The Ultimate Survival Firearm

by Erich

ruger-10-22Part of my tier-2 survival kit (which I keep in my car) is a Ruger 10/22 rifle. From a pure survival perspective (I’m talking wilderness survival not end-of-the-world scenario where you’re fending off looters) I feel a 22 LR rifle (especially the Ruger 10/22) is the ultimate survival firearm. Here are the benefits:

  • It’s super reliable: Whether you’re in an environment that is sandy, cold, hot, dry, or humid the 10/22 can take the stress and keep on shooting. I’ve shot Ruger 10/22s that haven’t been cleaned for over a decade with regular use and it still fires not only reliably but accurately as well.
  • They are cheap: For under $250 you can get yourself a brand-new rifle and for under $200 you can get a great used one.
  • The ammo is dirt cheap: From a price perspective, the cost of 22LR ammunition is almost negligible. Even in the current high-demand environment you can get a box of 550 rounds for around $13! No other ammo can compare.
  • The ammo is light: My bug-out bag contains a box of 550 rounds of 22LR ammunition which is a considerable amount of ammunition and a negligible amount of weight. All very important when mobility is key.
  • They are relatively quiet: When shooting the 22 LR it sounds more like a glorified BB gun then a rifle. This can be a huge advantage if you need a meal and don’t want to attract attention (I also love the crossbow for this reason…more on that in another post). If you want even less sound then be sure to purchase subsonic rounds (these are a bit more expensive).
  • They’re very accurate: If you’re shooting within 100 yards, the 22L rifle is extremely accurate. Perfect for small game.
  • They’re easy to store and maintain: Most 22 LR rifles (like the Ruger 10/22) are very easy to maintain and when broken down they can fit into a bug-out bag without a problem.

Let me reiterate that I do not recommend the 10/22 or any 22 LR rifle as a home defense weapon. For that purpose, there are far better options available like a shotgun, pistol, or larger-caliber semi-auto carbine like an AR-15 or AK.

But with that said, I wouldn’t trade my 10/22 for any other firearm when caught out in the wilds. So what are you waiting for? Go out and get yourself one!

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Comment by Randy
2009-12-12 18:39:40

Another excellent choice would be the M-6 scout. Very draconian and not much to look at but having a rifle and shotgun option is nice. I opted for 22 hornet/410 option, I choose 22 hornet for the range and extra power. Rounds are expensive though however light enough to carry several hundred.

Comment by Jimmy
2009-12-13 20:38:40

I agree with the .22 choice for wilderness survival. You might consider the AR-7 for stowing in your backpack.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2009-12-14 09:00:53


Thanks for your comments. I’ve heard good things of the M-6 as a survival rifle. Just for the fact that it has dual capabilities (shotgun/22) in one system is great. Here’s a great review with some neat modifications:

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2009-12-14 09:07:30


Thanks for the info. I’ve never heard of the AR-7 before. That’s pretty sweet that you can store the barrel and trigger/bolt assembly in the stock. That’s the most compact rifle I’ve seen. And at around $200 the price is right. I think I found my next purchase 🙂 thanks Jimmy!

Comment by David
2009-12-14 23:25:05

Your 10/22 will out shoot an AR7 all day. AR7’s are a short range .22 only. You give up accuracy for size. I’d rather have a child sized .22 than an AR7 in my bag.

Just my $.22 worth. 😉

Comment by Erich
2009-12-15 15:00:06

Thanks for the comments David. How short is short range? Are we talking under 25 yards?

Comment by rick jones
2010-03-07 23:45:32

as a new ar-7 owner, i must say it is the most fun gun i have had in a long time.
the difference in accuracy is due to the light barrel weight. with a rest it is as good
as the shooter. a 10/22 is an excelent gun, but the ar-7 has its place

Comment by TacticalIntelligence
2010-03-08 15:25:18

Hey Rick,

I’m still up in the air with the AR-7. It’s nice to hear someone else saying good things about the accuracy. It seems like most of the people I’ve talked to have issues with either the accuracy or the durability of the rifle. Btw, which model do you have? The one made by Henry (Henry Repeating Arms)? I heard that one is better.

Comment by Bill
2010-03-20 13:20:05

As a retired law enforcement officer, I can tell you that I saw more people die from a .22 cal handgun or rifle than any other caliber. The Isreali army uses the 10 / 22 in urban warfare. I know of several police special services units that also use the .22 cal in thier list of weapons.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-03-20 23:10:31

Good point Bill. I remember reading stories of the Nazi assassins using a .22 handgun for most of their hits. Also the Israeli Mossad and sky marshals carry a 22lr handguns (see for a great article on this).

It definitely should be treated with respect.

Comment by Bruce
2010-09-08 13:22:17

for a survival break down gun, What is your opinion on the marlin papoose?

2010-09-08 16:02:40


I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Papoose (unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to try it myself so this is only hearsay) — It’s lightweight, can be quickly broken down for easy storage, it’s reliable & durable, and is accurate (something the AR-7 seems to get a lot of criticism over).

The one funky thing is the lack of a stock. But with a little modification in your shooting style you’ll be shooting 1″ groupings all day with this thing. A definite good purchase in my opinion.

– Erich

Comment by booter
2010-12-06 01:32:51

I bought my first of several RUGER 10/22’s in 1970, and my first ARMALITE AR-7 a year later, the 1st-generation of AR-7’s had a steel sleeve on the detachable barrel, so were heavier than today’s iterations. The 10/22 is inherently a more accurate firearm, but not a remarkable difference, ”I’m not sure what you’re basing your opinions on, as they both use and chamber the exact same rounds.” ”A bullet fired from any firearm will go to where the barrel is pointed” I was an armorer in my unit in VietNam, I then joined Sherriff’s SWAT, and have been shooting firearms all my life. So I can accurately comment on generalities of many firearm systems. ”What ‘child-sized .22 firearm’ using the exact same round as the AR-7 is ‘inherently way more accurate’ than the AR-7 system [which was designed as a survival weapon for downed aircraft pilots in VietNam].” The barrel length of the AR-7 is, which is more than adequate for stabilizing the trajectory & flight of any modern .22-caliber projectile, I fail to see how a ‘child-sized .22’ can exceed the performance parameters of a ‘full-sized .22 survival firearm’. As with writers for all the popular gun mags today ”who earn their keep by comparing one caliber or operating system with another” or putting down the ballistics of a certain size caliber ”because it won’t knock out a full-size HUMMER flat out at top speed” ”But I’ll just bet that not one of them would volunteer to be a life-sized target for any of these ‘inferior calibers’ I wouldn’t want to be shot at with someone dropping the hammer on an AR-7, would you volunteer to be a target in front of an AR-7, would you-David….

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2010-12-06 12:16:16

Thanks for the good info Booter,

I’ve been leaning towards the Marlin Papoose but the AR-7 is still in the running. I prefer the way the AR-7 breaks down, specifically how the barrel, clip, and action fit into the butt stock. I just can’t seem to get over the supposed “negatives” about the reliability. I think I’ll just have to make the jump and purchase the thing and then do an honest test myself — comparing it with my 10/22.

Comment by ke4sky
2011-02-22 16:16:47

Ruger 10/.22 will outshoot the Papoose or the AR-7 and it works with subsonic ammo which the others don’t. Supressed barrels readily available if you don’t mine the Class III tax stamp. Its rotary magazine is also more reliable. A folding stock, shortening the barrel to 16 inches, attaching an M1913 rail for an optical sight, and having back-up iron sights available is just the ticket.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-03-21 20:41:30

Yeah, one of my favorite aspects of the Ruger is all of the add-ons available. Similar to the AR15, there are so many 3rd-party vendors that manufacture practically any customization you can think of. It’s a great firearm.

Comment by donkey
2011-03-17 18:33:22

the ar7 was made with stronger springs as henry was afraid of its use in illegal activities due to its compact nature, with the stronger springs the rifle cannot fire subsonic rounds, its not a drawback of design neglect as it is for purpose.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-03-21 20:37:10

Very interesting. I wasn’t aware of that, thanks.

Comment by Scott
2011-07-18 22:04:46

I agree, I was told that the .22LR subsonic with a silencer is an assasins weapon of choice.

Comment by Jason
2011-11-10 11:23:07

.22lr is the best caliber ever.

Comment by Mountaineer
2011-11-24 15:39:13

I have a gun similar to the M-6, but it is of American make. It comes with a stock, a .22 rifle barrel, and a .20 shotgun barrel. The barrels are interchangeable, so it offers some nice flexibility. The gun also came with a rubber shock pad for the stock and a compact Kevlar pack that has a shoulder strap for easy carrying and holds both barrels, the stock, and also has room for some ammunition and a serviceable knife. It’s made by Rossi, and I would feel comfortable with it in a survival situation. Just watch out when breaking the gun while it has something in the chamber, it has a spring-loaded ejection system to make reloading quicker. Make sure to point it away from yourself because it’ll knock out teeth.

Comment by Mountaineer
2011-11-24 15:59:34

I think this link leads to the gun I was talking about. If not, go the RossiUSA website, click the “Matched Pairs” button, and find the Model S201220BS | 20GA / .22LR.

Comment by Oblio13
2011-12-27 11:14:49

If you want the ULTIMATE ultimate survival rifle, spend some time and money modifying your 10-22.

The single most cost-effective thing you can do is upgrade the trigger. No matter how accurate a rifle is, you simply can’t shoot it well with a heavy trigger pull. Drop-in hammers like those from Power Custom will change the geometry of the sear surfaces and cut the heavy factory “lawyer” trigger pull in half. The best triggers are made by Kidd, but they’ll cost more than the rifle. Still money well spent if you’re serious about your rifles, though.

Next comes an aftermarket barrel. All my 10-22’s have .92 diameter barrels from Tactical Solutions. They have stainless steel liners surrounded by fluted aluminum for a good compromise of light weight and stiffness. Most of mine are threaded at the muzzle end for suppressers (“silencers”), and my favorite has an integral (“built-in”) suppressor. Which brings us to:

Suppressors. Good ones aren’t cheap, and you’ll have to pay a $200 tax and do a paperwork drill on top of that. But once you have one, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to live without one.

There are plenty of aftermarket stocks available, but I usually just enlarge the barrel channel of the factory stock to accommodate the thicker barrel.

And the finishing touches:

A nylon bolt stop, which will dramatically reduce the noise of the action.

A picatinny rail, with or without integral sights.

A good optic.

A sling made of paracord.

What you end up with is a rifle that’s a joy to plink and hunt with, and the loudest sound anyone will hear will be the impact of the bullet.

The most accurate, reliable ammo is Eley Tenex, but it’s expensive. Winchester Dynapoints are what I usually use, and I buy them by the 5,000 round case.

I haven’t taken any videos of my 10-22’s, but here’s on of a 77-22 with an integral suppresser. The 10-22’s are quite this quiet because the action makes noise when it cycles, but you’ll get the general idea:

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-28 11:58:15

Thanks for the fantastic tips for mods. Much appreciated!

Comment by Oblio13
2011-12-27 11:27:57

Bingo, that’s what I used to keep behind the seat of my bush plane – a 10-22 with a 16″ Tactical Solutions barrel, a Butler Creek folding stock, a Picatinny rail with integral sights from NDS, an Aimpoint and a paracord sling. Never had to use it in a real survival situation, but it was comforting to know it was there and I had a lot of fun with it in the backcountry. I carried it on a long walk away from this, but didn’t use it:


Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-28 11:57:47


Comment by JJ Johnson
2012-11-03 21:55:47

I agree with you that a good reliable .22 rifle is a great Survival Rifle, but would suggest that the Marlin Model 60 is just slightly better, for two reasons. It is slightly cheaper and it has an attached feed tube which can’t be lost. The detachable magazine on a Ruger 10/22 can easily be lost and then the weapon is just a single shot rifle. But that is really a minor difference the Ruger 10/22 is awesome! Great post. Thanks. JJ

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-11-03 22:55:17


Thanks for the great comments. I’ve heard some good things about the Marlin (have not tried it myself though).

– Erich

Comment by D. Williams
2014-05-28 01:37:40

The 10-22 is an excellent firearm but I prefer a bolt or single shot for a couple reasons.
1- they will shoot shorts, longs, long rifles and bird shot.
2-All semi auto’s are somewhat more finicky on ammo.

Myself I carry a Savage 24C most everywhere with me and have for over 25 years– 22 over 20ga, breaks down and has a carry case.I am considering an ar 7 for my wife if I can’t find another 24C – or possibly a Savage 42 in 22lr over 410.

The combo guns are in my own opinion the absolute best for an all around gun– small game to medium.


Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2014-05-29 16:16:03

Some great thoughts D. Thanks. I do love the Savage 24C. Have you checked out the 10/22 Takedown yet? That may be a better choice than the AR-7. Check it out.

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Comment by Rem870
2017-01-30 12:20:54

What about stopping power? I think you need to have something more powerful in your arsenal.

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