View Full Version : Shotgun Auto vs Pump 4 Home Defense, which one?

September 6, 2001, 05:40 PM
I didn’t want to put this in the shotgun forum because it dealt with home defense. I did a search also but didn't find much on this subject.

Is a pump really necessary for the home defense? The 870s have the most after market accessory available to customize it to you. It has proven reliability. But wouldn’t the average Joe benefit more with an auto with less recoil then a pump. Benelli, HK, Rem 11-87, and many others make reliable autos in a tactical configuring for home defense. In Law Enforcement, they use many different types of ammunition, bean bags, gas, rubber, and of course 00 buck, which a pump could handle the various types. For home defense it would be loaded with 00 buck and not deviate much form that. As with any firearm you would use to protect your life you would go to the range fire it for reliability until you felt confident with it.
My thought is go with an auto for less felt recoil and faster follow up shots.
Any opinions or comments?


September 6, 2001, 05:56 PM
Nothing says to an intruder "WHO'S IN MY HOUSE?" like racking the slide of a shotgun. It is the international language all people understand saying get out now or else! I wouldn't worry about the recoil either. If you have to pull that trigger you will be so pumped up with adrenelin that you will not even notice. Finaly, with an auto just used for home protection isn't there a slight chance of it being neglected and all of those dust bunnies from under the bed messing up the action and possibly jaming it up? With a slide just rack it and go to town.:cool:

September 6, 2001, 06:08 PM
Adrenaline or not, recoil is always an issue. You may not feel the recoil but you will be affected by it. Also, as for the intimidation factor, most semi's make a similar sound to a pump when racking the first round into the chamber. Heck, my HD gun is an AK-47 and it even sounds somewhat like a shotgun when I get it ready to rock. As for the jamming issue, I think they are about even, possibly with the advantage going to the auto. (belive it or not) Under stress, sometimes there is a tendency to short-stroke the pump and thus not chamber a second round. When I get another shotgun it will be an auto for sure.

September 6, 2001, 06:14 PM
I guess it's really up to your personal tastes.

On the gun:
I've had a used Browning 12 ga. pump with a beautiful walnut stock as a home defense gun for 15 years. It may be hard to believe but with 5 rounds (plug out) and no fancy accessories. I know it will work just fine if I ever have the need to put it to work. I think it was John Milius on Tales of the Gun that said the best home defense might just be that distinctive ka-chunk - ka-chunk sound of a pump gun to let anybody in the area know you mean business and they are in terminally big trouble.

If you ever have the misfortune to have to use it, the recoil difference between a pump and auto loader won't really matter to you at the time. The adrenalin will soak up any extra recoil.

My Browning also doubles as a nice downscale trap gun when I feel like a little practice. It cost me about $150 used. No, it doesn't have the really cool camo paint job, sling, short barrel, extra rounds clipped to the butt stock etc.. I'm just making sure I have the extra firepower to stop anyone in my home once and for all. The short barrel issue becomes kind of a moot point if you have a home defense plan that calls for you to put your loved ones in one room and call for help while you defend the door to one room instead of trying to "sweep the house" on your own against an unkown number of invaders.

On the ammo:
I'm going to go a little against the grain here, but unless you live in a house by yourself, and have no nearby neighbors, or if you are really expecting home invaders with serious body armor, 00 is kind of a high penetration load. Even if you hit your target a few of those .32 caliber sized pellets are going to go through the walls and into the next room or two, or out the window. You'll get the same results, a sudden and permananet stop, with a lighter load and limit the chances of hitting someone in another room. You also get a bit more spread, but since most people don't have a clear shot in a house of more than 20 feet or so it doens't really matter about the spread too much.

Some people have to have all the goodies though. I'm just not one of them I guess. My local shop sells a lot of the camo and OD painted Mossberg and other guns (great guns, don't get me wrong) at twice what I payed for a dual purpose gun.

You pays your money and makes your choices. Either an auto or pump with almost any kind of load will do the job of keeping you and yours safe.

Whatever you choose I hope you never have to fire it in anger.

Don P.

September 6, 2001, 06:24 PM
I just went through the same thing you are going through. After getting all the opinions and advice I could gather. I when to the gun shop and handled at least 15 guns and talked to the the good old boys that hang there.

After all that I bought a Winchester 1300 defender. I just liked the pump the best. The 1300 has a 7 round mag and this one had a fiber optic sight which might or might not help depending on what light is available :) Brownell's has a buttstock that is a combination stock and pistol grip that I have added to it and I think that is all I'm going to do to it.

Oh and I when with #4 buck instead of 00.

Now all I have to do is practice practice practice :D

Mark D
September 6, 2001, 06:41 PM
I have a Moss590 and an HK/Benelli M1super90 with tac light. The Mossberg stays in the safe at night because "double tap" isn't in it's vocabulary. You can't discern a double tap from a single shot with the HK/Benelli's. That, and the fact that they are controlable like that, sold me right away.

It might be overkill, but, I don't think that word applies when my wife and child are on the line.

Does a number on things like watermelons and pumpkins too.:D

Marko Kloos
September 6, 2001, 07:29 PM
I use a Mossberg 500 with 8-round tube,pistol grip and folding Butler Creek stock for HD. Pumps work fine, they're simple and rugged, but I certainly see the value of the semi-auto shotgun. I believe my next one will be an auto-chucker, possibly a Benelli M1.

I concur that 00 Buck is overkill for an apartment; No.6 or No.7 shot is less penetrative and just as effective at across-the-room distances.

September 6, 2001, 09:18 PM

I like the semi-auto shotguns, including for home defense purposes.

First, and this is my personal problem I admit, I could short stroke a single-shot. I've jammed up all sorts of pump-action shotguns. I've practiced and tried and tried to get my stroke down so that I'd have the confidence to rely upon it in a crisis, but to no avail. So I just gave up.

I've never had problems with semi-auto shotguns. They just go bangbang and I just smile.

As far as burglars listening to the "rackety-clack" sound of a pump action being racked, I suspect few (if any) burglars could tell the difference between the action-chambering sounds of a pump action shotgun, a semi-auto shotgun, a .45/9mm/.40 semi-auto pistol or my .22LR Buckmark. If they're gonna be scared off, any racking sound will do it. (I have this mental vision of a burglar listening to a rackety-rack sound and thinking, "Hmm, that only sounds like a 9mm, I think I'll stick around for a while") :D

So my thought is, if you like the semi-autos, go for it. Buy the one that fits you best along with several boxes of shells and relax.


September 6, 2001, 11:31 PM
I find it hard to believe that you could not find anything under the shotgun forum for home defense. This question crops up weekly.

My two cents? Either will work, so if you have your heart set on one or the other, get the one you want. I would go with the pump, for these reasons:

1. the pump is cheaper. Spend the extra money on ammo and needed goodies.

2. The pump is more reliable. Even the best autoloaders WILL CHOKE from time to time. Pumps can too, but not nearly as oten.

3. The pump has a simpler manual of arms. Pump. Shoot. Repeat as needed.

4. Is recoil more mild on the auto? Marginally. It is not worth the decrease in reliability and increase in price.

5. Are followup shots quicker with the auto? Slightly. This is also not worth the decrease in reliability and increase in cost. With a little training (which the difference can price can help finance) you will learn to use the dwell time between shots to rack the pump efficiently, and be ready to go by the time your sights return to the target.

6. Autos are ammo-sensitive and some can also be affected by weird stances and odd grips (read: defensive shooting), and by added on accessories. This is Not a Good Thing.

Pumps have more flexibility, reliability, and are cheaper. Get the pump.


September 7, 2001, 12:49 AM
I'm wondering how you practice with a shotgun: find a piece of land and set up a couple watermelons? Can you shoot shotguns at a range? Just curious...

September 7, 2001, 01:49 AM
I have discussed home defense in the Shotgun forum a few times. For those that approve the use of a shotgun for such, they seem to lean toward a semi. Personally, I feel more comfortable with a pump. I like being able to make the warning sound as I chamber a round. I also like having to pause between shots to load another into the chamber. Another pro of a pump gun is that you can clear a round that didn't go boom without taking your hand away from the trigger. For us right handed people, clearing a "dud" from the chamber on a semi (shotgun or rifle) means taking your right hand away from the trigger and using it to pop the chamber open. On a pump, your right hand stays put and so does your left. The left should already be on the pump.

Hotboy -
I practice on BLM land and use jackrabbits for targets. :D

Justin Moore
September 7, 2001, 02:14 AM
For anyone who thinks you can't shoot a pump gun FAST, you need to watch Tom Knapp with his Benelli Nova. That guy ROCKS :D

Speaking of the Nova, I'm thinking about getting one. Price looks right too :)

Jeff, CA
September 7, 2001, 09:35 AM
For us right handed people, clearing a "dud" from the chamber on a semi (shotgun or rifle) means taking your right hand away from the trigger and using it to pop the chamber open.

Try reaching up underneath the gun with your left hand and racking the action while holding the gun against your shoulder with the right hand. The operating handle goes in the first crook of your index finger.

Spoken like a true lefty. :D

September 7, 2001, 11:01 AM
I have a cheap tape recorder with the sound of a shotgun racking.
Whenever, I hear a bad guy. I play the sound. They all run away.
This way, I save on shotgun lessons, shells, the gun itself, cleaning supplies.


September 7, 2001, 11:54 AM

There are several indoor ranges near me that train LEO that are open to the public and they will let you practice with a shotgun.

Me, I just go out to a field and blow the hell out of milk cartons :D

Long Path
September 7, 2001, 01:59 PM
I'm gonna move this one to shotgun forum in just a second...

But first--

Mike, I disagree that a pump has a simpler manual of arms. Pumps have slide releases, have to be pumped after each shot, have to be pumped correctly...

Autos simply need to be loaded and shot. To shoot: pull the trigger. Bang. Pull it again. Bang.

To those who say that pumps are more reliable, I'll concede that they used to be, back in the old days of non-perfected auto systems and paper shells. But with good ammo and a properly-working modern auto, I daresay that an auto is FAR more reliable than a pump.

Ever short-shucked a pump? I have. Embarrassing as hell at the range. Deadly in a gunfight. You know when short-shucking occurs? When you get really excited. I know a cop on this very board who did this when approaching an SUV full of angry gang-bangers. He said he realized what he had done, and was scared to death they would call his bluff.

And, having shot a couple of shotgun tactical matches, I can tell you that I've seen some well-practiced REALLY FAST pump-shooters... who are just about as fast as the only moderately-practiced auto shooters. But they can't touch the comparably-experienced auto shooters.

Spend a little more, and get something like a Benelli auto or an 1100.

(But if you can only afford an 870, practice!)


Dave McC
September 7, 2001, 02:15 PM
This gets chewed around again about every full moon or so.

Either a pump or auto will do fine. I prefer a pump, been shooting 870s since not long after the Korean War. Had several Gov't agencies pay and train me to shoot them also.

Pumps are slightly more reliable than the best autos, tho the gap is narrowing.

And, while I did stop an prison escape attempt by racking a round(Md House of Correction, 1980 or so), I wouldn't depend on the sound to scare off a perp with a hearing loss or just plain too wacked out to care.

The biggest factor in effectiveness is not whether it's a pump or autoi, it's the operator, period. Buy lots of ammo, shoot it up, repeat until that shotgun feels like a body part. Then, it'll little matter if it's a manual or a self loader.

September 7, 2001, 02:28 PM
I have a 870 Marine Mag. and a Beretta 1201fp -both shoot reliably. Decided to go with the semi-auto because I've used both enough for me trust in the semi's action. My Beretta (Benelli clone) shoots faster, is lighter in weight, less felt recoil and has night sights as well.

I have gotten away from the "rack the slide" philosphy because it is not my intent to notify the BG(s) what I have or where I am. I don't declare that I'm carrying a pistol and never would brandish it unless I'm going to shoot, same goes with my shotgun in home defense.

You should use whatever you feel most comfortable in protecting your life, family and property with.

September 7, 2001, 03:06 PM

A 12 gauge pump or auto will be equal in stopping power. Further, in trained hands followup shots are equally fast from both actions for all intensive purposes.

One point to think about is how you maintain your firearms. If you clean and lubricate them religiously then a gas operated auto (e.g., 11-87, 1100, etc.) will be a good choice and deliver much softer recoil. If not, you risk a deadly malfunction that could cost you your life.

If money is an issue, pump guns cost less.

Recoil operated semi-automatics (e.g., Beretta, Benelli, etc.) cycle noticeably faster than the gas operated autos. They cycle at roughly the same speed of a recoil operated semi-auto pistol like a 1911. In fact, I would venture to suggest you fire a Benelli before buying any other shotgun as I definitely wanted it on my side once I finished running 150 rounds of assorted shells through it.

To me, the two most important and overlooked factors in choosing the home defense shotgun are how it will be employed and how the action might effect that.

Most of us lock the bedroom door, crouch down behind the bed or hard cover, and point the shotgun at the door. All you have to do is try this once to see how difficult it would be to cycle a pump shotgun. Also, if someone does break through the bedroom door it will be at extremely close range and mostly likely will be multiple assailants. The ability to put the maximum number of well aimed shots in the air in the shortest amount of time becomes very attractive when you consider this.

Yes, you might go through the house checking a sound with the shotgun. In these scenarios the difference between the pump and the auto is not as pronounced; however, the more desperate scenario I described above is probably the most common employment of a home defense shotgun.

For myself, I tested several shotguns and narrowed it down to a highly customized Remington 1100, Remington 870, Winchester 1300 Defender, and a Benelli Super 90. As I write this my Benelli sits proped against the wall while the other three are unloaded in the safe.

Always remember, we buy weapons for the worst case scenarios. The above bedroom scenario is the worst home defense one I can imagine. I know the Benelli can handle it as long as I do my part, and that helps me sleep better at night.

Good shooting.

- Anthony

P.S. Get a copy of Massad Ayoob's Stressfire II. It is one of my favorite shotgun books and it profiles a wide range of weapons, modifications, tactics, ammunition, and terminal ballistics. You'll learn everything you need to know.

September 7, 2001, 03:40 PM
I go with my Ithaca M-87 M&P 8-rnd 12 Ga.
Lest we forget, practice, practice, practice.
Recoil?.........Hmmm, I'll get back to you on that.


Johnny Guest
September 7, 2001, 03:50 PM
My vote goes to the autoloader.

I'm a little surprised that no one has mentioned the possibility of needing to use the shotgun one-handed. In earlier generations, this was a prime consideration for using a sawed-off double barrel. (Not to mention it being shorter than the repeating shotgun.) And, if you like old photographs of Rangers and other lawmen, as I do, look closely at those taken after, say, 1918 or so--Most of 'em liked to carry rifles, true. But when there was a shotgun to be seen, it was usually a short barrelled Remington Model 11 or Browning Auto-5. And, yes, I'm aware of the foibles of the long-recoil action, but the photographic evidence is there.

Since the early '70s, my personal "bad times" shotgun has been a Remington 1100. A lot still use 'em. I've heard of various problems with the 11-87, but have no personal experience with 'em.

Opening doors, use of a radio or cell phone, keeping non-combatants restrained, and other scenarios, tend to indicate that a one-handable shotgun might be a good thing.

Not trying to talk anyone out of their favorite slide-action, into which they've put lotsa housr of practice. Just one more consideration.


September 8, 2001, 10:12 AM
Neither the pump or auto, but instead a REVOLVER!
Five 410 shotgun rounds! Or maybe 410's alternating with 45Long Colts

September 8, 2001, 10:43 AM
Pump or self-loader? Yes. My personal preference is the self-loading shotgun because of reliability and injured operator drills. An HK with a light.

Whichever one you chose, train with it. Several schools offer excellent instruction.

BTW, don't go around racking your weapon. You see, sound is a target identifier. BGs and federal agents are not bound by the same rules of engagement as GGs. If you go racking your slide like in those silly Hollywood movies, you have just told Mr. BG where you are. BGs are not always stupid and can and will Iraqi off-hand right through the dry wall. Call for the mall ninja, hit your remote controlled lights instead and get small.

September 8, 2001, 08:11 PM
My Benelli is easily TWICE as fast as any 870 pump. In the defensive shotgun classes I took, it was not even close. Anyone who says a pump is as fast as a Benelli does not know what they are talking about.

Another key thing. I saw so many short shucks of pump guns it was staggering. People tried to go too fast or they got nervous. Even the cops in the class were not immune. You have to plan on the fact that in a deadly situation you will not be at the top of your performance ability.

I sold my 870 for a Benelli M1S90. I would not feel unarmed with a pump gun. However, the Benelli is so far superior it boggles my mind there is even a comparison.

Buy a Benelli if your life is worth the extra $600. If it is not, buy the pump.

September 8, 2001, 11:13 PM
I must be the only human being to NEVER have short-shucked a pump gun. I have seen it done, but it invariably happened to the guys who shoot the shotgun annually. :rolleyes:

As I stated on a previous thread, our cruiser-ready config is empty gun, pull trigger on empty chamber, load 4 (now 6), store and go. It means the action is ready to cycle w/o slide release. This has its own problems, but it eliminates the need to hit the little lever.

Once again, either will serve, but I prefer a pump. JMO. YMMV. ETC. ;)


Chris Pinkleton
September 8, 2001, 11:47 PM
I have no experience at my command to guide your decision on way or the other BUT I must agree with all the others who have pointed out the fallacy of "the imitidating sound of the pump will make an intruder wet his pants and send him running for the hills."

A very small number of BGs are killed by home owners each year -- most crooks are bright enough to commit B&E only on empty houses. Any intruder into your home while you are there is most likely crazed, highly motivated(e.g. revenge) or both. They will likely be armed, and the only sound that MIGHT scare them is the blast of your first shot.

I have seen the "intimidating pump" demonstation at two gun shops now, and I had to try hard not to roll my eyes.

September 9, 2001, 11:23 AM
C.P., gun shop commandos!!! Of course, that's where that silly "rack the silde to scare", or, as I refer to it "rack the slide to show them where to shoot" comes from. Hollywood must have some blame as well. It seems I cannot watch a movie without some play actor holding the gun sideways or constantly racking the slide of a slide-action weapon.

I wonder if these same gun shop commandos advise people to stand in their lit bedroom doorways "as intimidation." Remember, incoming fire has the right of way. Get small.

September 9, 2001, 02:22 PM

That distinctive sound translates to "OH, ****" no matter where you are or who you're trying to scare out/off of your property.

Tim W.

September 9, 2001, 04:24 PM
Tim, now that you've identified yourself by racking the slide who sez the BG will run, but instead Iraqi off-hands into where you are? The BG doesn't have to be good, just lucky. Get small.

Sound is a target indicator, just like standing in front of the window or door with the lights on. E.g., Phoenix Dreaded Demons of Darkness were called out to a meth-laden EDP ranting and raving and waving a pistol around. They insert into the house in a "tactical manner" (i.e. they are wearing black) except someone racks the action on their cutdown slide-action weapon. BG hears it and points his M9 at the wall and Iraqis through it. Talk about bullet funnels!

If you want to scare them, show them a picture of Janet Reno. Me, I don't like noise as it can get you seriously killed, or worse. If you want to make noise, how about "drop the weapon now!" as you cover them with your light?

I think this stuff comes from gun store clerks who want to seem ominous or have seen too many movies. I'm always reminded of my uncle talking about the PFs in Vietnam--"Bullet no kill, sound kill."

Christopher II
September 9, 2001, 11:34 PM
I'd go with the auto.

My defense plan (for my old house) involved proning out near the top of the staircase so as to establish a choke point. It's a lot eaiser to fire an auto from prone. This goes for most other unusual shooting positions as well.

Autoloaders are also far eaiser to manipulate under pressure, in low light, etc.

Maybe you know someone who has both? Why not take a pump gun and an auto to the range and try them both out...

- Chris

September 10, 2001, 11:52 AM
Well, I think your indecision can be easily answered by one gun. Get a Benelli M3SuperDuper90. If you don't like one particular action, just flip the ring and go to the other. (Franchi also made pump/autos but no longer import them.)