Take your pick — earthquake, fire, severe weather, civil unrest, a terrorist act. Whatever the catastrophe, having a survival firearm is norm today and not the exception.
The reasons to have a last-ditch firearm (or two) are endless and unique to you and your environment, but self-defense and hunting are naturally the top uses.
Since we are talking about an out-of-the-norm event, I would want to keep my selections simple. To accomplish this, I would consider such factors as ammo availability. Within the United States, some calibers (or shotgun ammo) that would be much more available during a crisis include 22 long rifle, 12 gauge, 223/5.56, 9mm, and 308 or 30-06. Others – such as 22 Magnum, 28 gauge, 222, 357 Sig, and 270 Winchester Short Mag – could be hard to find.
In other words, your survival gun should be in a caliber that you have a good supply of, or calibers that might be easier to find via scavenging or bartering. Another factor I would consider is the track record of reliability. Confidence in the firearms’ system — including accessories and ammunition — as well as my ability to use them well, is critical. Efficiency of operation, basic field maintenance and ease of transport are also points to consider.
With the above in mind, here are my top picks:
1. Ruger 10/22 takedown
The Ruger 10/22 has been around for decades and proven its worth. The takedown version with the accompanying pack is a great choice for a survival gun. Chambered in 22 long rifle, it’s adept at taking small game and even can be used for self-defense if needed. Another plus: You can get 15- and 25-round Ruger factory magazines for this platform. Put a Ruger Mark III pistol or Ruger Bearcat revolver in the case with the takedown 10/22 and you have a wonderful little survival pack that shoots the same caliber and can be easily transported.
2. Sig P516 AR Pistol, AR Carbine or AK Platform
The Sig P516 AR platform pistol in the 10 inch barrel, chambered in 5.56, provides wonderful mobility while still allowing the shooter to have a point of contact to the shoulder if the need arises. The ATF has reconfirmed the legality of shooting this pistol while the arm brace is in contact with the shoulder. There are numerous platforms available that allow for this shortened barrel in conjunction with a non-traditional stock or “pistol brace.” The ability to use a standard 20-, 30- or even 40-round magazine make these systems are ideal for a survival situation. I run a compact red dot (Eotec) on mine with BUIS and a single-point sling. I have run thousands of rounds through this “pistol” with nary a hiccup. It goes without saying that your favorite AR Carbine or AK system would also be an excellent candidate in this section, as well. The AK 47 has, of course, proven its durability and reliability for decades and is worthy of consideration for any tough times event. Both the 5.56 and the 7.62 x 39 are usually available or easily found in stockpiles.