SBS vs standard 18.5" defensive shotguns

This is a discussion on SBS vs standard 18.5" defensive shotguns within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; The thread about the gent given probation for having an illegal, sawed off shotgun, sparked a conversation about short-barrelled shotguns; SBS. The conversation led me ...

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Thread: SBS vs standard 18.5" defensive shotguns

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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    SBS vs standard 18.5" defensive shotguns

    The thread about the gent given probation for having an illegal, sawed off shotgun, sparked a conversation about short-barrelled shotguns; SBS.

    The conversation led me to wonder; is there any significant tactical or ballistic advantage to a SBS vs an 18.5" shotgun?

    Now, there is going to be a multitude of opinion about a 14" SBS being more versatile, in a HD scenario. But, I'm kind of the mindset that a person well trained, can effectively wield either one with the appropriate lethality.

    In my mind, it's just a personal preference. Just like so many other things; i.e. caliber wars, Glock vs 1911 vs revolver vs whatever. What it boils down to is the guy/gal running the controls.

    If one was going to carry a 12 gauge concealed, say under a trench coat or cowboy duster, then sure; a 14" barrel might be better

    I'm sure that the money and paperwork probably is the biggest deterrent to people using an SBS. If that didn't exist, would we all say 14" or 16" and nothing longer for SD/HD?

    I'm just wondering if anyone has any real world experience between the two that led them to choose one or the other. Or perhaps, just share the journey of thought and reason that led one to choose one, or the other; red-tape and bureaucracy notwithstanding

    PS: I did do a search on the subject and came up with nothing in the forum. Although, I did limit the search to the rifle/shotgun forum.
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

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    Other than manueverability in close quarters, car, building, I don't know of a tactical advantage of the shorter barrel. Now with that being said a properly assembled 14 inch will do everything a longer barrel will do in a smaller package.
    Simply cutting down the barrel with do nothing more that increase the pattern size, irregularally in most cases, increase muzzle blast and perceived recoil. With the sighting radius shortened some say accuracy is effected but that is a matter of opinion and who is shooting.
    For the average homeowner/shooter save the $200 tax money and take a class with your standard barrel length shotgun you will come out much better.
    Just an opinon.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    VIP Member Array Rob99VMI04's Avatar
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    I would recomend not using a class 3 item as a self defense option. Look up the Gary Fadden incident by Mas Ayoob. My opinion SD is SD anyway you cut it regardless of the tool however its not guys like me you will have to convince.
    Last edited by JD; October 4th, 2010 at 08:39 PM. Reason: Addressed via PM.
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    Short barreled shotguns have one major disadvantage...magazine capacity.
    The shorter the barrel, the more capacity you lose.

    The majority of SBS's are cylinder bore, the choke has been cut off so they really lose their punch past 20 yards or so.

    There is one short barreled shotgun that has no limitations though, and that is the short barreled Saiga shotguns. They have detachable magazines, can use various magazines and 10,12,20 and even 30 round drums and with the folding or collapsible AR stocks they are as short as any shotgun out there. Many of those are choked, making it an effective short range weapon. They are finding favor with various police Dept's, due to the short package, rapid reload capability and they are very handy in a patrol car.

    They are the ultimate short barreled shotgun, in a few weeks I'll be building one with a 12" barrel and a folding stock and it will have a Poly Choke "Breacher" on it. I'm a big fan of the PolyChokes on the SBS's as they look at home there and they have the full spectrum of chokes, including Slug.

    Although its a basically newer concept, the Saigas are really catching on. I've built 3 in last few weeks and they are being sold as fast as I can build them. For a pure defensive or combat shotgun, there is nothing that compares, they can shoot 5 shots per second...think AK47 on steroids, a 12 gage that can shoot 3 inch magnums as fast as you can shoot them and if that isn't enough, an instant mag change to try again.

    The SBS Remingtons and Mossbergs are yesterdays technology.

    For home defense covering a door or a hallway, there is nothing better. Here is sample of an 8" SBS built by TROMIX.

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    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    The only SBS's I remember us having were pistol gripped S/A 20ga's for close protection.

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    If you hold a shotgun with an 18.5" barrel down by your hip, you'll see that it only projects forward from your body a very short distance. Basically, it's just a large handgun. I can't see how you'd gain substantially more functionality for HD with a SBS.

    The word "substantially" above is important. Yes, you might gain a bit with a SBS, but enough to warrant the disadvantages? A Mossberg 500 Persuader is an off-the-shelf solution to this question.
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    You bring up very interesting points, HotGuns. I didn't contemplate the magazine capacity reduction in a tube-fed shotgun.

    I have built a Saiga 7.62, and it's a nice rifle; I may have to check out the 12 gauge.

    I'm a little skeptical of a pistol-grip only shotgun like the Persuader. It looks cool, but I question it's practicality.

    Personally, I don't see the advantages of an SBS warranting the red tape and ATF tax. But, that's just me...
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source

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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    There is no difference at all in "lethality".

    Unlike handguns and carbines/rifles which are high pressure (at the action and barrel) and often high velocity (projectile speed), shotguns are low pressure due to their large bore (regardless of chambering be it gauge or .410 bore) as in relation to the amount of gunpowder used to propel the projectile.
    Barrel length, down to 14", in a shotgun is not significant to projectile velocity as it is with handguns and carbines/rifles. Ditto for choke be it fixed or adjustable type.

    This has been well covered in prior posts with manufacturer test data sources in posts prior by me as pre-site upgrade.
    Run a query and if you do not find it let me know and I'll try to locate same suing the Google site archive which lately I've had to do a lot to find pre-site upgrade posts of my own and others. During the site upgrade in July multiple threads were lost as indexed by the sites current functioning search engine.

    The primary benefit of an SBS vs. an 18" (1.5" market nominal) barrel is that storage and portability increase.
    *Storage
    With such a short barrel the options to stow the gun basically anywhere greatly increase even as it is just four inches (stock size is same).
    Storage be it in a boat, motorized vehicle or at ones home or office. Locating places to stow it increase greatly.

    * Portability
    The gun is lighter by simply having less barrel material alone. Yes this does result in increased felt recoil as a counter effect. That's physics for ya.
    The gun is very 'handy' in the field among brush and areas that are not open field or plains. My gun serves multiple purposes including as being my turkey gun and this coming winter deer season will be used for same where as normally I'd run a 20" barrel 16 gauge.
    Treking through dense underbrush as is the most common in my area with a 'traditional' hunting shotgun is not difficult...But it does become very much noticeably easier & simpler with my SBS. As well where I hunt for deer and bear it is a large hill/small mountain and and former logging area with many natural out growth rock to get past and climb over.
    My bear rifle has a short barrel too; Marlin .45-70 'Guide Gun' model with a 18.5" barrel (they sell a 16" barrel in IIRC .44 as well). This specific model is very popular. Why? Same reasons as above, storage and all purpose portability.

    Magazine capacity is a non issue.
    My gun has the same amount of capacity as most any other production defense/combat marketed shotgun with an 18.5" barrel; 6+1

    Mossberg product specifications for the entire 590A1 line including the 'Compact' (SBS) line
    http://www.mossberg.com/products/def...&display=specs

    Same as a standard Remington 870 or anybody elses product as in the 18.5"barrel length class.
    Further a +1 tube extension can be fitted easily as available via the aftermarket...Although IMHO for hunters this is very much a non issue as we have capacity limits well below this anyway in every state. While for defense as _civilians_ and police too (we are not military fighting off waves of combatants among trenches in foreign lands) a capacity of 6 +1 is very much generally more than enough capacity.

    If you run into some issue where you require more ammo in the immediate then you have three options...

    1) On gun carry of additional ammo.
    My gun came OEM with a Speedfeed stock allowing me to carry an additional four shells (two shells per side of the stock) whihc I have found to be very handy toward field use as well as combat shotgun oriented training.
    Other aftermarket product include cuff and receiver mounted shell holders of varying number from two to as many as six that I've seen.

    2) Training
    My gun is fixed modified choke and by that it's pattern is dense, more than good enough for taking turkey out to 20 yards IF the shooter does his/her part AND selects good ammo which requires pre-field patterning (!) as with any other shotgun.

    For HD use (as within ones home) at distances that are on the outside speaking to the general majority distance would be no greater than 50'. Yes some people including do live in residences that are greater than 50' of clear sight space in width and/or length, myself at my last house from 2 yrs. ago included, but again the vast majority of Americans do not live in such places of vast interior size and open floor plan design.
    So wielding an SBS is not a negative as related to a tpically civilian marketed 18.5" barrel nor as related to a field gun at 20" and greater.
    But it is much easier...Noticeably easier!...To wield as within hallways and corridors of average width at say the 3.5' range of an average modern home (built since 1980). Older homes are even less as wide in hallway spacing and if you live in the northeast AND live in a home that was built during the turn of the century or prior as mine was (1890) then that hall and corridor width reduces considerably to as narrow as 2' as I have seen a number of times up here.
    Good luck navigating a hallway or corridor in order to locate and rescue a family member from their bedroom(child) and/or to make escape so as to flee to safety with shotgun in hand while trying to navigate through such corridors with a 'long gun' in hand. It is not easy as one might assume.
    To that end for some folks it may even make the most functional living space sense to invest in a handgun rather than any shotgun regardless of barrel length....Which generally have higher capacity than a shotgun at 6 , 8, 10 or more rounds per cylinder or magazine.

    3) Use a carbine/rifle.
    For those who by circumstance of location (deep woods cabin) or specific incident (attack by zombies) plan to dig in and go Alamo with an extended fire fight as from or within their non-military encampment residence, then well the issue of capacity with _any_ shotgun should not even be an item of thought muchless concern. You should be investing in a properly sorted out carbine (interior) or rifle (exterior) and that longgun should be supported by a box magazine singular.
    But again speaking to averages the vast majority of us (non-military civilians) do not live Outlaw Josey Wales style nor as akin to Jeremiah Johnson or that of Randy Weaver. Yes there are many people in areas around the US who do live just this way, but they know who they are and their thus special circumstances and don't need me nor anyone else to explain capacity options or anything else to them. They though do not at all number high though as related to the population at large even as they might number in the tens of thousands of residential locations as counted individually.

    Does one _need_ and SBS?
    Nope.

    Can one make dude fine with a conventional 18.5" market nominal type shotgun barrel?
    Yes, most definitely.

    Is there value then toward an SBS to offset the cost of procurement including mandatory licensing ($200 to the BATFE)?
    That depends entirely on ones own view as an operator AND that persons own bank statement.

    I personally prefer my SBS even as I have available to me several other shotguns up to a 28" 'goose gun'.
    Yes the recoil is somewhat increased but not horribly so...And I do not shoot shotguns as in the same body position one might for a carbine/rifle, as being off the shoulder marksman style. Rather I run the gun with my chest squared up and the butt plate no matter what shotgun it is deep in my pectoral (chest) rather than off of my front deltoid (shoulder). This greatly reduces felt recoil as well as overall body discomfort. I shoot large bore rifles this way as well including the Marlin and I have run that literally for hours on a range with no physical issue nro next day soreness and bruising.

    Yes the report (noise) is louder, only because the barrel end is closer to my face, but again not horribly so especially considering that when I am on a range or in the field (!) I do wear both eyes and _ears_ protection as I always do and have. Others may and do vary, and to that end find the SBS option to be much less appealing.

    Marginally increased recoil due marginally reduced overall weight (as compared to exact same model with 18.5" barrel) and increased report are the only negative factors...Not counting the $200 licensing premium.
    The former can be reduced if not fully compensated for as in my case by putting weight on the gun in the form of extra ammo (I use 4x1 oz. slugs). To me the resulting difference is unnoticeable.
    While the increased report is only noticeable to those not wearing proper ear protection. For HD use indoors firing a shotgun of any length is goign to suck noise wise regardless. The barrel being four inches closer to your face will not matter to you.

    Basically the SBS is another option in the available market toolbox.
    Some folk eat their chicken soup with spoons,others with forks and then there are those who sip it. ; )

    - Janq

    P.S.
    Hotguns that Saiga variant by Toromix is not an SBS. It is an AOW ('Any Other Weapon').
    The overall length of the gun is below SBS limits AND it has a folding stock as well which is not allowed at all on an SBS, which must be fixed and remain as on the receiver when barreled to be fixed.
    Also that gun having a box magazine does not have reduced capacity but rather increased capacity as compared to a normal shotgun (18.5" or 20+").
    As well with a barrel less than 12" velocity figures do drop, as per manufacturer testing of same statements not my opinion, and that barrel is cylinder bore as well and has no means to be choked at that which overall further reduces & limits it's functional use to be anything but a 'weapon' and at that just a very close quarter combat and/or narrow spectrum door breaching & entry tool.
    For this conversation and focus that item is not a good example to apply..But rathermore suited to specialized LEO use (drug interdiction and such) or for those who work in personal defense inductries although why a person would select that over a carbine or rifle cartridge based PDW (see the KAC 'PDW') is an unknown to me. IMHO.
    Yes on the surface it looks cool, but most folk in their home defending against Deebo and his comrades do not give much credit to style points. Function and it's absolutely positively gotta go to shoulder and work while having caveman simple functionality is what most have care and concern toward.

    Mossberg 590A1 'Compact' 14" barrel SBS ~ As shown Law Enforcement div. OEM configuration

    Image source - http://www.impactguns.com

    Remington 870 SBS ~ As shown non-OEM configuration with non-stock forend, rear sight, +1 magazine extension and one point sling

    Image source - http://www.tucsonshooting.com/5-07_Shoot.php
    Last edited by Janq; October 5th, 2010 at 12:24 PM. Reason: PS to HG
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacii View Post
    I'm sure that the money and paperwork probably is the biggest deterrent to people using an SBS. If that didn't exist, would we all say 14" or 16" and nothing longer for SD/HD?
    Probably not. As you suggest, it comes down to personal preference. Some believe that retaining a greater ability to strike at more-distant targets is important enough to not gain some additional maneuverability in close quarters. Some believe the opposite is beneficial. To each his own, as there's no "right" answer here.

    For myself, I prefer the added maneuverability. It's unlikely I'll be using a shotgun loaded with shot beyond 25yds. It's also fairly unlikely I'll need 7-9 rounds right then and there. I would rather have 5 rounds and yet be more comfortable with handling and maneuvering the gun. But that's just me.

    You're right in suggesting the money and paperwork is seen as a pain by many folks. It makes the gun more of a pain to carry around, as the BATFE demands the paperwork be with you at all times. It also makes the gun harder to sell, limiting the pool of potential buyers to only those who would be interested in going through a Class 3 paper chase. Altogether, these aren't things that many folks are willing to suffer through, all for a few inches on a barrel and loss of capacity.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Agreed with CCW9mm on every point.

    Resale will be a bear.
    But in my case I have zero intent/expectation to ever sell it. I expect to transfer it to a family trust down the road as my kids get to be older. Resale was a non-item distraction.

    And if I need to hit some distant target as beyond 20 yds. be it a game animal or zombie, then I'd switch to slugs...Or where game laws allow a carbine/rifle.
    Not a big enough functional negative deal to mention muchless complain about.
    As well if for some odd reason a person just had to have a long barrel shotgun then the option remains for them to either buy a second barrel and fit it when necessary OR simply buy on the cheap a second complete shotgun as new or used in X, Y or Z barrel length as again for specific application/use.

    I also feature my SBS along with a battery of other shotguns when I teach specifically a basic hunter ed. course (MA and USFWS).
    To my experience the vast majority of students as well as fellow instructors including LEOs (state and federal game wardens) do not themselves have any actual/real experience with a shotgun in any capacity as below the 18" range. Most being at the 20" and greater barrel length range because simply the assumption is that a 'field gun' has a long barrel and that 'combat' guns have barrels shorter than field.

    They widely have assumed that my gun would be useless but for trench warfare type military action, or the very common "That's what they use to blow locks off of doors!"comment from students who have watched too much CNN or played Call of Duty and think that stuff there is 'real'.
    Also with seriousness I have had people state to me that with the gun being black (no gloss matte) and the stock and barrel being black rather than camo, it couldn't possibly be useful for hunting. Plainly ridiculous on multiple levels never mind that it's easy as pie to change it's coloration if it actually mattered and I cared.
    But with seriousness that is commentary I've had on it as from pro-gun and supposedly illuminated post AWB type gun owners & shooters.
    Truth is folk have been hunting with black, brown and silver colored shotguns since long before Mossy Oak breakup print pattern was invented muchless applied to gun receivers and stocks.

    Also when I show students that the barrel is OEM as fixed modified choke (stamped statement of same into barrel along with it's gauge) they then get a sour pickles facial expression. As well when I mention that even if it were cylinder bore that it could very easily & inexpensively be thread cut for an adjustable/removable internal or external choke by just about any barrel smith for less than $100 and fit with fill in the blank aftermarket choke tube of choice...The response is typically ohhh wooow.
    I start my session with this and four or five other different type shotguns on a table and review them all so that students can see and handle them direct.

    Folks largely only know what they have been told and at that as by mentors who themselves typically have an exposure limited to 20" field guns and as _marketed_ 18" 'defense/combat' guns, the latter of which most commonly but not always are cylinder bore.
    An SBS is a specialty tool that is just as flexible in application and format as a conventional length shotgun, only in a real way of handling & storage is more so.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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    Tactical advantage or not...that Tromix S17 is a bad mammajamma. Love to have one.
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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwhite75 View Post
    Tactical advantage or not...that Tromix S17 is a bad mammajamma. Love to have one.
    Consider though that you do not get something for nothing.
    Again there is the problem of physics with it's even further reduced weight (greatly increased recoil) as well as the barrel being right there in your face (sound report and pressure).

    Some examples of the suck...

    Tromix Short Barrel Saiga 12 Shotgun #S17 - Mississippi Auto Arms
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sySzGLk-38
    Note the operators body. After shot one she is functionally non-functional to make accurate follow up shots...But in this specific case her only target is the air.

    My new Tromix 8"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5EYD_6af5k
    Note the felt recoil toward this mans size as weight. Clearing a hallway for him with a fullsize shotgun is not an issue, relative to his own mass itself doing same....Which in turn negates the concern.

    Tromix Saiga 12 SBS
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re7goKbKWiM
    A slightly less than average American sized male and note the recoil he endures. Significant.
    Much more so than me firing my own SBS and I stand 6'1" at 175 lbs nominal.

    That Tromix would be fun kind of for playing around, on someone elses tax stamp dollar.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

    "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman." - Florida Div. of Licensing

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    If you can't maneuver an 18.5" barrel inside your house, you need a bigger house.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    If you can't maneuver an 18.5" barrel inside your house, you need a bigger house.

    Post of the DAY!!!!!!!

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    P.S.
    Hotguns that Saiga variant by Toromix is not an SBS. It is an AOW ('Any Other Weapon').
    The overall length of the gun is below SBS limits AND it has a folding stock as well which is not allowed at all on an SBS, which must be fixed and remain as on the receiver when barreled to be fixed.
    Negative. A shotgun that starts out life as a standard length shotgun must be registered as a SBS.
    There is no mimimum lenght requirement on one, folding stocks, collapsible stocks and standard stocks are all acceptable. All Saiga shotguns are conversions, there are no SBS Saigas imported into the U.S. thus they cannot be AOW.

    A shotgun can only be registered as AOW if it is built by the manufactures as such.If it has ever been a standard shotgun it must be registered as a SBS. AOW also includes penguns, cane guns, wallet guns and such.

    Janq...you do realize that I am an 07/02 FFL right? I deal with these regulations most every day.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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