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5 Important Calibers That Cover Any Situation

5 Important Calibers That Cover Any Situation

When deciding which guns you would like to have in your arsenal, you have to also think about which calibers you would like those guns to be in. 

In fact, the decision as to which calibers you will own and stock up on is equally as important as the type, make, and model of firearms you will buy.

Not all calibers are equal, and some are far more useful and versatile than others. It’s also a good idea to go with calibers that are more popular or common, because the more common calibers will be significantly less expensive to buy (ammo isn’t cheap), not to mention that it will also be easier to find in the event of an ammunition shortage or disaster scenario.


What Qualities Do Your Chosen Calibers Need To Have? 

Since we’re limiting ourselves to just five separate calibers to have in your arsenal, it’s important to have an idea of what qualities those calibers need to meet.

What you need to do is ask yourself for what purposes you need to own firearms for. Most people would probably answer that they need firearms for the following purposes (or any combination of them):

  • Casual Target Shooting
  • Small Game Hunting
  • Bird Hunting
  • Big Game Hunting
  • Personal Defense/Home Defense/Property Defense
  • Long Distance Shooting
  • Tactical Training

Therefore, your five calibers (together) need to allow you to do each of the above tasks.

Additional qualities that your chosen calibers should meet include the following:

  • Be Relatively Inexpensive
  • Be Readily Available
  • Be Versatile (able to perform multiple different tasks if possible)
  • Be Easy For You To Shoot

Now let’s talk about some calibers that effortlessly meet each of these qualities.

Here are the top five most important calibers to have for your gun arsenal.


.22 Long Rifle (LR)

The first caliber to own is the classic .22 LR. No gun collection is complete without at least some type of .22 rifle or pistol in it. 

There are many benefits to owning a weapon chambered in .22 LR. This is one of the most versatile calibers on the planet, and it can fulfill many purposes that other calibers cannot.

One such advantage to the .22 LR is how small it is. You can buy .22 ammunition in bulk and it will take up very little space.

.22 LR also has low noise and preciously limited felt recoil when fired. This serves multiple purposes: it’s a great round for casual plinking and keeping your shooting skills up, for shooting when you have neighbors or other people nearby, and for introducing new people to shooting with.

.22 LR is also the perfect caliber for small game hunting and pest control for homesteading.

Overall, .22 LR is definitely one of the five most important calibers that you can have. It will be most effective when used in a semi-automatic rifle such as the Ruger 10/22, Marlin 60, or the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22.

If you would rather go with a semi-automatic handgun for your .22 firearm, examples you can choose from include the Ruger Mark III/Mark IV, the Ruger SR22, the Browning Buckmark, the Smith & Wesson Victory, and the Walther P22.

For a revolver .22 handgun, your top choices will be the Ruger Single Six, the Ruger SP101 or GP100 in .22 caliber, the Smith & Wesson Model 63, or the Taurus Model 94.

All in all, the benefits of .22 LR can be summarized as follows:

  • Cheap and Plentiful
  • Can Be Stored In Bulk With Limited Space
  • Great For Target Shooting
  • Great For Introducing New People To Shooting
  • Low Noise
  • Minimal Recoil
  • Great For Small Game Hunting and Pest Control


12 Gauge 

Next up is the 12 Gauge. Every gun arsenal needs to have a pump action shotgun in it, and as far as calibers are concerned, the 12 gauge is your best choice.

For one thing, the 12 gauge is the most common shotgun round there is, which means it is incredibly cheap and easy to find. You should easily be able to acquire a box of twenty-five rounds of 12 gauge for only five dollars or so.

12 gauge is available in three primary ammo types: birdshot, buckshot, and slugs. Between these three, birdshot can be used for bird hunting and small game hunting, buckshot for combat and self-defense, and slugs for big game hunting at moderate distances.

If you think about it, the twelve gauge shotgun technically fulfills every possible need that you would have for a firearm, other than concealed carry or long-distance shooting.

Examples of common shotguns chambered for the 12 gauge include the Mossberg 500/590/590A1, the Remington 870, and the Winchester SXP.

All in all, the benefits of the 12 gauge can be summarized as follows: 

  • Great for bird hunting with birdshot
  • Great for big game hunting at moderate distances with slugs
  • Great for home defense with buckshot
  • Readily Available
  • Inexpensive


9mm Luger 

The single most important pistol or handgun caliber that you can own, without a doubt, is 9mm Luger. This is the pistol ammunition to stockpile if you can only stockpile one.

The reason why is because the 9mm is easily the most common pistol round on the planet. It’s inexpensive and readily available, at ten to twelve dollars for a box of fifty rounds in most areas. 

The 9mm Luger also has a number of advantages beyond its popularity. It has moderate to low recoil in comparison to other pistol calibers such as .40 S&W or .45 ACP. This means that fast and accurate follow up shots are more than possible, and it’s also a round that women or smaller statured shooters can easily control.

Another advantage to the 9mm is the fact that many pistols chambered for it carry a lot of bullets: 15, 16, 17, 18, or even 19 rounds and beyond in some weapons. This will minimize the amount of reloading that you will have to do should you get in a firefight. 

Examples of common and reliable pistols chambered for the 9mm include the Browning Hi-Power, Beretta 92FS, Beretta Px4, Glock 17/19, Heckler & Koch P30, Smith & Wesson M&P, SIG Sauer P226/P229, Springfield XD, Taurus PT92, and the Walther P99/PPQ.

All in all, here are the summarized benefits to owning a pistol in 9mm:

  • Cheap To Shoot
  • Lesser Recoil
  • Carries A Lot Of Bullets In The Magazine
  • Readily Available
  • Sufficient Stopping Power With Self-Defense Loads


5.56x45mm NATO

One of the guns in your arsenal will need to be a semi-automatic, military-style, defensive rifle, and the best caliber for this task will be the 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington. Examples of semi-auto rifles chambered for this round include the AR-15, Ruger Mini-14, and the IWI Tavor.

The 5.56x45mm NATO is a great combat round thanks to its overall effectiveness and moderate recoil. It can also be used for hunting small to moderately sized game as well, such as hogs or deer.

5.56x45mm NATO is also widely available across the United States and is reasonably priced as well, usually coming in at five to six dollars for a box of twenty (and sometimes less than that when bought in bulk).

The primary benefits of the 5.56x45mm NATO are as follows:

  • Greater velocity and greater range than a pistol round
  • Low Recoil/Easy To Control
  • Greater range and less recoil than a shotgun
  • Carries A Lot Of Bullets In The Magazine, Which Means Less Reloading
  • Inexpensive and Abundantly Plentiful


.308 Winchester  

Finally, you’re going to need a caliber that bring down larger game and tap targets at long distances. While there are a wide variety of different popular calibers that could easily fulfill this role for you, the most common and available is the is the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO.

The .308 is a little more reasonably priced than some of its closest competitors such as .30-06 Springfield, and as a round used by the military and law enforcement will likely be more available in a disaster scenario as well. 

The .308 also has more than enough range and power to drop almost any kind of large game in North America.

Examples of popular semi-automatic rifles chambered for the .308 include the AR-10, Springfield M1A, HK G3/PTR91, and the FN FAL.

Examples of popular bolt-action rifles chambered for the .308 include the Remington Model 700, Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye, and the Winchester Model 70.

Overall, here are the primary benefits to the .308 Winchester round:

  • Sufficient For Most North American Big Game
  • Greater Range than the 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Greater Power Than The 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Common and Readily Available


Alternative Calibers

These are just the top five suggestions for calibers to have in your arsenal, if you could limit yourself to only five.

However, there are alternatives that you can go with for each one as well. For example, as an alternative to the 12 Gauge, you could go with the 20 Gauge. 20 Gauge is a fairly popular and inexpensive round, and it offers tremendously less recoil (so long as the shotgun itself is not lighter), which would make it preferable for women, children, and smaller statured shooters.

You may believe that you’re sacrificing a lot of power with the 20 gauge, but the truth is that it is more than sufficient for personal defense needs. One 20 gauge buckshot round at close distance, for example, has stopping power equal to two .44 Magnum bullets going off at once.

Two alternatives to the 9mm would be the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP. The 9mm is cheaper than either of those options, which is why it is more recommended, but both the .40 and the .45 are readily available. They don’t carry quite as many bullets in the magazine and do have greater recoil, but they also undoubtedly have superior stopping power.

An alternative to the 5.56x45mm NATO would be the 7.62x39mm, which is chambered for rifles such as the AK-47 and the SKS. The 7.62x39mm actually has greater stopping power than the 5.56x45mm NATO (roughly equal to a .30-30), but is also slightly less accurate. If the AK-47 style of rifle would be your choice for a defensive rifle, then the 7.62x39mm would be your caliber of choice here as well.

There is an abundance of alternatives to the .308 Winchester, ranging from the .270 Winchester to the 7mm Remington Magnum to the .30-06 Springfield to the .300 Win Mag and the .338 Win Mag. Each of these calibers are also common and easy to find, but they also tend to be more expensive than the .308. The .308 is currently the most popular hunting cartridge in the United States as well as worldwide, which is why it comes recommended first.



In conclusion, all of your possible needs for owning firearms will be fulfilled by the .22 LR, 12 Gauge, 9mm Luger, 5.56x45mm NATO, and the .308 Winchester. However, you still do have plenty of alternatives like we just discussed, so don’t feel that you have to be fully limited to only these five calibers that we have suggested.

What’s more important than the specific caliber(s) that you choose is how many bullets you stockpile. The time may come where you can no longer buy ammunition directly off the shelves (at least not inexpensively), and in a true long term/large scale disaster scenario ammunition will become a rare trading commodity.

The golden rule to follow is to store a minimum of one thousand rounds of ammunition per caliber. Yes, that’s a lot of ammo, but you can minimize costs by buying only 1-2 boxes a week or buying ammo in bulk packs where the price per bullet will be a little less.

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