The Essential Four: ammo you need to survive Doomsday

By Miguel C. Gil

The global financial meltdown of 2008 may have been the catalyst for the renewed interest in post-Apocalyptic survival preparations. What began with the US subprime market’s collapse quickly spread to developed countries in Europe and Asia—where it continues to sow uncertainty. Suddenly faced with the threat of poverty, citizens of developed economies may no longer feel safe in their first-world cocoon.

The end is near? A meteor, estimated to be around 17 meters long, exploded over Central Russia last Feb. 15, wounding thousands. The event may have further validated the fears of Doomsday "preppers." (Video grab courtesy of unknown Russian motorist)
The end is near? A meteor, estimated to be around 17 meters long, exploded over Central Russia last Feb. 15, wounding thousands. The event may have further fueled the fears of Doomsday prophets. (Video grab courtesy of unknown Russian motorist)

Perhaps this preoccupation with wayward asteroids, dirty-bomb attacks, super viruses, volcanic eruptions, mega earthquakes and even… re-animated cadavers, is really a manifestation of the fear of poverty and social disenfranchisement. This may be why “weirdos” and other social outcasts no longer have a monopoly over Doomsday “prepping.” Mainstream society has seen the wisdom in being reasonably prepared for emergencies.

Civil unrest will most likely be the biggest killer should a civilization-altering catastrophe take place tomorrow.  Of course, surviving any sort of nationwide if not worldwide disaster, whether natural or man-made, will entail the stock-piling of various logistics. But for the purpose of this article, let us focus on firearms and ammunition that you cannot be without whether you decide to “bug-in” or “bug-out.”

HDJ's Essential Four: In the author's opinion, the four most basic survival cartridges to have when social institutions break down and widespread chaos sets in include: the .22LR, the 12 gauge, the 9MM Parabellum and the 5.56 NATO. (Photo by IGG)
HDJ’s Essential Four: In the author’s opinion, the four most basic survival cartridges to have when social institutions break down and widespread chaos sets in include: the .22LR, the 12 gauge, the 9MM Parabellum and the 5.56 NATO. (Photo by IGG)

The prudent survivalist should never be caught without firearms that chamber these four popular cartridges. Bear in mind that these choices were not dictated by personal preference, but rather by general availability. After all, it is easier to forage for ammunition that is readily available. Our essential four include; the .22LR, 12 gauge, 9mm Parabellum and 5.56 NATO.

.22 Long Rifle. Rifles and pistols chambered for this trusted rimfire cartridge come in all makes and models—from the biggest manufacturers to the most obscure.

The .22LR is probably produced by every ammunition manufacturer in the world today. Even small makers surely produce the generic 40-grain high-velocity round. Bigger firms will produce variants tailor-made for small game hunting, precision shooting and even for defense. Aside from availability and variety, .22LR ammo is relatively inexpensive.

Basic necessity: every household should have a .22LR carbine like this Armscor M-1600. Styled along the lines of an M-16, it has intimidation value! This economically priced semi-auto will be priceless if law & order breaks down. (Photo by IGG)
Basic necessity: Every household should have a .22LR carbine like this Armscor M-1600. Styled along the lines of an M-16, it has intimidation value! This low-cost semi-auto will become priceless when law & order disintegrates. (Photo by IGG)

If food becomes scarce, it may be necessary for you to use your trusty .22 to hunt for small-game in order to keep body and soul together! Most thus-chambered rifles from major brands, be they bolt-action, lever-action, pump-action, single-shot or semi-auto, will shoot accurately enough to make serviceable hunting guns. Longer-barreled pistols and revolvers in this caliber may also serve in the hunting role.

Obviously, the .22LR is not the preferred caliber to use in a gunfight. But in a post-Apocalyptic scenario, you may have to use whatever equipment is on hand to fight-off the marauding multitudes bent on to harming you and your family! Just be sure to stock up on modern high-performance ammo because they will likely give your rifle or pistol a performance boost!

If you need to become mobile, the matter of weight also favors the .22LR. Carrying 1,000 rounds (20 boxes) of it in your backpack or “go bag” is no big deal.

12 gauge. The versatile and powerful 12 gauge shotgun deserves a place in every survival arsenal. Ammunition is also widely available to fill the hunting, training, competition and defensive niche. While some exotic loads may be a bit pricy, generic shotgun ammo is usually quite cheap.

Shotguns have been a mainstay of both fowl and deer hunters for well over a century, so its suitability for hunting is without question. Bird shots will make short work of most feathered as well as other small game. Buck shots and slugs will work best for deer-sized animals.

Old reliable: (l) The 12 GA pump-action shotgun has been a mainstay among hunters and security-minded civilians for the past century. (r) It is robust, reliable and will chamber a myriad of loads for different applications. (Photo by IGG)
Old reliable: (l) The 12 GA pump-action shotgun has been a mainstay among hunters and security-minded civilians for the past century. (r) It is robust, reliable and will chamber a myriad of loads for different applications. (Photo by IGG)

The 12 gauge shotgun continues to be issued to law enforcers as well as soldiers worldwide. Loaded with 00 buck shots, the shotgun remains perhaps the most formidable long arm at closer ranges. Meanwhile, one-ounce slugs extend the shotgun’s range while enhancing accuracy. The commercial introduction of less-lethal loads adds a new dimension to the 12 gauge’s already impressive versatility!

As a general survival arm, the pump-action shotgun is probably the most preferred. Aside from their inherent simplicity and robustness, they tend to be more ammunition tolerant compared to semi-autos. The pump-action will reliably cycle light loads as well as less-lethal ammo while the semi-auto may not.

The image of the 12 gauge as a heavy kicker is not always deserved. Light practice loads are available for young and slightly-built shooters. In an end-of-the-world scenario, kids and petite women may be pressed into defense and hunting duties so these light loads could prove invaluable.

9MM Luger (Parabellum). Let us not go into the undying 9mm versus .45 debate! It is a fact that the 9mm (9×19) is the most commonly issued pistol cartridge in the free world and beyond!  Since supply and re-supply will become essential, it will be comforting to know that ammo is available even in the most far-flung third-world country.

There is a lot to choose from as far as 9mm ammo is concerned, but the old 115-grain FMJ and the 124-grain NATO-issue FMJ may still be the most readily available and inexpensive. While big-bore proponents question the 9mm FMJ’s capacity to produce one-shot-stops consistently, it remains the issued load to most troops. In its favor is the fact that the FMJ will reliably chamber in older pistols and submachine guns.

Just right: The 9MM remains the preferred pistol round of most military and police agencies despite the availability of bigger and more powerful cartridges. The introduction of carbine "chassis" like this RONI unit do nothing to enhance the 9MM's power downrange. However, they may allow the shooter to use the pistol more efficiently over longer ranges. (Photo by MCG)
Just right: The 9MM remains the preferred pistol round of most military and police agencies worldwide. The use of aftermarket accessories like this RONI unit do nothing to enhance the 9MM’s power downrange. However, they may allow the shooter to use the pistol more efficiently thereby extending its reach. (Photo by MCG)

Defensive pistols chambered in this cartridge are legion! Because of the 9mm’s mild-mannered nature, especially with standard pressure ammo, they are suited to small shooters as well as the recoil-sensitive. Loading your defense gun with JHP’s and the newer high-performance loads should make up for the perceived lack in the 9mm’s size.

Pistol-calibre carbines in the commercial market abound. Most of these military-style and traditionally-styled carbines are chambered for the 9mm. They undoubtedly provide an additional platform for the 9mm to be employed for defense. But just as interesting is the fact that they can be very efficient as light hunting carbines. In an emergency, surviving military and police units will surely hoard rifle ammo so your pistol fodder should be able to multi-task!

5.56 NATO (5.56×45) Again, let as avoid the .223 versus .308 debate here! If your country issues the 5.56 as its primary service round, then you should not be without a rifle or carbine thus chambered. Ammunition availability always trumps power or range when law & order breaks down!

The 5.56 is a proven anti-personnel round up to about 300 meters given it is fired from a gun of sufficient barrel length, according to experts. But as defense-minded citizens who are just trying to survive some cataclysm, we have no business shooting at others that far! The survivalist should not attempt to engage anyone who is too far to do any harm! Remember, we want civilization to continue not give it a coup de gras!

Stoner's legacy: (clockwise) Author inspects a piston-driven, AR-derived rifle manufactured by UDMC, A more straightforward  take on the M4 is the Firebird, made by Metro Arms, another Philippine firm. Most militay-style 5.56 rifles and carbines feed of the AR magazine. (Photo by Anthony James)
Philippine-made AR’s: (clockwise) Author inspects a brand-new piston-driven “AR” from UDMC, in a plant visit last year. An employee of Metro Arms displays the firm’s straight-forward take on the M-4. Many military-style rifles today feed from M-16 magazines for logistical simplicity. (Photo by Anthony James)

In the hunting role, the 5.56 can also prove especially efficient. The military-style rifle or carbine may easily double-duty as a hunting gun without modification. Even with basic iron sights they often can bring down game effectively at moderate ranges… but the addition of optics will surely make them better.

Let us not forget that a well-rounded survival gun should transcend being a mere combat weapon but should also be capable of putting food on the table! You best bear this in mind the next time you shop for accessories to clamp unto your fancy AR-style 5.56 carbine!

We would like to emphasize that the Essential Four only represents the firearms that you should not be without in a crisis of epic proportions. If you prefer your guns in .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 6.8 SPC, 7.62×51, 7.62×39, 30-06 or even .50 BMG, then more power to you! Just make sure you stock up on sufficient ammo.

Fortunately, the probability of civilization falling asunder anytime soon is very, very low, according to scientists and geopolitical experts! Having said that however, “prepping” for Doomsday is always prudent… as it is often enjoyable! If anything can be derived from this endeavor, it is many additional hours of bonding time with family and friends!

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