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Henry Mare's Leg (courtesy

Major Van Harl USAF Ret writes [via]

I have a small farm in the middle of nowhere that the Colonel and I have owned for thirty years. After two military careers we now actually live in the same state as the farm so we get there a lot more often. However I still do not have indoor plumbing. I built a wooden outhouse back in 1985 and it has continued to be in use to this day. A year ago we build a $2000 new metal outhouse ( read Happiness Is A $2000 Outhouse Off The Grid), but it is still an outhouse and you have to walk about 50 yards from our barn to use the outdoor facilities . . .

It is fine in the day time and when the electricity is working, but let the power go out and it is mighty dark in our little valley. Even on a moonlit night, with the stars out you cannot see more that fifty feet in front of you. If you had to use the outhouse in the middle of the night there is a chance you might run into something or someone you don’t really want to inter act with.

For me the answer is to carry a firearm to the outhouse, but there is still that problem of identifying and sighting in on the perpetrator of danger in the dark.

I was testing two Henry Repeating Arms firearms out at the farm and took along a couple of iProtec firearm lights ( One was the iProtec LG220 which is a 220 lumen LED light with a universal mount and the other was the iProtec LG 110 which is a 110 lumen LED shotgun light and red laser, also with the universal mount.

The universal mount lets you clamp the light onto almost any rifle or shotgun. Before I attached the iProtec lights to a firearm I turned off all the building lights on the farm and started to shine the lights into the small valley my place sits in. With the iProtec LG 110 I could spot man or animal size objects about 100 yards out. Using the iProtec 220 this increased viewing by 50 plus percent and gave a much wider lighting of the valley.

iProtec LG 110 LED Firearm Light (courtesy

So if a herd of “walkers” were to be coming down the hill from the west side of the valley, headed to my outhouse, I could make them out in plenty of time to sight them in, and take appropriate action. The two firearms I was testing were the Henry AR-7 22LR Survival Rifle and the Henry Mare’s Leg Lever Action Pistol in 357 mag.

I clamped the iProtec LG 220 to the barrel of the AR-7. Turned off all the building electric lights, switching on the LG 220, sweeping the valley, I starting engaging some targets set up 50 to 80 yards out. No problems hitting any of the targets.

I then put the iProtec LG 110 LED Firearm Light with the laser sight on the AR-7. It is not an adjustable laser since the LG 110 is for a shotgun, but using only the laser to sight in on the targets and not using the rifle sights I was still able to hit all of my man size targets. I was holding inch and a half groups off-hand with the Mare’s Leg in the day light.

The question was how to use this distinctively unique firearm as a close-in protection weapon, without having to raise it to normal sighting heights.

Van Harls Crapper Outhouse
Van Harl’s Crapper, be sure and knock.

I clamped the iProtec LG 110 to the front of the Henry Mare’s Leg. I set up a silhouette target 35 yards from the outhouse. Stepping out of the outhouse in almost total darkness I could not see the silhouette. I turned on the light of the LG 110 to find the target and then the laser to acquire the target center. Then I put six rounds into the center of the silhouette, holding the Mare’s Leg at waist level and relying on the laser sight.

Checking my pattern I complained to my brother-in-law Dave that I was disappointed with a 6-8 inch group of rounds on target. His response was “you’re not trying to ambush “walkers”, you’re just holding ground at your outhouse.”

Brother Dave was correct. The goal was to be able to exit my outhouse in the middle of the night, locate the threat, sight in the danger and engage if necessary to protect myself. Extrapolating from that, if you have a Mare’s Leg and the iProtec LG 110 light & laser I would suggest this could become a very effect home defense tool. A combined mechanical team that would work extremely well in the tight, close quarters of a home, if evil came knocking in the middle of the night.

Should you ever need to use the above two Henry firearms for what I call “social purposes” I strongly suggest CCI 22LR Stinger Hyper Velocity Ammo for the AR-7, and seven rounds of Buffalo Bore’s 38 Spl + P Outdoorsman 20H/20 ammunition for the Mare’s Leg (it gives you that one extra round in the magazine). The ammo and the guns are the most unique in the firearms industry and both can save your day from danger.

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  1. First thought of an m590 with a flashlight integrated into the handguard (it’s something we’ve got waiting as well).

    Basically any shotgun with a light would be my first suggestion, unless you’re more comfortable with another platform.

    • Circa 1955 my granddad used a pump .22 and a normal flashlight set loose in the crease of his hat, shooting possum on the farm in LA.

  2. G20 gen 4 W streamlight tlr1 with heavier loads.

    Light, expedient, powerful, light for proper illumination, and it’ll cover the whole engagement range and target variety. I mean, it’s not like you even have to conceal it.

  3. Remington 870 home defense 12 gauge with a stream light tlr4 light lazer mounted on the magazine tube. Side saddle for 6 more rounds If needed. You can now crap in peace……

    • A lot of folks here live in freakin fantasy land. You need that .500 S&W or Desert Eagle for grizzly defense though most of us have never even seen a grizzly in the wild. You need an M1A with a thermal imaging scope, and half a dozen 20 round magazines to take a nighttime crap.

      Nonsense! Short of teotwawki (or you living somewhere unusually dangerous like Alaskan bush or near Mexico border), just slip your edc J-frame/G26/LC9 etc. into your pocket and grab any old flashlight when taking your outhouse crap. I’ve never carried anything bigger than a 9mm when backpacking through the Rocky or Cascade mountains, and yet somehow I’ve survived.

      You can carry whatever gun you want to the crapper, but I may laugh at you.

  4. The mares leg is a pretty good one. I was gonna suggest a revolver with a mounted light. Load 2 cylinders with snake shot and you’re ready for anything (within reason)

  5. I have a problem with the concept of confronting an unknown number of bad guys in the dark, 50 yards from your house, by turning on a really bright light to let them know exactly where you are. Unless that metal pirvy is made of armor plate you can hide behind, this seems like a really bad idea. Against four-legged opponents, not so much.

    I would recommend the Acme M-42 gen 300 Thunder Mug.

    • The realities of going out into the dark, especially under circumstances of little or no ambient light, are that a light of some kind, even if just to light the way, is necessary. The problem I have is using a weapon mounted light to make your way through to your destination, whether an outhouse, the barn, or out to see what the dog is barking at, is that you’re now aiming the gun at something that, in all likelihood, you don’t want to shoot at, i.e, the outhouse/barn/dog/etc, Weapon mounted lights are fine but that light should be secondary to a powerful handheld or headlamp, or both. I live 40 miles from town and, while I have indoor plumbing, when venturing outside on a cloudy/moonless night I’ve got my Surefire Maximus on my head, and some combination of weapon/light combo, i.e., rifle/mounted light or handgun/handheld light. That’s just me though.

      • For under $50, you could mount a solar powered, motion detector spot light or two, on the roof…one to light your way and one to light up out yonder…red filters don’t kill your night vision and built In timers turn them off between 30 seconds and 5 minutes…plus a short barrel 12ga or 20ga. with a mounted light and bird, buck and slugs of your choice, would be my vote.

    • You make a valid point. However, it seems to me that he is preparing for the more likely of the two scenarios and it appears that in the remote area that he lives the four legged variety of intruder is a more likely scenario. I would suggest moving into a 44mag or better yet a 45/70 guide gun.

      • ^ This.

        A .44 Magnum Mare’s Leg lever-action “handgun” with a 13 inch barrel should launch full-power 240 grain jacketed soft point bullets at something like 1,700 feet per second. At close range, that will do incredible damage to all four-legged aggressors in North America. Needless to say, those ballistics are quite literally overkill for human attackers.

      • He makes several references to “walkers” which means he’s either a “Walking Dead” fan or he’s use a euphemism for what used to be referred to as wetbacks. IMO, you either don’t want to advertise your location to these folks, or you don’t want them to know where your outhouse is. Either scenario could get messy.

      • The “most likely scenario” is he needs the light to keep from busting his butt on the way to the crapper, every time, the gun is just excess weight.

    • Spoken like a man who has spent some time using outhouses and has an idea of the dangerous creatures likely to actually be encountered.

      A vacuum cleaner is more likely to enable you to safely kill what you need killed than a firearm. Not that I ever object to being armed.

      I also highly recommend union suits as sleepwear, the perfect garment for late night trips to the outhouse. If you’re competent enough to operate the trapdoor without any mishaps, they’re very handy. They keep your rear end warm as you sit on the toilet, as you have fabric between the toilet seat and your cheeks as you sit. For really cold weather, make a toilet seat out of styrofoam. It doesn’t get cold. In my last outhouse, I also installed a bookshelf and an inexpensive ($20-30) toilet bidet to greatly reduce toilet paper use and increase cleanliness.

  6. 12 or 20 gauge pump with #4 buck and slugs on a side saddle.

    Put a sling on it and duct tape a good flash light to the barrel.

    That’s basically how my HD weapon is set up, but that make sense cause I poop inside.

  7. Eh. As soon as I read steel outhouse, I didn’t care anymore.

    Everyone knows if you’re going to get a custom outhouse, you need to take the proverbial out of it and build an actual brick sh!7house.

  8. A special gun just to go the outhouse on an extra property you own in addition to your primary domicile – talk about first world problems. Not that I begrudge anyone for being prosperous. If you can afford a farm/ranch and a special gun just to defecate in a shed rock on, but may I suggest a bed pan and flashlight? Alternatively, a glow stick and a bucket marked “For Excretion Only”.

    Where is said property? Cuz in the middle of winter in many parts of U.S. Inc., cold is the greatest (and most likely) antagonist you will face.

    • Snark aside, you make a great point. Depending on where in the country you are, different threats emerge. If I were in central TX, I’d want a 22 revolver with shot shells – it’s the little critters like snakes that I’d be worried about. Out here in Houston, I’d want something larger – probably a 10mm, for the hogs. Southern Texas, I’m using a full HD shotgun since border crossers are your biggest threat (sometimes the crossers, usually the coyote with them)

      • And in North Dakota in February, the biggest hazard connected with an outhouse is snapping-off the icicle too close to the origination point…

  9. You could have saved $1985. $15 would have gotten you the most excellenr Humanure handbook from author Joseph Jenkins.

    In short: Buy or build a Loveable Loo, i.e., toilet seat, a box and a 5 gallon bucket in said box. Poop and pee in lovable loo and cover with saw dust or peat moss. When bucket is full take out to your aerobic compost pile that you built with salvaged wood pallets. When compost pile is full, conf and cut for 1 year and enjoy compost for your farm.

    This prevents you from going to your house at 2 am. Which will prevent having a gunfight at outhouse. Which guarantees you will win the gunfight you never have to be involved in at said outhouse.


  10. The best gun for a run to an outhouse in the middle of the night? I am torn between a LARGE revolver with a 6+ inch barrel and a lever-action rifle with a 16 inch barrel — both in .44 Magnum.

    I like the revolver because you can wield/shoot it with one hand and hold any light of your choosing in your other hand.

    I like the lever-action rifle because you shoot it two-handed for greatly improved accuracy. And yet a rifle with 16 inch barrel is extremely short and compact. Of course you would most likely need to mount a light to a rifle.

    And I like .44 Magnum because full-power loads have a significant probability of stopping any four-legged aggressor in North America — especially multiple rounds with hardcast lead bullets if necessary. And yet you can load down to .44 Special which provides ample stopping power for most four-legged aggressors. Of course both .44 Special and .44 Magnum are more than adequate for promptly stopping human attackers at close range.

    Note: .44 Special cartridges out of 16 inch barrels produce about the same velocities as full power .357 Magnum cartridges launching bullets out of 6 inch revolver barrels … which means 200 grain hollowpoint bullets with muzzle velocities on the order of 1,200 fps — devastating ballistics for human attackers.

  11. It occurs to me that if the 50 yard trip is considered that hazardous on a dark night the chances are any loud noise would eliminate (no pun) the need to continue the walk and create a need to find a way to do laundry where you have no indoor plumbing.

    • Those would work great, but they’re also pretty close to the top of the list of things you REALLY don’t want to accidentally drop in the hole…

  12. That’s good Buffalo Bore ammo. The thing to remember about Henry lever action firearms in .357 magnum is that they are indeed designed for .357 magnum. You can use .38 SPL in them, BUT they must come close to .357’s dimensions. Otherwise, the .38 SPL will fire on the first round and fail to eject; jamming up like an SOB.

    So that means always use 158 grain if you’re using 38 SPL, just as .357 would be 158 grain. If you 124 grain or other 38 SPL, expect significant inconvenience, frustration and risk of damage during extraction/jam clearing.

    Two final points: I’m not definitive about the nose. Flat nose .38 SPL matches .357, but round nose .38 SPL is fairly flat, anyway, and works in my Henry lever rifle. I don’t know about the Mare’s leg in .357. Also, regardless of grain or caliber, never use aluminum cased ammo in the Henry lever guns, just brass.

    • Ha! That’s what I was thinking, too. I love me some Henry guns, but the AR-7 and Mare’s Leg have got to be two of the most gimmicky guns on the market. Not that they’re not both fun to shoot, but those two would be in a dead heat for last place of go-to self-defense guns on my list.

      If you’re limiting yourself to six or seven shots of .38 or .357 anyway, just use a revolver.

  13. $2K for an outhouse? I think I spent about $100 on mine, and its been our everyday…um…use for eight years.

    The outhouse gun though is a CX4 in 9mm most of the time.

    • I think I spent zero on mine. Some windfall pine trunks for the frame and some scrounged plywood for the walls. I had the corrugated sheet tin for the roof already. I am always armed so I need no special gun just for the pooper, and if I am unfortunate enough to have to drop a deuce at night I already have a light. (Just piss in a jar and you don’t even have to get out of bed so you save a trip and a potential gunfight)

      • Yeah, when I was a kid and my sister was about ten we found out she had been using a pee bucket in her upstairs room…..when she kicked it over and it started running through the floorboards. I’ve never condoned them since, although when my wife was pregnant I did giver special dispensation to have one on her side of the bed.

        I actually don’t usually carry on the way to the crapper but some nights when the dog is barking and the cats fur is standing on end it just feels better…we do get bears here all summer long.

  14. Let me be the lazy one, and say I’m not humping a full size HD shotgun or lever gun out to go #2. If large critters are a concern, a magnum revolver in your choice of caliber should be sufficient for animals, both 2 and 4 legged. A few have mentioned a G20 in 10mm, which would be my first choice.

    Being an apartment dweller, I’m looking at not over-penetrating. Still in the market for a nice used Five Seven for those purposes.

  15. I’d like a review on those lights. They’re priced way cheaper than other weapon-mounted lights but are they decent? Do they stand up to recoil?

    • They probably are given that all my weapon mounted lights came from a no name five pack at costco and come to about $5 each, all have withstood hundreds of rounds, including the 12 gauge.

  16. I’ll KISS and do a 4 or 6″ S&W 686 with 7 in the cylinder. If I’m going all crazy it’ll be a Night Guard or N frame model with 8 in the cylinder. I don’t think that’s too absurd. If I were bound to a semi auto, I’d be inclined to do the tacticool thing and have something in 10mm with some rounds stacked up.

  17. Damn.

    I’m glad I’ve trained my gut for once daily usually mid-day…

    Happiness is elimination on the company’s time. 🙂

  18. One of three firearms would be my choice

    -a Marlin 45/70 with WWG light mount and weapon light
    -a Marlin 1894 44 mag with same light mount ( if no bears)
    -or Rem 870 with buckshot if bad guys are your main worry

    They would all be great and use a low powered red flashlight to find your way to and from the outhouse with a guide rope setup that way you save the weapon light for a surprise.

  19. My grandma did not have indoor plumbing until 1972. She was against it’s installation then! These were the days of ‘bedpans’ and no heat other that a coal or wood stove[the price varied year to year].

    Drawing water from the well was a privilege for us kids!

    Going out on a frosty morning to the outhouse. Frost all over the plants. Winding down the path of gardens as my grandmother had a green thumb . These were some of those defining memories I have!

    IMHO outhouses went the way of the dinosaur for reasons unrelated to what one might think. You see, back then we had no toilet paper. Believe it or not we used the Sears catalog! Yep! It was printed on absorbent paper back then and every home with a postal address got one! The Montgomery Ward catalog was the backup! Thinner but not as long lasting as the giant Sears Roebuck offering.

    So….you read a few pages…’used’ them for cleanup [never tore out the womens underwear section BTW!] put them down the hole followed by a scoop of lime…no! Not the fruit! This lime would kill anything!

    …and why did the outhouse go down…..well….down the toilet so to speak?

    Well, remember the Sears Roebuck catalog? Sears started using ‘slick’ paper. At first only a few dozen pages…..but after a few years the WHOLE CATALOG was printed this way!

    Well, ‘slick’ paper just did not do ‘the job’ if you get my drift…..

    So…..the outhouse became extinct!

    Almost taking Sears with it!

    And what firearm to take to this venerable throne? Make it a warm one please!

  20. This article of outhouses and choice of guns is ridiculous.
    The place sounds very remote.
    Do the criminals even know where this place is?
    Why not just piss in the lawn?
    Chamber pot or Stansport indoor portable potty?
    Worst choice of guns ever for defense against animals of 2 legged or 4 legged type.
    The type of guns are a poor choice for a mini-farm as well. Real shotguns and rifles would be better.
    Probably the Brown Recluse spiders are a larger threat.
    Sounds like a bunch of city dwellers.

  21. I’d bring a cash cannon to the nearest contractor and shoot money at him until he put some darned plumbing in the house. This isn’t the dark ages or even the 1970’s when apparently you might still hope that Sears didn’t print the catalogue on shiny paper.


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