The sound of a pump-action shotgun makes when you rack it (i.e. when you chamber a shell) is awesome. CH-CHUNK! Like the sound of an S-Class Mercedes door closing, I could listen to it all day. But the idea that racking a shotgun will ward off bad guys is seriously misguided, for a whole lot of reasons.
1. It means you don’t have a round chambered
What could possibly go wrong? You forget to do it. You forget to chamber a round. Or you short stroke the shotgun and fail to chamber a round (short shucking as above). Or you get so involved in racking your scattergun you forget to switch off the safety. D’oh!
2. It tells the bad guys you’re armed
They don’t need to know that, do they? If aspiring attackers suddenly discover that you’re armed, and they didn’t have a firearm or ambush at the ready, they will when they hear a shotgun brought into play.
3. It reveals your location
Assuming you’re hidden . . . The bad guys don’t need to know your location, do they? If they suddenly discover your 10-20, they can zero-in on you easily. How’s that a good thing?
4. Scaring a bad guy — if indeed shotgun racking does that — may not be the best idea
Fear creates adrenalin. Adrenalin can make you, or in this case the bad guy(s), insensible to danger. If you really want to frighten them away — an undependable tactic but WTH — surprising them with a shotgun pointed at them is the better way to go. Of course, shooting them with a shotgun is the ultimate disincentive.
The best overarching plan for armed defense is, as always, speed, surprise and violence of action. While a shotgun certainly qualifies for the last of the three, racking it violates one and two. Don’t do it. Keep one in the pipe. In fact, consider buying a semi-automatic shotgun; a good one is plenty reliable.