As with any other important subject, you will get as many different answers to this question as the number of people you ask. All will have their favorite rifles and brands as well as their favorite 22 lr ammo for a survival situation. Some will even believe that the 22 lr is good for nothing except plinking in the back yard.

This article will examine the facts of what actually makes the best survival weapon, if you could only have one, and whether or not that should be a 22 lr. Read on.

In a survival situation whether, urban, wilderness, or shtf, your chances of survival will be dependent on your ability to travel and / or live light. In other words, your chances are better if you can do more with less.

Carrying a 45 pistol, long range rifle, close range tactical rifle, shotgun, bazooka, etc. is not practical. Plus, looking like a walking amory will make you stand out and become a pretty easy target if you are in a hostile location which most survival situations will be.

So let’s say we want to whittle down our weapons to only 1 which is very practical. But what is the best choice? I believe it is either a 22 rifle, pistol, or both.

I can hear the groans from here coming from some of you but give me a chance to explain my choice below. Why is the 22 the perfect survival weapon?

Self protection

In any survival situation, protecting yourself is the first priority. If you can’t defend yourself, you surely won’t survive very long. The more dire the situation the more human nature will rule when food, shelter, and other needs begin to expire. Your weapon must be able to defend your life if and when the need arises.

I have seen all of the videos and read many articles that state a 22 lr is only better than a sharp stick for self defense and will not incapacitate an attacker with one shot. Here are some facts below that dispute this belief.

That fact is, there no real difference, at least statistically, between the 22 lr and other big bore “normal” pistol calibers as far as their ability to incapacitate. There is a difference between pistols and longer guns…..rifles and shotguns. This data is from Buckeye Firearms Association.

See above. Again there is no difference in 22 lr and other pistol calibers when it comes to their ability to cause a fatality….until you get to the long guns.

This data tells us that if you are going to choose a pistol for self defense, it doesn’t matter what caliber you choose. What’s really important is shot placement.

If you still aren’t convinced in the self defense capability of the 22 lr, watch this video by mixup 98. The video is a display of the S&W m&p 22 lr compact performance but at 4:30 he really simplifies the question at hand.

I think by now we have removed the doubt as to whether a 22 lr will work as a self defense weapon, especially in a survival situation.

I have seen a large man fall to the floor after being shot once in the chest by an irate girlfriend. He was dead when he landed and never moved.

I have also seen a rather small man get up and walk to an ambulance after being shot 8 times with a 22 lr. He survived with no serious injuries.

The difference in these two situations was shot placement. The same outcomes can result with a 44 magnum. Shot placement is the key.

Harvest small and large animals for protein

In a serious survival situation, after you have acquired shelter and water, the next basic need is food.

There is no better tool for hunting small game animals. Damage to the edible meat is minimal and the range at which you can take an animal is greatly increased over a bow, or even a cross bow.

Can you picture what a rabbit or squirrel would look like after being taken with a big bore pistol or AR? There wouldn’t be much left to eat…..and that’s if you could hit it.

A good 22 lr rifle, or pistol like the Ruger Mark 4, with the right optics would be just the ticket for this job

Lightweight

Keeping your load as light as possible whether you are moving or not is always important in a survival situation in order to conserve energy. Keeping spirits and energy levels high so you are capable of performing the constant tasks that will keep you alive is top priority.

Nothing will drain you quicker than carrying around a heavy pack full of weapons and ammo, plus keeping your weapon light will allow more room and weight for necessities. Below are some of the survival 22 lr rifles on the market today along with their weights.

M&P 15-22 6.5 lbsHenry AR7 survival rifle 3.3 lbsRuger takedown 5.0 lbsMagnum Research with carbon fiber barrel 4.0 lbs

A normal hunting rifle will come in close to 8 lbs if not over. Heavy barrel rifles or shotguns loaded with shells can be much heavier.

Easy to conceal

In a wilderness situation, the ability to conceal your weapon won’t be a big deal. You will be using your weapon mostly for hunting and acquiring food. A long gun …rifle, will give the advantage of being more accurate.

An urban situation however will be very different. It will probably call for giving the appearance of being unarmed and not out to start trouble but at the same time having the ability to defend yourself .

This environment may call for a pistol like the Ruger Mark 4 that is surprisingly accurate at longer distances, especially with right optic, but still easily concealed. These pistols work on the blow back concept and can easily be tac’d out to accommodate lights, lasers, red dots, etc.

There is also an endless market of other accessories to allow endless customization. If you would like to read more on the Ruger Mark pistols check out this article.

If you are a serious prepper like me you’ll probably want to have both. After all, the name of the game is being “prepared” for everything.

If you are shooter, you are probably aware of the name “Volquartsen”. If not, this company produces an entire line of firearms that are designed off of the Ruger 10/22 and Ruger Mark pistols. They look a lot like a Ruger but have been really “souped” up. Check them out here at Impact Guns.

Ammo is light, easy to carry, cheap and easily available

If you are having to travel in your survival situation, saving space and weight in your pack is important. This allows you to conserve energy and / or carry something else that might give you a better chance for survival.

The difference in weight of 500 AR15 or big bore pistol rounds and 500 22 lr rounds is about 1 pound. This doesn’t sound like much but when you have to carry it all day it becomes a big thing.

Five hundred AR15 rounds will consume almost 4 times the space of the same amount of 22 lr rounds. There is no way you can afford to lose this much space plus with the 22 you’ll have many more shots.

At less than 10 cents per round (at this writing) you can easily build your ammo stash to huge levels. No so when your caliber of choice costs more than 30 cents to over $2 per round when get into some of the super long range calibers.

Quiet

Another advantage of the 22 lr is ….it’s much quieter than any other powdered round. In fact, with a suppressor and standard velocity ammo, it can be quieter than most air rifles. In any survival situation, whether fighting for your life or hunting, being quiet is a huge advantage.

Ammo should be plentiful

There are more 22 lr firearms in the world than any other caliber. This is a well known fact. In a true SHTF situation, you should be able to find 22 lr ammo in the streets or almost anywhere.

My choices for the best survival weapons

Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22

The Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22 is all polymer making it a super light rifle to carry. There are metal rails etc. inserted where needed to ensure a smooth action that won’t wear excessively. It is made exactly like a standard AR with the exception of the blow back operation vs a gas system.

Any standard AR accessory will fit this rifle and all controls…safety, mag release, etc. are the same. The stock is adjustable and the mags are roughly the same size as those of its larger brother, except fitted for 22lr. The muzzle is threaded for 1/2 – 28 muzzle devices.

I have shot the rifle out to 200 yards and it is surprisingly accurate. I did this with an Athlon 6×24 mounted. My other 2 rifles are both equipped with red dots that co witness with the stock iron sights. The stock sights are sturdy and completely adjustable. Much better than some of the after market stuff that is available.

Stock trigger is around 5.5 lbs but can easily be replaced with a drop in after market model just like any other AR.

I personally own 3 of these rifles and love them. Optics change quickly and are usually right on zero once tightened In a survival situation, I will have one of these in my hands.


Hammerli Tac R1 AR-15 22 LR

Another AR15 twin in 22 lr. M Lok handguard, threaded barrel, adjustable sights, very steady adjustable stock, and substantial sights. Trigger is around 5 lbs stock but can be easily modified with a drop in just like any other AR.

Perfect for training, plinking or varmint control, the Walther Hammerli Tac R1 Rifle has the same feel, control and looks of an AR-15 but shoots the inexpensive .22 LR cartridge.

The ammunition for this rifle may be cheap but rest assured Walther has taken the same care and workmanship in these rifles, ensuring their accuracy, durability, and reliability.

Assembled with a 13″ M-Lok handguard you have all the room you will need for accessories. The Hammerli Tac R1 is outfitted with flip up sights but the upper receiver also features an integrated Picatinny rail for the mounting of optics.

With all of these features the only difference you will notice when training with this rifle is the extra cash left in your pocket from ammo savings.

Features:

  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Action: Semi-Auto
  • Magazine Capacity: 20 Rounds
  • Stock: MFT Minimalist Stock
  • Sight: Flip Up
  • Receiver: Aluminum, Matte Black
  • Handguard: 13″ M-Lok Compatible
  • Safety: Ambidextrous
  • Muzzle: Removeable Flash Hider
  • Barrel Length: 16.1″
  • Overall Length: 35.83″
  • Weight: 5.62 lbs.

Ruger take down threaded barrel

This little rifle is also very light and super accurate. I was shocked at how it held zero after being disassembled a couple of times. The lock system is well designed and the take down feature makes it perfect for a back pack.

The muzzle is threaded for any 1/2-28 muzzle device. Notice this rifle comes with no open sights. A red dot purchase needs to accompany it.

Features

16.1 Inch Threaded Lightweight Target Barrel Black Satin Finish Modular Stock System With Carry-Case 10 Round Easy takedown enables quick separation of the barrel from the action for ease of transportation and storage. Takedown is as simple as locking the bolt back and verifying that the rifle is unloaded, pushing a recessed lever, twisting the subassemblies and pulling them apart. Easy reassembly allows for a secure connection of the barrel and action and returns the firearm to zero, even with receiver-mounted optics. Ten-round rotary magazine. Combination scope base adapter for both Weaver-style and .22 tip-off scope mounts included. Positive push-button, cross-bolt manual safety. Cold hammer-forged alloy steel barrel tensioned in a ventilated 6061-T6 aluminum alloy sleeve. Threaded barrel with ½-28 thread pattern and 1:16 inch right hand twist. Black synthetic Ruger Modular Stock System with both high and low comb and standard length of pull. No sights. Includes carry case with extra pockets and magazine pockets. Material – Alloy Steel Barrel – Alloy Steel Barrel Tensioned in Aluminum Sleeve Thread Pattern- 1/2″-28 Capacity 10 Twist 1:16″ RH Finish- Satin Black Overall Length 34.62″ Barrel Length 16.10″ Weight 4.5 lb. Grooves 6

  • Name : 10/22 Td Lite 22lr Blk 16 Tb
  • Desc : 21152 | 1/2-28 Tpi
  • Model : 10/22 Takedown Lite
  • Model # : 21152
  • Manufacturer : Ruger
  • Caliber : 22 LR
  • Type : Rifle
  • Action : Semi-Auto
  • Barrel : 16.1″
  • Capacity : 10+1
  • Finish : Satin Black
  • Length : 34.62″
  • Safety : 2 Position Crossbolt
  • Stock Frame : Black Synthetic
  • Magazine : 1 / 10 rd.
  • Weight : 4.7 lbs.

Ruger Mark IV Tactical .22 LR 4.4 Inch Threaded Barrel

This one can be completely concealed, accommodate lights, lasers, etc and can easily fit a red dot that will co witness with the iron sights. 4.4 inch bull barrel is threaded for a suppressor or any other muzzle device.

Many optional accessories are available for this pistol as are several other models from Ruger.

  • Action : Double
  • Caliber : 22 Long Rifle (LR)
  • Barrel Length : 4.4″
  • Capacity : 10+1
  • Safety : Ambidextrous
  • Grips : Black Aluminum
  • Sight Configuration : Fixed
  • Weight : 34.6 oz
  • Frame Finish : Black Oxide

Henry AR7

This little rifle was designed of survival. Light weight, quick disassembly for storage in a back pack

Compact and lightweight. Breaks down into three pieces. No tools needed. Stock holds and comes with two eight round magazines. Steel barrel. Adjustable rear and blade front sights. Barrels and receiver coated with teflon. Grooved receiver. Length: 35 inches assembled. 16.5 inches when stowed.

Impact Guns has been selling this AR7 rifle online since we opening the doors in the 90’s. They are one of the worlds largest dealers of the AR7 rifle.

U.S. Survival AR-7. Don’t Leave Civilization Without One
Since 1959, the venerable AR-7 survival rifle has been the choice of U.S. Air Force pilots who need a small-caliber rifle they can count on for survival should they have to punch out over a remote area.

Over the years, the AR-7’s reputation for portability, ease of operation and reliability has carried over to the civilian world as well. Today, it’s a favorite of bush pilots, backpackers and back country adventurers who, like their Air Force counterparts, need a rifle that’s easy to carry but has the accuracy to reliably take down small game.

Like the original Henry US Survival Rifle, our latest take on this innovative, semi-automatic rifle is lightweight (just 2.5 lbs) and highly portable. At just 16 ½” long (when all the components are stowed), it fits easily into the cargo area of a plane or boat or in a backpack. And because it’s chambered in .22LR you can carry a large quantity of ammunition, without adding much weight to your gear.

The Henry Survival Rifle’s waterproof stock enables it to float if dropped into water. It can be easily retrieved and will still function. When disassembled, the pieces fit inside the impact-resistant, waterproof stock, which will float should it take a trip overboard. Assembly is as easy as attaching the receiver to the stock, inserting the barrel and screwing on the barrel nut. In just a few seconds, without the need for any tools, the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 is ready for action.

The Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 comes standard with a sturdy steel barrel covered in tough ABS plastic and then coated with Teflon for complete protection against corrosion. Plus, it’s engineered for perfect balance and the ability to maintain its tack-driving accuracy, even after thousands of rounds.

Like the barrel, the receiver is also coated with a layer of waterproof Teflon for superior weatherproofing, waterproof protection, even in harsh salt water environments. Plus, the updated receiver is grooved making it easy to top it off with your favorite optics.

All models are equipped with an adjustable rear sight and a blade front sight.

Action Type: Semi-automaticCaliber: .22 LR
Magazine Capacity: 8 Rounds (comes with two mags)Length: 38″ assembled, 16.5″ when stowed
Weight: 2.25 lbsStock: ABS Plastic
Sights: Adjustable Rear, Blade FrontFinish: Teflon coated receiver and coated steel barre