I think it’s safe to assume that a firearm is one of the most important, if not the most important, tool(s) for survival. That being the case, finding the right survival weapon can be tough. Between shotguns, rifles, carbines, and pistols plus dozens of calibers and cartridges, it’s nearly impossible to settle on just one. However, I’ve found in my experience with hunters, survivalists, bush pilots, and backpackers that the takedown rifle is one of the best guns for survival.
The modern takedown rifles are based on the legendary AR-7 developed by Eugene Stoner at ArmaLite, back in the 1950’s. Stoner and his team, who would go on to engineer the AR-15, designed the AR-7 to be a backup gun for pilots in the American Air Force. The .22LR ArmaLite AR-7 Survival Rifle became a major success within just a few years of hitting the civilian market.
Nowadays, several major gunmakers produce their own variants of the takedown rifle, each with their own special touch and modern flair. What makes these rifles so innovative is that they’re able to be completely disassembled and put back together in seconds without any tools. This makes them arguably the most prolific firearms on the market, that are great for hunting, defense, plinking & target practice, and all your other gun needs.
Furthermore, they are ideal for survival because they can be separated into smaller parts and stored or carried inconspicuously. In fact, many of the modern takedown rifles come with their own carry bags.
In this review, we’ll be looking at my top five favorite takedown rifles and seeing what makes each of them so special.
1: The Ruger SR-556 Takedown
The premier Ruger takedown rifle is by far the most versatile of the group, which is no small achievement. Whereas most other survival rifles are chambered in .22 caliber, the piston-driven SR-556 is built to fire 5.56mm NATO. Even more impressive, the SR-556 can be fitted with a .300 AAC Blackout barrel to fire the even more formidable cartridge.
All things considered, the Ruger SR-556 is not your run-of-the-mill takedown rifle. In addition to its high price-tag, the Ruger survival weapon is also significantly heavier and more powerful than the competition. Another one of the unique qualities of this gun is its quad Picatinny rails which offer endless accessory and attachment options. Ultimately, the SR-556 is a remarkable rifle even without its takedown abilities.
- Model: Ruger SR-556 Takedown
- Caliber: 5.56mm NATO / 223 Rem (.300 ACC Blackout also available)
- Capacity: 30
- Barrel Length: 16.1”
- Overall Length: 32.75” – 36”
- Weight: 7.1 lbs.
- Stock: Synthetic, collapsible Magpul MOE SL Carbine Stock, Mil-Spec
- Sights: Folding iron
- MSRP: $2,199
2: TNW Firearms Aero Survival Rifle
This pistol caliber takedown rifle is one of the most gorgeous yet unknown on the market. Nevertheless, the Aero Survival Rifle is more than capable for meeting all your survival needs. While fans of the Aero takedown gun love having the multiple caliber options, they can’t praise TNW enough for enabling it to accept standard Glock magazines. This is a huge benefit considering most owners of a survival rifle also own other firearms. To make the semi-automatic even more versatile, they also incorporated front accessory rails and fully-ambidextrous operation. However, don’t let these incredible features distract you from the AR-15 style grip and collapsible stock which provide an ergonomic and personalized shooting experience.
- Model: Aero Survival Rifle
- Caliber: 9mm, 10mm, .45ACP, .40S&W, .357SIG, .22LR, .22MAG, & .17HMR
- Capacity: Varies depending on caliber
- Barrel Length: 16.25”
- Overall Length: 29.5” – 33”
- Weight: 5.5 lbs.
- Stock: AR-style collapsible
- Sights: N/A
- MSRP: $799
3: Savage Model 42
Like the Aero rifle, the Savage Model 42 is innovative and unique. The Savage takedown weapon is truly something to behold. The American firearm is actually a shotgun-rifle combo gun, offering unmatched practicality and versatility. Although not especially powerful, the break-action Savage fires rimfire .22LR or .22WMR rounds from the top barrel and .410 bore shotgun shells from the bottom. Outside of this spectacular capability, there really isn’t much to brag about the Savage takedown, except maybe its durability. Like many other Savage models, the 42 is built with tough carbon steel and matte-black synthetics that eliminate glare and shield against corrosion and damage. Although it may seem complicated, the model 42 is user-friendly thanks to its convenient and easy-to-find barrel switch and one-button takedown.
- Model: Savage Model 42
- Caliber: .22LR or .22WMR & .410 bore
- Capacity: 2
- Barrel Length: 20”
- Overall Length: 35.75”
- Weight: 6.1 lbs.
- Stock: Synthetic matte-black
- Sights: Adjustable open rifle sights (removable to install a scope base)
- MSRP: $500
4: Henry Repeating Arms U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle
While most of the other rifles on this list used the historic ArmaLite AR-7 as mere inspiration, the Henry takedown rifle is more like a revamped version of the original. This means that the Henry is cheap, ultra-simple, and not very powerful. Nonetheless, these facts shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a deterrent. If anything, this is a great survival gun for young survivalists, hunters, campers, and plinksters. What is cool about the Henry Survival Rifle is that you can take it apart in seconds and stow the components in the stock, unlike these other guns which require a separate bag. Once disassembled, the Henry is only 3.5 lbs, 17” long, and easy to conceal and carry. Don’t let its lightweight design and cheap price convince you of its mediocrity; Henry Arms outfitted their U.S. Survival Rifle with a thermoplastic polymer stock and a water-resistant Teflon coating. Keep in mind that since it chambers .22LR, the Henry is outstandingly accurate and easy to control, plus ammo is light, easy-to-find, and inexpensive.
- Model: Henry Repeating Arms U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle
- Caliber: .22LR
- Capacity: 8
- Barrel Length: 16.1”
- Overall Length: 35”
- Weight: 3.5 lbs.
- Stock: Lightweight polymer
- Sights: Rear adjustable peep/front blade (with integrated Weaver accessory rail)
- MSRP: $290
5: Ruger 10/22 Takedown
Ruger has been producing some of the best-selling and top-rated rifles for decades, so it’s no surprise to see a 2nd Ruger on this list. Weighing in at less than 5 lbs., the Ruger 10/22 Takedown is one of the most well-made of its kind. In addition to their cold hammer-forged barrels, these impressive survival rifles also feature impact- and abrasion-resistant polymer trigger housings which are heat-stabilized for unparalleled protection. To add even more durability, the iconic American weapons manufacturer threw on a tough, weather-resistant matte-black stock. But that’s not all. Ruger also incorporated a precision-rifled fluted barrel with a threaded muzzle to offer impeccable shooting.
- Model: Ruger 10/22 Takedown
- Caliber: .22LR
- Capacity: 10+1
- Barrel Length: 16.1”
- Overall Length: 34.6”
- Weight: 5.3 lbs.
- Stock: Black synthetic
- Sights: Gold bead front / adjustable rear
- MSRP: $629
Overall, it’s hard to deny that the takedown rifle might just be the ultimate survival weapon. With their remarkable versatility, portability, and concealability, do yourself a favor and pick one up at your local gun shop. Plus, unlike many other survival items, these can be enjoyed at any time.
What a great and insightful piece – Thanks for the info!
You left the best of them all off the list. The Kel Tec SUB 2000 folding rifle. Uses the 33 rnd glock 17 (or any other glock) mags and folded is only 18″ long.
Had one on my sailboat while cruising Central America. The damned thing would double or triple fire occasionally with one pull of the trigger. After cleaning it and loading a magazine I let the slide release go to chamber a round and it tripled without touching the trigger. Three rounds ricocheted off the floor and ceiling and buried themselves in the wall. Piece of junk, like many of their products. My PMR-30 exploded in my hand and nearly put out my eye despite wearing shooting glasses. Both instances involved first rate ammo and routine maintenance. Just be careful with their gear.
I’ve been up and down on getting either the Savage 22/410 or the AR-7, for a survival rifle. The advantage of the AR-7 is the magazine load compared to 2 on the Savage. With the 410 using a slug this does have an advantage. I’m still not sure what to do.
Every member of my family owns an ASR in 9mm with a 40 S&W conversion kit matched with our Glock 23s and a Lone Wolf 9mm barrel they are wonderful firearms. Versatility at its finest. I carry one inside a Camelback HAWG and no one has ever suspected it. I can have it in play in seconds with the no tools required screw on barrel.
That is a great idea! I agree that the ability to match up magazines for short and long guns is a huge bonus.
Beware the TNW ASR, they sold me one thats a jam o matic piece of junk even TNW could not get to cycle reliably. Constantly jams nose up every mag with many mags and ammo brands tried. They effectively stole over $800 from me.
I have been playing with the idea of 10/22, but with a surpressed barrel and folding stock and a red dot of some kind. But, like the government, I’m still thinking about it. maybe some day
Springfield m6 scout is the best survival gun. Ar7 is next imo
MSRP of $629 for a .22? They should be ashamed of themselves
Paid $250 for my Ruger 10/22 back in 2015. Love the rifle but I wonnder if 22 is enough punch for self defense.
better yet look for an older Savage 22/20 gage or the .223/12 gage. The only thing I use a .410 for is skeet shooting when I really want to work hard at it. It would the last thing I would take in to the field for any type of hunting!
Browning makes a BLR takedown in several “rifle” Cali res, including the newer short, fat magnums, Kimber makes a bolt-action, JR makes one in pistol Calibres, and Marlin makes a.22 version (for years) they call the “Papoose”
Ruger is a “Johnny-come-lately, as I suppose, you are as well
I had one of the old henry AR-7’s, the one they used to call the jam-o-matic. Imho it was never intended to be a plinking gun, as soon ac it heats up there is enough expansion on critical parts that makes it sloppy and it starts to jam. It was originally intended as a pilots survival gun, you won’t retake Omaha beach with it but it’ll keep you fed if you’re a half decent shot. I do have a marlin papoose as part of my .22 takedown collection, It’s a nice shooter but Marlin got stingy and made their magazine proprietary, no after market mods, mags, nothin’. Butler creek makes a 25 round mag for it but it’s a FTF nightmare. The feel like the Ruger 10/22 takedown is the best option, It’s robust enough to take a little rough handling and still keep firing and the aftermarket mods, mags, etc. can be had easy enough.
Sort of a DICK comment Sparky.
M6 Scout in 22 Hornet/410 shotgun has to be one of the best survival rifles.
I’ve lived in alaska for over 30 years. I moose hunt every year as well as take the occasional bear with just an old compound bow and some arrows. Don’t get me wrong own my fair share of firearms but in an off grid situation ammo is precious and you DONT use it you find alternative ways to be self sufficient and making arrows is just that. Yes you can reload but are you making your powder? Ur not off grid.. if you think you need a firearm to live off grid you have never truly lived off grid, ur glorifying camping for extended periods as living off grid.
have been using a m1 garand for moose hunting sense i have been strong enough to lift it to my shoulder wouldnt want any other rifle i am 76 years old now and still using that same rifle it is the beat rifle ever made. patton was right when he made that remark.
have been using a m1 garand for moose hunting sense i have been strong enough to lift it to my shoulder wouldnt want any other rifle i am 76 years old now and still using that same rifle it is the best rifle ever made. patton was right when he made that remark.