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“Nothing causes criminals to back off more hurriedly than does the presence of a shotgun,” gun guru John S. Farnham pronounced. “Shotguns scare people as do no other weapon.” And no wonder. When loaded with 00 buck or the new breed of self-defense shell, a shotgun is about as close to a “instant man stopper” as you can get. Even before all that sturm und drang, the sound of loading a pump action shotgun with that first shell should give pause to the most determined attacker. And yet cops are all swapping the scattergun’s combat distance devastation for “reach out and touch someone with a .22 (or ten)” AR. Millions of civilians have made the AR their “go-to” home defense gun. At the other end of the scale, a lot of fresh entrants into the world of concealed carry put their piece on the bedside table at night and call it good. Given their reliability and fearsome firepower, why have shotguns become the red-haired stepchild of armed home defense?

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  1. Guns go in trends. After Vietnam, all the veterans and their friends had a lot of pump shotguns in 12 gauge for home defense. Then, we sort of went into the magnum revolver craze. Later the super nine was king. Now it seems that high capacity pistols in .40 and .45 are the rage with the AR in 5.56mm being the hot long gun.
    In this game it is bet your life, and I use a Remington 870 modified Wingmaster for home defense.

    • Good point about the trendiness of different types guns. I also use a Remmy 870 Wingmaster with a 20 inch barrel (18″ would be better) and 00Buck for HD. I would recommend a pump shotgun, 12 or 20 ga, over any other type of gun for home defense. If one is worried about buckshot over-penetrating, then get some heavier-than-lead in number 4 shot (premium turkey loads) and your set.

  2. i hope the ksg helps…if it ever comes out. and if its reliable (ive heard some stories about keltec, but never shot one). it sure as hell looks cool, so if it works im on board

  3. Unless you’re into three-gun, the shotgun might not be as attractive to people because you stick it under your bed and that’s about it. A hunting or trap/skeet shooting does not serve well as a home-defense shotgun. In addition, you can’t carry your shotgun and you can’t shoot it at the majority of outdoor ranges. Your carry gun is more versatile from that perspective.

    While the KSG looks like a pretty cool shotgun and will certainly appeal to people who like modern tactical firearms, its price will probably be a big deterrent. From what I understand, it will cost three times as much as a basic 500 or 870.

  4. Basic 870 pump with an inexpensive flashlight. Mil spec 2-3/4 00 buck. I switched out the stock for a shorter one with a pistol grip but that’s it. I spent less than $400 total, so who cares about it’s versatility. I tested it during a farmhouse demo, penetrated one wall (2 layers drywall at point blank range) completely, but stopped in the wall across the hall. I wouldn’t use the 00 in an apartment,or if I had kids, but have no qualms in a detatched dwelling.

  5. I like a pump shotgun for HD. In fact, that is the only long gun I have in the house that has anything in the magazine (most of the rest of my long guns are .308, 8mm, and 7.62x54R, not a good choice for an apartment), I have my EDC which varies almost daily on the nightstand to get to the shotgun. I do keep the chamber empty, but that is to be remedied after I screw the muzzle in the BG’s ear. All kidding aside, I don’t want a full up load for it, but that has more to do with the reload count than anything else. Keep in mind that some one with a little bit of training can make a 12 ga with 00 buck a more effective suppressive weapon than an MP5 will ever be, same with even a burst capable AR. Just sayin’

  6. My SHTF gun is a Mossberg 500. The wife gets to shelter in the bedroom with the Glock and open up on anyone who makes it past me.

  7. The North Hollywood shootout showed the two weaknesses of the pistol and shotgun as the primary duty weapons. Specifically ranges greater then 50 yards and inability to penetrate body armor. With the increased awareness of a terrorist threat, law enforcement moves to address that weakness.

    As for home defense, people look to what law enforcement is currently issuing or what they know.

    And to paraphase Jeff Cooper, when asked what handgun would he bring to a gunfight, replied by stating he would bring a rifle.

  8. Cops are swapping their scatterguns for ARs because the AR gives them an advantage at distance. From about 25 yards in, the shotgun rules. From 25 out, the rifle is king.

    For HD, any shooting would be done at less than 25 yards (if your rooms are larger, please invite me for a visit), so you’d think that the shotgun would be more popular. I can think of a couple of reasons why they aren’t as popular as they should be. For one thing, recoil is an issue for a lot of shooters, and the shotgun has enough to be a problem when compared to a good pistol. Secondly, shotguns are long, heavy and, for the average Joe or Jane who shoots their shotty once or twice a year, awkward to handle and slower to deploy than the handgun with which they practice. See, I didn’t end the sentence with a preposition.

    Yes, I know that scientific tests have proven that BGs sh!t their pants 2.7 times faster when staring down the barrel of a shotgun than the barrel of a .45, but that’s not really the point. If someone is stupid enough to break into my home at night, then he’s stupid enough not to care what I point at him. I agree that the shotgun is a great home defense gun, but deep down inside I prefer the light, fast, easily deployable pistol. YMMV.

    • Superb points. My enthusiasm for a shotgun for HD waned when I actually tried to get around my house with shortish one (Persuader). Retention would be a nightmare. A pistol is just a lot more flexible.

    • Agreed that in the confines and corners of many homes that a handgun is far more maneuverable. A handgun can also be held in one hand if an adult needs to scoop up a child, speak into a cell phone, or open a side door to flee, etc. Depending on the situation, my home greeter long gun is a Stoeger SxS 12 gauge 36″long shotgun with dual triggers. My handgun is going to be either my 9mm with a 17 round magazine or a 357 magnum. I might be changing or adding onto the mix in the next several months.

      • A handgun can also be held in one hand if an adult needs to scoop up a child, speak into a cell phone

        Aharon, the Supreme Court said the same thing, namely that a handgun can be held in one hand while the homeowner dials 911 with the other. You should have been a judge.

    • “Secondly, shotguns are long, heavy and, for the average Joe or Jane who shoots their shotty once or twice a year, awkward to handle and slower to deploy than the handgun with which they practice.”

      Exactly where I’m at, although I def shoot my 930 more than once or twice a year. I know the 930 is ten times as potent but, I’m still more comfortable and confident in my abilities with my Glock.

  9. I keep my SIG 226 on the nightstand or under the pillow. Reason being that I can shoot that .40 with one hand and it naturally points and I don’t share my bed with a scattergun.

    I have a Mossberg 590 loaded with Federal 000 Magnum copper jacketed buckshot and 1 oz rifled slugs alternating in the tube. That I keep in the trunk unchambered. Why? Because the likelihood of me needing that sort of power to stop a creature is much more likely outside of the house. The range and weight advantages of the 12 gauge load versus a .40 is braindead simple but a long gun works better outside. If my car stops on a roadtrip and I run across a cougar the shotgun will shine a lot better. A wild animal or man armed with a long arm or several men are better dispatched with a similar weapon like a shotgun. Shootings in public places are more common and its easier to stack the odds in your favor anticipating your likely confrontation in each setting versus your personal abilities.

    In the house, if you haven’t trained to tactically pie your corners and done at least a little pugil stick style training to increase your retention odds if you get into a physical scuffle holding a two handed weapon the shotgun could get you in more trouble than it gets you out of.

    Pistols are easier to point and deploy much faster. During the day when you home carry you are unlikely to have your shotgun slung about your shoulder. Your pistol is on hand or in arms reach easily moved. My main issue with a shotgun for home defense is that during the day if you have others who live with you then you have to secure it in a semi accessible fashion and then leave it accessible while you sleep. I don’t have such an arrangement I could work out that be safe for my entire household. Pistol goes where I go and on my hip and beneath my pillow is secure enough.

    As often as I have to address security risks in my neighborhood its common to see me with handgun in hand but a shotgun would also worry my household needlessly if every time I had a crackhead or drunk knock at my door I fished up my trusty twelve from beneath the bed instead of a pistol next to my mouse.

  10. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had would-be robbers have a change of heart and run the other way after hearing me rack my Remington 870 6+1 18″ barrel (that I bought for a mere $150 years back). It’s been so effective that my wife, who hates the recoil of it, will grab it first and foremost in a questionable situation.

  11. I’ve got a lot of defensive options in my gun safe, but my 870 is the gun I would fight my way to if things got that bad. It’s quicker to get into action than any of my carbines; it has no safety or charging handle to mess with; just rack it and get ready to rumble.

    Anyone who doubts for a moment the effectiveness of a shotgun in close-quarters combat should read “Stressfire 2: Advanced Combat Shotgun” by our friend Massad Ayoob.

  12. For most of cy career a little Marlin 1894C .357 carbine rode in my county cruiser. It wasn’t instead of the issue shotgun, it was in addition to it. Why? With that carbine I could hit at two hundred yards, easily. Try that with a shotgun.

    Close up, the shotgun is better. I fail to see good reason for extended magazines, though. Few loads will keep the crimp through much use with those long magazines. Anyhow if you don’t have time to reload after five rounds you don’t need a gun, you need the 101st Airborne Division.

    My home defense shotgun, since I retired, is a short barreled hammer double. Loaded, with hammers down there are no springsunder tension. With some tape over the muzzles to keep the mud daubers from building a nest theoretically my great grandchildred could pick it up, ear the hammers back and get two blasts of buckshot. If that’s not enough the buttcuff holds five more.

    • “I fail to see good reason for extended magazines, though. Few loads will keep the crimp through much use with those long magazines.”I must respectfully but vehemently disagree. I’ve owned my 590 for 11 years and in that time I’ve shot hundreds of just about every round under the sun in its 8 round mag and have never had a round jump its crimp and until your post have never heard of the phenomenon. The bulk of those loads have been some flavor of 3” mag which to me, from years of hand loading magnum handgun rounds, would seem the litmus test for holding a crimp. Even some 10 year old heat worn Winchester quail loads stored in my Phoenix garage shot fine. If your argument is against multiple recoil cycles within the mag then that should be avoided as common sense anyway. For me any self-defense weapon is always loaded with fresh ammo thats never been through more than one mag/chamber feeding cycle or recoil cycle in the mag.As for the topic, my 590 is my HD weapon and if for some fantastical reason I needed to spill out into the street needing longer range my MAK-90 loaded with alternating ball and 8M3 Sapsan (for the hell of it) should to the trick. The 590 is long but the layout of my home affords me a single point of defense to cover all bedrooms plus all covered bedrooms are occupied by a phone and a family member that knows to use it.

      By the way, I really enjoyed your letter to Mitt. The only candidate as of now that I have any positive thoughts on is Cain despite the fact that he needs to recognize gun rights are a Federal right, not up to the states.

  13. The trend towards “Patrol Rifles” started after the 1997 North Hollywood shoot out and accelerated after Columbine and then 9/11. Why the latter, I don’t know.

    Some departments give their officers a choice of either or, some issue BOTH, and some (hello Boston) allow patrol officers NEITHER.

  14. The biggest problem with a HD shotgun is it’s not really any good for anything else. Yet, you need to be proficient with it if you’re ever going to use it for its intended purpose. If you don’t regularly participate in 3-gun, that’s not likely. Basically, you’re keeping one whole gun around for a reason you hope, never expect, and in all likelyhood, will never encounter.

    • Occasionaly, I use an 18″/8-shot 590A1 for quail and dove hunting. For dove, the 590 is limited to the first season because by the second season, the dove that are left are sufficiently spooked and a full-choke is needed to reach out that far. However, for first-season and for quail, the 590 is a fantastic gun and I love putting my engraved and walnut-stocked shotguns away for a while.

      Also, most HD shotguns make great deer-hunting slug-guns. With LPA sights, 590’s/500’s/870’s etc are certainly accurate enough. Throw a 4x scope or red-dot sight and and 100-yard shots are easy!

  15. The main concern with shotguns and rifles for home defense: How do avoid facing your own gun when you come home?

    For most people, a handgun that travels with them is the simplest solution.

    • How do avoid facing your own gun when you come home?

      That’s a fantastic point, Southerner. The only answer is a good safe, but the answer, while correct, in no way invalidates your point. When I walk into my home, I’m carrying. When I walk out, I’m carrying. And when I’m home . . . yup, I’m carrying.

  16. Can anyone here with some experience tell me why when you mention an AR-15 style rifle or pistol as a home defense weapon people go ape s**t. I personally have a PLR-16 and a Mossberg 930 SPX at hand anytime i’m home and I would be more inclined to take the PLR-16 for its compact design and light weight as the go to weapon for home defense.

    Aside from that I love my Mossberg 930 SPX and the reason its on my inventory is because I love to shoot and was only bought for home defense.

    • why when you mention an AR-15 style rifle or pistol as a home defense weapon people go ape s**t.

      Does that really happen? I’m surprised. My AR isn’t my first choice for home defense because I prefer a pistol, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a viable choice. Well, I have one objection. The AR is the loudest f^cking .22-class weapon in the history of the universe.

    • As Ralph said very eloquently; the AR is crazy loud @16+ inches. Downsize that to 10-12″ in an SBR or AR ‘pistol’ and it becomes unbearable just to be near. Lighting it off in an enclosed space without double-down hearing protection is almost unthinkable (auditory exclusion or no).

      I have a 10″ bbl ‘pistol’ with a linear comp. It helps push that pressure wave out at 45 degrees… but it ain’t perfect. Does help keep the fillings from rattling loose in your (and your shooting bud’s) heads.

      Only in the most dire of circumstances would I use an AR of any length indoors. Though I am under no illusion that my preferred FN TPS 12ga would be quieter than a 105mm Howitzer indoors either.

  17. If people are smart, you utilize both the handgun and the shotgun. They actually compliment one another. If at all possible, I would have the Wife and I pick a defensive anvil position with myself wielding the shotgun and her the handgun. The cell phone is valuable in getting a 911 call in and letting the LEOs be the mobile hammer in the situation.

  18. There are very few ranges in my area that allow shotguns, so since I don’t have much opportunity to train with one, I wouldn’t rely on one.

    I think its much more important to use what you’re comfortable with and not worry about the arguable benefits of one platform over another.

    • I hear you, brother! At my range, shotguns are for skeet only. It’s a large outdoor range, located out of town. Yet there’s only a very small alley next to the pistol range that you can use to “pattern” a shotgun. Absolutely no area to do any sort of self-defense style shooting with a short-barrelled shotgun. Bummer.

  19. I think the M4 trend among police is a response to the North Hollywood shootout. Better to have a rifle that penetrates armor than a shotgun that can’t. The post 9-11 paranoia and neocon induced fear climate contributes, too. Tooling up with machine guns eases the fear of a turban behind every corner. One must also look at certain predominant personality traits of police. Who becomes a cop? Usually someone who loves authority more than his fellow citizens. Usually the guy who wants to be tough without going to Basic Training and the Sandbox.

    • “Who becomes a cop? Usually someone who loves authority more than his fellow citizens. Usually the guy who wants to be tough without going to Basic Training and the Sandbox.”

      This is at least PARTIALLY true, especially of BAD cops — They’re the beta males who have convinced themselves that they are truly alpha males, and must therefore prove it to everyone whom they encounter.

    • I know a guy who wants to be a cop. He’s been through basic, and to the sandbox. To him, the appeal of being a cop is 1) it pays better than what he’s doing now, and 2) he won’t go for months without seeing his wife and kid.

    • The post 911 fear and paranoia crisis was taken advantage of by both political parties that together wrote and passed new laws stripping Americans further of our liberties and pushing us further along the road towards authoritarian fascism. Some cops love authority and power. Others see themselves as social workers that carry guns and do the dangerous dirty work.

      • USA Patriot Act was introduced by a traitor named Sensenbrenner (Neocon) and authored by the anti-White (also Neocon) Viet Dinh. Dinh has close ties to the Murdoch family. He facilitated the spreading of neocon propaganda whilst in the employ of News Corp.

        • He is a delusional one. The more recent versions of the Patriot Act were were written and initially introduced by liberal-progressive thinking Democrats, and supported by congressional reps of both parties.

        • I was a little hasty in declaring him a “neocon” but for all practical purposes he is a traitor for introducing the USA PATRIOT act.

        • Aharon. I’m not nearly as delusional as those who believe in the sky-fairy called “Jehovah.” Clearly both sides of the aisle supported it. It would not have passed otherwise. Obama approves of it too if I’m not mistaken. But the fact is, this anti-White, anti-Arab, anti-freedom act was the direct result of Republican/Neocon actions.

          • You, sir, are wrong. It wasn’t Republicans who came up with “To professionalize, you must Federalize.” A new department full of government union Bureaucrats was the Disloyal Opposition’s price for allowing the country to be defended.

    • Sounds like someone has had too many tickets. The fact that thousands of vets become cops sort of blows your theory out of the water.

  20. I love my shotgun. But it takes awhile to load, and keeping it loaded and out of reach of kids is tricky. An AR you can just slap a mag in. A handgun can go in a rapid access safe (or even just out of sight in a drawer). Rapid access safe for a long gun? I’ve never heard of one, nor would I want something so bulky decorating my bedroom.

  21. It’s much easier to shower and sleep in bed with a pistol holstered on one hip. Showering with the shotgun isn’t so bad, but sleeping with it slung across my back is really uncomfortable 😉

  22. The reason I don’t want to use a shotgun indoors is because of the noise and blast. Better hope you get him with the first shot, because you won’t be able to hear or see after it.

    Wouldn’t use a rifle either. Same blast and noise, now with a big helping of overpenetration.

    Pistol for me, thanks. One-handed operation, better retention, more maneuverability. Big, slow, hollow-points in the caliber of your choice.

    If price is no object, get a silenced .300 AAC BLK carbine.

    • If price is no object I think I’d go for an MP5-SD or ED-209( with the improved target recognition system of course).

  23. And there is nothing on this planet that reduces the rate of recidivism like a couple of rounds of 12ga #4 in the torso. just make sure they are in the house and dead.

  24. Cops should be training with rifles, shotguns and pistols. Each has it’s own set of uses and skill sets. Designate some marksmen for each shift. Let them carry rifles in the trunk of the patrol car. But give them shotguns. Shotguns come in handy for when the pistol may not be enough. Rifles come in handy when you have a need for long range shooting. And I tend to disagree with the old adage, “If you rack a round into your shotgun, the bad guys run away.” I think what it really does it alerts them to the fact that you have a shotgun and they should be a bit more careful as they plan to kill you. Keep a round in the chamber and just shoot them ferchristsakes.

  25. There are few things that sound as distinctive as a 12 guage pump being cycled. It would be an insane home invader/burgler who stuck around. Plus, #4 shot rounds are unlikely to wound your neighbors accidentally.

  26. Was at an indoor range when someone was firing a .50 action express. Sounded as though a piledriver was pounding the floor; displays on the walls shook when it went off. A 12 guage is orders larger in capacity than that pistol. And one heck of a lot louder. I’m talking the difference between a cherrybomb and a full stick of dynamite. An armed confrontation inside a house with a shotgun can leave you deaf as a doorknob for a while, if not permanently. Also; remember that at 15′ the pattern is only 5″ (approx) in size so you’ll still have to aim. Not to mention the problem with manuvering a long gun defensively inside the house. Long gun and a flashlight? You’ve just run out of hands.

    • Apparently, anona, you’ve never seen a $5 AA-Maglite hanging off a magazine tube/extension via an $8 ATI clamp…

  27. The only advantage a shotgun has over an AR is it’s limited range.

    And even that benefit is not so concrete: I read a study (somewhere) that found buckshot over-penetrates sheetrock worse than 5.56mm. In other words, you can shoot and miss someone in your house with a AR-15 and still not kill your neighbor.

  28. My concealed carry instructor told our class, “The only reason to get a concealed weapon permit is because you can’t carry a shotgun in public.”

  29. “A handgun is for fighting your way to the shotgun you never should have put down in the first place.”

  30. @davefla; Yes, I have. Even tried it for a while. I prefer to keep the light OFF and use it for a quick target id., rather than constant light,( used both a AA minimag or a AA Streamlight). Didn’t feel like being a self-indicating target. The either one with a remote switch leaves you with something to snag things with unless you use a muzzle up carry. And the streamlite is lots brighter.

  31. Back in the early 80’s an idea was floated in the DoD about a different weapon for service and support personnel. The thought was that a pistol didn’t have enough horse power for a real defense and the M-16 was too long and cumbersome for mechanics and so forth. One idea that circulated was something very similar to the Kel-Tech you show here. A shot gun in 20 gauge that basically fit knee to hip in a holster

    The criticism was that such a weapon was not good for extended engagement. Probably right but a cool idea just the same. Great for home defense as done by Kel-Tech.

  32. “4. I “racked” the shotgun several times during the tests, and no bystanders lost control of their bowels.
    Conclusion: Racking a shotgun will not make the bad guy faint.”
    Interesting. I assume the bystanders were in the process of sneaking up on him preparing to do him harm? Oddly enough, I would react differently to that sound at the range, verse hearing it behind me at the filling station. Must just be me.

  33. My go to HD setup is a mossberg 590 pump action and my m9. The longest shot I would have to make in my apartment is only like 30′ and would most likely be much closer, if I can’t get the job done with 9 shells worth of 00 buck at 10 yards then odds are I’m in the middle of a full scale Red Dawn style soviet invasion.

  34. @ davefla; OOPS! forgot to mention that the streamlite uses a side-emitting led, rather than a fragile filament bulb like the maglite does. Shotgun recoil can be brutal on those bulbs.

  35. Shotgun ammo is heavy and much slower to load.

    Carbines will penetrate soft armor.

    I like the idea of ONE projectile for each shot. I know how my shotguns pattern. I can use slugs, but then I might as well just use a carbine like an M4.

    The shotgun is a devastating weapon. I just agree with those that consider the carbine to be a more efficient weapon for both defense and offense.

  36. The cops want AR’s because some criminals are wearing body armor, and against them shotguns are almost useless. (You have to hit the head, and that’s not easy.)

    A while back a couple of drugged up guys robbed a bank in Hollywood, and the cops showed up before they could get away. It ended up with one guy wearing body armor walking down the center of a street shooting everything that moved. And the cops couldn’t stop him with their service side arms or their shotguns. One of them eventually remembered a gun store nearby, and they went there and borrowed some AR-15’s, which were strong enough to take him out.

    That kind of thing is still pretty rare, but as body armor becomes cheaper and more available, it’s going to happen more and more often, and the cops know it.

    • Get real. The cops in California were morons. They went to a gun store and got arms chambered for 5.56! How pathetic is that? A bolt action rifle chambered for a .300 winchester or a .458 would have taken the perps out of action with one shot. A 5.56 isn’t much better than a pistol round.

      • Minor point of contention:

        5.56 Nato produces in the neighborhood of 1325 ft-lbs of energy at a muzzle velocity of 3100fps.

        9mm Parabellum produces in the neighborhood of 465 ft-lbs of energy at a muzzle velocity of 1350fps, on the high end.

        .40 S&W produces in the neighborhood of 525 ft-lbs of energy at a muzzle velocity of 1,235fps, on the high end.

        Pistols ain’t rifles.

        The efficacy of the 5.56 round can certainly be debated, particularly in reference to the larger available rifle rounds. And the military value of the round is largely one of logistics, so an evaluation of the applicability of the round in small scale distributions, i.e. civilian defense or police forces, is appropriate.

        That being said, calling the police morons for choosing an effective military chambering to address an active shooter seems a bit silly. Particularly in light of semi-auto vs bolt-action, follow-up shots are easier and more rapid with the semi-auto and an active shooter scenario tends to recommend speed and simplicity. Any possibility of a one-shot-stop depends first on round placement, and then power, so bigger is better is not necessarily true.


    • A shot gun hit at close range with the right load will put an armored threat down quicker than any AR, even if the pellets don’t penetrate the armor. The only advantage a rifle has is range. Inside of 15 yards (inside the house ranges) a shotgun will always be the better choice. I have had great reservations about the policy of allowing patrol officers to carry a carbine. Seems to me that upon encountering any threat that would require an M4, dept policy should be to standoff and bring up the heavies to deal with it. I once asked my detective friend at a Virginia agency how they deal with over pentration and ricochet issues, and he said they use frangible ammunition in their patrol carbines. That negates the effectiveness of armor penetration, so it’s my opinion they should have stuck with shotguns and left any street side Fallujah style firefights to the tac team who is (hopefully) at least half way trained for it. But we now live in a virtual police state since 9/11, so there is nothing for it. So keep a scatter gun beside the bed for the goons, and an AR handy for the zombies.

    • “The cops want AR’s because some criminals are wearing body armor, and against them shotguns are almost useless.”

      I’m not sure where you and others are getting this idea, but it is inaccurate. The energy in a 12 ga. slug is sufficient (!) to incapacitate and possibly severely injure you even IF it could not penetrate body armor.

      There is no really justifiable reason to allow beat cops of any kind access to rifles, there is just too great a chance of collateral damage. Rifles are ideal for long range shots, and I cannot readily envision the need for this in most urban law enforcement settings.

      My home defense weapon is an old 870 with an 18″ barrel loaded w/ 00.

    • Mr. Den Beste,

      I’m a big fan, and I look forward to your return to political and science blogging, but you have your facts a little mixed up. I’m a former LAPD officer, and I personally know officers who responded to the Bank of America in North Hollywood.

      First, the officers were armed with 9mm Berettas and shotguns loaded with 00 buck (i.e., a shot shot shell packed with 8 or 9 .38 caliber pellets), neither of which would do much against body armor, especially at longer distances. I’m not denying that rifles would have been an appropriate tool for that engagement, but a shotgun loaded with slug ammunition is highly effective, even against body armor, at ranges beyond even 100 yards. Had the LAPD officers been allowed to carry slug ammo, the engagement would have been over a lot sooner.

      Second, yes, a few officers famously went to the B&B gun store (no longer in business) to borrow some rifles. However, these rifles were never used in the engagement. Some SWAT officers had responded to the incident by then.

      To reiterate, shotguns are not “almost useless,” so long as you have the right ammunition.

      Tcobb: A 5.56 round isn’t much better than a pistol round? Your ignorance is astounding.

  37. I am a cop. I carry both. I have a Surefire forearm on my Remington. With practice, movement indoors with a shotgun isn’t much harder than moving with a flashlight (which also requires some practice). The downside is when you need one or both hands. And I have had bad guys pee themselves in situations where I had the shotgun; but I believe it that is due to the attitude you project, not the weapon you hold.

  38. I remember the footage of the Hollywood robbery SBD. That was pretty frightening.

    For in-home defense, however, I think the shotgun is underrated. My supposition is that there’s a lot more firearm “enthusiasm” (read: geekery) than there was in the shotgun’s heyday, and other weapons lend themselves to that better, and thus tend to get purchased..

    In addition to the points made, I would say that I like the shotgun for in-home defense exactly *because* of its feebleness against hardened objects. I would be nervous that a bullet would hit someone in another room. Meanwhile, home invaders aren’t known for wearing kevlar. Not counting police, of course.

    And hey, in that case, if you’re using a shotgun you won’t kill the guy and end up like Cory Maye! (Of course, you might not survive the next five seconds, either.)

  39. Shotguns can be effective against body armor also, if the right ammo choices are available.
    During the North H’wood Bank Robbery in 1993 one of the bad guys was hit in the back at a distance with a 9-pellet 00 load. He shrugged it off due to his head-to-to body armor. Had the officers had slugs available to them the story could have been different. A slug would not have penetrated either, but who cares? A 1-ounce .72 cal chunk of lead at 1600 fps would have likely put him down anyway, especially with multiple hits. Both were hit repeatedly w/9mm rounds, no reason the officers would have been unable to hit them with slugs.
    Shotguns have a lower coolness coefficient, though.

    • With MIM/PIM technology today, it should be pretty simple to produce a flechette round that will penetrate body armor cheaply. Use something like tungsten for the base metal. Nice and dense, carries a lot of energy to the target.

  40. Four years a local patrol officer in Missouri, 20 years in the US Marshals Service in DC and Memphis. Currently detailed to the Firearms Division at FLETC (Google it if you don’t recognize it.)

  41. If someone has only one gun, a handgun may be his best solution for home protection, but there is much to be said for having a shotgun as well.

    I have a cousin who is a physician. When he did his rotation in the Emergency Room during his training, he saw plenty of gunshot wounds. He said that they routinely saved people shot with handguns, but never saved someone with a solid hit from a shotgun–even from a load of birdshot.

    A 20 ga. trap load carries 2X the energy of a .44 Magnum pistol round, but won’t go through 3 layers of drywall, safe and effective in many household environments. Some experts pooh-pooh 20 ga. #3 buckshot, but I’ve never found anyone who wanted to be shot with a round of it at close (inside the house) range.

    • 20 gauge makes a lot of sense. Power-wise, it’s not much of a downgrade from 12 gauge, and for that the benefits are a little less recoil and slightly lighter and more compact gun which is a benefit in tight places.

  42. If a person’s goal is to keep a firearm for home defense, then it should be the firearm that the person is most familiar. In the crunch, you want to be able to operate your firearm “instinctively”. There are other factors. Myself, having trained with the M16, and also various handguns, they would make good choices for me. But, I first learned to shoot with the Remington 870 as a teenager, and I’ve recently purchased a used 870 Wingmaster in 12 gauge magnum, switching barrels from the full choke, to a slug barrel, to be my home defense weapon. Of the thousands of rounds I’ve shot out of my Dad’s old 870, I never had a loading or ejection failure. Familiarity, reliability and power are strong factors in my choice of the Remington 870. And if one is considering camping in bear territory, a pump shotgun is the preferred defensive weapon. And yet another factor unique to the pump shotgun is the frightening sound of shucking a shotshell into the chamber of a pump shotgun. You can hear that noise through a closed door. I like that fact that I can choose either to shoot various plugs, or dbl-ought or single ought buckshot, as well as, for my circumstances, living in a multi-unit building, the option of shooting birdshot, to lessen the likelihood of penetrating my neighbor’s walls.

  43. The answer is simple.

    Shotguns have been around forever. They’re a mature technology, and there are very few bona fide improvements to a defense shotgun. There’s already lots of shotguns suitable for self-defense in the market one can buy for very modest sums.

    Ergo, there’s nothing new in shotguns for the gun industry to peddle to consumers. How to sell something ‘new’ to the consumers? Pooh-pooh the defense shotgun and peddle the latest “tactical carbine” or other such nonsense.

    For a defense shotgun, how much better are recent products than a Winchester 1897 Trench Gun or Riot Gun? Not much, particularly when one considers the ability to fire the 1897 by repeatedly shucking the action back and forth while holding down the trigger.

    For homeowners in suburban or urban areas, using a carbine for home defense carries very high liabilities. That round you put into a robber will likely go through him, through an exterior wall and on to… who knows where? A shotgun round of heavy birdshot at close range produces horrific results and won’t over-penetrate.

    Most everything in guns isn’t new. The industry has to convince consumers otherwise.

  44. Dyspeptic Gunsmith- You speak the truth. Caught between the makers and the gun magazines, a simple but effective weapon like a pump shotgun doesn’t stand a chance.

  45. I have shotguns, rifles and pistols. I would go for a shotgun if I had the time-but I have a pistol in a lockbox next to my bed. My long guns are not in my bedroom and I would need a bit of warning to get them out- good if someone say- called in a threat- but not for a bump in the night.

  46. SOOooooo many “myths” here about shotguns and rifles…

    First, UNLESS you fear a home-invasion by birds, then SKIP the BIRD SHOT! No, I wouldn’t volunteer to be shot with it, but the fact is that the stuff makes bloody, SHALLOW wounds. Yes – the perp may die hours or days later, but WE NEED TO STOP HIM RIGHT FRIGGING NOW! This requires Buck – preferably 00 – or a slug!

    Next: *ACTUAL* tests using studs and 5/8 drywall indicate that just about any shotgun load will blow right through your house and still remain lethal. So will pretty much any center-fire pistol round.

    SURPRISINGLY, the “safest” option – at least in terms of wall-penetration – actually seems to be high-speed .223/5.56mm ammo LIKE AN AR – ESPECIALLY in some of the lighter-bullet/higher-speed rounds! 40gr FMJ (IIRC) was about the safest – it just disintegrated when it hit the drywall!

    You can google all of this yourself!

    Personally, I’ll be using my 12GA because I don’t yet own an AR — when I do, it will be my new HD weapon with the lightest/fastest bullet I can find!

    “Lose your illusions” – “the truth is out there!”


    • That’s nice if someone knows something about choice of projectiles and is using something like V-MAX varmint bullets on a .223. Projectiles like the V-Max are frangible, have explosive expansion characteristics and are used on thin-skinned animals like prairie dogs, ground squirrels, coyotes and the like. The wounds are shallow, typically in the top 2″ of tissue.

      As soon as you start talking about something like NATO or other FMJ ammo, you’re in a very different league of penetration. A NATO M855 62-gr “green tip” round will go through 1/4 inch mild steel at 50+ yards. Other “game” bullets which aren’t varmint bullets and are designed to retain their mass upon impact, can easily pass through walls.

      As for birdshot: Not all birdshot is created the same. One of the beefs I have about some of the ‘experts’ who test shotgun rounds for self defense is that they pick the birdshot used on doves (#8 or #9 shot) when there’s a whole spectrum of birdshot, from BBB down to 12. Even FLETC does their demos of birdshot with #9 shot, which is just silly. Hunting upland game in the intermountain west, I cannot remember the last time I’ve used #9. Skeet maybe? I’ve never used #9 when hunting actual birds. I start at 7 1/2 and go up. When hunting skittish birds with longer shot, I start the season at 6 and end up at 2 with a tighter choke as the season goes on.

      For home defense, I’d start at #2 and go up.

  47. Did anyone pay attention to the chumps who fret about how effective a shotgun is vs. body armor? Good lord. Like some douchebag is going to invade your house with body armor! Quit watching shoot ’em up movies, and go to the range. A shotgun is perfect for home defense because you do not need to aim very well….point and shoot. Really….body armor? Are these women on drugs?

    • While I agree with the statement that the mistaken perception is that every HD weapon needs to defeat Class IIIa; I feel it’s a mistake to propagate the concept of “don’t even really need to aim” with a scattergun.

      00 pattern is roughly a pie plate at HD ranges. When your heart is thudding in your ears, you’re shaking hard enough to rattle your fillings loose, and your hands are like flippers… its not all that difficult to miss with buckshot. Easier still to miss with slugs.

  48. The North Hollywood shootout was a clusterflop of epic proportions. I watched a TV show about that mess and they were playing some recorded audio of the police radio traffic during the shootout. Here’s a direct quote: “They’ve got AK- fortysevens! NOTHING WE HAVE CAN STOP THEM!!” Now that’s just pathetic. Did the residents of Austin Texas just throw up their respective hands when Charles Whitman started shooting from the clock tower? Hell no! They broke out the shootin’ irons and kept him pinned down until one brave-ass cop killed him. With a shotgun. Probably a Winchester ’97 too. So back to North Hollywood — If I had been a cop there that day (because none of the citizens of California are allowed to carry those horrible handguns around with them) here’s what I would have done. 1) Take cover behind some brick wall or something. 2) Aim for the head. That ain’t rocket science.

    Now, as far as shotguns for defense goes. Hell yeah. They can’t be beaten for up-close stopping power. The best shot to use in most circumstances is #4, by the way. I have a box of it somewhere but I sold my ’97 a few years back. May have to get another scatter gun one of these days. Until then it’s a Beretta 92 in 9mm and a Colt 38 Special snubnose for the defense. I know — 9mm is too small, no stopping power, yada yada. I’m a pretty good shot and I have a 15-round magazine and there’s always one in the pipe. I like those odds. My friends think I’m some sort of lunatic because I’m always packing — at least there’s always one (or two) firearms in my truck. I always ask them if they’ve ever seen a friend get shot. I have. That usually shuts ’em up. I wasn’t armed that night. We both lived, but it could have been much, much worse. I like to keep the odds as even as possible.

  49. This is not an argument, just a datapoint. If you live in a jurisdiction that has a hard time dealing with the victim winning, then all other things being equal, it might be best to choose a shotgun. The reason? To a jury, wooden furniture and blued metal looks a lot less menacing. Pistol grips, banana mags, folding stocks look like they’re anti-personnel from the get-go. I’ve had two different criminal lawyers tell me, “Never go to trial with a black rifle.” It’s not enough to beat the threat. You have to beat the rap as well.

  50. Shotguns are very destructive close up, but they are a bit unwieldily in close quarters. An old, short barreled 1897 Winchester pump will still do the job when stacked against a modern ‘black’ shotgun. The fear/intimidation factor, both visual and auditory, is very high for a shotgun. A pump shotgun has a very distinct and menacing sound when chambering a shell.

    I do believe in a 3-prong defense: Sig 220, M1-A (7.62 NATO) and a mil-spec Mossberg pump shotgun. The go-to gun is the Sig, but I can access the other two guns rather quickly. The goal is to take care of the bad guys quickly or hold them off long enough to gain access to the rifle and the shotgun.

    Somebody mentioned it earlier: just be proficient in what ever gun you decide to use. Know how to operate it with your eyes closed/in the dark. Practice, practice, practice! Remember that your heart will be pumping like there’s no tomorrow so you better be able to operate your gun while under a lot of stress.

    Shotguns are great and will definitely do the job, but a no-brainer S&W Model 10 with 158 wadcutters in the hands of a proficient shooter will still do the job.

    What do you guys like? Pumps or auto loaders?

  51. Pistol vs. 12 ga 00 at close range. Your pistol might kill me. My shotgun will kill you. Note: L A robbery, why didn’t the cops aim for the their faces?

  52. A smart man once said, “Shoot an intruder with an M-16 or handgun and you’re a gun nut looking for a fight. Shoot them with a shotgun full of birdshot and you’re a sportsman forced to defend himself.”

    • You win the prize of winning in civil court. You can be cleared by law enforcement and still subject to ruinous “wrongful death” litigation.I wasn’t going to go down the legal road, but you did it for us. Thank you.

  53. As a child and young man, I had the great fortune of having a neighbor who had driven a stagecoach in the area of Hangtown (now Placerville) California along what is now called Highway 49. He is my source for this comment.
    Use of the shotgun at close range is nothing new. Contrary to Hollywood movies, the favorite weapon of western lawmen and stage coach guards were 8 and 10 gauge shotguns. The barrels were usually short for lawmen to make them fit for close quarter fighting. Guards would use longer barrels. Even with the shorter barrels, those gauges could reach out and touch someone in a very uncomfortable way.
    Why? Pistols, rifles, and their respective ammunition were not always reliable in the 1800’s. The simple technology of the shotgun and its ammunition made it more dependable, made it easier to hit a moving target*, and a single shotgun hit would inflict a wound that was incapacitating if not fatal.
    Just as it does today, the shotgun instilled fear in the bad guys. They knew that being shot with one had a high potential for death. Considering the lack of today’s advanced medical procedures, the lack of anti-biotics, and the physical destruction a heavy gauge shotgun can do, can you blame them?
    *How many people do you know who can ride on a bouncing stagecoach, fire a rifle or pistol, and hit a moving target?

  54. Ah, the tactical 12 ga. – there is no substitute…unless it’s a 10 ga.The only thing I would consider changing is making it a pump. First, trying to load an auto in a state of startled, adrenalin-drenched terror might lead to a shell not being fully inserted up the mag tube and thus having the spring kick it back where it jams under the mag-plate…at least that’s happened to me several times in a dove field with my old Remington 1100.

    And second, there’s that unmistakable goose-pimple-making sound of a pump shotgun being racked that tells an intruder advancing down a darkened hallway that he’s made the fatal mistake of breaking into the wrong home.

    • I once visited Chris Gilman at Global Effects, the special effects company he runs in Burbank, and got a grand tour including the spacesuits he built for Apollo 13, From the Earth to the Moon, Astronaut Farmer, and many other costumes. While chatting with him, an employee came in with a medieval flail that he wanted to borrow for his kid’s show and tell (how he did that without provoking a school-wide lockdown and sheriff’s raid in a LAUSD school escapes me). The flail had an axe-sized wooden handle, a short length of chain, and a roughly 8″ baton with metal spikes sticking out of it. It was NOT a mockup. It also had an iron ring a few inches down from the chain, into which the flail could be inserted to keep it from swinging. Chris said, “Yeah, sure, have fun,” and then demonstrated how the flail could be shaken loose from the ring with a quick movement, to swing loose and ready. That movement made a shick-schick noise _just_ like that of a pump action shotgun being cycled. Chris grinned and added, “That’s the noise that’s been turning burglar’s bowels to water for a thousand years!”

  55. Bedside…….
    Cell phone and Surefire 6P LED Defender – Check
    .38 snubby loaded with Hornady Critical Defense and two speedloaders – Check
    12 gauge FNH SLP Mk1 / nine rounds 00 buckshot at the ready – Check
    No Fear of what goes bump in the night – Check

  56. JRr

    Not really quibbling your list, especially the last, but my list:
    1. 12 gauge handy, stored with 18″ barrel, check
    2. loyal Labrador, check
    3. no worries about what goes “bump in the night”, check

    BTW the Labrador is “dual use”, like my trusty 12 gauge. A quick barrel/shell swap and I am good for upland birds, water fowl and even whitetail. In the field the dog is great for hunting; at home he is part of the home defense. Imagine the ramping of the first shell into my pump coupled with the low growl of my 80 lb Lab. I might miss, he won’t.

    THe following is for your amusement;
    A burglar broke into a home and was looking around. He heard a soft voice say, “Jesus is watching you”. Thinking it was just his imagination, he continued his search. Again the voice said “Jesus is watching you”. He turned his flashlight around and saw a parrot in a cage.

    He asked the parrot if he was the one talking and the parrot said, “yes.”

    He asked the parrot what his name was and the parrot said, “Moses.”

    The burglar asked, “what kind of people would name a parrot Moses?”

    The parrot said, “the same kind of people who would name their pit bull Jesus”.

  57. The reason law enforcement has gone over to the AR-15 patrol rifle in droves? The North Hollywood shootout. Seeing slugs and buckshot bounce off armored bad guys is a real eye-opener.

    For the average homeowner, the handgun is a better choice… easier to store, handle, and shoot… and at household distances a pattern from a scattergun is not much bigger than the bore size anyway.

    Yes, shotguns are devastating, but so is an AR… and the AR holds 30 rounds, doesn’t kick, won’t overpenetrate, and can reach out and touch someone if necessary. To be honest if the whole intimidation by racking the slide thing works, then cycling the slide on a handgun should work, too. However the best strategy for defending oneself with a firearm doesn’t include cycling the action.

    • “… and the AR holds 30 rounds, doesn’t kick, won’t overpenetrate…”

      Oooh, I have to differ with you about your statement that 5.56 mm rounds do not over-penetrate. Now, perhaps when that projectile gets going like a crazed hornet it won’t have enough juice to punch through both your own brick wall and that of your neighbor too; but rounds fired from an AR-15 inside your house will almost certainly be exiting the premises in search of something outside upon which to expend their kinetic energy. On the other hand buckshot, and maybe some slugs, are almost certainly going to stay inside your own house.

  58. Why are law enforcement and civilian home defenders swapping their shotguns for AR’s & such? I’d guess (and it’s only a guess) that relative recoil is a big factor. While I agree that a 12 guage-full of 00 buck is the gun for close range combat it’s just not for everyone. The more recoil the more training and practice required to effectively handle the weapon. For those minimally trained and minimally interested, law enforcement and civilian alike, the recoil of a 12 guage is going to be intimidating at best and uncontrollable for many.

    In a perfect world everyone would practice with their weapons constantly and law enforcement officers would all be highly trained, but in the real world training and practice takes time and costs money, something always in short supply for local law enforcement. Likewise, a lot of civilians buy a weapon for home defense, take it to the range once — if at all — and then put it away to collect rust. Those minimally trained folks are probably much better off not having a weapon they’re afraid of.

  59. Shotgun against body armor? Deny if you wish but Hollywood is voll mit scheist. Testing 1 oz slugs against our new “Hernia 2000″ TQ-15 (man silhouette) targets made of 1/2″ AMS514 steel (near equivalent to RHA rolled homogenius armor). At a distance of thirty-five yards from a stock Rem870 20”. Resulted in a full caliber DENT of about 1/8 inch. Body armor or no you’re going DOWN. And if you get up you will do so with two or three shattered ribs. People who claim that police were ‘outgunned’ when they were issued shotguns were (how shall I put this?) … full of crap.

  60. I use both the Remington Tactical 870 12GA, and a Glock 21SF with 13 rounds of .45ACP. The chances of a bad guy entering your home wearing body armor are pretty slim. But if he did then a couple hits with 00 buck or slugs at 5 Yds would knock him down even with body armor. Not penetrate but knock down with 1500 to 2000 Ft/Lbs of force depending on load. The 5.56 is in the 900 Ft/Lbs range, still not bad but that round can travel a long way and still be lethal. As a comparison the .45ACP has about 300 to 400 Ft/Lbs of energy and that is a prime self defense weapon.

    The only disadvantage to a shotgun is that it is long to maneuver inside a house. I grab my Glock 21SF first, then depending on the situation I have the Shotgun, then AR15, and FNAR .308 available depending on the threat situation.

  61. I’m a big aficionado of shotguns, and have a lot of time behind pumps and autos. For HD and general use I have a Mossberg 590A1 with an EOTech. With the right ammo (some of the new sabot slugs with polymer tips are amazing) I can shoot 8″ groups all the way out at 200 yards. With buck I have a 22″ pattern at 45 yards. For home defense I can’t imagine a more effective weapon. As far as some concerns about armor that I find generally unfounded, I have a handgun that will do just fine. The 7.62×25 cartridge fired by my Tokarev will zip right through even IIIa soft armor. It’s a 90 grain bullet doing almost 2000 fps, about equal to a .25 cal deer rifle at 150 yards.

    As far as the intimidation factor of racking the slide, let me paraphrase Travis Haley. I don’t rack my shotgun to scare someone, I rack it to shoot someone.

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