Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Let's start a food-fightI


If I could only have ONE firearm, it would be something like this one
One sure way to start a heated debate is to propose a list of firearms for a newbie to purchase.

Well, why not? It is cold outside.


Shotguns are the working-man's gun. There are undoubtedly parts of the country where a shotgun is not the best "first gun" to put in your collection but the vast majority of the population does not live in those wide-open spaces.

If I could only have ONE GUN, it would be a shotgun.

Shotguns can put meat in the pot, slay varmints in the chicken coop and knock big holes in home intruders.

One of the local chain-stores in Michigan is Dunham's Sports. And while break-open and semi-auto shotguns have their place, it is hard to argue with a pump shotgun for the price, the fire-power and the ability to cycle a large range of ammo.

Good wing-shots will blanch but I think the ghost-ring sights are better for newbies who are more concerned about filling the stewpot than getting style points. The 18" barrel cylinder choke should be able to shoot Foster slugs accurately enough to hit deer at 75 yards to humanely kill them. And the newbie is more likely to be ground-sluicing woodchucks in the garden at 20 yards than pass-shooting geese at 40.

Contrary to popular thought, a short shotgun is harder for an assailant to take away from the shooter than a handgun. You have two hands on the gun's stock while the goblin has a grip on the barrel. Who do you THINK is going to win that tug-of-war.

Finally, there are scads of tacti-cool, gee-whiz, assault-shotgun stocks available from the factory. For the most part, they are eye-candy designed to separate fools from their money. In my mind it is better to have a boring stock that nobody gives a second glance, a stock with enough pistol-grip to keep your hand close to the trigger and give you a good grip if you get in that tug-of-war with a goblin.

Of the models available from Dunhams TODAY, this is the one I would steer a newbies to as a first weapon. I would be even happier if it was available in 20 gauge but it isn't.


The second weapon I suggest for a newbie is a rifle that shoots .22 Long Rifle.

My first choice is the Ruger 10/22 with a synthetic stock. The Ruger 10/22 has an exceptionally robust magazine geometry for a .22 rimfire and can be had with a stainless steel barrel...sometimes.

My second choice, of what is available at Dunham's Sports today, is the Savage Mark II with Accutrigger.

I would purchase several extra magazines regardless of which firearm you choose. I would also top them with Simmons 4X .22 Magnum scopes. 

If you are not comfortable sighting in a scope, you can get almost anybody at a shooting range to help you. Many people will dial in the scope to hit the point-of-aim at 75 yards (on a .22 LR) but some of that depends on the size of the game you are seeking and the typical ranges you will encounter that game at. If the local gray-beards recommend sighting in at 60 yards then listen to them.

The .22 Long Rifle has a lot of shortcomings from the ballistics standpoint but it is inexpensive, accurate and plenty if you can hit your quarry where it needs to be hit. Farmers regularly used to slaughter 1200 pound steers with .22 LR with one round right between the eyes.


The primary advantage of a handgun is that it can be worn as an article of clothing like a baseball cap. It can always be with you.

Like a baseball cap, the logo on it is up to you but most folks are going to be happy with a compact 9mm, polymer handgun with a 4" barrel and a double-stack magazine.

Second choice is a revolver in .38 Special. If the balloon goes up, then open-carry is the default and you cannot beat a 3.5"-to-4" barrel.

"High Power" rifle

This breaks into two categories.

One is the "battle rifle". The main choices are AR or AK pattern rifles. The default is AR in 5.56mm NATO with 55-to-64 grain bullets. My preference is soft-points because I care enough to send the best...and plenty of it. Why send a flower when you can send a bouquet?

The second tier involves Mil-surplus rifles. Most of these rifles are bolt actions. Your buddies will mock you, but a Mauser (120 year-old design) with stripper clips can send a boatload of hot-lead downrange at 2600 fps. Body armor wilts at the prospect.

Good-to-go from coyotes to moose to 700 pound space-aliens. Of the firearms Dunham's has in stock today, this is a very defensible choice.

The second category of "High Power" rifles are "hunting rifles". If things get squirrelly these rifles will be legal longer than "battle rifles'.

Unlike 12 gauge shotgun shells, .22 LR, 9mm and 5.56mm ammo, bolt action hunting rifles are available in many obscure, difficult-to-obtain ammo. That is a problem. A firearm you cannot find ammo for is useful as a club or to stake up the tomatoes.

The most universally available hunting ammo at the time of this writing is:

  • 30-06
  • 308 Winchester
  • 270 Winchester
  • 30-30 Winchester
  • .243 Winchester
  • 7mm Remington Magnum
  • .300 Winchester Magnum
  • 7mm-08 Remington
  • 6.5mm Creedmore
  • 223 Rem
  • 22-250 Rem

At the risk of pissing off the shooting enthusiasts, I would avoid anything with "Magnum" in the name and I would avoid the "22" centerfires.

Ammo in chamberings that are used by the military are currently available in great abundance. But it is worth remembering that many Latin American countries made "military" chamberings illegal to reduce the logistical ease of supporting a military coup. The NON-military chamberings on this list are 270 Win, 30-30 Win, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem and 6.5mm Creedmore.

Some brands of rifles readily accept barrels that are chambered for other cartridges.

Plan on spending $150-to-$250 for a scope. The current default is 3X9 magnification. The rings are as important as the scope. Get good ones.

Any precision rifle you  pick should have an "Accu-trigger" or similar. Ruger American and Howa rifles have the advantage of short bolt throws which keep your knuckles from smacking into the scope.

The reason hunting or precision rifles are the LAST type of firearm on my list is that virtually all big-game will be functionally extinct shortly after the balloon goes up. During the Great Depression, nearly every animal larger than a possum were expatriated from large swaths of the country.

You are more likely to get "your fair share" with 6' length of 5/32" braided wire than by hunting according to the rules. Furthermore, within 75 yards your shotgun will be just as effective as your precision rifle.

The reason hunting or precision rifles are included is because they might squeak through when other types of firearms are made illegal. It is a great comfort to have anything that will go BANG! when hooded thugs are parading outside your home with torches. And nothing goes BANG! like a firearm that can slay a moose at 200 yards.


I cheerfully admit that at least a third of my readers know vastly more about this topic than I do.

Consider this a point-of-departure. If you are in that third, tell my readers where I screwed up and share your thoughts and recommendations.


  1. I think you laid it out perfectly---ken

  2. I haven't touched the Win 30-30 since the before the plandemic started.
    First was the complete lack of ammo.
    Now it's the $1.50+/round.
    I traded the .357 Henry in for an EBR using the gunshow loophole don here in S. Texas.

    1. Why do you say "gunshow loophole"? That particular meaningless phrase is part of the fascists' anti-gun lexicon. If you mean you traded it in a private sale, say that. But I think that using the enemy's language legitimizes it, and we don't want to do that.

    2. The Internet needs "Sarcasm" and "Irony" fonts.

  3. (not a star wars parody but)long long ago I had a friend that would take me to the range to shoot his 38s I picked up the ammo but back then it was pretty cheap. I got in the habit of always looking at the stock of 38S(especially wadcutters_. Long after I moved away from that location I found myself always looking at the stock of and pricing of that particular round. Last time I checked at Gander Mt.(didn't say this was recent) they never had any 38s. They did however have a list of where there was different ammo in stock. There was always 38 in Detroit but almost nowhere else.

  4. ERJ: I agree with your list. You may also want to recommend appropriate ammo for each.

    Shotgun: You need a variety of shells. Birdshot in sizes 5 and 2 for hunting birds; 00 buckshot for deer and varmints, and slugs for longer range big game and outdoor invaders.

    22LR: I recommend CCI Mini-Mag 40-grain hollowpoints. These are the most reliable, accurate, and hard-hitting rounds available in that caliber. Reliability with 22s is absolutely critical and there is a wide range of quality among the different brands; in my experience of uncountable numbers of rounds, only CCI can be trusted at a reasonable price.

    1. They don't make .22 ammo like they used to, it seems. Even the major brands - Remington, Winchester - are turning out barely reliable crap. I shoot around 300 rounds a month in matches through a Sig autoloader, and agree that CCI is about the most reliable out there, and will add that lately I've found Aguila ammo to be its equal. Grab it when you can find it.

    2. Friends don't let friends buy Winchester, Remington, or Armscor rimfire ammo. Nothing any of these makers sell is reliable or accurate.

  5. I think the logic of the original poster of this makes a lot of sense. I would add though at least a pair of break open single shot shotguns to hand out to the newbie who has to be conscripted 'Now' to help defend your domicile. Extremely simple to teach how it works. And if the Bad Guy kills them and takes it away, they gain a single shotgun. Not something you want to attack a fixed location with defenders shooting back.

    Hunting with a shotgun will become 'pot shots', shooting at perched / standing game. Ammunition will be too valuable to waste so sure shots will apply. So a smaller gauge would do fine - large amounts of shot will only destroy more meat as the shot string is now more concentrated.

    A combination rimfire / small gauge shotgun would make a good forager.

    Very good topic - the discussion will be very interesting to read and debate (hopefully civilly as knowledge is not gained just shouting 'stupid'. Thank you for bringing it up.

    1. My grandparents grew up during the depression, travelling working as fruit tramps and picking cotton after they lost the farm. We still have the itty bitty Winchester single shot .22 that was their workhorse game getter. They knew what hunger was, and that .22 was their prized possession because it worked.

  6. A shotgun is absolutely what I would want if I could only have one gun. A 12 gauge pump seems to be the most versatile. Second place would go to a .22LR bolt rifle.

  7. I agree with your choices, but I'd move the AR pattern rifle up to the top of the list as a better 1st gun and all around utility weapon. Its easier to learn to use and reload than a pump shotgun, and with a 22 lr adapter can handle all the gardening tasks. A proper soft point .223 would handle anything most of us are going to be hunting.

    My best advice for new gun buyers is to follow the Harbor Freight
    tools method, and get the cheapest functional model. If you use it a bunch, by the time you have broken it you'll know what features are important to you when you go looking for the nice one you want to use for the next decade. If it winds up on the shelf and you use it once a year, you won't have blown a bunch of money on something you're not going to be able to use well enough for the quality to matter.

  8. An advantage to lever guns in a tight regulatory environment is that they allow quick follow-up while being "old hunting guns".
    I agree - If I could only have one long gun, it'd be a 12 gauge pump with good enough sights to use slugs.
    I haven't used ghost ring sights on a shotgun yet, but I like them on handguns.

  9. First thing to remember when teaching a new shooter is holding an explosion, even a well contained one, in your hands is not a natural act. It makes monkeys flinch. Second thing is that loud noises make monkeys flinch. Third thing is that recoil, any recoil, makes monkeys flinch. Flinching is a Bad Thing and you should never allow a new shooter to learn to flinch. Teach them to shoot.

    I wouldn't give a shotgun to a new shooter on a bet. No matter how much training you provide, it's a good way to put someone off shooting ever again. I would go with your suggested Ruger. I have the take-down version, threaded muzzle and a can. Even without the can you can use subsonic ammo (if you can find it, the stuff is up there with 30-30 at the moment) to keep things quieter. Use plugs and muffs, especially for female shooters.

    Plan on spending as much or more for the scope as you did for the gun it's mounted on. While there are good inexpensive scopes and rings, they come with trade-offs, usually in light transmission.

    For your hunting gun, get what I call a "semi-precision rifle", like the Mossberg Patriot Night Train or LR Hunter, or their MVP-LR, in .308. Other companies make similar guns.

    Shotguns are way down on my list of long guns to own, but that's a personal preference.

    My home defense guns are SBR ARs with cans in .300 BLK. I don't have time to put plugs in when I'm in a hurry, and these are hearing safe (barely) in enclosed spaces.

    For pistols, any good polymer 9 mm is as good as any other. I own Springfields and Glocks for this niche. The Glocks have threaded barrels. Again, hearing protection. Backup gun, if carried, is a J-frame Smith. Pistol ammo is Federal Hydra-Shoks or HSTs.

    And practice, practice, practice, as much as you can. Good training if you can afford it.

    My choices. Yours, and the rationales for them, will surely vary.

  10. When handing a new gun of any type to a new shooter make sure they is only one bullet in it. And be ready to catch the gun in mid air before it hits the ground. Just sayin'.

    Otherwise, all of the OP's recommendations are sound and I have all of them in multiples in my armory. Some of them custom made by me. (AR, 870, 10-22)

  11. My sentiments, quite parallel. However the BAR 7mag I won with $2 worth of lottery tickets, is a favorite of mine. 5/8 inch group at 200M is good enough for me. Especially when my intended prey was Caribou, and I shot him at 20 yards. LOL.