The Endless ‘One Gun’ Internet Debates

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Recently by James Wesley, Rawles: The Nitty Gritty on Nickels


I often read suggestions in survivalist and shooting forums that run something like this: "If you had to choose just one gun to handle all your tasks, then what would it be?" A lively debate then ensues, usually marked by extreme opinions, running the gamut from pipsqueak calibers, to elephant guns. These debates go on, endlessly. The result is a confusing muddle that does little to educate folks that are new to shooting as to what is truly practical. What prompted this post is that recently received a "one gun solution" article entry for SurvivalBlog’s writing contest, which I politely declined to post. (That one had recommended buying just a Glock 19 pistol.)

The "one gun" debates are spurious starting points for any logical discourse. Alarmingly, some people take this talk seriously, and in doing so, they usually end up opting for the Lowest Common Denominator. They often end up pushed toward a .22 rimfire rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun (often a single-shot) or a 9mm handgun. The reality is that there is no "one size fits all" solution. Owning just one gun is like owning a tool box containing just one tool for all your household and automotive repair tasks. Which one tool would it be: A hammer? A screwdriver? Pliers? A hacksaw? Remember, you can only choose one tool.

To be realistic, the minimum number of guns needed for a family preparedness firearms battery is four:

  1. A semiautomatic battle rifle. I prefer 7.62mm NATO, such as a FAL clone, AR-10, or HK91 clone. For someone on a tight budget, a used SKS or an AK might suffice.
  2. A .22 rimfire rifle. I prefer the stainless Ruger 10/22. If compactness is a key issue, then buy a Marlin Papoose. For someone on a tight budget, a used Marlin Glen field Model 60 .22 would suffice.
  3. A large caliber handgun. If concealment is a key factor, then get a Glock Model 30 or a XD .45 Compact. Otherwise, make is a Glock 21 or a full size XD .45. For someone on a tight budget, a used Argentine Ballester Molina or Sistema Colt .45 ACP would suffice.
  4. A precision shooting/hunting rifle. My top choice is the Savage Model 10FP in .308 Winchester. For someone on a tight budget, a sporterized Mauser would suffice.

An optional fifth gun would be a pump action 12 gauge shotgun with both bird hunting and riotgun barrels. (Such as a Remington Model 870.)

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James Wesley, Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and a noted author and lecturer on survival and preparedness topics. He is the author of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse and is the editor of – the popular daily web journal for prepared individuals living in uncertain times.

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