Best Survival Handgun – Ruger SP101

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Intro / Defining Survival

The whole industry of survival and wilderness preparedness has become hugely popular within the last few years. More and more people are realizing how fragile our society is, and in the event of a global catastrophe, how will we survive?

Being the site ‘Best Handgun’, we are now going to look at the Best Survival Handgun for a wilderness survival situation. Please note that we are in fact talking about ‘wilderness’ and not urban, and will focus on the best gun for surviving in the wild if you could only have ONE gun.

Lets get into it!

Type of Handgun

So the first thing we will talk about is what TYPE of gun you should look at getting. Although the increased capacity of semi-autos is appealing, we are going to have to recommend revolvers for this situation for one reason – reliability.

There is very few things you can do to a revolver to render it inoperable. A single action revolver is one of the most reliable guns out there, and in a wilderness survival situation, you definitely will want that reliability. No feed issues, no jamming, no slide locking up – it will just shoot when you pull the trigger.

Size of Handgun

For a wilderness situation, you are going to be looking at a tradeoff between two things – size/weight of gun and the barrel length.

Your end goal is to get a gun that is very lightweight, and easy to carry, while having as long of a barrel as you can, to make longer range shots and hunting much easier.

For this, we are going to recommend looking into a medium sized revolver, with as long of a barrel as you can find. The medium size will make the gun a bit lighter to pack and carry, yet large enough to shoot comfortably at a distance. Too large and you will feel like you’re lugging around a brick. Too small and you won’t be able to shoot very well.


For a wilderness survival gun, there is only one caliber that we would recommend – .22 LR. If you could only have ONE caliber, this would be it. While it probably isn’t the best caliber to defend against a charging bear, it’s definitely the most versatile, light and cheap caliber to use in survival.

The rounds are so small, that any ‘bug out bag’ can easily fit thousands of rounds and the gun itself, without weighing much at all. You could literally take 1,000’s of .22LR rounds for the same weight at 100 .45 ACP rounds. The goal here is to survive for a long period of time.

For hunting purposes, these things are still bullets, and can still take down game. Plenty of deer are killed with a .22 LR every year, and if you make your shots count, you can as well.


For manufacturers, it will mostly come down to personal preference. It’s really hard to go wrong with a .22LR revolver. But if we had to give our opinion, we would recommend either Smith & Wesson or Ruger, because of their long and highly successful careers with revolvers. You can’t go wrong with either.

If you are looking to spend a little bit less than their sticker price, we would also recommend checking out Taurus, who have been making great jumps in recent years in quality, while staying at a lower price than many other brands. They have some great larger frame hunting revolvers that can be great for survival.


In the end, for the Best Survival Handgun, we are going to have to recommend the Ruger SP101. It’s a fantastic mix of medium size, rugged dependability, and a few of the little features that make it great for field use, such as recoil reducing grips and fiber optic sights. It will run you right about $500, but is an investment well worth it.

If you’re looking to spend a little less than that, we would recommend checkout out some of the Taurus Tracker or normal series. They are some great looking handguns, that function really well for around $350.

Best Survival Handgun

So in conclusion, we’ve gone through all the different parts of what make up the Best Survival Handgun out there. We’ve covered the type and size of gun to look for, what caliber to have it chambered in, and what manufacturers to look for.

It’s important to be prepared for situations like that to happen, and instead of being a victim, you can be survivor. So go out and get prepared today.

3 Responses to “Best Survival Handgun – Ruger SP101”

  1. Kevin

    SP 101 is a very accurate revolver capable of firing 5 rounds of powerful .357.round. It is very reliable and fits really well in hand. However in my opinion, the two major problems with any revolver are the fire power and long double action pull of the trigger. Granted that enough practice could improve shot placement and trigger control, but under stressful situation; being charged by a bear or pack of wolves, or even a human threat, most shooters will become much less accurate in their shot placement and the long trigger pull will just make it worse.

    So if you can rapidly fire 8-10(or even more) rounds from a pistol at a threat under stressful situation, you will have a better chance of surviving than 5-6 shot revolver. You can also reload a pistol with magazine much faster than you can to reload a revolver and the time difference could easily mean life or death.

    Now 9mm may not be a good choice to stop a bear, but 230 grain bonded hollow point .45 acp should easily penetrate a thick hive of the animal and do good deal of damage. Even a 180 grain .40 caliber bonded ammo should easily penetrate any hive.

    So my top choice for a survival handgun would be a Glock 30 SF. It is by far the most accurate Glock. It is very compact, much lighter than a all steel revolvers and it carries 10 +1 rounds of .45 acp. I would also go with Glcok 23. Glocks are also very reliable and easy to maintain. If you practice enough, you can get used to the trigger reset of a Glock and rapidly fire it like a single action, thus less trigger pull and enhanced accuracy.

  2. Oak

    I agree that a .22LR revolver is a good choice for long-term survival. It might be difficult to cock the hammer or pull the trigger for the young and old and some slight males/females, though. For that reason, a close second might be the Ruger Mark III 22/45 Lite. Lastly, a larger round handgun should also be part of prepping. In thinking about the durability of the revolver, a .38/357 such as a Ruger SP101 would be the perfect companion. I am also fond of 9mm revolvers.

  3. nate

    I myself have thought that a survival handgun may be more practical than a rifle. Maybe someone fresh out of the marines won’t mind a heavy load to carry, but as someone who’s done some backpacking, the 3-5 pound weight difference between a handgun and long gun would be pretty significant to me over an extended period of time.

    Not sure if I’d opt for .22lr though. True, it’s a lightweight, compact cartridge, but I’m not sure where “it’s definitely the most versatile” comes from. Seems to me the 22lr is good for small game at short range, very sketchy for use on deer-sized game, and almost worthless for defense against aggressive animals.

    As for cheap, I don’t know how relevant that is once you’re in a wilderness survival situation. Granted, it’s easier to build up your initial supply if it’s cheap, but once you’re out in the wilderness, cost is a non-issue. You’re limited to what you bring with you. There aren’t going to be ammo stands out among the trees.

    As for size comparisons, this article states, “You could literally take 1,000′s of .22LR rounds for the same weight at[sic] 100 .45 ACP rounds.” I simply can’t see how that’s true. Since it says “1000’s” let’s assume 2000. 2000:100 is a 20:1 ratio. There is NO way that twenty .22lr cartridges are as light as any one .45 ACP round. The lightest 22lr ammo might compare at a 7:1 ratio, which is still significant, but if we’re going to make such comparisons, we may as well try to be reasonably accurate.

    Personally, I might favor a revolver in .357 mag/.38 special. Sighted in with light non-expanding .38 special loads, it could take small game without destroying much meat, while hollow-point .357 ammo would be suitable for deer, and heavy hard cast ammo might even have a chance of fending off a bear if need be.

    Granted, this means heavier, bulkier ammo, (roughly 4x the weight of 22lr per cartridge on average) but if you hope to do anything other than shoot small game, carrying fewer but larger cartridges may be worth the tradeoff. If I really wanted to stick with small ammo but still have something a little better for deer, I’d maybe opt for .22 mag.


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