What’s your plan for when the bubble drops? Run? Hide? Arm in place?
Regardless of what your plan is one thing that will be incredibly important is having firearms.
When SHTF the only guarantee you’ll have is that chaos will reign.
Having a firearm, or two, or ten, allows you and your family to defend yourselves, to hunt, and to thrive in chaos.
With such a massive firearms market you may be wondering what firearms should I buy? That’s a good question and one we hope to answer today.
We are going to give you our picks for top SHTF guns, as well as the reasons why. These guns are listed in what I feel is the best order of importance.
The Best SHTF Guns
The Do-Everything Rifle - The AR 15
The Concealable One - The Glock 19
The Hunt it All Gun - Mossberg 500 Series
The Little Guy - The Ruger Mark 4
The Vehicle Gun - The CZ Scorpion
The AR in AR 15 may stand for Armalite, but it might as well stand for America’s rifle. The AR 15 is the most prolific weapon in the United States and it served in several different forms as a military rifle for generations of servicemen. It’s served so long that a Private in the Army is using a derivative of the same gun used by his Grandfather.
On its own merits, the AR 15 is a lightweight, low recoiling gun that fires a capable little round. It’s accurate and precise enough to outclass most military rifles and the civilian market has only made it better. Should the weapon break it’s easy to repair, and most gun owners can easily make repairs at home.
The AR 15 can be used as a defensive rifle to fend off threats for sure. It can also be used to take the game as large as deer, and in a pinch, proper shot placement allows for it to take a much bigger game.
Civilian AR 15s come in all shapes and sizes and I personally suggest a model with a 16-inch barrel in 5.56 and 223 Remington. Size wise you have any easy to maneuver gun with decent ballistics and the ability to hit a man-sized target at 500 yards. The ammo, magazines, spare parts, are incredibly accessible and very easy to find.
Because the AR 15 market is so large it can be easy to buy cheap, but when it comes to an end of the world rifle I wouldn’t go cheap. At the same time, you don’t have to spend a couple of grand for a quality rifle. Guns from Aero Precision, for example, are highly reputed and high quality without a massive price tag. Companies like Daniel Defense, BCM, Sons of Liberty Gunworks, and Knight Armament are all high-quality options that will also give you an outstanding rifle.
- Lots of PMags
- A Quality Sling (Blue Force Gear, Hailey, Viking Tactical)
- A Low Powered Variable Optic
- A Surefire/OWL/Streamlight Weapon light
The Glock 19 is essentially the flagship Glock. It’s easily the most popular model in Glock’s growing line-up. The Glock 19 is considered a compact but is still large enough to be an effective fighting weapon. It’s an excellent combination of size and fighting potential. The Glock 19 has a rail for a light, and I chose it over the Glock 17 for a few reasons. Its smaller size makes it easier to conceal and it can also accept Glock 17 magazines. The Glock 17 cannot accept Glock 19 magazines.
This helps you logistically and makes it easier to find mags. The Glock 19 is an ultra-reliable weapon that’s controllable and accurate. Anyone can take apart a Glock 19 so repairs can be made in the field. The gun’s massive amount of popularity gives you plenty of access to parts, holsters, and other accessories. This includes multiple companies producing a variety of magazines.
You can conceal the Glock 19, and this allows you to move without attracting any attention. In some survival situations, there will be enough law and order around to make it impossible to effectively carry a long gun. A concealable weapon will be a must-have for these situations.
The Glock 19 is also an affordable gun. A brand-new Gen 4 can be found for under 500 bucks, and a Gen 5 might be a hair higher. The Glock 19 doesn’t have the best ergonomics, or the best trigger, or sights, but it’s reliable and the commonality makes logistics a non-concern.
- Lots of Magazines
- Upgrade to metal sights (Trijicon, Ameriglo, etc.)
- A quality holster that’s easy to conceal (Optional light compatibility)
- A Quality weapon light (Surefire, Streamlight, etc.)
A good shotgun can be one of the most versatile weapons you can get. A 12-gauge shotgun can take animals as small as squirrels and birds up to animals as large as bears. The only difference being the ammo you use. I chose the Mossberg 500 over other models due to how easy it is to repair, and how reliable it is. It’s the only pump action to pass the Armed Services torture test and you can fix most of the parts with no special tools.
As a pump shotgun, it’s a reliable and proven tool. If you purchase a twelve gauge you can purchase sub-caliber adapters to shoot any other smaller shotgun shell, as well as most pistol calibers. Like all shotguns, the Mossberg 500 is limited in its potential range. However, inside that effective range, it’s a brutal weapon.
The Mossberg 500 is one of two shotguns that rule the scene. Its main advantage over the Remington 870 is its ease of repair. If you already have a Remington 870 I wouldn’t toss it out to grab a Mossberg 500.
In practice, this would be an excellent tool for hunting for food. Its ability to take nearly any game makes it very versatile. With the right round, it’s also a devastating close-range weapon for defensive purposes. Shotgun ammo is some of the most common ammo on the market and can be found anywhere.
A rimfire weapon is a common addition to any survival cache. Rimfire guns are often lightweight, and the ammo is often very cheap and compact. 500 rounds of 22 LR can be found for 25 bucks and it can fit in your cargo pocket. A good rimfire will allow you to dispatch snakes and small pests without wasting more valuable ammo sources.
The Ruger Mark 4 is Ruger’s newest 22 LR pistol. These guns are quite accurate and come is a variety of configurations. The Mk 4 is the easiest of the Mark series in terms of disassembly and the gun has been produced for so long that spare parts and magazines are widely available. Ruger has mastered making a semi-auto 22LR pistol reliable and the Mark series have been so successful for so long for a reason.
It’s perfect for small game hunting and can take squirrel, rabbit, and similar animals. This keeps you from using more important ammo. For a 22 LR weapon, a handgun is a bit better for SHTF because it’s lighter and easier to carry than a rifle. In a pinch, it can be a defensive weapon but isn’t optimum for that role.
- A Few Spare Mags
The vehicle gun would a weapon you can easily deploy both getting in and out of vehicles as well as inside the vehicle if necessary.
Preferably something with a greater effective range than a handgun, but at the same time something light and short enough to make climbing in and out vehicles quick. The CZ Scorpion, equipped with a pistol brace, satisfies this niche role.
The Scorpion is a blowback 9mm that is technically a pistol but looks just like a submachine gun. The addition of a brace allows you to extend your effective range well beyond standard pistol range.
As a 9mm you are still limited to about a hundred yards, but that’s more than an enough. It sports an 8-inch barrel that allows the 9mm to reach higher velocities than a traditional handgun. However, your handgun and Scorpion can easily share ammo.
The 30 round magazines double the firepower most handguns offer, and the weapon’s layout makes it easier to change mags and clear malfunctions. The scope rail allows the easy mounting of a red dot, and the longer iron sight radius makes longer range shots easier.
The weapon is still small enough to sit in your lap as you drive and light enough to be fired one-handed if necessary. If you need to stop for gas, to change a tire, or to scout a situation it’s easier to get in and out with the Scorpion than a standard rifle.
This is likely the most niche gun on the list, but it does satisfy a need when traveling via wheeled vehicle and facing potential danger. The Scorpion is a reliable weapon, and popular. You can find magazines easily, but admittedly scraping spare parts together will be tricky. It does use a simple blowback action and taking it apart is very simple to do.
- Spare magazines
- A One Point Sling
How I Chose These Guns
This list isn’t just a list of good guns for SHTF, but a list of different roles you may need to occupy with your guns.
I’ve not only chosen weapons for these roles, but I chose the roles themselves. The purpose of each of these guns is just as important as the guns themselves.
Purely talking about the weapons, I wanted to choose weapons I know are reliable.
First off, you want a gun that isn’t going to jam or have malfunctioned.
Second, you want a gun that can last an incredibly long time.
Third, I wanted weapons that are easy to repair and easy to replace parts on. This means they don’t need any special tools, and the parts must be common.
An example is the Colt Python. It’s one of the finest service revolvers out there. It certainly won’t malfunction very often, but it’s not a weapon that will last forever.
The Python is well known for losing timing, especially when using rounds designed for defensive purposes. Fixing one isn’t easy, and it’s not a gun you’ll commonly find parts for.
Next, I wanted weapons that can be versatile and used in more than one scenario. A gun dedicated to just hunting, like a single shot rifle, isn’t very versatile. I wanted guns that could do a little bit of everything, even if they weren’t the best at everything or even the best at one thing.
I also wanted guns that are easy to use. It should be easy to shoot accurately, easy to carry, easy to control, easy to take apart, etc. Everything about the gun should be easy to do. I didn’t want to choose a gun that is complicated in any way.
Lastly logistics. These ties back to reliability in terms of parts for repair, but we also want to focus on ammo and accessories.
I chose weapons with common ammo you can find in both sporting goods stores and armories across the country. Accessory wise I was worried about the basics. Is it easy to find magazines, slings, optics, lights, and holsters? If not, they didn’t make the list. Don’t forget you will need a safe and proper way to store ammo for the longest shelf life, also
You Don’t Need Them All
One major take away with this list is that you don’t need every gun listed. I would suggest at least the first two, and beyond that, the rest of the guns stand to you make you more versatile, but they aren’t necessary to survive. Even just having one of these guns will put you ahead of many.
Also, I’d rather take one high-quality weapon than 5 low tier budget guns, just keep that in mind. Until next time, stay safe, stay armed, and keep prepping.
Travis Pike Author Bio
I’m a Marine Infantry veteran, NRA firearm instructor, and survival expert. I am an experienced combat veteran and have had the opportunity to travel the world on two separate deployments.
I cross trained in military intelligence, infantry tactics, and small arms. I can take an unfamiliar subject and dive headfirst into it, learning and educating myself in it. This allows me to write on a wide variety of subjects.
I’ve written on everything from the Silk Road to Federal tax subsidies for use of Green energy. I am a subject matter expert in small arms, and I am quite knowledgeable in survival tactics, knives, and self-defense. I am a gun rights advocate, and knowledgeable on the politics and laws of firearms.