Hopefully, it doesn’t happen. Hopefully, we are never forced into a bad situation that requires us to rely on a firearm. However, if it ever does come to that, you need to know that you have the tools to put food on the table, keep predators at bay, and defend what is yours.
Thankfully, some of these tools are already available to you. I’ve put together a list of five of the most popular utility guns that are reliable, durable, and available on the market. When the going gets tough, these guns will not let you down, and they won’t break the bank either.
12 Gauge Shotgun
The Twelve Gauge is a firearm that should have a place in every home. If you have to choose just one gun, this is it.
The twelve-gauge is like a paint roller, it works in broad strokes. Ammunition is cheap and comes in a variety of options: bird-shot, buck-shot, and slugs.
For home defense, small game, pest control and all the way up to big game, the twelve-gauge has you covered.
If you go with a pump-action, which I highly recommend, you get the bonus of the sound it makes when you cycle a round. Few sounds can strike fear in the heart of men like the racking of a twelve gauge.
My recommendation is the Remington Model 870. This is one of the best-selling shotguns in history for its reliability, durability, and price. I’d also recommend upgrading it with a shotgun optic.
Bolt Action Hunting Rifle
A shotgun is going to cover a lot of bases, but it has a weakness: If your target is past the hundred-yard mark, you are going to want something that can put shots on target without losing stopping power or accuracy.
With a bolt action hunting rifle, you are getting ease of use and reliability paired with incredible stopping power for taking down large game.
With the addition of an adjustable scope, ethically placed shots are much easier to execute, guaranteeing you a healthy supply of meat.
From taking down elk in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest to antelope in the rolling scrub of Wyoming, a scoped rifle will give you access to long-range engagement that no other weapon can match. 7mm, 30-30 and .300 caliber ammunition tend to be some of the most popular rounds for dispatching big game.
My recommendation is the Browning A-Bolt. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more well respected and reliable rifle for the price.
The Taurus Judge
A specific pick. Not only is this a unique and versatile gun, but it’s also one of my favorite guns hands down. If I had to pick my perfect bedroom gun, it would be the Taurus Judge. A handheld shotgun in my bedside drawer?
Chambered to use .410 shotshells AND .45 Colt, this hybrid revolver certainly has its uses. The Judge can get some hate for being a fun gun that is suitable only for target shooting and blasting watermelons. But, if you need a sidearm that can fill the role of: Field gun, snake gun, small bird/game hunter, car gun, and home defender, you needn’t look any further. But if you just want to throw clay pigeons in the air with your left hand and bust them with a cannon in your right? I’m not going to stop you. If forced to choose I would go with the stainless. Every time.
When I think of civilization breaking down, I tend to think less Mad Max and more about finding my own food and water. Even in the best case scenario, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If I had to choose a weapon to defend my home, my property, and my family at medium to long-range distance, I would choose something chambered in .223. The Mini-14 by Ruger, Sturm Co. gives you access to the popular and effective .223 cartridge while keeping a familiar shape and feel to your grandpa’s ranch rifle.
In fact, your grandpa’s ranch gun may well be a Mini-14 since it’s been around since 1973.
My recommendation: The Ruger Ranch Rifle 4
The .22 Rifle
If I had to pick one gun to take with me as I explored a world devoid of civilization in which I was forced to hunt and scrounge for survival. I would choose the humble .22 caliber rifle.
I spent many days in my youth wandering mountainsides with pockets full of .22 cartridges, firing away at cans and bottle caps.
While it’s not legal or ethical to hunt large game with a .22 these days, in a survival situation, in the right hands it is one hundred percent capable of dropping large game.
This is the gun that you learn to shoot with. It’s the gun that most people harvest their first animal with, whether it’s grouse hunting or culling pests.
A .22 rifle is lightweight, reliable, and inexpensive to own and fire. Ammo is dirt cheap and even available by the bucket. Really, it is.
All I’m saying, folks, is that size doesn’t always matter. With patience and practice, a .22 can deliver a lot of power in a tiny package.
My recommendations: The Henry Survival AR-7 or my personal favorite, The Henry Classic Lever Action. Best Christmas present I ever received.
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast, and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field.