View Full Version : Shotgun for home defense for a woman?

September 3, 1999, 01:44 AM
I am new to guns but signed up for a class and hope to get my concealed weapons permit. A friend initially recommended the SIG P229 pistol to me, but the more I read about the versatility and effectiveness of shotguns, the more I am thinking I would like a shotgun. Does anyone know of a good shotgun that I could handle, being 5'6 and slim build, with very small hands? I have read a bit about the Mossberg 500/590, the Remington 870, and the 1100LT -20 Youth, and the Winchester 1300 Lady Defender. (Hope I am getting these right.)My concern is the recoil because I am not very strong. Also, I am not sure about the length of the barrell. I could afford about $ 300, but not much more than that. Any advice that anyone has about whether this is a good idea, and what I should buy would be greatly appreciated! My home is in a rural area and I'd like the shotgun for home defense. I am the only one who would use the gun, but I'd need to protect another person. Also, I have a big property and am wondering if practicing on my own land would be legal? Sorry for asking such beginner's questions.. Thank you very much for any advice that you might have.

September 3, 1999, 03:21 AM
I'd go for the 20 guage remington, you can never go wrong with a shotgun, and a 20 guage is still plenty powerfull enough to disuade (opposite of pursuade) someone from approaching closer than you want them ;)

"Walk softly and carry a big stick, perferably one of the 12 guage variety!"

September 3, 1999, 08:25 AM
I had sort of the same problem. My wife to be had never been exposed to weapons and became interested after trying clay pigeons. After showing her the realities of the world, she wanted a shotgun for home defense. The problem was sticker shock. After perusing new shotguns available and the prices I went with an alternate route. I picked up a used Winchester 1200 in twenty guage, cut the barrel back to 18 1/4 inches, shortened the stock and added a recoil pad. Fits her perfectly now and total investment was 90$ for the shotgun, 10$ to have the barrel shortened, and 20$ to have the stock shortened and recoil pad added. The only difference I can see between this and the new Defender type shotguns is that it has a standard magazine tube that only holds 4 rounds. But, she's happy with it and my wallet is happy.

September 3, 1999, 10:10 AM
I've been making the same decisions since July. I knew nothing about guns, but I've learned a lot in the past 2 months. My wife and I have taken a concealed handgun course, and we've purchased two pistols. I'm now considering a shotgun for home defense. Please read the topic that I posted, "Home Defense Shotgun suggestions": I received a lot of good recommendations. Also read the excellent article about home defense shotguns at this link:

Since you've taken a concealed carry course, I'd advise also purchasing a handgun if your budget allows: it's especially nice to have protection when you're away from home. For concealability and power at a not too bad price, the Glock 26 (9mm) or 27 (40 cal.) are hard to beat: they're small but very controllable.

Matt VDW
September 3, 1999, 01:42 PM

You'll have a hard time finding a reliable self-loading shotgun (such as the Remington LT 20) within your $300 budget. A 20 gauge Mossberg 500 (pump action) might be the best thing you can afford. If the stock's too long, having it shortened is a fairly cheap and straight forward modification.

BTW, Mossberg makes a .410 "Home Defense" shotgun which is marketed to women. I would avoid it.

September 3, 1999, 06:38 PM
Thank you all very much for the advice, that's a great start. I was thinking that if the $300 is really too low, I might go a bit higher although it would mean squeezing my budget. I am reading your posts Pipper as well. Great article !Thanks again everyone.

Jeff Thomas
September 3, 1999, 06:51 PM
Swissrose, welcome to TFL! It's great to see another woman joining the forum, and taking an interest in her own defense and security. I hope you enjoy it here at TFL - a lot of great folks with terrific advice.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend.

Regards from AZ

September 3, 1999, 11:40 PM
Thanks Jeff- I am sure I'll learn a lot by reading about you guys' experiences, it's already helpful. Glad I found this forum.

Al Thompson
September 4, 1999, 11:28 AM
Hi Swissrose - here in South Carolina you can pick up a new Remington 870 Youth in 20 guage for about $250.00 or so. "As is" the gun is fine for home defense. The other option is to look at used guns. I don't particularly support the "Mart" stores but you should be able to special order one from Wal-Mart.

Most important thing to do is get several boxes of the cheap field loads and practice.

Please wear eye and ear protection when ever you shoot!!


"Hear the voices in my head, swear to God it sounds like
they're snoring." -Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

Art Eatman
September 4, 1999, 05:17 PM
Swissrose, do some comparisons of prices in your local area gunstores and take in a gunshow or two. It's worth the drive.

A used gun is 90+% of the time just as usable as a new one. And the price might well save 20% to 40% of new.

For home defense, a 20-gauge is as good as anything. Somebody might survive a load of #9 skeet inside of 30 feet, but they will no longer be actively hostile.

Not knowing what state you're in, I don't know your local laws about shooting. However, most states have no interest in what you do on your own property, outside of city limits. Merely call your local sheriff's office and tell them you'd like to do some practice shooting "out in the county" on your own land; any problems? I'd venture that if there is bird-hunting or deer-hunting in your state, you'd be okay.

Keep on askin' stuff :)

Later, Art

September 4, 1999, 08:10 PM
Gizmo 99 and Art,
I'll definitely look into both the Remington 870 youth and used ones. My tai-chi instructor works in a gun store part-time and I'll see him next Fri to look at some of the shotguns people here have recommended. He said modifications wouldn't be a problem either, if necessary. He's also willing to teach me the ropes with the gun which is great, since there are no classes for shotguns at the pistol ranges here. During the week I am in AZ but my house is in Western NM. Great idea to ask the sheriff, I'd be surprised if he objected, the next neighbor is ~0.5 miles. Thanks for all your help, I am sure plenty more questions will come up... Enjoy your labor day.

Al Thompson
September 4, 1999, 08:38 PM
Hi Swissrose,

Let us (all TFL'ers) know what you come up with. As you have probably noted, we're fairly helpful - I have to say that no one who regularly posts here is wrong - just slightly different opinions. ( and very few hard feelings - really)


"Hear the voices in my head, swear to God it sounds like
they're snoring." -Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

Old Dog
September 5, 1999, 10:03 AM
I recommend the Winchester 1300 Camp gun in 20 guage. My wife wanted a good defense shotgun. We ended up with that and we're both delighted with it. It's very reliable, very fast to action, accurate, minimal recoil and, with 2 3/4 shells, I believe we can stuff a total of eight into the gun. We've both used this gun in local shooting club three-gun shoots and never had a problem with this firearm. I like it so much I'm going to get one for myself someday soon. My wife shoots this quite a bit and has gotten over her 12 guage induced recoil shyness. Additionally she likes the pump-action sound as a deterrent if she determines that someone is in the house who shouldn't be. It has never once malfunctioned -- even with different size shells in the magazine. I've not come across too many autoloaders that have this degree of reliability.

September 5, 1999, 07:42 PM
I don't know if you have a Big 5 in your area but they periodically advertise the Mossberg 500 combo with both a 28" hunting barrel and an 18 1/2" home defense barrel on sale for $199, in both 12 and 20 ga.

September 6, 1999, 11:53 AM
Old Dog and Daniel 3,
I'll be looking into both of those as well. I am glad I can go in with a range of suggestions both regarding the prices and what might fit me. Can't wait to get going! Thanks for all your help.

September 6, 1999, 08:10 PM
I just put a Winchester 1300, youth model, in 20 gauge. It had a 18" barrel with a screw in modified choke. The weight and length were perfect. Even for me it's great for shooting at from the hip. Paid $149 for used in good condition.

"It is easier to get out of jail then it is a morgue"
Live long and defend yourself!
John 3:16

September 10, 1999, 02:34 PM
Lee desert and everyone, thanks to your good advice I just bought the Winchester 1300 Lady defender pump action with an 18" barrel this morning for $269 new, with 2 3/4 shells. (I also tried the Remington 870 Youth but the stock was way too long). The gunsmith still needs to take about two inches off the stock of my Winchester because of my short arms, but said I should shoot it first as is and then we'd talk about how much to take off exactly. Still don't understand the choke. Am I understanding it right that if ever I was to use it for hunting, the barrel would need to be longer? Can barrels be exchanged easily? It may not be that important because my main purpose is home defense, but who knows. I will need to read up on the other posts as well before asking more questions. One of you had a great article on ammunition..Thanks again for all your help.

September 10, 1999, 02:38 PM
It's 20 gauge, by the way.

September 10, 1999, 04:41 PM

Let me get this straight: the Remington 870 Youth has a longer stock than a Winchester 1300 Lady Defender?

That's not right. The former has 13" length of pull, whereas the latter has 14". Furthermore, the fore-end on the latter is longer to reach than the former.

Hmmm. That's strange. Must be some sort of body configuration type thing.


For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

Nestor Rivera
September 10, 1999, 05:02 PM
As to the choke, it does not make the barrel longer but is intended to extend the range of the shot by limmiting the size of the inital pattern, thus hopfully makeing the "critical mass" of pellets stable for a longer distance. More importantly to the point is the need for a magazine plug to limmit the number of shells in the tube to the legal limit (2 is Fed you state may vary) DO NOT go hunting until you are sure the penalties for the simple over sight can be severe. I hope this is helpfull and enjoy you shot gun.

September 10, 1999, 05:29 PM
Nestor and Skorzeny, thank you for clarifying the choke issue. Obviously, I am very new to all of this and my understanding is still limited! However, it seemed that I needed to reach much farther when holding the Remington, and it felt heavier than the Winchester. (??)Guess I'll need to talk to my instructor again before venturing further opinions... Thanks!