Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun: Modify Your Pump Shotgun Survival Style

Today, published an article written by Creek Stewart on their site about How to Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun.  You have to check it out at:

Below are also 2 videos with Creek reviewing THE ULTIMATE SURVIVAL SHOTGUN.


Below is a parts list w/ prices for the major components.  Let me know if you have questions about any of the other mods:

Receiver Side Saddle: Holds Six Shells
Price: $29.97
Link to order:
Stock Side Saddle
Price: $19.97
Link to order:
Tri-Rail Barrel Mount
Price: $19.97
Link to order:
Pistol Grip Butt Stock
Price: $39.97
Picatinny Rail Forend
Price: $22.32
Link to order:
Vertical Foregrip
Price: $19.97
Link to order:
Ka-Bar Rail Knife
Price: $39.97
Link to order:
Braided Paracord Shotgun Sling
Price: $47.82
Link to order:
Gerber Vise Multi-Tool
Price: $16.92
Link to order:
12 Gauge Specialty Flare Rounds
Price: $9.50 for 3 rounds
Link to order:
Ultiamte Arms Tactical Light/Compass Combo
Price: $21.95
Link to order:
Engraved Receiver Plate
Price: $5.00
Where: Local Trophy Shop


About The Art of Manliness Blog (direct from their about section):

The Art of Manliness is authored by husband and wife team, Brett and Kate McKay. It features articles on helping men be better husbands, better fathers, and better men. In our search to uncover the lost art of manliness, we’ll look to the past to find examples of manliness in action. We’ll analyze the lives of great men who knew what it meant to “man up” and hopefully learn from them. And we’ll talk about the skills, manners, and principles that every man should know. Since beginning in January 2008, The Art of Manliness has already gained 75,000+ subscribers and continues to grow each week.



  1. Charley Brown says:

    Hey Creek,
    That’s an awesome survival shotgun. I think you really did a great job of compacting everything you could into one easy-to-carry and useful tool. Can you give any specs on the gun? I’m interested in the brand of stock, pump grip and the ferro rod used. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  2. Great post. I read it on AOM this morning and enjoyed the follow-up videos here. I’m curious how much you have wrapped up in that rig. I know Mossberg sells those Just-In-Case tubes, but I like the customize-ability of your approach. I agree with Charley, a list of the mods would be great. Are you planning to post on a survival sidearm sometime?

    • Wade,

      Thanks for visiting the site. I appreciate your comments. I’ve seen those tubes – very cool. They make great burial caches. I just posted a list of the items I used on this project w/ prices as an update to this post. Survival Sidearm – I feel another post in the pipeline 🙂 All the best and keep in touch.


  3. Michael D. says:

    I just came over here to thank you for sharing with us over at AOM Your very cool shotgun project, hoping to see more posts from You.

    • Michael-

      Thanks for taking the time to visit. You will for sure see more from me. If you liked the survival shotgun post I’ve got a few in the pipe-line that you’ll really enjoy.

      Stay tuned – Creek

  4. I read this over at AoM and I’m glad it led me here. This site is just what I’ve been looking for.

  5. Creek, I like it.

    Tell me a bit more about the plastic bag “solar still”. How does that work?

    Also, would there be some difficulty with the aluminum pan creasing and breaking in the corners from folding, making it unusable as a water container? It’s definitely useful as a reflector, etc. But I wonder if something else more durable might substitute.

    Thanks, very cool!

  6. 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.


    • Ralph~

      Sounds like I need to UPGRADE – thanks for sharing. I did a few minutes research and it seems all of the mods are easily trasferable over to a 590. I guess I better start saving…

      Thanks for stoping by – be sure to subscribe!


  7. Compass is all well and good..but you do realize that the metal from the shotgun is likely to throw off the reading rendering it useless unless you take the flashlight off the weapon system..

    • Kevin-

      Yes, I do. The nice feature about that flashlight compass is that the compass is built into the screw on cap. It just takes a couple seconds to screw it off and put some distance between it and the gun. I actually tested its accuracy on the gun when I put everything together and the metal does indeed throw off the reading as compared to one I had placed several feet away.

      Good insight – thanks for sharing.

      All the best-

  8. I want one. Do you sell these? If not, know of anyone that would build me one? Thanks.

    • I’ll be glad to include/combine your build with mine. Let me know if you are serious.

    • BAM- Sorry – I don’t sell them. There really isn’t anything too difficult about building one. Most of the components are simple bolt on pieces. The survival kit inside takes the most time – just getting everything together. I think you’d be just fine tackling the project yourself.

      Good luck!

  9. Hi Creek,

    A well put together package indeed. A quick and cheap way to boost ammo capacity would be to use either a bandolier sling, or accompanying bandolier belt. That way in addition to the 18 shells, one would have room for an additional 50, or one could also use the pockets in the bandolier to store additional supplies.


    • Francis- Thanks for the comment. That is a great idea! An extra 50 would be a huge bonus.


    • Exactly. I have a Remington 870 Marine and I would never fasten ammo directly to any gun I was going to carry, I mean who needs the extra weight on the gun? I have a 25rd belt I wear around my waist. Extracting ammo from a belt is smooth and intuitive but from a side saddle is awkward at best.

  10. you’d be better off carrying alot of these items you put into your shot gun on your person than putting all your eggs in one basket.
    Have you ever shot it with that knife attatched? I think you will stab yourself while you have it slung or it will fly off when you shoot it. It was designed to be mounted on a pistol.

    If you drop you rifle somewhere all your supplies will be lost. I hope you dont point the muzzle at yourself when you use that “saw”:

    • Optimus-

      Thanks for visiting. You can always transfer items from the kit to your person – as with any survival kit. Have I fired the shotgun with the knife attached? Yes, over 100 times by now. I target shot and skeet shot over 50 rounds just this past weekend. This knife doesn’t budge – nor does the compass. It is a picatinny rail mount knife so it locks into place – it doesn’t just slide on and off. You are correct, this knife is designed for a pistol. It doesn’t get in the way at all when used with the sling either – I hiked about a 1/2 mile to our target area this past weekend with no problems – up hills, through creeks and brush. In regards to pointing the gun at myself, it is imperative to take every safety precaution when working with firearms regardless of how you use it. You certainly would not want to use the built in bow saw with a round chambered or even rounds in the magazine for that matter. Hopefully I’ve addressed your concerns. Glad you enjoyed the project.

      All the best-

  11. Hey Creek!

    Here from AoM, and just wanted to thank you for the post! I’ll probably be putting this together by the end of the week. This is exactly the website I’ve been looking for, and have read quite a few posts already tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing more from you!


  12. Have a question on your build. We are almost complete with our bug out bag and have already prepared for a long term hold up if necessary. My on person defense choice is still my Glock 23 but having seen your survival shotgun I decided you can never have too many fall backs especially in a survival situation.

    My question is this, I know that you used a Mossberg 500 for this project but which one? There are several styles of the Mossberg 500.

    I really enjoy all of your posts and everything Willowhaven has to offer. Please keep it up. It has given me a vast amount of information and tools to provide for and protect my family in the event of a catastrophe.

  13. I am new to the whole bug out concept, and have found your site extremely useful and informative.
    This shotgun is a great project, but one thing I felt was missing is a scope.
    While it would completely useless for shooting, with the concept of the gun being a grab-and-go type item, it would be like adding a set of binoculars.

    Thanks for all the great info.


  14. Ben Wilson says:

    Where could I find a good tutorial/ video on how to braid a paracord sling? Love the concept.

  15. Greg Oermann says:

    My daughter sent me the link on The Art of Manliess a few months ago (she was researching mustaches….haha) and finally contemplating building one of these. I’m leaning towards a Mossberg Maverick M88 rather than the M500. Despite some parts being made in Mexico, the M88 is assembled here in Texas and offers a more inexpensive option than the M500. In addition, I personally prefer the crossbolt safety (a’ la Rem 870) of the M88 as compared to the tang safety of the M500.

    @Creek – I considered picking up some Orion boating flares at the sporting goods store, but was concerned about the all plastic construction as well as the short shelf-life (2-3 years). I suppose they would work, but I’m guessing the specialty ammo would be substantially better. Which specific flare rounds do you carry, and what color flare do you recommend (red I’ld assume…)? Also, does American Specialty Ammo have a shelf-life date on their flare rounds?

    @Pete and Creek – Adding an optic would not be useless for shooting! Optics are commonly used when shooting slugs (for large game) or heavy shot (for turkeys). If the shotgun is drilled and tapped (maybe I better rethink the M88 and go with the M500 or M590), then a Picatinney rail can be added atop the receiver (for $25 or so) and a low-powered scope (maybe 1-4X variable) could be added and could still be quickly removed.

    • @Greg The M88 is an awesome gun. I use the RED Super Flares from ASA. I don’t know about the shelf life – I guess that would be a ? for ASA. I don’t know that ASAs flares would be better than the Orion brand. I might pick a pack up and test to see for myself out of curiosity. I like your picatinny rail variation idea. Send pics if you get it built. Just an FYI, some of the parts I’ve listed don’t fit the new Mossbergs. I’ve had mine for few years.

  16. Jason P says:

    Awesome ideas and post. I have a couple of questions. What kind of sling mounts are you using?

    • I’m just using the basic screw in studs. I had to drill tap a small hole then they just screw in. I bought them a Gander Mtn. for just a few bucks. Hope this helps!

  17. Jason P says:

    Does your Mossberg 500 have a magazine extension on it? I’ve had mine for 20 years and it looks a little different than yours.

  18. In the spirit of firearms just wanted to throw out this site/recipes for firearm cleaning/maintenance.My friend has been using the “Ed’s Red”recipe for years.I have just made up a gallon and will give a qt. each to friends,will let know down the road how it works,cost as had none of materials on hand$22,those savings can go towards more ammo/firearm or whatever else you have your heart set on,has recipes also for serious lead/copper fouling.These are volatile compounds(as is store bought brands)so use a level of care.Here is a site with recipes ,hopes this helps with saving a few dollars.

  19. jim teff says:

    I have a Winchester Ranger 120 pump with a 28″ barrel, interchangable chokes,mag tube extended to 11 rounds, and a skeletonized stock with pistolgrip.Extra rounds are carried on a bandolier.Considering adding a single point binocular site.

  20. creek, a cpl of suggestions to think about… 1) include a small mirror for either signaling or starting fires. 2) u have a tri rail set up on the pump mechanism of your shoygun. therefore u do not need to add one in front of it as well. that is being unnecessarily redundant and adds precious weight as well as increases cost. 3) for those who go the mossberg 590 route they can get a bayonet attachment which gives a much longer and sturdier blade which, while heavier, should be tougher in the long run. 4) there are slinns that have ammo carriers built in which increase ammo capacity by ten. be careful though as shells tend to fall out when running unless some kind of cover is made to secure these rounds

  21. Gregory Dreelin says:

    I love this shotgun but I thought of something that should be add to ensure the gun functions properly. Somehow if you can fit you should put a small squeeze bottle of CLP to preserve and prevent the gun from getting rusted. I just thought it would be a good addition to this already awesome shotgun!

  22. Hey I had a thought to this already awesome shotgun. The gun can only function as good as you can keep it lubricated and clear of rust. If there was away to put a small bottle of CLP in it that would help with both parts. Some Q-tips for cleaning would be good too. Just a thought…

  23. how badass is that?

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  25. Mike madison says:

    Is that. 20in barrel and should the tact knife and light be top and bottom mounted

  26. I just hope he does not plan on shopping with cheaper than dirt anymore. Backstabbers to gun owners and price gougers.

  27. Hello. And Bye.

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  29. David Sharpe says:

    I like the concept, the execution however, leaves a lot to be desired, good direction though.

  30. Your part links are not working for cheaper than dirt can you renew them please.

  31. Might just be my next project.

  32. I'm impressed with the attention to detail and the depth of consideration. Thinking outside the box at it's finest. Thank you very much.

  33. John Galt says:

    Just do not use Remington as they took the bribe from N.Y. to stay instead of making a moral stance & move like other patriots!


    • The ATF measures barrel length by placing a dowel into the bore of an unloaded fire arm with its action in battery, meaning bolt forward or closed. Then mark the dowel at the point it extends from the muzzle, where you first can see it coming out of the barrel. I’m pretty sure in the roll marks on the top left of your barrel there is a gauge marking a warning not to shoot slugs and the barrel length. I haven’t heard of a 27.5 inch Mossberg barrel. Not saying there isn’t one but, just trying to help you get an accurate # for your length.I think the only barrel made in a # and a half is the 18.5 and that’s to make sure the federal 18″ minimum is met, unless you are a law officer or military any less is a major no no. Also having a barrel marked one length and being another is also very bad

  35. Gary Ayres says:

    creek I love all that you do brother keep on keeping on , survivalist teacher of the years! And for the rest of the comments you all are aof sheeple , what the hell are you even doing here if your gunna put creek down and the "good" he does and shares .. man lame people suck! Jus saying…. any way the" build" is badass mr. creek I can't wait to do mine like this.

  36. Everything you need to survive in a shotgun… silly, half of the items on the shotgun are pointless, really most everything…. Guessing most the people thinking of building this silly thing are from the cities, and eat up any survival tactics these so called experts spit up… The truly sad part about this are the people who get offended about people saying the whole things a bad idea.. and try to defend the concept without really knowing anything at all about survival… and seriously the sheeple comment, hasn't that died yet.. people who say that are the worst about following blindly.

  37. lol

  38. thats my new gun project as soon as i tweek it a little

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  40. Cool looking shotgun, and I even built a mild version of it. But from my experience, I like my 870 in it’s stock configuration. About the only “extra” I truly like is a pistol grip but with a full stock. Orienting my trigger hand in the same position as an AR has always been comfiest for me. But otherwise I’m a fan of the simplest thing when I need it most. Just my honest opinion.
    Thanks for all the great information Creek. Really enjoying your website!

  41. Dennis C Carden says:

    I would start with building the skills of the person behind the shotgun. After many years (20+) of carrying "tactical" shotguns, I am ashamed to say I have wasted much money on add-on junk. I now carry a basic Mossberg 500 with a $4 elastic 5-shell sleeve on the stock. That's it…

  42. That is very creative and well thought out – something that will work in a quick pinch. The only negative i can think of is that if you lose the Mossberg, or it is taken from you, you've lost your entire kit at once. but I guess there are risks in everything.

Creek's new survival fiction novel, RUGOSA, now available on!