Minarchy and the Prudent Man’s Armory

I have given a little thought to five weapons that you might find helpful in the event of Something Bad Happening, be that a natural disaster, a major societal or financial collapse, or some other major, society-crippling event.  (If anyone mentions zombies, I will start throwing things.)  I am of the considered opinion that the need for weaponry would be about three-fourths putting food on the table and one-fourth fighting off attackers, and so I have listed my weaponry accordingly.

There is a wealth of armament available for a variety of purposes, and for some things there really is not a wrong answer.  Bear in mind also that individual circumstances, most especially one’s location (urban, suburban, or rural, East or West, and so on) would make a big difference in choices.  But I have managed to narrow my recommended list of “bad time” weapons down to five, in so doing trying to be as general as possible.

So, without further ado, here are five weapons you should consider having around for troubled times, in no particular order.

Stevens 24 (or a similar combo gun)

For those not familiar with the neat old Stevens 24, it is an inexpensive over/under combination gun, generally mounting a .22LR or .22WMR barrel over a .410 or 20-gauge shotgun barrel.  In either form, it would be a handy thing to have for Something Bad Happening.  Here’s why:

If you hunt, or know someone who does, give a moment’s thought to how that is carried out these days.  Usually you are going afield after something specific.  Take me, for example; in August or September I may be out after grouse, moose or bears; usually I’m looking for some specific critter in any given outing.  In any of those cases, I will be equipped with a gun and gear specific to the game.

Now think about a survival situation.  In this case you will not be “deer hunting” or “grouse hunting.”  You will be “anything I can eat” hunting, and the .22/shotgun combo is well suited to that task.  The rimfire barrel will work on small critters, while you have the shotgun barrel for birds – and the rifle-sighted Model 24 is well-suited to launching slugs from that shotgun barrel as well.  That bit of versatility would make the combo gun an invaluable emergency tool.  I have one, in fact, an older 24D in .22WMR over 20 gauge.  This 1961 model still has the nice walnut stock and the robust, frame-mounted selector, and it’s right handy for wandering the woods for a combo of grouse and snowshoe hares.

Flintlock Rifle or Musket

If Something Bad Happening drags on for a long time, or results in a collapse of our major industries, then ammo resupply and repair parts could be a real problem.  In that event, there may be advantages in downgrading your armaments, in the form of a flintlock long arm.  Here’s why:

In the (unlikely, I should think) event of a major, long-term collapse, ammo will quickly become scarce as helpers on moving day.  Indeed, in such an event I imagine ammo would become the new currency, with centerfire rifle and shotgun ammo being the big bills, while .22LR ammo would be the nickels and dimes.

But people have been making black gunpowder for over a thousand years now.  Charcoal is easy to come by, if there are volcanoes within trading distance you can get sulfur, and if there are latrines, you can leach out potassium nitrate.  If this is part of your plans, stock up on bar lead and a couple of molds, keep a goodly supply of flints stored, and you’ll be shooting long after your neighbors have started trying to improvise spears and spear-throwers.

Further, some black-powder long arms can pack a considerable wallop, at least at shorter (<150 yards) range.  Smoothbore muskets have an effective range of about a third of that but can also fire shot charges or “buck and ball” loads.

And in the meantime, black-powder guns are a lot of fun to shoot.

A Concealable Handgun

While I am generally in favor of belt iron in the form of major-caliber revolvers for outdoor work, in the event of Something Bad Happening, there are some great arguments for keeping a sidearm concealed.  Here’s why:

Some years ago, while spending a boring evening in a hotel room, the course of my channel-surfing took me to a “documentary” detailing what life might be like in an actual post-collapse world.  The “survivors” in the piece had established a camp along a small river.

One morning, on this rather silly show, a boat came up the river, steered by a “trader” who, with his companion, offered a variety of goods to barter.  The entire population of the “camp” – about six people – came down to the riverbank to greet a complete stranger, in a lawless, post-apocalyptic world, unarmed, with two (frankly attractive) young women in the group.

I could spend a page of text explaining how stupid that is, but instead I will point out that there are times when a hideaway weapon could be of great benefit.  The idea is the same as it is for concealed-carry today; when the bad guys do not know who is armed, that carries with it a fair amount of deterrence.  And in a situation like the one described above, that concealed weapon could prevent an unexpected attack by the two boatmen who, as far as anyone knew, may have intent to steal the camper’s trade goods – or the two young women.

Far better, of course, to have someone at a short distance covering the group.  That someone should be visible, armed, and prepared, with something that carries with it a little precautionary effect.  Which brings us to:

Tacticool:  The AR-15

Anyone who has been paying any attention to my writing on the topic over the last few years knows that I am not a huge fan of Tacticool, even though I have an AR myself, mostly as a thumb in the eye to folks who tell me I shouldn’t be allowed to have one.  But there are circumstances in which a Tacticool long arm may well be a damned handy thing to have around, and if you are contemplating that eventuality in the course of Something Bad Happening, then the Armalite platform is the way to go.  Here’s why:

Consider for a moment that, for most of us, our location in the event of Something Bad Happening will be somewhere in the United States.  (In much of the world outside of the U.S., discussion of what firearms to have on hand may be rather moot.)  Consider that the AR-15 platform is the most popular rifle sold in the U.S. today, and has been for some time.  Consider further that the primary service long arm of the U.S. military and many police agencies is the M-16/M4 platform.

Now consider that the AR-15 and assorted variants of that semi-auto rifle use the same magazines, the same ammo and many of the same parts as the military-issue rifles.  If you are in a true post-collapse situation, you may well be scrounging for parts and ammo, and you may as well be scrounging for the most common stuff around.

Add to that the fact that most folks do not know much about firearms and might well be intimidated beyond the actual capacity of the rather modestly powered 5.56mm AR round.  If one can back down a confrontation without firing a shot, so much the better, and the black Tacticool rifle might just do the trick there – especially if the gleaming edge of a bayonet is added to the mix.

A Quality Air Rifle

In the event of Something Bad Happening, there are times when you may want to harvest some small game quietly; there is also the question of ammo, considering that you can stockpile tens of thousands of .177 or .22 caliber pellets in the space it would take to store a basic load of magazines for your Tacticool rifle.  That makes a quality air gun a handy thing to have around, but that is not the only reason.  Here’s why:

Bear in mind that I am not in favor of something like the Red Ryder BB gun that so many of us enjoyed in our youths.  What is in order here is a quality, high-powered .177 or .22 caliber pellet rifle, one capable of taking rabbits, squirrels, and birds.

As mentioned, an air rifle is quiet.  When Something Bad Happens, discretion may be required, and it is not inconceivable that one might have to harvest a bunny or a couple of squirrels in a suburban setting that still maintains some semblance of order, including the unfavorable attention that a rifle shot might bring.

Add that to the fact that one could easily and cheaply stock up tens of thousands of pellets, and a good air rifle might prove to be a champion long-term survival tool.

Honorable Mention – Other Weapons

Notice that in the introduction to this piece, I said “weapons,” not “guns.”  There is a reason for that.  A long blade would not be the worst of things to have around if the malodorous assimilated residue of the digestive process ever hits the oscillating rotary air-movement device.  Some archery tackle would also be a nice thing to have in the time of Something Bad Happening.  Here’s why:

First, bladed weapons.  These have the advantage of never running out of ammo; you just must keep them sharp.  I have one, which I bought not out of worry of societal collapse but simply because I thought it was cool; mine is a Cold Steel replica of a 1917 Navy cutlass, the last combat long blade issued by the U.S. military.  It is not a rapier or a fencing foil; this is a heavy, brutal weapon, made for hacking and slashing.  I would hate to be the poor son of a bitch climbing a boarding ladder to find myself facing an old CPO at the top, armed with one of these in one hand and a .45 in the other.  I imagine the same scenario would apply to someone, say, trying to force their way into your front door.

Second, archery tackle.  Being that game regs are likely to have gone out the window in such scenarios as we are discussing, I’d favor a powerful crossbow, as having greater range, accuracy, and being easier to learn to shoot well.  A regular bow would serve as well, though, if you are already using one.  In either case, there is the matter of arrows and bolts, but those can generally be used more than once, and target bolts can be used for many practice sessions.  Bonus:  Archery tackle is quiet.  No flash or report gives away your position.

In Conclusion

For many years now, I have poked some gentle fun at the “New World Order” and other conspiracy cranks that claimed the UN was going to take over the country, or other such wild-eyed notions.  I have, in the past, had little time for the “prepper” groups.

These days I am rethinking that attitude a little.  The last few months we still lived in the Denver area, we had riots, property destruction and arson only a few miles from our house.  For several nights I kept a pump shotgun stuffed with 00 buckshot close at hand.  Here in the Great Land the armed citizenry far outnumbers the malcontents, and Alaskans are notorious for brooking no such nonsense.  Something Bad Happening up there is likely to turn into Something Bad Happening for the instigators.

I will not be building any bunkers or stocking a year’s worth of expensive dehydrated rations.  But we do have a greenhouse and garden space for vegetables and are doing some canning and preserving, which is something we planned to do in any case.  We also buy bulk rice, flour and dry beans and keep about a six-month supply in our cellar, sealed in food-grade buckets.  And, yes, I keep an ample supply of ammo on hand.

Why?  Because I do not see the current unrest just going away any time soon, and so I will take prudent action; stay away from any likely loci of the unrest, and make some prudent preparations, including evaluating my arms and ammo.

After all, it is better to have a gun and not need one, than to need one and not have one; and when you need a gun, nothing else will do

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2 thoughts on “Minarchy and the Prudent Man’s Armory”

  1. Animal, great article… Where my head is at is best summed up by this part of one of your sentences: “..stay away from any likely loci of the unrest”.
    I was born in Metro New York 6 decades ago and immediately thereafter was blessed to grow up in what used to be “rural America. Within the last year I swore I’d never go back to NYC again. Wound up at a wedding several months after taking that oath. Of course, unable to carry my EDC.
    My disdain for travel is tempered by your observations. I’ll take low population density and an inventory of 2A hardware anytime. 👺🇺🇸

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