Recently my son was home on an extended weekend after a deployment with the Marine Corps and we got into a discussion about what guns we'd like to have in our home armory. The discussion soon evolved to be more about what someone SHOULD have versus what they WANT to have. This bore further examination and, because it's easier to keep track of lists on paper, I soon found myself writing out a list of weapons we felt were necessary. Bear in mind, this isn't a "soldier" list, or a "police" list; in our minds, this is an American Citizen list.
A Precision Rifle:
Whether it's a custom built .308 caliber rifle like the Special Projects Unlimited gun shown above right, or an "off the shelf" 7mm (or other usable caliber), the bolt action rifle is a must. Not only are they one of the primary weapons used for hunting game (to put meat on your table) but they are also invaluable as defensive weapons provided your perimeter is far enough away to make use of their strengths. The two bolt-action guns I've used most were both custom built: one, the SPU rifle shown with an 18" barrel, and the other a rifle from Iron Brigade Armory that had a 20" barrel. Both were chambered for .308. There are several good manufacturers of bolt guns and you can usually find one at your local gun store or gun show for under $300. Make sure the caliber is sufficient for your perceived needs.
A Fighting Rifle:
Yes, I am a paranoid person. I do believe that it is inevitable that, at some point in the not too distant future, there's a good chance our country will encounter circumstances which will put families in the position of having to defend their own property, unable to wait or depend on public safety services. When such circumstances occur, the bad guys will most certainly grab the biggest baddest guns they can find and go out hunting for weaker citizens to prey on. In many urban areas, the engagement distances limit your need for a rifle that's effective past 100 to 200 yards, but having one that CAN engage past that is good. The only reason I'd recommend .223 over .308 for this weapon is because of the cost and weight of the ammo. No matter which manufacturer you choose, or if you build your own, make sure you have at least seven high quality high-capacity magazines and a sufficient supply of ammo.
A "Combat" Shotgun:
While a shotgun can most assuredly be used for hunting birds, small game and even larger game if you use the proper loads, its value as a close-quarters defensive weapon shouldn't ever be under-appreciated. With the huge variety of specialty loads that are available for a 12g shotgun and the equally wide variety of after-market custom options that you can install or mount yourself, the versatility of the shotgun is unmatched. Remembering that you need to stay in compliance with your state and local laws I would recommend you examine the possibility of extending your magazine tube. I'd also recommend you look at mounting an 18 or 20 inch barrel. The federal legal minimum length is 18" so be sure you don't go below that. I'd actually recommend 18.25" or 18.5" so there's a clear compliance with that law.
As you read just a tad further you'll see that I recommend two handguns: one pistol and one revolver. The pistol you select must be the proper balance, as you perceive it, of fighting caliber versus sufficient capacity. For more detailed information about selecting a pistol for personal defense check out the article I wrote specifically about that effort (linked in below).
I am a long time fan of the 1911 model of pistol from any of the reputable manufacturers, as well as being a fan of the Glock pistols. That's not to say that other manufacturer's pistols aren't valuable or reliable or any of that. I just "grew up" carrying and shooting a Government Model 1911 .45ACP. When Glock came along in the mid-'80s I thought they were pretty ugly guns, but pretty is as pretty does. Unless you really work to screw them up, Glocks are reliable and will take a fair amount of abuse. 1911s tend to be a bit heavy and unless you get a double-stack wide-gripped version, you're going to be limited to between 7 and 10 rounds in your magazine. So, as I said at the outset, measure your need / beliefs about caliber size vs. magazine capacity and choose wisely.
Although the revolver shown is actually a Smith & Wesson Model 64, the stainless steel version of the Model 10, both with a bull barrel and chambered for .38 Special, I'd recommend getting a .357 Magnum. Why? For several reasons:
- The .357 Magnum weapon / cartridge team up is one of the most successful "man stopper" combinations in recent history.
- The .357 Magnum can chamber and safely shoot the .38 Special ammo, allowing you greater flexibility in ammo procurement and firing.
There is a reason I recommend both a pistol and a revolver in your armory. As we've recently seen with ammo purchasing floods after the presidential elections, ammo shortages can occur. The more ammo you CAN use, the less you have to stress keeping ammo stored. By having a .357 revolver, you broaden your ammo usage ability by 33% (33% whatever your pistol caliber is, 33% .357 Magnum, 33% .38 Special). If you can only shoot one caliber of ammo out of your pistol and one out of your revolver, then you're always looking for and storing those two calibers. Versatility is good.
A Fixed Blade Knife:
All of the above items for your "armory" are guns. DUH, right? Isn't that what armories store? Actually...
Armory: a storage place for weapons and other war equipment.
Knives are definitely a necessity of preparedness. I recommend at least one fixed blade knife and one folding blade knife. The fixed blade knife will have to surve as much as a generic utility tool as it will a combat weapon (if ever) so choose it according to the needs you perceive. Select your blade material and length, grip size and materials, sheath design. Find the one that works best for you. If all else fails and you have the ability to do it, design your own and take the design to a custom knife maker. It won't be cheap but it insures you'll get exactly what you asked for.
A Folding Knife:
Two is one; one is none. That military maxim is a good foundation as you start selecting what you'll buy and/or carry. You may not always have on your person, or immediate access to, your fixed blade knife, so a folding knife in your pocket is almost always advisable. Just like with the fixed blade knife, determine the size of blade you want; the size, shape and texture of grips you want. Shop to suit your needs.
Obviously this is a bare bones list of what you SHOULD have in your armory. More is always better.
LATE ADDITION: A very wise friend of mine emailed me and reminded me (quite nicely) that I should have included a rifle in .22lr. Such would be great for hunting small game without destroying most of the meat, as well as larger, ah, vermin of various species. Chuck, good sir, thank you for having taken the time to read the article and catch the missing weapon. (AND, just for you, I will still consider adding a snubby revolver or a pocket gun to the list).