Top 5 Categories of Guns You Need For SHTF

SHTF Guns: Top 5 For The Apocalypse

Are you just starting to put your personal arsenal together as part of your preparations for a major disaster or SHTF scenario?

If so, you’re reading the right article. 

Owning and learning how to use firearms is a critical component of preparing for SHTF. That’s because firearms are among the most useful tools on the planet, and in a true grid down scenario where law and order has failed and looters have taken to the streets, you never want to be unarmed or under armed. 

Not only is it important to own guns for SHTF, it’s also important to ensure that all of your bases are covered. That means you want to be extremely strategic about the categories of guns that you purchase. 

But if you don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Here are the top five categories of guns that you need for SHTF:

1. Semi-Automatic Pistol in 9mm Luger

Semi-Automatic Pistol in 9mm Luger

Arguably the most important firearm that you can own in an SHTF situation is a handgun.

This is for one very simple reason: a handgun can be concealed on your person and carried with you wherever you go. This is a major advantage that is usually not possible with a rifle or a shotgun. 

Whether you’re going on a shopping run into town, gardening in the backyard, making dinner in the kitchen, or going on a hike in the woods, you can always ensure you are armed when you carry a handgun. And by covering your handgun with a shirt or a jacket, you ensure that no one else will know you are armed, which is another major advantage. 

The defensive handgun you choose should meet the following qualifications at the bare minimum:

  • It must be reliable 
  • It must be chambered in a common caliber (ideally in 9mm)
  • It should ideally be a mid-sized pistol that’s big enough to fight with and small enough to conceal on you if necessary 

There are a countless number of pistols that meet the above criteria, but examples include (in alphabetical order) the Beretta APX, Canik TP9, Glock 19, HK VP9, SIG Sauer P320, Smith & Wesson M&P, Springfield XD, or the Walther PDP. 

Each of these pistols are fairly compact in size so they can be concealed adequately on your person, have a generous capacity in their magazines, are chambered for 9mm Luger (the most common pistol caliber there is), and are made by reputable manufacturers known for putting out quality. 

2. Semi-Automatic Rifle in .22 LR 

Semi-Automatic Rifle in .22 LR 

Every gun collection should have at least one .22 rifle in it. The .22 rifle is one of the most useful and yet underestimated types of firearms in existence. Most people who own guns have a .22 in their arsenal, and yet these same people are likely drastically underusing it too. 

There are many reasons why a .22 is a good weapon to have. The .22 round is very small and can be bought in bulk packs at very affordable prices compared to other calibers. You can store large quantities of the .22 without it taking up a significant amount of space. 

Another good use for the .22 is target practice to keep your shooting skills up. Since ammunition for the .22 is affordable, you can likely shoot it more often than other calibers as well. 

Furthermore, the .22 is one of the best small game hunting calibers in existence. It has more than enough power to drop most small game animals (such as squirrels or rabbits) or pests around the homestead. 

Ideally, look for a semi-automatic .22 rifle that is known for its reliability. Three prime examples include the Marlin Model 60, Ruger 10/22, and the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II. 

3. Pump Action Shotgun in 12 Gauge or 20 Gauge

Pump Action Shotgun in 12 Gauge or 20 Gauge

A shotgun is perhaps the most versatile firearm you can own. No, it can’t be concealed like a handgun can (at least not so easily), and no it can’t touch targets at long distances like a rifle. 

It’s when it comes to home defense and hunting that a shotgun will prove its immense worth to you. The reason why shotguns are so versatile is because of the ammunition they shoot.

There are three major types of shotgun ammunition:

  • Birdshot: good for small game hunting or bird hunting (or clay pigeon target shooting)
  • Buckshot: good for home and self-defense
  • Slugs: good for big game hunting within moderate distances 

With a shotgun, you have more than adequate protection for yourself and your family at home, and you also have the ability to put food on the table. 

The best type of shotgun you can own will either be a 12 gauge or 20 gauge pump action. Go with a pump action shotgun for two reasons: 1. They are usually more affordable than a semi-automatic, and 2. They’re usually more reliable than a semi-automatic as well. 

12 gauge and 20 gauge are both very common, and the one you choose should ultimately come down to what you’re comfortable with. 20 gauge will always generate less recoil so long as the shotgun itself is not made to be particularly lightweight. Both gauges are more than adequate for both hunting and defensive purposes as well. 

Examples of good pump action shotguns to look for include the Mossberg 500, Remington 870, or the Winchester SXP. With any of these models, you can buy both short and long barrels that can be easily interchanged. Use the short barrels for home defense and the longer barrels for hunting. 

4. Semi-Automatic Rifle in 5.56x45mm NATO/7.62x39mm 

Semi-Automatic Rifle in 5.56x45mm NATO7.62x39mm

The next rifle you’re going to want to add to your collection is a semi-automatic rifle of some kind with a detachable box magazine.

A semi-automatic rifle is one of the best firearms that you can use to defend yourself against multiple attackers. This is because of its fast firing capabilities, large magazine size, and ability to reload quickly. 

Furthermore, a semi-automatic rifle can be used to hunt most mid-sized game animals as well. The 5.56x45mm NATO caliber (nearly equivalent to the .223 Remington) can easily bring down deer, wild hogs, or pronghorn. It is, however, a bit light for larger game such as deer or elk or bear, but we’ll get to that in a second. 

Easily the best kind of semi-automatic rifle you can get is an AR-15. The reasons for this are simple:

  • AR-15s are chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO, which is one of the most common centerfire rifle rounds sold today 
  • Magazines for the AR-15 are made and sold in great abundance
  • The AR-15 is very ergonomic, reliable, and accurate
  • The AR-15 is among the most customizable guns ever made 

Reputable alternatives to the AR-15 include variants of the AK-47, IWI Tavor, Ruger Mini-14, or the Steyr AUG. 

Alternative: .30-30 Lever Action 

Alternative .30-30 Lever Action 

Take note that if you are unable to own a semi-automatic rifle due to the legal restrictions of your jurisdiction, arguably the next best option will be a lever-action rifle in .30-30 Winchester, which is another caliber that is usually widely available.

A lever action rifle doesn’t offer the same firing capabilities of a semi-automatic, but it does offer a faster rate of fire and a faster reloading time than a bolt-action rifle does. The .30-30 round can also bring down any type of game that the 5.56x45mm NATO can. 

Examples of good .30-30 lever rifles include the Henry 30-30, Marlin 336, and the Winchester 1894. 

5. Bolt-Action Rifle in .308 Winchester

Bolt-Action Rifle in .308 Winchester

The last type of firearm you’ll want to make sure you own is a good scoped bolt-action rifle that can bring down larger game animals and tap targets at longer distances. 

This is the rifle that you can use to bring down larger game such as elk on the table or, if necessary, to engage with enemy targets at long ranges. 

The ideal caliber to go with will be .308 Winchester, just because it’s usually affordable and also widely available. But additional excellent calibers that are worth taking a look at include the .270 Winchester, 6mm Creedmoor, .30-06 Springfield,  and the .300 Win Mag.

Which specific bolt action rifle should you go with? There are a nearly infinite number of good bolt-action rifles that the market has to offer, but examples include the Savage Axis, Howa 1500, Kimber Model 84, Mossberg Patriot, Remington 700, Ruger Model 700 Tikka T3, Weatherby Vanguard, and Winchester Model 70.

SHTF Guns Conclusion


If you recognize the importance of owning firearms for an SHTF situation but don’t know where to start, stick to guns under the above five categories to start. If you own at least one gun in each of these categories, your bases will be well covered when an SHTF disaster strikes. 


What is the Best Gun in an Apocalypse?

The AR-15 is often considered optimal in apocalyptic scenarios. Its versatility, ease of use, and adaptability to various configurations make it invaluable. The rifle is known for its reliability, accuracy, and compatibility with a wide range of ammunition and accessories, ensuring effective performance in diverse conditions.

What is the Most Reliable Gun for SHTF?

For “shit hits the fan” (SHTF) scenarios, the Glock 19 is a top contender. It combines reliability, durability, and simplicity of use. The pistol’s capacity for high-volume fire, ease of maintenance, and compatibility with various ammunition types underscores its preference in emergency and survival situations.

What is the Most Reliable Rifle for the Apocalypse?

The AK-47 is noted for its reliability in apocalyptic conditions. Known for its durability and ability to function in adverse environments, the AK-47’s simple design, ease of maintenance, and effective firing capability make it a preferred choice for ensuring personal safety and defense in extreme scenarios.

What is the Best Weapon in a Survival Situation?

In survival situations, a versatile, reliable, and easy-to-maintain firearm like the AR-15 is often recommended. Its modularity allows for customization to specific needs, and it provides a balance of accuracy and firepower. In survival scenarios, its performance, adaptability, and availability of parts and ammunition prove invaluable.

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