View Full Version : 870 to replace AR-15?

June 3, 2002, 07:14 PM
I live on 50+ acres with no close neighbors. About six months ago, I decided a shotgun for home defense was no longer necessary and turned that duty over to my .45 and Bushmaster shorty. Now, I have a chance to pick up the same 870 I sold and am seriously considering it. I'll be keeping the AR but am having trouble deciding why I 'need' a shotgun to replace the AR (or the Kimber) as primary home defense weapon. I've had a few 870's and like them quite a bit. Just something I rarely took out and shot. I understand that this decision is very subjective but would certainly appreciate any and all input from the shotgun fans on this forum.

June 3, 2002, 07:37 PM
If you are not going to shoot it.....don't get it.

You should use any home defense weapon enough to get accurate with it. The more so, the better.

That goes for the .22 and the Kimber too.

The primary weapon is the brain.


slick slidestop
June 3, 2002, 07:45 PM
If I had 50+ acres in Kentucky I would find some use for it either Hunting birds or as a snake charmer.

If you don't have that type of hunting environment and you don't hunt, I would buy something else.

June 3, 2002, 07:48 PM
I'd buy the 870. And keep the AR15 as the primary home defense gun. Or use the 870 for inside the home and the AR15 for outside. My motto is "buy 'em all" :D


June 3, 2002, 07:58 PM

Excellent point. One must be proficient with any home defense weapon. I shoot the AR and Kimber fairly often but doubt I'd practice much with the 870.


Great hunting environment here, but I don't hunt. Maybe I should consider buying a plinker.


That was kinda the plan--870 inside. AR outside. And it seems that I have almost bought (and sold) 'em all over the years. Sure wish I had a few of the really nice ones back.

Thanks for the replies.

June 3, 2002, 08:29 PM
So, is your question "why the shotgun"?

The shotgun is for tremendous power that dissolves quickly. However, Rule #4 always applies.

City boy here. I have a shotgun and small shot. My neighbors are close and the thought of rifle bullets through their windows, doors or sides of their domiciles makes me ill.

Obviously, firearms are just tools and you need to use the noggin to adopt them to your environment as the magi of AZ sez. Think of your situation and, then, think of the children.:D

Double Naught Spy
June 3, 2002, 09:02 PM
M1911 and KSFReeman bring up some good points. Inside the home and short range (inside of 25 yards is what I mean), you can't beat the devastating power froma 12 ga. shotgun with too many other guns. A REM 870 is also going to be a very reliable gun as well, even if you have left it in the closet for an extended period of time.

I patterned my gun with the load I use for defense and did so at various ranges to 15 yards, the greatest distance in my home where I could make a line of sight shot. Even at 15 yards, the shot spread of 00 Federal Tactical buckshot is only about the width of an adult human. That means landing 9 30 caliber shots with a well aimed single shot. Inside three yards, the shot and cup are going to behave something like a single slug and that would be an extremely nasty wound as well.

Given that most gunfights for civilians do not involve a lot of shots, and that in many cases that last person shooting turns out to be the winner (but not always of course), would you not like to dominate such a fight by having to fire only one round and having that round be the fight ender? Of course shot placement still counts and there are people who won't drop right away, but if you are only going to get off one shot, a big caliber is a great choice.

If I had 50 acres, I would definitely keep the AR for outside work. More than likely you would never need to shoot at somebody outside of your home at more than 25 yards, but if you did, the AR would be a good choice for making fairly precise shots as well as having the capacity to hold a large number of rounds (say 20 or 30 not being unreasonable).

Then again, a 1 oz slug fired from your REM 870 should be good out well beyond 50 yards. Okay, so that is the furthest I have tried shooting mine with slugs and have found it to be more accurate than I expected. I had no problem hitting a 12" metal plate at that distance, but only after I worked on determining where that shot would go relative to my bead sight. My gun, at 50 yards, shot about 4" high at the 2 o'clock position from point of aim. Once I figured that out, I was able to hit the plate repetively, and then my shoulder got sore. Full power slugs can take their toll on one's shoulder if you are not used to it. Just imagine what those slugs would do to a predator!

June 3, 2002, 10:41 PM
KS Freeman,

My question was really just a request for input on this decision.
You have certainly made the right choice for HD in your situation.
Here, the nearest neighbor is at least 1/2 mile away with trees in between. Not much worry about a flyer hitting someone. What gauge and load to you use there in the city?

Double Naught,

Thanks for the detailed reply. I am now leaning toward trading for the 870. The one I had before that one was modified for HD with a pistol grip and light. Man, was that thing a beast to shoot with 00 magnum loads and slugs. I guess it's conventional wisdom to practice with your carry ammo, but lighter loads would entice me to shoot the shotgun quite a bit more.

Dave R
June 3, 2002, 11:11 PM
The _real_reason to buy the 870 is because it is hard to hit clay pigeons, crows, pheasant, dove, partridge, ducks, etc. with that AR.

(Its also illegal with some of the species mentioned)

Dave McC
June 4, 2002, 06:16 AM
Get the 870, asp.

While your personal armory covers the defense angle well, there's more to living than just a flash point encounter.

A shotgun is versatile. One can use the same weapon for mice, moose, or crisis management. While you say hunting's not your thing, a problem in the food distribution network can leave one dependent on wild food for the short term. 50 acres can feed folks nicely, squirrel, rabbit, woodchuck, birds, etc.

And a shotgun in trained hands is an awesome close range defensive weapon.

Old threads here will give you an overview of weapon, ammo, tactics, practice and mods/addons.

And from the cost angle, a shotgun will provide the most use for the least amount of money.

June 4, 2002, 06:54 AM
asp, I use #4 buckshot low recoil from Federal. However, I have "shot" my house, i.e. I've tested my backstop. Good to know contractors.:D

Different situations call for different remedies. You may wish to keep slugs about in your situation and practice your transition drills. Slugs aren't that bad once you learn how to hold the weapon.

One last thing: go to school. Just because you have a piano . . . Find the school reports from some of the schools posted here. It will get your blood pumping.

June 4, 2002, 07:46 AM
The theme running through these responses is 'practice and learn.' I think that's the reason I went away from the shotgun. I've shot .45 and .223 for many, many years but rarely wanted to pick up the shotgun and practice. If I get the 870, I'll certainly take the advice offered here. BTW, I've read this board for a long time but only began posting a few days ago. Like the Bushy, Kimber, or 870, TFL is very high quality. And that's due to the intelligence and maturity of the folks who post here. Thanks much guys.

Dave McC
June 5, 2002, 05:51 AM
You're welcome, asp. A coupla things....

There's no apples to apples comparison possible between the 870 and AR series. But, a few things can be compared.

Range,the AR wins this by a couple hundred yards.

Effect, with center mass hits, both are quite effective.

Overpenetration, both will, so be sure of the background before popping caps.

Cost, here the 870's a clear winner. One can have a stable full of special purpose 870s for the price of a bare bones AR. Ammo, depending on what you buy, is not terribly different on a round to round basis.

"Political Correctness" and other such #$%^*, AR type weapons are more scary to the sheeple. This applies to court, also. Shoot a perp with an AR, there's too big a chance they'll use the looks to inflame the jury, who will NOT include anyone with either a shred of common sense or weapon experience. If you're gonna use a rifle, use your grandad's Model 94 "Deer" rifle.

Ease of use, while both require practice, the 5.56 mouse round and it's carrier, the AR, are easier on rookies that can be brought up to speed quickly. Back when I trained COs, it was rare that a rookie flunked the Mini 14 portion of training, while many had severe trouble dealing with the 870's kick. I heard one rookie refer to the Mini as a "Candy gun". Apt...

Versatility, the shotgun wins this one by a mile. Anyone who ever has eaten venison taken with the .223 knows how much less edible meat there is on a deer shoulder post shot. More so for small game, woodchuck tend to fragment.

And, it's harder to maintain rifle skills than shotgun skills. Rifle ranges are less common than trap and skeet ranges. and while some poo-poo the clay games as not relevant for "Serious" work, they do teach familiarity and improve accuracy. Anyone doubting this is welcome to shoot some trap or skeet doubles. In trap doubles, one has about 3 1/2 seconds to destroy two 4" clay targets moving in different directions at 35-50 MPH.Best I've ever done is 39/50, and I'm fairtomiddlin' with a shotgun.

June 5, 2002, 10:26 AM
I would pick up the 870, and if your shotgun comes with just a pistol grip, do yourself a favor and buy a stock for it.
As someone else said a shotgun is great for flying things or critters of all kinds. And since you have plenty of room to roam I'd also pick up a trap and some clays, (maybe another $50.00) start with the cheapie promo loads and blast away ;) flying targets are great for hand eye coordination and shooting at and hitting moving targets will help you become a better shot with all your guns.

June 5, 2002, 07:41 PM
With #4 buck that is ;)

June 6, 2002, 05:41 PM
Not much practice needed with a good spread of #4's or #6's.

Get the shotgun. Shooting down your hallway doesn't require proficiency.

June 6, 2002, 07:54 PM
How ironic. My buddy made a wise decision and decided to keep the 870 rather than trade it back to me. So, the AR and Kimber are still my primary home defense weapons. All the thoughtful responses here certainly have me thinking seriously about making my next purchase another 870. There's just something about the quartet of a .45, an AR, a revolver, and a good pump shotgun that makes sense. The 870 is all that's missing, so it moves to the top of my 'to be acquired next' list. You guys have talked me into it. :D

June 6, 2002, 08:24 PM
Beware the GSC "boulder of death" myth! Inside your domicile the shotgun is a rifle. It must be aimed, not pointed like in the movies.

The general rule is 1" for every yard. Measure your house. Measure the distances off at the range. You may be surprised.

(The good part is that you get to shoot for "science"--wear a lab coat).

Dave McC
June 6, 2002, 08:31 PM
Asp, ain't we a bunch of silver tongued devils(G)?....

BTW, no AR-15 here, but my Hillybilly Assault Rifle fills out a similar quartet, tho there's some redundancy. We like DA handguns for HD as well as my GM.

Daughter's Sweet 16th B-Day present from me was a pre-betrayal 640 w/ 3 inch bbl and Pachmyer grips.

A coupla things...

Nightwatch, all the buck I saw during that mess was brasscase 00. I wasn't a point man, tho.

Yankytrash, how about patterning your 4s and 6s at the length of your hallway plus a yard for GPs and reporting back here with the results.

Spread on mine might be 4".

June 6, 2002, 09:28 PM

Guess that's a pretty common misconception about shotguns, perpetuated largely by mass media and the film industry. Thanks for the good advice. BTW, I didn't get one of those starched white lab coats with the last gun I bought. Do they come with shotguns only?

Dave McC,

Yeah, you guys will have me buying snake oil before it's over.

I like revolvers, too. Just bought my first hammerless snubbie after numerous SA/DA guns. Nice trigger for such a long pull. Takes just a tad of getting used to, but I'm coming around.

June 6, 2002, 09:49 PM
Tactical White Lab Coats are available direct from Freeman Tactical Industries [insert cool logo with a knife] for only $2,345.00. Look for our ad in Soldier of Fiction (next to the vertical foreend grip ad that features Ronin308 with his UrbanAssaultCarbine that he used in the Selous Scouts).

Oh, yeah, measure your distances in your house where you think you may have to engage. Remember to pattern each load with each weapon.

Each weapon has it's own personality--like TFL. I am lucky my 870s all love Fed #4 buck. One really likes Remington #00, others loathe it. None of them like Winchester or Estate. Go figure.

June 6, 2002, 10:08 PM
Sounds like you have a burgeoning cottage industry there. No offense, but $2,345 for a lab coat sounds a little steep. How much for the non-tactical variety?

Re. the ammo. I've had a couple of 870's over the years and was unaware that ammo sensitivity existed in shotguns. I assume you're talking accuracy issues.

June 6, 2002, 10:13 PM
Yeah, the patterns are different on many weapons, barrels, etc. Slugs pattern different as well. Fed slugs are dead on for me. Winnie and Remmie shoot a little low.

Only one way to find out--shoot them. Honey, I've got to go to the range. Why? `Cause some Hoosier on the Internet says so.

$2,345.00 is very reasonable. Have you seen the ad rates for Soldier of Fiction? Besides the coat is made of kevlar. (And I have shooting schools to go to).

June 6, 2002, 10:29 PM
Maybe someday I'll be decent enough with a shotgun to actually tell the difference in ammo. It's sorta taken for granted with handguns and rifles. Just my shotgun naivete' coming through, I suppose.

Yes, beware of Hoosiers. I married one.

OK, the tactical version sounds like a deal, but don't you have something for summer wear? Kevlar lite, maybe?

Al Thompson
June 7, 2002, 06:47 AM
asp, the big difference in in the patterning. Like KS, I've seen some bizarre results when you really start working a pattern board at 15 yards and out. Larger/smaller patterns, differences in POA/POI. There's really no rhyme or reason to it, ya just gotta test your loads and guns.

June 7, 2002, 07:11 AM
FWIW, I keep modified screw-in choke for at least 90% of various uses with 870. With the modified choke and Federal Low-Recoil Tac loads, it will often keep all 9 pellets on a 9" paper plate (when I do my part) at 15 yards. Other brands tested have not stayed that tight - more like 12". With bird shot, pattern is much closer to approx. 1" per yard mentioned above.