SHTF AR-15 rifle

First-Time Gun Buyer’s Guide, Fall 2020 Edition: NOW What Should I Buy?

Rumor has it that “may you live in interesting times” is an old Chinese curse, and these are undoubtedly attention-grabbing occasions. Between the civil unrest at the moment taking place in numerous components of the United States, the pandemic-inspired financial issues, and political polarization he likes we’ve got by no means seen on this nation, there’s extra cause than ever to be sure that your are in a position to shield your self and your loved ones.

That’s why greater than five million people have grow to be first-time gun house owners. i’ve misplaced depend of the quantity of people that have reached out to me lately asking about shopping for their first firearm, and somewhat than copy and pasting the identical factor again and again I figured this is likely to be a helpful information for many who are nonetheless available in the market.

First and foremost…

You Are a Little Late to the Game

Let’s acknowledge one thing up entrance: in case you are trying to purchase a firearm proper now, you most likely aren’t going to have the ability to get precisely what you need. Or pay an affordable sum of money to get it.

gun store pistol handgun counter


I used to be speaking with TTAG alum Tyler Kee this week, and we had been marveling that that is the second or third time in our lives we’ve gone by way of an enormous panic buying spree adopted by widespread shortages. And as such, I believe we’ve got a reasonably good concept of what’s taking place and the way issues are going to play out within the brief time period by way of firearms.

In a traditional world any one of many variety of crises which have occurred this yr would have disrupted the firearms market, however it looks like, in 2020, they simply hold coming, one after one other, compounding an already dire scenario.

When the pandemic kicked off in earnest again in late February, issues had been typically OK. Being an election yr there was already a naturally became greater degree of firearms buying happening, however we didn’t actually anticipate that to peak till later within the yr.

When nationwide lockdowns had been introduced and the true extent of the pandemic was realized, there was a small run on ammunition and firearms that began to empty out the distribution channels that feed the gun shops within the nation.

It was about that point that I positioned my last few orders that I had been holding off on to complete off my “SHTF rifle” that’s the lead picture on this article. I checked my ammunition shares, made positive I used to be snug not needing to purchase extra ammo by way of the top of the election season, and settled in to hunker down and maintain on to what i’ve.

And then the George Floyd protests began, and rapidly turned violent in some components of the nation. The already strained distribution channels had been fully emptied due to panic shopping for related to the violence Americans had been seeing. I keep in mind strolling right into a somewhat massive gun vary right here in Austin again in June. The cabinets had been already naked, not a single AR-15 was to be discovered, and there was hardly any 5.56 ammunition to feed them.

Things haven’t gotten significantly better since then. Pretty much each week some new disaster comes alongside that pushes extra folks in the direction of the decision to buy a gun, and in consequence actually the second new inventory turns into out there it’s just about immediately snatched up by extraordinarily motivated consumers.

The downside is there’s no slack within the system proper now. Gun corporations are months behind in orders which have already purchased and paid for. Buying a gun is not a variety course of. In many instances, you might be leaping on the very first thing that you’ll find that form of meets your necessities. The “right time” to purchase a gun was January. It’s now too late for rational pricing and it is advisable come to phrases with the monetary affect that may have on what you purchase.

What Gun Do You Need?

Let’s skip previous the “do you really need a gun?” query. If you might be studying this, you might have already made that call. The query now could be what sort of gun you want.

I’ve seen numerous suggestions {that a} pump motion shotgun is rally what you want. Heck, even ol’ Joe Biden is on board that train. But there’s an issue.

At one time I used to be a nationally ranked 3-gun competitor, a sport that makes use of a number of sorts of firearms in excessive stress environments. Just about everybody will let you know that the shotgun sections of these competitions are the toughest components. The problem there isn’t essentially hitting the goal, it’s maintaining the gun loaded.

Remington 870 DM Magpul

Remington 870 DM Magpul (courtesy Dan Abraham)

Shotguns have a notoriously low capability for ammunition. Even the larger guns with extended magazines can solely load eight to 10 rounds at a time, that means that an engagement of any cheap size would require some reloading.

Typically you might have solely 5 rounds available at a time. That is likely to be OK if it is advisable dissuade a single house invader, however can rapidly grow to be inadequate for looters or in different civil unrest conditions. And reloading that firearm beneath stress is an actual problem for a more moderen firearm proprietor.

Beyond that issue, simply utilizing them successfully generally is a problem. Pump motion shotguns are often the primary suggestion you hear, which is sensible as they’re low-cost and plentiful. But they require some ability to make use of virtually.

Mossberg 930 Tactical shotgun

Chris Dumm for TTAG

The shooter must manually pump the shotgun after each spherical to chamber a brand new one, and there’s a reliable threat of “short-stroking” the shotgun. That’s when the shooter doesn’t fully cycle the pump and a stay spherical received’t be loaded.

I take into account myself a fairly competent shooter (see: earlier article what place I wiped the ground with each different journalist on the scene) and that I’ve short-stroked pump shotguns infrequently. If I can’t do it proper each time, a brand new shooter in a excessive stress surroundings might be going to have bother.

Finally, let’s discuss accuracy actually rapidly. Buckshot is the everyday suggestion for private protection. That offers you a number of projectiles which can be roughly the equal of a handful of 9mm rounds. Assuming you hit your goal square-on and each spherical strikes the goal, that may trigger a devastating quantity of harm immediately.

But what for those who miss? Or what if not all your pellets hit the goal? That’s lots of lead that’s now flying round towards potential unintended targets; relations, bystanders, you title it. And keep in mind, partitions don’t essentially cease bullets or OO buck. They can journey for fairly a ways, placing even your neighbors in danger.

So, shotguns are off the desk. Next up on the record is often a handgun of some kind.

This is much less of a nasty concept. Handguns are concealable and strong (sufficient), that means that they’re super helpful in shut quarters environments or conditions what place you don’t essentially wish to promote that you simply’re armed. But whereas they’re undoubtedly formidable weapons, they take some ability to make use of, too.

Springfield Armory 1911 TRP 10mm

Dan Thurs for TTAG

Hours on the vary and extra hours of dry fireplace observe are required to be correct with a handgun. That’s not one thing that’s simple (or nonetheless authorized in some jurisdictions, relying on COVID-19 restrictions) to perform in the course of a pandemic. Especially with the present lack of handgun ammunition for folks to observe with.

Which leaves us with rifles.

Bottom Line: Get an AR-15

There’s a rattling good cause why the AR-15 is the most popular firearm within the United States. Endlessly configurable, simple to keep up, dependable, and correct, it’s the right trendy weapon. And even for those who can’t get your hands on the “perfect” AR-15, you may at all times begin with no matter is obtainable and improve it, piece by piece, as issues come again in inventory. Which they’re practically assured to do — with so many of those weapons in public hands, there’s little question that individuals might be cranking out suitable components for many years to come back.

Brace Built Modern Carbine MC6 AR-15 rifle


In phrases of usability, it additionally supplies the right steadiness. An AR is sufficient that you may comfortably wield it with two hands (making it naturally extra correct), however brief sufficient to be considerably concealable and nimble. It’s strong sufficient to stop most threats whereas having a lightweight sufficient recoil that even new shooters can simply management it.

And with a big sufficient magazine (your mileage might range relying on your jurisdiction) that you may doubtlessly have interaction a number of targets if wanted.

Courtesy OKAY Industries

There are two different the reason why this makes probably the most sense, and each must do with availability. But in very totally different contexts.

First, as a result of there are such a lot of ARs on the market, it’s cheap to suppose that you’ll find at the least one out there on the market, new or used. And upon getting one, maintaining it maintained might be much simpler than for those who purchase a extra area of interest firearm. Standard components and cleansing kits, that are extensively out there, make this much simpler.

Ammunition is a problem, however ought to be comparatively simpler to seek out. Most AR-15 rifles use .223 Remington, 5.56 NATO or some suitable variant thereof. That stuff is cranked out in such astounding numbers yearly that you may most likely anticipate finding some sooner or later sooner or later. Keep your eye open on-line. You should pay extra now, however it is out there.

That’s one of the best case situation, and we aren’t in a finest case situation. Things are trending considerably downward lately, and the AR-15 supplies some possibilities there as effectively.

Having a firearm that’s a part of such a widely-owned platform signifies that you’ll be capable of share components, ammo, experience between a small group of like-minded people. From magazines to ammunition, parts and accessories, for those who standardize on one platform (one which occurs to be the most well-liked platform within the United States) there’s a greater likelihood of with the ability to assist one another out.

Even in case you are by yourself, then it’s more likely that if the S really H’s the F then you definitely’ll be extra more likely to scavenge and scrounge issues that suit your weapon platform. Most police forces within the United States, in addition to the army, use AR-15 suitable weapons. To Sergeant Major Basil Plumley’s point within the film We Were Soldiers, if issues get unhealthy there might be loads of them mendacity round to make use of.

OK, an AR-15…But How?

I began off saying that individuals trying to purchase a brand new firearm are late to the celebration, and that’s not fallacious. Options are restricted. But there are nonetheless choices on the market.

Gun shops are most likely going to be your least doubtless place to truly discover any weapons, particularly in massive city areas. The distribution channels are fully dry, and since gun shops are the final link in that chain, new inventory will solely are available dribs and drabs. Most weapons are spoken for earlier than they arrive at most retailers.

If you actually desire a bolt motion looking rifle in an obscure caliber now could be the time, however in any other case you might be most likely out of luck.

That mentioned, there are some on-line retailers that also have full rifles in inventory. I’m not going to play any favorites on this article, however I’m positive that there might be loads of strategies within the feedback. They come they usually go by way of availability, so maintaining a watch out and checking again commonly will be sure that you’ll be able to discover one when it turns into out there.

spartan arms

Empty cabinets after the gun rush at Spartan Arms in Las Vegas (courtesy Spartan Arms)

Keep in thoughts that purchasing weapons on-line means that you’ll want to have it shipped to a neighborhood gun retailer for the requisite paperwork and background verify, so concentrate on that requirement and scout out a pleasant native gun store earlier than you order. You might want to pay them for the background verify as effectively.

For full firearms, your final resort ought to be on-line bidding sale sites and native commerce/swap sites. I’ve seen some horrendously overpriced rusted out pipes on the market on these sites lately, with respectable AR-15 rifles going for thee occasions the pre-panic charge.

You might be gouged, you’re going to get right into a bidding conflict, and it’s possible you’ll be annoyed with the method. If you get to the purpose what place you might be contemplating that plan of action, you may wish to strive one factor first.

Last Option: Build Your Own

While full rifles have largely been offered out for months, components kits are nonetheless considerably out there (although once more, you’re going to must spend a while trying). I’ve seen them at cheap costs. Complete kits can be found for as little as $500 on-line.

The AR-15 rifle is considerably distinctive in that it may be assembled from components with a few easy instruments in your storage area, offered that you’ve a lower receiver out there. The “lower receiver” is the serialized a part of the firearm, which is the half that really must be transferred by a gun retailer.

Everything else will be shipped straight to your door. There are some good tutorials online for a way to try this, and in case you are involved you may most likely telephone a buddy that can assist you end it out.

That mentioned, even AR-15 decrease receivers are briefly provide and typically go for absurd costs. I’ve seen lowers that after retailed for $70 being marketed for $200 lately. But all in, you might be nonetheless speaking about an funding of $700 for a functioning rifle as an alternative of probably spending $1,500 on a bit of junk that hardly works.

What Did My Friends Do?

I discussed up prime that I’ve had folks asking me for assist on this space. And in each single case we mentioned their scenario, their particular concern, and what plan of action is sensible for them.

In some instances they lucked out and located an AR-15 that met their wants. In different instances they had been in a position to get their hands on the components. In some instances I had some components out there to assist them out, and we had been in a position to get collectively and construct a rifle to match their wants. But each single one finally bought or constructed an AR-15.

I’m guessing that, regardless of their historical past on the contrary, none of them might be large supporters of gun management sooner or later.

You Aren’t Finished Yet

You now have an AR-15 rifle. Great! But a gunfight isn’t a “pay to win” game. Plenty of insurgents with little greater than an affordable AK-47 have held their floor towards extremely effectively provisioned forces. Having the costliest weapons and kit on the battlefield or town block doesn’t promise success.

BARE MINIMUM it is advisable really get out to the vary. Zero your optic, perceive how your firearm works, and make sure that it capabilities correctly. You can’t simply purchase a firearm and deal with it like a magic insurance coverage coverage. You want to truly observe with it. If in any respect potential, get out right into a shooting bay as an alternative of only a conventional rifle line and observe learn how to safely move and shoot along with your firearm.

Something that may be a little bit more difficult lately is attending a firearm course. Getting collectively in bigger teams isn’t essentially probably the most COVID-friendly factor to do, in order that is likely to be out of the query proper now. But there’s a plethora of excellent coaching movies out there, whether or not on-line or on DVDs. While they aren’t a substitute for actual, in-person coaching, they’re much better than nothing.

Last, however actually not least, have a plan. Know the local laws in your area for the usage of lethal power, and particularly when it’s legally permitted. If issues get considerably bushy, that may not be a significant concern, and the previous adage “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6” applies right here, however within the meantime figuring out the regulation is necessary if you wish to hold your self out of jail.

But even past the strict authorized definitions, have a personal plan of action. Think by way of some doubtless eventualities and what the tipping level is in these situations for you particularly to make use of lethal power. Know your private “red line” earlier than issues begin to pop off or else you’ll be making an attempt to determine it out within the warmth of the second and also you won’t just like the outcomes. Think issues by way of within the calm, chilly gentle of day as an alternative of the warmth of the second.

And good luck.

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