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My 870 Now

By Ross Marshman

Ever since the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq plastered the news media’s canvas with portraits of valiant deeds done by brave men and women, any viewer could not help but notice the modern lance these soldiers hefted into combat. Whether black or tan, long or short, optic or irons, the AR15 or M4 carbine was propelled into common, everyday language and into more than one gun enthusiast’s home. But not into mine. This blasphemer decided long ago to stick with what he knows and what works and has fought the urge to purchase an AR15 ever since. Frankly, my grip on the shotgun’s stock has only tightened in recent years . . .

To commemorate my college graduation, my parents gave me a Remington 870 Express Tactical Shotgun. It came with an extended magazine tube, rail with an integrated ghost ring sight, and a breacher’s choke. The extractor was MIM. The trigger guard was plastic. The safety hid itself somewhere behind the trigger. The stock’s grip lacked any sort of useful texturing. And I could not have been more pleased.

When the first round of buckshot announced its departure to my shoulder and tore an angry fist sized hole into the target at seven yards, I was elated. At the range, I could mount the weapon and stalk backwards and forwards, strafe side to side, crouch, use simulated cover and concealment, practice reloading on the move, and even go prone. Anyone with an AR15, however, could only watch with envy while their weapons sat unused in their cases.

No matter where I have lived in the past decade, there has never been a range within five hours of driving time that would let its members unleash their AR15 from the bench and let them roam free. The best I could find were ranges that would allow their members to take their AR15s and use them like a proper weapon only while they were being instructed in its use. So, at best, a member would be allowed a couple hours every other month to use their weapon like it was supposed to be used. What about practicing what you learned? What about sustainment training? Nope. These same ranges, though, would allow members to use their shotguns as the gods intended: unleashing violent, loud, and angry swarms of projectiles.

Every change I made to my shotgun had to be because it would make it do its job better and make mine a little easier. Over time, not only did my shotgun transform, but so did my take on what I could use to defend myself. Plastic parts were replaced with metal ones. MIM faded away and forged steel proudly took its place. Even the barrel and sights were replaced.

And I kept practicing. My time at the range was evenly split between various handguns in various calibers and with the same shotgun. All the while wondering what would I use to defend myself in my home and would that be enough? The obvious answer, of course, to the first part of that question is I would use what I would have on hand – the oldest rule in a gun fight, after all, is to have gun. The second part of that question’s answer was more elusive. Could I rely on a shotgun to get the job done when the AR15 world seemed to answer with a resounding, “NO!” That caused doubt. And that doubt began to infect my thoughts and, worse still, to drain my confidence.

Differences between the now-dominant AR15 platform and my seemingly retro shotgun would keep me up at night. Differences in capacity, length, split times, effective range, load types, and manual of arms – differences every reader of this site has grappled with in the past.

The AR15 is the weapon of the military and our country’s increasingly militarized police forces for a reason, right? For every professional shotgun training class, there are dozens more for the AR15. What was I missing? I started to worry that everyone else at the range would think of me as a child doing its best to mimic the adults in the room. But then I let all of that go and fell back in love with my shotgun.

Would I ever have to use the shotgun outside of my home to defend myself or others? Would I ever have to engage an enemy at over fifty yards inside my home? Even twenty five? Probably not. Are there scenarios in my head where I’d like to have a magazine fed weapon with less felt recoil? Of course there are – I am not blind the AR15’s advantages. In fact, I’ve tried my best to outfit my shotgun with some its brother’s accessories, among them a great sling meant for AR15s and the unequaled Aimpoint T-1.

Is there anything wrong with using an AR15 to defend yourself? Of course not! But isn’t there something inherently wrong and discomforting about only being able to practice with the AR15 chained to a bench or with its speed limited to one shot every couple seconds? There are no limits in a gun fight despite what the range dictates.

Even the staunchest supporter of “America’s rifle” has to admit that the sudden and forceful introduction of eight to nine roughly thirty-two caliber pellets into a bad guy’s chest sends a clear message. At this point in my life, I am unable to become as proficient as I want with an AR15 weapon based on my location. One day I will live next to a more enlightened range or at least one with taller berms. When that happens, I will have to sit down with my shotgun and have a long chat.

For now, all of my confidence is squarely rooted in handguns and especially in my shotgun. That confidence comes from training I’ve received and, more importantly, from my ability to go and shoot it the same way I’d shoot it to protect myself. My shotgun is not going anywhere.

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  1. “introduction of eight to nine roughly thirty-two caliber pellets into a bad guy’s chest sends a clear message.”

    – or – even a .308 from 700 yards away, try that with your shotgun… No disrespect but each gun has its purpose.

    • But very few of us will ever need to aim at a target 700 yards away. I think that’s the point – for home defense scenarios, the shotgun’s close-range stopping power serves a much more practical purpose than the AR’s higher rate of fire and longer range (though the capacity, of course, remains a huge advantage).

      Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to buy an AR-15. Actually, scratch that – what I really want to do is build one from a parts kit. But both building it and shooting an AR would be primarily for recreational purposes – for a practical home defense tool, the shotguns makes sense for far more people.

    • I have my ‘tacticool’ stuff, but for home defense nothing beats a 12G shotgun!
      8 rounds of #4 please.

  2. I do not understand. One of your key points is the lack of capacity due to range rules to use your rifle mobily. How is your shotgun any different? Is a shotgun not a firearm intended to be used while on the move?

    • I believe what he’s trying to say is…:

      At his range he’s able to walk around and move-while-shooting with his shotgun.

      His range does not allow that with rifles.


      maybe? I think

      • So? Buy the range, change the rules, GET RICH! What’s the problem? Either the rule makes sense, or you can make more money than the current owner can.

      • I fail to understand what range would forbid walking around with an AR but allowing it with a shotgun. The risk factor is no different.

        • If you go rapid fire and pop a few rounds over the berm with an AR, they won’t come down for a mile or more, and will still have enough energy to cause serious injury or death when they do. A shotgun, by comparison, looses velocity in a hundred yards. So if there is anyone at all downrange within two miles, a range operator has to be concerned about AR operators, and not so concerned about shotgunners.

        • Uh, no, it is vastly different.

          Even a load of 00 buck will peter out long before it gets to 1,000 yards. The smaller the shot size, the less the max range of the shot. By the time you’re down to commonly used birdshot, the max range is under 300 yards.

          Rifle bullets, launched at too high an angle, can easily exceed 2,000 to 4,000 yards before they come down.

        • I once took a personal protection handgun course on a combat range across a pond from trap shooters busting clays. We were occassionally rained on with bird shot to only our minor annoyance. I don’t think I would have felt comfortable if it had been buckshot, but we were definitely within lethal range of a stray 0.223Rem.

        • OOops. I concur. I’ve been working indoor and with very high backdrop for too many years, the range difference I didn’t consider. Although I did account for the possibility the rule might make sense.

    • Yeah if you have a range that is so restrictive that they wont let you properly train, ie, the “no rapid fire bs” ranges, then you need to find another range. If theres not one, then save up your money and buy some land. Those ranges are horseshit and I refuse to shoot at them. Here in GA I don’t have a problem, they let me shoot however the hell I want anywhere I go here. But I’ve been to a few places up north that I’d basically leave right after getting there because they were such range Nazis.

      • There’s a good chance those ranges up north that restricted rapid fire were trying to discourage assholes that haven’t taken the time to learn to shoot from destroying the target stands or shooting over the berm. If you can shoot accurately enough to keep it on paper without chewing up the framework then no problem, but no range operator needs grief from their neighbors because of a few tactical mall ninjas with no respect for their club.

      • Yeah, shotguns are good. I don’t have one, can’t spare the time to shoot one, but they are good, and I can imagine a dozen scenarios wherein I would run out and buy one. I used to LOVE skeet, but that was 30-50 years ago.

  3. If the budget and state laws allow, why not have both. This is America! Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

    Good article.

  4. I love rifles. Every damn one of them. But in the future, if I have to defend my person or my home, I’d prefer to use a 12 gauge. I’ve lived in some very big homes, but never have I lived in one that was 500 yards long. I have been braced on the street, but never at 500 yards. Or 100.

    That’s not to say that I don’t own an AR15. I certainly do, and I may soon buy another. The one I have is a fun range toy. But my home defense wall-leaner is a shotgun.

    • I think you mean the home defense locked-in-a-safe-or-having-a-trigger-lock-while-being-unloaded firearm is a shotgun. Massachusetts fucking sucks.

      • Uh, yeah, absolutely, that’s what I meant, fer sher. Because I would never violate MA’s hideous rules. Nuh-uh. Not me. Especially since the MA courts ruled that 2A was not incorporated and therefore not applicable to the states, so the Heller decision was inapplicable to the Commiewealth.

        Of course, that was before McDonald. But still. It’s the Commiewealth. We don’t need no steekin’ Constitution.

        • Oh, me neither. I would certainly never keep my revolver loaded by my bed, It’s always secured by a cable lock with the ammunition in a separately locked device.

    • Interesting. My wall leaner (as you say) is a 5.56 AR, soon to be a .300 Blk SBR, but my backup is a M1A NM in .308. That bad boy will kill your freakin’ CAR, if I am not yet certain I need to kill you. Picture, bad boy, do your worst and then discover your engine has a few holes through it. All the WAY through it! Where you gonna run to now?

      • What is that bad man’s car doing in your living room?

        BTW, if I were to wing a couple of shots at the BG’s car while he’s making his getaway, he’d get out of prison before I do.

        • IF the end of the lane/car is more than 50yds you need a different tool that a shotgun. I’m going with a AR in 308.

          School of thought that the 5.56 has less friendly fire issues from overpenetration of drywall that 12ga slugs of buckshot (as bullet will tumble/dump most energy trying to go thru a couple layers).

        • Ralph, If that’s the case, you live in the wrong state. And as the backup, the .308 is on the third floor, the one with the deck which overlooks the driveway. From 30 ft up. IOW, like I said. Point is, everybody’s circumstance is different.

      • If someone’s car needs a good disablin’ I figure my Mossberg 500 and a couple Brenneke slugs will take care of that.

  5. I use a shotgun because it’s what I’m familiar with. For 39 years I’ve shot oh I don’t know really well over 100 deer with them.

    Many well over over 100 yards,many on full out dead runs. I run A couple hundred slugs just prior to the season. It’s what I know ,it’s natural ,it’s instinct really.

      • Actually happened to a fella I know, while he was out on a hike. Sadly he only had his pistol with him, so was unable to return fire. All he could do is take cover and wait until the attacker ran out of ammo / lost interest.

        • So he survived without the rifle. I fail to see what difference having a rifle would make then. I guess he could shoot blindly into the woods in the general direction that the shots were coming from. I don’t see that as a good self defense strategy. The argument for owning a high powered rifle for defense should be centered around defending freedom from tyranny rather than from a criminal.

    • Not necessarily but how are you going to detect someone at 700 yds. While they’re shooting at you. Then once you find them you have to range them and make a 700 yd shot cold.

      Good luck.

      Better course would be to take cover and call someone with more guns, more friends and armored vehicles.

      • Calling someone to take over for you is a great plan, assuming they are not all dead or dealing with the onslaught of zombies and unable to respond. Otherwise, 3-9X scope on semi .308 with 20 rd mag, will give the attacker a run. And yes, from my 3rd floor, I can see 700+ yards thru about 180 degrees of arc. And yes, I have lots of long-range ammo.

  6. Quote from above article: “The AR15 is the weapon of the military and our country’s increasingly militarized police forces for a reason, right?” end quote. What are you talking about? The AR-15 is not and never has been the weapon of the military. The M-16 and then the M-4 have been but the AR-15 is a semi-automatic civilian rifle. Stop, stop, stop the card tricks…

    • 5.56mm/.223 is the round …… LIke that better?

      Not the “best” round in the world but quite acceptable in a great many scenerios. I think the .308/7.62 x 51mm is a better choice.

    • The M-16 and the M-4 are assault rifle versions of the AR-15. The AR-15 itself was originally created for military use, designed as a scaled-down version of the AR-10, also designed for military use.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought some of the very first rifles that the Military fielded in Vietnam were marked AR-15.

  7. I own shotguns and ARs I much prefer ARs. Much more versatile and much higher round count. I can run 1000 rounds a day in training and not destroy my shoulder. I can give it to my young son or wife and they won’t be scared of the recoil. they will even train and practice with it due to its low recoil. I can run a short gun, with or without a suppressor.

    An AR will shoot 1 inch to 300 yards without needing to change ammo. I may easily face 4-legged or 2 legged varmint at my door or at 100yards away. Anyone want to buy a few shotguns?

    • In Vietnam (AF, not engaging enemy on the ground) I managed (long uninteresting story) to have two days out of three where I headed for the area to blow off ammo with my own 820+/- rd ammo can, once with stripper clips and once with boxes. I shot around 1650 rounds in 2 days, with one day in between, and had no problem. BTW, I doubt 10% were fired full auto, it is inaccurate and actually boring once you get past the unobtanium. You can shoot the 5.56 forever, and it is fun forever. The .308, not so much. Seems the same, except you have to keep adjusting your position, until the ache starts. ARs completely rock. But, shotguns ARE good.

  8. Nothing wrong with an 870! Mine is next on the bill for some aftermarket work. But honestly, get yourself somewhere with a range that doesn’t have so many rules. Once you get used to an AR-15 you will be amazed at what you were missing out on.

    Always keep the 12g though. They are always a fun range weapon, and a valuable tool.

      • Maybe they have a lead cleanup issue, or someone was coming into the range, destroying rifle backstops with 00 loads.

        That’s an issue at our local range – people coming in on the rifle or pistol ranges and wrecking the target frames and back boards with buckshot.

  9. No firearm thats semi auto ever hit the arms of a combat infantryman, I also say not all people can handle 12 gage recoil. The semi auto AR-15 is recoiless as we all should know, making it much easyer to deploy if your a 90lb soaking wet female, or older person. Or like me 4 and almost 5 tours over in the sand box with the 82nd. Till A IED sent me home a little sooner. I personaly was issued at the begining a M16A2 with a M203 40mm grenade launcher. It was later replaced with a Colt Carbine, than a Colt M4. The M16 was semi, and full auto, the carbine was as well, the M4 was 3 round burst and semi. To be perfectly honest I only used full auto a couple of times when laying suppression fire to move. The other issue withe shotguns is over penetration of the target. Can be very messy in apartment buildings, or in homes with multiple occupants. There is birdshot and less lethal though. If you get a light weight bullet 223 with an expanding ballistic tip, it will, in most cases penatrate less than most center fire pistols with ball ammo. Thats whats great about the US, you can have your thoughts and choices, and all of us as well! Just 2 cents, and thats not much with are economy!Lol

    • I have heard the burst capability completely screws the semi trigger, as in one out of three rounds the trigger works right. A problem semi/full auto does not have.

    • “No firearm thats semi auto ever hit the arms of a combat infantryman”…. Huh?

      I think the M-1 Garand, M1941 Johnson Rifle, M1 Carbine, M-14 (99% of which had the selector locked out) and many others would happen to disagree with you.

  10. Every gun has its purpose. I have an AR and I have a shotgun. I like both. The AR is more fun at the range… mostly because there are zero ranges around me that allow shotguns. Yeah, it makes me mad. But we’re also running out of places to shoot rifles. Anyway. I have the shotgun ready for home defense. I use the AR for shooting matches and having a good time at the range. Same as many of my other rifles. They all have value and purpose. I didn’t want an AR for the longest time, either. Then I realized they were fun. But “fun” is something different to everyone.

    • I have to give the fun factor to the shotgun. I can handle the kick of the 12g but the wife dosen’t think it is too fun. She enjoys what she can do with the scatter gun but she prefers the recoil of the 5.56. The best compromise if you go with one defense weapon for the entire family would be a 20 g. Not quite the damage of the 12 g but still twice as powerful of any hand gun you might consider.

    • I have to give the fun factor to the shotgun. I can handle the kick of the 12g but the wife dosen’t think it is too fun. She enjoys what she can do with the scatter gun but she prefers the recoil of the 5.56. The best compromise if you go with one defense weapon for the entire family would be a 20 g. Not quite the damage of the 12 g but still twice as powerful of any hand gun you might consider.

    • I have to give the fun factor to the shotgun. I can handle the kick of the 12g but the wife dosen’t think it is too fun. She enjoys what she can do with the scatter gun but she prefers the recoil of the 5.56. The best compromise if you go with one defense weapon for the entire family would be a 20 g. Not quite the damage of the 12 g but still twice as powerful of any hand gun you might consider.

    • I have to give the fun factor to the shotgun. I can handle the kick of the 12g but the wife dosen’t think it is too fun. She enjoys what she can do with the scatter gun but she prefers the recoil of the 5.56. The best compromise if you go with one defense weapon for the entire family would be a 20 g. Not quite the damage of the 12 g but still twice as powerful of any hand gun you might consider.

  11. Um, this article is WAY off base. The US Military does not use the AR-15. It uses the M-16. These are two entirely different weapons. They *look* similar, but their functionality is entirely different. These sport weapons have been in homes and been sold since they were first developed. It didn’t become popular because of the war, they were already popular sport weapons. It has always been a common theme that our citizens arm themselves with similar, if not the same, weapons as our military from the inception of this nation to today. I’ve never seen a rifle range that didn’t allow an AR. What you are saying makes NO sense unless you are conflating it with the fully automatic M-16.

    • Uh, which “war” are you talking about, I liked the AR after being introduced to the M-16 in 1969. You are saying nobody learned about them because of “the war”, they were already popular? I’m thinking you are misinformed, millions of us learned what the AR was capable of in military training, 40+ years ago. Let me tell you about “training”. I had people tell me, who had fired them, that M-16 bullets were triangular, and that they tumbled in flight, that is why they are so deadly. After my training, I knew both of those were bullshit, since I had seen the bullet and the barrel (not triangular) and fired at a target far enough away that it would be impossible to hit with a tumbling bullet. Total BS.

      So, once IN Vietnam, I’ve got a roomie who INSISTS that he has read that an AK-47 can fire M-16 ammo, but an M-16 cannot fire AK-47 ammo. Now, I know you guys know better, but bear with me. I pull an AK round out of a mag I have handy and set it on the desk. I pull a 5.56 out of the mag in my rifle, and set it on the desk. Dozens of you have done that, or can do it right now. I said “look! How could that cartridge be fired in a chamber cut for that?”. He said, “I don’t care about that, it is true.” Think about it. Some people are beyond our reach, and this was an Air Force Pilot who had to FIGHT his way into a combat job, just like I did. Yet he knew nothing of firearms and had been trained to believe PC nonsense instead of his own eyes. We are in a lot of trouble, and that was 1971.

    • Oh, brother….

      The AR-15 is not “entirely different” from the M-16.

      And, by the way, there’s not many units today using the “M16” … since you choose to try to get technical, you may want to get your nomenclature straight. As of 2010, the U.S. Army is supplementing the M16 in combat units with the M4 carbine, which is itself a shortened derivative of the M16A2.

      OK, so anyway….

      No, they are NOT “entirely different.”

      One is capable of fully automatic fire, the other is not. They are in every other respect virtually identical.

      And, as for being used before the war, what war?

      They were brought into service in 1963 in the military and only later as a semi-automatic “sporting” rifle.

      • The AR-15, originally an automatic, first saw service in 1959. Armalite sold out to Colt that same year. It’s my understanding that the AR became a semi-automatic sporting rifle after Colt sold the US military on the automatic version and rebadged it as the M-16 in 1963.

        “Semi-automatic AR-15s for sale to civilians are internally different from the full automatic M16, although nearly identical in external appearance. The hammer and trigger mechanisms are of a different design. The bolt carrier and internal lower receiver of semi-automatic versions are milled differently, so that the firing mechanisms are not interchangeable. This was done to satisfy United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) requirements that civilian weapons may not be easily convertible to full-automatic.”

        • The ballistics of the two weapons are the same. The magazine capacity is the same. The manual of arms is largely the same. One has automatic fire while the other is semi-automatic. That does not make them completely different.

        • “The bolt carrier and internal lower receiver of semi-automatic versions are milled differently, so that the firing mechanisms are not interchangeable”

          Not true for some years now. I have 3 bolt carrier groups which are fully interchangeable with select fire, in fact the entire uppers can be switched onto a select fire lower in seconds and function without alteration. When someone claims that these rifles are “completely different”, they obviously have never field stripped and cleaned one of each. There is a separate mechanism collocated with the trigger group which allows full auto fire, and the stripped lower is different in that it is drilled for pins to hold those additional parts. Essentially EVERY other part is interchangeable, except in a limited number of rifles built by Colt specifically to prevent conversion. That requirement by ATF was dropped long ago, every bolt carrier you order today will be the full auto version unless you specify the semi only version, which you must if you have one of those Colt lowers (I do).

  12. Regardless of what or how I’m shooting, I refuse to do business with ranges that don’t let you shoot properly.

  13. Guess I’m lucky enough to have 4 different locations, including one range, at which I can move around freely and fire my ar 15 and anything I own, nfa weapons included, as fast and freely as I like.

  14. He’s trying so, so hard to convince himself he should not buy an AR.

    You know he wants to.

    He knows he wants to.

    Let’s just get his wife to buy him one for his next birthday, or Christmas.

    That will solve everything.

    But, “E” for effort.

    : )

    By the way, the AR was in common parlance well before the war in Iraq, even the very first one.

  15. My answer to AR, a AK. If I want to shoot past 250 and still have some energy I will use a .308 and maybe an AR10 but not my first semi .308 choice. The only worthy .22 is a 5.7 in handgun. For rifle anything under a 30 cal is just silly. AR’s have become popular culture, before the last gun ban scare and the full blown marketing of the AR not many owned them. Now even the most clueless gun owner has one or two, and many have yet to even shoot one even though they own one. I’d almost get rid of my glocks for being so mainstream if it wasn’t for their excellence. As for shotguns, if you ain’t hunting birds they belong in a museum like revolvers do. While they are a devastating and intimidating weapon they are very limited.

    • Yeah you cant argue shotguns belong in a museum in the least bit. There’s still a great need for them on the battlefield. They are not just great for urban combat but for a time while I was in, our designated flanking element all carried shotguns, and when they flanked, got close, got online, and advanced towards the enemy all unloading buckshot it was certainly a sight to see. It was an extremely effective tactic.

      • What unit where you in that had a entire flanking element carrying shotguns. And did you ever actually test that in combat?

    • Wow you were looking for some hate with that statement. Shotguns depending on load are good for Buck, Hog, Duck, Turkey and home defense. Actually there is almost no game in North America I can’t bring down with a shotgun. Some areas of some states like FL and GA will not allow hunting with a rifle because housing developments are too near. Shotgun only in those areas. Revolvers are still widely used today because they have some advantages. Can you take your autoloader and shoot two or 3 cartridges through it without changing the barrel and magazine? I can shoot .38 Special and .357 magnum through mine. If you happen to have a .460 you can shoot .454 casull and .45 LC.

      Point here is that he prefers his shotty to the AR because the ranges where he is restricts rifle use while they allow shotgun use freely. For every job there is a tool and his preferred tool is a shotgun and there is nothing wrong with that. That’s why this is ‘Merica to each his own.

      He certainly wasn’t trying to tell you what to use, just expressing his love for what he chose.

  16. thank god i live in maine, were the range is my backyard and any thing goes
    (including the .50) and the neighbors dont care because they shoot too.

  17. Stopped reading when he said no range within 5 hours allow moving while shooting a rifle.
    Go find a 3 gun match.

  18. I have a shotgun. I don’t have an AR. I want one. I also understand I will have to go MANY MILES to practice. There are NO ranges within 50 miles that allow AR’s. I don’t hunt, never going to compete in 3 gun & mainly care about defending myself& my loved ones. I still want one. That being said I believe there is nothing better than a shotgun loaded with 00buckshot orslugs for home defense.

    • No one doubts a shotgun’s ability to immediately put down an attacker at close range. The main drawbacks in my opinion are recoil, the deafening report indoors, and limited capacity as others have noted.

      I really like the author’s position however. The bestest, fanciest firearm in the world is useless if you cannot hit where you are aiming. Given his/her apparent lack of training locations, I would go with a shotgun as well.

      For those of you considering a shotgun for self-defense, consider a 20 gauge shotgun rather than a 12 gauge shotgun. The 20 gauge has less recoil. However the 20 gauge does not deliver 9 pellets of #00 buckshot. Of course none of that matters if you use slugs: a 20 gauge slug will stop someone just as quickly as a 12 gauge slug.

  19. All that’s fine and dandy main and only real reason to switch is to limit possible injury if a round hits dry wall there are a few types of ammunition for 223/5.56 that will do great on a bad guy and crumble in dry wall not so for any other round do to the 223/5.56’s weight and velocity

  20. The author used a lot of words to make himself feel better because he doesn’t own an AR-15. Can one really write an article about how much better one gun is than another if you only own one of the two being compared? Yes, but only on the internet.

  21. +1 rev. There’s a reason we won WW1…it’s called a trench gun. It worked so well the Huns wanted to execute our doughboys for war crimes. (This from the folkks who brought you poison gas).

  22. I love my pistol for protecting my self, I love my 12 ga for protecting my home, but the author of this article should understand the importance of the modern musket. Whether you have an AR, AK, SCAR, Tavor, ACR, ARX100, or a tried and true Springfield M1A, it IS a great idea to have one, for resisting tyranny. Remember folks, the 2nd Amendment was written so we could resist and defeat DOMESTIC TYRANNY committed by our own U.S. gov’t. My Mossberg 930 tactical is there so I can bump back, when things go bump in the night. But if we end up seeing goose stepping jack boot DHS thugs kicking in doors and shooting out golden retrievers to keep us safe from “the enemy”, I would much rather have an AR (if I could afford one). It seems to me the author of this article is playing for the wrong team.

  23. Aiming down the hallway or at the bedroom door? Shotgun, hands down.
    Clearing a house? Questionable; who, how many, where, proximity to family members, etc.
    Still, I’ve got 3 shotguns and 1 AR. I’d take the 12 Ga Mav 88 pump and give my wife the AR. Honey, put that laser on the bad guy and pull the trigger until he stops. But like you say; grab what you know.
    I have a 20 Ga 870 that I’d taken to the skeet range a week before a 10pm false alarm on the security system. In those 20 seconds my 870 was an extension of my body and rock solid. A point of pride; even in the confusion, with a round ready my finger never came close to the trigger.

    • I’ve got one of those ‘MAV 88’s” I’ve had mine at least 15 years and it has served me well. It lacks refinement and it’s sure not fancy, but it will pump a nice spread of shot down range as fast as you care to go.

  24. Shotguns are effective. ARs are effective.

    Use which ever you prefer, both will serve you well during a bump in the night.

    But, let stop with this 700 yard business. I think it would be safe to say the average person on here right now is not currently dropping tangos in the Stan.

  25. Most guns and ammunition used by civilians are military in origin.

    The 12 gauge shotgun is a weapon of the military, has been used since WWI.

    The Remington 700 hunting rifle is used by the military and law enforcement as a sniper rifle in the form of the M24 and M40.

    The .45 caliber pistol and 9mm pistol are used by the military and law enforcement

    Semiautomatic rifles with detachable box magazines were available for civilians before the military started using them.

    Range-wise, a brand-new indoor range that allows AR-15s (even has them for rent!) and all other guns just opened up a few months ago ten minutes from where I live. Only thing they do not allow is shot in the shotguns, because of how the pellets spread, but there are some outdoor ranges I believe around here. The trouble it seems is most of these seem to be clubs that require participation and getting approved and all that. I just want a range that I can go to and shoot at, not join a club. But at least I have the indoor range.

    • Similar situation where I live. Brand new state of the art indoor range nearby, and lots of outdoor club ranges. Other than on bad weather days in winter, I can’t see paying range fees to shoot a maximum distance of 19 yards. I’ve always enjoyed shooting but it got a lot more fun when I joined a local club and made friends with other shooters. In fact just this weekend, we had an informal 100 yard AR match. This, even more than the political statement of owning one, is the main reason I even became interested in an AR. You might want to rethink your aversion to joining a local club.

  26. Interesting in that my situation is almost reversed with regards to range rules. The state ran unpoliced range near me in MO allows for you to move and shoot your modern sporting rifle or handgun. However, is has a nice little sign saying “no shotguns.” This is due to the wear that shotguns produce on the state provided target hangers. Because of this I own a Benelli M4 shotgun, but rarely shoot it other than hand tossed clay targets.

  27. This was definitely a fun article. As much as I love ARs, my Mossberg 930 is now my home defense gun ready in my safe. My 870 is also loaded, but I like the Mossy better. I’ll use my Glock .40 (27,23, or 35) to get to the 12 gauge. Buckshot and CQB are quite the combo.

    The AR is definitely my go-to for patrol in most cases, and the 5.56 is less than stellar at 600 yards. The .308 is better, and the .338 is better yet.

    • “Buckshot and CQB are quite the combo”

      Sure if you hit the target in the middle of the torso or head its game over and the tough identification process begins.

      That said at close ranges the spread is very minimal, point being its basically like a big pistol round (speed wise). For the gun is this blog post the follow up round is layered with recoil and having to rack the round. Practice makes perfect with anything, especially racking a shotgun. You need deliberate, quick racking motion or you will run into troubles and the shotgun will be a club in a close encounter.

      • Or if you hit him in the arm, shoulder, foot. knee. leg, gut…compairing the shotgun to a large round handgun is ludicrous. The 20g is twice as powerful as a 44mag and a lot easier to aim.

  28. I shoot on my own private range. There are no restrictions. At household distances I believe an SMG is the king of the battlefield, but I believe the 12 gauge shotgun is queen. If, like me, you’re not willing to lay out the dough and wait forever to have an SMG of your very own the shotgun gets promoted. A flash sight picture on a BG moving across a hallway is enough to put so many pellets in him that it’s likely the last conscious thing he ever does.

    The effect of a 00 or 000 load on a human through an 18 or 20 inch barrel with a cylinder bore at ‘inside the house’ ranges is either heartening or sickening, depending on your perspective.

    The recoil of a 12 gauge doesn’t lend it’s self to rapid follow up shots but the area effect and massive damage it’s capable of make the likelihood of a follow up shot being necessary pretty low.

    My shotgun isn’t actually my go to gun for home defense, despite my high opinion of them. A handgun is my go to piece, what ever I was carrying that day in fact; XDs-9, 1911, G-19. . . I know either my AR or my shotgun is more effective but since I respond to noises in the dark, walking around with a pistol and flashlight is ever so much less paranoid than picking up a long gun.

    I know one trip of the trigger on my M500 will deliver 15 .32 cal pellets at something about 900 FPS. I know this is devastating. I also know that I investigate noises in the night with a pistol in one hand and a flashlight in the other, even though I have an AR with a mounted light and an M500 with a mounted light. 10,000 false alarms have taught me to pack light.

    • The SMG lost that being the king a while ago. My Mk18 is roughly the same size give or take a inch as my MP5SD. Better round and more reliable, and way better ergonomics. And you don’t need a 18-20 inch barrel to get the best terminal ballistics from a shotgun, don’t remember the numbers but a shotguns burn all the powder much quicker than 18inches.

  29. 30 cal Carbine, M1 with soft points for me as self defense and I own shotguns and an AR-15. Jim Crillo of the New York stakeout squad said it was better than a shotgun and he survived 17 gunfights.

    If you read about the FBI guys that were slaughtered in Miami, one of them took a round in his left arm, leaving him unable to operate his pump shotgun.

    You still have to aim a shotgun for it to work. 9 shots or 30 for the carbine?

    • And if you read the whole story about the Miami shootout, you learn that the agent was able to rack the shotgun one handed and without that shotgun, they might have all been killed.

  30. Good post, Ross. There is a lot to be said for practicing with the actual firearm(s) you would most likely have to use if God forbid you had to defend yourself in your home. I rely on a shotgun as my second line of defense (930 SPX with a red dot, rear site removed, a light and a ‘hasty sling’). But first line of defense, and much easier to grab (and employ), is a big 45 (FNX 45 Tactical with tritium sites and 15 rounds of HST). For home defense, this is ideal for me. That said, I love AR’s – but would not be the first thing I would grab inside my home. Really, if I would have to use anything other than the 45 (ie – the Shottie), I am in a world of shit anyway and would probably already be dead. If not, the Shottie would hopefully end the situation in my favor. But heck, don’t let all of that shy you away from getting an AR. They’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys! I use mine for competition and sport, but also not bad to have if for any reason things got REAL bad and have to defend the family outside of the home… or if you have a ranch, big property, etc.

  31. I grab my 870 with 00 to go outside and investigate when our animals are behaving strangely at night. Inside, I’ve got my 9mm and some large GSDs. Inside the house, I suspect the handgun will be a smidge kinder on the hearing.

    I suspect for the 700 yard threat, either it’d be too late to really do anything or it’s time to begin an evade process. Engagement, particularly at that distance, might be pretty hard to justify in a “hindsight is 20/20” court kinda way.

    To each their own, I guess.

  32. original article Sounds like something Anti AR from Feinstein and a Pro Uncle Biden! get a Shotgun, get real! I have never been to a range that allowed locked and loaded carry of any type of firearm! Most Wannabes think they can shoot a thousand yards no problem and also think a Shotgun is the Catch all end all because of Pattern spread which doesn’t start for a few yards! length of a Firearm is a consideration for any CQB, recoil is also a factor some people can shoot full house 12 Ga. all day long others not so much! any one can shoot an AR until they get tired or run out of Ammo! Penetration is a factor in enclosed spaces, don’t forget Ricochets either, all his blather is about nothing as he made his choice’s and now has to justify it too the world, I know more than you type he won’t know if he made the right choice or not until he steps in it!

    • All the trainers I have met, and I don’t mean private companies either, tell me that their go to guns for close in defense of a house are the MP-5 and/or a Benelli. When the threat comes at you from less 25 yards or less the AR is suboptimal.

  33. Too each his own. The 12 gauge will get the job done with buck shot at close range/home defense.

    That said I would grab my AR every single time before my 870 security. I don’t know of a case where the 870 excels? Maybe in a SHTF situation for hunting birds. In every other possibility in my mind the AR is better.

    I also don’t understand the point of the Aimpoint? Its a close range home defense gun or so you stated. A shotgun is probably the best “aim down the barrel” gun there is. My 870 Security is an older one now with the simple steel dot at the end of it. Shooting 00 buck shot out to 25 yards is a simple point a shoot. In a house is would be even easier. If you ever have shot clay pigeons enough you would understand the simple nature of the type of shooting (quick down the barrel). The Aimpoint would slow me down in your use case as I line it up. I can see the Aimpoint for hunting with slugs out of a rifled barrel on a 870. Making 50+ yard shots at deer.

    My 5′-2″ 105lb wife won’t shoot my 870 anymore. The recoil is too much. Racking rounds especially in a hurry is hit and miss for her. She loves shooting the AR.

    Also you need another range. I have never been to a range that made a distinction. The ranges I go to have “pits” that you can do pretty much anything you want, hand gun, shot gun, rifle. They also have long range bench areas. That said there is nothing better than some private property or national land that shooting is allowed on.

    • Yeah in its stock configuration (870 Security) you don’t need to really change anything. Practice with it, break it in real good, keep it clean and lubed.

  34. I love AR-15s, but I can still appreciate the superior performance of a shotgun at close range. Long range is another story. The real question here is: WHY DOESNT HE HAVE ONE OF EACH? There’s no law limiting us to only 1 long gun that I’m aware of.
    Buy an AR and then you’ll be good for both long and short range

  35. You Talkin’ To Me? I have 4 AR’s in variious configurations but they stay in the safe when at home. I have a brace of old Remington Model 11’s (another version of the Browning Auto 5) loaded with birdshot or 6’s for home defence. 4+1 shots semi-auto open bore and they will do some hurt.
    The AR is a medium range weapon one of my fav’s but in the house overpeneration and neighbors get in the way. If you chose long range then the AR-10 or HK-91 are what is necessary for reaching out and touching someone.
    In the house shotgun knows best….

  36. To quote bitch Hillary, “What difference does it make?” I like shotguns & rifles, revolvers and semi-auto pistols, hand grenades and flame throwers, L.A.W’s & claymores, M-1 tanks & MLRS. They are all fun to use.

  37. How about this my pistola at 1to 50 yds, my shot gun at 10 to 70 yds, my .223 from 30 to 150 yds, my .308 from CQ to 700 yds, now I have it covered, hee, hee, oh and my 50 out really far. Love the smell of burnt powder. Be safe out there and always watch out for the BG!


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