Eucalyptus Now

Over at Shooting Times, Rick Mann looks at what he considers to be the four best SHTF rifles — what he terms “Apocalypse-Ready Rifles” — and has devised a test to determine which one is best.

I’m not going to pick holes in his test — it seems quite adequate — and I actually agree with his rationale (e.g. “Granted, cataclysmic conditions of ruin can run the gambit from a camping trip gone bad to total anarchy.” )

As I’m unlikely ever to go on any camping trip which doesn’t include the words “Holiday Inn”, I’m not going to pick two of his choices (the .30-30 lever rifle and the .308 Win boltie), fine weapons though they may be.  No, from where I’m sitting, the most likely scenario is civil breakdown and disorder caused by natural disasters (which could likely cause prolonged power outages, food shortages and such), or else a truly bad situation like a BLM- / Antifa-inspired riot.  In both cases, what’s needed is something for home / property defense (if caught in a riot), and something which would also allow me to do things like pay a visit to a local supermarket for a little un-monetized food collection (the fancy term for looting).

Well, you all know my first choice:

…and if I ever wanted to get fancy, I could always improve the crappy iron sights on the AK with some kind of red-dot sighting apparatus, thus:

I know, some people are going to prefer the Waffen Durch Plastik  AR-15, and while I deplore the choice (I mean, all that plastic… think of the environment, people!), I’ve come to the point of view that you go with what you feel comfortable using — and as most gunnies of my acquaintance have served in the (e.g. Doc Russia, Combat Controller etc.), the AR would be a logical choice for them.

(Over The Pond, and following his service in the Paras, Mr. Free Market’s rifle of choice would no doubt  be the FN-FAL — or whatever the Brits called it — but sadly, H.M. Government says that the icky things are Just Too Dangerous or some such nonsense, so he’d have to be content with picking off fuzzy-wuzzies from his rooftop with his trusty Blaser R8 .300 Win Mag.  I for one would pay money to be able to watch that.)

Where was I?  Oh yes, the SHTF rifle choices.

I have to say that for my Readers who live in rural areas, where one could forage for dinner amidst the wild beasties who frolic in the fields, the .308 bolt rifle would be an outstanding choice — although I’d probably choose a .300 Win Mag chambering instead — and if the terrain is heavily wooded, the .30-30 lever rifle would be equally effective.

Mann’s observation about ammo is, I think, quite on the mark:

Sustainment for months is unlikely, so being able to “pick up” ammo—while potentially important—is not a realistic necessity. What’s more important is how much ammo you can comfortably carry.

Here’s my take:  outside the scenario of actual guerilla warfare (ain’t gonna happen, not in this country, Red Dawn fantasies notwithstanding), you aren’t going to run out of ammo.  Seriously, if you think you’re going to need more than a couple-three magazines for your rifle, what you need is not more ammo but more people to support you.  Myself, I could not see myself taking the AK for an outing with any more than two 20-round magazines.  Ammo is heavy, Bubba, and I’m not young and fit anymore.  More than two, and I’d keep them in the car instead.  The amount of ammo on hand is another story, of course, but you all know my “500” rule — a minimum of 500 rounds per  gun (with an exception for exotic calibers like .375 H&H or 7mm Jap).

All this is fun to wargame out, isn’t it?  Even though it is an unlikely scenario, I try not to wander too deep into the Gun Dork Forest, because that’s like drawing up a comprehensive financial plan for when you win the $100-million lottery:  fun, but after a certain point it’s just wasting time.

I do think, however, that some planning is not only necessary, it’s prudent.  You don’t want to be like those morons in New Orleans who, when Hurricane Katrina was about to come calling, arrived at the shelters carrying nothing but a Pepsi Big Gulp.  In a dire SHTF situation, my plan involves staying in place and defending the apartment.  If that’s untenable, then I’ll be loading my Grab ‘n Go* tubs, emergency water cans and the necessary guns and ammo into the Tiguan, and making my way over to Doc Russia’s fortress house.

Call me unprepared if you will, but I’m not a dummy.

*Yes, I still have them, just with fresh supplies.  If anyone’s interested, I’ll post pics of them some other time, after I’ve moved.


  1. Hey now, the only plastic on my AR is the grip and the stock! Everything else is aluminum or steel.

  2. Unless you can hole up at home, I don’t think a long gun of ANY type is a good SHTF weapon.

    If you are wandering the city during times of civil unrest, a guy not in uniform with a long gun on his back is likely to get shot without warning by the police/national guard.

    I’d say any decent handgun would be good, and it helps if it’s something that won’t break your heart if it gets confiscated. IOW don’t plan on using granddad’s priceless old Luger that he brought back from Germany. An inexpensive .38 revolver or .22 semi auto is probably a better choice.

    And if your plan is to fortify your home as a bunker to fend off the hordes, then it would seem what you really need is to move to a better neighborhood now, BEFORE the SHTF.

    I don’t know about your neck of the woods but in my outer-suburban Denver neighborhood the likelihood of being besieged by angry rioters is probably somewhere below “Rocky Mountain Huricane” and only a notch or two above “Alien Anal Probe Invasion.” For that reason all my guns are locked up except for the nightstand .38.

    1. I think having a rifle and planning to vaguely just walk around with it in town are very different things.

      I could see say having it in a vehicle while you do whatever errands must be done. 1-2 people go to run the errand armed with concealed pistols. Another 1-2 people wait with the car with rifles ready to deploy if needed but reasonably concealed. Rifles for the other folks are in the car.

      Or say if I had to be walking around a rifle with a folding stock can be discretely carried in a case for one of those $10 folding chairs.

  3. From memory, the ammo pack-out for a South African soldier doing combat patrols in a “hot” area on the Angolan border was four 20-round mags plus the one in the R1 (FN-FAL) rifle: 100 rounds in all. I seriously doubt I’d need half that in any U.S.-based SHTF scenario, hence my choice of (only) two mags.
    As for carrying it out in the open, I wouldn’t. The AK would be in the car and not taken out except in an extreme emergency. Remember, I carry a 1911, and my ammo pack-out for that would be four 10-round Chip McCormicks plus the one in the 1911 and whatever spare 8-rounders I already keep in the car.
    And if there’s even a chance of a 43-round confrontation, I’ll be outta there long before the first shot is fired.
    Forget confiscation. Ain’t gonna happen, one way or the other.

    1. I think 2x20rd mags is a bit light. My load out is more like 3-4x 30 rd mags.

      I can’t see a civilian type shooting situation getting past that.

      1. Wait, taking a step back do you mean 2×20 in addition to the one in the gun or a total of 2 including the one in the gun?

  4. One of the minor reasons I got a CZ Skorpion Evo III was I can put it in a computer case or backpack with the brace folded. Plus it’s a fairly fun little 9mm to shoot.

    1. It’s manly to like pink if your granddaughter decrees it. And I’mna good with that. 😉

  5. And I’d feel underdressed with fewer than 7 30 rounders. Not saying I’d be packing but they’d be nearby, along with a couple cans of loaded stripper clips. I’mna still a fan of the late Mel Tappan’s SHTF philosophy, find yourself a self sufficient community in the 10-15,000 pop range, move there now and be a good neighbor, show that you have value for the community. And be able to contribute with something other than being able to shoot stuff.

  6. Oh also I would be interested in seeing the emergency load out. Probably pretty similar to most but may give me a good idea or just inspire motivation to go back through my stuff.

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