Tag Archives: Survival Firearms

The Ultimate Survival Gun!

There is an never-ending debate in the preparedness world about whether or not the ultimate survival gun exists and what it may be. Of the many theories, there seems to be a bit of a lean towards the 12 Gauge Shotgun or .22 Caliber Rifle but I think I found the ultimate survival gun!

The X-Caliber by Chiappa Firearms is a two barrel, double trigger rifle in an over/under configuration which is chambered as a smooth bore 12 Gauge shotgun on top and a rifled .22 Long Rifle on bottom. The true “magic” (if you will) comes from the set of included adapters that make it the most flexible firearm available for almost any survival scenario. The 8 adapters included allow .380, 9 mm, .357 Mag/.38 Special, .40 S&W, .44 Mag, .45 ACP, .410 Gauge/.45 Colt and 20 Gauge to be fired out of the X-Caliber in addition to the primary offering of 12 Gauge and .22 Long Rifle. With a total availability of 12 different calibers, it very well could handle just about anything.

Not only is the X-Caliber capable of firing a myriad of cartridges, it is designed to be used as a survival rifle by integrating the ability to fold down to only 18.5 inches and the weight has been reduced by replacing the normal stock material with  polypropylene foam. This makes it capable of easily being transported in a backpack as part of a Bug Out Bag, Get Home Bag or other survival kit.

In addition to these features, the X-Caliber includes:

  • A space to hold 12 Gauge, .22 LR shells and cleaning kit inside of the stock.
  • Fixed optical fiber front sight and a rear sight that is adjustable for both windage and elevation to compensate for the caliber being used.
  • Three integrated picatinny rails to facilitate the mounting of optics, lights, etc.

What if you already have a 12 Gauge shotgun? No problem! The X-Caliber adapter set is available for purchase separately for use with a smooth bore 12 Gauge shotgun. I do feel that the use of these adapters will likely impact accuracy, especially at farther distances. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the X-Caliber rifle with complete insert set is $750 while the X-Caliber insert set alone is $450. There are cheaper firearms out there but not another one that I know of that can shoot such a variety of calibers.

What would your ultimate survival gun be?

.223 vs. 5.56 – What Is The Difference?

.223 vs. 5.56 – What Is The Difference?

The .223 and 5.56×45 NATO cartridges are nearly identical rounds that have led shooters toward countless debates, confusion, and frustration. But understanding the differences between these two rounds isn’t all that difficult when you cut you through the misinformation. In fact, with just a little background information about each cartridge and an understanding of how you plan to use your firearm, you’ll find yourself better prepared to make a decision between the two calibers. You’ll also know the risks, if any, of shooting a 5.56 round in a .223 chamber.

The History of .223 & 5.56

Remington submitted the .223 Remington round to SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute) in 1962 as a sporting round generally considered a varmint cartridge. Since then, .223 Rem ammunition really hasn’t changed in terms of cartridge dimensions or the pressure that it is loaded to, according to Gun Digest 2013. That makes sense, as SAAMI is pretty rigid with their testing and once a standard is set, it tends to remain that way for the life of a given caliber. While variances on the .223 Remington round have popped up, such as the .223 Wylde, which is a round many feel is a good compromise between the pressures and performance of .223 and 5.56, .223 Remington is far and away the most popular of the .223 calibers.

On the other hand, 5.56×45 NATO has never been submitted to SAAMI because it’s a military round, loaded to a military standard that is quite different from SAAMI’s standards. As you can imagine, military standards are very exact and quite rigid all over the world. That’s not to say military standards are better than SAAMI, it’s simply that the way they each measure different attributes of a round are different so you can’t truly stack the rounds side-by-side and understand the differences between them. This variance in standards plays a huge role in the confusion that surrounds the .223 vs. 5.56 debate today.

In summary, the military measures pressure one way and SAAMI measures pressure in a different manner so the two calculations can’t be compared side-by-side, helping spur more discussion, confusion, and even misinformation about these two calibers.

Are 5.56 and .223 Rounds Interchangeable?

In terms of the exterior dimensions, 5.56×45 and .223 cartridges are just about identical so there are not really any concerns about fitting each round in your chamber, it doesn’t matter if you’re chambered for .223 or 5.56, the round will likely load. However, pressure varies between the two rounds and that pressure change can be significant depending upon your firearm. Generally, 5.56×45 ammunition fires at a higher pressure than .223 Remington ammunition. A typical range round of 5.56×45 will hit a peak pressure of around 60,000 pounds per square inch while a comparable .223 cartridge’s peak pressure will be about 20-percent less.

To help function under those increased pressures, many 5.56 chambers are larger in critical areas than .223 chambers. Specifically, the area of the chamber known as the leade or throat of the barrel will be different. This throat or leade portion is the area of the barrel in front of the chamber just before the rifling begins. So, if you load the same exact round in both a .223 chambered firearm and a 5.56 firearm, the extra area in the 5.56 chamber will help safely handle the pressure loaded cartridge and potentially lead to less potential wear and tear than if you  fired the 5.56 NATO round in a .223 Rem firearm.

Also of note, odds are you’re going to get slightly faster muzzle velocities using 5.56×45 ammunition than you would if firing .223 Remington.

So what does it mean? For most shooters, the general rule of thumb as it relates to each round is that you should not fire 5.56 in a firearm chambered for .223 while you can safely fire .223 in a 5.56-chambered firearm.  But it’s not that cut and dried.

There are several cases where shooters have documented firing 5.56 in their .223 firearms with no major problems and while a major malfunction, such as an explosion is possible, it is extremely unlikely to happen. You see part of what led to this way of thinking is because of the SAAMI standards for testing. Given a highly pressurized barrel, 5.56 rounds in a .223-chambered firearm are not a great idea. Most civilian .223 rifles on the market today, however, are much more forgiving than the barrels used for SAAMI standard testing so you’re likely to not only avoid major malfunctions but you’ll likely not even be able to tell the difference when firing 5.56 in a .223 Remington chambered AR-15.

Keeping that in mind, if you are relying on an AR-15 in a survival situation, you will likely want to invest in ammunition that is ideally suited for your specific chamber. Because of the pressure each round is loaded and the tolerances accepted by most modern sporting rifle barrels, even if not ideal in terms of wear-and-tear, you will likely be able to effectively neutralize a target using either caliber.

How to Tell .223 Remington and 5.56×45 Cartridges Apart

So you’re stuck in a place where ammo is scare and you come across rounds that appear to be appropriate for your firearm. Since .223 and 5.56 are nearly identical in physical appearance, how do you know if it’s .223 Remington or 5.56×45 ammo? The quickest and easiest way is to examine the head of the cartridge. If it’s 5.56, it’ll be stamped be stamped with a NATO insignia, which looks like a circle with a plus sign (+) inside of it. If it’s .223 Remington, it’ll say .223 Rem.

Photo Credit: TheFiringLine.com
Photo Credit: TheFiringLine.com

So Which Caliber AR-15 is Better?

The short answer about which caliber is best for you depends on your particular needs. The .223 Remington is the mostly widely produced caliber and while you likely won’t want to fire 5.56 in your firearm often, in an emergency you could easily get away with firing a few hundred rounds if necessary. The bottom line is this: if you want to be as safe as possible, always shoot .223 Remington ammunition. The .223 Rem cartridges will safely fit and fire in any rifle chambered for either .223 or 5.56.

In terms of pricing, .223 ammunition and 5.56 ammo cost about the same amount per round and both are readily available most of the time on the U.S. civilian market. If you’re not sure what you’ll be using the firearm for, most shooters find 5.56 chambered firearms more appealing because of the flexibility they offer when it comes to firing either .223 or 5.56×45 rounds.

About the Author:

Mark Ollendale is a life-long shooter and firearms enthusiast obsessed with ammunition. Passionate about helping protect the 2nd Amendment while spreading the benefits of firearm ownership to new shooters young and old, Mark works for online ammo retailer AmmoForSale.com.

5 Common Survival Myths

I located these five common survival myths on the SurvivalState.com and felt that they should be passed along. While there are a great many myths that circulate the survival and prepping communities, these five will hopefully at least invoke thought and cause everyone to consider their survival plans. I could not identify who had written this piece and I am not sure if it is an original work by the folks at SurvivalState. If you are a gun nut, definitely make sure to check out survivalstate.com. They have a ton of gun reviews on their home page!

Survival Myth #1 – Weapons Are The Most Important Thing

Firearms should be treated just like catastrophic health insurance.  You should own them hoping that you never need them, but just like insurance, if you need them, you need them badly.   And, just like with hypochondriacs, there is a certain segment of society that can’t seem to look beyond the terrible events that would necessitate using a firearm in self-defense at more likely occurrences.  To make matters even worse, popular culture and the media both suggest that violence during survival situations is normal, and that hardship always brings out the worst in others.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The most common survival situations are brought on by diseases, accidents, and various kinds of disasters.   With the exception of civil unrest, none of these situations require being armed. Yes, we can all be mugged walking down the street or we can wake up in the middle of the night to a home invasion, but these events are fairly rare.  The average, reasonable person is much more likely to fall down a flight of stairs or get hit by a car than they are to be the victim of a random life threatening attack.  No gun, however large, is going to help you relocate a dislocated shoulder or keep your house from burning down.

There are exceptions, of course. People who live in dangerous areas are, in fact, more likely to become victims than others in more peaceful areas.  But that’s a given and people have the ability to make their own choices as to where they choose to live.  Indeed, if the FBI statistics are to be believed (and most of the time they aren’t), we will all likely fall victim to fairly serious crime at one time or another. However, despite these somewhat sobering numbers, a possible violent crime occurring once in a person’s life is a far cry from the guaranteed eventualities of illness and financial burden, both of which can greatly impact survival and quality of life.

So, from a survival perspective, while firearms are useful tools and can prove to be vitally important, they should take a definite backseat to almost all other preparations, especially if one has no indicators to the contrary.

Survival Myth #2 – It Will Be Every Man For Himself

Most of the people responsible for giving everyone in the survival community a bad name are the same folks who focus on the self-defense aspects of survivalism.  It doesn’t help that these same people are also the primary focus of the media, and together these strange bedfellows have led the rest of the world to believe that survivalists are all unwashed white folks with mangy beards who live out in the woods in rotten cabins with their even mangier dogs.

The media loves to focus on these people because they represent danger and radicalism.  They did the same thing when they focused on looting after Hurricane Katrina, and in doing so implicated entire neighborhoods in criminality.  Neither representation is accurate and certainly should not be used to classify large segments of society.  The problem is that the participants in either group, and the populace at large, don’t recognize that they are anomalies. In other words, the handful of gun toting survivalists who live out in the wilderness lprobably really believe that they are making reasonable preparations for a world ending calamity and the looters in New Orleans probably believed that they were entitled to what they were taking, while the media does what it can to make either group seem larger and more dangerous than they really are in order to gain viewership.

Neither group represents how the vast majority of society functions.  Despite frequent and well-publicized occurrences of self-centered behavior, humans are intrinsically group animals and we rely on each other to survive.  Even though the media takes great efforts to obscure this fact, America’s communities function fairly well and are essentially peaceful.  Our communities work and we need them to survive.

Except for a few historical examples, I can’t think of a single person (and certainly nobody I personally know), that does not rely on other human beings in their daily life.  Whether we like it or not, in order to be competent, healthy, and happy, we need a high degree of tolerance and civility towards others, something that certain members of the survivalist community (and, indeed, any community), seem to be lacking.

Survival Myth #3 – You Will Rise To The Occasion

Surviving a genuine, full-fledged large scale crisis is, by its very nature, a difficult undertaking and there is a significant difference between just surviving a situation and being a hero. Too many folks are caught up in the glamorized militaristic and self-defense fantasies which represent idealized heroism in our culture.  This type of heroism, as most people understand it, is nothing but a Hollywood myth.  No matter how brave a or careless a person might be, nobody, and I mean nobody, goes into a life or death situation with any degree of enthusiasm.  Sure there are those people who are so moved by adrenaline or even sheer mania, that they can accomplish impossible feats, but that’s reaction, not bravery.  Bravery occurs only when someone is scared out of their wits and still takes action, regardless of personal consequences.  Such individuals are to be honored, but they also tend to have short lifespans.

I’ve never spoken to a single person that had been involved with heroic action (and I’ve spoken to a lot of them) that was proud of what they had accomplished.  In fact, some of them seemed downright embarrassed.  Not too long ago, for instance, I was speaking with a former military officer who had risked his life to save that of a child.  When I asked him if he would do it again, he answered:  “Sure, it was a kid.”

When I asked him if he would have done the same for an adult, the response was accompanied by a cocked eyebrow: “No.  They made their own bed.  Let them lie in it.”  In other words, even a known hero has his personal limits.  Which brings up another point — everyone, and I mean everyone, has their limits.

Socrates pointed out that men might be brave in battle one day and less than brave the next.  Discipline and dedication can help calm quaking hearts, but even the best trained men and women will still break when their limit is reached.  It happens to everyone.  More to the point, survivalists aren’t taking parts in organized battles…their goal is to stay alive.  Whether or not they are brave should be a non-issue.  When it comes to reality bravery has much more to do with ego than it has to do with staying alive.  Leave the heroics for the movies.

Survival Myth #4 – You Can Live Off Of The Land

This is one of my favorites. So many people think that they can live off of the land in the event of a catastrophe.  Let me tell you, I’ve tried it, and it just isn’t possible for any length of time.  The knowledge and skill necessary to live “naturally” is extremely difficult to obtain and even more difficult to put into action.  Living off the land should only occur out of dire necessity and never by design.

At this point I would like to remind everyone that none of the first settlers in the United States would have survived without the provisions they had brought with them or help from the local natives.  And that was during a period when the land was barely inhabited yet full of fish, game, and edible plants.  Since that time we have essentially denuded our landscape (just about every tree has been chopped down and replanted more than once).  There are hardly any bears left, turkeys were only recently reintroduced to large segments of the country, and overall fish stocks are at their lowest points ever. To think that a person could survive off of these paltry pickings alongside another 300 million famished Americans is ridiculous.  Anyone that suggests otherwise is fooling themselves.

Survival Myth #5 – You Can Hold Off Multiple Armed Marauders

Fighting multiple, dedicated opponents is difficult, regardless of your training and prowess. Successful, unarmed fights against multiple attackers generally take the guise of running street battles where the victim uses the environment to limit their opponent’s numeric advantage, getting in the occasional blow at the opportune moment.  Such a strategy can’t be relied upon and should be viewed as a last ditch, neck saving effort.

The only way to take on multiple opponents with a reasonable chance of success is to bring along an equalizer.  A man with a solid understanding of how to use a knife or a stick can hold off a number of unarmed opponents.  However, if you’ve got a weapon then the other guy probably does too.  We live in a nation where 70% of men carry pocket knives and there are probably 400 million firearms in civilian possession.  To imagine that a serious fight will occur without someone resorting to a dangerous implement is a fantasy.

As humans we have limited senses and abilities.  Studies have shown that in an ambush situation even the best shooters are generally only capable of hitting two aggressors before they are eliminated by a third, and this is with the aggressors in the line of vision.  To imagine that a poorly trained shooter could do any better against multiple, dedicated assailants that are not directly in front of them is simply not reasonable.  Defending a static position without support is nothing short of a death wish unless one is better equipped, trained, and more dedicated than their opponents, and even then the odds of success are extremely slim.

Do you know another survival myth? Add it to the comments section!