A Combat Rifle and a Prepper Rifle are NOT the Same Gun – Page 3 – Readyman

My Cart


A Combat Rifle and a Prepper Rifle are NOT the Same Gun

Posted on March 24 2019

“If it’s good enough for the military, then it’s good enough for a prepper.”

This statement assumes that the U.S. military makes only smart buying decisions, which we all know isn’t true (ACU uniform or black beret anyone?) But, the biggest assumption might be that life as a prepper in the apocalypse will be like life as a soldier in war.

With over 28 years in Special Forces, working in remote locations, I’m here to tell you this isn’t remotely true, and the differences between prepping and war should drastically alter rifle selection for a prepper. (We’ll talk about pistol selection in a future blog.) A prepper rifle should be a survival tool, which is not necessarily a war tool. 

Five Ways a Prepper Rifle is Nothing Like a Combat Rifle

1. Assumption: Preppers will primarily need their long gun for attacks or missions.  

The Reality: a prepper will probably need to have their gun on them while living everyday life. Think of life on the frontier in the 16th century. Contrast that to a warfighter that typically typically relies on their gun only when in war zones, or when they go outside the wire, where a fight could occur. A prepper scenario contemplates a person gardening, building, cooking and playing with his kids, hopefully with his rifle within arms reach every minute of every day and night. A war fighter usually (not always) returns to a place of relative safety within a base or a safe house.Then he carries a well-maintained weapon into the field for short periods of intense potential enemy contact. Surviving in war is only one, small aspect of survival in TEOTWAWKI.

Recommendation: A prepper rifle must be compact and light and fill multiple rolls. Does every prepper know what their rifle weighs?  Will the rifle take game if the chance presents itself? Will the gun serve as a defensive weapon on a homestead or bug-in location? Will the prepper still have their gun with them when a random fight or game meat presents itself? The difference between an eight-pound rifle and a six-pound rifle would likely be the difference between having a gun and not having a gun on-hand when trouble showed up. It also could be the difference between putting small game on the table or not, because wild game never waits for a man to get his gun.

2. Assumption: Preppers will understand their rifles like war fighters know their rifles. 

The Reality: unless a prepper was in the military or law enforcement or has dollars to spend on lots of training, it is almost impossible to know your rifle as well as a war fighter knows his rifle. Particularly among SOF operators, a rifle (and all its idiosyncrasies) becomes a well-worn, everyday tool. After tens of thousands of rounds in every imaginable condition, the war fighter knows each nook and cranny of his weapon system. On the contrary, a prepper has to divide his attention between family, farm, garden, solar array, livestock, food storage…a thousand things that never distract a war fighter.

Recommendation: A prepper rifle should be simple, and a prepper should settle into two or three weapon systems, probably for life. Many systems are designed for the soldier or law enforcement officer and have been designed with high-performance or added safety features. The AR and Benelli Super 90 shotgun come to mind. These systems are complex, even when they don’t break. Simplicity is probably worth the loss of some performance.

3. Assumption: Preppers will be able to pick their fight like war fighters often pick their fight. 

The Reality: day or night, preppers will get a fight whenever or however the fight finds them. Preppers probably will not have any concrete barriers or HESCO walls to protect them. Most won’t have twenty-four hour security forces with belt-fed machine guns. War fighters can also customize their rifles to the patrol or fight they’re seeking. The biggest place this comes into play is night fighting. In my extensive experience with ReadyMen, very preppers are equipped to find targets and effectively aim their rifles at night. Even fewer practice shooting and running their weapon system at night. And, if civil disorder in the past is any indication, most trouble comes at night.

Recommendation: A prepper rifle should provide the greatest chance of hitting a target day or night.  That may require an electronic sight or, at best, a laser or IR laser (with NVGs.)  Or it might require a shotgun with a larger shot pattern that increases the chance of hitting a target in the dark.

4. Assumption: Preppers will fight and win battles. 

The Reality: getting out of fights ("breaking contact" in military speak) should be the norm. Avoiding fights at all cost will significantly increase the chances of survival. In a world where tiny cuts can turn into deadly infections, prolonged fights are nonsensical. Preppers should either kill or intimidate an enemy into running away, or run away themselves. “Winning” a battle is an unlikely prepper scenario (but is commonly the objective for war fighters.)

Recommendation: Consider different rifles for different situations. The 5.56 round may be great in some prepper circumstances but certainly not all of them. Take into consideration distance, available game animals, options of resupply, reload-ability, and probable self-defense scenarios.

5. Assumption: Preppers will have enough ammunition to defend themselves like a war fighter.   

The Reality: There will probably be limited ammunition and almost no ammunition for training others. War fighters essentially have limitless resupply. The 5.56 round, in particular, is well-designed for suppression of enemy forces—where one soldier fires a high volume at the enemy while another soldier maneuvers. This application of firepower is usually beyond prepper scenarios because of limited supply, training and coordination. This one reality vaporizes one of the main reasons the Army likes the AR round. The 5.56 allows a shooter to carry more rounds, but one of the biggest reasons for carrying more rounds is to suppress and maneuver. During the Kennedy administration, a formula was used to determine how many bullets were being spent to kill “X” number of enemy. The more bullets a solider could carry the more enemy he could kill. This math does not pencil out in a post-apocalyptic, prepper scenario where “body count” does nothing to reduce the ambient threat.

Recommendation: Don’t count on fighting in a team. Count on fighting like an Old West settler, with limited ammunition for homestead defense. Rarely, if ever, will preppers train to fight like U.S. Marines, so don’t imagine that their service rifle will suit you as well as it does a Marine. Even if you were a serviceman, you won't likely be able to count on the rest of your survival community to fight like trained soldiers. Less than 7% of the population are veterans and 45% of them are aging—from the Vietnam era and beyond. The youngest Vietnam veterans are now in their sixties.

This conversation invariably leads to the question: “If not the AR, then what?” There are many good options, including some models of the AR, but those options will depend on the nature of your homestead and your bug out plan.

Are you bugging in near a big city? A shotgun might be a vastly better option than a rifle.

Are you fleeing to a farm with broad fields of fire? A scoped .308 bolt action rifle might serve better than an AR.

Do you have a liberal gun budget—a virtual “blank check” from the spousal unit? You might consider the 7.62 X 51 Robinson XCRM, The SCAR Heavy or the M14.

Do you live in California? Consider a Springfield M1A for bugging out. Your horrible gun laws might save you from buying an underpowered calibre, especially considering the open ground common to California.

In a future blog, we’ll drill down specifically on alternatives to the AR and the 5.56 round.

For now, don’t ever forget that the selection process utilized by the Army DID NOT consider the needs of citizen survivalists--not in the slightest. So, when you pick your next rifle, don’t think like a solider. Think like a survivor.

ReadyMen Closed Group
Learn more cool things at ReadyMan.com 


  • XaunLoc: March 28, 2019

    I have to offer a counter thought against David’s advocacy of a rifle-sidearm pair sharing a common caliber.

    Simply put, in the real world that means using a Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) as your long gun. A pistol caliber carbine makes good sense — as the fourth or fifth gun in your arsenal, but rarely as a primary long gun.

    The simple fact is that pistol cartridges are designed for pistols. The amount and type of powder are selected for a reasonable chamber pressure and a usable velocity from a short barrel combined with what is always a comparatively weakly locked mechanism. (The very few pistols that even come close to the lock strength of rifles all have size and weight the makes them poor choices as a sidearm.)

    For most shooters a Pistol Caliber Carbine approximately doubles the shooter’s effective range compared to that same round in a pistol. Doubling your effective range sounds great until you think about what that means in actual numbers. For most preppers, that PCC is going to let you shoot out to about 50 yards! If you are a good shot, and pick a good PCC using the right pistol caliber, you and do better than just doubling your pistol range, you MIGHT even be effective out to as much as 100 yards with your PCC (although those pistol rounds are likely to be running out of steam at that distance even if you can hold over enough to still hit a torso size target).

    The other alternative might be to try to find a rifle caliber sidearm. There ARE a number of such firearms available. Basically they fall into two categories: [a] pistols based on a cut-down rifle design (but not an actual cut-down rifle) such as the various AR & AK pistols or the Mares Leg lever action “pistols”; or [b] single or two shot derringer designs like the Heizer. Neither approach is really suitable as a sidearm which is inherently an emergency self-defense weapon meant to be ALWAYS available without interfering with other activities.

    Bottom line, a long gun and a sidearm serve different purposes and need to have different characteristics. If you accept the size and weight of a long gun but hobble it with a pistol caliber round, what you have is really a very big, very heavy pistol that won’t do either job well.

  • XaunLoc: March 28, 2019

    This author previously published an unabashed diatribe against the entire M16 /M4/AR15 family of rifles, but the only way to make his case (such as it is) required compressing over 50 years of development so as to blame all versions of this family for any of the faults of any of them while simultaneously blaming the rifle for having progressed throughout that time.

    This article is much better in that it does present (mostly) rational arguments why preppers should consider rifles that might be better suited to their circumstances rather than blindly adopting the AR simply because it looks a lot like a military rifle.

    On the other hand, this iteration of the I-Hate-The-M16 Saga is filled with conflicting advice. First we are told that a prepper should pick something simple because he will never have the time or willingness to actually learn how to work his weapon, then a couple paragraphs later we are told that a prepper needs several different rifles (and/or a shotgun) for different circumstances. Each of those conflicting pieces of advice has some validity, but the article never makes any effort to resolve the conflicting advice or to point out that these ARE conflicting considerations which should drive a prepper to look for a rational compromise based on a realistic evaluation of his (or her) circumstances.

    The AR probably will NOT be the BEST rifle for any specific set of circumstances — but size, weight, and (especially) ammo availability MAY well make it the best COMPROMISE for many preppers.

  • Jesse Whalen: March 28, 2019

    Thanks for the great advice! And thank you for reenforcing my decision to spend the extra to buy my M1A Socom. LOVE THAT RIFLE!

  • Treyh007: March 27, 2019

    Very good read, thank you! 👍🏻👍🏻

  • David March: March 26, 2019

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. I started “prepping” decades back, after living thru hurricanes in the south east, Tornadoes in Ohio and Virginia, Blizzards in Virginia and Chicago, and quakes and forest fires in California. I recommend learning to garden before you have to. For First Aid training, Red Cross has some courses in Wilderness Emergency Response. Again, get the training soon as possible.

    One concept that appeals to me is the notion of having a long gun and sidearm that both can use the same round. I mind a shop in California that offered discounts on paired Winchester lever-action rifle with a Colt revolver shooting .45 Long Colt, or a Henry and a Ruger firing .44. Now with several good pistol-caliber carbines available you could pair weapons in .22LR, .22wmr, Hornady .17, 9mm Luger, .380acp, 45acp. Think I saw a pistol chambered for 380 Blackout. If you go to a gunsmith, I expect you could get a pair of weapons chambered in whatever round you want.

    For folks who are at or past retirement age, caliber /weight is a serious consideration. 22Lr won’t bring down an 8-point buck, but could you butcher that buck and drag the meat back five miles to your camp? Besides, a sub-sonic .22 is not going to alert folks for miles around the way a .30-06 or .223 report will.

  • Cache Valley Prepper: March 26, 2019

    Several very good points and plenty of food for thought. Thank you. Articles on topics such as this are difficult to write because the writer must make some assumptions.

    I’ll add a couple of points:
    - Unless you own a working crystal ball, keep plans and equipment multi-use and versatile because you’ll probably have to adapt it in order to survive future threats that you can’t accurately predict. Many survivalists used to say to buy an AR chambered in 5.56 NATO because we couldn’t possibly run out of it in the US. Then we did, and it wasn’t because of the apocalypse, just a little low-order market volatility and prices still haven’t fully recovered. I didn’t have to buy ammo because I have plenty socked away but 7.62×39 and 7.62×54R were still available during the ammo shortage.

    It’s also very tough to say what someone you don’t know will do in a future you can’t predict, so I’d change the format from “a prepper will” and “a prepper should.” It encourages the reader to think, "Who will? Me? Then some of them disagree, take it personally, etc..

    -Another reason to change the format is that people are just so diverse, preppers included. Something like 75-80% of preppers are what I’d consider to be newbies to survivalism, but a lot of them scampered off when Hillary lost the election. Maybe they thought she was the main threat we face … not sure … but some of us have been at this long enough that we don’t match the writer’s vision of “a prepper” and arrived at many of the same conclusions both independently and long ago.

    -To be effective, a survival consultant must diagnose before he prescribes, but writers don’t always have that luxury. Advice given in articles will seldom be right on for all readers and must be taken in context.

    I don’t comment often, but when I do, I often leave long comments, so I’m happy to notice that I can yield to Jerry D. Young’s greatness this time. ; ) Good to see you on here Jerry.

    Thanks again and keep up the excellent work.

  • Jake: March 26, 2019

    I find it weird that a firearm that is the most popular in this country than any other at any time is now “not the best choice”?! The AR is plentiful, mags are plentiful, ammo is plentiful, parts are plentiful, and it’s all inexpensive. It’s easy to use, easy to train with, easy to learn how to maintain and repair, easy to replace, lightweight, adjustable to a wide range of shooter sizes, doesn’t produce an excessive amount of recoil, easy to suppress, accurate, modular, and more than likely (at this point) someone else is gonna have compatible mags and ammo. So what, you’re gonna trade all those positives to have something maybe no one is gonna be able to feed or fix? I get augmenting your arsenal with a little bit of diversity, but if I get into a fight, I want something that meets all those criteria. Before anyone starts saying stuff about lethality, yes it’s not the most lethal, but I’d rather have 30 rounds of moderately lethal than 5 rounds of deadly considering you may have to make ALL FIVE of those rounds count under duress. I’m sorry but the AR is the best multitool in the firearm community. You can swap calibers in a few seconds, and add a .22 conversion kit to have on hand for small game, varmints, and maximum suppression and it really is an unbeatable platform. Sorry, not sorry.

  • John: March 26, 2019

    Even “better” than the M1A for current and near future gun law silliness might be the M1 Garand. No “magazine” to attract political attention.

  • Jerry D Young: March 25, 2019

    It is very nice to see someone else differentiate between warfighter and prepper. The differences in their needs, what they have available to them in their respective situations, the differences in training, the differences in responsibilities, and all the other things mentioned and not mentioned.

    While there are numerous rifle expressly made for combat, many of them (not all), can have a place in a prepper’s battery of arms. Specific ones might even be the primary weapons. But this is not always the case.

    Some of the biggest differences between warfighters and preppers is the availability of support with heavier weapons, the depth of the supply chain, the availability of special weapons, the ability to call in reinforcements or rescue.

    A prepper is not at all likely to have any of these. That means that the prepper weapon of choice has to be capable of taking care of as many possibilities as possible.

    An AR in 5.56 simply cannot do that. It can do most. But that implied ‘but not all’ is a key element in the decision making process. A prepper needs to have a weapon that, while it still might not do it all as well as another weapon can do some things,it can do all the things absolutely necessary well enough or better.

    Here are some of my thoughts on a prepper weapons battery:

    My thoughts on a weapons battery and why:

    1) Main Battle Rifle (MBR) – .308 in a Beretta BM-59/69 clone. Next choice is a folding stock PTR-91. .308 because it will do just about everything the M-16/M-4, AK-47/74, and SKS platforms in 5.56, 7.62×39, 5.45×39 will, just not quite as well for a couple of things, plus it can do things those platforms and cartridges cannot. Can also hunt most North American big game, and small game with .32 ACP adapters. Beretta BM-59/69 because of the tri-compensator and bipod, and the general reliability of the Garand action. PTR-91 because it is somewhat cheaper than the competitors and the magazines (right now, anyway) are only $2 – $6 for good used alloy ones. Next choice is M1A, but it is more expensive all the way around. Minimum of 3 load outs of magazines, dependent on your LBE.

    Many will say you do not need an MBR round in urban areas because of ranges. I disagree. There are long open stretches along streets, and if the attackers have long range weapons and you do not, you are pretty much out of luck and can be harassed until the attackers get close enough to take you out. Plus the penetration is much better with .308 for those that think they are under cover when it is only concealment to the .308.

    Why no light combat rifle? (M-16/M-4 types, AK-47/74 types, and SKS platforms in 7.62×39, 6.8, 6.5, 5.56, 5.45×39) They tend to be lighter than MBRs, but only somewhat for some of them. Others are quite a bit lighter, as is the ammunition.

    One can carry more ammunition, yes. But it is not as effective as .308 by a long shot. Does not have the range, when needed, of the .308. And though one can carry more ammunition with the lighter calibers, it boils down to how many targets can you successfully engage with that ammunition load? Where it often takes 2, 3, 4, or more rounds of 5.56 to successfully engage and put down an attacker due to cover, body armor, deflection of the round, and several other reasons, 1 or 2, occasionally 3 rounds of .308 is likely to take down that same adversary.

    210 rounds standard load, divided by 3 is 70 targets engaged. 180 rounds (my standard load of .308 for the PTR-91) divided by 2 is 90 targets engaged. Now, there are a tremendous number of variables when it comes to targets engaged. But in aimed, controlled fire, I think the .308 has the lead. In spray and pray, or heavy suppressive fire, the 5.56 et al probably do.

    2) Primary self defense handgun – .45 ACP in a Para-Ordnance P-14. .45 ACP because it will get the job done quiet effectively with reliable FMJ rounds with moderate recoil in a practical size. Readily available ammunition. Para-Ordnance P-14 for magazine capacity in .45 ACP and all metal construction. Next choice is Glock 21SF due to magazine capacity and lower cost. 12 magazines.

    3) Dual purpose shotgun – 12 gauge in Remington 11-87 26” barrel w/Poly-choke and various tactical accessories. 12 gauge because of readily available ammunition, it is most effective in most situations including hunting. 11-87 because it is semi-auto which helps reduce recoil, can use many different loads due to the gas system (26” barrels up only. Short barrels do not have the gas compensation system), and is faster on follow-up aimed shots than pumps for most people. Next choice is the same gun w/o the tactical additions.

    4) Sniping/hunting gun – Remington 700 .30-’06 with Bushnell Elite 4200 2.5-10 × 40mm. .30-’06 will take all but the largest most dangerous game at long range. Adequate sniping weapon at ranges up to ~600 yards. Availability of ammunition. Can use .32 ACP and/or .30 Carbine for small game very quietly with chamber adapter. Why .30-’06 instead of .308? Because it gives two calibers, both of which are acceptable hunting and defense calibers. Ammunition for hunting would be purchased for either weapon, so you would have the same number of rounds in either case.

    5) Hideout handgun – .32 ACP in Beretta Tomcat. .32 ACP because it is useable in .30 caliber rifles as a small game load with the use of chamber adapters. Minimum power for self-defense in semi-auto pistols. Tomcat because of its small size, quality, and price.

    6) Secondary self-defense handgun – .45 ACP in Para-Ordnance P-10. Slightly smaller package that will take the larger P-14 magazines as well. Next Choice is a Glock 30 for its lower cost and ability to take the Glock 21SF magazines.

    7) Dangerous/large game/light anti-materiel rifle – .375 H&H Magnum in Remington 700 bolt action. .375 H&H magnum for availability, and proven record on big, dangerous game. Moderately effective anti-material round. Better dual purpose round than smaller rounds and the bigger magnums because of recoil, availability, and cost. Remington 700 because of price and the fact that it is repeater, which is important in big/dangerous game and anti-material use.

    8) Hand-out gun(s) – Auto Ordnance M-1 Carbine clone in .30 Carbine .30 Carbine because it is small and light, works in a small frame box magazine semi-auto gun, has ballistics at 200 yards slightly better than .357 Magnum at the muzzle. M-1 Carbine because it is light, handy, easy to handle, and more accurate in unskilled hands than a full power handgun or rifle. Also, not too expensive for the carbines, magazines, and ammunition. Primarily 15-round magazines as 30-round magazines can be more problematic.

    9) Personal Defense Weapon (PDR) – PDR for primarily non-combatants. Same as the hand-out gun for all the same reasons. Small enough and light enough to keep slung when doing many tasks, unlike full power weapons. Pistols are ‘handier’ in that they are smaller and lighter, but inexperienced shooters seem to handle a light carbine more effectively than a pistol. Again, primarily 15-round magazines, besides the reliability factor, are much more compact to carry and use in a PDW.

    10) Get-home-bag/trunk gun – Again the M-1 Carbine in .30 Carbine, this time with a folding stock. For most of the same reasons above. There are guns that compact as much or more than a folding stock .30 Carbine, but most have a much larger profile and the gun and ammunition are heavier and bulkier. Some that seem ideal I do not trust to be reliable. (Not a BOB or GOOD or INCH bag – they call for an MBR in my opinion). 15-round magazines.

    11) Long Ranger sniper/anti-material rifle – Vigilance VR-1 .408 Cheytac because of its effectiveness at long ranges for both anti-personnel and anti-materiel sniping. VR-1 because it is light for the caliber (18#), semi-auto. .408 Cheytac due to its effectiveness compared to the .50 BMG and .416 Barrett, and the fact that it is available in lighter and easier to handle weapons. Very expensive.

    Why no .22 LR or other rimfires – Simply because they cannot be reloaded. When you are out of ammunition, you are out of ammunition. They are so common that finding one post-disaster should not be much of a problem. Same with the ammunition early on, and then, when it is all gone, they are not useable. For hunting, using a .32 ACP chamber adapter in a .308 or .30-’06 bolt action rifle provides for near silent small game hunting. The .30 M-1 Carbines can do pretty much a .22 rim fire rifle or carbine will do and the rounds are reloadable.

    12) Black powder cartridge arms – .45-70 in Marlin 1895, .45 Colt in Ruger New Model Blackhawk Convertible, .32-20 in Ruger Blackhawk & Marlin 1894 rifle. .45-70 because it is the most plentiful of the big bore black powder cartridges and is powerful enough for any American big game at short ranges. Marlin because of quality. .45 Colt because it is the most common powerful black powder hand gun cartridge easily available. Ruger for the same reason as the Marlin. .32-20 because it is a better small game cartridge than the .45-70 or .45 Colt, and available in Ruger and Marlin firearms.

    13) Blackpowder muzzle loaders – .58 caliber flintlock rifle, .58 caliber flintlock handgun (x3), .32 flintlock rifle, 12 gauge flintlock shotgun. Flintlock because black powder, including ffff for priming, can be made, and bullets cast from scrap lead. .58 caliber rifle and pistol for bullet interchangeability. Any good quality brand for availability, quality, and cost. .32 for small game, 12 gauge for maximum power for uses requiring shot loads.

    While rifled arms firing ball or mini-balls, or other solid projectiles, tend to have the most accuracy, I believe there is a place for flintlock smoothbore weapons other than shotguns, too. Pistols as well as long guns. I will probably go with 20-gauge for all of them.

    Long guns, probably around 32” straight barrel, and 24” blunderbuss style. Pistols in 4”, 6”, and 10” straight and blunderbuss styles.

    14) 14. Archery weapons – When quiet is needed and there are no suppressors for the firearms, archery weapons come into their own. While the high tech ones have some of the same disadvantages of firearms, such as available ammunition (arrows, points, nocks, shafts, and fletching) more primitive designs can be home made and can be effective enough to hunt with and even for defense in some cases.

    Bear Carnage Compound Bow using Easton ST Axis Full Metal Jacket Dangerous Game arrows with MUZZY 4 blade broad heads 145gr regular compound bow or a Barnett Predator AVI compound Crossbow using Easton XX75 bolts with MUZZY 4 blade broadhead 145gr for a compound cross bow.

    15) Expedient weapons/defenses – Here creativity becomes the watch word. Most things can be used as a weapon, many that are innocuous enough to not get you in trouble if you carry them. A good hiking staff or walking stick, to a roll of dimes in a fist, to keys held through the fingers, and on and on and on. Any search on the internet for expedient weapons will find all kinds of examples. One particular one that I like is not an offensive weapon. It is pretty much defensive. That is a small, lightly weighted throw net. It can be carried in a pocket ready to deploy, or even in the hand, and with a flick of the arm and wrist, (after lots of practice) it can entangle an aggressor enough, for long enough, to do harm to them if required, or two get away.

    16) Sharps: My sharps selection and why:
    I do not consider any given sharps item as a do-it-all tool. Some can be multipurpose, but none can do everything well, and often not even passably. So I use and often carry a variety of different tools that have some type of sharpened edge, or in my terminology, Sharps, for different situations.

    My Sharps System:
    Gentleman’s SAK: There are many variations of the small SAK available. The one that I carry daily has a simple blade, small scissors, small screwdriver, and fingernail file. But it also has an LED and an ink pen. It has come in handy several times for those features. Part of my pocket EDC.

    Leatherman Micra multi-tool: The Micra is more heavy duty, and has more features than the SAK. I have used it numerous times for a variety of tasks. Part of my pocket EDC.

    Leatherman Crater C33 pocket knife: The Crater is a compact liner lock knife that works well for normal, everyday activities. Part of my pocket EDC.

    P-51 can opener: This is for emergencies, so I can easily open canned foods that I might find. It is also usable for a few other things, like slicing sheet plastic. Part of my pocket EDC.

    Res-Q-Me seatbelt cutter/window breaker: I want this on me so I can break an automobile window in a heat or flood emergency. Part of my pocket EDC.

    Redi-edge knife sharpener: Knives are both safer and more effective when kept sharp, thus the pocket sharpener. Part of my pocket EDC.

    Folding credit card knife: This is a credit card size unit with a metal blade inside. The plastic of the card folds around and creates a handle for the blade. This is a last ditch tool for survival in case I lose all my other gear. Part of my pocket EDC.

    Leatherman Surge multi-tool w/bits: This is one of the larger multi-tools, and is a bit heavy. But it is highly capable, with a wide variety of effective tools, with the four main blades deployable without opening the handles. Useful in both urban and wilderness areas. It is part of my field EDC, in a belt pouch. (A good smaller alternative, w/o the bit option, is the Leatherman Rebar.)

    Victorinox Work Champ SAK: A highly capable tool for field use and for emergencies. Wood saw, can opener, bottle opener, whistle, and the other normal set of a medium size SAK. It too goes on my belt as part of the field EDC. (There are several good alternatives at any given time as models come and go. Main thing is having a good large blade and a wood saw, with a metal file/saw a very good addition.)

    Spyderco C08 Harpy: This is a wicked, smallish folding hawk bill knife with serrated blade. It is an effective defensive knife. It is also my emergency cord, rope, net, seaweed, vine, and other entangling items cutter to free myself if I wind up caught in such a situation.

    CRKT Woods Chogan Tomahawk/Cold Steel Rifleman’s Tomahawk: Another multipurpose tool. Useful for defense, clearing brush, building shelters, cutting wood, splitting wood, used for butchering larger game, breaking rocks, driving stakes, and other impact uses since it has a hammer head. Carried on my belt at times, or on the LBE or on the game cart when in the field.

    Sven 21” folding saw: The saw really comes into its own when building shelters and gathering and processing firewood. Much more effective and efficient than an axe or tomahawk/hatchet, the saw collapses into a compact tube.

    Cold Steel E-tool: This is a solid wooden handle small shovel. Some might not consider it a sharps, but even if the edges are not made razor sharp, it is still effective for far more than just digging cat holes and defensive positions. When an axe or tomahawk or machete is not available it will do to clear brush and even cut small saplings. Not to mention it is a highly effective defensive weapon. Can also be used as a fry pan or griddle over the fire, if careful. Carried on the pack or game cart when in the field.

    Cold Steel 24” Latin machete: Longer than the majority of machetes, the Latin style works well for handling many field tasks. It is not a tree feller, or firewood splitter, but it effective in clearing brush and smaller saplings. And is a wicked short sword. (The Cold Steel 24” Cutlass machete is another good one.)

    Cold Steel Medium Voyager clip point folder: This is an alternative EDC pocket carry knife when in the field. It is bigger than I like for dress clothing, but does well in the field. Sometimes I carry it in my pocket, other times in a belt sheath. A general use knife for field and kitchen duty. It is also the knife in my medium sized stainless steel tin survival kit.

    Ontario Knife Company OKC-3S bayonet: A sharps with the same blade style of the Randall R-1. It is the current Marine issue bayonet/fighting knife/utility knife. And for the same reasons the R-1 was so successful.

    A clip point that makes penetration easy, enough belly for slicing and skinning game, large enough to use to do light chopping. A short serrated section on the base of the blade provides a means to cut cordage.

    When used as a bayonet on my PTR-91 or Remington 11-87 when I had them, I had very intimidating tools for controlling situations that do not call for shooting. This is the core of my ‘survival’ sharps. It is the last item I would give up, since it fills the major needs of many disaster and survival situations. Usually on my thigh or LBE when in the field.

    An alternative is the Cold Steel Oda: The Oda is very similar to the original Randall R-1 fighting/utility knife developed in WW II and purchased privately and carried by many GIs, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen. The Oda is suitable for both defense and utility work. With clip point it can penetrate effectively, and do small tasks. Enough belly for slicing and dicing and skinning game. Carried on either my belt or on LBE when in the field.

    Dura-worx mini planting tool: Essentially a small pick mattock, this tool is highly effective in digging cat holes, defensive positions, drainage trenches, and other digging uses in hard and clay ground where a shovel just will not do by itself. More awkward than a tomahawk, it is still an effective defensive weapon. On the game cart. (There are now some similar tools available from various sources.)

    Iltis Oxhead double bit felling axe: This double bit axe has many advantages over single bit axes. It is a felling axe, so one edge is sharped to do the felling, with the other edge set up to do the limbing. Much better than a tomahawk or hatchet for heavier work and for lighter work done for longer periods of time. On the game cart.

    Pocket chainsaw: Another useful tool. Smaller and lighter than an axe, but much more effective than the saws on the SAKs and multi-tools. More compact and easier to carry than the Sven, it will fit in medium size emergency/survival kits. It provides a huge advantage in survival situation to construct shelters and gather firewood. In a couple of different medium size survival kits.

    Skatchet: This is a field tool/survival tool. It is a small hatchet head, with a coarse threaded eye into which one can thread a handle made from a branch or broomstick. A bit heavy for a backpack survival kit, it can easily be carried in a car kit, or on a game cart to replace a tomahawk or hatchet.

    Wyoming knife: This specialized field butchering tool makes dressing game in the field, especially medium to large game, much easier, less fatiguing, more efficient, safer, and less likely to puncture internal organs of the game when slitting the animal open, and skinning it. I keep one in my hunting pack, with a spare blade.

    Benchmade Model 5 Rescue hook/gutting hook: This tool is more for rescue work, slicing seat belts or other entanglements than it is for gutting game. But it will work for both. I do not carry mine often, but I do add it to the gear when going on longer field trips.

    Pick-of-Life Ice Escape Picks: These are a set of handles with short spikes, connected with a lanyard. Carried on the outside of winter clothing when one is going to be around water, they are one of the few ways to get out of the water after going through the ice. The picks allow a person to get traction on the ice to pull through the ice, or get back on top of it.

    As part of my tools and hardware kit, I keep (or intend to get) a Leatherman Crunch multi-tool, Leatherman Supertool 300 multi-tool, Victorinox Swiss Champ SAK, and a glass cutter. Between these multi-tools and SAK, in addition to the Surge and Survivor, I can work on most of my gear, and create things in the field and around town when I need to.

    Other parts of the sharps system are other knife sharpeners in addition to the Redi-Edge pocket sharpener. These include a couple more variations of the Redi-edge, a bastard cut mill file, Lansky Blademedic sharpener, Eze-Lap paddle diamond sharpener set, and a Lansky table sharpener kit.

    There are several alternative sharps and other sharps I would like to add. They are more for fairly specific situations, and would not be used in everyday activities.

    Tek-tite Tekna Ocean Edge arm knife: For diving and for unobtrusive carry under a long sleeve shirt in the PAW.

    Cold Steel Counter Tac II boot knife: Another option for unobtrusive carry. Pretty much a PAW option.

    And when it comes to hollow handle survival knives I am partial to these three: Tek-tite Tekna Wilderness Edge, United Cutlery UC212 Bushmaster, and the Schrade SCHF1 Survival Knife.

    The Wilderness Edge has removable scales, rather than a hollow handle, making it very strong.

    The SCHF1 is a clone of the Reeves knife machined from a solid bar of stock. The handle is hollow, but there is no joint in the knife.

    The Bushmaster is a copy of the Brewer survival knife. Now, while it does have a pinned tang, if one looks closely, it is obvious that the tang goes much deeper up into the handle than on other hollow handle knives. Definitely not as strong as a the Wilderness Edge or the SCHF1, as long as one does not pry with the knife it should be fine, and does have quite a few features the others to not. I hope to get both the Wilderness Edge and the Bushmaster to build survival kits around.

    A Mediterranean Bowie knife: Another special purpose sharps tool. I would like to have one for use in the PAW, in deep wilderness situations where carrying several of the larger sharps tools would not be doable. The Randall R-12 Raymond Thorpe 13" bowie knife is very similar. A 13" to 15" Mediterranean Bowie knife would fill the medium blade role.

    The Cold Steel 1860 Heavy Cavalry saber for both mounted and dismounted use. For those situations in the PAW when a firearm is not available or when something less immediately lethal than a firearm is needed, when one is not facing firearms. It can also be a tool of intimidation in many situations, as well as a deadly weapon when needed. It will take training to become proficient.

    And for medium and large game hunting without firearms or snares/traps, I would like to have a set of spears. A good thrusting spear, such as the Cold Steel Boar Spear would be part of my gear. The thrusting spear is never thrown.

    However, I believe that more than melee sharps should be carried. I believe ranged sharps are necessary, both for hunting as well as defense. For that role I really like a version or take off of the Spartan’s javelin. Around 50" long, with tapered, small leaf, or dagger point. Three to five would be carried. They would be recovered if at all possible, but should be inexpensive enough to be considered somewhat disposable.

    I am also looking for a modern version of a Retiarius gladiator’s trident, as well as a weighted entangling net. Historically, they were one of the most effective gladiators in competitions, racking up an enviable number of wins over most of the other types of gladiators.

    I would like to have a custom copy of a Batangas knife, as described in several of John Benteen’s Fargo stories. It was a special version of a butterfly knife, with several inches of exposed blade, around 5" – 7", carried in a sheath. When drawn it could be used as is, or flipped open to expose another 5"+ of blade, creating an effective long bladed knife.

    I have not found anyone that can make one for me, in my price range. And I would really like to have true Damascus steel for the blade (clip point), and KVT bearings in black walnut inlaid brass pivot handles.

    With a modern buckler and a modern notched corner tapered long shield available, and some specific body armor items, a person could take on ranged sharps weapons, melee sharps weapons, and even, to a degree, some black powder weapons.

    And for groups, larger shields that are advanced with several people behind each, some moving the shield and some firing ranged weapons from behind them (or stepping aside and firing), could provide both defense and some offensive use, again against attackers without modern firearms, and limited black powder arms.

    With some modern materials and techniques incorporated, some of the weapons and defensive items could be effective even against some modern weapons, if used correctly.

    Even 40 years into a very bad PAW there would still be significant amounts of smokeless powder cartridges, and black powder would already be in production for use with our now current black powder weapons, even if only flintlock type actions.

    If a person conserves, and preserves, their collection of modern firearms and stock of ammunition to use when truly needed, as when defending or attacking those that are also using modern firearms, and uses the other many options available, then I believe a group can survive and prosper for decades after a major event.

    And that does not even considered some of the ancient siege weapons that can be created with modern technology, incorporating advanced features for defense.

    The list of my preferred firearms did not include information on magazines for those weapons that use them, nor on ammunition reserves. My thoughts on these subjects:

    Magazines: For me, there is no real number, except a minimum. I want as man as I can possibly obtain. But the minimum number amounts to whatever the LBE that will be used with a magazine fed weapon holds as a standard load-out. I use an FMCO vest, which will carry eight 20-round .308 magazines, two each in four pouches that are part of the vest. My primary handgun is carried on the attached battle belt, along with either one or two double pouches for the handgun magazines. So, either two or four additional ready magazines.

    In addition, I carry that same number of loaded spare magazines either in my field pack worn with the vest, or at hand on the game cart. I will often have a third set on the game cart, and many more stored in reserve. I also carry ammunition in stripper clips for those weapon/magazine combinations that can use them, and boxed rounds for those that cannot as my additional ammunition stocks carried with me on the game cart and in vehicles.

    At the moment I do not have any drum magazines for any weapons that provide quite a few more ready rounds than the standard box magazines most weapons with a detachable magazine use. However, given the opportunity, I will add several quality drums for those weapons for which they are available.

    Ammunition stocks listed are minimums. Much more would be stockpiled, in several locations, as time and money permit.

    1) A thousand rounds per gun is a good start. Per caliber, it could be way low. I would do the requirement calculation based on each rifle, not each caliber.

    2) Hideout/pocket pistols (under 9mm) – 500 ready round each w/1,000 in reserve for each, 25 rounds per month for training

    3) Defensive handguns (9mmP and above) – 1,000 ready rounds each w/2,500 in reserve for each, 50 rounds per month for training

    4) Defensive shotguns (12 gauge or 20 gauge) – 1,000 ready rounds each w/2,500 in reserve for each, 100 rounds per month for training (25% slugs, 75% 00 buck)

    5) Defensive carbines (.223/6.5/6.8/.30 Carbine/x39 class) – 2,000 ready rounds each w/5,000 in reserve for each, 200 rounds per month for training

    6) Main battle rifles (.308/.30-’06 class) – 2,500 ready rounds each w/10,000 in reserve for each, 250 rounds per month for training

    7) Sniper rifles (.338 Lapua and below) – 1,000 ready rounds each w/3,000 in reserve for each, 100 rounds per month for training

    8) Sniper/Anti-material rifles (above .338 Lapua) – 1,500 ready rounds each w/5,000 in reserve for each, 100 rounds per month for training

    9) Hunting rifles (medium to large calibers) – 500 ready rounds each w/1,000 in reserve for each, 10 rounds per month for training (example in .30-’06: 10% 55gr Accelerator PSP, 10% 125gr PSP, 25% 150gr PSP, 25% 165gr PSP, 15% 180gr PSP, 15% 220gr SP)

    10) Hunting rifles (small calibers) – 1,000 ready rounds each w/2,500 in reserve for each, 15 rounds per month for training

    11) Hunting shotguns (all types) 1,000 ready rounds each w/2,500 in reserve for each, 25 rounds per month for training (5% slugs, 5% 00 buck, 10% #4 buck, 10% BB shot, 20% #4 shot, 30% #6 shot, 20% #7 1/2 shot)

    12) Enough powder, primers, bullets, and wads & shot to reload each case approximately 8 times, including black powder cartridge firearms

    13) Black powder would be stocked in Fg, FFg, FFFg, FFFFg, and cannon grades, with the ability to make a great deal more, in small batches, using white willow charcoal made from local white willow trees, and with stocks (large ones) of high grade sulfur and potassium nitrate (KNO3), using ball mills with lead balls. A large stock of quality flints would be laid in, as well, along with knapping tools.

    14) While .22 rimfire is not a big for me, I would still stock it (and do), in quantity. .22 Rim fire – 10,000 ready rounds each w/25,000 in reserve for each, 500 rounds per month for training, 100,000 for barter & trade

    I just want to point out that the above list contains items I use, or would like to have, but I do not carry all of them all of the time (or ever, actually), but choose what to have on/with me depending on the situations I may be facing at any given point in time.

    I certainly do not NEED everything that I do often carry/have with me, but when I can, I do have them. When it comes right down to it, with the OKC-3S, the CRKT Chogan, and the Surge multi-tool, I could make it okay for most things. And if I could only take one into the field, it would be the OKC-3S.

    Just my opinion.

  • Perrie : March 25, 2019

    I like my Mini-14 with a Sig Romeo 5 set up for a can. The only drawback is mags and that’s on me.

  • Kris: March 25, 2019

    This article brings up some very valid and well thought out points from a professional warfighter and I tend to agree with many of them, so no disrespect intended for this opposing viewpoint. Having said all that, if I had to bug out and carry only one rifle I would still lean towards the battle rifle due to it’s multi role capability. There will be a high percentage of probability that when you get into an engagement, you will be engaging others carrying a battle rifle system… with those things being equal, it then comes down to better training and tactics (and hopefully mine will be better).

    Whatever system you choose, it needs to be able to fulfill many roles for a SHTF scenario and in my humble opinion the AR platform fits that bill. If you don’t Gucci out your AR it can be a very light, comfortable, and effective weapon that you can also hunt with (although I would prefer not to hunt with 5.56 unless it was a survival situation). This also goes back to something I have said here before, flexibility with calibers, availability of ammo, availability of spare parts, and the propensity to find this weapon system on the “battlefield” of a SHTF situation… for North American, nothing compares to the AR platform, not even close. I know it is fun to stand out of the crowd and poop on this platform, but look at the facts objectively.

    You don’t always get to pick the battle or the battlefield so why not pick a weapon system that is more supportive of this type of engagement but still allow you to carry out day-to-day activities? If you get into a self-defense situation against multiple opponents or even a single well armed opponent, do you want to use a lever action rifle with 6-10 rounds loaded in a tube or an AR platform with 30 rounds in a magazine that allows you to quickly re-load with another mag? Set yourself up for success BEFORE the gunfight. Again, back to flexibility, you can have an upper set up for OPS with all the wiz-bang goodies and an upper set up for day-to-day hunting/gathering/scouting that is much lighter but still able to keep you in the fight.

    For my plan, (if bug-in plan fails) I hope to be able to bug out with more than one weapon for which some of them will be suppressed so I can hunt or operate with a lower noise/muzzle flash footprint. I have quite a few uppers set up for my AR from rifle to pistol calibers, so I have at least two (more if possible) pre-identified to bug out with along with spare parts, tools, ammo, and cleaning kits.

    Ultimately if it is about survival and you have the ability to plan ahead, bring the gun everyone else is going to bring so that you have the ability to repair, feed, and maintain your weapon system for a long duration in the field. Just my 2 cents… respectfully.

  • Norb: March 25, 2019

    As far as I am concerned, you purchase a rifle based on the terrain and environment in which your primary point of occupation will be. You also need to be seasonally wise. Like what your target will be during the season.

    For protection the consideration is specific to the environment, for hunting it is specific to the season.

    If you “Bug Out” do so with knowledge of where you intend to bug out to… and the pitfalls of the travel to get to it.

    Therefore I agree with the Writer on most of his points. consider subjective and objective purposes for your survival choice.


  • Vic: March 25, 2019

    “Bug Out”

    Where the heck are you going to go that’s better than where you are? "That you know better than where you are?

    Maybe it is time to get there now? (always exceptions to everything of course).

    The decendents of the .223 wavering dove tailed round in the Mattel toy are sufficient to take any game INCONUS and adequate as a defensive round..

    Get a few of them they are cheap. spare parts, tools to fix, knowledge of how.. 10,000 rounds to start.

    Old AKs..SKS same is true maybe even more so..

    Make your call.

    “‘Better’ is the enemy of ‘Good Enough’”

    If you have to fight/run .. if you lose.. won’t matter.. If you survive.. you may get more usable stuff.

    There are just too many variables … lay up your stores.. find a place .. find some balance.

    Live your life best as you can..


  • Mark: March 25, 2019

    I enjoyed your article. I chose a long time ago to go with 5 types of ammunition 9mm, 556/223, 308, 12ga.,and .22lr. I have other calibers but these are my primary that I stock deep. I chose the AR platform for several reasons. 1. I carried them in various configurations for 25 years as a Marine 2. Modularity 3. Availability of ammo and parts. When I lived in California I had a few of the mini 14’s as well and still do. The 556/223 in various weights can and has taken deer sized game in Texas. I think the AR 15 style rifle is a near perfect multi role rifle. Ultimately which firearm to chose is a preference based on needs and people should sit down and write out their needs do the research and choose wisely.

  • Jayson: March 25, 2019

    Good article. Never will there be agreement on the issues in this article. However, valid points to consider are presented and each is left to their own belief as to what is best for them. Good, stimulating information and point of view.

  • Bret Britton: March 25, 2019

    As a Veteran, of “The Old School”, one of the biggest challenges I see almost daily is these “wannabe” “experts” sounding off about how “perfect” an AR platform weapon system is. I enjoyed your spot on blog today (especially where you mention the great viability of the M1/M1A.)
    Now, if we can just get these youngen’s to listen up and actually hear what we are saying……

  • Tug: March 25, 2019

    My primary bug out gun is a lever action in 45-70.
    Big enough to take any game and very intimidating when used in defense mode. The Army used it for many years till they went to the smaller 30-40 Craig

  • MARK TOIGO: March 25, 2019

    Thanks for this article. but… how about us old Vietnam aged folks with limited mobility and eyesight.. I’ve got some of everything you suggest. At times I love my AR. Sometimes my Savage 10 in .308. I never love my Mossberg 500 but am a steady hand. I can reload all my cartridge guns and am well supplied with projectiles powder and primers. I have enough land where I can practice short and long range shooting. My long range skills are beginning to fail me, even with a 6*24*50 Leatherwood on my .308. A Vortex Strikefire 2 is on my AR. And yes, my wife has her 9mm and her Ruger 10/22. We are not bugging out. Anything else we should have for TEOTWAWKI??

  • Mark Andrew Edwards: March 25, 2019

    I kinda hate to be ‘that guy’ but…you spend time writing this, I should take it seriously.

    The conclusion does not match the premises or set up above.

    “A prepper rifle must be compact and light and fill multiple rolls (sic)”
    —A shotgun is neither, nor is the M1A, nor is the SCAR-H or the other 7.62×51 options listed except maybe the bolt action. However a bolt action rifle is inferior to a semi-auto unless you are Jeff Cooper.
    —An AR IS or can be compact and light, particularly lightweight builds and AR pistols.

    “The AR and Benelli Super 90 shotgun… are complex, even when they don’t break.”
    —I’m very happy with my Super 90, it’s the one shotgun I’d keep. That aside, the AR is complex but easier to maintain and with vastly greater parts availability. It also is more than adequately durable, as I’m sure you know.

    " Consider different rifles for different situations. The 5.56 round may be great in some prepper circumstances but certainly not all of them."

    —This directly contradicts the ’prepper should own and know two or three systems. And, back to weight again, the 5.56 weighs less than any other rifle option. It works at short ranges and moderately long ranges better than any pistol caliber.

    —This also applies to the ‘not enough ammo’ argument. If you stockpile ONE caliber, fine. If you start to add weapon systems, you are multiplying (or dividing perhaps) your ammo supply issues.

    You make interesting arguments but your conclusions don’t match the ‘not an AR’ suggestion.

  • nathan: March 25, 2019

    Hopefully this post doesn’t elicit off-topic replies with extra swear sauce and a hot cup of indignant sand-in-the-crotch distraction.

    It seems as though you have mostly answered and described what we should be thinking about, it is too bad the precursor to this article seemed to bounce off some pretty rigid beliefs.

    a reasonable compromise to some of those guys might be the ar-10 or variants?

Leave a comment