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On Fighting Shotguns....

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    There's a lot of threads here on what shotgun to get, when to get it and how to use it.

    Like all other areas of human endeavor,there's a mess of misinformation about shotguns and their use under dire peril.

    Here's some opinions, forged over decades and from real word experience. I've been involved with shotguns for a long time.

    Fighting shotguns do not need to be all black, camo or have doodads bolted on, though they can be. They DO have to be reliable and Well known to the User.

    As far as reliability goes, I like the test first espoused by Massad Ayoob. 200 rounds of duty ammo fired glitchless. A failure rate of .5% is acceptable.

    Fighting shotguns do not have to be new designs. One of the oldest repeaters, the Winchester 97, is still one of the better choices.

    Nor do they need to be expensive. A used name brand pump like an 870,500, 37, 1300 can often be purchased for a few day's pay. These can give yeoman service for decades with a bit of PM and TLC.

    And, while off brands made in Third World countries proliferate and sell at low prices, I recommend sticking to known brands made in the US, Japan and Europe. Mechanical Immortality for a pittance.

    Fighting Shotguns do need to FIT the user. A stock fits if when mounted, he or she can use the sights without moving the head and neck and it mounts easily. And of course, the shotgun can be fired in comfort.

    Both wood and synthetic stocks are available in fixed styles. While folders and adjustable AR stocks are popular, best results usually are with fixed stocks as well as they tend to be way more comfortable.Unless you have extreme storage issues, a fixed stock's a better choice. Wood is easier to make fit.

    And, if more than one person may use the shotgun, it should be made to fit the smallest shooter. It's far easier for use a shotgun that's a little short than one that's a little too long.

    And, might as well get this up where people can see it. Despite Hollywood and Net myth, a stockless shotgun with only a pistol grip is much less effective than one with a stock that can be fired from the shoulder. BTDT and got paid to do so. While some of these are used by Police and Military units for breaching, they are merely large, hard kicking and hard to control handguns with bad sights and extremely limited utility.

    Shun them as tools.

    Fighting Shotguns do not have to have double digit magazine capacity. While extended magazines have some utility for some of us, they add weight to the muzzle end, often more than can be handled well. Learn to load and run the gun, then decide if an extension is a good idea for you.

    In fact, fighting shotguns do not have to be repeaters. Even a single shot can be deadly in trained, cool hands.

    Optical and hologram sights really do not add much to effectiveness here. Shotguns are close range weapons.

    Beads, open sights and peep or Ghost Ring sights are the common choices. I find beads the fastest, then peeps, then open sights but YMMV. All shotgunners should try all three and find which works best for them.

    More to come.....
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2008
  2. 106rr

    106rr Well-Known Member

    I noticed on my Rem 870 that after I got everything installed, it was too heavy. This made it slower for the that critical first shot. I would lose the extended mags and get a lightweight light with rifle sights. I would agree with Mr. McCracken and Ayoob. Reliability means everything and tactical appearance means nothing.
  3. axeman_g

    axeman_g Well-Known Member

    One thing that I think works against some shooters is their lack of target and tactical training areas. I only have a rifle range to practice on at a private club. But if there is nobody else there... the shotgun is geting a work out with buck and #4s usually involving moving.

    Sometimes when I pull the hd gun out, other shotgunners give you "the look". I just answer with a practice comment. Use it.. shooting trap with an 18" cyclinder barrel can be frustrating if your after scores... but it is very good practice.

    wood and steel, standard magazine length to hold 5 shells of slug, buck. slug then bucks to finish, 18" bead barrel. Use it till the action is slicker then slick. Make sure it fits.
  4. BBroadside

    BBroadside Well-Known Member

    What about variable choke? Is there any serious disadvantage to it? I know most of the 18" barrels don't have them, but gunsmithing to install doesn't seem to expensive.

    Rifle sights ... this means barrel-mounted open sights, correct? Usually express-type rather than a narrow notch? It's hard to tell much from the gunmaker websites ... they just say "rifle sights" and leave it at that.

    Put glow paint on the sights, or get tritium?

    Sometimes I hear people say a fighting shotgun needs a sling. I assume this is a simple carry strap ... or is it a true rifleman's sling (presumably useful for mid-range slug fighting)? Or one of those one-point slings I know nothing about?

    Finally (yes, I will stop asking questions soon!) what is the best way to mount a tactical light? I heard (again, not sure if the source was reputable) that the integral forend mounts are needlessly heavy, though they certainly do look durable. Not sure if eschewing the magazine extension increases or decreases mounting options down there. TacStar had an interesting mount shaped like a shotgun shell, to fit in a side-saddle ammo holder, but I surmise that the latter is exactly the sort of thing the more experienced gents on this thread would consider unnecessary clutter.
  5. chieftain

    chieftain Well-Known Member

    I have two shotguns I have ready to rock these days.

    I have moved my 590 Mossy to second place. I have moved a new Double barrel with dog ears up to first place. I like the fact that the weapon is like a revolver with no stressed springs, while in the standby position.

    To fire pull back the hammers, release the safety, and, in my case, let lose both barrels of #1 buck. In my BUG out Bag is two boxes of #00 buck if there is still a fight to be fought. Also in that same bag is 3 Mags for the XCR and 3 mags for anyone of my 1911's.

    As to flashlight, I use any of my Surefire's, that are on the bed stand, usually two, most often but not limited to a E2D or now a 6PL. I can comfortably hold both the light and forend of the double with my weak side hand while presenting the shotgun.

    If it is a break in, I will be dug in in my bedroom. There is enough firepower there to outfit a platoon. Lots of rifles, pistols, shotguns, and ammo.

    Just the way I do it these days.

    Good Luck.

  6. Avenger29

    Avenger29 Well-Known Member

    A variable choke can have a place, and I can't think of many disadvantages. Seems intermediate choking wouldn't be too bad of an idea.

    XS makes express style sights, if I am not mistaken. Probably best for speed. Regular rifle style sights can work, too.

    Tritum. More expensive. Glow paint requires light exposure to "charge". Tritium bead or sight set.

    Sling is good outside (as in a patrol shotgun), but not so much inside, in my opinion. Just something to get tangled. QD swivels so that you can easily configure it.

    The only thing from TacStar I would buy is their side saddles, which work pretty well. That is a gimmicky light mount, so I'd avoid it. Surefire forends are great. Their are also a couple of railled forends you could buy and mount a light on it via Picattany rails/mounts. Streamlight makes a ring mount that goes between mag cap and barrel ring with a short rail for a light, like a glock or pistol light. Costs $20. Stay away from other cheap stuff, try to avoid firing with the light in place- recoil is brutal on the light. Even with the surefires you are supposed to remove the light for general use/practice.
  7. axeman_g

    axeman_g Well-Known Member

    Slings are fr outside... SHTF.. two point carry sling for moving or three point for assualt work. In a SHTF.. you make one of two choices....DEFEND or MOVE!!!

    A x2 is about the best HD weapon or defensive weapon ever put on god's green earth. Simple, reliable and effective. Coach guns are +1 IMHO.

    This thread is great... keep it going.
  8. rantingredneck

    rantingredneck Well-Known Member

    On screw in chokes and short barrels

    One of my favorite setups now is a Mossberg 500 I have with an 18.5" heavy wall barrel with Accuchokes. It throws nasty tight patterns with most brands of buckshot I've tried in it. It also makes for a handy woods gun for deer drives and I killed one deer with it this past season (I've only had the gun for six months or so). With a Turkey choke it patterns good with 6's and 5's and should be a good gobbler getter. Haven't hunted turkeys with it yet.

    This leads to my other point in that guns that serve mulitple purposes will be guns you spend more time with, which will in turn be guns that become more of a part of you.

    For years my only shotguns were a Rem 31 28" bird gun a Rem 1100 28" bird gun, and my Mossberg 835 Deer/Turkey gun. The mossberg with a 24" barrel did double duty as a defensive weapon. I had, and still have, much faith in that weapon. Either of the 28 inchers could have (and still can) be pressed into service if need be.

    Then I started acquiring 870's (3 at one point, but back down to 2 now). Lately picked up the 500 and most recently an 11-87. I have hunted with all of them save one of the 870's and the recently acquired 11-87 (That will change as soon as I get after the gobblers this spring).

    Good grief scatterguns are addictive :D.
  9. BBroadside

    BBroadside Well-Known Member

    Wasn't expecting to see so much praise for doubles. For a while it seemed like inexpensive side-by-sides were all but gone, but I gather they've sort of been revived recently.

    What are some brands to look for? I only know of Rossi and maybe Uberti?

    Sights for SxSs? I know nothing about this gun configuration. Does the rear go on the receiver? Do SxSs have an ordinary rib that can take all the accessories that commonly go on ribs?
  10. Ghost Tracker

    Ghost Tracker Well-Known Member

    Two words...Vang Comp.
  11. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Thanks for the responses and sorry to take so long getting back, 'puter probs now resolved.

    Moving on....

    Sling capability is a given. Whether a single point or a plain carry strap, we may need our hands for something besides holding a shotgun. However, mine do not wear a sling inside the house, more chance of snagging at a horrible moment. Also, the slings that have ammo storage capability in the form of shell loops are counter productive. The extra weight causes a pendulum effect.

    Re chokes, they're superflous at typical HD ranges, but things may heat up outside. A choke tubed barrel or one equipped with a variable device like a Polychoke adds a lot of versatility and enables one to fine tune patterns.

    Lights are usually a good addon. Target ID is crucial. Good ones aren't cheap, though.

    We can go broke sending checks to Wilson and Hans Vang. While their products and services are good, oft it amounts to tweaks when what we really need to spend money on are ammo and range fees.

    There's way more good fighting shotguns out there than good Shotgunners. A good hand with a shotgun does well with about any shotgun, not just a highly modded, high ticket race gun.

    Written on a tablet of stone in The Temple Of The Shotgun Gods is.....

    Technology cannot substitute for expertise.....

    The best way to get proficient is to shoot lots, under supervision of a good instructor. Shoot anything from clay frisbees to landfill rats, you'll get better as the round count rises......
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  12. Avenger29

    Avenger29 Well-Known Member

    Wilson does not do very much for your shotgun, especially for the outragous amount of money that they charge. You could do the work yourself easily for very little (installing extended tube, big head safety, side saddle, sling).

    Yep. Ya can't go cheap for a decent light and mount.
  13. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    A couple things....

    Bead sights and front sights can be either switched to fiber optic "Glow Worm" style sights for low light use or dressed up with paint. One front sight here coupled with a Lyman peep on my oldest 870 has a dab of yellow paint brightening it up. The other slug shooter has a dab of white, which better shows up against a deer's shoulder.

    Again, a little T&E done by each of us can tweak up performance a bit. Try and see, while expending rounds.

    I can't overemphasize the need for training. The best shotgun in the world will do little to protect us if we lack technique and tactics.

    Good instruction is not that hard to come by. Even a basic recreational shotgun course at the trap and skeet range can help get a new shooter started, and clay shooting is both fun and good training.

    If a shooter can hit trap or skeet doubles moving at 50 MPH on different vectors while cycling a pumpgun, they will have little trouble hitting larger, slower targets even in short time frames and under extreme stress.

    We fight like we train.....
  14. axeman_g

    axeman_g Well-Known Member

    Cheap doubles....

    Look for Sears or Ted Williams SXS... they were usually made by Stevens, Savage or H & R if my memory holds true.

    I have a Sears 311... Which is a Stevens 311 Field in 12g. It is a bruiser and definitely not a trap or skeet gun. But, if I ever get the nerve or need to do it and cut the 26" barrels down to 18.5"... it will be one hell of a SD gun.
  15. Milkmaster

    Milkmaster Well-Known Member

    I find that the trap and skeet rounds do a lot for familiarizing a person to their shotgun, whatever model or configuration. Once you become proficient and have trap scores up into the 20's, then try some european style with the gun at rest by your side or even standing beside you. That will make a believer out of you about needing practice. The idea is that you would be rarely standing and waiting to "call the bird" in a home defense situation. It sure made me a lot better in getting the feel of bringing up the gun quickly and aquiring a target. Others may have different methods and opinions. This is what I do.
  16. chieftain

    chieftain Well-Known Member

    When I used to Dove hunt a lot, I would use the skeet range before every season.

    Skeet and trap are excellent shot gun training. Just be sure you are shooting the gun you will fight with.

    Go figure.

  17. 1557

    1557 Well-Known Member

    Late getting in on this,but after 40 plus years of using fighting shotguns I have to agree with everything Dave said.
    Re: double digit capacity,it may be noted that the Saiga shotgun is becoming very popular. I havn't tried one but I'm sure it's a good weapon.That said,I still prefer the fighting pump gun with 6 to 8 round capacity. IMO one of the good things about a fighting scattergun is the fact that it's not dependant on detachable magazines to keep it running. It can be reloaded while being fired in many cases and with practice and experience a good man with a pump 12 can do some pretty amazing work.

    While true of many weapons,I think keeping things simple with the shotgun is the only way to go. There's nothing new or even high tech about these guns yet they remain one of the most devastating weapons available to the general public,police,and military.
    Skill does need to be dveloped in the shotgun's use,just as with any other weapons system,but it remains the best choice for many scenarios at close to intermediate ranges. One of the most untilitarian firearms available.
    Old men of days gone by have used the shotgun to great effect without any gadgets or bolt on custom junk. It still works just fine that way if the user knows the gun and knows what he is doing.
    Long live the street howitzer.
  18. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    The "perfect" defense shotgun is probably any pump shotgun with an 18 to 20 inch barrel and a bead sight, AND NOTHING MORE.

    Problem is, people just love to accessories their guns to make them "better", but really to make them "yours".

    What makes the shotgun the world's most deadly effective weapon at close range is not really the large amount of heavy shot or the spreading pattern.
    What makes the shotgun so deadly is SPEED.

    It's the SPEED at which a good shotgun man can get that load of shot on target.
    While the typical rifle or pistol man is still aligning his sights on target, the shotgunner had dealt with the problem and moved on to the next one.
    What so astounds people who've never seen a good combat shotgunner in action is just how FAST things happen.

    What you have to do when fitting out a combat shotgun is to do a "Real World" cost/benefit analysis on EACH and every accessory you want to add to the basic gun.
    Since virtually everything you can add actually slows the speed at which the gun can be gotten on target, you have to analyze each accessory or modification to determine if the loss in speed is out weighted by whatever you hope to gain.

    Accessories like Ghost ring sights, extended magazines, side saddles, and folding or AR-15 type collapsing stocks are very "Cool", but each detracts from speed and efficiency and you must decide if it's worth it.
    The problem is, very few people will do an honest analysis, and instead go with what looks "Cool".

    What happens in the Real World is quite different than the Hollywood World, where the hero simply points the shotgun in the general direction of the bad guy and a load of shot that seems to contain 100 pellets of 00 buckshot not only blows the bad guy 10 feet backward, but also blows out every window within 200 yards.
    The shotgun MUST be "aimed" or "pointed". Shooting from the hip looks great on the range when shooting at stationary targets a known distance away, but take the same shooter onto a real combat range, and he soon learns that in the Real World, if the butt stock isn't in the shoulder, you miss a LOT.

    Another huge advantage of the shotgun is it's adaptability.
    By switching ammo, and possibly the barrel you can hunt any game from quail, to ducks, to high-flying geese, to turkeys, to deer.
    The same gun also defends your home or business, or goes into battle as a police or military weapon.

    Even the pure defense gun can adapt to a changing situation.
    As an example, a few years ago we made a couple of moves, and my 870 Police gun changed in each home move.

    Originally, we were living in a small town.
    The police department was literally in sight, and patrols passed often.
    The street was well lighted, and neighbors were close on either side.
    A "Real World Threat Assessment" of what the threat most likely would be, was that trouble would arrive on foot, and would be no more than two people, probably just one, who would flee at the first sign of resistance.
    Police would be there in less than 2 minutes at most.
    The gun was a Remington 870P Police with 18 inch barrel and synthetic stock.
    At that time, it was set up as follows:
    No magazine extension, standard 4 shot mag.
    Ammo was standard load of #1 buckshot to prevent over-penetration that would threaten the homes on either side.
    No other ammo was on-board.
    No light was needed.

    While a new apartment was being finished for us, we temporarily moved into a trailer on a relatives farm.
    This was miles from town and very isolated.
    Home and farm burglaries are common and home invasions do occur.
    Law enforcement was the Sheriff's department, minimum response was at least 30 to 45 minutes, unless a patrol happened to be in the area.
    There was NO light.
    Nearest neighbor was 2 miles away.
    The threat assessment said that trouble would arrive in a car and would be 2 to 3 persons.
    Trouble would start with the people out of the car approaching the trailer at night.

    The gun was changed to meet the new type of threat.
    It now had a 7 shot extension.
    A butt cuff with extra ammo, AND a canvas shoulder bag full of more ammo.
    The gun was "dutch loaded" with the first shells being #1 buckshot, followed with shells loaded with 00 buck, and finally slugs.
    This figured on the fight starting against exposed bad guys, who would move away to possible cover, then re-enter the car to hide/reload, or flee.
    The gun was equipped with a fore end light, and another powerful light was in a pocket of the spare ammo bag, along with a cell phone.

    The threat analysis said that I'd be alone in the dark with no help for some time, so I'd need to be able to engage in an possibly extended gun fight with multiply assailants in the dark.

    After the new apartment was ready we moved in and the gun again changed.
    The new place is in a larger small town.
    Just yards behind is a school for handicapped children, there's city and county health offices nearby, and a bad neighborhood a block away.
    There's a drug and alcohol rehab center just next door with various shady people often visiting.
    It's not unusual for people from the bad neighborhood to tramp through the yards at 3:00am on the way to the rehab center to plant drugs for their friends in the grass.
    The area is WELL lit, and due to the bad area, the police are more or less constantly around.

    The treat assessment indicates that trouble will arrive on foot and will be no more then one person, possible two.
    Due to their nature, the trouble will often fire a shot or two on general principles, then run for the 'hood.
    Help would arrive in no more then 4 minutes.

    The gun was now changed to:
    The extended magazine was retained due to the possibility of more than one assailant, and who would likely open fire before running.
    The extra on-board ammo was removed to increase speed with the gun, and the bag of ammo was stored in a handy closet close to the gun.
    Ammo load was now #4 buckshot in a "reduced recoil" load in consideration to the close school and offices, AND to increase the speed of follow up shots..
    Since the area is lighted to near daylight conditions, no light was needed, so the standard fore end was installed.

    So, as you can see, the shotgun can be adapted to meet changing conditions, and as always, "Less is More". The less you hang on the gun, the faster and more effective it is.
    In shotguns "Speed Kills".
    When you do attach an accessory, it should be because there is a specific, definable advantage other than that it looks "Cool".
  19. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Thanks for the input, especially you, D. Good points about speed and versatility.

    Frankenstein is now added to the house gun roster. 21" barrel with Skeet choke in, 4 buck in magazine, no addons.

    Faster'n a rattlesnake.5K rounds at least behind it in my hands.

    As for speed, one of the games I have the kids play when I'm instructing starts right behind the wobble trap house. Low gun, one shot, and the idea is not only hit it, but do so closer to the house than anyone else.

    The kids are adolescents from 13 to 17. None have run 25 yet at skeet or trap, but some have done 23 or so. When the old competitive spirit kicks in, those smoke balls get mighty close to the trap.

    The hidden kicker is they're using Full and Mod choked guns so those patterns are quite tight,less than 18". If a tyro can center a speeding clay 20 yards from, the muzzle and smoke it in less than ONE second from low gun, the speed of a more accomplished shotgunner borders on a blur.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008
  20. GunTech

    GunTech Well-Known Member

    My defensive shotgun mantra is "short, light and fast". Reliability goes without saying. I find it amusing that folks who view the defensive rifle as necessarily a semi-auto avoid same when it comes to scatterguns.

    Sights are useful of you plan on using slugs. Modern slug ammo, particularly when paired with a rifles choke, can be very accurate. Past 30 or 40 yards, even 00 buck can be iffy depending on what the target is wearing. Slugs are dangerous at longer range, or when dealing with cover. Under-penetration is not always a good thing.

    Personally, I think you should be able to fire and maneuver any defensive gun with one hand - whether that be rifle, pistol or shotgun. You need to be able to dial the phone, open a door, etc and still be able to employ your defensive weapon A big shotgun with a long magazine is a two handed weapon. So is any pump - particularly if you don't happen to be a big male.

    Whatever you pick, practice with it. You can miss with a shotgun, particularly at close range.

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