Survival Guns and Your Retreat
It is assumed that if you are reading this, you may be considering the possibility of socio-economic collapse from any number of reasons. If it comes to this, we all know that it won't be like the depression of the1930's, when the unemployed homeless came around to your back door at mealtime, begging for a bowl of soup which those employed were willing to share. People today are dependant on government welfare, and handouts, and consider it their right to be given (or take by force) the necessities of life. For every family that gives up vacations, meals out, consumer goods, etc. to prepare, thousands and thousands of other families will not! Your survival will depend on your ability to protect what you have.
Unless you already live in a very small town, or in a sparsely populated area out in the country, it is imperative that you have somewhere to go. At the onset of socio-economic collapse the cities will rapidly become a death trap. Plan on getting the hell out at the first sign of things going bad! The ideal situation for city dwellers is to have a farm or ranch over 100 miles away from any major city. If you live on the coast, then figure it at 200 miles, because the population fleeing the city can only go in one direction. If you can get farther away than this, then do it. The rule of thumb used to be "at least a tank of gas away from any city." However, with the advent of more fuel efficient cars, this is getting much harder to do. You don't want to pick an area with neighbors that are laid back and totally unprepared. You want your neighbors to be armed and fiercely independent, willing to fight to protect what is theirs. Many of the rural folks in Texas fit this criteria. If your neighbors are unarmed and unwilling to protect themselves, they will only attract looters and rabble from the city to the area. Neighbors can help protect and reinforce each other. You also must be psychologically prepared to protect yourself and your family. If you cannot afford to buy your own place, you are going to have to find somewhere to go, ahead of time. Do you have any relatives that live in the country or small communities? How about friends? If not, can you make some friends that do? You could buy a gun vault to keep in their house. If all else fails, I guess you could retreat to public land, but I wouldn't rate your chances very good. You would have to pick out a place to bury your supplies at, and hope nobody finds them. Not too good of a bet. Never retreat alone. Looters are much more likely to attack individuals than groups. One person can't stay on watch for 24 hrs/day.
Buy an army pack, camouflaged combat clothing, hiking boots, and military web carrying equipment for each member of the family to keep at home in the city. Hopefully, you will get out of town soon enough to drive to your retreat, but be prepared to walk all or part of the way if that's what it takes. Keep enough weapons, ammo and survival gear to get you there.Your heavier weapons, and the bulk of your ammo and survival gear should be stored at your retreat.
Don't plan on being able to drive to your retreat by the regular highway route. Go to a map store and buy the US Geological Topographic Survey maps covering every area you drive through to get there, plus the general areas around your retreat. Also buy county maps of every county you have to pass through. Now you will have to drive to your retreat on back roads, using these maps. Use as many roads as possible that don't show up on your state highway map. You'll likely find that these roads will take longer, but they'll get you there, while avoiding populated areas. Traffic will be light because only those prepared as well as you will be able to find them or know where they go. Mark your routes with a high liter. Note possible hazards along the way. These might be routes near military bases, prisons, low water crossings, rivers prone to flooding, etc. Write down the road numbers as you go, for some county maps show the roads but not the numbers. Take different routes in different kinds of weather. Mark"holding-up" places for car repairs, meeting friends or relatives on the way, etc. When you get your maps marked like you want, coat them with a waterproofing compound. This also makes the paper tougher and less prone to tear at the folds.
Now to the guns............
Rifles are the backbone of your survival battery. However, every adult member of your group must have a pistol because it can always be by your side. Whenever visiting the retreat, all members should wear their pistols so as to get familiar with them and used to carrying them. Do some shooting each time, too. When it comes to survival pistols, forget about revolvers. They don't hold enough shells, are too slow to reload, too heavy, and are open to dirt. Also, it is hard to replace parts in them if they break. Semi-automatic pistols are a must! Preferably the new ones with high capacity, double column or staggered magazines. The smallest caliber you should consider is 9mm. I am of the school of thought that "bigger is better," so I prefer the slow moving .45 ACP cartridge. Others think the faster, but smaller 9mm is better. No one can prove which one is best, so select the one you like. In between calibers are.38 Super Auto, .40 S&W, and 10mm, the most common (and easiest to find) being .40. In my experience, the Glock pistols are by far the best choice. They are very light because of the plastic receiver (frame) they have. Even so, they are about the strongest pistol on the market. The factory not only allows, but recommends that you shoot a steady diet of hot submachine ammo in them. They say that their pistols will handle any cartridge currently manufactured in the world that is the proper caliber.That's a far cry from S&W and other brands of light alloy frame pistols, which you have to call the factory first to see it they will handle the hot loads. Many models are not capable of handling hot loads. Since the Glock has a plastic frame, it cannot rust. The barrel, slide and the parts are coated with a black substance that will not come or wear off, with a hardness second only to diamonds. The pistols are highly reliable and very accurate, but moderately priced. They all have high capacity magazines. Spend the extra $100 or so, and get the nuclear powered night sights. These are a must. You can fire accurately at a target at night if you can only see the silhouette of it. They turn it into an effective 24 hour weapon instead of a daytime weapon. These are well worth the money. If you already have a Glock without night sights, send it back to the factory and have them installed. Whatever kind of pistol you settle on, get one of the Bianchi UM84 or UM92 nylon military holsters to attach to your GI pistol belt. If budget restrictions apply, a leather US Army flap holster will do. Get one or two double magazine pouches to attach to your web gear and fill them with spare magazines. Glocks cost around $500+ without the night sights. If you can't afford this, look at the Chinese Norinco 1911 type .45 pistol. For around $200 they have a 9mm Tokarov pistol which works ok. For a little more, you can get a Tokarov with a staggered (high capacity) magazine. There are many Eastern European companies that offer inexpensive pistols. In my opinion, it is no use looking at pistols more expensive than the Glocks. They can't do anything the Glock won't do as well, or probably better. Get at least 3 or more extra magazines for each pistol. That way, you can carry 2 loaded in a belt pouch and have a 3rd to rotate so that they all don't stay loaded all the time and eventually weaken the springs. You also might damage or lose one. I would establish a goal to eventually stock 500 rounds at the retreat for each pistol. A bare minimum per gun should be 250 rounds Don't shy away from 750+ rounds/gun. Extra ammo can always be used to barter with your neighbors. In semi auto pistols, only ball ammo (full metal jacket) should be used initially. Fire the pistols 100-200 rounds to break them in. After that, you can experiment with hollow point ammo if you desire. It will function in some autos, and not others. Be sure you fire 100-200 rounds of hollow point in your pistol without any jams before you depend on it. Learn well how to take your pistol apart so you can keep it cleaned and oiled.
All weapons have their strong points as well as their limitations. Always utilize your weapons to maximize their effectiveness. The following gives an example of suggested weapon usage versus range:
0 - 50 yards: Riot Shotgun with 12 gauge buckshot. Out to 100yds with slugs.
50 - 300 yards: .223 (5.56mm) - AR-15, .223 Galil 7.62x39mm - SKS, AK
300 - 800 yards: .308 (7.62x45mm) - M1A, HK91, FN-FAL, .308 Galil 30-06 - M1 Garand, '03 Springfield 8mm (7.92mm) - Mauser, FN-49 303 British Enfield
The riot shotgun (barrel 20" or less) is an extremely devastating weapon out to 50 yards Pump shotguns are cheap ($250.00), so purchase plenty of them. Out to 300 yards the .223 is flat shooting and fast shooting. It's ideal to repulse a typical assault at medium ranges. Beyond 300 yards the .308 battle rifle is vastly superior in accuracy and effectiveness. With scopes, you can engage the enemy long before they can return accurate fire. Automatic weapons may be of questionable value for survival use. It is unlikely that you will have to repel an assault that cannot be handled by accurate semi-auto fire. If your budget allows automatic weapons, go light on the submachine guns, but do have them fitted with sound suppressors (silencers). Of more use would probably be the 1918-A2 BAR or the FN-FALO squad support machine rifle. A Browning 1919-A4 belt-fed machine gun might be of use mounted on a tripod or in the back of a pickup on a vehicle pedestal mount. If you use these, remember to stock plenty of ammo! Silenced .22 rifles and pistols might be of some use in taking out sentries quietly, or for hunting small game without drawing attention. About half the states allow ownership of suppressors and machine guns. If you live in a qualifying state, find a Class 3 dealer in your area. There is a $200 tax on each item, and they must be Federally registered. In 1989, George Bush banned the import of modern infantry rifles by Presidential decree. Those such as the HK91, FN-FAL, Galil, Styer AUG, AK,and others are no longer being imported. The ones previously imported and sold now bring premium prices of $1500-$2500 each. Recently, foreign manufacturers have modified the guns to make them "sporters." They now have "thumbhole" target stocks. Basically, this is accomplished by adding material the stock to connect the bottom of the pistol grip with the rear of the stock, leaving a hole for your wrist to fit in. Reports from people having used them are favorable. Some say they get a more stable hold with this modification, only they look a little funny. The bayonet lug has been removed, being of little consequence. They are fitted with 5 round magazines, but the old 20, 30 and 40 round magazines are still being imported and will fit these new rifles. However, legislation has been proposed to stop the import of these larger magazines. Flash hiders have also been removed, with creates more flash, but at the same time reduces the muzzle blast for the position of the shooter. The only domestically manufactured infantry rifles are the Colt AR-15 and the M1A. The AR-15 is the semi-automatic counterpart to the M-16 rifle, and the M1A is the civilian counterpart to the M-14 .308 automatic rifle.
Buy plenty of shotguns! Pump shotguns are by far the best because they are the most durable and less prone to jam than semi-autos. They are simple to operate. A 20" barrel is the best. It's short enough to fire easily from a vehicle and it's fast to swing from target to target. The legal minimum barrel length under Federal law is 18", but that increases the muzzle blast significantly. Don't saw one off to a shorter length because it's a 2nd degree Federal felony punishable by 10 years and $10,000. Also, you lose your choke at the end of the barrel, which may throw off your patterns. The only reason for a shorter barrel would be for hiding under a trench coat, combined with a folding stock. If you must go this route, buy it legally from a Class 3 dealer and make sure you get it with an interchangeable choke tube. The chokes on most 18" and 20" riot shotguns is cylinder bore, meaning it's about the same size opening as the shell. This is really not the best, as with 0 buck or 00 buck, you will typically only get about 2 solid hits and one "nick" on a silhouette target at 50 yards A few companies, like Remington, sell deer hunting shotguns with 20" barrels that are choked improved cylinder, or some even have interchangeable choke tubes. I think improved cylinder is about the best compromise between large patterns and pattern density, so try to pick one of these up. Always test your shotgun patterns on paper silhouette targets to see how far your effective range extends. Shotguns typically hold about 4 rounds in the tubular magazine, with the plug removed. If at all possible, purchase an extension magazine tube from an aftermarket source. Chote Machine makes the best one for Remington's and Winchesters. This is the brand the FBI, State Dept., etc. uses. They increase magazine capacity to 7 rounds with a 20" barrel, and 6 rounds with an 18" barrel. Most currently manufactured shotguns come standard with 3" chambers, but I would not pay extra for them. The 2.75" shells are preferable in my opinion. Most companies offer a "combo" package, with a riot barrel and a longer barrel for bird hunting. The best way to learn how to use your riot gun is to take it out in the woods hunting, extensively. You can take deer, javalena, turkey and other vermin with it. Take it dove hunting, especially if you have an improved cylinder barrel. Use at least 1.25 oz shot loads. If you have a cylinder bore gun, you might have to load up your own birdshot for it. You'll have to reload heavy duck loads, like one and three-eights oz of shot to get a dense enough pattern for anything but short range. Doing this is going to make it kick, but so is using buckshot.....and that's what you bought it for!
Medium Range "Assault" Rifles
Colt AR-15 (.223):
By far, the best bet on .223 rifles is the Colt AR-15, or any of the aftermarket copies. Here's several important reasons why:
1) Domestically manufactured, therefore cheaper than an import. Price is around $1600+. Good used ones can be had for even less.
2) The M-16 is current issue military. That means that magazines and spare parts are cheap and readily available. You should be able to find them at most any gun show
.3) They are durable and battle tested every where from the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Iraq. The jamming problems of the late '60s and early '70s have long ago been worked out.
4) Easy to operate and extremely fast to reload.
5) Accurate and light weight. The AR-15 SP-1 (most likely to find used) is no longer made, but had a 1x12 rifling twist. This causes the bullet to tend to turn sideways (keyhole) after it strikes flesh, a desirable trait. However, at shorter ranges (maybe 0-50 yards) the bullets tend to just zip straight through with minimal stopping power. The older M193 type 55 grain bullets work best in it. The only modification desirable on the SP-1 is to purchase a quality round AR-15 A2 front handguard and replace the tapered one that comes with the gun. Make sure it has the stainless steel heat shields in it. After that, came the AR-15 A2. It has a 1x7, or even worse a 1x9 barrel twist. Though 55 grain bullets can be used in it, it was designed for a 65 grain bullet, which the military now uses. There is less chance that the bullet will keyhole after it hits. The plus side is that they are supposed to have a little more power and accuracy out to a little bit longer range. All but the very first A2 models have the rear sight drum adjustable for elevation out to 800 yards, which is of dubious value. The newest model is the Colt Sporter. This is exactly the same as the AR-15 A2, only they changed the name after the import ban. This is a light caliber (.223), therefore extensive use should be made of soft-point ammo. I'll make a drastic difference on personnel. All these rifles take a standard scope quite easily with an inexpensive mount. The current issue military ammunition magazine for the M16 (also fits AR-15) holds 30 rounds. There aren't many Colt magazines around for a reasonable price, but military contract manufacturers are. The military used to use 20 rd magazines. Get some of these because they work much better when firing from a prone position! The 20 rounders may cost as much or more than the 30 rounders. The 5 rd magazines that come with the new Colt guns can be converted to 20 round by drilling out the rivets in the floor plate and removing the spacer inside the magazine.
Ruger Mini-14 (.223)
I avoid this rifle like the plague! While the AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 automatic assault rifle, the Mini-14 is a light sporting rifle, best suited for the 5 round magazine it comes with! Most of them can't take the heat of rapid fire, the groups open up to several feet, as opposed to several inches with the AR-15. Some shoot ok, but you have to take them out and test fire them to be sure. AR-15's always work. Many Mini-14's are prone to slight jamming, like the bolt not closing all the way, sometimes. Just enough to get you killed! Even if you get hold of a good one, magazines cost more and you can forget finding spare parts cheap at a gun show. If you can't afford an AR-15, then avoid the cheaper Mini and get a $300.00 Chinese SKS instead. At least it's a real infantry rifle. When looters assault my retreat, I hope they all have Mini-14's!
Chinese SKS 7.62x39
It has a folding bayonet mounted on it and cost about $350. This is the cheapest infantry rifle you can get. It has a 10 round built-in magazine, which loads from 10 round stripper clips inserted from the top of the bolt. There are no expensive magazines to buy. For about $40 you can get a 20 round built-in magazine to replace the 10 round with. Just be sure to keep your old 10 rounder because the 20 rounder sticks out more and is prone to getting bent! Ammo is super-cheap. Try to find an ammunition chest pouch for it, which holds about 200 rounds in stripper clips. If you are making preparations on a tight budget, get plenty of SKS's. If you already have a battery of expensive guns, get some SKS's too. You might have some unarmed friends or relatives show up at your retreat. These are great "burying rifles." Like the AK, they group a little wider than most Western infantry rifles, but they are reliable and made to take the heat of sustained fire. Many come in with the sights off zero, so it's a good idea to buy a sight adjustment tool for the front sight, one that will adjust both elevation and windage.
Chinese AK 7.62x39
These are being imported again with thumbhole stocks, selling for about $475. They will take the 30 round magazine, or the 75 round drum. They provide more firepower than the SKS and don't cost a lot more. The model of this rifle is MAK 90. Norinco also offers an AK Sporter. This rifle has a traditional hunting stock and no pistol grip. It is imported with a 5 round magazine, but of course accepts all the various AK magazines. It has a forged steel receiver like the original AK-47, before the sheet metal receiver AKS and AKM came out. That means it is a couple of pounds heavier than the other AK's. It also might be more accurate, as the sheet metal receiver tends to warp just a little bit every time a round is fired. When considering AK vs. SKS, keep in mind that it's just about impossible to fire an AK from the prone position with a 30 round magazine attached. However, you can buy 5 round and 20 round magazines for the AK. The price of 30 round magazines is $40 or so.
Bolt Action Scoped Hunting Rifles
If you already have some of these they can be used for long range sniping, especially if they are chambered for flatter shooting calibers than .308. If you don't have any, just put scopes on your .308 battle rifles for hunting and sniping.
Make a mental note of the following BAD example: Two men on patrol and hunting outside the retreat area, both armed with scoped bolt action hunting rifles in 30-06 and .308. While stalking game they are suddenly confronted by three parasites armed with Sears Roebuck .22 automatic rifles. Though they may drop one, or even two of them with their first shots, bolt action hunting rifles are slow and impractical at close range. The chances of surviving even such a basic and simple confrontation are remote. The .22, while lacking in power, is deadly if you are hit with enough of them. Moral to this story: Always have at least 50% of your patrol armed with light assault rifles. The remainder should be armed with heavy assault rifles (.30 cal), or shotguns. In this manner, you can protect yourself as well as hunt for deer, elk, squirrel,birds, etc.
Types Of Attack
Mel Tappen, in his book "Survival Guns" (1976) lists the 4 most common types of attacks to expect:
1) Exposed Attack - This will probably be the most common type of attack. Looters and other rabble simply rush your position with little coordination or accurate firing. If you have chosen and prepared your defensive position well, and are SUITABLY ARMED, you should expect to defeat a force TEN or more times your strength. Your sentries or scouts should give ample warning of the impending attack.
2) The Stealth Blitz - One of the most dangerous forms of attack to the defenders. The attacking force, which may be quite small, uses the cover of darkness to sneak up and over-power your sentries. Simultaneous entry is made at several different points. This type of attack may be successfully defended against by alert sentries and adequate warning systems.
3) Fire Blitz - This is probably the most dangerous form of attack to the defenders. The only viable response is frequently to escape your dwelling via a hidden and hopefully secure means. This type of attack occurs when a usually superior force surrounds your retreat and simultaneously fire bombs it, and hoses it with automatic weapons fire. The only possible defense is to have a clear field of fire in all directions to prevent the enemy from approaching your position and/or remote controlled anti-personnel explosive charges that may be detonated from inside the retreat.
4) Scouting Attack - A small advance party is sent ahead of the main body of attackers to test the strength of the defenders By exposing themselves to your fire, they will attempt to determine the range and depth of your defensive fire. It your defenses are reasonably strong, a viable response may be to respond only with deliberately ineffective fire (shotguns, pistols, .22 rim fire, etc.) in an attempt to lure the main body into a frontal assault. If your retreat location has enough members, some should stay outside the compound at all times. When you are attacked, they can snipe at the attackers or attack their rear. ALWAYS have a pack loaded for each person, in case you group has to take to the woods in the case of overwhelming attacking forces. Most survival food and gear should be buried in the woods in caches.
Draw A Line
To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question! As you watch a group of strangers approach your retreat, an important decision must be made. Militarily, you do not want to allow any strangers to approach and enter your retreat. To do so would compromise and weaken the effectiveness of your defense. As the group approaches, you should have established a "dead line" beyond which no one may approach without securing permission. Anyone that is so warned and refuses to heed your warning MUST BE treated as an enemy.
Spare Gun Parts
For each gun you should have at least a spare extractor and extractor spring. Also a firing pin and firing pin spring should be purchased. A broken cartridge case extractor can make the difference between getting your rifle back into action quickly, or having to trash it. It's good to have many more parts for your guns, especially those which are inexpensive and easily obtainable, such as AR-15 (M16) parts, M14, M1 Garand and Colt .45 auto parts. For the AR-15, you should have a spare bolt, as the bolt will eventually crack after many thousands of rounds are fired. Spare triggers, hammers, selectors, etc. should be stocked. These parts don't usually wear out, but they can break if they happen to have a fault in the steel. Extra springs are essential, as they can be easily broken or lost. A set of 3 gas rings for the piston part of the bolt are needed, as these wear out eventually. Especially prone to breakage are the cotter key that retains the firing pin. Get plenty of these. An extra magazine catch might not be a bad idea. Don't even bother to get a military type assault rifle, unless you purchase at least 10 magazines. You may not be able to carry this many loaded magazines, but you can sure use them in a defensive position. Also, you can use them for replacements when your others get bent or lost.
My opinion of minimum ammunition stocks would be 300 rounds per pistol. Each semi-automatic rifle should have at least 1,000 stored away for it. If budget permits, get 5,000+ rounds per rifle. Most of the ammo will probably be military ball ammo (full metal jacket). You might allow some expanding ammo for the pistols, like Remington's Golden Saber or Federal Hydroshock which can be expensive. For the .308 rifles you will need some soft-point hunting ammo for deer and such. Expanding bullets against personnel are dramatically effective, so if you can afford some for that, that's fine. However, .30 caliber ball ammo is pretty effective against personnel, as that's what wars are fought with. It usually keyholes when it hits. The .223 round is so light that it is a real good idea to purchase as much soft-point or hollow-point as you can. Fill in with military ball ammo.
The only way to go with 7.62x39 ammo is Norinco Chinese ball. This is the cheapest ammo you can buy, except for .22 rim fire. Stock it away by the case. They also came out with a steel jacketed soft-point. I don't know if it really expands, or not, due to it's steel jacket. I have not had the opportunity to shoot any game with it. If it works, its a real steal, at prices only about 40% over the price of ball. For .308 ammo, buy Chinese or European surplus by the case. You should be able to find it for $300/1k. The only problem with 30-06 ammo is that it is the most expensive of all these. Buckshot ranges in size from #4 buck to #000 buck. I prefer the larger sizes, #0, #00, and #000. It has more penetration because the pellets are heavier. It comes packed in 250 round cases, and costs around $400 per case, if you can find a good deal. If you can find a place to order it for yourself (I don't know if there are any), you might get it for $250 per case. Also, consider reloading buckshot. Usually, only the larger gun stores carry buckshot pellets in the 25 lb. bags. The so called "magnum" buckshot just has a few more pellets, making the shot charge heavier. But, it also moves at a slower velocity, meaning less penetration. I prefer the regular high velocity buckshot instead of the magnum. The magnum is considerably more expensive.
Whatever you do, be prepared for any contingencies for you never know what the future will bring and you must be ready.