HD Gun -- Stock or Tricked Out?


January 1, 2003, 08:11 PM
This one has been covered over at TFL, but I thought we might give it a go here.

A thread over in General entitled "So you've got 'im at gunpoint..." got me to thinking more about the repercussions of having to use a gun in terms of home defense. It seems that two schools of thought occur with regard to shotguns:

1) Use a stock gun. The possible result is that law enforcement or a jury would be less likely to view you as "eager" to shoot the intruder. Also, the gun would be much easier to replace when the LEO confiscates it. The downside is that the gun may be harder to manage indoors (longer barrel, no light, e tc.).

2) Use a gun with modifications. Here, the thinking is that a modified gun is more effective for home defense and therefore, lessens your chances of being harmed. You will likely have more rounds at your disposal, a light, and a shorter barrel with better sights. The downside here is that folks may see anyone who owns such a gun as a "gun nut" who couldn't wait to pull the trigger. Also, the gun is going to be more expensive and more difficult to replace, especially if it's a project gun that you've put together over time.

Personally, I have built a shotgun that is more practical for home defense. It has a short 20" barrel with rifle sights, a mag extension, a light, etc. I figure that the advantages outweigh the possible perceptions that could follow. However, I do live in a more conservative state when it comes to firearm ownership and self-defense usage.

What about you? What's your thinking on this topic?

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January 1, 2003, 08:36 PM
I use a 26" 12 gauge autoloader. It's stock except for a Choate mag extension and a fat red bead up front. I see the shotgun in a "static" role in home defense, confined to the bedroom, so the length is of no concern. If I need to move about the house, I'll take the .45 auto. If the battle is outdoors, I'll take a short rifle if I have the time.

I use this shotgun for skeet and sporting clays with the mag extension removed, and for practical shotgun in its home defense guise. I use it for some varieties of bird hunting in season, as well. Thus, I am very familiar with it. I think this familiarity will go further in defensive action than the sundry gadgets available.

I do live in a rather gun-sensitive area (Connecticut), but that hasn't really figured into my thinking on this. I do confess that my wood-stocked and vent-ribbed gun might look better to a jury than a Scattergun Tech piece, but I don't entirely buy into the "Ayoob theory" on gun appearance/name, despite being an LFI graduate.


January 1, 2003, 08:55 PM
I think that things go south fast when you start hanging things on defense guns.
When you get the guys with the pistol grip, barrel shroud, laser sight, shotshell bandoleer sling, and "Cool" forends, the guns quickly start to get over weigh and cumbersum. One big advantage of the shotgun is SPEED. You can swing and shoot quickly until the gun gets over-accessorized.

In the case of any defense gun, less is more.

My personal choice is a Remington 870 Police gun, with a Choate magazine extender. In my situation, I don't require a light.

It's going to be tough to make a case that I'm a "Gun Nut" when the gun I have is EXACTLY the same gun every Cop, Sheriff, State Trooper, and Federal agent in the country uses.

Figure out what you REALLY NEED, and stick with it. Forget the "toys". These are usually added by people who really want to customize the gun and make it "theirs", or who have an unrealistic view of defense situations.

It is extremely unlikely most of us will be shooting it out with Infantry Platoons, motorcycle gangs, or rogue SWAT teams.
Therefore, do you REALLY need the bayonet, the IR light, and the folding stock?

If you want a toy, get a toy. If you want a defense gun, think about what's really needed in your situation, and get one that fills the need without any unnecessary frills.

January 1, 2003, 09:08 PM
Up here in Canada we have to lock up guns and ammo in separate containers. Shoot someone in selfdefence??? Prepare for legal nightmare.

So basically the only scenario us Canucks might face is the esconced in bedroom, tell the criminal we called police and tell to take what he wants and leave and wait for police. Hopefully you also are calling via cell phone to 911 and they just recorded your verbal warning as proof of your unwillingness to seek out combat etc....

Mind you...taking this approach would likely help a lot in the very litigious US as well

Now if after all that he still breaks in the locked bedroom door that's a little different.
Average distance we're looking at is about 3-5 yards maximum.
I would take a stock shotgun. leave a light on to ID criminal and you don't really need all that extra ammo in the sidesaddle...pointless since if you stored gun with ammo in sidesaddle that's illegal in Canada. You don't really need the flashlight, extended magazine, and other goodies. About the only thing worth getting is maybe a larger more visible bead/front sight.

I bought a Remington 870 Home defence...18" barrel, parkerized finish, polymer furniture, 4 round magazine and find it just fine.

Hope this helps.

January 1, 2003, 11:26 PM
It depends. If you can afford to put a fore end light on it, do so if you don't have a handgun with a light. Don't spend money you don't have to, but a light is needed for identification of your target in darkness.

Having a light is prudent. A sidesaddle full of flechette rounds isn't.

January 2, 2003, 12:15 AM
Would a taclight + sidesaddle + sling on a Benelli (providing reliablility is %110) be sufficient or is that overdoing it?

Dave McCracken
January 2, 2003, 06:04 AM
No bigger can o' worms exists in Shotgunland. A few points...

First, an absolutely stock pumpgun right out of the box is a very good CQB weapon. Any of the Big Four will do fine.Key factors include a good fit, good trigger, sights one can use on low light, and familiarity.

Second,the addons and mods are not terribly hard to defend in court. Exceptions include bayonets and "witty" sayings.I know one shotgunner whose clays gun has a black stock with a Jolly Roger on it,the old skull and crossbones. I hope he never has to use that one in a crisis.

Third, since juries contain about the same ratio of gun cognizant folks as Congress does honest ones, a Wingmaster may be less detrimental than a Persuader or Terminator. And the AK based Saiga may be a worse choice, few folks out there do not have an emotional reaction to seeing an AK.

Fourth,the financial loss after having a shotgun confiscated may not be a problem. The cops may take your shotgun pending an investigation, but if the shooting is found to be justified, you'll get it back in most jurisdictions. If not, setting up another with most of the bellsnwhistles will run less than $500.A bare bones used Big Four shotgun, more like $300.

And, if you have LE experience and the shotgun matches your duty one, you have a good argument in court as to your choice.If I were on the witness stand being grilled by a bottom feeder shyster, my response would be something like this...

"Sir, the reasons I used a shotgun are the great familiarity more than 40 years of use has given me, and the training I received and sought on my own indicated it was the best choice for defending my family".

January 2, 2003, 06:35 AM

I'm flattered my thread sparked thought! :D

Funny; I've asked the same question: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=1744679#post1744679

The general consensus was; yes, a "scary-looking" gun will be looked upon with less favor than "grandad's old shottie."

Furthermore, IMO, all the mods and "toys" only serve to complicate matters.

With any gun you would trust your life you, it should be clean, simple, and reliable. The more bells and whistles you stick on there, the more potential for problems.


Frankly, I think this would be a great topic to bring up in General Discussion!


January 2, 2003, 06:54 AM
I have a stock 870 Wingmaster with a 18.5 barrel.

Al Thompson
January 2, 2003, 09:24 AM
I went down the kool path and have returned to 99% stock SGs. When I bought this house, I realized that I needed two firearms to get proper coverage. One aspect of the stock gun is that one can afford two of the big four for less than one Uber SG.

If you can find the police trade-in guns, it's more like a four to one advantage in price.

As regards the evil black gun question, it depends where you live. Here in rural south, it's probably a non-issue. If I was elsewhere, it may be a consideration.

Lots of folks try to purchase skill. As my long serving bro-in-law says, the banger with the Tec-9 dosen't really worry him, but the redneck with the rusty pump that he's killed bunches of critters with gives him the chills.

January 2, 2003, 03:47 PM
With the exception of side saddle (I store my shotgun unloaded but with a full sidesaddle) my gun is stock. I am a big guy in fairly good shape and a fullsize shotgun with everything but a canopener attached is waaaay to cumbersome.

Dave McCracken
January 2, 2003, 07:39 PM
My HD 870 does have lots of addons, it served as the test bed for same during my instructor's career for MD DOC.Several of these have been adopted since, though I'm sure the credit went elsewhere. Since I keep good records, I still have copies of reports concerning these dating back to 1981.

The sole exception among the addons is the Side Saddle, and I doubt it'll cause any contention for me in court.YMMV....

Andrew Wyatt
January 2, 2003, 08:08 PM
my HD shotgun doesn't have a light on it, but it has mossberg factory sights and a buttcuff on it, and a sling, and a paintjob.

I should put a light on it, since that's really the only necessary HD shotgun acessory.

January 3, 2003, 12:02 AM
My HD shotgun is completely stock. All my money goes toward ammunition, practice and training - those are the only necessary accessories.

January 3, 2003, 12:15 AM
Dave has good points. I have been on too many juries (and played foreman) Most don't know/don't care (ok the foreman and few wanted a 'closer look' :D ) Attorneys can be both firearm savy and stupid ('where the clip for this revolver :uhoh: ).

Use your head, a good shoot is a good shoot. Single shot Topper or uber tactital.

This poor boy like stock, beware the dude that shoots one gun--he may have practiced while you drooled and dreamed.---heard this, liked and stole it [thanks harvey]

January 3, 2003, 05:20 AM
All you guys with your slide guns are making me feel like a hillbilly. All I got is an abused (by the previous owner not me) Stevens 311. The right barrel was split some when I bought it, but still had enough good steel to prune it back to about 20inches. A good stout reload with 4 shot in each barrel is about as tactical as I get.

January 3, 2003, 05:34 AM
yep, sounds like enough gun to me.

Dave McCracken
January 3, 2003, 06:08 AM
That 311 will do the job, Okie.

The best accessory for a HD shotgun is a truckload of ammo. Technology's a poor substitute for expertise. Add the gadgets and gizmos AFTER you're $%^&*() deadly,(If you want to)when you can tell what will aid and what just removes cash from your wallet with a soft sucking sound.

January 3, 2003, 05:19 PM
The jury thing is always something to be considered but it usually goes back to the "Rather judged by 12 than carried by 6".

IF the 10 million accessories works for you and truly does help you shoot better, more power to you.

Captain Bligh
January 3, 2003, 06:59 PM
Mine is a plain jane 870 Express with a 18.5" barrel. Nothing else added. I've never seen the point.


January 9, 2003, 01:26 PM
My Maverick 88/Mossberg came with a 28" barrel, I bought the 20" or so a few years later. Other than the short tube, it is still "Factory Box Stock".

Works 4 me

January 9, 2003, 02:10 PM
I have a semi stock (sling and butt stock shell holder) Rem 870 and find that it works very well for my skeet shooting needs as well as a possible home defense weapon.

I think if your going to add stuff to your shotgun, it should only be items that will add to the overall usability of the weapon not just putting things on it to look cool. If you know from experience that an accessory will help you shoot better than add it but if it might get in the way, forget it!

I have seen people that thought they had the ultimate "tactical" shotgun look like fools at the range when the pistol grip and folding stock gets in their way or the heat sheild snags on their shirt tail or their red dot sight doesn't work because they forgot to turn it off.:scrutiny: I like the K.I.S.S. idea best.

January 11, 2003, 01:42 PM
But the 20" smoothbore deer barrel, mag tube extension, big head safety button, hi-vis green magazine follower, and metal barrel heatshield do have value, at least from my extended sessions at the range. The bayonet lug was just part of the mag-tube/barrel clamp assembly. I learned rather quickly that the optional mounted bayonet is gonna be more trouble than it's worth. ;)

January 11, 2003, 02:33 PM
I think if your going to add stuff to your shotgun, it should only be items that will add to the overall usability of the weapon not just putting things on it to look cool.

Dead on...I just exited the "cool" stage. Restocked all the shotties in wood, kept only the mag extensions and sling swivels. In the cabinet, slings are off until the SGs are ready to take out to the bucholic Wisconsin countryside.

Plain wood, plain shotgun, a pleasure to behold in its simplicity and no less effective without all the tactical doodads...

Duke of Lawnchair
January 11, 2003, 09:17 PM
My HD shotgun is bone-stock.

Why? I like it that way. I tried the sidesaddle route, but didn't feel that it was of any great benefit for inside the home. Took it off and kept it off. I am, however, considering a dedicated weapon light, that's it. Ammunition seems to be the best accessory that I've been investing in.

Slings do not adorn my shotgun unless I'm out and about in the "field."

I've never really given any thought to the legal repercussions of modifying a firearm for home/self defense. Just as long as I stay within the legal limits, then I see no reason to fret.

January 11, 2003, 10:37 PM
1000 thoughts on this, hahaha.

Mine are as follows.

If you already have a shotgun you don't really need to go buy a HD shotgun. Unless of course it is a Marlin Goose Gun and is longer than my ceiling is tall. Additionaly, if you have a single shot only or a gun that may not be reliable, you are in need of of HD shotgun.

I have many shotguns in different forms and feel 100% secure with out having a "Home Defense" shotgun.

Now, atty's can make a case out of anything! Take a standard HD shotgun that's bone stock! So Mr. Defendant, what is the main purpose of this 18" bbl, we used to call "sawed off"? Do you use this gun to hunt with? Do you have a hunting liscense? Tell me about your last hunting outing using this gun? Mr. Denfendant is true you have many firearms that are not intended for use in hunting? How many guns do own? Does the slug used in the gun or the #1 buckshot mean you were expecting someone? What about the the firearms the police found that were in easy access to you? Do you visit Gun sites on the internet frequently? Could it be possible you were so prepared Mr. defendant that you may have even been looking for this opportunity? bla bla bla

I only say this to make you wonder about whether adding ancillary products really makes any difference? In my opinion, an good atty. can make a decent argument anyway. The other products would just be plus.

January 13, 2003, 03:04 AM
Adding to my other thoughts. :D

Actually I can see where the addition of a tacticle light to a HD shotgun would be beneficial in a legal case. It can show an intent to be careful and responsible! It can also be said that the need to be able to identify the perp is of such importance that a normal hunting/sporting shotgun would not be sufficient in being able to responsibly defend yourself, your family and at the same time protect other friendly's that may enter your home from harm.

Cool, I knew I would find a good responsible reason to buy one! :D :D


Duke of Lawnchair
January 13, 2003, 03:15 AM
Cool, I knew I would find a good responsible reason to buy one!

Just don't stare at it for too long!!!!!! You'll see spots!


Actually, the both of us follow the same train of thought regarding a weapon's light. Identification.


January 13, 2003, 11:08 AM
I had been debating getting a stock 870 and 1187 (both Police models) or just going whole hog for the Wilson variants. I've decided to go stock, and only add those modifications that I decide that I truly need after using both for a while. I anticipate adding jumbo safeties and ghost ring sights (I can't find an 870 P with such sights already installed nor a tritium front sighted 1187) and sidesaddles. But those can come later. The stock versions should fully meet my immediate HD needs.

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