Friday, January 29, 2010

Some Thoughts on Bug Out Firearms

I like guns a lot and over the years have owned just about all the ones that I found interesting; buying, swapping and selling and still ending up with more than I can use, much less carry in a bug out situation.  Here on Bug Out Survival the subject of firearms in general will naturally come up frequently.

I grew up hunting in rural Mississippi, and when I was first allowed to take off into the nearby woods on my own at about seven, my hunting rifle was a Benjamin .22 caliber pellet gun - very effective in slaying the wild gray squirrels that thrived in the tall mixed oak and pine forests of a nearby creek bottom, so long as I waited until they came closer to the ground.  That single-shot air rifle that had to be pumped up about 10 times between shots taught me a lot about making every shot count and the importance of patience in stalking close or waiting on game to approach.  Later, when my dad trusted that I wouldn't do anything stupid, he let me take the old Savage single-shot 20-gauge shotgun.  With a long barrel and a full choke, using number six shot, I became a real threat to the local squirrel population and occasionally brought home a rabbit as well.  Not too long after, I got my first .22 rimfire rifle, a bolt-action, tube-fed Marlin Model 781 that I still have today.  I came to love the .22 for its versatility and the ease of carrying lots of cartridges, though I really didn't need many for hunting, because that rifle with a 4-power scope was a tack-driver.

Most people discussing survival firearms on various blogs and forums on the Internet agree on the usefulness and versatility of the .22 rimfire rifle, and I'm no exception.  I've seen .22 rifles used to bring down everything from deer to wild turkey and all manner of small game.  In the jungles of Nicaragua and Honduras, along the Rio Coco and Rio Patuca, the Miskito Indians I've trekked with used well-worn, rusty Marlin Model 60 semi-auto rifles to shoot monkeys and birds the size of turkeys high up in the rainforest canopy.  Then, coming to small, clear streams, they would turn these same rifles to the task of shooting fish.  They didn't question their ability to take the occasional deer as well with the same rifles. They were very effective hunters and we ate a variety of exotic wildlife at every night's campsite. 

These Marlin .22 rifles were not the only weapons these guys had, by any means.  In every village there are at least a few AKs around, left over from their struggle with the Sandinistas.  These were the real thing, of course, not the castrated semi-automatics we're allowed to own here.  But ammunition for them was precious, so it was not wasted.  I saw one fired only once from a dugout canoe - our river guide taking a shot a crocodile that quickly sank from view, whether hit or not, I don't know.

I like the AK as well when it comes to defensive firearms and will be discussing that type of weapon here as well, including my favorite variations, and other combat weapons such as Glocks, AR-15s, etc.  I'm also a big fan of leverguns and one of my current favorites is the Winchester Model 1894 Trapper, with the 16-inch barrel.  Combined with a suitable revolver in the same caliber, this is a great compact and lightweight bug-out combination that can do most everything, from defense against human and animal aggressors, to hunting deer-sized game at reasonable ranges, on down to small game with .38 Special rounds.

But if I could take only one gun that would have to do for everything, it would probably be one of my .22 rifles, whether that trusty old Marlin Model  781, the Ruger 10/22, the Winchester 94/22, the Marlin Papoose or the AR-7 Explorer.

This is just an introduction to the subject, I will certainly get more specific as time goes on and I get around to posting more photos and articles.  I will also look forward to your comments and would love to hear your thoughts on bug-out firearms as well as see photos of your favorites.


  1. Like you, my thinking is the .22 is close to as perfect a survival weapon available, other than a good bow and arrows. Add a pistol to that and it gets even better. Too, the combination that has become my fave is the Marlin '94 and Ruger Police Security Six in .357. There's a real comfy feeling in kowing you won't be out of ammo for either if you have one or the other.
    But then, there's a lot to be said for the re-usability of an arrow.
    Shy III

  2. I like bows and arrows too, and a few years back I really got seriously into primitive archery and made lots of bows, all my arrows, and obsidian points. I'll be posting about that here as well. The only problem in a bug out situation, at least right in the beginning, is carrying enough arrows to get you by until you can start replacing them. I see bow hunting as an excellent alternative in a long-term bug out situation, once you're in a place to stay awhile. Or, in the beginning if you are in a canoe or other means of transportation besides hoofing it on foot with a backpack. I've done some long kayak trips with long bows and with take-down recurves. In my book I also mention caching gear in advance if you know where you're going. In that case, I would definitely include one or two bows, plenty of complete arrows, and supplies and tools to make more.

  3. I've got a Marlin 60 myself, nice little rifle. Being able to carry 1,000 rounds for it in a bug out bag, and it's light weight make it pretty attractive for bugging out on foot....

  4. You can't go wrong with the Marlin 60, especially for the price. I had one I kept on my sailboat all the time and after the boat was swept into the woods by Katrina's storm surge, the damned looters found it before I did. Needless to say, that little rifle was among the things they took.

  5. Been thinking of purchasing a Marlin 60. My son has a Mossber Plinkster .22 that's a lot of fun to shoot. I'm such a handgun nut, that I'll probably buy a Ruger Mark III .22 pistol instead. I also think a .357 lever action is a great survival gun. Too much for real small game, maybe, but also very versatile self defense, hunting and a training rifle. I would say a .22 and 12 gauge could get you through almost anything.

  6. Also consider the combination shotgun / rifle for foraging. Single shot capacity, but having the choice RIGHT NOW is awfully handy. Centerfire versions are pretty heavy, but the rimfire small gauge shotguns aren't bad at all. I own three, two of the rimfires, one centerfire.

    1. I have the Savage model 24, .22/20g combo, and love it. This is the older wood version, not the new synthetic one. If you can find one, they are a great gun for this purpose. I removed the butt plate and drilled a couple of holes for a small survival kit and extra ammo.

  7. Another possible option is the T/C Contender. Once you get past the initial cost of receiver, spare barrels can be had for very reasonable prices. Choate makes a folding stock for it as well, a quick to set up single shot rifle. A .22 rimfire and .357 Magnum would make for a very versatile firearm system that takes up very little space, allowing more ammunition if you like.

  8. So many people pre-occupied with self defense scenario's laugh at the 22lr. But what a versatile calibre indeed. I agree with the .22lr as a great choice for a survival weapon whatever region you are in. Gathering game from deer to ducks is not only possible, but done everyday by native people in different parts of Canada. They are not bound by hunting regs. like the rest of us. The occassional moose is even harvested with yes, you guessed it, a .22lr! Close head shot and down they go. Its not so hard to believe if you see it done, which I have. That being said, when you spend time in the wilderness, the night brings a special kind of mindfull caution that even the most seasoned woodsman knows. For that reason perhaps a larger calibre would be nice to have about your person. Perhaps a .22 rifle and a 9mm or .357 handgun would be a good combo. A light glock with a couple extra mags would go a long way for personal comfort. In 9mm with 115gr bullets or .357 with 125gr you could carry enough to matter. And yes if your carrying ammo the difference between 125 and 158 grain matters. The lever action/wheelgun combo in .357 is a great idea. The downside being having to find a bullet weight/brand that works accurately in both. Maybe you could still carry an ultra light .22 like the marlin papoose at 3.25lbs. For game gathering the meat to weight ratio of the .22lr is unbeatable! Everyone needs a .22 rifle!! Yes make it a RIFLE not a handgun. The velocity difference of the shorter barrel and the loss in accuracy compared to a rifle is no contest. When shooting small game an inch matters a little more and when shooting such a small calibre a couple hundred feet per second matters as well. Great discussion and hey...when an emergency comes ya'll reading and gathering info. are already better off than everybody else! Good day!

  9. Think Clan vs individual..

    I have no problem arming up the youngest folks with .22 semiautos and plent of mags.

    They can lay down a base of fire at a good sustained rate in a conflict. No different than a nice 12 gauge banging away.

    Pin the opponent while more experienced and heavily armed can manuver to neutralize the threat.

  10. I've owned 2 AR-7's. It's a decent gun to put under the car or plane seat and forget about but has serious limitations. The new ones are built pretty poorly. They change point of impact every time they're put together and the sights aren't adjustable. They also have feeding problems due to their chap build and frequently jam.
    A Marlin 39 is a far better choice. Mine has tens of thousands of rounds put through it and still drives tacks at decent ranges.
    Personally I think the usefulness of taking a 1,000 .22 rounds along in a survival situation is pretty much not necessary. You'd be dead long before you used the first 50.
    Get serious folks. Bows and arrows, 22's,handguns, sling shots and spears don't cut it do they? When you really, really have to get something dead use a real gun.
    Depending on the situation, I'd chose my 742 in 06 if bad guys were the biggest issue. My Browning lever action in 308 in a unknown end of the world / get out of Dodge situation. For surviving on what I could kill and eat situation, say walking out of a large wilderness (or perhaps walking into one) I'd use my H&R 12 ga. single.

  11. I love me a good .22 and so does my son, who will be carrying his Henry lever action. I'll be carrying my Marlin 336 in 30-30. No these are not the best defensive weapons, but are very effective. My sidearm of choice is a Sig Sauer P250 in .45acp. I know, alot of different ammo, but I'm willing to trudge with it.

  12. Can't beat the .22 but don't forget our little friend the .410. You can carry a ton of ammo ranging from slug to shot. It wont mall up your small game and will take down a snake to well much bigger threats

  13. I won't argue with the usefulness of a good 22. for hunting small game- but in a very bad situation, you need a combat firearm, period. A defensive pistol is all well and good, but if you are facing dangerous armed people, zombies (just kidding), etc. you should follow the US. Marines mantra: Bring a rifle. Bring another rifle. Bring all your friends who have rifles.

    Shotguns are useful too- and a lot of bad guys have a lot of fear of shotguns. Great for dispatching stray zombies. A good pump-action shotgun will dish out a lot of pain for anyone who is on the wrong end of it.

    AR-15's and AK style rifles are very good choices when you are facing bad guys who want to take your stuff, your females, and your life. I would probably prefer and AR style rifle- they are more accurate than AKs. Everyone has their own preferences, but for those of you with AK's- please take proper care of it. AK's are very reliable, but don't run crappy ammo through it and never clean it if you don't have too. You should always take good care of all your guns. AK's don't require much cleaning, but why not keep it clear of gunk?

    I think that higher power rifles are useful in disaster situation, and a good 7.62x51mm will punch through car bodies. I would like a Socom 16 in a bug-out situation- power of a 308. in a short package. Don't underestimate a lever-action carbine- some people call them "cowboy assault rifles". You can shoot those very fast.

    A bolt-action rifle could be useful over long distances- but I don't know how far away you will be from the threat when you encounter it. Perhaps for picking off the undead- or persuading a robber gang to turn around. Bolt actions would be good for sentry duty- your sentry wouldn't be able to spend all their rounds shooting blindly in a panic.

    By the way, Anonymous who wrote the Clan vs the individual comment, I would want something bigger than a 22. in a firefight, even for cover fire. A 223. perhaps. You need to consider the difference between stopping power and killing power- and the lucky shots. Even if you mortally wound someone with a 22. he could keep coming and hurt or kill some of your group. 22.'s don't have much stopping power, and even if carefully aimed shots have taken down large game animals (with a bit of luck), a combat situation is to chaotic to count on carefully aimed lucky shots with a 22. A combat gun needs to penetrate cover, possibly even body armor. It needs to have enough stopping power to stop someone from carrying out their intentions, like shooting you. You want your gun to STOP a threat, not cause someone to bleed to death ten minutes later after they stab you to death in a blind rage. In other words, a combat weapon needs to reliably kill people, even in a chaotic firefight- where you can't count on carefully aimed "Annie Oakley" circus act hunting expert shots. Who are you, Annie Oakley?? I don't think so. Use a proper gun for self defense.

    Christopher Phoenix

  14. A 7.62x39 will punch through car bodies, cement, cinder block, brick, and most anything a 7.62x51 will.

    I'd say: have a long-arm, and know how to use it. Period. A .22 LR is great if things are going smooth. But think about this: if the .22 LR was such a wonder round, why don't front line military units use it? My rifle is an AK-74. I can carry plenty of ammo and the rifle itself is light weight enough. If I am car mobile, I'll also have a .22 and a 20 ga. If I am only foot mobile, it is the -74. I'd like to have a rifle in .30+ caliber, but with ammo and other things, I just can't carry it all. I know my limitations, and I am not a big guy.

    You face the world with the weapon you have. If I have my choice of only one, it sure is not going to be a .22. If I am not foot mobile only, a .22 will be there with me.



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