Before I begin this list, I have to make a disclaimer. I am a gun guy. I like AK-47s, AR-15s, M1As, and just about anything that will take a BIG magazine and send lots of hot lead down range as fast as I can pull the trigger.
I like tactical toys like chest rigs with a gazillion magazine pouches riding over a plate carrier, I like ‘em with an integrated pistol belt that holds a large frame semi-automatic pistol and even more magazine pouches. I like these things a lot, and I can envision a time when all of this might come in handy, but for the moment it’s just FUN!
I sometimes get frustrated with the “Totally Tactical” Survivalists. You know the ones. They spend all their prepping/survival time and money on guns, ammo and paramilitary gear and treat food, water and self-sufficiency as a distant second. Make no mistake folks: Your first priority for preps should be securing your food and water supply, making your home capable of sustaining you and yours through whatever may come. If you haven’t covered these bases, you really don’t have anything to defend.
However, there are some guns that should come fairly early on in your preparedness journey, and that is today’s topic.
The first weapon I always recommend is a good shotgun. With the wide range of loads available the shotgun is probably the most versatile hunting weapon ever devised. With a good shotgun you can hunt pigeons, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, deer and wild boar. You can also take opossums, raccoons, fox, and coyotes that may threaten your livestock. It is also effective against crows, gophers and all manner of critters that might get into your garden or orchard. Finally, the shotgun is an incredibly formidable home defense weapon.
Shotguns come in several forms, but for my money the pump action is by far the best choice. Pump guns are rugged and reliable, simple to operate, and easy to learn and teach. There is nothing wrong with any of the other types. Semi-autos, single shots, and double barrels are all fantastic weapons in their own right but the pump gun is the whole package where shotguns are concerned. I like the Mossberg 500 series, and have had good luck with its slightly less expensive cousin the Maverick 88. The Remington 870 is another time-honored choice in this realm. I prefer the 12 gauge models, but am not opposed to T20 gauge for smaller shooters.
One of the things that I like most about a lot of the pump guns is that it is very easy to change barrels. In order to make the most of your pump action shotgun you should have at least two barrels for it. The first one should be a field barrel, preferably with multiple choke tubes for different tasks and conditions. This one is your hunting and varmint control barrel. For this purpose, I use a 28-inch ventilated rib barrel with an “accuchoke” system. Your second barrel should be a shorter, more tactical barrel in the 18-20 inch range. This one is for home defense purposes; it is quicker handling in tight quarters and gives a wider shot spread at short ranges. This configuration gives you two guns for the price of one. If you choose to go further you can pick up specialty barrels for things like turkey hunting, and even rifled barrels to optimize shooting with slugs.
The pump action shotgun is truly a workhorse, and if I could have only one long gun it would probably be my first choice.