A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, February 23, 2006

House Guns

An interesting meme has circulated the gun blogs of late, a meme on the house gun. Tam has given her thoughts on a thought begun by Uncle. Jeff joined in the discussion, as did Jay. Josh has classified the different schools of thought.

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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I yield in deference to the shotgun superiority exhibited herein.

I also really dig the over-the-door storage - I've been trying to get the wife on board with a very similar style for quite some time...

Perhaps I need to print out a pic or two to show her how it's done???

8:16 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is a very good, informative post. I've been waiting for a weekend when I know I'll be free to sign up for tactical shotgun class at Jim Pruett's Gun & Ammo in Houston.

12:39 PM  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

Consider also the merits of #4 buck, and of having slugs handy.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Pawpaw said...

My experience shows that when faced with that sound (shuck-shuck), the vast majority of people will either 1)freeze in place, or 2)commence a mad scamble for someplace else.

Generally, either is acceptable.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on bird shot?

It can be devestating at short range (in-home, defensive use qualifies as short range) but I would think would be less of a concern in the event of pellets not hitting the goblin.

1. Would, say 7 1/2 or 8 birdshot be effective for short range (<10 yds) defensive use?

2. Would the dangers of shot passing through walls/doors/perpetrators and endangering family members be lessened with the lighter loads?

Thoughts anyone?

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My view on the "shuck-shuck" sound is simple. I don't want to shoot anyone. Really.

If racking the slide causes them to dive out of the nearest window, all the better. If it causes them to freeze on the spot in fear, great.

But if they advance, well... I know that they mean me grievous harm.

And I've got a round in the chamber with which to deal with them...

10:05 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

What are your thoughts on bird shot?

Remember that Whittington feller that went huntin' with Dick Cheney?

I prefer to stick with 00 Buck. Low recoil rounds make sure the gun has a quick recovery and overpenetration is minimized.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything I've seen about birdshot indicates that it is a poor stopper. Scant penetration (of the good - read: goblin - kind); minimal blast, etc.

Now, having said that... I've seen what #8 shot can do to a gallon jug filled with water at close (~ 25 feet) range. It blows it apart, with shot literally covering the entire jug. I cannot IMAGINE that a full load of birdshot into someone's face at 10 - 15 feet would not at the very least blind them and put them on the ground screaming like a little girl (with apologies to little girls everywhere).

Would I bet my life on it? No. Would I trade 00 buckshot for it? No.

In a SHTF scenario (i.e. Katrina-like looting, LA riots, etc.), though, I would consider having the first round be bird shot, though.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a long time before I decided to put my AR in long term storage in favor of my Remington Express tactical (12Ga).This was only after testing and compareing destructive power at expected defense range. For home denfense, the 12 rules!
Chris of the old northwest.Thats Ohio to the uneducated.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from the racist "Leroy" comment, this is a well written article. Too bad you had to take a perfectly good article about something as important as home defense and add unnecessary racism that only serves to make responsible firearm owners look bad.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Leroy is my brother in law.

Now who's racist?

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is using the name leroy racist? It's not just a black person's name... I could see how some narrow minded nitwit could just turn the whole thing into a racism argument.

Btw, great article, love the pics on your other page with the duct tape tactical look.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier . . . "New York reload" ???

Please clarify!


Love your articles I just moved in with my spouse to-be, we have a baby on the way and your knowledge has helped me unquestionably, I feel safer now. Thanks again!

Also thought of one more spot to place one of your guns, under the bed. This may raise an issue with "out of reach of children". My father always kept his there without any trouble from us as kids, but the closet is a perfect plan as well.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I New York Reload is simply the act of dropping of an empty gun and the grabbing of another loaded gun. It became a popular term among police when NYC cops began carrying back-up guns back in the revolver days......Two loaded revolvers equals twelve shots rather than six. You reload your hand, not your gun.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Me said...

considering you are in a house, Bird shot is sufficient, and wont destroy your walls, Keeping things in perspective, your target is at max, 30 feet away..unless you live in a HUGE house..anything more is overkill.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick Cheney used birdshot.........

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the "Leroy" cite was funny! That's the way it is for me in my neighborhood. Political correctness can't hide the truth...

1:49 PM  
Blogger The Law of Attraction Group said...

If you want to use a wimpier round, go with a #4 Buck. A 6 to 8 birdshot is just going to tick someone off who is out to get you.... Remember 000 Buck is like getting hit with 8 to 12 9 mm bullets all at one time!

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, birdshot can still work quite a number on walls, doing damage that will definitely require the same amount of fixing as buckshot would. it blows right through drywall, especially at the short ranges being mentioned.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not worried about the walls,though I am concerned about overpenetration hurting an innocent.

If you have to discharge the weapon, you're already in a bad situation that is going to get worse even if you effectively stop the intruder. Whether you use birdshot or 00, the wall is the least of your problems at that point.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally want my home defense gun in case some crazy racist rednecks decide they want to string up some black folks like back in the day.

It goes both ways!

12:34 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

That is good Anon, it was the Deacons for Defense that stopped the Klan, not MLK nor Malcolm X.

Black on black crime is far more frequent than Klan lynchings today though. You might consider rearranging your racist thinking.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just not sure about the "multiple" shotgun thing. If at all time you are at less than 15 feet from a shotgun, so does your assaillant, right?
Maybe a single shotgun in a centered well hidden spot would be better?
Just a thought...

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use both 12 and 20 guages-wife can handle the 20 and I can use either. All loaded with #3 buck or larger. As far as wall penetration-the wad from a 12 will go thru a drywall wall all by itself, so just aim carefully.

Sgt Bill (US Army-ret)

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see references to the penetration of walls. I feel like I view this issue much differently than most. The only overpenetration issues I am concerned with are exit wound projectiles. This is the only reason I don't use slugs. At 15 feet my shot pattern is effectively still a single mass so with proper aim I have few if any missed pellets. The longest possible shot through my house that still allows an acceptable site picture is 17 feet. With #1 buck I worry less about an exiting pellet goin though a wall than I would with slugs but light shot in a 2 inch pattern is still devastating. Just my 2cents.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Very nice!!! Youtube "leroy jenkins" amd then come back here and tell us how Leroy is racist...

Love the hanging idea, I'm just gonna do it, then show the wife.. Its only a difference of forgiveness and permission.

11:24 PM  

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