A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, February 23, 2009

Home Defense Shotgunning

Click to enlarge
"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."
A few years ago, I published my thoughts on shotguns for home defense, and I haven't cranked out much about the subject since. I figured I had said what I wanted to say, what I had learned over time, and that was that. Still, the lure of the dark side is strong. I continue to see people adorning their scatter guns with more mongo bongo black tactical secret squirrel crap than a high school kid with a new job, a beater Nissan sedan, and a J.C.Whitney catalog.

Now, Carteach0 takes on home defense shotgunning. First, he writes about selecting and equipping your shotgun of choice. Click to enlargeGood stuff there. Probably the most important bit is to have spare ammunition on the gun itself. Much of the high speed black plastic stuff can be done away with. Keep it simple. Don't even think about a pistol grip. I tend to agree with him concerning slings as well. Next, Carteach0 provides a few drills and thoughts on it's use.

He makes some good points. First, you can miss with a shotgun. It is not a magic gun. You have got to aim the thing. A 12 gauge is a devastatingly effective fight stopper....... if you hit your target. At home defense distances, the buckshot will pattern very close together, even out of a cylinder bore. It will not be an impenetrable hail of lead in your hallway. If you fail to draw a bead on the threat, you will likely fail to stop the threat.

Shotguns empty quickly. Reloading with the bead on target, especially while moving is a skill that takes training to acquire. You simply cannot expect the tactical Tam fairy to wave her magic wand and sprinkle survivor dust all over you in a fight for your life. If you don't train for it, you will not be able to accomplish it under pressure. Hell, if you do train for it you may still fail.

Training at the range with your home defense weapon is an imperative. Shoot at realistic distances for home defense, from cover, and while moving. Click to enlargeAlso important is learning to move about your home with your shotgun.

To avoid scaring the neighbors, do this when your home is empty, with the blinds drawn. Make absolutely certain your shotgun is empty. Check the magazine. Finger the follower. Then open and check the chamber. In that order. Then do it again. When you are absolutely certain your shotgun is empty, go though your house with it shouldered. Then go through doorways and halls slicing the pie over the barrel. Learn for yourself just how difficult it is to negotiate your home in this fashion. Think about where you have cover, or concealment. Then imagine doing it in the dark with the stack of books by the door that your wife or girlfriend left there for you to trip over.

Finally, decide whether house clearing or taking a defensive position would be in your best interests in a home invasion. All families and homes are not the same. The best course of action may not apply in all situations, even within the same home. Have more than one option, and when needed, chose the best one you have.

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Blogger Truthsayer said...

Great post both here and by Carteach0. A good used 870 with a mag extension and some way to hold extra ammo is enough shotgun for anyone, IMO.

6:06 PM  
Blogger tom said...

Gabe Suarez wrote a piece for his Warrior Talk mail list a while back, he gave me permission to reproduce it on my blogger so I doubt he'd mind it here in an expurgated and concise version. If he minds, I'm sure I'll hear.

Let me begin by saying that I have used these fine implements against live fighting adversaries several times. Moreover, I received the classic training in this weapon at the academy which birthed the "modern technique" of the shotgun.

Training and reality sometimes conflict.

I have a few shotguns at home. One is a Remington 870. Another is a Remington 11-87. A third one, a vintage side-by-side exposed hammer shotgun with many "rustlers" to its credit. And then, of course, a couple of Saiga 12s.

None have Ghost Ring Sights, Sidesaddles, Speedfeed stocks, Specially Ported or Choked barrels of ANY kind. They are light, simple, fast into action, and all of them are more than sufficient for any anti-personnel duties.

Things You Need: A fast handling lightweight weapon that you can get into action very quickly, and that has at least 5 shots available.
Things You Do Not Need: Ghost Ring Sights: In my opinion, the shotgun is NOT a rifle, nor should it be turned into one. The idea that you must somehow be able to reach out past CQB distances with a shotgun is a silly idea. Even the much discussed North Hollywood Bank Robbery involved shots within pistol range, and not way out there in rifle land.

Sidesaddles/Butt Cuffs: Many use these for slug switching. We've discussed that already. If your gun holds 7 or 8 shots and you need more than that, tactical withdrawal may be a better bet than anything else. How many shots are fired in pistol fights? It will be the same in shotgun fights.

Sidesaddles make the gun heavy. Add a butt cuff in addition to the sidesaddle and it become heavier yet. Will you have lots of ammo? Sure. Will you be able to shoot and hit as accurately with a light fast gun or an overweight gun? I think you know the light fast gun will allow you better likelihood of NOT NEEDING a reload.

Want extra ammo? Ok, get a belly bag with two compartments. Fill one with buck shot and the other with slugs. Keep that with the shotgun and take it when you grab the shotgun. Its not as sexy as a sidesaddle and no elite bitchin guy SWAT dudes use it, but it makes more sense than a weapon you can't even bench press.
If you need a rifle, the shotgun is a poor substitute. A CAR15, or even a Marlin 30-30 will outshoot a slug loaded shotgun every time. So grabbing a shotgun to do rifle duty is not a wise thing unless you are a cop whose administration does not trust its employees enough to give them rifles, and all you have and will ever have is a shotgun.
A rifle will do better every time. What can a buckshot loaded shotgun do? It can hit the adversary with something, even under bad conditions where your marksmanship has not kept up with the tempo of events in the mid to outer close range gunfighting zone. It is a weapon to be used at handgun distances against rapidly moving adversaries while you yourself are moving, where you cannot obtain (or don't have time to obtain) a suitable sight picture, and where the light is poor.
While on the topic of buckshot: The ability to scallop a target standing behind a "hostage". I suggest a long deep inhale to smell the coffee. Then grab you best most expensive Tactical Shotgun with all the attachments on it that the "cool" Gun Magazine Guys use. You know, the one with the famous shooting school logo on the stock and engraved so fetchingly on the receiver. Load it with the most expensive tactical gold-plated buckshot you can find and then stand off at 7, 10, or even 15 yards (whatever the shotgun school qual says).

Then place your daughter in front of that evil silhouette target. Still willing to take the shot? Some tactical cool guys will answer in the affirmative. Then DO IT I say. Most of these guys have never fired a shot at a real human being before much less at a hostage past the ear of an innocent...with a shotgun much less. Fantasy always loses out to reality.
Technical exercises devised by clever minds on the firing range often fail to emulate reality. We've learned a great deal about CQB pistol fighting in the last few years simply by allowing ourselves to leave the doctrinal box. Perhaps its time we slay the sacred cow shotgun myth as well. Prove everything you train to yourself in force on force. If a technique cannot be replicated against real people, get rid of it.

Train for skill and attribute development, not to beat some silly shooting test, or some bobbing/weaving target dressed up in old clothes.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All excellent words of wisdom. This plus your previous post a few years back led me to buy a used Mossberg 500 two weeks ago and use it as my home defense weapon. It has a 28in. barrel with a modified choke.

I was lucky enough to get mine with a nice leather sling that makes it easy to carry around, although I leave it off most of the time. I keep it in "cruiser ready" mode, full of low recoil 00 buckshot. I honestly can't see myself modifying it past a shortened barrel and a receiver-mounted shell holder. I may experiment with a tactical butt stock, but it needs no frills to be effective.

I haven't fully trained myself to clear my place yet, but I always keep it close by just in case.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Carteach said...


Thanks for the links, and for showing us your previous posts on the topic.

My friend, I find myself agreeing with you all the way.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, you also need to think about the "god forbid" realities, that you might actually have to use it then face a grand jury. I would much rather have my very functional Plain Jane 870P waved in front of the grand jury with a Anti DA trying to make a case than the one you have pictured. Perception is everything

12:09 AM  
Blogger MauserMedic said...

Here at Schloss Hundsabbel, the shotgun of choice is a military surplus Winchester Model 12. No excess material hanging off the weapon, and extra ammunition, in the event of serious wierdness, resides in a cotton M249 box magazine carrier. About as simple and low tech as it gets.

The current fascination with accessorizing weapons seems like a fetish. How long will it be before home owners will need NVGs and, hands-free commo and a complete set of body armor to "be serious" about home security?

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hands-free commo......... Hmmmmmm

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance you could explain a bit more about tapping for a new front bead Xavier? It's a casual mention every place I've read of somebody doing it.

I went the used 870 route and cut off the barrel myself using your instructions as a guide. It's patterned now and runs fine, but putting a new bead on a tapered barrel is daunting for somebody that hasn't tapped metal.

How to you find "straight" on a round, tapered barrel? The last thing I want is a pattern low left (or high left or right or) that I have to compensate.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Tam said...

There are tactical Tam fairies?


Who knew?

8:16 AM  
Blogger daddymax said...

"mongo bongo black tactical secret squirrel crap than a high school kid with a new job, a beater Nissan sedan, and a J.C.Whitney catalog."

Now that's funny right there. I don't care where you are from.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Am sure you've probably seen this, but just in case. His basic premise is sound;


11:46 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I use a straight edge, long enough to reach from the reciever to the muzzle. I'm certain there is a better way, but this seems to be sufficient for my purposes.

I mark the spot with a scribe, then drill a pilot hole, and finally tap it. The hole does extend through to the bore. Finally, I use red loctite on the bead to put it in place, and I file it inside the bore to match the curvature of the barrel.

As far as sizes, I can't remember off the top of my head. I have a bit and tap set aside for this purpose.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the followup Xavier. I'll bet I'm over analyzing it and this is one of those things where just doing it will do wonders.

12:52 PM  
Blogger tom said...

Recent home invasions where the un-invited visitors met armed shotgun resistance here in Texas were settled with 2 shots in one case and 3 in the other. Hang as much extra ammo off your gun itself as you want if it makes you feel more safe but it might be doing the opposite as far as rapid gun handling. Try it both ways.

In the REAL world:

Transitioning to a pistol is faster than reloading a shotgun, other than perhaps a SAIGA, will ever be and the ranges to target/scumbag will likely be about the same. If they're greater you should have grabbed a rifle anyway.

To each his own. I keep a M-4-alike in 6.5 by my bedstand next to the pants that already have a Kimber holstered to the belt when I sleep. There's shotguns around but they wouldn't be my first choice in most instances.

Flashlight makes more sense than hanging more ammo to me, if one were to add weight to a shotgun. The forward weight of a flashlight might actually smooth your swing tracking a target whilst extra weight on or near the butt of a shotgun isn't going to help in that regard.

Just my 3 pence. Everybody's their own captain.


3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who the heck is tactical Tam?
Tamera? I thought she was a pistol queen with a few military rifles thrown in. Are we shilling or VFTP

5:26 PM  
Blogger MNW said...

I think my Winchester m1912 will do the job.

As a bonus, no disconnector! If I want tactical I'll buy a Norinco m1897 Trench and throw a bayonet on it.

10:31 PM  
Blogger MNW said...

I think my 20" Winchester M1912 will do the job - the lack of a disconnector is a bonus.

If I wanted 'tactical' I'd buy a trench gun or clone and mount a bayonet.

10:33 PM  
Blogger TOTWTYTR said...

Great timing on the posts. The Box 'o Truth also has a recent post on the subject. His thoughts on a sling are a bit different, and I understand his logic. It's worth a read, as the site always is.

As to the timing, I bought an used 870 this weekend. The shop had several PD trade ins, which means they spent a lot of time in the trunks of cruisers and very little time being shot. I selected one that has really good metal, but the wood is in need of some TLC. At well under $200.00 it was a bargain.

Sling swivels are on order and a recoil pad is in the immediate future. As is a spare ammunition carrier.

When it's done, it will be my home defense shotgun.

I'll use the advice from you, Carteach0, and the Box 'o Truth to fine tune the weapon and my tactics.


2:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.... excellent post - both yours and the one you linked to.....


4:16 PM  
Blogger JohnLloydScharf said...

I have a shotgun for home defense, but I am still looking for a round that STOPS an intruder at four feet to four yards without passing through my walls and into the neighbors' apartments. BUCKSHOT goes right through at least six sheets of drywall.

I would be interested in any police report or autopsy where birdshot has been used.

I do NOT want to hear about penetration of ballistic gel at 25 yards. I know of no case where anyone was attacked by ballistic gel. Men who obsess over penetration, including those at the FBI need to do something about either their med levels or learn how to form a relationship.

12:45 AM  

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