For this article I will go into the topic of a survival rifle. I will do my best to keep this specific to just survival purposes and solely rifle specific and leave hunting and other survival firearms to another post further down the road. The main points to address for a “survival” rifle are as follows:
Related Article: What is a Survival Kit?
First off we will jump into region. This is a subject most people need to take into account more than they do. Most preppers understand the region they’re in and the importance of this is primarily game or threats that are region specific. For example in the hills of Nebraska I know there are coyotes, bobcats, and sparsely spaced mountain lions for the major predators. Game animals include everything from squirrels to deer. With knowledge of this I can begin looking at appropriate calibers for the dangers and game. Keep this in mind and do your research of your area to make sure you choose a rifle that can handle the dangers and game that might be there. If you live in a region without large alpha predators this quest for the ideal survival rifle opens up from a simple rimfire to centerfire rifles. Sticking with the example of Nebraska and its parameters a simple .22 LR is adequate for even deer at close enough range with a well aimed shot and useful for coyotes in certain distances.
Next we go to weight. Most hunters and I’m sure most military people understand how crucial the weight of a rifle can be. Essentially you should keep the weight down to a minimum as long as the chambering can handle it. Even large caliber guns tend to have an available version in a lightweight platform. If you are walking through dense terrain or at a higher elevation the lighter the better for your rifle. A good rule of thumb for strictly a survival rifle would be no more than six pounds. Try to find lighter if possible but keep six pounds as a good guideline.
Now we will jump into simplicity. Personally this is very important when choosing a rifle that I intend to take out with me with the potential that it may keep me alive if the worst case scenario should arise. Bolt guns are extremely simple and easy to clean with even just the shirt on your back to wipe a dirty bolt off and check the chamber and you’re good to go. Jamming tends to be minimal which is potentially the most important factor of a survival rifle; knowing it will go bang when you need it to. Semi-automatic rifles are good in terms of firepower and most are simple designs after you inspect them and do a field stripping with them. The downside is more moving parts which equates to more things to potentially fail. Many semi-autos have proven themselves in terms of durability and being free of malfunctions it is just the potential is there for a problem. Consider this when looking for a gun to fit your region.
Finally we come to the last topic of availability. There are two main points to this that need mentioning. First is the availability to caliber/ammunition. If you go with .22 LR it, generally speaking depending where you shop, is still very available. The supply has not meant the demand but it is increasing again to meet the demand. Also 5.56 mm/223 Rem is a capable survival round for most of the U.S. and is widely available in all different bullet styles and power. The second point is the actual availability of a firearm. Certain states may not have the possibility to get certain semi-auto rifles or other laws that I’m not even aware of. Keep this in mind as you look to select a survival rifle that it is simple to get and most gun stores will have a steady supply of.
Thanks for reading and post your choice of survival rifle. Soon I will post a review over the issues and rectification of my issue with a particular rifle.