5+ Firearms To Always Bring To The Woods

The wilderness is a beautiful place.

While there is also something beautiful about the advancements we have made technologically and culturally, the experience of embracing our natural habitat and taking in nature is crucial to the human experience.

Whether you’re camping, hunting or trekking through the wild, firearms are necessary to scoring game and staying safe. There are many reasons people travel through the wilderness, many biomes with unique wildlife, and many differences in personal preference. The good thing is that there are many firearms designed to fulfill all of those different roles.


Semi-automatic rifles offer versatility, range, and stopping power. They can put animals down, fire multiple shots in quick succession, and can go long periods without reloading.

The AR-15 has been a staple of American gun ownership for decades. One of its greatest advantages over other semi-automatic rifles is its customizability. It is easy to swap out sights, stocks, grips, and more complex pieces like trigger mechanisms to create the perfect gun. You can use railings for attachments like laser sights, flashlights, various foregrips, and any number of scopes.

Many gun owners build their AR-15s from scratch. You can purchase kits or purchase individual pieces separately to build a completely custom rifle. This allows you to shop for parts based on price, quality, and personal preference. You do need to be knowledgeable about firearms to build the rifle properly. Make sure you know what you are doing or find someone who does when it comes to putting the pieces together.

They are also smooth to use, and they don’t have excessive recoil. The .223 rounds they fire offer something of a happy medium between large and small calibers. They are ergonomically designed. Their accuracy and precision are on point. They are beautifully crafted pieces of machinery that have earned their top spot among gun owners.


The debate between the AR-15 and the AK-47 has gone on for decades. It can sometimes become a quasi-debate between the U.S. and former Soviet states. In reality, they are both tremendous tools with their own merits.

You want something reliable in the wilderness. Guns that are prone to jamming or are generally high maintenance are not ideal when you are separated from civilization. The AK-47 series of rifles are classic performers in rough and rugged situations. The Automatic Kalashnikov (AK) is named after its creator, the legendary tank commander Mikhail Kalashnikov. It has been a favorite of people living in rugged terrain for half of a century. In the muddy and wet environments of Vietnam, they held up better than M-16s. They have stood the test of time in the mountainous and sandy terrains of places like Afghanistan and Iraq. The Russian military still uses a modernized version of it in their current forces. Their rugged nature makes them well suited for having in the wilderness. You can be fully confident that they will function perfectly throughout the entirety of your trip.

They are made to be simple and easy to manufacture. They have few parts that tend to be large. Their simplicity is largely where their ruggedness comes from.

They also tend to be cheap, which is also related to their simplicity. Along with the classic Russian version, there are American made versions, the Chinese AKM, and the Romanian WASR. More expensive versions with modern furniture are available if that is what you desire. You can count on AK-47s in any environment you travel through, and the 7.62 rounds they fire have the stopping power you will need.


Scatterguns, boom-sticks, shotguns. Whatever you call them, shotguns have a place in American history as weapons designed for frontier life.

There is a myriad of shotgun shells available for a myriad of situations. Buck shot fires a concentrated load with stopping power. This is ideal for larger animals like deer. Bird shot provides a wider spread that is ideal for smaller and faster moving targets. Slugs carry stopping power over longer ranges. You can find shotguns of all shapes and sizes. You can find tactical semi-auto shotguns for more rapid-fire. You can purchase a pump-action which has become the standard for shotguns. You can also find a single barrel, double barrel, and even revolvers that fire shotgun shells.

The variety of shells on the market makes them a great choice for the woods, as one firearm brings the capability to hunt game of all sizes. They are also powerful enough to be useful in self-defense situations.

.22 Rifles

.22s are a favorite of sporting enthusiasts for many reasons.

For one, the rounds are dirt cheap. You can shoot them all day long without breaking the bank. This, along with their near nonexistent recoil, makes them great for teaching new shooters and for casual fun.

They are great for hunting small game. If you’re on a camping or hunting expedition, a .22 is perfect for hunting squirrels and rabbits.

Semi-automatic .22s are a great pick. Their magazines usually hold plenty of ammunition. You can place shots rapidly, and there’s less penalty for missing. The Ruger 10-22 fits the bill and is one of the most popular .22s on the market. It is cost-effective and will get the job done. Bolt action .22s may be more useful for those who prefer precision above all else. You could also go with my personal favorite, lever-action .22s. Nothing makes one feel more at home in the wilderness than a lever-action rifle. It harkens back to the days of the Wild West, and it is still a very practical design. Henry and Marlin are two of the most common manufacturers of lever-action rifles today.

The AR-7

The AR-7 was designed by Eugene Stoner, the designer of the AR-15. It was designed specifically for wilderness survival. It is a semi-automatic .22 rifle, like some that were mentioned in the previous section, but it has some unique characteristics.

The buttstock is hollowed out with compartments. The compartments are meant to fit the barrel, the firing mechanism, and two magazines. The parts can be easily screwed off for storage. Essentially, it is a fully functioning .22 rifle that can be stored in a fraction of the size of others. When you are carrying supplies and gear miles through the woods, size and weight can have significant effects. Being able to store your firearm snuggly in your pack, and only adding around three pounds to its weight, can be a lifesaver.

The gun is used to today by bush pilots and outdoorsmen. Its reliability and accuracy are known to be more than enough to get the job done. Some may question its reliability given the fact that it is designed to be quickly disassembled, but it has been shown to function well. It is able to withstand water and can be quickly assembled should the need arise.


If you live in the country or are planning an expedition into the wilderness, don’t overlook self-defense.

Many of the firearms discussed so far can be useful for self-defense. A shotgun or an AK-47 can put down most animals. However, they are not necessarily ideal.

Long-guns are typically carried over your shoulder, in a bag, or taken apart and stored somewhere in your pack. While you’re sitting around the campfire, you probably don’t have your AK-47 or your pump-action shotgun laying across your lap. You can, however, always have a handgun at your side.

Your choice of the handgun will depend on the area you will be in. If the most dangerous animal in the region is a deer, then maybe don’t over-stress the importance of what you choose. Many regions have much more dangerous animals though, such as cougars and grizzly bears. You need something powerful enough to sit them down before they have the chance to ruin your day.

Personally, I favor .44 revolvers. .357 revolvers and semi-auto handguns chambered in larger calibers like .40 and .45 can get the job done as well. If you purchase a revolver, go with a double action. Single action revolvers are fun when you’re pretending to be John Wayne, but you need to be able to fire quickly should your life be on the line. .44s pack the most punch, but you may feel more comfortable with a Glock or a 1911. Make sure you’re comfortable using your sidearm so that you are effective when the situation arises.

Wilderness survival is about much more than the defense from predators, but it is too important to overlook.

Long-Distance Hunting

If your wilderness journey involves hunting at long ranges, then you need long-range rifles.

Ideally, you should use large calibers for large game like deer and moose. .308 and 30-06 are some of the more popular calibers. Most hunters prefer to use bolt action rifles. They tend to offer the most precision and range. Rifles like the Remington 700 and the Savage M220 are affordable and of high quality. Some, like the Weatherby Mark V, could be considered ”luxury” hunting rifles. They are definitely worth looking into, but the “cheaper” ones are not only of high quality but are worth being proud of.

You could also use a lever-action rifle. As previously stated, Marlin and Henry rifles come highly recommended. You can find lever-action rifles offered in many calibers from .45 to 30-06. Semi-auto rifles are also viable options. You can find AR-style rifles chambered in .300 blackout which can take down larger prey than a traditional AR-15. What hunting rifle you choose is dependent on what you value in shooting and what you are hunting. Semi-auto may be better for hunting wild boar. Bolt action may be better for hunting at extreme ranges.

Heavy barreled rifles can provide more stability and accuracy. You can outfit them with range finders which will calculate the range you’re aiming at in real-time.

A quality scope with appropriate zoom and reticles is necessary. Before you head out, sight in your scope at a range. A well-designed scope should stay sighted in as long as it is properly taken care of. Make use of lens covers because you may not have time to adjust the sights or clean your scope once your prey is in sight.

Research where you are headed, and plan accordingly. The variety of choices discussed illustrate the fact that there is a gun for every job, you just need to know what the job entails.

Always be prepared in advance so that you can get the most out of your trips and stay safe.

Written by

Jay is a pro free speech business owner based in Austin, Texas. Having lived through several natural disasters and more than a few man-made ones (hello 2008), he believes that resilience and self-sufficiency are essential in this increasingly unpredictable world. That’s why he started a business! Jay writes over at Minuteman Review.

Latest comments
  • Hey, Jay ! Glad to have you with us. I am Not going to pick on your article for any reason. I would like to discuss some of the specific weapons and calibers with you. You might contact me at – been teaching long-range rifles for years – gettin’ too old now.

  • Just my 2 cents! The .22 rifle and the AR-7 is the same baby in different clothes. YES I know there are some survival rifles to have a .410 or even a 30-30 round etc., but we basically talking “survival .22” for obvious reasons (can carry lot’s of ammo, inexpensive etc. My personal preference is the Ruger 10/22 stainless and of course the “take-down” model.. Just to note I was surprised that handgun did not make this short list. Could be a .22 but my preferred one would be a 4 or 6 inch (stainless) revolver 38./357 (oh like the Ruger GP100) of course it depends what you are in the woods for but I like to have it for snakes (with snake shots) or for emergency bear encounter! Happy outdoors!

  • For a large caliber semi auto I like my AR10. It will take down most larger game animals and is also great for self defense if set up right. It is also better than an AR15 at med. to long range. For my handgun I carry a ruger SR40c. It may not put a bear on its butt with one round but it WILL make one stop and think twice about attacking you. For my lever action I prefer a gov 45-70. After all this caliber was invented for the military and for taking buffalo and bear.

  • “Five + Firearms To Always Bring To The Woods”, “Whether you’re camping or trekking through the wild, firearms are necessary to scoring game and staying safe.” Interesting article poised at provoking discussion I am sure. First, 5.65×45 and 7.62×39 caliber weapons are only useful today because ammo is plentiful and cheap. Other than that forget them. The AK-47 is nowhere a versatile as the AR platform. So unless it is sunk cost in your arsenal or a pickup on the floor of the wild, forget it. Today’s urban, suburban, and rural around home, defense weapons are equally as versatile in the wild or for staying safe.

    There are three capabilities that fit all this article’s environments, Home defense, Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) and Sniper. Short story: Black Aces Tactical Semi-Automatic, magazine fed, bull pup 12 gauge shotgun is most versatile home defense and hunting tool available today. Barrel length is 18.5” with overall length of 28”. Ammunition availability covers turkey, deer, bear, anarchists, drones and intruders. A 300 blackout 25.5” overall AR pistol truck gun is a premium choice for CCW backed up by a Springfield XD pistol. Now bring in sniper or long range hunting tasks and you have the 6mm ARC upper on you truck gun. This is a simple solution that is affordable and all be carried at the same time around home or in the wild. Of course if you cannot ruck up that much stuff than strip down to the shotgun and sniper AR. You have area suppression and precision strike such a deal.

    • I agree, except maybe you meant 5.56×45? 7.62×39 ammo is still available but went from .24 cents per round to .31 or more. Have you looked for 556 or 223 ammo lately?? It jumped from .27 per round to .49 or as much as $1.00 per round. Just months ago I had my sights set on an IWI Galil Ace 7.62×39 pistol with folding stock. I found it for 1,499 but then all hell broke lose and I put the idea aside. I with I had gotten it now because ammo is still pretty cheap and available…oh well, maybe we’ll all get another chance at it if and when Trump is re-elected and we clean out the House and Senate of bleeding heart liberals?

      • Yes fingers 5.56 not 5.65. Yes prices are up but still relatively cheap. Shotgun is $599, AR pistol under $500 and 6mm AR upper under $500 and well as backup pistol so $2K you get it all. Plus ammo of course.

      • Of course if you are really frugal you can just. Pack the pistol for CCW, sling the Rifle and carry the shotgun with ammo for $2K

  • Shooting isn’t all about brawn though. In fact, many shooters will tell you it’s more of a head game. It’s a mental workout as much as a physical one.