January 2006

Firing Line: 01/06

Re “Waiting on Rita,”
November 2005:

We live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so the threat of a disaster — earthquake, terrorist, etc. — is fairly real. Your question probably will get different responses from different areas. My wife and I are quite proficient with our weapons. Our house guns are a Les Baer P-II 5-inch 1911 for me and a Glock M21 .45 for her, as well as a Mossberg shotgun tricked out with extra shells and a light.

Which to take with only one permitted? We would take the Glock .45 and 5,000 rounds of ammunition and at least six extra mags. Inside 75 yards a miscreant is in real trouble with either of us and the Glock. Plus, the Glock is easy to take down and repair. I keep all the bits that might break in a kit with a Glock tool and lubricant fastened to the top of the box of ammunition. I like the idea of the shotgun, but the shells are too heavy to carry a useful amount. Your reader who chose the Ranch Rifle is probably just as correct. But at the ranges that are most likely realistic, the Glock is a pretty good match for the Ruger and much, much easier to carry and conceal.

Your book is great.

Joe Turner
Napa, California

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My wife and I have spent quite a bit of time talking about this since your article in November. We don’t have to worry about hurricanes, but we do live smack in the middle of Tornado Alley, and we have to evacuate our house or seek shelter at least three to five times a year. The last time was November 27. Each time we have to escape, we secure the safes and hope for the best. Without fail, our guns to take along are a Marlin lever action in .357 Mag., my wife’s S&W Model 19 in the same caliber, and a S&W 66-2 carried on my hip. All shoot the same ammo and have everything we need or may need, in the way of firepower, knockdown, range and tactical maneuverability in a small space.

This is a great question, and has really helped us to re-evaluate our choices and future purchases. We hope to see more of this type of question in the future

Bill and Crystal
North Arkansas

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As one who has evacuated from a hurricane (Opal) while stationed in the Florida panhandle, I packed all 30 or so guns and took them to Tallahassee with me, the wife, kids, dogs, and cat. I was so concerned with looters getting them I did not want to chance it. But given the restriction of one per car I would pack my HK-94A3, all my 30-round mags (loaded of course), and 500 rounds of extra ammo. I use the +P rounds for more punch. The retractable stock makes it easy to handle in confined spaces, and I can shoot it with one hand in a pinch. The wife is comfortable with her Sig P-230 .380. It fits her hand well, and the recoil is something she is used to. It is also easily concealable. Loading the gun with hollowpoints, she could handle most threats.

Tom Turner, USAF (ret.)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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First, I just want to say that I think your magazine is great. You guys give an honest and accurate review of firearms that the other gun magazines won’t print. Kudos!

Regarding your question, “if I could only take one gun,” my answer would be my Glock 19. In my opinion, the Glock 19 is the best all-round battle weapon for street carry and home defense, if one gun is all I could have. It has the best balance of size, weight, power, reliability, and handle-ability (is that a word?). And with several spare loaded magazines on hand, it has nonstop firepower enough to handle most situations. I never leave my house without my G19.

I always carry a back-up revolver, a Smith & Wesson 442 Airweight, since even the best pistol can malfunction or break (or be taken away in a struggle). My G19 has hiccupped a couple of times during local competition shoots when my adrenaline was pumping and I limp-wristed some shots (operator error), but the G19 clears jams easily with a good tap/rack maneuver. Almost 4,000 rounds through this one firearm, and it operates like brand new. Complete with tritium sights, Fobus paddle holster, Federal 105-grain Expanding Full Metal Jacket rounds (and of course a good flashlight!), I am good to go

Tony Nista
Houston, Texas

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If I had to chose one gun, it would be my Kel-Tec P-32, the same one I choose when I go to Wal-Mart. However, living in eastern North Carolina I have had to flee hurricanes, and I did not take just one. In 1999, I took my Daewoo DP51 9MM and a CMP M1 carbine. During the current lively hurricane season, I had a case packed with the old Daewoo DP51 9mm and a Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9MM. Also extra 9mm and 32 APC ammo. I carry the Kel Tec P-32. All I need to add is a small cleaning kit.

I picked up the Sub 2000 on your advice. It works great, but that cold metal stock is hard on the face.

David
Fayetteville, North Carolina

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A friend and shooting buddy who makes his living as a chief of police and I used to discuss in detail what gun we would choose if we could only have one. Would it be a long arm or pistol, what caliber, barrel length, etc. We both decided on a .357 handgun, he a 4-inch and I a 6-inch since I hunt and regulations in our state require a 5.5- inch minimum barrel length.

Sad to say, an early arrival home from a trip initiated the breakup of my marriage of 15 years. My actual firearm selections (I did take two) while hastily stuffing what I could in the back seat of my car was interesting considering all the thought I had given to the subject, and considering the selection available in my gun safe.

I didn’t pick any .357. Instead, I slid an NAA .22 mini revolver housed in a deerskin holster of my own making inside my front pants pocket (I have a concealed carry permit). I packed in my duffle an AMT 1911 in another of my handmade deerskin holsters, along with three seven-round magazines.

After reading “Downrange” in the November 2005 issue of Gun Tests, I thought with interest about my choices and how neither bore any resemblance to my preconceived notion of what I would choose if limited to only one gun. I know I am going to catch serious heat from probably just about everyone, but when actually forced to choose, I picked the NAA.

Billy Joe Farmer

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If I had to choose just one gun...? It would have to be my Kimber .45 ACP 1911A1. But if I can choose just one of each rifle, shotgun, and handgun, then it would be my SKS, Winchester 1300 shotgun, and my Kimber 1911!

Jim. C.
South Gate, California

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Your “one gun for evacuation” question was interesting because basically it asks what would you pick if you could only have one gun that had to do everything. My first choice would have to be a FN-FAL Para carbine with folding stock and topped with a Leupold CQ/T scope. The CQ/T has 3X magnification for extended-range engagements plus 1X red dot aiming for close combat where the folding stock makes the carbine handy in tight places. The FN-FAL with standard 20-round magazine has proven combat capability while the ballistics of the .308 make it better suited as a hunting arm than either the 5.56mm or 7.62x39.

If I had a second vehicle (or allowed a second gun), I would choose a 12-gauge pump shotgun like the Mossberg 590 or Remington 870. With the proper choice of ammunition, the shotgun has good close-combat ability plus the ability to fill the cook pot with game. An extended magazine tube would be a must.

Curt A. Mueller
Helotes, Texas

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I have given your subject of one gun to take in a crisis a lot of thought — and rethinking and again, going over the what if’s! So, here goes:

My choice of one gun would be a Smith & Wesson Model 29. It would be legal in most states to own. Could kill our largest game animals as well as the human predators. Refer to books by the late Elmer Keith.

In lieu of a handgun, then a pump shotgun in 12 gauge — Mossberg works for me. Although, I would try to find room for my take-down recurve bow and at least a dozen arrows with various points (broadhead, target, blunt, and fishing).

Dave Peters

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I found your “Downrange” column in this month’s Gun Tests to be intriguing. As you invited, here are a few comments.

1. You mention one gun per car. Unless I’m completely delusional, I’ll bet you had at least three per car; and that the “one per car” is argumentative to stir debate.

2. I live in the Washington, D.C. area, and am a former Civil Defense volunteer. If the “poop hits the fan,” I have a well-stocked place up in the hills of West Virginia, about 100 miles out, to which all members of my “tribe” can report, and comfortably survive for an extended period of time.

3. Should the “balloon go up,” plans are very clear here. There would be three pieces involved, per vehicle. First and foremost would be a Remington 870 “Personal Defense” 18-inch-barrel 12-bore shotgun, backed by 100 rounds of Winchester/Federal #2 buck. Second would be an S&W M686 or Ruger GP100 in .357/.38, with 250 rounds of Remington Sabre 125-grain ammo and 20 round of CCI snake shot. Finally would come an S&W Model 63 or Ruger Single Six in .22 LR with a brick of CCI Mini-Mags and 20 to 30 rounds of snake shot. Note that all of the above are focused on absolute reliability. Contingency events are no time to remember if a particular piece has been lubed or not; or a gun is sighted in to a particular load or not.

Good for you for having raised this question.

Lou Knapp
Rockville, Maryland

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I would have no trouble choosing my Glock 21 .45 ACP with high-capacity magazines and Meprolite night sights. I have owned many autoloading defense pistols, and this is one of the very few that I have found to be utterly reliable, more than reasonably accurate, virtually indestructible, simple to operate, and simple to clean and maintain.

I understand the benefits some might find in choosing smaller, more concealable, arms, or full-size auto-loading rifles with 30-round magazines. But my opinion is the 21 presents a simply unbeatable combination of firepower and functionality. Faced with a Katrina-like evacuation, it would certainly be at my side.

Tom Williams

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I too, will take a .22 LR. It’s an old, generic, lightweight, tough and accurate, bolt-action single-shot rifle. The family Colts: a 1911; 1917; LW CDR and a tricked-out Officer, all .45 ACP, are cherished and shot regularly, but I’ll take my 23 Glock, when I have to git outta Dodge. And, I’ll wear it. Wife and teens share a 3-inch S&W M-13. Older sons, each, a 23 Glock and a folding AK-47 in their vehicle.

Two vehicles, big family, more options for supplies. The most important weapon: Focused and drug-free thought processes.

Joe Serna
Hyphenated-American
Arizona Desert

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I enjoy your magazine and have read it for several years. Thanks for the education.

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?”

Well, first off, one firearm per car is not sufficient. One for every person over the age of about twelve (taking maturity into account) is far better.

I am an historian by avocation and have noticed that every group of humans that has had to survive by force of firearms has been quite partial to the idea of long guns and handguns that fire the same ammunition. Hell, saddle tramps in the 1800s would trade almost a years pay to have a revolver and saddle rifle that shared ammunition. Rangers in WWII carried a 1911 and Thompson (or M-3). More recent Special Forces operators use the MP-5 and USP (or 92F).

Taking that lesson from history and other diverse bits of knowledge that I have picked up along the way, I’ve always looked at modern security firearms in much the same way, so the criteria is further boiled down to: Which handgun round makes a decent rifle round? I’ve settled on .40 S&W and .44 Magnum/Special. While the .44 Magnum makes a decent deer round, notice that I have no delusions about the availability of game for pot-hunting. My focus is on survival until society can be re-ordered and for the defense of the Constitution. Anything else is a pipedream. You had better pack some food with your firearms, or you’re in for a rude awakening. Once the round is selected, your choices are somewhat limited (that’s probably a good thing!).

My personal favorites (currently) are the combination of a Ruger P94DAO and a Ruger PC4 Carbine. Not only do they share ammunition but magazines as well. Both are rugged tools, and the DAO is good for my wife, who refuses to practice enough. I considered 9mm for a while (to get larger magazine capacity), but couldn’t reconcile the weakness of the round. My other favorite combination is the Marlin 1894 (stainless with 20-inch barrel) and Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 Magnum. Alternatively, I would consider a .40 S&W combination of a Glock 22 and Kel-Tec Sub-rifle. They also share magazines, and the Kel-tec has the added benefit of being easy to pack. (Though I don’t think the action is as reliable as the PC4).

I am also curious about the new carbine that Beretta has out. If it shares magazines with one of their pistols and is available in .40 S&W, it might be another viable choice.

Perhaps a Gun Tests article following this concept, the available choices, and, perhaps, a full test of various combinations would be a good idea.

Carleton Black
Seattle, Washington

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In a critical situation where self-defense becomes necessary, my choice would be the Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum with the 4-inch barrel. This would be loaded with the magnum load while in transit. In a congested area, the load would be changed to the .50 Caliber Special.

My wife prefers the Smith & Wesson Airweight .38. We both have Concealed Carry Permits.

Tom Hoey

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Not fair, Todd. Ultimately, you wind up taking two guns, you lucky rascal. OK. I load up the Tacoma and the Remington 870 combo gets the nod.

John Diehl
Washington, D.C.