In the video above, an armed self-defender uses a pump-action shotgun mounted to the front of his ATV to pretend-perforate a perp. Despite the fact that Jacob knew an attack was coming (the cameramen circling him like vultures and the GoPros hung on his body like Christmas tree ornaments being his first clues), he got kilt in a gunfight. In the re-run Jacob wins the gunfight after his shotgun malfs — shooting a snubbie! What does that tell you?

Not a whole lot (other than someone forgot to GTFO). Different self-defense firearms have different advantages and disadvantages. Pistols are portable, concealable and easily brought to bear. Shotguns are as close to a one-shot-stop as you’re going to get in a firearm. Pistol rounds are piss-poor man stoppers — even if you’re capable of efficient shot placement under stress. Shotguns are unwieldy; they require two hands in situations where a free hand may be required (e.g., to open a door or call 911).

Do you have a home defense shotgun? Why? Which one? When, where and how would you use it? Is it your primary home defense weapon or a fallback firearm for a last ditch defense?

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50 Responses to Question of the Day: How Great is a Self-Defense Shotgun?

  1. I have a home-defense pistol. I put maneuverability in tight corridors and the ability to manipulate the thing with one hand (my pistol has ambidextrous controls) at a premium.

  2. Nope. Shotguns are functionally obsolete. While effective, they are severely rounds limited and obscenely hard to reload under stress. An arquebus is effective too, (a .8″ lead ball is not something you want to mess with) but you won’t be seeing me use one of those for home defense either.

    If I want a home defense long gun, I’ll grab my M4 or my Mk18. Most of the time, I either have my EDC P229 (yes, it’s the same Legion I wrote about) or my nightstand G34 with a light on it.

    • I also have a G34 with a Tlr-1 for my nightstand/house pistol. I have changed out my 870 tactical for one of my AR’s a couple years ago. I did read an interesting article by Pat Rogers (believe it was in SWAT Magazjne) about the the minimal footprints in length of a pistol at full extension, compared to a 16″ barreled AR. Their was not much difference in length.

      • My buddy carries a G41 on duty… Nothing says Fuck You like a 5.3″ full sized pistol in 45 ACP with a 13 round magazine. Just too bulky for my dainty engineer hands.

        • I understand dainty hands I wear a size medium gloves only because smalls are just a tad to tight. I have typically been carrying a Springfield XDS .45, and will rotate with a CZ P07 Duty in .40. They fit my hands very well. It takes me a longtime to find handguns that fit well. I have always had to install extended magazine releases and extended slide stops (Glocks 34, 19, and 1911’s) to help mitigate my aparent small hand disease. I don’t let it get me down though, since I am firearm addict.

    • Having read most if not all of your comments on this blog, I’m guessing you have good time on your side lol,I digress most of what you say has founding.but what you just spewed was total shortbus.

      • Some of us like the ability to shoot a bad guy more than a half dozen times before taking a half hour to reload. Hell, I’ve got an eye on a G3 SBR as a celebratory Fuck You to the DNC. Slugs are gross overkill against humans and at point blank range buck is not appreciably different from slugs.

  3. I have a 12 gauge wall-leaner that I keep in cruiser-ready condition at all times. And handguns that are loaded and ready. And an AR with a full mag, chamber empty. And a tactical tomahawk. And a hatchet. And a BFK.

    Be prepared.

    • Same here. SBR in .300 BLK with suppressor, loaded with heavy expanding subsonic rounds. My house is all cement-block construction, and its just me and the dog, so no real worries about over-penetration or anything. I’m more concerned with having enough ammo on tap and saving my hearing in the event I ever have to use it in anger indoors. Plus it makes a very fun gun when loaded up with supersonic rounds for hog hunting 🙂

    • (chokes on a laugh), Hit the rock here, Gov!
      .44 for the four-legged varmints, .357 for the two-legged ones.
      Problem solved.

      • I believe the word you’re looking for is ‘MAGNUM’.

        I figure I get close to 800ft/lbs at the muzzle of my 6″ .357magnum (home defense) with the Double Taps I use and probably over 600ft/lbs out of my 3″ EDC. 10mm comes close (to .357 not .41magnum) but short of a 4-1/2 pound Desert Eagle (might as well carry a ri fle) that’s as good as it gets in a pis tol. And yes, .44magnum for 4 legged critters, but I’d prefer something with a butt stock for the ones that are bigger than me and bite.

  4. I’ve said elsewhere on there that I have shotguns locked to the wall here there are fire extinguishers. No, it’s not every room as someone suggested, it’s three key places, one on each floor of the house plus two in the master bedroom.

    They’re mostly Mossy 500 variants other than the wife’s M590A1. They’re not the go-to HD weapons because we both home carry and the suppressed .45 is the go-to.

    What I do like about shotguns is that they can be loaded with a “less than lethal” shell to be fired first. IMHO, this has two advantages. First, it let’s you escalate force in a way that you can run-off or capture someone before making a hell of a mess. Second, the use of the less lethal shell first may seriously help you in a criminal or civil case that might arise if you blast some home invader into the next life. A jury is going to have a lot less sympathy for some asshole when he took a “rubber rocket” and kept coming as opposed to the guy the other lawyers argue you “ambushed” with 9 pellet 00 buck.

    • “What I do like about shotguns is that they can be loaded with a “less than lethal” shell to be fired first. IMHO, this has two advantages. First, it let’s you escalate force in a way that you can run-off or capture someone before making a hell of a mess.”

      Definitely. I have a beanbag in my Rem 870 for basically those reasons. I would really like to avoid ending someone’s life. I really really like to save my own. I look at the beanbag as another chance for the BG to give up. If not, #4 buck is next.

      • You can also get some exotic home defense rounds for shotguns.

        My 500 tactical is loaded with a rubber rocket first, “Rhodesian Jungle” second (a mix of 00 buck and some smaller turkey pellets), third is 9 pellet 00, then flachets and then a round called the “Pitbull” that’s a deer slug sitting on top of six pellets of 00 buck.

        The saddle holds five spare rounds of 9 pellet 00 buck.

        • Having seen what the “Pitbull” actually does to a target, I must disagree.

          The Rhodesian Jungle is nice too because the smaller stuff throws out a significantly larger pattern than the 00. From the barrel I’m generally using, even if you manage to miss with the 00 buck you won’t miss with the smaller stuff. One way or another you’re gonna put the hurt on someone. The only question is how much hurt.

  5. Got a teflon coated pistol grip pump 500 with #4 buck on a high shelf in the bathroom. Stainless GP100 in a drawer too. Got them in there as a last line weapon or in case I’m taking a dump or a shower. Options.

  6. I personally have a G17 for home defense but I have had my eye on a Mossberg 590a1 for a while now and I wouldn’t knock it as a viable self defense tool its power and versatility are second to none and from a survival perspective the shotgun would give me the ability to defend my self from both four legged and two legged predators and take game both large and small all in one package.

    Sure they are hard to load under stress and they are rounds limited but all guns have their shortcomings and trade offs are made with every firearm. A well made 12ga shotgun fills that very important niche in the trifecta and with out it a home owner is missing a key component in their defensive line up.

    So in short a well made pistol, rifle, and shotgun are all three key to a well rounded defensive set up each one filling a particular and important role in defending ones life, family, and property. Take anyone of those three away and you are only limiting yourself.

    Oh and for people on a budget they can get a well made defensive shotgun for a lot less than a rifle so for those of us who can’t afford a integrally suppressed SBR AR-15 with all the bells and whistles the shotgun remains a viable self defense option.

  7. A shotgun was my first home defense weapon. But as I acquired more guns and knowledge, it’s no longer my first gun I’d go to at night. In my previous home, a pistol was my primary as my kids were in another part of the house and I needed the mobility and a free hand that the pistol affords. Now that we’re all clustered at one area of the house, it’s the AR for controllability and round count. During the day it’s a revolver for home carry.

  8. I really just use my EDC around the house. But a Mossy is kept ready to go in the bedroom. Our house is small and I figure if I am rudely awaken in the middle of the night and all groggy, I’d rather have 6 shells to face an immediate threat.

    • I will add though, that if you are not really a gun guy/gal and are just looking for something simple to have around the house to defend yourself, I still think a shotgun is the way to go.

  9. Stupid question RF. The shotgun is only as good as the man behind it – same as any other firearm. If the man knows what he is doing, it is pure awesomeness. But one word for you – Benelli.

  10. I usually keep a pistol (CZ 75 pre-B or P-01) handy, to fight my way to the safe where there’s a suppressed AR-15 SBR loaded with subsonic 300BLK, a suppressed CZ Scorpion SBR loaded with subsonic 9mm, a Vz. 58 loaded with cheapy 7.62×39, and half a dozen loaded pistols/revolvers in 9mm, .45ACP, and .357Magnum.
    I have a 12-gauge over-under and 12-gauge Browning Auto 5 in the garage safe, but with 28″ barrels and nothing but #7 birdshot in the house, they’re not my first choice. I’d probably go with the Henry .357 lever rifle next to them first.

    • Goddamit anyway, sounds like a fine collection. I’ve been wanting a lever in .357 myself. How you liking the CZ P01? I’ve been thinking about getting one.

      • If Remi ngton ever lets Marlin start making the 1894c again I’ll be toward the front of the line waiting to buy one.

  11. I have a home defense shotgun. It’s a Remington 870 that I bought for its versatility. It’s my go to weapon for home defense cause in a hone defense situation, the gain in lethality and accuracy over my Glock 19 is worth the loss in maneuverability.

  12. I have a pump-action 20 gauge shotgun available for home defense. I keep that leaning against the wall in a discrete location. I purchased it as a primary self-defense firearm for my oldest child who is responsible enough to handle it. (Hint: if your child is old/responsible enough to drive a vehicle, they are old/responsible enough to handle a firearm for home defense.) I believe this platform is an excellent choice for teen children who typically are not ready to “home carry” a handgun around all the time. (They come and go a lot to school, neighbors, friends, social outings, work where they cannot legally be armed … and it isn’t very practical strapping on and taking off a handgun multiple times a day.) A shotgun is also an excellent choice for teen children who lack the coordination or strength to use handguns. And not that I purchased a youth sized shotgun which is lighter and a MUCH better fit for teen children who have not yet attained NFL linebacker proportions. I also chose the shotgun because it is easy to keep the chamber empty and easy to bring it to ready (just pump it) as an added measure of safety. Finally, I chose the shotgun because I can tailor the shot shells to my liking. In my case the first shell is number 4 birdshot and the rest are slugs. The first round provides spread which increases the chance of hitting the attacker with something, while also reducing the probability of a serious injury to bystanders beyond the attacker. And if that first round of birdshot is inadequate, the follow-up slugs, weighing about 265 grains and exiting the barrel at 1550 fps, are going to be rather devastating to an attacker.

    For me it is a secondary home defense firearm since I “home carry” my handgun at all times.

  13. with kids in my small house, a shotgun with heavy dove is my weapon of choice for now. i would like to move to a pistol eventually but i just can’t really afford a new gun right now. and shotguns are so cheap.

  14. I have too much bought and paid for / documented training underneath my belt that I feel a liberal prosecutor would use it against me, if I were to ventilate somebody hardcore and as fast as I am capable of.

    I use a shotgun to avoid a lot of that mess because it is low capacity and one that is expected to be a home defense weapon, so no mind olympics can be used against me to try to get a conviction.

    Also I’m not going to miss my $400 shotgun if it gets taken and left to rust for a while.

    • “Also I’m not going to miss my $400 shotgun if it gets taken and left to rust for a while.”

      Yeah, I paid less than $200 for my “wall leaner” shotgun so that I wouldn’t feel a large financial loss in case the police or a burglar steals it.

  15. Mossberg 590a1 (8+1 with 6 in the side saddle) and an HK Mk 23 for backup. Live in a big house where they have to come up 20 stairs to get to me or the family. Only thing that would be better might be a SAW.

  16. Yep I got a 12ga. pump 7+1. I live in a fairly populated hood. I’m pretty sure a rifle would kill someone on the next block. Ready to go on safe. Grownup kids. 98% likely whomever home invaded with be an Anquan…and after the 1st shot the dreaded “racking” would scare the shite outa’ any fellow miscreants😈

  17. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the biggest drawback to shotguns: Recoil. And it’s not a matter of whether you’re big and strong enough to handle it, it’s a matter of training and being accustomed to it. I’ve watched plenty of 14-yr-old girls go through two boxes of shells in an evening at the trap range. Anyone can fire a shotgun once. But if you aren’t accustomed to the recoil then a followup shot will be a long time coming.

    I have a Mossberg 930Tactical loaded with 00 Buck for home defense. But it’s not my only option. Various handguns are available, too.

    As for the ammo capacity argument: If six rounds of 00 Buck is insufficient for a home defense scenario, then you’re either a really poor shot or the local SWAT team got the wrong house.

  18. First, I like a shotgun. Second, I live in a state that limits mags to 10 rounds and has things like bullet buttons and I live in a heavily populated urban center.

    In my house the pump shotgun is king. But I have a variety of smoothbores. I could start a neighborhood militia just on smoothbores.

  19. I’ll keep my shotgun, 12 gauge pump loaded with six 2 3/4″ 00 buck, light clamped on mag tube, at home and on the road. I also have a pistol if I need a quick portable defense. It’s the bump in the night, and the dog’s low growl go to first, only because the shotgun does not fit on the night stand as well. The pistol is just to buy me time to get up and running, and cross the short distance to the shotgun. The most important factor in home defense day, and especially night, is some kind of early warning. In my case it is a dog that does not bark just to be barking, although he does hate the UPS truck. He gives that rolling grrrrrrrrrrrrrowl, (he’s a Scot Terrier, he rolls his “R”s) I am up, glasses on, and pistol in hand. False alarm? Maybe…. but never ignore whatever alarm you might have, treat every alarm like it’s real, if nothing else it’s good practice. Being forewarned may save you and yours lives, just as importantly it may give you time not to kill somebody.

  20. My primary alert system is 3 dogs, my 1911 is with me in order to get to my 12 gauge 7+1 shot pump Remington loaded with slugs. I live in old miners shack with cinder block walls inside and out, so not much danger of severe over penetration. I am not one of those folks who is going to be patrolling the house whenever I hear the dogs go nuts. I will be staying in my bedroom with a cell call to 911 and hoping the fool doesn’t try to enter my bedroom. If they do, it will be the last room they enter.

  21. I have a Mossberg 500 loaded with 00 buck behind the bedroom door. I home carry at all times either one of my GLOCKS or my Honor Defense. I follow the same strategy that many others have said here. Use pistol to get to shotgun or AR\AK.

  22. Firearms are like motorcycles, one kind isnt enough, since you need at least 5 kinds of motorcycles you also need 5 kinds of firearms.

    Dirtbike, cruiser, touring bike, commuter, track bike.

    Equals:

    Shotgun, battle rifle, pistol, revolver, bolt gun.

    See how it works? Tell the wife i said so if she doesnt agree!

    lol.

  23. Whether shotgun, pistol or AR, for most, or at least many, comes down to experience. Unless you spend a lot of time practicing with a shotgun or AR, which is awkward for many urban dwellers, you’re likely better off using a pistol you do train with. “Only good for fighting one’s way to one’s rifle” notwithstanding.

    OTOH, if you’re a Marine, you’ll likely be able to get some benefit from the added firepower and lethality of an AR. And ditto for shotguns, if you’re experienced in their use. Both long guns do bring MUCH added probability for more rapid incapacitation to the table, if their operator knows how to use them well. But both requires lots of specialized training. Especially in order to be used effectively in the close confines of most homes, with family members, and perhaps common walls, near by.

    So, for what I assume to be most people by now, and certainly for me, it’s pistol. Carried on me. Not 100 different ones stashed all over the place. The same one, or at least a very similar one, that I train with and carry for defense in the woods and when in freer environs.

    Most people, not being Marines in Baghdad, need some minimal proficiency with a pistol anyway, as there are just too many situations where bringing a long gun is awkward (Imagine running the NY Marathon with one…..). If I had more time, and lived where driving forever and ever wasn’t a necessity for shooting 3gun, I’d love to get my rifle and shotgun chops to where I felt differently. But I don’t. And quite possibly never will. And I don’t think I’m that far from the norm in that regard, as far as primarily urban dwellers are concerned.

  24. My wife makes fun of me saying if we ever had a burglar downstairs, by the time I decided which firearm(s) (Saiga 12, Mossberg 50-pistol grip, PS-90, AR-10, AR-15, 1911, Glock, SDM…) they would have loaded their van which everything.

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