Guns For the Bug-Out Bag

Many of you know but I’m not a big fan of the bug-out survival strategy. In a nutshell you’re voluntarily becoming, a refugee, but looking at the recent disasters in New Orleans and Haiti it is obvious that some sort of bug-out bagbug-out bag and strategy is not only feasible but required for anyone who is prepared.

Read more at MD’s blog.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • J Fulkerson

    I enjoy these discussions if for no other reason than the intellectual debate. Like firearms themselves, there are always trade offs in these discussions.
    My four BOB gun ideas and rationales:
    1. Remington 870 12 gauge pump – reliable, readily available ammo everywhere, parts and barrels available and easily interchangable, lethal and can be used effectively for hunting.
    2. Glock 21 – .45 ACP handgun, proven reliability, ammo available, easily cleaned. What’s there not to love?
    3. M1 Garand – yes, a Garand. Easy to shoot, ammo available, easily cleaned with boiling water if needed, powerful round, simple operation. In a bug out scenario, you are not likely to defend a fortified position that requires lots of rounds.
    4. M1A – my personal favorite and my “oh SH*T” weapon of choice. I cannot think of any problem that can’t be solved with a M1A and all the ammo I can carry. Yes, weight is a problem but it can be used in sniping, CQB and hunting roles.

  • Bandito762

    As I do not normally read the other blog I am going to post my personal choices here. In a bug out situation I would assume that reliability of the guns themselves and availability of ammo are going to be important things to consider. Even if the Bag is only for a few days, in a situation where I am grabbing guns and running I would want to be prepared for the long haul. Couple that with my location, we’ll say the Midwest to remain slightly anonymous and my choices are narrowed to these:

    Remington 870-reliable, no too complex that field repairs can’t be made, good for hunting, ammo can be “borrowed” from local Walmart, police station, farm house, and it makes that sweet cha chick noise, too!

    Glock in 9mm-as much as I hate Glock, I have to admit they are reliable, and again ammo and spare parts can be “borrowed” from aforementioned locations. Honestly thought this one would stay in the backpack or with the little lady until absolutely necessary for me to use.

    1911 in .45-This one would stay on the belt. Reliable, powerful, and field tested for almost 100 years.

    Folding Stock AK in 7.62×39-The stock example of reliability and simplicity. Field repairs can definitely be made (see the Maoist’s hand making the things) and ammo is so cheap it can be stockpiled. Chosen over the AR because it may be a long time before you get a chance to clean it. Although I would never do this in a normal situation, it can also sit for like 30 years after shooting without being cleaned. You would be a fool to bug out without one.

  • Okki

    I was hoping for a bit more substance in the liked post, but it’s an interesting conversation either way.

    What I believe most people forget is that likely you will NOT be in a vehicle very long. In mass migrations, the roads will clog up with dead vehicles and thus you will likely not drive out of the disaster area unless you are leaving early.

    Once shit has hit the fan, or as in the case of Katrina, roads are unpassible, you will likely end up walking. If you are lucky, you may forage (steal) a vehicle later. In either case, lots of heavy ammo like 5.56 and 7.62 will quickly diminish your ability to carry more important items like food and, even more importantly, water.

    All that said, between splitting loads between people in your party, there may be options. In most cases I would argue for a single caliber for multiple weapons (like PS90 with Five-Seven, Kriss Super V and .45 handgun, etc); my initial choice would be a .22LR carbine/rifle and a Walther P22. It serves both hunting and protection duty. That said; I would carry my Walther P99 (9MM) as well, but with more limited ammo.

    I do like the suggestion that the content of you bag and choice of weapon are both origination AND destination driven. Someone in the SoCal desert will have different requirements than the Mid-Westor the far North or open plains.

  • Lance

    THats why you keep MREs and food you grow in storage for emergancies.

  • Okki


    Sounds like you are more referring to a “bug-in” scenario compared to a “bug-out” scenario. Either way, if the scenario is one of an bacteriological event (pandemic/bio-terrorism) you should expect a 90 day event duration. I don’t think that a lot of people are going to be stocking up for 90 days of food and water for their entire family.

    Traveling alone, with a spouse, or with an entire family (spouse + kids) significantly changes the dynamics. Also the level of will-power and physical condition plays a large role.

    Aside from the obvious food/water/medication/weapon, you may be carrying clothing, shelter (tent/tarp), knive(s), compass, map…. the list is longer than just your gun and ammo.

    As I mentioned in my first comment, the timing of your bugging-out also plays a major role in that your support structure once you are on the road will be significantly different depending on the type of event that caused the situation. In other words; once you’ve run out of supplies and need to leave; most places surrounding you will have already been scavenged, foraged, looted, spoiled and thus you will have a harder time “resupplying” yourself as you move.

  • jdun1911

    There are so many different version of TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) that it is very hard to prepare for all.

    Travel light is my general philosophy. No 15lbs rifle and 20lbs of ammo on your back. You won’t make it far IMO.

    General items that you should need.
    1. Knife
    2. First Aid or trauma kit. Trauma kit is the better of the two. Both weight about the same.
    3. light .22lr rifle or 9mm (or whatever caliber is abundant) pistol (for urban) but not both. I stick with a light weight .22lr rifle 9 out of 10 time tho. Tube feed magazine is better then box version.
    4. Maps and at least two compass. Having two or more compass will shut up the SOB in the back of your mind telling you that your primary compass is broken
    5. Small magnesium fire starter. They cost less then $5 and work very well even if it is wet.
    6. A large plastic durable warping that can cover your body against insects/rain and can double as a blanket/tent.
    7. Paracord.
    8. A light weight small cooking pan.

  • Matthew

    Weapon-wise off the top of my head…

    I would opt for an Armalite variant & quality pistol first, but realize the importance of mobility. That being said any of the below would fit the bill..

    Noveske N4/KAC SR-15 E3/ KAC SR-25

    Glock 17/SIG P226/ H&K Mk.23

    Quality Knives & Machete.

    Other options: Benelli M4, 870MCS, 10/22, Suppressed Mk3, CZ 452FS, SAKO TRG-22..

  • El Duderino

    If you just need a bug out bag to get to your well-stocked retreat, that’s much different than one meant to allow you to survive indefinitely. IMO the latter is unreasonable unless you plan on living like a caveman after a week or so. My emphasis in a bug-out situation is protecting me and my family, not living off the land forever.

    Kel-Tec SU-16C or CA (very light weight)

    Quality pistol in a common caliber (Mine is a P220 .45)

    Mossberg 500 12g in a shotgun scabbard

  • David

    My wife, 13 year old son and I would carry a Ruger Single Six, a 22/45 and a 10/22 rifle all in .22LR (and all Rugers, too. Hmmm.) We’d split up a thousand rounds of ammo between the three of us.

  • Timmy

    I have a Springfield M6 .22/.410 that I carry in a Voodoo Tactical shotgun scabbard that’s attached to the side of my pack. Also included in my gear is a Ruger Single Six in .22/.22mag. I keep the mag cylinder in the gun, as a well placed shot from it will take down pretty much anything in my area, people included. These things are in my truck at all times, so no matter where I’m at I have at least that much. I also have a cwp so I normally have either a Colt Defender in .45acp or a Kahr PM9 in .9mm. If I’m at home when all hell breaks loose, I’m going to grab my AR as well.

  • Henry

    For firearms I would choose:

    -Remington 870 Express synthetic with 2 shot extension (100 extra rounds 50/50 slug and 00 Buck)

    -Glock 17 olive drab with extended magazine release, extended slide
    release, grip tape, & nite sites (7 magazines with 300 extra rounds)

    -Kel-tec SUB-2000 in 9mm using 33rd glock mags (x6) and 200 extra rounds

    The Remington 870 is extremely reliable.

    The Glock……… comment needed

    The nice thing about the Kel-tec is that it takes Glock magazines and if the Glock 17 malfunctions (heaven forbid) you could use the 17rd pistol magazines as well as the 33rd magazines. It also folds into a nice compact package which could be placed anywhere.

  • Michael

    For most bug out scenario’s I would imagine that you wouldn’t need a firearm or if you did you might not need it immediately. Given however that you never know just how bad things are gonna get when you bug out its best to be prepared and bring them just in case, better to be safe then sorry right lol. So with that I personally have a bug out bag as well as a bug out weapons kit that I keep separate but both ready to go at all times. For mot situations I would bring what ever weapons at least initially in my vehicle with me just like I was going to the range and that is unloaded and in a case with the ammo, mags and cleaning supplies separate. However if things began to deteriorate or work all ready bad when I left the house to begin with I would braek’em out and load’em up. The guns that I would bring are all chosen with respect to the type of scenarios that my happen, their immediate and long term effects as well as ware I am going and how far I have to go. Also lets not forget how we plan to get there, the people and animals we may encounter along the way. With this in mind I would bring three firearms ad sufficient ammo as well as cleaning equipment for all three.

    The Guns are as follows:

    1. .22LR Marlin Model 60 for use as a primary hunting weapon along with 500 rds of ammo. I like this gun because it is reliable, accurate and light weight. Its ammo is easy to come buy for cheap and do not take up much space or weight, both of which are at a premium in any bug out situation. The rifle can strap easily to my pack with a condom over the muzzle to keep out rain so it is out of my way until needed for hunting.

    2. Smith & Wesson M&P15 AR 15 rifle in 5.56mm NATO for use as a primary defense weapon along with 210 rds of M855 FMJs from Israeli Military Industries in 7 30 round STANAG mags. I go with this over other rifles that I own because this rifle and its ammo are both fairly light weight and they are both very popular. This fact makes it easy to find parts and ammo for the gun as it is used roundly by not only civilians but also law enforcement and the Military (M16-M4). The gun is pretty reliable as long as its kept clean and my OTIS cleaning kit which is also light and compact makes this possible. Also the 556 is powerful enough for most civilian self defense situations. It also must be said that the rifle its self is pretty compact and has a certain stage presence that in its self may deter would be bad actors.

    3. Glock Modal 23 40 S&W as a sidearm along with 50rds of Federal JHPs. I like this because again it is light and compact. It is also proven reliable as hell and accurate enough.

    That all said it is important to take into consideration how I would carry all this in addition to my pack wile on foot for that I have a load baring rig with attached thigh drop holster on the right let and drop mag holder on my left leg from Blackhawk tactical. The mag holder on my left leg has three mag pouches which can hold three AR mags a piece and two pistol mag pouches as well. Both the holster and the mag holder connect to the load bearing rig by way of a strap at the top and to my thigh by way of a strap at the bottom. They both also fit nicely right at the position of my hands at full extent to my side. The load bearing rig has suspenders style straps that go over the shoulder and I put a D ring on the right shoulder strap so I can hook my AR 15 to it by way of the sling mount on the back of the collapsing stock. I also have the same type of set up on my backs shoulder strap which fits nicely over the load righ when the rifles not attached. The D ring makes the AR hang beautifully right ware I can bring it up to bare on target at the right location in my shoulder so it so comfortable and I can get quick sight picture an target acquisition.

    Well that’s my my bug out gun plan and I hope I never have to put it into action but its nice to know its there if I ever need too God forbid.

  • short

    Taurus judge .45 and .410 shot shell

    Henry big boy .45

    Marlin 1895 45-70 government

  • SwatMedic

    I live in bear country. But I do not carry a gun that will defend against bears because I believe, though I have not experienced this myself, that bear mace is far more effective then a 12 gauge. So for my bug out bag I carry Bear mace (works amazingly on people as well!), Glock 23 .40 on my right hip (for defense) and .22lr single action revolver on my left hip (used for hunting, Its better than carrying a large rifle around).

  • norse Bullman

    Ruger sr9c – 9 mm
    AK-47 – 7.62X39
    Glock 10 mm
    saiga 12 modified shotgun


    I am a firm believer, that at some point in the near future, whether it be due to a natural disaster, invasion, martial law, or economic crash, we should all be prepared. So, I not only have prepared a bug out bag, but a bug out location as well, and seperate bug out bags for each of my children, and each of us carry a portion of fresh dog food for our dogs. (I own and run my own small steel fabrication business and I have two security command trained Pit-bull’s.) Everything is in there from protien bars, protien powders, water purifier tablets, maps, matches, lighters, butane and butane lighter, flashlights, 2, double bagged change of under garments each, BDU’s and camo coveralls, extra shoe/boot strings, magnifier glass, maps, fishing gear (line, hooks, etc) & compass.As well as a prepared bag of silver coin, bars, rounds; gold – scrap and rounds for barter of goods in the event of an economic collapse, in the safe above the bug out bags.
    As far as my weapons are concerned, I have a very simple principle I applied to it. 1) Reliability, 2) Functionality, & 3) Readily available supply of ammunition. (such as in a catastrophy, if you have to kick in the hardware store door to get supplies to stay alive, the likelihood of the caliber of ammo I need being present is greater.) Therefore, I have compiled a list of weapons, stocked and ready to go.
    1) Springfield Armory Tactical Elite, Stainless Steel 1911, .45, with wrap around “finger groove” Hogue grips. I have 25 magazines loaded, and two boxes of 100 rounds of ammo as back up. (Cor-bon .45 + P) Carried in a shoulder holster.
    2) Beretta 92FS, 9mm, with the same style of Hogue wrap around “finger groove” grips. I have both factory mags, 10 extra magazines, and 2 boxes of 100 rounds of ammo as back up. (Cor-bon 9mm + P) Carried in a thigh tactical holster on my right leg.
    —-These two are for up close (handgun range) protection/defense.—-
    3) Ruger “Single-Six”, single action .22, w/ .22 MAG cylinder. I have about 500 rounds in the bag, and carry it in a “high riding” hip holster. I currently and have in the past, carried this squirel and deer hunting. (Deer to pop neusance animals w/out spooking the game for the rest of the day, just a quiet “pop”. This was included to allow for small game hunting/snake repelant, without giving away our position.
    4) Browning A-Bolt Hunter, 30-06 with a Bushnell scope, sighted in at 200 yards. I have only 5 boxes of ammo packed for this, as it would only be carried to the first bug out location and used to bring down game or hostiles at long range. Packed on me across my back via sling.
    5) (Mind you this is NOT my desire, but in case of an emergency, live or die, I choose life, so…) I have two 30/30 rifles, one Winchester, one Marlin, both equiped with Bushnell scopes, sighted in at 75 yards, with 10 boxes packed for each. (10 in my oldest son’s bug out bag, 10 in my middle son’s bug out bag). *DISCLAIMER- I do not let my sons have the guns in their rooms, or the ammunition, or the bags period as they do contain a knife and fishing line and hooks, etc, nor would I under normal circumstances let them take off walking with a loaded 30/30.
    6) Remington 870 – 12 ga. w/ 18 1/2″ barrel. Loaded with 00 Buckshot with 60 rounds in my old military issue magazine holder (each pouch holds 3 rounds, 20 pouches) and 2 boxes of 25 rounds, 1 of #6 shot, 1 of #8 shot, and a couple of boxes of buckshot and slugs.
    7) Stoger Double Barrel – 12 ga., short barrel, “Stagecoach” model, This will be carried out to our bug out location by my oldest daughter, again see above disclaimer, and I hate to admit it, she’s as good a shot as I am. I chose a Dbbl. Barrel for her due to its ease of opperation and consistant reliability.
    8) Smith & Wesson, Model 10, .38 Special, made in 1914. It was owned by a police officer in Louisville, KY that my grandfather knew and bought it off of him to keep on the farm for ma’amaw and dad. It’s been passed down to me, and it has NO tactical purpose, other than it’s going to be in the bag, with 1 box of .38, FMJ rounds. It’s my last resort. If I see I am going to go down, either from societies collapse or home land intrusion, after all the other rounds are spent, as they kick in the door (if they can find it) they’ll be met with as many rounds from her as I can squeeze off).
    I have found that, in trial runs, everyone packing their own bags to the bug out location, with the dogs and their packs on them, the weight was not an issue (I’m six foot,two inches, and weigh about 240, former military, and work daily with steel and alloys – and I OBVIOUSLY pack the kids’ with just their changes of clothes, fishing equip (line, hooks, etc) a knife, water purifier tablets, protien bars, pop tarts, and as few boxes of ammo as possible. (It’s A LOT easier having two, 80lb. trained dogs with custom fit bug out packs on them as well to help carry the load. We ran through secenerios (all in a protected, legal manner, with life size paper targets, with eye and ear), as stated, I am former military and qualified expert with the 92FS, have shot a 1911 for 25 years now and that Springfield can flat drive tacks, they both preformed exceptional in practice, I also qualified expert with my rifle, M16 A1, so the long range and medium range rifles did exactly as expected, and of course you can never blow up enough clay targets with the shot guns. I then had my kids sit in the shade as I went about 20 yards into the woods, I was up on a ridge and could still see them, shot away from them with the .22 to judge the sound, and it was as I expected, a soft pop.
    If I had to shed and run, I would keep the Springfield in shoulder holster, Beretta in thigh combat holster, the .22 on my belt, Remington 870 in hand to carry, and sling a 30/30 across my back and keep a box of ammo each. If you don’t have the luxury of 2 pack dogs or family to help, I would trust my life to a .45 ACP, 1911 style, Beretta 9mm, a 12 ga. pump, and a 30/30. All of those rounds are exceptionally readily available – .45’s are everywhere, as are 9mm, 12 ga. and believe it or not, there are more varieties of 30/30 rounds at Gander Mt. here than any other caliber.
    I know this was lengthy, but I see so many people coming up with great ideas….on paper, but in practice/reality, just wouldn’t work out all that well, as well as no one explaining their ideas and positions, so I wanted to give the logic behind my choices. From a former military, combat MOS, with a small team to complete our missions – not special forces ie SEALS, Delta, or Marine Corps Recon, but we’ll leave it there, you find what you are comfortable with operating and using in all three areas, close quarters combat, medium target engagement, or long range target engagement, and if you are so trained and confident, means for hand to hand combat. I wouldn’t suggest a 120 lb. man or woman, carry a .45 Tactical Elite with a 5 inch barrel, no means of concealing it, and the weight of it alone would wear them down along with everything else they are carrying, so as with my girl-friend, she has a baby Glock, and a Ruger SP101 in .357 Mag, but carries .38 + P in it. That’s what she’s comfortable with. If you are comfortable with it, you are able to work the action, trouble shoot, and are accurate, GO WITH IT! When you’re looking for scraps to eat, who cares what dude over there is carrying, you gotta survive! You wouldn’t be able to take game for food if you can’t hit the blasted target!
    The last bit of advice, or opinion I could give is THROW SOME LEAD! Go practice, burn through some rounds, if the gun fails better to know now than in a situation where it is life or death to use it. If you purchase high quality weapons, you won’t hurt them, even lower end Bersa Thunder .380’s are rated at something like 30-40k rounds before failure. Practice “Bugging-In”, “Bugging-Out”, and practicle scenerios for survival.