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5 Things to Look for in a Survival Firearm

by Paul-Martin Foss

Over the past two years, firearms sales have been growing at a record pace. More and more Americans have come to realize that they can’t rely on police to protect them, they have to protect themselves. But many first-time gun owners may not understand what they need from a firearm.

Buying the wrong type of gun can leave you just as badly off as if you had no gun at all, which is why you need to do your research before you purchase a firearm. Here are the five things you need to look for when purchasing a survival or self-defense firearm.

1. Reliability

The first thing you need to think about is reliability. You need to know that every time you pull the trigger, that gun is going to go bang.

To start off with, you need to purchase a firearm with a reputation for reliability. Sometimes even cheap guns are reliable, but very often cheap lower-tier firearms, especially handguns, are cheap for a reason, because they aren’t reliable.

Part of testing reliability means practicing regularly. You’ll want to put a few hundred rounds through any gun you purchase before you can trust your life to it. And if you’re getting feeding problems, stovepipes, failure to extract or eject, double feeds, etc., you need to diagnose the problem.

Problems caused by ammunition or magazines can be fixed by changing out ammo or mags, but if your gun is jamming with every magazine you use or with every type of ammo, you may have a lemon on your hands.

2. Accuracy

Right behind reliability comes accuracy. When you start sending rounds downrange, you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your barrel. You need to know that your gun will hit what you’re aiming at.

With the proliferation of cheap red dot sights, both rifles and pistols can be shot accurately even by beginners. But again, this means practicing at the range to make sure you can hit your target, and determining which types of ammunition are most accurate in your firearm.

Some guns can be picky with certain types of ammunition, and you’ll have to find out which types your gun likes. And if your gun doesn’t shoot anything well, have someone else try it out. If they have problems too, there’s a good chance you have a gun that’s a liability.

3. Portability

At some point you’re likely going to have to move with your firearm. That might mean carrying a concealed pistol on your hip, slipping a pocket pistol into a purse, or patrolling the perimeter of your house with a rifle or shotgun.

A .50 BMG sniper rifle might be powerful and effective, but it’s not very portable. Similarly, an AR-15 with half a dozen doo-dads hanging off the forearm may provide you with lots of functionality, but it may be too heavy for your particular situation. And a .500 S&W revolver can also be effective, but it’s a bear to haul around as your everyday carry.

4. Ease of Use

Any firearm you use needs to be easy for you to use without thinking. You need to be able to draw and fire without having to think and remember anything, as hesitation in a gunfight could cost valuable seconds that could cost you your life.

Here again, practicing with your firearm will establish muscle memory and familiarize you with the manual of arms for your particular gun. So when you need your gun the most, you’ll be able to use it effectively.

5. Effectiveness

Lastly, you’ll want something that’s effective for your particular situation. A .22 pistol is easy to use and fun to shoot, but as a self defense firearm it’s sorely lacking. Similarly, a 9mm pistol may be effective at concealed carry, but it’s not going to be the most effective sidearm if you’re traveling to an area filled with big bears.

And if you expect to need shots longer than 25 yards, you’re probably going to want to use a rifle, not a handgun. Your use situation will determine the type of firearm you need, the caliber that’s most effective for the potential threats, and the amount of ammunition you need to carry.

This is something that is situationally dependent, and not something for which there’s a one size fits all solution. Operating as part of a team in the woods, going out by yourself around your property, or making a quick trip into town are all going to require different types of firearms, so be sure that you have all the right tools you need to cover any situation you may find yourself in.


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