Is A Survival Shotgun An Ideal Weapon If A Major Disaster Strikes?

First order of business is the winner of the Lifestraw…

Congrats to Linda R!  Shoot me an email at and I’ll get that sent right out to you!


Today’s post comes to us from Joel Johnson.  He’s got some good thoughts on using a shotgun as a survival tool.  Check him out…


When order fails and chaos takes over, will you be ready to deal with the potential disaster? Few things matter more than being prepared when emergencies strike with self-defense supplies at the top of your survival list. Choosing a survival shotgun could be your ultimate defense tool, but requires careful consideration before purchase. Asking yourself, “will I be able to handle shotgun operation?” or, “am I choosing the most versatile everyday shotgun?” are imminent questions when deciding whether


 or not adding a survival shotgun to your arsenal is appropriate.

Top Considerations To Ask Yourself Before Purchasing A Survival Shotgun

1. How many shotguns should each household have?The simple answer is to choose several guns for each adult in the household. Having several guns for your family and backups can protect you from any unforeseen circumstances or in the event one backfires, doesn’t load properly or is otherwise compromised. When planning, consider size of your bug-out bag as well. Can it fit several guns and appropriate ammunitions? offers myriad resources such as The ATF National Firearms Act Handbook discussing how to troubleshoot shotgun selection.

2. Have you considered maintenance involved with shotguns? If you don’t hunt or sport shoot, chances are your gun may be sitting stored for a long time. If the emergent occasion does however arise, you want to be sure all parts are still in satisfactory working condition. A major consideration is whether your rubber seal is still intact. Stocking up on seals, o-rings, cleaning devices and other supplies can help you avoid a malfunction.

3. Will all adults in the household be able to handle the shotgun? If you’re only able to choose one gun for the entire household, choose wisely. If you are planning to rely on somebody else for protection or hunt for food in an emergency, be sure that person can handle operation of the shotgun you choose. Firearms experts suggest a 12 guage, but if the recoil is too intense, a 20 guage is more ideal. The American Prepper‘s Network experts suggest staying with either a 12 or 20 guage, anything smaller limits versatility.

4. Is your shotgun selection practical and versatile for everyday use? The Remington 870 is an excellent all-purpose shotgun to test for personal fit- this model is an American favorite because of its durability, ease of maintenance and versatility. This shotgun is versatile because it uses different types of loads such as the powerful buckshot in emergency situations as well as slugs to penetrate large mammals as well as through body armor. The shotgun also loads with birdshot— less effective at self-defense, but ideal for hunting smaller game. To prepare for a real-life survival situation, you can easily train with this shotgun by taking lessons shooting trap or through a self-defense class. An 18 or 18-1/2 inch standard pump barrel shotgun also offers versatility over semi-auto shotguns in both price and accuracy for someone new to shooting. Semi-auto shotguns are far more sensitive when shooting and require more maintenance and cleaning to prevent jamming, making them less ideal for a survival shotgun.

Bio:  Joel is a military veteran with 8 years of service and spent over 39 months deployed to Iraq. He used the skills that he learned in the infantry to prepare for what is coming. He is a father with a love for football and his children.

21 comments… add one
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. October 11, 2013, 8:36 am

    Good post. I would add one point to consider for point 3 (anything smaller limits versatility).

    Smaller gauges are much harder to find in shops and when you do, the price is pretty high, sometime double the cost of the 12 / 20. But for FORAGING, the smaller shotgun has some benefits. For one, shooting at game on the run or wing will become much less common because of the limited amount of ammunition. ‘Pot Shots’ (shooting at perched / still game) will become very common and a shotgun will do A LOT of damage to the meat because of the amount of shot. The smaller gauges use less shot – less damage. Velocity is pretty the same as the larger.

    Another point – reloading the smaller gauge will extend the amount of shot used. The .410 uses about 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of the 12 for example – that is important in long term.

    Last point point – the frail elderly will have problems shooting the big guns, recoil and weight issues. A smaller framed .410 would be much more comfortable for them to use.

    All I’m saying is having at least one smaller gauge would be useful to keep around.

    • Firestar October 11, 2013, 10:15 am

      I agree that the 410 is a viable option. It’s great for small game hunting and doesn’t make as much noise when fired. This may be an advantage when in a SHTF situation. You can also by 41 caliber ball ammo for a 410. It pretty much shoots like a rifle up to reasonable ranges. For those of you who want to combine pistols and rifles the JUDGE is 410 caliber. And if you really want to set it off right they make rifle with a 6 shot cylinder that shoots 410 ammo.

      • Badger359 October 11, 2013, 2:02 pm

        Man, I can just imagine the look on a bad guys face if he saw one of these, thinking it’s a forty and then a .410 barks in stead, like hand held ARTILLERY, with about a 2 foot ball of flame OMG!! I crapped my drawers.

        • Brian_427 October 16, 2013, 1:21 am

          Badger, you have no idea… I have the Taurus Public Defender, first 3 rounds are the .410 Winchester PDX-1. Think 3 copper plated discs flying at you side-ways followed by 12 bb caliber pellets each time you drop the hammer. The last 2 are .45 colt PDX-1 rounds just in case. Recoil isn’t bad, for a .410 snub nose revolver anyway. Holding off on the carbine. Rumor is they are making 1 to match the raging judge, which chambers .410, .45 colt and .454 casul. How would that be for a multipurpose rifle?

    • LJB October 16, 2013, 6:21 pm

      I love my Bennelli M-4 combat shotgun

  • JAS October 11, 2013, 11:27 am

    Great article. Shotguns make great SHTF weapons, especially in close quarters. A couple of suggestions. Get all of your shotguns the same, even if different gauges. I have all Remington 870s and most of the small parts are the same, even between gauges. I then had my local gunsmith order me a spare of each spring, pin and clip for each gauge. Learn to disassemble and reassemble your guns completely, so you can replace broken parts.

  • Ray October 11, 2013, 12:50 pm

    I know J.R. down in Texas has said this but it bares repeating, A “gun virgin” cannot beat a single shot break open weapon as a “first timer.” It gives the maximum in reliability, ease of cleaning and the shortest “new guy” learning curve. For most like me it was the first weapon I ever shot (Kennedy was president) I know they aren’t “sexy” , but I have one built in 1930 that works as good right now as anything I own

    • Badger359 October 11, 2013, 1:58 pm

      Ray: I have a couple of singles to, still love them.

    • Badger359 October 11, 2013, 2:04 pm

      Also a single make a good poor mans (Blooper).

  • Badger359 October 11, 2013, 1:48 pm

    Awesome article and comments, I never tire of this stuff. Many read this can gain knowledge from so many people, helps them make there decisions more accurately. Donald Rumsfeld once said “You go to war with what you have, not what you want”. For anyone looking to learn something from from these articles and comments, remember this (Now is the time to make your preps not after)

    The people here have life skills in these areas and some with military, LE, First Responders, Homesteaders etc. Each to a degree have walked through the life’s mine field. We have left a route through for you to walk if you wish, I’d prefer you to run and learn in quick time, what we learned over the years. We are not bragging, We just other good people to wake up and stay alive, because we actually give a crap our neighbors and this country

  • Novice October 11, 2013, 1:53 pm

    I chose a 20 ga for the exact reason Joel states. If the chips are down I want my wife and kids to be able to use it as well.

  • Badger359 October 11, 2013, 1:56 pm

    My wife cant shoot much more then a .22lr lol.

    • smokechecktim October 11, 2013, 4:36 pm

      my wife weights in at 100 lbs.( if you soak her overnight) Bought her a Rossi youth 410 and she did just fine. I know some people dont like it but I load home defense rounds in it. Look them up. They arent as sexy as double 00, but in a regular house the pattern works well. More importantly she is able to shoulder and fire it with accuracy.

      • Badger359 October 11, 2013, 4:55 pm

        I will that some thought.

        • smokechecktim October 12, 2013, 12:53 pm

          If you buy the rossi be sure to get the whole kit. Some dealers short you by providing only the 410 barrel. The original kit come with two barrels, 410 and .22.

          • Az Dave October 12, 2013, 11:50 pm

            Walmart is one of the few sellers that sell the matched pairs that I have found lately. Btw great guns and fun. They were originally purchased for my boys but now they are one of my favorites. 5″ group at 100 yards with slugs and smooth bore can’t be beat. Rossi also makes a 20 gauge youth but they are quite a bit heavier due to the frame size. Keep up the good work.

  • Steve suffering in NJ October 11, 2013, 3:28 pm

    My 870 has been 100 percent reliable. I can think of better options per a specific task. As a one gun solution, I think it’s probably the best option. Wouldn’t look down my nose at a good double barrel either.

  • irishdutchuncle October 12, 2013, 4:37 am

    you make a good case for the shotgun. Road Warrior makes a good case for the revolver. Ray makes a good case for blackpowder.
    being prepared is a serious expense. the consequences of being
    un-prepared, however are dead serious. I’ll take all of the above, plus a bolt action in .22lr.

    • irishdutchuncle October 14, 2013, 1:07 am

      …anyway, I can’t afford a dedicated “survival shotgun”, right now.
      one of the smaller rifle/shotgun combinations would probably be best for that, though. (20 guage maximum)
      I should have bought that first, instead of the 10-22.
      (which is great fun to plink with, but not legal for hunting in PA )
      still, I’m more of an armchair survivalist. my gut is telling me I need a self defense battery, that I could also hunt with.

  • douglas October 14, 2013, 2:35 am

    Here is a re-post of my comment on the last “shotguns for preppers” article, with a follow up below.
    Its been proven by military research that hit probability is higher with a shotgun by all levels of shooters. I have the same results despite being a rifle shooter since childhood and former infantry for a dozen years.
    The drawbacks are weight of ammo, speed of reloads, and effective range. Brenneke type slugs can extend range to 100 meters if you have good sights or optics and zero the weapon at 50 meters.
    practice can greatly help reload skills.
    If I had to choose just one firearm its hard to choose between a .308 battle rifle and a ghost ring sighted 9 round pump 12ga.
    but I’m over 6′ and nearly 200lbs.
    But if i were advising a group on a single survivalist arm, both home and ranch defense, possible offense,and hunting, factoring in cost of ammo, training and (low)skill set, and reliability, recoil, and effective range and fire power, any of the AK-47 variants in 7.62×39 would be my advice, not the 12ga. the 12ga would be the 3rd gun for a survivalist group (after buying at least 2 AKs and 2000 rounds of ammo), but the 12ga is definitely a 1st rate gun for the any home defense scenario, and my very 1st late night “what was that noise honey?” choice. A handgun is just there for polite concealed carry, and/or if needed to fight your way back to a rifle, yours or the enemies. The .308 is in the safe, in a silicon oil gun sock, but the 12ga, right by my bed, loaded.
    So after I posted this I went back out to a place we go shooting and set up my gun-and run course. I set up the course over 100 meters of uphill terrain with sparce cover vegetation and rocky outcroppings outcroppings I then ran the course twice with 25 rounds of 12 ga fed into two 12ga, a WWII Army issue Riot Remington Model 11 (auto 5 clone semi, 20bbl) and a mossberg 590A1, 20bbl 8 +1 round. I ran two loads of 5 shells through the model 11 with the 590 slung, then discarded the mod 11 and transitioned to the 590.
    Observations, 4+1 in the mod 11 on semi goes by really quick! Also the loading gate and button are a handicap compared to reloading the 590. Even 9 rounds goes by fast when presented with multiple targets at various distances and needing to close terrain and eliminate targets. The other alarming aspect of drill was the possibility being caught in the open or having to reload when there were still target up, in sight and in range.
    after my infantry years, trying to shoot an maneuver like an infantry man even with two loaded shotguns, I saw a fallacy of the plan. Yes i can hit targets with the 12ga, but not at the range someone with a rifle can hit me, and I cannot lay down the volume of suppressive fire that i can with a semi auto rifle with a full capacity magazine. A shotgun is still an awesome home defense tool, close in too for heavy vegetated areas, but don’t fool yourself to think you can stand a chance against multiple riflemen with a tub fed 12ga. maybe from a solid covered position and with a drum fed saiga.
    Testing penetration of two rounds I like after was a amazing, I brough one box each of Hornady Superperformance 12ga buck, 00 8 pellet 1600 fps with a special wad for tight groups. From 10 yards this round enters a stump as a fist size cluster, all one hole and exits over 14″ later the size of a saucer, and keeps going who knows where. The winchester PDX1 combo load of slug and 3 buckshot at 1150 fps was my other experiment. this one the slug and 3 buck make individual holes, the buck ends up somewhere in the stump but the slug bore right through, exits just a little larger than enters.
    Both wicked rounds I would feel confident to defend hearth and home. But if I had to bug out, and could encounter bad guys somewhere unknown, I’ll break down and pack the shotgun, and carry the .308 battle rifle, and have one drum mag as the first one in the line of duty.

  • Kristopher April 2, 2017, 9:28 am

    Awesome Post ! Thank you for sharing


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