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Old March 12, 2012, 01:21 AM   #1
idek
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12-gauge pump or .357 lever action better for HD?

First of all, my primary reasons for owning firearms are hunting, pasture clay shooting, and general plinking. I do not own any designated HD firearms. Of the guns I have, I figure my mossberg 500 or my Marlin 1894c would be my best HD options.

My first question is: which is a better choice?

Comparing the specific guns (if it matters):

The Mossberg 500 has:
5+1 capacity
24" barrel (I have choke tubes ranging from skeet to full)
a fiber optic bead (no rear sight)
a knoxx compstock (reduces recoil)

The Marlin 1894c has:
9+1 capacity
18.5" barrel
a Skinner peep sight (screw-in aperture can come out, leaving a ghost ring)

A few specifics about my situation. I live in a house in town with standard sheet rock walls. I don't have kids in the house. Then closest neighboring house is maybe 20 yards from mine. If I should ever have an intruder, I don't see myself going around trying to "clear" the house. I'd more likely hole up in a safe room and wait for the police (the station is maybe 6 blocks from my place).

My thought right now is that I'd feel better with the shotgun, but that is based more on my gut than on any hard data. Any thoughts?

Second question: what .357 (or .38 sp) ammo would people recommend for HD if I used the 1894?

Last edited by idek; March 12, 2012 at 02:54 AM.
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Old March 12, 2012, 02:03 AM   #2
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Quote:
My thought right now is that I'd feel better with the shotgun,
And you are absolutely correct in your thinking. Maybe get a box or two of buckshot just to pattern it with, and you'll gain more confidence in the shotgun as a HD weapon. load it up with the same buckshot rounds and you will have an excellent "last resort" weapon as by your post that is what it would be.
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Old March 12, 2012, 02:06 AM   #3
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Either one would make a fine self defense long arm, but the shotgun with buckshot would probably present the least danger of errant projectiles at your neighbor's house.

If you can afford it it would be better to get a 18" barrel for the shotgun. A 24" barrel is kind of unwieldy in a house. Load it with #4, #1 or 00 buck and would stop an intruder.

If you can't afford to fix up the shotgun then the Marlin 1894 would be a lot handier. I don't know how much energy a .357 bullet has after penetrating a standard frame wall, whether it would do much damage by the time it traveled another 20 yds to your neighbor. Might be spent by then I don't know. You could use lighter bullets such as 110 gr HP.
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Old March 12, 2012, 03:01 AM   #4
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Shotgun is easier to hit with. .357 has a lot of flash and will affect your night vision and the report, being supersonic, is likely to be more destructive to your hearing than the shotgun.

A shotgun slug, buckshot or even bird shot is FAR heftier than a 110 grain or even 200 grain bullet. 550 grains (1 1/4 oz, or 7/8 oz is 380 grains) at 800 fps from a shotgun carries a lot more momentum than a 158 grain slug at 1400 fps. Almost twice with the heavy load and 37% more with the 7/8 oz. Energy, because of the velocity is a narrower margin, but with the heavier load is still there.

For a stationary defense, the shotgun (especially if you add an 18" barrel) is the winner. It does not preclude you having both, but considering your arsenal, I would look at upgrading the other defense tools. How are your locks? Alarm system? Exterior lights?

As far as exterior walls, if you have a defensive center, there will be a "kill zone" in the approach(es) to that position. If you harden the wall behind that zone, you will have a backstop you can count on to protect your neighbors. A piece of heavy furniture. A mirror with real wood backing. Tall (and full) bookcase.

The nice thing about shotguns is that at across-the-room distances, even small shot has a heavy impact. At across-the-yard distances, especially after penetrating a layer of wallboard and exterior siding the spread of the pattern makes for much smaller wound channels in your neighbors, if any. By the time those small bird shot pellets breach your neighbor's wall, they have little energy left.

Good luck,

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Old March 12, 2012, 03:25 AM   #5
idek
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thanks for the replies. I've considered an 18" barrel, but since I don't picture myself maneuvering around the house much, I wasn't sure how important barrel length would be. Maybe I'll have to just tote the guns around the house a little and see how constrained I feel by the longer barrel.

Even if I go with the shotgun as my first option, I'd like to have some ammo for the lever-gun. Aside from the recommendation of lighter .357 bullets, is any certain bullet design preferable? It looks like most "defense loads" are hollow point. Is this definitely preferred over flat or round soft points?
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Old March 12, 2012, 06:26 AM   #6
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Even holed up in a safe room, you are better off with an 18 inch barrel. You should also consider that the plan may not work out just as you imagine. Movement somewhere else is still a very real possibility.
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Old March 12, 2012, 06:38 AM   #7
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Use whichever one you are most comfortable operating.
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Old March 12, 2012, 07:21 AM   #8
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My vote is for handgun.
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Old March 12, 2012, 07:41 AM   #9
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I love my 357 magnum Marlins! That said I would pick a pump 12ga over it any day for self defense.

The 357 magnum from a rifle is not nearly as piercing as it is from a hand gun but it is still plenty loud. While a 12ga is probably just as loud as a 357 magnum rifle the sound is much lower and much less piercing.

a 357 magnum rifle can all so get some pretty good numbers for velocity I have chronographed round over 2000FPS. The 357 magnum gains much more power from a carbine than most other pistol calibers.... but I would still take the shot gun loaded with buck shot.

you are lucky to have the police so close. The only time I ever had to call the cops it took them about 40 min to get to my house and that was for a home intruder (that turned out to be a Raccoon)
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Old March 12, 2012, 10:09 AM   #10
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Which have you trained with in HD scenarios and usage under stress?

Kind of more important than the gun. Either would work and I opine there isn't a whit of difference for the well trained good person with the correct mindset.
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Old March 12, 2012, 10:09 AM   #11
Bartholomew Roberts
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Realistically, I think both of the firearms you are looking at are more than capable of doing the job. The biggest factor in whether they perform or don't perform for you is probably YOU. So I would tend to go with the firearm that you have the greatest confidence in and the most time with. And if you haven't gotten some formal training with either firearm, I'd seriously consider taking the time to do that.

Quote:
Shotgun is easier to hit with. .357 has a lot of flash and will affect your night vision and the report, being supersonic, is likely to be more destructive to your hearing than the shotgun.
Barrel length is a significant factor in decibel level (see here for more detail). Both a 24" 12ga and an 18.5" .357 Magnum are going to be beyond hearing-safe levels; however in self-defense terms (i.e. you aren't planning to shoot thousands of rounds without hearing protection), the difference in damage to your hearing between the two is pretty much meaningless.

On supersonic/subsonic; even the "reduced recoil" buckshot I've seen for sale is leaving at about 1255fps from barrels shorter than 24".

And on "easier to hit with", I can say that at 21' the Hornady Low-Recoil 00 buck pattern from my 18" open choke 12ga can be covered with my hand. The 12ga might give me a little better odds of putting a hole through something vital (assuming it is loaded with shot that can penetrate deeply enough to reach the vitals) but I am not going to hit anything with the 12ga if I couldn't hit it with the .357.

Quote:
A shotgun slug, buckshot or even bird shot is FAR heftier than a 110 grain or even 200 grain bullet. 550 grains (1 1/4 oz, or 7/8 oz is 380 grains) at 800 fps from a shotgun carries a lot more momentum than a 158 grain slug at 1400 fps.
Momentum is a function of mass and velocity. Shotgun pellets are not a single mass weighing 1.25oz; but a collection of individual pellets weighing less than that (000 weighs about 71gr, #4 buck weighs about 19.5gr). So each individual pellet from a shotgun is going to be both lighter and slower than a 158gr bullet travelling at 1400fps. Shot will also be a lot less aerodynamic meaning that drag will rob them of velocity even more. As a result, a 158gr bullet at 1400fps is always going to have more momentum than any single pellet.

The main place this difference is important in self-defense is in penetration. The .357 is going to to outpenetrate even 000 buckshot. Because each pellet in a shotgun shell acts individually, lighter shot will have poor penetration - even up close. Regarding good self-defense choices for shotgun ammo, I think this site has good input: http://www.ar15.com/content/page.html?id=176
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Old March 12, 2012, 10:40 AM   #12
Lee Lapin
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Use the one you are best with, and have the most experience with using under some degree of pressure.

If you have no experience using either under any kind of pressure, GET SOME - either through training or competition.
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Old March 12, 2012, 10:46 AM   #13
dlb0412
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Shotgun is king for stopping. Barrel length doesnt matter much unless you are going room to room looking for trouble. The best thing to do is wait for them to come to you. That gives you the advantage. You will here them coming but they wont know where you are untill its to late.
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Old March 12, 2012, 10:55 AM   #14
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You asked about ammo

My answer to the which tool is best question is 12 ga pump 18.5 barrel. Load it with the correct ammo for your situation and you are all set. Train with it to be proficent and when you are train some more!

As for what ammo to load the carbine with you could consider hornady critical defense. If it will cycle in the lever gun. It is designed specifically not to over penetrate. It is a handgun round for sure so there is little data available on its preformance in a carbine.
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Old March 12, 2012, 11:00 AM   #15
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If you can't get a shorter barrel for your shotgun, then go with the carbine loaded with .38spl.....will be much easier to shoot, quieter, and less overpenetration.....
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Old March 12, 2012, 11:02 AM   #16
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I spend a great deal of time working with inmates in some of our state's finer correctional facilities. The greatest fear among those who had made their living through the fine art of burglary was the shotgun or "gauge" as they call it. What you've heard is true, the sound of a shotgun being racked is enough to send most intruders out the door.
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Old March 12, 2012, 11:14 AM   #17
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I keep my Marlin loaded with .357 Magnum 148 grain hard cast wadcutters (real magnums, not target loads.) They cycle a lot smoother that SWC's, plus I can fit an extra round in the magazine. It will penetrate like the dickens though, so if you're worried about overpenetration it might be a bad choice.

How about loading the shotgun with something like #3 or #4 buckshot, or "high brass" turkey loads?

Better have earmuffs handy, and use them if you get a chance.
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Old March 12, 2012, 11:37 AM   #18
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Like you I don't buy/own any gun for the purpose of SD/HD, the guns I have for other uses will just have to fill the bill. The best for HD debates have been going on forever and the facts are that I'd hate to try to live on the difference between your 2 options if they're in the hands of someone even remotely capable. Call it a tie, head for the range and run some drills to see which you which you might do better with. Too much thought into which one is best can be a bad thing and is generally just a time killer.

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Old March 12, 2012, 12:11 PM   #19
kraigwy
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This goes for anyone who is thinking about using a shotgun for home defense.

Measure you farthest spot in you home you may have to shoot. Then go to the range, set your target out at that range and see what the shot spread of your given load is.

An Example:

From the door of my bedroom to the doors of the bed rooms of my grandkids is 12 yards, 36 feet. Though separated by a wall, the way the beds are lined up, there is 6 feet between my granddaughters bed and my grandsons bed.

Also you have to take into a count the lay out of the house. Mine for example is set up so if someone comes in the front door, they are going to be directly between me and my grand kids bedroom.

If they come in the back door, they pass through the laundry room, through kitchen/dinning room and by the time I see them they are again between me and my grandkids.

The last paragraph prevents me from getting everyone into a safe room. If I have time to do that, I have time to face the bandit and keep him from entering the house in the first place.

Having checked the pattern of my shot guns, there is no way I'm going to touch off one in my house.

Given the two choices, Marlin Cowboy or 12 ga I'd go for the Marlin 38/357.

I use a revolver, but to keep on topic, I'd use the Marlin after figuring some way to put a laser sight on it. Also I'd use standard (non +P) LSWC 38s. The same ammo I use in my 642 pocket revolver.

I've shot enough critters 'n such to know it will take care of any problem I may encounter in my home. Its no louder then the shotgun nor is the muzzle flash any worse.

Please, anyone thinking about the shotgun and buck or bird shot, (or any other gun) evaluate your house (or where ever you may have to use it) and then check the pattern of your shot, using the distance you may have to shoot.

Also evaluate your choice of firearm, rifle, pistol, revolver, or shotgun to see how you shoot it and if it fits the lay out of your home. In my case, my home, I don't think I could effectively handle a long gun.

If you carry a snubby, be sure you learn to use it where you can CONSTANTLY make head shots at (in my case) 36 feet, if you can't then by all means practice or choose something you can shoot.

Just like a military operation. There is a time of the Warning Order to the Operation itself. During that period you evaluate the possible situation and what equipment you need to successfully complete the operation. We are in the Warning Order Stage simply by reading this post. Now is the time to evaluate, plan, and based on your evaluation, choose the equipment (firearm) to successfully complete the operation, that being protecting your family.
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Old March 12, 2012, 01:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
I don't have kids in the house.
Quote:
I'd more likely hole up in a safe room and wait for the police (the station is maybe 6 blocks from my place).
That pretty much says shotgun to me.
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Old March 12, 2012, 09:58 PM   #21
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Nah..

Just get a M1 Carbine.

But between the two selected I'd just spend $250 and get the Mossie shotgun.

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Old March 12, 2012, 09:59 PM   #22
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My thought is that if you hole-up in your room waiting for the cavalry, then the range involved would not yield any significant spread. I am disabled and neither the pump, nor the lever gun, appeal to me. My choice is between a Remington 1100, semiauto 12 gage, and a USGI M1 Carbine, auto loading .30 Carbine, or a Desert Eagle in .357 magnum, with 6" barrel.

I choose the lighter, shorter autoloader for holing up and waiting for the good guys ... the Desert Eagle.

I suspect if those are your only choices you must decide if you can manipulate the lever gun easier than the pump. You do not want any malfunctions under a real ugly situation. Take care of yourself the best you can.
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Old March 13, 2012, 12:39 AM   #23
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I really like the Winchester pdx1 slug buckshot combo they have for hd. It's a slug and three 00 buck balls packed together specifically designed for hd. Keeps a nice tight pattern and the recoil is very tolerable.

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Old March 13, 2012, 03:04 AM   #24
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Shotgun is best for home defence..
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Old March 13, 2012, 08:45 AM   #25
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I have never understood the practicality of combo loads like the PDX1. If you need a slug, use a slug load....if you need buckshot, use a buckshot load.
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