Best Home Defense Weapon: A 12-Gauge Shotgun

by Tyler on Jul 4, 2013

Ask most law enforcement officials or self defense experts what’s the best home defense weapon and most will cite the shotgun as their top choice.

For good reason.

The shotgun is one of the most versatile weapons around, providing the ability to fire a range of ammunition with varying degrees of lethality.

A shotgun makes even more sense in today’s current ammunition market, where store shelves previously holding dozens of boxes of common rifle and handgun ammo now sit bare.

Good luck finding ammunition for your 9mm handgun, or your AR-15, at reasonable prices and in bulk quantities.

Where I shop, shotgun rounds are still plentiful from 00 buckshot up to #9 birdshot and slugs.  Chances are, your average pump action shotgun would also survive any potential gun ban legislation, which still might find its way through Congress at some point in our lifetimes.

A 12-Gauge Shotgun:  The Best Home Defense Weapon Money Can Buy

The best home defense weapon should be one that is relatively simple to use, has an adequate safety mechanism, and has plentiful ammunition in calibers/sizes that do not over penetrate.  In my opinion, the 12-gauge shotgun fits the bill.

In terms of specific models, most prefer the Remington 870 or Mossberg 500.  Both are pump-action 12-gauge shotguns that come in a variety of configurations suitable for home defense.

For instance, I like the Mossberg 500 option with a pistol grip, rather than a full stock, for clearing corners and moving in tight spaces such as a home’s hallway.

What Size Shell Should I Load In My Shotgun?

The jury is still out on the best shotgun shell size to use for home defense.  Like most answers, it depends.

If you live out in the country, don’t have small kids in the next room, and therefore aren’t concerned with over-penetration, it’s hard to beat 00 buckshot for stopping power.

However, if you live in an apartment, or have a couple kids sleeping in the next room, that buckshot could easily penetrate an intruder and the drywall separating your bedrooms.

In this case, you might prefer something like a #4 shot, which has more pellets that are lighter and penetrate less easily than slugs or heavier buckshot.

One of the beauties of shotguns, and my main reason for naming it the best home defense weapon, is that it is possible to load the magazine tube with varying sizes of shot.

For example, you might load a seven-round tube with 6 rounds of 00 buck and a final round of #4 shot, so the first round out of the tube is a lighter load.  If that doesn’t slow down the perpetrator, you can pump a fresh round of 00 buckshot and end the threat.

Ready, Aim, Fire Still True for Shotguns

Contrary to popular belief, you do have to actually aim a shotgun to be accurate, especially at close distances.

At short range, shotgun shot does not spread as far apart as you might think, so the damage is not as widespread as you would imagine.  This is especially true if you are using a heavier shot with less individual pellets, such as 00 buckshot.

Many models offer the ability to add attachments such as flashlights and laser sights.  I also like the idea of attaching a side saddle attachment that allows you to carry a few additional rounds on the weapon.

It’s hard to find a reason not to consider a shotgun the best home defense weapon.

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