Shelter-in-Place Survival Guns 101

Shelter-in-place survival guns

Shelter-in-place survival guns can be divided into four categories: extreme range rifles, moderate range rifles, close range long guns and intimate range weapons.

Previously, I discussed what my concepts of daily travel and vacation long guns were, and said that they were distinctly different than long guns you might choose for defending your home, i.e. “sheltering in place” in the event of disaster.

Speaking of being armed during times of disaster, I saw in this month’s American Rifleman that the NRA was combating a law in North Carolina that prohibits possession of firearms outside your home during times of disaster.

As of this writing, a federal judge had struck the law down. Interesting. Banning the possession of firearms when you need them most. It was not mentioned that any other states had followed suit, but you may want to check your own state laws just to be sure. The law prohibits store owners and shop keepers from protecting their property as they did during the last Los Angeles riots should it remain in effect—not to mention prohibiting you from stepping outside your home to protect other parts of your property. If any law violates the foundation of the Second Amendment, this one does.

While the parameters for travel guns are very specific (and these same guns can also perform as shelter-in-place guns), shelter-in-place survival guns give you more leeway in your selection.

The addition of reliable optics and lights on these guns do not pose the same problem as it does for travel guns—you can keep all the batteries you need stored at home since those home stockpiles will be your point of re-supply. Caliber can be of a less common type since you have stockpiled your supplies. But a different concept comes into play for selecting home-defense guns: the layering of weapon coverage for your permanent position.

Your weapons should cover threats at extreme range (200 yards+), moderate range (200 yards down to 50 yards or less), close range (15 yards and in), and intimate range (closer that 3 feet).  You don’t need a lot of guns; a minimum of four will suffice, but get more if you can afford them.

Requirements for such weapons, in addition to being from a military lineage, should be as follows:

Extreme Range Rifle

The 5.56mm does not get it for true extreme range shooting. It is accurate, but runs out of gas. For the AR-15 weapon system cartridge selection begins with the 6.8 SPC and goes up from there. The addition of an adequately powered scope sight is helpful, depending on the layout of your living area. If you won’t be shooting at extreme range, you may still need a caliber able to penetrate heavy cover or vehicles. For me, my M-1 Garand works well in that role (a Springfield M1A is as good as it gets), while my custom 6.8 SPC AR with scope works well at the extremes. Stay away from bolt guns if you can, as your threats may be numerous.

Moderate Range Rifle

Here is where the 5.56 ARs and 7.62×39 or 5.54×39 AKs, and the M1 carbine shine. If semi-autos are banned in your area, then your next best choice is a lever gun. Pump rifles are fine, but you can’t lay the forend on a solid rest and keep shooting. The .357 or .44 Magnum Marlin 1894 carbines come to mind here.

Close Range Long Gun

At 15 yards and in, the shotgun still shines, even though it has a reduced magazine capacity. If you have a semi-auto that runs good, the home is a good place to use it. You can even trick it out with high-capacity competition magazines or speed loading systems. Concealment is not an issue. Of course, your AKs and ARs are still good to go for this purpose, as are pistol-caliber carbines.

Intimate Range Weapon

Three feet and closer means pistols, weapons with bayonets mounted (as the ultimate weapon retention device), and combat tomahawks or large knives as last-ditch options. For pistols, I still err on the side of capacity. The 1911 or a classic combat revolver are great and reliable tools, but not when you are expecting a lot of company. If you can’t afford anything else, go with what you’ve got, and practice reloading.

Think about your defense mission at home and reevaluate what you have.  If you don’t have a gun safe, get one, and fire-lined ones are the best. You don’t want marauders cleaning you out in advance of a major event. Know your local laws and practice, practice, practice.


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Read more about survival guns in the author’s book, Gun Digest Book of Survival Guns, for even more great tips.

4 thoughts on “Shelter-in-Place Survival Guns 101

  1. noobers

    on a side note if you have a pump shotgun . that does not limit you . i can out shoot pretty much much any other shotgun . mind you i have had it for four years and i have it on me almost all the time if there was a gun i could call a extension of my arm it would be that. you might get a shorter barrel on it though.

    defense knife . no not me ever >< i have a hawk with a heavy blade and a long point . it's been put there hell and has had no problems . my one failing is bolt guns. god semi auto rifles in 30-06 are expensive now

    1. BiffSarin

      I would agree with you on the pump gun. The fact is that a 12 ga shotgun has a HUGE advantage as a defense weapon simply because of the variety of rounds available. Everything from rubber shot to bean bags to birdshot, 00-Buck, and slugs. Taser even made a 12 ga stun gun round for a few years called the XREP but they were priced at $160 ea. The point is that my semi auto shotguns cycle most standard rounds fine but if you mix in “exotic” rounds, they tend to cycle far less reliably. With a pump gun, there is no issue with what type of round you fire because you are manually cycling anyway. I have also shot skeet with people using pump guns and they could cycle their guns nearly as quickly as my Remington 11-87.

      The one thing I would disagree with you on is the Tomahawk. To use a hawk effectively, you need separation with your attacker. Most of the hawks damage is inflicted by the leverage and momentum generated as you swing it in an arc. In a defensive situation, inside three feet, it seems that it would be more difficult to swing, particularly if you were on your back. Certainly, in the hands of someone well trained in it’s use, that may not be true. Anyway, just a thought.

  2. ElHalcon

    I agree, I have a Springfield M1A Scout (7.62×51), an AR style in 7.62×51, an AR in 5.56, a 12ga shotgun, three 45cal 1911′s, a 9mm, a 357cal, and a 380 in 1911 style.

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