Part 3: The Best Survival Carbine (AR Style Rifle)

Part 3: (Direct Gas Impingement (DI/DGI) vs. Gas Piston Operated)  Some of the problems that plague the classic AR style rifle platform have to do with reliability, especially in sandy and dusty environments, as evidenced in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

This article is Part 3 in a series of posts.
Read Part 1: (A Little Background)
Read Part 2: (History)

There’s nothing worse than having a survival tool fail on you when you need it most and the two loudest sounds in the world are:  a “click” when you expect to hear a “bang”, and a “bang” when you expect to hear a “click”.

The military and the gun industry have been looking to fix the problems associated with the reliability of the M4 carbine’s direct gas impingement system (DI/DGI) and one of the options that has risen to the top of the stack is the gas piston operated alternative.  This is a very controversial topic and there are many that believe the DI/DGI is still the best option and the gas piston system introduces a whole new set of problems.

US Army M4 Testing
Click to Make Larger

The question remains, what would be the best AR survival rifle choice.  Before we get into brands, let’s look at some of the new AR gas piston rifle systems vs. the classic AR legacy rifle, direct impingement systems.  One of the first factors to consider is the compatibility of parts between different AR systems.

It’s important to consider the high likelihood that if you use your rifle system, at some point something may break and need to be replaced.  The fact that the new gas piston systems do not enjoy total parts compatibility between brands and that there are currently fewer on the market compared to the legacy DI systems, may outweigh many of the performance considerations when choosing your primary survival rifle.

For a look at a mechanical and performance demonstrations of each type of system, please look at the following illustration of mechanics provided by the Army Times.

HK 416 (Gas Piston) vs. Colt M4 Carbine (Direct Impingement)HK416-vs-M4-Testing-Survival-Carbine-Bug-Out-Rifle
There are a couple of great reference handbooks on each of the systems written by Mike Pannone as well and are worth checking out.
HK-416 Handbook
M16/M4 Handbook

Let’s look at the differences (Pros and Cons) between a direct gas impingement operated and the gas piston operated rifle.

Gas Piston


1. Run cleaner

2. Run cooler  (can contribute to longer life and less breakage due to heat and wear)

3. Run (arguably) more reliably than DI/DGI systems especially when chambered with 5.56 mm NATO in SBR (Short Barrel Receivers) and running cans (suppressor/silencer).

4. Typically need less lubrication to run reliably which means they don’t pick up as much grit and run cleaner especially in dirty and dusty environments (see #1).

5. Can reportedly run a wider range of ammunition with less finicky results than a DI/DGI system.

6. Usually, everything not directly related to the proprietary piston system is MIL-SPEC and interchangeable with its DI/DGI brethren.  Brand specific on whether this is standard but most of the top manufacturers seem to have this quality in common.


1. Possible Carrier Tilt Wear – The piston places torque on the gas key causing the back of the LWRC-Survival-Rifle-Bug-Out-Riflecarrier to tilt down causing scrapes along the buffer tube and shearing gas keys. The original AR platform was designed as a free floating bolt carrier. Some companies have addressed this (i.e. LWRC) by installing carrier guide rails and going to solid one piece carriers and/or upgrading the buffer (i.e. PWS enhanced buffer tube) as well as some other proprietary fixes.

2. Usually heavier than DI/DGI systems (for example HK reportedly had to thicken their barrel in the HK-416 to counteract barrel flex caused by the forces exerted by the offset, reciprocating gas piston and operating rod. This system was already much heavier than its DI/DGI competitors)

3. Many parts are proprietary and unable to be changed out easily at the user level (i.e. the rifle has to be sent back in to the company to undergo barrel changes or repair/replacement on proprietary parts)

Direct Gas Impingement (DI/DGI)


1. Typically lighter

2. Some claim they are more accurate (other arguments are that the barrel is the deciding factor in accuracy not the DI/DGI vs. Piston system).

3. Enjoy more interchangeability with currently fielded military equivalents (especially when dealing with MIL-SPEC AR systems) this means replacement parts are more readily available and if you buy a certain brand of AR, even if the particular company goes out of business, you can turn around and acquire compatible parts from any number of other companies.

4. Easy and quick shooter level maintenance and parts upgrades/changes, which means you usually don’t have to send your rifle back in to the shop.  In a TEOTWAWKI or a long term survival situation… you aren’t going to be sending anything to the shop… you have what you have or what you can find along the way and that’s it.  If it stops working and you can’t fix it… it’s dead weight, especially if you are on the move.

5.  Easy to build your own franken-rifle/M4-gery from the ground up using the wide variety and compatibility of AR parts available on the market from numerous manufacturers.


1. Usually runs very dirty due to its gases being blown back into the chamber which is what makes the rifle cycle.  This system is often described as one that Sh*ts on itself.

2. Reliability when running SBR’s/Short Barrel Receiver (especially barrels shorter than 12.5”), suppressors or in very dusty sandy conditions (i.e. during a sandstorm reliability test the M4 was prone to jamming 3.5x more than the 3rd place finisher. ref link: here).

3. Require more maintenance and cleaning.

Click to Make Larger

These are all important considerations to take in before buying or upgrading your Survival Carbine.  There are a lot of gun manufacturers out there and most of them make a pretty good product but as you well know, sometimes you get what you pay for.  It is worth noting that the AK-47 is a gas piston driven system and no one has ever questioned the reliability of that weapon system.

Continue Reading Part 4: Build Options

In the next installment we’ll look at some of the survival carbine (AR style rifle) choices from some currently available brands, both in DI/DGI and gas piston systems.

Photo Credits:,,,,,



Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

64 thoughts on “Part 3: The Best Survival Carbine (AR Style Rifle)”

  1. Although an M4/M16 system is more likely to jam, most of those jams can be avoided as long as you take care of it as needed. I am active duty Army, and many of you vets can back me up here, weapon maintenance is key to an M16. Just food for thought. As long as you are trained in how to clean it, reliability isn't a huge problem on an M16.

  2. Although an M4/M16 system is more likely to jam, most of those jams can be avoided as long as you take care of it as needed. I am active duty Army, and many of you vets can back me up here, weapon maintenance is key to an M16. Just food for thought. As long as you are trained in how to clean it, reliability isn't a huge problem on an M16.

    • I concur re. maintenance. It's like folks who use stainless steel knives because they don't want to take care of carbon steel. My sense is the folks who are able to maintain a tool (rifle, knife, oil lamp) are not going to bat an eye about the occasional carb-cleaner bath in the chamber of a standard M4. I hit 30 years in uniform next month and I would not think of not carrying a little bottle of LSA or baby can of WD40, with ANY weapon. To each his own, but the folks who have been there/done that are probably going to come down on the side of whatever they are most comfortable with. And I like the fact that if we meet some rainy night under a poncho I can swap parts with you. Very cool

    • This is very true, however I did have one M-16A2 that was just prone to jam on me at the most inopportune times, lucky it was only at the range. I was swapped out with another one and never had a jamming problem again. I own a R-15 and it is by far my most reliable and all around best assault rifle I own, I don't shoot my SKS anymore, plus it jams all the time and ruins my shells for reloading.

  3. I agree maintenance, cleaning, descent ammo go a long way, not to mention always have a back up. Besides, 800 out of 60,000 is less than 2% not bad.

  4. But what happens when you dont have time to clean it your on the move and cant spare the time. I know many would say that you make time but i find that hard to justify if my family and i are being chased by looters or some suck to say "we need to stop i got to clean my AR again".

  5. I have to agree with Michael about the utility of bikes. First off while you are sitting in Bugging out traffic my bike will be breezing by nicely in between the cars. Also a number of trailers will carry pretty easily more than 50 pounds of stuff. The local bike co-op where i live a a number built especially for things like firewood which work great.

    You also have to think about. How am I going to keep this running? Sure the gas issue is easily prey, but what about more serious issues. If your vehicle breaks down are you going to have all the tools and parts you need to keep it running? Do you really know how to fix everything on your vehicle with the tools at hand? I can keep all the tools and most prone to failure spare parts for a bike in a fanny pack. Not to mention it is easy to find bikes just laying around or in abandoned garages giving me a huge pool of spare parts to choose from that are easily salvaged. I can hide it with almost no effort and how many other items have people suggested are able to be carried by hand easily over an obstacle? and once i get to my bug in locale i can prop it up on a pedal-power generator and charge all my electrical equipment without need of anything more than a power bar and some h2o.

  6. Hi guys! New here and was just wondering – when it comes to us foreigners, not necessarily living in a very gun-friendly country, what kind of defense-plan would you suggest? (…that is; not involving firearms)

    I suppose a blade would be the most obvious answer, but I'm just checking to see if anyone's got any ideas!


    • That is a good question and also points out something a great deal of Americans are guilty of; a lot of us rely on firearms too much. Be assured that when the SHTF in the US we will see a lot more guns used in crime and therefore must use our guns to defeat a threat. In Sweden one will not encounter firearms as much as the US but to have an advantage you may want to look at tomahawks or the Cold Steel Spetznas shovel. Knives are great but an ax, tomahawk or shorthandled shovel has destructive power beyond that of a knife in some cases. Also you may want to take up martial arts or self defense and keep your body in good shape. Good luck over there and God bless

  7. Yeah, I figured. However I couldn't find any article on the subject, so I thought I'd just post the question in the comment field.

    The law is pretty much the same here, and if I remember correctly, there are laws related to knifes as well. The simple act of carrying a knife, when not in a workplace requiring one, is a crime! Although I'm not sure what the law says about bigger blades (blades obviously not made for cutting boxes, if you see what I mean) – but if I know the Swedish nanny-government well enough, it is probably illegal as well.

    Thanks for the tip, I'll look it up! 🙂

    Anyone else?

    • I really like that some attention has been paid to food prep, it is so often overlooked or simply MRE centered. My problem however is that this list overlooks some very basic rules when it comes to spices and dried herbs.
      1. Powdered spices go bad way quicker that whole spices (for example, cumin seed lasts longer that cumin powder)

      2. Commercially packed rubs and seasonings (ie ms dash, cajun spice ect) are mostly salt. While salt is important, too much can require greater water consumption.

      3. Chili powder (like Garam Masala, curry powder, and chinese 5 spice) is actually a mixture of ground spices. The thing about chili powder is it is composed of other spices that can be kept in seed form and ground to order or used separately for different flavors. chili powder is only ever going to be chili powder. a small amount of the component spices in seed form gives you far more options and will keep longer.

      4. some spices are left off that are light and go great with food that can often be foraged for in a majority of north america. Tarragon is simply the spice for mushrooms, while rosemary is great on both deer and rabbit.

      5. for the long term scenario a number of spices can be grown easily. Cumin, coriander, mustard seed, and fennel can be grown in a number of climates with little effort and in the case of fennel and coriander (which comes from cilantro) you get both a spice and either a veg or herb.

  8. Another con of the piston system is that it costs more for quality. Still, if I were using an AR for my survival carbine (I'm not-decided a newer Mini-14 fit the bill better for several reasons), I'd go with the piston version.

    Two problems with the AK is that the piston is a) slightly off center and b) heavy. An "AR vs. AK" google will turn up video of this. Also see the Nutnfacny video on gas impingement vs. piston systems, he has some good points.

  9. Ok,some of us are worried about if the big s**t storm should happen. Can anyone tell me,if I can't afford an AR style weapon such as an M4/M16 platform. What about a Ruger mini-14? would it be capable and reliable enough? Plus as for handguns I do like the Springfield XD model in .40 and .45 caliber.

    • Yes it would. People here are focussing on a “mad max” scenario. Think more like post katrina only several months or yrs longer. Currently the min 14 is priced right up there with lower and mid tier ARs, isn’t as accurate and hasn’t the wide spread replacement and after market parts you can find for the AR system. Too many tend to focus on seige and go down fighting mindsets. In a SHTF scenario, you need to either be thinking”get out” or “stay in place”. A mini 14 can do the job of protecting yoy and yours. Anyone fantasizing about holding off crazed hordes with his/her uber dollar gucci AR all ALONE, isnt thinking survival, they have a death wish….

  10. Ok,some of us are worried about if the big s**t storm should happen. Can anyone tell me,if I can't afford an AR style weapon such as an M4/M16 platform. What about a Ruger mini-14? would it be capable and reliable enough? Plus as for handguns I do like the Springfield XD model in .40 and .45 caliber.

    • A survival is just that. Something you use to survive until you can get to your (hopefully stashed) better weapons. It is not for full out firefights but to get you past the obstacles that are between you and them. A lot of people will laugh at my suggestions but a pistol caliber carbine such as the Hi-point 995 or the Kel-Tec sub 2000 in 9mm should do you fine to get you where you need to go. I prefer the Kel-Tec because it will take regular Glock mags. It will even take the 33 round mags. It folds in half and can fit in a briefcase or backpack with no problems. Combine that with Winchester Ranger Talon 9mm ammo and you have a pretty lethal set up to get you to your stash of better weapons. Also the Kel-Tec SU-16 series of rifles while not heavy duty combat weapons only weigh 5 pounds and take standard AR mags.

    • I love the mini14 platform mine is over 20 years old, it's stainless and functions great with wolf ammo.
      My main problem I had with my ranch rifle was using hi cap mags.
      also consider
      SKS, and Keltec su16 series both perform well and are budget minded as well
      don't forget the ruger 10/22 either 22lr is a great multi purpose round.

    • Mini-14 is an excellent weapon. Will be one of my first choices when/if I ever have to bug out. I am also a big fan of the 10/22. I like the weapon but mostly like the amount of ammo I can carry for it. I also have .40 and .45 but in the Taurus Millineum and 1911 models.

  11. An old acquaintance of mine, back in the day when I was heavy into para-survival had a philosophy. He referred to it as a hit-list. He did not stockpile any more than he could physically carry, tactically, on his person. He had a stocked bomb shelter (just in case), and his hit list that went something like this. Mr. Smith down the street is an avid hunter, he has a 30-06, a 12 ga., and 500 rounds. Mrs. Jones is a good Mormon woman, she has her years supply of food; etc. When the time came he planed on just taking what he needed and to hell with everyone else.
    My point is, that he came to me one day and said," I was sitting in my bomb shelter the other day and got to thinking, why am I doing this? If I have to give up my humanity to survive, then what am I surviving for. So that is what I put to you. If you give up your humanity to survive then you are nothing but one of the animals in the jungle. Our humanity and our reason are what set us apart. Strive to keep them pure.

    • 'stay discreet and get to a position where you can build it up'. Just so. The primary purpose of any survival weapon is not and should not be combat. It may be pressed into that role, but any survival weapon that spends more that 30 minutes in a fire fight in its lifetime probably belongs to someone who isn't going to make it. Post TSHTF, firefights are going to be short and vicious (they're all vicious if you're in it). The test of a survival weapon is 1: can it get you through the firefight (not win, just out of it alive) and 2: does it do what is needed at the BOL. I've said in many places, if we come up against trained troops, we lose. Otherwise, we make them get their heads down and GOOD as fast as possible. Then our survival weapon must do its primary job of food cultivation and pest defense.

    • Thank you, Finally someone says something that makes sense. All these idiots complaining about how the M4 is unreliable and ineffective probably doesn't even own one. I own five of them, and they all function flawlessly- Because I actually maintain the bastards like I'm supposed to! Let me set the record straight for all you M4 haters: The problems experienced WAY THE FUCK back during the Vietnam War were due to the first generation AR's lack of chrome-lining in their barrels. The high humidity of the southeast asian jungle caused corrosion of the bore and chamber, resulting in FTF's & FTE's (that's failure to feed and eject for all you hilljacks). Furthermore, when the first M16's were issued to troops in Vietnam, the idiots in charge of the new experiment (Project Agile) told the troops that this new weapon was "so advanced that it doesn't even need to be cleaned". Of course the fuckin' things were going to jam! I don't give a shit what weapon system we're talking about. If you don't clean it (at least once in a blue moon) it's going to malfunction, HELLO!

  12. The only fighters in Afghanistan, both ours and theirs, who get hit by carbine rifle fire are the ones who by chance run into a round. Same as all the other wars in the last few decades.
    If you plan on defending your retreat you might want to hit the bad guys instead of spraying rounds from a light, short noise maker.
    My suggestion is to get a 30 cal hunting style auto loader. 2-3 hits from a short mag is better than spraying the sky with a 30 rounder. Think I'm wrong – them you've never had bullets zinging by your ear- or into the guy next to you.
    This assumes you're shooting from inside a retreat against people approaching. Going against people already inside your dwelling or from a car against an ambush then you're probably screwed already so doesn't much matter.
    With a 30 cal, you might even dissuade the MZB's to back off once they see what a 150 gr hunting bullet does to a human body.

  13. LRM your post about the only people getting hit are the ones running into a round is absolutely retarded. a lot of these posts about the .223's lack of stopping power are from people who have never fired their weapon in anger….ever. i'm a vet of iraq and the m4/ar15 weapon system performed as expected. of course the .223 won't punch through fortified positions…only an idiot would expect it to. we have other ways of dealing with fortified enemies. and what do you guys think you are going to do if TSHTF? go and fight 30 bad guys by yourself? or with your wife and children at your side? be realistic…you should have a good carbine in the event the SHTF….but you should not expect to go and fight a war by yourself. bug out and get your family to safety. be discreet and don't draw attention to yourself. practice with your weapon system regardless if it's a tricked out hk91 clone, or your grandpa's double barrel.

    • Absolutely correct. A big difference between mounting an offensive and defending you and yours. What ever you decide to use as a means of self defense make sure you are familiar with it and practice with it. A baseball bat is better than a broken rifle you don't know how to fix. Frankly a 12 guage with buck shot is probably of more use than a rifle. Not that I'm giving up my M4.

  14. I have the following requirements:

    1. Easy to maintain. In a long term situation…it might be some time before you can aquire cleaning products.

    2. Scope and iron sights. If your in a long term situation and you crunch your scope…nice to have accurate iron sights.

    3. I like .30 cal and above. I want something that will allow me to defend myself and hunt game deer size and up. I want the animal to go down hard. You can kill anything with the right shot. However, I have hunted all my life and have been in many situations where you dont have the right shot. You have an ok shot.

    In short……simple to maintain, iron sights and scoped and functions without contstant maintenance.

  15. I would go with an AR, as you can find a relatively cheap .22 conversion, and thus have the ability to use it for taking small game, and for defense. Just swap the bolt and mag out. Also, in a WSHTF scenario, what do 99% of the military personnel have in their hands? AR style weapons. With the ability to use both mags and parts from military weapons, you expand your base of supply. Just ensure that your barrel is chambered for 5.56 NATO, and you can run .22 LR (with a conversion kit), .223, and military 5.56. Also, parts that can break over time (bolt, extractors, etc) weigh very little, and as such, replacements can be carried for just in case (if you have a water proof pop up tube, this is an excellent way to carry them and your cleaning gear). The system is reliable as long as you know how to use it, and maintain it. And as a former Marine Infantry man, I can attest to its accuracy, and reliability. hitting man sized targets at 500m 9 out of 10 times, running 300 rounds without a single stoppage or mis-feed in one sandy range. The weapon works. And with regards to the AK, it is designed for a totally different method of war fare. The one I own (which may be a cheap one, I know) can barely hit a man sized target at 50m. Even if it is more reliable, I want hits, not rounds down range. If people have to run into your rounds, its you, not the rifle. I was once told by a platoon sergeant of mine, "The M-16 is the most accurate assault rifle in the world. You make it less accurate." However, if you dont know how to employ, maintain, or operate the AR platform, but are a wiz with the M-1 Garand, go with the Garand.

  16. Mike,
    Not knowing how long it takes to make the conversion (how reliable is the 'Cheap' conversion system) or how prone you might be to being unable to "unconvert" back to 5.56 I am leery of those systems. Especially in a SHTF, if your defensive carbine is in .22 mode, you don't have a 5.56 carbine, you have a .22LR carbine. While they might be very useful for practice and plinking, I have trouble with the idea of incapacitating my defense weapon; but if all you have available are .22LR rounds the conversion does make sense and I'd be glad to be able to do it. I agree the 5.56 can be very accurate as is true with any high speed, flat shooting round. The .338 Lapua is supersonic at 1.5 miles and is a very flat shooter; difference between the 5.56 and .338 Lapua round is of course bullet weight. A light round like the 5.56 is more heavily influenced by the environment (wind, rain, foliage etc.) than a heavier round. The AR was designed to be used full auto; that was the entire justification for the platform. The M14 was too difficult to control on full auto so the M16 was created. It handled full auto well (a major part of my boot camp rifle training was singing the praises of the M16 on auto. How many films have you seen of troops taking 'single' shots with an M16? Since I don't see full auto in my survival scenario, why would I want a platform that needs to be at full auto to accomplish its mission – especially since that mission (infantry in the attack) is one I do not intend to be engaged in?
    Your AK problem may not be the rifle but the ammo. While I've don't own a chronograph, from experience I know that much of the ammo from communist bloc countries burn very irregularly. If the ammo is inconsistent the rifle has no chance to be accurate. You might get some of the domestic (Winchester makes it I think) and see if that helps the shot groups.

  17. this is just one mans veiw, but 5.56… good luck with big game hunting, and if i have something, if your looking for personal defense for human contact, if you cant get the job done with a reliable side arm, dont get into that situation… you can get a mosin nagat 91/30 for less the $200, the ammo is cheap and plenteful and it puts lead on target out to 800 reliable… just sayin…

  18. About the 'necessity' of a piston system, I don't know if URLs post here, but this tech note from Armalite's site makes my point rather better than I can describe here:
    Basically, the AR mechanism, incorrectly referred to as a 'direct impingement' system, can be more correctly referred to as an 'internal piston' system (why do you think it has 'gas rings', more commonly called 'piston rings'?), whereas the AK series, the M1/M14/M1A types, and the FAL, etc. are 'external piston' systems. When adding an external piston to a rifle designed for internal piston operation you drastically change the force vectors in the rifle. This can lead to premature upper receiver failure for a rifle that sees more than 20,000 rounds – tests by the Army on retrofit piston systems have shown stress cracks develop at the junction between the barrel and receiver. That being said, you may never see 20,000+ rounds or stress cracks, but I don't like modifying Stoner's original design just so I have to clean it less. Stoner was an accredited engineer, some say genius, and looked what happened to our soldiers in Vietnam when McNamara's 'Whiz Kids' tried to modify his design: removing chrome lining, 30 round magazines that were very poorly designed, and switching to dirtier ball powder are but a few things that got more than one man killed. Plus take into consideration the following articles about the 'need' to clean a 'DI/DGI' system:
    Makes you think twice about gun shop BS from the salesman steering you to buy that $4000 hunk of plastic from Germany (or even Bushy/Magpul).

  19. Let's remember one thing here; if the theoretical SHTF ever does happen (devil's advocate), we aren't going to be using our rifles in Iraq. We'll be using them here. Whether there is any truth to the AR system not being reliable in a sandy environment is irrelevant because that's not where we live, and it's beyond unlikely that any of us will ever find ourselves and our personal ARs transported to the Middle East.

  20. The Best Survival Carbine (AR Style Rifle), so after reading all the material and reading everyones View I will post mine.Lets keep it simple,the best is what you are familiar with.I have a 22mag bolt that I have owned from the age of 14,Im 58. Ar style is the easyest to learn and break down and build.Common round.can be switched to 22lr,upper to a .308 when needed.Mass prduction of this unit ensures a knowledge and easy fit to most budgets,Del-ton kits from $500.00,need lower(purchase local..$95.00) to a _ AR-10A4 RIFLE 7.62 AramLite..$1600.00..depends on your budget…So again easy to use and easy to learn to take apart and rebuild,Lets keep it Simple..:}New systems of how gas is despered is like talking about the difference in a 20 oz hammer and a 16 oz hammer.Its how you HOLD the Hammer that matters and how you swing it.. have a good Day .Matt

    • I have 3 del-ton rifles. every bit as dependable as my service rifles were. Those saying an AR is a months wage? Not if you build your own, or unless you make a really sh!tty wage. Get a stripped lower receiver at a licensed dealer, then order the del-ton rifle kit of your choosing, for right around $500 delivered to your door. By the time you've cleaned all the cosmoline off of it (EVERY piece) and put the whole thing together, you'll know your rifle inside and out. A couple youtube videos for a head-start on how to begin and you'll have a rifle ready in your hands a couple of hours after it arrives by fed ex, for less than $600. Also, I have a springfield XD .40 sub-compact. I love it. It bucks a little more than I like, but it's very concealable with the shorter magazine (10 rounds). The longer mag give you a couple more shots, but is harder to conceal. VERY dependable. NEVER jams/misfeeds.

  21. Cman,
    I own a couple – one pump and one single shot. In my youth I took my share of fowl and rabbit with a single shot .410. OOO buck is also a very effective round in a .410. For us guys, stateside, the Taurus Judge and Circuit Judge is a long gun and a short gun that will shoot either .410 or .45 Colt. Not bad a at reasonable price.

  22. if we are talking about only having one rifle.. just one to… defend myself and my family in a complete meltdown of western society there is one that is time tested tried and true. AK 47- pros: 1) affordable. 2) reliable. 3) cheap widely available ammo. 4) heavy hitting .30 cal. 4) its a true mud gun( they are very tolerant of neglect). 5) there are tons of them on the planet (parts are a non-issue) 6) it makes an excellent club when ammo runs dry (very durable)… cons: not super accurate ( but accurate enough for DEFENSIVE engagements within 300 yds) as stated above i do not plan on taking on 30 bad guys alone.. or initiating a long range OFFENSIVE engagement… only trying to stay alive in hopes that peace is restored to my region swiftly for the sake of my family. if you are very concerned about the AK 47's limitations in long range accuracy… make trusted friends with an individual that owns a .308/.30-06 bolt action rifle. my $0.02.

    • Well said! An AK47 as a defensive firearm for the reasons Swampthing gave has history to back it up. Have a 308/30-06 bolt action on the side for another option when longer ranges are necessary (which they rarely are).

  23. A Mini 14 or a Mini 30 will work flawlessly if maintained properly. I would go for the Mini 30 because if you don't go full auto you are hitting harder with a larger round. I have owned an XD in .40 and currently own an XDM 45 in full size configuration. I liked them both and never had a problem but recently picked up a FNP 45 that I like better. The FNP is ambadextrous, has a larger capacity magazine and is hammer fired as opposed to striker fired in the XD. This is just my personal prefrence but check them both out, either way I don't think you will be disappointed

  24. Glock2291 is correct an AR15/ M16/ M4 platform works in all conditions as long as its operator maintains it. Maintenance is the most importan factor though in the reliability of any weapon or other equipment.

  25. Said like a true Marine Matt. I too have a Mossberg with dual pistol grips, a Ruger .45 auto for me and and Beretta 9mm for my wife. A mini-30 for laying down suppression and completely worked over Remington .300WM for "seeing them first" completes the necessary equipment. While nice equipment is beneficial, it's the operator that makes the whatever is available effective. A great golfer can hit the ball straight with a cheap driver just as well as a $500 club. Give me a $500 club and I can hit the ball even deeper into trees.

  26. A couple things I have noticed about this article is one and the biggest factor for a lot of people is the price difference between the two rifles. I can scrap together 600 dollars to buy a rifle but getting together over 3000 for a rifle is not something I could do. Besides the price being a huge issue, why not just buy the AR piston conversion kit for 350. Where I live I can pick up a AR for right around 600, prices vary in different location I know but even still I can put together a piston AR-15 for under 1000 dollars. The H&K is a nice rifle but I would not spend that kind of money on a throw away rifle if SHTF, take that extra 2000 dollars and buy some gold. Its not who has the best looking rifle who wins, its who's going to survive.

    Another point also is with the conversion kit, if something was to happen you can switch it back, and use parts and pieces found. You wont be able to do that with the H&K.

  27. I have owned 3 different M-4 variants. All of them unreliable. The number one quality to look for in a survival rifle is RELIABILITY. The AR variants have great triggers, good sights, and good balance. That being said. I will take an AK over the AR any day of the week because they are RELIABLE. The fact is that in a survival situation you may not be able to regularly maintain your weapon. The AK will run reliably in almost any situation with even little maintenance. As far as accuracy goes, the AK does fine against man sized targets at combat distances. No, it is not that great in full auto. I am not a fan of full auto anyway. If you have a wave of attackers coming at you, pinpoint accuracy will be a moot point. The AR / M-16 system was FORCED on our GI's. And it has cost many lives due to its inherent problems. I personally know people who, in spite of repeated failures to feed, eject and fire ( they doggedly stick with their AR) just because it looks cool and just because it is what the troops use. One individual is ex military and owns 3 of them and has problems with all of them. If you have a weapon that is not reliable at the range, what will happen in the field if you run into a minimal maintenance situation? I like my skin. It covers my body. In my opinion, the pros of the AR/M-16 do not outweigh the cons. After owning 3 of them and using them heavily. I refuse to gamble my life on a weapon system that needs so much maintenance to make it "reliable". Nuff Said

    • I also like to add, if your going to get a weapon for SHTF or Zombie day then make sure its the best quality gun available and don't cut corners or cheap parts. Way to many people I have know try to get the cheapest they can and think that will save their ass when it all goes south.

  28. I want to say for the "economy" bugout battery

    rifle:SKS 300 bucks
    pistol: hipoint 9mm 100-150 bucks ( they do work and do what they are supposed to do.)
    ammo: 7.62×39 50.00 for 100 rounds or cheaper
    ammo 9mm 50.00 for 200 rounds or cheaper depending
    out of pocket roughly 500-600 bucks (throw in the stripper clips for sk,extra mag for 9mm)
    this cost could be cheaper if you buy used I have seen sks and hi point 9mm as low as 200 and 100 respectively.
    get yourself a ruger 10/22 with good extended mags for 200 bucks
    and a decent 22lr pistol 100-200
    and a ton of ammo (spend a 100 bucks)
    then spend the rest on some decent gear
    My point on this is to keep you and yours alive and to get out of harms way not be a "action hero" that will get you and yours killed. in shtf 22lr is just a deadly as any other round maybe more so due to the "blender"effect they have.
    and all the guns in the world won't help you if you don't practice,practice,practice.
    don't let gun snobs make you feel like you have to bust your bank there are alot of good quality survival arms out there.
    then spend

    • You want cheap when your life is at stake and SHTF. More power to you, good luck. I hear Walmart flashlight are on sale for 3 dollars this week.

      For me I have minimum weapons but high quality and no nonsense reliability. If it does not work I sell it off but for the most part M1 AK-74 and M4 I have have minimum maintenance and have worked like a charm. Pick what you feel good using and then find the best parts if your life is involve.

  29. I hear a lot of Soldier (rolling my eyes) stating that the key is maintenance and as a former Military man myself that is retarded. A weapon need to be reliable all the time and not only when you keep it as clean as a babies bottom. Soldier are in the business of fighting and killing not been butlers which makes me wonder how far back of the front line some of these "Soldier" are if they have so much time to clean a weapon.

    I look at this problem at not been a problem and the solution has in many ways already been put forward. If SHTF then cleaning the weapon will not be the norm no matter how much time you have.

    If the M4 is not reliable as it is then the AK -47 or 74 is and that is what would be best to use as a bug out weapon. I for one have a Core 15 Gas Piston and it has given me very little problems and I don't clean it much. I don't believe weapons need to be babied to work. If it gets to that point then a M1 or AK-74 will do the job. I am not going to go to war ever again survival will mean shoot to get out of harms way or to take out someone. No one here is going to go Rambo on a large group of armed men.

    What ever you decide to use it must perform with minimum maintenance period.

  30. I sold my .22 conv. as I could never with type ammo shoot a whole mag with out jams. I like the thought as you said. I have a M&P 15 .22 and would stake my life on it. That with Rem. 870 and Glock would be what I'd take.

  31. I agree that maintenance should not be much of an issue these days as long as you keep the gun as it should be, which is quite easy. Remember, though, that Ruger and other companies advice you keep debris (including water) out of the barrel and internal workings. Plastic with rubber band over the end of the barrel works but I would get an easy-to-carry gun bag to tote it until conditions warrant you start carrying it out of the bag. Wet weather can affect some firearms.

  32. With that in mind, I even have fastidiously thought of dependability and sturdiness once creating my picks for this survival guns gallery. I additionally checked out ammunition as a significant think about the choice of those guns. within the event of associate degree emergency, a gun that needs some exotic spherical may leave someone defenseless once his provide runs out.

  33. As a veteran of Iraq My m4 only jammed twice. That being said i believe it was a magazine issue than a gun issue because we were issued the old GI mags that was old and dirty from the start. granted piston driven can run a bit dirtier but keep in account most piston driven systems run very hot on the front of the rifle. needless to say both systems have been around for years. My suggestion is to look at your budget, and decide from there. In my own experience piston driven systems can use a wider and cheaper variety of ammo then direct impingement.

  34. Not exactly. Anything, especially things with moving parts, requires maintenance at several levels, varying from Preventive Maintenance by the user, to a rebuild at Depot Maintenance. Rightfully, the US Army created many different 'comic books' as a ready sources of information for soldiers, showing them tips on how to perform Preventive Maintenance on many different items of equipment, not just weapons.

  35. Excellent article. 1) Food, 2) water, 3) shelter, and 4) protection are primary. That equates to 1) livestock, big and small game/waterfowl/upland hunting, fishing, insects, existing fruit and nut orchard, and seeds (storage conditions are important and the type of seeds for your conditions), 2) either a well with a source of power for the pump (preferably) or access to an above ground water source, 3) cabin or house with wood burning stove, and 4) low-density population, friendship with neighbors and firearms are critical. So, one needs firearms for hunting and protection. For hunting,12ga shotgun, 308/30-06 bolt action, and 22lr rifle is needed. For protection, an AK47 or VZ58 or SKS and a good 38/357 revolver or 9mm/45acp pistol will suffice. So, five guns with plenty of ammo and you're set. Spend the rest of your time on food, water, firewood.


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