I picked up these recently. I've always been partial to the AR-15 Platform. I've carried one since entering basic training when I was 17 and just graduated. I carried an AR and an MP5 on CRT. I'm only recently getting back in to the M1911. I've carried a Glock for work for more than 16 years. I like the M1911 a bit more because I can work on them myself and there are so many out there and the parts are interchangeable with little or no gunsmithing.
The AR platform would have been next on my list, but there are a couple reasons why I would prefer the Mini-14. I read an article in a popular gun magazine (I forget which one) which talked about speed and accuracy from a relaxed position where the shooter is presumably walking or standing with the rifle pointed down (I forget technical term for that stance). In order to maximize speed and accuracy, the author explained that you want your barrel to be in line with your shooting hand, or as close to it as possible, which is the main reason I'd shy away from rifles with pistol grips. I did a quick test of this concept using a .22 rifle that i have two stocks for, one with a pistol grip and one without. The difference was pretty clear to me. But i suppose if you've trained with the AR platform, you might not see much of a difference. I wouldn't know, I've never been in the military.
On my C8 at work I have a multi position vertical grip, I find that if my the grip is turned out to the side about 15 deg then my position and hold is much more natural than if I had a completely vertical grip, or hand on the fore stock.
I use what we call 'shoot to live' or 'fighters stance' when I do any shooting. Butt stock is centered on the chest more, elbows tucked into the sides and my kevlar plates are always straight to the enemy. Any forward grip makes this type of shooting much easier even at ranges up to 300m.
The reason i went with the Mini-14 was strictly because of the simplicity of it.( also it was more in my price range xD) But then again you can easily modify the Mini to become a AR in disguise with the fusion style tactical stocks. But at the cost after the accessories your better off just buying an AR.
All you need to strip it down for any reason, is a screw driver, really anything you can use as a lever, for everything else snaps off. That's probly its biggest pro, even a 5yr old could strip this sucker.
And for a secondary weapon, I'd have to go with a revolver, preferably single action, and not any outrageous cal. maybe a .45 as being most popular.
I paid under $700 for my AR USED. It was rarely used. I've put a couple bucks in to it since. You can also build one yourself for under $700 NEW. You just have to shop around and find the deals on parts. A lot of times it's easier to buy a kit in which you get everything but the lower receiver but you will likely have to wait several months. Watch sites like Brownell's, Centerfire Systems, SARCO, Midway USA and so many other sites. They often have specials on uppers and lowers. There are always deals on barrels and triggers groups. You'd be surprised what you can find at gun shows. REALLY SURPRISED. Nothing illegal just good deals.
If anyone would like information on different sites to skim send a message to my email.
The AR-15 platform is a good one because the .223 round is prolific, and the rifle is as well. Parts and ammo (although expensive right now) are plentiful. The biggest part about choosing a gun is the same as choosing a car- how easy is it to fix, or fuel? I own a 1992 Roadmaster. The parts for this car are interchangeable with any chevy caprice, cadillac brougham, or, most importantly, most chevy / gmc 1500 trucks out there. I hear a lot of guys talk about the coolest gun out there. They are all stumped when I ask them, "How easy is it to get parts?" "How easy is it to fix?"
So, here are my ideas for good weapons: Remington 870 shotguns (the most prolific shotgun in the world, and most of the 10,000,000 sold were sold right here.)
AK 47 in various variants: The AK is the most prolific firearm in the history of the world (over 50 million made, and counting).
In America, the Glock 17 and Glock 22 come to mind. The 17 is very popular among the civilian population, and the 22 is the most issued handgun in USA's law enforcement community.
Last, but not least, is the Ruger 10-22. These little buggers are everywhere. They don't cost much, they work well, and they are cheap to feed (22lr).
I would throw in the AR 15 and 1911. With the use of our military over the years and the trickle that has become a flood into the civilian market you can find parts anywhere. Right now every major pistol manufacturer and quite a few fringe ones are making a 1911 in some form or fashion. There are custom shops all over the place. It's a gun that's been around for more then 100 years. it was patented in 1908 and put in to service by the US Military in 1911. The AR-15 hasn't been around as long but has just as prolific a history. It is the main battle gun for many militaries aside from the US. It is made my more manufacturers then I can name. The parts from both guns are interchangeable with their clones. Some drop right in and some with very little smithing.
AKs rock. Leave them in an ice block for a month break the ice away then shoot it. They can be had in .223 in civilian rifle and shotgun versions also. Beretta 92 is another very prolific gun that hase been cloned and copied. The 9mm is equal to the 45acp in use around the world and in history. When it comes to guns and rounds we have many choices. It all depends on what you know best.