survival handguns thread..

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Tango3, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    "survival" gun discussions abound across the net seems like a new national hobby: heres an interesting one i ran into wandering tonight:

    For Backwoods Survival in the Lower 48 Concentrate on the 10 Essentials Instead of Guns

    So every so often someone pops up on The High Road asking about survival guns. Here's a recent thread:
    OK guys, on a remote backpacking trip in the mountains what is your sidearm of choice? I personally have no sidearm for backpacking and I want one. My Walther P22 or maybe my Sig 229 (in .40 or .357) are the only packable pistols I have. I have considered taking a custom lightweight Ruger 10/22, but I would still have bear issues. Anyhow I'll stick to pistols.​
    And here's a comment that is typical of the mistaken mindset of people considering the question:
    For hypothetical purpose lets say its a 4 day hike in 60 miles from your car. Two week trip total. And you went solo.​
    Here's a fact worth remembering: in the lower 48 states the most remote spot is only about 20 miles from the nearest road. That's west of the Mississippi. East of the Mississippi the most remote spot is in Florida's mangrove swamps 17 miles from a road. Most places are much closer to a road than that. Granted, those are as-the-crow-flies-distances, but being 60 miles from a road is pretty darned unrealistic.
    It doesn't take more than a day or two to walk out of most wooded areas in the lower 48 if you have a map and compass, so you don't need a two week supply of ammo. Excepting bears and mountain lions, your main use for a gun would be defense against human predators, not hunting. Time spent stalking, killing, gutting, and cooking an animal is time that's better spent beating feet out of the lonesome pines. However, one good use of a gun, particularly if you're injured, is as a noisemaker to attract rescuers (using three spaced shots as a distress call), so some extra ammunition is a good idea if you're carrying anyway.
    In the last twenty years I've backpacked a fair bit - including in the snow and solo - and worked as a field biologist in the Sonoran desert and the Smoky Mountains, and read a fair bit and followed news of lost hikers. Bears and snakes are what people worry about, but in reality the big killers in the backcountry are hypothermia (rapid, uncontrolled loss of body heat), drowning, falling from a height (especially in the dark), getting hit by lightning, and getting stung by swarms of bees or wasps. If you're sleeping out in the woods some things that are more important than a gun are a map and compass to get you to the nearest road, rain gear and warm clothing to stave off hypothermia, a flashlight and batteries to get you through the night, water and water treatment to keep you from getting dehydrated and stupid*, and a first aid kit and a cool head to get you through the rest.
    So instead of spending five hundred bucks on a new survival gun, use whatever you normally use and buy some much less expensive equipment that will make a much bigger difference. Flashlight or headlamp and spare batteries. Waterproof/breathable raingear (Gore-Tex and similar, now that W.L. Gore's patent has expired). Synthetic warmwear including a hat and gloves. Twenty dollar first aid kit. Ten dollar compass. Five dollar space blanket. Five dollar bottle of PotableAqua iodine water treatment tablets. And hey, treat yourself to the four dollar bottle of PotableAqua Vitamin C tablets to remove the iodine color and taste. They really work.* Add in a space blanket, a Storm brand whistle, and one of those AOL CDs to use as a signal mirror. In cool weather avoid cotton clothing, which absorbs moisture from rain and perspiration and robs you of body heat. Cotton kills.
    Then add in the water bottles, food, pocket knife, map, sunglasses, and lighter you probably already have to round out the mountaineer's 10 essentials and you're all set. Packing a dozen pieces of survival gear is less exciting than strapping on a Smith & Wesson, but it's also more likely to save your life.
    * If you don't have water treatment don't worry about it - go ahead and drink untreated water as long as it's not obviously contaminated. If by chance you get Giardia or some other bug the symptoms won't show up for a couple of days, and by then you'll be out of the woods. Better that than to be impaired and dangerously stupid from dehydration and never make it to safety. Been there, done that during a day of mountain biking in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. If you're disoriented, nauseous, and incredibly tired you're probably dehydrated. Find water and force yourself to drink even though you may feel like it will make you vomit.
    Posted by lesjones

    As a fellow backpacker, I say "Great post." A gun is one of the last things I think about when I'm packing. A good knife is infinitely more useful, if not quite as much so for self-defense.
    Posted by: Brian at January 13, 2006 07:27 AM
    Excellent post. People get distracted by the weirdest things, and then they forget the basics.
    As you said, other than signalling, or self-defense from other humans, handguns have little utility as survival tools. Whatever food you might collect with one will be more than offset by carrying a similar weight worth of powerbars instead. A .357 is probably good medicine against a puma, but beyond that, I don't see the value. (Of course, self-defense against humans is still a fairly significant concern).
    I'll offer one small refinement to your excellent list - the peizo push-button lighters are much better than the flint-and-wheel lighters. The latter will be disabled if they get wet, or even if they are handled with wet hands. The peizo ones can just be given a good shake and they light right up.
    Posted by: Mike at January 13, 2006 07:39 AM
    Thanks, guys. Good point about the puma. I've added that above.
    Posted by: Les Jones at January 13, 2006 08:08 AM
    I carry a .357 revolver with 1 round of snake shot and 5 regular 'ol bullets. It straps on nice and tight, but is there if I need it.
    As far as the most remote place in the Eastern US - I would have thought that was in Northern Maine somewhere - especially in the winter. As I recall, there is a section of the AT in Maine where you go 10 days without crossing a road. I'm sure there are roads near it - but thats still pretty remote. And in the north woods of Maine, any roads you do find are more likely to be fireroads that disappear in the winter.
    Posted by: countertop at January 13, 2006 08:17 AM
    All the theorizing in the world is fine from the comfort of your computer desk with a nice hot cup of coffee at hand. I actually do camp and hike alone in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. No lethal four-leggers, never very far from a road and I've always carried a sidearm. In fifty years, I've seen one cougar, hundreds of black bear, thousands of little furries, and two two-leggers who wanted my stuff. I carry a Ruger Bearcat .22 in a shoulder holster. I bought it in 1964 for $38.50. I shoot it often enough so the ammo is always fresh, and carry one box of .22LR Hi-Vel hollow points besides what's in the cylinder.
    Remember the two-leggers? It was a pair of smart ass teen agers who wanted my money and gear at a trailhead in 1968 so they could become outlaw mountain men. When I pulled my shirt back, and showed them my gun, they decided they were just kidding. I got in my pickup and drove to a ranger station with their license number. The Chelan Co. Sherriff had those two idiots in custody later that day. If I hadn't been carrying, they probably would have gotten to live their dream for a few weeks at my expense. The practical aspect of the Bearcat is the dozens of rabbits and grouse I've had for dinner over the years.
    Posted by: Gerry N. at January 14, 2006 03:50 PM
    You mention walking so much, that I am surprised that you did not mention footwear.
    The purpose of footwear is to protect your feet from rocks,sticks, etc. Also, to rotect you ankels from spraining (important if you are carrying a heavy pack).
    What Les mentioned about cotton applies doubly to feet. Syntheic or wool socks are a must to protect your feet from blisters and keep them warm while your feet are wet.
    My personal favorites are these.
    I keep a pair in my car in case I end up walking with or without my bugout bag on my back.
    Posted by: cube at January 21, 2006 11:22 AM
    And how is someone answering the question asked an example of exhibiting a "mistaken mindset"? It sounded to me like the guy asking knew what he was doing when it came to backpacking, so I'd give him the benefit of the doubt that he already has these 10 bases covered and just answer his question.
    As to the proximity of roads, let's say you can get to a road within 20 miles. How long do you have to sit there (or how far do you have to travel down that road) until you meet someone else? It's not a particularly relevant statistic. Also, that really only is a factor if he were planning on living off of what he shot. There are a whole lot more reasons to have a sidearm when heading into the woods than that, none of which are impacted by the closeness of any roads.
    I've already got everything on your list, and then some. If I asked for advice on whether to use one of my current pistols or to get a new packing piece, I wouldn't want a bunch of "you should get one of these [things that you already have] instead" replies. Just answer the question.
    I guess I just get frustrated with having to wade through a whole bunch of irrelevant replies to get to the ones that actually tell me what I want to know.
    Not that you're doing that, mind you. I wouldn't even mind if a much shorter version of your instructions were included in a reply, as long as you also gave me your thoughts on a backpacking handgun as well. After all, there might be people reading it that need that information.
    Posted by: GunGeek at January 26, 2006 05:33 PM
    Next time, please answer the question.
    That 20 miles from a road statistic is pure bunk. There are spots in the Adirondacks and Arizona that are much more remote. Besides, one could be on 100 acres of forest and walk it until you die of dehydration or hypothermia. People when lost and a little overheated and/or dehydrated have been known to shed equipment and clothes in a panic. If carrying a firearm will help to keep people calm, I'm all for it.
    Never mind bears, without a gun, how would you stop a rabid raccoon from ruining your day in a big hurry

    , a
  2. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Deffinatly have to agree that the deal about no place being more than 20 miles from a road is either or both BS or irrelevent. It may be true that in the remotest of areas, if you went 20 miles in the right direction, that you would run into some kind of a 'road' but that 'road' may be a logging road only used in certian seasons or otherwise never traveled and to get to any place on it for help might well be another 40 miles. Not to mention that if you dont know the road is '20 miles west or east' you may have to go 50 miles south to hit a road.

    That being said, I would say that whatever someone can hit with and has in an apropriate cal for the area (.22s aint likely to cut it in my mind in moose or kodiak country) would be the best gun for them to carry in the woods, or out of the woods for that matter.
  3. BigO01

    BigO01 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Yes that does indeed sound like a THR discussion .

    Me I always carry in the woods , I have had a friend who had a pack of wild dogs that had been chasing a deer decide he was easier to catch and if he hadn't had a gun he might have been dinner . Another said he ran into what he thought was a rabid groundhog while squirrel hunting years ago .

    Add those to the fact that I have run into my share of odd people in the woods and you will find my hand on my gun when you approach me in the middle of nowhere . Even at the states unmanned Conservation shooting ranges I keep a 1911 in condition one on my hip at all times , you just never know when that car coming down the road could be full of crazies who decide they like your guns on the table enough to try and kill you while you are downrange checking targets .

    If it happens I intend to make them pay a price for my guns !

    While I agree that in a survival situation there are many other things that you will use much more often than a gun , when you need a gun there isn't a thing on the planet that would make a good substitute .
  4. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    Im just one of those poor souls afflicted with a .22fetish, I know they are limited,BUT they are cheap To own,/ feed easy on the shooter and there's nothing quite as much as fun as dancing a popcan around.
    I "wish" they were actually the perfect end-all/ do-all handgun...,
    Please just this once can't we suspend the laws of physics???....

    Made a sweet $100 repairing my aunts washer today, saved her probably twice that.I'd dearly love to find a model 63 kit gun for $400( guess a niceone goes atround 1k$ anymore)or a beretta model 87 med frame .22, the Bersa firestorm .22 has gotten good writeups (ppk sized)Walther p22's are packable.. and Taurus makes a few long rifle revolvers (model 94ss)
    love woods rimfires.

    Realistically guess a gp100.357 would actually go farther toward filling the "best overall" bill?
  5. TailorMadeHell

    TailorMadeHell Lurking Shadow Creature

    If I'm going anywhere near bear or cat country, I am toting a handgun at the very least. How many hikers could have been alive had they had a firearm to kill off the attacking critter?

    'I don't carry firearms because animals are more scared of you than you of them.' or 'I don't take a firearm with me cause I don't want the poor animal to chip it's tooth on hard metal when it's gnawing my arms off.'

    Damn fools are the only ones that go into the wild unprepared. It is not like it used to be where the critters would eat other critters when they needed food. Now that there has been many people who feed wild animals, they are no longer scared of humans. There are also some times when you aren't intending to scare the bear though you wind up getting attacked because you wander too close to its cubs.

    So remember kiddies, if you are sleeping in a tent at night and a bear comes into your camp, lay like a possum and he'll chomp you just the same. Haha. I forget the exact statistics, though I believe it is almost a hundred percent of all animals that are brave enough to enter your camp at night are looking for a meal, and you may just fit the bill.

    So all the yuppies, hippies, tree huggers and wildlife lovers can go unarmed if you want to. Me, I'm toting something that will turn that animal into a rug.
  6. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    I love these discussions,and you can paint a picture of the the individual by the the first few lines of the scenario they present...justifying their own chioices of course Here:
    1) find a road, anyroad, hitchhike with the road crew of deliverance...
    2) little to no hunting ..
    3) defense against predatory humans.
    4) loud report for signaling for help.

    well that scenario is easy he's describing a centerfire ..357 or bigger.
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