Aaron Spuler is a firearms enthusiast and recreational shooter. Follow more of his work at The Weapon Blog
Most people who own a firearm for home defense have a handgun. Although a handgun may be smaller and easier to lug around, it will not be able to offer you the kind of home protection that a shotgun can offer. For one thing, it is much easier to miss your target with a handgun than it is with a shotgun. Shotguns use pellets which spread in multiple directions after they are fired from their shells. This increases the odds of the homeowner hitting their target, which in this case would be an intruder in their home.
Chances are an intruder will immediately run away when they see a shotgun pointed at them because they know how much damage they can do. A shotgun at close range will do more than just injure somebody. It will completely incapacitate them, depending on where you shoot them. The shots could easily be fatal if you shoot the intruder anywhere in the upper body. And if they are far away, the odds are you’ll still be able to hit them because the pellets spread wider as they travel farther away from the barrel. If the target is far enough away, the pellets will do less damage than they would at closer range.
There are two types of shotguns suitable for home defense; the pump action shotgun and the semi-auto shotgun. Both are powerful weapons but you may find one better in certain situations than the other. Let’s examine the pump action shotgun. This is the type of shotgun that uses a slide action which requires the shooter to manually pump the shotgun to cycle its action and load a new shell in the chamber. The benefit to this manual pump is that it almost guarantees a successful action cycle. This ensures the gun will fire after you pull the trigger. You obviously wouldn’t want to be in a position where you have to shoot an intruder but your gun won’t fire. The pump action is what you would want in these situations.
The second type of shotgun is the semi-automatic shotgun. This is considered to be a modern day shotgun because it doesn’t require you to manually pump the gun each time you want to load a new shell. Instead, all you have to do is just pull the trigger when you want to fire it. This can be beneficial to those who are inexperienced with shotguns or who tend to get nervous under stressful situations.
For example, let’s say someone breaks into your home and you have to confront them with a shotgun. If you’re a nervous person using a pump action shotgun, you may “short stroke” the forend as you are sliding it. In other words, you may not pump the shotgun completely which means the action slide won’t successfully load a new shell into the chamber. But with a semi-automatic shotgun, you won’t have this problem. You just point the shotgun at the intruder and then pull the trigger. This will reduce your chances of misfire and increase your chances of protecting yourself against a dangerous intruder.
So which shotgun is the best to use for home defense? Well, they are both deadly weapons and will certainly leave a permanent impression on somebody who breaks into your home and endangers your family. If you are an experienced shotgun user, then you may find the pump action shotgun more reliable. But if you are inexperienced then go with the semi-automatic. However, you also have to consider the type of ammunition that you want to use with your preferred shotgun. The three main types of shotgun ammunition are birdshot, buckshot, and slugs. Birdshot is a shell which contains very tiny pellets that are under .24” in diameter each.
This means the typical 12-gauge shell can hold a lot of these tiny pellets in it. So when you go to fire it, there will be more pellets spreading outward. Birdshot is commonly used for shooting at birds or other flying targets. Buckshot is similar to birdshot except that buckshot uses bigger pellets and has fewer pellets in the shell. This is more suitable for shooting bigger targets like deer or even people. As for slugs, they are shells which contain one projectile in them. Shooting slugs is kind of like shooting a bullet. So you need to have good aim or else you will miss your target. But if you do hit your target then it will likely kill them.
The recommended ammunition type for home defense is buckshot. The reason being has to do with its vast amount of stopping power. If you were to use birdshot then it may not be effective enough in stopping someone, especially if they are far away. Buckshot has big enough pellets to where it can incapacitate an intruder and stop them from getting away. Just make sure you take your surrounding environment into consideration as well. If you live in an urban neighborhood or someplace where there’s a lot of people, buckshot could accidently injure innocent people who may be nearby.
Birdshot would reduce the risk of this happening, but again, it wouldn’t be as effective on the target. Now, you could just use slugs to avoid hitting innocent people but you have to be a very good shot. You won’t necessarily want to kill an intruder, though. The point is to just stop them from hurting you and to incapacitate them long enough for the cops to come and arrest them. Buckshot is the best in this case.
Lastly, you can add accessories to your shotgun to make it easier to use in certain situations. Three popular shotgun accessories include a sidesaddle, extension tube, and tactical flashlight. The sidesaddle is basically an ammunition carrier that attaches to the side of your shotgun so you have easy access to more shells. But if you’d rather have more ammunition ready to load in your chamber right away, then go with the extension tube. This can add a few extra shells to your shotgun’s ammunition capacity. These accessories are optional but they will ensure that you have plenty of ammunition ready in case you miss your target the first time.
Finally, if you want to add extra lighting to your shotgun so you can see intruders at nighttime, the tactical flashlight is the perfect accessory to purchase. It usually attaches underneath the shotgun barrel so that it shines a light on whatever is in front of you. That way, you know what you’re shooting at and don’t accidentally shoot your family or someone else you don’t want to shoot. The only downside to a flashlight is the intruders will be able to notice you coming toward them. But in most cases, intruders will run away as soon as they see the light shining at them. Use your own best judgment to decide which accessories are good for protecting your particular household.
This article was written by Vitaly Pedchenko, owner of the Rem870.com – blog and forum about Remington 870 shotgun. Competitive shooter and gun enthusiast. Author of the “Complete Remington 870 Guide” ebook.