5 Outstanding Firearms (+Their Budget-Friendly Alternatives)

If you want to get into a lively discussion at your local shooting range, just start talking about some gun being the best there is.

Everyone has their opinion on this subject, and the more they’ve shot, the more likely they are to have very firmly set opinions. Not only that, but they’re sure to be very vocal in making those opinions known.

Each shooter who joins that discussion is going to throw another gun into the pot. While there might be some agreement that certain guns are superior to the majority of what’s sold out there, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever find consensus on one best gun.

Part of that is because each shooter will be thinking about “best” in regards to the kind of shooting they do. One might be thinking about hunting small game, while another is thinking about a self-defense firearm. Each will be right in their own regard, but that won’t make their choice superior to someone else’s in the way that they want to use it.

Let’s face it; there is no one best gun on the market.

Different guns are designed for different purposes, and everything about their design, from the caliber to the optics, reflected that purpose. But when you try to take that same firearm and use it for something else, it might stink.

This makes it so that selecting a gun to be your personal survival gun is largely a process of making compromises. How you see the various survival priorities and how you plan on getting through a survival scenario is going to affect the choices that you make. Hopefully, we’ll all make the right ones.

But then there’s the other problem; buying those guns.

Quality firearms aren’t cheap by any standard, and often, the most popular models are also the most expensive. But there are often equivalents out there, often very similar equivalents, which will work fine, but at a lower price. Those may very well be the guns that you and I need to buy, in order to build up our survival arsenal.


It seems to me that everyone needs to start out their survival arsenal with a good sidearm. Pistols are useless for hunting, as well as any other long-range shooting. They serve one purpose and one purpose only: self-defense. Considering that many survival tasks will require you setting your long-arm aside, it only makes sense to carry a pistol at all times.

Best Survival Pistol – Glock 17 – 9mm

It’s really hard to pick a best pistol, with all the various calibers and models available to us today. Personally, I’m a .45 man, having learned to shoot with the Army Colt 1911. But, while I have a personal 1911 in my collection, that’s not my survival pistol. I’ve selected a Glock 17 for that.

There are two major reasons why I’ve selected a Glock 17 for my survival pistol. The first is Glock’s reputation. If you want a good, serviceable pistol, which will not jam, Glock is for you. They might take a little getting used to, but once you do, you’ll be convinced too. Besides, the Glock is highly customizable, which I like, as I’m the kind of guy who likes tricking out my guns to make them more usable.

But which Glock to carry for survival? I narrowed it down to the Glock 17, because it is a full-sized 9mm Luger. Considering that 9mm is the most popular pistol caliber in the world today, there will be a better chance of coming up with 9mm ammo in a post-disaster world, than any other caliber.

Alternative – Canik TP9 SFx – 9mm

You’ve probably never heard of this one, but if you’re looking for a really great 9mm pistol, take a good look at this. It’s from Turkey, of all places, but this is a very well designed gun. One of the nicest things about it is that the slide is designed so that you can grip it just about anywhere to rack it. It also comes with an 18 round magazine, which gives you one more round of capacity over the Glock 17. The only problem may be getting spare parts, so you’ll want to stock up on those, before the apocalypse comes.

Tactical Shotgun

There’s nothing that beats a short-barreled shotgun for close work, not even the best of pistols. Soldiers in both World Wars and Vietnam preferred the Trench Gun over just about anything, assuming they could get their hands on one.  If you’ve got to defend your home from multiple attackers, this is the way to go.

Best Tactical Shotgun – KelTec KSG Bullpup Shotgun – 12 gauge

I was instantly impressed when KelTec came out with their KSG shotgun. As far as I’m concerned, this was the first shotgun ever built, with tactical considerations in mind. The bulpup design allows for an overall length of only 26.1 inches, and that’s with an 18.5 inch barrel, keeping it legal, without having to get the ATF tax stamp. Their “tactical” model is only 21.5 inches long, but it only has a 13.5 inch barrel, meaning that you have to jump through hoops of red tape to buy one.

The other outstanding thing about this shotgun is the dual magazine, allowing you to load a total of 17 rounds. This allows you to load both buckshot and slugs, without having to worry about remembering what order you loaded them in. A simple switch, conveniently located near the pistol grip, allows you to switch back and forth between the two magazines, putting out an incredible amount of firepower.

A top-mounted rail allows the installation of optics, showing that KelTec realizes that a tactical shotgun isn’t just a point and shoot weapon, but that it can and should actually be aimed.

Alternative – Standard Manufacturing DP-12

It’s easy to think that Standard Manufacturing developed the DP-12 simply to compete with the KSG, but in reality, they solved a few problems that the KSG has. Specifically, it’s an easier gun to shoot, which comes complete with a good but pad and a cheek rest that the KSG doesn’t have. While being a bit demanding to shoot (actually both models are), the visible magazine and other features make up for it, as well as the lower price.

Hunting Rifle

Every survivalist needs a good hunting rifle. While not all that effective for home defense, a good survival rifle is going to help put food on the table, especially if you have to bug out. In the rare case that you actually need a sniper rifle, a hunting rifle with a good scope on it is going to take care of that need as well.

Speaking of scopes, a lot of people spend a lot on their hunting rifle, but then cut corners on the scope. Don’t do that; a good scope is just as important as a good rifle. You’re going to need that, in order to make every shot count.

Best Hunting Rifle – Remington 700 – .308 Caliber

If there is ever a hunting rifle which is going to gain consensus as the best there is, it has to be the Remington 700. First marketed in 1962, this rifle is not only a favorite of hunters, but has been used by the US Army as a sniper rifle as well. The simple design, coupled with quality workmanship, provides a reliable, accurate rifle for any need.

There are actually several different models of rifles in the Remington 700 “family,” as well as several different calibers. I’ve selected the .308 caliber because it is a common one, also known as 7.62 x 51 mm or 7.62 NATO. This is a powerful enough round for big game hunting, as well as being common enough that it should be available in a post-disaster world.

Alternative – Howa 1500 Varmint

While I personally own a Remington 700, if I was looking for a lower-cost alternative, I’d go for the Howa 1500. This gun is available in the same .308 caliber as the Remington 700. It’s also very similar to the Remington in many other key areas, but it comes with a lower price tag, making it a great option to buy for your survival arsenal.

“Survival Rifle”

Sorry, but I’ve always gotten a bit of a laugh out of “survival rifles.” That’s not because they are .22 caliber, but because I can’t really see any reason to carry a rifle that has to be assembled any time I want to use it. chances are, I’d need it while it was disassembled and not be ready for the shot I need.

Best Survival Rifle – Henry Arms AR-7 – .22LR Caliber

The Henry AR-7 has the reputation of being the best rifle in this small category. While there aren’t many contenders for that title, the Henry takes the prize. Originally designed by ArmaLite, the same people who created the AR-15, this design has passed through a number of hands, before finally being acquired by Henry Arms. They cleaned up the design and have made it a success.

What’s so great about this rifle is that it is so compact. Everything stores in the stock, making a package which is just 16.5 inches long and weighs only 3.5 pounds. If you need something to put in a backpack or hide under the back seat of your car, this rifle will do the trick. It is highly reliable and amazingly accurate for a rifle that is designed to break down and assemble easily.

Alternative – Crickett Single Shot Synthetic – .22LR Caliber

While the Henry AR-7 is an excellent rifle, you have to realize that you’re paying a lot of extra money just to have it break down and fit inside the stock. Personally, I just can’t see where that is all that useful, unless I’m looking for something I want to be able to hide; but that’s what pistols are for.

I’d much rather put my money into something like the Crickett Single Shot Synthetic, Bolt-action rifle. As a bolt action, it is highly reliable and accurate. Plus, it’s a whole lot cheaper. Overall weight is a half pound lighter, and the overall assembled length is half an inch shorter. Carrying this gun along, for shooting small game, really wouldn’t be an issue, even if you’re carrying another long gun.

Home-defense Rifle

The AR-15 has gained the lead as the best and most popular sporting rifle on the market. It is also widely considered to be the best home defense rifle, as well as the best overall survival rifle. The sheer versatility of the AR-15 makes it an essential in anyone’s survival arsenal.

Best AR-15 – Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 0 – 5.56mm NATO Caliber

It’s difficult to pick the best AR-15 out there with so many models to choose from. My personal one is a custom-built AR-15 that has the features and options that I want. But if I was to buy one off-the-shelf, I’d probably pick this model from Daniel Defense. The main reason is their reputation for reliability.

This particular AR-15 comes with a full-length 15” full-floating rail, flash supperssor, mid-length gas impingement system and a cold-hammer forged 16” barrel. A nice combination of features. Of course, the optics are not included; but that’s normal for AR-15s, as the first place any owner wants to customize is their optics. I especially like the long rail system, as it allows for the attachment of any number of accessories.

Alternate – Mossberg MMR AR-15 Tactical – 5.56mm NATO Caliber

I’m a big fan of Mossberg, mostly for their tactical shotguns. My personal shotgun, which is a Mossberg 500, has been heavily modified, like most of my firearms. But what I really like about it is the reliability. Mossberg is used by many law enforcement agencies, because they know they can count on it, when they need to.

The MMR AR-15 Tactical comes in at an amazingly low price, considering what it is. Unlike many other low-price AR-15s, this one has a quad rail, allowing you to install whatever optics you want. It uses a direct impingement gas system and comes with the iron sights installed. An amazing buy for the money.

But for all of this, you should read Simple Gun Hacks That Will Instantly Double Your Accuracy from Decorated Green Beret!

Written by

Bill White is the author of Conquering the Coming Collapse, and a former Army officer, manufacturing engineer and business manager. More recently, he left the business world to work as a cross-cultural missionary on the Mexico border. Bill has been a survivalist since the 1970s, when the nation was in the latter days of the Cold War. He had determined to head into the Colorado Rockies, should Washington ever decide to push the button. While those days have passed, the knowledge Bill gained during that time hasn’t. He now works to educate others on the risks that exist in our society and how to prepare to meet them. You can send Bill a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • Well, I knew this article was going to be problematic when he didn’t start with the Glock 19. Not problematic for me, but for the majority who hold the 19 up as THE hand gun. I scanned down for the remainder of the “outstanding” firearms and saw nothing note worthy. But all is not lost, we agree in the 1911.

  • Is the Glock 17 good for women for concealed carry? I have a Beretta PX4 but it’s kind of large for me for concealed carry.

    Thank you,

    • I would try a glock 43 it’s a 9mm but a single stack so 6 round magazine, and would fit best my wife loves hers.

  • Hey Bill, two things.
    1. Handgun, I too am a 45 guy, but as for the Glock, the 22 or 23 I believe are better choices. I personally have a 23 which can shoot 4 different calibers, 9, 40, 357sig, and 22LR. Extra barrels are readily available. This gives you more options.

    2. Rifles, all three of yours can be done with 1 1/2 AR-15s. I have mine chambered in 300blk. This gives me more knockdown than 223, plus I can run silent under 100yds, change bullets and I’m now good to 600yds. Pop the top, and replace it with a 22LR upper and Shazam instant small game getter.

    Just my thoughts. I think yours are great too.

  • Well, Bill . . . I have some disagreements – No Surprise there. ANYONE Who would choose a Glock (Any Glock) with its high price and Terrible Ergonomics – over a CZ 75 (With its Various forms in 9mm) – is just missing out. I will say no more about that. As for Bolt Action Rifles (In .308, .30-06, et. al.) you can get great Quality, Great Accuracy, and a GREAT Trigger, in the Savage 110 for a Better Price, period. And be very careful choosing a shotgun (Any shotgun) – since 90 % of them are laden with Gimmicks. And a 20 Ga. will give you equal stopping power to a 12 Ga. (Higher M.V. in 3 In. Magnum) – just fewer pellets.

    • High price for Glock?????? You can get a glock gen 3 G17 for $500 or less. If that is too my g to spend on a VERY reliable, proven self defense tool, then I guess you put little value into self defense.

      • NO, Paul. I put my value into a sidearm with Superb Ergonomics and Performance – so that At Least I can hit a barn wall from the inside. The Ruger is vastly better than the Glock – Any Glock.

  • The pictures chosen to accompany this article display sub-par trigger finger discipline, which is easily remedied.

  • best survival firearm is the .22 rifle. preferably one with a 10 inch barrel and folding stock which makes it concealable. it does not do any job perfectly but can do every job partly. the 2 main benefits. first is it is cheap to buy and cheap to stockpile thousands of rounds of ammo. second carrying 500 or a thousand rounds of ammo is possible. the ruger 10/22 is my preferred option. I have five of them and a couple AR22 variants. (and a 12 pump and .556)

  • “Pistols are useless for hunting, as well as any other long-range shooting. They serve one purpose and one purpose only: self-defense.

    Where did you get that from? The lol .22 LR can get small game and while not ideal can serve for self Defense if that is all you have and make good shot placement!
    REMEMBER Eskimos kill polar bears with them…..So…….
    10mm Mag is capable of taking game and in capable hands no doubt can take 100 yard shots……. .

    I like the KELTEC KSG and was contemplating getting one to replace my Mossberg 500 BullPup……..HOWEVER

    I thought about having to reload one under need…..Easy to fire it dry then what? STOP TIME OUT?? Drop the weapon
    go to handgun mode???

    So I started looking at other shoguns
    There are various AR and AK Platforms that use various sized magazines including up to a 20 round drum.
    For the Price of the KelTec KSG one could get either an AK or AR Platform and numerous magazines or drums..

    A Bolt gun…..I have a Ruger M77 in .270 Winchester I bought years ago. The ammo is easily available in most any place that sells ammo.
    I also have a Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle in ..308/7.62 NATO.

    The Remington being a great platform I see no need to my Ruger GSR……..Remington did a safety issue and lawsuits.

    The AR Survival Rifle used to be able to bu them for $75.00 USD The last time I saw a Henry Model was around or over $400.00 USD……and they still have limited capacity of what 10? 15? round magazines…….. had friend that owned an AR-7….I do not recall who made it but it had some serious issues and never worked properly!

    Ruger is making the 10-22 in a lightweight Take Down.. One an get 25 round or larger mags easily…….light and easy to carry and one does not have to burn their fingers on the barrel…….

  • Your entire article is laughable.
    That you omitted Sig Saur and Ruger American 9mm as high quality, affordable options proves the point.
    Your 15 minutes of fame are over.

  • Personal opinions will always vary but whatever is your preference, “Learn it like a brother”. Regards

  • Still not convinced Glock is “the best” handgun out there I haven’t found anything better than Browning 9mm “high power”….
    Bill is right about everybody is going to have different opinions. I think he left out several factors when choosing practical weapons like shot guns or trench guns . Mossberg 500, Remington 870 or Winchester 1300 12ga. pump with a 20” barrel and pistol grip are all very affordable and easily obtainable without restrictions. Winchester model 70 was also used by the military as a sniper rifle much smoother action and just as accurate as Remington 700..
    As for the AR-15 platform I understand the appeal to customize your own version but generally they are semi-auto so I’ll stick with the Ruger mini 14 proven to be just as reliable than anything out there. in that category. IF and when a full auto rifle is needed I’ll pick an “AR” up from somebody who isn’t using it anymore.

  • Where the AR-7 excels is as a cache firearm. Not only small but WATER RESISTANT packaging, making it safer to store for long term hiding.

  • It’s not often, but I see that I’m in disagreement with every choice and every alternative choice that’s on this list. Not only do I disagree with this list I think it’s pandering to the wannabe sect that’s out there.

    First let’s look at what these firearms would be used for and the type of individual that would be using these guns.

    A person looking to prep for a SHTF/TEOTWAWKI situation where firearms would be needed would be: “A person familiar with living off grid, trained in ground and cover, movement from cover to cover, rifle marksmanship, map reading, observation, and accurately acting upon the results of his observation.“ That’s about as good a definition of the firearms/fighting skill set of a prepper/survivalist that I can think of.

    Now, lets look at the suggested firearms that the person with the aforementioned skill set would be using. The list includes 5 outstanding firearms and their cheaper alternatives. Well looking at the list I would say no to every firearm on it because they are all pointed at the survivalist wannabe. In reality what’s needed are three firearms. A pistol, a rifle and a shotgun.

    The pistol listed in this article is a Glock in 9 mm. While nice, there are issues with this choice the biggest being safety. Glocks require a lot of training because of the trigger. Several police forces have gone away from Glocks in recent years because of accidental discharges when drawing the gun. In the case of NY PD, they have gone to the extent of having all the Glocks altered so the trigger pull is 12 pounds (5.44 kg) to mitigate the safety issue. The problem is when the pistol is grabbed the natural instant is to grasp with all four fingers and thumb. This leads to the index finger coming into contact with, and pulling the trigger. You’re better off with a pistol that has a de-cocker (SIG P-226) or manual safety (Colt 1911, Browning Hi Power).

    An even better choice for a pistol, would be one in .22 that is easily concealed with a suppressor. The Browning Buckmark and Ruger Mk 3 come to mind. Now for those who say this is a horrible choice, I would point out that (a) you can carry more .22 than 9 mm, (b) .22 ammo is cheaper which means it will not bust the bank when you train, (c) unlike the movies and TV, the little .22 is the caliber used by the majority of intelligence organizations around the world for wet work. Another nice thing about a .22 pistol is that at close range it will do what a .22 rifle can do, hunting wise.

    The hunting rifle and Ar-15 can all be replaced with a general purpose rifle. Now what is a general purpose rifle? Col. Jeff Cooper said this about it: “The general-purpose rifle will do equally well for all but specialized hunting, as well as for fighting; thus it must be powerful enough to kill any living target of reasonable size. If you insist upon a definition of ‘reasonable size’, let us introduce an arbitrary mass figure of about 1,000 lb (454 kg).” Well that takes the AR platform out of the picture and as for the Remington 700, it’s cumbersome and heavy and as a guy who once carried a rifle (FNC1-A1, 10 pounds empty) for a living, I hate cumbersome and heavy. The rifle that fits this bill is the Ruger Scout in 7.62 mm. With a good LER optic, anything within 800 meters is toast if that’s what you want.

    As for the listed shotgun, while the KelTec looks sexy, do you really want to bet your life on the quality of KelTec? Then there is the replacement shotgun. At 9.3 pounds empty isn’t exactly a featherweight, and a price tag of $1395 the Standard Manufacturing DP-12 ain’t exactly cheap. You are better off getting a Maverick 12G with a 14-inch barrel plus another barrel at 28-inch that can be used for bird hunting. With light loads the Maverick can also do the job of the .22 and can be taken down and stored in a case.

    Well that’s my two cents worth, may the mud slinging begin.

    • Hi all,
      Interesting selection of firearms.
      I suggest everyone either buy a compound or crossbow for hunting. As well,as a muzzle loader and save the modern ones for when they needed.

  • Damn, this audience is brutal! For me whatever I am most familiar with and comfortable with is the best choice. A well-placed shot from any gun is the best.

  • Glad to see Mossberg MMR Tactical 5.56mm make your list I don’t ever see much about it .think there a great weapon. Thanks.

  • Mike, I did carefully read and enjoy your comments. I can see we’re lined up on a lot.
    Bill, You Already Know – I Like, Enjoy, and Benefit from your articles. But on this one
    I must Disagree on a number of points. My commentary in January was short and thin.
    I have decided to flesh out my opinions – just a bit, anyway !
    Item 1.) The Glock 17 (or any Glock, for that matter) has worse Ergonomics than
    a $2 kids cap pistol. If you are going to spend money (no pistol is cheap), I can honestly
    recommend the CZ75 in its original form. The Ruger 9mm’s come in pretty close, too.
    Item 2.) For Hunting style rifles, the Remington 700 is a good choice – Good Trigger
    and Excellent Accuracy. The .308 Caliber (NATO 7.62) is a good choice, but I like the
    .30-06 Springfield better. For a Lightweight Rifle, the Savage 110 is Unbeatable – Best
    Trigger and Superb Accuracy.
    Item 3.) Why buy a .22 LR Survival Anything, when Ruger is producing such excellent
    survival type weapons in 9mm. Buy the 9mm +P’s, and you are good to go.
    Item 4.) As for shotguns, my comment in January sums that Item up pretty well.
    Item 5.) If you insist on some version of the AR-15, At Least do yourself a favor
    and Install a New Barrel for the AAC .300 Blackout. You are Far Better Off.
    And I Do Not bow down before the altar of designer Eugene Stoner. Case Closed.
    The Russian Made AK-47 is W-a-a-y Ahead, anyway.

  • Hey Bill
    Just have to throw in my 02 cents. I was a licensed hunting guide in ID, MT, and WY for 40 years. Now retired as a pro utility pilot and flew in at least 40 countries and hunted in many of them. Learned long range pistol shooting with none other than Elmer Keith. Like one or two others who contribute to your newsletter, I am also Distinguished Pistol and Prez 100 along with a many year HP Master card, etc, etc. Years ago I wrote an article for SWAT magazine and included the Rem 700 in 30/06, the Rem 870 in 12ga as the heavy hitters. I carried a Ruger .44Mag as a guide but have shot more than a million rounds of 45 ACP alone, and can make anyone dig a hole out to 300+ yards with one. Did training with Cooper in 1980. I’ve been shot a number of times and took notes. The fact I am still here tends to lend credence to my opinions. All too many people think they can just buy a pistol, rifle, shotgun and a box of ammo and are good to go. No serious training and no serious mind set. They won’t last 3 days if/when the SHTF.
    I’ve gotten some good stuff from your blogs but have to chuckle at some of it. Keep up the good work and I’ll chime in from time to time.
    Best Regards and Semper Fi