What sort of gun should you own?  That’s a simple question with a lot of different answers.  I asked myself this question a few years back as I got ready to purchase my first firearm.  Pistol, rifle, shotgun…which is the best starting point?

You could do a lot worse than this:

This is a Mossberg 500 Tactical, which is a short-barrel 12-gauge pump-action shotgun.  You can find more details by going to the manufacturer’s site or looking up the specs online.  I chose it because its a great tool for home defense, ammunition is readily available, and pump-action shotguns are VERY reliable.  Plus, the adjustable stock and side saddle are great features to have.  It cost me around $400 back in early 2011 and has been a great first firearm.

So why a pump-action shotgun?  Well, its a versatile tool that can be used for home defense, target shooting, or hunting.  Mossberg barrels and accessories for the 500-series are interchangeable and fairly common, so changing a barrel or stock is relatively straightforward and inexpensive.  I can put virtually any 12-gauge round through it too, which isn’t always the case with gas-operated shotguns like the Mossberg 950.

I won’t get into the debate over which is best for home defense, that is another subject for another post.  For me, I have my Mossberg 500 Tactical loaded with 5 rounds of #4 birdshot in a Cruiser Ready configuration (loaded, chamber empty, safety on).  I store it upright on a Gun Grabber Home Defense Quick Release vertical gun rack in my safe room so its ready to go if I ever need it.  I keep five slugs in the side saddle and a box of #4 birdshot within arm’s reach in case I have to reload.

Are there better configurations out there?  I’m sure there are, however for around $500 you can start with the configuration (shotgun, ammunition, and Gun Grabber) I just described.  Remember that preparation is a process and getting your first firearm is just one step in a long journey towards building a useful set of weapons and skills that will be ready when you need them.  I’ll cover firearms safety, education, and best practices in upcoming posts.  For now though, use the information in this post to make an informed decision on purchasing your first firearm.

UPDATE:  Thanks for making this the most popular post on the blog!

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