While its popularity encompassed an era that was a few years before most of our time (except for maybe Tangle :) ), the great Kentucky long rifle is often time held by gun owners as a gold standard of American gun ownership. Why is that? Well…. for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was kind of standard equipment for just about everyone. Almost everyone back then had one hanging over the fire place. It was like having an axe for splitting wood or a pot for cooking. It was just another tool. Second - it served multiple roles. It put food on the table and could put a bad guy down. For its time, it was equally good at both. Lastly (at least for as far as my list goes) they were easy to get. A person could pretty much walk into the “town store” and walk about with one. They could also walk out with everything they needed to use it (except for skill) such as powder, patches, bullets, etc.
Why am I talking about the Kentucky long rifle? Because the recent talk of a ban really got me to thinking about my gun collection, or more specifically my long guns. Well… I wouldn't really call it a collection although the anti-gun crowd would probably call it an arsenal. Regardless, I own several so called assault rifles and I own several other long guns as well. Now, most of you that know me from around here know that I am generally a centrist and while I do think there is a possibility of more gun restriction in the next few months I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as others think it will be. But, this post isn’t about that. Well, only tangentially. The reason I was thinking about my long guns is (and I am almost embarrassed to admit this but like I have said before, I am a hope for the best but plan for the worst type of guy) was, what do I have than could do everything that I need a firearm to do if I need to bury the rest of my long guns in a vacuum sealed container out at my buddies property.
My conclusion? My pump action shotgun. That’s right ladies and gents. I think that the pump action 12 gauge shotgun is the new Kentucky long rifle. And here’s why –
Dual use – My Remington 870 is by far the most versatile long gun that I own. It will take large game at a good distance with slugs. It will take small game at close distance with shot. It will take fowl with shot. It will take bad guys at short range or long range with slugs or short range with shot. So, much like the Kentucky long rifle it will put food on the table and defend my home.
Effectiveness – 00 buck at close range is devastating against pretty much anything. Slugs and any range are pretty devastating as well.
Easy to find / Cheap to buy – You can pick up a pump action 12 at pretty much any sporting goods store in addition to a good deal of variety store like Wal-Mart. Better yet, they can be had for under 300.00 dollars putting them within reach of just about everyone.
Ammo – The supplies you need to use it are available just about everywhere. Even places that don’t sell guns sell 12 gauge ammo.
And then there are the modern convinces. To bad they didn’t have 1913 rail back then… Could you imagine a Kentucky long rifle with a tactical lantern?
Simplistic – There isn’t a lot to a pump action 12. Not a lot of moving parts. That means less to break.
Generally don’t garner much attention – From politicians or from everyday people. As it is not a gun grabbers have historically not really cared about them.
Easy to customize – A pump action 12 will fine off the shelf for defense or putting food on the table but it’s also easy to customize it to your liking. You can add a side saddle for extra ammo and that could be slugs, shot or a combination of both. You can add a scope or (what I prefer) red dot. Magazine extension to expand the capacity. Adjustable stock…pistol grip…forend + light… It’s not quite as “baribesque” as an AR but it can definitely be kitted out to your liking.
Ammo can be topped off – Much like a lever action, the pump action 12 can be topped off. It’s not a 30 round mag but it beats single shot by a long …..shot…. lol
Like everything else in life the pump action 12 had a few bad things going for it. The ammo is large. You can strap on a tactical vest with six 30 round rifle mags + one in the rifle for a grand total of 210 rounds. Good luck carrying 210 12 gauge shells. Also, capacity in general is kind of lacking. Depending on the model and setup of your pump action you’re probably looking between 4-10 rounds.
I honestly believe that my Remington 870 is capable of dealing with any threat that I am likely to encounter that I would actually be able to neutralize. Don’t get me wrong… I have no intention of getting rid of my AR or my AK, but if for some reason I HAD to I think my 870 would be able serve admirably on all fronts – Probably better than either of my black rifles in some roles. So, that’s why I think the pump action 12 gauge is the modern day Kentucky long rifle. It's a readily available, do everything long gun that is within reach of just about every citizen.