The perfect survival gun doesn’t exist. There are so many survival scenarios that might crop up that no one firearm can be expected to handle every contingency better than all its peers. But you can tailor your personal “bug-out” guns to the situations you’re most likely to encounter, whether it’s in the Brooks Range in Alaska or in the dark hallways of your house in the dead of night. Common to all survival guns, however, is the need for rugged dependability, and by that standard the firearms listed here measure up.
Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle
The scout rifle is perhaps the purest centerfire survival rifle you can find. Everything about its design is geared toward all-around use. Its compact length makes it handy and easy to carry.
With a forward-mounted, low-magnification scope, you can shoot quickly and accurately with both eyes open out to 300 yards. And it’s difficult to imagine a more versatile cartridge than the .308. Ruger’s model, designed with input from the instructors at Gunsite, is fed by either a 5- or 10-round magazine, and unlike other scout rifles, it carries a reasonable price tag. ($995; ruger.com)
Springfield Armory XD(M)
I’m not sure what you’d have to do to actually break one of these pistols, short of driving over it with a tank–and even then I wouldn’t be surprised if after you pried it out of the dirt it still worked. The striker-fired, polymer-framed pistol incorporates numerous safety mechanisms and has an accessory rail molded into the frame. The XD(M) family includes .45, .40 and 9mm models. My personal XD(M) is the 3.8 in 9mm. It conceals well, points great and comes with two 19-round magazines. The XD(M) kit includes a paddle holster, mag holders and inserts for adjusting the size of the grip. ($697; springfieldarmory.com)
FNH SLP Mark 1
The extended magazine gives the FNH SLP Mark 1 shotgun an 8-round capacity with 2 3⁄4-inch shells and 7 rounds with 3-inch shells. Coupled with its fast-cycling and reliable gas-operated action, this gun has become a favorite on the 3-gun circuit, where it has proven itself in competition under grueling conditions. These same qualities make it a great option for a survival gun. It has a 22-inch barrel and a compact 43-inch overall length. Empty, the gun weighs a bit more than 8 pounds. It has a cross-bolt safety, takes interchangeable choke tubes and has a cantilever rail for mounting optics. ($1,299; fnhusa.com)