View Full Version : Gun Question

Tony B
11-17-2013, 04:21 PM
This is a gun question on what to buy. Please don't get into gun rights and other political issues or this thread will get killed.

I'm targeting this question to those that already keep guns aboard. I used to keep a handgun with me on camping and boating trips but haven't in a very long time.

This particular weapon would be for self defense only. What I think I need is:

1) Something with as little swinging room needed as possible. The old Kentucky Long Rifle would not work for me on a boat.

2) Easy and non-intimidation for a female to operate - I'm speaking of my wife, not my feminine side.

3) 'Relatively' inexpensive ammo. The more a weapon is used the better it becomes. I'm of 'the most familiar weapon is the best weapon' school. I've known people that could carve you up with a knife well before you even realized you had to defend yourself.

4) Something that would not draw any attention on the boat. Like in, easily stored and easily available.

I know there is no one weapon that will fit all of the categories like a fully automatic shotgun the size of my walley - which is really small. I'm sure I will think of more stuff. If nothing else, tell me what you have on your boat and why you selected that weapon.

One more very important thing: I will only be cruising in the US so foreign laws will not apply. My cruising will be primarily on the eastern inland waterways.

Again, please keep this non-political.

Thanks in advance.

11-18-2013, 05:35 AM
The laws from state to state vary and this may preclude handguns. Your job to find out.

In my more paranoid days I carried a Mini-14, a Winchester Marine 12 ga and a .357, all in stainless. Never had occasion to fire any of them.

These days I have a Ruger semi-automatic .22 pistol and a 10-22, both stainless. The pistol has 14-round magazines and the 10-22 has 25. While a .22 doesn't have much knockdown power I figure a whole clip would get the job done. AND they're cheap to shoot, not much recoil, and fun for practice. You can get .22 revolvers with up to 9 shots.

For sheer knockdown power you can't beat a 12-ga, and there is lots of different ammo for it, from light (easy) target loads to buckshot and slugs. Not too expensive to shoot, AND it's probably more intimidating than anything else you're likely to find. At close range even bird shot will make a BIG hole. But shotguns ARE big, even the short-barreled ones.

For a defense handgun (if legal) especially for someone that doesn't shoot much I'd go with a revolver, probably a .357 with a 4" barrel. It's more intimidating than a small .38 and can fire light .38 target ammunition as well as high-powered .357. A .38 snubbie is small and handy but it has a nasty recoil.

Revolvers are pretty much idiot-proof; I'm not too confident with semi-automatic handguns as I'm always afraid I'll forget to chamber a round, or throw off the safety. Some of the newer 9mms have gotten around that problem I think, but I simply don't have any experience with them. Someone else will chime in.

I know you can get reloaded .38 target ammunition and probably 9mm as well. It's a lot cheaper for practice.

IMO rifles are pretty much useless on a boat, even the .22 except for fun. IF I were cruising AND worried about it I think I'd have a 12-ga "riot" gun and either a .357 or one of the new double-action 9mms. If I could only carry ONE, it would probably be the .357 (if legal) otherwise the 12-ga.

Bearing in mind that IF you get boarded by bad guys it will probably be in the middle of the night when you are asleep. I'd also have a small, yappy dog to give me some warning.

Tony B
11-18-2013, 07:25 AM
Thanks Willie

I like the idea of a short barrel shotgun but I'm more concerned about middle of the night and a hand gun is no doubt the most likely time. I'm thinking about anchoring out or tying up somewhere and a burglar not expecting anyone home, surprising both of us.

The only time I carried a weapon was when I lived in Arkansas and went camping with a female in the Ozarks. I don't have any guns now, but I always preferred a 22 magnum - 'the assassins weapon of choice." If I ever needed it, which I probably never will, it will likely never be more than 10' away. This time I am thinking something larger, like maybe a 9mm. The bad guys are getting larger. I also wont get anything but a revolver. I found that when I played with automatics that don't get practiced with often, it's easy to pop off an extra unintended shot especially if startled and half asleep.
I am not normally a gun person, as you might have guessed by now but the world in some places is getting crazier by the day. I live in a nice area, but in Houston it seems like 3 or 4 murders a night is the norm. Home invasions have replaced burglaries. Boats being burglarized is way up. I know it's not that way everywhere, but no telling where I might settle for the night.
Thanks for the info. I was told that 9mm shells are fairly cheap so practicing would not be an issue.
What stimulated this thinking is that we have been living on the hard for the last several days. We are the only ones here - literally out in the middle of nowhere about 200 feet from the road. Traffic is very light on this road but there are still cars going by all night. My wife enjoys sitting on the back deck and refers to it as the penthouse in the hood. It's not her that's thing of a gun, it's me. She would learn to use it and she is the type that would if she had to. I realize that a gun is very dangerous if the owner has any hesitation or qualms about using it.
I was just wondering what others do. I think once I get through Tx. and La. and especially N
ew Orleans area, I probably wont think about it again.

11-18-2013, 07:57 AM
Anymore anything that goes bang would do the job. I would look at a 380 or small 9mm semi auto. Higher cap magazine but all small in size. The 380 has very little recoil for the mrs but will still do its job. A sig sauer P938 is a 9mm that is the size of a 380. 9mm is still pretty cheap and I know 380 has been fairly difficult to come by as of late.

11-18-2013, 08:37 AM
"I also won't get anything but a revolver" pretty much precludes the 380 and 9mm.

The 22mag might be a good compromise, I think some will hold 9 shots and you can practice and plink with the less-expensive 22LR.

11-18-2013, 09:43 AM
I like the .38 Special. You can get on a small frame.

11-18-2013, 09:49 AM
Speaking as an ex-cop and a gun owner with a houseboat.

Normally I would recommend a 12 gauge pump shotgun for someone not familiar or experienced. However given the confined spaces of a houseboat I would recommend a small hammer-less double action only revolver like the Ruger LCR. http://www.ruger.com/LCR

Use .38 special ammo and recoil will be minimized.

Take a gun course and if you can a judgmental shooting class.

11-18-2013, 10:44 AM
Interesting thread. Thanks! I know that overall, violence isn't what it once was in a rude and ugly world, but with the 24-hour news cycle, if-it-bleeds-it-leads, politically polarized world, it is hard to ignore. So, the idea of owning and learning to use a gun has more and more appeal. I might refer back to this information.

11-18-2013, 02:53 PM
You have to be very careful with pistols even if they are properly Licensed/ Permitted. Not all states may recognize or accept your states License potentially leaving you in possession of an Illegal firearm.

I have something like this folding stock shotgun. It's not that big(with stock folded 29"), easy to use, big intimidation factor, true point and shoot(hard to miss), Cheap plentiful ammo and most important LEGAL IN ALL STATES.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp35/MacLean2385/TFS0600_01_large.jpg (http://media.photobucket.com/user/MacLean2385/media/TFS0600_01_large.jpg.html)

Tony B
11-18-2013, 05:47 PM
.....I have something like this folding stock shotgun. It's not that big(with stock folded 29"), easy to use, big intimidation factor, true point and shoot(hard to miss), Cheap plentiful ammo and most important LEGAL IN ALL STATES.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp35/MacLean2385/TFS0600_01_large.jpg (http://media.photobucket.com/user/MacLean2385/media/TFS0600_01_large.jpg.html)

OK. so what is it?

Miller Tyme
11-18-2013, 06:43 PM
I usually have a SS Mini 14 in a case in a rear closet, but that is more for the beavers that are butchering the willow trees around the marina, for personal defense both the wife and I carry Kimber solo 9's when on the beach and there is S&W compact 45 in the rear stateroom. In 35+ years of boating I have only had a need for a weapon once, but that was enough to make me consider carrying on the beach.

11-18-2013, 07:01 PM
Mine is a Remington 870 clone 12 ga 18.5" barrel made by New England Firearms and purchased new at Dunhams sports. I think it was on sale at $ 165. It had a full Syn stock.
I bought the ATI folding pistol grip stock off ebay for $25. One bolt to change the stock to the folding one.
Mine is all black unlike the pic. ( first pic I found) and does not have the shell holder accessory or magazine extension tube. There are alot of accessory's out there for tactical shotguns.
There are also others out there. Mossburg makes one called the JIC (just in case) that comes in a tube case and has a rust resistant finish. Nice piece but alot more $. Check you local Cabela's, Bass Pro, Dunham's, etc they sale should be starting soon.

11-18-2013, 07:19 PM
It's a winchester defender... likely 410, 18 or 20 guage

I'd skip the folding stock and ammo carrier... Note that some states do not allow magazine extension tubes

This attached picture is what I keep nearby. It is .40 and the same caliber as my go-to pistol. Low recoil, super accurate .

11-18-2013, 07:46 PM
Sorry DitchRider it's a Remington 870.

11-18-2013, 10:09 PM
Those stocks or something similar are available for most popular shotguns, and some rifles like the Mini-14.

Tony B
11-19-2013, 06:16 AM
I think on my boat a hand gun would be the most practical. Given I don't have the room some of you guys have and the tall steps and narrow doorways I usually need one hand to just navigate.

11-19-2013, 06:53 AM
Yeah those steps and ladders can be a pain in the ...

11-19-2013, 08:26 AM
I think on my boat a hand gun would be the most practical.

Yes the handgun will be easier to have in smaller area's. Just be sure your legal were you plan to travel. For me the first state I enter when leaving Pa is Ohio and they Do Not accept my Pa firearms license. Here is a link to check on reciprocity for your state.


11-20-2013, 07:49 AM
wouldn't a good stun gun be easier? it'll put them down,no coroner to wait on,no blood to clean up and no nightmares.just a thought.

11-20-2013, 10:07 AM
42 Gibson has a point. The original question was about what kind of GUNS we had and that is where the thread went, but I agree a non-lethal device might actually be better.

We have to stop and consider what we're trying to accomplish. Do we want to KILL an intruder, "put him down" or simply make him LEAVE? In the last case a face full of pepper spray might do the job quite nicely. Less damage to the boat than a firearm, no blood to clean up, you don't need to get too close, you don't really have to aim, minimal "paperwork" after the fact, and in most states it's legal. It's probably not Al-Qaeda terrorists, Nazi Stormtroopers or Somali pirates we're up against; it's more likely just Joe Redneck looking for something to steal. If we give him an excuse to change his mind, he probably will.

11-20-2013, 01:34 PM
Just remember even the strong pepper sprays are not always effective and range is only a few feet. Good "option" if the threat level is low.

11-20-2013, 04:13 PM
True, but there's no guarantee a bullet will stop them either, in time. Living in a "gun" state where more than one husband/wife/son/daughter has been mistaken for an intruder, shot, and killed; something non-lethal might well be in order as the first line of defense. 40-some years ago I had my father draw down on ME... fortunately he was a military man and identified his target before he pulled the trigger. Not everyone is so lucky.

If the intruder is really bent on murder you probably don't have a chance anyway. HE'S wide awake, armed, and maybe hopped-up on drugs; YOU'RE still half asleep...

Tony B
11-20-2013, 06:26 PM
.......Just be sure your legal were you plan to travel. For me the first state I enter when leaving Pa is Ohio and they Do Not accept my Pa firearms license. Here is a link to check on reciprocity for your state. www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html

Thanks for the link.

Tony B
11-20-2013, 06:36 PM
Non-lethal weapons are no longer an option for me. Crimes committed around here are more for the thrill of killing than for the money. There have been a lot of daytime robberies in restaurants like Denny's where the rob the cash registers and the customers and then shoot and kill a few on their way out the door. They also did it in Subway Sandwiches and believe it or not - a Dollar Store.
It also seems like home invasions have replaced burglaries somewhat. It's just a matter of time until the thrill seekers discover the water.
If the "get off my boat or you will be shot" warning don't work, then I will use deadly force to protect my wife and I.
I am not familiar with handguns and modern ammunition and so I posted this question.
Generally speaking, if I had to shoot at someone it would be 10' or less.

11-20-2013, 07:16 PM
Not to be the dissenting voice here (I am a life long gun owner, and retired Coast Guard. I have handled all kinds of firearms) but have you thought about prevention? Lots of lights with motion sensors, alarms, video cams. It's a proven fact that if you make it difficult they will go somewhere else. A gun is a last resort when all else fails. And what do you do with it when you aren't home? Guns are a number one stolen item from homes.

If you do get a gun, take a course, especially a judgemental course if you can get one. Ask your local police, they'll know where one is available. I took one back in the sixties. What a revelation. Back then it was called Shoot, no shoot. Have your wife take it too. Practice. Even with a shotgun it is possible to miss (difficult but possible). With a handgun it's almost guaranteed if you don't know what you're doing. Just read reports of how many shots cops sometimes fire before they get a hit, and they are supposed to be experts and practice regularly. In a highly tense situation it is easy to do it wrong.

Yes revolvers are pretty much fool proof but still you have to be careful. If you aren't comfortable with an auto don't get one. I prefer a 45 auto but I have years of experience with one, but I wouldn't hand it to my wife. The recoil and noise scares her spitless. She doesn't even like the look of it. She prefers a revolver.

Any way, some very good advice given in previous posts.

But the number one thing I always said to boat owners who asked if they should have a gun on board is, are you willing to kill someone? If not or even if you would hesitate, then don't buy a gun. They'll just take it away and shoot you with it.

11-21-2013, 08:46 AM
Definitely agree...

11-21-2013, 05:19 PM
ditto the 380, by far a great choice.

here's a tip, when you have those pesky jet skier's and or wave makers who are intent on making life bad for you.

top deck highly visible to the culprit, a cell phone / camera, (they wont know the difference) recording there actions speaks volume s to there syc ic (sp),
They don't know if the water patrol going to have there # and now have water patrol looking for them, lets get away from this guy...
it works used it a few times

11-21-2013, 05:20 PM
Lots of good info on this thread. I will also ad, if you boat on a US Corps controlled in-land lake weapons are a big no-no. As in a felony, permit or no permit.

12-04-2013, 09:49 AM
A Taurus judge shoots 410 shotgun shells or Colt 45 longs. You can get the 410 slugs and you have the equivilent of 5 38s fired at the same time. You could also get a Ruger SP101 357 and as stated use 38s in it plus a couple of 357s. Most all southern state recognize other states permitsa in the south. here is a link to what stated recognize what. Nothern states have the least recipacation. 9mill Sig would be good also. I would lean toward the judge because it is a shotgun. be sure and get the stainless as the blued one has issues of locking up. They have a lifetime warrenty.


12-04-2013, 12:59 PM
So, how does a flare gun, fired at close range, work at deterring unwanted visitors? Legal, right? And what else you gonna do with those out-of-date cartridges?

12-04-2013, 02:02 PM
To be honest I think you'd just make him mad. And after the flare bounced off his chest and landed in the boat, you'd have another problem...

It's a good idea to try out your prospective weapon on something like phone books first, to get an idea of what it will or won't do. You might be disappointed.

Cases in point. I once fired a .357 magnum into a piece of 4x4 scrap from a distance of maybe 10', expecting dramatic results. WRONG! The bullet simply went into the board and stopped. It didn't blow the board to splinters, it didn't even come out the other side. For that matter it didn't even knock the 4x4 off it's perch.

Another time I fired a .45 cal black powder derringer (the type that killed Lincoln) into a piece of 3/4" plywood from maybe 6'. The bullet didn't go through the plywood. It didn't even make a good dent. What it DID do was bounce back and hit ME square in the chest. Stung a bit and left a bruise. That ended my shooting at boards...

We've all been watching too much Hollywood...

On the "Judge": http://www.gunsandammo.com/2011/07/26/410-revolvers/

12-04-2013, 06:33 PM
good god,the question should be, how did this go from being a houseboat forum to 4 pages on what is the best weapon to kill an intruder.

12-04-2013, 07:37 PM
Oh, I wouldn't want to kill anybody. It's just like the Quaker farmer said to the burglar. "Friend, I would not harm thee for the world, but thee is standing where I am about to shoot."