No matter how many times it is said, it can never be said or heard enough: “The best self defense firearm for you is the one you are proficient with, feel confident with, and are carrying in a time of need.”
In an urban environment, you have to defend yourself at close, intermediate, and long ranges. This is why you need to develop proficiency with at least one weapon in each of the three main categories of firearms: handguns, shotguns, and rifles.
For each of these groups, there are questions to think about and answer for yourself in order to decide which weapon will best meet your needs.
Since .22 Caliber handguns and rifles are often underestimated as defensive rounds, I created a category just for them. In most cases, as a beginner, you will be starting with a .22 and then moving onto higher powered weapons.
This is the weapon you should always carry and have on hand when a rifle or shotgun is impractical. Choose a defensive handgun that is comfortable to shoot under any circumstances and feels comfortable to carry all day.
While those questions are a matter of personal taste, reliability and stopping power (should be powerful enough to put an attacker down with the first or second shot) are much easier to gauge via known facts about specific handgun models.
In pistols, the most popular defense calibers are the 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. All are good choices, but I prefer the 9mm for its larger magazine capacity and the .45 ACP for its knock down power with lighter recoil than the .40 S&W. For open or concealed carrying, I prefer to carry a full-size pistol at all times.
My recommendations for pistols are the following:
- In the 9mm – the Glock 17 with it’s 17 rounds per magazine. This pistol is safe to be use by adults and older teenagers after instruction.
- In the .45ACP category – the Springfield XD-M with it’s 13 rounds per magazine. This pistol is to be used by adults only who can handle the heavier recoil.
Revolvers are an excellent option, and a good choice for inexperienced shooters since they are a rather simple handgun to operate. They are also very reliable and do not require buying and using spare magazines. I would choose the Ruger stainless steel GP100 in .357 magnum/.38 Special with a four inch barrel. I would recommend this revolver for adults and older teenagers that can safely handle them after training.
If you live in a dangerous area, or want a handgun that might be used against bears or big cats, a S&W 629 .44 magnum revolver would be suitable. I would recommend this revolver for adults only because of the heavy recoil.
In a time of social unrest it’s to your advantage to use the same caliber ammunition as the police and the military do. This makes it easier to scrounge up extra ammunition in your calibers during and after these periods of unrest.
For most modern pistols and revolvers, it is easy enough to get spare parts or repairs. However, as laws continue to change, these options may become limited. Now is the time to buy parts kits, accessories, and any tools you might need to make basic repairs or manage deeper cleaning.
The shotgun is an excellent and formidable home and personal defense weapon. Shotguns come in pump action, semi-auto, double barrel, and single barrel.
My personal preference is the pump action because of the distinctive sound it makes when being racked. If there is one gun in this group that will act as a deterrent that reduces the need to open fire, the pump action models can do the job. If they can’t, you will still have an excellent weapon to resolve the matter with.
Pump action shotguns are rugged, reliable, simple to operate, and best of all easy to learn and teach.
Shotguns can be concealable if it is done right. The first thing that you must consider is how to make the shotgun a more compact weapon. To shorten the overall length, I would use the shortest legal tactical barrel and stock combination possible. The standard stock would be replaced with either a cruiser or a folding stock that folds over the top of the shotgun. Finally to help support the weight and add control ability I would attach a single point sling.
For a shotgun to be concealed properly you must be wearing clothing that can cover the shotgun without standing out. Here, loose fitting clothing and a long cold weather or rain coat would help, but the clothing must fit the season and temperatures.
One of the things I like most about a lot of the pump shotguns is that changing barrels is very easy. To make the most of your pump action shotgun, you should have at least two barrels for it. This gives you two guns for the price of one.
The first one should be a field barrel with multiple choke tubes. This one is your hunting and varmint control barrel. The second barrel should be a shorter tactical barrel in the 18-20 inch range. This one is for home defense purposes. It is quicker handling in tight quarters and gives a wider shot spread at short ranges. The tactical barrels come either rifled or smooth bore.
What to choose from so many pump action shotguns?
For adults and older teenagers that will not have any problems with recoil or operating a pump action shotgun, the Parkerized Mossburg 590-A1 in 12 Gauge should work well. This shotgun was designed for the military and is a very heavy duty shotgun that holds 9 rounds of 3 inch shotgun shells. If need be a M-7 or M-9 bayonet can be mounted under the tube magazine for further self defense.
For smaller framed adults, teenagers, and older children that can operate a pump action shotgun, I would recommend the Remington 870 Shotguns in 20 Gauge. An 18-20 inch barrel can still be used for defense and a 26-28 inch barrel for hunting.
For individuals that can’t operate either pump action or semi-auto shotguns, the double barrel shotgun may be a viable answer. If you can handle the recoil of a 12 Gauge shell, but can’t work the pump action or semi-auto action, the 12 Gauge double barrel shotguns should work fine. The same is true for those individuals who can handle the 20 Gauge recoil, but can’t work pump or semi-auto actions.
My recommendation in this group is the Stoeger Double Defense over/under double barreled shotgun for adults and older teenagers that have no issues with 12 Gauge recoil. This shotgun comes with a fiber optic front sight and a picatinny rail for your optics or rear sights. It shoots 2 3/4” or 3” shells. These shotguns are well made and very reliable. It is easier for most people to aim and shoot an over/under shotgun, because of it’s similarities to shooting a rifle. Most people prefer it over the side-by-side double barrel shotguns, because they are more accurate and are easier to aim.
Smaller framed adults, teenagers, and older children that can handle the 20 Gauge recoil and would rather not shoot an over/under double barreled shotguns can try the Stoeger Coach double barreled shotguns with a 20” barrel. These are well made and very reliable shotguns that can shoot 2 3/4” or 3” shotgun shells.
As with handguns, in a time of social unrest it’s to your advantage to have and use the same Gauge shotgun ammunition as the police and the military do. This makes it easier to scrounge up extra shotgun ammunition in your gauges during and after these periods of unrest. Now is a good time to find out what is most commonly being used in your area.
For most shotguns today, it is very easy to get repair or spare parts. You can get them today by ordering direct from the shotgun manufacturers or from firearm part dealers. In a time of social conflict, repair or spare parts will not be available on the open market. It is best to purchase extra kits now while you can.
As with any other weapon, it will be a matter of personal preference in terms of which one feels most comfortable and easy to carry. You will still need to choose a rifle that is reliable and can put down an attacker with the first shot, if you have to face the aftermath of a disaster in your urban location.
If you need a few recommendations for semi-autos and bolt action rifles in today’s popular calibers, here are some options. As with the other categories, each of these models has a long standing reputation for reliability and has suitable stopping power for most situations.
The Springfield Saint (Military Spec) AR-15 in the 5.56×45 can also shoot the .223 Remington. This gun is very easy to shoot and works well with high capacity magazines or drums. Because of its low recoil, I recommend it for adults, teenagers and slender built individuals after proper training.
In the 7.62×51, the Springfield M1A would be an excellent choice. I highly recommend the M1A for it’s knock down power, durability, an reliability. It shoots very accurately from 20 round magazines, and is an excellent hunting or battle rifle. I would recommend this rifle for adults and older teenagers that can take the recoil after proper training.
In 7.62×39, the AK-47 is my hands down favorite weapon. This weapon is a proven warhorse rifle that has stood the test of time. It is extremely reliable, low recoiled, shoots high capacity magazines and drums, and has good knock down power. I would recommend this weapon to all shooters except young children after proper training.
My choice for a bolt action rifle is the Ruger Gunsite Scout in .308. This is a well built rifle that is very accurate, reliable, has an 18 inch tactical barrel, and uses ten round magazines. This rifle can be scoped two ways; by a regular scope, or by using a scout scope on the picatinny scope rail. If you don’t wish to scope this rifle, it comes standard with front blade and rear aperture sights. This rifle has a bit of a recoil, so it is best for adults and teenage shooters that can take it after proper training.
For those individuals that would like to shoot semi-auto rifles, but have recoil issues, I would recommend an AR-15 that shoots the 9mm pistol round. This AR could be a companion rifle to anyone that is carrying a Glock 9mm semi-auto pistol. Both of these weapons can use the large capacity Glock magazines when needed. This rifle is safe to use by all shooters after proper training.
If you choose a gun that uses ammunition other than what the local military, police, or sheriffs use, it would be to your advantage to stock up on them now.
For most centerfire rifles of today, it is also easy to get repair or spare parts. You can get them by ordering direct from the manufacturers or from firearm part dealers. Get them now while they are still available and easy to get with relatively little effort.
AR-15s with a folding stock or a collapsible stock and AK-47 rifles with a side folding stock or an under folding stocks can be concealed. It will depend upon the climate, time of day, and the type of clothing being used. Concealing other full sized centerfire rifles will depend on their size and weight. Some are very hard or impossible to conceal.
What About .22 Caliber Rifles and Handguns?
.22 caliber rifles and handguns are great learning and practice tools for shooters of all skill levels. It is also an underestimated defensive round, and will put down attackers quite well with good shot placement.
Training and practice are the keys to being a good marksman and with these firearms. Ammo for these weapons is also cheaper than for higher powered guns, so you will find training and practice more affordable.
I recommend the following .22 caliber rifles and handguns for training and defense:
- For a semi-auto rifle – Ruger 10/22 in stainless steel with a black synthetic stock. This rifle can be scoped or use the metal adjustable sights. The 10/22 is a tough, reliable little rifle with a lot of accessories. Upgrades are also available. If taken care of, this 10/22 will last a life time.
- For a lever action rifle – Henry Lever Action .22 caliber. This is a very well made and dependable rifle that shoots .22 LR, .22L, and .22S.This rifle has adjustable sights or can be scoped.
- For a semi-auto pistol – Ruger Mark III Hunter. This is a .22LR very well made, reliable, stainless steel pistol with adjustable sights, and a 10 round magazine.
- For a .22 caliber revolver – Taurus Tracker in .22LR. This is a very well made and dependable SA/DA stainless steel revolver, with a 4 inch barrel, and a 9 round cylinder capacity.
Typically, .22RL ammunition is not used by most local military, police, or sheriffs. It would be to your advantage to stock up on this ammo now because it will disappear very quickly in time of need. At this time the ammunition is priced reasonably, but you never know when the next shortage will come.
For most .22 caliber handguns and rifles today, it is easy to get repair or spare parts by ordering direct from the manufacturers or from firearm part dealers. It is best to buy extra parts now while you can get them at a reasonable price on the open market.
In a time of social conflict, you have to defend yourself at close, intermediate, and long ranges in an urban environment that goes crazy. Proficiency with handguns, shotguns, and rifles will go a long way to helping you achieve that goal.
Each of these weapon types have their advantages and disadvantages, as do specific models in each category. Regardless of how many models you try out, the best one is always going to be the one you are comfortable with and actually have on hand in a time of need.
Prepare your guns and practice your shooting skills, so you could survive the disaster!
This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.