As I was stacking a new box of 30-30 Winchester (Remington core-lokt 150 grain) and a box of 12 gauge slugs on the shelf, I started thinking about having a well rounded ammunition stockpile.
When talking about ammunition, we need to realize that there is no perfect answer. I live and hunt in southeast Texas, my longest shots are in the 125 yard range. 200 yards is a long shot for this area. The only place we get to see 200 yards, much less shoot that far is either on a pipeline or a highline.
In New Mexico, west Texas, Arizona, Colorado,,, 200 yards might be a short shot.
Someone in the south with dense timber will probably do just fine with a 30-30 or 308. Someone making 200 and 300 yard shots may need a 25-06, 7mm magnum, 300 Winchester magnum, 30-06,,,. Someone in Alaska where grizzly is an everyday threat, maybe something like a 338 Winchester Magnum, 375 H&H or 12 gauge slug.
Lets use this article as a generalization, rather then an exact science.
To kick off the discussion, lets start with the two boxes I bought today:
When talking to survivalist, they seem to be divided into two groups – people that do, and people that talk.
Recently I asked the people on the SurvivalistBoards facebook page what rifle calibers they hunt with. I made sure to specify what calibers they currently own and use, and not what calibers they plan on buying.
For my area, its the 30-30, 308 and 280. Available game are hogs and whitetail deer. Longest shot is going to be around 125 yards. If you are on a pipeline or highline, shots might get out to the 200 yard mark. The rolling hills and thick timber stop the shots from being too long.
Some of the answers I received:
12 gauge, use it for everything from pheasant and ducks to Deer and bear. I hunting mostly swampy areas so no long shots.
.270 east Texas… hogs, deer, coyotes, 130gr Winchester ballistic tip nosler. stops them in their tracks with minimal meat loss.
.308 BLR. If I was to use something else it would probably be a .30-30.
If you were going to pick a .30 caliber rifle for a SHTFsurvival rifle, which one would it be? The contestants are: 7.62×39, 30-30, 308 and the 30-06. Lets take a look at each of those calibers, and what rifles their currently available in.
For the sake of discussion, the 30-06 is the largest caliber that will listed in this article.
7.62X39 – made famous by the AK-47 and SKS, developed in 1943, has seen service in major conflicts all over the world, available in civilian rifles such as the Ruger Mini-30 and various bolt action rifles.
There are at least 3 things that makes the 7.62X39 a good choice as a survival rifle – 1. Availability of ammunition, 2. Availability of rifles, 3. Low recoil.
With post-soviet block countries strapped for cash, many of them have decided to sell off their surplus semi-automatic rifles, and surplus ammunition. In the 1990s, $200 would get you an SKS and a case of 7.62X39 hollow point ammo. Over time the price of AK-47s, SKSs, and 7.62X39 ammunition has crept up, but its still reasonably priced.
Firing a 123 grain full metal jacket or soft point, the 7.62X39 is well rounded for deer and wild hog sized game.
Since most of the rifles that fire the 7.62X39 are semi-automatic, this makes it a good choice for recoil sensitive people, or people who do not like the full sized rifle cartridges.
My daughter is about ready for her first deer rifle, but I’am not quite sure which direction I should go. All of my other kids have a Marlin 336 in 30-30. For here in East Texas most of our shots are no more then 100 yards, and she will not want anything with recoil. With these east Texas deer, we are talking maybe 125 – 150 pounds.
I would like to stay away from calibers like the 270, 280 and the 30-06, they have too much recoil. On the flip side the coin, I don’t care for shooting deer with the 6mm or 243 either. The smallest diameter caliber I would go with would maybe the 257 Roberts.
A few of my first options:
Ruger Mini-30 in 7.62X39 – semi-auto, 30 caliber bullet and effective out to our average range of 100 yards. The semi-automatic action will help cut down on recoil, but I’am not real sure of the accuracy. The 7.62X39 does not kick to start with, and the action of the Ruger Mini-30 will just help reduce it that much more.
Marlin 336 in 30-30 – since we have several 30-30s in the family already, ammo will not be a problem. In the past 100 plus years the 30-30 has proven time and time gain to be effective on deer sized game. Mossberg recently came out with a lever action rifle, but I like the idea of having all of the rifles made by the same company. Its nothing against Mossberg, but I have already invested a lot of money into Marlin.
Remington model 7 in 308 Winchester – bolt action accuracy with the effective stopping power of the 308. I first saw the Remington model 7 last hunting season, my nephew used his model 7 to take a couple of East Texas whitetail deer. That 308 and Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt was very effective, to say the least.
It was the last weekend of regular deer season, saturday night. A long time member of the deer lease drives up to the camp, and backs his truck up to the scales. That is usually a sure sign that there is a deer in the back of the truck. They get the doe weighed and are stringing it up to skin when I walk out there.
As the skinning of the deer proceeds, there are a few of us standing around helping and watching. The topic turns to the cost of ammunition and bullet performance.
Like a lot of hunters, I tend to buy the cheapest ammo on the shelf – and that is usually Remington Core-Lokt. Over the past 14,,,, 15+ years Core-Lokt is about all that I have bought and shot deer with. During that time I have had no complaints. There is usually a hole going in and a larger hole going out.
The guy who shot the doe goes on to talk about Remington Core-Lokt and how he has since switched to Winchester softpoints. The rifle the guy used was a 270,,,, I do not remember the exact make or model. After talking for a little while, the person who shot the whitetail deer said that he has not been happy with the performance of the Remington Core-Lokt lately and that he felt it may not be expanding like it should. So he switched to the Winchester softpoints.
Whitetail deer taken with 270 remington
I can say one thing about the doe that was being skinned, there was a massive amount of bruising, bleeding and tissue damage. It was like the whole area where the bullet went through had residual damage to the surrendering tissue.
Doing a mental comparison of the deer that was shot with a 270 and Winchester softpoints, and the deer that my son took a couple of years ago with a Marlin 30-30 and Remington Core-Lokt – the 270 caused more tissue damage – both rifles were shooting 150 grain bullet. The 270 travels at a higher velocity then the 30-30, but the 30-30 is a larger in diameter bullet.
If you were going to pick two firearms – 1 small caliber rifle, 1 medium or large caliber rifle, or a shotgun, which firearms would it be? These do not “have” to be considered survival rifles or a survival shotgun, but firearms that you may shoot with all year long. The two firearm combination should be diverse enough to take everything from small game to the largest game in your area. Someone that lives in Alaska and who might run into a grizzly bear will have different rifles needs then someone that lives in Texas or Florida – because there aint no grizzly bears in Texas or Florida.
The purpose of a “survival firearm” is a little different then a Main Battle Rifle (MBR). While an MBR is designed for the military and combat, survivalist need something that is not expensive, very reliable, and effective for harvesting wild game. Which would be the better invest, a single M1a or 3 Marlin 336s in 30-30? Price is a factor here. For certain people money may not be an issue. But for most people, dropping $1,000 into a single rifle is just not feasible.
Marlin model 336 and Marlin model 60:
Whitetail deer taken with a Marlin 336 in 30-30
Marlin model 336 – chambered in 30-30 is more then adequate for just about anything in the southern United States. The recoil of the 30-30 is not excessive, the ammunition is popular so it can be found just about anywhere, the ammunition is not expensive – so its not going to cost a fortune to stockpile 30-30 ammo, the rifle itself is not expensive – so buying more then 1 is not going to break the bank.
Lets just say that I like the Marlin 336 so much, that all three of my sons have 1. In all, my family has at least 4 Marlin 336 rifles.
When a new rifle cartridge is developed is does not take long for the public to form an opinion. From there the cartridge will take off and get popular, or its going to be forgotten about and will fade away to history. The popularity of the 30-30 is a testament to its reliability and stopping power for deer sized game. If the 30-30 was not an effective round, it would not be as popular as it is today.
Marlin model 60 – probably one of the best 22 rifles on the market. The model 60 is a tube fed, semi-auto rifle chambered in 22 long rifle – and its reliable and accurate.
The light weight of the Marlin model 60, combined with the 22 long rifle, makes this a great rifle for hunting squirrels and rabbits. This rifle is capable of taking anything smaller then a coyote, and without destroying a lot of the meat.
One of the most asked questions I see on the forum – “what is the best survival rifle?” A well balanced answer is, there is no perfect rifle. If you live in Alaska, your rifle needs are going to be a lot different then someone that lives in the Southern states. Its doubtful someone living in southern Florida is going to be running in Grizzly bears, like someone in someone in the Northern States might. If you live in Colorado, or Washington state you might be hunting elk or moose, while people in Louisiana, Alabama or Mississippi might be hunting whitetail deer or wild hogs.
1) Ruger 10/22 – semi-automatic, magazine fed, 22 caliber rifle. Its not one thing that sets the Ruger 10/22 apart, its the huge list – the reliability, the vast selection of accessories – magazines, scopes, barrels, stocks,,,,,, just all kinds of stuff. My personal Ruger 10/22 was bought in January of 1986, and is still going strong.
My first experience with a Ruger 10/22 was sometime in 1984 or 1985 when 3 of my buddies and I were on a 3 day camping trip. We loaded up an aluminum boat and headed out to one of the bayous close to Bridge City, Texas – this was sometime around 1984 or 1985. After eating lunch, Allen and I took the dishes to the bayou to wash them. While we were washing the dishes, we saw a nutria rat on the other side of the bayou. 1 shot with the Ruger 10/22 took care of the animal. Allen and I got in the aluminum boat we had used to reach the camping spot, and paddled across the bayou to retrieve the animal. We skinned the nutria rat and brought it back to the camping spot where it was roasted over a camp fire and eaten. Even though we had just eaten dinner, it was just canned chili and we were still hungry. The meat from that nutria rat really hit the spot.
After I handled the Ruger 10/22 on that 3 day camping trip, I knew I had to have one. From that day forward, the Ruger 10/22 has been one of my favorite survival rifles.
The 22 long rifle cartridge only compliments the 10/22. The 22 long rifle is cheap, easy to stockpile, does not have a loud report, easy to carry and has plenty of power to take small game – like the nutria rat. With prices ranging from $12 – $20 for a brick of 550 rounds, for people on a budget, the 22 long rifle is going to be a tough round to beat.