Gun Stuff: Shotguns For Defense and Survival

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If you’re selecting one or more firearms to include in your bug-out bag, a suitable shotgun is just about indispensable. Okay, what constitutes “suitable” in a shotgun?

When “the balloon goes up,” “SHTF,” zombie apocalypse, whatever, you need a firearm for what the army calls close quarters battle (CQB). For this purpose, there is no better weapon than a shotgun, preferably a 12-gauge with a high capacity magazine.

The Savage Model 24 offers you the choice of a .410 bore shotgun for defense and larger game or a .22 long rifle barrel for small game.

Your bug-out shotgun should also be useful for hunting birds and other small game to supplement your food supply in case you need to live off the land for a while. A good choice in my view is a moderately-priced semi-auto, such as the Mossberg Model 930 Tactical, which has an eight-shot tubular magazine and a low-maintenance synthetic stock.

Many experts would argue that a pump-action is a better choice because it’s more reliable, almost as fast, and its intimidating shuck-shuck late at night can make an assailant wet his pants. However, even a double-barrel scatter gun is a formidable defensive weapon if you need to repel boarders.

You should also give some thought your ammo supply if you find yourself in a long-term survival situation. Twelve-gauge ammo will probably be the easiest to find, but it takes up a lot of storage space. Most smaller gauge ammo will take up less space, but may be harder to find if you run out.

An exception might be .410 bore shells, which take up very little space and are almost as widely available as 12-gauge ammo.

Don’t sell the .410 short as a defensive choice, either. Federal’s quarter-ounce .410 rifled slug launches at a sizzling 1,775 fps and 761 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. This is nearly 600 fps faster than Federal’s 9mm Luger factory load with a 115-grain bullet—and more than twice the muzzle energy of the 9mm.

The Mossberg Model 930 Tactical shotgun delivered one-ounce rifled slugs to point of aim at 10 yards.

A light-weight, pump-action .410 such as the Mossberg 500E holds six shells and is moderately priced at an MSRP under $500. At the other end of the .410 spectrum is the classic Savage Model 24, which combines a .22 long rifle upper barrel and a .410 bore lower barrel. It can deliver 761 ft/lbs of misery to an assailant in a pinch. It will also put venison on the table, with the option of the .22 long rifle for use on small game up to 50 yards, or so.

I took all three guns to a local range to assess how effective they are for home defense. I fired all three at 10 yards (off-hand), and all three delivered rifled slugs within about a three-inch group right where I pointed them.

Double-aught 12-gauge loads printed their nine-pellets in exactly the same place. Buck shot loads in the Mossberg .410 placed three 000 pellets about three inches high, and the Savage printed about four inches low.

At this range, all three shotguns produced good results. Up to 100 yards or so, rifled slugs should still be effective, but beyond that, I’d feel much more confident with a “suitable” rifle.

Story by Stan Skinner

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