Survival Battery: 5 Guns Everyone Should Own

We in gun culture love our debates. Frequently, we see videos or articles centered around, “If you could have only one…” I guess it’s a way for people to reduce things to the most basic denominator or the “Best” particular weapon or weapons. Of course, those thinking of having only a basic battery of weapons often cringe at being limited in their weapon selection.

For those just getting started, you may not have many weapons to choose from. Remember back to around 2020 when the Great Plague was making its appearance. Strange things were afoot, and people who never imagined wanting a firearm suddenly figured out that having a gun or two might not be the worst idea ever. Gun shops were filled with first-time buyers, the majority of whom hadn’t the faintest clue what sort of gun(s) they should buy. Of course, most of these folks also neglected any sort of training for this new endeavor, but that’s the content for another tirade altogether.

A few friends and I discussed this and which firearms would make up the core of a basic battery. Most people who are “into” guns own more than five, but how about the beginner looking to get set up for basic hunting/defense/survival? And thus, in my tiny mind, was borne the subject of this article.


When anyone asks me what sort of gun they should get, my answer is always, “What are you looking to do with it?” Sometimes, that causes a pause and a furrowed brow because the person may not have entirely thought that part through. Very often, the answer will be, “I want it for self-defense.”

This particular article (or babbling rant, as some people affectionately refer to my writing) will give suggestions that will cover just about any need you may be looking to fill with a firearm. Sure, as we get more into guns, people typically add more to their collection. That said, if we wish to have a well-rounded, capable collection, we have to check off certain boxes with firearms that possess certain attributes.

A well-rounded battery should be able to provide protection, hunt for food, and plinking for fun and practice, at the very least. Now, we’ll take a look at some of my picks.


A handgun should be part of any firearm battery. My pick of caliber is 9mm because it’s a NATO round and available everywhere. This is especially true as more law enforcement agencies return to 9mm after a couple of decades of worshipping the .40 S&W.

Glock 19X and weapon light.
The author’s pick of handgun is the Glock 19X in 9mm. Here, it is shown with a NightStick TWM-30F weapon light. Glock embodies reliability and parts, including magazines, that are widely available. [Photo: Jim Davis]
The Glock 19 is probably the best choice available. Again, it’s for availability; parts are everywhere and easy to come by. It’s concealable and can be carried for self-defense, on duty, or in combat. I’ve personally gone with the Glock 19X, as it has a ton of excellent attributes, embodying the best qualities of the Glock 17 and the Glock 19. The Glock 19, of course, can accept all magazines from the Glock 19X and Glock 17.

Glocks have superb reliability and durability, as well as good accuracy. I have some other favorite handguns that are more concealable and lighter, but the Glock is an all-around winner.

Bolt Action Rifle

A bolt action rifle in a major caliber can be a real asset. Many people choose the Remington 700 because of its prevalence in the civilian, military, and law enforcement communities. They’re very popular, and spare parts/aftermarket parts are everywhere. Aside from popularity, the 700 is reliable and accurate, generally speaking.

Personally, I went with the Ruger American Predator bolt-action rifle. I got a great deal on the rifle and scope combo; together, they are durable and reliable.

I mentioned a major caliber. .308 (7.62 NATO) is a great choice because it’s available everywhere, as well as being powerful enough to take most game that you’ll run into. It reaches out a far distance accurately, as well.

Ruger American Predator.
Ruger’s American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor is a great pick for a bolt gun. It’s extremely accurate and has low recoil. [Photo: Jim Davis]
I went the 6.5 Creedmoor route because it’s incredibly accurate and has very little recoil. It will also take down a variety of game animals. But really, any of the medium to large game hunting calibers will do a decent job here, such as .270, .30-06, etc.

The particular rifle and caliber range allow some latitude; the particulars aren’t as important as having a combo that works reliably and a shooter who is familiar with the equipment.

The bolt action rifle can fulfill the hunting role, as well as target shooting, competition, and self-defense. The nice thing about a high-powered rifle is that it can reach out a long way and keep trouble at a distance. The ability to snipe is a good thing.

.22 Rimfire Rifle

My loyal readers know I’m a freak for the .22 Long Rifle, so it’s no surprise that one is in this lineup. Yes, I’d also prefer to have at least one .22 LR pistol in our lineup, but remember, we’re talking bare basics here.

Although I have a few .22 rifles, my pick for this battery is the Ruger 10/22. Its semi-auto design and 25-round magazine capacity allow it to function for self-defense, plinking, and small game hunting.

Ruger 10/22 Compact.
Millions upon millions of Ruger 10/22s are out there, and for good reason. They are incredibly reliable and run forever. The cost is also modest. Accessories, including magazines, abound for these little rimfires. [Photo: Jim Davis]
Additionally, the 10/22 is very durable and will last just about forever. Several million have been made over the decades, and Ruger is still cranking them out, so they are everywhere (and parts are very available). They are extremely lightweight and compact, so they’re easy to store and carry. Plus, the 10/22 is modestly priced.

Speaking about economics, .22 LR can be purchased in large quantities for reasonable prices. It’s easy to have a few thousand rounds of this caliber on hand without going broke. Plus, you can carry a lot of that ammo with you into the field.

Certainly, other .22 LR candidates could serve our purpose here. The market is filled with bolt actions and other semi-autos, but the 10/22 is tough to beat for my money.

12 Gauge Shotgun

A quality shotgun allows the owner to hunt fowl (ducks, birds, geese, etc.) or other game and use it for self-defense. With the variety of 12-gauge ammo available (slugs, birdshot, buckshot, breaching rounds, etc.), the shotgun can perform multiple roles. As far as power is concerned, it is a dynamo.

Remington 870 12 gauge.
The Remington 870 has been around for decades and has proven reliable. As with other platforms for this article, parts and accessories abound for this shotgun, making it a great choice for the long haul. [Photo: Jeremy Charles]
I personally recommend a pump action shotgun because they are the least sensitive to ammo and the most reliable, as opposed to semi-autos. My preference is the Remington 870 or a number of the Mossbergs on the market. I chose to go the 870 route because I’ve trained on that platform for decades and am intimately familiar with it. Plus, it’s reliable, fast, and always seems to work well. Like the other weapons systems mentioned here, Remington and Mossberg shotguns are very popular and available, as are parts.

Another major factor is the availability of 12-gauge ammunition; it’s sold wherever ammunition is sold.

Although range can be limited, the shotgun is good for close-quarters self-defense.

Semi-Auto Rifle

The rapid-fire capability of a semi-auto rifle is crucial for self-defense. Being able to rapidly engage multiple targets can be a literal lifesaver.

I believe the AR-15 is exactly what we’re looking for to fulfill our needs. Why? Because magazines are widely available and extremely inexpensive in our current times. You can easily (and should) have a couple dozen magazines on hand without breaking the bank. And these days, they’re making magazines more durable than ever before.

Stag Arms AR-15.
The AR-15 is cemented into America’s history by being reliable, flat-shooting, and having a widely availability selection of parts. Magazines and ammo are inexpensive at present. This model wears a Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4x scope. [Photo: Jim Davis]
Aside from mags, parts are widely available, too, given the AR’s popularity. And if you’re after optics, there are tons of mounts and options available.

Yes, there are other excellent semi-autos available out there, but the AR’s popularity makes it an easy winner. An AR will allow not only self-defense but also the ability to hunt varmints such as coyotes, groundhogs, and other smaller game. In a real pinch, it could even take medium game with good shot placement. All that aside, they’re just darned fun to shoot because of their low recoil and high magazine capacity.

The specific configuration that I think is best for general use is the M4-style carbine because it is maneuverable, handy, and lightweight.

The .223/5.56mm NATO round is extremely popular and available, which is a huge plus. It’s a flat-shooting round that makes aggressive humans and animals go away.

Parting Thoughts

Well, there you have it—my picks for a basic battery of firearms that will allow you to do practically anything with guns.

You’ve likely noticed that there is nothing on the list here that is exotic, with everything being common and run-of-the-mill. That is intentional; we want common weapons that accept common parts, calibers, and magazines that are easy to find locally.

The entire survival battery.
Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor, Ruger 10/22, Remington 870, Stag Arms AR-15, and Glock 19X. The basics. [Photo: Jim Davis]
Yes, there are fancier guns that are more fun and exciting. The majority of people will spice up their gun collection gradually to suit their tastes over time, which is to be expected.

None of the firearms listed here are especially expensive, although readers could spend a lot of money on some platforms, such as the bolt-action rifle if they tried. But that’s not necessary because these days, quality doesn’t have to mean expensive.

We’d love to hear some of the readers’ choices, so feel free to let us know what your thoughts are on the topic.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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