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#132196 - 05/07/08 03:06 PM Caliber Choices.
MichaelJ Offline

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 114
Hello All,
Iíve really enjoyed the recent firearms threads. As with all things preparedness, thereís a lot to think about. Instead of considering different rifles, Iíd like you opinion on different calibers for ďsurvivalĒ use, hunting and defense. What handgun caliber and what long gun caliber (or calibers, including shotguns), and why?

Iíll start.
This is only from research. I have yet to buy a firearm and am currently shooting a breach action .17 that was a gift.

Itís seems the .22LR is the overall hands down choice. Itís cheap, widely available and ideal for small game hunting.

Iím not sure about a larger, longer range, bigger game caliber. 25-06, 30-06, 30-30, .223 308. This is what Iím most confused about. Iím going out this weekend to try as many calibers as I can. Hopefully Iíll find a preference.

The same for handguns. 9mm seems standard, but I don't know enough yet.

12 gage seems to be the way to go for the shotgun. Though 20 gage and 410 have their places.


#132199 - 05/07/08 03:27 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: MichaelJ]

I'm no gun nut but I've been looking into this too.

.22LR is cheapest and easiest to carry in quantities and is going to be my first choice.

For bigger game, I'm convinced that the best choice should be based on availability. The 3 most common sizes available in north america as far as I've been able to determine is 12 ga., .308, 30-06...not necessarily in that order. One of the local gun shops has a pallet of .308 boxes right in the middle of the floor ready to sell 250 rounds at a time and I'm sure there's many more in the back.

When the time comes to buy a large calibre rifle, I'll likely go with the shotgun...it's just too damned versatile especially if you get one with a second rifled barrel. I like to think my opinion is somewhat unbiased since I've never owned a gun before.

#132200 - 05/07/08 03:46 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: ]
MichaelJ Offline

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 114
Thanks Hacksaw. Will you go with a 12 gage? What type?

#132201 - 05/07/08 03:52 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: MichaelJ]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5099
It really comes down to what you see as your most likely target in a survival situation. Small game, varmints, deer, other armed opposition. . . My choices are some of each. .22LR, 5.56 NATO and .308 Win.

#132202 - 05/07/08 04:15 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: MichaelJ]
Paul810 Offline

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
I remember reading an article years ago about .30-06 being able to take everything from rabbit to elk with the right loads. While I wouldn't go that far, I still think .30-06 is tough to beat.

My 5 favorites are:
12 Gauge shotgun in a 3" chamber
.223 Remington
.30-06 Springfield
.375 H&H (not really common in the lower US states, but very common for big game)

However, I also like .17HMR, .22-250, .243, .270, .30-30, .308, .300 Win mag, .338 Win Mag, .45-70, and a bunch of others. whistle

With those first five you can take on game anywhere and they're all relatively common. However, they're also not perfect. For example, .223 isn't quite as flat shooting as .22-250. .30-06 is the same way when compared to .300 Win mag, however it's slightly better than .308 (but, .308 is slightly smaller, making it easier to carry more, and can often be slightly cheaper).

I try to stick with calibers that are common and multi-purpose. There are a lot of wildcat rounds that are awesome for their specialized purpose, but difficult to find and expensive.

There is always a compromise, and therefore one has to decide what their requirements are and what best fills them. There is no magic bullet that can do everything perfectly.

#132203 - 05/07/08 04:18 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: MichaelJ]
rly45acp Offline

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 18
Loc: SW Indiana
I'm not sure what you're preparing for, but for emergencies where you may have to defend yourself/family against other humans, I'd look at the following:

Handguns: 9mm, 40S&W, 45acp for service size pistol; 9mm or 38 Spl (the latter in older Smith J-frame for BUG use (BUG=BackUp Gun) I'd stay away from 357 Sig since it gives identical wound ballistics as 9mm, but with more wear and tear on the host piece and the shooter and is harder to come by.

Rifles: 223/5.56, 6.8 SPC, 30 Carbine, 308. This would be in bolt or semi-auto rifles. The 6.8 is clearly superior to the 223/5.56 in virtually any test you wish to conduct, and fires from the same platforms. Not as popular, but if you stock up on ammo it's not a problem.

Shotguns: 12 gauge. It's universal and tactical buckshot loads give better "performance" against living tissue than magnum loads, even though it was originally designed for small statured cops to use. The reduced velocity prevents pellet deformation and therefore gives both better patterns and increased penetration. Standard Foster-type slugs are good, and there are low recoil loads available. Where more power is needed (big animals or barriers, look at the Brenneke loads.

As for platforms/ammo to use these in:

Rifles: Quality AR-15's such as the Colt 6920, Noveske, LMT, etc. Stay away from 1/9" twist 223/5.56 if possible as 1/7" twist is better with heavier, more effective 75 and 77 gr. loads. The best loads in this caliber are the Hornady 5.56 and 223 77 Gr. TAP loads (the 5.56 load is higher pressure, higher velocity and gives you an edge at 300 meter) and the Black Hills Nosler 60 gr. You can also get barrier rounds from Federal and Hornady if you look around. These come in 55 and 62 grain loads. Either is fine. The new S&W M&P 15's are proving to be fine rifles, but they have only 1/9" twist. If you use them, you may want to stock up on the Blacks Hills 60 gr. Nosler load. The new Magpul Masada may prove excellent, but since Bushmaster will produce it, the jury is still out. Civilian versions of the FN-SCAR are supposed to be on the market later this year. Don't hold your breath.

6.8: There are MANY fine loads in this caliber. More info can be privided if you need it, but you can get good barrier loads here that are also good for hunting, self defence, etc. This is a fine caliber in AR-type rifles.

30 Carbine - This is a poor choice with FMJ, but loaded with Remington's 110gr. Soft Point it gives performance equal to or superior to even the best 223/5.56 loads out to 100 yards. In a self defence scenario, this is fine. It's great for small statured folks, is light in weight and with the extremely reliable 15 round magazines it doesn't have that "assualt rifle" look that scares the PHRASECENSOREDPOSTERSHOULDKNOWBETTER.. Fine rifles can be obtained from both Fulton Armory and MILTECH. Make sure you get one with the later edition sights, round bolt and 30 round mag release. Auto Ordnance is producing these rifles again, but the jury is still out as to the overall quality. By the way, the Remington 110 gr. SP load works better against auto bodies and windshields than almost any 5.56 load, while still offering acceptable penetration/expansion AFTER penetrating the intermediate material. Israeli reserve security forces still use the M1 Carbine for oviously good reasons.

308 - This will take any big game animal in the continental U.S. if you do your part. I wouldn't pick it as my first or even 5th choice for grizzlies, but if it's all I had, I can load it out to get the job done. The most effective ammunition for self defense is the 155 gr. Hornady A-Max match bullet loaded by both Hornady and Black Hills. Out to 600 yards it provides non-survivable wounds if placed in the chest cavity. The Accubond 165 and 180 grain loads are every accurate barrier penetrating loads that also work well on large game such as elk. Nosler Partitions in 150 grain are also excellent loads in 308 and on par with the 155 gr. A-Max. Rifles would include pre-ban H&K 91's, Springfield M1A's, and FN-FAL's. I prefer the latter and have significant trigger time on all three. DSArms makes fine FAL variants for nearly every need you can imagine. The various AR-platform 308's have all provem problematic to date. There may be better options on the horizon, but it's too soon to tell.

Handguns: 9mm: Glock 17 or 19, S&W M&P, H&K (various models), Springfield EMP, CZ or Armalite CZ-75 are all excellent handguns. (There are other fine 9mm pistols, but this list covers some pretty fine stuff.) Pick the one that fits your hand and you shoot the best. Everyone has a favorite. All those listed are excellent and will provide reliable service. Each has its faults and strengths, but they will all work well if you learn to shoot them and PRACTICE a LOT. GET PROPER TRAINING.

40 S&W - At this time I have to put the S&W M&P at the top of this list. Unlike the Glock 40's which have proven troublesome in this caliber, the M&P was designed at the outset for the 40 and has a longer frame life than the Glock by at least 10k rounds. They are also far more ergonomic to a majority of human hands. H&K also has some nice 40's, but the ergos on the Smith allow them to give less felt recoil than any other 40 on the market. This is subjective of course, but it is very noticeable in side-by-side comparisons. the interchangable back straps also allow them to fit nearly any hand.

45acp - Springfield, CZ, Nighthawk (ridiculously expensive) make fine 1911 pistols that usually work well from the box. 1911's tend to need tweaking. If going the custom route on 1911's (recommended), I'd start out with a Colt new model Series 70 (not the original Series 70) or Caspian frame/slide. Stay away from any 1911 with the Swarz safety, which means the S&W's and any Kimber with a "II" in it's name. For non-1911's, I'd look at H&K and the new S&W M&P. Glock 45's are problematic, irrespective of those on this forum who have one that's never given problems. They also don't fit too many hands well.

In pistol calibers, get the one you shoot the best. With modern JHP's, there's statistically little difference in effectiveness provided you use good quality JHP's. If you are forced to use FMJ, then go 45 since it is the only caliber listed that will create secondary missile wounds from crushed bones as it passes through. The 9 and 40 can't do this in FMJ. Almost anyone can shoot 9mm, and my 5'1" wife shoots 9mm and 45 acp very well, having competed some years back with a 45 auto.

Shotguns: This one is easy. Get a Remington 870 Police model. If you can afford it, get one customized by Hans Vang. Sorry, but the Mossberg and Benelli guns don't have a good track record when handled harshly (as in survial conditions). They may be fine on the range or in the hunting field, but when they start getting banged around and abused, the alloy receivers cause fits. As with all things, YMMV.

This only covers defensive firearms. If you want more traditonal hunting style rifles, etc., there are simply too many fine firearms out there to try to list.

For rimfire rifles, I like the Marlin Papoose for a take-down rifle or the out-of-print Marlin 39 TDS. The new Browning T-bolt is a nifty, lightweight bolt action 22 rifle that should be great for survival purposes, as would be nearly any Marlin, Savage, or CZ bolt gun, the Marlin semi-autos and the ubiquitous Ruger 10-22. I have an old Remington 541-T that shoots like a theodolite. It's my favorite squirrel rifle ever. Whatever you get, put good optics on it. They are at least as important as the rifle inself.

Others will have differing opinions, but if you stick with the firearms lised here, you won't be doing bad. There are many current firearms in vogue I did not mention due to problems being encountered in the field. The firearms I listed are those I know tend to work and work well. However, all of these are of course made by man and so you can get a lemon. And as with all things, YMMV.

Edited by rly45acp (05/07/08 04:25 PM)

#132205 - 05/07/08 04:24 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: MichaelJ]
Taurus Offline

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 458
Loc: Northern Canada
This has all the makings to become a heated debate. Gun/calibre choices always do....

Guns are like beer, we all have a brand we like best but at the end of the day they will all get you drunk.

I wont get long winded, rather I will simply say that if you stick to the tried and tested calibres you will not go wrong.

I stick to what history has proven effective and I stick to the theory that if it isn't broke then don't fix it.

for a rifle a .270 or a .308 are excellent on large game, and widely available. IMHO nothing beats the good old .30-06, They will drop any game on this continent, regardless about what the high calibre nuts will try to tell you. You can go from a 65 gr sabot round for varmit hunting up to a 250 gr monster for polar bear all with the same gun. They are cheaper and widely available.(some calibers are impossible to find) EVERY single new fancy gun I can think of right now has a model chambered for one of these calibers. For a good reason too, they work. And my .30-06 has dropped more game than my friends .300 win mag. The performance between the two cartridges may become a factor at 500 + meter shots, but I usually don't shoot that far while hunting anyway because the risk of wounding game at those ranges is too great. Even so, WW II snipers had no problems dropping enemy troops at 1000 meters with an 06. The .30-06 has been the standard by which every other hunting cartridge invented since has been judged, and after 100+ years it is still the most popular hunting cartridge worldwide. Do a quick Google search an do some reading and you will be amazed at the history of this round.

The same applies to the good old .45 ACP, the .357 mag and the 12 gauge, all have been proven effective in combat, or the field by police, military and hunter alike.

This is not to knock the other calibres out there, as there are some fine ones indeed.

Its best to fire a few and pick what you like most and work from there. But depending on your choices there may be problems. I sold my .338-06 because I just cannot find ammo for it anywhere, nor can I find the reloading dies to reload the rounds myself. As with any gun purchase, there are certain aspects of logistics that need consideration. I can walk in to ANY gun store in Canada and find .30-06, .308, .270, .22 LR, .45 ACP, .357 mag, .38 spec OR 12 GA. Re-loading components are cheap and brass/hulls can be found at any gun range for free.

Popular calibers are cheaper to by factory made as well. A box of .410 bore will actually cost more than twice the amount of 12 ga ammo.

just MHO. Happy shopping grin

#132207 - 05/07/08 04:35 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: Paul810]
jaywalke Offline

Registered: 12/22/07
Posts: 172
Loc: Appalachian mountains
Definitely agree with the 12ga and .22LR.

.223 is fun to shoot but there are a lot of areas that won't allow it for whitetail hunting, so I wouldn't call it a game round for North America.

.30-06, 30-30 and .308 seem to come down to personal preference. I find them equally available, but since I don't hunt any more or do long-range target shooting I haven't bothered to buy a rifle of this size.

Handgun ammo is more divided. I shoot .40 S&W because I like the combination of speed and whack, but I've considered a .357 magnum revolver paired with a lever action rifle in the same caliber. Simple, Luddite, non-tactical technology that would also shoot cheap-and-easy-to-find .38 Special. You can take deer with .357, too, although not at great ranges.

If I was buying solely for survival purposes, it would be:
Ruger 10/22 .22LR semi-auto rifle
Mossberg 500 12ga shotgun
Smith & Wesson 686+ .38/.357 revolver
Marlin 1894C .38/.357 rifle

Edited by jaywalke (05/07/08 04:36 PM)

#132211 - 05/07/08 04:47 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: ]
MoBOB Offline

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1219
Loc: here
If it was one long gun for survival, hunting, and defense; Hands down the 12 guage. IIRC, the late renowned gunsmith and cartidge designer Frank Barnes once quipped if that he had to chose a single gun to travel the world with it would be the 12 guage. Good enough for me.

Now, if you are going to throw a handgun in the mix I'd go with the .22LR. Pistol or revolver? Your choice. Non-destructive on little critters of the meat variety.

If you need to have a rifle then I belive the .30-06 is the ticket. Caveat, the .308 crowd will call you nuts and say you can take equal game with their darling. This cartidge applies to the Continental U.S. If you are going north of the 49th parallel then the either the .338 Win Mag is probably a better choice. Fierce critters in the arboreal North; Canada and Alaska.

All that to say this: Like IzzyJG99 says - 12 guage. Although I prefer the Ithaca 37.
"Its not a matter of being ready as it is being prepared" -- B. E. J. Taylor

#132215 - 05/07/08 05:08 PM Re: Caliber Choices. [Re: ]

I love how this turned into another 'what gun' debate almost in the blink of an eye.

Personally I haven't decided what make and model I'm going to buy because as far as survival guns go I never intend to put myself in a situation where my survival relies on the function of a firearm...my purchase will be purely recreational with survival in mind...way in the back of my mind.

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