SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Discuss survival and preparedness strategies. What will you do when the zombies come to get us?

SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby Mindflayer » Sun, 10 Oct 2010 22:13:41

Wanted to gather some thoughts on you choice of calibers and platform across your collection for when the SHTF. This is a discussion we've had on another forum, and the responses have been interesting. Quite a few folks have stated they have 2 Ruger 10/22s and a boatload of 22LR stockpiled, and they consider that their SHTF platform and caliber. I brought up that I believe .223/5.56 NATO might be a better choice as the AR platform is pretty common now, and .223 is easy to find. The counter to that argument was that everyone would be looking for the same ammo if we truly did have a catastrophe, and the economies and ease of stockpiling .22LR made it a better choice. Some others argued the .308/7.62x51 is the better option as that ammo, too, is readily available, and offers greater stopping power if things really did go to hell. All interesting arguments over the [strike]inevitable[/strike] hypothetical.

That brings up platform. I have a Ruger SR-556. Since it's not a gas DI, if I need parts, I'd be screwed. So, it makes sense to cover the bases and have another rifle. Of course, economics are involved, so perhaps another SR-556 is not the best option. Do I buy another rifle in .223/5.56 so I have cross-platform ammo? Or do I cover another base and buy something based on the .308? How about the 7.62x39 caliber that is ubiquitous in other parts of the world?


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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby grumpyMSG » Sun, 10 Oct 2010 22:49:17

I believe you have another possible option, getting another upper for your rifle. I would think the Ruger lower is similar to other ARs. Why not look at using another upper with your lower? If you were in the valley I would happily look at your lower and try to pin one of my uppers on it and see if it would function properly. You could look at a 20-24 inch barreled upper with a scope for longer range shooting or another caliber such as 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel.

I would consider other popular calibers in a bolt action rifle such as .30-06, .270, .25-06 and .243. Remington 700s can be found in the $500 dollar range and Savage, Mossberg and Marlin have offerings in the $300-400 range that even come with a 3X9 scope. As for Ammo availability, do you remember how difficult it was to find some rounds a year ago? I think you could trade a small child for some .380 or .45 ACP. It would be a whole lot easier to stockpile .22 LR ammo. You can probably get 3000-4000 rounds to fit in a .50 cal ammo can for around $200-250 versus 840-1000 of .223 which would cost about double the .22 for a decent brand ammo.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby Jim » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 06:54:29

I'm not exactly in a unique situation, but it is different from urban/suburban life. I live about 5 miles from a small rural town of less than 500. I have one neighbor about 200 yds. away and the next one is measured in miles.
Out here, everybody knows that, if you get caught trying to storm your neighbor's house, you're going to show up missing. On the other hand, if you knock on his door, introduce yourself and explain your dilemma, you're likely to get some help.
All of that being said, the mindset of the people in this area toward prepping for a SHTF scenario is about survival, not self defense.
There most definitely are some ARs and SKSs in some homes around here, but most of what you'll see are scoped bolt rifles that will put meat on the table. Lots of guys have at least simple setups to reloads for their meat rifles. A few trays of primers, a pound or two of powder and a coupla' hunnerd bullets. The way these boys operate, a coupla' hunnerd bullets will put a coupla' hunnerd deer in the smoke house.
There's no sense in asking for ammunition, either with barter or cash. When things go south and it comes down to feeding hungry mouths, they'll tell you real quick "I'll give you a piece of meat, but I ain't got no ammo to spare."
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby jaywade » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 07:57:46

22 is good smalll game and such, it also might be enough to scare away some attackers w/o even firing a shot.... a AR platform is a must have IMO for SHTF stuff...ammo is everywhere, not too heavy you can have mult uppers. and perfect for the urban theather you'd be in, unles syou live out in the sticks


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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby allingeneral » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 08:54:04

I have to agree with the AR15 discussion so far. I'd say to stick with a single caliber for a second purchase. That way, you can stockpile a one caliber instead of multiple. And as for "7.62x39 caliber that is ubiquitous in other parts of the world"...well, do you plan on being in other parts of the world? :)

Also - don't ever discount the scatter gun. Everyone should have a 12 gauge around the house for those "up close and personal" moments.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby SgtBill » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 10:18:12

I will never know why some people don't think that a .22 cal. weapon will save their bacon both in short range and long range. I stock pile .22 cal. Federal Magnum shell's and .22 cal. Federal long rifle ammunition. I have a semi auto Marlin .22 cal. rifle and a bolt action .22 cal. magnum marlin rifle that will reach out and touch someone. No one on this board can tell me that they will stand up to a .22 cal. weapon in the right persons hands and still figure that they will survive.
Yers I also have many other's that I can and will use if need be in all type's of calibers from 7 m.m. magnum and my .270 winchester and my SKS and my AK 47 or Mac 90 whatever you wish to call it. I can and would keep meat in the freezer with the .22 Magnum or the .22 long rifle without a problem. As I have stated many times it is not the size of the slug but the placement of the shot.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby zephyp » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 12:04:45

I must agree with Bill. I've got a 10/22 and a .22WMR either of which would ring any bell out to 100+ yards...and yes I also keep an AR and AK handy in case things get crazy...one thing I also consider are trusted neighbors who might be willing to get behind a rifle if the SHTF and stand shoulder to shoulder with you...pays to keep extras on hand...
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby gunderwood » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 14:46:36

Starting with the gun/ammo is putting the cart before the horse. You must define the most probably situations, your needs and likely actions first. A .22LR may be ideal for some situations and useless in others.

Here are some questions:

1. What am I shooting at and why?

Is it purely defensive (if so of what? Your house, a tent, etc?) or do I need some level of offensive capability. Are looters/zombies possible? Is the rifle just for food; I.e. self-defense is left to the handgun? Expand it.

2. What are the likely ranges? Max?

Start with the "extremes," but it should flow from answers given to #1. Do I need a 1000 yard sniper rifle? Probably not...but 100 yards? Your primary weapon should be capable of engaging the threats at these distances and defeating them. Handguns as backups are always welcome.

3. How do the answers change if I have to bug out vice stay?

Keep running with it. Tell a story. When you can describe the likely situations in some detail, now you have something to evaluate against. Until then no one has any structure to evaluate alternatives against your baseline.

Edit: SHTF has too much variance to really discuss until you narrow it down.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby zephyp » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 15:26:51

@Garrett - the best laid SHTF plans go to crap the moment the SHTF...any scenario will evolve and become what it is going to become...difficult to control...having said that, yes I do indeed play with different scenarios for planning...mine have many variables being stuck here in Springfield where if the SHTF will not be a fun place to be or easy place to escape...assuming martial law will be declared early on my hope is to get out of the area at an opportune time...the alternative of staying does not appeal at all in certain scenarios.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby SgtBill » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 18:17:45

Dk, if the shtf and you and Young get out ok then head on down our way and we can back each other up.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby gunderwood » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 18:46:59

zephyp wrote:@Garrett - the best laid SHTF plans go to crap the moment the SHTF...any scenario will evolve and become what it is going to become...difficult to control...having said that, yes I do indeed play with different scenarios for planning...mine have many variables being stuck here in Springfield where if the SHTF will not be a fun place to be or easy place to escape...assuming martial law will be declared early on my hope is to get out of the area at an opportune time...the alternative of staying does not appeal at all in certain scenarios.

Yes. However, that doesn't invalidate making them if you do it right. For example, the Russians always made very detailed battle plans and their troops were trained to follow them to a T. They were given specific orders and expected to follow them. On the contrary, the US generally has provided the troops with a larger picture and a set of goals. Unlike the Russians, we expected our troops to change the tactical details based on the situation in order to achieve the goals. No string of set piece moves could ever accomplish that well...no matter how detailed.

The goal here is to identify key characteristics of your particular situation. Making inflexible plans is a guaranteed way to fail. However, a flexible, goal based approach will help you identify and prepare for most situations. Certainly there are things no amount of planning can account for, but that is no reason to throw up your hands and give up (if you are that kind of person you aren't likely to survive much of anything as your mental state is a critical component of any survival planing). A plan can not be treated as a set piece match, but rather must be understood as a decision making framework. The intent is not to make decisions, but rather to aid key survival decisions with well thought out scenarios.

I would tend to agree with the OP that .22LR is not ideal for most situations. It may be 100% optimal for certain criteria, but is far to specific of an application to be adequate preparation for a variety of SHTF scenarios. Just like the EMP thread. Given the probability of a successful EMP attack in which there is no retaliatory strikes thereby negating the EMP attack premise (i.e. most reasonable EMP attack scenarios in pop-culture would start WWIII and the next round of nukes wouldn't be EMPs...) is so small that riding your life of all electronics is probably not wise or practical. As another example, there were some well publicized companies who were selling "slots" for various SHTF bunkers and such. A simple analysis of these schemes indicates that there are numerous flaws in them. The likelihood that the participants could make it to those bunkers, they would not be overrun, etc., etc. is virtually zero.

Far too often people take odd actions to protect against extreme events rather than more reasonable actions to protect against more likely events. Unless you live in such a bunker and never leave it, the odds of actually surviving long enough to use those extreme protections is basically random or an act of God depending on your viewpoint.

In summary...

Selecting random criteria for evaluating your choices and actions is only marginally better than doing nothing at all.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby Mindflayer » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 19:14:03

gunderwood - I do, indeed, need to clarify the SHTF situations (and I somehow missed this entire forum!).

The three I was thinking of:

1) Mass rioting and the collapse of the rule of law. Think LA riots, but on a massive scale.
2) Natural disaster, either localized or regional/nation-wide. The civil government is trying to keep control at the macro level, but at the micro level, people are in dire straits. Think Katrina aftermath.
3) Zombies. (Fits into #2, but a little more cinematic.)


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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby zephyp » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 20:10:22

@Bill - thanks much and I do intend to head south...would love to back you up...

@Garrett - Russian doctrine, plans, etc are a very poor comparison. I served for years during the cold war and understand the doctrine quite well...it was very simple...no plan required...start with several hours of artillery saturated bombing...chemical rounds left to discretion of local commanders if they felt they could operate accordingly...move out en masse...pretty much the same as Nazi Blitzkrieg....overwhelm with sheer numbers...

There was no plan per se...only a couple of points...yes, follow orders was one, but the plan was simple...saturate with artillery and then roll over the enemy with massive numbers...oh and follow orders...made it quite difficult when there were only a certain number of vehicles that had radios...they were the command vehicles...who did they give orders to to follow? Beats the crap out of me...

Btw, have you ever stood and looked out over the Fulda Gap? Ever studied a Soviet battle plan? Ever had to walk the ground you were to lead men in combat knowing you would probably never leave if the SHTF...no plans there at all...only the knowledge that when they came they would come like water pouring from a burst dam...and they would not stop...

Yeah, we had plans...but most of us knew that plans meant squat...they only serve as a starting point. Something to make you think.

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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby gunderwood » Mon, 11 Oct 2010 20:33:19

Mindflayer wrote:gunderwood - I do, indeed, need to clarify the SHTF situations (and I somehow missed this entire forum!).

The three I was thinking of:

1) Mass rioting and the collapse of the rule of law. Think LA riots, but on a massive scale.
2) Natural disaster, either localized or regional/nation-wide. The civil government is trying to keep control at the macro level, but at the micro level, people are in dire straits. Think Katrina aftermath.
3) Zombies. (Fits into #2, but a little more cinematic.)

Keeping things simple, here is what I would suggest.

Scenario 1
Moving is a good way to die. It is likely that comms are poor and so you only have localized knowledge. Things may be bad in your area, but may be far worse elsewhere or even just along your route. Unless you see it coming and get out of town early, you are likely stuck until you are forced to move or obtain reasonably good intel that you can move safely. If you think about the logistics of moving, the attention you will draw and the high likelihood the military will be called in...unless you have no options or good intel, moving is a good way to die.

Given that you likely will be staying put, consider your immediate surroundings. You need to do the obvious things, but there are some not so obvious things to do. IMHO, the most important thing to do that isn't obvious is organized recon. This will inherently require that you expose yourself a bit, but it is absolutely worth it. The "common sense" thing to do is to hole up and hide. However, it is wrong. Consider the following.

Every form of military unit or group always establishes some form of recon because the fastest way to lose on a battlefield is lack of intel. Remember, no matter how good you and your weapons/armor are, you can't counter a threat unless you know it exists. As Patton said (paraphrasing), fixed fortifications are a monument to human stupidity. I would add that sometimes you have no choice, as in this scenario. The idea is that you are stationary and fixed while your enemy is not...humans adapt and are dang good at it. Also, for every defense there is an offensive weapon/tactic that effectively counters it. Part of the reason fighting from the high ground is so important is that you can see all your attackers and adapt your defenses. The quickest way to die is to not realize you are under attack until they thrust a dagger in your back. Organized recon is essential. The importance of gaining the high ground (for observation first, fighting second) and organized patrols can not be understated.

You don't want nor need long range patrols, but basic parameter is necessary.

I blurred these two together, but you must gain and hold the high ground. It gives you an observation post and a distinct advantage over the rioters. Consider the LA riots where shop keepers got on the roof even though the valuable they were trying to protect were below. Any rioter who made it into the store was home free until they tried to leave. The rioters generally didn't have the tools required to displace a shop keeper from the roof. They could have bum rushed him if he stayed in the store. Be prepared to say on your roof for long periods of time and organize a way to resupply once up there; food, water, ammo.

A key component of a riot is the lack of individual responsibility. Kind of like socialism :whistle: The rioters feel safe in their actions because they individually are unlikely to be harmed or held accountable. Take that from them and you likely won't have to fire a shot. The ideal weapon system has rapid fire and low recoil. AR15 in 5.56mm is king. It is instantly recognizable by virtually anyone as a deadly, but high rate of fire weapons system. What an AR15 says that a bolt action doesn't is: MF, I can take out half of you before you can bum rush me. A high likelihood of dying rushing one dude is not in the rioters handbook.

Caliber is likely irrelevant above a certain threshold for this scenario. While a .308 will likely kill a rioter faster than 5.56mm, I doubt it will get the mass to stop sooner. Rioters generally don't have body armor or medics so any centerfire rifle with a high rate of fire, regardless of caliber, is going to ruin their day. Also, several people with recognizable ARs (caliber independent) are likely to never need shooting; there is a visual message that can't be ignored. However, realize that if you are forced to shoot and they realize it is a .22LR or something, it might not be enough once they realize it is mostly ineffective. Hard to tell though. Never forget that a few versus the horde requires a weapon system that is effective with less than ideal shots. If you have to shoot a 1" circle at 100 yards to be effective, you need a bigger gun. Whatever provides reasonable stopping power with center of mass hits is enough.

Replacement parts are likely irrelevant too. There is not time to do gun-smithing during a firefight or standoff. If you need a backup, buy a second gun and have it handy. Replacement parts only make sense in lower intensity, long duration scenarios. The opposite is true for mags. Buy a lot and keep them loaded. You may not have time to reload mags or the chance to put your rifle down.

Shotguns are a good alternative, but reloading is slow and generally so is rate of accurate fire at anything besides very CQB.

Scenario 2
Similar to #1, but your long term food/water storage is more vital. Generally, less tactical organization will be required than #1 as most threats will tend to be much smaller. Several tens vice potentially hundreds. Visual deterrence is less important, but weapon system effectiveness is more so. Your attackers in this scenario are motivated by something very different, so standard 5.56mm may be a bit short on effectiveness. The heavier 75-77gr rounds are better (but more expensive). 6.8SPC is better still, but now all your rounds cost as much as the expensive 5.56mm. Some situations may require much better penetration so .308/slugs are an option too. Long range capability is even less likely IMHO than #1. I doubt anyone will pick something until they are very close. Handguns with HPs are vital.

Scenario 3
I'd say more like #1 than #2. Actually it is nearly identical to #1, but without the obvious visual deterrence. Rioters may not know that a rifle is unloaded (practically worst case...should have stockpiled more ammo), but zombies don't care either way.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby CowboyT » Tue, 12 Oct 2010 01:35:52

Gunderwood may have a point with the deterrent effect of the AR-15's recognizable appearance. The same would likely be true of an AK-47. I trust we all remember the post-Rodney King riots in LA and the Korean shopowners standing on the roofs with their AR-15's? Guess whose stores the looters left alone? Funny how that worked out, ain't it? :-)
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby gunderwood » Tue, 12 Oct 2010 07:24:03

CowboyT wrote:Gunderwood may have a point with the deterrent effect of the AR-15's recognizable appearance. The same would likely be true of an AK-47. I trust we all remember the post-Rodney King riots in LA and the Korean shopowners standing on the roofs with their AR-15's? Guess whose stores the looters left alone? Funny how that worked out, ain't it? :-)

Yes, the AK is just as good as the AR in the scenario. However, don't count on visual deterrence alone.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby allingeneral » Tue, 12 Oct 2010 07:47:47

zephyp wrote:@Bill - thanks much and I do intend to head south...would love to back you up...


Bill's cheap and easy too? *snicker*
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby zephyp » Tue, 12 Oct 2010 09:01:38

allingeneral wrote:
zephyp wrote:@Bill - thanks much and I do intend to head south...would love to back you up...


Bill's cheap and easy too? *snicker*


Oh, you dont know him as well as I do then...he'll have me doing chores in between my roving guard shifts... :hysterical:
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby gunderwood » Tue, 12 Oct 2010 13:23:21

zephyp wrote:@Garrett - Russian doctrine, plans, etc are a very poor comparison. I served for years during the cold war and understand the doctrine quite well...it was very simple...no plan required...start with several hours of artillery saturated bombing...chemical rounds left to discretion of local commanders if they felt they could operate accordingly...move out en masse...pretty much the same as Nazi Blitzkrieg....overwhelm with sheer numbers...

There was no plan per se...only a couple of points...yes, follow orders was one, but the plan was simple...saturate with artillery and then roll over the enemy with massive numbers...oh and follow orders...made it quite difficult when there were only a certain number of vehicles that had radios...they were the command vehicles...who did they give orders to to follow? Beats the crap out of me...

Btw, have you ever stood and looked out over the Fulda Gap? Ever studied a Soviet battle plan? Ever had to walk the ground you were to lead men in combat knowing you would probably never leave if the SHTF...no plans there at all...only the knowledge that when they came they would come like water pouring from a burst dam...and they would not stop...

Yeah, we had plans...but most of us knew that plans meant squat...they only serve as a starting point. Something to make you think.

My apologies </rant>

No, I have never served in the military or claimed that I have. All of my knowledge is based on a handful of books I have read, some of which came out of the U.S. Army War College and other strategic think tanks. I don't have those resources on hand, but a quick Google search yielded this:

Western military practice assumes an initiative among junior officers that Arab armies lacked; Soviet doctrine was more in tune with Arab reality here. Soviet precedent demonstrated the efficacy of scripting operations and of careful rehearsals, and both practices made possible the Egyptians' initial victory in 1973 and, it should be noted, Iraqi success against the Iranians in 1988 as well. For good, and ultimately effective, reasons, Arab planners went much further than did Soviets in scripting. So to the extent that Soviet practice shaped that of the Arabs, it provided useful examples.

http://books.google.com/books?id=_f-sPH ... &q&f=false


I should note that I have not read that particular book, but the story is the same. The Russian doctrine valued heavy scripting of all stages of a battle and ridged adherence to the script rather than the more fluid US (Western) idea of tactical flexibility and initiatives towards a goal.
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Re: SHTF - caliber and platform discussion

Postby zephyp » Tue, 12 Oct 2010 17:16:40

@Garrett - ok and the author of that book is an expert on 16th and 17 century warfare...plus a history professor...

Yes, the Russians "scripted" certain things...they had a very specific order of battle, they trained very hard, they trained the way they intended to fight, and they relied very heavily on numbers more than anything else.

I doubt very seriously that the author ever served either. A big difference in being faced with reality and musing something from a university library...

I spent several years working OPS/PLANS at a major Army HQ. I was one of the few guys that read all the no kidding OPLANS/CONPLANS and got a daily dump from the intel weenies. You might say I sorta had a first hand view of what was going on --- for both sides...as a side note, I sobbed all night when they started tearing down the Berlin wall... :whistle:
No more catchy slogans for me...I am simply fed up...4...four...4...2+2...

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