Budget SHTF rifle

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If your truly looking for a reliable long gun then a pump action 12 guage with a smooth bore and rifled barrels would be the best.

Pellets would do good for short range and the rifled for longer range.

While semi autos are reliable enough, if a true situation occured where your on your own, getting spare parts for a broke semi action would be tough.

Shotgun and wheel gun will give you the best chance of reliability. After all in that situation, its what you want.
Honestly, I don't see what will break in a Saiga that won't break in a shotgun or bolt action.

Kalashnikov platform is one of the, if not the most robust.

MN is even more simple. It barely even has a trigger group. It's a trigger with a heavy duty leaf style spring. MN is probably the ultimate from a hard-core rural survivalist approach. That and some type of .22LR. If we're talking the end of civilization to where you can't expect parts or service for an entire lifetime, you've got bigger problems than how long a Saiga will last. That being said, the immediate need is not food gathering (which I believe to be unrealistic for the vast, vast majority) or long-term survivalism - but rather, an all-around rifle that weights in more on the self-defense aspect. Being that is the #1 immediate problem.
I'll be the dissenting opinion here:

Unless you can only afford one gun, ever, in your entire life and you'll need to do everything other than CCW with that gun, I don't see any need to get a shotgun first.
They are versatile but a lot of what is called versatility is just people trying to force the gun to do something it's not well suited to.
They're great for close range SD with a short barrel. I owned one in this configuration and it was very well suited for this - I never felt unsafe with that Mossberg loaded with buck shot near by. But these short barrels will often be IC or unchoked, which means patterns with regular shot will probably be too open for anything other than close range defense. They may also shoot slugs pretty well - mine did out to about 70 yards. But it still wasn't a rifle.
Long hunting barrels are great for hunting but they're often too long to be easily handled for defensive uses.
Rifled slug barrels with sabot slugs are reportedly often effective out to about 200 yards but I'd bet that the trajectory/ballistics are nowhere close to ideal.
Sabot slugs are also expensive, probably $14-$17 per FIVE round box. :what:
OTOH, Mosin ammo is about $60 for 440 rounds. And 30-30 Winchester SP hunting ammo is about $12 per 20 rounds from Federal, Remington, and Winchester. Just food for thought.

It may be possible to split the difference - maybe a 22" barrel with interchangeable chokes and rifle sights would do well.
If I were going with a shotgun that I wanted to do everything with I'd try to find something like this. But I don't think I've ever seen a shotgun in this configuration used in any store. The ones you normally find used for $150 are plain field length guns. If you start with that, by the time you factor in all the specialized ammo and the extra barrels you're likely to need, it might just make more sense to buy the nice used 28" Mossberg 500 for small game AND a Lever action 30-30 or some other inexpensive rifle for rifle stuff.

No disrespect meant for the shotgun or its supporters.
Some of them will make arguments against what I said and they'll probably have some valid points.
And, I still have a couple shotguns and will probably have at least one more before I'm finished buying guns. I also still keep some slugs around for my 20 gauge because they do add some capability.
But I understand that it's a shotgun, not a rifle.

As for me, if push came to shove, I'd want a minimum of a three gun collection:
- A good centerfire rifle. We've already covered the budget choices for these.
- a good .22 rifle.
- a reliable, somewhat concealable centerfire handgun
What kind of SHTF are we talking?

Nicaraguans invading up through Mexico after a nuclear sneak attack by the Russians?


UN/US military imposing domestic martial law?

Natural disaster?
Chinese SKS ($200)
20 Pack of Stripper Clips ($6)
Case of 7.62x39mm Soft Points ($185)
SKS/AK Front Sight Tool ($10)
Tech-Sights SKS/AK Target Front Sight Post ($6)
Basic 2-point sling ($6)

For just over $400 you will have a great rifle with good accuracy, and plenty of ammo on hand. I do not recommend a Yugo SKS since they are longer & heavier since you will be carrying your rifle much more than actually shooting it in a survival situation.
Wow, I'm surprised at all the responses! Thanks, guys.

To answer the question of many, I'm thinking mostly of a natural disaster scenario. The effects of a tsunami probably wouldn't extend much beyond flooding here in the Willamette Valley, but it'd probably still throw the region into Katrina-style chaos that would definitely be temporary. But, there are other scenarios; if a major city is nuked, that could throw everything into long-term chaos.

Anyway, part of why I'm leaning toward .223 is because reloading components are easier to find, and I have a relative who'll send me his old gear once I guy a centerfire (I already have a 10/22 at the moment), and that should help to bring down my ammo costs significantly.
7.62 should be about half the cost of .223.

Ditto... Locally, we have bulk 7.62X39 for $200/1000 rnds... 223 bulk is almost $400/1000 rnds.

Also, 7.62 is way more available from what I have seen... might have something to do with our soldiers using up a ton of 5.56/223 overseas.

For a cheap SHTF rifle, I would get a used SKS, AK, or Saiga in 7.62 X 39
Just make sure you are not confusing 7.62X39 (AK SKS) with 7.62x51 (.308 M14, M1A). The X39 should be cheaper than the .223/5.56 as others have said. As far as rifles you cannot go wrong with a good SKS, shoots a good round, is semi-automatic and very reliable with it's fixed 10 round magazine. Stripper clips are a cheap and effective way to feed it and no magazines to buy or fuss over. A step up from that would be the an inexpensive AK type (others can recommend the best) or the SAIGA which is really just a sporterized AK. SAIGA magazines can be expensive as others have noted because they are proprietary. My vote over an SKS would be an inexpensive AK with plenty of surplus mags and ammo. For about $500 one can do a bunch of shooting and still have a bunch of ammo and mags in reserve.

Not as many low buck choices in .223 as 7.62. Quite a few people jumping on the SHTF bandwagon lately so prices are steadily increasing. Both rifle and ammo would have cost half two years ago. Every man should have a good rifle so don't make a hasty decision, opinions are great but do some other research. You really cannot go wrong with any popular full sized rifle like SKS, AK, AR, M1A, FAL, Garand, etc. etc. it comes down to what you like and can afford. They all have up and downsides but they are all proven rifles that will work when you need them too. Bill
I'm currently in the market for a SHTF rifle, and I'm trying to keep it under $350 or so.

For $350 you could get the SKS and quite a bit of ammo.

Approx $175 to $200 for the SKS and then $150 to $175 for the ammo.







If you just stock up through ammo companies on the net in bulk then you don't have to worry about finding it locally. That's going to insure that you have a readily available ammo source just by opening your closet or going into your safe. It's definately going to be there in your house instead of maybe being there (or maybe not being there for you to buy) at a store.

Better safe than sorry.

I started by looking at the Yugo SKS, but while I could get an excellent-condition rifle for $200, the cost of 7.62x39 around here is significantly higher than that of .223, and since most of that stuff is imported, it could end up being hard to find in an extended SHTF scenario.

I've always thought that SKS's seemed slightly more accurate than most AK's or Saiga, but for all intents and purposes they're really about the same. The only modification that I might do to a SKS would be to install one of those 20 rd Tapco or 20 rd Chinese Red Star mags on there as that would double your mag capacity and both work very well (unlike some of the other SKS mags out there). I wouldn't bother doing anything else to it personally (like sticking one of those folding or telescoping stocks on it).

I don't think that any rioter or looter could tell the difference between an AK or an SKS as 20 7.62 rounds were coming at them. Reloading your rifle would be quicker with the AK than with the SKS (that's really the only advantage that I can see with the AK over the SKS), but stripper clips are pretty damn quick. With the SKS you'd just have a thousand round head start on stocking up ammo than you would with the AK.

Survival and hunting wise with the .223 Rem while you'd certainly kill the deer or hog (if you needed to hunt and find food during TEOTWAKI), it might run away so far that you'll have trouble finding it again. In some states it's legal to hunt deer with the .223 Rem, but in many it's not. With the 7.62X39 you don't have that problem, ballistically about the same as the venerable 30-30 which is a proven deer killer.
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i would go with sks, its my go to gun. only because its the gun ive had the longest and can take it apart in my sleep. you can order 7.62 from online websites for reasonable prices. that or an mosin. shoot when i bought my sks it only cost 135 and my dads was only 100 with 1200 rounds of ammo!! dang inflation
I would take an AK-47 in 7.62x39 in a SHTF situation. They do come in 5.56x45 if you are so inclined. It may be a good idea to go with a modern NATO spec cartridge so you may pickup enemy supplies. I guess it really depends on the enemy. I don't think I would bring a firearm I could not readily find ammo for no matter how much I have at home. I can't take a 6 hour break from a battle and run 20 miles home to resupply. When SHTF, you must also consider a sidearm. Bring whatever the hell you want and five or so mags with it. You would be wise to bring a NATO spec sidearm, but then again, it should not be a primary weapon. When I am properly licensed, I will have reliable rifles in 5.56x45 and 7.62x39 for such an occasion. I will probably carry a 1911 as a sidearm.
I think we stand a better chance of a nuclear attack than a ground invasion, so this may all be a waste. Better to be prepared than not.
Ever seen pictures of the folks who fought in the Mexican revolution/Pancho Villa era?
You see various rifles, but there's one thing most everybody has. Bandoliers. Lots of 'em. They didn't have a supply train to get them ammo. They relied on what they had.

In a SHTF situation, I honestly think you'd be more likely to find .303 British and .32 S&W Longs than .30-06, .223, and similar. Some gunowners stockpile a lot of ammo. Some just have two or three boxes. The two-or-three boxes crowd will hit every ammo store they can find to get more. The guys with stockpiles will probably do the same. The calibers most in use will be snapped up fastest.
Picking up ammo from the dead? Where are the dead guys' buddies? Why did they leave their pal behind with his guns and gear? Just because they might be a pack of thugs doesn't mean they're too stupid to take his guns.

You want your own ammo. You know how old that ammo is, what grain of bullet, what velocity to expect. That dead guy's M1A might be stoked with Bubba Joe's special reduced recoil subsonics... or his extra high velocity special, over three times the recommended powder load of bullseye...
I'm currently in the market for a SHTF rifle, and I'm trying to keep it under $350 or so.

No problem. there are options in that range.

I started by looking at the Yugo SKS, but while I could get an excellent-condition rifle for $200, the cost of 7.62x39 around here is significantly higher than that of .223, and since most of that stuff is imported, it could end up being hard to find in an extended SHTF scenario.

The SKS is a great citizen's rifle, and you can get x39 ammo far cheaper than .223. I see prices of around ~$200 for 1000rds. Mail order is your friend.

So, I've started looking at other stuff, mostly in .223.

.223 ammo is pretty expensive. Where you live, gunshops must enjoy ripping people off...

The .223 Saiga looks like a nice option, but magazines are a bit pricey, and if I convert it for better ergos and cheaper Galil mags, I'll end up costing at least $450 - a bit out of my price range.

Saigas of any flavor are great rifles. But, I hear ya on the converting costs.

The Stevens 200 is available around here for $300, but it'd be extra for any optics (either XS ghost ring sights or a decent but inexpensive Bushnell scope, hopefully). And the Marlin 336 .30-30 is around here in that price range too.

The Marlin 336 is an EXCELLENT rifle. You can add good sights and a scout rail later. However, .30-30 ammo costs $10 a box around here. Reloading is a bit cheaper...

Unfortunately, the Mini-14 and even low-range AR-15s are just out of my price range.

By passing over the Mini-14 or even the AR-15, you are not really loosing anything. There are rifles that will do the Mini's job for cheaper (think AK) and magazines will be cheaper and more available. The AR-15 is an expensive rifle for most people, especially us working guys. I've got one, but you are not going to get up a decent AR and a suitable store of ammo for anywhere near your budget. Hence, looking at other options.

For your situation, I'd go with the SKS, the Marlin 336, or maybe a 91/30 with several tins of ammo. If you can pick the Mosin out at a store, look up the markings at 7.62x54r.net and try to choose a prewar receiver, especially a Tula that is in good shape. Look for the hex receivers for pre 1936 receivers. I've got a 91/30 that was converted from a Dragoon rifle. It's got a 1927 Tula receiver. With quality ammo, it will group inside of 2 inches...
Another SKS rec!

SKS for short to medium range and a Mosin for longer shots.

I haven't yet priced x39 ammo but have a bead on $70 for a 440 round sealed tin of x54r.

I do have a couple hundred rounds for each gun right now...
Call 44mag down by roseburg...

44mag.com 877-894-3116

They have some excellent deals on used stainless steel mini 14s right now... I think they are even throwing a factory 20 round mag...
This is what you do for the cheapest self defense rifle:

Buy an old 303 british SMLE bolt action that is worn out...bad throat erosion. You can get it for cheap. You want one that has only throat erosion, no other problems.

Then, you want to ream out the chamber so that it will now chamber russian 7.62x54mmR.

TADA! you now have an awsome sniper rifle for SHTF scenario with a very fast bolt action and a 10 round magazine. And ammo is plentiful and cheap. Not like that crappy 303 crap. Plus, you can use it for hunting.

Spend a little more money and you can have a composite sporterized stock, scope mounts, and bipod to put on your rifle.

Pretty cool, eh?
here's the problem with your budget: 1) it doesnt leave much choice for the rifle, and 2) it doesnt leave much room for ammo and mag purchases

up your budget to about 500-550 bucks. Grab an inexpensive AK, a decent amount of cheap surplus mags, and enough ammo to fill them all twice.

if that is out of the question, then pick up the Yugo SKS, a bookbag's worth of stripper clips, and enough ammo to fill them all up. I'd personally want something with more capacity and easier reloading, but thats me.
IIRC, 7.62x54R is loaded to a lot higher pressure than .303 British.
Will the SMLE action handle that pressure?
I've heard of this with the No.4 Enfields, but not the No1 Mk III.
Oopsie. I hope I didn't goof. Maybe I better do a little research here real quick-like

It seems I did goof. Make that a No.4, not a SMLE.
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Didn't see it listed, the Remington 742 in 7.62X63 (30-06).

Ballistics, power and accuaracy put the SKS to shame. Priced under $350 at pawn shops and on line everywhere. Ammo from CMP delivered to your door is priced about the same as the 7.62X39 delivered to your door. Ammo is more widely available than 7.62X39 with dozens of more loading options. Easy to mount a scope. Made in America. Great hunting rifle for any type game that your 10/22 can't get. As powerful as a Mosin except in semi-auto and without the recoil. Every home should have one.

Disadvantages: Harder to repel hordes of Zombies with a 5 or 10 round magazines. Dosen't make you look as "tacticool" at your trial. Won't draw any interest at the range.(are these disadvantages? not sure...)
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