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Old April 17, 2015, 02:30 PM   #1
Plinkin' Logs
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Semi-auto vs Pump: Home Defense.

Well I used to be a fisherman, so I'm going to go ahead and open that can of worms.

Which do use prefer for home defense shotgun, Pump or Semi-auto?

Pumps:

Pros:
-Racking the slide for intimidation (some view don't this as a pro,)
-Reliability with all Ammo, and reliability in general
-Lower Cost
-With training near as fast (with more advanced training just as fast) as a semi-auto
-Plenty of aftermarket accessories
-Proven track record with LE/Military


Cons:
-Potentially slower (the real question I suppose is do you need the extra speed)
-Potential to Short shuck/pump the gun
-A small degree more recoil

Semi-auto:

Pros:
-One handed operation
-Simple to operate, without possibility of "short shucking"
-Some model can be ghost loaded (not sure if I would do this for home defense as I hear ghost loading has a potential for causing a hang up)
-Shoots as fast as you can pull the trigger
-Reduced recoil (gas operation semis only)

Cons:
-Only recent and developing history in LE/Military use
-More expensive
-Requires more maintenance for reliable functioning, and much more complex
-Less reliable with low recoil loads, and arguably less reliable overall.
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Old April 17, 2015, 02:57 PM   #2
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I'm not a fan of the idea of racking a shotgun specifically for the intimidation factor. Sure, if it happens to work out that way, fine. But me, I'd rack it soon as I grabbed it; I don't recommend waiting until the intruder is near enough so you're sure they can hear it.

And as for the "semi vs pump" discussion, I think you broke it down pretty well. I say pick which one you're most comfortable with and make sure you practice a lot. That said, if there will be people who aren't well-trained using this shotgun for home defense also, I think a semi-auto is a better choice. For someone who is under-trained, most semi-auto shotguns are simpler to use and easier to shoot.
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Old April 17, 2015, 03:16 PM   #3
19-3Ben
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Quote:
I'm not a fan of the idea of racking a shotgun specifically for the intimidation factor. Sure, if it happens to work out that way, fine. But me, I'd rack it soon as I grabbed it; I don't recommend waiting until the intruder is near enough so you're sure they can hear it.
I don't buy into the "sound of racking the shotgun will scare away bad guys" idea either. However, it's not exactly a quiet sound. Unless you live in an enormous house, I'm guessing a good solid racking would be audible throughout a dead silent home in the middle of the night without waiting for someone to be near enough.

OP broke down the arguments pro and con very well, i think.
For me, i use a pump gun. Why? Because it's how I started out, and i use them reliably enough and they work well enough for me that I have a hard time justifying the cost of a reliable semi. The lowest cost ones I would consider would be the Mossberg 930 and Remington 1100, and frankly, I can't justify the expense when the pumps that I already own work so well for me.
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Old April 17, 2015, 03:17 PM   #4
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IMHO the use of ANY firearm for defense is limited to, as a matter of last resort, shooting and hitting to incapacitate the threat.

I feel it is a foolish and dangerous philosophy to consider them for visual or aural intimidation. Very likely in that regard to result in escalation. At least that's the result you should be prepared for. If you agree with that the sound of a pump racking should fall in the "CONS" column as potentially signaling your position.
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Old April 17, 2015, 03:32 PM   #5
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I currently only own a pump (Mossberg 590A1) and feel very comfortable that it'll live up to its reputation in a home defense situation. I have a side mounted carrier that holds 6 extra shells, though I highly doubt this will be necessary.

That being said, I want a semi-auto. Would like a Benelli but don't want to afford one right now. I'm going to look at the new Baretta as well as the Mossy's.

And I agree with not using a pump as intimidation. I would much rather have the element of surprise.
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Old April 17, 2015, 03:38 PM   #6
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Either would work. I use a Savage 720 auto but would feel just fine with my Mossberg 500.
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Old April 17, 2015, 03:53 PM   #7
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I've seen semi auto shotguns fail to chamber the first round and I've seen a pump shotgun double stroked failing to chamber the first round ... pick your poison.

As to the rest, don't depend on any sound to protect your life. Be prepared to take direct action and the instrument of the action is now, and always has been, a personal choice. Go with what you know, not how you think the BG feels about you.
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Old April 17, 2015, 03:55 PM   #8
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I don't buy into the "sound of racking the shotgun will scare away bad guys"
I know of at least one instance where it worked quite well. Sister-in-law heard a knock on door at about 11PM. Answered to drunk on the other side without opening door. My brother heard the conversation and walked into living room while racking shotgun to load chamber. The guy made a hasty retreat begging my brother not to shoot. Turns out he got into an argument with GF and she kicked him out of car in front of my brothers house. In a very rural area. Police picked him up walking down road about a mile away.

In theory a pump is more reliable, in practice a semi is. If buying a survival gun to use in a TEOTWAWKI situation I'd buy a pump. They will continue to work after lots of use and abuse and with most any ammo.

For HD as long as the semi is kept reasonably clean and decent ammo is used it will prove to be more reliable. Most pumps malfunction due to operator error. No chance of that with a semi.
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Old April 17, 2015, 04:51 PM   #9
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I have to ask a question. There is anecdotal evidence posted here on THR, in more volume than some of the shorter books of the Bible, of racking a pump-action shotgun, after which the perp craps their pants and runs for their life...and people still say it's a myth. Why?
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Old April 17, 2015, 05:14 PM   #10
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I have switched my preference from pump to auto.

Took a couple of defensive shotgun classes and the instructor asked why almost everyone had a pump. Most of the replies were focused on reliability. He pointed out that all of us were carrying semi auto pistols, and also demonstrated that the auto shotgun would function faster than our pumps.

Picked up a Mossburg auto and I'm a believer, much prefer shooting it over the pump and have had no problems with it.
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Old April 17, 2015, 05:19 PM   #11
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My not be pure myth, but the odds are probably even. The guys who gave away their position and eating some bullets by racking the gun aren't able to post about their misfortune. All anyone may hear if I have an encounter is going to be the soft snick of the safety going off from my pump or auto just before The End.
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Old April 17, 2015, 05:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
I have to ask a question. There is anecdotal evidence posted here on THR, in more volume than some of the shorter books of the Bible, of racking a pump-action shotgun, after which the perp craps their pants and runs for their life...and people still say it's a myth. Why?
You are thinking in terms of absolutes, where there are none. It's not a myth, in that the sound will never scare away an intruder. It's just that you can't count on it.

I keep my HD shotgun "cruiser ready" (full mag, empty chamber) so if someone breaks in, there will be that "clack-clack" sound of racking the shotgun. It might scare away the bad guy, in which case, it's a major win. But it also might not, and I'm certainly not going to count on it.

So that's why people here bash the idea. Not because it can't work, but because it would be folly to count on it.
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Old April 17, 2015, 05:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
I have to ask a question. There is anecdotal evidence posted here on THR, in more volume than some of the shorter books of the Bible, of racking a pump-action shotgun, after which the perp craps their pants and runs for their life...and people still say it's a myth. Why?
Anecdotal evidence is not reliable, and making a "scary noise" is not a smart defensive tactic, even if Joe Bob's cousin's husband did it once
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Old April 17, 2015, 05:48 PM   #14
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I found that when artificially stressed, I often forgot to pump my pump shotgun between shots!

Sold it and bought a FNH SLP 18" auto. All my others guns are auto-loaders, it only makes sense that my shotgun is too.
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Old April 17, 2015, 05:56 PM   #15
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Agree with 2 previous posts,

That said, my go to for home defense is a Remington 870 Express with a slug barrel with rifle sights and extra 00 buck in a stock sleeve. Every home situation (and user) is different and to be adapted to, but mine lives with the first round chambered (the ONLY weapon I keep in this configuration). See post #11.

If it makes any difference, I am a revolver and pump user of many years habit with no children or inexperienced gunners in the house.

I DO NOT advise keeping a weapon with a chambered round for everyone, and in many cases would protest it.
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Old April 17, 2015, 05:59 PM   #16
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I've been a pump shooter for years and have at least 1 sample from most every major manufacturer to include, Mossberg, Remington, Ithaca, Winchester and even a Norchester 1897 Trench gun. I grew up on a farm and even after I took over the farming gig before going back into the military for a second time, I would buy and shoot 12 gauge shells by the case when the reloading press couldn't keep up to blast blackbirds out of the sunflower fields.
During my time in Marine Corps Security Forces, we used the Mossberg M590 (no, there was no M590A1in the late 80's and early 90's but was in fact straight M590 shotguns either with bead or ghost ring sights) and a few beat to hell Winchester 1200 trench guns. Later when I went back into the USAFR as a CATM instructor, we had old wood Remington 870 shotguns and later on the M870MCS shotguns.
All of those designs over all those years and the only problem I ever had was a shell that jumped the shell catch on an 870 putting a shell on the lifter with a closed bolt and locked it up tight. One other problem was a tight tolerance magazine tube in my Ithaca M37. I was using an old pre-collet sizing MEC reloading press and it left the brass bases too large to fit into the magazine tube without binding. Solution, buy a collet resizer and later on a MEC 900 with a collet resizer built into it and no more problems.
Now I've heard of short stroking but never experienced it myself so I'm not really sure just how you would manage to get a pump shotgun to do it in the first place. To me, short stroking is a non-issue and pump shotguns are quite reliable. As far as scary sounds, IMHO, to reply on that is foolish. I've had an RPG rocket go flying past my head before and ya know what, it it doesn't hit ya, it doesn't hurt ya! The return fire on the RPG gunner was an example of the opposite being true in that when bullets do hit ya, they WILL hurt ya!!!
Fast forward to about a week or so ago when I came across a slightly used (as in you couldn't tell it if you weren't looking closely at it) Benelli M2 Tactical for $800. I figured I couldn't pass up that kind of deal so I bought it and had a chance to shoot it today. The winds here destroyed by target stand before I had a chance to start zeroing in my new Benelli with some 1 oz. slugs so it was a quick fam-fire and not much else. Blasted through a magazine tube of 00 Buck rounds without a problem but when I switched to lighter weight factory target loads, you could tell after the first shot there was going to be problems. The bolt seemed to cycle a lot slower and by the 3rd or 4th round, she short stroked, ejecting out the empty, chambering the next live round but not enough to cock the hammer.
Now this was probably not a fair test as it's not designed to work with light weight target loads and my idea of target reloads are along the lines of 1 1/8 oz of lead and are a bit more stout so there shouldn't be a problem. However, the fact that my pump shotguns will digest these light factory target loads without problem while the auto chokes on them to me, is a sign that the pump shotgun is still a more reliable weapon.
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Old April 17, 2015, 06:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrmiddleton425
I have to ask a question. There is anecdotal evidence posted here on THR, in more volume than some of the shorter books of the Bible, of racking a pump-action shotgun, after which the perp craps their pants and runs for their life...and people still say it's a myth. Why?
I think Snyper summed it up pretty well in post #13.

But it seems like you're missing the point. I dont think it's a myth (though I also think it's a bad idea to rely on anecdotal evidence), and nobody else in this thread is claiming it's a myth; what we're saying is that it's not a good idea to sacrifice a tactical advantage for the purpose of intimidation.

Because that's exactly what you're doing if your plan is to use that sound to scare off an intruder; either you intentionally left the chamber empty until the intruder actually made it into your house and could hear it being racked, or you already had a round in the chamber and when you racked it to scare the intruder away you just lost a large percentage of your ammo (20% if you have a standard magazine tube).

Neither of those seem like a good idea from a tactical standpoint. Sure, if I grab my shotgun and rack it and the sound alone sends the intruder fleeing, then great. But I'm not planning my tactics around that, and I'm not relying on it to work.
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Old April 17, 2015, 06:41 PM   #18
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Grunt, that was a great find. I would snatch a Benelli up in a second if I could find one for that price. Cant seem to find them under a grand.....
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Old April 17, 2015, 07:00 PM   #19
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Chambering a shell in a semi is going to make a similar sound to racking a pump if that's your selling point. If the perp recognizes the differences and formulates a new plan or whatever you're far outclassed anyway and will be dead soon. The only reason I can come up with to have a pump for HD is the low cost of entry for good guns.
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Old April 17, 2015, 07:02 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mainsail View Post
I found that when artificially stressed, I often forgot to pump my pump shotgun between shots!

Sold it and bought a FNH SLP 18" auto. All my others guns are auto-loaders, it only makes sense that my shotgun is too.
I had the same issue after being away from pumps for awhile. Funny & embarassing while shooting casual clays, fatal when things get real.

Yeah training & practice could correct it, but I really don't like pumps like I do semi-auto's & single trigger sxs's & o/u's. Solved it the same way you did, 18.5" FN SLP for "business" w/ slugs & buck shot & a Browning Cynergy for field & clays. Quite satisfied with both.
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Old April 17, 2015, 07:08 PM   #21
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The Remington 870 since 1985, for all the pros mentioned by the OP. The cons mentioned by the OP can all be non issues with a good training class and practice with the platform.

I haven't really had a desire or need to "upgrade" to the semiauto.

Racking a pump shotgun at 0200 with a burglar/intruder inside your home will immediately give away your position. Yes the sound is intimidating, but it is also very tactically unsound.

Just my .02,
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Old April 17, 2015, 07:15 PM   #22
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I'll take the semi over the pump for one major reason- one less human chance for Mr. Murphy to rear his ugly head with short shucking or trying to go too fast and binding the gun up. When your adrenaline dump happens as you fear for your life and your family, one less thing to think about comes to mind. MOST folks, contrary to gun forums, do NOT practice enough to become so proficient that under stress in the dark something doesn't go wrong. And since most folks keep a pump in the "cruiser ready" scenario, failing to do things right in that scenario could be fatal.

JMO, YMMV
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Old April 17, 2015, 08:27 PM   #23
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The reason I choose a pumpgun is First I have 2 pumpguns I consider Utility guns They do home defense duty. but also do hunting duty , critter removal and anything else I need or want to use a shotgun for. I may be shooting 7/8th oz reloads or 3in #4 buck or anything in between I do not know of any auto that will reliably do that. Second The fact I shoot these guns for everything I don't have to think where controls are on this gun .
Both are 870's both 18.25-18.5 In barrels both choked one lefty one righty with lefty trigger group. Only other shotgun I use besides these are H&R single shots.
The pumpgun is different enough from the single there in no mix up and I have shot both so long I am close to automatic on running them
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Old April 17, 2015, 11:27 PM   #24
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First can you afford a good quality semi-auto?

If so, then proceed to consider the rest of the list. Given a reliable semi vs. a pump, I'd pick the semi if cost weren't a factor.

I have a pump, but since I have a well-sorted out AR now, it is in a backup HD role (ie. chillin' in the safe).
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Old April 17, 2015, 11:37 PM   #25
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I would only consider a pump for reliability reasons and ability to shoot widely varying loads. The older 870s, High Standards and Ithacas are really great shotguns. Almost none of the new current production shotguns I have examined and shot are as reliable.
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