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Old March 12, 2013, 01:12 PM   #1
Join Date: March 9, 2013
Location: Central PA
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Should I get a shotgun for HD?

I'm new to guns and have been reading articles/discussions about best HD options. My only experience with shotguns is holding a few in stores and the heft is a little intimidating. I feel fairly comfortable with the advantages/disadvantages but not which factors I should weigh the most heavily. No matter the decision, I will have a handgun close by but I need convincing to add a shotgun. Here is a my situation, please let me know what you would do:

1) I live in a generally suburban area interspersed with farmland (subrural?)
2) My house is two-stories in a subdivision with 1/3 to 1/2 acre lots
3) I have two children under 10
4) My state is gun-friendly and I've already joined a club that has practice facilities
5) I'm 6'2" and in pretty good shape

Those were the types of issues I saw mentioned but I'm probably missing some decision points.

Fire away!
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Old March 12, 2013, 01:20 PM   #2
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I personally prefer a handgun for self defense in the home for a few reasons. First the handgun will be much easier to store and secure when not in use than a long gun/shotgun. Secondly the handgun will be much easier to maneuver within the confines of a home. Thirdly, it is easier to control shot placement and to assure projectiles may not hit an unintended target.

Now, having said this a lot of folks like shotguns for home defense, so not saying it’s wrong just prefer handguns.
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Old March 12, 2013, 01:38 PM   #3
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I have two children under 10
Another reason why I like a shotgun for HD.

My 12 year old daughter, who respects guns and knows how to use them, has a hard time chambering a round in my 870., due to the length of pull on the slide.

I'm sure there are as many opinions as there are stars in the sky.

IMHO, use whatever you can afford to practice, practice, practice with.

Confidence in your ability to act accordingly when faced with a life and death situation is the most important thing.
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Old March 12, 2013, 01:38 PM   #4
Join Date: March 26, 2012
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Shotgun for HD

My main reason for keeping a shotgun as part of my HD plan is the decreased chance of harming a neighbor or damaging their property, assuming my ammo is not 00 buck or close to it. A bullet from a handgun can go through several walls before stopping. I live in a detached house with houses in all four directions.
Also, the sound that a shotgun makes when chambering a round could possibly be enough to make a bad guy change his mind about invading my home. I don't keep a round in the chamber because they can go off if you drop them in that condition. No children live in my house, just me and wifey. YMMV

Last edited by plinkz; March 12, 2013 at 01:54 PM.
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Old March 12, 2013, 01:45 PM   #5
Join Date: March 10, 2013
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Should I get a shotgun for HD?

I prefer a shotgun. I do not have kids in the house so keeping it within easy reach while I'm home is not a concern.

I'm not saying I couldn't hit someone while shooting a pistol, who busts into my house in the middle of the night and wakes me up, but I do know hitting them with buck shot is gonna be easier.

I use a Remington 870 18" bl and extended mag for hd duty.
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Old March 12, 2013, 01:51 PM   #6
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A shotgun is considered to be one of the best weapons for self defense because of its stopping power at close range which tends to be the range in which most home defense scenarios occur. This does not mean they are for everyone. Most people will recommend a shotgun if you do not have to clear the house because if you do not have to you should not be searching for trouble. You having kids changes that because obviously your first priority would be to get to them to defend them from the threat. A shotgun is not the most mobile as mentioned by BarryLee and makes it possible for the intruder to disarm you if there is a "gun grab" scenario. However with that being said you should not rule out the shotgun. You should also try a handgun and see what you are more comfortable with and remember that one of the golden rules is to practice. No matter what firearm you choose you need to train yourself on it to make your job of defending your home efficient.
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Old March 12, 2013, 02:49 PM   #7
Join Date: March 9, 2013
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Thanks for the responses! Some of the things touched upon that were making me hesitant are:

1) With the smaller kids, where to keep the gun handy
2) Being able to practice and the time to get proficient
3) Overall maneuverability

I definitely like what I've read/heard in terms of buckshot vs bullet for penetration in the home and stopping ability (although I did read one report that said this was exaggerated). I know the "need to be less accurate" argument isn't as significant as some would like to believe, however, I think there is validity when your handgun groupings are not quite as tight like mine (yet!) or if accuracy will degrade in a real BG scenario.

Right now I feel pretty comfortable with my 9mm and would rather take the time to get really proficient unless a shotgun is simply a better option. I'm thinking the plan should be to master the handgun and then add the shotgun down the line...
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Old March 12, 2013, 03:27 PM   #8
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amazon has cheap gun racks to keep them away from children.

i have a sawed off 12 ga, head light, and shell belt to take a defensive position, not walk around looking for intruders.

a shotgun has a better chance of stopping an intruder than a handgun. too many times someone will shoot a bad guy with a handgun only to get shot right back.

some intruders may be smart and wear body armor. head shots are easy with #4 buck(not #4 shot).

know the distance you may have to shoot(10 yards for me) and test all kinds of buckshot see how they pattern. #1 buck pattern very weird for me. 00 buck, not enough pellets imo. #4 buck is impressive in my shotgun. i only buy 2 3/4" shells means more shots.

good luck finding any buckshot in stores. i can't. sometimes midway has some.
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Old March 12, 2013, 03:44 PM   #9
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Should I get a shotgun for home defense?
Absolutely! Joe Biden thinks so
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Old March 12, 2013, 04:36 PM   #10
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I have my 1911 on but would still grab the double barrel. (Go ahead with the Uncle Joe flames)
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Old March 12, 2013, 05:03 PM   #11
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A handgun and a shotgun is a good HD combination. The handgun you can have with you and is more handy if you have to move through the house. But f someone is trying to break in through a window, front door or bedroom door I would prefer to greet them with a shotgun from a protected position.
"The ultimate authority ... resides in the people alone. ... The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation ... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition."
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Old March 12, 2013, 05:46 PM   #12
Join Date: March 6, 2013
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A handgun and a shotgun is a good HD combination. The handgun you can have with you and is more handy if you have to move through the house. But f someone is trying to break in through a window, front door or bedroom door I would prefer to greet them with a shotgun from a protected position.

Agreed, once you can secure both items (handgun and shotgun) Assuming there is two of you that wield a firearm and she is willing to do training with either. You may have to make change up in the caliber, 20ga vs. 12ga.

Hell ya, When my wife gets her shoulder issues work out I totally plan on her backing me up with a rifle/shotgun or handgun.

Bottom line I guess is don't over commit to just one weapon system. Maybe one at a time to learn and save up ( I know that is hard, I almost bought a used rem 870 that had never had a shell put in it that had a weapons lite and rails all over it for $400 I know kick me right, when I came to my senses I called them and it was gone.)

Last edited by REDBULL600; March 13, 2013 at 09:55 AM.
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Old March 13, 2013, 12:05 PM   #13
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12ga shotgun? NO!

In general I'd advise NOT to buy a pump action 12ga or semi-auto for home protection. I'd suggest a simple, well engineered DA(double action) or double action only(DA only, no spur or cocking) revolver.

A 12ga or 16ga/410 shotshell may be practical under some applications but not for a entry level gun owner or for a sub-urban area.
Keep in mind, that in a high stress critical incident like a home invasion or break-in, you will have your hands full; phone, flashlight or "white light", opening doors or curtains, dressing, holding a rail or a child's hand etc.
A shotgun or M4 type weapon takes 2 hands. It is also subject to a snatch or a retention issue. There is a great YouTube clip where a firearms instructor displays this point in detail in a normal 2 story suburban type home.

Check into a stainless steel Ruger GP100 with a 3"-6" barrel, a S&W L frame 686+ 7 round .357magnum, a Rhino .357 magnum DA only, 3"-6" barrel, a Ruger SP101 DA only .357magnum or a LCR(.38spl or .357magnum).
DA only type pistols or revolvers allow you to avoid bogus claims of cocking a hammer or firing in a unsafe or reckless way. Many sworn US police agencies have issued or authorized DA only sidearms for years(LAPD NYPD US Border Patrol US Secret Service FAMs/air marshals).
Only use factory made rounds too, no reloads or hand-loads for home defense.
If you have the $ or budget, the S&W M&P R8 .357 magnum(8 rounds) with a CT Lasergrip or 1913 white-light/laser(green) could do very well.

It's big but low recoil & can be fired one-handed if needed.
Learn & understand your areas gun laws & use of force standards.
Take a tactics or skill training class. It will document your concern for proper training & safe gun use if you have a use of force incident.
Remember too that a firearm is only a PART of your home security plan or system. You need to deal with other factors too(locks, alarms, lights, dogs-pets, duress codes-passwords, etc).
Check these sources for more details; www.
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Old March 16, 2013, 05:50 PM   #14
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consider a 20 ga...

A shotgun is a good home defense option - especially for "get to the kids, and stay put once the 911 call is made" - negates the gun grab arguments. A youth sized 20 ga is perfect for this - put on an 18" barrel, mabe a mag extension. 20's have 90% of the payload with 75% of 12 gauge recoil- largest commercial shot loads have 20 pellets of #3 buckshot - that's 1/4" diameter, so like 20, plus sized .22s per trigger pull, at the same velocity. Important to pattern - mine is lousy with Federal, but about 6" at 7 yards (with a modified Remchoke) with Remington or Winchester. Light, handy, controllable. I put a tritium bead on mine - converted a LW Wingmaster I hadn't been using.
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Old March 16, 2013, 06:00 PM   #15
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I wouldn't be without both, but have preferred a little shotgun nearly as long as Joe Biden has been an idiot.
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Old March 16, 2013, 08:13 PM   #16
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Shotguns are excellent for home defense as are pistols and carbines in the pistol calibers.

The question should be what type of firearm are you most proficient with.

If you are better with the shotgun then that is what you should use.

Given the ranges at which HD encounters occur, the spread of the shot is not significant even with an open bore shotgun. It is very easy to miss at close ranges with a shotgun.
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Old March 16, 2013, 08:59 PM   #17
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How about a "judge" revolver....which allows you to chamber either .45 long colt or a .410 shot? Seems to me that it would combine the best of the two - a handgun which is quicker to handle and also leaving your other hand free to operate flashlight, light switch, opening/closing well as having the spread of a shotgun without fear of massive penetration into other nearby houses/neighbors?
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Old March 16, 2013, 09:04 PM   #18
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This is next to my bed. In my dresser drawer, next to the shotgun, is a Glock 19 w/tac light. Nothing wrong with a shotgun.

"I say, boy, I say, you're doing a lot of choppin', but no chips are flyin'."
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Old March 16, 2013, 09:46 PM   #19
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The answer is 'yes', get one.
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Old March 17, 2013, 03:52 AM   #20
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I would get a shotgun, but rather than an 870 I like the 11-87.
Kept in good working order the chances of it jamming are about the same as the pump action.

And I would just keep it under the bed at night and then lock it away in a gun cabinet during the day.
If the cabinet is handy its not going to take more than 30 seconds to put away and get out.

You know what kids are like, tell them a million times not to touch something and one day their curiosity will get the better of them, and if not them it might get the better of one of their friends.
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Old March 17, 2013, 08:34 AM   #21
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Hand gun for me, shotgun for the wife.

Late one night a few years back a drunk was pounding on the front door and yelling for Emma. There is nobody even in our neighborhood named Emma. I tried to reason with him through the door, as the wife called the law. He would not leave so I told him to listen up and racked the bolt forward on the wife's 1100. He left. Local deputy picked him up on foot walking to town.
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Old March 17, 2013, 12:17 PM   #22
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Many folks like the cheap aspect of owning a pump shotgun - they are much less expensive than a quality handgun, many think the "racking"sound is some form of intimidation.

However, since you already have a pistol, ask yourself how proficient you are with it? I have a G17 as one of my HD pistols - combined with the 33 round G18 mag, I have greater firepower than my 12 pump.
Many like to add all sorts of gadgets to their pump guns - lights, scopes and a host of other "tactical" accessories. These add a lot of additional, typically near the muzzle, making the gun very awkward to easily handle as it has now become very muzzle heavy.

Perhaps before you buy, you should find friends with these shotguns, or find a range that rents them and try some various HD loads.

Shotguns are nice, formidable and affordable, but they are not "THE"answer to HD - each person has to assess their own scenario
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Old March 18, 2013, 01:25 PM   #23
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Simple answer - Yes! get a shotgun (its our HD weapon of choice!!)
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Old March 18, 2013, 02:03 PM   #24
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Anyway, My Remington 870 Marine Magnum, (Think nickle plated boat gun, corrosion resistant), is right under my bed between the box springs and mattress.

I have several handguns at strategic places throughout the house, but they are all for the purpose of allowing me to get to that shotgun.

I live alone with my wife, kids are grown. I have no illusions as to the folly of sneaking thru my house looking for bad guys. I will get to my wife, get her to call 911, and the two of us will hold up in a room and I will become a human claymore mine until the cops get there to take over. The house and belongings are insured, and I would rather deal with insurance agents then an inquest but if I have to shoot I intend to have the only story in what happened.

And there is a reason cops always go for their long guns against an armed bad guy when they can. Long guns win over hand guns most of the time.
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Old March 18, 2013, 02:07 PM   #25
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I, personally, like the shotgun for HD. It's simple, versatile, reliable, and relatively inexpensive for practice. I've been hunting with one for >30 years, so I'm well familiar with the controls, as well, and have had many opportunities to fire at moving targets much smaller than adult human males. I'm not a "crack shot," but moderately confident in my ability to hit COM at HD ranges. I recently competed in my 1st 3-gun match, and there was no question as to my abilities: I'm simply much more proficient with a shotgun than anything else I shot.

Given my living conditions, a small apartment with neighbors, shooting through walls is a serious concern. Accordingly, I attempt to use HD loads that minimize that risk. Even if I lived in a suburban area, though, I'd still go with a shotgun. The possibility of shooting neighbors should be reduced as compared to an apartment, particularly if there are fences and the like in between houses.

I will concede that a shotgun is not as maneuverable as a handgun. I know that, in theory, untrained folks such as myself shouldn't go "clearing the house" before police arrive. In the event of a home invasion, my plan is to hunker down to the extent possible. However, I could not, in good conscience, leave my daughter unprotected at the other end of our home.

As for storing and securing a weapon, having small children in the house makes a big difference in the equation. I'm not foolish enough to believe that my daugher "can't chamber a round" or "isn't curious about guns." While both statements could be true now, I cannot guarantee that they will always be true. One of the things that I have done to avoid that kind of potential disaster is to teach my daughter about guns, and to let her handle them pretty much every time she asks. Guns are no mystery at our house. She knows that I carry a gun. She goes to gun shows with me. She gets to handle them when I'm cleaning. When she gets bored, she goes and does something else. That way there's no "forbidden fruit" aspect to them. I would encourage the OP to look at various storage & securing options in light of the fact that children are in the home.
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