GUNS & WEAPONS

Best Assault Rifle to Have In A Survival Situation

Assault rifle
David Dawson
Written by David Dawson

Being prepared for a survival situation implies more than thinking about food, water and shelter. Any well prepared survivalist knows that self defense is a very important aspect of, well, staying alive and safe. That’s why today we’re going to discuss why you need to learn self defense techniques and why it’s very important to choose your self defense weapon really carefully.

Most of you may think “I have a knife, a machete and an axe, what other weapons do I need?” Yes, knives and axes make great weapons but they are also tools that you need for as long as possible. A gun’s only purpose is self defense and you can intimidate and incapacitate an attacker from the distance without having to engage in a close body confrontation.

Now, that we’ve learned the purpose of a self defense weapon it’s time to discuss which ones to choose. Do we go with a simple pistol or we choose a machine gun? History showed that the best self defense weapon in case of a survival situation is the assault rifle. It’s an all-purpose firearm that proved to be perfect for various combat and self defense situations. The only problem is that there are almost endless options and you need to choose the best assault rifle for your needs.

Its versatility and diversity is actually what makes the assault rifle to be such a great weapon and, finding the one you need is a more a personal choice given the fact that each model has tactical aftermarket parts that can be added later.

Best Assault Rifles

If you’re a beginner when it comes to guns, you’ll have a difficult time until you find the riffle that’s best for you. You can always ask advice from a professional which is actually recommended, but you can also read more and educate yourself in the area. In order to make your life easier, we put together a few tips to help you find the best assault rifle for you:

  • If you’ve just been introduced to shooting and you need something to learn with, look for a small caliber rifle. A .22 caliber rifle is great for beginners and it fits in a small budget. There’s no point in investing money in this from the start because it will take a while to find the rifle that you feel comfortable with;
  • Choose a rifle that’s simple to use and easy to maintain. In order to become a better shooter you have to practice a lot and this won’t happen if you spend more than half of your practice time taking care of your gun;
  • Know what you’re going to use the rifle for. A rifle can be used for both hunting and self defense which in a survival situation makes it the perfect weapon. Still, if you want to go hunting, you need to know what you’re going to hunt. There’s an old saying that goes something like this “.30 is a squirrel gun, .40 is a rabbit gun, .50 is a deer gun and .60 is a bear gun”. The measuring may not be as accurate today, but the idea is the same. Big caliber rifles are not recommended to beginners though. Better start small.
  • Take your budget into consideration – actually, this should be the second step after you establish your level of experience. You can dream at a super rifle like the AR-15 but if your budget doesn’t allow it, you’ll have to make peace with this and choose the best one you can afford.
  • Ammunition availability is an important factor to consider, especially when you’re facing an end of the world scenario. You need to have access to as much ammunition as possible because without it all you have is an expensive club. If your budget is getting smaller and smaller, then you should also know how to make your own bullets. We have a great article with step-by-step instructions that can be found here.

Storage and transportation are also important when you consider making a purchase. Before you decide, make sure that your rifle comes in a durable carrying case made of high-quality fabrics. If you want to buy the rifle without a case it’s best to consider buying one separately. Especially in a survival situation, having a durable case like the Condor Rifle Case is paramount.

A few words of caution

Owing a gun and not being prepared for this can lead to a disastrous situation. As a gun owner you have to understand that your responsibility towards others increases to a whole other level.

You need to be in control of your emotions and capable to understand that a gun doesn’t give you power over other beings. You also need to know how to calmly assess a violent situation and when to introduce the gun in the equation.

Choosing caliber infographic

If you’re facing a big, wild animal that feels threaten by your presence a rifle will prove its efficiency. Still, you need to be able to keep your calm and wait until you can take the decisive shot that will save your life. If you’re not able to correctly assess the situation and start shooting at random, you’ll only anger your opponent which can never end well.

Regardless of the fact that you are in a survival situation or a self defense situation, the gun should be used (against another human being) only as a last resort. It’s great for hunting in order to keep you and your family fed and it’s really good to have around for self defense but you also need to know when to use it.

Woman practice

If you’re a beginner, you have to practice shooting a lot so, when the time comes, you can shoot directly at your target, without hurting anyone else around. Owning and using a gun will make you a better person who’s more in control of their actions and thoughts but only if used properly and with training.

The best assault rifle according to budget

Moving forward, it’s time to discuss a few popular assault rifles and see what makes them so wanted. As we discussed earlier, after you know your experience level, you need to know how much you want to invest in a rifle. Let’s see if any of these rifles make your budget.

The AR-15 – versatility and speed

This is one of the best assault rifles in America and its popularity is mainly due to the fact that the owner can customize it after his or her licking. The base platform is a combination between the military M16 and MA14 platforms and it’s widely used by law enforcement organs and US soldier in combat situations.

You need to be extremely careful and well informed when choosing an AR-15 rifle as there is a wide variety of models on the market with notable differences in quality and versatility. If you don’t know enough to make the difference between models and understand why one is cheaper than the other then you should better ask advice from a specialist.

Remember one rule of thumb: in guns (as anything that is of quality in life) quality doesn’t come cheap. Before striking a deal on a cheap AR think if you really want a cheap rifle in your hands when facing a life or death situation.

The AR-15 platform for military rifles has been in use for a long time and it was tested and improved during this period. The ammunition used for this rifle is the 5.56 NATO caliber but the gun is capable of firing other calibers if the upper receiver is changed. You can fire calibers such as the 300 Blackout or the .458 SOCOM by simply purchasing the complete barreled upper receivers.

AR-15

One of the greatest strong points of the AR-15 is the possibility of rapid fire without compromising accuracy, which makes it so great in the battle field. The 5.56 round offers high velocity due to the small caliber. Also the 5.56 is lighter than bigger caliber bullets so it’s easier to carry in larger quantities which makes it the ideal ammunition in a survival situation.

Don’t expect to put a bear down with this rifle but you can inflict enough damage as to get out alive. In our opinion, it’s one of the best guns to use for self defense in a survival scenario. The price may be a problem though, as you can’t find a decent AR-15 under $1000.

Even so, you’ll only be able to buy the very basic system without any cool gadgets. Anyways, this is an investment that will be with you for life if you take care of it so maybe you consider saving some more before doing the purchase. Remember that you have endless upgrading possibilities so, in time, you can actually own a pretty bad ass rifle.

However, you should also keep in mind the fact that the AR-15 has multiple intricate parts that require intensive maintenance. This asks for an advanced cleaning kit that can be easily carried around even when you have to travel light. Of  course, you must also know how to use this kit so take a look at our tutorial on how to clean a rifle.

The AK47 – durability and affordability

We all have heard of the great AK47 and its unique shape makes it very easy to recognize wherever in the entire world. The main feature that actually made this rifle so popular is durability. This gun will withstand years of use and abuse and still work under any conditions and combat scenario.

According to actual users you can drop this rifle in a well pit, hold it under water, drag it through mud and then drive it over with a tank and it will still work. The story may seem a little bit stretched here, given the fact that this model was built 60 years ago and technology evolved a lot since then.

If we think about it, no modern weapon can withstand the same abuse and still be OK with it. Well, the AK47 is special and its creator a genius. Back then, they actually needed a gun that won’t fall apart under bad terrain conditions and the AK47 was the end result.

When it comes to accuracy, the rifle is not the first you’d think at but it compensates with a 30 round magazine. The idea is that out of 30 shots, at least one is bound to reach its target.

AK-47

If you’ve never seen an AK47 in real life you may be a bit disappointed by the simple, minimalistic design. Also it doesn’t have any cool accessories that can make it look more bad ass. You have to keep in mind that the gun was not made to look cool but to function under the most difficult conditions; job that it does successfully.

Actually, it’s because of the simple design the AK47 works so well under difficult conditions. It doesn’t have intricate parts that need intensive maintenance like the AR-15 we discussed earlier.

The ammunition is very common and given the fact that these rifles are used all over the world it won’t be hard to find it in case of a survival situation. You can buy a basic AK47 for about $500 which makes it pretty affordable in comparison with the AR-15.

Still, you need to be more careful when purchasing this rifle because there are many low quality models on the market. If you’re new at this ask for advice from someone who knows the AK47 very well.

If you don’t feel comfortable with having a real AK47 or you can’t find it on the market, you can always and AEG that copies the AK. The AK47 Airsoft Electric Rifle will not be as useful as the real thing in a combat with live ammunition, but it will be great when you’re trying to fend off enemies without weapons.

The Ruger 10/22 – great for beginners

This is a quality Long Rifle perfect for new and young shooters. The .22 caliber ammunition makes this the best civilian assault rifle for learning to shoot because it doesn’t provide any recoil and you can hit the target from a distance of 100 yards with 100% precision. Professional shooters may dismiss the Ruger as they consider it to be a gun for kids but if you’re a beginner, don’t be so hasty to move forward.

The Ruger is great as a first survival weapon as you will be able to practice without worrying too much about ammunition or recoil. So, if you’re in practice mode, this rifle and a set of silhouette targets should be your starter pack.

It’s true that the small caliber makes professional recommend this gun only for squirrel and rabbit hunting but it will keep you alive in a doomsday scenario. The accuracy compensates a lot for the small caliber and there are a lot of possibilities to customize it. A simple online search will show you that there are many tactical aftermarket parts so you can transform your Ruger in the coolest rifle ever.

Ruger 10-22

One of the smashing pros of this amazing rifle is the ammunition. The .22 caliber ammunition is very common and you can find it everywhere you go. Another important aspect that makes this the perfect rifle to have in a zombie apocalypse is the fact that it’s really quiet (compared to other firearms).

With this rifle you’ll be able to make your way through the enemy camp without waking up too many people (or zombies).

If you need even more convincing you should know that the Ruger is light and very easy to carry in a survival scenario. Also it is very easy to maintain and clean and very affordable. The basic model is around $400 and you can customize it as you like afterwards.

The Henry Arms AR-7 – the actual survival rifle

The first time the term “survival rifle” was ever used was to define a light, compact, reliable and accurate weapon that had the advantage of being collapsible. This type of rifle was destined to protect the life of pilots that had the bad luck of crashing on enemy territory – from here the survival term.

Meanwhile, the survivalists showed up and the term survival rifle was extended over other types of rifles like the ones we already discussed. Basically, today, a survival rifle is the rifle you put in your go bag to use when the world goes crazy and the apocalypse starts.

Returning to the current subject, the AR-7 is a collapsible riffle, with two barrels that shoots both .22 long rifle caliber and .410 shotgun rounds. It is the ideal survival rifle as it is very easy to conceal in your bag when broken down. Sure you’ll have to put it together when you want to use it which it doesn’t make it a good self defense weapon in case of a surprise attack but it’s great to have as a back-up weapon.

The Henry Arms AR-7

The ammunition is very common and light to carry which adds to the rifle’s value in a survival situation when you need as much ammunition as possible. Also, due to the small caliber, this is not a gun for hunting bears, but in apocalyptical times we don’t really recommend going bear hunting.

Smaller animals like rabbits and squirrels are more appropriate for a protein packed dinner and the AR-7 will definitely provide in this case.

Well, these are among the best civilian assault rifles you could use in case of a survival scenario. Of course that if you’re not a big fan of guns you can use other means to protect yourself and your family but a rifle will save you a lot of trouble.

First of all you can shoot from distance which eliminates the close body confrontation. Even if you’re a big, well fitted guy, a direct confrontation can be pretty damaging and when the world is easily slipping to Stone Age you don’t want to be hurt and in need of medical attention.

One of these rifles can be your most reliable friend someday so take a closer look. Choose wisely the weapon that is going to protect you and your family in the wilderness, when there’s no one else to protect you. However, make sure to put your family’s safety first. Thus, if you own a rifle and you want to keep it in the house, make sure that it’s safely locked away.

A safe like the Barska rifle safe, equipped with biometric locks will keep the kids safe and the rifles (it keeps up to 3) easy to access. If you don’t want to invest in a safe, then a heavy-duty rifle case that locks with a key like the Plano Rifle Case is a fantastic choice. You just grab the case and go! If you’re interested in the safe scenario, we have a great article about the best gun safes you could own.

The secret in a survival case scenario is to have the rifle prepared in a safe location where it can be easily grabbed. It’s best if you keep the ammunition close by which is why it’s important to have it locked away when you’re not living alone.

– A short update –

First of all, I want to thank our readers for their interest in this article. Their comments are much appreciated and, at their recommendation, we felt it’s important to clarify an information in this article.

Now, we have to mention that we didn’t think of the “assault rifle” as in the strict military term, especially since we are recommending rifles that can be used by civilians in a survival situation. So, the rifles you are going to see are civilian rifles that can be used as an assault rifle, which is why we also called them civilian assault rifles.

The basic term of “assault rifle”, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “a gun that can shoot many bullets quickly and that is designed for use by the military”. According to this, such a weapon is capable of automatic and semiautomatic fire, it has a large capacity magazine, and is designed to be used only by the military.

In the United States, all weapons capable to fire automatically (machine gun style) are regulated heavily since the National Firearms Act of 1934. A civilian will be able to own such a weapon only after he/she has been cleared by the FBI and has paid a $200 federal tax. Of course, the FBI will take all your 10 fingerprints and they will keep a close watch on you.

Rifles that look like military assault rifles are not capable to fire automatically. Theblaze.com has a more detailed explanation to why we do have civilian rifles that are called and resemble an assault rifle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Dawson
David Dawson

David Dawson is a retired security specialist with over 20 years of experience. He worked for a secret manufacturing facilities and hospitals in Illinois. David's responsibility was to protect people in case of any disaster or cataclysm that might occur. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and survive flood, earthquake or even war.

  • Bill Wallace

    Good discussion covering guns for survival, but you should actually look up the definition of “Assault Rifle”. Especially the part about being selective fire between semi and fully automatic. None of the firearms in this article are “Assault rifles”.

    • AlexeiKats

      The AK-47 is definitely an assault rifle.
      Anyway, who would start to discuss about rifles in critical situations? Doesn`t matter what rifle you`ve got when you need to protect yourself and your family.
      I am interested in price of all these weapons, could anyone help me with this?
      Also i would like to see a post about bayonets for assault rifles, gonna be interesting.

      • Harry

        The original AK47 is an assault rifle. What people are allowed to buy in America is NOT an assault rifle and it is very much so an AK variant. According to United States federal law, an assault rifle is a rifle capable of firing more than one round per trigger-pull. ALL of the guns mentioned in this article are capable of firing only one round per trigger pull. Therefore NONE of them are assault rifles. Google it. What Bill Wallace is saying is very very correct. There is more misinformation out there than facts on gun ownership and current gun laws.

        Despite what Obama would like you to believe, it is not easy to convert a non-assault rifle into an assault rifle unless you have a complete machine shop and are an experienced machinist, mechanical design engineer, and possibly welder.

        Also, it is worth it to investigate and discuss rifles for survival situations. A gun is a tool and just like you won’t go installing screws with a hammer, a gun should be tailored to the job and the skills of the owner/operator.

        Despite what Obama says, you will have to pass a background check to purchase this. You’ll order it to a local FFL (gun store or pawn shop that deals in guns) and they will transfer it to you after you fill out paperwork, pass a background check, and pay a small transfer fee. Some states/localities have additional requirements/fees.

        As far as bayonets, they were a very deadly tool during pre-WW1 times when rifles weren’t capable of firing rounds as fast as they are today. Bayonets even found some use up to WW2 and in Vietnam. However, modern fighting technology is so sophisticated that a bayonet on a gun is less practical and a waste of weight. Also, it’s a great opportunity to get arrested for failing to comply with local/state laws on maximum knife lengths and legal knife types for carry/ownership. And the last and most important thing is that there is ZERO chance that you will use a bayonet for defense and not get arrested for it. And there is a SLIM chance that you can even use a gun with a bayonet mounted to it for defense and not get arrested for it. Skip the bayonet and carry a knife on your hip. There is training available from places like self defense schools and karate dojos on knife fighting versus almost nonexistent civilian training for fighting with a bayonet. Right now I’m carrying a CRKT M16-14T on my hip and I’m at work so no gun, but I ordinarily carry a CZ75 P01.

        • David Dawson

          Hi Guys,
          It depends on your definition of an assault rifle. Assault rifle technical features and performance are largely determined by the ammunition you use. This is a great discussion, but you should always remember that it takes more than a good feel for a firearm to qualify as an assault rifle.

  • Harry

    I would really like to have a short and civil discussion with the author, David Dawson, about incorrect information that he had in the article. I don’t mean to debate the content of his opinions because everyone is entitled to them. Merely the definition of an “assault rifle”. This article uses that word excessively and I’m convinced that the author does not understand that definition according to Federal Law.

    I would really appreciate it if the author released an edit to the article that corrects this. Over 50 thousand people have read this article and by people believing that “assault rifles” are legal for purchase, they may support policies that limit the purchase of an otherwise completely legal weapon. Assault rifles are not readily available to purchase in America and for the sake of spreading correct information and good journalism, I would like to clarify these simple facts with the author.

    • Cory Hansard

      Lighten up Francis.

    • David Dawson

      Hi Harry,
      Thank you for your observations. We will certainly make the necessary adjustments.

    • quinn

      I dont know what america you live in harry but Semi automatic assault rifles are very legal and readily available.

  • James Dutra

    Hello David,
    The first photo at the top of this page has several guns. I’m new at this, and would like to know what kind of short rifle is pictured above in this photo? It is very short, black lower, black heat shield, black clip, black scope, and tan color pistol grip and butt stock. Is this a AR-15, AK-47 or something else. What is the caliber, manufacture, and most important the weight.
    I currently have a custom made AR-15, but it’s too heavy for me to handle, after having two severe left shoulder surgeries with limited range of motion and permanent muscle/joint weakness, especially on extension of left arm. (Difficult to extend left arm to secure rifle because of the weight). A bipod helps at the range, but out in the wilderness, it’s very uncomfortable to use, if not impossible.

    What are your alternative rifle recommendations for me to consider, that would be lighter, easier to use, but good quality, if all hell brakes loose in our beautiful country? (Example, the first photo above in this article)

    Would appreciate some advise and direction.

    Thanks,
    James

    • Shootingstraight

      James I have a customer who has problems holding many rifles steady as he had lost most of his right hand to a landmine. We tried many and found that the F&N PS-90 was perfect for him. It is a bullpup style rifle that is ambidextrous, has a 50 round clip is light and very acurate. Check one out or better yet many gun ranges rent weapons, so if you can find one try it out several times so you get a real feel for it. Good luck and pray that we never have to use this equipment or these skills but better safe than sorry.

      • David Dawson

        We acclaim that recoil sensitive individuals try out a number of firearms before buying. We believe this is possible at most local gun rental shooting ranges. Always start with something light, and work your way up gradually to powerful pieces. As far as the guns in the image are concerned, we will remember to include more details about them in our next posting.

  • Shawn

    Ive been watching the walking dead. Need one

  • Shootingstraight

    All in all I felt that you did a fine job of pointing your readers in the right direction for choosing a survival rifle. I highly agree with the Ruger 10/22, for a beginner or even a experienced shooter, it is a rifle that anyone who is interested in survival and improving their marksmanship should own. You can easily pick up 50 round clips, though you only want the ones with steel lips, as well as upgrade the rifle and your shooting skills, till you can drive nails at a 100 yards. By choosing subsonic rounds the rifle can be silenced enough that you don’t drive neighbors crazy practicing. Which is something that should be done till aiming at a target 25 yards away is automatic and can be hit shooting from the hip. Never underestimate a 22lr in the hands of a trained operater. Another suggestion for gun owners that I often make is to atend or read articles on anger management, you can learn many tricks to stay calm, diffuse a situation, or at the very least hopefully keep your head so that if you do have to defend yourself or faimly, you won’t give the impression or be accused of someone who was looking for trouble. Remember that there is always at least 3 sides to every story, their side, your side, and the truth. Even if no one is lying we all will see things from our own perspective so next time you have a disagreement, try to put yourself in their shoes, and hopefully they will do the same, and the weapons remain in their storage place.

    • David Dawson

      This guide introduces you to major types of assault rifles and their uses. The goal is to provide you with enough info to enable you to make a decision. The decision is not to buy a rifle, but which type of rifle might be right for you. The rifle you choose should have offensive capability. The Ruger 10/22 is certainly a reliable firearm in the hands of a beginner.

  • WyomingMike

    Sorry, but a gun’s only purpose is not self defense. If you need a firearm for defense against 5 or 6 or 10 people (30 round mags) you really should think about moving. Even if you were VERY HIGHLY TRAINED AND EXPERIENCED, you would be hard pressed to defend 360 degrees, dawn, dusk and dark, by yourself. If you live in an area with homes at four compass points, 8 or 10 meters away, your position CAN NOT be defended by one man. So your survival firearm(s) should be a .22 rifle (rabbits, porcupines, woodchucks) and a 20 or 12 gauge shotgun (birds, rabbits, deer if you have slugs) and a 308 or 30-06 rifle (deer, feral pigs, somebody’s cow). Don’t buy a $1500 dollar AR or AK and lights and bells and whistles and magazines and camouflage hats. Buy a bolt action small game 22 rifle and a pump 12 gauge shotgun and a bolt 308 deer rifle. All 3 for the same $1500. And a 12 gauge pump will be just as intimidating as an AR if, God forbid, you ever have to point it at someone.

  • David Dawson

    These are good and reliable options you have presented. However, it is wise to consider the following: affordability, durability, versatility, and speed. Thank you for your contributions.

  • David Dawson

    This is quite a contentious issue, but research suggests that it is illegal to produce or manufacture any new semi automatic guns that fall under the classification of an assault rifle.