A takedown rifle is an excellent style of firearm that is easy to transport since it breaks down quickly into a number of separate parts. It can then be carried in a backpack or a briefcase, but you can get it out and assemble it in seconds. If you’re putting together a bag and a disaster kit, you absolutely want to have a takedown rifle as part of the kit. There is no handgun in the world—not even the vaunted .44 magnum—that can match everything a long rifle provides. A takedown rifle is nearly as easy to carry as a handgun, so you get the firearm you really want without compromising on space. Let’s look at some of your options.
The Nemesis Arms Vanquish
Let’s get this one out of the way first. It’s the king of takedown rifles, a military grade sniper rifle that gained a bit of fame when it was featured in The Bourne Legacy. That rifle that he pulls out of his backpack and sticks together while he’s on the run in the mountains isn’t some gadget they dreamed up for the film. It’s a real, world-class rifle that you can buy. It comes with interchangeable barrels in multiple calibers, so it’s really like buying a handful of excellent weapons at once. You can carry it in a backpack, like he does in the move, or in a briefcase.
Now the downside: The Vanquish is going to run you about $4,500. If you have that type of money to drop on a takedown rifle, go for it. This is the best one you can get. It’s handcrafted and immaculate. But, for most of us, it is overkill and eats up too much of the budget.
The AR-7 Survival Rifle
This rifle was originally developed for the military. Pilots would carry it so that, if they were shot down, they’d have at least a small firearm with them. It’s a .22 caliber rifle, so that’s far different than a combat weapon, but it’s better than not having a gun at all. The storage system for the gun is what makes it unique. The barrel and the receiver both break off of the stock. You can then take the plate off of the back of the stock and store the pieces in the stock itself. Replacing the plate keeps them safe and dry.
The upsides to a rifle like this are huge. It saves an incredible amount of space, so you can easily just drop one in your backpack and know it’s there if you need it. Plus, it’s cheap. You can get one at places like Cabela’s and Gander Mountain—typically thought of as over-priced stores—for around $250 to $280. And that’s brand new. You can do much better if you shop around a bit. In a lot of ways, even if you have a different firearm that’s your main one, it may not be a bad idea to have an AR-7 in your bag as a backup.
The Browning Lever Action 81
The BLR 81 is a traditional level-action rifle from a company known for making very nice hunting firearms. It looks a lot like Browning’s standard BLR, but the barrel can be taken off to reduce the rifle’s size. It’s a limited breakdown compared to the AR-7, but it does what it’s meant to do and makes the gun fit in a backpack. It’s also a fairly light rifle, but the quality is still quite high.
The upside to the BLR is that you can get it in many typical hunting calibers, like .270, 30-06, or 7mm Rem. Mag. You can also get it in .223. The BLR is reliable and well-made, and it’s as accurate as everything else Browning puts out, which is to say you can hammer the target from long distance with ease. You do have to pay for it, as it’s going to run from $1,000 to about $1,200, depending on which one you get. That is over the mark set for standard hunting rifles, like the Browning X-Bolt, which you can get for around $700. You’re paying the extra $400 for the takedown. That said, the BLR 81 is a legit hunting rifle, so you’re not stuck with something underpowered if you need a bigger round. If you want a takedown rifle and don’t want to compromise, this is a great option.
One downside is that Browning makes the gun with laminated wood. If you paid this much for a high-end X-Bolt—like the White Gold Medallion—you’d get solid wood with a beautiful finish. The laminated wood looks fine, but purists may feel like the quality is a bit under what they’d prefer in that regard.
The Covert Carry Kit
This isn’t a takedown rifle, per se, but a kit that turns (almost) any AR-15 into a takedown rifle. The AR platform is already versatile and lends itself to breakdowns, but this makes it even faster and more reliable. It also helps to ensure that your AR is accurate when you put it back together. The kit consists of a few different barrel nuts that have to be replaced, and you can do this yourself or have a gunsmith do it. It also comes with a fore-end tube, which you slide down over the barrel and use to tighten the nuts, screwing it down. The kit also comes with a black briefcase.
Basically, you break the gun down into three parts: the receiver, the barrel, and the tube. The first two snap together, the tube tightens down and forms the grip, and your rifle is ready to go. The case has room for both a magazine and an optic to stay mounted.
The upside here is that it works on just about every AR on the market, and it’s only $250 for the conversion kit. You can get a full 16-inch AR, like the Underground Tactical Bacon Maker, and have a takedown rifle for around $1,250. This can cost less if you simply buy a less expensive AR, so the price point—and quality—is up to you. For those who already own multiple ARs, this is a cheap and easy way to transform any of them.