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Old September 8, 2012, 07:11 PM   #1
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role of combat shotgun

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I've kind of come to the conclusion that in "conventional" warfare, the shotgun in combat is perhaps obsolete. Here are my thoughts.

While it's an extremely versatile weapon with a wide range of loads, the shotgun has a low capacity and bulky ammunition. Rate of fire is slow compared to weapons of similar size (M4 or any other select-fire rifle/carbine). I think that it is great as a multi-purpose weapon, for tasks such as door breaching and less-than-lethal situations. However, I just can't see its use in combat. Would a round like 00 buck even penetrate body armor? How about a slug?

I know the US military deploys shotguns, but is their role mostly for breaching? Any servicemembers have knowledge in this area?

That being said, I think the shotgun is a great weapon for LEO/civilian use.

That's just my .02 cents, what do others think about this?
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Old September 8, 2012, 07:29 PM   #2
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Slugs or flechettes can do a number on soft armor, but I'd don't they can punch through a plate (then again, neither can an m4).
On the flip side, how long's it been since we've fought anyone likely to be wearing Armor?
They're definitely a specialized weapon, but for clearing rooms/halls or boarding ships they still function pretty well. I didn't have the opportunity to serve myself, but I know my Old man always preferred a shotgun when boarding questionable vessels.
Of course most of the military applications I'm thinking of are really mostly cases of military taking on a LE role.
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Old September 8, 2012, 07:58 PM   #3
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Irregulars / insurgents seldom have body armor.

The shotgun is one weapon system of many (M4, M16, M203, M9, M67)

It's has it's roles in door to door fighting / clearing structures.
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Old September 8, 2012, 08:07 PM   #4
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They are being used right now as we post.
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Old September 10, 2012, 06:42 AM   #5
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In VN, the shotgun was sometimes carried by the platoon SGT or similar rank. Logic was if it got to the point where this individual(headquarters group) needed a gun, it was going to be close. I've had a lot of hunting experience with a shotgun and feel I'm quicker and more lethal with that than with the AR. In a "need for speed" scenario, I feel I can fire and transition through various targets faster with a pump shotgun than I can aim and fire the rifle. This doesn't exactly offset the situation in which you just spray the room with full auto but the targets I aim at WILL be more likely disabled than those exposed to a random fullauto burst.
I've used a shotgun in a couple of civilian confrontations w/o a shot being fired, fortunately. While these were far different from military combat, the intimidation factor played a big role in the peaceful resolution of the situation. Don't count of that during a serious FTF with a badguy, but, it did work fine for me.
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Old September 10, 2012, 07:21 AM   #6
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In the RVN there was a shotgun on most of the patrols that I was on both in the bush and for door to door within the villages. There were not many doors per say to breach, most were straw, or a semilar material. We also had a M79 with an assortment of granades and a M60 gunner. I never thought about or cared about the weight of the weapons, but what it took to do the job.
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Old September 10, 2012, 07:51 AM   #7
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The shotgun definitely has a place in urban warfare..
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Old September 10, 2012, 08:39 AM   #8
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I think it sounds like you've been paying attention and appear to have good critical thinking skills. The SG is limited in any form of combat for exactly the reasons you stated. Short range, bulky ammo, high recoil. This does not mean that the SG is totally useless, just that, it's limited.

We all know that the SG is a dandy HD tool. Inside a house at short distances it can be devastating. If one has to step outside for any reason though, he would be better served by a carbine. Range is increased, ammo is lighter, and the weapons are lighter.

That the Military uses the SG to good effect means little to us civilians. The military sends out a group of men (from how it sounds from other posters, one would have a SG and the rest have rifles. Think about this. If you have a lot of friends that are going to be with you, perhaps one should have a SG. If you are a very small party, or alone, then the rifle is the best choice.)

Or so it seems to me. YMMV.
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Old September 10, 2012, 10:00 AM   #9
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M26 breaching shotgun

The M26 attaches to the M16 like the M203 does, it's primary function is breaching, there are optional stocks/pistol grips to make it a stand alone weapon. After the breach however you want suppressive fire (and a grenade) to allow the teams entry into the structure and avoid being bogged down in the fatal funnel.

Waiting on someone with mout training to chime in.
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Old September 10, 2012, 10:26 AM   #10
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Getting too rusty on MOUT..... Razors edge of military training now down to rusty edge... Plus things were changing so fast when I retired, who knows what they are doing for training for now...
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:45 AM   #11
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Extreme CQB is what a shotgun is good for, also low numbers of hostile targets within CQB range. Anything past 75 yards forget it. Yes it's effective range is beyond that but if I am expecting anything much past 100 I am grabbing something else.

Shotguns limited capacity is why I mentioned low number of hostile targets. Shotguns cant effectively carry much ammo where most SMG's and carbine type rifle hold 30 rounds easily with a rapid reload also easily achieved.
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:49 AM   #12
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Don't know about others, but the shot gun is not for me.

In the military application I'd rather have the M16 or a pistol for times the rifle wont work.

In LE, I've tried them. Every time I picked up a shotgun for building searches or what ever, it always ended up being in the way. Besides if its in range of the shot gun I can hit it with my service revolve, if its out of range of the shotgun, I'm better off with the revolver.

I like the ability to use one hand, saving the other for flashlights, mirrors or arrestees. I can always, with one hand put my revolver back in my secured holster. If you end up with a situation where shooting isn't justified but still might have to wrestle around with a bandit, a shotgun is more trouble then they're work.

There may be a use for others, but not for me based on my time as a combat infantryman or 20 years as a street cop.

I'll leave my shotgun for bird hunting or clay pigions.
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Old September 10, 2012, 07:40 PM   #13
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With 00 buck you are limited to 12-15 yards maximum effective range. Sure kill shots have been made a long distance, but the odds are similar to winning the lottery. Slugs, sure, but as been stated ammo is cumbersome and after 4-7 rounds ya gotta reload. Most anyone can make faster hits at longer ranges with a carbine.
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Old September 10, 2012, 08:46 PM   #14
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Shotgun is an EXCELLENT weapon if the bad guys were body armor.

Then you use the pattern to take them out with a head or groin shot.

And you can increase the range of the shotgun by having Vang counterbore the barrel.

Vang comps make buckshot a 40 yard gun.

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Old September 10, 2012, 09:57 PM   #15
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With 00 buck you are limited to 12-15 yards
Dont tell my deer they shouldnt be dead.....
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Old September 11, 2012, 02:15 AM   #16
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I remember reading a first hand account of an ambush in VN jungle. The GI emptied the shotgun taking out one VC for each round of 00 buck. He was sure he couldn't have done that with a rifle. This of course was at close quarters with thick jungle.
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Old September 11, 2012, 02:48 AM   #17
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narrow role

Even with slugs, the shotgun has limited range when compared to nearly any rifle or carbine. Buck has limited range, and its ability to penetrate common barrriers is limited too. Additionally, the shotgun is more gun than some can handle, most examples are longer and heavier than a carbine, and they kick plenty as well. And a shotgun has a unique firecontrol/manual of arms that is not common with semi pistols or carbines.

The role of the shotgun, even in LE, is steadily shrinking. Many agencies now issue carbines.

I would take nearly any long gun over a handgun, including a shotgun. And I'd hope I could get slugs for it. But given a choice, I'd take a carbine or rifle ahead of a shotgun.

For HD, a shotgun with buck is still plenty, but for LE and military, the shotgun now plays a narrow role.
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Old September 11, 2012, 04:09 AM   #18
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while every weapon has its limitations. for personal protection a good shotgun would be my first purchase and build from there.
ya only got 1 arm and ya carry 3 guns for Christs sake. Well I don't want to get killed for lack of shooting back.
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Old September 11, 2012, 05:38 AM   #19
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As a defensive weapon it has long been obsolete. Compared to a carbine AR you are looking at a heavier, more awkward gun with limited range and ammo capacity. You are also looking at almost 30 ft lbs of recoil vs 4-5 ft lbs for an AR.

In todays military they are occasionally used to guard prisoners, but their primary role is for door breaching. I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that the last time a shotgun was actually fired in the direction of an enemy soldier was during the Vietnam war.
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Old September 11, 2012, 06:57 AM   #20
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Prepare to be surprised. I have a photo of my son, which is beyond my technical ability to upload, armed with both a pistol and a shotgun. He was standing in front of his tank somewhere in Kuwait prior to their going to Iraq. He spent half of his time there in the fair city of Tal Afar but I don't think he had the shotgun with him then. They turned in their pistols (as useless) and had either M4s or M16s, plus their regular tank weapons. Don't know what happened to the shotgun.

I also have a photo somewhere of my father standing in front of one of those WWII bell tents wearing fatigues, a Daisy Mae hat and armed with a shotgun.

I don't remember if I ever saw a shotgun in my time in the army.
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Old September 11, 2012, 07:44 AM   #21
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I recall reading somewhere that shotguns are still used to take out feral dogs in Afghanistan. I am unsure of how often they are used today in door-to-door, but my guess is they are much-loved by any Navy unit, especially on a boat. I know that the Navy still purchases Mossbergs, so I'm sure they are utilized to some degree. I know for certain the Coast Guard use them on watch.
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Old September 11, 2012, 09:55 AM   #22
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Do you mean in WAR, as in issued to infantry? I dont think anyone would consider that a very practicle place for a shotgun ( except in some very-very limited and temporary instances, like a trench.)

Used within its design capabilities and range, its a awesome weapon. As a citizen, I would take a shotgun into just about any defensive situation I can imagine. If I were a soldier, it wouldnt even be in the top three.

As far as the term "combat" shotgun... Im not really on board with such taglines.
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Last edited by FireForged; September 11, 2012 at 10:00 AM.
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Old September 11, 2012, 10:15 AM   #23
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even wearing a vest, you can get severely injured with shots/slug due to some energy transference.

Check photos of trauma injury incurred by folks who were shot by shotgun while wearing vest.

As for round limitation, most confrontation, outside of military, tend to be very limited in number of rounds expended.
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Old September 11, 2012, 10:18 AM   #24
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With 00 buck you are limited to 12-15 yards maximum effective range
You are kidding, right?

It won't have the range of a rifle, sure; but saying that the max effective range of 00 buck is 15 yards is just flat wrong.

Last edited by allaroundhunter; September 11, 2012 at 10:23 AM.
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Old September 11, 2012, 10:20 AM   #25
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"I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that the last time a shotgun was actually fired in the direction of an enemy soldier was during the Vietnam war." Really? Where do you get this stuff?
Here is article from
Guns and Ammo web site from actual combat - The Magnificent Mossberg
Solid, reliable and hard-hitting, the 590 soldiers on in Iraq.
By Jeremy Stafford Posted: 2007-03
And from Navy Seals web site, list of firearms used:
I know from eyewitness accounts, the SEALS are also carrying 870s and 590s and even .357 revolvers and suppressed Ruger MKIIs and a bunch of other firearms as approved for each operator.
It is a fact beyond dispute that shotguns were used more in Vietnam, but they are still being used in certain situations - today. I expect the shotgun will in fact become "obsolete" and not be used outside of Special Forces in the near future. Special forces, SEALS et al, as so mission specific, they will continue using shotguns in combat on specific missions. Currently, they are used to breech doors and used to clear rooms. As has been noted, there are better choices for close quarters combat.
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