Hot Gear Friday: Waiting For The End Of The World

The Obama Administration apparently now thinks the economy isn’t going to revert to subsistence farming and roving gangs of thugs led by carnivorous warlords.

But I got to thinking; what if he’s wrong?

What Hot Gear are you, fellow American, going to need to get through a real crisis – not the kind Rahm Emanuel doesn’t want to waste, but the kind that’ll have Rahm Emanuel heading to Camp David with a company of Marines and a truckful of MRE’s?

Here at Shot In The Dark’s “Hot Gear” Department, you ask, we’ll answer.

If the balloon really goes up, there are three categories of Hot Gear we’ll cover:

  • Defensive Firearms
  • Working Firearms
  • Guitars

Other equipment – farming, security, milling, and other gear – is outside my immediate expertise; there are other blogs available for this.  “Hot Gear Friday” is, and has always, been about guns and guitars.
Without further ado, let’s get down to business.

Defensive Firearms

There are really three categories of survival firearms:  a close-defense shotgun, a pistol capable of both stopping a threat and being concealeable enough not to be a visible threat, and a big honking battle rifle.

For pistols, the “sexy” points these days go to the big German/Swiss guns, the Heckler and Koch USP (left) and the SIG 22x-series (R) automatics:

Both are excellent firearms.  But for my money, I’ll stick with the good ol’ Colt M1911:

Any of them are big, reliable manstoppers; if faced with a pack of roving cannibal looters, any of them will get you out of a jam.

Of course, any mention of defensive handguns invokes the inevitable argument between automatic shooters and revolver fans.  And while under normal circumstances – i.e., today, with a functioning police department and a civil society that values human life – six rounds should be plenty.  In a time of complete economic and social collapse?  It’s not for nothing the Tutsi saying “it’s always the seventh through 12th looters that get you” has been burned into the consciences of anyone who has one; the seven rounds (plus one in the pipe) of the Colt, or the 15+1 of the SIG or H&K, make the difference between life and death when the only backup you can call is you.

For shotguns?  Remember – a sporting shotgun works in times when you can take a broken feed ramp up to Cavellas when it’s convenient.  When you have a houseful of angry looters to deal with, though, reliability is king.

Which should lead you to the Remington 870 slide-action.   Ubiquitous, time-tested, and rugged as week-old pizza crust, the 870 covers a lot of territory, from hard-core close-defense shredder to utility piece:

Stick with cylinder bores, and if you can, get the barrel cut down; you don’t need a tight pattern for a room-cleaning heater.  The folding stock and pistol grips look cool and aid concealability, but if you’re not a constant 12-gauge shooter, the pistol grip increases the felt recoil.  Just get one and start practicing; worry about the furniture later.

Finally, the question that really gets the wonks spitting tacks: which assault rifle to pick.

Note that the question is not “whether”; it’s “which”.  Despite the best efforts of the gun controllers, there are many excellent choices out there.  The Belgian FN-FAL and the Italian BM59 are excellent, but rare and somewhat pricey choices:


The Springfield M1A – the civilian version of the M14 – is also an excellent choice…

…although you have to be very careful you buy one with a genuine Springfield receiver; many M1As were built in the seventies (during the last economic panic) with badly-welded knockoff Garand receivers; bad idea.

But for the upper midwest, with its wild extremes of weather, the standout choice is the Heckler and Koch HK91.

It’s spendy, and out of production, but incredibly rugged.  The best testimony for those of us in the frozen north? The Norwegian Army uses a variant, the AG3, and is in little danger of replacing it any time soon; when the weather is awful, the G3/HK91 platform is without equal.

(Budget shopping secret; if you prowl through Shotgun News you can find Spanish CETME Model Cs – the weapon from which the G3/HK91 was derived – at a decent price)

You’ll note I stuck with 7.62x51mm rifles, eschewing 5.56x45mm; I figure since most of us will be defending our homes and neighborhoods from marauders, the 5.56’s main advantages, light weight allowing you to carry bigger loads of ammo, aren’t as important.

Of course, while the various AK and SKS-series derivatives are highly overrated in terms of hitting power and tend to be woefully inaccurate, they are inexpensive and ubiquitous.  If they’re all you can get, by all means, do; it can’t hurt to have one around as spare.  I recommend Bulgarian AKs, or if all else fails the Chinese SKS


And it should go without saying that the M1 Garand – relatively inexpensive, available everywhere, and sporting the old but powerful 30.06 cartridge – is way more than merely useful:

It saved Western Civilization during World War II; it can save you this time, too.  Just lay in a big supply of the troublesome eight-round en bloc clips.
At the end of the day, the key isn’t so much which one, but that you have one.  Because if the economy is as bad as the Minnesoros “Independent” seems to say it’s going to be, you’ll need something to keep your food supply safe from “progressive taxes” imposed by those who weren’t so foresightful.

Working Firearms

Things get a little more nebulous here – but suffice to say, a working battery is different from a self-defense battery; while your defensive guns need to be high-capacity, lethal and utterly reliable, with your working battery’s main features are flexibility and economy; killing varmints and putting “targets of opportunity” on the table with minimum expenditure are the bellwethers.

There are many choices – but a good working battery should have at least a good .22 rifle. .22 Long Rifle rimfire rounds are cheap, so you can lay in a HUGE stockpile, and against small varmints and less-determined enemies it’s a good caliber.  There are innumerable good examples; the Ruger 10/22 and Remington Nylon 66 are both excellent semi-auto .22s.  But for pure reliability, it’s hard to top the Savage Mark II; it’s a turnbolt, so there are very few moving parts, and the action is simple, rugged,and foolproof.

To that, I’d add a good large-frame working revolver.  Revolvers beat autos as working guns, since they operate just fine with any kind of load, from hot factory loads to crap your brother in law loads in his basement; you can keep shotshells in a couple of chambers for squirrels or birds, wadcutters in a couple more for nastier varmints, and Glasers in a couple more in case a couple of famished conceptual artists decide you’d make a fine pot roast; I recommend something in a .45 Long Colt (11.43x32mm), which is a little lower-pressure than a .44 magnum, and easier to reload.  I like the Ruger Redhawk…:

…but there are many excellent pieces using this excellent, versatile, reliable caliber.

The bitch of it is, complete economic meltdown means no electric power, which means no electic guitars.  You’re best off finding some protected closet, out of the light, putting some Dampits in there (and checking them periodically) to keep them from drying out, and holding onto them for better times.

So what’s the best guitar for a complete societal breakdown?  Some wags suggest a Dobro.

It seems tempting to opt for one of the classic metal guitars with the internal resonator cones – because of their extra volume, and because their metal bodies afford extra protection from small-caliber gunfire and make a better close-range defensive weapon – but the resonator cones are hard to replace under primitive conditions; unless you the foresight to stock spare parts, you could be stuck with a big metal box.

Beyond that, really, it’s a matter of personal preference; some theorize a good dreadnought-body guitar might have lower string tension…

…lowering breakage and reducing demand on your stockpile of spare strings (but lay in as many as you can afford anyway).   At any rate, your choice in guitars isn’t all that differnet from your choice in assault rifles; find something rugged, well-built, that is as unlikely as humanly possible to break down when you need it.

There.  You should be ready now.

(Except for that whole “Food Supply” thing).

UPDATE:  Oh, good lord.

OK, I’ll break it down, for those of you dumb enough to read “Minnesota Progressive Report” (aka “Minnesota Short Bus”, among people of all parties with brains in their heads); the piece is tongue in cheek; a sendup of all the gloom and doomers out there (including in the local blogosphere). 

Oh, it’s true – it is the duty of every real, law-abiding American to own and become proficient with a firearm.  Of that, there’s no rational doubt.

But, um, yeah.  “Satire”. 


16 thoughts on “Hot Gear Friday: Waiting For The End Of The World

  1. For a slightly different perspective on the survivalism:

    “See, that’s what’s sad about all this: the post-disaster world will be just like this one, only worse. All the lousy coworkers and squabbles and crap, but none of the luxuries. The winners won’t be the zombies, just another set of bosses. The end of the world is what you call it when your tribe loses. It may be the end of the world for them, like it was for hundreds of native tribes all over the world, but when your world ends like that, you don’t get to play out the game in some cool ruins out of a video game. Some other tribe takes over, that’s all. And when they do, there’s no way on earth you can hole up in your townhouse with a semi-automatic weapon and hold out. Because it’s organization that wins, not lone gunmen. If you want to survive, join a club. It only looks like chaos to the losers.”

  2. Start laying ammo early. I was on Cheaper Than Dirt the other day, they had pages and pages of listings for .38 SPL but all of them on backorder. Literally, there was NOTHING available for immediate delivery except some Checkoslovikian full-wadcutters.

    Yes, I did order a bunch. Full wads are better than nothing. And the .38 is easier for my wife to handle than Old Slabsides. Speaking of which, .45ACP is getting just as scarce.

  3. You’re right this time, Rick, and if you had been a regular Bane reader, you’d remember that one of his main objections to militarization of police departments wasn’t only that they kept finding excuses to try out their new toys, but also that when the end came, those local Barney Fifes would have military-grade equipment and hours of training in small unit urban maneuvers, but no effective civilian control or oversight.

    Meet the new Block Captain.

  4. I’m new to the guitar thing, but I like the Gibson ES-335. It’s easier to reach around than a standard acoustic, & I won’t be playing big rooms anytime soon… or ever. When the electricity comes back, I’ll be able to plug back in. I also like my Steinberger spirit. It is all electric, but it can double as a billy club in a pinch. I don’t know for certain, but I bet I could club a looter to death & the thing would still be in tune.

  5. Someone gave me a box of .45 ACP for Christmas, not realizing I need .45 Colt (which ain’t exactly abundant, either). It gives me an excuse to buy a .45 semi, though.

  6. Because it’s organization that wins, not lone gunmen.

    Actually, “survivalists” as diverse as Bruce Clayton and the Mormon Church say the same thing.

  7. Rick survival is about having a plan. It’s also about how long, and what type of situation.

    LA riots, floods, hurricanes, blizzards, or just getting lost or having your car breakdown in the middle of nowhere.

    Usually comes down to just staying warm and or having H20.

    If it does come down to total anarchy or civil war though (Lord help us) a good rifle would be priceless. If I had to choose just one it would be a bolt action .30 cal.

  8. Well, I already took a delivery of The Judge – awesome! And just ordered Kimber Pro Carry II – sweet! Problem is – no ammo! No 45ACP nor LC, no 380, nothing! Store shelves are bare!

  9. I think organization + firepower beats organization alone.
    People do very well at self-organizing. The problem is that the organized entity does not always look very progressive.

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