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  • Robert Farago

A Shotgun is NOT Best for Home Defense

The truth about the home defense shotgun


A shotgun is a fearsome weapon. Shoot an attacker with a shotgun and they won’t fly backwards, but they won’t be doing much in the way of attacking, either. Chances are they’ll be busy dying.


A shotgun is as close as you’re going to get to one shot stop. Not one shot per se. A 12-gauge shotgun loaded with a 2¾-inch #00 shotgun shell unleashes eight or nine .33” diameter steel balls with one pull of the trigger.


If you’re on the wrong end of a self-defense shotgun, you’re getting shot eight or nine times at the same time. So… what’s the problem? Lots, actually.


Shotguns Are Unwieldy


By law, a shotgun barrel must be at least 18 inches long. That makes a shotgun a long gun. A cannon in the shape of a rifle, really.


No matter what you call it, a shotgun is best fired with two hands. As soon as a hand comes off your home defense shotgun, you’re behind the eight-ball. You have to reacquire your grip and aim.


If you had a third hand, no problema. You could use the third one to open or close doors, turn on or off lights, trigger or turn off an alarm, call the cops, shove a bad guy and/or grab a loved one.


Evolution has the final word on the matter: you’re a two-handed mammal. You can’t have your shotgun ready to fire and do anything other than move around, aim it and, if needs be, pull the trigger.


And you’ve got this big non-anatomical tube sticking out in front of you. A bad guy can grab your shotgun barrel, move it a few inches to either side of their body then stab or punch you with their free hand – unless they’re holding a shotgun or rifle.


Racking A Shotgun Isn’t A Deterrent



When a movie good guy with a shotgun wants to instill fear into bad guys they rack their shotgun (loading a round). Hey motherfuckers, I’m serious. A lot of homeowners think bad guys take these movies to heart (assuming they have one).


Will it work? It might. If it doesn’t, you’ve communicated your position and the fact that you intend to shoot them. Which could piss them off a little. Strengthen their resolve. Give them time to plan an ambush.


Instead of racking a shotgun to scare-off a perp or perps, you could stay quiet and maintain the element of surprise. Or, if you feel an irrepressible desire to call an audible, why not shout “I’ve got a gun!” and “I’ve called the police”?


You CAN Miss With a Shotg



Shotgun pellets aren’t bullets. Like first class airline passengers, as soon as they leave the tube they go their separate ways.


There are a lot of variables, but generally speaking, the closer you are to your target the smaller the shotgun spread. The greater the opportunity to miss the target.


At close range, a shotgun’s “spread” is roughly softball size. Imagine throwing a softball at a bad guy moving around in the dark who really doesn’t want to be hit by a softball.


What are the odds of missing? A long way from zero. By the same token, a shotgun is a big, heavy ‘mo’fo. Swinging it around to get a bead on your target can a bit of a challenge.


That’s at the best of times. If someone’s running at you with scissors (tsk-tsk) or some other weapon, you may not be as much of a marksman as you’d like.


A Handgun is The Best Home Defense Firearm



You can’t shoot eight of nine projectiles at once with a handgun, but you can rapidly shoot that many and more much larger (or smaller) projectiles. Bullets designed to go exactly where you aim them and stop two-legged threats.


While you need two hands for an optimal grip on a pistol, it’s still a hand-gun, not a hands-gun. You can aim and fire a pistol with one hand, leaving the other hand free to do all kinds of important non-lethal self-defense stuff.


You can also maneuver easily with a handgun, while keeping it secure from grabby hands. In fact you can hide the pistol until the last second, maintaining the element of surprise. And you can home carry a handgun, so it’s always ready for trouble.


Reloading is easier. Safe storage is easier. Passing it to a friendly is easier. Taking it to the range is easier.


That’s crucial. You’re far more likely to practice with a handgun than a self-defense shotgun. Meaning you’re more likely to be more confident shooting it, and thus more accurate, when push comes to ballistic shove.


Why Not Have both?


Caveat! A home defense shotgun is an ideal firearm when the cops are on their way, friendlies are behind you and you’re in a static defensive position (e.g., crouched behind the bed aiming at the doorway). Other than that, a handgun is your best home defense firearm.


One more thing. If we talking about an “outside toy” for armed self-defense, an AR-15 is your long-gun huckleberry. Lighter, more comfortable, ridiculously accurate and plenty ‘o projectiles. Great name for a stripper.

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