Why The Shotgun Is Best For Home Defense

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 3 weeks ago

Shooting Illustrated.

It’s not quick to load. Its range is miniscule. It’s not very accurate. It’s difficult to master and it kicks like hell. Even so, the shotgun is universally feared and respected.

Why? Because when it’s in trained hands, it is unlikely to miss. Its bowling-ball-size swath of destruction allows more leeway for error than a single bullet. And, when those .33-caliber, solid-lead balls smash into something at close range, there’s not much short of a world-class trauma team that can repair such damage. Dangerous men who tangle with dangerous men for a living know this, and if the other team has brought a shotgun to the fight, it commands all the attention of a rattlesnake in the outhouse. More than 100 years ago, in the Great War, Winchester’s 1897 pump-action shotgun was so devastating on the battlefield, our enemies petitioned to have it banned.

Academically, the shotgun’s power is easily defined. The standard, nine-pellet, 00-buckshot load features a collective 1.21-ounce payload that’s fired at 1,200 fps to produce roughly 1,700 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy and 30 ft.-lbs. of free-recoil energy. Or, you can choose a 3-inch, 12-pellet magnum load fired at 1,425 fps to produce 3,295 ft.-lbs. of energy—if you are prepared for its 55 ft.-lbs. of recoil that will soon wind up on your cheek and shoulder. Either way, it’s vastly favorable to be on the butt end of that punch rather than the muzzle.

[ … ]

Yet, the shotgun’s power shouldn’t be overhyped, even by so-called experts such as this writer who have a vested interest in the arm’s worth, for it is irresponsible and dishonest to do so. Fact is, the combat shotgun is a specialized tool—requiring extensive training and practice—for certain close-range scenarios, but it shouldn’t be the end-all choice in arms for everything. After 35 yards it’s not great, and after 75 it’s terrible regardless of the load. If your hands are untrained, you’re better off with a rifle. The shotgun is heavy, takes an eternity to load compared to a detachable-magazine-fed firearm and mastering it so its pattern strikes where the shooter looks, without the use of sights, takes years to accomplish.

Some of this seems to me to be a dated viewpoint.  We’ve already shown that with the right choke, 00 buck can be put inside a five inch group at 50 yards.  By way of information, the choke used in that video the URL embeds is now available and I have one.  I have not used it yet.

Also, shooting the Beretta A400 with its gas operation and kickoff stock recoil control, I’d have to remark that it doesn’t feel much different than shooting an AR, and I could hunt Quail with it all day with ease and comfort.  And I’m not sure it’s correct or even wise to say that if you can’t shoot a shotgun accurately your “better off with a rifle.”

I do know that 00 buck will travel through walls like handgun or even rifle rounds, and that the discerning shooting will consider other loads for homes in neighborhoods like Turkey shot (#4 or #5).  Finally, I’m not sure it’s correct to focus on the difficulty of reloading when magazine tube extensions can give you seven rounds.


Comments

  1. On June 30, 2023 at 12:17 am, RHT447 said:

    We live in a cul-de-sac so yeah, other loads. My choice is Kent Fasteel 2.0 12ga
    3-inch, 1 1/8 oz #2 steel shot, 1560 fps. Shotgun is a Benelli Super 90 M1 that i bought in 1995.

    To carry a reload, I bought an inexpensive nylon bandoleer on Amazon. It holds 25 rounds, but I only load it with 10. Not too heavy that way and easy to sling over my head and shoulder.

  2. On June 30, 2023 at 7:03 am, MN Steel said:

    Sounds like the author never does any bird hunting, and doesn’t own a lever gun to reload. Probably never shot skeet or clays, nor hunted rabbits in an alder swamp with beagles.

    There are a lot of ways to get “extensive training and practice” with a scattergun that most writers pooh-pooh because the dirt people are dumb. It seems most of the tacticool guys think if there isn’t a fresh mag to slam in it’s too complicated.

    This is the reason I refuse to watch most videos, and the last gun magazine I bought was over 5 years ago and never will again because the slanted articles and all the ads. The 870 Wingmaster Magnum I bought from a friend’s dad when I was a High School sophomore for $250 works to this day.

  3. On June 30, 2023 at 7:55 am, Bob in NC said:

    “the discerning shooting will consider other loads for homes in neighborhoods like Turkey shot (#4 or #5)”

    I would not use birdshot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1ypIqVEOhc&t=130s

    Also, the fear of penetrating walls is over- hyped out there – unless you live in an apartment or condo with a shared wall, or just happened to be outside in the path of the shot.
    If you have cement fiber siding (as does our home, and those of our neighbors on either side) the 00 Buckshot would have to pass through our siding, travel about 20 feet, and pass through the neighbor’s siding to risk hitting a person accidentally. I would guess that there wouldn’t be much velocity left at this point. And as above, my neighbor would have to be in the shot’s line of fire to be hit.
    Yes, all those are possibilities but to me, the odds are very low. Or as Seinfeld put it “that would have to be one magic loogie.”

  4. On June 30, 2023 at 9:26 am, BRVTVS said:

    Also, don’t sell the 410 bores short. A 3″ 000 buck can send 5 36 caliber lead balls down range, equivalent to emptying the cylinder of a 51 Navy, and with recoil no worse than a 30-30. I like the 410.

  5. On June 30, 2023 at 7:31 pm, Ned said:

    Never heard of a home defense situation where a shotgun user ran dry. Seven or eight rounds should typically be fine.

  6. On June 30, 2023 at 8:13 pm, mike said:

    I think shotguns have been under considered in home defense for a lot of reasons. Consider the rural resident awakened late at night by a sizeable raiding party. It could consist of a couple of vehicles driving by and firing at the house, and/or dismounted raiders trying to burn you out, kill livestock, or otherwise just harass political enemies. A groggy defender awakened to such an attack should be able to return fire in the general area of the hostiles and perhaps surpress them without having full situational orientation and an ideal sight picture. The outnumbered defender is such a situation can negate the numbers advantage somewhat with rapid area fire. Within the effective range, multiple hostiles taking positions in treelines or trying to clear obstacles like wire fences can be interdicted or pinned down with the same area return fire technique.
    Other considerations include the wide variety of special loads available commercially or through customized reloading of hulls. Flames, flares, malaya loads, exploding slugs, tungsten steel toolbits, what have you, can all be tested and pressed into action if the shotgunner cares to invest in researching those options.

  7. On July 1, 2023 at 4:40 pm, VietVet said:

    My fence line is 1100’ up a gravel road off a one lane county road

    There’s a 180’ bull gate controlled by solar panels, batteries and me.

    There’s six sensors before you get to the gate.

    I already know you’re here.

    Then the early warning system goes off

    150 pound Great Pyrenees that can chase down anything

    People don’t hang around long

  8. On July 2, 2023 at 2:59 pm, X said:

    The shotgun for home defense is completely overrated. Sure, if you blast some guy with it he’s toast. No objection there.

    But the handgun is better because it’s… handy. A shotgun is a two-handed weapon with limited ammo capacity. It requires you to consider it’s length when maneuvering indoors. Recoil and blast even with birdshot is a factor indoors. Those are issues for older people and petite women. You can’t dial 911 to report an attempted burglary or perform other tasks while holding it in one hand. You can’t holster it if the situation calls for it.

    If you live in a free state where magazines are not castrated, you will probably be able to handle all your self-defense needs with a Glock 17 with 17 rounds of 9mm on tap and a spare mag or two.

    After all, that’s what the cops will probably be carrying when they show up.

  9. On July 3, 2023 at 3:41 am, jrg said:

    If its night time (and a lot of home invasions – burglars tend to show up after dark), the shotgun’s spread within 40 yards is an definite advantage. And if you decide to stay in your bedroom and defend that (your lawyer will applaud that – definitely proof of self defense), a loaded pair of shotguns should take care of business.

    Another loaded shotgun is faster than reloading the one. You know your home’s layout and where anyone will be approaching from.

  10. On July 4, 2023 at 11:09 am, PJ said:

    The ladies seemed to like my 20-gauge pump…

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You are currently reading "Why The Shotgun Is Best For Home Defense", entry #35309 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published June 29th, 2023 by Herschel Smith.

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