View Full Version : Why shouild I keep my shotgun ?

November 14, 2001, 04:16 PM
My question basically comes down to: When is a 12ga shotgun better than a (semi-auto) AK-47 for home defense, when I am not concerned about over-penetration ?

The first firearm I bought was a Mossberg 590 12ga shotgun which I purchased for home defense. The last firearm I bought was an SLR95 (http://www.arsenal-bg.com/defense_police/self_loading_rifles/7-62slr.htm) (semi-auto AK-47). The shotgun holds 8+1 rounds, the AK-47 has 30 round detachable magazines, of which I have a few, and could stick a couple in pockets or something.

I think that it is unlikely that I will ever need to point a gun at someone. So this is a hobby of prepairing for unlikely and unpleasant circumstances while trying to avoid them. In persuit of this hobby, I was discussing interactions between 12ga shotguns, and soft body armor - so that I might better prepair for the even less likely possibility of being attacked by a criminal wearing body armor.

I then read up on a couple related threads in this forum. It seems that 12ga buckshot, and 12ga slugs are almost completely ineffective against soft body armor (will not penetrate). I am not sure how sabot would do, but I have yet to find sabot that are pointy (not designed to deform horribly on impact).

The solution to the problem of being attacked by someone wearing body armor seems to be a rifle round - and for indoor close quarters use, it would be preferabe to have something short. And at least semi-auto would be good. I have one of these, in the form of an AK-47.

So an AK-47 is better than a 12ga shotgun because it will penetrate soft body armor, and a 12ga will not. And at typical self defense ranges of 7 yards or less, I believe I can shoot my AK-47 accurately enough to make every shot lethal (the SLR95 does about 3.5MOA). And because of the differences in recoil, I expect I could put 2 rounds in each target with my AK-47 in the time it would take me to put one round in each target with my shotgun. And at 2 rounds per target with the AK-47, and one round per target with the shotgun, I can still hit about twice as many targets with the AK-47 before swapping magazines.

I recognize that if I can make an accurate shot with an AK-47, I can probably hit important exposed soft tissue with my shotgun - say neck, groin, or arm pits.

Also, I recognize that if over-penetration is a primary concern, the shotgun wins over the AK-47 easily. But I, personally, am more concerned with improbable problem of lack of penetration than I am with the improbable problem of over-penetration harming someone else accidentally.

So.. in what ways is a shotgun better than an AK-47 for home defense, when I am not concerned about over-penetration ?

Oleg Volk
November 14, 2001, 04:31 PM
My pick was an M1 carbine because it points faster than an AK and can be fired one-handed if necessary. Prior to that, I did keep an AK because it had less kick, better penetration, larger mag capacity...and seemed effective enough with soft points vs. 20ga slugs/buck. Russian SP bullets fragment explosively and should do well on humans...load a few on top of the mag and hardball below.

The only pluses to 12ga are the overwhelming lethality (not sure if it is enough of an improvement of .30 to put up with the problems) and more instinctive pointing. Problems: nasty recoil (590 is snappy even with small shot, much less buck), slower reloading from shot to shot and from empty to full mag.

AK doesn't point as well for me but it may be lack of practice. M1 carbine, shorty Garand do point well and I'd pick them over a 12ga. Recoil is a problem because it discourages regular practice.

November 14, 2001, 04:36 PM
I am a newbie. However, I'm going to add my two cents anyway.

I think as far as body armor is concerned the good thing about the shotgun shot is that it spreads. So if you point at the head or legs you have a much better chance of hitting some part of the head or legs than with the AK-47.

November 14, 2001, 04:50 PM
Here is my problem with your argument. If someone is prepared enough to wear body armor into your house they could probably get in without you ever noticing. Unless you live in a vault which is impenetrable without you knowing, then stopping power should be the main concern. Even if someone is wearing body armor and you shoot then with a slug at 7 yards they will be on their ass. Then you can shoot them in the head while they are down. I would also consider what type of person is more likely to enter your house. Someone on drugs is very likely to be the culprit. This is another case where you want pure stopping power. The shotgun is by far the best defense for the home. I woudl rather be sure that the first round will do the trick than have 29 sitting in the mag when I am dead on the floor.

November 14, 2001, 05:04 PM
Shotgun shot "spreading" inside the confines of an average dwelling is a myth. Even with cylinder choke the size of the pattern will be very small. Cylinder bore spreds out to optimum at 20 yards, and this is only about a 30" diameter pattern.

Next time you go to a trap range look at the back of the trap house, severa shooters will have hit the house from the 16 yard line and the patterns will be verry small. Very few homes have a clear shot that is more than 16 yards.

Most HD situations the shot charge will be almost a solid mass hitting the perp, but making a big mess that is difficult for the medics to clean up.

Randy Samos
November 14, 2001, 05:19 PM
Agreed. Spread (actually, lack of spread) at the typical in home distances would be an issue. At least, if you live in a "normal" sized home. Of course, when I buy that empty bowling ally and convert it into my new abode, then it's going to be exclusivly 12ga 00 for this citizen.

I like a 20ga with slugs. If my wife has to use it, then she might not be too shaken to take a 2nd shot (if needed) like she may with a 12. I'm guessing that at 10-15 feet (a LONG shot in my house) that a 20ga slug will at least slow down any perp, body armor or not. There's a lot to be said for mass in motion.

All that said, I've not seen what an AK can do at 10 feet to the chest of a kevlar clad slimbag. I do believe though, that my very much non shooting wife will be less confused and/or "put off" by a pump of any size rather than a combat tool.

November 14, 2001, 05:26 PM
1. In some jurisdictions, one cannot get a semi-auto battle rifle due to restrictive gun laws. Shotguns are less regulated and therefore easier to obtain.

2. For those who are not as financially well-off, a decent pump action shotgun is much cheaper than a semi-auto battle rifle.

3. Looks better in court. Yes I know the law of self defense states that if you are legally justified in the use of lethal force it doesn't matter whether you use a pillow or a small tactical nuke to get your target (assuming no collateral damage) but it's gonna look a lot nicer to be using a nice "hunting-style" gun like a shotgun over an AK. This is a specious premise but hey that's what I get paid to do (anticipate specious arguments).


November 14, 2001, 05:52 PM
That AK will zip through most any body armor----If somebody is going to be that prepared to break into your home isn't likely.

Randy Samos
November 14, 2001, 05:59 PM
rugerfreak said:
That AK will zip through most any body armor

I kind of suspected that.

rugerfreak said:
If somebody is going to be that prepared to break into your home isn't likely.

Probably correct, imho. I only mentiond body armor myself, as it was brought up earlier in this thread. Actually, around this neck of the woods (literally), I'm more likely to see a teen that needs spanking in my house than a crazed/violent criminal. At least today.

Dave McC
November 14, 2001, 08:15 PM
A coupla things....

First, the shotgun dumps a huge amount a energy into a target. Kevlar will stop the load, but the energy still gets dumped. Few folks can function well after taking a hit in the armor. They survive, if no followups. BTW, I know a few vets with full use of their body and scars from 7.62 Russian. I've known exactly 2 survivors of shotgun wounds, and neither was good for much. IOW, the shotgun packs more certainty of stopping someone right now.

Second, firing a shotgun indoors may leave you with some shreds of hearing. Rifle rounds do not leave much, if any.

Third,as was mentioned earlier,some jurisdictions have more or less banned battle rifles for the citizens. And considering that the average US jury has zero folks on it who have better ideas on guns than Rosie O,a shotgun might seem less bloodthirsty than an FN-FAL, Kalishkinof, or AR.

Fourth, many of us on limited budgets have more use for a shotgun, other than HD. My HD gun makes a fairtomiddlin' slug gun for deer. Using an AK for hutning means toting a 9 lb plus hunk of steel through the boonies. Been there, done that, tho it was a worked over SKS. Versatility has always been an attribute of the modern shotgun.

And finally, HD needs and resources vary greatly from situation to situation. Everyone NEEDS to carefully evaluate what will work best for them and then use the best tool.

If you're more comfortable with a rifle than a shotgun, use the rifle. The confidence factor alone is a good thing...

November 15, 2001, 12:20 AM
Why should I keep my shotgun?

1. Never sell guns

2. If it is a praise the lord and pass the ammunition situation you may need to hand that SG over to your wife or girl friend while you are manning the AK.

3. I have always loved those "tests" of SG slugs againt soft body armor.

*I will pay money to see any man get center punched by a 12 ga slug at 7 - 15 yards and then get moving again in under 3 seconds. Trauma plate? Sure - if you really think it will help. LOL!!!

November 15, 2001, 12:57 AM
i think the bottom line here is that there is absolutely no better weapon for HD than the shotgun (aside from a moat and a fire-breathing dragon). it has all of the attributes of a weapon you would want.

btw if someone breaks into your house with body armor on, stick you head between your legs and kiss your @ss goodbye, because they are probably packing some serious heat as well. if someone has planned thoroughly enough to come w/armor then they have probably brought a few of their associates along.

now with that said, if you want to get rid of the shotgun then sell it. at least you have thought your situation out. most people don't think situations through enough.


November 15, 2001, 01:09 AM
Why shouild I keep my shotgun ?

You shouldn't. You DEFINITELY should not.

Give it to me and I'll see that it is properly disposed of.


I'm not persuaded by "a bad guy will" arugments. BGs are like real people - they sometimes do the unexpected. Therefore, it is wise to prepare for the unexepected. Assuming that any BG who has body armor will certainly have heavy artillery and buddies is not preparing for the unexpected, though it may qualify as preparing for the worst.

November 15, 2001, 12:23 PM
Hey! No fair, Erick! I might have had a deal going!


November 17, 2001, 01:45 AM
#1 reason to use a shotgun vs. a rifle for home defense :

most break-ins are at night or the wee hours of morning ie. between 12 midnight and 4 am. most home owners are sleeping at this time swo if wakened by an intruder you are apt to be groggy from sleep thus making a well aimed rifle shot is going to be difficult. just pointing the shotgun is easy as pie. also I've seen men shot with an AK stay on their feet even after 2-3 rounds entered their body, but every man I've seen hit with shot was off their feet in seconds!!!

Knock em down with the first one to the chest or legs then when on the floor go for the head if necessary

November 17, 2001, 07:33 AM
Let's put it real simple.

Do you like it ?

If you do, then keep it.

If you don't then all the reasons in the world don't matter.

November 17, 2001, 04:22 PM
Erick, don't you read gun mags? No magic wands? Oh, man, next you'll tell me I have to train. Geez.

Who the heck is shooting rifles inside their homes?!?! I hope none of my neighbors are doing this or plan to.

Come one, guys. Rifle rounds (even short Russian) zip through drywall and always seek out stationwagons full of kids. While buckshot will go through walls or a sofa, it will be slowed once it gets outside your home.

If you do shoot even a .223 off inside little Johnny's bedroom, do not expect to be good for anything for a while. See Mattix.

The advantage in the shotgun lies in its limited range and tremendous power inside that range. If you have concerned with body-armoured BGs staging a Hollywood type attack on your ranch, you should: 1. leave, 2. get an M14 and hearing protection (you should also tell the neighbors to sleep inside their gun safes).

November 17, 2001, 05:16 PM
just so you know.....a 30 caliber bullet has a " pattern" of about 3 tenths of an inch at 10 feet from the end of the barrel. A 20 gauge shotshell (#4 shot) has a "pattern" of approx 4.3 inches at the same distance.

now lets do the math.....human body average width is , oh, say 24 inches. which do you think will be easier to hit a target 24" wide? 3/10 " or 4.3"????

Jody Hudson
November 17, 2001, 05:30 PM
Big Animal,

Please check for yourself on that spread of shot for the shotgun. According to my tests, the shot stays in the shot cup for about 20-25 feet, depending on the load. Thus, at 25' all that I've tried are more in the one inch area. Check it out. After that however the shot cup sheds from around the shot and it starts to expand based on slightly different aerodynamics of each pellet and as a result of the "wind" blown from each pellet against each other pellet.

My home is not large. There is no place in my home where the shot cup will shed before contact with the target.

Just a thought NOT a sermon.

November 17, 2001, 11:53 PM
Ditto what RAE said.

My HD longarm for now is an SLR 100. It would be keen to have a Benelli, 870, Bushmaster bullpup or shorty, an MP5SD, AUG. Yadda yadda. For the time being, I'm going to stick with the AK because I like it. It might be replaced in the future but it won't be sold.

Unless it's a real POS, why waste the time and $ you have put into familiarizing yourself with its operation. Let your arsenal GROW!

November 17, 2001, 11:58 PM
Piggy backing on to the same "Just a thought NOT a sermon" :

KSFreeman - Come one, guys. Rifle rounds (even short Russian) zip through drywall and always seek out stationwagons full of kids. While buckshot will go through walls or a sofa, it will be slowed once it gets outside your home.

I am pretty sure he was speaking in jest. However, soft point 5.56 DOES have less penitration than most handgun rounds and certainly less than an SG round.

November 18, 2001, 05:23 AM
Most residental break-ins actually occur during daylight hours when the occupants are not anticipated to be home. That being said, most residential break-ins that involve confrontations do occur at night.

At 20 feet, that 20 gauge #4 shotshell will expand it's pattern even more and the shot will penetrate perhaps 6". The 7.62x39mm rifle bullet (in HP configuration) will certainly fare much better at striking vitals when fired COM.

Both rifles and shotguns have to be aimed to gain effective hits. It is unlikely that "pointing" a shotgun in the general direction of the threat when firing will be any more effective than aiming and firing a rifle, slumber roused or not, at the ranges described. A "hit" that involved a 20 gauge #4 shell using the pattern data described versus a .30 caliber miss would be quite marginal and likely ineffective (except for maybe a head shot - an even lesser likelihood considering our 'sleepy' candidate).

Incidentally, my preferred 12 gauge load is Remington #4 shot loaded as the first two rounds, followed by 01 buckshot, 12 pellet for HD. Out of either of my 22" bbl 870's, the pattern does not exceed 1" at 10 feet. At 20', it isn't much more than that. I've switched the #4 shot for #6 shot lowbrass due to my female companion possible need to use the shotgun in my absence, but patterns are quite similar with either shell. Each shotgun patterns differently.

Always shoot to stop the attack. Shooting to wound is not advisable. Neither is shooting the perpetrator on the ground unless they continue to pose a threat.

My advice is to have both type firearms handy if there is reasonable cause for alarm. If it is either/or we are discussing, I would take the shotgun for HD.

November 20, 2001, 11:18 PM
I was just browsing through the older threads and would like to add to this one. In Idaho, I took a "use of deadly force" class taught by the Ada county sheriff for CCW permit applicants. One of the things they mentioned is that you may have to be prepared to get down on a knee and shoot a criminal up through the head if you're in an area with a lot of people around. Legally, they said, you're responsible for that bullet until it stops. With this in mind, a rifle bullet has a much more penetration and longer range than a shotgun charge. Even in a home invasion type situtation, you still have to know your target and what's behind it. It's a good idea to walk your house and think about what kind of weapons and tactics are suitable for the different floors/rooms/areas of your house. I like my shotgun, I like my rifle. I feel comfortable aiming and firing with both. That said, if I can get off a follow-up shot to take out a clay pigeon, I can pump fast enough to follow a body shot with a head shot. Typically body armor doesn't cover the face. :)

November 21, 2001, 04:14 PM
I really appreciate all the insightful responces. I have decided that my shotgun will continue to remain by my bed, not replaced by my AK. From what I read in this thread, a person, even wearing body armor, sounds a lot more likely to go down quick from buckshot than 7.62x39. A few people have commented that you need to be less accurate with a shotgun, and a few others have quickly pointed out that shot does not spread as much as some think at likely HD ranges. I think you need to be less accurate with a shotgun, not because shot spreads, but because of the extensive trauma it introduces. If you fire an AK in the general direction of a person's chest, and it happens to pierce their left lung, they are still going to be fully capable of emptying a magazine at you. If you make the same shot with 00 buck, I believe the person will be significantly less enthusiastic with the left side of their ribcage blown all over the far wall. And even if the guy is wearing armor, I expect the extensive blunt force of the shotgun will have, at the very least, a dramatic effect on his balance. And then there's close range head shots.

Randy: I think if your wife can handle a shotgun, she could handle an AK. They

are both very simple in operation: flick off the safety, point, pull trigger.
And an AK you don't have to pump. Not to mention what a little practice can do.

Also, I believe most will agree that a shotgun points more naturally / can be aimed more quickly than an AK.

Oh, and I do like my shotgun, very much. Beautiful brute force.

Dave McC
November 21, 2001, 05:25 PM
Maybe there's way too many variables to say whether a shotgun is better, an AK is better, an AR is better, or a baseball bat is. Under some circumtances, all of the above and more can be best.

A shotgun's a great GP weapon. For HD it's usually a very good choice, but not universally best. IMO, the shooter's the biggest and most important variable....

November 22, 2001, 12:36 AM
As mentioned earlier, I wouldn't underestimate the civil-suit repercussions of a scumbag lawyer holding up your AK ("Osama's favorite") in front of a jury versus holding up "Grampa's bird gun"...if indeed, it goes that far.

Unless you live near Ted Kazinski's (sp?) cabin, I don't see where you can NOT be concerned about overpenetration...unless of course you can catch the intruder between your muzzle and your mother-in-law (in which case forget the AK, pick up the .300 Magnum)...


November 25, 2001, 12:12 AM
If someone is in your house at arms reach, the name of the game is putting them down FAST. Let the word FAST burn into your soul. If he lives for one second after you shoot him, he lives long enough to kill you before you die. The shotgun puts people down faster than ANY other weapon. Period. It is not perfect. But, it is the best. If he has armor, shoot him in the head. AKs and ARs handle better and have more capacity. But, they do not put people down as FAST.

Every defensive scenario has one thing that is the most important. Home defense is FAST incapacitation. In war on the open battlefield, this is not as important. Here, it is.

November 29, 2001, 04:44 PM
Shotgun....You bet, I'd rely on my shotgun as the altimate home defence weapon. Infact maybe the most deadly firearm at close range...If you dont want that ole mossberg 590....I'll take it..I have a moss.590 and love it...

December 2, 2001, 02:57 AM
9 pellet 00 buckshot had a 8" pattern at 10 yards. That was a lot wider than I expected given what I read in this thread about shot not spreading much. Even at 5 yards, that comes out to a 4" spread. (20" 12ga)

What shocked me more was the #8 shot that I got 60 rounds of because it was the cheapest at the shop ($3 per 20). The first shot I fired, at maybe 5-7 yards, I pulled the target back, noticing the one big hole, maybe 1" in diameter. From what I'd read here, that's about what I expected it to do. One big hole. Then I noticed the entire (8.5"x11") target was completely covered with tiny holes. Looking at the cardboard backer, I noticed the pattern was maybe 2 feed wide. Definately at least a foot and a half.

I am ashamed to say that was the first day I ever fired shot out of my shotgun. It was the first gun I got, and I've spent a good bit of time at various ranges. I fired maybe half a dozen slugs through it one day I went to an ourdoor range that didn't allow multiple projectile ammunition. But I never got around to beginning to put a good number of rounds through the thing until I looked for the cheapest 12ga ammo I could find. I'm not sure off the top of my head what Remington Express 12 pellet 12ga 00 buckshot costs, but it was way too close to a buck a round for my taste in target ammo prices.

So that $3 on a 20 round box of #8 12ga shot was probably some of the best $3 I've spent. Still have a couple more boxes, and I'm sure it won't be the last. And it was FUN. Blew a target through the cardboard backer. :D

I was also concerned about hitting other people's targets in lanes next to me, given the amount of spread I noticed. But they were friendly, and I said if they noticed me hitting their targets at all, let me know, and I checked later, and there were no #8 shot holes in their backers. So I'll definately be doing this again.

Oh, I did fire a couple rounds of the 00 buckshot I keep in my shotgun. It kicked, but was definately manageable.

So I'd like to repeat what I'm sure has been said here many times: Take the thing to the range !!

Dave McC
December 2, 2001, 09:43 AM
Good job, Darxus. Those little holes way off from the big one are called flyers, they're not part of the pattern, tho are part of the load, naturally.

Your spreads seem a bit extreme. Check your muzzle for damage, and see if there's anything in the bbl(like rust) that might be opening them up.

December 2, 2001, 06:58 PM
Something not yet brought up - is that ammo capacity usable?

Although I'd agree to "more is better," in all actuality, how many times will you be able to fire if your "visitor" is only 20' away?

Most I've heard, within 20', a person can be on top of you in 1-1/2 seconds. You'll either stop him, or not & very doubtful 30 rounds will make any difference than would 5.

Even with multiple intruders, I don't see a prolonged gunfight as very realistic.

I recall an old statistic re average LEO engagements - 1.5 shots at under 7' (?).

Sure. Not a HD scenario, but something to consider.

BTW, give me an 870 12 - or 20

December 3, 2001, 09:04 PM
The 9 pellet target has 9 holes, but one appears to be from the cup. I found the target I shot with 12 pellet 00 buck - it has 13 holes, including one from the cup. The holes from the pellets are in a group just under 5" - at 10 yards. This shotgun is in good shape. It's had no more than 30 rounds through it total, I've had it for about a year, and I think I take good care of it. Certainly no rust. I did just go look down the barrel, and it looked fine.

Jody Hudson
December 4, 2001, 12:37 AM
Your pattern with the buck shot is far wider than what I've gotten. Is your barell rifled by chance?

December 5, 2001, 05:11 AM

Nope. Mossberg 590 (specifically a #50665) - 20" smoothbore, no choke.

December 5, 2001, 03:48 PM
OK, this discussion has affected me in the wrong way so feel free to slap me around if I get a little to out of line. First off I can't imagine a close quarters HD situation where my trusty 500 loaded up with 00 bucks wouldn't be suffice. Second, If I lived in a state where there was even a remote possibility that I might have to face a jury after killing a BG who broke into my house wearing body armor, I'd move ASAP. And another thing, I realize that a 12guage or an AK fired indoors has got to hurt those sunglasses holders, but do you really think that, after being awaken by a BG breakin in, you are going to think of ear protection? Ok, sorry. Hey I said it affected me in a weird way! So here's the solution. Go out and get one of those fruity little 12ga/.308 over under numbers. When the body armor wearin BG from hell breaks in use the 12ga first to get his attention then take aim with the .308. If that doesn't do the trick, give him both barrels. If that doesn't work then lay down the gun and call him SIR! Seriously though, personally I'd go with the SG. However, I would walk though the house in my undies(uh sorry about the visual) with both weapons to see which I could better maneuver with in the close confines of mi casa. Sorry guys, I'll get back in my hole now.

Take care,

Dave McC
December 6, 2001, 06:33 AM
Marc, you're right on the money about a walk through. Bet most of the folks reading this have never done one.