build armory less than 1500

Building a Complete Armory for Less Than $1,500

Say that you want to build a complete survival armory of guns, but only have $1,500 to spend.  Is it really possible to purchase all of the guns you need and higher quality versions of those guns for that amount of money?

Definitely.  In fact, it’s perfectly feasible to purchase the top five guns you need in your arsenal for just $1,500.


While there is much debate as to what the top five most important guns to own are, the general consensus has settled upon these categories as being the most critical and versatile.

.22 Semi-Automatic Rifle

No gun collection is complete without a .22 rifle of some kind.  It’s as simple as that.  Even if it’s underpowered for big game hunting or self-defense use, the .22 works wonders for pest control, small game hunting, target shooting, and introducing new people to the sport of shooting.  Since .22 ammo is so small, you can pack lots of it on you, and the recoil and noise is substantially less than other calibers.

12 Gauge Shotgun

With a 12 gauge shotgun, you can go big game hunting with slugs, bird hunting or clay shooting with birdshot, or use it as a devastating close range home defense weapon with buckshot.  The best type to get will be a pump action (as it’s more reliable than a semi-automatic) and one with interchangeable barrels: a long barrel for hunting, and a short one for defense.

9mm Pistol

The benefit to owning a pistol is that you can conceal it on your person or always have it strapped to your side when it would be inconvenient to sling a long gun over your back. You should also select a semi-automatic over a revolver just because it holds more rounds and has a faster reloading time. Since you’re on a budget, 9mm may be the best caliber to choose as it’s cheap and plentiful.

Defensive Rifle

Any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable box magazine that fires an intermediate cartridge like 5.56x45mm NATO or 7.62x39mm will work well as a defensive rifle. You have greater round count and range than any of the previous three weapons, with more stopping power than a pistol and less recoil than a shotgun.

Hunting Rifle

Finally, you’ll need some sort of a long range rifle that fires a heavier bullet to top off your arsenal.  This rifle needs to be able to drop big game at long distances, while being able to be used as a long range anti-personnel weapon.  The best calibers to choose are .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield, simply because they are very common and relatively inexpensive.

That may sound like a lot of guns, which is why it’s understandable if you initially don’t believe that you could acquire all of them for $1,500.  However, you’ll soon find out that it’s possible.


We’re going to cap off the .22 rifle at $175.  The best model to buy in this price range will be the Marlin Model 60 (the Ruger 10/22 tends to be a tad more).

The Marlin Model 60 is one of the most popular and easily customizable .22 rifles on the planet. It feeds from a tube magazine that runs underneath the barrel and holds 14 or 17 rounds of ammunition, depending on the version that you choose.

The Marlin 60 has proven itself to be a reliable, accurate, and durable .22 rifle at an affordable price. While it’s a little heavy for a .22 at five and a half pounds, this simply gives the rifle a very solid feel and enhances the overall build quality.

Many feel it may be better to go ahead and spend the extra $25 on the Ruger. The Ruger is a hardier gun that is like a tinker toy that can be built in many configurations to suit your needs.


For this budget, plan on setting aside $200 for a dependable pump action shotgun.  In this price range, the best new shotgun will easily be the Maverick 88, a lower cost version of the omnipresent and respectable Mossberg 500. While you could probably purchase a used 500 or Remington 870 for this price range, it would be wiser to purchase a new firearm as you know its history.

The Maverick 88 does not come with all of the same features as the Mossberg 500. The ambidextrous tang safety is located behind the receiver. The overall build quality is almost is just as good.  Keep in mind, the 500 is the only shotgun to pass the U.S Army’s pump action shotgun torture test (check out the .pdf here on that, so even by spending $200 on a budget version you’re still receiving an excellent value.

When shopping for a Maverick 88, choose the 6+1 model. You can interchange between the long and short barrels as we discussed before.  The 8+1 model is incapable of mounting a longer barrel.  While you’re sacrificing two rounds in the gun, the trade off is you’ll have a shotgun that is more versatile and it is almost like buying two guns in one.

This video puts a shotgun through its paces:


The good news is that in recent years many major manufacturers of expensive firearms have been manufacturing more economic models.  The SD9 from Smith & Wesson is just one example. You can easily find these for around the $250 range.

The SD9 is essentially an updated version of Smith & Wesson’s previous Sigma pistol. While the Sigma received pretty negative reviews overall, the SD9 is a far superior weapon and is built to many of the same specifications as the highly regarded Smith & Wesson’s flagship M&P pistol line.

The biggest fault in the SD9 is the trigger pull. It’s nothing that you can’t fix, as there are many aftermarket triggers and accessories for the SD9 available that can bring it down to a pull that is lighter and crisper.

For $250, you’re getting a lot of gun with the SD9 for the money, and the fact that you’re purchasing Smith & Wesson’s quality should make you feel comfortable.  Another example of a pistol that you could buy for this price range as well would be the Taurus Millennium PT111 G2.


The most money you should spend in your budget will need to be on a defensive rifle.  These days, semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 are just not that cheap, but basic versions from a variety of manufacturers do exist for around $550.

One such example is the Ruger AR-556, which in the time since it was released in 2009 and shown itself to be a very reliable rifle for the money.  It comes with many of the same features as a more expensive AR-15, such as a dust cover or a forward assist.

Since it’s an AR-15, the AR-556 is endlessly customizable, and you can literally transform yours into a rifle that is completely custom from the one you would lift out of the box.  Other examples of AR-15s that you could purchase for $550 include the Del-Ton or the Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II.

Selecting ammo for home defense for the AR-15:


We are now left to spend $325 on our hunting rifle, and there are a number of bolt action rifles on the market that you could purchase for this price range.  One of the best will be the Mossberg Patriot.  This is a very simple bolt action rifle available in a variety of finishes, stock types, and calibers (again, go with .308 or .30-06 if you’re on a budget).

Combo models of the Patriot sell with a Vortex scope that is already attached to the rifle, so you won’t need to purchase one separately.  You’ll have to sight it in, but it’s still neat that you’re getting a scope with the rifle out of the box.

Other examples of bolt action rifles that you could buy for around $325 include the Savage Axis II, Remington 770, and the Ruger American.

This is a good video on the Mossberg Patriot shooting elk and mule:


As you can see, it’s perfectly possible to build a complete survival armory with all the essential guns you need for just $1,500. A .22 rifle, 12 gauge shotgun, 9mm pistol, defensive rifle, and a hunting rifle are the five guns you need so that your armory can be truly complete, and the five models of guns that we have cited for the major categories all offer an excellent quality at an affordable price.

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About Nick Oetken

Nick Oetken

Nick Oetken is a prepper, outdoor enthusiast but, most of all, he is our in-house firearms expert. Look out for his articles on guns to find out which ones you need for your survival.

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