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Stockpiling Firearms For SHTF

How many people have more then firearm per caliber? What is the point of stockpiling ammo, and then have one rifle that could break? Sure people have spare parts, but spare parts do not help your buddies hunt with you.

Part of my plans call for a worse case situation, meaning I have friends or family members show up at my front door with nothing but clothes. The food starts to run out, so we head to the camp to plant a garden and do some hunting.

What firearms do you have that you can hand to a friend or family member and say “here ya go”? Its easy to pick up a spare 22 rifle from time to time, but its another thing to have 2 or 3 rifles in 308 or 30-30.

In my opinion, a well rounded plan should include the ability to provide assistance to other members of your group.  Shooting ability, size of the game, shooting experience,,,, should all be considered.

Hunting after SHTF

In my eyes, hunting after some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI event will be divided into 2 categories – large/medium and small game.

Depending on where you live, that will define what caliber and types of ammo you need. Someone living in Alaska will probably need a different caliber then someone in the south hunting thin skinned whitetail deer. But regardless of where you live, small game is small game. The difference between a Georgia squirrel and a Colorado squirrel is not going to be very much.

Deer hunting with a bolt action 270 Winchester

Lets say that some kind of worse case situation happens. There is some kind of new viral outbreak, society has broken down, stores no longer have food,,,. A few weeks later your close friends and family members show up at your house looking for help. Because your food supplies are running low, the decision is made to bug out to the remote camp, plant a garden and start hunting.

You get to the camp, get up the next morning, instruct one of the adults to get in a deer stand overlooking a field. The problem is, the adult does not have a rifle. What spare rifle do you have that you can hand someone to hunt with? Do you have a spare 243, spare 30-30, spare 270, spare 280/7mm express, spare 308, spare SKS in 7.62×39, spare 30-06,,,,?

One of the problems with stockpiling firearms and ammo for a SHTF survival situation, people usually buy a variety of firearms. A lot of people might stock spare bolt assemblies for the AR-15, but that does not help with the bolt action 308.  With 2 identical firearms, you have a complete set of spare parts.  This is why its important for groups to discuss what types and caliber of firearms to buy before purchases are made.

Related Article – Top 5 SHTF survival Rifles


Several years ago a buddy of mine and I talked about buying matching firearms.  After much debate we decided to get a Ruger mini-30.  Even though we had already bought various other firearms, we decided it would be in the best interest of the group if we would have a couple of matching firearms.  The Mini-30 was picked because we were already stockpiling 7.62×39 for the SKS, the mini-30 was easy to shoot, and it was made in the USA.

Besides rifles like the Mini-30 and the SKS, there are all kinds of military surplus rifles that are not expensive and can be found just about anywhere.

  • MAS 49/56
  • Mosin Nagant
  • Swiss K-31 Rifle Schmidt Rubin
  • SAIGA- 12
  • M-76 Sporter Rifle
  • WASR-10 AK47

And various other rifle and shotguns.

Communicate with your group, and groups in your area, discuss what would be the best caliber for the size game in your area and go from there.

A buddy of mine from decades ago had an old German 8mm bolt action rifle. The 8mm would be plenty for deer and hog sized game in our neck of the woods, but I do not know if those rifles are still on the market.


Before making a group purchase, keep in mind the 30-06 is about the largest caliber the majority of people can shoot effectively. Because of this, I suggest people look at something in the 308 range before going to the 30-06.

Will the firearm be used by certain people in the group, or the will the firearm be used by the majority of the people?  Can the majority of the people in the group shoot a 30-30 effectively, or how about a 308, or a 300 Winchester magnum.

What is the largest game animal in the area, is it deer, antelope, grizzly, black bear, polar bear, hogs, mule deer, elk, moose,,,, or something else?  Always use a caliber that is well suited for taking the animal in an effective and humane manner.  In other words, always use enough gun to get the job done.

Calibers, Rifles and Shotguns

22 long rifle – Ruger 10/22 or Marlin model 60.

223 Remington / 5.56mm – AR-15, Mini-14, Remington 770, Remington model 700, Weatherby Vanguard, Mossberg ATR, Spikes Tactical, BCM,,.

Lever action 30-30 Winchester – Marlin 336, Mossberg 464, Winchester 94.

Just about all other calibers – There are too many brand names,  makes and models to list them all, but here are a few Remington 770, Remington model 700, Weatherby Vanguard, Mossberg ATR, Remington R-15, Sako, Savage, Winchester, Springfield Armory, Browning,,,, too many to list.

Wild boar hog taken with 30-06 Springfield

Back in the 1990s, a buddy of mine and I talked about stocking up on SKSs, and then handing out an SKS to whoever needs a rifle. With the prices of SKSs going through the roof, that is no longer an option.

A few years ago Remington introduced the Model 770, which is bolt action and includes a factory mounted scope that has been bore sighted. At a price of around $299 – $350, its not going to break the bank. If you are looking for an economy rifle, the Remington 770 is going to be difficult to beat.

For the shotgun, the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870 Express are difficult to beat.

The difference between the 500 and the 590, the 590 does not have a removable choke, and the 590 has a shorter barrel.

#6 and #8 shot might be good for birds, but its not good for ducks, turkey, squirrel or rabbits.

When you are trying to knock fox squirrels out of the top of a 100 feet tall pine tree, your going to need something like #4 shot.  #6 shot does not have enough mass to break the ribs, enter the chest cavity and kill the animal.

The same thing goes for rabbits.  A few years ago a buddy of mine used #6 shot on a rabbit, and it kept running after getting hit.  When I fired off a round of 12 gauge #4 shot, the rabbit stopped dead in its tracks.  When we were skinning the rabbit, we found the #6 shot was stopped by the rib cage.

Don’t Buy Junk

When the life of you and your family are on the line, there is no excuse to buy bottom of the barrel survival gear.  If / when SHTF, do you want a firearm that has been proven and reliable, or do you want something that jams ever few rounds.

But on the other hand, there is no reason to buy the most expensive products on the market.

There comes a point when the extra cost does not justify a better quality product.

Some of the popular gun magazines on the market rarely mention, much less recommend anything but top of the line.  This also means the most expensive.  Instead of talking about $400 – $700 rifles, those magazines talk about $1,200, $1,300 and $1,400 rifles.

Why buy a $1,400 rifle, when a $400 rifle will do just as good?  Why fork out $1,400 on a single rifle, when you can get 3 $400 rifles + ammo, or 2 $600 rifles + ammo.

The same goes for shotguns, why buy a $1,000+ shotgun, when you can get 2 or 4 Mossbergs or Remingtons for the same price?

But as stated before, do not buy bottom of the barrel junk.

Do your research, and get the best value for your budget.

Stockpiling Ammunition

My family stocks about 9 different types of rifle ammunition:

  • 22 long rifle
  • 22 magnum
  • 223 Remington
  • 7.62×39
  • 30-30 Winchester
  • 270 Winchester
  • 280 Remington
  • 308 Winchester
  • 30-06 Springfield

Those are the the major calibers we shoot, but a couple might have been overlooked.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to agree on a couple of standard calibers and focus on those, instead of having such a wide variety.  But that is what happens over the decades, someone picks up a rifle here, another rifle there, another one for Christmas, another one for a birthday,,,,,.  Before long you have an array of calibers on hand.

There is nothing wrong with having a wide selection of rifles and calibers, but for the sake of stockpiling ammo for SHTF, try to focus on 2 or 3 calibers.

Small sized game – 22 long rifle, 22 magnum

Defensive round – 223 and 7.62×39

Medium sized game – 30-30, 270, 280, 308, 30-06,,,,,.

For the small game rifles and rifles in the defensive category the options seem to be pretty straight forward, either a Ruger 10/22, Marlin model 60, AR-15, AK-47, Mini-14 or Mini-30.  There are lots of other options, but those the ones that most people use.

I think its when the larger calibers come into play is when most of the variety kicks-in. There are so many good quality rifles, and so many proven rounds on the market it’s difficult not to collect different rifles and calibers over the years.

But anyway, good luck in your survival preps and take care.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018