Is there a distinction?
In my opinion, there actually is a difference between a prepper and a survivalist. Although, they both have the same goal in mind: to live their lives on this earth for as long as they possibly can. They both form a plan with a goal and set out to achieve their goals. Not every prepper or survivalist has the same plan, but they all have the same goal.
Preppers are usually defined as people who stock up on food and water to have in case long term emergencies, disasters, or other unforeseen events happen. They mostly plan on hunkering down in their homes should such an event occur. Some have goals of buying land and building a cabin, or developing a homestead (homesteaders); becoming completely self-reliant. Others just plan to stay where they are and make sure they have enough food, water, and resources to do so. Not all, but most will also have some type of firearm(s) or weapon(s) to protect themselves and their families.
When I first heard about prepping, I thought I had to plan to live off the land (or live off grid). I soon realized that was not a possibility for me in my current situation. So, I began doing what I could and began storing up food and necessities for an emergency situation, along with putting together a Bug out Bag. Quite honestly, that's how most preppers/survivalists begin their journey.
When you think of preppers, what do you see in your mind? Some backwoods hillbilly family from the deep South? Maybe someone like Phil Robertson from the t.v. series Duck Dynasty? Or perhaps you envision hippy-like people living in a commune. Yes, there are some extremists in the prepping world, but the reality of it is that most preppers are just normal people like you and me. Not that I've ever been accused of being normal, lol. Take for instance that cashier at the grocery store...she could be a prepper. Or the lady who leads the women's group at church...she could be a prepper. How about your pastor? Your co-worker? Your brother-in-law? I'm sure you get the point.