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The 5 Best Survival Guns When Ammo Is Scarce

The 5 Best Survival Guns When Ammo Is Scarce

Image source: Red Barn Armory

Take your pick — earthquake, fire, severe weather, civil unrest, a terrorist act. Whatever the catastrophe, having a survival firearm is norm today and not the exception.

The reasons to have a last-ditch firearm (or two) are endless and unique to you and your environment, but self-defense and hunting are naturally the top uses.

Since we are talking about an out-of-the-norm event, I would want to keep my selections simple. To accomplish this, I would consider such factors as ammo availability. Within the United States, some calibers (or shotgun ammo) that would be much more available during a crisis include 22 long rifle, 12 gauge, 223/5.56, 9mm, and 308 or 30-06. Others – such as 22 Magnum, 28 gauge, 222, 357 Sig, and 270 Winchester Short Mag – could be hard to find.

In other words, your survival gun should be in a caliber that you have a good supply of, or calibers that might be easier to find via scavenging or bartering. Another factor I would consider is the track record of reliability. Confidence in the firearms’ system — including accessories and ammunition — as well as my ability to use them well, is critical. Efficiency of operation, basic field maintenance and ease of transport are also points to consider.

You Don’t Need A Firearms License For This Weapon!

With the above in mind, here are my top picks:

1. Ruger 10/22 takedown

The Ruger 10/22 has been around for decades and proven its worth. The takedown version with the accompanying pack is a great choice for a survival gun. Chambered in 22 long rifle, it’s adept at taking small game and even can be used for self-defense if needed. Another plus: You can get 15- and 25-round Ruger factory magazines for this platform. Put a Ruger Mark III pistol or Ruger Bearcat revolver in the case with the takedown 10/22 and you have a wonderful little survival pack that shoots the same caliber and can be easily transported.

2. Sig P516 AR Pistol, AR Carbine or AK Platform

The Sig P516 AR platform pistol in the 10 inch barrel, chambered in 5.56, provides wonderful mobility while still allowing the shooter to have a point of contact to the shoulder if the need arises. The ATF has reconfirmed the legality of shooting this pistol while the arm brace is in contact with the shoulder. There are numerous platforms available that allow for this shortened barrel in conjunction with a non-traditional stock or “pistol brace.” The ability to use a standard 20-, 30- or even 40-round magazine make these systems are ideal for a survival situation. I run a compact red dot (Eotec) on mine with BUIS and a single-point sling. I have run thousands of rounds through this “pistol” with nary a hiccup. It goes without saying that your favorite AR Carbine or AK system would also be an excellent candidate in this section, as well. The AK 47 has, of course, proven its durability and reliability for decades and is worthy of consideration for any tough times event. Both the 5.56 and the 7.62 x 39 are usually available or easily found in stockpiles.

3. Remington 870 Shotgun

It’s not hard to justify a shotgun in a survival setting. My choice would be a police model 18-inch barrel, cylinder bore choke, three-inch chamber with an extended magazine … in 12 gauge. This gun has been around for decades and has been proven in many harsh conditions. In just this one platform, you have a short-range rifle (100-plus yards) with a rifled slug, a great self-defense and hunting round with 00 or #4 buckshot, and a small game load with anything from #8 to #4 birdshot. Door-breaching ability is also among the shotguns’ assets. I personally have taken small- to medium-sized plains game with 12 gauge using buckshot in Africa. I prefer a fixed stock and either a standard front-sight bead or simple rifle-style express sights. A copy of this excellent firearm lives in my vehicle at all times.

4. Remington Bolt-Action Rifle

Do not get me wrong. I like my semi-auto AR and AK platform carbines. But in a true survival situation, I may need to consider not just defense, but the ability to hunt and bring down big game at further distances. I like short-barreled carbines, and since ease of transport is a consideration, a bolt action in a 16- to 18-inch barrel fits the bill. The old Remington Model 600 Mohawk (18-inch barrel) is one of my favorites. Likewise, a Remington 700 in a short 16-inch barrel works for me (mine is a Remington 700 LTR from which I have shortened the barrel down to 16 inches). Both my rifles are chambered in 308 and are sub-1 MOA guns if I am doing everything right. I can easily make hits at 600 yards and beyond, making these compact rifles great for hunting or other needed “precision fire” without lugging around a 12- to 15-pound precision rifle system.

5. Glock Pistol

Aside from a rim-fire handgun, the need for a reliable center-fire pistol is obvious. There are many choices here to choose from, and I believe you should select make, model and caliber based on your needs and likes. For me, it’s hard not to consider a Glock 17 or 19 — the company’s full size and compact 9mm models. Its reliability and ease of operation has been proven for decades now. We could sit and discuss caliber all day, and, yes, I like the 40 S&W and the 45 ACP, among others. But 9mm ammo is very easy to find, accurate, and I can carry more of it in higher capacity magazines that the Glock 17/19 features. You also could consider coupling your Glock pistol with a Kel-Tec Sub 2000 in 9mm or 40 S&W, and now you have a short carbine that runs on your Glock magazine. Not a bad option. You can fit the pistol and the Sub 2000 (which folds in half) in a very small backpack, a nice transport and covert method of carry.

These are but a few of many choices. I believe that the key is to keep your selections simple, reliable and practical. The decisions are yours. The goal is to be prepared.

What would be on your list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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  1. I’d add the single shot break open shotgun as multiples of these can be found for inexpensive prices. As in three single shots for the cost of a pump. Sure, slower to load but with multiple people armed, you can put a lot of lead in the air in a hurry.

  2. I’ve got the Ruger 10/22 Takedown and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It’s only fired 3 rounds in the year I’ve had it. Each time, it immediately jams. I’ve tried resetting it per the instructions with no success. Some folks have said it depends on the brand of ammunition you run through it. I haven’t found one that works, but I’ve now got a stockpile of .22 caliber! Look elsewhere for a survival rifle is my suggestion.

    • Try CCI mini mag in the 40gr copper plated round nose. I’ve shot thousands of rounds of this ammo through a variety of semi auto 22’s…rarely a problem. As to the Ruger 10/22 in any configuration they are a great 22 for the money! I always use Ruger factory magazines! I own two of the 10/22 take down models and have had zero problems with either of mine!

    • Have you contacted Ruger about the issue? They are usually very good about making sure their product is right!

      Yours is the exception as I have sold countless numbers across the counter and I have yet to have someone come back and complain that it does not work well. The most common comment I hear is that they love it.

      Follow up on it and you may change your mind! Good Luck!!

    • Don’t know what to say. I’ve got two of them plus the Charger pistol take down and have never had a single jam. I’d contact Ruger to get it corrected or replaced.

    • Forget the rifle altogether. Get a Ruger II-IV or better yet a Ruger 22/45 Lite and have all the accuracy of the rifle without the bulk. With the threaded barrel with a suppressor you can kill game without making any noise to speak of.

  3. I have to agree on the short Remington carbine thoughts. A small compact rifle chambered in a very common round is a good idea for hunting in heavy brush. The Mohawk has that in spades. The more recent Remington 7 is a good substitute.

  4. you can add 16 gauge and even 20 gauge to the “hard to find” ….. 16 gauge is just about extinct on the retail shelves …. and for defensive purposes the heavy buck loads for the 20 gauge are far and wide between the sources …

    if you have an inherited heritage shotgun in anything but 12 gauge – make sure you stockpile enough NOW thru the online ammo sources ….

  5. My choice is a single shot H&R 12 gauge. Simple to operate, easy to clean and virtually indestructible. As for ammo…..look at the choices in 12 gauge ammo. Plus you can find ammo at any farm house, hen house or out house!……..check out Dave Canterbury’s series on the single shot 12 gauge. He turned his H&R into a muzzle loader.

  6. I love my sub2k in .40 with my glock happy sticks!
    I keep them in my ride ready to go. Pistol ammo riffle that fits in the console or under the seat , no complaints.

  7. I generally dislike any article that claims to define the “best” gun, backpack, emergency ration, shoe, two-ply toilet tissue or any other item of interest. In my view, these authors are generally trying to earn brownie points with manufacturers and/or boost advertising revenue, which is sort of a redundant statement.

    Illini Warrior (kudos to you) touched on a subject that actually pertains to the title of the article; that is, scarcity of certain types of ammo. No one should argue that a .22LR is a valuable and potentially vital firearm to have in your possession. But, all .22LR is not created equal and the higher quality ammo always seems to be harder to locate and purchase in volume at economical prices.

    For example:
    CCI ‘AR Tactical’ round nose is cheap in 300 round bricks, but it only delivers 1200 FPS velocity.
    CCI’s Mini Mag .22LR delivers 1235 FPS velocity, but it is more expensive and harder to locate in bulk purchases.
    Remington ‘Golden Bullet’ .22LR delivers 1255 FPS velocity.
    Winchester Super-X round nose .22 LR produces 1300 FPS velocity, while the
    Winchester Super-X .22LR Hollow Point produces 1435 FPS velocity.

    Higher velocity means longer range and greater kinetic energy. In a SHTF scenario, the late comers will be scrounging for anything they can find, and will almost certainly end up with the lower quality, lower velocity ammo. Assuming, of course, that they can find even that.

    My point is that having a Ruger 10-22 is great (and it is a very fine rifle). But it is useless without ammo, and adequate access to quality ammo is not guaranteed. Personally, I maintain a stock of low velocity .22LR ammo strictly for the purpose of bartering. I would never trade my good stuff.

  8. Rather than the Glock pistol-rifle combo check into Hi-Point, they make those in several calibers and that may be an advantage of both pieces being made together, and Hi-Point tests every firearm before it’s shipped.

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