Best Survival Guns: Handguns, Shotguns and Rifles for the Survivalist
Any gun is a survival gun in a survival situation, but we'd pick one of these if we had our druthers
This full-sized 9mm is bigger than the Glock 36, and it is another popular handgun with law enforcement officers. It weighs in at 32 ounces with a full magazine of 17 rounds. The heavier overall weight means reduced recoil, making this handgun a great choice for new shooters. The average retail price is about $440. Take care of this gun and it will take care of you, for a long, long time.
The .40 M&P is indeed a fun gun to shoot. It has an extremely comfortable grip and an ample grip tang to protect your hand. The recoil is unusually light, especially for a polymer-framed .40 caliber pistol. The magazine holds 15 rounds. It retails right under $600.
The Judge revolver shoots both .45 Long Colt loads and .410 shells. It’s perfect for snake country loaded with .410s, and is devastating as a close-quarters self-defense handgun when loaded with either .45s or .410 shells. One limiting factor is that the longest shell it will carry is 2 ½ inches, but with the variety of loads on the market in this length, it’s not a deal breaker. The Judge weighs 37 ounces and is 9½ inches long so it’s not exactly concealed carry material, but it should find a home in your go-bag. It retails for $600.
The Redhawk .44 Magnum revolver is a double-action powerhouse. The stainless steel construction is strong enough to handle the Magnum loads and whatever the outdoors can throw at it. The Redhawk also makes a formidable sidearm as a bear back-up and for self defense. Several models are available, all holding 6 rounds, and ranging from 46 to 54 ounces and from $990 to $1,050.
The 590 Mariner is a 9-shot 12 gauge that shoots great and has a reasonable price tag, just under $500. You may find it as a kit, including a pistol grip to replace the stock for use in tighter spaces. It fires 3-inch or 2¾-inch shells, and like other Mossbergs, can be tricked out with lots of accessories. It weighs 7 pounds empty and has a 20-inch stainless barrel, making it an ideal gun for harsh costal environments and a good option to throw in the boat on wilderness trips.
Great action, short barrel, light weight, reasonable price–I think we just found our best value in a tactical shotgun. The Winchester Super X Pump Defender is very comparable to the tactical Mossbergs, though you might save a few bucks depending on which model you choose. The Defender has non-glare metal surfaces with a tough composite stock and forearm. It can also be accessorized with quite a few bells and whistles. It holds 6 shots, 5 in the tube and one in the chamber; it weighs 6 pounds 4 ounces empty; and it retails for $400.
This well-made tactical shotgun can handle everything from light 2¾-inch load to 3½-inch magnum loads. My only beef: It only holds 5 shells. The model with the 18½-inch barrel weighs 7.2 pounds. This gun ranges from $400 to $600, depending on which model you choose.
The semi-auto Weatherby SA-459 TR is available in 12 and 20 gauge. Both models have a pistol grip butt stock, a fiber optic blade front sight and a removable rear sight with ghost ring. The synthetic stock keeps the empty weight low (6½ pounds for the 12 gauge) with an 18½-inch barrel. It sells for $700. This gun is a sweet shooter and won the 2011 Great Buy award in Outdoor Life’s 2011 Gun Test.
Active military, former military and civilians alike love this widely available version of the M-4. The Bushmaster AR-15 rifle shoots both 5.56mm and .223-caliber rounds. The price starts at $1,200 and goes on up, if you can find them. Thanks to a number of aluminum and synthetic parts, its empty weight is just 7.56 pounds. If the 30-round magazine doesn’t get the job done, you’ve got bigger problems than a single rifle can handle. Pictured: M4 A2 (above) and M4 A3 (below)
This clever gun breaks down and all of its parts store nicely in the butt stock. Like the original US Survival Rifle, this latest take on the semi-auto survival gun is light and portable at 3½ pounds and just 16½ inches when all the components are stowed. It comes with two 8-round magazines. This rifle would fit easily in a backpack or BOB, and because it’s chambered in .22 LR, you can carry a large quantity of ammunition, without adding much weight to your gear. Look for this rifle to retail for $275.
The ubiquitous 10/22 could be the only small game rifle you’ll ever need. It comes with a 10-round rotary magazine, but aftermarket 50-round magazines are available for about $20. There is a massive after market for this gun, with many options for target barrels, scope mounts, replacement stocks, trigger assemblies, etc. Starting at $200, this rifle will keep your stew pot full for cheap.
The Marlin 1985GS is a lever-action .45/70 carbine that can take on any kind of game and any kind of weather. This stainless steel 4 shot has an 18½-inch barrel with an overall length of just 37 inches. It weighs 7 pounds, and the average retail price is about $660. This is big game-dropping power in a short, weatherproof gun; and it’s got “survival in bear country” written all over it.
The Marlin Papoose is a semi-auto .22 rifle that breaks down compactly. You can literally take it apart and put it back together in a matter of seconds. It features stainless steel construction and a rugged fiberglass-filled black synthetic stock. The Papoose has a 7-shot magazine, and is a very accurate shooter. The break down barrel is a snap to clean, and the gun comes with a floating case. It’s a featherweight at 3¼ pounds. The asking price averages around $270.