Top Five Wilderness Survival Guns

If you’re considering expanding your gun collection with an eye to what you might need in a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) situation, this is a good place to start. In the video below, Paul Harrell goes over his picks for the top five wilderness survival guns.  He includes long guns and handguns, even getting into handgun size and its relation to accuracy.

Paul Harrell, wilderness survival guns
Paul Harrell lists his top five wilderness survival guns and goes into detail on why larger and smaller calibers do or do not work well for the purpose. (Photo Credit: Paul Harrell)

Harrell defines a wilderness survival rifle as being used in or for the following circumstances:

  • In the field
  • Under adverse conditions
  • When you have to spend the night, or multiple nights, you had not intended and were not prepared to spend

Harrell’s Top Five Tips for Surviving in the Wilderness

1  Proper prior planning (keep yourself out of the situation in the first place)

2. Know yourself and seek self-improvement

3. Pack in accordance with your knowledge and skill level

4. Don’t overpack

5. Keep all your gear together in one easily carryable thing so it’s all together and there when you need it

The top five guns according to Harrell vary from the Marlin 1895 chambered in 45-70 to the Ruger 10/22 but he does tend to prefer smaller caliber firearms for survival use. This is due to a number of reasons but largely centers around portability and versatility. Larger-caliber firearms are heavier and so is their ammunition, plus they leave significantly larger wound cavities in game animals which could result in lost meat. Using smaller calibers means you can carry more ammunition and both the gun and ammo weigh less. And, of course, there will be more usable meat left when you shoot a game animal.

Paul Harrell survival handguns
Handguns are included in Harrell’s list. He prefers larger-framed handguns to smaller ones although he favors 22 LR regardless of the gun’s size. (Photo Credit: Paul Harrell)

Accuracy is an issue Harrell covers at some length in his video. He points out the fact that larger handguns are typically easier for shooters to aim and score accurate hits with than micro-pistols, but he admits sometimes you do need a smaller gun. Remember, distance matters, too. It’s important to practice with your chosen survival handgun or long gun at more than one distance to ensure you’re familiar with what you can and cannot do with that gun and its ammunition.

Harrell’s Top Five Guns for Wilderness Survival

  1. Ruger 10/22 Takedown
  2. Beretta M9_22LR
  3. Ruger Mark III
  4. Mossberg 510 in 410 Bore
  5. SIG P365

Remember, when you are selecting a gun (or guns) for survival purposes, consider what you’re most likely to need it for and whether you can get the ammunition you’d need to run it. Then there’s the fact that you need to be able to repair it if it breaks, so you’re going to be on the hunt for easier-to-repair platforms and spare parts.

There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting wilderness survival guns. Take a look at Harrell’s video to get an idea of what does and does not work.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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