Shotguns are one of the most owned firearms in the USA, and are probably as popular as the AR-15. About everyone I know has a shotgun which they either bought or were given by their father or grandfather. When it comes to home defense, the shotgun has its own niche. The shotgun has many different slang names, the street sweeper, the room cleaner and the slugger. Yes, the shotgun is a good choice for home defense. There are many different types of shotguns, how does one choose the right type of action, what barrel length and gage. For this article, I am only going to discuss the double barrel, pump action, and semi-auto shotguns.
When it comes to home defense, the shotgun has its own niche. The shotgun has many different slang names-- the street sweeper, the room cleaner, and the slugger. There are many different types of shotguns, so how does one choose the right type of action, barrel length, and gauge?
For this article, I am only going to discuss the double barrel, pump action, and semi-auto shotguns.
The double barrel shotgun is simple to use. Just press a lever, break it in half, and load two rounds into the chamber. It will fire any type of shotgun ammo from the light birdshot to the heavy magnum slugs without any functional problems. Remember when Vice President Joe Biden stated all you need is a double barrel shotgun, he was sorta right. Just don’t follow the second part of the statement when he recommended that you "just fire two blasts through the door or in the air." This will certainly get you into trouble, and you can not use the Joe Biden defense in court either. A double barrel shotgun is a good for home defense firearm because of its simplicity, and with an ammo capacity of two rounds, it can be shot with a good rate of fire and little training.
Pump action shotguns are the most popular shotgun in the USA. There are many models available to choose from and the market is saturated, so they are economical. Pump actions are the most used type of shotgun by the police. It will fire any type of shotgun round without any malfunctions. I have fired all kinds of rounds through a pump action-- everything from light upland 7 ½ shot to the table leg of a 3-inch magnum 1 oz slug without a single problem. The pump action shotgun is a little more complex than the double barrel, but not that difficult to handle. To load the pump action, just insert rounds into the tube until you can no longer load it. Then push the action release lever, usually located by the trigger guard; this will release the action, and all you need to do is pump it to load it. As you pull the trigger, to reload all you need to do is pump the shotgun. On a side note, I have heard people say, “all I need to do is just pump the action, the sound of the action pumping will scare off anyone.” While it can be an intimidating sound, that alone is not going to work, you need to learn how to load, work, and fire the firearm so if that day comes, you can be ahead of the game.
Semi-auto shotguns are the second most popular and are steadily becoming more popular that the pump action shotgun. Semi-autos are not as complicated as some people believe. With training and practice, you can load and fire them at a very fast pace. Loading the semi-auto is just like the pump-- load rounds into the tube under the gun until you can not load anymore. Next press the shell release button on the side of the receiver; this releases the first round into the chamber. You need to cock the shotgun by pulling back on the action lever until you can not pull back, then release it and it will chamber the round. Now it is loaded, and all you have to do is pull the trigger. The action will eject and load another round into the chamber for you.
Semi-auto shotguns tend to be more finicky about the type ammo needed to make them fire properly. Most semi-autos will not cycle right if you use light bird loads because there is not enough power in the round to cycle the shotgun. Semi-autos tend to work better with the harder more powerful rounds. This is a slight trade-off; however, semi-autos are easier to use, and they tend to recoil little harder.
Most shotguns made for home defense tend to be in the 18 ½ inches to the 20-inch barrel length range. The 18 ½ inches is the minimal length by federal law a shotgun barrel can be without being classified as a sawn-off shotgun. This makes the shotgun short enough to wield inside your home without being too cumbersome.
Shotgun gauges are the same as caliber in other firearms. Gauge refers to the bore diameter, a lead ball that is the same size as the barrel and is weighed in pounds. For instance, a lead ball that will fit into a 12 gage barrel will weigh 1/12 of a pound, hench the name 12 gage. Any gauge is good, but the two most popular with the most available rounds out there are the 12 and the 20 gauge shotguns. Interestingly, all 20 gauge shotgun rounds are yellow, no matter who makes them. This is done so that a person does not accidentally place a 20 gauge round into a 12 gauge shotgun, which will make a bad day for anyone who shoots it.
Shotguns are great home defense tool. It's hard to make a wrong choice with these firearms.
A Second Amendment Advocate