Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Rifles for Doomsday Castle

Written By: Bob - Aug• 03•13
Doomsday Castle's Ashley with an EOTech-equipped M&P-15.

Doomsday Castle’s Ashley with an EOTech-equipped M&P-15 with Magpul furniture.

My trip to Doomsday Castle, was an interesting experience. We got to learn about the cast, and spent the better part of the day learning the castle layout and getting a little bit of a grasp of the terrain of the mountain around it.

I had a lot to think about on the drive home, from the gun-geek perspective. While we got to shoot bows and crossbows and catapults (and the cast can back me up that my bow skills aren’t that rusty), my thoughts always revert to firearms, especially since a certain “Doomsday daughter” told me twice how much she enjoyed firing a sniper rifle.

The mountain terrain around the castle is heavily wooded (which you may see for yourself when the show premieres on the National Geographic Channel at 10:00 PM on August 13), and the line of sight in the summer from the castle may measure as short as 20 yards to the nearest natural cover. On the other hand, once the summer greenery falls away, I suspect that the line of sight may be much longer from the castle, and especially from the listening post/observation post (LPOP) and other possible choke-points leading to the castle, up to perhaps 400 yards or so.

A rifle in a survival situation isn’t just for self-defense. It will also likely have to function as a hunting arm. Turkeys, boar, bear and deer are abundant in the area, and so it would make sense to have something to take such game. Keeping in mind that the three daughters on the show, Ashley, Lindsey, and Anne-Marie, make up half the cadre, and they are relatively petite young ladies, large .308 battle rifles like a FAL, PTR 91/G3, or M1A or  are going to pose an ergonomics problem, and AR-10 variants, while no doubt capable of being an ergonomic fit, are still on a larger frame, heavier frame, and shoot much heavier ammunition.

Likewise, as a fan of the 6.5 Grendel and 300 AAC Blackout, part of me would like to recommend AR-15s in these calibers, if it weren’t for the near impossibility of finding ammunition for them now, much less in the sort of grid-down future scenario the family is prepping to survive.

What would Brent Sr, and "Military Mike," AKA retired Ranger SFC Michael Moore, choose?

What would Brent Sr, and “Military Mike,” AKA retired Ranger First Sergeant Michael Moore, choose?

I’m forced to concede that the “boring” AR-15 is probably the best choice for a SHTF rifle in this scenario, as it is in many others.

Would they perhaps be better off with a .308 that might perform better through brush and against vehicles, and perhaps also be more effective against big game? Perhaps.

But if I’m looking for something to stop vehicles, a chain saw and few carefully selected trees is more effective on a narrow mountain road, especially if a kill zone is carefully selected.

As for the enhanced penetration powers of a .308 over a 5.56/.223 Remington, while it may be a very valid point, I think there is an argument to be made that a lighter weight rifle and much lighter ammunition is worth the trade-off in a running battle, especially when scrambling up the side of a mountain. I also happen to know the deer and boar in the NC mountains are generally on the smaller side, if plentiful, and our black bears aren’t nearly the size of the massive Brown killed with an AK-74 last week.

I think the castle’s layout and terrain make a good argument for a mix of lightweight Ar-15 carbines with red-dot sights and single-point slings for day-to-day patrolling after the kaka hits the fan, supported by SPR/DMR rifles with 1-4 scopes and simple loop slings for position defense and hunting.

Do you agree, think tweaks are in order, or would you pick something else entirely?

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  1. Matt says:

    10K+ rounds of 7.63x54r, a case of Mosins and a few PSL-54Cs. I would rather start engaging any bad guys at 1000 yards. By the time any miscreants get within assault rifle range you’re an easy target for battle rifles.

    • Bob says:

      They don’t have a a 1,000 yard LOS at any point during the year. The area is heavily wooded and has lots of obstructing terrain features. Realistically, most of what they will encounter is going to be well inside 200 yards.

  2. rumcrook™ says:

    I think matt has a good layered plan, as cheap as buying a case of mosins is along with spam cans of ammo it is a perfect and cheap way to push the kill zone out and cheaply arm the unexpected arrival or novice ally in your circle who you may not want to give an expensive ar platform rifle. for the price of an ar you can muster up at least 5 mosins. the ar’s should then go to the more experienced core people of the group. i would add a slip on nylon gel pad to each mosin to tame it a little and hand them out with a half hour class and your peasant second rank is now ready.

  3. J says:

    Completely off topic but if the rank on Moore’s plate carrier is correct then he was a First Sergeant, not a Sergeant First Class.

    On topic: my personal experience in Iraq is that the easiest way to stop a vehicle is to give the driver other things to think about than driving. I’ve shot out engines, oil pans and suspension with API-T out of an M2 and it sometimes takes a long time to get the vehicle to stop. On the other hand, drivers are less resistant to bullets and even 5.56 aimed at the arc described by the top of the steering wheel does a pretty good job. Even if the rounds deflect and miss the driver the holes in the windshield tend to cause erratic driving. Purely anecdotal of course…

  4. Cole says:

    Normally if a group is hunkering down instead of ranging or bugging out I recommend something heavier like the AR10. Weight and carrying capacity mean little when you’re just standing guard. But with so many small framed ladies the AR15 is probably the best choice. I’d rather they be able to stay on target and get off multiple accurate shots in a firefight. Also agree that vehicles should be countered with non-firearms if possible. Trees, other traps and impediments, or even explosives. Don’t forget the moat. Save the ammo for killing or barter.

    I wouldn’t recommend a Mosin. There’s a reason we moved on from 5 round stripper clips and bolt action battle rifles. Most people recommend the Mosin because it’s affordable and the ammo is easy to come by. It makes a good entry-level prepper rifle. But for a group with the means to build a castle they can afford to step up to semi-auto and 20-30 round mags.

  5. Del-Ray says:

    I would dump the Eotech for a scope that doesn’t guzzle batteries. They are great scopes. I have one on one of my AR’s. But in a SHTF situation I would rather have a scope that will still be running 5 years later if I leave it on accidentally. I went with an Aimpoint. That, and a Larue mount with an extra battery slot gives me a decade of battery power on the rifle. Yeah, the 4 minute of angle dot is huge compared to the Eotech’s 1 MOA center dot. But you get used to it.

  6. Ray says:

    So we want a survival rife that CANNOT be kept in the field without a working factory grid, dew to its demand for hi tec. parts and twice a day cleaning with factory made lube and cleaner? Lets add in the batt. pack on the glass and alloy egg on top. Or the week A** mags that ARs have all ways been known for. The ones that AR shooters seem to replace almost weekly. Lets not forget the nearly useless .223/5.56 round that won’t penetrate the average–well anything-and there you have it. THE be all and end all SHTF weapon –NOT. So flame away fanboys, but remember you are staking your life on a piece of alloy and plastic that you cannot make parts for. Cannot make mags for, and won’t be able to trade of for a real weapon once TSHTF.One That has a track record of combat failure that go’s from Vietnam to the ‘Stan. Good luck with that.

    • Bob says:

      The last I checked, the AR-15 platform has been the top-selling centerfire platform for at least the past half-decade, and seems to grow even more popular every day as new variations and improvements to the basic Stoner design come out. It’s just as popular with retired Rangers and active duty Marines that I know as it is competition shooters and backyard plinkers. With such popularity comes commonality and ease of parts and magazine replacement, not to mention common ammo.

      Obviously, Ray, you have some issues to work out with this particular inanimate object. I’d recommend a good therapist to try to help you through.

    • Matt R. says:


      Since you’re so sure that the AR is such a poor weapon, why don’t you head on over to John Mosby’s “Mountain Guerrilla” website and take him up on his The Last Word on the “ARs suck balls” debate. You can find it at:

      You can put your favorite firearm up against the lowly AR. Be sure to let us know how that turns out for you.


    • Right_2_Bear says:

      I’m not a big fan of the AR myself but I have one. I think it is a must have rifle just because there are so many of them and parts are everywhere. That is a great insurance policy in any WROL/SHTF situation. A fiber optic ACOG or just good old iron sights solves the battery issue.

      I disagree with your opinion on the .223/5.56 round. There are not many places in an average home that will stop that round. Even a concrete block is going to crumble away after a couple hits. The round will penetrate 3/8″ mild steel within 50 yards. The only area of a car that will save you from a 5.56 round is the engine. Also more ammo with less weight is a huge plus over 30 cal.

  7. rumcrook says:

    In one form or another I’ve been carrying an ar or m16 since 84 parts are ubiquitous and widely is reliable. the hatefest is by a core group of gun aficionados and they will never change their minds.

  8. Del-Ray says:

    Comparing a poorly made and kept version of any rifle to others is a bad idea at any time.

    Look up “Filthy 14”. It was posted at’s website at least a year ago.

    Filthy 14 was the number designation for a Bravo Company AR platform rifle that went 26K rounds at a school before cleaning….

    I’ve put a few thousand through my favorite BCM-AR without more then a patch down the barrel before, using Pmags as well. Yeah that horrible plastic mag that can be run over by a truck and still work. Is it my only rifle? Nope. Not by a loooong shot. But I wonder, which rifle, made entirely of good old fashioned steel are you comparing to the horrible AR? I’d like the know what you consider “close to perfection”, and why?

    For me I carry it with me because:

    Can’t go anywhere without bumping into parts. I swear, I went into a gas station once and there were gas blocks hanging on the wall next to the chips.

    Before the current debacle there was plenty of well priced quality ammo available. Easy (at the time) to find components to feed my presses.

    Horrible indestructible Pmags that seem to work. (well for me and most that use em anyways.



    I use Slip2000 EWL for cleaning/lube though. So that might be cheating.

  9. Chris Watson says:

    Clear your fields of fire out to 400 meters; as anyone who’s done SFAS can tell you, the brush in NC is no joke. As a Ranger, I’m sure 1SGT Moore will steer these folks right.

  10. A single family defensive site is unsustainable. What the family should be doing is integrating their defense with a militia that covers a much larger area. The best they can hope for is to hold out until a reinforcements arrive to relieve them.

    In a “grid down” scenario, one of the most important things available would be communications.

    Perhaps they have it, but extremely important would be HAM radio equipment, numerous spares, and the skills to use it.

  11. Rob says:

    What, no Garand, no 30-30’s? Bob, I’ve never seen this show or know where to see it, but is it about building a spot and then defending it? Wouldn’t the emphasis then be on squad type assignments,… reach out calibers for some and small calibers for some close in stuff.

    Right? And really, how long could you hold out anyway? Not really too long. I would think defending a fixed position would be the least viable. I guess that’s why the show is interesting?

  12. Steve Skubinna says:

    What round for zombies? I have maybe 9,000 rounds of M855, but I wasn’t planning for the zombie apocalypse – just buying up a thousand or so a time when I found a good deal.

    I also don’t have clear fields of fire around my house or defensive positions established. Face it, an apocalyptic scenario is going to leave most of us dead in short order. My personal SHTF planning is based around a couple weeks’ interruption of services. Since I live in rural America that doesn’t take nearly as much prepping as it would for somebody in a city (for one thing, no bailout bag – I’m already where I’d be bailing out to).

    The Mad Max or Resident Evil future hits, we’re all in deep kimchee. A Nork EMP burst over the west coast or more mundanely a superstorm knocking out the grid for a month? That’s something a reasonably prepared individual or family can deal with.

  13. Right_2_Bear says:

    When I think of a castle siege, I think of many outside below trying to scale or breach the structure. So sure rifles are great, but I think a Rem. 870 or two would be a must have.

  14. LLedslinger says:

    I liked Doomsday Preppers but NGC seems to do their best to make Preppers look as crazy as possible. I don’t know if its because hey don’t like Preppers or if the normal Prepper is just not interesting enough. It might be the later since so many shows that are on are full on very strange people.