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The BEST Backwoods Gun in the Middle of NowhereThe Firearm Blog

Right now its fall across the US where the leaves are changing colors, hunting seasons are beginning, and people are mongering over all foods infused with pumpkin spice. As many of us head out into the woods for the various hunting seasons, we at TFB wanted to propose a question to you with some potential answers. What is the BEST backwoods gun?

This is the second installment for Reader’s Choice Awards.  Based on feedback from the “peanut gallery/troll farm” (yes we actually do, in fact, listen to you all occasionally) we are going to play around with the selection criteria.  Many of you commented that you felt certain guns should have been included on the past list.  This month we are going to try something a little different.  In general:

  • Each month we are going to host a poll that you can vote on.
  • Each month will be a different category (Optics, Revolver, Bolt Action Rifle, Concealed Carry Pistol, etc.).
  • The list of entries will be curated from the top sales in the preceding six months.  This is solely to introduce some objectivity into it; there must be some popularity if it tops the sales list (or is horrifically expensive)
  • A random winner will be picked from voters and that winner will get some swag.
  • You can vote for your choice every day while the poll is running and you can earn an extra entry for telling us WHY you chose it (we will pick some of the most creative and highlight them during the results post)
  • At the end of the month, we will post the winning choice (along with the other results) and the company will get some bragging rights (if they want them).  They do not get a swag pack.

How we are changing it this month is to allow for you, the readers to suggest items that should be part of this poll.  Each day we will troll (in the fishing sense) the comments and look for suggestions that have four (5) or more upvotes, and those will be added to the poll.  Since you will be allowed to vote daily, there is always a chance that your suggestion could make it to the top.


To start we will paint the scenario for you. We are looking for a firearm that is meant to be used for hunting. It has to be able to provide sustenance for you. This gun must be low maintenance. You are far away from civilization and handy gunsmiths. The firearm has to have common ammunition. The gun you choose must be in a cartridge common enough where your remote hardware store could potentially stock it. The desolate, backwoods cabin you live in does not have internet or receive shipments from Brownells (you should move then, right?). So in this far-fetched backwoods scenario what gun do you want? You only get one… make it count!

Century Arms C39V2 7.62x39mm Rifle

Some of the hunting purists may disagree, but the crude and equally popular AK-47 could be a very viable option in our scenario. Is this gun low maintenance? Dang skippy it is! Clean it with gasoline, wash it with dish water, or shake it off in a river. The AK-47 gets the highest marks for reliability and being low maintenance. The 7.62x39mm cartridge, or basically a stout .30 Cal, is perfect for hunting medium-sized game like whitetail deer or pigs to feed yourself. While the 7.62x39mm cartridge is extremely common amongst internet retailers and chain gun stores, it could prove to be a difficult find at a hardware store in the middle of nowhere. In that regard, it loses some points. An upside to an AK-47 rifle conversely is the iron sights. Their metal and durable design suits a backwoods scenario perfectly. Overall, an AK-47 rifle is compact in size making it very handy to maneuver and hunt with, and is a very effective backwoods gun.

Winchester Model 1886 Lever-Action .45-70 Gov’t Rifle

If you think a lever-action rifle would make for the perfect backwoods gun you are starting to get warmer. A lever-action rifle can be great because it affords the user higher ammo capacity without the potential of losing a detachable magazine. Also, lever-action rifles in carbine configurations are incredibly light, easy to carry, and feature metal iron sights; all positives. If the caliber you would lean towards in a lever-action though is a .45-70 Government, there are actually more negatives than positives. While you might be able to source the ammo it is pretty expensive. It also kicks quite a bit and can be overkill for most game you would procure to eat. You might end up damaging more meat than you eat. Lever-action rifles typically require little to no maintenance which is one plus for the platform. A lever-action chambered in .45-70 Gov’t is a decent choice for a backwoods gun, but it could be more of a hindrance in the long run than helpful.

backwoods gun

Winchester Model 1886 .45-70 Gov’t Rifle [Photo Credit: Winchester Repeating Arms]

Springfield Armory SAINT AR-15 .300 BLK Pistol

Like the AK-47 from earlier, not everyone will agree with this modern firearm because it comes across as too modern, tactical or scary. The fact of the matter is though that the AR-15 platform is a Lego playset for adults. It is extremely universal in its interchangeability of parts. Most shooting enthusiasts are either well-versed or trying to learn about the platform. An AR-15 might require more cleaning and maintenance than other firearms, but it likely can be done with ease by the owner. By choosing an AR-15 pistol you have something small enough to potentially throw in a backpack yet accurate enough to connect on short-range shots of roughly 200 yards since you can shoulder them with a brace. The .300 Blackout cartridge, which is 7.62x35mm, has extremely similar ballistics and utility as your standard AK-47 in 7.62x39mm. It boasts utility nearly equal to an AK-47, but the ammo is not as prevalent as one would hope in the backwoods. Another conundrum is sights. You could run a red dot which is common, but then you invite the risk of batteries dying. So a pair of metal flip-up iron sights is nearly a must. If your backwoods gun of choice is an AR-15 .300 Blackout pistol it is a decent option, but there are likely better choices out there.

Marlin 336C Lever-Action .30-30 Win Carbine Rifle

A lever-action in a carbine rifle length, or shorter barrel, makes for a near perfect backwoods gun. The venerable .30-30 Winchester cartridge is one of the most enduring rounds a hunter could choose. Dating back to 1895 when it was 1st introduced in the iconic Winchester Model 1894, this round may have successfully harvested more big-game animals in North America than any other cartridge to date. While this might be a “1911 argument” as far as harvesting the most animals, its tenured efficacy still holds true. The freight-train ballistics of the .30-30 Winchester, or 7.62x51mmR (rimmed), is similar to the .300 BLK and 7.62x39mm we favorably mentioned previously. With the ability to plow straight through most light brush to its intended target, the .30-30 Winchester slightly edges out other .30 caliber rounds as a backwoods favorite. The .30-30 Win is also a cheap round and if a local gas station or hardware store sells ammo, they will surely have something in .30-30 Win. With a lever-action carbine, you also will have metal iron sights which are dependable and a magazine tube with 6+1 capacity at worst. Also, the compact size and light weight will be easy to trudge through the backwoods for extended days of hunting. Overall, for this list at least, a lever-action .30-30 Win carbine rifle is the winner of BEST Backwoods Gun!

A couple more great suggestions for this type of rifle are Winchester Model 94 Carbine or a Henry Repeating Arms H009 Steel. All great choices with the determining factor merely being price, feel or if you are brand preferential at all.

So what do you think?… Does this list suck?… Or do you agree?… In any case, vote, let us know your thoughts in the Comments below, and suggest the models you think would be appropriate!

Reader’s Choice Award, Best Backwoods Gun

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