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Kentucky Bob

A Beginner's Guide to Firearms For Survival, Hunting and Defense

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Long Live the People's Republic of Kahleefornya. You know, I've noticed a few things about this state since Arnold became our Governator:



Marraige between man and woman - TERMINATED

Off-Highway Vehicle trails - TERMINATED

2-cycle engines (motorcycles included) - TERMINATED


Tight Border Control - TERMINATED




I'm just posting this temporarily in response to my current foul mood of our State, I'll delete it later tonight as not to get this topic off on a tangent......


Too late! :D


Have you been to Hollister Hills? 


Back on topic, I guess what I was getting at with my above post, is that we should understand our state and local gov's regulations on firearms, prior to using them in given areas.

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Guest blacksmith

it is the same up here just takes longer and we fight a bet over things

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Many states require an orange tip to be on air rifles... California (aka "PRK") being one of them.

There are also state laws on being able to carry a concealed weopon that require a CCW permit and special requirements for transporting/shipping your weopons.... (such as from your home to the gun range). If you have children in your vehicle and transporting a weopon, there are rules for that as well.



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RA, you and the others have brought up a good point.  You had better know of local laws and ordinances in effect where you live.  There is simply no way for us to list every law on the books in this country, but I will provide a link to the NRA's guide to state laws.  You just click on your state to get a "quick reference" guide to state laws.  Now, this will not include any local ordinances, so don't think that the laws you will see listed are entirely complete.




You also need to be wary of inadvertently breaking the law if you are traveling with a firearm.  This is a link to the "Traveler's Guide to the Firearms Laws of the Fifty States" :



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Many states require an orange tip to be on air rifles... California (aka "PRK") being one of them.


The orange tip on the barrel, surrounding the muzzle would apply to airsoft only.  The airsoft pistols and rifles are so life like, that the police have drawn down on and in some cases, shot kids carrying them, which is why the bright color on the toy.  The BB and Pellet rifles and pistols do not require the orange on the barrel, which is also an indication that both the BB and Pellet guns are considered real firearms.

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The laws are a good point when it comes to owning and carrying a firearm. Firearms have to be in a fully closed gun case here in Illinois or broken down to make them unable to fire quickly. A few years ago they passed a law that an uncased firearm was a felony. We called the DNR and they said the law was enacted for inner city gangs and if you were obviously out hunting they were going to write it as a misdemeanor. We hope.  :scared: 


Illinois has the distinction of requireing any one owning a fire are to have a gun permit and if you have a felony or been involved in domestic violence they will not issue a permit. It has been a common practice to take your gun permit and confiscate all the guns in your house.  :reallymad:

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Knowing your local regulations is paramount to owning a firearm in any state. :S


In Montana, You may not have a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, and you may not put a silencer,(device to quiet the report of a discharged weapon, inappropriately named as it is more of a baffler, it does not contain the sonic boom from a bullet traveling higher than the speed of sound), and you may not carry a concelled weapon without a Concealed Carry permit.


You can carry a weapon as long as it is not concealed, such as in a belt holster, but not into schools, banks or federal buildings that have posted signs not allowing a weapon on the premises.

Many of our convenience stores also post limits on wearing your firearm inside the store.


We may also own fully automatic weapons as long as they are registered.


That is about it, except some towns do not allow the weapon to be loaded in city limits. :thumbdown:


That is about it. (Yes there are people here who wear pistols or carry rifles all the time, not just the cops  :thumbsup:)


That is one thing I have heard from law enforcement here, when they pull someone over for a stop, the fact that that individual is armed is a given. In fact, it is far more uncommon to find someone that is not armed, or at least has something in the car or shop, or office for that matter.

usually a new transplant 8|


And before you ask, our crime rate is VERY low :thumbsup:


I would like to address Swede's earlier question about how to choose a weapon.


1) What do you plan to do with it? Hunt, Self Defense, survival, or perhaps target or plinking. The answer to this question can help decide if you want a rifle, shotgun or handgun. It will also help determine caliber.


2) What is your tolerance to recoil? Recoil or Kick can turn a fine weapon into an ordeal to shoot. It can cause bad habits like flinching or jerking to show up and destroy accuracy. With the wide range of calibers and loads available, finding a weapon that is fun to fire will be a lifelong investment and pleasure. Finding one that hurts to fire can cause someone to sell the weapon and never wish to use it again.


3) Find your draw length. While this term is usually used with archery, it also figures with fitting rifles and shotguns. The length is between your shoulder and the trigger. Most modern rifles are set up with a 16 inch draw, but youth and women's models are normally 14 1/2 inches. It should fit you well in proper firing position so the recoil is distributed evenly. If the draw is too long, you are pulled to the side and the recoil is consentrated, making it feel worse.


There are a multitude of calibers, models, weights and quality features out there. For a beginner, A pellet rifle works well for teaching stance and firing. You can learn how to steady the rifle, aim, breathe properly and squeeze the trigger. As there is no recoil or report you can get comfortable with this enjoyable weapon for pennies as BBs and pellets are cheap.


Move up to a 22 rimfire. No recoil, minimal report, cheap to fire, and a blast to fire! :hugegrin: A pop can has no chance against you.


From there it is easy to move up to more serious calibers depending on what you need the weapon for. If hunting Cape Buffalo or Alaskan Grizzly, I would prefer something in the .458 magnum range  :thumbup: I wouldn't reccomend this caliber for beginners, happy097.gif


For self defense, very few weapons work as well as a riot gun, a short barreled pump action shotgun that may come with a pistol grip. Very short range, but you can fire rapidly and put a wall of lead between you and your attacker.


Pistols are great, I enjoy shooting mine a lot, but a pistol requires the most practice to be proficient, and keep your skills. The calibers are wide ranging, some may be fine for small and medium game hunting up to deer size at moderate distances of 50 yards or so.

They are convenient, quick, and a lot of fun. However, pistols labor under the most oppressive laws, and require more work to use effectively than a rifle or shotgun. wacky078.gif


Keep up the great work guys, this is a fascinating thread! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:




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Ok, let's look at bullet types.  Often when reading firearms-related articles you'll see things like:  FMJ, JHP, SJHP, SP, BT...etc etc!  There are many types and styles of bullets, many of which are industry-standards, some are proprietary.  Power Point, Silvertip, HydraShok...these are all examples of proprietary names from companies that own the designs. 


Armor-piercing:  (AP) Ammunition developed for the military, usually with some sort of steel core inside the bullet designed to penetrate light steel or body armor.  Now commonly available to civilians as surplus ammo for cheaper practice.  Another type is API--armor-piercing incendiary, which has an additional charge of phosphorous or other material to ignite the target.  NOT generally available to civilians, and not to be confused with a "tracer" round.



1. Jacket  2. Lead core  3. Steel core/penetrator



Full metal jacket: (FMJ)  A bullet with a copper shell completely covering the bullet, usually with the rear of the bullet exposed.  Some brands completely encase the entire bullet with copper to prevent lead contamination of the environment.  This bullet type is one of the most common used for practice, and is mandated by international treaty for use by the military. 



1. Jacket  2. Lead core




Jacketed Soft-point:  (JSP)  This bullet was developed to expand when striking its target, especially for hunting.  The softer exposed lead tip causes the bullet to expand--or "mushroom"--causing more tissue damage than a FMJ.  This type can be found in both rifle and handgun ammunition.



1. Jacket 2. Lead core/tip




Jacketed Hollow Point:  This is another semi-jacketed design like the JSP designed to expand upon contact with the target, and can be found in both rifle and handgun ammo (sometimes even in shotgun slugs).  Commonly used for defensive handguns and for hunting purposes.  Federal's Hydra Shok, Remington's Golden Saber, Winchester's SXT and others are proprietary names for different styles of hollow point bullets, often altered to enhance performance.



1. Jacket  2. Lead core  3.  Hollow cavity



Lead Wad Cutter:  (LWC)  An all-lead bullet for target shooting, with a flat nose designed to "cut" a nearly perfect hole in a paper target.  Mostly used in revolvers, only a few semi-autos were designed to handle the bullet profile.




Lead Semi-Wad Cutter:  (LSWC)  A type of wad cutter, with improved ballistic performance.  Some designs of LSWC are used in hunting applications, again mostly used in revolvers. 




Lead Round Nose: (LRN)  An all-lead bullet with a rounded front profile, one of the oldest designs around.  Now mostly used as a cheap target bullet, it once was the most commonly used bullet for hunting and defense.





There are a number of other designs and variations, especially in rifle ammunition.  I will cover things like boat-tails, spire-points, and spitzers in the next post.










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Would I use a 30-06 to hunt squirrels? What determines what gun to use for the game your hunting?

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Would I use a 30-06 to hunt squirrels?


Well....,as a general rule NO, as it's a bit overpowered for squirrels, however...,  I have seen my dad leave to go deer hunting taking only his Marlin lever action .35 and come back with a half dozen headless squirrels. In his words "If I hit the squirrel in the head I get a pretty good squirrel...., if I hit it in the body then I get a pretty good head..., but there is a lot less meat with the head" . Anyone else here ever eaten squirrels brains? It's pretty good when your really hungry, it's best if you have the whole squirrel then you just leave the head on the body when you skin it, then put the heads on a cookie sheet and bake them, and then when you eat them you just crack them sort of like a walnut...., sorry Dave.


What determines what gun to use for the game your hunting?


What guns you have at the time you go hunting..., oh..., and the local laws unless you are REALLY hungry.

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Good post, Mistwalker.  Sometimes you have to use what you've got.  There are more different types of rimfire and centerfire cartridges and firearms for them than we can reasonably hope to list.  When it comes to survival you may have to make do with a firearm that isn't ideally suited for your immediate need.  If the only firearm you have with you is a .30-06 and you have to have meat, you'll need to decide if you want to take a squirrel with it.  Yes, it's overly powerful for a squirrel, rabbit, or game bird but you have to survive.  Do you only have a .22LR rifle and you see a big fat doe standing nearby?  You have to make the decision "Is it reasonable to attempt to take this deer with a .22 rifle?


I think that most here will agree with me that the firearm you have with you--like any other survival gear you have--will matter less than your skill with that firearm.  Can you reasonably expect to hit the deer in the brain with a .22 with your level of expertise?  Can you shoot well enough with a .30-06 to hit a target the size of a squirrel's head?  Your ability to shoot well when it matters will be much more important than the firearm you have with you at that time.  You will also have to decide, "Am I willing to take a chance that I will only wound this deer with a .22 rifle?


We had a discussion some time back about what firearm we thought was the best all-around survival firearm.  There were nearly as many different answers as there were members posting.  What is the best?  There is no 100% correct answer to that question.  For me it might be a 12 gauge pump shotgun, for someone else it might be a .22 rifle.  It comes down to "what works best for you?"  In a purely legal hunting situation, each state regulates the types of firearms allowed for hunting different game.  In some states you are allowed to hunt turkey with a rifle, but not others.  In some you can only deer hunt with a shotgun loaded with buckshot.  In a survival situation, I would wager that none of us would be as concerned about the legal aspects of hunting with any firearm we can scrounge.  Are you willing to face a fine, a jail sentence, and/or confiscation of your firearm?  If you are cold and starving, I'm sure you would be.


Swede asked a great question (and if I'm correct I believe he was leading one of us to broach the topic  ;) ).  So, if I intend to hunt only small game in a non-survival situation would I use a .30-06?  No, I wouldn't.  Given a choice I would take a .22 rifle for squirrels and rabbits, or possibly a shotgun. The new .17 caliber rimfires and the .22 magnum would also be good small game-getters.  As for a shotgun I kind of dislike biting into a piece of meat and having my teeth rebound off of a pellet, but if you hunt with a shotgun it's something to keep in mind. 


As all the old-timers here know, most companies make different loads for shotguns intended for different uses.  Shotgun shells are usually loaded with shot--small pellets.  Shot sizes are kind of like shotgun gauges:  The smaller the # of the shot size, the bigger the pellet is.  A #9 shot is smaller than a #6.  Of course, you can also buy different types of slugs, a solid projectile of lead or copper.  Slugs are generally used for medium to large game animals.


Some common shot sizes are:

BBB .190" (4.83mm)

BB .180" (4.57mm)

1 .160" (4.06mm)

2 .150" (3.81mm)

3 .140" (3.56mm)

4 .130" (3.30mm)

5 .120" (3.05mm)

6 .110" (2.79mm)

7 1/2 .100" (2.41mm)

8 .090" (.2.29mm)

8 1/2 .085" (2.16mm)

9 .080" (2.03mm)


Recommendations that I make here are sort of generalized, and of course some will possibly disagree. 


Target Shooting Games (lead shot)


16 yard Trap - 8, 8 1/2

Handicap Trap - 7 1/2, 8

Skeet - 9

Sporting Clays - 7 1/2, 8, 8 1/2


Upland Game (lead, tungsten alloy shot)


Turkey - 4, 5, 6

Pheasant - 5

Chukkar, Grouse, and Partridge - 6, 7 1/2

Quail - 7 1/2, 8

Dove - 7 1/2

Rail, Snipe and Woodcock - 7 1/2, 8

Rabbit - 6, 7 1/2

Squirrel - 6


Waterfowl (steel shot)

Geese - BBB, BB, 1

Ducks (over decoys) - 2, 3, 4

Ducks (pass shooting) - BB, 1, 2


Waterfowl (tungsten alloy shot, Hevi-shot)

Geese - BB, 2

Ducks (over decoys) - 4, 5, 6

Ducks (pass shooting) - 2, 4


Buckshot is a load with larger pellets used for larger game and defense.  As with the smaller shot the bigger # equals smaller shot, which are each measured:


000 Buck - 8 lead pellets (0.36") 

00 Buck - 9 lead pellets (0.33")   

0 Buck  - 12 lead pellets (0.32") 

1 Buck - 16 lead pellets (0.30") 

4 Buck - 27 lead pellets (0.24") 


These, again, are general uses for different shot sizes.  In addition to the shot sizes, there are also different "Dram Weight" or "Dram Equivalent" loadings, measuring the powder charge (and sometimes you'll hear some of us old-timers saying "high brass" or "low brass").  Dram weight is the old measurement from the time shotshells were loaded with blackpowder.  A shell with a light charge may read 2 3/4 Dram Equivalent while long range waterfowl loads may read 3 3/4 Dram Equivalent.  A higher dram equivalent means a heavier powder charge and higher velocity load going downrange.


We'll need to start another post and discuss types of game animals and what types of cartridges might be best to hunt each with.  Again, it's the sort of thing where I could ask "What's the best for deer?" and get a dozen or more different answers.  In the next post I will try to put together some lists of different game animals and calibers for them.  Any input anyone else would like to make is always welcome, and if someone has something to add that I might have missed so far, please jump in.




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Good posts everybody!  :thumbsup:


Swede asked a very pertinent question that seems to have been glossed over.


"What is the difference between a hunting/survival weapon and one used for self defense" or words to that effect.


The answer of use what you have, is correct, however, if you are buying a weapon for the primary reason of self defense, there are certain criteria to take into account.


1) Skill level. Much depends on how familiar you are with a weapon. Example: last fall a Montana Fish and Game warden was hunting with a 300 Short mag. He had spent a lot of time on the range and hunting with this weapon. Most wardens are pretty proficient with firearms. However, when he was attacked by a grizzly, he fired from the hip at about 15 - 20 feet, and missed! 8|

Luckilly the muzzle blast at that range was enough to change the bears mind.

Moral of the story is: anyone can miss, especially in a high stress situation. I just read an article from this year where a 62 year old man killed a grizzly that was mauling his son at 30 yards with an arrow from his compound bow.

How proficient are you with your chosen weapon?

A rifle has superior accuracy at long range. A pistol has good accuracy at close range. A shotgun throws a pattern of shot and is lethal out to about 50 yards.


2) What do you need protection from? If you are out in the boonies and stand a good chance of upsetting Mr. Griz, If you can accurately shoot a 600 nitro express, and want to carry the weight, I would say go for it! :thumbup:

However, we have a lot of folks go into the backcountry with a heavy pistol, (Hand cannon) and claim they are a match for any bear. Or we have folks who are seriously undergunned with for instance a 9mm and think they are also a fair match for a bear. Actually, I like to go out with these guys because as the bear is eating them I can beat feet out of there!! :bandit:


3) Will you be using the weapon in an urban or suburban environment?

One thing that is often overlooked when choosing a weapon for home protection is where will the bullet end up? A bullet from a moderate caliber like the 9mm can penetrate an attacker, then a wall, then your neighbors wall, and perhaps your neighbor! :thumbdown:

That may or may not be a good thing, however, you can be held liable for what happens to that round. Police use seriously underloaded cartridges to limit this problem. A rifle bullet may penetrate several walls, and a couple more people, and maybe a car before stopping.


My best advise for choosing a weapon for a specific purpose boil down to: what is the primary purpose? Self Defense or hunting?

How well can you handle it? Most people can't walk out to a range and hit the bullseye every time, then add the stress of a life or death situation, or a bear charging you, then see how often you can hit the bullseye every time! :smoke:


Finally, if the weapon is for home defense, there is one clear choice. A pump action shotgun. Simple point and click interface, you don't have to aim closely, multiple shots, the pellets won't penetrate several walls and endanger others, and very few sounds will make an intruder do something in his pants quicker than the sound of a round being racked into a shotgun oops.gif


Even for heavy attackers like grizzly, load with alternating rounds of buckshot and slugs. You can literally put a wall of lead between you and your attacker. :box:


A 12 gage is ideal, a 16 or 20 is easier for a light person or woman to handle. You don't have to spend a lot of money for a workable shotgun, the ammunition isn't expensive, you don't have to hit the range every weekend to use it, and if you decide you want to, a 12 gage can be used as a hunting weapon as well. Loads are available for birds, small game, and even deer sized game.


If you were only going to have 1 weapon for self defense and hunting, get a good shotgun! :thumbsup:

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Thanks Mtwolfsbane thats what I was looking for. I posted some where that a 12 gauge shotgun with 3 inch buck shot loads can stop a charging lion. Good job my friend.  :thumbup:

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If I decide to beef up my home defenses what type of firearm should I chose and how much ammunition should I buy? 

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If I decide to beef up my home defenses what type of firearm should I chose and how much ammunition should I buy? 



Depends on how many "dogs" get loose.... happy097.gif

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See the above post on pump shotguns :whistle:

Oh thats right. I havent decided just how much ammo a guy should keep on hand.

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