Friday, February 19, 2010

Z-Kit Supplemental

It's been a while since I've talked about my Z-Kit, and that's a shame, because in the months since I last mentioned it I've upgraded it quite substantially.

And, well, the whole business with my mother possibly having cancer has made me start thinking about it again. I'm not sure what it says about my mental state when my first reaction to news that a loved one might have a fatal illness is to start looking at survival gear.

Especially guns. I know I had an initial "no guns" policy for the Z-Kit, but for some reason I got it into my head that I really, really wanted a .22 rifle for hunting.

There are several reasons why I picked a .22 instead of a bigger round, like a .30-06:
  1. .22 caliber is light, cheap, and plentiful; I can buy a box of a thousand rounds for about five bucks, they won't weigh me down like a heavier caliber will, and I can get them practically anywhere.
  2. A light round means a light rifle, and size/weight/portability are important.
  3. It's the perfect caliber for subsistence hunting (because I don't fool myself into thinking I can bring down a deer, but I know I can plink a squirrel or two if needed).
  4. Recoil and noise are minimal.
  5. When cops see a .22, they don't immediately go "OMG LETHAL WEAPON". Yes, I know it's possible to kill someone with a .22, but there's less stigma attached to it for some reason.
So I know what I want: A small, light, inexpensive .22 rifle, and I've narrowed it down to two choices, the Henry Arms U.S. Survival .22 and the Marlin Model 60.

The U.S. Survival .22 is the most recent iteration of the AR-7, which a lot of you might recognize from the James Bond movie "From Russia with Love".

This has a lot of great features:
  1. It weighs 2.5 pounds
  2. It floats
  3. The receiver and barrel fit into the stock for compactness
  4. It's cheap (the silver version can be bought for ~$150)

Regarding that last point: I know some people will say "But Palette, just because a gun is cheap doesn't mean you should get it!" And to that I reply, "This is what I can afford, and even then I'll still need to save up for 3-5 months. I figure a cheap gun is better than having no gun at all."

"Why not just buy the black version?" Strangely, the difference between silver and black is about $50. If I go with the silver version, I can buy it, plus a 4x32 scope for it, for the same price as a black one and still have enough money for camo tape.

"But Palette, why a scope?" Because I'm not that good a shot and need all the help I can get.

"Why not get a bigger rifle? Or a shotgun?" Because they're more than I can afford, and they're big and heavy, and so is their ammunition. This is a contingency weapon, not an every-weekend thing.

"Why not get a Scout M6?" I would love to. I think the over/under rifle-shotgun combo is unbeatable. But they aren't being manufactured right now, and scarcity has driven their prices up past what I can afford.

But whereas the Henry is very modern, the Marlin Model 60 is decidedly old-school. It's twice as heavy and doesn't disassemble, which is bad for portability but means it's a lot more durable. Reliability means a lot if I have to do subsistence hunting. It also has a longstanding reputation for being very accurate straight out of the box (and even more so with a sight) and has a 14-round magazine vs the Henry's 8-round. I'm also given to understand there are plenty of after-market conversions for it, so if I were inclined I could eventually swap out the stock, er, stock on it and replace it with something lighter.

Ironically, I think the biggest drawback this gun has is that it looks like a gun all the time, as opposed to the Henry which sometimes just looks like a plastic stock. Now if I were a weekend hunter, there's no debate which one I'd pick: I'd go with the Marlin every time, because I'm a big believer in form following function. But if my desired function is "small, light, looks innocuous" then this guy is right out. On the other hand, some folks have claimed that the Henry is awkward to fire and inaccurate, even with a scope. And the Marlin doesn't come in a nasty silver color.

Surprisingly, the Marlin 60 is also ~$150, so it's not a simple case of "buy whichever one costs less." In researching these rifles, I've found they're a lot like sports teams: some people say they are wonderfully wicked awesome, and others feel they're unreliable pieces of cheap junk.

So, I put it to you, my dear readers: Which one should I get?


  1. I could go either way, but I'm leaning toward the Henry. It seems to suit your purposes more. If you were thinking in terms of setting yourself up in a compound or somesuch and hunting around the area, I'd go the other way, but I get the feeling you want something that travels easily. Besides the compactness, I also like the fact that the Henry floats.

  2. Since we are talking about a 'bug-out' bag here, I think the former is a better fit. I know I've wanted one since I was a teenager. Though a Winchester 62A easily breaks down into two pieces and is very accurate. It is a pump action .22. I love mine. But I have no clue how much a similar model would cost. Mine is decades old.

  3. Hurray! Z-Kit! I always love these.
    I would also go for the Henry Arms U.S. Survival .22 for 2 reasons
    (1) From what you've said it's portable, versatile and discreet for pre-uprising ownership and use.
    (2) Once the first wave has passed through if the need arises for more substantial arms they will be more readily... available... and price won't be much of an issue... Ominous ellipsis!


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