View Full Version : Questioning the "double-tap"

December 29, 2000, 01:31 PM
This might belong under "Tactics", but it is a very shotgun-specific issue.

I recently took a Defensive Shotgun course. It was very helpful, but I've had time to sit back and ponder some of the things we did.

We did a lot of training with controlled pairs and hammered pairs. I'm starting to question this. Here's why:

When fighting with a pistol, I totally understand the rationale for paired shots. Handguns are, frankly, not as effective at fight-stopping as we would like. Paired shots increase the liklihood of a vital hit as well as doubling the wound area. Most modern autopistols carry at LEAST 6 rounds in the magazine, often much more, and allow for extremely fast reloads.

The shotgun is a different animal, though. Now you have an effective fight-stopper. One GOOD hit will, in all probability, do the job. If it doesn't, it should at least hit with enough force to allow you time to assess. If you are dealing with an extreme circumstance (i.e. body armor), you will probably end up selecting slugs anyway (assuming you can't just get the heck out of town).

However, in most cases, you will not have anywhere near the capacity of an autoloading pistol. Four rounds is common (even for some LE purposes). Extended tubes usually provide 6 to 9 rounds, depending on barrel length. I'm not counting a round in the chamber, but go ahead and add it if you want.

And reloading a shotgun is frozen-molasses slow compared to an autopistol. We don't want to reload in a fight if we can avoid it. That means giving a little thought to ammo conservation.

So does the tactic designed for many ineffective shots apply to a weapon that provides a few highly-effective shots?

Also, if one round of... say... 00 Buck didn't do the job, what are the chances that a second (possibly unaimed) round would?

I can see a rationale for a "Shoot. Assess." pattern with a shotgun, but "Shoot. Shoot. Assess." seems debatable. If the first shot failed because it wasn't a good hit, I wouldn't expect a second unaimed shot to do much better -- except by pure luck. If the first shot WAS a good hit and was still ineffective, we've got a serious problem that may require a change in tactics.

Your thoughts appreciated. Thanks.

December 29, 2000, 02:45 PM
Why did the instructor think it was important to double tap with a shotgun? I took a SG course a couple of months ago and could not imagine my instructor (who specializes in the SG)suggesting that. You use a shotgun for its devastating effects with one shot.

December 29, 2000, 03:38 PM
No real explanation was offered. It was just a matter of, "The next series will be a controlled (or hammered) pair."

From a training standpoint, I could see the value in learning to get the front sight back on target and ready to fire quickly. That doesn't explain the hammered pairs, though. While the majority of shots fired were aimed singles, there was a significant number of hammered pairs fired.

(unnecessary snide comment) ...unless the instructor just wanted to show how fast he could do it... (end unnecessary snide comment)

I believe that, under stress, we tend to revert back to our training patterns. If your training pattern with a shotgun has been to fire pairs, it seems you would be very likely to do this under stress. I'm thinking the second unassessed shot could be a waste of ammo -- ammo you might need in a few seconds for something else.

I didn't think much of it at the time because my pistol training was pretty heavy on shooting pairs, too. I wish I had -- I would have asked why.

December 29, 2000, 04:35 PM
The shotgun class I took at Frontsight taught a single shot to COM, then assess the situation. If the first round failed to neutralize the target, we were taught to follow up with a single aimed shot to the cranial-occular cavity.

I agree with you that two shots are necessary with the pistol, but not the shotgun. Not once in the class did we fire double taps. I have however practiced double (and triple and quad :) ) tapping my Benelli M1S90 on my own, and must admit it's a lot of fun. I find on double taps I have to aim the first shot slightly low and left of target so that the second shot will be near COM; the darn thing cycles so fast there isn't time to get back on target for the second shot.

December 29, 2000, 05:29 PM
"....I could see the value in learning to get the front sight back on target and ready to fire quickly." I'll bet he was just using it as a drill for that reason, not as a tactic. ljlc

Dave McC
December 29, 2000, 09:03 PM
I see no reason to double tap with a shotgun. If the first one doesn't do the trick, chances are the second won't either. I'm inclined to think this was more for target re-acquistion rather than a procedure.

A better drill might be....

Have someone number silohuette or tombstone targets, and then engage them as someone calls out the numbers. Say targets are 1-5, have the person call out the numbers in random order. Shoot for score and time.

Now, set up again, but put the shotgun down and run in place until you can feel your heartbeat,then shoot. Do it a couple of times, and change the sequence each time.

December 29, 2000, 10:44 PM
I'll second the "drill practice" theory. I don't recall instructors suggesting the double tap for anything other than a handgun; to the contrary, I recall an instructor looking at me funny when I asked about rifle double-taps as he couldn't see the point.

One round of 00 buckshot may be far superior to a double tap, as it constitutes not two consecutive shots, but nine simultanious 9mm shots.

Practicing shotgun double taps is likely an exercise to improve rapid recoil recovery and sight & target reacquisition.

December 30, 2000, 08:03 AM
Check out the following story.
The goblin was shot once throught the chest with a slug at 10 feet, and was trying to crawl to his gun when he was shot a second (fatal) time. No body armor or anything like that, just one determined goblin.

The point, in all defensive shooting situations, is to shoot and keep shooting until the threat is no longer a threat. Sometimes, it just takes a heckuva lot more than one might expect to turn a threat into a non-threat.....

December 30, 2000, 12:10 PM
Good story to show that a single slug is not guaranteed to stop. It does NOT show the need for a "double tap", i.e. two rapid-fire shots delivered to the same target in the same position without need of assessing the situation in between. The first slug DROPPED the perp, REQUIRING scanning the scene and assessing the situation _before_ delivering the next shot.

As put in another discussion of double-taps: "I fired the first round from my .45, and when I attempted to recover the sight picture for the second part of the double-tap, the target simply wasn't there."

December 30, 2000, 01:45 PM
Well I question the point of double taps with handguns myself. With shotguns I would think your correct in your reasoning [ie slow reloading small mags etc] and I would agree that hammers with a shotgun serve no purpose.

Can you ask the instructer via phone/email/snail mail why that drill was used?

I learned in the martial arts that many people teach techniques and even tactics for which they do not know the reasoning. Or if they do know they can't articulate it.

If the point of the exercise was to improve speed I would think that clearing bowling pins would be much better idea.

One technique I use at many ranges, where you can't use reactive targets or human shaped targets, for rifles and pistols [would work with slugs also] is to place several 3x5" notecards on the backer. Not in a row or anything. And then shoot them each once as quickly as I can. The 3x5 card is about the same size as aiming point for a head shot.

December 30, 2000, 11:11 PM
Glamdring, that's a good idea. I haven't gotten any email from the training group's list in a while, but I might still have a return address in my inbox. It was a guest instructor. At least the question might liven up the mailing list (I got real tired of getting e-mail every time someone wanted to sell a barely-used LoudenBoomer with high-ride holster :) ).

Just to clarify -- I'm not suggesting that one shot will always do the job. It just seems that taking the split-second to assess before firing again makes sense with a shotgun.

December 30, 2000, 11:20 PM
Hey man I don't care who the man is, if I hit him once in the body with either my 3 1/2" 0000 (not a typo) buck load or 3" berneke slug, the man is going down. Hell my shells will prob down an kelvlar armored assailent. It's so nice to be able to get custom shotgun shells ;)

December 30, 2000, 11:37 PM
if I hit him once in the body with either my 3 1/2" 0000 (not a typo) buck load or 3" berneke slug, the man is going down.

"I am dead. I just haven't stopped moving yet."
- Zaphod Beeblebrox

Oleg Volk
January 1, 2001, 04:34 PM
And some people would say "aim low for round #1 and center for #2 to get out of recoil faster" :) I wonder if I'd even know whether or not I connected with a 20 gauge #3 buck load so I'd be inclined to give a couple more for good measure.

Dave McC
January 2, 2001, 07:19 AM
Oleg, many years ago we did a jug shoot to test relative effectiveness of 20 and 12 ga buck loads. Gallon jugs were filled to the top and taped closed, then shot at about 10 yards with either 12 ga 00 or 20 ga #3 buck. Any difference in effectiveness wasn't obvious, we got good and wet with both,and the jugs more or less disintegrated equally.

Move an oz or so of lead above the speed of sound and insert it into a target made of flesh and blood. It would take more difference in bore diameter to show an obvious difference than between 12 and 20 ga.

January 3, 2001, 11:24 AM
So Elmo any news?

As to only one shot being needed with a SG I think that will be the case most of the time. But not always. Cirillo mentions at least one case were a goblin took a solid chest hit from a 12 slug and wasn't stopped. Reading between the lines from what Cooper has said, he is aware of some times were more than a couple rounds were needed with a SG [not sure if needed more than a couple of hits or not].

I personally don't like the double tap philosophy because I figure that in actual combat the target will probably be behind at least partial cover/concealment or moving or both. If they stand still out in the open should be easy to resolve :D
I would rather use the sights for each shot unless at contact distance [somewhere around 5 or 6 feet close enoughy they can use hand to hand techniques].

old hawk
January 3, 2001, 11:35 AM
some time back i owned nohing but shotguns without the disconnect feature,mod 37 ithaa,mod 12,97 winch etc.
one time a close friend who never shot any of mine but did have a mossy tried the ithaca out one day, next thing i know he didnt take the finger off when pumping the next round.bang, stock off the mush the hard way unexpectedly.
i proceed to catch a bit of hell then the why howcum's what for you own that's?, i then dumped the mag off at setup targets swinging left to right along the way.something he tried and failed to do with his mossy no matter how hard he tried he could not beat my speed at dropping them out.if you have to kill in self defense makesure the first shot counts because the second shot you pay for in court in some cases.especially for making "sure" theyre dead.after a good centered sternum shot i dont think anything would move more than a foot afterwards,only to fall down maybe ......

January 3, 2001, 02:01 PM
Honestly, I haven't bothered to follow up with the training group. My bad, but I was mostly just relieved to find out my concerns were valid. Thanks, everyone.

I'm pretty sure the answer will be recoil recovery and learning the mechanics of working a pump after each shot (75% of the class was pump-action).

As for me, I'll stick to using the front sight and assessing after each shot in my future training.

January 3, 2001, 05:39 PM
Regardless of the weapon you use, the tactic is the same. Shoot and cover down i.e. assess effectiveness. Even with a SG you wouldn't shoot and ignore. The good news with a SG is you can assess after just one shot, not a double tap like you would probably do with a handgun.

January 3, 2001, 09:59 PM
I think one should be careful about double-taps. Most courts which use common sense (perhaps there are a few) will ask the simple question: when did the perp become a 'non-threat?' First round ought to have settled that question. If you tap twice, you may be up for charges. Same-o for handgun: the objective is to reduce the threat to zero (this may mean incapacitation,) not to reduce the threat to shreds. Ambulance will carry threat out of neighborhood; you will not likely be escorted to the copshop. I also understand that it is very difficult to stop firing under extreme stress.

January 5, 2001, 12:29 AM
double tap or not...your choice.

Now, for a shotgun being slower to load...depends. If you step behind cover after the first shot or are moving, you eject the spent shell and pop a new one in the mag. You can go all day like that. which is faster, dropping the clip on an autoloader and pulling a fresh one from a mag pouch or a pocket or whatever and then racking the slide or just popping a shell from your bandoleer or belt and still having a chambered round while freshening the pipe?

you can do the same trick with a lever action rifle and my auto loader shotgun had the same ability as well as my pump

Can't remember who but some company sells a speedloader for shotguns...loads three rounds under a secnd.