Photos: 5 Best Survival Handguns

Browning URX .22 Pistol

Browning URX .22 Pistol
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This .22 pistol is a pleasure to shoot. An ergonomic design means even new shooters can quickly plant .22 rounds on target. The lightweight URX makes for the perfect all-around sidearm.

Best Survival Handguns Living Ready

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This round up of five of the best survival handguns comes courtesy of Living Ready readers like you. In the What’s in Your Bug Out Bag? book, readers explained their choices for best survival handguns. These five came up often, so they’re highlighted here.

That’s what the Living Ready community is all about: sharing the best survival information to make everyone better prepared, skilled and aware, all curated by Living Ready. Be sure to leave a comment with your views. Thoughtful responses may even be turned into their own posts right here on

Best Survival Handgun: Browning URX .22 Pistol

Best survival handguns book

Read more about survival handguns that are in bug out bags right now in Living Ready’s “What’s in Your Bug Out Bag?” book. Order it now for only $5.99.

This .22 pistol is a pleasure to shoot. An ergonomic design means even new shooters can quickly plant .22 rounds on target. The lightweight URX makes for the perfect all-around sidearm.

Best Survival Handgun: Glock 19 Gen 4

What’s there to say about Glock pistols that hasn’t been said before? They have their fans and detractors, but the 19 offers a 15-round capacity that won’t let you down in a pinch.

Best Survival Handgun: Taurus Judge

Love it or hate it, the Taurus Judge is synonymous with survival. Load it with .45 or .410 rounds. That versatility matters when the weight of a tactical CQB long gun just isn’t feasible.

Best Survival Handgun: Ruger Mark II

This is another .22 pistol that built its name on reliability. Since being introduced in the ’80s, the original runs of Ruger Mark II pistols are still in service. That says a lot.

Best Survival Handgun: Walther PK 380

The Walther PK 380 holds nine rounds of .380 ACP in a compact package. It’s a great option for self-defense and concealed carry purposes.

10 thoughts on “Photos: 5 Best Survival Handguns

  1. AlaskaPaul

    We can go on and on in discussions on the best survival handguns. However, it depends on what you want to do with the handgun. Form follows function. If you are shooting small game for meat, then a .22LR rifle would be a better choice. I like the Ruger 10/22 with a backup bolt action rifle in the house. If you are looking for a handgun for protection, I like my 1911A1 in .45ACP, with a wheelgun backup. I have a S&W Model 29 Highway Patrolman in .38 or .357 for 40 years as a backup.

    I handload my rounds, except .22LR 😉 What you keep for survival equipment are not fun things to have, but rather what will do the job when most everything nice is stripped away from your life. What will work for you?

  2. Joe Terry

    Great comments. In my opinion the best survival gun is; (1) the one you have with you at the time, (2) the one you have the most confidence in, and (3) the one with the most versatility in what you can feed it. Although I would feel comfortable with any of the five selected here, my personal choice is a 4″ Smith, Model 66 revolver because it will shoot with shot loads, light .38’s and hot .357 + P +.

  3. Glazman09

    Not so sure about the .380. I wouldn’t include one in my survival handgun lineup.. The one glaring omission is the absence of a 38/357 revolver. My favourite (and by far the strongest) would be a Ruger GP100 with either 4 or 6in barrel.

  4. VinnieL

    Almost any firearm is a good survival firearm, provided it is dependable, you can fire it accurately, and you have ammunition available for it. Anything beyond that is advertising Brand XYZ’s gun. There are many firearms that will kill game and even take down a person if ever necessary. Any .22 pistol, revolver or rifle will kill game, and up till recently ammo was very available for it. I am surprised there is no mention of .38 revolvers, or 9mm, .40 or .45 pistols as all have kept law enforcement officers safe, some for over 100 years. Their makers must not have advertised. But of all things a .380 pistol? Not man-stopper round by any means.. Almost useless in my opinion.

    1. Wheelgunner

      I agree with VinnieL. One of the most important things about a survival gun is being able to get ammo for it. The Glock is a good choice for a 9mm (or any caliber, but 9mm is more abundant). I think the Judge (or Governor) is a gimmick and not a good choice for a survival gun. .45 Colt ammo is hard to find, except for the Cowboy crap, and extremely expensive. 410 guage shotgun shells are coming back because of these guns, but still not out there in abundance. Besides, the range is far too short. A .380? Get real. I think the best all around survival gun would be a 3 or 4 in. S&W or Ruger .357. You can use .38s for small game, +Ps or .357 loads for self defense, and big 158 gr. or 180 gr loads for deer sized game. I knew a rancher who carried a .38 to put down steers. When I asked him why he didn’t use anything bigger, he said he didn’t need to. “Ya just gotta know where to shoot it.” I have two Blackhawk Convertibles that also have a 9mm cylinder. So if 9mm ammo is all I can find, I’m ready there, too. The first two things I’m grabbing for a survival situation is a .357 and a DB shotgun. (Fewer moving parts on the DB, less to go wrong.)

  5. barlettam

    I can readily agree with the buck mark and the block, I don’t own the latter but their reputation as reliable can’t even be questioned and the availability of 9mm even during the ammo crunch at high prices is excellent. The judge and Walther have no place in this top 5 list IMHO, I own the latter and wouldn’t mind owning the Judge if I was in grizzly country or had no choice. The fact with both of these guns is their utility is undermined by the difficulty in effectively using either, the Judge has quite a bit of recoil too much intact for casual gunners that don’t practice regularly, the Walther sights and sight radius weaken its hand.

    Ruger Mk1, no need for a contest both fit the top slot perfectly and should share the crown.

    Ill substitute the number 3 slot with the 1911, full size or one of the full mag variants. The 4th slot should be occupied by ANY snub nose 38 or 357, they are all about the same 99.999% reliable and ammo is cheap and plentiful. Capable of stopping a pair of attackers with margin to spare and lethality rating backed up by about 80 years worth of police documented utility.

  6. justbill

    Why would anyone choose a Taurus Judge over a S&W Governor? While I’m not convinced a .410/.45LC revolver is that useful in a survival scenario, the S&W product gives the added versatility of using the common .45ACP cartridge and moon clips for fast reloads.
    Then there is the Walther .380. Really? Spare magazines are $38+ with limited availability. It’s not that much smaller than the far more capable G19. Besides, how important is deepest concealment in a true SHTF situation? Finally, it’s a .380. That equals poor manstopping with even worse availability. How could this pistol be judged among the five best survival handguns?