Gun World - - Contents -

When it comes to home de­fense, or just de­fense in gen­eral, there are many ways to go. For many, some type of hand­gun is their pri­mary source. Oth­ers choose some­thing in the mod­ern sport­ing ri­fle (MSR) fam­ily, such as an AR-styled carbine. I think that as long as you prac­tice and train reg­u­larly with any firearm, it can be used for self-de­fense. My per­sonal pref­er­ence for a pri­mary home-de­fense weapon is the shot­gun. Noth­ing says, “Get out of my house!” like a 12-gauge shot­gun.


My par­tic­u­lar de­fen­sive shot­gun is a mod­i­fied Rem­ing­ton 870 Ex­press. I re­placed the fac­tory bar­rel with an 18.5-inch bar­rel, which is avail­able at most big box stores. I also re­moved the fac­tory butt­stock in fa­vor of a six-po­si­tion, col­lapsi­ble stock sim­i­lar to one you might find on most com­mon MSRs. I also added an ex­tended mag­a­zine tube to give me room for an ad­di­tional three shells, for a to­tal of eight over­all. I also added a butt­stock shot­shell am­mu­ni­tion car­rier for an ad­di­tional six rounds, just to give an added ad­van­tage.

If you don’t want to go through the trou­ble of mod­i­fy­ing your old hunt­ing shot­gun, many firearm man­u­fac­tur­ers, such as Moss­berg, Rem­ing­ton and Benelli, sell ready-made, pur­pose­built, tac­ti­cal shot­guns.


To go the ex­tra step, there are some other add-ons to think about. Adding some type of light­ing sys­tem is a good con­sid­er­a­tion. Un­like us­ing a hand­held flash­light with a pistol, us­ing one with a shot­gun can be un­wieldly. It’s best to keep both hands on a shot­gun when ma­neu­ver­ing, as well as when fir­ing.

Com­pa­nies such as Stream­light and Orion make lights that attach to a Pi­catinny rail—if your shot­gun has one. If not, you can opt for a light and a mount that attach to the mag­a­zine tube of the shot­gun. If you go this route, be sure not to over­tighten the mount and squeeze the tube too hard, be­cause it might cause shells to get caught up.

I own the Stream­light TRL-1 HL. At 800 lu­mens, it will def­i­nitely light up your threat. You might also check out the Sure­Fire Ded­i­cated Shot­gun Forend; the light is in­ter­nal to the fore­arm that you would re­place on your shot­gun. For an ex­tra mea­sure, you can also add ghost ring sights or elec­tronic sights, such as an EOTech XPS2, Aim­point Mi­cro or a Vor­tex Ra­zor for quicker threat ac­qui­si­tion.


Se­lect your am­mu­ni­tion wisely. While your 12-gauge tar­get ammo will stop an at­tack, it might not be the best de­fen­sive ammo to use. Us­ing 00 Buck is a good choice for most ap­pli­ca­tions. There is not much over-pen­e­tra­tion; and, if you should miss, it is un­likely to pen­e­trate your neigh­bor’s zero-lot-line home. It still pro­vides nine to 12 .32-cal­iber lead pel­lets—mov­ing at more than 1,300 fps. I would not want to be on the re­ceiv­ing end of that.


When us­ing a shot­gun for de­fense, there are sev­eral con­sid­er­a­tions for move­ment while in your home.

When clear­ing cor­ners, you would use a tac­tic sim­i­lar to the one you would use with an MSR. You want to “pie” around cor­ners. Limit your ex­po­sure, and do not ex­tend the bar­rel past the cor­ner. Slowly swing your body away from the cor­ner-side wall so you can see around the cor­ner with­out ex­pos­ing your­self to danger.

Keep in mind that the in­te­rior walls on a home pro­vide lit­tle to no cover (that is, pro­tec­tion from in­com­ing fire); only con­ceal­ment. If pos­si­ble, avoid shin­ing your light, be­cause it gives away your po­si­tion to in­trud­ers. Ex­tend­ing the bar­rel past the wall with­out be­ing able to see could pro­vide an as­sailant with the abil­ity to gain con­trol of the bar­rel. Fi­nally, once you have cleared a cor­ner, con­tinue to move for­ward cau­tiously to clear the remainder of your house.


As a caveat to the above, if you are not mov­ing through your house to se­cure loved ones, re­main at a strong point and

call 911. Mov­ing through your home in an un­cer­tain sit­u­a­tion in­vites un­nec­es­sary danger.

If you are mov­ing to loved ones, once you get to them, make that your strong point. Get be­hind cover and wait for help. Room­clear­ing and of­fen­sive ma­neu­ver­ing through your home al­lows for a more-even play­ing field for in­trud­ers. Let them come to you. Warn them away if you must, but do it from a po­si­tion you are se­cure in.

I would also add the fol­low­ing: Do not risk your life to res­cue a pet. While it might be a big part of your fam­ily, your life is more im­por­tant. Also, if you are se­cure, don’t come out un­til you know au­thor­i­ties are there. Re­main on the line with 911 and ask for con­fir­ma­tion that law en­force­ment has ar­rived. De­scribe your­self so as not to be mis­taken for the in­truder.


The shot­gun is a tool. Like any tool, it is only as good as the crafts­man who wields it. This is not some­thing you want to buy, load it with ammo and then place it in the cor­ner for that ter­ri­ble day you need it. It re­quires train­ing and an un­der­stand­ing of its ca­pa­bil­i­ties and con­straints.

As al­ways, seek out a qual­i­fied pro­fes­sional for train­ing. Prac­tice with your ammo, see what it will do, how it pat­terns, and what it will and won’t pen­e­trate. It will be loud—all the more so in a con­fined space. And, when used cor­rectly, a shot­gun will stop a threat in their tracks and make them wish they had gone to your neigh­bor’s gun-free zone. GW


It’s un­likely you need to “kit up” with all this gear, but it never hurts to have it on hand. Se­lect­ing the right gear and weaponry for a fight is a task no per­son will re­gret if the time ever comes when they are needed.

There is a great dif­fer­ence be­tween 00 Buck (top group) and #7 shot (bot­tom group) for pel­let sizes and ef­fects on a threat. While both have their merit, the 00 Buck will pen­e­trate bet­ter. Both groups rep­re­sent five shots at 15 yards.

When ex­e­cut­ing cor­ners, you have to be care­ful not to ex­pose your­self to the threat. This is the se­quence in “slic­ing the pie” or “pie-ing” a cor­ner. As you move through the se­quence,make sure you do not ex­pose the bar­rel of your gun past the cor­ner wall and give your­self away. And only use lights as alast re­sort.

This is a sam­pling of what you will find in­side your shot­gun rounds: #7 shot (right) and 00 Buck (left).

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