I used to be a gun fag, but lost that status when we moved into our current home and quadrupled the number of windows in our residence. The gun collection has since decreased over the past 12 years, but as time goes on I hope to once again achieve gun fag status. Then again, it's only a hobby and the composition of many collections often changes with the owner over time as their interests evolve.
Most guys I know keep a couple guns around for “just in case”. In many instances they get rid of them when they hook up with a hot piece of ass who doesn't like them, or at the very least stick them in the back of a closet where they collect dust and cat fur for years. Then you have the guys who like to go hunting, and the survivalist types who think they need close to military-grade firepower in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. Finally you have the gun collectors who are into the hobby for any number of reasons. Mine was an interest in military history and an appreciation of things mechanical, although admittedly they are handy to have around “just in case.”
Back when I wrote my last book, I gave some opinions on guns for the modern survivalist. Not a lot has changed in four years other than prices going up and availability going down. This article is a combination of some reminiscing about the more interesting and cooler guns I've owned, and some thoughts about gun acquisitions in the current hysteria.
The popular, ubiquitous and humble .22LR cartridge has been touted by many as one of the better survivalist cartridges out there. Indeed, you can carry a thousand rounds of the stuff in your backpack without even breaking a sweat, and until the recent panic, a couple hundred bucks in Federal Reserve Notes would get you a decent rifle and a really large quantity of ammo.
Rimfire cartridges are non-reloadable for the most part. The recent panic had many .22LR shooters hitting it hard. Right now .22LR is hard to come by and expensive. Bricks of ammo normally selling for ~$20 each have been seen offered for prices approaching $100. Those of us who've been at this a while have been slowly building up our stocks a box or brick at a time over the years, and can laugh at all the Johnny-come-latelies. I would expect that if the status-quo remains the same, .22LR ammo would become cheap and available once again. However, recent events give me pause as to the actual real-world viability of .22LR in a long term grid down situation. Unless an easy method of reloading or small-scale manufacturing the stuff is developed, .22LR could go the same way as many other rimfire cartridges from the turn of the 20th Century. With that said, I've found that .22LR stores well in the long-term under semi-normal conditions so if you can find it and afford it you would be able to amass a lifetime supply of the stuff.
The first rifle I bought when I turned 18 was one of these AR-7s. Designed for use by downed aircrews, the entire rifle disassembles without any tools and fits in its buttstock. Mine functioned flawlessly with the regular magazines and liked CCI Stinger ammo the best. I soon discovered that the Ramline 25-round magazines sucked. I found the AR-7 to be minute of tin-can/squirrel accurate, which is more than adequate for a break-down .22 rifle you keep around for “just in case”. This rifle fit in with all the other stuff in an overnight bag along with a couple boxes of ammo, and was a handy companion on road trips in states where it was legal to keep a disassembled rifle locked in your trunk. The AR-7 is still being made by Henry Arms, and I believe it's legal even in places like Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts.
Back in the days when bulk boxes of 9mm Parabellum reloads where as cheap as .22s, this Cobray M11 carbine was a fun little bullet hose. Despite the crude sights, it was still plenty accurate at pistol caliber carbine ranges for ventilating cans and milk jugs. Much like the AR-7, it is a simple blowback design that digested cheap FMJ and lead round-nose rounds with good reliability. It was an inexpensive shooting piece for those who wanted something bigger than a .22 to play with that unfortunately fell victim to many states' stupid “assault weapons” laws. If you live in a free state, you can probably find one at a reasonable price and they are an enjoyable range piece.
During World War II, the US made a single shot .45 pistol called Liberators for distribution to resistance forces in occupied Europe. The idea being that a partisan could trade an enemy soldier a .45 ACP round for his rifle.
I suppose this Cobray DD 2-shot .45 LC/.410 derringer would serve quite well as a modern-day Liberator pistol. Many people use these pistols as an inexpensive car-jacking deterrent, or for use against poisonous snakes while woods runnin' or working the farm. Interestingly enough, .410 shotgun shells continued to enjoy ready and inexpensive availability during the last panic.
Another war baby is the M1 Carbine. You could probably consider this one of the first PDWs as it was developed for use as a replacement for the pistol among support troops. It's compact and shoots a respectable cartridge for short-range defensive use. Due its compact size and easy handling characteristics, it was also very popular among Special Forces. This was the weapon of choice for veteran NYPD Stakeout Squad officer Jim Cirillo, considered by many to be one of America's modern-day gunfighters. He loaded it with softpoint ammo, and said out of all the weapons he used, it had 100% one-shot stops. This is also one of those military magazine-fed semi-autos that manages to get past states' stupid “assault weapons” laws.
This one is a favorite of mine. In a similar vein to the M1 Carbine, albeit cowboy-style, the .357 Mag./.38 Spc. Marlin 1984 is another one of those handy pistol caliber carbines that is great for exploding gallon milk jugs and close range defensive engagements. Many individuals who carry .38/.357 revolvers as their go-to handgun like it because they only have to carry on cartridge. Of course, being a lever-action cowboy gun it's legal pretty much everywhere, including places like Massachusetts and Illinois.
Some guns are just so damn interesting that regardless of how practical they are, they call out your name and next thing you know there's one less space in the gun safe.
Mauser and Spanish firearm fans will recognize this Destroyer Carbine in 9mm Largo. It's magazine-fed with a short, quick bolt throw, and another fun shooter. Unfortunately 9mm Largo ammo is not as common as some other rounds, but you can convert 9x23mm Winchester Magnum and .233 Remington brass to 9mm Largo and load your own.
Since I'm on the topic of Spanish guns, here's something a little more practical for the survivalist types, provided you can find one. It's a FR-8 Mauser in 7.62mm NATO. When Spain adopted the CETME assault rifle, they took their stock of large-ring Mausers and converted them to the FR-8 configuration for use by the Civil Guard and military trainees. It was also allegedly used by special operations forces due to its handy, compact design.
Fans of Jeff Cooper will recognize the FR-8 as the inspiration of the scout rifle concept he invented in the 1970s. They are pretty uncommon these days as people who buy them tend to hold onto them. Recoil with regular 7.62mm NATO rounds is a bit stout, but if you reload (and you should), then it's an easy enough matter to make a load that doesn't kick as much. With that said, having shot both an FR-8 and a Savage Scout, I've found the FR-8 to have the milder recoil.
No talk about favorite guns would be complete without the old reliable poor man's standby, the “cop thirty-eight”. My favorite is the Smith & Wesson K-Frame that's been made since the early 1900s. Thousands of these became available as surplus when police departments upgraded to automatic pistols, and even today you can find one for a couple hundred bucks in a cop shop's safe that's been carried more than it's been fired. They are cheap, reliable, accurate, and fire a decent cartridge. What more can I say? If you want the top of the line in a vintage K-Frame Smith, keep your eyes open for a Model 13.
So now that I've reminisced over some favorite guns, what would I recommend giving the current situation? If you have the cash you can pretty much still find whatever you want, and there are plenty of gun store gurus out there who will be more than happy to engage in a cash for guns arrangement with you based on their recommendations.
Although they have doubled in price over the past few months, the surplus Russian Mosin-Nagant rifles are still a good bargain. Surplus ammo is still available in quantity. This gives you a decent .30 caliber class rifle you for hunting or defensive use. Grab one and a few cases of ammo soon as much like the surplus Mausers, Enfields, SKSes, and Garands they won't be commonly and cheaply available for long.
Shotguns and their ammo continued to be available during the recent panic because no one pays attention to them. With that said, everyone should have a couple of them as they are eminently useful tools. Even Joe Biden recommends them! The differences between Mossberg, Remington, and Ithaca is the same as the differences between Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. They all work OK, and each has their aficionados. A 12 gauge loaded with 00-buckshot has a well-deserved reputation of being an effective stopper of home invasions and inducement towards finding religion.
A favorite among the more serious long-term grid down types, black powder firearms have been pretty much exempt from all the nonsense that's been going on. There are no Federal laws on antique (pre-1898) and muzzleloading firearms. They even get a free pass in states like Massachusetts. Anybody can make their own black powder, cast lead balls, and find Flint or Chert. Some people have also fabricated their own percussion caps. You can keep these classic smoke poles going in all but the absolute worst TEOTWAWKI scenarios. As a bonus, BP shooters often engage in cool historical reenactment events such as buckskinner's rendezvous whey they practice useful primitive skills and have a general good time.