What I would carry at sea

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

Sebastian linked to this very interesting article about gun laws at sea.

Is it lawful to carry firearms?

This depends of several factors.

· Flag State your yacht is registered with.
· Area you are likely to operate in.
· Type of firearm.

If I were sailing around the world I would probably want to carry a pump action shotgun in 12 gauge and a bolt action rifle in a non military caliber such as 7mm-08 Rem., .260 Rem. or .270 Win.


Semi automatics are illegal or have various arbitrary restrictions in most of the world for civilians. At best it could be confiscated, at worst you could be fined or arrested.

Bolt actions are used all over the world and most countries will allow hunters or competition shooters to bring them into the country for sporting purposes. Military calibers are banned in some countries. Better to stick with something nobody is going to object to.

A removable magazine would be a plus and so would a stainless steel action and barrel. The Savage Weather Warrior Series Model 16FCSS in 7mm-08 would be my choice. It has a four round detachable magazine. I would be surprised if any countries has a problem with a four round magazine in a bolt action.

Some type of illuminated scope with quick detachable mounts and open sights would be a must.

Savage Model 16FCSS

Next up, a shotgun. A semi-automatic would be out for the same reason as the rifle. I am pretty sure pump actions are illegal in the UK, so if I were stopping by there then that would not be an option. The alternatives such as a double barrel, bolt action or lever action shotgun do not seem to me to be a credible threat to a ship full of pirates.

I would go with the Mossberg Mariner. At most I would install a magazine extension. Pimping it out withe pistol grips, fore grip and detachable magazines would not be a good idea.

Mossberg Mariner: A good idea.

Mossberg Mariner: A bad idea.

Lastly a replica RPG might not be a bad idea! Many years ago I was watching something on TV about super yachts and there was a brief clip of police somewhere in world showing off a cache of weapons they confiscated from super yachts including what looked like an M72 LAW. I am sure the LAW was not real.

Orange tipped replica.

My experience at sea is limited. I think the above would be good enough on small yacht. The aim really is to make it hard for pirates to come close while out maneuvering them.

I have traveled on very large cargo ships and defending them from pirates would be no different from defending a building.

What do you think about my ideas? Realistically what would you carry on the high seas?

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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2 of 13 comments
  • TOM TOM on May 03, 2010


  • Pat Pat on Jul 22, 2012

    I have a 350 mariner. Not a big boat, but we stay alone in coves on
    Intercostal US. A lot. I'm more concerned about the middle of the night
    guys that may be up to no good while we're sleeping.
    I have a ccw. The laws state to state are fairly close.
    Better to ask for forgiveness from the cop and the judge if necessary.
    My choice is a stainless steel 38. special for in boat and a 10/22 rifle. Small cal.but good for longer distance very accurate.
    Be smart not big.

    PS. Not knocking other thoughts.