Best Survival Guns for Vacations

Best Survival Guns for Vacations
A compact, extended range long gun is the best choice for survival guns on vacation.
The best survival guns for vacations
A compact, extended range long gun is the best choice for survival guns on vacation.

For the past 32 years as a cop, I have never traveled on vacation without an off-duty gun.  Whether driving or flying to my destination, I always had an off-duty gun with me. In years past, that gun was usually something small and concealable—a Smith and Wesson .38, a Colt Mustang Pocketlite in .380, or a Mini-Glock. About three years ago, in addition to carrying the small gun, I began packing a full-size duty pistol on driving vacations. If I had to fly, I packed just the full-size gun.

I have watched our beloved nation decay at an alarming rate. Recently in Miami, a naked man attacked another man and gnawed off part of his face. Officers shot him. I have reconsidered whether I have enough firepower with me to protect my family and fight my way through throngs of angry, desperate citizens bent on harming me and mine.

I came to three decisions involving vacation travel for my family and myself:

1.  I won’t fly anywhere unless it is absolutely necessary for a variety of reasons. While you can check firearms into the baggage compartment, you are limited as to the amount of ammunition you can transport.

2.  Taking a long gun on vacation is now required.

3.   Additional survival gear is essential. That means food and water, flashlights, first aid kit, and a heavy fixed-blade knife or prying tool.
My long gun choices for vacation are different than daily travel guns. Even as a cop, I don’t wish to call a lot of attention to the fact that I may be heavily armed, alarming citizens and having the local authorities called on me. This means instead of taking along a full-size rifle, I need a compact firearm that can be carried in a small, discreet case or in a suitcase, yet be effective from 100-200 yards or more.

Emergency Survival Kit Backpack
An emergency survival kit, like this one, is just as important as a survival gun.

Emergency food and water supplies are also taken along. The very best travel supply is the Food Insurance Essentials kit. Priced at $199.95, this rugged backpack contains three meals per day for two weeks for one person. The pack includes a stove, matches, fuel, water bottle and water filtration kit. The food is very high quality, and Food Insurance has many long-range food plans available for home preparation.

While there are many viable choices for a compact extended range gun, I have selected a few examples that meet the requirements of compactness, reliability, effectiveness and reasonable cost. They are, in no particular order:

1.  The FN-P90S.  This short PDW is shorter than a collapsed M4 carbine due to its bullpup design.  Totally ambidextrous and with a 50-round capacity of 5.7×28 ammo, it is a nearly ideal vacation gun, and can be wielded from inside a vehicle and still deal with threats out to 200 yards. Retail is around $1,600.

2. Auto-Ordnance .30 caliber M-1A1 Paratrooper Carbine. This great firearm and its full stocked sibling are too often viewed as nostalgia pieces rather than effective combat weapons. The “wire” stock folds easily out of the way, yet still allows the carbine to fire when folded.  The low recoil generated by the intermediate power .30 carbine round allows comfortable firing with the stock extended, which is not always the case for folding stock firearms. Our soldiers fought with M1 and M1A1 carbines as primary weapons across Europe and the Pacific theatres in WWII, and again in the Korean War and into Vietnam, with the M2 full auto-version being added to the mix.  American law enforcement fielded surplus M1s in years past. The M1A1 can be fired from inside a vehicle with the stock folded, and is effective to 200 yards or better. They are available for around $900.

3. Century Arms International UC-9-A. It is a 16-inch barreled semi-automatic version of the famed UZI submachine gun built from UZI and U.S. manufactured parts. Capable of handling 9mm ball or hollow-point ammo, the UC-9 is as compact as the M1A1 carbine, and comes with four steel 30-round magazines. With the stock extended, hits at 100 yards or greater are easy and recoil is non-existent. Best of all, the UC-9 is reliable and is available for around $837.00

Any of these weapons can be transported in luggage or cases that don’t scream “gun,” and will not draw undue attention when being taken from your vehicle to a hotel room or vice versa. They are military grade and designed for combat use, as opposed to guns that are tricked up to mimic combat weapons.

Just remember to know and follow all gun laws within the jurisdiction you are traveling in (which may mean there are some places in the U.S. that you may want to give up visiting if you are concerned about your safety), and that your traveling companions know how to operate the travel weapon of choice in case you are disabled or otherwise occupied.


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  1. I suppose it matters what sort of survival we are talking about here. The meltdown of society and all hades breaks loose, or just happen to break down in the middle of no where and you need to protect yourself from harm and maybe shoot some vittles. I think my Tactical Mini-14 .223 would do well in the first scenario with 30 round mags, short and lightweight; if we are just talking something for semi close range and small animal hunting, a pump .410 with short barrel and pistol grip is quite handy. You can get slugs, #4buck, #000 buck and shoot 3″ or 2 1/2″ shells and a variety of shot as well. I also have a pistol grip Saiga .410 with a 15 round magazine. Would do pretty well for crowd control within 100 feet with the #4 buck (9 pellets .24″), like spraying the crowd with a slightly larger .22 bullet. With a 15 round mag., that’s 135 bullets in 10 seconds or less. Usually when I head off into the wilderness, I tend to bring my pistol grip pump 20 gauge w/3″ shells of #2 buck 18 pellets .27″. I also have some decent slugs for the 20 gauge .8oz or 350grain. Any of the mentioned guns could be used from within the confines of the average vehicle. The most expensive of this bunch was $789 Mini-14 and the cheapest Mossberg Combo (2 barrels & Chokes) Pump 20 gauge was $288 plus $40 for the Hogue pistol grip. The Saiga .410 came in around $500 plus the pistol grip ATI conversion and 2-15 round mags for another $150. It’s a lot of fun, easy to handle and still a formidable weapon with the right loads.

    • Sounds like a good setup. I haven’t gotten to the Ruger Mini-14 yet (but will in my upcoming book) but I agree it is a fantastic rifle for multiple purposes. At my former LE agency, when we first began to issue rifles to our deputies (supervisors got then first) it was the stainless steel Mini that was selected. Those guns ran and ran with little or no attention to maintenance. The only reason we went to the M16 as the primary patrol rifle for all deputies was because we got them free from the DoD Law Enforcement assistance program. Otherwise, we would have stuck with the mini. Shotguns are excellent for close range defense in civil disorder situations (they weren’t called riot guns for nothing)and the Saiga’s help eliminate the two weakness of the shotgun, low magazine capacity and slow rate of reloading. Plus the AK47 design is bombproof, and some of the early gliches with these weapons have been ironed out.

      Mossberg shotguns are simply outstanding, and the 20 gauge is an excellent and more controllable choice than the standard 12 gauge. Thanks for the comments and your insight.


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