As this thread isn't political yet, I'll follow-up again ;-)
For all the US citizens who read this and don't understand why many people sometimes react emotionally against guns aboard: in most countries guns are not allowed. Most countries that allow guns are 3rd world countries. I think the USA (Canada??) and South Africa
are the few countries that allow guns and have a significant percentage of people in our cruising community. This means that many cruisers never had a gun, never touched one, are scared of guns and anyone who carries a gun. Brits aren't allowed to have a handgun period. Not even their Olympic pistol team is allowed to train in the UK. Guns are associated with law enforcement and bad guys only, not with citizens. If someone sees a hunter
they will probably call the police. If guns are on TV, there's bad guys on TV plus all the stories of gun deaths in the US. Now they go cruising and guns are everywhere because we cruise in 3rd world countries. They are even more scared than before. If you try to imagine yourself in their situation, you might begin to understand their reaction.
Now, my wife and I are Dutch and we talk about guns and even have one aboard. Guns are not allowed in Holland
. But don't forget that every country has an army so many men
handled a gun anyway. Also, in Holland
and many other countries, if you've been a good and nice citizen, you can apply for a special permit
and own guns. This is much stricter than in the US, like we need to pass minimum scores at the firing range with regular intervals (like policemen) have maximum number of guns and ammo allowed, must have separate vaults for guns and ammo, can only carry guns between home and firing range or gun shop etc. etc. This means you only want to go through all that if shooting is a sport for you. We did Olympic discipline pistol and rifle and liked it very much (it's a brain sport like chess). We are exceptions because I estimate that less than 1% of the population does this, but some of those exceptions are out cruising so that explains why not all of us are scared of guns ;-)
I can advise to buy the book titled "Pirates aboard!" or something like that. It was originally written in German but we saw English
and Dutch translations too. There's descriptions and evaluations of 40 recent incidents abourd sailboats in that book. BTW, the death of Sir Peter Blake is also in there. The reason he was shot was because his gun (pistol) jammed after shooting the first attacker in the leg. So he wasn't killed because he had a gun; he was killed because he wasn't skilled enough using it and didn't maintain the gun properly.
The book shows that everyone with a plan, armed and inside the boat with companionway
locked (or special board with bars instead of the standard wash boards), survived without a scratch. Using the gun outside was not very successful. We met the cruisers from one case described in the book in Trinidad and even though they were successful in repelling the boarders years before, they still had emotional trouble talking about it and they didn't even shot one of the boarders. They fired their 9mm through a cracked hatch
; fire was returned but just to cover their retreat. Yes, this happened in Venezuela
All the guns listed in previous posts: leave them home or, if the boat is gonna be home, kiss and say goodbye to them... sell the lot, give them to family
if they have emotional value, but get over it. Think about corrosion
and corrupt officials that can't afford expensive guns themselves. "Sorry sir, we can't find your gun"....
I like the Mossberg Mariner version with it's specialized corrosion-resistant finish (many people think it's stainless steel
... it isn't). Keep it standard to keep it legal
(no shorter barrel, bigger magazine nor short pistol grip instead of standard stock). Just as it comes in the original box; you also need the original invoice (documented source of the gun). It keeps good on a boat. We put some Corrosion-X on the outside finish and have a couple of big silica dry-packs in the gun locker with it. Don't think you'll be able to find anything else than 12 gauge ammo (like 20 gauge). On that subject, we found some 12 gauge with plastic pallets with "non-lethal" on the box. We thought this was a good idea but after reading up on it we found that it's illegal, meant for indirect fire (on the ground in front of a crowd) and lethal for direct fire up to 10 meter range. This also means that even birdshot is enough for use inside. But we also have buckshot and even some magnum slugs because that's what the Terminator uses ;-) Slugs will work on sharks, crocodiles, bears, engine
blocks etc. but think about the damage on the boat; a slug will probably put a hole in the hull
and I don't want to try buckshot to find out either... Keep the amount of ammo low because you need to declare that too. 2000 rounds will lift
some eyebrows ;-) We keep 75 rounds.
Handguns will be taken in many, many countries. This is the reason we don't carry one. But if you decide to take one anyway, keep it simple and with as little maintenance
as possible. There's only one that I can think of: Glock 9mm. A Glock because of it's composite parts
and 9mm because that's the easiest to get and puts the most rounds in the clip (I shoot better with .45 ACP but that's another story). If customs
would not have a problem with these, I would have one near the bed
(we don't have kids
, think about that too!). I also see the advantage of a revolver as being more reliable. I would select a .357 magnum with 3" barrel in stainless. If you can't get the magnum ammo, you can get .38 special and use that in the same gun. .44 and up will be very hard to find. It's even hard to find the gun-shops!
Flare gun: forget it. A flare doesn't ignite during the short travel to the intruder and will bounce off T-shirts without any wound, fall to the floor and ignite, setting the boat on fire. A friend of us discovered that when he shot a looter inside his boat with a 12 gauge flare during the aftermath of hurricane
Ivan in Grenada
. He was lucky, it bounced off the looter into his galley
sink and the looter was not armed. Outside it's of no use either because even the oldest shotgun or .38 revolver (those are the mainstream guns around where we are... well, maybe a .38 special now and then) will win that fight.
It just like johnmcntsh wrote: showing a gun (incl. flare gun) means the bad guys will use theirs so make sure yours is better, that you are well trained with it and ready to use it.
If you hate guns you will be forced to get used to them anyway as they are everywhere. Every security
guard is armed and every shop has security
guards, even the McDonalds or mini-super. Shops have "no guns allowed inside" stickers instead of "no smoking inside" stickers. Locals that go into the jungle take their shotgun if they can afford one (they are very scared of snakes). Cops on motorbikes have shotguns, M16's, uzi's and mini-uzi's. Handguns are their backup weapon. Cops look like army incl. camouflage uniforms. Some countries, like Colombia, have special "Tourist Police" that look like cops as we know them ;-)
Outside your home country: never buy a 2nd-hand gun, not even if it's a shotgun. Most countries around here will allow you to buy a shotgun or you can use an "agent". Ask the local who provides other services to cruisers like you find them in every place. It's not a stupid question, they understand and have guns too (but don't buy his 2nd-hand offerings!) Make sure you get the original invoice for both gun and ammo. It must have the serial
number on it plus the exact amount of ammo rounds. Don't forget the cleaning
kit and a carrying-bag that fits. Don't forget to negotiate the price
If we are in an area that we feel isn't safe, we keep the shotgun in the locker but loaded with 5 buckshot rounds in the magazine and one of the non-lethal ones in the chamber (might help in court). If we are approached by a local boat with woman or kids
present we smile and talk but if there's only multiple men
, my wife goes inside and stands ready to hand me the gun if I come running down. If all turns out okay I call her and she comes back out with water
, coffee, sweets and/or money
if they sell something we want. They never see the gun.