While shotguns are great (my preference is a Mossberg 590 with bayonet lug), a rifle chambered for a centerfire cartridge is essential. Whether its something like a Ruger Mini-14 or 30 or a bolt action hunting rifle in .30-06 or .308. There's good reason why a used M1A is over $1,000, but you could get a 'Poor Man's M1A', a used Remington 7400 in 30-06 or 308 and a bunch of the aftermarket 10 rd mags. Remington even has a shorter model 7400 or 740 that's marked Carbine on the receiver. - Dave F. , People's Republic of N.Y.
JWR Replies: I agree that a.30 caliber centerfire a rifle is essential, both for hunting and self defense. Keep in mind, however, that civilian hunting semi-autos and pumps are not designed to withstand the sustained high rate of fire that might occur in a full scale post-TEOTWAWKI firefight. Their internal tolerances are so precisely machined that they are likely to bind up when the action gets hot. Also be aware that they are more tightly chambered than military arms.(Which have intentionally loose dimensions.) You cannot depend on something like a Remington 760 or 7600 to keep shooting reliably after 200 rounds of rapid fire. Nor can you expect them to keep shooting reliably with muddy or gritty cartridges. (As a test, with a Remington 740 or 760 series, try chambering some cartridges that have had their necks smeared with toothpaste. (DO NOT attempt to fire the rifle in this condition--this is only to demonstrate chambering limitations!) Now try the same with a FAL, HK, CETME, or M1A. Odds are that the bolt on the Remington will not go fully forward, whereas the bolt on a military arm usually will. A civilian pump action or semi-auto hunting rifle might suffice in a pinch, but not in an extended firefight! Plan your battery accordingly.