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Whenever gunnies recommend pump-action shotguns for home defense, I sigh, roll my eyes and STFU. Provided I’m not blogging. Here at The Truth About Guns (i.e. safe behind my keyboard), I feel free to tell newbies do NOT get a pump. Yes, pump action shotguns are dead nuts reliable and foolproof. But only in theory. In practice, even with practice, a relatively inexperienced shooter WILL screw it up during a high-stress home defense situation. Hello? Is there any other type? A shotgun is the ultimate – perhaps even only – man-stopper, but it’s no good to its owner if they can’t run the gun. So it’s a handgun first, then a semi-automatic shotgun for a defensive position. Think you’re better than that? Then try one of those bad boys in a force-on-force simulation. Yes, you can convert a pump to fire Simunitions. Yes, TTAG will be running an FOF course soon. Watch this space.

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  1. Preaching to the choir here. Even at the range I screw up with a pump often enough to lose man points. Pistol is my go-to for home defense.

  2. Much as I utterly hate to disagree with the staff of this site, I must do so now.We must be honest ;not all shooters have the time or resources to frequently practice the hobby.Some folks barely have enough spare change to get the piece to start with,to say nothing of scrounging up $2000 for a weekend at Gunsite Academy.For people who need a foolproof means of keeping Johnny Uninvited at bay ,a 12 gauge/20 gauge is a versatile tool,especally if one is located in a gun unfriendly city or state where anything else requires police or government sanctioned permission to own.

      • Might it be that it makes people shooting each other in an expensive(er) version of Airsoft feel cooler than those “kids” using plastic BBs? Might it be a way to help justify the expense of Sims training?

        • airsoft has paintballs too, although they have a nasty habit of exploding before they reach the muzzle

        • Everything I have heard about simunitions leads me to understand that it is more on the order of a manlier version of paintball.

        • How is it really any different than shooting someone with a paintball gun, and cost 10x as much?

      • Yeah I don’t get that, I have caught paint balls in my hand going faster than 400 fps.

      • The simmunition projectile has sufficient mass to penetrate the ocular cavity and enter the brain. This is why goggles are mandatory and are impact resistant. The round can also damage and knockout teeth, hence the use of a full face mask. I had the privilege of going through a shoothouse at Ft Leonard Wood in 2006 during Pre-Mob. Simmunition hurts.

    • Actually, from what I have read of the incident, it appears that you are wrong. The guy seems to be a sheep through and through.

    • Does the word “overpenetration” mean anything to you?

      I have a 7.62NATO rifle; I do keep it close by. But if I were to ever use it in a home defense role, I’m sure Bad Guy would be ventilated, as would the inner and outer walls of my house, definitely the outer wall of my neighbor’s house, likely the inner wall of my neighbor’s house, and possibly any number of neighbors who may happen to be in the flight path of the bullet.

      A shooter – even when defending his/her own life – is responsible for every shot fired and the damage it causes.

      Personally, my 7.62 would be my last choice for home defense. I’d grab the 5.56 carbine before that.

      • over penetration is exactly the point. two birds, one stone. mob attacks are not that rare, especially here in Chicago.

  3. I agree that a first time gun owner needs to start with something like a double barrel or semi auto, but most of us can do just fine with our 12 gauge pumps. I’ve been shooting pump actions my whole life, and didn’t even touch an auto until I was 14. But I still stick with my Remington marine magnum. That is one shit-your-pants scary looking gun, especially with a shell saddle, bandolier sling extended mag tube, and a pissed of homeowner behind it. Besides that, I can rack the action and have second wad of lead on target faster than an inexperienced shooter with an auto.

  4. A blunt arrow flying 280fps can smash a raccoons skull, so why couldn’t a simunition at 400fps hurt or kill? It all depends on where it hits and what is covering the body in that location. Hell, a weak ass red ryder bb gun can kill a squirrel…. Barely, but it still counts.

    • Mass, dude. Mass. A tiny BB has to be going really fast to penetrate thick clothing, and 400fps is not fast for a round soft pellet with low mass.

      Now if Simunitions were arrows coming out of guns at 400fps…

    • A arrow has a much greater mass than a simunition, thus much greater energy, are made from harder materials than a paintball simunition, and are very sharp. Raccoons skulls are thinner than a mans. Why are you even bringing up squirrels? BB guns can go over 1k FPS.

    • Mass, and cross-sectional density.

      When bowhunting, one typically uses arrowheads that are VERY sharp; This combined with 10 grains of arrow (give or take) per pound of pull weight (for a total generally in the range of 500 grains or better), traveling at 280 FPS has roughly 120 joules of energy, and a VERY sharp, VERY hard tip on a (maybe) 1/3″ thick shaft. Essentially, it has very little cross-sectional density immediately upon impact, and a LOT of mass. Thus, penetration.

      Simunitions, on the other hand, LACK mass (5.56 = 3.5 grains, 9mm = 7 grains), ergo 9mm going roughly 425 FPS has roughly 4 joules of energy at the muzzle, while 5.56 going at 650 FPS has roughly 3 joules of energy at the muzzle. ALSO, keep in mind that these are PLASTIC projectiles which are generally filled with paint, and designed to deform upon impact, which spreads the impact out over a longer period of time.

      Thus, when one understands physics, it makes sense, because while simunitions travel 2-3 times as fast as conventional arrows, they have a very small fraction of the mass (1/70th in the case of 9mm, 1/140th in the case of 5.56), and unlike arrows they are designed to deform upon impact, which increases the amount of time given to the target to absorb the impact. So, again, when you actually calculate out masses and speeds, it is VERY clear why simunitions don’t generally result in lasting injuries.

  5. I must also disagree.

    If you can afford $20. for a box of 100 #8 birdshot from wallyworld, then you got yourself a very FUN day for chump-change.

    A mossburg pump will run you $200 – $300 brand new outta da box and a pistol grip vrs a shoulder stock should be your ONLY considerations.

    with the versatility that this gun offers you cannot go wrong for 1st timers or old hand alike, buck, bird, home defense, slugs, speciality and novelity ammo, as well as limitless re-load options, make a boomstick the BEST home defense CCQ weapon you can get IMHO.

  6. As somebody who has used and been shot by simmunitions, and had a Soldier of mine shot in a particularly uncomfortable nether region with no need for medical intervention, I can’t see how a simmunition could kill unless the trainee is not wearing proper eye and face protection.

    • ….and happened to be looking down the barrel of gun he was cleaning at the time of being shot, while standing on a ledge overlooking sharp rocks.

  7. Based on an such a premise then an inexperienced shooter, one who has not been trained at one of the elite gun schools, does not have the time or money to practice frequently, etc should therefore not use a semi-auto pistol or rifle in HD/SD since it might require some preparation such as loading a magazine, racking the slide, removing the safety, clearing a failure to feed etc – all of which can freeze-up an inexperienced shooter.

    Therefore, an inexperienced shooter should rely upon a simpler SxS double-barrel Coach Gun Shotgun followed up with a revolver. All that of course is assuming that the new gun owner has pre-loaded his two weapons.

    • Add-on:

      Many Americans are now also using their credit cards to buy groceries. Many people can probably afford to buy a basic pump shotgun though a good semi-auto might be too much for them.

      • if you have to use a credit card to buy groceries, then get on food stamps and use that credit card to buy a gun

        • Agreed that people who are struggling should do that. I’m talking about struggling people charging $200 vs. $600+. For poor people that is a big difference.

    • the gun should be loaded ahead of time, if you cant figure out a saftey get a DAO or DA/SA. And a failure to feed? What about short stroking a pump?

      • I got a mossburg 500 and a mossburg 88 and both have VERY EASY saftey’s.

        Quite visable and easy to use with the time tested “red is dead” on the “go” side , to all black for the “safe” side.

        even a moron can figure those out and if you cannot afford at least one trip to a range to practice then you should not own a weapon.

      • matt,

        What you write makes perfect sense. I’m referring to Joe average American gun owner who is not into guns beyond an afterthought for home defense.

  8. In my experience, novice shooters are awesome with semi-auto shotguns but only when someone experienced loads it for them and hits the appropriate bolt-release button. The trigger isn’t the only control on an auto-boomstick, and many novices confuse the magazine-disconnect button with the bolt-release.

    • If you (or someone you know, love and trust) prepares the auto scattergun ahead if time and makes it good to go save the safety, well, that’s about as easy as it can get. Still not easy but easier than a pump.

  9. it’s no good to its owner if they can’t run the gun

    Consider being injured and down to only your weak hand. Could you operate a pump then? An auto loader should still be usable but IMHO it should be a gas action not an inertial action to preclude the possibility of a ‘limp wrist’ jam.

    For example the Mossberg 930 “Home Defense,” MSRP $589.

    • Consider being injured and down to only your weak hand. Could you operate a pump then?

      Sure. So can you. It’s a little awkward, but perfectly doable.

      • Being down to your weak hand is even more of an issue with a recoil operated semi-auto than with a pump. (Think what happens when you limp wrist a pistol, just on a larger scale.)

    • Consider ending the threat with the first shot. We can play make believe scenario all day long. The statement was that a 12 gauge pump does not make a great home defense gun. Their are many recorded accounts of “newbie” people defending home invasion using a pump shotgun. While 12 gauge pump is not the only choice, recorded incidents prove that the 12 gauge pump is a good choice. Rarely is more than one shot with a pump shot gun needed to defend against a home invasion.
      To answer you question, yes, I can run a pump with one hand.

  10. In every basic firearms course I teach we review the operations of handguns, rifle and shotguns, and load and eject dummy ammunition (before going to the range for mostly handgun shooting). Students so frequently cause the pump shotgun to jam that I always have a rubber mallet nearby, even though I counsel them beforehand to operate the gun with authority and without any hesitation. This repeated occurence plus other jamming examples I have witnessed in Combat Shotgun courses I attended lead me to recommend either a semiauto or a double-barreled shotgun. And, if the shooter can get over the “bigger is better” thing, I recommend a youth-sized 20-gauge shotgun for in-close household defense. The shorter gun, regardless of the action type, is easier to run, easier to operate in confined spaces, and is often easier for women to handle, too. 

    My personal favorite is my Benelli M2, which I bought on sale and with $200 or so of rebates a couple of years ago. I know it’s expenive, but it runs every load I’ve ever tried and should last my children their lifetimes, when I bequeath it to them.

    • +1 for the short gun, which is why handguns rule the world of self-defense. But a shotgun with an 18″ barrel is an awesome home defense gun. You just have to pump the damn thing like you mean it.

  11. Pump action vs. Semi-auto shotgun. I have had a running argument with myself over this for years. I currently own a Winchester Defender pump gun and hate the way I have to stretch my left arm akwardly to reach the minimalist forearm/slide. For those of us short of limb, this is a pain. With a Mossberg 930 as an example, I don’t think that’s a problem. But are semi-auto shotguns reliable enough for home defense?

  12. I have thought long and hard about home defense. About two weeks ago I retired my short barreled (18.5 inch) 12 gauge pump-action shotgun. I have decided that something else is better. I now have a semi-auto carbine in .40 S&W (yes the pistol caliber). The barrel is 16 inches long, overall length is under 30 inches, it weighs about 4 pounds, and uses pistol magazines.

    The advantages are numerous. For one, recoil is minimal which reduces a novice’s tendency to flinch and miss. It also means follow-up shots are very fast. The short size makes it very maneuverable in the close quarters of a home defense situation. A 15 round magazine fits flush in the pistol grip and extended magazines are available with even greater capacities. Finally something that many people overlook: the long barrel means the gun blast is not deafening in either the short or long term. While people may be willing to lose their hearing in order to save their life, what about the tactical disadvantage of even temporarily losing your hearing after one — much less two or three shots? Even if you stop the home invader in front of you, what if there are others? How will you check on your family? What if law enforcement arrives and you are not able to hear their commands?

    For anyone scoffing at the “stopping power” of the .40 S&W carbine, consider the ballistics when you have a 16 inch barrel. My carbine will launch a 180 grain hollow point at about 1200 fps — faster than premium reduced velocity home defense 12 gauge shotgun ammo. And a single 180 grain bullet has more mass than three #00 buckshot pellets. Finally, a premium 180 grain bullet will easily mushroom to 0.67 inches which is more frontal surface area than four #00 buckshot (0.32 caliber) pellets. If that wasn’t enough, then maybe the fact that premium ammo has nearly identical ballistics to premium .357 Magnum loads (of all common bullet weights) coming out of a 4 inch barrel revolver will get your attention.

    Now throw in the fact that I can continue to aim and fire with one hand if necessary, I cannot see a better overall solution.

    • Shotguns suck except in defrnse of barricaded positions with a fatal funnel.

      My choice is a high cap pistol but I believe a semi auto sub machine gun is probably superior, especially if NFA’d to a short barrel configuration.

      I am trying to learn the Uzi. It can lay down an immense amount of fire accurately with minimal training. It loses to the pistol in weight and maneuverability. For me the jury is out. For an inexperienced shooter the Uzi is easier to get on target.

    • I agree with you about the merits of the carbine. After I was burgled a little over a year ago, I considered both a 12 gauge or a .40 carbine. At the time, I ended up buying a gas operated semiauto 12 gauge. I recently got a Beretta Cx4.

      I think many people who recommend shotguns over carbines for home defense are seriously underestimating the over-penetration potential of many shotgun loads and underestimating the utility of the carbine. Obviously, the carbine doesn’t necessarily solve the penetration issue, but until I actually handled it, I didn’t really understand how much more balanced and compact it is than the shotgun. My condo has some weird corners and tight angles, so that’s important.

  13. A Mossberg 500 is $249. It’s dead nut reliable as long as you remember to take off the safety.

    The least expensive reliable auto-loader would be the Mossberg 930. Next would be a Remington 1100 with some gunsmithing to open up the gas ports. Either is going to cost over $500. (they also don’t go bang if you forget the safety)

  14. A 12 gauge pump is totally reliable if you stroke it with authority. If you try to ease it along like that silly little girl in the video, you’re gonna get a double handful of jam sandwich. She’d limp wrist a pistol, too, and probably conk herself on her noggin with a revolver.

    It’s a poor workman who blames his tools.

      • Not always true. The Chinese can build quality if they want to. Most of what they do for our market is requested and based on the lowest price point possible so obviously the quality doesn’t always hold up.

        On the other hand I’ve used and abused a Chinese 3/8″ ratchet and socket set I bought 20 years ago and they’re still going strong and my MAK-90 is an exemplary version of the AKM. Just so you don’t get me wrong, most of the Chinese products I’ve used have been utter crap – just not all.

        • The O2 sensor socket I bought broke on the first use with a 12″ breaker bar, I was on my back using it one handed without a cheater pipe. A chinese deep 6 point sockets got broke too. I’m not a strong guy, 6’4″ 180lbs. Also managed to break a 1/2″ crowsfoot wrench on a very rusted bolt that I thought was going to strip. I’ve rented a ~2-~3 pipe expander from AutoZone, the last guy managed to get the nut seized to the forcing screw. I got it un seized, but the threads were stripped from the screw. So I bought a different design on Amazon, which was dead out of the box, and had actually been finished with spray paint when it was fully assembled. Paint also managed to drip down on to a ground portion of the forcing screw. I bought a cordless impact wrench from harbor freight that refused to remove my lug nuts, replaced with a Dewalt 36v that has never had a problem. Most of my other tools are American, and have only had problems when I bent a breaker bar and slide bar handle with a cheater pipes.

        • @ matt

          I feel your pain. I’ve learned my lesson with buying Chinese when it counts tool-wise. I’ve seen more than a few Chinese impact sockets shatter into pieces. All my hand tools (except for the aforementioned socket set) are Proto, S-K, Mac or Craftsman. They’ve served me very well on all projects especially with my 2000 Wrangler – many hard trails, many fixes.

  15. RF is correct but for the wrong reason. Have any of you shot a 12 ga. in an enclosed semi-dark room? Well I have and it is not an experience I will ever repeat voluntarily.


  16. I would take a Remington 870 over almost any other shotgun for home defense…and a shotgun over any pistol. I’ve hunted with an 870 since I was a kid. I’m a lousy wing shot, but to get better I started shooting skeet with it. Yes…I get many strange looks when I show up at the skeet range with a cheap pump action shotgun. However, I don’t remember the last time I short racked it, and I don’t always hit doubles, but I always get two shots off.

    Like any other firearm, if you’re going to stake your life on it, you need to practice.

  17. I have to disagree as well. I am more than comfortable with my pump shotgun with 18 inch barrel in 10 gauge that I keep next to the bed. I have no problems running and gunning with MY gun.

  18. Just because YOU are wary of having a pump as your go-to armament of choice, and because some new shooters have problems with it at first, and because some people just aren’t very competent with theirs, that does not mean that it is not an EXCELLENT choice for many, many other home defenders like myself. If anything CAN go wrong, it eventually WILL, I don’t care what platform you are talking about. Murphy will always rear it’s head, and one must prepare for such potential failures. There is not perfect solution. Every weapon has pluses and minuses.

  19. For anyone who is intent on a shotgun for home defense for whatever reason — seriously consider a 20 gauge over a 12 gauge. The blast should be somewhat quieter than a 12 gauge. And more importantly there is less recoil. That is important for faster follow-up shots.

    There is another advantage to a pump action shotgun for home defense. I have a young child and safety is a priority. At the same time I want the shotgun to be readily available so trigger locks or keeping it in a gun safe is not an option. The answer? Keep your shotgun 6 feet up in the air (out of reach), keep the chamber empty, and keep the tube magazine full. If the child ever manages to improvise a ladder, they would still have to pump the shotgun and point it and pull the trigger to hurt anything or anyone. There isn’t a small child in the world that can pump a shotgun so this is extremely safe.

    If a home invasion happens and you are feeling “charitable”, you can pump the shotgun as an unmistakeable “get out of my house now” message. If you believe the situation is more dire, all you have to do is hold the trigger down as you pump the shotgun. It will go bang as you move the action forward — assuming you do it firmly. In fact that is how you can “rapid fire” any pump action firearm. (Aim the firearm, hold the trigger down, and pump the action as fast as you can — it will go bang each time you slam the action forward.)

    • “In fact that is how you can “rapid fire” any pump action firearm. (Aim the firearm, hold the trigger down, and pump the action as fast as you can — it will go bang each time you slam the action forward.)”

      Certain older pumps yes, any of the more newly produced ones (of the last few decades), no. But, a cool feature IT IS, no question, and one that I am envious of! … I would like to add an old vintage slam-firing Ithaca or such to my collection someday. But anyhow, and on a more pertinent note …

      I am beginning to think more and more here that the author here is attempting to “troll” for attention, needlessly, by making inflammatory and sensationalistic statements like in the above title:

      “.. why pump action shotguns SUCK (emphasis mine) for home defense”

      And in the body of the article:

      “.. even with practice, a relatively inexperienced shooter WILL (emphasis theirs) screw it up during a high-stress home defense situation.”

      If the above statements are not shameless attempts to “troll” for more page hits and attention (and ad money) then I don’t know what is. I gotta call it like I see it.

      What benefits are there to further dividing us gun lovers and second amendment defenders, and to getting us bickering back and forth about this this gun being better than that, and in so doing generating a sort of controversy where there really shouldn’t be any? Why go trashing a certain very popular weapon (for a reason) when you can simply let people know that if they aren’t commutable with it, they should get more training or consider another option, but to claim in no uncertain terms that a relatively new owner WILL fail at defending themselves with a pump, that is just journalistic trash right there. God bless and good luck to you nonetheless. I am out.

      • “Certain older pumps yes, any of the more newly produced ones (of the last few decades), no.”
        The Kel-Tec KSG can. And for this role you cant go wrong with it, 26″ OAL, 7+7+1 magazine. Downside it is still expensive as hell, $1200 on gun broker, $880 MSRP.

        “getting us bickering back and forth about this this gun being better than that”
        half the people here come to bicker, at least I do

        “Why go trashing a certain very popular weapon”
        A GAU-13 is a very popular weapon, but do you think people should trash it for use as a home defense weapon?

        “new owner WILL fail at defending themselves with a pump, that is just journalistic trash right there”
        have you heard of short stroking? or how difficult they are to reload compared to a modern handgun or rifle?

        • Where have you seen a KSG slamfire?

          the weaknesses you mention are pretty much what we are already covering here, so yes I am aware of that. Proficiency through training can address it, for one thing.

          Aside from the comedic value, I fail to see how your mention of the GAU-13 aircraft-mounted gun is relevant here. The point I made is that Pump shotguns are enduring and wildly popular for good reasons, they work exceedingly well and they are versatile and affordable. Thank you.

        • Apparently I was mistaken about the slam fire on the KSG. The one at SHOT would not reset if you cycled it with the trigger held down, I somehow interested KTWM’s response on the fix as it being allowed to slam fire in the production model, which it does not.

          Havent you seen the Predator movie? The GAU-13 certainly can be shouldered

          Just because they are popular among a certain demographic, doesnt mean it is a good choice. Obama is popular among a certain demographic, do you think he is a good choice? It seems to only be popular amongst those who think racking the action will scare off someone, instead of leaving you with 5 rounds instead of 6.

        • Actually according to the article and comments on the link below, there are two trigger systems for the KSG. One for civilians, the other for LEOs, the latter lacking a disconnector and being able to slam fire. I don’t know if its true, but so sayeth the internet. If your really interested i’m sure you could call up KT. And if your ballsy, try removing the disconnector for a civilian model.

        • Verified the LEO model slam fires. KTWM is the keltec rep on the forums, his post is halfway down page 3

          “All the KSG’s at SHOT were prototypes. The one in the Law enforcement booth was setup to slam-fire, and also had a different pump lock switch. But that does not mean it was a Law enforcement "feature" (probably just a communication misunderstanding since it was in the law-enforcement area).”

        • God my posts had tons of grammatical errors, and spell check was replacing misspelling with completely different words. I wish the edit button was here, but you get the idea. KTWM said it wasnt technically a LEO model, but since current civilian production models dont slam fire, I would assume it is a LEO feature. And once again, if youre ballsy, you could remove/disable the disconnector.

        • And if live in an area where you can own a SBS, someday they will release the Tactical model which appears to have a 22″ OAL and 5+5+1 capacity.

  20. I can’t believe I’m going to be the first to say it…

    Everyone knows that the main reason to have a pump-action shottie for home defense is that by merely making the “racking sound,” you will send the bad guys scurrying out the door! 😉

    It’s truly amazing how often I do hear this rationale for the pump-action shotgun. Oy!

  21. My personal feeling is that young lady is most likely a poor example for an argument against shotguns. To me she is obviously very new to the platform and if not then she either needs more trigger time, a better instructor or a different firearm. A 12 gauge isn’t the easiest to master but it most certainly can be done by folks of all statures and genders especially with all the top-rate reduced recoil ammo available these days. Competence with a shotgun loaded with double ought means the threat likely ends with one good shot more than any other platform. Plus the sound of a gauge being racked is as close to universal language as it gets. Basically GTFO.

    I encourage any home defense minded person to put time and effort into a shotgun and if it doesn’t work for them then move on to pistols or some flavor of carbine, either pistol caliber or rifle caliber. Myself, I have a Mossberg 590 I’ve used plenty but I’m most comfortable with my M4gery with 30 rounds of 55 gr. Ballistic Silvertips. Anything goes sideways and it’s ten feet from my bedroom into the room of my two housemates where I take up a defensive and they call 911, land line and/or cell.

  22. And, here they are…. Some folks posting the belief that racking the action of the pump will make bad guys run. Most of us preach having a round chambered for handguns. Yet, some cling to the Hollywood fantasy that racking a pump shotgun magically sends bad guys running.

    If I had a pump shottie, I’d have one in the chamber. I’m not wasting a round to make Hollywood sound effects. In the unfortunate circumstance of a bad guy being in my house while occupied, the first sound he would hear is, “BOOM!”

    Would you shotgun racking-sound fans do the same thing with a semi-auto pistol? I’m truly puzzled at this myth being perpetuated, even among the “intelligentsia.”

    • I don’t have kids but every now and again I have little’uns visit and on the off chance they showed up unexpected and I didn’t secure my weapon I felt much better having my 590 with nothing in the chamber. Having an empty chamber didn’t bother me in the least because when need be I’d rack the slide as soon as I picked it up, no tactical worries. The 590 holds eight in the tube and six in the sidesaddle so I was never worried about being a round short.

      Having said, and considering that do you really discount the effect the racking of a shotgun may have on a criminal? Most of those breaking into a house are looking for an easy score. It may not be Hollywood but anyone that hears it knows shit just got real.

      • “I don’t have kids but every now and again I have little’uns visit and on the off chance they showed up unexpected and I didn’t secure my weapon I felt much better having my 590 with nothing in the chamber.”
        Huh? Kids can rack a shotgun. 8 rounds is a lot less than 20 or 30 in a rifle.

        “Having said, and considering that do you really discount the effect the racking of a shotgun may have on a criminal?”
        The primary effect will be guaranteeing he’ll open fire on you if he is armed because you just gave you position away, and demonstrated youre a threat.

        • “8 rounds is a lot less than 20 or 30 in a rifle.”

          Which, if you read my posts completely, is why I now have an AR at my bedside.

          “and demonstrated youre a threat”


          This whole “giving your position away” is a load of crap for a home break in scenario. Punks breaking in to steal shit are an entirely different thing than Hollywood assassins breaking in hell bent on killing you. Home invaders are punk thieves looking for an easy score. The minute they sense it will be anything but easy they will bolt. All you need to do is look at the many videos or stories of them booking it once the situation turns from their favor. Hell, look at the instances of kids sending them off with BB guns.

          I have an Armalaser Stingray SR2-635 on my AR and I will be tracking it back and forth across the hallway letting all parties know I’m ready to make them work for it. I’d much rather the shitheads clear out than have to make my first indication a “boom” and kill one of them. As much as I like punks getting ventilated I don’t take killing another human lightly and would rather not.

          • very good posts from all.

            this is the reason I spent an extra $150. on a green laser from laserlyte on my pistol-grip mossy 500 pump that is ALWAYS fully loaded, racked and ready to fire with the safety on.

            In a completely pitch black room this 5mw laser will make a 20′ square room glow a bright green. Outdoors at night it is said to be good for up to one mile , but my 3×9 scope can only pick it up out to 100 yards or so and for a shotgun, that’s more than enough. Even in the bright sunshine at my outdoor range the green dot is clearly visiable at the 25 yard bunker line with the naked eye and again that is more than enough for a shotgun.

            For all those nay-sayers about penatrating power I will compare my winchester 3″ magnum buckshot loads with 24 pellets and my 3″ remington magnum slugs against any human, body armor or not, and put them down for the count, for good.

            with no choke tube on the 18″ mossburg pump the 3″ buckshot will keep a 8″ pattern at 25 yards and with the laser sighted in dead nuts at the 25 yard bunker line, the 3″ slugs fired from the hip only have a .04″ drop at 25 yards!

            The way I look at it is:

            If I need more than the three 3″ buck & three 3″ slugs that I can crank off in about 5-6 seconds, then I will grab my MP5 and “pray & spray” 9mm’s while I reload my REAL weapon with 6 more man-stoppers which is why I like to leave a fully loaded 55 shell bandoleer hanging around bedpost.

            AND…..pratice one hand loading of a pump shotgun. It is MUCH easier than one-hand-loading any other weapon out there today.

        • Well, it depends. Are they punks looking for an easy score or are they home invaders who are quite willing to shoot you on sight?

          In other words, intimidation works or it doesn’t. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, what’s the next plan? Racking a shotgun, partly for intimidation purposes, might work a lot of the time, but it seems to me that when it doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work. It’s like drawing for effect. If the person you’re drawing against isn’t impressed or intimidated, then what? Are you going to shoot them for effect as well?

        • If you want to scare them off with noise, the report from any weapon, even a .22 will do far more than racking the action of your gun, or moving a laser around wildly. Another upside is you’ll probably take out one of them, reducing the threat.

        • @ Carlos

          Easy score or not they’ll be in narrow hallway (i.e. chokepoint) if they want to go that route. As I clearly stated in my earlier post my go-to now is an AR so I’m not relying on the the noise a gauge makes when it’s racked. 911 will be called and I’m staying put in my defensive position. If they make off with some some of my stuff then so be it. Sad as it may be I honestly would rather replace some stuff than get dragged through the courts for having shot some thieving asshole and having to deal with his moronic family who ignores his entire criminal life and proclaims him “a good son”.

          @ matt

          Now you’re just being ridiculous. Shooting a hole through something with a .22 isn’t better in any respect. Keep in mind I’m speaking purely from the layout of my house. I cross ten feet and I’m with my two housemates. All three of us are in the very corner of the house with a twelve foot hallway leading to a seven foot “T” that leads to the room we’re in. Very defensible. I want nothing more than the cops to come and arrest the dirtbags before I have to kill someone.

        • true about the .22, I was referring more to the noise of the report vis a vis a action being racked, although there was that article here recently about 22lr as a SD round, I wouldnt want to do that.

      • Yes… I discount the notion of scaring the bad guy off with the racking sound categorically as being a Hollywood fantasy. Because that’s exactly what it is.

        Bad guys breaking into a house already have a good idea whether it’s occupied or not. If the break-in happens at night, they KNOW you’re probably home. And, if they know you’re home, they have already prepared for a confrontation.

        I’d enjoy hearing of one documented case of where the racking sound scared off the bad guys.

        • When I was 16.
          Parents were out, I was in the bedroom, all the lights were out except for a small lamp while I was watching TV.

          Hear noises in the living room but had NOT heard a car come home. Grabbed my Mossberg out of the closet and loaded it.

          Racked it just as I was rounding the corner into the living room. I don’t know who was in the living room but they ran for it. Left the door wide open and could hear someone running like hell down the street.

          Yes I would have shot them given the chance, but I didn’t need to.

  23. side by side coach gun. best home(or wagon) defense weapon in my opinion. can’t really screw it up.

  24. That is the worst reasoning I have ever heard for not recommending a shotgun for home defense.

    This comes down to training folks. If you short stroke a Remington 870, yes the gun will jam. So, a trip to the range and actually running the gun and learning how to not short stroke the gun, would be well advised.

    Training with any gun, is paramount. That way, when that worst day of your life comes, you make sure you survive and the gun goes BANG.

    The author of this piece, makes the point why a pump shotgun is a great home defense tool. Debugged Technology! How you can say they are reliable and in the same breath say they are not. I thought I was reading something by President Obama for a moment. Because just like the liar in Chief, whatever he says can’t be believed.

    The recommendation shouldn’t necessarily be about the hardware, it should be the necessity to train with whatever defensive gun you decide to use.

  25. Pick any gun from your safe right now and go put 1000 rounds through it plus 100 more per month thereafter.

    You will have a better chance if you are holding a bolt action deer rifle THAT YOU CAN SHOOT than a wonder gun that you selected based on thousands of hours of mittyism then hung beside the bed and never touched again.

    I would venture that the best defended homes in America are owned by cowboy action shooters. They are the guys who can ventilate the third attacker before the first one hits the ground, and that is with a single action revolver.

  26. i’ve been shootingboth as a civilian and military, for close to fifty years now and the only place i’ve encountered short stroking a shotgun has been on these internet chat sites. my wife,who is five feet tall and can barely reach the pump handle on my mossberg 500 had a quick lesson from me at the range and has done it right since. in my experience a person that falters on the simple and murphy proof pump gun has even less luck with anything semi auto. my wife is an excellent and willing shot but she is not a gun person. for her it is the pump gun backed with a revolver. as for the noise effects of the racking slide i can only comment from my own experience. i saw a barfight ended by a shotgun beeing chambered and one dark night i heard the bolt of a machine gun going home from somewhere to my front. that was a deeply religous moment for me.

  27. I’m with Wade. I got a 12ga pump for my 12th birthday. Most of the time it wears a 18.5″ barrel and sits next to my bed. If TSHTF in the middle of the night, I want a gun I could operate in my sleep, and that one’s been with me for 40 years now.

    Farago’s got a point too. If some newbie says ‘what should I get’, maybe something simple is the answer, like a semi auto or an exposed hammer single shot.

  28. My first home defense weapon was a semi-auto 12 GA “duck gun”. What I found out quickly (aside from it being too long) is that depending on the type of shot shells I used, it would jam. I’d read that birdshot was an effective shell that wouldn’t damage the walls of my home, so that’s what I purchased. They however didn’t have enough kick (the kind I purchased anyway) and would “stovepipe”. I bought some 00 (no longer worrying about my walls) and no more jams. I couldn’t afford a semi-auto shotgun, so something like a Maverick 88 pump is was attractive to me. I’ve never actually handled a pump shotgun before but what concerns me is what if I’m injured and can’t cycle the next shell? I’ll go back to cost again, as it’s been my experience that a semi-auto 12 GA short enough for home defense costs much more than a pump shottie with an 18-20″ barrel. The whole argument makes a good pistol (especially a revolver) much more cost effective and logical in home defense situations.

  29. Sorry I have to disagree. I have only shot pump guns since I started shooting (33 years now) and have never short stroked a pump gun. I have used my Winchester 1300 Defender practicing the usual IDPA types of drills without a single problem. On the other hand, many (not all) of my fellow shooters have had far more problems with their semi-autos. They also seem to fire faster than they should, cause they can, and end up with more misses.

    If you don’t practice, any shotgun is just a club.

  30. Uhhh… presuming that both guns are loaded, with no rounds in the chamber, operating a pump shotgun is precisely the same as operating any semi-auto handgun.

    Rack a round in a shotgun is essentially the same as chambering a round in, say, a 1911. They both require a back and forward motion.

    Flip off the safety

    Pray to God that the intruder goes away…

    But from a “what to do in a high stress situation,” the motions are the same.

    The only real difference is if the gun starts empty, which is silly – but I’ll concede that slipping in a magazine is a LOT faster than loading up a pump shotgun.

    If this article makes sense to you, then you really need to consider a revolver. This is basically why people still buy revolvers: other than a bad primer, you are 99.999% sure that a pull of the trigger is going to send a round down the barrel. Revolvers are the closest any suitable home-defense weapon comes to being foolproof. But if you want stopping power, you’re going to have a pretty large revolver.


  31. If you don’t live in a DPR state that restricts shotguns, I think that a Saiga is the way to go. For those who complain that Saigas/AKs are finicky and need tinkering; If you are going to trust your life and the lives of your family to a gun, then spend the money to have it skillfully tuned by a gunsmith that specializes in Saiga/AKs. I got mine from a customizer in NE called Hatcher Gun Co.. He did an excellent job including replacing the factory 2-position gas system with an aftermarket 6-position one. I’ve never had a problem with it.

    The aftermarket magazines are spendy, but worth it for the capacity. A 12rd magazine on an autoloader allows you to perform an El Presidente drill with a shotgun!

    For the home defense scenario, a big advantage of the Saiga box magazine over the pump tube its the ability to use 3″ shells without loosing any capacity. 3″ standard load is 12 pellets of 00-buckshot (the same as 2.75″ magnum), and 3″ magnum load is 15 pellets of 00-buck (Remington or Winchester, 15-shell box $14-$15 at Wal-Mart).

    If 15 pellets of 00-buck isn’t enough knockdown for you, Herter’s (Cabela’s house-brand ammo) has a 2.75″ buck-&-ball shell. 6x 0-buckshot with a .65 cal. ball in each shell.

    The SGM magazines have enough extra room to load a full magazine on a closed bolt, so you can have a full magazine and an addition shell in the chamber. If 12+1 of 3″ magnums isn’t enough for you, there are a number of aftermarket magazine couplers specifically for Saiga shotgun magazines (couplers for Saiga rifle magazines don’t fit). Link two 12rd mags for 12+12+1=25 rounds ready to go.

    Any AK accessories can be added to the Saiga. So, for example a quad rail from Chaos US can be used to replace the sporting fore-end to allow the use of lights (a must if you have family or roommates in the house), lasers, red-dot RMRs, and vertical fore grips.

    Brownells has AK-AR stock converters that screw onto the AK tang (DIY; no gunsmithing required) and allow you to mount an AR buffer tube to take AR stocks, such as a Magpul MOE, UBR, or PRS. All of these can be fitted with extended recoil pads.

    Another point is that the Saiga comes with a threaded barrel (for chokes), but it can also take muzzle brakes to cut recoil. I have a Mojo brake from Red Jacket, and find that it really cuts the recoil, even using 3″ magnums.

    Saiga also makes a 20 gauge for those who feel the 12-gauge has too much kick.

    If you are really concerned about recoil aversion, such as a very petite woman or a young teen, or over-penetration with rifle rounds, another way to go is a PS-90 from FNH-USA. It was specifically designed as a close quarter weapon: 5.7x28mm ammunition (=.224 caliber, much less recoil than 5.56x45mm), 50-round standard magazine, 2000-2500 fps, and truly ambidextrous (casings eject out the bottom). AR15 makes an AR upper (“AR-57″) in 5.7x28mm that uses standard PS90 magazines and ejects casings through the AR lower’s mag well. FMJ range ammo is made in USA by Federal under the American Eagle brand (50rd box ~$28 at Cabela’s, 500rd case from Midway is less per round), and for defensive use the SS197 rounds from FN use Hornaday 41-grain V-Max ballistic tip expanding bullets.

  32. What a pile of good ol fashioned BS. There MANY dead would-be home invaders who would argue that a pump shotgun is a great home defense weapon. Nearly every police officer has one, I had one in the military, and nearly every home with firearms in it has one. But I guess we’re all crazy since a pump gun is apparently useless against bad guys. Break into my home at 3am and you’ll find yourself staring straight down the barrel of an 870 loaded with buckshot..then tell me again how bad it “sucks”. The title of this article alone should be a red flag for any serious firearm owner. A pump gun may not be the best option for everyone out there but anyone who simply says they “suck for home defense” should not be taken seriously. From here on out any article I run across written by Robert Farago will be promptly avoided and discarded as trash. You good sir, are an idiot and this article reads like the ramblings of a pissed off school girl.

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