One Gun For Survival – Which One Would It Be?

If you could only have one gun for survival in a time of SHTF, would it be this one?

Contributed by ‘Night Owl’
Reposted for your interest and further comment.

Ruger 10/22 (.22 long rifle), the one gun for survival.

More specifically a Ruger 10/22 with a folding stock, a decent scope and lots of 10 round factory magazines and 25 round Butler Creek or Ruger factory mags. Now, I am prepared for the crap-storm of criticism and dissension about this choice, but that’s inconsequential.

[ Ken adds: Here’s one of the current Ruger Takedown models in .22 ]

Killing power

From everyone I have talked to, things I have read, I would MAYBE try to take a deer if it were a clear, close shot.

NOW LET ME REPEAT- THIS IS IN A SURVIVAL SITUATION! You and your family are hungry. There are no grocery stores open. Your little girl is crying because there is nothing for supper. I’M GONNA TAKE A SHOT AT A DEER or anything else edible to put meat on the table!

A good head or neck shot, preferably a “double tap” will have a decent chance of bringing down a deer if you don’t chase him. Just let it run a few yards, lie down and die in peace. Physiologically speaking, deer are about the same size as humans, and I don’t think anyone would doubt the .22 long rifle’s capability to kill a human being.

We can reasonably accept that all animals smaller than deer should be easier to kill. As their body weight and size diminishes- possums, badgers, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, small birds, etc.

Old timers and country folk, who have actually hunted for their dinner at some point in their lives call the .22 rifle a “meat gun”. Meaning it’s the best at just that, putting meat on the table.

A .22 makes the least amount of noise so you have a lesser chance of scaring the critter (or his friends) off if you miss the first time.

A .22 does the least amount of damage to the meat that will soon be your dinner.

And a .22 is just right for dispatching domestic animals like pigs, goats and cattle.

Obviously shot placement becomes more important with a smaller caliber rifle. But when your supper depends on it you will fast become a more accurate shooter! With the small size, lesser weight and lesser expense of .22 ammo you will have opportunity to practice a lot.

The most popular ammo field box:

(view on amzn)

The economy of .22 ammo cost, weight and space!

[ Edit (2021), Prices and availability of .22 ammo have changed drastically since this original posting. However the article itself remains valid in it’s question regarding the gun itself. Okay back to the post… ]

In the summer of 2012, bulk packs of .22 ammo can be purchased in my town @ $17-$23 for approximately 500 rounds. On the other hand, .223 ammo in bulk packs of 500 rounds are selling for between $150-$250 online, not including shipping or tax. And .308 is going for $220-$350 for 500 rounds. As you can see, .22 long rifle costs 1/10th or less than .223 or .308- which most would agree would be the most obvious contenders for survival rifle calibers.

[ Edit (2021), Wow! Look at today’s costs for ammo!! It would have been one heck of a financial investment loading up back then! Would have beat the stock market by far!! Okay back to the post… ]

.22 long rifle will cost approximately .4 to .6 cents per round, .223 will cost about .23 to .65 cents per round and .308 will cost anywhere from .41 cents to $1.45 per round. When you consider all of the other things a prepper needs to buy and stock and spend money on preparing, the cost savings alone makes the .22 long rifle very attractive!

Comparing the weight differences of ammo

But wait! We have not yet discussed weight!

500 rounds of .22 long rifle ammo weigh about 4 pounds.

500 rounds of .223 weigh about 14 pounds.

And 500 rounds of .308 weigh anywhere from 36 to 38 pounds!

For the same weight of 500 .308 rounds you could be carrying approximately 4500 rounds of .22 long rifle! That’s a lot more game on the table and more ammo to barter! Physical volume and size savings are comparable with weight savings.

Ubiquity- Just a fancy word meaning .22 ammo is everywhere

.22 ammo is the most widely produced ammunition in the world.

Your chances are very good to find .22 ammo in a country store, a K-Mart, a Walmart, a hardware store – hell, I’ve even seen it in gas stations Down South! That’s pretty important for that one gun for survival!

The .22 long rifle cartridge has been produced in America since 1887. Almost ANYBODY who owns a gun has a .22 rifle or pistol and the ammo to go with it.

We have all seen the survival/zombie/apocalypse films where everybody has a gun but no one has ammo. Your best bet to stay out of this situation is to carry a gun that uses THE MOST COMMON caliber on the planet!


This is where I expect the SHTF. I KNOW some “expert” is going to rebuttal me on this one. REMEMBER, ONLY ONE GUN! FOR EVERYTHING!

No, a .22 is not the ultimate “manstopper”. No it will not drop a bad guy instantly like a well placed .45 or .44 magnum. But you can’t hunt rabbits and squirrels for dinner using a hand-cannon.

A .22 long rifle has a realistic range of 100 to 150 yards. This should keep the zombies off most people’s lawns. If you are shooting at someone farther away than 100 yards then YOU are most likely the bad guy!

A lot of people are killed in this country every year by .22’s. If you are a good shot and have some 25 round magazines you have a very good chance at defending yourself against most realistic threats. Practice shooting “double taps”. Actually go hunting with your .22 rifle. As with any tool, practice makes perfect.


A new Ruger 10/22 will cost between $300 and $500 depending on options.

I just bought a stainless steel, poly-stocked rifle with an integral laser sight for $450. Just about every accessory imaginable is available for the Ruger 10/22. Sniper stocks, tactical stocks, folding stocks, scopes, red dot sights, laser sights, accessory rails, flashlights, flashhiders, suppressors (silencers), high capacity magazines, target triggers, cases, etc., etc.

The .22 should be on your list for (at least) that one gun for survival.

If not the ONLY one gun for survival, a .22 rifle should certainly be one of the FIRST guns you add to your Prepper equipment.

Now if we wanted to expand this discussion to “One Rifle and One Handgun” we just add an 8 or 10 round .22 revolver and you have a perfect pair of survival guns!

I know I forgot something that someone will point out to me. But this should give some good food-for-thought to those Preppers who are newbies or just open-minded enough to consider some well-thought advice.

-Night Owl

[ Read: How Many Magazines Per Gun? ]