Survival Shotgun Part 1: 6 Reasons You Need One

Survival Shotgun

A shotgun is a valuable tool that should be in every survival toolkit.  In today’s environment the shotgun can be a bit of a question mark; it’s more powerful than a pistol but has less range than a rifle, and limited magazine capacity.  It’s not always clear when or how to deploy the shotgun. Here are 6 good reasons every survivalist needs one.

This article is Part 1 in a series of guest posts on the Survival Shotgun by mr. Smashy (Flickr) Part 2 and Part 3

1. Power and Performance

A shotgun is a large step up in force from a handgun.  Since their inception they’ve been know as a solid performer.  The they have been the backup long arm for law enforcement for at least a hundred years.  Shotguns have been used to such great effect in the closed-in trenches of World War I that Germany protested their use and threatened execution for any troops found in possession of them.

2. Versatility of Ammunition

Shotgun AmmoShotguns can fire rounds that other small arms usually can not.  An example is bird shot, which can get small game for food, or less lethal rounds like beanbags that are meant to stop violent encounters without causing serious harm.  There are less lethal weapon systems, but they are expensive and can only deploy less lethal rounds.  Only the shotgun is capable of firing both rounds (and more.)

3. Price and Availability

Shot Guns for SaleShotguns have a high availability, and are cheaper than most rifles.  With a few hundred dollars you can walk into a local superstore and purchase a shotgun in most of America.  This means you can afford to upgrade your preparedness right now.  You should still save up for that semi-auto rifle, but you can bump up your firepower now.  Shotguns are also cheap enough that you can hand one out to upgrade a member of your team’s load out if they do not have a long arm.

4. Legislative Protection

ConstitutionThe shotgun is looked at as a sporting arm by legislators and usually the last type of weapon to be banned or legislated against.  This is not always the case, but even in cities like Chicago it is legal to own a shotgun where handguns and large capacity magazines are completely banned.  This may be extremely helpful for the urban survivalist.

5. Ease of Maintenance

Most shotguns are very easy to maintain.  You can clean and maintain a pump shotgun cheap and easy with both commercial and improvised supplies.  A cleaning kit can take up no more than the space of a coffee mug if you wish.  You can pack a spare cleaning kit in your Bug Out Bag and not worry about it going bad or ruining the contents of your pack.  Improvised supplies are all dual use items, making maintenance even easier.

6. Modular

Mossberg M500SPShotguns are modular.  You can take a basic “home defense” model and swap the short barrel with a long game barrel and hunt rabbit or duck.  You can change the furniture from wood to synthetic to reduce weight and increase strength.  You can swap the stock for a pistol grip if you want a backpack gun.  The options are endless, but you have to make wise choices; one bad part could compromise the reliability of your shotgun.

I am not suggesting the shotgun be the only weapon in your survival toolkit, but it is a powerful tool that can be adapted for many situations.  There are some big limitations that you will be made aware of, but it should be obvious that force, cost, diversity, and adaptability are the main strengths of the shotgun.

Part 2

Part 2 of the Survival Shotgun series by mr. Smashy : Survival Shotgun Part 2: Choosing Gauge and Type

Visit Our New Survival Gear Store – Forge Survival Supply

Photo by: mr. smashy

{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

Montezuma1775 April 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Amazing timing on this article… I just purchased my first shotty today… I got a Mossberg 590 SP… It is tactical, but I plan on getting another barrel for hunting when I get a couple more coins together. I agree that if you have nothing else, you need a decent shotgun… versatility is the key… you can do alot of different things with one. Nobody is going to want to carry around a full arsenal WTSHTF.

This is basically what I got… I couldn't find a link on Mossberg


steven1956 December 16, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Nice shot gun but they are heavy when fully loaded and when you have too carry it a long time they can feel like they are 20 lbs !


Montezuma1775 April 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm

so now my very small aresenal consists of.. the new mossberg, a hi point 380, and a .22 rifle w/ a cheap scope. I am tempted to add an AR to the mix, but not sure if it is just my mandhood talkin' or if it would really be a good addition for a survival arsenal.


mr_smashy April 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I'd recommend a centerfire rifle, a shotgun simply doesn't have the range. The AR-15 is a good mid-range rifle with excellent ergonomics and firepower, but unless you reload or spend money on a supply of quality ammunition, terminal ballistics can be anemic at range. Surplus/import/bulk ammo can have questionable stopping characteristics. Especially with the more popular shorter rifles with reduced velocity. For engagements less than 200 yards this becomes less of a concern. But 200 yards is still twice the effective range of a shotgun slug, and a 20" AR-15 with M855 ball has an effective range as an area weapon out to 850 yards.


Montezuma1775 April 22, 2010 at 12:26 am

I was in the USMC (93-99) so I'm fairly confident that if I needed to hunt w/ an AR that I could…. Once upon a time I did qualify as an Expert. Ultimately, I'm looking for the most versatilty (defense and hunting) and I think a decent AR would fit that bill. Unfortunately, I'm not really knowledgable about the big variety of weapons out there. (while yes I was in the USMC, I was in the Air Wing which really explains my lack of knowledge)… I saw on your flickr stream (which is really well done btw) that you had a STAG AR-15, is that what you would recommend? I really don't want to break the bank on this weapon…, but I do want something that I can depend on and won't leave me hangin' when TSHTF.


mr_smashy April 22, 2010 at 2:56 am

I have several AR-15s, two with STAG lowers. I recommend getting either a quality rifle that meets your requirements, or joining a quality upper receiver assembly and lower receiver assembly. I do feel that STAG makes a quality product, one rifle with a STAG lower has a round count over 5,000 rounds. All failures have been magazine, ammo, or lubrication related. I liked the STAG product so much that I purchased another lower for my carbine project, which has been working fine. STAG rifles are high quality but come with a 1:9 barrel twist, which precludes it from firing heavy bullet premium match or self defense loads. I have standardized on the 1:7 barrel twist among my AR-15s because I wish to fire a specific bullet type (the 77gr Sierra MatchKing and similar).

If you're comfortable with a 1:9 barrel twist, STAG is a good choice, as well the S&W M&P carbines, and Rock River Arms. You will be limited to firing a 69 gr. bullet, if you choose to shoot premium defense ammunition. The RRA rifles have a two-stage trigger, which is a benefit to accuracy but some have reported short service life. This has not been my experience, I have a NM rifle with a RRA two-stage trigger, but it's worth mentioning.


Lucas_SurvCache July 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm


Do you have any experience with CMMG guns? Their Gov. Profile line looks especially promising and I have heard good things.
-fully chrome lined and 4150
-excellent m4 feed ramps
-properly staked key

and for the price it seems really good.

G.D. November 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm

You will not regret getting an AR. The patriots' weapon of choice. Like em so much I bought 5.


scott November 19, 2010 at 9:07 pm

AR's can have issues with how clean they need to be. My personal choice is the AK47 Under Folder or better yet the Hungarian AK 47 AMD 65. They may only reach out to a 100 or 150 yards but that's ok because most firefights won't be long distance events. You can drive over these things, bury them for later use etc. and they always come through with flying colors.


Mark A. Griffin December 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Mini 14 from Ruger is a great option. I have had mine for some time and even without a scope, I can shoot well with the peep sight. Good luck and be careful!


@HnterMB June 1, 2013 at 5:54 am

Hard to tell. BUT AR's are popular for a reason.


Jon from Milwaukee June 24, 2013 at 9:20 am

An AR-15 is a very versatile gun IF you have money to outfit it. Due to all the aftermarket parts availalbe (including upper recievers in many calibers), it is almost as versatile as a shotgun, but with a longer range. However, since you already have a shotgun you might be better served by buying a good bolt-action rifle in either .308 or .30-06, or possibly a larger AR-10. They reach out farther than the AR-15, and while not as customizable, will be a greater compliment to your shotgun. This assums you will be in a position where longer range would be useful. If not, the usefulness of the larger rifle is minimal. If you are generally in urban areas most often, you might want to consider getting a larger handgun than your .380 first. A high quality .40 or .45 can be carried in many areas where the shotgun would be to conspicuous, and if the shotgun ever winds up being empty, a .40 or .45 will give you far more stopping power than a .380. Also, based on what I have seen Hi Points do not always have the best reliability. Some work great for years without failure, and some have chronic problems.


PUNISHER August 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm



hwm December 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm

you can't just saw off a ar and expect it to work it affects the gas impingement system you can however purchase an ar pistol or keltec in 5.62 same is true of gas action shottys


hwm December 24, 2013 at 11:10 pm

it might just be me but I would upgrade the pistol first there are plenty of avalible glock leo turn ins avalible for a decent price in both 40 and 9mm I'm more of a single shot 12 and 22 pistol kind of guy but for the homestead a pump shotty
and a mosin fills the bill


truemonster June 17, 2010 at 6:03 am

i like pump action shotguns, but im thinking about getting the Saiga 12, was wondering if anyone on here has experience with these. theyre a little spendy, but nothing like a benelli, and they are very modular. also get great ratings for reliability and accuracy etc.


Lucas_SurvCache June 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm


I don't know much about the Saiga 12 except that most saiga's in general have a decent reputation for reliability.

Scott will probably be able to chime in with a better response.

If you get one be sure to come back and share your thoughts and pictures.


scott April 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Saiga's are beast….I love them. I regularly shoot mine and blow 200 rounds a session, and the thing is rock solid.


Recon John November 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Ar RIFLES ARE GREAT IF YOU WANT TO HUNT A 6.8 MM OR 7.62 mm will be best if cleaning is a concern buy a gas piston version lwrc is a top of the line ruger and sig are also good


Michael June 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Vigo Red Beans and Rice is what I was thinking of. It comes in a red and yellow foil package. You can scratch the not too expensive part. I hadn't bought any for a couple of years and the price has gone up.


yatahey June 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm

In my opinion a Saiga 12 may just be the ultimate defensive shotgun-the only other is a 50 round full auto that they came out with a couple of years ago i believe. In the Saiga you have an proven ak action, which I believe you can only get in semi-auto mode. Russian special teams have a full auto. The beautiful thing about this shotgun is that it has 10 round mags. So intead of feeding it shells one at a time, you just slap a mag in. If you've handled a ak47 your going to love this weapon. You may have to modify a tak vest to except the magazines. Its a great get out of dodge defensive or offensive weapon, but once in the woods using any weapon that makes noise will sooner or later give your position away. one needs to run silent or else everyone within hearing distance is going to want what you have. Not good


Lucas_SurvCache July 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Just reading your comment I thought: if it's the same use and reliability as an AK, why not just carry an AK?

you get 30 or more rounds in a mag and close range it definitely has the knock-down power.


Blindgibbon June 29, 2010 at 9:59 am

I am disappointed that no one has mentioned the winchester 1300 "Defender" I have one my dad purchased back in the eighties and it is my out-of-safe home defense gun to this day, 7+1 capacity and no choke.

I love my 870's, I have a Browning pump, SKB Over/Under and a Ruger Red lable, and several semi-autos (browning, remington 1100, etc) but for defense I always default to my Defender.


yatahey July 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Well, it depends on your environment (wshtf) and the application or purpose that dictates what may be a better option. Simply put, and if you talking about short distances like your house, back yard, neighborhood and such, my preferance, its shotgun. If it’s an AK that is a semi, you can’t lay down cover fire like you could if it was full auto so you’re limited. Therefore even if you have a 30 round magazine you still produce one 30 cal. (plus or minus) bullet for each time you pull the trigger. A semi auto shotgun, if shooting 12 gauge 00 buck produces nine 32 cal. (plus or minus) lead balls toward the target each time you pull the trigger. If your opponent is, say, 20 meters out, with an AK you pulled the trigger five times, there are five lead bullets in that area. If you pulled the trigger 5 times on a shotgun you have 45 lead balls in that same area. If it was a full auto AK, that would be a totally different ballgame and I would be the first one in line to get me one.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 12:16 am

I fully agree with you. It seems with this setup you can have your cake and eat it too!


KarlRove July 24, 2010 at 2:11 am

I moved to a 20 ga. pump with two barrels. I have several different rounds including slugs that will kill a deer, or a man, out to 120 yds….yes I can hit you at that range. It is light and doesn't kick the heck out of my shoulder. Big plus is that my wife can shoot it without flinching. It goes well with my hand guns and carbines….but If I have to choose just one gun it will be the .20 ga. with a variety of loads.


Flick August 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Every gun mentioned has its pros and cons. I personally feel the shotgun is the way to go when concerning a B.O.B. Any shotgun out there can be modified to reduce the weight, ammo capacity, range and lethality/power. I personally am not going to be concerned with the long range capapbilities of my Bug Out Gun. I want versatility for hunting and defense. If you have a Bug Out Bag and Gun, you already a step ahead of most of the population and will not likely find yourself in need of long range capabilities for defense. To be on the safe side, simply keep yourself on a path that oferes good cover from such attacks. The shotgun is the best option for hunting. Even the people who scored 'expert' at the range in the military will have a hard time hitting a rabbit on the run while using a rifle of any kind.


Flick August 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I recommend a 12guage shotgun with an 18inch barrel and the plug removed as a 'starter model'. This will allow for all around better mobility and more ammo capacity. From this base gun countless modifications can be made to cater to your personal preferences/needs. I recomend 00 or 4 buck for 'defense' loads. I wont waste my time with bean bag loads, rubber bullets or other 'less lethal' loads. It is important to note that they are called 'less letal' and NOT 'non leathal'. If not used put to use properly they can kill. My personal preference is the Remington 870 Express. This shotgun has been made since 1951 and as of 2009 there have been10million produced. This translates to reliability, easil found spare parts (in any scenario), a variety of inexpensive aftermarket mods, and a great weapon for a relatively low price. This model also has an excellent choke system for a variety of uses, as well as a great selection of barrles. Again, very versatile. All in all, a great Bug Out Gun to keep you safe and well fed on the way to your main survival location where you can store your extended arsenal.


MasterBlaster2 August 27, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Shotgun is a must in home defense and hunting situations, An Ar-15 is an awesome choice but if you don't have $ you might have to buy it piece by piece which isn't a big deal. My personal favorite is my trusty AK47, you don't need to do much or any kind of maintenance on them they can be full of dirt or water and still fire perfectly where others might blow up, The round has the power to penetrate an engine block or easily pass through a human being and ammo is relatively cheap. I have been looking at the ar styled ruger sr22 , it's a great gun with no recoil which makes it really accurate. I was thinking in a hell on earth situation it would be handy because i think it would be alot easier to acquire ammo for it than say an AK47. Handgun is a must


Ronald September 23, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Many consider caring or keeping guns for self defense but many also have it for other reason which is very unfavorable. Anyways, It is indeed a brilliant idea to have one for the house for family safety against theft etc. But make sure that the kids have no access on it or else…


al uhrich January 11, 2014 at 9:20 pm

It would be better to educate your kids, grand kids now in the use use and safety of firearms, than wait until it is too late. I grew up on the farm where always had a .22 pump and a .410 and a 12 ga beind the door ready for varmit use. Dad, my grandap, several uncles all had a hand in teaching me about firearm safety. ( Plus I learned from a few dumb stunts, luckey I' m still alive today ) Both of my sons learned firearm safety at an early age, both are present or retired mililitary. teach them now, don't wait until it's too late.


G.D. November 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Saiga's are good shotguns, but get them while you still can as Izhmash is no longer making them I'm told. They stopped production about 2 months ago and it is unknown at this point if they will ever restart production. It is worth noting that to date no body armor exists that will save you from a 12 gauge slug. Not even the latest military "Dragon Skin" which will stop even a hand grenade while lying on it. Watch the video….impressive!


hux February 14, 2011 at 1:00 am

Hey G.D.,
A Dragon Skin wont stop a 12g slug?????
Only today I was reading about the fantastic performance of that armour AND its suspicious knockback by the military, when soldiers are spending their own bucks to buy one “over there”.
How would a 12g outdo VERY hipowered weaponry?
I’m no expert on weapons – my army days were in bomb disposal and constructive demolitions – I didn’t have to be accurate! :-)


Chefbear58 December 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Just a bit of info for anybody looking for a shotgun-
Gander Mountain has the Remington 870 Express, with either wood or synthetic stock on sale right now for $269 and you can choose from a couple different barrel lengths and either 12/20 ga.

They have the Mossberg 500 JIC "Just in Case"- with pistol grip instead of a stock and a soft sided case, synthetic grips, 18.5" barrel for $299


Mike December 14, 2010 at 9:08 am

Think common ammo people! .22, .45, 9mm, .223, 7.62 x39 & 51, and 12 gauge. Exotic calibres may be marginally more effective, but where are you going to get .338 Lapua in the post apocalyptic world?


MarkP November 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm

thats the smartest statement on here!!!, A gun/ rifle is only doing you any good at all if you can put bullets in it!!– ever think about Bow and arrows,, couldnt hurt to practice with all weapons, -thats called being prepared, why shoot a rabbit with .30 cal ('cause thats all ya brought) or get it with an arrow -queitly… why draw attention to yourself


CaptBart December 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

We talk about our weapons often enough without thinking about their most common use. As for close range defensive uses, a shotgun is the weapon you are least likely to HAVE to use. The intimidation factor of looking down a 12 GA bore (it appears about the size of a basketball, based on personal experience) means that you are less likely to have to pull the trigger(s) (I like a double since the side by side presents TWO basketball size tubes to look down). Anyone who keeps coming after the sound of a pump racking a round or looking down that bore is on something and will most likely have to be killed. Based on Phoenix PD information, back when I worked for them, a lady officer was most likely to need her firearm and a semi-auto was more likely to be fired than a large caliber revolver. BGs wouldn't believe the "little lady" was going to try to take them in and looking at all those rounds in the revolver was apparently more intimidating than the slim auto. In the 5 years I was there, I don't remember a single case where the shotgun had to be fire. Most BGs realized that riot gun was going to gut them like a catfish and simply backed down.


Pistol Instutor February 17, 2012 at 4:22 am

Why give away your position by racking your shotgun? If the BG already has his gun on your you will NOT have time to rack yours and end up on the wrong side of the gun fight. Just my 2 cents.


CaptBart February 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

Always a tough call. I currently have my double at the head of the bead. The choice is yours, of course, but I would not want to just open fire. You are correct, if I am already under his gun, and I need to rack the pump I am at an extreme, perhaps terminal, disadvantage. The point is to rack the pump as soon as I pick it up. If it is nothing, then I clear and reload before returning it to its ready position.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 1:02 am

The best way to not lose a battle is not to have to fight it. I guarantee that 99% of the bad guys out there wouldn't want to try their luck comeing into my dark bedroom after my after hearing that distinct sound. That sound screams "if its trouble your looking for you just found it!" The biggest reason to have to rack a round for me isnt intimation. I have a 7yr old and my job is to protect him in everyway possible. Even if it just from hurting himself.


CaptBart November 30, 2012 at 8:24 am

This is one of those 'yes, but' things. For very young kids, I rack the shotgun before loading. That way, unless you know to hit the release, close to the trigger guard on a Mossberg pump, you can't actually rack a round.
The problem is I've learned from studying the crime data that most BGs are not deterred by the sound of the rack. Today there are so many that are high on something (even if nerves) that they NEVER hear it rack.
Again, tough call. I use #4 bird (turkey loads) inside to help protect from over penetration. It is not as effective as buckshot or slug but it is quite capable at 5 yards and it is much less likely to penetrate into the next room with lethal force.

Just my not so humble opinion.

Danny December 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm

One of the few books that I refer to for survival info is "How to Stay Alive in the Woods" by Bradford Angier, and he suggests that on page 68 that a flat hard shooting rifle is the best choice for securing food. In my opinion a shotgun is not a good survival choice if food is your target. As I don't live in the city but in the mountains of eastern KY, where rifles abound, the land very up and down and cities are small the limited range of a shotgun will not allow one to compete with the long range of the 30-6 .30 and .50 cal rifles that most serious hunters have in their arsonal. We also have elk and bear out here and a shotgun is not efficient enough. I am however looking at an AR 15 style semi-full auto for protection from other human interlopers.


mr.keltec December 18, 2012 at 3:31 am

I live in Alabama. There are no moose or elk or 400 yard shots. I stand by my 30.06 for deer, but if I was hungry right now, I'd go with the shotgun. I can walk a very brief distance into any woods around here a in a short period have dinner. It may be squirrel, rabbit, turkey, or even smaller birds but it's food. In my area most shots are within 75 yards making a 12 ga slug still a decent, not my favorite, deer round.
In regards to you Ar quest. I'd use the same money and buy three sks's and a load of ammo for the same price. They arent as cool looking or light weight, buy I believe them to be more dependable and a better bang for the buck.


Sharky99 January 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm

This is a freaking great set of articles. Super helpful. Thanks Smashy!


guest February 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

the 7.62x39mm round will not penetrate an engine block, i have tested the more potent 7.62x51mm nato round and the average round is stopped by .5 inch mild steel (excluding steel cored A.P. rounds).


OLDHOG February 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Well mine is as simple as it gets, a Rem 870 with 3 inch chamber, stock is cut down to a 10 length, that works well for me and my wife, it has a 20 inch barrel with mod choke, has a 4 round side saddle and 5 shot mag tube, has a mil-spec nylon sling and a sure-fire light, mounted directly into the front as part of the pump, model 618lm, this rig works well and requres very little to maintain. any additional sugesstions would be appreciated, I have never been much of a shot-gunner…….just an old Marine Rifleman!


CaptBart March 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

When it comes to a rifle, my first question is what do you see as the primary mission of the long gun. As I've said in other places (we are in a shotgun thread but …) the mission determines the caliber. If you are looking for a combat rifle to bug out of a town, that is one thing. If you are looking for a survival rifle to feed and defend your family at a BOL, that is another. There is a thread here on the AR as a survival carbine. I much prefer 30 caliber anything over an AR but that is me. In my neck of the woods, a 30-30 lever gun is absolutely adequate for hunting and home defense. Not bad as an E & E gun either. In big bear country, I think I would move up to something with more punch (but the 30-30 was designed to give bear protection to the pioneer so it might still be considered). For urban settings, a carbine in a pistol caliber 9 mm, .357, or 45 would serve just fine. The major pistol calibers would work for Black Bear in close but I'd not like to face a Grizzly with anything less than a .375 H&H Mag or a 45-70.
I favor lever guns because they are low maintenance, reliable as all get out, shoot a variety of rounds (the advent of Hornady Leverevolution Ammo mitigates the tube magazine issues for Spitzer type bullets) and the lever action is very natural for me. I can put aimed fire down range just as fast as most semi-auto rifle users can. If you are interested in spray and pray then you need something in semi-auto but I don't see the need for close quarters combat in a 'many on one' scenario as part of my prep. If you want a rifle, an old M1 Garand from the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) would work quite well. Just a quick thumbnail but you should read the series on survival rifles. It contains a lot of information.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 1:14 am

I own a 35 Marlin lever gun. Killed my first deer with it. Its a great brush gun and has a little more punch than the 30-30. I have found that the ammo is becoming more scarce.


CaptBart November 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

OK, I know I am hijacking this shotgun thread a tad, forgive me please. I've always been curious about the .35. I like Marlins better than Winchesters (blasphemy, I know) because they are a stronger action AND do not spit shell casings into my face. To the best of my knowledge I've never even held a .35 but I would like to shoot one. Of course, around my neck of the woods, the .30-30 was/is nearly as common as the .22 and you never saw a .35 so there is that …. still, an interesting cartridge.


harrymday March 13, 2011 at 6:38 am

ya better publish an article on hunting next b/c any average Joe going hunting for rabbit or duck most likely will only see the tail end of either. . . squirrel is easiest, that and robins!


CaptBart August 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

True enough. If you are planning to feed your family by hunting you had best be a hunter! If you've never hunted, after TSHTF is not the time to learn. I'd suggest finding an outfitter in the general area you intend to bug out to, tell them you are new at hunting and want a guided hunt/instruction experience. Get them to show you how to clean your kill as well as how to locate and stalk. Read what you can and take any hunting classes you can find from groups like the NRA or state hunting organizations. Then go hunting every year. The more you practice, the better you get and the more able you will be to feed your family. Bird hunting is the same way – skeet or trap is good target practice but to KNOW you can feed your family you have to have some experience actually hunting birds.


Regulator5 March 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

The 338 Lapua may not be as hard to come by. The US and several other nations are starting to utilize this round as a sniping weapon. It is becoming more of a mainstay caliber than it was previously. As for thinking "common ammo", the choice for a personal weapon is what do you feel comfortable with and afford to shoot to become expert and reliable in the weapons operation. Most of those same common calibers will be available after the fact, but so will the platforms that fire them if it turns into Armegeddon. I prefer using my favorite weapons and stocking ammo and reloading components for them.


Regulator5 March 22, 2011 at 10:13 am

Remember, you can break down 308 (7.62×51 NATO) ammo and use the components to reload your 30-06, which makes the 308 look like a toy in reality. The 308 is much better than a 223 (5.56×45) for anything other than recoil. AR platforms in 308 would be a very versatile weapon as it will take big game and has a much more effective range than a 223. I have several 22 LRs and they are good to plink with, hunt small game and can be used for deer if the need arises, plus they are reasonably quiet. I also have younger kids who can handle the 22 easily if it gets really ugly and just them firing will keep the BGs heads down (they only know several weapons are firing so look for an easier target *hopefully*). I also have a 410 pump shotgun which can be handled easily by even the 7 year old or 1 handed by myself. I hunt, so firearms are utilized heavily even under normal living conditions.


mr. keltec November 5, 2013 at 6:34 am

Can you give me more info on breaking down 308 to reload you 30-06?


Regulator5 March 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

The 5.56 is the same caliber, just military ammo is loaded for greater pressure and some civilian platforms won't handle the added stress. Military brass has thicker walls, so actually loaded with the same powder measure, will create higher pressures. Rifles listed as a "5.56" are built to handle the higher pressures.


CaptBart March 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

The other problem, I've heard, is that the head spacing on the 5.56 and .223 is different. While the 5.56 will safely shoot the .223, the reverse is not true. Since I can't tell them apart without reading the head stamp (which might be wrong if reloaded!) I'd get a 5.56 before I'd get a .223. Since I'm not a fan of the caliber, I don't own either but it is a good thing to know.
I've also been informed that the 7.62 NATO is just enough different that you can't safely shoot all .308 loads in an M14. Apparently there is a difference in the way the primer is seated in the NATO round and the M14 can 'slam fire' the .308 civilian. Embarrassing at best; dangerous at worse.
Being a cautious individual, I much prefer that my firearms safely shoot anything I put into them that fits. My 45-70 govt. single shot won't handle the 45-70 Marlin so I have to be very careful there but I don't expect to 'pick up' 45-70 ammo on the fly. Since I can't tell the difference between a 45-70 govt and a 45-70 Marlin just by looking, I am extremely careful at the range. I'd worry about rounds I had found while GOOD was in progress. One more thing I don't want to have to worry about in an already stressful situation.
Thank you for the comment and information; more data for the knowledge base.


Regulator5 March 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

I'm not a fan either, not enough trauma from impact, which is why they recommend multiple hits to stop a target. I had an Olympic arms AR style carbine for several years that I used to hunt coyotes with. The only advantage was the faster fire rate if multiples came in. I fired alot of military surplus ammo. 1 thing I did not mention and anyone deployed to a "multinational" incident will probably remember being briefed on, do NOT trust the europeon 5.56 ammo. They had alot of issues with it in Iraq not performing well in our weapons.


Regulator5 March 22, 2011 at 11:53 am…

A link for those wanting more info on the 5.56 vs 223 rem debate.


End Times April 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm

A friend of mine just got a H&R Pardner 12 gauge. Holds 5 in the tube and one in chamber. He added a 5 round capacity butt cuff , tactical sling, 3 sided rail and soon to add a tactical light and laser.


Guest April 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I recently bought a used, but like new 20 gauge H&R Pardner pump shotgun for $130 at a gun show. Although H&R, they are made in China, and they are a knock-off of the Remington 870.. Took it out today for the first time and was very impressed. It functioned perfectly and is well-made. If you don't mind "Chinese" and want a good but inexpensive shotgun, it is hard to beat!


mr.keltec December 18, 2012 at 3:45 am

Please post again after he's put a few hundred rounds through it. I'm curious to see how well these chinese knockoffs hold up. thanks


duder April 22, 2011 at 9:42 pm

No one said anything about two of the ones that I was thinking of:

The good ol' SURVIVAL rifle. One .22 round and one 410 round… that's it. The whole psychology with that one is that the whole idea is NOT to SHOOT unless it is the very, very LAST available option. When trapped behind enemy lines (or an all out disaster situation like Hurricane Katrina or worse) the idea is to STAY HIDDEN and not go Rambo. The 410 can hold different shot (slugs for defense or shot for small game) and the .22 has a little distance. Plus you will conserve ammo. You can even carry a pocket full of those little plastique "rat shot" rounds which are almost completely silent when fired. Those may come in seriously handy in an urban areas… I would much rather be able to pop off a few small .22 rounds in the dark, and not give my location away… then to expend several clips with an assault rifle… and let the entire town know where I was. Plus, survival rifles were designed for downed pilots… designed for the BOB. Really lite, rugged and completely simple.

The other one that I was thinking of was the good ol' .30 cal ranch rifle. It's slow, but it sure does pack a wallop. It will take out any game in North America and it's the rifle that one the west. It wouldn't be my first choice, I thought I'd just be a butt-nugget and give it some respect. It worked for the cowboys right?

I've seriously been considering picking up an AK and a few spam cans to have handy, but this article did expand the topic quite a bit. It's pretty hard to hunt small game like birds and varmints (which will probably be the most abundant food source available) with an AK or an AR. Plus those things are LOUD.

The best offense is STILL a good defense. ie, sneaking quietly by while the guys who stocked up on guns and ammo are shooting it out in the street. After the battle is over, use stealth to pop them in the head with your little .22 LR and jack their stuff ;)

Even a freaking tank is useless when you don't have a really strong plan behind it. Everyone has their own strategy though.

Anyways, this is a great little blog. Lots of good, positive ideas floating around here…


CaptBart November 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Actually, it was the double barrel shotgun in the hands of the farmers that won the west – yellow dog journalist press not withstanding! That said, you are right – the good old 30-30 lever gun is a very good piece of kit. I enjoy cowboy guns a lot. If you ever go to the Single Action Shooting Society website you can find videos of guys using lever guns, double barrels, and Single Action revolvers putting out an impressive rate of aimed fire. I can put aimed fire down range with a lever gun or a SAA revolver as fast as most folks can put AIMED fire down range with a semi-auto. (The professional/demonstration shooters who do 6 rounds in under 2 seconds are a different breed of cat. I don't get to fire 10,000 rounds of ammo a year unfortunately!) Your comment of a lever gun being "slow" only applies if you're doing "spray and pray" shooting. In that case, you need full auto, belt fed or your wasting your time and ammo. Just my not so humble opinion.


tom August 4, 2012 at 7:34 am

The 22lr/410 survival combo is certainly not a bad choice. But i think there are better choices. 22lr and 410 are on the marginal side for two legged predator defense and in the forest, you don't really need both. I would prefer a 20 gauge to harvest birds because 410 just does not carry enough shot and fast moving critters are hard to hit with 22lr. Plus you don't need both and you'll be carrying rounds for both.

As you've said, an AR or AK are just not practical for hunting small game and for those who think they are going to bag a hog or deer everyday, think again. Not that easy to find. Ask a seasoned and HONEST deer hunter.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 1:23 am

If you are looking for stealth and small game, try a pellet rifle in .177 cal.. Walmart even carries some higher end models. I bought one for my boy's birthday and I'm impressed. Its a thought anyhow.


mr.keltec December 18, 2012 at 3:55 am

what about a 410-.22 over under?


TINDERWOLF May 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Great article, agree with all of it. If I had only one firearm to take with me it would be my remington 870. Nothing fancy…no lights or pistol grip or heat shield or red dot sight….why the heck would anyone put a red dot on a shotgun anyway I really don't see the point. It is the most. To me it is the most versatile firearm out there.


CaptBart August 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to miss with a scatter gun. At 10 foot ranges, a decent shotgun might give you a 3 to 4 inch shot pattern so you do have to be more or less on target. A laser and/or a light can give instant aim and point and shoot is dead easy. Hole up in a safe room, the shotgun with laser and/or light can very effectively "close" the door to the room. Things like a red dot do seem a tad over the top to me but on a hunting weapon, some might find it useful. I think it is needless complexity but I can see the motivation behind it.


TINDERWOLF August 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Yes you are right that you can miss with a shotgun, especially at very close range but out of any firearm a shooter with expert experiance or no experiance has the best change of hitting a target with a shotgun. For the most part i don't "believe" in the lights and lasers for firearms. With a laser, alot can happen between the second you see the dot on a target and you pull the trigger and it is NOT going to go exactly where the dot is. A flashlight is helpful but I don't want to give away my position. Plus with all these accesories there is added weight and maintenace (batteries) I'm sure for a lot of people these are great but I am a barebones kind of a guy. Thanks for the comment


corky July 1, 2011 at 6:53 am

you are right! the sound of the pump action is not only intimidating as hell, the sound is so recognizable/familiar that most everyone would freeze or turn tail in complete darkness w/out even seeing the cannon.


Tman July 3, 2011 at 12:49 am

Nice timing on the shotgun article. I'm a big fan of the 12ga Rem 870 and Moss 500 series shotguns. You almost can't beat this firearm for versatility, knockdown power, and simplicity. Two other firearms I don't think you can be without are the Glock 17/19, and a well built and reliable AR rifle in .223/5.56. However, if I had to choose just one firearm from the three I have listed it would be a simple Rem 870 Tactical with a spare barrel.


tom August 4, 2012 at 8:18 am

I love those two series shotguns also. I have the rem 870 but mossberg is excellent also. I prefer 20 gauge and this it is underrated.


Prep4theDay September 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I know everybody has their favorite calibre or style of weapon, so in a WTF situation you're better off using what you know. I know that 22 cal is common, cheap, can be handled easily, and is flexible for use in many situations… (that's how I like my women, too) so it makes sense for ME. I know I can pack 1000 rounds in a back pack with very little weight and be able to run, walk or crawl away to safety. I don't have to kill somebody to neutralize them as a threat, besides, they'll use up more resources treating their wounds. The trick is to avoid the BG's… and/or avoid a FAIR fight at all costs ;)


Johnny Glock November 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

Danny, if you want to survive Get an Saiga AK-47, not AR-15.
A 30 Cal Bullet (7.62 x 39) has better Blistics than a .223 dia bullet.
Marines often use AK's instead of R's. AR's jam if dirty–AK's eat sand and keep going.
Read up on the Desert wars, AR's are a pain to keep clean & lubbed.
100 Million AK's can't be wrong. Try one, you'll like it.
Johnny Glock


Chris November 21, 2011 at 4:00 am

AK47 is the gun. Stick it in sand/mud/water and it still fire. Try doing that with an AR15/M16.
No competion. AK47- so simple yet so effective. Also AK47 was designed to kill not to injure like the M16.


Chris November 21, 2011 at 3:28 am

Not so sure about this. What is the other guy is armed. You have just given away your position and reduced you rounds by 1. Bad tactics. You sure you were a cop?


Jeep Jockey November 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

As "far fetched" (howbeit, entertaining) all the Zombie movies (aka "The Walking Dead" TV show) may be there are some interesting scenarios where citizens band together, pool their experiences and resources to increase the odds of survival. Though zombies won't be the issue in our areas in the event of SHTF, we will have roving bands of SOTBP's (South Of The Border People) ravaging our neighborhoods. I am not ANIT-SOTHBP but I am PRO-Survival.


tom August 4, 2012 at 8:16 am

In a true apocalypse scenario, I don't think people from mexico will have the resources to cross the desert into the usa (i realize border towns are different), just like we won't have fuel or resources to go there. I'd be more afraid of my neighbors than outsiders coming in.

On the subject of zombies, isn't it hilarious that hornady is offering "zombie ammo"? How many of you up here ordered some, just for fun?


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Pistol Instructor February 17, 2012 at 4:19 am

I shoot 5.56mm and .223 in my AR. As long as your rifle is rated for 5.56mm it WILL shoot both safely!!! Actually my M1A owner's manual recommends NOT using .308 ammo due to a softer primer in civilian ammo, which can cause a "SLAM FIRE".


Sean February 29, 2012 at 9:19 am

cheap long range rifle with cheap shells is the Mossin Nagant 7.62mm sporty. It is accurate up to about 1/2 mile and you can get the shells at Fleet Farm and other places for $90/440 rounds


sean February 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

cache consists of two 22 rifles, one 12 gauge, one 20 gauge and a 7.62. I am still buying up rounds but have most of the other stuff like tents and sleeping bags already.


sam April 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm

You guys with little gun experience might want to listen to Cpt Bart, preference is preference, and people will recommend their particular gun fetishes all day long, but pick your most likely event and train it. Specialty calibers are sexy, but scarce and the first to go when the trucks stop running. 5.56 while not the end-all-be-all is a widely used and tested caliber. 7.62X39 is usually manufactured with bi-metal bullets which make them semi-armor penetrating. Shotguns are wrecking balls with triggers, pistols are a last resort, a secondary weapon right next to your knife. Whatever your choice is, train it, be the best you can be with it. Arguing about capabilities and which is the very best at a particular task is a waste of breath, opinions vary. It's a tool box people, fill it with tools you can use. A small woman can't effectively employ a twelve pound sledge, and neither can they continuously fire an FAL without hurting themselves. Find what works, use it well, peace out.


armorer73 April 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm

stick to what the cops and military carry 223 9mm 45 auto or 40 s&w and if your on a budget get an AK from the soviet block remington and mossberg are both inexpensive and geta twelve gauge cops carry twelve gauge shotguns and so do most households


codyoweneurope May 1, 2012 at 7:23 am

hilariously stupid…. guns get you shot…. learn to eat plants….


lilbear68 August 2, 2012 at 8:18 am

i keep a mossberg 500 set as a combat shotgun 18.5" bbl but a keep a 24" with a polychoke of hunting


tom August 4, 2012 at 7:26 am

When the word "survival" is used in connection with a firearm, its important to be clear on what we mean. Survival could refer to a scenario involving defense against people (urban survival), or it can mean lost in the forest. In the former case, there are many weapons that are equally good. In the backwoods where food gathering is the priority, I think the shotgun is the ideal firearm and it offers advantages over a 22LR. Overall, if I could have but one firearm for both wilderness AND urban survival, it would be the shotgun. A poster mentioned the saiga. It would be great for urban survival but in the forest, its increased weight over a simple pump would be a liability.


JJ Johnson August 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Great concise article. I would add that ammunition availability is also very good especially in 12 and 20 gauge and is probably right up there with 9mm and .22 caliber. Modifications are also very easy to make as well. Cheers JJ


Dusty October 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm

If safety is your main concern, you cannot beat the scatter gun. With the way houses are built these days any other firearm shot inside a house that does not hit the intruder runs the risk of penetrating walls and hitting a family member. For home defense (which realistically speaking, the only way to not run the risk of facing criminal charges is when the intruder is inside your home) for home defense and to insure a clean kill, you cannot beat the advantages of a shotgun.


Kane November 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Another advantage to shotguns, especially pumps, is that you can reload the shells with black powder or a substitute and still have a functioning weapon. Not an option for semi autos. Also, shotshells can be reloaded with home made tools in a pinch. Also, if you have a single on hand Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School LLC has a video on youtube of how you can use your single 12 or 20 guage as a muzzle loader with a few modifications to a shotshell base.


Floyd November 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Honestly, I was more expecting this to be part of someone's anti-zombie kit. In any case, you should make sure you know the basics of how to use the gun long before you point it at anything. We can't have accidents here, now can we?


Dick November 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm

what about the Sagia 12 smi automatic shotgun with a 20 round drum.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 12:08 am

Well put capt. I've said it before, for the majority living in the urban setting, the carbine/pistol set up in 45 cal, 40 cal, or my favorite the 9mm is an appealing way to go. There will always be 9mm ammo available and to only have to carry the load of one ammo type is a plus. Its like the man said, think long and hard about what what your needs are and buy the gun that best fits your use requirements.


mr.keltec December 13, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Also, for those who are just starting out or anyone on the tighest of budjets, Hi point makes a carbines in pistol rounds. They are not only dirt cheap, but they're reliable as hell. You can feed em just about anything. They can be purchased new for under $300 bucks and used for as little as $150. Their line of pistols, although big and bulky for my taste, can be picked up between $100 and $200. They are all backed by a lifetime warrenty. It does not matter if you are the orginal purchaser of the 5th owner. I own one in 9mm and even though I do prefer my keltec sub 2k, but for the price, I dont think you can beat the hi point.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 12:24 am

I dont think I've heard anyone comment on a good rubber recoil pad for the stock on your shotgun. To me its must have for the 12 ga.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 12:29 am

Mossberg makes a Ar-15 type 22. They go for around $250. That's about half the price of the S&W's model.


@fish548 January 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Need some help…I have a H&R Model 440 12 ga Pump that will take up to 3" shells…but I can't__find much info about it…Can anybody help???


1113 August 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I have the M6 and am very comfortable with this weapon. Since I'm disabled and recoil above a 410 shotgun gives my back undue shock. I've shot the 410 for many years now and since the M6 I have is a 22LR /410 and is quite accurate. I've put a Tasco Red/Green Dot Sight on it and with the 40 grain hyper velocity in 22LR and with the Remington 410 – 2 1/2" Slug at 25 yards is deadly accurate. I've tried other bullet weights in the 22LR and have found (in this particular rifle) that the 40 grain groups the best. After trying many brands of slugs ( 2 1/2" & 3") the Remington 2 1/2" 1/5 ounce groups the best.
If I was ta choose a weapon then I'd take the M6 for I've tested many rounds and the recoil is mainly zero with the 410 in the 3" shell. Many have showed an interest into this weapon and I have ta agree with their comments.


Andrew September 27, 2013 at 11:02 pm

The Remington 870 is a great gun but I would never own the express, the metal is cheap and weak, I have seen many probkems with it while coaching and have told every parent not to buy one.


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mr_smashy July 5, 2010 at 11:19 pm

This rifle: has a CMMG upper with a government profile barrel and all the features you describe except I believe it does not have M4 feed ramps (not really necessary for a 20" rifle.)

Accuracy has been excellent and barrel seems to be properly made. The upper receiver is coated with teflon, which gives it a shinier finish than I'm used to, but in the end I'm not complaining, especially for the price I paid. The bolt and barrel perform very well and everything seems to be in spec. Here is a photo showing the differences in finish:


Lucas_SurvCache July 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Very cool gun!

Thanks for the advice.

Like I said, I've heard quite a few good reviews about CMMG, but I don't have any experience with them.

I'll let you know how my build goes when I finally do it.


k3nkill February 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

the saigas is a cool gun but dose jam dosnt like universal parts and a waste of time


Mat February 9, 2012 at 8:55 am

I have a Saiga12 and have about 300 rounds through it and it has never jammed. AK reliability with shotty versatility. It is hard to beat. There's a reason it is the standard 12GA used by the Speznatz in Russia (i.e. Russian Navy Seals).


Pistol Instructor February 17, 2012 at 4:13 am

Fine weapon but how much ammo is going to be available WSHTF? That's why I have and AR15 in 5.56mm plus a Springfield M1A Scout in 7.62 NATO. My wife will carry the AR while I carry the scout.
Ammo availability is VERY important.


Pistol Instructor February 17, 2012 at 4:15 am

Ho about adding to that security of our firearms education about firearms to your children and grandchildren?!


native April 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm

You make a very viable point sir and I can find no error in your reasoning. I just recently added a tac. 12 gauge to or family and couldn't be happier. My wife was having a hard time with the sks but as we all know 00 buckshot dosen't require marksmanship. with our rifle, shotgun and matching ruger p-95's I feel we are prepared for most any situation.


T.M. July 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Hey G.D. check out Bourke Industries new armor its called kryron it stops 50. cal just google it


unknown October 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm

This should go without saying. I grew up around a lot of guns and I was taught to take it serious. I hope gun owners today have the same common sense.


mr.keltec November 30, 2012 at 1:35 am

To what are you referring? Do you have any suggestions?


mr.keltec December 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm

A shotgun could be compared to a pair of channel lock pliers in the toolbox. They might not be the proper tool for most jobs, but in most cases if thats all you got they can and will get the job done.


hwm December 18, 2013 at 1:33 am

any dependable pump is fine heck I'll even take a H&R single shot with some chamber adapters so I can shoot more than one type of ammo


mr.keltec December 18, 2012 at 3:18 am

From what I've read and heard and know a lil about, most of these BGs are breaking and entering, b&e, to reload or resupply drugs after running out by stealing and fencing whatever they come across. That being the reason they are so desperate or stupid to wander into someone's home.
I do agree with the #4 turkey load. I've recently swapped over myself and I think it will do the job fine within legal self defense range.


al uhrich January 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

It does? from a .50 cal?
what about the trauma of the bullet hitting you?


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