After completing the Turd Nugget and making it my full-time truck gun, I have given some thought into using in the survival rifle role. A good survival gun should be dependable, affordable, accurate, light weight, and versatile. My current survival gun, a 12ga single shot H&R, definitely fills all of these roles quite well. You simply cannot get more versatile than a 12ga shotgun as Dave Canterbury has shown with his love of exactly that shotgun. With the adapters from ShortLane arms, you can shoot 20ga, .410/45LC, .44mag, .357/.38, 9mm, and .22LR all from a 12ga shotgun. It will handle all shot sizes from #8 bird loads through buckshot and slugs. Dave has also shown that it can be easily used to shoot black powder using an empty 12ga shell, 209 shotgun primers, powder, wadding material and anything that will fit down the bore. Lastly, a field expedient slug can be made by using a knife and any 12ga round by cutting the plastic shell above the powder charge but under the shot cup, leaving a small bit of plastic holding the shell together.
Dave Canterbury, a man whose opinion I respect greatly, is very big on using one for obtaining game. However, my ideal survival gun is something that I can use for defense as well as for harvesting game. A 12ga will most definitely kill anything in North America, whether it is on 4 legs or 2, and it will do a damn fine job of it inside of 50 yards, maybe 100 if using slugs. Personally, I am of the opinion that the best defensive tool is a rifle. For the rest of the article, when I refer to a rifle I am talking about large-caliber center fire ones. .22s and other varmint types have their own role and are not relevant to this article. The defensive advantages that a rifle has over any other type of firearm are pretty simple. It is leaps and bounds more powerful than any handgun period. A handgun is a necessary compromise as most of us cannot conceal/carry a rifle on our person every day, and as the late Col. Jeff Cooper has taught, a handgun is used to fight back to your rifle. Rifles give you power at range. They are more effective at longer distances than any shotgun. They are easier to get accurate hits with than handguns. Rifles are simply the king when it comes to saving your bacon.
Now, all that being said, one might question my choice to use a full size military caliber to take small game with. A 7.62x54r will easily vaporize a squirrel or rabbit and will render most meat from a raccoon or coyote inedible. I have found several options that might give me a solution. They are both inserts that allow the user to fire a much weaker round out of the Mosin Nagant. These devices can be had in other calibers as well, but we are talking about Nuggets here. The first is one from Sportsman’s guide and is a simple steel chamber insert that converts the rifle to .32acp.
Contrary to popular belief, the .32 acp is not actually .32 inches in diameter. Across the pond, it is correctly referred to as 7.65x17mm which equates to a .311 bullet diameter. Most Mosin Nagant barrels actually slug .309-.311 inches depending on manufacturer and bore condition. I have done a lot of reading about these, and most people opted for the 7.62x25mm conversion in order to shoot cheap ammo with reduced recoil. The consensus is that these are fun but are for plinking only, not even yielding decent “minute of squirrel” groups at 25m sometimes with some key holing. This, I believe is mostly due to the .307-.308 inch diameter of the Tokarev round not engaging the rifling as well as the normal bullet. For my purposes, I am not too concerned with cost of ammo or recoil reduction. I want to humanely kill small game and I have a decent amount of .32acp on hand already. The energy from my .32acp loads is 123 foot-pounds out of a handgun. Give it some extra barrel length with a slightly tighter bore and the pistol round should not produce too much more muzzle energy when coming out of the Mosin. For comparison, my Ruger 10/22 with 36gr Minimags obtains the exact same muzzle energy of 123 foot-pounds and it has proven itself time and time again as a wonderful small game gun. This option will be explored first due to the low cost of the insert. My only concern is that this insert will not be accurate enough for small game duty. In my research, no one has shared exactly how well these specific inserts group.
Next up, we have the Hammond Game Getter. These use a .22cal blank and a swaged round lead ball to effect small game hunting. They are easily loadable in the field and exhibit good accuracy from what I have seen on Youtube. These seem proven and aside from the cost of $45, the only downside is that .22 blanks aren’t the most moisture resistant things out there. This is the fall back plan if the less expensive insert doesn’t work out. I will give a full write-up once I get my hands on one.