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 }

101 PEDRO July 13, 2011 at 2:18 am

Really a Left 4 Dead reference…?? Katana??

JEFF C was absolutely right….

Idk why I even clicked on this……

Thanks you JEFF C for pointing me back in the right direction…

I got on the site to check out the 100 must read books….

YOU WANT TO BE MANLY……?? Read to kill a mockingbird and strive to be like Atticus Finch..

Ever since I got my kindle and started reading on the train on my way to and from work..(its about 2 hours each way) I get ALOT more female attention..

They are always asking me what book I’m reading… If I like it… where did I get my kindle….bla bla bla they’re wayyyyy more into me now then when I would just sit there listening to my ipod..

I guess my 10th grade spanish teacher was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT when she whispered in my ear

“Girls like guys with big “Dic…..tionaries” TRUE STORY..!!

…… zombies..?? wow..


“LIfe’s hard. It’s even harder when your stupid” -John Wayne

102 Marc July 13, 2011 at 2:31 am

I have Max Brooks “Zombie Suvival Guide” Good book to read. Very informative.

103 Jerry Jones July 13, 2011 at 4:07 am

Dude, you put a lot of work into that shotgun.
No sight improvements?
No trigger mods?
No slicking up of the action?
Did you patern it?
How about a corrosion proof finish, and/or camo?
Did you forget that a shotgun is first and formost a GUN and not a survival fanny pack?
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. You made a saw of it!

104 guy July 13, 2011 at 9:07 am

Take all that junk off the shotgun and put it into a shoulder bag.

105 Albert July 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

I understand that this article is meant as humor, but anyone that knows anything about Mossberg 500′s knows that you don’t put a pistol grip stock on it. The safety switch is on top of the gun… All the other mods are obviously meant to be fun, but the pistol grip suggestion is actually stupid and dangerous.

106 Chop July 13, 2011 at 10:49 am

Actually Albert… putting the pistol grip on it is not dangerous in the least. I would actually say it is just as safe, if not more so. for the simple fact that you have to seat your hand after turning off the safety as opposed to being able to do it without moving your hand

107 Steveweiser July 13, 2011 at 10:49 am

20 lb shotgun? Lame

108 Chop July 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

Creek, i liked the article and i thank you.

I would much rather carry something besides the shotgun to carry all of that stuff in, but you had some pretty cool ideas.

109 Will July 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

Two be sure, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, nobody wants two. That said, anyone who has ever carried a shotgun in actual combat has to be laughing. I am.

Weight is a factor clearly ignored by most. Shot guns are close quarter defensive weapons with a limited close quarter assault function. Shorten the barrel, and chamber, yes you sacrifice rounds in the chamber, but you gain agility in the close quarter, by removing weight and shortening at the meaningful end. Practice loading on the fly to overcome the shortfall.

Pistol grips and pump grips also hinder agility, and the pistol grip can cause hand and wrist injuries, not something you want when you are fighting for your life, forget them. Flashlights are aiming points for the villains, forget them and preserve your night vision.

Knives are a last resort better left hidden, but handy. Carry a good hand gun of your choice and training to back up your shotgun. Listen to Jerry Jones and buy a good fanny pack with a quick release .That’s my not so humble opinion.

110 Sarge July 13, 2011 at 11:24 am

Lots of interesting individual ideas, but packing all that stuff around on your weapon all day while scrambling over rough terrain hunting and/or fighting will flat wear you out.
You can carry a lot more weight on your back or shoulders than in your hands. Better to put together a nice bug-out bag or shoulder/sling-type pack. That way, your survival gear is separate from the weapon in case you break it, lose it, etc. Pistol grip stocks work better on Remingtons, with the safety on the trigger guard. Mossberg fans will tell you the 590 is a better choice. Stick with the rifle style stock.

111 Maverick Kirton July 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

I thought it was an awesome article, Creek, regardless of the nits others seem to enjoy picking. After watching many survival and near-death shows on Discovery, one thing I’ve noticed is that there’s almost always a point of separation between the survivor and their gear. Sometimes equipment is lost through a fall from a cliff, a tumble down a mountain, or from being swept away by water. It makes sense to keep as many copies of crucial gear as you can possibly carry. You are, after all, fighting for your life.

Given the choice, and only a second to spare, I’d rather grab a shotgun than a backpack, if it offered the same contents. It just makes sense. It’s like having a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife that can blast animals into edible chunks. What backpack – apart from standard issue Al Quaeda backpacks – can do that?

To all those who believe it would be overkill, let me ask this: How many tools, gadgets, and utilities would be too much when you are stranded in jungle/desert/artic tundra all by yourself, wondering how you are going to make it through the night? After all, this is a zombie apocalypse shotgun… Who doesn’t want a shotgun during an army apocalypse?

112 fearsclave July 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Anybody who knows anything about shotguns and wilderness survival will recognize the project as the hilariously funny satire that it is. Loved it!

113 Will July 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Maverick, if we are talking survival, after an unexpected fall, plane crash, or other unforeseen act of fate, you are not going to be able to hold onto a “20 lb. shotgun”. Two very light weight, waterproof, slightly buoyant, belt mounted kits, work for this along with a light weight side arm of sufficient caliber to take down a bear, and a light weight 22lr for food would be ideal. Compartmentalize so you do not loose your whole kit.

If your talking Zombies, a light weight butt pack, with a separate quick release pack and load bearing harness system, with a light assault weapon, light shotgun, combat knife and good sidearm are better choice.

Kit separation in either example is a game changer. Having to drop your shot gun or die, in this set up is a really bad scenario…its all gone.

114 bennyb July 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I remember when we were preparing for the Nuclear attack

115 Jtheletter July 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Albert – I don’t see how you can say “anyone that knows anything about Mossberg 500′s knows that you don’t put a pistol grip stock on it” when Mossberg themselves sells such a gun:

In fact if you look at their shotgun configuration page you will see they sell all sorts of pistol grips both as off-the-shelf and kits:

So if you think this is stupid and dangerous maybe you should take it up with the manufacturer. Also, I would argue that anyone with proper gun safety training will have no issue handling such a gun in a safe manner.

116 John D. Shea July 13, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Great article, Creek :) Don’t mind the haters.

117 Reginald Garrett July 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm

As satire goes, this is hilarious. However, I agree with actual experience in that you don’t want to have too much gear in one device like this. This should be used as a weapon and hunting device. The sling and signal flares are also a nice touch. All of the other things distract from this main purpose. Weight, and maintenance would prove to be a distraction for this in the real world.
That being said, I do rather like the maximized ammo approach. Just don’t keep one in the chamber. That is so dangerous and Hollywood that it must not be encouraged.

118 Chris E. July 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Haha great read. I always have my Zombie AR, Zombie Shotgun, Zombie Glock, and dual Zombie Chainsaws ready at a moments notice.

119 iubi July 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I thought it was awesome and showed how unprepared I and millions of others would be.

120 ARP July 13, 2011 at 4:30 pm

People are taking this seriously. It’s more of a fun academic discussion.

Having all your gear tied to one item, while convenient, means that you could lose everything in one fall, a moment of forgetfulness, etc. I’d rather have the gun and then a small pack, etc.

Re- Zombies. The great Max Brooks has told us that a lower caliber carbine is your best bet. A LR.22 will bounce around in a rotting brain, has little kick or noise and doesn’t weigh too much. Since you want to carry as much ammo as you can, that would be your best bet IMO. Shells are heavy. Deerslugs are overkill and almost any shot won’t do enough damage unless you’re at close range (and you don’t want to be at close range). True- at a few paces, they are devastating. But if you’ve got 50 shufflers coming at you, it’s best to keep your distance, take your time and pick them off. Perhaps a Desert Eagle for close range when you need a few Z’s dead, fast.

121 Fred July 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm

They had a good laugh at my expense when I installed my dual-saddle-mounted-5-gallon-water-jugs on my Winchester 870, they wasn’t laughin’ later when they got thisty and I had t’ go ahead on n’ blast’ em!

122 Larry July 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm

As retired Command Sergeants Major Richard L. Cunnington (may he rest in peace) would say, “A gun is like a parachute. If you ever really, really, really need a gun and don’t have one, chances are you won’t ever need one again.” I like the concept.

123 y July 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm

pedro – what the hell kind of teacher says something like that to a student? disgusting

124 Evan M July 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm

If a man want’s to throw a bunch of expensive plastic on his shotgun that’s his business but while I have never used a shotgun in combat, I do hunt with them and here are some of my observations;

-Pistol grips generally ruin the pointability of shotguns. This is why hunters and competitive trap/skeet shooters generally don’t use them though you can find them on shotguns used for turkey.
-Assuming that since it is a “survival” shotgun and will be used to hunt for food, I question the choice of the short barrel especially since the short tactical barrels usually use a fixed choke.
-The bayonet. The point of a bayonet is the make a gun into a spear. The barrel of this gun is much to short to make a bayonet useful at all. Anything to tried to stick would have to be on you. You’d better off using it as a club. In short, it’s just a mall ninja toy.

125 MasterRanger July 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

This article is chock full of win. All sorts of things you can use here.

126 Ollie July 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Friend of mine used a shotgun in Vietnam during an attack on his fire base. The fight lasted all night. He used over 300 rounds. His shoulder was never the same; I think he got some sort of disability from it. Cannot imagine a pistol grip; I’m not strong enough nor big enough for that item. I own a Mossberg 500 but leave it as is. Intended for home defense. I think most people watch too many macho movies and come to believe that a fire fight is a lightweight adventure. I suggest you remember to bring toilet paper to a fight. You’ll need it.

127 Eric July 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Great article! I always enjoy Creek’s guest posts, and this one didn’t disappoint. Ignore the complainers. It was a fun project, and he did a great job with it. I don’t share many articles online, but I sent this one along. I can’t get over how many people missed the point on this! Keep up the great work, Creek!

128 Chris July 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Look guys, the whole idea of this was to be fun. Your negativity though has totally ruined it. If you don’t have anything productive or even remotely positive to say, keep your mouth shut. And to the people who said “Just put all that in a shoulder bag”, did you not get his clear and concise point that the whole point was to have the survival kit on the shotgun?

129 Ryan July 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Some really ingenious stuff here, love it! I think the makeshift saw was the most creative mod, a great around read.
Too bad we have such strict gun control here in New Zealand a pump action shotgun would get me arrested immediately!

130 Patrick July 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Fun article! Haters can go read another blog.

131 RATSLUG July 13, 2011 at 8:21 pm

When my 22 repeater runs out, my axe doesn’t. And I could cut your middle finger out of your fist with it. It doesn’t run out of bullets either.

132 Braden Lynch July 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

FYI: Mossberg 590A1 SPX already has a bayonet mount and comes with one, too.

133 Mike S July 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Does the fire-starting rod in the top of the buttstock dig into your cheek when firing?

134 Buddy Love July 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Ghey. Strip all of that sh*t off of there except for a light and the Sidesaddles.
Or get an AR15.

135 Lloyd July 13, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Not bad, except for the knife and saw [little benefit mounted that far back and using the saw creates bad habits]. Decentralization relates to more than the FED, but if redundancy is the goal…

136 Jacob Alvarez July 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I like shotguns. I also like surviving. Why not have the best of both worlds? Coolest shotgun I’ve ever seen. Thank you for the article.

PS – Haters. Maybe one day you’ll write a blog about something you like and will have some haters of your own. Enjoy!

137 Michael D. July 14, 2011 at 2:19 am

Kudos good Sir, well done, I really enjoyed this post one of my favorites this year. I am very impressed with how much You were able to get done with a shotgun. Thanks for sharing with us here at The Art of Manliness

138 Bingo July 14, 2011 at 3:46 am

One of the coolest posts I’ve read in a while! AoM worthy for sure!

139 P.M.Lawrence July 14, 2011 at 4:40 am

I was wondering about three things:-

- Does the gun materially affect the compass reading? If so, can the compass be detached easily for use away from the gun?

- Would it be practical to provide the knife with a way to mount it for bayonet use as well as for secure carrying, with a quick and easy way of fixing the bayonet for use?

- I’m uncomfortable with the stock storage cover needing to be fastened with screws, not only because they need a tool to screw and unscrew them which might get lost and which takes time, but also because it is so easy to lose screws. Is there a practical alternative way to secure the cover without these issues coming up?

140 Joanne July 14, 2011 at 6:47 am

Great article, Creek. Now I know what I want to do with my Mossberg.

141 Darren July 14, 2011 at 6:48 am

Thanks for a good laugh. I would add one more thing…more cowbell. You’re gonna want that cowbell.

142 Richard G Evans July 14, 2011 at 7:08 am

NO I am not a fan of guns. But I sure as hell am glad our military carries them, as well as the police!!! People need to recognize the difference between satire and promotion of violence. Nothing was promoted here other than some laughs. It is ironic that the “gun opponents” seem to be the ones truly suggesting violence here.

143 Chris Homan July 14, 2011 at 7:34 am

Good grief, people! Some of you need to buy your undergarments about two sizes bigger. A guy comes on here and submits a pretty damn cool article just for fun, and he proceeds to get blasted by gun and survival “experts” everywhere. It’s a sickening thing to see.

144 VII Hefner July 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

I absolutely loved this article! The fact that he successfully used a shotgun to make a stand alone survival kit is ingenious and absolutely fun. The best part in my mind is that all the “over the top” mods can be done to an easily replaceable pistol-grip attachment. I would absolutely make all the mods to an attachment that I could easily remove and return back to my “not z-day” purpose shotgun. I love it Creek! You are the man!
Sadly there are a lot of overly opinionated people out there, so don’t let their negativity get you down!

Random Awesome Man Quote (RAMQ)
~Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death. Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

145 Jared July 14, 2011 at 9:52 am


As for the negative comments…

No sense in being the jackass whisperer…just keep moving forward with GREAT posts!

146 steve iacampo July 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

Very cleaver. Great job and very informative. Thank you.

147 apachetears July 14, 2011 at 11:06 am

Nice, well thought out design.
I use a 20 ga Boita double with cut down barrels at 18 1/4 inch, the stock is drilled for four extra shells and fire maker with material. a small mill bastard file and a cheap small razor knife of the coupon cutter variety. The overall paint scheme is flat black and olive.
Two old style .45 Auto magazine pouches attached holding four rounds each 2 slugs, 2 buck shot, 2 #8 shot and 2 #4 shot. I made it for Canoe trips and for general SHTF Situations in my truck. The Shotgun is an old model bought for about $25.00 back in the 80′s Nuke war scare days. The condition and appearence would not lead LEO/Authorities to consider confiscating should they find the old gun.
Which is what I have to comment on for your shotgun, any LEO or authority upon seeing your gun is going to do what the authorities did in Katrina in NOLA and confiscate it because it “LOOKS” dangerous.
Zombies or no Zombies the gun controllers will be there.
That’s why I like it though!

148 Bevan July 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Great fun article. I would put less on the gun and the model would be different but it gets the brain cells working.

149 Lurker July 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Yeah, but can you hunt with it?

Where’s the margarita machine?

150 charlieinthebush July 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

jackass whisperer. that’s hysterical, I’ll be using that one.

far as pistol grips on mossys. I have one of those knoxx stock pistol grips with the recoil system on my 590A1 and I can shoot slugs all day without a hint of bruising. as opposed to the first 6 slugs I put though it with the factory stock making all kinds of bruising colors for several days.

and about the safety. I don’t utilize it the same way I snick a 1911 safety on/off clearing a house, so it just stays on or just stays off.

151 Sean July 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

That… is horrendously silly! Also… probably the most awesome damn shotgun I’ve ever seen.
Practicality aside, EXTREMELY well done. I probably would have left out the saw, but kudo’s for creativity using the grips none-the-less!
An impressive display of creativity, workmanship, and above all, manliness!
Well done sir.

152 Ron Hausermann July 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Very interesting and can see the practicality of the shotgun How and where to purchase
the add-on parts and what would be the estimated cost of parts and assembly??

Thanks again for your insight,


153 Flynn July 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

great idea for the shotgun and making the weapon cover multiple situations however, for the a Zombie survival weapon – I am not so sure of its overall use.

Supplies will always be of short supply in an apocolypse situation, investing all of these tools (namely the knife and flashlight – two very key survival instruments) into one location is overinvesting in the platform. If the worst should happen and during an attack, the shotgun must be left behind, you now have also lost all of those assests. The better idea is to have them spread-loaded across your body and other carrying locations.

The Shotgun should include a one point sling instead of the traditional 2 point sling. The 1 point sling would allow for operational use and act as a “dummy cord” to the body. Often times in a zombie attack, gaining distance between the assailant and yourself is key. The one point sling will keep you from losing the weapon during any time of distress and allow for you to sling the weapon and address the zombie issue at hand with two empty hands.

I do not disagree with you at all on the importance of all the other items but as you know and have said, weight will always be a concern, a Mossburg 500 is the ideal weapon with the upgraded pistol grip and pump handle.

154 Frank July 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I enjoyed this article but most of all I enjoy seeing a good thinker at work: self-reliance at its finest. I think I will take away a few great ideas here for my truck gun. Thank-you.

155 Hank July 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Thanks, that was the funniest crap I seen all day. How much does that silly shotgun weigh?
Of course we all know a Mossberg 500 with 18″ cylinder bore barrel and a folding stock is the best backwoods utility survival gun. A folding Buck knife worn on your belt and butane lighter in your pocket, a bladder canteen and you’re all set. Leave the rest of the junk at home.

156 James July 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm

If you cut two slits into each side of a double 00 buck shell at the base of the plastic so that the two slits have about a centimetre or two from each others ends, the round behaves like a slug by detaching the plastic tubing and containing the buck shot in a single mass, helps if you’ve only got 00 Buck shot.

Also if you alter the weave of the sling you can fit shells in paracord loops along it increasing the amount you can carry on the “self contained kit”

I was just made redundant by a survival training company so this kind of stuff is right up my aisle, but kudos on generating some interest in this field of expertise, I keep survival kits all over the place, I have specific ones such as the one I keep in my car, ones I keep in my hiking kit, others I keep around the house so I can grab them on the way out etc. You can never have too many, and once you’ve collected together your perfect kit, you’ve got time to make another one ;)

157 Ben Wilson July 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

how do you weave/braid the parachute coed like that? Thanks for the cool article

158 Native Son July 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I’ll take this as a fun, somewhat tongue in cheek post.
Especially after reading the title.

159 Andrew B July 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Wow, that is awesome! There’s a large slew of reasons (ergonomics, quick shouldering, etc) why you wouldn’t want all that weight on your gun, but the bold ingenuity of what was done here just made my day, brilliant!

160 Andy F July 14, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Honestly, this is a great idea. Although a bit on the heavy side, this shotgun goes way above the call of duty that a regular survival kit would do for you. Although, to be fair, anyone who has seen the movie “The Edge” knows that knowledge is your greatest tool-and weapon.

161 Danny July 15, 2011 at 1:26 am

This is a sweet post…I wouldn’t put a saw on the butt, only cuz I’d end up cutting myself with it….but in a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! You’re right on target with your upgrades! Sheeiiiiittttt…..sorry for the french….but I’d add some of these features to my 590 just for to go Wabbit Huntin’…

p.s. who aims when you’re firing a shotgun?…lol
come one guys…

162 CavalierX July 15, 2011 at 7:59 am

What’s missing are links to the various add-on products the author used. Those would be extremely helpful.

163 Amazed July 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

Amazing article. Thank you.

Your comment about including condoms in your kit reminded me of a conversation my 90 year old uncle had with his granddaughter. They were watching a History Channel episode comparing a WWII issue kit pack with today’s gear. The host made a point about the inclusion of the condom in the WWII pack “for those odd nights off in town”. My uncle laughed loudly. His granddaughter asked him why it was funny. He made her blush by saying “We didn’t use those for sex. We used them for our rifles. We knew the consequenses of sex, and of a rusty rifle. We feared the rusty rifle more than having our di**s fall off”. I thought my young cousin was going to crawl under the couch. Then my uncle realized his “Did I say that out loud” moment and explained, “We used the condoms to cover the barrels of our rifles when they slung. In Italy we worried about water (humidity) in the barrels causing rust. In North Africa, we worried about the sand clogging the barrel, and the condoms were the best fit”.

164 Neal July 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm

The idea behind a survival kit is to be something you can simply grab out of the vehicle or the closet and go and yet have everything required to get easily get by in almost any given survival situation. This shotgun covers those requirements admirably. Once on your way and setting up camp, there’s no reason to keep the added weight on the gun and the items could be redistributed around your person.

165 B.E. July 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm


You’re a genius! I’m not sure about a Zombie Apocalypse, but that shotgun of your’s is brilliant! I can imagine the shotgun comboed with the Bug-Out Bag would be the go-to survival kit for virtually every scenario!

Fucking brilliant!


166 Rofl July 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

This is freaking AMAZING. Epic stuff. However…in case of a real zombie apocalypse I’ll be running to the nearest gun store first!

167 Ralph McLaney July 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Re: How to Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun
This was indeed an excellent and thought provoking article.

My comments regard only the author’s selection of the model 500 series from the Mossberg line up.

The only real weakness of selecting the Mossberg 500 shotgun is magazine tube access. Such things as leaking buffer from a defective shell crimp, dirt and rust can turn a repeating shotgun into a single shot. The model 500 has to have the entire magazine tube removed in order to replace the follower spring or clean the magazine tube.
The 590 series Mossberg designed for military use, uses a conventional magazine cap to address this problem.

The 590A1 with six shot magazine, metal safety, metal trigger guard and fixed three dot sights would be my choice from the Mossberg product line. A simple pull through type cleaning kit with a small container of CLP type gun lube should also be included for shotgun maintenance.

168 Joel Adelman July 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm

If you have a 10/22 Ruger you can defend yourself, hunt and fish and carry a life time supply of high velocity ammo with you. 1500 rounds is about four pounds.

169 Adam July 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Awesome idea, only problems I see are: 1, with the saw, you are now waving a gun back and forth, which isn’t exactly the safest thing to be doing, and 2, if you slide the rails up a couple inches, you go from having a fancy knife holder to a bayonet, which is the reason that the knife actually has the rail mounts on it.

170 Sara July 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

@Flynn good point but if you lose your shotgun chances of surviving go down very far very fast.

171 Shawn July 16, 2011 at 1:43 am

Well done MacGyver, –
This was an interesting exercise in utility and except for the fact that breaking your most important tool, (shotgun) trying to saw wood that could be broken with a large rock or other method might drive you to hang yourself from a tree with the paracord that you wove into your sling.
Much more important than the gizmos is this guys ability to creatively find solutions to problems that may present themselves. He gets to come along with my group of Preppers because of his ability to solve problems and his understanding of mindset and mental prepardness. (although he would have to get approval before he starts to modify the Power Generation System by adding a capachino machine or toaster…)
The weight of this zombie blaster isn’t any more than a Rem 870 with 7+1, a side saddle with slugs and a tac light, so until it hits about 10 lbs it is still manageable.
The real question for MacGyver is: are you tactically trained to use that shotgun? Can you run and gun and keep that thing fed in a firefight? Can you clear a type 3 malfunction quick enough to keep it from turning into a 7.5 lb black stick in the middle of a shootout?

172 Tom July 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Pretty cool article. The saw is awesome. I really like the hollow stock!

I have to say, the shotgun looks too long. I’d like to see it be several inches shorter on the barrel side.

173 Matt Nichols July 17, 2011 at 12:18 am

Very well done. I recently bought an inexpensive mossberg 88 that would be very interesting to turn it into something similar to what you have here. If nothing else at least keep some small emergency supplies in the stock.
And don’t pay any mind to the trolls.

174 Tsahvong Lah July 17, 2011 at 4:27 am

You should have found a way to put a hatchet in/on there.
Or maybe a bayonet.

175 Jeff July 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Remember the good ol days when people just used pockets to put things? This is a very useful article if you want to blow $100 dollars just to make your shotgun less efficient

176 H July 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Very interesting concept.

The best thing I took away from it was the idea of using the buttstock for storage. It never really occurred to me. I could definitely see myself throwing a few essentials into mine. My kit would be a bare bones spare kit (and tailored for my location) for the dedicated pack though. I like the idea of using a paracord sling.

Thank you for sharing!

177 Paul Quasne July 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I thought this was a great feat of ingenuity. Great article. And the saw blade is for when you run out of ammo, you turn it around and hold it by the barrel and start swinging that bad boy around taking off zombie heads as you go. DUH!

178 Caleb July 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Small problem, slugs require a different barrel than traditional shot.

179 Jiyani July 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Interesting but not for my choice of gear.
I believe I AM a survival kit:
Magnesium firestarter block on my key ring, .45 Colt auto on one hip, Taurus .410 shotgun revolver on the other, food knife lockback in one pocket wit h clip, lockback stilleto in the other, two handkerchiefs in back pocket, Super bright two cell mini flashlight on belt (also good as a kubatan, or yawara stick) , single edge razor blades in shoes between inner soles and shoe sole. Then I am dressed and ready to grab any additional gear such as my boogie bag which contains further emergency items such as were stuffed into or onto that shotgun. This is not just when nthe alarms are sounded, this is regular “always” readyness.
While you must get to your shotgun, my stuff is at hand.

180 DavidFilmer July 18, 2011 at 3:13 am

Amazing bit of work. The saw blew me away – VERY creative. I’ve used my knife as an axe, and wished I had a saw (at least a better saw than the one on my Leatherman).

What ratio of shells would you normally load? I can see the ones on the external clips and guess at most of them, but I don’t know what’s inside the tube. I’m most interested in those, because those are the ones that are immediately available, such as when an opportunity suddenly presents itself.

You keep a shell in the chamber? If it were me, I’d rather carry an extra shell in my pocket than keep one in the chamber – especially if I were not alone.

181 Doctorlivingstone July 18, 2011 at 11:23 am

Caleb said “Small problem, slugs require a different barrel than traditional shot.”

Actually it’ not a problem at all – there are two types of slugs for use with a rifled barrel you refer to – generally referred to as Foster slugs, and slugs that are designed to be used with a regular non rifled shotgun barrel – or Brenneke slugs.

182 Doctorlivingstone July 18, 2011 at 11:28 am

correction – Sabot slugs are for rifled barrels, Foster and Brenneke are for non rifled shotgun barrels.

183 Bruce Williamson July 18, 2011 at 11:37 am

Well the shotgun is good as long as you have ammo (n). It’s that n+1 zombie that you have to worry about! I wonder how useful the compass would be in such close proximity to the steel barrel. I have a knife with a compass in the handle but the compass mount is cast aluminum. The steel wool is something overlooked by people. If the matches don’t light it then you can ignite the steel wool by shorting you flashlight batteries with it. I would get more eccentric and add a solar cell to charge the batteries.

184 Richard July 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

Having undergone one of the best basic survival courses there is (Royal Navy AIR424 course – 5 weeks classroom first aid and survival, ten days in the field, half overt, half covert) I have to say that is an awesome kit, and a good reminder to me of what I learnt.

I love the idea of building the kit into a piece of equipment that will be with you in the circumstances.

A tip for those that learn survival in a civilian mode without capture and interrogation, is that your clothes can also hold many items. When we were “on the run” we were encouraged to sew parts of our survival kits into our flight suits, anticipating capture so we would have an escape kit. I managed to sneak a silk map, a button compass, a razor blade and some water purification tablets through the capture/interrogation phase.

Useful items, but all hidden, and sewn into the suit in the field. What could you integrate into your expedition or hunting gear with better planning and no need for concealment?

185 Big Red July 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm

What I don’t understand is why everyone is all about zombies nowadays. What is the big f’n deal about stupid zombies? I rather prepare my arsenal for something that could really happen, like terrorist takeover of America, or anarchy.

186 Rad H July 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm

how does the steel wool work with fire starting?
Great article, it shows me how woefully ignorant I am at the moment!
and, alas:
The last time I was attacked by Zombies, a few of them had peg-legs.
That saw would have come in handy!

187 HOG July 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

“Nice work, Creek”. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the mans hardware choices his creation shows creativity, adaptability, and superb mechanical inclination. Those are the qualities any survival instructer/student prize most. Those and the will to live alone can bring you home through almost anything.
Rad H
Fine steel wool will catch a spark and burn hot wet or dry (chemical reaction u can google if knowing why is ur thing). You can also use a battery, 9volt….cell phone…etc. to create a short with the steel wool and bingo you got yourself a fire. Try it out.

188 Mick July 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Great article, but what about water? You could have used the butt of the shotgun as a water container instead :-)

189 drano July 21, 2011 at 3:12 am

nice concept. If I put together one of these, I would include a drawstring backpack stuffed in there somewhere. So I could transfer all the gear to the pack and sling it.

The Mossberg is a bad choice for a pistol grip. The safety is located on top of the receiver, making the actuation very awkward and all sorts of “not recommended” in it’s combat role

190 drano July 21, 2011 at 3:14 am

whups! the safety catch issue has already been addressed. haha. pardon me

191 Caleb July 21, 2011 at 7:01 am

I’ll just use my bare hands during a zombie apocalypse. Thanks though.

192 Hal H July 21, 2011 at 8:07 am

Another addition that would be an easy add would be a small Signal Mirror and attach it to one side of the stock, similar to the inspirational quote. It would be good to have if a helicopter is flying around after seeing your signal flare.

And when you need to ‘turn it off’ and go stealth just wrap the bandanna around it to hide it.

193 Damberson July 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

Excellent article with a step by step explanation of how to customize the weapon. 550 cord is incredible. I love the stuff. One thing to take away from this article is the principles of planning and the techniques utilized. If you call this article silly, then you have probably never been in situation more pressing than being stuck in traffic.

194 Johnathan Stein July 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Add a couple safety pins…

195 Seek July 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Interesting project, not practical, but I don’t think it was supposed to be (or at least I hope not). Putting a vertical foregrip on a pump-action shotgun is one of the easiest ways to over torque the action bars in the tube assembly. I assume the author did this so he had more storage area, but never do this in the real world if you want a functioning weapon. I have seen this time and again when servicing shotguns with vertical foregrips. At least one side of the action bars is bent from all the torque applied when racking the weapon. Just because someone put a rail on it doesn’t mean it has to have a gadget. Also, there’s no way that compass is going to stand constant recoil.

As I said, not criticizing the cool concept project, I just hope people don’t think this was made to be a practical survival tool. It’s more of a “how much gear can I fit into a shotgun” project. Remember when you’re carrying a weapon: ounces equals pounds, pounds equals pain.

196 SheepLute July 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm

The epitome of badass. Great job. Very creative and probably an enjoyable project. :)

197 SheepLute July 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm

@BigRed, if people weren’t such dumbasses, then anarchy would actually have a fighting chance lol. It wouldn’t work because as K from Men In Black said (to paraphrase) “A person is smart, thinks for himself, and helps his brother. People are dumb, selfish, and herd-like.”

198 Phill July 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Holy crap that is an insanely brilliant idea. Pretty much a fully self-contained survival kit. Well done sir.

199 Blue John July 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Stewart – I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and nothing so much as your choice of engraving. Fine writing.

200 fk July 28, 2011 at 3:20 am

Awesome platform. my only question about the entire set up is the front picatinny barrel rail. Does it block off the front sight from the rear sight? as an experienced hunter and shooter, when it comes down to making a shot count, that little bead at the end of the barrel is going to be one of your most important tools, especially hunting for animals such as deer where that shot needs to be perfect to bring that animal down. i have seen deer take a couple hits from rifles and keep on going. however, amazing platform, actually considering building one for myself as the ultimate survival tool.

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