Survival Weapon Basics
Survival weapons covers defensive and hunting weapons. These can be firearms or other weapons such as bows or crossbows. I will deal with firearms first.
Firearms can be an area of heated debate in the survival community. The question "If you could only take one survival gun, what would it be?" always comes up and results in many different answers, often with heated debate.
I'm not going to advise you on what single weapon you should have. This must be a personal decision. I will recommend a small number of firearm types that will aid you in a survival situation. I will also mention a couple of other weapon types that could help you.
First, lets get the firearms out of the way. There are many quality makers out there, check with your friends and family, the local gun store or range to get opinions on what specific models and makers to get.
The .22LR is generally considered a good survival calibre (size of the bullet). With the .22LR you can hunt small game, rabbits and squirrels, to larger game if you are lucky and a good shot. It can also be used for defense against some predators. A .22LR rifle is usually fairly inexpensive, lightweight and common. You can carry a lot of .22LR ammunition, which is also fairly inexpensive. Along with a .22LR rifle you can also buy .22LR pistols, so if you have another rifle while hunting and come across a rabbit you can use the .22LR to shoot the rabbit. Another plus to the .22LR is that any larger child and any small adult will have no problem firing it. In my opinion, every family that is considering hunting as a means to add food to the table in a survival situation should have a .22LR rifle.
The 30 calibres
Within the 30 calibre range there are a number of common rounds. The .308 Winchester, the 30-30 and the .303 British are very common rounds. Any of these will make a good hunting round for larger game such as deer or bear. They are overkill for small game like rabbits. The .30 calibre rounds are also very good for self defense, all are or have been military rounds. Because the three specific calibres mentioned are common the price for ammunition is relatively inexpensive. The .308 Winchester and the 30-30 are more common in the US than the .303 British. Worldwide the .303 British is a fairly common round and is still seen in use in the military of some former British Empire and Commonwealth countries.
There are two main shotgun rounds, the 12 gauge and the 410. The 12 gauge can be used on medium and large game with little to no overkill. The 410 is better for smaller game such as ducks and rabbits. The 12 gauge is generally considered to be the best all around self defense firearm for homes. There is something about the sound of a 12 gauge shotgun being racked/round loaded into the chamber that strikes fear into the average person... it is an ominous sound. The 410 would be better for smaller adults and larger children. Both the 12 gauge and the 410 are common, and prices for pump action versions are priced from $100 and up.
The .357 makes a good self-defense and medium sized game round, it is also common and easy to find. With revolvers and carbine rifles you have the option of defensive revolvers or hunting carbines. Being able to use one size of round in two weapons for two purposes means less ammunition types you have to stock.
There are any number of defensive pistols out there. The two most common rounds are the 9mm and the .45. Again there is a lot of debate as to which is better. To keep this simple, pick the one you feel most comfortable with and leave it at that. Talk with friends and family or go to the local gun shop or range. Test fire both rounds and see which one you are most comfortable with.
That covers the very basics of survival firearms. You should have enough information to start thinking about what, if any, firearms you want in your survival gear.
I will only briefly mention the other types of weapons here. Most people would consider these as supplemental to survival firearms and not as a primary means of hunting or defense.
There are a number of weapons that are not firearms that can be used in a survival situation for hunting and defense. The two that would come to mind for most people are bows and crossbows. Both can be used for hunting or defense. Humans have used bows and crossbows for hunting and warfare for hundreds of years. For those that can not own firearms for one reason or another, bows and crossbows are often the only option available.
Spears can be used for hunting and defense, although they require some skill to use properly. Slings and sling shots can be used for small game and with ammunition being as common as smooth stones you will never run out of ammunition. An air powered pellet or bb gun can be used for small game as well.
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