Working with the Loadout Room has given me access to tons of gun and gear I’d never thought I’d get the opportunity to access. From the big to the small I’ve gotten hands on with every category of rifles, handgun, and of course the shotgun. Throughout my experiences I keep coming back to the shotgun. In the age of the semi automatic carbine, the suppressed 300 Blackout upper, and even the brace equipped AR pistol I come back to the Home Defense Shotgun.
Why the Shotgun Sucks
It’s easy to sell people on the AR 15 and other carbines for home defense. They do offer the shooter 30 rounds, light recoil, and tons of accessories and customization options. Without a doubt the carbine is the perfect choice for some people.
Let’s face the shotgun is not a fair weapon. It doesn’t care how big you are or how recoil affects you. They typically offers 8 rounds or less of ammunition, and it doesn’t offer Barbie doll amounts of customization. The home defense shotgun certainly has its issues, but when push come to shove for close quarters fighting it’s hard to beat.
Why the Home Defense Shotgun Rules?
Power. Simply put per trigger pull the 12 gauge shotgun is the hardest hitting most powerful weapon in the home defense arsenal. With a proper buckshot load the 12 gauge shotgun is devastating weapon.
There is three main ways a bullet stops an attacker.
The first and least reliable is pain. Inflict enough pain onto an attacker and they stop attacking. With a gun this generally isn’t your aim, but it works. The home defense shotgun will certainly inflict plenty of pain.
The second way a gun stops an attacker is through blood loss. Again it’s not the best way to stop an attacker, but it works. The shotgun’s use of multiple projectiles creates one massive wound, or a dozen smaller wounds. With properly placed shots the shotgun can cause massive damage to the body.
The final and most effective way to stop an attacker is through proper shot placement. Proper shot placement means hitting a vital body part and causing things like organ failure. This is where the shotgun excels. The use of shot drastically increases your chances of hitting something vital in the body. With a number 1 load you are launching 16 pellets worth of effective firepower.
Don’t get it wrong a shotgun isn’t creating a wall of lead when fired. The modern shot pattern doesn’t expand a crazy amount at close quarters. However, when it hits the body it continues to spread and open up. The vital zone in the human torso really isn’t that large. The lungs and heart are generally located in one central area. A rifle or handgun round placed in this small area can completely miss these vital areas, or deflect off bones, or a dozen other situations that doesn’t immediately stop an attacker.
With a shotgun and proper ammo you are putting anywhere from 9 to 16 pellets in that area. Some may miss, some may deflect off bone, but what are the chances all of them are going to miss these vital areas? I’d say its slim. More than likely you are going to score multiple vital hits with one shotgun blast to the torso.
When the Lights Go Out
Another consideration is low light scenarios. It’s great to talk and train for situations where we have great visibility on our targets. In a home defense scenario I may not have that kind of visibility. I may only see the glimpses of my opponent between muzzle flashes. In that case, I may not get that great sight picture before I apply some pressure to the trigger.
With a handgun or rifle let’s say I aim for a vital area. I hit the target, but I’m three inches off my point of aim. Have I still hit a vital area?
With a shotgun I can still completely miss a vital area, but I’m putting I’m still putting a lot of lead on target. In low light situations I have a speed and accuracy advantage with a shotgun that I wouldn’t normally have with a rifle or handgun. This is really where the shotgun shines. In low light situations that requires quick and instinctive shooting the rifle and handgun don’t hold a candle to the home defense shotgun.
My own home defense plan is simple. I hear a bump in the night, I grab a shotgun, step into the hallway point the shotgun at the end of the hallway. That hallway includes the rooms to my loved ones.
Anyone comes in my hallway they either flee or meet Mr. Mossberg. I’m covering a very small area with a very big bore. It’s perfect for the instinctive shooting the shotgun excels at.
The Home Defense Shotgun Setup
A shotgun is not a rifle, and don’t treat it as such. Leave the slugs for property defense, not home defense. I also stay away from over accessorizing my shotgun. I like a red dot, and maybe a flashlight. Even then those aren’t needed, at least not in my home. It’s never 100% dark, but a good light is my closest to a must have.
Mastering the shotgun is less about accessorizing and fancy techniques. It’s all about brilliance in the basics. Learn how to reload, learn how to fix short strokes, learn how to clear jams and learn to control recoil. It’s not a weapon I’m going to be in a super long firefight with it. It’s for quick, and decisive firefights at close range. If I was going back to Afghanistan I’d take a rifle (or preferably an M240) but for the house? I’ll keep the boomstick on hand.