This guest post is By Tactical G-Ma and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
For the past thirty + years my life consisted of 40 hours per week on the job and the remaining waking hours were dedicated to kids, housework, shopping, being wife and mommy, and making sure everyone else got what they needed. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being wife and mommy and all that went with it. But, the kids grew up and went on their ways and I retired and I felt like I knew nothing about living. What now? I cleaned, cared for DH, had the grandsons occasionally, took up oil and acrylic painting, read a zillion books, gardened, traveled, fished, golfed, life was good.
I’m not sure what woke me up. It probably wasn’t any one thing. But, in the spring of 2012, I realized the larder was nearly bare, the freezer had more bottles of ice than food, we couldn’t fit our Chihuahua into our tornado room (much less us), and our complacence had become a liability because we had had good weather, low crime, and lots of play time for the past few years.
DH was out of commission due to shoulder surgery and three new heart attacks he had from blood clots while recovering from surgery. I had to take charge of everything including thinking about our safety and security. In the past I paid the bills, made decisions, serviced the cars, etc. but DH had always been my protector. So I had to prepare for everything and be able to execute those plans!
The lists began with water, food, power, medical and safety. SAFETY. Now, we both have CCW’s and keep weapons by the front and rear doors (bobcats, coyotes, hogs, dogs, rattlers, copperheads, moccasins, etc.). I always carried my Beretta .32 Tomcat, you know in case of stuff. And we practiced shooting. But for some reason I just couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with that gun and that is in a calm, safe, setting, where I can take all day to aim. If someone broke into our house and I was half asleep, there is no way I could defend us unless I threw the gun at the intruder. All this was occurring before I started prepping and before I found this blog or read any of the survival books, so I really had to think things through being uninformed and all. I asked family and friends for advice and most would pat the little old lady on the head and ask DH if I had had my meds that day.
I searched the Internet. Bought gun and home defense magazines. Went to gun shows. Visited the different sporting goods stores. I made the rounds.
I played out the scenario in my head: It’s 3 a.m. My chihuahua’s growling wakes me. I jump out of bed and grab a weapon just as the bad person bursts through the door. I have one chance to stop the intruder. But what weapon would that be? A FRANCHI SPAS-12 SHOTGUN with a 14” barrel! If wishes were horses – right?
I had to decide what weapon would get the job done. What could I handle effectively today and for years to come? The Mossberg 500 was in my price range and had a good reputation. Then there was Benelli, a choice of some of my friends.
For help, I passed up the big box and sporting goods stores and went to the most respected gun dealer/smith in my area.
I told him what I could afford and he handed me shotgun after shotgun. Putting each to my shoulder, turning around, pretending to be in a fight. Too heavy, too long, too hard to sight, too difficult to load…on and on and then like magic, IT was in my hands.
The moment I brought it to my shoulder I knew this was the one for me. It was a Remington 870 20 gauge Junior pump shotgun with an 18.5” barrel. It wasn’t perfect, but darn near. Flat black, with black strap. No frills. A child’s reliable first gun.
Now, the modifications: we replaced the stock with a Blackhawk Spec Ops NRS stock with adjustable length of pull, pistol grip, and butt cushion. I kept the original forend and added Williams FireSights. The dealer sold me Winchester #3 Buck Ammo and I was ready for – PRACTICE!
I bought an annual membership at the local NRA sanctioned gun club and with safety goggles and earplugs headed to the range. A friend gave me some S&B #4 magnum dove shot and I purchased a box of Winchester Super-Target Target Load #8. The Buck shot would definitely stop anyone coming through my doorway, was easily handled and only had a little kick and the magnum Dove shot was a little too much for home defense inside the house.
But what if I don’t have time to put the gun to my shoulder? I have to be able to control the gun easier than those two allowed. With the target load, I can shoot from the hip using the pistol grip and maintain my grip with the minimal recoil. At 20’ the target load cut my target in half. I have a fairly tight pattern and was told the load would not travel through the walls to the adjacent rooms.
Now weekly, DH and I haul our arsenal to the range and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Most of our firearms are of small caliber with a select few high powered long range guns. My personal gear consists of two hand guns, a rifle, my shotgun, a compound bow, a crossbow, and various knives. Of course, we have the usual non-lethal weapons we carry as we travel. But, if someone is coming through my door at 3 a.m. without a key, they are not delivering flowers.
So, I finally have my baby, the modified Remington 870 20 ga. Junior. Just right for me. Sitting beside my bed.
Shortly after buying my shotgun, I picked up a copy of The Gun Buyers Annual #113 in which John Higgs had written an article about modifying a Mossberg 500C by sawing off the barrel (18” is the shortest legal barrel length) and tube and having both rethreaded, changed out the stock and forend, added a rail and sights and wound up with a shotgun comparable to mine. But mine was a lot less expensive.
I have decided to not modify my tube. Four shells in the tube and one in the chamber should take care of what I need it for. But just in case, a bandoleer hangs on the bedpost.
Everyone should have a plan for what to do in the event of home invasion. No one weapon will work for everyone. But consider you may only have a split second to do anything and it needs to be effective. So the weapon must be the right one for you and your venue. I hope my experience helps someone get an informed start.
God Bless and keep prepping.
This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place : $100 Cash.
- Second Place : $50 Cash.
- Third Place : $25 Cash.
Contest ends on October 10 2012.
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