Quite often the key to surviving a critical situation is to make it through the first 24 to 48 hours. This is especially true if you are caught away from your home and where all of your survival preparedness essentials are stored. For this reason, a good precaution in these troubled times is to keep a “go-bag” handy, especially in a place like your vehicle or place of work. Whether you are in a wilderness or urban environment, having basic emergency gear in a lightweight package could make all the difference. Which brings us to the AR-7 U.S. Survival Pack from Henry Repeating Arms.
This is a complete “grab and go” kit designed to cover the basic essentials and improve your odds of getting out of dire circumstances on your own two feet. The main component around which this survival pack is organized is the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 rifle in .22 LR. This lightweight firearm weighs in at just 3.5 pounds and breaks down so it can be carried inside its own water-resistant ABS plastic stock. Compartments in the stock hold the barrel, receiver and up to three magazines, each of which hold eight rounds.
The AR-7 Backstory
Many of you will recognize the AR-7, as it has been made by several manufacturers over the years and has a long history of military and civilian use. Originally produced as the AR-5 by Armalite, it started as a bolt-action design for the centerfire .22 Hornet cartridge. Armalite first produced it in 1954 at the behest of the U.S. Air Force as the MA-1 aircrew survival rifle and was to be carried in the XB-70 supersonic bomber. Its takedown feature, plus its construction of lightweight plastic and aluminum alloy, allowed it to fit in the cramped confines of an aircraft cockpit. Officially adopted in 1956, only 12 saw production before the XB-70 program was discontinued.
The overall layout of the AR-5 was re-engineered as a semi-automatic in .22 LR and released as a civilian survival weapon in 1959. The resulting rifle has been in production by one arms maker or another ever since. Henry’s U.S. Survival AR-7 is lightweight, portable, easy to operate, reliable, and accurate enough to take small game or offer some protection. On top of that, .22 LR ammo can be found almost anywhere in the world, and you can carry a lot of it without being too weighed down.
Henry’s AR-7 Features
The U.S. Survival Pack was delivered with a black AR-7, though Henry offers two camo versions. It arrived taken down, with the components stored inside the buttstock. The stock is a pistol-grip design with serrations on top of the wrist. At the pistol grip’s bottom is a plastic wingnut connected to a long screw; this holds the receiver to the stock. Just slide the receiver into the stock slot and tighten the wingnut snuggly.
The tapered barrel is attached to the receiver via a large threaded collar. A small pin on the breech end of the barrel fits into a slot on the receiver so everything lines up properly. It makes things a bit easier if you exert some backward pressure on the barrel and hold the bolt open while you are screwing the barrel on. The mag well is just forward of the triggerguard, and the magazine release is easy to reach with your trigger finger.
The steel, 16.13-inch barrel has a 1-in-16-inch twist rate. Henry covered it in coated ABS plastic. The front sight has a plastic, blaze-orange blade dovetailed into its base. The alloy receiver also has a black protective coating, and the steel bolt is black as well. This is a basic blowback-operated rifle, and the charging handle is a black steel rod that pulls in and out for manipulations.
The safety is located on the right-rear side of the receiver. On top you’ll find an accessory rail that sweeps upward to form a protective hood for the rear peep sight. A slotted screw at the rear of the receiver can be loosened to permit rudimentary adjustments to the rear sight. Finally, the test sample’s fit and finish were very good, and the trigger pull started with some rough creep but then broke at 5.6 pounds.
What’s in the Kit?
The second part of the U.S. Survival Pack is a black nylon case about 20 inches long and 9 inches deep with a zipper closure on top and carrying straps. The case is padded with polyurethane foam, and the main compartment is large enough to hold the rifle enclosed within the stock. The exterior hosts two more pouches with zipper closures, one slightly larger than the other. The larger one has an elastic strip sewn inside to hold small implements.
A plastic bag within the pack contains a number of helpful survival items. To keep you going until you can find food, the bag includes four nutritious Datrex bars with 250 calories each. Henry also includes an Aquamira Frontier Straw that offers EPA- and NSF/ANSI-certified filtration for up to 30 gallons of water, an ESEE Fire Steel in a tin box to use with a sparking medium (like flint or a ferro rod) and a Buck Rival folding knife with a 2.75-inch, stainless steel blade. The knife has a black nylon handle and a thumb stud for one-handed opening. It’s just the thing for dressing fish, game or doing camp chores.
Henry also includes 100 feet of nylon paracord, which can be paired with the kit’s Mylar blanket to fashion a small shelter. Of course, this blanket could also be used for signaling and staying warm. Lastly is a SWAT-T tourniquet that doubles as a pressure bandage. Everything in the kit, including the AR-7, is U.S.-made.
Most .22s can be picky about the ammunition they prefer. To test out the AR-7’s accuracy and reliability, I ran through it a few different loads from CCI, Federal, and Winchester, firing five-shot groups with each at some paper targets seven yards away. My best five-shot group, produced with the CCI Mini-Mag rounds, measured 0.92 inches. Second place went to Federal’s Gold Medal Match rounds, which produced a 0.99-inch five-shot cluster. With an improved trigger, I think the AR-7 is capable of better. But the trigger pull was crunchy and hard to predict. Needless to say, this was not conducive to producing tight groups.
Next, I set up a Birchwood Casey PreGame Turkey target. Solid kill hits show pink around the bullet hole; other potentially lethal strikes are yellow. Misses are white. Using a range roof support beam as a simulated tree, I shot five Federal rounds and five CCI Mini-Mag rounds at the turkey’s head. I earned six pinks (five on the head, one on the spine), three yellows (head and neck) and a miss that flew just above the head. In most cases, I think I would have bagged a turkey.
My last exercise involved a scenario where I had to engage a two-legged adversary with the AR-7. For this I chose the CCI AR Tactical load and filled both eight-shot magazines. Then I placed a Birchwood Casey Shadow target 50 yards away and engaged from the bench. All but one shot stayed in the silhouette, and I scored five hits in the red upper-thorax zone, eight hits in the gray upper chest and neck area, and two hits in the black area of the right collarbone.
The pivoting safety lever worked well, but I’d like to have a red dot to show me when it’s in the “fire” position. Perhaps the charging handle could be elongated or the design changed slightly so that it could act as a bolt-hold-open device. It’s worth noting that the bolt does not lock back when the last round is fired.
The sights worked just fine for my distances, but I still don’t like plastic on sights. As for reliability, I only had two failures to feed, and both easily cleared. The CCI Quiet-22 cartridges don’t have enough power to cycle the action, but I really didn’t expect them to.
To sum up, the Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 and the Survival Pack are very good insurance while being very affordable. The AR-7 runs very well and is accurate enough for small game and protection. Mine’s staying in my car! For more information, visit HenryUSA.com.
Henry U.S. Survival AR-7 Specs
- Caliber: .22 LR
- Barrel: 16.13 inches
- Overall Length: 35 inches
- Weight: 3.5 pounds (empty)
- Stock: ABS plastic
- Sights: Blade front, peep rear
- Action: Semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 8+1
- MSRP:$305 ($550 with Survival Pack)
|CCI 36 Mini-Mag||1,260||1.39||0.92|
|CCI 40 AR Tactical||1,200||1.56||1.36|
|CCI 40 Quiet-22||710||1.68||1.32|
|Federal 40 Gold Medal Match||1,200||1.25||0.99|
|Winchester 40 Super-X||1,280||1.37||1.01|
Bullet weight measured in grains velocity in fps by chronograph and accuracy in inches for four 5-shot groups at 7 yards.
This article is from the winter 2019 issue of Survivor’s Edge Magazine. You can grab digital and also print subscriptions at OutdoorGroupStore.com.