Firearms for Catastrophic Disasters

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Introduction: Firearms for Catastrophic Disasters

The Shepherd School, and the tngun.com website were originally designed strictly for firearm training, we did it that way on purpose, because at that time, I felt it was my calling to help train citizen to be able to protect themselves and their families from predators (mostly the two legged kind).  At that time I was still working in the prison and the reality that evil exists was constantly being shown to me.  Now that I work in emergency management, I have a softened approach, and see the other side of people working together to help each other also exists.  I also find that people have the capacity to deal with hardship in either generous and positive ways or negative violent ways depending on the situation and the resources they have available. 


Prepping, and living the prepper lifestyle is now starting to become more popular, just like the old “back to the land movements”, but survivalism and survivalists still carry negative connotations.  I don’t understand this as they are basically the same thing.  People that take extra time to build additional resources and skills as a safety blanket or insurance policy.  This idea was recently discussed on an email group I belong to.  Basically they said that a “prepper” WAS a “survivalist without the guns”.   I tend to agree with that, since to me I don’t care as much WHY I’m stuck in a disaster and to the fact THAT I’m stuck in a disaster.

One thing I am adamant about in the disaster prep world is that anyone that has all guns and no food is setting themselves up for murder…  I will say that again.  Anyone that believes that a large scale disaster is possible and takes time to prepare for it, and does so solely by buying firearms and ammunition is either consciously or unconsciously stating that if the manure ever flies they are going to use their guns to take food from people without guns.  Those people are the reason people like me spend money on weapon preps. 

Personally, I love guns, but at this stage I would rather buy a $500 country living grain mill, or a $600 honey extractor than another AR-15 upper.

But that’s because its our households theory to prepare in depth and balanced.  We don’t have top of the line anything until we have quality everything…  Meaning, you first have to have 72 hours of gear, food, light, heat, first aid, and defense – Get the bare basics.  Then get a month of gear – better quality.   I’m not going to spend 4 or 5 grand on a Generation 4 night vision scope to sit on a $3000 dollar M-14 rifle if the only food I have is two cases of Ramen noodles.  However, I am not going to try to protect a year supply of freeze dried food with a whistle and a rubber slingshot either.

That being said, weapons – especially firearms, do have a place in a prepper’s lifestyle.  But these firearms need to be chosen with the same care we spend on making sure we get the best quality storage food for our money.  We have to compare quality, price, our needs, our wants, and all the added costs to get a firearm that works in our program.

To me the most important aspect of a gun is reliability.  I know that if I have to use my firearm in a emergency it’s a BAD DAY, and since the statistical probability of a BAD DAY is low, I don’t want to tempt Murphy with a firearm that cannot shoot 3 rounds in a row on the range without a malfunction.  Get a gun that goes bang every time with NO exceptions.  Cool guns with neat little stories or exotic ammunition is cool to show your buddies, but a disaster gun needs to be practical and reliable.

The next is that it needs to shoot ammunition that is common.  That means something you can get at the local hardware store or wal-mart.  Adoption by our military or police is also a good sign that it is a common round.  That means 22lr, .38 spl, 9mm, .40, or .45 acp, 12 guage, .223, .308, 30-06 and the like.  We can debate all day long that 10mm or .38 super is the best round for handguns, or that nothing beats a .35 whelen for hunting big game , but if you cannot find any ammunition then your firearm is a un-ergonomic club.

It needs to be big enough to do the job, that means at least .38 in a handgun, and .223 in a rifle, and some would consider these to be marginal.  While it is true that nobody likes to bleed, and a .22 can kill, I don’t want to have to face off a desperate and starving biker gang with a .22 pistol.

It needs to be cheap enough that you can afford to fit it in your budget, along with ammunition, needed accessories, and training.  While I pine over a Barrett M98, it costs more than my last two cars, rounds cost about $2 a shot, and I don’t have a single place to fire it.  I don’t own any truck or any gun I am afraid to get muddy and scratched.  I don’t beat up my tools, but I bought them for work.  If your gun is too pretty, or too costly to use, then lock it up and buy something else that you will use.

Few items in a prepper’s kit is as personal as their choice in (or even to have) firearms.  Its worse than ham radio guys and their gear.  I am not going to tell you what to get, but if you buy something you can afford, that you will train with, and that you have put some thought into, I am sure you will be fine.

But, just in case you are wondering.  We went with common guns that most “gun-people” have, and instead of buying different brands, we have stuck with buying multiples of the same make/models for redundancy.  Of course, once you have one of each, guns go back on the bottom of the list until you are buying multiples of the wheat grinders and radios…

Our Picks:

  • .223 AR-15 with many magazines
  • 12 gauge Remington 870
  • 9mm Glock 19 with many magazines

Of course we do have some revolvers, 1911’s and a odd WWII bolt gun here and there…

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    31 Comments

    It always strikes me when I see prepping videos from USA, and there are weapons and ammo and weapons and ammo...

    It's sad but seems like a symptom of weak trust people have on each other. Don't get me wrong: if you need them, you gotta have them... it's just a petty that it has to be that way.

    Wanna hear another version? I'm from Italy, and even if we lived the war in Jugoslavia at our gates and we have Mafia as you might have heard, no one in Italy or Europe thinks to weapons as the first thing.

    To me weapons are NEVER the SOLUTION to a problem. To me they are the START of a bigger problem you escalate to when you where not able to solve a lower level one.

    I think that getting to a way of thinking that will ensure you (sort of) never need to have to use weapons is more important than having guns at all.

    If "bad guys" (that makes me laugh, there always needs to a bad guy somewhere so that we can shoot him... right?) comes to you to loot your stuff and not to me, it means that probably you did some mistake I did not.

    My two cents

    I respect your opinion, but I disagree with the premise that weapons are never the solution to a problem. They might not be the best solution, or the only solution, but a wise man once told me "Son, if you have to resort to violence and it doesn't solve your problem you aren't using enough of it".

    That being said, the majority of the work I do in preparing for emergencies revolves around the non-violent. Guns are nothing more than specialized tools. My website, my writings, and my mindset are based around finding best use of tools to solve problems. My brain is the best weapon I have, but since I cannot throw it at “bad guys” I like having a Glock handy.

    Einstein once said "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it", and I believe that to be true, but when an Italian Mobster is fitting you with cement shoes, quoting Einstein won't stop the concrete from setting.

    I would love to live in a world where violence was not a solution; However, I have worked several years in various state penal institutions, mostly in maximum security. While there I have interacted with human beings that do not recognize anyone's rights but their own. The willingness and ability to use violence is the only way to ensure safety when dealing with people with that mindset.

    I have been to Italy while in the US Marine Corps, and recognize that it has some lovely features, but Italy’s history with anarchy and fascism, especially during WWII, does not cause me to see it as a model government.
    America is not as old as the European nations, and we do things differently. While the way we do things might not always be “better”, our basic premise concerning a citizen's role in government, or the concept of rights, or limited government are not the same.

    I hope to never have to use my gun, just as I pray never to have to use the items I have stored away for hard times, but the premise of this instructable was - if we had a catastrophic disaster, where looting and brigandry was rampant, what would be the best tools to have. Personally when dealing with a hungry mob that wants to take food out of the mouth of my wife and infant son, I would rather have an AR-15 than the high ground in a moral argument.

    By your words seems like "if violence does not work use MORE violence". I'd lie to point out another thing: you did not used terms like "reasonable force" once. You used only "violence". That makes me think... bad things.
    Guns are not "SPECIALIZED" tools, are tools made for one reason only: kill. So they are KILLING tools. Using a killing tool to solve a problem implies that killing might be a solution to a problem.
    Eistein was right: if a Mobster comes to me I KNOW I'd have not big problems in outsmating him. You did not understand Einstein: he ment you have to be more INTELLIGENT, not more violent...
    Italy by no means has ever been a model, I can tell you.
    The DIRECT and LIVE and LATE confrontation with a risk situation is NOT the only way to deal with things. It's the difference between good soldiers and good cops: while good solderis HAVE to escalate the level of confrontation (violence) cops have to do all they can to DE-scalate it.
    One las thing: prepper do one thing well: we PREPARE, so we see things comming and, if we are good, we avoid having to fight at all.

    I am sorry, it seems like I am having a hard time getting my point across without aggravating you, I think you are a pretty smart guy, your posts and instructables bear this out. But it is a shame you seem to be fixating on the words used and not the message. In my blog, in my firearm book, and in the firearm classes I teach I spend way more time on what is reasonable. I am fond of saying "anyone can teach someone HOW to shoot, its the WHEN to shoot that is much more difficult."

    You are smart, and it is clear you believe that you can out think any situation, but that is not always the case. What happens when someone just as smart, but more desperate and armed with better tools decides they want your stuff.

    Let me give you a scenario, you can tell me what you would do.
    Catastrophic earthquake wipes out fuel transmission lines, bridges, and communications infrastructure. It has been 3 months since stores were open. Since you have prepared for disasters and had some food, you have only lost 20 pounds, while your neighbors are walking scarecrows. While you are out foraging for firewood (or whatever), a group of them have decided to break in an take what you have. After all, how long could you last watching your kids starve to death, while your neighbors did not seem to be starving?

    You come home, unarmed, and find your family tied up in the corner, and your neighbors (armed) in your home taking the last of your supplies.

    Obviously asking them to stop won't work.
    Do you think hitting them would stop the threat on your family?
    If that amount of violence is not effective, should you increase it? Maybe pick up a broken piece of furniture to use as a club?
    If that isn't effective, but you manage to get a gun from them, would that stop the threat?

    IF, not when, you resort to going hands on with a threat - using violence, then you are committed to finishing the fight. If your level of violence is not effective you have to increase it to the point it is effective.

    The operative word in gunfight is not gun - it is fight, if I loose my gun, I am going to use whatever my closest weapon is, but I would get better results with a gun, than my teeth...

    Guns, as I see it, are tools - very specialized tools granted, but tools, and they have a purpose. But you have to be aware that you cannot win every situation, and sometimes there is no good answer.

    You can think bad things about me if you wish, but I when I taught Criminal Justice, I used to tell my college students (and pistol team members) every-time the concept of use of force (which is a PC term for using violence), "I love everybody, but I love me more". I do not choose to hurt anyone, but if they want to start the ball, I want to make sure I not only have the best tool, but I am better at using it, use it faster than them, and have a platoon full of buddies to back me up.

    I guess we are just going to have to disagree on the proper use of guns and if they are tools or just evil incarnate.

    Hi tngun.
    First of all thanks for you reply, and for the effort we are making here to share ideas without getting to one of those too many pointless and endless discussions on the net.

    I'd like to point out that I'm not 100% against arms, under some aspects infact I like them (who doesn't). The thing I hate to see is another: 99% of the time (official stats are not exactly 99% but close) guns are missused or used when there was no need and it end in tragedy. A tragedy that could be avoided if only guns were not there. Compare the stats of all states in the world: less gus-less "incidents".

    Men think like this: " I got a gun, I AM the GOOD guy, you make me some trouble, I thing I might have the right and need to shoot you"... happends all the time. It's a people problem, not a "tool" problem.

    As you your shenario: all I'm telling you now is real, I Had to show it to TV too... Many strategies are also dealth with at my site www.prepper.it
    I got 3 different places I store my food, anought for 9 months or more for my small family. I could affort to loose one and still have the other 2. Plus the food in my home... (italians GOT food... ;-) )

    So the idea is that I CAN be fooled, and I have to think about that too. I can be stolen/forced to share, but not three times !!

    First rule: don't be a target. You are (pretend to be) hungry as all the other, you hide your family, you stay inside, you are a grey man, you are not there, nobody even notices you nor can guess.

    Our home have reinforced concrete pillars and brick walls, no wood. So breaking in is by far HARDER then kick down a common american house door, held just by part of a 2x4. Here it's all bricks, cement and steel.

    And we got dogs ;-)

    Thing is that the shenario is not REALISIC at it's base, here. That could only happend in a total war case, EMP, or worst. Realistic cases (see what happened lately in India: 3 days without energy) don't get to that point at all !!
    It did not happend in Haity during the Tzunamy, did not happend in Japan during Fukushima. It did not happen INSIDE Sarajevo in three years of siege (outside was war).

    So we have to make a point clear: are we talking about War conditions or Disasters? Why we all think that an emergency HAS to lead to a WROL situation? We had two major quakes in Italy in the past 3 years, but It did not happend at all !!

    On the other hand, in a WROL or WAR situation scenario, I totally agree with you, but that is not the same page as an Emergency or a Disaster,

    Thanks again.

    The point made in the list of gun facts and John Lott's work is that in the US, where there is LESS gun control, there are LESS problems with violence.

    Emcy, unfortunately, the "The thing I hate to see is another: 99% of the time (official stats are not exactly 99% but close) guns are missused or used when there was no need and it end in tragedy. " is incorrect.

    Read John Lott. Possibly you are basing your information on another country, as in Italy, but the numbers are not correct... In fact nearly opposite.

    Could you please post me a link to those stats and theyr source? How do those stats cope with those on the FBI Annual Crime Statistics on their web site? (that's where I took my data from)

    Hah, finally found this thread.

    http://www.gunfacts.info/
    The Adobe downloads are free, but you need the reader.

    My favorite quote: "Fact: Comparing crime rates between America and Britain is fundamentally flawed. In America, a gun crime is recorded as a gun crime. In Britain, a crime is only recorded when there is a final disposition (a conviction). All unsolved gun crimes in Britain are not reported as gun crimes, grossly undercounting the amount of gun crime there.21 To make matters worse, British law enforcement has been exposed for falsifying criminal reports to create falsely lower crime figures, in part to preserve tourism.22"

    "GOOD" thing to know...
    Still two "sad" (just not to call them wrong) facts don't add up to make a single "good" one.
    The fact that GB stats are not as good as one might think does not mean a thing. There are A LOT of countries that are far more violent than USA. Got already 10 in my mind but don't want to name them no to start another discussion or to change the focus of the topic.
    Say that country "XYZ" is far more violent that USA and that there are far more gun crimes, say 10 times more. Does that make you any happy or solves something? I don't think so...
    It's all in this questions: "do you want gun crimes in the USA to be:
    a) less than today: one is one too much
    b) as much as today or more