In the past, I have consistently suggested that the best self-defense weapon is some sort of shotgun. Why? Because with a shotgun accuracy is not critical and if you miss, it is less likely that your pellets will travel along and injure that nice Mrs. Jones who lives just down the street.
But . . . what about a weapon to kill game?
Field and Stream, one of may favorite magazines, has suggestions in this article by Keith McCafferty "What's the Best Survival Weapon?" Mr. McCafferty, who surely know more than I about such things, suggest a couple of rifles:
The Henry U.S. Survival firearm ... is an updated version of the ArmaLite AR-7 designed for the Air Force. Weighing a scant 21⁄2 pounds, it is the ultimate breakdown .22, with the action and barrel unscrewing to fit inside the ABS synthetic buttstock, which floats in case your canoe capsizes.You might note the caveats he has with the Henry.
The second gun I tested was a longtime friend—my .350 Remington Magnum. The best survival weapon is the one you have in your hand when you face a survival situation. For most hunters, that’s a centerfire rifle.
What turns an elk thumper into a small-game provider is the cartridge. Instead of using full-power loads, I fired handgun rounds using a cartridge conversion sleeve (KJ Knives: $25; 406-669‑3382). A conversion sleeve is a housing that encloses a handgun cartridge so it fits the diameter of a rifle bore. (For the .350, it’s the .38 auto.) You can drop 30 or more pistol rounds into a pocket and forget they are there. Reserve your big-game loads to signal for help or rebuff teeth-gnashing creatures of the night.
More info on the Henry here:
Like the original Henry U.S. Survival Rifle, this innovative, semi-automatic model is lightweight (3.5 lbs.) and highly portable. At just 16.5″ long, when all the components are stowed, it easily fits into the cargo area of a plane, boat or in a backpack. It’s chambered in .22 LR so you can carry a large quantity of ammunition without adding much weight to your gear.In short, an emergency rifle for trip to remote areas or as part of your "bug out" gear.
As for the Remington, perhaps Remington still makes a rifle chambered for the .350 magnum, but I couldn't find it on their website. You can buy them used, however, or find an equivalent. A quick glance at the Ruger website seemed to indicate the .350 has fallen out of their favor, too.
Savage Model 99 .300 lever action. As noted here:
For hunting North American game the Savage 99 is still one of the finest hunting rifles of all time.Well, it doesn't have that "conversion sleeve" thing, but then again, I use my very old J.C. Higgins (Sears) bolt action, clip fed .22 for such things. Been shooting with it for 50+ years. A comfortable old friend, and reliable as the day is long.
And perhaps that is the key - choose a gun or guns that you feel comfortable with and then take the time to practice. When the need is great is the worst time to be figuring out how to use such a vital tool.