5 Best SHTF Guns Chosen by Marine Infantry Veteran

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

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  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 Do-Everything Rifle – The AR 15


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.

Suggested Accessories

  • Lots of PMags
  • A Quality Sling (Blue Force Gear, Hailey, Viking Tactical)
  • A Low Powered Variable Optic
  • A Surefire/OWL/Streamlight Weapon light

The Concealable One – The Glock 19

glock 19

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.

Suggested Accessories

  • 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.)

The Hunt it All Gun – Mossberg 500 Series

mossberg 500

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.

Suggested Accessories

  • Quality Sling (Blue Force Gear, Hailey, Viking Tactics, etc.)
  • A side saddle for extra ammo.

The Little Guy – The Ruger Mark 4

ruger mark 4

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.

Suggested Accessories

  • Holster
  • A Few Spare Mags

The Vehicle Gun – The CZ Scorpion

cz scorpion

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.

Suggested Accessories

  • 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.

colt pythonAn 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

Man Holding Gun on Savannah

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.

13 thoughts on “5 Best SHTF Guns Chosen by Marine Infantry Veteran”

  1. I am looking to buy my first gun First off I am 60 years old and have no experence What kind of gun could I get that would be light and have very little kick I also what one that has the red light sights

    • I’m just saying that there is a better chance of that ammo being found since it’s more common ammo. How we’ll end up with that ammo, can be taken many ways 😉

  2. I completely agree with the AR-15 choice as well as the Mossberg 500. And I think that Glock is a fantastic choice too but I’ve tried to go a step further with mine. I picked up a G23 Gen4 and a 40-9 conversion barrel, magazines for both the G19 and the G23, and a G32 barrel. Now my one handgun can fire, with a quick barrel and magazine change, 9mm, .40S&W, and/or .357Sig. And as I understand it you can also do this with the G20 (10mm, .40S&W, .357Sig, and even 9X25 Dillion) and the G21 (45ACP, 10mm, 400 CorBon, and .40 S&W in a pinch).

  3. I’d recommend you consider the Remington 887 Tactical, in lieu of the Remington 870 or Mossberg. The 887 is also a 12 gauge pump with a synthetic stock, but unlike its cousin, the 870, the 887 is coated with something Remington refers to as “ArmorLokt” which makes the barrel and any other parts that are coated impervious to moisture. Based on what I’ve seen, the 887 is also the same price as the 870. While the 887 doesn’t have as many after-market add-ons as the 870, it’s a pretty complete package right out of the box that doesn’t really need customization.

  4. Something to consider;

    Whatever weapons you choose you need to do 4 things;
    1. Stockpile Ammo for each weapon 2000 rounds for each. No you can’t carry that much if you have to bug out so you will need to think of cache this at different places or waypoints which means you gotta have the 6 P’s. Prior Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance,i.e, your possible death.

    2. Stockpile parts for each weapon and cache these in different places. This mean magazines and parts kits.

    3. If you don’t have any type of Training by Military or Law Enforcement(or even if you do) do your research and pick a good school. Then go and pick their brain!

    4. Last but not least Practice, Practice, Practice. Once you become proficient stay that way. It is accepted by martial artists and physiologists that it takes 3,000 to 7,000 repetitions to create enough long term muscle memory that you can preform a complex psycho-motor skill like drawing and firing a weapon. Once fight or flight kicks in the lizard brain kicks in. YOU WILL FIGHT LIKE YOU TRAIN. That being said learn to do it right. It takes a long time to unlearn bad training.

    Yeah this is going to cost some money for the ammo, parts kits, magazines and school. That’s why you have to do your research. On a budget you can shop and catch the parts kits and mags on sale now. Ammo has come down too.

    Check the old vet down the street and see if he willing to give pointers. Vietnam Vets are a wealth of information especially on being out past the wire with no support. I learned a lot from them and added to it in my days in the Army. The next are the Current Vets, if there Combat Arms Infantry and have been on multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan you can gain a wealth of information. A word of caution. If you approach a vet and he doesn’t want to talk about it, let it go and look for another source.

    Do a Google search on training. Take what you find here with a grain of salt and verify. Some of the Gun Forums can help you with all of the above.

    Read, Read, Read. Otto von Bismarch said Wisdom is learning from the collected aggregate of the mistakes of others. Thats why we read and study and reach out beyond our own experiences.
    Search for (Google) Drill-Book-November-2013-WITH-NOTES
    Look for
    Combat Handgunnery by Massad Ayoob
    Special Forces CQB Manual Paladen Press
    Art Of Tactical Carbine, Volumn 1 & 2, 2nd Edition by Magpul
    The Art of the Dynamic Handgun by Magpul
    The Art of the Dynamic Shotgun by Magpul

    Buy what you can and practice.

  5. I think it is a good opportunity to get a bulk quantity of underwood Ammo at the best price. It is a trusted online store that offers bulk for ammo for your Rifles, Handguns, Shotguns & Rimfires at an affordable rate

  6. I’ve been prepping for years, when my good ol grandparents and great grandparents were alive they sit me down with Apple pie cookies and a little ice cream and told me to ALLWAYS!!! Buy two of everything. They told me the days about world war 2 and my dad told me about Vietnam about how mean and cruel the enemy AND our own government is when there is no calm SO I’ve got me an AK47, glock 22 40 cal with a 9mm barel, 4 different models of 12 gauge shotgun, a Remington 700 30-06, a Marlin 336w 30-30 and thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammo AND reloading equipment


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