Opinions on rifles?

I’m not a “gun guy” although I did grow up in North Texas, learning to hunt and shoot safely throughout my teens in the 70s. In the intervening decades, I have paid no attention to guns, and have never felt the need to have one around the house.(Except for 110-year old bolt action .22 that my grandfather used for rabbits on the farm) But now that I have prepped  reasonably in most other areas, I’ve been thinking of getting a modern rifle with some decent stopping power.

Any suggestions on selecting one? I am not a gun noob, but I’m 40 years out of practice. Thoughts on safe-yet-rapidly-acessible storage would be welcome as well. Just to make things more complicated, I now live in New Jersey. I’m applying for the rifle-purchase permit now, and have heard some stories about the state making it difficult to get. We’ll see.



  • Comments (28)

    • 5

      I have no idea on how NJ laws will effect your buying choices.  I’m assuming an AR would be out of the question. Can you get a 20” barrel lever gun in 357 mag? That would give you 12 or so rounds with respectable ft/lb. Maybe a bolt action rifle in 308 or 223 that accepts pre ban magazines?

      As far as a safe, have you looked at the Hornady rapid safe offerings? They make some suitable for one long gun.

      • 3

        Thanks for your comments. Ha, ha, yes… an AR-15 would be exquisitely illegal in NJ. I don’t think a lot of the Yankee gun laws up here, but I’m not gonna break the law, either. Life’s too short for legal entanglements.The .357 lever action idea is interesting, I’ll try to check it out. I always used bolt action growing up, but I feel like maybe lever action would be faster. It was never a consideration before 🙁 I like the idea that you can get them with tapped holes for easy scope attachment. My son and I like to do target shooting every once in a blue moon.

        Thanks, I’ll check out the safe too.

      • 3

        FWIW, air guns are exempt from many of those ultra-restrictive laws https://theprepared.com/self-defense/reviews/air-guns/

      • 3

        John, thanks, interesting point about air rifles. I didn’t know anything about them as an option until I read your piece.

    • 4

      On the storage side: A few weeks ago I received a SecureIt Answer 12 security cabinet https://www.secureitgunstorage.com/product/answer-ultralight-model-12-pro/

      I’m digging the overall narrative: the big hulky gun “safes” aren’t really safes, they’re just made heavy and glossy to make you feel like it’s premium. Yet look on Youtube, and people can saw through them pretty quickly. SecureIt takes the approach of saying “we’ll have the same security level but in a lighter package.”

      Enjoying it so far. Love the straight-line access and internal modularity (it’s like a proprietary slatwall.) They have smaller versions too.

      • 2

        That is an impressive toy chest!

    • 4

      I would advise owning a pistol first.  Pistols are small and can go places you can’t take your rifle.  They are much more convenient for EDC, even within your home.  Long periods of the potential to encounter hostiles are much more likely than a known certainty of hostiles.  But this thread is about rifles…

      This is what I would do.  Go to a few local gun stores, they will have items that are legal locally without needing to research all the laws.  Find rifles that have the highest capacity for ready ammunition.  Preferably with external magazines.  Baring external mags, something like an SKS – a semi-auto with an internal mag that can be quickly reloaded is the next best bet.  Avoid rimfire for defensive purposes.

      I’m not as familiar with the non-automatic options out there.  But the general rule of highest capacity of ready ammunition is pretty sound.

      • 4

        I agree that a first prepping gun should be a pistol, mainly for flexibility reasons. There are numerous disaster situations were I could imagine wanting a gun I could conceal on my person — like if I’m in a group camp or shelter, or if I’m hustled onto some bus with a group and a long gun is not an option.

        If you combine a good red dot sight with a pistol, you can more easily score aimed hits at distances suitable for hunting.

      • 1

        Thanks, I would also rather have a pistol. Unfortunately, my wife is the New York anti-gun type… probably not a situation that many here have to contend with. My hope that was a rifle, especially one that could be used for target plinking with our son, would pass muster. I have taken him to shoot targets at the range several times, and she is OK with that.

        But alas, I’m getting domesticaly stymied even on the rifle acquisition. She just won’t hear of having it in the house. It’s an emotional thing with her, not even subject to rational discussion about safe storage. Go figure. I guess if pissed off rioters from Newark drop by, we’ll be greeting them with milk and cookies instead. Maybe I’d better brush up on the lyrics to Kumbayah for the sing-along.

    • 4

      A bolt action 6.5 Creedmoor would be a good option. Something with a medium to heavy profile barrel and a nice 30mm scope. Recoil isn’t bad and it has energy similar to a 270 Win. You can buy Hornady American Gunner, which is match grade accurate, for roughly a dollar a round. Perfect for deer, bear, elk, and coyotes. Students in my precision rifle classes shoot that particular round out to 1000 yards with no problems.

      If you need something for defensive use a Glock 17 with a red dot and surefire x300 flashlight are good options. Red dots can be nice for “old eyes”. You aim with a red dot, versus having to line up a front and rear sight, which are on different focal planes. For legit home defense, Ar-15 paired with a 1-4 or 1-6 scope is probably your best option. Dark Storm Industries makes a NJ Compliant Ar-15.

      Don’t hesitate to ask anything. Here to help.

      • 3

        I was going to make the same suggestion, or a bolt action in a popular survival caliber like .223 or 7.62×39. I think people underestimate just how effective a good bolt action can be in all sorts of scenarios, especially if it’s magazine-fed.

    • 4

      I’ll offer a few general recommendations, being admittedly ignorant of New Jersey law:

      • The Glock 19 is sort of the gold standard of pistols. I like it to a Toyota Corolla: not particularly sexy or fun, but super reliable. The Navy SEALs carry them, as do many LEOs. It’s small enough to be concealable, but not too small.
      • Another pistol I like is the Ruger LCP II, which is small enough to carry in your pocket and reasonably accurate.
      • A Ruger 10/22 is a good all-around gun for small varmints and game. You may also consider a .22 air rifle, though I don’t have experience with them.
      • The AR-7 is another .22 to consider. The entire rifle can pack down into the butt stock, which makes it perfect for a bug-out bag. I don’t own one, but it’s on my list of things to buy when the lockdown is over.
      • An AR-15 is a nice jack-of-all-trades rifle, but seems to be out of the question.
      • If you only own one gun, a single-shot 12-gauge shotgun is a great choice. Cheap, legal pretty much everywhere, and versatile. You can get adapters to shoot all kinds of calibers of ammo (though the adapters are mostly out of stock right now), or even adapt it into a blackpowder gun. Dave Canterbury has a number of videos on how he uses his. I recommend a Limbsaver stock pad and a buttstock shell carrier to add a bit of weight. Without that extra weight, shooting slugs can be tricky, because the gun is so light that the kick can make it jump out of your hand.
      • A bolt-action hunting rifle is also good to have. I don’t have strong opinions here, but the Creedmoor suggestion isn’t a bad one. .308 and .30-06 are also good calibers.
    • 4

      Getting a shotgun was my best first option. Getting one was more accessible than my pistol, due to permit/licensing requirements in my state.


      Edit to add state requirements,

    • 1

      I’m in PA.

      I just bought a BB gun for target practice, and there are air rifles that can take down game as large as bear.

      I’m going to go with an air rifle for now, mainly because I’m still kind of uncomfortable about owning a gun – and I’m even single with no kids to worry about!

      • -2

        When I think of defensive postures, lethal firearms aren’t my immediate go to response -and they shouldn’t be! As any well-trained gun owner knows, firearms are an option when all other options fail.

        There are, obviously, non-lethal means of defending one’s self: martial arts training, mace, knives, tazers, axes, etc.

        Then, there are what I call “pervertables” -everyday items that, with some manipulation/modification, can be used with great effect (think prison weapons, a sharpened toothbrush, spoon, a knife duct taped to the end a hiking stick) are all around you. If you’re old enough to remember the show, just think, “What would MacGyver do?”  😉

        Having a good imagination can help you navigate your options.

        I love spicy food, especially Cajun (*drool!*), so for me, dried cayenne pepper is always handy. Imagine that being blown through a pole into someone’s face or combined with oil and lemon juice and shot from a super soaker. That can be just as effective as store-bought Mace, but without financial expense and certainly without any unnecessary bloodshed and death.

      • 2

        “As any well-trained gun owner knows, firearms are an option when all other options fail.”

        I have no idea who trained you.  But this is not what a coherent escalation looks like.  If you are escalating to force, you can and should employ a firearm if you have it.  Immediately.

        Tasers, knives, ‘martial arts’, are, frankly, backups only – and relatively poor ones.  Once you have closed to knife or martial art range the firearm is potentially worse than useless – it can be taken from you and used against you.

        A well-trained gun owner knows that a gun has the power to end life and that he or she needs to come to terms with the potential for ending a life.  You must be willing to do so to defend certain things.  Know what those things are.  Know how to evaluate when you are willing to make this choice.  Then practice for the day you may need to DO it.  If you are unwilling to end a life, don’t buy them in the first place.

      • 1

        Well said. If you are afraid or firearms, get training. A violent attacker could care less about your martial arts, prison shank, hot sauce, or pepper spray.

      • 2

        “If you are escalating to force, you can and should employ a firearm if you have it. Immediately. If you are unwilling to end a life, don’t buy them in the first place.”

        I do not know of a single gun owner who owns guns because they seek to end a life through means of escalation.

      • 2

        In a defensive scenario the opposition has created the situation.  By escalation, I mean to change one’s own posture or response.  I can be a victim.  I can attempt escape (sometimes wise).  Or I can use force.  I’m not intending to suggest that you create the situation to begin with if that is what it appears.

        Otherwise, I will grant that there are gun owners who only shoot paper, and only intend to ever shoot paper.  And some few who delude themselves that they might be able to incapacitate or maim instead of kill.  But at the end of the day, it has one purpose – to kill.

      • 3

        In a defensive scenario the opposition has created the situation.  By escalation, I mean to change one’s own posture or response.  I can be a victim.  I can attempt escape (sometimes wise).  Or I can use force.  I’m not intending to suggest that you create the situation to begin with if that is what it appears.

        I disagree and my disagreements are largely centered around how you are using specific words. Words have meaning. Important meanings.

        So that we don’t end up in further conflict, let me clarify my point.

        Do you- or do you not agree that opposition creating a situation is the only scenario that would illicit a defensive posture/response? The reason I ask is because I can readily imagine a scenario in which someone (“A”) has overstepped their bounds, gotten called out by another (“B” -who is perceived, according to what you’ve written, as the aggressor), and the person who has overstepped their bounds (“A”) takes a defensive position -even though that person’s (“A’s”) actions cause the situation to initially escalate.

        And while I’m here, I find myself hung up on your use of the word “escalate”. And the reason for that hinges on the words that you use following it, “I mean to change one’s own posture or response”. Changing one’s posture in response can be either escalation or de-escalation. So, even though I’m probably coming off as overly picking, words have important meanings.

        Now, based on what I’m reading and how you are using words, one of two things (possibly more) is happening. 1: Either some critical detail is being left out (eg., are you talking about SHTF -type scenario, or …?) -or- (2) you view escalation as your only option.

      • 1

        “And some few who delude themselves that they might able to incapacitate or maim instead of kill.”

        Every single day, men and women trained to shoot have managed to incapacitate and maim their assailants instead of killing them.

        At the end of the day, there are people who shoot with the intent to kill, and those who do not.

        Those that do not shoot with the intent to kill are no less “trained” than those who do.

        But thank you for clarifying where you stand on the issue.

      • 4

        Brandon, Thomas, Lyn, and anyone else I missed:

        I’d like to address your comments because it seems like I inadvertently triggered a few less-than-stellar responses from you all and accidentally raised the temperature here -in an otherwise useful and informative thread! Also, I did not make the time to clarify my message. So, let me give this another go:

        First, I have to admit to some unintended wrong-doing.

        I went horribly off-topic and if I caused some kind of offense, you have my sincere apologies. Second, I completely misinterpreted the context of what I was replying-to (using a BB-gun for practice). And that’s on me, too.

        I must have completely missed the word “practice”. I have the distinct impression that, at the time, I’m probably thinking something like, The thread is talking about rifles and suddenly someone’s talking about BB-guns. That’s not gonna do shit! But while I’m here, I may as well throw out some ideas in case this person is not comfortable with guns or whatever.

        Again, that’s on me.

        Believe it or not, you and I are in absolute agreement and you said it best here:

        A well-trained gun owner knows that a gun has the power to end life and that he or she needs to come to terms with the potential for ending a life.  You must be willing to do so to defend certain things.  Know what those things are.  Know how to evaluate when you are willing to make this choice.

        Knowing this -what you said; what you and I agree on- that is precisely why using a gun is a last resort for everyday situations (extra emphasis on those last two words). If, in everyday life, someone can’t lower the temperature of a situation and only resorts to reaching for their sidearm, they’re not being responsible, thinking gun owner.

        That said, however, when the SHTF, all bets truly are off! And I suspect that’s the mindset you’re operating with here in this thread.

        That’s all I’ve got.


      • 2

        Yeah, I agree with that. If I get unwanted visitors in my house, they are likely to be younger, meaner, and more numerous than me. Responding to their home invasion with condiments and spices seems unlikely to get the job done.

        I have a wife and three kids. If somebody threatens them by breaking into our home, I am willing to end their life, and I will sleep well afterwards.

    • 2

      Update on buying a rifle in NJ: So I finally convinced the wife that it was a good idea to at least get the paperwork done, so that we could get a firearm on short notice if needed. I signed up for the fingerprinting just now, and paid the $56 fee.

      First, I was shocked that in the entire state of NJ, there seemed to be no fingerprinting appointments available for two weeks. Apparently the riots have really gotten potential buyers in gear, and the system is swamped. My second observation, was “What an interesting set of hassles for exercising a constitutionally guaranteed right.”

      Can you imagine the absolute shitstorm that would ensue if there were a proposal to set up a voter registration process that involved:

      1.) sending in names of two references, (each had to return a form)

      2.) getting fingerprinted,

      3.) paying $56

      4.) A 2-3 month lead time

      The courts would say that you’re trying to suppress exercise of a constitutional right. And they would be correct.

      • 2

        Seems like you’re making progress (on all fronts) to ticking another box on your list. Congrats! If it’s any consolation, at least you’re not in NY. New York requires 4 (or was it 5?) references, fingerprinting, $50 background, and a 4 month lead time. So there’s that, fwiw.

        I’m not really surprised by the backlog. I think the pandemic, protests, riots, and not-so-subtle threats everyone has lobbing across political lines has made people very tense. It doesn’t help that people have been holed-up and feeling uncertain and un- (or under-) prepared. I think it’s been an inevitability that there would be a surge. Never mind and election coming up in November.

        At the risk of toeing the line for these forums (mods, please let me know. I don’t think I’m crossing), I’d like to throw by hat back into the conversation when it comes to 2A in response to Frank:

        When I think of the Second Amendment (2A), I can’t help but think about how its purpose is often misunderstood and misinterpreted because of our modern perspective. Now, there’s a caveat in here, so, please hear me out.

        (In other words, don’t jump the gun. Yes, pun intended.)

        Amendment II

        A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

        When I read the 2A, I realize its role in the securing and formation of the US. It’s also important to consider the context of what was happening at the time the Founders began framing the Constitution, specifically the 2A (because that’s what we’re discussing at the moment).

        What was happening? Short version: the British were a hostile, occupying force hell-bent on keeping what would later become the United States under the rule of the monarchy (King George).

        When the Founders began framing the Constitution, specifically the 2A, they acknowledged that they needed a way to defend a fledgling nation from hostile forces like the British. And because we didn’t have a formal military at the time, they needed a way- a militia, to defend this new republic from British tyranny (or other hostile entities) attempting to lay claim to the colonies at the time.

        That was then, this is now.

        Nowadays, and many will knee-jerk at citing historical context or bristle at the idea of, “Well, we have a well-established militia now -it’s called The Army, The Navy, The Marines, and The Air Force”. And if one would grant this as true, [rhetorical:] does that negate that the ownership of firearms by you, me, and millions of others?

        That’s the paradox of looking at the 2A. In its historical context (a country with no way to defend itself but the colonists living here and working its lands), we needed to bear arms because of the British occupation; and now, we are a sovereign nation with a means of defending itself (all branches of the US military). Does the 2A even apply?

        None of this is to say or suggest that we shouldn’t prepare ourselves, purchase arms, etc. However, when we modern Americans lay claim to our 2A, we also bear the responsibility of understanding its original context (even if we struggle with interpreting the Founder’s long-term intent, from the modern interpretation); and, by abiding by the requirements for responsible gun ownership.

        Anyone that knows me in meat space (real life), knows that I’m fond of saying, “There will always be tradeoffs”. It’s just a fact of life.

        Yes, Frank, background checks are a hassle but one could argue that it’s a necessary tradeoff in order to prevent convicted felons, criminals, etc. from [legally] accessing firearms. Bluntly, neither the police nor owner of the gun store you’re looking to purchase from know if you have a violent, criminal history. -And YES, convicted felons could (and do!) have an easier time of getting a firearms by illegal means (read blackmarket).

        The difference is legitimacy, legal ownership that is in alignment with the 2A, no matter how we interpret it.

        At the end of the day, if you have a firearm in your possession (or will soon have one), your right hasn’t been denied -even if it meant that you had to have a background check first, wait for clearance, or wait for your local gun store to restock.

    • 4

      I would start with a .22LR rifle.  The Ruger 10/22 is one of the best rifles in this caliber.  You can also get a takedown version that is more compact.  It’s not a gun for stopping power, but its lower cost, low kick, and cheap ammo will be good to start with. Although you said rifles, my next choice would be a 12 gauge shotgun.  I prefer the Remington 870 but the Mossberg 500 is great as well.  Lots of stopping power and affordable ammo but it will kick.  Lastly, I would get an AR-style rifle, as I don’t believe New Jersey allows AR-15s.

      • 2

        I came here to say this also. Though I’d reverse the order and put a 12 ga shotgun at the top of the list (yes you said rifles, I’m considering that as long guns). Yes they kick, but training and practice will mitigate that. With a shotgun, unless you’re in some wide open long range area, you can handle pretty much all of your needs with that one weapon because of the variety of ammunition options. They are also the easiest to buy and least regulated.

        Then I’d go with a .22 rifle, the Ruger 10/22 has become the gold standard there. AR-15s are the jack of all trade, but if it’s not an option, it’s not an option.

    • 3

      30.06 brought down an 800 pound moose in New Foundland.  Plus that ammo is easy to find anywhere and comes with multiple choices for lead. 150, 160, 180 and 220. I used the 220. Drop the moose at 300 yards with 4 shots. 3 misses and one hit.