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SHTF? Drop the AK, Pick Up a Shotgun

As an AK-guy this one stings a little bit, though a great deal of truth is presented. What do you think? – The AK is reliable and rugged. It was designed to be operated by illiterate teenage conscripts with little to no training. It was never intended to protect a family after a natural disaster and is ill suited to that purpose. If the answer comes down to  supportability and simplicity, you need a shotgun.

Everybody has their own ideas about guns, that is part of their charm. There are near-infinite combinations of precision, wounding potential, and magazine capacity. There is much opinion on this. I will give you mine. You are welcome to violently disagree; it is your God-given right.

I have been to some bad places around the world and have seen bad things happen. When I lived on the Gulf Coast, I went through the aftermath of several major hurricanes. I now live in a rural area and maintain a wide selection of weapons. When I hear a noise in the night, I grab the shotgun.


The AK  was designed for wartime production. The elimination of a bolt hold-open feature saved three parts. In Soviet Russia, magazines are scarce and valuable, so you are driven to hold the magazine to work the flapper magazine release. This is meant to make you hold on to magazines rather than let them drop free, since it’ll be in your hand before you insert the next magazine. The sights require a tool to adjust. This keeps recruits from messing up the fine zero the factory armorers put on it.

Semiautomatic rifles have their place. In the proper hands, with quality ammo and parts, they can shoot a lot of rounds a long way. There is also a place for bolt guns, but the relatively slow rate of fire demands that they be employed with some stand-off. At distance, even a Lee-Enfield or Mosin-Nagant could be effective.

My vote for home protection? The all-American choice is the Remington 870. The pump shotgun is incredibly simple. The controls? A safety button and a pump. Work the pump and shoot. Got a jam? Work the pump and shoot. Repeat as necessary and reload.

It is funny the way people take to a certain gun.  My God-father used the Remington 870 in Vietnam.  He told me to buy one.  The 870 always felt  right to me.  I am not knocking the Mossberg or other pumps, but I like the 870.

The 870 has great ergonomics and a Magpul stock makes them even better. The shotgun itself has a modern, modular design with many aftermarket upgrades available. I recommend a flashlight and Tritium sights for home-defense use.

Without a magazine or available ammo, the AK is a pretty ineffective club. If you are planning on serious use, you’d better have extra magazines and more ammo than you think you need.

Pump shotguns are dead-simple and rugged. There is no magazine to lose, and with minimal care, your grandkids will still be able to use it. They should be cleaned and lubricated every 10,000 rounds or so, but even that is not necessary.


The AK doesn’t fail often, but it can fail. I have broken trigger springs and had ruptured cartridges that required a special tool to clear. The parts are not designed to be replaced or interchangeable. Ever changed the barrel in an AK? The Russians would laugh at you. They never figured any Russian soldier would survive long enough to shoot out a barrel.

In spite of loose tolerances, every country that made an AK added a little flair. I have seen guns where parts were hand-fitted with files to go together. Better to have a spare gun than spare parts.

The AK has a rough trigger and poor sights. If it ever gets dark where you live, you might consider how hard it is to see those sights at night.

The AK comes in two main calibers: 7.62×39mm and 5.45×39mm. If you are serious about using an AK for SHTF in America, there are some variants around that shoot .223; this would be very handy.

Shotguns can use an astounding variety of readily available ammo. Even during the great ammo famine I could still find 12 gauge.

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