“Survival Arms”- My Thoughts On What’s Worked For Me

25 Dec, 2014


Pictured are two combo guns. On the left is a Remington Spartan model IZH 94, 12Ga over .308Win. On the right is a Savage model 24 .223Rem over a 20Ga.

What does the term “Survival Arms” mean to you? At it’s core, it’s what ever you have on you when you become engulfed in a do or die survival situation, right? Whether it’s a knife, or some type of device that propels an object through the air at high speed, it has just become a “survival” tool. We all know there is a lot of crap info on the internet, right? Fortunately, there are some excellent sites for “Survival Arms”, skills, and recommended gear. One that I know of, where the administrator puts out a lot of good info that he tests regularly is my friend and fellow Survivalist, Bergmann at ALASKA Escape and Evasion Survival. He tests what he writes about on practically a weekly basis, and you’d be wise to heed his guidance (especially if you’re gonna do the cold weather thing), so check it out if you get the chance. In the below post are listed some recommendations that I have used over the years (everything I recommend, is gear that I have used, not just a cut and paste generic recommendation from the web), and they cover a wide spectrum of “survival” scenarios you might be involved in.


Some of my recommendations, started as ideas (as a young teenager) from the book “Survival Guns” by Mel Tappan. As you can see by the pic, I’ve had the one on the left for a while (read that as FOREVER), and the one on the right is what’s in print now. It’s a good book to own for reference (some info is dated, but still applicable), and is available from Paladin Press here. There are a number of other good books out there, by some excellent writers, but this was my first book on the subject, and was written by a Survivalist, for Survivalists.


Savage Model 24 .223Rem/20Ga. Pictured with it is a Fourtenner 20 gauge .410 shotgun adapter.


Remington Spartan IZH94 12Ga/.308Win. Pictured with it is a .32ACP adapter for the .308Win barrel, turning it into a great small game barrel. The 12 gauge barrel has three interchangeable chokes.

This post is about “Survival Arms”, so let’s get too it. Above is pictured two popular combo guns, (A Remington Spartan IZH94, and a Savage 24V) this gun type, is usually what comes to mind when people think “Survival” gun. Both rifles are great as multi-purpose firearm go, the only downside (if it’s a downside), is that each barrel is single shot. The Savage was my first gun, and has killed everything from squirrel to deer. Both rifles can be broken down, and the longest piece would be the barrels/scope section. Accuracy for the rifle barrel on both rifles is usually within 2 MOA, (sometimes better) and the shotgun barrels pattern well. Keep in mind other adapters are available for the shotgun barrels, to match a pistol caliber you might be carrying.



Next on the list is the AR-7 rifle, currently manufactured by Henry Arms. Yes, I know Marlin has a takedown .22 semi-auto, the Model 70PSS, but I don’t have much experience with it, but I have not heard anything bad about it (doesn’t break down as compact as the AR-7 though), and it’s known for it’s accuracy. I’ve had an AR-7 since the 1980’s,(Charter Arms), and fortunately, the Henry Arms version does not have the reliability issues the CA version had, and doesn’t need tweeked like my first one did. The AR-7 has decent accuracy (2.5 MOA with irons), good reliability (the Henry Arms models), and is very light and compact (it actually floats). The new version has two 8 round magazines, and both store in the stock with the receiver and barrel. I can tell you from decades of experience, that this is a great small game gun, and is still going strong after tens of thousands of rounds.


Keltec SU16C 5.56Nato/.223Rem Semi Auto


Keltec SU16C with stock folded

If you feel you need for more firepower, in a compact (25.5″ folded) semi-auto centerfire, the 4.7lb. Keltec SU16C is the ticket. The SU16C uses AR15 mags, and the “C” model actually can be fired with the stock folded (“A” and “B” models can’t), and has great reliability, and plenty of acceptable accuracy (1.5-2 MOA on average). One of the convenient things about the SU16C is that, just like an AKMS, it will fit in an M60 barrel bag (available as surplus), and will easily strap onto the side of your pack. This rifle is excellent for those who want a compact, very lightweight, centerfire, semi-auto for protection from two or four legged vermin, that conveniently uses the most popular magazine available for 5.56/.223 caliber rifles, and has that evil threaded barrel feature in the AR thread pitch (1/2×28) for suppressors, flash “hiders”, etc. I’m not listing AR’s AK’s etc., because this post is about lightweight, and/or versatile firearms options, not standard issue “battle” rifles.


Taurus M94 .22LR 9 shot, a J frame sized “Kitgun”. Pictured with speedloaders, and .22LR and .22Long CB Caps.

Next up is the ubiquitous .22Long Rifle J frame sized revolver, or “Kitgun”, as it has been called. There are a number of reasons for having a small, accurate .22LR handgun, capable of using any standard or high velocity .22 LR, Long, and Short ammo available. The Taurus rimfire revolver is both economical, accurate (minute of squirrel), and with nine rounds, is comparable to most rimfire auto loaders on the market in capacity, but smaller than average semi-auto. One advantage of a revolver is progressive loading. First three rounds might be snake shot, then  three CB caps, then three standard, or high velocity loads. Progressive loading in a revolver gives the shooter the option to cycle through the ammo (cock, decock till you’re at the round you want to use) in the cylinder. The purpose of snake shot loads is obvious (small shot loaded cartridge. CB Long Caps are a lightweight (29 grains), with a reduced load of propellant, for a very quiet discharge, in relation to a standard or high velocity load. They are used for small game out to about 10 yards (in my experience), and are quieter than some airguns. I’ve taken squirrel and rabbit out to 20 yards with this pistol, and it has been nothing but reliable and accurate in the decade I’ve owned it.

Well, that’s it for now. As I said, these are just some of my thoughts, reflected by years of ownership and use of these firearms. We’ll be covering some non-firearms options soon, Have a great Christmas.


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE


13 thoughts on ““Survival Arms”- My Thoughts On What’s Worked For Me

  1. Thank you for the plug in/mention

    I considered the keltec su16 before i got my M4. I was suprised to find it was made how it was made with the full polymer body but it still seemed to carry a good reputation. However i worried about it in the extreme cold up here so I didn’t go that route. I had a guy come out with me a bunch of times with a Bushmaster Carbon15 and he had to wrap it like a mummy because he was worried the extreme cold would shatter it.

    My Ruger SR22 pistol filled the cooking pot many times. It was a good handy pistol that stowed easy and it was reliable. Id recommend it to anyone. I like the idea of the AR7. A compact hunting weapon like that or a pistol thats easy to stow and draw cannot be overstated in its important in the survivalist (especially one fleeing a collapse on foot) tool box inventory. Don’t get stuck with a full on rifle if you have to go out on foot. Its a burden and distraction you dont need.


  2. Pingback: Two From JC Dodge | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. Don’t get stuck WITHOUT a “full on rifle”(.243 or larger) for a “survival weapon”. I consider my “AR” ( Colt H-BAR 5.56) to be the most useless carbine I own (its for sale). I don’t trust it to kill coyotes or deer reliably at any range above 200 yards. No rifle is a “do all” weapon. That’s why we have shot guns and .22’s. Having “swallowed the cool aid” on the 5.56 several years ago (Much to my regret) , I have come to relegate all three of my carbines to “safe queens” after repeated failures to take game with one shot kills. I have had deer run for a 1/2 mile after hitting the heart and both lungs with the 5.56. The more I use the 5.56 and the “AR” the less I like them.

    • Ray, Although I agree with your dislike of the .223/5.56 for certain tasks, I believe the problem is in what people want in an “all purpose cartridge”. This is what I have found to be the difference between the .223 and the .308. To get a solid one shot stop with a .223, I need to make a solid central nervous system hit (I shoot deer in the neck out to 250 meters, and have never had one walk off). To get a solid one shot stop with a .308, I need a solid respiratory, or circulatory hit (chest cavity), and they usually drop on the spot or within 50 meters. Bullet design helps, but is not necessary for this to occur. Understanding the cartridge you use and it’s range limitations is an imperative to not losing game and for selecting a defensive round that will do the job you require. A .223 is a very efficient cartridge for the survivalist who wants an all purpose round, as long as it’s limitations are understood. I am a big fan of the .308 (my cartridge of choice), simply because, although it is not as efficient from a reloading perspective, and it weighs more, it will do more in any arena you can name than the .223 will, and it is still a U.S. military issue round. The AR and the .223/5.56 has it’s place (lightweight, light cartridge), and having carried one in combat, I know it can be effective, if it’s abilities are understood. If given the choice, I would still rather have a .308 (a cartridge designed to kill, not wound). Generally, if you talk to a soldier that raves about the .223/5.56, you will automatically know that he is not a hunter, and has no real understanding of the true terminal ballistics reality (gleaned from gutting and skinning your quarry and seeing the damage inflicted…or not) of the cartridge they use. Generally, as a soldier, you might see your external handiwork, but you will not understand what that bullet actually did to a bad guy, the way a hunter does with the game they’ve shot.

    • Do pay attention 007..The entire paragraph was about compact hunting tools, hence the “full on rifle” term and has little in common with your rant regarding your inability to take out what you want with a perfectly good caliber.

      I would venture to guess that field experience of totting around large sums of weapons and ammo has escaped you. Experience is everything.

  4. Keltec and .22 revolver seem like the best options for survival specific weapons. Keltec has all the goodness of the 5.56 rounds, 30 round mags and folds up into a nice compact package. That .22 like Bergmann said can fill the pot with ease taking down small game, it’s stupid easy to maintain in the field and is quiet as well.

    • Are you talking about the two together, or each in it’s own field? As a small game gun, the AR-7 has taken more small game of opportunity, than any of the others mentioned, simply because it is compact, lightweight, and still a rifle (a lot more range than the pistol).

  5. Interesting read,I will say love my 5.56 and feel confident if I took a shot hunting with it would do well taking down a deer,that said though no kill yet also am hunting with a bow and realise that while the right tool is needed tis more of me using the tool correctly,that said,someone doesn’t like a particular tool certainly sell and get what works for you .Thanks to for the plug on Bermann,as a New Englander the more info. I can get and try out in regards to cold weather survival and heck,just fun a good thing.The lesson I learned last year was a better outer shell really needed as did some practice low crawling at end of day hunting and for lack of a better phrase picked up some snow hitch hiking,a lesson learned that didn’t cause a problem beyond some warm up time needed at home!

  6. Ridiculous.

    The AR-7 has a dismounting barrel which unless the bolt face surface is completely clean, will never fire to last point of impact since dismounting, let alone where a receiver mounted scope points. In fact, the “tubes” caliber converters suffer from the same fate.

    • If you’re claiming it doesn’t shoot 2.5 MOA, then we have a problem, since I have well over ten thousand rounds through a number of AR-7’s that prove your theory incorrect. The Marlin M70PSS is known for being an accurate takedown rifle (as most Marlin’s are known for accuracy), but if your theory was true, it would have the same problem with alignment affecting accuracy and scope mounting zero, which it does not. As far as the “tubes” (cartridge adapters) are concerned (for rifled barrels), I’ve always place a reference mark on the breech end of any adapter, to make sure it was always aligned the same, for that very reason. Thanks for your theoretical and academic input though.

  7. Good choice on the combo guns. Having the choice of rifle or shotgun NOW is a huge advantage over dedicated rifles or shotguns, they definitely expands your menu choice. Its a pity the Savage 24s are now hard to find for reasonable prices, I’m hoping the new Savage 42 chamberings will be expanded to at least one centerfire soon. I have a Savage 24F Predator in 30-30 Win. over 12 gauge with a TRS-25 Bushnell red dot sight – an excellent night time feral hog rifle. I really need to try one of those .32acp shell adapters.

    By the way, many AR7 users have given their rifles better accuracy using ‘plumbers tape’ on the threads for a tighter fit. It does mean your rifle does not take down nearly so easily, so that is definitely a minus. For a ruck gun, the AR7 kicks ass!

  8. I’d also suggest Chiappa Little Badger, Ruger MkIII 22/45 LITE, NEF Handy Rifle in many caliber/shot choices, AGP Arms takedown modified 10/22, any number of bolt action .22LR rifles, ready made snares, a gill net,

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