Thursday, June 12, 2014

Comparing Apples and Oranges

File:Apple and Orange - they do not compare.jpg
(Source)

Although I have my opinions of certain teachings, tactics, and rules-of-thumb found among the various survival and prepping blogs and websites, I generally try to avoid criticizing other preppers and survivalists. My article on the 5 top firearm myths for survivalists is the most I've ever done to criticize the ideas of others, and that is because I'd become fed up with what I thought was bad advice that seemed to be widely dispensed or spread through the prepping community.

That said, there is the occasional article or post that you have to wonder what they were thinking. Survival Life recently published an article comparing the AK47 with the Ruger 10/22 as to which is the better survival rifle. There are some technical errors in the article which are discussed in the comments to the article. What surprised me is that someone would even compare the two weapons, since they are intended for such different uses.

The article begins as a nice positive review of the Ruger 10/22, giving the impression, notwithstanding the title, that it was simply reviewing the two rifles. But then the author adds this final paragraph:
The Ruger has a ten round magazine, although sometimes people do not have the money to buy a larger one, it is a good idea. Without one it could leave them in a bad situation when faced with many attackers. Having an extra magazine on hand is a good idea because having to reload after firing ten shots with oncoming enemies could be a fatal mistake.
The author then reviews the AK-47/AKM--not the semi-auto AK clones and rebuilds, but the select fire version. He writes:
The operating cycle is pretty straightforward. Since the gun has a thirty round magazine, it makes it a good weapon to use against a small number of intruders. First, you must pull back the charging handle after inserting the magazine and pull the trigger to fire. Semi-automatic is a good setting if you are facing one attacker where you must let the trigger be released and pulled again for the next shot. When faced with multiple attackers, full automatic is preferred. The trigger can be held to fire until the magazine is dry or the gunman releases the trigger.
Then, to make sure that you understand that the article was comparing the two as to their merits as combat or defensive weapons he writes:
No matter what we have to say about these survival rifles, you have to think about yourself and your family, and if they are willing to shoot it if the need arises. You have to think about costs and ammunition, magazine capacities, and other elements of a rifle to make it substantial to your needs. But out of all the numerous choices, we suggest one of the above two for your budget and survival necessities.
Without getting into why its ineffective to use an assault rifle as a bullet hose, or the cost and bureaucratic hassle of obtaining a select fire weapon, the very idea of comparing the two rifles for purposes of combat is ridiculous.

A .22 LR may be acceptable for self-defense compared to other handgun rounds because, overall, handgun rounds are generally underpowered. The increased accuracy and speed to return to target from a larger .22 pistol (e.g., a Ruger Mark III or Browning Buckmark) may compensate for the lack of power and penetration compared to a 9mm or .45ACP, for instance. But for a defensive rifle, the differences are too extreme.

A .22 LR rifle is intended for target practice and hunting small game. In a pinch it can be used for larger game, but it will not reliably kill larger game animals. (Yes, I know you can put down a cow with a .22, but most game animals won't calmly let you walk up and put a gun barrel to their forehead). But it is not a combat round. It lacks the penetration and power to reliably get through even flimsy barriers at moderate ranges, and, absent a killing shot, lacks the power to disable an attacker.

Look at it this way. Given the relative cost and weight between .22 LR and military rifle rounds, if .22 LR was in any conceivable way an effective combat round, every military in the world would be using it. However, even the most cost conscious governments don't.

The 7.62x39, on the other hand, is acceptable for taking medium sized game, and proven itself in combat. Poachers use it to kill elephants and rhinos, so apparently, in large enough doses, it can even be used to kill the largest animals. But even if you could hit a rabbit or possum using an AK, it won't leave much usable meat behind. It is not a small game hunting round.

And that is the difference between the rifles. One is suitable for small game; one is suitable for self-defense and medium game. They are complimentary, but one is not a replacement for the other.

That said, this is not the only instance I've seen people recommend a .22 rifle for self-defense. Recently, for instance, I saw a survival magazine at the local grocery store featuring Ruger's take-down 10/22 rifle on the cover, and proclaiming it as the best survival and defensive rifle ever. I have no problem with someone proclaiming a particular .22 rifle as a good (or best) survival rifle because "survival" means different things to different people--some people think lost in the wilderness, some think following an earthquake or flood to fend off feral dogs, and some think Mad Max. But combat or self-defense is more specific, and it is a disservice to suggest that the .22 LR is an effective combat rifle round.

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