There is nothing wrong with preparing for the worst situation that may occur, as long as you don’t let it rule your life. Being prepared for any bad situation that may cross your path is highly advisable. That starts with regular things like knowing how to change a flat tire, having a first aid kit and knowing basic first aid, and having a bottle of water in your car. How to prepare for complete societal collapse has been a heavily theorized subject in recent years. I say theorized because no one really knows the best things to stockpile or the right things to do because no one really experienced it. Survival often means offense and defense which demand the appropriate tools.

My theories are based on my knowledge and experience in subjects that would likely be useful in a SHTF scenario. Movies and amateur peppers often glorify a SHTF scenario, but if it ever happens, it would be the worst catastrophe that human beings ever face. With that in mind, being prepared for a societal collapse isn’t a terrible idea, since most of the preps also double as vital things to have around in any disaster situation. Shelter, basic medical supplies, water food, and self defense capabilities are all things people only think to have after they already needed it. Today we are going to look at how firearms can be best utilized in potential survival situations.

Best Guns to Own

Generally speaking, the best gun to own is the weapon you’re most familiar with and most comfortable with. Buying a $10,000 custom AR makes no sense if you’re most comfortable firing a revolver. Training and familiarity are much more important than the specific firearm, caliber, and accessories. With that said, my recommendations will try to encompass as many individuals as possible but it’s at best suggestions. Things to consider when picking a gun to familiarize yourself with for the purpose of prepping are reliability, accuracy, accessibility of ammunition & parts, and what purpose it will serve in a survival situation. You can’t have all of these features in one firearm.

Doomsday preppers
Never too young to prep

The best home defense rifle won’t be great for hunting birds. Knowing what function you want a weapon to serve and being realistic with yourself about your own abilities is vital. If you take one thing from this article, take my emphasis on training and sign yourself up for a course that is held by professionals that will help prepare you more than any stockpile will. While no firearm can handle all situations, there are some which are more versatile than others. These firearms are likely to be the best options for a survival weapon.

Best Survival Rifle

The AK-47 is hands down the best rifle for a survival situation available today. The reliability and ease of maintenance makes it the ideal SHTF gun. There is a large supply of ammunition and parts for AKs even in the states. Russian-made ammunition packaged in tins makes it one of the best prepper guns on the market. Russian ammo tins are sealed ammunition tins that were almost designed with preppers in mind. The only issue with this ammo is that it is corrosive, so cleaning your weapon after firing it is essential. People always rag on the AK for its poor accuracy, but they never ask the question, what’s more accurate: an AK that fires or a dirty AR that doesn’t? And I don’t think survival scenarios are going to be all that clean. In any survival situation reliability reigns supreme. There is a reason the AK has gone virtually unchanged since its inception, that’s because it works. If it was designed to survive Siberia, I think it can handle the apocalypse. 

Best Survival Gun Long Term

The best long term survival gun has to go to a muzzleloading flintlock rifle. This won’t help you with an initial societal collapse, but put this situation in your head: Several years after SHTF, all mass production has ceased. There is no more production of ammunition, parts, and there are no stores to purchase new material. You will be stuck with what you can scavenge. Lead has a very low melting point, making your own projectiles for a flintlock rifle can be done over a campfire. There will be no need to try and get caps to fire your rifle because it uses flint. Any ammunition you find, regardless of its caliber can be melted down for a new projectile and the powder can be repurposed. Repairs will be much easier for an individual who isn’t a gunsmith who has minimal metalworking experience.  For long term survival and self reliance, a quality flintlock rifle is your best pepper gun. 

Flintlock Rifle and Pistol
Flintlock Firearms

Best Handgun for Self Defense

There are countless factors which make a handgun ideal for home or self defense but it always comes down to familiarity and reliability. A scrawny person probably isn’t better off with a .45 1911 while that may be perfect in different hands. When looking for a defensive weapon, it’s important to consider the presence of an external safety. Many shooters know that a lack of an external safety is safer when it comes to a survival weapon or regular carry gun. Similarly, versatile sights that offer good daytime and nighttime visibility is a must. For that reason, many people actually prefer revolvers for survival weapons because they are mighty durable and reliable though skeptics will say that 5 or 6 rounds is not enough to qualify for a survival firearm.

For these reasons, I’m inclined to say the Sig Sauer P320 might be one of the best survival handguns on the market. It was good enough for the Army to become the new issue sidearm in a groundbreaking international competition. This gun did have a few problems initially, but it has remarkable reliability and durability plus the high mag capacity and 9mm chambering make this a great choice. Additionally, it can handle a variety of defensive accessories like lights and lasers while still maintaining a full-size frame that feels compact.

Best Home Defense Rifle

The AR-15/Modern Sporting Rifle is arguably best home defense rifle. When it comes to home defense rifles, reliability is less of an issue because it won’t be exposed to the elements. It will be well oiled and clean when you’ll need it. When considering home defense, you have to consider the penetrating power of the round you’re using. The 5.56/.223 rounds are high velocity small projectiles that tend to break apart after coming into contact with something. The likelihood of it going through a wall or a bad guy and hitting an innocent person behind them is less likely. You’ll also likely have more ammo than the bad guy you’ll be engaging with, since the majority of home invasions will be done with a concealable weapon that doesn’t have a high capacity. The ability to add a red dot to an AR is also a huge advantage. The vast majority of home defense situations will be in low light or no light, having a red dot is a substantial advantage. So is having a flashlight on the front of your weapon. One that is bright enough to blind an intruder, is ideal. However, I’m also a big fan of bullpup rifles since they’re designed for close quarters combat and are built to be tactical.

Why Own a 22 Survival Rifle

While many people don’t think of .22LR as a doomsday caliber, the truth is that a .22 survival rifle can be an essential tool for when SHTF. These nifty little rifles are designed to be compact and even folded into a small backpack in many cases. Some preppers lover .22 because it’s cheap, easy to store large quantities, and surprisingly versatile. While it doesn’t have much stopping power, a .22 survival rifle can be used to hunt small game and fowl, practice shooting, and is sufficient for medium-distance home defense. While they may not be the go-to firearm for survival, they are definitely useful and function as a solid backup gun. Plus, there are several great affordable options out there to pick from.

Henry survival rifle
HRA Survival Rifle Mags & Ammo

Survival Shotgun Breakdown

If you’re inexperienced with firearms, have no training, minimal knowledge on upkeep, and need a weapon that will serve a variety of uses without breaking the bank, go with a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun. It’s the most versatile weapon you can get, you’ll be able to hunt with it, protect yourself with it, and most importantly maintain it. You won’t need to learn how to disassemble and clean the weapon like most firearms. There is no real training required in clearing a jam or reloading. There are so many different rounds on the market for 12 gauge shotguns today that you’ll be able to fit all necessary needs. There are dragon’s breath, slugs, buck shot, bird shot, rock salt, and a wide variety of obscure specialty rounds that are widely available. There is no need for a lot of range time when it comes to a double barrel 12 gauge, point and shoot the spread will get whatever is in front of you. Also getting familiar with your weapon doesn’t take much time because they are so simple. The price of a simple 12 gauge won’t break the bank either. The availability of 12 gauge rounds also makes it one of the best prepper guns. Even for an experienced prepper with ample firearms experience you’ll likely have someone in your company with little to no firearms experience, it’s an ideal weapon to invest in for others to use on your team.

Let us know your picks in the comments section!

Adam V

Combat military veteran with a Masters degree in security and diplomacy, Adam V is a jack of all trades for Gunivore. He is also a martial arts, survival, and firearms enthusiast who enjoys sharing his opinions on tough topics.

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