Larry Case: Ma and Pa were prepared; you should be, too

Bryce Towsley's new book takes a prospective "prepper" through a wide range of options for guns to be used after a man-made or natural disaster, including weapons for protection as well as hunting.

"I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best." - Benjamin Disraeli

Think about how much the world has changed the past 50 years. Aside from obvious differences like the rise in prices for gas, eggs and milk, the world and life in it had little resemblance to today.

Many of your grandparents did not think they lived on a "farm," but they raised a garden, perhaps had a cow and a pig (or two) and probably had a little building out back called a root cellar. This ingenious dugout structure kept canned goods cool in summer and guarded them from freezing in winter.

Ma and Pa (the ones you believed were woefully unhip when you were a kid) grew or raised most of what they ate, except for trips to the store for maybe coffee, sugar and flour. If he needed something, Pa often just made it himself. He certainly didn't run to Walmart every other day.

In short, Ma and Pa were very self-sufficient. Today's world is quite the opposite. Most of us are not very self-sufficient. We rely wholly on the grocery and convenience stores to be open, and if the power goes off for more than 30 minutes, we hit the panic button.

Not that long ago, we called people who tried to be prepared for any impending doom a survivalist. Now the term is "prepper."

It's no secret that a lot more people are taking being prepared for a man-made or natural disaster seriously. Time was when a prepper was thought of as the crazy guy (usually looking like the Unabomber) who lived on the mountain with piles of food, water and ammo stacked up in his basement.

Besides the obvious requirements of food, water and shelter, there is another need which many take just as seriously, and that is protection. This is the part of the conversation that may draw a snicker of disdain from those who don't buy into the prepper mentality. They can laugh, but they may be the first ones at your door when the shelves are bare at Food Lion.

The point is this: If you have food and water to survive and someone wants to take it away from you, what are you going to do? I believe some people scoff at this concept because they don't like to think about the possibility of needing a weapon to protect their life and property, but to protect you and your family in a crisis, we are talking about firearms.

This calls for some expert advice. Bryce M. Towsley ( is an award-winning writer and photographer whose work covers a wide diversity of subjects, but none more than hunting and firearms.

Towsley published his first article in 1980, and since then he has published thousands of articles and photos in most of the major outdoors and gun magazines. He also has produced five books on guns, gunsmithing and hunting while contributing to other books, including several on hand-loading.

Towsley is a field editor for NRA's American Rifleman, American Hunter and Shooting Illustrated magazines, as well as a columnist for Gun Digest. He appears regularly on the "American Rifleman" TV show. He also has worked as a consultant for several gun companies, written technical manuals on firearms and has hunted over a good portion of planet Earth.

In short, Bryce Towsley has forgotten more about guns and ammo than most of us will ever know, and that includes your uncle Ed.

Bryce's latest book, "Prepper Guns: Firearms, Ammo, Tools, and Techniques You Will Need to Survive the Coming Collapse," ( is a study of this subject that leaves no stone unturned. I would say this is almost an exhaustive study if it weren't so interesting. Even if you aren't trying to become a better "prepper," if you're interested in firearms, you are going to want this book.

Towsley takes us through the gamut facing someone looking for the best prepper gun. He tells you what is the best firearm for various situations and why. As the inside cover states, the book is intended for the law-abiding civilian who wants to survive, not only with guns for defense but for foraging as well.

It's all here, from the scout rifle (with its roots coming from Col. Jeff Cooper and Gunsite Academy) to different makes of handguns - including the famous Glock pistols - and shotguns. Oh yeah, lots about shotguns. You know I wouldn't be talking about this book if it didn't cover shotguns.

Towsley uses many interesting anecdotes in this book. It's not just dry gun specs and numbers. In the shotgun chapter, he joins with Jim Wilson, a fellow gun writer and a former sheriff from Texas. The two take opposite sides on the eternal semiautomatic versus pump shotgun debate; you need to tune in for that one.

We all have preppers in our background, you just didn't know it. Grandpa most likely had a Model 97 or Model 12 shotgun behind the kitchen door, and it served him well.

We may never be as self-sufficient as our grandparents, but we can be better armed and informed on firearms. Give "Prepper Guns" a look.

"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va., has been a devoted outdoorsman all of his life and is a contributing columnist for The Times Free Press. You can write to him at