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Enough is too much

It looks like there has been some sort of ordinance passed saying gun bloggers need to post about Magpul Dynamics’ Art of the Dynamic Shotgun video, so here you go.

A shotgun can be an awesome tool in many situations, but I have to confess that the tricked-out combat shotgun concept leaves me a little cold.

Watching the video got me to thinking about a blog entry I made years ago on Confederate Yankee when I was still actively selling guns. I called it Overcoming the Viagra Theory of Home Defense. I think it’s time for a repost.

Overcoming The “Viagra Theory” of Home Defense

Via Instapundit, I see that a blogger by the name of Miss Kelly is looking for shotgun advice:

National Buy a Gun Day is only 30 days away! I have a great little .22 Browning rifle for plinking, but my husband and I are looking to purchase a shotgun for home security. Not sure what’s the best shotgun to get for this, although I’m leaning towards a pump action for the sound effects, which I’m told can be a good deterrent. Would love to hear recommendations from folks. Also wondering if we can get a shotgun that can also be used for trap or skeet, or are guns just too specialized these days? Looking for cost info too, for new and used. Thanks for your advice!

As you may imagine, she’s picked up a lot of advice… and most of it is bad. As a matter of fact, I guarantee someone reading this post right now is already thinking about a 12-gauge pump stoked with 00-Buck, without first bothering to really digest the questions in her post.

Let’s look over her request again, shall we?

What she did and didn’t say
She wants a shotgun (“leaning towards a pump”) for “home security” (we’ll define that later) and possibly trap/skeet shooting. She is willing to look at used firearms. Let’s go from there.

Looking at her profile, it seems she lives in Massachusetts (not the most gun-friendly state), and she lives with her husband and some animals, but no children seem to be present in the household.

We do not know if she lives in an apartment or condominium, or if she lives in a home, if she lives in a high-density suburban area or if she lives in a rural location. We do not know if she or her husband have any physical limitations. We do not even know the basic layout of her dwelling. It would be nice to have more specifics about all of these things, but we’ll make do with information we have.

We’ll have to assume she and her husband are healthy, and probably in middle age. As we don’t know for certain that there aren’t children present, and as Massachusetts is a fairly dense state population-wise, we’ll assume for safety’s sake that there are other inhabited dwellings in close proximity.

Defining weapon parameters
First, we know that Miss Kelly is looking for a shotgun. This fact has been no deterrent to at least 13 people make comments about other weapons so far. Nice to know they are listening, isn’t it?

We also know that the users of this shotgun will be a male and female. While Miss Kelley didn’t give her measurements, lets assume she is the “average” American woman of about 5’4″ with proportional arms and legs for her height. Any shotgun we pick must be able to be used effectively by her to be, well, effective.

So what do our intrepid commentors at Miss Kelly’s give us (those that can remember to focus on shotguns, that is)? No less than 18 posts about variations of the tricked-out pump-action 12-guage combat shotgun, a weapon designed for relatively large, healthy, men.

Following the “Viagra” theory of defense, these folks think bigger and the more enhancements and attachments you can add on, the better it is. That might work for some devices that a woman might to keep in her bedroom, but Miss Kelly is interested in shotguns.

She needs one that will fit her needs, not theirs.

“Home Security”
The phrase “home security” means different things to different people, and a lot of the weapons choices made, paint a picture of people preparing for sustained offensive urban combat operations.

Unless we wake up in al-Anbar in the morning, this is not our reality.

In our world, home security means retreating to a defensible point in your home and firing your weapon only when given no other choice, and firing only until the threat ends. Nothing more than that is legally justifiable.

This is a defensive situation, not an offense one.

Choosing the Home Defense Shotgun
Miss Kelly would be best served by a shotgun designed for the smaller stature of women and teens, and many men will be surprised to find the shortened stocks, smaller gauges and lighter overall weight of these weapons can be desirable, especially in the close confines of a home security situation.

As she has only noted experience with a .22 rifle, and the defensive shotgun will be used indoors in the confined spaces of her home and possibly at night, recoil, flash, noise and penetration are all critical factors in choosing a shotgun as well.

Luckily, O.F. Mossberg, the company that won the U.S. Military contract for combat shotguns in 1979, was diligent, and did their homework for the home security market as well. Their suggestion is a .410 pump called the HS 410.

A .410?

The smallest of the shotgun calibers does seem like an odd choice to those of the “bigger is better” philosophy and it would be an odd choice for a police or military weapon, but it makes perfect sense for a home security shotgun.

A .410 shotgun, at the typical home security distance of near-contact range out to 25 feet, has more short-range stopping power than the vaunted .45 ACP, the .357 Magnum, or the .44 Magnum. The .410 won’t deafen you the way a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun could, not will it have excessive muzzle flash or recoil.

In addition–and this is very important–the .410, loaded with birdshot will not over-penetrate walls as 12 and 20 gauge shotguns typically will. All bullets fired by pistols and rifles (even .22s) will easily over-penetrate multiple layers of sheetrock, going into other rooms or even other homes, potentially wounding or killing someone other than your intended target.

Not a great choice for the beginning skeet or trap shooter, a 410 pump is a shotgun Miss Kelly and her husband can learn to shoot well and confidentially in a minimal amount of time, with enough stopping power to immediately stop anyone who invades her home at a reduced danger to others in the area.

Bigger may be better for some applications in the bedroom, but not for home security shotguns.

It is amazing how far our options have come in just the past four years since that post was initially written. While I still think the 410 is an underrated bore for a defensive shotgun, Taurus had made a mint with The Judge because so many have suddenly determined it is an excellent revolver cartridge.

I’m sure the professionals at Magpul are hell-on-wheels with their tricked out 12-gauge 00-buck belching beasts and that they can train you to be an über-competent offensive monster.

I just don’t see where it could ever be practical outside of a combat zone.

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Posted in Shotguns.

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One Response

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  1. Mike says

    Interesting post.

    I agree 100% on getting a cheap, lightweight shotgun *not* in a 12 gauge. That's about as far as it goes, though.

    Every test I have read shows that birdshot is not an effective defensive round. Defensive, not offensive. It will scare the bejeezus out of an attacker. It will injure them severely. But it is not likely to remove them from the fight, even at household ranges. If someone shoots *me* with birdshot, I'm still going to be able to return fire, only now I'm going to be *really* pissed off.

    It is a sad fact that any weapon which will reliably stop a drugged up adult male will penetrate several walls of standard american housing construction. Even birdshot will go through several layers of drywall. It is a sad fact of self defense – the good news is that buckshot still does not over-penetrate as significantly as a rifle round or shotgun slug.

    The truth is that at across the room distances a .410 shooting birdshot does *not* have more stopping power than a handgun. You are in that case essentially hoping that the wad cup penetrates a major organ, because the birdshot most definitely will not. Now, a .410 firing any sort of buckshot, even the smaller stuff, I will agree with you.

    As for the .410, the reduced recoil would make it an ideal weapon, if it were no so unusual a caliber. It is very difficult to find an effective combat load in .410. The lower capacity of buckshot rounds does not concern me nearly so much as the lower availability. You will also not have the variety of lower-recoil loads available on a more popular caliber.

    So… I would give the advice of a youth or woman's model .20 caliber shooting a reduced recoil buckshot load. The noise, flash, and recoil will still be manageable, but you'll actually be sure of a stop if you hit center of mass, as opposed to just hoping the back guy gives up.

    That aside, the philosophy and moral of your story I agree with 100%.

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