Find someone to teach you the safety rules of using guns. The NRA, Pink Pistols, and former combat arms military veterans will be able to help you.
This is the part where most people get confused about preparing for an emergency. They think a lot of guns are all they need, or a lot of guns are needed.
Now, don't get me wrong, guns are needed to defend yourself, obtain meat, protect livestock, kill elected/unelected government officials (The reason for The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United Sates of America), and as nauseam. Just don't confuse a gun hobby with having guns for emergency preparedness.
Before we start, I need for you to get something straight.
Gun, Weapon, Pistol, Revolver, Shotgun, Rifle, Air Rifle and all the other words to describe these various instruments/tools are interchangeable with firearm for this portion of the blog.
A firearm is designed to send a projectile down the barrel towards a target. The firearm does not care about the target; a paper target or a living target, all the same to the firearm.
A loaded firearm, pointed or un-pointed, when the trigger is pulled sends a projectile down the barrel. Almost all projectiles will go through a human body. Don't believe me. Check out the video in the links. Make sure you watch part 2/3 and part 3/3 of the video.
So unless you are superwoman, you, your spouse, your child, the cat/dog and anything else in the way of the bullet will get hurt, broken, or killed.
Got It. Good.
If You Don't, Stop Reading, and Come Back Next Week To Read About Air.
So, with that said, let us continue.
The first thing you need to do is get safety training. The NRA is the best source for this training. State conservation departments have firearms safety training, usually staffed by NRA trained instructors. Gun ranges will have instructors, so you can ask there. Combat arms type soldiers or combat arms veterans might be a good source. As a last resort, you can ask friends and family to teach you. Be careful, some folks are not that safe.
Avoid police officers and armed security guards, most of them don't get that much training. It's a shame but true. They carry a gun for 8 to 12 hours a day and might get to the range four times a year or less. Some never pull their gun out of the holster, unless training or cleaning it, their entire career.
Some of you live outside the United States. You might be able to get training from current military members, military veterans, family, or friends in that order. Once again, avoid the police/security forces.
NRA Gun Safety Rules
1. Always Keep the Gun Pointed in a Safe Direction
2. Always Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger Until Ready to Shoot
3. Always Keep the Gun Unloaded Until Ready to Use
As a responsible adult, you will need refresher training as you see fit.
Now some people suggest you get more training. This depends on what you are preparing for, check your threat analysis. If you decide to get additional training, there are many fine firearms training schools and firearms instructors in the United States.
Outside the United States, you are going to have to ask friends, family, current military, and military veterans to help you.
Whatever you do
Make Sure You Get Firearm Safety Training
Most people will tell you get this gun, get this, and leave that one alone without telling you why; additionally, these people won't show you how to make an informed decision.
The first thing is why are you getting the gun? Food or Defense?
First, Food specifically meat.
The best way to obtain meat is through trapping. The traps are on 24 hours/7 days a week, however you may be in an emergency that trapping isn't going to work or is prohibited.
So, you will have to hunt. A shotgun in 12 or 20 gauge is usable for deer, pig, turkey, and duck. A 20 gauge is best for most people. A 12 gauge is usable by most people, but not all people.
To find out which one is best for you, get out and hunt. Some hunters have a loaner gun for a friend, so try to borrow before you buy.
Before you go hunting, you will need to get a hunting permit.
Even during an emergency, police, game wardens, and other law enforcement personal will be working. You need to make sure all of the required permits are in order before you go hunting.
Now which barrel type/length will you need? Depends on what you are hunting. For deer use a 18 to 20 inch slug barrel. Shooting duck, you will need a 24 to 30 inch long barrel. Don't forget the chokes. Don't know what I'm talking about; ask your family member/friend the hunter because I don't know.
The same for hunting with a rifle or a pistol. I don't hunt, yet.
You need to find someone to teach you because these are skills that you will need to learn and practice, before the emergency, to be good enough to bring home the bacon, turkey, deer, or ... Same goes for trapping.
I do know some things though.
Avoid uncommon calibers. Most people really mean uncommon cartridges. A cartridge is the combination of a bullet and a cartridge case. The cartridge case holds the powder, the primer and the bullet. An example is .257 Roberts. This cartridge has a bullet .257 inches in diameter (the caliber) and a cartridge case based on the 7X57 Mauser; this means the cartridge is 56.7 millimeters long.
Calibers or cartridges which one is it? This is one of the problems with guns. A lot of people think they know about guns and throw around terms that they really don't know what the term means. This is one of the reasons why guns are a popular hobby.
You get to learn about different words, their exact meaning, and shoot guns. What's not to like!
So I will have to explain to you what is right, as far as I know, and what you will hear.
The easiest way to find which common cartridges are in your area is go to a gun store, sporting goods store, Wal-Mart, or ask a friend. At the gun-store and sporting goods store ask which calibers are most popular in the area or just look at what is on the shelf. At Wal-Mart look behind the counter and see what they have the most of on the shelf. When asking your friend, ask which calibers him and his friends use? The type of bullet? And, who makes it?
In the US, 22LR (LR means Long Rifle), 30-30, 308, and 30.06 are the most popular calibers for hunting. 20 and 12 gauge are the most popular for shotguns. There are regional variations because of terrain, density and type of vegetation, and the type and size of animals hunted. You will need to get experience to learn the most popular cartridges for your area. Remember cartridge is the whole thing, bullet, cartridge case, powder and primer. The caliber is just the diameter of the bullet.
Just so you understand. There are probably 100 different types of cartridges for a .308 diameter (caliber) bullet.
Let us talk about defense.
There are two philosophies for handgun defensive cartridges. Small and fast or big and slow.
In the small and fast category is the 9mm (said 9 millimeter or 9 mill). In the big and slow category is the 45 ACP. 45 ACP is usually just called 45. Now "mm" means millimeter, a unit of measurement for diameter. ACP is an acronym for Colt Automatic Pistol. The diameter for a 45 ACP bullet is .45 inches in diameter or about 11.43 millimeters in diameter.
The 9mm travels from 1,100 feet per second to 1,200 feet per second and weights 123 grains. Small and fast.
The 45 ACP travels at about 900 feet per second and weights 230 grains. Big and slow.
Some people won't talk to each other because they disagree over which one is the "best" caliber for defense.
Guest what? They both work. They are both good defensive calibers, so is the 40 caliber. The 9mm is easier on the hand, less recoil. The 40 caliber is next, and the 45ACP has the most recoil. Some people are sensitive to recoil.
Recoil is how hard the gun "kicks."
It is the same way for how expensive the cartridges (remember bullet, cartridge case, powder, and primer) are 9mm is the least expensive, 40 cal (short for caliber) is next and the 45 is the most expensive when using the same type of powder, primer, and type of bullet.
Now different cartridges will be more or less expensive. Using a better powder, it propels the bullet to the target, increases the cost. Using a different type of bullet can increase the cost, and quality control by the manufacture will increase the cost.
I am not going to discuss quality control. All of the manufactures (avoid, like the Plague, Indian .308/7.62 NATO) have generally good quality control. I am not going to write about powder, either because you can do that research on your own.
However, I am going to talk about bullets.
FMJ means Full Metal Jacket; it has a metal cover over all of the lead part of the bullet except for the very bottom of the bullet. This type of bullet is used by the military. The bullet does not expand or get bigger.
SJ means Semi Jacketed; its metal cover just covers the bottom 1/2 of the bullet. People use a variation of this bullet for defense. The bullet will expand.
Then there are the non-jacketed bullets. They are usually just lead. I don't know how they expand.
Now bullets come in various shapes. Solid nose and hollow point. A solid nose bullet can be round, flat or another shape, but the nose is always filled with material. A hollow point has a hollow point. The abbreviation for hollow point is HP. I have provided three links, if you want to read more.
With all that said, you want to buy cartridges with a FMJ or SJHP bullet. Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) to practice with and Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP) to shoot people with. Why?Because the best round for one-shot-stops, the bad person stops attacking, is the 125 grain SJHP .357 Magnum cartridge; additionally a brand-new FMJ is usually less expensive then SJHP.
Before you start asking about the 125gr. SJHP 357 Magnum round (round is interchangeable with cartridge). I want you to remind you about opinions. The wikipedia "Stopping Power" article offers some opinions; just like I did in the paragraph above. You have to get out there and talk to people, read articles, and make up your mind on this stuff. Be careful though defensive shooting is a multi-million dollar a year business, same with hunting.
The .357 Magnum cartridge is used in revolvers. They are the guns that look like they have a wheel. They are also called wheel guns. Below are two links showing some folks shooting revolvers.
Revolvers are relatively simple to operate and maintain. They come in single action, cowboys carried these types. You have to pull the hammer back every time you want to shoot, the video with Lenka. Double action revolvers you can squeeze the trigger to cause the hammer to come back and fire the gun, or use it single action, like the Colorado video.
I can recommend Colt, Taurus, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and others. There are lots of different manufacturers. Remember ask friends to take you to the gun store. This gives you a chance to see the quality of workmanship. Workmanship will cost you money.
While you are at the gun store, check out the other type of handguns, the pistol. A pistol is a handgun that will fire then automatically reload an unfired cartridge. These come in single and double action just like revolvers, but there is a difference. A single action pistol requires you to pull the hammer back once, from then on you squeeze the trigger and the pistol automatically reloads a new round, you squeeze the trigger again; the gun fires and reloads and this can continue until the magazine is empty. A double action pistol requires you to only squeeze the trigger to make the gun fire. Just like the double action revolver, a double action pistol can be fired like a single action pistol.
Once again, I can recommend Taurus, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Colt, and Springfield Armory. All of these and others make good guns.
Before I continue, let me tell you a story.
There was an cowgirl drinking in a bar. A drunk bumped into her. She said something; the drunk said something back, then the drunk hit the cowgirl. The cowgirl hit the drunk back.
The drunk suggested they take the fight outside. As soon as the drunk stepped outside, the drunk pulled out a big'ol knife. The knife was 3 feet long and razor sharp; it still had blood on it from the last fight.
The cowgirl whipped out her gun and shot the drunk. As the dead drunk hit the ground, she turned around and said "Stupid drunk bringing a knife to a gunfight."
When all is said and done, the choice of a pistol or a revolver, a 9mm or a 357 magnum, blued or stainless steel. The gun you have with you is the gun you will have to use. You need to practice, practice, and practice some more because that is what really makes the difference in a gunfight.
Enough about handguns, lets talk about rifles. There are various types of rifle operating systems. I am going to limit my writing to just two, the bolt action and semi-automatic action; eventhough, there is a third, called the lever action.
Bolt action is just like it says. You manipulate a bolt to get a round in the chamber to shoot the gun. Most hunting rifles use this operating system.
A semi-automatic rifle is just like a pistol. Gases from the first fired cartridge puts an unfired cartridge in the chamber ready to shoot. Most military rifles use this system.
The bolt actions are rugged. I have seen bolt action rifles, that are still fired, over 110 years old. Bolt actions come in different cartridges. The 22LR is used for hunting small game, squirrel and rabbit. 308 is used for medium game, deer. 30.06 is used for larger game like elk. The common cartridges found in bolt action rifles for killing humans are 30.06, .303, 7.62X54R and 8mm Mauser.
8mm is used in the German Mauser rifle of World War 2 fame. 30.06 was the cartridge used by the US in World War 2, and the .303 was used by the British in World War 2.7.62X54R is special.
The Russians have been using this round for over a hundred years. 7.62 is the diameter of the bullet, in millimeters. 54 is the length of the cartridge, in millimeters, and the R means it has a rim.
If you are interested in the rim issue, do some research. The bolt action rifles that use this cartridge are rifles used by the soviets and others during WW1 and WW2. They are called Mosin-Nagant. You can get one for about $125.
Another WW2 rifle is the German K98, sometimes called a Mauser. It uses the 8mm Mauser round. These rifles go for about $250 to thousands of dollars. Some are collector rifles, most aren't. Mitchell's rifles aren't.
The Lee-Enfield rifle uses the .303. It has a magazine that was intended not to be removed. You can get one for about $250. James Darkin swears by these rifles as an inexpensive survival rifle.
The bolt action rifle in 30.06 that you will commonly see is a civilian rifle not a rifle designed for war. The bolt action war rifles in this cartridge have become collector items. These are expensive when compared to the other rifles, costing over $700.
If you are going to get a bolt action rifle as your primary killing people rifle you need to stay focused on the .303, 8mm, and the 7.62X54R because you can buy military grade rifles for these cartridges. That is important because you need a rifle that will shoot and shoot and shoot some more every time you need it to, a quality military rifle will do that.
Semiautomatic rifles are finicky. They have to be better cleaned, better cared for, and have detachable magazines, something most bolt action do not have.
The common semiautos, short for semiautomatic, are 5.56mm, 7.62 NATO, 30.06, and 7.62X39.
The 5.56mm cartridge is used by the US and a few allies. The most common rifle is the M16 series. I say series because the US has been using this gun for over 40 years. There has been the AR-15, XM-177E2, M-16, M-16A1, M-16A2, M-16A3, M-16A4, and the M-4. Civilians will normally see a semiauto copy of the M16 series rifles. These are one of the "assault rifles" some people want to ban.
The 7.62 NATO round is used in the FN-FAL, G3/HK-91/CEMTE, M-14/M1A. Some people will tell you .308 and 7.62 NATO are interchangeable; nope. See the "Third Half-Guns" for the reason why.
The classic 30.06 cartridge was used in the M1 Garand rifle. General Patton called the M1 "the greatest battle implement ever devised." This is probably true for WW2 but time marches on.
Time and Mikhail Kalashnikov give us the AK-47. With over 10, 000,000 manufactured in the last 50 years; you won't see one in your local gun store. The rifles you see are a semiauto version of this famous gun. Just like the M-16 series rifle, we have had the AK-47, AKM, AKMS, and AK-74. There are many manufactures of this type of rifle; some good, some not so good. Like the SKS, the AK-47 uses the 7.62X39 cartridge.
Any of the mentioned rifles are fine. Some are better then the other because their magazines are cheaper. So which one should you get?
I am going to let you pick based on a partially informed decision. How far do you want to shoot someone? Are you going to shoot through something to hit them? Remember the video? How much money do you have? How many are you going to buy? How many magazines are you buying?
Price -- Rifle
$0 -- K98, Mosin-Nagant, SKS (No Detachable Magazines)
$1 -- M1 en-bloc clips (the famous "ping")
$3 -- HK 91 magazine
$8 -- FN-FAL magazine
$8-$20 -- AR-15/M-16 magazine
$30 -- Lee-Enfield magazine
$20-$50 -- M1A magazines
A democrat was elected to the US Presidency, expect magazine prices to rise very quickly or a ban of ownership enacted.
Price -- Rifle
$125 -- Mosin-Nagant
$250 -- K98, Lee-Enfield
$300 -- SKS
$400 -- AK series
$500 -- M1 Garand from CMP
$850 -- AR-15 by Olympic Arms base model
$1,000 -- HK 91 clone PTR-91, FN-FAL by DSA model STG-58
$1,300 -- M1A by Springfield Armory base model
$2,000 -- AR-15 by Colt
$2,000 -- HK-91 by Heckler & Kock
$2,000 -- FN-FAL by DSA model G1
$3,000 -- M1A by Springfield Amory super match grade
These prices are a general beginning price range. As prices go up, you are paying for better material, tighter tolerences, and collectable rifle status. You can also pay less by looking around.
Remember: If it sounds to good to be true, it probaly is.
-Maximum Effective Range-
range -- cartridge -- rifle
300 meters -- 5.56mm -- AR-15/M-16 series
300 meters -- 7.63X39 - SKS, AK series
800 meters -- .303 -- Lee-Enfield
800 meters -- 7.62 NATO -- FN-FAL, HK-91, M1A
8oo meters -- 7.62X54R -- Mosin-Nagant
8o0 meters -- 30.06 -- M1 Grarand
Maximum effective range is how far away an average person can hit a target, and the bullet still has enough energy to kill the person that is hit by the bullet.
After all is said and done, none of these rifles are perfect. The FN-FAL is a very long rifle. The AR-15/M-16 shoots a round that doesn't go through big, thick trees or bricks. The AK series won't reach out to 500 meters with any accuracy. The Mosin-Nagant is a bolt action. You will need a lot of shooters, if you are attacked by a large enough gang. The M1A has very expensive magazines.
Once you have bought your guns, you are going to need stuff.
Cleaning kits, patches, bore brushes, gun oils, ear and eye protection, ammo cans, ammo, slings, holsters, belt for the holster, gun locker/safe, common spare/repair parts, magazines, magazine pouches, belt for the magazine pouches, and other stuff as you see fit.
Remember, this is a multi-million dollar business for a reason.
Lastly, once you learn to shoot, even the basics. You need to take people shooting; from work, church, home or school doesn't matter, teach them shooting. This gets people involved and they might start to prepare. The more prepared people are the better off for us all. So go to the gun store and I'll ...
See you next week!
National Rifle Association - Home Page
Pink Pistols - Home Page
Military Shooting Test-1/3
Bullet Basics 1-Materials:
Bullet Construction 2-Shapes:
Modern Handgun Bullets:
Grain and Grain! What is Grain?
Video of a Revolver-For the Gentlemen
Video of a Revolver-For the Ladies
Thanks to Say Uncle for looking over this post to make sure I didn't screw-up, too bad. Thanks again!