Best Shotgun for Home Defense

scottness

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 18, 2009
1,370
3
Room 101
Ok, looking for feedback on good shotguns to keep in the house. I hate handguns. We've had a lot of break-ins in the neighborhood lately and I'm looking at getting an intimidating looking number that is easy to wield.

This is not a "Should I get a shotgun" thread or a debate on whether or not I should even have a firearm. That discussion probably belongs in PRSI. This is a "Best Shotgun" thread. Thanks!
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,743
141
Sawed off shotgun, you could likely handle it one handed if you're strong enough.
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
15,925
1
Portland, OR
Sawed off shotgun, you could likely handle it one handed if you're strong enough.
Except that it's illegal.

A good choice is based on your requirements of price/usability. If you don't plan on using it for any reason other than home defense, then get a cheap Mossberg (500 series) or the like. Get a 12 ga. pump shotgun. Pump shotguns are cheaper than automatic, plus you have the added bonus of a very intimidating sound of a shell being loaded into the breech when you pump it. They make "home defense" versions, which really just means a shorter barrel (though still legal) than a hunting shotgun. Some brands have a little stabby-nobby on the end that doubles as a vent to control rise (a shorter barrel will have more kick) and an effective prodder (see attachment). They also have a pistol grip in place of a stock since speed is more important than accuracy.

One thing to note, make sure you have a safe or someplace safe to store it. While you want it to be accessible, you're not likely to be at home 24/7. If (heaven forbid) someone breaks into your home while you're not there, you don't want to put an unregistered weapon into their hands.

In the end, a $200 shotgun will be just as effective as a $600 shotgun.
 

Attachments

Hmac

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2007
2,128
2
Midwest USA
There are a number of such solutions, but generally you want something that will handle quickly. Best would be a pump-action 12 gauge with as short a barrel as you can get (don't saw it off) and a pistol grip. Mossberg makes such a weapon, but there are pistol-grip attachments for most such shotguns such as the Remington 870. Your best bet is to go to your local gun store and ask THEM, as well as handle the various such weapons they have.

DO NOT fail to take the thing out to the range and practice with it. A pistol-gripped 12 gauge is not a particularly intuitive weapon to handle. And just as important as HOW to shoot it is making sure you know WHEN to shoot it. The legality of using a firearm for self-defense is tricky landscape and varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
15,925
1
Portland, OR
And just as important as HOW to shoot it is making sure you know WHEN to shoot it. The legality of using a firearm for self-defense is tricky landscape and varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
This is excellent advice.

In North Carolina one thing you learn about conceal/carry is the unintuitive notion that shooting someone INSIDE your home (unless you believe and can PROVE that your life is in immediate danger) is totally illegal and will land you in a lot of hot water. Logically I understand the reasoning (shooting a spouse and claiming you thought it was an intruder), but in legitimate circumstances you aren't necessarily going to think "ask questions first, shoot later". Even more strangely, it's "OK" to shoot someone through your door if they are breaking in. :confused:

So, as noted by Hmac, be sure to talk to your local police and find out what your rights are so you can stay on the correct side of the law in protecting your family and your property.
 

citizenzen

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2010
1,433
11,628
We've had a lot of break-ins in the neighborhood lately and I'm looking at getting an intimidating looking number that is easy to wield.
Dude, roughly where do you live? That sounds like a good neighborhood to move away from when your solution is wielding a shotgun.

And to think that I try to "intimidate" the neighbors with my immaculately trimmed lawn.

Different strokes...
 

Chaszmyr

macrumors 601
Aug 9, 2002
4,265
76
ANY shotgun will look intimidating if it's being pointed at you. However, as others have suggested, you should be sure to thoroughly check applicable laws before deciding to purchase a shotgun for home defense. I know that safety is the first priority, but in some places shooting an intruder with a shotgun will get you brought up on murder charges.
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
15,925
1
Portland, OR
No it's not. It just becomes an NFA item which requires an application and a $200 tax stamp.
It isn't?

Where I live it is.
North Carolina = It is unlawful to manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, or acquire a fully automatic firearm, a short-barrel rifle or shotgun, or certain other firearms; or to manufacture, sell, give away, or possess machine guns, sub-machine guns, or other like weapons, except in limited circumstances.
Where he lives it is.
Hawaii = Since July 1, 1992, an assault pistol cannot be brought into Hawaii and, if legally owned before that date, can only be transferred to a licensed dealer or a county chief of police. Possession, sale, or transfer of an automatic firearm or a short barrel rifle or shotgun is prohibited. It is unlawful to possess or sell a handgun made of zinc alloy with a melting temperature of less than 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
 

jzuena

macrumors 6502a
Feb 21, 2007
997
31
Lexington, MA, USA
Pump shotguns are cheaper than automatic, plus you have the added bonus of a very intimidating sound of a shell being loaded into the breech when you pump it.
Semi-automatics make the exact same distinctive sound when you load a round with the operating handle! They are more work to disassemble & clean (not much more) but do have a little less kick due to some of the gas being used to chamber the next round. I agree a pump is sufficient for a self-defense gun, but if your adrenaline is pumping when an intruder breaks in there is one less thing to think about between shots (if needed). The pumps I have used had a little button that you press to allow the pump to move back. If you forget about the button you might think the gun has jammed. But this goes back to practicing on the range with your gun to make sure you know how to use it.
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
15,925
1
Portland, OR
Semi-automatics make the exact same distinctive sound when you load a round with the operating handle!
Hmm.. true, but at least with a pump I'm already in firing position, as opposed to having to either roll the shotgun over to prime it with my weak hand, or switch hands to use my strong hand.

It's legal in NC, though. This explains it pretty well: http://www.mp5.net/info/sbsconr.htm
I think that's pretty out of date. Anything under 18" is illegal in NC. See the state laws here (PDF).

14-288.8.(c)(3) said:
(3) Any firearm capable of fully automatic fire, any shotgun with a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length or an overall length of less than 26 inches, any rifle with a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length or an overall length of less than 26 inches, any muffler or silencer for any firearm, whether or not such firearm is included within this definition. For the purposes of this section, rifle is defined as a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder;
I believe they consider it a Weapon Of Mass Destruction.
 

OutThere

macrumors 603
Dec 19, 2002
5,730
0
NYC
Whatever you get, get something you can mount a tactical light on. Don't want to shoot your wife or dog in the dark. :eek:

Also keep that barrel short. A long barrel at short range means someone can smack it out of the way and grab the gun.
 

63dot

macrumors 603
Jun 12, 2006
5,271
339
norcal
There are a number of such solutions, but generally you want something that will handle quickly. Best would be a pump-action 12 gauge with as short a barrel as you can get (don't saw it off) and a pistol grip. Mossberg makes such a weapon, but there are pistol-grip attachments for most such shotguns such as the Remington 870. Your best bet is to go to your local gun store and ask THEM, as well as handle the various such weapons they have.

DO NOT fail to take the thing out to the range and practice with it. A pistol-gripped 12 gauge is not a particularly intuitive weapon to handle. And just as important as HOW to shoot it is making sure you know WHEN to shoot it. The legality of using a firearm for self-defense is tricky landscape and varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
About 4 years ago, I worked a PT job as a gun salesman and the states really do vary. My state allows for a pretty short shotgun sold right off the shelf and I wish I could put a screenshot in here but that would be inappropriate for a Mac forum with underage kids here.

They looked illegal, had parts on them that resembled hip hop culture, but we were the biggest small arms dealer in the US for over the counter sales. What scared me the most were some of the people, who were obviously gang affiliated, who bought these things.

If they clear the background check, we sold the gun. I was often the only salesman on the floor old enough to sell the guns on many shifts, so I got stuck there even though I was no fan of guns, especially the short shotguns. I was a law student then and I knew they had the constitutional right if their background was clean enough. Too many times, about two or three times a week, I hear about a gang shooting and many times the offender had the gun crime as their first felony or crime of any sort. So much for background checks, yet it's still prudent.

I didn't have any issues selling the "regular" shotguns and we usually sold those to older folk who were hunters, not young gangbangers or gangbanger wanna-be types.

There is a part of me, who is pro gun anyway, who thinks that if there are that many gangbangers with pistols and shorter shotguns (easy and light enough to maneuver yet probably too small to hide behind a jacket) that agrees with having home protection. It's an unfortunate arms race in many bad neighborhoods.
 

mattwolfmatt

macrumors 65816
Jun 7, 2008
1,022
25
Dude, roughly where do you live? That sounds like a good neighborhood to move away from when your solution is wielding a shotgun.

And to think that I try to "intimidate" the neighbors with my immaculately trimmed lawn.

Different strokes...
Yeah, I know you don't this to turn into a gun rights issue, but, um, maybe if the solution is "buy a shotgun", then the problem is pretty big. Do you really think, if someone breaks in, and they see your shotgun, they're going to turn around and leave? I would think they might start shooting (fearful for their life.)

I'd save my few hundred bucks and move. If you're on macrumors, you must have some cash - enough for a computer, at least.
 

63dot

macrumors 603
Jun 12, 2006
5,271
339
norcal
Dude, roughly where do you live? That sounds like a good neighborhood to move away from when your solution is wielding a shotgun.

And to think that I try to "intimidate" the neighbors with my immaculately trimmed lawn.

Different strokes...
Maybe the OP can't afford to move away to a safer area. An increasingly, gang crimes (along with drive bys and break ins) are coming to suburban neighborhoods, too. Gangs are more now equal opportunity employers and are color blind and have successfully brought in youths of ethnic groups once not affiliated with the two major gangs that control violent gangs here.

At least in California, the gang phenomenon is too large to ignore. I don't know about other states, but the dynamics of where we are makes it impossible for the cops to control the situation. And now, many counties have to cut back police staff in this recession.

I would hate to think the violent criminals, most affilitated with gangs and drug sales, are in Hawaii now.
 

StruckANerve

macrumors 6502
Dec 31, 2008
392
0
Rio Rancho, NM
Yeah, I know you don't this to turn into a gun rights issue, but, um, maybe if the solution is "buy a shotgun", then the problem is pretty big. Do you really think, if someone breaks in, and they see your shotgun, they're going to turn around and leave? I would think they might start shooting (fearful for their life.)

I'd save my few hundred bucks and move. If you're on macrumors, you must have some cash - enough for a computer, at least.
Most of the time they will turn around and leave if faced with resistance. Criminals are cowards.
 

mcrain

macrumors 68000
Feb 8, 2002
1,768
11
Illinois
You might want to look into a collapsable stock as well.

Although because of the need for a safe, keeping the weapon unloaded or with a lock if kids are around, and the general risks associated with having a weapon within easy reach, you might want to consider some other alternatives.

Have you looked into a taser, pepper sprays, alarm systems, etc...

I keep a very sharp sword handy. It looks like decoration, but I guarantee you in the dark, in my own home, you wouldn't want to be an intruder. Plus, if I take off someone's hand or even kill them, due to the range, I'm almost guaranteed a self-defense claim.
 

Desertrat

macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2003
2
706
Terlingua, Texas
For the money, a plain-vanilla Remington 870 pump in 12-gauge is plenty good. A good used version will be just as reliable as a brand new one.

Avoid the pistol grip add-ons like the plague. Those work best from behind an Internet keyboard.

There are actually-useful aftermarket options. Probably the best is the changing of the magazine tube to a longer one, providing more capacity. That's a sort of "In case of in case" deal, obviously.

If the consideration for use is 99% likely to be inside the house, #9 skeet loads would likely be as effective as 00 Buck. At 20 to 30 feet, any loading is lethal.

A light mounted on any weapon enables a Bad Guy to see exactly where you are. Personally, I'd prefer a one-hand hold of the weapon, with the light held out to my side--I can always shift position.

Whatever the decision about firearm and tactics, run through at least two or three boxes of shells as practice and familiarization. To do otherwise is delusional. I also suggest reading Massad Ayoob's "In The Gravest Extreme", a definitive work on the entire concept of self-defense.
 

IntheNet

macrumors regular
Oct 6, 2009
190
0
Ok, looking for feedback on good shotguns to keep in the house.
Ithaca use to manufacture a slugged pump gun known as a the Mag 10 Roadblocker; they were popular with law enforcement and deer/turkey hunters due to their gauge (10 gauge) and full choke (model sold in full and improved cylinder). Like most useful scatterguns this particular model was discontinued but remains popular in the community. Some rural deputies swear by this gun!
 

Hmac

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2007
2,128
2
Midwest USA
For the money, a plain-vanilla Remington 870 pump in 12-gauge is plenty good. A good used version will be just as reliable as a brand new one.

Avoid the pistol grip add-ons like the plague. Those work best from behind an Internet keyboard.
The pistol grips are far more effective for home defense, but it is true that they need to be practiced with. However, the OP has to do that practice anyway - best to practice with a self-defense weapon that is designed for that use.

A Mossberg 500 or pistol-gripped 870 is readily available off the shelf. All the cool little doodads like tactical lights and laser sights that you can add onto these weapons from the myriad "Tactical Stores" are interesting, but they are dangerously distracting for the casual home-defense newbie who takes his shotgun out once a year or so. Shooting weapon in the dark with an attached light is difficult. Do yourself a favor...keep it simple. Nice, simple pump-action shotgun.

Massad Ayoob's book is interesting, but it's very old. By all means read it, but don't take it as definitive CURRENT information relative to gun laws in YOUR jurisdiction.