Did someone mention a forever gun? Because once again, here comes the guy that’s telling you to go out and get a flintlock musket :D Yeah, I know; it’s a sin in these here parts to tell someone to go out and drop $1500 on an 18thcentury weapon, so here’s what you do instead.
Pick up that gun making book from Ronald B. Brown. He doesn’t give specific directions for making what I’m about to touch on, but he provides the basics. I’d suggest a shorter, large bore weapon, such as a Blunderbuss design (Think in terms of one shot, maximum damaged bad guys). You can buy the flintlock, lock work at a place such as Dixie Guns Works.
Now you’re probably thinking that this is really not a forever gun, because eventually, even the steel will no longer be available. Not a problem. Remember that episode of Star Trek in which Capt Kirk grabbed a piece of bamboo, miraculously came across some charcoal, salt petre, and sulfur, combined it all together, and with a makeshift fuse, shot the reptilian dude that was stalking him? Well sure, it was a load of shit, but what do you expect from a commie puke like Roddenberry? But apparently there is some truth behind it. Ronald Brown briefly touches on the design of a low tech, all wooden gun that utilizes a fuse (Here’s where it would be nice to have an old fashioned hand drill with some bits. Some hobby cannon fuse would be nice to have as well).
Next you will be asking, what about the powder? Well, I’m not gonna sugar coat this, as it does present quite a challenge. However one factor to consider over a past civilization collapse, is that we have superior knowledge going into the next collapse. You would have to learn basic chemistry, and learn how to procure nitrates and sulfur (the charcoal is the easy part). Also included in that Brown fellows book, are various ways to make gunpowder; many of them easier than what I’ve outlined above, so start off with the easy stuff first, depending on what resources are still available. None of this will be easy, but it will provide you with a true forever gun, if you’re willing to put the effort into it.
( note from Jim-not sure if you can find a cheap print book. Here is a PDF book: