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What Doomsday Preppers Can Teach You About Home Defense


The topic of doomsday prepping is quite divisive. To many, the idea of stockpiling food, fuel, generators, medical supplies, firearms and ammunition to prepare for a natural disaster and/or large scale civil unrest seems more than a little extreme. On the other hand, preppers are typically surprised at how many of their neighbors fail to take basic precautions for themselves and their families in the event of a catastrophe.

You need look no further than Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath to comprehend the importance of disaster planning. Americans were able to see firsthand the chaos that ensued in the days and weeks following the hurricane. The importance of self-reliance became crystal clear, as government assistance was not readily available. In fact, many credit Katrina as being the catalyst for the recent wave of interest in prepping.

To put it simply, "If it's predictable, it's preventable."

Sure, being prepared is great. But some tend to take prepping to the extreme. For instance, most would agree having a first aid kit in your vehicle is a reasonable step to help ensure you can provide medical treatment, if necessary.

Although converting your personal vehicle into an ambulance would enable you to better treat someone who was injured, your significant other might not appreciate rolling around in your "meat wagon." It's important to strike a balance between preparation and practicality.

Regardless of your stance on prepping, there is a definite correlation between preparing for a hurricane, wildfire, tornado — even a zombie apocalypse — and preparing to defend your home from a criminal intruder. When it comes to home defense, you can learn a lot from preppers.

Preppers tend to be, well, prepared. This is in stark contrast to many homeowners, who seem to believe that their hunting rifle or shotgun will virtually appear in their hands fully loaded, should someone break into their residence.

Assuming you will readily access and load a firearm you're not used to shooting — particularly one that's not intended for defensive shooting — is far more absurd that someone who goes a little overboard planning for worst-case scenario. Far too many homeowners confuse mere ownership of a firearm with having a practicable home defense plan.

At the very heart of prepping is the acknowledgment that bad things happen even to good people and that we are vulnerable. Therefore, preppers by nature take the notion of protecting and providing for their family very seriously. Storing supplies is one thing, but preppers understand that without weapons and training, they will likely be unable to safeguard their cache from desperate neighbors who were less prepared but better armed.

A diligent prepper understands the pros and cons of various types of firearms and has ample personal defense ammunition on hand. With an understanding that skill-at-arms may be all that separates their life-sustaining rations from hungry, desperate outsiders, the true prepper has considered likely home invasion scenarios and developed a solid plan to safeguard their family and supplies. And you can bet that the hard-core prepper is not only mentally prepared to take a life if necessary, but also proficient in the tactical storage and deployment of firearms because he understands that in an emergency, seconds count.

While some preppers take the concept of having a safe room to the extreme — i.e., spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an underground bunker — the concept of having a designated room in your home where family members would converge in the event of a break-in is certainly viable.


A safe room is intended to be a rally point, where you can account for all family members and share information relevant to thwarting the home invasion. This is also the place where you or a designated family member can call 911 to initiate the police response.

Integral to the safe room concept is the notion that it's much easier to defend a single room than to search the entire residence for bad guys, who could be waiting to ambush you. You should consider keeping a safe in the room in order to store a rifle or shotgun. While it may be more practical to be armed with a handgun while moving to the safe room, there are several advantages to having a long gun once you're there.

Because of the longer sight radius and multiple points of contact to your body, a long gun is inherently easier to shoot than handgun. A long gun will also provide you better ballistic capabilities than a handgun and, in the case of an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine, a much higher ammunition capacity.

When you're armed with a long gun and monitor the door to the safe room from a position of cover, you're at a tremendous advantage because you can narrow your focus to a single point. Of course, a prepper would have his most essential supplies in this room, but from a home defense standpoint, this is unnecessary.

A safe room doesn't have to be elaborate, but at a minimum it should have a solid core door that is capable of being locked with a deadbolt from the inside. Ideally, there should be large, heavy furniture items within the room that can provide a degree of cover.

You may be tempted to dismiss preppers as paranoid or out of touch with reality. Just remember, the same is often said of individuals who carry a concealed handgun or own an AR-15 for home defense. There's a fine line between paranoid and prepared. If the unthinkable were to occur, the paranoid prepper just might look pretty darn smart.

Remington 870 Special Purpose Marine Magnum

During a major disaster, you need guns for both defense and obtaining sustenance: The 12-gauge shotgun is arguably the best for each. Load it with 6's to kill birds for the pot, slugs to take down deer and elk, and buckshot to fend off would-be looters. Since you'll be too busy finding food and avoiding the undead to clean your gun, we've selected a reliable, anti-corrosive model: the 870 Marine Magnum. There's a reason Remington has sold about 10 million 870s since 1950 -- they work -- and the nickel-plated Marine Magnum version is as rust-proof as it gets.

Kahr PM9

The PM9 is an intriguing little gun with a thin frame and 3-inch barrel. It's convenient and comfortable for daily carry, yet packs a sturdy wallop when its seven-round magazine is fed +P 9mm ammo. A polymer frame and stainless slide add durability. During the apocalypse, you need a gun you can keep on your person at all times, even if you go outside at night to relieve yourself (forget indoor plumbing). Kahr makes just such a gun.

McMillan TAC-50

If you want any kind of security at your post-apocalyptic shelter, you'll need to set up a perimeter. And what better way to keep plunderers at bay than with the extended reach and terminal ballistics of the .50 BMG? The McMillan TAC-50 is renowned for its accuracy, and weight-shaving measures such as barrel fluting reduce its heft to 26 pounds with optics and bipod. It's not exactly light, but it's less robust than other .50-caliber guns and mobile enough for transport in case you need to switch caves.

Bushmaster Carbon 15 M4 Carbine

Desperate human looters. Terrorist invaders. Herds of zombies. Post-apocalyptic Earth is not without its pitfalls. But with an M4 carbine and a few 30-round magazines, you are set for a lot of onslaughts. There was a time when many didn't consider semi-auto rifles a good choice for tight-quarters defense, but that changed when low-recoil rounds like Hornady Tap ammo hit the market, enabling shooters to get back on target in a hurry. Add to that the medium- to long-range ballistics of the 5.56/.223, and Bushmaster's AR-15 can be considered one of the most versatile rifles available.

Springfield M1A SOCOM II

When society falls, there will be two kinds of people: Those who starve to death a week after the last Whole Foods closes, and those who own deer rifles. So, if one day you wake up and discover that you're a doomsday sportsman, we suggest the Springfield M1A SOCOM II. Chambered in .308 Win., it packs plenty of punch for practically any big-game animal in North America. And since safety traveling to and from the hunt has never been of greater concern, we picked a gun with a host of tactical features -- a 16-inch barrel, 10-round magazine, Tritium front sight and an extended optics rail, to name a few. Eat well and stay safe.

Smith & Wesson Model 629

Semi-autos are all the rage these days thanks to advantages such as fast magazine reloads and increased capacity, but revolvers may reclaim their dominance once gun cleaning supplies run short and gunsmiths close up shop. Their design is simple and reliable, with far fewer springs and moving parts to maintain. As the author's revolver-carrying, retired law-enforcement grandfather puts it, 'I carry a revolver because I know without question that it will go bang every time. ' After the world goes to hell, the last functional repeating firearms on the planet could very well be stainless steel revolvers such as Smith & Wesson's Model 629.


One pervasive theme of this essay is a focus on reliability, and the AK-47 is arguably the most durable autoloader ever invented. You can practically pick up a handful of sand, throw it in the action and Kalashnikov's brilliantly simple design will keep on running. That's why Arab tribes are still able to use many of the AK-47s confiscated from Russian troops in the '80s. The AK and its many variants require little maintenance, and it seems even when their tolerances are a little off, the action's ability to cycle is not affected. With a 30-round magazine of 7.62x39 ammo, it will take a determined effort if anyone's going to steal your canned goods.

Holland and Holland Royal Side by Side Shotgun

We make this recommendation not as a gun to procure food or kill zombies, but because one day repopulated humans or our alien overlords will inherit the earth. Given that most of our written history will be wiped out during the disaster (on the bright side, this will include the '70s), we need at least one Holland and Holland Royal to survive. How else will future peoples know that we were once a civilization that appreciated art, culture and fine scroll engraving? Sure, we went out as a bunch of stinky, toothless, knuckle-dragging looters, but dammit we invented the best-bespoke shotgun!

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