Until relatively recent times, duels of honor were invariably preceded by the words “Gentlemen, choose your weapons.”

Today, the statement is still valid, but is more applicable to a different situation: that of being prepared as dark clouds once again loom on the horizon. And since Man’s propensity for self-destruction hasn’t waned in 5,000 years, there’s no reason to assume that the clouds won’t develop into a ballistic thunderstorm one more time.

No, this author isn’t paranoiac, and neither is he a modern-day Nostradamus, but the term “déjà vu” does come to mind. Thirty-five years later, it’s the same wall, built from the same bricks, with the same message written in the same handwriting. Only the location and some of the potential participants have changed. Once bitten, twice shy…

If you think that these are the writings of a lunatic, then so be it. But bear in mind that if you make the wrong call now, it’s not going to be long before you’ll be futilely flapping your wings like a woodpecker with rubber lips.

So, gentlemen, if you agree with the prognostication, it would appear that it’s time to choose your weapons.

And the primary question—as always—then becomes: For what potential type of thunderstorm are you preparing?

If it’s the “generic” one-day urban riot, a pair of guns will do: either one long gun—be it rifle, carbine or shotgun—and a pistol for backup; or a pair of pistols. If your preparation is for a potential home invasion, the same applies. On the other hand (which is the gist of this article), if you’re looking at a long-term survival battery, the game plan changes.

Most firearms enthusiasts—be they sports and competition shooters or those concerned about self-defense and long-term survival—possess more firearms than they need for the intended purpose. To clarify, many will fill their gun cabinets with a plethora of rifles, shotguns, and pistols “just in case.” And while most of us enjoy handling and occasionally firing the bulk of our collections, unfortunately the Good Lord designed us with only two hands. Which means that when the foreseen poo-poo actually does impact the oscillator, how many of these “just in case” firearms can you actually effectively carry and deploy?

So while the total collection is a joy to the owner, how many cars can the hypothetical Jay Leno drive at any one time if he has to bail out in a hurry? And thus hampered, which is the one car he would use to escape a burning garage? He might grab a Duesenberg or Stanley Steamer for monetary and rarity reasons to save it from a garage fire, but to save his life by hauling down the Interstate, Citizen Jay needs a fast and reliable muscle car.

So your long-term firearms survival battery is your muscle car. It must be fast, ultra-reliable, and capable of handling most terrain, all the while fed from a large-capacity gas tank. And even though no one car is capable of attaining these all-encompassing requirements, there is some good news: You can drive only one car at a time, but you can easily carry more than one gun.

The question then becomes which guns you choose from your collection to be used as a survival battery for your envisaged long-term problem.

If the situation at hand becomes as bad as it can get, and for an extended period of time, a shoulder-fired weapon becomes almost a mandatory choice. In a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome world, a single pistol probably isn’t going to cut the mustard. It may get through a couple of close quarters firefights, but its primary use would be to down an enemy so you can appropriate his long gun—and his heavy, weird-calibered ammunition—none of which physically dovetails with your other gear.

It’s far better to prepare in advance and take a brutally honest look at what long gun of your own you can realistically pack for a long span of time. And you need a lot of ammunition—a minimum of at least several hundred rounds. There isn’t much worse than seeing people running out of blood before they run out of ammunition.

This is a Last Man Standing scenario, remember? No nearby gun store, no dead buddies’ spare magazines to appropriate, no look-cool ammo container at the back of the firing range from which to replenish.

So for a long gun, you have essentially three choices: A rifle/carbine; a carbine, which runs ammunition compatible in caliber with your pistols; or last, but not least, a shotgun. And even though the shotgun, in its own right, reigns supreme in versatility, for a sustained conflict situation that could last for weeks—or possibly even months—the sheer weight of the gun and its ammunition probably precludes it as a first choice.

Which means you’re self-relegated to a rifle or carbine. A rifle is obviously more ballistically efficient, but again, overall weight and maintaining a respectable portable ammo supply could be a problem in a long-standing Doomsday scenario. Which is why many people look to the M4 carbine as their ultimate choice, though it is starting to gain more and more competition from the growing legions who support the Kalashnikov-based weapons systems (basically because the latter don’t have to be “pampered” like the M16 family of weapons to operate in inclement conditions—and also don’t wear out parts at a ridiculous rate).

The alternate choice in carbine format is based around a pistol-calibered diet, which allows the user to operate both the long gun and pistols with complementary magazines (unless in lever-action format). While many people sneer at the terminal ballistics of these carbines, the share-the-ammo concept has been around for over a century and has buried a lot of human targets. And not too many people walked away from the wrong end of an M1 carbine either…

As far as pistols go, whatever one carries daily will suffice, with the same caveat—high-capacity magazines are almost mandatory under a war-footing situation; preferably the same weapons systems with magazine interchangeability.

Yes, this article paints a dark picture. But as the old saying goes: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

Be prepared and read a couple of history books, because the wall is starting to go up again, and the storm clouds are gathering…

[Louis Awerbuck is Director of the internationally acclaimed Yavapai Firearms Academy. Course information and schedules are available at their website at www.yfainc.com]

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