Bolt Or Semi-Auto Rifle For Survival Preppers

What are the merits of these two major types of rifle actions?

There are many choices when it comes to selecting a long gun for multiple uses. Many of the questions and inquiries are from preppers, and survivalists that are gun users attempting to buy a firearm(s) that can yield effective results for many applications, including home defense, ranch, farm or homestead protection, as well as hunting for food and predator control. That is a pretty tall order for sure.

After much thought, counseling, and work in the gun related industry these past 40 plus years, the basic conclusion I have come to is that the rifle preference really boils down to personal choice. I mean, in terms of overall quality, reliability, functionality, and accuracy, there is not a significant difference between major makes of long guns now, whether a bolt action or a semi-auto.

While the caliber choice may be the first priority, that is no longer a huge issue either because the most popular choices in the .223/5.56 range (up to, say, the ever popular .308/7.62) are readily available in either platforms with numerous brand and feature choices to select.

It would be easy to recommend if all you could afford was one choice, then for sure, I would say the .308 would get the nod. It is fully capable with available factory ammo choices to perform work in protection and certainly for hunting and dispatching vermin regardless of the foot count.

CZ USA Winchester Bolt Action 308
AR 308 (pewpewtactical)

Though the fight breaks out when you mention the bolt rifle is inherently more accurate than the semi-auto, there are plenty of examples to defy that argument these days. I have been hunting with bolt guns since I was ten years old, but I have also taken big game with semi-auto rifles including an AR in .300 Blackout and a Rock River LAR in .308, both one shot kills.

In my own mind’s eye, owning and using both types of rifles, I do find the simple bolt action rifle easier to use, much more simple to clean and maintain, and easy enough in most cases to mount a scope. I love the quick and easy way to remove the bolt so the barrel can be easily cleaned from the breech end and not the muzzle. Shooting a bolt action is fairly straight forward and easy to train others by controlling the ammo use at the range. Safety mechanisms are usually simple to operate.

Even with bolt guns using detachable magazines, I have had no issues with them loading or unloading or feeding reliably. I use both a Browning A-Bolt and a fine Remington 700-DM without issue. I did buy factory magazines for these to have an extra in the shirt or coat pocket, and they have always worked just fine.

The Learning Curve
Learning to use most semi-auto rifles takes somewhat more training and range initiation. Loading, cycling the action, and engaging the safety can be easy, but it takes some practice to perform. Using magazines takes little effort, but sometimes they can be finicky.

I would be first to admit I am not crazy about taking down an AR-type platform rifle, removing the bolt carrier group from the action in order to clean the barrel. I am not fond of all the nooks and crannies that come with most semi-auto rifles either. I will be honest though that this is most likely for me a function of frequency than it is performance of the tasks.

I can envision the GI soldier taking down, cleaning, and re-assembling an AR-15 in the dark just by feel. It isn’t that it is so difficult, it is just that I don’t like doing it. AmSJ note: Most soldiers are trained this way so they can become highly proficient with the weapon out in any adverse field condition.

Of course some other semi-auto rifles (like the Browning BAR or the Remington 742 series and others) may be more intricate or detailed in terms of disassembly for cleaning and maintenance. For this, just follow the general guidelines in the owner’s manual and don’t take them apart any more than is recommended as necessary for regular maintenance.

Optics and Reliability
In terms of scope mounting, most bolt guns simply need the application of an appropriate one or two-piece mounts to be installed on top of the action. Then separate rings are attached to the mounts. AR types mostly use the Picatinny rail to mount scope rings directly to the rail slots or via a one-piece unit incorporating the mount and rings in one piece a la Nikon, or GG&G.

There are many variations to these themes, but neither is a big issue. Both bolt guns and semi-autos can be easily and securely fitted with an appropriate scope. Some adjustment in ring height might be in order, depending on the size of the scope’s front objective rings to clear the barrel. This is more of an issue for bolt action rifles but can be with some ARs.

It is a toss-up when it comes to rifle reliability. Just by the sheer action type moving in a relatively violent fashion, the semi-autos are sometimes blamed for more breakages than are typical bolt action rifles. Many times stoppages are due to powder and grime fowling in the gas system than a part actually breaking. Semi-auto actions do get pretty dirty pretty fast and therefore often demand more regular cleaning and maintenance.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

Having said that, it would probably surprise most rifle shooters to learn that most guns these days are so well made that breakdowns are far and few between. That is, all else being equal. I mean most of us are not on the battle field firing thousands of rounds in a short time. Don’t be fearful of buying either a modern bolt gun or a semi-auto when it comes to reliability issues.

So, when you are ready to buy a long gun, rifle, then shop around. Seek advice, but be careful of the big box gun counter person that worked in underwear yesterday. Read, study, and compare. Visit a local range and ask questions. Again, it is a personal thing whether you want to cycle a bolt action or pull back a charging handle. Whichever, be sure to practice with it.

Story by Dr. John revised by AmSJ Staff

Tips for Getting a Hunting Handgun

If you’re into hunting smaller things and want to get a handgun for this, here are some things to consider.
Having the right handgun is a plus, don’t get stuck with the wrong one, you’ll just be wasting your time.

So here are some tips that can help you make the right choice.

  • What’s your Game?

    So what are you hunting? If you’re going for bigger animals its going to require bigger bullets, which has power.
    For that bigger game, you shouldn’t be dinking around with anything smaller than a .357 Magnum.
    You obviously, don’t want to be using a .44 Magnum on a smaller animal, because you’re wasting all that meat by damaging it. Start with .22 LR if you’re going for squirrels or rabbits, and adjust accordingly to the game you’re after.
  • Revolver or semi-automatic?

    Here’s a quick pros and con: Revolvers are simple in operation, and semi-automatics allow higher capacity and quicker rapid shots.
    If you’re hunting big game, for the Glock lovers go with something in a G20 10mm or a lower-capacity .500 S&W Magnum revolver. (Revolvers has its play in this)
    Bottom line is that it really comes down to preference.
    You could even look into single-shot, bolt-action and lever-action handguns, but if you’re into this it will take some research. Ultimately, your handgun should fit you and your style of hunting.
  • How much accuracy do you need?

    If you didn’t know having longer barrels means higher velocities and usually equates to better accuracy.
    So the question is how much barrel do you want to carry around with you?
    Most experienced folks carry one with 6-8 inches barrel.
  • Scope or no Scope?

    Not sure if you’re going for the Han Solo blaster look, but pragmatically its not worth it.
    Yes, some handguns have integral scope mounts you can attach a handgun scope to.
    But just remember when you add a scope, you increase bulk and weight.
    When you’re aiming it, your hand will be wobbling all over the place. Don’t care how good of a shot you are, having extra weight on the pistol is different.
    If you really gotta have the scope, then use a cross stick (its a bipod) support for long-range shooting.
  • How much are you willing to Pay?
    Its important to shop around and check those handgun reviews. Talk with seasoned handgun hunters on what they use.
    Gun buying shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
  • What about the Recoil?

    Remember Dirty Harry flashing his famous .44 Magnum?
    Well everyone had to get one.
    Manufacturers loved this as they were making money.
    But the ones that were buying it had a hard time with the kick, this isn’t a little kick, its a huge kick.
    Just stick to something that you can handle, don’t even think of trying a .500 S&W Magnum or a .460 S&W Magnum, these cannons will explode out of your hands.

What other tips can you share with us?

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine 9mm

You have to hand it to Ruger – over the past few years the Newport, New Hampshire headquartered firearms manufacturer has transformed their image from “bolt action and rimfire” to “backpack-ready and NFA” (raise your hand if you predicted that Ruger would be making silencers). Seemingly basic considerations like optics and accessory rails, threaded barrels and polymer furniture options are progressive enough to get a younger generation of shooters interested in buying a Ruger. But manufacturing the new Ruger PC Carbine to accept GLOCK magazines is just part of the reason that Ruger’s latest offering is a homerun.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Reports of the death of the pistol caliber carbine have long been exaggerated – a steady flow of companies have announced models that are either new and unique or are update versions of classic guns. The Ruger PC Carbine is a bit of both, channeling the company’s original PC9 that debuted in 1996 as well as modern takedown features from recent rimfire hits.

In simple terms, the PC Carbine is basically an overgrown 10/22 takedown with magazine interchangeability features. In fact, Ruger’s new rifle allows trigger/fire control group swaps with 10/22 mechanisms.


The Ruger PC Carbine comes nicely packed inside a well organized box with all the required tools and components to shoot, adapt and maintain your new rifle. Although the 9mm carbine comes ready to shoot out of the box with a Ruger American magazine well and magazine, included at no extra charge is a GLOCK magazine well – Ruger could easily have left the GLOCK compatibility feature as an added cost.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Ruger’s new long gun is available in three versions: threaded barrel, bare muzzle and a 10 round magazine options for those states where a handful of extra rounds in a magazine can get you in legal trouble (don’t get me started). For this review, Ruger was nice enough to let me borrow the threaded barrel version due to my need to suppress every firearm that lands in my lap.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Specifications – Ruger 9mm PC Carbine

  • MODEL NUMBER: 19100
  • Stock: Black Synthetic
  • Capacity: 17
  • Barrel Length: 16.12″
  • Overall Length: 34.37″
  • Barrel Feature: Threaded, Fluted
  • Front Sight: Protected Blade
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Ghost Ring
  • Thread Pattern: 1/2″-28
  • Weight: 6.8 lb.
  • Length of Pull: 12.62″ – 14.12″
  • Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Finish: Type III Hardcoat Anodized
  • Twist: 1:10″ RH
  • Grooves: 6
  • Suggested Retail: $649.00
TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

My initial reaction was very positive: The PC Carbine feels like a quality firearm right out of the box, has no visible machining marks and includes a well made polymer stock set.

Safety reminder: Always follow the rules of proper and safe gun handling. If you don’t understand something, stop and ask a professional for help. 


If you are familiar with the classic 10/22 rimfire rifle, you are ready to run the PC Carbine – ergonomics, controls and general operation are basically the same. The only real difference being the magazine well and release button (more on dropping mags in a bit).

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Breaking down the PC Carbine into its two halves is simple and takes less than 30 seconds. Simply unscrew the unlocking ring, push the release lever, then twist the front section counterclockwise and pull.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

The magazine release is reversible; using the included hex key simply loosen the screw and remove it along with the release and the spring. Then install the assembly from the opposite sides and tighten the screw. I’ve included screenshots from the Ruger owner’s manual below (You do read the manual, right?).

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

The charging handle can also be switched for right or left hand side operation.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

The safety is a standard cross bolt design, operated with a push of the index’s finger or thumb. And the bolt hold open mechanism is classic Ruger 10/22 – love it or hate it, at least it is familiar.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Inside the charging handle is a hex nut which can be unscrewed to switch it from the right or left hand side. We will have more time inside the PC Carbine’s instructions to show you the ease of the charging handle swap.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

This pistol caliber carbine ships with two additional stock spacers to adjust length of pull. Truthfully, these little slices of plastic were the biggest disappointment of the entire review. They are shiny plastic rather than rubber or polymer and feel like an afterthought rather than a design feature like the rest of the PC Carbine’s winning personality. It’s a minor issue, just try to ignore the fact that they feel like the fake Legos you used to find at your least favorite cousin’s house as a kid.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

The ghost ring sight set is perfectly suited to the sporter/carbine feel from Ruger. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation with the turn of a screw.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

My only request here would be some side-protecting blades to keep the ghost ring from snagging on gear or clothing.

It takes Glock mags!

Now for one of the PC Carbine’s biggest features: magazine wells that can be changed to allow for the use of GLOCK mags. As of this writing, Ruger’s new Carbine ships with a Ruger magazine and mag well along with a GLOCK well. Time will tell if the company, or even aftermarket manufacturers, will make additional inserts to accept other manufacturer’s magazines.

The PCC’s user manual has an easy to follow set of instructions. Read and follow the steps for a proper installation.

Here’s the box insert with tools and accessories. The empty slot holds the included Ruger magazine.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

There are two captured screws that hold the receiver in place. Loosen them until they pull away from the receiver.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

The form of bare receiver may seem familiar: it’s e beefed-up version of the rimfire classic 10/22 design. In fact, Ruger boasts trigger group interchangeability with 10/22 products, which opens the door to some fantastic aftermarket options.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Looking into the empty stock from the top down shows the magazine insert and a spring loaded tab that is actuated by the magazine release. Simply depress the tab inside the well and lift the insert out of the stock.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Follow the steps in reverse to install a different mag well. In all, the process took about five minutes from start to finish.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

The design simplicity should allow Ruger or other aftermarket manufacturers to make inserts for other popular magazines. Although GLOCK mags fulfill most shooters dreams of carrying their favorite pistol that shares mags with a capable carbine.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine


  • Interchangeable magazine wells for use of common Ruger® and Glock® magazines. Ships with SR-Series Pistol and Security-9® magazine well installed and an additional magazine well accepting Glock® magazines is included*. Ruger American Pistol® magazine well is available at
  • Easy takedown enables quick separation of the barrel/forend assembly from the action for ease of transportation and storage. Takedown is as simple as locking the bolt back and verifying that the rifle is unloaded, pushing a recessed lever, twisting the subassemblies and pulling them apart.
  • Dead blow action features a custom tungsten dead blow weight that shortens bolt travel and reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise. Bolt is machined from heat treated, chrome-moly steel to ensure strength, structural integrity and durability.
  • Reversible magazine release and reversible charging handle to support ambidextrous use or one-handed control manipulation while maintaining a proper firing grip*.
  • Cold hammer-forged, chrome-moly steel barrel with ultra-precise rifling provides exceptional accuracy, longevity and easy cleaning. The heavy contour barrel provides consistent accuracy, while barrel fluting sheds unnecessary weight and allows for quick handling.
    1/2″-28 threaded barrel with included thread protector allows for use of standard muzzle accessories.
  • Accurate sighting system with adjustable ghost ring rear aperture sight and non-glare, protected blade front sight.
  • Soft rubber buttpad with spacers allows the rifle to be properly sized for different shooters or varying levels of outerwear or defensive gear (three, 1/2” spacers included).
  • Durable, glass-filled nylon synthetic stock features sling swivel studs for rapid sling attachment and forward mounted accessory rail to allow for a variety of under-barrel accessories such as lights or lasers. The grip features a proprietary texture for enhanced control.
  • Light, crisp trigger pull with minimal overtravel and positive reset utilizing proven 10/22® trigger components.
  • CNC-milled from an aerospace-grade 7075-T6 aluminum billet, the receiver includes an integrated Picatinny rail and is Type III hard-coat anodized for maximum durability.
    Also includes: one, SR-Series pistol magazine and hex wrenches for rear sight adjustment, buttpad spacer adjustment and charging handle removal.

Charging handle swap:

Magazine release swap:

Silencing the Ruger PC Carbine:

Suppressor owners will want to thread on their favorite 9mm capable can as soon as possible (I did, anyway). Caution here: Ruger has included a rubber o-ring between the barrel and the thread protector that could interfere with proper silencer alignment. I just removed the ring from my test unit and set it aside.

Remove the rubber o-ring prior to installing a suppressor

The PC Carbine really is a nice looking gun.

Factory 33 round Glock mags!

Factory 33 round Glock mags!

The addition of a threaded barrel should be an option on all modern pistol caliber carbines. The exploding suppressor market along with a healthy selection of subsonic ammunition makes long guns like the new Ruger really enjoyable hosts.


Fully configured, the PC Carbine can be outfitted with optics, lights and lasers, suppressors and magazines of varying capacities, making it a solid performer in many categories.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

Mounting my Surefire X300 Ultra was slightly inconvenient; the sling stud was in the way of the light’s rear tail cap.

But unscrewing the stud fixed the issue and it could be that I don’t have the correct attachment plate for the X300. So it really is a minor issue.

For optics I used a Trijicon RMR in a Strike Industries REX Reflex Exoskeleton. The setup is easy to setup and functional, giving an extra layer of protection for your RMR. The REX retails for $44.99

RUGER PC CARBINE: Strike Industries REX Optics Mount.

Compact, lightweight, and rugged, the Reflex Exoskeleton provides extreme protection for a wide variety of reflex optics. The precisely drilled holes in the mount enable users to attach various optics of their choice. Included mounting posts securely hold your optic firmly in place – Strike Industries REX.


In all, I put 300-400 rounds through the Ruger without issue. On my steel targets I used the Federal Syntech Range Ammo which I thought performed very well. Even though Syntech is subsonic in most pistols, the 16” barrel in the Ruger definitely gave it a speed boost. But I used a few 147gr ammo types to achieve very quiet suppression levels.

Although I spent most of my time with the PC Carbine using the GLOCK magazine well adapter, the Ruger well functioned without issue. I used many versions of GLOCK mags, to include an older “ban era” variety, a Gen 3/4 Style that included a G26 and G18 capacities and the new Gen 5 magazines. Reload, round feeding and ejection were all spot on. Empty magazines also drop free without concern.

Accuracy was a generic and unscientific 2-3 MOA from a seated and supported position using a non-magnified re dot from the RMR. Better shooters with magnified optics and the right ammo pairing will undoubtedly drop group sizes to excellent levels. But the PC Carbine at its core is not a bench rest or target shooter. And besides small game and pest control, I see it’s hunting role as limited.

Recoil is easily manageable by anything but the smallest of shooters, especially when running suppressed or using the Syntech ammo. Follow up shots are quick and re-acquiring the sights or red dot after a shot is easy to do.



Overall, the Ruger PC Carbine is a winning package that offers a good host of options and accessories for an accessible retail price. GLOCK magazine capability, a threaded barrel, reversible controls and 10/22 trigger group compatibility alone make this long gun worthy of a ‘buy’.

But the aftermarket possibilities really have me excited: magazine well options will obviously increase, but the idea of a Magpul Backpacker-Style stock and integrally suppressed barrel assembly is awesome. Ruger did a great job with this gun and I’m looking forward to seeing what is coming up next from the classic Granite State firearm manufacturer.

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

TFB REVIEW: Ruger PC Carbine

special thanks: Mac Tactical

Review: Archon Mfg Glock Compensator

Having compensators on pistols is not exactly new. Competitors have been porting pistols for a very long time. Go look at any open division pistol in USPSA or IPSC. However, since the Roland Special came out, we have seen an increasing trend in compensators for Glocks. This has led to companies like Archon Mfg to make compensators. As a fan of compensated pistols, I got the opportunity to check out their Glock compensator.

Compensating For Something

For those who have not had the pleasure of shooting a compensated pistol, You are missing out. With a good comp design, the gasses help mitigate muzzle climb and recoil.

Archon Mfg’s take on their compensator is actually different than their competitors. While many other comps do screw onto a threaded barrel, Archon’s comp does not require thread locker or set screws against the threaded barrel. Instead, they split the female threads and have two screws on either side. So all you need to do is screw the comp onto the barrel, then time it to the right position and tighten the two screws so the comp clamps onto the barrel.

One added benefit to a comp on a Glock is that now your weapon lights don’t get coated in muzzle blast residue. Most of the gasses are going out the sides and top. Very little of it is blowing down to the light.

One minor issue is what threaded barrel you use. I am using a Lone Wolf Gen5 Glock 19 threaded barrel. Some threaded barrels have different lengths.

The gap between the Glock Comp and your slide will vary due to variations in barrel length on aftermarket barrels.

This is as close as I could get the Archon comp onto the G19X with the LW barrel. Notice there is a gap and the rounded corners of the Gen 5 disrupt the look. If I used a Gen4 or lower Gen Glock, the aesthetics where the slide meets the comp would look better.

Archon Comp, It’s Not Just For Glocks

While their compensator was designed for the Glock pistol, it is not limited to just the Glocks. You can mount this compensator onto any pistol with a threaded barrel.

Beretta 92A1 with Archon Mfg Comp

Sig Sauer P938 with Archon Mfg Comp

Does It Actually Do Anything?

Archon Comp redirecting gasses

So I am a bit spoiled as my benchmark for compensated pistols is my STI Steel Master race gun. It is the flattest and softest shooting 9mm handgun I own or have ever shot. So how does the Archon Mfg compensator compare? It is not in the same league. Is the disparity just from the compensator design? I don’t think so. The STI Steel Master is a purpose-built race gun. It was designed to run compensated. Adding a compensator to a pistol does not mean it is a race gun now. Just like adding a spoiler to a car does not make it a race car. So does the Archon comp work? Yes. There is an appreciable difference with the comp than without.

Take a look at the video below. It is a side by side comparison of the Glock 19X with and without the compensator. The left side has the Archon comp and the right side does not. Both shots you can see there is still muzzle climb. However, pay close attention to the position of the 19X after the recoil. The gun is physically higher and I have to bring the gun back down on target. With the compensator, the 19X does not jump as high and is quicker to bring back on target for the next shot.


The difference is very noticeable on smaller guns like my Sig P938. I think it is because the barrel is so much shorter and there are more gasses to make the comp work better. Just like a spoiler, you need more air/gas for them to be effective. In open division pistols, shooters typically load hotter rounds just so there is more gas to act on their compensators.


Is It Perfect?

No, it is not. But it is pretty good. The best part is their split design. It was very easy to swap between guns and since there is no set screw, the threaded barrels are not messed up. The overall length of the Archon compensator is a bit long.

  • Precision machined from 7075 Billet Aluminum
  • Type III Hardcoat AnAnodizedlack
  • Weight: 0.9 oz.
  • Dimensions: W: 1.000″ L: 1.375″ H: .800″

Mounting it onto a Glock 19 gives the overall length similar to a Glock 34. I would have preferred a Glock 17 profile as holsters would be easier to find. Luckily I have my holster for my Glock 35 and this fits perfectly.

One idea I had would be to alter their design so that the compensator does not need a threaded barrel. They could get a batch of long barrels and mill a slot on either side. Similar to the KAC Hush Puppy Beretta barrel. Reposition the set screws to line up with those slots and now you have a compensator/barrel set up for states that ban threaded barrels on handguns.

The Archon Mfg Glock compensator is quite affordable at just $69.99. Check out their website for more info.