From my opinion, handguns need to serve a dual role purpose – just like rifles or shotguns. Whether its on your hip while walking around the yard, or in your hand while hog or deer hunting, be sure to pick a caliber that will get the job done.
5. 22 long rifle – inexpensive, light weight, takes care of small pest with little or no problems. The light recoil makes the 22 a great choice for small framed adults, teenagers learning to shoot and people who do not like the recoil of the larger calibers.
One of the big bonuses of the 22 long rifle, it can be shot out of a pistol or rifle, this makes it a dual role caliber. From a stockpiling point of view, and you intend for everyone in your group to be armed, the most inexpensive route is the 22 long rifle. When a brick of 550 rounds cost between $12 – $20, its cost effective to stockpile thousands of 22 rounds. For $200 someone could probably buy more 22 long rifle then they will shoot in a 10 years – do that with 9mm, 40S&w, 45ACP or 357Sig.
4. 38 special – less recoil then the 357 magnum, can be shot out of pistols and rifles chambered for 357 magnum, easy to reload. From my reloading experience, the 38 special can use 6 grains of unique, which is the same charge that I used for the 9mm. With 6,000 grains in a pound of powder, that means you can get around 1,000 38 special loads from 1 pound of unique.
Stockpiling the 38 special – a lot of police still use the 38 special to qualify their officers, this makes 38 special brass easy to find. If your looking for a cheap, easy to find, easy to reload round to stockpile, the 38 special is going to be difficult to beat. I remember going to gun shows and seeing 38 special brass by the5 gallon bucket load.
Its the light recoil, abundance of brass for reloading, ease of reloading and ability to shoot out firearms chambered for 357 magnum that puts the 38 special at #4.
3 & 2 – tied between the 9mm and 45ACP – If you think the 9mm is better then the 45ACP, thats fine. If you like the 45ACP over the 9mm, thats fine also. The 9mm and 45ACP have to share the # 2 & #3 spots for the best round for survivalist. Their both easy to reload, brass is easily available, and sometimes you can find good deals on bulk ammo.
Back when I was reloading, a buddy of mine and I, we both had a progressive reloading presses setup in the same shop. My buddy had a Lee and I had an RCBS Rock Chucker with a Piggyback. In 1 hour we could load 1,000 rounds of 9mm. Their were 2 of us working the presses – 1 person per press, and a third person was keeping the powder hoppers filled up, keeping the brass on hand and the primers ready to go. We were using 6 grains of unique, small pistol primers and Remington 115 grain round nose. We would all pitch in and buy bullets in bulk from Midway USA. Back in the mid – late 1990s Midway used to have a case of 5,000 9mm bullets – that is what we would buy. It was not uncommon to load 2,000 – 3,000 rounds of 9mm in a weekend. Then we would switch the presses over to 45ACP, 38 special or 357 magnum and keep loading.
A lot of police officers use the 9mm and 45ACP, so finding brass should not be a problem – just like the 38 special. If you know someone that works for the local police department or sheriffs department, ask them to pick up brass for you next time they qualify with their pistols. There have been a several times when friends brought me 5 gallons buckets of mixed brass from the ranges – 9mm, 45ACP, 357sig, 38 special, 357 magnum,,,,,,. It took a couple of hours to go through all of the brass and sort to the different calibers, but it was worth it.
One of the plus sides to the 9mm and 45ACP, certain companies are making rifles for them as well. Examples include the Marlin camp 9 and camp 45, and the Beretta Px4 Storm.
1. 357 magnum – despite the “magnum” name, the recoil is manageable, the 357 is chambered in pistols and rifles, its easy to reload and its got enough power to take deer and hog size game, or be able to shoot through a car – which ever one you need to do at the time.
If you do not want a revolver, then there is the Magnum Research Desert Eagle.
If you want a rifle chambered in 357 magnum, there is the Marlin 1894 lever action.
Personally, I shoot a Smith & Wesson model 66 combat magnum.
There is just something about holding and shooting a revolver that a semi-auto can not compare to. The feel of the wooden grips is much better then the plastic grips of most semi-autos, the action of a wheel gun seems smoother then the action of most semi-autos.
40 S&W – when the 40 came out, I was one of the people that jumped on the band wagon and bought one. The pistol I owned was the Ruger P91 DC – the DC stood for “decocker.” It was stainless steel, double action, 40 S&W.
After shooting a few hundred rounds of 40S&W, I can honestly say that I do not like the recoil. When compared to the 9mm and the 45ACP, the 40S&W seems to have a sharper and most unpleasant recoil. Its the harsh recoil that keep the 40 out of the top 5.
41 magnum – the 41 magnum offers improved ballistics over the 357 magnum, but at the cost of a larger frame pistol and a little more recoil. Even though the 41 magnum has a lot to offer, it never did catch on like other calibers did.
44 magnum – Dirty Harry and the term “hand cannon” helped push the 44 magnum to popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. If you need a handgun for bear, then the 44 magnum might be right up your alley. If you need a handgun just about anyone in the family can shoot, the 44 magnum is off the list.
With rifles like the Marlin 1894, maybe the 44 magnum should be considered more of a light rifle round then a heavy pistol cartridge.
Post your comments in this forum thread about my top 5 pistol calibers for survivalist.