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Prepping For SHTF

Two Rifle Calibers for SHTF survival

If the reader had to pick two rifle calibers for surviving a SHTF situation, what the rifle calibers be?

This evening my wife and I went to the camp (aka Bug Out Location) to check on things.  While I was looking through the ammunition stocks, it was like someone turned on a light.  I realized the ammo that I was looking at was divided into 2 categories – small rifle (22 long rifle) and medium/large rifle (30-30, 308 and 30-06).

The 223 and 7.62×39 are stored separately from the main hunting calibers.  When my family goes to the camp during deer season, they do not need to dig through 500+ rounds of 223 to find a box of 30-06 or 308.

While I was looking at the 22 long rifle and the 30-30, 308 and 30-06 I realized that most people would only need 2 calibers for a shtf survival situation.

1 rifle caliber for small game hunting.

1 rifle caliber for everything else.

22 Long Rifle for SHTF

Lets say that some kind of long term disaster happens, such as civil unrest, climate change, new disease breaks out.  You and your family head to the remote camp.  Unless you have a small farm with chickens, rabbits, hogs, or goats, the main source of meat is either going to be fishing or hunting.

Ruger 10/22 22 Long Rifle For SHTF

The 22 long rifle is well suited for taking just about any small game in North America, maybe even anywhere in the world.

If the muzzle report is a concern, stock upon 22 shorts or sub-sonic ammo.

If you need a little more power then the 22 long rifle, there is the 22 magnum.

When my dad was growing up, one of the families main sources of food was small game, like squirrels.  For hunting the tree rats, my dad used 22 shorts.   When I was growing up, my dad used to take me and my brother squirrel hunting every winter.  Instead of using a 22 rifle, we used shotguns – my dad used a 12 gauge with #4 shot, and I used my single shot Winchester 410.  when I got old enough, my dad bought me a Montgomery Ward Western Field (Mossberg) 12 gauge pump shotgun.

One of the big differences between the 22 long rifle and a shotgun, is the cost of the ammunition.  Where a box of 25 shotgun shells might cost $10 – $15, a brick of 500 round of 22 long rifle cost less then $20.

Shotgun VS 22 long rifle:

Shotgun:  25 rounds for $10 – $15

22 long rifle:  325 – 550 rounds for less then $20

Related Article: Best rifle and shotgun for SHTF survival

A 12 gauge loaded with #4 shot is very effective for knocking fox squirrels out of the tops of 100 foot tall pine trees.  Where a 22 long rifle might wound a squirrel, and then that squirrel get on top of a limb and die, a shotgun will knock the squirrel out of the tree.

Early fall as the acorns and pine cones start forming in the tree, the squirrels will be high in the limbs eating the acorns and tearing the pine cones apart.  This is when you need a good shotgun, or a clear shot with a 22 long rifle.  Wait for the squirrels to get on the outer limbs of the trees to use the 22.

Mid-winter when the last of the acorns start dropping, the squirrels will be on the ground looking for the acorns.  This is where a 22 rifle with a scope can be effective in taking small game.  As the squirrels rummage through the leaves looking for acorns, a hunter can pick the squirrels off from a distance.

All Other Hunting Rifle Calibers

white tail deer and atv

Whitetail deer taken with Marlin 336 30-30

There are lots of factors to consider when the topic of a SHTF rifle caliber comes up.  My personal preference is to pick a caliber that works well for your location.  Someone in Alaska and the northwest is going to need a different caliber then someone in the flat areas of Florida or the thick forest of the south.

In west Texas a lot of people use calibers like the 25-06 or the 270.  Those calibers shoot flat and are well suited for wide open areas,

In the piney woods of east Texas, something like the 30-30 is well suited because most shots are not over 100 yards.  There are a lot of people in east Texas that use the 270 Winchester, 308 Winchester and the 30-06 as well as the 30-30.

One of the things that my family did over the years, we collected too many different calibers for a SHTF survival situation. We bought hunting rifles with little regard for stockpiling 1 or 2 standard calibers. But that is what happens when someone buys a rifle here and there. Then spread that “here and there” over 20 years.

270 Winchester

Deer hunting 270 WinchesterThe 270 Winchester is well suited for harvesting just about anything in the lower 48 states, with maybe the exception of bear, elk or moose.  When you get into the bear, moose and elk sized game, its generally recommend that people upgrade to something in the 280 or 30-06 range.

A few years ago I took a whitetail deer with a Weatherby Vanguard chambered in 270 Winchester.  It was late in the evening, just before sundown, I eased over the top of a hill so that I had a good vantage over an old logging road.  Standing in the middle of the road with its head down was a nice 8 point.  The deer was too busy eating the weeds and small grass in the road, and did not see me.

If I remember right, the bullets were 140 Grain Remington Core-Lokt. A round struck the deer in the neck, right around the jugular vein. The deer jumped, and ran about 40 yards before it hit the ground.

280 Remington

It is partially my fault that my family has so many calibers.  Back in the mid-1990s I wanted a good bolt action rifle chambered in something besides 30-06.  Instead of picking the 308, I got a rifle chambered in 280/7mm express.  There is nothing wrong with the 280, its a great caliber for deer – elk sized game.

Since the 1990s the price of 280 ammunition has steadily increased to where a box of 20 rounds cost in the $25 price range.  As compared to 308 at between $13 – $16 for 308, 280 is too expensive to stockpile.  I keep a few boxes of 280 on hand, maybe 200 rounds or so.

30-30 Winchester For SHTF

Over the past 100 years the 30-30 Winchester has proven itself to be an efficient deer slayer.  From 1894 to present day, the lever action 30-30 has ingrained itself into American culture.  When the word “lever action” is mentioned, thoughts of the wild west and gun fights with Indians flash through peoples heads.

Over the past few years, my some has taken 3 whitetail deer with his Marlin 336 30-30. One of the deer fell where it stood, one deer ran about 30 feet before falling, and a nice 8 point ran about 40 yards before it fell. The 8 point weighed in at around 140 – 150 pounds.

Related article: 8 point buck taken with a Marlin 336

308 Winchester For SHTF

The 308 was introduced in 1952, in the past 60 years the 308 has proven itself to be not only an effective military cartridge, but also a very effective hunting caliber.

For a long term SHTF survival situation, the 308 has certain advantages that other calibers do not have.

Wide selection of rifles – unlike the 30-30 that is mostly manufactured in lever action, the 308 is chambered in everything from single shot to semi-auto.

Bulk ammo – with the exception of the 223, 7.62×39 and the 30-06, few calibers offer bulk prices like the 308 does.  Having been adopted by various militaries all over the world, the 308 was mass produced in untold numbers.

Accuracy – as compared to other calibers, the 308 has certain advantages in accuracy that calibers like the 30-30 can not touch.  The accuracy factor is one reason why the 308 was adopted by the US military.

30-06 Springfield For SHTF

Introduced in 1906 and made famous by 2 World Wars. The 30-06 has probably killed more people, and wild game then any other cartridge.

One thing to keep in mind with the ’06, studies show that the 30-06 is the largest caliber that the majority of people can shoot accurately. Meaning, the ’06 may not be a good choice for a family caliber. If you want to pick a caliber that teenagers and all of the family members can shoot, the ’06 may not be a good choice.

.30 caliber survival rifle

On the other hand, the ’06 can take just about any game in North America, with the exception of large and dangerous bears.

As with the 308, the ’06 has certain advantages – wide range of rifles and massive amounts of surplus ammunition.

Magnum Calibers

Once you get past the 30-06 you start to get into the magnum calibers – 7mm magnum, 300 Winchester magnum, 338 Winchester magnum,,,,, and so.

Unless you live an area with large or dangerous game, there is no need for someone to invest into a magnum caliber.  There are people that try to justify hunting a 150 whitetail deer with a 7mm magnum, but its just overkill.  There is no need in using a magnum caliber when something like the 270, 30-30 or the 308 will do just fine.

Specialty calibers

From time to time a hunter maybe be in need of a specialty caliber.  Examples of this might be people hunting in west Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas,,, where shots might be several hundred yards.

One guy I used to work with hunted in west Texas and liked shooting the 25-06.  He thought the 25-06 was the best choice for his situation; where he needed a flat shooting rifle for the wide open spaces in the Texas hill country.  I would not call the 25-06 a specialty caliber.  What makes it special, was the shooter picked what he thought was the best caliber for his shooting situation.


The 22 long rifle is well suited for small game, but after that one should consider the best rifle for their situation.

Consideration should be given to the cost of stockpiling large amounts of ammunition.

Will the family be used by the whole family, or just certain members?

Final Thoughts

Good luck to you and your family in your preps.  Its one thing to read an article on a website, its another thing to put those plans into motion.  I fear that the USA and the entire world is in for some rough times in the near future.

With climate change, shortages of drinking water, civil unrest, drought, increasing food prices, increasing fuel prices,,,, in the near future mankind will be faced with some tough choices.  Prepare your family, stock up food while you have the chance and get ready for some rough times.


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