One of the most common questions that people ask is “What’s the best gun for survival?” That’s a hard question to answer, because a lot has to do with the individual’s survival plans, personal ability and where they are going to be surviving.
Basically, firearms fulfill two basic functions in a survival situation; providing a means of self-defense and hunting for food. Of the two, most people seem to focus on the self-defense aspect, assuming there will be a general breakdown of society. But if you’re intent is to bug out and live in survival shelter, somewhere out in the wild, a breakdown in society isn’t going to be as important as hunting for dinner.
One important thing to keep in mind is that there will never be a time where it’s okay to kill someone preemptively as a part of “self-defense.” To start with, regardless of how badly society breaks down, there will always be people who will be trying to maintain law and order, even if it is only vigilante groups. You can be sure that they won’t be interested in hearing why you shot someone who is half a mile away, because you “knew” they would be coming to attack you.
Even without those groups, there will probably be some sort of recovery that will happen, after the disaster. When that happens, you can be sure that there will be those who are bent on justice for those who were killed by people defending themselves. So you’d better make sure that it’s clearly self-defense.
I bring this up, because I see people talk about sniper rifles, fully automatic military rifles and other guns that might not be all that practical for self-defense. If all you can legally do is defend home and property, that means that you should only concern yourself with shooting someone who is on your property and has demonstrated hostile intent. Hopefully, they’ll have demonstrated it by shooting at your house.
So, any shooting you’re going to have to do is going to be relatively short range. That’s the kinds of guns we should concentrate on; pistols, AR-15s and shotguns. Let’s set the sniper rifles aside for hunting with later.
But which should you use?
I recommend that every shooter in your survival team have at least a pistol and a long gun of some sort (rifle or shotgun). As one famous firearms instructor once put it, “You wear a pistol so that you have something to fight with, while you’re making your way to where you left your long gun.”
Some people prefer revolvers and others semi-automatic. As for advantage, the revolver is a simpler firearm, which means that it is less likely to have problems in a survival situation. That advantage can be neutralized by having spare parts for any pistol and knowing how to disassemble and reassemble it. Semi-automatics, on the other hand, can be reloaded much faster, helping to keep you in the fight. For that reason, my preference is for semi-automatic pistols.
As for caliber, the best caliber for anyone is the largest caliber that they can shoot comfortably. I shoot both 9mm and .45 ACP, using them for different things. Both are excellent rounds; but excellent in different ways.
As for the long guns, I’d go for a mix of tactical shotguns and AR-15s, allowing each team member to select and outfit their long gun as they so choose. The mix gives your team the best chances of having the right firearm available for any particular need.
But the real answer to this pressing question is… the best firearm is the one that you can use well. Ultimately, it’s the skill of the shooter, more than the firearm they are shooting, which is going to make the difference. A truly skilled shooter can shoot well with anything, even though they will have their favorites. But a poor shooter isn’t going to do any better, just because they’ve got a fancy gun.