The Best Survival Guns to Have

You can’t discuss survival too long without getting into the need to discuss firearms. While there are survival situations where a firearm is not needed, most situations are best faced with a firearm in your hands. Many of the dangers you can face in a survival situation can be eliminated or at least reduced by having a gun at hand. At times, you may not even know the problems exist, because an adversary seeing your gun decides to go another way.

Firearms provide the most secure protection available. While no firearm is guaranteed to keep you alive, they do provide a great equalizer when someone or something comes at you to do you harm. On top of that, there is no easier way to hunt than with a gun.

To say that there is one best survival gun would be a bit of a misstatement. Survival situations are varied, so the guns one needs are varied as well. The trick is to find the best guns for surviving a variety of situations, so that you don’t have to walk around carrying an arsenal on your back.

Survival Uses of Guns

As with solving any other problem, we must start by defining the survival situations which would warrant the use of a firearm. There are actually a large number of these, but we can break them down into a few basic categories.

Personal defense

Personal defense refers to protecting yourself from someone who wants to do you harm. That could be a single criminal, some criminals working together, a government agent (in the case of martial law) or a hungry desperate man looking for food for his family. In any of these cases, you are confronted by a potentially violent person who is threatening your life and safety. In this case, a gun gives you the ability to stop them from attacking you.

Most personal defense situations take place at very short range. This can be anywhere from belly to belly up to about 20 feet. Rarely are you put in a personal defense situation where an attacker is shooting at you from 50 feet away.

Home defense

Home defense is a bit more complicated than personal defense. We are assuming here that there is an actual attack against your home, whether by criminals performing a home invasion to steal from you or a gang which has formed during a post-collapse scenario. It could also mean protecting your home from government troops in extreme situations.

There are two main differences between home defense and personal defense. The first is that you are probably facing multiple adversaries, rather than a single criminal or even two criminals. Secondly, if you are being attacked by enough enemies, you will probably need to move the fight outdoors, attacking them as they storm your house, rather than waiting until they are inside.

With this in mind, your firearm selection needs to take into consideration the greater range, as well as the greater number of targets. You may need to fire quickly, in order to prevent that mob from making it into your home.

Defense against wild animals

Other than aliens from outer space and zombies, wild animals are the only thing you are likely to have to defend yourself against, other than humans. Fortunately for us, most animals are more afraid of us than we are of them. So, they will most likely avoid a confrontation. Nevertheless, rabid animals or those that feel threatened may attack.

The biggest problem with protecting yourself from wild animals is that they are harder to stop than people are. A large animal, such as a bear, may absorb a lot of lead, before they slow down. Bears and wild boar have layers of gristle over their breastbone, which make a very effective bullet-proof vest. Animals also move quickly on the attack, making them hard targets to hit.

Hunting for food

While not all survival situations provide the opportunity, you should always look at hunting as a means of augmenting your food supplies. Besides having the right firearms and knowing how to use them, hunting requires knowing about the animals, their habitats and how to find them in those habitats.

There are many different types of animals, making for many different types of hunting. So there is no one firearm which is ideal for hunting them all. If you are planning on hunting for food, you will need a number of different firearms to match the different types of hunting that you do.

Choosing the Right Firearms for Your Survival Needs

Generally speaking, every member of your survival team (or family) should have two guns; a sidearm and a long gun. The sidearm or pistol is your primary self-defense weapon. It is only intended for use in short-range situations, as they lose accuracy quickly over range. One firearms instructor put it this way, “The pistol is what you shoot while you’re trying to get to your rifle.” With that in mind, the pistol should be holstered on the person at all times.

Whether you choose a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol is largely a matter of personal preference. I prefer a semi-automatic for the ability to quickly reload by changing out the magazine. Some prefer the revolver for its simpler design. When the shooting starts, I hope they’re good enough shots to finish the fight in five shots.

Since there is no one standard survival scenario, I recommend having a combination of rifles and shotguns in your survival team. This gives you the greatest flexibility for whatever survival need. Guns can always be passed back and forth between team members as needed, but each member should have one that is their prime weapon.
I don’t recommend fully-automatic firearms in your survival team. The main purpose of fully-automatic firearms is to lay down suppressive fire. By putting out a lot of volume of fire, you force the enemy to keep their head down. However, you burn through a lot of ammunition that way.



The shotgun is probably the most universal all-around long gun there is. You can change the load for shooting anything from small game and birds, to hunting large game. While its range is limited for large game, a good hunter can still bring in a deer if they are patient.
In a home defense situation or firefight the shotgun puts out a lot of firepower in a short amount of time. Most people use a combination of 00 buckshot and slugs. This combination provides a combination of spread and lethality. You just about can’t beat it.

Short-barreled semi-automatic rifles

Short-barreled rifles, such as the AR-15 are excellent weapons for home defense or a firefight. Their biggest problem is that the bullet can go right through the target and hit something behind it. The big advantage is their adaptability and the large amount of ammo they hold. With 30 round magazines, you can do a lot of shooting when you need to. They can also be used for hunting large and small game at a medium range.

If you have an AR-15 that’s chambered for .223 caliber or 5.56 mm ammunition, it would be a good idea to buy an adapter kit for it to shoot .22 long rifle as well. This kit consists of a bolt and magazine, as the barrel is already the right size for the slightly smaller ammunition. This will give you the ability to hunt small game.

Hunting rifles

Every survival team should have at least one hunting rifle. This could be an AR-15, with a slightly longer barrel and a scope. The idea is to have at least one long-range gun in the team. This will be the main hunting gun for hunting big game. It can also be used as a sniper rifle, if needed.

.22 Rifles


The capabilities of the .22 rifle are somewhat limited, as they fire a very small bullet. However, that small bullet is ideal for hunting small game. This is an excellent gun to arm children who are old enough and responsible enough to be trusted with guns. It makes them part of the team and gives them the responsibility of hunting for small game.

What if it’s Just You?

So far, we’ve been talking about this issue from the viewpoint of a survival team. However, what if you’re trying to survive by yourself; what should you do then?

That’s an issue that has a lot of controversy around it. Nevertheless, I’ll give you my opinion and the reasons thereof. First of all, start out with a good semi-automatic pistol, in the largest caliber you are comfortable shooting. That’s your personal defense weapon, so you want lots of magazines for it. I carry six magazines for my pistol in my survival rig, including the one that’s in the gun.
For a long gun, I recommend a shotgun. While AR-15s have a lot of capability, the 12 gauge shotgun is the most versatile gun there is. The one thing you are giving up is range. With a shotgun, shooting slugs, you’re limited to about 150 feet. That’s not to say that the slug won’t travel much farther than that, but that your ability to shoot it accurately is limited to 75 feet.

If you feel that you are in a situation where you are going to have to do a lot of longer range shooting, I would change the shotgun for an AR-15. However, unless you’re going off to fight the government, I can’t think of a situation where that would be necessary.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave

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