Selecting a Shotgun for Home Defense

Selecting a shotgun for home defense is not only about shotgun ammo, although the right time of round is important.

The members of your family, their experience, and several other factors also require some thought.

Shotguns have a lot of advantages too when used for home defense.

Why a Shotgun?

Shotguns have several advantages over handguns or rifles.

Handguns and rifles take more training than a shotgun does if you want to achieve any sort of reasonable accuracy.

An errant shot from a handgun or rifle has more chance to cause third party injury as the velocity of the rounds will easily penetrate a wall or door, increasing the risk of harm to innocent third parties.

Most handguns and rifles are made for right-handed shooters.

With a shotgun, you have none of these disadvantages.

Shotguns are much simpler to operate than either a handgun or rifle. Given the spread of the pellets, or, in the case of slugs the size, even children or inexperienced shooters can hit the target at short ranges by pointing and shooting.

The low velocity of a shotgun shells helps contain it inside the room in your apartment or home.

Shotguns are inherently ambidextrous. A left-handed family member can operate a shotgun as easily as a right-handed person can.

Pump Actions

Although there are several great choices for shotguns for home defense, most experts favor pump actions.

The old saying about there is no sound more intimidating than racking a round in a shotgun is true, but other reasons to choose a pump-action also exist.

Pump action advantages include safety. You can store or carry a pump action in various conditions safely: hammer down, magazine loaded, chamber empty, or loaded.

Pump actions have simple operating mechanisms that have proven over the years to be highly reliable.

Cost is another advantage. Pump actions cost much less, in general, than other types cost.

Finally, a shotgun round, no matter where it hits the intruder or assailant, will almost always inflict enough wound trauma to stop the attack.

The Shells

Standard pellet rounds work well for home defense. At close range, the pellets will maintain a tight cone, ensuring maximum damage to your target.

Shooting pellet rounds have less recoil than slugs do. If the shooter needs to take a second shot, less recoil, especially for novice shooters, allow quicker recovery so the person can chamber and shot again with minimum delay.

Consider using 2 ¾-inch, 00 buckshot. If you use magnum loads, the extra recoil might disadvantage you.

If you own a 12-gauge, use 2 ¾-inch standard. If you keep a 20-gage at home, buy the same loaded with #3 buckshot.


Some sort of light mounted to the shotgun might help not only to see what you are facing at night but also might momentarily stun or blind the intruder: Critical if the intruder is armed.

A sling can be useful also. If you use a sling, you can free up your hands if necessary. You can also ensure the gun remains under your control.

Most experts recommend against magazine extenders for home-defense shotguns. The odds of bending the extension and perhaps causing a malfunction increase in the tight quarters of a room. The extra weight and length of the extender will make the shotgun more awkward to carry or control.

If you want to carry extra ammunition, use a pouch or sling addition that holds additional rounds.

Single- and Double-Barrel Shotguns

If you face multiple intruders or miss with your first shot, a single shotgun puts you at a significant disadvantage.

Double barrel shotguns at least provide you with two opportunities to hit the target. However, if the price is an issue, double-barrel guns often cost more.