****This post originally appeared over at It can be seen in its original form HERE.


BY GREG RENTCHLER, Editor at Large

I’ve been spending a lot of time at my BOL  thinking about a one-gun solution for defending the family in time of SHTF. After much discussion with my survival family and colleagues, we collectively concluded that there is no such thing as a one-gun solution to address the plethora of variations of circumstances involved in a SHTF scenario.


SHTF gun, survival gun, survival shotgun,

Because times are tough and getting tougher, I decided that I would attempt to create a simple, cheap, and versatile weapon system, consisting of just one gun. The accompanying photos should give you an idea of what I have put together in hopes that many will see the attributes and limitations to this problem.


Let’s be clear. I don’t have all the answers. But I do have a background that that should legitimize my conclusions. So, just consider these words from a guy that wants to share an idea, based on a lifetime of firearms use, study and instructing.


You’ll immediately see that I have chosen a shotgun for my “one-gun option” or (OGO). The gun is a 12 gauge Mossberg/Maverick HS-12 , over/under, 18.5 inch improved cylinder barrel chokes(size of opening at end of barrel or “muzzle”). The gun is equipped with two picatinny rails, one fixed under the bottom barrel and the other on the top rear of the receiver. This is a clever rail on the receiver. The rail is cut thru with a “V”, allowing a sighted picture thru the rail to the front sight, which is  fiber optic, thereby creating a very bright, clear, accurate sight picture!



My general premise here is that a shotgun is the most versatile type of firearm produced. Let me tell you why-

* a wide range and type of ammo available to shotguns make it capable of taking game from birds/rabbits/squirrels(with birdshot), to coyotes/2-4 legged(buckshot), to larger mammals as elk/ moose/bear (slugs, either solid or hollow point).

Author’s note– I once killed a Corvette with a shotgun using a slug. What a surprise to the driver dirtbag and unfortunate for the owner.

* ease of use- simple design, break open action, slide safety, manually activated triggers

* shotguns can be used as less than lethal devices (bean bag or rubber rounds)

* less expensive than assault rifles and many handguns.

* reliability+

* ammo available in every store and every farmhouse

* accuracy is very good to excellent with sabot slugs

* extreme foot pounds of energy at close distance and with slugs at distance

* most terminal firearm made- some restrictions( I know, how terminal does a firearm need to be)

* can launch line, signal device, fire starter, club, water portage!


Now for building this gun, I enhanced it considering my thoughts for its use as a SHTF weapon:

I immediately test fired the gun for reliability, accuracy(where it printed with shot and slugs). Then, I applied camo colors using wide shoelaces to break up the paint and outline. A 200 lumen tac light was attached to the forward rail. I felt this gun should remain simple and effective. The light gives the operator surprise to the target and a very quick sight picture for same. A side saddle type of ammo carrier was affixed the the stock(L or R side) for backup reloading and as important, the ammo is a mix of #4 buck, 00 buck and slugs. The gun is rugged and reliable. A sling could be attached easily but is not necessary on this 6.5 pound weapon. The butt stock is hollow reducing weight and allowing for emergency storage .


You could even put a bayonet on the muzzle using the fixed bottom rail! You might note from the photo that I keep two rounds secured by rubber band at the muzzle end of the barrels. Those two rounds are bird shot that I keep for quail egg eating crows in the area. The gun is fast to action, easy to lash down, safe, simple and powerful.


If you look very closely on the butt stock, you will see a distinctive “Z” painted in bright green.


I hope you have enjoyed this offering as much as I do reading and discussing yours!! Be safe and Train!


” be the victor not the victim”

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8 thoughts on “SHTF ONE GUN DEFENSE”

  1. An over/under is by far not a one gun defense. In SHTF your screw if there are more than two attackers. There is a good reason why LE and the military do not employ over/under shotguns.

  2. I basically built 3 of these same configuration shotguns in 12 ga I used a Charles daily gun that I could get at my local pawn shop for around $175. each added the same shell holder to the stock and a 1000 lumens light under the barrel . I hung one over the front and back doors of my home and one over my bedroom door .
    Robert W

  3. A pump of equal quality will run under $200. A pump of superior quality can be found for under $300.

    Pros (yes there are a few)
    *Simple to clean
    *Extremely fast second shot
    *Ability to select the barrel being fired which also gives options by allowing what type of shell is being fired (for example – bean bag round in lower barrel and buckshot or slug in the upper barrel).
    *Safety automatically engages when the shotgun is closed.
    *Few moving parts to break

    *Two shots!
    *Usually, unless extremely high dollar, each barrel will have a slightly different point of aim.
    *Few options and not a lot of spare parts out there (especially “drop in” spare parts).
    *The safety automatically engages when the barrel is closed (great for the safety conscious…..but ABSOLUTE SUCK in the middle of a gunfight).
    *Much heavier than a pump (think about it, the heaviest part of the gun is the barrel and you’re now carrying two of them).
    *Seriously!?! Two shots???
    *Can be loaned to the neighbor in time of need (he’ll now be armed but you’ll still have him outgunned).
    *Slow to reload (few of us are Clint Smith).
    *Can’t be partially topped off (reloaded) without losing an “on target” hold
    *In most cases, difficult to attach a 2-point sling as you can’t drill into the barrel, the wood forearm is spring loaded, and the barrel clamps usually screw on between the barrels….though you could just tie it with a string.
    *Hope you’re left handed with the config shown above or your cheeks are going to be raw between the recoil and where the shell carrier is.
    *And finally, as I didn’t see a remote switch for the light/laser, you’re gonna have to have EXTREMELY long arms to switch that on and off when clearing a building.

  4. Oh I have to say something. Ever tried to climb a ladder or a tree when carrying a rifle or shotgun? Your one gun needs a sling. As pointed out, slings are hard to mount on an over and under but there are some barrel clamp sling attachments available.

    There is a place and time for that two round weapon. It will seldom if ever jam and is always at the ready. I have a fine double rifle in that awesome wildcat .500 – .416 Nitro Express, used for the most dangerous of African game wounded cats and buffalo. Two shots, ultra reliability, short with no action – and like they say, the second shot is always closer (of course there is no time for that third shot, that’s when your guts are torn out).

    Have you considered a shotgun rifle combination, perhaps something in .308 and 12 gauge? It would be far more versatile with greater range.

    Each to his own however and I have written about similar previously. I suppose if I only had one weapon it would be a .22 pistol – and a lot of ammunition.

    Our basic vehicle weapons load out currently consists of the M1A Scout, M4 clone, Ruger 10-22 rifle, Springfield Operator .45acp, and the hard to clean Ruger .22 pistol. We may have that 870 or so tucked in somewhere but it is by far optional. Ammunition for shotguns is heavy and certainly not water tight. Shotguns are far down on our list of needful weapons.

    Thank you for your post Greg. We may not agree but I applaud your willingness to share what you have learned. Nicely put together and well written article.

    My thoughts,

  5. “Shotguns are far down on our list of needful weapons.” PR, take a look at the Magpul Dynamics DVD “The Dynamic shotgun” You may change your mind. It changed mine. With the proper training, more versatile than you might suspect. Regards, D.
    PS: not a big fan of any shotgun short of a pump.

  6. D, I’ve shot 870s since the early teens and later in gov’t service we had 14″ barreled 870s. Like I said shotgun rounds are heavy and not waterproof. Distinct failings in a long term survival mode.

    African professional hunters have moved away from the shotgun as the preferred weapon when following up on wounded cats. Too many were being mauled after discharging all of their shotgun rounds into a wounded cat. There is just something about being shot through from long end to long end (or head to tail) by a 500+grain .40 caliber bullet going twice the speed of sound that just stops cats in their tracks. Part of me thinks that a mixture of 00 buck and slugs would do the same job but experience has shown that it does not.

    No doubt the 12 gauge is lethal to humans up close. There is sufficient evidence to that fact. No doubt I may have 870s near my doorways. That application is a lot different than the one gun for survival application. Shotgun ammunition is simply too heavy and lacks both material robustness and range of properly sealed brass cased ammunition. For those reasons I eliminate the shotgun as a one gun survival weapon.



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