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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Urban Survival Firearms - Sniper Rifle Necessity?

UrbanMan was asked a question about the necessity or priorities of having a "sniper" rifle as part of a Survival Battery.

I think you have to consider alot of factors first:
1. What are your other firearms in your Survival Battery?
2. Are to going to be soley operating and surviving in an Urban environment? What are you expected engagement ranges?
3. What is your experience level with firearms and especially scoped firearms?

If I did not have a Battle Rifle (e.g..M1A1, FAL, etc.) or Assault Rifle/Carbine (e.g..M-4 or variant), or any other magazine fed rifle/carbine, then I would consider the procurement of one of these rifles a priority before I purchased a scoped rifle suitable for sniping/hunting. In fact, especially in an Urban environment I would consider a battle/assault rifle or carbine, a 12 gauge shotgun and a magazine fed handgun to be a higher priority than a scoped rifle.

Not just because of the lack of longer engagement ranges, but due to the fact that the density of potential threats are much greater in an urban environment.

In my mind there are three advantages to owning a scoped rifle in a decent caliber, minimum of which would be .308 Winchester. These advantages are:
1. If you were decently proficient with the scope rifle (sniper rifle) you could expect to engage threats in the 600 to 800 meter range. But the question of how will you know they are a threat at this distance?
2. The scope, would give you an observation tool on your firearms as opposing to slinging your firearms and going to your binoculars.
3. A scope rifle is a definite advantage if you hunt game bigger than rabbits.

I have a Remington Light Tactical Rifle (LTR) with a 20 inch barrel and a Luepold 4.5x14mm scope, which lets me, on a calm day, rountinely ping the small LaRue steel targets at 600 meters. That's, of course, at the range. At home, from any window or potential fighting position in my suburban home, the farthest distance I can observe or the longest range I could engage at would be about 125 meters. Making that too easy of a shot with a M-4, scope or not.

When engaging at, say 500 meters and farther, there is a distinct advantage with a heavier caliber. If your Safe Location (Bug Out location) is a farmhouse or cabin with a 500 meter or more cleared field of fire, then it would seem a rifle calibered (as opposed to carbine caliber) scoped rifle would be a good tool to have on hand.

If you not accustomed to scoped rifles, either as a school trained military or law enforcement sniper, or have a butt load of hunting experience, then there is alot to learn about using scopes and engaging at long ranges, such as estimating range, reading winds, making scope adjustments, computing ballistics, hold off and hold over are examples. It's not as simple as placing the cross hairs on a target and pressing the trigger.

I am looking into a .338 Lapua calibered platform, but continually go back and forth between needs and wants. Everyone reading this know what that means. It would be a tool that would be very useful at my primary Bug Out location (Safe Location), but just an extra piece of equipment at my suburban home. Maybe just an expense that would be better spent on more food.


  1. Hey good post, made sense to me. Do you recommend a high magnification binoculars or a a spotting spot and if so what type and why? Does it make sense to get a rifle scope, or binocular or spotting scope with the mil dot setup?

  2. Good article. I have been checking out your site and am getting some info from you. Thanks. I would like to say at my safe spots we determined to use the Shilo Sharps in 45-70. I can hit most anything I aim at with it out to around 500 yrds. A couple of my younger family members have taken to it and can do much more justice to the gun and it responds in kind. They are a brother and sister team when it comes to that gun, always trying to out shoot each other. The boy is an ex Marine and the girl just loves guns. She has been shooting since my brother could put a rifle into her hands. We have stocked several different rounds for it and as a back up are set up to reload it and all of our other weapons. It does help that we set it up to also reload it in original black powder form also. I would not want to be on the receiving end. They have a range card set up for it out to 1200 yards. The boy says at that range if he dont hit ya in the chest, he will blow your bladder out. :-)

  3. i think most people who expect sthtf have basic fire arms skills. and out of those a few have basic long range fire arms skill. i don't think its a necessary piece of equipment but if you have the ability to use it then its going to be a primary tool when engaging hostile targets at 300 yards or more. also it would be used with you team you need to build for cover and observation of the surrounding area. i myself have little knowledge of using a scoped rifle but i am learning and learning fast. with the world looking more and more like its going to in a sense turn in to a mad max world its good to have the ability to see and asses targets or bands of targets. also if you get a laser range finder and use it to set up range markers at your bug out base or even long term camp or "base" the sniper rifle would a tool worth its weight in gold. my opinion...its better to shoot someone who you deem a threat before he shoots you. also one thing i haven't seen this website talk about is street gangs. in a disaster such as massive black out or natural disasters street gangs go on massive offensives and like to kill rape loot and and start chaos. so in an urban or suburban area if you can find a suitable bug out location or temporary base camp with a nice field of vision set up range markers....subtle ones. maybe a group of rocks or tin cans every hundred yard going out to 700 yards or whatever you feel is decent.

  4. When (not if) the shit does hit the fan, there is an extremely good chance that it will be because of paranoid, overly militaristic individuals waiting for a proper excuse for violence. Like the guy posting above me, thinking it's cute and worth a smiley to talk about his son shooting someone to death in the abdomen. That idea that your son may have to kill another civilian in a crisis situation one day should horrify you -- but that's not part of this culture, and that's a sad thing. 0% of anyone reading this will ever agree with this, but it's fairly obvious to 99% of the rest of us around the world.

  5. I think the 0%/99% commenter improperly judges survivalist prepper's and the "culture". Many of us are not itching for a reason to shoot someone. I see things heading in a scary direction, and feel it's prudent to prepare to be able to provide for myself and my family and protect us if it's necessary. If ever the SHTF, words like "civilian" and "gang member" will be meaningless, if that individual is an actual threat to you or your loved ones. People get violent and ugly quick if they think they need to in order to look out for #1. People got into fist-fights over bottled water in Boston when the water main broke, and that was just a couple of years ago (the 21st century!!... but yeah, 'mankind has evolved". Right. Sure we have). Heck, people get trampled to death in Walmart's for Thanksgiving Black Friday deals, and that's just to save some money on a bauble. You're right, the thought is horrifying that I may need to defend my family by killing someone in the future. That it is horrifying is irrelevant if the situation ever becomes that dire. You and I may not be able to determine what the world does around us or if TEOWAWKI happens or not, but it is foolish to not prepare - especially given current indicators. For your own sake, I hope you are preparing, which means all the things they discuss on this blog: food storage, knowledge for crop growing, a water supply, shelter, gear (rain, boots, cold weather, etc), and owning and knowing how to use a weapon to defend yourself.

  6. Maybe if any of this when the SHTF is close on our horizon, wouldn't it make sense that like minded people become "tribal" and organize at a preset location away from urban areas? Perhaps form chapter "safe zones" where groups could have provisions, train and defend against what ever comes our way, with a common goal to stay in communication with all other seperate groups. My biggest fear in a city is police going door to door. How do people defend against police that actually may be the looters?

  7. At 500 yards out, how do you determine that they are a threat, or does everyone become a threat in this type of world? Seems to me a sniper rifle is weapon for offense, not defense. If you are in your cabin how will you maintain an outlook 500 yards out, evaluate the target and make a decision to shoot or not shoot. Unless you are going to take the fight to them, I think the money spent on a sniper rifle would be better spent on something else - say martial arts for hand to hand combat.

    1. Not true. A rifle capable of 1MOA or better can be used to hit a SMALL target that is closer. For example, 4 looters hiding behind a building and taking pot shots at you. One keeps sticking his head out at the same spot. A scoped rifle makes this a simple task of timing. Scoped rifles will always be capable of greater accuracy, not just at longer ranges. I prefer, and own, a kel-tec RFB in .308. Short enough for CQB with a side sight and a light/laser combo, and a barrel long enough for 1000m if necessary. A bit heavy but a perfect package otherwise.

  8. You deem the target a threat by posting signs or by verbal warnings. Also if you know they are gang bangers or vicious people by observing them over time then take the shot.

  9. As a long range shooter with quite a bit of exp. I have to say that very few are ever going to develop the skills that require a precision rifle. Without those skills you might as well have a much cheaper hunting rifle with a decent scope most will vastly exceed the skill level of the average shooter. That being said as far as usefullness in a case where you may be required to interact with others you are unsure of, the ability to do that a few hundred yards from your group in the open while being covered by accurate rifles may allow enough peace of mind to find out if the guy at the gate needs a little clean water for a sick child or has less noble intentions.

  10. Damn this rifle, this is a killing machine.

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