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 excellent hunting and defensive / offensive weapon

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PostSubject: excellent hunting and defensive / offensive weapon    Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:17 pm

An often overlooked but excellent hunting and defensive / offensive weapon can include the venerable shotgun. Depending upon the characteristics of the area you intend to travel, the 12-guage shotgun can be your best firearm choice. I will attempt to explain not only why a shotgun is often a good selection over a rifle, but also cover some of the shotgun loads that are especially valuable in the defensive or offensive role while tracking a dangerous man or beast in thickly vegetated areas such as deep forest or jungle.

Before I go further I want to be sure you fully understand that the following only expresses my opinions based on my own experiences in the environments I have lived and worked in. Your opinions may vary depending upon your own preferences and experiences in the types of landscape you frequent. Everybody has their own ideas on just about any topic, and especially when it comes to firearm selecton – and this is a good thing, it's what makes the world go round!

Limited Line of Sight

The overhead canopy of a thickly grown forest allows only spotty patches of sunlight to filter down to the forest floor. Even on a bright sunny day, within the womb of the forest it can be quite dark. The interplay of dappled light and dark areas mixed with a random interconnected mix of tree trunks, branches, leaves, and other plant materials both living and dead, (as well as snow in winter) make it difficult to quickly and precisely locate the position of an animal or man even if the creature is close by and you know roughly where it is. In thick forest conditions a 50-yard shot can be an uncharacteristically long one. Realistically, in scanning the area around me as I track my quarry, I often expect a maximum clear view of only just a small a portion of the target. That means a shot of 50-yards or less through a very narrow window amongst the thick vegetation – and often only 50 or 75 feet! Even when the tracker can see the target through the masses of wood and leaves (or more likely just a portion of the target) there remains the problem of bullet deflection. Flying rounds are lucky not to clip small branches and other vegetation between exiting the rifle and reaching the target area, which can deflect the bullet in random ways. There are often small tree saplings between yourself and the target that are large enough to absorb the entire force of a single bullet. The deep forest favors stealth and concealment. There is real possibility of unexpected sudden ambush. Encounters can be quick, brutal, and at very close quarters. This makes gear selection (including your firearms) very important. This is potentially excellent shotgun country.

Shotgun Advantages

In the sort of territory described above, the shotgun has a number of distinct advantages over a rifle.

Relatively Easy to Operate and Maintain

I cannot place overemphasis on the value of simplicity and reliability of your equipment when your life is one the line. Being simple and easy to operate and maintain is a vital factor in firearm selection for the tracker. While tracking through thick forest and brush, especially off-trail, your firearm will be exposed to dirt, vegetation, heat, cold, or wetness for extended periods of time. In these adverse conditions a simple, reliable pump action shotgun will usually continue to function whilst a highly tuned complex rifle or shotgun may fail you. This principle favoring simplicity and reliability is frequently shown during wartime in many areas of the world. Oft cited are experiences on the Eastern Front during World War Two. During this war, firearms manufactured to high precision for the German army often failed at inopportune moments due to the less than pristine conditions of actual field use. Meanwhile, Russian firearms with looser tolerances were much more easily maintained and functioned at higher levels in these same conditions.

Choose a good quality pump action shotgun over an autoloader – the mechanics of the pump action shotgun are simpler and more reliable when conditions are less than ideal. Remember, while in the deep forest you are not on the home Shooting Range where everything is neat, clean, and you have all the time and equipment you need to make repairs, clear jams, or the luxury of choosing another firearm from the trunk of your vehicle.Imagine your chagrin while being stalked or fired upon at close range to discover your expensive complex firearm is malfunctioning due to dirt, extreme weather, lack of proper maintenance in the field (complex firearms require more complex maintenance than simpler models), a broken part, or some other reason. More often than people realize, a less expensive, less complex firearm with looser tolerances will be a great advantage when field conditions are less than optimal. And in the deep forest conditions are nearly always less than optimal.

Quick to Deploy and Fire with Result

While you can quickly point and fire your rifle at a nearby opponent who is ensconced in thick vegetation, you are much more likely to miss than if you were to use a shotgun. A rifle fires one bullet at a time. Firing a semi-automatic rifle to send out multiple rounds requires you to press the trigger multiple times in quick succession. Attempting to send out a number of rounds quickly has some drawbacks including:

•Exposing you to return fire.
•Revealing your position - it can be difficult to ascertain exactly where a first shot came from – but fire two or more shots and your opponent(s) can more easily zero in on your exact location.
•Increasing inacurracy of fire.
•It is unlikely that while you are emptying the magazine of your rifle your quarry will remain in an open target position, each subsequent round must be re-aimed.
•Laying out a spray of rifle lead like this is a fundamental mistake of the tracker. Ammunition is bulky, heavy, and often more valuable than gold when lives are at stake. Running low on ammo during a fire fight is not a good idea.
It is vital that as much as possible you increase the odds of your first shot scoring a devastating wound.

The Shotgun: Hail of Lead

Let’s instead of using a rifle, send a shotgun blast at your foe using, for example, a typical load of #00 (double-ought) buck - with one quick barely aimed shot you are sending out a spray of nine .33 caliber balls at something like 1250 feet per second. These balls fan out in an ever increasing diameter hail of lead – depending upon the ammunition used, shotgun barrel length, and choke, this spray of bullets will cover an area something like the size of a dinner plate by the time they reach your target area. Firing the above mentioned load from my particular short barreled Mossberg 500 shotgun with 18.5 inch barrel, the pellets tend to form a pattern of about four-inches in diameter at 25-feet and six or eight inches in diameter at 50-feet. The further away the target, the wider the area that the pellets cover. When compared to the tiny area covered by a single rifle bullet flying downrange to the target, you can easily see one very important advantage of a quickly fired off-hand shotgun blast over a quickly fired off-hand shot from a rifle at close quarters.

An important addition: should even just half of the shotgun pellets hit the body of this enemy, he will likely be put out of action. However, with a single hit with a rifle shot, especially the lighter calibers and at close range the bullet may penetrate right through your opponent without doing enough physical damage to immediately knock him out of the fight.

Deflection Problem Less of a Problem

As an individual bullet travels through thick forest or brush, there is a good chance it will intersect with leaves, twigs, and other objects located between the barrel of your gun and the man or beast you are aiming at. The lighter the bullet the more it will likely be deflected from its desired path. Sometimes the deflection won’t matter much and the bullet will still hit its mark. Sometimes the deflection is enough to cause a miss or slow the bullet down enough so as to do little damage. It’s a crap shoot.
This problem of frequent bullet deflection in thick forest environments is one reason I prefer the heavier 7.62 x 39 AK round over the 5.56 x 45 NATO (.223) round in my forest rifles. Heavier bullets tend to plow through vegetation and suffer less from deflection. But when you are sending out nine .33 caliber lead balls with each shotgun blast, deflection is less of a problem. Like a swarm of angry bees, some are likely to get through and on-target even if they are being bounced around a bit.

Which Shotgun Load to Use?

Which shotgun load to use is an age old question that has many answers depending upon the conditions you are traveling through and personal preference. My choice for tracking in thick forest or brush, as you may have guessed, is something along the lines of the Remington 2-3/4 inch 00 buck with nine .33 caliber pellets. There are many good reasons for this choice for use in thick forest.

2-3/4 inch Shotgun Shell vs 3-inch

Many, but not all, shotguns can use both 2-3/4 and 3-inch shotgun shells. The advantage of the 3-inch shotgun shells is that they can carry a somewhat greater number of pellets. However, in a tracking role the added bulk and weight factors make the shorter shells a better choice. The smaller shotgun shell is still excellent, and you can carry more of them! In addition, the kick of a 12-gauge shotgun is hard enough as it is. This forceful beating that the shooter takes can affect accuracy. There is little sense in making things more difficult for little if any gain by blasting off more powerful loads. My choice is to carry more 2-3/4 inch shotgun shells and leave the 3-inch shells for the range at home.

Shotgun Shell Load

Adequate Penetration. For use in the tracking of larger sized game such as men, the type of load in your shotgun shells is extremely important. To eliminate a large enemy, which includes man sized targets, studies have shown that a minimum of 12-inches of penetration into the body is needed to insure the destruction of vital organs and the ending of the threat. This is known as “adequate penetration”. This 12-inches for adequate penetration is not necessarily from, say, chest to back. Often your shot will have to penetrate from the left or right side of the body and on through to the opposite side – hence the need for a full 1-foot of penetration. When in the forest you must also take into account that the lead you let fly must plow its way through leaves and twigs, which diminishes its force along the way. The larger the ball of lead, the more power it has to force its way through to the target.

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PostSubject: Re: excellent hunting and defensive / offensive weapon    Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:15 am

excellent post. I would like to add the following.

you can go bird hunting with a rifle if you want....but ill take my 12ga, #2, and 6 are staple hunting rounds around here. nothing you can't kill fairly effectivly with a shotgun, we got #9 for the chipmunks and such, and slugs for the moose, elk, bear, etc.

add in the virsatility of adapter tubes..then make it break action/takedown, and you have a very flexable platform, but non single shot is nice. 12ga is also a breeze to reload

its biggest drawback is the size, and the weight, and the recoil, and the loudness. nothing that can't be off set by 20ga, or doing your own loads

my 10/22 is quiet, and i can certainly hunt rabbits and squirls with it., but i cant hunt "anything" with it.

i do sometimes stalk small game with my 22, and i sometimes deer hunt with my mosin. fields and praries, small groves, you want that 200+yrd knockdown

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