View Full Version : Home defense shotgun, best choice under duress?

November 21, 2012, 10:06 AM
Me and a friend of mine were discussing the topic of home defense, and while I usually advocate a handgun is a great option if not the optimal option a good shotgun should not be ruled out.

The debate between the two of us was the tired and beaten to death argument of whether a pump action or a semi auto shotgun is the optimal choice.

There was a twist to this discussion and that involved the thought of the unthinkable happening where our significant other was left in a situation where either of us was not present due to being away from the home or incapacited by the intruders.

His query involved, in a state of anxiety, would his wife be able to function in that state and remember to rack the slide of a pump action shotgun to chamber the next round. My argument that ultimately this boils down to training and performing an action so much that it no longer requires thought, since such situations rarely allows one to actively be thinking about anything but survival of you and those you love. His wife is not unfamiliar with firearms, in fact, she grew up in the Phillipines where if I recall, several years of military service is mandatory for all citizens.

His rebuttal is that in his current situation, time is something that simply is at a high premium, especially with a three year old daughter and the struggle they are faced with trying to make ends meet. Training at the range for such a situation is not something high on the priority list right now.

His argument is that in the case of a semi auto shotgun, all you have to do is point and shoot, nothing else is really required other than pulling the trigger. He expressed his concern about his wife remembering to chamber another round if the situation required her to fire more than once.

I essentially came back stating that, while not a factor if the firearm is well maintained, there are more things that can go wrong with a semi automatic, such as jamming and so on as opposed to a pump action. If the firearm were to malfunction, would his wife be able to diagnose the problem and be able to perform remedial actions in a timely manner? Again that boils down to training, which takes time that he expressly stated he and his wife unfortunately currently just can't seem to spare. The simplicty of a pump action shotgun is one of its greatest virtues, and I feel he may be underestimating what any loving and responsible parent would do to protect their child, especially in a situation that could prove life threatening.

Furthermore, I stated that with any firearm, he should sit down and go over the basic functions of it with his spouse. Armed with this knowledge should help midigate some of the problems he was concerned about. Tactical positioning is also something he should consider in such a event. Leaving a shotgun in the bedroom with his wife, and having her take up a defensive position while covering the only entrypoint into the room would help mitigate the chances of her missing the assailent due to lack of experience while he was out and about securing the rest of the house.

What do you all think? Was I correct in my assessments, was there anything I missed or any problems with my stance on the subject.

November 21, 2012, 01:18 PM
Your buddy has a bunch of issues going on here...

but if money is tight, preventing training on a reasonably consistent basis ....I think it makes the choice of a semi-auto shotgun vs a pump a moot point. They both require some training...she has to get the safety off, have some ability to deal with recoil, etc... / so without training, in my view they're both equally poor choices - even though there might be pluses or minuses for each platform in the hands of a trained shooter...the real issue here is training / or lack of it.

To say one is less poor than the others - is a strech in my view.
Spending time with someone dry firing essentially....is ok / but its not a replacement for range time - and actually firing the weapon.

Length of pull, weight of the gun, what gague, managing recoil, balance of the gun, proper sight picture, etc ....all affect how a shotgun fits the shooter...let alone the effectiveness of the weapon in a defense situation ....and what fits me at 6'5" and 290 lbs vs my wife at 5' 9" and 115 lbs ...is way different !!
If your buddy thinks he needs a tactical shotgun - he should probably buy what fits him ....and as his budget permits, hopefully get some range time for his wife, if she wants to shoot, then let her pick what she wants for a defensive firearm.

I don't subscribe to the attitude that everyone needs a tactical shotgun ...although I don't dispute they can be effective defensive weapons. Even a shotgun with a 28" barrel - can be used for Defense...although it may not be a "tactical - fighting shotgun" ...its fine for Defense. I might pick a semi-auto over a pump gun ...or even an Over Under...and if I train with it....it'll be fine.

For somebody that doesn't train much ...even a good revolver is a better choice than a lot of weapons / certainly simple to use and fire - vs any shotgun where you'll have to remember to manipulate the safety, etc. before you fire it....

November 21, 2012, 01:34 PM
Practice makes perfect. If I were a thug shooting "gangster-style" with my new "nine" I would hate to run-up against a dedicated SASS shooter with a single action revolver.

November 21, 2012, 01:42 PM
Racking the action on a shotgun is so second nature to me that I do it as part of the cycle without even thinking about it. Even on the last round as the last round is fired I sharply rack the action back and slam it home, because you can't be sure that was the last round under stress. Train the way you fight and you will fight the way you train. Train like you and your buddies are out on a social gathering at a range and not paying attention to your mechanics might cost you your life. I realize that not every range day is an intense one, an that's fine too, but every now and again it's good to go by yourself or with like minded individuals and take it seriously.

November 21, 2012, 01:47 PM
I get it guys....but the OP is asking about what the best option is, for his buddies wife ---- when he's saying they won't train...or at least that she won't train....

November 21, 2012, 01:51 PM
If it comes down to not training, I would not recommend a shotgun in the first place. I would go with a double action revolver. If the semi-auto is always "teed-up" then I would think the semi-auto shotgun is best in this circumstance but if it jams well... Regardless, anyone with a gun needs to have the "Four Rules" burned into their mind practice or not.

November 21, 2012, 01:59 PM
Ok, at least we're all on the same page --- in terms of what he's asking...

November 21, 2012, 07:27 PM
For some reason I've always felt like racking the slide on a pump gun of any sort was the most reflexive way to cock/recock any firarm. No evidence, just my opinion about what came naturally to me. Little or no practice? ,pumps get my vote for being simple,reliable, instinctive. In a shotgun it is so much more effective of a round that it just seems to make the most sense no matter how I look at it.

November 21, 2012, 09:26 PM
I teach police officers that have used a Rem 870 for thirty years and they have trouble working the gun at the range. Sportsman and gun people are different and they know a whole lot more then they think they know. For someone who isn't going to train I would suggest a double action revolver as stated above. If a revolver is out of the question then I'd go for a SXS couch gun, (they would only have to learn the tang safety!)

November 22, 2012, 11:27 PM
Shotgun? 20 gauge semi-auto

However...a pistol may be a better choice.

Hopefully she gets involved in the decision.

November 23, 2012, 05:27 AM
If she's at home alone a lot and is unable to train with a gun, perhaps a doberman (or similar model) would be a better choice than a gun. And, maybe whatever gun she's most comfortable with (presuming there is one) as a backup.
A security system sign, a beware of dog sign, and a deep bark coming from the house should deter pretty much anyone.

Double Naught Spy
November 23, 2012, 07:25 AM
If you take the attitude that she won't train with it, then the semi-auto shotgun is the poor choice between semi and pump. This isn't because of how well it shoots, but because of the possibility of needing to clear malfunctions. If something goes wrong with a pump, an untrained person will try to pump it which can free some malfunctions. If it goes wrong with a semi-auto, they tend try just pulling the trigger again and looking at it...which does no good.

November 23, 2012, 11:20 AM
BigJimP originally wrote:but the OP is asking about what the best option is, for his buddies wife ---- when he's saying they won't train...or at least that she won't train A good dog and a taser.

I believe anyone who won't bother to train is going to have issues with pulling the trigger if the time comes. If that time comes they have picked the wrong time to try and figure things out. They are more likely than not to become a statistic and to provide a gun to someone who shouldn't have one in the first place.

At least if the taser is taken from them, it in and of itself can't be used to kill them or other innocent people.

wild cat mccane
November 23, 2012, 05:02 PM
A large stream canister sized pepper spray.

So much more practical and zero risk to her.

November 24, 2012, 12:24 PM
Benelli.....M4 nuff said

November 28, 2012, 10:56 PM
Double barrel 20 for the woman who does not want to train.

November 28, 2012, 11:53 PM
I use a Saiga 12 guage semi auto with a 20rd drum. The reliability of an AK with the capacity of one as well and the devastation of a shotgun!!


November 29, 2012, 05:27 PM
dry fire is free and it only takes 15 minutes a day so either system should work if one puts in there time. Whatever you own get some dummy rounds and dry practice at least 3 times a week and try to live fire once a month and it doesn't matter if it's a NEF single popper or an uber tacticool saiga zombie slayer

November 29, 2012, 05:40 PM
When my bride refused to practice enough to become proficient with my Mossberg 500 20ga, I put it in the back window of my dumptruck...

I had an old single shot 12 with just enough barrel to keep legal overall length...

As I told her... "If push comes to shoot, just pull this hammer thingy back as you raise the gun and fire as soon as you see the person or animal down the top of the barrel..." Even then I wasn't confident in her ability to actually get a shot off with it. She did finally settle down and train on the pistols and rimfire rifles so she had better choices...


Old Grump
November 30, 2012, 12:46 PM
His argument is that in the case of a semi auto shotgun, all you have to do is point and shoot, nothing else is really required other than pulling the trigger. He expressed his concern about his wife remembering to chamber another round if the situation required her to fire more than once.Your buddy is right but the gun has to be loaded with one in the chamber so all she has to do is push the safety off. She won't be doing reloads or jam clearing drills if the ammo is right and she has done a fer drills just grabbing the loaded gun, safety shoot.

His rebuttal is that in his current situation, time is something that simply is at a high premium, especially with a three year old daughter and the struggle they are faced with trying to make ends meet. Training at the range for such a situation is not something high on the priority list right now.

There are the two flies in that ointment. I would never keep a loaded shotgun where a 3 year old could get to it and there is no place a 3 year old can't get to if they have a mind to go there. Same goes for a handgun unless she is willing to wear it from the time she gets up in the morning till she goes to bed at night. Is she isn't or won't or can't train then perhaps an old farmers gun will be better for her. A 16 or 20 gauge single shot break action gun. A large high visibility front sight up front and she is good to go for one fast deadly shot and depending on her mental state a quick second shot if needed.

Lee Lapin
November 30, 2012, 08:41 PM
Best option for your friend's wife? By far - http://www.corneredcat.com/ And frankly, BOTH of you menfolks will benefit from reading there too.

IF your friend's wife will read it, and take it to heart, it will do her a world of good. Kathy (who goes by pax here) has done some great work on this site.

November 30, 2012, 10:24 PM
+1 to The Cornered Cat... In fact I just told my father about it to send the link to gals who seem interested in SD/HD or just firearms in general... It also has chapters regarding guns in a household that includes children as well... Also time to put the link on my facebook wall for my "gal buddies" to check out...


December 26, 2012, 01:21 PM
Kimio, your dilemma is thought provoking from a couple of perspectives.

One side of me says that an untrained person, male or female, is unprepared to make ALL the decisions necessary before a gun comes into play. When a 3 year old is added to the scenario, with an absence of training or familiarity, well....Sorry, but no firearm at all may be the better choice. If you choose to devote to a self defense plan, you must also commit enough time to make sure your plan is going to have the desired effect.

Two, malfunctions in self defense are not limited to the mechanical side of the firearm only. Mental malfunctions are the result of a lack of training, and a lack of a repetitive, second nature approach to that goal is the thing that nightmares are made of.

Three, you mention a couple of reasons that training is impossible, namely time and money. How about a more pragmatic approach to home security, one that involves hardening the home perimeter, with better window and door locks, motion detecting lighting outside, common sense things that can work with an every day plan of what to do when things go bump in the night, (or the day). Also, what neighbors can be counted on for help in your absences, programming the police phone number into the phone, etc.. Figure out a way to keep the dirtballs outside and you will not have to fight them inside.

I guess I am getting too old to take unnecessary chances, but home defense is way too important to pretend it is not time consuming.

Good luck in your search for an easy solution, friend.

December 26, 2012, 02:47 PM
Do the people on the handgun boards go through anywhere near this much agonizing over what to use?

Old Grump
December 26, 2012, 04:27 PM
Do the people on the handgun boards go through anywhere near this much agonizing over what to use? Of course they do.

What is:
most reliable
most accurate
powerful enough
not to powerful
bullet weight
bullet type
That's off the top of my head, I didn't even cover most of the things like concealability, weight of loaded gun, ease of loading, trigger pull, availability of ammo etc. etc. etc.....

December 26, 2012, 05:09 PM
With no training I really think the pump is the best home defense weapon. No jams to worry about, and I mean come on, racking the pump really isnt a difficult thing to wrap your head around. I would take a pump shotgun over any handgun as well for HD purposes

December 26, 2012, 06:45 PM
"No jams to worry about"

They all "jam."

December 26, 2012, 07:13 PM
I theory the pump. In actual practice the semi will be more reliable. Most problems are caused by operator error and that is less likely with a semi.

If I had to survive in the wilderness for years with only one gun it would be the pump. It can take more abuse and still work with poor quality ammo. But is a stessful SD situation in normal situations I'd take the semi auto.

December 26, 2012, 07:43 PM
Can get yourself a more severe jam w a pump as well.

December 27, 2012, 04:27 PM
May I second the suggestion...for the woman to go with a Stoeger Coach double barrel shotgun. Check out the low-recoiling 12 gauge Aguila minishot shells. It has a short barrel...which makes it less likely for an intruder to grab it.
No sound is probably more terrifying to a home intruder, than to hear the rack-an-shuck of a pump action shotgun. I would shy away from the semi auto shotgun. Make sure she wears hearing protection, in case she lights one off in the bedroom --- cuz shotgun blasts are awfully loud in enclosed spaces.

If she prefers a pump...teach her to rack the action during recoil. Live-fire training should be mandatory. Get Matt Burkett's Shotgun Mastery dvd.

December 28, 2012, 08:47 PM
I've got to agree with the point made earlier that if you're not willing or able to devote the necessary time to becoming proficient with the gun and knowledgeable of self-defense, then a gun is probably not for you.

As someone also said, snap caps are relatively inexpensive and a great way to get comfortable with the operation of the gun. I learned all my manual of arms using snap caps, and continue to train with them on a regular basis. I use live ammo to validate my practice.


December 28, 2012, 09:30 PM
If training is not part of the program, get a dog and a can of bear spray- SERIOUSLY
Not everyone needs or should have a gun for SD
I wouldn't buy my wife a Vette and then have her drive at Daytona without the requisite training because she is not prepared to o it safely. Same with guns

December 28, 2012, 11:28 PM
With no training I really think the pump is the best home defense weapon. No jams to worry about, and I mean come on, racking the pump really isnt a difficult thing to wrap your head around.

Hell, I've seen guys short shucking pumps while bird or rabbit hunting. Couldn't imagine them in a HD situation. :D

December 29, 2012, 08:01 PM
Exactly, saying pump cannot malf is poor advice and could get someone killed.

December 31, 2012, 08:37 PM
I'm just learning about shotguns, too....

But I would never suggest that a person (like this one) get a dog for protection. I'd suggest that almost any gun combined with a marginally trained person is safer than a protection dog.

Dogs are alive and active in / around the house all day (not tucked under your mattress or in a safe). If the mailman, UPS, meter reader or the neighbor's kid arrives, would you trust that your doberman will decipher friend from foe?

With dogs, there is always the "oh I forget to put him in the pen.." moment at just the wrong time.

Guns, of any type, stay put.... and don't do anything until you do.

January 9, 2013, 06:02 AM
Of the 2 common formats; auto vs pump action, I'd lean towards the pump action. A few top US instructors like Massad Ayoob, Louis Ayelbuck(check spelling) & John Farnam have guides and videos for defense training with pump shotguns. A couple(man & woman) could learn the basic drills with a well made pump action. The semi auto style seems better suited for SWAT or estate security type functions.
If a woman(wife-girlfriend) can't or won't learn to use a full scale 500 or 870 model pump, maybe a simple 12ga sideXside or O/U defense shotgun could work. Stoger puts out a "tactical" type with 1913 rails on it for lasers/white lights.
Someone could train to operate a coach gun even under stress. A white light would be a smart add-on to prevent ADs or mistaken IDs.

New low recoil LE/defense shotgun rounds are out there too.

January 9, 2013, 09:33 AM
Practice makes perfect.

Not quite...

PERFECT practice makes perfect, which is why a newbie should take a lesson or three to learn the right way to go from the beginning. Otherwise, they will ingrain bad habits that have to be unlearned. If these folks aren't going to practice at all, then lessons would be a great but likely not happening scenario in this case. That just sounds like a bad outcome waiting to happen, IMO.

January 9, 2013, 09:59 AM
Id rsther pull the trigger 5 or 6 times wo pumping in between myself. Kinda the difference between a single action handgun or a dao only in my book. RR

January 9, 2013, 10:08 AM
I agree with BigD to an extent but will profess that ANY practice that makes you proficient with your weapon is better than none...

For instance, i am not formally trained unless circa 1970's Soldier of Fortune and Field and Stream magazine articles count...

But being a po' folk redneck with caring parents and grand parents to lead me best they could, I learned to make best use of my ammo for practice and hunting...

No such thing as "bustin' off a few rounds for the heck of it..."... I am rife with fundamental flaws and bad habits that would likely make a truly trained gunman cringe or worse...

But I do make the lead fall on the right target pretty much routinely...

One of my worst known flaws is in use of the trigger hand and finger... Having grown up on borrowed guns much of the time and these being owned by average or taller men when I was a super small boy for my age, my grip placement is far from precise as is where I place my finger on the trigger... Even with the same gun of mine and during same session, my hand and finger are all over the place...

Sometimes I "pull" the trigger, sometimes I "squeeze" it while other times I just "snap it off the sear"...

One bad habit that must be avoided or corrected is the "flinch factor"... It WILL cause missed shots and under duress can get your still beating heart handed to you...


January 11, 2013, 11:35 PM
It sounds to me that they would be better served with a service pistol like a Model 10 or Glock 19.

January 12, 2013, 05:50 AM
I agree with the others who suggested a coach gun or double action revolver.

IMO a beginer would likely short stoke a pump more than a good semi with tested buckshot would jam.

January 14, 2013, 07:22 PM
topic over:


you welcome.