Monday, February 28, 2011

A Rifle to Full-fill Your Civic Duty?

You might or might not see the connections between my last few articles.  I'll leave it up to the reader to draw conclusions as to my point(s).

Back in 1999 there was much consternation over the Y2K event and anticipated difficulties that would accompany computer failures cascading around the world. Even before this, there were people who had coined an acronym for such events, TEOTWAWKI or The End Of The World As We Know It. But they weren't the first, various religious groups have long fore-told of the end of the world, the apocalypse, and today there are those who use the Mayan calendar and Nostradamus in an attempt to convince that the end times will come on December 21, 2012. Of course one can simply look at the news from the middle east with the people in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and Libya as well as our own states of California, Wisconsin and Indiana to see a trend to unrest and civil upheaval. Such things give one pause, at the least, and make the wise person consider preparations to avoid problems if such things happen in their area.

What preparations? Well, certainly it depends on what you believe will happen but there are some very basic things one can do that aren't outrageous and can be useful even if nothing happens. Ensuring one has enough food for 2-3 months on hand, that one can purify water, that one can generate electricity and/or have light at night if the electricity is cut off, that there is at least some extra fuel for vehicles and some medical supplies on hand (for treatment of injuries and continuing medicinal care) are all important and things we should do in the event of natural disasters. I'm not going to address those here. I'm going to talk about something else that one should do and that is having the means to defend oneself and protect one's other preparations.

I would even submit that self-defense (including the defense of one's family) is a civic duty. At the least it will free police and National Guard responders to deal with other things which helps the entire community. It is codified in the militia laws for those men aged 16-55 (although the ages may differ state-to-state). Certainly, one should live up to one's responsibility to one's own family (and friends) and self-defense demands the appropriate tool.

I know that there are those who will advocate the shotgun and/or handgun for this purpose as they do now for self-defense in the home or concealed carry. Unfortunately the effective range of the shotgun is insufficient for the single user and most people using a handgun are simply going to be out-gunned by any attacker outside their home using anything else due to their inability to hit targets at greater than armed robbery distances. I'm sure there are exceptions and I feel the shotgun and handgun are excellent for certain applications. However, I think that the single firearm, where only one will be used, for this application is the rifle. What rifle? Now that might be a conundrum...

One characteristic of such a rifle is that it should be chambered for a common cartridge. I further submit that it should be a cartridge common in the midst of such a circumstance. Some cartridges might always be stocked by the local gun store but did you know that FEMA and standard police policy is to secure your local gun store in the event of extreme civil unrest? You're just not going to be able to run out and buy a couple extra boxes of .243 Winchester and such. What I'm talking about is what you can store up quite a bit of or easily find "on the street" in such a circumstance.

Certainly, the most common cartridge is the .22 LR but some people won't have confidence in it even though the Israeli Defense Force has actually used it to eliminate riot agitators. One can store quite a large stock of .22 LR in a small space and it is easily moved if that becomes necessary. It is likely that your neighbors might have a box or two (50-100 rounds) in a drawer some place and it might be possible that a looter driven off might drop a box or two that you could recover. What other cartridges might we consider?

Well, number two would have to be the .223 Remington or 5.56mm NATO. Police use it, the National Guard and all other military organizations use it and it is tremendously popular among younger shooters. It will be everywhere. It is cheap enough that you can stock a realistic quantity at relatively low cost and certainly other people will do so. It is VERY likely to be available at any given place during such an emergency.

What else is out there? For pistol cartridges available in carbines both the 9mm NATO (Luger) and .40 S&W are used by the military and police. Other rifle cartridges used certainly include the .308 Winchester or 7.62x51mm NATO (used in police counter-sniper rifles and military medium/GP machine-guns). You might even count the .30-06 due to the wide distribution of M1 Garand rifles and CMP ammunition. Certainly there are going to be regional differences. E.g. in some localities the .30-30 (.30 WCF) is ubiquitous and a rifle chambered for it might be a reasonable choice. In any case reason/logic must be applied to the choice as there is no room for sentiment or nostalgia. This is an important decision as it will determine what rifle is used.

So the next question is, what rifle to use? The first requirement is most certainly that it be a repeater. Let's face it, a single-shot requires an extremely high-level skill set on the part of the user and that for use against the average group. Just about any single user would be overcome by a group of any size or higher than average skill level. Remember, this isn't about being fair or nice, it is about winning, it is about survival. So what sort of repeater?

A bolt action is simple and usually robust. Unfortunately the magazine capacity of 4-5 rounds is usually not sufficient and non-military surplus arms lack any method for rapid reloading. One nearly ideal bolt action gun is the British #4 or SMLE rifles. Unfortunately acquiring their ammunition might be problematic. There are usable .223 rifles but they might better be used in the counter-sniper role than as general defensive weapons.

The lever action really only applies to such as the .30-30 or rimmed pistol cartridges such as the .357 Magnum and .44 Remington Magnum. If you have one it could be useful but if you have to start from scratch for this purpose they might not be best choice, again due to ammunition availability. Properly managed they can be very effective in defending against groups of "bandits". There are some chambered for the .22 LR and .308 Winchester but none chambered for the other choices and the cost of some of those rifles is right up there with any AR system rifle.

As an aside, there is only one pump action rifle with detachable magazine for the .223/5.56mm cartridge and that is made by Remington. In some localities it might be necessary to buy this action type but there is a reason that there is only one such made and sold in the USofA.

The truth is that the standard for modern self-defense rifles is a semi-automatic such as the AR15 type. It is a huge advantage for most people both in terms of trigger control and delivering repeat fire to have a semi-automatic firearm. Choosing an AR15 type rifle provides the added benefits of interchangeable magazines on a proven system designed for the .223/5.56mm cartridge. One can get interchangeable uppers for other cartridges for other uses but those would be a secondary use. We're talking about the primary purpose of which is self-defense.

Other reasonable semi-auto options would include the Ruger Mini-14s, the M-14 such as the Springfield Armory rifles and carbines and the M1 Garand. The reason to get any of these isn't price or interchangeability of magazines (clips for the Garand) but for reasons of availability, familiarity (thus avoiding additional training time) or a need for greater range (the .308 and .30-06 will greatly outrange the .223/5.56mm cartridge). Rural folks may have or feel there is a real need for the latter.

So, we have a rather truncated discussion of the subject, for the moment, but it comes down to this, an AR15 type rifle in .223/5.56mm is my choice. It will shoot bullets from 55 to 77 gr. and uses any readily available military or police ammo in the standard magazines (if that should become necessary). It is light, compact (telescoping stock and 16-1/4" barrel). It will do for me.

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