(1) A Rifle in .22LR
(2) A Concealable 9mm Handgun
(3) An AR-15 in .223/5.56
– A Rifle in .22LR –
Nothing beats an accurate .22 rifle for hunting small game. Higher calibers are over-powered for small game animals. And other rimfire calibers are more expensive and less available. You can still find plenty of .22LR ammo at reasonable prices. And it’s easy to buy and store a few thousand rounds.
After the SHTF, you may want to supplement your stored food and gardening crops with some wild game meat. Any number of economic or natural disasters could collapse our fragile food production system, resulting in empty shelves at the grocery store. And meat will likely be among the first foods to disappear. You may have some meat stored in your freezer, but that storage space is limited. Every prepper stores much more grains and dried legumes than meat and poultry. Wild game will not be your main staple food. But it can be a useful supplemental source of protein.
Larger game may be more desirable, especially because it provides more food with each kill. But small game animals are numerous and are widely distributed across the U.S., even in not-so-rural areas. Also, licenses to hunt small game are perhaps easier to obtain, if you need a license at all. Then, too, the amount of food from a small game hunt can be easily prepared and stored. Large game presents the problem of what to do with the large amount of meat.
Birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals can be easily taken with a .22 rifle. You know that you can get within 100 yards or less of these animals. So you don’t need a firearm that hits beyond 100 yards. Most small game can be taken within 25 to 50 yards. Therefore, you don’t need a very expensive, highly accurate firearm. A Ruger 10/22 will do the trick nicely. And the gun has many third-party accessories to enhance the firearm later on. However, if you are on a budget, the Marlin Model 60 is a good choice. It’s semi-automatic, accurate, and inexpensive.
A .22 rifle is also useful for teaching youths to use a firearm safely. The low recoil and low noise is perfect for beginners.
Can you use a .22 for self-defense? Yes, but other firearms are better suited for that role. The .22 is rather underpowered for home defense purposes.
– A Concealable 9mm Handgun –
A long gun is best for self-defense and home defense in many different situations. The longer barrel and ability to shoulder the weapon give you greater power and accuracy. You know the saying: “a handgun is only good for shooting your way to a long gun”. Good point. But in reality, a handgun is much easier to carry with you, in and around your home. You never know when you might need a firearm for self-defense. And after a few rounds have been fired, the fight is usually over. There might be no time to get to your long guns. You can’t constantly have a rifle at the ready (or can you?).
My pick for a home-carry gun would be a semi-auto in 9mm. A revolver is reliable and accurate, and dead simple to use. But a 9mm semi-auto allows for fast reloads, more shots before reloading, and it’s not much more complicated to use.
I don’t have a single 9mm handgun to recommend. But I would lean towards a model that is designed for conceal carry. You don’t want your gun-phobic neighbors or passers-by to call the police just because they saw a legally open carried gun. I suppose it depends on what region of the country you call home. Open carry is socially acceptable in some places, and not-so-much in others.
Is it legal to conceal carry a firearm inside your home? It is legal, provided that you legally own the firearms and do not break any related laws. Washington, D.C. used to have a law that prevented home carry, but it was found unconstitutional (District of Columbia v. Heller).
What about outside, in your yard? I could not find a clear and convincing answer to that question. I think it depends on how gun-friendly the laws in your State may be, and whether a local prosecutor might be overzealous in going after a gun owner. Check your local gun laws. (I am not an attorney and nothing on this websites constitutes legal advice.)
My pick for handgun caliber is the 9mm. A top notch 9mm hollow point will get the job done, and the ammo is affordable and plentiful. This post at USAcarry.com offers several good suggestions for concealable 9mm handguns. And ConcealedNation.org has an overlapping but larger list of candidate weapons.
I would suggest deciding what method of concealed carry you will use first: shoulder holster, fanny pack, waistband, small of the back, etc. Then you can choose a firearm suited for that type of carry.
– An AR-15 in .223/5.56 –
An AR-15, also known as a Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR), is a highly modular weapon that can be modified in many ways, after purchase, to improve the firearm or adapt it to a particular purpose. You can change the trigger group, stock, rails, grip, and even swap the upper for a different caliber. The rails allows the addition of various sights, scopes, grips, lights, etc. It modularity and adaptability makes it a top pick for preppers and survivalists.
If you live in an AR-unfriendly State, condolences. But usually you can find a State-compliant version of the AR that is legal in your locality.
Should you buty a rifle chambered in .223 or 5.56? I would say get a 5.56 chambered AR. You can then shoot both .223 and 5.56 ammo. There are more than a few other calibers that can be fired from an AR-variant rifle. But .223/5.56 ammo is cheapest and most plentiful. That advantage can’t be overlooked. And the firepower is more than sufficient for home defense and taking medium game.
Later on, you can buy a new upper for your AR (and sometimes a new bolt/magazine), which will allow you to shoot another caliber. So you don’t have to buy a whole new firearm to shoot multiple calibers. But the cost and availability of the ammo causes me to recommend starting with the 5.56 caliber AR.
For home defense, an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine (where permitted by law) offers plenty of firepower and ammo to repel home invaders, robbers, and any other type of assailants. Even if law and order breaks down completely, so that you are on your own, you will be able to defense your home and family with that one firearm.
Hunting with the AR-15 is permissible in some States and not in others. Often a change to a larger caliber satisfies the State laws, allowing hunting with an AR. But check your local laws before any firearms related activity. Laws are constantly changing, and they are often not common sense.
What About Shotguns?
If I were to expand the list to four guns, I suppose the fourth would be a shotgun. You can use a shotgun for home defense and for hunting. But, controversially, I would prefer the AR-15. It has more rounds, is easier to reload, and has less recoil and muzzle blast than a 12 gauge. That said, shotguns have defended many homes for more than 150 years. They are used by the military and police, to good effect. If all you have to defend your home is a 12-gauge, you are well-armed.