In a SHTF situation, having survival weapons and the knowledge to use them is an incredible advantage. Your ability to protect and feed both yourself and your loved ones in a dangerous situation will dictate whether or not make through the crisis. But, bow or gun?
Which is the best the survival weapon? It’s been an ongoing debate between survivalists dating back almost as far as firearms themselves. Now it’s your turn to weigh in… where do you stand on this issue?
One might prefer guns over bows or probably use both but just like anything else that is existing in this world, each one of them has their pros and cons, advantages and advantages in a survival situation. So scroll down and learn what they are and choose which one will fit you best.
Bows or Guns? Battle of the Survival Weapons
Most survivalists are very loyal to their survival weapons. No matter what your weapon of choice, chances are, you believe that you’re armed with the most effective weapon available that’s going to get you through any SHTF situation. But when it comes to survival weapons, which one comes out on top: a bow or a gun? Firearms are ahead in the race for both max firing distance from target and rate of projectiles ale to be fired. Though that high rate use of firearm ammo can also be their downfall. Don’t get on your high horse yet, firearm lovers…though traditional bow hunters shouldn’t saddle up just yet either.
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While each has its own strength, they also have weaknesses when comparing real world use, especially in a post-event situation when our access to ammo or arrows and ability to repair guns or complex crossbows might be restricted. We will compare the pros and cons of both weapons platforms and try to give you the best one to pick for both short-term and/or long-term survival situations. One is not really better than the other, as each has the power to kill efficiently, but there are many factors to consider. As always in a real world situation, the one you have close at hand (and know how to use) will always be the best choice.
Bow Weapons: Pros and Cons
Survival bow weapons, just like guns, come in many shapes and sizes depending on your needs. Survival bows can be just about anything, from a twig and paracord to a premade, high-end takedown bow with over 80 lbs of a draw in a bug out bag. Doesn’t mean I would choose this over a rifle and handgun if available. Now that being said, if I had the choice between a pistol with only 3 rounds and a bow with only 3 arrows, I’m always going to pick the bow. An enemy can waste 3 shots on you running between trees before they are screwed, and you just have to find a way to pick up ammo that missed to reuse again or make some more on the go. You won’t see that done in a real world situation with firearms unless he pulls out a reloading kit with powder from thin air and hopes you don’t sneak up behind him mid-process.
- Bow weapons are my #1 long term weapon choice, for the pure fact that even if I run out of ammo, I’m still OK. A deer could run off with my last arrow in its leg, leaving me hungry. But all I need to do is make a new arrow from the many different available materials in both wild and urban environments to be back on the hunt.
- The second greatest trait of bows is their silence when properly using string silencers. Not all survival situations are against animals. So if your enemy is smart, he will more than likely track you down based on the direction an arrow came from if they saw it flying towards them.
- However, the slow speed of an arrow compared to a bullet, along with no sound at the moment of firing as mentioned above, gives you the chance to be long gone from that spot before the arrow hits the target, alerting them to your location.
- The bow’s rate of fire, especially crossbows, has long been their main sighted downfall, even going back to middle ages. Such criticism is being argued even more so today, as modern firearms increase rates of fire, and new technology is preventing regular misfires.
- Training for proper and accurate use of the bow is tough. There are some quick fire archers out there that can shoot 3 targets in the head, all while running, in under 1.5 seconds. However, they took years of training in archery form, speed knocking arrows, and aim to get that good. The average survivalist who just grabbed a bow for the first time will not have those results. Not even close. That’s why practicing now is so important.
- Bow shots must be done from a much closer range than a rifle. Meaning that it requires a high degree of situational awareness and stealth efforts to get as close as possible without alerting the target to your presence. Many survival bows will require you to be as close as 30 – 50 yards from your targets.
Firearm Weapons: Pros and Cons
Firearms, in the simplest of terms, are more powerful weapons. Many modern rifles are capable of hitting targets over 600 yards down range accurately without a bead of sweat being broken by the shooter. The ammo has the ability to drop a target on the spot, making them sit in shock as they slowly bleed out, leaving the shooter without the need to track down the animal. Tracking, in fact, is a task often left to bowhunters who need to find their target’s final resting spot before they can field dress the meat. However it does have one very great con that is also its main pro; one that makes it only my short term choice in a survival situation, or as something that I would only use as a self-defense option in longer term survival situations.
- Rates of fire & long distance from targets will depend widely on the type of firearm used, type of metal used for the bullet, and the ammo’s powder grain weight in the case. Though even with all those factors, you will still be able to hit a target at a greater distance than a bow, even with just a simple .22 LR round.
- Stopping power and ability to take targets down on the spot of impact with minimal effort are beyond compare. Bow weapons don’t stand a chance…unless your “arrows” have explosive tips straight out of Rambo.
- Unlike bows, firearms are very easy to pick up and learn how to stop something in its tracks. We have seen this proven time and again with children used in conflict zones. Add to that the number of news reports here in the US, where children were able to use a parent’s firearm to hold off intruders. Even if you are not a crack shot, the deafening sound of the gunshot is often enough to make them second guess their attempts to continue (and who wouldn’t shudder in their boots hearing the classic shotgun cocking from behind a door?).
- Ammo shortages have been a major issue even in this modern world of today, even if factories are manufacturing rounds after rounds of ammunition on a daily basis because of its high demand. In urban environments, even if you found someone with reloading kits to barter with for new ammo reloads, you’re going to pay top dollar (or top barter) due to supply and demand. Every round counts, so practice can cost you an arm and a leg unlike with bows where you can use the arrows again and again.
- Not all bullets are made the same. Even if you can find ammo or your come across someone else’s bug out ammo stash in the woods it probably wouldn’t be compatible. The fact is, yes, the ammo may be the right caliber for your firearm. And yes, it shoots and you hit targets. You may suddenly feel safely invisible again. The real question, though, is what type of load is it? What amount of powder is behind that round in the casing? Don’t forget, just because your rifle took down a bear 5 years ago, doesn’t mean it will work the same with some ammo you just randomly found. Those new rounds may only have a small powder load; barely enough to take down Bambi.
- YOU MUST KEEP YOUR GUN CLEAN. This is the golden rule drilled into any firearms training. You say, “well I have a gun cleaning kit,” but is it in your bug out bag or EDC bag when the time comes? What happens when you run out of gun oil with no alternative you can use near at hand? You can have all the ammo in the world, but if you loose your ability to clean your weapons, then you won’t be shooting much in the long term before the rounds jammed mid-barrel, or blows the gun assembly apart. Such an event will damage the weapon likely beyond normal field repair. Now if you’re just trying to survive for a day or two in your car, until the search party reaches you, I would call that a short-term survival situation. But if you’re in an all-too-feasible “get outta Dodge” situation, forget about it.
- The sound is the biggest con for firearms, as this fact alone can present many challenges that a bow weapon does not have. Should an arrow miss the target, the deer may look up from the noise of it rushing by like a bird, allowing a second shot chance, but chances are good it won’t run like it will from the blast of a gun. This noise will also alert other people in the area to your presence. Not all fellow survivors you run into will want to help you or try to barter, they will want to take what is yours. Many of these people will want your ammo and also that new-found dinner that you did all the hard work to find for them. Hell, if they are lucky, you might be too busy field dressing that animal after your hunt to even not notice them sneak up.
Difference in Ammo
Both ammo types impact targets in a very different way. This is something that really needs be understood, as it does weigh in on the choice of weapons, just as much as the weapon itself.
- The bullet gets its stopping power from kinetic energy transferred from the round to muscle and bone upon impact. It is this bone crushing impact that takes down the target and leaves it dazed on the spot to bleed out and die.
- The ammo can spoil, and rounds can be useless with powder damaged by oil if you leave the gun oil cap off after cleaning in your bug out bag with ammo.
- Ammo can fit a firearm, but that does not mean it has the same stopping power as the ammo you are used to firing. When you’re trying to take down a bear, that is the wrong time to find out the ammo you found doesn’t have a strong powder load…though you won’t have much time to regret it.
- Recoil from gasses released by gunpowder ignition can cause aim to travel. An inexperienced rifleman can “spray and prey” a hundred rounds, never hitting a target only yards away and wasting endless belts of ammo. Stick to 3-round bursts in conflicts with people who seek to do you harm in a survival situation. Though if planning to use firearms for long term survival, you need to adopt the ever famous “one shot, one kill” mantra to conserve precious ammo.
- The arrow gets it power from kinetic energy as well, released by the bowstring instead of explosive powders. The arrow, however, creates a low recoil, giving you the ability to conceal your position more effectively.
- The arrow’s kinetic energy is transferred to the arrowhead tip, which uses broadhead blades to slice through blood vessels and nervous systems clean through the other side, often fully exiting the animal. This can leave an animal with large internal organ failure, while the deer just keeps eating, not sure what the little pinch of pain in its side was after it looks around.
- Arrows are silent to their bullet counterparts. Silent but deadly, kinda like grandpa’s farts.
- Arrows can not be fired as far as a bullet, but they can be fired in arches similar to archers that attacked high wall structures with long bows. The original use of broadheads and long bows was to be able to throw heavy arrows over high walls, which then came down with tremendous kinetic energy as they fell back to earth by gravity. Don’t expect to shoot an arrow straight at a target miles away, it will just slowly drop until it tumbles along and hits the ground. This is again the downfall of arrows and bows, as users truly need long term practice with a number of shooting challenges to overcome in order to use a bow as effectively as a rifle.
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Watch this video for more info on choosing the ideal gun in a survival situation!
Does this mean I would not use a gun if available to me in a long term SHTF situation? The answer will always be “of course.” I would use the firearm if I was given a choice, however, the difference would be in its overall long term use and worries about conservation of ammo supplies. I would not use the firearm for my daily use weapon for tracking and hunting animals to keep my family alive. I will always have a bow ready to go for hunting, even if it’s the most makeshift bow I ever made. I would be saving the hard-to-source firearm ammo for self-defense engagements against others who intend do my family harm or take my supplies. Those are the only situations I would feel OK wasting firearm ammo.
As a simple hunting option for food production, I don’t see the wise choice in using a firearm. Not because I think guns are bad, or because I am a bow traditionalist, but the pure fact of there being a number of techniques survivalist have available to track animal trails, place spiked hole traps, or snares if a bow is not around, in order to conserve precious firearm ammo. So get out there and start practicing. You may never need to use a bow in a survival situation, but you’ll be damn glad you’re ready if the time ever comes. Penny for your thoughts? Tell us what you think about this article. We would like to hear from you. You can drop your two cents in the comments below.
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Looking for more survival weapons? Check out these awesome survival knives here!
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