In an emergency, a firearm suited for other purposes simply becomes a survival gun. The best survival gun is the one that gets you through an event safely.
However, there are considerations to make for home defense applications. As far as survival scenarios go, this is one area where specific factors come into play – not just the firearm being present.
In his new book, Gun Digest Book of Survival Guns, Scott Wagner reviews what makes the best survival gun for home defense. Consider these factors:
THE LAYERED DEFENSE
Layering your defense is a basic principle as old as armed combat itself. It simply means that, ideally, we have different weapons that are particularly effective for different distances. This is likely of greatest importance as you set up your plan for long-term sheltering-in-place. If you are going the emergency evacuation route instead, it will mean that you have fewer specialized weapons that you will need to make work in a wider variety of circumstances, unless you have an exceptional transportation system. Ideally, the weapons selected should cover these basic ranges/conditions:
Long-Range — While our modern military snipers are getting kills out to 2,000 yards or so, this is performance reserved for a few highly trained and exceptional individuals with very specialized rifles, mostly bolt guns. For the average shooter or law enforcement officer, “long range” is anything beyond 100 yards, especially when one considers we’re talking about being on the “two-way range,” where targets shoot back.
In these situations, a semi-auto rifle equipped with a lighted reticle variable scope of no more than 15-power works extremely well, although certain battle rifles with precision iron sights are also effective. Full-power battle cartridges on the order of .308 or .30-06 are excellent performers for this challenge.
Mid-Range — Anything from 100 yards down to about 25 yards. Several weapon types come to mind, but basically a high-cap semi-automatic rifle of intermediate caliber reigns supreme.
CQB — Close Quarter Battle, or 25 yards down to eye-gouging distance. High-cap semi-auto rifles, shotguns, pistols, pistol-caliber carbines, and edged weapons are at the forefront here. The intermediate semi-auto rifle, especially with a bayonet affixed, is an excellent choice, as well.
Read more about the best survival guns in the Gun Digest Book of Survival Guns.