Friday, January 21, 2011

If I could only have five.............

That is an old question with today's gunny folk. I imagine it goes back even farther, and there was a time when some cavemen were sitting around a fire, extolling the virtues of the three jawbones they would own, if they could only have three.

Today's version: "If I could own only five firearms, which would they be and why?"

Here I present the Carteach five, after much thought, along with my reasoning behind them. I'd like to note the Carteach safe already has an example of each of these in residence, or in one case something very close. The notion of choosing a bunch of 'wish I had' weapons for this exercise just seems a little silly. If wishes were to be relied upon, Carteach would be good looking, wealthy, far younger, and much more intelligent. That's not working out so well, and I suspect my 'I wish I Had' list of guns won't work out much better.

The core of making up the magic five list is trying to imagine a lifetime ahead, and what it might bring. What do we use our firearms for? What future is more likely than another? What insurance would it be wise to have? Each of us has to answer these questions on our own.... yet it might be most of us arrive at the answers that ring in harmony.

First, the handgun (s):

On the top of the Carteach list is a daily carry pistol. This weapon has to serve a defensive role, and have features that make it desirable as such. As reliable as possible, as reasonably powerful as possible, and as reasonably concealable as possible. In addition, the cartridge should be more than common, so as to aid replenishment when times are 'tough'.

I'm not a lawman... and I don't carry a large duty pistol on a heavy belt rig (although my 'girth' would allow such if I wished). I carry something comfortable enough that I'm happy to have it with me all day long, and don't look for excuses to leave it behind. Light enough that it doesn't drag my belt down when I'm not paying attention, and small enough that I can conceal with little more than a shirt or light jacket.

The choice..... a Glock G-30. Not pretty.... in fact, it's downright ugly. That said, it meets every requirement and more, as it shoots more accurately than I can hold. The .45acp round is as common as daylight, and a proven workhorse in the defensive role. The Glock platform is more common than any other pistol out there except perhaps the 1911, and considered fairly reliable as mechanical contraptions go.

Could it be a Glock of another variation... perhaps a 17 or a 19? Surely, or even it's .40 brother the G-22. Choosing the G-19 would give me a very wide (and much cheaper) ammo selection, and magazines can be had commonly and cheaply. The G-22 would put it in the ballpark with most of the local police departments, should that ever be helpful for some reason. Still.... I choose the G-30. Mainly because I already own one, but also because I have confidence in it.

Could I choose the 1911 platform? Sure, and the safe already holds one of the most beautiful examples of such ever made. A Colt Commander, nickel plated, mildly customized, and reverted back to series 70 internals. It's a sweet, sweet pistol.... and not my choice for daily carry. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it's heavier than the G-30, holds fewer rounds, is no more accurate, and I'd dearly hate to see it disappear into police custody should I ever be forced to use my defensive weapon. I have no such personal attachment to the Glock. It's a working tool, plain and simple.

How about pistol #2? Should there be one in the magic five? I think... yes. In my case, and judgment, it's the Smith & Wesson K-22 .22 revolver.

Now, some folks just sat back and launched a 'Harumph' in the direction of Carteach, so allow me to explain. Remember, this post is about the choices made if I could only ever have five guns. The only ones I would have... for life. So how does the K-22 fit into that mix? In several ways...

You see, I like to shoot, and I especially like to shoot pistol as it challenges me. The K-22 is perhaps the most accurate pistol I have ever fired, excepting a few highly customized target pistols I have been lucky enough to sample. The K-22 (Mdl 17) has a six inch barrel, target sights, a target trigger, and can bullseye wamp rats from a T-38.... oops, wrong story. The point is, the pistol is far more accurate than I am capable of using, so it will never fail to be a source of shooting challenge.

Additionally, the K-22 is a .22 Rimfire, and that means lots of readily available and cheap ammunition. It would be no strain to set aside 10,000 rounds of decent ammo for the gun, and ride out any shortages even in the long term.

One last thing in favor of the S&W K-22..... it also happens to be suited perfectly as a small, quiet, pot filling game pistol. The same features that make it a premier target pistol also make it an excellent small game gun. It doesn't make a lot of noise, and it's not hard to tuck away under a coat during a winter's walk along the wood line. Many, many a country lad's dinner has come from exactly this scenario.

That's it for the pistol category in the magic top five. Short, sweet, and simple. Could arguments be made for a dozen other makes, models, and calibers? Sure they could.... but mine are good choices, and they suit my judgment of what life will hold, and I already own them.

Now, moving on to the long gun category, we'll begin with rifles. In the Carteach top five, that means two. Both chosen with not just possible futures in mind, but likely futures. Dealing with the limiting factor of only five choices total, something had to give.... and a startling fact of the Carteach top five is there are no black rifles, nor battle rifles, to be found. Understand... that's not to say they are not owned and enjoyed in the Carteach collection, but they just don't make the top five, for a number of reasons.

Thinking about the uses of a Big Bore rifle where I live, they are (in descending order of likely use): (a) Hunting, (b) Target shooting (c) Varmint eradication, and (d) some form of defensive use. A tricked out EBR in 5.56mm or 7.62mm would do two of those jobs wonderfully, but in the state of Pennsylvania would be illegal for the other two. Yes, PA has no big problem with me shooting home invaders with an AR15, but if I shoot a tree rat with one they will arrest my butt and confiscate my property. Go figure..... it's just another proof that laws and common sense need have nothing in common at all.

Given that two of my four likely uses preclude using an Evil Black Rifle across the board.... we are faced with owning two rifles, or one that will do all four jobs. I elect to go with one, leaving the last two slots open for other firearms. In this case, a bolt action rifle in either .308 Winchester or .300 Winchester Magnum.

This is the one case where the Carteach safe does not hold exactly what I would like it to. There is a perfectly serviceable Mauser actioned .300 Winny sporter in the rack, and it will serve. Preferred, and hopefully to be fulfilled this year, would be a Remington LEO tactical in .308.

Why this choice? It's an excellent big game rifle in my home state, or on the whole continent if we get right down to it. Should the desire come up, it's also a decent varmint gun, and a fine target rifle for range sessions. Reloading is reasonably easy in those calibers, components are plentiful, and load
ing custom ammunition for such a rifle is highly rewarding.

About the defensive use scenario... there I part company from many on this list of the magic five. Some folks see a future where anarchy reigns, and envision themselves fighting off hordes of vampiric zombie gang bangers on drugs. Carteach..... well..... he just doesn't see that happening anytime soon. On the other hand, there are scenarios where one accurately delivered bullet could end a bad situation. Witness the use of snipers by both military and police, to incredibly good effect. As a force multiplier, and precision instrument of policy... the sniper threat is immense all out of proportion to it's cost. Thought of along those lines.... just about any decent and accurate big bore game rifle takes on a tactical, if not strategic, role.

My preference is a high quality, and highly accurate, bolt action rifle in a common caliber and with good optics. The Remington 700 tactical fills that bill nicely. It wouldn't be given a second glance during deer season, and would be well regarded while thinning the PA woodchuck herds that undermine local farms. Ammunition is ready available, and excellent mil-surp can often be purchased by the case. Given a solid rest, some decent rifleman skills, and fair cover... there is not a target within 1000 yards that can rest easy from such a weapon. Be it a tasty deer to feed the family, or a marauding band of 'Zombie Nazis from planet ten' terrorizing a town.... it's covered.

For those keeping count, that leaves two choices.

So... one more rifle then. In the case of Carteach, it's going to be a CZ452 trainer .2
2 rimfire bolt action. For reasons why, look above to the S&W K-22 (Mdl 17). I like to shoot, and I like to be challenged to get better. The CZ 452 trainer is frighteningly accurate, with excellent sights and a wonderful trigger. Even with open sights, squirrels at 75 yards might as well just jump in the pot and get it over with.

When it comes to shear putting-meat-in-the-pot, nothing in the world can equal the .22 rimfire in bang-for-the-buck (Pun fully intended). As a boy raised on a farm, dropping a deer with a single shot from a .22 rimfire rifle was routine. Squirrels and rabbits were easy prey to a farm boy with a .22 rifle. They still are.

The CZ trainer, besides it incredible accuracy, great sights, and fantastic trigger... has a longer than normal barrel for a .22. This makes the sight radius longer and adds to the accuracy, but it also means subsonic .22 ammunition is unbelievably quiet. CB caps literally make more noise hitting the target than they do leaving the rifle. It doesn't take much imagination to envision scenarios where this trait might be useful.

Luckily for Carteach, both his S&W K-22 and his CZ 452 prefer the same rimfire ammunition, Federal's bulk pack 40 grain solid and 36 grain hollow point. As this is written, 5,250 rounds can be bought for $205 plus shipping from That's a LOT of rabbits in the pot.

Down to the final choice, and to our one and only scatter gun. Yes, a shotgun has it's place in the magic five, or at least in the Carteach top five anyway.

Here, the only real choice for me is the Remington 870 12 gauge pump action shotgun. In fact, it's the one in the safe right now, complete with two extra barrels, recoil reducing stock, and magazine extension.

Morphed into it's long barrel hunting gun version, it's well at home shooting trap or bagging pheasant. Swap the barrel, and I'm ready to hunt deer in several surrounding counties where politics limit hunting to slug guns only. Back to the configuration it lives in 95% of the time, and it's a short barreled, folding stock, extended magazine home defense gun. The Remington 870 has generations of traditionally good service behind it, and is the standard by which reliability is judged. Whether in military and police configuration, or time honored field gun, the 870 wins it's place in the top five on merit alone.

That's it folks.... The Carteach top five choices for that old question: "If you could only have five guns in your whole life, what would they be?"

I'd be heartbroken to give up my Mausers, and anyone trying to take that Commander away better bring a lot of friends, but as a mental exercise... answering this question does focus the thoughts. In my case, I have 4.5 of the top five... and I now aim to make that a solid five of five by this years end.


Old NFO said...

Good choices, but as always it's up/down to individual preferences... I've got the Glocks too, but one pistol, it's a 1911... Additionally, I have at least 1000 rounds for everything including the shotty, and 10000 rounds of .22

Earl said...

I like your choices, especially about willing to abandon the Glock to the tender mercies of the police if needed. Yep, it is only a tool.

Fine tool, but I don't own one.

Carteach0 said...

NFO, as always I am certain your choices are excellent, and made for excellent reasons.

Mine are different, as my situation is different. Very different, in fact.

Should things ever go TU in a big way, you are most welcome to a warm couch and all the venison we can... find.

Carteach0 said...

Earl, After giving some consideration, I am coming to the conclusion I should have a duplicate of the G-30 on hand, and also the 870.

Brigid said...

I ended up getting my own M an P, added a S and W wheel gun, a Ruger, and two XD's. If the house sells and I downsize there will be a lot more.

Your choices are extremely good ones.

drjim said...

I will defer to the expert's choices here. I tend to favor my 1911 because it's what my Dad taught me to shoot with, and can field strip, and reassemble it, in minutes. I bought my wife a S&W TRR8 revolver in 357, and she's remarkably good with it at the range.
I agree with the Remington 870, and have an 870 Express myself. Dead reliable, easy to handle, packs one heck of a wallop.
I still "need" to get a big-bore rifle in .308, and I've been looking at the Savage line. I'm fairly proficient with my Marlin 336 in 30-30, but there's times when I could see a 308 rifle being *very* handy!

Bob H said...

I can see the arguments for everything except the bolt gun. Why not a semi-auto .308 rifle?

Carteach0 said...

Bob, semi-auto rifles are not legal for hunting in PA. Also, my personal experience is geared towards getting spectacular accuracy from bolt guns, which translates into range. If possible, better one shot at 400 yards than thirty at 50 yards.

Leatherwing said...

As a newbie, looking to make his first purchase(s), I like your choices. And reading these exercises help me make my choices with more forethought. Thanks.

Aaron T. said...

I'm curious as to why no 22 conversion kits for the pistols, and instead use a completely different firearm for the task. If you used a conversion kit for practice, you could include at least 1 other gun in your list.

Ambulance Driver said...

Great minds think alike.

Mine would have been:

1. Glock 17.
2. Remington 870 in 3" 12 gauge
3. Remington 700 (mine's in .270)
4. Ruger 77 in .22 LR (mine's a .17 HMR)
5. Pick your .22 LR revolver (mine's a Ruger Single Six)

Anonymous said...

"If the house sells and I downsize there will be a lot more." I like the way you think, Brigid! Good article, always helps to think about these things. I am trying to get reaquainted with my Ruger 10/22 for just such a reason. I agree with your choice of a Glock, and would add a double-action center-fire revolver in .357 magnum to the list.

LaserLover said...

I wouldn't argue with any of your choices. I'm curious, though, what you would consider acceptable substitutions. Like you, many of us already own guns in those various categories that are very similar to your selections. I understand why a Colt Sporter with a .22 conversion doesn't work for you as a .22 rifle, but would a .270 w/ a Leupold scope do instead of a .308? I own a G19 w/ a laser and a .22 conversion. Would that cover the first two guns? I realize this mostly boils down to personal opinion, but if these were the guns you owned, would you feel inclined to adjust the inventory in your armory? BTW, thanks for the time you take to share your experiences.

Carteach0 said...


I'm not sure my opinions of substitutions would have value, but I'll take a shot at it anyway.

I like the idea of .22 rimfire kits to fit centerfire weapons. As training aids, low cost practice alternatives, and just plain enjoyable shooting. That said, I don't think they are part of the 'Main Five'. Why? Because a breakage in the action suddenly takes two guns out of action, not one. That, and it's not possible to hand off a .22 kit to someone so they can be armed alongside you. Sure, a .22 is not much of a weapon to have during an incident, but it's slightly better than a $600 dedicated AR rimfire upper used as a club.

All that said... if I could find and test a decent .22 rimfire kit for my G-30, I'd buy it at once.

Would a scoped .270 take the place of what I chose? Absolutely. I chose a .308 for a number of reasons..... ballistic efficiency, easy access to ammunition, inherent accuracy. Certainly a .270 will do the same job.... in the hands of a disciplined shooter.

LaserLover said...

FYI, has the Advantage Arms Glock LE 29-30 22LR Conversion Kit in stock. I purchased my G19 conversion kit from them.

ExFed said...

I found your site today and after looking at a couple of your articles, I was impressed at your logic and knowlege. It will be bookmarked.
That being said, and going with the old addage of different strokes for different folks; I would substitute the Glock, which either through genetic makeup or Gremlins, is not comfortable in my hand and I cannot fire accurately. My Sig 357 / 40 would fill my needs.
I love my Ruger 10/22 but like you, would opt for my CZ452 ultra Lux or Ruger 77/22 since my experience has taught me semi auto 22's will have mechanical problems or ammo feeding and ejection issues when you least want them. In addition, they can be picky as to what ammo you feed them.
Thank you for a very good article.

Anonymous said...

Good choices, I've made similar ones along the same lines.

Things doing what they do, changing, I am in the process of winnowing down to exactly 5 guns myself.

1, CCW: Currently this role is filled by a Beretta Model 1934, .380 acp. It was a gift and is in perfect working order. I'm considering upgrading to a CZ P-01 for a few reasons - more common caliber, larger caliber & larger capacity (and let's face it, time to modernize.) I like the feel of the CZ, as well as the reputation for quality.

2, Home Defense: Rem 870 Express 12 ga. This is actually my first gun, and if there was ever a Chevy Pickup of guns, this is it. And again, common ammo.

3, Plinker: Marlin Moel 60, .22LR. A scoped, autoloading .22 is just fun on a stick. Add to that small game as mentioned as well as cheap plentiful ammo.

Here is where I may stray from some others...

4, Wheel Gun: S&W Model 27-2, 6", .38 spl/.357 mag. For me, on the farm, this is just the ultimate kit gun for the farm. Heavy N frame absorbs the recoil from the .357 rounds, giving plenty of stopping power, and allows plety of cheap practice with .38 spl loads.

5, Rifle: Marlin Model 1894c, .38 spl/.357 mag. The ability to match the - very common - ammo with the wheel gun appeals to me. Add to that 75% of my rifle shooting is within 100 yards, and 95% is within 200 yards.

"If It Could Be 6" gun: Winchester Model 70 in either 30-06, or .308. To get where the lever gun can't.

Anonymous said...


Glock 20
Browning Hi-Power 9mm

Long guns,

Mossberg 590 20" ghost ring sights
Scoped Ruger Mini-14
Taurus Model 62 pump action .22LR