This entry is going to be more of a journal type entry. Just my thoughts on my current gun ownership situation. It’s going to be a long one.
I picked up my AK’s today at the FFL. I also bought a Swiss K.31 and a 480-pack of GP-11 ammo for it.
I really like my AK’s. I got one Romanian (not a WASR; a G-code built on an NDS receiver) and one Yugo. People say that the Yugo is better quality; it may be. It is certainly heavier, and that’s actually one of the reasons why I prefer the Romy. It just feels so right. All this evening I have been picking it up and cradling it in my arms like a baby. The length of pull isn’t optimal for actually shouldering, but the end of the buttstock fits perfectly in the crook of my elbow when I hold the gun across my chest. Plus there’s the fact that it just looks so evil. It’s got a curved forward grip that mimics the curve of the 30-round mag. It’s got a slash-style muzzle brake. It’s wonderfully evil-looking. I really don’t think that any AR can compete. The front handguard is finished nicely, but the buttstock is kind of raw. The color is dark enough, but it doesn’t have that shiny finish like the front. So I will definitely be working on that. I guess I need some polyurethane?
I have put the Yugo SKS Bubba project on the back burner. I am not sure if I will ever finish it, actually. It is in a shoot-able state right now (well, it would be if I put it all together), but it doesn’t have all of its compliance parts, and after getting a couple of AK’s I’m kind of wondering what’s the point of making the SKS into something it isn’t? I am happy with the quality of the Tapco T-6 stock (M4 carbine-style collapsible buttstock) and the Tapco 20-round magazines (really nice mags BTW) but the gun just balances horribly. It just feels so muzzle-heavy, and that’s even after I Dremel’d off the grenade launcher, bayonet lug, grenade sights and whever else I could without shortening the barrel past the front sight. (Remember, this gun was in horrible condition when I bought it, so I don’t have any bad feelings about modifying it.) Maybe I will try my hand at refinishing the original wooden stock (as practice for my AK’s) and then restore it to its original state (less the Dremel work, of course) and sell the Tapco stock.
I also have another Yugo SKS in primo, never-fired rearsenaled condition as well as my Russian SKS. Even with its proper wooden furniture, the Yugo just feels so clumsy in comparison with the Russian. It’s too long (on the muzzle end; the half-inch-or-so buttpad is a welcome addition) and has too much stuff on it.
Anyway, the addition of 3 long guns to my arsenal forced my hand with regards to storage. I went and bought the cheapest gun cabinet I could find ($75). It is partially for security (it’s not horribly sturdy, but it’s heavy enough when loaded that you’d need a hand truck to get it out of the apartment and down the stairs) but at least as much for simply storing everything neatly. It has enough capacity to fit most of my long guns, but I keep the shotgun behind the bedroom door, and now I’m keeping the Romy AK next to the bookshelf here in my office (no kids around, FYI). It’s a definite improvement over the “leaning tower of guns in soft cases in the corner” and it’s also got me thinking. Thinking about what do I really want guns for anyway? The real purpose is, and always has been, self-defense. In all senses: home invasion, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI, tyrannical government, foreign invasion, you name it. Yes, I love the mechanical aspect of it all (IMO gun collecting is kind of a “poor man’s car collecting” in that sense… yes, guns can get expensive, but even the expensive ones are still cheaper than most cars) and I also like going out and shooting, although I’m kind of a cheap bastard, and I don’t like spending all that money on ammo and range fees.
I also have a “Be Prepared” mentality. Call it paranoid if you want. Call it a “can’t-turn-down-a-good-deal” mental illness. I like to get things before I might need them, even if I never end up needing them. And then I *keep* them. I am a hoarder. To me it’s just easier to keep something even if I don’t want or need it. I have trouble throwing stuff away. I have made an effort to sell some of my extraneous belongings recently, but it’s kind of a hassle. Unfortunate fact of life: It’s easier to buy things than to sell things. I’ve got 6 fully-working computers sitting around that I never use (4 desktops, 2 laptops) on top of the 2 that I use regularly (1 desktop, 1 laptop) and another one that I keep around for gaming and therefore don’t use much. Not to mention the 2 1U servers that I have yet to install at the colocation facility. At the moment, two of the extraneous computers are listed on Craigslist, but 3 of them will *never* be sold just because of feelings of nostalgia. I know that it’s horribly stupid to feel emotionally attached to pieces of metal and silicon, but there it is. I also have 13 spare hard drives stacked up on my bookshelf. This is not counting the ones inside working computers or the 5 in external enclosures. They range in size from 20GB to 160GB. Some of them work, some of them don’t. All of them were in use at one point, but have been replaced. I have gone through from time to time and copied their contents to bigger drives, but I still hold on to them “just in case” I missed something. Ridiculous.
So now back to the guns. At the moment, I have 15 firearms, by the federal definition; 2 handguns, 3 stripped AR-15 lowers, and 10 assembled long guns. All of them are what I would consider “shooters” but obviously some will be shot more than others. How many more do I want, and for what purposes? How many more do I need? I have a lot of bases covered already. What bases don’t I have covered? I.e. what should I buy in order to feel like I have everything I “need”? First off, I don’t think that any of my current guns needs duplicative redundancy. I.e., I don’t need to own more than one of the exact same gun just to have a spare in case one breaks. Almost all of the guns that I own are known for their reliability. Keeping a few extra springs and extractors around should be pretty much all that I need (backup optics are another story). So, what do I think I “need” to have a well-rounded, practical gun collection?
1) More handguns. Namely, a small carry piece (was going to be a Kel-Tec P-3AT, but now I think I’ll wait for the Ruger version) and a revolver or two (.357mag/.38spl). At that point I will feel pretty well covered on the handgun front. I don’t have any problem keeping my P226 as my bedside gun for as long as I need to. It’s as easy and reliable as a double-action revolver IMO. It is kept in a holster with a snap-buckle, with a round chambered and the hammer down. It has no safety, so all that’s necessary is to unholster it and pull the trigger.
2) A semi-auto battle rifle in .30-06 or .308. A Garand, FAL, M1A, something like that. I am looking into CMP-affiliated gun clubs around here so that I can get a Garand from the CMP. This works because I already have a large stash of .30-06.
3) Kits for my AR lowers. Current plans: 1 M4gery, 1 A2-style, 1 24″ bull barrel varminter. All of those would be in 5.56 NATO. I am also keeping my eye on the alternative chambering situation in the AR platform. I am very interested in an AR in 7.62×39 as it would use common ammo with a lot of my other guns. C Products has some mags that a lot of people like, and supposedly they are working on higher-capacity ones. If the mag situation works out, I would almost definitely choose 7.62×39 for the M4gery. 6.8SPC and especially 6.5Grendel really interest me as well. I am taking a “wait and see” approach here as I would really like to see the 6.5G catch on, but it looks like 6.8SPC might win out, although how big of a dent it makes in the marketplace remains to be seen.
4) More shotguns. My Rem 870 Express with 28″ barrel does it all, but none of it well. I need a shorter barrel and longer mag for home defense. I can’t remember whose site it was, but last week sometime I read one gun blogger’s home-defense setup. He had as many cheap Rem/Mossberg/etc. pump shotguns as he had rooms in his house. Each one was hung over the inside of the closet door, where his kids couldn’t reach and where it would be unobtrusive. Each one also had its safety off and hammer down over an empty chamber, so no buttons would need to be pressed to rack the action and fire (thus avoiding confusion between the different brands). I feel that this is a sound idea, so I will definitely be buying some of the Mossberg Mavericks that are so easy to come by around here (less than $200). Edit: Found the site again. Xavier. Lots and lots of good info over there.
All of the above are “definitely will buy at some point.” Some of them may take years.
Now we get to the “Wants.” Stuff that I won’t ever “need” but I will still probably buy anyway to satisfy my collector’s impulse.
First, the milsurps. I would love to have more SKS’s to round out my collection. Pretty much one from every country that made them. Probably one K98. One or more Swedish M96. I want to run the easily-obtainable gamut of Mosin-Nagants: a couple of M44′s and a couple of M91/30′s. Maybe some more K31′s. Some form of Lee-Enfield in .303. And an M1903. Definitely an M1 Garand and maybe an M1 Carbine too. More AK’s would always be nice, but I’m pretty happy with what I have now. The problem is that most of these are simply impractical. They are like baseball cards that can shoot projectiles. The fun is more in the collecting and fondling than the shooting (because having to keep up with so many calibers is a pain).
Next, the handguns. I really love my P226 and would love to have a full brace of Sigs. A P229 and P239 in 9mm, as well as a P220 in .45ACP. A CZ75 in 9mm. (I will at least try to stick with 9mm and .45ACP in auto-loaders and .38Spl/.357Mag in revolvers.) An XD, a couple of 1911′s, a couple of Glocks, a German-made PPK/S in .380, a Hi-Power, a Buckmark and a Ruger .22. Hmmm…. I really don’t know that much about revolvers. It seems that S&W has a bewildering array of past and current guns. I would want a couple of those. Also a Colt SAA or a clone. Plus a big .44Mag for hunting or wilderness defense, and a Ruger Single Six.
Now, the non-milsurp long guns. Sig 556. A bolt-action .243. BAR in .30-06. Marlin 336 and/or Winchester 1894 in .30-30. A CZ 550 in 6.5×55 Swedish with a Mannlicher stock. A bolt-action .308 with really nice optics, and the same in .338 Lapua. A .22 pump, a .22 semi, and a .22 bolt. A 12-gauge over/under and semi-auto. Same in 20-gauge.
Ok…. I’ve pretty much run the gamut of every “reasonable” (i.e., not NFA, not multiple thousands of dollars expensive) gun that I’ve ever coveted. Now the question is how will I weigh my wants vs. needs? The biggest problem is the milsurp situation. Those guns aren’t being made any more. Yes, there were millions made in some cases, but they’re not being made any more, and as soon as the distributors run out and they’re all in private hands, the prices will go up ridiculously. We have seen it happen recently with the SKS’s. It will happen sooner or later with all milsurps. And it’s a similar situation with the milsurp ammo. 7.62x54R is apparently already drying up, and supposedly so is the 7.5×55 Swiss. So, based on my perception of the market, I think it’s safe to say that a fair number of my “wants” will be fulfilled before all of my “needs” because I can get some of my “wants” fairly cheaply now whereas I might not be able to in the future. Also there is the cost differential among all of these things. Obviously I will probably buy 4 $100 Mosin-Nagants before I spend $600 on a CZ or $800 on a BAR. And I also need to weigh Guns vs. Everything Else. I.e., buying a house, land, new(er) cars, supporting kids when they come around, etc. The past few months I have been on a gun-buying binge. I have been buying them 2 or 3 at a time. Also I have been buying lots of ammo. I can afford it all (I’m not going into debt or anything) but it means that I’m putting off saving for other important things.
So at the moment I feel that my current collection is really all that I need or is warranted for potential home defense, SHTF, or even TEOTWAWKI purposes (with the exception of a home-defense shotgun and the Ruger .380 as discussed above). My apartment is small enough that a single shotgun and handgun will cover most conceivable situations, and the AK’s will be plenty for SHTF situations, and the Rem 700 is great for hunting. I feel comfortable with my ammo situation as well, although with the addition of 2 new guns firing 7.62×39 I guess I should pick up another 1000 rounds or so.
So now I get to the crux of this post. All of this has been a build-up to the question asked in the title: When to stop? How much is enough? I am obviously fairly new to this whole Gun Thing, and perhaps I’ve gone overboard in my recent gun buying. But at least now I’m to the point where I can look around me and say that I don’t see much of a point in buying any more guns. For SHTF+ situations, I’m now far more concerned with how the hell I’d get out of here, and where I’d go, than I am with being undergunned. And I really don’t have much of an answer to either of those questions. I can reach my parents’ house (barely) on a single tank of gas, but except for living in a less-populated area they’re not really much better off than I am. My goal is to buy some land, and then build a house, out in the country somewhere. And, for now at least, that goal outweighs the goal of owning all of those guns I listed above.
So I ask you, dear readers (if you’ve gotten this far): How have you struck the balance in your own lives? I know that in many cases, the spousal situation does its own balancing for you, but I’m single, so my finances aren’t being monitored by anyone but myself. I know that many of you have been doing this for many years. How have you made your decisions? How often do you usually buy guns? What affects your buying choices? I have a vision in my head of what a well-balanced gun collection will look like. I don’t want to go too in-depth in any single type of gun. I do want to have representative copies of all the major military rifles from the past century. I want to try to limit my caliber selection so I don’t have 50 different types of ammo. What does your ideal collection look like? Is it realistically achievable for you? Are you working towards it currently? What is your over-arching goal for your gun collection? Do you worry much about SHTF? How is your gun collection doing in this regard vs. the other parts of your life?
Thanks for reading. I really just needed to get this all out of my head so that I can sort it out a bit better for myself. I would appreciate comments or trackbacks on this topic. I would like some guidance here.