I would like to start off by saying this is in no way the end all be all on firearms. Although I served as a squad leader in the Iraq War I do not consider myself an expert on firearms I am merely presenting my opinion based on my experiences. A lot of prior research needs to be done before you make a purchase. I am setting forth a guide to help you get started. Hopefully this will keep you from wasting money on firearms that are impractical for your purposes. There are many different types of firearms and just because one works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. Don’t let me convince you to go one way or another on a firearm purchase I only want you to consider your options and stay diverse in an uncertain world.
With that being said, it’s important to realize that a firearm is not only a weapon but also a tool. A dangerous tool and it’s important to get proper training before using any weapon for the first time. I have narrowed down four basic types of firearms. The specific maker and model is up to you.
The four types of firearms as a bare minimum that I consider essential are a pistol, a center fire rifle, a .22 LR, and a shotgun. These four types of firearms give you the most diversity as well as options.
The type of pistol you choose is largely dependent on your general purposes. I suggest a pistol that is comfortable to fire as well as carry. Whether you are finding one for concealed carry or just for home protection it is important that you are able to holster and wear that pistol if the need should arise. If you are fairly new to firearms I recommend one that is easy to disassemble and clean. If you need something more light weight a polymer frame may be what you want but its not always necessary. Caliber is a personal preference. Personally I think anything above a .45 ACP is not necessary and even a .45 can be too bulky for some. The .40 S&W is often carried by police officers and government officials and ammunition is easier to find than the .45. As of the time of this writing 9mm Parabellum is the easiest and cheapest ammunition to find but don’t let this be the determining factor. Try out as many as you can before you buy. Often times there are many different varieties you can rent at ranges. I do not recommend anything smaller than a .380 for personal defense. Smaller pistol frames are easier to conceal but you will usually suffer in range. A larger frame pistol will usually be more accurate but you may be less likely to carry it, especially in the summer. A pistol is designed to carry when a rifle is impractical or illegal to carry. So choose one that is practical for you.
Having been developed in the early 1700′s the shotgun is still by far the most diverse firearm made today. If you only own one firearm let it be a shotgun. I prefer a slide action most commonly referred to as a pump, holding from 3 to 5 shells. In my opinion from hunting to sport shooting to home defense you can’t find a better all around firearm. You also have a choice of semi automatic and break action although they are both outstanding designs when it comes to hunting, I find them less appealing in the home defense realm. You will also need to consider longer and shorter barrels, some threaded and some smooth as well as the ability to change your choke size depending on the type of shooting you are doing. A choke offers you the ability to alter the diameter of the muzzle altering the pattern. For home defense a shotgun can make aiming a little easier under pressure and when using buck shot you are less likely to send rounds flying into the neibors house. The down side is there can be a lot of kick and low ammunition capacity. With that being said my wife has no problem shooting a 12 gauge, it’s all about form. There are many different sizes of shotguns 12 and 20 gauge will be the most common and while I have nothing against a 20 gauge I would avoid trying to hunt big game with it. When considering a shotgun you will also need to consider what size shells it can receive. Some will take multiple sizes like 2 ½ inch to 3 inch and even the 3 ½ inch. You need to be sure you understand what size is needed for your application. Typically the larger the shell the more firepower but NEVER load a round that is the incorrect size for your weapon.
.22 Long Rifle
If you are going to own only two firearms I cant recommend highly enough the .22 LR. This is the only category I will recommend a specific firearm and that is the infamous Ruger 10-22. Semiautomatic, reliable, upgradeable, light weight, magazine fed, and very comfortable to shoot. Whether you choose the 10-22 or not is up to you and if you don’t care for it don’t get one but I urge you to consider the versatility of the .22 LR not to mention they are a lot of fun to shoot. A box a 500 rounds will only run you about $18 to $20. They can be exceptional accurate and with that kind of price for ammo you should be able to get in plenty of range time. The.22 LR is great for small game hunting. Of course you need to check with your local laws whenever hunting. A .22 LR is great for introducing children, beginners, and even the veteran shooter.
High powered, diverse, and lethal the rifle will broaden your abilities in a time of need. Rifle refers to the grooves inside the barrel called rifling, which will help to increase your range by setting the bullet into a rotation. A rifle can be used for home defense as well as big game hunting (where permitted by law). When it comes to home defense a rifle would not be my first choice due to potential risks of overpenatration. They tend to have a lot of power and with children it can be very dangerous but when the occasion arises nothing will replace it. With a rifle always consider what is behind your target. When shopping for a rifle as with all firearms find something that is comfortable to use and in a caliber to your liking. You must consider many different options bolt action, lever action, semi-auto, magazine fed, rates of fire, and so on and so forth. More than I could ever mention here. All this goes back to whether you are wanting an extremely accurate long range weapon or something that will put a lot of rounds down range very quickly or even a little of both. There has always been a lot of debate in the prepper community as to what rifle is “better” all around.. I won’t even go into it. My aim here is to give you the tools and let you do the specific research.
Some things to consider with any firearm.
- Customization. Will you be able to change or upgrade things like grips, triggers, barrels, sights, etc.
- Caliber size as well as powder load will effect your velocity. A bigger round does not necessarily mean more stopping power.
- Penetration should be considered when purchasing your firearm as well as ammunition.
- Recoil will influence the speed and accuracy of follow up shots. This is one reason why most the US military uses the smaller 5.56.
- Understand the difference between a full metal jacket and a jacketed hollow point and everything in between. Points to consider are velocity, depth of penetration, and permanent and temporary cavity.
- When you shop for a firearm don’t let the know it all dealer at the desk decide for you what you need. They may have some very helpful opinions but remember you will be the one using it not them.
- Join the NRA. The NRA does an exceptional job at preserving our rights to bear arms as well as offering many different tools to educate and get the qualification you desire. (International readers need to raise awareness and develop an alternative. The right to bear arms is a human right and without it you will not have the liberty you deserve.)
Important Safety Rules
1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
2. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you intend to fire.
3. Never point any weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
4. Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire.
5. Know your target and what lies beyond.
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