One of the most important things for survival for us humans is a weapon. Look back through ancient history and you will realize we are not very effective at surviving in war or nature without a reliable weapon we are trained to use. The best survival weapon will be discussed and options will be given so you as the prepper, hiker, outdoor enthusiast, hunter, etc. will make sure you can wield the proper weapon platform for you and keep you safe in a myriad of situations where your own two hands will not be sufficient.
Best Survival Weapon: Firearm
Kicking us off we need to cover the meat and potatoes and the most hotly debated survival weapon, a firearm. The important factor to keep in mind is overall utilitarian use. A lot of firearms are very good for one specific type of shooting. For example a compact pistol is great for self defense but for dispatching game at distance much more difficult to do. The opposite is also true you will not necessarily want a .338 Lapua Magnum with a 6-24 power scope to hunt small game a few yards away. Even with these parameters in mind your options are still very open.
Let’s take our focus into some of the best modular and easiest to maintain firearms that would be practical for carrying distances and being capable to protect yourself and family as well as dispatch game for food and self defense. A light firearm is great for situations where you have to be man portable and cannot do anything but carry the weapon yourself. Hunters will know exactly what I mean here. One of the easiest firearms to use and learn with is a good quality .22 LR, primarily focusing on a rifle platform for longer range accuracy.
A .22LR is a superb choice for the best survival weapon in two facets: light weight and quiet. These two things are very important especially in a bug out situation or if you are trying to maintain noise discipline. The standard for modularity and options for a .22 LR is the Ruger 10/22. It is very light especially if you get a synthetic stock version. There are also threaded barrel versions if you choose to suppress the rifle making it very quiet. There are so many options to add to this gun to make it even better for accessories. It is easily as modular as the AR-15. As listed before the two main things you gain are light weight and lower noise levels. Despite what people say the .22 LR is very capable in a lot of situations but not always ideal. For take small game it is very adequate to keep from ruining meat for food and there are plenty accounts of deer sized game being take with .22 LR proving it is a capable cartridge. There is even a test on YouTube that shows a .22 LR is capable of piercing up to 10 evenly spaced sheets of ½” drywall when fired from a rifle. The last benefit is that IF you can find the ammunition for it you can carry a lot of rounds on your person before you are carrying an excess amount of weight. 500 rounds of .22 LR is around 4 pounds which is the equivalent of four 30 round fully loaded AR-15 magazines. This is a significant amount of firepower for not adding a lot of weight.
The next best survival weapon firearm choice would be an AR platform. These come in such a wide variety of calibers and makers we will zero our focus in on an AR-15 and generalities regarding brands across the board. Everyone knows the reputation and the wide array of uses the gun has been used for from everything from war to hunting to competitive target shooting. Knowing these facts alone make it an automatic idea for being a great survival weapon. The versatility and dependability of the weapon system has increased as the years have gone by. Most manufacturers use quality parts and put the weapons together correctly ensuring quality and consistency.
The 5.56 or .223 Remington that the AR-15 shoots is a more capable round than the .22 LR. With bullets from 40 grains up to over 75 grains there are a large amount of options for different purposes. With a variety of bullets such as V-Max rounds that cause instant expansion and dumps its energy quickly to full metal jackets that will pierce right through bone and muscle. The 5.56 Nato/.223 Rem is a capable round capable of 600 yard shots if you are very good and practiced with it.
The main pro of the AR-15 is the ability to accessorize it for your intended purposes. With rails and slots all over the forearm you have the ability to hang anything you find appealing or worthy on your rifle. The key thing is to remember you will have to carry or pack around this weapon so do not put too much unnecessary items on it or you will be carrying around too much extra weight. All of this versatility allows you to make it into a good long range weapon system or for very close quarters action if you predict to running into that more often. Adding variable zoom optics will give you a good compromise for both close range and longer range shots for close quarters self defense or longer range hunting scenarios.
For hunting there is a lot of data for the .223 Remington and its capabilities. It is easily capable of taking deer sized game and with correct shot placement will not destroy all meat on smaller game, though it is less effective for very small game such as birds and smaller game. Giving this you do have longer range capabilities so you do not have to stalk game as closely if you have a decent optic to make an ethical kill at distance.
The next survival weapon needing coverage is a good ol’ shotgun. With the hype and spotlight on rifles with every option to add to most people forget the multi-use shotgun, especially with more modern shotguns. I would recommend a 12 gauge shotgun and that will be addressed and my reasons will follow.
The main reason I recommend a shotgun is because there are adapters that allow you to shoot smaller gauge shells out of a 12 gauge shotgun. This is a huge asset for a shtf event where ammunition could be scarce. 12 gauge also has the most knockdown power and is best for longer range shots with both slugs and different types of shot. Nowadays shotguns have a wide variety of chokes to be able to range out your shot or have a wider spread for defense or closer range hunting.
Another way shotguns win is the availability of ammunition. It’s not uncommon to find common calibers such as .22 LR and 5.56/.223 ammo sold out on store shelves yet be able to find cases of shells for shotguns. With wide variety of hunting and defense loads it is far easier to stock up on ammunition for a numerous amount of scenarios. It is also very difficult to beat the reliability of a simple break open single shot or pump action shotgun. Most models are very adaptable with different offerings of stocks and forends as well. This makes it more comfortable for different shooters and applications.
Finally we go over a pistol to be the best survival weapon. A pistol wins out in one big way: ease of carry. The pistol is small firearm and is light and is very capable at closer ranges with general good stopping power depending on caliber. The main caliber I will focus in on is the 9mm and the reasons will follow.
A 9mm has a good combination of stopping power with the right defensive type ammo and weight of ammunition. 9 mm is a smaller pistol caliber but is very capable for taking game in a survival situation and is a great self defense option. The big benefit to a 9mm over some calibers such as 40 S&W and 45 ACP is that it is lighter and less expensive to stock up on ammo.
Now this comes to the actual maker and quality of the pistol you choose. You can spend a couple hundred dollars to up and over a thousand depending on make and model. Some great companies such as Glock, Walther, Smith&Wesson, Sig, and even H&K have some affordable mid range models that will be great reliable pistols that break down very easily for cleaning and care.(Keep in mind there are a lot of other great makers that manufacture 9mm’s in the same price range with as good quality as the aforementioned companies). Basically changing a recoil spring after so many thousands of rounds and clean the pistol you will have a trouble free functional weapon that will serve for taking game (at closer ranges) as well as allow you to defend yourself from attackers.
Best Survival Weapon: Blades
The next category we need to cover for the best survival weapon are blades. Now be aware that the mindset using a bladed weapon to survive is a far different approach than with a firearm. The blades bring their own capabilities and uses that firearms cannot do but falls short in areas that firearms excel. Please remember this is an overview over how well each particular option will work for you for survival.
Kicking us off in the world of edged weapons is the fixed blade knife. There are endless amounts of survival knife options by a multitude of manufacturers. A fixed blade knife gives you a lot of strength when done correctly and made with a decent quality steel making it durable and able to handle abuse that you may need to impart on it during a survival situation. We will start with some things to look for in a knife that won’t let you down when you are counting on it.
First of all make sure to pick a fixed blade at least 4” or longer. Blade thickness is also a consideration to take but the length is crucial primarily for defensive purposes. You will want a longer blade if in a survival situation your knife turns into a defensive weapon because it gives you reach to keep things further from you as well as being more lethal if it comes down to it. But regarding thickness I would recommend over .12” just to give the blade more stability for batoning. If you can handle carrying more weight I would definitely suggest going with a thicker blade just for more security knowing it will hold up better in defensive capacities as well as for camp use. A good quality stainless steel will be a great option due to its ability to resist corrosion such as rain and blood if used to skin or prepare meat in the field. Carbon steel blades will hold up fine if you maintain them using something such as mineral oil so you can still use it in food preparation.
We have a few articles already about survival knives you should check out for more specifics on steel types, length, and also an important modification for your knife. These articles will answer a lot of your questions when going in to buy a knife.
Now we will jump into some great options for a survival knife that will be both defensive and for doing everything around your camp set up. First off as I have mentioned in other articles is the SOG Seal Pup. It is my go to survival knife because it is light weight, strong, more compact than some larger knives, and is still made with a lethal design. It is made with Aus-8 stainless steel and is powder coated for even more corrosion resistance. Another great option is the Gerber Prodigy. It is a thicker blade than the SOG Seal Pup but the same blade length of 4.75”. It is made with 420 High Carbon steel and black oxide coated to help add corrosion resistance. As a weapon both of these blades are great because they are structurally sound and are long enough blades to work for defensive and offensive fighting. A longer blade would be even more ideal as an offensive weapon just because you have better reach and better penetration.
Best Survival Weapon: Bow
Finally we come to the last option for best survival weapon, the bow. The bow may seem primitive but it is a great weapon. It is very quiet and can be used to take shots at range and you can make ammo (arrows) in the field as you can craft arrows out of wood or other materials.
There are three common types of bows: compound, recurve, and crossbow. The compound bow uses a series of pulleys to make higher pull weight feel much easier and stabilizes when pulled back allowing for more power with less effort to pull. A recurve bow is the traditional bow where there is just the string and the resistance of the bow to flex that determines its pull weight. A crossbow as the name says has a cross piece that flexes as the string is pulled back and the string locks back until a trigger is pulled to release the arrow. For simplicity a recurve bow is the easiest to maintain and also make in the field with a little knowledge.
A recurve bow with around a 40 lb draw weight is very capable for both defensive use and for taking game. The key is being close enough to keep the power of the arrow sufficient for lethality. The great thing about most commercially available recurve bows is that there are takedown versions that make it compact and very portable. I would most likely suggest a recurve bow because of its simplicity and ease of field repairs. Less moving parts to screw up always makes a weapon system more dependable. While not being the easiest to use practice is needed with any bow and once learned it is a formidable deadly quiet weapon and potentially the best survival weapon.
Now we come to the ammunition for bows. Arrows are lightweight and reusable which is a huge advantage in the field in a survival situation. If you choose to buy arrows aluminum arrows are strong and affordable and come with removable heads to add different arrowheads to offer better lethality. You can also make your own arrows with a little practice. The key is to use a hardwood and fire treat them for strength.
Hopefully you have some ideas about the best survival weapon and good options in selecting the best weapon for you. Whichever you choose remember to practice with your weapon and learn how to safely use it in a fluent manner. Thanks for reading and check out our new Shop tab on our homepage to see some items we suggest for overall survival and preparation.