December 2005

Downrange: 12/05

WAITING ON RITA, PART II

Last month’s column, “Waiting on Rita,” has generated some very interesting mail so far — and the November 2005 issue has only been out a couple of days. If you’ll recall, I asked Gun Tests readers what guns they would pack if they could only take one (or one per car, as I did). Here’s a sampling of what I’ve received so far:

Steve Ashman writes, “That was a hard question, how to limit myself to one gun in an evacuation. I would take my Ruger Mini-14 with a see-through-mount 4X scope, all the 20- and 30-round mags I had, and a 1000-round brick of Salt Lake surplus 5.56mm. The reason would be reliability of the Mini-14. I have put many thousands of rounds through it with only one malfunction I can remember. For my wife, her home-defense gun, a Remington 870 youth model 20 gauge, would be my pick. I have seen my share of hurricanes here in eastern North Carolina, and I have stayed through them all.”

Walter Elam said, “My 10/22 would be high on the list. It and as many loaded mags and loose .22 ammo as possible. My wife’s Model 19 S&W with speed-loaders would probably be No. 1 if we could only take one. It’s easy to conceal, and when push comes to shove, a .357 makes a bigger hole than a .22. Also, it’s one of the only two loaded guns in the house. The other, my Single Six, is too slow to reload, and even with the magnum cylinder in place, it is no match for a full-power .357. It’s like life insurance, hope we never need either, but it’s comforting to have.”

Fellow Houstonian James Heimer submitted this: “In the last issue, you asked what would you take if you had to choose just one gun, stuff it into a packed automobile, and hit the road with a couple million of your new best friends? My weapon of choice would be an AR-15–type short-barrel carbine with a collapsible stock, an optical sight (like the Barska Electro Sight or the Leupold CQT4), a guard-mounted laser sight and tactical light, and a couple (OK, four) 30-round magazines. As much as I like my 9mm semiautos, in an extreme situation (think Katrina, roving gangs of looters, no power or light), pistols just don’t have the firepower or range that I would like to have in such a situation. On the other hand, with the stock collapsed, the weapon is small enough to work inside an enclosed space, where you would normally want a handgun. By the way, when I evacuated for Rita (an unnecessary exercise, as it turned out), I packed all of my firearms (four pistols and the above-mentioned rifle). I wasn’t anticipating needing to use them all, but I was also not willing to imperil my neighbors by leaving them in the house for looters to find, if it came to that.”

As more one-gun suggestions come in, I’ll run them in “Firing Line” each month. It’s a fascinating question, and I appreciate everyone’s input.


-Todd Woodard