Monday, May 21, 2018

guest article, article 2 of 2 today

Article title : Priorities in choosing a frugal survivalist rifle.
So a few articles ago I made a list of characteristics for a frugal survivalist rifle (see below) and of course in these lists there is always the question of priority : which item is the most important ?
Here I will try to answer that question. But first, the list :
Procurement :
1- low firearm acquisition cost
2- low ammunition acquisition cost
3- low legal difficulty to acquire
Function :
4- effectiveness against non-military enemies below 200 yards with use of light cover (US house walls, cars)
5- useable (shooting, basic maintenance) by untrained people
6- useable (shooting, transporting) by people of feeble constitution
7- ruggedness or easily replaceable parts
Bonus : 8- forgiveness about expediently reloaded ammunition (only relevant for the post-collapse environment, but it's something you have to bear in mind if you're going to have only one type of weapon)
Of course the question of what is important is connected to the larger question of what your plan actually is : how much money do you have, how much time etc. This list can be an inspiration for any other piece of equipment in your setup.
I. Most important : procurement
Out of any context, the obvious more important issue is existence. If you have a weapon, you are much better off than if you had none. Even if it has issues with any other aspect of the list, it is there.
So the most important set of characteristics is related to procurement (points 1,2 and 3). Of all three aspects the legal difficulty to aquire is the most important. You need your firearm relatively fast and without too much issues like waiting for a green light from the authorities. It there is some kind of restriction linked with it, it might very well end up confiscated in the future, although that is not the problem right now.
About the price aspect, of course it's high on the list since it's a “frugal” rifle, and frugal is a polite term for “little money”. All sorts of combinations are possible but I would say that the cost should combine the price of the rifle, the price of 120 rounds for it, and of course shipping costs etc.
Why 120 rounds ? First because you'll need to shoot 20 rounds with it to get accustomed to it and notice any issues, flaws etc. so in effect you'll still have 100 rounds when the collapse (point of impossibility of further acquisition) has started.
If you stop at the procurement stage then you'll choose a BTN (“Better Than Nothing”) rifle, well described by Jim several times here, most likely a benjamin gun ( ), a 100 dollar shotgun or .22LR rifle, all single-shot.
II. Function
To me the worst gun that passes the first test (it exists) is a Remington rifle with an X-Mark Pro trigger (your weapon may fire unexpectedly) with a stout, uncommon cartridge (like the .270 WSM for instance) and a well-worn barrel. The reason why you still have it is that it has next to no resale value. It stout recoil will no sit well with your 12 year old child, the ammo is expensive and difficult to find. Even if an experienced shooter uses it, the lack of accuracy makes it near useless. But it is there.
If you have the possibility to afford better fuction, it means you are better off than the guys with that rifle, but it also means you are going to spend more than for a BTN firearm.
The question to ask here is : how much are you willing to pay for each added function ? It depends heavily on your preferences, on the cultural images that are present in your head, and your experience. Let's use the list to explore the functions (not in the list's order, though).
 IIA : The most important aspect is aspect 5 (useability by untrained people). In fact we can consider that if a person doesn't specifically train to fight with a rifle he's untrained. I have seen countless horrors in basic handling and shooting in my 13 years at my local gun range. So I consider that everybody is untrained.
Break-open weapons are the most easy to understand, followed by revolvers and bolt-actions, in that order. To the neophyte, lLever actions are not really that intuitive.
Semi-auto weapons are very complicated for the untrained, and magazines add to the confusion.
Of course, the high consumption of ammunition that go with semi-automatic fire and magazines are not frugal at all.
 IIB : aspect 6 (useable by feeble people). If you are going to have a standard in your weaponry, then it will have to suit the weakest member of your group. This means that you have to choose a handgun round or an intermediate round, for several reasons : the recoil is lighter, but that light recoil also lessens the fear of pulling the trigger, flinching or firing with eyes closed etc. Also, such calibers are more economical to buy or to reload, sometimes significantly (especially cast bullets on revolver rounds)
 IIC : it may seem strange that the primary function of a firearm, its terminal effectiveness, appears so late in this list. My point is that if the people can't get the thing working in the first place and even if they do they close their eyes or flinch when shooting then the bullet won't be fired, or won't hit where it should.
Of course, accuracy is a nice thing to have, but it costs extra. All weapons are reasonably accurate. Extra accuracy comes at a high cost that is not justifiable for amateur shooters.  Maybe you, the reader, will have some proficiency in shooting that justifies a better rifle (a .30 caliber hunting rifle), and then you will have specialized weapons in your group, but this is already above frugal. (I do believe it is very important, but it is not frugal).
The cartridge is where you'll have to make a personal choice. This question alone deserves a separate article, and most articles in the shooter/prepper world revolves around this. But notice how it comes almost last in the list of priorities here.

III. The last aspect : long-term
You can go with shoddy weapons, but if you want your weapons to last, it involves also a higher cost (although very expensive weapons can also be shoody, either by design or by the materials involved).
I covered the “frugal” aspect here but not the “survivalist” aspect yet. If you guys survive the collapse then you find yourself in a world where industry doesn't exist anymore and maybe you can find an amateur craftsmen somewhere. You will probably have to do the repairs yourself.
Two schools exist here, for firearms or any other mechanical object : either the thing is rugged and doesn't break, or it follows a standard and you'll use replacement parts (they may even be a guy who will manufacture those parts, or if not, hey it's a business opportunity !)
I wrote that existence is the most important, it is then logical that absence of repair is the most important aspect here. If the thing is rugged then first your people won't break it by using it (it emphasizes the need for a simple weapon) and then it will stand the test of time (corrosion, freezing, ultraviolet light etc.)
Some parts are meant to absorb damage, like stocks. Stocks can be made at home with a lot of time, whereas plastic parts cannot. You might think that after the collapse there will plenty of AR parts around, but that is simply a gamble you're making. If you already have a weapon which can be fitted with wooden stocks then you don't take any chances.
The very last aspect on the list is the reloadability of the cartridge, and the forgiveness of the firearm to handle it. Reloading is a separate skillset. I know I could afford the ammunition (most importance aspect, see above) buy reloading spent brass, so it definitely comes into the equation, but in a long-term perspective. The bright side here is the ability to reuse cartridge cases and spent bullets (which you cast back to useable shape), the shadow side is the need for specialty items such as primers and powder. Both may still be manufactured post-collapse, or not (if the specialized knowledge has disappeared), either way you're better off stockpiling these ahead of the collapse. Again, it all depends on your assumptions.
As in everything with survivalism, at one given time the last can has been opened, being a can of spam or a can of powder.


  1. Just for your information, I have an important concentration problem (due to a chronic disease). I've re-read the text about ten times and fixed most grammar and spelling problems but a number slipped through. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    1. And you still do better than a lot of "professionals" who have perfect delivery but not a critical thought in their empty heads.

  2. My best recommendation would be a .22 semi-auto with hard sights and a 4x scope, and 10,000 rds of long rifle ammo, and as much time as possible training with it.

    Without the rounds and training it doesn't really matter what sort of gun you have cause you're probably going to be killed pretty quick anyway.

    For various reasons, mostly because of unfamiliarity with the subject matter, its easy for people to slip into the non-serious flight of fantasy with regards to firearms. When the rubber hits the road all fantasy turns to smoke. Like creating specific scenarios and coming with idea for that scenario rather than thinking on a broader more comprehensive scale.

    An example of this is the claim that in a night time residential home invasion where there are sleeping kids in the bedrooms, a shotgun is the best choice. Framed like that, yes maybe a shotgun is best. But what if the bedrooms are on the 2nd floor and the perp is hiding behind the pantry door on the first floor and firing at you through the door? The fear of shooting the kids is not an issue but being able to penetrate that door may require a centerfire bullet.

    This is what I mean by thinking comprehensively, a broader picture. Training from people that know what they're talking about can open your eyes to a larger view.

    FWIW: In the scenario I mentioned my Rem 870 is packed with 00 buck so that whole pantry door is coming off the hinges and if it goes down on the 2nd floor I know precisely where all the bedroom orientations are and would not shoot them but I would kill that perp. Thnk BIG!

    1. If someone focused on a rimfire for ease of serious stockpiling, I'd even go as far as say the semi is far less of an issue in that case. You'd actually hit something with a rapid follow up shot due to lack of recoil.

    2. >> For various reasons, mostly because of unfamiliarity with the subject matter, its easy for people to slip into the non-serious flight of fantasy with regards to firearms.

      I'm sorry to be so dumb and dreamy, big kahuna. (/sarc)

      Not that you're entirely devoid of delusion yourself. By your own admittance your wife doesn't know how to use any firearm.
      That's actually normal, most of the people in our lives have never trained to the level you're talking about, simply because they haven't trained at all, and never will.

      So rather than saying "all this is BS because you haven't trained and you're all going to die", why not try and find a solution that is actually more rooted in reality ? That's what I'm trying to do here.

      When you take people for what they are rather than what they "should" be (which is mostly adolsecent internet posturing, BTW, phrases like "When the rubber hits the road all fantasy turns to smoke" are a classic giveaway), they will talk to you (not "listen" to you) and cooperate.

      So maybe you could take a constructive approach once in a while and perhaps your wife will one day be able to defend her own life if she needs to.

    3. With the added benefit that a homemade suppressor is pretty easy to make with PVC for a .22 rifle.

    4. @Ave, people should be trained with a firearm if they plan to use it. I don't know any other way to put it. The type of gun doesn't matter, if they don't know how to use it. People that think guns are toys that can be used properly by anybody give their own unfamiliarity with them away.

      Guns are most dangerous in the hands of people ill equipped to handle them.

    5. You should think of it this way. How many people do you encounter that should NOT have a drivers license? Would you want them to have a gun?

    6. GS in a forthcoming article (Wednesday , I think) I will provide detailed proof of why the choice of the firearm is quite important in how you train people.

      The type of gun is very important in the training, if you had trained people like I have over the last twelve years (from cap&ball revolvers to semi-automatic rifles and a lot of stuff inbetween, to children aged 10 up to engineers) you would know this. Frankly, it should be quite easy to grasp.

      I'm writing from experience, I don't know why you insist on my incompetence but I back everything I write with precise arguments, while you just ponder and patronize.

      Lastly, and this is very important for you to understand in the context of this blog, it is not because people can't get a training that they can't be armed.

      Read this and understand that many people can't afford to train because they lack the time, the money and even the gas money to do so. It doesn't mean they can't figure things out by themselves.

      In the United States millions of people buy firearms without any training. Only a tiny fraction of them look at tutorials on Youtube (which Youtube is going to kill soon anyway, you'll find them on like InRangeTV for instance). That doesn't mean they shouldn't be armed. They will buy the firearms anyway, and the opinions of a few old coots on the internet will not hinder them in any way.

      So rather than dimissing any attempt to help these people, which is not constructive and thus pretty uninteresting, I would rather help them :
      1. Not to waste money on shiny toys (AR15s, typically) but manage their meagre funds to the best effect
      2. Help them choose a weapon platform that will be the most useful for them while also being the safest. Again, read the article on Wednesday.

    7. Know what's the first thing most people do when you hand them a gun?

      Put their finger on the trigger.
      Even people that know better do it.

      I rarely hand a gun to someone, and when I do I ALWAYS first clear the gun and make it visibly inert.

      Last year I walked out of a gun show less than 2 mins after paying the entry fee because an idiot swung a table gun past me. He picked it up off the table and while running his mouth to another guy he swung that gun sideways past me before ever clearing it.

      Yeah, he was an idiot but so was I for not seeing it coming. MY negligence, lapse in situational awareness, could have gotten me killed. Doubtful I'll ever go again to a large venue of any sort with the built-in propensity for idiocy all over the place.

    8. I get more agitated with the arsehole to elbow layout ( hate crowds ) and the bad selection of bargains, any more ( still good ten years ago, terrible five years ago ). I'm never happy with poor gun safety, but if it is going to happen a gun show is probably the most forgiving. Not saying I approve, just that I don't worry as much there.

    9. "It doesn't mean they can't figure things out by themselves."

      Disappointing that you would write this about guns.
      It would never occur to me to suggest to someone with no gun experience to just go out and buy one (though I don't know how they are going to do that being they are so poor) and figure it out.

      Perhaps I am using the wrong word when I say "training". I've been shooting guns for more than 50 years but every time I go out to shoot I consider it training. It's the most important part of being proficient with any gun. If a person doesn't train, or shoot the thing regularly, they are dangerous to themselves and others.

      There seems to be some miscommunication here. I wasn't trying to question you, per se, but rather the whole popular notion of the gun culture at large. I also don't understand why you speak condescendingly to me. The only knowledge I have of your gun experience is what you write here.

  3. Well done, considering the complexity of the problem and the time/space available.

    Orderly, logical, knowledgeable.

    The really huge background problem is what the future will be in your backyard, your general area, and the world. Unknowable. I once asked a retired four-star logistician how he did the threat analysis upon which to base resource requests. He laughed and said you just asked for everything you might dream of needing and worked with what you got.

    Planning is a hit or miss business: some people are better at it than others; some are more lucky than others. Nevertheless it has to be done; any plan is better than no plan since an existing plan can often be modified after that initial contact with the enemy which buggers your plan.

    This is not as pessimistic as it might sound. It is merely real life in hostile territory.

    1. "just asked for everything you might dream of needing and worked with what you got". Or, you can be a prepper and get nothing because you couldn't have what you dream of.

    2. >> Orderly, logical, knowledgeable.

      Thank you, much appreciated ! :)

      >> He laughed and said you just asked for everything you might dream of needing and worked with what you got.

      Actually if you need something you have access to it, either through ownership, renting or otherwise. Because it is a *need*.

      Planning is indeed an extremely complex endeavour, this is why the "frugal survivalist" approach covers mainly the situation where a lot of people simultaneously don't have something they *need* (mainly food) and your family is being attacked by them, because you might have some of it left.

      My approach focuses on limitations, and therefore it is a pretty minimal but rugged approach. If the problem are miniature drones rigged with explosives and used by drug lords or something, that may or may not happen in the future, it is also not a generic approach.

      My purpose is to provide food for thoughts for most people. As it is often the case, people focus on the extraordinary but forget about the mundane (like : they're not Navy SEALs).

  4. Until about 10 years ago, I think the lever action 30-30 fit quite a bit of what you are asking for above. Ammunition is popular and nearly always available. Easy to carry, light in weight and 200 yards - sure, no problem with a group the size of a basketball at that range, even offhand. Lever gun is does not evoke 'Evil Black Rifle' at all.

    30-30 bullets work well. Before assault weapons became the range, many police departments fielded lever guns in the trunks of their vehicles. 30-30 can be loaded down for small game too.

    The rimfire ideas fielded above aren't bad. If it were time to skeedadle for good, a rimfire would be a good choice. Two bricks of ammunition (1000 rds.) would not be a huge problem to lug.

    Interesting article - thank you for bringing it up and writing it.

    1. Just put a 1000 rd brick of .22 Federal Thunderbolts on a digital bathroom scale and they weighed exactly 9.0 lbs.

    2. So, by going by the logic the M-16 used, we should be switching from that to rimfire, right? :)

    3. I Don't know if the lever action is *that* intuitive. I had to explain how to do everything for it to my mother an ex-bush girl raised on a station.

      Then there's the maintenance.

    4. Agree on the .30 .30. I read an article a few years back now that claimed with the Barnes ammunition, that the .30 .30 could now be considered a 300 yard gun. That said, while I’d prefer a .30 .30 as my rifle round, I would probably end up getting a .44 magnum instead. The reason of course is that I would prefer to be able to use the same ammo for both a pistol and a rifle.

      On the topic frugal survival guns, since we’re mostly in agreement that semi’s don’t really fit into this category, I would prefer either a lever action or a pump action. But there is not a wide selection of rifles in pump action, so it would likely be a lever action. If I needed distance, I would probably get a bolt in .223. but aside from that, I do not feel that the bolt action is an intuitive gun to cycle rounds through, and the motion to do so has always felt awkward to me.

    5. Why switch, Have both!
      But yeah, you're right. Awhile back I weighed 1000 rds of .223 and they were 17lbs. More than twice that of the .22. I believe an argument can be made that a good shooter/tactician will be good regardless of the caliber he chooses once he gets acclimated to the gun.

    6. 1:55-hand me a lever action and while I'd stumble through operating, perhaps, I'd be stymied by most everything about it. Not intuitive would be my vote.
      2:50-Don't they offer most pistol calibers in break open single shots?
      GS-I think you meant 17x, didn't you? Or would it be 18x? You said the rimfire was just under a pound, yes?

    7. 1,000 rimfire = 9.0 lbs
      1,000 .223 = 17.0 lbs

      I need to reverify that .223 cause it's been awhile and that 17lbs seems low in comparison to the .22

    8. OK, I have several standard size OD green ammo boxes with 1,000 loose rounds and a Lula mag loader in each. When I hit the range I grab one. One of those weighs 27.5lbs. Now this is according to a digital person scale so I don't know how accurate it is at that range. But it feels like 27 lbs when I lift it. And I can't see myself carrying it very far.

      Lemme see....figger figger, 30rds to a mag, figger figger, how many mags in a thousand, figger figger. About 33 mags worth of lead. My vest holds 6 + one in the gun = 210 rds max on my person.

    9. My apologies. I THOUGHT what I saw was point nine pounds ( .9 ). Then I went back and read it again. You know, the thing hating minions should do as they yell at me for what they thought they read :). Damn gander sauce!

  5. Just some contributions in general for minions, though not intended in a deriding manner. If your on a path of a survivalist (not a prepper/they are short term petty incident shoppers) then it will be a nearly an all consuming endevour in your life. Minon survivalists will scrape up the funds as there are no other hobbies or B.S. interests and make investment in proper guns, In quantity, as budgets allow-over time. Other gear and food will also be provided for. Since the survivalist minion is laser beam focused on staying alive and doing everything necessary he won't be buying frilly household junk from chinamart or driving inflated plastic suv/cars for status and rank. This is easy meat activities now during the gravy times. If necessary hustle a side job, sell off crap for cash funds, donate plasma-blood for cash funds, get food bank hand outs, use grocery money for ammo. A minion might want get a level of religous fanatacism concerning these endevours as this is not a non penalty sport that will be played soon. Splitting hairs over personal preferences with others on blogs and chat dens is not really productive result producing activities.

    1. "Splitting hairs over personal preferences with others on blogs and chat dens is not really productive result producing activities" Guilty as charged, your honor.