One of our readers recently asked:
… [I am] very interested in buying a shotgun for home defense purposes. I would love your and staff opinion on brand (870 vs. Mossy, etc) and how you like to set them up (pistol grip, etc.)
First off, a shotgun isn’t our first choice for home defense. As John Holschen once said fairly succinctly:
I’ll start out by saying that a shotgun is my last choice to procure for employment as a defensive long gun. This is because:
1. It is heavy.
2. It’s manual of arms is relatively complex.
3. It’s recoil is more difficult to manage for quick follow up shots (as might be required for multiple threats.)
4. It’s ammunition supply is relatively limited (this is not a critical factor in a typical home defense situation but could become one in case of large scale civil disturbance.)
If I absolutely could not have a semi-auto rifle I would rather have a pump-action rifle (or a lever action rifle) than a shotgun.
Now that is not to say that a shotgun is not a serviceable weapon or that it is totally unsuited for the task of home defense. Some of the things that the shotgun has going for it is that they are relatively inexpensive, widely available, and widely legal to own in more jurisdictions than a semi-automatic rifle.
If past production quality and what we have seen in classes over the years holds true, a Remington 870 Police model is going to hold up a little better than a Remington 870 Express, and much better than a Mossberg.
Regarding the modifications or accessories, your shotgun needs:
- Sights you can see.
- A sling.
- additional ammunition.
- A flashlight.
Most of us have extended magazine tubes as well as side saddle carriers or butt cuff carriers for additional ammo, and SureFire fore ends. Beyond that I would size the stock for a comfortable length of pull (most shotgun stocks are a little too long for most users) and that is about it. A factory stock shotgun with a sling will work just fine as far as the class is concerned.
Recently on the email list, Jeff Mau wrote what I consider to be a very good explanation of the Universal Firearms Handling Rules, his post follows:
1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never point your gun at anything you are not willing to shoot or destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is behind and beyond.
These rules are principle based and are for all places, all times, everywhere. They are not merely range safety rules. Unlike the NRA safety rules and various other mutated forms of these rules. The verbiage InSights uses is specific.
Frequently, people shoot themselves at gun schools because they don’t apply the UFHR to their gun handling.
My skills are driven by my tactics and these safety rules. If a particular skill forces me to violate these rules then I avoid it. One hand manipulation of the gun is a common area that people violate these rules. Frequently, people shoot themselves at gun schools because they don’t apply the UFHR to their gun handling.
Contact distance shooting is another area where rule number 2 is commonly violated and again people shoot themselves. I have even heard it said that in a middle of a gun fight it is OK to shoot yourself because you have more important things to worry about. The skills InSights teaches are specific. Not only do we teach skills that are more efficient, but they are also safer. Frequently in training, I hear colleagues stated that the UFHR don’t apply in the real world. This is patently false and a fundamental misunderstanding of the UNIVERSAL Firearms Handling Rules. Some of these people are the same ones have shot themselves in various appendages! Some people don’t even learn their lesson the hard way.
Rule number 4 is simply to know your target, what is beyond it and being willing to accept the consequences of what you shoot. It most certainly does not mean you can only point your gun at a berm or something else that will stop a bullet. If given the distance, I will likely not immediately shoot the crazy guy making threats with a knife standing in front of a school bus with little kids inside. If possible, I will maneuver to avoid the possibility of hitting an innocent. However, if that same crazy guy has a bomb strapped to his chest, then I have no issue taking the shot and possibly jeopardizing the kids.