If You’re Only Going To Own One Gun, Make it a Shotgun

National Guard Remington 870

National Guard Remington 870 Shotgun (Travis Pike for TTAG)

No firearm beats the humble shotgun in terms of sheer ability and versatility. If you were only going to own one gun, a shotgun is the best choice.

Granted, one wants to be careful about saying anything that appears to be in agreement with Joe Biden. However, it’s also the case that Joe Biden’s Social Security number is 2. Ramses II signed his high school yearbook (which was part of the Dead Sea scrolls) promising they’d hang out that summer, though they never did. He rushed the same frat as Methuselah. His dementia was recently diagnosed with a case of dementia of its own.

Remington 870 Shotgun

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Those Biden jokes are probably in poor taste, and besides – Milton Berle made all of them about Joe back in the ’50’s.

So, why is a shotgun the best type of gun to have if you’re only going to have one gun? Here are a few reasons:

Economy, reliability, efficacy, customizability and ubiquity. No other firearm platform gives you the same combination of all these attributes.

Granted, this depends heavily on the shotgun one buys, of course. A Holland & Holland best double is certainly reliable and effective, but it isn’t cheap and the only customizing that should be permitted by God or man of such a piece of craftsmanship is getting the stock custom fitted or the action engraved by a smith of commensurate skill.

And if one of you Bubbas out there dares to besmirch, sully, befoul, denigrate or otherwise think of doing anything tactical to a fine double gun, we will hunt you down.

But I digress.

As to the shotgun’s economy, a barebones pump-action smoothbore doesn’t cost much.

Credit: US Gov’t/Wikimedia Commons

You can pick up a reliable Plain Jane pump gun for as little as $150. Sometimes less. Mossberg’s import label – Maverick – runs as little as $200. You can get into an imported semi-automatic for as little as $350 or so.

As to ubiquity, a shotgun is fundamentally very simple. Therefore, one can be used by nearly anyone. Push safety off, put the bead on the target and let ’em have it. Pump, and repeat.

Yes, some training in how to shoot is always a good idea, but shotguns are ridiculously intuitive. To get decently skilled with a handgun takes a fair amount of time and practice. But almost anybody can be combat-effective with a shotgun in…practically minutes, as far as home defense purposes go.

Ammo is available everywhere…even in places that don’t like selling it. Sure, you might not always be able to find a specific load and shot size, but you won’t usually have problems locating 00 buck. Unlike the suckers who can’t find 5.7mm or .357 SIG, the owner of a 12 gauge will never want for ammunition.

As to ubiquity, the shotgun is also the most versatile firearm for hunting there is. From small game to big game, shotguns can darn near do it all. If you get a combination gun — or one that has aftermarket options — you can add a rifled barrel for use with slugs to go with your smoothbore.

The 500 Combo Field/Deer shotgun (Credit: Mossberg)

Literally all North American game can and has fallen to a shotgun. Granted, marksmanship and ammunition selection are also critical, but the point stands: you can do more with a shotgun than any other type of firearm when it comes to hunting.

Which, of course, also speaks to efficacy. The shotgun is, as Bill Jordan put it, the queen of personal defense weapons. When it comes to putting bad guys down at self defense ranges, few guns are as effective as a shotgun that’s loaded with 00 buckshot.

Eight .33 caliber pellets per load (Credit: Ninjatoth/Wikimedia Commons)

There is, of course, no guarantor of a one-shot-stop short of a punt gun (or perhaps an anti-aircraft gun; ever see “The Jackal”? It’s a godawful movie, but that gun was cool) but a 12 or 20 gauge scattergun with a heavy buckshot load is darn hard to snap back from.

As to reliability…even with a modicum of care — and frequently without it — shotguns last decades. Semi-autos are a bit more touchy, of course, but pump-action and double guns have a lifespan as long as most humans. You may need to change a spring here or there, but they can be kept in working order for a very long time.

Another benefit, of course, is the customizability. Depending on the platform, a shotgun can be customized to almost no end. Many manufacturers offer multiple configurations from standard 26- and 28-inch barrel models like our grandfathers all had, to tacticool terrors.

You can swap the standard stock for an AR-15-style stock or whatever you might imagine. Optics, lasers, lights, extended magazine tubes, all kinds of muzzle brakes…it’s all out there. You can take a $300 Mossy and turn it into something that belongs in a video game that takes place in Los Angeles a dystopian future.

To sum up, if you’re only going to have one gun, a shotgun is the best possible choice. No other firearm platform is as easy to use, as reliable under most conditions, as endlessly useful, or as effective for the greatest number of purposes as a shotgun.

What do you think though? Sound off in the comments.

comments

  1. avatar D says:

    The shotgun is the worst possible choice if you will only have one gun.

    You can not:
    -carry concealed
    -use it effectively in a vehicle
    -use it effectively to get you family to a safe room in an emergency. (try shooting one while opening doors, transgressing doorways and using light switches, holding a child, etc.)

    While not as effective, a pistol is the best all around firearm if you will have only one gun.

    TTAG needs better writers.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      Shotgun can do in one shot what a pistol might do in 2 or 3.

      1. avatar d says:

        I agree. Did you even read my post?????????????????

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          D,

          Shotgun and a sidearm. That’s a powerful combo.

        2. avatar Art out West says:

          What is the purpose of the one gun?

          General defensive use – Get a concealable handgun. It can be with you all the time .

          Plinking fun gun. Get a .22 rifle

          Bird hunting. Shotgun

          Home defense – Shotgun if male young and poor, PCC if frail, AR15 for anyone

          Big game hunting – bolt action 30-06

          Homeland security/Militia use – AR15

          TEOTWAWKI Mad Max – AK47 or SKS

          Or you can gradually accumulate all of the above for all of the above reasons.

        3. avatar GS650G says:

          You called a shot gun the worst choice. Far from it.

        4. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

          Be a three gunner,pistol,rifle and shotgun, then most bases are covered.

        5. avatar G says:

          Cough, cough Mossberg shockwave best of both worlds.

      2. avatar BusyBeef says:

        both will immediately stop a hostile if you hit the CNS.
        Train.

    2. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      A handgun is the gun I have immediately available the majority of the time, so I to would say it is my most valuable type.

    3. avatar Arc says:

      One rifle… and only one rifle… it would be a .308 AR10, with both a 16″ rifle upper, a pistol upper, and a pistol “brace” so I can switch between the two. Ammo is plentiful enough and it packs enough power to be effective to 600 yards. Switch configurations and it can be used in a car, hearing damage not withstanding.

      1. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

        My ears are ringing just thinking about a pistol length used indoors/car. Wonder if a lighter powder charge would be effective and still able to cycle.

      2. avatar T-Mass says:

        Pretty sure if you ever put a rifle stock on an AR lower you can’t legally switch back and forth. Obviously it would be hard for anyone to prove it, but if one doesn’t know the law, one might tell them yourself haha

        1. avatar TickTalk says:

          At least in the peoples republic of ca, no.. it depends on how the weapon was ‘born’.. if it came out of the factory, or was first registered as a pistol, you can make it into a rifle. As l long as it is a legal rifle.. long enough, etc.. and you can switch it back to a pistol..
          But if it was originally a rifle, then making it a pistol is making an sbr.. no matter the lengths..

        2. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

          What Tick said is the case federally.

          The Thompson Center decision, where ATF tried to bust Thompson Center for selling an NFA product ruled that a pistol can be made into a rifle and then back into a pistol as long as it is never in an NFA configuration at any time.

          A weapon created as a rifle initially is always a rifle.

        3. avatar Jr says:

          TickTalk
          What if my AR was born a rifle but self identifies as a pistol? CA should be able to understand that language

        4. avatar Arc says:

          TMK an undefined, unmarked, AR lower can be both a pistol or a rifle.

    4. avatar jwm says:

      If your only concern is self defense and you live in a city I agree. The handgun is king. But what if you’re a hunter or a person living out of the city? What about economics? I just bought a new .357 magnum. Nearly a thousand bucks. My Glock was close to 600. There have been times in my life when I was restricted to one gun because of finances and that one gun was cheap. A cheap Mossberg shotgun is miles ahead of a cheap hi point pistol.

      No gun is the mythical ‘1 gun does it all’. But the shotgun gets closer than the rest.

      1. avatar Joel says:

        In my opinion, if you’re only going to have one gun, someone needs to talk you into two…

        One long gun, and one pistol.

        For me, when I’m down to two, my long gun will always be a pump shottie. And my pistol will always be easy to carry.

      2. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

        There are plenty of handguns in the same price range as common shotguns and plenty of shotguns in the price ranges of expensive handguns. Both are also available used.

      3. avatar Arc says:

        You paid $600 for a Glock?! Previous generation pistols sell for much less, police and used market sell for several hundred less.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Arc. I bought new and I live in CA. Fees are included in that price. I believe my total was actually 560 or 80.

    5. avatar Don from CT says:

      Agree 100%. A shotgun is the best gun to defend a position in your home with.

      But not much else.

      How many people know how to go around a corner with a long gun on their weak side??

      1. avatar adverse6 says:

        Me. Granted, I have had some training and experience. Not pleasant.

    6. avatar Jayk74 says:

      I mean technically if one got the right paperwork and paid the gestapo $200, you could get a shotgun and cut down the barrel and stock and have a ccw piece.

    7. avatar Hannibal says:

      Agreed. The shotgun’s versatility is tremendously overrated as a “one gun” type of item. It can do many things well, especially hunting, but it is very poor at some common uses for a gun.

      I’d say that a good semi-auto handgun would be first in line if you really were going to own one gun. Either a compact or duty size gun (depending on size and dress of the operator) in a non-mouse caliber. A look at the articles about bear defense with handguns show how many were achieved with the lowly handgun in a common cartridge (9mm, .40, etc). You don’t need a shotgun to hunt unless it’s birds. And after the handgun I would suggest a rifle. An AR carbine would probably be the most utilitarian. Some might decide on a lightweight .22lr semi-auto.

      There’s a reason the gun community rolls its collective eyes at Joe Biden’s ideas and it’s not because he’s old (but only 3 years older than the current president).

      1. avatar Rad Man says:

        You just ID’d the only styles of guns I own: semiauto pistols, ARs, and mag fed semiauto 22LRs. I don’t need anything else. Of course, I want a bunch of stuff.

    8. avatar JW says:

      Don’t know if TTAG needs better article writers, but the headline writer needs some grammar (or maybe math?) lessons.

      ‘If you’re only going to own gun make it a shotgun’

      Fairly sure there should be a ‘one’ in that headline.

    9. avatar burley says:

      just because you disagree doesn’t mean you’re not wrong.

    10. avatar Thixotropic says:

      YOU are correct.

      BEST choice is an AR PISTOL IN .223 preferably SUPPRESSED with and 8.5 – 10.5″ barrel OR SBR.

    11. avatar Janet Shannon says:

      I sent this to several friends that I have been trying to get them to buy something for home protection. Every home needs a shotgun for Pete’s sake.

  2. avatar GS650G says:

    Shot guns are like golf clubs. Have several for specific uses.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      To a degree, true. I have two…one in a dedicated bird/clay/skeet platform, and the other in a dedicated defense configuration. Between the two, I’m covered.

      The only addition I’d like to maybe consider one day is a cowboy action SxS.

    2. avatar Hannibal and the Elephants says:

      And unlike golf, with firearms you don’t get a penalty of two strokes per hole with a maximum penalty of four strokes for carrying more than 14 clubs, at least not yet!

    3. avatar GS650G says:

      I’ve got a deer shot gun, a sporting clays gun, trap gun and a benelli m1 super 90 for when the lights go out and the phone goes dead.
      I’d like to get a 20 gauge bird gun and a high end OU just because they are works of art.

      Maybe when I retire .

  3. avatar Rambo Shopper says:

    Yeah dude, OWN GUN!

    1. avatar MyName says:

      I was gonna say, “Fix Your Headline”, but your response is better. +1

    2. avatar Rad Man says:

      Does nobody edit before they post an article?

      1. avatar Better Than You says:

        Obviously not, you sock sniffer!

      2. avatar Phil LA says:

        I doe.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          deer nuts. still under a buck.

      3. avatar Jeff in CO says:

        The edit joust kepes gets much moor gooder al the thyme!

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          I’ve got a sore stomach from laughing.

        2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          In an effort to keep the laughter going, I present Mr. Bill Burr on the subject…

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x9iYvyffAh4

          Cheer So!

        3. avatar Jeff in CO says:

          Thanks Tom for keeping it going! Glad some humor was added to this! Hope your stomach is feeling better today!!! 😂

  4. avatar MLee says:

    Personally after all the weapons I’ve owned including semi-auto shot guns, if I was to own just one gun the rest of my life, hands down it would be the .300 blk AR pistol I have. Since it’s a pistol, I can carry it in my car loaded without constraints (your local laws may vary) and I’m at this point not constrained by any capacity law in my state. That may change (Washington)
    It’s a bit large to carry on the body but if I had to, I could. You can’t do that with a shotgun unless it’s a pistol shotgun I suppose but you wouldn’t have range or capacity.

    1. avatar d says:

      Supressed, 300blk AR pistols are my personal defense guns for my house and car. I have 3 for my house and one in my trunk, but they don’t conceal well under a shirt.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Actually, my GHB has both a Glock and a .300 BLK AR pistol. For me, the perfect loadout.

      2. avatar MLee says:

        Since the subject is unrealistic as nobody has to have just one gun, we don’t have to concern ourselves with packing around our .300 ARs under a black trench coat.
        It’s a fun subject though and just like Rice O Roni is a delicious break from potatoes, only one gun is a delicious break from the gun and caliber wars such as .40 vs, 10mm and 9mm and such. That subject is old as dirt.

        1. avatar Ed says:

          10mm though.

    2. avatar arc says:

      .300BLK would be my second choice if I was only afforded one weapon. Ammo availability after a SHTF is why its second…

      As long as its 55*F or lower, a jacket is permissible and an AR pistol would hide well under it.

  5. avatar Carlwinslo says:

    So much fail here

    1. avatar MLee says:

      Yep, it started with your comment.

  6. avatar Cronk says:

    Cronk own club. Club good make bamm bamm keep away bad animals that want eat cronk..
    Cronk no club dirty human get eaten .
    Cronk no want be poop want club that make loud bang

    1. avatar James Campbell says:

      Is that you Ron Gronkowski?

      1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

        Not unless it’s a club made of Legos.

        1. avatar KenW says:

          Ever step on one barefoot? Only thing worse was those metal jacks

  7. avatar Prndll says:

    If I could only have one gun, it would mean I woke up in the wrong country.

      1. avatar James Campbell says:

        Link didn’t work. Was supposed to be the Goodfellas meme, “I got a new gun, the wife asked if I’m selling the “old” one” laughing pic.

        1. avatar Swangin’ Dong says:

          Quiet!

  8. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    If I could only have one gun it would probably be a .22 lr pistol. I could afford too shoot it, small game hunt, use it for carry and self defense if I needed to.

    If I absolutely had to go to 2 guns it would be a 9mm pistol and a shotgun. I could hunt any game animal in my state with a shotgun, home defense and shoot clays.

  9. avatar enuf says:

    If you can only own one gun, own the one you can shoot well and afford to practice with.

    If that happens to be a shotgun, I’d go with the Mossberg 500, 18.5″ barrel. If in an urban or densely populated place like an apartment building, load with #4 Buck shot. At the distances typical in a small dwelling the shot column is still going to be devastating, even if it were bird shot. The #4 Buck is a compromise that isn’t going to cross the street and blast thru the neighbor’s wall.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      LOL, I *just* had this conversation this morning with an LASD firearms instructor. I asked just for fun, “Mossie 500 or Rem 870”?

      Without skipping a beat, he replied, “The 870 all day long. Too many issues with the Mossberg.”

      ****

      Then again, I was in a multi-day shotgun course recently and asked that instructor the same thing. He said “Mossberg…because 870s break and end up only being good for clubbing your attacker to death.”

      1. avatar enuf says:

        Oh yeah! And then there’s the very extra special fan club of the Ithaca model 37 😉

        https://ithacagun.com/product/model-37-home-defense/

        1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

          (south pawed) member of said club here. Good shotguns. Need to get my second one finished up as I was customizing it at a point.

        2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          listen here, you- i resemble that statement.

        3. avatar Dave G. says:

          @ enuf:
          “Oh yeah! And then there’s the very extra special fan club of the Ithaca model 37”

          Amen, bro!

  10. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

    One? 1? Won? Juan?
    Dunno

  11. avatar TP says:

    I agree. I only one a shotgun should be it. Period.

    Now which gauge ?? 12 is obvious but 20 is also great choice, lightweight and less recoil. More .410s being available is also good to see, not everyone is strong and wants to take a beating.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Old school Remington 870 – 20 gauge combo with slug barrel. Makes a fine shotgun for multiple applications. Used it for everything from rabbit to duck to deer/turkey. Damn sure wouldn’t want to take one to any part of the human anatomy. Would leave a Hell of a mess to clean up. For me if only one gun. AR-15 with multiple length barrels 7.5, 10.5 and 16. Along with 500lbs. of tannerite. Make BOOM.

    2. avatar adverse6 says:

      A 12 ga using standard load 00 buck has very little recoil. I’m 5’4 and 140#. (Ok, 20# over my ABN days). Understand if physically handicapped might have problem with any firearm. But, this notion of recoil from a 12 ga. firing 2 3/4″ std 00 buck is BS.

  12. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

    If you look at it from the perspective of you only get one gun and you have no idea what you’re going to need it for, I think the shotgun ticks the most boxes. I prefer pump action mossberg.

  13. avatar DB Cooper says:

    If I could only have one gun, it would be a Glock. Caliber doesn’t matter as long as it was a Glock. Yes, they are that good..

    1. avatar enuf says:

      Worst possible choice. Be better off with a Hi-Point.

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      <SNARK OFF

  14. avatar Cadeyrn says:

    Here we see the divide between relatively urban areas and places much farther into the country where there’s a lot more space to cover and a lot less chance of over-penetration and harming others unintentionally.

    Personally, if I couldn’t reach out to my property line, I would see that as a problem. There’s no need to let trouble waltz up to your front door. A bull-barrel (police model) Remington 700 drives tacks and can reach out to maximum visual recognition range or beyond with a good scope. Yes, over-penetration is an issue. Yes, it is very cumbersome indoors and is bolt-action and has a 5-shot hinge-plat well mag. No, you’re not going to put down a herd of feral hogs or coyotes – maybe 1 or 2 before the rest skedaddle. No, it’s not really good against up-close human intruders. Yes, it passes muster with even the grabbiest states.

    A shottie is fine but if it is being fired from inside the house it is going to be cumbersome and really wreck everything and require extensive repairs. Over-penetration may or may not be an issue but presumably you have family inside and the sound of discharge of a 12 GA is going to damage everyone whether it is inadvertently aimed in their direction or not.

    You can get a super-accurate .357 wheelgun, load it with .38s for practice, get accurate with it all starting from around $600 and up. They generally don’t miss at in-house ranges if you do your part and are much more handy in the house or outbuildings . Hollowpoints or frangibles are less likely to over-penetrate. They can be stored safely for a very long time.

    The only difference is the grabby states tend to make handguns of all types illegal or put them on registries so they can collect them whenever they coerce enough votes. Shotguns and bolt actions tend to be more available and less restricted. Your mileage may vary.

  15. avatar Geoffrey says:

    the only one gun argument is a double edged sword, there is no good way not to cut yourself, In an urban setting a shotgun clearly has setbacks, in a rural setting some of the setbacks are offset, in a survival situation a shot gun clearly has it strengths, with the options of interchangeable barrels from smooth bore to rifled, barrel lengths and choke configurations, to ammo selection a shot gun is the true jack of all trades that can do a little bit of everything adequately , but only really does one or two things very well,

    1. avatar Hannibal and the Elephants says:

      That is why I also keep a sharp broad sword. No risk of over penetration and hitting my sleeping neighbors. And if the sight of a half naked long haired Nordic looking guy rushing at and screaming at them while swinging a broad sword over his head isn’t enough to make them run for the hills (no hills within hundreds of mile from here), there is always a SIG, Beretta, S&W, Glock (loaded with +P JHP) or whatever was doing nightstand duty on my hip.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Half naked? Pfffft. I do the full monty at night. Fish belly white fat old man coming out of the dark at you buck nekkid.

        1. avatar adverse6 says:

          Thanks, I didn’t need that mental image.

  16. avatar former water walker says:

    Yeah I used to believe in the shotgun mantra. Now I don’t. I always have a semiautomatic handgun with me. And I shoot my AR a helluva lot more than I ever did my shotgun. I want a relatively expensive semiautomatic shotgun. Probably won’t happen. WHEN I had one gun it was a shottie.

  17. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Phbthpbth…

    First, last I checked, this is America (aka ‘Murica!). Who the hell only intends to ever own one gun?!? Second, if you’re naive enough to think that’s all you’ll ever want or need, start with a .22LR (handgun or rifle). Probably a better choice for the zombie apocalypse anyway. 12ga ammo is too bulky and too heavy for that. Otherwise, find the niche that’s most important to fill (home defense, concealed carry, hunting, etc.) and start with that and as soon as you can afford to expand your collection to 2 or 3, have at it.

    1. avatar hawkeye says:

      +1, guv. The only reason to own a single firearm, is if it’s your first firearm. Mine was a .22LR bolt rifle, still have it. With it, I learned that the best way to harvest critters without wasting ammo was to plug ’em in the head while they’re sitting still. Squirrels in the hickories or beeches, groundhogs in the hay/bean fields, rabbits in the fencerows, or crows in the corn. Once I got my stalking skills sorted, I moved up to a no-name .410 single shot. Took up wingshooting as a new challenge, because cash became a bit less scarce by then and ammo restrictions were lessened. Had to be really quick on the mount with that thing, because my uncle had sawn off the end of the barrel to remove a split where the brass bead was broken off, and it had no choke remaining. Bumped up to a 20 gauge single, much more satisfactory. Then a .45 Hawken, a JC Higgins 12 ga. pump (oh my, was that one sweet) and .22LR auto from my grandfather, and a progression of others that led up to where I am now, teaching my wife and daughter how to shoot black rifles and handguns.

      So yes, one is ok if it’s your first one.

  18. avatar Dave says:

    Don’t forget to oppose the ATF today.

    https://www.gunowners.org/na02152020

  19. avatar Specialist38 says:

    One gun ? For me, 357 with a 3 or 4 inch barrel.

    That said …..As a utility gun around the house and land…..a shotgun is mighty handy for a lot of things.

    Ir just leaves much to be desired as a one-gun solution.

  20. avatar Me says:

    Pistols are great, but they lack the shotguns versatility. I started hunting last year and took a rabbit, a squirrel a grouse and a deer with my Mossberg 590A1…a tactical shotgun that would also be in my hands if something goes bump in the night.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Do you carry around a shotgun when you go to the drug store?

      Versatility isn’t just about shooting. It’s about having something TO shoot when you didn’t know you would need to.

      1. avatar burley says:

        I think we should probably start carrying a shotgun everywere we go, get the rest of the folks used to it again. Once upon a time one could go just about anywhere with a long gun…

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Substitute Turkey for grouse and I’ve taken all those animals with a 357 Smith and Wesson.

      38 Wadcutters for the small stuff and a 125 to 158 grain 357 for the larger. Could probably push a little bigger with 180 hard cast hamdloads.

      Biggest advantage is that I can carry it concealed if needed.

  21. avatar NORDNEG says:

    If I could only have one gun, it would definitely be a shotgun, it depends on the situation, A good pistol + a shotgun for most situations, & a shotgun & a rifle for longer shot situations. Believe me, I’ve been in those situations, . Shotguns are point & shoot, very good close situation weapon, every thing else depends on what your goal is.

  22. avatar David Stark says:

    How about if your going to write an article you get the title right…

    1. avatar Tom in NC says:

      *you’re

  23. avatar Sam Hill says:

    I guess none of you, including the author of the one gun article, ever heard of the “Judge”? Revolver, 410 gauge, bird shot, or deer slug, 45 long Colt. Easy concealed, easy carried, makes an Annie Oakley out of a soccer mom. May not neutralize a threat out to six hundred yards but outside of war, no home invasion going to be that far away and if you did manage to take someone out now that far away I want to hear the story you tell the jury. Btw “Judge ” made by Taurus. A very easy keeper, low maintenance, eat whatever.

    1. avatar Random says:

      How about a circuit judge loaded with lehigh (prob spelled it wrong) extreme expansion rounds. Check out shooting the bull 410’s video on them.

  24. avatar Sam Hill says:

    Wow, ttag getting PC, moderators now.

  25. avatar Joe says:

    “Going To Own Gun” 👍

  26. avatar Phil LA says:

    Only one gun?

    Taurus Judge or S&W Governor: Jack of all trades but master of none. Still, versatile enough for most situations.

    Me personally? G19.

  27. avatar Aven says:

    When I was growing up in the 60s and early 60s deep in the isolated sparsely populated mountains, everyone had a 12 or 16 gauge single shot shotgun. Rifles were rare and handguns even rarer. We paid under $30 for a new one and shells were about a dime each. Nobody shot for practice so the chances of hitting what we were aiming at was greater with a shotgun. The shotgun was good for everything we needed from shooting varmints, snakes, rabbits squirrels, deer aas well as protection against people who wanted to rob us or do us harm. A shotgun provided food and protection better than anything else and at a very affordable price.

  28. avatar Bob says:

    Whatever you do don’t buy anything made less than 20 yrs ago, all the newer ones have too much plastic

  29. avatar UpInArms says:

    I’ve had a Mossberg Persuader in my closet for over 20 years now, and I think I’ve fired the damn thing maybe 6 times in my life. The thing is, I hate it. I hate the recoil, I hate the weight, I hate the (lack of) balance, I hate the action, I hate the lack of accuracy. No dis on Mossberg — I just hate shotguns. If I hate it that much, I’m not going to use it. And I don’t. So why would that be my choice for my only gun? Give me a rifle — any rifle — or a pistol — any pistol — any time.

    I’m thinking of running a few mini-shells through it. Maybe that will help, but I’m not optimistic.

    1. avatar Ron says:

      I think a lot of people share that same sentiment. If you’re willing to spend the money though, a good semi auto shotgun like a Benelli, berretta, or browning are very nice and balanced shooters. But, they do cost more then what most people are able to pay.

  30. avatar Matt says:

    A good gun to start with would be a pistol. That way you can carry it with you. It can be used to protect you at home or while you’re at the grocery store or the bank. Having a pistol on your body always is better than having a shotgun only at home.

    1. avatar Matt says:

      I meant having a pistol on your body at all times is better than having a shotgun only while you’re at home.

  31. avatar Nate in CA says:

    My answer of course: It depends.

    I personally believe a “one gun” is dependent on your environment. Yes a shotgun is a damn fine implement that is chock full of value and efficacy – but – for a lot of situations, noting can top a sidearm.

    I feel a handgun is paramount to nearly every able bodied individual, some may benefit more from a shotgun or even a .22 (for non-gun types or even elderly).

  32. avatar Alexander B. says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I love shotguns but I wouldn’t have it as my sole firearm if necessary. It’d be an AR15 pistol as it’s still a handgun, can be concealed, and fills a variety of roles.. but YMMV.

  33. avatar Herp derp says:

    If your only going to own gun

  34. avatar Kimber says:

    Agreed.

  35. avatar Silentbrick says:

    If you can only own one gun, then it should be a Ma Deuce. With it, you can acquire any other gun types you need and not even vehicles will stand in your way. Sure it’s not portable as a hand gun, but you can roof mount it on your car or pintel mount it in the back of your truck.

    1. avatar Dan W says:

      This is the kind of outside the box thinking I skip the article and go straight to the comments for!

  36. avatar Will Drider says:

    One gun? We’re chosing for ourselves so that throws out most justifications for a shotgununless your a nube.
    The correct answer is a Service Size semi-auto pistol in a caliber and capacity you shoot well. It can be concealed. Relatively light weight, low bulk easy holster carry. It allows free hand(s). Allows more cartridges in equivalent space. Concealment of the pistol will allow closing distances, suprise and opportunity to get other firearms/ammo if there is a life or death requirement to do so. Pistols in common self defense calibers are capable of taking dear sized game if you have huting/stalking skills. Shot placement is key for game or BGs but I would still skip anything smaller than a 9mm. One Gun is not the end unto itself it is a starting point.

  37. avatar Dan says:

    Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle.

    1. avatar SkyMan77 says:

      When you absolutely, positively need to vaporize every mother-effer in the room… 🙂

  38. avatar Hoodlum says:

    I own several shotguns. I purchased a Maverick 88 about 15 years ago at the local Walmart. Paid 100 for it. Used it to shoot several cases of skeets. Never had a single malfunction. Now it sits in the gun safe in my truck.

  39. avatar FormerParatrooper says:

    30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. If we gonna go for just one gun. It slices, dices and turns bad guys into a red mist. Sure it costs a lot of money for one second of glorious bliss that is sure to destroy everything in front of it for miles, but why not? It even does tricks, here hold my beer and watch this…….

  40. avatar Nww says:

    Thats a hard one. An AR15 or AR10 would be tempting. But like others have already said, you can wear or conceal a pistol at all times and use it one handed. You can also carry more pistol ammo on your person if need be than rifle or shotgun. The range of a rifle would be nice but if rifle toting hordes are a problem I’m gonna try to be sneaky and avoid them if I can. Otherwise if its just regular day to day living then I’m not sacrificing as much by not having a rifle. I think a long slide Glock 10mm would be the best compromise of portability, power and capacity. The longer barrel might help tame recoil for faster follow up shots and longer sight radius may help if making a more distant shot. If I needed to hunt or shoot a larger or dangerous animal I’d rather it be with a 10mm than a more common but less powerful chambering. I like .44 magnum revolvers but the glock is flatter for concealed carry, reloads faster, and carries 15 instead of 6. Thanks for reading.

  41. avatar Bruce says:

    When I only had one gun, it was a Mossberg 500, with a short (18”) and a longer barrel. Bought it when threatened by a business partner. He was driving by a couple times a day, until he saw me rack the slide. That was it.

    But now I have a half dozen handguns, AR-15 carbines and handgun, and several others. Now I would use a combination of a handgun and one of my AR-15s. But I still have the Mossberg if I am ever down again to just one gun.

  42. avatar M says:

    If you’re only going to own gun? I say, own guns!!! Guns good, many guns.

  43. avatar T-Mass says:

    Glock 20.
    10mm
    15 rd mags
    Aftermarket sights

    Can be ccw
    10mm I hear can take down some good meat
    Just gotta practice longer distance accuracy.
    Plenty of ammo capacity, can have it with you at all times for whatever comes your way.

    Edit: Just realized Nww said the same thing. Right on!

    (As a side note, I don’t own glocks or 10mm, but I also don’t need to only own gun)

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      own gun!

  44. avatar strych9 says:

    If you have one gun and you have ammo first it then you have all you need to get another gun.

  45. avatar possum says:

    I sometimes shove a pistol grip shotgunm down my pants, it’s pretty well concealed you just walk funny. How well will a shottgunm penetrate, a ball bearing will go through an iron bridge beam, well sometimes, sometimes the ball puts a hole by your foot on the bridge’s board, then you kinda quit doing that and just throw empty beer cans off the side and shoot them with #6. . damn versatile

    1. avatar adverse6 says:

      Bet the women love you with that shotgun in your pants.

  46. avatar DaveL says:

    The poorly edited headline makes the site sound like a Russian caricature.

    “If you are only going to own gun, what is use without ammunition? Is better to only own sword, da?”

  47. avatar RedFlagRising says:

    Two shots from a Derringer were enough for Wire Paladin, its enough for you.

  48. avatar Brian10x says:

    “If You’re Only Going To Own Gun, Make it a Shotgun”

    Does anyone proof read anymore?

  49. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    A hand gun is better than a shotgun. (free state permit ccw)
    1. You can’t take a long gun with you shopping. But you can with a handgun.
    2. You can train at any indoor range with a handgun. Not so much with a shotgun.
    3. Handgun ammo costs less and you can get more of it.
    3. Shotgun instructors are as common as pigs flying. Try and find one in your local area.

    If you live in a slave state. Then get a shotgun. It’s easier to get than a handgun in a slave state. Usually.

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      edit
      4. Shotgun instructors are as common as pigs flying. Try and find one in your local area.
      5. During a home invasion. If you barricade yourself in a closet. It’s easier to aim and shoot through the door than a long shotgun, in that tiny closet.

      1. avatar adverse6 says:

        If you shoot thru a door, you’re doing it wrong.

  50. avatar Stuck in NJ says:

    A shotgun is a good choice, but here’s another:
    A lever-action .44 Magnum, such as the Taylor’s 1892 Alaskan.
    The 1892 Alaskan is a takedown model (no tools required, and the 2 parts fit easily into a backpack).
    It has twice the capacity of a shotgun (10 1 rather than 5 1).
    Even with a 20″ barrel, it’s still shorter than a shotgun (38″ vs 39″)
    If you want one more compact, get the 16″ barrel (34″ OAL).
    .44 ammo is much lighter and more compact than 12-gauge (you can carry a box of 50 in each pocket).
    It can shoot .44 Special as well as .44 Magnum, for times when you don’t need Magnum power or prefer to shoot quieter, subsonic rounds.
    It can also shoot CCI shotshells (#4 or #9).
    There are lever-guns (including the 1892 Alaskan) with threaded barrels for adding a suppressor.
    A, .44 Magnum can kill any animal on Earth, including elephants.
    Finally, a lever-action doesn’t look “scary”, so it’s legal in all 50 states, even states like mine that have a so-called “assault weapons” ban or a ban on “high-capacity” magazines.
    With practice, you can shoot a lever-action as fast as a semi-auto (go watch a Cowboy Action Shooting competition someday — the competitors shoot so fast that they have several rounds of empty brass in the air at the same time!)

    For less recoil, you can choose a lever-action .357 Magnum, which can also shoot .38 Special, or a .45 Colt lever-gun if you have revolvers in that caliber.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Big fan of the 44, I just haven’t got the hang of hitting flushing Bobwhite with it,, yet

  51. avatar Martin Torres says:

    Years ago I purchased a Winchester 12 gallon security shotgun. Its shorter barrel length allows you to carry it down a hallway without bumping the wall. I would have to pack my 1911 45 for maximum fire power.

    Martin Torres

    I am not an NRA gun but. As far as I am concerned Iwe should repeal the 2nd amendment. Mark my words, someday that will happen after some but massacres 1000 of children during a mass slaying at an elementary schools.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      but then you’ll only be allowed 12quart shotguns.

  52. avatar James A. "Jim" Farmer says:

    To sum up, if you’re only going to have one gun, a shotgun is the best possible choice. No other firearm platform is as easy to use, as reliable under most conditions, as endlessly useful, or as effective for the greatest number of purposes as a shotgun. This statement makes total sense to me if a person is limited to owning one firearm only. I thus endorse the NRA “Tales Of The Gun” video: Shotguns.” Gun writer and historian Phil Spangenberger mentions in this video pertaining to the 19th century Western frontier era (1850-1890): “if you were going out West a double-barrel shotgun would be the sensible choice.” I agree. Historically the smooth-bore was useful and versatile to the colonial, pioneer, and settler as a firearm that 1. could put fresh meat on the table and 2., provide homeland security for the homestead, farm house, shanty, trapper, mining claim etc. This was true for both the early muzzle loading single and double-barrel percussion shotgun, and later the break open breech loading “hammer” and later “hammerless” (Anson and Deely boxlock action) double barrel shotguns such as the Parker Bros., L.C. Smith, Ithaca, Remington, LeFever, Fox, and the cheaper Belgian imports and various British and European imports. Even for the 21st century modern reproductions of original 19th century 10 and 12 gauge percussion double-barrel muzzle loading shotguns remain available from Navy Arms Co., Dixie Gun Works, Cabela’s, etc. Fabricated of modern high strength steels, chrome line barrels, and choked bores, these are superior in strength, safety, and durability to their 19th century predecessors which usually had Belgian Damascus or “twist” barrels. Even today in the 21st century a skilled outdoors person could still utilize such for foraging, living off the land, survival, and utility use. And in anti-gun states which frown on Colt AR-15 rifles for instance, owning a shotgun is far less restrictive.

  53. avatar S.Crock says:

    If you are dirt poor, live alone, only care about home defense, and you are a well built individual the shotgun makes some sense. The one shot stop potential of a shotgun is unmatched. But it has many draw backs which make it less than optimal in most situations. Decent ARs can be had for under $500 nowadays and good pistols can be had for around $300. If you are so poor that its own a sub $200 shotgun or nothing then go for it.

    1. avatar adverse6 says:

      I took the tires off the house and put them on the truck, so now I’m middle class. I still have a shotgun.

  54. avatar Jr says:

    I guess I’m going to be the contrarian here and say I agree with the author for all the reasons he listed.

  55. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    If only 1 gun make it a shotgun might have been gospel back in the day before we knew better. A 223/5.56 AR with a quality red dot & soft point ammo is undoubtedly the “1gun” unless you live in a people’s republic like California or New Jersey. The “best home defense” wives tale/myth about a 12ga pump with buckshot seems to make sense until you witness first hand how many interior walls 00 or 000 can penetrate.

    1. avatar J Star says:

      This. Own a shotgun only is fudd lore and bad advice, especially for new shooters.

      1. avatar adverse6 says:

        You can get clean shorts at Walmart after you look down the bore of a 12 ga. loaded with 00 buck.

  56. avatar William Barnett says:

    That photo looks like one of the Ohio National Guard 870s that was available a while back. Those things were nice, and cheap. Of the shotguns I have it would be that, Win.1300 Defender or Ithaca 37 Police model. If space got more consideration the Tac14 with Sig Brace is fairly compact for a long gun. With all the options it would be tough to decide on only ONE gun. AR15 can be configured so many different ways. High capacity handgun with it’s size/weight advantages. Luckily most of us don’t have to pick only one.

  57. avatar tsandl says:

    If I could only have one gun, I would want the one belonging to my opponent. Seriously though, there’s no single right answer to the question for everyone. You could make a compelling argument for a lot of different guns. I would go with a fairly vanilla AR-15 in .223. It is effective in combat, and it has a reasonable range. It’s fairly easy to service, and pays are readily available. With appropriate loads, you can take varmints without destroying too much meat, or you can take deer with good shot placement. Of course you can’t conceal one, and you’d have to be a much better than me to take a bird on the wing. But hey! This is America, and, for the time being, I can buy as many guns as I can afford.

    1. avatar tsandl says:

      *parts*

  58. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Just got lucky an hour ago and picked up a possible update to this post.
    Savage model 24.
    .22 over 20 gauge double barrel.
    I’ve been looking for one of these on the used market for a while.
    Wood stock, blue steel. Great condition. WaHoo!

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Last one I looked at was north of 600. The new model 42 struck me as being cheap and flimsy.

  59. avatar Don says:

    I’m always armed with one of two identical Glock 48s with my brand new Shield Arms S15 Magazine, filled with Fed HST 150 gr. Morning till night…..if you see me, I’m armed. If you don’t see me, I’m armed. One G48 is my high mileage weekly range gun, and the other is my low mileage carry gun. So, in my opinion, my Glock handgun is my best “one gun”. By the way, for those who wonder, that Shield Arms 15 rounder has been flawless.

  60. avatar Mike Carbine says:

    No other type of firearm has the near infinite combinations of variety in a single ammo type as 12 gauge has. A life time would not be enough to master every possible aspect of a shotgun. As far as concealability goes, get a guitar case. Some folks don’t feel the need to arsenal, but know they want “To Own Gun”.

  61. Don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a shotgun being used to hunt Pronghorns, but I’m sure someone will tell a fish story about it. Depends on what critter in North America you’re hunting, but the closest I’ve ever snuck up to a herd of Pronghorn was about 300 yards, which is way too far for even a rifled slug. So, I do believe I’ll stick with my trusty old .300 Win Mag for Pronghorn and Elk. It’s never let me down in 45 years.

  62. avatar adverse6 says:

    When push comes shove, concealment is not going to be an issue. A shotgun is very portable, very effective, reliable, all around workhorse of a firearm. Always had one, always will. A pistol is a side arm, a shotgun is the main arm for close quarters. Rifled slugs work well out to 50 yards even with nothing but bead sight. As long as you have a vehicle and can transport various firearms and ammo you are good with anything you want to carry with you. If I had to leave the vehicle and hump it, I would leave it all behind and take the shotgun and all the rounds I could carry. Pointless really. Take what you got, if you are lucky enough to survive take the firearms and ammo off bodies that didn’t. A pistol/revolver is the worst you could possibly be stuck with. But, better than nothing. As far as survival in hostile territory any firearm will make noise and get attention. Building a fire to cook or keep warm will get you killed. Best think about that first. As is, my pistol and shotgun gather dust, I clean them regularly. I hope that is all I ever have to do with them, other than to shoot them occasionally to make sure they work.

  63. avatar Paul Conway says:

    Why can’t you leave out the political bias and nonsense from the other valuable information you are providing here? I guarantee you that Joe Biden has shot 50X the number of rounds that you have. Joe Biden has owned and used firearms his entire life. He is one of the few Congressmen that for years took public transportation back and forth to work in Washington.

    You think Donald Trump is protecting our 2nd amendment rights? Wrong. Look closely. He has been hacking away behind the scenes to appease his liberal rich friends, who are the real enemy of the 2nd amendment rights. Without guns, the rich and the bankers can continue controlling this world.

    Don’t assume that because the NRA programmed your 2nd hand belief system that all Democrats are anti gun. My great grandfather (a Veteran of WW1) took me on my first hunt when I was 10. My grandfather (also a Democrat and Veteran of the US Marine Corps), bought me my first 22 rifle. My dad (2 tours in Korea, Purple Heart, US Marines, and a lifelong Democrat) took me shooting more times than I can count.

    You have it wrong. The vast majority of Democrats are in fact centrist moderates who are strong supporters of 2nd amendment rights and there is not a single one I know that does not at least own a shotgun. The un-examined NRA propaganda, and paranoia with which you have been programmed with, skews your perception and distorts your worldview. It also diminishes your business. You’ve cut yourself off from 65% of the American population. It’s easy to understand. Every piece I buy comes with phony NRA literature stuffed in the case, which I promptly throw away as worthless garbage. Truth be told, Wayne Lappiere loves the lifestyles of the rich and famous that he is living courtesy of your dues, and his propaganda.

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