Home Defense Shotguns
There is a lot of bullshit out there in the home defense shotgun arena. A lot of money can be made in the plastic tactical whizbang market, and it leaves the newbie wondering if the shotgun itself is really a necessity if he has all that extra junk to throw at an attacker. The truth is, a combat shotgun needs very little to be a devastatingly effective weapon, and they can be bought on the used market very cheaply. There is no reason for any home not to have one.
I'm going to dispense with the crap and keep things simple. I assume the reader has already made the decision on a home defense shotgun versus a handgun. What a person needs is a maneuverable gun with a reasonable capacity, and some replenishment ammo. All else is superfluous. The olive drab coated picatinny railed bright light laser guided Walter Mitty guns are fine, but a person should not confuse function with glitz. Of a concern as well is how that gun will appear when held up by a prosecuting attorney in front of a jury if must be used. A gun that looks like a duck gun rather than an evil black rifle will always influence a gun ignorant jury less. Finally, as in handgunnery, you can not substitute plastic high tech add on accessories for technique. I instead recommend a good solid hands on course to learn how to employ the shotgun well. Knowing your weapon and your capabilities with it is essential to successful self defense. The Clark family offers a course second to none in my area. I am unsure of what is available elsewhere.
A quick word on pistol grips i.e. no stock and firing from the hip........Hip shooting with a pistol grip is based on the common delusion that a shotgun with an 18 inch barrel will spray buckshot in a 4 foot pattern at ten feet, thus negating the necessity of aiming the gun. That's Hollywood. Get a real stock, and aim the gun. The 18 inch shotgun will not place an impenetrable 4 foot wide hail of lead down your hallway. My cylinder bore guns group 00 buckshot about 3-5 inches at 15 feet. At best, you might have 7 or 8 rounds in the magazine, so you had better be using them effectively. Look down that receiver and barrel. Aim the gun. To do that, you need a stock.
The best deals on shotguns will be found in a pawnshop. This was a 28 inch Mossberg 500 Field Gun I found priced at $100 during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I needed a "loaner" gun. At any other time I would have expected to pay $80-100 for it. It's humble, yes, but it is a no bullshit platform to build on. I chose this particular shotgun because of the slick barrel, the corncob forend, and the overall condition. I like the "cob" forend, as it does not overlap the receiver. This allows a sidesaddle installation. The slick barrel allows for easy trimming and a heatshield if desired. I simply cut it down to 18.5 inches for better maneuverability and reinstalled the bead sight.
I prefer the Mossberg 500/590 for several reasons. The safety is located sensibly on the back of the receiver. Being thumb activated, it does not require the shooter to reposition his trigger finger. The same can be said for the slide release, which is operated with the second finger. The deciding factor for me though is the way the shell lifter works. On the Mossberg, it is up out of the way through most of the operation on the forend. This allows easy reloading of the magazine. If a person ever gets his thumb caught between a Remington shell lifter and magazine during a tactical reload on a course of fire, he will praise Mossberg's design afterwards.
One of the first decisions to be made is whether a 5 round magazine is sufficient. You can buy extensions for the magazine to bump it's capacity up to seven rounds if you like. The barrel length has to be 20 inches to support that extension though, so the capacity decision must be made prior to shortening the barrel.
I am of the opinion that a 5 round capacity is suitable for my use. Thus, for me, the barrel will usually be a 18.5 incher. Before going any farther, one must make sure their used shotgun is a reliable one. Take it out and run a box or two of shells through it. Repair or tighten anything needed. Disassemble and lube it. It is amazing the dirt, mud and gunk these guns will harbor after a life of duck hunting. On my $100 Mossberg I had to tighten up the forend, and remove a limiting rod from the magazine.
As far as ammunition, I am a believer in 00 Buckshot. I like the low recoil police rounds, and the two and 3/4 shells allow me to squeeze five shots into a Winchester magazine after the limiter is removed.
I actually own
Speaking of the shuck-shuck noise of a pump shotgun..... Many say that the sound will make a criminal crap in his drawers. Well, it might, and it might not. It is not my goal to make an intruder have a fecal hemorrhage. It is my goal to render my home safe again. It is my contention that in 100% of the cases, the shuck-shuck sound will cause a rapid rearranging of priorities among all involved. There is no question that the 12 gauge shotgun is a formidable defensive weapon, and the realization that one is loaded just for you is intimidating like little else.