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Thoughts on the AR-15 AK-47 and FN/FAL For SHTF

AK-47 AR-15 Survival Rifles

As I am sitting here thinking about another rifle, my thoughts keep turning back to the AR-15. Even though the AK-47 is a little cheaper, its the reliability, cheap ammo, light weight of the weapon, availability of the ammo, shootability,,,,, that keeps me coming back to the AR.

In a SHTF situation, and I had to hand a rifle to my wife, son or daughter, how well would they be able to handle the rifle? That is just one of the many questions I have to ask myself.

In this article we are going to be looking at 3 of the most popular SHTF rifles and battle rifles in the world: the AK-47, AR-15 and the FN/FAL. The AK shoots the 7.62×39, the AR shoots the 223/5.56mm and the FN/FAL shoots the 308 Winchester / 7.62NATO round. These rifles were picked because they have a reputation of being reliable in just about all combat situations and they have been battle proven in several conflicts.

Lets start from the very beginning:

Inserting a Magazine

Quest for the Best SHTF Survival Rifle

SA-58 FN/FAL

For years, and I mean for “years”, my survival rifle list went something like this – Marlin 336 in 30-30, AR-15, Ruger mini-14, Ruger mini-30, AK-47, Ruger 10/22 and the Marlin model 60. The problem with that list, all of the rifles are short and medium caliber. The largest caliber rifle would have been the marlin 336 in 30-30 or the AK-47 in 7.62×39.

In my opinion, no survival rifle collection is complete without at least a rifle in the 308 Winchester and 30-06 range. When push comes to shove, a survivalist needs a rifle with some knock down power. In north America, the 308 and 30-06 are capable of taking just about any animal, except for the most dangerous grizzly or polar bear. For most applications – whitetail deer, hogs, prong horn, coyote, mule deer,,,,,, the 308 Winchester and 30-06 Springfield can fit the bill.

So where does this leave us? We could go with a bolt action rifle like the Remington model 700, Weatherby Vanguard or the Ruger model 70. But for a long term SHTF survival situation, I would like something with a detachable magazine.

Bolt actions rifles aside, this leaves us with the M1A, PTR-91, and the FN/FAL.

DS Arms SA58 First Range Report

DS Arms SA58 FAL range report

Before we start on the range report of the DS Arms SA58, here is a little history on how we arrived at this point in time.

October 21st 2010 I started a thread in the forum asking what is the best 308 rifle for the money. There were lots of suggestions thrown around, such as the Springfield M1A, FAL, CETME, PTR-91, Remington model 750 and the DS Arms SA58. After much debate in the forum, the choice was between the DSA SA58 and the Springfield M1A.

Between the Springfield M1A and the DS Arms SA58, I picked the SA58 FAL. The Springfield M1A is a outstanding rifle, but a little bit out of my price range.

My first impressions of the SA58 were very good. The rifle handled very well, shot well, was well balanced, and had very little recoil. The first couple of times I shot the FAL, it was just to make sure the rifle shot ok – “yep, it shoots” kind of thing.

DS Arms SA58 FAL First Impressions

DS Arms SA58 FN/FAL

Long story short – I am impressed with this rifle. Now for the rest of the story.

Back on October 21 I started a thread in the forum asking what was the best 308 semi-auto for the money. There were lots of suggestions thrown around; like the PTR-91, CETME, Springfield M1A, FAL,,,,,. In the end I decided to spend the money for a quality product, and purchased a DS Arms SA58 FAL.

Factory, right of the box – I would compare the recoil to a 30-30. But this is a full sized 308 Winchester.

Is like having the best of 2 worlds:

1 – full powered rifle cartridge.

2 – light recoil

Unlike the Remington model 750 that has a small box magazine, the DS Arms FAL has a 20 round magazine.

When my FAL arrived at the firearms dealer I made the purchase through, I just happened to be on a 3 day camping trip on the Angelina River.

The WASR-10 AK-47

wasr-10 ak-47

The WASR-10 AK-47 is a Romanian variant of the Russian AK-47 rifle. The rifles uses a receiver made in the USA, unlike the SAR series that use a Romanian made receiver.

The equivalents with Russian models are:

  • AKM: WASR-10 (7.62×39)
  • AK-74: WASR-2 (5.45×39)
  • AK-101: WASR-3 (5.56×45)

WASR-10 Specs:

  • Overall Length: 35 inches – including muzzle break
  • Barrel: 16 inches – including muzzle break
  • Stock: Wood
  • Pistol grip: Plastic
  • Caliber: 7.62X39

The WASR-10 rifles are made with stamped receivers and were originally intended for single-stack magazines. After the so called “assualt rifle ban” expired, the receivers were milled to accept a double stack, high capacity magazine.

WASR-10 rifles feature a chrome-lined barrel and wooden stocks. The WASR-10 rifles are imported by Century Arms Intl. It is at the Century Arms Intl. factory where they widen the magazine wells and install Tapco-compliant parts.

Picking a new survival rifle

AK-47 AR-15 Survival RiflesI’am looking for a 308 semi-auto rifle – its to be used as my primary hunting rifle and survival rifle. This will be my “go to” rifle in the event of a disaster. Currently I have a Bushmaster AR-15 223 / 5.56mm, WASR-10 in 7.62X39, Ruger 10/22, SKS and Remington Model 700 Mountain Rifle in 280/7mm Express. The goal is to have something with a little versatile then those rifles. Something that is rugged enough to take take wherever I want, but accurate enough to make 100+ yard shots and hit a baseball sized target without a bench rest. Ideal accuracy would be a 1 inch group “Minute of angle MOA” at 100 yards. But some military rifles are just not designed to have the accuracy like a bolt action hunting rifle, or the AR15.

During hunting season the purposed rifle is going to be my primary hunting rifle. I need something that is compact enough to move around a deer stand with, or use a climbing stand with, but but with a barrel long enough that accuracy is not affected. Something with an 18 – 22 inch barrel would be ideal.

This is what I have come up with so far:

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AR-15 For a SHTF Survival Situation

AR-15 SHTF Survival Rifle

Would the AR-15 be a good rifle for a SHTF survival situation? The simple answer is, “it depends.” The M16 223/5.56mm was original developed as a replacement for the M14 and the 308.

The mindset was to develop a lighter rifle and lighter ammo so that soldiers could carry the rifle further and carry more ammo. One drawback, instead of shooting a 150 or 180 grain bullet like the 308 Winchester / 7.62 NATO, the 223 / 5.56mm shots a 55 grain bullet.

Lets talk about some of the pluses and negatives of the 223 / 5.56mm:

1. To compensate for the smaller bullet diameter and lighter weight, the 55 grain 5.56mm is supposed to “tumble” after it hits flesh. The “tumbling” creates wounds and does quit a bit of damage to flesh.

I see a couple of issues with the “tumble” theory:

How does the bullet know whether its hitting a wall and should punch through, or flesh and tumble? When the bullet is made, is it granted with magical powers that tells it what the bullet is about to hit, and whether it should tumble or not?

All phun aside, the 223/5.56mm has problems getting through walls. Once the bullet hits something, and it tries to tumble, it loses its energy.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018