Survival—it is the primary objective of every living thing. For most people, most of the time, survival is centered around mundane things like making money to buy food and shelter, and occasionally avoiding speeding cement trucks when they cross the street. But for some people, certain situations can best be survived with use of an appropriate firearm.

For the estimated nine million Americans who legally carry a concealed handgun, survival is primarily about stopping a deadly attack by another person. In many other cases, however, survival guns must do extended duty as a means of harvesting animals for food or perhaps signaling for help, in addition to actual self-defense. Survival guns don’t need to be sniper-accurate or have a high rate of fire. What they do need to be is rugged, reliable, easy to maintain, and devoid of small, easily lost parts.

The most practical survival guns are also chambered for the most common, readily available types of ammunition such as 12 gauge; .308/.30-30/.223; 9mm/.38 Special/.357 Magnum. And let’s not forget the ubiquitous .22 Long Rifle cartridge—in pistols and rifles, it has probably killed more critters and criminals than any other single cartridge. When carrying a load, pound-for-pound the .22 gives more shots than any other cartridge. Likewise, the 12-gauge shotgun offers great versatility simply by selecting the appropriate ammunition—birdshot for small game, buckshot for protection at short distances, and slugs for penetrating tough hide, fat, and muscle out to 100 yards.

The choice of a survival gun depends to a large extent on the environment in which the survivors may find themselves and what general requirements they have. Is hunting rabbits and squirrels for food a greater priority and likelihood than defending against bears? Does walking to safety across vast distances demand only the lightest of firearms to be carried, or do we sit tight, load up the nine-pound assault rifle, and wait to see if the hyenas (four- or two-legged) show up before the rescue chopper arrives?

Let’s explore a few different options and various designs:

Stag Executive Survivors Kit

No longer just another military-style rifle available to civilians, the AR-15 platform has become known as America’s Rifle. The design lends itself to almost every type of cartridge and every application from hunting prairie dogs to moose, competition shooting, self-defense, law enforcement, and homeland security.

While most manufacturers are content to provide the rifle and perhaps a few optional accessories, Stag Arms also offers a mission-specific, comprehensive kit built around a Stag Arms flattop AR-15 Model 2 (direct impingement gas system and collapsible stock). In addition to the rifle, the Stag Arms ESK is comprised of Silent Sling, EOTech 517 Holographic Red Dot sight, Stag Arms Field Repair Kit, Otis AR-15 Cleaning Kit, two 30-round magazines (10 rounds for restricted states) Gerber MP 600 Multi-Pliers, Gerber Omnivore LED Flashlight Dual Purpose, Human/Pet first aid kit, MRE field ration meal, and 60 rounds of quality ammunition, all enclosed in a hard side Pelican model 1700 long case.

The ESK is designed to provide extended security for the owner via the rifle and ammunition, comprehensive maintenance of that security with the repair and cleaning kit, and additional support via the light, MRE and first aid kit. Even the family pet gets first aid.

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