Do You Need A Personal Defense Weapon?

Do You Need A Personal Defense Weapon?
Do You Need A Personal Defense Weapon?

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The Personal Defense Weapon or PDW was created by the gun manufacturers for us to have in our arsenal but do you really need one or do we just just want one?

The sub-machine gun is the closest cousin to the PDW with the main difference between the two being that the sub-machine gun fires a 9mm pistol round and the PDW fires a proprietary armor-piercing round. This PDW class of weapons has evolved into a gun that sits between the pistol and the carbine.


The market for Personal Defense Weapons hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.  With the evolution of Short Barrel Rifles (SBRs) or carbines with shorter barrels the need for the PDW dropped considerably. During the late 1980s PDWs were developed for troops who were confined to tight areas  needing a weapon that could engage enemy body armor.

The PDW was the perfect weapon for drivers of all military vehicles.  in the world of Executive Protection it also has a place as a weapon to be easily concealed under coat and bring firepower to the fight if needed.


I believe the PDW is often overlooked in a survival scenario. They are low recoil, light weight, super high capacity magazines and are a perfect mix between the power of a rifle and the conceal-ability of a pistol.  Can you hunt with one?  It is not ideal but it is possible.  In a survival scenario there is a good chance you will have to move locations and when you do you will mostly likely be in your car or truck. With experience you know it is painful at best to fire a rifle or shotgun from a car.

Pistols are fairly easy to master in a car but you might be bringing a pistol to rifle fight. This is where the PDW shines; it’s the perfect weapon for driving when the SHTF.  In addition it looks good under a trench coat (See movie – The Matrix).  PDW’s make the  perfect convoy weapon with some carrying up to 50 rounds in a single magazine (FN P90) and very compact.

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What gives the PDW a distinct advantage over a rifle is it’s ability to be stowed under a coat or in bag . The PDW is the perfect tool for situations when you are traveling where you want to keep a low profile and not be bothered.  With a PDW you will have the element of surprise and sustainable firepower to back you up if someone picks a fight.  a PDW’s small size might come in handy with limited space in your bug out vehicle.

The Problem 

MP9 Submachine Gun PDW

The round itself is a major flaw with the PDW is.  When TSHTF Personal Defense Weapon rounds will be harder to find than a needle in a haystack.  Depending on the manufacturer PDW rounds are all different  and costly. you can pretty much toss the weapon aside once you finish your supply of ammunition because the chance of finding more ammunition for your particular PDW will not be very likely.  Also,  they will not be ideal for hunting or any engagement over 200 yards because they are under powered carbine rounds.

Is there a place for a PDW in TEOTWAWKI?

The short answer is “No”, the long answer is “Yes”.  The first concern would be your budget, if you only have enough money for a rifle or a pistol, then I would start with a AR-15 or a 12 Gauge Shotgun or if you are going the pistol route, a Glock 17.  For your main SHTF weapon I would look at accessories, spare parts, and ammunition as a guide for what you should purchase.  The ammunition and spare parts and will be a considerable problem for the PDW in a pinch.

The Answer 


The PDW is an excellent alternative with it’s low recoil, high capacity magazines, lethal self-defense rounds, ease of use and maintenance if you have teenage kids, are someone with limited gun experience, you are a smaller frame person, or have a disability that effects your upper body strength.

If you have good upper body strength and have experience with a gun then a full size rifle or shotgun might make better sense for you from a physical stand point.

Another consideration for WTSHTF is if you plan to travel 40 miles or more to your bug out location and you have the budget for extra firepower then the PDW might be the perfect bug out buddy for you in the front seat.  A convoy is the PDW’s best use with high capacity magazines and the ability to shoot through car windows.


  • Concealable
  • Light weight and easy to operate
  • High capacity magazines
  • Low recoil


  • Proprietary ammunition
  • Expensive
  • Under powered ammunition
  • Difficult to find spare parts


Notable PDW’s:
HK MP7 (German)
FN P90 (Belgium)
PP-2000 (Russian)
Knight’s Armament PDW (United States)

PDW Cartridges


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About the Author

D. Evans
Richard is thrilled to share what he learns with the Urban Survival Guide community, and endeavors to ensure that every potential “prepper” has all of the information they need to be “ready” with confidence in this highly volatile and unpredictable world.

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