Best Guns for Homestead Use

Find the best guns for hunting, varmint and predator control, and home defense.

| November/December 2015

  • Gritty is no stranger to the old Hoppe's No. 9.
    Illustration by Brad Anderson
  • Rifles of varying calibers, and even shotguns and handguns, take on many jobs out in the country.
    Photo by Lorain Ebbett-Rideout
  • As important as anything else to be passed down to the younger generation, gun safety is always at the forefront.
    Photo by Steve and Dave Maslowski

Homesteaders rely on tools every day. Firearms are an important addition to the belts of those who have chosen to do for themselves. When used safely and properly, firearms can perform a multitude of tasks that no other tool can. We have mauls for splitting the wood. We have wheel hoes to tune up the garden rows. We have knives to butcher the meat, and wrenches to fix the equipment. Our guns fill the freezers, as well as protect our families, homes and livestock. Each and every job is important.

A homestead firearm lineup doesn’t have to include dozens of guns. In fact, a handful of carefully chosen tools can perform a majority of the tasks at hand. When choosing the proper homestead guns, there are three major considerations: gathering food, varmint and predator control, and protecting home and family. These duties can be achieved with a small assortment of shotguns, rifles and handguns.

Gathering food

What’s the point of growing all those potatoes and ears of corn if you’re not going to have a freezer full of wild game to complement them? Sure, not every homesteader enjoys a rare red-meat steak as much as I do, but to those who like their food to go from pulse to plate, guns are as important as the shovel that helped grow the sides.

Shotguns: The list of available shotguns is a long one. However, the list of shotguns that a homesteader needs to gather food is relatively short. A single-shot, break-away .410 is a great starter shotgun. This setup is easy to learn and use, making it a great hand-me-down for the next generation of providers. It’s a small game machine that has turned countless rabbits, squirrels and up-land game birds into breakfast, lunch and dinner. The .410 is a great little gun for protecting the peach tree harvest from squirrels while at the same time supplementing your protein diet.

The most popular and efficient shotguns for gathering food remain the same old 20-gauge and 12-gauge models that have been around for decades. They offer a bigger bore than the .410, allowing the homesteader to take down bigger game. The 20 gauge damages less meat than the 12 gauge, so it’s great for most game birds like quail, grouse, pheasant and turkey when chambered with birdshot. It’s also powerful enough to take down medium game like coyotes and even high flying waterfowl.

Twelve-gauge shotguns come in many shapes and sizes. They’re most commonly offered in pump-action and double-barrel break-away options with both side-by-side and over-and-under barrel configurations. Some 12-gauge models can also be fitted with rifled barrels, allowing the homesteader to use them with slugs to increase the bullet’s stability and accuracy. Many a 12-gauge slug has penetrated the kill zone of a whitetail deer, filling the freezer with meat to feed the family through winter.

4/15/2019 8:45:51 AM

One needs to make any determination of caliber on the terrain and animals indigenous to the area. A .223 is great in open areas but in heavily wooded areas I prefer the .308 or 30.06. Our local DNR agents were initially issued 9 mm Glocks they now have .40 caliber, far better suited to their needs. One agent told me he once emptied his Glock 17 (9 mm) before killing a bear that treed him.

12/13/2016 7:56:33 AM

Mossberg pump 12 gauge with 00 buck for home protection, 9mm, 357, 45, 556, 308 for all the rest, these are the easiest ammo to find or scavenge. The rest are difficult to find ammo for and thus not a good idea for long range planning and prep. Why bother with 223 when a 556 will shoot both?

12/12/2015 9:38:31 AM

So funny for such a liberal publication aligned with many anti-gun orgs. To have a pro-gun article. Mr. Welch, your colleagues might just disavow partnership with you now ;)

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