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“That is one of the only defensive situation(s) where (a shotgun) shines above an AR-15, the other being an attack on your home by people made up of sporting clays.” So sayeth Patrick R. at The Firearm Blog.

As you’d expect, his article Have Shotguns Jumped The Shark? I Think So has baited many a click. Patrick takes one look at the spate of newfangled bullpup scatterguns (e.g., a snake-skinned DP-12 above), throws up a little in his metaphorical mouth and pronounces T.O.D. on the home defense shotgun.

Not so fast, Mr. Bond.

I understand the advantages of a rifle for home defense: capacity, accuracy, portability, etc. But a shotgun is a fearsome weapon for defending kith and kin. Loaded with double-ought buck, it’s as close to a one-shot conversation stopper as money can buy. If you’re using a gun to defend a space — as opposed to gathering friendlies or room clearing — a shotgun is ideal.

Shotguns are also relatively cheap and relatively foolproof (I recommend a good semi-automatic). As someone who’s stared at the business end of a 12-gauge — whose barrels resembled the entrance to the Holland tunnel — I can tell you that they’re the dictionary definition of commonly available ballistic intimidation. And you can use them for sporting clays.

In short, The Firearm Blog’s report of the home defense shotgun’s demise may be a little premature. As if you didn’t know.

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176 Responses to In Defense of The Home Defense Shotgun

  1. Um, why not both and a pistol? If you have access to all three of course, i know I have protection all over the house, wife’s .380 and 9mm, my 9mm, .45acp, 12ga shorty, and my ar15 are all loaded and within reach, all together over 60 rounds instantly available as I work thru my home, why you ask? Because you just never know in a town like mine, there are 13 prisons from one end of town to the other.

  2. IMO, the best thing shotguns have going for them is that they’re generally cheap and reliable… and as long as all friendlies are on one side and all enemies are on the other, it’s good to go. However, the semiauto rifle caliber carbine is more versatile. If I could only hump one long gun, it wouldn’t be a shotgun.

    • I just don’t see how a modern sporting rifle is more versatile than a shotgun. Yes, you can defend your home with both and you can hunt with both, but an ar is a bit overpowered for small game like rabbit which 7 1/2 shot works perfectly for. While you can take deer with an ar i would be more confident with a rifled shotgun barrel with a slug. I’ve also never seen anyone recommend 5.56 or .223 for geese, pheasant, or quail.

      • +1

        It is almost as if some people need a justification for owning an MSR. Relax, it’s the Bill of Rights not the Bill of Needs.

        The M-1 carbine is actually the best PDW ever made. If I could find a new build that was reliable I would own one.

        • Inland Manufacturing is making M1 carbines. They even have two models with 16″ threaded barrels for flash hiders or muzzle brakes! I think 1/2×28 so .223 standard threads. They are pricey at $1,000. I’ve always really liked the little carbines. I still have ammo and mags for the IBM I once had.

        • Fulton Armory has very high quality M1 Carbines- I bought mine because I thought it would be better for home defense too.

        • Kudos to you for living somewhere you have the luxury of seeing the bad guys coming 200 yards away, seriously! Where I live, 200 yards is well into the house on the OTHER side of my neighbor’s house. I have a bunch of options available to me for home protection, but the one resting next to my bed is a Magpul-equipped 12ga Maverick 88 with a flashlight, and 6 rounds of 00 buckshot (one chambered, 5 in the tube). That would enable me to protect me & mine long enough to assess whether I needed to grab an MSR from the closet to prosecute additional defense, or wait for the 5-0 to show up and do their paperwork…

        • Tactical flexibility is about more than just defending your home. A good tactical carbine is far more flexible than the 12ga could ever dream of being. Sure, you could load different ammo, but every round of birdshot you have is one less round of 00buck or something more universally useful.

          With the same carbine I can engage targets between 0 and 450 meters with reliable hits and kills at those ranges. It has enough firepower to stop most bad guys and drop most game in North America. The best part is that for the ammo to weight ratio means I can carry 2-3 rounds of 5.56 for every shell you have on you.

        • There is nothing defensive about using any weapon for self defense at 200 yards, and you’d never be justified in that course of action if it actually happened. A shotgun is perfect for situations that will actually happen in real life.

        • Umm, you could use a rifled barrel and saboted slugs and reach out to 300 yards, easily. Besides, what sort of home defense situation involves you shooting a target at that range? That’s flatly irresponsible, unless you live in an abandoned aircraft assembly plant. Halloween must be fun at your place…

          MSR’s are useful, but not nearly as versatile as a shotgun. I can take every game animal in North America with a good selection of shot, whereas even whitetail is iffy from a .223. In personal defense, a single #1 shot is the equivalent of sixteen hits from a .32 revolver. That puts people down even if it doesn’t kill them. Also, the multiple hits are more effective than simple ballistics would indicate, in the same way a bomb blast causes a person to lose the control of their legs.

          Besides, versatility isn’t required. Home defense requires a gun that has exceptional stopping power, does not over penetrate, and has a high first-round hit probability. Shotguns tick off all three. You won’t have gun duels at 200 yards, you probably won’t empty your magazine, and there’s a more than even chance there will be a lone intruder. If I were going into combat, I would take it, but that’s with a giggle switch. I’ve never known a person who cleared a room semi-auto… EXCEPT WITH A SHOTGUN

        • If someone is shooting at you from 200+ yds away. Returning fire is indeed self defense. With a rural home in open terrain somebody angry at you might choose to snipe you. Yeah, I know, hide in the house and hope that the shooter doesn’t get lucky before law enforcement gets there. I too might choose to handle it that way (if I thought LEOs were coming), but that doesn’t mean that pwrserge or anyone else for that matter has to. Some people are offended by being shot at.

        • I notice that all the shotgun advocates constantly have the perfect barrel and ammo for whatever situation they find themselves in. If your psychic abilities are that developed, you can always use mind bullets.

          For those of us without magical future prediction powers, we need to pick a weapon that will handle any situation we find ourselves in without the need for a psychic vision telling us which ammo to pack and what barrel to mount.

          The beauty of the modern 5.56×45 carbine is that it does everything tolerably well. CQB? Single assailant? Double tap. Multiple assailants? You have a 30 round magazine for a reason. Need to put some meat on the table in an emergency? 5.56 is good enough. Need to take a longish range shot? Go for it.

          That’s the real bottom line.

        • If you could only have one gun, by all means, get an AR.

          Most of us don’t only have one gun, and so we pick guns best fitted for the corresponding duties. And there’s nothing that beats a shotgun loaded with buckshot for home defense.

        • I thought we were talking about home defense here? You seem to be talking about some infantry/rev war fantasy. In my opinion (and it is JUST an opinion), if you are expanding the subject from home defense to general SHTF survival, personally I think the 5.56 is under-powered. I want a firearm that will not only take out my “enemies”, but reliably put meat on the table. Something that I can use on any and all fur bearing creatures in N. America. For me, a .30 caliber rifle is minimum. Unless you want to chase your dinner all over the countryside, because the 5.56 hole you put in him is small and it is s-l-o-w-l-y bleeding out. And I know what you are going to say…’blah blah shot placement’. But this is the real world, not every shot is a perfect shot. As a side note; a 12 gauge slug, or 00 buck, does a fine job of harvesting dinner.

        • Oh, and “good enough” may be, well, good enough for you. But I’m not looking for “good enough”. “Good enough” may be good enough for the Government, who puts money over lives (you know, lowest bidder and all that). Good enough means they don’t have to spend money replacing firearms, or a new caliber ammunition, or retraining all the Army and Marine infantrymen. To me, “good enough” is barely acceptable. I want great. I want close to perfect. I don’t want a firearm chosen by the Air Force (no offense Airmen), especially an accountant/airman name Robert McNamara. Or chosen by politicians who don’t know the different between a Battle Rifle and an Assault Rifle. This former Marine Infantryman prefers a BATTLE RIFLE. And THAT’S the bottom line.

        • My hat’s off to anybody who can do the same with an 18″ home defense shotgun loaded with 00 buck.

        • We don’t hunt birds with 00 buckshot. A “home defense” shotgun, when being used for bird hunting, is loaded with the appropriate ammo.
          When being used for “home defense,” it’s not being used for bird hunting.
          And, reading the article, I see it being about “home defense,” not hunting.
          So, let’s drop the “you don’t use 00 for hunting birds” meme, please.

    • If I was only allowed one long gun it would definitely be a shotgun. But I like options. 😉 and one gun will never be the best gun for every situation. An AR is probably 3rd or 4th on my list in order of importance. A 12 ga and a 22lr are tied for first place. I don’t think I would be able to decide if I could only keep one.

    • Up close and personal, inside a home, at < 7 yards, a 12 gauge is MUCH more likely to deliver a charging handgun or knife wielding perp enough of a jolt to prevent him from killing you before bleeding out than any single, or even double, hit with a handgun or common rifle ammo.

      That's the shotgun's forte. A well trained rifleman or pistolero, may compensate by firing fast enough accurately to make up for it, but for most people, Miculek like rates of fire aren't likely to be all that acurate. Being able to deliver a 12 gauge kind of blow at close range, with minimal risk of causing much damage at beyond house ranges, is pretty much textbook ideal for home defense.

      But only if you know how to effectively use the gun, of course. Many sporting shooters spend at least as much time with a shotgun as with a handgun. I don't, as I no longer spend as much time as I'd like practicing with any gun, and hence limit myself mostly to handgun, as it's the one I'm most likely to have on me in the greatest number of potentially bad situations.

      But if I could run both equally well, I'd much prefer a shotgun by the bedside. It's not just about stopping a threat, but stopping it instantaneously enough that the handgun they have already pointed in your general direction can't be fired at you before being thrown off aim for long enough to end the fight.

  3. You dont need to spend 1200 bucks on a reliable shotgun when you can get a Chicom clone for 150 bucks that are built like tanks. Or spend another 50 on a Turkish job, or another 100 for a Mossberg if you are hell bent on USA made. The buckshot that comes from a cheapo pump gun hits just as hard as from a gimmicky plastic KelWRECK or made from rare earth metals FN or Benellli. Geesh.

      • But…. Clint Smith can run an old break open single barrel, faster than I could run your vaunted Kel-Tec with any accuracy…..

        Also, reasonable people debate the realistic utility of 14 9mm rounds for civilian defense, versus a single stack or snub nose. The whole zen of shotguns for defense, is to do more with fewer rounds. So while more ammo is pretty much always better than less, at some point things do start to get pretty far out the diminishing returns curve.

      • The KSG is not a bad choice for home use.my KSG configed with pop up iron sites that cowitness with the red dot. and a front grip that helps both aim and chambering. is very accurate and grts on target quick.two tubes also means two loads to choose from.

        • If you dont blow your left hand off racking the pump. Search “KSG fingers.” I will stick with a Norinco Ithaca clone.

        • u can either put a stop (magpul makes one) or a fore grip on there. the foregrip i use is a magpul moe and im able to fire it really fast and if im using shot just so long as 1 pellet hits the target i have 100% accuracy. (with slugs it is a lot harder if i fire really fast)

      • And I have a nice 20 round drum and 12 and 10 round mags for my S12.

        Having unloaded many a 20 round drum as fast as I could acquire and pull the trigger, I would argue that, for close range encounters, NOTHING is as lethal short of full auto shotguns.

        • Yeah, well, very few of us can afford a full auto shotgun, so we’ll have to stick with what we can actually use, instead of what we have to dream about.

  4. Golly gee I must take my Maverick88 7+1 back to the shop I just bought it from’cause TFB said so😧 I guess my neighborhood needs another AR that’ll go a mile(or more) if I miss the bad guy(and the homes are close to each other)…no wonder I pass on TFB. They need more politics and Iess BS. Sure I may get an AR. But I’ll get another handgun before I do. Duh…

    • From all the research Ive read, most all calibers will penetrate multiple walls easily. I wouldnt rely on “well im shooting a shotgun so I dont have to worry about the path of my bullet”. Obviously tough to consider this during the high stress encountered in a home invasion, but might be something to think about and practice now. If nothing else, firing in a direction that makes the bullet pass through the most walls before heading towards someone elses house is better than firing through bad guy and one exterior wall.

    • Use frangible 5.56 mm NATO rounds and there is no issue with worrying about neighbors. AR-15 is vastly superior in every aspect.

      • Sorry but frangible rounds blow through drywall too. I saw this video put out by a Canadian training group that showed frangible rounds penetrating a sheet of 16 gauge steel, an air gap and another sheet of 16 gauge steel.

        • I’m not a fan boy. I like the shotgun, but please explain how an AR15 is not superior to a shotgun in terms of firepower, accuracy, accessories, and ease of shooting (i.e. women, elderly, etc).

        • In terms of firepower, measure the amount of energy transmitted to the target with a single pull of the trigger.

          (You might say that rifle lets you pull the trigger more times. True, but usually not relevant in self-defense situations, because the amount of time you actually have is so small.)

        • When I write firepower, I’m talking capacity. You are talking ballistics, which is irrelevant as either a shotgun round or 5.56 mm NATO round is highly lethal and makes no difference. No one is getting up after getting hit center mass with either round. Now, enter 4 attackers in your home (a very possible situation). You still want your shotgun? BTW, you didn’t even address my other arguments. Try again.

        • > ballistics, which is irrelevant

          > ballistics, which is irrelevant

          > ballistics, which is irrelevant

          Sorry, I just can’t stop laughing when I re-read this.

          > ballistics, which is irrelevant

          Hilarious! Ahem. Anyway.

          > as either a shotgun round or 5.56 mm NATO round is highly lethal and makes no difference.

          It makes plenty of difference. If your 5.56 round doesn’t hit any vitals, it won’t be all that lethal. Of course, if a shotgun won’t hit any vitals, we have the same problem – but shotgun, packing that much more lead, and spreading it over a wider area and with diverging trajectories, increases the likelihood of hitting something substantially.

          Obviously, a shotgun wound, having much larger diameter and inner surface area, would also result in more rapid blood loss in general, which will result in faster incapacitation, as well.

          > No one is getting up after getting hit center mass with either round.

          Really? Cuz plenty of people did just that in Afghanistan. Heck, you can ask around right here for some anecdotes, I recall some vets had some to share.

        • Do you have a medical background or study to prove that ballistics are relevant in this regard? Ask a trauma surgeon about different calibers (handgun for example) and lethality. It makes no difference. Shot placement matters. Your idea of a shotgun round spreading is hilarious. We are talking about 10 yards and under. No spreading at these distances. You still haven’t addressed anything else btw. I will concede to your last sentence about people getting up. I still don’t think it is highly likely among a coward criminal however. And you can continue to laugh all you want as it is obvious you can’t debate worth a shit and have yet to invalidate any of my arguments.

        • >> Ask a trauma surgeon about different calibers (handgun for example) and lethality. It makes no difference.

          It makes no difference between common handgun calibers (i.e. 9mm / .40 S&W / .45 ACP). I am amazed that someone would take that valid tidbit, and generalize it to a range so diverse as to include 12ga shotguns and 5.56mm rifles, and not see the obvious flaw in that approach.

          > our idea of a shotgun round spreading is hilarious. We are talking about 10 yards and under. No spreading at these distances.

          Go to a range, shoot piece of paper at 10 yards, and measure the hole. You’ll find it quite a bit bigger than 18.5mm. So yes, spread does happen. The oft-repeated but wrong myth is that spread is measured in feet at this distance, and so it makes it easier to hit things with a shotgun. But I never said that.

          In fact, the spread that I was referring to was the spread of shot in the body, after it hits. This is similar to how rifle rounds that fragment, due to high velocity (like 5.56 does) producing larger wound channels. Well, shot from a shotgun is essentially a pre-fragmented rifle slug in that regard. Every piece travels on its own trajectory, distinct from others (because the density of flesh is different in different points, some hit bones etc).

          Here’s what this looks like (at 10 feet):
          https://youtu.be/w6cmGHz-4O4?t=44s

          Of course, even if shot didn’t spread at all (e.g. if you used a slug), it’s still at least as wide as the bore diameter, which is 18.5mm for 12ga – and is more than three times wider than 5.7mm bullet of your AR.

        • You still really haven’t refuted all my other arguments. BTW, I still stand that medically speaking there is not going to be a clinically significant difference when getting hit with a frangible 5.56 mm NATO round and buckshot at short distances. If you can prove this with a scientific paper then by all means enlighten me. Hell, 10 yards is not realistic to be honest. More like 3 – 5 yards. You haven’t even addressed my 4 attacker scenario. I haven’t even brought up other aspects like sights, weapon lights, suppressors, etc. which are of course “doable” on a shotgun, but way, way easier on an AR.

        • I haven’t addressed your “4 attackers” scenario because it is extremely implausible. But, in any case, a semi-auto magazine fed shotgun with 10-round mags, like Saiga or Akdal, should satisfy even that degree of paranoia.

          The video that I’ve linked above shows #4 buckshot at 10 feet. That’s still at the lower range of your revised 3-5 yard distance. Are you seriously insisting that there’s no difference between that, and a single 5.7mm bullet?

          You don’t really need a sight at this distance; but if you want one, there are plenty of shotguns with picatinny rails that will accommodate them. Ditto flashlights etc. My shotty is decked out with a LaserLyte scattering laser sight.

          Suppressors? A 5.56 rifle in a closed space with supersonic ammo will be louder with a suppressor than a 12ga shotgun will be without – just look at the pressures. And if you switch to subsonic, you might as well be shooting .22 LR (although based on your other theories about how “ballistics doesn’t matter”, that seems the logical conclusion anyway – I mean, it’ll make a hole, right?).

        • Clearly “Mark” has never seen even a different clear a stage in a Steel Challenge match with a semi-auto shotgun.

        • Oh stop with the worn out bullshit about trauma surgeons/MEs already. When they see a dude, dude is DEAD. It makes NO difference at that point. Such worn out crap.

        • Yes, I agree with you. It makes no difference. A 12 gauge and 5.56 mm NATO will both kill equally well.

        • Mark says:
          ” We are talking about 10 yards and under. No spreading at these distances.”

          Sorry, Mark, this is just not true.
          I pattern all of my shotguns. The one that shoots the tightest groups, a Mossberg 585 w/24″ bbl, patterns at about 6″ at 10 yards. My 500, with a 20″ bbl patterns at about 7″, the 590 A1 with 18 1/2″ bbl patterns about the same. All with either #4 or 00 buckshot.
          I don’t know what you have that patterns tighter with buckshot, but I’d be interested to hear.

          And your vaunted .223 can’t hold a patch to a 12 gauge if neither is perfectly aimed; put that .223 into a lung, and your target will still be up and able to react.Even a hollow point won’t guarantee a stop.
          Hit in the same place with a 12 gauge, and the energy transfer alone will put him down., not to mention the larger would channel.

          Now, don’t think I’m saying that the AR can’t be used for home defense; it certainly can. But that faster follow-on shot should definitely be used.
          Plus, with more than one assailant, especially at night (when most such activities occur), the 12 gauge’s noise and muzzle flash is far more intimidating than that from a .223. The other parties are usually astounded (I know; I’ve demonstrated this to people who know I’m going to shoot, and it still causes them to be startled, even knowing it’s coming), meaning any needed follow up shots are going to be unopposed.

          Yes, for smaller people, a 12 gauge can be hard to handle; that’s why God invented the 20 gauge.

          Then there’s the intimidation factor.
          When you’re looking down the business end of any gun, the muzzle looks a lot bigger than it is; a .22 looks line a 9mm. A 12 gauge looks like a 40mm cannon.
          A lot of those who think they are real tough guys aren’t intimidated by an AR/AK, but any shotgun gives them pause. Wield it aggressively, and that adds to the effect.

          I don’t have an AR, I have three rifles in 7.62x39mm (which, for close-in work is superior; I will readily agree that for over 150 yards, the AR is better), but I will still choose the shotgun for home defense. It is designed for close-in work, doesn’t penetrate as much as a rifle, the pattern is wide enough, and the kinetic energy is enough, to provide a true knock-down punch with pretty much anything closely approximating a center-mass hit.

          Again, I won’t fault anyone wanting to use an AR/AK; the key to any is practice, practice, practice.

        • Thanks Bill. I appreciate the well written response and it has me rethinking things. Do you ever worry about capacity?

        • Mark,
          You asked if I worry about capacity.

          No, not really. With 7 rounds in the mag tube (I keep it “cruiser ready,” mag loaded, chamber empty), I figure I can handle up to four intruders, and from what I read, that’s the max involved (unless you’ve really, really pissed someone off); it’s usually one or two. Again, according to the reports I read, they are armed with knives or handguns; those armed with long guns are an extreme rarity. Those who enter a home when someone’s home are either real “pros,” who are intent on a home invasion, meaning they will be ready, in which case I’m screwed, or amateurs, who are scared to begin with.

          (I read about these types of situations, because they interest me; I’m a little paranoid. So I think I have a fairly good idea of what’s happening in most such cases.)

          The home invasion scenario appears to be a targeted thing, with the perps looking for something of immediate value, usually drugs or jewelry. I have neither. This group of people choose their targets carefully, not going in cold. They know their target, know what they have. That’s why, when reading about home invasions, you will often find references to drugs, money, or jewelry, because they are of immediate value. It is my belief that at least some of the perps involved have military training, because they go in fast, guns ready, and aren’t afraid to shoot to make a point. They are usually in and out fast, meaning they know what average police response times are. These guys are not to be fooled around with.

          The amateurs, OTOH, are easily surprised, very scared, but unpredictable, so you need to be aggressive, and not afraid to fire if you think it’s necessary. If they are inside your home, a shooting will usually be considered justified (but check your local laws; some are not so shooter friendly).
          I digress; with either scenario, I believe even a five or six round load is good. In a home invasion, it won’t matter. With the amateur, one or two rounds is usually all it takes.

          Again, I will stress: practice. I also have military training, so stress doesn’t affect me as much as it might others. The point is, whatever you have is better than nothing by a country mile, the rest depends on you. Hope t hat helps a little.

  5. The shotgun isn’t perfect. No machine is. But as a home defense weapon it comes close. I actually caused a bad guy to unass our house by racking the action of my shotgun. I know, I know, all the internet experts will tell you that’s unpossible. I would have died in a hail of mp5 fire from the night vision equipped hit squad invading my home if I gave away my position.

    I’m still here. And I still rely on a shotgun as my go to home defense gun. The j frame in my pocket is my secondary weapon in case of a bad guy getting in my home.

    • Excellent commentary. We should also mention that the shotgun’s psychological intimidation factor far outshines other platforms … possibly even providing “psychological stops” without the need to fire a shot in many instances where an attacker might have decided to roll the dice against a defender armed only with a handgun.

      Having said all that, there are three significant drawbacks to most shotguns for home defense:
      (1) Full power 12 gauge loads are deafening.
      (2) Full power 12 gauge loads produce way too much recoil for many.
      (3) Shotguns lack precision to confidently place accurate shots on an attacker who is holding a hostage as a human shield.

      Fortunately, there is a solution that mitigates those three problems: a 20 gauge shotgun, with sights, loaded with 5/8 ounce (273 grain) slugs. Those will exit the muzzle around 1,580 feet per second which is over 1,500 foot-pounds of energy. Needless to say, that combination is devastating at home defense ranges and would even pack a fairly good punch at 100 yards. The result: muzzle blast and especially recoil should be significantly lower than full-power 12 gauge loads … and using sights and slugs provides the precision necessary if an attacker is holding a hostage as a human shield.

      Any guess what I have available for the entire family for home defense? You guessed it: a 20 gauge shotgun loaded with 5/8 ounce slugs. (Unfortunately, my shotgun does not yet have sights.)

      • : a 20 gauge shotgun, with sights, loaded with 5/8 ounce (273 grain) slugs. Those will exit the muzzle around 1,580 feet per second which is over 1,500 foot-pounds of energy. Needless to say, that combination is devastating at home defense ranges and would even pack a fairly good punch at 100 yards.

        Congratulations. You’ve turned your 20 gauge into, approximately, a smoothbore .45-70 rifle.

  6. A taxpayer would be hard pressed to find greater firepower in the 0-50 yards range than a good semi auto 12 gauge shooting 00 buck. Every shot sends the rough equivalent of 9 – .380 rounds. Mines a Mossberg 930 SPX with 7 + 1 with another +7 on the stock loaded with Federal 9 pellet 00 with a few 3″ slugs on the stock.

  7. AR-15 is great, but unless your walls are far thicker than mine those bullets will fly through several. My old Winchester 97 pump with #4 buck will hit hard and a slam fire follow up is just a quick pump away. That was always the most fun part of the the cowboy action stuff I use to do with that gun, the slam fire on the second steel target!

  8. The right ammo is essential. Slugs are too much and even buckshot is over the top. #4 is a good compromise that gives a nice spread with a IC choke at living room distances.

    Even 8 shot an be devastating on the upper body. These loads won’t perforate the house and hit your neighbors house with any force.

    Forget the rack noise Bullshit. A semi like a Benelli or beretta is a proper choice for reliability although any well maintained scatter gun will do.

    The recoil from field loads is lighter too making it a better choice for smaller framed adults and even one hand operation

    • Birdshot is a bad choice. Anything that will not penetrate 2 layers of gypsum will not penetrate the vital organs of a badguy. #4 buck is the minimum I would consider to be effective. (And a good choice if shoot-through is your number one concern)

      If your family has a recoil-sensitive member, there’s plenty of 12ga low recoil buck loads out there. There’s also the 20ga, which is just as effective at home defense ranges as the 12.

      • Yea, go ahead and tell that to the guy who tried invading someone’s home here in town recently.

        His career in home invasion was cut short by a load of birdshot that punched his ticket, center-mass.

        My fellow EMT’s who attended on that call said the called the ER and told them what a mess it was – the ER MD said “keep thumping until you bring him in.”

        So they did.

        The Doc took one look after the gentleman arrived on the ER table, and said “Yep, that’s it” and pronounced.

        This idea that birdshot won’t penetrate is based upon shots taken from longer than home defense ranges. At about six feet, all the shot was still in the shot cup/wad, and it penetrated far enough to turn the invader’s chest into pate’.

        • Birdshot doesn’t have “FBI penetration”. So it may not penetrate enough from odd angles etc.

          If you’re shooting someone point blank in the chest, with them facing you head on, it’s pretty much the best case for penetration, so birdshot will do.

  9. Shotgun or AR-15? It depends on whether I’m defending my home or storming Fallujah.

    For home defense, I’ll take a 12 gauge shotgun; pump action if you please. For storming Fallujah, I’ll take something full auto and you can keep your small caliber semi-auto in the safe where it belongs.

    An AR-15 has a lot of uses. Home defense isn’t one of them. Neither is storming Fallujah.

        • As the father of a platoon sgt. who has done many combat tours, he says they rarely go full auto with their M4s, They have M2s and 240Bs for that.

  10. I consider a plain old pump shotgun is a peefectly good choice as an inexpensive and effective means of home defense. Enough power to handle a typical home invasion scenario (not some feverishly ginned up nightmare), with the right gauge/loads and some training/familiarization most anyone can use it effectively, with a barrel switch you can use it for a variety of sporting purposes, and they’re legal everywhere.

    However, this TFB article is just one of several recent articles meant to poke the readership to generate clicks rather than thoughtful discussion (e.g., leverguns), so I’m not paying much attention to it.

  11. I don’t know what the fixation is on 00 Buck.

    Sure if you need to put someone down at 30 yards, that’s the trick.

    How many home defense shootings are at more than 10 yards? Unless you live on a ranch (in which case ye olde MSR is even more clearly the better choice) and don’t have to worry at all about where the pellets go, You’re probably better served with #1 or even #4 buck.

  12. Average home defense shootings are at room distances. Point blank to 21 feet.
    A 12g with even bird shot, can end a threat almost instantly. Even if it’s not center mass.

    So I’ll just keep my old Remington 870 Marine Magnum with Winchester Low Recoil
    00 Buck thank you.

    Should the incident get to Zombie Apocalypse levels, it will greatly assist in getting me to my AR/AK’s and it goes from there.

    But a 12 or even 20 gauge “scattergun” is a fantastic home defense platform. And always will be.

    Just because TFB disagrees, sigh…..there’s one in every crowd.

  13. The AR or any rifle is the worst weapon for home defense unless you live in the country. The risk of collateral damage is way too high. A pistol round traveling at 1100 fps is going to penetrate drywall but it will still be much less lethal than a 3000fps round while doing it. A shotgun, especially when using #4 or pistol beats a rifle any day of the week. Pumping out 5 rounds of turkey shot in quick succession will stop your home invader crew pretty darn quick.

    • Bull shit. Bird shot is for birds. 00 buck is the smallest shot you should consider using against humans. Why? Because we’re big and mean fuckers that take a lot of killing.

      Please quit perpetuating the “rifles are magic lasers that can go though multiple houses and kill everyone” bullshit. A rifle round that hits drywall at high velocity destabilizes and starts tumbling. After an interior and an exterior wall, it will have lost almost all of its energy. It’s one of the many reasons why m855a1 is a thing.

      • I think pwrserge’s poiny is that m855 was developed because m293 did the tumbly thing after hitting a moist paper towel.

        I could be wrong though.

        • The walls in that house are awfully close together. Destabilization takes both barriers and flight time. Putting a bunch of drywall in close contact is proof of nothing other than drywall makes crappy armor.

      • Bullshit. Any buckshot down to and including #4 buck penetrates sufficiently deep at indoor ranges to kill any human hit center mass with it.

    • You could load the AR with home/QCB appropriate ammo. At home, my suppressed SBR is loaded with very expanding subsonic loads. With such a gun you can still listen for movement after firing it. It will still penetrate several standard walls if you don’t hit anything else though, but there is ammo that won’t.

    • Pistol rounds are way heavier, and drywall isn’t Kevlar. Even a hollow-point will blow right through interior walls with enough velocity to hurt badly, if not kill.

      Really, home design is what comes in handy here. My house has the bedrooms in a cluster, with a hallway leading in. Any rounds fire out in the hallway would hit my exterior walls, my chimney, or my foundation.

  14. I would skip the semi-auto for a pump…much easier and quicker to clear a misfeed. Yeah, I know someone is going to bring up short stroking….my answer to this is simple….weapons familiarity. Practicing with your home defense weapon of choice is essential, even if it is a 12 ga. It’s not just about hitting the target, but getting your muscle memory up so that you can bring said weapon into play efficiently at 2 am under stress, no matter if it’s a KSG, a AR, or gramps 1911. Personally, I say no warning pumps or noises….I will keep the element of surprise,thank you.

    • If you’ve hunted with a pump, short stroking shouldn’t be a problem. A bit of rearward pressure on your support hand, and the recoil will do the job without any thought. But yes, practice is the key.

  15. Of course the best home defense weapon is the one have accessible and in hand, other than my dog, of course.

    Home defense is relative. Inside the home might call for a scattergun, but is there a call for a longer range weapon to defend from attackers? I believe so, especially as the size of your property increases. As a quote (often attributed to Clint Smith) says, a pistol is what you use to fight your way back to the rifle you should have never set down.

  16. If you were to discharge a AR15 in your bedroom, you and everyone else would be deaf for the rest of your life. Shotguns are relatively heavy, doesn’t hold near as much ammo, but unless you stage good electronic ear pro. with your plate carrier, you will be disoriented by your own actions.

    • “If you were to discharge a AR15 in your bedroom, you and everyone else would be deaf for the rest of your life.”

      Bull.
      Hearing loss is a real concern, but immediate and permanent deafness from a single gunshot isn’t going to happen.

      • I beg to differ. Even a 9mm shot in an enclosed space is going to make your ears ring hard for several hours. And you will indeed have suffered some permanent damage, however slight. Now extrapolate to the greatly increased muzzle blast of a 12 ga or a center fire rifle round.

        As for being disoriented by your own shotgun blast, the adrenaline dump caused by the encounter will, probably keep that from happening. I’ve never heard or read anecdotal evidence of that happening, but there is plenty about the extreme focus and almost super human feats associated with an adrenaline dump.

      • Curtis in IL, I’ve shot centerfire rifles indoors, with earplugs and muffs it was still loud enough to hurt head ringing and chest hurt. So it will require more than a dismissive”Bull” to alter my opinion.

    • The discussion, AR vs shotgun for home defense, presents a home defense false dichotomy. “Neither” is a sensible answer. If a person lacks confidence in their pistol/revolver skills, fine. Buy a pistol caliber carbine. And in any case, put a suppressor on the weapon you chose. You did get the news? Even the Marines are going suppressed….

      Below I’ll paste a few decibel levels for relevant firearms with fairly standard civilian loadings (and credit to K&BA):

      http://www.keepandbeararms.com/information/XcIBViewItem.asp?id=2052

      Table 2. SHOTGUN NOISE DATA (DECIBEL AVERAGES)
      12 Gauge 18 ” barrel 161.50dB

      CENTERFIRE RIFLE DATA
      .223, 55GR. Commercial load 18 ” barrel 155.5dB
      .30-06 in 18 ” barrel 163.2dB

      CENTERFIRE PISTOL DATA
      9mm 159.8 dB
      .38 Spl 156.3 dB
      .357 Magnum 164.3 dB
      .45 ACP 157.0 dB

      Most people find 135 decibels painful. OSHA says even very brief exposure to 140 decibels without ear pro causes injury. The only shotgun suppressor, the Silencerco Salvo 12, and in its 12 inch version, not the 6 inch one, only reduces blast at the muzzle by approx. 21 decibels, which leaves you at or just under instant damage level indoors.

      You can’t go subsonic with a .223/5.56 AR, in practical terms, so the sonic boom is unavoidable. A decent suppressor on a 16 inch AR will take the decibels down to 136, or to 129 (approx) if fired wet. The results for shorter barrels? Much louder.

      A .45ACP pistol or carbine is still well over damage level unsuppressed, but suppresses well. A 9mm pistol suppresses even better. 9mm carbines test a bit louder. The 45 can easily be taken down to 130, fired wet to 124 or so. The 9mm? Even quieter.

      I confess to owning an 18″ three-gun-oriented AR and a Benelli M4. I very much enjoy both of them. But I won’t be firing them indoors as a first option. I carry small Glock .45 ACPs. Indoors at home I’ve come to rely on a suppressed .45 or 9mm. I have a so-so PCC, but haven’t got the barrel threaded yet. Soon.

      I left the .30-06 decibel level up because I realize Ralph considers any nice thought about an AR to be a betrayal of the M1 Garand….

      • Ropingdown,

        Thank you for the sound pressure level and hearing damage data. As I mentioned in one of my comments above, the blast of a 12 gauge shotgun indoors is quite literally deafening, at least in the short term.

        I agree that semi-auto carbines in pistol calibers are probably the best overall possible platform for home defense — especially if you have a suppressor. Such a platform provides maneuverability, accuracy, quiet operation (if suppressed and using subsonic ammunition), minimal recoil, plenty of capacity (magazines are available for many pistol calibers with at least 20 rounds and sometimes over 30 rounds), and somewhat minimal over-penetration potential. (While heavy pistol bullets can easily penetrate home walls, their relatively slow velocity should have them dropping to the Earth in a fairly short range after exiting your home’s exterior wall.)

        The only real down side to pistol caliber carbines is that they are pistol caliber which are well known to lack “stopping power”. The best way to compensate, especially if you are purposely limiting yourself to subsonic rounds to minimize blast, is to use the largest caliber possible (cough, cough, .45 ACP, cough) and put as many rounds on target as quickly as possible … which should be fairly easy with the minimal recoil of pistol caliber rounds coming out of 4 pound carbines.

        • Every pistol I owned, five guns, was .45ACP until recently, save my SW Model 41. I have lately, I confess, come under the influence of “good triggers” and the double tap. I think my 3 gun AR trigger did it to me. It’s as slick as my best 1911. Most of my friends who’ve tried it fire two shots at first….the intended shot and then the nervous twitch alone sends the second. Very fast reset. Three shots is a breeze in the same 3 inches square with either the comp/brake or the suppressor. I’m a believer in slapping the trigger in defense. Then hold it all the way back or immediately get the trigger finger far away from the trigger. It works for me. I think I developed that from leaving my gun on auto in RVN (an M16A1, 1970-71) in times of dread, knowing I could fire two or 18, my choice. God, I’ve got some weird technique. My shotgun technique on a skeet range, though, is pure.

          Skeet was 95% of my shooting ages 30-45 or so, so I’m probably an shotgun guy for life, at heart.

          So I’ve come to accept that two shots are almost as easy to put on target as one from a correctly set up gun. I was a .45ACP fanatic. Now, though, I accept 9mm as equally useful IF SUPPRESSED, because 147 gr suppresses very well, Better than .45, to my ears, and I’m fond of light triggers.

          I should confess that I live in a very safe neighborhood. Nobody ever gets shot here. The last resident to murder any one left the township to murder her lesbian ex-wife a county away. It was a fight over custody of their adopted child. We homeowners shoot at burglars if we hear them breaking in. They tell their friends and back to the city. The cops come fast, in swarms. Two cars always come if you call, and fast. If a gun shot is heard? 9 cars in no time. But still, twice in thirty years I’ve needed a gun to stop a small gang of perps from approaching the house. A skeet gun both times. Such is life. (There was a third time, again with a skeet gun, before I moved up from Virginia, Oakton.)

  17. All the above is fine, and sensible ( mostly). But, where did you get the photo of that utterly embarrassing bullpup shotgun? Snakeskin? Pink? You wouldn’t need to pull the trigger, Your assailants would be incapacitated by laughter!

  18. Another advantage a shotgun is that with a wood stock it is less “scary”. In states or nations with sensible laws it isn’t as big an issue, but in many places, having a less scary firearm will help you in a self-defense case. A shotgun that looks like granpa’s old duck gun can make a jury think differently than an SBR with a red-dot and flashlight and large terrifying magazine dangling from it.

    Unfortunately for many of us (not just in Canada, but in many US states), the way a jury or prosecutor will react to the look of a firearm is a serious concern. Now if Ithaca would only get a distributor up here.

  19. Ok. We need to stop this “rifles will go through walls” BS. It’s not an argument. Every firearm capable of reliably killing a human being will go through multiple layers of drywall.

    The real crux of the matter is that shotguns are rate of fire and rounds limited. Your ability to make followup shots sucks and you have fewer rounds with which to take those shots.

    But hey, I bet the next article will be “In Defense of the Home Defense Arquebus”. Face it guys, the scattergun is functionally obsolete. Soon enough it will take its place next to the wheel-lock cavalry pistol in the halls of “cool while it was relevant”.

    • The wall thing is bs…00 buckshot goes through walls too

      The ar does have a capacity advantage, but how many defensive gun uses require 3 mag changes and 120 rounds to stop 1 or 2 guys from less than 20 yards? I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who’s THAT bad of a shot.

      I’ll concede there might be 3 or or maby even 4 bad guys, but the third mountain division is not marching on your house.

  20. TFB is also a joke of a firearms resource. They also recently trashed lever actions and hailed the 98 Mauser as a superior home defense weapon “because it can be shot in the prone.” I used to read them and immediately quit after that sentence. Haven’t clicked their BS since.

    • Might have wanted to keep reading. The Mauser is a superior MILITARY weapon because it can be fired prone without breaking your sight picture. That was the crux of the argument.

  21. The walls in my house will not be stopping a single thing until whatever I shoot hits the brick exterior of it, so I’m not honestly worried about penetration.. Because it’s either going to happen or it isnt, and I just have to leave it in fate’s hands to not get me in trouble.

    Thankfully, the people I care for literally live all on one side of the house at night, which requires one to go down a long and narrow hallway, which I am at the end of. A shotgunner’s dream, so to speak.

  22. What else is premature is the constant echo of double-ought double-ought double-ought buck as the only viable ammo a shotgun should shoot for defense. Hello, Earth to stupid? There’s #1 buck, which holds more shot for more wound channels and there’s #4 buck, which is safer and less lethal if it goes through a wall or furniture so you have less liklihood to kill someone you live with.

    • I do not consider 00 Buck to be the only self defense load, it is just the only one I buy, unless the store is out of it. (I did buy a box of ten 2 3/4 slugs, but those are purely recreational).

      • And because it’s the only buckshot ammo you buy and the manufacturers of the ammo see that, so they decide to just make 00 buck and then no one can find #1 or #4 Buck, so they buy 00 and the process repeats.

        I’m not saying #1 is the only defense ammo for a shotgun, I’m just saying that there’s a section of idiots who think 00 is the only buckshot to be used, you know, the same crowd that says if your carry pistol isn’t a .45, it may as well be a .22

        • I thought #1 buckshot was all the rage, and the cool guys sneer at 00, or …000. They argue that the standard #1 round is 16 pellets, while the standard 00 load is 9 pellets. It is all absurd: The equal weight equivalent is 16 pellets #1 versus 12 pellets of 00. They favor “more wound channels.” I favor bigger holes in the aorta or lung. I don’t need more than eleven or twelve copper-plated buckshot in a perp’s chest or throat or groin. So I should go for certain penetration and larger holes.

          I don’t think most well-known gun writers/teachers have much experience shooting people, and being shot at, So much advice they’ve thought through, but so little weight given to what actually matters when you’re face to face. God, it breeds so much BS spoken/written with utter certainty. Well, there you have it. Laugh.

        • Actually, I would buy #1 buck, if I could find it. There are a few around but not enough to depend on. 00 is the standard, like it, or not. #4 buck would do the trick as well. I only buy short brass shells. 12 gauge recoil is not an issue. I bought the 10 rifled slugs in the unlikely event I might need them for longer range. It is an absolute truth, manufacturers make more of what consumers buy most. Buying the one box of #1 buck, then buying three boxes of 00 buck to keep my supply up would be like buying a bucket of KFC then a diet coke to wash it down with.

  23. If you want the ideal home defense firearm, tool up with an AR-15 w/ a 10″ barrel and suppressor, chambered in .300BLK (subsonic). That’s 30 rounds of ear-safe woop-ass right there.

    Sadly, the cost of such a contraption, and federal and state laws, can make this approach a non-starter for many.

    Since you asked for my opinion, I say go with whatever tool(s) you’re most comfortable with. Steak your life on something you can shoot without having to think about it. Maybe that’s a Glock or maybe that’s a Henry lever gun. Whatever.

    Since my wife and I both shoot trap regularly, a shotgun is a logical choice for us. Your mileage may vary.

  24. With a shotgun, I can shoot winged or four legged creatures for food, and also two legged creatures for defense. AR15, not so much. Positively, the shotgun is the most versatile tool. Now you might say that the shotgun is a generalist, it does everything, but some of them not superb. But a specific application, like shooting a moose at 800 yards, is not really the point of a shotgun is it? If you gave me *one* gun, I’d hope for a 12 gauge. If you gave me a budget and a gun safe, I’d buy others (but I’d still get a trusty 12 gauge).

    Some styles of shotguns are a fad, but the shotgun itself will absolutely never go out of style.

  25. This nonsense about shotguns not working for home defense is more gun blog twaddle, right up there with “you need to get training from operators so you can operate operationally in your operational home environment,” and “no one should use a revolver any more because you’re limited to six rounds…”

    We had a home invasion here in town recently. The invader forced his way into a home at about 0230, Alcohol was apparently involved.

    Long story short: His career in home invasion was cut short by a load of birdshot that punched his ticket, center-mass, from a sporting shotgun (ie, not “tactical,” ie hunting/clays type shotgun, ie a long damn way from an “operational” gun).

    My fellow EMT’s who attended on that call said they called the ER and told the MD on duty what a mess the intruder was (after they had cut open his clothing) and the ER MD said “keep working on him until you bring him in.”

    So they did. The EMT’s looking at the wreckage that was the invader’s chest thought this was an utterly futile gesture, but hey, when the Doc says bring him in, you bring him in. BTW, the medic got into EMS by being a combat medic in the US Army. This wasn’t his first GSW.

    The intruder gets taken to the ER, emergent, the medic/EMT duo wheel him in, the Doc takes one look at the intruder, with a horrific mess at center-mass, and said “Yep, that’s it” and pronounced. No work, no diagnostics, no “ah, I see you have the machine that goes ‘ping!’ ” – no nothing. Just “yep, that’s it.”

    This idea that birdshot won’t penetrate is based upon shots taken from longer than home defense ranges. In this case, at about six feet, all the shot was still in the shot cup/wad, and the composite mass penetrated far enough to turn the invader’s chest into pate’. The intruder then stopped doing what he was previously doing rather quickly, which is the whole point of armed response to a home invasion, right?

    That is what we’re talking about here, right? Making home invaders or criminals stop what they’re doing, right? I had thought the object of this exercise isn’t to jump into your 5.11 ninja underwear, strap on your web gear, don a Punisher ballcap in FDE color scheme (that matches your web gear and operational underwear) and then get really operator-as-f*&& with a set of Oakley shades while you’re grabbing your tricked-out-as-f*&& AR, complete with holo sight, operational flashlight, upper and lower receiver forged from 7075 mil-spec aluminum, nickel-boron bolt carrier group, ultra-match stainless steel barrel with a totally operational muzzle brake to reduce recoil for faster follow-up shots, Geissele match trigger and loaded with certified-operator M262 ammo, and only then proceed to operate operationally into your living room, right?

    The object of this exercise is still to stop the intruder, right?

    Or did I miss a memo somewhere?

    If that’s what we’re still talking about, I submit from recent evidence that a sporting shotgun loaded with bird shot works juuuuuust fine. The home intruder might agree, but now he’s worm chow and unable to opine. My buddies who had to clean out the mess in the back of their bus would probably agree it worked perfectly well too.

    • That story right there is why I am so glad in my Region if EMS Deems an Injury Incompatible with Life, that’s all folks, call the coroner.

    • The question remains: Why you don’t write for this blog. I suspect your posts make too much sense.

      And, actually, on the 5.11 tactical underwear: I prefer the 5.11 tactical kilt myself. I like to flash em before I flash em, if you know what I mean.

      • “The question remains: Why you (Dyspeptic) don’t write for this blog…”

        Dyspeptic *does* write for TTAG.

        On *his* terms. Most of the time comments like that one.

        And we’re damn grateful for his wisdom when he has the time or feels the need to comment here…

    • So much this. The #1 rule of a gun fight: bring a gun, and ammo for it. Hell, facing down a drunken home invader in the middle of the night, I’d be happy with a cap-n-ball revolver or musket if the only other alternative was mean looks and harsh language.

      • MG, that’s pretty much how the encounter started, according to accounts.

        Intruder breaks in, husband investigates (sans gun), loud yelling commences.

        Wife comes out, more yelling ensues.

        After the yelling and gestures of “GTFO!” were deemed ineffective, wife ushers kids into back bedroom, returns with shotgun, hands shotgun to husband, and tells husband to deal with it.

        And that was all, folks.

    • That’s a great story there, D.G. But according to the experts above, the shooter, his wife and children are all deaf now. Sucks to be them, I guess.

    • Let’s be honest, few of us are talking about a $4000 tricked out SBR where we’re talking about home defense guns.

      Will a “sporting” over-under loaded with #8 birdshot do the job? Yeah, at that range, there is very little difference between that and a low weight pre-fragmented slug.

      The 5.56 rifle gives us a few advantages that the FUDD GUN doesn’t.
      1. We have the ammo so that we’re not rolling the dice on hitting our target with our first (of two) shot in a chaotic low-light situation in the middle of the night.
      2. We have far lower recoil so that if our first shot misses or the scumbag brought his friends, we’re not trying to wrestle the gun around.
      3. We have the ability to defeat light barriers in case the scumbag in question (or his buddies) forget the difference between cover and concealment.

      All of these advantages can be had in a $600 bargain basement M4gery.

      • Yes, it does.

        And all of that is immaterial if you cannot afford it.

        As others have pointed out, a pump shotgun can be had at a very reasonable price, and a box of shotgun shells costs, what, $7 to $8?

        For $300 at the local pawn or gun store, I can outfit someone with something that’s going to work at “stopping” someone. I’m sure gun store ninjas will be ranting that it’s obsolete and there are “better” solutions. Yea, that’s nice. But the truth is that shotguns do work.

        This gun blog nonsense about birdshot is just that – nonsense. It’s the sort of twaddle promulgated by people who haven’t actually done much time behind a shotgun.

        Here’s an exercise for people who want to understand shotguns and bird shot: Go trap shooting. Or rather, go to a trap range and look very carefully at the rounds as they are going downrange, and then look at the range when it is cold.

        One thing you notice pretty quickly about shotguns and bird shot is that the shot cup/buffer of modern loads tends to stay pretty well on the shot until about 8 to 10 yards downrange – ie, at actual home defense ranges, inside a room or a hallway, your birdshot is likely (depending on the wad/buffer design) to be in the shot cup/wad all the way to the target. If you walk around a trap range when it is cold, you notice patterns – especially the one where you find a large amount of the shot cups/wads just in front of the trap house, ie, about 17 to 18 yards from the non-handicap line on the trap range. If one were to look carefully at the shots at a trap range, one starts to observe that shot dispersion patterns aren’t just radial – the shot strings out lengthwise into a “column” as well. But for the short range distances (under 8 yards, most certainly), even with a cylinder choke, modern shotgun trap rounds hold the shot together quite well.

        I once shot a ground squirrel with a 12ga loaded with 7 1/2 shot – a trap round. I was, oh, about 12 feet away. The shot column, still in the wad/cup, went through him and left him with a 3/4″ hole through him as clean as if I’d put him into an ironworker and die-punched him. That result left an impression upon my thinking of how useful bird shot rounds are in self-defense. Is bird shot ideal? No, obviously not. Is a trap load (eg, 7/8oz to 1 1/8 oz of 7 1/2 shot at 1200 fps) useful? At home room-sized distances (up to 20′), will a trap load work? I firmly believe so, yes.

        When that sort of concentration is put into a human body, you get the result we had here recently: A center-mass hit where the center of the chest is turned into pate’. There’s nothing a surgeon can do to repair it.

        • Do we want to have the cost per round conversation of 5.56 vs 12ga?

          But now we’re talking about minutia… Hey, if you really can’t afford it, I can outfit you with a pipe gun from the hardware store for about $20. It will have about the same effect as your FUDD special.

        • Yes… Because wanting a gun that’s been designed in the last half century totally makes you an “operator”…

          The point is that a HD shotgun is hardly an optimal tool. There are similarly priced (sub $1k) alternatives that do the job far better and give you an all around better gun.

          Oh, and I did my share of shack clearing with an M16A4. While, just like the M16, a shotgun may be “adequate”, why settle for an “adequate” weapon when you can have one better designed for the job in the same price range? I’ve put together rifle packages for my friends for sub $800 that have a reliable AR mated with a good light and a red dot. Cost should rarely be your primary deciding factor when determining what tool you use to defend your home and family.

  26. ARs grew in popularity as a home defense weapon as “M4” style configurations, “home invasions”, and perps in body armor all became more common. Are they marginally handier than a short barreled shotgun, probably.

    Both of them are going to work if you do your part, both will penetrate interior walls and both will leave you hearing impaired when fired in your living room absent a can on the AR.

    Beyond that, it’s going to be what you’re comfortable shooting. I can’t think of anyone who can’t handle the recoil on a AR so long as the shooter is big enough to pick it up. There are those; however, who will not tolerate shotgun recoil even with training and reduced loads.

  27. It is hard to argue against the effectiveness of buckshot. While many ranges permit up to .308 rifle rounds, I think most people who live in cities will be challenged to find a place to practice shooting a defensive shotgun.

  28. For the average person, a shotgun is not only good enough, it might be the best option.

    Pistols are the most handy option, but they require a decent bit of practice to use well, and I suspect that most people who only have a pistol have not put more than a handful of rounds through their gun. While, theoretically a shotgun requires a good bit of training too, long guns in general are far more forgiving and at CQB distances, flinching has a less dramatic influence of POI vs POA.

    I’d say a carbine becomes the best option only if the user is willing to spend some time (and ammo) on weapon’s manipulation drills and shooting. Then the carbine’s advantages of capacity, shot placement, and barrier penetration become hard to ignore.

    • I wasn’t quite fast enough in instructing a young man I’d just met whilst out pheasant/hun hunting about how damaging a shotgun is at close range.

      He had winged a pheasant, we hiked him to the downed bird, and he put a round of #6 through the bird, center-mass, from about 8′.

      All that was left was the skin, feathers, head and tail plumage. Breast meat, guts, the works – gone.

      • I know better. And I still made the choice to finish a wounded cottontail off close with the 12. Head was taken off as neat as with an ax. Had I been a little further back I would have ruined that rabbit.

        We all screw up.

    • I have a .45, I have a .223, I have a .308 and the only weapon I have that scares me is my 12 gauge. Because it does so much damage. My first reach for home defense is my shotty.

  29. It’s an opinion piece, so it really doesn’t amount to much more than a (recycled) clickbait article. The long and short of it is, shotguns aren’t fix-anything tools any more than an AR is, and everyone should weigh their needs and work from that basis, not what some goof on a forum or behind a gun counter thinks they should do.

  30. It wasn’t that long ago that a certain RF was also touting the death of the shotgun.

    Newsflash: The shotgun will be around long after everyone on this site is dead and buried. Why? Because it flat works.

    • And because they’re so doggone versatile. You can launch all manner of stuff out of a shotgun:

      – slugs,
      – copper hyper-expansive slugs,
      – buck,
      – birdshot
      – sintered breaching rounds
      – cut-shot rounds
      – specialty rounds for causing fires and general mayhem

      They’re the only firearm that can do everything from take down large game to clay pigeons in the same gun. A shotgun might not do any of those jobs as well as, or better than, a specialized gun, but a shotgun will do the job.

      • In a true survival situation, not just some hollywood fantasy end of the world scenario, I would rather have a single shot 12 or 20 ga over any AR or AK type rifle.

      • I love my pair of skeet guns. I love my Benelli M4.
        But, not indoors. Unless really pushed by an oversized detectable threat, of course.

        I have to laugh. Three times in adult life I’ve stopped perps from continuing, twice holding them for arrest, with an O/U skeet gun. Now I have more items, and pistols, and……well, nothing happens. I figure that on “the other side of town” they heard about the last two skeet gun appearances, and put me on a not-worth-it list.

        Now I’m into suppressors because I’m 65 in three weeks, my ears aren’t so great, but I do enjoy sport shooting. And so the new items and biases.

  31. I have not the education, nor the life experience, to back up this claim, but the Firearms Blog is straight mall ninja B.S.
    As far as the subject of this article, many have already said it already; you can get a Chinese 870 clone for $150. And Maverick 88 for roughly $200 (that only for the 24″ barrel? It’s called a hack saw, and can be had for $10). Want american made? Mossberg 500 for $350. Compare this to price to bottom of the barrel ARs at $500.
    Mall Ninjas really need to be more aware that not everyone can afford their tacticool, $1000 ARs with various $500 sights, $300 lasers, and $3.50 a pop ammo.

  32. I think writing off or sticking to any option is, as serge would say, “pants on head retarded”.

    Every type of weapon has it’s niche. Within that niche it has very powerful advantages. Outside of that niche it has disadvantages.

    What you choose will depend on your preferred course of action for home defense and the situation as it actually unfolds. Every plan works great right up until it doesn’t and the BG’s are not likely going to actively try to help you blast their asses into the next life or capture them so they can go to prison.

    While I understand some of the shit the shotgun takes, because that pattern really isn’t that large inside a house, it’s also true that if you can’t hit someone with the shotgun the AR is a paperweight that’s likely more dangerous to any neighbors you might have than to the BGs and if you can hit someone with the AR the shotgun will put rounds on target in a devastating fashion. Consider #4 buck. 27 pellets, each .24″ in diameter at around ~1300fps. Even half that pattern will ruin your day.

    This is what 7 and 1/2 bird does at close range: [Graphic, NSFW, NSFP, NSFWS]

    https://ryanjarcy.wordpress.com/full-leg-blast-grisly/

    https://ryanjarcy.wordpress.com/grisly-2/

    And this is what you look like after the docs patch you up:

    https://ryanjarcy.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/photo88.jpg

    Shotguns certainly have their place alongside pistols and rifles. You just have to know what it is and use the weapon appropriately.

    • Very valid. In my case I lean towards the shotgun because of A) A lifetime of experience in all weather and terrain has convinced me that the shotgun is the best multi purpose weapon available.

      B) My military experience with the AR family is over 4 decades in the past. Granted there have been changes in the intervening years but I can’t get past the experience of a weapon that simply did not work reliably and was a time consuming maintenance hog. Without exception all my buddies and myself hated that weapon and went to extremes to get back up weapons for the failure moments.

      C) I live in CA. We have mag limits and bullet buttons among other goodies. The tube fed shotgun, whether pump or semi, has an unlimited mag capacity with just a little practice.

      D) I hunt. The majority of my hunting is with the shotgun. I can grab my shotgun out of a sound sleep and hit the floor, ready.

      • Nothing wrong with any of that. I certainly wouldn’t want to rely on a firearm that I had doubts about. You don’t need that thought in the back of your mind distracting you at 0300 when Hannibal ad portas est.

        Personally my shotgun is a secondary. My primary is a suppressed .45 with a TLR-2 on it. While the laser is superfluous the 200 lumen light on board is blinding to people at night and the muffler makes sure that if I do have to fire I don’t effectively flashbang myself in a narrow hallway. The short length makes it ideal for some of the tighter corners and spaces in my house where even an SBR/SBS is a bit too long and adding a 5.56 muffler makes the corners almost impossible when you’re by yourself.

        • If I lived where cans were legal I would look at a 9mm, probably a Glock, as my house gun. Putting a can on a legal length shotgun would probably stretch the upper limits of handiness in the confines of my home.

        • Me, too, my handgun is my primary house/nightstand gun and I keep the can on at home. My rounds aren’t subsonic though. My bullets are too small for that and they don’t go through very many walls sideways.

        • @jwm:

          Yeah, a lot of the good shotty suppressors are 10″-12″ in length which puts you at 28″-30″ of barrel+muffler if you have a non SBS shotgun and a minimum of 44″ (3.667′) OAL. I assume an SBS is illegal in California?

          If you ever get the opportunity I wouldn’t go with a 9mm. I’d go with a .45 for a suppressed handgun. Most .45 is naturally subsonic which is nice because subsonic 9mm is going to be pricier than your standard high-end JHP rounds in most cases. I find that my USP with a SilencerCo Osprey on it is fan-fucking-tastic. Recoil and muzzle flip are reduced by 75%+ (they weren’t bad to begin with), accuracy increased and, with water in the can, for the first 5-7 shots the loudest sound is the action racking back and forth. Doesn’t take much water either. A syringe filled with 10cc of water can be injected into the can in a few seconds and will give you at least 5 fully suppressed shots. Failing that it’s only about as loud as dropping an encyclopedia on a table, flat side down, from like 3′ when the can is dry. It’s a satisfying *whump* type of noise.

          The other consideration is the gun itself. Don’t try to suppress a compact pistol. I know it looks badass but especially with Glocks it will turn the gun into a single shot weapon you have to cycle by hand until you get it tuned right and that can take forever (sometimes it’s not possible) and be pricey. If Glocks are your thing take a page from my wife’s book and go with a G21 tactical.

        • S9, of course they’re illegal in CA. What isn’t? Good advice on the can equipped pistol. I’m not a huge Glock fan. But they work and if I lost one to an evidence locker it wouldn’t hurt, much.

          In my hand the sf21 feels better than the 15 or 17. Nice, fat, subsonic bullets.

        • ” I assume an SBS is illegal in California?”

          There *might* be a work-around eventually, when cans are 50 state legal.

          Shottie can permanently (welded) mounted to keep OAL legal.

          Especially if you use one of those external mag mods.

          I’m considering a Serbu ‘Super-Shorty’ with the external mag mod and that shotgun can…

        • “…of course they’re illegal in CA. What isn’t?”

          Touché, Sir.

          Yeah, that’s the thing about Glocks, they’re relatively cheap and they tend to function flawlessly. As much as I love my USP using it for home defense means I’m likely sending $2500 to impound for awhile when the cops take the whole package. OTOH, I guess that’s better than the alternative and it’s excuse to buy another copy of that gun so I can go all The Matrix with akimbo pistols ROFL.

          Dammit, now I’m gonna have to go get another 21…

  33. I used to live in Canada for quite some time, and had a pump for HD.

    Money and legality were the reason. ARs were Restricted-class. Other Non-restricted class semi auto rifles using 10rd mag instead of 5rd were stupidly expensive. Might as well get a 870/500.

  34. Wouldn’t necessarily lean on The Firearm Blog as a credible source of information in a lot of respects.

    While I’m certainly a fan of moar is better, the lower capacity of a shotgun is vastly overplayed and I’m hard pressed to recall many home invasions that weren’t solved within a handful of rounds one way or the other. Likewise, there’s the ‘hard to reload at night’ argument that can be solved just as it would be with any other firearm: Practice. And last I checked, your pussy AR can’t load dragon’s breath rounds. You’d be had pressed to find a more versatile platform that can ‘do it all’ as long as you can do it all within 6-8 rounds (don’t have a coronary, I own an AR too).

    Of course, TFB was the same site that declared lever guns obsolete, so… Yeah. Whatever.

  35. AR vs Shotgun who the hell cares??? There are a ton of comments on here saying one is better over the other and you are going to over penetrate with one over the other, chances are good you aren’t going to need either in your lifetime, why not own both? And if you like one over the other great, you don’t need to justify “over penetration” by wanting to own one over the other. Assuming someone EVER breaks into your house, WHILE you are home, no one ever said you had to paint your walls with their brains.

  36. I lean towards a shotgun because I’m just confident and capable with one. I’ve hunted deer, hogs, birds, clay pigeons, squirrels, and damn near anything else with one. I can load it fast, handle it easily, and shoot it straight. A good semi auto rifle is a great home defense weapon, and as a former infantry Marine I certainly see their advantages.

    I choose a shotgun because of my confidence with it, even though I have a lot of training with a rifle. Some of the advantages the rifle has aren’t concerns to me. Capacity is great, but my plan is aim gun at bedroom door, pull trigger if BG comes through bedroom door. I really don’t need to worry about missing at that range. Others like recoil and portability aren’t a concern. I’m not carrying it far, and in all my experience shooting living things I’ve never noticed the recoil of any weapon. I like a shotgun, it delivers me the most punishing payload per shot from a shoulder fired weapon. In general, if I hit someone in the chest I have 16 pellets (NO 1 Buck) making one big hole, and that should get the job done.

    If you want to use a rifle, use a rifle, but don’t pretend a shotgun or a handgun won’t do the job.

  37. I peruse TFB’s posts quite often, there’s good people over there. To me some of these heated debates sound too much like splitting hairs.
    You like your 5.56? Train with it. Pump 12ga? Train with it. 9mm/45/357 etc semi automatic/revolver? Train. With. It.
    Each system obviously has it’s merits and detriments, so as the responsible gun owner it is OUR responsibility to learn the ins and outs of ANY system we choose to entrust with the lives of ourselves and those we would protect. For the record?.. I’m a fan of carbines, ala 5.56 flavor. But I damn sure wouldn’t want to be on the other end of a scattergun by someone proficient in it’s use, hehe.

  38. Shotgun is highly lethal, legal in all 50 states, anyone can use it with little skill, and it has few independent parts.

    Even a daintier individual can shoot a 410. A 3 inch 410 shell holds 5 pellets in 00 buck, or a half ounce slug, and has very little recoil.

    If granny needs to defend her home, I would give her a Mossberg 500 youth shotgun in 410.

    • Recently purchased a Taurus Judge, with 3″ chambers. Loaded with 45 Colt and 410 shot shels, it is a weapon to be fearful of!

  39. Holy freaking crap do something about the incredibly LOUD autoplay adds that are spamming this site. I have FOUR 4!! of them screaming out my speakers at the same time as I type this totally drowning out the radio that I am trying to listen to. I absolutely love this site, but this add situation is out of f’ing control.

  40. How many people can find instances where a pump action with 5 (or more) rounds wasn’t good enough to stop a home invasion? Seriously! I’m not Rambo. I’m not going to be shooting people at 400 yards. If 5 or 6+1 out of a 12 gauge isn’t enough I’m not at all sure that me having an AR would be enough either, ya know?

  41. When did everybody become Spec Ops, Navy Seal, Recon Ricky, Airborne Ranger posers? Have we all watched too many Rambo sequels? Played too many Call of Duty and Battlefield video games? Newsflash: Grandpa’s wood stocked, pump action shotgun was good enough to kill bad guys and clear trenches back then, and it’s good enough to kill bad guys and clear trenches today. Go ahead and ask a dead home invader if he’d rather be killed by 00 buck, or 5.56. I bet he wouldn’t have much to say about it, because he’s dead.

  42. I’m a little confused about all the comments on why a home-defense weapon should be good for deer, bear, rabbits, doves and competition shooting.

    I’ve got snubby’s and p3AT’s to get me the ten steps where the shotguns and the magnum pistols are centrally located. Because I find it inconvenient to carry a shotgun when I go to the bathroom, or out to the garage to take out the trash.

    The .30-30 Winchester, the Garand and the 1903_A3 are always in a corner. I don’t expect to ever have to go to the bolt-action rifles.

    Why does it have to be so complicated? Because it’s all about have a LOT of choices.

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