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Book Review: Survival Guns – A Beginner’s Guide

If you are a reader of Survival Cache or SHTFBlog then you have probably spent some time thinking about survival guns.  Like you, I have How to buy a survival riflespent more time than I care to admit reading comments and forums with people arguing about the best firearms for survival or the best caliber for a pistol or rifle if the SHTF.   Sometimes the arguments can grow old but I do respect everyone’s opinion and the reality is the best survival gun is the one you have and the one you can afford.  My best advice to people regarding survival guns is that “Perfect is the enemy of good.”  You can literally “what if” your choice of survival gun to death if you really want to, for example “I like the AR-15 but .22LR ammo is cheaper, it is easier to find 9mm ammo but .45 ACP has more knock down power, etc. etc. etc.”  Not only are these arguments happening on the internet but also in your mind and sometimes it is hard to quiet those demons.  I recently read through a book that I found interesting on the topic called Survival Guns: A Beginner’s Guide by Steve Markwith.

By Jimmy C, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

About The Author

Steve Markwith began formal training at age 11 during NRA-sanctioned small-bore target rifle how to buy a survival gunevents, and became an active hunter by the age of 12. He began reloading at age 14, starting with shotgun shells and a handheld Lee-Loader.  Steve joined the U.S. Army, serving two combat tours while acquiring experience on numerous military firearms systems during helicopter and ground-based operations.  Returning to civilian shooting, he gained further experience during NRA Bullseye, combat pistol, and shotgun competitions.  He became an NRA-Certified Pistol, Rifle & Shotgun Instructor, and served as a certifying authority for concealed-carry permit applicants in several states.  He joined the firearms industry, working with a gunsmith who was a disciple of the well-known wildcat cartridge designer, PO Ackley.

Also Read: Survival Shotgun Part 1

Eventually, Steve assumed control of all firearms operations for a major state agency, which included training, range operations, and equipment procurement.  His credentials include federal, state, and manufacturer’s certifications related to various firearm systems and intermediate force technologies.  He has 25-plus years of full-time firearms training experience and enjoys direct contact with many industry sources.

Survival Guns: A Beginner’s Guide is the first firearms guide in Prepper Press’s PrepSmart book series, which provides information on personal preparedness.  Survival Guns focuses on “building a basic firearm battery,” from selecting firearms appropriate for the readers’ skill level, needs, and budget.  While the guide focuses on starting with a “clean slate,” it’s also highly recommended for readers already familiar to the topics, not just because there’s useful information essential to all audiences, but gun owners might have a “less than ideal” battery for “planned and practical protection” that serves an array of needs.  The guide also contains detailed information that goes beyond the firearm itself, such as an ammunition tutorial, examples of accessories and modifications, and developing the “Coyote Mindset” ideal for aspiring home protectors.


Each topic is organized in a Chapter, listed in the Table of Contents.  Lists provide most of the structure for this guide and break down the topics quite easily, which makes it user-friendly.  One example is the section titled “VIGILANCE,” in which Markwith skips the “do’s” and straight to the “don’t(s)” of gun cleaning.  Other lists are replicated in this book for reference, such as the NRA’s gun safety rules and general range safety rules.  Concepts enthusiasts need to find and ammo types are listed and described.  The lists provide a sense of simplicity, a theme that Markwith heavily promotes throughout the guide.  He emphasizes that even your battery can be simple, as “simple is good.”

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The author also incorporates his personal experiences as an expert in both civilian and combat shooting, which is useful for all skill levels, as sharing personal experiences and even mistakes with weapons reminds us the basics, what to and not to do.  However, he keeps the language and tone of the prose authoritative yet succinct, further establishing our attention and interest and going back to the theme of simplicity.


The images are in black-and-white, some more high-res than others, but you still get a general idea of the details of each firearm, ammunition, safes, and many other demonstrations.  Some advanced and intermediate enthusiasts might feel disappointed regarding the lack of specifics for each aspect of a battery, such as details regarding rifles.

Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good

Overall, Survival Guns is directed to a wide audience of both survivalists and enthusiasts, regardless of whether the reader is new to either movement.  It’s useful for those totally unfamiliar to the territory, since the guide is a simple starting point.  Survival Guns also makes a good addition to collectors of firearm guides and other interesting literature.  It has also helped me quiet the demons in my head that say that I need the perfect firearm for every situation.  It is never going to happen, keep it simple.

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