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Survival Guns

About the author:

I have been putting together a survival arsenal since 1974, and I owned a survival equipment store in Texas from 1978 to 1980. Since 1979 I have held a Class 3 machinegun & silencer dealers license. I’ve had no experience in the military, other than the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Texas State Guard, neither of which amount to much.

I’ve fired many thousands of rounds in some of the guns I write about, others I have never fired. However, over the years I’ve kept an ear open to the experiences others had with the guns I have not fired.

I am not a gunsmith, and my experiences with such consist of only replacing parts in military weapons, which is no major feat.

I do not claim to be an expert in this field, and am only attempting to pass along my experiences and impressions to you, for whatever they may be worth.


It is assumed that if you are reading this, you may be considering the possibility of socio-economic collapse from any number of reasons. If it comes to this, we all know that it won’t be like the depression of the 1930’s, when the unemployed homeless came around to your back door at mealtime, begging for a bowl of soup which those employed were willing to share.

Now days people are dependant on gov’t welfare, and consider it their _right_ to be given (or take by force) the necessities of life. For every family that gives up vacations, meals out, consumer goods, etc. to prepare, thousands & thousands of other families will not! You survival will depend on your ability to protect what you have.


Unless you already live in a very small town, or in a sparsely populated area out in the country, it is imperative that you have somewhere to go. At the onset of socio-economic collapse the cities will rapidly become a death trap. Plan on getting the hell out at the first sign of things going bad!

The ideal situation for city dwellers is to have a farm or ranch over 100 miles away from any major city. If you live on the coast, then figure it at 200 miles, because the population fleeing the city can only go in one direction. If you can get farther away than this, then do it. The rule of thumb used to be “at least a tank of gas away from any city.” However, with the advent of more fuel efficient cars, this is getting much harder to do.

You don’t want to pick an area with neighbors that are laid back and totally unprepared. You want your neighbors to be armed and fiercely independent, willing to fight to protect what is theirs. Many of the rural folks in Texas fit this criteria. If your neighbors are unarmed and unwilling to protect themselves, they will only attract looters & rabble from the city to the area. Neighbors can help protect and reinforce each other. You also must be psychologically prepared to protect yourself and your family.

If you cannot afford to buy your own place, you are going to have to find somewhere to go, ahead of time. Do you have any relatives that live in the country or small communities? How about friends? If not, can you make some friends that do? You could buy a gun vault to keep in their house.

If all else fails, I guess you could retreat to public land, but I wouldn’t rate your chances very good. You would have to pick out a place to bury your supplies at, and hope nobody finds them. Not too good of a bet.

Never retreat alone. Looters are much more likely to attack individuals than groups. One person can’t stay on watch for 24 hrs/da.


Buy an army pack, camouflaged combat clothing, hiking boots, and military web carrying equipment for each member of the family to keep at home in the city. Hopefully, you will get out of town soon enough to drive to your retreat, but be prepared to walk all or part of the way if that’s what it takes. Keep enough weapons, ammo & survival gear to get you there. Your heavier weapons, and the bulk of your ammo and survival gear should be stored at your retreat.


Don’t plan on being able to drive to your retreat by the regular highway route. Go to a map store & buy the US Geological Topographic Survey maps covering every area you drive through to get there, plus the general areas around your retreat. If you can’t find these maps, call USG at 703-648-5990. Also buy county maps of every county you have to pass through. In Texas a private publisher has put into booklet form every county map in the state, for about $14.

Now, you will have to drive to your retreat on back roads, using these maps. Use as many roads as possible that don’t show up on your state highway map. You’ll likely find that these roads will take longer, but they’ll get you there, while avoiding populated areas. Traffic will be light because only those prepared as well as you will be able to find them or know where they go.

Mark your routs with a highliter. Note possible hazards along the way. These might be routs near military bases, prisons, low water crossings, rivers prone to flooding, etc. Write down the road numbers as you go, for some county maps show the roads but not the numbers. Take different routs in different kinds of weather. Mark “holding-up” places for car repairs, meeting friends or relatives on the way, etc.

When you get your maps marked like you want, coat them with a water proofing compound. This also makes the paper tougher & less prone to tear at the folds. “Stormproof” is one brand you might find at the map shops. A new product just came out called “Map Seal.” Contact Aquaseal in Everett, WA at 206-290-7530. They also have some new leather waterproofing compound, waterproof tent coating, etc. Both of the products are a liquid you just paint on with a brush.

Now to the guns…………


Rifles are the backbone of your survival battery. However, every adult member of your group must have a pistol because it can always be by your side. Whenever visiting the retreat, all members should wear their pistols so as to get familiar with them and used to carrying them. Do some shooting each time, too.

When it comes to survival pistols, forget about revolvers. They don’t hold enough shells, are too slow to reload, too heavy, and are open to dirt. Also, it is hard to replace parts in them if they break.

Semi-automatic pistols are a must! Preferably the new ones with high capacity, double column or staggered magazines. The smallest caliber you should consider is 9mm. I am of the school of thought that “bigger is better,” so I prefer the slow moving .45 ACP cartridge. Others think the faster, but smaller 9mm is better. No one can _prove_ which one is best, so select the one you like. In between calibers are .38 Super Auto, .40 S&W, and 10mm, the most common (& easiest to find) being .40.

In my experience, the Glock pistols are by far the best choice. They are very light because of the plastic receiver (frame) they have. Even so, they are about the strongest pistol on the market. The factory not only allows, but recommends that you shoot a steady diet of hot submachine ammo in them. They say that their pistols will handle any cartridge currently manufactured in the world that is the proper caliber. That’s a far cry form S&W and other brands of light alloy frame pistols, which you have to call the factory first to see it they will handle the hot loads. Many models are not capable of handling hot loads.

Since the Glock has a plastic frame, it cannot rust. The barrel, slide and the parts are coated with a black substance that will not come or wear off, with a hardness second only to diamonds. The pistols are highly reliable and _very_ accurate, but moderately priced. They all have high capacity magazines.

Spend the extra $100 or so, and get the nuclear powered night sights. These are a must. You can fire accurately at a target at night if you can only see the silhouette of it. They turn it into an effective 24 hour weapon instead of a daytime weapon. These are well worth the money. If you already have a Glock without night sights, send it back to the factory & have them installed.

Whatever kind of pistol you settle on, get one of the Bianchi UM84 or UM92 nylon military holsters to attach to your GI pistol belt. If budget restrictions apply, a leather US Army flap holster will do. Get one or two double magazine pouches to attach to your web gear & fill them with spare magazines.

Glocks cost around $500+ without the night sights. If you can’t afford this, look at the Chinese Norinco 1911 type .45 pistol. For around $200 they have a 9mm Tokarov pistol which works ok. For a little more, you can get a Tokarov with a staggered (high capacity) magazine. Karen, an Israeli company, now imports a plastic framed pistol styled after the Browning Hi-Power ($300+), which holds 14 rds. of 9mm. There are many other Eastern European companies that offer inexpensive pistols.

In my opinion, it is no use looking at pistols more expensive than the Glocks. They can’t do anything the Glock won’t do as well, or probably better.

Get at least 3 or more extra magazines for each pistol. That way, you can carry 2 loaded in a belt pouch & have a 3rd to rotate so that they all don’t stay loaded all the time & eventually weaken the springs. You also might damage or lose one.

I would establish a goal to eventually stock 500 rounds at the retreat for each pistol. A bare minimum per gun should be 250 rds. Don’t shy away from 750+ rds./gun. Extra ammo can always be used to barter with your neighbors.

In semiauto pistols, only ball ammo (full metal jacket) should be used initially. Fire the pistols 100-200 rounds to break them in. After that, you can experiment with hollow point ammo if you desire. It will function is some autos, and not others. Be sure you fire 100-200 rds. of hollow point in your pistol without any jams before you depend on it.

Learn well how to take your pistol apart so you can keep it cleaned & oiled.


0 – 50 yds.:
  • Riot Shotgun with 12 gauge buckshot.
  • Riot Shotgun with 12 gauge buckshot. Out to 100 yds with slugs.
50 – 300 yds.:
  • .223 (5.56mm) – AR-15, .223 Galil
  • 7.62x39mm – SKS, AK
300 – 800 yds.:
  • .308 (7.62x45mm) – M1A, HK91, FN-FAL, .308 Galil
  • 30-06 – M1 Garand, ’03 Springfield
  • 8mm (7.92mm) – Mauser, FN-49
  • 303 British Enfield

All weapons have their strong points as well as their limitations. Always utilize your weapons to maximize their effectiveness. The following gives an example of suggested weapon usage versus range:

The riot shotgun (barrel 20″ or less) is an extremely devastating weapon out to 50 yds. Pump shotguns are cheap ($250.00), so purchase plenty of them.

Out to 300 yds the .223 is flat shooting and fast shooting. It’s ideal to repulse a typical assault at medium ranges.

Beyond 300 yds the .308 battle rifle is vastly superior in accuracy and effectiveness. With scopes, you can engage the enemy long before they can return accurate fire.

Automatic weapons may be of questionable value for survival use. It is unlikely that you will have to repel an assault that cannot be handled by accurate semi-auto fire. If your budget allows automatic weapons, go light on the submachine guns, but do have them fitted with sound suppressors (silencers). Of more use would probably be the 1918-A2 BAR or the FN-FALO squad support machine rifle. A Browning 1919-A4 belt-fed machine gun might be of use mounted on a tripod or in the back of a pickup on a vehicle pedestal mount. If you use these, remember to stock _plenty_ of ammo!

Silenced .22 rifles & pistols might be of some use in taking out sentries quietly, or for hunting small game without drawing attention. About half the states allow ownership of suppressors and machineguns. If you live in a qualifying state, find a Class 3 dealer in your area. There is a $200 tax on each item, and they must be Federally registered.

In 1989, George Bush banned the import of modern infantry rifles by Presidential decree. Those such as the HK91, FN-FAL, Galil, Styer AUG, AK, and others are no longer being imported. The ones previously imported & sold now bring premium prices or $1500-$2500 each.

Recently, foreign manufacturers have modified the guns to make them “sporters.” They now have “thumbhole” target stocks. Basically, this is accomplished by adding material the stock to connect the bottom of the pistol grip with the rear of the stock, leaving a hole for your wrist to fit in. Reports from people having used them are favorable. Some say they get a more stable hold with this modification, only they look a little funny. The bayonet lug has been removed, being of little consequence. They are fitted with 5 rd. magazines, but the old 20, 30 & 40 round magazines are still being imported & will fit these new rifles. However, legislation has been proposed to stop the import of these larger magazines. Flash hiders have also been removed, with creates more flash, but at the same time reduces the muzzle blast for the position of the shooter.

The only domestically manufactured infantry rifles are the Colt AR-15 and the M1A. The AR-15 is the semi-automatic counterpart to the M-16 rifle, and the M1A is the civilian counterpart to the M-14 .308 automatic rifle.


Buy plenty of shotguns! Pump shotguns are by far the best because they are the most durable & less prone to jam than semi-autos. They are simple to operate. A 20″ barrel is the best. It’s short enough to fire easily from a vehicle & it’s fast to swing form target to target.

The legal minimum barrel length under Federal law is 18″, but that increases the muzzle blast significantly. Don’t saw one off to a shorter length because it’s a 2nd degree Federal felony punishable by 10 years & $10,000. Also, you lose your choke at the end of the barrel, which may throw off you patterns. The only reason for a shorter barrel would be for hiding under a trench coat, combined with a folding stock. If you must go this route, buy it legally from a Class 3 dealer & make sure you get it with an interchangeable choke tube.

The chokes on most 18″ & 20″ riot shotguns is cylinder bore, meaning it’s about the same size opening as the shell. This is really not the best, as with 0 buck or 00 buck, you will typically only get about 2 solid hits and one “nick” on a silhouette target at 50 yds. A few companies, like Remington, sell deer hunting shotguns with 20″ barrels that are choked improved cylinder, or some even have interchangeable choke tubes. I think improved cylinder is about the best compromise between large patterns and pattern density, so try to pick one of these up. Always test your shotgun patterns on paper silhouette targets to see how far you effective range extends.

Shotguns typically hold about 4 rounds in the tubular magazine, with the plug removed. If at all possible, purchase an extension magazine tube from an aftermarket source. Chote Machine makes the best one for Remingtons & Winchesters. This is the brand the FBI, State Dept., etc. uses. They increase magazine capacity to 7 rds with a 20″ barrel, and 6 rds with an 18″ barrel. You can purchase these from LL Baston Co. in Arkansas. Call 800-643-1564 for a catalog. They have many other useful items, like rifle & pistol magazines, scope mounts for military rifles, and a whole lot of other accessories.

The least expensive riot shotguns are Maverick Arms, an Eagle Pass, TX company now owned by Mossberg. The actions are a little rough, but that matters little when the chips are down! They come standard with synthetic stocks & forearms which are far superior to wood for survival use. Their riot gun shouldn’t run much over $200.

Mossberg makes many models of riot guns with synthetic & camo stocks, heat shrouds over the barrels (so you won’t burn your hand when you roll the barrel over in your hand to reload). Theirs run from about $225 to $350. They are a more known quantity than Maverick Arms. Mossberg sells some with only pistol grips on the back, instead of a shoulder stock. Avoid these, unless you are planning to only use it in your car.

Remington makes a good pump shotgun. It has a machined steel receiver, and a double rail pump action, which is stronger and more stable. The cheapest models are the 870 Express, which they came out recently to compete with Mossberg and others. Buy this one because it is just as sound as the others model, only they have cheaper wood on them. Their Express model riot gun, called the Security model has an 18.5″ cylinder bore barrel. But for the same price, they offer a Deer Gun model with a 20″ improved cylinder barrel with rifle sights. This is what I would buy. They cost around $300 – $325.

Winchester also offers riot guns, but they cost about the same as Remington but don’t have the dual-rail pump on the action, I don’t think. Remington & Winchester both offer “Marine” models made of stainless steel or that have special metal coatings to resist salt spray, if you have that problem.

Most currently manufactured shotguns come standard with 3″ chambers, but I would not pay extra for them. The 2.75″ shells are preferable in my opinion. See Ammo Section for more information on this.

Most of these companies offer a “combo” package, with a riot barrel & a longer barrel for bird hunting.

The best way to learn how to use your riot gun is to take it out in the woods hunting, extensively. You can take deer, javalena, turkey and other vermin with it. Take it dove hunting, especially if you have an improved cyl barrel. Use at least 1.25 oz shot loads. If you have a cyl bore gun, you might have to load up your own birdshot for it. You’ll have to reload heavy duck loads, like one & three-eights oz of shot to get a dense enough pattern for anything but short range. Doing this is going to make it kick, but so is using buckshot…..and that’s what you bought it for!


Colt AR-15 (.223):

By far, the best bet on .223 rifles is the Colt AR-15, or any of the aftermarket copies. Here’s several important reasons why:

1) Domestically manufactured, therefore cheaper than an import. Price is around $700. Good used ones can be had for even less.

2) The M-16 is current issue military. That means that magazines & spare parts are cheap and readily available. You should be able to find them at most any gun show.

3) They are durable & battle tested everywhere from the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Iraq. The jamming problems of the late ’60s and early ’70s have long ago been worked out.

4) Easy to operate & extremely fast to reload.

5) Accurate & light weight.

The AR-15 SP-1 (most likely to find used) is no longer made, but had a 1×12 rifling twist. This causes the bullet to tend to turn sideways (keyhole) after it strikes flesh, a desirable trait. However, at shorter ranges (maybe 0-50 yds) the bullets tend to just zip straight through with minimal stopping power. The older M193 type 55 grain bullets work best in it. The only modification desirable on the SP-1 is to purchase a quality round AR-15 A2 front handguard (like Lone Star Ordinance) and replace the tapered one that comes with the gun. Make _sure_ it has the stainless steel heat shields in it. Cost is about $20. or so.

After that, came the AR-15 A2. It has a 1×7, or even worse a 1×9 barrel twist. Though 55 grain bullets can be used in it, it was designed for a 65 grain bullet, which the military now uses. There is less chance that the bullet will keyhole after it hits. The plus side is that they are supposed to have a little more power and accuracy out to a little bit longer range. All but the very first A2 models have the rear sight drum adjustable for elevation out to 800 yds, which is of dubious value.

The newest model is the Colt Sporter. This is exactly the same as the AR-15 A2, only they changed the name after the import ban.

This is a light caliber (.223), therefore extensive use should be made of soft-point ammo. I’ll make a drastic difference on personnel. All these rifles take a standard scope quite easily with an inexpensive mount.

The current issue military ammunition magazine for the M16 (also fits AR-15) holds 30 rounds. There aren’t many Colt magazines around for a reasonable price, but military contract manufacturers are Advertureline, Ok, Lackey (or some such), etc. These are just fine & can be found at the gun show for $7 – $12, unless there is pending legislation to ban them. The military used to use 20 rd magazines. Get some of these because they work much better when firing from a prone position! The 20 rounders may cost as much or more than the 30 rounders. The 5 rd mags that come with the new Colt guns can be converted to 20 round by drilling out the rivets in the floor plate & removing the spacer inside the mag.

Steel 40 rd mags are available from Sterling Arms in England, or Federal Ordinance in the US. They run around $20. They will not fit in the Army magazine pouches, so you have to buy shoulder strap pouches for them.

There is a 90 round drum that costs probably $65, and the Chinese are bringing in one that holds 125 rds. I don’t know of anyone who has tested the Chinese drums for functioning and quality, yet. I think they cost over $100. However, the Chinese drums are like Thompson SMG drums, in that you can keep them loaded indefinitely & they don’t put tension on the spring until you wind them up. The 90 rounder keeps constant tension on the spring when loaded.

Ruger Mini-14 (.223):

I avoid this rifle like the plague! While the AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 automatic assault rifle, the Mini-14 is a light sporting rifle, best suited for the 5 rd. magazine it comes with! Most of them can’t take the heat of rapid fire, the groups open up to several feet, as opposed to several inches with the AR-15. Some shoot ok, but you have to take them out and test fire them to be sure. AR-15’s always work. Many Mini-14’s are prone to slight jamming, like the bolt not closing all the way, sometimes. Just enough to get you killed! Even if you get hold of a good one, magazines cost more & you can forget finding spare parts cheap at a gun show. If you can’t afford an AR-15, then avoid the cheaper Mini & get a $135.00 Chinese SKS instead, at least it’s a _real_ infantry rifle.

When looters assault my retreat, I hope they all have Mini-14’s!

Israeli Galil .223:

The Galil is supposed to be a good rifle, as they are current issue for the Israeli Army, among M16’s and others. They are just being imported again by Action Arms, with a thumbhole stock & without flash hider & bayonet lug. These run about the same as an AR-15, around $700. However, magazines & parts are going to be much higher & harder to find.

Styer AUG .223 (Austria):

The import ban got this one! It’s an OK rifle, but is now very, very expensive. Magazines are real expensive & you probably can’t even find parts anymore. Besides, it’s no better than the AR-15.

HK-93 .223 (Germany):

Import ban got it too, so its expensive. It’s much heavier than the AR-15 and not as reliable. Magazines & parts are easier to find than the AUG, but are pretty expensive. This gun is just too heavy for a .223, as it weighs almost as much as a .308.

Chinese SKS 7.62×39:

The import ban didn’t affect this one! It has a folding bayonet mounted on it & cost about $135. This is the cheapest infantry rifle you can get. It has a 10 rd built-in magazine, which loads from 10 rd stripper clips inserted from the top of the bolt. There are no expensive magazines to buy. For about $20 you can get a 20 rd built-in magazine to replace the 10 rd with. Just be sure to keep your old 10 rounder because the 20 rounder sticks out more & is prone to getting bent! Ammo is super-cheap. Try to find an ammunition chest pouch for it, which holds about 200 rds in stripper clips. If you are making preparations on a tight budget, get plenty of SKS’s. If you already have a battery of expensive guns, get some SKS’s too, you might have some unarmed friends or relative show up at your retreat. These are great “burying rifles.”

Like the AK, they group a little wider than most Western infantry rifles, but they are reliable & made to take the heat of sustained fire. Many come in with the sights off zero, so it’s a good idea to buy a sight adjustment tool for the front sight, one that will adjust both elevation _and_ windage.

Chinese AK 7.62×39:

These are being imported again with thumbhole stocks, selling for about $275. They will take the 30 rd mag, or the 75 rd drum. They provide more firepower than the SKS & don’t cost a lot more. The model of this rifle is MAK 90.

Norinco also offers an AK Sporter for under $250. This rifle has a traditional hunting stock & no pistol grip. It is imported with a 5 rd magazine, but of course accepts all the various AK mags. It has a forged steel receiver like the original AK-47, before the sheetmetal receiver AKS & AKM came out. That means it is a couple of pounds heavier than the other AKs. It also might be more accurate, as the sheet metal receiver tends to warp just a little bit every time a round is fired.

When considering AK vs. SKS, keep in mind that it’s just about impossible to fire an AK from the prone position with 30 rd mag attached. However, you can buy 5rd & 20 rd mags for the AK. The price of 30rd mags is $10 or so.

.30 M1 Carbine:

Cartridge is too small & too light for reliable stopping. If you already own one, sell it and buy some SKS’s! That’s what I’d do.


Springfield Armory M1A .308:

This is the semi-auto counterpart of the M14 rifle the US used in early Vietnam. It is one of the few .308 infantry rifles currently manufactured in the US. I never owned one of these, but years ago, when they first came out, some of them had problems. However, I never hear any complaints about current production models. These probably run $1,000+, and aren’t real common to find in smaller gun stores. You may have to have your dealer order you one. They use the standard 20 rd M14 magazine which can be found pretty easily for around $15.

The M1A would be a good choice for a full-size battle rifle.

Springfield Armory BM59 & BM63 .308:

Springfield Armory may still manufacture a few of these. They are shorter & lighter than all the other .308 infantry rifles. Since the barrels are shorter, they don’t have quite the long range accuracy & punch that the longer rifles have. However, they are lighter for carrying & much more handy for shooting out of a vehicle than, say, an FN-FAL.

If you are going to get these, spread a few of them around your survival retreat group, but also get some .308 infantry rifles with longer barrels & scopes. These rifles will probably run $1,000.+

Norinco M14:

This is also a semi-auto version of the M14, but this one is made in China. These haven’t been on the market for very long, & I have no idea as to their quality. However, they cost about $400-$500! That’s a plus. These might be well worth checking out.

HK-91 .308 (W. Germany):

These were very popular before the import ban, mainly because they were a little cheaper than other imported .308 infantry rifles. It should be pretty easy to find some of these on the used market, for around $1,000+. The most common magazine size is 20 round, though a 30 round is made by HK, and also a US after market manuf. HK’s have a much heavier trigger pull than most. Scope mounts are nice, but very expensive ($300+). They have a locking roller on each side of the bolt, which will cease to function if they get coated lightly by rust.

They have been importing this rifle with a thumbhole stock for some time, so new ones are available. I don’t know how much they cost, but suspect they are over $1200 retail.

FN-FAL .308 (Belgium):

The pre-import ban models you can find used cost from $1800-$2500. This was at one time the most common infantry rifle in the world, except for AKs. Many countries have used it worldwide & it has a reputation for functioning everywhere from jungles to deserts, and everywhere in between. Is also know for it’s accuracy. I like the FAL quite a lot.

Springfield Armory imported some of these from Argentina, made under license from Belgium. I hear that they are actually superior to the Belgium made semi-autos because although Belgium used machined receivers on their full-auto versions, on the semi-auto they used forged receivers, which don’t last for as many hundreds of thousands of rounds. These Argentine models actually command a little less price.

Some FAL’s were imported from Israel, too. However, I understand that Armscorp, the company that imported many of them, sometimes used old or worn parts in them.

Currently, Springfield Armory is bringing them back in the country, with thumbhole stocks, of course. These probably sell for $1,000+.

Century Arms also has some for about $700. They are refinished parts guns, but if they work well, what the heck?

The FAL is known for it’s fine balance and it’s long-range punch due to it’s 21″ barrel. However, they are rather unwieldy if you try to fire them out of a pickup window in a hurry.

Most of the semi-auto FAL’s with a synthetic forearm (including the Belgium made) do not have a heat shield in the forearm. If you pull-off a few magazines rapidly, it becomes too hot to hold on to. What I would do is try and find some of the Israeli wooden forearms with stainless heat shield and replace the plastic one. Be careful, because the Israeli FN- FALO squad support rifle also uses a wood one, but has a larger outside diameter barrel & these will not fit your standard rifle, even though they look the about the same.

FAL magazines are 20 rd, and very cheap. You can buy them out of Shotgun News for around $20 for 10. Get plenty!

Israeli Galil .308:

These are supposed to be fine rifles, but like their .223 little brother, magazines & parts are going to be high & hard to find. They are being imported by Action Arms, with thumbhole stocks.

M1 Garand Rifle 30-06:

These WWII/Korean War relics used to cost $600+, because of their rarity, as most were sold to countries like Korea, instead of the American public, when the M14 replaced the M1. However, several years ago a law was passed to let these M1’s & other old foreign infantry rifles be imported into the US, form places like Korea. Now, you can buy a used M1 for $300 or so. Nicer & less used specimens are available for up around $400.

Magazine capacity is limited to 8 rds, so the M1 lacks the firepower of modern infantry rifles with 20 rd magazines. But, for budget minded survivalists with SKS’s for their mid-range rifles, the M1 is the perfect choice for a full size battle rifle at the longer ranges.

Sometimes you can find the M1 with new barrels chambered for .308 (7.62 Nato). These are the ones to grab, because 30-06 military ammo costs at least twice as much as military .308 ammo.

There are also some M1 Tanker Garands floating around out there. These have shorter barrels for firing out of vehicles.

Springfield Armory makes brand new M1 Garands & Tanker Carbines, but they cost considerable more than the prices mentioned above.

FN-49 7.92 mm (Belgium):

These rifles, produced in 1949, are chambered for the 8mm Mauser round, actually a 7.92mm. They are semi-auto with a 10 rd built-in magazine that loads from standard Mauser stripper clips. These are similar in weight & length to the M1 Garand. Owners I’ve talked to always rave about their fine accuracy. They cost around $300, and are usually available form Century Arms. I can’t see much reason in having one, unless you already stock 8mm ammo for Mauser rifles or a machinegun, like the Vickers.

WWII Bolt Action Infantry Rifles:

You would have to be pretty hard up to buy some of these for survival use. These include the 8mm Mauser, 303 British Enfield, the American 1903 Springfield, etc. Israel & some other countries took the German 8mm Mauser & fitted them with .308 barrels. Occasionally you can find these for sale.

Generally, these rifles cost about the same, or a little more than the Chinese SKS, so there is no reason to have them for medium range use. If you absolutely could not cough up an extra $250 each to buy some old M1 Garands, I guess these bolt actions would be better than nothing for long range.


If you already have some of these they can be used for long range sniping, especially if they are chambered for flatter shooting calibers than .308. If you don’t have any, just put scopes on your .308 battle rifles for hunting & sniping.

Make a mental note of the following BAD example:

Two men on patrol & hunting outside the retreat area, both armed with scoped bolt action hunting rifles in 30-06 & .308. While stalking game they are suddenly confronted by three parasites armed with Sears Roebuck .22 automatic rifles. Though they may drop one, or even two of them with their first shots, bolt action hunting rifles are slow & impractical at close range. The chances of surviving even such a basic & simple confrontation are remote. The .22, while lacking in power, is deadly if you are hit with enough of them. Moral to this story: Always have at least 50% of your patrol armed with light assault rifles. The remainder should be armed with heavy assault rifles (.30 cal), or shotguns. In this manner, you can protect yourself as well as hunt for deer, elk, squirrel, birds, etc.


Mel Tappen, in his book “Survival Guns” (1976) lists the 4 most common types of attacks to expect:

1) Exposed Attack – This will probably be the most common type of attack. Looters and other rabble simply rush your position with little coordination or accurate firing. If you have chose and prepared your defensive position well, and are SUITABLY ARMED, you should expect to defeat a force TEN or more times your strength. Your sentries or scouts should give ample warning of the impending attack.

2) The Stealth Blitz – One of the most dangerous forms of attack to the defenders. The attacking force, which may be quite small, uses the cover of darkness to sneak up and over-power your sentries. Simultaneous entry is made at several different points. This type of attack may be successfully defended against by alert sentries and adequate warning systems.

3) Fire Blitz – This is probably the most dangerous form of attack to the defenders. The only viable response is frequently to escape your dwelling via a hidden and hopefully secure means. This type of attack occurs when a usually superior force surrounds your retreat and simultaneously fire bombs it, and hoses it with automatic weapons fire. The only possible defense is to have a clear field of fire in all directions to prevent the enemy from approaching your position and/or remote controlled anti-personnel explosive charges that may be detonated from inside the retreat.

4) Scouting Attack – A small advance party is sent ahead of the main body of attackers to test the strength of the defenders By exposing themselves t your fire, they will attempt to determine the range and depth of your defensive fire. It your defenses are reasonably strong, a viable response may be to respond only with deliberately ineffective fire (shotguns, pistols, .22 rimfire, etc.) in an attempt to lure the main body into a frontal assault.

If your retreat location has enough members, some should stay outside the compound at all times. When you are attacked, they can snipe at the attackers or attack their rear.

ALWAYS have a pack loaded for each person, in case you group has to take to the woods in the case of overwhelming attacking forces. Most survival food & gear should be buried in the woods in caches.


To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question! As you watch a group of strangers approach your retreat, an important decision must be made. Militarily, you do not want to allow any strangers to approach and enter your retreat. To do so would compromise and weaken the effectiveness of your defense.

As the group approaches, you should have established a “dead line” beyone which no one may approach without securing permission. Anyone that is so warned and refuses to heed your warning MUST BE treated as an enemy.


For each gun you should have at least a spare extractor and extractor spring. Also a firing pin & firing pin spring should be purchased. A broken cartridge case extractor can make the difference between getting your rifle back into action quickly, or having to trash it.

It’s good to have many more parts for your guns, especially those which are inexpensive & easily obtainable, such as AR-15 (M16) parts, M14, M1 Garand and Colt .45 auto parts.

For the AR-15, you should have a spare bolt, as the bolt will eventually crack after many thousands of rounds are fired. Spare triggers, hammers, selectors, etc. should be stocked. These parts don’t usually wear out, but they can break if they happen to have a fault in the steel. Extra springs are essential, as they can be easily broken or lost. A set of 3 gas rings for the piston part of the bolt are needed, as these wear out eventually. Especially prone to breakage are the cotter key that retains the firing pin. Get plenty of these. An extra magazine catch might not be a bad idea.

Don’t even bother to get a military type assault rifle, unless you purchase at least 10 magazines. You may not be able to carry this many loaded magazines, but you can sure use them in a defensive position. Also, you can use them for replacements when your others get bent or lost.


My opinion of _minimum_ ammunition stocks would be 300 rds per pistol. Each semi-automatic rifle should have at least 1,000 stored away for it. If budget permits, get 5,000+ rds per rifle.

Most of the ammo will probably be military ball ammo (full metal jacket). You might allow some expanding ammo for the pistols, like Winchester’s new Black Talon, but it is quite expensive.

For the .308 rifles you will need some soft-point hunting ammo for deer and such. Expanding bullets against personnel are dramatically effective, so if you can afford some for that, that’s fine. However, .30 caliber ball ammo is pretty effective against personnel, as that’s what wars are fought with. It usually keyholes when it hits.

The .223 round is so light that it is a real good idea to purchase as much soft-point or hollow-point as you can. Fill in with military ball ammo. According to Peter G. Kokalis, writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, the .223 (5.56mm) ball round will keyhole (turn sideways) when it hits flesh, and break partially through at the bullet cannelure, out to 200 yds, when fired from a 20″ barrel. The break at the cannelure is a desirable effect. He claims that AR-15’s with 10″-11.5″ barrels will break the cannelure out to only 100 yds. I would presume the AR-15 carbines, with 16.5″ barrels would do this out to about 150 yds.

With a 20″ AR-15, past 200 yds the bullet might keyhole less dramatically & only go straight through. You might consider using expanding bullets at ranges beyond 200 yards. Of course, at longer ranges it might not be as important to get an instant stop.

Also remember, that at shorter ranges, somewhere between 0-75 yards, that the bullets tend to go straight through, instead of tumbling after they hit. I think all this data applies to the M16A1 (AR-15 SP1) with the 1×12 twist. Who knows about the performance of the newer A2 rifles? I wonder how they worked in Iraq.

The only way to go with 7.62×39 ammo is Norinco Chinese ball. This is the cheapest ammo you can buy, except for .22 rimfire. Stock it away by the case. They also came out with a steel jacketed soft-point. I don’t know if it really expands, or not, due to it’s steel jacket. I have not had the opportunity to shoot any game with it. If it works, its a real steal, at prices only about 40% over the price of ball.

For .308 ammo, buy Chinese or European surplus by the case. You should be able to find it for $150/1k. The only problem with 30-06 ammo is that it is the most expensive of all these. Your best bet is PMC, Samson, or the Remington (yellow box) or the Winchester (white box) “generic” ball. The PMC is more powerful & may bend the operating rod in an M1 Garand.

When it comes to soft-point, the company selling it the cheapest is Samson, by Israel Military Industries. This is every bit as good as Winchester or Remington hunting ammo. Look for it, it’s far cheaper.

Buckshot ranges in size from #4 buck to #000 buck. I prefer the larger sizes, #0, #00, and #000. It has more penetration because the pellets are heavier. It comes packed in 250 rd cases, and costs around $175 per case, if you can find a good deal. If you can find a place to order it for yourself (I don’t know if there are any), you might get it for $110 per case.

Also, consider reloading buckshot. Usually, only the larger gun stores carry buchshot pellets in the 25 lb. bags.

The so called “magnum” buckshot just has a few more pellets, making the shot charge heavier. But, it also moves at a slower velocity, meaning less penetration. I prefer the regular high velocity buckshot instead of the magnum. The magnum is considerably more expensive.

Since 1986 individuals can now order ammo themselves, without a license. The companies that do sell to individuals usually require that you send a photocopy of your drivers license, sign a statement that you are older than 18 or 21, etc.


At one time I kept a stock of reloading supplies at my retreat location. One day I started thinking about carrying the press, dies, bullets, powder, etc., if I had to leave the retreat & head for the woods. I scrapped the idea of survival reloading & started putting my money into loaded ammunition. Reloading is fine for _before_ a crisis starts.

There is a new primer sealant product out. Check the source section for it. You can put it around the bullets to seal them, too.


Get this from places that sell new military surplus.

Items include:

  • nylon pistol belt
  • carrying suspenders
  • canteen & cover
  • M16 magazine pouches (holds .308 mags, too)
  • pistol holster
  • first aid kit
  • pistol magazine pouch
  • ALICE pack
  • etc.


Southern Ohio Gun International
ammo & military gun accessories, magazines

Century Arms
ammo & military supplies

Navy Arms
ammo & accessories

LL Baston
many quality assault rifle & pistol accessories & parts

Shotgun News
advertising publication with everything that has anything to do with guns

US Cavalry
military & survival equipment

Brigade Quartermasters
military & survival equipment

Phil-Chem Inc.
primer sealant for reloading

Delta Press
books: weapons manuals, survival manuals, military manuals

machineguns & silencers, night vision scopes

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