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A significant part of your survival planning should be firepower. How are you going to defend yourself, your possessions, and your turf? What are you going to use to take down large game animals? What if it is small game you are confronted with instead? Can you rely on long range accuracy and successful close up action as well? Is the firearm you put faith in on a regular basis going to be enough to get the job done when called upon in a variety of situations which may present themselves once the SHTF?

There are many reasons you will need a gun post TEOTWAWKI, but the question that remains is if just one gun get you by. While it would be ideal to have a multi-purpose firearm that could fulfill all of your survival needs, a bit of versatility would certainly make survival easier. When you consider the many tasks you may need a firearm to perform, it becomes clear that firearms boasting different capabilities may suit you better. Of course, you don't want to spend unnecessary money, so which guns do you really need to survive? The answer is these three:

1. Handguns are useful for self-defense and can also serve as a backup for a long gun. This type of gun conceals easily on your person or in your BOB or vehicle. It can be relied on in close up encounters but is not the number one choice for hunting game although some handguns can perform successfully in the hunt field. Handguns come in many different calibers and sizes to suit any user be it man, woman, or youth. This is probably the easiest type of gun to familiarize yourself with as practice ranges set up for handgun fire are plentiful around the county. Familiarization fire is necessary; having a gun is only useful if you know how to safely and properly use it.

With a handgun, keep in mind that you want it to be something in a common caliber (9mm, .38/.357, .45ACP etc) that you can realistically both stock up ammunition for and find replacements of post-apoc. If you think 10mm Auto Mag is hard to find now, wait for the end of the world.

Likewise, chose a common design. Think Beretta 92, SIG P226, Colt 1911, Ruger P-89 or S&W 59 etc in semi-autos or Smith K-frame (and their Dan Wesson/Rossi and Taurus clones), Ruger Security Six or GP100 in wheelguns.

With this line of thinking the Smith 10, 15, 19, 66, 67, etc in 3-4 inch would seem ideal. Remember, while you may be a pro at your semi-autos, keep in mind that you may need to loan the gun out to others who may not have time for an extended course of instruction, which makes the wheel gun perfect.

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Photo: The Firing Line

2. Rifles are the gun of choice for bringing home a big dinner. Boasting hunting capabilities such as precision and distance shooting, a rifle, especially one with a quality scope, is the hungry survivalist's best friend. It is not ideal for home defense due to its size and maneuverability as well as the fact that you would be required to chamber a round for each individual shot in the case of bolt action models. Granted, there are rifles that give you multi-round shooting capabilities, but overall this type of gun does its job best in the hunt field for the taking down of game animals; just be sure to coordinate your caliber choice with your intended game.

In a semi-auto think an AR or AK platform in a common caliber such as 556/.223 or 7.62x39mm with a bargain alternative being an SKS. These guns allow both self-defense at likely standoff ranges from 5-250 yards and can double as a game getter for medium sized critters up to deer and pig.

If going old-school, a nice bolt acton rifle on a Mauser pattern, such as a Remington 700 style rifle in a common caliber such as .270 or .308 would be a nice addition to the arsenal while giving you the ability to take longer range shots. Should you pick the .308 option, it leaves one the possibility of using 7.62x51mm NATO surplus ball which is cheaper in bulk.

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Photo: Superior Precision Rifles

3. Shotguns are in essence the best of both worlds-- especially if you have a limited budget and can choose only one gun.

They are adequate in both home defense and hunting scenarios, although they are not suitable for everyday carry due to the inability to conceal. When it comes to home security, the simple sound of a round being cambered in a 12 gauge pump is often enough to halt adversaries in their track but, much like a rifle, a shotgun is long and tougher to maneuver in the sometimes confined space of a home than a handgun would be. For hunting, the shotgun is perfectly capable of taking down large and small game alike, provided the proper ammunition is used in correspondence with the size of your intended dinner.

As far as choice goes, a there are any number of good pumps out there such as the Remington 870 (and its Turkish and Chinese clones) and Mossberg 500 (and its cheaper Maverick 88 cousin).

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Photo: Buckmasters

Determining a suitable combination of the firearms above should give you a well-rounded survival arsenal. Once you've nailed down what you feel your needs are, go to a local range that provides rentals and try out some guns. There will always be people who believe in and push a certain manufacturer or type of gun but it is best if you get a feel for what you personally prefer before buying.

You may even want to factor in the cost and availability of ammo for different types and calibers of guns as that can be an issue with which gun owners are faced. It is also important to learn safe gun handling with whichever type of gun you use, ensuring that no harm is done to yourself or anyone else during shooting activities.

Like many things in life, a gun is something it is better to have and not need than to need and not have. With that in mind, what type of firearm do you consider an essential part of your survival plan? Let us know in the comments.
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