AR-15 vs. Shotgun for Home Defense

AR-15 vs. Shotgun for Home Defense

AR-15 vs. Shotgun for Home Defense

A few days ago, I got this excellent question from a fellow named Karl L…

“I find it interesting that you recommend a rifle over a shotgun for home defense. All the other experts I have talked to and research I have done point to a shotgun because with 00 buckshot you don’t have to be dead on accurate to stop an intruder. They all have told me the other issue with handguns and rifles is they take longer to master well enough for home defense and are harder to use. I respect your opinion greatly, so can you please talk on this issue more? I recently bought my first gun, shotgun, based on all this. Thanks.”

And, here’s my answer and the reason I prefer an AR over a shotgun for home defense…

It seems there’s been a huge myth that’s developed over the years thanks to Hollywood and so-called experts. This myth is that the shotgun is great because you really don’t have to aim, you can “spray and pray,” you don’t ever have to train with it, and all you have to do is rack the shotgun and the burglars will magically disappear.

The fact is, every gun owner is responsible for every bullet that leaves our gun. I don’t like the fact that some folks are touting the shotgun for home defense because “even with your eyes closed” you can hit the target and you don’t have to know what you’re doing with the gun.

I personally believe every gun needs to be respected and you need to train with every gun you plan on using for personal protection. So, if you’re going to use a shotgun for home defense that’s great, but make sure you go to the shooting range often, that you practice loading (combat loading too), and that you truly know how to manipulate the shotgun.

If you’re going to do all these things then you’ll have no problem taking care of yourself if you have to use your gun during a home invasion. (If I had to use a shotgun it would be a Remington 870 with 00 buckshot.)

The reason that I prefer the AR is that it holds more ammunition and it’s very easy to operate. I think the problem is that the AR looks more intimidating and so it scares many folks away.

But, if they took a rifle course they’d quickly realize how simple it is to use. And, if you had a truly horrific home invasion scenario with multiple intruders you’d probably wish you had the AR since it has 30 rounds versus a shotgun that may have 5-7 shells.

The bottom line is, the gun you use for home defense obviously comes down to personal preference and is purely your choice. Just make sure that whichever you choose, you don’t buy it and just throw it in a safe and never train with it. Take it out to the range and become proficient so there’s no question you’ll be able to properly operate it should your life ever be in danger.

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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Grace Park


Grace Park


Grace Park


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Skcus Koobecaf

5-7 shells in a shot gun? Why limit yourself? How about 12 shells instead. Still not AR capacity, but plenty should the need arise.

Michael Reed

Or How about 14? 7 slugs, 7 buck shot, or any combination…


Cool Kel-tec , 6+6+1 Rounds but cost about $1,000.00

Michael Reed

Oops sorry. Yes it is a 6+6+1. You are correct. True it is $1,000 but whats a $1,000 for your family’s life? Its good to switch between different rounds, slugs vs buckshot, its short and easy to maneuver in tight places. It has a pica-tiny rail for attachments such as flash lights, and more. Its a nice shotgun.


Can you mount an I-phone and take selfie’s with it?

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Have both shotguns (in 12 and 20 ga,) and ARs…shotgun at in-home distances DO need to be aimed because even birdshot will only spread 2-3 inches. 00 buckshot can penetrate walls easily, too, much like AR rounds…if it’s a serious concern for neighbors/kids in the next room, etc., recommend frangible ammo for AR and handguns. Not that much more expensive to mitigate unintended consequences!

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The weapon of choice has to be mastered , age, size and yes gender of shooter needs to be addressed. As a former military weapons specialist and instrutor range time is All important, but under a confrontation, things change too much recoil, weight etc
Can get you killed.
Don’t rely on gun store wannabes for advise, just because they carry a 45 doesn’t mean you should. Same with Brands
I could go on and on
Just buy what you can afford and practice


If you’re in California, civilians are restricted to 10 rounds in your AR, with a bizarre recessed button that requires a tool to change mags. Pistols are also restricted to 10 rounds, but a thumb operated mag button is allowed. If you expect a long fight in close quarters, a semi auto pistol probably puts more rounds on target. I try to keep my options open by having pistol, rifle and shotgun nearby.


For me the issue is penetration. I live in the middle of a small town and like my neighbors. I’d rather have something that will stop, deter, someone without endangering someone on the other side of town.

Having said that, we all owe it to the innocent bystanders of the world to practice and become competent, even if not proficient, with the defensive weapon of our choice.


How about 15 rounds semi-auto 410

C.M. Dawson

AR over shotgun for multiple armed home invaders. Combat shotgun over AR if one armed home invader.

Both are needed, given circumstances, and both are nearby. Yes, the shotgun will be aimed like a rifle at close proximity. That’s why peep and front post sights are common on combat shotguns. They are technically a rifle at close distances.

Patrick Bonacoscia

“No time to aim? Point and shoot. Practice it from the hip and all points,
even flat on your back. Live fire tactical training should give you the skills
needed to survive”

Exactly, that training is key.

Many people fail to understand that a home defense situation is not like when
you are at a shooting range, with plenty of time to aim, with no stress.

At short range, at home, taking the time to aim makes you lose vital
seconds (not to mention tunnel vision where you lose your peripheral vision).

I did that training in my country army. We had in 2 seconds, to put a bullet between the 2 eyes (to damage the brain stem) and one in the heart at 20 yards or less. It required a lot of drilling and a perfect knowledge of our gun (sig 550).

Thomas J. Zaleski

The author is full of crap. At 10 feet the spread (full choke let’s assume) is about 7 inches. NO 5’s will KILL any man at that range. 7 INCHES vs .556 inches. No brainer. Of course, I am a 27 yd champion Trapshooter…..easy


Not anyways true, some 00 don’t spread very far at all. I’ve seen just over an inch on unchocked with some popular loads.

scott will

Simple and to the point