Since 1959, the US Air Force has been using the AR-7 as a survival rifle for pilots. We loved the idea behind the AR-7 so we decided to put it through the paces at SurvivalCache to see if it would live up to the term “Survival Rifle”…and it did.
Let me start off by saying that the AR-7 by Henry Repeating Arms would not be my first choice of a SHTF survival gun. I would probably lean toward an AR-15, AK-47, Glock 17, or a 12 gauge shotgun.
But I don’t think the AR-7 fits into the typical “SHTF Bug Out Weapon” category. The AR-7’s sweet spot is really as an emergency survival rifle, not to be confused with a SHTF rifle. If you find yourself backpacking over long stretches wilderness, on a bush plane in Alaska or Canada, or on long road trips in a car or truck, then you are talking about the AR-7’s sweet spot. At only 3.5 lbs., the AR-7 is a purpose built survival rifle.
The first thing I noticed was the tough exterior of the Henry’s stock. Made from ABS plastic, which has the important
mechanical property of being impact resistance and known for toughness, this stock felt like it was made to survive.
The next thing that I really liked was the overall length of the survival rifle when it is disassembled and all pieces were stowed in the butt stock. At only 16.5 inches, this rifle could easily find it’s way into the truck of my car next to my “Get Home Bag.”
The assembly of the rifle was very intuitive and I quickly assembled it even before reading the directions. I went back over the directions to make sure I did not miss anything before firing. Once the AR-7 survival rifle was assembled, it handled very nicely and the ergonomics were great considering I was holding a rifle that was built to be tough, light and assembled very quickly in an emergency.
The 8 round magazine provides a little bit of comfort in a survival scenario, there is something about being able to quickly fire off 8 rounds accurately that is reassuring to me. I also like the fact that you have an extra magazine (8 rounds) which you can keep secure in the butt stock or in your pocket. When it comes to survival more is sometimes better.
When I first fired the AR-7 I noticed that both my hands found natural positions on the rifle which felt very good. Although it was not the traditional way I would hold a rifle, my supporting hand quickly found a good spot along the magazine well.
Another cool survival feature about the AR-7 is that the front sight post is bright blaze orange. This was ideal for quickly acquiring a target in all conditions. With the rest of the rifle colored black (barrel, upper receiver, and stock), the orange front site post really stood out when looking through the rear sight peep site.
If you have shot a .22 LR before then this rifle is no different. There is very little recoil and the report of the rifle was minimal. In a survival situation the low recoil could come in handy if you had to put multiple rounds into the same target quickly. I shot through 10 magazines of ammo right out of the box with no malfunctions, not bad.
SurvivalCache Video Review of the AR-7
Action Type: Semi-automatic
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 8 round magazine (comes with 2 magazines)
Length: 35″ assembled – 16.5″ when stowed
Weight: 3.5 lbs.
Stock: ABS Plastic
Sights: Adjustable rear, blade front (bright orange)
Finish: Teflon coated receiver and coated steel barrel
Country: Made in the USA
Pros and Cons
- Lightweight and compact
- Comfortable to hold
- Quick on the sites
- No malfunctions
- Possibly a few more tools added to the buttstock
- Larger magazines
I was pleasantly surprised by this rifle and with features like a waterproof stock and the ability to float, it is hard to beat the Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle in it’s sweet spot which is survival. With the low cost of the rifle ($200 to $275) and all of its features, you can see how this rifle could find its way into your car survival kit.
The only thing that I noticed was that the stock seemed to have a lot of extra space in it. If I was going to make changes to the AR-7, I would make the magazines 16 rounds each for a total of 32 rounds. I would also add a fire starter and a small pocket knife to the butt stock compartment. There seems to be enough space but I am no engineer, overall I really enjoyed the survival rifle and recommend it if it fits into your plan.
Henry Repeating Arms
The SurvivalCache.com Team