Still Relevant?

I’ve been thinking about the SHTF thing recently (as one does), and a random thought occurred to me:  is the venerable AR-7 Survival Rifle still a consideration for inclusion in Ye Olde Bugge Out Bagge?  Here’s the original Armalite AR-7:

I tested one of these puppies many years ago, and I was seriously underwhelmed.  I tried at least half a dozen different types and brands of .22 LR, and I got either flawless feeding and crappy accuracy, or decent accuracy and a 1:3 jam rate.  So I wrote the thing off as a waste of time — just another gimmick.

However, time has passed and the AR-7 has now become the property of Henry Repeating Company — and they’ve made some changes, all for the better.  So the question comes up again:  is the little AR-7 still relevant as a SHTF option?

Apparently, it is — or at least, these guys seem to think so.

And I really like what Henry’s done with it.  The component stowage has been tidied up:

Of course, the packed-up rifle is still not only waterproof, but it floats as well:

…and the addition of a high-viz front sight and scope rail, in my opinion, has made all the difference.

So the original concept has been refined enough so that it is, at least, a viable little firearm — and Henry’s creation of an accompanying mini-bug-out pack (see the first link) has made it all the more appealing.

Nevertheless, I’m still a little dubious about the AR-7, and here’s why.  If one is wandering around in the wilderness after the S has HTF, the whole palaver of having to assemble the rifle into an operating firearm is somewhat time-consuming — and given the exigencies of such a scenario, wouldn’t one want the thing to be ready at all times?

(And I’m not going to get into the argument about whether the .22 LR cartridge is a viable SHTF option because it is, in the function for which it is intended:  popping small game for the pot.  No problem with that.)

My question is that since a modern SHTF scenario involves not only wandering around in some post-apocalyptic landscape looking for squirrel snacks, but avoiding (or at worst, fending off) feral critters of the human persuasion, would the .22 requirement not be better served by a longish-barreled handgun such as the 10-round capacity S&W 617, worn on the hip?

Sure, the 16″ barrel of the AR-7 is always going to be more accurate than the 6″ barrel of the 617, but in reality, if one is potting critters over unscoped sights, the shorter distances in practice make the issue somewhat moot, I think.  And if we’re going to insist on a semi-auto .22 firearm, then there’s always the Buckmark URX Contour, with a 7″ barrel (and rail for a scope/red-dot arrangement):

Here’s what I think, at the end of all this.  I like the AR-7 concept, a lot.  I think that as a “stow away and forget about it” addendum to the trunk of your car or storage space in your truck — especially with that survival pack — it’s a winner.  Henry’s rather clever payoff line for the AR-7 is “Don’t leave civilization without it”, and I sorta-agree with that.

But I think that as a SHTF tool, the .22 LR function would be better left to a handgun, while the actual survival  function is delegated to an AR-15 or AK-47.  But that  said, there’s nothing wrong with having an ultra-lightweight rifle in your hands or in your backpack, either.

As you can see, I’m hopelessly conflicted about the AR-7.  Feel free to untangle, explain or even cast insults upon my thoughts, in Comments.  All such would be quite welcome.

24 comments

  1. I’ve been thinking about an AR7 for a long time and my view is pretty much like yours, though I see no point in the pistol comparison. Any rifle will always be more accurate than a pistol, at distance.

    Having said that, the AR7 has no benefit, that I can see, other than the “I wanted it” notion. There are other guns much better. I will probably get one at some point and keep it behind the seat in the truck with my other survival stuff. I’ll probably get the black one with nuthin fancy, after all, it’s a truck gun. I will have a box of extra loaded magazines though.

  2. Very Interesting, when I was a .22 LR shooting kid in the 1950’s I thought this would be an ideal gun because it looked cool and broke down so it could fit in a backpack, we did a lot of camping out and fishing. You could have a neat rifle that is not to obvious but use it to shoot turtles and snakes when you got bored fishing. I also knew that the fiberglass/plastic stocks at the time were not worth shit because I had a single shot 20 ga. with a stock that we could never correct to a solid fit and that was the first gun I ever sold when I was 15 years old.

    It appears that this neat .22 rifle could be great to keep in a boat, airplane or off road vehicle, kind of out of sight but there if you needed to put a rabid rabbit down or wanted squirrel for dinner. At 3.5 pounds and with a selling price of about $230 (I looked it up just now) that is not a bad price for a gun that might never have more than a few hundred rounds shot through it but it would be there if you needed it. At my old age in my mid 70’s I will not be running through the woods and I have enough choices in truck guns so I am not the target audience for this neat rifle.

  3. Ruger makes a Takedown 10/22 that looks like it might be a better rifle, but I’m not convinced I need it enough to spend $450 on one. I already have a CZ452, and I don’t see myself walking out with a .22 unless 99% of the population is dead and I need to shoot squirrels to eat.

  4. I picked up a used one many moons ago (10+ years) because it was there on the sale table, had the money, and was filling out paperwork on another rifle at the time so why not?

    Not as comfortable or accurate as my old Glenfield Model 20, not as accurate or portable as my Buckmark, but it does ride nicely under the back seat of the truck. But it’s accurate enough and better than throwing rocks in a SHTF situation. Glad I have it, not sure I’d pay full retail price. (Of course I haven’t done a close comparison between what I have and the current version.)

    Besides, you never know when you might need to shoot down a SPECTER Helicopter! 😉

  5. I had an AR-7 decades ago, made by Armalite…horrible build, finish was about like dunking it in a bucket of paint, not terribly accurate, the barrel nut would back off during firing. Almost impossible to adjust the sight (rear).

    The worst thing about it is that it only stores one magazine, which seems terribly inadequate. Two or three would be better.

    For my money, a Ruger take-down, which can be had with a threaded barrel for a can…

  6. I have an AR-7 and the Ruger 10/22 takedown. I like them both. Neither feeds well with cheap 22 ammo, but they shoot flawlessly for hours if you have good ammo. I searched around awhile and found some extra magazines for the AR-7 so I now have about ten of them. It’s a nice little rifle. The 10/22 is like any other 10/22, but it doesn’t float and it’s heavier than the AR-7. Either way, they are both good guns. The 10/22 can use any 10/22 magazine, so you have a lot more than 8 rounds. Both are nice, but then I already said that.

  7. Agree with many points already mentioned.

    If I have any inkling that I may need a gun, it will be in my hands. The AR-7 is a backup gun.

    It is perfect if you are traveling by canoe. Maybe less so here in Texas. Still, it is nice sealed unit that can be tossed in your truck and left there.

    If I were going to pick a rimfire handgun, I would likely go with the Kel-Tec PMR30. Very light weight and 30 rounds of 22WMR in the mag.

    At my age, I will be bugging in, not out. Not runnin’ and gunnin’, more like sneakin’ and peakin’. With apologies to Mr. Selleck, I just never had much use for one. A suppressed 10-22 loaded with 40gr hollow points @ 1400 fps? Hmmm.

  8. I remember as a young man thinking how neat that package was. But it’s clearly a compromise, where you get less reliability and accuracy but a really cool takedown and storage. Without quick access.

    I think there’s some similarity to my search for a truck gun in here. Something small enough, powerful enough, accurate enough, reliable enough, and cheap enough. Compromises all around, again, but quick access without complicated assembly is important. I looked into the Ruger takedown pistol caliber carbines.

    I went with a very cheap AR pistol instead: https://www.classicfirearms.com/ati-gomx556p4b-omni-hybrid-pstl-7in-30rd/

    I have a case that is designed to hold an AR-15 broken down into 2 pieces, upper and lower separated. It doesn’t look like a rifle case; it looks like the bag in the picture you showed in the post, only longer. The pistol fits fully assembled. The case hangs on the seat back and I can get it out with one pull of a zipper, and I have 6 fully loaded magazines quick to hand. No assembly required.

    I think the AR-7 is one of those theoretical, on paper, very good ideas that doesn’t quite work out in the real world.

    But it definitely does fit the first rule of gunfighting. Have a gun.

  9. We are all men (and women) of our times. As a youngin I fell in love wit the AR7 from the Bond films…From Russia and Goldfinger. Yes in love also with the Masterson girls in the latter. Wowzer Shirley Eaton !

    So in my safe is the Henry AR7. Found that std vel ammo tended to cause ftf. Needs a little more umph. So go with hi vel, not hyper vel, ammo. Love the little gun.

    As I got the bug for SHTF guns, I also picked up a break down 10/22 … total my own custom job built off of Brownells stripped railed reciever. A new ruger PCC in 9mm. Love it. A kel tec SU16 with ar sights. Love it…and it has the muzzle energy for two legged critters…and a 1895 winchester takedown in 405 winchester. Good enough for Teddy….good enough for me. With energy for anything in north america.

    The task is not to wittle down the choices but to acquire ALL the choices.lol

    BTW…with regard to 10/22s…highly recommend getting the volquartson auto bolt stop part. It replaces the idiotic ruger bolt stop and lets you run the dang gun the way it should run. Best 10 bucks I have have ever spent. Put them in the several ruger 10/22 trigger packs I have.

  10. I thought about getting one. Decided against the idea. I chose instead a .410 Snake Charmer. Still light portable, fits easily under seat. Can be broken down for packing. Shoots slugs and shot, works on large halibut when I am fishing.

  11. I’m not much of a prepper type, but a few years ago when ammunition was scarce, I bought one of those gauge adapter sets that essentially turns your single shot 12 gauge shotgun into a pistol. Frankly, I’ve only used it as a lark, but it seems to do well. I don’t think there’s anything simpler than a single shot shotgun; I bought mine at a local pawn shop for fifty bucks. And once you have that, you can shoot any ammunition that you have a converter for. I have better accuracy with the adapter than I do with a real pistol, mostly (I think) because I’m more stable when I fire the long gun, even though the “barrel” of the adapter is only about seven inches long.

  12. > Of course, the packed-up rifle is still not only waterproof, but it floats as well:

    So, no boating accidents… 🙂

  13. Don’t most all single and double shotguns break down?
    A savage over under with a .22 or .22mag over a 12 or 20ga gives tremendous versatility for a walk-
    a brenneke slug would be fine deer-bear medicine and one shot of .22 should work ok on small game.

  14. I considered one, but went with the Springfield M-6 instead. It isn’t waterproof, won’t disappear in its stock, It doesn’t fold up as nicely as the military version, thanks to the trigger guard, but it does shoot .410 shot or slugs, in addition to .22lr. It won’t chamber .45 Long Colt, because of the rudimentary breech mechanism, but it does shoot something a bit more potent than .22lr, in case .22lr doesn’t do the job.
    And I think it could shoot down a SPECTRE helicopter just as well as the AR-7. 😉

  15. Charter Arms used to bundle their “Pathfinder” model with both a .22 LR and a .22 Magnum cylinder.

    If I was expecting to use a .22 for self defense. I’d have to check the accuracy of each, because only hits count, but assuming acceptable accuracy, I’d use the magnums for self defense and the LR for most of the hunting.

    Having the Magnum around for slightly larger game would be a bonus.

    I wonder about putting a scope on one.

  16. Had one for a decade or so (one of the old Charter Arms versions IIRC.) OK, not great. Lack of a forend makes actual rifle shooting somewhat difficult.

    The one thing that sticks out in my mind is that it is the only firearm I’ve ever owned that I was able to take apart – and I mean COMPLETELY apart – and put back together, every nut, bol and screw. And this was in the days before YouTube also! The mechanism is (or was) stone-axe simple.

    Still. I have to say that in my thinking, in terms of “survival”, semi-auto is inferior to a simple single shot of the M6 variety. Semi auto is great if you are aiming at 2 legged targets, but, really, you’re not going to be doing that with a .22 are you? The semi-auto action adds a lot of complexity that, in a “survival” situation, isn’t really neccessary and to the extent that it adds weight, bulk and potential failure, it’s actually a detriment.

    The AR-7 is cool as a “gadget” and a nice conversation piece. But there are better (a) .22 rifles, (b) “survival” rifles and (c) “Takedown” rifles out there and most of them are at nearly the same price point anyway.

      1. Kim, take a look at the Little Badger by Chiappa Firearms. It is a skeletonized folding rifle available in .22LR, .22WMR and .17HMR. I just saw one for sale at Classic Firearms for $163 and change. They also sell a “Double Badger rifle/shotgun combo similiar to the old Savage 24 series, but those are much more expensive.

  17. RE: Henry’s AR-7; have one, like it, as far as its limits allow. The big advantages are disassembly into a very compact, floatable, package and ubiquity of .22LR ammo.

    The Ruger 10/22 Takedown, once equipped with Magpul’s Backpacker stock, offers – probably – more advantage, maybe for no other reason than dedicated spaces in the stock for 3 more magazines, or a mag and a box of .22. The Backpacker is a bit awkward in stowage, but effective and compact. Slapping something electronic on it for sights seems popular, but SHTF and batteries don’t go together; mine carries a compact 4X optic with QD rings on the receiver-mounted P-rail for easy discard (scopes gather light, so for as long as it works, it’ll add 45 minutes at each end of the day, and maybe help a bit in the dark). I’d like to replace the rear sight with some sort of ghost ring, but no one seems driven to make one. Whether it’s all worth the total $$ is subjective, but a far as .22 goes, when SHTF resupply will be challenging so maximizing what you can carry and/or store will be important.

    Some years back I picked up a Baikal drilling, .308 over 12 gauge. Like all O/Us it breaks down into a fairly compact package; L.L. Bean used to make a short padded canvas case just for O/Us, the Baikal fits perfectly, goes anywhere with the shoulder strap and looks more “clarinet” or “fishing” than “gun.” Ammo for it is bulkier and heavier than .22, but .308 and 12G are common, and a butt cuff with 8 rounds of .308 and a (dreaded) cheapo sling with spaces for eight 12 gauge shells helps some. Mine’s zeroed at 80 yards rifle, patterned at 30 shotgun. Triggers are good, no clue if parts are available anywhere, but it’s inconspicuous, portable and, so far, reliable, plus it fits easily in the bugout bag. Won’t replace the AR-10 for heavy work, though.

    Along the same lines, I’d really, really like to see someone come up with a good foldable stock for lever rifles (and maybe O/Us…). A 16″ barreled Marlin 336 that takes 10-12″ out of the overall length would make a very attractive package.

Comments are closed.