Proficiency will always trump equipment, however you should always select the best tool for the job
Mossberg 940 Tactical shotgun
There are plenty of opinions on what makes the ‘best’ home defense weapon. Many of these ideas are routed in individual bias, and it’s important to look objectively at what you wish to accomplish. A carpenter doesn’t just carry a hammer, and neither should you rely on one tool to accomplish everything. In my opinion, a 4” double action revolver or a shotgun is the best place to start for newer shooters looking at fixed home defense. However even these basic tools require practice and maintenance. Ironically, I also suggest quality shotguns for experienced and well trained defenders as well. Why? As has been stated before the ‘battle rifle’ is the queen of the battlefield however the shotgun is the king of the castle. In close range (20 yards and in, or up to 35 yards with proper ammunition) there is no match for it’s effectiveness.
First, evaluate what you are trying to accomplish. There is a big difference between self defense walking late at night from the office to the car and defending yourself inside your home. The shotgun, for the typical home defender, shines in the role of fixed home defense. There are several reasons for this, starting with energy. A shotgun shell has more energy per shot to stop an attacker than most other available firearm options. This energy is essential in two main ways - it stops the attacker more quickly with a center mass hit, and consequently requires fewer rounds to stop. Next, shotguns are readily available in all 50 states - and relatively inexpensive. A hunting shotgun can be easily modified for defensive purposes, and importantly switch back for hunting. As such I believe shotguns will be one of the last guns that are banned. Additionally, ammunition is abundant. Speaking of ammunition, the shotgun can be loaded with different projectiles to fit your needs from birdshot for training (or hunting birds) through buckshot or slugs for large game or defensive needs.
Shotguns are not magic wands however, and required training and proper ammunition selection. A slide (or pump) action shotgun is a very rugged, solid tool that requires little maintenance and will eat almost any proper size shell. The number one stoppage in a slide action is user error - failing to move the slide fully to the rear before sliding it forward again. These are not dainty pieces, and require aggressive handling to function well. In years past, semi-automatic shotguns used to be shunned as less reliable however in recent years I have found the new breed to be exceptionally dependable. One such example is the Mossberg 940 Tactical pictured; the image shows the wide variety of shells I put through this gun on it’s first outing. It fed and fired everything I put in the tube, from 50+ year old waxed cardboard shells to light birdshot to heavy slugs and everything in between. In fact, I fired the gun so much I worked the barrel clamp with flashlight almost off the end of the barrel!
Shotguns are an excellent choice for home defense, however they are not always the best or first option. As much as I espouse the qualities of the shotgun and I have one readily available for home defense, it’s not the gun closest to me when I’m sleeping.
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Posted: to First Circle News on Mon, Jul 17, 2023
Updated: Wed, Aug 30, 2023