Today’s Prep Monday is brought to you by my good friend and fellow writer, the incomparable Mac Pike:
“When it all hits the fan and you and your family or core group has to abandon the home, or strongpoint, or vehicle, and make your way on foot to wherever it is that you are bound, the options for items in the bug out bag become restricted. You know what you absolutely have to have; the items have been covered expertly and in great detail in any number of publications. You will have these items pre-assembled if you are serious about survival, and you will check them on a regular basis for completeness.
“Some writers avoid the topic of weapons, particularly firearms, as though a desire to defend oneself and one’s family is somehow distasteful and indicative of paranoia. To suggest that a resident of New York City equip his or her self with lethal firepower, in defiance of prevailing public opinion and 90% of statute, is considered sheer heresy by many of the people currently governing the big city.
“But it is your life and your families’ lives as well. You are arming yourselves for sustenance and defense, and there is no reason to back away from that fact. Here are some ideas to consider; in many ways, they fly in the face of conventional advice:
“Who are the shooters in the group, and by this I mean not necessarily those who have reached a certain age, but rather those who have had firearms training and can be trusted with firearms. Is Dad the only one? Or is it Dad, Mom, and the two teenagers? Maybe a brother and his ex-army buddy are along; it changes the matrix a bit.
“But for a basic family of four, and let’s consider all of them adequately trained and practiced and of sufficient mental maturity to handle their weapons, a few things are important. Cartridge compatibility for one: the weapons selected should, to the greatest extent possible, chamber the same ammunition.
“In the Northeast, shotguns will generally rule and virtually nothing rules like a tried and true pump action Remington 870 in 12 gauge. Reliable and easy to maintain, the 870 can put out a variety of rounds from slugs to birdshot and if everyone can handle it, it is a lovely choice.
“But so is a Mossberg 590 Special Purpose, a neat pump action with a magazine that chambers 9 3” loads. That is a lot of lead.
“So we have three folks carrying 12 gauge pumps, but let’s say we need more range, or feel that the need for it might come up. Let’s allow shooter number four to carry any of the excellent over-under combo weapons, firing 12 gauge from the shotgun barrel and .243, .308 or .30-06 from the rifled one. This takes care of the long shooting requirement and maintains cartridge compatibility.
“It also fulfills another requirement, that of having ammunition that is readily available. All of the above rounds are common, enhancing the chances of being able to re-supply.
“If the 12 gauge is too much gun for some, there is really no need to hold back from the 20 gauge anymore; modern loads have adequate range and power to handle almost any crisis a 12 can deal with. Mossberg makes a wonderful line of 20 gauge weapons and if one can be found, a Savage model 24 over-under with 20 gauge on top and .30-30 below fits the bill for the dual-purpose weapon.
“A side benefit is that the group can carry significantly more 20-gauge rounds than 12s, an important consideration when every ounce counts.
“Handguns? Probably not worth the excess weight, but one lightweight 8 to 10 shot .22 revolver that can chamber both shorts and long rifle rim fire rounds would make a nice squirrel and bunny shooter when the MREs get low. There is a wealth of these on the market, new and used. An ancient Harrington and Richardson Sportsman 9 shot revolver with a six-inch barrel would be difficult to improve upon.
“Ammunition in .22 rim fire is probably the most common in the world.
“Thinking of something with a little more versatility and punch? The Taurus Raging Judge has a six round cylinder, a six-inch barrel and chambers not only the .45 Colt and .410 shotgun round, but also the bear-killing .45 Cassull cartridge, a round that out wallops those in Harry Callahan’s famous .44 magnum by a respectable margin.
“Ammunition in .410 and .45 Colt is commonplace, .45 Cassull decidedly is not.
“A nice weapon but a monstrously heavy brute, and not everyone can fire the massive Cassull round without spraining a wrist. It might be more useful to pack extra toilet paper.
“This equipment is a good choice for the eastern part of the country, but lacks the range for, say, Montana or Arizona. The composition of the group may also dictate a broader mix of calibers and capabilities.
“One factor that prevails: no firearm is worth having unless it can be used quickly, accurately, and with confidence by its operator. Professional instruction is important; range time is mandatory. If and when it all falls to pieces, the dilettantes are going to go the way of the dodo, no matter what kind of firepower they may happen to be packing.”