The wilderness is a beautiful place.
While there is also something beautiful about the advancements we have made technologically and culturally, the experience of embracing our natural habitat and taking in nature is crucial to the human experience.
Whether you’re camping, hunting or trekking through the wild, firearms are necessary to scoring game and staying safe. There are many reasons people travel through the wilderness, many biomes with unique wildlife, and many differences in personal preference. The good thing is that there are many firearms designed to fulfill all of those different roles.
Semi-automatic rifles offer versatility, range, and stopping power. They can put animals down, fire multiple shots in quick succession, and can go long periods without reloading.
The AR-15 has been a staple of American gun
ownership for decades. One of its greatest advantages over other semi-automatic
rifles is its customizability. It is easy to swap out sights, stocks, grips,
and more complex pieces like trigger mechanisms to create the perfect gun. You
can use railings for attachments like laser sights, flashlights, various
foregrips, and any number of scopes.
Many gun owners build their AR-15s from
scratch. You can purchase kits or purchase individual pieces separately to
build a completely custom rifle. This allows you to shop for parts based on
price, quality, and personal preference. You do need to be knowledgeable about
firearms to build the rifle properly. Make sure you know what you are doing or
find someone who does when it comes to putting the pieces together.
They are also smooth to use, and they don’t
have excessive recoil. The .223 rounds they fire offer something of a happy
medium between large and small calibers. They are ergonomically designed. Their
accuracy and precision are on point. They are beautifully crafted pieces of
machinery that have earned their top spot among gun owners.
The debate between the AR-15 and the AK-47 has gone on for decades. It can sometimes become a quasi-debate between the U.S. and former Soviet states. In reality, they are both tremendous tools with their own merits.
You want something reliable in the
wilderness. Guns that are prone to jamming or are generally high maintenance
are not ideal when you are separated from civilization. The AK-47 series of
rifles are classic
performers in rough and rugged situations. The Automatic Kalashnikov (AK)
is named after its creator, the legendary tank commander Mikhail Kalashnikov.
It has been a favorite of people living in rugged terrain for half of a century.
In the muddy and wet environments of Vietnam, they held up better than M-16s.
They have stood the test of time in the mountainous and sandy terrains of
places like Afghanistan and Iraq. The Russian military still uses a modernized
version of it in their current forces. Their rugged nature makes them well
suited for having in the wilderness. You can be fully confident that they will
function perfectly throughout the entirety of your trip.
They are made to be simple and easy to
manufacture. They have few parts that tend to be large. Their simplicity is
largely where their ruggedness comes from.
They also tend to be cheap, which is also
related to their simplicity. Along with the classic Russian version, there are
American made versions, the Chinese AKM, and the Romanian WASR. More expensive
versions with modern furniture are available if that is what you desire. You can
count on AK-47s in any environment you travel through, and the 7.62 rounds they
fire have the stopping power you will need.
Scatterguns, boom-sticks, shotguns. Whatever you call them, shotguns have a place in American history as weapons designed for frontier life.
There is a myriad of shotgun shells available for a myriad of situations. Buck shot fires a concentrated load with stopping power. This is ideal for larger animals like deer. Bird shot provides a wider spread that is ideal for smaller and faster moving targets. Slugs carry stopping power over longer ranges. You can find shotguns of all shapes and sizes. You can find tactical semi-auto shotguns for more rapid-fire. You can purchase a pump-action which has become the standard for shotguns. You can also find a single barrel, double barrel, and even revolvers that fire shotgun shells.
The variety of shells on the market makes
them a great choice for the woods, as one firearm brings the capability to hunt
game of all sizes. They are also powerful enough to be useful in self-defense
.22s are a favorite of sporting enthusiasts for many reasons.
For one, the rounds are dirt cheap. You can
shoot them all day long without breaking the bank. This, along with their near
nonexistent recoil, makes them great for teaching new shooters and for casual
They are great for hunting small game. If
you’re on a camping or hunting expedition, a .22 is perfect for hunting
squirrels and rabbits.
Semi-automatic .22s are a great pick. Their magazines usually hold plenty of ammunition. You can place shots rapidly, and there’s less penalty for missing. The Ruger 10-22 fits the bill and is one of the most popular .22s on the market. It is cost-effective and will get the job done. Bolt action .22s may be more useful for those who prefer precision above all else. You could also go with my personal favorite, lever-action .22s. Nothing makes one feel more at home in the wilderness than a lever-action rifle. It harkens back to the days of the Wild West, and it is still a very practical design. Henry and Marlin are two of the most common manufacturers of lever-action rifles today.
The AR-7 was designed by Eugene Stoner, the
designer of the AR-15. It was designed specifically for wilderness survival. It
is a semi-automatic .22 rifle, like some that were mentioned in the previous
section, but it has some unique characteristics.
The buttstock is hollowed out with
compartments. The compartments are meant to fit the barrel, the firing
mechanism, and two magazines. The parts can be easily screwed off for storage.
Essentially, it is a fully functioning .22 rifle that can be stored in a
fraction of the size of others. When you are carrying supplies and gear miles
through the woods, size and weight can have significant effects. Being able to
store your firearm snuggly in your pack, and only adding around three pounds to
its weight, can be a lifesaver.
The gun is used to today by bush pilots and
outdoorsmen. Its reliability and accuracy are known to be more than enough to
get the job done. Some may question its reliability given the fact that it is
designed to be quickly disassembled, but it has been shown to function well. It
is able to withstand water and can be quickly assembled should the need arise.
If you live in the country or are planning an expedition into the wilderness, don’t overlook self-defense.
Many of the firearms discussed so far can
be useful for self-defense. A shotgun or an AK-47 can put down most animals.
However, they are not necessarily ideal.
Long-guns are typically carried over your
shoulder, in a bag, or taken apart and stored somewhere in your pack. While you’re
sitting around the campfire, you probably don’t have your AK-47 or your
pump-action shotgun laying across your lap. You can, however, always have a
handgun at your side.
Your choice of the handgun will depend on the area you will be in. If the most dangerous animal in the region is a deer, then maybe don’t over-stress the importance of what you choose. Many regions have much more dangerous animals though, such as cougars and grizzly bears. You need something powerful enough to sit them down before they have the chance to ruin your day.
Personally, I favor .44 revolvers. .357
revolvers and semi-auto handguns chambered in larger calibers like .40 and .45
can get the job done as well. If you purchase a revolver, go with a double
action. Single action revolvers are fun when you’re pretending to be John
Wayne, but you need to be able to fire quickly should your life be on the line.
.44s pack the most punch, but you may feel more comfortable with a Glock or a
1911. Make sure you’re comfortable using your sidearm so that you are effective
when the situation arises.
Wilderness survival is about much more than the defense from predators, but it is too important to overlook.
If your wilderness journey involves hunting
at long ranges, then you need long-range rifles.
Ideally, you should use large calibers for
large game like deer and moose. .308 and 30-06 are some of the more popular
calibers. Most hunters prefer to use bolt action rifles. They tend to offer the
most precision and range. Rifles like the Remington 700 and the Savage M220 are
affordable and of high quality. Some, like the Weatherby Mark V, could be
considered ”luxury” hunting rifles. They are definitely worth looking into, but
the “cheaper” ones are not only of high quality but are worth being proud of.
You could also use a lever-action rifle. As previously stated, Marlin and Henry rifles come highly recommended. You can find lever-action rifles offered in many calibers from .45 to 30-06. Semi-auto rifles are also viable options. You can find AR-style rifles chambered in .300 blackout which can take down larger prey than a traditional AR-15. What hunting rifle you choose is dependent on what you value in shooting and what you are hunting. Semi-auto may be better for hunting wild boar. Bolt action may be better for hunting at extreme ranges.
Heavy barreled rifles can provide more stability and accuracy. You can outfit them with range finders which will calculate the range you’re aiming at in real-time.
A quality scope with appropriate zoom and reticles
is necessary. Before you head out, sight in your scope at a range. A
well-designed scope should stay sighted in as long as it is properly taken
care of. Make use of lens covers because you may not have time to adjust
the sights or clean your scope once your prey is in sight.
Research where you are headed, and plan
accordingly. The variety of choices discussed illustrate the fact that there is
a gun for every job, you just need to know what the job entails.
Always be prepared in advance so that you can get the most out of your trips and stay safe.