.410 Shotgun as a Survival Tool
Many people equate survival firearms with the idea of a closet full of AK 47s, UZIs, or AR 15s. While these firearms certainly can give good service to some users, they tend to be illegal or hard to obtain (even in their semi auto versions) in many areas. They also tend to be expensive and have a learning curve in terms of learning how to maintain and use them.
Fortunately an individual interested in a simple survival firearm - one that can put game in the pot or even serve to ward off intruders in a pinch - doesn't have to expensive or hard to learn. Any gunshop and many mass market merchants sell single shot .410 shotguns for less than 150 dollars new. Used guns can be had for even less.
Because these are single shot hunting weapons, they are quite easy to learn. One should still of course take a firearms safety course or otherwise seek competent instruction, but these shotguns are among the easiest of weapons to learn how to operate safely and enjoyably. They are quite capable of harvesting many types of small game, and by using slugs, can take even deer size animals in semi skilled hands.
These weapons are also more likely to be legal and easy to obtain in localities where paramilitary style firearms may be either restricted or have a social stigma attached to their possession and use. Of course one should consult local laws, but if any firearm is legal in a given location, odds are that a single shot small bore shotgun will be.
The .410 shotguns have some additional features that make them excellent survival weapons. Recoil and muzzle blast are much less than other guns. This allows a novice user or someone in less than ideal physical condition to operate one without fear of the recoil. It also makes practice much more likely to be a pain free and pleasant experience, thus encouraging one to practice with their weapon. Additionally, one can carry a greater number of .410 shells in a given space and for a given amount of weight than would be the case for a larger weapon. These guns will also likely prove quite durable and relatively easy to maintain as they have fewer parts and thus fewer things to break or go wrong. Finally, the single shot .410s can usually be taken down into several parts, rendering them easy to pack in small spaces and allowing one to store one in a bug out bag.
The .410 shotgun shells themselves can be found in boxes of 25 at most any gunshop or store that sells ammunition. They will have a smaller weight of shot in them, but at ranges likely to be encountered in either a wooded or suburban area, these little shells will still easily bring down rabbits, squirrels, and even various birds. Most .410 shotguns will have a tight choke on them which will help keep the pellets together and result in a relatively dense pattern possessed of a surprising amount of knock down power.