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Which is Best: Bows or Guns

Having an awesome piece of weaponry within your disposal and convenience in an SHTF situation is certainly an advantage that every prepper knows. Danger may come in different forms so it is better to be armed and secure. But what are the best survival weapons you can use in an emergency situation? Is it bows? Or is it guns? To help you choose what will suit you the most, we’ve come up with this article that will tell you the pros and cons of these weapons as well as their ammunitions. So read on and find out more about it.

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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.

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

Bow Weapons: Pros and Cons | Which is Best: Bows or Guns

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.

ATTENTION: This 11,000 year old tool altered human history…and it JUST got a massive facelift.

 

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.
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Firearm Weapons: Pros and Cons

Firearm Weapons: Pros and Cons | Which is Best: Bows or Guns

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.

Pros:

  • 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?).

Cons:

  • 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.

Firearm Ammo

Firearm Ammo | Which is Best: Bows or Guns

  • 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.

Bow Hunting Ammo

Bow Hunting Ammo | Which is Best: Bows or Guns

  • 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.

Survival Weapons | Which is Best: Bows or Guns

When you’re out in the field, be sure to have your Paracord Survival Fishing Kit ready. 

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Looking for more survival weapons? Check out these awesome survival knives here

Featured Image Via whybiotech.ca

 

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63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. tpfortin

    January 7, 2018 at 9:50 PM

    Would love to get better with a bow if I didn’t have physical limitations that prevented me from doing so.

  2. George

    December 24, 2017 at 4:55 AM

    Can i interest you in some slingshots with lead ammo? 🙂
    Dont get me wrong i have been practicing with a bow for several years and have a few with a gun. But in a city a powerful slingshot maybe more useful. or just as a complimentary weapon to your arsenal.

  3. Prepper

    July 23, 2017 at 5:14 PM

    Small game simply does provide enough calories to make them worth hunting over the long haul especially if you have a large family. Use snares and traps for small game. Have non gmo non hybrid seeds to grow crops they will be your main source of food. Have some chickens or rabbits to eat your leftover scraps to recycle your food waste. Austrolorp Chickens and New Zealand White Rabbits are great as a food and fur source. Austrolorp chickens will eat left over scraps and the rabbits will eat all your vegetable scraps and the weeds/grasses in your gardens. Rabbits also provide great fertilizer for your garden. Have a revolver or pistol to be on you at all times for self defense. Handguns are easy to carry with you at all times not rifles or shotguns. Its a pain in the butt to carry a rifle or shotgun everywhere you go. Save rifle or shotguns for hunting or home defense you will not need them everday you are most likely not in a battle at all times. If bad people see that you are armed they will just find another way to kill you like sniping you or poisoning your food. People are not dumb if they want something they will find a way to get it with the least danger to themsleves. Form a community people never survive alone for long. People who are divided are easily defeated when bad guys form groups to take your things. Inner City Thugs are just as armed as you and have the ability and will to kill and rob you if you are alone. They are less likely to attack a community of armed preppers.

    • Prepper

      July 23, 2017 at 5:15 PM

      Small game simply does NOT provide enough calories I mean.

  4. Phillip Owens SFC Ret

    May 10, 2017 at 4:44 PM

    What has been left out of this discussion are Airguns, modern Airguns can have significant power and ammunition is inexpensive and can be handmade if necessary. Calibers run all the way from.177 to .50cal , some are breakbarrel and are repeatable by just recooking , others may require the air cylinders to be recharged by hand pumps if other more efficient sources are unavailable.
    Both the FX independent and FX Indy have pumps built into the gun and do not require anything but self pumping to 3000 psi, a very self sufficient weapon in SHTF situations.
    Not as long range as a powder weapon but ammunition is small light and a single tin may have as many as 1000 rounds, so carrying a significant number is exceptionally easy! accuracy can be exceptional even out to as much as 75/100 yards.
    Enjoy

  5. Thomas

    May 10, 2017 at 2:05 PM

    I have always had both it is not either or question Reloading and a generous supply of
    Arrow heads is my best solution to last long term.

  6. Bob in Florida

    May 9, 2017 at 11:35 PM

    My current options range from – slingshot, BB/pellet pistol – CO2 powered, pellet rifle – air powered, bow and arrow, a multitude of firearms (ranging from subsonic .22, low-noise .22, up to .30-30 rifle and a number of handguns. I used to be proficient with long bow and recurve bow – but, over the years have lost that familiarity as firearms became more familiar to me.

    I started practicing with the sling shot and air/CO2 weapons in the past couple years. Still have to reacquire bow and arrow skill and I am planning to practice/experiment with a simple sling, spears, and machetes. I like to retain all the options I can.

  7. Doug Cox

    May 9, 2017 at 9:25 PM

    Obviously, the time to learn to use any weapon system is now, while the pressures of dire survival are not absorbing all your time and resources. If you opt for the bow/crossbow as your primary survival tool – choosing not to carry a firearm along with your primary tool – now is the time to learn and/or hone your firearm skills, too, so that you are not looking at a finely-machined club when you find one during your survival stint. Conversely, if your primary survival tool choice is a firearm, learn to use and/or make your bow and arrow set.

    Assuming your survival situation is not strictly personal (that is, you are part of a general societal, political, or technological collapse), ammo supply for firearms is going to be an inevitable problem. While specialized or exotic ammo may outperform anything available at your local dealer, your best bet is sticking to survival ammo types in most common use (.22LR, .30-30, .308, 12GA, etc.). If your survival planning includes the possibility of fighting against organized, totalitarian-controlled police and/or military/paramilitary forces, ammo/firearm choices should include whatever the enemy is carrying. That sort of thing has been borne out in partisan conflicts throughout modern history.

    A last word about survival ammo selection – in that period when you are one of the last of a dwindling, scattered few left alive or at liberty, save your heavy boomers for combat at contact, not for hunting. The .22LR sound does not carry anywhere near the distance of the heavy or combat loads. Here, too, is where the bow/crossbow comes into its own. You just will not know who will be tracking the sound of your shot. Maybe someone as hungry as you are.

  8. shadowlee

    May 9, 2017 at 8:27 PM

    Still have my slingshot!!!

  9. Phil Witte

    May 9, 2017 at 4:39 PM

    I grew up with a bow and I love them. Problem is due to my age, artherritis in my hands and shoulders, I can’t effectively use them anymore.

  10. Russell Purkey

    May 9, 2017 at 4:22 PM

    OK, I’m very good with a Rifle, Pistol or Shotgun.
    But, No such thing as Enough ammo when the SHTF.

    Thus I also have a Crossbow as I don’t have the time to become proficient with a Bow.
    And yes, I need more ammo for that as well. I do have a small pile.

    all else fails, I have real Armor and Swords from medieval times.
    And Yes, I can use them.

  11. CaptTurbo

    May 9, 2017 at 4:05 PM

    I have taken more than 70 deer with my compound and my crossbow. I have taken ground hogs and turkey with them as well so I know I can feed myself well with archery. However, when it comes to survival instead of sport, the hands down, number one choice is a rifle. A suppressed rifle would be the ticket for stealth.
    One thing that was missed in this whole thing was airguns. The world of airguns has really advanced. I have a suppressed Ruger Yukon in .22 that spits pellets at 1050 fps and does it nearly silently. This rifle is sold with a suppressor as are many others. If you want to get into PCP rifles you can take down anything including a Bison in one shot.
    I have a huge collection of airguns and the beauty is that I can practice all day long with the smaller calibers for a couple dollars. These guns are not toys. I have two RWS rifles that will repeatedly hit house flies dead center at 50 yards using a bipod and a sand bag. Perfect ring of blood every shot. Give that some thought.

  12. Timothy Mcphillips

    May 9, 2017 at 4:02 PM

    both, you may want to take an animal without arousing everyone in the neighborhood, but then a silencer would work too

  13. Ralph H Moran

    May 9, 2017 at 3:04 PM

    We are talking about survival, so folks we must think out of the box of one or the other and think about both. Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages, so it depends on the situation at the time. let’s go for food big game or small what are you looking for and what about where you are, are there any dangers of giving your position away? are you defending your hide? how many adversaries are there? are they armed? all these things must be taken into account it is not this or that it is always what advantage do I have to use this weapon or that weapon.
    If I am defending my food source and I need to be quiet then the bow if it doesn’t matter the gun for now distance is the advantage I want. How many adversaries are there? I have set booby traps around my hide some are warnings some are deadly. I make no bones about killing another human being if I have too, it is not my first choice but it is also not my last choice but it will be theirs. Large game, how good am I at sneaking up and getting close, bow or gun? Am I in a city or rural area or in the country. All these things must be taken into account. Books have been written about this.

  14. Mike Eaton

    May 9, 2017 at 1:59 PM

    Interesting to note that with all this discussion about bows in ALL the pictures nobody is using the bow correctly, that will slow down you rate of shooting off your arrows (sorry despite all Hollywood has taught us you can’t “Fire” a bow!) I’ll leave all the so called “experts” (ex is a “has been”, spurt is a “drip under pressure”) to figure out what I’m talking about with the bow

  15. Jeff Schwersinske

    May 9, 2017 at 1:34 PM

    I got all my bow,s ten point cross & my Fred bear,need info to find the best place home stead,cabin little land,info thanks [email protected]

  16. Great Western

    May 9, 2017 at 12:57 PM

    Both have benefits obviously and the article does a good job pointing them out. Arrows are slower but can penetrate body armor. Most human engagements happen at close range (unless you hung out with Chris Kyle). Arrows are quiet and if you hit your target who cares where it came from. I shoot both compound and recurve bows. With my recurve I can shoot a 6″ group of 6 arrows in under 15 seconds at 25 yards. I can also shoot off horseback with a bow or a pistol at a fast gallop. Carrying a combination is best. Recurve bow and a .22 pistol. Oh – and TONS of practice with both. Fight like you train and train like you fight.

  17. Wrip

    May 9, 2017 at 12:20 PM

    The circumstances determine the answer. What is most appropriate to the task at hand.

  18. William

    May 9, 2017 at 11:39 AM

    For range and stealth I have a 410 fps crossbow and scope, which is perfect for every day hunting. I also carry a 22. because the ammo is light and cheap, a hundred rounds can fit in your pockets easily. I have a shotgun for base camp and water fowl. The truth is that one needs a variety of gear to include traps, fishing tackle, shelter and at least a supply of dry foods for 6 months and the seeds to produce a garden. The right answer for gun or bow is that both are needed for SHTF survival, plus more and a lot of knowledge on how to use everything that is available.

  19. Whaledriver

    May 9, 2017 at 11:06 AM

    If stealth is the issue, I’d go with the bow — especially short-range, or when setting a stand-off ambush.

    When it comes to choosing one weapon over another, each has its attributes and deficiencies. A good hunter can use them all.

  20. Mikey

    May 9, 2017 at 9:55 AM

    As John MacLane schooled Hans Gruber in “Diehard”, the message on the chest of the dead bad guy in the elevator was “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho” Just because you don’t have a gun at the beginning of a conflict, doesn’t mean you can’t get one…by any means. Guns are great, bows and arrows are fine. But a sharp stick or a big club can get the job done, too. Your best weapon is still your brain.

  21. John Doe

    May 9, 2017 at 9:46 AM

    If you are injured or become injured in a SHTF situation you will have difficulty shooting a bow. You will probably still be able to shoot a firearm. Firearm first with a crossbow slung over my back.

  22. Sarge McVey

    May 9, 2017 at 9:20 AM

    For hunting game, ie: Deer or Elk, or even small game such as rabbit I would use a 250# test compound crossbow with an aim point sight, as far as small arms or even long guns the sound can give away the fact that someone just got some meat. In a true survival situation SHTF and there is a total social breakdown, you may not want others to know you just brought down some fresh meat. As for defense the yes more then likely a long gun or semi-auto hand gun with a suppressor would be my choice. My preferred long gun would be a semi-auto with the capability to handle at least a 20/30 round magazine in either .223, 308, or 7.62x39mm. Remember you are your best friend and your family’s survival is more important then that of others unless you belong to a group, in which case you hunt in a team.

  23. Captain Don

    February 2, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    FWIW, It would seem that with the luxury of time to prep for SHTF, a combination of guns and bows would be wise. Fiberglass recurve bows are nearly indestructible. Good wood bows as well but greater care needs to be taken. Good compound bows can last forever with proper care and maintenance. Recurve bows are more versatile with different types of arrow materials. Softer wood arrows can sheer from a compound bows speed and power. Some first hand experience, I never shot more than one arrow with a 43 pound pull bow to kill big NE whitetail deer dead. No deer ever went very far after being struck. The wound channel from a broad head is devastating. I have had many more deer run far and require more than one 12 gauge deer slug. (equal shot placement bow and shotgun) This is noisy, requires more ammo, and caused me to cover more ground which in a SHTF scenario is not good. Also, sometimes you can retrieve your arrow and use again if not damaged. A crossbow takes about 2 minutes to master, and drawing is not an issue with a cocking rope. Great accuracy, great range. They are very loud upon firing and have a great potential for breakage due to the sheer pressures on the bow. A much greater attention to care and maintenance is required. Also, while prepping buy extra bowstrings and all the little parts that break before your life depends on it.

    • BillT

      March 4, 2017 at 10:19 AM

      Excellent point about compound bows and wooden arrows. Even using red oak shafts will get you nothing but a pile of kindling about 6 feet in front of you.

  24. steve

    January 26, 2016 at 2:51 PM

    Would some one tell me what kind of bow is in the girls hand in the first photo?

    • BillT

      March 4, 2017 at 10:02 AM

      Both bows pictured in the article are compound bows; first bow has a reflex-type sight installed and the second has a mechanical/pin open sight.

  25. gamegetter II

    June 29, 2015 at 12:51 PM

    “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.”

    Very,very rarely does a big game animal just drop on the spot,nor do they sit in shock.

    In over 40 years of hunting,I have exactly one animal drop on the spot,and I’m an excellent rifle shot,I’ve taken over 80 deer in my years of hunting-whoever wrote this article is not a hunter.

    This is also not true-

    “while the deer just keeps eating, not sure what the little pinch of pain in its side was after it looks around.”

    No deer just stands there after an arrow has passed through it’s body-I’ve taken 40+ deer with compound,crossbow,and recurve-and not one of them just stood there after an arrow went through it.

    Deer,moose,bears, and elk all run when they are hit with either bullet or arrow. I’ve had a whitetail that was shot through the heart and part of both lungs with a 30-30 run 100yds in the W.Va. mountains,just last year I had a whitetail run 60 yards after being shot through the hear and both lungs with a 240 grain Hornady XTP bullet out of a .50 caliber muzzleloader with 135 grains of Triple7 powder powering it-the lungs in that deer were pretty much liquified by the bullet,the hole in the heart measured .715 as measured with a digital caliper,which means that heart wasn’t capable of pumping blood to the deer’s muscles,and the liquified lungs certainly weren’t capable of providing oxygen to the deer’s blood-yet he ran 60 yards,before dropping dead in a creek he was trying to cross.

    The descriptions of how animals behave after being shot are not even remotely like what takes place in the real world.

  26. Jacob

    November 9, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    I do not agree with the training mentioned for archers to be considered effective because I use a 50# @ 28″ longbow that only took me six-months of dedicated practice to narrow a grouping of two-feet to two-inches. Also one important factor is if your bow and arrows contain no metal then you can get them through airport securtiy without setting off the metal detectors, unlike firearms and ammunition which are almost entirely metal. Also, it is not difficult to make a metal triangular cone that will act like a case full of powder to explode on impact, kind of like rambo.

    There are so many issues that can occur with firearms. Anything from bent iron sights to a bent barrel. A take-down bow can have one of its limbs break which, if the skill is known, can be replaced on the go with acceptable materials at hand. No part of a firearm or the ammunition can be that easily repaired or replaced. What I would choose instead of a firearm is a rail-gun because, if studied, they can be almost as easy as a bow or arrow to maintain.

    • T

      January 7, 2018 at 6:32 PM

      WTF Jacob. Where do the rest of us get a rail-gun that is as easy to maintain as a bow or arrow? Or just a rail-gun, where can i get one of those that’s not in a video game?

  27. Brittany Violette

    September 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    When you really think about if whatever could happen to destory society happens, society will revert back to more primitive style of living. which eventually you will run out of ammo if you have a gun (black powder being the exception) so bow hunting is more logical. when you’re fighting person to person combat it would be smart to learn self defense, and be a trained knife fighter. Personal Opinion.

    • James Andrews

      May 9, 2017 at 9:46 AM

      Have enough ammo!

      • ledesma88

        May 9, 2017 at 10:12 AM

        Really? How much is really enough?

        • James Andrews

          May 9, 2017 at 11:05 AM

          No one can answer that one, but the only advantage bows have over guns are their silence and stealth. One thing is for sure; it’s a hell of a lot easier to carry 500 rounds of .22mag (a good survival round), than to carry 500 broad heads and tons of arrows!

        • Whaledriver

          May 9, 2017 at 11:07 AM

          Too much is never enough.

  28. Donald L. Cline

    July 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    There is another issue not mentioned in this article, which makes me wonder if the author has ever tried to use a bow or especially hunt with a bow. I used to be involved in bow and arrow sports, and the fact of the matter is I could not draw anything with a heavier draw weight than forty pounds. The minimum draw weight for a hunting bow is fifty pounds. And compound bows are no help at all because yeah, they cam over to a holding weight that is quite a bit less than the draw weight, but first you have to draw eighty pounds to get the bow to cam over. A crossbow, with a leveraged way of cocking it MIGHT be worth considering, but you’d better make sure you can cock it first. For me it is firearms every time — and very careful husbanding of ammunition.

    • payton mitchell

      August 6, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      keep the bow in your hands and rifle on your back. that way you will go to your bow first and in close quarters you can easily reach for you pistol.and the rifle should be the last resort especially if your outnumbered. like someone else said what you carry affects your mental state. bravery and cockiness. know your own limitations. dont be rambo and dont be bambi!

    • William

      May 9, 2017 at 11:53 AM

      I have a silent crank to cock my crossbow. Price is an issue for good crossbows which can cost 5 times that of a good 22 rifle, but other than that cocking is not an issue

  29. Mikel

    July 14, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Nicely done. I’ve bow, crossbow, rifle, shotgun and pistol hunted. In my shtf mode I run rifle(or shotgun) for range/power, large caliber/high capacity sidearm for personal protection, and an 80#+ pistol crossbow for hunting. An 8-12″ bolt is easier to make than a 30+” arrow and can take a deer down at close range. Our Ancestors often used crossbows for hunting because it’s faster on the first shot. Typically the one that matters and hit harder. And they need not be complicated as todays. Imho, the basic bow and arrow is an excellent survival tool if nothing else is available. But a crossbow beats it in every way save reloading. And a gravity fed mag and draw claw can remedy that. My pistol xbow holds 8 pencil sized bolts that can be fired as fast as you can draw the claw back.
    Just a thought. Nice article.

  30. SmokeHillFarm

    July 13, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    While I see the advantage of having skill with a bow, I’ve never found the time to practice — and probably never will — so my “silent” weapon is a Barnett crossbow.

    One thing to keep in mind about bows & crossbows, if you are planning for the long-haul SHTF, is the availability of spare strings. You should definitely invest in a dozen or so extras, and it’s probably also smart to stock up on some supplies for the time you may have to make your own bolts or arrows: arrowheads, fletching, and perhaps some dowels to make your “ammunition” from.

  31. James Sarafin

    July 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    I agree with the point that an arrow is silent when you don’t want others to know you are in the area or are hunting.
    But, at least in texas, silencers for rifles are legal.
    On this basis I would lean toward the rifle instead of a bow.

    • Sammy

      March 4, 2017 at 5:09 PM

      Silencers are regulated by the Feds- it still takes a permit to buy one but they are talking about possible deregulation of them.
      I have a lot of subsonic ammo but I would still like to get a bow- both a recurve and a recurve crossbow.

  32. govtrumbull

    July 11, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    I have used four types of weapons for hunting. The .22, center fire; e.g., shotgun and rifle; muzzle loader, and bow and arrow. It might be surprising that my favorite was my muzzle loading rifle. I use a Tompson Center, “Renegade,” .50 cal. It is amazingly accurate out to 200 yards. I have hit clays at 100 yards consistently off hand. The beautiful thing about a well built muzzle loader is the way they are balanced. The Thompson Center’s fit like a third arm. After you learn how to hold, aim and fire, they become a natural way to shoot.

    I like a bow and arrow as well and have taken White Tail Deer with a compound bow. If you want to try a bow you have to practice, practice and practice some more. Forget trying to use a re-curve like Robin Hood’s bow. The farther back you pull, the harder they are to hold, and when a bow is hard to draw back and hold you shake. The re-curve releases the weight of the bow at full draw which makes for much easier shooting. You really have to be good with any bow to hunt with one. They are not humane unless you can really put one on target. When an arrow enters a Deer’s body it constricts the movement of muscle which if placed in a non-lethal part of the animal is extremely painful

    The bow is the last weapon to master and use for hunting.

    The best center-fire cartridge in my opinion is the .308. It is a NATO round and is less expensive and more readily available than the 30-06 and other calibers.

  33. Left Coast Chuck

    July 11, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    For long term survival, simple firearms are, I believe, preferable to semi-auto or full auto. Immediately following an apocalyptic episode, full auto and semi-auto weapons would be preferred until things are sorted out. Following that period, a single shot rifle along the lines of Ruger number 1 or 3 or some other rifle caliber single shot rifle, perhaps preferably in a straight-wall cartridge such as the 45-70 or pistol caliber such as the 44 magnum with a matching single action pistol would be best in a long term survival situation. A rimmed cartridge that head spaces on the rim would provide the easiest cartridge to reload. Black powder could be manufactured if one could obtain the potassium chloride. Primers would be the most valuable item that would be quite difficult to manufacture. It might be that we would be compelled to eventually fall back on muzzle loading firearms with flint igniting devices.

    Instead of spending time now making arrowheads out of spoons which is very low tech and requires no special skills, I would recommend purchasing a supply of commercial broadheads and concentrating on learning out to make primers. What exactly is fulminate of mercury and how does one go about manufacturing it? Are there other substances that will cause a flame of sufficient brisance to ignite home made gunpowder? As one poster stated, it is knowledge that will allow us to survive in the collapse of society. It matters little what weapons society leaves us with at its collapse, it is what we are able to fashion out of our knowledge that will insure long term survival.

    • SmokeHillFarm

      July 13, 2014 at 1:02 AM

      Excellent comparison of the relative advantages of firearms & bows (or crossbows).

      However, bear in mind that there is an excellent “middle ground” here, which is high-powered air guns. Some of the very expensive ones are powerful enough to take big game, but I ignore them since, as I understand it, you have to fill them from an air tank or a compressor — which makes the gun useless for long-term SHTF.

      I chose the RWS Model 34 since RWS is an old German company with a fine reputation among airgun experts. The Model 34 comes in .177 and .22. I chose the .22 caliber, which has a muzzle velocity of around 900 FPS. It is amazingly accurate even without a scope, and will take most small game easily. With a hunting pellet I believe it would at least seriously wound, if not kill, a human at moderate ranges with a head shot. Not the ideal gun for that, but it should allow you to save your .22 and .22 magnum ammo for other things.

      And the ammo costs almost nothing, of course. I stockpiles about 20,000 rounds of various types, which takes up little space & has a shelf life of …. forever. even if if it’s underwater for a few years. What’s not to like?

      And did I mention that it’s near silent, especially compared to an actual firearm? And that it usually sells for around 200 bucks (sometimes less on sale)?

      Just remember to also stock up on the lube oil & cleaning pellets.

      • Great Grey

        July 24, 2014 at 5:40 AM

        So you’re too lazy to use a hand pump? Come-on there ways to get compressed air without electric. Check your bicycle shop. Now there maybe other reasons not to use the high pressure guns but, lack of air pressure is not one of them.

        • Great Grey

          July 24, 2014 at 6:18 PM

          There are hand air pumps made for air rifles.

    • Lumpy

      July 14, 2014 at 9:12 PM

      Can’t help with the formula for primers, LCC, but I can tell you that full auto is a mistake, unless you can carry ammo by the case while running over rough ground. Unlike the machine guns fielded by “Our Hero” on TV and the silver screen, real, magazine-fed MGs are empty within 2-3 seconds of actual firing time. The sound effects in movies are the sound of belt-fed MGs (belts are 27 feet long), and the Hollywood guns aren’t guns at all, but electronic props. While the man with the MG is changing magazines (again) during the firefight, the bad guy can draw a bead on him with a single action revolver and vaporize the machinegun man’s head. Three shot burst isn’t much better, and thinking you’re going to maintain finger pressure discipline after the adrenaline dump which kicks in the moment a shot is fired in anger is pure fantasy. You won’t be able to do what you can do at the range when you’re not afraid of being killed. Semi-auto lets you aim your fire, and use your dwindling supply of ammo more wisely.

  34. Lynn

    July 11, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    I love Survival Life and read all of the articles, but ya’ll have a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes. Sometimes it makes it difficult to read. Great article though!

  35. Gpa Moose

    July 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Age can be a decisive factor; as we become senior citizens (80), muscle strength, balance and flexibility diminish. At this point, firearms have a distinctive advantage. Availability and training are key issues now.

    • Rippie

      March 4, 2017 at 10:49 AM

      Actually, at that point, a compound bow has some real advantages. I started with the bow and rifles at about 8yo.

      I can shoot very well and enjoy the machinery, but ended up, even as a preteen, realizing that in shtf scenarios, as a kid who lived (and senior who still does) in cities, that the bow has some real advantages.

      While true long bows are tough for even my decades-ago hockey-playing self to string and they have tremendous power, they’re awkward to carry with gear. They’re called “long” for a reason and can be challenging to string up and draw. Recurves are much easier to string and are more compact. I think they’re a bit more noisy, though (limb-vibe). They’re also available in pulls and sizes that have overlap so you can get higher pull in shorter bows, though they’re harder to keep drawn and, in my experience, aren’t as accurate as longer recurves of the same pull. Also, the hold pull seems easier on a longer bow.

      But the compound bow, which it a bit awkward in other ways to carry, is short (low peek-over), packs plenty of pull in a small package that is less fragile (if maintained) and the let-off at draw cuts fatigue, important for an old cat like me. I don’t have those huge shoulders and forearms I used to have, and that let-off at draw makes holding very easy and painless.

      Maintenance is more rigorous, obviously, and it does handle a bit differently, but someone who can barely manage a 40# longer recurve can probably handle a 50# compound of any decency. Crossbows are great but you have to keep bending over (loss of situational awareness) to take longer to cock-and-nock your rig. The high-power xbows that can be handled are pretty wide, so you do pay for that energy in other ways, and most xbows are not easy to take down quickly.

      Even an inexpensive compound can feed you and yours. And in an urban setting, range isn’t the biggest consideration, but keeping your location unknown until the dust settles is. When hunting, too, being able to re-collect your arrows for future use, carrying different tips and only one kind of shaft, etc, all pluses.

      Accurate bow use does take practice, but so it is with a rifle, carbine or handgun. Mid-gauge shotguns are the obvious loud weapon since they’re fairly easy to figure out and can be loaded for smaller people to use effective.

      In an urban setting, considerations really are different. Handguns have the same basic questionable utility there, too. Inside the home, the short shotgun is the ideal weapon that anyone in the family can effectively use with little training. Outside, bring your compound and maybe a knock-down recurve as a backup in a tube on the side of your pack and you’re all set as an old cat.

  36. snowman8wa

    July 11, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    I will be using the weapon and ammunition of the DEAD aggressor and subsequent weapons of anybody else who insists on harming me or my family. My arsenal will grow until I am taken out, at which point either my family members will follow suit or the agressor will have a nice arsenal.

    Any weapon, anywhere, any time………….

    Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

    • TPSnodgrass

      July 11, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Have a neighbor/friend, that is an avid bowhunter, not all that experienced firearms. I am quite familiar with firearms so we’ve agreed to exchange training “services” with each other. How can either of us lose? We can’t. I need all the help I can get with a bow, and he, vice-versa. It’s a good match. Share your expertise!

  37. Rich

    July 11, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    My greatest weapon when SHTF? My brain!!

  38. Graywolf

    July 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Great points. I thought I was as thorough as I could when I wrote Archery vs firearms for SHTF weapons but you hit a couple points that I missed, especially about the maintenance required for firearms that you don’t have to do with bows.

    Good show

    • Lumpy

      July 14, 2014 at 9:02 PM

      Actually, GW, the part about the dirty rifle failing to function or blowing up is only a risk with the AR-15 type rifles–they don’t literally blow up, but case heads can be torn off, and without the broken shell extractor ($10 item), your weapon becomes a club. These rifles are particular about ammo and cleanliness, and for that reason, I’ve always avoided them. If you need to use that cartridge, buy a Mini-14–it’s not so particular about ammo or cleanliness. Otherwise, stick with a .30 cal weapon like an AK, Moisin Nagant (best bargain on the market), M1-A, FN/FAL or even bolt action (most accurate for long range)…

  39. Mike

    July 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Good points, all. One I might add, compliments of a book by Robert A. Heinlein, called “Tunnel in the Sky”. When a survivalist is armed with a gun (makes many of us think “great equalizer”), the tendency of the survivalist might be toward thinking of him or her self as a “hunter”, rather than as “prey”. The result can be less time spent making sure to “walk lightly, and leave small footprints” than is advisable. Worse, it might induce the survivalist to leave off due care for not being seen first, in favor of a more macho style “who dat knocking on my door” approach to life.

    Keeping in mind that there will always be bigger bands of tougher, better armed, more determined bullies out there than I, even if it turns out to be not quite true, might well make the difference in the long run.

    And to my thinking, a bow, and a knife, tends to force one to “think small, light, and stealthy”.

    Just food for thought. But it tends to make me think as the author does. I LIKE guns, but in a situation where re-usability can mean the difference between live and dead, I’ll take a bow and a stabbing/cutting tool over a gun, any day.

    Besides, with a bow, you have arrows, which have sharp tips and edges. With a knife, you have the same sharp tips and edges. And a good stout stick, even without a working bow, can be used with those “tips and edges” to make a pike style, or even a halberd style (sticking for the pike, but sticking OR slashing for the halberd) spear.

    • Eredhion

      July 26, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      I totally second that: bow and knife.In my opinion,a good recurve bow and a tough blade are the ultimate survival tools. Maybe adding a machete for good measure.

    • J.R.

      January 25, 2016 at 3:59 PM

      Mike, I’d say they’re all good within a certain set of circumstances. Each particular weapon reigns more or less supreme according to a specific set of guidelines. The one everyone forgets? The MIND. I’m going to make the seemingly unpopular argument that anyone who is serious about survival, REGARDLESS of the scenario being lived through, knows to adopt the proper mindset. Light discipline, noise discipline, leave no trace and see w/o being seen are all a function of the mind, regardless of the weapon being employed. They should all be utilized, all the time, until such moment that they’re of no further use.

  40. SF Frank

    July 11, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    if you want a rifle that is simple, rugged and will fire in the worst of conditions, get an AK 47.
    My military units had 16s and 47s in the arms room and we trained w/ both.
    In RVN , SF soldiers would get rid of a 16 and pick up an AK in a heartbeat.
    AK comes apart in 3 big pieces, no tiny pieces to get lost in the swamp or sand and it will fire when covered w/ poo. Ammo is cheaper, too.

    • SmokeHillFarm

      July 13, 2014 at 12:30 AM

      Excellent point, and exactly why I keep several old M-1 carbines in my gun cabinets. Very loose action, like the AK, so little chance of jams or other problems associated with tight-tolerance weaponry.

      Personally, though, I primarily rely on bolt-action rifles for SHTF and, of course, revolvers — for much the same reason.

      There won’t be any convenient gunsmiths or spare parts when SHTF, so I want something that will likely shoot forever without needing specialized attention.

      • J.R.

        January 25, 2016 at 3:47 PM

        Love the M-1, only thing is make sure you’ve got plenty of clips ’cause when they go “SPANG” you can’t always find them again! But the revolver/pistol argument is another thing. I like revolvers, had a Colt Python and a Smith 686. But give me my Sig any day. Sure, you don’t need specialized TRAINING to acclimatize yourself to a revolver’s control features; you don’t need to learn about grip safeties, thumb safeties, mag releases or slide releases…anyone can pick one up and pull the trigger, sure. But it’s a MYTH that revolvers don’t need specialized “attention”. Just let your hammer-mounted firing pin break, or your cylinder timing get messed up (it DOES happen), or even a small crack develop in the forcing cone, and you’ll see just how much attention a revolver can need. There are a lot of tiny moving parts inside that revolver frame that people just don’t consider; they think it’s all oh-so-simple. Fact is, many of today’s pistols are just as easy to operate as any revolver, and any quality pistol is going to be just as reliable….It’s just a matter of personal preference, and no one is wrong in that regard.

  41. Gregory Lesniewski

    July 11, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    This is a great article; helped me make some decisions! Both weapons are very good to have, but things seem to lean just a wee bit toward the bow in terms of survival! Thanks for all the data!

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