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The 5 Very Best Survival Guns

The 5 Very Best Guns For SurvivalBefore I begin this list, I have to make a disclaimer. I am a gun guy. I like AK-47s, AR-15s, M1As, and just about anything that will take a BIG magazine and send lots of hot lead down range as fast as I can pull the trigger.

I like tactical toys like chest rigs with a gazillion magazine pouches riding over a plate carrier, I like ‘em with an integrated pistol belt that holds a large frame semi-automatic pistol and even more magazine pouches. I like these things a lot, and I can envision a time when all of this might come in handy, but for the moment it’s just FUN!

I sometimes get frustrated with the “Totally Tactical” Survivalists. You know the ones. They spend all their prepping/survival time and money on guns, ammo and paramilitary gear and treat food, water and self-sufficiency as a distant second. Make no mistake folks: Your first priority for preps should be securing your food and water supply, making your home capable of sustaining you and yours through whatever may come. If you haven’t covered these bases, you really don’t have anything to defend.

However, there are some guns that should come fairly early on in your preparedness journey, and that is today’s topic.

Long Guns

1. Shotgun

The first weapon I always recommend is a good shotgun. With the wide range of loads available the shotgun is probably the most versatile hunting weapon ever devised. With a good shotgun you can hunt pigeons, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, deer and wild boar. You can also take opossums, raccoons, fox, and coyotes that may threaten your livestock. It is also effective against crows, gophers and all manner of critters that might get into your garden or orchard. Finally, the shotgun is an incredibly formidable home defense weapon.

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Shotguns come in several forms, but for my money the pump action is by far the best choice. Pump guns are rugged and reliable, simple to operate, and easy to learn and teach. There is nothing wrong with any of the other types. Semi-autos, single shots, and double barrels are all fantastic weapons in their own right but the pump gun is the whole package where shotguns are concerned. I like the Mossberg 500 series, and have had good luck with its slightly less expensive cousin the Maverick 88. The Remington 870 is another time-honored choice in this realm. I prefer the 12 gauge models, but am not opposed to T20 gauge for smaller shooters.

One of the things that I like most about a lot of the pump guns is that it is very easy to change barrels. In order to make the most of your pump action shotgun you should have at least two barrels for it. The first one should be a field barrel, preferably with multiple choke tubes for different tasks and conditions. This one is your hunting and varmint control barrel. For this purpose, I use a 28-inch ventilated rib barrel with an “accuchoke” system. Your second barrel should be a shorter, more tactical barrel in the 18-20 inch range. This one is for home defense purposes; it is quicker handling in tight quarters and gives a wider shot spread at short ranges. This configuration gives you two guns for the price of one. If you choose to go further you can pick up specialty barrels for things like turkey hunting, and even rifled barrels to optimize shooting with slugs.

The pump action shotgun is truly a workhorse, and if I could have only one long gun it would probably be my first choice.

2. Rimfire Rifle

The .22 caliber rifle is another great workhorse. For starters, the ammo is very compact so you can carry or store an awful lot of it in a very small space. Things have been a little weird where .22 ammo is concerned lately, but under normal circumstances it is cheap and abundant.

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The 5 Best Survival Guns

Image source: EBRSO

A good .22 will put rabbits and squirrels in the pot, will take out moles in the garden, is more than enough for most chicken coup raiders, and is a great learning and practice tool for shooters of all skill levels. It is also an underestimated defensive round, and will put down attackers quite well with good shot placement which you will be able to master with all the practice you are going to do! Training and practice are the keys to most things, and for this reason if you are new to shooting a good .22 might be your best choice for a first gun.

You can choose your platform on this one. One of my favorite .22 rifles is the Marlin Glenfield bolt gun I got back in 1980-something when I was 11. This gun has served me well for more than 3 decades and shows no signs of giving out. Aside from this one, I like Ruger 10/22s. I know this sounds like a broken record time, but this little .22 semi-auto is DA BOMB! If I could disagree with other gun writers I would but I can’t on this one. The 10/22 is a tough, reliable little rifle with a lot of accessories and upgrades available. It is also fairly affordable and in my estimation this choice would not ever be a disappointment.

3. Centerfire Rifle

The next long gun you should look into is a good centerfire rifle in a caliber capable of taking the largest game in your area. You will have to make your choice based on a number of factors. First, what game will you be hunting? Next, are there any regional or local favorite calibers, assuring the availability of ammunition? And then a range of personal preference and budget considerations. Generally speaking, the .308 and the 30-06 are very good choices. Both will put down anything that occurs naturally on the North American continent. The .308 has the advantage of being a current NATO round, which makes surplus ammo available and assures that in a true meltdown there will likely be ammo around. Other calibers, however, will do the job as well.

There are so many good rifles out there that it is hard to pick one to recommend. One of my current favorites in the bolt gun category is the Ruger American, which is tough, reliable, fairly economical, and chambered in a number of excellent calibers. If you lean towards semis, and have a bigger budget, I highly recommend the M1A. I know a lot of hunters will tell you it is bulky and heavy, but these are a couple features that add to this rifle. The thing is a rock and can pour out a large volume of very accurate fire from its 20-round magazine, and remains an excellent battle rifle as well as a good deer rifle. The M1A was the last of the “Rifleman’s Rifles,” bridging the gap between the Garand and the “Black Guns” of today.

One more suggestion for your consideration is the Mosin Nagant. We have a couple of these in my house and they are a fabulous rifle. They are as tough and reliable as you can get. They are accurate, they have plenty of knock down power, ammo is cheap, and so are the rifles themselves. The Nagant rifles are easily modernized and sporterized, and make a great addition to your gun safe.

Your centerfire rifle will do double duty as your long-range defensive weapon. To misquote the infamous Gabe Suarez, rifles are good for projecting your will across a distance while pistols are ideal for controlling your immediate surroundings in unforeseen or only vaguely foreseen situations. More clearly stated, rifles are deliberate, pistols are spur-of-the-moment. Which brings us to handguns.


4. Defensive Handgun

This is a very broad range of weapons. What you want in a defensive handgun is something powerful enough to put down an attacker with the first hit, is comfortable to carry all day, is comfortable for you to shoot under any circumstances, and is reliable to a T. There are a lot of weapons that fit the bill.

In semi-automatics, the most popular calibers are the 9mm, the .40 S&W, and the .45 ACP. All are good choices. I prefer the 9mm for its larger magazine capacity. I tend to carry a full-size pistol at all times, whether open or concealed, and my weapon of choice is a Taurus PT92 or an M9. Why? It is what I like and it will always get the job done. Is it the only choice? NO. A lot of personal preference will go into your choice!

Revolvers are another option, and again there are too many good choices to cover here. My recommendation is for something in a .357 magnum with a four inch barrel. Revolvers are a good choice for inexperienced shooters since they are a rather intuitive weapon to operate. They are also very reliable and do not require the buying of spare magazines. If you live in Grizzly Bear country, you might want to move up to a .44 magnum.

Your handgun, whatever you choose, should be your constant companion. This is the weapon that you can have at your side when a rifle or shotgun is impractical.

5. .22 Pistol

It may surprise you to know that the .22 pistol is my top choice for survival handgun. I like them because they can provide a lot of small game for food, are useful for personal defense in a pinch, are great for getting varmints out of the garden, coup or orchard, and because you can carry a whole lot of ammo. The .22 pistol is also great for cheap shooting practice. On our homestead, I am as likely to have a .22 pistol on me at any given time as anything else. This is especially true during gardening season when there is a lot of work that keeps my hands too busy for a rifle, but a lot of critters trying to get at the food I am growing.

Here, again, you will be forced to make decisions. Good .22 pistols come in both the semi-automatic and the revolver format. My two favorite .22 pistols are an old target model Ruger Mark 1, and an almost as old Taurus revolver. Both have 5 ½ inch barrels and target sights, and both are deadly on small game at surprising ranges. I recommend that accuracy be a primary consideration in your .22 handgun, target barrels and good sites are a must. Other than that, personal choice!

Once you have this assortment of weapons and have become proficient with them you can start looking for the more exotic types. But, the truth of the matter is that the small collection I have listed will more than likely be more than enough to see you through all but the most dire survival situation.

What would you add to or delete from this list? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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  1. What is a good recommendation for a pistol for a women to carry. Especially for protection from a grizzly bear.

    • A .357 Magnum would be the Bear minimum (I spelled it that way on purpose!), but something in a .44 magnum or even a .45 Colt with (available!) Bear Loads. If you read further down in the comments, TPSnodgrass makes some very good points. A good SAA often seems to fit well in smaller hands for a heavy caliber revolver, but single actions require a bit more practice to become proficient.

    • While anything is better than nothing, no one up here considers a 357 a “bear” round. Bear defense starts at 44 Magnum. 45 Long Colt and 454 are popular for obvious reasons. Double action revolvers are almost universally preferred. Ammo type is important. Don’t use hollow point “defensive” type bullets; they won’t penetrate to a bear’s vitals. Use cast lead, wide, flat bullets, such as HSM Bear Rounds or Buffalo Bore in the heaviest bullet weight you can find. Another option for bear defense is bear spray. Before you all laugh, US Fish & Wildlife did a study comparing actual use of bear spray and actual use of firearms (of all types) on bears, and in every case the bear spray actually worked better. Titled “Spray vs Bullets” if you google the search term “us fish and wildlife bear spray study”, it will be the top result. That is just food for thought, I live in Alaska, and I carry bear spray and a 44 rifle.

      • Sounds like good advice. I have never lived around Griz, just blacks. The recommended deterrent for black bears is a tambourine and a party horn, Browns are a whole different critter from what I hear!

      • Buffalo Bore Heavy .357 Magnum Ammo – 180 gr. Hard Cast = 1,400fps/M.E. 783 ft. lbs. – even better from a 6 in. barrel. A 30 cal. rifle would be better, of course.

    • can you REALLY shoot a pistol? I mean, can you toss up a couple of soda cans and hit both in midair, on a regular basis? If not, just use that pistol on yourself if you are charged by a grizzly, and save yourself the misery of being mauled. Cause you gotta hit the BRAIN, in order to stop an attack, (usually) chest hits dont stop animals for 4-5 seconds, at the least, and bears charge at 50 fps, feet per second. it he’s close enough for a pistol to do you any good (ie, 30 ft) you’re only going to get off a shot or 2 before he’s upon you.

      • A .44 Auto Mag or .44 Desert Eagle or .454 Casull with the proper loads would prove you severely wrong.

      • I’ve seen a lot of articles that talk about head or heart shots on large game and two legged predators. From experience; which includes two tours in Vietnam and over 40 years of hunting, nothing puts down a large animal quicker than a severed spine. Accuracy counts for much more than caliber.

    • Do you mean a Grizzly Bear? Or, do you mean a human predator?

      No matter what … the largest you can safely handle is the largest you can handle. If you flinch while using the gun (pistol, rifle, or shotgun) then it is probably too big for you. Practice with a smaller gun, and come back to it and see if you can shoot without flinching.

      For a woman, a human predator is usually best met by a revolver in the .357 type using .38 ammo for the first 2 rounds.

      The best all around gun is always a pump 12 ga. Without a choke. Use slugs on bears. Even consider sub caliber type rounds. Standard slugs are about 1 oz, about the same as the .50 US Army round – big.

      For a Grizzly Bear, the absolute largest gun you can consistently hit the target with. For sourdoughs that is usually .44 and above in a handgun – easy to handle if you are taught correctly. In a rifle, 30-06 is usually considered the minimum. Although, some Alaskans are opting for lever rifles in the same caliber as their handgun.

      Hollow point ammo helps smaller ammo kill larger animals. But, it also under penetrates when you need penetration the most.

      I recommend solids for that reason. Hollow points only in rifles ….

      Hope that helps.


    • If I was in grizzly country I’d carry my remington 870 with slug barrel and 1 oz slugs or winchester pdx1, a .357 revolver, .357 sig or 10mm semi auto and bear spray.
      Also consider .454 or .45-70

  2. I agree with the pump action shot gun for home defense. Just the sound of chambering the round is intimidating. This year I purchased the Mossberg 590A1 with the bayonet attachment. Talk about intimidating! It makes a person think twice about trying to charge you while reloading. I was considering a smaller .22cal firearm for small game hunting close to home. But I don’t live in a rural area. And neighbor gun fire would be a problem.

    Then I discovered air guns! I recently purchased the Benjamin Marauder Woods Walker .22cal. BOY IT IS QUIET! I was amazed! It’s rated at 98dB. I have been target practicing with the neighborhood rats without attracting attention. It’s fire power is rated at 700 ft./sec (650fps typical), and 13.1 ft./lbs. It comes with an interchangeable stock. Can be configured as a pistol or carbine. As a pistol it’s small enough to put in my backpack. And I believe pellets are more plentiful, transportable and cheaper for small game hunting. A can of 500 pellets for $9.95? I can hunt a lot of rabbits with 500 rounds! I think air guns have a place in the survivalist’s arsenal.
    I enjoy reading every issue!

    • Add a Mini 14 to your battery. It is reliable, and is easy to shoot one handed if necessary

    • I agree completely on the airgun suggestion. I thought about it about 5 minutes after submitting this article. Airguns are great for doing a bit of hunting without drawing attention. Not drawing attention is always a key element in a survival setting, and you especially don’t want to announce that you just bagged a rabbit when there are starving people around!

    • The sound of racking a round into a pump shotgun also reveals your exact location to any bad guys in the area. Firing any long gun and most pistols indoors takes away your hearing. Keep a set of Tactical Ear Protectors with a sawed off double. This gun can be reloaded absolutely silently. Fire fights are not won by who shoots the most or fastest in the vast majority of cases. Putting lead on target while not revealing and endangering yourself is the skill set to desire.

    • Lewis and Clark carried an air gun with them on their expedition. they were able to take down deer with it. I think it was one that you could pump up. The caliber was a .46 ball. You could pump it up and have multiple shots. Many pumps like 1500.

  3. Excellent article! I agree on all points, especially on the Nagant. 7.62 ammo & the rifle is CHEAP @ 100 bucks.. By the way, that gizmo that sits on top of your weapon is a sight, not a site. 🙂

    • Spell Checker Strikes again. I won’t even go into some of the things the autocorect on my android has done! You are of course correct, and I will begin the process of beating my computer into submission!

      Thanks for reading!

  4. I am in agreement with the recommendations in this article. I am extremely fond of my Moisin-Nagant that has been sporterized, it’s accurate, effective on anything in North America, and I actually enjoy shooting it.
    Note to Mona:
    As I have never had to be concerned about being on foot in grizzly country, I have no idea what would be a good hand gun for “protection” from grizzly bears. I would strongly suggest that you contact your local NRA chapter, and get some referrals from them, as they would be more likely to have expertise in that arena.
    As always, anyone shopping for any handgun, how it FITS, your hand alone, is the single best criteria to use when choosing a handgun for protection. I would suggest that we are far more likely to encounter two legged predators in the wilderness areas than four legged. Hope this helps.

  5. I started my comment by listing what guns I had and what they could be used for, especially any that could serve more than one function. But as my list grew, I got paranoid thinking big brother might be looking in on here, so suffice it to say. I will get by.

    • Tell me about it! I had to wrestle with doing this type of writing for the same reason. Guess I’m on the watch list now.

      Think it would make it worse if I called my CCW ministry “Guns for God”? Whoops, now that’s out there too!!

      I liked it better when we lived in America!

  6. every one seems to have over looked the bow or more to the point a cross bow very very quite and the bolts are cheap i live in a apt complex and i can go out side here and do some practice with out haven to worry about some one getting shot or the cops comeing to give me hard time i have two of them a hand held one and a rifle type the hand held is rated at 80 lbs while the rifle one is rated at 150 lbs yes i know there single shot and may take a min or two to reload but if your good enough you really only need 1 shot

    • Mike R. I agree with the cross bow. I live in the city. I actually have one in addition to my shotgun (home defense), and air gun (small game hunting). Most of the post here seem to focus on using the survival gun for home defense only. But when disaster like hurricanes hit & grocery stores have been stripped bare, having a means to hunt for food becomes just as important as home defense. I like the air gun for game hunting because if I miss, I’m not concerned with retrieving the round. 500 pellet rounds @ $9.95 is about 2 cents a pellet. Cheaper than replacing lost arrows. I have also seen You Tube videos showing the effectiveness of small game hunting with sling shots. I may give that a try. Pebbles/rocks are even cheaper than pellets!
      With governmental agencies buying up all the ammo, making some ammo scarce and others expensive, having alternative choices is always prudent. Even my local Walmart imposes a purchase limit on certain ammo. But you can buy all the pellets you want! There are even pellet rifles on the market that can even bring down deer and bear. Learned from watching You Tube hunting videos. So, there appears to be a place for the air gun in home defense as well.

      The final element I like about the air gun, compared to regular fire arms, is that I didn’t need to register to buy my air gun rifle like I did for my shot gun. With talks about possible government confiscation of guns, my air rifles don’t show up on any government registry.

  7. Here’s my take on the 5 bare minimum guns:

    1. Shotgun: 12 gauge always – from non-lethal rounds, to bird-shot, to 00 buck, to slugs, to flechette, to incendiary/explosive rounds…. definitely the best. Double barrels can be cut down in SHTF.

    2 & 3. Rifles: A) A long range scoped hunting rifle(becomes sniper rifle depending on the scenario).
    i. Mosin-Nagant- Cheap, caliber large enough to take down anything in North America, and super cheap ammo. Con- hard to scope.
    ii. 30-06- super common round, so common, that during the last ammo scare, it was the only thing still available
    B) Semi-auto sporting rifle/black gun (mislabled ‘assault rifle’)
    i. AK-47- cheap, most reliable and user-friendly gun on the planet. Described as a ‘peasant-gun’ because it is so simple, an illiterate 3-world revolutionary can pick it up and use it. Also, wide availability of ammo with decent penetration ability.
    ii. Whatever else you prefer: .223/5.56 or whatever, this could go on forever.

    4. Handgun: pretty much anything semi-auto and full-sized. 9mm is NATO issued and isn’t going anywhere; .40S&W is police and fed issued, so pretty safe; .45 is a real stopper, but limited rounds per mag; and at least a .357 mag revolver if nothing else, they can take any .38 round.

    5. .22lr RIFLE: A .22lr rifle/20 ga. combo is good for survival situations, for ground varmint and fowl, but a semi-auto .22 is most versatile for the four legged varmint or the two legged.

    There you go, all distances covered:

    Hunting rifle= Long range
    Semi-auto sporting ‘assault rifle’= Medium Range
    .22lr= Varmint/medium range
    12 ga shotgun= Close range
    Pistol = Too-close range.


  8. Good thinking here Pat. I heartily agree that a 12 gauge of some sort and a decent .22 should be standard home arms. Both will protect you and help feed a family. Spent some time in Alaska years ago. There really are some things up around there that will eat a person. At the time, issue arms for game officers in bear country [most of the state] was either a .458 magnum rifle or a 12 gauge short barrel shotgun, loaded with slugs and buckshot. Both were said to be well proven stoppers. The .30 calibers are time honored too. The ‘lil .22 has likely put more meat on the table and worked harder than all the others combined.

  9. Paul in Los Angeles

    I once asked my cousin – the late Bob Munden, look him up if you don’t know who he was – what he would choose as the “ultimate survival gun” and nearly without hesitation, he replied “Ruger 10/22” – When I asked him his reasons he said, “well, you have to remember, you’re asking ME, not a casual shooter or even a doomsday prepper. Remember I – unlike most – could shoot you directly in the eye with iron sights from 200+ yards, depending on conditions.” “Further, I could easily carry four hundred rounds of .22 in the pockets of my jeans. Practice, so that you can consistently nail 4″ 100 yard groups with your 10/22 and that Ruger and your M1 Super 90 is all you’ll need in an urban environment.”

    • Paul, saw Bob give a demo of his shooting skills here in Huntsville Alabama in the late eighties. What a wonderful show he put on. I am sorry for your loss, and I am glad to have seen and met him.

  10. Let’s not forget the Marlin .22s. 16 to18 rounds and if you are lucky enough to find an early 70s model they have longer barrels for more accuracy. I also have a shortened, but legal,10 gauge over under that totally eliminates anything in front of me for about fifty feet. I really do think your list of guns for surviving is exactly right and thanks for the info!

  11. .44 is my choice to carry when I don’t have my 12G over my shoulder such as when salmon fishing – the Grizzlies can be huge. But I also have a 10/22 under the back seat of my truck – not much left of a bunny or grouse if I didn’t have shot shells for the 44. The 22 is the meal maker, and the 44 stuffed with cast bullets for defense, even as limited as even that round can be. In AK my family has two center fire rifles – 338 and the 30-06. These choices may not be best in all areas or for all users, but in AK they seem to be a good balance and we don’t need so many powders and other loading gear. We seem to gravitate to what works best for us.

  12. AR-15
    Ruger 10/22
    30/30 lever action
    .12 gauge
    Glock 21

  13. you are 10,000x more likely to be seriously harmed by a dog (in the US) than by a bear. Source is ASPCA. Every year, 800,000 people in US are dogbitten badly enough to seek medical care. even in “bear country”, men are by far the more common and the more dangerous threat. You are extremely unlikely to successfully defend yourself vs a bear attack, with any shotgun or rifle, even (much less some pistol) because such attacks are by stealth, at night, or so sudden that you never get off a shot.

  14. A pocket 9mm is the best deal, unless it’s shtf. Then a silenced .22 takedown autorifle, like the Marlin Papoose, is by far the most likely gun to be of use to you,and far more useful than any LOUD gun. An AR15, in 223, with a silencer and a Ciener .22lr conversion unit would be better, but it’s about $1000 more money to get, and more expensive to build and retain skill with .

    The shotgun is FAR inferior to the silenced .22 rifle, actually, as a foraging device. the shotgun is pretty worthless as a fighting arm, vs men who are using cover, at more than about 25 yds of range.

    how do you get the looters or the animals to wait while you go back to camp and get the “right” gun? how to CARRY more than one longarm (and your pack and enough ammo to be worth having those guns? How to fire a gun that you aint got with you? so you gotta go with the most versatile ONE longarm. and maybe a couple of pistols. If you silence a .22lr conversion unit for the Sig P938 (made by SigArms or for the Ruger LC (made by twisted Industries) and if you are a fine shottist with a handgun, then maybe your AK will suffice. Ciener makes .22lr conversion units ($200, 30 rd box mags, 3/4 lb, very accurate) for AK’s, AR’s, and Mini14’s. Plenty of youtube vids about all this

  15. If you’re serious about this, get a silenced, short barreled AR15 223 autorifle and .22lr conversion unit for that rifle. If you’re not capable of paying for the real deal, then make your own silencer for a good .22autorifle, such as the maliin Papoose, and call it good. Paladin press sells a book about how to do that. Amazon sells the same book, cheaper. The tax, to legally, make your own silencer, from the Feds is $200, and you wait about 6 months for the background check. About 20 states don’t let you have a silencer, no matter what you pay the feds, so check your state laws first.

  16. For self-defense, yes a shot gun would probably be the best. That’s why I just bought the KelTec. 18 1/4″ barrel, two tubes, one on each side that will hold seven rounds each and one in the chamber = 15. Pump action. 22 rifles are great for small game but for much larger meat I just bought a 338 Lapua, 10 round magazines and will shoot out to 1,100 – 1,700 yds. My second choice for long distance shooting is my new Colt M-4 carbine, 30 round magazines. Shoots either .223 or 5.56×45 and I use 62gr. My food locker is stocked with everything I can think of. Plenty of water, gas, propane, 3,000 watt generator and a large military first aid kit. My concealed weapon permit allows me to carry a 40 Glock, model 23 which for some may be to large. However, a good, small 22 pistol can take down a man if you hit him in the right place.

    Hunker down in your house. Trying to make a “run” for it will only last (if you are lucky) until you run out of gas or diesel. With all the high tech gear the military and government has, you could hide in the back of a cave and they can still detect your body heat.

  17. don’t kid yourself. Use the same EDC pistol you always use. Only brain shots stop charges by big animals, so the big magnums are just a waste of your time and money. I use the same pocket 9mm that I always carry, with the same ammo. MkEN are many times more likely a threat and many times more dangerous. Those magnum clubs are just going to slow you down, be a drag to carry, can’t conceal them while wearing a pack. If you aint serious enough to carry a real fighting rifle, then why bother with some specialized “bear pistol”, hmm? cause you aint serious (at all).

    cities and towns will burn, there’s no water, so people will have to leave. They will be headed for the ranches and farms, so neither place is a good idea. Dont try to go far, just to your local water source. Have food and gear cached there, and have a partially dug, well concealed shelter there. Just hole up for 6 months or more, and let it all pass you by. the diseases, the fires, the fighting.

  18. Give me a silenced shorty AR in 223, with a Ciener .22lr conversion unit and a silencer for the 223. 50 rds each of 223 softpoints and 22lr 60 gr subsonic ammo. More ammo in the caches, so why burden myself with more? a pocket 9mm (sig p938 and 2 mags full of ammo. If you need the pistol more than 1-2 x, 1-2 shots each, you’ll be very lucky to survive it. better keep that AR on the aasault sling.

  19. Mike [the Old Sarge] Suchman

    How about us air gun guys, We can put meat on the table with an air rifle & carry more pellets than you “powder burners” can carry And my power source it the very air we breathe too. I would not use it for battle [but I’m not looking to go into battle with one either]. But there are those of us Veterans who have been screwed by the brady handgun control act of 1993 [by being declared 100% disabled & have to have a fiduciary, we lost our right to have a fire arm] (this is the same “law” used to disarm the military bases) So some of us have to use our heads & figure out a different way of doing things, by the way of the law [even if it is WRONG]

  20. For home defense shotgun with #6 birdshot. Devastating at close range. for a pistol frangible rounds that leave a soccer ball sized cavity and won’t blast through all your walls and your neighbors too.

  21. I prefer combo guns. I have a M-6 scout, and a judge. I can carry .410 and 22lr rounds and have 2 guns (1 long, one pistol) that can fire the same ammo. With pdx rounds for self defense, add in a couple 45 long colts for bigger targets. If you are shy about how small .22lr or .410 is (I have heard that) then you can always swith out the long gun with a Savage 24V over and under 30-30/20gauge. For lighter weight the Chiappa Badger 22lr is a wonderful pack gun, cant leave out the AR-7 as well. so many different options out there, i think it is all what you are comfortable with.

  22. if the woman does not have a LOT of training, even an autoloading shotgun is going to be no help vs a grizzly bear. Grizzlies are not common in the US, other than in Alaska and Yellowstone, they are non existent. there are 80 unprovoked bear attacks per year in US, including black bears. 10x as many people die from insect [email protected] everyone needs a carry pistol, but it’s vs dogs and men, not bears.

  23. the shotgun is pointless, really. a silenced .22 autoloading rifle makes far more sense, both for foraging and fighting, than t he short ranged, not very penetrative, very expensive to practice with 12 ga. making all that noise just runs off game and will call in your killers, who will have fighting rifles and who will shortly have your shotgun, taken from your dead body, cause you just aint got more than 25 yds, if they have sense enough to use cover.

    • A 22 for self defense? NOT. That’s actually funny. You hold your 22 pea shooter and strand face to face with a man and an 870 12ga loaded with 00 buck. Who wins???? you lose and any “game” standing behind you goes down as well. funny

      • Well of course hunter a gauge with double ought will drop most anything. Had to pop an idiot years ago with a .22 to the right hip. Dropped him like a sack of ‘taters. He is damn lucky I didn’t put it in his forehead.

    • Hmm, funny in many states a shotgun slug is all you can use in deer season.
      And plain ol’ rifled slugs take deer at 1-200yds regularly, and 400 by a real shooter has been documented. I’st the 12-gauge slug that’s used by guides for charging wounded Polar+Brown bears.

      At up to 100-yds 00+000 aught buck is more quicker and more accurate than a machine gun.
      But in hot loads in the 1,600 to 1,700 fps range 150yds will put pistol sized pellets in someone,
      which if not immediately lethal then is a real deterrent.

      Up close out to 50yds heavy 3″ magnum steel waterfowl loads can defeat body armor or even helmets.
      Plain old birdshot in a full choke 4’s, 6’s, 7 or 8’s will put out eyes at even the 100yd plus range or cut around below the wad will serve as a breaching tool or a close range slug that’ll break a mans chest wearing body armor or take and arm completely off, leaving a leg dangling.

      Any more question as to he versatility of a 12-gauge?
      A barrel insert can be slid into a single or double barrel shotgun of most any caliber you may want ~!

  24. only brain or spine hits will reliably stop charges by big animals. chest hits always take 5 seconds or more to bleed out the animal enough to stop it. If it stops sooner from such a hit, it was a psychological quitting sort of thing, not an incapacitation. the latter is impossible to get in less than 5 seconds, from loss of organ function or loss of blood. Hitting the brain, reliably, on a charging animal, takes tremendous levels of skill and nerve control, even with an autoriflke, which is what you should be carrying, if you truly worry about bears. I’d make it a 308 and I’d just shoot at the head of any bear within 200 yds, that did not immediately flee once it detected me. I will just not risk such a charge. if they flee, or if they are further away, fine. they can go in peace, as will I.

  25. where do you get the crystal ball that tells you when you will only need a pistol, shotgun, or .22, hmm? how do you get the animals or the looters to wait while you go get your fighting rifle? I use a pocket 9mm that has a .22lr conversion unit, and an AR15 in 223 that has a .22lr conversion unit (Ciener firearms). 20 seconds suffices to change calibers. the units can be sold thru the mail to anyone, cost about $200. you can only carry one longarm and the pack that you will have to carry, too. So make it the most versatile longarm, a short barreled 223 AR, with a .22 unit, trigger job, luminous sights and a scope, with a see thru scope mount.

  26. it won’t be peaceful, like our Greaat Depression, for many reasons. you can fight the desperate people with your bow and airgun if you want. I”ll stick to my silenced aR15 and .22 conversion unit. With 60 gr Aquila subsonic .22 ammo, it’s as quiet as a bB gun, but it’s lethal to 100 yds and fires 6 shots per second, from a 30 rd box mag. the silencer makes the 223 ammo as quiet as a normal 22lr rifle, audible to perhaps 1/2 mile, instead of 2 miles, as is the case with normal 223 rifles.

  27. I STRONGLY disagree with the Ruger American Rifle as a top choice for long range survival. I bought one in 30/06 new in 2013 and the bolt would come off in your hand when you worked it back to eject a shell. There are no back up sights and the barrel began to rust even with oil. I will not nor would I ever chose this as my “survival” choice as it is cheaply made and not going to last-this I can guarantee.

  28. There is no best gun for everyone. Shotgun yes ! But a pump please. The semi-autos with extended tube mag will wear you out. While your pumping yourself to death. Find a good used semi gun and dress her right. 22LR ? If your not setup by now its too late. Ammo has doubled and hard to find. Spend that money on remington express shot gun shells #4 buck it works well on everything. Centerfire rifle . If you have no experience go with 5.56 (223) or 7.62×39 . Recoil is not too bad. Ammo not that heavy. Range will depend on the person and setup. Price depends on what they can afford. I hunt so for me its a Flaigs 7mm rem mag. Reason I have used it for 30 yrs., accuracy is very good with cheap off the self 140 gr core-loct’s with handloads its will amaze you. But thats me 230 lbs vs a 10.5 lb gun that rocks. Each person needs to get with someone they trust. Find something that fits the need.

  29. For what its worth, i have shot and killed two blackbears in the 300 lb range with a 9 mm ruger p89 while bow hunting deer and elk in pacific northwest. First one at about 20 yards running towards me. One round penetrated lung, bear turned and ran about 40 yards and died. Second bear was about 10 yards and charging. First round hit front leg near shoulder, bear did summersault about 15 feet in front of me, I pumped 6 more rounds into it as it turned and scampered over bank and died about 10 yards away. I was using 95 grn hp. Ammo. I wouldnt intentionally hunt bear with any handgun, but i think even a small caliber weapon, although not immediately lethal will inflict enough pain and fear from the noise to deture a charging black bear. I wouldnt, however, intentionaly stake my life on this hypothosis.

  30. Your best guns for survival is the one you feel most comfortable to you. If you can’t handle a .308 for whatever reason (i.e. medical), than it just isn’t that practical. With that said, here are my “two cents” for what it is worth for guns in a survival situation:

    Shotgun: 12 gauge pump – great all-around gun, very versatile
    Rimfire: .22 LR hands down – even at double the price, ammo is still cheaper than everything else
    Centerfire: .30x caliber for bigger game (I personally like 30-06)
    Pistol: 9mm full size – balance between power, magazine capacity, and affordable ammo
    Air Gun: A good .177 will go a long way when silence is necessary

    So what about if you have to bug out? You will likely not be able to take your arsenal. I’d suggest the .22 LR and the 9mm handgun. The 22 will feed, the 9mm will protect in a pinch. These calibers will maximize the amount of ammo that one can take on a journey without sacrificing weight. If you have a companion/companions (i.e. wife/kids), you may be able to pawn off a .22/air rifle.

  31. Just a thought, guys. You are probably going to run out of ammo at some point. Well, SOME of you aren’t, which is ammo is in short supply on store shelves. If you reload, you are probably going to run out of primers and/or nitrocellulose. Think about a primitive firearm for long-term survival. Not a caplock – because you will run out of the caps. A flintlock. Flint is a native stone. It can’t be found just anywhere (so stock up) but it doesn’t have to be manufactured. Also have a bullet mould for your flintlock.. Getting more black powder could be a problem, but it is a lot simpler to make than modern smokeless powder. So, as an essential survival firearm, a flintlock rifle gets my vote.

    • Yup, should hav’em, as well as a high powered breech loading air-rifle(they have taken deer).

      But don’t forget the long bow, sling bow, crossbow, sling, atlatls, or even a good hog spear.

  32. It’s all about realistic statistical probabilities and load. You’re very very unlikely going to defend yourself from a Kodiak/ Grizzly Bear so it makes no sense to carry something like a 44 magnum and most likely you would miss in a far quarter human assault in which they are moving and shooting back especially with only 5 to 6 rounds. I believed the average trained police officer has a 10-14% hit rate so you’re going to be less accurate than that so carry a 9MM or 45 with the capacity to shoot 17 plus rounds. I would recommend one that is durable, reliable, and with a simple platform meaning less intricate parts. Also carry a shotgun because it is multi-functional as stated by the reasons above in these posts. I also recommend an AR 10 because it serves as a tactical weapon plus the caliber is good enough to hunt bigger game. Its more accurate and powerful than an AR 15 an AK47. I know its heavier, expensive, more complex, and less durable than an AK47 but it blends the semi auto pros with the value of a typical 30-06/308 standard bolt action such as effective range all into 1 gun. Assuming you have a pistol with the heavy capacity you wouldn’t need another semi auto rifle like an AK47. You can purchase an Armalite or Windham Weaponry one on gun broker or impact guns for $1400 and less. Now you have 3 weapons covering the all the areas of power, range, utility, large game, small game, combat.

  33. Spot on

  34. Enjoyed the article and the responses. I would like to charm in on the .22cal portion of this article. Enjoyed all the feedback on rifle models people would choose. Al that was said about the Ruger 10/22 is so true, however it shoots one length of ammo .22lr. Remington has the model 552 Speedmaster in semi-auto and the model 572 Fieldmaster in pump action,both can shoot the .22short, .22long and the .22lr (long rifle) interchangeable. both are extremely well made, and are full sized rifles. They are pricesed than other rifles, but what is your family worth. My answer to that is find one, with a reasonable down payment, put it on layaway.

    Ruger has two great .22 rifles also that shoot all three, .22s, .22l and .22lr. both of these rifles I would consider full size or dang near close to it. You have the Lever action and the Henry pump, like the Remingtons, they are well made. Both brands are made in the United States of America. I am a giant fan of both Remington and Henry, but if had to pick one, I would probably take a Henry only because they are both hammer rifles. All four can have scopes mounted on them. The Henry for the purpose of the topic survival guns has the edge, because if your hammer spring was to break you could use strong rubber tubing or bands to tie around the forearm then loop it behind the hammer like a speargun or crossbow. Now you are back in business.

    Please let me know your thoughts on this article.

  35. I agree about the 22lr its underestimated, when i had my beretta neo back in the day, i had found some old pots and Teflon skillets that where thrown away so i used them for target practice at 60feet i was punching holes into them no joke.

  36. I agree on the .22 pistol. Sleep with it next to ya,easy access and movement,a lot ammo,well placed shot drop any game! .17 is better for long gun. I’m a wilderness survivalist and private instructor, yet that being said when it comes to push n shove…..knowing how to make gun power and locate natural lead will win in the end. Remember those who move,are those that are seen!

  37. handguns for bear defense are a JOKE, man. You’d need a brain hit. Even the 454 has no more power than a 20 ga slug. a 20 ga autoloader would be FAR more able to get the necessary brain hit, fast enough, than any magnum revolver and with bird and buckshot, the 20 ga is far more versatile. NOBODY considers the 20 ga to be a bear stropper, so neither is the big pistol, and the big pistol is costly and very inferior vs dog packs or men. So just carry the same ccw pistol you’d carry in the city, or else be serious and carry a 308 autorifle and practice with it a lot.

  38. many a 100 lb deer has run off a ways with a chest hit from a 30 cal rifle or a 12 ga slug. so why would you expect a chest hit to stop a charging bear, hmm? it probably wont. the brain is a 6″ circle, moving fast, so hitting it is going to be very hard to do with a handgun. basically, you’ll have to “feed him” one arm, and then shove your pistol up under his chin, to his temple, etc, and fire. Under such conditions a “mere” 9mm will suffice (and has done so).

  39. no, 44 auto mag and .50 desert eagle will NOT prove Russell wrong. Only those lacking in experience would think so. The most powerful handguns are still very much inferior to a 308 and 308 softpoints have failed many times. It WILL require a brain hit, or a lot of luck, to stop a bear. More importantly, tho, there’s only 40 or so unprovoked bear attack injuries per year in N America. Far more people die of insect bites and stings. You dont worry about the latter, so why worry about the former, hm? Many bear attacks are at night, while you sleep, too. So much for having anythng special/ready, especially not a longarm. You can wake up with part of you in the bear’s mouth and the rest of him tearing you apart.

  40. ASPCA website says that 800,000 times per year, in the US, people are dogbitten badly enough to seek medical attention. that’s 10,000 x more likely than a bear attack. yet you dont worry about dogs at all. Do you see the stupidity of the “bear pistol” idea now?

  41. if the man with the .22 has trained a lot, he’ll hit you in the face with that .22 rifle before you even FIRE that 12 ga. A good man with a .22 auto rifle can toss up 3 tennis balls and hit all 3 in midair. The odds of YOU being able to do the same with a dumbarsed pump 12 ga are very low.

  42. shotguns are chosen only by people who KNOW that they aint much good with a rifle or pistol. The shotgun can’t be concealed or used with just one arm (ie, the pistol’s forte) and they also lack the range, penetration mag capacity, .22 unit and silencability of the rifle. So why would anyone with knowledge/skill choose the shotgun? answer, they don’t.

  43. I would not bother to own a shotgun, cause practicing with one hurts your ability with the rifle. you teach yourself to sloppily point the gun and “slap” at the trigger, and the safety manipulation and handling are markedly different from the rifle. Even indoors, I’ll take a siilenced shorty AR15, with luminous sights, to a typical pump 12 ga. Cause I practice with it, cause the luminous sights and silencer are a HuGE help at hitting swiftly enough.

  44. yeah, just keep on kidding yourself about bows and “only one shot is needed”. what a crock. almost everyone misses repeatedly when they are being shot-at, and most hits are poor hits and quite often, even good hits let the guy keep on attacking you. To hell with their laws. when it comes to my life and what’s helpful in saving it. I’ll worry about their effing laws if and when they catch me. First I”ll defend myself.

  45. there are many people who have enough resources to have an entire arsenal locked up in their gun safe.on the other hand there are lots of people who don’t have that same luxury. Then what should they do?

  46. IMHO, an AK-47 or an AR-15 would be the best all around survival weapons of choice, along with a compact 45 and a proper knife. For small game and deer, a scoped bb or pellet gun would suffice with a bow or slingshot.

    Armchair Survivalists always go for the 22 which is loud and scares away game. A bow, slingshot, or an air rifle is a great choice for stealth survival. Even game traps are proper in survival situations with proper fishing gear.

    This moronic post would have you giving your position away in a survival situation because other survivalist will hear your 22 gunshots. I reckon when the World goes off the grid, survivalists will forgive hearing 22 gunshots in the distance, hahahaha.

  47. The best guns for my survival is yours. Im a gunsmith. Pick your guns well, for when they need repairing you’ll come to me. Long ago I took my father advice.” If you want to survive, make your self useful.” Personally I think most of your picks are poor. most of the guns you have choosen are good if everthing goes right, Thats not the case most of the time, and most of you are going to get dead because you paid attention to the wrong thing for survival, guns Buy a boy scout manual and resd it you will see what I meean

  48. I think I would go with a Winchester .44 mag. It’s small enough to put in a pak, big enough to take most anything. 200 gr soft points I think would be the way to go. What do you think?

  49. Ummmmmmm… Shotgun? Rimfire? Centerfire? Handgun? My god man, you didn’t recommend anything, you just basically covered almost every possible weapon made!! That’s not a recommendation at ALL and somebody could read your entire article and still not have a clue what to own…

    If you’re going to recommend something then recommend it, don’t just say a centerfire rifle…

  50. The 5 very best cars to own for SHTF. Chevrolet, Chrysler, Toyota, Ford… seriously the more I read the title and then read your recommendations I just can’t help but feel it’s kind of laughably absurd

  51. I can’t believe no body is advising anyone to get a good compound or recurve bow. These bows are essentials in a long term survival situation, because let’s face it. 1 year after TEOTWAWKI, your bullets are getting used. 3 years later, you may be out completely. 10 years later and you’re probably trying make a bow. A good Compound, Recurve, or Crossbow means you don’t have to use those valuable bullets all the time to hunt game. The arrows and bolts are reusable in most cases. And they make ZERO noise, which is also essential if you don’t want to draw attention to your location.

    • What is it with you bow guys? You always say the exact….same……illogical…….thing, bullets are going to run out and then we are all going to resort to a bow.

      Actually, no we are not! You don’t exactly need advanced technology to make gunpowder and lead.. Bullets have been made for what? 150 years!!!! That’s not exactly “modern” technology my friend.

      Cowboys were killing Indians with bows for a long time before now.

      And I’d like to see you shoot your bow in a SHTF situation, and then simply walk down and recover it like you would from a dead deer!

      You’re dreaming my friend you’re dreaming.

  52. there are many people who have enough resources to have an entire army.on the other hand there are lots of people who don’t have that same luxury. Then what should they do? if you could please publish article that contains some cheaper products that can also be use for survive. i think it would be very helpful and nice to hear when everyone can have their own protection with their own survival weapon. nice article and keep up the good work.

  53. What do you think about Glock 42?
    I am going to buying it, but I want to hear your opinion first.
    Maybe I pick Glock 42 or a Ruger.

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