The 5-gun challenge


  1. Remington 870 12 gauge – A couple of years back, Jayce and I were discussing what firearm an individual should purchase first. I was leaning towards some flavor of semi-auto surplus rifle. When Jayce mentioned that it should be a shotgun I was extremely skeptical (I’ve always been a rifle man myself). The reasons he gave me at the time included “Home Defense” as mentioned above. More importantly though he brought up the hunting versatility of a shotgun. With a shotgun you can hunt pretty much anything in North America – from smaller game such as quail and rabbit all the way up to larger game like elk and moose. The 870 is a time proven and reliable pump action. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done.
  2. Bolt/Lever tube fed .22 – Most of my proficiency with rifles was gained behind the trigger of a .22 rifle. I love a good quality tube fed bolt or lever action .22. For younger shooters especially, you get a rifle that can make multiple shots but requires a little break between each shot so you can concentrate on technique. I chose a tube fed rifle because most tube fed .22’s allow you to use shorts, long, long rifle, and subsonic rounds. I own a Marlin 983s. It has been an accurate and reliable rifle, but I have been tempted to trade it out for a Henry lever action in the future.
  3. A top brand pistol you find comfortable – I have a hard time recommending a particular brand or caliber of pistol because pistol choice can be a very personal decision. Your pistol purchase should be all about reliability, comfort and ease of use. A lot of people will debate the merits of one caliber versus another – the truth is that all of the major calibers (9mm, .357, .40, and .45) are up to the job of stopping a would be assailant (Handgun ammo stopping power).The two most important features of a pistol are:
    • You can pull the trigger and your pistol will go bang every time (choose a good quality pistol and ammo).
    • You find your pistol comfortable to shoot during regular practice. Your goal is to be able to repeatedly aim at an 8 inch circle up to 15-20 yards away and hit your intended target. This requires practice. If your firearm is punishing to shoot, you will not practice like you should.

    Of all the different forms a firearm can take, a pistol is the most likely to save your life in every day usage.

    I own a Kahr MK9 Elite. It is a solid and accurate 9mm concealed carry pistol. I plan on purchasing an HK45 in the near future for a full size pistol. I have owned a nice quality Kimber 1911 that I frequently regret selling.

  4. AR style rifle – Whether it’s an actual AR, or one of the many variants being produced on the market today, there is nothing quite as versatile in a rifle form factor. An AR provides all of the fun of a semi-automatic with a fairly affordable round. My children love shooting my AR and it is what I promote them to after they have learned gun safety and gained some proficiency with the .22. I currently own a Patriot Ordinance gas piston AR. It has served me well as an accurate and reliable rifle.
  5. Hunting quality rifle (possibly even lightweight marksman rifle) – As I mentioned earlier I have always preferred rifles. There is nothing quite like being able to shoot a golf ball at a couple of hundred yards. At the very least your rifle can help you provide food for your family. At the other end of the spectrum, rifles provide great depth as a hobby. There is no end to the tweaking and experimenting you can do with your loads and your rifle to get tighter groups. I own a Kimber Montana chambered in .308. It can be a little finicky regarding what loads it likes. When I use the right load, though, it is very accurate and has a trigger that breaks like glass.
  6. Honorable mention: Good optics – I didn’t believe it when I first heard it, but you should spend as much on your optics as you do your rifles.


I’m going to sound a bit like a broken record.  So rather than explain why I have each gun, I’ll just list out the order that I purchased mine in.

  1. Remington 870 Shotgun (stopping power, home defense).  I also think that skeet/trap shooting is some of the most fun to be had with a firearm.
  2. Ruger SR9 9mm handgun.
  3. AR-15.
  4. 10/22 (future purchase).  I want something my son can shoot.
  5. .308 I’m leaning towards either a Rem 700 or the Tikka T3.

8 Replies to “The 5-gun challenge”

  1. @Mike, My comment was valid until I read your summary. The gun you have is THE most important gun.. so echo that!

    My rifle of choice is the .270, sure its a bit smaller than the .308 or the .30-06, but I find it a better fit for the wife and older kids. Would like to get a 10/22 for the smaller kids to learn with.

    good read – thanks for the effort in writing to you all.

  2. @Mike, My comment was valid until I read your summary. The gun you have is THE most important gun.. so echo that!

    My rifle of choice is the .270, sure its a bit smaller than the .308 or the .30-06, but I find it a better fit for the wife and older kids. Would like to get a 10/22 for the smaller kids to learn with.

    good read – thanks for the effort in writing to you all.

  3. I agree with all of these choices. Using what you have, what is available, affordable is usually best. What ever you have, just get good with it, not just firing the weapon and holding a good group. Stripping it down, cleaning it, maintaining it, being able to carry it for long distances. If you cant tote it a mile, it will kill you.

  4. I have only one problem with this article and the related comments. Everything has been spot on with the exception of some personal choices, but those are exactly that, personal.

    The problem I have is the title. It should read “The Six Gun Challenge,” and no that is not a reference to revolvers. One gun is missing; the .22 caliber handgun.

    It is just as important to have the .22 handgun as it is the .22 rifle. It is cheap to shoot which gives you more trigger time, they are lighter than a rifle allowing them to be stashed in a pack for a hiking trip for some impromptu practice or food gathering, and they are a great training aid.

    Just as you would never start a new shooter on a big game rifle, you should not start a novice on a large caliber handgun. Other than scarring off the novice, the high recoil can mask mistakes in basic pistol handling that can easily become muscle memory actions which follow the shooter for the rest of their lives.

    Another benefit for training, (or curse in every other circomstance) is the reliability of .22 long rifle. They jam or misfire. Even quality firearms and ammunition. Under training conditions, this is great. You get to clear various malfuntions and misfires.

    Of course, if you choose a revlver as your defensive handgun, I would recomend a .22 revolver with a similar size frame. The same goes for the auto loaders.

    The .22 handgun may be the most important firearm in your preparedness battery.

  5. I read this one early this week. Went to the safe and took alook at the rack of ‘safe queens’ I’ve collected. Yepper.. picked up each and every one. I have been consoladating my ‘stock’ into a limited number of Cal.s and Ga.s. and I still could reduce the list by one each. Like the one fella said… he likes the 270! Ok… I have decided to become as skilled as able with a 223 set of rifles, semi auto and bolt. 38/357 revolvers, snubby to 4 in. Glock 9mms. Rem 870 / Mossberg 500-590s. A 22 set of auto, lever, autopistol and revolver. Sounds like a confusing hopeless mess…… I’ll glean them out revolvers first at training this summer, shotguns next also this summer at tac shotgun training. The Glocks….. 26, 19, 17. 22s… one each. This is like sitting around talking about winning the lottary…. ya didn’t buy a ticket for. Fun…. How would I limit the list even further……. awww heck…. there are far more important things to get togeather and figure out.

  6.  Good choices all! Probably because I have them. I go with the ones that have the best availablity of ammo and am stocking plenty of them. I love the Xds and the 1911s. I have the AR and the Ak.  Mossberg 500 is a winner and I have an M1A for long distance.   Jim

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