Winning America’s Arms Race: an Arsenal On A Budget ~ VIDEOS

Opinion by Jim Pope
(retired) Captain Columbus, GA Police Department
Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Columbus, GA Police Department, or its Chief of Police.

Weapons Military Equipment Army, Assault Rifle Gun M4A1 Pistol Camouflage Background iStock-Artfully79-696928080.jpg
Winning America’s Arms Race: an Arsenal On A Budget IMG: iStock/Artfully79

Columbus, GA – -( With Antifa building guns and Democrats everywhere calling for the confiscation of firearms, deadly red-flag laws, and banning of ammunition & accessories, it is time you do your part to win the new American arms race. Here are my thoughts on how you can build your private arsenal on a budget.

This subject has been written about far more times than I care to guess, so I figured one more time wouldn’t hurt anything. First, we need to have a general idea of what the budget is, any limitations you may have, and determine if this is an arsenal that does it all (if there is such a thing) or one that would get you through most realistic, potentially survivable scenarios.

Arsenal Budget:

I have always lived on a tight budget. Most of my weapons were purchased on a credit card and paid off over time with interest, or I traded one gun for one that I wanted more. Why don’t we just say we will work within a budget of roughly $3,500. This budget will include the two weapons I will discuss, ammo, and what I consider necessary gear to go with it. This is not a discussion of the ultimate arsenal.

Physical Limitations:

If you are wheelchair-bound, missing a limb or two, on oxygen, etc., God bless you, and I hope things work out for you, but I don’t think I’m qualified to advise on those situations. What I wanted to discuss are general issues such as being obese, a chain smoker with high blood pressure, or a person that just gets out of breath easy for whatever reason. You know your limitations better than anyone else. Spend some time thinking about the weight of the primary weapon you choose and especially the gear. Wrap around rifle plates on top of Level IIA or III soft armor might not be the best pick for you if you’re out of breath by just climbing one flight of stairs. Wearing armor is a smart and practical thing to do but, if you can’t get up a flight of stairs wearing it and carrying your primary weapon, neither of them do you much good. We all need to maintain a reasonable level of physical condition. If not for this reason just for general health, please get up and get healthy we will need you in the fight.

I am writing this article for the average person. I’ve been a bodybuilder for 35 years, and I stay in pretty good shape but let’s face it, most people don’t. You will wish you had should the things we are going to discuss ever happen. It makes everything so much easier. This next video is guys at the top of their game, take what you can from this training video and work up to a reasonable or better fitness level.

Nature of the Arsenal and The Threat:

If the plan is to hold off hordes of zombies with Molotov’s and a mounted .50, you might be on to something, but this article is not for you. If that day comes, you will have the satisfaction of laughing at us for not believing it was possible. The scenarios are unlimited with this, so anyone that tells you that you must have this weapon or that one is living in a fantasy world. Let’s just consider the collapse of the dollar, rioting and looting on a mass scale, few if any government functions, most or all utilities cease to function, no trips to the grocery store, and/or we are invaded by other nation(s) or some combination of any of these.

What you need are two weapons that would get you through the majority of circumstances, a long gun or primary weapon as you might call it and a pistol. You want a primary weapon with an effective range of a minimum of 200 yards. I’m okay with 200 yards, but I realize I’m half blind and probably in the minority. Also, 98% of my training has been within the 100-yard mark and probably 75% inside of 50 yards. Then, you will need a pistol for the times that it is more practical, your primary fails, your primary runs out of ammo, etc. Please notice I said minimum pertaining to the effective range before the negative comments start rolling in.

Arsenal – The Weapon Choices

Arsenal: Long Gun/ Primary Weapon:

If you think you are going to be in a prolonged situation as mentioned where ammo could become an issue (you should already have that stockpiled), you want to stick with the most common calibers for your primary weapon (5.56, 7.62 NATO) or 7.62 x 39. Any NATO personnel that die in this scenario would potentially be a source of more ammo, spare gun parts, etc. if you stick with standard NATO rounds. These are also popular with most U.S. citizens. If the Chinese, Russians, North Koreans, or pretty much any Middle Eastern Country invade, you can pretty much count on 7.62 x 39 and spare AK parts with every one of them you kill or happen upon having already been killed. If you are already stockpiled on one particular caliber, stick with it because any of these calibers will undoubtedly get the job done. I intentionally left the US Armed Forces out of this equation (even though we are part of NATO) because I refuse to accept the day that they would agree to be used against us as US citizens. That being said, if someone is already dead, their gear is fair game in the type of scenarios we are discussing. The caliber of the weapon is a catch 22 and does not have a perfect solution.

American Defense MFG Release New ADM4 Receivers and Rifles
American Defense MFG ADM4 Receivers and Rifles in 5.56

The M-4’s in 5.56 or 7.62 NATO or other semi-autos in 7.62 NATO will have the long-range accuracy advantage over the AK’s and different variants in 7.62 x 39. The AK packs a better punch than the 5.56 but falls slightly behind the 7.62 NATO round.

FN P90 Personal Defense Weapon, Tactical
FN P90 Personal Defense Weapon, Tactical

I want to also bring up the FN P90 which I think is a very practical weapon in many ways but affording ammo and replenishing ammo would be an issue unless the Belgian’s or some European Nation that happens to use this weapon invade☺. Depending on which study you want to believe, this 5.7 x 28 round is about equal to a 9MM+P+ in stopping power. You could also have your primary/PDW and pistol in the same caliber which is a legitimate advantage. The beauty of this round is its ability to penetrate Level IIIA body armor at 200 meters. This weapon is very compact and very high capacity. Armor piercing rounds are available for this caliber just as they are for the other calibers discussed. You could load 2 standard rounds followed by an armor piercing round for just in case purposes and with this caliber, that is definitely something you may want to think about. That being said, it has obvious ballistic deficiencies compared to the other calibers. I will mention the HK MP7 in 4.6 X 30 just because I know someone will bring it up. It is very similar to the 5.7 as far as ballistics. It has been my experience that this ammunition is even harder to find than 5.7 and more expensive than the 5.7. Personally, I would rule this one out.

Let me also state that M1’s in .30, anything in 30.06 and some of the other variants in .243, .257 and 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Blackout, etc. are all certainly capable of getting the job done. With the exception of maybe .30, this ammo will be expensive now and hard to find during the types of scenarios we are discussing. We are on a budget, remember.

What you choose for a primary weapon is up to you. You need to assess your limitations, what you think the most likely scenarios are, and ultimately what you happen to be good with. Go to a local firing range that rents guns and play around with each of these weapons before you decide. If you know someone that has one, go shooting with them. My point is, don’t just read an article and go out and buy a particular weapon because you were impressed with the article and definitely don’t buy one just because I did. I would choose a weapon with at least one rail for an attachment (lights are mandatory in my opinion) and with the sling of your choice. (I like the Urban ERT 2 point Sling)

AK’s are my preference for my main rifle.

Author's Primary Long Gun AK with Urban ERT 2 Point Sling
Author’s Primary Long Gun, AK with Urban ERT 2 Point Sling

I could go on all day about why, but in a nutshell, they rarely malfunction, will feed anything, and I think it’s more likely that any invaders of this nation will be using that caliber. As long as I hit first and stay alive, I should have a never-ending supply of ammo and gun parts. Remember Jim’s golden rule with this:

“The perfect gun is the one that you shoot very well under a variety of circumstances, has the right balance of stopping power, size and weight based on your abilities/physical fitness, and that will get the job done under a variety of circumstances. That perfect gun is subject to be different for everyone.”

Why the Shotgun Should Not Be Your Primary Long Gun:

Inside of 25 yards, honestly, there is nothing more devastating than nine, .32 caliber projectiles traveling at around 1200 feet per second impacting simultaneously to the torso from a round of 12 gauge 00 Buck.

Remington 12 gauge 00 Buck
Remington 12 gauge 00 Buck

That being said, what if your enemy is wearing armor? What if they are at 150 yards and shooting at you with a weapon capable of effective fire from that range? What if you want to put a round through the radiator and crack an engine block to stop a vehicle at 200 yards? We have limited this discussion to one primary long gun and one pistol, so the shotgun is simply not in the running. If your plan is only to defend your home from intruders and never go out for supplies, the shotgun might not be a bad idea. The bottom line is that a rifle in the right hand and of the calibers we have been discussing is capable of doing just about anything a shotgun will do at close range and give you the distance factor when you need it.

Arsenal : Pistol:

Again, I stress ammo and how readily available it might be unless you already have a stockpile. More than likely, this would not be your go-to gun, and you would most likely not need near as much ammo for the pistol. Unless you’re stockpiled on your favorite choices such as .357 sig (my favorite), .40, 10MM, or whatever I would stick to 9MM and 45ACP.

Between NATO personnel using it and countless Americans that have it, these rounds should be readily available. Compact guns are excellent and certainly concealable, but we are talking about really bad scenarios here that require combat tactics. If you plan to have two primary weapons and a “hideout” gun, you will not get any opposition from me by using a smaller, more concealable gun for that purpose, but that is a separate issue and not the point of this article. I would go with a full-sized pistol with a standard 4.5” barrel or longer to get the most from the pistol’s capabilities. Refer to Jim’s golden rule above when you make this decision. The longer the sight radius, generally, the easier to shoot, and the more accurate the gun is. You may be wondering why I am not suggesting the most likely caliber pistol based on the most likely invaders. For the most part, standard issue for soldiers does not include a sidearm, just a rifle. I recommend a pistol with a rail built-in under the slide. It’s there if/when you want to attach something and causes no problem if you don’t.

Arsenal: Body Armor/ General Gear:

Body armor is my nemesis. I hate it. I’m the hottest natured person on the planet. I hate anything hanging over my shoulders and weighing me down. I don’t like anything that restricts my movement. I wore it on the streets as an officer and as a Sergeant. Do as I did, wear it. Suck it up and deal with the misery. I promise you it beats a bullet hole. We are discussing apocalyptic scenarios, so your level of comfort is no longer a luxury that you can afford. Don’t forget to hydrate very well if you wear armor for a while.

We could debate all day about whether to wear wrap-around level II or III soft armor, just rifle plates front, rear and sides, or all of the above or any combination of the above. Like I said before, armor works, but if you can’t make it up a flight of stairs without going into cardiac arrest, you are probably better off without it. As for me, in the scenarios we are discussing in this article, it makes sense to wear rifle plates. They stop anything soft armor will and much more, but they do leave more uncovered areas. My preference is a lightweight MOLLE rig with front and rear plates only. Check out AR500 Armor as they have great packages.

It’s a trade-off for me. I like the reduced weight. Air can flow better, and I can move much more freely. If I expected I was going into something in moderate temperatures and likely to be of very short duration, I would wear more armor. I have more than one option for this in my law enforcement profession, and I adjust accordingly. I also know the odds of me having to wear it for more than 2 hours in my line of work, and given how my agency operates, are slim to none. You may not have this luxury with the type of scenarios we are discussing.

I will say this if you intend to use a rig with level IIA wrap around and rifle plates front, rear, and sides, you should practice with it every time you go shooting and wear it around the house periodically. You must get used to wearing it. Don’t stand in your window and let the neighbors see you, or they may think you’re crazy. If you buy it, let it sit in a closet, and expect to wear it during a long-term engagement and still be effective with your weapon(s) and not dehydrate and/or stroke out, you have probably never worn armor for a living. You are in for a big surprise. Add extreme heat, the stress of actual combat, and physical exertion to this picture, and you may not last more than 20 minutes. You must be acclimated to the gear you intend to use. This is training 101. It would be like a fireman having never put on the fire-retardant suit and breathing apparatus and assuming that they could run into a smoke-filled room and be effective. Speaking of firemen, remember that God made Police so that Firemen could have heroes. 🙂

MOLLE gear is great, and I suggest that type of rig for whatever armor you decide on. That way, you can attach mag pouches, other accessory pouches, and of course, a hydration bladder. Position these according to your needs and personal preferences. PALS webbing is another option, and it will work with or comes on MOLLE gear.

A word about Kevlar helmets.

Team Wendy Exfil Ballistic Helmet
Team Wendy Exfil Ballistic Helmet

If it’s in the budget, go for it. I’ve seen these in flea markets for $30. I like the Team Wendy Exfil Ballistic Helmet, but be aware that a lot of these show up stolen, and you go into this transaction knowing that you are probably buying stolen merchandise. Pawnshops and military surplus stores also carry these in new and used conditions and even if it is stolen when you buy from a legitimate business, the worst that could happen are you end up having to return the item, and you may lose the money. If you get your hands on one, practice with it just like you would with the body armor. They can be cumbersome and annoying. Wear it knowing that you may still need medical attention if it happens to stop a pistol round from entering your skull. Think getting hit in the head with a 5- pound hammer. The only real difference is that Kevlar spreads the impact out over a larger area, and the bullet does not enter your cranial cavity. Your body armor is pretty much the same. Yes, it can stop many rounds, but broken ribs, bruised organs, internal bleeding, etc. can and do often occur.

Arsenal On A Budget: Summary

  • Rifle- You should be able to shoot it effectively under a variety of circumstances. It should have the right balance of stopping power, size, and weight based on your abilities/physical fitness, and it should get the job done under a variety of circumstances. Stick with the caliber you have stockpiled and/or one that will likely be readily available 5.56, 7.62 NATO, 7.62 x 39, or if you have the ammo stockpiled the FNP90 in 5.57 is a possibility. It should have a rail and an excellent quality 2- point sling.
  • Pistol- You should be able to shoot it effectively under a variety of circumstances, and it should get the job done under a variety of circumstances. Stick to 9mm or .45 unless you have something else stockpiled. Go with a full size 4.5” or longer barrel and one that has a rail for attachments.
  • Armor & Fitness- Bear in mind your limitations. As a start, try a slow jog or fast walk for a mile (assuming you’re not on a cardiac watch list) in all of your gear one time, and this should help you decide what is realistic for you. I can’t tell you where to do that without someone inevitably calling 911 if you do it in public view. Keep in mind any ordinances or laws in your state that might apply. You might want to do it in your house or on a treadmill in your house or maybe use the stairs in your house rather than have the local SWAT team activated. If you can jog a couple of hundred yards in all your gear and immediately shoot reasonable groups at 50-100 yards with your rifle, or sprint 50 yards and do the same, you are probably at a reasonable compromise in terms of armor coverage and the ability to still be effective in a firefight. How hard you are breathing and your ability to adjust for that will determine the size of your shot group. Again, you will have to find an appropriate place to do this that doesn’t violate the law and put you on a government watch list. This is also where physical fitness becomes so important. If you train non-stop, every day like Navy SEALS, you will find that level of training quite beneficial should something like this ever occur.


This is written for entertainment “mostly,” but many of us in law enforcement, military, and plenty of people that have never done either, do think about these scenarios. We cannot help it. It is in our nature. If you are one of us, you will know what I’m talking about. That does not make us crazy, and it certainly does not mean that we want this to happen. It is up to people like us to set the example through our conduct.

“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” ~ Winston Churchill.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Will Flatt

The liklihood of ‘this’ happening is going up dramatically as the Left radicalizes more and more every day. There are so many overt threats to KIA POTUS that the Secret Service either misses them or lacks the manpower to investigate. The threat to POTUS extends to his most ardent supporters with Leftist elected officials egging on THEIR supporters to commit acts of intimidation, violence, even murder on these people. Yet these Leftist politicians & celebrities are not being checked. Their criminal actions go unchallenged, emboldening street level Leftist thugs. The very fact that this must be discussed at all tells… Read more »

Deplorable Bill

The very best firearm to have in an emergency is…. the one you have with you. I got to qualify with an AK-47 in the Army. A dinner plate sized group at 100 meters was normal for that particular weapon. A friend of mine has a warssr ? and it groups about 2 1/2″ at 25 yds. It is not impossible but it’s difficult to find a good AR-15 that will not group 3″ at 100 yds. Of course I also qualified with M-16’s, M-60, M-14’s, M-21’s, 1911’s etc. ALL of the rifles were very capable of landing a hit… Read more »


Great article. The fitness part is more important than anything really. Second is applied knowledge and training. Third is load-out specifics. There is also another component I believe most folks ignore and that’s network. Have a robust network within your community, a team of like minded folks that can muster up and train together with IFF. I would recommend that you go with 5.56N in an AR platform versus an AK. Properly utilizing the range of your weapons is a component to survival in the battle-space: the AR is a significant improvement over the AK. If we are talking about… Read more »

Will Flatt

5.56N (SS109) is good but personally I roll with my AR10 in .308WIN (7.62×51). I keep my AR15 in reserve. Both have full length barrels – not carbine length – to milk all of those cartridges’ capability. Weather is cooler now, people ought to get out and exercise outdoors with their full steel plate carrier under their jacket, to maximize the benefit of toting their weight.