Just One …

An Overlooked & Underappreciated Choice
; .

Here it is — Tank’s one gun choice! What would you choose?

Wanna’ know what really gets my goat? It also raises my dander and just plain annoys me! It’s when someone asks the overused, cliché question — “If you could only have one gun, what would it be?” We know we would never consider doing such a thing, so why answer?

Skeeter Skelton loved playing this game and it made for good reading as the pros and cons of every imaginable gun was whittled down, debated and eliminated until there was one sole survivor. Many times, the end result even surprised the person answering the question, as logic, horse-sense and cogitation on the subject actually helped them realize something they had never thought of before.

Maybe it is a good idea to do this every now and then, helping us thin the herd from time to time of all our accumulations over the years? But what fun would that be?

Tank’s Preference

I have a deep affection for revolvers, particularly single actions, but enjoy dabbling with double-action wheelguns too, choosing to shoot them the way they’re supposed to be shot, in double-action mode. Show me a person who’s mastered the double-action revolver and I’ll show you a person who can shoot any handgun skillfully.

Semi-auto pistols have their place and while preferring the looks and heft of all-steel pistols, I won’t discriminate against poly-framed, striker-fired pistols. They come in mighty handy at times. As do my TC single shots. Simply put, I love just about all handguns.

When it comes to long guns I admit leverguns are a favorite, but I won’t turn my nose down on any bolt gun, single shot, semi-auto, pump or muzzleloader. Scenario and circumstance play a major role. Heck, I even enjoy the dreaded “black guns” the media likes to hyperventilate over. Building them is fun, relaxing and provides a sense of pride.

But if asked what one gun I would choose to live out the rest of my days, I would pick a pump shotgun. Yup, the ole scattergun. Let me explain why before you turn the page.


Root Of The Matter

Going back to the mid 1600s, it was common for trappers to carry trade rifles. These rifles were smoothbore fowlers/muzzleloaders, giving them the advantage of being capable of shooting patched roundball for big game or pellets for waterfowl/small game. This was a versatile gun indeed!
Shooting patched roundballs in a smoothbore barrel provides top accuracy out to 75 yards. Beyond, accuracy goes out the window. But 75 yards is a pretty good distance giving cagey mountain men plenty of stalking distance for large game. If fowl is on the menu, simply load your trade gun with shot for a handloaded 12-gauge shotgun.

Pump You Up

I was introduced to pump shotguns around age 10. Hunting squirrels and rabbits with a borrowed Remington 870 Wingmaster 12-gauge taught me plenty. Fast forward 11 years and I’m issued the same style shotgun, only with an 18″ cylinder bore barrel with rifle sights.

We were originally issued Winchester 12-gauge 00 buck loads. Winchester didn’t cheat you on powder in those days, as recoil was noticeable. Shooting at life-sized silhouette targets, you were lucky to be able to keep all nine pellets on target at 25 yards due to spread.

Federal later came out with a tactical 00 buckshot load shooting much tighter groups. Now 25-yard targets patterned to softball-sized groups and all nine pellets usually hit the life-size silhouette target at 50 yards. This was accomplished when Federal designed a better shot cup for the Tactical Load. Also, recoil was reduced with better powders.


By handloading your own slugs, you can save money while
adding more versatility to your choice of projectile.


A 12-gauge shotgun shooting slugs is nothing more than a .72 caliber rifle propelling a 1-oz. hunk of lead. Talk about a big-bore bonanza! Even when fired in a smoothbore barrel, like the Trade Rifles of yesteryear, accuracy is great out to 75 yards. And when a critter is hit with something this big, it doesn’t go far and it leaks a lot. Results are more dramatic with two-legged desperados.

Shotguns are versatile, capable of shooting.
Left to right: birdshot, 00 buckshot and slugs.


Of course, when thinking of shotguns, birdshot is one of our first thoughts. Having the ability of shooting multiple projectiles in one shot ups the ante for hitting small, difficult targets moving quickly.


Round Up

Taking into consideration a gun capable of shooting over an ounce of lead in slug form, multiple pellets in 00 buck form or birdshot for small game, it’s clear why I consider the 12-gauge pump a do-it-all in one gun. Just about all your shooting needs can be covered with it.

The 12-gauge pump is reliable, tough, virtually “cop proof” and capable of making life easier by handling all the tough chores one can be faced with. Every home should have one! Would Skeeter be disappointed with my choice? I’m not sure, but it would be a tough argument to beat.

Subscribe To GUNS Magazine

Purchase A PDF Download Of The GUNS Magazine April 2024 Issue Now!