Survival Shotgun Part 3: Choosing the Gun

When it comes to survival shotguns, your choices really come down to two brands: Remington or Mossberg. There are proponents of each shotgun, and both have their strengths and weaknesses.  Performance of the basic models will be on par, but there are limitations that should be remembered.

Both guns are extremely high quality pump action shotguns that are easily the most popular models in the world. Each company makes dozens of variations of the guns and either will serve you well. Reading about specific differences and your own preferences is the only way to choose.

Remington 870

Remington 870 Express 18" Synthetic

The Remington 870 Express 18″ Barrel and Synthetic Stock

Differences to Remember:

  • The Remington Express five-round magazine tubes have dimples that need to be removed in order to attach magazine extensions.
  • The stock factory pump is too long to use with a sidesaddle ammunition carrier.
  • The Remington 870 uses a push button safety that is not as ambidextrous or obvious as Mossberg’s tang safety.

Mossberg 500

Mossberg 500

The Mossberg 500 Lineup

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Differences to Remember:

  • The Mossberg 500 series has an aluminum receiver that lightens the shotgun significantly, but prevents the use of most sidesaddle ammunition carriers (they are not recommended by the factory).
  • The Mossberg 500 series has a polymer safety button and trigger assembly.
  • The Mossberg 500 series magazine cannot be extended because the barrel secures to the end of the magazine tube.

Additional Models

Remington 870 18" Synthetic 7 Round

Remington makes an Express model (#25077) that comes equipped standard with a two round magazine extension and a short pump from the factory. The Remington 870 Express 18″ Synthetic 7-Round

Mossberg 590A1 Special Purpose

Mossberg makes several other versions of the 500 called the 500 Special Purpose and a heavier duty version of the 500 called the 590A1 that comes with a heavy walled barrel, parkerized finish, metal trigger group, which holds 6 rounds.

These shotguns are more expensive and harder to find, although both companies has increased availability, but for the small price increase you will get more gun.  Some other weaknesses can also be overcome by purchasing accessory parts, but the more you change, the more chances you have to cause a failure with the firearm, something you can’t afford.

Overall

Mossberg 500 Setup

For the most part an 18.5″ barrel, 5+1 capacity model with synthetic furniture will do fine in the survival toolkit.  If you are concerned about getting some game, an additional longer barrel with a choke can be purchased.

Try not to be drawn to the new “tactical” models with folding or collapsible stocks, or unorthodox muzzle attachments.  If your shotgun came equipped with a heatshield, remove it, it can shoot lose and bind the action.  Keep your shotgun simple and slick (as in clean, fast, and smooth).

Choose for Your System

Whatever shotgun you ultimately end up with, remember to keep it simple, rugged, and test it’s reliability.  Train with it, make sure any changes you’ve made have not compromised the shotgun, and keep shooting it to find any weaknesses in you and your technique or the shotgun.  Even when I shoot skeet recreationaly, I will bring my survival shotgun and break a few clays with it; it’s just another way to keep rounds through the gun and maintain familiarity with my shotgun.

Hands-on Shotgun Reviews

To make it easier, our team has done a series of reviews of different shotguns. Check them out below:

Part 4

Watch for Part 4 which will cover choosing the best loads for your survival shotgun.



Mr. Smashy
Written by Mr. Smashy

Mr. Smashy has been shooting competitively for more than 15 years. Scouted from a junior club rifle team for the state team, he has won state championships in several events over his years. Mr. Smashy currently competes in NRA Highpower, USPSC, Action Pistol, among others. Mr. Smashy has excellent knowledge of US service rifles, reloading, and marksmanship. Read his full interview here. Read more of Mr. Smashy's articles.

113 thoughts on “Survival Shotgun Part 3: Choosing the Gun”

  1. I picked up my Mossberg 590 SP last Friday and put 25 rounds through it at the range… I am VERY pleased. I do plan on getting a longer barrel for hunting… but even with the shorter barrel I was having no problem finding the target at 100 yards from the standing position w/o optics. I like the safety position, the ring sights, and went with the 590 because of the 9+1 round capacity. Gotta say…, I'm a little bit in love. lol

    Reply
  2. Montezuma,

    Your Mossberg sounds awesome I'm glad it's treating you well. 8+1 is great

    I sort of in the opposite position of you. I got an 870 earlier this year for sport shooting, but I need to look into a short barrel and some synthetic furniture.

    100 Yards with just the irons is pretty good. Are you planning on putting some type of optic on your gun?

    Reply
  3. I want to add 1. Longer barrel 2. Optics 3. light and then I want to move on to an AR… I'm actually thinking about getting/building an AR .308 BUT I'm not sure if the increase in stopping power and hunting ability is worth the extra weight and the lower availability of ammo.

    Reply
  4. 7.62×39 has more penetrating power than a 5.56 AR, but does not have the load versatility of an AR with a 1:7 twist barrel. The wound profile of 5.56 bullet with a 77gr Mk262 load is more likely to cause a stop than most available 7.62×39 ammo; there is some 7.62×39 Jacket Soft Point made by Wolf and Winchester that would perform better than the standard ball loads,

    Typically a trained rifleman can get better accuracy out of an peep-type sights. The 7.62×39 AK also has it's very quick drop in flight. A popular battle zero for the AK is 50 yards and 100 yards (the bullet crosses over a these two points). To hit at 300 yards, you have to hold high 3 feet. A popular battle zero for the AR is 50 yards and 200 yards. To hit at 300 yards you have to hold high 9 inches. The 5.56 is a much flatter shooting cartridge than the 7.62×39, which helps the rifleman stay on target out to longer ranges. The AR-15's effective range on point targets is 600 yards using iron sights.

    Here is a short article about terminal ballistics of different calibers (including shotguns): http://www.frfrogspad.com/terminal2.htm

    I'm not opposed to AKs, they make good truck guns, especially the folders, but I don't see them as having a real place in my survival arsenal. I'm sure I will end up with a few, but I'd rather fill my rack with ARs, I'm setup to reload 5.56. The 5.45 AKs would probably serve me better, but and all the surplus 5.45 I've seen is corrosive. I'm not a huge fan of the terminal ballistics of the 5.45 round either, but for a rack grade rifle it could come in handy.

    Reply
  5. Smashy, I love your posts and it is clear that you have some great knowledge on this stuff…, but sometimes it is just so far over my head… lol.

    the AR .308 was recommended to me for the hunting aspect. My goal is to have an effective arsenal with (at least initially) as few weapons as possible. In a Bug Out scenario, I want to carry only as many weapons as I need… so I am looking for as much versatility as possible out of everything that I put in my kit.

    My concerns with the AR .308 are: weight, ammo availability, parts availability…, but on the flip side the .223/5.56 isn't legal for hunting everywhere…. which in a SHTF scenario, I don't know how concerned I am with ATF or Fish and Game catching me… But TODAY, I do.

    IF you were only going to put ONE in your bag, what would it be and why?

    Reply
  6. My ONE rifle would probably be a DPMS Panther 7.62NATO Oracle, with a quick adjusting low power scope. It's in 7.62 NATO, it takes PMag 20-LR, and you can get surplus ball ammo as well as high quality hunting and sell defense loads. The Hornady TAP rounds create devastating wound profiles. Spare parts are not a problem to stock up on now, reloading for 7.62 is not difficult, and even well placed ball ammo can fall game. The 16" barrel will be accurate and light weight, good for CQB and still effective on target out to 600 yards. I would replace the standard handguards for a railed set for mounting a light and other accessories.

    You would not be trading much firepower and mobility for the larger caliber, and you would still have the excellent ergonomics of the AR-type rifle. A 1-4x scope like a Trijicon Accu-Point would be ideal, but something like a Burris 2-7×35 Fullfield II Tactical Rifle Scope could work very well for hunting and tactical shooting.

    Reply
  7. Smashy, I love your posts and it is clear that you have some great knowledge on this stuff…, but sometimes it is just so far over my head… lol.

    the AR .308 was recommended to me for the hunting aspect. My goal is to have an effective arsenal with (at least initially) as few weapons as possible. In a Bug Out scenario, I want to carry only as many weapons as I need… so I am looking for as much versatility as possible out of everything that I put in my kit.

    My concerns with the AR .308 are: weight, ammo availability, parts availability…, but on the flip side the .223/5.56 isn't legal for hunting everywhere…. which in a SHTF scenario, I don't know how concerned I am with ATF or Fish and Game catching me… But TODAY, I do.

    IF you were only going to put ONE in your bag, what would it be and why?

    Reply
  8. I need some recommendations. I am getting ready to purchase my 1st HD/Defensive shotgun. I want a 870, and I have narrowed my choices down to the 2 870 models featured in this article, but I do not know whether I need the magazine extension. In theory the extra two rounds would be great, but I wonder if the extra weight will be a disadvantage in the real world. Also on gunbroker, the 870 with the magazine extension was $20 cheaper than the one without. If I get the 870 with the extension can I take it off? Any info would be great. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • The 5 shot 870 Express (#25549) is a 4+1 gun, meaning it holds four in the magazine plus one in the chamber. The 7 shot is a 6 + 1 gun (#25077). You can convert it to a 5 shot, but you'll need a magazine cap and the correct spring.

      You're looking at about 1/4 pound difference between basic guns (7 1/2 pounds for the 7 shot). Loaded weight is not going to much more. You are striking into the heart of the "firepower vs. mobility" dilemma. Those two extra rounds may be very beneficial, but you may find that every ounce adds up if you plans include a long trek via foot.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the info. I think what I will do is buy the 7 shot and also buy a cap and a spring and have the best of both worlds. I have read about defensive shotguns (and have always believed this for all defensive weapons) that you need to have options. Meaning that every active shooter situation is different. There-for your guns should adapt accordingly. BTW kudos on the extremely informative defensive shotgun articles. I have always been a fowl hunter. I have been hunting with shotguns since I was a kid, but I never knew how different of an animal a defensive shotgun is to a hunting shotgun. I have truly enjoyed your articles.

        Reply
        • Matthew

          Congrats on getting your defensive shotgun. I'm glad mr. smashy was able to help you out. We are excited to have his expertise as a member of our site.

          Thanks for reading and keep up the good prepping.

          Reply
    • The minute amount of extra weight pales in comparison to the advantage of having those 2 extra shells. If you get in a situation where you need them you'll be glad you have em or possibly dead if you don't. When the SHTF it ain't going to be pretty.

      Reply
  9. The question is not whether gold has any real value. No money has any value beyond what a society places on it. But precious metals — especially gold — is nearly universal (across time and locale) in its perceived value. That is the difference.

    For most of the 20th century the US Dollar has been the world's reserve currency. But that is not the case anymore, with major world economies like Russia and China now buying gold instead of US Debt. That should tell you something about gold and perceived value.

    Cash is king, as they say. And you should always have a supply of cash on hand. But don't overlook a slow-decline scenario. When economies are booming, gold is a bad investment. When economies are busting, gold is an incredible investment. When it all goes to hell, we're back to bartering.

    Reply
  10. I think that gold, which has gotten way to expensive for the normal person, is over-rated. I feel silver may be more intelligent to buy. Silver coinage is much easier to use and will probably maintain its value. Ergo, if I was to buy anything, and my finances don't seem to indicate that will happen soon, I would buy sliver coinage. I agree that batering would probably be the new form of getting what we need.

    Jeanne

    Reply
  11. Totally agree. Well put. I have on-hand 1-month living expenses in cash. I intend to add to that basic supply with small quantities of silver (like the coins you mention), and then gold.

    One thing to mention here is that if you plan on holding physical gold don't tell anyone you own it. And don't leave any paper trail. The US government has seized private gold holdings in the past. They can do it again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102

    Reply
    • I have a NEF Pardner 12 gauge I bought for like $180 at Dick's sporting goods 2 or 3 years ago. I love it and never had an issue with it. It is comparable with my Mossberg 500 pump. It closely resembles the Remington 870. It only has a bead sight, but it is fine out to 100 yards. Hard to beat it for the price. Seems very rugged and well made. Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • It does and thanks for the reply. I believe that i will have to try one. Maybe the after market accessories for 870's will work on it fine. Thanks again

        Reply
  12. I recently purchased the full tactical model from Remington. Magazine extension, ghost ring sights, tactical facescraper/breaching offset and rail for optics. I added a recoil suppressing Knoxx 6 position ar style stock and a surefire tactical forend. Another good option comes from CDM Gear. Great clamps for tactical flashlights. Just be sure to go with a high quality LED as the heavy recoil can kill a low quality or incandescent lights.

    Reply
  13. I just bought a NEF personal protector it 's an 870 clone but the price was the reason for the buy
    I also have a Rem1100 and a Mossburge 835 the Rem is for birds the Moss is for turkey & deer
    The PP from new england firearms is for home defence & my new truck gun..OBTW I also have a H&R 10 gauage but I have retired that since I got the 835 it shoots everything from 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 mags.. Good luck finding the shotgun that you are happy with

    Reply
  14. May I suggest instead of an AK which cannot hit the broad side of a florescent barn…the Ruger Mini 30. It fires the same round (7.62×39) much more accurately. The rifle is light, rugged and inexpensive. $500-$700 range. It takes 5,20 and 30 round magazines, Is super easy to breakdown and reassemble and is a breeze to clean . It is very reliable and the action is similar to the M1 and the 10/22. It will easily accept almost any type of optic and would be great tactically and for hunting. I am a big fan of AR's so not to deter you from that but the Mini 30 is a great alternative for an AK. Hope this helps? Good choice with the 590.

    Reply
  15. I would be careful in how menacing your gun looks. At some point you may have it held up in front of a jury (even in a self defense trial) If they see some tricked out black pistol grip, guess what is the first thing they will think. I like your site and what you are doing and the purpose it serves but i just thought i would give a diff. perspective.

    Reply
  16. A break-open, single-shot, 12-gauge shotgun the least expensive, most handy and versatile firearm anyone can own. When out doing chores you going need to carry a Rambo load-out . Take what you may need for the day and get back home. If low cost, safety, simplicity, ruggedness, durability, ease of carry, fast handling and versatility are essential, what other firearm can you get for about $100 used which does so much? A break-open shotgun “always works.” You can’t “short-shuck” one, it keeps going with minimal care, nothing much goes wrong or breaks on them. A break-open single-shot 12-gauge with rebounding hammer and automatic ejector is the best choice. Buy 100 rounds each of No. 1 buckshot, slugs and sixes.

    Reply
  17. The tang-mounted safety of the Mossberg is intuitive if you're using a regular hunting stock, and has an advantage over the Remington at that point with safety-placement.

    That changes though, if you have a stock with a pistol grip. To operate the tang-mounted safety at that point means having to release your grip on the stock. An inconvenience at best, and at least a second of not being able to fire the shotgun, if you have your sights on the bad guy. At worst, you don't get the shot off in time.

    Just another thing to consider in the old Mossberg vs. Remington debate. =)

    Reply
  18. I know this article says as basic pump action shotgun is the way to go because of its simplicity and price but I think there is a better option that is being overlooked. I personally AK pattern rifles and was pleasantly surprised to find a 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun that uses the AK receiver pattern and gas operation. Behold the Siage 12 [ 🙂 ], http://www.raacfirearms.com/Saiga_12.htm .

    I bought this model (19" barrel ) about a year ago and I must say it is a pure pleasure to shot. I've taken it out to the trap range about 6 times with friends and put it through its paces. The gas operation has 2 positions (1 and 2). The 1 position is used for heavy recoil loads like 00 and the 2 position is used for lighter loads (bird shot) or when the gas operation becomes fouled after a few hundred rounds of 00 [god forbid you have to fire a few hundred rounds of 00 before a cleaning – you probably have bigger issues at that point ]. It is as reliable as its AK47 brother, or at least I've put over 450 round through it at the trap range without a single issue ( other than a few fail to fires due to the primer issues we've all been seeing over this summer). This shotgun is simple to breakdown and clean, even a child could do it. It also offers high capacity magazines 5, 10, 20+.

    This model is an option worth considering IMHO.

    Reply
  19. Just a different perspective, I am looking at a Serbu 12ga "shotgun pistol" for a close in situation. PLUS it looks completely bad a$$ and looks like it would be fun! Not a replacement for a long shotgun, but could you imagine having a 12" pump shotgun in your face?! Might give a needed intimidation factor, and from what I understand it's legal as a "pistol" in most states, I know that it is here in VA.

    Reply
  20. Ok I just have to say this some shot guns of mossburg and others have a aluminum receiver which I for one do not like aluminum in my shotguns ; I have had reloads that had a little to much powder in them and the gun blew up in my face if it was made out of aluminum I would not be around today I am sure so be careful of what you pick up !!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  21. Ithaca still make's the model 37 feather light shotgun with a 18 in and it will bump fire (pull the trigger once and keep pumping it will fire every time you pump it ! with the trigger down!
    Winchester used to make a model 12 I think that will bump fire also !

    Reply
  22. All to true but for myself I have had lot's of practice in that kind of shooting I don't get upset till much later and have shot almost all shotguns ! and my 870 will not bump fire ! but my model 37 will and it all comes like second nature to me because of all my practice ! but for most people you are right !
    I should put more thought into my comment's ! I asume to much sometimes!

    Also I have missed with the frist shot a few time's in a stressful situation !

    Reply
  23. All to true but for myself I have had lot's of practice in that kind of shooting I don't get upset till much later and have shot almost all shotguns ! and my 870 will not bump fire ! but my model 37 will and it all comes like second nature to me because of all my practice ! but for most people you are right !
    I should put more thought into my comment's ! I asume to much sometimes!

    Also I have missed with the frist shot a few time's in a stressful situation !

    Reply
  24. talkin about shotgun's I have had the gun go CLICK ! and not fire !
    What would you do; go for your backup gun or rack another round ?

    I went for the back up !

    Reply
  25. Gday All as far as shot guns go i would love a pump action!,but i am an aussie and pump actions, semi autos are illegal in australia, but as funny as this sounds lever action is legal so could anyone tell me who makes a good quality lever action shotgun??. I also already have a over and under break action boito 12 gauge with 20inch barrel, is boito a reputable brand??

    Reply
    • Only one I've even heard of is an 1887 Winchester lever-action. I'll wager finding one could be a bear. Probably around $1,000 or better too.

      Reply
  26. I have a question, I have never owned or fired a shot gun. I have fired many other weapons mostly hand guns rifles and Compound Bow.
    So my question is, out of the guns suggested what is really the better choice,
    I WANT to be able to put the light on and ammo holder on the stock butt. Remington is a house hold name around here, but i wouldn't mind to consider Mossberg. but I liked the response @Montezuma1775 got from his Mossberg 590 SP. I wont be using this for daily or seasonal hunting, just for practice and In case of D-day.
    ANY IDEA'S?

    Reply
  27. I've been hunting with my Remington 870 Express Magnum since I was 16; my dad has the same gun in wood. Killed my first deer with it that year at over 100 yards across a ravine standing, have never used anything but the factory iron sights. I have played around with 500s that my buddies have, never have held a 590 but it seems like SF like em. I’m absolutely bias because of how my 870 performs. I’m more familiar with it than any other gun I own because it’s all I can use to hunt deer with in my county (this means hours of time with it in the field, making it and extension of the body). [email protected]#K New Pork state =). I also use my 870 with my bird barrel for turkey, duck, trap, coyote and small game. I have noticed that my 870 has a much smoother action than the 500 and feels much more solid. The only feature that I would take from the 500 is the placement of the safety, I really like it. Now they say you can’t put a side saddle shell holder on the factory gun b/c of its forend, I do use one but it is a 4 shot not the usual 6 shot. 4 shells are better than no shells though, right? I also bought a new forend from my buddy, its Hogue and rocks my world. Oh and I only use a smooth bore slug barrel so that it can also be my college city 00 buck defense gun. But if you are looking for a “jack of all trades” field gun you can take my word, you won’t be sad spending your money on this gun. I also recommend wrapping some Para cord around the stock, just because. Hope this helps you decide.

    Reply
  28. i like the m500 that i have its just an old used one with a 24in sulg barle and wood stock but it gives a lot of confedence in its solid feal to the hands sence i am a servivalist on fixd income and it maybe sometime before ican git a snythedic stock,and since i dount whant to ruin the gun in adding swivals to it is thare anny ideas as to how to use 550cord as a hasty sling for carrying puropuses in a bug-out situation,how long a pease,wole cord or just the outer cord??Did aqurer a low end lazer/flashlight for it,cant be shooting at shadows annymoore you know.

    Reply
  29. I had a moss 590 with the knife attachment still on the gun sold it due to unemployment wish i didn't cause of the amount of work i put in it (up grades) and all the times it help me out when i was traveling for a living. the 590 moss is one great fire arm to own and the rem 790 is a nice one to but haven't had to relied on it. anyone needing info on a shot gun these are two great guns to get. I got my moss 590 for 75.00 and sold it for 500.00 not bad but i spent more in the add on then what i sold it for. I hope this helps you with the article

    Reply
  30. I admit that I've not read every reply (just scanned them) so this may have already been answered, but why is the article just focusing on two brands? I have a Winchester 1300 Defender and I'm quite happy with it. Or is there something about Winchester that I don't know?

    Reply
  31. Another fine weapon to consider is the H&R "PARDNER" 12 gauge. Very economical and any of the 870 goodies will fit on the Pardner.

    Reply
  32. There is a new kid on the block that should be considered! Kel-Tec is now producing the KSG (I think its short for Kel-Tec Shotgun). The KSG is a 7+7+1. It has two tubes that hold 7 shells each with a selector switch. You can have two different types of shells at the same time. Just imagine the combinations. Since it is a "pump" you use the selector switch before the pump to chose your load. Not to mention all the bells n whistles… sling mounts, pic-rails for mounting lights, etc. So whats your pleasure, rock salt, bird shot, buckshot, slugs, breach rounds, beanbags, incendiaries ?????

    Reply
    • The ONLY problem with the KSG might well be the local DA! NO ONE needs 15 rounds of MAN KILLING 12 gauge shotgun shells. I know, a crock, but you have to avoid becoming a victim of the idiots so you can continue to protect your family. I wouldn't mind owning one for after TEOTWAWKI but it would NOT be my 'go to' home defense weapon before then.

      Reply
  33. Winchester stopped producing the 1300 in the late '80s, I think. So parts and accessories have become problematic.

    Ben228

    Reply
  34. Another control device that i haven't seen mentioned was the position of the slide release. On the Mossbergs its to the rear left side of the trigger guard. The Remington's is up by the loading gate, i believe left side. I don't like the 870's position for the slide release. However, a good fitting gun, that's comfortable, trumps one control feature. I'll learn to get used to it.
    One other thing i might mention is get something with dual slide bars. I've had the single bar type break on me. A Springfield model 67, if i can remember correctly. My brother's 12 gauge, and a 20 gauge of mine. Not a complete disaster normally…but if it breaks in a survival situation, it would be. Just putting in my two cents…
    BTW, wonderfull site here! No mouthy drama queens, or rampant stupidity. No "bust a cap…" morons either. Quite refreshing.

    Reply
  35. I haven't noticed anyone saying anything about how the shotgun fits. I've owned a Mossberg 500A riot shotgun 8+1 i think it was. I had a problem with the lenght of pull on it. I would throw it up to my shoulder for a quick shot, and would have to reposition it every time. It was too long for my build. Other Mossberg's, including my friend's 590, are the same. The 870's that I've handled feel much better, straight to the proper position for a quick shot.

    Reply
  36. I've owned an 870 express wingmaster for 4 years and i can say that it is by far one of the best weapons i've ever owned. My model is the longer barrel with changable chokes. I was thinking about buying a slug barrel for it (not sure where…) I think it is one weapon i would for sure have IN HAND on my trek to my bugout location, 00 buckshot would be the best choice i think as well because each bb would be a 7.62mm, with a 2 3/4 in shell, it would be about 9 of them! In my opinion, the best choice is the 870 with the short barrel… Cheers!

    Reply
  37. My Dad bought my first gun. It was a Remington 870 Express Magnum Youth 20ga. I still own it. It's only gotten better with age. The stock has turned a dark mahogany color verses the bright walnut finish it came with and it's mobile. Being a youth model, it comes with a shorter butt stock and a shorter barrel. It's my carbine shotgun and would be my pick of the litter if I had to choose one to bug out with. I've also owned a Mossberg 500A. It was an awesome gun too. Held 9 rounds of 2 3/4" shot shells. You could load it on Sunday and fire all week. Mossy's are cheaper here than Remingtons, in price, but like this article stated, they are both quality firearms. Another big difference between the two is that Remingtons shell latches are staked into the reveiver. Mossbergs are not and when you disassemble them for cleaning, they will fall out. Maybe a good thing to get the receiver spotless…maybe a bad thing if you're in the field and drop one where you can't get it back. Then your left with a breach loading single shot.

    Reply
  38. Lots of opinions – well thought out. I would point out that as Mr_Smashy points out it is a 6+1 or 4+1. Since I don't keep a round in the chamber in most cases, it is a 4 or 6 round choice. The other thing to recognize is that like a lever gun, a pump can be continuously reloaded. I start with 4, rack a round add a round. NOW I have 4 +1. I really have trouble visualizing a scenario that requires 7 shots from a shotgun without reload. Could be, given MZB hordes but in my living room, can't see it. I'd check out the hunting laws as well to see what they say. Just because TSHTF doesn't mean the game laws are null and void. They should be but you just can't be sure.
    Not arguing against the 6+1, just suggesting that big round mags are not as big a deal as some seem to think, especially if you can continuously reload from a stock sleeve or bandolier.

    Reply
  39. i have the M500 j.i.c. in 12g and its great. the only thing i added to the tube is a machete, 3 boxes of ammo and water tabs with some bottles. it came with a survival tin, and i havent opened it. ive bult another altiods survival tin for the tube as well. ive built tins before and from the list of items that was on the back of the mossberg tin, the items i add are more usefull to me for my location in the US.

    Reply
  40. I've owned a couple of the Savage 24C's, the campers model in .22/20 gauge. Great guns and will break down to an 18 1/2" package. Too bad they quit making them. My son's have them now and I presently have a Remington 870 in 20 gauge as my main bug out weapon.
    I know the 12 is more versatile but all my shotguns are 20's. Keeps things simple.

    Reply
    • Except at extreme range, I don't think the difference between the 12 and 20 is significant enough to notice without measuring gear. The only advantage the 12 may have is round availability. If I'd realized how the 12 GA ammo manufacturers were going to be putting MORE recoil into their shells every year( that's my story and I'm sticking to it 🙂 ), ALL of my shotguns would be 20 for me and 410 for my bride. I've got 12, 20 and .410 – for simplicity, if I was starting over it would be 20 only as long as shells were available.

      Reply
      • The only problem I've had with the 20 is the commercially available buckshot. #3 seems to be the only thing out there but I'm thinking at close range it'll do just fine.

        Reply
        • I would think #3 should do just fine, or you could load your own (I don't load shotguns yet – may have to start). The other thing would be slugs or see if someone like Cheaper than dirt or Buffalo Arms stocks it.

          Reply
          • Got a hundred rounds of #3 Buck and another hundred of slugs from Cheaper than Dirt a while back. Seem to work well in both my Rem 870 and my Stoeger coach gun.
            Have a great day and thanks for all your comments.

  41. Best gun available isn't posted in this article. Mossberg 500 JIC (just in case) mariner. Six shot capacity, pistol grip only, marine coat finish for maximum life in the elements. You can hold it by the pistol grip and completely let your arm down and the barrel isn't touching the ground. This is key when you may be on the run or suffering from fatigue.

    As for ammo. I buy all the ammo I'd ever need when I buy a gun. When I picked up my Mossberg 500 JIC I bought 125 rounds of 000 buck, 20 boxes of bird shot, 10 boxes of slugs. Same with my AR, bought all the ammo the same week.

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  42. I wouldn't buy a slug barrel for your 870s or Mossberg 500s. For an extra $40-60$ and sometimes even less, you can buy a complete second gun. This could be the difference between life and death when you're greasing a hoard of zombies.

    I don't know why that is, but just buying a slug barrel is ridiculously expensive.

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  43. One thing that I like better about the mossberg is the fact that it has 2 claws for shell extraction compared to the remington 870 1 claw. I have both shotguns, and was shocked that the shell extractor failed on the 870 rendering the weapon useless (only after 12 rounds through the weapon). it was repaired without cost by remington (they actually sent it out to local gunsmith instead of inhouse repair ) I have definately lost faith in this once revered firearm

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  44. what about a double trigger side-by-side coach gun? their around $300 for a cheap one that will do the average person just fine. If you are being charged by a small gang you can always unload both barrels at the same time and then draw your pistol for back-up. unloading both barrels at the same time with 00buck at less than 45 yds is the ultimate "spray and don't worry to pray".

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  45. Ed,
    a good gunsmith should be able to fix that for you while you sort out how many boxes of ammo you need to buy. I had my wife's .410 re-sized for her (much shorter pull length). Gun fits her perfectly and looks fine – can't tell the work was even done.

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  46. I have a coach gun and I love the thing. Check out the videos of the SASS shooting events to see just how quickly a practiced shootist can reload a double or fire a lever gun or a SAA six shooter. It is amazing and it is all AIMED fire.
    The old west guns might not be my first choice for survival weapons, but a lot of folks survived with them and I could do so as well. Besides, the fastest second shot in the world is a second barrel!

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  47. Having the magazine extension doesn't have to disqualify you from being fish and game legal. I have an 870 Express Magnum that I have a +2 extension on (6+1) with a 28" vent Remchoke and Choate combat stock. All you have to do is cut a plug the appropriate length, and install it whenever you want to reduce you magazine capacity. I couldn't tell you where my stock mag cap has gotten off to. I think that there are kits available to make the plugs, but I always make my own, since I can never find the one I made last year. All I do is take a plastic clothes hangar, and cut the long part that makes up the longest side of the triangle to the appropriate length with tinsnips. Drop it down the center of the mag spring behind the follower and viola. My cousin who has a +4 mag extension uses a cut down miniblind handle. My scattergun is a little bigger than most of ya'll's, but I am a farmer, and I need to have a little more range than most peeps. My gun holds a killing pattern at 60 yds+ with 3" #4 BK, or Dead Coyote shot. It does sometimes take a backseat to my AllWeather Red Label, because with the O&E I get to pick chokes, and sometimes I get two shots. I've never been able to shuck the 870 and get off a 2nd shot at a coyote, they don't stick around long enough.

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  48. I like my 870 ,but then I/ve had it since 69 and shot untold amounts of ammo thru it. I don't like the new ones ,way too rough and why pay 200$ or more for an express when there are lots of nice used wingmasters for 120 to 200 dollars. Bought one made in 1962 last year for 125$ just because it was too nice to leave there. It shoots very well and both have all their original parts. Never had a failure that required more than a few minutes to rectify. My 1966 skeet gun does not like RIO ammo and will let one escape the mag at times. I try not to feed them to it but forget sometimes. Just pull the barrel, remove the magazine guts and dump it out. When you have spent 42 years with a system it feels like part of you and just works. They shoot where I look and always work ,just what the doctor ordered. As far as Mossbergs ,lots of friends have them but they just don't point well for me. Pistol grip stocks ,heat shields and the rest of the tactical junk just serve no purpose for me ,YMMV. A mag extension might be interesting thou. Just a note ,I shoot skeet with a gentleman who drug one thru the tunnels in southeast asia ,he was very happy with it then!

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  49. I have both the Mossberg 590 A1 that holds 8+1 and a Benelli Supernova tactical which hold 7 with a 2 round mag extension. I have to say I love both of these guns!!!!!!! The Mossberg is a little longer so you do get a little tighter pattern but the Benelli is just a dream to shoot and for some reason seems to hit the targets harder if that makes sense. Personally it doesnt matter cause I would trust my life with either gun in a situation if it called for it. So anyobody out there if you haven't tried the benelli and are interested its a great self defense shotgun right up there with the Mossberg and Remington models. No need to shy away!!!!

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  50. In an aluminum receiver gun the bolt locks into te barrel. The aluminum receiver just holds the parts in place. Look at the top end guns Benelli, Berretta Etc all aluminum plenty in use no isues

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  51. Mossberg jic (just in case) somehow wasn't covered.. it comes in a waterproof tube that you can strap damn near anywhere and, if I recall correctly, is 7+1

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  52. My family are avid duck hunters so we have always been partial to the 870. Back in the day, Remington offered two models of pump shotguns: The Wingmaster 870, and The Express. The real difference between the two models was the Express could not take 3" shells, other than that the Wingmaster had fancier stock and maybe some swirleys engraven into the metal like the pinstripe of the Silverado compared to the Custom Deluxe truck.

    Last I heard they had merged the models but made them available with different options. I would be weary of modifying the gun any more than taking the plug out so it can hold the max number of shells the way it comes stock. But I have never tested a gun with the extension kit so I honestly do not know. When hunting, to get one more round off quick (while keeping legal to the three shell law) a pump gun is probably THE quickest "reload" weapon as you can drop one shell at a time right into the ejection slot.

    After your last round, to shoot one more shell, pause the pump in the down position and before racking it back to firing position drop one shell correctly oriented into the ejection slot and then continue the up stroke of the pump.

    It is not a recommended way to introduce a shell into the firing chamber, but it is definitely quicker than pushing one into the "on deck" position and then racking.

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  53. For your AR you might try the 6.8spc,,I have one I have used for hunting for 2 year's now,have droped 3 buck's with it using hornady 120gr.ammo..all 1 shot kill's at 100+ yard's,,it's light weight,and easer to carry in the wood's,,I use a combat sling for carry,,that way it is alway's handy..,better than the 30-30,close to the 308 in power,I really love that gun.. take it to the range all the time,,

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  54. IMHO, the extension balances the gun very well and extra rounds are a great feature in a defensive weapon.. That said, all mods to a gun should be made by an experienced gunsmith and tested, thoroughly, by the user.

    The extra weight is really not very noticeable. After all, we are talking about a full-sized shotgun and two more rounds with a bit of tubing isn't a deal breaker. That said, try it out and SEE how much heavier it is. Personally, I have never complained about carrying ammo.

    Another consideration is the addition of accessories. If you like a light under the barrel, the magazine extension could be a problem. Maybe not, depends on the installation. A light, in addition to optical sights, is a good idea.

    Good luck. You have stared with a great platform in the 870.

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  55. Massad Ayoob has written extensively on how the choices in weapons and ammo, even their names, can impact you when you are sworn in and take the stand. Be assured that, if you use your weapon against another human, you WILL, eventually, reach the witness box. Given the choice between a gun called "The Reaper" and one called "The Defender", guess which one I choose? Appearance means a lot, too. Wooden stocks and forearms look more like "Paw-Paw's dove/pheasant gun" and are perfectly serviceable. Goofy? Yes. Reality? Yes. Most juries are not made up of gun owners and enthusiasts. Ammo? I prefer ammo with a mild name… i.e. "Critical Defense" vs "Brain Exploding Murder Bullet"… ok I made that one up hahaha

    That said, I believe that, functionally, a slightly shortened full-stock is superior to a pistol grip. Forget "believe", I know it is superior, especially for those of us who grew up hunting birds. By "slightly shortened" I mean reducing the length-of-pull by 1" to 1.5"'s in order to reduce snagging on your clothing, not a radical shortening of the stock. Adding a radius to the top edge of the butt works well, too. Folding stocks only add complexity and weight, neither of which is good. Remember, in a "bug out/SHTF" situation, you won't have ready access to a gunsmith, so make your weapon as durable as possible.

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  56. Familiarity with a specific weapon can override a lot of great "advice". First, the 870 is an outstanding platform. Second, your experience with that particular gun should effectively exclude most other weapons for a survival situation. Like you, I have spent countless hours and fired innumerable rounds through my 870 (a 16g purchased by my Dad in 1958 and given to me in 1978 and, now, a 12g defense setup). Familiarity with shouldering, sighting, loading, operating the safety, slide action, clearing jams/FTF, etc has probably been consigned to "muscle memory" by now. You don't have to THINK, you just ACT. That is invaluable in a defensive situation, and more so the less you have been "trained".

    The Para-cord idea is a good one and I plan on implementing it on all of my long arms. Thanks for the tip.

    You are also correct that the better 870's are more refined, and better built, than the Mossberg's. Keep in mind that I have a few Berg's lurking around the house, but they are not as finely tuned as a good 870.

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  57. When I read forums aimed at survival/SHTF scenarios, I see a lot of comments regarding short "defensive" barrels and longer barrels for hunting. It is key to consider the game most likely to comprise food stock when equipping yourself.

    For instance, where I live, the game taken with a shotgun will most likely be deer or hogs in a heavily wooded setting. In that case, a short-barreled defensive shotgun, firing shot or slugs, is ideal, especially if equipped with "dot" optics. Smaller game, like rabbit or squirrel, would fall to a .22 handgun or rifle, not a shotgun. However, if you are in more wide-open spaces where fowl are the more likely source, a proper hunting barrel and loads would be desirable. In that case, a longer barrel, with the proper choke, would be invaluable. Be certain that defensive mods like mag extensions or fore end/stock choices don't prevent proper utilization of a "game" barrel. Heaven help the guy trying to hit a dove or pheasant with a pistol grip 🙂

    Also, in a true survival/SHTF setting, a suppressor for the .22 would be a really good idea. Legally owned, of course. Seriously.

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  58. I have a Remington 22 and a Baikal over and under, with a 12 Ga and a 30-06. I love it, I figured carrying one gun was better than carrying two. I have never tried a pump action. I was wondering if I should look for an inexpensive pump? Or, I wait until I get the semi-automatic, I have not yet been able to afford?

    Any recommendations guys?

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  59. I have to agree with captbart on ak/sks accuracy. They are by no means a sniper rifle, but do well out to the 150-200 yard mark. This is why they are one of if not the most popular battle rifles in the world. The ammo they eat are cheap and they are reliable as hell. Make no mistake, I like the AR platform. However, for the guy on a budget or just starting to fill his gun toolbox, you can buy three 7.62's for the price of an AR.

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    • Thanks, mr.keltec. I don't trust AR's because one when "click" when I desperately needed it to go "BANG". Fun to shoot, laser accurate out to 400+ yards but if it doesn't go bang, then you're in trouble. Fortunately for me, Springfield Armory built a really solid 1911A1 and it DID go bang when the AR went click. Love 1911's – don't trust AR's …. but again, fun to shoot if you're not playing 'you bet your life'. I've never handled the AR in anything other than 5.56 so the AR-10 or other calibers might be a different thing, I've just never tried them. "CLICK" at oh-dark-thirty on a VERY bad day (ANY day there is a 2 way lead exchange is a bad day) is a sound that is infinitely loud and stays with you a VERY long time!

      The AK on the other hand will go bang with a barrel full of water and half the trigger group covered in mud! (OK, an exaggeration …. but only a slight one)

      Just my not so humble opinion.

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  60. Ithica, Mossberg, and Remington has all been cloned and are going for like 200 bucks. I'd like to know how good they are and how well they hold up. Any comments would be appreciated.

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  61. My home defense shotty is a mossberg 88. I have the 6-position stock with pistol grip. The pistol grip adds stability and the stock adjusts to the best/most comfortable position for for the shooter. The stock is lighter than the traditinal stock and is alot sturdier than I would have expected. I'm not all that concerned with a jury's outlook on my tactical setup because it'll only be used in the house for the purpose of self defense.

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  62. I think you still have to file for an "other" firearm permit like you would w/ a silencer or automatic weapon. The permit/stamp is only like $5 bucks, but I dont know how long the process would be. Very nice weapon though! A conceal carry shotty. Who would have thunk it?

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  63. You need to do a bit more research before you write an article.
    The Ithaca model 37 is one of the best defense shotguns ever made. And it is even made here in the USA. We used the Ithaca model 37 during world war11 and in Vietnam, you can't get a more reliable shotgun period.
    The Ithaca model 37 is extremely reliable and has a bottom ejection, which in confined spaces such as a home it ejects the shells straight down, where the Remington and Mossberg throw the shells to the side where they bounce off of walls and back at you, very distracting.

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  64. I have a Mossberg 20 ga and my wife a 410. Both are pistol grip and both pump. They are both very easy to store and carry, and also very comfortable to shoot. We had them in our motorhome for self defense weapons for travel all over the country. I read your response to an earlier message about a potential jury looking at these weapons with less favor than regular stock guns. Your reason, I'm sure, is because they look offensive. We have our CWP"s and carry pistols, but we don't tote these shotguns around on our person. As a home defense weapon, I feel much more comfortable with aiming under stress with my 20 ga. than I would with my 357. I feel either one would be a question if used for anything coming under question as self defense. The pistol grip makes the gun much easier to handle and probably not to much fun to look at facing the bore. I guess it would all boil down to person choice in this matter.

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  65. Its been awhile since this post, but I wanted to update. Since I have purchased a saiga 308. It has the reliability the AK is known for but with more punch. Only problem occurred is it's heavy as hell. Like carrying a BAR. With a 24 round mag it is plenty capable of making heads duck, slicing through cars or walls. The 308 also has much better range capability than the 7.62×39.

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  66. Just as I was looking to transition from ol' reliable SxS double barrels, I learned that Chiappa now makes something called the Triple Threat and life just got a lot more complicated. This soon after the 2013 ShotShow I think there's only very few of these guns in captivity, but g'yah…

    Google it.

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  67. hold on there, Corporal. before you get in over your head (no offense, just warning you that shotgun shopping is sometimes a little TOO MUCH fun) consider a double barrel. frankly, I'm a little upset that none were included in the list.

    for bugging-out they're more mobile and break down into three simple parts in approx. 2.5 seconds and can be reloaded very quickly with regular practice, plus there's NO SPRINGS to worry about going bad over time. Even if you lean towards the tactical ninja style, Stoeger is leading the charge on bring back the affordable double barrel and makes one called the Double Defense that is jet black and all ate-up with picatinny rails for flashlights and pistol grips at respectable barrel length of 20" and it'll only set you back $180 or so…

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  68. The other guy called it, Cimarron is the way to go and they're even offering a "tactical" version for the picatinny fan club. For a slightly cheaper route that are SUPPOSEDLY pretty reliable, you'll want to look into Century Arms' PW87, but it's made in China so that's your judgment call to make. I've had hands-on their SxS, which seemed sturdy enough but HEAVY for your basic frame double barrel – would NOT want to bug out with that thing.

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  69. Yea, originally I felt that same initial pang of "OMG, want!" when I first saw that thing a while back. But then my wife reminded me that that's exactly the same face I made when I first picked-up The Judge and now I'm glad I never bought that one. I will say this, if you're committed to bugging-out long term, you could do worse the utility that Super Shorty offers. It's still on my list of rainy day purchases, but $700 for three shots?!

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  70. If I were you, I'd look into Mossberg's Cruiser 12-gauge. It's pretty small, but with (comparably) a much greater ammo cap, plus it's a Mossberg so there's that…

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  71. I have a 16 gauge moss, with a bolt action so they are out there. model # 190. 2 in the clip 1 in the barrel. no disrespect to the author here but I have never had any problem finding 16 guage ammo anywhere.

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  72. yes i also got the 590 and a winchester, and a stage coach double barrel. Tiey alll seem to wk fine. The 590 will be the best due to the 20 inch barrel.

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  73. may i make a suggestion? if you want something for all purpose hunting, and you dont want to worry about laws, consider a bow. i know it sounds funny at first, but i have a compound bow, which i feel is useful at my skill level (i'll admit im not great!) up to 50 yards, i have broadheads for big game, bludgeons for small game, and a bowfishing kit attached to it. so it effectively acts as my small game rifle, large game rifle, and fishing pole. just something to consider in my opinion

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  74. Please stop propagating this nonsense… firepower comes from the payload, not the gun.

    A 20 guage is going to be the better choice for the majority of people. Less kick = less injuries, especially in a survival situation where you're starved for energy and weak from malnutrition.

    Good luck eating that rabbit you just shot with a 12 guage.

    The only REAL advantage to using a 12 guage over a 20 guage is more readily available specialty ammo. But since everyone and their mom has a 12 guage, nobody will be grabbing the 20 guage ammo, meaning it will still be on the shelves when the SHTF.

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  75. I think I've assembled the best SHTF shotgun for my needs. A Mossberg Maverick 88 Security 6-shot 12 gauge pump ( model 5oo with a cross bolt safety) is the base. Added a Mossberg 500 6.75" action bar assembly, Hogue Overmolded furniture, and Outdoor Connection sling swivel stud kit. But what really sets the gun apart is that the OEM 18.5" cylinder bore barrel has been threaded for Carlson's choke tubes. I liked it so much that I did 3 of them alike. Actually, 2 are identical while the 3rd has the Hogue "Tamer" pistol grip furniture, receiver mounted sidesaddle (3 gungear.com), and magazine tube mounted tactical light (Streamlight mount and TLR-1 light). I've also got a Hogue conventional butt-stock, and factory stock bolt,/washer/ and lock washer just in case they go Draconian on p.g. shotguns.

    I' m thinking about doing the same thing to a couple of Maverick 88 20 gauges.

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  76. only a caution some shotgun extensions for the 870 are not durable or fit well enough for tough duty
    or extended workout and it is best to pay more for a steel factory
    and have a quality steel clamp or 2.

    I like a stock shotgun with the plug removed you need to learn to feed through the ejection port
    and load the mag tube alternately, and one hand loading practice.

    You will find any accessory or feature failure I like the short ribbed synthetic for end it does not obscure the
    loading gate on my 870 express when fully back some of the fore ends do.
    I also like a synthetic stock over wood

    I like skeet shooting while practicing alternative loading a hundred rounds should let you know if something is not right.
    best to get with the range officer first many times early morning before all the regulars show up.

    The 870 is a more flexible platform IMO and has many accessories for left handers, south paws or port siders
    I would opt for the 37 Ithaca.

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  77. I did not see a response from SC and I only give an opinion

    they are fine if you have a semi auto side arm I can see no situation where a person does not need sustained fire in a bad situation.

    Not everyone has a lot of money and remember if your a good shot you only need one to get what "THEY" have if attacked.
    As I recall that was the idea behind the liberator pistol dropped from planes in WWII here is a link for more information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FP-45_Liberator

    If you have something your better off than people with nothing ganging up on you.

    I only advise that people who want and do not now have a shotgun to get a pump my preference is an 870 express as it fires all 12 ga. shells to 3 inch mini shells are to short but can still be loaded carefully one at a time.

    There is no right or wrong just be prepared some states are making it hard to get anything get what you can afford and ammo that you can while you can look for reviews on what your looking to buy as you want as durable and easy to use for your needs also check cost and availability of ammo magazines accessories you may want.

    A single or double can use cartridge conversions shells to fire rim fire to center fire rifle or pistol shells.
    many a battle has been won from trickery thugs won't put a lot of effort into a battle they like to hit and run.

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  78. I didn't have a shotgun growing up. I grew up with a .22 bolt action and a pump action deer rifle. I shot a few shot guns but never really spent much time behind them until I went into law enforcement. We were taught a lot of different techniques and uses with the shotgun and I was impressed. Most of the time though, the shotgun stayed in the car because if things de-escalate, a handgun goes back into the holster and your hands are free. We always had Remington 870 for this. I personally own the Mossberg 500, based solely on the price and opportunity at the time. I like both Remington and Mossberg. In retirement I have found the simple, short barreled shotgun to be my standard carry long gun in my truck both around the ranch and when traveling. It is my first choice in bear country and I like having it in camp as well. I like to keep them simple at not draw a lot of attention. I do like the Mossberg's "Action Release Bar" location behind the trigger better than Remington's in front. Either way you can't go wrong. Of all the different attachments and folding stocks that have been added and removed to patrol shotguns over the last 30 years, there are only a couple that I consider worth while; a sling, a forearm mounted light, and the most recent was all patrol shotguns were fitted with youth butt stocks. It was a great improvement bringing to your shoulder with body armor and patrol jackets as well as taking a few inches off the overall length when working inside structures and tight confinement so. JMHO

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  79. I have a Winchester Defender 8 shot pump, is this a good survival shotgun? It has NEVER let me down, shoots anything I feed it and is as good or better than the 870 or Mossberg.

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  80. Well gents, here is my shakedown. I have two survival shotguns, an older Remington 1100 tactical completely gone through and made better. A vang comp magazine follower, trigger work, a mesa tactical stock, which comes with an excellent recoil pad. My other gun us a Benilli Nova Tactical, workslike a charm, stays in my truck. Shooting a shotgun in a fight requires training and technique. These will nullify recoil issues for the most part. Buy your weapon and learn how to use it, even in the dark.

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  81. If you have confidence in this weapon, it is as good as any other. I have seen the defender around for a long time. It was not too long ago Mossberg was the low end shotgun, but it sold good and again, the key is to know your weapon, and practice practice practice. Confidence is gained as your level of experience with it goes up. Gsuranteed. Hope this helps.

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