It's easy to be an investor when the market's rallying. It's hard to miss on rising stocks when bullish waters are lifting even the ships that aren't all that seaworthy. What happens when the market crashes? 

It's inevitable. The market is going to prove mortal at some point. Target (NYSE:TGT), Chewy (NYSE:CHWY), and Axon Enterprise (NASDAQ:AAXN) are three stocks built to last the next market crash, making them smart names to buy now.

A guy with an open suitcase as money flies out.

Image source: Getty Images.

Target

It may seem odd to recommend a retailer at the onset of a market crash. If share prices are plummeting, it's fair to suggest that consumer confidence will follow. Folks won't be doing a lot of retail shopping, but Target should be one of the rare winners at the strip mall. 

Target has proved its all-weather appeal this year. It thrived during the early stages of the pandemic as folks flocked to the mass market retailer for groceries and other essentials. It's speeding past the competition now that consumers are shopping again. Comps rose a blistering 20.7% in its latest quarter, fueled by healthy in-store traffic but mostly a 155% surge in digital sales on the strength of e-commerce and online ordering for in-store and curbside pick-up requests. Adjusted earnings more than doubled. 

The "cheap chic" retailer knows how to win when there's blood in the streets. Giving shoppers more bang for the buck makes Target appealing for affluent customers that trade down when money's tight. We're seeing how well it's doing now when everyone's starting to leave the home and go shopping again. Draw up any scenario, and it's hard to envision one in which Target doesn't come out on top. 

A pair of dogs wearing shades living their best life at a dog park with chew toys.

Image source: Getty Images.

Chewy

It's not a dog's life for Chewy shareholders. The online retailer of pet food and other pet supplies has more than quadrupled since going public at $22 early last year. Revenue growth is accelerating in the COVID-19 calamity. Chewy saw its top line go from an impressive 37% growth in fiscal 2019 to a 46% surge through the first three quarters of fiscal 2020. Analysts need a longer leash, as they've underestimates Chewy's revenue in six consecutive quarters.

Pet adoptions are on the rise in the pandemic, and we're not going to cut our furry friends loose when the market decides to roll over and play dead. A generation ago, we wouldn't dream of leaning on an e-commerce platform to keep our pets fed, medicated, and active, but Chewy is resonating with new pet owners -- and those young pups and kittens are going to be customers for a long time. 

A uniformed police officer talking to a woman while wearing an Axon body camera.

Image source: Axon Enterprise.

Axon Enterprise 

There's a gritty downside to a market crash beyond the initial downticks. Public companies find it harder to raise money by selling stock, private companies can't go public, and portfolio hits to the middle and upper classes eventually mean that companies scale back on their head counts. That's where poverty and unemployment start to climb.

Crime is a byproduct of a gloom-and-doom scenario, and Axon is there providing cops with less-than-lethal weaponry in the form of its iconic Taser stun guns. The bigger part of the Axon story these days is the namesake line of wearable body cameras that are critical in weeding out bad players among police officers while also providing evidence when crimes are committed. Axon's Evidence.com also offers the leading cloud-based platform for collecting recorded body cam footage. 

This has already been a good year for Axon, with steady year-over-year growth that has hovered around 27% through each of the past three quarters. A generation ago, investors would flock to gun manufacturers in times of criminal upheaval and unrest, but Axon is the smarter play now. 

The good days never last forever on Wall Street. When equities crash -- more than just a routine stock market correction -- you're going to want to be invested in names that can stomach the swift downturn. Target, Chewy, and Axon Enterprise are three stocks you can buy ahead of the next market crash.