In today’s post we’re going to take a closer look at the role of a shotgun in a self-defense scenario. Unlike a handgun that is small, lightweight and concealable, the shotgun is big, mean chunk of steel. Most likely it’s a gun that you’re going to keep at home rather than on your person.
Despite that limitation, at close range it’s easily one of the most devastating guns available to the general public and is also quite versatile due to the numerous ammunition options available. Some of these options include birdshot, buckshot, and slugs and even non-lethal rounds that shoot beanbags or similar projectiles. Birdshot can be ideal if you’re worried about the shot (similar to small bb’s) overpenetrating through walls and injuring or killing someone in an adjoining room. Buckshot uses larger shot that will pack more punch than birdshot. Finally, slugs are a single mass of lead that are similar to the bullets found in handgun calibers, only quite a bit larger and they can extend the effective range of the shotgun to 75+ yards when aimed properly.
Speaking of aim, let’s adress a common misconception often shown in Hollywood movies. Many people have the impression that you can easily connect with your target just by firing the shotgun in the general area of the target. In reality, the spread of projectiles is usually not as wide as one would be led to believe. It still requires that you properly ‘aim’ your gun so be sure to take a trip to a range where you can experiment with different ammunition options and see with your own eyes the spread pattern at different distances.
12-guage shotguns are probably most common, but 20-guage guns are a great choice for shooters that are smaller stature and may be more sensitive to the heavier felt recoil of a 12-guage. Because shotguns don’t utilize a detachable magazine like semi-auto pistols it can take more time to reload the gun. For that reason along with the limited number of shells you can load in the gun at once, you have to make each shot count.
Most self-defense scenarios involving guns happen within a very short distance (some statistics suggest 90% of shootings occur within 15 feet) both handguns and shotguns are fairly limited in range, even in the most skilled hands. For our next and final installment, we’ll take a quick look at the tool of choice when effective range trumps other factors, the rifle.