3" 20 ga for defense?


May 15, 2013, 10:48 PM
I have both a 20 ga 3" and a 12 ga 2 3/4" for HD and try as I might I can't justify the extra kick of a 3" 20ga! It'sall about muzzle control and getting back on target fastest! The winner in every try is the 12 ga with as much shot and more control.
At homeowner distances you will doubtfully face ranges more than 20 yards to deal with. At these distances both gauges will deliver the goods but that quick second and maybe 3rd shot is the prize to go for. Who knows what number of attackers you will need to neutralise but if you can't hit em, game is over!
After a lot of thought and some testing I say go with the 2 3/4' in either gauge.
Chances are that you will be firing across only 15 yards of your own realestate so consider how you hit best and with what, Leave the surgical long range stuff to the SWAT guys!

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May 15, 2013, 11:28 PM
You must have one huge house, 15 and 20 yard shots for HD ! If you're in the house and shooting, you're okay, but if outside the house and shooting 15 - 20 yards, you might have your butt in the sling! Especially if they're running away from you, attack has ceased. I've shot both gauges of shotguns, I'd stay with the 20 for repeated shots, quick repeats, JMHO. Others, and their thoughts will be along shortly, just my views.

May 15, 2013, 11:48 PM
Why the 3" in 20ga. for HD ? I'd suggest you buy a couple repair sheets (1/4 sheet) of drywall from Home Depot or Lowes, go out and screw it to a couple of 2x4's, actually, cover both sides. Then stand 15 or 20' (that's feet) away and make a hole - Start with a 2 1/2 skeet load and work up. You'll be surprised if you haven't done this before.
But then, maybe its the neighbors your trying to hit?

May 16, 2013, 01:50 AM
Law enforcement standard for years has been 12 ga, 2 3/4" 00 buckshot. Proven in laboratories and in the real world.

I keep 20 ga 3" magnum #2 buckshot in my pump for home defense.

In the end it boils down to whichever gun you feel most comfortable handling in a tense situation. An intruder will not know the difference between the 12 or the 20, but they might know the difference between buckshot and #9 birdshot. Go for buckshot in either gauge and you'll have everything you need.

May 16, 2013, 04:35 AM
I never bother using 3 inch in my 20ga. Just no practical reason for it.

If you want to deliver the same payload as a 12ga then use a 12ga. The handling advantages of the 20ga comes with less payload but still significant enough to take care of business. If your concerned about overpenitration with shotguns in HD the only way to assure that won't happen is to use birdshot. Slug and buckshot loads are all proven to eat through drywall .

May 16, 2013, 07:44 AM
"You'll be surprised if you haven't done this before.
But then, maybe its the neighbors your trying to hit? "

I have to admit I've never tried it. I don't know what I'd learn, because for the past 33 years I've lived in a brick house with plaster walls - the old kind, with horsehair plaster on wood lath. And the 2x4s are really 2x4 and not 1.5 x 3.5.

And the exterior brick walls are 14" thick. I'm more concerned about the pellets bouncing back at me than I am about hitting the neighbors.


May 16, 2013, 07:21 PM
I'll agree about 3" 20 gauge not being needed, especially for HD distances......

May 16, 2013, 07:47 PM
2 3/4" 20 gauge #3 buck is what I have loaded for show time, with sidesaddle slugs as backup in case I have a barrier to penetrate. 20 pellets of .25 caliber going 1200 fps seems sufficient to me.
I sleep quite well.

May 16, 2013, 08:17 PM
I personally think that when it comes to 12g vs 20g, the 12g is obviously more powerful and more capable but I believe that 20g is completely sufficient. Less recoil, easier to handle, and it will still stop a deer or a bad guy in their tracks with a well placed shot and proper ammunition just as a 12g will.
My first (and possibly only) shotgun purchase will almost certainly be a 20g

May 16, 2013, 08:24 PM
20 ga. 2 3/4".

You don't need to use 3" loads for home defense.

A double tap of 2 3/4" 20 ga would put Attila the Hun belly up and DRT on your living room carpet.


May 16, 2013, 09:13 PM
I have never noticed any of my 3" 20 gauge loads kicking as hard as, or harder than 12 gauge 2.75" loads.
My bed buddy is a Mossberg 12 gauge.
I quit using 12 gauge for birds and small game, once I got my 20 gauge 870.
It kills them just as dead as the 12 did, with less weight and recoil. I don't use 3" shells for birds and small game, just 2.75".
Plus, I can carry more shells and hunt longer, before having to go back to the truck for ammo.

I can tell you one thing about 20 gauge Rottweil Brenneke slugs; what they do to a deer isn't pretty. They take out a nice chunk, and the deer are just as dead as ones I've shot with 12 gauge slugs.
I used to keep my 20 by the bed, loaded with #3 buck.
But, the Mossy has a shorter barrel and is handier.
Plus, I don't have to take the plug out of the magazine when I get home, and remember to put it back in before hunting.

May 17, 2013, 03:26 AM
In a self defense situation you will not not notice recoil, noise or muzzle flash. Your adrenaline will be pumping. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot 3" shells in a self defense situation.

Guns that rattle my dental work when target practicing don't bother me a bit when shooting a deer. Your adrenaline will be flowing at 10x in a SD situation.

May 17, 2013, 07:30 AM
I don't keep a shotgun handy for HD, but I wouldn't worry about any commercial buckshot load not having enough power. I use 3", 20 No 2 buck for deer hunting when I (or more often my wife) use a 20 ga, but that's only because they don't make 3" No 1's for a 20 ga.

I've seen a number of deer killed with 2 3/4" 20 ga 3 and 4 buck. No reason to think they wouldn't work on a goblin.

May 17, 2013, 02:52 PM
I keep a 18-1/2' 870 loaded with 3" #4 buck, and 00 buck staggered in the tube. My first round out is the #4 though. I figure at 10' away that #4 is going to make hamburger of the perpetrator at such close range. And if things require a follow up shot, the 00 will "get er dun".

I also have a .357 snubby under my pillow too, just in case I need to put them out of their misery, humanely speaking of course, kind of like a horse with a broken leg.

And then there is a 20 ga. also loaded with 3" #4 buck on my wife's side of the bed. And under her pillow, who knows what, probably another hand cannon, grenade, or an RPG, knowing her as I do?


deputy tom
May 17, 2013, 07:14 PM
Ten paces to the front door from where I'm sitting right now. 2 3/4" buck from either 12 or 20 will suffice. 3" 20ga hurts me and 3" 12ga is why did I do that? YMMV.tom.:cool:

May 17, 2013, 07:37 PM
I saw an interesting defense show regarding birdshot being effective to 25 yards in 20 gauge, and effective to 35 yards in 12 gauge. Regardless, my living room is about 40 feet (sliding door in back to entrance door in front). Either way you slice it, a 20 or 12 gauge it's gonna put the hurt on a criminal.

For may part I do use 12 gauge. Do I "need" to? No. For my daughter, I bought a 20 gauge with 3" chamber, but purchased 2.75" shells. In sum, 20 you're good to at least 25 yards even with birdshot. With 12, birdshot, buckshot or slugs, you're good to at least 35 yards.


May 17, 2013, 08:47 PM
I saw an interesting defense show regarding birdshot being effective to 25 yards in 20 gauge, and effective to 35 yards in 12 gauge.

I'd seriously question the credibility on that show. 25-35 yards is right at the limits of effectiveness for buckshot. Birdshot won't give complete penetration on a 4 oz. dove at those ranges. I know of no credible person who would recommend birdshot at any range unless it were the only option available. Yea. it has been known to work up close, but that does not make it a good choice.

You buy a 20 guage to have a lighter gun, not for recoil reduction. If you do the math a 20 typically recoils more. Take a 6.5 lb 20 guage Remington 870 with 3/4 oz shot and compare it to a 7.5 lb 12 guage Remington 870 with 1 oz shot. The recoil will be almost identical even though the 12 has 25% more shot. The 1 lb weight difference evens things out. Put any buckshot load in the lighter 20 guage and it will recoil more than a 12. If someone wants to use 3" 20 guage loads they are much better off with a 12.

May 17, 2013, 10:51 PM
Well, there was sufficient energy remaining at those distances to drop a steel popper.

May 18, 2013, 02:38 AM
Both are at doors leading outside, the rest of the shots would be across the room.
On the long shots, I called a long pace a yard, OK?
I was sent o this "chase" y reading about the power of the 3" 20ga for this application. I realize that you get a lot more birdshot with a 12 ga but birdshot dosen't penetrate to vitals.
I think I'll just stay with the 12 and forget the 20 unless I am out of ammo for the big one...

May 18, 2013, 03:45 AM
2 3/4" 20 gauge #3 buck is what I have loaded for show time...

This is fine for HD use.

3" only gives you about 10 percent more distance for hunting.

May 18, 2013, 07:58 PM
Ya, I'll pass on the bird shot for HD myself. I mean, bird shot will obviously do some horrific tissue damage at point blank range, but beyond that, you'll likely only irritate the intruder. I'll stick to #4 buck and 00 buck for my HD needs, 2-3/4" or 3", doesn't really matter I don't think.


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