Since 1959 the venerable AR-7 has been the choice of U.S. Air Force pilots who need a small-caliber rifle they can count on should they have to punch out over a remote area. Through the years the AR-7’s reputation for portability, ease of operation and reliability has carried over to the civilian world. Today it’s a favorite of bush pilots, backpackers and backcountry adventurers who, like their Air Force counterparts, need a rifle that’s easy to carry yet has the accuracy to reliably take down small game.
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As an old Marine to another Marine, I’m just preaching to the choir. But for those who don’t have the gun savy you and I learned the hard way, under the “tutelege” of some crusty old Gunny in the sweltering humidity of Quantico or desert heat of California, please allow me. It’s a neat little thing, but I’m not sure it would be my first choice. I know it wouldn’t. But if that was all there was, it beats hell out of a rock or stick for sure.
To the firearms neophytes:
It’s a good place to start. A 12 guage double barrel shotgun with the barrels cut to 18.25″ is not only legal but a fearsome weapon as well. 18.25 inches? Yes. Then it is legal in any state and not subject to more restrictive federal laws, or state laws, for that matter. That 1/4 of an inch is to make certain you are not going to find yourself in federal prison. Have a gunsmith do it. He will know the correct way to measure to make the cut. If you do it and come up 1/16th inch short you just made yourself a felon. Ain’t worth a few bucks, is it? Use #5 or #6shot in the house. It shouldn’t penetrate a wall and hit your wife or kid, but it’ll make a real rat hole in the dirty booger that doesn’t belong there.
I must interject this: don’t even think of breaking it down to sneak across the Northern or Southern border. The Canucks will jail you and so will the Mex’s. Canadian jails, as I hear it, are better than American ones. I’ve seen a big Mexican jail in Mazatlan, Mexico, and you do not want to find yourself there at all, no way, no sirree. From what I saw of it, I’d say Dante’s “Inferno” and a Mexican jail are just about the same. Not even one little .22 cartridge. Clean your vehicle at least 3 times. Every last nook and cranny. If they get you dirty, it’ll cost you severely.
Or get a Remington 870 12 guage pumpgun. Reliable as the sun (it’s there even if you can’t see it)and there’s about 10 million of them out there. They must be doing something right to sell 10 million, hmmm?
Having said that, let me suggest these items. A Savage synthetic heavy barrel .22 LR bolt action rifle. About $300, and as or more accurate than anything below $1,000 on the market. Inuit (Eskimos) have killed polar bear with them. You ain’t that goooood. But out to 100 yards you can take any samll game and some medium sized too, with a scope and practice. The other is the Savage synthetic stock in .30-06. If they sell ammunition in any little town, they’ll have ’06. It’ll kill anything out to a 1,000 yards, and more, if you can put the bullet in the right place.
Burris and Bushnell both make some some good, inexpensive scopes (NO, not cheaply made, just not in the class of a $2,000 Swarovski, Schmidt & Bender, or Leupold)and rings. 3x-9x and 40mm front lens is all you need.
If you really envision “The Hordes” then you need a Bushmaster AR-15, a ton of Lake City ammo, and gazillions of MagPul plastic magazines, and a decent scope and rings with a Surefire X400 fighting light hung on it. It has a laser built in and at $400 it’s not that expensive. That little red dot is very persuasive to most criminals, and the light is so bright it’ll blind them for a short time. You can run over the MagPuls with a 6×6 and you might crack them but they will still work. Once an aluminum or steel magazine is damaged you’ll never get it to work right every time, assuming that is important to you. If not, hammer away. I’m on my 2nd Bushmaster-they’ve come a long way since they were just about the only AR types available. Neither one ever failed me in any way, not once.
And you need a solid reliable handgun. Ruger makes a good .38/357 revolver at a fair price. Simple to use, rugged, and easy to clean. Find ammunition anywhere. A 7 1/2″ barrelled Ruger Redhawk .44 Mag would be a nice adjunct, if you can swing it financially.
As an NRA Life member and former high-power rifle competitor who’s spent a small fortune on gun magazines and learned a lot and spent more on ammuntion and reloading supplies and owned and sold more guns than I can remember, I think I’ve got an inkling of what a basic, sound, reliable working man’s firearms needs are. But IF I had to take ONLY ONE gun, it’d be the .30-06. It’ll kill anything in North America, big or small, 2 legged animals or 4 legged ones, alligators, polar and grizzly and black bears and mountain lions (the PD just last week killed one here in the city of Des Moines, Iowa, believe it or not!!)
The ’06 ammunition can be had in projectile weights from 125 to 220 grains. The heavy’s will put any bear down like a sack of lead. The little ones for whatever. Only a very few, highly specialized cartridge makers don’t manufacture them. Remington will sell you a train load if you want it. As will Winchester, Black Hills, and another hundred or so ammo companies large and small.
At last and finally: try to get a 3 to7 day return on a used gun. Then you can run it to a gunsmith and have him check it over. Hopefully you won’t get burned that way. If it’s new in the box (NIB), you’re good to go, keeping in mind that guns are made by people and machines and they both mess up from time to time. We found that out the worst way when they took our M-14’s away and gave us M-16’s, and no cleaning kits either?? That crap just will not fly in the Nam. A lot of good men didn’t get to see their families again, ever, because of that stupidity. You can only club and bayonet so many before they run over you. The 14 was heavy, but as long as you cleaned it religiously you were good. So take them out and run 200-300 rounds through each one. That should shake out any bugs. It’s nice to know it’ll work when you need it to. Besides, it’s only money, and what’s worth more? Your life or your money?
Semper Fi. Semper Vigilans.
Donald H. Conner
WOW, thank you for the depth of your comment! I believe the information you have put in it will help quite a few people.I look forward to hearing more from you
I would not disagree that your handgun choice is a good one but I am going with a Glock 9mm because of reliability and capacity. Ammo is also available everywhere.
For a long rifle I agree there is no better choice than a 30-06 although I think there could be a lot of discussion about a 30-30.
The one thing I would like to add is that I believe the 30-06 is not a good choice for a smaller woman; too much kick. For my wife or daughters I would use a .243. Good for any game up to deer size (ok any size game in survival situation) and not a lot of kick. Flat bullet trajectory and good out to about 400 yds. The only down size is you better stock up on ammo because of a more limited availability.
Had one for 50yrs.Modified with a stock from a soft air gun,now it looks like AR-15