Chris Bryne does an excellent job of laying out what a basic armory should consist of.
- A quality full sized defensive pistol. Either a medium frame revolver (preferably in .357 magnum), or a good medium frame autopistol that you are comfortable with, in a suitable defensive chambering (SIG p series in 9mm or larger, Glock, a good 1911 etc…).
- A quality pump action shotgun in 12 or 20ga, preferably with slug/rifle sights, and easily interchangeable barrels (you want a short defensive barrel, a medium game hunting barrel, and a wingshooting barrel).
- A quality repeating bolt action or semi-automatic rifle in a militarily useful chambering, accurate to at least 300 yards (2 moa minimum accuracy), legal for hunting medium game in your state (which usually leaves out 5.56); with a good scope, and if possible a backup optic or iron sights.
- A quality .22lr pistol or revolver
- A quality .22lr rifle, bolt or semi (or pump/slide if you like them, and can find one)
- A quality semi-automatic rifle or carbine, in a militarily useful chambering (possibly sharing a chambering with the boltie), short enough to be handled indoors, and light enough to be packed on a long hike; preferably with both iron sights and an optic (this presumes #3 above was a bolt action).
- A quality revolver or semi-automatic pistol in a defensively useful chambering, of a size suitable to be carried concealed in summer without bulky covering garments, preferably with night sights.
- A quality pocket gun, either semi or revolver, in .380, 9mm, or .38/.357.
This is the basics. This will allow you to casually shoot just about any sport, hunt for just about any game in North America or learn how to defend your home and your family. It doesn’t have any dedicated competition or over-specialized hunting/defensive guns. If you want to shoot IPSC or skeet or 3 Gun at a high level, you’ll need other guns dedicated to just those purposes.
So what is “Quality”?
Well, a (very) rough guideline would be $450 or more for a defensive pistol or shotgun, $300 or more for a pocket pistol, $250 or more for a .22 rifle or pistol, $800 or more for a semi-automatic rifle or bolt-action rifle with (cheap) scope.
As I said, VERY rough, because a $450 1911 .45 isn’t exactly “quality”, but on the other hand, you can get first-rate used .38 revolvers for almost half that amount.
When I said “very rough”, I meant it.
Now, what should you get within each of those categories? That’s up to you. If you’re like me, (and I know I am), here’s what I’d get.
1. A quality full sized defensive pistol.
CZ75. 9mm, 16+1 rounds. Solid, reliable and quite possibly the most accurate centerfire semiautomatic pistol ever made. Go for a Glock if you want more accessories or an M+P or XD if you want the light weight of plastic but hate Glocks.
2. A quality pump action shotgun in 12 or 20ga.
I come down on the Mossberg side of the great Mossberg vs. Remington debate (though I do love my 870 Wingmaster). I’m cross-eye dominant and shoot long guns left-handed, so the Mossberg’s safety is easier to use for me.
3. A quality repeating bolt action or semi-automatic rifle.
I’m going to plead ignorance here. The one gun I own that suits this purpose is a sporterized M1903 Springfield and I suck at long-range shooting, so pick what you like best here. If I HAD to chose one, I’d go with a Savage Model 12 in .308 with a left-handed bolt.
4. A quality .22lr pistol or revolver
Either a Ruger Mark whatever or a Browning Buckmark for semiautos (ever since my M22 broke, I’m hesitant to recommend them) or an S+W K22 revolver.
5. A quality .22lr rifle, bolt or semi.
Ruger 10/22. Just get one; everybody does eventually. If not that, then a CZ bolt action rifle.
6. A quality semi-automatic rifle or carbine
AR-15 or AK. Take your pick here – An AR for accuracy and versatility, an AK for reliability (though “light” and “AK” aren’t usually used in the same sentence…).
7. A quality revolver or semi-automatic pistol of a size suitable to be carried concealed in summer.
Even though I have defended the pocket 9mm in the past, (which’d be perfect for this role), I’d be sorely tempted to look at a snub-nosed .38 revolver for this purpose.
8. A quality pocket gun, either semi or revolver, in .380, 9mm, or .38/.357.
Ruger LCP/LCR, Kel-Tec P3AT, Taurus TCP, S+W Bodyguard. Your choice here.
So, what’s the damage?
|Bolt Action Rifle:||$800|
|Compact Defensive Pistol:||$450|
Yep, ten grand.
Why so much?
- You’re going to want training. CCW permits, personal protection classes, hunting permits and expedition costs, whatever. Even it it’s just plinking on the public range, club memberships cost money.
- You’re going to want accessories. Holsters, belts, slings, magazines, etc. I have more holsters than my wife has dress shoes.
- You’re going to want ammo. Lots of it. The .22′s will help cut down on costs, but to be proficient with firearms you need to shoot the firearms you want to be proficient in. Simple as that.
But when you think of it, ten grand is what a good golf holiday costs these days, and for the same money, rather than chase after a ball with a crooked stick, you’ve got the means to defend yourself, hunt for sport or food, and have acquired heirlooms to pass down to generations to come.
Not a bad way to spend your cash.