If social collapse occurs it will be up to you to take responsibility for your survival and the safety of your family. You cannot depend on society, the police, the rule of law or the government to help you. You are on your own.
If you have prepared your home and put away food and other supplies there will be desperate people trying to take it all away from you. As the cities empty the number of hungry people increases, you must understand that at some point it will not be just one or two lost souls, but likely dozens or perhaps more that show up to take what is yours and possibly kill you and your loved ones. If you try to defend your home with your deer rifle or your shotgun you will probably fail. Failure means death for yourself and your family. If the attacking hordes do not kill you, starvation or exposure will. Your survival depends largely on the gun(s) you choose for defense.
Trying to defend your home and ensure your survival against an angry mob with your hunting guns will not work. They do not hold enough ammo and are much too slow to reload. You will be overrun as soon as you run out of ammo and pause to reload. The only acceptable civilian owned firearm for this situation is a magazine fed rifle or carbine. The best of the best is the AR-15 platform.
It is the most common design in America so magazines, ammo and parts are easily available. It’s also the fastest to operate. One proof of that is the sport of 3-gun shooting. In this action shooting competition, basically the person who hits all the targets the fastest wins. Three-gun competition emulates battle and embraces every possible scenario from in your face close to long distance targets. One gun dominates this sport; the AR-15. Nothing else comes close. Sure it’s a game, but it’s a game that exposes the strengths and weakness of the firearms we use. That’s one reason that every branch of the armed forces has shooters competing in 3-gun and providing feedback on what works and what doesn’t in terms of firearms.
For example, the AK-47 is a bit too slow to change magazines. That’s because the magazine must be “rocked” into place and it is much more complicated and difficult to perform that task when under extreme stress. With an AR you simply push the magazine release button to dump the empty magazine and then slide the new one into the magazine well and slam it home. It’s simple, fast and almost foolproof. A well trained shooter can reload his AR in about one second, even when experiencing brain freezing stress.
In terms of cartridges, the 5.56 NATO works best here. It’s a NATO cartridge so ammo is probably going to be available. The gun can fire .223 Remington, which is one of the most common cartridges in North America. Civilian style expanding bullets used in .223 Remington ammo can be very deadly. The cartridge is powerful enough to make one shot stops, or at least incapacitate the attacker. Of course bullet placement is important, but in the heat of a survival situation with fast moving and multiple targets, you cannot insure that every bullet hits with pinpoint precision. The hydrostatic shock produced by high velocity expanding bullets can add some insurance against poor shot placement.
The standard AR-15 magazine is 30 rounds and magazines are plentiful and inexpensive. Brownells sells their 30-round magazines for fourteen bucks and occasionally runs sales where you can pick them up for about ten bucks each.
There are a lot of larger capacity magazines on the market now as well. The Nordic Components extenders will add capacity to a Magpul magazine and the Surefire 60 and 100 round magazines are excellent. If you keep them clean and add graphite as the instructions say, they run fine. I have used a 60 round Surefire mag almost exclusively for 3-gun competition for two seasons. That’s about two dozen matches without a single problem.
Increase your odds of survival by making sure you have a lot of extra magazines. You cannot stop in the middle of a firefight to recharge the magazines. Extra ammo does not guarantee you will win, but running out guarantees you will not.
The AR is a battle rifle and is designed for a high, sustained rate of fire. They run hot and will just keep puking out the ammo no matter what. A good one is extremely accurate, while also fast for multiple target close-range engagements.
There are a lot of good AR-15 rifles on the market, but to my thinking none of them are better than the JP Enterprises. They might be a little more expensive than some of the mass produced rifles, but what value do you place on your life?.