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Jeff Johnston at offers 7 Accessories You Don’t Want on Your Defensive Shotgun. They are: pistol-grip stock, collapsible stock, optics, plastic fiber-optic front sight, ghost-ring sights, saw tooth/tactical choke tube and sling. Wait. Ghost-ring sights?

I love my Benelli’s ghost-ring sights. They frame the target wonderfully. “It’s like cheating,” Nick says. So what’s wrong with ghost-ring sights on your home defense shotgun? Jeff says,

These things are great for slugs and for forcing you to crane your head high over the stock so any recoil that hits you feels like a punch from Sergey Kovalev. They are also notorious for getting hung up on anything that gets near your shotgun’s muzzle, due to sticking up a couple inches over the gun’s rib. Again, they look cool, but for home defense where slugs aren’t the best choice—they are an unnecessary and indeed detrimental accessory.


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      • Nothing wrong with having a less than lethal option. No sense killing a guy who only needs an attitude adjustment via skull fracture.

      • Be careful poking people…..I was poking fun at wife and she took me seriously….ended up with 4 rug rats

        • Yeah, I know what you mean. I ended up with a couple larvae myself. I poke fun at my Wife nowadays, but I had her spayed, so now it’s all good.

  1. I use a handgun for home defense. I know stopping power isn’t even close to a shotgun but it is what it is. My shotguns both have 28 inch barrels and I haven’t gotten around to buying 18.5s for either.

    • I’m with you. If I get a new field gun I will just put a slug barrel on my old one and call it a day.

    • Personally I don’t want a long gun for engaging an enemy that’s within 15′. You’re likely to need a free hand. Leave a plan to retreat to your long gun if 15 rounds of 9mm or 6 rounds of .357 magnum, etc. won’t do the trick, but odds are pretty slim that you’ll need it.

        • The word is ‘MAGNUM’.

          Even if you miss the bad guy’s ears will be ringing for a couple of hours. Of course, yours will be too though.

      • they say free hands are mportant, calling cops directing kids etc, i feel stoppin the threat in the most swift and effective manner is whats important. and thats buckshot…

        to each his own though

  2. I’ve had ghost ring sights on a Stevens 350-and I thought they were great. Now I have a Maverick88 7+1 and I’m leaning towards just hanging a light on it. That seems like a good idea for home defense especially with a 20″ barrel.

  3. There’s a Rob Latham YouTube vid on misconceptions about pistol sights which I won’t try to paraphrase here. Essentially, he says that many common notions about how to use your pistol’s sights are wrong. (Rob Latham is a top pistolero.)

  4. Home defense is about what you are willing to bet your life on, as Groucho Mark put it, “I could go on talking to you kids forever but it’s time to play ‘You Bet Your Life’.”

    Everything has pros and cons, do all the talking about the pros and cons and make your choice based on your individual circumstances including your skills/abilities. I don’t care what you choose– know why you made your choice.

  5. If craning his neck is a problem with ghost rings, why not add a soft or removable cheek rest? That would put his head in alignment with the sights, and also help with managing recoil.

  6. As someone that has gone bird hunting quite a bit, if I can hit a Dove at 35-40 yards going 45mph, a bead is more than adequate to engage a human inside of 25 yards.

    Maybe if you don’t have that experience you would feel the need for something more, however you should give the beat a try. For buckshot inside a house, it is really all you need.

    • This is what I thought. If I was putting together a shotgun I’d look at a tritium bead and that would be all.

  7. Have a Winny SX2 Practical Tactical that came with fiber optic front sight, v blade rear in front of cantilever rail for optics. Has worked well for just about anything. I put an old Tasco beer can red dot on it last year and killed a couple deer with it. I wish it did have ghost ring rear sight that would co-witness thru my red dot to the front sight. That would be ideal. Fun gun to shoot but it kicks the crap out of you with slugs.

  8. I’ve got ghost rings on my Mossberg 930 SPX, and a white bead and notch on my 870 with a breacher barrel. Both have 18.5″ barrels. My 870P at work simply has a bead and notch. Of the three, I’d rather carry the 930 going through backyards or on a felony stop. But I work for the government and don’t get to choose my guns and optics.

    If I had the choice I’d use ghost rings. Shotguns are pretty easy to aim.

  9. If I can hit a 4 inch disc flying 60 mph, 75 yards away with nothing but a front bead, then I think I can manage minute-of-bad-guy at 15 feet. Besides, if you aim for center mass and you’re a foot high or a foot low, the effectiveness of 00 Buck will not be hindered.

    Any good instructor will tell you not to aim a shotgun. You point it. You focus on your target and the front bead is just something in your peripheral vision (deer hunting with slugs is a different story).

    So… no. Ghost ring sights, buckhorn sights or red dots are nothing but an unnecessary distraction. However, if you haven’t done enough shotgunning to instinctively point it accurately, then maybe a shotgun isn’t your ideal choice for home defense.

    • Exactly. I have every confidence that I can hit something in my house as small as a housecat without ghost ring sights, a laser designator, whatever. I now hit clay birds without even thinking about them. All I can tell you is that I mount the gun, mash the trigger and the clay disappears.

      When you practice a bit more with a shotgun, you really find you might not even need the front bead. I’ve tested customer shotguns without a bead. Didn’t miss the bead on clays.

      Ghost ring sights are great for slugs. For every other purpose, they’re just more tacti-kewl dressing.

      • I’ve been told by other shooters (great shooters) at the trap range I go to that if you look at the barrel/bead you’ll miss the clay. I’ll admit that it’s true, I’ll look at the bead and miss but I don’t do that often though.

        I just shot a 24 last week, but 19-22 is more likely for me.

        As for sights on a HD shotgun… I’ll use a bead.

      • I’ve got extra 00 buck and slugs spare rounds on my buttstock. But, I’m a pessimist sometimes and would rather be over-armed than under armed.

    • You are hitting that four inch disc with a pattern of shot, not a 1.5″ mass of buckshot. Plus, you’re leading your target, swinging the gun…I don’t see it as a great comparison.

      One could argue: “Sights let e hit small point targets far away with my rifle. When I shoot a bullet at a moving deer 40 yards away (Hey, Pennsylvania boy here!)I always use the sights, so why wouldn’t I use the sights when engaging a home invader?”

      I’m pretty sure, though, that your engagement with a home invader will not mirror either the trap range or deer hunting–so, maybe we should discover what we can do with our shotgun in that situation?

      • Once you get to a certain level in trap/clay shooting, you might no longer swing. You might not even think about what’s going on.

        You literally just mount the gun/point it where it needs to be in one smooth motion, and mash down the trigger. Poof.

        When I started shooting shotgun sports seriously about 10 years ago, I practiced my swing/lead/etc. I’d have the sight picture “just so” and I’d work on making my swing smooth, following through. On a good day, I hit only about 50%+ of my shots. Coaches were standing over my shoulder, giving me critique on my swing, my mount, etc. Improvement was slow. For years, I was breaking 12 to 15 clays out of 25. Then my scores gradually worked their way up over a period of about two years, going to the trap range 2X/week and shooting at least three rounds each outing.

        At some point where I started breaking, oh, 19 to 21 out of 25 clays in a trap round, something changed. This was about four years ago. I no longer can remember swinging on half of my shots. As my level of success grew, so did the number of shots where I no longer could tell you what I saw, when I saw it, or how I was mounting/aiming the gun. After this mental change happened, suddenly I was breaking 24 or 25’s, and it kept on happening; singles, doubles, whatever. Suddenly it “clicked”.

        Today, I couldn’t tell you what I’m doing if you asked me to show you. I just mount the gun, mash the trigger, the clay disappears nearly all the time. I no longer really “see” a sight picture of the clay over the barrel. I see the clay before I mount the gun. The next thing I see is the powdered clay. Experienced trap shooters told me that this would happen if I kept at it, and that this “point shooting” development happens to quite a few shotgun shooters. Your gun has to fit at least reasonably well, and you need to quit messing around with chokes, if your gun has removable chokes.

    • The comment on slings was interesting. Having been looking to put one on the HD shotgun for years. May definitely reconsider. What I do have in, or actually on, an over the shoulder sling or belt right now are maybe 50 shells of mixed slug, (mostly) 00 buck, and bird shot, as well as another 5 in a carrier on the gun. If I have time, I will grab the sling with the extra rounds. If not, the shotgun is probably enough.

  10. I agree with the article’s take on the muzzle teeth and the stock/grip, but it seems like more of a preference issue. I’m not so sure about his take on ghost rings getting caught. Sure a blade is probably more likely to get caught than a bead, but what in an HD scenario would they get caught on? Indoor plants and window treatments? He admits the utility of a sling while saying “you don’t want one”, but surely the ability to keep the weapon on you if you need to use your hands for anything else is more important?

    I would sooner suggest not adding a heavy railed forend. And for the same reason maybe leave off the heat shield (unless you’re planning on using that muzzle like a bayonet).

  11. The critical thing for night use is a tritium front post. Failing that apply a bright nail polish to the front bead. Nothing wrong with ghost rings but in that scenario they are a tertiary consideration. Also, you need to be able to point shoot up close.

  12. Maybe shooter dependent?

    Fabarm SASS 12 has a ghost ring. I’ve shot one borrowed. The gun is ugly bitch of a pump, could, indeed, use a cheek riser, did not feel especially “pointable”, and the owner can probably bench-press twice my weight. But I had no particular trouble with recoil.

    What would bother me is either too much “ears”, or too thick a ring (like on a photo above the article). Ghost ring is all about dissapearing, not being HK-like drum, right?

  13. One of the shotguns we have has a ghost ring. It’s alright. The rest are just a bead up front. Personally I see no problem with either arrangement.

    In fact, I disagree with most of that article.

    Pistol-grip stock: Depends on the setup. It works quite well on a shorty like the JIC and in conjunction with an actual stock a pistol grip is a nice addition for one handed manipulation

    Collapsible stock: They work just fine. I have two in this configuration and they’re just dandy for blasting anything you might want to blast. The author might have a point about shooting 50 slugs or loads of 00 buck but how often do you do that in a home defense situation? Never. Further, I’ve found neither provides the problems he lists when firing a lot of rounds from the gun. Simply a non-issue.

    Optics: I’m failing to see the problem here. If the sight gets knocked out of zero who cares? You’re generally shooting at point blank in a HD situation anyway.

    Plastic fiber-optic front sight: Never used ’em, no comment.

    Ghost-ring sights: My wife’s M590A1 has a ghost ring rear and a blade front sight. Works just fine from point blank out to the max range I’ve shot it which is probably 60 yards.

    Saw tooth/tactical choke tube: Don’t have one. No comment.

    Sling: Again I disagree. Like an added pistol grip it can greatly assist you in manipulating the weapon (depending on type). It also allows you to do things that require two hands without relinquishing control of the weapon. If things really go sideways and you end up in a struggle it prevents the bad guy from taking the shotgun away from you. Can it get snagged on stuff? Sure but so can your shirt. Let’s be realistic here: out of 10 home invasions how many times are you going to try to grab a shotgun and clear the house by yourself?

  14. I read that and chuckled at his didactic sense of certainty. Since he finds it difficult to align his head with sights on a shotgun he will prescribe that no one should use them?

    I spend more time behind a rifle than I do wing shooting, but I love the factory ghost ring on my Mossberg 590. I find that I can get tightly-patterned buckshot on multiple targets faster with those sights than I can with my 870 riot run and its front bead. I’m comfortable using either as a bedside gun, but the 590s ghost ring sights make it my first choice as a trunk gun. I can shoot buckshot and slugs accurately to much greater ranges with it. If I had to follow-up a wounded bear I would grab that Mossberg on my way out the door. I shoot more confidently with the sights.

  15. You’d be surprised at how well people can shoot by point shooting, even those who have no firearms training. If you know how to properly press a trigger, anything you point aim center mass within 30-40 feet will get shot center mass; even more so when you have anywhere between 8-25 buckshot pellets going downrange. Sight aiming costs you crucial time during a CQC ‘life or death’ situation.

  16. What the hell is wrong with a sling and ghost ring sights on an HD shotgun? Does the author live in a brush pile where he is concerned about gear snagging on sticks and bushes? That article is rubbish. It’s no wonder why print magazines are going the way of the dinosaurs.

  17. I love them on my Benelli M4. Works just peachy. I’m also fine with the bead sights on my Rem1100 and Moss500.

  18. My only real question about ghost ring sights is will they slow your shot down in a home invasion? If you’re lining the sight picture up is it slowing down what might be the only shot you get?

  19. I keep thinking I should remove my Mossy 12-gauge’s recoil-mitigating stock now that I’m no longer bothered by long-arm shoulder thump. But I still like the looks of it and don’t care what some faceless innerweb entity thinks about it. My 20 gauge came with ghost ring sights, and I find them to be fine…again, not caring what some overwrought gun writer thinks.

  20. I wouldn’t put anything on my shotgun I’ve been staring down a vented rib since I was 8. I bet I can shoot a hell of a lot faster and just as accurate

  21. My HD shotgun has a 13in. barrel, a big-ass blade on the front, no rear sight other than a few grooves running down the receiver, and a lever for jucking more rounds into it. Accuracy? sub-MOBG from anywhere in my house to anywhere else. Added benefit with that short barrel & hot loads; if I don’t hit him, I’ll set him on fire with the muzzle blast. Win-Win!

  22. If you live in a densely populated area, precision sighting is a must. Ghost rings or red dots make it easy to hit your target an make it less likely that you will miss and your shotgun will over penetrate to your neighbor.

    Pistol grips make shotguns easier to handle on handed but make recook more painful. For those in California, they are not an option

    • I don’t know if that’s true. I’ve seen cruiser style and shoulder stock with pistol grip shotguns for sale and in use in CA.

  23. I mostly shoot rifles, and very rarely shotguns. So my shotguns are set up in a way that makes them more familiar for me. That includes some kind of front and rear sights to line up.

    I don’t care if bead is faster if you “do it right”. I don’t really care for shotguns, and I don’t see the point in “doing it right”, if what I do works for me just as well for my intended purposes (which is really just HD).

  24. I use both a bead and ghost rings. I guess I practice enough that I just hit what I want to hit with either. I also have night lights, so I don’t need a light on the gun.
    I don’t have a problem with “craning my head high enough” with ghost ring sights; I don’t know where that came from. Of course, I’m a big guy, 6’3″ and 300+ (OK, +300+) lbs, so recoil isn’t a problem. I HAVE shot 50+ 00 and slugs in one sitting, and no ill effects. I learned early on how to hold the gun to minimize recoil effects.
    My 500 came with both a pistol grip and a full stock, and I much prefer the full stock.
    The toothed barrel end is specifically for door breaching, which I just don’t do; if you think it looks cool, though, go ahead. I seriously doubt it will hurt, unless the length bothers you. I can use a 24″ turkey gun for HD, and maneuver just fine, so I really don’t think it would be a real hindrance on a 20″ or 18.5″ bbl.
    I have slings on some rifles, and find them to be a real help with off-hand shooting (especially with longer rifles, like a Mosin Nagant). I don’t have any on my shotguns.

    My situation may not be like everyone else’s, obviously. I find that with practice, you can adapt to just about anything. But practice is essential, especially when you bet your life on something. You need to have the muscle memory to enable you to aim/point effectively, even when under stress.
    I am not one of those who feels that shooting comes naturally; some of us have the knack to learn quickly, others don’t. Holding something that goes BANG! close to your head isn’t natural. Practice is essential. Stress training is very helpful. Those of us who have been in actual combat have had the best stress training available. Target shooting is tame, in comparison, but still essential.
    Thankfully, very few of us will ever have the need to use any firearm in an actual HD scenario.

  25. I have a Vang Comp tuned Remington 870 for work with a sling, Surefire forearm light, LPA ghost ring sights, side saddle, and stock pouch for work. The sights and sling have never bee a problem for me whether inside or outside, close in or 50 yards out.

    Regardless to each his own and Mr. Johnston has recent articles where a ghost ring equiped shotgun is used for illustrative and instructional purposes…

  26. Beads and fiber optic front sights are good for shooting trap and fowl moving through the air but also good for shooting stationary targets in competition tactical shot gun because they are faster than ghost ring sights. In these applications the shot patterns are often larger than eight inches. In defensive and combat applications the shot patterns would be smaller than eight inches and accuracy becomes more important than speed. As accuracy for shot placement for point of impact on point of aim
    with buckshot or slugs becomes more important then the more accurate ghost ring or rifle sights may be preferred on a shotgun. This would explain the prevalence of ghost ring sights on law enforcement shotguns and the recommendations of fighting shotgun trainers. In the end, if you train with good equipment it should work out what ever sighting system you use.

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