Homestead Firearms

The decision to buy a gun is a weighty one. Should you conclude you need homestead firearms, the information in this article will help you choose the tool intelligently and use it safely and well.


| January/February 1981



067 homestead firearms 01

The only way to learn to "shoot where it's gonna be" is to practice.


PHOTO: GARY KENT

EDITOR'S NOTE: Although the purchase of homestead firearms has occasionally been recommended in our Economic Outlook columns— and such weapons have been mentioned in any number of our feature articles over the years—until now MOTHER EARTH NEWS has never published any piece specifically about guns. However, the fact is that this has always been a magazine devoted to presenting alternatives rather than to preaching. That's why we can run articles praising vegetarian living and stories describing how to raise meat animals in the same issue.  

Well, many folks who head back to the land do feel the need to own weapons, and an inappropriate firearm in the hands of someone who isn't aware of how to maintain it or use it safely can be terribly dangerous. So we decided to provide some basic information for those readers who might profit from it. If you are confirmed in your choice never to own a firearm, be assured that MOTHER EARTH NEWS respects your decision. On the other hand, if you think you should own a gun, we respect that decision too, and suggest you read what Gary Kent—experienced shooter and regular contributor to outdoor and firearm-enthusiast publications—has to say.  

When a family moves from the city or suburbs to the country, its members will quickly recognize the need to buy, swap for, or otherwise acquire tools that they aren't necessarily familiar with. Some of the items are simple. Others are complicated, powerful, and perhaps intimidating. In either case, the family must first choose which devices are truly necessary, and then learn to use the tools safely. Many country dwellers soon find that one such necessary implement is a firearm.

Tools, of course, are devices that help men and women do work. And a gun is a tool that's uniquely suited to three specific jobs: protecting people, protecting crops and livestock, and putting food on the table.

In the Home

The decision to keep a gun for home protection should not be made lightly. Before making up your mind, you'll have to face squarely the idea that—if you do keep a gun for self-defense—you might someday (although the likelihood is very small) actually have to shoot someone. And if you think the matter through and come to the conclusion that you couldn't fire at another human being, even if he or she were threatening your life or the lives of your family, then don't keep a gun for protection. Bluffing with an unloaded firearm, or with one you don't intend to use, could very well cause a tragedy where one might not otherwise have occurred.

If you do decide to keep a gun for defense, however, it's critical that you select the right kind of weapon and that you know how to use it well and safely.

mikewinva
8/4/2013 7:36:36 PM

I am what you could refer to as a firearms expert.

I agree that a shotgun is the most versatile of long arms to own.  However, a pump action can be had for a similar price and is a better all around weapon.  A double is great for bird hunting, but for home or predator defense a pump action is much better.  Additionally, most pump actions can swap out barrels allowing for choked bores with shot and cylinder bore with slugs.  Most pump actions have a capacity of 5 to 7 shells and can be kept loaded with rounds in the tube magazine and an empty chamber, this cannot be done on a double.

As to rifles, for ease of handling, a lever action or pump action should also be considered.  The mechanism is a bit more mechanically complex than a bolt action, but very reliable.  They can be had in calibers from .22 up to .50 caliber, from rabbit to rhino sized game.  The advantage with a lever action over a bolt is the ability to fire a followup shot more rapidly as the loading mechanism can be cycled faster than a bolt action and without losing your sight picture on the target.  A good marksman with a lever or pump action is only marginally slower on followup shots than a semiautomatic.  30-30 would be a good caliber east of the Mississippi and  35 Remington west of the Mississippi.

For hand guns I would recommend a double action, .357 caliber, medium frame revolver made by either Smith and Wesson or Ruger with a 4 to 6 inch barrel.  Revolvers are inherently more reliable than magazine fed pistols and can fire a wide range of ammunition from low powered suitable for small game to high powered suitable for black bear.  This was the standard sidearm for the FBI and many state police departments for 50 years and to date is has the highest statistic for one shot stops.

Used firearms can be had for 45 to 60% of new, and if sold by a reputable gun shop they have been inspected thoroughly and test fired.  Avoid pawnshops for this reason.  For quality reasons also avoid firearms made in South America.  Domestically made shotguns, rifles and revolvers are usually good quality.  In actuality, the older the firearm typically the better the quality, assuming it has been maintained and in good condition.


wanda losher
9/22/2012 3:37:53 PM

Thank you for this informative article. I, for one, appreciate MEN for finally publishing an article about firearms and firearm safety. I personally have a 12 gauge shotgun with birdshot for home protection. I also own a pellet gun for my little urban homestead with which i've killed my share of opposum and rat. I 'really' would have loved to have gotten the skunk that got my dog, but alas he has elluded me. Prior to getting chickens, I didn't care what got into my yard. But with livestock comes responsibility to keep them alive. My firearms, safely used, are the tools i use for this purpose.






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