The Truth About…Shotguns and Shot Spread For Home Defense [VIDEO]

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Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

If you’ve ever watched a movie or a TV show where guns were involved, you might have the idea that it’s effectively impossible to miss with a shotgun. As a result, you may have concluded that it’s the best possible option for home defense. In this “The Truth About…” episode, I talk shot spread and a potentially better alternative to the 12 gauge that’s riding shotgun next to your bed.

Watch the video embedded above, or click HERE to view it on Rumble. Visit Silencer Shop for the best prices and the easiest, most streamlined suppressor buying process in the country.



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  1. Hey I have a shotgun & get it’s limited but my evil Dim dominated state has banned(for now!) my AR. My AR is setup pretty well for home defense. Not particularly concerned about shot spread especially at close range. I have several semiautomatic pistols too. Peace out!

    • Hades !
      Illinoisistan has also banned your Mossbergs and Remmy’s if they have choked barrels.
      They wrote the law to say threaded barrels are illegal, period. Law doesn’t define inside or outside the barrel for having threads.

      Our federal civil rights are being violated aggressively here behind enemy lines.

  2. I live in a heavily built up, crowded area. An area that legally frowns on things like ar15’s.

    A shotgun sensibly loaded does the trick here. I have lived rural. If I ever do again then a fast firing rifle would be my choice.

  3. Inside the home I prefer handguns since the likelihood of engaging an enemy at arm’s length is pretty high. I don’t want to be grappling with a thug trying to get a 16″ barrel on target. A 12ga. makes for a devastating wound at short range, can be quite effective at 15-30 yards and pretty much useless over 50 yards. In the unlikely even I had to take a fight outdoors I might opt for the .30-30 loaded with 130gr. handloads over the AR if I didn’t think I needed 30 rounds – 1800ft/lbs. > 1100ft/lbs.

    • I once shot a full size silhouette with Remington’s 3″ 41 pellet #4 buck at 25 yards from a 24″ barrel with a modified choke and all 41 pellets were on the target, but any further and some of the pellets would miss.

    • I love a lever gun. But if I lived in an area that allowed the 30 round mags I would take that over a lever gun. Nobody was ever sorry for bringing too much ammo.

      • The AR has a heavy barrel and a 3-9x scope, so that’s a factor. I should just break down and buy a lightweight barreled AR and put a red dot on it. If I’m facing down a mob I’d definitely go with the AR.

        • Governor Le Petomane,

          Get an AR-15 with a light-profile barrel and then install a “low power variable optic” scope on it. Those “low power variable optic” scopes are variable from 1x magnification (no magnification) to 6x magnification.

          The beauty of those scopes at 1x magnification is that you can keep both eyes open and still get a very clear image of the scope’s reticle superimposed over your visual image in your brain. Of course you can dial up to greater magnification if needed for longer shots.

        • u_c, unfortunately I’m cross eye dominant (right handed, left eye dominant). I do just fine with one eye closed, but keeping both open, I won’t see $h!t through the scope. I’d be better served with a 2-7x and my left eye shut.

          In the grand scheme of things, I’d take the heavier scoped AR and make it a truck rifle and keep the new one inside for more urban distances.

        • Gov may be a stupid question but ever use a red dot and/or ACOG clone with both eyes open and focus on the dot/reticle? Seemed to work for a few in the unit that had that issue.

  4. If I’m going to be moving around “clearing” my house I want a handgun. or 2
    If playing the call 911 and wait for the cops thing, hunkered down behind the safe in the bedroom, the 12 ga seems like a better option to me. + a handgun. or 2
    It all depends on circumstances.

  5. A stocked shotgunm with a 14 inch barrel.
    But nope, unless your a trained seal. Or maybe a dolphin? Somthing that gets rewarded for jumping through hoops.
    Seems like Little Bill would let us keep our gunms, I mean if you dont see it, particularly if you dont hear it.

  6. There are many factors here. Not the least of which is Hollywood influence. It isn’t just shotguns. People have been made to think things about all guns in general that are not true. Hollywood is controlled by Democrat leftists and as such they find it easier to lie. Very few movies have ever been made that depicts firearms accurately. So what is seen are guns that never run out of ammo and when they do they are just thrown away. Which is likely the reason Hunter Biden threw his pistol away. They have made people think that Glocks are porcelain. with excessively high price tags.

    It isn’t just the news media. The movie industry is also part of that enemy of the American people. One that we all continue to pump huge amounts of money into.

    • Not me. The last movie theater I went was playing Mary Poppins.
      If it ain’t on TV , I dont see it no more.

  7. Paul Harrell has some good videos on this subject.

    There’s always a pistol and an AR ready. I have an open floor design with double interior doors and staircases that are four feet wide. I’m not worried about squeezing a 16″ barrel through tight spaces. A rifle is better than a handgunm or shotgun (for me). With a brick and stone house on a large wooded lot, without close neighbors, I’m not concerned about penetration outside of the home.

    • ……..not to be an asshole but have you ever shot anything with a shotgun that is alive? Any slug except maybe some lightweight aluminum blend is going to over penetrate anything human. Buckshot above 4 (preferably 1 but 00 is fine) is also likely to create multiple pass through wounds but with a lot less momentum let alone velocity than a slug. As to stoppers they all are for unarmored center of mass hits but unless your house is an isolated wooded lot where your most likely home invaders involve bear moose and bigfoot buckshot is much less likely to give you various sorts of trouble. Gadsden Flag would be a great one to talk to on this topic because he has observed way more actual incidents than I let alone seen a lot of the same photos I have (and a bunch more from his region)

      • Deer hit with #1 buck at 25 yards usually run in controlled fashion for a significant distance. Like 50 yds to a half a mile. A man with a gun might just decide to use that controlled time to take you with him. A slug will knock him down.

        Brennke slugs are IME hardcast penetrators. The hollowpoint Foster’s are IME much softer and flatten dramatically (1.5″), even fragment on a whitetail – has that changed? Do I need to point out, that reduces penetration?

        At in-home ranges, shot spread being what it is, if you can’t hit with a slug, you can’t hit with shot.

        The above is kind of *factual* and *testable*. Why y’all are squawking like somebody is stepping on your cods, I have NO idea…

        • I have seen deer run hundreds of yards after being shot by shotgun slugs of several varieties, 45-70, 30-06 and various broadheads. They are a prey animal that will run unless cns and/or bon structure are disrupted/destroyed and very few humans will have a similar reaction. You are correct that the hollow point slugs can expand and can be less on penetration but for man or deer it is of minimal relevance as it will typically go right through. As to responses you get well if you are not going for being pompous or condescending you may want to double check your writing style. If you are going for that would you expect to not be told to fuck off?

        • Thanks for making my point. Some folks are projecting, trying to maintain some bs narrative they like the look of – “stopping power is a myth, all that counts is letality, buy PCCs” maybe?

          Please don’t bother to point out what is pompous and condescending about “Buckshot, stopper, not. Hollowpoint slug is. Brennke creates over-penetration risk.” DGAF.

          1) You have seen a deer run anywhere shot with a hollowpoint 12 ga slug AT CLOSE RANGE? Thinking not. It is well over 2000 ft lbs and it is applied, not wasted on background scenery. I have recovered flattened slugs from inside deer shot mid-body at less than 30 yds, btw.

          2) Some humans run when shot with buck or smaller shot, some keep shooting. Some cease movement instantly. This is *known*.

          When a slug makes contact at in-home ranges, it is almost certainly instantly OVER – it is just the best you can do. Brinnel 12, 1000 fps, give ot take 50, should reduce pass-through concerns. Don’t know why this ticks people off, but I no longer care.

        • 1 yes I have twice actually.
          2 happens but at typical engagement distances happens a lot less than pistol and most rifles
          As to the rest you seem a bit butthurt and still a bit overly emotional so good luck with your arguments. You are typically a lot more objective in your approach and more willing to entertain conflicting information so I will chalk this up to an off day for you.

        • What conflicting info?

          Other than your claim of seeing deer shake off a slug and run controlled, I haven’t seen much. Unless you count garbage like this – “One round of buckshot and you’d be bleeding out, screaming for your mommy.”

          Lol, talk about projection…

          Thinking you should rethink who is having an off day. It ain’t me.

        • You claim to see a lot of close range buckshot being shrugged off is fairly contradictory and I see a lot of projection of individual posters to all posters hence the lack of objective discussion. Slugs are great and have a lot of potential applications but within 10-25 yards negligible difference on end results to humans. Perfect for hunting for obvious reasons and absolutely can do one shot drops but it’s no more perfect than a mini ball from a rifled musket. Now I will absolutely say slugs have the potential to overwhelm and potentially penetrate lv 3a soft armor and are a great best available option if one can only own a shotgun (or only afford one gun). As to you having an off day well Darkman hasn’t posted anything outside of his typical responses. You have and more noticably have been far more erratic in how you approach the conversation.

        • I’ve killed whitetails with slugs, both foster style, and BRI style sabots, but mostly with a pistol or muzzleloader. Buckshot for deer is illegal in Ohio, so I have no experience with it in a hunting context. My uncle/hunting partner has killed more deer than anybody else I know, and together, we can account for about 125 batches of venison, and about 1/4-1/3 of those were slug kills. He mostly shot the Brenneke slugs later, but in the early years he used foster style slugs. We butcher all our game ourselves. These slugs ALL make big, deep holes, and seldom did we find one recovered in the animal. The only one out of my personal deer kills was one of the BRI sabot slugs that was under the skin in the right rear haunch of a 7-point, after entering between the left shoulder and windpipe. He went about 30 yards. The only deer I’ve seen literally drop in their tracks were CNS shots. Two had been wounded prior, and I tracked them down and shot them in the head with the Contender while they were bedded down. A third was a doe that was nibbling on raspberry leaves near the thicket I was in, and I shot her in the head with a 240 gr XTP in a muzzleloader sabot. A slug in the boiler will certainly kill quickly, and may knock them down, but it’s the brain that animates them and unless you make a clean CNS shot, or break major bones, it will keep moving until the brain no longer controls regardless of the hole in it’s body.

          No one that I know disputes the stopping power of slugs. It’s the likelihood of overpenetration that raises questions in the context of home defense. Unless you have a special slug that is specifically designed for shallow penetration, I would recommend against using it for home defense. A subsonic soft hollowpoint foster style may fit the bill much of the time, but how reliably? I toyed with the idea of casting and loading my own soft slugs, in a design that looks like a skirted airgun pellet. Loaded down, it would have less penetration, but that’s still a big hunk of lead to be launching inside my house. My home shotgun is loaded with FliteControl 8 pellet 00 buck, but that isn’t my only home defense weapon and it isn’t necessarily the first I would grab.

          Now, slug loads for a 410 shotgun can be 41 Mag power territory, and that’s a different story.

          Interesting shotgun gel tests:

          LuckyGunner may have a video or three about this, and I’ve seen others as well.

        • “No one that I know disputes the stopping power of slugs.”

          True. What started this is : “Buckshot, stopper, not.”

          And it ain’t. A gunfight is 2 people shooting at each simultaneously. You can blow a hole in a man’s guts as big as a grapefruit with a handful of pellets, and he just might keep right on shooting. A handful of rocks does hit as hard as one big one.

          That said, thanks for the information. My results differed, but were nowhere near as extensive, and involved smaller deer than you have in Ohio. I used 1 oz 12 ga Winchester. They are soft enough to dent with a thumbnail. Once they flatten, they don’t go far. Results may vary.

        • “within 10-25 yards negligible difference on end results to humans.”

          Haven’t shot any humans, but results on other stuff says the time from impact to desired effect (incapacitation) differs significantly between pellets and solids of equal mass. It is much, much shorter with solids – armadillos, possums, firewood, junk cars, deer, etc…

          “You have and more noticably have been far more erratic in how you approach the conversation.”

          That’s hilarious. I take it you have been snowed in?

        • Different experiences often do get different viewpoints and observed data. I don’t think a slug could be soft enough to be relevant to a human compared to shot at close distance……but would be interesting to see how easily that can be wrong. And no not snowed in just used to more rancor from some posters and far less from you generally so it was noticable you were having a day.

      • Hi, have you seen any stats on “over-penetration” injuries or death? XZX, like numerous others, seems concerned, but I have come across nothing that relates such incidents. There have been reports of NDs going through barriers and striking people, but I think most people look at “over-penetration” as relates to passing through an attacker, and doing harm after.

        • You sound like an assassin, confident of taking the first shot. I take it you are planning an ambush, as opposed to a selfdefense situation? Some tough guy…

    • Im confident that if I shoot a human with 00buck at 7ft he ain’t going to run nowhere.
      Using a 12guage with #6 at very close range it blew a goats head off, I shot another goat with 5.56 and only put a hole in it.
      They both died but the goat hit with the shotgunm died better.
      But I get it. AR AR AR AR AR
      Americas rifle, nothing else. An AR is 15 times better then a Mini14, an M14, a Garand or a shotgunm.
      Trench warfare in ww1, why them doughboys threw there shotgunms away and grabbed an ARpitchfork because the shotgunm just was no good at all.

      • Folks do love their buckshot. 7 ft is real close, that is for sure. I don’t worry about him running, I worry he might keep shooting, just for a few seconds. Maybe not at 7 ft tho.

        AR15 really is way better than a Mini14. The 5.56 cartridge just does not have enough gas to run the Garand design well, is what somebody told me back in the 70s. They have to make the gas hole too big, deteriorates the accuracy, is what he said. Along about 2010 I realized he was right.

    • My shotgun runs on Hornady 12ga Critical Defense, flesh and bone ain’t no match for it. Home defense firearms need night sights or offset backup sights for firearms with optics. A flashlight or lazer can be useful as are night vision goggles, scopes, etc.

        • You’re forget something. you’re supposed to shoot until the threat stops. If the guy is still breathing and he has stopped attacking you, Then you have accomplished your mission.

          Perhaps you didn’t notice. I didn’t use the word kill.

    • “shotgun blast under 25 yards will stop any criminal”

      He or she is liable to empty a full mag of something into your ass and be reloading another one before he “stops”. Assuming you connect first. Then there is the tacticool factor. You think a load of shot in the chest will faze some person wearing even minimal armor?

      • What criminal who is attacking me is wearing minimal armor???
        Or are you referring to representatives of the government called police officers?

        A crackhead, a meth head, a fentanyl head, is not running out and buying body armor. Before he robbed somebody to pay for his fix for an evening of intoxication

        • See a small number of gang members with various scraps of kevlar up to actual vests but it is in no way common let alone expected. Still keep options open for that possibility though

  8. Next time at the range, try 12 gauge in #7 or #8 birdshot at a target at 12 feet, (average hallway). Still devastating and small 4-6 inch pattern. Great home defense.

    • But not necessarily a *stopper*. Take a 10″ diameter 3 1/2 or 4 ft long log, stand it on end. Bird shot will barely rock it. 00 will rock it. A slug will knock it down.

      Deer hit with #1 buck at 25 yards usually run in controlled fashion for a significant distance. A man with a gun might just decide to use that controlled time to take you with him. A slug will knock him down.

      lt is just simple physics. Which will knock you out? Handful of rocks, or a brick?

  9. An AR type shotgun with a binary trigger and buck shot loads??? Now that would be an outstanding man stopper.

  10. @XZX
    I take it you are planning an ambush, as opposed to a selfdefense situation?

    And an ambush of intruders is questionable because?

    If my house had a layout permitting two simultaneous, but unconnected angles of fire, why would an armed couple occupying crossing fields of fire be unacceptable, rather than leaving a defensible position and presenting oneself in an open Weaver stance?

    If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t trying.

      • “And an ambush of intruders is questionable because?”

        ‘Nice work if you can get it.’

        my bedroom and bathroom layout present two angles of fire (if there are two people in the bedroom), one of which is not immediately noticeable when entering the bedroom. As it is, though, there is only one person in the home, now.

  11. If your shotgun can accept, and if you can find one, and if it is Legel where you live, put a rifled barrel on your shotgun. It will help the shot to spread, giving you a better chance to stop the threat, whatever it might be.

    • Interesting idea – a good excuse to buy a rifled choke tube, and test it. I hear mangled pellets don’t fly straight or far. Also heard the wad protects the shot, makes it not work, Also heard it spins the wad, makes it work.


  12. Gee I’ve shot clean through a car door with 5.56 but unless I’m real close never with a 12 guage buckshot load..
    Wheres this fallacy 5.56 wont go through sheetrock.
    Try it with FMJ’s , zips right through 4 1/2 inch sheets.
    A rifle cartridge even a poddle shooter penetrates more then a shotgunm.

  13. Just to refute some of the BS being spewed around here, this is a link to an online, ballistics calculator for shotguns:

    Keep in mind that while penetration depth through soft tissue IS IMPORTANT, the critical velocity to penetrate a human skull is EXTREMELY RELEVANT to this discussion. People are often killed by bullets that are fired into the air at an elevated trajectory then fall to impact at terminal velocity. Terminal velocity for most handgun and rifle projectiles is only a few hundred feet per second. It has been demonstrates that the critical velocity to penetrate a human skull at an angle normal to the skull is only about 200 feet per second. Double Ought buckshot will retain enough velocity to penetrate a human skull out to about a quarter of a mile. Your potentially lethal range will vary depending on altitude and how many walls your buckshot must penetrate to escape to the great outdoors.

    To be blunt, an AR-15 loaded with frangible ammunition that is likely to tumble even if it doesn’t fragment is actually safer for bystanders than a shotgun loaded with buckshot.

    • Ever try varmint grenades (from Barnes)? Other than stories about one hole coyote pelts, I got no info, but would think them an option if over-penetration with 5.56 is a concern.

      • Testing from 16+inch barrels were encouraging but the pistol lengths may be a concern with a lower velocity for terminal effects (for those that go for that setup). Controlled chaos is also promising and may do better with reduced velocity with it’s focus on fracturing after impact.

        • No, didn’t know they made a controlled chaos in pistol (well typical pistol) caliber. I thought it was all controlled fracturing and maximum expansion for the lehigh pistol line that was not various copper solids. But it has also been a while since I ordered anything and I do have a bunch of 357 sig brass to fill so……………..

        • It’s their take on it. It has a different name. It should be much more affordable than Lehigh / Wilson Combat.

        • Looks like syntech defense (looks like a controlled fracturing analogue)……….not hating the idea and a good conservative launch focusing on 9mm 40sw and 45acp all of which have other options for the bullet to be loaded in bigger cartridges if it takes off. Not available as an individual component yet so be a bit to compare apples to apples re price but does look like it could be competitive with typical bonded hollowpoints.

    • Well I’ve been hit by #4 while duck hunting, I’m guessing the range might have been 70 yards, I had a heavy coat on and it didnt do nothing but sting a little and put a few holes in the coat. No way in hell do I want to get hit with a 55gr bullet doing 2,600 fps.
      Up close shotgunms make a mess, stretch the distance and they ain’t all that much.

  14. @Dude
    There’s also the issue of missing the intended target, going through a wall/barrier, and killing someone.

    Yes, “missing” is probably more of a concern than “over-penetrating” a human body and injuring a bystander. Thinking that a bullet penetrating barriers is simple penetration, not “over-penetrating”.

    Cannot imagine any common self-defense bullet that cannot penetrate walls between apartments, or rooms in a house, thus penetratiing rather than “over-penetrating”. The solution for those concerned about penetrations due to misses is to not use a firearm in the first place. Quite the dilemma.

  15. In the late 60’s had a family friend fall into a sleeping bear’s den (a blow-down) while rabbit hunting mid-February. At a distance of only a few inches, a load of 7 1/2 shot from his 12 gauge killed the bear. All he got was a write-up in the local paper, but the state of Maine did agree to not charge him for killing the bear. The gist of what happened is that under certain conditions, even a load of 7 1/2 birdshot can be lethal. Question is – Can you shoot center of mass against a human being? At ~7 yards, the modern .410 “handgun” loads, in a conventional .410 shotgun, would work in a home defense role. Current ammo issues means that these .410 “handgun” loads may be easier to find then 12 gauge #1 or OO Buck. Me – Got a Mossy .410 with the 3 ball “handgun” type loads. Too bad so many DAs feel that an AR15 style rifle is an “assault rifle” but wonder when shotguns are next banned firearm.

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