There are those that feel that when it comes to home defense, nothing comes close to the 12 gauge pump shotgun. There is a constant debate as to which type of firearm would make the best choice for home defense. I have friends that believe their AR-15 is all that they need to effectively protect their homes. Others feel that their handgun is far superior to other firearm choices. As for me, there still are a lot of reasons why I still choose a shotgun for protection.
But first, a little gardening advice from Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson:
Why Consider a Pump Shotgun for Home Defense
In This Article:
- Firearm of Choice
- Versatility Of Ammunition
- Can Affix A Blade
- Fits Into Most Budgets
- Laws and Regulation
Firearm of Choice
In all fairness, I am a fan of all three options. As a matter of fact, I integrate all three categories into my home defense plan. But for the purpose of this article, I will be discussing the characteristics of the pump shotgun and its value for home defense.
I am often asked what I feel the best firearm for home defense is. I have the same answer every time:
The one that you and your family train with the most!
Keep in mind that as you put your home defensive plan together, you need to take into account the other people that share your home. Where and how you stage your firearms will play a big role in how effectively you can deploy those firearms when SHTF. If your primary firearm choice is your AR-15, but you are the only one in your household that can utilize that rifle in a self-defense situation, then you need to reevaluate your choice. Same holds true for any other firearm that makes up part of your home defense plan.
Effective home defense strategy needs to incorporate every member of your household. An emergency may occur while you are away and your family will need to fend for themselves. You need to ensure that your family is not only aware of your plan, but can also put it into action. This requires practice with your family and lots of it.
If things are not going well for you and your family while training, what do you think will happen when things go to shit during an actual emergency situation?
Regardless of your choice of home defense firearm, you need to practice your marksmanship. Range time is imperative but you need to practice more than just killing paper. In a home defense scenario, there are countless uncertainties. You will be sweating, have trouble breathing, your heart will be beating through your chest, and those are just a few of the scenarios that are tough to replicate at a standard gun range.
Run through various real-world scenarios with your family and try and replicate as many foreseeable situations as you can conjure up. The more detail that you cover in training, the better that you will bode when things get real.
I would like to share with you a few reasons why I feel that the shotgun is a valid choice for home defense.
Versatility Of Ammunition
You would be hard-pressed to find a firearm with as much versatility in ammunition as a shotgun. There are shotgun types and shells containing:
- Bird Shot
- 00 Buck
- Bean Bags
- Rock Salt
- And many others
It is simple to integrate a pump shotgun into a home defense plan because of the versatility in ammunition choices. There are ammo options available that produce less recoil than standard shells. This makes it much more manageable for the smaller and/or less experienced members of your household.
Before we delve further, we need to address an aspect that many overlook during these types of discussions; the use of lethal force. We often hear, “if someone were to walk into my home, I would light them up in a heartbeat with some OO Buck.” I can understand that reasoning because of the simple fact that we want to protect our family.
How DARE someone walk into our “castle” with the intention of harming our loved ones!
But what happens when it’s your family member that has to squeeze the trigger on someone that just broke into your home?
- Is your family member prepared to deal with the fact that they just took someone’s life?
- What if the person “breaking in” was just the neighbor’s kid doing stupid shit that kids do on a dare?
- How will you fare during a trial with your local and state gun laws?
These scenarios need to be addressed as part of your home defense plan.
These are tough questions that I have trouble answering for myself. That is why we need to prepare for these concerns now. If we do, it will be much easier to account for our actions later. Luckily, with the versatility in ammunition choices for the shotgun, we can address some of these issues ahead of time. You need to make decisions as to what is best for you and your family members. From there, just stick with your plan.
A pump shotgun is very forgiving when it comes to aiming. This is a valid attribute especially when we take family members into account. We mentioned earlier that practice is imperative when it comes to your home defense plan. However, if your family members are not as excited about going to the range as often as you deem necessary, chances are that their marksmanship leaves much to be desired.
In an emergency, sight alignment and sight picture will be less than optimal. The fact that you can practically point the shotgun at the assailant and take them out of commission, without focussing too much on the sights, makes it ideal for a less-seasoned shooter. This is where ammunition choices play a key role.
Once again, this is not a substitute for proper marksmanship training but it is a benefit that we need to take into account; especially when other family members are involved.
Can Affix A Blade
I can already feel a few chuckles coming from this topic. Some may even say that I watch too many Walking Dead episodes, but I’m not addressing zombies here. I am adding much-needed options to a scenario where versatility is not a luxury. Being able to affix a blade or bayonet to your tactical shotgun can be the difference between life and death.
As a U.S. Marine, I have plenty of training in deploying a bayonet. The bayonet was part of my standard issue and we practiced with it and practiced often. The bayonet was utilized with my M16 but for all intents and purposes, the maneuvers are similar regardless of the long gun that it is affixed to. Once again, the takeaway point here is training. With my training, I gained confidence. I saw and felt the effectiveness of what an affixed bayonet can accomplish.
Once I left active duty, I bought myself an M9 bayonet to continue to practice and refine the skills that I had learned as a Marine. I train with a bayonet during my close quarter training sessions. But this time, my M9 bayonet is affixed my shotgun instead of my rifle.
The 4 things that I gain from attaching a bayonet to my shotgun are:
- Able to utilize my firearm effectively even if I run out of ammo
- Can keep the would-be attacker at a distance, buying time
- Can take the attacker out of commission without firing a shot
- Can still provide defense even if my firearm jams.
Fits Into Most Budgets
Let’s face it… Quality firearms are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Many of us have far superseded our budgets by customizing our AR’s and buying that latest piece of art in the form of a handgun. But when it comes to pump shotguns, you can address your self-defense needs without emptying your bank account.
We can add a very good pump shotgun, made by the reputable companies such as Remington & Mossberg for much less than your average handgun. This will be a bare-bones shotgun but for the purposes of home defense, you really wouldn’t need more than that. The only other option that I would suggest that you invest in, for both you and your family, is training.
Laws and Regulation
Keep in mind that I live in the “Republic of New Jersey.” The laws are so confusing in this state that even when I pose questions to NJ lawyers, they are, at times, at a loss for an accurate response. To be honest, I feel that these laws are convoluted by design. N.J. is not the only culprit, there are certainly others. If you reside in these States, you need to be on top of the liabilities that you incur just by possessing standard components of your firearm.
Magazine capacities seem to change with each passing Governor here in NJ. Having an adjustable stock on my AR-15 makes it illegal. Let’s not forget that it is legal to own hollow point bullets for my handgun but getting caught in possession of hollow-point ammo outside my home is a felony.
Hold on… WHAT?! How do I get the cartridges home?
So knowing that the powers that be are always going after us, law-abiding gun owners, makes this game a bit trickier than most. What may be fine today could become illegal tomorrow. But from my experience with shotguns, they pretty much get left alone by most legislation.
So all the time, effort and money devoted to your home defense will continue to serve you well. Whereas when it comes to “assault” rifles or handguns… We may be the ones being arrested and brought to trial just for the mere fact that we were defending our homes with a firearm. I know, I know… I need to get the hell out of NJ!
Why should you use a shotgun for home defense? Watch this video by Lucky Gunner Ammo:
There are many more reasons why a pump shotgun may be a great choice for your home protection. Luckily, we still have our 2nd amendment rights that enable us to have a variety of choices when it comes to home defense.
What I wanted to do with this article is to offer some valid reasons for integrating a pump shotgun into your home defense plan. There is never a one-size-fits-all when it comes to an ideal firearm choice regardless of it’s intended, primary use. The debate will last a lifetime and rightfully so; it keeps us thinking and experimenting!
The right to protect our homes and loved ones can never be infringed upon. Stand up for you and even more importantly, do whatever it takes to keep your family safe.
What do you think of the Pump Shotgun for home defense? Let us know in the comment section below!
Up Next: Visualization Techniques Will Make You a Better Shooter
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
What is you favorite home defense firearm?
What ever is within arms’ length of my position.
I definitely agree with you… As long as the user is well versed in handling that firearm.
Wow I only think of handguns, then again I’m very much a novice in this field. Thanks for this eye opening article Coach!
Glad that you found it helpful, Frank. Thank you for taking the time to comment.
I’ve been on the fence on getting a shotgun for a while now. This article just pushed me over and I just started looking at options. Great article, thanks for the insight, Coach.
Excellent, Robert. If I can be of any help, please do not hesitate ask.
Thank you for your support!
They were also selling target loads 1-1 1/8 oz for $5 bx Had to do it .Thanks
Thanks for sharing, I’m going to check it out.
Just bought a Mossberg 88 at Dicks $199. I have been waiting a while for a sale I haven’t assembled it yet. Can’t wait to try it. Hopefully not on an intruder. Thanks for the article.
Congrats & Good Luck! That was definitely a nice deal.
Coach, good article.
Shotguns are great home defense options, and my wife and I each own one. Hers is a pump and mine is an auto-loader. She still prefers her handguns, and carries a 9 when ut and about, and keeps a 1911 by the bed. My shotgun is my first choice in any home defense situation with my G21 as the back up.
I understand the comments about the variety of ammo types, but readers need to understand that birdshot and rock salt are not viable defensive loads because they will not definitively stop the threat. I realize you may have included them simply in an illustrative mode, but judging from some of the comments on here there are people reading this who do not have a lot of experience.
Readers should also understand that you are highly skilled with a bayonet, so they need to consider how they would actually use one. Any bladed weapon requires a lot of practice and training.
Thank you Mikial, I appreciate your detailed feedback.
Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.
Have a great day & Be Safe!
Coach, if you’re moving out of NJ, don’t go to Hawaii! We’re almost as bad here. BTW, I’ve got a 20ga pump (lower recoil for wife) as well as Ruger .22LR rifle & pistol (for kids) besides my AR & 9mm semi.
Thanks for the heads-up, Garfy2008. But I have to admit… You live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, so I am a bit envious. 😉
You have a well-rounded collection which is excellent.
Thank you for taking the time to comment and to share your experience with us; I appreciate your support!
Thank for the insights you shared. They affirmed what I already do which is to use a combination of handguns, light rifles, and a combat shotgun. I also like the bayonet idea.
Thank you, Keith!
I appreciate the feedback and your support!