Yet another mass shooting has turned an unwelcome light upon civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles derived from military weaponry. These are usually erroneously called assault rifles, by the press, a misnomer that there seems little point in continuing to correct. The public has been made to see these as assault rifles, and has been convinced that they are evil and have no place in civilian hands. We can argue our points, and try to correct misrepresentations; but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, particularly where the law is concerned. You can’t fight city hall. A fight deterred is a fight won. This is where the idea of low profile weaponry comes into its own.
Ideally, we are looking for something that does not stand out or draw attention to itself, yet is still capable of providing sufficient firepower. So we do not want military derived guns, with bayonet lugs, flash hiders, aggressive looking assault style stocks, or military finishes. On the other end of the spectrum, we also do not want single shot rifles, bolt actions, or anything else with a slow rate of fire. We want something that fires a sufficiently powerful cartridge to get the job done. So a traditionally designed gun, with a good rate of fire and a respectable amount of power is needed.
Happily, this hardly limits our choices at all. They are:
This was the original assault gun. Created at a time when most guns fired a single shot, and many muzzle loaders were still around, the lever action gives a lone individual the capability of firing off as many as a dozen rounds as fast as the lever can be worked. Working the lever and firing fast was nicknamed, a frontier drum roll. The failure of the military to immediately adopt these guns was responsible for a number of slaughters. Ironically, at the battle of Little Big Horn, Custer’s men were armed with the standard single shot trap door rifle, while an estimated 200 lever action rifles were in the possession of the natives. This is thought to have made a major contribution to his defeat.
By modern standards, the classic lever action holds up quite well. As an example, see the table below. It can be seen that, compared to the AR-15, the modern copy of the old Winchester is better in almost every way. It is slightly smaller, slightly lighter, fires a more powerful cartridge, and nearly matches the rate of fire.
|AR-15||Winchester (Marlin) 92|
|Weight||6 pounds, 4 ounces||5 pounds, 14 ounces|
|Rate of fire||150 per minute (semi)||12 per minute|
|Energy||1308 fp||1630 fp|
Disadvantages are that a lever is slower to reload, when reloading becomes necessary, it has a somewhat lower rate of fire (though it still fires pretty quickly), and as a general rule is not as accurate as a good semi-auto, though this is a matter of debate. Considerable as it is, the 10 round magazine capacity is not equal to the twenty or thirty round magazine capacity available for the AR-15.
Still, the point here is that the classic lever action is plenty good enough, considerably less expensive, and far less likely to be banned, restricted, or require licensing than a modern military style semi-auto. These are considered hunting arms, rather than military pieces, and will not draw undue attention when being carried in the woods, or wherever else.
Maligned, ignored, or seen as a specialty gun, the pump is faster than you think. It is surprisingly, one of the more popular deer rifles, and is useful in places where using a semi-auto for hunting is illegal. Like the semi auto, it does not require you to remove your attention from the sighting plane. This is the most popular action style for shotguns, but was somehow never embraced to the same extent in rifles. The only major manufacturer of this action type in a useful caliber is Remington. In its various guises as the model 760, 762, 7600, and model 6, there have been something like a million and a half of these rifles produced, and they are still in limited production today.
This is basically a semi auto rifle with the slide working action bars to cycle the bolt. In the semi auto version (the model 740, 742, 7400, or model 4), a gas piston does the job. The guns are target accurate, and made the news shortly after their introduction when a US shooting team used them to place first in a competition in Norway. I have always been able to get all of my shots into a single hole at 100 yards, which is plenty good enough for defense.
The pump compares well to my benchmark AR-15 in a comparison table below. The pump is slightly longer, and a bit heavier, but fires an overwhelmingly more powerful cartridge. Rate of fire is nearly the same, and with a box magazine, reload is just as fast.
|Weight||6 pounds, 4 ounces||7 pounds, 8 ounces|
|Rate of fire||150 per minute (semi)||20 per minute (estimated)|
|Magazine||20 (30)||4 (10)|
|Energy||1308 fp||3000 fp|
Where the AR-15 beats the pump is in its larger capacity magazine, though for a rifle, I still think 10 shots is plenty. Additionally, the AR-15 is three inches shorter and a pound lighter. At distance, the pump’s 30-06 will completely outclass the .223 of the AR-15. Closer in, the higher magazine capacity of the AR-15 gives it an advantage. Most important, for the purposes of this article, the pump Is not nearly as threatening, does not have the assault rifle stigma, and is less likely to be restricted, banned, or scrutinized.
If you must have a semi auto, get one that does not shout assault rifle. I admit to owning several AR-15’s, an HK-91, a pair of Calicos, an M1A, a Thompson, and a few other high profile firearms. I rarely leave the house with them. They are high profile weapons. If we ever lose control of the government to the extent that weapons bans go into effect, these are the first guns that will be confiscated, taxed, or tracked.
When I want to shoot semi- auto, I take my Marlin Camp Gun. Marlin made these in two versions, one that took standard M1911 .45 magazines, and the other that took standard S&W 9mm magazines. These are wonderful guns, sadly out of production, that are traditionally designed, easy to shoot, and look a bit like junior’s grown up 22 rifle. They are not threatening, and are unlikely to draw any unwelcome attention.
When compared to the classic AR-15, the camp gun is about the same size and weight, with the same rate of fire, and approximately the same magazine capacity. Both have box magazines for fast reloading. The AR-15 has a significant advantage in cartridge power, but the advantage is less applicable close in. While these guns are no longer made, they can still be found for far less money than what an AR-15 will cost. They also have the advantage of taking standard, cheap, available magazines. Ruger made something similar with its Police Carbine line, also discontinued.
|Weight||6 pounds, 4 ounces||6 pounds, 7 ounces|
|Rate of fire||150 per minute (semi)||110 per minute (estimated)|
|Magazine||20 (30)||15 (25)|
|Energy||1308 fp||608 fp|
Browning and Remington, have both been making traditionally styled semi auto hunting rifles for decades. The Browning BAR, and Remington 740, 742, 7400, and Model Four series have been taking deer, elk, and dangerous game for almost a hundred years. Both are semi-automatic, both have removable box magazines, and both are reasonably light and handy. The BAR is quite expensive, but the Remington is no more costly than a decent bolt action rifle. These rifles take full sized cartridges, and can even be chambered for magnum rifle rounds. They are probably better for the individual survivor than a military assault style rifle.
A weapon that is confiscated will do you no good when things go bad. An illegal weapon that gets you tossed in jail will subject you to your own personal SHTF. Neither will enhance your survival. Someday SHTF will happen. It may occur within our lifetimes, and it may not; but it will happen. No civilization lasts forever. In the meantime, the rifles listed above are legal most places, unlikely to cause you any grief with the local authorities, and will serve you will in a SHTF situation.
Stay low, stay out of trouble, and survive.