A Smart Preppers Guide to Firearms

A Smart Preppers Guide to Firearms

A Smart Preppers Guide to FirearmsAside from the crisis itself, the biggest threat to you and your family during any disaster is other humans. Friends, neighbors and strangers may be displaced from their homes and desperate for supplies to feed their own families. You simply cannot predict how people will react to a catastrophe because stress affects everyone differently. Some may turn to violence in the name of providing for their families.

The Basics

Virtually anything can be called a weapon and you can in turn use anything to defend yourself. However, when it comes to home defense you also need a deterrent. Intruders will not be impressed by you holding a lamp, but will hesitate and possibly flee if they realize you have a firearm. Just the fact that you have one can deter crime just like video surveillance cameras and even beware of dog signs can. 

Why Preppers Need Guns

People during a crisis will want, and need what you have. Without your supplies, you and your family’s chance of survival is dramatically reduced. You simply must have the means to protect your possessions and your family. Law enforcement will be stretched thin if available at all, so your own defense and that of your family’s is on you.

Keep in mind when deciding on a firearm that it is for home defense. The area of operations (combat) will be in a confined space just feet apart in some cases. The so-called assault weapons are considered by some to be a home defense weapon. You must consider a few things first before purchasing this type of weapon for home defense. In most states, self-defense laws require that you be in immediate danger, and that you do not have any recourse but to use a firearm to save your life. If you have a high powered/long range weapon and are firing at someone fleeing, at let us say 50 yards or more, it may be difficult to prove it was self-defense, so just a few things to keep in mind. Rounds from high-powered rifles can travel great distances and still injure or kill an individual.

Additionally you have to consider round penetration. You are firing in a confined space so you cannot have rounds that penetrate walls and doors, because of possibly injury to family members and even neighbors. Therefore, you have to choose carefully, your firearms as well as your ammunition.

You are responsible for every round fired whether it hits the intended target or not. Even if the crisis has overwhelmed the nation, you will still be called to account for your actions in most cases.

Those that think they need enough firepower to repel an invading army, or their own government are not thinking through the situation.

It does not matter what you have for firepower you will be one person or a small group and you cannot defend your home against an army. At this point, it is escape and evasion time and all the firepower and rounds stockpiled will be lost. Keep things in perspective.

Home Defense Firearms

A 12-guage pump action shotgun with a smooth bore and an 18.5-20 inch barrel is one of the best all around weapons for home defense. There are semi-automatics available but the cycling of shells relies on the energy created from the shell’s propellant. This means low recoil rounds, and light charges that some may use would not produce enough energy to eject and then chamber a round. The weapons are prone to “short strokes” because of this and can jam from dirt and other debris as well. Pump actions rely on you to cycle the rounds and you can work the action to clear a jam caused by a short stroke or debris. You can load whatever ammunition you want such as low recoil rounds and lighter charges.

Remington 870

Remington 870

Smooth bore shotguns allow you to fire any type of shell to include shells for rifled barrels. Whereas, if you fire steel or titanium shot through a rifled shotgun barrel you will wear the rifling off, and slugs not made for rifled barrels will have reduced accuracy and range.

Prices ranges from $229 on up to just over $600 for a new quality pump action shotgun. Manufactures that offer these types of shotguns and prices include Mossberg, Remington and Savage Arms.

Savagearms 320

Savagearms 320

Savage Arms®320 Price $229-$239

Mossberg Tactical $439-$649

Remington 870 $399-$599


Mossberg Tactical

Mossberg Tactical

Slugs, buckshot and birdshot can all be used for home defense but slugs and buckshot have greater penetration and longer range. Birdshot at 30 feet is more than enough to bring any intruder down and you do not have the worry of collateral damage from the shot. Slugs and buckshot can easily penetrate walls and doors, which can of course cause injury to others in the home or even your neighbors.

However, you can alternate rounds in the magazine or do a combat reload. Slide the bolt back by pulling the forend back just enough to eject the shell but do not chamber one from the magazine but instead load a different shell by hand. With practice, you can do this changeover in a matter of seconds. Combat reloading also refers to firing your weapon empty then reloading. At one time, the military and

certain law enforcement agencies taught shooters to fire empty and then reload under cover. Today however, many instructors teach shooters to top off, meaning they fire one round and combat reload one round while maintaining their firing positions.

The combat stance for shotgun firing is the weak foot is forward, feet shoulder width apart, and the body is leaning forward. In this position, you can move and shoot, by swiveling the head and bringing the weapon to bear without shouldering it. You can shoot over the sights (point and shoot) from this position.

Accessories for Shotguns

There can be a case made for and against a sling for your shotgun. However, a sling allows you to shoulder the weapon if you have fired empty and reach for a handgun. The alternative is dropping the weapon. You should never give up your weapon, by dropping it, so a sling is recommended. Some shooters feel the sling is a hindrance in tight spaces and is prone to catching on protruding objects and can be a distraction to shooters as they shoulder the weapon. You can always remove the sling if you feel you do not need it but have one available so you can practice with and without one and make the right decision for your situation.

Flashlight mounted on the barrel is another recommended option. Most encounters in the home will be in low light conditions and you need to be able to see your target. Additionally, a light shined in an intruder’s face can distract them. You can purchase mounting brackets that will take various types of lights and they can be easily removed.

Stock or receiver mounted shell carriers are also a good option because in a combat situation you want your shells as close to your hands as possible for quicker reloading.


When people think if home defense they think of handguns. It is recommended that you have a pump action shotgun and a handgun for home defense. Most off the shelf shotguns have a 4+1 configuration meaning one round is chambered and four in the magazine. You have to assume you will miss your target with the first round and once fired empty you may need a backup firearm. Handguns are also ideal for individuals that cannot tolerate the recoil of a shotgun. Ideally, one member of the family will have the shotgun and one will have the handgun.

Revolver or semi-automatic pistol, the decision is based on personal preferences for the most part. Revolvers have less moving parts but the trigger pull on a double action requires more pressure. To load a revolver you release the cylinder and either tap the shell ejector or tip the weapon to eject. There are more steps to reloading a revolver, but you can purchase speed loaders that do require hours of practice to master however. A speed loader is a cylinder preloaded that slips all of the rounds into the handgun’s cylinder at once.

A semi-automatic pistol is loaded by inserting a fresh clip and firing can continue. One trigger pull is one round down range. A single action revolver requires that you pull the hammer back before pulling the trigger whereas a double action you simply pull the trigger and the hammer comes back.

Handgun prices for new models semi-automatics can range from $399 up to well over a $1,000.00. A 9mm semi-automatic is a good choice for home defense. The weapon is lightweight has adequate knock down power and people with smaller hands can fire it quite easily. A .38 special revolver new will cost right around $500 and is an excellent handgun for home defense. It comes down to personal preferences in most cases but a 9mm and a .38 special are some of the most popular and anyone should consider either one of these handguns.

Gun Safety

If the weapon is not in your hands, it needs to be locked in a secure lockbox or safe. Keep the weapon unloaded when locked up and the ammunition should not be stored with the firearm. Tossing a firearm on a high shelf in the closet is not a secure location. Put it in a lockbox or safe when not in use. Talk to your children about firearms and make sure they understand if they ever see a firearm, they are not to touch it, are to leave the area immediately and find an adult. This goes for when they are in someone else’s home as well.


You will only rise to the level you have been trained at, so you need to practice. Simply put you cannot train too much but practically speaking you need to fire your weapon at least once a month at a well run gun range. The range provides structure and gets you accustomed to handling a weapon safely because otherwise you will be banned from the range. Follow the range managers instructions carefully and over time handling a weapon safely will become a habit.

Learn how to clean your firearm and this does not mean wiping it down with an oily cloth occasionally. Know your weapon and know how it works, look the parts over carefully as you clean your firearm. Clean after every firing, and then store properly. Do it the right way every time so there is never any question about safety. Once it becomes a habit, you will not lay awake at night wondering about whether you did something or not, trained individuals know they did it right.


You have the right to defend your home and family. Things get murky outside the home however. Shooting at a fleeing intruder is not typically considered self-defense so in most situations you have to be defensive.

Make sure you know it is in intruder, and not a family member. Decisions need to be made in seconds. Use the mounted flashlight to light up the target area, and demand whoever is there to get on the floor with their hands out. Giving a warning does make you a target so move your position as you speak so if they fire at the sound of your voice you will not be there. Make sure you are in the combat position so you can absorb the recoil and move while still being able to fire. Always step to the sides and not move forward unless the intruder is down and you still must maintain your firing position.

If they have a weapon and are in your home, you have every right to do what is necessary to neutralize the threat to you and your family.

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Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Firearms, Home Defense 18 Comments