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How to Choose the Right Bug-Out Gun


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Picking the best gun depends largely on where you live.

For many, an essential component of a good bug-out bag is a good bug-out gun. When someone speaks of "bugging out," they're referring to a dependable strategy for fleeing to safety for any number of reasons, which could be on foot or in a vehicle.

Other preppers have specific go-bags for specific scenarios like a natural disaster, civil unrest, power grid failure or simple societal collapse. The one thing they all have in common is firearms with enough spare ammo to last a while.

If folks live in rural areas, a bug-out gun tends to be something that serves any purpose, such as hunting or self-defense . To that end, a semi-auto carbine is often the best choice. Some prefer a semi-automatic gun that fires a common caliber, either 5.56 for small game or .308 Win / 7.62 NATO for medium and large game.

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Others will carry something like a standard AR and perhaps a .22LR survival rifle or pistol for small-game hunting.

Some like a gun that falls somewhere in the middle, like a semi-auto carbine chambered in a pistol caliber like 9mm, .45 ACP or 10mm. Some even have the added convenience of using Glock magazines for the same caliber, which makes pairing a 9mm PCC with a Glock 19 an easy choice to make for your survival armory.

Survival rifles that can be easily assembled and disassembled without tools, or takedown guns that can easily be disassembled into two pieces, are popular choices. If someone is packing a revolver and a carbine, a lever-action chambered in the same caliber as the wheelgun is a setup from the Old West days that still holds up today.

Today, high-quality lever-action rifles with plenty of modern features are available from Marlin and Henry Repeating Arms. A lever gun in .44 Magnum is extremely effective and can also shoot lighter .44 Special loads. Same goes for the .357 Magnum and .38 Special.

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For people living in a lot of wide-open country, a long-range firearm might be more appropriate. A good scoped bolt-action rifle is hard to beat for far-off threats and big game, but something a little more nimble is also needed for smaller game and defense.

For folks in more urban settings, a handgun is the best bug out gun. They don't take up much room, are easy and light to carry and conceal when necessary, and most modern pistols come standard with 20-round magazines.

Folks who practice concealed carry will undoubtedly bring their CCW pistol, and possibly an additional firearm.

Caliber choice is a big deal. No matter what, when SHTF, the first things to fly off the shelves, as we've learned, are toilet paper and ammunition. Most people like their bug-out guns to be chambered for calibers used by local law enforcement and the military. The logic is, the spare ammo one is most likely to find in post-disaster circumstances will be cast-offs of police or military handguns and long guns.

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Carbines and rifles are versatile and capable of hitting targets at long distances, while handguns are great for close-range encounters. Even though ammunition is physically bigger and heavier, shotguns are decent options as well. They offer plenty of firepower at close range, and can be effective at ranges longer than most people think--certainly farther than a 9mm pistols with accuracy. A simple Mossberg 500 can serve a host of needs and a Kel-Tec KS7 is easy to carry and has a seven-round mag tube.

Whatever you choose to add to your survival kit, even a single-shot rifle or shotgun and one round of buckshot is better than having nothing. If you can choose your bug-out gun, smart survivalists focus on versatility, durability, hunting ability and personal defense. And, don't forget to pack spare ammunition and spare mags with your survival guns and your survival gear.

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