Total Survivalist Blog: AR-15

Do I Need an Assault Rifle?

is an interesting thread I stumbled into on

Survivalist Boards

. The question asked was:

Hello I’m new to the forum and would like some input. as of now this is my arms list;
Mosin Nagant
Mosberg 500 with scoped rifled barrel and 20 in smooth bore
Nylon 66, 22lr autoloader
RIA 1911 45acp
taurs ultralight .38 stubnose
22lr/mag single action revolver

My question is would it be best to save for an “assaault” rifle or put that 500-1000 bucks towards other preparations. I live in a very rural area, nearest town is 8 miles away with a population of less then 2000?

The comments to the post ranged from, and I am being slightly satirical here, “You don’t need an Assault Rifle the Mosin Nagant is the best rifle ever” to “You must have an AK/ AR/ PTR-91 or you will die tomorrow.” In between those two extremes a range of reasonable points were made.

Note the term “assault rifle” is used where ‘magazine fed military pattern rifle such as an AK or AR’ might have been more accurate. 

My thoughts:

I really wish this guy gave more information about his overall level of preps, general income and the specific type(s) of situations that primarily concern him. That really would have let me make a much more informed answer and frame this discussion better. From some comments and the general trend of the discussion it seems this guy has made some good effort towards the initial stages of preparedness. Moving further on.

I do not think “Do I need an assault rifle” is the right question to ask. The questions I would as are

1) Based on my overall level of preparedness (which I would explain in broad strokes) should I purchase a military pattern rifle now or should I purchase X, Y, Z instead and get a rifle in 6 months or a year?

2) Based on X scenario is a military pattern rifle a prudent purchase?

Beyond this individuals scenario to the broad question. Two mutually opposing and equally valid points govern my thinking here. First for the vast majority of  realistic civilian defensive situations as well as gathering protein sources you do not need a military pattern rifle. I do genuinely believe a modern, relatively compact military pattern rifle is the absolute best CQB and defensive option available today. However situations where a guy packing an AR makes it when he would not have using some sort of a riot shotgun are few and far between.

In a wide variety of realistic situations, even pretty ugly ones I would feel fine being armed with a MILSURP or sporting bolt gun and or a good ole 30-30, a pump shotgun, a .22 rifle and a handgun or two. I was smack in the middle of the LA Riots, Katrina or Rita [ are arguably the ugliest situations to occur in the US since Japan invaded the Aleutians and bombed Hawaii in WW2] with those guns I would feel reasonably, if not optimally, well armed.

That being said……

The standard for modern personal combat weapons is a modern military pattern self loading rifle. This is for a really valid reason. Simply put the capacity of these weapons to put rapid accurate fire onto targets and sustain that fire through a fight is not paralleled by shotguns or bolt/ lever rifles.

Take any realistic or semi realistic defensive scenario (El Presidente, 2 rounds per target x 3 targets, whatever) and an AR/ AK/ Mini 14/ etc will smoke a Mosin, 30-30 or lever gun stone cold. If you want to point out the best bolt gun shooter or whatever there is some guy in the AMU who would crush him.

The way I look at it if fighting a person (or more) armed with modern rifles I face a serious disadvantage being armed with anything less. If I am fighting people less well armed (likely) then I have an advantage which is excellent. Basically you don’t NEED a fighting rifle unless you do at which point you really need it. People worried about particularly ugly situations would be very well advised to have a modern fighting rifle in their collection in case it is needed.

To the question of timing.

I think a persons preparations should generally move forward in a balanced manner. Put energy into different areas a bit at a time proportionately. Off the top of my head it might look something like this:

1 week/ black out/ storm- Food and water, some emergency lighting plans, a radio, some spare batteries, a basic kit for your vehicle. Weapons- whatever you have with a few boxes of ammo. If you had no guns I’d say a pistol that works for carry and house use plus a pump shotgun would work fine.

2 week bad storm/ black out- Same as the first but more consumables.

6 week regional disaster- Food for 6 weeks for everyone in your family with some overage for guests or helping others, water and the ability to purify and store more water. Hygiene stuff, clothes, batteries, maybe some local Motorola type radios. A real plan to mitigate the local climate ie cold in the north and hot in the south. Weapons- A pistol and a shotgun would get you by but I would want more like 300 rounds per weapon. I would feel a whole lot better if I had a rifle with about 300 rounds and a .22 with 1k of ammo. At this point consider some ammo for helping friends and neighbors. Lots of folks have a pistol, shotgun or hunting rifle but only a partial box or maybe two of ammo. At this point I would stock up on calibers I am vested in that I know or reasonably expect neighbors have.

This is where regional preferences and local considerations matter.

.22lr

and

12 gauge

are common everywhere. 

30-30

is common especially in the dense eastern and southern woods, distance guns like

.300 win mag

are common in the wide open west and .44 mag is common in bear country.

3 months- At this point things are going really bad. A regional disaster is totally hosed or there is a wider scale one. Obviously you need more consumables and in this time frame stuff is going to start to wear out. Repair parts, a serious plan for cooking food over the long term, etc all need to come into play here. As to weapons and ammo I’d say this is the first point where I’d really be adamant about a military pattern rifle, a dozen mags, a war belt or chest rig, a couple cases of ammo and some spare parts are really necessary.

 [Note: I am working under the assumption people are choosing a rifle that is reasonable for their situation which they can afford to purchase ancillary parts such as mags and ammo for. A family man who makes 35k a year cannot afford a SCAR-H with a Night Force scope, a silencer and an IR laser. If that guy can somehow swing it that rifle will be a curse not a blessing as he is almost surely shorting his family and preps. He needs to be realistic and get a good middle of the road AK like a Yugo PAP or basic but not junk AR like an S&W M&P, Bushmaster or DPMS. Working forward I will presume people apply common sense and select a gun that fits their economic and life situation.]

I would also want a rifle that could ‘reach out and touch someone.’

Honestly I do not see this as a really logical milestone because IMO if things aren’t fixed in the broad 6 week range we’ll get to the point where Humpty Dumpty cannot be put back together again. I include it as a mile marker on consumables more than anything.

6 months- Same

12 months- You get the idea.

So unless I already owned one or had a big desire to buy one earlier based on this off the cuff methodology about the time I was working to progress from 6 weeks of preparedness to 3 months I would look towards purchasing a modern  military pattern rifle.

Well those are my thought on that. What do you think?