What Your Armory Needs

This is going to be an article about basics. The first item has to do with language. (I do teach English, after all.) An arsenal is a government facility for the storage and repair of weapons. Private citizens don’t have arsenals, no matter how many guns or how much ammunition they own. We have armories.

With that out of the way, let’s discuss what needs to be in one. I’m a gun nut. I wear the label proudly. But lots of people, either due to financial limitations or a busy life or whatnot, are concerned only with filling minimal needs. If you’re one of them, this is for you.

So to begin, a list of the firearms you should have:

1. Training

The first category, logically, is training. You need a handgun and a rifle, both in .22 Long Rifle. For the handgun, it can be a revolver or a semiautomatic–doesn’t matter. The point here is that for both hand and long gun, you will be able to learn the fundamental techniques of trigger discipline, trigger squeeze, aiming, holding, stance, and position with rounds that run under $20 per box of 550 (in good times…). You also will have the benefit of less report (but still wear hearing protection) and much less recoil. Those guns also typically don’t cost a pile of cash. If times go agley and the situation calls for it, a .22 is a good squirrel and rabbit dispatcher.

These are good options, though there are many:
Ruger Mk. III
Ruger 10/22

2. Personal defense

This means what you can have on you at all times–with due consideration given to the laws regulating such. There are two parts to this category:

A. Full-size handgun

We’ve discussed the caliber wars before, so I won’t go back through that, but I mean what’s called a service pistol or revolver with a standard capacity–six for the wheelgun and between eight and sixteen rounds for the self-loader. The advantage of one of these is that it’s big. That means the sight radius is longer, and the typical weight absorbs some of the recoil. The disadvantage is that it’s big. (There’s no free lunch.) A full-size handgun can be concealed–I do it all the time–but it takes more effort. Inside the waistband is a good way to carry one, though plenty of people go for shoulder holsters or other arrangements. I have a preference for single action for a belt gun, though I’ve of late been dallying with a double-action only gun that has a butter-smooth trigger.

Here’s one I love:
the M1911.

B. Pocket gun

But there are times when you just have to run out for a candy bar or a gallon of gas and don’t feel like strapping on the heavy artillery. For times like that, a pocket gun fits the bill–and your pocket, naturally. I like revolvers for this job, because they’re more tolerant of lint. A pocket holster is a good idea, though not essential. Such an accessory will save the pocket material from getting holes torn by the sights. Do not under any circumstances allow anything other than the gun and its holster in that pocket. No keys, no change, no sticks of gum, nothing. Pocket guns should be double action with a reasonably heavy trigger. Yes, some can be cocked to single action, but (in modern designs) keep the thing in Condition Two in situ.

This is a good choice, but certainly again, not the only one:
a Smith & Wesson Model 642.

3. Home defense

Here’s where the shotgun comes in. We can debate endlessly whether a handgun or a rifle or a shotgun is better, but the scattergun is something that is simple to operate and simple to understand. There are lots of interesting gauges, but for this purpose, and in fact for most purposes, you want a twelve or a twenty gauge.

This one
is tricked out with a lot of doodads, but the Remington 870 can take that and still provide good work. Or it can be plain and simple. One particularly good thing here is that you can change out barrels–a twenty incher for the home and a longer one for hunting.

Shotguns do kick, and their pellets will go through dry wall, so don’t let a home invasion be the first time you shoot the thing, and keep in mind what’s down range. (This is true about everything in this article, of course.) Your handguns will make decent home defense guns, too, but a long gun provides enough power to feel comfortable about, whereas all handgun cartridges are something we tolerate when that’s the most we can have.

4. Action at a distance

Here I mean hunting, primarily, but this could also involve a zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, or some other unfortunate incident in which something bad needs to be settled. To reach out and touch the aforementioned thing over there, you need a centerfire rifle. Here I’ll give caliber recommendations: .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, or .30-’06. There are others, but those are common and powerful enough to do the job on this continent up to (and including in a pinch) the great bears.
That’s a Springfield M1903 with a scope, but again, the choices here are many. These kick as well, so get in some range time.

And that’s it. Six guns. Some will complain that I didn’t include a semiautomatic, detachable-magazine fed, plastic-furniture, and fancy-sights carbine.
Myeh, I was talking the basics. The Rooney gun there may be good for a lot of things, but most of the time, what it can do, the ones I named above can do better. Of course, if you want one, have it. I’m not pushing regulations here, just practicality.

The point of this exercise is to examine what a basic armory is. Suggestions are welcome, and updates are possible. Let the discussion begin.


4 thoughts on “What Your Armory Needs

  1. Retired Mustang

    What’s not to like about a post that endorses most of my favorite calibers and gauges? I have found that far many people take the .22 far less seriously than they should, both in terms of what it can do and its value as a regular training round. Nicely done, Greg.

  2. Retired Mustang

    At the risk of paying undue homage to my favorite rifle caliber, there are two things to consider for long range weapons. First, in my experience, long action rounds tend to kick more than ballistically similar short action rounds. This may be a consideration for those who are particularly recoil sensitive but looking for a rifle capable of taking down any animal native to this continent. Second, every bench rest shooter and sniper I know confirms what my experience tells me. The .308 is inherently more accurate than either the .270 or the .30-’06 (though both of these are capable of greater accuracy than most shooters). While I’m not nearly as recoil sensitive as I was when I was younger, I find the .308 much more pleasant to shoot. Given my belief that all other things being equal, shot placement is everything, I can’t imagine me using anything else for distances beyond about 200 meters.

    1. Greg Camp

      Interesting point–to me, recoil is fun, so I don’t pay much attention to the differences, but I can see why a softer push would matter to some.

  3. Pingback: Sturm und Drang | Greg Camp's Weblog

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