I spend a great amount of time in the woods, both during hunting and non-hunting seasons. Maybe I’m out for a hike or maybe blueberry picking. I could be fishing a remote beaver pond in Vermont or scouting for signs of deer and turkey. No matter what I am doing there is always that chance of running into something that can seriously hurt or even kill me. For that reason I started carrying a coach gun.
For those of you who don’t know, a coach gun is nothing more than a very short double-barrel shotgun. They get their name from the old stagecoach days. Just watch any old western movie and you will see the guy sitting to the right of the stage driver is holding a small, probably sawed off, shotgun. That was the first of the coach guns and it is also where we get the term “riding shotgun”.
I got the idea of carrying this firearm while visiting Alaska. Every guide up there is carrying both a sidearm and a shotgun to use as protection from bears and wolves. It is not good for business if your clients get eaten. While we don’t have grizzly bears or wolves here in New England, we do have black bears and coyotes, both of which can be dangerous especially in the spring and if they have young. Then there is moose which are always unpredictable.
Some may ask, “Why don’t you carry a sidearm?” Well, I do, a Springfield XD-S .45ACP, but that is a very close in firearm and is my firearm of last resort. I feel much more comfortable with a firearm that can reach out and do the job. The coach gun gives me that option.
There are a few companies out there that make coach guns; the one I bought is a Stoeger. I wanted a gun that could hold more than one round, so single shots were out. I also wanted to be able to load different types of rounds at the same time. That left out the pumps and the semi-autos. All that was left were doubles. After looking at many different double barrel shotguns I decided on the Stoeger Coach Gun. This shotgun gave me everything I was looking for in one neat package.
The Stoeger is a double barrel gun and is available in 12 and 20 gauges, as well as .410. Unlike a single shot gun, the double barrel gives me the ability of loading one barrel with buckshot and the other with a slug. I can also load bird shot in one barrel and buckshot or a slug in the other which give me the opportunity to secure food while in camp during legal hunting season and at the same time staying protected.
This firearm is a shortened version of Stoeger’s successful Uplander model field gun and depending on the model you get can be fitted with removable chokes. Mine is the base model as I didn’t need, or want, anything fancy. It has 20 inch barrels and measures an overall length of 36.5 inches. This gun is chambered for either 2 ¾ or 3 inch shells, though I stick to the 2 ¾ inch due to the kick. The true beauty of this gun, and one of the reasons it is a great pack gun, is that it breaks down into only three parts and weighs only seven pounds. Easily carried in a backpack and quickly put together when needed makes this the perfect firearm to carry fly fishing, berry picking or out collecting firewood for camp.
By Dana Benner