survival rifles

The Best Survival Rifles

updated by Reaper 11/29/2017

No matter how you look at it, a rifle is your best friend in a survival situation. It has range, it has power and it is accurate. All of these things combine to create a machine that adapts to scenarios with the human that holds it in his or her hands. In close range, it will overwhelm the enemy and be quick to fire. It’s got accuracy and elegance and can end some battles before they even begin.

In short, it is a powerfully decisive tool that puts the user in control, whether stalking through the woods looking for game, protecting yourself from the city’s criminal element, or dealing with any breakdown or collapse of governmental rule.

There are number of key traits every quality rifle should have, and you should be aware of these before running out to the store. You don’t want to put money down on a low-quality piece of machinery. To any prepper, this kind of mistake will end up costing him even more money than the first purchase and put him behind the 8-ball when things get serious out there. Check out this list below so you don’t make those mistakes:

Rifles should be….

  • Equipped with a detachable magazine.
  • Semi-automatic (magazine-fed).
  • Built for at least a 20 round capacity (some State Laws require less).
  • Able to shoot a minimum of 300 meters accurately.
  • Ready to aim with dependable iron sights.
  • Set up with a centered-fired cartridge.

Now, let’s get down to specifics. Which model of rifle should you buy? There are many options and the difference between each can be intricate and tricky. Here are my battle and time tested suggestions for a quality rifle.

Whether you’re looking for protection or want an item that’s great for hunting as well, these survival rifles will get the job done and then some. Below is a definitive list of six outstanding rifles with detailed descriptions. Each has a unique history and skill set. So let’s get to it!

colt ar-15

source: Wikipedia

The AR-15

Armalite, a small company from the USA in the 1950s, created the AR-15. The rights to the item were sold to Colt in the 60s. The gun was designed to maximize the number of targets hit in a war zone.

Through research and studies, such as the Hall and Hitchman reports, the army deduced that short range weapons get more done in a battle than long range shooters like the sniping rifle. In a government sponsored lab called “Project Salvo”, the weapon was worked on from 1952-1957 to make it elegant and almost flawless. In doing so, it was eventually dubbed as the M16A1 (the United States Military’s first rifle of its kind).

The Vietnam War was the machine’s first wide usage. Over 840,000 M16s were ordered by the military during the initial invasion. There were some initial problems, including frequent jamming, which were resolved over the years as better designs of the rifle were made.

The AR-15 (or its cousins such as the M16 or M4), sometimes called “the black rifle” due to its color, has become widely used in military and social circles. In fact, there are various designs and slight modifications throughout the world. Versions of this weapon are made in Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, and most surprising Russia. Even the makers of the AK-47 have love for this elegant rifle!

This machine has seen many battles. To this day, the army uses this rifle. It saw action in both the Afghanistan and Iraq War. That’s over 40 years of service. For many the AR-15 is their first, and still most beloved, survival rifle.

It’s easy to see why. The AR-15 is…

  • Easy to learn and use with its ergonomic design.
  • Built for Small Ammo (this makes it easy to stockpile and carry)
  • Equipped with various magazine capacity (from 10 to 100).
  • Lightweight
  • Almost completely customizable, with removable and interchangeable parts.
  • Set up with a corrosive resistant 7075-T6 aluminum receiver that is corrosive resistant.
  • Created with a straight-line stock design that eliminates the fulcrum formed by bent stocks, reducing muzzle climb.
  • Accurate due to the high velocity of the projectile.
  • Front sight and rear sight adjustable in most models and adjustable elevation in some models.
  • Simple to equip accessories, including tactical lights, lasers to help with target acquisition, optics, bipods, etc
  • Extremely easy for a gunsmith to create additional perks for.

There are a few cons to this fantastic weapon you should take into account before putting your hard earned cash down. The AR-15 is…

  • In danger of a gas system malfunction.
  • Not built to do well if it gets dirty from the elements (mud, sand, water, and snow).
  • In need or regular maintenance (more so than the other options on our list).
  • Less lethal bullets that deliver less kinetic energy. The difference is negligible and is mute when shooting from close range as in a home protection situation.
  • Simple but the accessories and add-ons listed above are expensive.
  • More expensive than other options lower on the list.

Even given these flaws, the AR is a quality, battle-tested instrument. A fair price for this item is anywhere in the $500-$2,500 dollar range. It uses 5.56 x45mm NATO cartridge or .223 rounds for ammo. I suggest the .223 round because they are easy to get a hold of. When times get rough, easy to find ammo is a real luxury. Plus, it barely kicks, so your shoulder won’t get as fatigued compared to larger calibers

ak 47 type 2

photo: wikipedia

The AK-47

The AK in the title of the legendary AK-47 stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova, the 47 standing for the year it was created- 1947. Interestingly, the gun was almost finished in 1946 which would have made the title AK-46. Doesn’t quite have the same ring does it?

Kalashnikov was a young sergeant in the Soviet Union who designed the gun while on medical leave as an answer to the United States’ carbine, a machine that also made this list. Although the machine was too complex to work, the initial design went on to be stream lined and perfected in a process that took four years of experimentation.

Those experiments worked to create one of the world’s finest rifles. In the last 60 years it is estimated that over 90 million individual Kalashes (Russian slang for the AK-47) have been made as advances to the original design were implemented over time. The Russian army uses the gun to this day and it is currently deployed in countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, China, Hungary, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Finland, and Iraq.

The gun can be seen as a perfect combination of parts and specs compared to previous advances. Its dependability is second to none. It should be noted, however, the criteria for Russian “dependability” are the simplicity of the gun’s operation and its suitability for mass production. In short, the gun is not the most accurate machine on the market.

It is important to note that the characterization of this gun as purely a militaristic weapon comes from its extreme ruggedness and ease of use. The rifle is also good for hunting and sports because of these features. If it can excel in a Russian winter, it will surely impress the buddies at the local hunting spot. Plus, no attacker wants to go up against this world famous bad boy.

Let’s go into the strengths of the AK-47 so you can see if it is the perfect machine for your survival needs. Of note, it handles the elements better than the AR-15 but lacks some of its refined grace and accuracy.

The AK-47 is….

  • Extremely reliable.
  • Extremely simple.
  • Extremely rugged and durable. Weather will likely not affect the gun.
  • A gas/piston operated, selective fire assault rifle.
  • Delivered with sight with hooded front post and U-notch open rear.
  • Relatively cheap.
  • Created with loosely fitting parts (making it more resistant to shocks and requiring less time to assemble).
  • Stocked with cheap and easy to find ammo.
  • Designed so that the safety also serves as a dust cover.

Despite its pedigree, there are some flaws with the AK-47. Before you run out and buy this item, read this list. The AK-47 is…

  • Heavy, at least 7 pounds (3kgs).
  • Partially inaccurate due to more recoil than other rifles.
  • Not a precision weapon. Its accuracy is mediocre, which hurts it as a hunting gun.
  • Difficult to hit a target more than 100 meters (300 feet) away. The range is not particularly impressive.

With these flaws in mind, the AK-47 is still a great machine. It has been used for over 60 years in military, home defense, and sporting situations. An average AK-47 will cost around $500. Its ammo is 7.62×39. Its length is 870 mm with a barrel length of 415mm. The magazine capacity is 30-40 rounds and fires 600 rounds per minute.

m1 carabine

photo: wikipedia

The M1 Carbine

The M1 Carbine was the standard firearm for the US Military during WWII, The Korean War, and The Vietnam War. That’s a pretty darn good history. Since those days, it has become a popular civilian firearm and has been used by paramilitary and police forces.

The gun is very compact and powerful. It does not have too much range, but modifications can be made to give the gun a wider area of attack. It can be slightly hard to find, but a search on Auto Ordnance should get one in your hands.

The rifle was designed by the military to replace handguns with a more powerful option. It would be worn over the shoulder as a backup for difficult situations. The handgun’s lack of range made it essentially useless in the thick of warfare. Soldier’s needed something with more spread that was also easy to carry and easy to load quickly.

In the 1938, the carbine was thrust onto the battle and solved the intended problem and then some. The rifle became the first personal defense weapon that also had enough range to be used outside of close quarters. Today, the gun is thought of as an “intermediate” weapon. Its range is about 200 meters – far more than a pistol but a little on the low side for a rifle.

The design of the gun itself is often attributed to David “Carbine” Williams. It was meant as a hunting weapon, its power being perfect for taking a down a deer that is in eye sight. Winchester manufactured the machine as well as General Motors, National Postal Meter Co., Quality Hardware Machine Co., and even IBM. It was a moneymaker.

The blueprint itself was even sold as a military secret to many friendly nations after WWII, before the gun became a popular civilian survival tool, due its compact frame and power. It’s not the atomic bomb, but it was one big revolution in warfare and protection all its own.

Enough history, here are some of the specific pros of the M1 Carbine. The M1 Carbine is…

  • Semi-automatic
  • Lightweight
  • Good accuracy for close and Mid-range.
  • Designed with a low recoil
  • Small
  • Built with a detachable magazine.

These qualities make it a highly adaptable gun for different scenarios. However, there are a few cons any buyer should be aware of. The M1 Carbine is…

  • Getting more and more expensive due to its difficulty to locate.
  • Equipped with expensive ammo ($500 for 1000 rounds).
  • Not good at long range

Essentially, the gun is extremely user-friendly and great for home protection but its growing rarity makes its ammo more expensive and its actual price rise. However, it is an extremely useful tool for many different scenarios. The M1 Carbine is .30 caliber. It is gas operated with a rotating bolt. The length of the item is 904 mm with a barrel length of 458 mm. The machine is 5.2 pounds (2.36 kg). The capacity is 15 or 30 rounds.


photo: wikipedia

The Ruger 10/22

This rifle is the clear choice for a novice or for teaching your children how to take care of themselves when you’re not around. The ammo is extremely cheap, making practicing shooting last longer and less stressful.

Plus, the gun is a featherweight and has almost no recoil. Its lack of heft will help you get a feel for how to aim a barrel. The look of the Ruger 10/22 is modeled after the carbine, which causes some to give it the humorous nickname “the little carbine that could.”

The magazine of this gun is an odd duck amongst rifles. It is a rotary mag, which is more than a little strange for a rifle. The only manufacturer known to do this for other guns is Calico Arms. A rotary mag, in case you don’t know, is the type used on a Tommy gun.

The design is fairly flawed and was replaced long ago in most models. This is a practice and starting rifle and this design keeps the price down and that’s a big plus for an amateur’s gun.

The specific pros of the Ruger 10/22 are as follows. The Ruger 10/22 is…

  • Built with no perceivable recoil
  • Easy to find.
  • Made for very good low range precision
  • Quick to replace parts for.
  • Only 37 inches in length
  • Simple to accessorize
  • Very Cheap with inexpensive ammo to match
  • Lightweight

There are some cons to this very inexpensive, very light weapon. The Ruger 10/22 is…

  • Made with a pretty rough trigger.
  • Built well but the bolt can be tricky for novices and youngsters
  • Designed with a scope mount that screws on but can easily be stripped.

This rifle is the perfect weapon for young gunner or novice. It is commonly used as starter gun, but it has enough power to defend its shooter for harm. The Ruger 10/22 is a real rifle with real power. It’s lightweight, only five pounds, and makes a good field rifle. At a cost of only about $300, it’s perfect to teach your children how to be little protectors and defenseman. We would suggest buying ammo in bulk for this machine. It keeps costs down and increases practice time.

Marlin 336W.png

photo: wikipedia

Marlin 1895 GS

If you want a gun with sheer power, your search has ended. The Marlin 1895 is a beauty that packs a wallop. This makes it great for hunting as well as stopping attackers of both the human and beast variety. Its walnut and stainless-steel frame gives it a pristine look.

The design of the rifle dates all the way back to 1895 and hasn’t changed much since those days. Sometimes the right design is just the right design no matter when it was made.

Unfortunately, this gun doesn’t have too much military history due to the fact that it is difficult to fire from the prone position. Not being able to fire from a horizontal position can make it overly difficult to hide from enemies, especially in old school trench warfare. The kickback can be extremely strong and comes with one strong uppercut of a punch.

This gun can shoot clear through a full-grown grizzly bear. It’s popularity has just started to grow. In African safaris it is now used as a close range weapon to prevent attacks. This thing is a real-life lion tamer!

The muzzle creates more than 1700 fps, which is extraordinary for an easy to carry rifle. Of note, though, the magazine works and functions well but can be a bit difficult to get used to initially.

Now, here’s a list that gets into specifics about what makes the Marlin 1895 GS a great buy for any true gunman. The Marlin 1895 is….

  • Durable
  • Corrosive resistant due to is walnut and stainless steel design
  • Accurate
  • Easy to maintain
  • Reasonably Priced (Around $650).
  • Built with a superior rate of fire
  • Designed with a great ammo capacity

Despite its great shooting power, there are a few cons to this machine. The Marlin 1895 is…

  • slow to reload,
  • hard- almost impossible- to shoot while lying chest down and back up (prone position),
  • rather large compared to the other rifles on the list.

It is important to note that the high kickback can be lessened. Marlin has a porting system on the barrel that when combined with ventilated rubber recoil pad on the rifle makes for a much easier experience and much less bothersome. The gun is also fairly quiet for the amount of damage it can do.

ar7 rifle

photo: wikipedia

Henry Arms AR-7

Like the AR-15, the AR-7 was developed by Armalite, an American company, in the 1950s, for aircrew members who parachuted, or crash landed into wilderness fight scenarios. Therefore, the weapon is lightweight, great for hunting small game, and easily stored. Today, Henry Repeating Arms Co. distributes the rifle.

This gun is made for the wilderness. It won’t be able to take down bigger beasts such as bears or wolves but it can handle anything else. Of note, its shot is relatively weak. Taking down a human attacker may be difficult with this weapon. Obviously, it is a better alternative than other weapons such as a knife, baseball bat, or handy brass knuckles.

If you want a gun for home protection or survive an upcoming government breakdown, the other rifles on this list are better options. If you want a hunting gun, however, do yourself a favor and take a hard look at this baby!

It’s perfect for small to medium game and isn’t difficult at all to carry for long treks through the wilderness. Heaven knows, I don’t like thinking about my gun’s weight more than the adventure of the hunt. This weight is perfect for keeping your mind right and your aim calm.

The weapon is a great purchase. The AR-7 is…

  • Cheap (Can be bought for less than $300)
  • Great for hunting game and preventing home invasions.
  • Can be fitted with telescope sights.
  • Lightweight (3.5 pounds or 1.6 KG).
  • Easy to store, making it a breeze to conceal and great for your back up survival gun.

There are a few flaws to this highly mobile machine. The AR-7 is…

  • Equipped with a thin barrel
  • Not extremely accurate
  • Not made for a shoulder sling.
  • Designed so that it cannot be placed on a bipod

This weapon is perfect for the hunter that also wants to protect his home. At less than 300 bucks, it’s also an easy buy for back up security or a practice weapon.



Read over this list a few times. Buying the wrong weapon can put a steep hole in your pocket. Some of the differences are obvious. The AK-47 isn’t much like the Ruger 10/22. Other variations in rifles are much more subtle though.

No man or woman can be properly prepared without the right tools. Once you figure out what you want though, find the proper price and don’t hesitate. Any of these beauties do their job.

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One comment

  1. The M-1 carbine, Ruger .22, and the AR-7have their own peculiar problems. Being semi-automatic, they require regular cleaning, o0ccasional extraction problems, and other issues. A bolt action Savage Heavy Barrel in .22LR will drop a gnat at 100 Yards. A Bushnell 3-9×40 scope will bring home the bacon, assuming accurate shooting. A Savage HB in .308 is extraordinarily accurate in it’s price range. Scope it and within 1000 yards, it’s yours. A Marlin post 1995 in .45-70 will take any game animal that walks the Earth. 200 yards is pretty much it’s range, but Buffalo Bore makes some truly ferocious rounds, as do a few other small companies. Winchester and Remington stick to the loads of 100 years ago because of the number of old rifles out there. A hot round in an old gun may introduce you to your grave. So follow the manufacturers instructions when you buy BB or other hot ammo, and use them ONLY in the guns they say are safe. Certain loads will stop a Semi tractor – all those pieces jingling around the crankshaft will bring it to a stop. The Ak is very reliable, but not nearly a 1″ group gun at 100 yards. The .45-70 is quite accurate, although the Diamondback Sights are much better than the factory, not a 1″ gun either. But it’s power with the right ammunition approaches the low end of a .458 Win Mag – true big game juice.

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