The 4 Gun Battery Feb. 12, 2011

If You Only Had Four

Yesterday on The Survival Podcast, Jack Spirko answered a listener's call about the 4 Gun Battery.  Essentially, that's what might work for an all-around defense and hunting battery if a person was limited by money or laws or whatever to only four guns.  Most folks give it a kind of generic .22 rifle (usually a Ruger 10-22), pistol, center fire rifle, and a shotgun.

I've got way more than four guns, but I thought today about what direction I might take if I were so limited.  I also looked at as a resident of rural Central Virginia, and also as a land owner in SE Wyoming where we hope to move at some point.  The four guns that work here would not be the best choices for out there.


It's pretty wooded around here, with gently rolling hills, and plenty of game of all sizes up to white tail deer.  I'd be hard pressed to take a 100 yard shot from anywhere on my property.

1.  .22 rifle - If I'm only going to have one, I'm going to go with the Henry lever action.  The lever action will feed the usual .22 long rifle round - good for small game (or pests) like squirrels, the small rabbits we have around here, skunks, opossum, or sitting birds.  It also handles shot rounds that are good for snakes and small rodents.  It will also feed and function with .22 CB caps which are as quiet in my rifle as sub-sonic rounds in a friends suppressed Walther pistol.  For different types of ammo, the lever action is much more versatile and capable than a semi-auto.

2.  Mid-sized, high quality .357 Magnum revolver - Something like a Colt Python or Trooper or a Smith & Wesson model 19 or 66 - I'd go with a 4 inch barrel.  The .357 is a very versatile round, and can be loaded very hot or very mild, with full metal jacket or expandable defense or hunting loads, and even with shot rounds.  It will also take .38 special rounds for target or practice.  The .357 is a proven self-defense round, and from a pistol is quite capable of taking small-to-medium sized game.

3.  A .357 Magnum lever action rifle - again, the ammo versatility, out of a rifle, a hot load is great for the white tail deer we have around here, and with practice, it can be just as rapid as a semi-auto.  I've shot a lot of Cowboy Action matches and it's amazing how fast one can get.  The accuracy is fine within the ranges we have here.  I'd stay away from the Model 66 or 73 reproductions and go with a Model 92 Winchester or 94 Marlin.  The 92s will need to be 'smithed by someone like Steve Young.  The Marlins are much better out of the box.  The biggest shortfall is the slow reloading process, but unless you are in a true firefight, that wouldn't be an issue.

4.  A 12 gauge pump shotgun with adjustable choke - You can shoot #7 or 8 bird shot on small mammals or dove, quail, etc...; larger #4 or 2 on larger game like duck, turkey or beaver; #4, 1 or 00 buckshot for large mammals, including two-legged predators; or slugs for longer range, hard hitting accuracy.  The adjustable choke changes how tight the end of the barrel is and makes the shot pattern tighter or looser, depending on the purpose.


Our land in Wyoming is open prairie, at about 7,000 feet, no trees, clear views for dozens of miles.  The game ranges from great big jackrabbits to antelope to elk.  I'm sure there are birds to hunt, but I don't know the details of the area yet.

1.  .223 semi-auto rifle - AR15, M-4, or similar - Useful for the jack rabbits, as well as defense to several hundred yards.

2.  .357 Magnum revolver, same reasons as above

3.  Bolt-action rifle in .300 Winchester Magnum or .338 Lapua Magnum, possibly a Remington 700 or McMillan M86.  These calibers will reach out farther and hit harder than the .308, and good for the largest of game or long range perimeter defense.

4.  12 gauge shotgun, same as above


These are my thoughts for my two specific situations.  Your millage may vary, depending on your terrain, local game, perimeters, skills and experience.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

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  1. Well Don, as usual, I'm in agreement with you...Can't think of much to add except an admonition not to overlook the trusty Kalashnikov...It looks evil, brings to mind red-eyed child soldiers and all that jazz, but that all said and agreed to...it's a no-fail medium game getter and a heavyweight fight stopper within your 100 yard perimeter. Great post!

  2. I've been playing around with a similar concept the last few months. I also did listen to Jack's podcast last night as well.

    The concept I'm working with is a inexpensive but functional north woods battery.

    Mosin Nagant rifle or carbine retrofitted with Mojosights. I'm leaning to the MN due to price of the rifle & cheap ammo (7.62x54). You would have to hunt around a little to get soft point ammo but I've seen it in 180 & 203gr loads. I'd still want a case of FMJ for serious bad times but remember that it's not legal to hunt with it in most places.
    A hunting rifle in 308, 270, 30-06 etc will work just fine as well. Don't forget to pick something that you can easily get ammo for.

    A 22 rifle with good iron sights. Right now I'd pick either a 10/22 or a Marlin 795 since I'm not aware of a bolt with the style of sights I want without modifying the gun. With a selection of bullet loads & types this will cover quite a bit of situations.

    For a sidearm I'm looking at a short barreled 44 Blackhawk. Not as good for 2 legged problems but probably reliable to the extreme. A good medium frame 357 is another solid option. Brand wise, Taurus or Ruger would be my choices for a 357.

    Next I'd get another handgun. There are a few 22 revolvers that can change between LR & magnum ammo. This is to give you a lighter weight sidearm when carrying a full size long gun (rifle or shotgun) but could still be useful for small game at realistic ranges. This also gives you an inexpensive practice handgun. The option of using 22 mag ammo increases your available power & adds another caliber if you end up scrounging. Ruger, North American Arms & Charter all make guns that would work for this. Taurus is supposedly bringing one out as well.

    I'm not as much a fan of using a shotgun as a primary hunting gun due to the ammo size & weight. You might not be able to get as much food with a 22 but you can store much more ammo for the same size & weight. This should give you more chances at food.

    That said, I'd still want a shotgun (12 in or 20ga) available. Pick a longer barrel with removable choke tubes for hunting & a short barrel for defense. Depending on where you are, another fully rifled barrel might be a good idea. I'd lean towards a Mossberg 500 or a Remington 870 for this. You can find good used guns for reasonable prices.

    Now at some point you're going to have to come out of the woods so a concealable handgun would be nice. I'd lean towards a smaller gun in a related caliber to my primary handgun. With the 44 Blackhawk there's a variety of 44 special 5 shot snubbies. If you chose the 357 route, the options for a small frame 38 or 357 abound.


  3. I forgot to add that I'm chosing iron sight for the durability aspect when compared to the inexpensive scopes out there. Plus it should be easier to tell if your iron sights are damaged compared to a scope.

    For the 22 rifle I like Techsights. They're easy to mount but appear fairly sturdy. They're the only click adjustable iron sight for 22's that I'm aware of. I'm in no way affiliated with them except as a 2 time buyer (10/22 & 795).


  4. Tim, good thought on the AK. I stuck with the .357 lever around here for ammo interchangability, but you could probably get me to abandon that for the AK. It was good hanging out with you yesterday.

    Steelheart, all excellent choices. The MN is for sure a heck of a deal, and extremely battle proven. If you got an inexpensive reloading set up, you could use .308 or .30-06 hunting bullets to load your own if you can't find them easy.

    From talking to folks in different parts of the country, I think the Southeast is pretty unique in our comfort and dependence on a 12 gauge with buck shot for deer and other medium sized game.

  5. A book that's in some ways dated but if you can work around it (no 40 S&W for example) the ideas are still good.


  6. Survival Guns is part of what led me to preparedness back in the early 80's. I probably checked it out of the library 20 times. I got the new printing for Christmas. Fantastic primer on the minutia of different calibers and guns, and an interesting look back at what we have now that was not available back then.

  7. If you had to limit to 4, my one negative to the 22 would be that it is a rimfire, and thus no reloads. With reloading you can greatly extend your ammunition supply. On a lesser note, the 22 is going to be so popular that its ammunition is going to be money.

    Of course that then leaves open what you would use. An air gun of some sort would be one option. If you said firearm limit (versus gun) it wouldn't even count as one of the four. Some people use .223 as varmint guns, but the ammo is much pricer than the 22s.

    I would consider replacing the shotgun with a backup concealed pistol. In any situation where you will be in talking distance of people it would be very useful.


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