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SHTF Firepower on a Budget
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  1. #1
    imported_GIJeff
    Guest

    SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Heya Preppers,

    I know that I am not the only one trying to get prepared for what is coming on a budget, and I thought I'd share some of the best bargains I've found in my searches.

    Bargain Basement Budget:
    Weapons tend to be in odd calibers at this budget level, but can use many common reloading components, less money = more work, as in most things. Semi-automatics are out of this budget range, so these are all bolt or similar actions.

    Mosin Nagant, M-44, M-39, M-38. All in 7.62X54R 5 shot capacity Under $100 typically
    ANYONE can afford one of these weapons, and ammunition is currently plentiful and cheap, but you may wind up having trouble finding it after a while if imports stop. Reloading can remedy or mitigate this to some extent if you stock up on supplies.
    Hungarian ammunition is best, followed by Russian and Polish, followed by the really nasty Czec and Bulgarian. Any of it shoots fine, but the lower end stuff is very prone to fouling. This cartridge will kill anything that walks or crawls on this continent with a well placed shot.

    K-31 (Schmidt Rubin) in 7.5X55 6 shot capacity Under $300 typically
    These rifles are the absolute KING of quality and craftsmanship, usually in EXCELLENT bore condition, with wear on bluing and wooden furniture that is easily remedied at home. These rifles NEVER fired corrosive ammunition, and therefore retain pristine bores in all examples I've seen. GP-11 ammunition goes through cycles, currently a bit dry, costs a bit more than most ammo (60 rounds for $38.00 currently), but it's MATCH GRADE, shoots to sub MOA typically. This action is a push pull rather than a bolt action, so overlong cartridges will be an issue with lockup. GP-11 is berdan primed, so you have to convert the brass or buy boxer primed brass, Privi partisan makes a similar round to the GP-11 at reasonable prices which is reloadable brass. Ballisticlly comparable to the .308 cartridge

    .303 Enfield, (if you can find a .308 one even better) 6 shot capacity Under $200 typically
    These rifles have a quick loading magazine, action as smooth as butter, parts are not too difficult to find and can usually be had for less than $200. Ballistically comparable to the .308 cartridge

    There are other guns that fit into this category but I don't have personal experience with them so I'll leave it t those that do to offer their opinions.

    Middle America Budget:

    AK-47, 74, 101, and other variants magazine capacities up to 50 rounds in box mags, prices vary from $300-$600
    I am not going to get into the AK vs AR vs other rifle platforms argument, the fact is the AK-47 and variants are some of the least expensive reliable semi automatic firearms available today. I prefer more standard calibers like .223 even though the 5.45X39 is more damaging because there will ALWAYS be .223 and 5.56 ammo available and the others are not necessarily going to be if imports are curtailed. It can easily be reloaded, milsurp ammo is an option. The 7.62X39 cartridge is very inexpensive, as is the 5.45X39 and these weapons can shoot the steel cased ammunition as well as any other, they are actually built for it. If you go that route stock up on ammunition in a big way to ensure you will have enough to last you till you can find something else to shoot or more ammo. I figure if I've expended 1,000 rounds of ammo and am still standing, there ought to be plenty of hardware laying around to be picked up. I'd suggest having 10,000 rounds if you can afford it, buy it by the case, it's cheaper.

    AK's are built in many countries and different levels of quality, Bulgarian isn't too bad, Czechoslovakian is better, Chinese is good quality but parts are hard to find so Norinco wouldn't be my first choice. The Kel-Tek looks attractive but everyone I've consulted says the quality is poor. The Russian AK's have the best reputation, Saiga (Russian American Armory) is also made at Ishmash, the same factory the military models are built in.
    I personally have a .223 Saiga, I like the light recoil, ammo compatibility, and ease of finding reloading components, but magazines are expensive. I am getting around this by buying an AR conversion adapter that will allow me to use AR magazines, which are cheap and plentiful. Surefire ($40) magazines work, Pro mags ($15-$25) are junk, nobody recommends them that has bought them to my knowledge. Galil Magazines can be adapted, but many military mags need a bullet guide and minor gunsmithing. Many foreign built rifles fall under 922r compliance rules, so check to see that you aren't using high cap mags or other "evil assault rifle" components illegally.

    Ruger Mini-14' .223 or 5.56 prices comparable to the AR currently
    I have no personal experience with this weapon but magazines are difficult to come by, and if it breaks you have to send it back to the factory for repair, no parts are available for repair, so I'd steer clear of this one unless you get a REALLY good deal and consider it a throw away. It's certainly better than nothing, but don't count on it for the long haul.

    AR-15 and variants, .223/5.56 caliber varying magazine capacities and prices range from $600-$1200

    Yes AR's can be had that cheap, but they lack items I consider useful like forward assist and chrome bore. The US military standard issue weapon is probably the best choice, ammo and magazine compatibility with the current us military stockpiles, ease of reloading cases and finding components is good, reliability is something less than experienced with the AK variants but certainly acceptable if proper maintenance is followed. Parts are easy to find, if not cheap and as far as I know all AR's can fire both 5.56 and .223, but check your manual to be sure. Contrary to popular belief they are NOT exactly the same. .223 has a shorter throat and loading 5.56 ammunition into a .223 chambered rifle may work in a bolt gun but will likely jam in a semi, not to mention higher pressures may damage the weapon. Any weapon chambered in 5.56 can fire .223 ammo with no problems. Steel cased ammo is not recommended for these weapons due to the possibility of extractor damage over time. This weapon was not built for steel cases as the AK's and variants were.

    Rifles like the AR-10 FN FAL, M1-A, and M-14 among others chambered in .308 are not bad choices but usually are even MORE expensive than the AR's in .223 and I have little experience with them so will leave that to someone with more firsthand knowledge. In addition, I can pick up a case of 1,000 rounds of .223 and walk out of a shop with it under my arm like a football. I'd like to see anyone other than John Rambo do that with 1,000 rounds of .308.

    Shoot for the Stars budget:

    Well like most of us, I have NO experience with this budget level whatsoever so I'm going to leave this category blank. Even IF budget were not a barrier I'd say getting too far off the beaten track is a BAD IDEA simply because you won't have any parts available for your “space gun” when you need them. I like to stick with standard issue type items, owning an orphan can be an exercise in the use of pepto-bismol.

    Well that's enough to get those of you with limited budgets moving I hope, I started out with a Mosin, traded up to a K-31 and then bought a Saiga .223 with a windfall. I still have the K-31 and Saiga, as well as a single shot .22 and a 12 gauge pump shotgun left to me by my grandfather. I'd like something in a .308 but I am loathe to sell my K-31 and I can reload for it if need be so I'll keep it and hope something cheap in a .308 comes along. .223 lacks hitting power beyond 500 meters unless exotic ammunition is used, so something long range needs to be more like a 30 caliber. I strongly recommend everyone have at least some .22 long rifle ammunition (For trade or bater) even if you don't have a rifle for it, which you REALLY should. .22 shorts make less noise than an air gun if shot from a rifle and so can take small game at short ranges without alerting anyone to your presence. I won't get into pistols here because I have limited personal experience with the many varied handguns, but I will recommend that everyone consider 9mm rather than other calibers, while it may be a bit lacking in power, it is the most readily available cartridge in the world for handguns, and you can always shoot them twice. .45 is a better stopper with ball ammunition, but expensive and no longer issued to the US military, so no stockpiles to draw from. I have a Glock 19 for it's reliability and durability (anyone out there sensing a theme in my firearms choices?) Hope everyone finds this useful, for now signing off

    Jeff Waite
    aka GIJeff

  2. #2
    MattCFII
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Good stuff, I miss my Mosin, want to try a K-31! As you say everybody should have a .22 or at least a pellet gun for small game/training.

    12 gauge pumps have some great versatility in a survival situation. Remington, Mossberg, and even Maverick and NEF all have some great shotguns and will fit any budget. They can take birds or small game with shot, then take large game out to 100 yards with slugs. Not to mention buckshot for large game and 2 legged predators. For a long time here in Indiana and other places we have been limited to shotguns or handguns for deer ad that has worked fine for us. We just now have been able to use handgun cartridges in rifles.

    I too am an AK man when it comes to my defensive rifle. One other useful Saiga would be the 12 gauge which is one of the few magazine fed shotguns available. My personal rankings of AK quality would be the new Arsenal brand Russian Saigas factory conversions to AK format, then regular Saigas, Arsenal Bulgarians, and Chinese about on the same level, next come Yugo and Polish, finally Romanians bringing up the rear. That's not to say that the Romanians can't be a serviceable rifle though. Yep, the Czech VZ58s are great quality too but technically are a cousin of AKs so they take different, harder to find magazines. I agree that .223 is normally more available, but strangely at the height of the ammo shortage I could still find 7.62x39mm pretty easily since it wasn't the main rifle caliber everybody was trying to get. Respectfully though, I think .223/5.56 terminal ballistics are more effective than 5.45x39. 5.45x39 tends to only tumble where M193 based 5.56 FMJ will tumble and fragment if still at a higher velocity. Then factor in that you can get much more high qualtiy hunting/tactical hollowpoints in .223. But when Hornady finally releases their 5.45x39 V-Max round, watch out! Note if the AK mag conversion was done on your Saiga to take the AK mags you could then use the Bulgarian Circle Ten armory waffle magazines that is considered to be the finest mags available for AKs. As you say, stay away from the ProMags and you're right that the AR mag conversion looks very interesting!

  3. #3
    DavidMorris
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Great post, GI Jeff!

    A couple tidbits that I'd add are the following:

    My Mosin Nagant shoots 2-4" groups at 25 yards...about the same as what I shoot with my Glock 27. I bought it at Big 5 for $75. I know people who got the same gun from the same batch at Big 5 who shoot MUCH tighter groups...the lesson here is to get to know your gun and it's limitations and trade if necessary.

    A very inexpensive .308 tackdriver is the Savage Tactical line. I am not a long range marksman, but I can keep my 100 yard groups under 1" with it. You can find them used for under $400...sometimes closer to $300.

  4. #4
    imported_GIJeff
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Hiya David,

    Yeah I had to cycle through three M-44's to find one that shot well consistently, but the last one I had shot 2" groups max at 100 yards. I think the 9130 might be a better choice (had one of those too) if you can stomache the length and having a loose bayonet. I haven't seen any of those shoot really poorly. Those groups you were getting are pretty bad actually. I'd toss a gun over the hill if it shot that poorly. On the other hand defending your house probably won't require you to shoot much beyond 50 meters, 100 max in an urban environment when totally defensive. It's pretty much a given you're not going on the offensive with a bolt gun. If they weren't so cheap they wouldn't be on my list due to ammunition issues, but you make do with what you have and any gun is a hell of a lot better than "Gee I wish I had a gun about now." In addition with enemies likely to have superior firepower and numbers, you'd better be using cover and prepared positions to offset their advantages. Always be aware of the limitations of your weapon, tactics, and physical condition. Urban survival to my mind is about not being noticed, if you have to fire your weapon you've already screwed up several ways, or been very unlucky. It's possible you may have to bug out rather than stand and fight, that's a judgement call you have to keep in the back of your mind even when fighting. Some guys get so intent on fighting the fight, they forget there are times to run like hell and so they die in place rather than changing tactics when it could have kept them alive.

    I didn't mention the arsenal Saigas because they are kind of new and I have no experience with them as of yet, also I think, if memory serves, they are a bit on the pricey side for an AK. Might as well get an AR given those budget constraints. I could use the bulgy waffle mags on my AK as is if I ground off the hi cap interdictor tab and installed a bullet guide, but you get into those 922r compliance issues and the good old ATF comes and slaps some expensive stainless steel jewelry on you if you haven't dotted your I's and crossed your T's. I'll post again on here when I get that conversion up and running. That's the first thing on my budget beyond the necessities, believe me. I like the ar mag compatibility option and it's worth the $120.00 to me.

    Shotguns are indeed versatile, but use a lot more resources to reload and ammunition is not terribly cheap for them. They are sort of special purpose weapons in my book, great for shooting birds and small animals, adequate at defense and hunting, but I think even TWO rambos would have hell trying to carry 1000 rounds of ammo for one of those. I use the same powder in both my .223 and my 7.5X55 and both use standard size projectiles. I can reload for TWO weapons with one can of powder using my methodology, I figure the shotgun will be used for special targets and my otheer weapons will do most jobs. I can take small game and maybe even birds if I get lucky with my .22, and a two year old can carry 1000 rounds of ammo for that.

    I hear very good things about the tumbler device in the 5.45X39 but have no first hand experience of their terminal performance so base my assumptions on information from someone with far greater experience with both. Granted he could be wrong, but I've known the guy for over ten years and if he tells me something I pretty much know I can take it to the bank. If He's impressed with the terminal performance of the 5.45X39 over the 5.56X45, that's good enough for me. Ammo is VERY cheap for the 5.45X39, even if it could possibly dry up. It's a judgement call. I want to make VERY sure I can get ammo for my rifle, because without ammunition it's just a badly designed club.

    Keep on Preppin'

    Jeff Waite
    aka GIJeff

  5. #5
    MattCFII
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Quote Originally Posted by GIJeff
    Hiya David,

    I didn't mention the arsenal Saigas because they are kind of new and I have no experience with them as of yet, also I think, if memory serves, they are a bit on the pricey side for an AK. Might as well get an AR given those budget constraints. I could use the bulgy waffle mags on my AK as is if I ground off the hi cap interdictor tab and installed a bullet guide, but you get into those 922r compliance issues and the good old ATF comes and slaps some expensive stainless steel jewelry on you if you haven't dotted your I's and crossed your T's. I'll post again on here when I get that conversion up and running. That's the first thing on my budget beyond the necessities, believe me. I like the ar mag compatibility option and it's worth the $120.00 to me.
    I don't have experience with them yet either but it seems most like them. Up until a week ago they had a 7.62x39 entry level converted Saiga for $550 range before shipping and transfer. Now the entry level is $100 higher. It seems most entry level new AKs are going for about $400-$500 right now so when they were on sale they were a great deal. Now not too bad but not as affordable. Of course, unconverted Saigas can go for under $400 so they are great bang for the buck too. It's just converting them to a standard AK format, if you would want to do that, bringing up to standard AK costs.

    922r is a concern of course, but not too hard to do in most cases. My MAK90 is 922r'ed now with a Tapco trigger group, U.S. stock and grip, and a U.S. Phantom flash hider. Overall the improvements were well worth the $100 I put into it IMO. Note there are some that interpret 922r as high capacity mags being "unsporting" too, so if they are right just putting a Surefire 30 round mag (or any other brand) in a stock Saiga is a violation until you add 2 more U.S. parts (mag is 3 parts). Unfortunately case law is thin on 922r to see if this stricter reading is valid, but I'm not taking the chance because I don't want their jewelery too
    http://www.dinzagarms.com/922r/922r.html
    http://home.comcast.net/~navy87guy/home/922r.html


    Shotguns are indeed versatile, but use a lot more resources to reload and ammunition is not terribly cheap for them. They are sort of special purpose weapons in my book, great for shooting birds and small animals, adequate at defense and hunting, but I think even TWO rambos would have hell trying to carry 1000 rounds of ammo for one of those. I use the same powder in both my .223 and my 7.5X55 and both use standard size projectiles. I can reload for TWO weapons with one can of powder using my methodology, I figure the shotgun will be used for special targets and my otheer weapons will do most jobs. I can take small game and maybe even birds if I get lucky with my .22, and a two year old can carry 1000 rounds of ammo for that.
    But on the flip side of ammo, during the height of the shortage I could still buy just about any 12 gauge ammo I wanted at Wal-Mart, etc. You need less shotgun shots so you don't need to carry as much ammo for it. Yes, it's still hard to beat compared to .22LR but in the since that it may take you a lot of shots to hit a bird on the wing with a .22 when a shotgun would only take one or two. Then consider that 00 buck delivers what is basically half a magazine of 9mm in one shot, I think it somewhat makes up for ammo weight. What other firearm can be used as a small game, bird, large game, and self defense weapon? Yes it is a jack of all trades in most of those categories, but still something to consider for somebody who can't afford multiple firearms (or even carry multiples in a bug out). Think of it as entry level for the firearm novices.

    I agree in reloading they are more draining on resource and expensive, but for someone who doesn't reload they are a great option due to the sheer numbers of shotgun ammo out there. On the pro shotgun reloading side, I saw shotgun primers available when I was searching all over for small pistol and rifle primers in the shortage. Even Wal-Mart carries shotgun primers since they can be used in in-line muzzle loaders. Of course, the ammo shortage isn't the same as a TEOTWAWKI situation, but I think does have some merit in prepping considerations.

    However Jeff, I must admit I don't even own a pump shogun right now so overall in practice I'm doing exact thing you recommend. In my neck of the woods, the largest game is deer which 7.62x39 will handle well since it is so close to .30-30, and we all know how it performs in defense. AK for me along with a Walther P22 for the small/discrete stuff, Glock for EDC.

    I hear very good things about the tumbler device in the 5.45X39 but have no first hand experience of their terminal performance so base my assumptions on information from someone with far greater experience with both. Granted he could be wrong, but I've known the guy for over ten years and if he tells me something I pretty much know I can take it to the bank. If He's impressed with the terminal performance of the 5.45X39 over the 5.56X45, that's good enough for me. Ammo is VERY cheap for the 5.45X39, even if it could possibly dry up. It's a judgement call. I want to make VERY sure I can get ammo for my rifle, because without ammunition it's just a badly designed club.
    Yep, I agree it does tumble well, but I'm personally a believer in anything expanding over FMJ. In FMJ, I think the waters get a little more muddy and if your friend has first hand experience with 5.45x39, I'd definitely defer to his opinion and go with 5.45. If you could bend his ear on it I'd love to hear his thoughts!
    Here's Fackler's findings on 5.45 versus 5.56:



    Man is 5.45 amazingly cheap. I remember when 7.62x39 was comparable in price and now look at it, affordable, but not cheap. So I think eventually as the surplus dries up it will get to be more expensive. Like you, I worry about it drying up completely either through demand, politics, or SHTF, hence why I haven't bought a AK in that caliber. But with the V-Max load coming out soon in 5.45x39 and rumors of other companies getting on board the 5.45x39 train, I might just have to get one then (or maybe a little sooner since it is always cheaper to be in front of the curve). Heck, Winchester has a white box "Metric" brand that has 9x18mm and 7.62x54R now even. It's great to see that stuff get more accepted and available.

  6. #6
    imported_GIJeff
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Heya Preppers,

    I think the armor piercing quality of the 5.45X39, though mild, is the reason my friend is a proponent of the caliber. I like the .223 for it's comonality. I chose a 9mm pistol for the same reason. Most common pistol caliber in the world. Not to mention military stockpile compatibility. Right now during the ammo shortage, you would be lucky indeed to find .38 or .357, .380 is made of unobtainium, and other calibers are scarce as well. Reloading components are also at a premium and difficult to find. My friend has an interesting way of doing business....he buys ammo by the palate and only raises prices when he has to replenish his supply. Needless to say he has a very loyal customer base. Even HE has no .357 or .380 at the moment though. If a ban on imported ammo wasn't potentially on the horizon I'd consider the 5.45X39 AK, but it is in play, and having ammo and magaazine compatibility with current military issue and the most common defensive rifle in the US is a good thing.

    I have been hearing stories about ammunition being imported to the US and customs "finds something wrong with the papework" and parks it in a warehouse indefinitely. I can't determine the confidence level of this information since I don't know the exact source, but I certainly don't think it's beyond the reach of the people running things these days. One thing is certain....we live in uncertain times.

    That .308 Savage is a sweet bolt gun, but for around the same money I bought an utterly reliable semi automatic battle rifle, so I can't talk myself into trading one for the other. I just don't have the budget to own too many rifles. When I bought my K-31 it was to replace or suppliment the Mosin, which I sold to purchase ammo. Perhaps if I find the right buyer I can sell the K-31 to some collector and use the money from that to purchase a .308 rifle, but I'd want a semi automatic ideally. I figure if I only use the K-31 for long range stuff, which will be the exception rather than the rule, I can get by with reloading that and storing much less ammo. In a bugout situation I'll likely only be able to take one rifle anyway, and that one wouldn' t be it because I can't carry enough ammunition for it to be combat effective. The Saiga should be effective out to 500 meters, and that's further than I expect to have to shoot in most circumstances, and it can take larger game with headshots. I hope I'd be able to bring the .22 but it's a matter of how much you can carry. Everyone DOES have a tiered system of storage and preparation don't they?

    Keep on Preppin'

    Jeff Waite
    aka GIJeff

  7. #7
    Big Foot
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Ruger Mini-14' .223 or 5.56 prices comparable to the AR currently
    I have no personal experience with this weapon but magazines are difficult to come by, and if it breaks you have to send it back to the factory for repair, no parts are available for repair, so I'd steer clear of this one unless you get a REALLY good deal and consider it a throw away. It's certainly better than nothing, but don't count on it for the long haul.

    Jeff Waite
    aka GIJeff[/quote]
    Hi Jeff:
    The mini 14 is a very accurate .223 that will break down for cleaning with a bit of practice in seconds.
    And it can be repaired with parts from, um, I think it was Jack Frist, or Jack First. I had a firing pin holder pin break and disapear, and ordered a couple from him. That was about 20 years ago, still firing like new.

    Since my eyes don't like the scopes like they did 30 years ago, I found a screw on gizmo for the Mini 14 that replaces the top bracket out on the barrel that includes a weaver rail. Just undo the four screws, then swap out the piece with the new rail and put the four screws back in. I think it came from "Ranch Products". Then attach an extended eye relief scope, and wonder of wonders, I can see through a scope again with my glasses on.

  8. #8
    Big Foot
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    Ruger Mini-14' .223 or 5.56 prices comparable to the AR currently
    I have no personal experience with this weapon but magazines are difficult to come by, and if it breaks you have to send it back to the factory for repair, no parts are available for repair, so I'd steer clear of this one unless you get a REALLY good deal and consider it a throw away. It's certainly better than nothing, but don't count on it for the long haul.




    Just thought I'd mention that several years ago I bought several cheap magazines that were USA brand for the Mini 14, and every one was a piece of junk. I was able to get them to work by carefully trimming the hold in hole, but would never trust them anywhere critical.

    A friend of mine had a Daiwoo .223 that worked very well for him. I don't know if it is still available.

  9. #9

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    The Ruger Mini-14 is VERY finicky about magazines. I don’t trust anything but factory originals. Magazines have been available for order directly from Ruger for some time now – including 20 and 30 round mags.

  10. #10
    solar_biscuit
    Guest

    Re: SHTF Firepower on a Budget

    I bought a SW .40 Sigma for $300. It is a great pistol and I highly recommend one for close encounters!

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