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Old October 12, 2004, 08:02 PM   #1
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20ga vs. 12ga for defense?

any opinions on 20ga for a home gun instead of the usual
12ga? pump or auto? barrel length? make or model? best ammo?
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Old October 12, 2004, 09:28 PM   #2
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Many people will tell you to get a pump. Seems simpler and more reliable. However, one is prone to short stroke them. Especially under stress.

Several police trainers report during extended training that pumps are much less reliable than semi-auto shotguns. If you get good quality semi-auto shotguns they are pretty darn reliable.

Under stress, simpler is much better.

A good book to read is Massad Ayoob's book on Shotgun tactics. Mr. Ayoob makes a good case for a 20 gauge for defense or tactical use. As well as the case for a semi-auto.

A semi-auto costs much more, but your life is worth it.
Make it as short as possible for using in close quarters.
Use the largest buckshot available for 20 gauge if you go that route.
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Old October 12, 2004, 09:31 PM   #3
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Fred, . . there are simply too many variables to do a blanket "better".

Having said that: my choice is based on my military experience and I echo the sentiments of the first post. That pump may save you money, but it also may cost you your life. Pull the trigger on a quality automatic and you are ready for the next pull. Also, . . . if you can afford to do so, . . . get a police type riot shotgun with rifle sights and an extended magazine. Don't try to rely on a Winchester 1200 with a full choke 32 inch barrel. Short barrelled auto with extended magazine and an open choke is the best choice.

In my house, .12 ga is king. It is a Beretta automatic and holds 8 rounds of 00 buckshot. It is the kind of shotgun that can have 4 of the 8 empties all in the air at the same time. I have no worries about shooting anything or anyone except the bg, . . . and I don't want to lose the match by being under gunned. I also don't have a neighbor closer than 800 feet, my son (when he is home) sleeps upstairs, and my wife in a shooting situation will be secured in her hideout where my .12 won't affect her. That is just one scenario.

Do you have children in a close bedroom to consider? (I don't)

Do you have pets to consider? (I don't)

Do all of your walls & windows have the ability to contain any "misses"? (It makes no difference in my scenario as the distance to my nearest neighbor is too great to harm them)

Will your wife also handle the shotgun? (My wife is in her hideout with her trusty .38 Colt)

Where will you keep a loaded shotgun that is available yet safe from little hands or prying eyes? (Mine is in the gun safe until it is needed)

Think about the different scenarios and what you have to contend with. A 20 ga will do most things a 12 will, . . . but just personally, IMHO, the 12 is a better choice if it can be done safely.

Incidentally, . . . my goto gun during the night is not the 12, . . . it is a .45 ACP within 18 inches of my face.

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Old October 12, 2004, 09:32 PM   #4
Bob Freddy
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You could use 20ga if that is all you have, but if you are buying a gun I would go with 12 ga. As for semi vs. pump, sure semi is nice but every BG in America knows the sound of a shell geting racked into a 12 gauge
Barrel length, 18 inch
Make Model, way to many options to list them all, but Mossberg and Remington both have decent guns for not too much cash.
Best ammo? I like (or should I say my 870 likes ) Winchester low recoil 00 buckshot.

hope this helps,

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Old October 12, 2004, 09:58 PM   #5
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20ga Home D

The 20ga has plenty of FPE at average shotgun engagement distances to insure a one stop shot. It makes a lot of sense for recoil shy shooters. Primary limitations are ammunition and weapon choices vs. 12ga options. Niether of these are "deal enders" for home defense use though.

I've owned and carried Remington 870P's, but as a lefty, I prefer Mossbergs. I currently use a 590A1 20" GhostRing with a Surefire 623FA forend,Speedfeed III stock, and a Sidesaddle. at 9lbs, it seems a little heavy all loaded up, but those pounds seem to melt away during live-fire tactical training!

Since your looking at 20ga's, weight might also be a concern. If so, stick with a light 18" barrel. Dont worry about ammo cap.; 5 or 6 in the mag. should do you just fine.

First upgrade should be on a good tactical light/mounting solution. If you can't afford a full Surefire solution, consider a Surefire plastic light and a high quality bbl. mount. This solution is out of spec for 12ga. recoil, don't know about 20ga., but you have to have a light.

Some shooters like simple bead sites, but I can't stand them. If you can't spring for a ghost ring solution, at least look at adding a Truglo fiber optic front.

I shoot very well with a pistol grip only solution up to 15 yards, but that's with 20 years of practice. I'd suggest sticking with the strait stock, unless your home defense plan includes a lot of room clearing (which at that point, I'd suggest buying a Glock 34/35 with a light and call it a day!)

Good Luck!
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Old October 12, 2004, 10:53 PM   #6
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The main consideration in getting a 20-ga instead of a 12-ga is, who is going to need to use it? If your wife or teenage daughter are maybe going to use it and they are small-framed and recoil-shy, then a semi-auto 20-ga like the Remington 1100 LT-20 with a "youth" stock is hard to beat. You tend to be limited in choice of ammo - I can find slugs and No. 3 Buck around here in 20-ga but that's about it. I agree about the problem of short-stroking the pumps, but if you want to go that route and, again, a smaller person may need to use it, I'd suggest the Mossberg 500 Bantam in 20-ga. Not only does it have a youth stock, the slide sits farther back, so people with shorter arms can work it properly. If small size and $$ aren't an issue, look at a Benelli semi-auto in 12-ga. According to Awerbuck you can't rely on a one-shot-stop even with a 12-ga; I can double-tap a Benelli.
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Old October 13, 2004, 12:43 PM   #7
Bob Freddy
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According to Awerbuck you can't rely on a one-shot-stop even with a 12-ga
Unless they are wearing armor, or you miss, I would hope that 9 .33 cal pellets would have some stopping power, but you never know. When I was younger and used to hang out on the corners in Chicago, I witnessed my friend get shot from a moving vehichle 3 times dead center with a .45 . The doctor that treated him said he owed his life to the gangbanger using cheap ammo. They said the bullets took a straight path right through his chest missing the vitals. He went home in a few days. They caught the punk that did the shooting after the driver gave him up. So , I guess if you can survive 3 to the chest, you might survive some buckshot. After the three to the chest he was alive but no longer a threat(not that he ever was)! Now they are teaching ito put 2 in the chest, 1 in the head.
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Old October 13, 2004, 02:41 PM   #8
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thanks to all for the excellent info.
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Old October 13, 2004, 03:58 PM   #9
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I don't think I can answer what is better for you in "gauge". As some have said you need to weigh alot of options here. What you "need" is one you feel comfortable with, and one you will feel comfortable defending your life with.
I do agree with the semi-auto folks. I have heard TONS of times (and even stated here) that the cha-chink sound of a slide is a deterant. I hate that....we're not talking about defending my liquer store, or my impound lot or someother place of bussiness. This is my home. The only thing I want the BG to here from me is the blast that takes his life! Now some folks may say thats wrong but I'm not out walking the street. In that senerio with my CCW, yes, my mission is to get out of the situation unharmed and it "may" come to me shooting to do that, but only if I have to. In my home...whole different story. Keep in mind to check your local laws, but here in Ga. someone illigaly in my home is someone getting shot.

Let's use the "pump slide scares bad guy" scenerio: Your laying in bed and BG has already crept silently to the end of the hall at your bedroom door and is opening the door. You have awakened with him 3/4 down the hall and are alert and have shotgun in hand by the time he puts his hand on the knob.
Thats the scenerio for arguments's how things could go ugly with a pump.
#1. The BG is opening the door and you rack the slide...the BG turns to run but desoriented runs into another loved ones room...uh-oh hostage situation!
#2 The BG is opening the door and you rack the slide...The BG is turning to run and sees someone at the other end of the hall (aparently daddy and mommy aren't the only one that heard a disturbance) BG has no time to think only reacts to the shadow *BLAM* dead kid BG runs on away...
#3 You let the BG open the door and then rack the slide...BG already has weapon in hand and fires in the general direction of the noise...does he hit you??? Did he hit your wife laying next to you??? Do you realy wanna take that chance???

Here's the scenerio in the Brady household (yes I share the same last name as that psycho, but thank the good Lord totaly different views)
BG has his hand on the knob, I have the shotgun pointed at "roughly" center of mass for the average man toward the door with safty off, as the door is opened, I'll be able to tell the size the person entering and the shotgun is adjusted accordingly in a split second meanwhile I am concentrating on my eyes adjusting to whether I know this person. As soon as I have a confirmed I lower the weapon or pull the trigger according to wich accesment was made.

Now like I said, I am fortunate enough to live in a state I can do this and I also have no little prying my shotgun is loaded and leaned in the corner of the rooom only two feet from my pillow. Others may not have that option and I am by no means telling anyone they should use my method. I just hate hearing people say "racking a pump, will scare the bad guy away" or "everyone knows what a shotgun slide sounds like" because yea! Everyone knows what it sounds like...and it will scare them...away??? thats yet to be seen, but a scared animal is a dangerous one, and in a home invasion they are in unfamiler territory, so now you have a scared, and (feeling) trapped animal...Not good!

Before you ask, yes that very scenerio has happened to me. Turned out to be a buddy trying to wake me without waking the rest of the house (very caviler of him.. I bet next time he wakes the whole neighberhood pounding on my door before he walks on in! ) I was able to descern friend from foe before a life taking mistake was made and lowered the firearm. I also found out that it took him just as long to register I had a gun as it did for me to register who he was, so had it been the BG I had him dead to rights...

Didn't mean to rant (and in all actuality wasn't just giving you food for thought) I wanna make sure you get the right home defense weapon for YOU. Not me, or the guy that lives next door or anybody else...YOU!

Hope I've been a help. I also hope I stimulated some thought on this "I just racked a shotgun so fear me you piece of garbage" mentality when it comes to someone in your home...
- Veritas - Aequitas -
"Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. This was actually done by Great Britain at the commencement of the late revolution."
Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts - 1789

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Old October 13, 2004, 08:58 PM   #10
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So , I guess if you can survive 3 to the chest, you might survive some buckshot.
Please note that I said "one-shot-stop", not survive. It doesn't matter really if he survives so much as that he stops what he's doing immediately. Most likely a 12-ga 00 shell will stop a person. All I'm saying is, you can't count on it happening every time.

I agree WRT to the "rack the slide" tactic. I personally would prefer to retain the tactical advantage of them not knowing where I am.
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Old October 13, 2004, 09:08 PM   #11
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I have my 12 gauge guns secured against being stolen, I have a nice 410 with slugs for defense. No big lose if its stolen and it will leave a hole .410 of an inch in a bg.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin
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Old October 13, 2004, 09:27 PM   #12
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Either Gun is Better

ANY gun is better. What matters most in HD, at least IMO, is getting MY shot ON Mr. Bad Guy FIRST. As long as it's not a .22LR. Killing power is killing power. If my 20 gauge auto comes to hand before I get to my 12 gauge pump, he's still dyin'. And no, at HD distances choke doesn't matter either. If I get to my 9 or 45, he's especially dead -if that's possible.
VT VENIANT OMNES -"Let them all come!"
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Old October 13, 2004, 10:19 PM   #13
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While I use a 12ga, I believe the 20ga to be a good option. The recoil to me is similar to that of a reduced recoil 12ga load. Plus, 20ga shotties can be had in a smaller scale.

I won't argue that one is better than the other. They are both good choices.

I prefer a pump to a semi-auto.
"God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it." --Daniel Webster
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Old October 14, 2004, 12:56 AM   #14
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At SD range BG ain't gonna know the difference.
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