At some point the question arises, “What gun, if any, should I have in my kit?” The answer often is “none”.
Guns are expensive, big and heavy, and so is the ammo, and when the ammo runs out, all you have is a finely machined equivalent to a rock. No gun worth having will fit into smaller kits, and storage of a kit with a gun in it is problematical. Generally you want to have all guns stored securely or under your direct control. A survival kit in the safe might be “too much trouble to get” that time that it turns out you need it, while always carrying around a kit big enough to hold a gun would be tedious. If you don’t store the kit securely, you are at greater risk of the kit being stolen, and guns aren’t covered by insurance unless you pay extra. And there is always the chance of a kid getting hold of it with tragic results.
Say none of this dissuades you. The question you have to ask yourself, is “What do I want the gun to do in a survival situation?” Let us eliminate the “prepping” and “Bug-Out-Bag” scenarios, since this blog series concentrates on those survival situations where you WANT to be found. Scenarios where you are avoiding people or defending yourself against mobs of attackers need a completely different approach than does a survival kit gun.
A survival kit has to be fairly “painless” to carry, which means that for any, with the possible exception of a backpack sized kit, we are looking at a handgun. The reasons to carry a gun for a potential survival situation would primarily be for hunting. Possibilities are game from the size of rabbits up to the size of deer, as well as birds. Anything bigger is pretty much beyond the reliable capability of a handgun, and would seem to be unnecessary in most survival situations. Other benefits from a gun would be protection from wild animals and occasionally protection from a person. It is dangerous and requires special techniques, but a gun can be used for signalling and even starting a fire.
Consider the possible calibers. .22LR is a possibility; the guns which fire it can be moderately small, and the ammunition is small. It is good for hunting small game. It might scare off an attacking animal or person. .22 Magnum is a bit more effective but still is not reliable for hunting deer or stopping a good sized wild animal or a person which is attacking. 9mm, .40 and .45 are decent defense calibers with the right bullets, but the guns tend to be fairly large and heavy, and they generally are not particularly effective when hunting. 44 Magnum is good for defense from animal (about the only one which gives you any chance at all against a Grizzly bear), and good for hunting deer. With .44 special bullets, it might serve for smaller game, perhaps down to Javelina. With shot shells, you might be able to get birds. But the .44 is big and heavy, as is it’s ammo.
Pretty much the only major choice remaining is .357. With the best ammo, it is good for defense against man or beast (up to mountain lion at least), and adequate for hunting from Javelina to deer. With a light .38 special load, it might even take rabbits; shot shells are available for this caliber as well, but you’d want to be sure your gun and ammo combination would be effective against birds.
So, in my opinion, the .22 and the .357 would be what I would choose between, unless Grizzlies were a likelihood. And the choice would be weighted towards which was smaller. Keep in mind that the gun you choose must give you the capability to hit a vital spot on the game you are going after. Part of this is you; that is PRACTICE. And part of it is the gun. Make sure you have a tight action, everything which needs lube is lubed, and it is kept clean and protected from the elements. Perhaps one of the more key components is good sights. Perhaps next is a smooth trigger. The longer the barrel, the better from a usage standpoint, but the worse from a carrying standpoint. I would say that 4″ would be the minimum and 6″ the maximum as a general guide, but of course you should choose what will fit and what you can hit your desired target with.