A well-planned bug-out bag will keep you alive for at least 72 hours. That is three day’s worth of gear strapped to your back. You’ll probably need to keep moving, so a handgun, portable by nature, is a suitable tool. When thinking about handgun options, think lightweight and easy-to-find ammunition. Remember that you may need to scrounge depending on the event and how long it lasts. When your weapon is empty, it is nothing more than extra weight. Popular cartridge choices include .22 LR, .38 Special, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Even .223 Rem./5.56mm NATO is a good choice. These are common rounds with plenty of circulation. Less common calibers have a specific purpose and can be very valuable, so plan accordingly.

Revolvers are good options since they are self-contained with no removable parts, like a semi-auto’s magazine, and no complicated controls—slide stop, magazine release, thumb safety and de-cocker. If you choose a semi-automatic pistol, make sure you have at least three loaded magazines in your bag, and more if you have room and can bear the weight. Here are 14 go-to handguns for when SHTF.

For More Information

Bond Arms


Charter Arms




Ruger (22/45 Lite)

Ruger (New Model Blackhawk Convertible)

Sig Sauer

Smith & Wesson

Springfield Armory

Thompson/Center Arms


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Top 16 Women’s Concealed Carry Items

Top Nine 9mm 1911 Guns

12 Compact & Subcompact Glocks for Backup

The Most Popular IDPA Pistols

This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of COMBAT HANDGUNS. Subscription is available in print and digital editions below.

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