Debunking Shotgun Myths

Over on the Survival Cache Survival Forums (which I moderate and visit frequently) a newer , very welcome member started a post entitled “debunking the shotgun myth”. In it, he makes some compelling and valid reasons why he chooses not to use a shotgun, when his suppressed AR has certain qualities that he considers more viable for a defense firearm. I highly recommend heading over and reading what he has to say, and the consequent replies from the regulars.

The basic arguments he has are:

    lack of effectiveness at range due to poor ballistics

    mathematical improbability of striking a target at growing ranges

    cost of ammunition compared to steel-cased .223/5.56

    bulk/size of ammunition

However, he concludes his argument with the single statement, “So why waste time and money on a shotgun?”

To quote my favorite comedian of all time, John Pinette (RIP, big guy), “I say ‘nay nay!’”

The 12-gauge shotgun, inside its envelope, is a truly fearsome weapon in the hands of someone trained in how to use it properly. Please note the latter half of that statement – you can’t take your grandfather’s Browning A-5 out in the woods, nab a couple partridge, and consider yourself a master of the “tactical” shotgun. The hunting shotgun world and the defensive shotgun world are as far apart as a Delta Force’s M4 carbine and your hunting Remington 700. Tactics and training are key, just like anything else.

A shotgun still must be aimed, sights must be used, and controls must be manipulated with a precision and familiarity you just won’t have the opportunity to master if you only use your shotgun for bird hunting. I took a Practical Shotgun course through a local company, Weaponcraft Training, and it truly opened my eyes to the destruction capability of a properly-run shotgun. I learned the basics of loading, swapping shells (buckshot to slug and back), and the concept of patterning the shotgun with buckshot loads. Things I learned included:

-Slugs are not magical laser beams that suddenly transform your shotgun into a precision distance weapon. The front tritium bead of the 870 riot gun I used completely covered a human silhouette target’s vitals at 50 yards. And if I aimed center-of-mass, the slug hit in approximately the bellybutton area of the target. The trajectory of a 1-ounce lead slug is dismal.

-Two-point fore and aft type slings don’t play nice with pump shotguns. The VTAC one-point sling I used worked wonderfully, though it had the normal hang-ups of single point slings. Two-point slings kept interfering with one gentleman’s Mossberg 500 pump stroke.

-The choke makes a difference. One gentleman who was in the course with me had an 870 with a modified choke, and he was able to place his shot pattern with far more precision out to 40 yards than the rest of us with cylinder bore choked shotguns.

-Shotguns don’t need a lot of shit on them. Yet another gentleman who took the course worked for his dad’s local (and very successful) gun shop. His FN shotgun looked like it couldn’t have had any more tactical gear stuffed in it if he tried. Aimpoint red dot, Magpul angled foregrip, a sling bandolier jammed pull of shells, big-ass flashlight mounted to the side of the barrel ( that fell off pretty quickly) collapsible stock with extra shell holders – you get the idea. By the end of the course, he had stripped that shotgun down to just the gun, ghost ring sights, and a side-saddle receiver shell holder. Everything else just gets in the way and really isn’t needed

Watching the guys run through barricade and multi-target courses after 10 hours of running their shotguns with instruction was awesome to behold. Pumpgun guys were operating their firearms as fast as the guys running semi-autos, sidearms were transitioned to smoothly to enable the operator to get to cover and reload the shotgun to get back into the action. Slugs were transitioned to on the fly to more precisely hit smaller targets. Plywood targets were positively shredded as quickly as they could be replaced. It was damned impressive, and left an impression on me for sure.

So when it comes to defending my home, I have an 870 stuffed to the gills with 00 buck by my side, and I couldn’t be more confident in being able to handle most anything that goes bump in the night. But I now know the restraints I need to work within – and if I need to bug out the door, chances are the AR will make my side instead of the shotgun.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Is the shotgun a waste of time, or should it be encompassed in your plans?