Gun Fighting Secrets

I have long been a big fan of the Old West. The ingenuity, perseverance, practicality and sheer grit that went into the westward expansion of our Republic are nothing short of admirable, and the mark that this epic undertaking left on the character of the nation is indelible. One of the hallmarks and a theme that I revisit often in my prepping and homesteading endeavors is the philosophy of making more out of less. In the Old West, this philosophy was even applied to weaponry, and the advantages of pairing your handgun and your rifle in terms of caliber were often emphasized.

The primary advantage of this philosophy is that you need to stock less ammo if both your main weapons eat the same thing. It also makes reloading on the fly more convenient, quicker and less confusing; both weapons can be fed from a single cartridge belt; and either weapon can be loaded without looking down to see what you are grabbing. This is a big bonus in a high stress situation. Another benefit is that pistol caliber ammo is generally more compact than rifle cartridges; you can fit more in less space. Firing the same caliber ammo through the longer barrel of a rifle or carbine gives it more juice (translated: greater muzzle velocity, greater terminal energy, greater “Stopping Power,” and greater effective range and accuracy). All this leads to a huge advantage in terms of effective use of ammo supplies. These advantages are as manifest in packing a 21st century get home bag as they were in packing for a 19th century cattle drive.

My first venture into this concept was a salute to my cowboy spirit. In a deplorable act of impulse buying, I found myself in possession of a Winchester Legacy Edition Model 1894 chambered in .45 Colt (.45 LC). I fell in love with this little rifle, and with modern loads I have taken game as large as wild boar and even deer at moderate ranges. The natural evolution was to add a Single Action Army revolver in the same chambering. The winner was the Uberti Cattleman Patron, which is a beautiful rendition of the 1873 Colt. With this pair of weapons, I am well-equipped for a lot of eventualities in a survival situation, from hunting, to bear attack, to personal defense against two-legged predators. Lever guns are still a quick handling and practical defensive arm, and with a (good) bit of practice the SSA is an adequate defensive handgun. I shy away from recommending the single action as a primary handgun in most situations, but its rugged durability, simplicity and dependability makes it a reasonable choice for wilderness scenarios where high volume firefights are less likely than hungry mountain lions. A full cartridge belt and a couple of spare 50-round boxes of shells in the bottom of my pack or saddle bags is a lot of shooting with these guns, for a relatively low weight and volume.

If You Want More Modern Guns

But what if you aren’t ready to go all Cowboy Retro? The good news is that there are some great choices for paired pistol/carbine combos in modern configurations. These combos often have the added bonus of magazine compatibility which offers a savings both in space and capital outlay when you are gearing up.

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