What you choose to fill your arsenal is largely dependent on your whole philosophy of what you are preparing for. Here are some possible scenarios:

1) Pandemic
2) Natural Disasters
3) Economic Instability/Social Breakdown
4) Martial Law/Civilian Disarmament
5) Civil War
6) UN/NWO Takeover
7) World War (Nuclear or Biological)

Other factors that could influence your choices are as follows:
1. What can you afford?
2. Where do you live? Are you planning on bugging out or hunkering down?
3. How old are your children? Can they competently shoot a .22lr? How about a larger caliber?
4. Do you plan on hunting for sustenance?
5. How does your family perceive your preparations? Are they behind you 100% or consider you eccentric? This will affect how well they will train/prepare for TSHTF.


Rifles:

The 1 Gun Scenario:
If you can only afford one gun, make it a single shot, over/under style. Try to get .22 LR over 12 GA. Other gauges (20, .410) are acceptable as long as you can stock enough ammo for it to last the life of the gun. The ammo is common enough for both as to probably be available in almost anyplace you might be.
Role:
Primary - Hunting small/large game animals
Secondary - Home Defense against Intruders

Your geographic location will have an effect on what make the best arsenal, so I will break this down into Rural and Urban choices.

RURAL
Letís examine what I consider to be the basic survival arsenal for a rural area:

Basic (Budget)
1) Shotgun, 12 Gauge
Role:
Primary - Hunting small/large game animals
Secondary - Home Defense against Intruders

2) Large Bore (Bolt/Lever Action) Rifle, Legal Hunting Caliber
Role:
Primary - Hunting large game animals
Secondary - Sniping/Home defense

3) Rifle, .22 LR caliber, Bolt Action
Role:
Primary - Hunting small game animals
Secondary - Home defense

This selection provides a diversity of calibers that each compliment the other.

The shotgun is capable of taking deer and bear, as well as vehicles when using slugs. With #6 shot, it will be adequate at close range for home defense without too much risk of over penetration. A pump shotgun is 1st choice, followed by the double barrel and then the single shot.

My recommendations are Mossberg pump (500/590/etc...) and the Remington 870. There are lots of choices for accessories for these guns.
The large bore rifle should be a common, preferably military cartridge. The Mosin-Nagant 91/30 is a great value for the cost and is a good long distance and hunting round. They cost around $90 at chain sporting good stores (Big 5 in my area) and 440 rds. of 7.62x54R 147-grain FMJ Ammo is $49.97 from the Sportsmanís Guide http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=260528 Stay away from the 200 grain surplus ammo that is available as it may be designed for machineguns and therefore have too high of pressure for your rifle!
The M38 is a good choice also but has a pretty good muzzle blast. The same holds true with the M44. The M44 was designed to be fired with the bayonet extended so that is something to keep in mind if you are considering this rifle. Accuracy will suffer if it is shot with it folded. These rifles have been arsenal reconditioned and are in pretty fair shape. The Finnish m/39 Mosin-Nagant is reputed to be a better quality rifle, but as such it is harder to get and more expensive.

The 8mm Mauser would be my 2nd choice for around $120; 380 rds. of 8 mm 154-grain FMJ is $32.97 http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=217693 The condition of these is not as good as the Mosin-Nagant, but is acceptable for the price.

The Mauser can be re-barreled to .308/7.62x51and makes a nice rifle as such. Re-barreling though may be beyond the reach of some, lacking skill to do it themselves or income to pay to have this work done. If that is the case, they are better off to invest in Mil-surp ammo than spend the extra dough re-barreling. There are other bolt actions rifles available, but probably pricier than the Yugo m24/47 Mausers hitting the Surplus market currently. Surplus .308 is also more expensive than the other calibers mentioned above. Some of the Indian surplus ammo also has problems so avoid it if you go this route.

Since the ammo is fairly inexpensive for these you should be able to stockpile plenty and still afford to practice with your rifle. It must be noted that the ammo I have mentioned above is for the most part Corrosive Primed and your weapons should be cleaned soon after firing it. The primer in this ammo leaves salts in the barrel when fired and these draw moisture from the air forming rust. Hence the need to clean soon after firing.
Visit Surplusrifle.com and read up on the available Mil-Surp rifles and their ammo.
http://www.surplusrifle.com/index.asp

Other non-military rifles in common calibers are available, but will cost more to purchase and buy spare parts for. Unless you are flush with cash, stay away from exotic calibers as ammo for these will become hard to find. The .243, .270 and 7mm are popular hunting cartridges, but unless you are into reloading, and have lots of supplies, the ammo cost to support these rifles long term is prohibitive. They may however have a place in a limited Sniping role.

Another choice is a lever action Marlin 336 or Winchester mdl 94 in .30-30. It is a common enough caliber and it is more than adequate for harvesting deer. Lever actions are available in other calibers but I wouldn't recommend them as a primary weapon for survival.

The .22 LR is available in so many different models and brands that it could fill a whole book. I will only mention those here that I believe meet the requirements. The cheapest model worth purchasing would be a magazine fed bolt action. No Single Shots.

So why not an assault rifle?
Because the Assault rifle is too costly for the basic budget.
Most assault rifles come in .223 caliber.
The .223 is not legal to hunt with in most states.
The effective range is less than a battle rifle
The cost is generally more than a Mil-surp battle rifle.
The penetration of the .223 is less than a battle rifle.
Even the 7.62x39 is not as effective as the major military calibers for battle rifles
Hunting with an Evil Black Rifle will draw possible un-wanted attention to you and your family.

The assault rifle has its place, just not in the basic arsenal. Read further on to find where AR's fit in.

A basic budget Arsenal would be the 22 LR, Mossberg 590 and the Mosin-Nagant bolt action. This arsenal can be assembled with some ammo for under $1000 dollars. It is also capable of filling all hunting roles from squirrels to Elk. Also, it is adequate for home defense, up to a point.

Once you have established the basic arsenal, you might wish to expand it as your finances allow. Don't over buy if you can't afford to stock the ammo for it. Your money would be better spent on food, spare parts and other gear. Few things are more useless than a gun without ammo. It just becomes an awkward club. Spare parts are a must! Learn how to install them.

In addition to the above choices:
Advanced (Budget)

1) Military Surplus Semi-Auto Battle Rifle
Role:
Primary - Home defense
Secondary - Hunting game animals

2) Semi-Auto Assault Rifle
Role:
Primary - Home defense

3) Rifle, .22 LR caliber, Semi-Auto
Role:
Primary - Hunting small game animals
Secondary - Home defense

There are many choices here but only 2 are actual Mil-Surp. The rest are re-assembled parts from de-milled selective fire military rifles with new Semi-Auto recievers. And since we are talking low budget, these 2 fit the bill. They are the M1 Garand and the SKS.
Now the question. Why the SKS?
1. Low recoil.
2. Ballistics are comparable to the .30-30.
3. Low cost - about $200.00, less on sale or possibly at gun shows.
4. They are designed for people of smaller stature. (wife, children)
5. They are very reliable with a simple design to maintain.
6. There are lots of accessories for them.
7. Adequate firepower. Better penetration than smaller calibers.
8. Ammo is fairly cheap and is readily available. (for now)
9. It can also somewhat fill the role of the assault rifle due to its magazine size and caliber.
10. It is legal to hunt with using a 5 rnd mag.
11. It is capable of taking deer sized game.

I would suggest for adults 1 ea. SKS's with the standard 10 rnd magazines and a minimum of 1000 rnds stored. Average combat load for the SKS is 180 to 240 rnds with other gear. Why the 10 rnd magazine? Less chance of malfunction than with the larger capacity magazines. I feel that the ones that I have owned were of questionable quality and I would not risk my life with them. If you have children they can be outfitted with an SKS or .22 LR., depending on their stature and age. Say from 6 to 12 years a .22 LR. From 13 up, arm them with an SKS. Give them what they are comfortable with shooting. An alternative to the SKS or .22 LR for kids would be a carbine in 9mm, .45 ACP or .30 carbine. Another possibility would be lever action carbines in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum. I believe that you can shoot .38 Special in one .44 Special in the other. These cartridges should be manageable by some children.

Next I would look at the M1 Garand from the CMP. (Civilian Marksmanship Program) http://www.civilianmarksmanshipprogram.com/Services/ Their prices are getting higher all the time and are reaching the point where you are almost better purchasing a new one from either Fulton or Springfield Armoryís.
Surplus ammo is still fairly low priced and can be found in the 8 rnd en-bloc clips. 280 rds of .30-06 150-gr. FMJ with ammo can for $49.97. Includes 8 rnd en-bloc clips. http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=259531

The Garand is much heavier than the SKS as is the case with its ammo, so it is primarily a weapon for adults. It also has better penetrating power and will allow you to shoot thru some types of cover. It has a longer range than the SKS also. It is also a better made, if not a little more complex weapon.

The assault rifle is a much debated weapon with many saying it is not necessary and others that it is. If you can afford one and the ammo/magazines/spare parts for it, get one. They are hard to beat for perimeter defense against multiple targets at shorter ranges, up to 100 yards. If you are rushed by 20 hungry sheeple intent on looting your home, the Garand and SKS might not be enough firepower.

The AK-47 is a better penetrator than the .223 and shares the same ammo as the SKS. The Mini-14 comes in 2 Military calibers: the .223 and 7.62x39. There is some debate as to whether it will hold up under combat situations but since you are using it for defensive purposes this shouldn't be an issue. I hope. The AK-47 is the least expensive of the two rifles.
Some of the common assault rifles are the AR-15 family and other more costly guns such as the Galil, Valmet, Steyr AUG, AR-180 and HK-93. I may have missed some but it doesn't really matter since they are beyond the cost limitations of a basic budget.

Everyone should be taught basic gun handling and marksmanship with the .22 LR to become proficient with a rifle.
.22 LR = no flinching from recoil/muzzle blast as well as low cost practice.
Then move up in caliber to your main rifle.

For the .22 LR, next up would be the tubular magazine feed. The Marlin Glennfield model 60 is one such gun that comes to mind since I am familiar with it (my 1st Gun). I have never had any experience with the Remington Nylon 66/77 but have heard good things of them.

Last would be the best of the .22 LR's, the Ruger 10/22. Make yourself afford it.

URBAN
The roles of weapons are basically reversed in an urban environment from hunting to home defense.
Letís examine what I consider to be the basic survival arsenal for an urban area. The choices of weapons are quite broad:

Basic (Budget)
1) Shotgun, 12 Gauge
Role:
Primary - Home Defense against Intruders
Secondary - Hunting small/large game animals

2) Large Bore Rifle, Legal Hunting Caliber, Semi-Auto
Role:
Primary - Sniping/Home defense
Secondary - Hunting large game animals

3) Rifle, .22 LR caliber
Role:
Primary - Home defense/Feral Dogs
Secondary - Hunting small game animals

With the exception of the large bore Semi-Auto, the choices for shotgun and .22 LR in the Basic category remain the same as in a rural environment.

Letís look at suitable large bores. First, what do I consider a large bore? Anything .30 caliber or larger in a Rifle cartridge. If you live in an area that is largely urban or suburban and plan on staying there, I would suggest a Semi-Automatic with a magazine of at least 10 rounds. This would be good for self defense during a riot or other civil disorder/natural disaster.

I recommend the SKS once again. It is hard to beat this inexpensive semi-auto without spending lots more money.

Most of the HK's on the market now are actually rebuilt G3's using newly stamped sheet metal receivers. These can be had for a reasonable price. An original HK-91 will set you back a tidy sum though. 20 rnd magazines can be had for as little as $2.00 each in good condition. Stock up.

The Cetme's are also a fair value, but there have been some quality issues with the various receivers available.
They will for the most part accept the HK-91/G3's magazines, having the same heritage.

The Chinese made M1A (Polytech) has one of the best receivers ever made, however the rest of the parts are questionable. Fulton Armory will rebuild these with Original GI parts to a better than new condition.

When I first got into survival the cadillac of all firearms (at the time) was the FN-FAL. If I remember correctly, they were going for about $1200 new then (early 80's). New and rebuilt ones are available but are still expensive. DSA make some nice ones. I wouldn't call these ďbudgetĒ though.

Any of these are suitable for your large bore choice as long as they are dependable.
So why not a Bolt action for urban areas? You may need to use your Large bore for defense against crowds of looters or gangs intent on doing you harm and the greater firepower of a semi-auto with detachable magazines may be needed.

If you are still in the urban environment WTSHTF, you will probably need the firearms in the advanced section just to get out.

Advanced (still Budget)
1) Assault Rifle
Role:
Primary - Defense
Secondary - Hunting small/large game animals

2) Carbine
Role:
Primary - Defense

3) Combat Shotgun
Role:
Primary - Defense

Note: Avoid firefights at all costs. The odds are you or some of your family will die as they are not trained for Urban combat.

The Mini-14 and AK-47 rifles in caliber 7.62x39mm are adequate for both defense and hunting (with the addition of quality optics).

For strictly firepower, the AK-47 can't be beat, followed by the AR-15 family. Dollar wise, you will get more bang for your buck with the AK since it is priced well below the AR-15 family of weapons. You can get ammo, magazines, gear and gun for the price of 1 AR-15. The AR-15 has the edge over the AK in weight and accuracy, as you can carry considerably more .223 than 7.62x39. The quality of manufacture is better also.

In considering carbines, their use is best left to those who are unable to carry heavier weapons and ammo and are not accurate enough with handguns. Some carbines to consider are the Keltec SUB-2000 in 9mm & 40 S&W, Hi-Point Firearms carbines in 9mm & 40 S&W, The Marlin Camp Carbines Models 9 (9mm) and 45 (.45 ACP), the Ruger Police Carbine in 9 mm Luger or .40 S&W and the Beretta Cx4/Px4 Storm in 9mmx 19 and 9mmx21 IMI, 40 S&W and 45 ACP. These range in prices from affordable to expensive and you will get what you pay for in these. There are others out there. If a carbine suits you, look around you'll find what is best for you.

Another choice is the .30 Cal M1 Carbine. Ammo for this rifle is no longer cheap and it is basically a pistol caliber in performance. Many people love it and you may still find it around for a reasonable price. Lots of different capacity magazines are available for it too.

Many other guns are acceptable, as long as you can stock the ammo and spare parts for them. If you are part of Preparedness Group or a Para-Military organization you will want to standardize your choices to maintain compatibility within your group.

So what is a Combat shotgun?
It can be either a Mossberg 500/590 or an Remington 870 with an 18Ē to 20Ē barrel and a 7 or 8 shot magazine. It can have a folding stock as well as a pistol grip front and rear. Most come with a heat shield on the barrel that has Ghost Ring sights. You can deck them out with Sidesaddle ammo holders and under barrel flashlights/laser sights. There is even now a 10 shot drum magazine and 6 shot box magazine available from Knoxx Industries. These are only for the Mossberg line currently.

Another is the Saiga-12 self-loading smooth bore shotgun manufactured by IZHMASH of Russia. It is built on the AK-47 action, comes with 12-ga. smooth bored barrel and the chamber which accepts ammo equipped with shot or slugs including "Magnum" cartridges with 2-3/4" and 3" cartridge case. It is magazine fed. Since I do not have any experience with it yet I find it hard to say it is a good choice, but it is available. Some older military weapons are the Winchester Model 1897 and the Winchester Model 12 as well as the Ithaca Model 37. These are not readily found in the civilian gun market so I will just mention them in passing.

The combat shotgun is good for clearing rooms and hallways of intruders allowing you to get out of a bad situation in a hurry. You can put a lot of hits on multiple targets with this weapon. The biggest drawback to a combat shotgun is the weight of the ammo you must carry to have a fighting chance against adversaries. If you are using a combat shotgun you should have someone backing you up with either an assault rifle or a battle rifle. Even with slugs, these are not a long range weapon.

Handguns:
This is a very personal choice and what works for one may not for another. At the very minimum I would recommend a .22 LR revolver for your emergency pack along with 500 rnds of ammo. Thatís 500 potential meals.
Buy and shoot what you are comfortable with. If you are afraid of the recoil, you will have a hard time hitting what you are shooting at. Before you buy, go to a shooting range that rents handguns and try out several. This is less expensive than buying a .44 mag only to find out you need a .38 special.

Magazines:
Buy at least 15 each 30-rnd for each Assault Rifle, and an extra 5 for replacements. For Battle Rifles, purchase 15 each 20-rnd mags with 6 extra. The Garand uses the 8 rnd clip, so buy 100 each. They are much easier to loose than a standard magazine. Handgun magazines should be 6 to 10 each depending on capacity and price. Mil-Surp battle rifles use stripper clips, and while some ammo comes on it most does not. 240 rounds on 5 round clips is 48 stripper clips.
Purchase an even hundred. The SKS stripper clips hold 10 rounds so 240 rounds would require 24 clips. Since these are still fairly cheap, get a hundred of them also.

Ammunition:
Ok, the minimum for the .22 LR is 5000 rnds (about $100)
For the shotgun, 1000 rnds with various loads
For the battle/hunting rifle no less than 2000rnds FMJ and 500 rnds JSP.
Less than this will leave you using the rifle for a club at a later date.
Most of your money spent will be for the hunting and shotgun loads. The .22 LR will be used more than any other gun in foraging small game animals and disposing of pests.

I recommend 10,000 rounds per .22 LR caliber Rifle and 2,500 rounds per .22 LR handgun. This caliber is not reloadable and in a survival scenario it may not be available anywhere except your own stash. Also makes a good barter currency. WARNING: Only barter ammo with those you know and trust as it may be used against you!

For shotguns, I suggest 2500 rounds of various loads; Slugs for hunting and vehicle disabling, Buckshot for Hunting and Combat, #4 & #6 for hunting and home defense. Stockpile more if this is your only/primary weapon.

Assault type rifles can chew up ammo fast, so I recommend a minimum of 5000 rounds.
Battle/Hunting Rifles can fall into the same category as above, so plan on 5000 rnds, again with various loads
(lets say 3500rnds FMJ and 1500 various grain JSP)
Bolt Action/Lever Action Rifles should be at least 3000 rnds, but plan on paying a bundle for any non-military caliber that you choose.

Handguns should stock at least 2000 rnds per weapon.

Amounts will vary depending on what you envision coming down the road. Plan for the worst, multiply that by 5 and you may be close.
Store your ammo in ammo cans if it is not stored in some type of container other than cardboard. It makes it easier to transport as well as better protected from environmental conditions.

As always, these are my opinions and are just guidelines for you to help build your own Survival Arsenal. Weapon selection is a choice that must be made with patience and lots of thought. Donít just rush out and buy something based on someone elseís experience. Plan well now, you won't be able to do it WTSHTF and you will live or die with your choice.

Mr.B