Copyright © April 2, 2014 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
If you do not already own a rifle and a handgun then now would be a good time to seriously consider making this investment. If you visit a variety of different websites then you will quickly discover that almost every website has multiple firearm recommendations. Each firearm is reviewed based on its strengths and weaknesses and the types of situations in which it would be appropriate. In a very short period of time the amount of information on firearms can quickly become overwhelming. This makes it extremely difficult for someone to make an informed choice that would be appropriate for his or her specific circumstances. Therefore please allow me to summarize this topic based on what I have recommended in several of my firearm articles over a period of many, many years.
The following recommendations are based on the firearm laws in the area in which you live.
No Type of Firearm is Permitted
If you live in an area that prohibits its honest law-abiding citizens from owning any type of firearm then you should consider the purchase of a crossbow and at least 50 bolts, or a longbow and at least 50 arrows, if these bows are legal in your area.
- Crossbow: A crossbow must be cocked and a bolt inserted before it can be fired. Depending on the crossbow this can take 20 to 30 seconds.
- Longbow: A longbow simply needs to have an arrow inserted against the bowstring, and then aimed and fired. With practice this can be done in about 8 seconds. More information about longbows is on my website here.
Only Some Types of Firearms are Permitted
Some areas prohibit its honest law-abiding citizens from owning modern firearms, but some of these areas do allow its citizens to legally own one or more of the following types of firearms:
- Antique Firearms: Firearms manufactured in or before 1898 are classified as antiques in some areas and they are exempt from some firearm laws. If antiques are legal in your area then I suggest that you search for an antique bolt-action rifle and an antique revolver.
- Black Powder Firearms: If antique firearms are not legal in your area but black powder firearms are legal then I recommend that you carefully evaluate the different types of black powder rifles that are available and that you purchase at least one of them for your family. I also recommend that you search for a black powder revolver. More information about black powder firearms is on my website here.
- Pellet Rifles: If your area prohibits Antique Firearms and Black Powder Firearms then if may still allow its citizens to own pellet rifles. If pellet rifles are legal in your area then I recommend that you purchase a high quality 22 caliber pellet rifle. Be prepared to spend $300 or more for a "high quality" pellet rifle. You should also purchase a good scope and at least 5,000 rounds of 22 caliber pellets, either pointed or hollow points. More information about pellet rifles is on my website here.
Most Modern Centerfire Firearms are Permitted
If you live in an area that allows its honest law-abiding citizens to own modern centerfire firearms then I recommend the following:
Caliber of Ammunition: One very important issue in firearm selection that should not be compromised (unless you have some extremely good reasons) is that the firearm should use a caliber of ammunition that is very common and easy to obtain. During a long-term hard times event ammunition may become scarce and extremely difficult to acquire. However, common caliber ammunition has a much better chance of being available for a lot longer than any caliber that is a special caliber or that has very low historical sales. Examples of common caliber ammunition are the 22LR, 7.62x39, 7.62x51 (308), 40 S&W, and 45 ACP (or 45 auto but not the 45 GAP). The 380 caliber that the Ruger LCP requires is not a common caliber. Therefore a person would have to have some very good reasons to purchase any firearm that shoots the 380 caliber. Those reasons were listed above for the Ruger LCP as a concealed carry pistol.
- Handgun: My first choice in a handgun would be a Glock Model 22 with a 15 round magazine that shoots the 40 caliber bullet. This is the same handgun that the overwhelming vast majority of law enforcement officers in the United States select as their primary sidearm. These men and women are intelligent individuals and they know that their lives may occasionally depend on their handgun selection. The Glock handgun is an exceptionally high quality firearm, it is very reliable, and the 40 caliber bullet has an impressive law enforcement history of being an effective man stopper. The 40 caliber bullet (40 S&W) generates a reasonable and controllable amount of recoil so it is also an accurate firearm. My second choice in a handgun would be a Glock Model 21SF (SF = Slim Frame) with a 13 round magazine that shoots the 45 caliber bullet (45 ACP or 45 Auto but not the 45 GAP). The 45 caliber bullet also has an impressive law enforcement history that is almost identical to the 40 caliber bullet. However, the hand grip of the Model 21SF is 1/4 inch greater in circumference than the Model 22 and this makes it more challenging for a person with a smaller hand to comfortably grasp. The recoil of the 45 caliber bullet is also more than the 40 caliber bullet and this makes it more challenging for many individuals to shoot accurately. One very important consideration in the selection of a handgun is that it should feel comfortable in your hand when you hold it. If you are the only person in your family who can comfortably grip and shoot a 45 pistol, and if you should become incapacitated for any reason, then nobody else in your family would be able to use your 45 for effective defense or protection. Regardless of which Glock model you purchase you should install an internal laser sight made by LaserMax. You should also invest in a holster that has a second magazine compartment permanently attached to the holster. Finally, if you can afford it, you should invest in 1,000 rounds of ammunition for your handgun. More information about laser sights is on my website here.
- Concealed Carry: My first choice for a concealed carry handgun would be the Ruger LCP that fires the 380 caliber ammunition. I strongly suggest that you install a Crimson Trace laser sight on this pistol. The laser sight is automatically activated when you grip the pistol in your hand. The reasons I suggest this specific pistol are: it is an exceptionally high quality very reliable semi-automatic 6 shot pistol, it is relatively flat (less than 3/4 inch) which means it can fit into your pants' pocket without creating the normal silhouette outline of a gun, it is very light weight even when fully loaded (12 ounces), and it fires a 380 caliber bullet which is very similar to the 9mm bullet. I also recommend that you install the finger extension on the bottom of the 6 round magazine to make the pistol more comfortable to grip and to shoot accurately. Also purchase at least 500 rounds of hollow point ammunition for this pistol. More information about concealed carry firearms is on my website here.
- Rifle for Hunting and Self-Defense: My first choice in a rifle would depend on where I lived. If I lived in an area where the vast majority of my shooting would be done in areas where the normal visibility was 200 yards or less then I would invest in an AK-47 that shoots the 7.62x39 bullet. This bullet has a normal average trajectory of plus 1.5 inches at 110 yards and minus 1.5 inches at 175 yards (3 inch total circle) and it is lethal out to 240 yards. (Note: If possible, purchase an AK-47 with a folding rear stock that will fold over against the side of the rifle, and a black plastic front hand grip instead of a wood front hand grip. If you own an AK-47 with wood parts then the wood can be replaced with black parts that are available on the internet.) If I lived in an area where the vast majority of my shooting would be done in areas where the normal visibility was more than 200 yards then I would invest in an AR-10, or a Springfield Armory M1A, that shoots the 7.62x51 bullet (308 caliber). This bullet has a normal average trajectory of plus 3 inches at 125 yards and minus 3 inches at 260 yards (6 inch total circle) and it is lethal out to 600 yards. I strongly recommend that you add a sling and a good scope to your rifle using see-through scope mounts. The scope mount has a significant impact on the stability and reliability of your scope so I recommend a mount that has four screws on each mount that holds the scope to the mount (total of eight mounting screws on both mounts). You can buy good scopes for less than $100. If you can afford it then you can spend more on a scope but my opinion is that most people will find that a scope that cost between $40 to $100 will perform very well for all their shooting. Finally, if you can afford it, you should invest in 1,000 rounds of ammunition for your rifle.
Please consult and obey the hunting laws in your area. Most areas have laws that limit the maximum magazine capacity of a hunting rifle to five rounds. This would mean that you may need to purchase a special limited capacity magazine for your rifle, or you will need to disassemble one of your magazines and install a block (wood, metal, or plastic) in the bottom part of the magazine so that no more than five rounds can be inserted into the magazine. Then reassemble the magazine and verify that it works correctly.
- 22 Caliber Semi-Automatic Rifle: My first choice in a 22 rifle would be the Ruger Model 10/22 with detachable 10-round magazine. If you can afford it then purchase a 10/22 with a stainless steel barrel rifle. My second choice in a 22 rifle would be the very affordable Savage Arms Model 64F semi-automatic rifle with detachable 10-round magazine. Regardless of your rifle choice buy some extra magazines. Install a sling and a reasonable quality scope ($30 to $60) on your 22LR rifle using see-through scope mounts. You should purchase at least 5,000 rounds of 22LR ammunition for your rifle.
- Shotgun: I have not recommended a shotgun in the past and I do not recommend one to a new shooter. However, if you wish to purchase a shotgun then I strongly suggest a semi-automatic shotgun such as the Beretta 1200FP, or the Beretta 1201FP, or the Benelli Super 90.
Other Necessary Items: You will also need gun cleaning kits, a gunsmith screwdriver set, patches, solvent, and oil. More information about solvent and oil is on my website here.
I don't mind if you disagree with the above suggestions and you purchase something entirely different. You are an adult and you have the right to make whatever firearm choices you believe would be best for your family and your particular situation. However, please allow me to caution you against believing everything you read about firearms. It is relatively easy to make a very convincing argument for almost any type of firearm in any caliber if the person only focuses on the strong points of that firearm and that caliber, and neglects to mention the shortcomings of that firearm or that caliber. Before you make a firearm choice you should learn as much as you can about the firearm including all of its potential shortcomings. Regardless of your choice in firearms you should learn all the firearm safety rules and you should consistently use your firearm safely and correctly.
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