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A Reliable Home Defense Shotgun For $100

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What are the two most common gauges for shotguns right now? The 12 gauge and 20 gauge.

Sure, 32 gauge, 28 gauge, 10 gauge and even 8 gauge all exist, but when it comes down to it, the 12 gauge and the 20 gauge are the gold standard for shotguns. Why? Simply because they’re largely the only shotguns that people think they need.

To an extent, that is true. The 12 gauge is a military round and offers all the knockdown power in a shotgun that you will need. In a close-quarters situation, there really is no better self-defense weapon than a simple pump-action 12-gauge shotgun.

And the 20 gauge? It offers significantly less recoil than the 12 gauge, but also the stopping power equal to two .44 magnum rounds coming at you.

The 12 and the 20 gauges are extremely versatile, and the ammunition for both is relatively cheap.

Looking At An Often-Forgotten Shotgun

So, what should anyone consider a .410 bore shotgun? After all, many people see the 20 gauge as the perfect entry-level shotgun, as well as an excellent skeet or trap round and a good self-defense round for those who can’t handle the more powerful recoil of the 12 gauge.

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The .410 shotgun is not a gun that is a necessity for a survivalist or prepper.  If you own a 12 and a 20 gauge, your bases are pretty much covered. Nonetheless, the .410 is still a “fun round” that will make a very cheap and enjoyable addition to your gun collection.

First of all, there is no better beginner round than the .410 when it comes to shotguns. Yes, the 20 gauge and sometimes the 28 gauge hold the reputation for being the best beginner round. But if you are training your children to shoot, the .410 is the perfect entry level shotgun. Keep in mind that for a fully grown adult, the 20 gauge doesn’t offer bad recoil. But that recoil is going to seem significantly higher to a child. The .410 recoil won’t even feel bad for a child who is just beginning to shoot.

Next, the .410 definitely gets the job done when it comes to small upland birds like quail and grouse. While the 20 gauge is typically used for these kinds of birds, the .410 will drop them with one shot and without making a mess of the meat, almost guaranteed. The .410 is the perfect grouse or quail shotgun.

Other Benefits Of The .410

If you really want to challenge yourself in skeet and trap shooting, go with the .410. The .410 has less of a scatter pattern than the 12 and 20 gauges, meaning that you have to really be aiming at what you plan to shoot. If you consider yourself proficient with the 12 and/or 20 gauge at skeet and trap, challenge yourself and try your hand with the .410. It’s definitely fun.

Did you know that .410s are cheap — as in extremely cheap? New or good condition used .410s can be bought for around $100 or less. Granted, these will be single shot, breech-loading shotguns, but that’s all you would really need in a .410 as well.

Other options for a .410 shotgun include Mossberg 500 home-defense shotguns, which really are good options for someone who doesn’t even like the recoil of the 20 gauge. Many gunowners discard .410s as not being decent home-defense rounds, but in true close quarters, this simply isn’t true. An assailant who gets shot with a .410 at close range will know they’ve been shot.

There are also a few double-action revolvers, such as the Taurus Judge and the Smith & Wesson Governor, which shoot .410s and .45 LCs. Many consider these revolvers to be some of the best home defense weapons that are currently available.

The .410 still holds a place in our gun culture today. It may not be as important to own as a 12 or 20 gauge, but for $100 bucks, you’ll have a lot of fun and one of the perfect guns available for teaching your young kids to shoot.

Do you have any tips for using .410s? Share them in the section below:

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  1. Not sure where you are getting your info. Sure like to find some of these 410s under a hundred bucks. Last one I bought was a Mossberg pump from WalMart, and it was still close to $300. Not to mention ammo for 410s is still very expensive. As for a beginners gun, you are seriously mis-informed. While you are correct about recoil, unless one is shooting squirrels or cottontails, you don’t “aim” a shotgun. From a wingshooting perspective, a 410 is an experts’s gun, not a beginner’s. Oh, and just because the military USES the 12 ga, does NOT mean it is a military round. Not trying to not-pick, but I really question the accuracy of much of what you put in this article.

    • I was wondering what he was talking about as well so I did a web search on the subject of Military grade 12 Gauge,. Well Ir does exist here’s a link _

    • Thanks for the comment, Jim. We did find .410 shotguns for right at $100. They’re not everywhere, but they’re out there. Elsewhere, they may be closer to $150. Thanks for the comment!

    • I bought my .410 at Bi-Mart for $89.95 made by New England Firearms. It is made in the USA, had decent reviews and it has “earned it’s keep” getting rid of starlings, pigeons, coyotes and raccoons. I buy my ammo at Bi-Mart when it goes on sale.

    • I think the 410 is an excellent beginner gun myself. Now keeping in mind it that wing shooting is not a beginner task, it’s probably not gonna work out for and average 10 year old to grouse hunting with. Now that being said it’s an excellent gun to teach children to shoot and hunt squirrel, rabbit, and deer. While shells are a bit more than 20 ro 12 because of popularity. My boys 8 and 10 both hunt with 410s small game and deer. I started out some 22 years ago with the same 410 my 10 year old shoots now. Back then in ohio you could not hunt deer with 410 they claimed not enough knock down power, so my dad bought me an H&R 20 gauge ” deer slayer “, I remember leaving the range with a purple shoulder. To a 9 year old it was punishing. So I believe that 410 is great starter gun for kids and smaller adults and teenagers because of recoil, adaptability, and weight. And yes if you frequent the small gun shops here in southern ohio you can find really nice single shot 410s for around a hundred bucks. Nice article good read thanks.

  2. Jim,
    I have been patiently looking for an inexpensive home defense shotgun. My patience paid off last weekend when I found a closeout on a H&R Pardner (made in China by Remington) for $141. I read many pros and 1 constant negative – it kicks like a mule! I will have to add $10 for my local FFL fee. There was another shotgun that was very similar and not much more.

  3. Jim, I suggest you go back and re-read the article. He refers to “aiming” in regard to skeet and trap shooting, and states there more of a challenge using the 410 (meaning it’s not a beginner’s gun for that purpose). Beginner’s gun is how he is referring to it with regard to recoil.

  4. .410 ammo is not cheap! Not a round you just go out to plink with, as it can be cost prohibitive! Keep that in mind before you purchase a .410.

  5. This is a good article. Is a .410 the only shotgun you should buy? No. But is it one that you should still own? Absolutely yes!

    As the author of this article states, the .410 is an excellent beginners gun for kids in terms of recoil, but also a challenge even for skeet shooting. And as the author says, your bases are covered with a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge, but a .410 is still a fun gun to have.

    Also, in response to Jim, almost any new pump action shotgun is going to cost more money than $100, but this article is referring to single shots. I have bought a single shot .410 for $80, and it was in good condition.

    Also look at the Taurus Judge or the Smith & Wesson Governor, I’d like to see an article about either or both of those sometimes. Good info!

  6. Jim, your criticisms are invalid. Did you actually read the article?

    1. You asked where you can find a hundred dollar 410, and then say that you bought a 410 PUMP for $300: the author says, “granted, these will be single shot, breech loading shotguns”…..I have seen plenty of .410 breech loaders for $100. Just look on gunbroker.

    2. The author never says the .410 is a beginners gun for accuracy, he even says it’s a challenge at skeet and trap, contrary to your criticism. Also, he’s referringto beginners shotgun when it comes to recoil.

    3. There are military grade rounds for a 12 gauge, they are more expensive but they’re for sale. And by saying the 12 gauge is a military round, I think he is referring to the fact that it is used by the military, which is accurate.

    Good read overall, I really enjoy the articles on this site, but if you’re going to criticize the articles than actually read the article thoroughly and have valid criticisms.

    • 4. Surely, store-bought .410 ammo may be a little expensive. But every prepper should reload and a box of brass shells is a valid investment, for they last almost forever and the .410 is the exact “half” of the 12ga in both powder and ammo. I can make black powder shells here which are actually cheaper than a .22lr.

  7. .410 ammo is expensive and really doesn’t have the stopping power I would want for family protection. It is a good starter for younger shooters but the .12 gauge is what stops it all. Mossberg makes the Maverick 88 and it comes with a hunting barrel and an assault barrel. It has a very reasonable price and is one I carry with me when I am out in the woods. There are more out there that are very reasonably priced and as good as the higher priced models. The 12 is my favorite overall weapon of protection and even with birdshot you can take down an attacker in your home at close range. If you are looking to save money look into buying used but beware of weaponry that will require more money to fix them.

  8. This was a good article, and many of the comments made a valid, the only thing I want to add to this conversation is that there are a couple of .410s that can also .45 acp. You are not going to find the for $100 but if you are really inyetested in getting a .410 yu might want to check them out. They will add an addition deminsion to your collection and shooting.

  9. Rossi Combo – .410 & 22 barrels – single shot breech loader $130 Big 5 or Walmart. I have bought all 3 of my kids (2 girls) these and they love them.
    I love the .410 for an all around gun and have even used a 410 slug to bag a Javelina a long time ago in Texas.
    I do have to admit the ammo is more expensive than portrayed but do some shopping and be patient and websites will bulk it pretty cheap.
    Home defense, best there is. 3 rounds – #4 shot, Buck, and 410 slug. all will work around the house.

  10. I don’t know about now, but 1 year ago right before the holiday season there was a period of about 2 weeks in which a 12 GA. single-shot Biakal brand was on sale for 89 bucks at Big 5 Sporting Goods. This year they will probably be 99-to-110 dollars. That’s still cheap for a new 12 GA single-shot.

  11. As a survival gun , I rate the 410 at the top of the list. It will take all. Yup all ,north american game. first you don’t have to shoot 7 shot all the time. Small game great. Bigger game shoot bigger shot. Shooting at deer? Use buckshot or a slug. A 410 with a high brass slug. Is a devastating thing and even with a smooth bore will group tight at 100 yards. With lots of energy. I have one and I have a variety of ammo. And wouldent trade it

  12. Try to find the elusive 16 gauge. My cannon is smaller than a 12 with a bigger kick. Thinking about getting a 12 because ammo is so expensive.

  13. Think about it guys…

    .410 vs 12 Gauge

    Same pellet size
    Same pellet velocity

    Only difference is number of pellets.

    The .410 will still do plenty of damage!!

  14. The way I see it, if you want to “stop” a home invader, you can not do better than a Breneke solid 12 bore, in a pump action shotgun. I use a .45 Colt .45 as back-up. Just another thing, don’t play Hollywood, and shoot from the hip. Mount the shotgun properly, and aim!

  15. Have a H&R single shot 12g. Looking to try an get a subgauge insert. Make the 12 a 410 an shoot at squirrels. 22lr is harder to locate than 410’s. Then buy a 12 pump maybe a Maverick Wal-Mart sells them reasonably imo.
    My H&R 12 I was gifted to as a teen maybe 15. It was put aside an if I wanted to use it I had to ask for it. Then “monitored” by an adult. 18 went in the Army. When I got out I got it an moved out of state. Its been mostly put in a safe for several years. Used sparingly, an seeing a subgauge insert I will let my wife an daughter shoot it, an maybe get some squirrels. So imo get a 12 & a insert. An have at it! 🙂

  16. hi wanting to by thish 4 10

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