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The World’s Most Versatile (And Underappreciated) Firearm?

The World’s Most Versatile (And Overlooked) Firearm ...

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The shotgun is perhaps the most versatile firearms on the face of the planet. From big game to small game to game birds, a shotgun will do the job. For home defense, the shotgun is more than capable and intimidating. Need a survival gun? The shotgun can cover it all in the most adverse conditions.

The choices of action types, gauges, barrel lengths and stock configurations are also an added incentive for owning a shotgun. Pump action, semi-auto, single or double barrel and even lever actions. The most commonly used gauge today is the 12 gauge, with the 20 gauge being a close second. There are others, but the old 16 gauge seems to have lost its popularity. Another, the 28 gauge, is primarily used by upland game bird hunters. The 10 gauge is a rarity in today’s times.

Let’s take a look at some specific uses for the shotgun today and my top choice for an overall shotgun.


No surprise here. The shotgun has been used in this realm for more than 150 years. I personally have taken everything, including small game, varmints and big game. While the hunting of game birds is probably the most thought-of use for a shotgun when hunting, there are numerous other hunting uses. Use buckshot and you now have a viable option for critters such as coyotes, foxes, hogs and even big game at close distances. Deer hunters have long used a shotgun coupled with rifled slugs. Slugs are completely capable of taking larger game to include bear and elk. Distance is the only limitation for the shotgun and slugs, but the 100-yard mark is certainly within its capabilities.


It has been in use for decades by police and military and the everyday citizen to protect and defend. The fact that the shotgun comes in so many configurations and offers such a wide range of ammunition choices makes it hard to beat.

Be Prepared. Learn The Best Ways To Hide Your Guns.

The World’s Most Versatile (And Overlooked) Firearm ...

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Consider adding an ammo carrier, sling and a light to your home defense shotgun. These add-ons will greatly enhance the defensive use of your smoothbore, but in the end these items are not absolutely critical for the home defender. It would benefit the defensive-minded citizen to obtain some credible training and recommendations in this category before proceeding too far down the road.


It should be apparent that the shotgun has to be a top contender for an all-around survival gun; there is one in my vehicle at all times.

Consider the following. With the right selection of ammo, I can take winged game, small game, big game, defend myself and home from all manner of unwelcome visitors out to a distance of at least 100 yards, breech a door, launch tear gas (within legalities, of course) and create a high level of anxiety in anyone determined to do harm to me or my family. Another viable attribute is the durability of a good shotgun. It is generally very weather and harsh condition resistant — a good quality for any survival gun.

Other attributes include switching out barrels, chokes and the addition or deletion of any tactical option with ease. Areas of concern surrounding the shotgun for some folks could be weight, recoil and length. But in today’s world there are enough variations to fit most any person’s needs and abilities.

My personal pick for one shotgun to do it all: a Remington 870 pump action, 18-inch barrel, 3-inch chamber, extended magazine tube, interchangeable chokes with a ghost ring-style iron sight system. I prefer a butt stock ammo carrier and a two-point sling. A side rail or comparable attachment point for a light would be a nice option. I can live without a red dot or other optic system.

In today’s world of short-barreled rifles and high capacity magazines, the shotgun is often overlooked. Even many police agencies have eliminated it from their armory – which is a mistake, in my opinion.

Don’t have a shotgun? Get one!

Do you believe the shotgun is the ultimate survival gun? Share your thoughts in the section below:   

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns For Home Defense. Read More Here.

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  1. Except for the fact that I prefer the Mossy 500 I agree with everything else you said. While there are better weapons for certain things nothing beats a shotgun for overall performance. yeah and AR holds 30 rounds and is good out to 500 yards yeah a handgun is more concealable yeah you can take large game with a 22 ( with a perfect shot ) but we are talking about overall not a one off situation.

  2. This is so NOT TRUE and drivel for uninformed morons. Anyone who ACTUALLY knows something about prepping will tell you no FIREARM is ideal. You will NEVER have enough ammo and eventually your prized shotgun becomes a fancy paperweight. Then what are you going to do when you should have been stockpiling gunpowder and other items to make explosives as well as collecting edged and other non-ammo required weapons.

    • If I ran out of ammo for the shotgun, I could make a stabbing instrument or bludgeon out of it. Better? Lol.

    • The article wasn’t about the difference between guns and edged weapons it was about what was the most versatile gun. You might want to brush up on your reading and comprehension skills. Oh and for the record you would eventually run out of gunpowder and edged weapons break and wear out also. Is their a perfect weapon out there for survival or hunting,no. Would I choose a shotgun over an edged weapon like a knife,spear,bow and arrow…… all day long.

    • Charles…grow up. I can reload shotgun shells with black powder I make myself…not ideal…but try doing that for your mall-ninja AR…

    • Are you ready to bet your life that I’m out of shotgun shells ?

  3. Shotgun ammunition is rarely out of stock at retail outlets (but store some back for just in case – buy two, use one box). Reloading it is easy too. Twelve gauge is the most versatile, but if recoil is too hard, the 20 will do in a pinch.

    They say that the majority of U.S. homes have at least one firearm, even if the occupants aren’t active firearms users. The rimfire is probably the leader, but a close 2nd is the shotgun.

    Shotgun ammunition would probably make a good future barter item.

  4. I completely agree. While every gun has it’s draw backs (you mentioned distance but also recoil is a concern with a shotgun) no other weapons system provides the kind of versatility and ease of use that shotgun does. It can put more lead downrange per trigger pull than any other weapon (short of a cannon). It’s easy to aim and more forgiving if your shot isn’t perfect. Unlike AR’s and handguns you don’t need years of practice to become very proficient. I get tired of gun snobs ragging on all of the things that their particular favorite gun can do that a shotgun can’t but if you line up all the pros and cons the lowly shotgun can hold it’s own against any of them.

  5. I’m 69 and about the only thing we hunted with when I was young was a single shot 12 or 16 gauge shotgun. I recently bought a new Mossberg 500 12 gauge with 4 chokes (I bought a turkey choke) and a rifled slug barrel with rifle sights. I think it will cover about anything I need for a long gun. One problem with a shotgun is they seem to last forever. I have 3 old shotguns that function perfectly that I no longer need. My 12 gauge pump was made in 1947, my 20 gauge single shot was made in 1948 and my 16 gauge single shot was made in 1950. I have several different handguns and rifles but the most versitile gun with the most available ammo is my shotgun.

  6. Looking for some middle ground, can we all agree that one feature that is underappreciated but so useful: the ergonomic and reliable trigger be it crossbows, PPKs, or M777A2s.

  7. I see my life as what I make it. I have shot guns. A moss Berg bolt action 20 ga lives in the Gun Cabinet.never fails. If a break in were to happen, I have a .22 light weight $110 NEW moss berg Auto that can Bark out 9 rounds in 3 seconds.
    How ever no matter how many guns you have,or trunk loads of Ammo. You have a better chance of wining the Lotto then being in a shoot out situation. All though ! I practice two shots per week just to know the Rifle. Remember The Lord said love your Neighbor But tie thy Camel<. "Trust no one completely" And you will probably never Have a Gun protection situation. JS

  8. Couldn’t agree more. Shotgun may not be ideal but it covers more ground than any other firearm. How are you going to go hunting for birds with an ar15? Its ridiculous to even think, while shotgun can do that job along with the job of ar15.

    I would advise looking into automatic shotguns, they can be difficult to hold sometimes but they have their advantages. Think about it, shooting 10 shotgun rounds in a matter of seconds can obliterate anything standing in your way, can even cut a tree down if you don’t have an axe.

  9. The 12 gage shotgun is the most versatile firearm, you can own, ammo of more variety than anything else. I’ve never seen a rifle flamethrower round, flechetts, buckshot, or birdshot that is worth its cost per round. besides you can mount a 12 gage under your AR, so now you got everything in one gun. Also I’ve never seen anybody kick a door with a rifle.

  10. If I could only have one fire arm. ( one ? what a novel concept ! ) it would be a 12 gage pump action shot gun !

  11. Any one know where I can buy a new or used 18 1/2 inch 12 gage barrel for a stevens model 320 pump shotgun ?

  12. My choice is the old stand by…H&R single shot 12 gauges. Built like a tank….goes boom every time…..and probably the most versatile firearm out there,……check out Dave Canterbury’s series on Youtube,,,,,,chances are,,,you will want to pick one up ASAP

  13. Wow. I did a little price checking and was surprised to see many low end pump actions for less than the lowest price I could find for any low end single shot shotguns. That’s four or five rounds for less money !

  14. Agree – the shotgun is an extermely versatile firearm. Most pawn shops have a good selection of pumps and single shots for sale. Interesting – the single shot break opens are often priced only about $50 less than repeaters, with Remington 870s for less than $250 (which I consider a steal).

    Single shot shotguns are one design you can hand to a novice and describe how it works in less than a minute.

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