Shotgun Myths and Secrets of Home Defense

Shotgun Myths and Secrets of Home Defense
Shotgun Myths and Secrets of Home Defense

Shotgun Myths and Secrets of Home Defense
Shotgun Myths and Secrets of Home Defense
Sitting in my bedroom is a Remington 870 shotgun full of 00 buckshot. Because, in my opinion, along with a good handgun (mine is a Glock 19) everyone also needs a shotgun for home defense. However, thanks to Hollywood, many people are often confused about how to properly use a shotgun.

I’m going to try and clear that up for you. First off, as I just mentioned, I think the best home defense shotgun is the Remington 870. They’re simple to use and can take a beating. Plus, they’re cheap, costing less than $350. However, if you want the “Rolls Royce” of shotguns, then go for a Benelli. It’ll set you back around $1,300, but to each his own. I’d be willing to bet my life on either gun, so the 870 works fine for me.

Once you’ve chosen a gun, you obviously need to get ammo for it. I use 00 buckshot for my gun, but you have to be very careful with over penetration with this load. Many experts recommend using bird shot for home defense, but I know the layout of my house and I don’t have any children, so 00 buck is what I prefer.

Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty of actually using the gun.

In short, the shotgun is like any other firearm we use for self-defense purposes. It’s only used when you’re in immediate fear for your life, and when you pull it out you better be prepared to use it.

In other words, when I’m doing training I’m often asked, “can’t I just rack the shotgun and that noise will scare off a burglar.” The answer to that question is “if it does, that’s a blessing, but don’t count on it happening.” When you pull out your gun, you better be prepared to pull the trigger and defend your life. You should not be thinking to yourself, “I’m just going to rack the shotgun and wait and see if that scares him off.” That’s the type of mindset that will get you killed.

Think about it this way:

If you’re carrying concealed on the street and somebody is running at you with a knife are you going to draw your gun and sit there assuming the sight of it is going to scare them off without you having any plans of actually using it? Of course not. You’re going to draw your gun and if they keep coming at you, you’re going to shoot. (If they happen to stop when you draw, then that’s the blessing you hope for, but don’t count on it.)

Another important aspect of the home defense shotgun is making sure it has a butt stock and not just a pistol grip. I realize that a pistol grip shotgun such as the Mossberg 500 Cruiser looks cool. You see them a lot in the movies, but they’re much more difficult to shoot and be accurate with. And I’m willing to bet that when someone breaks into your home and you’re sitting there with a “cool” looking shotgun, you’ll probably wish you had the “less cool” gun that was easier to shoot. Also, as you’re sitting in your home with your shotgun you need to practice maneuvering

around your house with it. Ideally, if someone breaks into your house you’ll just lock yourself in your bedroom with the gun pointed at the door and wait for the police to come and do their job.

But if you have to go out and inspect a suspicious noise make sure you’re not knocking into the walls and you know how to handle the gun. In fact, just like with all types of new guns you should take a shotgun specific class or at least go to the range with a buddy who’ll show you how to use the shotgun.

As I often have to remind my wife, you should have multiple guns to ensure the safety of you and your family. So, even if you’ve got a Glock or Springfield XD sitting in your nightstand, consider getting a shotgun this week because you can never be too prepared. (At least that’s what I keep telling my wife every time I add a firearm to the Hanson Family Arsenal.)

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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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Good read.. and I couldn’t agree more. I just bought my dad for fathers a day a Benneli nova tactical with the ghost ring sights and shorter barrel its loaded with 00 buck as well. Perfect for home defense I myself also have the 870 at home.


good 2 know


I agree with the need to practice moving through the house and the choice of shotgun.  Personally, I have a Mossberg 500 that I’ve had for 25 years.  The 28 inch barrel is a tad long for home defense use but it throws both slugs and buckshot right where I want them.  Mine is currently loaded with a mix of 00 buck and slugs plus there is one in the chamber so I’m not depending on the racking sound.


Love the 870 and have it hanging next to the bed. But 00B is a little rough for indoor use. I prefer #4B for indoors. Does the job, but won’t bring the house down either!


Good article, I agree practice is what makes everything work right when there’s a problem. However I personally think 00 buck and #4 buck is a little much for int the home use.These two load will penetrate multiple walls of drywall.  I prefer #6 to #9. It will not penetrate the drywall in your home as much, so it is safer for other members in the house ,should you miss your target.


If it doesn’t penetrate drywall, it’s probably not going to penetrate the jacka** breaking into your house. To state the obvious: Birdshot is for birds.

By the way, Dick Cheney shot a man point blank in the face with birdshot. The man later apologized to Dick Cheney for Dick Cheney shooting him in the face. There are two take-aways from that story. One: Apparently Dick Cheney is the man. Two: Birdshot is for birds.


good response!

Steve Charles

Most any handgun bullet will penetrate through multiple walls of drywall too, yet most everyone that is concerned with over penetration of buckshot uses a handgun for home defense without any such worries.


I enjoyed reading your article and found it very useful, I own a Mossberg 500 and have opted for the pistol grip but now I see your point on the control factor with this set up and will be returning the normal stock to my shotgun. I would add that I live in an apartment so the fear of blasting holes in the wall and potentially having unintentional victims has led me to opt for a lighter load.


Nice summary, but as you pointed out the safest thing is to wait for the police while you protect the ones you love. Gotta say I’m a 18.5 Benelli guy with 7shot.  And to touch upon your write up and other comments we need to step up personal family protection by doing drills, the same as fire drills, or at a minimum discuss it with the family.


A shotgun is very good house gun,  but with todays handguns there is, I feel, a better choice.  A 410 handgun. The Taurus judge and Bond arms Derringers are good choices.  Both will shoot either 2.5/3 inch 410s or 45 long colt.

There are 2 main disadvantage to a shotgun.  1) size.  Even an 18″ barrel (minimum legal) can be awkward inside a room.  2)  A shotgun tends to hold a fairly tight pattern until you get to 10 to 15 yards, thats 30 to 45 feet,  Do you live in a mansion?  The judge and Bond Arms will print about 7 to 10 inches at about 10 feet, and moving with them is not a problem.  I use to keep an Ithica 37 12 ga. by the bed.  Now I have a Taurus Judge w/5 – 2.5″ 000 buck 410s.  That eguals 20 – 36 cal balls in an easy to handle home defense gun.

Recoil on either gun is very managable.  They are much less than a 357 mag.  Depending on which gun and model you choose you have a wide range of 410 shells to choose from.


Good read. Im familiar with the shotgun in Security work. I own a mossburg 500 w/ 18 Inch barrel. I do practice “walk thru’s” of the apartment. Cover,Conceal,tactical,Shooting positions. While I hope to  never have to unleash this on someone its there when i need it. So is the Sig P-250


Good tips. Of course, the debate about the *best* option will continue on, but the ultimate answer is what works best for your situation. My home is older and has a lot of tight corners and small spaces, so a shotgun would be incredibly hard to maneuver if I have to move through the house. And I likely will have to move, as I have a kid in another room. Some nights (and days), I spend a lot of time in the basement so I may even have to move through two stories to ensure my family’s safety.

Naturally, my situation is about to change, too, so we’ll have to work out new plans, and a shotgun may indeed be my best choice.

John Brittingham

The benelli sucks I would rather use an over and under. How many shots do you need with a shotgun. If you miss the first shot I am very sure the potential intruder will need to change his shorts.
The problem with the benelli is that semi auto guns often get jammed. I would take my over and under to any duel against a benelli.


You never owned a Benelli. Jammed when? Video or it didn’t happen.

Bruce D. Jenner

Birdshot is for birds. 00, #4 buck or Slugs are for home defense. If your recoil sensitive, get some lower recoiling rounds. Also, seeking out the intruder is insane unless you have no choice. Hunker down and wait, ready to end him if he comes through that last door. Most people ARE NOT “operators” and wouldn’t know how to do it properly if their life depended on it.

Joe E Goodart

I like your article but think buckshot in a 12 gauge is way too much power for an intruder. I have a 20 Ga and would not consider buckshot. I just does too much damage I think shredding them with smaller and more shot at close range will be more effective especially with a sawed off barrel.
Your 98 pound wife can do it too, but if she has to shoot even BB shot 12 GA. the recoil is too much. I do like slugs for shooting though things so they are on the list, but recoil may be a bit much for light folks. and yes by all means make sure your gun has a stock otherwise get a 410.