The Short Shotgun

If the truth be known the gun that won the west was really a shotgun. More western lawmen and guards carried a shotgun than a revolver or rifle. Most of the settler wagons headed west had a shotgun under the seat ready to grab in case of Indians or a chance to bag supper. The shotgun is capable of gathering game or defending the homestead. Almost anyone can hit a target that is not moving with a shotgun and with a little practice the fox will not even get close to the hen house.

Loaded with birdshot you can gather dinner, kill a poisonous snake or defend the poultry from a predator. If you choose to load the shotgun with buckshot you can drop a coyote at 65 yards, stop intruders or add a deer to the winter food supply.  Loaded with slugs or sabots the shotgun can drop big game at a distance or humanely dispatch large livestock to butcher. Not to mention the fun my family has shooting clay birds thrown from an inexpensive clay bird thrower.  We just buy non-toxic biodegradable clay birds so that they will dissolve after breaking.


My favorite shotgun for the ranch has been a strong pump such as a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500. Pump shotguns are survivors and need little repair compared to other types of shotguns. There is also the mental intimidation of the sound of a pump shotgun be loaded in the dark.  Others prefer the simplicity and safety of a single shot version.  Lately I have grown fond of a 12 gauge coach gun with 20 inch double barrels just like the old stagecoach guards carried.  It is handy from the truck and one barrel can be loaded with birdshot while the other can be loaded with buckshot leaving you ready for any situation.  Of course having to look at the bad end of a double barrel twelve would have a psychological effect on two legged intruders in my opinion. The biggest drawback to shotguns is the limited distance at which they can be used, the weight of the shells, weight of the gun itself and the cost of ammunition.  In our two seat UTV or the ranch truck the weight really doesn’t matter.

I recommend 7 1/2 shot for snakes and night time predators around the homestead.  I shoot standard 2 3/4 inch loads and save the 3 inch magnums for hunting large predators.  If shooting one of the light weight short shotguns be sure and install a recoil pad even if just one of the slip on types.  Recoil from a light weight 12 gauge can be punishing.  My favorite buckshot is #4 buck as it has three times the pellets of #00 and gives a much better pattern.  I have made coyote and bobcat kills out to about 65 yards with that load and can’t imagine 27 pellets of .22 caliber not dropping a two legged predator anywhere inside that range.  When working on
the place I carry a twenty inch double trigger side by side double barrel with bird shot in the left barrel and buck shot in the right barrel.  The front trigger fires the right barrel and the back trigger fires the left barrel.  This way I am prepared to solve rattlesnake to coyote problems on the spot.
Stay safe, Wild Ed