Port Arms – Advice for those lefties that are (just now) getting on board with being armed.

This will just be a quick discussion about starting out in the gun world. I hope you find this useful. Feel free to provide feedback on what information is needed. I’m basically just hoping to answer questions since this is so new to a lot of comrades out there.

I’m going to assume at this point that you’ve got good reasons for wanting to get into this stuff. Maybe it’s due to the rise of fascism, it’s just a part of preparedness plans, maybe you just think it’s cool, whatever. I’m also going to assume that you’ve had the conversations with yourself that I’d recommend you do. You understand the dangers involved, both physical and legal? Do any moral questions about this come up? What are you going to do if the time comes you have to defend yourself or your comrades? Do you have children in your home? How can you keep them from accessing your weapons?

These topics are beyond the scope of this. If you want to have those conversations, email us. We’ll be glad to talk to you about the ins and outs of this stuff. What I’d like to do for now, is get into a little bit about what equipment you need, and why. These questions are very common. And, just as everyone has different reasons for wanting to get into this stuff, everyone has differing opinions on what gear to acquire. I’m going to talk about my own personal approach to these questions. My opinion doesn’t represent PDL-SL as a whole but it doesn’t differ too wildly amongst our membership. I should tell you that I am a combat veteran, as are other members of this organization, but that does not automatically make us experts on anything. So while I hope you find this to be good advice, please remember that nothing can substitute getting out there and getting experience for yourself. In gun circles there’s a term for this: DOPE. Look that up. Anything anyone tells you about all things gun-related will often just be anecdotal. Only you can decide what’s right for you. That said, here’s my take on some of these things! 

Ok, so for starters, what type of weapon should you get? That depends on a lot of different things but I would encourage you to consider a rifle (or more specifically, a carbine) as your primary choice for defending yourself and your community. (The difference between rifle and carbine can be ignored for our purposes in this discussion. Just think of a carbine as a smaller rifle, but not a pistol. Confused yet? Just wait….)

Rifles are primarily used for military applications, hunting, and “home defense”, etc. The reasons for this are they are portable, have manageable recoil (For the most part. Recoil is what some people call “kick.”), and are relatively easy to learn to use accurately. Handguns can be concealed easily but are honestly harder to learn to shoot well for most people. Shotguns have limited range and quite frankly, make more of a mess than is often necessary. I’ll elaborate more on that in future writings. But for now, let’s talk about rifles. 

So get a rifle if you’re going to do this kind of work. To be even more specific, I’d recommend a magazine fed, center-fire, semi-automatic rifle chambered in an intermediate or full-power caliber. That seems like a lot of words. Let’s break it down.

Magazine fed means that the rifle has a detachable little plastic or metal box that houses the ammunition. This little box is then inserted into the rifle and as the rifle fires it will use the ammunition you give it until empty. You can then detach it and place another magazine full of ammo into the weapon and continue shooting. Pretty simple. (Note, you should get standard capacity magazines which will hold around 30 rounds each. You should probably have at least six of them but preferably way more. We’ll talk about loadouts in another entry.)

Center-fire means there’s a component in the rifle that strikes the center of the back of a cartridge of ammunition, and that’s what starts the process to propel the projectile (bullet) down the barrel and towards the target. The cartridge will have something called a primer in the center of it. That’s what gets struck to fire the round. The primer ignites the gun powder, which then hurls the bullet down the barrel.

This is in contrast to rim-fire, which is where the firing pin (or hammer or whatever) strikes the outer edge of the back of the cartridge. These are fun to shoot but usually way too low powered to be of any real substance for defense purposes.

Semi-automatic means that when you press the trigger, one round is fired. When you do it again, another round is fired. One press of the trigger gives you one round fired. That’s it. Nothing more to it. Don’t get too wrapped up in it.

Intermediate cartridges are simply in between less powerful ones and full power ones. Battle rifles will typically be chambered in full power cartridges and carbines might be chambered in intermediate cartridges. The choice here depends a lot of environment. Full power cartridges will send the projectiles a longer distance, which could be good. They’re also heavier. A lot of them will penetrate something further than smaller calibers. You may or may not want that depending on application.

There are a lot of reasons for the following recommendation. Not all of them will be listed.

The weapon I always recommend to everyone who asks me this question is the AR-15. Ah yes, the infamous black rifle that liberals (and now conservatives) love to hate! This evil, evil little bastard is one of the most popular weapons of choice in the so-called united states. Why? Because they’re reasonably accurate, fairly cheap to build or acquire, can be altered to suit personal preferences, and shoot an INTERMEDIATE powered cartridge. That’s right…the AR-15 is NOT a high powered weapon. Not even close. But the ammo it uses (typically 5.56 though some will be chambered in .223 Remington) is available everywhere and isn’t terribly expensive compared to say .308 or something along those lines. You can do anything you need to do with this rifle, including defending yourself inside your home, believe it or not. 

Other choices are of course the AK-47 and all of its variations. These are popular for their lore. Long considered “the people’s rifle,” they offer a sturdy and reliable platform, fire an intermediate cartridge (7.62×39), and are readily available still. Though that is changing. Weird import laws have made them more scarce and thus more expensive in recent years. It used to be common to see these for sale for $300 or so. Now a decent one will set you back at least $800, probably more. And that’s bare bones without any recommended modifications. Compare that with the modern bare bones ARs available on the market, which can be acquired for $400 or less. Even when you put the recommended accessories on your AR, you’re likely going to spend less than what you’d pay for an AK. And it’ll be fighting-ready instead of “stock.”

You could also look at the AK-74 (similar to the -47, but with a smaller bore), Mini-14, or SKS. You could even go the battle rifle route and get a full powered rifle. Usually you’ll pay out the ass for the rifle AND the ammo. Get an FAL or an M1A if you want to, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Whatever you do end up with, make sure you learn how to properly maintain it. (Cleaning and lubrication.) Make sure you learn how to SAFELY operate it. It’s imperative to get out there and learn the fundamentals. Learn how to make that rifle do what you want it to do. 

So now you’ve got your rifle and you can safely operate and store it. What accessories do you need? You need a sling. I’ll say that again. You need a sling. A sling for your rifle is like what a holster is for a pistol. A sling is basically just a strap that you attach to your rifle and then put around your neck or over your shoulder to help you carry the damn thing. Trust me, walking around for 12 hours for any reason gets really old. And carrying things while walking around for 12 hours, even though they may only weigh 8 pounds, starts to suck. A sling will make it much, much easier to carry your rifle around. And it has the added benefit of being able to be used to shoot more accurately too. Use of the sling as a shooting platform isn’t as common anymore but it’s still not a bad skill to have. I’d personally recommend a two-point sling. There are one-points and three-point slings out there as well but I don’t like anything other than a two-point. The reasons for this are things like if you have to climb a ladder or lift some heavy object, you can keep your rifle on you while doing whatever task but it won’t hit you or be overly uncomfortable. You could even put it behind your shoulder or across your back if needed. One-points have a tendency to not be so fun when carrying a big box or something. If you have the same anatomy as me, the rifle always finds a way to smack you in a certain body part that isn’t the most pleasurable. There are other limitations too but just trust me and check out two-point slings and see what you think.

Many rifles will come with iron sights installed on them. In the case of ARs, at least the front sight will be permanently mounted a lot of times. If not, purchase a set of back up sights. This is more vital than a sling if you don’t plan to run an optic of any kind on your rifle. You need a way to aim the damn thing. Remember your safety rules? You can get a set of back up sights off ebay or amazon easily. Magpul is fine. Daniel Defense makes really nice ones if you’re feeling bougie. 

Notice that I referred to the sights in the above paragraph as back up sights. You can (and should) learn to shoot your rifle with just iron sights. There’s absolutely nothing wrong if that’s how you want to leave it. But I’d recommend you mount an optic on your rifle and use those back up sights as…..well, back up sights. 

There are scopes, red dot sights, prism sights, and a few other types. I like to use red dots on my ARs. You look through it and there is literally just a red (or now green is popular too) dot (like a laser that doesn’t actually extend downrange) that appears over whatever you’re aiming at. It’s really easy to just put a dot where you want the bullet to strike and fire the weapon. For this to be accurate, you’ll need to adjust your sighting system, be it a scope or irons or red dot, to make sure where you point the rifle is where the bullet impacts. This process is called zeroing, or making sure your rifle is “zeroed.” A discussion on that will get a tiny bit more technical than the scope of this article but since it’s pretty damn important to know how to do that I’m going to write something up about that in the near future. Learning how to properly shoot (breathing, sight alignment/picture, trigger control, etc.) so that you can shoot tight groups is your first goal. Then learn how to zero your rifle. Then learn what are called holdovers, or simply: holds. These are fundamental skills that will get you to about 90% of where you want to be with what we in PDL call ODA, or on-demand accuracy. (Words like “marksmanship” and “rifleman” need good substitutes.) Once you’ve got the fundamentals down and can make accurate hits in a couple of different shooting positions, you can move on to more dynamic things, like “runnin’ and gunnin’” and all that.

Last, you should mount a light towards the muzzle end of your rifle. There are all kinds of ways to do this. There are all kinds of styles and brands. Being able to see (and fight) in dark areas is all we’re trying to accomplish so the simpler the better really. This stuff does get pricey, and sometimes the quality gear is the expensive gear. But we all have to start somewhere. 

Along with that, something I’ll put in here really quick since it’s not entirely unrelated: Don’t focus on having 37 guns. You don’t need 37 guns. Just focus on having a rifle that you can shoot and move with. Spend your time and money on training, ammunition, and spare parts for that rifle. Spare bolts, gas tubes, and lower parts kits (if you have an AR) are examples of what I’m talking about. Body armor, a chest rig, battle belt, etc are all important too. But one thing at time.

We’ve touched on a lot of things but didn’t get too in depth. The big takeaways are get a rifle that is capable of doing what you need it to do. Learn how to maintain it so that it will do what you need it to do when it’s time to do it. And do your part in learning how to make it do what you want it to do. That’s all I have for now. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch.

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