View Full Version : Store Loaded or Unloaded for HD

June 22, 2000, 06:40 AM
What are the pros and cons of storing own's only HD gun (a Stoeger 12 gauge DB stage coach gun) in a gun safe the bed room UNLOADED?

ohen cepel
June 22, 2000, 07:25 AM
Pro- it is totally safe.
Con- it is totally safe.

Depending on the child situation in your house I don't understand the reason for having the only defense weapon unloaded and in a safe.
I do not think you'll have the time and nerves to get it into action quick enough if needed.
I would find a better piece of middle ground.

He who dares wins.
NRA Life Memeber

June 22, 2000, 08:54 AM
Is that a double with exposed hammers?

Doubles with internal hammers can be a real pain for HD purposes. The authorities on combat shotgunning universally recommend chamber empty, hammer down, tube loaded (i.e., cruiser ready) conditions for a HD shotgun. With a double, there is no tube so the chambers have to be loaded.

Now with a internal-hammer double, you have two options -- store with chambers loaded and hammers cocked, or with chambers empty and hammers uncocked. With an external-hammer double, you can ease the hammers down on loaded chambers (carefully!) but you can't do that with an internal-hammer double.

Not knowing whether your Stoeger is an internal or external hammer gun, I'd say:

1. If external hammer, keep chambers loaded and ease the hammers down. Store it in your safe in this condition.

2. If internal hammer, leave the gun empty -- or better yet, buy yourself a new HD shotgun like a Mossberg 500, Winchester 1300 Defender or Remington 870.


Justin T. Huang, Esq.
late of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Dave McC
June 22, 2000, 09:02 AM
What Justin said. Good HD shotguns like the 870 are not that expensive, and can be used for hunting and clays.

I love the way a good double swings, but there's better shotguns available now, and safer ones from the homes w/ kids viewpoint.

And, HD tools may need to be accessed PDQ.

June 22, 2000, 09:17 AM
ohen: No child in the house. Just me and my wife. You address the reason for my question when you say I wouldn't "have the time and nerves to get it into action if needed". Please, I would like to have your ideas re: "a better piece of middle ground".

Justin: No exposed hammers; they are internal. I had been thinking about getting a Remington 870 Express Youth Gun (20 gauge; 21 inch barrel; 40.5 inch total length), as I am a small framed 66 year-old novice (hardly any experience with guns and not comfortable with the 12 gauge referenced above in original question). Do you have recommendation re: new gun to get in view of the the information above?

June 22, 2000, 09:26 AM
Dave: Would you say the 870 Express Youth Gun in 20 gauge is a good choice for me, or would you recommend a different 870 option?

June 22, 2000, 10:09 AM

Before recommending any shotgun, I would go to the store and see if the stock (in terms of pull and drop) fits you. Better yet, if you have a buddy who owns one, take it to the range and give it a go with a box of birdshot. Each person is built differently so you should fit the gun to the shooter.

The Remington 870 Youth Model will have a shorter pull (in terms of the stock), compared to the standard 870. See if that fits you.

The 20 gauge cartridge will do just fine for HD purposes. The 20 gauge, with 3.0" magnums, can reach power levels close to the lighter 12 gauge cartridges so you can load it hot if required. This was the reason the "sweet" 16 gauge is basically defunct -- the 20 gauge can do everything the 16 gauge can do.

Once you drill (or Dremel) out the dimples in the 870's magazine tube, you should be fine for home defense.



Justin T. Huang, Esq.
late of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Dave McC
June 22, 2000, 10:10 AM
Tyro, given the info you've supplied,the 20 is a good choice. However...

The one I picked up for the kids is quite light,even for a 20. That means recoil is exascerbated. Start off with light loads and pro instruction. ANY shotgun bore over 410 is devastating at HD ranges, and that's even with the 7/8s oz 20 ga light load.

Another option to reduce kick,add some weight to the piece. A mag extension, and/or some weight added to the stock, will make that piece much gentrler to handle.

Dave McC
June 22, 2000, 10:35 AM
Struck by a thought...

The Youth 870 is also found in a 28 ga, still suitable for HD,weighs about the same as the 20, and firing a load of 5/8 oz. this would reduce the kick considerably and still be effective.

June 22, 2000, 11:06 AM
I guess a good middle ground would be to keep the SG unloaded in the closet, not in the safe. And use those buttstock shell keepers that hold four shells. That way, all you would have to do is break open the action, toss in two shells and defend yourself. And you would have two extra shells at the ready.

June 22, 2000, 02:01 PM
A couple of supplemental items.

1. Are there magazine extensions available for the 20 gauge, or are they the same as the 12 gauge (would be surprised)?

2. For the record, since it doesn't specifically apply in this case -- before putting the hammers down on any firearm, at a minimum, the operator really need to make sure that the firing pin will not protrude from the breech face (ie, will not be in contact with the primer). I would suspect that most of those exposed-hammer shotguns cannot have the hammers lowered without putting the firing pin in contact with the primer, at which point even a small bump could fire the shotgun (for example, when you put it down in the corner, taking off your hand or even your head). The same thing applies to a variety of other firearms, such as most bolt-action rifles (cocked & locked is ok, lowering the bolt w/o cocking the striker is not), and many single action revolvers.

Even if the firing pin is of the inertia type, and does not protrude to contact the primer when the hammer is down, unless there is a firing pin safety there is some risk of a drop-fire, although examples of this seem to be much rarer than the warnings about the risk. Dave McC and a few others gave some great examples in a recent thread (for example, a shotgun dropped butt-first from a guard tower at a Maryland pen that did not discharge).

Art Eatman
June 22, 2000, 07:54 PM
Regardless of where I stored a gun during the day while I was not at home, I would have it handy during the time I was at home. I would have it near that place in the house where I spent the most time, before bedtime.

It's pointless to have your defensive weapon upstairs in the bedroom, and you're downstairs watching TV...

Since no gun will fire if you keep your finger off the trigger, I wouldn't worry at all about a double-barrelled shotgun loaded and ready for social improvement.

If I were somewhat nervous about "cocked and locked", I'd leave it broken open, shells in the chambers, on the floor under the edge of my bed. That's commonly where I keep a pistol; I don't have to move anything but my arm to grab it.

For a novice, I definitely advise to, first, find something--20-gauge, fer instance--that fits your size. Second, buy a couple of boxes of the cheapest ammo and borrow some hearing protectors and go shoot all but maybe a full magazine's worth of the ammo. Get used to the gun.

Repeat after me: Ownership does not bestow skill in use!!! :)


Dave McC
June 22, 2000, 08:13 PM
Erick, viable as heck. An acquaintance of old trimmed the bbls of his ancestral LC Smith to 18" and stored it that way, with two more cartridges masking taped to the stock.
The rack was over his closet door on the inside,out of the kids' reach and totally unmarked from the outside.

Sling Shot
June 23, 2000, 02:39 AM
Store a shotgun unloaded for HD purposes. Give me a baseball bat. I can get a better grip on it. Sling Shot

Patrick Graham
June 24, 2000, 09:54 AM
Storing a Home Defense weapon in a gun safe unloaded means it is no longer a home defense weapon, it is a stored weapon.

Just a thought..

ohen cepel
June 24, 2000, 01:53 PM
The middle ground I would shoot for is something along the lines that others have mentioned.
Weapon loaded in safe, unloaded in closet w/ammo. Or almost any other situation rather than locked up and unloaded.
Be creative, I'm sure you can find a good solution to the situation.

I would stay with a 12 gauge. The 20 isn't that much smaller. However, ammo and accessories for those weapons are a little harder to come by.

Just my 2 cents.

He who dares wins.
NRA Life Memeber

June 24, 2000, 02:41 PM
Many thanks for the good advice. From now on the DB 12G stays loaded at all times in the safe (which is unlocked at night and is in the bedroom and much closer to me than is the closet). The house is quite small, so I'm never far from the gun while at home. Just to minimize and practically rule out any chance of being taken by surprise, I'm installing a hidden alarm sensor at the driveway entrance, which is connected by underground wire to the control box and bell in the bedroom. That and a pit bull/German shepherd should enable me to get the shotgun out of the safe in time deal with any intrusion. Oh yes, I am going to get training in the use of the shotgun for home defense at a local range which provides tactical training for professionals. I will also be considering option of getting a second shotgun to supplement the DB. Have I overlooked anything in terms of the big picture? Again, many thanks for all the helpul responses. -tyro

Dave McC
June 25, 2000, 06:42 AM
Sounds good to me, tyro. Instead of a second shotgun, you may want to consider a handgun, handgun caliber rifle, or something like an M-1 carbine.

And lessons are a very,very,very good idea.

June 25, 2000, 08:08 AM
Dave: I am receptive to the suggestion of a handgun or handgun caliber rifle or carbine rather than a second shotgun for HD. This raises more questions: hand gun or handgun caliber rifle? what caliber? revolver or semi-auto? This is off topic at this point, so I will post the questions as another topic. Many thanks, -tyro.

June 25, 2000, 09:35 AM
It it were me, I would trade off the double and get a 20 ga. pump that fits your stature.
Store it in the safe with chamber empty, but full magazine.

"Pathfinders Light the Way!"

June 25, 2000, 06:28 PM
Allen: I did it! 'got a new Remington 870 20ga pump with 20 inch barrel, 3 boxes of shells, and training to use same by a retired Green Beret/Delta Force professional - all as an even trade for the 12ga DBL. Many, many thanks for the suggestion. -tyro

Dave McC
June 26, 2000, 05:34 AM
Congrats on the trade, Tyro, sounds like you lucked into something.

As far as whether a handgun or handgun caliber carbine(to be accutate) is better, I cant call that shot from here. You know your situation better than I. Will there be a need to carry? Are there other adults in the household whose opinions or preferences don't quite match yours?

Wonderful Wife doesn't like shotguns so there's alternatives here for her and Daughter.

A possibility is a used service revolver in 18 Special or 357, loaded with 38s. Not real expensive, reliable,effective, and easy to train with.

June 26, 2000, 08:05 AM
Dave: Wonderful Wife surprised me last night. I came home from the range/gun shop and told her how well impressed I was with the Green Beret/Delta Force retiree who gave me the shotgun deal. Then I told her I want to go to the Sheriff's office today, get a permit to purchase a handgun, and then have the Delta Force guy train me for a CHL. Her response to all that was miraculously mello and receptive, given the fact that in the past she has been more opposed to the idea of having a handgun in the house than she has been regarding a shotgun. This seemed to have weighed in favor of her accepting what she has previously opposed: She won't go practice the organ, which she plays at the neighborhood country church, without me as an escort, because she is afraid to be alone in the empty, isolated building. I referred to that fact in conversation last night and asked her what if a predator showed up or was hiding in the church when she went there to practice, and I didn't have the physical strength or ability to protect her (which is not a far fetched fantasy: Across the road from the church building is a rest home which has among it's residents mentally unstable psychiatric patients, some with a history of violence, who sometimes wander across the road and into the church building). She also seems comforted by the fact that I am determined to take full advantage of the opportunity to be well trained by the Delta Force retiree who has set up shop just 5 miles away from us. The next step will be the challenge of choosing a handgun. Many thanks for the recommendation, which I will keep in mind. -Tyro

Dave McC
June 26, 2000, 11:56 AM
Great news, Tyro. Treasure that wife, which you certainly do now(G).

Maybe she'll get into some lessons too. I taught my grandmother to shoot when she was about 70. A 38 with target Wadcutters is not a hard kicker..

June 26, 2000, 12:59 PM
Congratulations on the trade. You got a square deal. I think the SF guy who is training you w/ the shotgun should be a good source regarding a defensive handgun.
I love a story w/ a happy ending.

June 27, 2000, 12:49 AM
Keep mine in safe with keys masking taped to headboard underside, 6 rounds of #7 birdshot in the Mossy 500! Like the Aguilla mini-shells, but they function reliably only about 80% of the time, and that is unacceptable. Have been told that I can have the feed ramp, or whatever the little thing is that lifts the shell after it pops outta the mag reshaped to function with the 100% reliability that I demand!

I thought I'd seen it all, until a 22WMR spun a bunny 2 1/4 times in the air!

June 27, 2000, 04:18 AM
Are you expecting a flock of some kind of North American game bird to perpetrate a home invasion. Sorry, could not resist the analogy. No offense intended.

Dave McC
June 27, 2000, 06:47 AM
Tuc, at typical hD ranges the load hits as a solid mass. The shells could be loaded with breath mints at 10 ft and be good stoppers.
A case could be made for small shot at very close ranges being MORE effective than 00, a couple hundred tiny spheres transferring energy and deforming into spheroids.

Had an ER surgeon tell me once how difficult it was to deal with a wound of that type, he called it, "a bloody rathole"...

June 27, 2000, 12:14 PM
What B.S.! you won't get reliable penetration with dove loads or whatever you call them. If your BG is wearing any kind of clothing such loads are very dumb( if he's bareassed you're in luck). This whole tired discussion about birdshot loads and wallboard penetration is misinformed. Sure, you can blast a hole in a guy with just the gases from the muzzle but that changes with distance, same argument can be made for birdshot. Bottom line use heavier pellets-buckshot in #4 is much, much better.

Dave McC
June 27, 2000, 07:25 PM
Tuc, I spent years as an instructor,served on the Tac Team Weapons Squad for Md DOC and have more experience with what a shotgun can or cannot do than most folks.Been hunting with them since 1958 also.

Try this...

Wrap a can of soda in a T shirt, then a sleeve from a flannel shirt and then the leg from an old set of jeans.Add whatever other cloth layers you deem appropriate. Hang it up and back off 5 yards or so and shoot it with a "Dove load".Better yet,make it the longest distance you'd have to shot in YOUR house.

If that can isn't leaking like Clinton's credibility, the first round's on me.

That is,assuming you hit it...

June 28, 2000, 08:37 AM
Ah, the birdshot penetration issue.

At very close distances, the birdshot will not have left the shot cup. The end result is the entire mass of birdshot slamming into the target. Not quite a slug but at contact distance, pretty dang close.

Beyond contact distance (0-7 yards) birdshot is probably not your best choice for defensive use. But there are people who live in smaller apartments in the city who can be well served by stoking their defensive scattergun with birdshot.

Gabe Suarez, who is a member of this board, says basically the same thing in his book "The Tactical Shotgun".



Justin T. Huang, Esq.
late of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

June 28, 2000, 11:56 AM
I'll stick to what I said earlier about the relative ineffectiveness of birdshot. Why use it if there is a better way? It's that issue of wall penetration again isn't it? Oh, and Farmer John used to use rock salt out of his scattergun too,(to scare trespassers) The myths abound when it's about the shotgun.

[This message has been edited by tuc22 (edited June 28, 2000).]

June 28, 2000, 01:13 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>contact distance (0-7 yards) &lt;snip&gt; people who live in smaller apartments[/quote]

Uh huh, even folks who live in bigger apartments probably won't have too many 7 yard self-defense shots? &lt;g&gt;

Wouldn't be my first pick, but mebbe under these circumstances, it's justifiable. There's always breath mints... &lt;ggg&gt;

Blue Jays
June 28, 2000, 11:16 PM
Good Evening Everyone-

Dave McC's resume reads like a "Who's Who Among American Shotgunners" so I hardly think he would steer us in the wrong direction. Let's agree to disagree if it can keep the threads moving...

Regardless of whatever is coming out of the barrel, who wants to stand around picking their nose at the angry end of a SG? It sher' ain't me!

Can't we all just...get along?


~ Blue Jays ~

June 29, 2000, 04:28 AM
Yeah, yeah.
Since some here believe the shotgun is a CQB weapon and therefore can use close range loads like birdshot (LOL!) I will then repectfully disagree and will choose to utilize a long gun at the range it was meant to be used at and load it accordingly, thank you very much.

CQB= Close Quarter Battle or in close fighting i.e., when opponent is within your reach and you are within his. Here he grabs the bird gun.

Dave McC
June 29, 2000, 12:24 PM
Thanks, Blue Jays,flattery will get you anything(G)....

One thing, I'm more of a generalist than a specialist. The hot shots down at the skeet, trap or clays range, or in the practical or IPSC matches need lose no sleep over my possible competition. But I've done most everything there can be done with a shotgun at some point,and regard it as my duty to pass along what I can.

My shotgunning this year will probably consist of some clays,informal handthrown trap, some dove hunting where plenty of lead gets returned to the Earth(G), maybe a little snow goose shooting, and benchtesting and zeroing my deer 870 and then using same in November for freezer detail. I skipped turkey season for lack of time, and will not go quail hunting unless someone with a good dog invites me. Maybe squirrel hunting and rabbits. I'll almost certainly teach someone along the line, tho I no longer instruct formally.

Tuc, we can agree on disagreeing, but I urge you to try that exercise with the soda. You'll learn something I think you could use.

June 29, 2000, 12:50 PM
Can you fill that soda can with a heart, lungs, organs, arteries, and a brain bent on killing you? I didn't think so. If the soda leaks out what does that tell you?

June 29, 2000, 01:08 PM
Longest possible distance shot in my home=12 yards.

Backstop=sliding glass door, 10 feet of unobstructed space, 5/8" wood fencing, five more feet of space and then my neighbor's exterior wall (which has bedroom windows).

I'm using a pistol for home defense right now, but if I used my shotgun I wouldn't be using #4 buckshot.

Dave McC
June 29, 2000, 06:40 PM
It won't leak out, Tuc,chances are you'll be wiping some off your shooting glasses. The can will be ruptured, and soda spattered far and wide.

This is useless....

June 29, 2000, 09:11 PM
While I will be vacating my current apartment shortly, I am also looking at a realistic HD range of about 10 yards, assuming I am ensconced in my saferoom with the Benelli pointed towards the top of the staircase.

Now if I was a big-shot Boston attorney, I might be able to afford a bigger place. :)

June 30, 2000, 04:07 AM
"This is useless...."

My thoughts exactly!!

July 2, 2000, 10:32 PM
As a police friend once put it, "Have you ever FIRED a shotgun indoors?". the short range caused the reflected blast to make him think he had been shot. Handguns indoors is now a rule I am considering more and more..

July 2, 2000, 11:04 PM
Well, I leave a thread alone for a few days and see what happens? ;)

Birdshot at close range...unreliable penetration...soda cans in t-shirts...oye vey.

I'm no ballistics expert. I've never shot anyone with anything at any range. I have seen lots of training films, though, and done a lot of training under some very good (though local-level) instructors. I can't believe they were ALL lying to me.

At the ranges we're discussing, a shotgun loaded with ANYTHING is amazingly lethal, whether you have slug, buckshot, birdshot, breath mints, tofu or balled up boogers flying out of the end. The individual pellets have had 0.0000001 seconds to spread. If the front rank of pellets underpenetrates, the ones trailgating them at 2 microns distance will push 'em further in.

Arguments about range changing are perfectly valid if we are discussing what-if scenarios and not pure HD. I'm a what-if kinda guy. I'll load my SG with buckshot for that exact reason. Its what I train with at my PD, anyway. However, any allegations that birdshot won't get the job done for pure HD are, IMO, off-base.

If the range is short, it'll do the job.

If the range is longer, you shouldn't be shooting at your target.

I will certainly defer to wiser heads than mine about penetration vs various walls...I don't worry about it. I'm the third little piggy...my house is brick. ;)

Also, CQB... eh. Someone has probably said this already, but if so, I missed it. Shotgun=barricade. Houseclearing=Pistol.


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -Robert Heinlein