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Myths And Realities Of Shotguns For Home Defense

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Shotguns are one of the most popular weapons for home defense, but they’re also one of the most misunderstood. Let’s look at a few myths and realities of them:


1. The Pump Action Will Always Drive People Away.

When an intruder hears the classic sound of the pump action, they will likely recognize it and possibly think twice. But that doesn’t mean that they will turn and run away. If an intruder is desperate enough, it’s very unlikely that the sound of a pump action will do much to deter them. They, too, likely are armed. The only thing that might make them flee is when they’re staring down the business end of a shotgun.

2. It’s Impossible to Miss.

Point and shoot, and you’ll hit anything in front of your shotgun’s barrel, right? Wrong. It is one of the biggest myths that exists about shotguns — and primarily only subsists in some people’s minds because of what they see in the movies. You still have to aim when you shoot a shotgun, especially when things are up close and personal. The closer the target, the smaller the pattern will be.

3. A 20 Gauge Is Not Powerful Enough.

When shotguns come to mind, people typically think of 12 gauges. To this end, they figure that a 20-gauge shotgun, another common shotgun round, is too underpowered. This is simply not true.

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While it is absolutely correct that a 12 gauge is more powerful than a 20 gauge, a 20 gauge still has a lot of power to it (roughly equal to two .44 Magnums at the same time).

4. It Only Takes One Shot to End the Fight.

shotgun for home defenseSometimes, yes. But it’s never guaranteed that an intruder is going to be stopped dead in their tracks with a single slug or buckshot in their gut. If an attacker is high on drugs, there’s a significantly higher chance that you’ll have to rack in another round and fire again. Take note: Use a semi-auto or pump-action shotgun rather than a single or double barrel.


1. Shotguns Are Excellent Home Defense Weapons.

One could make an effective case that a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot rounds is the most effective weapon for home defense currently available to the average American. While you have to be careful not to be susceptible to the myths we have just discussed, it’s hard to argue against the lethality of a 12 gauge in a close-quarters defensive situation.

2. The 20 Gauge Is a Better Choice for Smaller-Statured People.

If you can shoot a 12 gauge comfortably, then by all means use a 12 gauge. But if the recoil of that 12 gives you too much of a kick to your shoulder, then there’s no shame in admitting so.  Women and people who are small in stature will often turn to the 20 gauge as an alternative.  While the 20 gauge isn’t quite as powerful as the more classic 12, it still delivers a lot of knockdown power and offers less recoil. The only thing to watch out for is the weight of the shotgun; a 20-gauge shotgun with half of the weight of a 12 gauge might have more recoil.

3. Buckshot Is More Effective Than Birdshot.

Contrary to what many people believe, birdshot can and will travel through your walls. But penetration aside, buckshot will almost always be more effective than birdshot in a defensive situation. A handful of pellets will do more damage to human flesh than hundreds of significantly smaller ones.

All in all, shotguns make for excellent home defense weapons and may mean the difference between life and death if you ever find yourself in such a scenario.

What would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

Most Shotguns In Homes Are NOT Suitable For Defense. Read More Here.

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  1. I’m an advocate of taking the middle road with a #2 shot if you’re in a situation with the potential for friendlies behind your target. It has sufficient penetration at indoor home defense situations and also mitigates some of the concern of over-penetration (pictures of ballistics gel shots at )

    But I totally agree, birdshot can plow through an indoor wall pretty quickly. So, it’s critical to know what’s behind your target and take careful aim. Tough to do in a quickly moving break-in without practice.

  2. The sound of racking a shell might scare the perp away, but it also tells him where you are.

  3. I have a 36″ cattle prod. It will get 2000 lbs on its feet. It will get 250 lbs off its feet. Lol

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