Arming Yourself for the Zombie Apocalypse: How to Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun

by A Manly Guest Contributor on July 11, 2011 · 262 comments

in Gun Skills & Safety, Manly Skills, Survival, Tactical Skills

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor.

As a Survival and Preparedness instructor, I take my line of work very seriously–sometimes too seriously.  Occasionally, though, I like to take on survival projects that are just downright fun.  This article highlights one of those projects.

I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to turn my passion into my profession–this being the study of Survival and Preparedness.  I’ve always enjoyed building survival kits of all shapes and sizes.  I enjoy the challenge of fitting lifesaving survival necessities into small compact containers.  I’ve built survival kits using film canisters, candy tins, key-rings, boxes, bottles, tubes, bags and everything in-between.  For this project, I decided to build a survival kit using a shotgun platform–creating the Ultimate Survival Shotgun.  My challenge was that everything had to be included in or on the gun itself–no extra pack items or containers.  Below is what I did as well as the survival logic behind each decision.

Ultimately your survival needs fall into five main categories.  Your situation dictates the order.  They are:

  • Water
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Signaling
  • Food

Every survival kit must include contents that directly or indirectly meet these five basic survival needs.  The shotgun platform I decided to use is the Mossberg 500 – PUMP.  I chose a pump action because it is easier for me to troubleshoot and work on in the field compared to other models.  I chose the Mossberg brand because it is a very popular gun, and there are literally hundreds of aftermarket modification pieces and parts designed to fit this gun.  I knew I would want to add on some of these extras to increase the gun’s survival value. Below is a photo of the shotgun “off the shelf”–before my survival modifications.

Mossberg 500 Pump Action Shotgun Before Survival/Zombie Modifications

I will now break down each survival modification and detail why it was included in the final build.


First things first: the gun itself.  A shotgun’s primary purpose is hunting.  Clearly, you can use this shotgun as a hunting weapon to “restock” on valuable calories.   Humans can go for three weeks without food, but it’s not fun.  Lack of food leads to light-headedness, weakness, and poor decisions.  In a survival situation, meat is the fastest and most effective way to replenish lost calories.  Meat comes in all shapes and sizes.  Carrying different shot shells designed for different applications increases your chances of a successful hunt.  For this reason, I chose to pack a variety of shotgun shells:

  • Bird Shot: Designed for birds and other small game such as rabbit and squirrel.
  • 00 Buck: Good for turkey and larger game such as deer.
  • Slug: Designed for large game such as deer, hog, or elk.

Your Arsenal: Bird Shot, Buck Shot, and Slugs

In addition to hunting, a shotgun is an excellent self-defense weapon.  It’s easy to imagine the need for a self-defense weapon in an urban or wilderness survival scenario–defending you or your family from man or animal.  Not only is a pump action shotgun a proven deterrent, but it also has some serious knockdown power.  Because of these 2 considerations (hunting & self defense), I wanted to carry as much ammo on the gun as I could.  I filled the magazine and the chamber which holds 7 + 1.  I also added a side saddle shell holder and a screw on stock mount shell holder which together extends my total capacity to 19 rounds of ammunition.  Not bad at all.

Side Saddle for Holding Shells

Side Saddle on the Stock

Signal Flares

Special shotgun shells allow you to fire signal flares.

You are probably wondering what the short orange rounds are on the stock side saddle.  These are specialty signaling flare rounds designed for 12 gauge shotguns.  These flares fire over 300 feet and can be seen for miles.  They are the perfect signaling solution for a shotgun survival kit.  Not only are these EXCELLENT rescue signals but they can also be fired into a prepared fire pit to start a fire.  In survival, multi-use products are key.


5” Ka-Bar Knife Mounted on a Picatinny Rail

I know from experience that one of the most important survival resources is a good quality knife.  It can assist in almost every survival related task.  I found a great 5” Ka-Bar brand knife designed to mount directly to a picatinny rail.  The stock Mossberg shotgun does not have picatinny mounts, so I purchased a barrel mount picatinny rail unit.  This makes the knife easily accessible for quick deployment.  A knife can perform thousands of survival tasks including dressing game, cutting wood and cordage, striking a fire steel, digging, scraping, prying, slicing, and the list goes on and on.  I prefer a larger survival knife, but this one will work just fine.  I sacrificed size for the seamless integrated mount option.


Another tool that assists in survival is a light source.  Without a flashlight, low-light work or travel can be very difficult & dangerous–sometimes impossible.  Not only can a flashlight allow you to be productive in low-light conditions, but it can also be used as a nighttime signaling device.  A good flashlight can also help prevent injuries in dark conditions.  I purchased a flashlight with a picatinny rail holder for the other side of my barrel.  The push button switch on this flashlight is also a compass.  Now, I have a means to confirm direction as well.  This can certainly be useful in any survival scenario.

Flashlight/Compass combo will ensure you never get lost.


At this point I need to be thinking about storage space to house several other crucial survival items.  After much consideration, I opted for 2 additional modifications which gave me 3 separate storage areas.  I first replaced the standard stock with an integrated pistol grip/stock combo unit.  The rubber butt plate unscrews and detaches, revealing a generously sized compartment inside of the stock.

In addition, the pistol grip is hollow which allows for more storage.

I went one step further and replaced the pump hand grip with a picatinny version mounted on a picatinny compatible vertical grip.


Fire kit that's stored in the vertical grip.

This particular grip is already designed to store extra batteries and has a water tight seal.  This makes an excellent area to store fire starting materials.  In here, I stored 6 waterproof matches and a striker.  I also stuffed in some steel wool and a package of WetFire brand fire starting material.  Both of these are excellent fire starting aids even in damp conditions.

Quick Access Fire and Steel Setup

Before I started assembling items to be stored inside of the stock, I carved a groove along the top of the stock to fit a blank fire steel rod.  I used epoxy to permanently secure this in place.  I like the idea of having quick access to the fire steel without taking the time to open a storage area.  Using the back side of the Ka-Bar, I can strike a shower of sparks into one of my fire starting materials to quickly ignite a fire.


Store your multi-tool in the hollow pistol grip.

In the hollow pistol grip I stored a small Gerber Multi-Tool with pliers, large flathead screwdriver, small flat head screwdriver, cross point screwdriver, small knife, nail file, and tweezers.  All of these tools can be useful in a survival situation.  I carved a custom rubber plug for the bottom of the pistol grip from a cheap rubber door stop and spray painted it black.  It is a perfect and secure fit.

Survival Kit

A survival kit that fits in the butt stock of your shotgun.

Next I assembled a variety of survival kit items to be stored in the butt stock compartment.  To remove the rubber butt plate, I use the cross point driver on the multi-tool.  Below are the items that I included in this kit and why.

  • 4”x6” Aluminum Baking Pan:  Available at any grocery store, this aluminum bread pan can be folded flat for compact storage.  A metal container is invaluable in any survival scenario.  It can be used to boil water which kills bacteria, virus, and cysts.  Boiling water is a 100% effective method of water purification.  This container can also be used for other cooking tasks as well as water collection.  The reflective metal also makes an excellent signaling device.
  • Trash Bag: A trash bag has a myriad of survival uses.  Some of the most practical are poncho, water collection, ground tarp, make-shift shelter, solar still, and flotation device.
  • Fishing Kit: This kit includes 20 feet of 30 lb test line, 5 assorted fish hooks and 3 sinkers.  Not only can these items be used for fishing but the line can also be used as cordage for shelter building, gear repairs, or animal snares.  Bank lines can be set at night to work while you rest.
  • 2 Non-Lubricated Condoms: By design, condoms are watertight.  They make amazing water containers–capable of holding about 1 liter of water each.  They are very lightweight and compact and make great back-up water collection and storage containers.  They can also be used to protect fire materials such as matches and dry tinder.  You can also fill these with clear (but not purified) water and leave them in the sun for 48 hours for UV purification.
  • Water Purification Tablets: Boiling water is not always possible or practical.  Chemical water treatment tablets are an excellent back-up water purification solution.  They weigh virtually nothing and take up very little space.  You can fill up a condom with water and use a tablet to purify it.  They also have a very long shelf life.  Chemical tablets are not very effective on cloudy or dirty water.  The water must be fairly clear.  You can pre-filter using clothing or a bandana.
  • Emergency Survival Blanket: These survival blankets are designed to reflect and trap your body heat in a cold weather survival scenario.  They also make excellent make-shift shelters, ground tarps, ponchos, rescue signals, and fire heat reflectors.
  • First Aid Supplies: (packed in zip lock bag): 3 adhesive bandages, 30 SPF sun block packet, 2 wound closure strips, 2 Ibuprofen pills, 2 Acetaminophen pills, 2 Calcium Carbonate pills.
  • Carmex Lip Balm: Not only for obvious reasons, but this petroleum based product can be mixed with natural fire tinder such as cattail down.  Doing so can extend burn-time up to 5 minutes which is very helpful in fire building.  This is an excellent multi-use product.
  • Whistle: Even though I have signal flares, a rescue whistle is always a good idea.
  • Small Bic Lighter: This is the easiest way to start a fire.
  • Snare Wire:  Snares can work for you while you are working on other tasks–such as sleep.  I’ve included 25 feet of snare wire for building traps.  This can also be used as cordage or binding for a variety of projects.

Emergency blanket in survival kit can be used for shelter.

I carefully wrapped most of the items inside of the trash bag for water proofing and then stored everything in the stock storage area.  All of the kit items only weigh a few ounces.

What the survival kit looks like in the butt stock.


Makeshift Survival Saw

One tool that I use extensively while on survival trips is a handheld folding saw.  It’s not practical to include one of these in this shotgun kit.  However, I did incorporate a suitable work-around.  A saw is an excellent tool for cutting larger fire wood or collecting limbs & trees for shelter building.  I purchased 2 replacement bow saw blades and cut them down to fit the span between the back of the pistol grip and the butt stock sling stud.  I added another sling stud to the bottom back of the pistol grip which allowed for 2 anchor points.  Using 2 small bolts which I keep in the stock, I can secure 1 of the saw blades on these sling studs–creating a perfect make-shift bow saw.  I chose to pack 1 blade designed for wood and 1 blade designed for metal to give me versatility in a variety of survival scenarios.  The blades easily tuck into the butt stock compartment when not in use.

Saw in action.


Make your gun sling from braided paracord.

At this point I am still lacking sufficient cordage.  Never underestimate how important cordage can be in a survival scenario.  My favorite cordage is 550 Parachute Cord.  I always like to keep as mush 550 paracord with me as possible.  It can be used for all kinds of survival functions from climbing ropes to shelter construction.  550 paracord is comprised of 7 inner strands which can be used independently as well.  These lines make excellent snares and fishing line.  For this reason, I also added a shotgun sling made from approximately 80 feet of braided paracord.  If necessary I can unravel the sling and use it accordingly.

Another view of the paracord gun sling


I finished off the sling by tying on a bandana.  I have used a bandana in more ways than I can count while camping and backpacking.  It is an incredible multi-use product that I know for a fact would be very useful in a survival situation.  Below are just 15 great bandana survival uses:

  1. Filter/Sieve for dirty water
  2. First Aid Bandage
  3. Dust/Sand Mask
  4. Hat
  5. Signal Flag
  6. Dew Rag for collecting dew as drinking water
  7. Container for collecting berries, fruit, nuts, etc…
  8. Cut/striped into emergency cordage
  9. Cleaning Rag
  10. Neck Gator – Cool Weather
  11. Evaporative cooling neck band – Hot Weather
  12. Filter for Bush Tea (filtering out seeds, leaves, bark, etc…)
  13. Eskimo sunglass to prevent sun blindness.  Cut eye slits in the bandana.
  14. Trail Markers – strip into pieces
  15. Last ditch toilet paper

Locked and Loaded

So there you have it, the Ultimate Survival Shotgun ready for even the worst scenario.  It offers multiple solutions for securing food.  It offers multiple solutions for collecting and purifying water.  It offers incredible signaling devices.  It includes shelter building materials and also several “fool-proof” fire building methods.  It also includes a knife, a flashlight, 80 feet of paracord, 2 saws, and a complete first aid kit. If the zombies still eat your brains when you’re carrying this thing, it’s your own dang fault.


However, it is still missing one very critical piece.  Survival is 90% mental.  Keeping your morale and spirits high is absolutely critical.  Finding your inspiration and motivation for staying alive can get you through even the worst of situations.  The will to live is more powerful than any skill or tool you can buy or improvise.  I always include something personal in every survival kit I build–an item that might keep my spirits lifted and remind me of what I’m fighting for.  It can be anything–a photo of your girlfriend or your family, a song lyric or a motivational quote.  It must be meaningful and inspirational to you.

So finally, for inspiration, I had one of my favorite passages engraved on a small metal plate which I affixed to the receiver of this survival shotgun:

Now…I’m all set.

Many of the lessons in this project apply to building any kind of preparedness kit for urban or wilderness survival.  Basic survival principles apply to almost all survival scenarios.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and have taken something away that you can use in your own preparedness efforts and projects.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN.


Addendum: Many have asked about the weight of the gun and where you can get the modifications mentioned. Before the modifications, the gun weighed 7.5 pounds, after the modifications it weighs 9.5 lbs. For a list of where you can get the supplies, click here.


Creek Stewart is a Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft.  Creek’s passion is teaching, sharing, and preserving outdoor living and survival skills. Creek is also the author of the book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. For more information, visit Willowhaven Outdoor.

{ 262 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caleb July 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Sweet kit. What is the overall weight?

2 Alex July 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I love America.

3 AxsDeny July 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

What does the entire rig weigh after assembly? Is it something that would be manageable in tight-quarters zombie slaying?

4 Fred July 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Gotta love Mossberg 500′s. I’d have gone with a full choke. Also, that gun’s not gonna point for shit without any weight in the stock

5 JohnS July 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Very nice, gonna have to go home and play with my Mossberg 500!

6 jeremy July 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm

whats the price of everything totalled up?

7 Marty W. July 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Bingo Caleb, that thing must weigh a TON. And whats wrong with keeping things in your pockets? If your firearm is stolen, or you ditch it because its out of ammo and its really heavy and you cant run as fast with zombies behind you… there goes your survival gear too. I think a belt mounted gp pouch and a good pistol would be a better option.

8 MyBrightSpot July 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I think the aa12 would make an awesome ZA survival gun!

9 JB July 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm

That’s pretty sweet but wouldn’t the weight displacement make aiming a bit unwieldy? I have a Mossberg 500 “Turkey Thug” with an adjustable combat stock so I wouldn’t be able to pop in the survival kit. I have to have the adjustable stock so my much smaller wife can use it too. Yes, my wife shoots a shotgun and it is extremely hot.

Tying into the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse theme there is a run going on a few hours north of me in Nashville where people will be being chased by zombies. We’re thinking of driving up and running…probably couldn’t bring the shotgun though. It is called the Zombie buffet 5k (site: Never seen anything like that done before but it looks pretty awesome.

10 Zander July 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I’m sure there will be plenty of comments like Marty’s…questioning the practicality of the gun. But I don’t think it’s supposed to be practical. The author says it’s just a fun project. FUN. And it really is! I really enjoyed this post, even though I will never make one. It was just fun to see. Thanks!

11 Jay July 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

So fucking awesome. Brilliant fun.
Fun brilliance.

12 Timmeh July 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm

One thing for sure, though, this guy is THOROUGH, and very clever.
It’s funny how little ammo can actually be carried on this gun though – 19 mixed rounds could run out awfully quickly. (actually, I have no idea how careful people are with ammo, or how much it takes to take down an animal – I’ve never been near a gun or hunting before)

13 Alessandro July 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

very nice article!

14 Thomas July 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Very nice boomstick, but certainly not for zombie killing. Any real zombie aficionado knows that the scattergun is NOT a zombie killing weapon. Going by the Max Brook’s definition of a zombie, you are infected by fluid contact. If you shoot a decomposing, undead, walking chunk of meat with buckshot, you’re going to spray infected matter everywhere, including onto yourself, thus you will be infected before long.

The ultimate zombie survival weapon? It doesn’t exist. Personally, I will be carrying a GSG-5. The GSG-5 is a semi-automatic, .22 caliber rifle built from the HKMP5 pattern. It will be suppressed, so I can avoid revealing my position. I will also carry a Yugo AK-47 with underfolder stock as my oh-sh*t weapon, and a Kimber 1911 as my sidearm.

Aside from my firearms, I will pack VERY LIGHT. Zeds are slow-movers, so our mobility is our greatest asset. I will be wearing a pair of black Emerson G2 combat pants, a black TruSpec combat shirt, and spandex running shorts down below (spandex, accept no substitute). For kit I will wear a black trench coat, with an Eagle Ind. CIRAS vest over top, finger-less Oakley SI Assault gloves, Belleville 790ST boots, ESS Turbo-Fan goggles, a pair of earmuffs, and a sniper veil (a sniper veil is essentially a shemagh made of a different material. It is made of a cotton mesh, so it breathes FAR better than a shemagh). Plus, of course, magazines, flashlights, etc.

Of that list, I currently own the Emerson pants, a TruSpec shirt, Belleville boots, trench coat, earmuffs, sniper veil, and goodies to fill the vest.

Oh and one thing I noticed about your shotgun; the bayonet is rather useless that far back. It does not extend past the muzzle, so you cannot stab with it, so what is the point of having a knife on the end of your gun?

15 MALS July 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Interesting article. There are a few problems with the design though.

1: Weight. The shotgun, with all of this trash attached is going to be too heavy to swing around in close combat, and it’s going to tire you out carrying it around. The lighter your weapon is, the easier it is to bring to bear, and keep in the firing position.

2: Durability. The shotgun’s stock is ill-concieved. You are going to have to use it to kick some zombie ass eventually, and what you don’t want is for your stock to break off halfway through a good ol’ fashioned cold-cock.

3: Size. This thing is big. And by big, I mean huge. It’s far too long to be of use in CQB, and too easy for a zombie to snag onto, making the noisy-end point in an entirely incorrect direction. That sling? No. Just no. It’s gonna get grabbed. As for overall length, you DO NOT NEED A BARREL THAT LONG. If you’re firing your heavy, valuable, complex shotgun shells at targets far away, you’re fucking doing it wrong. Get a .22, or a .223 for that shit. Remember, the only shot that counts is one that destroys the brain.

Your weapon should NOT have multiple uses. It is a weapon. It has one use. To maim and kill your enemies. To sacrifice end usability even in the slightest is folly. You have a backpack for a reason, survivor.

16 Jack Scott July 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I find it quite clever how much fun you can make preparing for various boring world-ending scenarios (Nuclear war, fire, flood, etc) by just introducing the word ‘zombie’.

Nice work!

17 James Ekleberry July 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm

What was the overall cost of the kit?

18 Matt July 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Should’ve placed the knife a little further down the barrel so ti could act as a bayonet.

19 John July 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm

It’s quite obvious that some of the weapon’s attachments fall into the “just because I can” category. Hilarious post!

20 Alpha Caveman July 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm

can someone please post a link as to where i can find directions to make that sling?

21 Dave July 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Why’s the blade mounted with the point behind the muzzle? Doesn’t that make zombie-stabbing a bit tricky? Also, wouldn’t it be simpler to start with a 590A1 instead of the 500? May even be cheaper by time you bolt all that stuff to the 500.

22 Jay July 11, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Ummm… yeah. Ok, I fully well acknowledge that the scope of the article was to go with an idea of kitting a gun with things needed for survival (in a zombie apocalypse of all situations…). But…

#1 question is the weight. I mean the kit included is without a doubt good to have and also necessary but really, is it realistic to strap everything to the weapon? It makes the weapon unwieldy and tiresome to handle and carry.

#2 The weapon as sole means of transporting survival essential items? If you lose that you lose everything and there are situations where everything not strapped/secured to your body becomes an instant loss. I would not recommend anything other than carrying them in a waterproof pouch/bag secured to your person through a sturdy enough a belt.

#3 No signal mirror?

#4 This is important, no amount of boiling and water purification tablets will make water contaminated by poisons/chemicals/pollutants safe. It will kill bacteria yeah. It is just that mentioning such a detail might be advisable as most water supplies around populated/industrial areas are not suitable for consumption without adequate nanofiltration, sometimes even not then. There are streams that look pristine and are found in the wilderness but the source of which can be an old or existing industrial area. Also, using chlorine based water purifiers can lead to the formation of carcinogens if the water has a lot of organic particles/compounds in it (still forest lakes, swampy areas, bogs).

#5 Hunting as the primary means of gathering sustenance? Extremely remote and challenging areas like deserts and mountainous regions being the exception, if there is no food to begin with but you have water and you know even the approximate direction to civilization there is no place in the US that you could not walk out of in a reasonable amount of time. The lack of food will not kill you. Lack of water, accidents, medical distress and adverse weather conditions are way more likely to kill you than lack of sustenance. Also, preparing game takes time and poses challenges/dangers of its own. The primary use of a firearm in a survival situation is signaling and personal protection. Hunting is totally secondary and devoting time/energy to that can be downright foolish as in it can steal time from more important tasks (like actually getting out of the dodge instead of dwelling in it).

There are a lot of things that are more important to survival than anything the kit laid out here can respond to or help with. Things like knowing the environment you are in beforehand, the overall layout of the land, areas to avoid (hard/hazardous terrain) where to go and how to reach help > how to get out of bind the quickest, the local weather patterns, how the weather can change, first aid, navigation without man made aids, edible & medicinal plants/roots/grubs in the region etc. And this is all before we go to the psychological side of things and working in a group under stress and such. Sorry for sounding like Mr. Serious but bad advise and lack of right advise/info can end up killing people. Not saying that anyone here would take this article as their sole source of survival info but still… there are things where there is room for improvement there and I could not help but chime in.

Good choice on the Mossy btw., that is one tough bastard that just works and works.

23 Jay July 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Oh, forgot a few other things that belong to my kit:
- Surgical scissors
- Cellphone
- A survival/emergency charger for a cellphone and other small electrical devices
- Extra batteries (for the cell etc.)

The world does not just completely end or stop on it’s tracks even if zombies would start to roam the streets, being able to communicate with people longer than what one charge of a cell phone battery lasts might be rather valuable…

24 warhawke July 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I am going to have to disagree with this article. I respect the author for his attempt to bring the subject of survival weapons to this blog and his solutions may well be fine for him, and that is fine, he is free to do as he pleases. I have a few issues with his execution however.
1) shotguns are very limited in their capabilities. Yes you can use a wide variety of ammo types but you will often find that what is loaded is not what you need when you need it. Having a slug in it when you suddenly need birdshot, or birdshot when when you need buckshot. The other issue is shotgun ammo is heavy and bulky, 100, 00buck rounds weighs about 8lbs which is slightly more than twice the weight of 500 .22lr rounds.

2) putting lights and extra ammo and stuff on it does provide extra equipment for survival but makes the weapon less handy for actually shooting. The weapons light is fine and smart but side-saddles just throw off the balance and catch on stuff in the field, especially in heavy brush. Likewise putting stuff in the stock disturbs the balance and makes good hits harder. The ‘Bayonet’ is junk, better to have a good knife in the stock or on your person instead of catching on brush. I think I would eliminate the barrel mount for the light as well and just mount it on the rail on the forearm and reduce the weight and improve the balance.

3) the sling on a rifle or shotgun is like a holster for a pistol, having a sling that you can use for another purpose sounds great but what happens when you need the paracord and the sling at the same time? Better to wrap the stock in para cord or get the paracord bracelets and hang them on the stock, either way the weapon will still have the sling and you will have the cord. A good sling with a pad would allow you to attach a small bag or knife on the sling instead of the gun.

As I said, having a shotgun or other longarm in your vehicle or otherwise accessible is great, but hanging a bunch of stuff on a weapon thinking you will only have one thing to grab is a bit simplistic. A bag with ammo and supplies stored with the weapon would be a better solution.

25 TrickyDick July 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Being lefthanded, I’ve always liked the tang safety on Mossys. But they’re difficult to operate with a pistolgrip stock without compromising your hold.

I’d also try to find someplace else for the paracord and use a good padded sling like a VTAC.

26 Mike July 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Awesome post! Loved the integrated saw and full tube on the scattergun. To a few others comments, that little weight in the stock won’t throw off the shot..more than likely help balance it with the knife and light upfront. Besides its a shotgun, so you’re within 45 yards fully choked not 500 yards where an inch becomes yards. Total weight won’t be an issue with that sling. Thanks for the post!

27 Patrick Sievert July 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Oh my goodness. Some of you people really need to stop taking everything so serious…

28 Gard July 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Boy, that’s a lot of crap to stick on a shotgun. Sometimes it pays to think counter-intuitive and go for simplicity.

29 Bruthaman July 11, 2011 at 8:08 pm

As a Survival and Preparedness instructor, I take my line of work very seriously–sometimes too seriously. Occasionally, though, I like to take on survival projects that are just downright fun. This article highlights one of those projects.

Obviously some of you missed that part…. lol lighten up!

30 Rob July 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm

My god.
At first I was thinking this was totally tasteless, but then I read more.
This, this is great. I laughed too hard and the actual shotgun-cum-BSA-pocketknife is amazing. I love it and want one now.
All I have to say is: “Eat you heart out Teddy Roosevelt “

31 Dustin July 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm


What ever the hell you can get your hands on!
Zombie invasions don’t wait until your at home staring at your guns!

32 mike July 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm
33 Properal July 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I like AOM because it is not afraid to publish articles about firearms. However, this article seems to lack basic firearms safety and sensibility. The firearm in the articles seems very impractical, epically the saw on the butt of the fire arm. It looks like the firearm could go off while you where sawing if you were not very careful. In an emergency situation it could be very easy to forget that the gun was loaded. While the saw blade is on the firearm is more dangerous to the user than any foe. I expect more practice articles on firearms by authors that respect firearms. Or maybe I should just see it as satire and just enjoy the article. The title did hint at the seriousness of the article.

34 Tyler S. July 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Everyone should read “Emergency” by Neil Strauss. And every one should invest in a “bug-out-bag” or “evac-pack.” I highly recommend researching them for when SHTF.

35 Travis July 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I approve the choice of Mossberg over a Remington, as far as shotguns go. There are many aesthetic and ergonomic differences that would cause one choose either one for their reasons. My reason, the shell feed ramp. When loading a Remington, you must push the ramp up to feed rounds into the tube. With the Mossberg, when the bolt is home, it rides flush giving unrestricted access to the feed tube. One less thing to go wrong when fine motor skills are fleeting.

36 Dave B. July 11, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I second the request for info on how to make a paracord sling! This seeems like too fun a project to miss.

Realistically, in a survival scenario, you would want the tool best suited to your defense at a variety of ranges. I am aware that with sufficient training and/or good optics/sights a shotgun is capable of delivering slugs past 100m, but this is far beyond the scope of almost every person who would attempt this build let alone pick up a shotgun. Also, recoil operation of the action is a skill that requires practice; at contact distances, a real possibility under this premise, a non-stopping shot and slow reload could be fatal. A shotgun is best suited to situations where high stopping power, low range, and low penetration are necessary; this is why it’s such a popular home defense weapon.

The best tool for combat survival is a modern semi-automatic rifle chambered in a common cartridge, such as NATO 5.56 or 7.62. Most of these weapons are proven in reliability and function, their actions and safeties fall far better under the hands than those of archaic weapons (like 99% of shotguns…), and they deliver as much firepower in a single shot as a shotgun shell (~2000 ft lbs) with the promise of a fast follow-up shot. They also allow the shooter to control far more of his environment; a reasonably skilled shooter should be able to stop a man-sized target in very short order from 1.0-200m under pressure.

I recommend the AR15 simply because of its known effectiveness, modularity, reliability, and price. There really is no more bang for your buck, pun definitely intended. You can even choose to load it with survival goodies as per this article at the expense of an adjustable stock, but I’d recommend keeping your weapon’s mass low and build flexible except for essential upgrades.

37 pwag July 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

A million times no.

I realize this is in good fun, but what you’ve just made is the ghetto cruiser of shot guns.

A virgin Mary statue and some fuzzy dice are all that’s missing and the stereo that goes BOOMP BOOMP BOOMP BOOMP BOOMP.

Maybe something chrome that spins.

38 Tony July 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Two words, Mall Ninja. I love my Mossberg 500, but this is rediculous. You’d be better off having some decent amount of survival supplies in a belt pouch and/or backpack. Keep the knife on your belt. I sort of agree with the 550 cord but I keep a 50-75 meter hank in my backpack and usually 10-15 meters in a pocket.

If this was a tongue in cheek thing then he shouldn’t try to claim survival skills/professionalism at the front.

39 Bill D. July 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm

While I don’t necessarily agree with some of the inclusions on this weapon system, it is supposed to be for fun so I would just like to say one thing to all the detractors.

The knife is not a bayonet. He never claims it is and if he were to move it forward for that purpose, it would get shot by the pellets when the gun is fired. The compass would be pretty useless since it is right next to a large magnetic contaminant.

The shotgun is actually a very good survival/hunting tool. He needs more ammo storage, yes, but the mossburg 500 actually has easily replaceable barrels for different uses. You could keep a longer barrel for birds at distance, and a shorter one for killing Zack. A backpack that goes along with the gun would be a great addition. You could hunt just about anything and it would still make a good defense weapon.

40 TM July 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Outstanding! AoM very seldom disappoints but their take on zombie defence has left a lot to be desired.

41 Adam July 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm

ha, I loved reading this article; my favorite part is the Bible verse on the gun from Psalm 23

42 Chris July 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Fun and interesting article. Scary comments…..why must people argue with anything? i really didn’t think Art of Manliness was a safe haven for psychos but it’s sounding like it.

43 Chris July 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I just looked – it looks like he sells the sling on his site for $47:

44 Pat July 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Wow, this is awesome. I want one! Also, as mentioned in previous comments, I’m curious to find out the total weight and cost of putting this together. I’ve just got one suggestion… a few yards of duct tape rolled up and flattened out would be a nice addition to the survival kit in the stock if there is room for it. Other than that, great job.

45 Phil July 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I don’t know what the purpose of the bayonet is, but it certainly isn’t a bayonet as the blade doesn’t even protrude past the barrel.

46 A Climber July 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I am an active and avid rock climber. Some wisdom for you based on one of your suggested uses for 550 cord. NEVER USE IT FOR CLIMBING. It’s not shock or load rated for climbing by any means and while a single strand can hold your weight, It won’t hold much more than that.

47 Bryan July 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm

god bless ‘merica

48 Victor Sly July 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Hey, wait… That kind of looks like the guy who died on Dawn of the Dead!

49 kj July 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm

this was a good read coming from a non-gun guy. job well done!

50 Mike Uher July 11, 2011 at 11:42 pm

@ Dave B., I totally agree on the AR mindset. properly modded, it has more potential than any other firearm out there (simple bolt swap, and mag change and you are firing .22lr, as opposed to .223 or 5.56, which is much better suited to rodent hunting than a .223 or 5.56) plus upgrades. The saying that an AR is a barbie for men is true. The only things I found a little hard to swallow with this build, was his choice of knife, and light. With the hand guard he chose, he could have had the light on the slide, rather than attached to the barrel with that extra piece. And if he would have chosen a 590A1, he would have had the option of using a bayonet as the knife, rather than that rail knife (which is marketed by Cheaper Than Dirt as a pistol bayonet). Any military bayonet would have worked (to include my favorite bayonet ever, the new USMC one.) PLUS iron sights, for that little bit of extra standoff. Now, as a zombie weapon, the shotgun has pros and cons just like the rifle. But as a survival gun, it has alot going in its favor. Depending on the cambering, you can shove just about anything into it, and it will fire it (as long as it is the same gauge, though I feel this goes without saying). They fire a much larger solid projectile (think .75 caliber vs .223 caliber) and can fire shot. With practice, they are very easy to use, and pumps, lacking the recoil, or gas systems of many auto loading weapons, are much simpler to maintain, and less prone to malfunction. Downside, well, follow up shots and felt recoil. Ammunition capacity, ammo weight, length of the actual firearm. All that being said, his tricks to store stuff in the shotty, and his trick turning it into a saw (with regards to shooting it while sawing, just ensure there is no round in chamber, and that it is cocked. this will lock the slide, and there will be nothing to go “bang”) was all very clever, and ingenious. I am thinking about replacing the collapsible stock on my AR so I can do to it what he did to the shotty. Good read, gave me some great ideas.

51 JeffC July 12, 2011 at 12:52 am

Really, everyone, relax. This was just for entertainment, and to provoke a little thought. I’ve been hunting a dozen times, and in some fairly remote places, but never gave a thought to such simple things as signaling devices, fire-starting equip, and heat-conservation tools, for example, not to mention basic first-aid supplies. This article was an entertaining, and I walked away convicted that I’ve been foolish to be so cavalier about taking basic precautions. I’d carry my gear in a daypack, but from now on I’ll be sure to have it with me.

As a matter of fact, my only complaint with this article is that the author used the word excellent no fewer than 10 times in a 2500-word piece, and it became distracting after the third use.

Oh, and you guys who are experts on non-existent creatures… unless you’re a professor of classical literature, that’s not manly. You really could be using that time to actually better yourselves. Maybe here:

52 Fin July 12, 2011 at 1:12 am

Awesome, awesome post! Yeah, yeah, it may not be entirely practical, but things don’t always need to be practical to be interesting and worthwhile. Men like to do things simply to see if they can be done. And that’s what we have here-a man seeing what can be done and showing us the results of his cleverness, skill, and imagination. And what brilliant results! My hat’s off to you, sir.

So yes, I join Jeff in hoping people will relax…but at the same time I have to slap my forehead at the spectacle of a man telling others to relax for taking the piece too seriously, while feeling the need to complain about the number of times the word “excellent” appears. Talk about needing something better to do with one’s time! I do hope he takes his own advice and checks out that book list. What a tool bucket.

53 Ryan July 12, 2011 at 1:19 am

I think it would be appropriate to add a few tampons to the medical supplies, great for soaking up blood.

54 Justin July 12, 2011 at 1:47 am

That is AWESOME! Just remember in zombie survival a shotgun is fantastic but a sword never needs reloading.

55 Steve Harrington July 12, 2011 at 1:52 am

One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. What a fun challenge to take on.

56 Kevin Terris July 12, 2011 at 2:01 am

Nice, glad to see people taking the zombie apocalypse threat seriously. We may be gun nuts now, but come Z-day we will be the survivors.

57 Phil July 12, 2011 at 2:08 am

One of the things they used to preach to us in Basic Training was to never lean your weapon against a tree.

58 BenG July 12, 2011 at 2:20 am

Wow. I laughed. But, dang this comment string is kooky! And then I laughed agin.

I love this blog.

59 Stephen July 12, 2011 at 5:12 am

I agree that giving your expert credentials opens you up to criticism even if you do something “for fun”. It’s like if a philosopher uses a fallacy when arguing with his kids: it’s just fun but the professional should know better.

60 Michal.P July 12, 2011 at 5:16 am

The knife should be more in front. So you can stab and slash the closest zombie :D.

61 Dave Lewis July 12, 2011 at 6:41 am

Find an old US WW1 bayonet – they’re about 15″ long and will actually do some good when hung from the muzzle. And you might think about adding a compartment for a .45 automatic, a 40mm grenade launcher, and a couple of rolls of duct tape.

62 jacob July 12, 2011 at 7:42 am

Zombies? highly unlikely, Communists? oh yeah, they’re at the gates as we speak.

63 Mark July 12, 2011 at 7:44 am

This is hilarious. The funniest thing I’ve seen or read in ages.

Only in America. Love it.

64 Matt July 12, 2011 at 8:26 am

Very cool idea trying to fit all survival gear into one object. Obviously some things are over the top, but I think it would be fun to do this with other tools as well. Stay creative because that helps keep you alive in those situations, right? I’ve always liked the idea if you are ready for zombies you’re ready for anything. Way to keep things fun.

65 Brian July 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

I’m going to have do disagree on the choice of weapons. A shotgun is an excellent pick for survival when not concerned with the mobile deceased. A suppressed Ruger 10/20 would be a superior firearm for dispatching the dead.

A 10/22 with supressor, as seen here:, would allow for greater ammunition capacity, quicker reload times, be more accurate and less likely to attract the attention of nearby shamblors when fired. With a 12 ga. shotgun you’d be able to destroy the brain housing group on a dozen walkers but, would soon have exhausted your supply of ammo and find yourself within the snack radius of a mob of zed-heads drawn by the loud shot blasts.

66 Matt July 12, 2011 at 8:38 am

You can’t be serious… take all that crap off the gun. You really want to haul around a 20# shotgun? Put survival gear in a bug out bag if you really think you’ll be bugging out. Strip the shotgun down to minimum. Hopefully this wasn’t meant as serious “survival” info. Read up and prepare, people. Food, water, fuel, protection. Stand up for your 2nd Amendment rights.

67 Seth B. July 12, 2011 at 8:44 am

I actually have something constructive to add./

Boiling water is not a 100% way to purify as it may still contain heavy metals that can cause a great deal of sickness, distillation is a 100% method.

One thing I might suggest is to add a straw-type filter to your buttstock kit. It takes up a tiny bit of room, but is better in an emergency situation than just chemical and boiling-type water purification. I believe they’re limited to only 10 gallons or so, but even at that rate, they’re better than nothing but purifier tabs.

68 Jimmy July 12, 2011 at 8:45 am

Interesting article. The “Kabar bayonet”, should be removed. Carry the knife on your hip, were it belongs.

Did really like the “paracor sling”, though.

69 surratt July 12, 2011 at 9:12 am

tooooooo. cool. yeah, funny but cool. I needed to smile this morning.
He definitely looks ready to deal with anything.

70 Neubert500 July 12, 2011 at 9:13 am

I wish to thank the author for a fun, thought provoking write-up. He did mention at the very beginning that he did this build for fun. It has inspired many passionate opinions of what he did wrong, (in their eyes). I find it very ironic that this article was written on my birthday, as I work on my Saiga 12 Zombie Defense Shotgun

71 Brian E July 12, 2011 at 9:18 am

I can’t believe how many keyboard commandos didn’t get the satire in this post. This is a “FUN” project. The title says “Zombie Apocalypse” not “Disaster Preparedness,” fer cryin’ out loud. That being said, the Mossy 500 is a fine choice for a “fun” project because it’s cheap, ubiquitous, has a large aftermarket and performs well enough. It wouldn’t be my choice for a TEOTWAWKI gun (neither would a $2k AR) but it’s a fun project on a gun I wouldn’t mind bubbafying and I think it could even be pretty handy thrown under the seat of a truck until you needed it.

72 IG July 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

Wow, what a fun article…..But how much does that thing weight? 15 lbs?

73 RickyD July 12, 2011 at 10:27 am

Most awesome weapon of mass destruction ever!

74 TheTomCat July 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

Damn that is awesome. I to want to know how much it weighs, before and after.

I want to do this to my Ruger 10/22 now!

75 Brandon Cordoba July 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

This post is SO AWESOME! Thank you Creek! :)

76 Brandon L July 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

This was SUCH a cool post. It just goes to show how you can customize and modify one item to do triple and quadruple duty. Obviously, this is meant to be as over the top as possible, but you could incorporate any of these tips in a practical way and be ahead of the game.

77 Sean McKee July 12, 2011 at 11:22 am

Sweet gun! One thing you are missing is a wheel. It might be a little to heavy carry. How much does to weigh?

78 Quinault Squatting Bear July 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

Absolutely hilarious article!

79 Billy May July 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm


80 Albert July 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

This post is pure awesome. Thank you.

81 charlieinthebush July 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

As long as this thing is a “fun” build…I say ditch the hollow stock supplies and insert a love doll of your choice. “This is your weapon, and this is your gun…”

82 DesertRat July 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Some of the information is useful, some is not and some will get someoen killed. Even if this is written as entertainment someone’s going to try it.

Side-Saddle: Nice use them myself.

Picatinny Rail Bayonet: Was developed as a joke and is about as useful as one. If you really want a knife on your shotgun get the Mossberg 590A1 that has mounting points for a standard M-16 bayonet.

Flashlight: Provided it’s mounted in a way it can actually be used useful. In ths case it’s either on or off. The ability to flash a room while maintaing a shooting grip is not possible with the example.

Compass on the backside light mounted next to a steel shotgun barrel. Compasses are magnets that are usually attracted to steel. You have to point the gun toward your feet to accurately read the compass and how are you going to read it in the dark? It’s on the back of your flashlight.

Storage: Clever ideas all so long as the gun isn’t unwieldly from all the added weight.

Saw: Pushing and pulling a gun with it’s muzzle pointed towards you or someone behind you is a fast way to get yourself nominated for a Darwin, Sued, or put in jail.

Paracord Sling: I liked these until I needed to use the cord for something, then I encountered the how do I sling my weapon problem.

83 Texian July 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm


The Mossberg 590 has a lug that will accept standard AR-15 bayonets. If you are going to mount a blade onto the shotgun, might as well make it usable while on the shotgun in the process. As well, the 590 is parkerized.

I like the general theme of the article, but do not like loading a weapon down with accessories that do not server the primary purpose of the weapon. If it is truly a “survival weapon”, i don’t like having to dismantle it, or utilize it for other tasks, when it should be at the ready at all times.

84 Texian July 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Just saw Desert Rats comments, he and I seem to be of the same mind.

Flashlight: Provided it’s mounted in a way it can actually be used useful. In ths case it’s either on or off. The ability to flash a room while maintaing a shooting grip is not possible with the example.

I have my surelight mounted to the barrel on my 590. When my hand is on the slide, it its normal position, my thumb activates the light.

85 LaudanumMilkshake July 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm
86 Keith VanDyke July 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Great article! A Mossberg 500 is like the Leatherman of shotguns! I would like to see how you did the braid for the sling.

87 dave July 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Pitchfork. Done.

88 YB July 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

what is the final as built weight and cost of this baby?

89 Roger Tucker July 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

This is good stuff, but I went a much more simple route. A chain saw produces much more gore.

90 Ivan K. July 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm

As an entertainment article, it’s great. I’ll keep my tech/survival opinions to myself. The only thing I have a serious issue with is the survival saw part. That just screams “unsafe.” *sawsawsawBLAM….Honey, have you seen my face anywhere?*

91 Scott Bridwell July 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Okay…I love this…I just wish it had a parts list and pricing.

92 Jin July 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Good to see that people are catching the “boiling water is 100% effective” bit, but I have to add that the condom method of purification doesn’t work well either. The types of rubbers used in their manufacture (latex, polyurethane, polyisoprene) either absorb UV radiation or worse, degrade after too much exposure. This increases the chance of introducing chemical contaminants into your water.

Of the readily available container types that function with solar purification, look for clear PET bottles, the same type that water gets sold in anyways. Usually it’s set up with a reflector behind to help catch more light. Look up the SODIS method being deployed in 3rd-world countries if you’re interested (hint – it’s also actually only 6 hours of full sunlight; 48 hours is an approximation of the “two consecutive days” recommended for overcast weather). Some glass bottles can be used, but some are too thick to allow for effective purification, and if you’re in the wild and drop it, oops, there goes your day’s water.

Also, a plug for Platypus bottles. A vacuum flask or Nalgene might be great if you need the structural stability or it’s something you’re clutching, but I’ve always kept a Platy to store water in instead. When the water’s gone, they roll up and pack away in almost no space/weight, are tough and reusable, and as an added bonus, they’re made of PET.

Another note about condom carrying and usage: they break down with heat, so storing them overlong in an enclosed, heated environment (shotgun stocks, wallets) negates their usefulness when it comes time to put them into play. A decidedly UNmanly outcome.

93 Sean July 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm

That. Is. The. Coolest. Post. Ever.
I believe we should start a push to have this as a chapter in the Zombie Survival Guide.
Well done!
Makes me want to write Zombie books instead of Mysteries!

94 Luis July 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm

A disclaimer would be nice. Although the article in general is awesome there are some things that shouldn’t be taken as “expert advice”.

95 Michael Brennan July 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Have to agree with Bridwell, this is an excellent article that would only be better served if it included a parts list with vendor source info.


96 PE Simard July 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Great post. I’d suggest a possible revision for the inspirational plaque, using a phrase common while I was in the service. Simply change the last line from “Thou art with me” to “I’m the meanest S.O.B. in the valley.”

Just two cents. Keep up the good work.

97 robert michael herbert July 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm

mmmmm shotgun is a fail. 8 rounds and 30 seconds to reload? give me an ar 15 or an ak/mak with 30 rounds, 3 second magazine changes, easier to carry 300 rounds and significantly longer range. all without the recoil of a 12 gauge. in a “zombie” ( or any other) combat event the only shotgun worth using is a saiga 20 with 10 round mags but you still have three times the down time for reloads, less range and heavier load out. a 5.56 out to 500 meters solves the problem. 0,00 or 000 buck will not not penetrate a skull at 50 feet (get a coconut and try) and a slug is not as accurate after 100 feet.

98 John Baldari July 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Very fun and ingenious. Raises great questions even for the overly-serious-minded. Ignore the naysayers, you have the full support and admiration of those that have some idea of the spirit in which the weapon was built and the article written.

99 Incognitum July 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm

G’darnit! Never bring a gun to the zombie apocalypse. You simply can’t carry enough ammo, and the more you shoot the more zombie hordes are attracted by the noise. A katana is the perfect zombie weapon; simple yet elegant, and it can decapitate the undead until the end of time.

100 J. Koch July 12, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Oh i dont know, i think this is a great idea. would i do *all* of these mods? maybe, maybe not. does it make me want to go out and get a moss 500 and try some? sure. I was wondering, they make flashlights that have a small crank on the side and thus dont *need* batteries at all. could one of those be re-purposed for barrel mounting? seems logical to me. and Hell, I think a bayonet is *always* a good idea. Even if one runs out of ammo, the weopon isnt totally useless, and with the bayonet and the sawblades and paracord, a bow could be constructed till more ammo could be found.

Personally, i would use this idea in *addition* to a survival pack, and small survival kits stored in vehicles. Still and awesome article. Thanks!

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