If you are searching for a firearm that will be primarily used for home protection, you are in luck. There is a wide array of effective options available to shooters today. However, if you ask a seasoned firearms expert, chances are they will tell you that a shotgun remains one of the most capable firearms for halting a threat inside your home. Think about it: if you’re startled out of a deep sleep by an intruder, which firearm would you have the most confidence using? It’s hard to beat the accuracy and stopping power of a home-defense shotgun, especially considering their ease of use, affordability and reliability. With several models to choose from, what should you look for in a home-defense shotgun?
When shopping for a home-defense shotgun, barrel length should be a primary consideration. A shorter barrel makes the shotgun easier to maneuver in a home, quicker to get on target and easier to conceal when not in use. The typical barrel length of a home-defense shotgun is 18 to 21 inches. Any shotgun that has a barrel length larger than 21 inches is usually classified as a hunting or shooting sports shotgun.
The most popular gauges for a shotgun are 12, 20 and .410, with the 12-gauge being the most popular. A 12-gauge shotgun has a larger bore than a 20-gauge and a 20-gauge shotgun has a larger bore than a .410. The larger the bore, the more pellets a shell will hold. For example, a 12-gauge shotshell may hold up to 15 pellets of 00 buckshot whereas a .410 shell typically holds three to five 00 buckshot pellets. Just because the 12-gauge holds more pellets than the others doesn’t mean it is the best option for you. The most common reason to purchase a 20-gauge or .410 is that they usually have less felt recoil. If the operator of the shotgun is small framed or is less experienced, a 20-gauge or .410 may be the best shotgun for them.
The majority of shotguns designed for home protection have a cylinder-bore, which is the barrel’s full, unrestricted bore. The cylinder-bore choke is used for home defense because it allows pellets to quickly spread out, creating the widest shot pattern possible at short distances. However, some shooters opt for a modified choke if they’re also planning to use the shotgun outdoors at longer distances.
Pump Versus Semi-Auto
Both semi-automatic and pump shotguns can work well for home defense, but there are some pros and cons to both. Pump shotguns are known for their reliability to cycle all types of loads, plus, there are few greater deterrents than the unmistakable sound of a pump action being racked. The largest cons of pump shotguns would be that they do produce more felt recoil than gas-operated semi-automatics and that the pump-action may present an issue if the operator is less experienced and under extreme stress. If an individual is new to the action of a pump shotgun, many times the operator will forget to pump the fore-end between trigger pulls. Additionally, small-framed shooters can have difficulty reaching and working the fore-end effectively. If recoil is a concern, if you’re new to shooting shotguns or if you prefer the simplicity of just pulling the trigger and not having to work an action, you may want to look at semi-automatics.
From adjustable with pistol grips to traditional, there is a wide variety of stocks available for home-defense shotguns. While many argue for one style over another, in the end, the type of stock you choose often comes down to personal preference. Adjustable stocks are great for small-framed shooters or families that may have multiple sizes of people using the firearm. If recoil is a concern, there are a few manufacturers that offer built-in recoil-reduction systems in their stocks, such as the Benelli ComforTech System or the Beretta Kick-Off System. We recommend that you stop by Triangle Shooting Academy to handle — and shoulder — a variety of shotgun stocks to find out which fits you best and what you’re most comfortable using.
Buckshot is usually the go-to load for home-defense purposes. From No. 4 buckshot up to the larger pellets of 000 buckshot, you have several options to choose from. The majority of experts will recommend 00 buckshot, but the great thing about a shotgun at short range: any size shot can work. In fact, the smallest birdshot will suffice as a self-defense load in tight quarters. If you’re out of buckshot or find yourself fumbling around in the dark, as long as the shell fits the shotgun, any size shot will work in a pinch.
You don’t have to spend a fortune in order to have an extremely effective home-defense shotgun. Ranging about $349.99 to $699.99, pump shotguns are typically less expensive than semi-automatic shotguns. The semi-automatic shotgun retails around the $699.99 to $1,399.99+ price range. The price difference between the two types of shotguns is primarily based on the cost associated with having the operating system built into the semi-automatic shotgun. No matter your budget, you should be able to find a shotgun that fits your needs.
Ask Our Experts
Our expert team at Triangle Shooting Academy has years of experience helping members and guests select the right shotgun for home protection. Stop by today to get free advice from one of our firearms experts and check out our wide selection of home-defense shotguns.