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.
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: