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Firearms - Basic
I wanted to start a thread where we can discuss firearms for the novice that is interested in becoming more prepared for emergency situations. For the purposes of this thread, I'd like us to concentrate on talking to a beginner who perhaps doesn't yet own a firearm and/or has limited experience. I'd also like to discuss likely SHTF situations that they could find themselves in that may require self-defense.

What kind of firearm(s) would you recommend? Why?

What type of ammunition and how much would you recommend? Why?

What kind of SHTF situation do you think your recommendation(s) would cover?

Any other advice you think is important to offer.
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
Assuming a beginner with no guns, my first recommendation is a ruger 10/22. I'd go stainless and synthetic for durability, but any configuration would do. It's a rock solid design that's easy for anyone in the family to learn to shoot. A fantastic first gun that is still useful even if you become an expert with a huge collection. While a .22 isn't optimal for defense, it can get the job done. Whether you need to put a rabbit in the pot or kill an intruder, a dose of .22 hollowpoints can accomplish the task. A good supply of federal bulk pack is my preference. My Rugers love it and it's cheap(or at least it was).
Another option for a new shooter is a shotgun. It has a distinct advantage in versatility. With a selection of loads from target to slugs the shotgun can handle any game and defense pretty well. That versatility does have some downside though. Even with light target loads a 12ga (or even 20ga) can be a bit much for kids or recoil sensitive adults. Finding a shotgun that fits the whole family is tough since the standard bead aiming setup requires a decent fit.

Personally, I would put this next in line after a 10/22 for survival/defense. If I lived in dangerous game country I might reverse that.
Here are my thoughts on this topic:

First, owning a firearm is a personal choice. It is to be made when one is mature and calm. It is a right that our forefathers thought important enough to make the law of the land. It is an awesome responsibility but it is also something that could save the life of the individual and his/her family and others.

Having been in the military, having been a professional body guard, having been in security and now having been in the law enforcement arena for over two decades I've carried a firearm daily for most of that time. I am in contact with the criminal element every day I'm on duty. I talk with them. I interview them. And they talk with me, often very frankly. In my professional opinion, if you don't own a firearm your a victim in waiting. That's as blunt and straight-forward as I know how to put it.

Now having said that, let me expound further on this topic. Two categories to consider; home and carrying a firearm. For the sake of this topic and this post I will consider having a firearm at home. Carry can be for another thread.

For consideration of survival and emergency preparedness, what types of situations do we need to consider? Likely scenarios would be storms such as blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes etc that cause short to long term power outages. The power grid could fail on a localized level for a certain duration of time. Roads could become inaccessible due to various circumstances as mentioned above which causes a shortage of fuel and food. These situations happen to real people and are not uncommon. Anywhere from one day to two weeks depending on the severity of the scenario.

Now that we have a foundation for a common SHTF scenario we can consider security. This assumes that you have taken the proper and common sense precautions for things like food, water, medical needs, shelter etc before hand. That brings us to security.

In many, if not most scenarios you may never even need a firearm. Security may be a lower priority due to the absence of direct need. This is situational however and should not be counted on as a safety net. The attitude that 'its never happened to me so that means it never will happen to me' is a mistake. So, from the perspective of owning a firearm for the home as a means of lawful protection against intruders in a likely scenario (as well as general security in-and-of-itself) lets take a look at options.

If you have little to no experience with firearms a good starting place is the service revolver. This is a firearm that normally has a 4-5 inch barrel but could also be 3 inch or even 2 inch. For the home use, I'd personally recommend 3 inches as a minimum. I'd recommend a .38 or .357 which also has the ability to fire .38 ammunition. The weapon needs to be trained with of course and there are a plethora of classes and ranges that provide that opportunity. It needs to be taken seriously. How much ammo? For the majority of likely SHTF scenarios, a box of 50 rounds would be more than enough. As mentioned, you may never even need a firearm. But if you do, well I always tell my students that a firearm is like a spare tire. I don't go looking for flat tires...I don't want a flat tire...but if I get a flat I want to have a spare tire in the trunk. With a box of 50 you can load the gun (usually 5-8 rounds depending on the gun) and maybe a speed loader or two and still have extra. That would be a good starting point.

What kind of ammo? For the home I'd suggest .38 ammo even if the gun is chambered for .357 magnum. .357's kick like a mule and are loud, particularly indoors. And a miss will zip through a wall more than a .38 (which can and will also go through a wall). There are frangible rounds made specifically for indoor use that will break apart in walls so offer better protection in the event of a miss. Frangible rounds are expensive but are a viable option. For more conventional rounds, well I always prefer a heavy-for-caliber round based upon my personal experience with shootings, shooting interviews and the time I've spent actually in the O.R. watching a surgeon taking rounds out of a badguy to take into chain-of-custody evidence. For the .38 that would mean a good 158 grain LSWCHP (lead semi wadcutter hollow point). The sectional density of this round will allow it to penetrate deep enough into an attacker to strike a vital organ or CNS.

If you have more experience, a good semi-auto would be my recommendation. The actual caliber, imho isn't as important as your skill and ammunition choice. I've owned them all from 9mm to .45 ACP. I like them all. Right now my personal choices are 9mm and .40 S&W. The 9mm is my off duty weapon. Provided that you have trained with your weapon of choice (to include loading/reloading one/weak handed and malfunction clearing while under stress) I would recommend again a heavy-for-caliber round. Or, a medium-for-caliber round if the bullet is bonded (which means it doesn't shed it's jacket and retains near its full weight for optimal penetration). For example, my .40 S&W is loaded with 165 grain Win PDX1. I would have preferred 180 grain Win PDX1 but it was unavailable at the time. My off duty 9mm is loaded with Speer GD 124+P which is agency ammo. But I'm fine with that ammo and it has a good reputation with our agency in real world shootings.

Beyond that, I'd recommend a good pump action 12 gauge shotgun with a variety of shells. Slugs, while great stoppers may not be your best choice in the home due to misses. 00 Buck shot is also a good stopper and perhaps a bit safer than slugs through walls, but can still present a hazard on a miss. Many people recommend #4 buck for a good load. And if you look on YT you'll even see some advocate regular bird shot as a SD load in the home. The thought is that it stays together in a tight pattern within typical 'home distances' i.e. across the room or down the hall and offers protection against blowing through a wall. All of these have their merits as well as advantages and disadvantages.

The point is to have something, something that will be useful in a likely SHTF scenario as I've described above.
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
As with the 'advanced' thread, I wanted to BTT for new members.
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
I start newcomers with our Ruger SR-22 or the M&P 22, both nice pistols for individuals to learn on. They learn sight picture and overcome the fear of the recoil. Once they are comfortable, I move them up to a 9mm. I also introduce them to PCC in 9mm. People walk away enjoying the shooting experience and so far, all that I have introduce but two of them have purchased firearms. One is because of money, the other, she just didn't want one, but let her husband buy one.

My wife is a huge help and likes introducing different ladies to shooting. She is now shopping for a 45, just because she wants to make bigger holes in the target.
Always helps when the wife is onboard.  My wife went from being afraid to shoot to wanting to shoot everything I own except the 12 gauges.
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
I've taken a good number of shooting classes including the police academy way back in the day. The best class I ever took was the Appleseed program about 5 years ago. They teach fundamental rifle marksmanship in the prone, sitting and standing positions using a loop sling. I liked it so much I became an instructor and have taught hundreds of people to shoot. The teaching methodology is excellent. I've seen both adults and children who never touched a firearm before go from not being able to hit paper at 25 yards to shooting tiny little groups all the while safely handling, manipulating and shooting confidently and competently.

The best thing is that the skills learned are transferable to any kind of shooting.

Appleseed started out using centerfire rifles but most now use semi auto .22lrs like the Ruger 10/22. The 10/22 is accurate and reliable enough to shoot it like a service rifle over the 2 day class. They still do centerfire shoots as well as full distance. I highly recommend that new shooter do the appleseed program first (learn safe handling, and the fundamentals of marksmanship) before moving on to a pistol.

After that, any type of handgun instruction using similar methodology. Depending on the person a .22 handgun (Ruger SR22, S&W MP22 or similar) is a good trainer. Then move up to the centerfires.
I forgot to include in my post the ammo we use, which is Federal HST 147gr or Speer Gold Dot 147gr. Our practice ammo is 135gr reloads which feel very similar to the 147gr. Both the HST and Gold Dot have performed well in all our pistols.

You asked the amount and I know I like to have LOTS. After surviving the shortage a few years ago, we got into reloading so that has taken care of making sure we have ammo to practice with. The self defense ammo I try to keep two boxes of ammo for each pistol. I started that when I had different caliber pistols, now that I have just 9's and 38's I have a lot of two types of self defense ammo.
I also would say that a good 22lr rifle and handgun would be top on the list. The Ruger 10/22 is hard to beat and I'd go for the S&W M&P 22 Full Size not only because I have one and it runs awesome but because it makes a great trainer for anyone wanting to move into an M&P 9/40/45 at a later date. Second on my list would be a good Shotgun(Remington 870 or Mossberg 500) with a short 18" barrel for home defense and a longer 24"-28" vent rib barrel for hunting. Next I'd get a good AR(Smith and Wesson M&P-15 or Ruger AR-15) and some mags and ammo for that. In a pinch 5.56mm can be used to take deer size game at reasonable range and it's hard to beat for a home defense rifle as well. Moving up a good bolt action in a easy to find caliber, i.e. 308 Win, 270 Win, 30-06 would be good for larger game and also as a longer range "sniper" rifle if needed. Finally I'd pick up a smaller handgun in the same caliber as your larger primary for CCW use or to use as a back up to your main handgun. My pick would be the S&W Shield in the same caliber as the M&P you have. If you're going with some other manufacture, say Walther, then you could go PPQ in 9mm and a PPS in 9mm or a Glock 19 in 9mm and a Glock 43 in 9mm. I think you get the idea, common ammo for pistols with one for holster/duty use and one smaller for back-up/CCW use. Anyway, that's my 2 pennies worth.

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