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.