The thing about advice is that one never really knows if its good…sometimes we don’t find out whether it’s good or not until it’s too late. As an example, a financial advisor in a bank might get paid and hourly wage to tell you where you should put your money. Some of us however, know that there are people who are sitting on private beaches in beautiful tropical destinations sipping margaritas as a result of their investment strategies. So whose advice would be more beneficial?

When it comes to guns for preppers, there are probably thousands of different experts handing out advice online and in books. Most of this advice is excellent but in this article we are focusing on breaking everything down to the simplest variant.

If you are a beginner prepper or are new to firearms, this article is for you.


The objective of this article is not to get into arguments about calibers, energy on target, high-tech gadgets or accuracy. All of these topics will come into play and can be discussed till cows come home, once the basics have been taken care of.

So what are the basics?

All preppers should have a minimum of three firearms in their inventory. A rim fire rifle, a small to medium caliber centerfire rifle, and a shotgun. These three firearms will do for you absolutely everything you might need in a survival or grid down scenario.


The most popular rim fire caliber is the 22 Long Rifle. Hundreds of different brands and models of rifles are chambered in the 22LR and it might be one of the most versatile survival round out there. Many dedicated survival rifles like the Henry Survival have been chambered in the 22 LR and are popular backups for anyone who spends a lot of time in the wilderness.

Many people think that when the pioneers made their way out west they lived off deer, elk and moose that they hunted for meat. As that certainly was the case, much of the settler’s diet also consisted of critters such as squirrels, rabbits and grouse. Trapping a squirrel is great but with a .22 obtaining some quick protein is way easier and faster.

In an emergency scenario, you might not have the help and resources to gut, skin, clean and preserve a whole moose. Smaller animals, which can be prepared whole are therefore much more suitable.

22 LR ammunition is also relatively inexpensive. As of this writing, about 1400 rounds can be purchased for around $100. These prices and very manageable recoil make the 22 LR excellent for learning proper marksmanship skills and for teaching younger kids proper and safe handling of firearms.

One of the most popular rim fire rifles is the Ruger 10/22. It is probably the most sold .22 in North America and there are many different after-market accessories available for it.


There are literally hundreds of different calibers that one can choose for their rifle. Many hunters and shooters are always on the lookout for the best “all around” caliber ad opinions as to what constitutes such a round are endless.  

For those starting out or those buying a prepper rifle, consider the following factors.

  • a) Availability/logistics – a caliber that is everywhere. That means every Wall Mart will have it, every gas station that sells hunting licenses will have it and every “hole in the wall” gun shop will have it
  • b) Off the shelf loads – That is the available bullet weight that the ammunition comes in.
  • c) What kind of rifles are chambered in this caliber
  • d) Performance

Let’s look at each point closely.

A round that is available everywhere and will always be everywhere has a tendency to be older and proven. Something that has a wide range of factory loads, for example from 110 grain bullet all the way to 180 grain bullet will provide you with plenty of variety of ammunition loads to shoot muskrat to white tailed deer and all the way to a black bear effectively. You can buy semi-auto rifles as well as bolt action rifles and even long range precision rifles chambered in these calibers. As far as performance is concerned, it might be a good idea to have a round that will take down an elk at three hundred meters and a black bear within one hundred.

The two calibers that will fit most if not all of these requirements are the .308 Winchester and 30-06 Springfield. As an example, Federal Ammunition manufactures 30-06 ammo from 125 grain all the way to 220 grain. This gives the 30-06 flexibility that few calibers can compete with.

Both of these rounds have been around for a long time and both rounds have been re loaded thousands of times. There are millions of recipes online for those who are interested in reloading these calibers and their performance can be enhanced by working up your own load.

A 168 grain bullet in a .308 Winchester with a muzzle velocity of 2700 feet per second has more than enough energy to make an effective kill within three hundred meters and even beyond if the shooter has the necessary skills. The .308 and 30-06 are also much less expensive to purchase since they are smaller than some of the larger magnum rounds which means more time spent shooting and less time spent saving cash for ammo.  


A shotgun should be in a preparedness arsenal simply because of versatility. 12 Gauge being the most common and versatile of all shotgun calibers, it will provide you with everything from a bear defensive capability to upland and waterfowl hunting option.

Many shotgun manufacturers such as Winchester (now owned by Browning) make guns that are sold with two barrels. One is a short, usually eighteen inch barrel used for defensive applications and can fire rifled slugs as well as buckshot. The second barrel is a long, 28 inch barrel with changeable chokes and is used for upland and waterfowl hunting.  Switching barrels is a very simple process and each gun is sort of like having two guns in one. These types of guns can be purchased for around $500 new.

12 Gauge ammuntion also comes in such a wide variety of loads that you would be hard pressed to find a job that you couldn’t do with a shotgun. Everything from hunting big game to small upland birds can be accomplished with one gun just by switching ammunition. 

Remington and Mossberg also sell package shotguns with two barrels. All three brands are excellent quality and all three can be considered as very reliable. To keep things simple, stick with a regular pump action shotgun and learn to use it well.


In Canada, with very, very few exceptions, it is against the law to carry pistols for hunting or self defense. Their use is restricted to a certified range only.

Pistols have their place and there are many calibers that are more than capable of taking down wild game as well as serving in defensive roles. In the end however, a pistol is that device that you will use so you can get to your rifle. Once the handgun is drawn in a defensive situation, it is likely that many things have started going wrong long time ago.


The above mentioned calibers are simply suggestions of proven, tested and tried rounds that will serve you very well in all survival situations. There are however additional points to keep in mind.

Guns need ammunition. Without it they are nothing but a bunch of springs and pieces… regardless of what caliber you do end up choosing, ensure you have a supply of ammunition.

In order for the rifle or shotgun to be effective, you must train. All shooting skills must be practiced and keep in mind that when you are shooting at a target, it will be slightly different than when you’re shooting at a Grizzly bear who is close enough for you to smell his breath. If hunting is part of your post-collapse plan, you are strongly advised to start practicing now and actually getting out there during hunting season.

As time goes on and you gain more experience with firearms, you may want add to your collection more specialized rifles or handguns. To start however, consider the above information and hone your shooting skills. And most importantly…be careful whose advice you buy!

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