Defensive Shotguns Part 1

The shotgun has been a ubiquitous home-defense tool for decades. There’s just something about that train-tunnel bore and the unmistakable sound of a pump shotgun being racked that inspires a sense of security. However, more and more, it seems as though the defensive shotgun is losing favor. Between the vast array of quality handguns that allow for protection both inside and outside the home and the AR-platform rifles that are cheaper than ever, endlessly customizeable, and available in nearly every modern caliber under the sun, it becomes harder and harder to justify the harsh recoil and comparatively clunky operation of a shotgun. So, is there really still a place for the defensive shotgun in today’s age of high capacity wonder-pistols and space-age carbines? I think so, and here’s why.

Shotguns with ammunition on a table
Defensive shotguns boast a wide array of configurations, accessories, and ammunition types, and some are much better than others.

Shotguns are unquestionably effective weapons at close range. In fact, they were so devastating in WWI that German officials protested their use in combat. Mind you, these were the very same Germans who saw nothing wrong with flamethrowers and chemical weapons, so that’s definitely saying something. The standard 00 buckshot shell sends nine .33 caliber projectiles downrange at velocities well above those of most handguns. It may not send an intruder flying through a plate glass window as Hollywood might like us to believe, but with some of the hotter buckshot loads, each pellet has nearly the same energy of a .32ACP round, which is nothing to sneeze at in and of itself. The ability to create multiple wound channels with one shot also greatly increases the chance of hitting vital organs and stopping a threat immediately. It may not really launch people across rooms, but there’s certainly a reason why the shotgun gained the reputation for power that it currently has.

Of course all this firepower is not without its drawbacks, and one of the major ones is low ammunition capacity. While there are various ways of increasing a shotgun’s standard capacity from extended tubes to drum magazines, they are often bulky and cumbersome if not downright gimmicky. Those who choose a shotgun for defense often have to make due with a capacity just half that of most full-size handguns, which certainly might be cause for concern. However, when you consider the per-shot effectiveness of the shotgun, it becomes harder to dismiss it on the basis of shot capacity alone. Six rounds in a shotgun may seem like very few, but each of those six rounds is several times as effective as any handgun round. Firing in pairs or triples as many of us train to do, we may only get five or six “servings” of lead from a 9mm handgun before needing to reload. With a shotgun, we can be reasonably confident that a single shot may cause enough damage to stop an imminent threat. So while the overall shot capacity is small, we still retain the same number of opportunities for a successful engagement. We also have to take into account the fact that long guns are much easier to shoot accurately than handguns, so the “servings” that we do have are more likely to find their mark with a shotgun than with a pistol.

home-defense-pistol
While handguns are certainly better than nothing they can be somewhat difficult to shoot accurately and are relatively low-powered compared to a shotgun.

One advantage rarely discussed is the shotgun’s ability to be topped off at any time by simply slipping more shells into the magazine tube. While it’s not as fast as swapping magazines in and out of a handgun or rifle, it does offer some flexibility that those other platforms typically don’t. An interrupted reload doesn’t necessarily leave you empty, and with tube-fed shotguns, you also don’t run the risk of inadvertently dropping your ammo supply with the accidental push of a button. In states where magazine capacity is restricted, there may not even be a substantial capacity disparity between the shotgun and other defense platforms to begin with, which makes the shotgun an even more attractive option for those of us faced with excess legislation.

Recoil is also a major cause for concern when choosing a shotgun as a home defense weapon. Excessive recoil is going to negatively impact performance during training as well as during defensive situations, and as many of us have found out one way or another, shotguns can generate a ton of recoil. Fortunately, shotshell loadings are extremely diverse, and reduced-recoil options are widely available along with a wide range of shot sizes and velocities to fit nearly any shooter and defensive situation. In fact, many reduced recoil loads have found considerable favor among law enforcement agencies. The shotgun doesn’t have to be the shoulder-breaker that it is often stereotyped as.

12 gauge with ammo on a blanket

There’s a good lesson to be learned from the thousands of enthusiasts who compete in the various clay target shotgun sports, and that lesson is gun-fitting. A single competitor at a shotgun tournament can easily fire more than five-hundred rounds in a weekend. While target loads aren’t nearly as punishing as buckshot or slugs, they do still produce substantial recoil which can be extremely distracting, if not physically harmful. To limit the effects of recoil, many shooters have their guns custom fitted or choose a gun that fits well in the first place. Proper shooting form and gun fit can go a very long way towards taming even the harshest 12 gauge loads.

The shotgun’s versatility doesn’t end simply with defensive load options either. It is truly the most versatile firearm on Earth. With the ability to fire shot and slugs, a shotgun can put quail on the table one day, deer in the freezer the next, and stand watch during the night in-between. If you only own one gun, it really ought to be a shotgun. The vast array of aftermarket stocks, sights, and other accessories also allows for a considerable amount of customization.

The shotgun is also a very economical option when compared to carbines and handguns. A quality pump-action shotgun can often be had for half the cost of a reputable full-size handgun and well below the retail cost for even an entry-level AR carbine. This makes the defensive shotgun not only more attainable, but the money saved on buying one allows for investments in accessories, ammunition, and training which is often woefully underutilized.

Is the shotgun a one size fits all tool for self-defense? Probably not. However, it is an effective and versatile tool and is worth considering when choosing a home defense weapon. In the coming weeks, the Lucky Gunner team and I will be exploring the defensive shotgun concept to see if we can determine what makes the ultimate defensive shotgun and determine just when and where the shotgun makes sense as a defensive weapon compared to other platforms available.


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  • bucherm

    I live in a apartment complex, so I worry more about overpentration than anything, hence a .223 Carbine is my home defense weapon of choice.

    I understand how shottys are cheap and effective, but I don’t think I would want to use anything other than 00 Buck, and I like having a mag with well over the capacity of nearly all shotguns,

    If money is an issue and you can only have one gun, I think a shotgun would be the way to go though.

    • David

      I would think a .223 would pose a far greater risk of over penetration than a shotgun. With the high muzzle velocity and close range of an apartment complex, one round in the chest of a normal sized perp would punch right through and barely slow down. Even hollow points at that range would probably punch through. I use a 9mm with 115gr. jacketed hollow points I’m still wary of what’s on the other side if I ever am in a position to really need to pull the trigger, God forbid.

      I’m also planning to get a 12 gauge pump, and have been for a while. I’ve talked with a lot of LEO’s that say they often hear from homeowners that just the sound of a pump being racked is enough to send a would-be home invader heading for the hills. That’s the universal translation for get the F* out of my house or I’ll shoot.

      • Robert Saunders

        I keep a round in the chamber…the only way they will here me `rack` the slide is if they didn’t die instantly from the first shot. I don’t believe in warning intruders in my own home!

        • Clive

          In other words, you actually want to kill someone.

          • bucherm

            Or he believes in stopping the threat. Defensive gun use without actually shooting someone is often(rightly, IMO) considered brandishing. Even in your own home.

          • Clive

            I’ve been there and done that. I’m not speaking from conjecture. His words state that he’s waiting to kill someone.

          • bucherm

            Where does it state that he’s “waiting to kill somebody”? Because he’d rather stop the threat than try to scare someone off?

            If someone breaks into the house while you’re in it, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that they are intent on bodily harm(thieves target empty houses more than not in the US, probably because of the prevalence of firearms. Compare that the UK where it’s more like 50/50).

          • Greg

            Yea I want to kill someone if they are in my house and my family and I are also in my house, I want that SOB dead. Let him bleed all over my floor. I don’t care. You wanted to harm me but I killed you first. Game over.

          • Les Legato

            You are illiterate and need some sedatives.

      • Michael R

        Unless you’re firing birdshot (non-lethal beyond 10 feet) shotguns are prone to massive over penetration.

        The right grain .223 will only penetrate a few layers of drywall before becoming a non hazard.

        • valorius

          I dont suppose youll volunteer to stand behind a few layers of drywall and let me shoot at you with a 5.56mm rifle, will you?

          • Michael R

            Irrelevant m8.

          • valorius

            What you said is factually incorrect with MANY different 5.56mm loads.

          • Michael R

            That Is correct.

            Why don’t you read what I said skippy?

          • valorius

            actually, you never mentioned anything about type of loads. you just said the right grains wrt .223, which is again, factually incorrect.

            light weight TSX (and other types of ammo) will penetrate the crap out of dry wall. Also, 5.56mm actually penetrates less than .223 in many cases- it’s higher velocity.

          • Michael R

            That’s a negative smokey, but I’ll give you an.. 80% for effort.

            15% for actual results.

          • valorius

            Sorry, but i gotcha 🙂

          • Michael R

            It’s okay, no apology needed. It happens to the best of us.

            Maybe next time spend a bit longer reading instead of inferring

          • valorius

            I read and responded to what you wrote. You wrote that certain grains of .223 dont penetrate drywall, when in actuality, the mass of the projectile is not the key factor- bullet construction is.

          • Michael R

            It’s actually a mix of both.

            The same bullet 10 grains heavier will exceed the 3 drywall test and rest firmly in the back stop.

          • Michael R

            I in fact said .223, and said only the right grain.

            Those tiny details m8.

          • valorius

            Sigh.

          • Michael R

            Better luck next time though

          • valorius

            Well since youre saying that the loading matters, i agree. And would point out that several 12ga loads wont penetrate dry wall either. Even one sheet. (Doesnt mean they’re particularly good choices)

          • Michael R

            And wouldn’t you know it? I mention bird shot.

      • bucherm

        Nope. The MA State police even stated that the reason why they switched to .223 carbines(and recommend local LE agencies do so) is because 5.56/.223 is far less likely to penetrate than 12ga.

        And you should keep a round in a chamber. The only reason you should bring a firearm out is to to stop the threat, not to try to scare someone off. Racking the pump just tells people you have a firearm, and possible your location(if they’re breaking into the house with someone in it, they probably aren’t there to steal).

        • Steve J

          Bull chit.

          • bucherm

            Shouldn’t you be napping Gramps? Or maybe outside shaking your fist at that devil-moon?

          • bucherm

            Anyway, Page three. Supports my statement, right down to the MA LEA referring to patrol rifles as a superior tool and penetrating fewer walls.

            http://www.mlefiaa.org/files/MPTC_NEWS/Patrol_Rifle_Student_Manual_2010.pdf

            BTW, just in case this wasn’t clear through the fog of Dementia you are obviously suffering from, THIS is what “supporting your stance” looks like, not “Hurr hurr I’m so smart None of you can perceive my brilliance” which has been your schtick throughout this page.

      • Brent

        Actually the 5.56 and .223 are less likely to penetrate due to the speed of the projectile. They tend to break apart when hitting fairly hard targets and that includes dry wall. I’m not saying that it won’t go through but the speed of the projectiles and the light weight bullets used in those calibers will generally cause the round to break apart instead of it just continuing on its path.

    • Robert Saunders

      A 12ga. loaded with no4 shot has more than enough stopping power at close range in soft tissue. Unless your assailants are wearing body armor, its all you need, and it has been proven to not penetrate two layers of drywall in an interior house or appt. 223 Wil go through several interior walls and even through plywood exterior walls…definitely not my first choice for home defense!

    • Steve J

      I agree with those who say the 12 is a superior choice even in an apartment. You just need to load it correctly, (and of course to practice with it).

      But I have heard the argument that a 5.56 could be used and not over penetrate. Color me skeptical but I do enjoy shooting 5.56 pistols. They are a lot of fun to shoot and they would be good inside close quarters.

      I’d still prefer a 12 for a home defense main battery.

      • Michael R

        If penetration is your concern you better be shooting bird shot.

        And they had better be within 10′ of you.

        • Steve J

          Even a cheap 1 ounce 8 shot load will act just like a slug within the confines of most any residence.

          At shorter PPC, (<10-20 yards), ranges the 12 ga is KING of stopping power.

          Hell, you could use steel wool and wax "slugs" and slaughter every intruder who dared assault you in any building without excessive penetration.

          • Michael R

            “Stopping power” shows that you’re completely ignorant about real world ballistics.

            Your knowledge #8 is correct, though. It’s a harder recoiling, less effective rifle round.

            I’d rather have a lighter recoiling, better-performing round that has 29 following it in quick session.

          • Steve J

            I’d put my formal training in ballistics and experience using ALL types of firearms from small caliber pistols to large naval guns and missiles in real world situations up against yours any time child.

  • Dave Thater

    One of the most devastating weapons with heavy loads and within reasonable distances there is …most people know that as well as the criminals…key, heavy loads.

    • Steve J

      Actually it all depends.

      In an up close and personal urban situation such as in an apartment or such, cheap Wally World upland lead 8 shot can be deadly and not have an over penetration problem.

      Even if somebody is armored up they still all have faces.

      Once ranges open up I’d tend to agree with you.

  • Jeff

    I think this is an answer looking for a question.

  • Martian_Ambassador

    If you are running the defensive shotgun correctly, the perp will likely hear nothing before the BOOM-BOOM-BOOM coincides with his demise.

  • Steve J

    A 12 gauge shotgun can be effective medicine for bears to birds, covering zombies in between.

    The one firearm everybody should have and practice with is a shotgun.

    Imo an experienced shooter MUST own at least one 12 gauge. New or recoil sensitive shooters can follow the classic learning curve of .410 to .20 to .12 if they want to.

    I have a shortened to 18.5″ goose tube single shot 10 gauge 3″ H&R that I used to carry across the back as bear medicine. From experience, loaded with 3 inch with cast wheel weight slugs it will roll an adult black bear uphill through alders and willows so thick that you can’t see your hand at the end of your arm if you push it out in front of you.

    I’m looking at a semi auto 12 with a coaxial light mounted and loaded with 1 oz slugs right now. We get bears on down in our yard all of the time around here.

    An occasional displaced urban feral zombie trying to establish a range around here is also not an unknown occurrence either.

    I want to get a Mossberg 590-A1. I NEED a shotgun with a bayonet. Everybody does.

    • Michael R

      I have no use for a 12 gauge.

      My 5.56 is a more accurate man stopper, and easier to fire for a new shooter.

      • Steve J

        You have never actually had to confront an intruder with bad intentions have you?

        You are delusional you think that any 5.56 is even in the same league as almost ANY 12 ga load when it comes to stopping power.

        Good luck, you’ll need it.

        • Michael R

          I’ve got ballistics data, and every specialist group in the world in my camp.

          What have you got? Die hards who claim the .45 is the only effective pistol round?

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            You apparently are on drugs.

            ALL of human history has shown that your absurd stance is WRONG in the real world.

            You weekend armchair wannabe “warriors” crack me up!

          • Michael R

            “All” of human history is irrelevant. We want current information that reflects modern ballistics and bullet types.

            Maybe get outa the care home and enter the real world?

          • Steve J

            ROTFLMAOAY!!!!!

            “Modern” ballistics are EXACTLY the same as “traditional” ballistics.

            “The fire control problem” is and always has been the same.

            History didn’t start when you were born little girl.

            Honestly you really are an ignorant person.

          • Michael R

            Really?

            So then self-defense is large, slow moving projectiles with a solid metal jacket?

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            Yeah, “REALLY”.

            Ever heard of vector physics genius?

            Try to focus, when did I ever mention hard ball ammo genius?

            Have you ever seen the differences between the wounds that shotguns produce vs. handgun/rifle wounds? especially as I already mentioned, at shorter PPC ranges?

            Why did John Browning even invent the 1911/.45 acp fool?

            A little hint,

            the reason that the .45 acp was invented won’t help your absurd and ignorant position.

            You do realize that “ma duce” is a WW1 designed weapon don’t you fool?

          • Michael R

            According to you “ballistics hasn’t changed”.

            Well FMJ ammunition was at one time the height of ballistic perfection.

            The .45 ACP was made because 100+ years ago the U.S. demanded a large bullet, because after all bigger is better, and wanted to get away from revolvers.

            Now we know that a small, fast moving bullet is better.

            You do realize that there’s only two states of being, right? Dead and not-dead? The shotgun may make a bigger mess, but it doesn’t make them “more dead”.

            Personally I like that your “come backs” involve digging a deeper hole. Feel free to stop digging at any time.

          • bucherm

            “ALL of human history has shown that your absurd stance is WRONG in the real world”

            Then it shouldn’t be too hard to find ample evidence to support your position?

            Here’s the deal, if you like shotguns because that’s just what makes you more comfortable, fine. But that isn’t the argument you’ve made anywhere. Instead you’re promulgating a position as if it’s objective fact without providing supporting evidence.

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            It IS a given, if you had any knowledge of the history of firearms or any actual experience with their real world use, which you obviously do not.

            I’m not a teacher. I’m an experienced shooter who will waste no more time arguing FACTS with ignorant fools.

            I don’t care what you “think” or “do”.

            Do as you will.

            LOL!

          • bucherm

            “It IS a given,”

            Obviously not, otherwise so many people wouldn’t be disputing your statement.

            That you keep on going “hurr I’m so much smarter than you” is a pretty strong indication that you haven’t a clue as to whether or not the evidence actually supports it. You’re just repeating what Pappy told you and you can’t imagine being wrong.

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            Try to man up little girl, it has ZERO to do with being “smarter” than you or anybody else.

            It’s just established FACT among people who DO and have DONE.

            If you don’t like that, you know where you can put it.

          • bucherm

            “It’s just established FACT among people who DO and have DONE.”

            Gonna repeat what I said early sport;

            It obviously is not. And hell, it obviously isn’t much of an “established fact” if you can’t spend 5 damn minutes finding supporting evidence.

            Maybe you should turn the computer off and go back to longingly looking at your Buck on the wall, assuaging yourself that it isn’t you who is out of touch, but those kids on the Internet?

          • bucherm

            Oh man your post History.

            So, when did you escape from the Old Folks home? If only things could be like they were when you were a young lad, when you could lynch the coloreds and gays were sent to insane asylums.

    • bucherm

      “Imo an experienced shooter MUST own at least one 12 gauge”

      Nope, I don’t hunt and it’s mediocre as a HD choice is local laws/money aren’t a consideration.

      • Steve J

        Respectfully.

        I don’t care what you do or believe.

        I was only expressing my own personal OPINION.

        But, imho, only a complete fool would call a 12 ga a “mediocre HD choice”.

        It has nothing to do at all with money or local LAWS either.

        • Michael R

          Only an ignorant person would call the 12 gauge a good HD choice.

          It’s far too prone to over penetration, unless you’re using bird shot which is ineffective outside of 10 yards.

          • Steve J

            LMAO!

            Keep saying it, maybe you can make yourself believe it?

          • Michael R

            Ever notice that modern urban clearing the rifleman is in the lead, with a shotgun in a secondary position, if that?

            Notice that when the FBI’s SWAT teams move in it’s rifles in the lead, with a shotgun rarely seen?

          • Steve J

            Ever notice that DEFENSIVE weapons tactics and use are DIFFERENT than OFFENSIVE weapons tactics and use are genius?

            We are/were talking about DEFENSIVE uses at the shorter PPC ranges, and in enclosed spaces genius.

            I even stated that outside of those shorter ranges that there were other more suitable weapon choices for self DEFENSE.

            Duh.

        • Michael R

          You should probably pick up a ballistics manual that was printed within the last 15 years.

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            Funny chit!

            Honestly, I’ve forgotten more about ballistics than you will ever know about it.

            We are talking about close in, short range, interior self defense.

            Only an ignorant person thinks that “ballistics” is the determinate factor in stopping feral zombies.

            What matters is the efficiency of the transfer of the terminal ballistics to that “bag of water” that is trying to harm you and/or your loved ones.

          • Michael R

            Yeah, that’s the issue.

            Your information is outdated. We don’t need to know “What you’ve forgotten”

            The only thing that’s applicable is “What is the latest numbers being pushed from certain groups.”

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            The basic methods of solving the fire control problem are “outdated??

            Basic ballistics is just vector physics.

            You “think” that traditional basic ballistics has changed?

            LOL!

            GOOD one!

          • Michael R

            15 years ago the 9mm was an anemic round that was on the verge of becoming obsolete.

            Today the 9mm can deliver energy that rivals that of the .45.

            15 years ago the .380 was a joke round for self-defense.

            15 years ago the shotgun was the be all, end all answer to home defense.

            Today it’s outclassed in every way by the .223 round. That’s why the FBI uses it in urban environments.

          • Steve J

            LOL! That’s NOT “ballistics” little girl.

            32ft/sec/sec.

            THAT is ballistics child.

            You are so proud of your ignorance that it’s kind of embarrassing.

            Really.

          • Michael R

            And you’re so far in the past that I’m amazed you’re using electricity.

            I guess you like the shotgun because the large bore makes it easier to ram the shot into place, huh?

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            You’re a real snotty little bitch aren’t you?

            Pitiful.

          • Michael R

            Well, I tried using facts, and they scared you. You wanted to get into personal attacks, well two can play at that.

            Except unlike you I’m not using the same 3 words.

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            You wouldn’t know a FACT if it bit you on your fat stupid azz.

            Come on “genius”, tell me why the 1911/.45acp was invented?

            Tell me how “ma duce” has survived and prospered in the years since WW1, (when it was designed) ?

            Why didn’t dem “old fashioned” ballistics make it useless?

            I bet you don’t even know what the basic fire control problem IS let alone how to compute any of it’s solutions?

            Pitiful.

            LMAO!

        • bucherm

          “But, imho, only a complete fool would call a 12 ga a “mediocre HD choice”.”

          Do you load it with rock salt too to warn the kids off the lawn?

          It’s a mediocre HD choice unless laws and money are a consideration. Semiautomatic rifles and even handguns are FAR better for home defense. Shotguns are good bird guns, that’s it. Appropriate self-defense rounds for shotguns overpenetrate far more than something in 5.56 or even 5.45.

          Semiautomatic rifles are better(better capacity, better ergonomics, less recoil, and won’t penetrate as far). Semiautomatic -handguns- are better, if for no other reason to have something to answer that banging at the door at 0300.

          And if I lived somewhere where Grizzlies were a concern, I’d run with a .45-70.

          • Steve J

            You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

            All serious people know that you never try to wound anybody or anything. IF you have to shoot somebody or something you are by definition trying to KILL it or them.

            I do live where “grizzlies” live, and you seem to me to be awfully proud of your ignorance.

            I do not argue established FACTS with ignorant fools.

            Do as you will.

          • bucherm

            “You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.”

            I’ll take that as a “yes I do load it with rock salt to keep kids off the lawn”.

            You haven’t been able to dispute, not once on this page, any of the reasons laid out for a semiautomatic rifle over a 12ga as a home defense weapon. Instead you keep on screaming “you’s ig’nent” and cmaking vague allusions to your superior knowledge without actually offering anything up.

            I bet your parents were of the “don’t question my authority” type growing up, even when they were backed into a corner with an obvious mistake/lie, weren’t they? Apple must not have dropped far from the tree if your default for not being able to explain your reasoning is to talk about how smart you are.

            “I do not argue established FACTS with ignorant fools.”

            You haven’t provided any evidence of “established facts” other than a indication you haven’t opened a book on firearms that was written after the Carter Administration.

            Come on. Cowboy up. Try to explain the reasoning beyond “hurr hurr I’m smarter than you”. I laid out my reasoning in the post you responded too, at least give it a shot.

            BTW, earlier you said it was your own “PERSONAL OPINION” and now it’s “ESTABLISHED FACTS”, which is it?

          • Steve J

            You seem to think that I have some need or desire to convince you of the actual FACTS?

            I don’t.

            I don’t care if fools such as you end up dead by being stupid.

            You simply have no idea what you are talking about.

            LOL!

            Oh well …

            Have a nice day!

          • bucherm

            “You seem to think that I have some need or desire to convince you of the actual FACTS?”

            Nope. I think you have a desire to convince me you’re right, _which is not the same thing_.

            If you were that concerned about “facts” you’d have trotted out some supporting evidence by now.

          • Steve J

            LOL!

            I know an invincibly ignorant chump when I see one little gurl.

            Why would I waste any more time on you?

            You and your ilk need to see it on TV before you believe it anyways.

            Pitiful.

          • bucherm

            Toppest of keks.

            Hey, maybe you should say “bull chit” again because obviously “shit” is a mean dirty word and if you say it you can’t pretend your better than other people, huh? I mean, it’s much easier to engage in a smug sense of superiority than support your statements.

  • Axel

    I notice your only comparison to rifles was the cost difference. Of course shotguns are cheaper, but if it is within your budget I think an AR, or any semi-auto in the 20-calibers (5.56 or 5.45) is better. Much lower recoil, higher capacity, can often be lighter weight, more compact, great soft target effectiveness and low-penetration for home defense roles with certain ammo choices.

    • phil

      I own 4 -5.45 & a 5.56, I love them but wouldn’t want to shoot them indoors if I had options. A carbine in a pistol caliber has way less report and flash. It’s just as effective and has all the attributes you mentioned.

  • Bill Catz

    You can also get recoil pads for shotgun stocks. My Remington Model 12 Trap gun has one. You can shoot it all day and not come home bruised.

  • Richard Baker

    One other advantage of a shotgun is they are generally a short range gun which may make them less dangerous to other residences or distant bystanders.

    • Joseph Lammers

      Agreed. Also, almost all actual self-defense situations are going to be close range. Perhaps in a case of general societal collapse (something I consider unlikely, but not impossible) a longer range weapon might become necessary, but most Americans probably don’t have the necessary skills to survive something like that long term anyway.

  • Ed Ward

    Truth be told, any gun can be made into an acceptable to very good home defense tool. I have seen guys run an H&R single shot 12G as fast as some guys run a pump as it all comes back or down to that one indispensable variable in small-arms we all know and love called “training.” So I think the shotgun is just as capable as someones AR provide they know how to run it. Honestly, if a guy is well versed in both the AR/AK and Scattergun platforms it’s a coin toss as to which one would best serve.

    Conversely, if we are looking to arm Grandma then we are looking at anything other than a shotgun (in most cases but you haven’t seen my Granny 😉

  • Sianmink

    Owning a shotgun is a no-brainer. An inexpensive model with barrels that are easily changed, and you have your go-to solution for home defense, small game, medium game, and sport.
    it may not be the best in any category but birding, but it will get the job done all the same.

  • Anomouse

    One thing often overlooked is shooting inside the house is going to destroy your hearing, at least in the immediate battle if not permanently. That’s why I keep a pair of electronic muffs next to my lock box. Even if you don’t care about the noise, you’ll be at a disadvantage if you can’t hear what’s going on after the first shots.

    The other thing is that while a shotgun is probably the best all-around HD weapon, you do present yourself with a visible weapon even if it a benign threat. Obviously if your home is invaded you’ll want to use everything at your disposal but in some situations you may not see a threat coming and a long gun could be a provocation rather than a deterrent. A pistol can be concealed, which makes you less of a target in an unknown situation.

    Every situation is different so training and anticipation is important… I like having all my options available so I have a pistol at close range, shotguns and rifles within a short distance.

    • Buck Holeshot

      yup….me too.

  • guest

    Define “relevant.”

    In the 19th and 20th Centuries, lots of bad people ended up in the ground as a result of finding themselves on the wrong end of a shotgun in a good person’s hands. There’s no question, the shotgun is highly lethal. There’s no question, 27 pellets of #4 buckshot to the center of mass tends to be highly effective at across-the-room distances.

    But in the 21st Century more modern tools are available that have lower recoil, higher magazine capacity, and faster reloads, without sacrificing much power. Modern defensive ammo in 5.56mm (consider the Navy’s Mk 262 round) is quite effective–and at ranges far beyond the across-the-room, across-the-street, down-to-the-end-of-the-block effective range you get with a shotgun and buckshot. 40 meters is pushing things with a 12 gauge and buckshot in the antipersonnel role. The 5.56mm is just getting started at 400, if the user has the eyesight and the skill to make the shot.

    No question, a 12 gauge pump, preferably with the barrel cut down a bit to make it handier in narrow hallways, loaded with buckshot, remains a viable, usable weapon–in the very narrow niche application of home and shop defense, where almost every fight is at powder-burn distance and it’s usually only one or two on one–and will prove very lethal in the hands of a resolute man who’s got his back to the wall. But if I’m going to war, I’m picking up a rifle, not a scattergun. If anything, in the 21st Century, the old full-size service revolvers in .357 Magnum, with appropriately chosen ammunition, do a far better job of keeping up with performance standards established with high-capacity striker-fired semiautos with double stack magazines when you test it in realistic defensive scenarios (1-3 opponents at just past arm’s length in the dark) than any “combat shotgun” can when you compare it with an AR or an AK or even an M1 Carbine for the same kind of work, much less for returning fire effectively against multiple foes engaging from a far ambush at 75-100 meters or more.

    The shotgun’s main advantage nowadays is that you can go into any pawn shop anywhere and walk out with a beater 12 gauge pump for $150 cash, maybe as low as $100 if you’re lucky and find the counter guy in a haggling mood. An AR15 of decent quality with a red-dot sight and a goodly supply of mags can approach $1000. For persons of very limited financial means, the shotgun can work acceptably well at a fraction of the cost.

    As a guy at a certain firearms forum put it, “The 12 gauge shotgun is like the vermiform appendix. It’s a vestigial carry-over from a much earlier point in our evolutionary history. Everybody’s got one. And now and then they still kill people.”

    • Z

      Proper tool for the job at hand is the key.I would not use a shot gun to make shots at over 50 yards but that’s me.

      An AR rifle has its place,a handgun has its place and a shotgun has its place,but no matter what a person chooses between these three types of firearms to protect themselves either choice is better than a stick.

      • All Seeing Eye

        The other big question is … do you know how to run the gun? For example, I feel very comfortable with both AR an pump SG. I can run a pump as fast as most semi-auto shooters. If you feel comfortable with your ability you can consider which has the best terminal effects. Otherwise stick to what you have trained the most with.

      • valorius

        In almost all cases, 50 meter shots are not self defense, they’re murder charges that YOU will be facing.

    • All Seeing Eye

      Idiotic. Home defence situations (the topic here) are not the same as combat situations with multiple targets at ranges out to 100+ meters.. HD you are usually looking at 1-3 targets at close range. Terminal effects from a 12 gauge with buckshot at close range vs. a 5.56 rifle bullet is not worth debating.

      A simple test for you … To save you soul, family, country, whatever … you have to hold up a hand and take shot at 3 yds (9 feet) from either a 12g 00Buck or a 5.56. Not a difficult question.

      • valorius

        Agreed. When it comes to terminal performance a single round of 12 ga (either buck or slug) is as good as multiple shots from a 5.56mm of any flavor.

        • Michael R

          When you say round do you mean shell or a projectile?

          Because the projectile is smaller than a .38 caliber ball in many flavors

          • valorius

            Round means 1 cartridge, or shot, if you will.

            A 12 ga 00 buck round can pack a dozen supersonic .33 caliber lead balls. No 5.56mm round will come even remotely close to matching the dmg of a 00 buck round at realistic self defense ranges.

  • Ham

    What I’d like to know is this: at a distance of 15′ will the shot go thorough two layers of Sheetrock? You need to keep in mind what’s on the other side of that wall. Is your family in danger from stray shot? Something to consider with this and all weaponry.

    • valorius

      At 15 feet one shot of almost anything will go through 2 sheets of sheet rock.

    • NCBrian

      agree with valorius. a 22 will go through sheet rock- especially at 15′
      hell, my sister put my butt through one once when we were kids.

  • valorius

    I use low recoil 1100 fps 2 1/4″ brenneke style slugs in my home defense win-defender 12 ga. Capacity is 8 and one.

    Even if it doesnt expand at all, it’s still putting a 3/4″ diameter hole ALL the way through a bad guy, no matter what angle i hit them from.

    My win defender has a 2″ reduced length of pull hogue overmolded stock and 18″ barrel, it’s actually darn near as short as my 16″ AR with the stock completely collapsed.

  • AntoxaGray

    You’re also going to make big hole in your house if you miss, better have small hole from pistol or rifle.