The 10/22 Rifle as a Survival Weapon

What is the best gun to have when things go south? In other words, which firearm will let you survive outdoors, far from civilization, and feed yourself and your family fresh meat that you’ve obtained yourself?

This question stirs up a lot of debate, but we are advocates for the Ruger 10/22, a .22 caliber rifle that is a most formidable rifle in the hands of a marksman. It is capable of not only bagging rabbits, but can also take down a deer and can be very deadly with the right sort of knowledge and skill.

A Classic Long Gun

The Ruger 10/22 is a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. It is a comparatively shorter rifle than most, being 37 inches in overall length. It is a very comfortable rifle to shoot with very little recoil. It typically comes with a wood stock, an 18-inch barrel, and a 5-, 10-, or 30-round detachable magazine.

Over 7 million Ruger 10/22 rifles have been sold since the original came out in 1964. It’s a proven performer that takes its lines from the M1 Carbine and has the distinction of being the first modern rimfire rifle designed specifically for adults as opposed to being a youth training firearm. It is by far the most popular .22 rifle in America and is considered a legend by most enthusiasts.

Additionally, the Ruger 10/22 product line is versatile and 11 models and 7 basic configurations have been introduced over the years, ensuring that there’s a model for everyone. These variants allow the rifle to be used for hunting, marksmanship or sport. As an additional plus point, a huge aftermarket modification market exists to allow owners to customize the rifle to their own requirements.

Why This is Great for Survival Situations

The Ruger 10/22 is almost an ideal firearm for survival. It is reliable, accurate, portable and comes with an array of aftermarket parts.


The 10/22 is reliable enough that you can shoot 300 shots down the range without any cleaning. This is the best performance for any semi-automatic rimfire rifle in its class.


The 10/22 offers decent accuracy in the stock model, but the 10/22 Target model is designed for target shooting. If you aren’t satisfied with your 10/22’s accuracy, changing a few parts such as the trigger group, the receiver and adding a scope can up the accuracy a few notches. Using high-quality ammo also helps.

Ease of changing parts

The Ruger 10/22 Rifle can be easily modified for any purpose. The barrel is mounted using an ingenious v-block system and slips right into the receiver. Rather than rely on threads that need to be timed for perfect headspace adjustment, a v-block, and two screws connect the receiver and a dovetail cut in the barrel itself. The average person can easily replace any part of the gun with nothing more than a screwdriver, a hex key and simple punches.


A brand-new Ruger 10/22 can be purchased for under $ 250 despite its MSRP of $ 409. The .22 ammo is quite affordable and generally more readily available. When a disaster strikes, it’ll be reassuring to know that your chosen caliber will be commonplace to purchase or scavenge.

What It’s Great For

The 10/22 is effective on pest and varmints of all sizes, whether it’s rats, feral dogs, possums, or other nuisance wildlife. It also allows you to save larger caliber — 9mm, 12-gauge, .308, etc. — for more dangerous creatures. Poachers have effectively used the .22 round for decades, and most farmers take down their cows for butchering with a single .22 shot to the head.

For hunting, you’ll find the 10/22 is more than a match for most rimfire rifles out there, being easy to carry, light and accurate when used with skill. It can down big game such as deer with success, as well as squirrels, rabbits and other smaller game.

In addition to hunting, survival means taking care of threats posed by the bad guys, and the 10/22 is an effective deterrent when it comes to self-defense. No, it’s not the optimal gun for this; I think everyone knows that. However, if you’re in a bug-out situation and can only manage to tote one piece with you, this can still be a decent multi-purpose weapon to have.

The Takedown version of the 10/22 can be fit into a standard backpack by separating the two halves, making it discreet and portable.

What You’ll Want to Adjust

When it comes to the ideal weapon for survival, the best gun is the gun that works for you. In that spirit, you’ll need a few key accessories to take the 10/22 up a few notches and turn it into a true survival aid. Check out some of the accessories recommended for 10/22.

The Optics

Most scope manufacturers make “rimfire” scopes that are parallax-corrected for 50 yards, versus 100-150 yards for high-power rifle scopes, so start by selecting a rimfire scope. Magnification can be a great advantage but can also be a severe disadvantage, especially when people tend to buy scopes with too much magnification which results in a narrower field of view, making it harder to spot game or even a target. Over-magnification also adds distortion, it makes eye relief critical, and it amplifies “wiggle”, making it very difficult to hold the crosshairs on target.

Considering the optimum shooting distance for a 22 LR is from 25 to 75 yards, the best match for a general-purpose scope would be a 2-7X. This would provide the optimum magnification for 20-70 yards and can easily be stretched to 100 yards.


Having a sling is helpful for carrying your rifle, especially in a bug-out situation when you have a backpack to carry and many other things to worry about.

To modify the gun to attach a strap, you can drill the stocks, both wood and synthetic. The best and cheapest way to get a sling on the stock of a stock 10/22 is to buy some swivel studs, then drill holes smaller than the swivel studs and screw the little nubs in tight. You could optionally use a thread locker like loc-tite on the stud threads.

Another option is a single-point sling, such as the DeSantis Outback Bungee Sling. To mount this sling you may consider a single-point sling adapter. The extra material in this design can be used to jury-rig a two-point sling by wrapping it around the barrel. It stays put and can be undone in a matter of seconds when used in this manner.

 Larger Magazines

When it’s a matter of survival, you need to have larger magazines than the stock 10-round rotary magazines offered by Ruger. The Tactical Inc. TI25 magazine with steel feed lips is among the best. It is adjustable so it will fit your gun perfectly, it can be taken apart to clean it, and it has metal feed lips that will not get worn out.

There’s an almost-infinite variety of other modifications you can make to this weapon so you can enjoy studying it and fine-tuning it for your needs and expectations.


The Ruger 10/22 is well-suited for survival situations and emergencies, being effective for hunting and self-defense. It is a versatile, robust and reliable weapon with ammo being cheap and widely available. It not only has a long history of use here in the US, but quality aftermarket parts are easy to find so you can modify the gun to your heart’s desire.

Also consider what modifications you’ll require, taking into account the kind of game you can hunt nearby. If you’re preparing for worst-case scenarios, you might want to consider modifying a 10/22 to suit your requirements so you can handle whatever comes your way.


Josh Lewis is a lifelong gun fanatic and shares his thoughts on the best rifles and accessories on his website

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