When it comes to determining the ideal firearm for a compact bug-out situation, it is crucial to delve into an essential question: “In the face of impending chaos, which is the most reliable and effective low-caliber gun that I am prepared to entrust my life and the lives of my dear ones to?”
When contemplating a small-caliber bug-out gun, factors such as portability, ammunition availability, and stopping power must all be taken into account.
During turbulent times, whether it be a natural disaster or a societal upheaval, the ability to swiftly evacuate and navigate through uncertain environments becomes paramount. Carrying a firearm that strikes the delicate balance between compactness and proficiency is key. As we discuss this matter further, let us explore various considerations that can aid in making a well-informed decision.
Expanding your defensive option with a subcompact firearm
When it comes to selecting a handgun for urban self-defense scenarios, it is crucial to consider the appropriate caliber. In my recommendation, a minimum of .380 ACP should be the standard for a last-resort, self-defense firearm. In this article, I will focus exclusively on semiautomatic handguns chambered in this caliber, as they offer a balance of power and practicality.
Choosing a caliber smaller than .380 ACP raises the stakes on shot placement, requiring pinpoint accuracy to deliver a decisive and incapacitating wound. While revolvers can be exceptional options, especially those chambered in 38 Spl/357 Mag or lower calibers like 22LR or 17 HMR, for the purpose of this discussion, we will focus solely on semiautomatic handguns.
It’s worth noting that there is one noteworthy exception, namely the Taurus M380 stainless revolver with an alloy frame chambered in .380 ACP. This particular revolver could be an excellent choice for those who prefer this platform. However, it’s important to bear in mind that revolvers typically require more practice to reload efficiently compared to semiautos. The 380 Taurus utilizes full moon clips for reloading, adding an extra layer of consideration when assessing its suitability for a bug-out scenario.
Opinions vary on whether a larger-caliber handgun or a smaller caliber is more appropriate for a bug-out bag. Some knowledgeable individuals advocate for larger calibers, while others argue that limited space in compact urban bug-out bags necessitates smaller calibers. It is worth mentioning that smaller handguns chambered in larger calibers, such as .45 ACP, pose challenges in terms of recoil control. Mastering the handling of these smaller handguns requires considerable practice and training, unlike their smaller-caliber counterparts.
Ultimately, the choice of a subcompact firearm for your arsenal should be based on careful consideration of factors like stopping power, maneuverability, and personal proficiency. By selecting a reliable and manageable handgun chambered in .380 ACP, you can enhance your defensive capabilities while maintaining optimal control in high-stress situations. Remember, thorough practice and training with your chosen firearm are essential to ensure your readiness to face any urban self-defense challenges that may arise.
The advantages of small caliber handguns
Including a small-caliber handgun in your bug-out bag offers several distinct advantages worth considering. One notable benefit is their compact size. By opting for a smaller firearm, you save valuable space, allowing you to allocate more room for other essential items in your bag.
Additionally, these compact handguns are often available in single- or double-stack magazine configurations, enabling you to carry a substantial number of rounds without adding significant bulk to your gear. The smaller size also makes it convenient to carry spare magazines, ensuring you have an ample supply of ammunition readily available.
When it comes to reliability and compactness, the Glock G42 deserves special mention. This single-stack .380 ACP pistol delivers exceptional dependability while maintaining an incredibly slim and compact design. Depending on your bag size and personal preference, the Glock G42 can be an excellent choice.
Another advantage of small-caliber handguns is their lower recoil. This characteristic proves advantageous when it comes to quick follow-up shots, allowing for better accuracy and control during high-stress situations. Additionally, the reduced recoil makes extended practice sessions at the range more comfortable and less fatiguing compared to larger-caliber handguns. For instance, firing 200 rounds of .380 ACP during practical shooting drills is noticeably less strenuous than firing the same quantity of 230-grain .45 ACP hardball ammunition in a typical range session.
By opting for a small-caliber handgun, you not only gain the benefits of compactness, increased magazine capacity, and lower recoil, but you also extend your practice time, further honing your skills and proficiency with your chosen firearm. These advantages collectively contribute to your overall preparedness and confidence in utilizing your bug-out bag’s contents effectively.
The disadvantages of small caliber handguns
While small-caliber handguns offer certain advantages, it is important to consider the drawbacks associated with relying on them in a survival scenario. One significant drawback is their reduced stopping power compared to their larger-caliber counterparts. Larger-caliber handguns are capable of producing larger exit wounds and inflicting greater damage, making them more effective in quickly incapacitating a threat. In contrast, smaller calibers require precise shot placement as their stopping power diminishes with caliber size.
To compensate for the tradeoff in stopping power, proper bullet selection becomes crucial when using small-caliber handguns. Due to their lower cross-section and velocity, smaller caliber bullets tend to have limited expansion. However, bullet manufacturers have made significant advancements in engineering bullets for maximal expansion, penetration, and overall performance in small-caliber projectiles. Conducting thorough research on bullet selection can help offset some of the limitations associated with smaller calibers.
Another drawback of smaller-caliber handguns is their ergonomic fit, particularly for individuals with average to larger-than-average hand sizes. When deploying a pistol in a defensive situation, achieving a proper grip and quickly indexing the pistol to the target can become challenging with smaller firearms. Realistic range time and practice are crucial in addressing these issues. If you carry a small-caliber handgun in your bug-out bag, it is essential to allocate time for practicing scenarios that you anticipate encountering in real-world situations. Engaging in range drills, such as drawing from the bag and engaging targets at close distances of 3 to 7 yards, can help improve your proficiency. It is advisable to begin these drills with an empty pistol and practice dry-firing until you feel comfortable drawing a loaded handgun from the bag. As a safety precaution, always keep the loaded pistol holstered while it is inside the bag to ensure the trigger remains covered.
By considering these limitations and actively engaging in realistic practice, you can mitigate some of the drawbacks associated with small-caliber handguns, enhance your proficiency, and make more informed decisions when utilizing them in a survival context.
Evaluating a few small caliber handguns for your survival kit
When it comes to selecting small-caliber handguns for your bug-out bag, there are several exceptional choices available. Let’s explore some of the top options, listed in no particular order, that offer reliable performance and compactness.
Glock G42: The Glock series has long been favored by military, law enforcement, and civilian users. The slim G42 is the smallest pistol ever produced by Glock, measuring 5.9 inches in length, 4.1 inches in height, and under an inch in width. It offers excellent reliability, a good magazine capacity, and incorporates the renowned Glock Safe Action System. With a 6+1 magazine capacity and optional night sights, the G42 is an ideal bug-out bag companion.
SIG P238: The SIG P238 combines a stainless slide with an alloy frame, offering durability and all-weather capabilities. With additional options like a Cerakote finish, tritium sights, and weighing only 15 ounces, this compact pistol is a reliable choice. The P238 features a 1911-style action, making it suitable for those accustomed to carrying or using 1911-style single-action semiautomatic pistols in cocked-and-locked mode (Condition One).
Colt .380 Mustang Pocketlite: The Colt Mustang has earned its reputation as a reliable and well-made pistol over decades. It offers consistent controls similar to its full-sized 1911-style counterpart, making it a suitable choice for those already familiar with the platform. The Mustang Lite variant features a polymer frame for even lighter weight, an ambidextrous thumb safety, and an accessory rail for attaching small lasers.
Kahr CT380: The Kahr CT series provides multiple options for small-sized double-action-only (DAO) pistols chambered in .380 ACP. These pistols offer decent stopping power in a reliable package. With a capacity of 6+1 rounds and a polymer frame paired with a stainless slide, the CT380 is corrosion-resistant, ensuring durability even in wet conditions.
Ruger LC380: Ruger’s LC380 semiautomatic pistol operates in a double-action-only (DAO) mode, featuring a small form factor. While the blued steel construction may be susceptible to rust, the pistol compensates with three-dot sights, a 7+1 capacity, and outstanding reliability. Ruger also provides options for fiber-optic three-dot sights, tritium sights, and tactical lights to enhance versatility.
NAA-380 Guardian: The NAA-380 Guardian boasts a 6+1 cartridge capacity and is constructed entirely from stainless steel. Available in a double-action-only (DAO) configuration, this well-made pistol offers great value for its price.
While small-caliber handguns have their advantages, it’s important to consider that larger-caliber bug-out guns can offer similar capacities but in a larger size, with more recoil, weight, and occupying more space in the bag. If you have sufficient room and opt for larger calibers, full-sized 1911-style guns or striker-fired, double-stacked pistols with increased magazine capacity, such as the Glock M22, SIG P226, or Smith & Wesson M&P, could be appealing options.
Ultimately, the choice of a small or large-caliber bug-out gun depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the available space in your bug-out bag. Assessing your requirements and considering the trade-offs will aid in selecting the ideal handgun for your survival preparations.
Picking the right ammo
When considering a small-caliber bug-out gun, it is crucial to discuss the ammunition selection. In the case of .380 ACP chambering, choosing the most effective round is essential. The primary goal in an armed confrontation is to halt the threat, making bullet placement and performance critical factors.
As the caliber size decreases, the importance of bullet performance and placement increases, creating an inverse relationship. Let’s explore some recommended ammunition options for .380 ACP pistols.
Hornady .380 Auto 90-grain XTP: This ammunition from Hornady offers reliable feeding, good expansion, and excellent penetration. It is designed to deliver effective stopping power in defensive situations.
Black Hills .380 60-grain Extreme Defense and 90-grain JHP: Black Hills provides two excellent options for .380 ACP. Their 60-grain Extreme Defense rounds offer reliable performance, while the 90-grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) delivers solid expansion and stopping power.
Barnes TAC-XPD Defense 80-grain: Barnes manufactures high-quality defense ammunition, and their 80-grain TAC-XPD rounds for .380 ACP are no exception. These rounds offer reliable feeding, good expansion, and penetration, making them a viable choice for self-defense.
Federal Hydra-Shok 90-grain and HST 99-grain: Federal is known for producing a wide range of exceptional performance rounds for the .380 ACP. Their Hydra-Shok 90-grain and HST 99-grain rounds are proven performers, offering reliable feeding, controlled expansion, and reliable terminal ballistics.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to selecting the best pistol for a bug-out gun. The ideal choice depends on factors such as the size of your bag and personal shooting preferences. It is advisable to try out different pistols from your collection or borrow handguns from shooting buddies to determine which option works best for your specific situation. Conducting hands-on testing and evaluation will help you make an informed decision.
Suggested prepping learning: