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Bug-Out Bag: Your One Survival Gun

In the unlikely event of a super volcano, nuclear holocaust or viral epidemic, which firearm would be your best bet to help you stay alive?

12/9/2010

Prior to Y2K, during our spare time as gun magazine editors, two colleagues and I idly argued over what would constitute the ideal "Omega Man" gun, referring to the Boris Sagal-directed, post-apocalyptic science fiction movie The Omega Man, starring our beloved Charlton Heston.

I have obviously dated myself by referencing such an old movie. Today, the Omega Man gun would be described as the firearm for the Zombie Apocalypse.

The idea of the Omega Man gun was simple enough: What would be the one firearm to have in the event of a total social breakdown? Don't think of anything as common as an earthquake, hurricane, financial collapse or NFL lock-out. No, we're talking about a major event here, like a super volcano, nuclear holocaust or viral epidemica game-changer. What would be the best firearm to have in that (hopefully) unlikely event?

SPECULATING
Oh, sure. I know what you're thinking: Gun writers don't have anything better to do than imagine the end of the world? I assure you that, as I write this, I am not wearing my Reynolds Wrap fedora nor I am I huddled in an underground bunker. It was the dire predictions about Y2K that started the conversation. However, such hypothetical scenarios are endless fun to speculate about, especially since popular and literary culture is rife with post-apocalyptic books and movies.

Sure, there are guilty pleasure movies like Zombieland, but there are also highbrow meditations on the subject, such as Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer prize-winning novel "The Road." And, if you indulged in either, you probably gave some thought to the kind of gun you'd like to have in that situation. Why? In most books and movies of the sort, the protagonist's problems could likely be remedied with the right gun. Have you ever noticed that a "psycho killer" movie never has an NRA member among the pool of potential victims?

At the time, not only could we not settle on a gun; we couldn't even agree on a caliber. One selected the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO, as he was former military, while the other editor, an armchair military historian, opted for the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO. I went with the historian.

AT LAST
The reason we couldn't agree, I think, was that no such gun existed. Each had some "flaw" or, more correctly, was designed for a role other than surviving the dystopian landscape of Armageddon.

However, all these years later, I think I just may have stumbled on the exact right firearm for the Omega Man/Zombie Apocalypse scenario.

It is the ArmaLite AR-10 Carbine, specifically the 10A4CBNF 1913, accessorized with a Grip Pod and an ELCAN SpecterDR 1.5-6x scope. Here's why.

CALIBER
The gun would have to fire a military caliber, since ammunition would be limited in an Omega Man scenario and military calibers would be most plentiful. That means 5.56 x 45 mm or 7.62 x 51 mm.

Reputedly, the 5.56 wasn't designed to kill, but to wound. In the conventional wars anticipated at the time of the round's adoption, killing an enemy combatant was considered inferior to wounding him. Killing him put him out of the fight, but wounding him put him out along with the one or two comrades who had to help him from the battlefield.

Furthermore, studies determined that small unit firefights were most often won by sheer firepower. Putting a lot of lead in the air caused the opposition to "melt away." Thus, producing a withering hail of bullets could be more important than the efficacy of the individual rounds, and it is easier to carry and fire a lot of 5.56 mm than it is 7.62 mm cartridges.

The problem, though, is none of that applies in the Omega Man scenario. Your opponent may not have comrades to carry him off the battlefield. They'll be no Evac choppers, no ambulances, no aid stations or hospitals. How can you place a strain on resources that don't exist? It would likely be every man for himself, so you don't want to wound. You want to put your opponent down to stay.

Firepower? Do you really mean to waste ammunition when cartridges are now arguably the most valuable commodity in the world? Each bullet would be so precious that the idea of suppressive fire would be inconceivable. The sniper credo of "one shot, one kill" would be espoused by every survivor lucky enough to be armed.

And what about range? While the 5.56 can be accurate out to 600 yards, it usually requires specialized ammunition at that range and, even then, its terminal effect is questionable. Regular military ball will be hard enough to find in our scenario; forget about specialized rounds. However, 7.62 is good at close range and can more easily make longer shots, and do so with better terminal ballistics.

And since you'd be abandoning the city for safety and to locate food-supermarkets will have been among the first things looted-a rifle wouldn't be only a combat tool. You'd probably have to hunt, too, and the 7.62 is a better caliber for deer, antelope, elk, etc.

You could find yourself anywhere from the mountains to the plains, from forests to deserts, targeting everything from opossums to armored vehicles, so you'd need a versatile round. Given those criteria, the 7.62 would be the way to go.

PLATFORM
As for the gun itself, in the last two decades, the A2 enhancements answered practically all questions about the AR as a design. If you have doubts about it in 7.62 mm, remember that that was the design's original chambering. The AR-10 is not a beefed up AR-15; the AR-15 is a reduced-size AR-10.

Additionally, in the interim since Y2K, the AR has ventured into the hunting fields with much success, such that virtually every major manufacturer is offering AR platforms in big-game calibers, often painted in camo colors.

LENGTH
The choice of the carbine over the rifle speaks again to the need for versatility. Some days you might have to take a long shot at a deer across a neglected farm field. On others, you'll have to enter houses, stores or warehouses, scrounging. While a rifle would be best for the former, the latter requires compactness and maneuverability. The carbine's 16-inch barrel and collapsible stock would provide those attributes. Oh, there'd be a trade-off at extreme ranges, but it would be worth it. Typically, you can afford a miss at 600 yards a lot more than you can at 6 feet.

RAILS
A flat-top receiver that accepts whatever sighting system you might scrounge would be decidedly advantageous. Things like scope rings, tools, etc., would not be in reliable supply. You want a system that can mount the widest variety of sighting options possible with minimal tools, adjustment and hassle.

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105 Responses to Bug-Out Bag: Your One Survival Gun

juice box wrote:
November 29, 2014

For my money, gotta be a mossberg 590a1. You get versatility with ammo (slug, bird, etc) holds 9 rounds, and has a bayonet for low ammo/close combat. Not a long range weapon, but if I see a threat from a distance, I'll avoid it.

frank wrote:
August 19, 2014

WELL, I've just about read all the suggestions, but c'mon...not one dog? A 25# farm dog will keep away the midnight uglies while you sleep. My gun picks are - ruger 10/22, SW 357magnum 4' revolver, (for bears) or oblabla voters. Look, I'm not going to be nice, I'll take whatever I want from whoever can't stop me from taking it...so will you. You aren't gonna feed someone that sat on a fat ass and didn't prep like you did, lawyers, stockbrokers, accountants..are you going to help them or your family? There will be mobs, maybe I'll need a scope.

frank wrote:
August 19, 2014

tim rigsby (4 letters down) said it perfectly. .22 ruger rifles. want to kill a zombie? a .22 will leave a red hot tumbling piece of lead at the end of a bloody tunnel in him, 4' or 14' deep...it don't matter. Want a deer? a .22 has NO problem with a heart/lung hit. They are so fast shooting and stay on target so damn good ya can probably put three in the deer before it goes 10 feet.

Jamie Ennis wrote:
August 09, 2014

You will be trespassing on someone's property if not on state or federal land. Stealth for hunting or engage and evade if caught will be the only chance you may get. If pinned down by a person who knows the property good luck. A crossbow or silenced 22 for hunting. An AR or lever gun to get you out of a fire fight. If you have a plan you are on your way to somewhere and not just wandering around. 175lb crossbow. Fishing gear very small hooks. Rossi single shot combos 22mag/12ga or 22lr/20ga. henry ar-7 will let you run if caught. If you plan to fight m1a,4, ar10,16 AK, SKS or even a mosin nagant would get you some respect where the owner might break off the fight and just let you leave. Better that they did not know you were there in the first place.

Doug wrote:
August 02, 2014

Interesting read and some great ideas. I teach survival skills to my field crews so I find some of the reminders that maybe the gun itself is not the single greatest consideration but obviously a real asset. In the SHTF scenarios, which often happen before you are fully prepped (ain't it the way?!), you have to go with what you've already got. I spent months in dense trackless jungle in Malaita where it was too thick for a dog to bark in, and soon learned that with a knife you can survive, but preferably several knives. Forget the Rambo style knives - they are usually too big and cumbersome and often badly-balanced. A good machete is a great start (you can build your house with it), plus other smaller knives, including a Bowie style with a strong back capable of hard work and a good razor sharp folder like a Buck 110 Hunter. But back to guns: considering Australia where the previous Govt in its 'wisdom' banned semi-auto's rifles, one combination that doesn't seem to have been mentioned here is the one that I have; a Model 94 Winchester lever action in .44 Magnum with ghost ring sights and a N series S&W 6' bbl revolver in the same calibre. Sharing common ammo is pretty neat. No scopes or electronics. It may not be an ideal combo like some discussed here but the 0.44M in both rifle and revolver is gutsy to 200m, and is simple to reload if you carry a press in the car. Works well on local thin-skinned game (goats, 'roos and deer) and even on the heaviest stuff we have here, big pigs, buffalo and crocs. Both rifle and revolver would pack enough punch in urban CQB. The lever action holds 8 rounds and is short, fast and very light, the ghost rings enable fast target acquisition and it carries well alongside or in a backpack or even hung inside a greatcoat if you need to be sneaky. The 'Dirty Harry' N-series revolver packs a serious wallop that is good out to 300m easily knocking down goats in metallic silhouette and will easily put a BG or 'roo down for the count inside that range. Add to these a Pump action 12ga with two bbls (16' riot open bbl and 28' long bbl with chokes) assorted shotshells and solids and a dead simple, solidly made, light and accurate bolt-action Russian 0.22 rifle with bricks of cheap rimfire ammo and a decent 4WD to carry it all in - no one goes far here without one, it's too far to anywhere and too damn hot, and water for more than a day is a problem to carry without wheels. In short, while I'd like an AR-10 in 0.308, I can't get one here, so the alternative would be a Ruger Gunsite bolt or a Mossberg Patrol in 10 shot 0.308 configs. I figure what I already have would get me out of trouble most of the time. Thanks for reading.

Laird wrote:
May 22, 2014

This old Army medic says, yes firearms will be important in an apocalyptic scenario. I have yet to hear anyone talk of clean water and sanitation. Nothing will take you out of the fight quicker than dysentery.

Tim Rigsby[(]also[)] wrote:
February 01, 2014

The best weapon in the world is a strong body. How many folks can carry an AR-10 and a can of ammo around the woods without wheezing to a crash. A .22 rifle and pistol (or revolver) with a 100 round box of ammo could be carryed by a child or any one else in your party (even my old wimpy frame). While not the most powerful round on the planet, law enforcement stats find the .22 has more fatalities than most rounds. A family of 5 with 5 10/22s and 5 Ruger standard autos makes more sense than everyone having somthing something different. Plus, .22s and bricks of ammo are reasonably priced (well, at least until the last elections), and everyone could have there own and even extras (parts, magazines, even entire guns).

2AxeMAx wrote:
January 04, 2014

Some excellent ideas in the forum! In my humble opinion I have owned, been trained with and used many of the weapons, firearms and edged, mentioned here. My selection would be a strong, high capacity, bolt action in 7.62 X 51 or .308 win. As a sidearm and additional backup I carry a ruger SR40C and a keltec 2000 both are .40S&W. The bolt action rifle is a Ruger gunsite with a LER scope in 2x7 with backup iron sights. I can easily haul 200 rounds for the rifle and the same for the pistol and keltec 2000 for a total of 400 rounds all together. I might mention that the keltec carbine using the .40 S&W is devastating on small to medium (pig/javelina) up to about 75 yards. The rifle can easily take out deeer sized game to 300 yards with the scope on it and comes with a 10 round magazine. My spouse totes a Ruger 22/45 as well as a 10/22 threaded takedown. Both are suppressor capable and a .22 can be used for a variety of close quiet work. She hauls 500 rounds of .22 ammo including special rounds (subsonic).

Steve wrote:
August 27, 2013

The best gun is the one that will keep you alive. When I consider between having a small cal weapon like a .22 lr or a 7.62x51 I think what is more urgent eliminating a threat or hunting small game. I can capture small game in a variety of ways. You don't really want to be under attack by heavily armed thugs while trying to fend them off with a 10/22. Man is the most dangerous animal and the biggest threat to your survival. Give me an ak-47!

Bubba Hotep wrote:
March 28, 2013

I've always believed in the K I S S principle. Train with what you intend to fight with and master it. 1911 .45 (not series 80!) and a .308 Bolt gun (Ruger gunsite) Kids each have .22/.22 Mag revolver and a ruger 10/22. Wife carries a Rughe .22 LCR Magnum and a modified 12 Gauge SA S/G. Dogs have paks to carry ammo. Each of us have appropriate BoB. BoV is older diesel F-250 with more ammo, food, shelter gear and stealth equip I won't mention here.

Leonard wrote:
March 24, 2013

22 mag revolver & 22 mag rifle are my personal choice. 50[%] more power then 22 but still light weight easy shooters and can carry lots of amo. Good knife is mandatory. I'm seriously thinking of getting rid of all my other calibers. I love 22 and 22 mag , might keep my 380 for urban self defense but nothing else. 22 mag fits all the groves from target , small game hunting, survival and light self defense.

InternetExpert wrote:
March 18, 2013

Hes right, 308 battle rifle is the best 1 gun. Best 2 gun is a can of worms. Newsflash: .22 or a shotgun aint the best 1 gun.

john wrote:
March 17, 2013

Some people are full of it, people will lie about anything. A .22 is good for small game and yeah you can take down anything with a 22 but...... your not always guaranteed a kill with that small of a caliber, an assailant can easily still attack after being hit with a 22 and it's a poor choice for self defense. AR's in a survival situation is a no-no, they are fine weapons and the average forum ninja that shoots 200 rounds on the weekend will never experience any problems. In a survival situation where you may have to shoot your gun a lot and don't have cleaning equipment on hand those aluminum and synthetic cool guns that all these tactical noobes are buying will fail regardless of the caliber. Weight is an issue for those big 308's and ammo. There's no 1 gun, you need a system. A system of weapons that work in any environment. That would be your sig's h&k's sks's ak's and such. Definitely a reliable shotgun not a cheap mossberg 88, a defensive handgun. So a battle rifle for under 300 yards, a shotgun for under 50 yards and a handgun for last resort. 6 mags rifle, 75 rounds of mixed shotshell loads and 3 mags or speed loaders for a handgun. You can always get more guns and ammo if your still alive.

milito227 wrote:
March 14, 2013

I would not agree with the author on this with 2 combat tours and some time as an L.A.P.D Officer and F.B.I. firearms instructor. AR-10 is a good gun but to heavy and to many small moving parts. If you end up having to travel long distances on foot a 15 to 25 ponds of gun and ammo along with everything else is to much. For good suggestions on bug out bag guns check out Zidaho.com forums just google Zidaho bug out bag gun. P.S. There is a good company that has bug out bags with firearms included already. they sell on gunbroker under bug out bag. Four horse survival good company

josh wrote:
February 25, 2013

just get an ak 47....

Troy wrote:
January 29, 2013

I'm a guy that doesn't believe size and power is everything. I'm about efficiency. That means go as light as possible. My bug out bag includes many survival tools, knife, food rations, canteen, wire snares, fire starting kit, small tent, handheld radio with crank, folding bow with 5 arrows, and a small hatchet, ect. I find these more important. But u also have my s&w m&p 15-22. It has a hammer scope to long and close range, green laser, attached spare mag, and 4 bricks of ammo. All of this weight a little over 40 lbs. Yes it's some weight, but still light enough for me to walk around unhindered.

Chris wrote:
January 07, 2013

Best HTF gun: One that you can safely and effectively use against a BG and live to fight another day.

realist wrote:
November 13, 2012

id just go with a bolt action Lee Enfield, 30 rounds aimed in a minute. Or an FN FAL and maybe the M14, , these will be situations where killing the other guy first is the utmost priority

anzanite wrote:
October 15, 2012

VIPbodyGuard 2/23/2012 posted some good comments. There are a few points I would like to add. Out in Southern California and in similiar parts of the country most if not all of the large game animals would be killed off with in the 1st 30 days. When that happens I would be left with rabbits, squirrels and other small (non-trophy type) game for my choice of grocery shopping. All perfect targets for the 22lr (check out the smith & wesson AR15-22lr). For self defense scenarios I again would say the smaller caliber 22lr would be my preference. With a total lack of experience in live fire fight combat situations I would venture to say my shaking, due to nerves and adrenaline, would prevent me from hitting the broad side of a barn. The 22lr has extremely low recoil, follow up shots would be easier and I could shoot all day because I was able to keep a large stock pile on hand due to the low cost. Damage factor does depend on shot placement but I can tell you from raising animals I have seen everything from 300lb pigs to 1200lb steers taken with a single 22lr shot. JMO

gunnut wrote:
October 05, 2012

let us say, after it's all said and done. you're all alone, walking from storefront to storefront. looking for anything you can use. You happen upon an ammo selection in a hardware store in anyware amarica. Now I ask you, is that display case going to contain your 6.8 remingtons, your 220 swifts, or your fancy 335 Lapuas. I hope so.

Louis wrote:
September 20, 2012

I keep a Remington 870 with factory pistol grips and a walther p99 in .40 in my car as a get home bag. At home however I keep my real bob with a FNH SCAR 16 and a HK p9s and as a back up I have a suppressed FN Five-seveN and as a long range rifle at my bug out location I own several sniper rifles but my favorites are the Barrett's my M82 and te mrad are te best long range but if I have to carry them I choose my model 90 bullpup (all of these in .50 bmg) my families security specialists are all ex special forces such as devgru and delta so I feel very safe as well as my cousin in force recon and a brother in the navy. We all have a ridiculous amount of guns at our bug out location but our bug out bags are probably the best guns you could ask for

Chris wrote:
September 17, 2012

Has anyone considered just the getting out of a populated area part? Look at the LA riots of 1992. People were shooting at each other, looting, committing hate crimes, and this was over a court case. LAPD was in full retreat by day 2, and the military wasn't able to get full control for another 3 or 4 days. When the military comes in to try and restore order, the people running around the streets with guns are going to be their first priority. And they are going to be taking away the AR's, the AK's the high cap guns everyone wants when they go out in a blaze of glory. My philosophy: get out early or hunker down. if you have the supplies to stay in one spot until the craziness dies down, do it, if not, get ut before the rest of joe public has time to clog the roads. I'll always have my Remington R1, but if I could barter it for a 10/22, a sturdy bolt gun in .308, or a 12ga, I would be better off.

one shot wrote:
August 06, 2012

10-22 volquartson barrel and trigger. Ghillie suit silencer.....take their weapon. If purely for subsistence then pack the gilie and add a ruger MKIII. you can take anything up to and including deer with a 22LR

gary wrote:
July 05, 2012

i have thought about this for years and the 1 gun i would bring is my browning 16 gauge it has been with my grandpa through his life time and it has been passed down to me and it will be with me through out my life no matter what!!!!!

Skivvy wrote:
May 21, 2012

Seroiusly, in the EOTW scenario you will still need to interact with other people the more self-sufficient you try to be the more these people will likely be strangers. That is you cant possibly have everything you need with you at all times. You will need to barter and trade eventually even if its just for ammo. If things are really bad there will be times when you might have to escape a threatening gang of hoodlums, rogue militia, horde of zombies, etc. with whatever you have in your pocket. Looking like a walking gun store with all fifteen of your firearms strapped across your back will make you a target for just about every opportunistic, desperate sniper bastard in the area. It will also slow you down the way bags of gold would. My kit will be one sidearm in 9mm small enough to conceal and one crappy rifle or shotgun. Anything more will most likely make you a target or set you up as a scary threatening individual or rival. In a lawless society, try not to own anything worth stealing. On the other hand for you gung-ho alpha dogs, without modern medicine to patch the holes, being a bandit/brave is likely to be a short violent life. My guess is that like back in the early days of the American west (and history in general) the Army will have their way with whatever they find and that picking your allegiances will largely determine your life expectancy.

Tony Baker wrote:
April 30, 2012

I keep firearms for practical purposes, self defense and hunting. My preferred weapon is the Bushmaster M4 carbine with telescoping butstock. I live in a rural area in Florida where we have hurricanes. I have lived through several severe ones and dozens of smaller ones. The M4 is lightwieght, small enough to handle easily, and with a 30 rd mag is more that adequate to disuade anyone who's intents are not in my best interest. It uses a very common caliber, and every member of my family is able to operate it accurately. If I could only have one gun, this would be the one.

Terry Chamberlin wrote:
April 26, 2012

I'm looking for 17 CAL. FOLDING SURVIVAL RIFLE. I will use it for fun shooting, hun ting and all around survival in my back pack. I've seen it on T V. A show called "STUDENT OF THE GUN" can you help me with this? Tthanks Terry

VIPBODYGUARD wrote:
February 23, 2012

As an M-60 Machine gunner in the Marines, I was trained with the M-14 Rifle and found it to more reliable than the M-16 so I own a S.A. M1A but for this type of survival action it is way too heavy, and for the price of one box of 20 rounds, I can buy a box of 550 rounds of .22 L.R. Springfield makes a small .22 survival Rifle that completely packs away into it's own stock called the AR-7. Years ago I drooped a white tail deer with one properly placed .22 hollow point. In 1991 an Armed robbery suspect shot me one tome at point blank through the liver with a Smith & Wesson .22 Escort. I lost 4" of my liver, Surgeons had to repair 17 holes through my intestines and the bullet was lodged in my spine for two years. Doctors stated that if he had shot me more than once, I would be pushing up daisies. The Police later informed me that he only had one round. I was the Law Enforcement Rep at B&B Gun Sales in North Hollywood, Ca., I also Taught Automatic Weapons and Tactical Repelling for Swat teams when I got out of the Marines. It's alright to get some ideas but don't take my word or anybody elses for the best weapon, Go out and use the ones you think about and carry what you think is BEST for you. Remember the weight factor and how much your going to able to transport if you walking. Good Luck and SEMPER FI.

MarkP wrote:
January 12, 2012

I have several ARs, but feel most confident with my Ar-10 carbine. Accurate, powerful, light, and reliable. I would rely on it to protect my family from anything or to hunt anything. But I also agree with the Ruger 10/22 as a complementary weapon. Think about it: which animals have the highest probability of survival throughout any disaster, natural or man-made? RODENTS! Bunnies and squirrels and rats. They are easy, quiet kills with an accurate. 22 rifle. But... if I have a shot at a deer from my bunker, I choose the AR-10.

SLICK78 wrote:
January 11, 2012

SAIGA 12 and a Henry AR-7 Can't beat a .22 that fits into its own stock! And its waterproof and therefore floats......

Gene wrote:
January 04, 2012

Although the idea of a perfect survival weapon is good for a conversation or argument, I would pick a weapon that was easy to acquire and had inexpensive ammunition. For that reason I would go with an SKS. They are reliable, cheap, and the ammunition is also cheap and easy to get.

The Mountaineer wrote:
December 19, 2011

Let's not forget the old favorite 7.62x39 for defense and larger game, I have two rifles chambered in 7.62 so that if I bug out with my family we can share ammo and rifle parts, additionally a 22 is a must as you are more likely to encounter small game while on the move and it has a lower sound signature if you have to be stealthy. As for sidearms, while 9mm and 40's are great ballistics, a sturdy revolver like a 357, that can also fire 38 is a strong choice. it's a reliable and under rated round and is pretty common in the conUS .

Michgncop324 wrote:
July 30, 2011

I'd have to agree with the article. .308 is the best all around bullet. Maybe the best post apocolypse rife would be the scar 17. It can fire fast, put an ACOG or one helluva pricey Elcan Spectre and you have some range too

Master2u wrote:
June 07, 2011

I would have to go with a Ruger 10/22. If you have to leave your home and don't have your car the only feasible way to carry enough ammunition is to go .22. It shoots flat out to 125 yards and with good shot placement can take out anything that breathes.

enawn00 wrote:
April 01, 2011

I have 9mm Glock. I sleep light. If 17 isn't enough, I go to a bigger club. I try to save bigger for last. The closer you get the harder it is going to get!

USMC00311 wrote:
February 28, 2011

I don't really think there is any one ideal "survival" weapon. I know that for myself, a shotgun would be an absolute necessity. The shotgun always has, and probably always will be, the most versatile and reliable weapon available. It does not require such rigid cleaning/maintenance considerations, ammo is ALWAYS easy to find (especially in the type of event discussed in the article, police cruisers, national guard vehicles, etc. everywhere). A sidearm is always a good idea although not necessary. 9mm or .40 ammo is easy to find no matter what country you are in, I would stay away from .45 because the US is just about the only country that reliably stocks it. If we were to be invaded I highly doubt enemy troops would be carrying .45 sidearms. As for a long range weapon, I would stick to something firing 5.56x45 or 7.62x39, as they are by any account the most commonly used ammo in the world. HOWEVER, at some point everyone if going to run out of ammo, and all you will have is a knife and various weapons of opportunity. Explosives are easy to make yourself if you can, and shogun shells can be made very easily out of anything. Forget about being able to hit a target more than 500 meters away. In a survival situation there is no way in heaven, hell, or anything in between that I will stay still long enough to shoot someone that far away. I will let them get closer so I don't have to hump as far to take what they have after I kill them, and when I do take that action it will be as quietly as possible, so as to not get the attention of others in the area. After all, let's face it folks, there are bound to be some really desperate people out there. Also learn how to make traps and snares and utilise them, instead of precious ammo. They work equally well on people and animals. Set and forget fishing is a good idea too. Basically just use your brain, because at some point it's the only weapon you will have left.

Joe wrote:
February 18, 2011

Thou shalt not kill. Listen to the good book and use 5.56 to eliminate the threat.

Russ AK wrote:
February 17, 2011

In My Kit is the AR-10 for long range shots,Ruger Redhawk 44. S&M M&P 45, and a SPAS 12 (colectors items till the zombis come) for CQ combat. My wifes kit is ruger 77/44, Rossi 38, Springfield 45GI, Mossburg Breacher, and Two alert Chiuauas. The main thing is where are you going to go and are you going to be prepared. I would defentaly avoid people, so I would have to head to the hills. Having some survival knowlage would aid you greatly in finding water. Use what happend in New Orlans as an example, "what would I do". Just remember about 100yrs ago flying was thought to be imposable, then space travle. "Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst"-Not sure who.

Dale wrote:
February 01, 2011

Always an interesting topic: A good 12ga is always popular, rifles are a more personal pick based on what you like & their main purpose (hunting and/or defense)and handguns are another personal item based on the personal preference of the carrier. It makes for interesting reading. Just for fun .22 rifle and/or pistol, 12ga shotgun, .357 magnum pistol, .44 magnum Ruger or 30-06 Remington semi-auto rifles or both depending on how much room is available if you have to travel. 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP, and .223, .308 will all be picked up off of the losers of cofrontations and added as needed. Praise the Lord and pass the Ammo.

SteveInSD wrote:
January 20, 2011

My best bet to stay alive is going to be whatever I happen to have at the time. That is likely to be my S&W 442, since it's almost always with me.

Rbrad1 wrote:
January 04, 2011

I really don't think there is any "right" answer to this question except..Whatever gun you could get your hands on or have already. Many of us have either a handgun, shotgun or rifle (bolt action, lever action or SA). If something like this did happen, I bet "you" could find many types of guns available. You would need to make sure you had enough ammo for any of them. My personal choice would be a AR chambered in 6.8 spc, my handgun (XDm .45) and plenty of ammo. The 6.8 spc, because it is the best of both the 5.56 and 7.62 combined into one weapon. And, if I could get one, a Rem 870 in 12ga.

Rev wrote:
January 03, 2011

Don't get me wrong, i liked the article and all but there was one thing you didn't touch on and that is the great zombie saying "always aim for the head" and after saying that let me say I'm not a huge supporter of big bullets are the best. lets face it I can take out any human with any readly available calliber if i shoot for the head. that out of the way I would like to say after reading this article I now know wat type of AR I want and the attachments for it, so thank you for that. Also if anybody has a smart comment about the guy that wants a 12 gauge shotgun with a scope and slugs to hunt with keep it to yourself cause my friend can get a headshot with a 12 gauge deer slug from 25 yrds consistantly with nuttin but the bead sight. Go 12 Gauges

c-rock wrote:
January 03, 2011

If there are zombies, you do not want to shoot often. They are attracted to gunfire. Per Walking Dead

Orion wrote:
December 29, 2010

12 gauge, Benelli SuperBlack Eagle with a pile of bird shot, buck shot and slugs, for procuring food--from birds, rabbits and deer--to defending one's camp from bandits.

Greg wrote:
December 27, 2010

I prefer a 20 gauge shotgun with 24 inch barrel, and an assortment of chokes, and an assortment of shot: #6,#4, 00buck, and slugs.

Richard wrote:
December 26, 2010

Even though a rifle would be great for range, if I had only one firearm to depend on it would be a short barrel 12ga. Shotgun, semi auto or pump with rifle sights and choke tubes including a tube for slugs. With that you could take about anything on the planet.

Ed wrote:
December 23, 2010

I actually like McElrath's logic. My all-purpose go-to carbine is a POF .308 with an Aimpoint 1x4. The original question, of course, is what ONE gun would you take with you. I think the landscape changes if you are allowed to choose two or more guns...at which point you can better tailor for specific purposes, and you'd also have to consider a carbine and handgun that both use the same ammo. Another factor is the probability of being able to scavenge spare parts for your firearm(s) when needed. From that standpoint, you'd want one of the most common platforms out there, meaning a standard Stoner 5.56 AR or a basic Kalashnikov. A fun topic, though, because it forces you to think of what's in your safe and the "lowest common denominator."

John wrote:
December 19, 2010

What Bill daid may or may not be true. In the event of a global or national mega-disaster, most police departments and militaries will fall into disarray. We saw this happen during Katrina wher ethe New Orleans PD cut and run after they disarmed some people. Regarding the weapon of choice; I have both an AR in 5.56 and a SOCOM in 7.62. The particular circumstances would dictate my choice.

BmW wrote:
December 18, 2010

My Marlin 1894 .44 Mag along with my Taurus Tracker 4" in .44 Mag is my bug-out package. Excellent, underrated (nowadays) defensive round with major! stopping power, and a great short/medium range hunting round out of a lever gun's barrel that can take out anything you're liable to face in North America. If I can only take one gun, then it's the Marlin.

JohnR wrote:
December 18, 2010

I will make my decision for a bug out weapon when the time comes. I own both an AR in 5.56 and a SOCOM in 7.62. I have a good chose of handguns too. I do not believer there is any pat answer.

Patrick wrote:
December 18, 2010

Of course there would be martial law Bill; however, don't expect goverment, both local and federal, to help you when someone comes after your provisions. Katrina's a good example as to why you should be armed.

Bill wrote:
December 16, 2010

What BS. Any major disaster would have martial law. Any armed civilians would be arrested or shot on site. Cash, drugs or donuts could be useful in evading police forces.

Anthony wrote:
December 16, 2010

This article can hardly be taken seriously when the author tries to perpetuate the myth that a 5.56 was designed to wound. There are many Bad guys taking a dirt nap because of the lowly 5.56. If someone were to shoot at you with a m16/ar15 I bet you would then say they were trying to kill you

Chuck wrote:
December 15, 2010

I have had this debate and the rifle I have for this purpose is the HK91 with both standard and collapsing stock. It has iron sites at 100, 200, 300, and 400 meters. I also have the scope mount and a 1-4x Millet tactical scope which aids in hunting abilities as well as mid range combat. While it is heavier than an AR, it's what I have and the stock is more compact. I would like to carry my HK USP45 for very close handgun defense also. I would think you can get two weapons like this versus just one.

Lynn wrote:
December 15, 2010

In a disaster such as is being described, how do you think the deer, elk etc sre going to fare? The surviving critters will be the under ground dwellers like rabbits and squirle and maybe fish. A small crossbow can take the all and the ammo is recyled. Real quiet, to. An AR type weapon with a scope and mounted and the previously zeroed metallic sights attached to a secondary rail is the best bet for defense. After all, if you need it fo defense. they already know where you are so the "boom" is of no consequence

pa-cman wrote:
December 15, 2010

one thing you are all forgetting is that there might not be any survivors at all. besides who would want to survive a nuclear holocaust or some kind of biological holocaust anyway.

Jason Jones wrote:
December 15, 2010

I find it hard to believe that a professional gun writer, in 2010, would be espousing the same old lies about the purpose and efficacy of the 5.56mm round. The 7.62mm may be better at ranges in excess of 500 meters but you really shouldnt be taking shots like that during the "zombie apocalypse" A target that far away is a target best avoided.

Frank Ackerman wrote:
December 15, 2010

I have to agree with most about the AR rifle platforms. A very reliable rifle if kept lubricated. The .223 ammo is readily available. As for the side arm, I would go with the Springfield XDM 40. S&W 40 ammo is a good in-between round to the 9mm and .45 calibre. It has more stopping power than the 9mm and is a faster round than the .45. The 16 round magazines will keep you going between re-lodes. This pistol also has the option of swapping the barrel for a 9mm barrel if the need arises, so you really have two guns for the price of one. The pistol is very customizable with it's interchangeable grips and a mini-rail.

John E. Kelly wrote:
December 14, 2010

What is the model number on the rifel being previewed Where do I purchase it and what price range is it in.

vishnu wrote:
December 14, 2010

Except for the desire to honor Chuck, you didn't need to reference an OLD movie. In "I am Legend" - same story as "The Omega Man" - Will Smith uses an AR-platform gun. I haven't watched closely enough to dtermine the caliber.

Olie wrote:
December 14, 2010

I have to agree that the .308 is a little on the heavy side. I would prefer .223, and if need be, maybe a 7.62x39 upper for the AR to get that .30 cal punch. Two pins, and you have .30-.30 Win stopping power at an affordable price.

John R. Harbison wrote:
December 14, 2010

I will carry my Kel-Tec .22 mag. pmr-30 with a few 30 round mags and a good .22 mag. rifle that i am looking into along with other gear.

john2a wrote:
December 14, 2010

My bug-out Zombie Apocalypse bag contains a Beretta 9mm Storm Carbine and a Beretta 92 9mm. Both use the same magazines, which I have 20 - 15 round mags (300 rds.). I also have the extra reloading equipment to produce another 1000 rds. as needed. May not be the answer at long range, but my strategy would be to hunker down and not look for trouble. Also, I would at first chance pick up an AR-10 with long range capability after things settled down.

Rob wrote:
December 14, 2010

You've got to stick to standards so I'd go with a non-piston AR15 or more likely a Ruger 10/22 with a silencer and lots of .22 ammo. A .22 pistol, Glock 9mm or 1911 would be good pistol choices. Consider repair/parts replacement in mind.

Ted wrote:
December 14, 2010

Well thought! The critical issue in my mind has always been the ammunition availability long term. You might have considered a 7.62 x 39 since long term and catastophic may have non-US personnel involved and the Kalashnikov is the most available rifle in the world!

Zermoid wrote:
December 14, 2010

I would make the argument that a 22LR rifle would make a better survival gun. If you are looking at hiding in the hills you really don't want the attention that a big booming rifle will draw from miles away, the pop of a 22 fades out much quicker and thus is more useful for gathering food to survive on. A 22 is capable of taking down deer sized game, just aim for the brain pan. Admittedly it isn't the best defensive round but you can carry ALOT of 22 ammo on your person, and a 10/22 or similar rifle with 30rd mags is something I would not want to face down the barrel of. How about you?

Dale wrote:
December 14, 2010

Sounds like a well thought out pick. I would also include a handgun, that opens up another can of worms. Every body has a favorite. .308 good caliber to go with.

Steve wrote:
December 13, 2010

I think you should check your facts before writing articles..... "Also, there is nothing wrong with the Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM II with Extended Top Rail or the DS Arms SA58 Para Tactical Carbine with the optional Short Gas System Rail Interface Handguard. Both would serve as well as the AR and, since both use M14-type magazines" These two rifles do not share the same magazine, you're doing your readers a disservice by writing this type of information, especially when advising about survival guns.

chilli palmer wrote:
December 13, 2010

Well thought out plan 1 gun has always been a thought prevoker. I might have to go w/ a Remington 870 - Ammo 00,Slug,7 1/2. about as versatle as you can get.

Craig wrote:
December 13, 2010

I'd pick just about any combination of long arm and handgun with interchangeable ammunition. Better yet is interchangeable magazines. I like 9mm, .45 ACP and .45 Colt but others are suitable too.

Eric from NY wrote:
December 13, 2010

I have to agree with Alan, the one firearm I would grab is my 22 Henry. I can protect myself, feed myself and caryy thousands of rounds. Sure i would like to have my Ruger mini ranch 5.56/223 and my S&W 686+P 357 mag, or even my S&W M&P 40sw, but carrying enough ammo for any of these becomes a serious problem. Same with my Savage 308 or even my Mossberg 12 gauge. I wish I could have them all, but if only one, I will take the 22 any time.

jimonthebeach wrote:
December 13, 2010

My choices are an AR in 6.8mm SPC and a Colt Commander .45ACP. The 6.8 provides greater range and knock down power and it's strong enough to take deer or elk, unlike a .223 or 5.56. It should work just fine for zombies as well.

Ed wrote:
December 13, 2010

Folks...love the one you're with (in other words know how to use what you have), iron sights are an absolute, water is an absolute, optics will certainly fail mean time between failure is about 12 months. I have a bug out bag for everyone in my family, both immediate and extended, what is the same in each one, an axe or hatchet and water containers metal and flexible and water purification systems...oh yeah, a clear mind and a plan is ESSENTIAL, don't leave home without it! I have a DSA Short stroke Gas railed 16 inch FAL with a throw away TruGlo red dot, I also carry a 26inch Remingtom with a 8.5-25X50 Mark 4 Leupold back pack style, I like having options, wife carries an Arsenal AK47 and her own ammo, all the kids carry AR15's that I built them, my granddaughter carries a 10/22 with a minature TruGlo red dot, all side arms are Glock 17 with my wife having the exception a 19, she only has one 15 round #19 magazine all the rest are 17's. Everyone can make fire alone, everyone knows all hand signals, everyone knows each seasons/regions way of finding water...alone. Everyone knows how to make basic snares for all sizes of game. There's so much more than selecting the MAGIC rifle. My 2 cents

vafish wrote:
December 13, 2010

I'd take a 5.56x45 M4 style carbine with Atchison type .22LR conversion kit.

vafish wrote:
December 13, 2010

One big down side to the 7.62x51 and one of the main reasons the Army decided to go with the 5.56x45. Weight! You can carry a lot more 5.56 then you can 7.62, and in the end of the world you are going to be spending a lot of time walking.

Rob wrote:
December 13, 2010

I couldn't decide either between the 5.56 or 7.62 either.... So I got both... A DPMS 7.62 with iron sights.. 16" barrel..No scope.. yet and a bunch of the great new Magpul .308 mags And a Sabre Defense 5.56 AR15 with a 16" barrel... EOTech sight... and BUIS

Andy Sommer wrote:
December 13, 2010

Consider the same thing in a Piston Driven rifle like a Pof that way you won't be cleaning it all the time, and get some fold down iron sights like Troy to compliment the optic.

Paul wrote:
December 13, 2010

I agree with Ron, that the Ruger 10-22 is a better selection. I challenge the writer of the article to try to make a meal out of a rabbit, squirrel, or bird after getting hit with with a bullet from an AR10.

Chuck in AZ wrote:
December 13, 2010

I thinked and thinkted alot. Ruger Mini 30 is goto weapon. Barrel shortened to 14.5 w/pinned long flash hider. Garand/M14 reliable-lightwieght-cheap,plentiful ammo. Can take a rabbit at 50yds. Just have to find the stew parts!

dtk1952 wrote:
December 13, 2010

The Savage 24 22 Mag over 20 ga magnum. Too bad it's not made any more.

Tony in WA wrote:
December 13, 2010

I went with the Saiga 308/7.62x51 Carbine. It give me the best round with a platform that will take a lot of abuse.I have the built in iron sights and the clamp on 6x40 scope.

BulletMagnetEd wrote:
December 13, 2010

Nice article, but your choices are about $4000, if you can even get that rifle in your state.

rob from Ohio wrote:
December 13, 2010

A lot of good ideas. You need the weapon for food and protection. You will become a forager. A shot fired may bring a lot of danger your way when people are starving. A .22rf, or a .17 rf might be the best choice. consider a silencer...too. far end of scale? ar-10 & .22rf pistol. forget the scope for extra ammo.

TG Naper wrote:
December 13, 2010

Who says you need a rifle, especially a relatively heavy weapon, like 7.62. If the Apocalypse arrives, I will grab a Glock 17 with a 26 as backup. I can load up on way more 9mm than full power rile ammo. I would be covered for close range encounters and I would avoid anything long range. Why get noticed if you don't have to. Avoid - Evade - Defend. Words to live by.

Jeff wrote:
December 13, 2010

M1A/M14. 7.62, very durable, the best iron sights of any weapon, and very accurate beyond 600 yards. Oh and did I mention easy to maintain.

tarheely wrote:
December 13, 2010

The Armalite AR-10 super sass in 7.62x51 nato is my choice,you can reach out and touch someone or some thing at 1000 yards with either iron sights or a good scope,I prefer a scope. For home defense the best gun to own is a remington 870 pump shotgun,racking the slide is a universal language,the whole world knows that sound and knows what it means loaded or not chances are a would be robber will turn tail and run. Oh and to those of you that are unaware the 223 cartridge was designed to would,as was military ball ammo.

Tim wrote:
December 13, 2010

DR doesn't stand for Dual Role,, it stands for Big Money.

Hardcore Scout wrote:
December 13, 2010

The day will be won by a country boy with a .22 rifle. Young and mobile, knows his country, east less, 3 rounds weigh as much as one of yours and he has thousands and thousands and thousands because they're cheap.

Dewey Du Bose wrote:
December 13, 2010

What would be wrong with using a .410 pump for ALL AROUND protection and for hunting. Slugs, 3 Oughs, buckshot . small enough to pack around all day, ammo you can pack in you front pockets. Open sights or scope can be mounted. small enought that kids and females are not afraid to shoot it the first time out.

AA-BOB wrote:
December 13, 2010

Interesting evaluation. My Bug-out is a Savage Model 24 .22lr over 20 with see through rings and 4 x scope. Survival/subsistence being more of a concern than combat w/bad guys. Avoidance being first solution, however push to shove at close range the 20 with buck-shot or slug will well acquit itself.

Mark wrote:
December 13, 2010

I don't necessarily see a survival situation as tantamount to a military excursion. How long could you live under these circumstances? In Mad Max, Mel Gibson had a director that said "cut." I see the possible scenario as more like what Bear Grylls portrays on his TV show about extreme survival. I would do fine with a BLR in .300mag., and a 44 mag. by Colt, Ruger or S&W. I normally hunt with a rifle and a pistol with lots of ammo, just in case...

rick wrote:
December 13, 2010

no oddball ammo for me.i have a ruger challenger 10-22 w/ red dot with which i am deadly(10 inch barrel).i know it won't cover all the bases,but it and 10,50 rnd banana's are barely a burden to have in the back.a pistol and a carbine w/interchangeable mags is the mainstay for zombies...

Paluxey Pete wrote:
December 13, 2010

My old 22mag/20g over and under will protect the homestead.

Dean wrote:
December 13, 2010

Well thought-out! I liked using The Omega Man solutions in my what-if scenarios...minus the huuuuge, red-colored, faux-IR bulb =)

mike from Ga. wrote:
December 12, 2010

ARs are hard to beat-if your'e a Vet. I think about David attempting to fight with Sauls gear.I say use what You are intimate with.Many men and game animals have fallen to a well placed .22.Know Your weapon of choice and be very confident in ones self and eguipment. Also remember that there will not be any gunsmiths available especially in the gunfight.Everything starts with a plan.

Ross wrote:
December 10, 2010

The 5.56 was designed to wound, not kill? Are you really serious about that? Was the 22 designed to wound and not kill too? Your statement is moronic!

john frenchie wrote:
December 10, 2010

FAMAS and a compact shotgun ;)

Nick wrote:
December 09, 2010

I would say the AK-47 would provide more power. The AR platforms for accuracy. The 1911 and .35 magnum for handguns. All 12GA loads. And a .30-06 for distance. Your gonna want stainless steel for durability. Oh one more piece, a AA-12 like in the Expendables with as much of the Frag-12 ammo as possible.

T.J. wrote:
December 09, 2010

I went with the Hi-Point 9mm carbine with a red-dot sight.

Mike wrote:
December 09, 2010

So we just completely leave iron sights off the gun because our eyes might go bad some day? How about your Elcan going bad...in the middle of a fight? You need co-witnessing iron sights on any serious rifle. And a quick detach mount on any optic...as those who don't have never tried to use there cool sight when the glass is frosted over from temprature chages. I also hope none of you expect your wife or kids to lug this "perfect" gun around.

Alan wrote:
December 09, 2010

You know you guys kill me! The perfect gun for survival would be very simple, light weight and ez to maintain. Best choice, Ruger 10-22.. lots of ammo around, can carry lots of ammo, hell one could put 500 rounds in their pocket. You can protect yourself, you could feed yourself, ez to take care of. Sure you might have to pop a few extra shots down range, but what hey...

Socko wrote:
December 09, 2010

Im going with a LWRC M6 A2 with a 4 times magnified acog. Id prefer a larger caliber with more stopping power but 5.56 has its benifits, more popular round and I can carry alot more of them than a larger round. The LWRC M6 A2 is gas piston so this should reduce the need for cleaning. Far as optics, Ive choosen the Acog because it requires no batteries and is self illuminating. It has also been proven effective at longer range and close range, however Id also be carring a secondary, either a pistol or possibily a shotgun. My only problem is that Im going to be weighed down like a tank lol.

Roy Shawn Alsup wrote:
December 09, 2010

It sounds like a well thought out plan, and I like the choice of the AR-10, being aware of Eugene Stoners work. The cartridge choice is right(ever shoot a deer with a 5.56?) and although I'm not familiar with this sighting system, I assume you did your homework here. Sounds like a great "bug-out" weapon.

JOHN CAERGNATO wrote:
December 09, 2010

ar15 and a shot gun

Declan Cahill wrote:
December 09, 2010

The new Les Baer Custom.264 LBC-AR™ Rifle seems perfect. The .264 cartridge is equal to the 6.5mm calibres so popular in Europe. The perfect balance between 5.56 & 7.62. The only thing to watch out for is having sufficient ammo to meet your needs, you wont be able to pic it up everywhere. Reliability and accuracy will be perfect, period.