Marine Grade: 5 Shotguns for Your Boat

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time of the coast of northern Florida and southern Georgia in a small fishing boat.  My father and I loved fishing, but we rarely caught anything. We spent more time exploring the more desolate coastlines of the various barrier islands.

We were in between the mainland and an island one afternoon when we came across something truly bazaar: a huge diamondback rattlesnake swimming to shore.  We were drifting, attempting to fish, when the ugly snake swam up along side the boat with the idea that it might be the perfect place to take a well deserved break.

As my father tried to coax the old Evinrude outboard back to life, I held the snake off with our emergency paddle.  We survived, as did the confused rattlesnake, but the situation made a lasting impression.  We could have been more prepared.

Here are five solid options for nautically minded firearms.

1.  Mossberg Mariner

The Mossberg Mariner is a 500 series pump, with the added benefit of Mossberg’s Marinecote finish.  Though I don’t normally endorse the pistol-grip-only shotgun, all of the guns in Mossberg’s Just-In-Case line come packaged in water resistant tubes and make use of pistol grips and short barrels to ensure that they’re compact.

The Mariner has an MSRP of $603 and comes packaged with a tool and a knife.

2.  Remington 870 Special Purpose Marine Magnum

If you’re more of a Remington fan, than check out the 870.  The Marine Magnum is an excellent gun.  Though it doesn’t come with a plastic tube, it does have a full stock and a higher capacity.

The Marine Magnum is nickel coated.  This makes for a gun that you won’t be afraid to get wet.  Just be sure to clean it well before you put it back in the safe.  Or keep it clean and well lubricated if you’re going to be on extended trips.

3.  Iver Johnson

The satin nickel finish is popular.  Another American maker is offering nickel’s corrosion resistance on their pump gun.  And it is a nice package.

The Iver Johnson shotguns are well built, and moderately priced.   The basic pump guns sell for a bit north of the $200 mark, but the nickel finish will be a bit more.

4. Winchester 1200

Perhaps your boat is nicer than most, and you would like to match the stock of your shotgun to the weathered teak decking.  While I’ve never seen a shotgun with teak stocks, there are plenty that have the warmth of wood.

The 1200 is a handsome gun, and an antique now.  But no less effective.  This gun saw military service in the 60s and 70s, but still has the classic lines that marked Winchester’s aesthetics.  Check out how the stock joins the receiver.  That angle is complex, but handsome.

The price tag on one of these?  I’ve seen them sell in the $300s, though I think that is low for a 1200 in good condition.

5.  The Rossi Tuffy

For more modest mariners, canoeists, or those who prefer the big touring kayaks, a .410 might be enough gun.  And the Rossi Tuffy is one hell of a gun.  These little scatter-guns are built like tanks.  They’re single shot, but the variety of available ammunition makes the .410 really useful for almost anything.

The biggest benefit of the Rossi is that it is a Rossi.  All guns subjected to this type of abuse will eventually succumb to the elements.  Or they’ll get dropped in the drink.  They’ll sink.  And when they sink, you might get emotional.  But if you value your money like I do, you might not get as emotional when you have to replace the Rossi.  The Tuffy’s MSRP is only $211.


As always, I say be prepared.  It is better to have a gun and not use it then to need a gun and not have one.  And all of these guns are ideal choices for rugged conditions.  With a little extra care, these shotguns will outlast their blued brethren.

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