(For part 1 of this series, go here.)
Every home should have at least one shotgun dedicated to home defense.
This means that it should always be close at hand, whether you’re sitting in your living room watching TV late at night, or asleep in bed, or working in your garage. If your shotgun is too unwieldy to schlep around from room to room, then you can deputize your handgun as the portable one, and keep the shotgun handy in the bedroom. (And remember: all the necessary safeguards should be taken to prevent accidents.) Now let’s consider the options.
I’m going to break somewhat with tradition, here. Just about every person who talks about this subject thinks that the sine qua non for a home defense shotgun should be chambered in 12-gauge. I’m not one of them. Remember, firing a 12ga. shell loaded with 00 buckshot means that several .30-caliber pellets are going to be on their way — and while they will do yeoman service in perforating a goblin, they can also penetrate several layers of drywall — not a good thing if your kid’s bedroom is on the other side. Also, bearing in mind the “recoil” caveat for this series, I personally find the recoil of a 12-gauge somewhat excessive. (Aside: please refrain from telling me how your 120-lb wife has no problem with shooting your Remington 870, or how your 7-year-old kid does likewise. Not interested.) I’ve shot just about every kind of shotgun ever made, in all calibers, and I honestly don’t think the 12-gauge is for everyone, and especially if you want the shotgun to serve as everyone’s weapon in the house.
Likewise, most people think there’s something about the sound of a pump shotgun being “racked” (i.e. the slide being slid back and then forward to chamber a round) that creates some magical aura of fear. Well, sure it does — unless the goblin actually broke into your house to kill you, in which case all you’re doing by racking the shotgun is telling the scumbag that you’re awake, and where you are. I like the element of surprise, myself, and nothing creates trouble for a goblin’s breathing like a sudden, unanticipated shotgun blast coming out of the darkness at him. So here’s my recommendation for a primary home defense shotgun: the Mossberg SA-20 “Railed” model (with a 20″ barrel) is reliable and inexpensive, and looks as tacticool as all hell:
Note that the rail will allow you to mount a red-dot sight or flashlight on the barrel with ease. The SA-20 also comes in a shortened “Bantam Youth” model with a 24″ barrel, if your missus or teenage kid would want to use it:
I’ve only ever fired the SA-20’s big brother, the Mossberg 930 (12ga) and found it quite reasonable to shoot, but I bet the smaller chambering of the SA-20 will put a smile on your face. Come to think of it, I need a semi-auto shotgun… and oh, look! CheaperThanDirt has it for $450 and change.
You can spend more (a lot more) on a semi-auto shotgun (Benelli, Beretta, Browning, Winchester etc), but I’m not sure you need to, for a home defense piece.
Finally, we need to look at ammo for this little thing. I’m pretty sure I’d go for the #3 Buckshot, which fires 20 pellets rather than the smaller birdshot cartridges, which shoot more, but much smaller pellets. Granted, inside a typical room the shot is not going to spread much, if at all — but the larger pellets are still a better bet, I think.
As always, Reader comments are welcome.
Next: assault rifles.