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Sun. Dec. 17, 10:00 AM ET

Is This the Ultimate Survival Gun?

Admit it, you have thought about it. If you could have only one firearm for survival, what would it be? Some would suggest an accurate .22 LR or an AR-15 (neither is a bad choice, BTW), but for our money, a jack-of-all-trades gun that does a little bit of everything trumps all. So our choice is a side-by-side shotgun.

Simply put, a shotgun is the most effective tool for gathering food. Loaded with birdshot, it is extremely capable on birds and small game. Loaded with buckshot or slugs, it serves adequately for nearly anything in the world. But why not a pump or auto, you may ask? Any break-open gun is easy to use with chamber inserts, making an already versatile gun nearly unstoppable.

Of all the two-barrel options out there, we decided to start with Stoeger’s Double Defense. As good as the “Double D” is, it can always be improved upon. We Cerakote finished the metal, then with file, router, mill, and some ingenuity on hand, we threw everything but the proverbial sink into this build.

Junk in the Trunk

Having accessories in the buttstock is a must for any survival gun, so we drilled some new holes to house not only a caliber conversion kit but also two thermoplastic waterproof tubes that carry everything from spare gun parts to fishing equipment. For easy access, we replaced the stock pad with a slip-on LimbSaver. Go to

Find Your Way Home

OK, so we ripped off this idea from Daisy and A Christmas Story. Having a compass in your pocket is a good idea, but having a compass in the stock is far better. You’ll never forget it or lose it here.

Staying Warm

Sure, we always carry a lighter into the backcountry, but a secondary method is always a good idea. With this addition, lighting a fire is only a strike away with a firesteel inlaid permanently into the forearm.

A Tool for Any Task

Our micro tool takes up no space in the forend. Held in place by a magnet, it is in no danger of falling out from even the heaviest recoil. The model we used is no longer available, but a mini Leatherman would work just fine. Go to

Let There Be Light

The Insight light/laser combo is excellent for night shooting or finding the trail after dark (take it off the rail and use it as a flashlight) and runs on AA batteries, which are easy to find anywhere. Go to

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