The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Dave McCracken Memorial Shotgun Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 9, 2012, 06:28 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: April 9, 2012
Posts: 2
new owner - next steps?

Hi everyone

I am a new owner of my very first gun, an 870 Express. My reason for getting it is HD. My home was broken into a couple weeks ago, while my daughter & I were there sleeping. I dont play the victim role very an alarm, BIG dog, self defense class, and a shotgun later...and I'm finally sleeping better at night.

First, thank you for this site - WOW, lots of useful info and I've done a lot of reading already. I broke it in this last weekend at a range... and feel comfortable with it (so does my daughter). I want to add a rear sight asap. A saddle in time. I'll go to the range with my daughter as often as possible...lots of cool people more than willing to help/teach.

Any other tips I should know? Other resources I can check out? I'm also thinking about a second one...hand gun?
tigress73 is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 06:38 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: March 13, 2012
Location: Oconomowoc, WI
Posts: 336
One thing you may want to research for yourself is what type of shells you will want to use. My recommendation would be #4 buck out of your shotgun. I have done my own research and have found these rounds to still be devistating while having the least colateral damage, such as penatration. It would do you no good if you shot a bg and the shot went through the walls into your daughters room. Like I said though, research it for yourself and give yourself no doubts.

Congradulations on taking the extra steps to protect you, and your family. Also, glad to hear you two were unharmed.
themalicious0ne is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 07:39 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: July 1, 2001
Posts: 3,736
Now, you need to walk around your home while considering who would be where at night and determine where your free fire zones are. Also, you need to consider how you will get a round off in a bad direction. . .i.e. shooting up to avoid contact with family members.

After that, you need to get a tactical light on this thing which you can use to illum/blind your target. It will give you a blinding advantage and tell you who you are shooting.
Nathan is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 09:13 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: February 21, 2012
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 763
Now, you need to walk around your home while considering who would be where at night and determine where your free fire zones are. Also, you need to consider how you will get a round off in a bad direction. . .i.e. shooting up to avoid contact with family members.

After that, you need to get a tactical light on this thing which you can use to illum/blind your target. It will give you a blinding advantage and tell you who you are shooting.
Ummm no. I'm no expert but I've had experts tell me that its best NOT to work on room clearing like that. If your bedroom and your daughter's bedroom are close together (most houses group the bedrooms together) you can work on just defending one room - most likely your daughter's room since you can walk go to her room with the weapon.

Things to focus on - keeping the shotgun pointed down whatever access point there is that can be used to get to the bedrooms (ie. the hallway). Afterwards STAY in your daughter's room and dial 911.

If you already have a big dog (which needs to be trained to be a guardian not all big dogs are great guardians - take mastiffs for example, the guarding and assertiveness have all but been bred out of them) your dog hopefully will have been enough to frighten the intruder away. Personally I like Pyrenees or other breeds that are naturally protective of their territory. Now IF your intruder has decided to shoot the dog then you've got problems.

As for the flashlight - I'm not against it but you'd better get a really bright one if you intend to blind someone with it. Otherwise it becomes a point of aim for an armed intruder. Personally I recommend night lights throughout the house (get the LED ones for the least energy usage) and some tritium night sights.

Room clearing means you're taking on the offensive. That could get you killed and your daughter... well you can only imagine what might happen to her once you're gone. Stay with her and protect her the best you can. Let the intruder come to you and that way YOU can have the element of surprise.
This is who we are, what we do.
Hansam is offline  
Old April 9, 2012, 09:53 PM   #5
Junior member
Join Date: June 23, 2009
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 2,149
Get some trigger time in. I am one that votes for holing up in defensive positon to await police and not trying to clear the house. I am a big advocate of having a formal defensive plan. In my house everyone immediately goes to the master BR. Why I take up a primary defensive postion with view of the main entry way and living room, my sun backs me up with my skeet gun from a secondary position inside the master br. My daughter or wife, whichever is first into the room, calls 911. Everyone has been told not to waste time grabbing their pets. My choice of ammo is Remikngton HD ULtra Home Defense BB. I back it up with Federal Personal Defense 00 buckshot with flight control. Then I have a box of slugs and a box of plain old 00 buck. I suggest that you teach your daughter how to shoot your 870. Then you have to determine hoe to keep your 870. Mine is what is called cruiser ready. The tube is loaded, but the chamber is empty, and the firing pin is down on the empty chamber so I can rack it without messing with the action lock. You have to decide if you want to keep the safety on or off.

Last edited by TheKlawMan; April 9, 2012 at 10:03 PM.
TheKlawMan is offline  
Old April 10, 2012, 12:35 PM   #6
Junior Member
Join Date: April 9, 2012
Posts: 2
thank you!

Thank you for all the great advice everyone!
tigress73 is offline  
Old April 10, 2012, 03:39 PM   #7
Dave McC
Staff In Memoriam
Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
Posts: 8,812
Tigress, welcome aboard and it's glad I am you and yours are OK.

A couple things...

First, if you're living in or close to central MD,I will be happy to walk you AND your daughter through a live session of Shotgun 101. If not, find a qualified instructor in your area and get some lessons. If possible, let that instructor be female.

Not all good shooters are good instructors, and if the truth be told, some guys get tripped up by their hormones when instructing females.

Second, having a shotgun does not make you a shotgunner any more than owning a Stratocaster makes you Clapton. Go shoot your shotgun lots.

When it's a body part rather than a tool, you're ready as you can be.

Third, a shotgun is just part of the picture. Harden your perimeter, reduce your vulnerability, make the price of getting inside too high to bother with.

Good luck,and if I can be of any help....
Dave McC is offline  
Old April 11, 2012, 12:06 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: February 21, 2006
Location: DFW Metromess
Posts: 562
First: Listen to what Dave McC has to say.

Second: I can't agree more with getting some professional instruction (and believe me Dave McC certainly qualifies), but if that won't work find someone local. I grew up around guns all my life. Have hunted since I was very young. However, I had no idea how unprepared I was for using a shotgun for defensive purposes before I took a shotgun course from a really experienced instructor.

You simply don't know what you don't know.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." --Helen Keller
"Do not cry havoc when you should but hunt with modest warrant." --William Shakespeare
Glock Certified Armorer
NRA Life Member
RoscoeC is offline  
Old April 11, 2012, 01:08 PM   #9
Lee Lapin
Senior Member
Join Date: September 7, 2004
Location: SE NC
Posts: 1,239
Wow, glad you both are OK. What a scary experience to go through! And I think your reaction to the incident is very healthy and completely appropriate, fwiw. And you're a long way from alone in reacting that way - see for just one example. Also see for handgun advice and basic information generally. Kathy is a mod here (pax) and her website is incredibly helpful.

Dave's suggestion to continue hardening your home against intrusion is a great one. Having a firearm or firearms is a necessary fallback, a "Plan B" if you will, in case your efforts to encourage criminals to 'de-select' your home for their attention fail. In case de-selection (clearing away hiding places provided by landscaping, appropriate lighting, especially motion controlled lighting, all doors and windows locked etc.) doesn't work, make your home sufficiently resistant to intrusion that criminals either give up and move on, or make enough noise in their attempt at entry and are sufficiently delayed that you have time to prepare to encounter them on your own terms.

Just owning a firearm is not enough, even if that firearm is a shotgun. In order for a gun to help, a person has to be capable and confident in using it under pressure. Pressure can make people do weird things sometimes. Dave says a shotgun should feel as familiar to the shooter as a body part, and IMHO that's pure gospel. I love shotguns, particularly 870s, and I've been shooting them for going on half a century now. Even so, Dave has probably dropped more shotgun shells than I've fired . Listen to him...

IMHO one of the most critical things with a defensive shotgun is gun fit to the shooter. You didn't say which 870 you have, and there are several models, including a Youth and a Junior model in 20 gauge that are tailor made for smaller shooters. If your shotgun doesn't fit properly, chances are the stock is too long. A lot of shotgun stocks are too long for a lot of shooters. But that can be fixed, either by replacing the existing stock with a shorter one, or by shortening the existing stock. So if your shotgun doesn't fit you properly, Job One is to make it fit.

You say you want to add a rear sight - actually, you're probably better off IMHO not complicating things with sights just yet. Shotguns are pointed as a rule, even when shooting at stationary or moving targets. Learn the basics of shotgunning first, and then, if it turns out you need sights, you can either add a set or purchase a spare barrel with factory rifle sights installed.

A good recoil pad can be a big help, too...

I'm another of those who is a strong believer in professional defensive shooting instruction. If you're close enough to get a session of Shotgun 101 from Dave, by all means do so. There are lots of people out there teaching these days, and good instruction will steepen the learning curve a lot. It'll actually save money in ammo costs and range fees in the long run as well. Take a look at for an introduction to one of the pros out there teaching today. My own favorite shotgun instructor is Louis Awerbuck at Yavapai (, Randy Cain is outstanding too (, so are several others with a national and international reputation, it depends on your geographic location who is close by or who will be training in your area. But any number of local folks are very capable instructors as well. The big thing is to find a teacher and get started training and practicing.

Some other general things I'd suggest you read/study: - the whole site is valuable, but this part is priceless. Crime is a process, not just an event. It's important to understand that fact, the better to foul up the process for the criminal. - shooting is a marital art too, though many folks don't make that connection. And there's a LOT more important stuff in this book than just the difference in what the local MacDojo ("Would you like fries with your black belt?") teaches and what really matters on the street. This book is IMHO critical reading for anyone who is serious about self defense. If you want a sample of the author's writing, see his blog at .

Take care and Stay Safe!
Mindset - Skillset - Toolset. In that order!

Attitude and skill will get you through times of no gear, better than gear will get you through times of no attitude and no skill.

Last edited by Lee Lapin; April 11, 2012 at 01:21 PM.
Lee Lapin is offline  
Old April 11, 2012, 01:48 PM   #10
the rifleer
Senior Member
Join Date: March 5, 2008
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 1,273
I think the main thing is shoot the snot out of it and make it very familiar to you. I cant begin to explain how irritated i get when people who claim to be "shooters" and cant explain how they maintain their weapon and even worse how bad of a shot they are. The shotgun is useless unless you can shoot it. Don't be afraid to take it apart and clean it. There is nothing that pops out and flings across the room, it all goes back together. Just be sure it function properly after disassembly.

Get out and shoot it. A lot. Learn to shoot instinctively and quickly. Otherwise its pretty useless.
There is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid people.

Last edited by the rifleer; April 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM.
the rifleer is offline  
Old April 11, 2012, 02:16 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: March 13, 2012
Location: Oconomowoc, WI
Posts: 336
I completely agree with the rifleer. Maintaining your weapon is extremely important. Your weapon is only as useful as your familiarity with it. Make sure it is always cleaned and lubed after the range. You dont want there to be a malfuntion even though these are more rare with a pump, especially an 870 . Also practice fixing malfunctions. This is very important, more so with a handgun but if you pull the trigger and nothing happens or you try and rack and there is a jam or if you try and load a shell and it is not pushed in all the way and jams, you NEED to know what to do to fix the problem and be able to fire as fast as possible afterwards.
themalicious0ne is offline  
Old April 11, 2012, 03:05 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: September 19, 2008
Posts: 4,678
WOW, Tigress - What an un-nerving experience ! I'm also glad you both appear to have come through it alright.

I would advise you not to get too complicated, with a HD gun - K.I.S.S., as it were.

Remember, the inside of most homes is "close quarters", and sights won't matter much, except to clutter/obstruct your vision.

I just run a 1/2" wide strip of white cloth medical adhexive tape (renewalable), down the top of the barrel as a night sight.

PetahW is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:12 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.06980 seconds with 9 queries