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Old 10-12-2010, 06:18 PM
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Default My top 5 survivalist pistol calibers



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From my opinion, pistols need to serve a dual role purpose - just like rifles or shotguns. Whether its on your hip while walking around the yard, or in your hand while hog or deer hunting, be sure to pick a caliber that will get the job done.


5. 22 long rifle - inexpensive, light weight, takes care of small pest with little or no problems. The light recoil makes the 22 a great choice for small framed adults, teenagers learning to shoot and people who do not like the recoil of the larger calibers.

One of the big bonuses of the 22 long rifle, it can be shot out of a pistol or rifle, this makes it a dual role caliber. From a stockpiling point of view, and you intend for everyone in your group to be armed, the most inexpensive route is the 22 long rifle. When a brick of 550 rounds cost between $12 - $20, its cost effective to stockpile thousands of 22 rounds. For $200 someone could probably buy more 22 long rifle then they will shoot in a 10 years - do that with 9mm, 40S&w, 45ACP or 357Sig.

4. 38 special - less recoil then the 357 magnum, can be shot out of pistols and rifles chambered for 357 magnum, easy to reload. From my reloading experience, the 38 special can use 6 grains of unique, which is the same charge that I used for the 9mm. With 6,000 grains in a pound of powder, that means you can get around 1,000 38 special loads from 1 pound of unique.

Stockpiling the 38 special - a lot of police still use the 38 special to qualify their officers, this makes 38 special brass easy to find. If your looking for a cheap, easy to find, easy to reload round to stockpile, the 38 special is going to be difficult to beat. I remember going to gun shows and seeing 38 special brass by the5 gallon bucket load.

Its the light recoil, abundance of brass for reloading, ease of reloading and ability to shoot out of firearms chambered for 357 magnum that puts the 38 special at #4.

3 & 2 - tied between the 9mm and 45ACP - If you think the 9mm is better then the 45ACP, thats fine. If you like the 45ACP over the 9mm, thats fine also. The 9mm and 45ACP have to share the # 2 & #3 spots for the best round for survivalist. Their both easy to reload, brass is easily available, and sometimes you can find good deals on bulk ammo.

Back when I was reloading, a buddy of mine and I, we both had a progressive reloading presses setup in the same shop. My buddy had a Lee and I had an RCBS Rock Chucker with a Piggyback. In 1 hour we could load 1,000 rounds of 9mm. Their were 2 of us working the presses - 1 person per press, and a third person was keeping the powder hoppers filled up, keeping the brass on hand and the primers ready to go. We were using 6 grains of unique, small pistol primers and Remington 115 grain round nose. We would all pitch in and buy bullets in bulk from Midway USA. Back in the mid - late 1990s Midway used to have a case of 5,000 9mm bullets - that is what we would buy. It was not uncommon to load 2,000 - 3,000 rounds of 9mm in a weekend. Then we would switch the presses over to 45ACP, 38 special or 357 magnum and keep loading.

A lot of police officers use the 9mm and 45ACP, so finding brass should not be a problem - just like the 38 special. If you know someone that works for the local police department or sheriffs department, ask them to pick up brass for you next time they qualify with their pistols. There have been a several times when friends brought me 5 gallons buckets of mixed brass from the ranges - 9mm, 45ACP, 357sig, 38 special, 357 magnum,,,,,,. It took a couple of hours to go through all of the brass and sort to the different calibers, but it was worth it.

One of the plus sides to the 9mm and 45ACP, certain companies are making rifles for them as well. Examples include the Marlin camp 9 and camp 45, and the Beretta Px4 Storm.

1. 357 magnum - despite the "magnum" name, the recoil is manageable, the 357 is chambered in pistols and rifles, its easy to reload and its got enough power to take deer and hog size game, or be able to shoot through a car - which ever one you need to do at the time.

If you do not want a revolver, then there is the Magnum Research Desert Eagle.

If you want a rifle chambered in 357 magnum, there is the Marlin 1894 lever action.

Personally, I shoot a Smith & Wesson model 66 combat magnum.

There is just something about holding and shooting a revolver that a semi-auto can not compare to. The feel of the wooden grips is much better then the plastic grips of most semi-autos, the action of a wheel gun seems smoother then the action of most semi-autos.

Special Mention:

40 S&W - when the 40 came out, I was one of the people that jumped on the band wagon and bought one. The pistol I owned was the Ruger P91 DC - the DC stood for "decocker." It was stainless steel, double action, 40 S&W.

After shooting a few hundred rounds of 40S&W, I can honestly say that I do not like the recoil. When compared to the 9mm and the 45ACP, the 40S&W seems to have a sharper and most unpleasant recoil. Its the harsh recoil that keep the 40 out of the top 5.

41 magnum - the 41 magnum offers improved ballistics over the 357 magnum, but at the cost of a larger frame pistol and a little more recoil. Even though the 41 magnum has a lot to offer, it never did catch on like other calibers did.

44 magnum - Dirty Harry and the term "hand cannon" helped push the 44 magnum to popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. If you need a handgun for bear, then the 44 magnum might be right up your alley. If you need a handgun just about anyone in the family can shoot, the 44 magnum is off the list.

With rifles like the Marlin 1894, maybe the 44 magnum should be considered more of a light rifle round then a heavy pistol cartridge.

357 sig - for you 357 sig fans out there, here is your special mention, I hope your happy.


Final thoughts:

I'am pretty sure that a lot of people are going to disagree with the 38 special being in the top 5, while the 40S&W only gets a special mention.

When thinking about the #4 spot, there were several things I took into consideration - recoil as one of the main factors. I personally think my 14 year old daughter would be more comfortable shooting a 38 special then a 40S&W.

When reloading, the 38 special can use the same bullets as the 357 magnum. Just order a bunch of 125 grain hollow points, and use them in either the 38 special or 357 magnum.
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:31 PM
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Only one that is not popular but I like it is the 10mm. Very easy to handle, great backup round while hunting and if you reload it is very cheap to do since it uses the same bullets/dies as the .40cal.

That is my rig and what I run with over all the other pistols.
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:35 PM
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Yet another well thought-out post, thank you for taking the time.
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:40 PM
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Kev,

Thanks for making my evening. I have friends who think their AK, AR, & .45 will keep them at the top of the food chain if and WSHTF, but they have made no preparations and put no thought into the day after.

Personally, I don't have the money for most of the "favored" firearms that are presented in gun magazines and on internet posting boards. What I do have are guns that I have acquired as time and money have allowed, along with a few that my dad has given to his only son, and it was with great pleasure that I found all of the handguns in your list.

My every-day concealed carry is a 9mm KelTec, chosen based on weight, size, caliber, and cost (under $250 new). My wife's EDCC is a .38 S&W Chief's Special given to my by my dad. Our "house gun" is a Ruger .357 Magnum which was also bought for under $200.00.

Each of us has a .22 pistol in our BOB with two clips...one loaded with .22 LR and the other with "snake shot" for nuisance critters. I also have a KelTec .32 for deep concealment (think swimtrunks only at the beach).

Our long guns are a 20 ga. shotgun and two .22 rifles (more goodies from Dad), a .357 lever action rifle, and a high-quality pellet rifle and crossbow round out our "armory". Of course, there are ample ammo stashes for each.

Ten guns of varying size and capability, all for less than the cost of most AR's, AK's, or .45's.
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:07 PM
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Default best pistol for survival

Quote:
Originally Posted by se'kunchance View Post
Kev,

Thanks for making my evening. I have friends who think their AK, AR, & .45 will keep them at the top of the food chain if and WSHTF, but they have made no preparations and put no thought into the day after.
Ask your friends to show you the deer the took during hunting season. Any of them taken with the ar15? If not, why not?


Quote:
Originally Posted by se'kunchance View Post
Personally, I don't have the money for most of the "favored" firearms that are presented in gun magazines and on internet posting boards.
I used to keep subscriptions to a lot of outdoor magazines, and I got a good laugh at the high end equipment they always recommended.

One issue was talking about rifles, and most of them cost $1,500+. I'am not sorry, and I make no apology, I will not pay 3 house notes for a rifle. Having a place to live is more important then an expensive rifle.
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kev View Post
I'am pretty sure that a lot of people are going to disagree with the 38 special being in the top 5, while the 40S&W only gets a special mention.
It would be in my list as a "pro" of owning a .357 magnum, but not as one of the five. .44 would edge it out to fill the role of large predator defense.

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Originally Posted by kev View Post
There is just something about holding and shooting a revolver....
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:36 PM
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i would have switched 38 with 9mm but good list anyways.
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:28 PM
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My list of 5, in particular order, that I find the most useful for me in my experience. This includes only caliber that I own handguns for or have used extensively in the past. Here goes.

.40 S&W: I do not have the issues with that others have with sharp recoil. Not as smooth in recoil as a .45 but it does the trick for me and provides a good compromise between 9 mm and .45 ACP for everyday carry.

.22 Long Rifle: The low cost of ammo keeps me practicing more then I would if I just owned the .40. It is also a good choice for small game hunting in the right package. I carry this one with my .308 when deer hunting for pot hunting.

.44 Mag: I don't have one yet but I have shot a lot of them. I want one to fill the handgun hunting niche and for camping where there might be dangerous animals.

.45 acp: I have always viewed high capacity to be preferable power in a handgun so I went with the .40. Now that guns like the FNX-45 are on the market with it's 15 round magazine I have no excuse not to have a .45 in the collection. It is a proven fight stopper and has enough ommph for woods protection. Besides, what American handgunner doesn't want one.

.357 Magnum/.38 Special: I count these together. The .357 is one of the best all-around revolver rounds. Manageable but with enough power to stop fights, hunt and for woods protection. Not the best for really dangerous game, but if you can keep a cool head and place your shots well, it will do the trick.

There are a lot of other great calibers out there that do not fit my perceived needs but are none the less useful and worth considering. I like 9 mm, I just want a little more. .327 Magnum looks interesting but it is too new. .32 H&R does not have enough support in the shooting world. The same goes with .41 Magnum, which is a shame because it is a great magnum. 10 mm is hard on guns, except for Glocks, and I just don't know enough about .357 Sig.

Anyway, thanks Kev for a great thread.
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Old 10-12-2010, 09:50 PM
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My list:

1).45 acp- If I am in a situation where I have to shoot someone, i trust the .45 more than any other round. Plus, it can shoot lead bullets without excessive leading, so it is still cheap to shoot, and in a shtf situation you could easily cast your own.

2) .38/.357 same reason as kev

3) 9mm- there is plenty of it. You can get guns in a reasonable size that hold close to 20 rounds. A good hollow point will stop a person, if you don't believe me contact me for the form to participate in my new study regarding this topic.

4) .380- a useless round for anything other than concealed carry. However, for concealment, some of the little .380s are a must have. There are times when you simply can't pack anything bigger, so this is very important for those that carry.

5) .22 lr. My ruger mk iii is probably the most accurate handgun i own. I feel like I could shoot a varmints at 50 yards easily if I had to. Plus .22 lr is cheap and easy to stockpile.
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Old 10-12-2010, 09:50 PM
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Great list. Totally agree with 357 as number 1 (I prefer the 686 L-frame to the K frames, beat a Mod 19 to death with full loads, I think of the K frames as a 38 that can shoot 357)
Also agree with Ric Knight about combining the 38 special and 357 into one group. I would have listed 22lr as number 2, 45 as 3 and the 9mm parabellum at 4, after that I lose interest quickly. I have a number of other calibers and from a survival perspective I believe that they leave much to be desired.
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Old 10-12-2010, 11:53 PM
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I would take the 10mm over the 40.
While the 10 can be loaded down and
factory ammo often is.
The opposite cant be said.
Other than the glock 10mm, you do
loose capacity.
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:11 AM
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The only reason I switched from a 357 to a 9mm was more bullets and less reloading.

The 38/357 is the most versatile of the lot too.
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:36 AM
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Mine:
9mm-Universal, preferably a Glock 19 for myself
.22LR-Myriad of pros
.357 Mag-Always been a good choice for survival
.44 Mag-Big prob fixer
10mm-Probably the most versatile of the bunch.
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kev View Post
Ask your friends to show you the deer the took during hunting season. Any of them taken with the ar15? If not, why not?
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Buck 12/07 with AR-15 .223

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Name:	matthews first deer hunt november 28-30 2008 011.jpg
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Spike hunt 11/08
AR-15 .223
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Doe 11/07 AR-15

Its not my favorite to hunt deer with but it gets the job done. Massive wounds btw.

If I am after a trophy I use a .308 or 30-06.
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:58 AM
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Good list.

I'd have combined .38/.357 as the #1 caliber since any gun that shoots .357 will take .38.

The new #5 would be .44/.44 magnum since the same rule applies. Shoot the special out of your revolver for control and the magnum out of your rifle for power. I know people who successfully hunt black bear with 44 mags out of a handgun. And I think there is a Desert Eagle for it too, for people who can't stomach a revolver.

Honorable mention I'd add .45 Long colt. It comes in a long gun as well as revolver with the added "extra" of being able to be shot out of a .454 Casull or .460 S&W Magnum or (in a real pinch) a .410 shotgun with no choke. Lots of brass due to popularity with Cowboy Action shooting.
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Old 10-13-2010, 01:01 AM
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Good and well thought out. I would rate the 22lr higher as we use it very regular even daily. The 357 is a winner here as well.
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Old 10-13-2010, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kev View Post
.....I'am pretty sure that a lot of people are going to disagree with the 38 special being in the top 5, ....
No disagreement here about .38's or revolvers in general. I've always been a semi-auto fan, but during this past couple years have been bitten by the revolver bug and have acquired a few Rugers and Smiths. I also agree that the venerable,old .38 is a highly under-rated round and have recently read several good arguments backing this up.
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Old 10-13-2010, 09:52 AM
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.22 and .45 are our mainstays around here, we have been considering adding a 9mm to the family though. Thanks Kev.
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Old 10-13-2010, 10:06 AM
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I like and agree with kev list. As a Firearm Instructor and a Fugitive recovery Agent. I cary a Sig 9MM on my right hip in a leather pancake holster and for back up I never leave my house with out my Tauras 605B 357 snubbie that I cary either in a leather shoulder holster or cross draw rig.

357 Mag has all the power you need and with practic the recoil is nothing even from a snubbie. The added bonas is the mental image of the mind. when you can see the copper metal jacketed bullets starting at your face from the open chambers of the cyclinder it becomes very real and very scary. Thats a mental egde over a semi auto.
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Old 10-13-2010, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highlander View Post
Attachment 37589
Buck 12/07 with AR-15 .223

Attachment 37590
Spike hunt 11/08
AR-15 .223
Attachment 37591
Doe 11/07 AR-15
Are you sure those are deer? I thought everything was bigger in Texas?
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