The “5 Gun” Theory

There is a lot to be said about having the right tool for the job..for one, it makes your job easier and typically, faster to complete. You have to summarize the task at hand and deduce what tool would do the job the best. A surgeon for instance, needs a scalpel, not a machete, a lumberjack needs a chainsaw not a hedge trimmer. So the same goes for our personal armory. We need to be utilitarian in our approach to our Personal Defense Weapons (PDW), each one is a tool for a specific job. Now, I am not immune to collecting weapons for pure aesthetic or sentimental value, in fact I have several that would meet that criteria, but we are talking about our MODERN weapons that we use for Self-Defense, not the 1939 K-31 Schmidt and Rubin Carbine or your 7.62×25 Romanian Tokarev Pistol, both are very cool guns, but when something goes bump in the night, I do not grab these, I grab my Glock or my AK-47.

There is an old west adage that goes something like “Beware of the man who owns one gun, because he will know how to use it!” There is a lot of logic in that. Sometimes necessity dictated you either got proficient with what you had, or you died. As time marched on and the Industrial Revolution happened, we saw the gradual increase in the weapons a man owned. Typically, he had his pistol, his rifle and a shotgun. Fast forward to today and you have people who own 25 guns and are proficient with none of them because every time they go to shoot, they grab a different gun. The reason for this is these folks have not grasped the concept, guns are tools, not “play pretty’s”.

Enter the “5 Gun” Theory:

  1. Combat Handgun.
  2. Combat Semi-Automatic Assault Type Rifle
  3. Combat Shotgun
  4. Scoped .30 Caliber Semi-Automatic or Bolt Action Rifle
  5. .22 LR Rifle (Semi-Automatic preferred)

You will notice in most of these the word “Combat” is first, that is there to denote these are not hunting weapons, nor target weapons but weapons whose design is for defending yourself against 2 legged predators! However, Part of the 5 gun theory is utilitarian, so in a worst case disaster or survival scenario, you have a .30 Caliber or .22LR Rifle to hunt for meat.

Let’s break down the list:

1. Combat Handgun.

 The minimum qualifications for this weapon are: Semi Automatic with High Capacity Magazine, Minimum 9mm Caliber, Modern Combat Sights. Firstly, let me say I have nothing against wheel guns, but for the purposes of self-defense, I think we should grab hold of all the modern technology we can afford and logic dictates if I can have a gun with 17 rounds in it versus 6 rounds and it be lighter and more concealable to boot, I am going to go with the pistol all day long. I am not one of those to argue “stopping power” with calibers, but I have come to the conclusion after my many experiences,  if you are going to carry a pistol around with you, the minimum caliber for my “primary” weapon would be 9mm. Again, technology has grown by leaps and bounds in the development of self-defense ammunition, and there are some awesome rounds out there. Lastly, the gun should have sights that you can see, most of your modern weapons meet that standard. Go back 40 years and you will see what I mean, the sights were rudimentary and not easy on the eye.

2. Combat Semi-Automatic Civilian Defense Rifle

OK, now we are talking Assault “Type” Rifles. As a Civilian Operator, this is your mainstay. This is the weapon that is going to save your butt when the crap starts raining. The typical range for this weapon would be under 400 yards. Examples are: M4, Ak-47, FAL, G3, etc. Once again, the minimum qualifications:

  • Semi-Automatic, magazine fed, 20-30 rounds is standard.
  • Rifle or Intermediate Caliber (no pistol caliber) Examples are 5.56×45, 5.45×39, 7.62×39, .308.
  • Folding Stock
  • Sling

I really do not think any of these need to be explained. The folding stock is simply for ease of transport. There are some stocks out there that offer you the same stability as a fixed stock but fold down easily.


3. Combat Shotgun

Ahh, the old scattergun. This gun has come a LONG way in development in a short amount of time. The use however, has stayed constant. It is a SPECIALTY tool, meant to be used in certain situations where a “scatter” pattern of small projectiles would be beneficial. The misconception that a shotgun is versatile because it can fire birdshot, buckshot and slugs is absurd. Which out of all these do you think a shotgun is designed to do and excels at the best? “SCATTERGUN”..thus the name. If you truly need to use a slug, pick up your #2 just increased your odds of hitting your target and killing it by a factor of 10. Remember that thing we talked about that involved using the right tool for the job? As I have said before, when something goes bump in the night, and I don’t think my Glock can handle the threat, I typically pick up my AK..a shotgun is a poor choice for home defense IMO, simply because of the over penetration issues of buckshot, which is the only shotty load truly designed to kill human beings. When people try to get around this and use birdshot, well you just traded off a lethal load for a load designed to kill birds…not a good compromise. I want to KILL the intruder in my home or on my property, not make him feel bad for a while. So what is the purpose of the Shotgun? For me, if I could not get to a rifle for whatever reason or I had to arm a friend or spouse, I would use it when I Knew I had multiple attackers at short ranges OUTDOORS..if I were indoors and had friendlies in the home, I would go with a pistol or rifle. Like I said, it is a Specialty “Niche” Weapon–but it can come in handy.

4. Scoped .30 Caliber Bolt Action or Semi-Automatic “DM”  Rifle

The difference between this tool and the #2 rifle is this tool is designed to “Reach out and touch someone” out to say 600-700 yds. The DM is for “Designated Marksman”. There is a choice to be made to go either bolt-action or Semi Auto (an example of Semi-Auto is the FAL, G3, M1A, etc.) The reasoning most DM rifles you see are Semi-Auto is to have the ability to engage multiple targets and lay down a base of fire, it can be argued however, that you do give up some accuracy with a SA Platform over a finely tuned Bolt Action. My personal preference is to have a magazine fed Bolt Action for this type of work, this way you do not give up that much ammo capacity and your rate of fire can be good enough to engage multiple can be argued however in regards to tactics (depending on the mission and objective) of a Designated Marksman or Guerilla Sniper that it is not the smartest move to be sitting in one place for an extended period of time firing at multiple targets! So this is a tool that serves a big purpose in the Civilian Operator’s arsenal and demands practice to hone the skills of the rifleman.

 5.  Semi-Automatic .22LR Rifle

Call me nostalgic, (since this was one of the first serious guns I got when I was a kid)  but out of all the weapons I have listed, this is my favorite becasue of the memories I have with it. Most people would never think of a .22LR for a defense weapon, but go ask the IDF and Mossad and they can tell you the perks of this caliber!!

The up side to having one of these guns is many, here are a few:

  • Ammo is cheap, thus you will shoot more and practice your rifleman skills more. Plus, you can stockpile a ton of ammo for cheap.
  • Report is minimum, especially if you use subsonic ammo, this can have it’s advantages in built up areas.
  • If you choose a Semi-Auto Model, which I highly recommend, you can purchase high-capacity magazines (where they are legal) to give you a decent rate of fire.

This is one of those platforms that is a hybrid can defend yourself and in a survival or disaster situation, where you may want to preserve your center fire ammo, you can hunt with it. Now let me address those who say the .22LR is an “inadequate” caliber for self-defense or hunting; I will admit, it would not be my first choice for self-defense, that is not to say however, I could not kill somebody or a medium-sized animal with it if I had too..Two Words:  Shot Placement.


3 thoughts on “The “5 Gun” Theory

  1. Chad

    Thanks for the question and sorry for the delay in answering. To make it simple with the 5.45 and the x39, you gain in one round what you lose in another. With he 5.45, you gain flatter trajectory and a bit more accuracy, with the x39, you have a small .30 caliber that chews up cover, has enough combat accuracy to be efficient and has awesome killing power at average combat engagement distances (under 300 yds). I have written before about the nasty yaw of the 5.45 in soft targets. In fact, we used some 5.45 Hornady V-Max our last time outside the wire in A-Stan and it was nasty stuff. We also used x39 150gr Corbon Soft Points with great effect.
    Having said all that I choose x39 as my go to combat round. The ability to turn cover into swiss cheese is a great force multiplier in a firefight. It will punch thru just about any medium, while the 5.45, being a .22 caliber, can upset and often fragment in cover. I will be doing more articles on this subject in the coming months. Hope this reply helped!

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