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by Megan

When it comes time to learn about new gear, improve your skill set, or pick up some high quality reliable gear, only the best will do. Survival and prepping expos are great ways to do it all at once. No matter where you are in the country, you don’t want to miss these survival expos. Many long-standing survival expos have changed locations or shut down altogether in recent years. We scoured the Internet to find those that are still scheduled.

These expos are a great place to see all the latest advances in gear as well as meet and exchange ideas with likeminded people from all over your region. You’d be surprised at the new ideas, information, and skills you can gain from interacting with other people who are survival or prepping minded. In fact, sometimes the opportunity to meet and chat with other people in your region who are also prepping is one of the biggest benefits of attending a survival expo.

Northeastern United States Survival Expos

#1. New England Bushcraft & Outdoor Expo (Charlton, Massachusetts)

April 28th

This is New England’s main show for wilderness and bush craft skills, adventure travel, and survival. Rescheduled from November, it includes workshops, skills training, and vendor demonstrations. Held on an outdoor programming venue with more than 22-acres including setups for vendors, bush craft village, base camp and onsite food trucks. It’s a family friend event and kids younger than 10 years of age get in free

#2. Ohio Prepper, Survivalist & Firearms Show (Bowling Green, Ohio)

June 9th & 10th, 2018

Hosted by Oath Keepers with an excess of $1,000,000 in merchandise and products from vendors in the areas of survival food, camping, herbs, military surplus, natural healing, homesteading, prepping, tactical, preservation, firearms, and a monster truck show!

#3. Ready Livingston Family Emergency Readiness Expo

Sept 8th, 2018

A free readiness expo with 16 speakers offered nonstop from 9:30am to 3:30pm. Free admission and free parking. Tour the University of Michigan Survival Flight Helicopter, Fire Trucks, Police Vehicles, and Livingston County Sheriff’s Dept Tactical Vehicle & Mobile Command Center.  Focus is on products in the areas of water & food storage, solar panels, batteries, generators, power systems, water collection, purification and water storage, wind energy, self-defense training, freeze dried foods, survival gear, and more.

#4. Great Lakes Emergency Preparedness Expo (Birch Run, Michigan)

Sept 29th, 2018

The largest event like this in the area. Over 15 educational presentations and seminars. The place to be for information and exhibits on survival gear, self-sustainability, off grid living, alternative energy, farming and more.

#5. Bullseye Preparedness & Outdoors Expo (Charleston, West Virginia)

Oct 12th, 13th, & 14th

This is a 3-day expo event with a focus on emergency preparedness, self-reliance, agriculture, financial planning, and primitive skills. This is your chance to purchase supplies, gear, and learn new skills in a family friendly atmosphere.

Central United States Survival Expos You Don’t Want to Miss

#6. Survival, Gun, & Outdoor Show (Rock Island, Illinois)

April 7th & 8th, 2018

More than 400 vendors with survival and prepper gear including knives, ammo, fishing, optics, and more. One stop shopping for weapons, survival, and outdoor vendors.

#7. Greater Ozark zrea Survival Expo & Gun Show-RK Prepper (Springfield, Missouri) June 23rd & 24th

Hundreds of booths with preparedness and survival gear on display. Expert seminars held daily on topics related to preparing for natural disasters, long-term power outages, and more.

#8. Inland Northwest Preparedness Expo (Sandpoint, Idaho)

Sept 22nd & 23rd, 2018

The 3rd annual Preparedness Expo is two days of classes on preparedness topics and includes displays and vendors. See website later this year for details and registration info.

#9. Greater Kansas City Survival Expo & Gun Show-RK Prepper  (Kansas City, Missouri)  

Sept 29th &30th, 2018

Whether it’s a natural disaster, extended power outage or worse, the Greater Kansas City Survival Expo & Gun Show is designed with the serious prepper in mind. Vendors and experts available on topics such as solar power, tactical gear, bug out kits, long term food storage, and more.

Southern United States Survival Expos

#10. South Atlanta Survival Expo & Gun Show-RK Prepper  (Atlanta, Georgia)

May 5th, 2018

Hundreds of booth’s demonstrating preparedness and survival gear. Daily expert seminars.

#11. Greater Alabama Survival & Green Living Expo-RK Prepper  (Huntsville, Alabama) July 14th, 2018

Preparedness & Survival gear on display throughout hundreds of booths. Expert speakers daily on topics such as bug out kits, long term food storage, and tactical gear.

#12. North Atlanta Survival Expo & Gun Show-RK Prepper  (Lawrenceville, Georgia) Aug 25th & 26th, 2018

Focused on preparedness for a natural disaster or extended power outage. Hundreds of booths filled with gear for survival and preparedness. Daily expert speakers on topics such as solar power, long term food storage, tactical gear, bug out kits, and more.

#13. Prepper Camp (Saluda, NC)

Sept 28th, 29th, and 30th 2018

Whether you attend just for one day or stay for the whole weekend, Prepper Camp has been hailed as one of the best immersion events you’ll ever attend. Attend scheduled seminars, interact with many of the best experts on survival, homesteading, and prepping. Bring your questions and come prepared to get hands on experience in a wide range of preparedness activities.

Western United States Survival Expos

#14. Southern Utah Self-Reliance Conference (South Washington, Utah)
May 4th & 5th, 2018

Vendors from all over Utah and across the country come together for this indoor show with a goal of helping folks be better prepared.

#15. PrepperCon (Sandy, UT)

May 18th & 19th, 2018

One of the largest survival and preparedness expos in the nation. The one stop place to learn it all including self-defense techniques, preparedness fundamentals, homesteading, alternative power, first aid and medical, even advanced training. PrepperCon includes panel discussions, Film & TV celebrity speakers, and more than 80 educational classes.

#16. Self Reliance Expo (Denver, Colorado) 

Sept 21st & 22nd

Coordinated by The National Self Reliance Project, the Self Reliance Expo, provides an interactive experience based on survival, preparedness, homesteading, and sustainability. For those looking for a more hands on expo experience, those who want to get back to basics, revive time-honored traditions, and embrace a simpler life, the self-reliance expo is the one to see.

No matter which part of the country you are in or what level of prepping you are currently at, you don’t want to miss these survival expos. Find the one nearest to you and start making plans to get there. Do you know about a survival expo that we didn’t list here? Share the details of your favorite survival expo in the comments below so we can update the list throughout the year.

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by Derrick Krane

AntiFa, a portmanteau of Anti-Fascist, is an indigenous terrorist organization.  They are described as loosely organized, without a central leadership. They have numerous independent cells throughout the United States, the UK, and Europe, with an apparent drop in/drop out membership. They are very angry people.

Their motto is Punch a Nazi. They sometimes seem unclear as to what they are so angry about, or their goals. They engage in cowardly attacks against conservatives when they have the advantage or surprise and numbers. The words I would use to describe them are confused, misguided, and deranged. Their behavior is that of terrorists. They seek to promote socio-political change which they don’t seem to fully understand, through unjustified violence toward people who are not even members of their proclaimed target group.

What is Fascism?

Fascism is a political ideology based on suppression of free speech and human rights. It is a Machiavellian system in which violent means of suppression of contrary points of view is justified as an end to produce an efficient and orderly society.

The best known example is the Nazi Party of the 1930’s under Adolph Hitler. There were also fascist movements in Italy under Mussolini, and in Spain under Francisco Franco.  All were disastrous endeavors.

Fascism embodied by the Nazis was responsible for about fifty to eighty million people, or about 3% of the World population in the early 1940’s. This includes the attempted extermination of the Jewish people, whom at least six million of which died in Nazi death camps. This does not include those who suffered life changing injuries such as loss of limbs or disfigurement, the death of loved ones, displacement from their homes, in addition to collapse of governments and economic systems, and general human suffering on a massive scale.

Should Nazism and Fascism be opposed? Yes, definitely. But Antifa members seem to associate anyone who is conservative, Republican, and/or a Trump supporter with fascism. There is tiresome tirade of the left that President Trump is a racist, homophobic misogynist. Therefore, anyone who voted for him and supports him must be as well. There must be Resistance the Left says. I am unclear what the left are resisting.

  • A chance for peace on the Korean peninsula following an unprecedented meeting between a US president and a North Korean dictator.
  • The ongoing deportation of criminal illegal aliens who victimize Americans and the securing of our borders.
  • The lowest unemployment rates in decades, including the lowest for black Americans and women.
  • The return of American jobs from overseas
  • A soaring stock market

Conservative Republicans

There are a few contrasts between Fascists and Republicans. Conservatives and Republicans are vilified by the leftist media, though we have done more for human rights, social justice, and peace and economic growth than they have ever accomplished.

Antifa’s Origins

The Antifa movement originated in Europe in the 1930’s and used violence to suppress Nazis.  Similar actions were carried out by:

  • Imi Lichtenfield, the founder of Krav Maga, and other Jewish athletes protected their neighborhood against Nazi thugs. The modern corruption and perversion of Antifa is light years away from the goals of these men.
  • In the UK, the 1936 Cable Street battle was a street fight between Blackshirts, aka British Nazi’s, and a collection of Irish, Jews, Labor party members and (unfortunately) Communist party members.
  • In the United States, the Jewish mafia broke up Nazi demonstrators in Newark New Jersey.

These are examples of people actively fighting the spread of fascism. They were much clearer on their targets, e.g., Nazi’s.  The modern degeneration and corruption of this concept is seen today.

Antifa Intentions

They are ostensibly fighting against the spread of fascist ideology. Their de facto intent is on shutting down free speech through violence. Here is something for the left to consider:

If people have an ideology which is toxic, wouldn’t you rather know about then drive them underground? And should you not get all the facts and make a just judgment as to whether or not someone’s belief system is hateful or oppressive, instead of operating on assumption and emotion?

They claim they want to protect their communities, and prevent the spread of fascism. They believe any means are justified, including violence. Videos of them display people who are so angry they cannot listen to reason, are not even sure what their intentions or goals are.

Identifying Antifa Members
  • They are both male and female (there are only two options for gender)
  • They tend to be under 30
  • They tend to be underweight, undernourished, and they back down and retreat when they are confronted directly.
  • They tend to wear all black, and hide their faces behind black bandanas or balaclavas
  • Their flag or insignia is a red pennant under a black flag, with a gray border black border, and gray slash through the flag and pennant. The word antifaschische appears on the top of the black border.
  • They are often armed with combination locks or padlocks tied to bandanas to use as a flail, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, knives, bricks, slingshots, and crowbars.
  • They are anarchists and leftists, from the same mold as the Occupy Wall Street crowd.
Antifa Activity

They appear at conservative speakers events and:

Their members and supporters include the former adjunct professor of Economics Michael Issacson at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who tweeted how he was honored to be teaching future dead cops. Conservative speakers were cancelled due to threats of violence from Antifa.

What law enforcement is doing about Antifa

The short answer is not enough. The New Jersey Department of Homeland Security has identified Antifa as a terrorist organization. On several occasions, local PD have backed down from Antifa.

  • In Portland Oregon, Antifa shut down a republican event at the annual Rose festival by threatening violence toward Trump supporters. The Portland PD indicated they did not have enough manpower to assure security [horseshit] so the republicans were shut out of the event.
  • Antifa disrupted the appearance of Mila Yiannopoulus, a conservative speaker by rioting in Berkeley California. Local PD did not appear to take any action.
Conclusion

The Nazi regime was responsible for horrid beyond imagination suffering during the Second World War era. Fascism is a toxic political ideology which suppresses human rights. These ideologies should not be allowed to propagate. But do not include conservative republicans and trump supporters in the same category.

The ironic hypocrisy of the left is at work again’ liberals  ( I am generally speaking here) are quick to say don’t stereotype, don’t judge the whole group by the actions of the most vocal and noticeable, don’t discriminate based on group identity, love don’t hate, and other platitudes. Yet they lump anyone on the right side of the political spectrum as fascists.

Antifa is a confused misguided and self-contradictory organization in that they are the very thing they are opposed to. They should not be underestimated. They are thugs who hurt people and damage property due to a twisted ideology.

Be aware of what is happening in your community and if these criminals are present in your area. Talk to local, state and federal law enforcement about what action they are taking, and write or call your representative. There is a petition to the white house with over 100, 000 signatures to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.

Get the word out about Antifa and their intentions, through Blogs, Tweet and Facebook. Make people aware of whom they are. Do your homework and make accurate statements. Everything I have described here is from multiple sources I consulted, available by clicking on the hyperlinks. Don’t lower yourself to the same level as the unhinged left by making blatantly false claims, or repeating inaccurate information. Do not allow yourself to be silenced by anyone, especially these scum.

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by Derrick Krane

Never make it easy for the bad guys. If anyone ever wants to assault you, rob you, rape you or kill you, it should be the hardest thing they have ever done in their life. Always make the bad guys work for it.  Becoming Hard to Kill has become an internet meme attributed to Tim Kennedy.

Young men and older men for that matter should see him as a role model. UFC fighter, Army Ranger, entrepreneur, and family man, he should inspire men as to what they can accomplish. The emphasis on this article is about becoming physically resistant to harm.

Detecting and avoiding trouble, and not starting trouble should be the emphasis and your first plan. Then comes the next step, which is hardening and strengthening your mind and body to escape, or withstand or do violence to the greatest degree possible. I want to present a multi-dimensional approach to personal safety, with this article focusing on becoming a hard target.

  • Awareness of your surroundings and potential threats
  • Deterrence through presenting yourself as a unattractive target
  • Avoidance: The conscious decision to avoid a threat, even if it means swallowing pride and ego.
  • De-escalation to convince the threat you are not a good target while not challenging, insulting or threatening them
  • Being able to escape a threat by fleeing. There is no shame in this. Sometimes it is the smartest move.
  • Being able to give or a take a beating if it comes down to it when all of the above fail.
    1. This includes injury prevention, and disease and illness prevention
It’s No Fun Being a Victim

It’s a cold world we live in. Those who are weak will be victimized. This is not my cynical world view, but rather an objective observation of reality and history. Those who are both strong and predatory exploit and use those who are weaker, on both the individual and international level. A basic tenet of Victimology; the study of crime victims; is the very politically incorrect theory that victims nearly always precipitate their own victimization, or contribute in at least some small way to being victimized. Examples include:

  • Making large cash withdrawal from an ATM, and then walking down the street counting it. You will be an easy target for a mugger
  • Buying or selling drugs. You will be robbed, beaten or murdered at some point. It is inevitable; it is only a question of when and how severe.
  • Being an unfaithful lover. People lose all sense of reason when someone they are intimate with steps out on them, or if they even perceive this is happening as per the hyperlinked story.
  • A drunken young woman going to a man’s room. Alcohol and hormones = bad situations.
  • The timid, skinny high school freshman who shows fear or hesitation to the bullies.

This is not victim blaming. The offender is always responsible for their actions. But there is no need to leave yourself wide open to aggression, or to walk into high risk situations. This is about making victims responsible for their safety and making a predator’s job harder.

People victimize themselves by choosing to associate with violent and unstable individuals, or by entering into and staying in abusive relationships. There is another perspective on victimization. We victimize ourselves with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and not enough rest, smoking, or by abusing drugs or alcohol. This also includes heart disease and diabetes, and increased incidence of colds and flu, and injury.

Avoidance of Violence Gray Man

This is not a contradiction, but rather an alternative to a deterrence appearance. Blend in. Don’t draw attention to yourself. There is power in anonymity. The gray man theory is about hiding yourself and your abilities so you don’t become a target. Someone swaggering around in Tacti-Cool gear while grocery shopping is going to draw attention. If an active shooter or terrorist is scoping an area, you may look like a good first target. There is also an even greater risk you will look like a douchebag, particularly if you have never been in the military or law enforcement. If you want a good laugh, click here for a link to a satirical forum thread on the Mall-ninja, aka the Tacti-Douche.

Timing & Location

Twenty years ago, what I am about to say would be paranoid, but the world has changed. Consider avoiding busy times in supermarkets, Big-box stores, and malls, and avoid crowds and large gatherings as much as possible Active shooters and terrorism is a reality. Densely packed people are a target. I know how this sounds, and this action must be balanced with how it could impact your quality of life. If you are in a densely packed area, it is especially important to work on good situational awareness. Know the exits, escape routes, location of cover and concealment, and have a plan beforehand if things get hectic.

Prevention of Violence through Discipline

Awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation are critical skills every adult should have. Ideally these skills should be introduced and practiced from childhood on. While this information is critical, it is not the emphasis of this particular article. For a look at developing these skills see:

The Little Black Book of Violence

Self-control, showing respect, good manners, and learning how to compromise and negotiate are valuable skills. Part of not being a victim is being assertive rather than submissive. It does not mean going to the opposite extreme a becoming a rude, obnoxious, swaggering loudmouth. It is amazing to me how some people will blatantly disrespect others without any concern of immediate consequences. Here some things I have seen:

  • You got a real pretty mouth from a young punk sitting at an outdoor café, to a man walking down the sidewalk that had been contorting his face as he tried digging something out of his teeth.
  • Green on the back, neon green on the back from an idiot singing this as he was walking behind a runner wearing two-tone black and fluorescent green gear.
  • What’s up tiny? From a cocky, grinning, thug to a 250 lb. bodybuilder who must have outweighed him by a hundred pounds.

I just don’t get it. Running your mouth to a complete stranger is a good way to get a beating; or even more. Don’t be that guy. Always let the other guy be the asshole. Show others respect and you will avoid many potential conflicts. This applies to everyday life, and even more so if our civilized (?) society takes a sideways turn.

On a more positive note, I have noticed what seems to be a growing trend in my area of New England. When you are at a stoplight, if you look at someone in a car next to you, they give you a nod, instead of ignoring you or giving you the WTF are you lookin’ at look.  I got it and returned it twice today. Try it. This simple display of respect can go a long way.

The Physical Training Plan

This program does not include defensive tactics or fighting skills; that is a completely different and much more complex discussion for another time. This is about getting your body ready for anything including defensive tactics training. The principals herein are to combine movements which employ multiple muscle groups working in concert.

Bodybuilding is not the end goal. You will not be focused on aesthetics although a more aesthetically pleasing form will result, but performance. Bodybuilding is great; I have done it for years. Your body is treated like a canvass or slab of marble and you will transform it into a work of living art. It is a very worthwhile endeavor.

Of course you will become stronger. But bodybuilding is in one dimension; it is mostly about making muscles larger and more symmetrical and defined. There are many isolation movements in bodybuilding, such as preacher curls or chest flyes, which emphasize making individual muscles larger, but do not promote total body strength, or potential summation of force by learning to use multiple muscle groups together. As I have gotten older, I have come to value strength training over body building, and added other dimensions to training to be better-rounded and better prepared for whatever life bring your way

Functional training

If you are over 40, or have not trained in more than six months, or have a pre-existing injury or medical condition, consult your physician before beginning any physical training program

I would also recommend getting formal instruction through a qualified personal trainer. See the hyperlinks at the bottom of this article for some other resources to get you started.

A functional training program is about using muscles in concert, to generate maximum force, being able to move with speed and agility, and maintaining flexibility, while having a hard insulating layer of muscle. Your routine should include and emphasize:

  • Deadlifts so you can pick up something heavy from the ground.

See the Video below. You may have to work your way up to this [Sarcasm Alert]

EDDIE HALL ''DEATH BY DEADLIFT'' at Strength Asylum - YouTube

  • One arm dumbbell rows to pick up heavy things.
  • Farmer’s walks so you can carry heavy things.
  • Frog squat to be able to squat down and straighten up without grabbing anything for support
  • Burpees, possibly the most efficient way to develop total body strength, cardiovascular capacity, explosive movement, and muscle endurance.
  • Thrusters; a great compound movement for pushing weight overhead.
  • Pullups and dips to push and to pull yourself up and over an obstacle or to climb, and for general upper body strength.
  • Develop grip strength so when you grab something or someone it stays grabbed
  • Tire flipping to engage multiple muscle groups and just to feel badass.
  • Bench press to develop upper body strength.
  • Sprinting and stair climbing to get out of harm’s way fast or get somewhere to help someone fast.
  • Distance running and walking for overall endurance, fat control, and general fitness.
  • Crunches for a strong care which will help you with everything else on this list.
Eating & Hydration

We Americans eat large amounts of the wrong food. I am guilty of this as well. Living in a northern part of the US, with long cold winters, and short days (the 3rd week of December, it is dark here by 5:00 PM ). It just makes it too easy to hibernate and eat apple pies, pumpkin pies, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies, Tarte au Sucre, and cream filled donuts.

These foods are very satisfying in terms of taste and mouth feel , which is the creamy sensation from the load of fats contained  These foods are delicious and I love eating them in large quantities. They are also calories dense, and nutrient poor. They are laden with saturated fats, which are the worst kinds as they promote arterial clogging.

They are loaded with sodium which causes water retention and can raise blood pressure in susceptible individuals. They are packed with refined white sugar, which can beat up your pancreas and decrease insulin sensitivity so that your cells no longer respond to insulin and you get adult onset diabetes. America is suffering from an epidemic of obesity accompanied by heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers associated with obesity.

If you are obese, it is harder to buy proper fitting clothes, you can break chairs, it decreases your gas mileage, it makes it harder to breathe, and make every effort more difficult from the dead weight you are carrying. It is also unsightly. No, despite what the toxic FAM (Fat Acceptance Movement) professes, people are not beautiful at any weight.

We are also not healthy at any weight. Fat is ugly and unhealthy. That does not mean I hate fat people. (I can hear the hate comments now). I am currently one of them after a winter of sloth and gluttony, and am now working to compensate with twice a day workouts and a strict clean eating plan. I recognize obesity as a health problem, and a public health issue. Let’s define what compassion really is. Is it kinder to fat people to assure them they are beautiful at any weight, or to encourage weight loss and healthy habits to maintain weight?

Some options for healthy eating include:

The Mediterranean diet and The Paleo diet, both of which focus on clean eating, and avoiding processed foods. Triathlete and former Iron Man winner Mark Allen recommends only shopping from the perimeter of a supermarket. This will allow you to avoid most processed foods heavily laden with the Unhealthy Triad of added sodium, refined sugar and saturated fat, as well as excessive preservatives, and artificial colors flavorings.

Hydration

Drink water. Then drink more water. After that, have some water. Water is good for you. It helps with regulation of body temperature, facilitates fat metabolism, helps maintain good bowel function, keeps your skin smoother, helps your muscles work more efficiently, and much more. I prefer room temperature water as I find it easier to drink in large amounts.

Carry a water bottle and sip all day, refilling it as needed. Try some different bottled waters until you discover your favorites. Two of my favorites are Evian for a flat water and Gerolsteiner for a sparkling water. I find they are worth the price. Disregard the tiresome you need eight glasses of water a day crap. How much water you need is dependent on your body weight, your gender (there are just two options BTW) activity level and ambient temperature. See the link below for a hydration calculator.

Rest & Recovery

Don’t overdo it and over train to the point of injury or burnout.  You need days off to recover and for your muscles to grow. You will release HGH (Human Growth Hormone) from your pituitary gland while you sleep so injuries can heal and muscles can grow. A day off does not mean sitting and doing nothing. Get outside for an easy, slow walk or bike ride, kick a soccer ball or throw a football; do something where you are moving your body.

Firearms

It is much more difficult to victimize someone who is armed, despite any physical disparity, or difference in fighting skills. Jocko Willink, retired navy SEAL and commander of Seal team Three is a man who knows a thing or two about self-protection. He advocates carrying a firearm for protection. See one of his videos on this topic below.

Navy SEAL on real martial arts . - YouTube

Get a gun, any required license or permit in your area, and training which covers at least gun safety, marksmanship, self-defense law in your jurisdiction, safe gun storage and transport, and maintenance. Decide on (as much as one can) your willingness to engage an active shooter, terrorist, or other criminal intent on killing you or others.

Get lots of ammo; locate a shooting range, and practice, practice, practice. Read good sources on firearms, and watch good videos on firearms, but so not rely exclusively on self- training. Reading and videos are supplements to live training; not a substitute for it.

Conclusion

Don’t be anyone’s victim. Start by making yourself a hard target.

_____________________

Resources for further reading:

How to stop being a snowflake

Safe and Secure Apartment Living

How to Deter a Mugger

10 Basic principles of strength training

We won’t let him hurt you

How Army Rangers Train to become the fittest warriors in the world

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by Contributing Author

The purchase of a handgun is often the first item on the itinerary of the new gun owner. The handgun is the typical firearm of self-defense, and a terrific variety of designs, makes and models are available on the new and used markets. While more experienced shooters will have settled on a preferred brand and model or two they rely on for their needs, this is far from the case with most new shooters.

The old saying, “everyone has an opinion” is true and triply true in the world of guns: well-intentioned advice and tips will assail the new gun owner from every direction; gun store staff, friends, family, YouTube videos, teachers and trainers, cops articles like this one. Most are well-intentioned, some will offer recommendations of questionable or dubious utility and still others will be products of experience and wisdom.

The problem is sorting the good from the bad when you have no frame of reference! Most newcomers to the way of the gun will simply be looking for a friendly, trustworthy expert to tell them what to buy, what to avoid or help direct their search to one of few decent selections to prevent them from making a mistake. Nothing at all wrong with that, and to be honest there are so many great, or at least decent, guns on the market today that a prospective purchaser has to screw up pretty good to get saddled with a  toaster.

So instead of presenting just another list of do’s and don’ts for new shooters looking for their first handgun, I will instead address some broader considerations you should keep in mind to help you make the most of the advice you are offered and give you confidence in your selection no matter what you buy.

Presumptions

I offer up my considerations and advice for prospective buyers who are seeking guns for sale, handguns in particular for general self-defense in a civilian context, not target shooting, hunting or anything else. As I cannot possibly hope to anticipate or account for every person’s unique needs, intent, talent and other such intangibles some of this advice may not apply to you.

In general though, these guidelines will help prevent you from making a mistake when purchasing a pistol that results in wasted time, effort, money or both. There is usually no easy exchange or return of a gun bought from a dealer, as any new stock, once transferred, can only be resold to them as used. Purchasing a gun you wind up hating and wish to exchange will see a steep reduction in the buyback price.

A poorly designed pistol or one of inferior quality will make shooting it less fun and practice more laborious, slowing your development as a shooter. If the pistol is prone to malfunction or breakage, that can mean disastrous consequences if it is called on to help you save your life in an altercation.

Thoughts on Pistol Selection

There has been more pontificating done on choosing the One True Handgun than any other facet of gun ownership, very likely. It’s easy to get pulled apart by a barrage of opinions and endorsements here. Only a few characteristics really, really matter when it comes to picking a pistol suitable for defense. The rest, while not necessarily minutiae, are of far lesser importance, and may in fact only be of interest to those who are professionally or vocationally dedicated to maximizing performance.

When choosing a handgun the most important trait by far is reliability. Reliability is essential in order to have the confidence that the gun will go bang when you pull the trigger, no matter what. No matter if it is dirty or clean, dry or oiled. A gun that is finicky or fussy should not be considered for the critical duty of keeping you and potentially others safe.

What is reliability though? And what is acceptably reliable? After all, it seems good laboratory data is pretty tough to come up with outside of a few publicized government and military tests, and what testing data manufacturers care to offer to the public, and you are not wrong to be wary of bias. Simply put, a given model’s reputation for reliability is usually built up or torn down by a combination of factors and only a few of them will be anything approaching comprehensive scientific data.

The rest are all very anecdotal in nature, sadly, and is part of the reason shooters have strong and often divisive opinions about every imaginable make and model of pistol. For every person that tells you a pistol is good to go because so-and-so uses it, there will be others who decry it as a piece of junk because their brother-in-law owned one and it broke. Generally, you will not go wrong buying a gun from a prominent, well-known manufacturer.

The Price is Right

Price matters: you most often times get what you pay for with guns. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can buy a $100 pistol that is trustworthy unless a relative you trust is selling one of theirs at a loss. Luckily, you do not need the esteem of an expensive exotic brand to get a worthy one; excellent guns can be had brand new between $400-600 dollars, and acceptable ones between $350 and $400. You can save more on the same model by buying a used gun, which is generally safe if you buy from a reputable dealer who will guarantee your satisfaction.

There is a curve that guns are rated on when it comes to quality versus price. Comparing guns apples-to-apples helps make sense of things. It is not entirely appropriate to compare a metal framed hammer fired pistol to a polymer framed striker fired pistol on price alone. Metal framed guns are more expensive than polymer framed ones, as a rule. Ditto for hammer-fired guns versus striker fired guns. Say if the average price of a good polymer, striker-fired pistol from a major manufacturer is around $500 new, give or take 50 bucks, there’d better be a good case for another manufacturer charging $700 for a similar polymer, striker-fired gun.

Caliber Selection

Caliber selection literature could fill volumes and terabytes of storage as a topic all its own, but generally you will be well off to stick with a popular, “standard” round in a given category of gun. So for semi-autos consider a .380ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W or .45ACP. In a revolver your choices will be .38 Special or .357 Magnum. Your default choices in each category should be 9mm and .38 Special. Both are completely effective for defense against people, have mild recoil and cheap, plentiful ammo in a huge assortment of different loads. Smaller cartridges like the .22 LR and .32’s of various types should only be considered if you have injuries or infirmities that prevent you from effectively handling and controlling a pistol chambered for the others. In such a case they are adequate for defense, though not optimal.

If you have your heart set on a bigger caliber for whatever reason, then go with that but understand you’ll pay for it two ways: cost of ammo and greater recoil, though the former is usually more of an issue than the latter in anything but the smallest guns.

Selecting Type and Action

Speaking of revolvers vs. semi-autos, I’ll say only this: the semi-auto takes a little more work to learn how to load and unload it, but is easier to shoot well once that is practiced. The revolver is easier to load and unload, but is harder to shoot well overall. The average semi-auto will carry much more ammo than a similar sized revolver, and ammo capacity is important, but the majority of defensive shootings are concluded within 1-3 rounds, statistically.

Though one might argue that if you are going to rely on statistics, your chances of ever needing the gun in the first place are slim unless you go out of your way to find trouble. Just something to consider. Both are more than adequate for self defense, so if you are gravitating towards one or the other, don’t stress over it. Buy it, be prepared to train and practice on it, and you’ll be fine.

The action of the gun is worth consideration, though after much time instructing I have arrived at the conclusion that it is not as important for most as expert users would perhaps indicate based on their discussions with their peers: The action of the gun in essence determines the way the trigger behaves. Without delving into too much detail in keeping with the intent of this guide, you can classify the action as single or double action, and what that means is how many actions the trigger can perform with the hammer of the pistol, and further complicated by the fact that some pistols lack hammers altogether.

A single action trigger can only release a cocked hammer, while a double action can both cock and release the hammer. What does this mean to you? Basically, a double-action trigger will have a long, heavy pull because it must mechanically retract and then release the hammer in the same movement. A single action trigger will have a light, crisp, short pull because it must only trip the sear to release an already cocked hammer.

The majority of revolvers sold today are double action, but may be manually cocked for a single action shot if desired. Semi-autos may be single action, where the gun will always have a cocked hammer if ready to fire, or double action, which start with the hammer down for the first shot, but subsequent shots are all single-action until decocked. This all seems very complicated in text, but a quick demo at the gun shop on how to run a given pistol will clear things up: some guns are very simple and easy to use with a minimum of controls, while others are a little more involved and have an extra lever or button. All but the worst designs are easy enough to learn if you are committed; don’t let the presence or lack of a hammer deter you from a pistol you like. You will learn how to use it safely and efficiently with only a little training and practice, I promise.

Size Matters

The only other major characteristic you should pay attention to when buying is the size of the gun. Depending on your intentions for it, you may help or hinder your objectives by choosing a large or small gun. Larger guns (to a point) shoot better with less recoil and more ammunition on board than smaller guns. Smaller guns though are obviously easier to carry and conceal.

If it is only going to live at home or on the nightstand, a full size gun is fine. They can be carried concealed, but you’ll have to work a little harder to achieve that and usually sacrifice more comfort. A compact gun can more or less do it all and they still shoot nicely and are easy to handle. Think twice before purchasing a subcompact or micro handgun as you give up a lot in performance, and often reliability, to get that tiny, easy to carry size. If you do not really require a gun small enough to ride in the pocket or on the ankle, then pass on them.

Other Considerations

If you have narrowed your choices to one of a few models that are similar in all major features except manufacturer and design, with one being a common make and the other an exotic rarity, choose the common gun. No matter how cool, special or interesting you think the other gun is, you’ll thank me later when the time comes to get parts, holsters and service for your new gun. I’m not saying you’ll be up a creek with a foreign or domestic exotic, but it will make your search more difficult and usually expensive.

Common, popular designs benefit from tremendous OEM and third-party support on everything from parts to customization, and while you may privately detest the idea of carrying what everyone else is carrying, the purpose of this tool should trump your concerns about social vanity.

Conclusion

Buying a new gun does not have to be a stressful guessing game. With a clear purpose for the gun in mind and armed with this guide, you’ll be walking out of the gun shop in no time with a fine pistol to suit your needs.

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by Megan

The scariest thing you’ll ever face as a parent is the moment you first realize you cannot protect your children from every danger in this world. Sure, you can have some control over their safety when you are with them but as they get older, the likelihood increases that they won’t be with you when things go horribly wrong.

But as a parent or grandparent, it’s your job and your responsibility to make sure your kids can handle themselves in this world, right? So, knowing that your kids might not be with you when something happens, how do you prepare your children for emergencies, disasters, and SHTF?

The first thing to do is to assess your child’s readiness for information about emergencies, disasters, and a SHTF event. Things to assess include:

  • Amount of time spent apart from parents or away from home
  • Maturity level
  • Developmental level
  • Previous experience with emergency situations and survival tasks

It’s important to assess the readiness of your child for this type of information and training so you can avoid creating too much fear and anxiety for your child. Focus on building confidence in their ability to handle emergencies, disasters, and even a SHTF event.

Teach skills in small age appropriate steps, through routine activities over a period of years, rather than trying to prepare them all at once within a couple of months. If your child is growing up on a farm and learns about the dangers of mother nature from a very early age, they may be ready for more information and gear than kids who grow up in a more urban environment.

How to Prepare Your Children for Everyday Emergencies

Emergencies are typically the short-term events that can happen when you least expect them. When your child experiences a fall during a hike, a motor vehicle accident, witnesses a tractor accident, or a boating accident, and you aren’t there, they need to know what to do.

If they are home alone or at a friend’s house without an adult and they suspect an intruder, experience a power outage, or even a house fire, knowing how to respond quickly can be a life or death difference for your child.

For emergencies perpetrated by other people, such as a home invasion, a potential kidnapping situation, a violent crowd, or something like a school shooting, how to get to safety quickly should be the priority. Talk to your children about what kinds of emergencies can occur, how to be alert, and what they should do if something happens while they are at school or even at home without your parental supervision.

Explain to your child about 9-1-1 and give them specific examples of when it’s appropriate to call emergency services for help. Make sure they know any cell phone even if not “in service” can be used to dial 9-1-1.

If anyone in the family has a medical illness that may result in them losing consciousness or being disoriented unexpectedly, children should be taught the behaviors that signal a problem. They should know what they can do to help (if anything), and when to simply call 9-1-1. Practice these scenarios several times with your young children.

Teach them how to give their name, the type of emergency, and their address to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. For emergencies that don’t require a 9-1-1 call, make sure they have printed contact information for nearby relatives or trusted neighbors to call.

Types of Emergencies that could occur where roleplay is helpful:

  • You find someone (mom, dad, sister) lying on the floor. Talk about what to do if they are conscious but can’t move, as well as if the person is confused, unconscious, or bleeding heavily.
  • Door to the home is open when they arrive after school.
  • Playing outside with friends and someone falls (minor injury like a scraped knee or bloody nose) that doesn’t need 9-1-1 but needs an adult.
  • Smell smoke when home alone after school or in middle of night.
  • Someone knocks on the door after school and insists you open it.
  • School shooter (or they see another student with a knife or gun or someone talks about bringing one to school).
  • An adult follows them as they walk home or to a friend’s house.
  • They are confronted by a growling dog, a snake, bear, skunk, or another animal common in your area.
  • What to do if they find or a friend finds a gun while playing.
  • An adult or friend they are riding with appears sleepy, intoxicated, or loses consciousness.
  • Dad falls from the tractor and is unconscious and bleeding.

It’s important when preparing your child to handle emergencies that you teach them to know when to call for or go get help first versus when to attempt first aid and then go for help. This is especially important for locations or situations where help may not be readily available or may take a long time to arrive.

How to Prepare Your Children for Disasters

It’s important to consider the age and maturity level of your child when it comes to natural disasters. Giving a child too much detailed information about the widespread impact of a natural disaster can be harmful if they aren’t ready emotionally and developmentally to understand.

Focus first on the natural disasters most likely to occur in your local area. When talking to children, teach them the disaster safety procedures and how to get to a safe area with a goal of riding out the disaster until help arrives. Teach your child multiple ways to signal for help in different scenarios.

Prepare your child’s version of an everyday carry (EDC) that includes items appropriate for their age and experience. We give you some basic suggestions below. Make sure they know how and when to use any items that are part of their EDC and increase the items as they get older, mature, and gain experience.

Types of Disasters You May Want to Prepare Your Kids for Include:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Wildfires
  • Earthquake
  • Avalanche
  • Mudslide

Take time to talk with your children about the importance of routinely following safety procedures, how to get to safety in a disaster, and what to do after the immediate danger is over. Talk with older children about what they should do if the adult in charge seems scared or confused, is bleeding heavily, or is unconscious.

Kids need to know whether you will come for them at school or if they should try to get to a meeting location and wait for you. It’s important to know what your school’s disaster plan is. If you don’t know the plan, ask your school administration questions now so you can prepare your child. Kids who aren’t confident their parents will come for them may try to leave the school and go home which could put them in more danger and result in a longer delay for you to be reunited.

How to Prepare Your Children for SHTF

When it comes to a SHTF event, it’s difficult to tell your kids exactly what to do because there’s no end to the dangers they may face. As long as you are with them, you can guide them of course. It’s always good practice to start teaching your kids to do things for themselves.

You can include certain activities in their routine chores that will prepare them to take care of themselves and to cook their own food, build a fire or use a grill or rocket stove if needed. But when it comes to a SHTF situation, you want to prepare your kids, so they know what to do to survive, if god forbid, you aren’t around to tell them what to do.

Prepare Your Kids for SHTF by Teaching Ways to:

  • Pay attention to changes in the weather and the importance of dressing appropriately for the weather.
  • Ways to avoid danger and confrontations
  • Get to your designated safe room or family meeting place.
  • Find, collect, and purify water.
  • Keep any information about prepping and supplies they have to themselves.
  • Forage for wild edibles and how to determine what things are safe to eat.
  • Start a fire or use other methods stay warm
  • Build a shelter from things they find around them.
  • Ways to defend themselves or assist you in defending your home and property.
  • How to hunt or grow food, how to preserve and stockpile food, rotate it, and why it’s important

When SHTF the world will be in chaos. It will be important for your kids to understand that if you tell them to be quiet during this chaos, they must obey. With young children, you can make it a little more fun by practicing the “quiet game”, to avoid scaring them too much. With older children you can stress the importance of staying quiet when told or when they hear someone outside. The more activities and tasks you practice with your kids during “normal times”, the more likely they will be prepared to react and get to safety post-SHTF, even if you aren’t there to tell them what to do.

General Things to Teach to Prepare Your Children for Emergencies, Disasters, and SHTF include:

  • Their first and last name, their full address, telephone number, and the names of their parents.
  • The name and telephone number of at least one other nearby relative and one relative or trusted friend outside of the local area.
  • How to make a sling for an injured arm with a t-shirt, bandana, or small blanket.
  • What first aid kits look like and where they are located in your home, at school, etc.
  • How to use a fire extinguisher and other ways to put out small fires and what to use for a grease fire, chemical fire, etc. (age appropriate). For younger children the focus should be on getting out to safety and notifying an adult.
  • Where to find flashlights and extra batteries and how to replace them (age appropriate)
  • Ways to signal for help (using a whistle, bright clothing, sticks or rocks in a clearing, smoke signals as appropriate for their age)
  • How to use some or all of the items in a first aid kit if needed (age appropriate)

Instill a “Check In” plan even during normal times. When your child is ready, they can have their own cell phone to communicate with you via text when they are at a friend’s or within range of public Wi-Fi. Have an agreed time period for your child to “check in” with you by text or in person when they are playing in the yard, in the neighborhood or at a friend’s house. It can be every 30 to 90 minutes for younger children, every 4 to 6 hours for older children who you know are in a safe location. Once they are old enough to have cell phone service, have them practice calling you and other trusted adults to check in by phone so that you are comfortable with their ability to call for help if needed.

Children should be taught to check in with you any time they want to change locations. This means before going from Bobby’s house to Sam’s house to play, they must check in and get a response from you first. This is important because in an unexpected emergency, especially if communications systems are down, you need to know exactly where they are, so you can get to them quickly.

Have an agreed plan of action if they forget to check in or if they attempt to check in and you don’t respond. For example, “check in with me every 90 minutes. If you don’t check in, I will try to text or call you twice and if you don’t answer then I’m coming to get you.” Or “check in with me every 90 minutes. If I am not home when you check in stay home till I arrive, call grandma, go to the neighbor’s, go back to your friend’s house and stay there” or any other action you want them to follow. Having this plan during “normal times” gets them into the habit of checking in, using various means to communicate with you or other trusted adults, and teaches them what they should do if they can’t contact you right away.

EDC Product Suggestions for Children for Emergencies, Disasters, and SHTF

Toddlers aren’t at all ready to be unsupervised. But you can start instilling the habit of EDC even at this young age. It’s developmentally natural for young kids to copy what they see adults doing. So, if you put on your EDC every morning (keys, phone, wallet, etc.), you can give toddlers and elementary age kids safe items for their own EDC. Items such as a toy flashlight, keys, a pretend phone, etc. As they get older and mature you can replace their “toy” EDC gear with actual working gear.

Flashlights are a great item to allow kids of all ages to have as part of their EDC because many kids have a fear of the dark. Having their own light teaches them responsibility and also gives them confidence and helps them feel safe whether they are taking the garbage out after dark, reading in their room at night, camping out in the backyard, or during an unexpected power outage.

Preschool kids might enjoy something like the Melissa & Doug Blaze Firefly Flashlight. Batteries can be extremely harmful for young children so make sure whatever you provide, the battery compartment can’t be opened by your child. The Energizer Weather ready Rechargeable Flashlight is great for elementary age kids because it is virtually indestructible and doesn’t use batteries at all, it’s rechargeable via a hand crank. For middle school and high school age kids consider Mini Flashlight Keychain with Micro USB by SDENOW to light their way when darkness falls.

Keys. Whether it’s a set of pretend keys for your infant or toddler or an actual house key on a lanyard or keychain clipped to their backpack, kids of all ages can get used to carrying and being responsible for keys as part of their EDC. It’s an important habit that will serve them well as an adult also.

Cell Phones aren’t age appropriate for infant, toddlers, or young elementary age children of course, but there are plenty of pretend cell phones available that your child can get used to carrying and being responsible for as part of their EDC.

Elementary age children can even carry your old cell phone for emergency calls only. Have them be responsible for checking the battery level periodically and bringing it to you to be recharged. Even a phone with no cell phone service can be used to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. They can also practice dialing your number and the numbers of trusted relatives. For younger children, you may want to consider a walkie talkie for emergency communication and for checking in while playing in the yard or around the neighborhood.

Add items to your child’s EDC kit as you deem appropriate. Some items to consider depending on age, maturity level, and experience include:

Whistles are great items for kids to have as part of their EDC. You can teach them to stay in one spot and use the whistle if they are separated from you during a hike, another outdoor activity, or even in an emergency if someone attempts to grab them while playing in the yard. The Coghlan’s Four Function Whistle is great for kids that are elementary age and up. It includes the whistle, a compass, magnifying glass, and thermometer.

Bandana or Shemagh is a great item for a child’s EDC because it is lightweight and can be used to protect the nose and mouth against smoke from a fire, to carry kindling, to filter water, carry nuts and berries, or even DIY a sling for an injured arm.

Compass can help kids to find their way if they do get off the beaten path in the woods or while on a hike. Make sure they know how to use the compass correctly and that you’ve checked the compass for accuracy before they need to use it in a real emergency.

Keyring or Lanyard with a whistle to signal for help and maybe a cache cylinder with space for change or dollars to be used if they need money for the bus or cab fare. Children who are mature enough and experienced can add a fire stryker or waterproof container with matches.

Personal Hygiene Items such as Chapstick or lip balm, anti-itch cream for bug bite relief, and sunscreen. If your child has a food or other allergy and is mature enough, you may want to include a pill case with a single dose of their allergy medicine or for an EpiPen for life threatening allergies.

Preparing your children for emergencies, disasters, and SHTF is truly a lifelong process. But it can be done without scaring them as part of their routine activities. You can start with small things when they are very young and gradually teach them more over time. With a little planning and guidance, your child will be better prepared to handle themselves no matter what life may throw at them.

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by Derrick Krane

There are a number of disturbing incidents, events and trends taking place in the UK.

  • Muslim refugees who have no concept of western values, or interest in assimilating are invited in to the UK. Some are terrorists posing as refugees. The prior sentence will be labeled as racist and hateful by many. This is a reflexive response heavily laced with self-righteous outrage which has become typical of the left. This reflexive statement is not applicable as Islam is a religious and political system which transcends race, not a race itself, any more than Catholicism, whose proclaimed members include Italians, Irish, Americans, Quebecois, and Iraqis is a race. I do not hate individual Muslims; on the contrary, I feel sorrow for any persons who live under an oppressive system, including Sharia law, or the demoralized and battered people of North Korea. I also have many concerns and reservations about specific tenets of their belief system and their propensity to force it upon others through violence.
  • Muslim Grooming Gangs have engaged in mass rape and prostitution of white British girls.
  • The population of the UK is disarmed so they cannot defend themselves against terrorism. The police tell people to Run, Hide and Tell if they are involved in a terrorist incident. As observed elsewhere, this sounds like advice given to a middle schooler on how to deal with a bully. This is pathetic and a joke.
  • Tommy Robinson, a bold and outspoken man is imprisoned for 13 months for exercising free speech.
  • Alfie Evans, a 23 months old toddler, was gravely ill. Doctors want to remove life support. The parents didn’t want life support removed. Italy offered to pay for air fare and all medical expenses in an effort to save the baby. The British government refused, told the parents they are deciding the child’s fate, and posted police officers at the hospital to keep the parents from leaving with their baby. Police also warn people not to comment on this matter on social media or they could face legal penalties.
  • The once mighty military of the British has been stripped of funding and weakened

See the video below for more information:

The Price of Freedom & the State of the UK - YouTube

Trends in the US and UK are often reciprocal. Our cultures as so closely intertwined, Social, cultural and political changes which occur in the UK tend to transfer to the US, and vice versa. In the examples I provided above, there is evident suppression of free speech, parental rights, and de facto acceptance of terrorism and violence, a mostly unarmed police force suffering budget cuts and stretched too thin to be effective and misguided law enforcement priorities. Adding to these internal domestic matters is a weakened military. Cultural Marxism, which has spread throughout both the UK and the US plays at least some role in the above problems.

These are disturbing developments. Some may say why should we Americans care what goes on there? We won our independence from them quite some time ago. So how does this affect us? The answer is it affects us greatly, and we should care.

Analysis

These toxins of Political correctness and multiculturalism have infiltrated Western Civilization, weakening and sickening it. The agenda of the left can also be compared to a social form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). OCD is a neurologically based anxiety disorder, which progresses, demanding the sufferer’s attention to more and more irrelevant details, constantly morphing and growing to consume all of one’s time and attention, and dominate one’s life.

It can never be satisfied, no matter what behavioral changes a person makes, OCD will always demand more. Political Correctness is akin to this. There is no definition of a victory or a met goal. It just keep’s taking and consuming more and more, and can never be satisfied. There are no limits as to what it will consume, nor any consideration of the costs. I am genuinely baffled by the agenda of the left.

There are those who believe there is some dark conspiracy to bring about global domination, and a one world government. I would speculate that it is even worse. There are no end goals; rather a relentless and mindless march with no consideration of the consequences, like lemmings off a cliff.

Syria was torn by warfare and ISIS was taking over and occupying land; an unusual if not unheard of action by terrorists. In response there was a flood of refugees. Europe and the UK opened its doors. The left in their unlimited tolerance and compassion for all (expect those on the right) said send us your refugees. There was insufficient consideration of factors such as:

  • Will terrorists or ISIS fighters hide among the refugees and enter Europe?
  • Will Syrian refugees assimilate to the European cultures and language, and adopt Western values, contributing instead of taking from a society?
  • Who will pay for resettling the refugees, and provide them with housing, transportation, food, and medical care? The estimated cost for 20,000 refugees is about two billion pounds (2.7 billion US dollars).
  • The result was a de facto invasion, with costly terrorist attacks throughout the UK and Europe.
  • Let’s keep going the left says. If you dare express concern or criticism of the Islamic belief system, you are promptly labeled a hate speech spouting Islamophobic bigot. In the US, so far it will “only” cost you your job and reputation. In the UK, it can mean prison time. This is oppression of free speech and the exchange of ideas.
  • Feminists are silent about an Iranian woman who publicly removed her hijab, and was incarcerated for two years. Never mind the hijab is a symbol of female repression, in a patriarchal male dominated society, the same type that feminists always seem to be speaking out against. Keep going. The left is not done yet.
  • If you are a white, western Christian, and a conservative you are a member of the only group not tolerated by the left. You are basically a piece of excrement strewn with flies on the bottom of a garbage can. You should hate yourself. The agenda of the left is truly unhinged, deranged, and confused.

Yet another concern, which more directly affects the United States, is that a weak UK weakens the US.  While the United States and the British Empire certainly had their differences in the 18th and 19th centuries, e.g., the Revolutionary war, and the War of 1812, we have since become the best of friends, economic partners, and allies.

The Brits have been at our side through almost every major conflict in the 20th and 21st century. We were at their sides in World War I and World War II, and they repaid us without hesitation in Korea, the 1991 Gulf war, Bosnia, Kosovo, the ongoing Iran/Afghanistan conflict, and of late, Syria. But the UK’s Army, Navy, and Air Force have been stripped to the bone through budget cuts. Strong allies add to our strength. Today, the brits are barely capable of defending themselves, let alone expeditionary actions in support of common interests with the US.

Conclusion

The Brits are losing their identity and culture through the insidious, poisonous insatiable greed of multiculturalism, and so are we. British author and psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple has written extensively about the sad descent into degeneracy that has overtaken the UK, as they have crumbled from a mighty Empire Upon Which the Sun Never Set to a weakened and divided island –nation. We will have to see what changes occur as Brexit unfolds.

For information on Britain’s past military strength, see the videos below:

WWI Factions: The British Army - YouTube

RAF Fighter Pilot (World War II) - YouTube

British SAS (World War II) - YouTube

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by Megan

“You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. And nowadays, you breathe, and you risk your life.”  Hershel Green, The Walking Dead

Just like many people today, Hershel wasn’t always aware of the risks that were in the world. He had to come to it in his own time. But once he did, it was clear things needed to change, he knew they all needed to be more alert and ready. In reality, there’s no way you can ever predict exactly if and when you, a friend, or a family member will end up in harm’s way or how severe it will be.

But those who are paying attention, know life is risky and it’s unpredictable. We know you can’t see something coming at you and hold up you hand and say “wait, let me get my gun, my flashlight, etc.” Imagine you’re at a stadium concert with your family and there’s an explosion and the building fills with smoke. Or you witness a car accident on the highway and find a child trapped in their car seat. Nowadays you could be attacked while walking your dog or while loading groceries into your car.

Preppers know that being prepared can truly be the determine life or death for you, your loved ones, even a stranger. And this is where everyday carry (EDC) comes in. It’s a strategy of readiness that focuses on some critical EDC items you should always have on you, so you are prepared to deal with what life throws at you, no matter when it comes.

When it comes to your EDC strategy, you need to prepare to address critical survival issues such as fresh air, water, shelter, and food in the best way you can. You also need to be prepared to any of life’s little inconveniences that crop up, address any medical issues that may arise, and be prepared to defend yourself against any person with an intent to do you harm. Your EDC are the items you carry with you at all times, on your person, so they are always with you.

Fresh Air…

to breathe is critical. The average person can survive only up to 3 minutes without fresh air. If you find yourself in a smoke-filled building or trapped in a debris-filled area, you need to protect your lungs, so you can stay alert and get to safety.

For this reason, many people carry an N-95 or even an N-99 filtration mask or even a simple bandana as part of their everyday carry. Bandanas are versatile and can be used to carry things, to protect your head or neck from sunburn, to help filter water, to make a sling, or signal for help. If you suffer from asthma, your inhaler would be part of your EDC. Some people choose to carry a shemagh which is larger and even more versatile than a bandana.

Water…

…to drink is the next most critical survival issue. Most people can survive for as many as 3 days without fresh drinking water, but many people will start to feel the impact of dehydration even before that. You can be alert and help yourself out of a bad situation if you are suffering from dehydration. So, having the ability to get fresh water is critical. Most people include a portable water filter, such a lifestraw or a sawyer mini, as part of their EDC. You may also want to carry a water bottle or packet of water, or/and iodine tablets to purify any fresh water source you do find.

Shelter…

isn’t always something people think of as being a critical survival need until they find themselves caught in a bad situation. The average person can only survive about 3 hours in extreme weather, so shelter is actually more critical a need than food.

When it comes to EDC, you can’t really carry a tent or a tarp around with you everyday. But you can carry paracord which can be used in combination with things you find around you to create a temporary shelter to protect from extreme sun, rain, or snow. You can also carry an emergency space blanket which comes in a small square package. Even just having this to wrap around you or someone who nearly drowned or was in an accident can make a huge difference.

Fire…

…is something that can be a critical resource for staying warm and for keeping wild animals away in a more rural situation. Fire is also necessary to boil water to purify it and to cook any small game you may catch in a longer-term survival situation. Most people carry a fire striker but since you won’t always be in a scenario where you have the time and materials for a tinder ball, lighter, and waterproof matches as a backup are a great addition to your EDC.

Food

When it comes to food as part of your EDC, what you want is to have enough energy to keep up your strength in a short-term emergency or a survival situation. Sure, the average person can manage to live as much as 3 weeks without food but lack of food, specifically protein, will sap your energy long before that.

Carry something like a protein bar or package of nuts to boost energy. For longer term situations, you may need to catch and clean small game. A fixed blade knife is great to have on hand for this. A knife also is great to have for a variety of other tasks such as cutting paracord or even self-defense.

Medical

When it comes to emergency situations, many of them involve some type of medical issue. Whether it’s a car accident, a drowning, an accidental laceration to the arm, or low blood sugar, you’ll want to be prepared if professional medical help isn’t immediately available.

Consider including plastic straws or a pen, to make an airway, needle and thread for sutures, a packet of sugar, bandages, an epipen, etc. You’ll also want to be prepared for life’s little medical inconveniences so add things such as pain relievers, triple antibiotic ointment, and antihistamine medication. If you have any chronic personal medical issues such as heartburn, high blood pressure, etc. you’ll want to carry at least one dose of your personal medications.

Security and Self-Defense

Many types of survival situations occur because someone else intends to harm us. Whether you are a random victim, or someone targets you, being prepared can save your life or the life of your loved ones. An intruder in your home isn’t going to wait patiently while you get your gun from upstairs.

If you are attacked or mugged, you need to be ready to defend yourself immediately. Consider adding pepper spray, a firearm, or a Kubotan to your EDC. A tactical pen or even a tactical flashlight are also great additions. A whistle to signal or small mirror to signal for help if you are trapped and can’t yell loud enough to attract rescuers attention are good ideas.

In addition to the above items, other critical EDC items you should always have on you are your cell phone, your keys, and your wallet. Believe it or not, there are many essentials that fit in your wallet, keychain, and phone. In fact, by including just these three items as part of your EDC, you can easily carry a ton of items that are useful in an emergency or survival situation.

Obviously, no one person can carry everything we’ve listed above. You will need to customize your EDC to fit your lifestyle and your personal needs. Concealed carry laws also differ in every state and sometimes depending on the building you will be in.

Some preppers have multiple EDC kits and they swap them out based on what they are doing during the day and where they expect to travel. When it comes to EDC, experiment with different items until you find the combination or combinations that work best for your situation. The key to a successful EDC strategy is to feel confident that you are prepared to handle whatever life throws at you.

Note: I am not a doctor, so please don’t mistaken this for medical advice. neither the author nor modernsurvivalonline.com shall be held liable for any side-effects as a result of applying the advice in this article. The advice is for information purposes only.

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by Chad

If you are in a situation where the discharge and report of your firearm carries inherent risk owing to disturbance, adding a silencer (AKA suppressor) is the ideal solution to mitigate those risks. Lessening the noise, or report, of a gun is mechanically very simple, and aside from the cost of the “can” itself only requires an obligatory $200 tax stamp and protracted wait time to get BATFE approval.

Nearly anyone in a short or long term survival situation will benefit from having a suppressor on their gun. If you have shied away from procuring silencers due to the perceived difficulty of acquiring the device or make necessary modifications to your host firearm, this article should put those considerations to bed.

We will explore how suppressors work, the basics of acquiring one legally, and examine an overview of some firearms that yield themselves particularly well to being suppressed, and especially for the purposes of a survival situation. Keep your ear-muffs on for now, though, and read on.

A Note on Terminology

Before we delve into the core of our article, I will address the naming convention around suppressors and silencers. The short version is that the two terms are synonymous, but most gun owners and professionals will fall into one camp or the other for use, and mildly berate whoever uses the opposite. In point of fact, Hiram Percy Maxim (son of Hiram Smith Maxim, of Maxim machine gun fame) invented the first firearm silencer, and it was named as such by him. The common use of the word ‘suppressor’ did not surface until sometime after these devices were common.

The federal government also classifies and regulates such devices as “firearm silencers and mufflers,” so there is that to consider. I think it is only right to allow the inventor of something to dictate the name of his invention, but nevertheless, both words are in common usage.

“Firearm muffler” just sounds clumsy. “Can” is slang for a suppressor or silencer. “Suppressor” is technically a more accurate descriptor of such things, considering a silenced gun is far from silent, and is probably why it is so common among firearm nomenclature sticklers.

Bottom Line: “Silencer” and “Suppressor” are both perfectly acceptable terms and anyone who insists you use one or the other knows exactly what you mean and is simply being pretentious, and you should inform them of the fact. I will stick with suppressor for the remainder of the article. Moving on!

 How Do Suppressors Work?

A suppressor reduces the report of a firearm by moderating and reducing one of the chief factors contributing to noise at the muzzle, which is blast; the expelled, hot propellant gasses being emitted from the muzzle behind the bullet. The other chief factor is the supersonic crack of a bullet breaking the sound barrier- more on that in a minute. The aforementioned gasses, when unchecked, erupt from the muzzle of the gun in their characteristic, skull-rattling boom.

By containing these gasses, giving them room to expand, slow and cool somewhat before reaching the atmosphere, the report at the muzzle can be greatly reduced or eliminated, depending on the combination of suppressor, host firearm and cartridge used. This is very similar in operation to the muffler on a car, and interestingly the inventor of the first silencer also designed mufflers  for automobiles (that he also called silencers, ha!).

Suppressors do great at reducing the report of most guns to less than ear-splitting intensity, but the report will still likely be far from the library-whisper “Hollywood” suppressors that make a tinny thwip and nothing else. The “loudness” of this report is measured in the standard unit of decibels, or dB, and suppressor efficiency is rated according to decibel reduction at the muzzle. Note that this value given by any manufacturers is slightly variable depending on the gun and ammo combination and ambient atmospheric conditions.

The other major factor, mentioned earlier, that contributes to the noise of a gunshot is the supersonic signature, or crack, of a high-velocity bullet. This noise is usually less intense than the muzzle blast, but is still very loud, and the farthest thing from quiet. Because it is generated by the bullet itself breaking the sound barrier, the only way to eliminate this factor is to either use slow “subsonic” ammunition, or one of the very few specially suppressed guns designed to actually bleed off the gasses behind the bullet while it is still in the bore, reducing it to a speed slower than sound before it exits the barrel.

Note that many cartridges are so fast supersonic is inherent to the design, and reducing the velocity of the bullet by reducing the powder charge substantially can actually create functionality issues, especially in semi- and full-automatic guns. Other cartridges are slower than sound by nature, and so need not worry about supersonic signature. If one desires a very quiet suppressor and gun combination, one of these slower cartridges may be ideal.  Some cartridges, especially for handguns, can be had in either subsonic or supersonic varieties depending on the weight of the bullet and load.

As far as the design of the suppressor itself, the internal configuration of the chambers and baffles that slow and route the gasses vary depending on the type and manufacturer. This is not entirely important to our discussion here, but suffice to say some work better than others. The attachment method for connecting it to the host firearm also varies, but is typically a thread-on design for pistols and the rare shotgun suppressors, and one of several common “quick-detach,” or QD, methods for rifles, which again vary depending on the manufacturer and muzzle device.

These methods are not universal! You must know exactly how you will mount your suppressor to a host firearm and set it up accordingly. For all the dizzying variation among them, for the novice this boils down to a simple call or chat with a suppressor manufacturer before purchase, and is nothing to obsess over.

Benefits of Suppression

The most obvious benefit of suppressing a firearm is the reduced, sometimes greatly reduced report of the shot. Your neighbors near the range will appreciate it. This might translate into saving your hearing, and that of your family in a self-defense situation. It allows better communication among police when their words are not being drowned out by gunfire. It might mean less spooking of game on hunting land. It may prevent a shooter from being located when firing from a hide, due to less noise and disturbance from blast around the gun.

Do not discount the 2nd order effects of using all suppressed guns in a team or group setting: a suppressed firearm, even one that is still supersonic, sounds distinctly different from an unsuppressed one. In such a scenario, any unsuppressed gunshot will stick out immensely, i.e. “not one of ours.”

If firing at a distant threat with a suppressed rifle, they may be confused by the seemingly conflicting information reported by their ears; the report, if heard, will sound farther away, and be harder to locate, while the crack left in the wake of the supersonic bullet, if it passes them, will be heard to the side or rear. These two factors are more germane to military or certain law enforcement vocations than the average citizen prepper, but it pays to know the full benefits of a piece of kit should you ever find yourself in extremis.

It is not hard to see how much is gained from adding a suppressor to a firearm. Aside from the cost and acquisition drawbacks mentioned earlier, the only other factor to consider is the increase in overall length and bulk of the host firearm. This may or may not be an issue depending on your application. Carrying a suppressed handgun concealed is no simple trick for most, and a 16” barreled rifle becomes much less handy with another 7-8” added to it. Think carefully about your intended use, and let that guide your choice and modification of the host firearm.

Quick Guide to Hosts: Getting the Least Bang for Your Buck

Suppressors and suppressor theory is a pursuit distinct from guns in itself. I could handily turn this article into a long diatribe on the life, times and future of suppressors and how to wring every last decibel of reduction from one. Instead, I will go over the perks, flaws and suitability of common cartridges, firearm action types and suppressor classes, and the way they interact with each other, which is really where the magic is if you are seeking a very quiet setup. We’ll cover action types first, then cartridges and finally the classes of suppressors.

Keep in mind, reader, that nearly any conceivable combination of action and cartridge can be suppressed, but not all those combinations are effective, or even viable.

Host Action, Handguns

Revolver– Not suitable for suppression owing to the gap between cylinder face and forcing cone (flash gap), lets some propellant escape noisily, ruining any effect of suppressor on muzzle. A tiny number of revolvers suitable for suppression, either by design or modification, do exist. If you know one, say so in the comments. (No cheating with Google!)

Semi-automatic- Suitable for suppression. Typical attachment will be by factory or aftermarket barrel with threaded muzzle, occasionally a QD mount. Typical handgun suppressors, depending on the host design, must make use of a Nielsen Device, or muzzle booster, to offset the weight of the suppressor hanging off the barrel retarding the action. Note that the noise of the gun cycling and ejecting is not insignificant.

Host Action, Rifles

Bolt Action or Single Shot- very suitable for suppression owing to action being well-sealed when in battery and no reciprocating parts or ejecting cases on firing. Typical attachment method today is QD, sometimes thread-on.

Lever Action- suitable for suppression. Can be very quiet if chambered in pistol cartridge or subsonic rifle cartridge. Typical attachment method today is thread-on.

Semi-automatic- suitable for suppression. Reciprocating action and ejection does create noise. May need tuning for reliability depending on host design and suppressor match, may create issues with gas overpressure. Biggest issue is rifle rounds typically supersonic. Typical attachment method today is QD, sometimes thread-on.

Full-automatic- suitable for suppression as above, but suppressor will need to be of higher grade to withstand rigorous firing schedule.

Host Action, Shotguns

Single Shot- suitable for suppression. Surprisingly quiet with right load. Attachment will be via thread-on choke-type mount.

Double-Barrel-  not suitable for suppression. Insufficient space between barrels to mount suppressors.

Pump action- suitable for suppression. Surprisingly quiet with right load. Attachment will be via thread-on choke-type mount.

Semi-automatic- suitable for suppression. May need tuning for reliability depending on host design. Attachment will be via thread-on choke-type mount.

*Note: Shotgun suppressors have only recently become commercially viable, with the flagship design being offered by Silencer Co., the Salvo 12.

Don’t get too wrapped up on trying to figure out if your gun can mount a suppressor. A simple call to any one of the major manufacturers will determine that with certainty, and more importantly, nearly any modern handgun or rifle will with minimal modification.

Cartridge Selection and Consideration

Most any cartridge and gun will benefit from adding a suppressor, but if one desires a truly quiet combination, you can narrow it down to a few choices, noted below. Remember, the supersonic crack of a bullet is the other major factor contributing to noise upon firing, so any gun that utilizes a supersonic cartridge will present that signature on firing.

The rule of thumb for supersonic velocity is approximately 1150 feet per second at sea level. Use that as a coarse guide for determining if a factory load of any cartridge is supersonic. I will cover most common cartridges below.

.22 LR- Supersonic, but easily had in subsonic. With the right suppressor and ammo can get very close to “Hollywood” quiet. Can make superb small game hunting and pest removal solution.

9mm Para.- Most loads are supersonic, but some can be found that are subsonic by design. May require testing and tuning to find consistently reliable subsonic load and suppressor combo. Nearly any modern service handgun can be set up for suppression and more and more factory guns come stock with threaded barrels standard or as an option.

.40 S&W- The .40’s popularity is dwindling, but still a common host. Lighter bullet weights are typically supersonic, 160-165 grain loads vary and nearly all 180 grain loads are subsonic.

.45ACP- A classic choice for quiet types. Most loads inherently subsonic. Makes a great cartridge in handgun, submachine gun or pistol-caliber carbine for very quiet work.

5.56x45mm / 5.45x39mm- Inherently supersonic. Subsonic loads for use in semi-auto rifles present huge functionality hurdles. Suppressor will tame deafening muzzle-blast, but supersonic crack still quite loud.

.300 AAC Blackout, or .300 Blk- Supersonic or subsonic. Niche cartridge, but has some merit as a dedicated subsonic setup. Mentioned here as one of its primary design objectives was to offer reliable .30 caliber suppressed performance in M4 carbine family of weapons.

.308 Win. / 7.62x51mm- Inherently supersonic. Same principle as 5.56mm applies here.

12 Ga.- Varies by shot/projectile type and load, typically supersonic.

As for the variety of other rifle and handgun cartridges, rest assured that there is in all likelihood a suppressor for it out there. Whether or not your given host is suitable for it is another story; generally speaking, the more popular the host gun, or widely adopted it is, will mean it is more likely to have an off the shelf solution available.

Suppressor Design and Compatibility

Suppressors are designed to function on a pistol, a rifle or a shotgun. Some suppressors are designed to function on a rifle or a pistol, sometimes called multi-use suppressors. Typically, a suppressor will function with the cartridge it was designed for, and smaller (but not always!) with a small loss of efficiency.

Depending on the make and model, it could be made to disassemble, allowing the user to service and maintain it, or not, being serviceable primarily only at the factory. You will see info on compatibility listed plainly with most suppressor product info.

Obtaining a Suppressor

Suppressor ownership is fairly straightforward, and available to citizens in most states. As of the date of this article, nearly every state in the U.S. allows suppressor ownership and their use in hunting. Assuming you live in one of those permissive states, the following criteria apply for purchase:

  • Must be a U.S. resident.
  • Must be legally able to purchase and own firearm.
  • Purchaser must be 21 years old.
  • Purchaser must pay $200 transfer tax per suppressor to the BATFE.

There are a few more hoops to jump through, like notifying the chief law enforcement officer in your jurisdiction about taking possession of the item. That sounds bad, but before 2016 you either had to get permission from that law enforcement officer to take possession (resulting in de facto bans in some areas when permission was never granted) or take possession in either a trust or corporation, which is still an option and may be best depending on how you want to protect your asset. You will of course have to submit paperwork, photographs and fingerprints. Expect a wait time of months to a year before you can take possession of your new suppressor.

If all this talk of bureaucracy is making you sweat, don’t fear: many suppressor dealers and manufacturers have extensive experience with getting new owners up to par painlessly. Once you have made the decision to purchase a given model, give them a call and let them get you going down the path to ownership with a minimum of stress.

Conclusion

While tedious and expensive to acquire, the practical and tactical benefits of a suppressor make the process worthwhile. Suppressors increase safety, efficiency and reduce hazards when engaged in nearly any type of shooting. Make the commitment to obtain one if the benefit to your objective is worth the financial and time investment.

Additional Resources

Some considerations in this article were simplified for brevity and ease of reading. Below you will find several links to manufacturers and organizations that can explain use, ownership and legal considerations in greater detail. I suggest you look at them.

American Suppressor Association- Focus on state and federal level lobbying, and public education. Great resources on their site. https://americansuppressorassociation.com/

Dead Air Armament- Makers of high-quality, innovative suppressors. http://deadairsilencers.com

Gemtech- One of the older and most prolific suppressor manufacturers. http://gem-tech.com

SilencerCo.- Another big name in suppressors. http://silencerco.com

Surefire- Known for flashlights, but they also make super heavy-duty cans. www.surefire.com

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by Chad

In the U.S., the AK family of rifles has enjoyed considerable, if controversial, popularity among civilians and American enthusiasm for it is today higher than ever. The AK-47 and its variants are the iconic rifle of the Russian Federation, the former U.S.S.R. and a host of former Communist Bloc states. It is found in the hands of fighters and farmers in nearly every corner of the developed and undeveloped world.

The Kalashnikov family of rifles is renowned for ruggedness, simplicity and punch. It has been produced both by official and unauthorized manufacture across the globe in such vast numbers that today its numbers are literally countless. Whether or not you are considering an AK variant for your own purposes or dismissing it as the firearm of our enemies, it is in your best interest to learn the ins and outs of the globe’s most plentiful assault rifle, including its semi-automatic commercial cousins.

In this article we’ll examine the AK family in basic detail, covering the design history in brief, and major variants with their cartridges, operation and considerations for use and equipage. We’ll bust a few myths, and hopefully leave you with a better understanding of this most ubiquitous of rifles.

The AK-47: Design History and Evolution

The AK family of rifles was first properly conceived in 1947, by Mikhail Kalashnikov, one of the 20th century’s most prolific and respected small arm designers. In his youth, Kalashnikov was attracted to all kinds of machinery, and worked as a mechanic. During World War II, after conscription into the Red Army in 1938, Kalashnikov was made a tank mechanic owing to his engineering skills and small stature.

Later he was promoted to tank commander, and after being wounded in the Battle of Bryansk was recuperating in a hospital in 1942 when he overheard fellow soldiers lament the shortcomings of the Red Army’s issued rifles. Dismayed at their opinion of their weapons, Kalashnikov then had the idea to design a new one, one that would eliminate these shortcomings to give his fellow soldiers an effective battlefield weapon to compete with other nations. This idea would evolve into the basis of the AK-47.

The Soviet leadership during World War II was greatly impressed by the German progenitor of assault rifles, the Sturmgewehr 44. Chambered for an intermediate cartridge, this new weapon combined the accuracy and range of a rifle, with the maneuverability and firepower of a submachine gun.

The Soviets wanted something comparable, and badly, and so in 1944 devised an intermediate cartridge of their own, the 7.62x39mm. Kalashnikov, after much design and refinement, and several rounds of competition and trials against more experienced designers of small arms finalized his rifle design, chambering the new Soviet cartridge in the year of 1947, and calling it the Avtomat Kalashnikova, literally Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle, model of 1947.

The AK-47 later entered army trials in 1948, but was not formally adopted until 1949. Initial production was hampered by some difficulties and design revisions: the very first AK-47’s, the Type 1’s, were made of stamped steel receivers, but challenges with welding and alignment during manufacture led to the adoption of a second type, with a milled steel receiver. It was much heavier, but lent itself better to immediate production owing to the existence of the needed milling machinery and tooling. Thanks to these changes and other snags, the rifle did not see widespread distribution to the army until around 1956.

It is here that we encounter our first major variation of the AK family; the heavy, milled steel receivers are the archetypal AK-47, specifically the Types 2 and 3. They are easily identified by appearance, their lack of rivets on the receiver, heft and a distinctive milled rectangular lightening cut on both sides of the receiver over the magazine well.

The AK-47 was upgraded in the year of 1959, going back to a stamped sheet steel receiver, a slanted brake on the muzzle, internal changes to prevent the rifle from firing when the bolt was out of battery. This revision, the Type 4, is better known as the Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy, or AKM, the “M” meaning modernized.

The AKM and its variants are far and away the most plentiful and widespread, being the most commonly encountered today whether or not of licensed production. The AKM is easily identified by its light, riveted and stamped receiver, which also has a small pill-shaped detent just above the magazine well.

The AKM served as the basis of the AK-74, developed in the early 1970’s by Kalashnikov, and is identical in operation and function to the AKM, and differs predominately in its new chambering: the 5.45x39mm, designed to compete with the then new American M16 and its light, fast 5.56 x 45mm cartridge.

The AK-74 and its derivatives are today the main infantry assault rifle of most former U.S.S.R. countries.

A Note on Verbiage

Speaking strictly for American users, most will use “AK-47” or “47” as shorthand for any AK variant chambered in the original 7.62mm cartridge. Most will likewise use “AK-74” or “74” as shorthand for referencing a gun chambered in 5.45mm. “AK” or “Kalashnikov” is used broadly to refer to any rifle in the AK family, or a specific rifle. Individual countries or companies model names will usually be entirely different.

The total number of models, variants and country-specific permutations of the AK family of rifles is nothing short of mind-boggling, and beyond the scope of this article. Instead of making this a historical or reference work, I’ll instead paint with a broader brush and cover things pertaining to the AK-47/AKM and AK-74 designs at large.

The topics we cover will be applicable to the families of rifles as a whole, and will help you make informed decisions about selection and employment, if applicable.

Design Elements and Controls

The AK action is typified by a handful of hallmarks: great reliability and ruggedness in all conditions, a long-stroke gas pistol system, a distinctively slanted or vertical gas block, generous tolerances between moving parts, a large curved magazine and a large, somewhat unwieldy safety and selector lever on the right side of the receiver.

The entirety of the AK design is designed to enable cheap and quick production, and greatly simplified training in its manual of arms. Furniture can be made of any combination of wood, plastic, or metal, in a wide array of colors or finishes.

AK sights are a simple rear notch and hooded front post. The rear notch is usually graduated to allow adjustment for target distance without tools. Windage and elevation adjustment for zeroing is achieved with the front sight, being threaded for elevation and on a driftable base to allow for windage adjustment. This will typically require a tool for the purpose.

The AK, while renowned for its simple design and ease of manufacture also varies wildly in quality from country to country, or manufacturer to manufacturer. One of the most pervasive myths about the AK is that it simply will not break or malfunction as long as it is an AK, and that one hammered together by untrained laborers in a nameless town with no electricity will shoot and shoot and shoot until the end of time.

Like anything else, especially with guns, you get what you pay for, and an AK variant from a maker that is known for fine quality materials and fitment will be a far better and more reliable rifle than one dredged as parts from some undeveloped country and assembled by minimum wage workers. Do not believe the idea that you can pay $350 or $400 for a commercial AK in the U.S. and come away with a quality gun by virtue of it being an AK.

AK magazines are either made of metal or plastics, and vary greatly in their quality and reliability depending on pattern and country of origin. Due to the sheer number of variation between both guns and magazines, you will run into more occurrences of fitting and functionality problems here than, say, with an AR or G3 rifle.

Identification of AK magazines is another sub-article in itself, but let it be said you should give the same care and consideration to selecting your magazines as you do your rifle. 7.62x39mm magazines are easily ID’d against their similar 5.45mm cousins due to their more pronounced curvature.

Insertion of the AK magazine is accomplished by hooking the front tab of the magazine into a lug at the front of the magazine well and then rocking it reward until it engages the magazine release with a pronounced click. This operation will be very fiddly for those used to straight-insertion designs until practiced.

The magazine release is a lever directly behind the magazine well on the underside of the receiver. To remove the magazine, the thumb presses this lever toward the muzzle as the magazine is rocked forward out of the magazine well.

The selector lever of the AK is 3 position: Fully up is Safe, the middle position is Automatic, and fully down is Single, or Semi-Automatic. The design ideology was that a user under serious stress will swipe the selector from safe all the way down to single, and placing the gun on automatic requires a deliberate action.

The selector functions as a dust cover, sealing the receiver when on safe and preventing the bolt from cycling reward enough to strip and chamber a cartridge. Operation of the selector is challenging for right handed shooters, and typically mandates breaking of the firing grip entirely if not using an aftermarket selector lever.

A few countries versions have a modified selector lever that is also engaged by the shooting hand thumb, and consists of a lever on the left side of the receiver just above the pistol grip. This lever is typically forward for Safe, and Rear for Single, with the middle position being Automatic. Operation of this lever is slaved to the main selector lever on the right side of the receiver.

The charging handle protrudes directly from the bolt on the right side of the action, reciprocates with the bolt upon firing and can be grasped with either hand for cycling depending on the technique used.

The AK trigger is unremarkable, save for its typically middling pull. Some variations of the AK are known for a phenomenon known as “trigger slap,” where the trigger is somewhat violently reset by the reciprocating action, and causing discomfort or even pain to the shooter’s trigger finger.

The AK typically does not have a bolt lock, and the bolt not lock open after the last round is fired, and relies either on a notch in the selector lever for achieving this manually or a certain type of magazine equipped with a follower that will restrain the bolt in its reward position after the last round is fired. Using such a device, the bolt will close if the magazine is removed.

Loading and Unloading

To load any AK, follow the steps below. The following assumes you are starting with no magazine in the gun, and the selector off safe.

  1. Insert a loaded magazine at proper angle, rocking from front to rear until it engages.
  2. Grasping the charging handle with either hand, pull the bolt all the way to the rear, then release, letting it go home under full spring power.
  3. Rifle is now loaded and ready to fire. Engage safety if not firing immediately.

The unloading procedure is the reverse. Extra care must be taken during unloading of an AK compared as you must disengage the safety to retract the bolt enough to eject any cartridge in the chamber.

  1. Remove magazine by grasping magazine and pressing magazine release forward with thumb. Magazine is rocked from back to front out of magazine well.
  2. Move selector off of Safe position.
  3. Grasping the charging handle with either hand, pull the bolt all the way to the rear, observe for ejection of chambered cartridge.
  4. Release bolt, or engage bolt hold-open if featured.
  5. Rifle is now unloaded.
Cartridge Performance: Which Should You Choose?

The 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm are completely different cartridges. The venerable 7.62mm, with a projectile weight of 120gr. – 155gr. And muzzle velocity of 2,100fps- 2,430fps falls somewhere between the U.S.’s domestic .300 Blackout and .30-30 Winchester in performance. The .300 Blackout has a slightly better ballistic coefficient but is typically slower with a similar weight of bullet, while the .30-30 Win. can push heavier projectiles faster than the 7.62mm across all loads.

The 5.45x39mm’s closest domestic analogue is the 5.56x45mm, having been designed by Russia to compete with the 5.56mm after they took a good, long look at U.S. employment of that cartridge in Vietnam. The 5.45x39mm uses bullets weighing anywhere from 52gr. to 64gr., with muzzle velocities between 2,800fps and 3,200fps. The inspiration for this cartridge is obvious when ballistic data is compared to the 5.56x45mm.

The 7.62mm, while punchy with good penetration and performance against intermediate barriers, has a ballistic shortcoming in its significant drop at even close-mid range. The average 123gr. Bullet fired by an AK with a muzzle velocity of around 2400 feet per second will drop approximately 42 inches at 350 yards, and will have shed around 1000fps if velocity. That is almost 4 feet!

In comparison, the 5.45mm 7N6 standard load, firing a 53gr. bullet will only drop 28inches at the same distance. The 5.45mm thanks to its superior velocity and ballistic coefficient is much “flatter” shooting at typical engagement distances. Either will serve well for an anti-personnel rifle, but the 5.45mm has far less recoil than the 7.62mm, is significantly lighter, and has better effectiveness with most loads against a human target than the 7.62. Modern armies and agencies have moved away from .30 caliber rifles in the intervening decades for a reason!

Neither7.62 or 5.45 is known for accuracy, but this is mostly due to the majority of AK’s not being particularly accurate rifles, not because the cartridges are inherently inaccurate. Modern commercial ammo fired from another rifle, or even a high-end commercial AK variant can produce excellent groups all the way out to 300 yards and beyond, with many commercial loads being capable of producing around a 1 ½  MOA group at 100 yards.

Your biggest advantage selecting the 7.62mm in the US is going to be cheap and plentiful ammunition. If you do not mind the added weight and recoil, the 7.62 still serves well even today, and modern, high-performance bullets make it significantly more effective than with legacy loads.

5.45mm ammo is not nearly as easy to procure, especially since the ATF banned importation of common surplus military loads from Europe and Asia, but is available and affordable if one is willing to order quantity online. The lighter recoil, and flatter trajectory make the AK-74 a joy to use, and if optimized for accuracy, a real competitor against nearly any Western rifle.

Optimization

A plethora of domestic and foreign aftermarket performance parts and modifications exist for the AK family of rifles, from tuned triggers to stocks, grips and extended handguards. Muzzle devices and extended controls are common, as are optic mounts. You will find modern AK’s equipped with everything one would expect to see on a fighting rifle: lights, lasers, foregrips, IR illuminators and more.

The issue with this newfound modularity is that of weight. Russians historically place weight-savings very low on their priority list when designing small arms and the AK is no different. An AK is a fairly heavy gun when loaded. It is even heavier when saddled with modern accoutrement, and a 7.62 gun can easily tip the scales at 10lbs plus.

The issue of optics mounting is more a problem of expectation than execution. Americans are used to simply mounting an optic to the top of the receiver of most guns, and expecting that rigid receiver to hold zero. Considering the AK’s entire receiver top cover is removable for disassembly and is far from an optically consistent fit, you have a couple of choices:

1.) Install an optics rail in a more rigid location, typically in front of the trunnion over the gas tube. This omits the use of most magnified optics.
2.) Utilize an AK specific side-rail mounted optics base. Contrary to popular opinion, a quality mount on an in-spec rail is very rugged, and not likely to lose zero, but it will necessitate either a cheek riser or more of a “chin-weld” on the stock to see through the optic.
3.) Gamble on some abominable Gun-Show Special replacement top-cover with a rail welded on and set screws to increase rigidity. Pray it works, then curse when it inevitably fails.

#3 is always poor decision unless the solution is from a high-end, AK-centric manufacturer. Numbers 1 and 2 are both acceptable depending on what optic is desired.

When preparing to purchase and install mods and accessories for an AK, you must keep in mind that the sheer number of variations means some parts are designed only for country or regional specific variants. Other parts which should be “bolt-on” will still require a degree of hand fitting to install. Things like trigger and hammer installation are just not as simple or as fool-proof as the installation on an AR. They are typically achievable for the average user, but may require a different approach or tools than normal. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer of either component or rifle.

Considerations for Domestic Use

If you buy a quality rifle and decent ammunition, you should expect a very high degree of reliability out of your AK, certainly comparable to most Western standbys. Do not expect to buy a dirt cheap $300 import parts-kit gun and get a 25,000 service life out of it; people that try to convince you otherwise citing that they “never had a problem” with their “flawless” cheapy have not even put 500 rounds through theirs. As I mentioned above, an AK is not invincible or trouble-free just by virtue of being an AK. Quality speaks. Seek it.

The AK is noticeably less ergonomic than the AR-15 family of rifles, specifically the safety, very short fixed or folding stock that lacks adjustable length of pull, and cramped stock handguards. Manipulations like reloads and taking the rifle off safe will be slower and more prone to error compared to an AR without practice. This is not to say that you cannot obtain a high degree of speed with an AK. You certainly can, but the AR and other western designs simply make some actions easier to accomplish.

A sort of elephant in the room may be the AK’s status as the “Bad Guys’ Gun.” This is probably too much to unpack in this article, but I will give you my thoughts and opinions on the matter and let you make your own decision. First, the AK is also the “Good Guys’ Gun” and serves in one guise or another as the primary infantry rifle of several allied or friendly nations, or as the basis of their domestic variant. I believe technology is agnostic in this regard, and the AK has only the cultural value we assign to it.

Second, the gun culture in the U.S. reflects, well, the rest of our culture: most Americans value merit over nationality, and we happily assimilate foreign people and products that offer benefits or improve our lives. A huge swath of U.S. manufacturers, gunsmith, customizers and gun owners have seen fit to enshrine the AK here and make it a part of our landscape.

The AK’s popularity is booming, and the commercial sector is responding in kind, thanks to a grassroots effort by enthusiasts. More quality domestic AK’s are available now than ever, along with a host of high-performance upgrades. A well-tuned AK is as much a hot-rod as any high-end AR.

All that being said, one must still stop to consider a more subtle issue. This is a rifle that has been depicted on targets, in movies and other media, constantly, and I do mean constantly as being the weapon of bad guys. I mentioned it above, but how would this possibly affect someone’s perception of the person who wields it?

I do not mean to insinuate that, for instance, using an AK in an otherwise righteous home-defense shooting would create any undue legal trouble if the rifle was legal, but I do worry about a case of mistaken identity if a cop or someone else happens upon me in some unknown situation, wielding the distinctive silhouette of an AK, one that he has no doubt engaged many, many times on the target range in practice of just such an occasion. This is admittedly probably only a plausible issue in times of serious societal unrest or worse.

I could be way, way out of my lane with that line of reasoning, and it will take a much smarter person than me to sift that for truthfulness, but there it is.

Bottom Line: If you like or prefer an AK for whatever reason, and spend the money and time to both invest in a good one and train with it like you mean it, it will serve you well, and is able to accomplish well most things you could ask of any general purpose intermediate caliber rifle.

Conclusion

The AK family of rifles is the world’s most ubiquitous and plentiful rifle, bar none. From the mind of a wounded tanker, the AK-47 spawned innumerable variations in the aftermath of World War II, and has been present in nearly every major conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries. If you love the AK loathe it, you’d be best served to know how to make the world’s most popular rifle work for you.

What’s your opinion of the AK? Do you prefer yours in 5.45mm or 7.62? Let us know down in the comments section!

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by Contributing Author

If you are a prepper, chances are you have made firearms a part of your plans. Maybe you are new to the gun, having decided to start prepping recently, or maybe you are a homesteader from way back, and been around guns your whole life. Either way, guns are a tremendously powerful tool, and an asset like no other when the time comes to save your own, or someone else’s, life from a bad guy hell-bent on doing you harm.

Seasoned gunslinger or brand-new greenhorn, you have areas you might improve on, facets of your shooting game that need a little tuning up. Your practice opportunities are limited: chances are you have neither time nor money enough to shoot all day, every day honing your skills. Therefore it makes sense to apply your efforts and money in a way that will let you see the most success in the shortest possible timeframe. Some of these things will be equipment choices, and others will be best practices for your time on the range.

Make no mistake, you’ll still need to put in plenty of sweat equity, dry-practice and blisters, but if you follow the advice and tips I lay out in this article you’ll be set up for success, instead of frustration and shorten that learning curve so it looks more like a bump, not a cliff. That’s enough preamble; let’s get to the good part!

What’s Your Objective?

Before you head off anywhere, you have a destination in mind. You don’t set off without a destination unless you are wandering, and if you are knowingly planning to wander along your training path this isn’t the article for you. Without a destination you don’t know where you are going, and worse, you don’t know how you’ll get there, or even tell if you have arrived.

“What do I need to accomplish?” is the question you should ask yourself. This is your mission, and the mission dictates the preparations. If you are the average, everyday citizen prepper, your mission is the protection of yourself, your family and loved ones.

“Protection” is subjective. Protection from what? Famine, economic collapse or a pair of scumbags in the living room at 2AM all require different proscriptions. This article is obviously about firearms and their use, so we are going to guide you to deal with the latter, today.

Preparing for human threats means you will likely be using a firearm in defense of yourself or others. This means it will be a fight, and preparing for a fight with a gun is a whole different ballgame than standing on the range plinking.

So let’s refine our objective. “I must protect myself and my loved ones from violence. To do that, I must be able to fight and prevail.” Better. Now, what tools would best help you accomplish that? Your body, certainly, the first tool. A gun, also. What kind of gun? Whether you use a handgun, long gun or both, will depend on your unique circumstances. We’ll get to that shortly.

It is not enough to merely have a gun without the skills to employ it effectively. Without skills it is no more than a loud, violent talisman, a good-luck charm.  Luck is a fickle patron, and not one you must trust to.

Now our objective looks something more like, “I will protect myself and my loved ones from violence. To do that, I will use my gun to fight and prevail over those who would harm my family and me. I must be able to shoot fast and accurately to stop the people who are trying to kill me.” Now that’s a mission statement!

Training for a Fight

If you practice regularly on the range, that’s great. Sharpening core skills, especially accuracy is crucial. But, if all you do is shoot bulls-eyes on the square range, you aren’t gaining skills that you must have when the chips are down. Don’t misunderstand, you’ll need accuracy and plenty of it, but you’ll also need speed. You’ll need to be able to react, draw and fire decisively after confirming the threat. You may need to shoot from a compromised position, inside a vehicle or while moving.

Now, you may not be able to work on most of those skills at your local range, but there is plenty you can do “dry,” without ammo to perfect your techniques. And before you start practicing anything, it would behoove you to know what you are doing. If you have no prior formal training, or pertinent military or law-enforcement background, you probably don’t. That’s ok! Everyone started somewhere.

Before you start practicing techniques you picked up from YouTube or the latest, greatest how-to article on guns and gunfighting (ahem), you should drop everything and attend formal training classes, and do so in a progression that fits not only your current skill level, but also moves you toward fulfilling your mission statement. So, if you are a city or suburban dweller, no matter how cool it is you will not be best serving your family by springing for that long-range precision rifle class instead of concealed handgun skills or close-quarters rifle or shotgun. Be honest and realistic with yourself about your needs and requirements.

And don’t assume that any trainer is as good as another just because he has his shingle out. There are trainers who are transcendent in their discipline of choice, and only middling to fair in others. An honest one will tell you where his stronger and weaker skillsets, and hopefully direct you accordingly depending on the training you seek. We’ll touch more on this a little later in the article.

Ok, so we know what our objective is, and we know that we must be able to fight well to achieve it when the fated hour arrives. The next question is, where should we start? Well, Rule #1 of a gunfight is “Have a gun,” so we’ll start there.

Tools of the Trade

Handguns, rifles and shotguns all have their place in the prepper’s armory. Everyone has a favorite type, one that they naturally gravitate to and pull out to get in some practice on a range day. We’ll break down the perks and flaws of each below, but I’ll tell you right up front if you are a civilian prepper, and by that I mean you don’t carry a long gun for a living, you should be putting in the majority of your training time and dollars on handgun skills.

The handgun is the only firearm you’ll take with you everywhere, and actually have close at hand out in the world, unless you are one of these fruit bats that tries to make a point by open carrying their AR or AK into a Starbucks or the mall. First, don’t be one of those people.

Second, if you have some idea that, besides travelling out of state on a trip or vacation, you’ll keep a rifle in your vehicle and then somehow retrieve it to have a better gun to fight with, you are so wrong on so many levels it nearly defies description. I’ll bitterly address that can of worms a little later also.

Now, you will have handy access to your long guns at home, and you had better believe they will typically do a far better job of incapacitating a scumbag than your handgun will, and so you should be training with your rifle or shotgun, just not at the expense of getting rusty with your handgun. Your handgun is your constant companion. Like a faithful dog, it should go wherever you go. That’s the reason we’ll devote more of our training time to it.

Maybe you already have guns, maybe not. Below, I’ll list some of the factors you should consider in selecting a given type of gun, their perks and flaws, and tips and tricks I have picked up along the way with each. If you are looking to buy gun in order to equip yourself, they will serve as guidelines to help you buy intelligently. If you already have a few guns or a collection, then the following may help you make a decision as whether or not to trade-in for better one, or just train-up to the gun, ensuring you can get maximum effectiveness out of it.

Keep in mind while you read the following: all of my advice is based on the assumption that the arms in question will be used for self-defense against humans, not for hunting, or even defense against large animals. So, no kidding, a 9mm is not your first choice against grizzly bears or greater American saber-toothed weasels. Use common sense.  I will make a few off-the-cuff statements about those considerations where appropriate, but that is not the primary focus of this article.

Guns, Guns, Guns

As you scroll through my points below, remember that the two major criteria for selecting a gun for defense are mechanical reliability and an adequate caliber, i.e. is the cartridge effective against humans under most circumstances, with or without a light barrier between me and him? There are a great many handguns that could fit this description, revolvers and autoloaders alike. If you can check those two boxes, though, and learn to shoot the gun fast and accurately, it can take care of you by taking care of business.

After those two criteria are met, everything else is a bonus, or an advantage. Please note here, I am not advocating for anachronisms: I am a wholehearted believer in autoloading pistols, rifles and shotguns, over revolvers, lever- and bolt-actions, or pump-actions. Technology marches on, and while I am as interested and sentimental over those designs from yesteryear as anyone, you should not choose one over a modern design if you have a choice.

Those older, manually operated actions can still serve just fine, though: if you have good lever action rifles, and the ability to train and practice with them, is there any reason seven or eight shots of .30-30 or similar won’t suffice? Or a 7-shot .357 Magnum revolver? Should you go trade in both and spend to get an AR and a Glock?

Not necessarily. I won’t lie to you and say that the AR and Glock don’t come with significantly more advantages than the lever-action and the wheelgun, because they do. They are far easier to shoot well, quickly, and have a great deal more ammo on board, on top of being easier and faster to reload. This may not make any difference at all in the short, sharp fight in your house at midnight, but it might in a prolonged situation involving bands of bad guys during some societal catastrophe or After-the-End scenario.

All I am saying is if you put in the time to become proficient with your gun, it will likely work fine. Hitting what you shoot at and doing that quickly is the key absolute. Any gun beats no gun, and any gun will do if you can do. Remember that.

Whatever gun you choose, you’ll want to make sure the gun is popular or common enough that you’ll have plenty of aftermarket support available for it: magazines, speedloaders, holsters, spare parts, accessories and service. If you are forced to turn to cheap, one-size-fits-all holsters or expensive custom options for parts, that will gobble up money that could better be spent on practice and training. Likewise, having a broad institutional body of knowledge to draw from, be it from the factory or from gunsmiths is crucial if you need replacement parts or repair.

A rare, oddball gun may promise a greater degree of effectiveness (or just stroke your ego) but I can assure you any luster it may have will vanish when you are having to hunt down magazines at $75 a pop on the secondary market and call every shop in town to try and get a broken part replaced.

Pistols

For a handgun, your base choice will come down to a double-action revolver or an autoloading pistol (semi-automatic). The revolver is a much less popular choice than the autoloader these days, but is still viable. Autoloaders are the primary service pistols of military and police forces as well as the overwhelmingly popular choice among the citizenry for defense. The revolver is still found commonly in a backup-gun (BUG) role or in the holsters of diehard adherents.

The revolver has the advantages of a simpler manual of arms, less sensitivity to ammunition, and less sensitivity to neglect. The autoloaders perks are greater capacity, ease of reloading, typically a nicer, easier to manage trigger and overall greater durability than the revolver. The autoloader is also in most situations easier to conceal, apples-to-apples, lacking the revolver’s chunky cylinder.

If you are considering an autoloader, viable choices for cartridge for a primary gun are 9mm Para. and .40 S&W on the lighter side, or 10mm Auto and .45 ACP on the heavy side. Today, the 9mm has the most advantages owing to solid terminal performance, low recoil, high capacity and low cost. The 10mm and .45 ACP have more of what you don’t want and less of what you do, especially cost. They do however penetrate more deeply, as a rule of thumb, and show good performance through intermediate barriers like automotive glass, and so may have merit if you anticipate working around vehicles often.

The larger cartridges also make more sense if you live in a non-permissive state and do not have easy or legal access to magazines that hold more than 7 or 10 rounds, or are living and operating in an area where you have a legitimate concern about large or dangerous animals. In that case, depending on the critter, a magnum revolver could be a better choice.

Speaking of revolvers, your go-to cartridge options are .38 Special and .357 Magnum (which of course can chamber the .38 Spl). 9mm Para. is curiously becoming more common today in modern revolvers, and as is 10mm Auto. Note both will require typically require the use of moon clips thanks to those cartridges rimless design. Larger options for revolvers adequate for self-defense include the .41 Magnum, .44 Special and lighter .45 Colt loads, the big issues here for all being cost and for the first two availability as those cartridges are far from popular.

The .44 Magnum and other big-bore magnums, while certainly effective, have far too much penetration, recoil and blast for the average user to employ effectively without a ton of practice, and sometimes not even then; hard-kicking, thunderous magnums are notorious for instilling a bad flinch in shooters, and not everyone can overcome that kind of pounding to master such a handgun.

Some handguns with proven track records that you might consider:

Autoloaders

  • Glock Models 17,19, 22,23, 21 or 30; Generation 3, 4 or 5
  • Smith & Wesson M&P9, M&P40 or M&P45
  • Z. SP01, P07 and P10
  • Sig P226, P228, P229, SP2022 or P320
  • Heckler & Koch USP series, VP9, P30 or HK45
  • Beretta Mod. 92/M9 series, PX4 series, or APX.
  • N. Model 509, FNX series, or FNP series.

Revolvers

  • Smith and Wesson J, K or L frame series
  • Ruger Security Six, GP100 and SP101
Rifles

You have more choices in actions for a defensive rifle: Semi-automatic, lever action, and bolt action are all popular, and you will occasionally see pump-action designs. Ideally, you will want a semi-automatic, one that accepts a detachable magazine, but pump and lever actions are quick enough, and are acceptable here if chambered in a modest cartridge. Bolt actions are best relegated to hunting or precision rifle roles.

Your go to rounds for defensive rifle, especially for in-home defense are the in the “intermediate cartridge” class: light, fast bullets, and mild recoil, along with modest penetration compared to the older full-power .30 caliber battle rifle and hunting cartridges from yesteryear. Trusty standbys are .223 Remington, 5.56x45mm or 5.45x39mm.

Your lighter .30 caliber rounds like .300 Blackout, .30-30 Winchester and 7.62x39mm can serve well in a home defense role with careful bullet selection, as can to a much lesser extent .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO. Beware that that cartridge has a well deserved reputation for serious penetration, and the increased weight and length of rifles chambered in it will become a hindrance. Pay particular attention to load selection as you should be rightly concerned about over-penetration and downrange hazards using such a gun in the home.

If you are leaning toward a rifle that chambers a pistol cartridge stop and give that some thought. The whole reason you are reaching for a rifle is to get rifle performance. You don’t want a big pistol, you want a rifle! And before anyone says anything about the dinky pistol bullet picking up some extra velocity out of a long barrel, save it: It isn’t enough to turn it into anything except a slightly faster pistol bullet. The only other perk, having interchangeable ammo and possibly magazines with your pistol is a fringe benefit. Pick a proper rifle!

Select a model with care, as the ability to mount an optic and light on a defensive rifle is very important. Some rifles that you should consider for self defense include:

  • Colt, BCM and Sons of Liberty Gunworks AR-15’s.
  • Arsenal and Rifle Dynamics AKM’s and AK-74’s
  • Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30
  • Winchester and Marlin lever action rifles
  • M1 Carbine
Shotguns

For serious social purposes, your only real choices will be semi-auto or pump action. If a break action is all you have, by all means giddyup, but the low capacity and cumbersome reload will be a significant liability. Cartridge selection is 12 or 20 gauge, either will work just fine for two-legged vermin, and pack enough shot at adequate velocities to work well. 10ga. is too much and too expensive, guns chambering it are heavy, comparatively rare and expensive. 16ga. is certainly adequate, but is hampered by poor availability and limited variety of factory loads. Discount entirely 28ga and .410 bore.

A quality semi-auto is a fine choice, but they are typically expensive, and may require tuning in addition to being ammo sensitive. The payoff is that their manual of arms is more forgiving than a pump action, they are fast cycling and they have less felt recoil than most pumps. Being able to place 3 loads of buckshot accurately into a scumbag’s thoracic cavity in less than a second is heavy medicine indeed. If you were using No.1 buckshot, that would be around 45 .30 caliber, deeply penetrating wounds. That’s a lot of trauma to deal with.

The pump shotgun is America’s favorite, and one of the most plentiful types of guns of all. A pump action shotgun is a good all purpose gun if one is willing to put in the  work to be proficient with it; they are typically not ammo sensitive, robust, simple and inexpensive. However, manual operation of the slide is tiring and prone to being mishandled by the shooter, inducing a malfunction.

Another advantage that shotguns bring to the table is ammo versatility: by merely changing ammo types, you can be ready to engage targets at close range with dreadful effectiveness using buckshot, or reach out with some accuracy past a 100 yards and terrific penetration with a slug. The obvious double-duty application of shotguns for hunting mammals or birds is obvious, and so are very attractive options for a prepper on a budget trying to cover many bases at once.

Drawbacks of all shotguns include low to average capacity, excepting very long competition guns or specialized box-magazine fed variations and having a more diverse set of mandatory skills that must be practiced to attain proficiency: loading, patterning, running the slide on a pump-action, slug-exchange drills, and so on. Autoloading and pump action shotguns are as a rule pretty heavy, especially when loaded.  Shotshells are also heavy and bulky, and takes up a lot of room both on your person and in storage.

Like rifles above, consider a light mandatory for a defensive shotgun, and consider a red dot sight as well; shotguns do have an increased hit probability compared to other guns, especially at medium range with shot, but they must absolutely still be aimed carefully at close ranges. There will be nothing like the cloud of lead flying out of the barrel as is commonly thought.

A few worthwhile shotgun models are:

  • Remington Models 870, 1100, 11-87 and Versa Max.
  • Mossberg Models 500, 590, 590A1 and 930
  • Winchester Model 1300 Defender
  • Benelli Models M1, M2, M4, Nova and Supernova
  • Beretta Model 1301
  • N. P12, TPS and SLP
Training: Your Ticket to Competency

Getting professional training is commonly neglected by most gun owners, and quite a few preppers. It is much more rewarding to go buy a new gun, deck it out in all the latest accessories, then head to the range to blast off half a case of ammo with your buddies. Listen, don’t threaten me with a good time, but that does not accomplish much in the way of growth. You have a mission, remember?

Instead, strong-arm your buddy into taking a class with you. This will be enjoyable for the both of you, and increase the training value; your friend will take away different points than you will and vice versa. Comparing notes after your training day is a great idea, too. You just paid a pretty penny to attend a decent class, don’t trust to memory to remember everything! Paper remembers what the mind forgets!

If you are a novice, or don’t already have your license/permit to carry concealed, make your first stop a basic pistol class that will certify you in order to obtain the license. If you already have it, or are a little more seasoned, you should look into a more advanced pistol skills class, preferably one with a focus on drawing and engaging targets from concealment. You will be carrying concealed, right? Everywhere you go, right?

Likewise, your long gun training should focus on closer ranges, including inside-the-home/close-quarters distances. You do want to be competent all the out to 300 yards or so with a rifle, but even in a true End-of-Global-Society level event, the chances that’ll you be slugging it out at 100 yards and closer is far higher than long or extreme range sniping.

Before signing up for a trainer’s class or attending a particular school, do your due diligence and investigate them. Look up reviews online and ask for references to prior students and alumni. See what the trainer is known for and what their professional background and continuing education looks like. Good training is expensive, a too-cheap price or complete lack of presence online or across gun-centric forums may be a warning sign.

Conversely, military or police experience is not the end-all, be-all word in the training world. Just because someone has done a job, even very well, for years does not mean they have the skills or attitudes to make a good teacher. This is where those references and online reviews will pay off. Ask about the person’s skill level when they attended the class. Was their skill level similar to your own? What did they take away from the class? Are they planning to take anymore training from that trainer? If not, then why? It’s your dollar; investigate who you’ll be learning from!

Practice: Putting in the Work

After you have taken training and now know why you will do things a certain way as well as how, you can take that education and go practice your newfound skills on your own. When you go to the range, treat it like going to the gym; go with a goal in mind, and track your progress. Use a shot timer, or timer app on your smartphone.

Maybe you will be working speed today, or perhaps accuracy. Will you be working on your handgun, rifle or shotgun skills? Maybe transitioning from long gun to handgun? Whatever skill you have decided to work, have a standard you are struggling to reach. When you start meeting that standard consistently, increase the difficulty. Push yourself!

When you go to practice, be present mentally. Shooting is largely a mental game, and this is a big part of it. Visualize positive outcomes. Mentally assemble the fundamentals necessary for a perfect shot: grip, stance, sight package, perfect trigger press and follow-through. If you can’t flush a bad day at the office or fight with your significant other from your brain to get in a little range time, consider what the stresses of a potentially lethal encounter will be like.

Whatever the results of your practice session, record the results in a training journal. Keep detailed notes on the distance, target, drill and gun and load used. Make notes of your thoughts and overall experience. Every so often, run benchmark drills, ones..

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