(Bugout.news) No one really wants to experience a SHTF scenario in which society completely breaks down, save for a few anarchists who will probably be among the first to die, but what we want and what may someday happen are very likely to be two different things.
That said, the skills you should be honing the most are the most basic survival skills – food/water prep; shelter; escape and evasion; and self-defense. Let’s face it, if you’re not practicing these basic survival skills, everything else is a waste of time.
And one of the most basic self-defense skills you should be learning now, while you can, is marksmanship and, more importantly, sniper skills. Why? Because it’s much better for you to engage an enemy at a distance than up close and personal.
“Sniper training turns a simple rifleman into a weapon of long range mass destruction, which is probably the reason why most governments around the globe have been reluctant until recently to educate more than a handful of soldiers on sniping methods,” writes Brandon Smith, here. “Hypothetically, a team of snipers could be dangerous enough to topple the political leadership (or oligarchy) of any given nation with nothing more than a few finely tuned rifles and a couple boxes of high caliber rounds.”
And while the situation we’re discussing now is SHTF, not toppling governments, it’s hard to argue with Smith regarding the effectiveness and lethality of a skilled sniper.
Now, granted, some people equate snipers with murderers, and that was especially the case recently (mostly from left-leaning liberal critics) following the release of the [very successful] movie by Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper.” But as any fair viewer of the film understands, snipers possess a very necessary skill set in any situation in which you find yourself surrounded by those who mean to do you harm. And besides, most everyone who disagrees with this method of self-defense has never had to defend themselves against a larger force.
Also, some wonder how a survivalist will be able to tell whether someone at a distance actually poses a threat. That’s a good point; but part of learning sniper skills is learning how to conduct long-range reconnaissance, too – actually scoping, then indentifiying, a target is 90 percent of the task. In a SHTF scenario, it is probably best to assume everyone you meet that you don’t know is a potential threat, but obviously you won’t be targeting just anyone and everyone under such conditions. Not only is that improper, but you’re very likely going to have a very limited amount of ammunition.
Type and caliber of rifle and scope
Choosing the right weapon is all about choosing the right weapon for you. There are a number of quality long-distance rifles on the market at affordable prices. Same with the accessories (scope, bipod, etc.).
That said, you should do your research as to what calibers of rifle are best for distance shooting. Generally speaking, your average AR-15, AK-47 or similar semi-auto is not going to be a good sniper rifle, even if you have something like a full-length 20” barrel AR instead of the carbine model. They’re just not made for distance shooting; the caliber, barrel, and bullet power are made for closer engagements, usually no more than 300 yards (and for many shooters, that distance is pushing it). You can get by with using a smaller caliber AK or AR in an urban setting, when targets are generally between 100 and 300 yards and round penetration isn’t so much of an issue.
Probably the most common distance caliber is the .308 (the same round used by the U.S. military’s sniping teams and by the M-240B machine gun). This is also a fairly common round on the civilian market as well, so it is much easier to obtain and stockpile than other more exotic rounds (exotic = hard to find in an emergency).
“The .308 has an effective range of around 800-1000 yards (sometimes more depending on the type of the bullet). I would consider it the bare minimum caliber required to achieve sniper accuracy and penetration at longer distances. Similar calibers, like the .30-06 or the 7.62 by 54, have equal capabilities, however, combat ready rifles which easily mount tactical scopes are difficult to find for them,” writes Smith.
There are, of course, longer range rifles and calibers – like the .338 and the 50 cal., which can reach out to 2,700 yards or more – but you can expect to pay about $4-$6 per round for these rifles, and getting replacement ammo for them will be difficult at best.
Bolt action or semi-auto?
Selection of your type of rifle will also depend a lot on what you are comfortable with, but many professional snipers prefer bolt action because while the semi-auto models will allow you to send more rounds downrange more quickly, they have looser tolerances, meaning their accuracy falls off after about 800 yards or so. Bolt actions don’t hold as many rounds and are slower to cycle, but they have often have tighter chambers and heavier barrels, giving you more range accurately.
Heavier barrels also allow for more consistent shots, less barrel heating and better harmonics.
What about scopes?
The standard for long range shooting is a mil-dot scope, either fixed power or variable, with 1/4 MOA adjustment knobs,” Smith writes. “It must also be rated to handle the recoil of the caliber you are shooting. Illuminated reticles, night vision options, in-scope reference and ranging dots, and numerous other bells and whistles should depend upon your defense needs.”
Simpler is better, just remember that. Also, it is best to avoid any optics that require batteries to operate because, obviously, batteries will eventually disappear from store shelves. One exception: Rechargeable batteries you can re-energize with a fold-out solar panel.
You can literally spend thousands on a high-end scope, but most of us don’t have that kind of money. Fortunately, there are several good models available in the $300-$400 range that are designed to take heavy abuse. The primary concern is that your scope will hold its “zero” and is not easily broken.
Finally, a word about cover, concealment, and practice. If the time comes and you have to use this skill, hopefully you will have spent more than a little time practicing how to move into position to observe; cover and concealment; and, of course, actually pulling the trigger. Nothing can really completely prepare you for something like this, but the best way to be as prepared as possible is to rehearse, practice, rehearse, practice – and so on, until it is second nature.
Most people truly want to resort to violence, but if the time comes where you will have to be proactive to save yourself or your family, you want to have some basic skills that will enable you to do so. This is one of them.
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