5 Firearms to Survive Pt. 1

5 Firearms you need to survive a major event

I get asked all the time, “What gun should I have to survive a major event?” and the answer isn’t as simple as “buy an AR” or “get a shotgun” (🙄). You have to think in terms of short-term survival, long-term survival, sustainment, close-quarters combat, long-range battle, ammo availability, replacement/repair parts, etc. For short-term events like civil unrest or bad weather a single firearm may get you through, two on this list for sure. For longer issues like a pandemic-turned-violent, you will need at least two, maybe even three. If you’re thinking of a full-on Civil War or permanent grid collapse… yeah, you’re going to need the full list.

Just don’t forget that you don’t need to go top-tier on anything on this list, especially because there are limiting factors on each item. You want to make a pistol most effective? Get a red dot, a light, holster, etc. Thinking a bolt-gun would make you more survivable? You’re going to want a quality optic, bipod, sling, and likely, a suppressor. Don’t take any of these weapons at face value as they can all be customized and supplemented with more equipment and better quality components.

Remember, the main limiting factor here is YOU! I can put a Barrett M107A1 .50 Caliber sniper rifle with a $10,000 scope and precision machined, hand loaded rounds into the hands of anyone on the street, and less than 1% will be effective at a mile. Similarly, I can put a fancy Staccato 2011 with a Trijicon SRO and 124gr match loads into someone’s hands, and they aren’t going to have a sub-second draw or run a Bill Drill in under 4 seconds. YOU CANNOT BUY PERFORMANCE, and therefore, you cannot BUY survivability. TRAIN! Get ammo, get instruction from a variety of professionals, and spend time learning your platform. Nothing on this list matters if you don’t train with it.


  • Key Points: 9mm pistol. Remember, this is survival! .40 calibers are perfectly fine guns, .45s are amazing and lots of fun to shoot, but ammo is not going to be readily available. 9mm is EVERYWHERE! Let’s also not forget that not everyone can handle the recoil from dumping mag after mag of snappier rounds like .45ACP and 10mm. As for revolver calibers like .38, 357, .44, etc. not only are you looking at scarce ammo, but revolvers are going to be slower for reloads and don’t offer the option of running a suppressor. All of the pistols on this list can host red dot sights, flashlights, and with at most a barrel swap, a suppressor.
  • Budget: Glock G19 MOS - The workhorse of pistols. The Glock G19 is the biggest bang for your buck in the pistol world, and the MOS comes from the factory ready to mount a red dot optic. You can start off with the basic, intro level Glock G19 with 15 rounds in the mag and 1 in the tube, light ready, red dot ready, and head to the range. Then, you can go full-on Barbie for big boys custom and modify literally EVERYTHING. New trigger? Sure thing. Suppressor height sights? Yup. Threaded barrel for a comp or suppressor? Too easy! 30 round mag? Yeah… just because you can doesn’t mean you should, but you can… You can gut this pistol and upgrade everything about it and just keep trucking or just throw it in a holster and get some range time. In a survival scenario, you’ll be able to get replacement parts, magazines, holsters, and anything else you need in almost every cop car and gun collection in the country. Another reason to run the 19 vs something like the G17 or G45 is because a G19 can run 15, 17, 21, or 30 round magazines, but the G17 and G45 can only run 17+. This means that if you find a 15 round Glock mag somewhere, it will be useless to your G17, but your G19 can run a larger magazine all day!
  • Mid-Tier: Sig P320 - A real cadillac of a pistol, and recently adopted by the US Army and Marine Corps in two different configurations in the forms of the M17 and M18. The P320 has dozens of different configurations from a basic 320 to compensated, race-gun setups that can cost thousands. Almost every model of 320 allows for a light and red dot to be mounted on them, but the standard magazine for this platform holds either 17 or 21 rounds, giving a slight edge on the basic Glock. The platform is highly modular, but the availability of aftermarket parts isn’t on par with the Glock, nor are they as easy to work on. You’ll need a bit of knowledge around gunsmithing to really get into the nitty-gritty of changing up your 320. Once the military makes the M17/M18 more widely distributed you’ll have options for basic replacement parts and magazines from just about any HMMWV or military vehicle you come across, but in the meantime you’ll have to rely on the fact that many police departments that don’t run Glocks are running these platforms, and they are also incredibly popular in the gun owner community.
  • Bougie: A 2011- Man… you’ve got money to burn! Congrats! You are going to be putting it into a highly functional, refined piece of hardware to ride out the threat in style 😎! These pistols are super luxurious, a Bently in the firearms world and you WILL pay for them. They include some of the top-tier options (see Staccato, Nighthawk Customs, Atlas, etc.), and will definitely get you where you need to go. The all metal construction of these platforms adds weight to your pistol, which is a double edged sword. A heavier weapon means better resistance to recoil and faster follow-up shots, but it also means having to lug around a heavier weapon. The Staccatos have a roughly 4 lb, butter smooth trigger, a magazine well and are comfortable in the hand of almost every shooter, but they require a committed grip to run smoothly. These may be the most finicky platform on the pistol list, but they will absolutely deliver precision with 17+1 or 20+1 capacity. Make sure you take the opportunity to grab extra mags, a holster, and a repair kit when you order, because unless you decide to take on your local IDPA club, you aren’t going to find anything for your pistol after the event happens. You won’t regret getting one, but it will be overkill for most shooters when it comes to survival.

Tune in for the next installment of "5 Firearms to Survive!"