My Big Five Guns


When Mike Piccione asked me to pick “just five firearms (rifles, shotguns and handguns) I might own for the rest of my life and no others,” I had no idea how difficult it would be to choose “just five.”

But I did boil it down to five, based on practicality – and my own personal experience and familiarization with the choices – and less on what were and are personal family heirlooms.

My choices are (in no particular order) –

1) M4 Carbine with the Beowulf .50 Caliber conversion kit – I chose this system not because I’m a huge fan of the M4 (the carbine version of the M-16 rifle). I’m really NOT a fan of the M4 at all. But I can’t ignore the fact that the M4 (M-16) is a proven battle weapon. I’m personally very familiar with it. I basically lived with the M-16 for four years. I qualified expert with it on the range several times in four years.  And when you are able to convert this little 5.56 mm into a full-blown .50 caliber that can stop a truck and kill anything known to man, it’s just too practical not to list among the big five.

2) Remington Wingmaster 870 12-gauge pump shotgun with 00 buck shot – This is the first weapon (beyond a slingshot, a Boy Scout sheath knife, and a BB gun) I ever owned. I saved my money working in a tire warehouse when I was 16-years-old, and paid $100 cash for my beautiful brand-new Wingmaster in 1975.  I still own it. A few years later, I was pleased that – as a Marine – we carried 870s aboard ship for internal security.

3) Sig Sauer P220 in .45 caliber – as I wrote for Guns & Patriots back in Dec., I once “owned a P-220 – it even had the old West German stamp on the slide – the finest, most-accurate handgun I’ve ever owned. But a divorce many years ago and a subsequent demand for some quick, liquid cash led me to sell my unique West German-made baby. And I’ll always regret that.”

4) Heckler & Koch MP5 submachinegun – Another marvel of German engineering, I qualified and fell in love with the 9mm H&K MP5 (in German, “Maschinenpistole fünf;” In English, "machine pistol five") as a young Marine during a close-quarters combat course conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI at Little Creek, Virginia in the mid-1980s.

5) Remington Model 700 bolt-action in 30-06 caliber – I wish I could have chosen a lever-action rifle too, but Mike said “just five.” So I’m going with what I believe to be one of the most perfect deer rifles I’ve ever hunted with.

And now, Jim Krieger’s big five gun picks:

I am fortunate to live in a state that has mostly reasonable and common-sense gun laws, and a long history of respect for the 2nd Amendment. One of many advantages of this legacy of sensible laws and respect for our Constitutional rights is that lawful trade in guns between private citizens is still the law of the land. Several times each year, local gun shows are held on weekends. Many federally licensed dealers attend, as do many hunters, collectors and shooters who come to buy, sell and swap. The result is that when you want or need to buy a gun, there is a ready local market with a wide variety of choices.

Worldwide, however, respect for this most basic of human rights, individual gun ownership, is absent or on the wane. This brings up a question: What if you lived in a place where guns were less readily available, or punitively taxed, or where there was a government-imposed limit on the number of guns that you could own? If you could own only five guns for your entire lifetime, what would you choose?

Here are my choices, and my reasons:

1) Smith & Wesson model 642 revolver.
The 642 is a concealed-hammer, five shot .38 Special revolver with a 2” barrel. It has an aluminum frame, and a stainless steel cylinder and barrel. My state has “shall-issue” concealed handgun license laws. It has a generally hot climate, where shorts are the comfort preference for at least six months out of the year. I live in a very large urban area with a statistically predictable amount of crime, so a carry gun that is wardrobe-friendly is an important choice. A dependable, lightweight, rust-resistant pocket gun is a good choice for this environment.

2) Remington model 870 12 gauge pump shotgun.
For both hunting and defensive purposes, a 12 ga. shotgun is an effective tool. A pump gun is the best compromise between dependability and ammo capacity, and the 870 is a time-tested design long known for its rugged reliability. In addition, a variety of barrel configurations is available. My barrel choices would be an 18” cylinder-bore barrel for defensive applications, a 26” barrel with a modified choke for upland hunting, and a 30” full-choke barrel for wetland hunting.

3) AR15 semiautomatic rifle.
Again, living in a large urban area requires an awareness of the need to protect home and family. 5.56 ammo is plentiful, and the AR15 design is ubiquitous, meaning that magazines, after market add-ons and spare parts are readily available. It’s a lightweight, fast-handling rifle that’s easy to shoot and has little recoil. These factors, in addition to adjustable pull length stocks make it usable by people of widely different heights and physical capacities. For urban combat as well as small-game hunting it has adequate power and accuracy. To increase its versatility, I’d include a scope and a .22 Long Rifle conversion kit.

4) Ruger Model 77 rifle in .308 Winchester caliber.
This is a proven bolt-action rifle with a fixed box magazine. I like the bolt design because it has a full-length Mauser type extractor for dependable extraction. The .308 Win. round is widely available in both commercial and military surplus loads, and is adequate for almost all North American game. Additionally, sub-caliber saboted bullets are commercially available, which broadens the rifle’s hunting applications. I’d get iron sights, and also mount a variable-magnification scope with quick-detach rings.

5) Thompson Center Encore Rifle.
This is a well established single-shot rifle design for which a wide variety of easily interchangeable barrels is available. Because of that, it can serve a broad spectrum of needs, from training a child in rifle marksmanship, to taking medium game, to handling loads that will drop any animal on the planet. Its sheer diversity of potential applications makes it a best choice for a five-gun collection. Calibers I’d choose? .22 Long Rifle, .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .338 Winchester Magnum and .416 Rigby. As with my other rifle choices, I’d select both iron sights and a scope.

Remember that this list is not a prescription; it’s a personal menu based on a variety of factors. Depending on where you live, your needs and your own preferences, your choices might be very different. Give it some thought, and let us hear from you.

Now Gunners…What Are Your Five and Only Five?
-Mike Piccione, Editor Guns & Patriots