Are Shotguns the Ultimate SHTF Firearm?

Are Shotguns the Ultimate Survival firearm? I’m gonna save you some time in case you don’t feel like reading the rest of this article: NO. I’m fully aware I may have just opened up a Pandora’s Box of Drew-hate, but I’m going to stand behind my statement. Are shotguns versatile? Yes. Are shotguns brutally effective within their envelope? Absolutely. Will I be heading out the door with a shotgun in hand as a primary firearm in a SHTF event? Nope.

By Drew, contributing author to SHTFblog and Survival Cache

I’m not just postulating out of my posterior here; I have spent many, many hours of my life with a shotgun (call it a “shotty” and we can’t be friends) in my hands. I have poured incredulous amounts of time, money, and brainpower into developing, building, training with, and testing “tactical” shotguns (I may have gone through an “I love shotguns” phase), but none of them truly honored their reputation as an all-around versatile arm very well. Conversely, many the aviary fowl has been blanked from the sky in a cloud of feathery down courtesy of my beloved bird hunting shotguns, but I would never clear a house with these long-barreled, elegant wonders. And the middle ground between the two scenarios – the “Goldilocks” zone of a single gun that’s just right for all your survival needs – is a no-man’s land with a chirping cricket soundtrack instead of the ominous sound of a racking pumpgun.

The Evolution of a Myth With a Dash of History

Thanks to Hollywood movies, Old West fables and rugged war tales, the shotgun has grown a mythical status and culture around its very existence and efficacy. The supposed badguy-launching power of the impact of a load of buckshot coupled with everyone’s favorite burglar deterrent – the “shick-shick” of a pump-action shotgun being readied for duty, and the shotgun’s legendary “just point in the general direction of your target and you’ll blast it” capability- means that everyone just knows the shotgun is the most devastating sidearm of all time. Right?

Also read: Cut Shotgun Shells for Survival

Well, pretty much all of that myth is, well, less than accurate. However, this storybook fable is indeed based on some fact. And though we could go back further in time, to find that fact we’re going to start in the Philippines, in the first year of the 20th century. The year 1900 found the fabled General John “Black Jack” Pershing’s troops fighting drug-addled Juramentados in the Philippine Insurrection. The Juramentados were Islamic fanatical sword-wielding Moro fighters, who trained and readied themselves to fight in ritualistic, drug-enhanced, pain-frenzied attacks with edged weapons, all the while fully expecting to be killed during the attack in an insane martyr jihad. Pershing’s troops were having difficulty stopping these brutal close-range attacks with their standard sidearms – Colt 1892 double-action revolvers in the anemic .38 Long Colt and the .30-40 Krag rifle. The fabled Colt 1874 Single Action Army (you may know it as the “Peacemaker”) in .45 Colt – and other .45 caliber revolvers – were brought into the mix, and the larger caliber was found to be far more effective against the Moro attacks. However, another platform gained notoriety as being a potent manstopper under these bizarre fighting circumstances. General Leonard Wood, who commanded the US Forces in the Philippines, stated:

“It is thought that the .45 caliber revolver is the one which should be issued to troops throughout the Army… Instances have repeatedly been reported during the past year where natives have been shot through-and-through several times with a .38 caliber revolver, and have come on, cutting up the unfortunate individual armed with it… The .45 caliber revolver stops a man in his tracks, usually knocking him down… It is also recommended that each company be furnished with 12-gauge Winchester repeating shotguns… There is no weapon in our possession equal to the shotgun loaded with buckshot.”

Winchester 1897 Trench Gun. Image from Rock Island Auctions.

Those “Winchester repeating shotguns” were the ubiquitous Winchester Model 1897 in short-barreled, open-choked form. These John Browning-designed pump-action shotguns became incredibly popular for instantly stopping Moro charges, and 200 specially modified 1897 shotguns were sent to the Philippines at the US Army’s request.

Fast forward 18 years. The US military has once again found embroiled in war – this time with “Black Jack” Pershing at the helm of the American Expeditionary Forces during a conflict that eventually became known as World War I. To maximize effectiveness in the brutal close-quarters combat of the trench warfare they found themselves in, Pershing had his “Doughboys” armed with specialized 1897 Winchester and Model 12 Winchester 12-gauge shotguns dubbed “Trench Guns”. These ‘97s and Model 12s held six rounds of brass-cased 00 buckshot, sported 20” barrels with heat shields, and had the capability to mount bayonets to keep fighting even when the shotgun ran dry – and that happened quickly. Both the ‘97 and the 12 had no trigger disconnectors and could “slam-fire”, which meant that as soon as the pump was racked fully forward while the trigger was held back, the hammer would fall on a freshly-loaded shell and the round would go off. Either model of Trench Gun could get off all six rounds – that’s a total of 54 .33-caliber 00 buckshot pellets – in about two seconds. Many a German soldier fell in the mud to the vicious effectiveness off the Trench Gun. Its remorseless close-in capability led to the German government issuing a statement that any US soldiers caught with shotguns or even shotgun shells would be summarily executed, as they believed the shotgun and its terminal effectiveness were inhumane and did not fall within the confines of the Hague Convention.

Ithaca M37 Trench Gun. Image from Rock Island Auctions.

Cascading further forward in history, during World War II and Vietnam, shotguns were vastly praised for their effectiveness in close quarters jungle fighting – and the shotgun continues to be a staple infantry weapon, once again for its effectiveness and versatility. In Somalia and Iraq, short-barreled, specially equipped shotguns were utilized for door breaching as well as close-range, door-to-door fighting. Shotguns are also utilized for riot control with less-than-lethal ammunition, and have been modified for line-throwing and grenade launching.

So, absolutely – the shotgun has a place, definite lethality, and versatility of mission – but does that mean that your shotgun is the be-all, end-all prepper/survivalist firearm as many have opined? Let’s dig in.

The How and Why of SHTF Shotguns

But where to start? And why am I dead set against not having a shotgun as a primary (meaning first choice) survival weapon? To understand these questions, we first need to understand what characteristics the shotgun platform has that make it so desirable for our target audience.

I guess I should stop here and qualify that my following statements are generated towards repeating shotguns of the ilk that most survivalists seem to gravitate towards – pump action and semi-autos. Of course, there are many multi-caliber break-open shotguns that are indeed stellar to depend on in a survival situation – if you’re out in the middle of the woods with zero security issues and plentiful small game. However, due to the next-to-nothing capacity and slow reload speed of these break-open wonderguns, I do not consider them to be all-around SHTF arms.

So, then, why is the repeating shotgun considered by many to be so desirable as a survival firearm – strike that – THE survival firearm? Here are the (forgive me) bullet points:

  • Ammunition versatility: the wide range of ammunition types available for the shotgun allow the operator to theoretically accomplish different missions. Typically, this includes buckshot for anti-personnel, anti-big game, and anti-light-skinned target use. Slugs for use against “distant” targets, where precision is needed, or for targets where penetration and/or more horsepower than what buckshot can provide are required. Birdshot in its many shot sizes will hopefully enable you to harvest small game and flying/fast-moving animals.
  • Mission versatility: utilizing the wide range of ammunition available for the shotgun platform, one man could – in theory – have one gun with the capability of performing any need a hand-held firearm might be called upon to do in a survival situation. We’re talking small game hunting to stopping charging SUVs and everything in between. Remember, though – this mission versatility is directly dependent on ammunition availability.
  • Horsepower: The shotgun – especially in its 12-gauge (or even 10 gauge if you’re feeling saucy) iteration brings big-bore power to the table and (again, in theory) levels the playing field with hard-hitting buckshot (usually 00 size) and slugs. The big hole in the muzzle and instantly-recognizable sound of a shotgun being operated theoretically ups the intimidation factor big time.
  • Reliability – shotguns by quality manufacturers have a general reputation of being extremely reliable in pump-action or break-open guise. Big, clunky parts to move big clunky ammo are, in theory, hard(er) to break.

A Victim of The Great Compromise

But what is the heart of my beef with the shotgun for a SHTF gun? Simple: undesirable compromise. The shotgun system is, by nature of its versatility, necessarily a compromise – it fulfills a lot of missions pretty well, but excels at none of them unless the shotgun is specifically built for an intent…and specifically building or accessorizing a shotgun for a dedicated purpose limits its versatility by definition.

For example: A vast majority of survivalists will lean towards a tactical-esque theme when selecting or building a shotgun to be a friend for the end of the world. Like AR-15 builds, a tactical pump-action or semi-auto shotgun’s specifics can vary widely, but a few common themes appear when you start looking. First and most noticeable, we notice short barrels, usually (but not always) with fixed cylinder bore chokes. Contrary to popular opinion, the short barrel doesn’t “open up the spread, bub!”, but merely functions to enhance the close-in handling qualities of an arm that has limited range to begin with. Extended magazines to increase the shotgun’s meager capacity will usually sprout under the stubby barrels. These hallmarks are where tactical shotguns start and often end…and honestly, at the basest level, what more do you really need to make a shotgun more useful?

However, the standard bead sights that are wonderful for sighting down on fast-moving birds start showing their limits when the shotgun’s prowess is asked to move out beyond the 25-30 yard buckshot envelope. A big bead sight starts to cover up even man-sized targets out past 40 yards, making the slugs that are necessary for anything close to a precision shot, well, imprecise. And here’s where the hallowed versatility of the shotgun system starts to break down.

Related: Stuff That Works – Remington’s Model 870 Shotgun

To get that big chunky slug to hit where you want it to at ranges where a bead sight is impractical, we need to – at the minimum – consider sight upgrades. And I have found that once we cross the sight upgrade line, our do-it-all rig suddenly becomes increasingly limited in function. Ghost ring aperture sights (or occasionally buckhorn type sights) are usually the first logical upgrade for the tactical shotgun to increase the probability of a hit at distance. Red dot sights and other optics are the next step beyond ghost rings. I have found through personal experience that adding dedicated sights does at least two things, both of which are detrimental to our end goal of keeping the shotgun for its versatility. First, the sheer mass of the already-beefy shotgun is increased – especially with the added bulk of optics. Second, the ability to use the shotgun for fast-moving game – something the shotgun excels at in its stock form – is hugely diminished. Trust me, it’s very difficult to align a rear sight, front sight, and a running rabbit (usually travelling at Warp Factor Four through dense brush) or a flushing grouse well enough to ensure a clean shot. 1x magnification optics can be okay for still game and foraging purposes, but again – you’re making a big gun bigger and harder to pack and have with you in the first place. The plain bead sight rules the roost for small game harvesting – but sucks at precise slug placement at distance. Sights make putting slugs in a specific spot easier, but really just aren’t great at getting on a small critter who is desperately performing evasive maneuvers. Your call – do you want a rifle or a shotgun?

Taking Up Space

Up next on my list is the sheer size of the ammunition for a shotgun. While the 20 gauge is increasingly appreciated for its efficiency and  slightly smaller size, the 12 gauge remains king of the prepper/survivalist community. The shotgun’s versatility hangs solely on the availability of the big plastic-hulled fodder that is a shotgun shell – and when we boil it all down, those beautiful lead-filled shells take up a ton of space. Yes, they are they key to the shotgun being the do-it-all arm, but once the ammo runs out you’ve got a paperweight that makes really intimidating mechanical sounds. That’s all folks. Better hope your scavenging skills are up to par so you can find more ammo; maybe it’ll even be the type you need.

To put things in perspective: In one .30-caliber steel GI ammo can, I can fit a quantity of ninety-five 2 ¾” 12-gauge shotgun shells, maybe 100 if I get creative. In that same ammo can, I can put well over 500 loose 5.56mm/.223 rounds, or 500+ 9mm rounds depending on packaging. Or, we can go crazy and put THOUSANDS of .22 Long Rifle cartridges in our ammo can. Granted, with a 20 gauge or even a .410 you can up your ammo can shotgun shell capacity, but I used the 12 gauge for our example due to its prevalence in the market. Keep in mind, though, that with diminished gauge comes diminished power – a .410 slug really doesn’t have any more power than a .357 Magnum fired from a handgun – so keep that fact in the back of your head for future consideration.

So while you’re looking at your ammo storage space and wondering how best to fit a ton of shotgun rounds on your shelf for long term storage, take a second and think about how much of that shotgun ammo you could carry on your person if you had to grab your favorite SHTF shotgun and head out the door, never to return to your ammo bunker again. You might have 5 to 8 shells in the magazine of the shotgun (a few more with a Kel-Tec KSG), but then what? My favorite method of holding shotgun shells at the ready – a drop pouch with loose ammo dumped in – will hold about 30, maybe 40 12-gauge shells when topped off to almost overflowing (and you’ll lose some if you have to run ‘cause that drop pouch is open-topped.) A nice, clunky shotgun shell bandolier sling will add 15 or so shells. You might have five or six more shells in a side-saddle carrier on the receiver of the gun. Even with your pockets crammed full of ammunition and a couple extra boxes of shells in your bug-out bag taking up too much room, you’re looking at 200 12-gauge shells. Maybe. And that 200 shells will weigh a ton and generate an organizational nightmare if you’re carrying a nice selection of birdshot, buckshot, and slugs (because a shotgun is versatile, right?). Better make sure you didn’t grab the go-bag with 3” shells if your gun will only handle 2 ¾” shells, too. And when you run out of ammo, you can lament the fact that you could have probably had a Ruger 10/22 Takedown with 1000 or more rounds PLUS an AR or AK with 180+ rounds in about the same amount of space it takes to store and feed your beloved tactical shotgun.

Oh, and have you trained with your shotgun? Can you top off that magazine quickly under duress? How about get rid of the birdshot and plunk a slug in the chamber while you’re running with an irate bear or feral hog making up the distance to your heels in an unnervingly speedy fashion? Can you reload your shotgun and run it with one hand? When your shotgun runs dry – and they DO tend to do that quickly – is it properly equipped with a sling to allow you to transition to a handgun and engage targets? Have you even tried to transition to a sidearm from a long gun before? Do you know where those big slugs will impact a target at 50 yards? 75? How about 100 yards? That’s why you put those sights on, isn’t it? A shotgun slug has a trajectory like a rainbow and WILL drop quickly, trust me. And it’s probably not going to be really that accurate anyway without a rifled barrel – but rifled barrels suck with shot loads. Have you trained through the significant recoil that defensive shotgun loads present and how to counter that with proper stance and handling? Have you realized that a shot load still needs to be aimed with precision to be effective, not just pointed from the hip in the vague direction of your target?

The damage has been done.

You see, there’s a lot more going on with a shotgun than meets the eye – and solving the issues and preparing yourself to use a shotgun in a SHTF scenario takes skill and practice – hopefully not acquired on the job while a catastrophe is happening. This skill set is more involved and requires more forethought, organization, and constant practice to master – it’s a commitment to your commitment to use the shotgun as a SHTF arm. And that commitment means compromise – a gun that really isn’t great at everything, just necessarily adapted for a purpose (like anything else) and eating up really big, expensive, hard-to-store ammo – for really not much return on investment in the survival world when you play the scenario through.

So, while I have indeed trained and used a shotgun with the mindset and forethought that it might be a perfect survival gun, I’ve simply found through my own experiences that the shotgun falls flat on its face when you ask it to do too much. Personally, I have decided to keep my shotguns for use inside their envelope – call it 35 yards or less – and maximize their strengths for that distance with bead sights, a tough weapon-mounted light, and a large payload of 00 buckshot. Home defense and close-range use is where a shotgun shines – don’t try to make a Ferrari out of a Ford. I tend to use a .22 LR or a shotgun that was built for small-game hunting for foraging purposes when I go out, and if I ever find myself in an INCH situation, an AR-15 with a .22 LR conversion kit will fill most of the needs I expect to encounter.

Sorry, shotgun. I tried hard to make it work between us, I really did. But it’s not me…it’s you.


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28 comments… add one
  • PAUL DODD February 21, 2019, 6:25 pm

    You have not utilized the weapon to its potential. Buckshot of any size is useless. Use slugs travelling at 1600 fps and the entire dynamic changes. They will go through 2 or 3 targets and that makes a big difference. If you can stop five or six in a crowd then the entire crowd will stop.

  • Drew February 21, 2019, 6:41 pm

    By that same token, so will a 168-grain .308 bullet. So why make a shotgun try to do something a rifle can do? Especially when you can carry probably 15 or 20 .308 rounds in the same space taken up by five 12 gauge rounds. I’d rather just carry an AR-10 or SOCOM at that point.

    • revjen45 April 2, 2019, 12:13 pm

      Not to mention that a 7.62×51 FMJ will go thru multiple recipients, so a 20 rd. mag would render more than 20 people hors de combat.

  • Doc Montana February 21, 2019, 7:39 pm

    I agree with you Drew. I have tried numerous times to shove a square shotgun into my round SHTF kit, and just couldn’t make it work. The old blunderbuss was great when it was the only option, but today we have far better choices that cover vastly more scenarios.

    Shotguns have their place. But not every place is in a SHTF-ready situation. Those who survive can see through the hype and work with the facts. And the shotgun, no matter how good, falls short on more levels than it excels at.

    (sorry to end a sentence with a preposition, but sacrifices do need to be made in trying times such as these)

  • Mechanic February 22, 2019, 7:09 pm

    Survival, shotgun scores pretty high in my book. Take birds-bears and fed off 2 legged critters.

    SHTF if it’s over here shotgun please. Over there, rifle for sure.

  • Roger Jensen February 23, 2019, 2:54 am

    What about barrel inserts in many available calibers? If you’re scrounging for ammo, you have a lot more choices with just a few common caliber inserts. Personally, I think a semi-auto .308 rifle with a shorty 12 gauge attached (mag-fed, of course) and a .22LR insert is the closest to a perfect SHTF firearm! GLAHP!

    • Drew February 23, 2019, 9:56 am

      Roger, I’ve messed with chamber inserts for shotguns extensively, and there’s a few reasons I didn’t even mention them in this article. First, they’re not light – they’re steel – and they add even more to the payload you’re already carrying to feed your shotgun. Second, the adapters that are shotgun-shell sized don’t feed through the action of a repeating shotgun reliably and are best suited for break-open type shotgun – which I specifically excluded from this article, as I mentioned. Third, They’re not efficient – the shotgun shell sized adapters offer maybe an inch and a half of unrifled “barrel” – so you’re not even getting pistol velocities out of any calibers you shoot out of the adapters. The adapters that incorporate O-rings and longer barrels with rifling are indeed better-performing, but they are absolutely relegated to break-open shotguns only due to their length. Fourth, the adapters require yet another caliber to carry with you and inventory, store, and organize along with the three our four different types of shotgun ammunition you need to carry along with your shotgun to max out its versatility. Fifth, they rarely shoot to the same point of aim as the shotgun and they offer about the same practical range as the shotgun itself – 35-40 yards in my experience.

      So while the shotgun chamber adapter is a great thing to brag about at the prepper bench racing table, in actual use they don’t live up to the hype.

      What, no chainsaw bayonet on your perfect SHTF firearm?

  • sirlancelot February 23, 2019, 3:17 pm

    Shotguns were part of the LE armory for years. Having trained with one in conjunction with a sidearm never felt under gunned.

    Of course nowadays most have been phased out. Although on occasion you will find one sitting in a cruiser. The young kids and women always complain of the recoil. This is mostly attributed to not holding it properly.

    Believe it or not shooting a few rounds of trap or skeet can make a lot of difference. That being said will concede to its weight, low capacity and bulky ammunition ( when compared to the AR-15 )

    Then again say something like a Mossberg 930 ( Short stroked my pump gun hunting once and have been a believer of semi-auto ever since )

    With a tactical chest rig and trustee sidearm the shotgun would still make a formidable shtf loadout. This might be all someone has living in a hostel , anti-second Amendment area. Run what you brung ,train ,train ,train.

    P.S.If you choose to go a non-conventional designed like the Kel-Tec KSG then get very very familiar with its nomenclature.

    After training on traditional shotguns a non-traditional design can be dangerous.

    Be safe out there :-)

    • revjen45 April 2, 2019, 12:17 pm

      The Snohomish County Sheriff went to carbines because a shotgun can be expected to put projectiles into something other than the intended recipient. They may still shotguns, but they for sure do have carbines.

  • Rich March 8, 2019, 4:37 pm


    Your article was well-reasoned but the person armed with a shotgun is well-armed for an SHTF environment.

    They can use bird shot to harvest game birds and small game; use rifled slugs to harvest big game; and can use the two shells listed above, as well as buckshot to dissuade bad guys.

    One can likely find shotgun rounds in more places than one can find .223/5.56 ammo (think little towns like Newell, SD), so they are more likely able to forage/barter for additional ammo in a grid down type scenario than the person armed with a specific rifle caliber.

    The shotgun may not be the ultimate SHTF weapon but they are closer than the AR/AK variants, as the SHTF environment will be less gunfights and more food procurement efforts.

    Very respectfully,


    • Stuart April 2, 2019, 5:28 pm

      Rich, if you’re looking for ammo after the SHTF – you ain’t gonna make it.

  • Bill Randall March 12, 2019, 9:29 pm

    shotguns suck for shtf. Wt HELL makes you “think” that people wont attack you from cover, at 100m or more, where the shotgun is worthless? why make all that noise to take a small critter and then be so ineffectual when every looter within a mile comes to kill you> There’s no effective silencer or flashhider for a 12 ga. You can’t carry more than one longarm and the neede 30 lbs of other gear, along with enough ammo to make both longarms worth having. You can’t get game or looters to wait while you go get “the right gun for the job”. A silenced M4, with a .22lr conversion unit, Aquila 60 gr subsonic .22’s, is BB gun quiet if you know to use your off hand to hold shut the .22 bolt. The game will all be gone 2 months after shtf, and the shotgun aint worth a hoot for combat. The thing to do, if shtf, is use the silenced .22 to take cattle or horses at night, one every few days, cut off and move a hindquarter a mile or so, jerk the meat, get it into pre-buried drums. Steal some grain to go with it, hole up for at least 6 months, coming out only at night. Then use sprouts for food, planting root veggies which will feed you in a few months. By then, nearly everyone will be dead.

  • Bill Randall March 12, 2019, 9:38 pm

    a gun for which you have no more ammo is just a club. If shtf, birds short of at least goose-size, will not be WORTH a shotshell. Trap them instead, or take them with a .22lr conversion unit, or just have a silenced .22lr autorifle as your longarm, period. You wont be carrying more than 75 12 ga shells. How many will be birdshot, buck and slugs? if you say 40 slugs, would you be comfortable with just 40 rds of rifle ammo? if not, why accept that few 12 ga slugs

  • Bill Randall March 12, 2019, 9:48 pm

    $1 per shot for buckshot and slugs. 30c for 223, 6c for .22lr, which will you practice with 10x as much, hmm? With the silencer, full charge 223’s are every BIT as “tame” to use as the .22 unit is without the silencer. so .22lr practice WILL equal skill with the 223, for snapshooting to 75m or so. The 10.5″ barreled AR, 1 in9″ rifling twist, is what you want, cause you can take it down to conceal it in a pack, grocery sack, gym bag, attache case, in 5 seconds, reassembe it to fire in 10 seconds. The caliber swap can be done in 10 seconds, 20 seconds if you need to be stealthy. Keep the gun in 223 “mode” until you have good reason to make it into a .22lr. After you use the .22, immediately swap back to 223. If you need the gun swiftly, it’s more likely that you’ll need the power,, penetration and range of the 223. The .22lr can brain men, dogs, or deer to 50m, so it’s not a joke, and it beats the hell out of a shotgun for which you have no ammo (or only have 5 rds and 4-5 enemies show up to check out your first stupid blast, fired at a rabbit. Birds all land, animals stop running. You’ll be living out there with them, so you’ll get more chances. you can use snares, steel traps, trotlines, netting, jacklighting, night vision, baiting.

  • Bill Randall March 12, 2019, 9:54 pm

    no way that you can be sure of accessing your caches (in time) to get more ammo, so best have a considerable amount with you, as in 90 rds of 223 and 100 rds of .22lr. That’s just 4 lbs. Same as 40 12 ga shells. Need a scope in a see thru mount, and luminous iron sights. This gun, with a trigger job, anti-cant bubble level on the scope, free float tube, GI bipod and 69 gr hpbt match ammo will snipe effectively to 1/4 mile. 3x what’s feasible with a 12 ga and slugs, even if you DO have a scope, cause the slugs drop like rocks and drift in the wind like a balloon. 12 ga wont pierce concealable armor, 223 softpoints WILL (easily) buckshot wont even reliably pierce a tire that’s being used as cover.

  • Bill Randall March 12, 2019, 9:59 pm

    shotgun’s just for sport shooting. It’s a toy, basically. Around your home, it’s MANY times more likely that you wont GET to a longarm (in time) than it is that the handgun wont suffice. Normally, just the sight of your pistol being pointed at them makes attackers flee. MISSES have changed a lot of minds, too. You’ll be absorbing 4 shots, stabs, slashes per second in the 10 seconds it will take you to go get ANY gun. You’ll be lucky if you have the 1 second needed to make a ccw draw. You dont answer the door with shotgun in hand, take out the garbage or pets with the shotgun, play with the kids in the yard, or mow the lawn, work on the car, get the mail, etc 12 ga slung over your shoulder. But you can do all those things, VERY easily and safely, with a 1 lb micro 9mm in a front pants pocket holster. It looks like a wallet there, in a decent Kydex plastic holster.

  • Bill Randall March 12, 2019, 10:10 pm

    if the guy aint shooting you for the 10 seconds+ needed to go get a gun, why do you need a gun? in 10 seconds, you can charge 50 yds and break his neck. Wt HELL makes you “think” an attacker is going to give you the time to run and get ANY gun, hmm? you’re 4x more likely to be attacked when you’re not at home than when you’re esconsced in your castle.

  • Bill Randall March 12, 2019, 10:22 pm

    if shtf, nothing will stop 50 million mexicans, etc, from moving up here. There’s only about 4 million sq miles in the lower 48 states and well over half of it is urban, desert, barren mountains, near useless dry prairie. So figure 280 million people, after subtracting the elderly and little kids, divided into 2 million sq miles. a one mile radius (noise from your blast) has 3.14 sq miles in that circle. So, on average, 2 dozen people will hear each shot that you fire with a 12 ga, and it could easily be 10x that many. They can easily run 3/4 mile in 8 minutes, even with a combat-loadout, then sneak 1/4 mile in no more time than that. So you wont last long without a suppressed autorifle. and enough sense to stay underground during daylight hours. The viet cong lived in tunnels for 30 years. So you can tolerate it for a year. By then, 99% of the population will be dead, making it much safer to be out and about in daylight, for a bit of scrounging stuff and tending small, scattered, well-hidden plots of sprouts and root-veggies.

  • Bill Randall March 13, 2019, 8:20 am

    you can’t run and gun with more than about 40 lbs of stuff on you. If you choose a 7.5 lb shotgun and 7.5 lbs of shells for that 12 ga, that’s 15 lbs. I can have an AR, scope, silencer, .22 unit, pistol, 14 rds of 9mm, 50 rds each of 223 and .22lr, 12 lb total. 3 lbs of concealable armor r night vision is MUCH more likely to make a difference than a buckshot pattern, or hitting small birds in the air! :-) In one second flat, I can go from the high ready position and hit a cover using head at 25 yds with the AR. You are no faster with buckshot and you make a tone of noise. You have no pistol, no way to conceal the shotgun in your pack, no ability to use it with just one arm, no ability to use the most commonly available rds. A shotgun is a horrific handicap for shtf. If you can’t see that, there’s no hope for you.

  • The Old Hand April 2, 2019, 4:24 pm

    A bolt action 30-06 and a ghilly suit is all I need to take everything you own…starting with your life. But that is beside the point. The REAL point is that no one knows what any given SHTF scenario will bring. We ALL own more than one gun because we all KNOW there is no magic gun that does it all. One biological attack or a neutron bomb will negate any prepping you do.

    The best prepping advice you’ll ever get is this: Get right with God and accept the fact that you ARE going to die at some point. There are FAR more things in this life that will always be out of your control than there are events which you have influence over. To think otherwise is a fool’s errand.

    If you stand and fight…you die.
    If you run…you die.
    If you surrender…you’ll either die…or wish you were dead.

    Granted, I have no idea what sort of apocalyptic nightmare each of you is prepping for, but let’s not delude ourselves. We are ALL going to die. All the weapons in the world won’t prevent that…and in some circumstances they may even hasten the event.

    Happy trails, pilgrims!

    • David Kent September 29, 2019, 9:15 pm

      The wisest, most informed and most truthful of all these comments.!

  • Stuart April 2, 2019, 5:24 pm

    The most important thing about any firearm choice is PRACTICE.

    So, take your pump 12 ga. through one of Gunsite’s run & gun courses (260 series) and consider your level of pain after the second day and ONLY 100 rounds. (On the AR carbine course you will shoot 1500 rounds over 5 days – no problem). Depending on the class there is at least one more day to go. What fun practice is!

    Get back to us on your choice for a full time SHTF combat survival weapon.

    Choose wisely.

  • Montana Guy April 3, 2019, 8:28 am

    Let be realistic, shotguns are not sexy today. Our GI’s didn’t care. They worked at close quarters. In Schumer HTF, lots of bad guys will be wearing body armor. One 00 pellet in the face or foot will take most out-of-play until you implement Plan B.

  • Kerry Jackson April 6, 2019, 2:18 pm

    I have all of the “sexy” 21st century stuff (nuff said) and I am ready to defend my home and family. I am also ready to adequately arm my family members who show up at my home in the event of shtf (this is our plan, I do not live in or near “Babylon” but my sons and their families do). But when something goes bump in the night, I will reach past a pistol or a battle rifle and grab my 870 riot shotgun 1st and always. Even “Bigfoot” won’t be a match for buckshot. Us old people are like that. I rifle will produce ” Brutal”, a shotgun will produce “gruesome”, I am a fan of the latter.

  • Ted May 16, 2019, 2:41 pm

    Shotgun for home defense and hunting in Eastern Woodlands. In those combined roles, I think its immune from the criticisms of the article.

    If you anticipate running gun battles with high rates of fire, then forget the shotgun.

    If you need to engage a target past 50 meters (be it for food or defense), then forget the shotgun.

    If you need to hump hundreds of rounds of ammo over terrain, then forget the shotgun.

    But….if you have a homestead (especially in the Eastern Woodlands), get a shotgun.

    If you live in the city or burbs and need to discourage looters and home invasions, get a shotgun.

    If you live in a gun-grabber state. get a shotgun.

    If you need to hunt for sustenance, get a shotgun.

    The idea of “only one ultimate choice” for SHTF is a myth, as is the lone wolf scenario. For SHTF bugout, you need a fireteam, with different weapons for different roles.

    For SHTF bug-in, you can comfortably have your shotgun, longer-range rifle, and quieter .22

    If I HAD TO bug out for the long-term, with only one long-gun and one sidearm, I’m taking my little bolt-action .22 and .357 revolver.

    Everything is a compromise.

  • headhunter June 12, 2019, 4:16 pm

    During his second tour in Afghanistan a friend (MSMC officer) was issued a Benelli bird gun. His call was on the order of “- – – no time gun issued up to my eyeballs in work can you find something for me to carry ammo?”. Knowing he’d be strapping his Baretta in an old tanker’s holster and be wearing a vest, options were limited. The local gun shop had one of the new receiver side mounts. it was a done deal. He also was shipped a WW II webbed rifle magazine belt. It worked well.
    The local sheriff’s department issued #4 buck for summer use and 00 Buck for winter when people wear heavier clothing.
    If you are considering spread , the best rule is 1″ per yard. Remember shotguns are patterned at 30 yds. using a 30″ circle. So if your room is 20′ across expect about a 7″ circle. For my own shotguns with a receiver mounted scope my 1100 imp.cyl. will keep standard slugs in a 4″ circle at 75 yards. My 870 with a rifled slug barrel will keep sabots (Rem. copper solids) in a 3″ circle at 100 yds.

  • TotalNewb123 December 6, 2019, 9:49 pm

    It seems that a majority of people on the comments must live in open rural areas. I live in a suburban/city environment and I can tell you this that NO ONE is shooting you from x amount of yards, miles, light years away. I’m in the upper poor class (that’s means I’m working two minimum wage jobs) and I’m not dumping a ton a cash on a AR-15 (unless you guys wanna start a go fund me) but in all seriousness I’d rather use a shotgun because of the up close in personal environment of the suburban/city’s. My plan focuses on mostly working with neighbors and stocking up on supplies now because EVERYBODY thinks they’re going to be a hunter and score a BIG FAT DEER and bring home the bacon or venison to be clear. My plan also is to have a evade and defend tactic (I didn’t want to use that word but it’s too late) which will keep us out of sight and out of mind but because living in this type of area we can take advantage of the the thick and tall brick buildings which will give us an advantage against any hostile people. It is this type of setting a shotgun will thrive in better the most close tight quarters where we can funnel any marauders. Not to sound ignorant but I don’t care how many AR’s someone has they’re not shooting through an entire brick building with other people shooting back at them. If you live in a rural in the middle of America with an AR then God speed but me in the inner city I’ll stick to Ye Olde BOOM-STICK.

  • Chris February 21, 2020, 10:08 am

    You do know the Americans did awful things in the Philippine–American war, right? You supporting them baffles me.


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