There are, in my opinion, three kinds of people in the world with regards to guns. There are people that hate guns. They think that guns are inherently evil and that the world would be a better place if there were no guns at all. Then there are people that love guns. They collect guns, they clean guns, they read about guns, they go to gun shows, they just generally enjoy everything about guns. Some of these people, I have noticed, enjoy having guns more than they enjoy shooting guns; but hey, to each his own. The third kind of people are folks that see guns as being tools that are useful to perform specific tasks. These people have a chainsaw to cut firewood, they have garden tools to raise food with, they have hand tools to build things with, and they have guns to hunt with and to protect their families.
If you tend to be a no gun type person you’re probably not reading this anyway, and if you are a gun lover you already know more about this stuff than I could every tell you; but if you are a guns-as-tools kind of person then this post is for you.
It is my belief that the average American homestead only needs five guns to handle any possible situation. So I am going to outline what my choices are, why I have selected these particular guns, and the circumstances under which each of these guns would be useful.
First on my list is a good Shotgun. The shotgun is like the multi-tool of the gun world. Depending on the ammo that you use the shotgun can be a small game hunter, a medium size (deer) game hunter, or a home defense weapon. You can use number eight to hunt dove, quail, and squirrels; number sixes for rabbits, coons, and possums; and number fours for turkeys and ducks. If you load up with 00 shot or slugs you can take deer or wild hogs out to about thirty yards or so. A shotgun loaded with 00 is an outstanding home defense weapon. No pinpoint accuracy is required and the knock down power is tremendous.
Shotguns come in 10 gauge, 12 gauge, 28 gauge, 20 gauge, 16 gauge, and .410. The 10 gauge is expensive, ammo is rare, and it has more recoil than the average shooter is comfortable with. Twenty-eight and sixteen gauges are somewhat rare, ammo is not readily available, and their recoil is not much different than the 20 gauge. Because of their relatively light load of shot, .410’s require a lot more accuracy; and the ammo is expensive. The 12 gauge and the 20 gauge are the most common and the ammo is widely available and cheap. I personally like a 12 gauge. If you want a little less recoil go with the 20.
Shotguns come in single shot, double barrel, bolt action, pump, and semi-auto. The single shot leaves you with no back-up shot. Doubles are expensive, and you have only two shots. Bolt actions hold several shells, but they are often temperamental loaders. Pumps and semi-autos are the most common. I personally prefer the pump, but that’s just me.
My recommendation for the homestead shotgun is the Remington 870 pump. This is a very reliable, moderately priced shotgun that has stood the test of time.
The number two gun on my list is a good Small-Bore Rifle. By this I am referring to the .22 caliber rifle. The .22 is the most widely owned gun in America. A good .22 does not break the bank when you buy it, and the ammo is in expensive and very common. The thing I like best about the .22 is its low signature; that is to say, it doesn’t make much noise. You can use a .22 to hunt squirrels, rabbits, and other small game without everyone in the county hearing you. Remember, if times go bad, the noise of gunfire can draw attention that you don’t want. Twenty-twos come in bolt action, lever action, punp, and semi-auto. Bolt actions and semi-autos are the most common and are comparable in price. When you buy a .22, ditch the cheap scope that comes on it and replace it with a good variable power scope.
My recommendation for the homestead small bore rifle is the Ruger 10-22. This is a very reliable, medium priced, semi-auto. It and the Marlin are probably the most popular semi-auto .22’s on the market today. The Ruger costs a little more than the Marlin, but I think it is a better quality gun.
The third gun on my homesteader’s list is the Large-Bore Rifle. This is the gun that is commonly referred to as a deer rifle. The large-bore is used to take medium size game that is too far away for the shotgun. If you live in open country you will probably not get close enough to a deer to use a shotgun, but the deer rifle will reach out three-hundred yards to take that venison home. The large-bore can also be used for hogs, antelope, sheep, and other game. A good scope is a must for the large-bore. The most common calibers are .243, .30-30, .308, .270, and .30-06. Military rifles that are chambered for 7.62 x .39 or larger will make a serviceable hunting rifle if they are equipped with a scope. I personally have a WWII vintage .303 Enfield in bolt-action with a good scope that serves my purposes just fine.