Throughout our defensive shotgun series, we’ve covered a number of topics related to how to get the most out of the shotgun in the context of personal protection through careful gear selection, using proper techniques, and intentional practice. But a question remains that we haven’t really addressed directly: why use a shotgun for home defense to begin with? Handguns and carbines are both more popular at the range these days, and many shooters see no real need to consider a shotgun as a defensive tool. There’s certainly nothing wrong with using a pistol or your favorite black rifle for home defense, but there’s still one thing the shotgun does better than anything else…
Why Use a Shotgun for Home Defense?
Full transcript below:
Hey guys, I wanted to make a quick diversion from our video series about double action semi-autos and go back to the topic of defensive shotguns for just a minute.
Specifically, I want to address the issue of why or under what circumstances you would want to choose a shotgun for home defense instead of a handgun or a carbine. This is something that came up a couple of times in some of the videos and blog articles we’ve done in our defense shotgun series but based on some of the questions that you guys have been asking, I wanted to make sure we went back and clarified a couple of details.
I don’t think the shotgun is always the best choice for everybody for home defense, and I think a lot of people really misunderstand the pros and cons when they’re weighing that decision and especially when they’re giving advice to other people.
The primary advantage of using a shotgun for self-defense is that it fires multiple projectiles every time you pull the trigger. That’s something no other gun can do – at least not effectively. The reason that’s an advantage is not because the pellets spread out so that you don’t have to aim. This issue was addressed pretty well by Darryl Bolke in his article on shotgun myths that he wrote for our blog a couple of weeks ago. At distances inside a home, buckshot is only going to spread a few inches. But because that pattern stays tight, the cumulative effect that cluster of pellets has on the target is devastating.
If you take any self-defense training for handguns or carbines, almost across the board in every class, you will do drills where you practice shooting a target several times in quick succession. The reason we train this way is because it’s not terribly uncommon for a violent attacker to keep doing whatever he wants to do even after he’s been shot. So we try to prepare for that worst case scenario and assume that he’s going to take two or three or even six shots before he goes down.
With a shotgun, we can usually achieve the same results with a single shot. It’s very rare for a violent attacker to continue being violent after being hit in the torso with a load of buckshot at close range. So the shotgun gives us the potential to end a fight a lot quicker than if we use a handgun or a carbine.
Because the shotgun is so efficient, I don’t think low the ammo capacity is the disadvantage it’s often perceived to be. The heavy recoil is also exaggerated and I covered how to deal with that in an earlier video. The real disadvantage of the shotgun is the size. Trying to move around inside a house with a long gun in a way that still allows you to still quickly engage a threat is not easy. You can get an NFA length short barrel and that might help out a little bit, but it’s still a challenge compared to using a handgun.
But on the flip side of that, if you think there might be an intruder inside your home, you really shouldn’t be moving around a whole lot to begin with. I don’t know much about the tactics of clearing a house but I do know that one of the first rules is to never do it by yourself, ever, unless you absolutely have to. And if the guys who kick down doors for a living aren’t willing to go into a house alone and hunt bad guys, then I know I don’t have any business doing it at 2 in the morning in my underwear.
So, generally speaking, if you have reason to believe there’s somebody in your house, it’s best to just stay where you are, call 911, and wait. And that’s when the shotgun is really the ideal firearm to have with you.
But if the whole “bunker defense” strategy isn’t really an option for you, because you’ve got, like, kids in another part of the house, then you’re probably better off using a handgun.
And as for the carbine, that can be used in the same role as the shotgun — a lot of people find those to be a little easier to use. And really, we could go around in circles all day about handgun versus carbine versus shotgun. The bottom line is that they’ve all got advantages and disadvantages and they all require training in order to use competently. Personally, I like having a handgun close by, but I also keep a shotgun handy because 90% of the time, it works every time.