It isn’t a question of whether to keep a stash of survival guns, but a question of which ones. Check your list for the ones you’re missing in this roundup of the best survival guns!
Survival Guns You Need to Have Handy In Case SHTF
Yes, You Need More Than Just One Survival Gun
Do you own a master-of-all-trades weapon? A rifle with which you can take a large and small game? How about one that can defend your family and home from an attacker or multiple attackers?
Something that is accurate enough for long-range shooting, but something handy enough for close-range fighting? What about a weapon you can carry with you without anyone knowing?
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If there is a weapon out there that can do all this, I want it, and I want it bad. Unfortunately, there isn’t a survival gun or weapon I know of that has all of these traits.
A lot of weapons can be jacks-of-all-trades and can fit several requirements. However, they master very fewer of them and even then probably not fulfill them all.
You can what-if me all day with things like “my folding stock means I can fit it under my trench coat or in my duffle bag.” Well, any guy in a trench coat is suspicious, and any gun in a duffel bag isn’t exactly on hand.
So since we don’t have one gun to rule them all, we get the joy of justifying owning multiple guns to our significant others. If you can’t look at your spouse and say, “Honey, it’s for the zombies,” then why get married in the first place?
I’m going to give a rundown of the weapon types that I think everyone should own for when things get tough or just to have a respectable gun collection. Few of us need an excuse to own another weapon though. I’m simply listing broad types since the actual weapons will always be up to debate.
The one thing all of the guns need to have in common is a shared and easy-to-find stockpile ammo. I love the 22-250 round. It’s expensive but readily available, so I don’t stockpile it. Now, the .308 is incredibly common, and surplus rounds are relatively affordable.
Take a look at the survival guns you need in your survival arsenal or simply, must have guns for collection:
Number 1. Combat Rifle
This could be the most important firearm you could ever own. This rifle can be used for defense and hunting. With proper shot placement, even smaller rounds like the 5.56 are good for hunting medium game. This rifle should be magazine fed, semi-automatic, accurate out to a minimum of 300 meters, and chambered in a center-fire rifle cartridge.
The magazine should also be detachable to ensure not only quick and easy reloads, but also because owning multiple magazines means one can break, and you’ll have extras. The magazine should have a capacity of no less than twenty rounds unless of course, you live in a state that you need to vote the politicians out of.
The weapon should feature dependable iron sights, and though not required, a quality optic should be able to be mounted. Rifles like the Browning BAR (not the machine gun) are a great hunting rifle, but a substandard battle rifle.
Your combat rifle will be your go-to gun when both four, and two-legged predators come calling. This rifle must be trusted and dependable. If you were only going to own one gun, this should be the survival rifle you own.
Examples: AR-15, HK-91, AK-47, M1A/M14, Galil ARM in either .308 or .223, FN SCAR 16/17
Number 2: Shotgun
A shotgun is an excellent hunting weapon that has been used by police and military for combat for over a hundred years. The application of a shotgun is limited due to its range, but up close you are unlikely to find a more devastating weapon.
The different types of shot you can fire from this weapon really make it versatile though. Small game-like squirrels and bird can be taken with birdshot, and the weapon can be instantly loaded with buckshot without any modification to take down a medium game. With the use of ‘rifle slugs’, this weapon can even be accurate out to 75-100 yards.
What kind of shotgun should you own? Here is the point I feel pretty flexible on. I prefer a pump-action like the Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, as these weapons have proven to be tough and reliable. I really don’t see a problem with double barrels though, besides their limited self-defense aptitude.
There are some great combat shotguns, like the Saiga and Benelli models, but their hunting applications are limited. Remingtons and Mossbergs both can very easily swap barrels and parts to be fine-tuned for hunting or defense.
Now, what gauge? The 12 gauge is great and my preferred caliber, but if you can’t handle it, then I suggest the 20 gauge. Anyone can handle a 20 gauge, and it’s powerful enough for most things. The best thing is to just have a good, dependable shotgun.
Examples: Mossberg 500, Remington 870, Stevens/Savage 511, Benelli Super-90
Number 3. Handgun
A handgun is a niche weapon, but the niche is very important to fill. The handgun may be a backup weapon when wielding the rifle, but it’s also the ace in your pocket. A concealed handgun gives you an advantage when carrying a rifle openly isn’t a choice. A handgun is also a great choice when you’re doing day-to-day tasks where a rifle would just get in the way. A handgun is one of those weapons that are there to help you survive and fight your way to a rifle or out of a situation.
So what kind of handgun should you choose? The weapon should fire a center-fire cartridge, and I believe the minimum should be 9mm. The 9mm is a good fighting caliber, easy to handle for the majority of people, including women and young adults.
Furthermore, the 9mm is the preferred choice of almost every nation on earth as the sidearm for their military, so finding ammo will NOT be a problem! Now the debate between automatic and revolver is going to appear. This will be personal preference, and nothing I say will ever finish this battle.
I prefer the .45 ACP for my automatics and the .357 magnum for my revolvers. Both rounds have a history of being good man-stoppers. My favorite and personal preference is 1911. Glocks, Smith and Wesson M&Ps, and Sigs are great modern choices as well.
The weapon should not be a little pocket pistol. The LC9 is a great gun for concealed carry during normal situations, but you may find yourself under gunned after the lights go out.
Examples: 1911, Springfield Armory (.45ACP) HK UMP .45ACP, S&W M&P, Glocks
Number 4. Long-Range Rifle
This rifle ranks kind of low for the simple reason that your combat rifle can probably take care of this. The combat rifle may not be the master of long-range shooting, but it could fill the role in a pinch. Your long-range rifle should be capable of placing precision shots at a minimum of 600 meters; farther shooting will depend on your skill level. I feel 600 meters is easy for most people with a precision rifle and an optic.
The rifle should be chambered in a center-fire cartridge that is capable of taking down a medium-to-large game. I prefer the 308 and 30-06; due to my location, I don’t need anything bigger like a 300 Winchester magnum. Choosing your caliber will be based on your needs for a game and how far you can skillfully shoot. The U.S. Military, as well as other militaries, are now moving to the .338 Lapua Magnum as a long-range ‘sniper’ weapon capable in the right hands to hits on man-sized targets from 800-1200 yards. These weapons in this caliber nor the ammo are inexpensive, but if you can afford it there is nothing like the feeling of being able to “reach out and touch someone” at 1200 yards that might be a threat and that your environment gives you the ability to see the threat coming at that range!
I believe a bolt-action rifle fed from a detachable or internal magazine is optimum for this role. The rifle should have a scope mounted and be zeroed. A bipod is helpful and downright just nice to have when shooting from the prone.
Examples: Winchester Model 70, Remington 700, AR-30, M40A3, Nighthawk Tactical .338 Lapua Magnum, Barrett 98/Bravo .338 Lapua Magnum
Number 5: The Rimfire
A good rimfire rifle is incredibly handy. The compact size of the rounds means hundreds can be carried without significant weight. The rounds are great for taking small game. They are also incredibly inexpensive and should be stocked up on prior to SHTF. In a defensive situation, it can be a last resort.
I’d recommend a .22 long rifle over a .17 HMR or .22 magnum, mainly because of availability and price. The weapon can be bolt, lever, or semi-automatic it’s all the shooter’s choice. The same goes with a magazine, single shot, or tube fed. A cheap scope on one of these is a force multiplier and perfect for a short-range precision shot (like a rabbit’s head).
Examples: Ruger 10/22, Marlin 60, Henry Lever Gun
Number 6: Surplus Style
A surplus weapon is a handy weapon to have for a few reasons. For one, the ammo is probably readily available and inexpensive. Two, the weapon itself is probably cheap and in low demand.
The surplus weapon can be handy as a backup rifle should you get low on ammo stores. The weapon can also be used to arm a trusted but ill-equipped neighbor or family member. Surplus weapons are also amazingly durable, as most were built during a time when fighting was in trenches and hand-to-hand combat was commonplace.
Examples: Mosin Nagant, SKS, Makarov, M-1 Carbine No. 5 Enfield Jungle Carbine
Watch this entertaining and possibly insightful video from MoJo for the top 10 must-have guns for surviving the zombie apocalypse:
These are the survival guns I keep for when things get tough. Nowhere near a comprehensive list, but these are all under $300 and would serve perfectly if you had to defend yourself and fend for food in the middle of nowhere. Having a variety of weapons helps when it comes to the expenditure of ammo, and multiple guns can fill multiple niches. Plus, who doesn’t like more survival guns?
Do you have any favorites among the survival guns listed here? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 3, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.