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Old November 9, 2018, 03:31 PM   #1
Y4112
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What should I look for in a survival rifle?

I don't currently own a gun but am looking to get a semi-auto rifle for hunting big game both during normal hunting seasons as well as being a weapon that one could bug out with or use for home defense if necessary.

I was thinking the 6.8 to 7.62 caliber range.
Portability and lightweight would be nice.
Versatility is really what I'm looking for here, not wanting to have to buy several different rifles for different purposes.

Although I am wondering if I may actually want two rifles, with the second being a small rifle around .22 that folds up and is lightweight for hunting small game. Although I am unsure if it would be something I wanted to rely on for much else.
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Old November 9, 2018, 03:43 PM   #2
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Welcome.
I'd go rent the rifles at a range first and see how you like them before deciding on a specific caliber. Every caliber has pros and cons.
A .22 is easy to carry and shoot, and inexpensive and lightweight, but won't (in some cases is illegal) for game animals.
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Old November 9, 2018, 06:00 PM   #3
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If you can swing it, I would go with your idea of two rifles. One a dedicated hunting rifle and the other for home defense/bug out. Although I am not a big fan of them, AR’s in 5.56/.223 are about as good as it gets IMO. They just bore me to tears...
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Old November 9, 2018, 06:17 PM   #4
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Welcome! I agree with 2 rifles. A .22 would make a great survival tool, especially as there are many makes of takedown and collapsible style .22s. As far as big game goes, how big are you looking? A semi-auto in anything from 6mm - 7.62mm would be fine for almost anything in NA, provided you have a proper bullet construction selected for your application. Some of those AR10s have gotten quite light.

Do you have a budget in mind?
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Old November 9, 2018, 06:57 PM   #5
MarkCO
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If I had to go with two, I would get a decent 6.5CM bolt gun and a 9mm PCC.

Rationale. The 6.5CM will cover most aspects of big game hunting and plinking at the range and is a lower recoil and popular cartridge. Something in the Ruger American line can be had in the $400 range.

A 9mm PCC will allow you to shoot some competitions, which will get you needed practice and gun handling skills. Less cost and concussion than a .223 and a platform that is probably the easiest to shoot well for the widest array of people.
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Old November 9, 2018, 07:13 PM   #6
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If only one rifle I would choose a 22 magnum. Hits hard enough for self defense and great for hunting as well with well placed shots in the ear or just behind the ear. You can carry 500 rounds of bullets for the same weight that maybe 3 or 4 boxes of 20 count larger calibers weigh. My second firearm would be the Kel-Tec PMR 30 handgun. Lot of firepower with one caliber.
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Old November 9, 2018, 07:59 PM   #7
Art Eatman
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For this website, "survival rifle" means civilian self-defense; typically, around one's home.

So, in general, semi-autos in the general arena of the AK/AR family.

For big game no larger than most whitetail deer, a .243 has always been sufficient for me. Larger mule deer, and elk? 7mm08 and up. My own preference is a bolt action, since they are quite accurate at (commonly) lesser expense.

For a person with little or no experience with rifles, I strongly recommend a .22 rimfire for the learning curve. It's the least-cost way to develop one's skill.
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Old November 9, 2018, 08:40 PM   #8
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If ammo availability is considered, a 7.62x39 and a 22lr make a good SD/hunting combo. The 22lr is the king of "learning" and is cheap/easy to shoot. The 7.62x39 is a decent short range medium game round and works well for SD. Both rounds are economical and readily available.
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Old November 10, 2018, 12:56 AM   #9
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I've always been of the thought you get what's best over a large area of needs first . IMO that is a 22lr ( 10/22 ) and a 12ga shotgun . Those were my very first guns I owed 30yrs ago and still seem to be the go to combo . Right there is all your hunting and survival needs at a cost of one large caliber centerfire rifle . You later can branch out to specific needs when ever needed . You can switch out the shotgun for a lesser expensive Ruger American or Savage Axis bolt guns in 308 or 30-06 for about the same price . Ammo availability and price for any of those options should be good .
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Old November 10, 2018, 05:10 AM   #10
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The problem with a 6.8 would be long term(beyond what you have on hand or can carry) ammo supply. If that's not your priority, the 6.8 is superior to the 7.62x39 as a game taker. I have both, have shot deer with both, and find the 6.8 a better choice.
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Old November 10, 2018, 09:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
For this website, "survival rifle" means civilian self-defense; typically, around one's home.

So, in general, semi-autos in the general arena of the AK/AR family.
* * *
For a person with little or no experience with rifles, I strongly recommend a .22 rimfire for the learning curve. It's the least-cost way to develop one's skill.
With but one quibble, I have to agree with Art on this one, especially that last part about including a decent .22 rifle in the 'survival' battery. Cheap practice for marksmanship development and a practical tool in its own right.

The quibble is, I'd include the 7.62/.308 M1 Garands and M1As among the semi-auto suggestions.

That said ...

Quote:
What should I look for in a survival rifle?
Generally speaking, you want reliability first, and reasonable accuracy at practical distances second.

And for one do-it-all centerfire rifle caliber, I'd strongly recommend the commonly available .308/7.62 cartridge.

Last edited by agtman; November 10, 2018 at 09:23 AM.
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Old November 10, 2018, 10:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agtman View Post
With but one quibble, I have to agree with Art on this one, especially that last part about including a decent .22 rifle in the 'survival' battery. Cheap practice for marksmanship development and a practical tool in its own right.

The quibble is, I'd include the 7.62/.308 M1 Garands and M1As among the semi-auto suggestions.

That said ...

Generally speaking, you want reliability first, and reasonable accuracy at practical distances second.

And for one do-it-all centerfire rifle caliber, I'd strongly recommend the commonly available .308/7.62 cartridge.
As I own M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, and an M1A, I agree that they should be on the list. However, there is one notable platform missing, a Ruger Mini-30.

I own the Mini-14 I use for general plinking and love the size, hold, and ruggedness of the rifle. In addition, I've shot the Mini-30 numerous times and think of it as a M1 Carbine sized platform on steroids. Shooting a 30 cal, 125grn bullet in the 2400-2600fps range puts it in the performance range of my 30-30.

Even though I have 2 AR-15s, when I go out into the Rockies 'woods walking' I take my Mini-14 over even my lightweight AR-15 carbine every time. As an 'irons gun', the Mini platform is a jewel as you can shoot from 0-200+yds very accurately. My 583 series Mini, with a few cheap tweaks and using my 62grn Hornady handloads is a 1 MOA shooter so it's plenty accurate for the OP's needs.

I use my Mini-14 to smack bowling pins at 200yds and that's with iron sights. The Mini-30, shooting decent ammo, is also a 1MOA platform and even out at 300yds, shooting at steel with iron sights is a blast. In fact, the only reason I don't own a Mini-30 is that I already have long guns in 30 Carbine, 30-30, 300 Savage, .308, and 30-06 so another 30 cal is not something I can justify to myself at this time.

It's small, compact, rugged, dependable, and pretty darn accurate if you use reasonably decent ammo. Speaking of ammo, the 7.62x39 rd is a compact rd about the length of a .223/5.56 but with much more punch. Great for HD and hunting out to medium range for up to large mule deer sized animals, it's a better choice than the clunky AK platform in my book.
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Old November 10, 2018, 10:51 AM   #13
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22 there is ammo everywhere. Anything else not so much. A bugout you aren’t usually bringing full reloading and casting supplies
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Old November 10, 2018, 12:37 PM   #14
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If I could have only one rifle for survival it would be my 10/22. It's a tactical model with all polymer furniture. Some of that's unnecessary, but I do like having furniture that's inherently impervious to the elements. In my opinion, .22 is the most versatile round available in terms of survival. You can hunt small game without wasting meat and with decent shot placement (good scope) one could ostensibly bring down much larger game. And there's no reason it can't be useful in defense.
That said, every gun is a compromise. People on here disagree about all manner of things, but everyone will agree with that. If you want one or two guns, make certain they do what it is you need most and accept that you're going to face some serious limitations.
My go to two:
Ruger 10/22
AKM in 7.62x39
Solid choices in anyone's mind, though not the only valid ones.
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Old November 10, 2018, 12:39 PM   #15
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And depending on where you live, 9mm carbines make a great close quarters (suburb) gun.
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Old November 10, 2018, 01:58 PM   #16
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Ruger used to make the SP101 in .22 but they've gotten hard to find. With enough looking you may come across a Smith in your price range.

If you want new or affordable you'll probably have to settle for a Taurus.

There's always the Iver Johnsons, Rossis, H&Rs, RGs (junk) and a few other imports too.
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