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The difficulty in picking out one weapon for a doomsday scenario is that there are so many possible scenarios that it’s hard to find a one-size-fits-all firearms solution. One thing that occurred to me is this: If society has only partially collapsed, or if armed gangs have taken over parts of the city (think Mogadishu or Beirut here), then appearing in public with a military-type weapon can be a very risky thing to do, especially if you are not identified as being a part of (and thus under the protection of) one of the “militias” or groups that has control of part of the city. Essentially, the weapon would mark you as a “player” and not an innocent bystander. That might not work in your favor . . .

In that circumstance, appearing harmless is actually the best “defense” you could have. So, while the “modern sporting rifle” is the weapon of choice for a large part of the survivalist community, I could see where a concealable handgun would be the “best” weapon.

Here’s another scenario, closer to home (literally.)

Suppose you have some kind of Katrina-like local disaster. Your home is unavailable or un-defendable. Or you’ve run out of supplies. So you take to The Road, Cormac McCarthy style, to try and make it to some kind of public shelter with your family in tow. After a harrowing struggle, you make it to the Superdome or Red Cross shelter, or some similar place of temporary safety. You breathe a sigh of relief.

But wait! There’s a heavily armed police officer or National Guardsman at the door. The Power That Be are frisking everyone who comes in, and checking bags. Anything that looks like a weapon is tossed into a trash bin next to the entrance:  guns, knives, clubs, anything. (Can’t have folks attacking each other in the shelter, can we?)

Assuming you armed yourself before fleeing your home, some issues present themselves. Do you toss the gun into the bucket, knowing that your chances of ever seeing it again are approximately zero? Knowing that you would then be defenseless (a) inside the shelter or (b) if for whatever reason you have to leave the shelter?

Not being searched isn’t an option. If you want to get your family in the shelter, you’ll get searched. Even the baby will get patted down. Do you stay outside, armed but not protected? Or do you trust your fate to the loving arms of the state?

A lot of gun owners on the internet would do the macho posturing thing: “They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead hands!” But would you really do that? Especially if it was not just you, but your family that you would be denying the food, water and shelter offered by the shelter? I don’t think I would.

Guns are valuable and useful but at the end of the day it’s all just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. People can’t.

Such possibilities, IMO, are much more likely than the Zombie Apocalypse scenario, where you just load up your BFG9K and start blasting away at all comers.

So, in the most likely immediate scenario, your “end of the world” gun should be disposable. It’s going to break your heart to toss grandpa’s old .45 he carried through France and Belgium into the bucket. The thought might make you risk leaving your family to the mercy of the elements or marauding zombie gangs.

But in that scenario, I submit that it’s the right thing to do. After all, the goal of the exercise is not to arm oneself, the goal is to survive.

[NB: We thank Martin Albright for his service in the U.S. Army.]

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  1. First, you go to all the trouble to prepare for the worst, and you end up at a public shelter? Really? Second, my wife would never enter a shelter because she would rather die than use a port-a-can (especially after 500 other people just used it). Third, yes, there's a time and place for a disposable gun, this ain't it.

    A lot of people diss SUV's and pickup trucks. In this scenario, a good large vehicle is more important than your gun. That and an extra 10 gallons of gas stored in the shed. Bug out and keep driving. Have enough emergency supplies to last several days on the road, sleeping in the car. You can drive from West Virginia to Texas in ~20 hours, so several days will get you somewhere safe.

    And Hurricanes don't just sneak up on you. The only people going to shelters are either too poor, too ill-prepared, or too ill, period, to do anything else.

    As for firearms, it's your vehicle so carry all of them. Seriously. Plus ammo.

  2. Dodgeman: We have close friends who live in a Houston suburb. During Katrina and the one that came after it (can't remember the name right now) they tried to leave town. Couldn't do it. All roads leaving town were blocked except for the interstate, and every exit – every single one – on the interstate was blocked, so no exiting. After 5+ hours of sitting in the sweltering heat, they turned around. Lots of people ran out of gas on that interstate.

    Mike Tyson has a saying: Everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the face.

  3. Mike, I'm sitting in a Houston suburb right now. I know exactly what you're talking about. And Rita was the practice evac., Ike was the real thing. My family got out early during the Rita evac, I was stuck at work. I sat in traffic a lot longer than 5 hrs during Rita. But I made it somewhere safe. And armed. And returned armed, to see many many strange vehicles slowly cruise through our subdivision. During Ike, the whole family bugged out together. Traffic was better because our planning was better. We met up with friends at a hotel and rode it out together. Armed again.

    My point was that we didn't end up at a shelter. Did your friends? Did they do better the second time around? Did they get multiple maps and plan alternate routes? Did they have more supplies (such as extra gas in several 5 gallon cans)? Did they trust their elected officials? Did they pay more attention to the weather?

    Again, people with financial resources and transportation had options. Public shelter wasn't even a last resort for us.


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