Preppers: How Many Firearms Do You Really Need


Some people may believe the more firearms they have the less reloading they would have to do, and the bigger force they can repel. Of course, this only works in reality, if all of the firearms you have are all chambered for the same rounds, you have a person behind each weapon, and they are all lined up as the firefight starts.

It would be difficult and expensive to stockpile ammunition for all of the various weapons you may think you would need. You may think you can, but when you have to bug-out or simply have to move your firing position several hundred yards, you can only carry one or two along with ammunition, and the rest of your arsenal is left behind.

Having an arsenal in the basement is more psychological than practical unless you have the personnel capable of using all those weapons at the same time. Once again, you would have to stockpile adequate ammunition for all weapons and each person would have to be trained on all weapons as well.

Certain firearms are essentially a club unless in the hands of a skilled shooter, how many skilled shooters can you bring to bear once you are under attack.

Soldiers and law enforcement personnel carry one, possibly two weapons, but they also operate as a unit so each team member can bring a weapon to bear as needed. You can only fire one at a time, and thinking you can drop it and grab another to continue the fight is thinking that can only come out of Hollywood.

In days past pioneers used muzzleloaders and yes they had multiple weapons on hand, all the same caliber of course. Shooters fired, and others loaded and handed the weapon off, this is the only way to sustain fire when the firearms used are single shot.

You may be thinking you can call on friends and neighbors to use all of the firearms you have stockpiled, and you may imagine all of you gathered at the gun ports fighting off the common enemy.

Why would you allow anyone access to your arsenal, your friends and neighbors may very well turn those weapons on you, because your stockpile of supplies may be bigger than theirs (stockpile envy). As far as a common enemy there may not be one, your enemy will change from day to day in many cases, and they may be people living in your community.

What Do You Need

First, you need firearms that all members of the family or group can use effectively. You may be able to withstand the recoil from a 12-gauge shotgun but others may not, so keep this in mind. Others may not be able to effectively use heavy caliber handguns especially revolvers because the trigger pull may be too heavy for example.


You can choose automatic or pump action and those not as familiar with shotguns may find an automatic easier to fire but they do have their downfalls. The cycling of an automatic relies on the propellant’s load in the shell and there must be enough energy generated by the load to cycle the weapon to chamber a shell. Light loads can cause a short stroke that jams the weapon. If you load your own rounds and happen to load a few to light, then the shooter will have problems with a semi-automatic shotgun.

A pump action with a smooth bore is very common, you can fire practically any shell with any load, and you can send virtually any projectile down range that would fit in the shell. Rock salt is often times used as a non-lethal load or as a so-called varmint load. Shotguns with rifled barrels limit the type of ammunition you can fire.

A pump action, smooth bore shotgun can fire light loads such as non-lethal rounds, beanbag rounds, rubber shot and tear gas rounds, because the cycling relies on the muscle power of the shooter. In many cases, you can work through a jam much easier with a pump action.


It is recommended that you have several revolvers and/or semi-automatics on hand, and one for each member is ideal. Handguns can be carried concealed on the body and brought to bear rather quickly. The effective range of a handgun makes it suitable for close quarters combat. Handguns would be used once an aggressor is inside the perimeter of the home or in certain ambush situations.

Long Rifle

An AR-15 would pick up where a shotgun leaves off. The effective range of a standard AR-15 is between 400-600 meters, so it averages out to be around 500 plus yards. Keep in mind the effective range is what you can realistically hit a target at; this is not its maximum range. The effective range will vary and has much to do with the skill level of the shooter, weather conditions, and whether using open sights or a scope.

While the ranges do vary, you can expect a 300-meter effective range for the average shooter with limited training.  Remember you will not be the only one firing the weapon so prepare and set your range cards/fields of fire appropriately. In other words, set ranges according to the lowest skill level in your group and position shooters accordingly. Otherwise, you will have one or more shooters simply wasting ammunition and this could allow an attacking force to penetrate deeper inside the perimeter.

The AR-15 is ideal for perimeter security, and for personal defense in some cases. Keep in mind its range and round penetration when in close quarters combat. The rounds can easily penetrate walls and doors causing injury to others in the home or building or even in adjacent structures.

Because of new laws and the perception that an AR-15 is an assault rifle the pricing may be higher and ammunition and the weapon itself may be harder to obtain. The weapon is chambered for a 5.56mm/.223 caliber round. Law enforcement, military and various other organizations, such as Homeland Security all use the same round.

Heavy Caliber Long Range Rifle

A .30-06 comes to mind and it is an ideal hunting weapon for large game. Remember your firearms are not just for personal/home defense. You need a weapon suited for hunting large game and for protection from large four legged predators as well. The .30-06 is a common sniper caliber and most can be outfitted rather easily for longer range sniping if the need arises.

Therefore, the Question Is

The question of how many firearms you really need can be phrased another way and that is how many different types of firearms you need. You can of course have a dozen or more AR-15’s in the basement but realistically you have spent money that could have been used more effectively elsewhere.

You may be thinking that if one should malfunction then you have another, this is true but if a comet strikes your home, you do not have any more worries at all. If you find yourself coming up with too many “what ifs” then you are not thinking through the problem.  Use some common sense and do not try to rationalize stockpiling weapons. Yes you need them, but ask yourself how many and what type.

The list above is only a recommendation, but it shows you that you may not need as many as you may think. Learn how to maintain your firearms, and have the necessary parts on hand so if you do snap a firing pin or break a forearm you have the skills and parts to replace the damaged component.