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When the tides turn, you need a gun you can trust. The Henry Repeating Arms U.S. Survival AR-7 is the packable .22 we’d choose.

Take any ideas of a big, heavy-caliber rifle serving as your disaster survival gun and throw them out the window. Smart and prepared gun owners know a smaller, transportable gun in a common, lightweight caliber is the only way to go, which is why we’ve always viewed the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 as our bug-out gun of choice.

Heaven forbid you truly face a disastrous situation, but if you do, it seems like you’d be in good hands with the AR-7. It was chosen (and has been steadily used) by the U.S. Air Force in 1959 as the must-carry service gun.

If it’s up to the task of the American military, you know it’s a well-thought-out design and reliable gun.

We’ve reviewed the AR-7 extensively in the past, and not much has changed, even considering the number of similar, compact survival-based guns have hit the market. You just can’t surpass this classic, long-lasting design.

Where the Henry AR-7 has real, everyday appeal is for the backpacking adventurers, pound-counting bush pilots, and ultra-lightweight camping crowd.

The entire rifle is only 3.5 pounds, and the barrel and receiver can be stowed inside the impact- and water-resistant stock. When it’s packed together, you’re looking at 16.5 inches, easily added to a backpack or camping bag. It even floats!

When the time comes to assemble it, the AR-7 takes just seconds to be ready for firing. You can attach the receiver to the stock, insert the barrel, and screw one nut to have a functioning gun in your hands.

The steel barrel is covered in tough ABS plastic plus a protective coating, making it corrosion-resistant for years and years of travel, bumps and shots.

You can get the AR-7 in three finishes; Black, True Timber Kanati Camo Pattern, and True Timber Viper Western Camo Pattern. Our favorite is the Kanati, but they all look great. It has an 8-round capacity and comes with an adjustable rear sight and blade front sight.

You don’t have to be a full-fledged prepper to consider the U.S. Survival AR-7 a good gun. We trust the Henry name and reputation, but if you need more convincing and information, HenryUSA.com is the place to get it.

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76 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve owned two of those though the years. Both would leak and sink. Maybe since since Henry is making them now the quality has gotten better but I wouldn’t buy another until someone else put it all in the broken down form with a loaded mag and tested to see if it floated and if it leaked and sunk like mine did.

  2. I’ve got an original made in Costa Mesa, CA by Armalite. In brown swirl Camo.
    It’s probably had less than 100 rounds through it.

    • I don;t remember who actually made mine, but I bought it out of a JCPenney catalog in the 80’s.

      Kinda sad I sold it. Like so many others.

      • Yours was probably a Charter Arms AR-7 Explorer.
        That was the name it went by in my youth.
        In the 1970s I had no idea it was formerly an Armalite product.

        • Mine years back was a Charter. Found it in a pawnshop for 50 bucks.

          It never fed reliably for me, and in the great life implosion, sold it with the others.

          I recall from Jon’s write-up awhile back they have gotten them to feed somewhat reliably, but I’m not sure I want to spend 300 bucks nowadays to have another…

  3. No Thanks. .223 is the absolute smallest caliber I would use. It weighs 4 more pounds but for hunting and defensive use a .22 is lacking.

    • .22 lacks nothing. it’s the size of a contac allergy capsule, fits in your nose and can drop a cape buffalo.
      and the only commodity less expensive is one killowatt hour of juice for a dime.
      if the vast majority of your arsenal isn’t .22, you missin’ sumpin’.

        • No, but I’ve seen an Brangus bull shot by a 22lr several times from about 10 yards away and it didn’t even fully penetrate the hide. The animal required no medical assitance other than to wash the wound. I’m not sure a Cape Buffalo would even know it had been shot.

        • I have a feeling the person that shot it with the .22 had a better day than the one that tried to icepick it.

          Now, if you mean an ice pick accelerated to over 1,000 fps, fair enough.

    • Ronno. I’m curious. Have you ever shot a rabbit, squirrel, grouse, pheasant, quail, to name just a few with a .223?

      Survival is all about keeping the pot over the fire full. And you will see loads more small game than big game.

    • This is a joke or a flame?

      .22LRs and .22WRM have taken more food than all the other calibers put together. Many people even use .22 shorts for squirrels very successfully.

      In some states it is even legal to harvest deer with .22LR or .22WRM. I have shot both cougars I have taken with a .22WRM – out of a handgun. I have even taken feral hogs with .22WRM and never thought I needed more. (The exception is the true Russian Boar. Those I took with a .44 magnum out of a Ruger semi auto carbine. They are dangerous and much harder to kill.)

      I wish more people would not post if they really don’t know what they are talking about.

      • “.22LRs and .22WRM have taken more food than all the other calibers put together.”
        I just don’t buy that. I’ve heard it for decades, but it’s certainly not been my experience and I’ve seen no data to back it up. If you have any, I’d appreciate seeing it.

        As far as I can tell, the 22LR is legal to hunt deer with in 3 states: Mississippi (only on private land), Vermont, and North Carolina.

        The 22WMR is more than double to triple the energy of a 22LR. That’s like lumping a starting load from a .44SPL with a Ruger/TC only load from the .44 Magnum. Different things entirely.

        • JW: I’m not sure who is correct. I’m not aware of any scientific studies that either side could cite. My reaction was based on personal observation which is not scientific.

          And yes, you are correct the .22LR and the .22WRM are not even close ballistically.

          One state does not allow .22LR for deer but they do allow .22WRM. (Maine)

          I was responding to the statement about .223 being the floor for consideration – or was he?

        • Chance, please don’t get me wrong, if I had to choose between the 22 and the 556 to walk out the door with, I’d pick 22LR all day long.

        • @jwt I am not sure about a 22 taking more “food” but I would say it has taken more animals then any other round. I know you referenced deer but the friend’s place that I hunt will only have about 12 deer havested the whole season. This is very small compared to the squirrels, raccoons, opossums, trapped coyotes/foxes, ground hog, and hogs to be butchered that are all taking with 22. But like I said only a select number of these are “food”.

        • Dave, yup, there I’d definitely agree. And 40 years ago, I might have agreed on the food part too. But in the last 40 years or so, hundreds of thousands of animals have been taken primarily with center fire rifle and birds with shotguns. Heck, there’s more dove taken each year with a shotgun than every other game animal combined.

  4. I have one, I put a lot of rounds through it, and I kind of hate it. It feels cheap and flimsy, it’s an ancient design that just needs to get scrapped.

    The ruger 10/22 takedown put the final nail in the coffin for this gimmicky gun

    • Curious if you have the Henry or the Charter Arms version. I have been leaning towards the 10/22 TD myself, but that’s nearing the price of the PC9. I keep hoping to find a reasonable Norinco copy of the SA-22 or a cheap gallery gun for my get home solution.

  5. Fun gun and great to take off-reading.
    The only problem is that it is too Ammo sensitive. Most of the cheap .22 Ammo does not have the profile to feed well.

    • It’s not ammo sensitive at all. Since my review posted above I bought several and they all run on anything I put through them.

      • I have one that will shoot everything except Federal AutoMatch which is odd because it’s supposed to be made for semi-auto. Loads the first round manually just fine, but that’s it. Next round won’t chamber and there’s a notch across the point of the bullet??? I’ve tried several different times to use it with the same results even using different mags.

        • My GSG/ATI .22 conversion kit for the 1911 hates Automatch, as well as all subsonic ammo. Not enough recoil impulse, despite the Automatch supposedly having the same energy as Mini Mag, which runs 100% in the 1911.

        • My Browning SA-22 loves the Federal Auto Match, and my daughter has a habit of draining an entire box every range session she takes it on.

  6. My wife has one. It’s a cool little plinker and surprisingly accurate.
    Does not float when packed in the stock. Not for long at least.
    A threaded barrel would make it more fun.

  7. As noted above, a 10/22 in a Magpul backpacker stock well surpasses this thing.

    TTAG, get a hold of one of the M6 Scout reproductions TPS Arms recently came out with. Street price 450-480 and they made some changes over the original Springfield. Promise, I don’t work for TPS lol. I just recently discovered this new M6 and there just isn’t a lot of reviews out for it yet. You guys need to check it out for us! Or get me one and I’ll do it lol.

  8. I still have my Charter Arms AR-7, purchased in July 1978. I don’t shoot it much, but it shoots just fine. The only shortcoming is the five-round magazine. I’ve tried a lot of ten- or fifteen-round aftermarket magazines, .over the years, but all of them had feeding problems.

  9. I totally agree with your survivalist assessment of the .22 caliber. I plan for my primary food collector to be my slingshot using the 22 as back up but then I’m an optimist in a rural area who figures I won’t have much time to hunt and may want to minimize my outdoor exposure for a while.

    The toughest job in the world is waking up in the morning and having to hunt for your first bite of food.

    • If you are worried about collecting food, grow a vegetable garden, and plant some fruit trees.

      Samwise knows the truth

      Po-tay-toes! Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew.

      There are times you can’t find squirrels, but taters rarely let you down (other than that whole Irish Phytopthora issue).

  10. Quick question for an objective person in the know – is the Ruger 10/22 takedown worth the additional cost over the Henry AR-7? Considering the use will be as a bug out gun with occasional plinking (guns need exercise too).

    • @ John,

      Both rifles are good firearms, and obviously both have their strengths and weaknesses. There are many reviews on both, some are even head to head match-ups, however personally I would buy both and vet them myself for my needs.

      That said, you mentioned the B.O.B. and cost, so to that end the AR-7 has a advantage over the Ruger in both weight and cost. Most BOB’s are put together with only a passing regard to weight, likely by people who have never slung a heavy pack for any great distances. Therefor if this is important to you, if the word titanium appears on the side of items in your bag, then the AR-7 would be your choice. It weighs approximately 2 fewer pounds, a significant amount when you remember ounces = pounds, and pounds = pain.

    • I bought a house for a rental property and found one in the attic. Whoever owned it must have owned a grease factory, because the whole thing was packed inside and out in thick, heavy grease. Once cleaned, it shot, and still shoots great. Fine guns.

  11. Fun gun, better than nothing, Henry ones look a lot better than the older ones I’ve played with.

    Still waiting for someone to reintroduce the AR-5 in 5.7x28mm.

    • Nate, a survival firearm should be chambered in a very common caliber with the best weight to round count possible. That pretty much eliminates everything except .22 LR.

  12. I think it needs to be judged on what it is – a small 22LR rifle that’s fun to shoot, a good camping plinker or small game tool, pretty accurate, that stores in its own stock which is then a pretty tough hard case. You can shove it in a backpack or under a seat and not worry about it.

  13. I like my M 6 Scout, minus that screwy trigger guard that made it harder to use with thick gloves. That original trigger was designed to be used with Arctic mittens.

  14. The Ruger 9mm carbine is a takedown and would probably be a better survival rifle since it will do self-defense and also kill small game. Any opinions?

  15. Wish Charter made the AR-7 in .22WMR for a little extra pop. A dual cartridge version would be really neat. Maybe the .22WMR barrel with a .22LR insert.
    Have multiple choices for bad events situations. Will select as situation supports. Heavier, more robust calibers/firearms as transportation/stationary allows. Whittling down toward .22WMR/.22LR as situation demands light and mobile.

    • While I doubt that Henry would spend the money to retool, I think you are spot on. A version in .22WRM would force me to buy the first Henry gun I would own. I suspect a lot of very knowledgable gunnies would also be standing in line to buy one as well. I would likely buy several.

      • “buy the first Henry gun I would own” unless you have a BLR, JM marked Marlin or pre 1980’s Winchester you sir are missing out.

        • Jeff the Griz – All my lever actions are older Marlins. I have three different styles of 39s A, D, and M. I also have a 444, a 45-70, and a .44 magnum.

  16. WHEN THE TIDES TURN…

    OTOH, I’ve heard from a number of other outlets that the AR7 is extremely ammo finicky. If the tides turn, I’d rather be caught with a 10/22 takedown or similar kit. I currently have a 10/22 with a folding stock. Been through shit, but still ticks. Of course it won’t float, but /shrug.

  17. Bring back the “Explorer” pistol version Charter Arms came out with in the early 80s. If you got one made before Charter’s quality tanked, you had a lightweight, reliable, aesthetcally impressive .22 pistol that even stored a spare mag in the grip. I’d buy one made with Henry’s quality in a heartbeat.

  18. I dig it, but I think a 22 mag or a 17 hmr would be pretty cool. I’m amazed, 75 comments and I didn’t see anybody bitch about sponsored content!

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