Pepper Spray as a Self-Defense Option Reply

Pepper-Spray-PreparedFor those who are prohibited from having a gun, or who can’t countenance using a gun to defend themselves against violence, pepper spray is an alternative that is worth considering.  Unfortunately, most major disasters are followed by a dramatic increase in the number and severity of crimes of violence, so self-defense is an important aspect of all disaster preparation.

If a gun is not an option for you, consider obtaining a pepper spray device to use as a tool for self-defense.  Though pepper spray is not legal for civilian use everywhere, it is legal in many places.  In most regions, you don’t need a license or special training, either.

It’s a simple and inexpensive solution.  A $15 can of pepper spray can literally save your life, or keep you from being seriously injured or violently abused.

PeppersprayWhat is commonly referred to as “pepper spray” is a small hand-held aerosol device which dispenses a liquid or gel formulation of the chemical Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).  OC is derived from hot chili pepper vegetables, thus the nickname, pepper spray.

When used against a normal, reasonably healthy assailant, Oleoresin Capsicum, aka pepper spray, is non-lethal and non-injurious.  It is a chemical agent designed for use in self-defense situations where physical violence is eminent.

When sprayed into the eyes of an attacker, pepper spray can have a debilitating effect for 15-45-minutes.  Yet, it does not cause permanent injury or physical damage to a healthy adult, nor does it require medical attention for them to fully recover.  The effect simply wears off, or the chemical can be washed off to obtain relief.

When used on a human attacker, pepper spray is designed to produce a burning sensation to the skin, coughing, and copious tearing and swelling of the skin around the eyes.  This can limit the aggressor’s ability to see his or her intended victim, making it possible for the victim to escape.  Also, since these effects often take the fight out of a violent attacker, the aggressor is motivated to disengage from the attack and often flees the area.

On the downside, pepper spray works somewhat like an allergic reaction, so effects vary.  Unfortunately, results are inconsistent, but since it is somewhat debilitating 85% of the time, it’s still worth having.  It’s certainly a lot better than being defenseless.

Just as some people can better tolerate spicy foods, the reaction to pepper spray can be very different from one person to the next.  If you opt for pepper spray, keep in mind that results can vary greatly, causing some people to be completely debilitated, whereas others will not be affected at all.

Assailants who are hopped-up on drugs, intoxicated with alcohol, or mentally ill, tend to have little or no reaction to pepper spray.  Nevertheless, pepper spray is still worth having, particularly if a firearm isn’t an option.

Mace-Gel-Pepper-SprayThree things to look for when selecting a pepper-spray product:  

1. Select a model that shoots a stream of the OC chemical at least 10-12 feet in distance.

2. The contents of the device should include 10% Oleoresin Capsicum (aka / “OC”, or “OC spray”), as this is the optimal strength for use against humans.  This is the formula-strength that police officers usually carry, and it is the same  strength usually used for riot control.

A more accurate measurement of effectiveness is Scoville Heat Units (SKU), but this measurement is typically only found on the label of pepper spray dispensers marketed to law enforcement agencies.  If this is the measurement you encounter, then 150,000 SKU should be considered the minimum level of potency.

The most accurate measurement of pepper spray effectiveness is obtained by using the High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method, but this is rarely encountered.  If you do find this measurement, select a product that has an HPLC Capsaicinoid rating of 0.7% or higher.

3. The dispensing container needs to hold enough of the liquid to make it possible to deliver a minimum of seven 1-second bursts of OC spray per assailant.

A formula of 10% Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) is optimal for people, and it can be useful against aggressive dogs, too, whereas 50% formulation of OC is used against large mammals such as bear.  Any formulation which contains less than 10% Oleoresin Capsicum is not adequate for self-defense use.

Pepper spray is worth owning, but it is important to understand that it is not reliably effective against all human attackers, nor will it stop all vicious dogs.  It is a useful product, but it is not perfect; it doesn’t always work as advertised.  Nevertheless, it is the best non-lethal choice for most civilians.

Mace-pepper-sprayThere is some confusion between “pepper spray” and the terms, “Mace” and “teargas.”  Mace is a brand name for a company that sells self-defense products, and teargas is a different chemical (usually labeled as CN teargas or CS teargas).  To add to the confusion, some pepper-spray dispensers also contain CN or CS teargas. (Of the two types of teargas, CS is more powerful.)  The reason that teargas is sometimes included in a pepper spray formulations is that some people don’t react to pepper spray, but they still might react to teargas.  However, most experts agree that teargas is not necessary since OC is more universally effective.

Available in various types of dispensers, ranging from devices which fit onto a key ring, to those which are incorporated into a cell phone case (usually inadequate), to various shapes and sizes of small canisters, there is a multitude of sizes and formulations of pepper spray.  Most devices utilize a water-like liquid or oil as a carrier for the Oleoresin Capsicum, but gel is becoming increasingly popular as it sticks to the face and skin.

Pepper-spray-shot-into-eyesHow to Use  Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is designed to be shot directly into the eyes of your assailant at a distance of at least 3-feet, but not further than what is indicated as the maximum range on the dispenser’s label.  If you are inside this effective range zone, be sure to aim for the eyes.

Don’t stop delivering bursts of the spray until the assailant’s eyes are completely doused, or the attacker has run away.  If an assailant has swollen-shut eyes they will not be able to chase you, and they will not be able to continue with their acts of violent aggression.  This is the objective of pepper spray.

Once a person is hit in the face with pepper spray, it usually takes 2-5 seconds for them to react.  Nevertheless, don’t wait to see if it’s working.  Keep delivering bursts of the spray into their eyes until the threat has totally stopped.  Or, just keep spraying a solid stream of pepper spray into your assailant’s eyes until they stop their aggression and are fully debilitated.

An assailant who is wearing eyeglasses or sun glasses will take longer to react.  Eyeglasses, and the brims of caps, will often reduce the quantity of OC chemical that is reaching the assailant’s eyes.  So, keep spraying until the aggression has completely stopped.

Some pepper-spray formulas include a dye which marks your assailant, making it easier for the police to identify them.  This is a nice touch, but it’s not an essential feature.  More important is to select a device model that is easy to carry, and easy to use.  Unlike a lot of spray bottles which need to be looked at, to determine which direction it sprays, a quality pepper-spray dispenser will be tactile, so you are instantly able to grab the device and point it in the proper direction, just by feel.

Kimber-PepperBlaster-IISide Effects of Use

If you ever use pepper spray or teargas, expect to get some on yourself, especially if the wind is blowing toward you.

When you get hit by even a little mist of OC spray or teargas, it can make you cough uncontrollably.  And, it can make you to feel like you’re having a heart attack, so keep in mind that it’s actually harmless for those who are reasonably healthy.  Remind yourself that you’ll be okay, and you can still run or fight if the circumstance demands it.

OC spray, as well as tear gas, will actually not incapacitate you unless you get enough in your eyes to make them swell shut.  Even then, you can usually see enough to get out of the area.  So even if you are affected, don’t delay, get out of the danger zone as soon as possible.  This is additionally important as you may be further exposed to more OC, as the gas vapors if you linger in the area.

After using pepper spray, don’t touch your face with your hands, and don’t rub your eyes with a finger, as this can introduce OC residue into your eyes or skin.  Any sweaty area of skin, like your neck and underarms, will be particularly susceptible to a burning sensation.

When convenient, remove and wash your clothing as they will likely have become contaminated.  When possible, wash your hands with soap and water shortly after using pepper spray, and again after removing your clothing.

* Be sure to read the cautions and usage directions on the label of the device you purchase.  Absent other instructions, the below remedy is considered to be universal.

pepper-spray-splash-waterTreatment for Exposure to Pepper Spray or Teargas

If you become exposed to OC or teargas, the best treatment is simply to force yourself to breath normally, and flush your skin with cool, fresh water from a drinking fountain or garden hose.  You can use regular soap to remove the pepper spray from skin, but do not use regular soap on your face, at least not initially.   Just use plenty of fresh water, and blink repeatedly as this will produce a squeegee-like effect that will gently push the OC or teargas out of your eyes.

If you have access to baby shampoo, combine it with the water to speed the recovery process for your eyes and face.  You can use this mixture to splash on your face, or put the baby shampoo and water mixture into a clean spray bottle that is capable of gently misting your face.  Use the gentle spray from the bottle to mist your face, making the natural tears and blinking process more effective.

Do not use other types of soaps  around your eyes it can introduce additional burning and irritation to the eyes, whereas baby shampoo does not irritate eyes and its detergent action can help remove the oily OC compound.

Either way, the irritation will pass in 15-45 minutes, so the discomfort is only temporary.  Breathe normally, and force yourself to relax as this will help the discomfort pass more quickly.

Sabre-Red-Pepper-SprayImplementation

Keeping additional devices in the door-pocket of your car, and your pocket or purse, may also be a good idea, but for most people it’s best to use the exact same device so that you don’t become confused in an emergency situation.

Since pepper spray is a weapon, it is important keep these devices out of the hands of children and unauthorized individuals.  If kids do get into it, they’ll probably only make that mistake once as it’s pretty unpleasant, but it is nevertheless your responsibility to keep these weapons out of the hands of children and other unauthorized users.

It’s a good idea to replace your pepper spray dispenser every four years.  With all of the models listed below — except the Kimber Pepper Blaster II, once you get your unit, test it using two quick 1-second bursts shot at a head-high target that is 10-feet distant from you.  (Just so you know how it works.)

Important Legal Considerations

As odd as it may seem, pepper spray is not legal everywhere, so be sure that you understand your local laws before you possess or use pepper spray.

In most jurisdictions where pepper spray is legal, you still must be an adult to possess these self-defense tools.

If you ever use pepper spray—even if your assailant runs away and no harm came to you, be sure to immediately call the police.  You need to immediately report the incident, and express to the 9-1-1 dispatcher that you were in fear of your life or physical safety.  This is important as criminals have been known to report the incident themselves—claiming that they were the victim of an assault!  To minimize the possibility of unnecessary hassle and legal problems, be the first one to call the police.

Caution:  Some people advocate using ‘wasp spray’ as a weapon, claiming that it is more effective than pepper spray.  This is ill-advised as it may cause blindness and life threatening injuries.  It may also result in criminal prosecution and huge civil liabilities for anyone who intentionally uses it as a weapon.  A court may determine that using wasp spray as a weapon is on par with the use of chemical warfare materials.

ASP-Pepper_SprayWhere to Purchase

It’s probably best to purchase pepper-spray devices online, as the selection and price is generally better than what you will find at a sporting goods or running-products store.  Moreover, oftentimes the models found in a local store will contain less than the optimal 10% of the Oleoresin Capsicum chemical, so be sure to carefully read the label.  It is very important to select a pepper spray device that uses 10% OC.

Illustrated by the photos and in the below links, are four distinctively different pepper spray models which meet the above criteria.  Each has its merits, and selection should be made based on personal preference, the number of times it might be needed, and how you plan to carry the device.

Remember, you will need to select a device which contains more of the chemical if you want to be able to protect yourself (or others) from multiple attackers, or for use in more than one altercation.  Needing it more than once may be likely in the aftermath of a disaster, particularly if you are traveling in a post-disaster environment.

The below models are single-use devices.  For protection against multiple assailants, or more than one violent encounter, select a larger model which contains a larger quantity of the chemical.  The below devices are considered the smallest personal-use devices which are still viable for self-defense.

 

Examples of Popular Pepper Spray Products:

ASP Street Defender OC Pepper Spray

Mfg:  https://www.asp-usa.com/store/defenders/street-defender.html

Vendor:  http://www.amazon.com/ASP-Street-Defender-Pepper-Spray/dp/B001D7U7NY

Kimber Pepper Blaster II

Mfg:  http://store.kimberamerica.com/pepperblaster-ii-gray

Online Vendor:  http://www.lapolicegear.com/kimber-pepperblaster-ii-pepper-la98002.html#qa

Mace Pepper Gel

Mfg:  http://www.mace.com/mace-pepper-spray-gel/mace-brand-families/pepper-gel/mace-peppergel-large.html

Online Vendor:  http://www.lapolicegear.com/mace-80352-pepper-defender.html

Sabre Red

Mfg:  http://www.sabrered.com/servlet/the-190/SABRE-Red-1.8-oz/Detail

Online Vendor:  http://www.copsplus.com/prodnum8471.php

 

Gun Selection for Survival Kits Reply

Tania Mallet as Tilly Masterson with an AR-7 survival rifle in the movie Goldfinger, 1964.

Tania Mallet as Tilly Masterson with an AR-7 survival rifle in the movie Goldfinger, 1964.  The modern version of this rifle, and the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, are the most popular survival kit guns.

There are many opinions as to what gun is best for inclusion in a survival kit, and there is certainly no consensus, even among the experts.  But if you are not planning for a specific type of emergency, and self-defense is NOT your primary concern, then a .22 caliber rifle is generally considered to be the best all-around choice.

No matter which gun or caliber you choose, it is essential to learn how to safely operate and shoot your gun.  (You will find a link to safety rules at the end of this article.)  Further, guns which are stored in a survival kit must be secured so that children and others cannot access the firearm.   

A takedown rifle such as the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle or the Ruger 10/22 Takedown can be quickly assembled or disassembled into 2-3 pieces.  This feature makes it possible for the rifle to fit inside a GO-Bag, some hydration packs, and most survival kits carried in vehicles and small airplanes.  For most people, this is important because the gun is unobtrusive as well as compact when being transported.  Plus, you can carry a lot of ammunition, because .22LR ammunition is small in size and it is lightweight.

Note:  For specific survival situations and threats, you may want a different type of survival kit gun.

First Step:  Select the Purpose for Your Survival Kit Gun—and Your Limiting Factors.

If size, weight and concealing the gun aren’t important to you, then the best gun for survival in the wild, plus general self-defense, is a shotgun.  Unfortunately, a shotgun is too big and heavy a gun for survival kits that are compact. Yet, for all-around hunting of small and large animals in a survival situation, and protection from wild animals and self-defense, a shotgun is the most versatile choice.  If you are only going to have one gun in your non-portable survival kit, you’ll probably want it to be a shotgun.

Self-Defense Use:  For defense at close-to-medium range (up to 100+-ft / 30 meters), it’s hard to beat a 12-gauge tactical shotgun.  A tactical 12-gauge shotgun is extremely intimidating to criminals, and it delivers potent stopping power.

Multipurpose Use:  Versatility is the primary strength of a shotgun, and this is what makes it our top-choice for a survival kit gun when size and weight isn’t an issue.  Just by changing the type of ammunition you have loaded in the shotgun, you can switch from a shotshell that is great for self defense, to a different shell that is ideal for stopping a pack of rabid dogs or wolves, to another which works for hunting small critters, and then to yet another which can take down big animals, even a brown bear.  Then, you can unload and reload with yet a different shotgun shell to hunt birds.  No other type of gun possesses this kind of extreme flexibility.

The downside of a shotgun for a survival kit is not that the gun is so big, but rather that the ammunition (shells, shotshells) is large, bulky, and heavy.

Remington_870_MarineIf you do opt for a shotgun for your survival kit, our recommended gun is the Remington 870 Marine model.  Unloaded it weighs 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg), and it is 38.5 inches (97.8 cm) in length.  Since it has nickel plating covering the gun, including the inside of the barrel and receiver, it is very durable.  The operating action is very dependable, too.  Perhaps the best testimony to the reliability of the Remington 870 is that it is the shotgun of choice for most law enforcement agencies in the United States.

One of the strengths of this survival gun is also a weakness.  With the Remington 870 Marine model shotgun, the bright electrostatic-applied nickel finish on the gun can easily reflect light and thereby draw attention to its owner.  Thankfully, this problem can be readily solved.  The bright surface can be subdued by painting the gun as described below as a treatment for the Ruger 10/22 stainless steel model, but in this case, DuraCoat Aerosol paint is recommended.  This can be accomplished as a simple do-it-yourself project, or something that a gunsmith or gun store can do for you.

Unfortunately, a shotgun brings with it a number of major problems for those who are looking for a survival kit gun that can be carried in a portable kit.

A tactical shotgun is impossible to conceal, it won’t fit into a GO-Bag knapsack, and it is three pounds heavier than the Ruger 10/22 which won our #1 Choice Award for a survival kit gun (below) that will fit inside a backpack.  Nevertheless, a tactical shotgun is a superb choice as a survival kit gun if size, weight, and ammunition-bulk aren’t a consideration.  For more about shotgun selection, Click Here to download the Remington Guide to Shotguns and Shotshells, or Click Here for an e-book on shotguns for defense and survival.

Ruger-Mrk-3-Pistol-22-w-7-inch-bbl

Ruger Mark III Hunter, a 10-shot .22 pistol with a 7-inch (17.5 cm) barrel, and weight of 41-ounces (1.2 kg).

If portability and concealment of the gun is a primary consideration, then it’s hard to beat a handgun, even a long-barrel handgun which will better meet the hunting purpose of a survival kit gun.  A 9mm or larger-caliber pistol (or revolver) is your best bet to meet the need for self-defense, but it’s overkill for small game.  Moreover, even a very powerful handgun isn’t a great choice if your goal is protection from dangerous predators, such as bear.

If concealment isn’t required, a shotgun, rifle, or tactical rifle is usually a better choice.  But if concealment is essential, or if you need to have a gun in a holster while you labor with your hands or are seated in a vehicle, then you might want to consider a handgun.  Be sure to look at the .410/.45 combination guns made by  Magnum Research, Rossi, and Taurus.  However, if you want to maximize the amount of ammunition that can be carried, a long-barrel .22 LR handgun such as the one pictured on the left, will be a better choice.

Keep in mind that a rifle is easier to shoot accurately, and the bullet fired from a rifle will generally deliver more punch (power).  The exact same cartridge fired from an equal-quality rifle rather than a handgun, will be more accurate, and it will have more wallop when it reaches its target.  This is because the added barrel length makes it easier to accurately aim the rifle, and the added barrel length makes it possible for the gunpowder to more fully burn, thereby providing more power and velocity behind the bullet.  Still, a handgun is easier to carry, especially indoors or in a vehicle, but outdoors a rifle carried using a sling is better for most survival situations.

 

The Key Factor for Choosing a Survival Kit Gun

L to R: .22 LR, 9mm, .45 ACP, .223 / 5.56 mm, .30-06, 12-gauge shotshell

L to R: .22LR, 9 mm, .45 ACP, .223 / 5.56 mm, .30-06, 12-gauge shotshell

The important key to unlock the answer of, “What is the best gun for a survival kit?” has more to do with the issue of ammunition, than it does the type or brand of the gun.  When making a decision regarding what gun to pack into a survival kit, the detail most often forgotten is the bulk and weight of the ammunition the gun uses.  Obviously, a gun without ammunition is useless, so the ability to carry plenty of ammo is a critically important consideration.  This is even more significant if your survival kit is in a GO-Bag or backpack size.

As a point of reference, here is a ballpark comparison of ammunition weight, by ammunition type:  For every 1-pound of weight, you can carry either:  137 –.22 LR cartridges, 38 – 9mm pistol cartridges, 39 – .223 / 5.56 mm rifle cartridges, 18 – 7.62/.308 rifle cartridges, or 11 – 12 ga. 00-Buck shotshells.  So it’s no surprise that .22 LR is the most popular caliber for survival guns.

For all around use, when defense is not the primary consideration, a takedown .22-caliber rifle is a hard-to-beat choice; additionally so if your goal is to pack a gun and lots of ammunition in an unobtrusive, compact, and lightweight survival kit.

Fortunately, a .22 caliber rifle is usually the least expensive type of firearm to purchase.  Furthermore, it is also the simplest to operate and the easiest for people of all ages and sizes to shoot accurately.  Since a .22 rifle produces almost no recoil when it is fired, it is also a popular choice for those who do not have any previous experience with firearms.

Rifles designed for the .22 LR (twenty-two Long Rifle) bullet are the most common—and there is a good reason for this.  It is typically the least expensive firearm ammunition, it is accurate, it’s fun to shoot for target practice and plinking, it’s useful for controlling populations of small animals which destroy food crops and harm domestic and farm animals, and it is ideal for hunting small game when you want to minimize damage to the meat.  It’s win – win – win – win – win choice.

22LR Ammo in PalmEspecially important in regard to survival kit guns, .22 LR ammunition is lightweight and compact; a hundred cartridges (shots) can easily be carried in the pocket of a pair of jeans (2 boxes of 50).

In a pinch, a .22 rifle or handgun can be used for self-defense.  A .22LR rifle can be used to accurately hit a human-size target at distances up to 500-yards.  However, the .22-cartridge is definitely NOT adequate for self-defense.  Even at short range it has little stopping power.  Nonetheless, there are more people killed each year by .22 bullets than any other caliber gun.  This statistic is a sobering reminder that these guns are not toys.  (This death rate is because the .22 is such a common caliber, not because it is so inherently deadly).

If you are selecting a gun primarily for self-defense, you will want to select a gun in a much larger caliber.  However, if you are looking for a gun that can be used for self-defense in a pinch, but the anticipated use is primarily for hunting small game, then the .22 is a great choice.  (Note:  In most places it is not legal to hunt deer-size animals with a .22, but if you are starving, a well-placed .22 bullet can do the job.)

In the hands of a skilled shooter, a .22LR bullet fired from a rifle still has enough kinetic energy to take down a deer-size animal at a distance of up to 440-yards (402 meters), but this is not achievable for most hunters.  Realistically, even a reasonably accurate shooter should not expect to hunt a  deer-size animal at a range that is greater than 150-feet (46-meters).

Within the world of .22 caliber firearms there are hundreds of gun choices, so we can’t begin to cover every option in this summary.  Nevertheless, there are a number of details which must be understood before we get into our specific recommendations for packable survival kit guns.

.22 Caliber Guns and Ammunition (metric labeling, 5.6×15R)

Target with holes from .22 bullets

The .22LR bullet is so small that 10-shots can fit under a dime.

The designation “.22” (pronounced “twenty-two”) indicates the diameter of the bullet, which is .22-inch.  This is a very tiny bullet.  Depending on brand, it weighs between 20 – 60 grains (0.05-0.14 oz / 1.3 to 3.9 g), and upon firing it exits the barrel at a velocity of between 575 to 1,750 feet per second (ft/s) [175 to 533 m/s].  Both .22 rifles and .22 handguns can use the same .22 ammunition.

When people talk about a gun that is a ‘twenty-two,’ they are referring to the type of ammunition that is used in the gun.  Most twenty-two caliber guns are chambered for ‘.22 LR’ (twenty-two Long Rifle) ammunition, but there are other variations.  In addition to handguns and rifles which are designed to use the .22 LR cartridge, other twenty-two guns are chambered for other similar cartridges such as the ‘.22 Short,’ ‘.22 Long’ and ‘.22 Magnum.’  Technically, these are all twenty-two guns.  Important Note: A .22 Magnum (Mag / WMR / WRF) cartridge may fit into a .22LR gun, but it is unsafe to do so.  Do not attempt to fire a .22 Magnum in any gun that is not specifically made for that caliber.

If you aren’t knowledgeable about these variations, buy a gun chambered for the ‘.22 LR’ cartridge, and only buy ‘.22 LR’ ammunition for that gun.  If you have selected the correct ammunition, the text .22 LR or .22 Long Rifle will be prominently printed on the flap of each box of ammunition.  Make sure you buy the right ammunition for your gun.

Though many people use the term “bullet” to indicate what is loaded into the gun, this is not the proper use of the word.  Strictly speaking, the bullet is the projectile which is shot out of the barrel.  What you load into the gun is a cartridge (or round), and it consists of a bullet, gun powder and the primer which ignites the powder, and the brass case which holds it all together.

L to R: Lead Bullet, Copper-Plated Bullet, and Cooper-Plated Hollowpoint Bullet

L to R: Lead Bullet, Copper-Plated Bullet, and Cooper-Plated Hollowpoint Bullet

Within the same ‘.22 LR’ caliber there are different types of .22 LR bullets (projectiles), too.  Don’t let this confuse you.  You will commonly find .22 LR ammunition with bullets (projectiles) that are made of uncoated lead, and also copper-plated lead.  (The copper coating keeps the barrel cleaner).  In a sporting goods store you will also find .22 LR ammunition with hollow-point bullets that are designed to expand, as this can provide more stopping power and less risk of over-penetration and ricochet.  Another variation is cartridges which are labeled “Match,” and these are made for target-shooting matches and other circumstances where increased accuracy is desired.  Another increasingly common variation is “subsonic” ammunition which is quieter, but generally less powerful.  Shotshell .22 LR ammunition is also available, and it is primarily used for killing snakes at short range.  (Warning:  Plastic-nose shotshell or snake-shot projectiles tend to jam in semiautomatic guns.)

Since we are talking about survival kits which are often stored for many years, it is worth noting that uncoated lead bullets will oxidize when stored for a long period of time.  So, if you have a choice, select a brand of ammunition which uses copper-plated bullets.  Notwithstanding, oxidized lead bullets are often still serviceable.  Before loading them into your gun, first rub the bullets with a coarse cloth to remove the oxidation.

Federal 22 Brick w Ammo CanFor safety and longevity, it is best to store all ammunition in steel containers such as military ammo cans.  Add a packet of desiccant (moisture absorbent) for long-term storage.  Occasionally you can find .22 ammunition already sealed in a tin can, and this is excellent for long term storage.  Even better is packing the ammunition in a 7-mil Mylar bag with a desiccant packet.  And for long-term storage of your survival kit gun, treat it with a rust-inhibiting oil like Boeshield T-9, and then seal it in the same type of packaging material with desiccant.  Click Here for instructions on do-it-yourself Mylar packaging, and sources for Mylar bags and desiccant.

You will find that .22 LR cartridges come in standard power (not usually labeled, as it is standard), high-power, high-velocity or ultra-velocity, and also subsonic (low-power, which are quieter).  For survival kits, any of these will suffice.

Unless your .22 LR gun is finicky, it will shoot various types of .22 LR ammunition.  But before you purchase a quantity of ammunition, shoot a hundred rounds to verify that the brand shoots accurately and reliably in your gun.  A well-lubricated, quality rifle or pistol should be able to shoot 200-rounds (shots) without jamming.

A small, lightweight cleaning kit must be kept with your survival kit gun.

A small, lightweight cleaning kit must be stored with your survival kit gun.

If you are using ammunition with copper-covered-lead bullets, a good .22 rifle should be able to shoot several hundred shots without additional lubrication or maintenance of any kind. Nevertheless, cleaning, re-lubrication and rust-prevention treatment is important after each day of shooting, and also whenever the gun is exposed to dirt, sand, perspiration, high humidly, rain, or sea air.  No survival gun is complete without a small gun cleaning kit such as the small and lightweight Otis Tactical.

The Ruger 10/22 seems to digest all brands of .22 LR ammunition, that’s one reason it’s so popular.  However, the Ruger 10/22 does not do well with ultra-high velocity cartridges such as “Stinger,” a .22 LR cartridge made by CII.  The Henry AR-7 rifle can be a little more finicky, and seems to operate best using high-velocity ammunition.

For a survival-kit gun, reliability with different brands of ammunition is an important consideration as resupply in an emergency situation often means you can’t be picky.  This is one of the reasons we selected the Ruger 10/22 as the best survival kit gun for GO-Bags and knapsack-size survival kits.

Online or in sporting goods stores, you will usually find .22 LR ammunition in boxes of 50 cartridges or a “brick” of 500 – 555 cartridges, but other sizes are also sold.  When feasible, always use the same ammunition, as different brands can produce a different point-of-impact of the bullet.

When you are carrying ammunition, make sure the cartridges are not banging around as this can damage them and adversely affect accuracy.  Never use penetrating oil such as WD-40 on your ammunition as it can seep into the cartridge and damage the gunpowder.

After purchase, and whenever your gun is knocked around or falls on a hard surface, it needs to be “sighted in” to adjust the gun’s sights to match the bullet’s point-of-impact.  Since different brands can produce a different point-of-impact, be sure to use your usual ammunition.  This “sighting in” should be accomplished using the standard distance you expect to shoot the gun.  For most people, this is 50-75 yards (45-70 meters) or less.  For shooting small game, effective range of a .22 LR is about 150 yards (137 meters).  Yet, a .22 LR bullet can travel a mile given the right conditions, so be sure of your backstop before shooting.

 

Our Recommendations for a Packable Survival Kit Gun

Ruger_10-22_wBag01

Ruger 10/22 Takedown rifle in stainless steel, model 11100, shown with included bag.

Best Survival Kit Gun for GO-Bags and Backpack-size Survival Kits:  Ruger 10/22 Takedown – Semiautomatic .22LR Rifle

First introduced in 1963, the lightweight and reliable Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic rifle quickly became the most popular .22 rifle in the United States, and it has retained this lofty position for decades.  However, it is the relatively new Ruger 10/22 “Takedown” (TD) model that we specifically recommend.  Since it is made to be a ‘takedown’ style rifle, the barrel and the stock/action are easily and quickly separated, making it possible to unobtrusively carry the two rifle pieces (20-1/4 inch / 51.5 cm) inside a standard survival kit or GO-Pack (GO-Bag, Bug-Out Bag).  MSRP: $399/$419.  Market price, $350-400.

Packable Weight:  Further, since .the ammunition for the rifle is also small and lightweight, it is reasonable to carry the rifle and 200-rounds of ammunition along with your other Go-Bag or survival kit gear, inside a standard knapsack.  Total weight of the rifle is 4.67 lbs (2.12 kg).  When you add 200-round of ammunition to the rifle and case, the total package is a little more than 6-pounds (2.7 kg).  This means you can still carry a lot of other gear without exceeding the desirable 20-25 pound (9-11 kg) weight of a GO-Bag or portable survival kit.  (Weight of 22 LR cartridges:  1-pound = 137 cartridges / 1 kg = 300 cartridges.  A 500-round brick of .22 LR ammunition is 4.8 pounds (1.7 kg) including box and packaging.)

Made by Henry Rifles, the  U.S. Survival AR-7 is only 3.5-lbs and 18.5-inches stowed

Made by Henry Rifles, the U.S. Survival AR-7 is only 3.5-lbs and 18.5-inches stowed. The waterproof stock holds all the pieces, including 3 magazines.

Runner-Up Choice:  Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle (It Floats!)

In addition to the Ruger 10/22, there are other takedown .22 rifles, most notably the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle.  What is unique about this survival rifle is that it has a storage compartment for the gun’s barrel, action and three magazine inside the rifle’s floating stock.  It is even lighter in weight than the Ruger 10/22 at 3.5 vs. 4.67 lbs (1.6 vs. 2.1 kg), and it boasts a smaller take-down size, 16.5-inches vs. 20-1/4 inches (42 vs. 51.5 cm).

Unfortunately, the AR-7 does not have the reputation of durability and reliability that the Ruger 10/22 enjoys.  This was earned during the days when Charter Arms owned the patent, but since Henry Rifles started making the rife in 1980, the quality is excellent.

The one lingering problem is a design disadvantage:  The feed lip, which transports the ammunition into the chamber of the gun, is on the magazine rather than the gun itself.   The feed lip is therefore susceptible to damage if the magazine is dropped or abused, and this can cause a failure to load.  Therefore, extra magazines are a necessity, and they should be carried in a pouch which provides protection for the feed lip.  (This is a good idea for spare magazines, anyway, no matter what type of gun you have.)

The AR-7 is easy to operate, and though the assembly/disassembly process involves three components rather than the Ruger’s two (making the smaller size possible), it’s quick and easy to accomplish.   Regrettably, the assembled rifle is not as comfortable to shoot as the Ruger 10/22, but it is smaller and $50 cheaper.  And most notably, it floats if you drop the rifle in water.  The old Charter Arms AR-7 had an inferior barrel, but Henry AR-7 comes standard with a sturdy steel barrel covered in tough ABS plastic that is coated with Teflon for improved protection against corrosion.  MSRP & Market Price for AR-7 rifle in Black: $290.

At the end of this section you will find a link to the Ruger and Henry websites, and the specific model number(s) we recommend.

 

Ruger-10-22TD-Scope_Size_Comparison-Arrows

The scope mounted on the top rifle is the proper size, whereas the scope in the inset photo extends far beyond the action, making the rifle less compact.

Optics (Rifle Scope) and Sights

If you opt to add an optical sight to your rifle, it is extremely important to select a scope and scope mount that is compatible with the rifle you select.  For example, once a scope has been mounted onto a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, you don’t want that portion of the rifle to become significantly longer (see photo) in length.  If it is, you lose some of the small-size advantage of the ‘takedown’ style rifle.

It is also important for the scope to retain its zero (accuracy) when the rifle is repeatedly disassembled and reassembled.  If you select a rifle other than a ‘takedown’ (TD) model, this isn’t such a big issue.  However, if you select the Ruger 10/22 Takedown and want to maintain something close to the 20-1/4-inch length of the disassembled rifle, then you will need to carefully select your scope and a quick attach/detach scope mount.

If you select the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle, you’re stuck.  You will need to remove the scope whenever you put the pieces inside the floating stock.  So, if you want to mount a scope on an AR-7 Survival Rifle and you want to take-down the rifle and store the barrel inside the floating stock, you will be forced to store the scope separate from the rifle. Of course, this is a non-issue if you don’t want an optical scope on your rifle.

A scope mount with a quick-attach mount will help, but the rifle will still need to be re-zeroed.

A scope mount with a quick-attach mount will help, but the rifle will still need to be re-zeroed.

The major downside of mounting a scope on an AR-7 Survival Rifle is that once you remove the scope from the action, so that the pieces will fit inside the floating stock, you will need to re-zero the scope’s point-of-impact when you reassemble it.  This will take time and ammunition.

In an emergency situation with the AR-7 rifle and scope, your first task may be to assemble the rifle, attach the scope, and then test-fire until you have successfully realigned the scope to match the bullet’s point of impact.  After accomplishing this task, you probably won’t want to disassemble your rifle until the emergency situation is over.  The rifle will still float when it is assembled, as long as the scope isn’t too heavy.

As to the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, it shoots great out of the box, and the iron-sights which come mounted on the gun are adequate.  Unfortunately, the standard sights which come on the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle are not as well liked.

To make these rifles more serviceable at greater shooting distances, many owners do add a 4-6x rifle scope.  You will also want a sling, although in a survival situation you can make a sling out of 550 paracord, and secure it in place using duct tape.  Whichever rifle you choose, you will certainly want to buy extra magazines, especially since a damaged or lost magazine can create a serious survival problem.

Top: Stainless Steel, mdl  Bottom: Black Alloy, mdl

Top: Stainless Steel, mdl 11100; Bottom: Black Alloy, mdl 11112. Both come with Nylon Case.

Two Recommended Models of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Even if you don’t want to put the Ruger 10/22 inside your GO-Bag, the included storage bag which comes with the gun is great.  It looks like an ordinary small knapsack or hydration pack.  It won’t float the rifle, but the backpack case is still a nice touch.

If you opt to carry the gun in the included nylon storage case, and you want to make it even more nondescript so that most people won’t know you have a rifle, use a black Sharpie permanent marker to blot out the red Ruger logo that is embroidered on the bag.

Model Numbers:  The two variations of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown model rifle are:  Stainless Steel (model # 11100) and black steel (model #11112).  You may not have the luxury of selecting one over the other as these rifles can be hard to find, but you may still want to understand the merits of each model.

Which 10/22 Takedown Model is Best?

The stainless steel Ruger 10/22 (model 11100) has a reputation for being more durable and less prone to rust, but that isn’t completely accurate as the black model isn’t just made of ordinary gun steel, it’s an alloy.  Nevertheless, the stainless steel model is probably slightly more durable, and this may be an advantage if you anticipate operating in a marine environment or a rainy climate.

The downside of the stainless model is that the shiny surface will reflect light, and this may draw unwanted attention to you and your assembled rifle.  But if you want the advantages of the stainless steel but not the bright finish, the solution is simple.  Paint and wrap the metal parts.  It’s an undemanding process to use a combination of flat-spray paint and a gun wrap to solve the problem.

This is honestly a simple do-it-yourself project:  With the rifle assembled (and scope attached), using a cotton ball as the applicator, rub isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or a hand-applied (not spray) degreaser, to remove oil from the exposed metal surfaces.  After the alcohol has fully evaporated, wearing gloves to keep oil from your hands off the gun’s clean surface, wipe the gun with a coarse cloth.  Then use painter’s tape or masking tape to cover the gun’s sights, the operating / moving parts, ejection port (bolt area), the rifle’s stock, and anything else you don’t want painted.  Use a flat-black or flat-color spray paint to coat the exposed metal parts.  To avoid paint drips, apply several light coats of paint.  Once the first coat dries, paint the surface again with another light coat.  Repeat until the bright finish is completely concealed.

There are paints designed specifically for guns, such as DuraCoat Aerosol, but a quality hardware-store spray-paint is adequate if you plan to wrap the gun after painting.

Us a non-adhesive gun wrap such as Camo Form to protect your survival rifle.

Us a non-adhesive gun wrap such as McNett Camo Form to protect your survival rifle.

Once the paint has dried, use a non-adhesive gun wrap to protect the paint from chipping and wear.  A gun wrap material such as McNett Camo Form is easy to apply, and the McNett website has easy-to-follow written and video instructions.  Non-adhesive dark-color medical wrap can also be used if you want to save a few dollars.

Your other option is the black-color, Ruger 10/22 Takedown (model #11112).  Purchasing this model saves you the bother of customization, but the black alloy is more prone to rust.  Yet, some people prefer the black model because it comes with a slightly shorter, threaded barrel.  This is a feature that makes it possible to screw-on a suppressor to make the gun quieter.  However, since a noise suppressor requires a special federal license issued by ATF (NFA tax stamp), most people don’t want to bother.

The Ruger 10/22 has been around since 1964, so many variations have been produced over the years.  In addition to suppressors made for this rifle, there are many aftermarket add-ons and doodads if you want to customize your rifle.  However, as long as you purchase a Ruger 10/22 with a synthetic stock (which is more weather resistant and durable than wood), the rifle doesn’t really need any customization. If you buy a used 10/22 with a wood stock, consider replacing it with a good-quality synthetic (not plastic) stock as these are more durable than wood.  The most popular aftermarket stocks are made by Archangel.

The ‘Ruger 10/22 Takedown’ and ‘Henry AR-7’ are Easy to Pack in a Knapsack

Many rifles and shotguns can be disassembled for storage, but the unique feature of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown is that it can be assembled or disassembled in under 5-seconds, and similarly, the Henry AR-7 rifle in under 10-seconds.

Click Here for Videos:  Various short videos on the Ruger 10/22 Takedown and other 10/22 models.  Note on Laser Video: For most people, the optional laser sight is not worth the money as the laser is not sufficiently visible in sunlight, and it requires special batteries.

Ruger_10-22-Std-n-Extended_Mags

Top Left: Ruger 10-Rnd Magazine.  Right: Ruger BX-25  25-Rnd Magazine

Extra Magazines:

The Ruger 10/22 usually only comes with 1-magazine (which holds 10-rounds of ammunition), and the Henry AR-7 comes with two 8-round magazines.  We recommend a minimum of 5-magazines, so be sure to order extra when you purchase your rifle.

Note:  In addition to the factory-made magazines that come with each gun, there are banana-shape and AR-style magazines which hold 25-30 rounds of .22LR ammunition.  There are even giant 50-round magazines available for the Ruger 10/22.

If they are legal in your area, Ruger 25-round magazines (BX-25 or 2x BX-25) and after-market high capacity magazines for the AR-7 can be obtained from online retailers such as Brownells (www.brownells.com) and Midway USA (www.midwayusa.com).  If the magazines aren’t made by the manufacturer, be sure to check the online reviews before purchasing as some brands are unreliable.

Some people want to purchase high-capacity magazines either because they don’t want to reload as often, or because they look more menacing in a self-defense situation.  That’s fine, but it’s important to understand that high-capacity magazines may not be as reliable as the standard factory magazine.

The AlanGater 3Mag Coupler makes it possible to clip together three of the factory 10-rnd magazines.

The AlanGater TriMag Coupler makes it possible to clip together three of the Ruger 10/22 10-round magazines.

Moreover, the Ruger 10/22 magazines, including those made by the factory, are plastic.  Therefore they are prone to damage.  Similarly, the AR-7 magazines have a feeding lip that is easy to damage if the magazine is mishandled (or an aftermarket brand that is poorly constructed).

Plastic high-capacity magazines are far easier to damage than the stock magazines due to their size, shape, and propensity to snag on branches and bushes in the field.  For Ruger 10/22 owners, it may be more prudent to purchase the TriMag Coupler made by AlanGator as it makes a more compact package when installed on the gun.  This device clips together three of the factory 10-round magazines, a technique which minimizes snags while facilitating a quick change of magazines.

 

For Additional Information

Click Here: Link to the manufacturer’s website for the Ruger ‘Takedown’ models.

Click Here:  Link to the manufacturer’s website for Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle.

 

Click Here:  Brownells, the largest online store for ammunition and magazines, scopes, gun cleaning supplies, etc.

Click Here:  Midway USA, another popular online store for gun supplies.

Click Here:  Gander Mountain, gun and outdoor supplies.

 

Firearm Safety:

Click Here to download a copy of the TXRFA Firearm Safety Rules

 

Recommended Reading on Firearms for Self-Defense:  

For an overview of the different options within the category of self-defense firearms, read “Family and Personal Protection: Selecting the Best Gun for Self-Defense at Home” by Sig Swanstrom.

 

Recommended Reading on Guns for Survival Kits:

Summary of Survival-Kit Firearms:  Click Here for a  2-Page PDF on the positives and negatives of each type of survival kit gun.

Air Guns for Survival Use:  Click Here to jump to our blog post on powerful air guns.

AirSoft Guns for Shooting Practice:  Click Here for Wiki article on AirSoft Guns for Shooting Practice

 

 

Firearm Selection for Emergency Situations Reply

SIG 1911 semi-auto pistol and Smith & Wesson 340PD revolver with laser.

There is a great deal of debate on this subject, and the real­ity is that no single weapon is the best choice for all emergency situations.  Circums­tances and con­ditions vary, as does the use of firearms for self-defense vs. hunting.  There is no universal solu­tion.  Yet, an understanding of the options availa­ble to you is the best place to start.

The purpose of this post is to provide a brief summary of your firearm options, and to identify the pros and cons of each firearm category so that you can begin the process of making an informed choice.

Whatever firearm(s) you select, it’s important to un­derstand that a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) is necessary in most States, and there are State and federal laws which govern firearm use and possession.  Even if you do not want to routinely carry a firearm, you may want to be able to legally carry a handgun during an emergency sit­uation.  Therefore, you need to obtain a concealed handgun license.  (In some States, this is referred to as a “Concealed Weapon License.”  Visit the website of your State’s Department of Public Safety for details).

If you own a firearm as a tool for self-defense, you need to be trained in the proper use of that firearm, and regularly prac­tice with it.  Owning a gun is not being prepared.  You need to be prepared to use the gun.


Handguns

Revolvers (illustrated above) and semi-automatic pistols come in many sizes, ranging from ultra-small to full-size.

Handgun Benefits:

a)  Can be con­cealed, so you won’t be making others nervous;

b)  With concealed carry, criminals don’t know that you are armed, which gives you the advantage of surprise and the option of restraint;

c)  Semi-auto pistols (left gun in top-of-page photo) can be reloaded quickly.  Revolvers (3 guns in left photo) are simple to operate, and can be fired from inside a pocket or purse;

d)  Handguns are relatively light (12 to 42-oz).

Handgun Disadvantages:

a)  Far less accurate than a rifle;

b)  Limited to short-range use (typically 75-feet);

c)  Only modest stopping power;

d)  Revolvers are slow to reload.  (Not a problem with semi-auto pistols).

 Shotguns

Remington 870 Tactical Shotgun, 20-inch barrel, in 12-gauge.  Also available with pistol-grip.

Shotgun Benefits:

a)  Intimidating in appearance and sound;

b)  Require less accuracy in shooting;

c)  Devastating knock-down power (when loaded with 00-Buck shotgun shells);

d)  Loaded with OO-Buck shells, each shot consists of as many as 15-pellets (.33 inches in size);

e)  Loaded with the proper ammunition, shotgun pellets are less likely to penetrate the interior walls of a home.  (12-ga. #4 Buckshot compared to a standard 9mm pistol loaded with FMJ ammunition).

f)  Different types of shotgun shells can be carried to meet the needs of self-defense, as well as for hunting of large and small game.

Shotgun Disadvantages:

a)  Not concealable (Mossberg #55340 is among the smallest);

b)  Even when equipped with an extension-tube magazine, a shotgun only holds 6 or 7 shells;

c)  Very time consuming to reload;

d)  Ammunition is much heavier, reducing the amount that can be easily carried when on foot;

d)  Shotguns designed for sporting purposes are difficult to use indoors as their longer barrel makes them ungainly.  When the purpose is self-defense, a “tactical” or “home defense” shotgun should be used (illustrated on left);

e)  Medium distance effective-range (with most loads, typically less than 100’, further with slugs).

f)  Heavy in weight, typically 8 pounds.

Rifles

Rifle Benefits:

a)  Longer effective range (400+ yards);

b)  Much greater accuracy;

c)  Combat-style or “assault rifles” are fast to reload, and durable;

d)  Ominous appearance can intimidate assailants.

Rifle Disadvantages:

a)  Cannot be easily concealed;

a)  Sporting rifles hold few cartridges, and reload­ing of sporting rifles is time consuming, making assault rifles the best choice for self-defense.

c)  Heavy to carry.  Most assault rifles are 9-12 lbs, so they are heavy if carried for a long distance.

d)  Rifle ammunition is lighter than that of a shotgun, but spare magazines are bulky and the weight of extra ammunition is significant.

Special Purpose Guns

Special purpose guns come in many forms, some designed for unique and limited self-defense purposes, while others are designed for highly specific hunting or survival use.  These special pur­pose guns are far less versatile but may work well for the certain purposes.

North American Arms “Black Widow” in .22 Magnum is ultra-small, but has marginal value for self-defense.

The North American Arms (NAA) “Black Widow” and other micro-guns are incredibly small, but though the .22 Mag is impres­sive for its size and can be deadly, it has almost no stopping power.

The Taurus “Judge” is a large revolver, cham­bered for both the .45 Colt handgun cartridge and .410 shotgun shell.  Unfortu­nately, the .45 Colt is not available in the newer high-power hollowpoint self-defense ammunition, and the .410 is a diminu­tive shotgun shell, but at close range The Judge can be very effective for self-defense, and for snakes and small game at very short range.  For most people, this gun is far too heavy for concealed carry, but it is popular with backpackers and for survival kits.

The Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle (pictured on right) stores the barrel and action inside its plastic stock.  Only available in .22 LR, this gun is designed to be carried in a knap­sack or survival kit.  Though this caliber is best suited for hunting rabbits and squirrels, a well-placed shot can kill a small deer.  And, a hundred rounds can be carried in a pocket.

Recommended Calibers

Handguns:  9mm and .38 Special are good for new gun owners as they have less recoil but still deliver reasonable stopping power.  (We do not recom­mend using a caliber smaller than this for self-defense.  Yet, any gun is probably better than no gun as long as it is not displayed until you plan to use it.)

Most self-defense handguns carried by police officers are in one these calibers:   9mm, .357 Sig, .40 ACP, and .45 ACP.  The U.S. military primarily uses 9mm pistols, but experts agree that this caliber has far less stopping-power than the previous standard which was .45 ACP.  Reduced recoil and the ability to carry more ammunition in the same size pistol, are the benefits of 9mm over .45 ACP.

If opting for a 9mm pistol, be aware that standard (FMJ) ammunition as well as many 9mm hollow-point bullets (JHP) have excessive penetration.  This can result in the bullet passing through the target and injuring someone else.  If you intend to use a 9mm pistol for self defense, it is recommended that you load your pistol with Speer “Gold Dot” or Remington “Golden Saber,” or another brand of ammunition which has passed the FBI’s stringent standards for use by law enforcement.  Don’t believe the hype and don’t just rust the advice of a friend or salesman, depend on actual research.  This decision is too important.

Shotguns:  12-gauge is the gold standard.  If con­cerned about recoil, use 2-3/4” shells.  To increase your firepower but still carry the maximum number of shells in your gun, use 3” Magnum 00-Buck (Double-Ought Buck).  Ammunition capacity for a shotgun with an extended magazine is typically 6-7 shells.  For self-defense use when you also want to minimize the likelihood of pellets penetrating interior walls, use #4 Buck.  For hunting small game, use birdshot, for large game use lead slugs.  For longer range accuracy (rifle-like) use sabot slugs.  Shotgun shell “rescue flares” can also be launched from a 12-gauge shotgun.  Note: A shotgun with a barrel length less than 18-inches requires a special federal license.  A barrel length longer than 20-inches will produce a tight pattern of pellets, making it less effective for most self-defense applications.  Police and home-defense shotguns generally have a barrel length of 18-20 inches.  For self-defense use, it is best to purchase a shotgun designed for police or a home-defense style shotgun.

Rifles:  5.56 NATO (or .223) or 7.62 NATO (.308) are the standard cartridges for self-defense use.  The 5.56 cartridge is lighter in weight than the 7.62, making it possible to carry more ammunition.  The 7.62 bullet is heavier and the bullet is not as easily deflected by branches and obstructions.  Both are devastating for self-defense use, but the larger caliber is more popular for hunt­ing, and better against vehicles and shooting through walls and obstructions.

Primmer on Air Pistols & Rifles, B-B Guns & Airsoft Guns Reply

Summary
Airguns (pellet guns) are popular for training due to the low cost of both the gun itself, and the ammunition.  And also because in many locales it is legal to shoot them inside a home (away from windows, and with a backstop), and this makes easier to practice. Other than that, airguns are of marginal benefit for other practical purposes.  Airsoft pistols are very inexpensive ($30), shoot 6mm plastic B-Bs, and are only useful for indoor target practice at home.

A firearm such as a Ruger 10/22 rifle weighs around 4-1/2 lb, vs. an air rifle which can easily weigh more than 10 pounds.  If you are carrying it very far, that’s a big difference.  That 6-lbs of difference in the weight of the gun, can also translate into hundreds of extra rounds of .22LR ammunition carried in your pockets.  Yes, .22LR ammunition is more expensive than pellets, but it still only pennies per shot.  True, the pellets used in an airgun are even lighter in weight and more compact to carry, and this benefit  is often cited as a reason to purchase an airgun for survival use and small game hunting.  This is all true, but a .22LR firearm provides substantially greater effective distance, is useful on larger game, and it can provide at least a minimal (very minimal) benefit for self-defense.  Whereas the airgun provides absolutely no benefit for self-defense, except perhaps psychologically, as some models do look like a firearm.

This explained, if noise is the major consideration, or the selection of a gun that is less likely to kill or injure someone is paramount, or if you want to practice indoors at home, than an airgun is a good choice.  However, for most hunting and survival purposes, the .22 LR firearm is far more useful.

Notwithstanding, a .22LR gun is classified as a firearm, so if you buy it “new” it must be purchased from a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer.  Whereas an airgun, pellet gun, B-B gun, or Airsoft gun use air (or CO2) as the propellant, not gun powder, so it does not need to be registered.  It is also important to note that if you shoot an airgun and miss your target, the pellet will generally travel no more than 100-200 feet, whereas a .22LR bullet can travel a mile or more.

Detail:

Some ‘survivalists’ tout the use airguns for hunting because the ammo is both low cost and you can easily carry 1,000 rounds in your pockets.  However, most air rifles are quite heavy, which is a major drawback.  This said, another positive aspect is that they are fairly quiet to shoot, which means that you’re not giving away your presence when hunting with an airgun during an emergency situation.

Most people think airguns are relatively new concept, but this isn’t the case.  Even the Lewis & Clark expedition carried air rifles in addition to their regular firearms for the same reasons that we consider them.

Also, just as with Airsoft guns, you want to select a model that operates by hand action, not CO2 or bottled air.  Some hand operated airguns are pumped by hand, while others use hand-action to cock a powerful spring.  The spring-powered designs are much more accurate.

I have a precision air pistol you’re welcome to try shooting sometime.  Pistols deliver much lower velocities than an air rifles, but they are lighter and obviously more compact to carry.  It’s hard to find a good air pistol in a local store, but many sporting goods stores carry at least a few air rifles.  Expect to pay in the $150 range for a decent air rifle.

If availability of ammo is of concern, you’ll want to select a .177 caliber airgun.  I’d bet that 95% of the airguns out there are .177 caliber, which means the ammo is easy to find in that caliber.  This said, the .22 caliber airgun does provide more wallop at close distances.  I wouldn’t consider any of the other calibers.

Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s have a good selection of air rifles (pellet rifles) if you want to take a closer look.  They are located in an aisle near the gun department.

By the way, you NEVER want to discharge a airgun unless there is a pellet in the chamber.  Firing an empty airgun will damage it.  Also, you MUST use special lubricants in high-power airguns as conventional petroleum based products can actually detonate due to the high chamber pressure.  Lastly, even though B-Bs are labeled as being .177 caliber, a pellet and B-B are not the same size.  Many B-B guns will fire .177 pellets, but you’ll damage a pellet gun if you shoot a B-B in it.

There is a lot of debate on what is the best pellet caliber, but the most frequently mentioned are:  .177 or .22.  As to my recommendation as to pellet caliber, I’ve gone back-and-forth on that issue for years.  The larger pellets lose velocity much faster, so the trajectory decline means that aiming is more difficult at distances, and they lose impact-effect at longer range, too.  So, at close range, the .22 pellets pack a much bigger wallop for hunting and they are far more effective for hunting, too, but at even intermediate range the benefit seems to be quickly lost.  In any case, I think you’re point about using the same caliber pellets in both pistol and rifle is a clear advantage.

FYI, when a pellet’s velocity exceeds 1,100 fps, the pellet passes the speed of sound and therefore produces a much louder “crack” sound when the gun is fired.  With this in mind, a .22 caliber pellet shot at 1,000 fps, is a better hunting machine than a .177 pellet traveling at 1,400 fps.  Again, the disadvantage of the .22 is that it loses speed much faster so aiming is more difficult at intermediate range and beyond.  This is because the bullet-drop is significant.  All this said, I still don’t know what to recommend, but .177 pellets are also cheaper and more readily available, if that is significant to you.  By the way, if you buy a gun rated at over 1,000 fps and you want to be quiet, just load the gun with heaver pellets to reduce the speed.  If the specs say that it’ll also fire B-Bs, you don’t want the gun as the barrel is a compromise.

As to pellet design, in .177 you don’t want to use the pointed-tip pellets for hunting squirrels as they pass through the animal.  I don’t know about .22 as I have never used one, but there will obviously be less of a penetration problem with .22.  Also, they do make hollowpoint pellets, but I can’t imagine that they perform at these speeds on flesh.  Anyway, the best choice for pellet materials and shape will take more research.  I don’t have much experience in this arena, but I do have a couple of different designs on-hand if you want to do some testing.  Beeman is known for making high-quality pellets.

*** You need to use special oils on precision spring-piston airguns as the pressure will make regular oil detonate in the chamber.

Also worth noting is that some airguns are quite heavy and poorly balanced.  Because of this issue, I’d recommend checking to see if the gun you like is a different weight when made with a synthetic stock vs. wood.  Further, in my view, many air rifles are simply too heavy for backpacking or survival use.

Scopes probably aren’t required but are fine as long as the gun has iron sights, too.  Laser sights would likely be a negative on an airgun.  Some of the guns don’t look very durable.

Beeman, Gamo, and RWS are the common brands in the mid-price guns, but there are other quality guns, particularly those made in Germany.  Also Crosman and Daisy, but they tend to be lower quality.  Many big-name firearm companies also sell airguns.  If they are really expensive the company probably made the gun, but if it’s a lower price gun, some other manufacturer is probably just paying them to use their name.  As to power plant, you probably want a spring-piston powered airgun if you plan to take it backpacking or use it for survival.  Most cock by breaking the barrel downward, so a longer barrel means it’ll be easier to cock – but none of them should be that hard to cock, anyway, so this probably isn’t much of a consideration.

By the way, when you compare the performance of different airguns, make sure the measurements are made using the same weight and design of pellet.  Usually they’re not, unless the two guns are made by the same company.  Anyway, it’s often hard to compare velocity between guns made by different manufacturers.  Compare the cocking effort (measured in pounds) between guns.  If the cocking effort is the same, there is a good chance that the velocity will be quite similar.  By the way, certain pellets will boost the pellet velocity by as much as 200 fps on the exact same gun.  So read the fine print (examples below, highlighted in yellow).

Beeman RX2 (www.beeman.com)

Model

Catalog
Number

Cal.

Total
Wt.

Overall
length

Velocity
fps

Muzzle
Energy

Accuracy
c-t-c

Cocking
Method 

Cocking
Effort

Power plant

Rifling
(Grooves)

Stock

Trigger

Safety

RX-2

1802

.177

9.8 lbs.

45.7″

1125

18.3 FP

0.16″

Break Barrel

46 lbs.

 Gas Spring

12

Beech Stained

Two-Stage
Adjustable

Automatic

RX-2

1804

.20

9.8 lbs.

45.7″

950

18.4 FP

0.16″

Break Barrel

46 lbs.

 Gas Spring

12

Beech Stained

Two-Stage
Adjustable

Automatic

RX-2

1806

.22

9.8 lbs.

45.7″

860

20.8 FP

0.19″

Break Barrel

46 lbs.

 Gas Spring

6

Beech Stained

Two-Stage
Adjustable

Automatic

All velocity and muzzle energy figures for sporting guns were achieved with Silver Bear pellets under controlled conditions. Your results may vary due to changes in altitude, temperature, humidity and equipment.

Gamo (www.gamousa.com)

Whisper Silent Cat
[Item# 6110072154]

The Silent Cat is a Whisper Air Rifle with a 4×32 air Rifle Scope

-Velocity: 1200 feet per second (fps) with PBA, 1000 fps with Lead

$289.95

 Walther Talon Magnum  (www.umarexusa.com)

Velocity 1200 fps

The Walther Talon Magnum Air Rifle is a powerful pellet rifle

that features a robust spring piston break barrel mechanism for maximum

velocity with just one cock of the rifle. At an amazing 1200 feet per

second with a standard .177 caliber lead pellet and a zooming

1400 fps with a hyper velocity pellet

Article on Airgun Calibers (www.pyramydair.com)

Airgun calibers.
The lowdown on the four most popular airgun calibers, plus a quick look at BBs

By Tom Gaylord
Exclusively for PyramydAir.com. Copyright ©2003. All Rights Reserved

There are four popular airgun calibers today–.177, .20 (also called 5mm), .22 and .25. In this article, we’ll look at each of those four calibers and see what it does best. We’ll also see how BBs differ from the four pellet calibers.

The four popular smallbore pellet calibers are, from left to right, .177, .20, .22 and .25.

.177/4.5mm
The .177 caliber was probably created shortly after the start of the 20th century. It seems to have surfaced first in England, which was a hotbed of airgun development both then and now.

The advantage of .177 is a smaller pellet that uses less material–usually lead. It is widely used for general shooting and is the only caliber that can be used for bullseye target shooting anywhere in the world. The rules of all official shooting organizations mandate a .177 caliber gun for both pistol and rifle competition.

Because of this, the popular misconception is that the .177 is somehow more accurate than the other three calibers. This is not strictly true, but since all target guns are made in this caliber only, a lot of .177 guns ARE, in fact, more accurate than guns in other calibers. There have been .22 caliber target airguns made in the past in England, Germany, America and perhaps other countries, but today the only target guns made are .177.

The sport of field target is one competitive shooting sport in which a .177 places the shooter at a distinct advantage. The shooter must shoot a pellet through a small hole in a steel target to hit a paddle, knocking down the target and registering a hit. If the pellet touches the side of the hole, there’s a good chance the target won’t fall and no point will be awarded. The kill-zone holes range from 1/4″ to 2″ in diameter, but the smaller holes are by far more common in a match. So, the smaller size of the .177 pellet makes it the statistically superior choice in this sport.

A problem .177 pellets have is that their light weight allows them to go faster than the larger sizes. Once the speed of the pellet approaches the speed of sound (a variable speed of approximately 1,100 f.p.s. at sea level), the accuracy suffers. For powerful air rifles, shooters must select the heaviest pellets in .177 to keep the velocity down.

Sometimes, guns come in both .177 and .22 calibers. Which should you get? Well, consider this. Any given gun will shoot faster in .177 than in .22, if all things are equal. That same gun will hit about 20 percent harder (have more energy) in .22. The .177 pellets tend to be less expensive than .22 pellets, plus there are often more of them in a box. The .22 pellet is larger and some people find it easier to load than the smaller .177.

One final thought. The .177 caliber is by far the most popular today and will be the easiest pellet to find in a store.

.20/5mm
Did you notice at the start of this article that the .20 caliber is the only one also designated by its metric size? While all pellets are marked with both their English and metric sizes today, the .20 caliber was actually created that way from the start.

Sheridan introduced the .20 caliber pellet to the world in 1947. Even then they also referred to it as a 5mm.

In 1947, Ed Wackerhagen designed a multi-pump pneumatic air rifle that he called the Sheridan. He found commercial airgun ammunition of the time too inaccurate to work well in his rifle, so he created a proprietary caliber–the .20. Of course, this also meant that his company had to supply all ammunition. While that sounds like a good way to make more money, it can also backfire and destroy the entire marketing plan. If shooters feel they may not be able to purchase an odd-sized caliber in the future (consider the Remington 5mm rimfire that can now cost a dollar a round), they might not buy the gun.

The .20 caliber/5mm got off to a somewhat tenuous start, but Sheridan remained in production and by the mid-1970s, nobody gave it much thought. However, no other airguns were made in that caliber until Robert Beeman requested Feinwerkbau to make up five special model 124 rifles for his company. That project never went anywhere, but within a few more years Weihrauch, the German maker of all the Beeman R-series guns, began making 5mm guns. The market blossomed from there.

America has been the leader in .20 caliber/5mm airguns, but Europe is producing more of them all the time. The pellet makers are also making more designs of pellets in this caliber. There are still fewer choices in .20 caliber than in .177 and .22, but the gap is narrowing.

Many shooters consider .20 caliber to be a good compromise between .177 and .22. Robert Beeman promoted it that way in his catalogs for many years. Actually, .20 is a little closer to .22 than it is to .177 in terms of the cost of the pellets and pellet weight.

While some British ads promote the .20 as a long-range pellet that’s superior to the .22, they’re looking only at the very specific instance of Crosman Premier pellets in that ad. The .22 has a great number of pellets that are better for long-range shooting than any .20 caliber pellet, though there’s nothing wrong with shooting a .20 at a great distance.

Get a .20 caliber gun for general shooting and for hunting or pest elimination. The pellets cost about as much as .22 pellets, but there are fewer styles to choose from.

.22–the hunter’s choice 
The .22 caliber pellet grew out of the .22 rimfire, which, at the start of the 20th century was the choice for most small shooting jobs such as pest elimination. But, a .22 caliber pellet is no longer the same diameter as a .22 rimfire bullet, nor will a rimfire barrel work well for pellets. The rimfire barrel is sized 0.222″ to 0.223″ across the grooves, while the airgun barrel is sized 0.217″ to 0.218″.

Twenty-two caliber was the most popular airgun caliber in America until the late 1960s. That’s why more airguns of that caliber exist among the vintage and antique guns made in this country. The .22 caliber pellet is definitely the choice of the hunter and pest eliminator. It hits harder and also transmits more of its energy to the target than the smaller .177. A .177 pellet traveling at high-velocity is small enough to pass completely through the body of a small animal, leaving no visible signs of trauma if a vital organ or bone is not hit. Even a chipmunk can be “acupunctured” in this way. Of course, the animal is in extreme pain, but since animals don’t act the same as humans, it appears to simply run off. Usually, it will die several days to weeks later, after suffering increasingly greater pain.

The same thing CAN happen with a .22 pellet, but, because of the larger size, it’s much less likely. Speaking of high velocity and hunting with pellet guns, let’s clear up a misconception. In firearms, a high velocity bullet does so much damage to its target that much smaller calibers can be used to hunt big game. This began with the introduction of the .220 Swift in 1935 and grew very popular through the promotion of Roy Weatherby.

But, pellets are not centerfire bullets. They don’t travel 3,000 f.p.s. and faster. Even at a top speed of 1,200 f.p.s., a pellet is going WAY too slow to have a similar hydraulic shock effect on game. So a “fast” pellet is of no advantage to a hunter unless it also carries a large amount of energy that it can successfully transfer to the animal. That’s why the .22 is the king of the hunting calibers.

As far as general shooting goes, the .22 caliber is just fine. The pellets do cost more than .177s and the velocities of the guns are usually slower, but a good shot will have no problem with a .22. It’s the second most popular airgun caliber.

The big .25 
To many shooters, “Bigger is better.” So the .25 caliber has to be the best – right? Perhaps, but learn all the facts before making up your mind.

The quarter-inch bore is somewhat older than the .177. It existed in smoothbore airguns at the end of the 19th century, and BSA made it popular in 1906 with the first rifled smallbore air rifle to use .25 caliber. In those days, and on up until around the 1980s, all .25 caliber air rifles were low-powered and slow. Velocities were in the 300 to 400 f.p.s. range.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the emergence of powerful rifles made this caliber truly viable and brought it fully back to life. The funny thing is, some guns that OUGHT to be great in .25 caliber don’t fulfill their promise, and others that SHOULD be too puny to do well are surprisingly good! The RWS 48/52 is one of the most popular spring guns ever made. In .22 it is very powerful for a spring rifle, yet in .25 the power drops off a bit. On the other hand, the lightweight BSA Supersport Magnum, which is a delight in .177 and .22 and ought to be a dog in .25, seems to defy logic by also handling the big caliber well.

In the precharged rifles, .25 caliber doesn’t deliver much of an advantage. That’s because the new solid .22 pellets are already so heavy that there is no clear advantage for a .25. Yes, there are solid .25 pellets that are even heavier than the heaviest .22s, but they take away some velocity, which makes long-range shooting that much more difficult.


The Beeman P1 is considered a very powerful air pistol. Even so, at just six foot-pounds, it’s not powerful enough for small game hunting.

Air pistols 
All we’ve talked about so far is air rifles. Where do the pistols fit in?

For starters, air pistols are MUCH less powerful than air rifles, as a rule. The magnum spring pistols top out at about 6 foot-pounds, while the rifles get up to the low 30s. In the precharged guns, air pistols in the four smallbore calibers we’re looking at get up to 12 or even 14 foot-pounds, but the rifles get up as high at 80 foot-pounds! There are a few specialty pistols made in the Orient that get 30 to 50 foot-pounds, but these airguns are as large and heavy as small carbines.

This difference in power between pistols and rifles makes .177 caliber almost the universal choice for an air pistol. When people ask about hunting with a pistol, we tell them that unless they have a 12 foot-pound pistol, they really shouldn’t hunt. Yes, it’s possible to kill certain pests like rats and mice with an air pistol, but it’s almost never a sporting choice for a hunter.

As long as you keep the power level in mind, there is absolutely nothing wrong with owning and shooting a .20-, a .22- and even a .25-caliber air pistol. Just knowing about the big power difference between air pistols and air rifles will help you decide what to get.

Not all round balls are BBs. Shown from left to right: BB, .177 round ball, .22 round ball and .25 round ball.

BBs: Are they the same as .177? 
No! The BB is smaller than .177. In fact, it’s a completely different caliber. When it was first created in 1886, a BB was a type of shotgun shot sized 0.180″ in diameter. Through the years, the size became smaller, until todays steel BB is 0.172″ to 0.173′.

Some airguns can shoot either BBs or pellets. What’s the deal there? The deal is that they’re designed with some kind of compromise bore that will not be damaged by steel BBs, yet a lead pellet can also be shot. These guns are seldom as accurate with either ammunition as regular pellet-only guns, though some of them do a pretty remarkable job at short ranges.

NEVER shoot steel BBs in a gun designed to shoot only pellets! Pellet gun barrels are softer, and the undersized steel BB will damage the rifling (if there is any) as it rattles down the bore. If the gun is smoothbore, there’s no rifling to ruin, but a .177 bore is still oversized and will give poor performance.

A good way to shoot round balls in a pellet gun is to use a round lead ball. These are sized the same as lead pellets and won’t harm your barrel. A few manufacturers make round balls in .177. .22 and .25.

Summary
The four main airgun calibers give you a lot of choice. You have to think about what you want to do with your airgun, then pick an appropriate pellet and try it out. Like anything else in life, the final answer to what’s the best caliber or best pellet lies with you. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the most important fundamentals.  But for survival use, a .22LR caliber rifle or pistol is oftentimes a better choice.  A firearm such as a Ruger 10/22 rifle, weighs around 4-1/2 lb vs. an air rifle which can easily weigh more than 10 pounds.  That 6-lbs of difference translates into a lot of .22LR ammunition.  And, a .22LR firearm provides substantially greater range, is useful on larger game, and it can provide at least a minimal benefit for self-defense.  If noise is the major consideration, or the selection of a gun that is less likely to kill someone, than an airgun is a good choice.  But for most other purposes the .22 LR firearm is a better choice.