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The Top Five Tactical Shotguns For Home Protection Part 2
The Most Popular Tactical Shotguns For Home Defense
Prices diverge a little more on the lower end of the spectrum. The very cheapest AR I can find at the moment is the DPMS Oracle, which costs $600. A Mossberg Maverick 88, though, can be yours for just $220.
Disadvantages Of The Shotgun And How To Compensate For Them
Despite the strong points mentioned above, there are some undeniable downsides to the shotgun as a weapons class. Good shotgunners admit these weaknesses and have accessories and training to compensate for them.
While some shotgun accessories can be highly effective, training should always be your top priority.
1) Short Range
The maximum range of a shotgun is always, always going to lag behind a rifle.
Note that the range estimates given below are for effective tactical combat, not hunting. The range will vary sharply based on ammunition load and the presence or absence of a choke.
Buckshot will lose effectiveness between 25 and 35 yards from the muzzle. Birdshot varies more highly. As mentioned earlier, birdshot is a non-optimal choice for tactical purposes. Most birdshot loads will only be critically effective on a man-sized target at a range of five yards.
Even slugs, designed for maximum range, will only give you an effective reach of about 100 yards in a defensive scenario. They're definitely worth considering, as you want to absolutely maximize that distant that your shotgun can reach.
Choking Is Sometimes A Good Thing
A choke is an integrated barrel constriction that can be introduced at different levels.
Each choke will have a unique effect on a given combination of ammunition and shotgun. Some chokes are permanently affixed to your weapon while others are removable. Chokes can increase the effective range of your shotgun and result in tighter shot patterns.
Most shotguns specifically designed for tactical use will feature a cylinder bore, i.e. one without any sort of choke. Wide spreads are generally desirable for CQC situations.
Marksmanship fundamentals are, if anything, even more, important in shotgunning than other forms of shooting.
A good shotgunner needs a trained trigger pull, breath control, bodily stability, and proper usage of sights. The myth that shotguns are always-hit weapons is a highly inaccurate one.
Patterning Your Shotgun
This is a trial-and-error process intended to see what sort of results your shotgun delivers with a range of different loads. Patterning a shotgun also involves examining pellet spread at different distances. There's an old rule of thumb that you can expect 1 inch for every yard between your muzzle and your target, but you can get very different results by introducing different ammo and chokes into the mix.
When I use a cylinder choke and Federal FliteControl ammunition in 00 buckshot, I'll put a single ragged hole into target 10 yards away. That increases to a palm-sized grouping at 15 yards. Out at 35 yards, this load covers the whole A zone of a standard IPSC target - a space about six inches by 11 inches.
With buckshot, I generally get a fist-sized spread at 10 yards. Out at 15 yards, I get a roughly A-zone-sized spread again. By 20 yards, the load is peppered all the way across the upper torso of an IPSC target. At 35 yards, my pellets are hitting all over the target and some of them are missing entirely.
It bears repeating: Patterning will always depend on the specific shotgun, the ammunition loaded, and the choke installed.
Patterning is a vital process for understanding your shotgun's full capabilities; done properly, it can help you get a little extra range. Testing slugs can also be a part of the patterning process, and your sights should be zeroed for use with slugs anyway.
What Do Sights Do?
Of all the different accessories you can use with your shotgun, a good set of sights will make the biggest difference in your effectiveness. Open rifle sights used to be the preferred choice, and they still do a decent job. Today good peep sights mounted on the rear of the receiver are recognized as an even better choice.
My personal favorites are LPA sights, which can be fully adjusted to zero the shotgun.
A decent red dot sight (e.g. Aimpoint or Trijicon MRO) is also a viable option for use with a shotgun.
2) Limited Ammo Capacity
Most combat shotguns are fed from a tube magazine that contains seven or eight shells.
I strongly prefer tube fed guns over those with box magazines. Box magazines add bulk and complexity, and they sometimes jam. The shotgunner with a tube fed gun enjoys a more reliable feeding system and a smaller profile.
When compared to the 30-round standard of a modern rifle, a seven or eight-round capacity may seem feeble. Even basic 9mm handguns offer a 17-round capacity. The best way to get around this weakness is to train yourself in topping off.
Under ideal circumstances, you'd never let your shotgun go dry. Top it off whenever you can. In practice, that means feeding the tube whenever the opportunity presents itself. Many shotgunners adhere to the maxim "fire two, load two" in order to keep their shotguns topped up.
Obviously, you need to have ammo conveniently to hand in order to top your shotgun up. I personally prefer using a side-saddle ammo carrier for this.
With a side saddle, you'll be picking up a reload along with your gun. Note that a side saddle changes the balance and handling characteristics of your shotgun! You must train with the weapon in the same condition you plan on using it for defense; keep your side saddle full on the range.
It also goes without saying that a shotgun intended for home defense should be kept fully loaded.
Shotguns throw a powerful blast downrange and they can kick back into your shoulder with what feels like equal force. Recoil gets particularly fierce when you favor the classic 12 gauge. While this amount of recoil can easily be controlled, it's still significantly more potent than a modern rifle.
You can use reduced recoil buckshot to lessen the blow. This works particularly well with pump-action shotguns.
Proper firing stance remains the most effective way to deal with recoil, though.