Prepping on a Budget
by CG, Survival Blog
Now for the most contentious issue– guns. Let me preface this by saying that everyone has their pet favorite, and to them that is the only gun that will ever work and it will do everything. Being chased by a grizzly bear, someone will tell you how you can totally take that bear out with your 10/22. Want to go dove hunting? Somebody will tell you how you really need a Barrett .50 cal. to take those tough little suckers down. The reality is that the only gun you will ever need is the one in your hand when everything goes south. Guns are going to be the single most expensive thing you will buy for your survival kit. They don’t have to break the bank, though. You can get a used S&W model 10 in .38 spl. at a gun show or pawn shop for under $200. Granted, the finish might not be in the best shape, but those guns are hard to tear up. You’ll no doubt hear all about how your .38 revolver isn’t up to the sky-high standards of a 9mm with a 15 or 17 round magazine, but if you ever find yourself fighting for your life, that little .38 will do whatever you need it to do. Or, if you have to have a semi-automatic with a magazine, hi point makes a cheap gun. I think they are about $200 brand new. I don’t know how good they are; I’ve heard good things about them, but I’ve never been overly impressed what the ones I’ve looked at. I’ve seen the old Ruger P series selling used for around $300, and those are top of the line guns. Shotguns can be bought very cheap. Again, that you have a gun is more important than what kind of gun you have. A used single shot H&R 12 gauge can be bought for under $100, and there’s virtually no way you can tear one of those up short of blowing it up. Used pump shotguns from Mossberg and Remington can be found for around $300, though they are likely to be a few years old and have some wear on them. CZ makes a 12 gauge pump that sells new for around $300, and CZ is a very reputable company. Rifles will be the most expensive gun you’ll buy, if you decide to buy one. Semi-automatics will run the most, with the AR or AK type rifles running $1000 or more. There are some, like the M-1A, that are more expensive. For the budget-minded prepper, though, there’s the SKS. It’s semi-automatic with 10 rounds if you stick with the factory mag, and it’s super reliable. They will run around $200-$300 at gun shows or pawn shops in the standard configuration (as they rolled off the assembly line). There are many, many after-market parts for them, from stocks to magazines. For under $500, you can have a polymer stocked SKS with a 30-round detachable mag. If you want to go with something less expensive and still a battle-tested rifle, the Russian Mosin Nagant can be bought for around $125. It’s a bolt action, 5 round internal magazine, 7.62x54R. If you don’t feel that you need a semi-automatic fighting rifle, you just want a rifle to put food on the table, there are bolt action hunting rifles for around $350-$400 with a 3-9×40 scope already mounted and sighted. I don’t recommend that you try to use one of them without taking it out and verifying that the scope is mounted and sighted correctly though.
For most of your survival gear, like tents, sleeping bags, knives, and such things, the best places to shop will be in sporting goods stores or in the sporting goods section of Walmart or Target. Some things, like the hatchet, saw, tarp, and other items that I mentioned above, can be bought at Home Depot for less cost than on the camping aisle of Walmart. Walmart, if it’s a super center (I’m not sure if any of them aren’t super centers any more), is okay for food, but Sam’s Club or Costco is a good place for bulk purchases of food, water, and household items, like bleach and first aid supplies. Clothing will be an issue that I want to cover separately, but there are no shortage of places to find good clothes economically. Of course, the dollar stores– Dollar General, Dollar Tree, The Dollar Store, and so forth– are good places to find a lot of this stuff. Something I haven’t touched on here is tools, the reason being that most people have the tools that they need, so that shouldn’t be an issue. If you think of something that you’d want to put in a bug out bag/emergency kit and just leave it there, you should do that. I’ve always taught that your emergency gear should be stocked and packed according to your individual needs; there is no cookie cutter pattern for what someone should or should not have with them in an emergency, other than the absolute basics of food, water, shelter, first aid, and protection. Some people may have a specific issue with their vehicle or a piece of gear that they need to keep a certain tool or tool kit to deal with. If that is you, than by all means, have the tool or tools with you. If you want to buy spare tools to keep packed for an emergency, I would not recommend buying Craftsman or some name brand. Harbor Freight has decent tools; some of them are available for $1, so you can stick them in a bag or box and leave them there. If you are wanting to build a home or automotive tool kit, then by all means buy the best you can– probably Craftsman, unless you have the thousands of dollars to spend on Snap-On or Mac. However, for an emergencMilitary Surplus/Tacticaly spare, $20 for a 1/2” combination wrench at Sears vs. $5 for a similar wrench at Harbor Freight is a no-brainer. That said, do not scrimp on roadside emergency gear, such as tow chains (preferably not tow straps or ropes), a four-way wrench, and jumper cables. You don’t want something that’s going to fail when you need it. Obviously, online shopping can be very helpful, especially with your gear. Cheaper Than Dirt is a good site for survival/emergency gear, and there are a number of sites with tactical and camping bags and packs that are affordable and good quality. Any of the major retail stores have websites where you might be able to find things more economically than you can find them in the stores. Just watch out for deals that are too good to be true; a lot of the sites I’ve been on will try to charge you $12 for shipping a 1oz. plastic buckle. (That’s not a joke.)