What is a Survival/Foraging Rifle?

The survival or foraging rifle is a weapon that is used to provide food. This could be for
backpacking, camping trips, hunting trips, or in an emergency situation.

The things to look for in a survival rifle are:

  • good hunting accuracy

  • good trigger pull to take advantage of accuracy

  • light weight

  • sturdy and reliable

  • sling for ease of carrying

  • backup iron sights if a scope is used

  • collapsible if needing attachment to a pack frame

Do you recommend the .17 rimfires for a survival rifle?


No, for several reasons.  The .17 rimfires are extremely expensive when compared to the .22 LR. 
They are also more difficult to find on the fringes of society.  Extreme meat destruction can also be a problem.  The last reason is that the rifles to shoot these cartridges are more expensive than a quality .22 rimfire.


Does the survival rifle have any other uses?

Of course. Some of them are:

  • provide food during a backpacking trip - trust me, those dehydrated meals aren't that great

  • predator control - something want to eat your chickens at the homestead?

  • snakes

  • defense - no, it is not an ideal round for defense but it does beat no weapon at all

Does weight matter on a survival rifle?

Yes.  You can travel faster and farther the lighter you travel.

What about a match chambered barrel?

No, extreme accuracy is not as important as reliable functioning in a survival rifle.  Extraction is not reliable in a match chambered barrel.  This is especially true for a semi-auto like the Ruger 10/22


Why not use a large caliber such as the 30/06?

A large caliber such as the 30/06 is a great choice for a hunting rifle, not a survival rifle.

To borrow a military term, a survival rifle is used to shoot "targets of opportunity".   In the wild you could go for days without seeing any bid game that is in range, but a day will not go by when there is not a chance to bag some small game.   It may not be something that you want to eat but it is protein.   Small game is not only more numerous, but it is usually easier to approach. Weight is also a factor.  30/06 guns and ammo are both a lot heavier.

When you go home empty handed on a hunting trip it is no big deal but in a survival situation it could mean starving to death.

Do you recommend a red dot or electronic sight?

This is an emphatic NO!!!

The reasons are:

  • the batteries could die when you need them the most
  • you have to turn the sight on each time you want to use it - one more step and more movement while game is getting away
  • if you leave sight turned on please refer to first reason above
  • Accuracy - most red dots are 3MOA which is larger than a squirrel's head - sights should enhance accuracy not diminish it.

The only exception to this would be the ND-3 laser night vision system.  They are light, relatively inexpensive compared to starlight scopes,
and if they break you still have the iron sights and the scope to sight with.

Do Scopes have a place on a Survival Rifle?

Yes and no.  Most places a scope will be unnecessary.  The distances are too short for the added weight of a scope.  That being said, for those long shots at a small target that are sometimes needed, a scope can be a blessing.  For those of us whose eyesight is not what it used to be the scope is almost a necessity.  There are 3 things to look for in a scope:

  • small size
  • light weight
  • must have backup iron sights

We recommend a fixed 4 power nitrogen filled scope.

Can I use a .22 handgun instead of a rifle for a foraging firearm?

Of course - IF you can shoot it accurately.  Those of us who hunt with handguns could very easily use a handgun for this purpose.  Staying in practice is essential.  If you shoot once a year whether you need to or not stay with the rifle.  There are several that we recommend:

  • S&W M317 Kit Gun
  • Beretta NEOS
  • Ruger Single Six -  can be purchased with an extra cylinder for .22 magnum
  • Charter Arms Pathfinder
  • Any of the Ruger .22 autos from the Mark I up
  • Taurus 94

A handgun is lighter and easier to carry than a rifle and can leave your hands free for doing other things.

How big should my Survival Kit be?

Probably a lot smaller than you think.  The lighter the pack, the easier, faster and longer you can travel.  People have a tendency to pack too many items and end up with a pack that is too heavy to carry.  Think about what are the essential in you kit.  Can any of the items do double duty?  A person with knowledge can survive on little.  The clueless person will have trouble making it with a large kit.

What are the basic essentials needed in a survival kit?

  • a way to purify water
  • a way to start a fire - 2 ways is better
  • knife
  • .22 survival rifle
  • knowledge to construct a shelter with available material - maybe some 550 cord for lashing

I do not go far from civilisation.  Why would I need a Survival Kit?

Most people do not think about what would happen if an emergency happened while they are at work or away for the weekend.  As I am writing this the nuclear disaster in Japan is about a month old.  What would you do if you had to leave with just the clothes on your back and make it for several weeks until the government was able to bring help (think Katrina). 

Some people travel 60 miles or more to work.  How would you get home if roads were blocked or washed out and you had to travel on foot.  Your Survival Kit could serve as a get home bag.

Why do you recommend a backpack for a Bug-Out-Bag?

You will see a lot of survival kits, bug-out-bags, etc.  that are essentialy a gym bag with extra pockets.  These are fine as long as you are in a vehicle.  What happens when you have to abandon your vehicle and travel on foot?  This could happen due to closes roads, roads blocked with displaced people (commonly termed refugees),  vehicle breakdown or a number of other scenarios.  Carrying a big, heavy bag by the handles is tiring and inconvenient.  Make sure that you can put that bag on your back and leave your hands free.