What You Need To Know About The Survival Gun

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Survival Gun Shotgun

Survival gun is a vague term no matter how you cut it. We help you hash it out with guidelines for each style of gun and looks at some of the top makes and models.

Survival Gun Quick Nav:

Is there really such a thing as a survival gun? Certainly, there have been attempts at creating one tailored to the purpose—the AR-7 for instance. Handy as the rifle potentially was for U.S. Air Force bomber crews who had to ditch on some godforsaken plot of tundra, it wouldn’t do many modern suburbanites a lick of good. Unless they happened to tote one along on a backwoods excursion.

Truthfully, a survival gun lies in the eye of the beholder. To a farmer, it’s possibly a bolt-action or semi-automatic that, when not keeping predators off his stock, harvests an emergency whitetail for the table. While an urban dweller, who still has access to stores but not the full force of the rule of law, would do well to have a reliable sidearm to ensure safe passage from point A to B. And that suburbanite, depending on how close to he or she resides to the fringes of the metro area, it's likely they would benefit from a combination of both. There are a host of variables from type of disaster to skill level and shelter availability among other things that can and will dictate what survival gun or guns are required.

In short, survival guns are situational. What makes a solid candidate to fill the role is not. To that end, we’ve gathered some of Gun Digest’s best content on survival guns and firearms that would fill one or more roles in making it through a disaster. The first section focuses on the fundamental concepts of what you should look for in a survival gun, regardless if it’s a rifle, handgun or shotgun. The subsequent sections then home in on particular types of guns, what separates the wheat from the chaff in each category and, occasionally, a “Best Of” list of standout makes and models.

This primer should set you on the way to getting a grasp of survival guns. But don’t rest on your laurels—your circumstances will likely always fluctuate. In turn, so will your firearms needs.

Survival Gun Fundamentals

The Five Principles of Survival Guns and Weapons

Before you even consider a particular style, make and model, you need to know what makes a solid survival gun. Follow these five principles and you'll find a firearm you can bet your life on. As a bonus, there also are some guidelines on edged weapons. Read More

Survival: 4 Types Of Shelter-in-Place Guns

If you can’t go mobile, you need to consider what will protect your hearth and home. Suffice to say, it’s more than your concealed carry pistol in many circumstances. Read More

Best Starter Kit for Concealed Carry:

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Survival Gun: Shotguns

Practical Guide To The Tactical Shotgun

While that 24-inch barreled fowling-piece might not prove the ideal survival gun, neither might the pimped out bird’s head smoothbore. This sober guide gives you the skinny in what to look for in the ideal tactical shotgun. Read More

Top Four Remington 870 Tactical Shotgun Options

The Remington 870 is among the most popular guns of all time. Here are four tactical options that come out on top for home defense and potentially survival. Read More

Does This Mossberg 590 Tactical Shotgun Blow The Rest Away?

When it comes to Mossberg shotguns, the 500 is king of the hill. But for tactical application and as a survival gun, its cousin—the 590—might have a decided edge.Read More

Mossberg 500 vs. Remington 870

The kings of pump-action shotguns, the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 are always safe bets. But does one have an edge on the other? Read More

Survival Gun: Rifle

Why An AR-15 For Home Defense Is The Best Choice

Controversial—at least to the modern media—there’s a good reason why the infamous AR-15 is a logical home defense and survival gun. Hint, you’re likely to become proficient with it way before any handgun. Read More

Tips For Getting The Best AR-15 For Your Buck

New to the AR-15 or just need a refresher on what to look for when buying? Master gunsmith Patrick Sweeney lays out the exact points you need to consider to avoid lemons.Read More

8 Budget AR-15 Options: More Bang For The Buck

American’s love the AR-15. Accurate, effective and fast—why not? Here are some solid entry-level options perfect to learn the platform or to use as an all-purpose home-defense/survival gun. Read More

10 Affordable 9mm Carbine Options

Feeding your long gun from the same trough you feed your pistol worked from the pioneers, why not you? Check out these affordable 9mm carbines that make perfect companions to your carry pistol. Read More

5 Best Scout Rifles To Seriously Consider For Survival

A jack-of-all-trades, the scout rifle is considered by many the perfect survival gun. There is a load of quality off-the-shelf options of Col. Jeff Cooper’s brainchild to arm you up. Read More

Survival Guns: Handguns

3 Simple Rules For Choosing A Defensive Handgun And Ammo

The sheer volume of handguns available today can leave your head spinning. Though, you can narrow down your search if you simplify the criteria. Read More

Don’t Discount The Concealed Carry Revolver

Think the revolver as a defensive weapon is dead? Think again. There are plenty of reasons to trust your life to the good-old wheelgun. Read More

11 Top Picks For Concealed Carry Handguns

An everyday carry handgun is your first-line survival gun. Here are a load of them certain to protect your six no matter the situation. Read More

7 Standout Concealed Carry Revolvers For Personal Defense

Dependable as the day is long, revolvers are rock-solid self-defense options. We gathered up seven perfect for everyday carry. Read More

Recommended Nightstand Guns – Pistols

Full-sized pistols are top choices not only for home protection, but also as survival guns. While this article is written with an eye to the former, each is more than capable of handling the latter. Read More

Recommended Nightstand Guns – Revolvers

Same as above, except looking at large-frame revolver. Read More

10 Top .45 Pistol Options For Any Budget

Still among the most trusted self-defense calibers, the .45 ACP offers unparalleled CQC performance. No matter your budget, there’s one out there for you. Read More

Best .22 Pistol Options Available Today

Sure enough, it’s not a man-stopper in a traditional sense. Nevertheless, out of the right handgun the .22 LR is a do-all tool. Read More

Survival Guns: Others

8 Favorite Truck Gun Options For Protection On The Go

Much like a survival gun, a truck gun is in the eye of the beholder. But this selection of pistols, rifles and shotguns more than fit the bill for most. Read More

7 Salty Takedown Rifles For Any Survival Situation

Tailor-made to keep a long gun at hand at all times, takedown rifles are backwoods and survival situation staples. We found seven rugged options. Read More

Handgun Hunting: 10 Best Hunting Revolver Options

Definitely not considered a traditional survival gun, hunting revolvers can fill the role—if you can handle these hand cannons. Read More


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