I am a believer in the old adage that a handgun's purpose is to fight your way to a long gun. I recall when I was in the Navy, the Marine detachment aboard ship guarded the "special" weapons. Two Marines would stand guard. One would carry a M-16, the other a 12 gauge shotgun. The benefits of a long gun over a handgun are inarguable, and the power of a shotgun at close ranges when compared to a rifle is indisputable. The handgun's only advantage is portability. In one's home, portability is not a requirement. Thus, my choice has remained the home defense shotgun. Home defense shotguns are inexpensive, extremely effective, and intimidating as hell.
There are many that will disparage the shuck shuck sound of a round being chambered in a 12 gauge, and it's effect when heard by an intruder. That is an eternal debate, because all home invaders do not respond the same. The point is, that shuck shuck is not meant to intimidate, but rather to make the weapon ready to eliminate a threat in one's home. A person should never rely on scary sounds for protection, whether it is a shuck shuck of an empty shotgun, or a tape recording of a German Shepherd barking. The fact is, if Leroy runs away when he hears me preparing to shoot him, all is well. We both win. If he does not run, he will quickly lose.
In my home, I actually have multiple 12 gauge shotguns loaded with low recoil 00 Buck and ready to go. I keep the shotguns with an empty chamber, hammer down, safety off. Stowed like that, they all work the same, whether Winchester or Mossberg to chamber that first round. The shooter needs to grab the gun, rack the forend, aim, and pull the trigger. I can stand anywhere in my home and have a loaded 12 gauge not fifteen feet away, a situation that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. My shotguns are stowed out of sight, and out of reach to children, but readily accessible to those who know their location.
The success of any defensive system is in knowing it's limitations. I take a shotgun or two to the range every month or so, just to maintain proficiency. Classes on combat shotgun tactics and maneuvering are essential. It is often stated that a shotgun is easily taken away from a shooter if the shooter moves around a corner improperly. That can be true. One must learn how to maneuver with the gun if one is going to search their home armed. This applies to both a long gun and a handgun. One thing is certain, if an attacker gets his hands on the barrel of properly held long gun, the attacker does not have the same leverage the defender has. The properly trained defender will retain the weapon with little effort and live. The same cannot be said of the handgun, where the attacker and defender's leverage is equal in trying to control the weapon in a struggle.
At one time, when I built my first home defense shotgun, I went for the black tactical look. I have since reconsidered that path. By it's very nature, a home defense weapon is one that may be used to take a life. Thankfully, in my enlightened state, there is no duty to retreat from a threat within one's home. The chances of criminal charges for defending my or my family within our home is minimal. There are still the risks of civil charges, however. In consideration of the risk of an attorney exploiting the appearance of my shotgun in front of a jury, I made the decision to retain the wood on my subsequent home defense shotguns. I only shorten the barrels to workable lengths, and add a sidesaddle of ammo. Further capacity is addressed with the New York reload.
There are many factors to be considered in a home defense firearm. My decision was heavily influenced by the determination that a threat in my home absolutely, positively needs an incapacitating response. Nothing does that better than a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 Buck.