View Full Version : shotgun too long for home defense?

July 13, 2008, 10:36 PM
Apologies if this has been posted before. Tried doing a search with various combinations of "too long", "shotgun" and "home defense" and the results were inconclusive.

My single shotgun experience thus far was skeet shooting with a friend's Remington 870 Wingmaster. I'm not a large man (5'6"; 30/32 sleeves), nor am I embarrassed to say that the shotgun felt, well, too long. Had the same complaint in the service when using the M16A2 (wish we had the M4's with the collapsible stocks back then). Am pretty committed to picking up a Remington 870 Express for home defense, but every once in a while I wonder if I'd be better off getting either 1) a shorter long-gun (an AR or a pistol-grip-only shotgun) or 2) a handgun in a powerful caliber.

Am I over-thinking this? What do you all think of this statement?

As for maneuverability, look at somebody pointing a carbine or an 18” barreled home defense shotgun, side by side with somebody pointing a pistol in a Weaver or Isosceles shooting stance. Interestingly enough, the long guns don’t poke out that much further in real life.


Of course, I know that training/becoming familiar with one's firearm is the most important factor (no gun is a magic wand), so whether it's an 18" barrel shotgun with a regular stock or something shorter, I plan to become proficient with it.

Bill DeShivs
July 14, 2008, 01:13 AM
An 870 with an 18" barrel and a youth stock will serve you well.
Standard length barrels and stocks can be cut down very easily. If you have a recoil pad installed, make sure the stock is shortened even more-as the pad will add length.

July 14, 2008, 06:02 AM
There is really no wrong answer. A shotgun stock could be shortened to fit you without too much trouble. If it is in your budget I would explore the AR with a telescoping stock. A shotgun will work but they are over rated in my opinion. Lots of people have seen too much TV and automatically assume a shotgun will do more than it actually will.

July 14, 2008, 06:40 AM
My girlfriend has a 20 gauge shotgun, and the more I look at it the less I like it. Its big and clumsy not to mention trying to navigate any but the biggest hallways could get tricky. Get yourself either a good semiauto pistol in .40,.45 or 10mm, or a decent revolver in .38.or.357 for ease of follow up shots. JHP or standard HP in the revolver will more than make your point to anyone who comes into your home. I have shotguns, but they are kept in the cabinet now. Now I keep a Taurus 85UL .38 Special next to my bed, and I know if I need it the hand of god is merely a trigger pull away.

Dave McC
July 14, 2008, 07:01 AM
A couple things....

A shotgun is a truly fearsome weapon when wielded by a shotgunner. That's someone proficient in its use, not just someone who has one and posts pics on the Net.

Some time ago I did a walkthrough of Casa McCracken with my trap gun, an 870TB with 30" barrel and 15 LOP stock. I'm a behemoth and had little trouble transiting the 3 levels of this townhouse. I did have to switch from RH to LH when heading for the basement, but that's no fault of the weapon.

A shotgun does have to fit the user. My 9 lb, accessorized HD 870 is short enough, but the standard stock and weight may be too much for those of smaller build, like 90% of the human species.

The OP may be better off with something around 12" of LOP, but a short barreled 12 OR 20 gauge should make a fine choice with practice. NO firearm is a good choice without practice, of course.

And practice with a well fitting shotgun is needed. AR style and other trick stocks less so.

Bellsnwhistles even more.The best accessory for any shotgun is ammo.

Also, my friend and fellow THR mod Larry is fecally cognizant,


July 14, 2008, 11:30 AM
I'm one of the ones that believes that a shotgun or pistol cal. carbine is about as perfect as you can get for a home defense gun. Main main two HD guns is a Mossberg 500 18.5" barrel with 00 buck and a Beretta Cx4 9mm with red dot scope, TLR-1 tac-light and Speer Gold Dots 124gr +Ps.


July 17, 2008, 01:25 PM
Get a 18" with a pistol grip, case closed.
Take care

July 17, 2008, 01:54 PM
My Russian Baikal 'Bounty Hunter 2' with 18-1/2" barrels is shorter than my 18" 870 AND 16" M4...

looky here:

and here:

please watch the above short video clip

July 17, 2008, 01:59 PM
If I had to grab my old 22" SxS shotgun to defend my house I'd still feel a LOT better than being barehanded!

July 17, 2008, 02:36 PM
Is it too long? No.

Can something shorter be more appropriate in many situations? Yes.

If there is a problem at night I give my wife the shotty and I take my 1911. I may need to handle the dog, children, doors or a flashlight so having a free hand is important. I will be the one investigating and moving while the wife sits tight.

If I had no handgun would I feel ill equipped with only my 18 1/2" 870? No

July 17, 2008, 03:01 PM
Daylight or outside, a shotgun is my choice. At night in a dark house, I'll grab the 357 first.

July 17, 2008, 06:08 PM
Thanks for the replies, all. After doing some further sleuthing on the forum for general info on "home defense" (rather than searching specifically for "shotgun barrel too long for home defense"), it seems that the majority favor staying put in a safe room with a shotgun, with a sizable minority opting for a powerful handgun (in .45 ACP) and a few very vocal dissenters who insist on an AR or other rifle.

Regardless of the choice I make, I realize that a firearm is only part of the home defense package, and that unless practiced well, could potentially be more of a liability than an asset. Will keep that in mind as I move forward.

This forum is an incredible resource and I thank the community of shooters. Stay safe, all, and I hope to have progress reports in the future.

July 17, 2008, 07:48 PM
I know many will disagree but with a shotgun for home defense I am not planning on having it on my shoulder and taking careful aim (reference to the Weaver stance). I will be shooting from the hip as in my house it is going to be at close range and with 00 buckshot or even slugs I don't see the need for careful aiming. There is also the fear factor of looking down the barrel of a shotgun is a little different for a BG than staring at a pistol.

July 17, 2008, 09:40 PM
Shotguns do need to be aimed, especially at shorter ranges with buck or slugs.

Pistol grips are for pistols, not shotguns.

A stocked shotgun is much easier to shoot accurately than a handgun.

July 17, 2008, 10:28 PM
The shotgun spread is a lot narrower than people think. I agree with jon1911

With that said if you read the article I agree with it. If you are going to hole yourself up in a room and call 911, I would prefer a shotgun. If you are going to clear the house, use a pistol.

July 17, 2008, 11:43 PM
I prefer a shorter barrel fo easier movement in the tight confines of a house. I have both 14" and 18.5" pumps and believe me, the 14" is a lot easier to wield in the house.


July 18, 2008, 12:14 AM
Maybe you need to move to a larger house? I would not let the wife read this post. You will be able to use a Marlin goose gun for home defense.

Uncle Ben
July 18, 2008, 10:34 AM
I voted that it's good, but stick an 18" barrel on there. If you have a standard stock, you can hold the shotty on your hip and tuck the stock under your shoulder. Most good shotguns can change out the barrel too, so you can put on a 26-28" for target/birds, and keep the 18" on at all times at home. Easy and economical.

July 18, 2008, 11:29 AM
You just need the right shotgun :p, mine is 26.75 inches long with an 18.5 inch barrel.

Of course, the last time it was offered for sale was around 1975-76 timeframe :(

July 18, 2008, 01:38 PM
Too long? Nah. So many people always mention the shotgun as the best home defense gun to use. Of course, not EVERYone agrees. Shotgun is very powerful, and imo, will be a much better (quicker) "manstopper" than even an AR-15 or any pistol.

With buckshot (000 for instance), it's like shooting 10 rounds out of an automatic 9mm machinegun... at one time! Take two shots of 000 and that's 20 9mm bullets hitting the target in under 2-3 seconds. If that doesn't [somehow] do the trick, you can always load up 500-600 grain slugs, traveling 1500+ fps, as backup.

Go shotgun!

Have a pistol (or two) at the same time, on your hip, as backup. ;)

July 18, 2008, 02:06 PM
With buckshot (000 for instance), it's like shooting 10 rounds out of an automatic 9mm machinegun... at one time!

Don't say that out loud, "they" might hear you and the next thing you know shotguns will be banned and considered as machineguns. :eek:

July 18, 2008, 03:19 PM
Shotguns do need to be aimed, especially at shorter ranges with buck or slugs.

Pistol grips are for pistols, not shotguns.

A stocked shotgun is much easier to shoot accurately than a handgun.
Everything needs to be aimed whether from the hip or at eye level.

Just because you don't like/can't hit with a pistol gripped shotty doesn't mean that nobody else can.

Of course a stocked shotgun is more accurate than a pistol, it shoots mutiple projectiles.

I love my pistol grip! I can keep it in small spaces and it manuevers far better than a full stock.
I'm a surgeon with my shotty at long range from the hip. If you need to shoot accurate from a farther distance you bring the sights to eye level.

July 18, 2008, 05:45 PM
I figure the longest shot I am going to have to make in my house is 15'. You fellows must have some very big houses to have to worry about long range shots. If you can't hit a person shooting from the hip with a shotgun at 15" or less then you need to sell your shotgun and head out the back door if someone breaks in.

July 18, 2008, 07:06 PM
A 7.5 pound shotgun, with 700 grains of 00, at about 1400 fps, has Recoil Energy of 54 foot pounds, and Recoil Velocity of 21 fps.
Mosin Nagant 44, 7.62 x 54r with 182 grain softpoint at 2625 fps
Recoil Energy of 19 foot pounds, and Recoil Velocity of 11 fps, and, I get a REALLY nasty bayonet as well.:D

My point is, while easy to aim, the difference in recoil is huge, and, if a second shot is needed, the shotgun is NOT that fast, unless you are REALLY good with it.

You can even drop down to 150 grains at 2837 fps, and get Recoil Energy of 17 foot pounds, and Recoil Velocity of 11 fps.

My point is everyone complains about too much recoil in heavy handguns, and recommends a shotgun,:rolleyes: totally forgetting the extreme recoil a shotgun has, and, the problem of a second shot. Plus, the 00 is NOT going to open up much at home defense ranges.

The shotgun does NOT take advantage of the effects of high velocity, well documented in war, since about 1880. There is a reason all those battle rifle calibers are similar: they work.

ANYTHING, in a shortened semi-auto, or good, quick, bolt or pump rifle, at HD ranges is going to be truly devastating. With softpoint ammunition, penetration will be reduced a bit, and, the effect on target will be devastating.

You can load a 44 magnum with a 185 grain HP, at 1600 fps, and, get 15" of gello penetration, with little recoil.

The light, fast big, rounds out of big handguns are devastating. Only thing is the recoil is going to be around 20 ftlbs of energy, and, all your solutions require ear muffs, if you want to hear again.

If you don't have to worry about over penetration, and know what your back stops are, I see no reason a SA/DA .475 or bigger caliber handgun wouldn't be really handy for self-defense. The only problem is finding 265 grain to 300 grain bullets, loading them around 1200-1600 fps, and, there are no factory loads that I can find that do this, so, you have to handload.

My friends shoot a LOT of big game with .500 caliber pistols. Their, and other observers, find that the pistols kill like a 375 H&H rifle. If they do that to game, I see no reason they wouldn't be effective on humans, because, with the right soft bullet, you are really replicating a medium shotgun load, only with one bullet...

Rifleman 173
July 18, 2008, 10:22 PM
If you personally feel that a shotgun is too long for you, think about getting coach guns or coach shotguns. These are actually short versions of double barrel shotguns like the ones that shotgun guards on stagecoaches used in the days of the old west. They meet all the legal requirements but they are a little bit more compact than regular longer barreled shotguns.




I keep one around the house just for the fun of it.

July 19, 2008, 09:18 PM
700 grains?

700 grains = 1.6 ounces

I don't know anyone who uses 1.5+ ounce buckshot loads in an HD shotgun.

I don't think shotguns recoil all that much, as long as I don't shoot 2-ounce 3-inch turkey loads in a 7.25 pound gun without a recoil pad.

And many people shoot doubles without a problem - sporting, skeet, trap, etc.


July 19, 2008, 09:46 PM
My point is, while easy to aim, the difference in recoil is huge, and, if a second shot is needed, the shotgun is NOT that fast, unless you are REALLY good with it.

I must respectfully disagree. Although maybe I fall under the "really good with it" area.
I don't have alot of experience with a shotgun, but I can accurately blast a whole magazine out of a pistol gripped 12 gauge about as quick as you can say jo' momma. The follow up shot is no problemo either.
THE KEY IS TO PULL OR PUSH(whichever you want to call it) FORWARD ON THE FOREND AND PULL BACK ON THE REAR GRIP! Trust me, its the way to go to control it the best. Not to long ago I bought another 18" 12 gauge(sold my first one about 4 or 5 years ago) slapped a Pachmayr vindicator pistol grip on it and took it out to shoot. The first loads I ran through it were some high power birdshot. WHOA!:eek: After blasting that thing I looked at it and said holy moly, this is a beast. It was not comfortable to say the least. I then loaded up some full power 00 buckshots. That too was way too much. I finally figured out to pull the forend forward and the rear grip back and it was like night and day. After incorporating that grip in it was a breeze to shoot.
I was dumping all my shots in 3x2 foot targets at 20 yards away from the hip.
And clearing out tree stumps like lightning. Control and follow up shots were easy as putting whip cream on pie.
Seriously though, if its something you want give it a try. Thats the only way to find out if it's for you or not.

Take care everyone.:)

July 19, 2008, 09:53 PM
I'm not worried, I have 20" Mossy patrolling the premises.:)