View Full Version : Shotgun Question

March 26, 2006, 09:01 PM
I"m thinking about buying a shotgun for home self-defense. I'm female 5'3" 115 lbs. I heard a 20 Gauge Auto is the best.
Please be specific: Model# ... Any replies will greatly appeciated.

March 26, 2006, 09:24 PM
Yes, a 20-ga. autoloader would be a good defense weapon. However, given your build you might want to go to a sporting goods store with a male friend (so the smarta$$ behind the counter doesn't ignore you) and try handling a autoloader. They are a bit longer and heavier due to their mechanisms. If you can handle them - great. If not, there are options.

A single-shot is lighter and more compact, but with the absence of weight comes increased recoil. A thicker recoil pad would take the sting out, but that is a matter of preference.

A pump-action would be a compromise, would weight more and hold more shells than a single-shot, but would still have more felt recoil than an auto because it has a rigid action.

No matter what you settle on you will have to have the butt stock shortened due to your shorter stature - this would be a good time to have a magnum rifle recoil pad added. Because of the neccessity of this modification you will have to buy one with wooden stocks.

Hope this helps. ;)

Death from Afar
March 26, 2006, 09:31 PM
That is a good choice of gun. However, and auto has much less recoil than pump, even in 12 gauge. YOu should try a 12 gauge auto and see if you can cope with it. I suspect you wont, but may be worth a try. As is suggested a relaitivly cheap recoil pad will help a great deal.

I would recomend a pump gun. You can fire almost as fast as an auto, but dont have to worry about a stoppage.

I would get a Remington 870 in 20 Gauge, and have a 20 inch barrel made up for it.


Dave McC
March 26, 2006, 09:39 PM
A 20 gauge auto is a very good choice, but not the only one. Go to a range and try out a few shotguns and ask questions.

Many shotgunners are helpful to new shooters and oft will let a polite tyro try theirs out for a shot or two, maybe even a round.Then, you'll know what works for you.

Many ranges have lessons available, some geared strictly for women.


March 26, 2006, 10:23 PM
A Range? What is that? In Flagstaff Arizona the local range is anywhere the BLM will let us target shoot.

March 26, 2006, 10:36 PM
If you can handle it, a 20 ga PUMP may be the way to go. Any intruder is very familiar with the 'cha-ching' of a shell being cycled into the cylinder...and chances are that will be enough to send him on his way...

March 26, 2006, 11:10 PM
If you can go $1500, I'd suggest a Vang Comp 20-gauge Remington pump.
He can fit the stock to your size, the recoil management system he uses involving ported and back-bored barrels coupled with a superior recoil pad & a good 20-gauge buck or slug load should be pretty bearable for you. That Vang Comp setup is nice.

March 26, 2006, 11:48 PM
(DPris, if that's you, I read your 20 gauge shotgun review in one of my subscribed-to magazines...nice work as usual!)

reference: http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/shotguns/model_1100/model_1100_sporting_20.asp
You might consider a Remington 1100, however, a shorter barrel will likely be desired, which will run ~$200, delivered, from somewhere like: www.brownells.com

There's even a 20 gauge mag extension at: http://www.wilsoncombat.com/sa_mag_extensions.asp

With all that said, I don't agree with the 20 gauge semi-auto for you. I've seen our 5' tall female deputies qualifying with our 12 gauge pump shotguns with no problems, given instruction, practice, & training.

My major concern is the lack of ammo variety for the 20 gauge. I see no 00 buck, which I prefer, although there is a variety of 20 gauge slugs on the market. There are also 20 pellet #3 buckshot rounds, however.

12 gauge is the best way to go for home-defense shotgunning, especially if you haven't yet bought the gun.

My advice: Consider a 12 gauge, of which there are many, or an AR-15 variant.

March 26, 2006, 11:58 PM
I suggest a saiga .410 auto. Load it with 3" mag 000 buck and you have an awsome clip feed fast feeding shot gun that will flat out tear a bad guys butt slam off. Also it is light and balanced well but just heavy enough that you will hardly fill any recoil. The Saiga shotgun line also come in 20 and 12 guage. You should be able to pick up the .410 for around $200 or maybe even less.

March 27, 2006, 01:21 AM
Thanks, L. :)

March 27, 2006, 10:02 AM
Be advised that there is special 12ga ammo made just for home defense, it is a smaller shell and does not recoil as much as regular ammo. A youth model may fit you better than a regular model.
Try as many as possible, get one that fits you and a brand with a good reputation for reliability.
May you never have to use it in a home defense role.

March 27, 2006, 10:44 AM
Get a 12 Ga ,it's more versatile. Most womenshooting sporting clays use a 12. Use 00 buck,reduced recoil in an auto for lightest recoil.Make sure the gun fits you and you can operate it in every way and practice !!

March 27, 2006, 11:13 AM
I would look at either a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 pump shotgun in 20 gauge. Get the 18 or 20 in barrel in improved cylinder. The pump shotgun is very intuitive in terms of operation and shooting. If you can handle a 12 ga, I would go that way (more versatile), but the 20ga should be just fine. They also make light weight versions in 20 ga. It is not like this decision will necessarily have to be what you have for the rest of your life. You can always change your mind when you have some experience.

Don't think of the shotgun as a scatter gun at home defense ranges. The shot pattern will be very tight at normal interior ranges. So, you still have to aim the gun. Go with high brass shells in No. 4 shot or larger. BB or Buckshot would be good. Don't just think in terms of buckshot as practical ammunition.

Pick up a few guns at the store, pull them up to your shoulder like you are going to shoot. Go with the one that fits you the best. The gun should just naturally float up to your shoulder when you pull it up.

The small home defense 12 ga ammunition is made by Agula. I have some, but have never tried it out. I have heard that they have feeding problems and they certainly may not function well in an auto shotgun.

Take the gun out with a friend and shoot it a bit so you get comfortable with the recoil, aiming, etc. Think safety first (yours and your loved ones). You can practice at home with the gun empty as far as bringing it up to your shoulder and aiming.

March 27, 2006, 04:37 PM
To eliminate felt recoil in a home defense shotgun, I have become a believer in the Knoxx SpecOps stock. With a 12 Ga Rem 870 pump there is almost no recoil with the Knoxx stock.

March 27, 2006, 06:59 PM
Welcome crevelingaa,

There are many ways to go on self defense guns and a Remington 1100 would be a great gun to get to know and shoot, as would a Beretta 391 in 20 gauge. I have a special place and love of the 1100 as it was the first gun that my father bought me for my 13th birthday. It was a 20ga with a modified vent rib barrel. I ran my first 25 and 50 straight in skeet with that gun a few years later and still shoot it quite often 25 years later. I also use it with a shortened stock to teach new shooters how much fun clay games can be, especially women shooters. If you have no experience with shotguns and their recoil, less is best. You can always work your way up to bigger guns in 12ga, but if the recoil turns you off from shooting very much you won't be shooting enough to get used to the gun and how it works.

If you decide to buy a 20 gauge or a 12ga for that matter, get the lightest shells you can find to start with practice, bird shot, and work your way up to bigger defense loads of buck and slugs when you get to know how your gun shoots.

March 27, 2006, 09:28 PM
I would recommend the Remington 870 Express Magnum. I own one and it is a light versatile gun with very little recoil (depending on the shot you choose). I think you could handle it nicely and the price tag won’t hurt your pockets too bad either. :D

March 27, 2006, 09:43 PM
One reason I suggested the Vang Comp was its light weight. Back when I was teaching female police type peoples to shoot the shotgun, weight was a factor. Smaller torso'd people don't always have the upper body strength to maneuver a heavier 12-guage. The Vang Comp was very easy for my wife to heft, and she's 5'1" with arm problems that reduce her ability to lift rifles and shotguns. That short & light 20-gauge with ported barrel is getting to be a popular model for Vang with women already, and with either a slug or the biggest buckshot load tolerable it is no slouch as a defensive tool. :)

March 28, 2006, 09:05 AM
find a weapon that fits you well and the price is right your going to keep this gun for defense and proably won't be using it for anything else. get one that shoots when you pull the trigger I wouldn't worry to much about recoil because if you fire this at an intruder you won't even notice just be careful where you keep it and be safe

March 28, 2006, 10:37 AM
i helped a friend who was about your stature, pick out a shotgun for HD. What we found that fit her well, and was comfortable was a "youth" model Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge. Really just a regular 500 with a shorter stock. As far as ammo, don't worry about different loads or lack thereof. At short range (typical inside a house) even light birdshot is gonna make a mess outa the BG, although heavier loads would be preferred.

March 28, 2006, 02:10 PM
Get an Remington 870 in 12 gauge and add either a Knoxx COPstock or the full Compstock version. No recoil problems anymore. Anyone can shoot it even a properly trained child.