Home Defense With a Shotgun

Home Defense With a Shotgun

This is a discussion on Home Defense With a Shotgun within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; A few things I’ve learned over the years. For self-defense inside the home at short distances, the brand of ammo, type of choke, or size ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array 147 Grain's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Home Defense With a Shotgun

    A few things I’ve learned over the years.

    For self-defense inside the home at short distances, the brand of ammo, type of choke, or size of (#1 or larger) buckshot isn't as critical as shot placement from a well-fitted 12 or 20 gauge shotgun with a simple weapon light (i.e. Streamlight TLR1 or etc...). An open Cylinder (C) or Improved Cylinder (IC) choke with Low Recoil (LR) buckshot is preferred for quicker follow-up shots.

    While #1 buckshot offers the best overall terminal performance for civilians, LE Agencies still prefer hardened 00 buckshot due to its superior penetration. Sales is the driving factor as to why there are not more #1 buckshot loads to choose from for civilians. The International Wound Ballistics Association advocates “#1 buckshot as being superior to all other buckshot sizes.”

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs10.htm
    http://www.chuckhawks.com/home_defense_shotgun_ammo.htm
    http://www.brassfetcher.com/12%20gauge.html
    http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot45.htm

    As for a shotgun, keep things simple! A lot of fancy stuff on a Home-Defense (HD) shotgun isn't necessary! A plain-jane / reliable pump or semi-auto shotgun with a short barrel will do just fine! (SIMPLICITY … and … RELIABLILITY are the operative words here.) An open-choked 18 1/2" - 20" barrel is ideal and an illuminated front bead sight provides the fastest sight picture.

    Make sure the rear stock fits you OK (shorter aftermarket stocks are available from Hogue, Remington, or Knoxx Industries). A shorter LOP (Length of Pull) stock might be needed so that things can quickly line-up (straight) using YOUR natural Point of Aim (POA).

    Pattern your shotgun at the range with buckshot. Practicing with #8 target loads is perfectly acceptable and saves a lot of wear and tear on the shoulder.

    Pistol grips and slings reduce your reactionary and follow-up times (They have proven to be a liability inside the home!). Slings are useful over longer distances outside the home, but get in the way in close quarters. If you insist on a sling, get a quick-disconnect model for removal inside the home. A full-size stock with a pistol grip is a better overall setup than just a small stub mounted to the receiver. Most civilians will do just fine with a standard OEM stock that fits their size.

    Federal's LE 9-pellet LE132-00 load @ 1,145 fps with LR Flight Control (FC) wads offers outstanding performance in and outside the home (civilian version is PD132-00). These hardened copper plated buckshot pellets penetrate plenty and full-power loads are not needed unless your semi-auto won't function reliably with LR shells or you need extended range in more open areas. The full-power version of 00 buckshot with FC is LE127-00 @ 1,325 fps.

    http://le.atk.com/general/federalpro...lbuckshot.aspx

    "Birdshot, because of its small size, does not have the mass and sectional density to penetrate deeply enough to reliably reach and damage critical blood distribution organs. Although birdshot can destroy a great volume of tissue at close range, the permanent crush cavity is usually less than 6 inches deep, and this is not deep enough to reliably include the heart or great blood vessels of the abdomen. A gruesome, shallow wound in the torso does not guarantee a quick stop, especially if the bad guy is chemically intoxicated or psychotic. If the tissue crushed by the pellets does not include a vital cardiovascular structure there's no reason for it to be an effective wound.

    "Many people load their shotguns with birdshot, usually #6 shot or smaller, to minimize interior wall penetration. Number 6 lead birdshot, when propelled at 1300 fps, has a maximum penetration depth potential of about 5 inches in standard ordnance gelatin. Not all of the pellets penetrate this deeply however; most of the birdshot will only penetrate about 4 inches."

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs10.htm

    The whole point of self-defense (SD) is to IMMEDIATELY stop the threat and a shallow wound from birdshot doesn't put as many odds in your favor as buckshot does! While still deadly at a slower pace, birdshot is more likely to leave the BG additional time to inflict harm (than buckshot). Use what you want for SD, as it's your life on the line. Most people want to put more odds in their favor and buckshot is more effective at preserving life than birdshot.

    For outside the home, I suggest you avoid Federal's very soft Tru-Ball slugs due to their having significantly less penetration than LR 00 buckshot (i.e. LE132-00 or LE133-00). 00 buckshot with a FC wad is very effective in open areas providing the experienced shooter does his part.

    http://le.atk.com/pdf/Shotshell_Data_Book.pdf

    Furthermore, instead of the soft foster-style slugs like Tru-Ball, Brenneke's low recoiling 1-oz. slug (Tactical Home Defense - THD) at 1,325 fps does a much better job for general purpose use outside the home.

    http://www.brennekeusa.com/cms/l_tac...e_defense.html
    http://www.brennekeusa.com/cms/247.html

    Finally, the K.O. 1-oz. slug from Brenneke (designed for hunting) is an improved foster-style slug and likewise a deep penetrator and good for barrier penetration. The drawback is, that at 1,600 fps, recoil is significantly stronger than the THD load (above) and is overkill for self-defense. Note: The K.O. is fine, but recoil is ………… well, you know what I mean.

    http://www.brennekeusa.com/cms/ko.html
    http://www.brennekeusa.com/cms/267.html

    In short, Goldie Locks would say that Brenneke’s Tactical Home Defense load is just right! :) Not too soft like Federal Tru-Ball and not overkill for around the home like the K.O.

    _______________________

    P.S. The heavy 1 -oz. Brenneke slugs @ 1,476 fps are used by LE Agencies (i.e. HRT - Hostage Rescue Teams) for barrier penetration and provide the deepest penetration of any slug on the market.

    http://www.brennekeusa.com/cms/filea..._Forces_LE.pdf
    http://www.brennekeusa.com/cms/speci...rt_magnum.html
    http://www.brennekeusa.com/cms/238.html
    Last edited by 147 Grain; December 3rd, 2010 at 03:36 PM.
    Aim for the Thoracic Triangle Area between the armpits and the base of throat.

    1. Shot Placement: Center Mass Between the Armpits & Base of Throat
    2. Heavy for Caliber Bullet Weight / Construction
    3. Choice of Caliber


  2. #2
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    If Goldie had a shotgun, we'd have read a different story!

    Good info, by the way.
    Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    The two inbreds I lit up in my house didnt like the #7s at all

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    Senior Member Array Frogbones's Avatar
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    All good info.

    I have a KISS outlook when is comes to my 870 express. Though the loads I choose are the Centurion rounds. .60cal ball surrounded with 6 .30cal shot. 1300fps out of muzzle.

    I live on 5acres not worried about wall penetration into neighbors.....what neighbors, heh.

  5. #5
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    Timely for me. Thanks for posting.
    We're all in favor of reducing violent crime. It's just that pro-gunners have a method that is proven effective. Anti-gunners don't.
    ---
    John Moses Browning day is January 24th, 2011

  6. #6
    Ex Member Array Glocksin's Avatar
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    I completely agree with Federal ammo,and the no-sling and no-pistol grip.However,i must say that for a complete package,a light is wonderful to have on a home defense shotgun.In fact,my Benelli m2 also has Tritium ghost rings.

    I dont know if i will put it in the 'Home and away from home defense' section of the forum,or if i will do a 'blog',but i will soon be making an extensive piece about home defense and survival.Be on the lookout.

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array shockwave's Avatar
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    Agreed on almost all of this. I'm loaded with #1 buck in the Mossberg w/18.5 in barrel.

    Things I learned in practice: Ditch the pistol grip. Looks cool, feels cool, and is pretty cool to shoot. But not accurate. In a HD situation, accuracy is critical. So I added a stock.

    Things I was persuaded of from others: Add a light. If you're in a low-light situation, you'll want to know your target and what's beyond it. A 300-lumen tac-lite mounted under the barrel is a fairly easy add-on that doesn't increase noticeable weight.

    Add an ammo carry solution. I went with a side saddle. If the rounds in the tube aren't enough, you'll have more onboard.

    Add a sling. This point has various schools of thought. I weighed the pros and cons and decided that a good sling fitted well with the right swivels aids in retention and offers handling and portage options. If I need to transition to both hands free or move to a handgun, the shotgun stays with me over the shoulder and ready to deploy.

    More on the sling: Several first tries I made didn't work well. This isn't a simple matter. I had to work various sling configurations until I found what worked and what made for smooth transitions. Just putting some sling on isn't necessarily going to work. Like a good handgun holster (which is what the sling is to a shotgun), some trial and error is involved. Once you get it right, it's a positive add-on and worth it.

    When you're all sorted and happy with everything, practice until you're confident with operation, accuracy, and recoil management. The 12 ga. pump is a formidable weapon.
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

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    VIP Member Array Superhouse 15's Avatar
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    After I patterned a bunch of stuff, all my SD buckshot is Federal with the Flite Control wad. I was mad when they discontinued the low recoil version for civilians (PF154LR) but it's back as the 132 load. I assume my angry emails are why they brought it back.
    Try not to screw up so bad they name the screw up after you. (Station 15 saying)

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    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 147 Grain View Post
    A few things I’ve learned over the years.
    Pistol grips and slings reduce your reactionary and follow-up times (They have proven to be a liability inside the home!). Slings are useful over longer distances outside the home, but get in the way in close quarters.
    You have some research or statistics to back this up?

    Can you cite any reputable trainers that recommend not having a sling on a weapon?

  10. #10
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Interesting read. Good post by the way. I've learned a few things myself over the years. Right now, I don't have the time to write three full pages.

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockwave View Post
    Agreed on almost all of this. I'm loaded with #1 buck in the Mossberg w/18.5 in barrel.

    Things I learned in practice: Ditch the pistol grip. Looks cool, feels cool, and is pretty cool to shoot. But not accurate. In a HD situation, accuracy is critical. So I added a stock.

    Things I was persuaded of from others: Add a light. If you're in a low-light situation, you'll want to know your target and what's beyond it. A 300-lumen tac-lite mounted under the barrel is a fairly easy add-on that doesn't increase noticeable weight.

    Add an ammo carry solution. I went with a side saddle. If the rounds in the tube aren't enough, you'll have more onboard.

    Add a sling. This point has various schools of thought. I weighed the pros and cons and decided that a good sling fitted well with the right swivels aids in retention and offers handling and portage options. If I need to transition to both hands free or move to a handgun, the shotgun stays with me over the shoulder and ready to deploy.

    More on the sling: Several first tries I made didn't work well. This isn't a simple matter. I had to work various sling configurations until I found what worked and what made for smooth transitions. Just putting some sling on isn't necessarily going to work. Like a good handgun holster (which is what the sling is to a shotgun), some trial and error is involved. Once you get it right, it's a positive add-on and worth it.

    When you're all sorted and happy with everything, practice until you're confident with operation, accuracy, and recoil management. The 12 ga. pump is a formidable weapon.
    ^^^ Pretty much the same for me.^^^ Timely post as I've been wondering about the best load for my HD shotty (Mossberg 500 12 ga pump, 18.5" bbl). I've kept it loaded with Remington 3" Magnum Express 00 buck but wondered if this was the best option for HD. Thanks for the info.

    I added a Butler Creek folding stock to mine. It has a pistol grip but also a metal folding stock that can be deployed very quickly. I also went with a sling and have it to fit my needs (I can still deploy the folding stock, etc.). I added the side saddle and have 11 rounds of 00 buck on baord (5 tube and 6 side). I mounted a light with remote pressure pad on the forward stock. Press it once it lights up. Let off and press a second time and it strobes. The strobe feature is disorienting. I've shown it to several of my buddies in the dark and they just can't believe it. I mounted it in such a manner that I can unsrcrew it from the mount and screw on the standard end cap and carry it in my pocket. Nice option and versatility.
    Know Guns, Know Safety, Know Peace.
    No Guns, No Safety, No Peace.

  12. #12
    Member Array 147 Grain's Avatar
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    Mitchell and Others:

    We are talking about using a shotgun INSIDE the home and for the average civilian, their two hands take the place of a sling when moving such a short distance. Outside of the confined spaces within a home, a sling can make a big difference, but not inside! This common sense advice is taught by thousands of trainers like myself throughout the world. No need to beat a common sense issue to death.

    INSIDE the home = Apples.
    OUTSIDE the home = Oranges.
    Aim for the Thoracic Triangle Area between the armpits and the base of throat.

    1. Shot Placement: Center Mass Between the Armpits & Base of Throat
    2. Heavy for Caliber Bullet Weight / Construction
    3. Choice of Caliber

  13. #13
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BugDude View Post
    ^^^ Pretty much the same for me.^^^ Timely post as I've been wondering about the best load for my HD shotty (Mossberg 500 12 ga pump, 18.5" bbl). I've kept it loaded with Remington 3" Magnum Express 00 buck but wondered if this was the best option for HD. Thanks for the info.

    I added a Butler Creek folding stock to mine. It has a pistol grip but also a metal folding stock that can be deployed very quickly. I also went with a sling and have it to fit my needs (I can still deploy the folding stock, etc.). I added the side saddle and have 11 rounds of 00 buck on baord (5 tube and 6 side). I mounted a light with remote pressure pad on the forward stock. Press it once it lights up. Let off and press a second time and it strobes. The strobe feature is disorienting. I've shown it to several of my buddies in the dark and they just can't believe it. I mounted it in such a manner that I can unsrcrew it from the mount and screw on the standard end cap and carry it in my pocket. Nice option and versatility.
    I personally like the #2 shot pattern out of an 18.5" barrel at 30' inside the home. Of course....I've never tried it out inside the house, only at the range.

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MitchellCT View Post

    Can you cite any reputable trainers that recommend not having a sling on a weapon?
    Today at roghly 5P my doorbell rang and it was my local postman with a package...Inside was my newly ordered copy of Magpuls 'Dynamic Shotgun' disc.
    I watched it today after dinner. On disc one they cover accessorizing the "weapon system" (!) and of this they specifically spent time talking about sling use in brief...It is discouraged for specifically HD civilian users, by both instructors.
    Costas in specific states that the sling on a shotgun is better suited toward hunters and LEOs who have specific need to portage the gun as they cross distances of some degree for sake of ease of portability, safety (woods travel) and/or having both hands free to carry other gear.

    Later in Disc one they show one of two three gun competitors among the crew running his competition gun in what was a fairly basic skill function but high rate of speed feed and clear drill. He fumbled it due to his sling getting all up in the way. It was obvious how, why and to what degree this was the case. he was advised to manage that sling.
    Most every other student ran slingless AND both instructors selection of three demo guns they too were all without slings...At disc one.
    I'll watch disc two tomorrow with fresh eyes.

    Another that advises against slings for specifically civilian HD users is my own instructor Michael Rayburn of Rayburn Law Enforcement Training through which I have been through multiple of his courses including specifically 'Combat Shotgun'.
    For exact same reasons as Costas of Magpul Dynamics suggested he strongly suggests leave the sling off the gun for civilian users as it's much more of a management liability than a portage/carry benefit.

    As well I understand, but am not a student first person, the folks at Gunsite advocate same for again same reasons as was detailed this past summer during an excerpt featuring instructor Ed Head on one of their instruction focus weekly shows. I forget off hand the name of the shooting show...Combat something or Gun in face something or other.

    I'm sure there are others too, but these four I have seen or in the case of Rayburn interacted with directly and they all suggest(ed) in so many words for civilians toward HD to not run a sling.

    Myself, I've run shotgun both with and without sling in combat courses and under training.
    I stopped doing so some time ago. I only use a sling when hunting and at that only when needing to carry it for long distances or over land that is hilly/rocky or when I need my hands to carry other things. Otherwise the sling stays in my pack.
    For inside my home defensive use...It's much more of a liability than a minor carry it from one end of the hall to another neck connect asset.

    - 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

  15. #15
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    Nice post. I saved it for later reference on the ammo selection.

    One of the best additions I made to my Moss 590 A1 was replacing the brass sight bead with a tritium bead. It really helps let you see the end of the barrel in low light. I need a new one though as mine is about 15 years old and really starting to fade. (Another thing on the list to replace). While I handle my shotgun adequately, I'm only 5'9" and I could use a shorter LOP, but I keep putting it off. I really should get new Hogue stock next year. It's been on my list for more than a couple years now.

    The last thing I added was a six round side saddle, which I found to be a good addition. Some people don't like them, but I keep my slugs in it so I can load them individually as needed and still keep the gun leveled at the danger. I've also had an Eagle Industries buttstock pouch which holds six additional rounds of buck. Again, some folks don't them, but I've had it for years and been through two combat shotgun classes with it and it's never been an issue for me. The important thing for me is that with the side saddle and the buttstock pouch, plus the eight rounds in the tube gives me 20 rounds of 12 ga. mounted in and on the gun. If I'm going to grab the Howitzer, I want to be able to finish the job with it, and not have to transition to my pistol.

    As far as a sling goes, I have quick detach sling swivels. I remove the sling completely at home, but I have a simple sling for when I go in the field if needed.

    I do want to get a WML but I don't like the after market set up where you have a cord which runs from the pressure switch to the light. Too much of a risk having it get hung up on something. So, until I can afford a surefire model where the light is housed in fore stock, with no dangling cords, I won't get a light.

    Thanks again for the informative post!
    -Bark'n
    Semper Fi


    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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