Ultimate home defense = shotguns?


January 11, 2003, 12:28 PM
I've heard that rifles and pistols will go through several layers of walls before finally stopping, so is it such a good idea to have one for home defense use? I live in a highly populated area, and I would hate to see a stray bullet hit a neighbor. Is a shotgun a good answer to this problem? I heard that shotguns will not penetrate most walls. Is this true or should I slap him for being an idiot and myself for being gullible?

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January 11, 2003, 12:59 PM
Yes and no.
Depends alot on the ammo used and the power of the handgun. Hollowpoint loads are more likely to transfer thier energy. In a shotgun, buckshot will go clean through walls, but #4 shot will probably not. And thats lead or 'soft' shot. Steel shot will penetrate because it doesn't transfer energy the same way.

Lets eliminate rifles from the equation, because most modern high powered rifles are not optimum for home defense. Overpenetration, hard to maneuver without proper training, and not as simple to operate at 2 am when your adreneline is flowing....

The problem comes in what you're using the gun for.
Alot of people have kids. Try carrying a 3 year old and operating a shotgun...not going to happen. On the flip side, if you live alone, a shotgun makes more sense.
However, the water gets muddier when it comes down to things such as checking out a noise in the basement. Try maneuvering with a shotgun. The problem comes when there are areas that cannot be seen, a perp could easily be inside your 'personal space' before you can fire. Not so easy with a handgun, you can bring it into your own body and fire 'from the hip', needing only about 6" of space to operate the firearm.
However, if you know someone is in the house, and where everyone is, and you're in one room on the phone with 911, the shotgun makes the perfect barricade weapon. At 20', a well patterned shotgun will clear out a doorway nicely :neener:
So, in otherwords:
Different tools for different jobs.
I'd say use a handgun with high quality expanding ammo (hollow points). A shotgun is a decent option, and I wouldn't fault you for keeping a short one around :cool:

January 11, 2003, 12:59 PM
almost any kind of gun will pierce interior walls (which is a layer of dry wall, 4 inches of space, and another piece of dry wall) and still have enough energy to go aways and kill someone. the only thing that won't is possibly .22 CB ammo or light bird shot, but then you're compromising stopping power. it would be best to aim well, fast, and hard, my friend, than to sacrifice stopping power.

January 11, 2003, 01:09 PM
Dunno if I want to be carrying the little one while engaging a BG with any firearm. Carrying the youngster to a safe location, yes. But during a firefight?

Our house has a couple layers of defense, but in our situation, the handguns are best described as tools to get closer to the 12-gauge.

January 11, 2003, 02:37 PM
I agree that shotguns are the best because of the variety of shot sizes available.

I researched this and came up with #4 shot for my situation - plaster walls and fairly close neighbors. I plan to get my kids behind me beforehand, even if I was using .22 birdshot.

Along with a shotgun -- especially if you have kids, put a plan together to get to a safe room with a lock, a phone and an escape route.

January 11, 2003, 02:55 PM
Hold on there! Something you and others need to know about shotguns, in close confines, the shot initially coming out is going to stay in one solid mass and will be acting as one very big bullet. this will also have the tendency to penetrate walls. Shotshell velocities at the muzzle can equal rifles.

As with any gun, be sure of your backstop. Be sure of what you are shooting at.

Inside 15yards and upwards of 25 yards, shotshells do not spread as much as TV lies to you about.

With this knowledge, a shotgun is utterly devastating in HD situations.

Suggest you visit the Shotgun section for more info, as well as visit TFL for numerous past postings on same subject.

January 11, 2003, 04:19 PM
i wouldnt go 4 a shotgun anyway!

January 11, 2003, 04:29 PM
CWL is right the smallest shot I have tried this with is 8 1/2.
At 6-10 feet it went through a 2x4" piece of pine just like a solid slug.

Just make sure you slow the shot (any shot) down enough by making sure that it goes through the bad guy first.


Art Eatman
January 11, 2003, 04:53 PM
The thing about smaller shot from a smooth-tube is that the pellets lose a lot of energy when penetrating a wall. Neighbors in other houses are thus at small risk.

To some extent, it seems to me that a bit of forethought about "fire lanes" or "fire zones" would be useful: You consider areas from which it is safe to fire down a hallway or across a room, and don't go to places where you might endanger others. You have no choice, by and large, as to the responsibility toward others' safety as well as your immediate Bad Guy problem.

More armchair theorizing: If any shot you fire is at a somewhat upward angle, danger to others is reduced. Shooting from one's hip toward the upper torso of a Bad Guy, e.g. No law says you have to stand erect as in a Western movie. Heck, get down on the floor in a safe-ish location and let the BG do the moving. :)


January 11, 2003, 05:04 PM
I was looking for a good compromise and found these at my local gun shop. Recoil is SIGNIFICANLY less than a standard buckshot load. These are a good solution for me because I live in a single-family home surrounded by concrete block.


Reduced Recoil SWAT Buckshot 10 Pack

12 ga 2 3/4" 3 DRAM 1,220 velocity 9 pellets(00)

The pattern at 21 feet is spread over 6-8" or so. I should have saved the silhouettes to show you all.

I was reading something the other day where they tested for the best alternative. The result was a the Federal Classic F127 in #1 BS. If I find it, I'll post the link.

EDIT: I found the link here - http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs10.htm

I found this article that specifically talks about the Estate Cartridge and compares it to the Federal "tactical" cartridge.


January 11, 2003, 09:03 PM
If the sound of a shotgun being racked doesn't scare away the home invader, nothing will...:D

January 11, 2003, 09:15 PM
If the sound of a shotgun being racked doesn't scare away the home invader, nothing will...

"We'll take up the challenge" :D

January 11, 2003, 09:31 PM
Art brings up a most often forgotten thought --Fire lanes & Fire zones. Heavy Furniture, Bookcases...etc. Cover/concealment -or-backstops...depending which way bullets going...hopefully away from you:D

I haved tested, played , compared various bullets, shot sizes against common barriers such as drywall 2x4, 2x6...etc.

I had an LEO as an neighbor in an apt setting...drunken party and ND with .40 Thankfully I wasn't home because the other direction would have been me as my bedroom coincided with his LR. .40 (going other way) coincided with neighbors LR and stopped by her entertainment center...straight trajectory no angles.

Some have re-enforced walls with bags of sand, pea gravel anything that one can place beween studs and drywall. During construction easy, after requires attic and finding studs and placing that way. Say to protect a childs room.

January 11, 2003, 09:35 PM
Dunno if I want to be carrying the little one while engaging a BG with any firearm


If you have to go scoop up a little one, and are confronted, say, in the hallway before you make it to your safe room, what then??? Do so unarmed? I'll be carrying a handgun in one hand, child in the other. I practice shooting one handed every time I shoot.

January 11, 2003, 09:37 PM
For optimum and cost effective home defense, my research had narrowed things down to two weapons.

A .38 +P JHP special revolver on the night stand. Something in the 3 to 4 inch barrrel, like a Ruger SP101, GP101, or S&W. Something you can shoot under the covers.

An 18 inch barrel 7 shot 20 gauge pump shotgun using #3 shot magnums, like a Winchester Defender.


A .38 is controllable, and will do the job. +P .38 JHPs will be adequate. A 20 gauge for the same reason. Neither will overpenetrate. Just my two cents.

January 11, 2003, 09:47 PM
bdb---your opinion brings many factors to mind.

January 11, 2003, 09:49 PM
I'm in an apt. Due to size and arrangement I use my CCW. Chances are more probable I'll need answering the door than a break in. Break in I have a plan and fire lanes per se. I feel this works best for me.

Now I have mom up with shotgun. Due to arrangement of her house and living alone, and she can't use a handgun due to arthritis. Bedroom door locks with a 'door keeper' (fits under handle) re-enforced bathroom door with a beefed-up lock. Cell phone, flashlights etc, I felt this best for mom.

Ron L
January 11, 2003, 10:25 PM
For the house that we're in now, it would have to be either my S&W 639 9mm or Remington Youth in 20 gauge but since our HD plan doesn't include clearing the house, the SG would be fine. (In our current house, I can cover and protect the hallway leading to all 3 BR doors from one position.) I'd leave my Dan Wesson loaded with 38+P's in the room with my wife if I ever had to leave, but that's not in the general planning.

January 12, 2003, 07:39 PM
I keep a 12ga under my bed, loaded with 5 rounds of 00 buck, plus three 00 and three slugs on the side saddle, in case of a home invasion. I figure if 8 rounds of 00 buck, and 3 rounds of 1 oz slugs dont stop an intruder, then nothing short of artillery would do me any good.

I do also keep my CCW next to my bed, with 2 extra mags, but it is only a .380, so i would much rather rely on my shotgun if it came down to it. A pistol is used to fight your way to your long gun.

Look at how your home is set up, and then go from there. My home is 2 floors, narrow and long, and only has 3 points of entrance; 2 sliding doors, and 1 reinforced front door. Any intruder would have to make it through the doors, without noise, and then manage to get up my stairs, turn a corner, then come towards my bedroom where my wife and i are. My plan is to get to the top of the staircase, and cover the stairs. If a person decides to try and go up the stairs, they will turn a corner on the ground floor, and be face to face with my 12ga, with me concealed behind a banister. My backstop would be the 1st floor's floor, with noone under us. So i wouldn't have to worry about wounding or killing a neighbor. If i can't get to stairs quickly enough, then i will have a clear shot down the hallway from my bedroom to the stairs, with our second room (used as an office) as a backstop. So any missed shots would have to go through a door, an inside wall, and outside wall, and then another outside wall and inside wall 10-15yards away before it would reach another apt. And that apt is empty right now.

Like Art said, plan ahead. Find your firelanes,then you can decide what firearm is best for you.


January 12, 2003, 08:21 PM
There's no such thing as "ultimate home defense" that we can control. But an unchoked shotgun will asuredly take out most any invaders intent on stealing things and not knowing you're there and ready.

It's an area weapon as opposed to a pistol that requires precision placement. The stories of the pattern being the bore diameter at HD distances are overstated. Shoot up some boxes or something at 7-10 yards to see what I mean.

The terror factor of being on the muzzle end of a shotgun firing is immense.

They've got a lot going for them as HD weapons.... :D

January 12, 2003, 08:33 PM
I was more concerned about the little one taking a hostile bullet as you're shooting it out with the BG.

A valid concern, certainly not deserving of a :banghead:

And, no, I'm not accusing you of using the kid as a human shield.

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