Not because you have larceny or mayhem on your heart, or mean others ill-will; but because as even Rudyard Kipling recognized in The Jungle Book, it is a jungle out there and even Mowgli was ill-prepared to face its threats without a "tooth". When Mowgli got his "tooth", a sizeable knife that served him as both tool and weapon, he finally found confidence that he could defend himself, make things, and obtain meat.
Firearms are tools. Unless you live in some rural locale or subdivision that wildlife roam through, hunting won't produce much for you; unless vermin and varmints like squirrels, rats, snakes, and domestic animals gone feral are on your menu. Yet firearms remain valuable, likely invaluable, for securing your safety and enabling those who might mean you harm to reconsider. It is a sad fact that some humans are antisocial and will prey upon others, especially in time of chaos and danger. Read Shakespeare's Henry V... Some of Harry's drinking buddies died in midst of looting bodies in the midst of battle or were hung for looting. Men of low character (bankers & lawyers) mean you enough harm and destruction NOW; what will they do when the shit has come down and Goldman no longer sends the limo or serves lunch in the executive dining room?
The NRA and other self-defense experts estimate that for every citizen who had defended their life with gunfire in an armed aggression incident, that 10x as many situations transpired which were halted when the would-be victim drew a firearm or showed that they were capable of defense and the perpetrator might suffer wound or death.
Probably illegal to carry a weapon where you live, unless licensed or carrying it openly. Yet, prudence and wisdom should dictate the steps you are willing to take in being prepared to defend your life and property. In time of chaos, you are on your own. Not likely that gun vendors will be open to the public or have inventory remaining for you to choose from. As with all "insurance" type purchases, you buy when you discern the need because at the moment you need it, it better be ready to work for you.
Not encouraging you to live in fear, or take steps alien to your ideology or creed; but, if you know that you have God Given Right of self-defense then you best take steps to secure the most effective mode for promoting your self-defense and survival. A large caliber handgun that you can conceal and carry with you without bother is typically the Best Solution.
FBI statistics show most gunfights occur at 7' or less. These events are up close and personal. Most often, a larger male seeks armed intimidation and assault. Self-defense depends on stopping the perpetrator, not killing them. Knives, bats, and other makeshift weapons will not "stop" a criminal immediately. Takes a Heavy Bullet of .40 caliber or larger to reliably stop a large man with one round impacting center of chest. Takes a 200gr or heavier slug starting at 800 feet per second to deliver the Stopping Power needed.
A 10mm Auto, or .45 ACP semi-auto pistol is about The Best defense round going for self-defense and gunfighting. Make no mistake, anyone who assaults you with a firearm has gotten you into a gunfighting situation. Unless you can respond in kind and with greater speed, power, and control; you will likely lose...
If you would have peace, prepare for war.
An armed society is a polite society...
Trite cliche? No, just truth... Enemies don't attack those who are prepared to repel their attack and if you are armed and know others you interact with are also, you likely won't be mouthing off, acting to intimidate or engender fear, or bullying anyone. At least, not unless you are sociopathic; and then, most likely you'll cross the line somewhere and be taken to task... Not vigilantism, just fact; sociopaths don't go undiscovered very often.
In the midst of chaos, having a firearm displayed and carrying yourself with the confidence of and experienced user will likely encourage the sociopath to look for other victims and convince those who might be looking for weakness to deal with you fairly or not at all. Who knows how many lives this will save? It is said that "locks only keep the honest folk honest". Having a defensive weapon, or several, means you have chosen not to become someone's victim and have taken steps towards the means of stopping those who would kill or loot you.
The context of firearms ownership here is related to survivalism, not gunfighting, and not carry for self-defense. There is a difference. Survivalism is an active lifestyle first identified in the late 1970s and is adapted by those who recognize that society's continuation is a very tenuous and longterm impossibility due to nuclear war or economic collapse. Survivalists took action and relocated "out of the line of fire". This means moving to small town or village, or rural homestead property where hordes of unprepared persons would not have prompt access to them.
Mel Tappan wrote the definitive book, Survival Guns. In that lengthy work, he defined characteristics of Working Guns and Defensive Guns and made the point for owning each type. Tappan defines the Defensive rifle and pistol, both semi-auto and military use derived as The Basic weapons to own and acquire first. In the 32yrs since Survival Guns was published, guns have improved and been updated, but the premises and logic Tappan brought to this discussion remain very valid.
Don't own any firearms? Decide you might want to own one? Buy your Defensive arms first.
Probably buy pistol first. The 1911 colt type in 10mm Auto or .45acp is a Best Choice. Glock, Sig, Springfield Armory also make other platform semi-autos that are highly acclaimed. Still the .45acp Colt .45 auto is The Pistol to own. Kimber, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Springfield are basically The TOP Makers. There are many custom makers whose refined 1911s sell for several thousand, but such isn't of benefit to a beginner or person concerned with rudimentary self-defense.
Gun control seems to be a dead social and legislative issue. Gun bans are more likely, but what hasn't Government done recently to reduce our freedoms? No need to doubt they won't restrict our God Given Right to own weapons even further or abrogate The Bill Of Rights entirely. Anyway, pistol is about your most critical self-defense item because it is your weapon of last resort.
Rifle is your weapon of choice. Significantly more power and should be easily capable of accuracy to hundreds of yards. The Defensive Rifle is mainstay of defense. Rifle will "kill" a truck or bus with a round penetrating engine block. The Defensive Rifle will be semi-automatic and adapted from full-auto military versions and be charged with ammunition using detachable magazines of 20rds or more. The rifle will have a peep sight and be capable of fine accuracy and also be able to mount a scopesight very easily. Best rifles include Armalite designs AR-10 (.308) and AR-15 (.223), The M1a, H-K model 91 & 93, and FN LAR along with ancillary Gallil, Valmet, and other specialty rifles. Can't own a semi-auto? The British Enfield in .303 or .308 Ishapore conversion has a 10rd magazine and is a decent choice. Best choice for bolt rifle is an FNH Patrol rifle in .308 for modern action, scope mounting ability and target barrel that is chrome-lined for longest accuracy life.
Buy your pistol or rifle with 4 or more magazines, ammunition, and any scope or other accessories you want to own.
My personal favorite for value, lightweight, and versatile ammunition is the AR-15 with 20" barrel and 77 grain ammunition. These rifles weigh about 8lbs empty, ammunition is light and recoils almost nil, very accurate and with heavy bullets like 77gr handloads or match ammo features, the rifle will likely shoot w/reliable accuracy to 600yds or further. Easy to scope, or use the carryhandle iron sights for fine accuracy. The .223rem cartridge will kill deer and larger animals reliably.
You can always hunt with a defensive rifle, but using a bolt rifle with plain barrel and 5 shot magazine if you need rapid reloads and to fire many rounds will simply not work. If can only afford one rifle and pistol, the defensive job is paramount while the hunter can always get closer.
Johnathan Ciener and Kimber make a .22lr conversion unit that is a good training device for learning the 1911 type pistol. These cost $240 to $350 and are very good training devices. Pretty easy to learn to shoot the 1911 in .45acp once you are used to the gun's motion in recoil and have learned to shoot .22 ammo accurately.
Jeff Cooper wrote a short pamphlet called Principles of Personal Defense. In there, Cooper espouses a color-coded system of awareness. White, yellow, orange, & red.
White is the state you are in when have complete confidence of your security and well-being; no worries or exposure to variable factors, you're in a secure environ.
Yellow is apprehensive and aware, not yet anticipating trouble or confrontation but not going to be surprised when it happens. You watch your back, tune into those around you, leave yourself an escape route, and vary your actions so anyone watching will decide to look elsewhere. Can't be self-absorbed, have to put on your street-face and be aware and watchful.
Orange is ready and anticipating a confrontation. You are mindful of surroundings and others and position yourself so as to maximize your defensive capabilities. Might have your handgun at the ready if can do so unobtrusively and without notice. Can always re-holster, but weapon in-hand gains you seconds and can make ALL the difference.
Red is shoot to stop, in a fight.
Lots of good discussion in Principles. Cooper also discusses making a game out of being in Yellow and Orange to count the number of times other persons in a crowd surprise you with their sudden entry into your space or times you find persons in close proximity that hadn't noticed before... Be mindful of your exposure and posturing and minimize your risk and up your preparation and safety quotient...
Might as well discuss tactics...
Live out and away from the populations? Figuring that hunting is gonna supply your food needs? Probably not gonna happen like you imagine. Maybe if you know how to trap and can run a trapline every day, that is the way to "hunt", let your traps do the "hunting"... Probably gonna have way too much to do. Having a year or two's worth of foodstuffs on tap means your time value gets maximized used for other projects and skillset practice.
If anything, not gonna be doing much shooting at all because it alerts others in the area to your location, and raises alarm amongst your neighbors who will be stressed enough as it is. Same way you don't want to have to use firewood to heat or cook with, unless way outback located. Woodsmoke carries as do cooking odors. Kind of thinking that laying-low and in readiness like condition yellow/orange at all times will be what enables you to persevere.
Hunting is simply a waste of time at a time you have none to squander. Always having a capable rifle or scoped magnum pistol with you though at least means if a large animal blunders onto your place, you can take it then and there. .308win rifle, scoped and loaded with 168 or 180gr match bullets will be good out to 800yds and will take large game cleanly at decent distance.
Shotguns are fun and being a good wingshot is a good skill to cultivate, but shells are expensive and you'll want to bait your prey to take as many as you can with one shell. Ducks on a pond, river, or farm tank are better taken with a .22 rifle, or maybe scoped autopistol. Small game around your place can be taken with a 1000fps capable .177 pellet gun like the RCBS 34 or 36. Pellets are very cheap, but kill small game reliably with head shots.
Shotgun is too limited in range to be viable for defense. Works fine for intimidation or intruder defense. Number 4 buckshot or any kind of Duck or Goose load down to BB or #2 shot will work for defensive purposes at close range and that means within about 50ft. Heavy buckshot loads will carry and retain velocity, but before you rely on them for their legendary power and effectiveness, pattern a few rounds from your gun at 30yds. Patterning a shotgun means putting up a very large box or sheet of cardboard with a 12" circle to fire at, and pacing your distance then firing a couple shells to note how many pellets strike the circle... View your target and count the #pellets striking with your first shot, so you know how many pellets your load contains. Might be more pellets in the shell but if those won't hit a 3' square or larger target, they aren't of consequence.
Might also want to put up a piece of 3/8" plywood at 30yds and see if the pellets penetrate fully. Shotguns are horrendous at point blank range, but quickly lose effectiveness with distance. Shotgun is also cumbersome indoors although an 18" barreled gun w/pistol grip might serve; a pistol of adequate caliber firing a heavy slug is better.