I've seen some videos about the reality of gun battles in SHTF scenarios, war-like scenarios,etc. Some people saying a handgun is no good because you could easily get picked off from 100 yards, etc.
To me this seems unrealistic. We aren't talking about a warzone where enemies are well-defined and easily identified. We are talking about neighborhoods where people are starving, people coming to your home looking for food, and most of this happening in cities or the suburbs. Most of us won't have 100 yards line of site in ANY direction.
Any trouble that comes will come suddenly and fairly unexpectedly. In most neighborhoods you can't see much further than your own yard and your neighbors yard without being on a roof or somewhere else like that. Even if bad guys wore bad guy costumes and I could easily identify them, I would never be able to see them until they are in my neighbors yard, or just down the street. And the bad guys won't have bad guy costumes...they will look just like you and me. On that note, resorting prematurely to deadly violence will be foolish.
If trouble comes I think it will be in one of two forms:
1. Mob or gang (easily identifiable, because they are looting your neighborhood). But shooting at them while they are down the street is probably not a good idea. More than likely, that is going to get you attention you don't want. Best tactic here I think would be to hole up in your house, and if they start toward your house, fire some serious warning shots and only if they continue to threaten to actually use deadly force. Best scenario here is to have neighborhood watch or something similar where the gangs will be spotted sooner rather than later.
2. Someone comes to your house, pretends to want to trade or beg, and then tries to rob you or kill you. In this case, I think the best thing would be to always greet newcomers with a serious show of force and have some visible (and if possible some hidden) backup covering you.
With all this in mind, I really think the best weapons will be handguns (easily concealed, easily carried no matter what you are doing, i.e. one hand on the plow, one on your gun), shotguns (serious deadly force with the potential to disperse or take out a crowd in a hurry), and high-capacity, high rate of fire rifles (i.e. ak 47). I don't think sniper rifles, long range rifles, etc. will be practical or necessary. This isn't a battlefield, it's a neighborhood gone to shit and your enemies could be anyone...but the trick is, you don't always know they are your enemy until very late in the encounter. Battles will all be close range...
Embodies the core concepts I think *everyone* who owns a gun for a collapse scenario should start with.
Crime isn't going to change that much.
If you ask me, it's already begun to make its shift.
Security starts with your person. If you cannot defend yourself - you'll be less useful and more reliant in a cohesive effort. The same concept applies to a symphony. One unskilled musician can damage the overall sound being produced. As with music, or any other effort, it is incumbent upon you to be as skilled as is reasonably possible. Also, in this way, the pistol is the "personal" weapon. It is what you carry to defend the things closest to you.
The rifle is to a community what a pistol is to an individual.
With that in mind, most of the time, crimes are just opportunists seizing an opportunity. There's been some dialog in the past about this; if you have money, gold, guns or other valuables, do not tell people about them. This is a great way to reveal an "opportunity" to people who have no problem pistol whipping your wife to find out where your stashed $50k in gold Krugerands are.
So let's start there - if you let it get to this point - you've already failed at personal security, firearm or no.
Personal security is often tied to firearms because we, as humans, love power and firearms represent that. It's misused often, misunderstood more frequently, and people treat firearms with an odd mix of indifference and superstition.
Truth is, you'll probably make far more use out of developing a strong voice, and getting good at shouting intimidating commands, or being able to verbally disarm situations than you will spending all day at the range... If, and only if, you can manage to keep yourself from being targeted in some way. The sidearm comes in to play here for two reasons - we can't help if we're targets, because we can't know what every opportunist is looking for, and two, it's a lot more fun going to the range than it is yelling at yourself in the mirror.
Either way, management of unknown contacts is a foundational component of personal security. It is, and I'm at risk of damaging the orthodoxy here, far more useful than your quick draw.
When dealing with situations in which you have a person(s) of unknown intent there are a few things you need to do:
1. Watch for "tells" that indicate hostility (These can be discussed later)
2. Mentally establish and maintain boundaries and do not give them up.
3. Be aware of your surroundings and move tactically to put your contacts at either disadvantageous, or less advantageous positions (IE, sun in their eyes, decrease their interval, etc).
Even if this situation develops into a fight, knowing when to draw is more important than being able to draw quickly, fire two shots and do an obligatory threat scan that you do as a courtesy to your last instructor ('cause generally, people don't "see" anything when they do this, they just think it makes them "tactical").
We can tie this back to your point about "having" a gun on you when you need it because these kinds of situations develop quickly and almost always involve you being surprised by the bad guy(s). If you can't shift the situation by maneuvering and communication (same concepts as the military, though very different for the civilian) in order to avoid violence, you must be keenly aware of how easy it is to turn what you think will be you getting all John Woo'y on fall guys into a nightmare tangle of limbs in which you and two other guys are struggling over a malfunctioned pistol. Or worse yet, end up like this guy (scroll down a bit to see video - Warning: NOT work safe, very disturbing), who fails his draw, while his opponent tries over and over again to fix a stoppage in order to execute you.
This is gun fixation, and you should know how to avoid it in order to get posture, positioning and platform. Had he not failed his draw, he probably would still have had the gun taken and been killed. Please train yourself to focus on the fight first, and the proper use of weapons second.
So, as society gets more desperate, the crime will increase in amplitude and frequence. The types of crime that are associated with this shift are well known:
-Establishment of organized crime
-Sharp increases in petty and property crimes
-General disrespect for the law and private citizens
-"Turf" or "hood" based crimes - generally you wandering into an area you didn't realize was held by unfriendlies.
-"Hits" or "Marks" in which a person is targeted for a specific reason (assets, revenge, extortion, etc)
Those are all situations in which your personal sidearm is a realistic solution to some of the associated problems. If things degenerate further, to the point where community watches become necessary, having, and being proficient with, a fighting rifle will be a very useful skill.
I don't really see that happening, honestly. Even during the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was isolated to regions that were submerged into religious, political or civil wars, and under such conditions, you can "opt out" as much as possible by avoiding conflict to the best of your ability. That said, the collapse of the one remaining superpower might be a game changer. Only time will tell and it's entirely possible to think that gangs might be organized enough to send several goons to attack a person at home, or even a small town... A situation in which a fighting rifle would be a strong asset.
I'm not a gun expert, although I have gotten much more educated over the last few years as part of my family's prepping agenda. Aaron, as you state, I have taken the "tactical" classes and done the "head-turn scanning", later realizing I never saw anything. The entire process of taking multiple handgun, shotgun and rifle/carbine training has been humbling for me on many an occasion. It has reenforced for me that if I ever need to rely on this training, it is going to be a very sad and scary day for all involved. And, it's also why when I now turn my head to scan behind me during those training classes, it's not to "look tactical", but because I'm legitimately scared of someone's buddy walking up behind me. I'm way too old to look "tactical". :)
So, this said, let me give you some opinions on the "we won't be in a war zone, so I only need a handgun" line of thinking above. Like I said, I have only a few years of training with handguns, shotguns and rifles (although I now shoot regularly on our property and continue to take training). I can tell you that precisely because of my lack of training, I would always prefer to be holding a rifle.
In firing at a stationary target with my 9mm Glock from 50 yards, I hit it about 20% of the time (and I feel good about that). From 25 yards, I hit it 70% of the time. At 10 yards, 100% of the time, with the grouping about the size of a tennis ball to a grape fruit depending on how fast I draw and fire off rounds. I have tried moving around while firing, and if I'm slow and deliberate, I'm not bad. This said, if I was shooting at a moving target, I'm guessing I'd be next to useless.
When firing my AR-15 from 100 yards with a red-dot sight, I hit the same stationary target 100% of the time. At 10 yards, I put round after round in a spot about the size of a silver dollar. I can't tell you how well I hit the target at 100 yards while moving, but I would guess in the 70% range. If I was shooting at a moving target, it would be more challenging at 100 yards, but with a 30 round magazine, I'm confident I would put some of the rounds on target. At 25 yards, a moving target would be very easy (assuming it was not shooting at me). :)
In my opinion, a rifle is a much better choice for someone who wants to defend themselves, especially if they have little practice. It's way more accurate, carries way more rounds, is way more intimidating to see someone holding, and carries way more energy when hitting a target than a handgun. There's a reason why armies and SWAT teams carry rifles. In my opinion, hitting a moving target with a handgun at 25 yards for someone who does not practice, and is potentially getting shot at is going to be a stroke of luck. Hitting that moving target with a handgun with enough rounds to make it stop is going to be even more lucky. One round from a rifle is always going to be more potent than one from a handgun. The physics are the physics.
As also mentioned above, a shot gun could be a good choice from 100 yards and closer, but it likely has 8 rounds best case (unless you are shooting something that was made for war), and you have to be very good at being able to feed it ammo while shooting it. Feeding a shotgun while under stress is a complicated process that welcomes mistakes. Again, a good semi-automatic rifle does not suffer from this.
The only reason I would ever consider a handgun over a rifle is when I decided I needed to carry a gun in a concealed manner or it was not practical to be cutting the lawn or painting the house with a rifle strapped to me.
Additionally, there are plenty of examples with the LA riots where a shop owner standing on top of their store with a rifle was all it took for looters to walk on by. During Katrina, residents who sat on their porch with a shotgun saw gang members and looters pass by as well.
The collapse of the Soviet Union is worth understanding for lots of reasons, especially when it comes to how belonging to a community and depending on family is so important. This said, it may be worth considering that the population was essentially unarmed. That is definitely not the case in the U.S. Let's assume that any crisis does not turn into the worst-case scenario. That we don't have gangs or single, bad individuals showing up at our door. What is the downside to owning a rifle? If nothing else, as an investment, the value of them continues to escalate significantly. But, in a crisis, if someone(s) does/do show up at your door, would you rather be holding a handgun or a rifle?
Lastly, why would anyone open a door for a stranger without first having a conversation through the door about what they want? Why would anyone let a stranger get close enough to touch them, or in a bad environment, close enough to effectively use a handgun, if they had a choice? I would much prefer to let a guy with a possibly concealed handgun, see me or a family member holding a rifle while we have a conversation about what he wants, and he stands 20 yards away out on the sidewalk.
So, as someone who has been learning new things in the world of firearms (and has been humbled by my lack of talent), let me reenforce to anyone in a similar situation that if you can get a quality handgun and rifle, that's great. If you can only get one, I would suggest a rifle is a really superior choice for protecting your home and family. And as with any endeavor, practice helps.
Thanks for your reply.
You are right about a rifle being more intimidating, and the stopping power and accuracy of the rifle over a handgun. However no one is going to shoot someone 100 yards out. It just won't happen. You won't know who it is or what they want, if you can even see someone that far away in your neighborhood.
On patrol in your neighborhood, or standing guard at your home, yes, a high rate-of-fire rifle or a shotgun is the way to go. But in your day to day, the handgun will be it. Life will be very physical and you won't be able to carry your rifle everywhere with you.
That's what I mean by not a warzone...we are just living in a desperate society. Friend and foe will look alike. Most of the time we will make verbal contact with someone in order to determine their intent. In these cases, having the gun with you is the most important thing...handgun, rifle, or shotgun.
Why one firearm? Different tools for different needs.
A real eye opener for me was the Bosnian War Blog from someone that lived through it. In his community it was complete anarchy and lawlessness. Different communities had different levels.
I can't predict the future, not can anybody else. This all may become a moot point when SCOTUS rules private ownership of firearms is not legal. What is going to be the trigger, if any?
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