Most knowledgeable wilderness survivalists will tell you that although you can only survive about three days without water, you can survive for numerous days and even weeks without food provided that you are conservative with what energy you have. However, the fact of the matter is that food is every bit as important in a survival situation as water is and thus, procuring food should be your third priority after obtaining fresh, drinkable, water and either finding or building suitable shelter.
Although there are numerous edible plants available in the wilderness, obtaining enough protein is essential to your ability to remain healthy because consuming protein not only increases your metabolism which, in turn, keeps you warmer, it provides the building blocks your body needs to maintain your muscle mass so that you can continue surviving until either help arrives to find you or you manage to find help on your own. Thus, while there are numerous different primitive means of procuring a meal such as snares and traps as well as primitive weapons that will enable you to catch fish as well as small and medium sized game, the fact is that carrying a survival rifle as a companion to your other survival gear will make the task of procuring the protein you need much easier.
But, what constitutes a good survival rifle? Well, it must be compact, lightweight, and, it should break down into two or more pieces for easy carry in a back pack, canoe, or kayak. In addition, since the purpose of a survival rifle is to procure food as opposed to defending yourself from attack by large predators, it should fire the .22 LR rimfire cartridge because this cartridge is readily available, is very compact and thus is easy to transport, and it is capable of humanely harvesting almost any small game animal.
Related:Homemade .22 Cal Steampunk Gatling Gun
Fortunately for us, there are five rifles that fit this bill perfectly but, each of them has their advantages and disadvantages:
- The Browning Grade 1 Semi-Auto .22 Rifle – although not technically a survival
rifle, the Browning Semi-Auto .22 rifle is nonetheless well suited for the job. Originally designed for both plinking and hunting, the Browning Grade 1 features high grade, walnut, fore and butt stocks for a very pleasant appearance and, it holds 11 rounds in a tubular magazine that is loaded through a port in the butt stock. Also, both the fore stock and barrel are easily and quickly detachable and, it measures 37 inches when assembled, 19.25 inches when taken down, and it weighs 5 lbs. 3 oz. Last, the current MSRP is $699.99
- The Savage/Stevens Model 30 Favorite Take-down Version .22 Rifle – The Savage
/Stevens Model 30 Favorite has truly been a long time favorite with hunters who favor a compact, lightweight, .22 LR. for hunting small game. Featuring a lever action which retracts a falling breech block to expose the back of the chamber, the Model 30 is a lightweight, single shot, rifle that features an American walnut stock and fore end and which measures 36.75 inches when assembled, has a 21 inch octagon barrel, and weighs 4.25 lbs. However, please note that although this rifle is currently out of production, it can still be found on the pre-owned gun market at such sites as Gunbroker.com.
- The Marlin “Papoose” Model 70 PSS .22 Rifle – The Marlin Papoose on the oth
er hand is a no-frills, purpose built, survival rifle that has a stainless steel receiver and a removable, 16.25 inch, stainless steel, barrel combined with a black, fiberglass-filled, butt stock and no fore stock. Also, it has a detachab
le 7 round magazine and it measures 35.25 inches when assembled while weighing 3.25 lbs. Last, the current MSRP is $328.82
- The Henry Repeating Arms AR-7 .22 Rifle – The AR-7 made by Henry Repeating Ar
ms is also a no-frills, purpose built, survival rifle and it has been the exclusive choice of the U.S. Air Force since its introduction. Also, it features a semi-automatic action and two detachable, 8 round, magazines combined with a 16 inch barrel and a hollow, ABS plastic, butt stock available with your choice of a camouflage finish or a black, Teflon coated, finish designed in such a way that the barrel, the receiver, and both, eight round magazines can be stored inside of the butt stock to create a very compact, watertight, package that floats. In addition, it measures a mere 16.5 inches when disassembled and weighs 3.5 lbs. Last, the current MSRP for the black version is $290.00 and the camouflage version retails for $350.00.
- The Rossi Single Shot Matched Pair .22 Rifle/ 20 Gauge Shotgun – last but not
least, we have the Rossi Single Shot Matched Pair which is a unique survival rifle combination that is available in both blued and matte nickel models. Also, it is available in several different caliber/gauge configurations but, for survival purposes, the .22 LR/.410 shotgun combination is the best choice since the shotgun barrel will fire both shot shells and .41 caliber lead slugs for hunting both small and medium sized game. Last, although no length specifications are listed for this gun on the Rossi web site, it does say that this particular combination weighs 3.75 lbs. and that the current MSRP is $263.21.
Last, although many experienced woodsmen consider the .22 LR to be the perfect wilderness survival cartridge and the five rifles listed above to be the best of the best when it comes to compact, lightweight, survival rifles, they each have their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, while the Browning is a beautiful rifle and is an excellent choice for hunting and plinking, it is rather expensive and thus, it may be difficult for some people to convince themselves to carry it in a survival pack. On the other hand, the Rossi is a very basic rifle/shotgun combination and thus, it may not be ergonomic enough for some shooters. Whereas, the take-down version of the Stevens Model 30 Favorite is an excellent compromise but, they can be hard to find. So, that leaves both the Marlin Papoose and the Henry AR-7 (which are actually very similar to each other in both appearance and operation as well as features) as the most popular choices for dedicated wilderness survivalists. However, regardless of which model you choose, they each perfectly fit the niche of a compact, lightweight, survival rifle.
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Bill Bernhardt is a professional outdoor/wildlife writer and is a professional fly fishing instructor and guide as well as a professional hunting guide. He is an avid outdoorsman with expertise in fly fishing, hunting, firearms, archery, cutlery, outdoor survival, camping, and kayak touring.
I don’t think you images of the rifles matches the adjoining description. I’ll leave it at that.
Yeah, I noticed that too.
How could the Ruger 10/22 not be included?
Because it doesn’t breakdown for carrying in a backpack.
You obviously haven’t heard of the 10/22 Takedown model. It comes in a rugged carry bag. Not only do I have my Ruger stored in mine, but there’s also room for my Henry survival rifle, a Walther P-22 pistol, and several magazines, including a few BX-25 mags.
There is one 10/22 model that is in a breakdown version.
It should be #1!
I aould think that the Ruger 10/22 stainless Takedown would be a better choice than a conventional stock Browning at twice the price. With its flush mount 10 round mags and the option for much higher capacity it is a dependabke and versatile firearm.
Not mentioning the 10/22, the single most popular .22 being sold today is a glaring omission in my view.
I agree with Capt Tom I have most of the above rifles including the 10/22 stainless and by far it is the gun I would choose out of all of them. Much more rugged than the Marlin or the Henry and semi auto compared to the Rossi
While I totally agree with the Henry AR-7, how can you leave out the Ruger 10-22? Specially a Stainless version, either the take-down model or configured with a Butler Creek folding stock. Superbly reliable and simple to maintain, I believe it must be included in any “Best of Survival Rifles” short-list.
While I totally agree with the Henry AR-7, how can you leave out the Ruger 10-22? Specially a Stainless version, either the take-down model or configured with a Butler Creek folding stock. Superbly reliable and simple to maintain, I believe it must be included in any “Best of .22 Survival Rifles” short-list.
10/22 nuff said.
Before the 10-22 there was the Marlin 39A lever action, still one of the most dependable rifles around
I see that some readers are wondering why I failed to include the Ruger 10/22 stainless steel takedown model and, although I am embarrassed to admit it, the honest truth of the matter is that I did not know about it! However, now that I am aware of it, I have looked at it on Ruger’s web site and I see that it is a takedown version of their carbine model. But, although I have a 10/22 with a laminated wood stock and a heavy barrel that I absolutely love, I did have a non-takedown version of the carbine that I did not like because the length of pull was too short for me and it made the rifle uncomfortable to shoot.
I prefer my 10/22 blued takedown to the “stainless” model (which is just polished aluminum anyway). My reasoning is that my stainless version has been a jam master and my blued one has eaten any ammo I shove in. BTW, my wife And I have the Henry AR 7’s and they are nice, but much harder to aim than the 10/22. Just my opinion.
Duh, there are all kinds of devices in the market place that adjust length of pull including a rubber-like sleeve that goes on the buttstock that sells I think, for less than $10.00. I have three of them for the short l.o.p. SKS which was designed for use in Russian winters where one would be wearing heavy winter clothing.
You can not know everything, I was aware of the Ruger and would like one, I did not know about the Marlin.
If we could only get a take down version for a Calico 😜
I your length of pull is too short, put a recoil pad on it.
And now, there is the 10/22 Backpacker…
I like the Springfield Armory M6 .22/.410 survival rifle. Easy to knock down and stores ammo in stock. Have 2, one in each truck. I paracorded a cut down bolt from my crossbow to the barrels for more .22 ammo storage.
Claiming ‘expertise’ in firearms and NOT knowing about the Ruger 10/22 SS Takedown??
it’s easy to be hard.
Without a doubt,the take down ruger 10/22 with a factory 25 round magazine is the survival rifle I would choose in the .22 cal category.
Just do a search of the best .22 Takedown. Its the Ultimate Survival Rifle!
I dont know what picture is with the Browning but its a bolt action rifle in the picture not a semi auto. And Im sorry but a 10/22 not making the list makes me really question the quality of these articles.
Sorry Bill … there are many more very serviceable .22LR and combo rifles out there. I agree on the caliber, but think you need to widen the scope of the article a bit.
what a nipplehead
My choice is the trusty AR / M16 rifle (5.56 mm and .223) with a .22LR conversion. That way you have two calibers for a wide range of hunting and defense. Far too many people underestimate the capabilities and advantages of the .22LR. Here are a few… 1. Ability to carry a ridiculous amount of ammo without much space or weight. 2. The .22LR can be fatal at any range where the shooter can reliably hit the target. Note that defense does not need to be a fatal shot, incapacitate your attacker will suffice. 3. It is possible to take large game. 4. It is much quieter than larger calibers so it has less chance of scaring off potential game or attracting humans. 5. It can be reloaded in the field with common materials found almost anywhere. That is a huge advantage in a world where commercial ammo or reloading components are no longer available. 6. It is a proven design and has served reliably for decades and many wars.
5. It can be reloaded in the field?
Is there something about 22 rim fire I don’t know?
check out 22lrreloader.com
Where’s the Chiappa Little Badger or the X-Caliber(multi caliber), or the Savage model 42 take down.
As mentioned, the 10/22 break down should be included in this list. Likewise, there are more than a couple of the listed weapons that I’d forego in order to include my Henry lever action .22. Its accurate, reliable, lightweight, compact and a mechanically operated (rather than recoil operated semi auto) so it will not fail to cycle due to low power ammo. It is reasonably inexpensive and well made as well. It also can use .22 shorts, so its not a unitasker. Lastly, it can be cycled much quicker than even the slickest single shot. I think the author may have overlooked a few weapons, or maybe he should have made it a top 10 rather than top 5.
Consider taking a course in effective writing and proper use of punctuation.
No list is every complete. The writer gave his acessment and stated his own opinion. Some of it I agreed with and some I didn’t. Just as I did with some of the comments. I have the Henry and like a writer said it’s a little harder to sight than some of the others. But for the money and the quality it’s hard to beat for a SHTF happening. Light weight and very functional.
Wow hard to believe a article about 5 of the best 22,s and 10/22 doesn’t even get a honorable mention ? It should be at the top of your list ! I have had most of those other 22,s mentioned and can tell you none even come close to comparison in reliability , durability , and accuracy ! not to mention the vast array of accessories that can be purchased anywhere ! try and find parts for any of those other gun,s ! I must say this does call into question the credibility of this site ! ! ! And I really hate to say that . without some kind of retraction I’m afraid you are going to loose much of your firearms credibility ! I hope someone is listening , this is how good sites start to fade away !
This article is typical of much of what you find on the internet. Some self-appointed “expert” writes a half-baked article on some topic of which he has limited expertise and posts it and people who have less knowledge on the topic than our “expert” take what he says as gospel. I don’t consider myself an “expert” on any topic. I have some knowledge of firearms and I certainly feel I have more knowledge than the author of this article. He has posted the wrong pictures to illustrate the firearms he was describing. He is focused in on take-down .22s yet he admittedly is totally ignorant of the largest selling take-down .22 in the marketplace and, indeed, the largest selling .22 in the history of .22 rifles. The 10-22 is the 870 of .22 rifles. There are more after market products for that particular .22 than any other .22 ever. Replacement parts for that .22 are common. Most 10-22s will digest any brand of .22 LR without difficulty. I see this is re-posted from an earlier time. Claude, you should take down this post and dis-invite this author from submitting any further “advice”. Based on this article I would be strongly disinclined to hire him for his expertise in any of the many fields in which he professes expertise. Jack of all Trades,Master of None? I certainly wouldn’t want him proffering advice on a topic where my life might be in danger. His expertise might well be like Napoleon’s jackass. Napoleon and his staff were discussing generals to lead a campaign. The staff was suggesting a certain general but Napoleon demurred. The staff all said, “But he has been in 20 campaigns.” Napoleon replied, “So has my jackass but he doesn’t know any more now than he did in the first.”
I have experience with the Charter Arms version of the AR 7 during a two week solo back packing trip in the late 70’s. I ate small game everyday. I also found accidentally that you can easily turn this fully automatic with just a simple adjustment of putting it back together incorrectly. This is my choice of a one gun .22 survival rifle. Mr. Stoner who designed this and the M16 did quite well. So if you really want to discover a good survival rifle. Load up your back pack and go walking for two weeks in the wilderness.
I find the best of .22’s are the ones that will take malty different .22 loads. From shorts to long rifles. Since you can always use different .22 rounds. Might not find long rifles. But plenty of shorts ? This is just my option.
I like the Henry lever, but would much rather have a marlin lever in .22 if I could find one. As for the Henry being reasonably inexpensive, I have not yet found a Henry rifle that was relatively inexpensive. They are just too proud of themselves for my budget. I will stick with my 10/22 especially in the suppressed mode. I like a simple single shot .22, or tube fed bolt. The little youth .22 rifle the Cricket would make a really nice light weight single shot rifle. You would have to customize the butt stock to increase the length of pull. It is very basic. I don’t like the plastic front sight though. But that is easily fixed. I do like the savage 410/.22 though. They also made a 20 gauge combo I believe. But the .410 slug is capable of taking a deer, and used as a two legged predator defense. If you can find the sabot slugs for the 410 they can be quite accurate, out to 50 yds.
The Browning Grade 1 Semi-Auto .22 Rifle, word of caution with this outstanding rifle. When the bolt is removed there is a small slot machined into the receiver that holds a small metal part that only allows one round at a time. This little piece falls out very easily and can be hard to find.
The omission of the 10/22 takedown was a poor one. However, Unless you’re backpacking why would you use the take down feature? If you’re hunting it needs to be together, if you might be expecting trouble, the rifle still needs to be in one piece. However the 10/22 TD is expensive-$350-400. I can buy two or three used semi-auto 22’s for that. I just paid my top price for a Norinco ATD ($225), this is a clone of the Browning. I have 3 Model 60’s (17 shot tube feed) that work great: bought them at auctions for $150 or less. I also have a super Winchester Pump w/tubular feed that’s almost as quick to shoot as an autoloader (less than $200). All of these required a good teardown and cleaning but they all are flawless in operation.
I was just reminded by your post that I absolutely love the old Remington, and Winchester pumps. And they shot short, long, and long rifle, and CB caps. My Brother had a Rossi copy of the Remington pump, and loved it. He also had the Henry ar7 and really liked it also.
You are forgetting the venerable Cooey Mod 39. Single shot. Nothing to go wrong. Easy maintenance. Accurate. Tried the AR7. Nope. Tried Marlin Papoose. Nope. Both failed. Too many plastic parts. No plastic on a Cooey. None on the old Winchester or Remingtons either. Some people are missing the point of the article I believe. It was about a good survival rifle. Not a “combat” rifle. Remember also the .22 has killed every game animal on the face of North America. Small and large.
I love my new Henry AR-7. Lightweight and collapsible, which suits me well up here in Alaska where we do a lot of hiking and backpacking, and it’s pretty accurate from what I’ve seen thus far. My ONLY gripe about the AR-7 is that you’d have to store the larger magazines somewhere other than inside the stock since it can only hold the two 8 round mags there. Still, it was an excellent buy in my opinion.
If I was to use a .22 cal. for survival it certainly would not be a single shot. I would want capacity and accuracy as with a small round like a. .22 bullet placement is critical. It is hard to reload when running hence the high capacity requirement. Not everything one will need to shoot at can’t shoot back.
What no marlin 60? I’ve been using it for 15 years when I go trapping.
Cool. But what do you use when you go hunting? : /
One of the first steps in becoming an “expert” in anything is to take what other “experts” have said and done and verify the truth of it for yourself. Then you’ll know.
And then you’ll realize the Ruger 10/22 Take-down is just about the best survival weapon you can tote around when the CHTF. (crap)
Okay, I think everyone piled on enough. 10/22 syn/stainless would be my choice with 3 bmx mags. Aside from that, how about the ruger charger takedown?
Aha moment? 10.xx inch barrel, eaaasyy to add small scope (skip the red dot, batteries eventually become an issue), integrated bi-pod already there and accepts all mags although the 15 round might be advised……might
It breaks down….too? Takes less space and compliments the number one rule in survival….survive.
Add some hyper velocity ammo for defense and for the first 30-40 yards you have near 22 mag performance?
Self defense? Check.
Now add taking game. I love all three of my 10/22’s and yet none have a bi-pod? Enter the charger. The 10 inch barrel does not sacrifice much ballistically in the first 75 yds. The distance at which 90% of YOUR rounds will be placed.
Read: it will take small game…..too?
Read: it will take miscreants…..too?
Add the bi-pod, small scope if you need or want it and darn near everyone in your simpson party can become an annie oakly…..too?
Charger 10/22 takesown in laminate stock, teflon coated barrel….give it some thought…..oh and it accepts all the 10/22 mags……too….
I hike around 6 days a week, camp often, have been shooting for decades. While I shoot all sorts of calibers, in revolvers, rifles, and pistols, big bore & small, I think I’ve been after the ideal trail or survival gun much of my life.
22LR is a great round, cheap to shoot, and great for small game, but I’ve actually concluded I like 22 WMR better as a survival & trail round. It is almost as small as LR, so very easy to carry ammo in the pack, much smaller & lighter than any centerfire round, can still take down small game, but offers a much harder hitting round out of longer barrels, capable of taking down a predator with good shot placement, if needed.
As far as what to pack, I actually think a 8 or 9 round revolver in 22 WMR, 4 or 5 inch barrel, light, accurate, and reliable, is pretty ideal. Ruger has some nice A & DA options, as do others. I like the KT PMR30 too as a trail gun. Less reliable, but higher capacity, and nice & light, also accurate, and they are more available now, so prices are down. Probably not as durable, but still nice for that use.
On the rifle front, I’ve owned the original Armalite version of the AR-7 for decades. I later added the Charter version too, but do not have the Henry version. I do have several Henry levers which I like, including 22LR & 22 WMR versions. Love em.
The AR7 is a nice light package, but they do not cycle as well a the 10/22, and are definitely less reliable. Not a big fan of the sites either, but light, small, floats, etc. I like my 10/22s or plinking. 10/22 carbines are short, reliable, and the take down breaks down into a nice package, but they are a bit fat, and a bit heavy compared to other options or the trail IMO.
Love the Browning levers & Semi auto you listed. My BL22 is one of my favs, but wouldn’t use it for survival.
Have not bought a Papoose yet, but am looking at it.
I recently added an interesting survival option worth consideration, a KSA Cricket in 22 WMR. I know it is a gun designed for a child, and only a single shot, but OAL is only 30 inches, shorter than all of the above, and it weighs only 3 lbs, also less than all the ones you listed, the 22 WMR hits hard, and the stock is hollow. If you pull of the butt plate, you can store matches, a fishing kit, ammo, etc.
Thinking it might be worth having at camp, along with a 22 WMR revolver, both using the same ammo.
Nothing was mentioned about Winchester 22 pump. Is it obsolete? It holds a tube and it breaks down into two parts. Fits into a small backpack.
Can you get rid of the annoying ad that covers the blooming screen when your trying to scroll down?
Who thought of this one? It’s so annoying
Savage .22 L.R. stainless bolt . Had the muzzle threaded for suppressor. Whisper quite and great for squirrel hunting.