Survival Foraging

A major disaster has happened—hurricane, EMP, insurrection, whatever. You saw it coming, and you got your family “out of Dodge.” You reached your survival retreat successfully, and it is intact along with your cache of emergency supplies.

You and yours are safe for the moment. Your preparations, of course, included more than one firearm among your emergency supplies. So, which firearms did you choose?

Defending your family with a firearm isn’t just about dealing with any bad guys who are looking to take your lives and property. It’s also about what happens if or when your cache of food and other supplies is depleted.

That’s where survival foraging comes in. That includes gathering whatever edible plant food is available, but this blog is about obtaining animal protein—hunting, in other words.

In a survival situation, it is probably not a good idea to draw attention to your presence with loud noises such as gunfire. Archery, either a bow and arrows or crossbow, is an option with pros and cons. Another option is a firearm equipped with a silencer.

A 12-gauge shotgun is an excellent choice for close-in defense or hunting wild game. However, it is almost impossible to equip it with an effective silencer. A center fire rifle, especially chambered for a subsonic cartridge, is useful, especially if your quarry is a deer or other large animal.

There is another option that I believe is a better choice for discreet hunting of small game in a survival scenario—a silenced rifle or pistol chambered for .22 long rifle.

Most .22s are very accurate and, with careful shot placement, cause little meat damage. Also, the ammo is very small, so a large quantity can be stored in a small space. Equally important, a .22 can be readily silenced, especially with subsonic or standard velocity ammo.

After all the NFA red tape, ATF Form 4, background check, $200 tax and waiting for a year, I recently received my .22 silencer from SSK Industries. It has a 1/2×28 thread, which fits perfectly on my Ruger Mark III with a factory-threaded barrel.

This Ruger .22 rimfire has an untapered 4 ½-inch barrel with a muzzle threaded 1/2x 28 to accept a silencer. It has no iron sights. Instead it has a picatinny rail on top of the frame and a second rail on the barrel at the six O-clock position. I equipped the Ruger with an early Holosight made by Eotech for Bushnell. (For long-term survival purposes, iron sights would have been a better option, I believe.)

I tried my new toy with CCI Quiet 22 subsonic ammo, which has a muzzle velocity of 710 feet per second. On the side of the box is a warning:

“These cartridges may be used in semi-automatic firearms. However, manual cycling of the action may be required.”

This turned out to be correct. Although the ammo was accurate, I had to operate the bolt to eject the empty and chamber a fresh round. That’s not a problem in my view, as long as it doesn’t come as a surprise and you are ready to do the needful.

I also tried CCI Green Tag, which is a “standard velocity” load, meaning its muzzle velocity is a bit lower than the speed of sound. For Green Tag, MV is rated at 1,070 feet per second (speed of sound is ~1,126 fps at sea level).

This is significant for two reasons: First, shock wave turbulence at sonic speed usually degrades accuracy a tad. Second, sonic speed generates a small “sonic boom” along with the shock wave.

Green Tag performed well in my silenced Ruger pistol. I would say it was quieter than if you rapped your knuckle against a wood desk. The main difference between this load and CCI Quiet 22, is that it cycled the semi-auto action flawlessly.

The added benefit of a silenced firearm is that you need no hearing protection, which is nice.

If you are prepared to undergo the red tape, hefty tax, and waiting period the federal government imposes, this is a good choice for survival foraging—and it’s a hoot to shoot.

Stan Skinner

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