Hello and welcome back to The Rimfire Report. This weekly series covers all sorts of topics surrounding the rimfire firearm world. Today we’ll be taking a look at the concept of a Lightweight Rimfire Survival rifle. Specifically, we’re going to look at it from the perspective of a backpacker or adventurer. This means the rifle itself will have to be not only lightweight, but also stable without interfering with things like climbing, running, and perhaps even swimming. So what options are out there and what do I think works best? Let’s find out.
The Rimfire Report: 3 Great Lightweight Rimfire Survival Rifles
1. Kel-Tec CMR30 – 22WMR
This firearm has been on my bucket list of things to buy ever since it came out. Kel-Tec really knocked it out of the park with this rifle and I think it has to be probably one of the best compact and lightweight magnum rimfire designs on the market.
The Kel-Tec CMR30 weighs just 3.8 lbs unloaded and is also short in its collapsed mode at 22.5″. This means that while the CMR30 can’t quite fit inside a standard-sized backpack, it most assuredly will fit inside something like a 5.11 Tactical Rush100 backpack. If that’s not your style or isn’t a part of your kit, the rifle could easily be carried to the side of the backpack using MOLLE webbing without making your rig overly large.
The main downside with this one is that it’s just ever so slightly too long, at worst, you’ll be taking up a large portion of your backpack space and you’d also have to deal with the barrel poking out of the back which may or may not be acceptable to you. However for me, simply securing it to the side would be the best option giving you ready access and keeping your backpack free for ammunition, gear, and provision storage.
2. Savage Model 42 Takedown – .410/22 WMR
This is a bit of a controversial pick for me as it sort of breaks the whole “rimfire” qualifier, however, it does include a rimfire barrel and I’m choosing to include it for the novelty. The Model 42 incorporates an over-under design which makes use of a .410 smoothbore barrel underneath a .22 WMR barrel.
The Model 42 makes for a great lightweight rimfire survival rifle due to the addition of a shotgun barrel, however, the 22WMR option is suitable for small game hunting as well. The major downside here in comparison to the CMR30 above is the lack of any options for optics meaning you’ll have to keep your survival hunting to within 50 yards unless you’re extremely proficient with iron sights.
The Savage Model 42 comes in at just 6.1 pounds with an assembled overall length of 38-inches. The one-button takedown system breaks the firearm into two halves with the barrels being just 20″ in length and the stock being slightly shorter. This bundle normally comes with its own “bug out bag” but I could just as easily see someone throwing this in their own backpack with a small box of .410 shells and 22 WMR ammunition for a weekend of backpacking.
3. Ruger 10/22 takedown – 22LR
The 10/22 seems to make its way into every rimfire discussion and for good reason – the rifle is a staple of the rimfire firearms industry. The Ruger 10/22 Takedown is Ruger’s solution to the backpacking question. This rifle in particular is both the lightest and the most compact of the three items on this list. This particular model has a few extra features I find helpful in the backpacking setting.
The 10/22 Takedown is only 4.2 pounds in its base configuration (ironically lighter than the “lite” version of this rifle) and features a 16.12-inch barrel and synthetic stock which comes with a replaceable comb to adjust for use with a scope or red dot sight. That brings me to the biggest downside of this particular rifle for this application – the weakest and arguably least reliable ammunition out of the three.
There is no integrated rail system with the 10/22 Takedown and therefore you are forced to either use a Picatinny adapter, weaver mount, or a tip-off mount. While it’s not a dealbreaker and I’d likely put some sort of optic on my survival rifle (I did this with my 10/22 Charger backpack gun). Despite this, the 10/22 is one of the cheaper options and also the shortest and easily fits into a smaller sized day backpack for those shorter weekend trips. The big downside here is the relatively weaker ammo when compared to the two options above.
As a major added bonus is how the front half of the rifle integrates with the rear half into once piece making stowing the firearm more organized.
I picked these particular rifles due to the two main factors – weight and overall size. Each one incorporates some sort of ability to decrease the overall size of the weapon while maintaining a consistent barrel length. This is why I didn’t suggest any pistols or SBR conversions of larger weapons as pistols tend to lack durable and lightweight bracing options that are affordable and most people I find are not willing to go the NFA route to SBR a full-sized rifle just for a backpacking trip.
In any case, I found these three options to be the best for a survival situation, all of them except for possibly the 10/22 use potent enough ammunition for taking down smaller game and in a pinch the CMR30 could be used in a self-defense situation with good success due to the magazine capacity, this is also incidentally what put it at the top of the list for me.
As always comments and thoughts are welcome and thanks again for stopping by to read another edition of The Rimfire Report! See you next time. And for those of you who can read to the end – I know the Henry AR-7 exists, and we’ll be seeing it in The Rimfire Report soon hopefully.
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