Many homeowners are already familiar with the benefits of a shotgun as a home defense weapon. Despite urban myths like “He won’t want to hear the sound of a pump shotgun rack”, “Hit him with a double o’clock and he’ll be hamburger”, shotguns as home defense weapons are more myth than fact.
All of this isn’t to say, however, that shotguns don’t make good defense weapons because, in some instances, they do. You should be aware of the inherent limitations of the shotgun, why it would be your go-to weapon in some cases, and why, in other cases, a scattergun would be a bad option. In order to understand what a shotgun actually is, let’s first look at what it is – a smoothbore weapon that fires shell-based ammunition in gauges ranging anywhere from .410 to 10 gauge, barring any exotics. Shotgun shells are typically box-primed and contain a wide variety of materials, including light birdshot, beanbags, rock salt, buckshot, slugs, flechettes, etc. The versatility of a shotgun is unmatched by any other type of weapon, and the range of ammunition it can fire is unlike anything else.
What is the best option for me?
You need a tactical shotgun purely for home defense. The same way grandpa’s scoped deer rifle is not a sniper rifle, so is your goose gun not a home-defense shotgun. You should start by looking at the weapon’s caliber. Twelve gauge shotguns are simply the only option available for tactical use. Take some time to think before you assert that a 10 gauge is more powerful based on anecdotal evidence. First of all, as a pure home defense weapon, you should consider the ubiquity of ammunition. From department stores to mom-and-pop hardware shops, you should look for a product that nearly every store stocks. Choose loads that are suitable for your intended use. Last but not least, you would like ammunition that is common between law enforcement and military. 12-gauge ammunition fits all of these requirements.
Once you’ve mastered the art of 12 gauge, you’ll find there are literally hundreds of weapons at your disposal. The next decision you have to make is the type of action. Tactical shotguns have only two types of action: pump and semi-auto. John Browning himself is credited with perfecting pump action more than a century ago. The pump has a simple design: pulling back the fore end pushes the bolt open, ejects an empty cartridge, and feeds a shell, while pushing back the fore end chambers the shell and closes the bolt. Rinse and repeat until the bottle is empty. This design has a tubular magazine under the barrel that can hold between three and eight rounds, depending on the model.
Home defense with a shotgun
Most times, home defense will be a fast-paced, highly stressful, and unexpected event. On the other hand, if it wasn’t, you could just sit up on the roof and snipe intruders with your Remington 700 scoped rifle. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Whether you are facing multiple attackers in a home invasion or a simple burglary, you need a weapon that is powerful, reloadable, and versatile. Certainly a pistol or rifle can be adapted for home defense, but a shotgun has several distinct advantages:
1. Fear: Nobody really wants to be struck by one. Even the lowest level of scum can admit that a single bullet hole might be treatable, but a 12-gauge double-ought buck blast is going to leave an ugly wound that is extremely difficult to treat – assuming one survives.
2. Lighter bullets penetrate better inside a home, where rifle and pistol bullets might over penetrate and endanger family members in other rooms. If you’re concerned about friendly fire, stay on the lighter end of shot if you’re using buckshot or slugs.