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Is This the Ultimate Survival Gun?

by Mike Schoby   |  August 28th, 2012 88

Admit it, you have thought about it. If you could have only one firearm for survival, what would it be? Some would suggest an accurate .22 LR or an AR-15 (neither is a bad choice, BTW), but for our money, a jack-of-all-trades gun that does a little bit of everything trumps all. So our choice is a side-by-side shotgun.

Simply put, a shotgun is the most effective tool for gathering food. Loaded with birdshot, it is extremely capable on birds and small game. Loaded with buckshot or slugs, it serves adequately for nearly anything in the world. But why not a pump or auto, you may ask? Any break-open gun is easy to use with chamber inserts, making an already versatile gun nearly unstoppable.

Of all the two-barrel options out there, we decided to start with Stoeger’s Double Defense. As good as the “Double D” is, it can always be improved upon. We Cerakote finished the metal, then with file, router, mill, and some ingenuity on hand, we threw everything but the proverbial sink into this build.

  • Chuck Snawder

    Do we know an MSRP or did I miss that in the story?

    • John Weatherly

      Yes you did. You didn't click the link.

  • Russell East

    love this idea…my only isssue is the quality of the Stoeger..I was interested in one a while back and its fit and finish were not all that great

  • Zach Moffett

    Take my money!

  • Plumbadrumma

    Benelli M4 Super 90 in desert camo, 1911 45ACP, & SOCOM II (308) bring it on!!
    The perfect bug out weapons assortment!

    • CommenterGuy

      I like how your alternative to this all-in-one shotgun is 3 guns.

    • Mobius

      perhaps your right, but have you tried pricing those items anytime in the last 10 years.. come on man..! for real ..! you're easily looking at about 5000 dollars in weapons..! I don't know about you but I don't have that kind of money laying around. so you obviously missed the entire point of this particular weapon, and the whole darn story in its entirety..

    • Sivispace

      My .308 is a V-51 pistol-SBR. I've got the M4 super 90 with a Leupold Lensatic sight and a Sig P226 Navy for my bug out kit.

    • Michael Miedzianoweski

      Way too many weapons to carry comfortably , not to mention the ammo weight , I like the thought of one weapon and light ammo weight that would go much further .

  • John ODonnell

    Remington 870, 3"……shoots slugs. shot and you never have to worry about it breaking…..Dont cost an arm and a leg either and it will still be in the conversation in a hundred years. We keep inventing the wheel. Keeps gun companies and gun magizines in business I guess

    • rob

      The only working gun on the market…….battle tested……beat the brush back……paddle the boat…etc…..never had not one problem with the 870…..wouldnt trade it for nothing

  • john

    I, personally, do not think a 12 Guage is any match for a grizzly or mountain lion. I will keep on using a .280 and
    a heavy handgun; such as a .357 magnum. Either being capable of the task and can hold more ammo
    I do have heavier weapons, but think of these because of their reliability. I don't really want to take tools into the field, to fix a weapon. You must trust your weapon and keep it in perfect condition

    • Frank

      Most lions are killed with .22 rimfire handguns and almost all grizzly bear managers prefer an 870 Remington with slugs. Killing a grizzly just cannot be compared to killing a lion.

      • rob

        Talk to any army doctor….big holes are a problem….especially ones you can lose a roll of quarters in.

        • Michael Miedzianoweski

          If that is the case go to Youtube and Check out the damage .17HMR is capable of doing ! It does not matter what you shoot it all falls back on shot placement !

    • kyle

      John, you are correct, per my bear hunting guide in British Columbia. He said he took a 12 gauge into the woods after a medium sized black bear and it charged and his 12 gauge rounds had no discernible immediate effects on the bear. If his friend had not had his .338 he said he would have been mauled. From a professional guide at Opatcho Lake Outfitters in B.C. Canada.

      • CommenterGuy

        Was this with slugs or buckshot or what?

    • Jerry

      I saw a true documentary where a man had just finished cleaning, then loaded his .357, got something to eat, set it on the table, then went to get a drink. When he came back to sit down, a small mountain lion had jumped into his living room through a window to eat his sandwich which was on the floor. He instinctively grabed his gun at about the same time the lion attacked him. He fired point blank, hitting the lion in the chest, that seemed to have stopped his advance in midair. The lion took a moment to look at him, then turned around and scamped into the forrest. Fact: .357 did not stop the lion!!! It really depends on the animal, how aggressive they are, size matters, & how hungry. .280 is definetly better than a .223! I use .300 mag.

      • Dale

        in the first place shooting any animal in the chest or head straight on is a sure way to blow it . I shot a 10 point whitetail in the chest straight on at about 10 yards with a 44 mag he went down like a ton of brick. I decided to finish my sandwich before gutting him and maybe lucky I did he came to life took down 4 3in trees and took off I tracked him 2 days into a swamp before I got a good broadside shoulder shot. when I checked on the chest shot it it his chest plate slide along the side thru the shoulder. I think I was lucky.

    • Redted

      You think a .357 is capable against bears or lions but that a 12ga isn't? Go on…

      • SAM

        Use a 454 it is proven to stop bears and lions at close range

    • Ron

      I have shot many,many many black bears, and the the old trusty 12ga and for that matter a 20ga does in fact get the job done with great results. As far as mountain lions I have killed my share also, I have killed them with a small caliber rifle as well as a stick and string. I think the 12ga is over kill on a lion, but these are just my 2 cents worth.

    • Thomas Laird

      You shoot a grizzly with a 280 or a 357 and all that will happen is you will be grizzly poop!

    • Richard

      your nutz, evan the avid hunters in Alaska, which I was one while living there, will tell you the best defence gun for the Grizzly and coastal brown is the shot gun. A 20 ga. would be enough minimumly!!!

    • Art Brown Sr

      Brenneke Black Magic, or Rotweiller is effective to 100 yards the 2 3/4 stats

      Distance (yds) Velocity (fps) Energy (ft lbs) Trajectory (inch)
      Muzzle 1560 2375 -2.0
      25 1306 1664 +0.1
      50 1135 1258 +1.2
      75 1044 1063 +0.7
      100 929 842 -1.4
      Optimum range for sighting in: 70 yards
      stats for the 3"
      Distance (yds) Velocity (fps) Energy (ft lbs) Trajectory (inch)
      Muzzle 1502 3014 -2.0
      25 1295 2241 +0.4
      50 1136 1724 +1.6
      75 1030 1418 +1.0
      100 955 1219 -1.5
      Optimum range for sighting in: 88 yards
      suitable for any thing in range that MUST BE put down

      • Art Brown Sr

        Oh and all the other rounds that go into an 870
        I carry a full magazine AND a side carry for 6 more rounds at hand besides pockets

  • John ODonnell

    The mere definiion of a survival weapon is One weapon that is portable, reliable and covers a wide range of solutions. If you want to carry a 50 Barrett thats all good too but may get a wee bit unweildy. Tracking wounded blackbear in the east and protecting salmon fishermanfrom Kodiak in Alaska has always been the domain of a 12 bore bear swatter.Both cat and grizz can be killed with a bow. So the theory that you are undergunned is squashed. The 280 is a great round a bit one dimensional (cant kill birds with it) and the ammo may be a tad hard to find in the bush. Everyone everywhere has 12 bore. The 357 works as a back up but again we are taliking about one gun in the bush to cover all needs. As a police officer for 34 years I learned never to bring a hand gun when I could carry a long gun. My choice is still old faithful, not glamorous THE 870.

    • Norm

      Your thoughts are relevant and real. I have a pump Mossberg 500, not all that different from the 870. It is heavy to tote, and the ammo bulky. My preference would be attempting to avoid cat and grizz, preferring Blacks, deer and other game for food.

      I like my lever guns, which are light. probably the old 30-30 Win. with a 2-4.5 scope mounted, I see as an ideal survival gun. The cartridge can be reloaded many times.

  • keith

    Where does one find the nifty stock bag? Anyone know?

    • Mark Lewis

      voodoo tactical makes a nice scabbard for short barrel shotguns with molle all over it. fits my winchester 1300 defender very well with 18 inch barrel.

    • Mike


  • David M

    I have guided and hunted black bear many times. A 12 gauge works fine. Use the right ammo and aim the gun!
    I have dropped a Black bear on a charge 3 shots. a Hollow point slug will tear the shoulder out of a bear. If the legs no longer work it cant chase you. Most guides do indeed carry a 45-70 or .444 when guiding in bear country tho.

  • Luc Duchesne

    How many arms and legs would this cost me?

  • Mark Lewis

    479 to 499 with out sight and light … hmmmmm a bit pricey… the h r single shot with next to no mods is still a better deal when paired with the inserts in your favorite caliber!!!!

  • Piero

    I'd probably take a dilling with 20 inches barrel, one in 7-08, the other one in 20. We are speaking about survival, therefore a situation where confronting a bear by choice would be madness. With this combination you can easily hunt anything form birds to deer without problems. One insert in 22 LR would be use

  • j. guzman

    how much, and how can I get 1 or 2?

  • Mike Schoby

    you have to build it – start with a basic Stoeger Doube Defender and add what you want

  • Steve

    Actually I have an old Stevens model 24 .22/.410 over and under. I think it would be perfect. shoots both .22 shorts as wellas long, plus both 23/4 and 3 inch .410. Can carry plenty of ammo for both barrels as well as variety of shotgun shells and wont take as much room as large centerfire rounds and bulky 12 gauge

  • Ken

    Very cool looking set up, almost suductive to a gun enthustiast. The sad part is, once you add up all the cost, it takes most of the fun out of trying to do this build. I do like the work they did thought.

  • Anishinabi

    I agree on the 870 as a better choice. That being said, if the only ammo you buy is 7 1/2 bird shot and a box of 00 buck, your versatility would be limited. Stocking an assortment would be a thoughtful choice. When the SHTF you may not be able to get to Walmart. There are 12 gauge choices of hard projectiles in sabots that will stop a black bear.

  • doc young

    If you have only a 12 bore, you should look into the flechette rounds!! They will stop ANYTHING on two or four legs with one round aimed at a leg guaranteed! Whatever it may be, it will cease to exist within an hour at the mosst and leave a carcass minus the limb you just blew off.

    • Jesus H. Goldberg

      Please, have an accident!

  • Steve M

    I wonder
    what Jeff Cooper would think of it.

    • gregv


      • SAM

        why put a 45 auto insert if you are going to use an insert install one to shoot the 454 use a Barnes 360 grain solid flat nose bullet. It will crush through bones and chest plates and stop a Buick if you need it to.

      • Michael Miedzianoweski

        So what was the damage for the rifle ? I think that would be the ultimate set up for going back into the deep woods and make you feel mighty safe /

    • goldcup

      He would probably say that it was an ingenious solution to a nonexistant problem

  • Bart

    I have a mossberg turkey shotgun … 20 inch barrel and I changed out the turkey choke so I could shoot slugs. It's not the best gun for any situation but it will do the job in just about any situation.

  • CapnKlay

    Remington 870 for the win! I concur, the 12 ga is a very versatile weapon. Birdshot, 00 & 000 buck, Slugs, & High Brass Discarding Sabot .50 rounds make it more than adequate for most purposes. As an example: 000 Buck has 6 .36"/ 9.1mm balls in it. the standard model 870 has a capacity of 5 rounds (4+1) every time you trombone the slide and stroke the trigger you get 6 9.1mm balls down range. if you let loose with all 5 rounds you get 30 9.1mm balls of lead on target. That is nearly the capacity of a subgun with a 32 round mag.

  • Geeze

    350 Rem. Mag with 250 gr. topping it at 2450 fps. Sure medicine for anything in North America.

  • John Weatherly

    LOP at 14.25 is way too long for a defense scatter gun.

  • Joe C

    Question, why did the author go with the side by side, the over/under would actually give better accuracy and a slimmer profile?

  • JMB

    Add a GPS parascope divining rod and a grenade launcher

  • jim pope

    How much

    • Martin Sires

      Can be had for around $300. MSRP about $400. Fun Gun!!!!

  • Logan-Boone

    Isn't anyone concerned that there is only one trigger, if I were to use this gun for hunting and defence, possibly with a myriad of different caliber inserts, I would want to be able to select what barrel I was firing. Don't wanna fire a .22 when you need a 12ga slug or have to switch what round was loaded in the first barrel to fire. I hunt with combination guns and really appreciate there versatility, but you have to be able to select barrels. This is the reason I bought a Stoeger coach gun instead of the double defense, two triggers.

    • John Harris

      Gotta have two triggers. Wanna go cheap get a Savage 311

      • Jesus H. Goldberg

        Fuck off with your Savage 311, already!

  • Bill Perry

    I have always enjoyed a side by side shotgun and I think this is a homerun. All I need to know is how much and where can I find one.

  • Scott

    The compass is too close to metal to work accurately and the whole contraption has to weigh a ton!

    • Jesus H. Goldberg

      Are you being serious, or just stupid?

  • Sivispace

    I've got my own survival gun. It's a Vector-Kelly V-51 pistol in 7.62 x 51. It uses cheap and available G-3 magazines. I mounted an EOTECH 551 sight on it. I have a single point bungee sling. In a SFTF world, I'll mount a collapsible stock on it and it will be a point and shoot SBR with great CQB potential and AK-47 ballistics out to 300 meters. Bring on the apocalypse. I'll put on my ceramic body armor and take a stroll throug the forest.

  • Martin Sires

    I have a Double Defense. I will agree that there are many better "Practical Choices." This is a gun that is hard to justify until you look at it then shoot it. I can't say that I have a better conversation piece in my safe. Not to mention the huge grin that instantly appears on the face of anyone that shoots it!!!

  • Martin Sires

    MSRP around $400.00. Can actually buy for closer to $300.00.

  • Jeremy von Kesselburg

    what is the pouch on the stock? I can't find it on blackhawk's site.

  • Jeremy von Kesselburg
  • vishnu

    If you are going to carry sub-caliber inserts, first go with 16, 20, 28, 410 reducers. Never know what ammo you may find after you bug out.

  • MotoJB

    NO…it's not. For starters, my Stoeger's action FROZE. I can't break it open any more. I now have to send it back after only a couple hundred shells. I'd never bet my life on a Stoeger.

    • John Harris

      I am a Gunsmith……Stoeger- CRUDE. for cheap and effective buy a Stevens 311.

  • Doug Norman

    Wow, I love reading all this STUFF. I don't think things are going to get so bad in this country that you will have to RUN FOR IT. (what ever it is?) However, I also play those mental, what if, games and I believe I would take my Mossburg 500, 12ga., a hand full of bird shot, and a handfull of 00, and strap my 7 shot 357 Mag. on my belt with a hand full of 38+p and 357 jhp. Food and water and filters and go, now in Kansas it's pretty darn flat, but we have lots of deer and birds. Boy it's easy to get carried away with all this blogging. Hope we never have to use any of these ideas, and can continue to just collect more guns.

    • Richard

      Norm, wtf are you preparing for? Carried away is right !
      Fox must own stock in weapons and ammo…their paranoid thinking sells more guns than any advertising can.

  • Richard

    Ok I bought the O/U version of this shotgun at a local gun store and got it fort $400, about $80 below MSRP, Bud's gun shop online where I buy most of my guns was about this same price, but they were not in stock currently and even with tax the pricewas just about $12 more, but I have one. I went with the "X caliber inserts as they are rifled and 7" long, down side is they cost about $450 but it is a complete set of 7 or so rifle and pistol calibers. This seemed to me to be a good choice, my friend even went with the same configuration, now I am looking into installing or having installed a set of screw in chokes. Ok Stoeger is not browning or benelli quality or price. The O/U shotgun has a rail on top of the receiver like the side by side but has a rail on both sides of the barrels, you will have to search high and low to find the "X caliber" inserts, seems like just one survival/prepper guy selling them at this time… will taky you there.

  • Daniel

    This article is argumentative. Yes undoubtedly I would love to have any one of your weapons of choice but Let's face it, your idea of having any type of survival gun depends on the situation you will be put into. Most instances will be brought on by natural disasters thereby plunging any individual without access to most anything. Unless you plan on carrying one with you wherever you go or may be. I always carry a knife, my wits and skills.

  • Barrmac

    A grizzly Bears heart only beats at about 16 beats per minute, keep in mind that they can still travel 100 yards with a hole in their heart! The Safety Back-up for game personnel that Tranq and tag bears is a 12 gauge with slugs. Guides tend to like a shotgun to find a wounded Grizzly in the bush when their clients mess up. You can cast a Lee twelve gauge slug and set it in a Winchester white wad and use a standard star crimp on a plastic low brass 23/4 hull in twelve gauge. A lee hand loading package will fit in your Pack. My brush pushing rifle was a Savage 24V in 30-30/20 gauge. Before Hornady Leverevolution came into being, I could load a 165 grain boat tail in the single shot barrel and a slug in the shotgun Barrel. Thank you Hornady and keep up the good work. New inserts for 45 colt or 44 Mag with rifling and 410 sleeves make the double barrel a good choice now as I have not seen a 24V in a gun store for quite a while! Have fun and be safe!!

  • Barrmac

    You can always check out "Short Lane" ( for the rifled or unrifled adapters that sell for under 30 dollars and up. They also sell pouched assortments to add versatility.

  • Chris Watson

    i want one or two looks great for the camper or boat ,truck,car, bike

  • Chris Watson

    where can i get one and who much

  • Don George

    If I had live on the land and once shelter was in order my choice would be an overunder 12ga and rifle combo maybe a 3006 over 12ga but eveen a single shot 12ga would be enough to live on , some No.6 shot and some slugs throw in a bag of Double 00 buck and I would besafe and eat well to now all I need is a safe water source and I'm set lol plus I would just steer clear of the bears and lions ..

  • Scott

    I have one of these and I love it. Breaks down small for my back pack or trunk. I took the top rail off and put a flashlight down below. Take it with me everytime I go camping. Great ideas here :).

  • okto

    Where are the barrels for the alternate calibers? You can't just fire a 22LR down a shotgun barrel and expect it to work.

    Did the person who built this even understand how guns work?

    • bob

      God, you should learn how to read before you post. Seriously??? "Does the person who built this even understand how guns work"

      no probably not, the guy just built an awesome gun, got it published in a large magazine and doesn't even know how guns work…

      Its called caliber or chamber adapters, which he mentions in the build. Once again read before posting

    • j

      The barrel inserts are made to house the alternate round and fit it into the 12 gauge slot, thats why they are all the width of a 12 gauge shell

  • Ben Enjerry

    I wouldn’t pick a Stoeger platform to bet my life on. If I wanted something similar, I would trick up an old Stevens 311. A better platform and I know it will go “bang” when it needs to.

  • Mike

    Don’t get to excited I put my order in 6 months ago. Still waiting.

  • Chris

    Man a instructional video would of been great.

  • Tom Thuenen

    No ones answered the Q about where to get one of these. Why are they not on the market, I’d buy one. Does the compass have low light ability? It suck to get lost at night, when hunting Zombies.

    • Dylan Bowman

      I believe this gun isn’t available for sale. It is a custom built gun that someone made for every type of survival situation. Trust me I would love to find out where I can buy this gun. I’ve done some research and no luck yet

      • Tom Thuenen

        You would think with the zombie Apocalypse crazy going on someone would market something like this. I’ve see a you vid of a guy saying you need FOUR guns to survive. That’s too much weight to carry.. Two would be the limit. A “survival shotgun” like this and a revolver. I know people will say a semi-auto is better but for durability and ease of maintenance, a good revolver is better. It teaches trigger discipline, you’ve only got 6 shots. Better make them count.

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