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As Captain John Raguso’s AR-10 review indicated, TTAG hearts the big ass Armalite rifle. If I was in an honest-to-God firefight, I’d be quite comfortable shouldering an AR10. Well, as comfortable as a person can be with bullets flying hither and yon. But choosing the AR-10 as Your One Survival Gun is madness. There’s a lot of bad craziness in Daniel T. McElrath American Rifleman blog post . . .

And since you’d be abandoning the city for safety and to locate food-supermarkets will have been among the first things looted-a rifle wouldn’t be only a combat tool. You’d probably have to hunt, too, and the 7.62 is a better caliber [than 5.56] for deer, antelope, elk, etc. You could find yourself anywhere from the mountains to the plains, from forests to deserts, targeting everything from opossums to armored vehicles, so you’d need a versatile round. Given those criteria, the 7.62 would be the way to go.

Uh, no . . . As the commentators underneath the post point out, the AR-10 is one heavy mo’ fo’. As is the ammunition. And even if you could carry the whole kit and kaboodle, restocking 7.62 ammo in a post-apocalyptic world (on the move?) would be highly problematic.

Hunting? McElrath needs to lower his sights (so to speak). Paul: “I challenge the writer of the article to try to make a meal out of a rabbit, squirrel, or bird after getting hit with with a bullet from an AR10.”

Also, to quote the oft-mischaracterized Martin Albright, given the probability of martial law in any potential SHTF situation, concealability could well be your go-to gun’s most important attribute. In which case a handgun with plenty of capacity in the most popular flavor would be ideal. Then again you may need to hunt or take out some bad people from a distance. So . . .

While the commentators’ arguments for a Ruger 10-22 are compelling (rugged gun, reasonable range, accurate enough, lots of light ammo), I reckon the Kel-Tec Sub-2000—also reviewed by Captain John but in 9mm—is the way to go. 9mm is the most powerful, easy-to-find caliber. The Kel-Tec Sub-2000 is a 9mm rifle that folds! That you can hand to a newbie to shoot! From the website:

The SUB-2000 has a greatly enhanced accuracy and extended range compared to a handgun. The superior precision is also very useful against small or partially covered targets at shorter range. The amount of training to master the SUB-2000 is only a fraction of that required for a handgun.

Case closed, amigos.

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  1. Isn’t it a small world? I just picked up an as-new used Sub-2000 in 9mm Glock today for this very reason. Add a few 31 round magazines and an ammo can full of cheap, easy to find 9mm ammo and you’re pretty well fixed for quite a while.

    Of course, I also plan to have my Buckmark Camper on my hip with at least a coffee can full of .22lr for the little yummy creatures, but you keep your Armalite. I’ll be happy with what I have, thanks.

  2. The 7.62×51 mm is one of the most common rounds on the planet. I think it would be available. Maybe you couldn’t pick it up all over the place “on the run,” but a lot of people preparing for the worst are saving up a reasonable amount of food. No more common caliber has the reach and power – why would you ever engage targets that you couldn’t easily dominate while trying to survive?

    I agree with some of your points, though. If I were to pick one and only one gun, it would not be a heavy rifle.

    • It’s not what ammo you can find in the future SHTF senario (no one would trade away their ammo , theres nothing more valuable) , it’s what you can carry from day one. Think of ammo as a NON-RENEWABLE resource and make your choice from the aspect of weight-to-number of rounds ratio. How much can you carry? Remember we are talking weight of rifle and all ammo cans and mags and your car WILL shortly be out of gas FOREVER!!

  3. It depends on if you are going to have to fight hordes of bad guys “Mad Max” style, or just need to put food on the table. If I am fighting hordes alone or as part of a small team, I want caliber that starts with a 3 (or a bore diameter that starts with 7, if you want to get metric). OTOH, if I am just putting food on the table I think 5.56 should suffice, especially if it is an exceptionally accurate platform.

    • I definitely agree but the point is not that the rifle should do one or the other of those tasks exceptionally well but meet both of them adequately. Any “ONE-GUN” solution will involve plenty of compromise.

  4. Am I bugging out to escape (with my loved ones) rampant violence and the complete breakdown of the rule of law? If my corner of the world has truly become a Hobbesian jungle, I would want maximum firepower at my disposal while I flee with my family. I’ve already got maximum firepower, with my AK-74 and a pile of 30-round magazines. I doubt this will ever happen in my corner of the world, but if I’m wrong I’ve still got the AK.

    Am I bugging out to temporarily evacuate a natural or man-made disaster which causes a temporary shortage of basic necessities of life? If so, I’ll want inconspicuous protection from criminals while we relocate to an unaffected area. In this scenario, a full gas tank is more useful than an AR-10.

    Am I bugging out because civilization has collapsed and I’m reduced to a hunter-gatherer existence? I would hope that I’ve stocked up on pellets for my 1000 fps air rifle. A handful of pellets can quietly harvest a brace of pigeons, seagulls or nonmigratory waterfowl (aim for the head) and feed a family for days. Big game doesn’t thrive in suburbia, and a. 308 won’t leave you much edible meat from a duck.

    Am I bugging our to the family farm in Montana to grow vegetables and hunt the surrounding forests? Bring on the AR-10!

    Guns And Ammo was right after all, if you define ‘bugging out’ thusly.

  5. I live in Arizona. If there is a SHTF scenario wandering around the 110 degrees desert with a fucking heavy rifle is probably the worst thing one could do.

    I think a high capacity and compact 9mm pistol is the best option for a SHTF scenario.

  6. FYI, The Sub-2000 comes in both 9mm and .40S&W. Each gun is configured to accept a single type of pistol mag. From the Kel-tec site:
    The 9mm SUB-2000 can be configured in the following magazine types: GLK17, GLK19, S&W59, BERETTA92, SIG226.
    The .40 SUB-2000 can be configured in the following magazine types: GLK22, GLK23, BERETTA96, S&W4006, SIG226.
    So you not only shoot the same ammo you carry in your handgun, you use the same mags as well.

    • I own a bunch of these and the sub2000 is about as reliable and durable as NOTHING. The feed ramp cracks, the plastic hardens and fails and the gun is built for about 6000 round, tops. Not exactly the end of the world as we know it weapon!

  7. I disagree, the AR-10 is a great rifle and I would have one in my bug out supplies. I agree that this would not be the best firearm to have if it is the only one. I don’t get your point that the .308 / 7.62X51mm is scarce. It is one of the most popular rounds in the US, I can’t think of a more ubiquitous rifle round other than the anemic .223 / 5.56mm. I also disagree about the 9mm, I would rather have a .45 any day of the week and the .45 is just as common as the 9mm, if not more so. I think anyone would be wise to have a heavy rifle like the AR-10, a good handgun in .45ACP, a .22 handgun and rifle and a good 12 or 20 gauge shotgun as a minimum. Chris mentioned a good air rifle, which is also great idea.

  8. Me?
    If I wanted bunny for breakfast, I’d use a snare rather than waste a bullet.

    I’d leave the AR10 & take a Para FAL with the 17″ barrel & a DNTC brake.
    Short enough to hang on a sling under the coat & quick to deploy.
    As for a 9mm ANYTHING: fargeddaboutit.
    No way do I want to be limited to the kind of range allowed by THAT round in a “social engagement”. I want the ability to keep unwanted visitors out beyond 300yds to make any necessary disengagement on MY terms & I’ll gladly pay the weight penalty encountered in doing so.

  9. 9mm pistol small enough t carry concelaled at all times. and a 9mm camp carbine- small redily avalilable ammo, power of a 357 pistol when fired from a rifle.
    2nd choice 22lr pistol with and a 30/30 lever action rifle , same reasons.

  10. I’ll take my S&W M&P 15 over anything mentioned on this page and I’ll be just fine. 55 grain sp ammo will knock down man or deer quite easily out to 200 yds. If you can’t kill a deer @ that range with an AR you can’t shoot worth a shit.

  11. Lol, I love these forums with all their endless debating. Its nice to find people who are actually using their brains for more than a database for bad tv episodes…

    Anywho, to each his own because I know none of us is gonna change our minds, BUT when I think of a SHTF scenario I think of that movie “The Road”. Damn it gives me chills just thinking about it. If I am trying to keep my family alive and we’re competing for inadequate resources with everyone else, my top pick is one of the better .308 autos like the M1A, Fal, AR10, etc. As previously stated, it is a NATO rd that is found everywhere. Its lethal further than most of us can accurately shoot and it will stop almost anything you could want to eat. I wouldn’t want to rabbit hunt with it, but the meat would still be there. You’d just have to pick it up in pieces here and there. A handgun would be tempting for the weight saved, but it would make you an easy victim to anyone with a rifle. The same can be said of shorter range rifles vs. longer, but that’s assuming you are not in an urban area where range would be less of an issue. A ruger 10/22 would be awesome if you’re just trying to put meat on the fire, but unless you’re really the LAST family left I think I would want a battle tested round that’s good to several hundred meters. I’m with Odd, I would probably save my bullets and fish and trap for meat.

  12. I’m a month late. I and my kids are fairly new to guns and I’ve acquired in the last couple years a Marlin bolt action .22 magnum , Ruger 10/22, Henry .22 lever action and a Mossberg 500. We’ve also picked up a CZ75D compact a Bersa Thunder .380 and finally our first gun a Browning Buckmark Camper. Looks like a made a several good choices just by luck. I’ve been researching carbines and I suppose after reading these posts based on what I already have I’ve run out of lucky choices. Any suggestions for a wise choice? I’m the biggest person in my family at 5’8″ 170ish and my kids are strong and fit ….gymnasts but we are well aware of our physical limitations with regards to heavier guns. I’m also looking at 1911’s and I’m leaning toward a STI Spartan…..what can I say I got the bug and my wife is very cool about my new toys. Money is an object because I’m now blessed with out of state tuition for the next too many years. I’ll check back to see If any of you more experienced wiser shooters cares to advise based on what I have now and what you think would be a smart addition. I’m working toward my CCW for a late Feb class….it’s a Texas thing. I’ve got an retired Gunnery Sergent punishing me at the range for $70 an hour so I don’t screw up in Feb and don’t screw up period when it counts.

  13. If its ONE gun, and ONE gun only. I am taking my pump action shotgun with the accuchoke barrel. You wont have to make compromises on hunting small game or large game. As a defense weapon, shotguns are more practical than any pistol, and any bolt action rifle.

    Sure you might think a military type centerfire rifle would be better, in a distance sustained firefight, sure. But I dont have any delusions that most people seem to have about getting in and somehow winning gunfights unharmed.

    Bottom line the aggressor shoots first, usually by surprise, and you are either wounded, dead (or they miss and if that happens, I’ll try to escape to safety first, and fight only if there is no other option). I also dont plan on needing to murder people in cold blood to survive, so I’d rather have the more versatile firearm.

    Sum up. ANY reliable shotgun. Hunt everything from birds to bears. 12G is just as, or more common than anything else. You dont need to carry lots of ammo on you at any given time, (just stockpile it) because the people who want to get into gunfights arent going to live long. Just carry the right rounds to hunt anything you come across. You realistically only need to carry maybe 10 shotgun shells at any given time. You need more than 10, you’re hunting wrong, or going to die anyways.

    The only other compelling argument my friend makes is a Ruger 10/22 with a suppressor. I could almost agree, but I wouldnt want to try to kill a bear for dinner with one.

    The other last compelling argument another friend makes is getting good at archery, a good compound bow can hunt just about anything you come across. Arrows can be used more than once most of the time, and easier to learn how to make completely from scratch once ammo is scarce.


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