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How to Choose the Best Bug Out Gun

5D Tactical - 9th Nov 2022

Preppers might bring to mind a ridiculous image of some reality tv show where a guy builds a castle in the middle of nowhere or a middle-aged woman named Cynthia forces her kids on the weekend to load a trailer and inflate kayaks to paddle down a creek while she times them and reminds them that the heavens are imploding above them.

While that might be humorous and we’re sure it’s some peoples’ idea of prepping, the reality of what preppers actually do is far more simple - be prepared to go or to stay in the event of an emergency or catastrophe. In these uncertain times who can blame anyone for wanting to protect their family and themselves? While we certainly can buy inflatable bumper boats or build a castle if you like - most preppers just keep a bug out bag. An integral part of that bag is the perfect weapon for as many scenarios as possible. Let’s look at some ideas and things to consider when building the best bug out gun.

What is your Bug out Environment?

The most important thing to keep in mind when building the best bug out gun is your environment. Will you be hunkering down in an urban area? Leaving an urban area for a rural area? The single most important thing to consider when choosing what your bug out gun will be is the environment.

If you live in a more rural area perhaps it makes more sense to utilize a longer rifle such as an AR-15 or AR-10 so it may be used to hunt game as well as defend ourselves. Consider the distances shots might be taken while planning for the caliber and barrel length you might be using.

Folks in urban areas might consider a PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine) or AR-15 pistol. The smaller size allows them to be stored easily in a bug out bag or stashed in a vehicle. One interesting thing to consider with some AR-9/PCC guns is that many will accept Glock magazines. This can be incredibly handy if our sidearm will be a Glock anyway. Same magazines for both guns = less weight and more room in the bug out bag for other life-saving essentials.

Things to Consider

Consider everything we just discussed. What are some features that will matter when choosing or building the perfect bug out gun? Let’s look at a few points to consider:

  • Lightweight - weight is pain. Weight slows down our movements and can exhaust us even more with a heavy bug out bag on our backs.
  • Maneuverability - For many defense situations (and urban situations) smaller is better.
  • Ammo weight - Let’s face it, carrying 150 rounds of 5.56 is going to be much lighter than 150 rounds of .308.
  • Environment - where we’ll be bugging out to. Distance shots might be taken?
  • Hunting - will the weapon be used to hunt? What animals might we encounter to take for food? Caliber will matter here too.
  • Barrel Length - Can you afford the weight and the cumbersome-ness of a long barrel? Or will you need a shorter barrel due to a more urban environment?

AR Platforms as Bugout Guns

“America’s Rifle”. There is nothing more deserving of that title than the AR-15. The AR-15 is versatile, easy to shoot, and highly customizable. The AR PLATFORM (9mm, .308 etc) can be even more versatile.The beauty of this platform runs deep, but it isn’t something that is one-sided. You'd be hard-pressed to find another weapons platform that can do so much.

SHTF (Sh!t Hits The Fan) Gun? Check. Urban bug out scenario? Check. Rural bug out? Check. Fold one up and put it in our bugout bag? All of this is - yes. The AR platform is arguably the most versatile platform on the planet. Literally everything on the gun can be customized and changed to fit the shooter. Long-distance? Urban Warfare? Self-Defense? The AR still is the undisputed world champion in modularity for a weapons platform and that is one reason it is amazing for a bug out bag.

Advantages of an AR-15

From an AR rifle to an AR pistol, the practicality of the platform is unmatched. The AR Platform may be had in a wide variety of calibers but don't understate the ability to have a highly customizable platform that also has the ability to fire a rifle round in a pistol platform. The AR-15 is a superb weapon that may be used for hunting and defense. If we add an AR15 Folding stock the gun becomes very compact as well! Look into companies such as Law Tactical for adaptors to use your AR15 folding stock. Some advantages of having an AR-15 as a bug out gun:

  • Versatility - nearly every configuration imaginable is possible
  • Portability and maneuverability
  • Readily available ammunition
  • Plethora of available calibers for any use
  • Lightweight (consider how much ammo you can or should carry)

Advantages of an AR-10

When speaking about the AR-platform as a bug out gun or SHTF gun it is easy to get stuck on the AR-15 and forget about the other variants of the platform such as the AR-10. AR-10’s may be had in several calibers (technically) but are most commonly chambered in .308 Winchester.

The superior stopping power of the .308 Winchester compared to the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO is only one advantage to keep in mind. Let’s have a look at a few more:

  • Stopping power
  • Longer range
  • Better for big game hunting in rural settings
  • .308 is still a very commonly used caliber with plenty of availability
  • Still includes all the modularity of the AR-15 platform

Advantages of an AR-9

When portability matters it is hard to beat the AR-9! AR-9 platforms may be easily folded into most backpacks making them a great option for a SHTF gun!

Upgrades to Have on a Bugout Gun

Since we've gone over the environment we will be bugging out into (or bugging in), it’s now important to build our AR-15 Bug out gun to make sure it is the Swiss Army Knife of guns - doing exactly what we’ll need it to do. We need to take some time to list out every potential use of the bug out gun. Some accessories that need to be considered:

  • Optics - Scope or Red Dot
  • Foregrip
  • Tactical Flashlight
  • Back-up Iron Sights
  • Sling
  • Build Your Next Bug Out AR15 with 5D Tactical!

    Thanks for checking out our intro to choosing your ideal bug out gun setup for when SHTF. While we all hope something like this is never necessary, building and shooting your own AR-15 has no real downside - even if you never have to use it for bugging out. Great fun at the range and home defense are always perks when it comes to building that perfect AR-15.

    While you are here why not check out our handy AR build kits and start building your very own bug out gun? Stay tuned for more prepping and bug out advice here at 5D Tactical.