I think most people who don't own a rifle , lack one only because they don't have $1200 for an AR-15. There are lots of alternatives if you want a good rifle or pistol, but you need to not fixate on Guns and Ammo or the evening news. There are more pistols than Glocks alone, and there are more rifles than the AR-15.
If you feel like you may need to hold off a horde of Zombies, I can see holding out for a semi-automatic. If you're a vet and the M16 was your issue weapon, it makes sense to get an AR-15. If you are a person who never served in the military, doesn't know much about guns, never had one, but want one now you have options.
British Enfield rifles would be a good choice for a man, or a stalwart woman who could take the recoil. But .303 British is hard to come by these days. Yes, there are old guys living up in the woods who bought it by the case , cheap, in the 1980's and 1990's, but those days are gone for good.
If you can handle the recoil, the Indian built version of the Enfield No.1 MK.III, in .308 Winchester might be just the ticket. I know at least one lady whose blog I read who routinely fires a .308 Mauser at the range and she can handle it without difficulty. Most men wouldn't think anything of the recoil from a .308. The Ishapore 2 or 2A holds ten or twelve rounds of .308. They are not considered collectors items and don't bring much. Several thousand were imported back in the 1990's by Val Fogget at Navy Arms, and I think some other importers brought some in as well. You can find them in pawn shops and at gun shows for around $250.00. I own several and have never had a problem with them. They're fine rifles. If you have no firearm, but you want one, this might be the way to go. .308 ammo is easy to get (or will be when the supply comes back) and the Enfield design is very reliable and rarely needs any repair work if properly maintained.