Since the days of the American frontier, the defensive shotgun has been known as a dependable fight stopper. Today, we may not go about our business with a scattergun tucked under our arm, but they are still an excellent choice for home defense. It doesn't matter if you choose a pump, auto or double barrel, the shotgun is a great defensive tool. If you are thinking about a shotgun for home defense, here are a few things that you might consider.
#1 – 12- OR 20-GAUGE...Some folks are concerned about the recoil of a 12-gauge shotgun. Of course, especially with proper training, the average man or woman can learn to handle the 12 effectively. However, if the shooting members of the family include a small-statured person, the 20-gauge is a good choice. At the ranges that a shotgun is employed for home defense, a 20-gauge will work just fine and do it with less felt recoil.
#2 – GET A SLING...In a home-defense situation, a person may need to have both hands free for a number of reasons. At the same time, it is always critical to maintain control of the defensive firearm. A carrying sling allows the home defender to hang the gun on his/her shoulder should it become necessary to have the hands free. It doesn't have to be a fancy sling; a simple, nylon-web sling will work just fine.
#3 – AMMO CARRIER...Another important accessory for the defensive shotgun is a way to carry extra ammunition on the gun. Shotguns don't hold a lot of shells and extra ammunition might very well come in handy. My favorites are the type of carrier that fastens to the side of the shotgun's action or the kind that can be attached to the buttstock. There are also shotgun slings that have cartridge loops on the sling, but I find these to be the least handy. An ammo carrier also allows a person to carry birdshot, buckshot and slugs...and to switch between the three fairly easily.
#4 – THE SHOTGUN MUST FIT...One of the things that helps a person manage the recoil of a shotgun is having a buttstock that fits the shooter. If the stock is too long, a gunsmith can easily shorten it. If the stock is too short, he can use shims to add to the length. If several people are going to be using the gun, it should fit the smallest member of the family. The simple reason for that is that we can shoot a gun with a short stock much more easily than one that is too long. Several companies now make youth-model shotguns that will work fine for the entire family.
#5 – GET SOME TRAINING...One of the most dangerous myths regarding the defensive shotgun is that a person can just poke it in the general direction of the target and hit dead center. Sadly, such is definitely not the case. The shotgun must be aimed if one expects to hit the intended target.
Once can avoid falling for a number of these old shotgun myths by getting professional instruction in the defensive use of the shotgun. The National Rifle Association offers such classes, as does Gunsite, Thunder Ranch and a number of other qualified schools. When it comes to personal defense, a person will never regret having gotten professional training.
There is no question that the shotgun remains an excellent defensive tool. I, frankly, wouldn't keep house without one. The wise homeowner gets a good-quality gun, a few accessories and good training, for everyone in the family who might have to use it. It is one of the best defensive tools that we can use against the violent criminal.