It’s a short video clip that will live on. Even though it’s out of focus and pixilated: Through the forest, you can make out a tall figure of a walking, hairy… well, whatever it is – we’re led to believe that it’s Big Foot.
We preppers also have mythical creatures of our own. Like trying to catch a Pegasus, we set out to find that perfect, all-purpose tool. Sometimes it’s a do-all knife or a shelter system that’s both invincible and lightweight.
My Pegasus Rifle
In my own prepping, I have once attempted to hunt for that perfect, all-purpose rifle. I wanted it to be reasonably priced and adaptable for engagements from zero to 600 yards, quick on the draw, magazine-fed, semi-automatic, durable, dependable, low maintenance, chambered in a common caliber, tactical… and perhaps, if in any way possible… brew the best espresso on this side of the Mississippi.
However, much to my own dismay, after years of searching the globe – or Google, rather – my expeditions left my safe empty of this elusive creature. Many have given me ideas that might come close to my outlandish criteria: AR’s, the Ruger M77, the M1A, the Mossberg MVP, AK variants and even the Kel-Tec SU16C.
Then, it dawned on me: Guns are tools. You wouldn’t ask only a hammer to build a house from foundation to plumbing, so why would I have such an expectation of a rifle? Nope, you’re going to want access to a wide range of industrial equipment to build that house, using the proper tools for each task.
I’ve finally discovered the sobering reality, which had been in front of me the entire time. Turns out, I should have just listened to my good friends and the veteran wise men of the military.
“Gear up for the mission at hand, they say.”
Ah, well that makes more sense.
So, here are a few factors to consider when choosing your own ‘all-purpose’ rifle.
1. Range It… and Be Realistic About Your Expectations
From scouring online forums, it’s easy to find lots of armchair commandos and mall ninjas that will criticize a certain rifle – based on a strict standard of having no less than 2 MOA – Minutes of Angle.
I won’t go into exactly what that means, but let’s just say that sub to 2 MOA is pretty darn accurate. While it might not be a ‘tack driver,’ this is certainly nothing to scoff at. However, these same sniper-caliber expectations are often applied to all rifle platforms, and that’s like comparing apples to oranges.
This is one reason why I’ve come up with an understanding that, depending on your geographical region, you should trade certain accuracy strengths for dependability and rate-of-fire capabilities. For instance…
In regions where there is endless open ground with very little cover – you’re going to want a rifle and caliber with 1,000-yard striking capabilities. The flat parts of the U.S. Midwest, the Southwestern deserts, areas with lots of farmland and many parts of the Rockies would require the ability to take game – or a hostile target – over obscenely long distances.
In regions with denser cover, such as woodlands and swamplands, like most of the Eastern U.S. and parts of the Northwest, you likely will never have to take a shot much past 200 yards. If anything, you’re probably looking at most engagements happening within 50 yards.
In urban zones – this really depends on your philosophy of use; however, you’re probably not going to be taking any bear or a moose, so a heavy caliber is not going to be as necessary. If anything, I’d suggest a light weapon with a range capability of zero to 300 yards.
Urban zones are tactically challenging, especially from a gear perspective. Not only do you have certain areas that are wide, open spaces, but there’s also still plenty of cover. In these situations, you’re going to need the ability to have a fast-handling rifle that will allow you to take multiple targets at speed, which brings me to my next point.
2. High Hostility Factor
Say, for instance, you believe you’re going to have to fight off a horde of zombie goblin-like airsoft enthusiasts, armed with AK-47s. Yes, that was absurd, but follow me on this…
If you were in an urban zone or an area with lots of woodland cover, then would you even want a hard-hitting rifle that could strike targets at 600 yards?
Personally, I would decline that offer for even a cheaper Romanian AK variant, a shotgun, a compact AR or even a pistol caliber rifle – Kel-Tec Sub2000. Why? Well, I’ve found that when you trade range, you often receive a faster handling, a more agile and a higher rate-of-fire capable rifle in return.
Even so, if you were using an M1A in a possible close-quarters – CQB – engagement, you’d be swinging around a rifle that is semi-auto and magazine-fed. In order for it to be used as a long-range target taker, though, the rifle’s barrel must be longer, its mechanics more stout and heavier to accommodate the 7.62×51 – .308 – round, and now you have to deal with the issue of sighting – optics. This rifle is going to be heavy, harder to handle and the optics, which were originally sighted at 100 yards, are going to cause you problems within CQB ranges. In this situation, the goblin mall ninjas are superiorly armed.
That’s also NOT to say that your M1A isn’t going to be invaluable in such a scenario, but the rest of your team is probably going to be running AR’s or AK’s. Now, onto the flip side of that coin…
3. Low Hostility Factor
Say, your plan is to bug out, make for the hills and leave civilization in your dust. Chances are, you’re probably not looking at a high frequency of pitched battles.
If anything, you’re probably looking at an occasional standoff, but most of your shooting will be spent taking critters.
Your greatest threat will likely be starvation. You can also be fairly certain that an enemy horde won’t be ‘sneaking up on you’ out there, so being able to put mass amounts of rounds downrange isn’t as big of a priority, as being able to harvest a meal.
In this way, I wouldn’t want to tick off a bear or elk by slinging a 5.56 at them. That’s just asking for a claw-clad spanking, or worse – wounding the noble beast and not actually taking them. This is why I’d recommend a precision purposed bolt-action rifle in nothing less than a .308, if you’re in open ground; or you select, perhaps a lever-action 30-30 for white-tail deer in Appalachia, since you’re not likely to have a clear, ethical shot past 200 yards.
The idea here is simple: The closer the targets, the higher rate-of-fire and faster handling you will need. The further out your targets go; you can begin to dedicate your capabilities to longer ranges. You’re just not going to need a semi-auto if you’re shooting at a target that’s 600 yards away… the recoil alone would nullify such a feature.
Essentially, I’m not giving you specific suggestions for the rifle you should choose for your own system. My aim for this post is to enlighten you to the understanding that you should select the ‘perfect’ rifle for your mission.
This is why you should plan the mission first, and THEN plan how you will be armed. Whether you’re bugging out or hunkering down, you will not find one rifle that will do everything – and even if it did catch that Pegasus, then it will automatically be inferior to the rifles that the enemy purposed for that particular mission.
So, dear friends, stop hunting the elusive Sasquatch. Instead, hunt the beasties you know are out already there. At least that way, you won’t go hungry•
This article is talking about self defense and hunting in both everyday scenarios such as home invasion and in hypothetical such as end of the world type scenarios where it may be required that you defend yourself with lethal force – nothing more, nothing less. The author is not promoting the use of firearm to hurt or kill people in a malicious or illegal fashion.