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Is .22 Long Rifle Good for Survial Rifle Use?

survival rifle feature

Table of Contents

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy are going to discuss .22 Long Rifle in the context of a survival rifle. .22 caliber cartridges have been employed for survival and outdoors-oriented purposes for generations. Our goal with this blog post is to go over the traits and features of .22 Long Rifle survival rifles in addition to other considerations. Without further ado, lets see if .22 Long Rifle is good for survival rifle use.


What is .22 Long Rifle?

Arguably one of the most popular calibers in existence, the .22 Long Rifle made its debut in 1887. Introduced a year after the introduction of viable smokeless powder, the .22 Long Rifle quickly took advantage of the benefits of the newer type of propellant. While .22 Short and .22 Long loadings initially used black powder, the smokeless powder utilized by firearms after 1886 made for a more efficient and effective propellant. In a departure from the .22 Long, the .22 Long Rifle is able to reliably function in semi-automatic firearms. Semi-automatic pistols and rifles in .22 Long Rifle are some of the most common firearms owned by shooters in the United States. While the cartridge functions in semi-automatic firearms, it also works well in manual action handguns and rifles such as revolvers and bolt action rifles.


What Do We Mean by Survival Rifle?

For the context of this blog, we are going to define a survival rifle as something one would reasonably carry with them on an outing or have stowed in case of an emergency. These rifles can be in traditional form factors or in takedown models, easily broken down and stored with other pieces of equipment. Purpose-built survival rifles are generally going to be compact in nature, maintaining a sleek form factor for storage purposes and to make it easier to negotiate brush and brambles. Additionally, these types of firearms are generally designed to be as lightweight as possible. The lightweight nature of survival rifles makes them easily carried in the field, whether in the hands of a user or on a sling.

These types of rifles are different from traditional style firearms and those designed for uses such as hunting. Often times, traditional styled rifles or shotguns are pressed into use as survival arms out of necessity. While they can certainly get the job done, they are usually much larger and heavier than some of the more optimal survival rifles.

Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle
Henry AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle
AR-7 Survival Rifles
AR-7 Survival Rifles

Historical Examples

Historically, survival rifles have been employed by the United States military in a variety of forms. Noteworthy examples include the M4 Survival Rifle, ArmaLite AR-5 (MA-1), and M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon. These rifles are among some of the notable survival rifles employed by the United States Air Force during the 20th century. While the ArmaLite designed AR-7 never saw use by the United States military, it was utilized by Israeli air crews and pilots as a survival weapon. In the case of the Israeli’s, the AR-7 replaced the Beretta M1951 pistols that were issued at the time. These survival rifles were meant to aid a downed pilot or members of an air crew by providing them with a means to procure food in the wilderness.


Who Makes Survival Rifles?

At this point in time, there are a number of companies who produce .22 Long Rifle chambered rifles good for use as survival rifles. Some examples are specifically marketed and designed to be optimal for survival use.  The Savage Arms 42 Takedown and Henry Repeating Arms AR-7 U.S. Survival Rifle are two notable examples of modern production rifles marketed specifically as survival rifles. The 42 Takedown notably features a .410 bore barrel beneath the upper .22 Long Rifle barrel, providing the user with two calibers. The Henry AR-7 features detachable magazines and is capable of being broken down and stored within its stock, making it easily stowed.

Additionally, Ruger notably offers Takedown variants of the 10/22 rifle. These models often include a backpack intended to store the broken-down rifle and can be had with stocks which optimize their use as survival rifles. For example, Magpul’s X-22 Backpacker Stock for the 10/22 Takedown allows an end user to store three 10 round magazines within the stock. The Magpul stock offering also allows an end user to attach the removed barrel on the stock and receiver, allowing for a compact storage option.


Availability of Ammunition

At this point in time, the market has a wide variety of .22 Long Rifle ammunition available. The cartridge is supported by loadings offered by manufacturers around the world. Companies such as Aguila, Armscor, Norma, CCI, and Remington are among some of the producers of .22 Long Rifle ammo. Everything from general purpose loadings to specialty loadings for things such as hunting, suppressed shooting, and match use are produced by ammunition manufacturers. If a customer is wanting .22 Long Rifle ammunition, they will have zero issue finding ammo.


Light Recoil

The .22 Long Rifle notably features light recoil, making it easy for shooters of all skill levels to employ. The light recoil and flat shooting nature of firearms chambered in .22 Long Rifle make it easy for shooters to make quick follow up shots. Additionally, it is unlikely that a shooter will disrupt their sight picture when shooting .22 Long Rifle ammunition, allowing them to keep their sights on target. This aids in tracking and acquiring targets and also facilitates fast follow up shots. Recoil is even more tame when .22 Long Rifle is utilized in a rifle as the additional weight and more generous areas to hold the rifle afford the user more control. The light recoil of the cartridge and its benefits make the cartridge well-suited to survival rifle use.


Hunting Applications

The .22 Long Rifle cartridge is known to be suitable for pest control applications effectively dispatches a variety of small game. Things such as rabbits, squirrels, foxes, and other small game are among game which can be ethically hunted with .22 Long Rifle.

The ability to dispatch small game is an important quality that a survival rifle must have. This capability helps ensure that an end user has a tool for food procurement if the need arises. Simply put, the .22 Long Rifle cartridge is suitable for ethical hunting when one uses the proper ammunition and pursues appropriate game. The cartridge has persisted in this use for well over a century and shows no sign of going away any time soon.



Generally speaking, .22 Long Rifle chambered firearms and ammunition tend to be quite affordable when compared to other calibers. Centerfire rifle cartridges tend to be significantly more expensive than their .22 Long Rifle counterparts. Rimfire cartridges also tend to come in larger quantities than most centerfire offerings as well, giving shooters more ammo for their money. Additionally, rimfire firearms tend to be significantly cheaper than many centerfire firearms.

A low financial barrier of entry makes the .22 Long Rifle and firearms chambered in the cartridge well-suited for survival rifle use. At a certain point, the best survival rifle is the one you can afford to own and have with you. The affordable nature of .22 Long Rifle ammo and firearms makes this an achievable reality.

Winchester .22 Long Rifle
Winchester .22 Long Rifle

Limitations of the Cartridge

Understandably, the .22 Long Rifle cartridge has its limitations. There are certainly more optimal cartridges for self-defense purposes and for hunting applications. The goal of a survival rifle is not to be a big game hunting rifle. Nor is it to be a defensive weapon one needs to be able to go to war with. The survival rifle is meant to be a handy rifle which is more than capable of performing realistic tasks conducive to one’s survival. Procurement of food, providing some form of defensive capability, and being portable are among some of the most important traits of a survival rifle.

Simply put, you will be best served by a larger caliber if you are after a more “all-round” type rifle. A larger, more potent caliber will be more conducive to both defensive use and for dispatching wider variety of game. The .22 Long Rifle is ultimately lacking in these uses when compared to rounds such as the 5.56x45mm NATO, .308 Winchester, and 7.62×39 to name a few. That being said, many of the platforms for these calibers will not be as compact or handy as a .22 Long Rifle chambered survival rifle. Some exceptions exist in the form of AR style pistols and short barreled rifles, but these types of firearms may be restricted in some areas and compromise on things such as velocity.



All in all, the .22 Long Rifle is a viable choice for survival rifle when one is realistic with their expectations and intended use cases. There are obviously other, more potent cartridges which can dispatch larger game and defend against dangerous game. That being said, the effectiveness of the .22 Long Rifle as a survival rifle cartridge cannot be understated. We stock a wide range of .22 LR ammunition in addition to the other offerings we carry. Whether you are after .22 LR ammo or something else, we here at True Shot Ammo have got you covered. As always, happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.


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