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If Icould only have one firearm...what would I choose?

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If you could only have one gun what would it be?………………….Ask this question of any gun owner and you will get a keen insight into that persons priority and logistical system. My SKS, I already have a complete set of spare parts and it's ready to go in the trunk with eight 30 round clips. Some people will list their handgun of choice, others strain over which military rifle would best suit a given scenario. Some would just grin as if they had an advance copy of next weeks quiz and reply….."shotgun….. twelve gauge pump with plenty o’ shells". The fact is that, for the money, it's hard to find a more versatile tool than the old simple to operate, easy to maintain, humble shotgun. You can hunt virtually everything from squirrel to bear to low flying helicopters (check with your local game warden for season and limits on black helicopters).


Alright- on second thought you probably won't need that last one but seriously the proper type of slug will go through car doors to 75 yards! Yeah, I know so will .308 FMJ, 7.62x39 ect. no argument from me on that but how many ducks or rabbits are you gonna get with it (we're talking consistent performance on moving targets). There is also the much touted psychological factor that I have heard bridges all language barriers upon the racking of the slide, all criminals seem to know the immediate choice at hand (surrender or die) of course this won't stop a nut job of a psycho but “00” will every time.

One more thing to consider is image, yes I said it!! -if you are forced to defend your home and family with fatal results which would you rather see as exhibit A: in court a

A.  SKS (that guy was looking for trouble)
B.  AR-15 (probably one of those militant militia nuts)
C.  Old, cheap looking, shot gun.  "your honor I was left no choice but to grab my old shotgun, I was lucky I could remember where the shells where!”

It's sad I know but in present day America these are things you need to consider and no matter how obvious it was that the crack head broke in to rob and beat you. Don't forget civil court where his family will accuse you of being everything from a racist to a cold blooded crazy man bent on murdering their sweet boy who was just in the neighborhood delivering bibles to shut ins. This is why you don't buy the tactical model with the eight round mag, you get the ranger field model order a shorty barrel with rifle sights and a mag extension tube kit if you need to (I don't see why more than 5 rounds would be needed but a shell holder on the but stock could be removed and tossed to clean up the image before the boys in blue arrive a lot more quickly than you can put your old spring and cap back on).  I also have a bandolier with various loads including flares and bird bombs (bird bombs are basically projectile fire crackers for the purpose of disorienting a target long enough to gain the edge or just plain scaring a bear away!!) there are other special loads that claim everything from Tuaregs to turning your 12 gauge into a flame thrower.

I have not used any of these out of safety concerns for myself and my gun. Further more you can get “beanbag” loads that are a non-lethal sledgehammer like blow to a perps intentions to about 15 yards or so and are much safer than plastic or rubber bullets. Consider also that if you do get into hunting or maybe just get invited out for a weekend you will have a respectable tool for the job. The 28” barrel that came with your shotgun is fine for any type of game bird, take it out to the range with a box of clay targets and a $35 launcher and you will quickly get the hang of things.

The shorty barrel (18” to 22”) with rifle sights or a true-glo tactical type sight is great for small fast flushing game and deer (with “00” buckshot or slugs) Consider a 24” or 26” smoothbore with choke tubes it can be used for any given situation with the correct load and choke combination ,but don't loose that 28” vent ribbed barrel (ducks and Doves live in fear)…..

The key to success is to set your sights up for your intended load and range, by doing so several times you will get a feel for the trajectory and range of each load and get to where you find a happy medium setting that you can use with all loads and when it comes to slugs or rifles remember that just because you sighted in at a hundred yards and it seems right don't forget to go back and recheck the zero at 25, 50, and 75 yards, what distance are you really going to be shooting at? Don't sight in for 100 yrds if you are most comfortable and accurate hunting only out to 75 yards with slugs.

You need to develop a real understanding of how each of your firearms shoots with various loads at various ranges, this is even more important with a shotgun due to its limited range. Remember- “shooter know thy weapon” You should know how every part of your weapon functions as well as how to replace or repair it and most importantly how to maintain it. Know how your weapon reacts to different temp. ranges brands of ammo ect. These are all important factors to being a competent marksman as well as why a shotgun is often easier for a new shooter to master. The limited range and less complex dynamics of its use in a tactical role(s) let the shooter concentrate more on his tactics than his weapon system. I am an avid shooter and love my rifles and handguns but if someone broke into the window right now I would grab the 12 gauge first without further consideration……

Whatever you buy remember that you have to live with it. Twelve gauge is the last word but not the only gauge out there. If you are of a small stature the 20 gauge is still a good choice, if you just can't live with the recoil, 16 gauge still holds a lethal potency with #4 buckshot but is getting a little rare as far as ammo choices go. The semi auto shotgun will help ease some of the recoil but to me the cost of one I would trust is too high compared to the simple reliable pump twelve.

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