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By Richard Douglas,The National Interest
In the space of only a few weeks, the United States has changed forever. Sports leagues have suspended their seasons. Entire industries have been forced to shutter their doors. Jobs have been lost. Food shelves have emptied.
A global pandemic, COVID-19 or coronavirus has taken the world by storm. One of the most important tools a person could have to maintain their survival in the event of a total societal collapse is the rifle. Able to reach out and hit targets at a range that pistols and shotguns are unable to, rifles are ideal weapons for both self-defense and hunting situations. And in today’s article, I’m going to show you the 5 best survival rifles (along with a bonus one) to defend your family with.
What Makes a Good Survival Rifle?
There are plenty of powerful rifles with nifty features, but what makes one uniquely good for supporting survival?
A survival rifle must be accurate. If it can’t hit anything, the weapon is useless.
A survival rifle should be light. As we all know, every ounce counts. If it’s too heavy, you may not want (or be able) to carry the weapon into a situation where it’s needed.
A survival rifle should be durable. You’re going to be on the move (a lot) and your rifle will get hit. Plus, you may not have access to replacement parts for your weapon.
Others might argue for more factors to the list, but we’ll stick with these three — accuracy, weight, and durability. With that said, let’s take a look at the best survival rifles.
Ruger 10/22 Takedown
Chambered in .22 LR (long rifle), the Ruger 10/22 weighs in at a light 4.6 pounds. The Takedown model can be easily split in half for easy transport. The .22 LR caliber bullets are light, cheap, and plentiful. The rifle itself is blisteringly accurate. Perfect for hunting small game, the .22 LR can be used for self-defense as well, particularly in the hands of an accurate marksman. Rust-resistant, the 10/22 will shoot when you pull the trigger. The immense popularity of this rifle created a huge market for after-market accessories, so you can further customize your own Ruger 10/22. Not only is the Ruger 10/22 a quality rifle, but it’s cheap as well. Get two or three, and you’ll have access to replacement parts.
The Kel-Tec SU16C — while not as maneuverable or transportable as the 10/22 — packs a heavier punch. Shooting 5.56 mm rounds, the SU16C has greater stopping power than the Ruger 10/22. While the weapon doesn’t break down like the Ruger 10/22, the stock folds under the gun, shrinking the weapon to a tight 25.5 inches. The Kel-Tec accepts the enormously popular AR-15 magazine, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding magazines that fit in a societal collapse situation. The last neat trick of this weapon is the forearm folds to become a bipod — allowing you to stabilize your rifle easily for more accurate shooting.
This rifle fires pistol calibers — either 9mm or .40 S&W rounds. Unfolded, the Kel-Tec SUB-2000 measures in at 30.5 inches (with a 16-inch barrel); folded, the gun shrinks down to an impressively small 16.25 inches. Weighing in at only 4.25 pounds, the gun easily fits into a standard backpack. While the gun’s straight blow-back system means it has higher recoil than most, the 16-inch barrel guarantees accuracy. The heavier rounds mean you can take down small to midsize animals in hunting situations while being sufficiently lethal for self-defense scenarios as well. Equipped with M-LOK accessory slots, you can attach further accessories.
Savage Model 42 Takedown Compact
A combo gun, the Savage Model 42 weapon boasts a two-barrel over-under design. The bottom barrel fires .410 shotgun shells while the upper barrel fires .22 LR. This allows a shooter to hit short to medium range targets with the shotgun, while still being able to reach out and hit targets at a longer range with the .22. Not only is this weapon incredibly versatile, it’s remarkably transportable. Breaking down with only one button, the Model 42 breaks into two pieces which can be easily carried in a standard backpack. The final kicker: it only weighs 4.65 pounds. This is definitely the most versatile weapon on the list.
The Henry AR-7 is the definitive survival weapon. Originally designed for Air Force pilots to use in the event they were shot down, the rifle had to be compact, good for hunting and self-defense against hostile forces. The modern-day version of that original design is the Henry AR-7. Chambered for .22 LR, the AR-7 comes with two box magazines holding 8 rounds. Only weighing 3.5 pounds, the AR-7 is as barebones a rifle you can get. Without a handguard, the weapon will heat up when fired - it’s definitely not meant for high volume shooting. When broken down, the barrel, receiver, and ammo all fit inside the watertight stock, which, incredibly, floats. Perfect for small game, the AR-7 can be assembled and disassembled within one minute. This lightweight and accurate rifle is a fantastic weapon for survival situations.
Bonus: DPMS Sportical AR-15
No survival rifle list is complete without the AR-15. While there are hundreds of AR-15 variants across the United States, I recommend the DPMS Sportical AR-15. Lightweight, with a 16-inch barrel, this phenomenally accurate weapon is perfect for hunting and self-defense situations. You’ll be able to find ammunition and (likely) replacement parts should you need them. The thousands of accessories created for AR-15’s allow you to create a gun custom-tailored to your needs.
Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared in large publications like The Armory Life, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews optics on hisScopes Fieldblog.