A good takedown rifle may perhaps be one of the greatest tools in your arsenal of survival gear: It provides personal defense, the ability to hunt and take meat, it’s compact and typically lightweight, and it conceals when not in use.
We’re covering the top takedown rifles of 2020, including the conventional .22 LR series made popular decades ago, and newer pistol-caliber and centerfire rifle variants.
Ruger 10/22 Takedown Rifle
- MSRP: $439.00
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Barrel Length: 18.50”
- OAL: 37”
- Weight: 4.6 lbs
Short n’ sweet: The legendary 10/22 was always a favorite among preppers. Now it boasts a toolless take-down feature for easy storage and carrying.
Ruger’s 10/22 provides all the hallmarks of a great “SHTF” rifle: It’s incredibly accurate, lightweight, reliable, holds a bunch of ammo without the weight, and it can take small game and any critter for a lean meal. Ruger recognized that even the compact 10/22 might not satisfy the needs of the backpacking prepper or survivalist, so they installed a toolless take-down feature right in front of the receiver. It’s one of the most popular takedown rifles ever, and we even covered it in detail with an individual review.
Broken in two, the rifle’s barrel end measures 18.5” with the receiver and buttstock end measuring exactly the same. That gives a total length of 37” when assembled. The TD variant of the 10/22 functions exactly like any other Ruger .22 in the series, including the same 25-round rotary magazine and trigger. Coming in at 4.6 pounds, the TD 10/22 isn’t any heavier than a standard Ruger, thanks to a new buttstock made from hollow polymer. For the break-down function, you’ll only pay an extra $80 to $100 over the conventional 10/22.
U.S. Survival (Henry) AR-7 Rifle
- MSRP: $311.00
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Barrel Length: 16.125”
- OAL: 35”
- Weight: 3.5 lbs
Short n’ sweet: The famous AR-7 has been used by downed Air Force pilots and minimalist survivalists who want a semiauto rifle that’s as small and light as possible.
The Henry AR-7 first saw service tucked into the cockpits of wartime pilots just in case they were shot down in the deep country and needed an emergency weapon. Today, this svelte takedown rifle still holds a top spot as a favorite among those who want a truly tiny rifle with a lot of capability.
Weighing just 3.5 pounds, the AR-7 can literally float on water when stowed in its sealed buttstock. The entire rifle fits inside the stock, in fact, with room for spare magazines and some loose ammo to boot. With a 16” barrel it manages good accuracy, and two 8-round box magazines provide enough ammo for emergencies. The AR-7 ditches most features – the receiver has no feed ramps and relies on the magazines’ own ramps, and it has no handguard or forward grip – to keep costs down and reliability up. Simple open-leaf sights provide a basic sight picture, while the top of the receiver comes with a small Picatinny rail for a scope or optics.
Since it’s one of the easiest takedown rifles to carry, it made it on our list of top survival rifles.
Marlin 39A TDS Takedown Lever-Action Rifle
- MSRP: Discontinued
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Barrel Length: 16.5”
- OAL: 32.5”
- Weight: 5.2 lbs.
Short n’ sweet: The 39A TDS provides a classically reliable lever-action with loads of ammo capacity, swapping out that fixed receiver for a take-down option that requires no tools.
Lever-action rifles provide all the benefits of a traditional semiautomatic rifle with the advantage of tucking the magazine away, reducing the overall height and bulk of the rifle, and increasing accuracy. Shoot it slow and steady, or rack the slide as fast as you need. The 39A captures that feel with the ability to stow away just like any other take-down rimfire.
The TDS provides a 16.25” barrel with a short overall length of just 32”, while still affording a comfortable rubberized wood stock and wood handguard. The tube magazine holds 15 rounds, plenty of capacity without a box mag sticking out from the bottom. These rifles are sought after and difficult to find, with their only downside being the high prices they command at auction. You can find a reliable model for sale occasionally, commanding around $800 to $1,200.
Chiappa Little Badger Rifle
- MSRP: $216.00
- Caliber: .22 LR, .22 WMR
- Barrel Length: 16.5”
- OAL: 31”
- Weight: 2.9 lbs.
Short n’ sweet: The Little Badger is even simpler than the AR-7 – and that makes it perhaps the cheapest and most reliable takedown rifle ever designed.
For some, even a skeletonized semiauto like the AR-7 is still too much gun. Instead, you might want a rifle that you could comfortably pick up with your pinky finger. You want something that doesn’t need any sort of magazine. You want the cheapest possible rifle that just works. That would be the Little Badger from Chiappa.
This break-top action rifle folds down into a neat little triangle just 17” long, perfect for storing in even a small day pack. The receiver’s main swivel pin can be replaced with a pull pin to break the rifle in half completely. Chambered in .22 LR or .22 WMR, it carries a simple little bandolier on the buttstock for holding extra rounds. At just 31” in total length and weighing less than 3 pounds, it’s the smallest rimfire takedown rifle you can find on the market at this time. Plenty of Picatinny rails are provided for adding a pistol grip and scope, with basic M1-style iron sights providing the default sight picture.
Savage Model 42 Takedown Rifle/Shotgun
- MSRP: $429.99
- Caliber: .22 LR, .410 ga.
- Barrel Length: 20.0”
- OAL: 35.75”
- Weight: 6.1 lbs.
Short n’ sweet: The Henry Model 42 is a commercial successor to the retired M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon, designed for the armed forces before the AR-7’s debut.
The M6 Survival Weapon was a weird, finicky takedown weapon (not just a rifle) made in the ’50s for aircrews before the AR-7 took its place. This unique rifle/shotgun combo provided some extra power with a shot-shell barrel strapped underneath the rimfire’s business end, allowing one to take a bigger game, or defend against a predator or man-size target.
But the M6 had some quirks in its construction and fell out of favor, so Savage took the design and reinvented it. The Model 42 Takedown provides that same unique barrel combo, offering a highly accurate 20” .22 LR barrel for varmint and a .410 bore shotgun barrel for deer and personal defense. This robust takedown rifle breaks at the receiver into two equal-length halves. It has a comfortable stock and length of pull, with a decent grip and handguard. It ditches the ultra-lightweight savings for some firepower, making it a great choice for the prepper or survivalist expecting to run into some bigger game.
KelTec SUB2000 Folding Carbine
- MSRP: $556.00
- Caliber: .9mm, .40 S&W
- Barrel Length: 16.25”
- OAL: 30.5”
- Weight: 4.25 lbs.
Short n’ sweet: Although a bit pricier, the SUB2000 is the perfect folding pistol-caliber carbine for those who want a little more power than the typical rimfire cartridge.
Rimfire rifles are great for small game, but they lack the punch needed for bigger targets or sizeable threats. And not everyone wants a break-action rifle like the Savage 42. Pistol calibers can hold their own against intermediate centerfire rifles when given a long enough barrel, so that’s what KelTec did with their folding SUB2000 PCC. Available in 9mm or .40 S&W with a 16.25” barrel, the SUB2000 can easily take a larger game at distance and provides a lightweight platform.
It also makes for one of the most compact takedown guns on our list, measuring just 16.25” when folded. Blowback operation allows for semiauto fire without heavy or bulky gas systems, so the entire thing still weighs less than a Ruger 10/22 TD. The SUB2000 can take Glock magazines, a huge convenience if you already own a G-series pistol, or you can opt for KelTec’s “multi-mag” configuration which is said to work with Smith and Wesson M&P, Sig P226, Beretta 92 and 96, ZA 75, and Canik TP9 mags.
KelTec SU16 Takedown Rifle
- MSRP: $678.00
- Caliber: 5.56 NATO, .223 Remington
- Barrel Length: 18.5”
- OAL: 37.4”
- Weight: 6.0 lbs.
Short n’ sweet: The SU16 is just like any other folding takedown rifle, except it ditches the rimfire cartridge for a proper 5.56 NATO or .223 Remington centerfire chamber.
For quite a while, a lot of survivalists and woodsmen wondered why takedown rifles were only found chambered with rimfire .22 cartridges. KelTec and saw an opportunity and decided to introduce the SU16, one of a series of 5.56/.223 rifles that affords the same size and performance as, say, a Ruger, but with the power required for properly taking most bigger game.
It’s a helluva lot more expensive than those rimfire rifles, to be sure, but in exchange, you’re getting a proper takedown rifle that affords effective accuracy beyond 300 meters with semiauto fire, a gas piston, a box mag well (including the ability to take AR mags), a comfortable stock and handguard that doubles as a bipod, and AR-15 internals for the bolt and trigger mechanisms. Unloaded, it weighs just 5 pounds and folds down to only 26.4”, making it light and easy to carry as a proper TD rifle should afford.
AR-15 Rifle or Pistol
- MSRP: $500.00 to over $1,500
- Caliber: 5.56 NATO, .223 Remington, 300 Blackout, 6.5 Creedmoor, 9mm, .308 Winchester
- Barrel Length: 7.5” to 24”
- OAL: 37.4”
- Weight: 5.0 lbs. to 8.5 lbs.
The AR-15 isn’t traditionally considered a takedown rifle, even though it truly is: Pop both the front pivot pin and rear takedown pins out of the upper and lower receivers, and you have a centerfire rifle that’s small enough to fit inside a backpack. With how saturated the AR parts market has become, it’s easy to build a lightweight, compact rifle or pistol that’s even more capable than the SU16. After all, we are talking about the same platform currently used by the armed forces.
While it doesn’t afford full-auto capability (unless you’re a Class 3 gun dealer), the AR-15 is perhaps the most capable takedown rifle. It can be configured as a pistol with a sub-16” barrel and pistol brace, or you can stick with the minimum-legal-length 16” barrel and make a rifle that can reach targets up to 500 to 600 meters with a .308 chamber. Since so many AR-15 makers exist, it’s difficult to put a price tag on a decent rifle, but most can be built piecemeal for around $500 to $600. The typical rifle can weigh as little as 5.0 pounds empty. Those who choose the AR-15 for their takedown rifle of choice can also enjoy building one unregistered. 80% lowers exist for this platform, allowing you to build a rifle “off the books”. The media dubiously nicknames these weapons “ghost guns”, but there are plenty of good reasons for any survivalist to own one.
Kevin | July 20, 2020
I would have been surprised if the AR platform rifle had not been included in this list. It’s quicker to break down and reassemble than most think. And, with a 10-round mag already in place, you can “get started” easily without the risk of a longer mag hanging up when trying to remove the rifle from your back pack.
Doug Cox | September 24, 2020
The AR15 platform can also become a dual cartridge rifle with the addition of the bolt and mag kit for .22LR the armed forces use for entry or indoor training on the rifle. This easily installed kit allows rhe AR platform to be used as a small game survival rifle. It does usually print the target with a different point of impact though, so you should mark your sight adjustments for that on a piece of tape on the stock.
Phantom30 | July 20, 2020
No you can’t make an AR-15 into 6.5mm Creedmoor or 308 Winchester. Those calibers must be on the larger, AR-10 or LR 308 frames, but not an AR-15. However, you can make an AR-15 into a 6mm ARC long range weapon. The ability to swap uppers is an attribute of the AR-15. But the best take down weapon for around the homestead is Black Aces Tactical Bullpup magazine fed 12ga shotgun. It is more effective than a 9mm submachine gun. Works for urban, suburban and around the house rural application. Plus you can hunt deer, birds, drones, and anarchists with it.
Chuck Wilson | July 20, 2020
You mean you can poach drones and anarchists.
Phantom30 | July 21, 2020
NO, I don’t think so. I would not be taking game by illegal methods. If an anarchist is invading my property and using drones to assist I whack’em both. The government paid me a lot of money to whack Marxists over the years why would it be any different now. Rules of engagement honored, authority justified. Whack’em I use the term anarchist as a surrogate for specific groups which I would be not PC to Identify. PC powder coat.
May be you don’t like the term hunt because of the implied intent. Home defense is not always just reactionary.
SurvivorByDesign | July 2, 2021
Steven S, Wasilla Alaska | July 20, 2020
Hi Travis, good article. I resently did a build with a Ruger 10/22 Take Down Charger pistol. I wanted to make a light weight, accurate trail and camping companion. One problem with other .22 caliber pistols is the spring for the slide weakens over time and use. The 10/22 Charger isn’t as susceptible to that problem. The Charger is inherently accurate. So I put the pistol through some changes before assembling it in a Chassis system from MI Industry’s. I swaped out the slide stop for a Volquartsons, the std magazine release for an exstended one, and a exstended bolt handle. I put a SB pistol brace with a foldind stock feature and a Magpul Plus pistol grip. I installed a 32 hole comp on the factory threaded barrel, a Trijicon RMR with bright amber triangle retical. It has no batterys, just passive lighting and Tritium for low to no light illumination. So I utilized a top of receiver RMR mounting plate. Overall an excellent setup. Now I’m waiting for my Franklin Armory 22-c1 binary trigger for it and that should complete the project. I have a few of the Ruger factory’s 25 round, clear, magazines to help keep up with the trigger upgrade.
Bill In Idaho | September 24, 2020
Why not an M-4 with a AAC Blackout .300 Barrel – all else is just fine as original.
Anthony Truppa | July 20, 2020
Did you take a look at the Ruger PC9….. it’s an awesome option for a take down rifle with a better punch at 9mm vs the multiple .22 cals you mentioned. Bonus…. it uses Glock mags so if your side arm is a G19 or G17 there’s a lot of versatility in your load out.
merlin grayman | July 20, 2020
” The ability to swap uppers is an attribute of the AR-15. ”
you can also swap uppers on an ar-10 platform.
Phantom30 | July 20, 2020
yes you can but I brought up AR-10 They didn’t
MikeF | July 20, 2020
You hunt deer with a .410? I prefer something with a greater chance of a quick kill.
ed | April 16, 2022
.410 can also fire a 45lc
William Halford | July 20, 2020
You say “The TD variant of the 10/22 functions exactly like any other Ruger .22 in the series, including the same 25-round rotary magazine and trigger.” But even though they all can use the 25 round magazine, there’s only one takedown version that has the 25 round magazine included, and it’s a Davidson’s Distributor Exclusive. All of the rest have the standard 10 round magazine included.
You say “The Henry Model 42 is a commercial successor to the retired M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon”. And then you say “But the M6 had some quirks in its construction and fell out of favor, so Savage took the design and reinvented it.” No, that’s the SAVAGE Model 42, and it’s not based on the M6. It’s Chiappa that produces an improved version of the M6, which is also called the M6.
And you really should have included the Chiappa M6 in this article, as it qualifies for the article.
vocalpatriot | September 14, 2020
My opinion…some really good choices here. There may be better, but these are certainly top shelf ideas.
Higherview | September 24, 2020
This is a good article with some good ideas and suggestions. I own and use all but one of the weapons on this list in one form or another. For instance my AR-7 is an original one made by Charter Arms many years ago, and my Savage 24 is an old wood stock version in 30/30 twenty gauge (I have also owed one in .22 LR and 20 Gauge.) A couple other suggestions are a the Baikal over / under, if you can find one in 30-06 or .308 over a 12 Gauge. Then there is the sweet marlin Papoose in .22 long rifle. It is lighter and handier than the Ruger .22 takedown and great for back-packing or woods wondering and it takes up less room in the pack, boat or truck than the other. I also have a prized Savage 99 take-down in .300 Savage that also has .22-250 and .410 barrels that can be switched as needed. All in all, a take-down rifle or shotgun or combination gun or two is a great choice for all around use and survival situations.
William Halford | December 25, 2020
I’d like to see an affordable takedown .22 bolt action rifle, such as one from Ruger based on the American Rimfire, preferably offered with the Magpul Backpacker stock and the same takedown system that the 10/22 Takedown uses. I like the reliability and simplicity of a bolt action rifle, and without the feeding problems that some semiautos can have with .22 LR ammo. Tactical Solutions has one, and I like it, but it’s more than $1,000 MSRP.
Paulihno | January 8, 2021
I’d said for the first time it was good