View Full Version : Interesting comments from the book, UP TO SPEED by John Mattera re defense shotguns

Dave Williams
September 5, 2002, 08:03 AM
Hi there,

I borrowed this book from a friend. It's an interesting read, about defensive use of firearms.
From page 243,

"The best defensive shotgun is a tuned Remington 1100 12ga. No question. Out of the box it's sort of like most 1911 handguns:all the parts are there but they need a little tuning.
The Benelli shotgun, comparing it to a pistol, is the Glock of shotguns: out of the box it works and works well. It will not outperform a tuned 1100 but is superior "as is". "

Materra also recommends loading only with slugs, unless home defense overpenetration concerns forbid it. Also, he recommends ghost ring sights or rifle sights, stating the bead is not up to the task. He makes an interesting case for all this. I know he has a book specifically about shotguns. For those of you that have read that book, do these comments/recommendations mesh with what he states in that book?

Thanks for you comments,

Dave Williams

September 5, 2002, 08:05 PM
so many 'experts'. so little 'expert' advice. :)

September 5, 2002, 10:15 PM
I like semi-auto shotguns, and own several, but I just don't trust them for defensive use. The top three priorities for a defensive weapon, IMHO, are reliability, reliability, RELIABILITY! I have NEVER seen a semi-auto shotgun which is certain to function 100% at any time, on demand. Last month, on LFI-2 and LFI-3 with Massad Ayoob in NH, every single semi-auto shotgun on these courses malfunctioned at least once, many of them more than once. They included Remingtons, Benellis, Mossbergs, and one Saiga AK-type magazine-fed unit. I've seen similar problems on the range, where guys boast about their semi-auto defensive shotguns, but can't produce many rapid-fire strings of a magazine full of defensive loads without malfunctions beginning to occur.

I understand and appreciate the semi-auto shotgun's advantages in speed of fire, diminished recoil, etc. I use these to my own advantage in hunting guns. But, when my a$$ depends on the absolute, 100% reliability of the shotgun - I'll be carrying a pump-gun!

Dave McC
September 6, 2002, 06:05 AM
I haven't read the book yet, but there's a few things that concern me....

"Serious" shotguns and 1911 Government Models share a function. That's close range crisis management in short time frames, up close and sudden.

With GMs, I'd certainly prefer a GI clunker so loose that it rattles when shaken but goes bang on demand, EVERY TIME, to a nice shiny Gold Cup that puts them all in the same hole when it does fire but is finicky about dirt and ammo.

Obviously, the author here thinks a "Serious" firearm MUST be tweaked and modified to be good at its mission. While my "Serious" shotguns have been tweaked, I could do good work with a short bbled 870 right from the box.So could most other folks.

And most folks in need of a "Serious" shotgun will not go for the bells and whistles.Some very good folks that post here use stock 870s, 500s, or JC Higgins pumps for their "Serious" work. I doubt any are less than deadly.

My guess is that the author believes it takes over a grand to get a proper WIHTF shotgun.

My recommendation for anyone with $1K to spend on this buy a 500,37,870 or 1300 of appropriate configuration and spend the rest of the grand on ammo, range fees and lessons.

And lots of folks who need a defensive shotgun have neither the money nor resources to work a semi auto into a decent "Serious" shotgun.

IOW, for the average or typical shotgunner, a beater Police turnin that's utterly reliable is a better choice than a Semi auto Loudenboomer Magnum Special Purpose with lazers and belt feed that gives plenty of chances to practice clearance drills.

As for his preference for GR sights, they do help at longer ranges, but for HD, a bead is probably too close to optimum to justify the extra expense. That recent thread on beads and slugs should show some real world results.

And as for slugs, I'm dubious, but since I don't have his views first hand, I'll pass.


September 6, 2002, 08:31 AM
Nothing, regardless of how well made, can be guaranteed to function flawlessly. Including the operator. Until very recently, my choice for shotgun actions was the pump. My reasons mirror many of those I've read hear, mostly centering on reliability and versatility. I have since deviated from that stance and purchased my first semi-automatic shotgun. My reasons? Stoppages with a pump are usually double feeds and can be difficult to impossible to clear depending on just how much mojo you were putting into jacking the action. Most failures with a semi-auto shotgun are like any other semi-auto firearm, failures to feed or extract, and the manual of arms to clear a failure is similar enough to give you some cross over benefit.

Bottom line? Failures are a fact of life. Train for them by working out a Plan "B" and "C" to go with your high speed, low drag Plan "A". Train to transition to a sidearm, or an ASP, or a knife, or your hands, or all of the above as makes sense to you.


Dave McC
September 6, 2002, 08:12 PM
I can agree with most of what you're saying, but....

As for double feeds with pumps, haven't had one yet. Of course, I'm only 55. The last 50K rounds or so have mostly been with 870s, and I've yet to have a glitch I didn't deliberately induce.

Semi autos can be good choices for "Serious" work.However,they run towards complicated innards and oft get finicky. Not all, and not all the time, but the factor is still there.

Compared to pumps, autos are expensive and sometimes tempermental. Best guess, any extended usage under field conditions will see the autos pack it in much sooner and much more often than a decent, Big 4 pump.

However, it's not my job to tell you how to preserve your life. I can but tell you how I do it, and suggest a few options for anyone. If you're convinced the suto is a better choice it probably is, for YOU.

(Descending from pulpit)...

September 7, 2002, 01:10 AM

I think your comments are spot on correct, and you've helped me grab hold of a random thought concerning double feeds.

A decade or so ago, I had plenty of time to practice with a pump shotgun. Like you, I never experienced a double feed. In the last few years, the time I've spent with my shotgun was much less than I would like, and I began having double feed close calls. I would short stroke the action and stop myself just short of locking the action up.

Maybe that's the broad generalization I'm looking for, ie. pump guns demand more technique, more practice, than autos. I'm not sure that's even a decent SWAG. I'll keep the idea in mind during my sessions with my auto and see where it leads.


Dave McC
September 7, 2002, 05:26 AM
Keep us posted on your efforts with the auto, please.

This may be why I've never had a problem with short stroking.I take a 36" short sleeve.IOW, I've longer arms than most.