27 Responses to Question of the Day: Home Defense: Shotgun or Rifle?

  1. What Scott says. Right now I have a Sub 2000 (Glockish) for my primary home defense gun. A soft shooter, inexpensive, accurate and ideal for the purpose. But I’ve also had a hankering to add something like a Mossy 500 Persuader to he arsenal. Guess I just like the idea of sending a volley of OO buck toward deserving marauders.

    • Chris, it depends on what you load it with. Slugs, 000, 00, and 0 Buck all penetrate more than .55-grain .223, and I think #4 is close (don’t have that in front of me right now). the .AR bullet tends to yaw and fragment. Buckshot pellets retain their mass and just keep trucking.

      My personal choice for a shotgun would be pheasant loads, though a lot of “experts” insist on buckshot.

  2. I have both as well – my Mossy sits in the safe with #4 and #00 loaded, and Winchester PDX1 12-ga on the side-saddle. I keep a Magpul 30-rd magazine sitting full with 28-rounds of 77-grain JHPs sitting on the top shelf of the safe.

  3. I’m gonna take a contrarian position here. I agree with “both” as the right answer. But having given it a lot of thought, I’m as worried about what comes after (presuming I survive) than just the battle itself. So I vote for a lever-action rifle and pump 12-gauge shotgun.

    The lever-action is proven design, and it is to an AR or AK what a revolver is to a semi-auto: more or less idiot-proof. And if I’m groggy and not completely firing on all 8, I wanna have something I can’t screw up. A good lever-action will give me plenty of rounds to shoot. I’ll take my chances that I won’t need to reload. (Most gun battles are over with in under 30 seconds, anyway.) The pump shotgun (to me, anyway) is more reliable than a semi-auto, too.

    But it’s the after where this plan holds the upper ground. Let’s take two scenarios – you, with your black rifle with picatinny rail, tactical laser, light, holographic sights and extended magazine, and a semi-auto shotgun in mossy oak camo. Me, with a lever-action in, say .45 Colt, and a Wingmaster 870. Which one of us looks to the DA as if we’re normal folk, just trying to defend our home, and which one looks like a Rambo wanna-be who is spoiling for a fight?

    I want to survive a confrontation. But I also want to survive the confrontation AFTER the confrontation, and the legal one seems to be potentially more deadly than the physical one.

    • The confrontation after the confrontation? I think there’s a certain someone we just might be chatting with next week that may have an idear or two about that one… 🙂

  4. If you live in an urban apt. condo, or cookie cutter house, at least put frangible ammo in your rifle. Also how accurate are you in a dark house, half awake with an adrenalin dump? Shotgun with #4-6 birdshot at SD distances of less than 7yds, leave a hole the size of a baseball. With very little chance of overpenetrating.

    In a rural, country setting… I’d still stick with frangible ammo, and go to Reduced Recoil OOBuck. 9pellet.

  5. PS90 carbine. 26″ overall length, 50 rounds and my wife can handle it as well as I can. Though the FS2000 is only 3″ longer, and uses .223… Maybe someday.

  6. I usually have both ready. I would probably grab a rifle these days. I shoot better fast with one. A 1911 sits next to the bed, to fight my way to the rifle if needed

  7. Brad, I understand your concerns about “what happens after.”

    However, where I live, the DA probably owns an AR with way more gee-gaws and doo-dads on it than I do.

    Arkansas state law is very clear when it comes to defense inside the home.

    I quote from Arkansas Statute 5-2-620 Use of Force to Defend Persons and Property Within Home

    (a) the right on an individual to defend himself or herself and the life of a person or property in the individual’s home against harm, injury, or loss by a person unlawfully entering or attempting to enter or intrude into the home is reaffirmed as a fundamental right to be preserved and promoted as public policy in this state.

    (b) There is a legal presumption that any force or means used to accomplish a purpose described in subsection (a) of this section was exercised in a lawful and necessary manner, unless the presumption is overcome by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.

    (c) The public policy stated in subsection (a) of this section shall be strictly complied with by the court and an appropriate instruction of this public policy shall be given to a jury sitting in trial of criminal charges brought in connection with this public policy.

    It’s a very bad idea to unlawfully break into houses in Arkansas. Very bad, indeed.

  8. I’d say neither. A pistol caliber Carbine, semi-automatic or lever action, is just about the perfect home defense weapon for me.

  9. It looks like we finally found a use for the Red Jacket Firearms AR-15 Mounted Saiga-12 Shotgun “Master Key” thingamabob.

  10. I suppose using a Bighorn .50 S&W Magnum lever rifle would be overkill?
    (I love this note on the 400 grain .50 S&W rifle bullet on handloads.com: “had 87% weight retention even after going through a railroad tie and hitting a .25” thick steel plate at 50 yards “)

  11. I’ve been doing more reading about it lately, and I’m leaning towards pistol cartridge carbine at the moment. Less recoil, flash and noise than a shotgun, and probably more rounds on tap too (if semi-auto versus lever action). Shotgun with birdshot might work better at not hitting the neighbors house, but it’ll still go through interior walls and/or and possibly not deep enough into Mr BG.

    But really, nothing wrong with having both. I’m not sure what my neighbor was shooting last night, but I’m guessing a shotgun by the door makes good sense for anything outside.

  12. With where I live, and the layout/size of my house, a shotgun gets the nod. There are others at the ready, but an 870 24″ SuperMag is on 1st string. However, it is, and will always stay ready as a back-up for hunting. Including a camo dip suited for what/where I hunt, not because Col. Trautman gave me the go to draw first blood. “Are you still reading me? Company leader to Raven! Rambo! Acknowledge!”

  13. I would prefer shotgun, and model specific would be Saiga-12. Semi-auto with 10 round magazine loaded with #1 buckshot.

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