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.
Junk in the Trunk
Having accessories in the buttstock is a must for any survival gun, so we drilled some new holes to house not only a caliber conversion kit but also two thermoplastic waterproof tubes that carry everything from spare gun parts to fishing equipment. For easy access, we replaced the stock pad with a slip-on LimbSaver. Go to limbsaver.com
Find Your Way Home
OK, so we ripped off this idea from Daisy and A Christmas Story. Having a compass in your pocket is a good idea, but having a compass in the stock is far better. You'll never forget it or lose it here.
Sure, we always carry a lighter into the backcountry, but a secondary method is always a good idea. With this addition, lighting a fire is only a strike away with a firesteel inlaid permanently into the forearm.
A Tool for Any Task
Our micro tool takes up no space in the forend. Held in place by a magnet, it is in no danger of falling out from even the heaviest recoil.
The model we used is no longer available, but a mini Leatherman would work just fine. Go to leatherman.com
Let There Be Light
The Insight light/laser combo is excellent for night shooting or finding the trail after dark (take it off the rail and use it as a flashlight) and runs on AA batteries, which are easy to find anywhere. Go to eotech-inc.com
For iron sights we installed an XS Tritium front bead with a Williams base and an XS shallow V-notch rear Express Sight, just in case we needed to follow up a wounded leopard at night. (Don't laugh; it could happen.) Go to xssights.com
We topped the whole package off with a Blackhawk cartridge sling and cheek pad/pouch for extra ammo storage as well as a Picatinny-mounted sling attachment. Best of all, the sling attachment has a built in bottle opener for when you finally find your way back to civilization. Go to blackhawk.com
With the addition of chamber inserts, this gun has the ability to shoot every shotshell from 12 down to .410. It can also shoot .22 LR, .22 Mag., 9mm, .38 Spl./.357 Mag., .44 Spl./.44 Mag., as well as .45 Long Colt. All proved sufficient enough to take game at ranges up to 25 yards. Go to gunadapters.com
An optic on a survival shotgun might be overkill, but for precise placement of slugs or when using chamber inserts, a quality sight helps find the mark. We picked the Trijicon SRS, because it is durable as hell, has a wide field of view, and, most importantly, has solar backup. Go to trijicon.com