Tuesday, April 24, 2018

SHTF Rifle Selection

Hey FerFAL,

So I've read the book and blog and first of all thanks for helping me to start prepping realistically and focusing my training on my defensive handgun that I CCW anywhere I can, and I understand that it's what I'm goin to use 95 percent of the time.
But I have questions on what rifle.

I currently have an AK that I have had for awhile and it has been nothing but perfectly reliable. I know you recommend the AK but you also state all types of importation stops or gets expensive and the vast majority of ammo in 7.62x39 is imported from Russia and things are not good between the US and Russia right now so I get worried about a lack of imports. American made 7.62x39 is so expensive I might as well go 308 which I have been considering.

Basically I don't have a very good stock of ammo for the AK and I might be able to get a thousand rounds or two in the near future (maybe) but then after importation issues after an economic collapse means I couldn't get anymore or it would be expensive. Do you think I should switch to an AR in 5.56 or maybe another rifle in 308? And start stocking up on either of those or should I just keep stocking up as much 7.62x39 before the crisis? Does all types of ammo get pretty hard to get?
There is just a significant amount of domestically produced 5.56 and 308 as well and I wanted your opinion as I know the rifle is the least likely thing to use in defense but I try to keep it near when I can.
I also have a friend that lives 30 miles outside the city in a small sub division that is becoming my bug out spot and I've considered stashing the rifles there as well as they would be more needed I feel, and it is fairly open spaces but I know I won't be picking them off from afar. But most likely I will be at my house for the crisis.

I apologize for the long message this has just been bugging me and although I prefer the AK and enjoy it the most out of any weapon I've ever used I want to be as prepared as I can be and I trust your advice on this. I also have a wife that has her own handgun that she keeps with here and she doesn't mind using the rifle she just prefers her handgun and because of her size she much prefers AR15s when it comes to rifles so if I had one she would be more inclined to use it but I don't know how important that consideration is.

Thank you again for hearing me out and helping me with this.

Hi Connor,

Thanks for your email and sorry for the delay in replying.

The AK47 has several advantages from a survival and preparedness point of view. Its tough as nails, reliable as they come, simple, easy to maintain and fires cheap powerful 7.62 caliber ammo. 7.62x39mm is somewhat similar to 30-30, which means its good enough for deer size game hunting as well. The Ak74 is a similar platform but fires smaller 5.45 ammo which is even cheaper. 7.62x39mm is still cheap to buy in bulk and one of the best bang per buck deals.
Having said this every American should own an AR15 platform gun as well. Granted, no they cant be made in some dirt hut with a hammer and some scrap metal, but given the enormous popularity they enjoy it makes sense to have one too.

I’m not much of a fan of the direct gas impingement system it uses but they have their attributes too. Light, great ergonomics, customizable, easy to put optics, easy to handle and very accurate. Not my first choice as the last, end of the world gun and if I did go with an AR, I’d go for a Short Stroke Piston model. But the truth is that knowing your gun well and servicing it properly your AR will do everything you need it to do. 223 ammo is a bit more expensive but it is very common, used by police and military.

I would certainly keep your AK and throw in a couple cases more of ammo for a rainy day. But the way the market is right now with very good prices and given that your wife likes the AR as well, I’d grab a couple ARs too, as funds allow. You don’t have to buy the fanciest gun either. The S&W M&P15 Sport II retails for around $600 NIB. Throw a Vortex Sparc AR Red Dot or better yet, an Aimpoint Micro and you’re good to go.

Colt M4 Magpul carbine with Aimpoint Micro and rear backup iron sights (BUIS). The front sight is a JP Adjustable Gas System.

If you want a true battle rifle then yes, a 308W is what you want. In my mind that’s an FAL. A lot of that depends on the location and situations you plan on using it in, but in general intermediate caliber carbines are lighter, faster and just more handy and make more sense.
Aimpoint 200170 Micro, T-2 2 MOA W/Standard Mount
Aimpoint 200170 Micro, T-2 2 MOA W/Standard Mount

As you said, your CCW, your handgun, that’s the gun you are far more likely to ever use. If you ever need a rifle and you happen to have it with you, then an AR or AK will both serve you well.
So, answering your questions: I’d sure keep the AK and calmly shop around for extra ammo, try to put 500 -1,000 rounds away for a “rainy day”. This could be the rifle you eventually keep stashed at your friend’s location as a backup.

I would also keep an eye out for a good deal on an AR. Eventually, as funds allow, get one for each of you. Having two of the same means you have a backup since you both will know how to operate it, and in a hurry either one of you can use either rifle, share mags, ammo, parts.

I know all of this sounds expensive (and it is) but don’t hurry. You already have the important part which is your CCW and you also have the AK, so there’s no rush. Take your time, buy slowly and invest in quality gear. My Colt M4 isnt the most fancy AR but its a solid gun that can be trusted, same for the Aimpoint Red Dot (which is worth every cent). Having said that if it goes beyond your budget the M&P15 Sport II combined with a Vortex red dot is also a solid combo.
The AR is a good platform to learn on and use for practical shooting competition. If your wife likes AR15 more then go with that as your main long arm. Yes, I’d say this is an important consideration. Worst case scenario if something happens it’s an extremely popular platform and ammo will always be available for it, even if the supply of cheap import ammo dries up.

Hope that helps.
Kind regards,

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”


Anonymous said...

Durability is the biggest advantage of the Ak imho, the drop tests done on rifles with adjustable buttstocks are terrible, forget about using the stock as a melee weapon either.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with Ferfal but..... If money was a problem I would sell the AK and get the AR if your wife wants to learn to shoot rifles. I am a strong believer in uniform platforms for each in a group. Just does not make sense to have a wife with the AR and husband with a AK. Share mags and ammo if needed. Also remember the rifle is only part of the cost. Mags, sights, cleaning kit and ammo also cost.

I love my WASR. I shoot it very well. I would not mind having only a AK for SHTF. Has been 100% reliable and hell on feral hogs. But for SHTF type situations the wife and I both have a AR as that is what the wife likes. I am not one of the types that stock 10K rounds of ammo. If SHTF happens do you really think you will survive 10K of firefights? I am quite comfy with 1000 rounds STRICTLY for SHTF. 10 AK mags but 21 AR mags (for each rifle). They are just not as robust as the AK mags. Ken

Anonymous said...

If you are really looking for something that will still be on line 2 years after TEOTWAWKI. DO NOT buy any version of the AR-15. The M16/M4/AR/are ALL designed to need large scale parts replacement on a regular basis. The AK is the best choice for a semi-auto survival rifle. BUT: In the bush without modern support the bolt gun rules. In the survival game firepower comes in a distant third or fourth behind reliability , ease of use/care, killing power, and above all. AMMUNITION CONSERVATION. It doesn't hurt that 250 rounds of 30.06 for my M1, M-1903 or Mauser; in clips, is actually several pounds lighter than the same amount of magged up 7.62 NATO for that FAL/G3/M14 clone. It hits harder and is easier to find in most of the US than almost any other "military" ammo, as it was Americas #1 hunting round for over a century. Semi-autos are a Post Clinton ban fad and very popular. But are not a good first choice for survival.--Ray

Dan Patterson said...

Agree with the bolt vs semi point. To keep things simple would a pump shotgun be an option? Various loads to meet demand does complicate things, but the versatility is impressive.
Your point about 9mm revolver is an excellent one as well; added to my to-get list.