A True "Survival Rifle": It Depends on What You Are Trying to Survive

On the internet and other places I frequent, the question of firearms prohibition comes up a lot. The usual approach mentioned for avoiding being disarmed at some point is to buy pistols, rifles, shotguns and wrapping 'em in oily rags and burying them somewhere. And lots and lots of ammo too. And don't forget spare parts and accessories. And spare parts for them, too. This sounds like a lot of bother and all, reminding me at least of the Y2K millenium doomsday forecasts a few years back.

Now at the risk of annoying the sophisticates reading this, the above mentioned approach does have its merits. The bandits and guerillas throughout the world have done this for years. Mrs. O'Leary in Londonderry , Northern Ireland plants a new patch of rosebushes. But under them Mr. O'Leary has planted a few snuggly wrapped boxes of plastic explosive, an AK-47 rifle, ammo, and a half dozen pistols. If needed, they got 'em no matter what the British and Sein Fein agree to. And the only people who know of it are the two others in Mr. O'Leary's three-man cell, and it's unlikely they'd give him up.

Now there are as many regional and worldwide variations on this theme of 'stash a cache' as there are involuntarily disarmed people in the world. Which is to say a lot. If this strategy works for you, then so be it.

But being the contrarian that everybody tells me I am, I can't get past my feelings that this approach has serious flaws, too. Beyond the obvious ones like someone ratting you out, or accidental discovery, or forgetting where you buried them.

One is the ammo and spare parts problem.

When I was a kid, my gramp and uncles would go deer hunting. One year my uncle made a lot of money, and one thing he'd always promised himself if he ever had the money was a custom-built Weatherby rifle. The only problem, though, was the ammunition. Weatherby rifles in those days before a Japanese industrial conglomerate bought them out and started making Japanese owned, Chinese built and American labeled rifles, used proprietary ammunition that you could not readily locate to buy.

My uncle and the crew drove eight hours to the very westernmost part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula near the Wisconsin border. After unpacking, my uncle discovered that he left his ammunition at home. Now if he had a rifle in 30-30 Winchester or any of the other typical deer rifle calibers, he'd have been OK. He'd have made a quick trip to the closest town and gone to the local Wal-Mart or a gun shop and bought some. The trouble, though, is that those places don't sell proprietary Weatherby ammo. He never found a single box for sale in a whole daylong auto trip to every place that sold ammo within a hundred-mile radius of the deer camp. Uncle made numerous telephone inquiries too, but also to no avail. And so my uncle got no deer that year.

The point is this could easily happen to even a dedicated stasher. However many rounds you stash for your SKS or AR-15, sooner or later if there ever is a gun prohibition regime in place, the ammo stash will run out. Or an extractor will bust or get bent or some other mechanical malfunction that can't be jury-rigged or fixed. Unless you have a spare or a spare rifle you can cannibalize for parts, your rifle just became a very expensive club.

So what to do then? I am thinking more and more of improvised, hand-built shooting devices. Not firearms or guns in the usual sense but mechanical instruments that will shoot a projectile with enough muzzle energy to kill a man or most game animals at 50 meters. Air guns to be exact.

Now I hear people reading this saying, 'An air gun! Are you finally nuts now? I need something better than a darn BB gun. I need something to shoot small game for food, pest animals bothering the garden, and just maybe a two legged critter that is a threat.' You can do all that with an air gun, would be my reply.

I made a pass through the online catalogs of the major brands of air gun makers as well as a few custom air gun makers and discovered much to my delight that there are a good assortment to choose from. Listed below are few that struck me as good values given their price and utility.

The Bandit is a .50-caliber rifle that shoots a 0.495 round lead ball weighing 182 grains. It is made by Quackenbush Air Guns Ask for the price.

The Beeman GS1000 .22 cal Barrel Break Pellet Rifle with a Walnut Stock $230.00

Tech Force Pellet Rifle Model 34 .22 Caliber $65.00

Gamo Airguns- Young Hunter Air Rifle $115.99

Today's modern air guns are quite capable of doing all those things previously mentioned very handily. Their projectile velocities and muzzle energies are not as high as conventional firearms. I stipulate that right now. But if you need to pop off a few pesky rats that are rummaging through the trash at night, or a rabid skunk, or feral dog, they are just the thing. If you want to shoot a rabbit or two for some fresh meat, it will easily kill them cleanly with proper shot placement. I have done all the things listed above with an air rifle and with a conventional .22 rifle.

To be honest, it was good knowing that the neighbors or the 'authorities' wouldn't hear me if I were discrete. And if things ever get real bad some day in the future to where you dare not be caught shooting at all, well then air guns would be an even better alternative.

Air guns make no loud noises associated with shooting, leave behind no spent cartridge casings, produce no smoke, or smell of burned gunpowder, and leave no GSR sticking to your clothes and making them smell bad. Better still, you don't have ringing ears after you are done shooting, either.

In my uncle's sad case previously mentioned, his expensive rifle didn't do him much good or provide him any sport because he didn't have any ammo for it. That really shouldn't ever be the case with air guns. The typical air gun shoots .177 or .22 caliber lead or copper jacketed lead projectiles. They are cheap, abundant and interchangeable, too. One air gun can easily shoot a cheap brand as an expensive imported brand. It depends as always on your purpose and wallet thickness.

In most states, air guns are not regulated as strictly as traditional firearms. Which is one reason to consider getting one. Ammunition for them and related items is easily obtainable anonymously by fax, phone, mail and internet orders. Dealers require no FFL to ship orders to and because they aren't considered firearms by most of the shipping companies like UPS or DHL, they won't get their panties in a wad over deliveries to you.

If worst comes to worse and the JBT's decide to round up all the guns, you can hand it over while inwardly smiling that you got those monkeys off your back cheaply, and knowing that Mrs. O'Leary won't mind too much if you till the soil around her rosebushes later. You and the boys have plans for tonight.

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Ali Hassan Massoud's picture
Columns on STR: 43

Ali Massoud is a proud old-school isolationist who writes for the Internet and blogs.