Lately I’ve been thinking real hard about firearms in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Maybe it’s just me trying to find a way to justify to my wife the purchase of more guns. I really love guns of all types, they just fascinate me and I can’t really explain why.
Part of what I’ve been thinking about is ammunition. Or should I say a lack of ammunition? Even someone that has stockpiled hundreds of rounds of ammunition and/or reloading supplies has a finite supply and can’t afford to use it unwisely. Don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite categories of firearms are the semi-auto tacti-cool variety. But even my trusty 10/22 might not be the best rifle for varmint hunting in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Because it’s semi-auto, even with only the 10 round magazine, I know I will tend to take an ill-advised, rushed shot and fire multiple times upon the inevitable miss. Obviously, this is not what you want to be doing if replacement ammunition is not available.
For example, when I was in high school, my step-dad got an older Winchester single shot .22LR bolt action rifle. It has a long barrel, a hooded front site post & the rear site was a target style peep site. Initially I wasn’t at all interested in it because I had a 10/22 with extended magazines. We lived in the country & I could just go for a walk from the house to go shooting. One day, for a change of pace, I took the Winchester and two or three 50 round boxes of .22LR out shooting. I still remember what a great time I had for several hours. I shot as much as I wanted and I still came home having used less than a box of shells. I can’t remember taking less than 300 rounds out with the 10/22 and having as good a time!
Obviously, it’s not about having a good time after TEOTWAWKI. But, I know that every shot I took, was one where I took my time to take the best shot I knew how to do in order to hit my target. And it was partially because I didn’t have the luxury of a rapid follow up shot. Most of us will do the same thing and will tend to use more ammunition with a semi-auto firearm.
Now, this is not to say there won’t be situations where a good semi-auto will be the correct choice. In a defensive or other combative environment, a semi-auto is definitely the way to go. But, you will still need to be very aware, that there isn’t a big box store you can run to afterwards for re-supply. Every round of ammunition you shoot is one less you will have the next time you need it.
Also, consider the caliber of your ammunition very carefully. After TEOTWAWKI, it is very unlikely you will be able to find or trade for the less common types of ammunition. So if you have a gun with an unusual caliber, realize that it will probably be good for nothing more than a wall hanger once you run out of your stockpiled ammunition. Calibers like, .22 LR, 9MM, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .223, .308, 30-06, 12 gauge and possibly 7.62×39 (AK47/SKS ammo), .38/.357, 30-30 are going to have the best chance of obtaining more ammunition. Notice that most of these calibers are ammunition that is or was being used by one or more government’s military.
It’s also a good idea to consider what people you are trying to group with have. It might be worth going into a caliber that isn’t as common if everyone in the group has a gun in that caliber. You can combine your purchases to buy larger quantities and get volume discounts. For example, a friend of mine has two Mosin-Nagant’s in 7.62x54R. Since they are so cheap (~$99 on sale), I am recommending this rifle to another friend in the group that doesn’t have any firearms yet. If he gets one, I will probably get one as well, so that we all have a rifle with common ammunition. Also, surplus ammunition for this caliber is very cheap, so we will be storing it. But, the drawback with this kind of surplus is that it’s not reloadable and uses corrosive powder. This won’t be a problem as long as we store enough ammunition & keep the rifles clean.
As a side note, these surplus rifles can be one of the better investments in firearms there are. When I was in high school, I remember that M1 Grand’s could be purchased for ~$200. Now they are over a $1000. In the 1990’s, the AK47’s & SKS’s started to be imported in bulk. I remember Yugo SKS’s selling for ~$70, now those rifles are usually $399. AK47’s were ~$100 and now can’t be had for less than $499 and frequently much more than that. Several years ago the Mauser’s were selling for ~$150, now they can’t be had for less than $299. Since the 1990’s when AK’s came out how much has a Glock gone up in value? Maybe $200?
Maybe the real issue is that, if there is a TEOTWAWKI event, everyone will need to quickly come to the realization that once it’s gone, it’s gone. Conserve your ammunition. Practice now while you can get more ammunition, so that you are a better shooter. That will help you make the most of every shot you do take.
PS- When I was in college, my step-dad sold that Winchester .22 LR and I sure miss that rifle. If you get a gun you really like, make sure you hang onto it and buy plenty of ammunition for it. I have made the mistake of letting good firearms go too many times.