I love guns. I especially love guns that fill a niche in my arsenal. I found myself recently noticing a hole in my lineup. I did not have a survival rifle. I needed something small that I can throw in a pack, or chuck behind the seat of my truck. It needed to have the accuracy of a rifle, but with more portability. Its primary role would be shooting very small game for survival purposes. A takedown .22 would fill the role perfectly, and there were plenty of choices on hand. It seems like several major gun companies produced a takedown .22 at some point. I measured costs versus benefit and came up with a gun that is not only fun to shoot, but useful as well!
The Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 is currently the third most popular firearm we sell at Cheaper Than Dirt. Part of the reason for that popularity is the low price, but Henry gives you a lot for your money. The Henry Survival Rifle is the modern version of the legendary AR-7. The Air Force originally issued the AR-7 as a survival rifle for downed pilots, and there have been several variants by various manufacturers since.
Henry’s version only weighs about 3.5 pounds, making it over a pound lighter than the Ruger Takedown Rifle. When you stuff all the parts into the stock of the gun, its 16.5-inch stature makes it the perfect size to throw into your backpack. Henry made the stock out of ABS plastic, which is both waterproof and impact resistant—an important feature in a survival situation. Assembling the rifle is quick and easy. If you have any experience with firearms at all, you will not need to read the instructions. The eight-round magazine and semi-automatic design make this weapon a perfect squirrel or small varmint hunter. The rifle seems to give the shooter peace of mind when lost in the wilderness or on an extended hiking trip.
This version of the AR-7 comes with a grooved rail mounted on top of the receiver. This makes mounting a scope or red-dot optic a breeze, but I chose to use the iron sights for my test, since a scope will not fit inside the buttstock. Henry colored the front sight post bright orange, which made target acquisition seamless. When you shoulder this rifle, there is no handguard on the barrel. I chose to wrap my hand around the magazine well, which I sometimes do when shooting my AR-15. This gave me enough stability to make accurate shots out to about 50 yards. Even with the Henry’s extraordinary light weight, recoil was non-existent, which I expected coming from a .22 LR. The low recoil made follow-up shots a breeze and if you are a novice shooter, flinching is less of an issue. I used CCI Mini-Mag High Velocity ammunition for my test run, and had zero problems after 100 rounds. I have heard of older model AR-7s having feeding issues with various types of ammo, so I opted for good ammo and factory magazines. If this were an every day shooter, this would be a bigger issue for me. However, considering that it is an emergency only rifle, I decided to pony up for decent stuff.
As far as a backpacking rifle, the Henry fills the role nicely. While there are other choices in semi-automatic .22s, this little takedown does exactly what Eugene Stoner designed it to do. I would have no qualms about keeping this around to turn some woodland critters into an emergency dinner.
Specifications and features:
- .22 LR
- Two 8-round magazines included
- 35 inches long when assembled
- 16.5 inches when stowed
- Weighs 3.5 lbs.
- Stock constructed of ABS Plastic
- Adjustable rear sights
- Teflon® coated receiver and coated steel barrel
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