The number one survival gun is a defensive carbine.

The number one survival gun is a defensive carbine.

The concept of a “Survival” gun again has taken on a bit of a romantic notion with the prepper movement. I stand firm that the best survival gun is an AR-15 or AR-L in .308. There is not much that these guns can’t do. They are outstanding for defense and adequate for hunting and foraging.

While a lot of what is written is about hunting, I think the biggest issue is going to be defense. Staying alive, particularly in the early years, is going to be mostly about keeping what you have. There will be a lot of people trying to steal your food and equipment and possibly trying to kill you.

For many, the concept of a “survival” gun is some minimalist firearm that you take with you as you bug out and head for the hills. It’s a gun that when mated with your scary ninja skills will keep you fat and happy for the rest of your long life.

Or at least that’s what I keep reading on the internet. Heck, the best of the best of them say they plan to bring a flintlock. They will make their own flints, powder and balls, relying only on the resources of God’s bounty and their superior intellect.

I wish them luck, but that sounds like a hard way to go when there are so many great guns out there and plenty of cartridges to run them. Why take a flintlock when you can have an AR? Remember too that the bad guys will have ARs or AKs. Good luck fighting them with your flintlock.


Many others suggest a .22 LR is the ultimate survival gun, mostly because you can carry a lot of ammo. I suppose it is if you plan to survive on rabbits and squirrels and never have to defend against any bad guys.

The concept of fighting for your life with a .22 LR is a very bad idea. This is not a stopping cartridge. It’s easy to say you will “shoot them in the eye” but that ignores the fact that you are not fighting paper targets on a square range. That eye you are planning to shoot is attached to a guy who will be moving and hard to hit. He will also be shooting at you, probably with a much bigger gun.

Another thing I keep hearing is “I’ll just shoot him a bunch of times.” While you are shooting the bad guy over and over, his buddy will be shooting you.

Then again, if you believe all the television shows about TEOTWAWKI, all you need to survive is a sword. Or maybe a crossbow. Hollywood and the fanboys love them both. I think it’s now a law that you can’t have an end of the world show unless the people in it are using swords and crossbows.

Foraging and hunting may be important to making sure you have enough food, but keep it in perspective. There is this notion that we can “head for the hills” and live off the land. I can tell you this much. I have been a hard core hunter, both as my personal passion and as my profession as a hunting writer for all of my life. I have hunted with just about every type of firearm and arrow slinging device made. I have even hunted hogs with a knife. I have hunted almost every legal species in North America and a bunch of different critters in Africa, Russia, Mexico, Europe and in South and Central America. I am also made my living trapping for a couple of winters back when fur was bringing a good price. I am an experienced fisherman and I pride myself on being a woodsman and on my skills in the wilderness.

I do not want to live off the land!

I am not even sure I could live off the land.

Even if I were successful, it would be a very tough life. The hunter-gatherers in history lived a hard and short life.

Besides, if the crisis drags on very long, wild game will become scarce


If you move to a retreat or are lucky enough to already live in the country you will need to look at long term survival. That means a multi-tiered approach. Eventually, you will probably have chickens and other fowl, as well as livestock. You will have a garden. The meat, eggs, milk and vegetables will be what sustains you and your family. Sure, you may have food stored away and you will hunt and forage, but everybody can’t live off the land.

What people are prepping for today, a lot of us who grew up rural and poor just called “life.” Part of that is solving your own problems.

It seems like today people call the government for everything. If there is a raccoon raiding the garbage, they call animal control. If a fox is in the neighborhood and acting sick, they call the cops. If a deer is eating their shrubs, they call the game warden.

Those people are not going to do well in the new reality. Self-reliance is a trait that will be required. The solution that is obvious to most of us is to trap the coon, shoot the fox and eat the deer.

A good example of that happened a few minutes ago. My dog cornered a rabid coon in the woods behind my shop. Any of my neighbors would have called the game warden and waited for him to solve the problem. By then the coon would have wandered off and would be around causing problems for days. I just shot him and disposed of the carcass safely.


You will also have rats, woodchucks, rabbits, squirrels and other varmints eating your food. They might be cute now, but when the rabbits have trashed the garden that you need to survive the winter, cute doesn’t cut it. Besides rabbits are tasty.


A simple .22 LR rifle or maybe a shotgun are critical tools preppers need to deal with these problems. First in line for survival guns is a semi-auto, magazine fed centerfire rifle. You will also need a personal carry handgun. But, once you have those, a simple .22 LR or shotgun should be next.

Not a flintlock or a sword.


My new book, Survival Guns for Preppers, will explore all firearms for survival in depth. Look for it out in early spring.