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Discussion Starter #1
I have been looking for some time for a nice self-loading rifle to pull multiple duty as a go to gun for everything from target practice to pest control and also being a good choice for family protection and even perhaps hunting deer sized game.

I also would like it to be suitable if there is ever any sort of disaster or situation in the US where citizens are left to defend themselves from others. Don't get me wrong, I hope to never need it for any sort of societal collapse, zombie apocalypse, or the end of the world as we know it, but I was a Boy Scout and believe in being prepared.

There was a recent report from three well known economists that suggested people buy firearms and bullets for the pending economic collapse which really got my attention. These guys are not gun guys and for them to say something like that makes me wonder.

I have narrowed my choices to three. An AK or AK Variant in 7.62x39, a Stag Arms AR15 in 5.56x45, or a Ruger Mini 30 SS in 7.63x39.

I am leaning towards the Mini 30 and am particularly interested in anyone that has personal experience with it. I have been told that it is more accurate than the AK's and I do like Ruger.

I also like the 7.62x39 round as it is a heavier round and I thought that may be better for hunting deer and wild hogs for the table.

What are y'alls thoughts?
 

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Have you considered an AK74? Either way any AK will have fairly cheap ammo that's effective to stock up on, fairly cheap mags to stock up on to and very reliable. Something to think about, cause any mini 14 mag that works well will cost you quite abit. the 5.45x39 is fairly accurate from an AK so long as you get a decent build, and don't bother with a century. I'd look at doing a Saiga 5.45 conversion if your fairly handy with power tools. Out of all the three the 5.45 is the cheapest to buy ammo for to. I actually just got one of these Temp_down with the "target" 20 inch heavy barrel... kinda glad I did cause they went up in price by 20 bucks since last week it looks like.
 

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Take a trip to your local pawn shops and look for a SKS. It's 7.62x39mm, holds 10 rds with stock magizine and is more accurate than the AK style weapons. SKS can be had cheaper than the Rugers.
 

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If you want pure bang for the buck, get it done, cover most all bases, but don't know for sure that you will ever need it, use it, or even fire it. I would recommend one of two long guns that are inexpensive:
1. SKS 7.62x39.....dependable rife, cheap ammo, been around for ever, can be customized like a transformer toy with so many atermarket items available.

2. Mosin Nagant 7.62x54R....again a history proven rife, cheap ammo, semi flexible to customization, Buds was selling them for $109 delivered.

Another all around great gun to own that is a gun everyone should is the Marlin 30/30. Priced well, but ammo is much higher than the two mentioned above.

I have a Ruger Mini in SS .223 and love it. But for the price of a new Mini you could buy a SKS or MN and enough ammo to feel safe for a long time.
 

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I'm a big fan of the Mini 30 ranch rifle. Very reliable and accurate enough for self-defense and short-range hunting. The integral mounts and included rings (if you're buying new) along with the iron sights give you options. I'd look for a used one and save some cash -- a used Ruger is really just getting broken in anyway. Now that Ruger makes factory 20 round mags, it's an even better rifle than it was in the past.
 

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Mags for the Mini 30 ranch rifle are expensive. Accuracy suffers a lot when you shoot the cheap commie stuff in them instead of brass. 5.56 ammo can be had quite reasonably, and an AR weighs much less than a SKS or AK, it is much more accurate than an AK, SKS or Mini 30. Mags are pretty cheap for the AR.
 

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If you could only (only) take one gun I would probably take a tactical shotgun, maybe with a 20" barrel and opt for a variety of ammo with bird shot of birds/rabbits, buckshot for larger critters/zombies and slugs when they won't take no for an answer.

If it's a tactical rifle I would try to guess which ammunition would be the most plentiful to scrounge/barter/buy while on the road. The answer would probably center around the .223/5.56 chamber. An AR platform would probably provide the best chance of finding magazines and parts if the stores are all closed.
 

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Let's fill all your niches on one platform

Buy an AR lower receiver

Buy a .22lr upper/.22lr conversiion - plinking/range fun/small game Upper ~$400 Conversion ~$150 with 2 mags

Buy a 5.56 upper - range fun/ medium to large sized game/Home and Self Defense Anywhere from $400=$800 will get you a great upper

Buy a .300 Blackout Upper - large game killer/ home and self defense Anywhere from $400-$800

The reason I like the .300 BlkOut is the only needed change is a different barrel. Everything from your 5.56 upper will work. Magazines, bolt EVERYTHING is the same!!!

Buy half a dozen mags for your .22lr upper that gives you ~150 rounds of .22lr loaded and ready Mags cost ~$25 a piece
Buy 2 dozen 5.56 mags 10 loaded with 5.56 for ~300 rounds of a very effective round
2 loaded with .300Blk for ~60 rounds of large game destruction

These mags cost ~$13

So one receiver at ~$250
1 .22lr conversion ~$150
4 .22lr mags ~$100
5.56 Upper ~$600
.300 Blk upper ~$600
12 mags ~$150
1k rds of .22lr $50
1k rds of 5.56 $285
500 rds of .300BLK $300

Total catch all ~$2500


Reason I like this is because there is no change in the manual of arms, no learning curve from platform to platform.

I'm a KISS guy and this is pretty KISS. I'd say the .300 stuff is negligible, because 5.56 is a pretty damn versatile round and the right shot placement will take a lot of game. Disregard the .300 purchases brings the total down to ~$1600
 

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I had a similar idea about the Ruger Mini Ranch in 7.62X39 as an all round got to truck gun/deer & SHTF rifle. Don't go there. I spent way too much money for it and on it. It never panned out. One of the biggest problems is finding high capacity magazines that actually work. One of the major distributors told me over the phone that about 25% of the one's he got in were reliable. He was being generous in his assessment.

I'd go with a more proven reliable and cheaper route. The AK or AR series both have a lot going for them. Rather than debate the choice, chose which you like the best. I've owned both and stuck with the AR series.

But...If I was gonna be thrown into a hostile climate with little available resources including cleaning gear, I'd go with the AK. They won't win any accuracy or beauty contests, but they'll work will all else fails.
 

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Discussion Starter #10

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The only difference between a left handed and right handed upper internally is the bolt carrier and bolt itself. It's just set up to throw brass left instead of right. Obviously the ejection port and forward assist are swapped to the left side.

I like the AR platform for several reasons. Most gun enthusiasts have one. most gun stores sell supporting equipment. supporting equipment is relatively cheap and known reliable compared to other tac-rifle platforms. ammo is plentiful and modernized.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Take a trip to your local pawn shops and look for a SKS. It's 7.62x39mm, holds 10 rds with stock magizine and is more accurate than the AK style weapons. SKS can be had cheaper than the Rugers.
I kick myself every time I see a used SKS for $300 at a pawn shop and new ones going for $400 plus. I can remember when I kept putting off getting one when they were $90 - $120 bucks.

Bill Goodman's Gun and Knife Show in Dayton Ohio, they always had them that cheap back in the day.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Have you considered an AK74? Either way any AK will have fairly cheap ammo that's effective to stock up on, fairly cheap mags to stock up on to and very reliable. Something to think about, cause any mini 14 mag that works well will cost you quite abit. the 5.45x39 is fairly accurate from an AK so long as you get a decent build, and don't bother with a century. I'd look at doing a Saiga 5.45 conversion if your fairly handy with power tools. Out of all the three the 5.45 is the cheapest to buy ammo for to. I actually just got one of these Temp_down with the "target" 20 inch heavy barrel... kinda glad I did cause they went up in price by 20 bucks since last week it looks like.
What would I need power tools for?
 

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Best to look up the process of doing a Saiga conversion, basically involves modifying the mag catch on a 7.62 and adding a feed ramp to accomodate AK mags instead of Saiga mags. The 5.45 doesn't need a mod to the mag catch I believe, however should you choose to you can basically gut the rifle and remove the trigger guard and convert it back to an AK instead of a 'sporter' saiga... but if your left handed well an AK might not be the best choice, their very very reliable but they are an ergonomic nightmare.
 

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I would go with an ar or ak variant OR both:) . Ammo is plentiful, and you can use it for defense, offense, hunting, ect.

I have read a shotgun could be the ultimate as well. Various barrels and capability. I still would go with my m4 if I could only have one. Fortunately I can have more. 5 in my family to arm.

Also,

Make sure you have a 22 rifle in the mix. Very useful for small game, birds and 2 legged snakes as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have the .22 LR covered with a Ruger 10/22 and a Marlin Model 60. You just can't beat the price of rimfire nowadays, all things considered.

Yet, if I had to run out of the house quickly with only my bug out bag and my family, my son and daughter would be carrying those two.

I may have to get two of whatever I get because the wife is asking what she is supposed to back up her .357 with...
 

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I've got a custom made three rifle case I got from my wife's uncle when he passed. If I'm not going to the range, I keep my AR, Savage model 64 and now my 12ga inside it right next to the bag that has both my Taurus pistols and enough ammo to last me a while.

It I had to pick just one, it would probably be my AR. It's versatile enough to be used for just about anything I would need it for. But I don't see it ever coming down to that decision of which to grab and which to leave
 

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If you are looking for a cheap, pack it away for an emergency, reliable rifle, then the SKS. Its reliability is at least equal to the AK and the SKS is more accurate. I bought a milled receiver SKS years ago for $140 for my sons to use deer hunting. I cut the stock down for them and that rifle has held up extremely well. The original magazine loads easily with stripper clips, and since you are not firing full auto they suffice. After my sons were grown I pulled that stock I had shortened for them and replaced it. The new Tasco stock works well with the SKS, but it forces you into the removable magazines which do not load easily with stripper clips. I would be happy with the original stock and non-removable mag since you can more easily carry rounds mounted in stripper clips than a bunch of magazines. Since the SKS is the 7.62X39 round, you can easily and cheaply buy the rounds in sealed tin cans which would store better than anything else anyway.

The AR, AK, and Mini-14 all cost more than the SKS and essentially put them out of running for something you are going to put away until you need it. The Mosin-Nagant bolt guns are extremely good values, but being a lefty, the bolt is on the wrong side for me. But for those who like them, they are cheap the ammo is cheap and you can get it in sealed tin cans too.

Here's my SKS with a red dot for my old eyes.

 

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Discussion Starter #19
Truthfully, the left handed issue is not much of an issue. I have never even fired a gun specifically made for a left hander.

I do shoot right handed bolt actions left handed. When I need to work the bolt, my left hand slides forward and my right hand works the bolt. It is awkward looking to right handed people but I can do it smoothly.

I shot M16's in the AF where I would have to button my shirt all the way up so the hot brass did not go down my shirt. So a left handed AR sounds mighty nice.

I could survive with a right handed one though.

It is what we left handed people have to learn to do!
 

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You know you can buy a POF ambi lower with a Stag arms left handed upper and have a trully left handed AR, their alittle pricey but very VERY well built POF really overbuilds their stuff.
 
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