(Bugout.news) Most of us don’t ever want to face a situation where we will have to defend ourselves or our family through the use of deadly force. But the fact is, in a world that is increasingly becoming more dangerous and unstable by the year, more of us face just this kind of situation every year.
One of the weapons of choice for close-range self-defense is the shotgun, but choosing which gauge and what kind of ammo to use is not as easy as it may seem. There are a number of misconceptions, for example, of how shotguns actually function to fill a large notebook. Statements like, “Use a shotgun because you can’t miss,” and “My 12 gauge will plaster a wall,” are just plain wrong. Add in what Hollywood puts out and the picture becomes even more misleading.
You can very easily miss a target with a shotgun, for the record, and a shotgun pattern only covers a small portion of a wall at short distance. Still, shotguns remain excellent weapons of choice for home defense, camp or ranch defense, or really, anywhere concealment is not a concern.
“The point is simple–proper selection of a fighting shotgun and effective ammunition, combined with training, give the defensive shooter one of the most devastating firearms possible,” Guns and Ammo reported.
Choke, pellet distribution and gauges
There is at least some uses for any shotgun between 10 and 20 gauge, which means that 10, 12, 16, and 20 gauge all have some form of buckshot load available. The best of these choices far and away is the 12 gauge, because there are dozens of buckshot gauges for this shell. 10 gauge shotguns loaded with buckshot are generally large, heavy and recoil very hard, making them intimidating to use.
“Also, for about the last 10 years, the American ammunition industry has responded to a law enforcement request for shotgun loads with less recoil. At the same time, it has made most of these 12-gauge loads in such a way that they also shoot much tighter patterns,” Guns and Ammo noted.
The odds-on favorite combat load for the 12 gauge is the “00” Buck. These pellets are about .33 caliber and weigh about 53 grains each, and you can get as many as 12 of them in a 2 3/4-inch “short magnum” shell. Standard and low recoil loads use either eight or nine pellets, making this about the best all-around choice.
As for your actual shotgun, as short a barrel as possible is best. That’s not due to a short-barreled shotgun having any particular ballistic advantage but because it handles better in confined areas like hallways or in the woods. The legal minimum length is 18 inches, but overall the gun cannot be less than 26 inches.
As for choke, improved-cylinder or even modified chokes work well with buckshot. They tighten up your pattern somewhat and thereby extend the shotgun’s effective range. If you can get your scattergun with a choke in a shorter barrel, you should do so.
Your self-defense shotgun should also have the ability to hold as much ammo as possible; eight rounds is ideal (as opposed to the standard three-rounds for most pump-action shotguns). And while a blued shotgun with a wooden stock works just as well as a blacked-out tactical shotgun, the latter can be better in a combat situation, making it lower-observable and less likely to reflect light.
Adjustable pistol-grip stocks can provide you with much better pump action control, but ultimately stock type and length should be what feels comfortable to you. Also, can opt for an automatic model rather than a pump-action, but the bottom line is it has to work and you have to be effective when using it.
Which brings us to the final point: Practice, practice, practice. In a real-life situation when you have to draw down on another human being, you will have to react quickly and the best way to do that – and be effective – is to be as familiar as possible with your shotgun of choice.
Try different types of ammo loads, test various patterns and even change out barrels with a different choke to see which is more effective.
Bugout.news is part of the USA Features Media network.