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The Best Survival Guns You Could Ever Own

updated by Reaper 01/08/2018

One of the most important elements of prepping, along with food, water, and first aid, is security.  A disaster scenario will be a dangerous time for you and your family, so you must be prepared to protect yourself.  In order to do it, you have to have the necessary tools to do so, and there’s no denying that the best tool to defend yourself with is a gun.

While having just one firearm is better than nothing, if you really want to complete your survival arsenal, you’ll need several, each for a specific purpose. The gun that you use for home-defense is not the same gun that you would use for hunting, for example.

In this article, I’m going to show you t six specific guns that should be in your arsenal, and the reasons to have each gun.

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 .22LR Semi-Auto


The .22 LR is one of the most universal calibers in the United States today.  They’re extremely small, meaning you can literally buy thousands of rounds of ammo and it will take up little space.  The low recoil makes it perfect for teaching new people how to shoot as well as for target practice and plinking.  It’s also the best gun possible for small game hunting and pest control.

No survival arsenal is complete without a .22 rifle, and to be more specific, a .22 semi-automatic rifle.  The top three most common .22 semi-automatic rifles in America today are the Marlin Model 60, the Ruger 10/22, and the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22.  All three are accurate, reliable, and come with a limitless number of aftermarket parts for you to accessorize them as you see fit.

If you’re going to be using an AR-15 as your semi-automatic centerfire rifle (which we’ll talk about later), then it would be wisest to select the M&P15-22 because it’s simply an AR-15 re-chambered for .22 and makes it more convenient for training purposes.  Otherwise, the Marlin and the Ruger are both great rifles that will also last for many generations.  The main difference between them is that the Marlin is tube fed while the Ruger accepts a traditional magazine, so choose based on your personal preference.

Stevens 350 Security Pump Action 12 gauge Shotgun


The next gun you need is a good shotgun.  The shotgun is the next most versatile gun to own if not more so than the .22, because it’s the best home defense gun to own and can also be used for hunting.

When it comes to specifics, go with a shotgun chambered in 12 or 20 gauge.  If you practice with a pump action shotgun long enough you’ll be able to shoot it just as fast as you could a semi-auto.  Besides, the mere sound of the pump racking may be enough to scare some intruders away.

That doesn’t mean you should necessarily rule out semi-automatic shotguns completely, but pump-action shotguns generally cost less than a reliable semi-auto. If money is an issue when it comes to your arsenal, a pump-action shotgun should suit you well.

12 and 20 gauge ammo are both very cheap and plentiful, which is why they are the only shotgun rounds you should consider.  Between the two, 12 gauge has more power but the trade-off is that it has a lot more recoil.  A 20-gauge will still get the job done when it comes to home defense so don’t think you’re not well protected if you go with the 20 Gauge.  If you feel you can handle the recoil of the 12, by all means go with it, but otherwise the 20 Gauge is the wiser option.

When you’re in the market for a pump action shotgun, the top two models to consider are the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870.  Both of these shotguns have been around for over half a century and are enormously popular with civilians and law enforcement personnel alike.  Not only can you find a used Mossberg or Remington in good condition for a dirt-cheap price, but spare parts and accessories are widely available for both guns.

Some models of the 500 and 870 sell with two interchangeable barrels, a short barrel for close quarters home defense and a longer, vented rib choked barrel for hunting and clay shooting.  This will dramatically boost the versatility of the shotgun.

Canik TP9SA 9mm Semi-Auto Pistol


While your pistol should never serve as your primary weapon in a disaster situation (if anything it’s the gun you use to get to your main gun), it should still be on your hip at all times so that you always have a gun with you and you can draw and fire it quickly if danger quickly arises.

There are three strict factors that your semi-automatic pistol must meet:

  1. It must be fully reliable from a reputable brand
  2. It must be common enough so that spare magazines and accessories are not hard to find, and
  3. It must be chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP.

There are other great pistol calibers out there, but these are the three are most available. This means that they’re not only the cheapest to buy now, but you will be far more likely to find them in a disaster scenario too.

There are a great number of high quality semi-automatic pistols out there, but the specific ones that meet the criteria we have set above would be the 1911, Browning Hi-Power, CZ-75, Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P, and the Springfield XD.  Plan on having at least four magazines for your pistol as well.



You should have at least two handguns in your arsenal so that at least one other person in your family can carry a sidearm with them. Another reason to have a backup is so you can access it easily, should the situation arise where you are taken away from your primary sidearm

While your primary handgun should be a semi-automatic pistol with a large magazine capacity, can very well choose for your backup sidearm to be a revolver.  Specifically, we recommend a .357 Magnum double action revolver in stainless steel and with a 4-inch barrel.

Why .357 Magnum?  Not only does .357 Magnum have A LOT of power, but it also can chamber and fire .38 Specials, drastically increasing the versatility of the weapon.  .357 also has a fair amount of recoil, but .38 Specials are noticeably tamer.  This means that a smaller or weaker person in your family could easily shoot a revolver chambered in .38 ammo.

We also recommend that the revolver have a stainless-steel finish and a 4-inch barrel.  Stainless steel is more corrosion resistant than bluing and will hold up better in wet and humid conditions.  The reason why we recommend a 4-inch barrel is because anything less will be a lot less manageable, especially when firing .357s, and anything more will be a lot heavier and difficult to hold steady for smaller shooters.

Revolvers do have their disadvantages.  They only carry 5, 6, or 7 rounds and they have slow reloading times.  On the flip side, however, they are inherently reliable and are very simplistic.  Even if someone in your family doesn’t know how to operate a semi-automatic, they can easily use a revolver because all they have to do is pick it up and pull the trigger.

As far as brands are concerned, the most popular revolver manufacturers in the United States today are Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus.  Of these, Ruger revolvers are considered to have the most durable build. Smith & Wesson revolvers tend to have the smoothest action, while Taurus makes less expensive but still high quality clones of the Smith & Wesson models for the budget minded.  A revolver from any of these brands will serve you well and hold up long enough to be passed down to your kids and grandkids.


The next gun you need is a semi-automatic, military style rifle.  The purpose of this gun is to defend your family and property from multiple intruders, though it can also be used for hunting if need be.

While a shotgun is great to have under your bed for home defense, it also has a slower rate of fire and less round capacity.  A pistol is great to have on your side or nightstand, but it has limited power and range.  A semi-automatic rifle gives you plenty of power, a higher magazine capacity, and longer range for property defense.

As with your pistol, your semi-automatic rifle needs to be completely reliable from a reputable company, have an abundance of spare parts and accessories on the market, and should be chambered in common calibers (in this case 5.56x45mm NATO or 7.62x39mm).

Examples of semi-automatic rifles that meet these criteria include the AK-47, the AR-15, IWI Tavor, and the Ruger Mini-14. Plan on also buying at least 5 magazines for your rifle.  You don’t need to carry your rifle on your back everywhere you go, but it should still be on standby so you can grab it quickly when needed.

.308 Winchester


The last gun that should be in your arsenal is a scoped bolt-action rifle chambered in .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield that can touch targets, whether they be enemy personnel or big game, at longer distances than your semi-automatic rifle can.  You could just as easily buy a semi-automatic rifle chambered in a larger caliber as well, but bolt-actions tend to be more accurate due to the less likelihood of you shooting at a rapid rate. Rapid fire tends to greatly reduce accuracy, especially at longer distances.

.308 and .30-06 are both highly popular with hunters and shooters and will be widely plentiful in a post disaster scenario.  They will also drop practically any big game in North America that you can think of, and can also do it at long ranges.

Almost every gun manufacturer makes a bolt-action rifle of some kind, and most of them will serve you well, but two of the most reliable ones are the Remington 700 (or 770) and the Winchester Model 70.

Both of these rifles have been around for a very long time, and are still in heavy use today.  They are simple to use, dead on accurate, and incredibly well built.  We recommend that you buy a stainless steel model in a synthetic stock, rather than blued in a wood stock, so that it holds up better in rain and harsh conditions.

Don’t forget to install a high quality scope on your bolt action rifle as well.  Don’t settle for a cheap scope that will only allow you to make mid range shots.  Make the investment and buy a proven scope from a reputable company such as Bushnell, Leopold, or Nikon that actually allow you to view targets and make accurate shots at incredibly long ranges.

Another benefit of these brands, is the clarity, especially with Nikon. Cheaper scopes tend to fog up very quickly, but these scopes are specially made to reduce the fog effect on the lenses.


As a final word, after you buy all of these guns there are two more things you need to do:

  • buy and store plenty of ammo and
  • practice, practice, practice.

As a general rule of thumb, you should have at least 1,000 rounds of ammo per caliber stored away that you will only access when disaster strikes, and at least 500-1,000 rounds ready for training purposes.

That’s a lot of ammo and it certainly doesn’t come cheap. One strategy you can use for accumulating the ammo you need without breaking your wallet, is to make it a habit to buy 2-3 boxes every week and to focus on buying one caliber at a time.  You will be amazed at how fast your stockpile of ammo grows.

Finally, practice with your guns extensively. It’s always wiser to spend your money on ammo for training then it is to spend money on accessories for your guns so that they ‘look cool.’  You should know how to field strip each of your guns and put them back together again in a short period of time, and you also need to know how to shoot them accurately, how to conduct reloads, clear malfunctions, and make transitions between guns so you can get back in the fight quickly.

Take the time and sign up for gun training classes and put plenty of rounds downrange.  If you can do that, you won’t just have a complete survival arsenal, but you’ll be proficient and deadly with each of the guns in that arsenal as well.

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About Nick Oetken

Nick Oetken
Nick Oetken is a prepper, outdoor enthusiast but, most of all, he is our in-house firearms expert. Look out for his articles on guns to find out which ones you need for your survival.

One comment

  1. Good article!
    Succinct, concise, and to the point.
    All weapon suggestions are well thought out and, more importantly, available to most Americans.

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