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Best Survival Guns: Handguns, Shotguns and Rifles for the Survivalist

Best Survival Guns: Handguns, Shotguns and Rifles for the Survivalist

OL blogger Tim MacWelch picks his favorite rifles, shotguns and handguns for survival situations. What's your go-to survival gun?
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from Charles Johnson wrote 15 weeks 4 days ago

One of the above mentioned he didn't like the AR as a survival gun. The US put many, many million in the design and improvement of Eugene Stoner's invention and I think the job was well done. Is it the best, no but I doubt you will need the best. Good will get you through virtually anything you will encounter and there is little doubt the AR platform is better than just good. I am a Viet Nam Vet, so I have used an M16 in the way it was designed. It is a good weapon and I would not think twice about having one in my survival kit if ever I was to need one. Truth of the matter is there are a number of outstanding weapons available to US Citizens (well most US Citizens) To qualify as a survival weapon what ever you choose needs to function with little or no maintance. An M16 or AR platform will do that. You can run a patch down the barrel and you are good to go for a long time. However common sense says when ever you can do maintenance on an item that could mean the difference between life or death one should find the time no matter the circumstances to do better than basic maintenance. There are a large number of arm chair cowboys who will argue the smallest of points about what ever weapon they would want to take to their final days adventure. The best choice would be first to find a way where it would not be your terminal event as a human being. That said, proper aim, controlled breathing and squeezing the trigger is more important than what you packing on your last day, or who made it. If you are going to have to fight you way out, first make certain you can hit what you are going to have to shoot. Weapons Manufactures (In the US)are for the most part all pretty good, at least those who are subject to a lawsuit in the US Court system are. Simply stated it is simpler for a manufacturer to make a quality product than it is for them to defend a bunch of lawsuits. IT IS SIMPLE ECONOMICS. The chances of you having to low crawl through the swamp is not all that important as most people are smart enough to find a trail to walk around the swamp. Find a US Made weapon of medium caliber, stock up enough ammo say 1000 rounds (which would be enough for multiple patrols (thinking 200 rounds a person, per patrol) and then find something else to worry about. Like is your car going to make it through the woods, do you have access to multiple sources of food and water to sustain you and your family and don't forget your good buddy who will not have planned and who will want to share what you have. Then there is your brother in law etc. etc. You get my point?

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from joiner wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

The shorty AR, with a .22lr conversion unit, with luminous iron sights, a trigger job, a carry handle mounted scope (removable carry handle) with a see- thru scope base, is by far the most versatile longarm available. There are no effective flashhiders or sound suppressors for shotguns and there never will be, either. The hole thru the baffles has to be so big that a lot of noise escapes. Or you'll need a 'can" that is 3" in OD and 20" long for the 12 ga, which sort of ruins the "fast handling" part of it. :-) Such a can is so heavy that the thin shotgun barrel can't be threaded to support it.

Also, shotgun shells are supersonic, so you'll get big "sonic boom" with them, in spite of the can. All that handicap, for something that's best suited for shooting birds out of the air? Better to trap birds, fish, and game, and have a fighting rifle, as well as subsonic .22lr ammo for the conversion unit.

If it's not WROL, then all you need is a pocket pistol, cause you can get help in 2-3 days just by having a smoky fire most of those days.

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from mschn001 wrote 31 weeks 10 hours ago

I'd go with a small caliber rifle or an AR over any of the pistols. I think the AR platforms are the most versatile across a wider range of survival situations. Pistols are too limited in range.

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from LonePine wrote 36 weeks 5 hours ago

If I knew then . . .Carbine, Marlin 357 mag lever action. Revolver, Ruger SP101 357 mag revolver. 22LR rifle, anything comfortable, with a QUALITY scope. And, lots,Lots,LOTS of ammo.

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from Ivan RoachCoach wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

For a shotgun, I'll take a single-shot H&R 12 gauge --- no wasted shells by spraying & praying. If you can't hit what you're pointing at with a scattergun, you're REALLY in trouble.
Rifle? Mosin Nagant M44 carbine --- kicks like amule, hits like a .30-06 & killed more Nazis than the Russian winter. Ammo is ultra-cheap, too.
For a pistol I'd go for either any 9mm for easy ammo availability or a Taurus PT145 .45 ACP & make every shot count.

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from bellamgs wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I live in the new Madrid seismic zone, for those who don't know the last set of bad earthquakes here lasted about 3 months. So I've given survival some thought. Agreed, first and foremost is food/water/fuel. But with respect to guns, the ar is a very bad choice. 1st, very complicated action, lots of smallparts, heavy maintenance. A better choice would be the ruger mini-14 if you must have a survival gun in .223/5.65nato. very few moving parts, self cleaning gas chamber, garand action is like an anvil. Is it as accurate-no. can it be used skillfully for hunting varmints of the 4 and 2 legged kind? absolutely. For small game I have a 40 year old Winchester .22lr single shot bolt action, gets the job done, for deer/hogs/ whatever, a marlin 336 in 30-30. pistol, a s&w mod. 640 in 357mag. all the bases covered with simple designs that require little maintiance. But to reiterate, I really think the mini is a much better choice for a self defence carbine, unless you are a gunsmith.

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from 1pathfinder wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I feel as though you should choose the right weapon for the right situation. If your going to mobil you would need travel light. By that I mean the weapon of choice would bee 22 LR or 22 MAG. You can carry so much ammo for it's light. Just be sure to but the good stuff not the cheap lead. The second on my list is a good 12 GA shotgun or 20 GA. You can take that and high powered shells and it's very deadly out to 20-30 yards, and throw in some buckshot or slugs and your out their. For handguns I carry a 1911 Colt MDL 70 and my second choice is a Ruger Mark. One other thing one should consider is a good blade. Their is allot of good steel out their on the market but in pocket knife is a CASE and the one on my side is 6" CASE XXRAZOR. Always remember a bll bat swings better than a rifle, so should you not have plenty of ammo for each weapons just buy a couple of ball bats.

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from scoony24 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I have three guns on this list...the 870, the 500, and the Ruger 10/22.

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from Gallowshumour wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

The .22-over-.410 M6 Scout and Model 24 Savage aren't in production anymore, and those that have them won't let them go. I'm pinning my hopes on the new Savage Model 42 .22-over-.410. Similar to the 24 but with a plastic stock.

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from dubyadd wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

all these guns except for the 22's are very costly and make noise. If an armed band of bullies show up they might kill you to get your food. I keep an air gun, cross bow and even a hunting sling shot handy. You never run out of rocks!

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from Frank2012 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I prefer A Marlin.22CAL bolt action with 3-9*32 or 40 scope with over & under see through rings. it's for small game to medium such as rabbits to Caribou, plus you can buy lots of ammunition & it's light to carry. plus H&R 410 ga with 3" chamber, can do just about anything with it, shoot game from small to big game plus fowl game, ammunition i prefer #4 or #6 & slugs for big game, also ammunition is light to carry you can buy lots of these shells. Oh dont forget to carry a Bushnell-Arbor bore sighter kit at all times! :)

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from Javier Ramos wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

i think as far as guns go a 12 guage shotgun fits the bill nicely i personaly wouldnt need much more than an 18.5 inch shotgun light enough to travel enough punch to take on nearly anything you might encounter wildlife or otherwise its great to carry if your walkin those trails out there but other than a shotgun i'd definetly be packin one or all of my blades(i have 3 a millitary fighting knife survival knife and my little bootknife which is handy in a pinch)now if were talkin handguns then definetly a revolver ruger blackhawk convertable because both .357 and 9 mils are extremely common ammunition type and itd be nice to pop off a 9 when you dont need the magnum round well i suppose thats my two cents for this neat little post

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from ILikePike wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Any brand basically, a good 12 ga. pump and a good accurate bolt action high powered rifle. I guess it would depend on the situation also. A bow and arrow could also work.

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from Dawson Lee wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

I would want my S&W MP serries M4 223 and about 100000000000000000 rounds for Deer. And my Glock 17 pistol and a 700 nitro express for rabbits

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from John S. wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

For a pistol I would say either .22 or 9mm just for the ease of getting and carrying ammo. A shotgun can be used for a multitude of shooting scenario's especially if you have a model where the barrel swaps out with a rifled barrel.
Up here in Canada a Lee Enfield .303 british is good for any north american big game.

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from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 20 hours ago

Hi...

Okay, here's my two kopeks worth on the ONE survival weapon I would prefer.

That's a 12 guage shotgun. Simple, eh? Slugs for big game...or "other" things that go bump in the night. Buckshot for the same use...(kinda like firing a handful of .45s)...!!

And, of course, smaller shot for smaller game.

That should cover most bases for most of North America.

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from gmarkum wrote 2 years 2 days ago

When I hit the woods I carry a Taurus Tracker .44 Magnum in a Diamond D Guides Choice chest rig. It is small enough to carry and big enough to count. I keep the first round loaded up with a CCI shot shell for critters I might find tasty along the way. If it is long term, add my Ruger 10/22 with a folding stock into the mix and I am content. I have other military grade weapons in the safe if I need to defend me and mine, but that will not likely be in the woods.

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from spg1026 wrote 2 years 5 days ago

My pick for a handgun would be either a 357 magnum revolver: my Ruger Blackhawk single action fits this perfectly (actually has the 9mm extra cylinder); or a 1911 45. Either handgun provides the user easy to find ammunition or supplies to hand load. Either also provides the power to put down game or fight off 2 leg predators. Hard choice to pick one but I love my Kimber 1911 so much if I had to choose that's what I would pick.
Rifle choice would come down to be a semi-auto 22lr such as a Ruger 10/22 (high-capacity and ultra ammo availability; 30-30 lever action (for power and high ammo availability); or a possibly an AR-15 orAR-10 . My pick if just would be 30-30 due to my prior experience with it and high reliability of the action(either Winchester or Marlin).
The shotgun would be either a 20 or 12 gauge pump Mossberg for no other reason I have a 20 gauge pump Mosssberg.

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from GuyGene wrote 2 years 1 week ago

When I think of survival, I think of getting something to eat/drink (gun might not help with the water), therefore, I think of small, therefore, I think of my Ruger 22LR pistol. I can carry a lot of 22LR shells in my pocket or backpack, it will kill a heap of edible crits, is accurate out to about 30 yards or maybe more, and small enough to holster and carry. Mine in the Mark II model, very reliable. Now, I am not talking about defending myself against bears here, just real survival. Where I live and wander, it will suffice; and no talk about it not being good enough for the two-legged kind of varmints who might want to do harm - it will work.

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from Kody wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I am frequently impressed by the the diverse points of view and knowledge that contributors bring to this forum. I see WSU and 3030 making very sensible contributions to the discussion. One fellow bases his opinion upon experience with natural disasters that have forced him to focus on the realities of survival circumstances. 3030 guy, who makes his living repairing firearms, says the best survival gun is the one least likely to breakdown.. ie the least complicated firearms have less to go wrong. I have my share of opinions but have learned to defer to expert advice. Thanks guys!

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from Tc505 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I found a nice survival long guns last year, being a revolving shotgun handling .410 and .45 l.c.. I have no problems with heavy pistols as long as not packed on the hip for other emergencies. after a while they tend to get pretty heavy on the legs cutting down travel time. depending on the amount of ammo you want to pack the smaller is a little better since the .410 is a lot easier to pack a few boxes of shells but the drawback is that most of these little combo guns handle only the 2.5" shells which are great for small game. 12 ga guns capable of handling both the slugs and shot shell (improved cylinder to keep from messing the barrel up) are ok but more than 2 boxes of ammo gets pretty heavy. the ak 47 could have been left off. I have one and you can't hit the broad side of a barn with it due to the chrome lined bore. it does hit hard but at 50 yards it hits all over the board no matter how you set the scope up on it--so definitely wouldn't be my first choice. another thing to look at is stuff like the marlin 882/883 .22 mags are good solid guns but the 882 has magazines that need to be modified since they usually come as 7 rd mags. a little modification to them allows 9 rounds to be carried in the mag but the mag catch leaves a lot to be desired since carrying with an arm near it will cause the mag to drop out costing you ammo and a way to shoot more than one round (watch snow walker since that is what he uses and loses). the 883 is a tube fed so much safer.

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from Triston Palensky wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

i would use a small caliber like 22.cal for small game. Then in dangerous situtions i would use a hi.point 40.

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from tritonrider wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Savage model 24 combination would be a nice choice in .22/20 gauge.
Reliable, simple, versatile, and fairly accurate at reasonable ranges.

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from 3030shttr wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I am with Jason W. and Robert D....probably kill myself trying to move the arsenal from one place to another though...one thing to remember about a firearm is how simple are the interior mechanics. You don't want malfunctions that cannot be repaired. Glock pistols are very simple inside even to the point of replacing a firing pin (I am a Glock armorer and they don't back anyone doing anything unless you have their blessing ie. certificate but hey, in a survival situation all that certificate is good for is starting a fire..) Marlin rifles are also very simple as are Remington pump shotguns with exchangeable barrels..revolvers and bolt guns are usually pretty easy too. Stay away from SigSauer-extremely complicated inside....just my .02

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from WSU in NM wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

There are all kinds of situations to prepare for. Could be like the 1918 flu epidemic,could be blizzard in the NE, hurricanes in the SE, droughts or floods in the midwest, or earthquakes on the West coast. I personally have experienced two earthquakes, a volcanic eruption,a week evacuation due to a forest fire and a week long below zero power outage. Firearms are important, but not at the top of my list.Food, water, shelter, and alternate fuel are. When it is below zero and you have no gas or electricity,you can't shoot cold or a fire that is threatening your community. You can go hunting though if the food supply is contaminated.
Handloading can improve the performance of any cartridge especially the 9mm.

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from charliedakota wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I'd lose the 9mm's - the cartridge isn't much good as a people shooter or as a game getter either.

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from Kody wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

What exactly is the situation that I am suppose to be surviving? Unless the world as we know it comes apart most of us need never consider survival situations other than those that may befall us on a hunting trip where things go wrong. In that circumstance, we have our goose hunting gun or our big game rifle in hand. Meaning we have everything covered in terms of necessary firepower. If we are at all risk conscious we have a some of the bare essentials with us on any such outing.... flashlight, matches or a lighter and fire starting material, a knife, a compass and such. I tend to agree with one of the contributors to this forum article who suggests this is heavy on advertisement and short on reality for the topic it claims to address. The truth be known none of these toys are a substitute for some common sense and composure in the face of unexpected and frightening events. Those forum members with a military background can surely attest to the accuracy of that statement better than the rest of us!

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from Jason Wilder wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Really the manufacturer of a firearm is only as important as so far as the firearm is accurate, reliable, and of such quality as to be durable. Haveing said that my picks would be a good 22LR rifle and pistol for the light weight and cost factors. A good 30-06 Hunting rifle or 308, but I preffer the 30-06 personaly as it gives an edge with heaveyer bullets. A good simi-Auto handgun 9mm or better, and a good revolver 357mag.,44mag., and either the 460S&W or the 500S&W. A good rifle in a large enough caliber to stop even the biggest and meanest bear or whatever. A pump shotgun set up for any bird huntting, Deer hunting, and selfdefense. Inother words a shotgun with a 28" barrel with screw in chocks, a rifled slug barrel, and a short Improved Cylinder Barrel.

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from nitrojoe wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Getting so tired of all the "survival" gear and articles.

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from wgiles wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Unless you are active military in a behind enemy lines survival situation, I would not recommend any of the pistols or semiautomatic weapons. There are too many things that can go wrong with them that you can't fix in the field. If I did carry a pistol, it would probably be a Smith & Wesson K frame revolver. My personal choice for a survival firearm would be a good bolt action .22 rimfire. I have an AR-7, had it for 40 years. It's fun to shoot, but bulky and not very accurate. I miss a lot of squirrels with it. .22 Long Rifle ammunition is cheap and light. There is no real reason not to have 50 or 100 rounds. I would be tempted to carry something bigger in bear country and that might be a revolver or the Marlin 1895 GS in Grizzly bear country.

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from Robert Deioma wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

There are some very nice weapons on this list, but sorry Tim there are some that just don't belong on a "Survival" list. I'll point out the most obvious as the Redhawk 44magnum. Come on. Really? It's a beautiful weapon, but NOT a survival weapon. Way too heavy. Way too wasteful for space in carrying. It may be intimidating to someone who is unarmed, but in a survival situation, wether it be in the woods or in an urban "SHTF" scenario it's too big and slow with only six rounds. Yes there's lot's of 44mag ammo to scavenge, but if you're lucky enough to have plenty, the ammo is also heavy. If you have speed loaders, more weight. In a survival situation ounces add up to pounds real fast. I could go on, but I would rather see the article written again for real. Just my opinion.

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from WSU in NM wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I found a new Springfield a few months ago and it was a lot closer to $700 than it was $200.
Why wasn't the S&W model 63 not on the list?

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from NWM wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Why would you put a VFG on an M4 if you are going to grab it by the mag well? If you aren't going to use it, ditch the grip and the extra weight.

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from GoldToyBox wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Some good thoughts and choices but it's mostly just a list of the advertizers.
Lots of weapons would be a good choice but with the wieght of ammo ... a .22 cal rifle/pistol would be hard to beat.

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from Henry Clark wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I would have to go along with DSMbirdog. Excellent choice all around.

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from dawg57 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Make that a 3 inch cylinder

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from dawg57 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

The Judge also comes with a 3 inch chamber.

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from cjohnsrud wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Good luck finding the Mossberg Flex. Not on the market for us folks yet. Just sayin'.

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from Augustheat wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Instead of the AK I would go with an SKS...cheaper...easier to clean...more accurate (just my crappy opinion)...an a great deer gun to boot. I have a pistol from the list (again I go with revolvers because of lessening the chance of a jamb) and the 870 or the 500 for the shotguns... good overall list with a lot of thought put into it.

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from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I generally would want a 357 revolver w/ a 4 inch barrel. A 22LR bolt action would be good for small game. My 870 Wingmaster and a good 30-06.

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from GoldToyBox wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Some good thoughts and choices but it's mostly just a list of the advertizers.
Lots of weapons would be a good choice but with the wieght of ammo ... a .22 cal rifle/pistol would be hard to beat.

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from 3030shttr wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I am with Jason W. and Robert D....probably kill myself trying to move the arsenal from one place to another though...one thing to remember about a firearm is how simple are the interior mechanics. You don't want malfunctions that cannot be repaired. Glock pistols are very simple inside even to the point of replacing a firing pin (I am a Glock armorer and they don't back anyone doing anything unless you have their blessing ie. certificate but hey, in a survival situation all that certificate is good for is starting a fire..) Marlin rifles are also very simple as are Remington pump shotguns with exchangeable barrels..revolvers and bolt guns are usually pretty easy too. Stay away from SigSauer-extremely complicated inside....just my .02

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from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I generally would want a 357 revolver w/ a 4 inch barrel. A 22LR bolt action would be good for small game. My 870 Wingmaster and a good 30-06.

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from Kody wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

What exactly is the situation that I am suppose to be surviving? Unless the world as we know it comes apart most of us need never consider survival situations other than those that may befall us on a hunting trip where things go wrong. In that circumstance, we have our goose hunting gun or our big game rifle in hand. Meaning we have everything covered in terms of necessary firepower. If we are at all risk conscious we have a some of the bare essentials with us on any such outing.... flashlight, matches or a lighter and fire starting material, a knife, a compass and such. I tend to agree with one of the contributors to this forum article who suggests this is heavy on advertisement and short on reality for the topic it claims to address. The truth be known none of these toys are a substitute for some common sense and composure in the face of unexpected and frightening events. Those forum members with a military background can surely attest to the accuracy of that statement better than the rest of us!

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from WSU in NM wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

There are all kinds of situations to prepare for. Could be like the 1918 flu epidemic,could be blizzard in the NE, hurricanes in the SE, droughts or floods in the midwest, or earthquakes on the West coast. I personally have experienced two earthquakes, a volcanic eruption,a week evacuation due to a forest fire and a week long below zero power outage. Firearms are important, but not at the top of my list.Food, water, shelter, and alternate fuel are. When it is below zero and you have no gas or electricity,you can't shoot cold or a fire that is threatening your community. You can go hunting though if the food supply is contaminated.
Handloading can improve the performance of any cartridge especially the 9mm.

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from Bob Hansen wrote 2 years 20 hours ago

Hi...

Okay, here's my two kopeks worth on the ONE survival weapon I would prefer.

That's a 12 guage shotgun. Simple, eh? Slugs for big game...or "other" things that go bump in the night. Buckshot for the same use...(kinda like firing a handful of .45s)...!!

And, of course, smaller shot for smaller game.

That should cover most bases for most of North America.

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from 1pathfinder wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I feel as though you should choose the right weapon for the right situation. If your going to mobil you would need travel light. By that I mean the weapon of choice would bee 22 LR or 22 MAG. You can carry so much ammo for it's light. Just be sure to but the good stuff not the cheap lead. The second on my list is a good 12 GA shotgun or 20 GA. You can take that and high powered shells and it's very deadly out to 20-30 yards, and throw in some buckshot or slugs and your out their. For handguns I carry a 1911 Colt MDL 70 and my second choice is a Ruger Mark. One other thing one should consider is a good blade. Their is allot of good steel out their on the market but in pocket knife is a CASE and the one on my side is 6" CASE XXRAZOR. Always remember a bll bat swings better than a rifle, so should you not have plenty of ammo for each weapons just buy a couple of ball bats.

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from cjohnsrud wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Good luck finding the Mossberg Flex. Not on the market for us folks yet. Just sayin'.

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from dawg57 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Make that a 3 inch cylinder

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from Jason Wilder wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Really the manufacturer of a firearm is only as important as so far as the firearm is accurate, reliable, and of such quality as to be durable. Haveing said that my picks would be a good 22LR rifle and pistol for the light weight and cost factors. A good 30-06 Hunting rifle or 308, but I preffer the 30-06 personaly as it gives an edge with heaveyer bullets. A good simi-Auto handgun 9mm or better, and a good revolver 357mag.,44mag., and either the 460S&W or the 500S&W. A good rifle in a large enough caliber to stop even the biggest and meanest bear or whatever. A pump shotgun set up for any bird huntting, Deer hunting, and selfdefense. Inother words a shotgun with a 28" barrel with screw in chocks, a rifled slug barrel, and a short Improved Cylinder Barrel.

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from gmarkum wrote 2 years 2 days ago

When I hit the woods I carry a Taurus Tracker .44 Magnum in a Diamond D Guides Choice chest rig. It is small enough to carry and big enough to count. I keep the first round loaded up with a CCI shot shell for critters I might find tasty along the way. If it is long term, add my Ruger 10/22 with a folding stock into the mix and I am content. I have other military grade weapons in the safe if I need to defend me and mine, but that will not likely be in the woods.

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from ILikePike wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Any brand basically, a good 12 ga. pump and a good accurate bolt action high powered rifle. I guess it would depend on the situation also. A bow and arrow could also work.

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from mschn001 wrote 31 weeks 10 hours ago

I'd go with a small caliber rifle or an AR over any of the pistols. I think the AR platforms are the most versatile across a wider range of survival situations. Pistols are too limited in range.

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from Charles Johnson wrote 15 weeks 4 days ago

One of the above mentioned he didn't like the AR as a survival gun. The US put many, many million in the design and improvement of Eugene Stoner's invention and I think the job was well done. Is it the best, no but I doubt you will need the best. Good will get you through virtually anything you will encounter and there is little doubt the AR platform is better than just good. I am a Viet Nam Vet, so I have used an M16 in the way it was designed. It is a good weapon and I would not think twice about having one in my survival kit if ever I was to need one. Truth of the matter is there are a number of outstanding weapons available to US Citizens (well most US Citizens) To qualify as a survival weapon what ever you choose needs to function with little or no maintance. An M16 or AR platform will do that. You can run a patch down the barrel and you are good to go for a long time. However common sense says when ever you can do maintenance on an item that could mean the difference between life or death one should find the time no matter the circumstances to do better than basic maintenance. There are a large number of arm chair cowboys who will argue the smallest of points about what ever weapon they would want to take to their final days adventure. The best choice would be first to find a way where it would not be your terminal event as a human being. That said, proper aim, controlled breathing and squeezing the trigger is more important than what you packing on your last day, or who made it. If you are going to have to fight you way out, first make certain you can hit what you are going to have to shoot. Weapons Manufactures (In the US)are for the most part all pretty good, at least those who are subject to a lawsuit in the US Court system are. Simply stated it is simpler for a manufacturer to make a quality product than it is for them to defend a bunch of lawsuits. IT IS SIMPLE ECONOMICS. The chances of you having to low crawl through the swamp is not all that important as most people are smart enough to find a trail to walk around the swamp. Find a US Made weapon of medium caliber, stock up enough ammo say 1000 rounds (which would be enough for multiple patrols (thinking 200 rounds a person, per patrol) and then find something else to worry about. Like is your car going to make it through the woods, do you have access to multiple sources of food and water to sustain you and your family and don't forget your good buddy who will not have planned and who will want to share what you have. Then there is your brother in law etc. etc. You get my point?

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from Henry Clark wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I would have to go along with DSMbirdog. Excellent choice all around.

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from Robert Deioma wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

There are some very nice weapons on this list, but sorry Tim there are some that just don't belong on a "Survival" list. I'll point out the most obvious as the Redhawk 44magnum. Come on. Really? It's a beautiful weapon, but NOT a survival weapon. Way too heavy. Way too wasteful for space in carrying. It may be intimidating to someone who is unarmed, but in a survival situation, wether it be in the woods or in an urban "SHTF" scenario it's too big and slow with only six rounds. Yes there's lot's of 44mag ammo to scavenge, but if you're lucky enough to have plenty, the ammo is also heavy. If you have speed loaders, more weight. In a survival situation ounces add up to pounds real fast. I could go on, but I would rather see the article written again for real. Just my opinion.

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from wgiles wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Unless you are active military in a behind enemy lines survival situation, I would not recommend any of the pistols or semiautomatic weapons. There are too many things that can go wrong with them that you can't fix in the field. If I did carry a pistol, it would probably be a Smith & Wesson K frame revolver. My personal choice for a survival firearm would be a good bolt action .22 rimfire. I have an AR-7, had it for 40 years. It's fun to shoot, but bulky and not very accurate. I miss a lot of squirrels with it. .22 Long Rifle ammunition is cheap and light. There is no real reason not to have 50 or 100 rounds. I would be tempted to carry something bigger in bear country and that might be a revolver or the Marlin 1895 GS in Grizzly bear country.

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from Kody wrote 2 years 1 week ago

I am frequently impressed by the the diverse points of view and knowledge that contributors bring to this forum. I see WSU and 3030 making very sensible contributions to the discussion. One fellow bases his opinion upon experience with natural disasters that have forced him to focus on the realities of survival circumstances. 3030 guy, who makes his living repairing firearms, says the best survival gun is the one least likely to breakdown.. ie the least complicated firearms have less to go wrong. I have my share of opinions but have learned to defer to expert advice. Thanks guys!

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from spg1026 wrote 2 years 5 days ago

My pick for a handgun would be either a 357 magnum revolver: my Ruger Blackhawk single action fits this perfectly (actually has the 9mm extra cylinder); or a 1911 45. Either handgun provides the user easy to find ammunition or supplies to hand load. Either also provides the power to put down game or fight off 2 leg predators. Hard choice to pick one but I love my Kimber 1911 so much if I had to choose that's what I would pick.
Rifle choice would come down to be a semi-auto 22lr such as a Ruger 10/22 (high-capacity and ultra ammo availability; 30-30 lever action (for power and high ammo availability); or a possibly an AR-15 orAR-10 . My pick if just would be 30-30 due to my prior experience with it and high reliability of the action(either Winchester or Marlin).
The shotgun would be either a 20 or 12 gauge pump Mossberg for no other reason I have a 20 gauge pump Mosssberg.

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from Dawson Lee wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

I would want my S&W MP serries M4 223 and about 100000000000000000 rounds for Deer. And my Glock 17 pistol and a 700 nitro express for rabbits

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from Frank2012 wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

I prefer A Marlin.22CAL bolt action with 3-9*32 or 40 scope with over & under see through rings. it's for small game to medium such as rabbits to Caribou, plus you can buy lots of ammunition & it's light to carry. plus H&R 410 ga with 3" chamber, can do just about anything with it, shoot game from small to big game plus fowl game, ammunition i prefer #4 or #6 & slugs for big game, also ammunition is light to carry you can buy lots of these shells. Oh dont forget to carry a Bushnell-Arbor bore sighter kit at all times! :)

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from dubyadd wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

all these guns except for the 22's are very costly and make noise. If an armed band of bullies show up they might kill you to get your food. I keep an air gun, cross bow and even a hunting sling shot handy. You never run out of rocks!

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from bellamgs wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I live in the new Madrid seismic zone, for those who don't know the last set of bad earthquakes here lasted about 3 months. So I've given survival some thought. Agreed, first and foremost is food/water/fuel. But with respect to guns, the ar is a very bad choice. 1st, very complicated action, lots of smallparts, heavy maintenance. A better choice would be the ruger mini-14 if you must have a survival gun in .223/5.65nato. very few moving parts, self cleaning gas chamber, garand action is like an anvil. Is it as accurate-no. can it be used skillfully for hunting varmints of the 4 and 2 legged kind? absolutely. For small game I have a 40 year old Winchester .22lr single shot bolt action, gets the job done, for deer/hogs/ whatever, a marlin 336 in 30-30. pistol, a s&w mod. 640 in 357mag. all the bases covered with simple designs that require little maintiance. But to reiterate, I really think the mini is a much better choice for a self defence carbine, unless you are a gunsmith.

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from LonePine wrote 36 weeks 5 hours ago

If I knew then . . .Carbine, Marlin 357 mag lever action. Revolver, Ruger SP101 357 mag revolver. 22LR rifle, anything comfortable, with a QUALITY scope. And, lots,Lots,LOTS of ammo.

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from Augustheat wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Instead of the AK I would go with an SKS...cheaper...easier to clean...more accurate (just my crappy opinion)...an a great deer gun to boot. I have a pistol from the list (again I go with revolvers because of lessening the chance of a jamb) and the 870 or the 500 for the shotguns... good overall list with a lot of thought put into it.

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from dawg57 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

The Judge also comes with a 3 inch chamber.

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from NWM wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Why would you put a VFG on an M4 if you are going to grab it by the mag well? If you aren't going to use it, ditch the grip and the extra weight.

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from WSU in NM wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I found a new Springfield a few months ago and it was a lot closer to $700 than it was $200.
Why wasn't the S&W model 63 not on the list?

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from John S. wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

For a pistol I would say either .22 or 9mm just for the ease of getting and carrying ammo. A shotgun can be used for a multitude of shooting scenario's especially if you have a model where the barrel swaps out with a rifled barrel.
Up here in Canada a Lee Enfield .303 british is good for any north american big game.

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from Gallowshumour wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

The .22-over-.410 M6 Scout and Model 24 Savage aren't in production anymore, and those that have them won't let them go. I'm pinning my hopes on the new Savage Model 42 .22-over-.410. Similar to the 24 but with a plastic stock.

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from scoony24 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I have three guns on this list...the 870, the 500, and the Ruger 10/22.

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from charliedakota wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I'd lose the 9mm's - the cartridge isn't much good as a people shooter or as a game getter either.

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from tritonrider wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Savage model 24 combination would be a nice choice in .22/20 gauge.
Reliable, simple, versatile, and fairly accurate at reasonable ranges.

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from Triston Palensky wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

i would use a small caliber like 22.cal for small game. Then in dangerous situtions i would use a hi.point 40.

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from Tc505 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I found a nice survival long guns last year, being a revolving shotgun handling .410 and .45 l.c.. I have no problems with heavy pistols as long as not packed on the hip for other emergencies. after a while they tend to get pretty heavy on the legs cutting down travel time. depending on the amount of ammo you want to pack the smaller is a little better since the .410 is a lot easier to pack a few boxes of shells but the drawback is that most of these little combo guns handle only the 2.5" shells which are great for small game. 12 ga guns capable of handling both the slugs and shot shell (improved cylinder to keep from messing the barrel up) are ok but more than 2 boxes of ammo gets pretty heavy. the ak 47 could have been left off. I have one and you can't hit the broad side of a barn with it due to the chrome lined bore. it does hit hard but at 50 yards it hits all over the board no matter how you set the scope up on it--so definitely wouldn't be my first choice. another thing to look at is stuff like the marlin 882/883 .22 mags are good solid guns but the 882 has magazines that need to be modified since they usually come as 7 rd mags. a little modification to them allows 9 rounds to be carried in the mag but the mag catch leaves a lot to be desired since carrying with an arm near it will cause the mag to drop out costing you ammo and a way to shoot more than one round (watch snow walker since that is what he uses and loses). the 883 is a tube fed so much safer.

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from GuyGene wrote 2 years 1 week ago

When I think of survival, I think of getting something to eat/drink (gun might not help with the water), therefore, I think of small, therefore, I think of my Ruger 22LR pistol. I can carry a lot of 22LR shells in my pocket or backpack, it will kill a heap of edible crits, is accurate out to about 30 yards or maybe more, and small enough to holster and carry. Mine in the Mark II model, very reliable. Now, I am not talking about defending myself against bears here, just real survival. Where I live and wander, it will suffice; and no talk about it not being good enough for the two-legged kind of varmints who might want to do harm - it will work.

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from Javier Ramos wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

i think as far as guns go a 12 guage shotgun fits the bill nicely i personaly wouldnt need much more than an 18.5 inch shotgun light enough to travel enough punch to take on nearly anything you might encounter wildlife or otherwise its great to carry if your walkin those trails out there but other than a shotgun i'd definetly be packin one or all of my blades(i have 3 a millitary fighting knife survival knife and my little bootknife which is handy in a pinch)now if were talkin handguns then definetly a revolver ruger blackhawk convertable because both .357 and 9 mils are extremely common ammunition type and itd be nice to pop off a 9 when you dont need the magnum round well i suppose thats my two cents for this neat little post

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from Ivan RoachCoach wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

For a shotgun, I'll take a single-shot H&R 12 gauge --- no wasted shells by spraying & praying. If you can't hit what you're pointing at with a scattergun, you're REALLY in trouble.
Rifle? Mosin Nagant M44 carbine --- kicks like amule, hits like a .30-06 & killed more Nazis than the Russian winter. Ammo is ultra-cheap, too.
For a pistol I'd go for either any 9mm for easy ammo availability or a Taurus PT145 .45 ACP & make every shot count.

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from joiner wrote 29 weeks 2 days ago

The shorty AR, with a .22lr conversion unit, with luminous iron sights, a trigger job, a carry handle mounted scope (removable carry handle) with a see- thru scope base, is by far the most versatile longarm available. There are no effective flashhiders or sound suppressors for shotguns and there never will be, either. The hole thru the baffles has to be so big that a lot of noise escapes. Or you'll need a 'can" that is 3" in OD and 20" long for the 12 ga, which sort of ruins the "fast handling" part of it. :-) Such a can is so heavy that the thin shotgun barrel can't be threaded to support it.

Also, shotgun shells are supersonic, so you'll get big "sonic boom" with them, in spite of the can. All that handicap, for something that's best suited for shooting birds out of the air? Better to trap birds, fish, and game, and have a fighting rifle, as well as subsonic .22lr ammo for the conversion unit.

If it's not WROL, then all you need is a pocket pistol, cause you can get help in 2-3 days just by having a smoky fire most of those days.

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from nitrojoe wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Getting so tired of all the "survival" gear and articles.

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