Shotgun For Home Defense – Avoid These Dangerous Mistakes!

Shotguns are a multi-purpose firearm, suitable for a wide variety of sporting uses, hunting purposes, and home defense. You can find them used in law enforcement agencies in many roles, from specialized door breeching loads, to deploying less-than-lethal rounds (aka: bean bags) in crowd control situations. Using shotguns in sporting and hunting has always been incredibly popular. In today’s climate of unrest, more people are seeking out a shotgun for home defense purposes. While this is a fantastic option, there are a few things to be aware of as you’re shopping.

  • Price points vary widely! A good, reliable, base model shotgun, produced by a well known manufacturer can be obtained for around $300.00. That being said, bigger brand names, such as Beretta, Benelli, and more can run $1,500 and up. I was blessed with the opportunity once to handle a custom Purdy, one of a pair, that was a cool quarter of a million for the pair. Do you have to spend big to get a good home defense gun? No- not at all. There are plenty of good shotguns out there.
  • Calibers vary. Shotguns, much like handguns, offer a wide variety of calibers to choose from. Do some investigating, and find out which caliber is plentiful, and price points. This is but one part in determining which caliber is best for your needs. Being able to shoot several different style shotguns in varying calibers is also highly recommended. Your goal is not only to find the most comfortable style and options, but also seek out what is the highest caliber you can accurately shoot. This caliber is what you should get for your defensive needs.
  • Size matters also. There are youth-sized models available, that offer a slightly shorter stock and barrel combination, allowing for a more comfortable fit for shooters with smaller frames.

There are two myths that are quite dangerous we are going to examine today. One we see also in the defensive handgun world- that of showing the Bad Guy the gun and they will stop / flee the scene. In this case, there is a belief that the sound of the slide being racked is enough to make the potential assailants decide to leave. This is not the case. Believing that a criminal is going to flee the scene because he/ they heard the slide on your shotgun in operation will get you or your loved ones hurt.

The second myth that is almost as dangerous as the slide rack belief is that you don’t have to aim a shotgun, as the pellets (or shot) contained within the shell will disperse in a wide enough pattern to stop a criminal. The cold, hard fact is that most encounters happen at 21′ or less, and there simply is not enough room for the pellets to spread. Aiming your shotgun properly is critical for maximum effectiveness.

Overall are shotguns a viable option for home defense? Yes. Do your homework, find out your preferred caliber, take your gun to a shotgun-friendly range and practice. You’ll find they are a joy to master and shoot!

  • Jim Baum

    It would really be nice if the person writing about firearms actually knew what they were talking about. Unlike rifles and handguns, Shotguns do Not come in calibers! They come in Gauges! Walk into a gun or general sporting goods department to purchase a shotgun and ask about what caliber they recommend for home defense. And if they know their business. They will know right off the bat, that this person knows nothing about shotguns. It is just like calling a magazine a clip, when it is a magazine you are interested in purchasing in the first place.

    • p38l5

      Damn! You are right! And I and a fellow LEO DID rack a shotgun once and the miscreant smuggler ran off and hid in a drainage ditch, where we caught him. Of Course, my partner was ready to use it also. Truth is stranger than fiction!

      • BIGOTIST

        A fellow Leo!!!! How sweet, kissing couple for sure~

        • p38l5

          ??????????? Kissing Couple? Trying to be a troll???

          • BIGOTIST

            Nope, just sounds gay and probably true-
            There’s a lotta lezzies in our local and state leos doin the nasty- whatever trips yer trigger~

          • LEHensonPROAmerica

            Because DEMON-rats are the real PERVERTS, and Nazis of our time.

    • Front Sight

      I have to give the author some credit. A 12 gauge shotgun, shooting 2.75 inch, 00 Buckshot, will produce approximately 7, 32 Caliber pellets. One pellet in the “Fatal Tee” will produce a corpse. It takes lots of practice to liquidate the assailant while it is holding a hostage (a most likely scenario), but it can be done. There is one small disadvantage to )) Buckshot: It will travel 100 yards with a higher than expected shot pattern. Before discharging a weapon, review and follow the “cardinal” shooting rules.

      • Mister007

        What are you talking about when you say to use 2 and 3/4 inch shells. A 12 gauge is not a cannon and no where does it shoot any thing like you state unless you mean the length but it sounds like the dia. of the shell.

        • Redfox007

          12 Gauge shells come in the lengths. 2 3/4, 3, 3/14 My Shot gun takes 2 3/4 to 3 inch. He said it was the 12 that was the size of the diameter. The 00 Buck is a very dangerous size for the one who is receiving it. B|

          • Mister007

            I see what you mean, I guess I just misread it so thank you for for correcting me..

      • LEHensonPROAmerica

        Quality 2 3/4″ 9 OO, 3″ 12 OO

  • BigAl

    I beg to differ, I once experienced the sound of a racking shotgun slide, and unless your
    Crazed and bent on self destruction, that distinctive sound will stop you in your tracks. I was a young troop in Camp Page Korea, walking in a secured area to visit another soldier working night shift in a radio van. This Korean guard, racked a round and I froze like a bunny.

    • David W

      The author is right, plenty of crackheads, paroled felons or hardcore gang bangers are packing heat of their own. You are one of the good guys, and good people cannot understand the mind or the motivations of a sociopath. And the predator always knows when someone is bluffing.

    • LEHensonPROAmerica

      DEMON-rats, and welfare scum ARE bent on self (and other people’s) destruction!

  • John Siemens

    It would be great if the writer knew the deference between gauge and caliber.

    • Willie

      410 shotgun is measured in caliber , it could be just the writers expression. All a guage means is the width of the barrel .

      • tunnelrat

        No, it the diameter of the bore, shotguns have always been measured by guage/bore diameter except for the .410

  • Jim Matis

    For inside the house I have a 20 guage Howdah pistol replica, fully functional, of course. It is black powder, percussion cap ignited and the barrels are about a foot long. Very effective spread of pattern, specially with my favorite load which is 15 each of 40 grain .22 Lr slugs snipped in half with a wire cutter yeilding 30 rougly 20 grain irregular lead fragments propelled by 45 grains of FFFG Pyrodex. Both barrels would fire 60 pellets. The irregular shaped pellets disperse rapidly. A perp caught in the hallway couldn’t run nor hid and should have pellets in him from, say 15 feet that would cover him easily from crotch to eyeballs. He would hear the cock of the hammers, normally, but if you hold back the trigger and cock it then release the trigger he would hear nothing but the blast. For a hostage situation I like my mounted flashlight on my Ruger Security Six loaded with 148 grain wadcutters so they don’t go through walls and kill neighbors like a .357 load would. A wadcutter in the forehead will kill anyone. But, I hear a noise in the house, I’m reaching for the Howdah. For in the yard, the good old SKS is a great weapon. I got mine for 100 bucks. Wiped the grease off of it, and with Russian surplus ammo fired an inch and a half group with it at 100 yards. It NEVER failes t feed, eject or fire no matter what configuration of cartridge I stuff into the clip…. a .30 rounder, of course.

  • deerflyguy

    It would be great if the writer really knew what he is writing about! His down playing the sound that a slide action shotgun makes as ineffective deterrant shows his ignorance. I’m ex military police, and part of what we were taught is that that very sound will often be enough to stop a perp in his tracks! You should never rely on it, and be ready to use it if necessary, but deterrance first followed closely by precise action!

    • actor44

      This gives your location ,making you in many situations more vulnerable .

      • deerflyguy

        You can’t have everything your way in a situation like that. I can tell you that, unlike you, and the author, I know what I’m talking about!

        • actor44

          Not disagreeing .Experience supports what you say . As you and perhaps not the Author; I know what I am talking about .I said not all situations . You seem to ignore this critical point. For those who would think this the sound of the rack ‘ The Magic Bullet ” so to speak could get two in them before completing the rack .

      • LEHensonPROAmerica

        While correct – if your finger isn’t on the trigger, round in the chamber and safety OFF – then that would be stupid. Better than the AR styles – last shot, the recoil spring “sings” giving your location. BANG – do not hesitate. PS why extract and waste a round anyway. Oh no round in the chamber is=n a TACTICAL situation? Now that’s really stupid!

    • Juanito Ibañez, TopCop1988

      “The cold, hard fact is that most encounters happen at 21′ or less, and there simply is not enough room for the pellets to spread.”

      Guess the author has never heard of a “spreader” choke for a shotgun, either.

    • Twisted Psyche

      I do not believe in “warning shots”. It wastes VALUABLE AMMO. If some stumbling criminal chooses MY home for a target, he must prepare to die. My warning shot will be to his head if I am a good enough shot to get it. If not, then my “warning shot” will be to his chest. Following shots will alternate betwixt his head and his chest until I am satisfied that he is no longer a threat to my household.

  • joe

    I still say that the most effective, most frightening sound in a darkened house is “CLICK!’

  • Yankee

    Lots of good valid comments: they are both correct and wrong. It does depend on the situation. In an indoor encounter,during the acts of getting your gun, moving to locate the intruder, and making the perfunctory shout to “get out”, the noise of chambering the shell, either via racking a shotgun, or drawing back the slide of an auto pistol is a proven deterrent in many cases. The combination of indicating one has a gun, plus the sound of chambering is very intimidating. This “opinion/fact” is backed by many police reports and, in several of the concealed weapon training videos, where several, now incarcerated burglars, have validated it. Most burglars don’t want to get shot or killed. Many don’t have weapons. But even if they do, shouting and chambering sounds will scare many of them away. In those other cases, you’ve not just tried to take a non-lethal approach, you’ve reduced your liability. The risk of giving away your position is real, but minimal, especially indoors where there are only a few possible locations from which the defender may come. And yes, the author used “caliber” for gauge, indicating some lack of knowledge or attention to detail. Not too important to the overall point of the article.


    Are these legal without a permit in all 50 states? NJ is a dream for the criminals with guns. None for the innocent potential victims.

  • CommonSense4America

    People keep talking about giving the bad guys a chance. They had their chance when they made the wrong decision to enter my house uninvited. As for ‘racking’ the shotgun for the ‘fear effect’, it MAY work but you are also giving up one round of ammo that may come in handy if there are multiple invaders. All of my guns are loaded and ready to go ‘bang’. Just my wife and I,,,no kids or grandkids around. The lock on our doors is not for our protection,,,they are for the protection on invaders.

  • usmcb10

    When I was in Vietnam we carried Ithaca 12gauge pump loaded with what we called a beehive round I don’t know how many little darts that were inside the shell but I have seen what they do to the human body one advantage is they don’t seem to over penetrate like double oo buck. You still have to remember you may have love ones sleeping in the next room and the last thing you want to do is to shoot through a wall and kill your family member. Whether. But again You use a shotgun or a pistol you always have to be aware of what is behind your target but again kudos to Alabama.

  • Bill Cash

    I have a 410 Savage given to me when I was 13 years old. Then I graduated to a twelve, 28″. But with all these home invasions we have had I went to a 20 guage, semi auto, sawed off (legally). This works well with 00 Buck. At 20 feet the pattern is about 15″ and it will go through the door with enough force to get whoever is breaking it down.

  • Bill Cash

    I have a 410 savage that was given to me at age 13. Then I graduated to a 12/28″. But with all the home invasions around her I went to a sawed off(legal) 20 gauge semi auto. It works great with a pattern of about 15″ at 20 feet. Using 00 buck it has the power to go through the door they are trying to kick in and take ’em out .

  • LEHensonPROAmerica

    My best friend’s son HAD to use a single shot 410 with birdshot to STOP a violent criminal. The guy instantly died. My friends sons reward? SBSD, (Hesperia, CA) Arrested for him for MURDER (later dismissed, with a PERMANENT Murder Arrest RECORD – so the next cop will be scared – COPS are wrong! – there is no way the assholes will clear YOUR RECORD – yet if CONVICTED, there IS a way – Why? to MAKE MORE VICTIMS!) NOTE these same Asshole cops were in the streets, with the helicopter and had THEIR GUNS out -ready to shoot the violent perp. Why do cops do this to HONSEST, Lawful Citizens? THEY are the ACTUAL CRIMINALS, wanting overtime pay to make “go NOWHERE” reports, AFTER the Citizens are victimized.
    August 16th (up to Sept 27) is the current target date by the demon in the white house to STOP EBT (food stamps) – WHY? To get the welfare scum agitated and activated to RIOT and do anarchy – AND to stop the November ELECTION. Notice the “new” illuminati lapel pin Hilary is wearing – it’s an PHONEX – holding the world. WAKE UP and RESEARCH – REMEMBER the FCC TOOK OVER THE INTERNET, ILLEGALLY – WHY??? LOCK AND LOAD
    Many cops HATE YOU when YOU defend someone – they’d rather have the power and Overtime $$$
    DEMON-rats HATE Gun owners for the SAME reason. 55,000,000 Murdered babies by DEMON-rats will tell you “what” DEMON-rats WANT FOR YOU! VOTE TRUMP 2016
    Cops, THINK before lying. Check what I am saying and find out the FACTS. YOU show your badge to get out of everything – USA Taxpayers get the SHAFT. PS I am a former Deputy.