Shotgun vs Rifle for HD?


July 22, 2007, 08:39 PM
What is your opinion on shotgun vs rifle for HD?

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July 22, 2007, 08:41 PM
Sorry. Which rifle? Which shotgun? What kind of house?

July 22, 2007, 08:51 PM
for many reasons, a 12GA with 00buck is better for HD than a rifle

A: overpenetration
B: wider coverage of target
C: instant AIT (average incapacitation time)

get a Rem 870 pump the "HD MODEL".......most have one bedside.

it has to be 1000 to 1 of people who have shotgun bedside over rifle........obvious choice.

July 22, 2007, 08:52 PM
This has been discussed before, my take away is that a shotgun is good but deciding which ammo is up for discussion. Rifles can be a viable option so long as the over penetration issue is addressed. Some folks say that the AR platform is .223 is an acceptable HD rifle, especially in a carbine version.

July 22, 2007, 09:03 PM
look in the library stickied at the top of this page.

July 22, 2007, 10:40 PM
Usually when I ride my H-D and I want to cary it is a revolver

July 23, 2007, 12:09 AM
IMO a 12ga rules in close quarters. It will not overpenetrate as much with the right load and cannot be beat in knock down power.

If you HAD to be shot with one...which would it be?
Choose wisely then pick the latter for defense!


A .223 HP round


9 9mm's hitting your torso in the size of a fist.

I choose shotty for close quarters.


July 23, 2007, 12:24 AM
For home defense...any gun is better than no gun.

That out of the way, the "BEST" gun all depends on you, your house and your situation. If you are an experienced deer hunter and you live in a rural setting, your deer rifle and some handy reloads are probably a great choice.

If you are a regular trap shooter, the 18.5" barrel version of your favorite trap gun loaded with #4 or buckshot would be deadly to any intruder.

If you shoot competitive pistol, your competitive pistol with any backup rifle handy for long-term engagements would be a great plan.

If you only have a few hundred dollars for one gun...a Mosin Nagant or an SKS can defend your property...but be sure to include the fact that the standard full-metal-jacket bullets travel VERY FAR in your plans. Maybe a nice Rem 870 shotgun would be a better investment for HD.

In the most simplistic terms:
City - pistol or shotgun
Suburbs - pistol, shotgun or .223
Rural - pistol, shotgun AND RIFLE for sure.

And I personally believe all of the above should have a high power rifle back up for:
A. Pro-Active Self-defense
B. Getting more folks into high-power rifle competitions

A $99 Mosin Nagant now can handle pretty much anything. That price WILL rise. While other guns are always available.

I suggest you buy a lot of guns. Now. While you still can.

And tell your friends and neighbors to buy and shoot guns as well. Then we may just get past this "shotgun vs. rifle" debacle and every American citizen will just own both and use when applicable.

July 23, 2007, 12:35 AM
If you are a rifle man get a rifle.
If you are a shotgun man get a shotgun.
If you can shoot both well then it doesn't really matter.
If you can shoot neither well then it doesn't really matter.

Evil Monkey
July 23, 2007, 02:04 AM
I hear those super light ar15 carbines with the pencil thin 16" barrel are great for home defense because they are so light and easy to maneuver with.

My ideal home defense weapon would be a short 8" barreled Saiga 12 semi auto shotgun with 5 or 8 round mags. Though, I have a WASR 10 AK and feel fine with that. A short barreled rifle like a 10.5" colt commando would be nice if you can get those NFA weapons where you live but I suspect the blast and flash would be quite vicious and may put you in a tactical disadvantage.

July 23, 2007, 07:58 AM
Depends on what you like to shoot the most, which will determine how competent you are with it.

Personally, I don't really like shotguns (and hence, don't own one), which is why I'd go with a .223 and fragile JHP's for the HD role over a shotgun. But if you enjoy shooting shotguns, by all means go that route. Both will serve you equally well if you are competent with them.

July 23, 2007, 01:57 PM
Are you shooting the HD itself, or the outlaw biker riding the HD? It is generally easier to find rifle ammo that will penetrate into the vitals of the HD, though the hard-core Brenneke shotgun slugs will penetrate admirably. If you are forced to quickly deploy the weapon while inside your vehicle, as when the HD rider is in a fit of road rage, a handgun might be preferable to either rifle or shotgun at that moment in time, though a long gun is better for continuing the engagement once your vehicle is stopped.

July 23, 2007, 03:57 PM
For me: When the zombies come stumbling towards my house, I'll pick 'em off with my AR from a distance. Then if they happen to get inside, my Benelli 12ga with 1 shot or 00 buckshot. Then I still have a Glock 10mm and a XD-9 to finish them off. Whew! need cold one after that - killing zombies makes a guy thirsty.

Seriously though, get what you are comfortable with. If you are better with a pistol, get one. If you like rifles, use one. If you are handy with a shotgun, that's your answer. Usual caveats of over penetration apply.

July 23, 2007, 04:03 PM
A pistol is the easiest to keep handy. It's the hardest to shoot accurately.

A shotgun is the most devastating if fired at an intruder. It shouldn't be used very well if there's hostage or other family member near line of fire. It also tends to have a lot of flash, blast, sound and recoil.

A rifle has the most precise aim and longest range, and can sustain faster accurate fire, but it is generally the most unwieldy -- with some exceptions of course.

Depends on which you want.

July 23, 2007, 04:04 PM
Whichever one you have the most training and experience with. I'll take the shotgun every time.

July 23, 2007, 04:05 PM
If I could only choose one or the other, I'd go with the standard 12ga with 00. I imagine it would be much more effective at the close ranges inside a house (5-30 feet).

July 23, 2007, 11:40 PM
12 ga first round #7 shot. It will not over penetrate walls if you are shooting across the room, if intruder is close it will clean his clock for good. If he is not smart enough to leave after that the next round of 00 should do the job.

July 24, 2007, 12:23 AM
definately the shotgun. i rely on my Mossberg 20 ga Maverik and 000 buck, or #2 shot shells.

July 24, 2007, 07:50 AM
Not an expert either.

Both will do the job admirably, IMO. However, a Mossberg 500 or Remmy Express can be had for $200-300. An AR15 is probably going to run 3 times that.

July 24, 2007, 08:26 AM
I like my Hi-Point carbine. It's shorter than any full-stock short barreled shotgun, 10 rounds of 115 gr HP 9mm should be sufficient with little chance of overpenetration, the gun has been 100% reliable from day one, and if someone is using my wife as a shield and has a knife to her throat and for some reason I MUST shoot, and I only have a couple of inches clearance to put one between his eyes, a spreading column of shot does me no good at all. And if it ever becomes necessary, it has easily twice the effective range of a shotgun with non-slug loads. And it retails for less than $200.00

July 24, 2007, 08:58 AM
My wife and daughter would go for the Hipoint 9mm carbine or 10/22.

I would go for my 590 12ga.


July 24, 2007, 05:25 PM
The shotgun is going to be all-around more friendly to you, your family and your neighbors in terms of noise, flash and penetration while still delivering a very lethal blow. Since very few criminals actually sport body armor, you should have no problem dropping them.

A rifle fired in the confines of a house is almost certainly going to cause permanent hearing damage to you and anyone else in the room. And while some of the small caliber, high velocity rounds tend to actually penetrate less than handgun rounds, most rifle cartridges will exit your home with considerable energy.

That said, I keep both handy. My primary HD firearm is a S&W 1006 10mm, but I keep a Remington 11-87 police loaded with 00 Buck and an Armalite AR-10 carbine with 150 gr. ball in it and spare mags with a variety of loads from 110 grain V-maxes to 162 grain AP rounds.

And before anyone asks the million dollar question, the answer is that I couldn't think of a good reason NOT to.

July 24, 2007, 09:41 PM
A rifle fired in the confines of a house is almost certainly going to cause permanent hearing damage to you and anyone else in the room.
No more than a shotgun, given similar barrel length.


.410 Bore
28" barrel...............150dB
26" barrel...............150.25dB
18" barrel...............156.30dB

20 Gauge
28" barrel...............152.50dB
22" barrel...............154.75dB

12 Gauge
28" barrel...............151.50dB
26" barrel...............156.10dB
18" barrel..............161.50dB


.223, 55gr. Commercial load 18 _" barrel.....155.5dB
.243 in 22" barrel...........................155.9dB
.30-30 in 20" barrel.........................156.0dB
7mm Magnum in 20" barrel.....................157.5dB
.308 in 24" barrel...........................156.2dB
.30-06 in 24" barrel.........................158.5dB
.30-06 in 18 _" barrel.......................163.2dB
.375 18" barrel with muzzle brake...........170 dB


.25 ACP...........155.0 dB
.32 LONG..........152.4 dB
.32 ACP...........153.5 dB
.380..............157.7 dB
9mm...............159.8 dB
.38 S&W...........153.5 dB
.38 Spl...........156.3 dB
.357 Magnum.......164.3 dB
.41 Magnum........163.2 dB
.44 Spl...........155.9 dB
.45 ACP...........157.0 dB
.45 COLT..........154.7 dB

There doesn't seem to be a huge difference between shotgun, pistol, and rifle noise levels, although the sound spectrum is undoubtedly different. There is a correlation with caliber (e.g., .30-06 is louder than .223 and .357 is considerably louder than 9mm or .45). There's a tight correlation with barrel length (shorter is louder for any given caliber), but less correlation with velocity. For all the 7.62x39mm shooters out there, I'd assume the sound levels would be about the same as .30-30, which it resembles.

For those who don't grok decibels, it's a logarithmic scale (usually log10); a 3dB difference equals twice the radiated acoustic energy, and a 10dB difference is ten times the radiated acoustic energy. The ear perceives a 10dB difference as a doubling in volume, and IIRC the average person can just barely distinguish a 1dB difference. A car interior at highway speeds is 60-70 dB, a vacuum cleaner in the 80's to 90dB, I think, for perspective.

The upshot is, if you have to shoot in self-defense in an HD situation, you will probably suffer some degree of hearing damage, and pretty much any effective choice (carbine, shotgun, pistol) is equally likely to cause such damage, sans suppressor. But if low probability of hearing damage were the primary criterion for choosing an HD gun, we'd all be using .22 carbines with subsonic ammo.

And while some of the small caliber, high velocity rounds tend to actually penetrate less than handgun rounds, most rifle cartridges will exit your home with considerable energy.
A loaded brick-and-mortar exterior wall will stop most intermediate caliber rifle rounds (and our house is brick), but when I keep a carbine for HD, I load it with lightweight JHP's anyway. I'll trade a little gelatin penetration for less wall penetration in that caliber (which is the same tradeoff a shotgunner would be making in situations in which wall penetration were a concern).

I don't dispute that the shotgun is an HD weapon par excellence, but I would argue that given intelligent load selection, a .223 carbine can also be.

July 24, 2007, 11:03 PM
Shotgun vs Rifle for HD?

July 24, 2007, 11:12 PM
While the shotgun has it's place I prefer a 16" barreled AR-15 with a telescoping stock. It is much lighter and shorter than most shotguns and can be used with one hand like a handgun if necessary. Recoil is virtually non-existant while a shotgun with slugs or buckshot has recoil in the 300 magnum range. Birdshot has no place in a self defense gun. I often see people reccomend a shotgun to a beginner, but they would never reccomend a 300 magnum to a beginning hunter because of recoil.

Some are concerned about over penetration from rifle rounds. A 30-30 or other hunting rounds may be a problem, but with good hollowpoint bullets the .223 round will penetrate walls less than buckshot or most handgun rounds.

A shotgun still has to be aimed just as a rifle. At typical self defense ranges the pattern will only be a few inches.

The shotguns main advantages are that it is more versatile and easier for many to use. They are also much cheaper. A quality shotgun can be had for a fraction of what a quality AR will cost.

July 24, 2007, 11:34 PM
[AR-15] Recoil is virtually non-existant while a shotgun with slugs or buckshot has recoil in the 300 magnum range. Birdshot has no place in a self defense gun. I often see people reccomend a shotgun to a beginner, but they would never reccomend a 300 magnum to a beginning hunter because of recoil.

Good point. Something I definitely need to consider.

July 25, 2007, 09:21 AM
For home defense I have come up with a battery of weapons that suit my concerns.

1-Powerful revolver, minimum .357 mag or 1911 45 ACP cocked and locked.

2-870 Remington 20" riot gun, rifle sights and 7 shot extension magazine. 2 3/4" baby mag # 1 buckshot (20 .30Cal pellets)

3-CAR-15 with 20 or 30 rd magazine. Prefered load is Winchester 64 gr power point for good expansion and penetration.

So the solution to your problem is to get both long guns!

If you have to live in an anti gun state, one of the lever action carbines would work well, 30-30, 357, 41 mag or 44 mag.

Short double barreled 12ga also works in these areas also.

The reason I did not opt for any of the high capacity autos is two fold.

1-Power of individual cartridges. In the home protection will be extremely close, I want the most powerful handgun I can control in this situation not numbers of shots.
2-I need to keep it simple for the wife and children to operate.

Good luck and get guns you like to shoot and get good with all of them. Then pray you never need them.

July 25, 2007, 09:41 AM
The traditional default advice is "shotgun".

I, however, am a heretic.

I say "autoloading carbine, either pistol caliber or .223", UNLESS one is already happy, comfortable and experienced with shotguns, OR one is proficient and current in handgun.

Carbines are hard to miss with, even for n00bs, and aren't intimidating to the recoil averse and slight of frame.

July 25, 2007, 11:29 AM
I agree with the heretic position espoused by our moderator. Carbine first, pistol second, shotgun if you're already used to it. I like the versatility of the shotgun a lot, but I don't even have one that I would choose to fight with. Just my hunting double.

I only differ if there are small children: Pistol first, if the shooter has small children to corral in an emergency.

July 25, 2007, 11:41 AM
I reccomend a shotgun, for three reasons:

-It's truly devastating at the close ranges found in a HD situation.

-It's less likely to over-penetrate and hurt others either inside your home, or next door.

-It's what every "soccer mom, average joe" thinks of for a home defense gun. If you actually have to use it and be judged by a DA or a jury you want it to be a shotgun, not a military style "assault rifle".

July 25, 2007, 11:52 AM

Seeing that I have 3 rifles that can be used for home defense and no shotguns that would fit the bill, I guess I would have to go with rifle (my only shotgun is a loooong barrel Model 12 in full choke).

July 25, 2007, 12:11 PM
Even an old double barrelled shotgun with the right load can discharge 32 large metal projectiles into the air in a tenth of a second.
This is the same as a SMG on full auto.

Why would you want a rifle:confused:

July 25, 2007, 01:12 PM
I've done most of my training with my AR15's and somewhat with pistols. Those are the likely choices for me for those reasons alone.

July 25, 2007, 01:21 PM
Even an old double barrelled shotgun with the right load can discharge 32 large metal projectiles into the air in a tenth of a second.
This is the same as a SMG on full auto.

Why would you want a rifle

Because all 32 are going the same direction.

I'd rather have 30 choices.

July 25, 2007, 05:58 PM
See the green bar at the top of this page? Click on search. This has been gone over many, many, many, times.

July 25, 2007, 08:10 PM
Berretta CX4 accurate and capable of devistating damage. A carbine is best if there are other family members in the house. I think a pistol carbine is ideal since it is less likely to over penetrate since I use .40 cal jacketed hollow points. To ease target accuisition id recomend a tactical flashlight & laser combo and some sort of forward grip for rapid manuverability. If a BG is standing near a family members door id rather not be sending 00 buckshot and use of slugs seems like a gurantee for over penetration. However for an economical load a 12 gauge is great especailly if you live in farm country but if in an apartment complex id recomend a pistol or carbine with hollow points.

July 25, 2007, 09:48 PM
Shotgun, period. I plan on someday getting an 870 for that sole purpose.

July 26, 2007, 03:45 PM
This thread may have played before, but it's still an interesting topic.

I personally keep a shotgun with shells most available for HD although
I have a wide choice. Penetration is a concern. My home is brick but has
plenty of windows at center of mass level.

July 26, 2007, 06:37 PM
Lots of opinions, here. Some good reasoning mixed in.

"Rifles are the queen of defensive firearms". Jeff Cooper said something to that effect, and I believe it is true, for the following reasons...

The purpose of a firearm is to PENETRATE. Rifles in mil chamberings have as good or much better penetration performance than shotguns, and rifles feature a wider selection of projectile type/use capability.

Indoor overpenetration is not miraculously affected by use of a shotgun, as indoor structures tend toward concealment rather than cover when using a full-powered long gun. If there's a certain danger of overpenetration and a friendly in the area, you probably shouldn't shoot at that angle. Choose appropriate ammo for your surroundings and TEST that ammo/weapon combo with material representative of your surroundings.

If you have PENETRATION but can't place those shots, your plan of action is significantly compromised. SHOT PLACEMENT is everything in a hostile encounter.

A shotgun is plenty lethal in short-range and even some open area, mid-range defense scenarios. However, a rifle offers something a shotgun can't: PRECISION AND DISCRIMINATION at ALL defensive ranges.

With a shotgun, if your subject is using cover (whether it's deer or a perp), you're relying a lot more on chance rather than cartridge performance. With a rifle and dedication to proficiency, you're capable of dealing with a much wider range of scenarios including distance, barriers and precision. Use your imagination; in the home, in your vehicle, in your neighborhood, etc.

Decent defensive shotgun ammo is as- or more-expensive than comparable military-quality rifle rounds. In a really crappy world situation, a chambering in a military caliber makes more sense than a limited-range, limited-availability chambering such as 12ga.

Even though we really enjoy firearms, most of us have busy life schedules and very limited time for weapons training. With limited time I want to train with an all-around firearm rather than a weapon that has its own restrictions. For most of us, that means a sidearm (CHL) and/or rifle.

Is the shotgun a worthless piece of junk? No, I'm not saying that. It has its place. My patrol vehicle has shotgun and rifle at the ready. I will gladly use either over my sidearm. However, given the choice of long guns, I will choose the rifle 100% of the time, with the shotgun available as a backup or special use tool.

The rifle gives me penetration, precision, ammo availability and the best bang for my training buck/time. Everything else is play at best and failure to prepare at worst.


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