Think Twice about Shotguns for Home Defense

shotgun for home defense

Shotguns suck for home defense

I know, I know there are going to be some comments about this post. For a lot of people, shotguns for home defense are either a love them or hate them proposition.

In my opinion, a shotgun is not a bad weapon for home defense. However, it's not necessarily the best.

We found a good video that talks about why a shotgun is not the best choice for home defense. The three main points are:

  • Ballistic capability
  • Ease of use
  • Maneuverability inside the home

The video makes good points about how either a pistol or rifle give you much better choice for ammunition that will defeat an attacker, especially an attacker with body armor. Check out this post on shotgun ballistics.

I know from my experience it is extremely easy to short stroke a pump shotgun. I saw many guys short stroke and jam a pump shotgun under stress. Now these are experienced shooters I am talking about too.

Finally we already have a post up about long gun retention. You have to be extremely careful inside a building not to have your long gun (shotgun included) taken away from you as you go around corners.

Take a look at the video. Let us know what you think in the comments.

While it isn't necessarily the best weapon for home defense, a shotgun is a good complement. Check out this handbook.


  1. Good points I have a 223 and a kimber both have lasers . you might talk about how to use the lazers properly people usually don’t understand that!

  2. How many common criminals (the ones that will typically burglarize the home) do you know that wear body armor? I mean, come on, this isn’t the streets of Falujah or Ramadi, I promise, I’ve been down both. The mere sound of a pump shotgun being put into action will scare a out 80% of would be criminals before they even see it…. What other weapon do you know of does that (that are legally available)?

    • At the maximum range inside a house, a load of #4 buck is going to put the guy down, body armor or not. If he is Godzilla, it is still going to have a negative impact on his functioning. The ranges involved are not long. A head shot will remove a sizable portion of the head, though I am not likely to recommend that. I use a .45 for most home defense scenarios. My wife handles the shotgun. They are complementary. If I have to step out the door, the .45 is holstered, and I pickup a shotgun or one of the rifles.

  3. If its about home defense in a real house, a shotgun is well worth considering and with 0000 buckshot! But a handgun also is necessary, because a shotgun could be too much. On the other hand, facing a bear with a handgun is a losing proposition.

    For apartments revolver is the best bet if several persons will have Access to this weapon. Consider a pistol if you are going to learn about handguns and shooting. Take any weapon seriously join a club and learn all about ownership and use of firearms.

  4. Interesting points you make. Some I agree with and others I do not. Simplicity, so many people choose to own every type of gun by many different manufacturers and this will cause problems and complicate any selection. If all your rifles are on the AR platform things are simple, if you have AR’s AK’s Sig’s and HK’S not so much. I don’t own any of the fore mentioned currently. Shotguns I just have cabinets of, Brownings all which simplifies things a lot. Still the shotgun isn’t my first choice for defence. As unpopular of a choice as it’s become I still prefer a handgun, the Sig P229 specifically. For every round I fire from a 12g I will spend thousands of 40 cal. And tens of thousands to every rifle round fired. Comfort and competency factor into selection more then any other considerations or it does to me anyway. Still you make a solid case. I will need to look at the possibility of adding an AR in the future

    • Pete regarding the AR are you sure? I don’t own one as initially it looked like an interesting platform but after investigation it seems too unreliable especially in such situations as home defense.

  5. Anyone that really knows CQB knows a shotgun inside a structure IS the way to go. A semi-auto is even better but if not, a tactical short barrel is next best. A shotgun will blow through any walls or other obstacles… and as for body armor… forget it because anyone wearing body armor that gets hit full on with .00 or worse a slug is going down and will be out of any fight. You hit someone at CQB range with a .12 gauge and they are toast.
    While other calibers like .223 and 5.56 will also go through basic walls and such, they are stoppable by body armor. Additionally, unless you have trained and know how to work corners and building doors and have practiced it, using that kind of weapon is just not prudent in CQB conditions.
    The choice for this kind of battle is a shotgun with the proper loads, again a semi-auto like a Benelli or Saiga .12 gauge, backed up by a semi-auto sidearm of at least 9mm, preferably a .45.

    • Dr. C L Fulton says:

      My REM-870 and SIG P220 are my choice. Have put a lot “00” and slugs through the 870 in qualification along with a few thousand rounds 45’s. Ret. Lt LEO.

  6. So what about something like a modified circuit judge? 2 1/2″ PDX or handgun home defense shells will certainly change anyone’s day @<15 yds. I wouldn't use a a solid ammo round in that case- too much adrenaline – too many uncertainties.
    Body Armor? A bit of a reach but let's say that's the case. The broader pattern from the bbs should range past the protection area.
    Those bbs traveling @ 110 fps….will certainly slow/stop an intruder especially to fire off another round…higher or lower.
    As far as a laser- I get the reverse trace but…combining it with a strobe light is a strong combination for success.
    Just my humble opinion….

  7. Chris Agius says:

    I can shoot accurately from the hip with my Mossberg 590AI. In a life or death scenario, I would not spare time to aim but rack and send a dose of buckshot in the right direction. Anything out to 25 yards is going to get a big hole from my first shot. That should settle the issue immediately. As for a rile round, I’d rather rather stake my life on the 7.62 NATO (.308) or the Soviet 7.62×39. I want to be sure that what I hit stays down. As for pistols, I think any hollow points from 9mm upwards, would make a good job.
    However, I still think that the distinct click-clack sound of my Mossberg being loaded, should be the first deterrent, before I cross that significant line of taking life.

  8. While a shotgun is good for home defense, it shouldn’t be your primary in my opinion. My .40 S&W is my preferred choice when my wife wakes me because she heard something (she can get a bit paranoid). It has a light/laser combo with pressure switch for the light so I can use short bursts of light when clearing my home. If it were multiple threats coming through my door, then my Remington 887 tactical would be my firearm of choice with my pistol as a secondary. My wife also has her Glock 26 next to the bed.

  9. Just having a gun and being proficient with it is a plus, shotgun, handgun, or rifle for home defense. Sure beats the guys who go grab a golf club when a bunch of thugs kick in their back door and invade their home. Lol

  10. What most forget is a shotgun tube left loaded for extended periods of time is prone to failure due to the spring becoming weak. Rifle and pistol mag stuns have overcome that with hight quality springs. It takes much longer to load that shotgun than a rifle or pistol


  1. […] we are not total fans of a shotgun for home defense (read about this here), a good one in trained hands does make a pretty good home defense […]

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