Black Rifles & Tactical Guns

American Rifleman’s Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe: My Disaster Gun

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By Mark Keefe, American Rifleman

I saw the scenes of despair, the aftermath of natural disaster followed by the human lawlessness. The looting, lawlessness, the depravity and the mishandling of the public trust by those tasked to protect the citizens of Louisiana. Then I noted the marked contrast between the tragedy of New Orleans and the devastated areas of neighboring Mississippi. In Mississippi, no public officials tried to take honest people’s guns away—to deprive them of the right to self-defense in the face of societal collapse. When you put signs out that say “Looters Will Be Shot,” you usually don’t have to shoot any. Opportunists and predators look for the weak, the vulnerable, the unarmed and the hopeless. An alert man with a rifle that knows how to use it is none of those things.

My friend Marty Morgan stayed behind in New Orleans—he lived on high ground and had plenty of food and water—and he had a rifle, an AKM. He survived the natural disaster no problem, but knew he might not live through the rampant anarchy that followed. There is no doubt in his mind that, if not for that rifle, he would likely not be with us today.

Handguns are handy in such situations—and I will always have one on my hip in such times—but a rifle is essential. A man with a rifle has options, he can put distance between himself and predators, and he has long-range firepower that is effective at long range, but devastating at close range. A man with a rifle can defend his home and family, or strap it across his chest and walk out, away from disaster and danger.

My ideal gun would be a Model of 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle; nothing says you are serious about a gunfight like a 16-pound, fully automatic rifle that puts .30-’06 on target at 550 r.p.m. But a M1918 BAR costs about what a new Suburban does (if one haggles properly), and there just are not that many that are transferable.

The rifle that lies ready for such a time for me is the Springfield Armory SOCOM, now called the SOCOM 16. The semi-automatic 16-inch barreled SOCOM—not the SOCOM II, which I like for the extra rail space on but found not as handy—is based on the M1A, which is itself based on the U.S. M14, the magnum opus of the U.S. Ordnance Dept. It is equipped with an effective muzzle break and with a top rail forward of the action port that bears a Leupold 2.5×28 mm Scout scope. I also have an Aimpoint that serves for closer work. But the rifle has excellent iron sights, an enlarged aperture rear and a XS front post with a Tritium insert. It is chambered for 7.62×51 mm NATO, and feeds from one of the best box magazines ever designed. They only hold 20 rounds, but they feed like a champ. It has the power of a battle rifle, but can also be used for CQB if necessary. I can hit a man-sized silhouette at 600 meters, time after time with it. And I can clean a table of steel plates in seconds at 25 yards. My SOCOM has a Wildness Tactical web Ching, a shallow web cheekpiece that gets my eye in line with the Leupold’s Duplex reticle. My only regret is a lack of a bayonet. A guy with a rifle might be dangerous to the criminal element, but a guy with a bared blade bayonet, well, he is obviously not only serious, but crazy.

Thanks to NRA’s Mark Keefe of American Rifleman magazine for this article. Visit them here

NRA American Rifleman