Is your arsenal of guns and ammo going to be enough when SHTF? How can you be certain the survival weapon you’ve chosen is right for you?
In this article:
The Best Survival Guns and Ammo for Your Arsenal
Six Ideal Survival Guns for Survival Situations
How much confidence do you have in your survival gun? Is it multipurpose? Can you use it for hunting large and small game? Will it do the job if you ever have to defend your home and family from an attacker? Is your survival weapon accurate when shooting long-range? Can it be used up close if needed? Can you carry it with you discreetly?
In a perfect world, there would be a weapon that could do every one of these things, and choosing a survival gun would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. Instead, we have to choose our guns and ammo carefully based on the criteria that are most important to us. And for most of us, that usually means owning multiple weapons. (Not necessarily a bad thing.)
I can’t tell you what type of survival gun to buy—only you can decide that. What I can do is give you a rundown of the types of guns and ammo I think everyone should own, what they’re used for, and why I think you need one.
1. The Combat Rifle
Examples: AR-15, HK-91, AK-47, M1A/M14, Galil ARM in either .308 or .223, FN SCAR 16/17
Uses: Defense and hunting
What to look for when choosing a combat rifle: magazine-fed, semi-auto, minimum 300-meter accuracy, center-fired rifle cartridge, a detachable gun's magazine with capacity for at least 20 rounds (if legal in your state), dependable iron sights.
Bottom line: A good combat rifle makes an ideal go-to weapon for both hunting and self-defense, so this is not a weapon you want to scrimp on. If you’re only going to have one survival gun, this should be it.
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2. The Shotgun
Examples: Mossberg 500, Remington 870, Stevens/Savage 511, Benelli Super-90
Uses: Typically a hunting weapon, but often used in combat as well. Best for up-close shooting.
What to look for when choosing a shotgun: 12 gauge (or 20 gauge for less experienced shooters)
Bottom line: This is a really a versatile survival weapon with many variables. I prefer pump-action, double barrel guns, but other types are great too. Shotguns have great accuracy and are easy to shoot, but may not be the best choice as personal defense guns.
3. The Handgun
Examples: 1911, Springfield Armory (.45ACP) HK UMP .45ACP, S&W M&P, Glock
Uses: Concealed carry, day-to-day shooting, self-defense, a backup weapon to a rifle
What to look for when choosing a handgun: Center-fire cartridge, minimum 9mm, .45 ACP for automatic or .357 magnum for the revolver.
Bottom line: A handgun is a must-have for self-defense and survival, especially if you want to conceal carry (which you should). Ammo for 9mm handguns is abundant, which is a huge plus. 9mm’s are also easy enough to handle for women and young adults. The debate between automatic and revolver is never-ending, but it all comes down to personal preference.
4. The Long-Range Rifle
Examples: Winchester Model 70, Remington 700, AR-30, M40A3, Nighthawk Tactical .338 Lapua Magnum, Barrett 98/Bravo .338 Lapua Magnum
Uses: Long-range precision shooting and hunting
What to look for when choosing a long-range rifle: Center-fire cartridge, ability to take down medium to large game, 308 or 30-06 (my preferences; your needs may vary depending on your environment and skill), accuracy.
Bottom line: If you have a combat rifle, it’s debatable whether you need a long-range rifle too. But these guns are great for shooting big game at a distance, and the US military even uses some long-range rifles as sniper weapons. These weapons and their ammo aren’t cheap, but in certain situations and environments, it’s worth the investment.
5. The Rimfire
Examples: Ruger 10/22, Marlin 60, Henry Lever Gun
Uses: Small game and last-resort self-defense
What to look for when choosing a rimfire rifle: A .22 is your best bet. Bolt, lever, semi-auto, magazine, single shot, or tube fed all comes down to personal preference.
Bottom line: This is a handy gun, compact, and easy to shoot and carry. It’s also inexpensive and ammo is easy to come by. A .22 is a great “starter gun” for novice shooters.
6. Surplus Style
Examples: Mosin Nagant, SKS, Makarov, M-1 Carbine No. 5 Enfield Jungle Carbine
Uses: Backup weapon, good for novice or ill-equipped shooters (in other words, when SHTF, you can loan it to someone you trust)
What to look for when choosing a surplus weapon: This will depend on the specific weapon, since surplus weapons can come in a variety of styles. Generally, stick with the recommendations listed for other guns.
Bottom line: In general, ammo for surplus weapons is cheap and readily available. The weapons themselves are in low demand, making them inexpensive and easy to find. While not an essential item, a surplus weapon is great to have as backup and is handy, durable, and well-built.
Watch this video by SmallArmsSolutions and take a look at a custom build Combat Rifle:
A well-stocked gun safe with a variety of reliable guns and ammo is essential. In my opinion, these guns are the basics of any decent gun collection. Every gun on this list is affordable (around $300 or less) and would do the trick if needed for self-defense or hunting food. Since each gun serves its own unique purpose, it’s good to have a well-stocked gun safe with plenty of survival weapons to choose from. Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to buy a weapon?
Which of these guns and ammo do you own? Share your experience with it in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 13, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.