Quick and dirty guide to buying an assault rifle
ith a new “assault rifle” ban just around the corner, it is a good time to think about purchasing your first, next and/or possibly last defensive rifle designed for all around lethality. Let’s be clear what we are talking about. This is your “shit just hit the fan” rifle. This is your things have collapsed but somehow I’m still here and we need to pick up the pieces and rebuild rifle. This is the rifle you will use to keep the barbarian hordes from raping and pillaging your land, castle and family (should they ever appear over the horizon). This is the rifle you’ll use when you join the neighborhood militia (if you neighborhood ever needs to start one). This is the rifle you are buying because the founding fathers thought every American should be involved in guarding against tyranny and that self-defense was a God given right. You know that’s still true now.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Which assault rifle is best? The short answer is: depends what you want to use it for. Personally I own a .223/5.56 and a .308 weapon. The .223 is what I bought first because that’s the round the U.S. military uses for day to day stuff. As I learned more, I realized that the .223 might not be the best round. So I bought a .308. Now I have choices. You’ll find endless arguments over calibers, penetration and various other factors. Every rifle and caliber has pros and cons. Here are some basics I consider important.
The two most available rounds are 5.56 and 7.62. These go with the M16 and the AK47 respectively. Both of these types of ammunition are widely available around the world and there are millions of rounds floating around the U.S. If you buy a weapon that fires 5.56/.223 you’ll probably be able to get ammo for it in the U.S. no matter what the political situation is. I would guess the same is true of 7.62 ammo. Here is a discussion of the relative merits of 5.56 versus 7.62 ammunition that merits reading. The end result is that statistically a larger round is more likely to kill you. Either one will kill an enemy in a pinch but 7.62 packs a bigger punch. Because of the Geneva conventions, these rounds are mostly full metal jacket. That means they do not break up inside the target. That makes them less effective at killing opponents than many non-military rounds, many of which are designed to shred whatever they hit by expanding on entry.
The topic has been talked to death a time or two. As I’ve noted before, all rounds are trade offs. The 7.62mm side of the debate tends to pretend that .308 is some kind of death ray and skip over the possibility you’ll have to double tap with .308 as well. And they tend to act like 5.56mm is guaranteed to fail without double tap. Both premises don’t hold up reliably — just statistical tendencies. For an AR/carbine role, I’ll take the 5.56mm round all day — especially if I’m a notional operator who has the range time and training to use my M4 or other weapon to the fullest. As for an M4 in 7.62x51mm . . . too much recoil. Autofire is obviously bad, but even in semi it’s going to kick like a beast, which means that I’d better not need to double tap (or better not miss) because it’s going to take me longer to put the weapon back on target while the other guy is trying to kill me. The proposed 6.8mm round seems like a good idea to me — it takes bullet weight towards .308 without fully sacrificing the idea of a handy and compact assault rifle to the full size bullet, but stays light enough to carry lots of ammo and recoil soft enough to make the a minimal issue in rapid fire.
If you want to be practical I suggest purchasing something that shoots one of the two mentioned types of ammo – 7.62 or 5.56. A gun without ammo is just a big club. If the sky really does fall and you find yourself living in a Fallout 3 type environment it’s likely you’ll be able to trade for bullets of these two types. Maybe some others as well but this is a quick and dirty guide to assault rifles not a novel length diatribe. You want a quick and dirty weapon that will help you defend civilization if and when it collapses.
Costs are variable. They are rising due to unfavorable political conditions and the fact that a lot of these things are going to be black market soon. You’ll still be able to buy am “assault rifle” if you really want one but it will cost three times as much and more important, will be illegal. Military style rifles are good for hunting humans. That’s what they were designed for. If you buy right now, you’ll pay anywhere between $500-2500 for a rifle. Depends which features you want, how many magazines you buy, etc. Remember again, a rifle without ammo is useless. Budget for at least 500 rounds of ammo and keep it stored in a cool dry place. If you’re not already a good shot budget for 2,900 rounds and get some range time under your belt. In case you are wondering where I’m pulling my numbers, Marines are trained to hit a target with iron sights at 500 yards in two weeks with 200 rounds a day, not including Sundays. That means that with a competent friend instructing you (or a paid instructor) you should be a rifle expert in about 2,400 rounds. You’ll probably pay about 50 cents a round for ammo in either variety if you buy today. Ammo availability and pricing is subject to political whims just like access to guns.
There are literally dozens of types, configurations manufacturers and variants. If you want an AK47 from a U.S. manufacturer here is a handy list. If you are partial to the M16 variants (the civilian version is called an AR15 instead) then here is that list. DPMS and Bushmaster have my loyalty. Any of their AR15 products will hold up well if you give them a little basic maintenance. I have no practical experience with AK variants and would welcome feedback on them. You don’t really need a scope or any other assorted garbage that can be hung from one of these rifles. A good sling, ammo and a cleaning kit are plenty to haul around.
The actual mechanics of legally purchasing a firearm vary from state to state. Most states will treat you better if you hold a concealed carry permit issued by the state. For instance, I live in Georgia. Because I am a CCW holder I can walk into a gun store and pick a weapon, fill out the official federal form in about 10 minutes, and walk out with the weapon and as much ammo as I can afford. Some places make you wait a while while they check up on you. Some places let the local constable decide if you are worthy of your second amendment right to bear arms. Some states (Massachusetts comes to mind) won’t let you have a military style rifle at all. You can check out your state laws here. Bear in mind that real assault rifles fire on full automatic or burst mode. These modes are currently federally restriced and require a Class III license. A Class III license requires the holder to give up Constitutionally guarenteed rights. Read Unintended Consequences for more information about federal gun laws and the slow death of American’s gun culture.
Why would a civilian ever need an assault rifle? The short answer is because government has them. Are you going to shoot down an AC130 gunship or an Apache attack helicopter with a 5.56 or 7.62 semi-automatic rifle? No. Are you going to send a political message about your mindset by buying and refusing to surrender one of these weapons? Absolutely. This country was founded by people who were tired of being ordered around. A citizen with an assault rifle is hard to order around and even the most dedicated authoritarian is not going to abuse his or her authority when confronted by a group of citizens with these weapons. It may be scary to think about such a scenario but it’s also important to think about such a scenario. There are petty tyrants everywhere and checks and balances must always be present to keep them from rising to power. Assault rifles represent freedom of choice. They indicate independence. They radiate assurance. They are guaranteed by our founding document and in my opinion every citizen should own one and take the time to learn how to use it responsibly. Rights not exercised are always taken away by busybodies, do-gooders and powermongers.
Go learn more.