There is absolutely no question that a shotgun is one of the best defensive tools that the armed citizen can choose. There is also no question that some people will take a perfectly good shotgun and stick all kinds of bizarre accessories on it. I've seen shotguns with bayonet lugs, extended magazines and bright lights that I'm sure must have come off of a 1958 Cadillac. And I am convinced that, out there somewhere, is a guy who is trying to turn his Mossberg 930 into a belt-fed shotgunning wonder. So let's visit a little bit about defensive shotguns for the armed citizen and look at what they really need…and why.
If you look at some of the gun catalogs, you'll find that most repeating defensive shotguns come out of the box weighing 7 to 9 pounds. This is already pretty heavy and we don't want to make the shotgun even heavier by adding a bunch of junk to it. So the smart thing to do is to give serious thought and study to just what accessories you are pretty sure you can't live without.
One of the accessories that I don't think is necessary is an extended magazine. To begin with, I've seen too many of them come unscrewed and fall off the gun under heavy use. Secondly, the armed citizen really doesn't need the extra ammunition that an extended magazine affords. When you center punch a bad guy with a load of 00 Buck, it is amazing how quickly his henchmen become hard to find. I encourage readers to research armed-citizen gunfights and try to find any cases of a shotgun needing to be deployed more than about three times. (If you find anything like that, please share it with me because I have been looking and can't find it.)
As an instructor, I have found that pistol grips are another accessory that seem to be of dubious value in a defensive shotgun. Yes, I know that they look really mean, but many of my students find that they detract from accuracy.
One bit of equipment that is quite useful on the defensive shotgun is a good set of sights. A good set of sights on the defensive shotgun allows a person to make full use of the potential of the shotgun. If the fight occurs much beyond 30 yards, you will find that your buckshot has begun to spread so much that it is losing its effectiveness. That is the time that you transition to your shotgun slug loads and, with good sights, extend your range out to 100 yards.
My preference is for the ghost-ring sights from XS Sights or those that were made by Scattergun Technology, which I believe are now marketed by Wilson Combat. Other very effective shotgun sights are available from Vang Comp, in Chino Valley, Arizona.
If a person is using the full potential of the defensive shotgun, he or she may keep birdshot loads, buckshot loads and slug loads on hand to use depending upon the situation that presents itself. Some sort of ammo carrier is a good idea. I would suggest that you obtain the kind of ammo loops that fit onto the off side of the shotgun receiver or the leather, or elastic, boot that fits onto the gun's buttstock.
As mentioned earlier, there is no evidence that the armed citizen needs to carry a lot of shotgun shells. But she or he should be able to transition between buckshot and slugs should the need arise. Whichever type of ammo carrier you choose, keep in mind the need to avoid adding unnecessary weight.
Another accessory that I believe is important is a sling. Actually, the shotgunner will rarely need to wrap up in a sling like rifle marksmen do. What the defensive shotgunner needs is some sort of carrying strap. During a defensive encounter, there may be reasons that you need your hands free and simply laying down your shotgun might not be the very best of ideas. The ability to slip it over the shoulder on a carrying sling is really a handy benefit. The thin, black nylon straps that come with many AR-15s will work just fine. Personally, I use one made from bungee cord that sure that I got from Brownells.
So, there you have it—my idea of accessories that make sense for the defensive shotgun. Good sights, some way to carry a bit of extra ammo, and a carrying sling. There is no reason to weigh the defensive shotgun down with any other stuff, gadgets or gizmos. Keep the gun as light as you possibly can. It will be trim, easier to handle, and far more likely to be with you when you think that the goblins have focused on you and yours.
Editor’s note: What are your must-have defensive shotgun accessories? Tell us in the comments!