The subject of emergency guns — apocalypse guns to use the vernacular — comes up often. I don’t call the pandemic or an ammo shortage an emergency. My emergencies have been personal, not civil, but just the same, memorable.
Folks who have never skinned a deer or used a gambrel may have the notion they will live off the land. In truth, they may end up dumpster diving. Canines are stringy, so let’s hope the impending doom doesn’t come anytime soon or some of the folks may even be eating dog.
A popular TV show has generated a different type of collecting. Several of my friends, normally well balanced, have a small collection of ‘Walking Dead’ guns. These are firearms that have been sought out because they are ordinary, well-used, rugged firearms that would serve in an emergency. They look like some of what the good and bad guys and girls on TWD show have dug up. Well, me too. It is a fun thing to collect these old guns.
With that in mind, I took a hard look at a few of the best apocalypse guns. Whether the emergency is a civil disturbance or a calamity caused by dangerous weather, a sturdy firearm is good to have. Feral men and animals invading territory they do not normally inhabit is the primary fear. Zombies are about in the same strata as aliens on my emergency list, so I tend to think more realistically.
.22 Long Rifle
I like accumulating different guns rather than collecting a certain type. That’s ok, but you can only carry so much. A simple, functional firearm that isn’t likely to go out of whack is important. You don’t need a trunk full of firearms, you need a versatile few that will accomplish several chores reasonably.
Let’s look at a few good choices beginning with .22 LR rifles. The Ruger 10/22 is just about everyone’s favorite semi-auto .22. Reliable, accurate, and easily upgraded, the Ruger is an affordable, but high-quality, rifle.
The new Winchester Wildcat rifle is an advanced and useful rifle well worth its price. The Rossi RS22 is more than affordable, it is downright cheap. Yet, it is reliable and useful. There is nothing wrong with a manually operated .22. The Henry and Rossi lever-action rifles are good choices.
If you own grandpa’s old pump .22, then it may be a lifesaver. The .22 is useful for small game and even defense — if the bullet is delivered accurately enough.
In centerfire rifles, the bolt-action tends to stress accuracy and reliability. The lever-action is reliable, accurate enough, and may be chambered in pistol calibers. A self-loader offers an instant backup shot.
With 10 rounds of powerful .308 on hand, it will solve many problems. A 200-pound animal at 200 yards is its capability. It will cut through several car doors or light cover like a knife through butter. What it hits, stays hit.
Shotguns are the single most versatile shoulder-fired firearm. The shotgun may be loaded with birdshot and used to take tiny game weighing a few ounces, such as birds, squirrels, and rabbits. With heavier loads, turkey and duck may be taken. With slugs and buckshot, the shotgun is remarkably effective against men and beasts at modest range. Any reliable shotgun, even an old double-barrel, is a great gun for personal defense. A reliable pump-action shotgun is a good bet.
For most of us, the handgun is the personal-defense firearm carried on our person to meet an unexpected attack. The situation may be reversed and the pistol becomes the backup in a SHTF scenario. My choice is a .45 ACP pistol, either a good quality 1911 or the SIG P220.
A .357 Magnum revolver is versatile and useful for those who can fire the Magnum accurately. For the shooter who doesn’t have time to practice as often as they would like, a .38 Special revolver makes sense. If you have more than one handgun, they should be in the same caliber — just in case.
Considerations for Apocalypse Guns
Many factors impact your choice. Shooting ability, finances, and recoil tolerance are all important. The area you live in will dictate the choice. In an urban environment, a short, light, fast-handling 20-gauge shotgun might be ideal. A rural area with abundant small game may beg for a quality .22 rifle.
With longer ranges in an urban environment, the situation would favor a trained marksman. An urban fight may be unexpected and sometimes against heavy odds. You may need a greater ammunition reserve. A good AR may be the best choice. In the outback, a quality scope isn’t a bad choice either.
Don’t feel under-gunned if your rifle or shotgun is inexpensive. If you can use them quickly and safely and hit your target, you are way ahead of most shooters.
SHTF Support Gear
Quality load-bearing devices are often overlooked necessities for apocalypse guns. A quality sling is a must-have for the long gun. A good quality belt that holds shotgun shells is something you should own if you plan to run a shotgun. My own emergency belt holds 25 Remington 12-gauge shells. That is a good reserve of ammunition.
The Bianchi UM84 holster may be worn on the belt or in a shoulder harness and offers good utility. Its sturdy fabric construction is nearly immune to the elements. Take a hard look at your ready gear and narrow down the choices. Hopefully, it won’t be needed in an emergency, but the times do get interesting.
What are your favorite apocalypse guns? Why? Let us know in the comment section.
Editor’s note: this post was originally published in July 2021. It has been updated and revamped for accuracy and clarity.