I present to you, my take on an all round survival and/or woods gun. This is my H&R Model 58 Topper.
- 28″ barrel with fixed Modified choke and plain brass bead
- 43″ OAL and 14.25″ LOP
- 6lbs (combined weight of gun, 5 rds 12ga, 9rds .22, and Short Lane adapter is 9lbs)
These shotguns combine quality, reliability, handiness, versatility, and low-cost in a nice little package. You can find them new for around $150 and they need little maintenance, other than cleaning the barrel. They have a crisp, but heavy (~9lbs) trigger pull, and as long as the trigger break is crisp, I don’t mind if it is on the heavy side. I grew up with one of these as the family shotgun in 20ga and remember taking squirrels just fine with it. My particular shotgun was a heck of a deal. One of my friends on the sub bought it new to hunt squirrels and took it out once, shot less than a box of ammo through it and left it sit in a closet for a long time. He found it when we were all packing up our houses to change home port to HI. He asked if anyone wanted it, and $50 later, I had this little beauty in my hands. I used it in HI for shooting trap, and after my first 50 rounds through it, I realized that I was in sore need of a recoil pad and a couple Tylenol. After buying that Limbsaver recoil pad, I started tinkering around with ideas to improve my new acquisition. I removed the butt plate and fond this wonderful little compartment that could hold any number of survival goodies. I then got an Ace slip on butt cuff that holds 5 rounds of 12ga. Fast forward a couple of years and I’m here in San Diego and I find a cool little device called a sub caliber insert from Dyna corp. Made of aluminum and rifled, this 2 3/4″ insert fit well into the stock of my shotgun along with an empty shell with a small fishing kit inside and another with a fire starting kit. This seemed ideal until I got the little insert out on the range. Accuracy was poor at the beginning and only declined from there as the aluminum “rifling” started to get worn out after 20 shots or so which then turned into key holing at 15 yds. I was really bummed out because I loved the idea of the sub caliber insert to turn my shotgun into a multi caliber hunting tool. I let it go for a few months and then Dave Caterbury showcases a new sub caliber insert from Short Lane Arms on his Youtube channel. This one has a rifled 8″ barrel and is made of steel. After hearing how much Dave Canterbury liked it and with a 10% discount for pre-orders, I picked one up. I haven’t been able to really wring it out until recently. It holds decent groups as is, but a set of real sights instead of a standard bead will greatly help this. I am currently looking at Brownells for a generic set that I can mount to this and I am also giving thought to simply mounting an old SKS rear sight leaf somewhere on the barrel. I think this last little bit will complete my project and give me an awesome tool for putting meat on the table for any given situation, be it an enjoyable hunt with my buddies or for survival. Check out my youtube channel for range testing of this gun in its current configuration. I apologize for the poor (total lack of) editing in advance.
Update: After I finished writing this, it looks like I got beaten to the punch for good survival setup. I still like mine better.