The AR-7: Real Survival Tool or Gimmick?

The AR-7 Survival rifle is a favorite among survivalist. Its an easily packable rifle making it ideal for most situations. You've most likely seen it used in movies. James Bond used it in From Russia with Love, although he had a silencer on his.

The AR-7 was developed by Eugene Stoner, the inventor of one of the best rifles in world. The M-16 service rifle that is still being used by our Armed Forces today. The AR-7 started being used by U.S. Air Force Pilots and Aircrew since 1959. It was developed to be used in their survival if they were shot down or had to punch out of the aircraft.

I had an Henry Repeating Arms version of the AR-7 (the originals were produced by Armalite). Being a survival junkie- I had to have one. Note key word "had".

In my mind I imagined I'd be carrying it in my pack on backpacking/kayaking trips and seemed to be the perfect solution.

If your unfamiliar with the AR-7, all the components pack inside of the butt stock of the weapon. This includes barrel, receiver, and (2) eight round magazines. When inside the butt stock all components are protected from the elements. It's also said that the system will float when packed (I never tried this). It takes about a minute to set the rifle up. It's a very lightweight rifle weighing about 3 lbs.

So why did I get rid of mine? The one and only reason is that it would not cycle ammo properly. I tried a wide variety of ammo and it would constantly malfunction. If this happened to be my only weapon system that would be a problem to say the least. I've heard numerous people say the same. I found that I had the least amount of malfunctions with high velocity .22 ammo. However I still had problems. Another issue is that it requires rounded nosed projectiles versus the "flat front" projectiles commonly used in .22 ammunition. Okay, so for a survival tool I don't want anything that is that finicky or high maintenance. Basically when your selecting survival gear, choose tools you can count on.

Aside from that I do like the concept. The AR-7 is extremely accurate with iron sights. I think it would be a great back up or small game hunting rifle for your Bug Out Bag. But not as your primary weapon system. You don't want to clear a malfunction when trying to defend yourself or miss out on a meal because of a jam.

In conclusion the AR-7 would not be my first choice when selecting a .22 rifle. Maybe as a small game hunting rifle for the BOB. Or for a back-up possibly, if your loading out with a quality AR-15. However small game can be had with other options, some being more stealthy.

Soon I'll be going over my idea of the perfect Bug Out Rifle.


  1. Too bad... I have both the Armlite and the Henry versions and yes, they didn't reliably feed hollowpoints. A very light touch with a file to the chamber solved this issue in both weapons.

    I have probably thrown over a thousand rounds each without issues and the henry is part of my BOB kit. The henry has an integral scope rail while the armlite requires an add-on.

    People regularly trash these excellent firearms but I think it's because they are expecting something more than what it was designed for.

    It's not a primary combat weapon, nor a top line hunting rifle. It's a 'survival' rifle.

    I also own a ruger 10/22 takedown and while it is superior to the ar7 in most respects, I will still pack the ar7 in my BOB for its compactness and weight since all other aspects like accurcy and caliber are equal.

    Just my humble opinion.

    Thanks for your site... great info. I modified my BK2 because of your comments and clarity of instructions.


    1. Hi Dave,
      I wish I'd known about filing the chamber solved that problem. I may would have kept mine. I had the Henry model. How is it in comparison other than the rail mount? I agree with your application of the weapon as far as a BOB rifle. I believe it is perfect for that.

      I'm glad that BK2 info helped you out. Thanks for sharing!

      Take Care

  2. I have a Henry one that is a about a year and a half old. I have put lots of rounds through it, all cheap ammo, and have never had it jamb once. My kids love shooting it. Again, this is a survival hunting gun that I keep in my BOB with the purpose of small game hunting, I would not depend on it for defense unless I had nothing else.


  3. I just picked up one of the older silver Henry models with just one magazine - slightly used. At first the magazine would drop out after the first shot. I adjusted (flared) the slot where the magazine lock fits and solved of that issue.

    Then the next to last round would fail to feed. It seemed the last round was not being held down properly by the spring on the side of the magazine. I did manage to get both old 36 grain Federal HPs and newer 40 grain round nose CCIs to cycle equally well. I removed the spring and adjusted it to be a little more aggressive and the rifle now cycles as it should by hand. I will take it back to the range soon to test it under fire.

    I was pleasantly surprised with its good accuracy and hope to have lots of fun teaching the grandkids to shoot with it. After I am sure it will be reliable I plan to give it a camo treatment to make it look a little less like a toy.

    I have wanted one of these little rifles for decades and am happy to finally have one. I expect it will be a keeper.

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