In a bug-out situation, a reliable .22 rifle can deliver the utility shooting you need to stay alive. As tools, firearms define our age. No other mechanical contrivance has so shaped modern culture and society. It is the firearm that establishes national borders, maintains the authority of governments, secures personal safety in dangerous places and protects the family at home. The goal of providing robust, reliable and portable personal firepower is as old as gunpowder. In 1956, Eugene Stoner turned his not inconsiderable mechanical genius on just that goal for American military aviators. The result was the bolt-action AR-5 survival rifle in .22 Hornet.

The AR-5 broke down for storage and fit nicely into its synthetic stock. The principal components were aluminum and plastic in keeping with Stoner’s aviation design background, and the entire weapon was so light it would float. The basic chassis of the AR-5 eventually served as impetus for the subsequent AR-7, a similar semi-automatic survival arm in .22 LR intended for civilian use.

The AR-7 has had a storied history. The rights of manufacture have passed through a variety of companies over the years. A tuned version armed Israeli aircrews in combat. The rifle, in some bizarre variations, was built in Argentina for a time. Sean Connery even used one in an early James Bond film to bring down a helicopter. Since 1980, the rights to the AR-7 have been held by Henry Repeating Arms. The rifle is currently marketed as the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle.

Rimfire Survivor

The contemporary iteration of Eugene Stoner’s AR-7 as imagined by Henry is an austere but optimized piece of weaponry. Where previous offerings from other companies suffered from reliability issues, the two I own eat any cartridge I feed them. Previous barrels were comprised of steel inserts inside an aluminum casting, but the Henry version utilizes an indestructible and lightweight polymer to shroud the steel. The rifle is grooved for rimfire optics and it even floats in water. However, all the metal parts are Teflon coated to make them environmentally impervious. When it is you versus Mother Nature in a survival situation, overkill is not a real thing.

The action stores in the stock with a magazine in place, and there is room for another pair of mags in there as well. Standard magazines hold eight rounds. The gun comes in either black or camo finishes that are comparably indestructible. The rear sight has two different apertures and is adjustable for elevation. The front sight is a brilliant orange and is drift adjustable for windage. The rail accepts any standard rimfire optics. There is no provision for a sling, though a magazine-mount swivel designed for a 20-gauge shotgun fits the barrel perfectly. At 3.5 pounds, the whole rifle weighs less than many full-figured handguns, so you could simply wrap a loop of 550 cord around the stock before you hit the trail. What’s really amazing is that the rifle can be assembled and stored without tools in less time than it takes to describe.

What the AR-7 does perfectly is stay out of the way. Drop the components in the stock, hide it with your rucksack and you can forget it’s there. If you inadvertently lose the rifle over the side of your boat, you’ll be able to swing around and find it since it floats in water.

In the employ of a serious operator, the .22 LR will feed you in the field, kill fish in shallow water and protect you from any reasonable threat, as well as a few of the unreasonable sort. Feed .22 Shorts in one round at a time and you have a suppressed firearm without paperwork or a transfer tax.

Off-Grid Gear

Give a man a proper survival kit and he can thrive most anyplace. The nifty little Henry Arms U.S. Survival Kit available with the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle is a tidy piece of work. Sealed in a waterproof, pressed-aluminum case, this kit covers the basics along with a few well-considered luxuries. There is the standard Mylar space blanket, a modest fishing kit, a superb compass and some lifeboat matches. There is an awesome little folding multi-tool, a wire saw, some first-aid supplies, a micro light as well as a truly extraordinary quantity of other legitimate survival gear all stuffed into a tiny aluminum box that fits in the palm of your hand.

The components of this kit are genuinely top-shelf, and the contents were obviously concocted by somebody who has logged some time in the woods. A motivated operator could build shelter, keep warm, obtain protein and find his way with what is in this diminutive little kit. The U.S. Survival Kit and the collapsed U.S. Survival Rifle could be stashed in a car, closet or office discreetly enough to forget they was there.

Whether you choose to wander about willingly in uncivilized climates or simply believe that insurance comes in forms that are cold and metallic as well as the more conventional sort hawked by that ubiquitous talking lizard, the Henry Arms U.S. Survival Kit can even the odds should you poke Mother Nature with a stick and find that she gets aggravated as a result.

I own several Henry firearms and am at a loss to find fault with any of them. Besides that, the company’s survival kit is simply great. An afternoon in the field with a Henry rifle will put food on your table, hair on your chest and prepare you to take on the worst Mother Nature has to offer. For more information, visit or call 201-858-4400.

Specifications: Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Rifle

U.S. Survival AR-7 rifle
Photo by Henry Repeating Arms

Caliber: .22 LR

Barrel: 16.1 inches

OA Length: 16.5-35 inches

Weight: 3.5 pounds

Stock: ABS plastic

Sights: Adjustable rear, front blade

Action: Semi-auto

Finish: Teflon

Capacity: 8+1

MSRP: $290

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