Advice Needed: Buying a personal defense/SHTF rifle

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by prepareordie, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. prepareordie

    prepareordie Monkey+++

    All - I am using my tax refunds to purchase a rifle in the next week or two. I will have about $1,600 to spend. I want a good personal defense/SHTF rifle. I am looking at AR-15s since I already own a Kel-Tec plinker in .223 and want to keep my ammo storage simple. Or maybe I should consider something else?

    While I have shot ARs and M-16s in the past I have never owned one. Spent Saturday at my local gun shops looking them over. Bushmaster, Armalite, DPMS, Olympic, and S&W MP seem to be the only ones they carry around here but can order anything. Prices ranged from $850 to $1200 for the S&W.

    I am reading through the threads at to try and learn as much as I can about the AR15s but thought I would throw this out on this forum and seek your help also.

    Which brands have a good rep and which ones should I stay away from?

    Besides a chrome barrel what other items are a must have.

    There are so many configurations for these rifles now, which should I buy and why?

    What length of barrel?

    Regards, Prepareordie
  2. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I have a few..

    I'd suggest a Bushmaster.
    Get the typical model that's for sale these days.
    Collapsible Stock, Carry Handle, FH etc.

    16" bbl

    Buy 20 good USGI mags and a couple cases of Federal
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Check out Fulton Armory. For the purposes you describe, consider carbine length and flat top. Sights will take a bit more of an idea in the way of what you want, but you should not go too far wrong with an Eotech 522 after you save up a few more bux. In the meantime, go with the standard peep/post setup to get familiar with the manual of arms. I am running irons until I find out how bad the audit is going to hurt me, then we shall see. If plinking is more your style, consider a fixed low power scope, You aren't going to reach out and touch something at 500 yards with an AR unless you are an extraordinarily good or lucky shot. [peep]

    I have a Fulton with a collapsable stock Fits neatly behind the seat of the pickup. No failures since the first hundred rounds of breaking it in. Those guys are a joy to deal with, every thing is exactly as advertised. [applaud]

    DO NOT FAIL to get a front sight adjustment tool. It'll drive you nuts until you have one. In fact, get two. The pins bend rather easily, if you get my drift --- :oops:
  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    [ditto] If it must be a AR that is what i would go for except I would get a flat top.
    if you were wanting to stay with 223.
  5. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    For my next AR I am thinking about ordering a upper and lower from Rguns. You could have a FFL order the lower, I can have it ordered by an FFL for about $25 , then put the lower and upper and before shipping the complete AR (DPMS) would cost me $625. They have also have complete rifles for $675. I like the DPMS, I have one now that I really like. With $1600 to spend you could buy two, and still have money left to buy a lot of ammo, or ammo and optics. Good luck. - this lower w/4 pos. coll. stock is $199.00

    Complete rifle
  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Me thinks you mean "lower" E.L......
    Uppers are not Serial #'d and do not need the FFL
    Just the lower
  7. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Corrected, I wasn't thinking when typing. I meant your FFL can order the lower for you. ;)
  8. poacher

    poacher Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Bushmasters are good solid rifles, and you would be well heeled with one. I would personally stay away from the chrome lined bbl's but they do have their place. Iron sights are fine a scope is always better but you need to determine what distances you plan on using this for.
    If you already have a scoped rifle and don't plan to use the bushy for 300-400 yrd shots then go with irons. A scope is about the weakest link of a rifle. If you hit it too hard you can crack the lens, knock the scope out of alignment or any number of things. Iron sights tend to be a tad harder to damage; not saying it can't be done just that it's harder.

    The ammo thing is a tad bit easier to go with. Buy your Federal or Winnie white box. Then go and buy some reloading equipment. RCBS dies will cost about 50 bucks, an 8 pound keg of BLC-2 (which is called ball 2 since it's the old military powder) is $111.00. Primers are 15.50 per 1K. 55grn fmj is 40.00 per 1K.

    If I remember correctly it's 6440 grains per 1lb of powder. I put 27 grns in my 223 ammo so for the 8 pounds of powder you should get about 1900 rounds. So for 216.50 you get 1900 rounds which comes out to .11 cents a round. You will have a higher cost since you will have to pick up the reloading equipment but once you have it all you have to do is buy different dies and you can roll your own ammo.

    If you have any questions feel free to jump over to Handloaders and ask. We're happy to have you folks and love questions.

    Take care Be safe Poacher.
  9. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Great post !
  10. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    It is a bit out side of the peramiters you mentioned but here's my 2 cents on the idea.

    Since you already have 1 rifle in .223 I would sugest going with an AK in 7.62x39. It dose make it so that you have to stock/store more than one type of ammo but it also gives you more options. If you have more than one cal in your party then you become more flexible as far as ability to replenish ammo supplies. In normal times or post SHTF either one if one cal dries up and that happens to be the only cal you have then you are SOL but if you have more than one cal of firearms you have more chances at haveing something to shoot whatever is available.

    Basicly just a matter of not keeping all your eggs in one basket. I know there is also the up side to all ammo matching in that you can pass it off to others with you but IMHO the ability to be able to fire more different cals that you may be able to come up with is of greater value.

    Other than that, if you are going to stay with the same cal then I would go with the same rifle as well so that if one is damaged or destroyed it can still be spare parts for the other.
  11. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. I would advise an AK and a 1911, like the SA loaded or Kimber Custom, but any good handgun would suffice. There are times when it might not be prudent or even possible to carry a rifle.
  12. prepareordie

    prepareordie Monkey+++

    Thanks for the advise: I want to open this up a little more

    Thanks for all the great posts and the suggestions. The problem is I ike all your ideas. You really have me thinking outside the box now. Let me open this discussion up somewhat.

    Here is what I have now for home defense/SHTF: Its just my wife and I.

    1 - 18" 12ga pump (case of buckshot, 2 boxes of slugs)
    1 - semi-auto .22 (1000 rounds hollow points)
    1 - Keltec SU16B in .223 (1000 rounds of .55 gn FMJ/5 mags)
    2 - 20 ga shotguns (1 dbl and 1 single) (2 boxes buckshot)
    4 - Revolvers (1- .38 snub and 3- .357s) (500 rounds of .38, 500 rounds of .357)

    But based on your posts maybe I need to rethink the AR.

    So given the $1600 I have to spend. What am I missing with what I already have?

    What would you recommend and why?
  13. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I think you are well set with scatterguns and handguns. Since you already have a 5.56 I would think it would be good to have another. Either buy another Keltec or an AR. I would recommend finding a friend(s) that has an AK, SKS and an AR, then take them out and shoot them, and as important have your wife shoot them. If she really likes the AR, then buy one. If you are happier with the Keltec then stay with it. If she is happy with the AK ($300)or even a SKS ($150), then you can really maximize the money. Find what you really like to shoot, and then work on getting one for each of you, and plenty of mags and ammo. Then later, you can work on getting backups and then backups for your backups. Don't forget to include the ammo and mags in your budget. Let us know what you decide.
  14. Northwoods

    Northwoods Monkey+++

    i understand keeping in the same's cheaper that way and that is what we did.
    i think you should consider an FAL...
    308 is great round and not much hides from it.
  15. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I collect firearms because I like them.
    That means I have about 30 different calibers.
    I do have at least 300 rounds for each.


    For Survival situations and longterm planning of these guns as tools, I hold myself to these calibers:

    And in a pinch, based on MY terrain, I could shorten that to 22, 45, and 223

    I love my AKs and my 50s too. But for a survival 'golf bag', I don't count them. But that is my sit and area.
  16. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member


    I don't have a SKS anymore but do have the others. This could be arranged, if you aren't too far away.

    [ditto] Everybody needs a battle rifle. I have yet to decide if I going to get a HK 91 clone or a FAL first but there both on the list.
  17. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Ok, given what you already have and that you have a current budget of around $1600, if it was me my shoping list would be something like this, with estimated costs.

    AK in 7.62x39 $400
    10/30 round mags $100
    1 stripper clip adaptor for mags $5
    100 stripper clips $20
    folding stock $50
    2k rounds ammo $300
    Total $875

    With 10 30 round mags you have some spares and should never see a time you need to reload in a hurry with 300 rounds loaded up as well as ability to canabalize spare parts from them. With the adapter that fits over the mag and holds the stripper clip to feed it into the mag you drop in 3 stripper clips and can reload a 30 round mag in a under 5 seconds easily so another 1k of ammo is ready to mag up quick and easy. With the folding stock the rifle can be easily stowed in a wider variety of ways and places includeing carried under a coat or in a pack if discression is in order. This also gives you enouph to shoot off 700 rounds or so of ammo and still have enouph to load all the mags and stripper clips and gives you a second option on common ammo that you could shoot. Another perk to the 7.62x39 ammo is that rumor has it that NATO recently made it a secondary round and nearly all non NATO militaries still use it as their standard ammo so it is about as likely as the .223 to be available.

    Next on the list,
    .30-06 or .308 of choice with reasonable optics $300 to whatever
    250-500 rounds ammo $100 on up
    Total figure on at least $500

    This would round out your long arms to have the tool for the job if you need to reach out to longer range either for meat or for tactical reasons. Battle rifles are great for what they are but as far as trying to be reliably accurate (as in being sure your dinner in the heart not the guts or dont miss the one shot you have for some other reason) much past 200-250 yards they arent going to be ideal for it where .30-06 (at least in areas I have been) is about the most common large hunting cal around so should be available if anything is, turns lots of cover into concealment and can reach out 500+ yards with high accuracey if the shooter dose his part.

    Then as the budget allowed I would add a RELIABLE 9mm or .45 acp with 5-10 spare mags. A lot of folks will talk about how your rifle would be your primairy weapon for fighting and defence and such and if we are talking about a soldier they are right, if we are talking about a person who is defending themselves when needed and just trying to get by its way off. There is no way you can carry out the daily tasks you would have to do while carrying a rifle so unless you are in a group and are a full time soldier for the group the gun you will most likely have on you and have to be your first resort is a handgun and you are not likely to have a firefight last long enouph to get to a rifle and switch to it and go on before either you have elimenated the threat or been killed. So a good sidearm is a must and while I prefer a revolver most of the time semi autos are quicker to reload and have higher capacity each time loaded so in a post SHTF situation this may well outweight their draw backs of more malfunctions than revolvers if you get a good semi.

    Whith these 3 additions and what you already listed that you had, then if it was a pack out situation one of you could be carrying the pump for close work loaded with fruit salad (alternating heavy birdshot, buck shot and slugs) with the bird shot first so that if small game jumps you can have meat and with the second and third shots anything else within 100 yards could be taken down by the slug, and have the battle riffle slung across the back or acessable on or in the pack. The other could be carrying a battle rifle and have the long range gun slung on the back or on the pack in case of an oprotunity to say get a deer 300 yards or so off or if other needs for long range shots arose.

    This would be worst case by far since you would hopefuly be able to bug in or at the least BO by a vehicle and the .22 would be very valuable for game and also IMHO for cover fire, granted a .22 is not particularly effective against humans BUT how many folks are going to pop their heads up and invite you to shoot them just because its only a .22, and you can stock up 4-5k of .22 lr ammo for about $100 and carry it all pretty easy. At present I have about 10k of .22 ammo and want ot at least double that. One othe note on the .22 though is to get at least 1k of NON HOLLOW POINT ammo for it. Hollow points are generaly cheaper and work great for small game but a .22 with non hollow point ammo properly placed at close range will drop anything you shoot with it. I worked in a butcher shop and thats what we used to routinely kill cattle us large as 2000+ pounds with 1 shot to the head but hollow points would flatten and bounce off the skull half the time. So haveing the round nose ammo for it could save some of your large cal ammo from hunting use or from putting down any live stock you might have and as a bonus is a lot quieter than the other guns.

    Well, sorry for the overly long post but thats my thoughts on whats and whys to round out the gun rack given the budget and would pretty well be my advice regardless of budget. [beer] [gone]
  18. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

  19. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Yea a AK or a FAL wont fail you, I have a fal that runs like a timex.
  20. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

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