Best Types Of Rifles for Survival Situations

The world is under constant turmoil. Whether it be nature, politics, imminent wars, apocalypse, or an intrusion at your domicile, having a reliable weapon at hand is your best bet under any survival situation. When SHTF, even a kitchen knife can come in handy. But it is always better to stay prepared with the right tools.

A tool ideal for such situations is a good rifle. In this article, we’ll talk about why rifles are considered to be the best self-defense weapon for survival situations. We’ll also take a look at some major survival situations and the type of rifles that are best for those purposes. You’ll also learn about important aspects to consider when choosing a rifle for survival situations, and which survival accessories are most important and useful in those situations.

So roll up your sleeves, and keep scrolling.

hunting rife

Why Are Rifles Ideal for Survival?


If you already possess and use rifles, you must be using them for different purposes; these most likely include hunting, shooting competitions, range shooting, and plinking. This means that over time you have become well acquainted with using your rifle. Furthermore, your rifle can also be used for prepping or survival situations.

Stopping power

It is an obvious fact that rifles have a better stopping power than handguns and other weapons you’re likely to use in a survival situation. Rifles are successfully used for hunting animals, so why can’t they be used for killing intruders? Mid-caliber rifles like the .457 can even stop big animals like grizzly bears.

Capacity and Handling

Rifles use high capacity magazines, which allows you to fire for a longer duration without reloading rounds. This is an excellent feature, pertaining to situations where you have to tackle multiple hostiles or cannot reach extra magazines. Plus, rifles are easy and comfortable to handle under different stances due to their ergonomics.

Range and Accuracy

If you want to put up a fight from a distance, a rifle is an ideal weapon, allowing you to shoot targets from a distance with exceptional accuracy due to its length and handling.

Battle Tested

Survival situations are comparable to a battlefield. In both places, a person faces threats to their safety or their life. Rifles are the primary weapon of militaries around the world, and have been battle tested; their capability for survival situations cannot be understated.

Four Major Survival Situations

SHTF situations are not only limited to post-apocalyptic events or natural calamities. Any situation where you face an imminent threat to your life can be considered a survival situation. These predicaments can arise while you’re camping, hunting, or even sleeping comfortably in your home. However, we’ll only be considering situations where rifles are the ideal weapon of choice.

Wilderness Survival Small Game

Hunting small game doesn’t require big guns, but does necessitate compact guns with low recoil. If you’re trying to shoot a small rabbit with a .308, you probably won’t be left with anything to eat apart from scattered flesh. For wilderness survival with small animals, you must choose a .22LR/WMR or .177 HMR caliber rifle, which will take down the game easily without spoiling the carcass. Beyond that, rifles chambered in these calibers have a compact design and extremely low recoil. Furthermore, ammunition for these guns has the advantage of being cheap and readily available.

Wilderness Survival Big Game

“Big game” can refer to creatures ranging in size from a whitetail deer or elk to a fearsome Alaskan grizzly bear. If you are a seasoned hunter, you probably know that these animals can only be taken down from a distance. If you end up in a close quarters encounter, your rifle needs to have the necessary stopping power. Obviously, a small caliber rifle isn’t going to stop a nine foot tall, 800-pound grizzly galloping towards you. Calibers such as .300 and .338 are ideal for big game wilderness survival, since they have the necessary stopping power to finish the job quickly and with fewer shots. However, you must always keep a distance from big game if you spot them early.

Self Defense Long Range

Long range shooting requires an extremely precise and accurate rifle, plus a heavy caliber to travel the distance. Additionally, the ballistics of the type of ammunition being used also plays a role. For the most part, .300 and .308(7.62 NATO) calibers are ideal for long-range self-defense. Rifles such as the Remington 700 chambered in such calibers are ideal weapons for long range shooting. You must also have a good optic scope mounted over the rifle. You can decide on either a bolt action rifle or a semi-automatic rifle, depending upon what you are most comfortable with.

Self Defense Short Range

Short range self-defense rifles do not necessarily need to be very accurate at long ranges. At short range, maneuverability and ammo capacity are much more critical. Rifles such as AR-15, AK-47, and mini-14 are good for short-range self-defense since they are easy to handle and carry enough rounds in a single magazine to hold off multiple threats at once. In simpler terms, carbine sized rifles are the best for short range self-defense.

Man hunting in woods with bolt action

Types of Rifles Perfect for Survival

Rifles are manufactured in a range of types and sizes. Each category has its own importance in specific situations. For example, shotguns are less than ideal for long range shooting but excel in close quarter combat, while bolt action rifles are subpar for close quarter combat but outclass other options at long range. Let’s discuss and identify the usefulness of different types of rifles in different situations.

Bolt Action Rifles

Bolt action rifles are preferred for long range shooting because they are extremely accurate at long distances, due to their length, cycling mechanism, and caliber. However, bolt action rifles are not very good for close quarter shooting, especially in survival situations and especially compared to the latest generation of fully automatic and semi-automatic firearms. Needing to retract the bolt and aim every time you shoot your weapon puts you at a serious disadvantage when a hostile is pouncing towards you. Furthermore, bolt action rifles are generally long and bulky and are known to have a small ammo capacity. They generally use clips of 5 rounds, and reloading them can be a pain, even if you use stripper clips, which are quite prone to jamming.

Bolt action rifles are ideal for sniping. If you use the right ammunition and have the right shooting skills, you can shoot a golf ball a mile away with dead-on accuracy. Bolt action rifles like the Kar98 and Lee Enfield saw a great deal of close quarter combat during WWII, but they were generally more effective with a bayonet.

Assault Rifle

An assault rifle is by far the best weapon for defense and survival, simply because it combines the power of range, maneuverability, accuracy, capacity, size, and stopping power into one package. Assault rifles are used by military and law enforcement all around the globe for tactical operations. So to speak—if a soldier uses it for self-defense, it must be the best kind of weapon for self-defense.

The most commonly used assault rifle for self-defense is the AR-15. If you live outside the United States, the most common assault rifle you’ll encounter is the legendary AK-47. Assault rifles have the right size to be carried with ease while making difficult maneuvers. They have a large ammo capacity (generally 20+ rounds), and they are available in multiple calibers, so you can choose the one you are comfortable with. The right type of assault rifles can be used for both long and short range shooting. For example, the AR-10 is chambered in .308(7.62 NATO).

Lever Action

Lever Action rifles carry a legacy of being the best hunting rifles ever made. They are the predecessors to the modern semi-automatic rifles. Some of the best lever action rifles on the market include the Browning BLR and Henry .45-70. These lever action rifles are extremely accurate within a range of 200 yards and carry stopping power enough to drop a charging bear in its tracks. Lever action rifles have even been used for hunting elephants in the past. The takeaway here is that lever action rifles certainly carry enough punch to knock down a hostile with a single shot.

However, these rifles take longer to reload than other rifles, more similar to the reload time of a shotgun. Plus, you cannot shoot such a weapon freely if you are taking cover in a cramped space or a corner. A lever action rifle can hold 8-9 rounds in the mag tube, and with proper practice, you can learn to shoot all those within 5 seconds or less.


Semi-automatic rifles are available in different sizes and calibers, with some of the most commonly used being the mini-14 series, m1a, and Ruger 10/22. Semi-automatic firing helps with conserving ammo and controlling your shots even under tense survival situations.

These rifles are also easy to maintain and carry; for this reason, people living in rural areas or outskirts of towns generally use such weapons for home defense. A semi-automatic rifle mounted with the right scope can let you take short, mid, and long range shots with ease. These rifles are also more controllable because of their single shot operation and ergonomics.

Pump Action

The term “pump action” directly refers to shotguns. These guns can be compared to bolt action rifles, except for the fact that recharging them takes less time. Shotguns are extremely effective at close quarters, and slug firing shotguns can improve their range to approximately 150 yards. Shotgun ammo is quite inexpensive and available in many variants. Additionally, such guns are very simple to operate. Whether you are facing a deer or a grizzly bear, a shotgun can drop them dead in a single shot.

On the other hand, pump action guns are notorious for having significant recoil. If not handled right, they can be knocked out of your hands simply due to the force of the recoil, potentially injuring you or a bystander. Pump actions guns like the Mossberg 500 are excellent weapons for survival situations at a close range.

How to Choose a Rifle for Survival


Before choosing a rifle for survival situations, there are certain aspects you must consider. A rifle must perform well on all these factors to function as an effective weapon. These include:

rife with scope


A rifle you can use for survival situations must be versatile, meaning that it can be used for multiple purposes at once, such as hunting, competitions, range shooting, and self-defense. Growing accustomed to a versatile rifle ensures that you are familiar with it and used to its recoil and mechanism.


A rifle used for self-defense must have a simple mechanism so that it doesn’t malfunction easily. In the event that it does malfunction, it is critical to be able to get it up and running quickly. It should also be so simple to use that even a novice can use it when necessary. Ideally, rifles should also be easy to clean and maintain.

Size and Weight

A good survival rifle must be compact in size so you can perform tough maneuvers with it. Lighter rifles have the added benefit of being able to be carried without swiftly causing fatigue. Rifles with more takedown power have more weight, so the decision of what weapon you carry depends on your level of comfort.


When choosing a rifle, be sure that the ammunition and parts you need are easily available on the market so that you never fall short of ammo. Such a rifle must be upgradeable and have multiple aftermarket accessories available for it so you can make any necessary modifications to the weapon platform.

Must-Have Rifle Accessories for Preppers/Survivalists

Quick Adjust Rifle Sling

A survival rifle is almost incomplete without a good sling. A QA rifle sling lets you carry the rifle as close or as loose as you desire under different situations. Some slings also have a paracord attached in them, which can be used for emergency situations.

Optics and Lasers

A good rifle optic is something you must have. It can either be a red dot sight, a reflex sight, or a good rifle scope pertaining to your comfort and requirements. A good scope not only improves the effective shooting range of your rifle, but it also allows you to shoot more accurately and with quicker reaction time. You can also mount a laser on the rifle for better functionality.

Quick Magazine Loader

Loading a rifle magazine can be a pain, especially when you are using multiple 30 rounds magazines. There are many quick magazine loaders on the market that can do the job within minutes without fatiguing your fingers.

Spare Parts and Cleaning Kit

You must always carry spare parts and cleaning kit for your rifle in case it gets damaged or malfunctions. Having the right tools at hand allows you to service your rifle under any situation. Beyond that, it is also generally a good choice to carry spare ammunition with you.


Rifles are very effective weapons for survival situations. Rifles are versatile, battle-tested, have good accuracy, range, capacity, stopping power, and ergonomics. Ideal rifles for survival situations must be adaptable, easily available, compact, and simple to use. Additionally, some accessories such as optics, mag loaders, slings, and parts kit are some must-have accessories for preppers who plan on using rifles for survival situations.



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