Survival Shotgun Part 2: Choosing Gauge and Type

Survival Shotgun Gauge and Type

If you are new to shotguns understanding what type of gun to buy and which gauge to choose for your survival needs can be difficult. Continuing the Survival Shotgun series, here is a basic rundown of the types and sizes of shotguns you should consider for your survival gear.

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

The basic operation of a shotgun is to fire a dose of round lead balls (shot) down a smooth bore barrel.  Shotguns existed before rifles and pistols, and the concept of blasting shot down a smooth barrel may extend all the way back to ancient China.  Modern Man’s innovation has managed to stuff all sorts of things into a shotgun shell, but the basic operation still remains.

Understanding Gauge

Mossberg M500SPShotguns barrels are typically chambered in gauges, not calibers.  A gauge is the number of lead balls it takes to roll down the barrel to make a pound.  If you’re wondering why that sounds crazy, it’s an imperial measurement created by the English, and they tend to over-complicate things.  But it does explain why a 12 gauge has a larger tube than a 20 gauge.  The most common chamberings for shotguns are 10, 12, 16, and 20 gauge.  There is also .410 bore, which is a newer size based on the .45 Colt.  It’s an American invention and is not a true gauge.

Choosing a Gauge

Why is this important?  You need to pick a gauge (or bore) that is suitable for your stature or needs.  Recoil is usually the determining factor, but for the prepper you want to also consider availability.  Up to 50% of shotguns sold in America are 12 gauge.  You will simply have an easier time finding ammunition for a 12 gauge.

If you cannot handle the recoil of a 12 gauge, then go with 20 if possible.  If you cannot deal with the recoil of a 20 gauge then .410 bore is your last resort.  Other gauges Survival Shotgunlike 10 and 16 are available but too rare for a prepper to consider seriously; you are not going to find 16 gauge ammo on the shelf at a superstore.

For the sake of brevity and to show how versatile the shotgun is, I will stick to 12 gauge for the majority of this series.  Birdshot, slugs, and buckshot ammunition are available in 20 gauge.  Birdshot and buckshot are available in .410, but you are getting three pellets of 000 buck per shell for the buckshot, versus a 12 gauge 000 load which holds 10 pellets or more.  There are also slugs available for .410, usually weighing 1/4 an ounce versus a standard 1 ounce slug in 12 gauge.  .410 slug ammunition is also extremely hard to find unless it’s deer season in a shotgun hunting state.

Type of Shotgun

For most preppers, the standard survival shotgun is going to be a 12 gauge pump shotgun; readily available at your local superstore.  Semi-auto shotguns are great, and usually a joy to shoot, but there are issues that should be considered.

Mossberg M500SPSemi-autos cost more, usually starting at double the cost of a pump and up.  Some of the cheaper models have reliability and quality issues.  Parts can and do get worn out more frequently.  Some autoloaders will only feed reliably with certain kinds of ammunition, like full power loads.

Barring oddball rounds like the Aquila mini-shells, a pump action gun will cycle any load you feed it because of the manual loading process, including reduced recoil loads, light birdshot, and less lethal ammo with no projectile.  Autoloaders rely on either recoil or gas to operate the action.

Each has it’s advantages, but both systems require more preventative maintenance and cleaning for reliable performance.  What a prepper is looking for in the survival toolkit is something cheap, reliable, and versatile.  And that is the 12 gauge pump action shotgun.

Questions

If you have questions, or need help choosing a gun, ask here and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Part 3

Part 3 of the Survival Shotgun series by mr. Smashy covers Choosing Your Gun

Visit Our New Survival Gear Store – Forge Survival Supply

Photo by: mr. smashy

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

JonnyJ July 29, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I own a 12 ga. mossberg 500 pistol grip with an 181/2" barrel, Although it's not really for hunting game as much as home defense, I still have #8 bird shot loaded to go. I personally would not enjoy a blast from this behemoth,And any intruder on the receiving end would certainely not say Sir may I have another. I enjoy your site and there are many good tips in here.Thank you.

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Justin August 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm

#8 is so small and is wayyyyy less than ideal for home defense.
Buy some buckshot

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real world survival November 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Hey you can have a mossberg 500, a high end remington tactical 870, or a junker charles daly pump, but if you don't have the right ammo you put yourself and your family at risk, bottom line. It's not a Behemoth unless you load it with the propper ammo.The 00buck or slug would be the best, but a couple sizes smaller would be acceptable. Law enforcement won't use anything less than #4 but usually stick with 00buck. the ARMY and MARINES use 00buck. My gun is a remington 870 police magnum 8 shot, it's the parkerized version of the marine magnum. I only have three loads for it: Remington slugs, rem. 00buck, and rem. 00buck Magnum 3". load it properly and sleep alittle more sound.

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Paul September 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I have used and will keep it in this series.. Empty chamber, then the pump of the gun is the attention getter, the oo buck then #4 steel shot.. it makes for a sound suchs.. WHAT.. WAIT!!! Im SORRY!!!! SHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTT>>>

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marshall November 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm

What are your thoughts on the s&w governor

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RudeBoy_UrbSurv August 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I own a Remington 870 full tactical model with a Spec Ops recoil reducing AR style stock and Surefire forend. The Spec Ops stock allows shooters of different statures and the recoil sensitive to fire the 12 ga more comfortably. I think the 12 ga is probably the single most important firearm a survival minded person can own. Game loads for hunting, buck for close defense, and slugs for intermediate to long ranges (surprisingly accurate through a smooth bore) make for a must have weapon. Affordable, adaptable, and available.

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W.T. September 23, 2010 at 8:16 pm

A "survival shotgun"…hmmm. I own the Remington model 10 12 gauge my grand dad used between 1910 and 1920 along the South Texas border to ward off bandits (Mexican and Texan) and other scoundrels that wandered through the ranch in pursuit of no good. Just a shotgun, pump, 30 inch barrel, full choke. Used if for geese too when they migrated south. Shot a Texas Ranger (woops) one afternoon who rode up to the ranch drunk on his horse shooting his gun at a couple of my grand dad's vaqueros. Blasted the idiot off his horse, dug a hole and planted him. So much for the Texas Rangers. But it was just a shotgun. Didn't have the word "survival" or "tactical" or any of that nonsense attached to it. Do you get my drift? Grand dad finally retired the gun after Mexico settled down and took to his Winchester 1903 .22 auto to shoot everything from javelina, deer, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and whatever else nasty came along. I have that rifle too in my vault. Funny how those old timers got along just fine without ever knowing they didn't own "tactical" or "survival" guns. Imagine that.

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bigbob25060 November 16, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Fantastic, what an ideal post. We kinda do have a tendency to get hung up on titles huh?
I have a couple of 870's and an 1100 that are just shotguns. I'm suposin' I can use them for survival stuff too tho huh. :)

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real world survival November 28, 2010 at 5:47 pm

keep the ignorance to a minimum, please. Some people are trying to learn and some of us are trying to teach them. An example for you, try to navigate corners with pappys 30" barrel around a corner in a dark house and you will fall victim to a gun grab and probably catch bullet in the face or abdomen, off course you'll be dead while the intrudder rapes your loved ones. As I will state I tell people to buy the best they can afford, and make due. If your grandfathers shotgun is all you have make due I hope no harm befalls you. But there are much better and safer options for people out there.

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Genghis October 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I would prefer a Winchester 1300HD 8 rd.+1. This weapon is well used around the world, even though it is not manufactured any longer. But, by adding a stock selve to the weapon of 5 or 6 rds. your firing capacity is larger. Also by adding the same seleve to your arms one ea. you now have 10-12 rds. extra. , plus bandoliers of 50 rds. now you are set to defend. I also use 40 cal. hand gun, it has a little more punch w/5 extra clips.

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Scott November 24, 2010 at 6:39 am

Ease of finding replacement parts, common availability of ammunition, and simple reliability led me to my purchase of a Mossberg 500A with an 18 1/2 inch barrel and 7 round capacity.Being modular I added a forward pistol grip, tactical stock (solid to shoulder w/ pistol grip) and
a “Side Saddle” 6 round carrier on side opposite the ejector. I’ve experimented with the different setups of pistol grips and stocks, and found this works best for me. Oh, yeah I should clarify thaat this is my personal protection firearm, but use a bolt-action SMLE and bolt action .410 Savage for putting food on the table. Personal survival is all about personal preference though, so don’t be afraid of investing money into your own protection. I have, and I feel great about it. And don’t let people try to brow beat you into thinking only criminals own guns. Those people are going to be the ones wanting to follow you and freeload off your well stocked supplies when TSHTF.

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l. Massie December 1, 2010 at 1:48 am

I've wondered why survival to a lot of guys means defending the kin folk against mutant zombie bickers or some other fantasy involving heroic stands against incredible odds. It's I suppose nice to have 8 rounds you can jack through but it's the first one that counts. It's also real important to have it kind of like nice and handy rather than having a safe queen. My go to gun is a H&R 12 ga. single, 3" #4 in the spout and a few more on the stock. Real handy with that gun. Keep it in the kitchen closet. Got another at the cabin with a "survival" stock. It's full of survival goodies and may be a good idea. Not real sure about that yet. Still with the sling it goes real fine with a pack tramping through the woods. It's light enough that don't know it's there, unlike those street sweepers mentioned above. Cps might like those, but they got to look tough and important and don't have to walk/trot/run more than 100' in any given year.
Anyway, when the bear's in the garage, my trusty little single is what gets pointed at it. It is also what I'd chose as perfect survival gun. As far as the MZB are concerned, I figure I'd hear/smell then a long way off and go the other way (always did like Tunnel in the Sky by Bob Heinlein).

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l. Massie December 1, 2010 at 1:48 am

I've wondered why survival to a lot of guys means defending the kin folk against mutant zombie bickers or some other fantasy involving heroic stands against incredible odds. It's I suppose nice to have 8 rounds you can jack through but it's the first one that counts. It's also real important to have it kind of like nice and handy rather than having a safe queen. My go to gun is a H&R 12 ga. single, 3" #4 in the spout and a few more on the stock. Real handy with that gun. Keep it in the kitchen closet. Got another at the cabin with a "survival" stock. It's full of survival goodies and may be a good idea. Not real sure about that yet. Still with the sling it goes real fine with a pack tramping through the woods. It's light enough that don't know it's there, unlike those street sweepers mentioned above. Cps might like those, but they got to look tough and important and don't have to walk/trot/run more than 100' in any given year.
Anyway, when the bear's in the garage, my trusty little single is what gets pointed at it. It is also what I'd chose as perfect survival gun. As far as the MZB are concerned, I figure I'd hear/smell then a long way off and go the other way (always did like Tunnel in the Sky by Bob Heinlein).

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matt December 16, 2010 at 2:43 am

I am looking at getting a remington 870 aow with a 14 in barrel with the tax stamp and everything legal just so there is no confusion. What do you guys think about that? I read all the posts here and sounds like a very knowledgeable group of folks any adivse you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated

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CaptBart December 27, 2010 at 8:55 pm

A couple of additional thoughts. While a slug or 000 buck will gut a BG like a catfish, is it really the round you want in the gun at the head of the bed? While bird shot in #4 to #71/2 isn't the ideal man stopper, I assure you that a face full of #7 (or #8 for that matter) from a 20 GA will change the dynamic of a close encounter of the worse kind at oh dark thirty in your living room. It has the added benefit of not penetrating the interior walls of your house with lethal force. A really good idea if there are children or others living in the house. Legally, bird shot is more defensible that a slug if you don't hunt deer with your shotgun. In addition, the "tactical" 12 GA with the dual pistol grips and laser sights and……. are of dubious use as a general survival gun. I've never shot the tactical arrangement but I have to believe that bird hunting is more difficult without the stock to help you aim. My cowboy action double has short barrels but a standard stock. I don't feel disadvantage compared to the 'race' guns for defense and since it is for a 'sport' it is more defensible in court. I hate to keep talking about legal issues but prior to TEOTWAWKI it is a fact of life that public impression may make the difference between no charges filed and serious jail time.

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lanegeezer January 31, 2011 at 11:29 pm

As my uncle Hill explained, a 16 guage throws 1/16 th of a pound of lead, a 12 guage 1/12th of a pound of lead, 10 guage 1/10th, 28 guage 1/28th pound, etc etc etc

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Andrew September 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Your uncle would not be correct and even way off it depends on the shell. I'm going to focus on a 12 gauge loads.. For international trap the requirement is 7/8th of and ounce of lead, that is an international standard, other loads are 1 ounce, 1 & 1/8th ounce, and other loads depending on what you are shooting. Go to any gun store and just look at the different shell loads.

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hux February 14, 2011 at 3:54 am

My second post – but it’s very quiet here …… hope some of you guys are still reading from time-2-time.

This has been very interesting – both the technical article and the commentary.

I don’t want to throw any cold water on anyone’s ideas, but in my “cut-lunch-commando” days of National Military Service in the land of Oz (Downunder), I was used as a “Range Safety Officer” because of my supposed expert explosives knowledge and the clearest memory is of the “hero” types who tended to crack when it got “real” or realistic.

I lost count of the number of guys who dropped grenades on the training mound when they heard the fuse ignite. (They thought they were dummies).

So, my thoughts are that at the end of the day, in a real situation, things can be very different.

I’ve never been shot at, but I do know it would make a helluva difference if you knew the target could shoot back. Don’t think there would be many deer hunters if the deer were armed! :-)

The shotgun therefore, in my humble opinion, would have to be the best all round choice.

Much harder to miss.

Much less to go wrong.

Much easier to service.

Easier to make your own powder and shot.

AND much more scary if you had to confront one.

Cheers from Oz!

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CaptBart August 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Agree with everything except the "harder to miss". At close combat ranges the pattern is somewhere between 2 and 3.5 inches. A pattern that tight can easily miss at oh-dark-thirty when fine motor skills no longer exist. You are quite right that "things can be very different". When lead is going BOTH ways the attention is certainly more 'focused' shall we say and a miss is much more probable, especially if someone has bought into the "scatter gun that takes out the entire wall" nonsense. thanks for the comments.

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Brianna March 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Now wait i don't mean to sound like a green horn (i am) but i was under the impression that there was at least a type of ammo that when placed into a gun and then fired went in all directions(though short was the range of the bullets) it was enough to leave a sizable hole. Though not necessarily in a wall par-say but in a body yes.
If my impression was wrong sorry but do understand i'll never know until i ask. Don't take my head off i'm just trying to learn. My family thinks I'm weird but i just say that i don't want to be unprepared if the need to be arrises. Is it so bad? No. I think not.

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CaptBart March 29, 2012 at 9:07 am

No, problem; we were all green at some point and after 40+ years a lot of folks think I am weird. Don't take it personally that you recognize the need to care for yourself and they don't. They're wrong and you're not.

Hollywood and TV have formed the myth of the gun that will 'take out the back wall'. Even a short barreled 'Coach Gun' (double barrel, 18 inches in length) 12 gauge has a fairly tight pattern out to 15 feet or so. Go to a range and shoot at targets at 10, and 15 to 30 feet and you'll see what I mean. 3.5 inches of shot can gut someone like a catfish but you have to actually hit them. It is a BIG hole but remember, too much spread and you can miss the target. My coach gun is not a good hunting weapon because at 30 yards I might miss a bird because all the shot expanded around it leaving a center void; I hit center of aim on the bird but no pellets were still in the center. Remember that most close quarters, home defense shooting occurs inside of 10 feet. A shot gun has limited pellets so in order to get sufficient lead into a target at range, the barrel tends to keep the pellets fairly close. The idea is that it is supposed to spread over distance to increase your chances but beyond a certain point, the shot is so thinly spread that hitting or missing is by chance. Up close, the shot is dense enough to ensure a LOT of damage but the spread doesn't go wide enough to make up for a lousy aim. It is a function of the gun, not the ammo really. The shorter the barrel, the wider the pattern. Most states limit it to around 18 inches and that works out to about 3.5 inches at 10 feet on most gun/ammo combinations.
Did this help?

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nerdyadventurer February 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

The only gun I currently own is a 12 gauge. My grandfather bought it for me as a 12th birthday present. I absolutely love the thing, very simple no extras gun. And I don’t think that the armed prowler that my mom put a round of buckshot in with it cared that it was ‘just a plain old hunting gun’. :) Maybe I’m just sentimental.

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CaptBart August 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I have a rather sentimental attachment to things that work well. You have a weapon that worked as needed, when needed. You can't ask more than that from anything. Same reason I'm sentimental about the Colt 1911 and don't much care for the M16 platform. I trust what has worked and, in the world of firearms, I rarely, if ever, give a second chance to what did not work. Congratulations on owning a fine weapon.

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Ben228 July 15, 2011 at 2:47 am

Recently upgraded my Mossberg 500 to 7+1 and am looking at a collapsible stock (shock asorbing). My major concern is California’s “menacing” restrictions. The goal being not being in jail when TSHTF. The thread had a mention of a shock absorbing stock is intreicing but not if it gets me charged with a felony and disarms me.

Other then that the upgrade has given me a shotty with a 20″ barrel and the 00 buck pattern that is better. (tighter a yard or two further out)

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mr.keltec August 22, 2013 at 2:56 am

I cant tell much shock being absorbed by my collapsible stock, but they have one great advantage. The collapsible stock will adjust to any size stature. And if fully collapsed they make the gun shorter which is an advantage when cornering.

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Tommy July 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Sounds like a lot of good posts, i love my 20 ga mossy. I bought it in the 80's with a pistol grip, but since i have put on a full stock, all i'm going to add is an inexpensive tack lite. Hopefully i will only have to shoot the intruder with the light. I like the 20 ga. 25% less energy then the 12 ga. but 50- 60% less recoil. No matter what shot gun you have it's a good grab in a bad situation…

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Be nice September 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm

You're a dick for that.

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Guest October 28, 2011 at 8:07 am

Good post! I have a question though. I haven't used shotguns all that much, last time I believe was 4 or 5 years ago; Should I go with a 20 gauge or a 12 gauge? I can easily handle recoil from a 20 gauge, but I'm concerned with the 12 gauge recoil, It only takes 2 or 3 shots before I'm sore from shooting it. Should I opt to buy a 12 gauge and just practice with it to toughen me up or should I stick with 20 gauge? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

P.S. If it helps at all, I'm more worried about the amount of time I'd have to use it if SHTF. I'd rather be prepared to protect my own with a 20 gauge then thinking I'm safe with a 12 gauge and using it more than I thought.

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CaptBart November 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Guest,
In my not so humble opinion you answered your own question with "…but I'm concerned with the 12 gauge recoil…". You want a weapon you are absolutely comfortable with if you are going to be playing "you bet your life" with it. Inside of 50 feet or so, without instruments or the Coroner telling you, you'd be hard pressed to tell if a BG had gotten hit by a 12 or a 20. If you are recoil sensitive (I'm getting that way as I age; if I had it to do again, I'd have 20's) the 12 could lead to you flinching and a miss while a 20 would get a hit. YOU CAN NOT MISS FAST ENOUGH OR WITH A BIG ENOUGH GUN TO WIN A GUN FIGHT! Only hits count. If you don't trust a gun, don't think it is reliable, don't like to shoot it, heck, if you just don't like it period, get rid of it and get something you are comfortable with. There are no prizes for shooting the biggest cannon. There are only prizes for staying alive.
A 20 (or a .410 for that matter) will feed a family, stop a rabid animal, repel an intruder. So will a 12. Get the one you will practice with and can consistently shoot well. Anything else is a waste of money and could cost you your life or the lives of your loved ones. There is nothing on this planet that a 12 GA will stop/kill that a 20 GA will not also stop/kill. Out at 50 to 100 yards, there may be some differences that are noticeable against hard targets, but in close, nothing to be concerned with. Besides that, if you don't get used to the greater recoil, then what? Ammo is more readily available for the 12 than the 20 perhaps but both are available and relatively cheap so I don't think that is a deal breaker.
As I said, just my not so humble opinion, but in this case, I'm very right!

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guest September 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

if i where you i would get the 20. then i would also see if u have any family or friends with a 12 so you can figure if when SHTF if you will use one or leave it

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mr.keltec December 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm

If you aren't comfortable with the 12 ga don't own one. One of the worst scenerios i can think of is to be drawing up or flinching when you are makeing a shot that may save your or your family's life. Outside of self defense, if the 12 ga is recoil sensitive for you, you are not likely to use it for any type of sport or recreation.

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Reinhold December 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm

How about the Kel-Tec KSG:
"The KSG weighs 6.9lbs and is as compact as legally possible with a 26.1" overall length and an 18.5" cylinder bore barrel. Even with this compact size, the internal dual tube magazines hold an impressive 6 rounds of 12 gage 3" shells each, for a total capacity of 6+6+1 (7 per tube if using 2-3/4" shells). "
http://www.keltecweapons.com/news/preview-kel-tec…

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corwin46 March 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm

This is a great offensive and defensive weapon but I wouldn't consider it a survival gun. I don't think it would hunt very well but it is scary enough to make a lot of BG's want to leave you alone.

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mr.keltec November 15, 2012 at 4:25 am

$$$$$$$$$$$

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mack February 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I wonder if that single will do any good when you are trying to protect your supplies from a dude with a pump. “Oh hold on let me reload”.

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CaptBart November 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

A lot of people survived a lot of years with singles. A lot of people didn't. Same goes for pumps or lever actions. The question becomes how you plan to defend your area. If you design the defense around that single, then you should not be in that position. You have more flexibility with a double or a pump, given, but more complexity with that pump. Complexity is the enemy of survival; how are you going to defend when that pump or auto goes "click"? That is a TERRIFYING sound.
I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm simply saying that you plan your defenses around what you have. A lot of people have died with fully auto weapons in their hands because they didn't plan on what happened. There is a scenario that will defeat any weapon you may possess so we all make compromises and do our best.
A single shot shotgun to blunt the initial attack with a sidearm (if you're using a shotgun, you are in sidearm range) capable of buying the time needed to reload is a viable option.
Just my not so humble opinion.

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Skulp March 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

great posts from everyone! I sleep soundly at night with a 12ga remington 870 beside my bed. it has a flashlight attached to it and an extended magazine tube. if I have to bug out I will attach the single point sling.
That said, none of it matters if I dont wake up in the middle of the night with the missus, and practice clearing my house. Once a quarter or so.
if you don’t hit with your first shot you probably won’t hit at all. if you start with a very large guage and work your way down lesser guages dont feel as rough

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ThomasC. March 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

Remember the ammo you use should be consistant with what you want it to do. Ballistically speeking, #1 buck is the best manstopper. NOT 00. Not so say that 00 won't work as a man stopper I'm sure it does. If you want to ake small game, use game loads. If you are using slugs for hunting know that a slug out of a 20ga. has almost 2 times the effective range of a slug out of a 12ga.

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CaptBart November 15, 2012 at 10:19 am

Thomas,
that is something I hadn't run across before. Do you have a reference for the 20 ga. slug range?

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mr. keltec December 22, 2013 at 7:54 am

I don't have any ballistic info to share from trials, but hands on experience I have has previously proved me more accurate a longer range with the 20ga than the 12ga. This being with smooth bore barrels. I know I can throw a small rock farther than a big one if that make sense? I'd be curious to learn more about this topic.

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Brianna March 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I need a survival gun that is best for a young girl. its meant for me to use, I'm 17 about to be 18 so age limits is important also this gun(don't really care if its a handgun or a rifle or whatever) needs to be versile(sp?) and be of use in hunting, offense, and deffense. also this will be adding to my get out of dodge bag/ hiking bag it would be useful if i could strap it to a leg(or something) or fit comfortably in a bag. If you could please answer with good info it would be very useful.

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jacob April 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm

You want a 4″ inch barreled .357 magnum double action revolver. powerefull enough for deer and people. Compact enough to wear in a holster comfortably. It also has the ability to shoot .38 special ammo wich has less recoil since you are probably new to shooting. If i could only have one gun thats what i would have. They are also generally accurate and easy to use. Also they are generally more reliable than semi-auto pistols.

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Instructor April 12, 2012 at 3:49 am

You must be 21 in order to own a handgun. Find a shotgun that you can handle comfortably. Even if it's a .410. I imagine a 20 gauge might work for you. Ask people you know that have shotguns or find a local range that rents guns so you can try before you buy. Also start saving up for that pistol for your 21st birthday.

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tagcat4242 August 25, 2012 at 12:42 am

I really like the moss burg 410 pump ,full stock with the pistol grip on the pump,take out the plug and you can hold 6 rounds .add a tack light on the barrel that comes on when grab the grip(i like to see what i am shooting at)get some #4 shot.In close combat 10'-15' has the same knock down power as a 44 mag.This is what my wife and i use all the time.We live in the ozarks so we are always shooting raccoons,armadillo and possum.Its what we would take if we had to bug out and the 9mm,the 22 lever action.Look at a 2 point sling makes it easy to carry and easy to get to.
hopes this helps.tagcat4242

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geust September 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

ruger makes a great 10/22. i know a 22 seem to be an under powered round. the reasons i put it out there is cuz ammo is really cheap. you feel no kick. 10/22 are reasonably priced. we used them on the farm to put down bulls weighing more than 1500lbs with as few as 2 shots. as with all guns a well placed shot will kill a person

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CaptBart November 15, 2012 at 10:30 am

Brianna,
My first shotgun was a .410 single and it is a very effective weapon for small game up through coyote sized game. It is a tad small for man sized critters at any range longer than say 30 feet but out to there, it is solid. My bride uses a .410 pump as her beside the bed gun with buckshot.
The Ruger 10/22 is a great little .22, an excellent training arm to learn how to shoot, again good against mid-sized game. Both are fun to shoot. The 10/22 can reach out farther but is less efficient on larger animals. I have heard plenty of reliable stories of excellent shots taking deer and larger with a .22 but those are rare exceptions so don't count on being able to do that yourself.
Savage makes a combo .22/20ga that could be an excellent weapon. The main drawback is that it is a single shot in each barrel. One .22 and one 20ga. and then reload. Perhaps a good survival gun but not such a good personal defense weapon.
When you go to get a long gun, make sure it is sized to fit you properly. Standard rule of thumb is to hold your shooting side arm straight out to the side, horizontal to the ground, palm up. Bend the arm at the elbow until the forearm is vertical and place the stock of the long gun in the crook of the arm. The trigger finger should fall easily to the trigger (perhaps obvious but be SURE the weapon is unloaded). If it does not reach the trigger, the length of pull is too long and you will have trouble shooting the weapon at all. If it is well past the trigger, you'll be able to fire the weapon but it won't be comfortable to shoot. My bride is 5 ft and I'm over 6. While I can shoot her weapons, they aren't comfortable so I don't like to shoot them. Some of mine she simply can not shoot properly as the stock can't be on her shoulder when she reaches the trigger. Good luck.

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purnima June 11, 2012 at 11:15 am

Throwing lead pellets here and there especially after firing your gun, may be dangerous for the environment. Please recycle these fired air gun pellets. I have made a statue from air gun pellets. Please see my hub http://purnimamoh1982.hubpages.com/hub/pelletstat… for more details

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bill June 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

own all types of guns but my 12 is important to me. plus the racking sound is all the warning sound you get

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Patrick July 1, 2012 at 6:31 am

I’ve noticed a couple of people here mentioned that a tactical shotgun is not needed in this situation. The biggest disadvantage of a tactical shotgun is effective range. But, today’s modern choke tubes are making that less of an issue. With the right choke tubes a 20 inch barrel could still be used as an effective hunting shotgun. Also I’d like to mention here that for outdoor self defense 00 buck or even 000 buck is the best choice, but for indoors, protecting your home, consider a #6 bird shot. Will do all the damage you need at close range, but won’t over penetrate on walls and kill someone in the next room, such as your children’s bedroom. With a little understanding on shotguns, choke tubes, and what shells for the situation at hand, the shotgun is the best self defense/survival gun a person can own. They are simple to operate, and most people, regardless of firearms experience, can shoot one fairly accurately. Oh, btw, note to the writer of this article, they also make a 28 gauge shotgun, but very rare firearm. I am an avid firearms enthusiast and somewhat of a collector. My collection consists of over 30 firearms and still growing. Many ppl want to get a pistol for defense, but unless you shoot A LOT, and have very good knowledge of firearms and have nerves of steel, a pistol will most always be the wrong choice. Pistols are very difficult to shoot accurately, especially in a high stress situation. Rifles are better than pistols, but takes the over penetration issue to another level. You don’t want to kill your neighbor while defending yourself in your home. This leaves the shotgun, which for many reasons is the best overall self defense firearm.

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mr.keltec December 6, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Patrick,
I agree with your points made. I'd like to add that a tactical shotgun is just that. It should be purchased for offensive or defensive purposes only. I get the same feeling as you that the tactical shotgun is not favored here. I have a variety of shotguns myself including the tactical style. Mine has a 6 point adjustable stock with pistol grip. The adjustable stock not only makes the gun a good fit for anyone big or small, but when fully contracted it is a benifit in a tight spot or corner. The pistol grip adds comfort and stability. My stock is an ATI and I've got a saddle that holds 3 extra rounds. This is another advantage because it is not recommended to install the saddle on the gun itself. And as for the short barrel, another plus. I get a slightly quicker spread in pattern. Only slightly because its only a defense gun and I dont believe that use for defense could be justified at much more a distance as down a hallway.
I've recently traded in my buckshot defensive rounds for #4 turkey shot to reduce penatration. The last thing I even want to think of is spraying one of my kids on the other side of a wall. My two cents.

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mr.keltec November 15, 2012 at 4:12 am

I recently read somewhere that some LE are swapping from buckshot to #4 turkey loads for tactical entry type ranges. The artical claimed the #4 at these distances were more lethal to the bad guy with less over penetration. Makes sense to me and the #4 is the first round in my home defense shotty.

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collin November 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I just bought a mossberg 500 special purpose and when i put in some #8 2 3/4in shells it wouldnt take more than 2 shells in the tube.
what could be the problem?

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James December 4, 2012 at 12:21 am

remove the Dowel, or plastic stopper from the tube. you should be able to squeeze 2 more rounds in there. just got done doing that to my .410 and 12 ga.

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mr.keltec December 1, 2012 at 2:40 am

The Serbu falls into the (AOW) class 3 cataglory. You are correct in that you can carry it as you would a pistol. However, you do have to register or apply for the AOW, any other weapon, stamp. The stamp is only $5 bucks which is cheap compared to other stamps like the $250 for a silencer. I do not know how long this process takes.

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mr.keltec December 9, 2012 at 7:42 am

I try to make suggestion/statements that leads folks into the right direction. We should all keep in mind, no matter what level of know how we posess, that folks who are new to survival ideas and guns use this sight to inform themselves. Any false information given, especially legal, can be a life changer. I do not say this to step on anyone's toes, but to remind all, including myself, that this site and the information it gives others could be all a reader has to go on and what he/she puts their life on.

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mr.keltec December 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I believe in most instances a range of more than 20ft fired at a bad guy would be hard to justify to the DA as self defense.

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christian prepper February 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm

i am saving up for a 12 gauge shotgun

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David Murphy April 5, 2013 at 1:32 am

I'm sure everyone here has heard of Magpul Dynamics they train military and police trainers. They have a course on "The Art of the Dynamic Handgun", "The Art of the Tactical Carbine", "The Art of the Precision Rifle" and "The Art of the Dynamic Shotgun". They have DVD's of these courses too. If you watch these or attend any of these courses I guarantee you will come away realizing you knew nothing about weapons. These guys trained the world record holder for the longest sniper shot.

At the end of the sniper course everyone will be able to shoot a 16" target at 2,000 yards. :)

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Murse September 20, 2013 at 10:01 pm

First and foremost-survival gun- was the topic right? Pump first and foremost. More reliable. Less moving parts, and lighter for those who may be lugging prepper gear or ammo.
Love my 20g 870 but also my dads 12G 1100 when I’m feeling nostalgic. I’m an ER nurse by trade but a dove/duck/deer hunter on weekends. For all those who love their “riot” gun setups hate fine but good luck when trying to harvest food that’s flying or running at 30 yards away. I’m sticking to my 870. Seeing as to I’ve seen what happens to person shot by all kinds of shot and calibers. I assure you as mentioned above, by the guy who got ripped, #7 bird shot will do the trick at close range inside a home. Remember not all of us live alone and I’m no about to send buck shot flying through drywall when I know little heads are sleeping on the over side. Yes, it’s less lethal, but put rock salt into somebodies chest then ask them to stand up and fight. For those who live alone by any means use some big lead. I’ve seen small bird shot turn flesh into raw hamburger meat at 10-15 feet. Guy lived but was wishing he didn’t, plus he glowed like a Christmas tree on the x-ray.

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Hboom September 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I have 6 Remington 870 pump shotguns, all for different reasons. Excellent gun that requires minimum maintenance to work well. I duck, deer, dove, boar hunt and have home defense needs. "Tactical" means nothing to me unless it improves the functional use of the firearm to my specific needs. ALL of these guns could be used for self/home defense. I don't count on the "racking" sound as a deterrent as I prefer the element of surprise for defense and cannot predict how scared the guy (or his possible multiple associates) may or may not be once he discovers that I am armed AND now knows my general location. Simply put, if it works well for sporting use a shotgun can and will be useful in defense work, out to 40 or 50 yarrds. Obviously, some more than others. Shorter barrels work better ergonomically in close environments. Pattern your gun.KNOW if it likes 0, 00, 000 better than other sizes of buckshot. KNOW it's range limitations and do not limit yourself to only one mode of defense. Be a VICTOR not a VICTIM. All in all, a good 12 guage pump gun is a versatile tool for game and defense. KNOW what your gun (and YOUR) limitations are and govern yourself accordingly!

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josh January 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Im looking for reliable home defense shotgun. Im looking for 12 gauge pump action my budget in 200 -300. Have any ideas on what is the best choice?

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Mr. T March 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm

or stack it (1)#8, (3) 00 buck, (2) slugs

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CaptBart August 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I've said elsewhere and will say here; if you are faced with MZB hordes unless you have full auto, belt fed (think M2 or M60) you loose.The most reliable gun in the world is a single shot – a double is just two singles on one stock (part of why I like them so much) and there is NO second shot as fast as from a double which is part of why double rifles are/were so popular with professional hunters. It is also hard for a DA to argue that your single is a "man killing super weapon".

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Jengo October 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

They got along just fine with donkeys, too, before cars.

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Guest April 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I'm not sure how old these posts are,but I must respectfully disagree with the above replies. Before the flaming begins, you should know that I have served on multiple air-ambulance tours to Iraq and have been an advanced EMT as a civilian for several years now. I have seen and treated (usually unsuccesfully) close range shotgun wounds. At typical home defense ranges, the shot has not traveled enough distance to expand significantly, and the victim is generally left with a hole the size of a fifty cent piece into which all of the shot and even the wad has penetrated.

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Guest April 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

In cases in which bird shot is used, there is generally not an exit wound. These are generally the worst, as all of the energy is unloaded into the victims body instead of exiting from the other side. That equals scrambled organs and death. Some will also say, "birdshot doesn't penetrate heavy clothing." Also false. I responded to a scene in which a man was shot in the back with 20 guage bird-shot while hunting in the winter. The shot and wad penetrated several layers of clothing (carhartts) and a pair of ribs, and still had plenty of energy to cause massive destruction of his internal organs. I'm not saying buckshot is less effective. It isn't, but use your setup in the home with confidence unless you live in a home with rooms that are 40X40 or if you have excessively long hallways. I would suggest swapping that pistol grip with a regular old shoulder stock or shoulder stock with a pistol grip. It may not look as cool, but being able to look down your sights, even with a shotgun, will improve your hit probability significantly.

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David Murphy April 5, 2013 at 1:09 am

Don't get me wrong I love a good shotgun. Heck, I love a bad shotgun. They are only good for hunting and clearing rooms. 00 buck is only good to 35 yards and slugs to 50. The ammo weight is a factor too. If you are bugging in I would and do have several shotguns. If you are bugging out get a .308 100 rounds weighs the same a 20 12 gauge slugs. You could add a cheap .22 with 500 rounds for hunting small game. .308 is good to 600 yards and a .22 will shoot the heads off small game at 50 yards. The secret of accurate .22 is to always buy subsonic. Anyone can shoot flowers foo their stems at 50 yards.

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