It may be a controversial position to take, but that has never stopped me before. Gin is superior to vodka. Also, shotguns are not the end-all, be-all solution for self-defense. Especially not for new shooters. There are so many myths and legends about shotguns, most of which are about as true as that “Secrets of Apache Knife Fighting” VHS set that they use to advertise in the back of gun magazines. We were all young once, and that was a lot of lawns to mow back in 1993 dollars to pay for that. This one is on the house, though. Walk with me down the path Padawan and learn the strengths of the rifle … .
Don’t get me wrong; a shotgun is absolutely lethal in the right hands. So is a set of nun-chucks though, and that is kind of the point. You have to make sure you pick the right weapon for you and your situation.
I thought a lot more of a shotgun as an all-around tactical weapon before I started using one on the regular. 3-Gun ruined me on ever choosing one as my go-to gun. Yes, a slug or a well-placed pattern of buckshot will kill your ass dead. But that hit is harder to achieve than Hollywood would have us believe. Unless you are the good guy in this story of course, in which case the shotgun will just explode couch cushions and appliances all around you. My TBI must be kicking in, that had nothing to do with anything.
Anyway, we were talking about accuracy. One thing that has happened over and over again as I taught competition guys to use a shotgun was that I discovered they had never patterned the gun on paper. Tactical guys are even worse at this. Insanity to any bird hunter or skeet shooter, this is something that has absolutely been lost in shotgun translation. If you want to use a shotgun as your home defender, I challenge you to go out and actually see what your pattern does. Many a competitor has had his eyes opened once those BBs appear on a bullseye.
Not every shotgun has the same point of aim. Depending on rib height, intended use, and I would guess input from that manufacturer’s pro staff, shotguns can pattern up to a foot different at 10 yards. Some you hold under, some over, some right on target. But you absolutely can miss.
If you are looking at close range work, don’t be wowed by the fact that birdshot will turn a cardboard target into confetti at 5 meters. Look at how close together the pattern actually is, and then translate that to how easy it actually is to miss completely. People rarely hold still while you shoot at them.
While a semi-auto can be really cool and move a lot of lead fast, they can be unreliable when compared to a simple pump-action shotgun. They are much more reliable, but even they are not immune to jamming. When shotgun shells were getting very hard to find, manufacturers justifiably started letting some things out the door that were not exactly quality controlled. I distinctly remember opening all the new boxes I could lay hands too, from good ammunition companies, and being able to visibly see at least 1 bulged out or other non-spec round per box. I ran some through my pump action just to see, and on multiple occasions had to bash my buttstock on the ground to unstick the rounds. It can and does happen, and anyone that says they didn’t short stroke a pump gun once or twice when they were learning, is a damn liar.
Last but not least, let’s not forget manual of arms. A shotgun is many things, but unless we are talking about an over under, simple isn’t one of them. If you really stop and think about the skills you need to run a shotgun, and fix one if it jams, it is a pretty complicated affair. An AR-15 is much simpler to run, more reliable, easier to keep fed, and all-in-all a better choice in my opinion. So, if you decide you want to harness the amazing power of a shotgun for home defense, then make damn sure you know how it runs, what it runs well, and where it hits. You would do the same with your rifle, wouldn’t you?