Best SHTF Shotgun?


Shotgun for SHTF

Remington 870 – Best SHTF Shotgun?

What type of emergency are you preparing for (economic collapse, terrorist attack, Electro-Magnetic Pulse, natural disaster, hyper-inflation, etc)?  Nobody knows what exactly the future holds; therefore nobody knows specifically how to prepare.  When selecting a weapon, the shotgun seems to prove more versatile than most of the others.  This jack of all trades weapon can do all things from put food on the table (bird shot) to defend against hostiles (buck shot) and put down wild predators (slugs).

I won’t attempt to argue that there are better weapons for some specific applications.  Many law enforcement agencies across the US have moved away from the shotgun toward AR platforms due to increased accuracy, effective range, greater ammo capacity, lighter weight and reduced recoil.  That said the specific mission of a law enforcement carbine is limited to tactical applications (not so great at shooting birds).  The shotgun is sufficient for combat engagements greater than 100 yards with slugs and is superior at ranges under 35 yards with Buck shot. The vast majority of tactical engagements one would expect to encounter in an emergency SHTF situation would be within those ranges (beyond that a tactical retreat should be considered if practical).

A Shotgun Offers Variety!

The variety of ammunition is what makes the shotgun so versatile. The ability to switch types of ammo depending on the application is equivalent to having several different weapons. Loading a slug is ideal for hunting big game, engaging hostile threats at distances (or through barriers), and protection from wild animals (bear). Loading a round of 00 Buck is equivalent to approximately 8 or 9 rounds of 9mm.  A round of birdshot is great for hunting small game (bird, snake, and squirrel) and also pretty good for breaching door locks at contact distance.  A 12 gauge flare round is a great way to signal people well over a mile away.  Additionally there are several variations of “less than lethal” 12 gauge shot gun rounds that offer you an opportunity to incapacitate an individual (rather than kill them) if the situation presents itself. These rounds include bean bag rounds, rubber slugs, pepper rounds, etc.  The latter option (less lethal) may prove practical for many potential scenarios when you actually think about it (only having a “deadly force” option can really limit you both tactically and strategically).

Of all the types of shotguns available I prefer a good pump shotgun for a survival platform. I feel a pump offers the best compromise of capacity, simplicity and durability. Obviously a double or single barrel shotgun is simpler to operate and has less to malfunction; however, it is less ideal as a defensive arm due to limited capacity and slow reloads. A semi auto would be faster to operate as a defensive weapon, however, they have many more parts to break, more prone to malfunction, and many do no reliably cycle low powered ammo (like less lethal rounds).

I think the Remington 870 is probably the best choice for a SHTF shotgun

Of the pump shotguns available, my personal preference is the Remington 870 with the Mossberg 590 (and 500) being a close second. Take a look here to see the specification of the Remington 870.  Both of these shotguns have seen military and law enforcement duty.  Also there is a huge aftermarket for accessories for them. Common aftermarket accessories include side saddle shell holders (carry extra rounds), tactical lights (identify a threat in the dark), ghost ring sights, folding and recoil reducing stocks, rifled barrels, tube extensions and much more. If at all possible I would stick to the 12 gauge platform for the survival shotgun with the 20 gauge being a suitable substitute for recoil sensitive individuals.

As I said, the shotgun may not be the “best” weapon for every situation, but for the “Jack of All Trades” weapon that will do most jobs reasonably well (and some of them best of all), the shotgun is hard to beat.

What are your thoughts on a shotgun for a survival weapon?

Note: This was a guest post by Dave Jones who has also authored the following articles: Woods Bag, AK-47 Vs AK-74, 100 Dollar Survival Rifle.

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12 thoughts on “Best SHTF Shotgun?

  1. I prefer the Mossberg 500. The 870 is better made (and thus more expensive), but I like the position of the safty on the Mossberg, which can be thumbed off without taking either hand out of battery on the gun. Also, the Mossberg safety disconnects the sear, where the Remington does not. There is a slightly higher chance that the 870 can discharge if dropped with the saftey on. I also much prefer the position of the action release on the mossberg. I can reach it with my trigger finger to open the action without moving my hand off of the gun’s grip.
    The 500 being less finely made may also be better, in that in a survival situation the weapon will experience rough handling, and adverse wheather conditions. I would tend to be less upset about beating up the Mossberg.

  2. I like the Rem 870 for two reasons- It seems to come up more naturally than most designs, and easily fits with a youth stock for smaller people. My wife has a 870 youth 20ga. The only thing I do not like about it is the finish rusts quicker than the Mossberg 590.
    More important than any design/action is practice and familiarity with your weapon. WE must encourage our wives and children to practice while making it a good experience for them so they do not dread it. My wife is a tiny woman, but she has grown to truly enjoy shooting her AR-15, Kimber 45, and Rem 870. As her proficiency has grown, so has her interest.
    Having grown up shooting competition and hunting all my life I consider myself marginally proficient. I know how important proficiency can be to survive an event that may only lasts a few seconds, but is the difference between life and death.
    Thank you for the thought provoking insights you share with your readers. Firearms are like golf clubs. Different ones work best for ever changing situations or challenges. It is good to become proficient with a variety. However, if a novice had to choose one gun to defend the home, a pump shotgun is a good choice.

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  4. I have both a Remington 870 and a Mossberg 500, to me they are about equal. One is no more accurate than the other, both are equally easy to use, clean and find parts for. To me, either one would be a good choice in a bad situation.

  5. I have been on many forums where the shotgun is belittled because it wont shoot 500 yards. Statements like “ammo is bulky” and “does not hold enough rounds” ect. Many expect to run off into the woods and live good feating on deer meat that must be abundant in their neck of the woods. So let me say my two cents. When hard times come, the locals will clean out the deer/elk herds in a couple of months. For those who plan on hunting need to sit in the woods awhile. Day after day of nothing. One thing that there was abundance of is small birds. Try shooting a flock of tweety birds with a .22 rifle. Yes a shotgun has limitations, but it will put food on the table and give you the opportunity to defend yourself. To those who say it wont be any good defending yourself at 200 yards, well if someone sees you at 200 yards you probably wont even know it. They will just as easy snipe you at 200 yards or pop you at 50 with a $100 gun while your taking a dump. A shotgun wont help you in a firefight they say. Well, if it is one against ten you are gonna lose no matter what gun you have. So if one wants to run off into the brush with 10 assault rifles and 12 pistols with 9000 rounds of ammo then more power to ya. I have 3 rifles (and yes one is a scoped AK) and 7 shotguns. For me I will take a long barreled pump shotgun and will not feel under gunned. The only other gun I would have would be a good pellet rifle to quietly shoot pigeons from under the bridge. Last thing, the key is to avoid bad situations and a person alone wont make it. That only happens in the movies. Just my two cents.

  6. Ehhh, I’m an 870 guy. I grew up with air rifles and .22s that had the cross safety at the trigger. The Mossy setup is cool but, I know a guy that had his safety fail. He thinks it was the recoil. Then I read about a couple others on some forums. No personal experience with that issue, but it jaded my thoughts on the beast.

    Never had an issue with any 870 I’ve used. And, rather importantly, its feels good to me. Some may have a physical build that favors the Mossberg, and that’s cool, too. Use it! A guy has to be comfortable with his tools, you know?

  7. Absolutely! I tell folks all the time that the word “Best” is a subjective term. What I think is the best may not be the same as what you think it the best. But as long as it works and is high quality then use what you want. Thanks LP!

  8. I had the remington and for me it is the best shot gun ever made. Sold it a couple of years ago and I always remember it fondly. I have a new shotgun but its not as good as the remington.

  9. I’ve only owned Remington shotguns. My current shotgun is a Remington 870 Express 12 gauge, purchased long before Remington quality went down the tubes. It sports an 18-1/2 inch fixed cylinder choke barrel with Wilson Combat ghost ring and front tritium sight. I had no use for the tritium because I used the shotgun for deer hunting. The tritium insert was below the top of the sight and OK for using the tritium dot as the point of aim. But you were outside the adjustment range of the rear ghost ring if you wanted the point of aim at the top of the sight. Solved this problem by filing the front sight down. This setup is the best defensive shotgun for me. I have no experience with Mossberg’s but if I were in the market for a new shotgun it would be a Mossberg pump action, not a Remington 870. Have heard too many accounts about the garbage Remington is putting out today. Haven’t heard anything too bad about Mossberg’s and would rather take a chance on a Mossberg than of a Remington. Am happy I got the Remington before Remington went south.

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