My name is Jason and I have a wife and 4 kids ages 2,7,12, & 14. We are newbies to the forum. I have been interested in Survival most of my life but I have never done anything about it. Recently we attended our regular church service and the message for that day was Bible prophecy.
I am not worried about the actual events portrayed in the bible but more concerned for the events leading up to it. Our Pastor basically outlined world events and how they fall into prophecy. One of the events he listed and spent much time on is E.M.P. This info has lead us to begin preparing for this possibility. I have attached just one of the multiple articles on this subject. Iran seems to be the main concern.Iran and EMP
We are beginning the process of food and water storage and have several BOL’s selected for several scenarios. We live in a urban environment and if Hurricane Katrina taught us anything it is to be prepared and people are ruthless when it comes to survival which leads me to my next question, arming ourselves.
I have very little experience with firearms other than 9mm pistols. I have used a 22. and various other rifles when I was a kid for pleasure with my Uncle. I know from research that a 12 gauge is good but I am also interested in the AR-15. Would this weapon fit our needs? I want something with a high capacity for ammo. I have read several pros and cons on this gun. The pros are its ammo capacity and accuracy and the cons are its maintance and it’s a complicated weapon. We intend to take some firearms classes and learn the in’s and out’s but I feel compelled to hurry for some reason. My questions are as follows:
Is the AR-15 right for me? If not, what then?
Which AR-15 should I get with a Modest Budget? The Bushmaster?
If I have an AR-15 what is the best ammo for both hunting and defense?
Where Can I purchase bulk ammo, say 1000 rnds?
Besides the gun itself what do I need for spare parts and so on?
Your pastor is doing your church a real service, and welcome to the forum.
Thats the result of realizing that your pants are around your ankles
from a preparedness standpoint. I know because I had a similar experience.
Do you have any friends that shoot rifles? I would recommend trying a few
different weapon systems, including the AR. I picked the AR because I was
already skilled with the M16A2 and I was familiar with the design.
I would start by clicking here.
Do you live in an urban or rural area? Are you in a desert area?
Also make sure to address water storage/purification, and food.
You can't defend yourself if you're dehydrated or too weak with starvation to move.
Personally, I specialize in food preps, because issues like NAIS concern me.
All your questions have well based, factual answers available here. Look at top of this page under 'communities'. For starters, try 'AR-15', then scroll down to 'ammunition'. Before you spend "dollar one", think what IS the most likely problem you might face where you live now; and what you would want/need to deal with that problem. A good starting place for 'thinking' is....what if you wake up tomorrow and the power is off in your whole town, your refrigerator stinks and nobody knows when it will be fixed. What would your household benefit most from having on hand? How about after it gets to 100 degrees indoors, and then it gets dark? What if it stays off for a week? (that's 21 meal-times)
Check in the Arizona Home town forum to see if anyone is near by that you could meet at a shoot. I think you oughta try out an AR. I like them, but there ain't many guns I don't like, but being comfortable with a gun is as important to me as anything else. Some folk just can't wrap their heads around working with an ar and that is fine. Find a gun your are comfy with and then get proficient with it.
You don't want to be all sorts of firearms centric with your preps. That is a big mistake, but all the ammo n the world won't mean crap without food and water.
You need to step back and assess what sorts of dangers you might face, natural, social, financial and design your preps around your findings. Riots are not going to happen here, but a volcano/storm/earthquake will. Financially we are still shakey and need to put more away for backup if I were to get hurt, etc. Insurance, reserve etc.
Communications and emergency communications are a part of things as well. The wife and I have cell phones, but as a back up we also carry sharpies and have various message points lined out so if we get separated we can leave notes. We also have sharpies in our (little) kids backpacks so we can mark them if need be with name and contact info. We have outie contacts to call as well.
I also have backpacks set up for the whole family. Not BoB's or GHB's or whatever people call them....just backpacks loaded with stuff that will make most scenarios that we may ome across more comfortable...extra clothes, little bit of food, water, what have you. They ain't meant to go pounding off into the woods to make a new life with, just to make life a little easier over the short term. I expect natural disaster or the like long before hordes of zombies or Chinese and more than likely we will have to scatter to a friend's or my parent's place.
We never run the vehicles lower than half a tank. We have multiple places to goto for shelter, and multiple means of transpo/commo. Both our vehicles can pack the kids around and are set up with car seats, road hazard stuff, extra water and some supplies.
Anyhow, prepping is more a mindset than anything. You look at things and ask yourself how it will help you in the long run rather than if it will just entertain you.
If you want an AR, build one...cheaper, and the process will be very enlightening to you and help you understand its workings.
skip the AR.
get 1- 12g
2 AK47 or 74 clones
mags for 1-4 load outs( 20-30mags)
least 3 kof ammo. train with 2k of that then re-stock.
this way since your kids are over 12 and its you and wife you'll have 3 well armed folks to defend against any "issues"
spend the rest on preps.
Reason say AK is this..
1- your not lookin to be sub moa at 500m. with family etc , semi urban area your looking to keep your "fights" with in that 1-250yrd range.
2- you'll need a weapon thats easy to maintain, and use.
3- less parts to break, stock or replace
4- damn things sure aint picky about ammo
5- you can use the FMJ round to hunt,defend and plink
6- they are still a carbine, short,handy,robust.
7- cost. the cost of 2 low budget AK's are almost half of waht 1 low end AR will run
8- ammo is cheaper per 1k that 556/223
9 on acuracy ,,,,well built ones are on par with AR's IMHO once you get off the becnh and into "real" shooting events.....
YMMV as always,
welcome to the forum and glad that your refusieng to be a sheep.....
Good questions but take a deep breath and calm down. EMP is probably down there with invasion of the US in likelihood at the present time. Very low risk. I wouldn't even worry about it for the present time.
Financial problems should be higher on your list for sure.
Prepping for a natural disaster should be higher on your list.
Don't go out and max your credit cards out of fear of EMP.
Look at the source for that news story. It's World Net Daily. They aren't known for letting facts get in the way of a good "news" story.
Some other things to thing about
Quality - a poor quality firearm is like a lemon car or worse.
Kick - If one of your family can't deal with the recoil of a firearm they won't shoot well with it. They may refuse to shoot anything else if their early shooting experiences are bad. 12 gauge have higher recoil than the ak or ar.
There are other choices too that would serve well like a 30/30 lever action.
I think the AR-15 is a great weapon but unfortunately, due to the war the price of ammo for it has skyrocketed recently. You might therefore consider another less expensive system for the short term.
In any case, you really should start with a personal threat assessment so you know what to prepare for. Guns and ammo are definitely cool and fun and should be a part of everyone's survival toolkit but there are other things that probably should take precedence.
Take a look here: Captain Dave's Survival Guide
ETA: I agree with previous posters on the low threat posed by EMP. To be a serious threat one would need a lightweight high yield nuclear device and a means to deliver it from a few thousand miles away. There are only a few countries that can do this and half of them are our friends. Given that our military electronics are hardened against EMP and therefore give us the option of an annihilating counter attack, I'm not too worried about China or Russia.
Hey brother welcome to our section. I know its hard to find.
The best thing you can do and have already done it, is look listen and learn...right here.
I would not particularly focus on EMP, but the result of that kind of SHTF would be similar to any other long term crisis. I would focus on short term SHTF first and then morph into longer term preps.
I personally like the AR platform for its inherent accuracy and ease of use. You may be fine with an AK, but you need to try both to see which one is easier to shoot for you. You won't need 10 of thousands of rounds of ammo, but you do need a minimum amount and some to train you and your family. The best way to protect your kids from getting hurt by firearms accidents is to teach them to handle and shoot your firearms.
The gun side of you preps will be a fraction of your total preps.
Start putting up a few extra cans of food and jugs of water a month. That way you can spread out the costs and keep making progress.
I also started prepping due to religious reasons, at least at first. The more I read into the scriptures, and looked into what is going to happen and when, I noticed a couple things. The biggest is that before wars and the end of the world, there's going to be economic hardships, famine, and plague. THOSE are what I prep for, in that order actually. I'll actually use an example that my family is in right now.
My wife worked as a swim instructor at a local swimming pool after we had our first child. She got cryptosproridiosis, which is a fecal/water borne parasite. This knocked her on her butt for almost a month. Which meant no working. Add to that 2 ER visits, medications, and Dr.'s visits. It increased our costs that month by $235, and decreased our income by $1,200.00. This effectly cut our monthly income in half. Because of the crappy way her boss treated her when this happened, she quit, and has been looking for employment other places. I'd bet that at least 90% if the U.S. population would be screwed if they missed a single paycheck. We are not rich in any way, but we've been completely fine because of a few things.
1. We lived below our means. We don't have expensive cars with car payments, or an expensive house (we actually rent). We don't waste money, and know how to save for what we want rather than putting it on a card.
2. While we had a higher income, we put $ away. Not much since we didn't have much, but we had some, and more imporantly, I had over $800 cash in our safe at home for emergencies such as this.
3. Food storage. We've been using a lot more of our storage food. We'll have to restock once my wife is working again, but having almost 3 months of food on hand has helped reduce our grocery bills.
4. We've been blessed. I honestly don't know how we've been doing as well as we have been. I truely believe now more than ever that if you do everything you can, the lord will provide. I don't want to turn this into a Religion Forum discussion, so I'll leave it at that.
I have no AR, I would like one, but the cost for me is too high right now. MY SHTF armory (haha, yeah, I just call it that, most people have more guns in their car than I own) is small, but covers most areas.
10/22 .22 caliber is cheap, and good for small game. Good training gun as well.
Mosin Nagan M44. Ammo is still fairly cheap (although it did double in price recently). Really my fun gun, but could be used for hunting and defensive use if needed. After all, it is a military gun.
870 12 gauge. Small game, large game, man hunter.
XD 9 sc. Carry gun.
Thats it. I have plenty of ammo for all of them. I plan on adding a savage .308 next year for hunting, and then maybe an AR the year after that. After that, I'm pretty much done with what I think I "need".
I recognize the EMP risk, but it doesn't concern me much. I'm far more worried about the 3 above. That and natural disasters. And...well, you get the point.
Welcome. I have been interested in survival since I read "Alas, Babylon" in high school a long time ago. I have spent many hours on the net and I can say without a doubt that this is the best survial site on the net. The guys here "DO" more about survival than the other sites I have found. We call out anyone with questionable info before it spreads to those looking for answers. But, even here you need to take everything with a grain of salt. Do not assume that just because something works for others that it is the right answer for you.
I am impressed that your church is advocating preparedness. I wish I could find a church like that. Do any of your friends at church feel the same way you do?
Like others have said, I don't think EMP is the first thing you should worry about. I think it is a possibility, but it is probably unlikely in the next 5 or 10 years.
I would work to have food and water for at least a month before I worried about rifles. I assume from what you wrote that you have a 9mm handgun or two. That should cover you for most encounters that you would have during a month long SHTF. Once you get to two or three months worth of food and water, then I would think a rifle or two would move up in priority.
Remember that you need a way to cook the food, meds, and a way to cool/heat a living area if the power is out. Also, make sure you have ways to keep the kids busy. All of these things are much more likely to be needed than a rifle.
Stick around here and read all you can. And don't think that this is an impossible task. A little at a time, you will get yourself into a much better position than you are in now. Ask us anything. The only stupid question is the one that is not asked.
Don't let this consume your life. I look at my preps as insurance. I does no good to buy so much insurance that you can't eat. Prepping is the same way.
Good luck and congratulations on realizing that this is an important part of taking care of your family. You are a good husband and father.
+1 to what Halffast and others have said, focus on preps, not just guns. Do you own any 9mm pistols? If so get extra mags, ammo, parts, and learn them inside and out. Get professional training with them if possible. Until you have a months worth of food, medical supplies, maybe a genny, etc. don't worry about any more guns. If you don't have any guns, buy a Glock 19 and a rifle of your choosing, Moisin-Nagant on the cheap side, SKS in the middle, and AR or M1A on the high side. If money permits, I'd add a .22LR rifle to the mix. Try to keep in mind when purchasing any firearm for SHTF that you must purchase extra parts, mags(if so equipped), ammo, optics(if necessary), method of carry(sling or holster), and some way to carry extra ammo on your person. This can easily double the cost of a rifle, and you should know this going in. After you have a basic firearm, worry about stocking the other stuff(health supplies, food, power generation/storage, money, etc.) The only exceptions I would make to this as far as firearms go is for ammo and training. Ammo should be stocked up at all times, as it's price is only going up.
There. I made it simple for you.
To the OP. Re-read this post. This poster said it best.
I for one will agree that an EMP is a VERY creditable threat by the end of 2008
You don't say what your budjet is.
A stainless 10/22 with several bannana clips and 5K of ammo is a start
and should be your 1ST weapon imo, just for the cost and ability for everyone
to train and learn sight alignment cost without scope $400.
If the budjet and simplicity are a concern the siaga in .223 would be next
since this would give you a start twoard the ar platform in the future $700 with
ammo and several mags.
If you intend to bo what type of viehicle do you have? One that is emp proof
or your going to be walking in the AZ heat with how much water? cache?
BI in an urban eviro would trouble me, is your house brick? If it will stop rounds
I'd consider it if you could get a few more people to keep the watch's easier.
When I think AZ I thing longer ranges with less cover so I'd put the handgun
third on the list for close encounter's instead of the shotgun
the next choice would be a .223 bolt and scope
as you can see the cost for weapon's could start to run several K
How did it go over with the other members? is there a possible group bo location?
somebody please ban this yahoo!
Thanks to all for the warm welcomes and the informational replies. I do need to clarify something I forgot to mention. My family and I are avid campers so we have alot of easily tranportal equipment and we have a month supply of dood and water on hand already. We look to add to it as we go. I was a little surprised on the lack of concern for the EMP threat. There is not only the article I found but several others some dated as recent as May of this year. Financially we are in a good place and can afford some of the more luxary survial items such as the AR-15. We are not rich by any means.
I am concerned about some of the other threats out there but not as much as EMP.
Keep the info coming folks. Great stuff.
I did not find you post long, it is good to see a new guy here asking intelligent questions about what may or may not work. I fully agree with many of the others here that food and provisions are the number one priority, without them, guns aren't gonna do anyone a whole lot of good unless they are planning on stealing to get what they need (yeah we've seen that mentality before)
The decision on what weapons to purchase is driven by many factors, which the others here have already pointed out quite accurately. It all comes down to that fundamental shift in thinking that puts you on the path to actually doing something to prepare for yourself and your family, and it appears that you have made that shift.
Just because this is the forums, I have to throw in my $.02 on the weapon choices .
Depending on the situation you may find that there may come a time that you need to turn cover into concealment, what is cover from one caliber is only concealment from another. The US military and a few others have stuck with 5.56mm (.223) for their primary round for small arms that are carried by it's soldiers, many of the European and Asian countries have gone with the 30 caliber round for that and other purposes. My choice was to go with standard 7.62X51 NATO (.308).
A shotgun is an essential in any home, but like the others have noted the recoil can be quite harsh, especially with 3" magnum rounds. It is a goos all around close defense gun that is simple to operate and VERY effective at close range, even with bird shot. Heavier ammunition like 00 buck and slugs can present a over penetration problem depending on your setting (in an urban area there is potential for it to penetrate walls to adjoined spaces or even your neighbors house depending on the load). I have had really good luck in the past introducing people to the 12ga by starting them off with light trap loads and working up slowly to the heavier defense rounds.
I can ramble on the subject for quite a while, but I'm not. I am by no means an expert, I just know what works for me.
You are on the right path, it is up to you not to stray back to the flock and close your eyes to the dangers around you
BTW, Welcome to the Forums!
98% of the population is asleep. The other 2% are staring around in complete amazement, abject terror, or both.
When we were getting ready for the big crash of Y2K, some people believed that there would be a nationwide infrastructure failure. No water, no electricity, no fuel, etc. At my church I reasoned with folks like this. Our city water department does not want to explain why they are billing us for water they did not deliver from Jan 1 to Jan 31. They will find a way to deliver water so they can get paid. Same for WTU electric, phone, super-stuff-mart and the rest. So if you can get by 3 days then you’ll be ok.
Remember I was in public so no “over the top” stuff.
EMP falls in the same category as Y2K. All the utilities want to get paid, so they will find a way to deliver their product.
TJ did some good works on EMP effects on autos, the summary is that the cars of the early 80’s are the only ones that are vulnerable. He posted this probably a year or so ago. I can’t go to the archive and cut and paste, sorry.
The objective is to make the thief, or rapist say “OH ....... HES/SHES GOT A GUN”
A 22 handgun would have changed the movie “Deliverance” into a 30 second ad for self service law enforcement. Get your affairs in order so that you reduce the threats to your family. An AR or 12 gauge or an AK will do no good if it is at home while you’re getting mugged at the mall.
I think that EMP is unlikely, but I do consider it in my
preps, because it is a potential threat, ESPECIALLY
to communications. No phones, radio, computers,
email, tv, or faxes would cause quite a disruption,
not only for recovery coordination, but due to the
Welcome to the place! You should not have any truoble finding someone to show or let you shoot several types of weapons in Az. I like Fals but for someone starting out , not a good choice. I like to push MARKSMANSHIP! You can not get that with a AK. AR Yes. If for just a short time until you can afford the ARs try a SKS. Ammo is available and less costly compared to others. 4 SkS=2Aks=1AR. How much money you got to spend versus how many folks you got to arm. Guns are tool. Buy the best you can afford. How much is your families life worth?
I MUST HAVE A SHIRT LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
the shirt pictured above with the M4 rifle profile is my very own photoshop job.
the original is true to the Red Dawn scene (AK47), and is available for $14.99 via
hope that helps.
I do low key prepping as the father of the grand kids is in a faraway place with lots of sand. And I've seen poo hit the rotating blades, in various forms.
All great advice that you've been given.
We don't know your location, (i.e. Flagstaff vs. Phoenix) so make a few adjustments to reflect how you will get potable water.
I'd personally work a couple of .22 rifles into the mix, this early in the game.
And be careful there, I heard Chandler, AZ, kicked a kid out of skewl because he DREW a picture of gun. So it's my advice to talk with the young'ns in terms of "Olympic Gold Medal shooting tryouts - concerning firearms.
Good luck, God Bless
i don't no if anyone mentioned this but the upside to a ar as a shtf gun is it can also fire 22 ammo, i keep a spare 22 kit thats in my bob bag and a few thousand 22 rounds
What is the adapter for?
sorry reply wasn't very clear
i have a ar in 223 set aside for my bob and also a spare cenier 22 kit so once i run out of 223 i can use 22, or if the application calls for a 22 to take small game i can switch to lower power and shoot a rabbit or squeal without recking the meat.
I would also skip the AR in favor of an AK47 in your situation. The AK is a fantastic beginner rifle. It takes all of 30-60 min to be able to know how to use, care, and maintain it. It was designed to be simple and rugged. It is also so reliable that unless it is full of sand or mud, you don't really need to clean or lube it. I have ran 2 of my AKs for around 1000 rounds each without any cleaning or lube. I had zero problems with either rifle and only started to clean them again because they passed my little test. They are accurate enough for almost any situtation you will enounter in the real world. I can hit jackrabbits (think human head sized targets) out to 100m without much trouble. I can also hit man sized targets out to 250-300m without much troublel. Since WWII, most infantry combat takes place under 300m. Most of that combat actually takes place around 100m. Like I said before, at 100m you can get head shots without much trouble if you do your part with an AK. The AK cannot even compare the the accuracy of the AR at ranges over 300m. However, you will probably never have to take 500m shots in a SHTF situtation. How would you even be able to identify someone over 150m? You can't because they won't be wearing any uniform. If you somehow ever got into a firefight at 500m, you would be far better served to retreat. You should be able to get away pretty easily at that range. You want to be able to avoid all combat you can. If you get shot in a SHTF scenario, there won't be any ambulance to come pick you up!
Get a Vector fixed stock AK for $524. They make excellent AKs and have a 5 year warranty.
You can get a Vector AK ($524) + 1000 rounds of 7.62x39 ($160) + 8-10 thirty round magazines ($100) = $794.
Bushmaster AR (~$800+) + 1000 rounds of 5.56/.223. ($250) + 8-10 thirty round magazines ($100) = $1150+
Don't get me wrong, AR15s are awesome rifles. However, for any SHTF where I don't know how long it will last, I'll always go with an AK. The AK has a lot fewer parts to break and will still run when you run out of CLP and lube a year or two into SHTF if it is an end of the world scenario.
The best thing about the AK right now is that ammo is $0.16 a round and availiable. AR15 ammo is $0.25+ a round (if you can even find it). Because ammo is cheaper and availiable, you can train a lot more with your AK. I would definitely rather fight someone with has all the best gear and best rifle in the world but little to no training and experience than fight a man who has had tons of practice, experience, and training with a "mediocre" weapon and little gear. The man behind the weapon means FAR more than the weapon.
This is worth a +1
Great responses so far. Thank you to all. I guess I will need to look at the AK as well in my defense prep scenario. So far my research on the AR has narrowed me down to the Bushmaster. I klnow it is pricey but so far it seems the best. My only concern is there are so many different variants of the Bushmaster AR-15 that I cant figure out the difference. I am also confused on what if anything I need to make it legal to own an Ak or AR here in Arizona. This almost seems like a Ford V. Chevy Debate.
As far as I know, Arizona is a pretty gun friendly state. Any AK or AR that your buy from a store in or out of state should be good to go. You may want to post in the "Hometown" forum and go to the Arizona section to ask local guys.
Again, either an AK or AR would work great. However, like I said before, the man behind the gun will make the greatest difference so you need to train with whatever choice you make. An AK would just make that training cheaper
Another option to consider doing is to buy an AK for you and an SKS for your wife and an SKS for your oldest boy. The SKS uses the exact same round as your AK, 7.62x39 so you have ammo interchangability. Also, the SKS doesn't use magazines. It has a 10 round fixed magazine that is reloaded with 10 round stripper clips. If you get good and stripper clip reloading, you can reload it pretty dang fast. The best thing is that each stripper clip only costs about $0.25. You can buy 40-50 and only cost under $15. Each SKS would only cost about $200. If say the AK is 100% reliable, I would say your typical SKS is 99%. Plus, the SKS has a slightly longer barrel and thus slightly better accuracy than the AK. If you had an AK, your wife an SKS, and your oldest son an SKS, your group would have a much better combat potential (with some training of course). With 3 shooters, it would make it much easier to advance and flank or retreat. While you took turns advancing or retreating, the other two people could provide suppressive fire. Anyway, this is another reason to go with the AK. You could buy 1 AK, 2 SKSs, 1000 rounds, 8-10 AK mags, and 40-50 stripper clips for about the price of 1 AR15, 1000 rounds, and 10 mags.
You can buy one and it'll be legal in AZ as is. AZ is a very gun friendly state.
Colt, Bushmaster, Rock River Arms, CMMG, Bravo Co USA, Stag Arms, Armalite and probably a couple other I am forgetting are all about equal in quality.
Basically the AR is divided into two versions....the M4 which for civilians is going to be a 16 inch carbine and then A2/A4 version which is basically a 20 inch full length rifle. The "A4" version has a removable carrying handle. You can get the removable carrying handle for a 16 inch carbine as well.
There are other more exotic versions but I suspect that the basic info I've posted will be about what you need to get started. You can go over to the AR15 threads and read to your hearts content and you'll be able to learn further and more that I can post in one posting.
Let me give you a bit of advice on gun issues you will notice if you hang around any gun store, shooting board or what not.
There is a never ending debate between what is better AK or AR,
Glock vs Anything Else
9mm vs .45 etc.
These are fun and lively debates and can get heated sometimes. The common solution to the problem is to get BOTH . If you ask in most any other ARFCOM forum which you should get this will be the most common answer.
I would recommend try before you buy if you can.
There is NO one perfect gun they are tools. There is no one perfect hammer etc. Right now there is no real big push legislatively to outlaw or restrict so called "assault weapons" So at least for the next year you should have some options, plenty of time to try and research.
I can not stress enough getting a .22 rifle and maybe handgun. CHEAP ammo FUN and good practice. I don't like their politics but Ruger makes a FINE rifle in the 10/22 it comes in a bunch of flavors and EVERY arms battery should have at least 1 they are also inexpensive to start. They are also infinitely customizable. A basic 10/22 is a must have.
I also like the idea of a .22 pistol for fun plinking and training but it is not as critical as a good .22 rifle. I got a .22 pistol to introduce my kids and wife to pistol shooting. LOW recoil/noise/cost.
I cannot recommend training high enough. Even if all you had were a couple of .22's This is CRITICAL.
For cheap rifle training check out the Appleseed Project. $70 bucks to learn the basics of rifle marksmenship, kids are free and sometimes the wimenz are free too. This is for 2 days of training. Best deal around. They have classes all over the country. You can use your 10/22 or other .22 for this as well. So it is a fun easy and cheap way to learn. Get more training after if you want but this would be good for most of the family. If you don't have enough rifles for all to do it tell the organizers and I am sure people will bring some extra.
I would highy recommend CCW permits and at least defensive handgun 1 from a reputable trainer. The hometown forum would be a place to check for training in your area and pick up a copy of SWAT magazine in the book store they review training facilities all over the country. There are some very good places to train but take at least 1 class.
Training is VERY important. Please don't over look it.
In regards to brands of AR15 you cannot really go wrong with a reputable brand. You don't HAVE to get the most expensive just not the cheapest. The features depend on what you like and are looking for. The newest "tacticool" features are more than the basic. The AR15 is one of THE most customizable and customized rifles in existence.
Here are some basics. A1 and A2 type have higher sights and a built in carry handle A4 has a flat top rail on top for scopes that are closer to the barrel for mounting optics.
Some are built for accuracy but are more finicky
Some have rails on the fore grip to add all sorts of doo-dads. Some like them some don't. Some are short and some go almost to the end of the barrel.
Some use a gas piston and are supposed to be more reliable than the standard.
Some come in different calibers
Some M4 type are shorter, have short retractable stocks, 16 inch or shorter barrels (shorter are SBR's and need an ATF permit). And a short hand guard.
Some are longer barreled target models.
When I was getting some of my guns I underestimated the cost of feeding them. For instance my carry piece is a .45 glock. I am planning on picking up a 9mm because the ammo is alot cheaper and I will be able to shoot and practice more. This can be a really big deal the more practice and skill you have the better, besides it is FUN.
Right now the AK74 type AK has the cheapest ammo and .223 is getting very expensive.
But training and practice ammo can get pricey especially if you find you just like to go out and shoot.
Also look at the cost of magazines. You want at least 5-10 for each rifle. Rock River Arms is making a AR-10 (.308 caliber AR15 type) that uses FAL magazines because they are a 1/3rd the cost of a AR10 magazine.
I would also recommend picking up some reading.
Bostons Gun Bible
Unintended Concequences (this has some raunchy stuff in it. Some and you can skip it, very good for learning about gun culture, some us history in a fun entertaining novel)
Patriots Surviving the Coming Collapse - Xtian based
One of the posters here Halfast, wrote a book that is free on the forum can't for the life of me remember the name about an EMP SHTF. Good story.
There are others as well
Just remember that most of this gun stuff is all opinion, I would not get too caught up in AK vs AR 9mm vs .45 etc. Most people here Do have both. Buying quality is cheaper with firearms in the long run and quality does not always mean the most expensive. What works for some people does not work for others. I find Glock Pistols fit my hand well, others HATE them and they feel weird. Get as much training as you can. And get a .22 rifle it is probably THE single most important firearm tied with a reliable defensive handgun for survival. It can be used for hunting and defense in a pinch.
Lots of good info and prep strategies here.
I agree with EMP being a lower risk; if I'm worried about EMP, I'm worried about what could come with it; radiation and or fallout if the conditions warrant it. And then if it did hit; the whole grid could be out also. Everybody's involved regionally.
The backpacking gear is a great start. Expand on it for all members of your family; for winter and summer conditions. And a possible bug-out scenerio using it.
As for the ARs (if this is your preference) you might consider building your own. By a stripped lower of your choice and buy a M&A Parts kit and put it together yourself. You will save a few dollars and learn about your weapon at the same time.
eta: Another good choice are Rock River ARs; there are several people on the EE that can get you a decent deal on RR uppers and parts. As for spare AR parts' the most economical way to start is buy a spare Lower Parts Kit and a spare bolt. This isn't the be all/end all spares kit though; you'd want to add in a spare firing pin, fp retaining pins, a bolt cam pin for a start as the budget allows. And mags.
You may want to consider a .22 rifle such as a Ruger 10/22 and a heavier caliber rifle for hunting, along with a decent 12 gauge shotgun (defence and bird hunting).
Even more important as most have said is food and water. You might want to consider a British Berkefeld water purifier and an extra set of elements for your family. As a rule of thumb 2-3 gallons of water, per person, per day for hydration, cooking, and hygiene purposes. A Coleman dual-fuel stove with a propane conversion also. A way of storing water which can be found in these forums. Out of time; time for me to go to work.