With the state of the country as it is, I recently had a couple of friends approach me for my take on where to start in the world of firearms. As they put it, they didn’t want to be stocking years of canned good and toilet paper, but they do want to be ready for the far more day-to-day situations they might find themselves in.

They were putting aside some food and water for disasters and whatnot, but they were lost when it came to guns. They found websites that were supposed to help, but they trusted me for some silly reason.

As I wanted to be a good friend, I told them sure, I’d help, but then I stopped short.

I remembered when someone told me where to start, what type of gun I should first pick up, and I began wondering if that was really the right advice.

“Get a 12-guage,” I was told. “You can use it for hunting and self-defense. It’s the perfect gun.”

Of course, I didn’t do that, but I considered it sound advice.

But I don’t anymore. Not for most people, anyway. Instead, I stay get a handgun in a caliber such as 9mm, .40, or .45 ACP for semi-autos or .38 or bigger for revolvers.

Yes, everything above said about the 12-guage shotgun is true. You can swap out barrels on most and use it to hunt pretty much everything, especially in my neck of the Southwest Georgia woods. In fact, there are some things that can only really be hunted well with a shotgun.

The thing is, what if you don’t give a darn about hunting?

For many people who can be termed “preppers”—those who are preparing for disaster—hunting is a key part of any long-term strategy. The thing is, let’s be realistic. The odds are good that no prepper alive today will ever need their long-term strategy.

Instead, we’ll deal with things like someone trying to hurt us in a parking lot, or some punk deciding he needs our television more than we do.

While a shotgun might work well to protect your home, it’s really difficult to conceal them. After all, you can’t take the barrel too short, or it’s an NFA item and all that.

Yet a pistol is a different matter. It may not be a spectacular choice when something goes bump inside the house in the middle of the night, it’s not a bad choice either. Further, it’s far more likely to be there when you find yourself on a dark, deserted street corner with someone who believes you should fork over your wallet to the charity of his choice…probably some hooker named Charity.

Small and concealable, they’re what I told my friends to pick up simply because they could have it on them when they needed it. Further, ammo tends to be less expensive and that means they can train on it far more often (something else I recommended they do. A lot).

We also discussed how to pick which firearms to buy, but that’s a whole other ball of wax.

I suspect they’ll eventually have all the standard weapons like shotguns, AR pattern rifles, precision rifles, milsurps, and enough handguns to make Shannon Watts have an aneurysm, but that’s not for today.

Today, they just needed to know where to get started and I wanted to explain why I said what I did.

What about you all? What do you tell people who ask you where to start?