I have read article after article on gun reviews, the best pistol to buy, how to fire one, etc. However, what about those who don’t even know where to start on what type of gun they need? I will give a brief synopsis on where to begin when buying guns for self-defense.
First, we need to look at what exactly you will be defending yourself against. For self-defense away from home, there is no better protection than a pistol. But before you go and buy yourself a sidearm and pack it inside your waistband, be sure you know the legalities of where you are traveling. Most states require a Concealed Carry Permit (CCP), which allows you to carry a concealed weapon in public; minus a few restrictions such as government buildings and places that sell alcohol. Some states don’t allow you to carry at all, while some don’t even require a permit. An easy way to learn about CCPs is to visit www.usacarry.com. You will find nearly everything you need to know about CCPs for each state and then some.
Many states will require you to complete a basic pistol shooting class before you can obtain your CCP. This class is taught by instructors certified by the National Rifle Association. To locate a class nearest you visit www.nrainstructors.org . Here you can find information on a plethora of courses offered by the NRA. Even if you don’t plan on obtaining a CCP, it is still beneficial to attend one of these courses. I recommend it for both beginners and also veterans who haven’t completed the course. Many veteran shooters do not use proper shooting techniques such as breathing and stance that could improve their precision and accuracy. The course normally ranges in price from about $50-$150 and requires about 50-100 rounds of ammunition. Many places will even provide a weapon, but ensure that you obtain all details for the class given at each specific location.
Whether you intend to obtain a CCP and carry in public or not, you will have to determine what type of pistol you need. You need to decide for yourself what is more important in a variety of different areas. While revolvers are the epitome of reliability, they may not be the best choice when you need to fire more than six rounds in a short amount of time. Revolvers are very easy to use and less complex than semi-automatic pistols, especially for the new gun owner. Malfunctions rarely occur and if they do they take mere seconds to fix.
I recommend a semi-automatic pistol due to the number of cartridges they can handle and their ability to be concealed. There are hundreds of different handguns out there and everyone seems to have their own opinion on which is best. Let’s first start with the caliber required. I would not recommend anything smaller than a .380 caliber for self-defense. While there may be the urge for a new gun owner to purchase a .22 caliber handgun, I highly recommend against it for self-defense. It just isn’t big enough. Can it kill someone? Absolutely. But it can also put you in a very difficult situation with someone who carries something larger. The best utility semi-automatic pistol out there for both the newbie and the veteran is the 9mm Luger. Ammo is plentiful and cheaper than most ammunition out there due to its massive popularity. There are many makes and models of the 9mm so again it depends on what you what. Are you looking for easy concealment or is dependability your main concern? I could write on this topic alone for days, so instead I’ll get right to the point. Go to a gun store and get a feel for whatever gun feels best to you. While I personally recommend the Glock 19, there are many others guns that are equally dependable and effective. The .40 caliber is also a popular choice for many handgun owners, as well as the .45. I suggest you do some research on your own to learn what’s best for you before visiting the gun store. If you believe bigger is better, then you might want to consider a .44 magnum or 10mm. The 10mm is found in many semi-automatics but unless you want to carry around a seven pound Desert Eagle, you will have to opt for the .44 in a revolver. I personally own three handguns: a Ruger .380 ACP which I use for easy concealment, a Glock 20 10mm which I use for self-protection and hunting, and a Beretta M9 9mm. I am an Army NCO with 17 years of service and carry my assigned Army M9 during my deployments. There is no better way to be proficient with the weapon you are carrying in combat than owning it and firing it regularly. Owning my own Beretta M9 allows me to do just that. Whatever you decide, remember that everyone has their own opinion. With a little bit of research and a visit to the gun store, in the end you will be much better off with any handgun at your side than none at all.
Now let’s talk about home defense. Again, there are many variables here. Do you live in a rural area on 100 acres or in an urban area such as downtown Chicago? To me there is no better weapon for self-defense inside your home than a 12 gauge shotgun armed with 00 buckshot. You’re talking about a massive amount of fire-power and not much room for an invader to escape at short distances. Deciding which shotgun to buy once again goes back to exactly how you want to use it. If you will also be using it for hunting, what will you be hunting for? Turkey? Deer? Waterfowl? There are guns/barrels designed for all of them and if money is limited you may want to choose a shotgun that will suffice for all. If you hit an invader with some 00 buckshot, I highly doubt he or she will know the difference in what brand of shotgun it was fired from. To me, you can’t go wrong the venerable Remington 870. You can configure it with many different barrels suiting your desired target and it can be purchased at a reasonable price. For dependability you can’t go wrong with a Benelli Nova Pump, but if price is your main concern then consider a Mossberg 500 or 930. All of them will do the job, but realize there is a difference in reliability. A pump-action shotgun is going to be more reliable than a semi-auto, not to mention less expensive. But, if your main reason for purchase is home defense, you may want that auto-loader that will throw massive amounts of lead as fast as you can pull the trigger. For this, I recommend none other than the Saiga 12. The Russian-made semi-auto shotgun can be loaded with 12 to 25 round drums and completely unloaded within seconds. The amount of damage one of these can do is terrifying. To watch a quick video of what the Saiga 12 is capable of, then watch this YouTube video.
If you live in a rural area, you may need to reach out a bit further to hit your intended target. For this you will need a rifle. Like shotguns and pistols, rifles come in many varieties. A bolt-action rifle such as the Remington Model 700 is going to be extremely accurate and reliable, but for home-defense I recommend a semi-auto such as the .223/5.56mm caliber. This is one of the most popular rifle rounds in the world. Ammunition is plentiful and available at a very reasonable cost. It is the round used by most Soldiers in the Armed Forces and its dependability, accuracy, and lethality has been proven many times over. For this weapon I recommend either the Ruger Mini-14 or one of the many brands of the AR-15. Either one of these will accommodate 30-round magazines and have an effective range of about 300 yards, although capable of being lethal at further distances. If you want a bit more punch, I recommend the AR-10 variant called the Remington R-25. This is one of the best weapons I have ever fired but it comes with a hefty price tag. It is available in the .243 Winchester, 7mm-08, and .308 calibers. All of them will get the job done. The .308 caliber is a very popular round and is used in many weapons by the United States Armed Forces. It is also a very effective cartridge for medium-sized game hunting.
I know there may be a lot debate on which gun is better than another. That topic is very subjective. My intent is simply to give someone the basics and a couple of recommendations for those who are just getting started in the self-defense arena of prepping. Don’t just take my word for it; use this as guidance and do some research for yourself. There are many solid gun reviews on this blog such as: “Pat's Product Review: The Saiga 12 Shotgun” written on March 28th 2011. You can find a review for nearly every gun you are considering to purchase. I recommend reading reviews once you have come to the conclusion on what type and caliber, not brand, of gun you wish to purchase. Be careful on what reviews you read. Ensure the review is not written from someone who has a vested interest in the product itself. Many of the best unbiased reviews come from none other than SurvivalBlog.com.
Whatever you decide, self-protection for your assets in a SHTF scenario is a must. It doesn’t do you much good to have a year’s worth of food, water, and other necessities if you have no means of protecting them from unprepared citizens. Visit your local gun store, do some research, and shop around for the best deal once you are decided on the gun you want. Many times the asking price is negotiable despite the price on the tag. Also, shop around online for guns. While I am an advocate of supporting local businesses, buying guns online is a lot easier than you may think. Simply find the gun you want to purchase from an online gun retailer and have the gun shipped to a local Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer (FFL). Most gun stores will accept firearms in for a nominal fee, usually about $25. Once your gun arrives at your chosen FFL dealer, you will complete the paperwork and background check, pay the transfer fee, and be on your way. It’s that easy. I have completed many transfers from guns I have purchased online and it is much easier than I ever thought it to be. Most online gun retailers have an FFL finder integrated into their web site, but there are many ways to find a local FFL dealer such as FFLGunDealers.net. Once you locate an FFL dealer, contact them to ensure they accept incoming transfers and ask them what their fee is. FFL dealer’s fees vary just like the price of the gun itself.
It is never too soon to start purchasing the firearms you will need. With the current economy, guns are continually going up in price, not down. Ammo is continually rising in both price and demand. Once you purchase your gun, do not skimp on ammunition. Buy hundreds if not thousands of rounds. That gun will be worthless without the ammunition it needs to fire. Any extra ammunition you have may be used as a barter tool. Just keep that last statement in mind; there will be a lot more demand for .223 or 9mm than .25-06 or .460 Magnum. The latter are decent cartridges, but good luck finding ammo when the SHTF-or anyone to barter with that needs them.
Even if you never need to use your guns for self-defense, they make good financial investments in today’s low-yield savings account economy. There are many politicians on Capitol Hill lobbying to reinstate the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban (Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) signed into law by President Clinton that expired in 2004. Many guns available now will likely become banned in the future and would sell at a premium. Buying the right guns ensures that you may still have a high-yield retirement account in a future inflationary scenario. No matter your reasons, being an educated gun owner always pays off.