Survival Weapons: The Ideal Loadout

Survival Weapons ideal loadout

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Loyal Brezny has authored four books on shooting with three on long range, and one covering shotgunning. With 26 years on a metro police department as a street officer and the rank of SGT / training L.P. has covered all the bases regarding weapons and street survival. We asked him to tell us his ideal weapons loadout for an end-of-the-world scenario, and here’s what he had to say.

Article written by Loyal Brezny

If you are looking for the ideal long guns in an SHTF scenario, we have five you should consider as essential.

These weapons have several things in common.

  1. Portability. They are light and easy to carry. In a pinch, you can take all five with you.
  2. Common. Ammo and parts are very common for these firearms. A good hardware store will have the needs of bullets and shells. Accessories are likewise easy to come by.
  3. Proven. Each one of these weapons is proven reliable.

*For optics, check out this rifle scope review.


If you are limited to one gun only, make it a .22 long rifle. The best choice is Henry AR 7. This is a copy of the original Armalite AR-7 Explorer. The AR-7 was developed in 1959 as a military survival rifle.

Henry AR 7

The AR 7 is a takedown rifle and all the parts fit inside the stock. With the butt cover in place, the stock is also watertight and it floats! At 3.5 pounds, you can carry it and 500 rounds of ammo and still come in under 8 pounds of total weight.

When assembling the gun, pull the bolt back and then tighten the barrel nut. This makes sure the bolt and the breech are tight.

Runners Up

Ruger 10/22 – The most popular .22 rifle on the planet today, the 10/22 is also the most customizable. From heavy-barrel target rifles to compact handgun configurations, this rifle is amazing. It now comes in a takedown model as well.

Ruger rifle
The Ruger 10/22

The Crickett – This is a single-shot rifle with a manual straight-draw bolt. You just pull the bolt and firing pin back until it locks. This is an incredibly simple rifle and can be repaired using parts that were never intended for use in a rifle.

Crickett Adult rifle
Crickett Adult Rifle

Why pack a .22?

  • .22 ammunition is the most common in the US. It is simply everywhere.
  • The average weight of a 500-round brick of .22 long rifle is 4.3 pounds. That’s less than most centerfire rifles. Try carrying 500 pounds of any other ammo.
  • It is deadly. A shot to the brain will drop most targets in their tracks. The .22 can take nearly any animal on the planet today including some of the Dangerous Game animals like lion and leopard. Bella Twin dropped a record-book grizzly with one. My personal record is a 1,500-pound steer that dropped with one shot between the eyes. Yes, we ate steak for a long time after that.
  • If you don’t mind using the rifle as a single shot, you can shoot .22 shorts and .22 long from any .22 rifle chambered in .22 long rifle.


While the .22 will put meat on the table, if that meat is a few hundred yards away, you need something with more reach. Sometimes you also need a serious punch on the far end.

The Remington Model 700 is one of the most popular rifles around that is chambered in .30-06. This bolt-action rifle has taken every game animal in North America and many on other continents.

Remintgon 700
The Remintgon 700

Runners Up

Savage 111 – The Savage 111 comes in several styles, including a left-hand model. Savage’s trigger is one of the best on the market and the rifle is a tack driver.

The Savage 111

BLR Lightweight Takedown – The ability to take a rifle apart and put it into a backpack is something survivalists live for. The Browning lever action takedown in .30-06 means you can store it, the AR 7, an AR 15, and a shotgun in the same bag. The bag will be heavy, but compact.

The BLR Lightweight takedown

Why .30-06?

  • Common. Check the list of the 10 most popular rifle calibers and the .30-06 is always on the list.
  • Reach. The .30-06 has more reach than the .308, which is a carbine version of the venerable ’06. In the hands of an expert, it will take targets at 1,000 yards or more.
  • Versatile. The .30-06 shoots .308 caliber bullets. Bullet weights range from 100-grain screamers to a monster 250 grains.


If there is a do-all gun, it has to be a shotgun. Load birdshot for hunting small game. Increase the shot size as the target size increases, all the way up to buckshot to take out deer and medium bear-sized game. Load slugs and you now have a small cannon capable of bringing down moose-sized targets.

The top shotgun here is a tie between the 12 gauge Mossberg 500 series and the Remington 870 series. We say series because each gun comes in a variety of configurations including the fairly new Mossberg Shockwave and the Remington Tac-14.

The Mossberg
The Mossberg

Both can be customized to fit any shooting need. The Mossberg has a .50 black powder conversion kit. The Remington magazine can be extended easily, while on a Mossberg the whole tube and barrel have to be replaced.

The Remington
The Remington

Otherwise, anything you can do with one, you can do to the other. With a pistol grip and an 18″ barrel, the gun becomes a takedown shotgun capable of going in a large backpack.

These two shotguns are pump models. A pump is more reliable than an automatic. You get more shots before reloading than with a single or double-barrel.

Why 12 gauge? In a word, ammo choices. Shoot No. 10 birdshot for the smallest critters and go to crushing 1.5-ounce slugs to take out the big stuff.

A one-ounce slug from a 3-inch magnum delivers more than 3,000 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. It also feels like getting kicked by a mule when you pull the trigger. I like 7/8 ounce slugs in 2&3/4 shells for that reason.

AR 15

The AR 15 is the most popular and most customized semi-auto rifle on the planet today. It was originally chambered for the .223 Remington.

The AR 15

Today you can get conversion kits to change your rifle from the small .223 or NATO 5.56 to shoot everything from .22 long rifle up to .50 caliber rounds like the .50 Beowulf and even the ultimate in Reach Out And Touch Something, the .50 BMG. A .50 BMG conversion for the AR is a single shot.

Given the huge variety of AR 15 parts and accessories on the market today, the best AR 15 is the one you build yourself. Pick a good forged aluminum lower receiver and then your caliber.

You can get barrel lengths from 7-inches out to 24-inches or more. Under federal law, any AR15 with a barrel less than 16 inches in either a handgun and cannot have a full stock or has a full stock and is a short-barreled rifle and requires a $200 tax stamp.


No survival gun list is complete with a handgun. While I am not a polymer fan, the S&W M&P 2.0 is one of the finest handguns I’ve shot in a long time.

The SW
The SW M&P 2.0

Advances in gun tech put the 9mm in the same class as the .45 ACP in stopping power. A 17-round mag means you have plenty of back up after the first shot.

For an all-metal gun, the Sig Sauer Scorpion with the 17-round mags gets the nod. As much as I love my 1911, it is heavy, has very limited magazine capacity and it is not as concealable as the Sig.

The Scropion
The Sig Sauer Scorpion

Runners Up

CZ P-10 C – This Czech polymer-frame 9mm packs 15+1 rounds and is a favorite in the competition circuit.

The CZ P-10 C

Glock 19 – It’s hard to argue the dependability of the Glock. This mid-sized 9mm comes with a standard 15-round mag but has the option to get extended mags to increase capacity to 33 rounds. Wow.

Glock 19
The Glock 19


Stuck with one gun? The Chiappa M6 double-barrel is the top contender. In the 12 gauge over and .22 under configuration, you get our top two picks in one. Chiappa also sells shotgun barrel inserts so you can shoot handgun ammo like the .44 mag in the top barrel. The drawback is this is a single shot — that one shot better count.

The Chiappa M6


A survival gun needs to be something you are comfortable shooting and one that matches the place you live. A .30-06 with 150-grain loads is plenty in the Deep South, where the biggest and baddest animals are wild hogs and the occasional black bear. In the far north, elk, moose, and really big bear mean you need to have a supply of 200-grain or heavier bullets.

Regardless of your gun and ammo selection, have a supply of bullets on hand. The best gun in the world is only a club if you do not have something to shoot out of it.

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