even 10s can be useful if you are experiened with your weapon system. Whatever you settle on, make sure you can carry a lot of it, and move it quickly to your enemies position when the time comes.

                            Quality is not so simple. We could argue for days about which cartridge is the ideal battle cartridge. The 5.56/.223 (not the same, FWIW), the 7.62x39, the .308, etc, etc. These have all proven to be effective, and I suggest you stick with one of these cartridges for a number of reasons. (think cost, availability, etc)

                            Shoot whatever works for you, but make sure you aren't running some obscure, untested cartridge. Also, make sure whatever ammo you decide to stockpile will shoot in your reliably.

                            Flexibility - I don't put as much emphasis on this as others do, but it is worth mentioning. Can your weapon system be configured to change with the mission. IE, can you put night vision on it? Can you put a scope on it? Can install a light? What about a foregrip, or bipod?

                            These things may seem trivial at first, but some of them can make a big difference when you are fighting at night, in the bushes, or at varying distances.

                            Just make sure that whatever you choose for your rifle to do, it can do so to the fullest capacity required. Don't be wishing you'd have thought of 'x' before the SHTF, because then it's too late.


                            Feel free to add on!

                            -Brad
                            not an expert

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Take a look at the MechTech website. Irecently found one of their older 1911 conversion uppers at a show for about 1/3 what they sell for on the site. Taking the receiver off the 1911 slide and converting to carbine takes about 30 seconds and it is pretty accurate and very, very light. It's a blast to shoot and the .45 definitly has stopping power. Granted after maybe 100 yds the accuracy goes to crap, but it is definitly something to consider.
                              He who lives with the most toys, wins.

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