Image by Oleg Volk. Used with permission.
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Some things just never change. In a time when pistol caliber carbines and ARs have become so popular, especially with some of younger gun buyers, a shotgun is still quite affordable and remains an outstanding choice for home defense. The technology might be centuries old, but it still works extremely well and will stop bad people with evil in their hearts.

Decisive stopping power

Yes, pistols poke holes in people. Rifle put holes through people, too. And shotguns? Well, with the right loads at the distances you’ll find at the typical homestead, shotguns are downright devastating. They leave large, ugly holes. Don’t believe me? Just as Clint Smith, master of subtlety (NSFW).


Most folks don’t have $1000 to $2000 to drop on one of today’s hot-selling pistol caliber carbines. Add more for a quality red dot or holographic optic, plus a sling, spare magazines and maybe even a set of pop-up irons. That two or three grand won’t buy Wayne LaPierre a new suit, but for most folks that’s real money.

Alternatively, you can protect your home just as well with a $100-200 used pump shotgun.

No, that’s not heresy.

A pump gun will work, regardless of gauge. Whether it’s a 12 gauge, a sweet 16 or 20 gauge – it doesn’t matter. You can find effective buckshot and slugs any scattergun you own. You may have to look a little harder for 16 gauge buckshot, but it’s out there.

I don’t recommend .410, but if it’s what you have or all you can handle, it surely beats a harsh word and an upraised fist.

Leave the birdshot loads for little birdies. Sure, at three or four feet, birdshot will perform similarly to buckshot. However, the prudent defender will not let the bad guy get within arm’s reach because at that range, the attacker can strike faster than the defender can react.

Buckshot will deliver its buckshot-like performance from the muzzle out to 20 yards or more, depending on the set-up.

What is buckshot?

00 buck buckshot ammunition shotgun

Buckshot is typically a number of lead balls from .24 (#4 buck) to .33 caliber (#00 buck).  Each impacts the target and creates its own wound channel. A round of 12-gauge 00 buck will typically have between nine and twelve .33 caliber projectiles. Many commercial 20-gauge buckshot loads carry as many as twenty BBB, #2, or #3 pellets but lots of loads are available. Either way, they create a lot of holes.

Typically, a user can expect about an inch of spread at the target from buckshot for each yard from the muzzle.

And thanks to the good people in Hollywood, TV and movies have educated almost everyone on the universal sound of peace. If a potential evil-doer doesn’t reconsider their initial plan after hearing their victim racking a shotgun, that should serve as a big clue to the defender. Some dispute the effect of the sound of racking a scattergun, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.

Is shotgun capacity a problem?

Sure, you won’t have 30-round magazines, but that’s okay.  Remember, with a shotgun, you’re not poking holes in someone. You’re cleaving hunks of flesh from their bones and/or shredding tissue.

Score just a single hit on the bad man in the center of the chest with a slug or buckshot inside your home and you’ve provided them a leg up in their effort to successfully take the room temperature challenge.

Most shotguns, even the hunting guns, will have four- or five-shot internal magazines.  Four plus one in the pipe will serve to defend against all but the largest, most-determined adversaries. If you face the risk of a half-dozen intruders, you may need something belt-fed and crew-served anyway. But for the rest of us…

Image via

Feel under-gunned with five rounds?  Buy a Sidesaddle shell carrier and attach it to the gun’s receiver. Or you can attach them to the stock.  Or both.  With four or six rounds on the receiver and six more on the stock, you’re carrying well over a dozen rounds, minimum.  Gun battles overwhelmingly are “come as you are” affairs.  Seldom do you have a chance to kit up.

Remington 870DM magpul
Dan Abraham for TTAG

Want still more capacity? Remington and Mossberg make removable magazine-fed pump shotguns that will give you up to 20 rounds depending on the model and configuration.  In my experience though, the bigger the magazine, the more likely you’ll face reliability issues.  Your mileage may vary though.  But make sure it works before trusting your life to it.

What about a shotgun’s recoil?

Yes, shotguns produce recoil. Avoid magnum loads and you’ll avoid the worst of the punishment. A good butt pad on the stock will absorb some of the recoil, too. Using the proper stance, learned through training and practice, will do wonders for absorbing recoil and making for much faster (aimed) follow-up shots.

The best news: thanks to female law-enforcement officers, today we have reduced recoil buckshot and slugs for 12-gauge boom-sticks. These provide good performance with significantly less felt recoil. That means faster aimed follow-up shots should you need them. Frankly, I prefer these to standard loads and you might, too.

Image via Remington.

What’s more, no bad guy will absorb a chest full of “managed recoil” buckshot and say, “Boy, I sure am glad you didn’t shoot me with standard buckshot!”

Jury appeal

As a secondary consideration, a pump action shotgun won’t scare the sheep as much as a tricked out AR “military” style rifle or whatever the gun banners and anti-2A politicians pejoratively label modern sporting rifles. Cowboys and old-school cops use shotguns, so they must be as American as baseball, apple pie and pickup trucks, right?

Or at least that’s what you hope the average person who knows little about guns will think while sitting on your jury. After all, if you do face trial for self-defense gun use in the home, your jury of peers won’t be twelve NRA members, Arfcom or TTAG readers.

Ease of use

Pump shotguns are easy to use. Just about anyone can figure it out. Look down the barrel and put the bead on the target.  Squeeze the trigger. Pump the gun, lather, rinse and repeat.

GSL Defense Training photo

Again, affordability

Did I mention affordability? You can get a perfectly serviceable used pump shotgun for as little as $100 or so. It may not be pretty, but it’ll go bang an protect your home and family in an emergency.

What’s more, some of the affordable import guns can also follow you home for well under $200, brand new.

Even tricking a shotgun out with sling swivels, a sling, and a side-saddle shell carrier, you’re still way under the price of a quality, American-made holographic sight.

The moral of the story: there’s an effective, affordable shotgun out there that just about everyone can afford. No matter the gauge or capacity of your shotgun, it remains far better protection than any pacifist male. Or even a group of pacifist males for that matter.

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    • 9MM PCC/PDW absolutely trounces a shotgun. I’ll take a CZ Scorpion, GHM9, HK roller lock, even a Glock 34 way before a shotgun for home defense. The day of the shotgun is long over, its a bird hunting weapon…nothing more.

      • For $200, I might be able to throw the stock from one of those rifles at the intruder. Or the slide of the glock.

      • The author says he doesn’t recommend a .410, but one of those with defense shells (I believe they have three 00 buck pellets) throw a greater mass than any 9mm bullet, and with a slightly wider spread when they find the target.

        Handgun is my preference, but a .410 properly loaded will certainly do the trick, and can be handled by anyone in the family regardless of size or stature.

        • Haz and Rad. Before I retired a co-worker that had no experience of firearms asked me to suggest a gun for his elderly parents that lived just outside town. After talking to him and them and seeing what kind of physical shape they were in I suggested a youth model mossberg .410.

          Everybody involved, including his mother, were happy with the choice.

          My father was in his 80’s when he passed. And he lived rural on his own until a week before he passed. A devoted 12 ga. man in his younger days he had given away all his guns except for a single shot .410 which he kept next to his bed.

          The .410 has its legit uses and users.

        • jmw
          Thanks for the 410 youth model suggestion. My wife has physical limitations and she had a single shot 410 before we met that was wrecked. She likes the 410.

      • Um no. Have you ever seen what a shotgun can do? There is a reason that police and armed forces continue to carry them for many situations. Your wonder 9 doesn’t compare as a proven man and beast stopper.

      • Madcapp –
        That’s a pretty dumbass 😆 comment. Shotguns are great. PCCs are great. ARs and AKs are great. Pistols and revolvers are great. Etc etc etc… I like them all. They all have their pros and cons.

        PCCs are better for some people, and some situations. That doesn’t mean that shotguns don’t have their place.

        One of the main benefits of shotguns is their low price. A broke dude can buy a decent used 12 gauge for about $150 and be pretty well armed. A 12 gauge will do the job.

        • Since I got married and started having kids right outta high school, I’ve been a ‘broke dude’ most of my life. Currently, I have a couple of carry pistols, a 12ga and that’s it. Ive been down to one pistol and a 12ga more times than I can count but that’s my limit.

          I think I paid $150 for the mossy I currently have. And I’ve switched to herters mini buck since that gave me 6+1 in a standard tube fed mag. I keep a few slugs on the elcheapo buttstock shell holder JIC.

          Even with the herters shells, I get 6 pellets per shell X 6 shells. That’s 36 projectiles I can throw at a bad guy before I have to reload. My sub 2k didn’t have that much capacity…

        • Joel: One caveat here is that many (perhaps most…) repeating shotguns will not feed the shorter shells. If using anything under 2 3/4 inch shells, try them first on the range to see that they will feed in your firearm. Little matter what they might do in someone else’s gun…. If your gun works with them, you should be good to go. But if they won’t, it pays to know that now, before a crisis happens.

  1. Shot guns are great, but blindingly noisy.
    In my opinion, shorter, suppressed PCC’s or PDW’s with subsonic rounds can work just as well without deafening you in an enclosed environment. If it was a shotgun for me, it would be a semi-auto with a high intensity light attached for hip fire. Depends on your means and preference, I suppose.

    • Because everyone’s got a can?

      Yes, agreed. Frankly, a shotgun with suppressor would make an even better tool.

      But in terms of easy accessibility for mere mortals, a cheap shotgun will work wonders. Worried about the noise? Wear muffs. Harbor Freight has some good ones (the big, red ones) for well under $10. Have a pair for everyone in your family and keep them in your safe room. That way you can enjoy classical music after putting down the bad men.


      • SilencerCo’s shotgun can on a ‘Shockwave’ with a magazine conversion…

    • yes the shotgun is “noisy” BUT 99%of the time ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS WRACK ONE ROUND, you rarely have to actually shoot. anybody with any braincells that arn’t smoked up when they hear the sound of a shotgun being charged they turn to LONG DISTANCE RUNNERS ON A MISSION.. and if you do have to pull the trigger ,you will not kill everything on the other side of the perp. messy, yes but short-range destruction, GUARANTEED.

        • As I recall, it sounded like Uncle Joe issued a vice presidential executive order at the time instructing Americans to buy a shotgun. Was around the same time we were told you have to buy Obamacare. As far as I’m concerned, that executive order has not been rescinded by anyone, so get your gun or face prosecution.

        • “Thanks Joe Biden!”

          And according to ‘Joe’ recently, poor kids are just as smart as white kids.

          (But Leftists *always* get a pass on their fuck-ups…)

      • Racking your shotgun or announcing, “I have a gun,” only works for sane intruders. It doesn’t even register with druggies high on who knows what. Neither do bullet holes that don’t hit the central nervous system. Clint is right. Pistol and rifle bullets create penetrating wounds. Shotguns create avulsions.

        Even buckshot spreads with distance. Beyond a few feet, it makes multiple penetrating wounds. Slugs don’t spread and make a full diameter wound at any distance. A slug in front of a light powder load in a short shell could be very effective yet not hard on the shooter. I wonder if anyone has done ballistic gelatin tests on 12 gauge slugs to see what it takes to get the optimum 15 inches of penetration. Given the huge cross section, it might take a heavy powder charge which would ruin my idea of a low recoil shell.

        As I remember, Biden’s advice was to fire both barrels of your shotgun in the air off your deck. That would leave you with an empty gun so you couldn’t hurt the intruders.

        • the current “low recoil” slugs penetrate around 24-30 inches if my memory serves correctly. With massive damage on the way through.

          I have personally helped butcher a deer that was hit with a 20ga slug. it was DRT. The guy hit the deer in the HIP and it ricocheted off the hip bone and ended up in the far lung. and also severed the spine on it’s way from back to front. There was some good meat left, but i was surprised how much had been damaged…

    • I went down the suppressed PS90 rabbit hole. My biggest complaint is subsonic ammo is extremely expensive.

      A shotgun is not for me. Too much mess to clean up, afterwards

      • If you live in an area where ‘too much cleanup’ is a concern because it happens enough to matter, you should probably move to a safer neighborhood.

    • A PDW or a short PCC would be my first choice, the second choice would a handgun. A short PCC can be handled and shot more easily by most family members. Would not consider a shotgun, unless I lived by myself. Some of us unfortunately cannot legally have a can. Do they even make short cans for shotgun? How about a short barreled semi-auto shotgun with a short can?

    • I don’t even notice the sound blasting a turkey out of the hard-side blind, i doubt i would if i’m defending myself against an intruder. That would be the least of my worries. Same thing with recoil.

    • So basically what your saying is “the $150 tool is great, but the $600 tool with a pair of $200 tax stamps and a $900 can is better……”

      Got it. I think u proved one of the primary points of the article.

  2. My Maverick 88 Security was an absolute steal, and it has been reliable for 15 years – my only modification was a 12” buttstock. I keep the tube filled with 8 rounds of 2 1/4” 00 buck (6 pellet) – recoil is like birdshot and it patterns very well.

    I would be giddy as a schoolgirl if I were allowed to have one of those new ‘not-a-shotgun’ shotguns – one of the little boomsticks with a brace would be my spirit animal.

    The only reason I carry a revolver daily is because society doesn’t seem to think a shotgun is an appropriate fashion accessory…

    • Yes, I won one of those. Or at least that’s what I told my wife.

      For me, I keep the first round a slug and the rest 00-Buck. Why? If I’m facing armored invaders, a slug center mass will reduce their combat effectiveness long enough for me to shoot ’em in the balls (first choice, as the pelvis moves slowest) or the face (smile, wait for flash) with the buckshot.

      I’ve had a couple of acquaintances here in Illinois who were invaded because bad guys knew they had guns. Neither practiced home carry. One (a retired judge) was overpowered and then smothered to death with a pillow by at least two invaders. Thankfully, they only got away with a handful of guns as they couldn’t defeat the big gunsafe with a hundred plus guns.

      • John I keep the first round a slug as well. Followed by buck. Figured I have more options that way.

      • John Boch, you said, “If I’m facing armored invaders, a slug center mass will reduce their combat effectiveness long enough…”

        A slug from a 12-gauge or 20-gauge will go right through their body armor, and then right through their body too. A slug can go through the engine block of a truck. Kevlar body armor is rated for handgun threats, with the best body armor (Level IIIA) able to stop a .44 Magnum from a revolver, not from a long gun, a handgun.

        For example, the U.S. Army’s Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) is rated to stop threats up to “.44 Magnum Semi Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP) bullets of 15.6 g (240 gr) and a velocity of 436 m/s ± 9.1 m/s (1430 ft/s ± 30 ft/s).”

        That’s a handgun round fired from a handgun. A 12-gauge slug is twice as heavy and will kill an elephant. If you’re concerned that soft lead slugs won’t penetrate, not all slugs are made out of soft lead. There are plenty of 12-gauge slugs made out of harder metals, including ones for dangerous game like grizzlies and armor-piercing shells made specifically for shooting through engine blocks of trucks. There are even slugs made out of .50 BMG armor-piercing incendiary (API) machine gun bullets (but those .50 BMG shells are for break-action shotguns, not pump-action, as they’re long and pointed at the tip, and you do know what happens when a pointed bullet tip touches the primer of another shotgun shell in your magazine tube, don’t you?)

        You can also find armor-piercing or big-game hunting slugs for 20 gauge that will penetrate Kevlar vests, but you’ll have to shop around a lot more as there are fewer choices for 20 gauge. Go to and you’ll see what I mean. For 12 gauge, you can find every type of shell from Aguila mini-shells to armor-piercing incendiary .50 BMG shells. No need to put “a slug center mass [to] reduce their combat effectiveness long enough…” until you can finish them off, a slug will go right through the bad guys, body armor or not.

        Not .410 slugs.

        • Derringer Dave,

          Commonly available 12 gauge shotgun slugs do not penetrate commonly available bullet-resistance vests. I have watched people shoot such vests and the slugs did not penetrate.

          Nevertheless, even though ballistic vests stop slugs from penetrating, those vests fail to dissipate the slug’s momentum and allow the slug to impart significant blunt-force trauma to the region on the wearer’s body where the slug hits. If that blunt-force trauma does not stop the attacker’s heart, it will significantly slow-down all but the most drug-addled attacker.

          As for your claim that there are exotic shotgun slugs which can penetrate ballistic vests, I would have to see them to believe it. Everything that I have ever read says that velocity is the critical parameter for penetrating ballistic vests, not projectile material, weight, nor construction. Unless there are shotgun slugs with muzzle velocities in excess of 2,100 fps — and I have never heard of such slugs — I cannot see them penetrating a ballistic vest.

  3. A gun is better than no gun. Shotguns fill the bill for stopping power at short range as good as anything. They are also cheap compared to the better home defense options (pistol, semi-auto rifle). Shotguns fall short when its comes to recoil, muzzle blast, and reloading. My favorite is a pistol. If you can’t get a pistol legally I recommend a pistol caliber carbine like the Ruger PC Carbine.

    • Pistol caliber carbines are also much more convenient to practice with at indoor shooting ranges. I’m glad they are getting their due, they have a lot to offer from a defense perspective.

  4. Mr. Boch gets this mostly correct. What makes the shotgun so good at home defense is: The situation nullifies the shotgun’s two big weaknesses, range and ammunition capacity.
    Shotguns lose effectiveness quickly with increasing range to target, which makes no difference whatsoever inside of a normal sized building (in a warehouse, a rifle might be better).
    The same goes for the high weight and bulk of the ammo. It makes no difference in home defense, since the first few rounds will likely be the only ones needed, and you should have plenty around to reload with (or more guns for a NY reload…), since it is YOUR house under discussion here… 🙂

      • I know we’ve had words before, but I give credit where credit is due. Excellent job on the piece.
        The only little nitpick that I hinted at was; IMO, the economical nature of the shotgun is just a side benefit. The free icing on the cake. But I can see it as a big selling point also. Esp. in view of how cheap and readily obtainable #7 1/2, low base is for practice. And still provides enough recoil to be good practice, including recoil recovery.

  5. Assuming that I had to choose just one long gun, it would be a rifle caliber pistol

    Shotguns are long and difficult to negotiate in confines of hallways and doorways. A 10-inch pistol is a much better choice.

    Shotguns are close distance weapons only. Since we never know what threat we will face, I prefer a more versatile weapon.

    Shotguns are low capacity and difficult to reload, especially under stress.

    The heavy recoil of a shotgun means training will be limited. It also limits the possibility of a spouse wanting to learn to use it for the same reason.

    • “Assuming that I had to choose just one long gun, it would be a rifle caliber pistol”

      Have you considered the post-shooting implications of detonating a rifle-caliber pistol indoors? Specifically, deafness?

      Did you really mean a pistol-caliber carbine?

      I agree on the PCC is a good choice, maybe even better than a shotgun for a skilled user with an eye towards using it in a yard or large building (someone mentioned warehouse) in addition to the home. Or as a trunk gun. However, you generally can’t buy those for $150. And you’re going to need more than one hit to reliably put down a motivated intruder.

      • All my rifle caliber pistols are suppressed, and as you said above, wear hearing protection.

        No, I meant RIFLE caliber. Far greater terminal effectiveness than a pistol caliber.

        You are correct that $150 won’t buy a good pistol, but can buy a decent shotgun, but like tires and brakes, I don’t skimp when it comes to life-saving equipment.

        I have 3 defensive, suppressed, 300BLK pistols. 1 in my bedroom on the second floor. 1 in my office on the first floor and 1 in my trunk. That is of course in addition to my belt-borne pistol.

        • A 300 black while an effective choice does not compare to the “stop em now” potential of a shotgun. There is a reason that many guys on point in Vietnam choose a shotgun. These are guys that had their pick of any gun they wanted.
          If you doubt the power potential see my post at the bottom. Brenneke slugs hit with over 3800 pounds foot. What is that about triple a .223 based cartridge?
          Now shooting that in a confined space in an urban area may not be the best choice for hearing but lets be honest on the power potential of a shotgun.

        • The different between suppressed rifle caliber v. pistol is pretty insignificant. Your 220 gr. subsonic .30 round isn’t much different from a 230 gr .45 ot 147gr 9mm. The 300BLK has better ballistics, but it’s not going to matter at 50 ft.

        • Are you future me ?

          I bought a 9mm silencer on my way to the 300 blk but 300 blk with 110 grain varmint is the game plan when it comes.

    • I’ve heard there’s one weird trick to cure that… I’ve been meaning to check that out right after I finish contacting some of these lonely local singles looking to hook up.

    • I spent better than fifty years hunting with various calibers of firearms. I’ve also shot a few indoors. Without hearing protection. I can still hear a quite fine. Yes you will have some hearing loss after you shoot a shotgun indoors but, it will return. I know this from experience. Hearing protection only became a thing in the last 10 to 15 years. If you have to choose between hearing loss and being dead. I believe it’s a small price to pay. Since most interior home defense situation are at distances of 25 feet or less. A shotgun is an excellent choice. Minimal need to aim. (Let the fight begin). As a shot in the direction of the noise or perp will most likely deter any further transgression. If not a follow up is never a bad idea anyway. I have a Tac-14 in 12 ga. for various applications and my wife keeps a Mossberg 500 Tactical in 20 ga. on her side of the bed. Which she never felt the need for until we moved closer to civilization a few years ago. While any firearms is better than none. A shotgun is an excellent choice for citizens with minimal firearms experience. Although they like all firearms do require Practice Practice Practice. At the end of the day. This is only My opinion and to each their own. I will say I have recommended shotguns of various calibers to numerous women in domestic situations over the years and have had no complaints. On two occasions there use prevented assaults from former domestic partners. Keep your Powder Dry.

      • “Yes you will have some hearing loss after you shoot a shotgun indoors but, it will return”

        Hearing loss NEVER returns.

        • Then I should be completely deaf by now. I’ve shot more guns more times than you can dream about. Never used hearing protection until a few years ago. When I started using ranges that required them. Still don’t use them hunting. Can still hear a squirrel fart from 100 feet away.

        • Darkman, hearing loss is very tone specific. I hear certain tones fine, others, not at all. For example, squirrels don’t typically make booming noises. my wife on the other hand occasionally does. At least that’s what I’m told. Can’t hear half of what she says! ;-D

      • I had a ND with a compact 45 once, ONCE, and now have permanent hearing damage in my left ear, with permanent tinnitus. Ever since I got them out of atf jail I have had a suppressor on my nightstand gun.

      • A few shots here and there will do nothing to your hearing. All this ear pro talk i hear is nonsense in a home defense situation

      • ‘Minimal need to aim. (Let the fight begin).’

        Yep, because shooting a 2-1/2 inch pattern at 15 feet totally negates the need for aiming the weapon.

    • I had an inner ear infection 45 years ago that wiped out 70% of the hearing in my right ear. My ear has been ringing constantly since then(the nerves died in the ON position, every frequency I can’t hear is playing all the time at full volume). Tinnitus is no joke even in just one ear. It can be very disorienting at times, especially after a loud noise. But hey, you will hardly notice it after 10 or 15 years.

      • It seems there are people here who try to minimize it…either through ignorance, or intention. Darkman is not the first, Knute if I correctly recall tried to play the hearing loss/tinnitus no big deal card….almost as if they want us to believe the public doesn’t need suppressors….

        • Whoa SFB. I have never advocated against suppressors or any other firearms equipment. I’m only speaking from my own experiences. So crawl back into your MAMA”s basement and finish your V game.

        • Mamas basement….Nice projection. You minimized shooting associated hearing loss and tinnitus, which makes you either a fraud or a fool.

        • Will you never cease that lie? The real posts containing what I really said are still there to check on, you know? Like, as evidence?

        • Knute, I recall your post, do you? You downplayed hearing loss and tinnitus. You’re the one lying here. What’s your agenda?

    • Shoot an AR indoors…..much, much, much worse on your ears than any shotgun. Shoot a 11inch AR with a comp on it indoors, you will have no more hearing.

  6. Kel Tek makes a KSG pump gun that will hold 41 rounds of Aguilla mini shells.
    So, the capacity issue is solved.

    • Mini shot shells defeat the purpose of using a shotgun. Plus the problem with the Kel-Tec shotguns is that it is Kel-Tec.

      • The herters mini shells I use have 6 pellets traveling at around 1,100fps. Roughly the equivalent of a pocket .380 mag dump every trigger pull.

        As I mentioned in a different post, 6 shells time 6 projectiles per shell is 36 projectiles flying at badguys before I need to reload. I don’t currently have a handgun or rifle that will hold that many rounds.

        I’ve owned several kel-tecs but not a shotty. I want that new one though.

  7. The point of the article is effective home protection can be had for $200 or less.

    Yes, there is all kinds of trade-offs or negatives to deal with (like hearing loss, etc.), but who among us wouldn’t accept the consequences if it meant protecting our family or ourselves?

    Sincerely enjoy everyone here and reading your comments, but posting about suppressors and $1K pistol ARs entirely misses the point.

    Heck some of the people that can only afford shotguns may not even pass the background check to own a NFA item.

    • A shotgun requires the least training.

      I have a friend who bought a Maverick and four boxes of shells because he had better things to spend money on. He shot it once, but because shotguns are that easy, he is confident, with two boxes of shells left…

  8. Ehhh…got rid of my Maverick88. Nearly impossible to shoot it at any indoor range. No one allowed buckshot either. I’m sold on an AR15. Getting electronic hearing protection soon. Just installed an UTG carbine length drop-in handguard. Mounting a light today. Getting a red dot. ALL in Cook County😄Oh and the Maverick88 couldn’t shrink down from 41″(?). Or be transported in a smaller case…

  9. There’s 2 basic schools of thought: continuity of fire (how many bullets can you spit out, how fast, typically resulting in an argument for an AR15 or a PCC) or power (leading to the argument for a shotgun). Don’t bother defending your home with a handgun. It’s a compromise in both schools of thought for the sake of portability, and if you’re using it for home defense, you don’t need that portability.
    Shoot both. Figure out what works for you, buy it, then learn to shoot it fast. Just don’t fire it into the air like a moron whose last name rhymes with “Aiden”. Me, I have an Ithaca 37, because I hate money.

    • Handgun in the pocket allows me to answer the door without scaring the muggles. And the handgun gives me a fall back weapon in case something goes wrong with the shotgun. murphy is real and a bastard of the first order.

      • A bastard Murphy most certainly is, you make a legitimate point. I still only consider the handgun as a backup rather than a primary for home defense, but I won’t be carrying one. At least not at 2 in the morning. And I can’t keep a handgun hidden strategically & conveniently near the door due to an infestation of tiny people, also known as children.
        But hey, that’s only my own nuance.

        • “At least not at 2 in the morning.”

          At 2 AM I’m not opening the door for anyone I don’t personally know.

          The last time a late-night person was at my front door saying they needed help, I called the sheriff’s department for them. (My Glock 23 was in my back pocket).

          The deputy that arrived got to deal with a taxi-driver who had a woman by the hair because she tried to bolt without paying her fare…

        • Popeye the Sailor Man,

          I do not sleep with my every-day-carry handgun. Normally, when something requires my attention in the middle of the night, I grab that handgun before venturing outdoors.

          Of course I got lazy on a recent unexpected nighttime excursion. Some small animal outside woke us up and I took my dog outside to encourage the animal to vacate or be quiet. I had been in a sound sleep and decided not to grab my handgun before heading out the door to shew away the rabbit or whatever it was. After my dog and I shewed the animal away, I went back inside. Less than 15 minutes later (just before 2:00 a.m.), an uninvited human guest with nefarious intentions rang my next-door neighbors door bell. In other words I missed an ugly confrontation in the middle of the night with a human trouble-maker by less than 15 minutes.

          Moral of the story: always have a firearm on your person if an unexpected event requires your attention outside your home, even if that firearm is a handgun. Of course a shotgun would be superior which was one of the points of this article.

      • This is why I prefer (under most circumstances) a handgun over a long gun for home defense. Home invasions often start with a ruse to get you to open the door (e.g. maybe a half naked young lady crying desperately for you to let her in). Once inside the invader is too close to deploy a long gun. If he’s close enough to grab the barrel of a long gun you’re better off with a handgun. Now the closest I’ve ever come to personally experiencing this sort of thing is when the doorbell rang at midnight one night – it turned out to be a Chinese delivery guy with the wrong address, but I saved his underoos from a severe soiling since he had no idea I was holding my 6-1/2″ .44 magnum Ruger Blackhawk behind my back when I answered the door. Sometimes it’s not a ruse after all.

    • Why not both?

      Anything worth shooting once is worth shooting twice. The problem with scatterguns is twofold.
      1. Capacity.
      2. Lack of precision.

      Believe it or not, the latter matters quite a bit when you’re fighting inside a building and have to put shots through drywall. It’s why my home defense magazine is 30 rounds of 75gr SP. Those rounds will happily sail through anything in my house a bad guy could conceivably use as “cover” without significant changes in trajectory or terminal effect, even from a Mk18.

  10. Point 1. I have sent an intruder running by racking a pump gun. He was kind enough to alert me to his prescience by breaking a window. I was kind enough to alert him to my prescience by chambering my kid safe pump gun.

    I live in CA. I was able to get standard cap mags for my g19 during the amnesty. But a real msr is out of the question here. And I live in a densely populated area. J frame and g19 are my primary house guns backed by a maverick security. The shotgun I spent less than 200 on brand new.

    Here in CA if we are engaging a bad guy outside the walls of our house we are likely in for a rough legal ride. So the shotgun serves my purpose.

    As for tinnitus? My rich uncle sent me on a tour of some really warm vacation spots in my misspent youth. Ringing ears, which I got in spades, was a small price to pay for not getting any other prizes.

  11. Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12-ga with CT laser sight. I have a $15 adapter on mine which allows use of Aguilla 1-3/4″ slug and buckshot rounds. With these, the mag holds nine. IMHO, the perfect home defense firearm. Shockwaves are also made in 20-ga and .410 for those with recoil sensitivity. My Shockwave was about $350 at a gun show, so it didn’t break the bank. I’m looking for an aftermarket bayonet lug I can put on it for close-in defense… 🙂

    • I would have one if I didn’t live in CA. Weld a mosin nagant bayonet to the front end. Gives you that mad max I’m for real look.

    • P.S.~ I got all the tinnitus I could stand in Vietnam in firefights – the unit didn’t issue earplugs and there would always be a comrade three feet away going rock ‘n’ roll with his M16A1. Oh, that and working on airbases near the flightline later in my career. In Japan, my quarters were 100 yards from the end of the runway where those fighter planes would warm up their afterburners…that kind of put the seal on my tinnitus. What?

  12. No thanks. I kept a Scattergun Technologies 870 in my car because I had to have a shotgun. Sold it shortly after I retired. If it’s long it’s a rifle. If it’s not it’s a handgun. I will concede that they can be affordable. Like anything else you can spend as much or as little as you want. I will also concede that they are extremely effective within their limitations. Saw one victim decapitated and another with the left side of the head on the bedroom wall and the right eyeball hanging on the cheek by the optic nerve. Shotgun at close range. The point is a rifle or handgun to the head would have made them just as dead. Shotguns are for upland game, waterfowl and turkey.

  13. Im a huge shotgun afficonado for home defense.

    Shotguns offer the numerous advantages John listed, and on top of that the issue of shot placement always comes up.

    We agree that shot placement is critical. With a shotgun placing a round of 00 into the torso deliver nine balls that are spreading throughout the body and increasing your chance of striking something vital. At short rnsge you may have only s fist size spread but once shot enters the body it will spread and rip and tear.

    I prefer No 1 buckshot and thats what I role with so I have 16 projectiles per trigger pull as well as sufficient penetration. Sucks that its hard to find.

    • Glad to see I’m not the only #1 afficianado…. better penetration than #4, more pellets than 00, what’s not to like? Can be hard to find, so when you do…. stock up!!

  14. Mossberg 500, $89 at K-Mart in a Blue Light Special about forty years ago. Somewhere along the line I picked up the 18.5″ barrel (a gun show I think) and that’s what’s normally on it.

    Mossberg 590A1, maybe I’ve $200 in it, that’s a stretch. Parts ordered off GunBroker from various sellers.

    Cannot imagine these two being inadequate to my needs. Or either one for that matter.

  15. Your comment about “JURY APPEAL” is right on.

    My marijunna bootlegging tenant who fired 2 rounds of slugs from a 12 gauge shotgun at my son in retaliation for our efforts to evict them exploited the politically correct image of the shotgun. The perp’s scum sucking whore of a defense attorney (Geofrey Silverman of Oregon) even put a fellow marijunna bootlegger on the witness stand and misrepresented him as a “gun expert” who then provided perjured testimony to support the “Elmer Fudd Defense.” After conflating the tenant’s Remington 870 pump action shotgun with an antique Remington 1873 double barrel shotgun, he claimed that his marijuana bootlegging gradfather could not have been firing lethal slugs because his shotgun had a choke. “Thebarrel would explode, just like what happens to Elmer Fudd when Buggs Bunny sticks a carrot in the muzzle.” Of course the Remington 1873 shotgun was manufactured 2 years before W W Greener introduced the first, practical, commercially produced shotgun with a choke. More importantly, both the Breneke slug and the Foster slug were specifically developed to be fired through a barrel with a choke. While many modern slugs are designed to be fired through cylinder bore or even rifled barrels, liability concerns compel the manufacturers to make their slugs sub caliber (.690 inch for 12 gauge shotgun with a nominal .729 inch bore) so that they can pass safely through a choke. Anyone familiar with internal ballistics, chamber pressure curves, and the effects of chamber pressure on propellant deflageration rates also understands that while shooting a full caliber projectile might cause a barrel to crack at the muzzle end, the barrel will not explode because the deflageration rate of any unburned propellant will not be appreciably affected. This imbecilic perjurer also claimed that even buckshot or slugs would “just be rolling along” beyond 100 yards. He obviously had not perused the tables of maximum projectile range in the curriculum for Oregon’s Hunters Safety class and was unaware of Journee’s formulae much less have the expertise to actually calculate the trajectory of a projectile.

    It was tremendously unhelpful that the eviction case was heard by Yamhill County Judge Ladd Wiles concurrently to the preceedings by the Oregon Bar Association against his wife. Of course Judge Wiles brings to his courtroom the same profound discernment that enabled him to remain oblivious to Amanda Marshall’s spectacularly flagrant adulteries until she got herself arrested for stalking her boyfriend while she was the US attorney for the State of Oregon. (Google this one.) It is also possible that Amanda gave Judge Wiles a dose of syphilis that penicillin can not cure which has rotted his brain. His demeanor in the courtroom even suggested that he might have been sufferring from the steady drip, drip, drip of gonorrhea and needed to call Peter Rooter. (A salute to Cheech and Chong).

    Judge Wiles’ eagerness to accept the Elmer Fudd defense is all the more amazing given the context of an guest editorial written by his philandering wife endorsing universal background checks. Ms Marshall claimed that she and her family were “responsible” gun owners who favored “reasonable” gun control. She offerred the claim that her 12 year old son had recently taken his hunters safety course so he could go hunting with his father (Judge Wiles should demand a DNA test to confirm paternity) as proof that they are gun owners. If Judge Wiles had been mentoring his son, he would have understood that the maximum projectile range for a 12 gauge shotgun is half a mile.

  16. I’d wager Me. Boch has never dropped a pheasant at 10 yards with a 12ga shooting #4 birdshot if he thinks you have to be within 3 or 4 feet for birdshot to be effective on bad guys. At 10-20 feet it will effectively turn a basketball sized chunk of meat into hamburger.

    The one place I really like a shotgun for home defense is in apartment buildings where overpenetration is a serious concern. Otherwise I prefer handguns because your personal home invader may use a ruse to get you to open the door for him and then you’ll be too close to effectively deploy a long gun.

    • Baseball, maybe. Basketball is a bit of a stretch. The problem with birdshot is penetration through soft tissue. A 1-2gr BB isn’t going to get far into tissue not matter how hard you fling it. Sadly, penetration depends far more on momentum than kinetic energy.

      • At close range it’s not A bb, it’s an ounce and a half of bbs hitting all in the same place at once. Watch the video, a skeet load penetrated through 4″ of beef at 15 feet.

        • So… roughly baseball sized then?

          The issue is that the mechanical interaction of a bunch of loose BBs vs a solid slug is VERY different.

        • a) that was a skeet load.

          b) there is no real difference when all those pellets hit in the same place at the same time. Kind of like how if you jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute it won’t matter a bit whether you hit water or concrete.

          c) the probability of a psychological stop is pretty high if you completely destroy an entire pectoral muscle. Even if the vital organs aren’t effected.

        • Not quite… Warning long physics discussion…

          Concrete and water are similar in impact tests but not identical. Water is almost always worse because water cannot be compressed. With water, any mechanical force applied to the fluid will, at most propagate at the local speed of sound. This means that the water won’t be able to “give” because you’re hitting it faster than the fluid can get pushed out of the way.

          Now for the bird shot mind experiment. Let’s say that your cloud of shot is still tightly packed when it hits the target. The first few BBs will go in and start to slow down. That means the BBs directly behind them will now face a much “harder” surface when they impact a bit later due to the deceleration of the first wave. Since your momentum vectors of the cloud will not be axially aligned, that means the later BBs will start glancing off of the leading edge and acquiring significant lateral vectors to their original motion. This will bleed off kinetic energy due to friction, induced rotation, and change in vector. Thus you will be losing a lot of your penetration as there is far less energy available to displace tissue and your initial momentum transfer will happen a lot slower due to the distributed decoupled nature of your original mass.

          Summary: 1oz of BBs going at 1000ft/s will have the same momentum and kinetic energy as a 1oz slug going at 1000ft/s. But due to a lack of mechanical coupling in the momentum carrying system, the mechanics of how the energy and momentum is transferred from the system is very different.

          For an example, take your cellphone and set it to high-speed camera mode. Then drop a 1 oz slug into a bucket of water followed by 1oz of BBs. Use the camera to see the effects on the water from the impacts to get a representation of just how differently the two systems behave.

        • One little side note I forgot to add… Concrete and water (at least for the case of high speed events) are mechanically coupled. Your cloud of BBs is not. That is what makes my explanation possible. Sorry… I have a hard time explaining mechanical motion without a whiteboard.

        • You are reiterating the old argument between light and fast versus heavy and slow. With modern ammunition, it doesn’t matter much from .38 to .45. With a shotgun, you’re dismembering the bad guy more than shooting holes in him.

        • Not really. The issue is a coupled mechanical system versus an uncoupled one. Weight versus penetration is a completely different discussion. It’s why 1oz of slug will be more effective than 1oz of buckshot which will be more effective still than 1oz of BBs.

        • I’m not arguing that they’re identical, just similar. Those first pellets slow down and are rear ended by the ones behind, pushing them farther into the flesh than they would penetrate if they had spread out (even if they maintained the same velocity) and impacted individually. Yes, a slug will penetrate deeper. I once shot a fairly large doe, quartering away at 60 yards that penetrated 3 feet of flesh before breaking the doe’s shoulder and exiting. Imagine that kind of penetration in an apartment complex. I’m merely pointing out that birdshot causes a massive wound at 15 feet.

        • That’s the thing Gov… they’re really not. For efficient energy and momentum transfer between free bodies, an impact has to occur along the axis between their centers of mass. Any time your impact vector deviates from that axis, you’re losing a crapton of energy and momentum. The loss in energy / momentum transfer has an exponential growth linked to the number of bodies in the system.

        • Well if there’s one thing a 12ga has a crapton of to spare it’s energy.

          Thing is, the claim wasn’t that birdshot was as effective or penetrated as deeply as slugs, but that you shouldn’t use it because it’s ineffective outside of 3 or 4 feet, which is demonstrably wrong. If you think you could take just one round of that skeet load and continue an attack your out of your mind. Now double the powder, double the shot size and increase the weight of the shot by 70%, and tell me you could take that and continue an attack.

        • Meth is one hell of a drug.

          On a side note… even a 12ga slug doesn’t have all that much muzzle energy. It barely clocks in at 2/3 of .308

        • Um No. Go look at Brenneke’s website which I posted below to see a readily available slug. .308 is not even close. Try a 300WM. ‘
          There are also more exotic leopards in the field.

        • You’re looking at the wrong column. The low recoil 12ga slugs have about 2/3 the ME of a .308. The full power 2-3/4″ slugs pack about as much ME as a .308 and the 3″ are 3000+ft/lbs. A quick check of the Federal catalog shows their 2-3/4″ ‘Prairie Storm’ pheasant load (for instance – just the first one I checked) flings 1-1/4 ounce of shot (#4,5, or 6) at 1500fps, which translates to over 2700ft/lbs of energy.

          Yes, meth is a hell of a drug, but most POTG don’t trust their lives to a .308 but a handgun, usually 9mm, which packs a whopping ~350ft/lbs of energy and pokes a relatively tiny hole in Mr. Bad Guy. If birdshot isn’t ‘effective’ for self defense at inside the house range, then a 9mm might as well be an airsoft pistol.

          Like I said above, I’m not in favor of long guns for in home defense under most circumstances, because the ranges are just to short to justify the unwieldiness of a long gun, but in an apartment complex where only two sheets of drywall that might as well be toilet paper separates you from your neighbors a compact shotty loaded with high brass 4 shot makes a lot of sense, and round per round will do a lot more damage (with 2000+ft/lbs of energy) than a puny handgun.

      • you do realize you just said speed and mass are more effective at penetration than speed and mass?

        • Yes, yes I did. It’s an odd difference between momentum and kinetic energy.

          M*V vs 1/2*M*V^2

          Momentum is conserved as mechanical motion. Kinetic energy can be conserved in a wide variety of ways.

  17. Pump 12ga Shotgun is my hands down favorite HDG.

    For the weaker and/or more squeamish, I recommend the Ruger 10/22 with a BX 25.

    Affordable. Prolific. Easy to use. Better than a pointy stick.

  18. “Pump shotguns are easy to use”

    Take someone to the range that has never shot a long gun. Give them a Pump action AR with whatever max rounds it (shotgun) has and a AR with a 30 round mag. Tell them to unload on a paper target as fast as they can.

    I bet they love the AR and hate the shotgun. I have seen many people try a pump action shotgun hitch up the pump action because they just don’t rack it hard enough. They get stuck in the middle or do not rack forward enough and then cant pull the trigger.

    If you have an intruder that has any kind of skill, a pump shotgun in the hands of a average home defender can be a one shot weapon if they miss with the first shot, because they will be taken out before they can rack another round and pull the trigger again.

    • Agree Larry…my AR is FUN. My Macerick88 was not. My wife wants tp shoot it. Not so with my shottie. Yeah we got handguns too.

    • That’s why I prefer an autoloader over a pump. Under stress, the gun is less likely to malfunction than I am.

  19. Defenders are responsible for each projectile fired, that means multiple projectiles spreading out over distance with each shotgun shell fired. With that in mind, people should familiarize themselves with “Home construction ballistics tests. 12ga, 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP ALL penetrated and exited far more construction layers than 5.56 HP or Ball ammo.

    Combine the above with low recoil and higher mag capacity, the clear choice is an AR variant. Nothing wrong with a shorter reach through construction materials and a much longer reach and accuracy when unobstructed.

    I can’t counter the cheap used shotgun prices. However, just before this recent anti-gun push; several ARs could be purchased New for well under $400 and thats in the new shotgun price range.

    Shotguns are for the birds. Lol

  20. Actually commercial 12 gauge cartridges loaded with lead alloy buckshot are available in sizes T Buckshot (.20″/ 12 grains per pellet) to TriBall Buckshot (.60″/315 grains per pellet) and in ultra-dense TSS (tungsten super shot) buckshot in sizes #2 (.15″) to BB (.18″).

  21. For all those comparing pistols to shotguns. One thing to remember. There is no pistol made that comes close to the stopping power potential of shotguns.
    If you want to stop something right now, a shotgun is an excellent choice. How about 3800 ft pounds? A 650 grain slug at 1600 fps?
    Not fun to shoot but if it can stop a buffalo it can stop any drug crazed maniac.
    Just be sure of your backstop because if you live in an urban area it will take something substantial to slow it down.

    Those shooting .223 “pistols” please understand that your pistol is just a short barreled rifle and they don’t come close to the terminal performance potential of a shotgun.

  22. Sure a shotgun is probably the absolute cheapest you could go, but an extra hundred bucks gets you into 9mm carbine territory with the hi point 9. My preference is a handgun in one hand and a bat in the other. I like options, I don’t want to be committed to deadly force if the situation doesn’t warrant it. I don’t want to shoot some unarmed kid but I sure would kick their ass

    • Between the handgun and the bat, the handgun is the less lethal option. Although, you can’t just tap somebody with a 9mm. (-:

      • Of course you can tap someone with 9mm. There is also the good old double tap if things get hairy. (Joke)

  23. Actually, I like to shoot my shotguns.
    My 870 with an 18″ barrel, +2 mag extension, and a spring loaded recoil absorbing M4 style stock. First round is #7 BS. Next 3 are 00 buck, then 3 slugs.
    My Mossy 590 is for fun, stays in the safe as does my .410 single shot.
    My bedstand gun is a Sig 226 with frangibles.
    Wife loves to shoot both (w/ear pro) so has no issues if a bump in the night happens.
    BUT!! Any gun is better than no gun, as long as you can shoot it and hit what you shoot at.
    My 2 n 1/2 cents.
    PS Didn’t the Germans in WW1 take the US to the international court in protest to US using Trench guns, i.e. shotguns?

    • I think your right. One thing for sure the trench guns were brutally effective. I don’t think things got much tighter or uglier than the western front in WW1.

  24. Unfortunately from an actual scenario a pumped up “angel dust” intruder will not notice the little 9mm unless off course you empty 17 rounds in their head. A pump will not only STOP THEM IT WILL BLOW THEM AWAY FROM YOU. Pistols have there place in my (all)
    families we have 18 inch 12 gauges for home defense. As I started unfortunately I have seen what both can,cannot do. Just the sound of the first pump your intruder truder knows they picked the wrong address.
    Bless you all and be careful whatever you select.

  25. Well, since we are being all misandrist like with the shitty cover picture, how about I put my $0.02 in: A shotgun, better protection than any completely useless female.

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