Rugged, reliable, lightweight .22LR survival rifle


October 13, 2009, 06:58 PM
Putting aside the bear discussion ( for a moment and accepting the premise for argument's sake, what rugged, reliable, lightweight .22LR rifle would you carry if your life might depend on it working reliably, every time, far from any chance of repair?

Much as I like my Marlin Papoose (the old wood-and-blued-steel model) I wonder if a break-action, falling block or bolt-action single shot might be the most reliable option...less to go wrong.

Then again, a blowback semi-auto is pretty reliable and even if the clip is lost or broken, most repeaters regardless of action work fine as single-shots. There is also an argument to be made that a magazine of some kind allows follow up shots and avoids fumbling for rounds when out and about, perhaps with cold hands.

So, you've got to survive on your wits and what you can hunt with a .22 rifle. Which one do you take?

PS--If you want to debate "to .22 or not to .22" then please see the linked thread above and save this one for the pros and cons of various .22 choices. Thanks!

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October 13, 2009, 07:57 PM
Well exactly what kind of survival are we talking about? If you mean having to defend yourself, then probably something that's not an autoloader since reliably is absolutely key. But a .22 isn't great for that anyways, so I assume you mean hunting for food. In that case, an autoloader should work fine as you have to work the first round into the chamber anyways just like a bolt or pump gun, so there's no difference there. If it malfunctions it's not a huge issue since it's not like that little rabbit or whatever you'd hunt with a .22 is gonna charge you. And it takes no more time to cycle the bolt on an auto than it does to work the bolt on a bolt action. And if it does function fine, you have quick follow up shots if you missed with the first(that's assuming your game didn't bolt after the first bang). Accuracy doesn't have to be match grade, just minute-of-rabbit inside 50 yards, which any decent .22 should do.

Basically, I think any good auto .22 rifle would work. It may get a lot of knocks for being a "jam-o-matic", but the Henry AR7 Survival Rifle fits the bill. My Dad has one, and after the first 2 magazines where it had a total of 3 stovepipes it has functioned flawlessly with CCI High Velocity ball. I'd trust it as a pack gun that can put food over you fire without qualms. It's portability and water-tight storage just make it even better.

Heck, if you're a good shot, even a .22 pistol like a Ruger MKII or MKIII, Browning Buck Mark, or Walther P22 would work. My Sister has one of the Walther's with the extended barrel and it's amazingly accurate. First time I shot the thing I just aimed at a BL bottle at about 25 yards away, one handed, and squeezed the trigger, more as a test to see how it shot than an attempt to hit the bottle. I was surprised when I centered the bottle first shot. It also ran flawlessly through several hundred rounds that day.

I'd be confident with either of these, but in the end I think the rifle would be more effective. Since you already have something that works, stick with it.

October 13, 2009, 08:05 PM
T/C with a 22lr barrel.

October 13, 2009, 08:13 PM
I know you asked about a rifle but S&W 617 revolver with a 6 inch barrel and 10 shot cylinder might be more handy than a rifle offering both single and auto, no magazine to loose, accurate to 50 yards (wouldn't hunt past 50 with a 22 rifle anyway)

October 13, 2009, 08:30 PM
Stainless 10-22 would be my 1st choice. With a simple blow back action there is not much to go wrong if you use good ammo. A stainless 77-22 would be my 2nd choice, but only because of the much higher price.

In reality there are many good choices, but those 2 have proven dependable to me.

Brian Williams
October 13, 2009, 08:34 PM
Marlin 39M relatively lightweight and very accurate.

October 13, 2009, 08:35 PM
just dont take something old with a heavily worn firing pin,a 77/22 would be aweosme for that.

October 13, 2009, 09:46 PM

October 13, 2009, 09:55 PM
Marlin 981T... Tube Feed, Long, Long Rifle, Short

October 13, 2009, 10:12 PM
If scoped, adding to the Marlin club; a heavy barrel 7000.

October 13, 2009, 10:14 PM
your Marlin Papoose is a good choice, except I would go for the plastic and stainless model.

October 13, 2009, 10:17 PM
Remington model 550-1. Tube fed, eats shorts or LR, utterly reliable. Although I would at least consider a lever action tube fed--maybe a Marlin or Henry. I couldn't stomach a clip fed if I was 'taking to the woods' without my repair tools for any period of time.

October 13, 2009, 10:38 PM
I would probably go with an Anschutz single shot of some kind. From a hunting point of view it will give you the first shot as accurate as you can shoot and the build quality is top of the line. If this is going to be a rifle that is the difference between me eating or not for an extended time I want something built to the best standards. If budget is a concern I would probably go with something a little older. The quality on the older rimfires seem to be a bit better than most of todays rifles that are built to a price point.

October 14, 2009, 12:51 AM
Dang, I'm suprised noone has mentioned the AR-7

October 14, 2009, 12:54 AM
the ar7s all though called "survival rifle" arent very good guns.

October 14, 2009, 08:20 AM
When I think of rugged I think bolt action or single shot. Alot less to go wrong and can go much longer without any cleaning or maintenance.

October 14, 2009, 11:23 AM
I just found a $40 bolt gun and sawed off the extra wood.

October 14, 2009, 12:18 PM

Is (was) that a Mossberg M44?

October 14, 2009, 12:21 PM
Dang, I'm suprised noone has mentioned the AR-7

It was mentioned in the second post.:banghead:

I would take my 981T. You can remove the buttplate on the synthetic stocked marlins, remove the spacer block and have a storage compartment for extra ammo, a knife and firestarter. You could also include a small fishing kit.

The buttplate is a very tight fit and takes some work to remove the first time. I sanded around the edges of mine and made it easier to remove. The Papoose with the plastic stock packed with goodies and a spare mag would be a good choice. I like the 981T for the ability to feed all 22 loads. A few CB loads are good for small game. If you can't make a head shot they don't explode a small animal with a body shot.

I like to think of these type of guns as more of and emergency gun than a survival gun. I don't know how long you could live out of whats in the buttstock of your gun.

I have managed to get my truck stuck in the woods 4 different times. I thought I was going to spend a night or two on two of those trips. An emergency gun would have been nice to have at those times.

October 14, 2009, 12:39 PM
The Marlin Model 60 is one of the best.

October 14, 2009, 12:54 PM
10/22 would be an easy choice to me. I got my first one around 1970 and still have it. I can't say it has never misfired in that time but I will say it has been well shot (10's of thousands I would guess) and still works very well. I once fell in a creek while on my trapline and got the action full of fine sand, I need the gun for the rest of the day so I unloaded and suspended the gun in the current and cycled until the grit was ground up and flushed out. That was over 30 yrs ago.
When people ask me for a must have recomendation I tell them a 10/22 with spare mags and 5k in good ammo. No matter where you live having this will get you a good start in a survival situation.

October 14, 2009, 12:57 PM
My thoughts are with Brian. I think a reasonable choice would be something from the Marlin 39A family.

Take-down capability, big magazine capacity, shoots three different classes of 22, fairly insensitive to different ammo manufacturers, and is dead on accurate..... Sounds like there might be an answer there.

October 14, 2009, 02:30 PM
Just a reminder that while CB caps and the like will not cycle a semi-auto properly, there's nothing to stop you from loading them and cyclying the bold manually, biathalon style.

October 14, 2009, 02:58 PM
the most reliable rugged lighweight 22 survival rifle is a browning buckmark, or a ruger stainless 22/45 or a beretta neos. all easy to break down, all easy to carry all easy reliable. although the 22/45 or any ruger will be a pain to get back together, and get them with at least 6 inch bbls. Also the smith 22a, and also the new walther composites are pretty impressive. all are short, light, long site referenced, but out of these the best would be the smith, and the berretta, since they require no tools for take down, or put together. the most rugged is the ruger, but if you don't put it back together right, just right, you are screwed.
And yes, I included no rifle in this list; these are better, lighter, more rugged, easier to carry. And for ammo speed purposes, their just isn't a big enough diff, between a 6 or 10 inch bbl, and a 16 inch bbl of a rifle, for a 22 round speed, to make enough of a diff to matter.

October 14, 2009, 03:31 PM
I like my Savage MkII synthetic. Light and accurate. If I lose the magazine I can always run it single shot.

I have a Marlin 25 that would work well too, but I prefer a synthetic stock for survival.

My Marlin 60 is starting to malfunction now, once I get that figured out it would also be a good choice.

Al Diehl
October 14, 2009, 04:06 PM
I have 2 different ones in my RUCK as we speak. A Springfield M6 Scout and a Henry AR-7.
Why????? Because they fit and don't weigh much. If I had to leave one behind it would probably be the AR-7. The M-6 is just more versatile. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

October 14, 2009, 04:11 PM
stone simple reliable

October 14, 2009, 06:48 PM
Trolling around after my own initial post, I have come across the Henry Repeating Arms bolt-action, single-shot .22LR rifles. While I have never owned one, the synthetic and stainless Accu-Bolt with a mounted scope and Williams Firesights seems like it would be an excellent choice at only 4.25 lbs.

In fact, for the use we have been discussing I could even see the little 30.25 inch long Mini Bolt youth rifle, also with standard Williams Firesights, as a great option at only 3.25 lbs.

October 14, 2009, 07:57 PM
Back in January I had to decide, I have always been partial to lever rifles, mostly because I'm seriously left handed and when I was a kid they where the closest thing to a left handed rifle available. As drawn as I was to the Henry Golden Boy .22 I decided that if I was in the situation where I needed to survive that the ability to fire off a second, third or even fourth shot with out pulling the sights/scope off the target the semi-automatic would be what I wanted for the job. So I went with the Ruger All Weather 10/22 then dropped a full Volquartsen Trigger Assembly into it.

October 14, 2009, 10:40 PM
+1 Any Marlin Bolt Action..........

October 14, 2009, 11:11 PM
lemme restate;
no tools to break it down, carries in a pocket.
again , no tools
no tools, but you better put it back together right!
not sure on tools.

Red Tornado
October 15, 2009, 02:01 AM
For a forever type deal, a single shot would probably be best, I'd go bolt over break open.

However, if you want an automatic, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Nylon 66. Very lightweight and doesn't need lubricant...ever. Parts could start to rust, but it will keep right on shooting. Tube magazine, and excellent for loading single shots as well. It's not a target rifle, but it's minute of squirrel. The stock is next to indestructible. It's a great choice for survival.

October 15, 2009, 03:54 AM
I would go with a cz scout. Very accurate and a repeater. The scaled down stock would work alright for a survival situation.

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