So you’re into guns for self defense. You’ve spent some time at the range, you know how to shoot. You don’t need me to tell you that long-guns can get lead on target with much more ease, and more power than a handgun can. The old saying is “You only use your pistol to fight your way to your long gun!”. I carry a handgun when I’m not expecting to use it, if I ever think I will NEED a gun, I’m bringing a long-gun.
Now here comes the big rub. We talked about rifles vs. Shotguns here, I stated I wasn’t in love with my shotgun as much as my rifles. There weren’t many arguments about that tactically, but there were some financial arguments. A good auto-loaded rifle is EXPENSIVE! You’re probably looking at between $800 and $2000 for many fairly modest auto-loading rifles like AR-15, FALs, M1A, etc. Even bone-stock Mini-14s are going for over $600 these days! A LOT of people don’t have that kind of scratch to drop on ONE gun, especially when they’ll likely be buying accessories, magazines, and ammo for them.
Meanwhile the ubiquitous pump shotgun can be found at any gun shop, and it doesn’t take much looking to find a gently used model for VERY short money. There are lots of great choices out there, but the most common guns of good quality are the Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500. They’re about equal in quality and price, and its up to the user to decide what’s best for them. I’m in the Mossberg camp because of the safety location, the slide-lock location, and the fact that the loading gate is wide open when the action is closed, but again both guns are great choices for short money, and can be had for REALLY cheap if bought used.
Of course for a defensive gun best to shy away from the long hunting barrels, and get something in the vicinity of 20″. Longer magazine tubes are nice too, but aren’t necessary. Just remember to practice reloading your shotgun, because even those 8-round extended magazines run dry QUICK!
Still I prefer rifles, so let’s look a little bit at cheap options. I’m going to stay away from bolt-action guns. They work, and can be deployed effectively, but I think it takes a LOT of skill to run a bolt quickly. Still if you want a bolt-action gun for cheap there are lots of nifty military surplus guns that might be deployed for self-defense, and there are many inexpensive hunting guns you could have shortened or modified for a handy defensive rifle….but that’s up to you.
Its worth a mention to the SKS rifle, they aren’t amazing, but they’re 7.62×39 which is cheap and effective, and they feed very quickly from stripper clips. They used to be scary cheap, but the price has gone WAYY up over the years. Still they’re worth a look to see if you can find one in your price range.
Also not my bag, but lever carbines have been the “Stealth Assault Rifle” for decades now. It doesn’t take much work to get scary fast at working the leaver, they come in a HUGE variety of calibers, and they essentially reload similar to a shotgun. Marlin seems to make the best quality-to-price guns in this range.
Another option that I don’t shy away from are pistol carbines. The coolest IMHO is the Kel-tec Sub2000
The hard part about this gun is there are LOTS of variations on it, specifically on what pistol magazines they take, and if its in .40 S&W or 9×19, and Kel-Tec is REALLY lousy about keeping the market satisfied with stock, so you may not be able to actually FIND one. Its a shame. There are also lots of discontinued carbines that might still sell for cheap.
Pistol rounds are pistol rounds, but they don’t make a lot of noise or recoil, the longer barrel and shoulder stock give it more power and accuracy, and you can have quick mag changes, often with high capacity, so there’s a lot to love.
So anybody got some other cheap go-to long guns out there?