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). See the others:
- Part 2: Choosing Gauge and Type
- Part 3: Choosing The Gun
- Part 4: Understanding Loads
- Part 5: Myths Explained
- Part 6: Cleaning and Maintenance
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
Shotguns 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
Shotguns 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
The 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.
Shotguns 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.