View Full Version : Looking for a 'Survival Rifle'

Nine the Ranger
June 22, 2012, 03:21 PM
Do here it is. I'm a bit of a Prepper, and I'm looking for a relativly cheap, semi-auto, reliable firearm for protection and survival.

I have my mind set on:

-A Ruger Mini-14
-A Century Arms WASR 10
-or an SKS of some form.

I can't decide, so would you all please help me weigh out the pros and cons of each? Thank you.

June 22, 2012, 04:15 PM
Hi Nine the Ranger!

I'm just curious - what's your budget like, will this be your first rifle, and have you thought about (and yes a lot of posters here will probably die laughing at this, but) have you thought about a couple of .22lr's?

Please don't take my questions as insults - not at all intended that way. I've more of a 'hunting' background than 'prepper' so bear with me.


ETA: Me, personally, of the list you just gave, my first take was the WASR. Now that's just *me* - you'll probably get as many opinions as posters.

Nine the Ranger
June 22, 2012, 04:54 PM
My budget is around $1000 for the rifle, I've found WASRs and Minis for around $600 new.

I'm just looking for an addition to my collection and a reasonable grab-n-go gun. I already have a Marlin 925m .22mag, and a Marlin 336cs 30-30, so I'm really looking for a more practical rifle.

June 22, 2012, 05:02 PM
Mini 14 all weather would be a good choice. Everything but springs is stainless (even the shield in the bottom of the stock) and the synthetic stock stands up well. Mine shoots great with irons and has been completely reliable. I've fitted a scope on it now but have yet to shoot it scoped. Factory ruger mags seem like they would take an abundance of use (even abuse) and still last decades (OEM mags are very sturdy steel magazines). It is also very simple and easy to disassemble and clean.

Of those you listed, it would and is my choice (along with the all weather ranch I also have a mini 14 tactical with the same black synthetic stock).

For a "survival" gun I'd also be thinking about a stainless bolt action too - simple, reliable and effective. Again, a stainless gun on a synthetic stock would be a great hide out in the boonies sort of gun.

June 22, 2012, 05:11 PM
I'm a huge fan of Mini-14s but out of the box they aren't much more accurate than an AK47 (2-3MOA or so) but of those on your list it would be my choice. What they are is super reliable, light and handy, and non-threatening looking. They must have expensive factory magazines to feed reliably and do not play all that well with optics (poor cheek weld) and I'd plan on getting a trigger job (~$40) to bring the trigger down from 7 to 3-4lbs. Done up right and with good mags they're a great survival, ranch, and home defense carbine. I had mine customized by Great Western Gunsmithing (http://www.greatwestgunsmithing.com/).


On the other hand a top quality 1-MOA (Colt (http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/36_140/products_id/78051/Colt+AR6720+Semi-Automatic+223+Remington5.56+NATO+20%2B1+Capa) or BCM (http://www.gandrtactical.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=MID-750-C)) AR15 will run you about $1100 but the magazines will be $11ea instead of $40. Do the math on say 13 magazines and the $380 that you save on magazines goes a long way to paying the difference between the $700 Mini and the $1100 AR15. If you're not worried about "parachute into combat" levels of reliability you can still get a darn good S&W M&P15 (http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/36_763_977/products_id/71968/Smith+%26+Wesson+M%26P+Semi-Automatic+223+Remington5.56+NATO+30) for under $1000.

You should also have a good hunting 22LR in you survival battery because a 556 round will disintegrate dinner if you're hunting rabbits for dinner ;). I'd pick up a Ruger 10/22TD (takedown) and hang a Weaver RV4 4x28 Rimfire or Leupold VX-1 2-7x28 Rimfire scope on it.

David the Gnome
June 22, 2012, 05:26 PM
The handiest/lightest of the rifles mentioned is by far the Mini-14. In a rifle you're planning on lugging around all day long those are very nice features to have. They are excellent rifles and ultra reliable with the factory mags. I have a stainless Mini-14GB model and I absolutely love how light and handy it is. I pretty much just use the 20rd mags in mine, they are considerably lighter than the 30rd mags are and they keep the bulk of the gun down to what I consider a reasonable level. The primary advantage of the Mini-14 is its compactness and I feel like the 20rd mags are more in keeping with that idea.

Nine the Ranger
June 22, 2012, 05:29 PM
I'm counting 3 votes Mini.

0 Votes for SKS.

1 Vote for WASR.

June 22, 2012, 09:50 PM
the magazines will be $11ea instead of $40.
For really cheap GI mags that you can bend by pinching between your fingers. Buy decent magpul mags and the price isn;t much different.

Now, on the Ak you can save a bundle on mags b/c AK mags were not made to be disposable.

THere are SKS-M rifles that take AK mags. They come at a premium for novelty, but I am quite happy with mine. Some are designed to work only with double stack mags and in my experience polymer mags are iffy with them.

I have an SKS-M and stainless mini-14. The finish on the mini is more rust resistant, but for the price difference I could get the SKS hard chromed and then they would be more or less equal.

June 22, 2012, 09:54 PM
I'd go with the Mini also. Magazine as stated will be a bit more expensive but they're pretty heavy duty and should last a lifetime. Most SKS rifles are fixed 10 round mags so if higher capacity is an issue for you that rules out the SKS. Newer Mini-14 rifles should be capable of 2 MOA with ammo they like.


June 22, 2012, 10:03 PM
Mini all the way


June 22, 2012, 10:52 PM
.22 LR is a must.

I have a Mini-14. Love it. Mags are not too bad anymore, just ordered a bunch from Midway USA for a reasonable price. Yes, more than an AR-15 mag, but these things are steel and seem tough.

June 22, 2012, 10:53 PM
If I had to be stuck if want my Stevens .22/.410 goo for squirrels and some small fowl can even shoot some slugs through the little guy maybe not the best choice but if I gotta survive I assume drawibg attention to myself with a loud semi auto is not so good.

June 22, 2012, 10:58 PM
For really cheap GI mags that you can bend by pinching between your fingers. Buy decent magpul mags and the price isn;t much different.
Those "really cheap GI mags (http://www.44mag.com/product/d_h_ar15_magazine_black_teflon/223_ar15_magazines)" are dead reliable and for $11ea you can buy a few spares (http://www.44mag.com/product/20_pack_ar-15_mags_free_pmag/223_ar15_magazines). Magpuls run $14 (http://www.44mag.com/product/magpul_pmag_30_black/223_ar15_magazines)-17 (http://www.44mag.com/product/magpul_pmag_with_maglevel_window/223_ar15_magazines) shipped so even if your buying Magpul mags your still only paying 35-42% the price of a 30rd Ruger magazine. The downside to Magpuls is that they are really bulky and don't fit all rifles or pouches. The only modern 20 & 30rd magazines that are close to 100% reliable in a Mini are Ruger's.

June 22, 2012, 11:33 PM
$1000 for a rifle...... Buy a mini-14. I would look for a tactical with 16'' barrel. Buy a nice scope to take advantage of the mini's accuracy in most 580+ series rifles. Get 4-5 new ruger 20rd. mags. They are very well built and will last many years under normal conditions. Its very reliable, a scoped mini is capable of some very good accuracy out to 2-4 hundred yards. Its not very heavy, its compact and you can carry alot of rounds without alot of weight. Very good all around carbine. Better than your other choices in my opinion.

June 22, 2012, 11:46 PM
My question is, if you've got a $1000 to spend on the rifle, why choose between those 3 options? For that amount you could can something better than all of the above. Higher end AK's like the VEPR, or Arsenal SGL or SLR-series, for example. Vz.58's can also be bought for that amount and are excellent rifles. There's decent AR's to be had for that sum as well.

June 23, 2012, 06:36 AM
I'd much rather have an AR than any of the others in a centerfire. But my survival rifle is one of the Ruger 10-22 takedown rifles.

June 23, 2012, 07:28 AM
For 1000, you can buy an AR AND a 22 bolt and mag.....(and maybe have a little left over for ammo)

It would also give you options to move to an upper in 300BLK or 6.8,
If you wanted some more "ummph"

The more options you give yourself the better

June 23, 2012, 07:51 AM
If you force me into just those 3 choices, I would go for an SKS and pocket the extra $650

If you are a prepper that extra $650 could go to MANY other places

An SKS can be used to hunt (hornady 120g SST will knock down any deer or boar) I wouldnt hunt with a 5.56.

The Mini is similar maybe slightly better than the SKS on accuracy...

The SKS is slightly better than the AK rifles in accuracy

I would also challenge you to look at feedback on CAI..... Its mostly not pretty

Within 150 yards, the 7.62x39 hits harder than the 5.56

The SKS can tolerate enormous abuse and can operate dirty.

For cheap shooting, the sks beats out the 5.56

The negatives on the SKS are many, but within your parameters, it seems to
be a decent choice

I like my SKS, not my favorite rifle, but for the price/ function unbeatable

June 23, 2012, 08:49 AM
Scratching my head in disbelief that somebody suggested an AR unsolicited in a crappy old semi auto thread!!!

Just Kidding

June 23, 2012, 10:17 AM
Out of the choices you give, for the purpose you have stated, I would definately choose the AK variant.

The Mini-14, while it is a great rifle, has a couple of Drawbacks compared to the AK. As others have mentioned, the price of the magazines may or may not be a factor for you. if you have 1000 to spend, you could certainly buy the rifle and a duffel full of mags, but never the less, AK mags are cheaper and a bit more robust in my opinion. But from a survivalist standpoint, I think the AKs most notable advantage is ruggedness. The AK is proven to be able to sustain VERY long periods of use with little to no maintenance and alot of neglect. The Mini is a great functioning rifle, but I do not think it would survive as long as an AK in extremely harsh situations where frequent care and cleaning may not be feasable. Also, I personally believe that the 7.62 warsaw cartridge is a bit more versatile in some ways than the 5.56. The extra bullet weight and beefier construction gives it a little extra punch when it comes to barrier and brush penetration.

In my opinion, the SKS is not a great choice for a survival weapon, though I dont believe its woefully inadequate, I think its drawbacks are severe enough to take it out of the class that I would seriously consider for a survival rifle. Its main drawback is its inability to use removable magazines with a high degree of reliability. I think for the size and weight, you could get a much more effective weapon. One of the main draws for an SKS used to be its price, which was a great price for what you got, with prices now, you can get a Saiga for the same price as an SKS..no brainer.

I am not getting into the whole accuracy thing here, as I believe not only are these three weapons in the same class in that department, but as a survival weapon, the only requirement is that they be Minute of Meat at an acceptable engagement range, whether for hunting or defense. All of these are certainly capable of that.

I judge a weapons suitability in a survival role on the basis of the following criteria. This is my own system that may or may not suit you, use it at your own discression.

1. Reliability, Survivability
2. Ergonomics-this is a broad category that encompasses the rifles ability to be carried and used for long periods as well as its capacity to be manipulated in adverse or combat conditions.
3. Calibre Capability and versatility
4. Parts and ammunition availability

There is no perfect survival rifle, there will always be a trade one way or another amongst these attributes but, in your own opinion and experience, the better grade it gets overall is how well the rifle will serve you if its ever needed.

Best of luck

Crow Hunter
June 23, 2012, 10:28 AM
Of the choices given, I would go with the SKS.

The WASR, while having the reputation of the AK, doesn't really warrant it IMHO. It may or may not be using military grade parts and isn't the same as it was delivered from the factory. It may be fine, but how many part produced by Tapco would you consider "military grade".

The Mini makes a very good ranch rifle. But it is not a military arm. Nor has it demonstrated the durability, survivability that the AK/SKS rifles have in combat.

The SKS is and was designed as a military arm. It has many years of service in armies across the world. You can actually get a SKS just as it was delivered from the arsenal and therefore, you get those advantages.

But leave it in it's as issued condition. Learn to use stripper clips, don't try to turn it into a rifle that it is not.

June 23, 2012, 10:52 AM
What's happens if all your mags crap out SKS and a .22 seem like a good deal.

June 23, 2012, 10:55 AM
An AR with a .22lr conversion would be a good way to go.

June 23, 2012, 06:21 PM
AR-15--with any decent standard of care, it is reliable. Magazines are not overly expensive. Add-ons and parts are easily found. You can customize it to your desires and specs, if you feel the need.

June 23, 2012, 10:05 PM
For a survival rifle my choice is a .22.

But based on your three I'd go with the SKS.

Its accurate enough.
And can handle neglect if needed. And most have chrome linned bores and chambers.

Unlike other posters I find the fixed mag a plus rather than a deterent. Its quick to load with stripper clips and can be loaded and topped off singly. I see the weight of the extra AK magazines as more ammo I can carry with the SKS. Plus ther are no detachable mag to become lost.

Plus I like the location of the safety on the SKS. carry loaded and ready to go, when you need to fire your finger takes they safety off on its way into the trigger guard to fire, very slick.

June 24, 2012, 02:08 AM
dead1818 you clearly have never hunted with 5.56

with proper bullets it is more than adequate for most anything except maybe a polar bear, or a great white shark.

i run 70gr TSX and trust me, they expand to .50 and are more than adequate, I have had very few white tail actually get more than 30-40ft, but most just drop if I do my job.

June 24, 2012, 07:56 AM
You are correct.

I have never hunted with a 5.56.

(I dont have one)

My personal belief is a 22LR, with an absolute perfect shot, could kill a deer.

My personal belief is, i am NOT a perfect shot. (its more than a belief):p

Many of the shots i tried have been on an animal that is moving, sometimes fast. In these cases, my shot my be off a bit.

I am not a horrible shot, but I do believe my hopped up, hand loaded, 8mm
would take care of a near miss better than a 5.56, As would a good bullet from
a 7.62x39. (154 grain SP tula or Hornady SST)

I also believe that the light 5.56, will be effected more by brush shots (likely
hunting areas) than a heavier bullet

I guess i am guilty as anyone else on this matter as I listen to others opinions.
Also being illegal to hunt with in some states sways my opinions as well.

If it works for you, so be it. If you are a precise shooter, in all situations, thats good.

I realize that the answer to poor accuracy isnt a larger caliber.

I am just saying that the 8 mm (or my second choice, the 7.62) allows me to take a shot on a fast moving animal where my shot may not be as precise.

I have tracked deer that have taken awhile to bleed out, ( i was hunting with
a bow and took a shot through brush that went high)

I didnt like that

I am trying for the cleanest, most ethical kill i can get.

As far as the OP is concerned, IMHO, of the 3 choices listed, my 2 cents (not worth even that)

The SKS is the rugged, accurate enough, big enough bullet, that can do what he wanted

June 24, 2012, 12:15 PM
For a survival situation a Mini 14 is hard to beat. Reliable as heck and very light to carry. I live on the seashore right on the salt water and I have had no corrosion whatever with my blued Mini 14 over the 16 years we have lived here.

Same with 10/22. Simple, light, elegant for a backup survival rifle.

June 24, 2012, 12:31 PM
.223 is adequate for hunting white tail (within limits) but not legal for hunting everywhere.

I don't like mini-14s very much but of the choices you floated it is likely the best choice.

Glockstar .40
June 24, 2012, 06:10 PM
1000 limit? mini 14 cost about 650-800$, ak cost 600-1000$, sks 200-400$

my advice get a norinco sks thats been converted to take AK mags (stay away from sks mags) and what you have is a 400$ more accurate AK. spend the other 600 and get mags and ammo!!

my norinco has been flawless! it works great with metal chinese mags and the tapco waffle mags.

but its your choice so get what works for you.

June 24, 2012, 06:55 PM
I wouldn't consider any of these weapons a "survivalist" rifle. I certainly wouldn't turn one away in a pinch but to think out the basic requirements of a good SHTF/survivalist semi-auto rifle none of them would be on my list.

I would go with the Mini14 simply because it uses a very easy to find round that can be used to take down small/medium size game and people.

For $1000, and if it had to be semi-auto, I would go with a Colt 6940 or a BCM. Both are very reliable, ammo is readily available, both in a civilian round and in a military round. If you do have to make repairs, parts are easy to find and replace.

June 24, 2012, 07:47 PM
Ar15 in 5.56 and a .22 conversion kit for it.;)

June 24, 2012, 07:54 PM
i have colt ar-15's, ruger mini 14's, ak-47's, saigas and sks rifles, all are very good in my opinion. for value tho i would look for an sks or an ak variant. the ammo for ak 47 types rifle is easily available and reasonably priced. i would also look into the ak 74 varients 545x39. you can find some bargins in the 545x39 rifles and ammo. with a budget of $1000 you should be able to get a couple of rifles and 1 to 2 thousand rounds of ammo in either the 762x39 or the 545x39 ammo.

June 24, 2012, 08:00 PM
Thanks Dale for steering the thread away from becoming an AR thread.

June 24, 2012, 11:35 PM
From your choices the mini 14,just because they are cool.:cool:

June 25, 2012, 02:53 AM
Cannot go wrong with a mini 14.

My second two cents...
I think everyone should also have a .22LR or conversion kit for one. A .22 Mag is nice. But over the years I had problems getting .22 Mag ammo on occasion.

I have an AR 7 survival .22 LR I used for years. Small, light, killed a lot of small game with it. Barrel, receiver and one magazine breaks down and stores in its butt stock. Perfect for preserving and tossing into a survival kit with a few thousand rounds.

Just a thought, although a little off the primary question.

Willie Lowman
June 25, 2012, 04:21 AM
I also believe that the light 5.56, will be effected more by brush shots (likely
hunting areas) than a heavier bullet

A 7.62 will be deflected just as easily by small branches and twigs as a 5.56. A "brush gun" is one that it very effective at close range, not one that can shoot through the brush. I have seen a 1 oz 12 gauge slug deflected (and therefore a deer missed) by a twig not quite as thick as a pencil.

June 26, 2012, 12:39 AM
I don't know why people keep saying WASR's are $600. If you look around online you can find them for about $450. Factor in $50 to ship and $25 for paperwork and you're only at $525.

If you are more worried about weight of the gun than accuracy > AK47

If you are more worried about accuracy than weight > SKS

AK's aren't horrible with accuracy if you get the right one. An American made IO I shot a year ago was able to easily hit clay pigeons at 75+ yards with irons. My SKS can easily hit man-sized targets at 300yds. If I had the choice (personally) I'd go with an AK so I can move faster.

June 26, 2012, 01:06 AM
Based on what you already have, I would not make that expense. You have what you need already, instead use the money and stock up on more ammo. If you have a family and youngsters and they do not know about firearms, $1000 worth of 22 magnum and 30-30 rds buys a lot for you to teach your family about marksmanship. Or, spend the money on reloading equipment and reload supplies for what you already own.