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Old January 31, 2016, 05:41 PM   #1
Cooldill
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Role of the 12 Gauge Shotgun in Warfare (2016)

Hello all!

I've been a fan of military shotguns for many years now. I know that all branches of the U.S. military use shotguns to some capacity. Mainly it seems, at least in more recent years, the role of breaching has become the shotgun's primary role in warfare.

But, are shotguns still used by the U.S. military in an anti-personnel role? Are they still used in room clearings and things like that? It appears popular opinion and the widespread adoption of carbines for CQB use has supplanted the shotgun in use in this role to a wide degree.

I am looking mainly for thoughts of those who are in the military, but everyone else is more than welcome to interject. It appears to me that the 12-gauge shotgun is on it's way out for direct force-on-force anti-personnel combat use, but I could be wrong.

Please let me know guys. Thanks!
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Old January 31, 2016, 06:58 PM   #2
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Shotguns in the military are pretty much just used for breaching and on occasion sentry duty...as in slug to the engine compartment or 00 buck to the drivers face. I'm career Army infantry and have never seen a shotgun used outside of the breaching role. A niche shotgun role in Iraq was for the turret gunner to have one handy to snap shoot blast someone trying to toss an anti-armor grenade. Don't know how many units actually did this though, I bet very few.

In my NRA LE handgun/shotgun instructor course, one of the instructors was a SWAT cop and preferred the shotgun because his 7 shot 00 buck payload was 56 approx 9mm projectiles in just 7 trigger pulls.

There is no contest between the shotgun and carbine for general utility in military duty, the carbine wins handily. For LE with much closer average engagement distances and for civilian HD use, the shotgun comes into its own...but with caveats regarding increased collateral damage from multiple projectiles and complicated manual of arms to actually run the thing right and keep it fed properly.
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Old January 31, 2016, 08:37 PM   #3
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Thanks. In the past months I've seen Mossberg shotguns in use by gate guards. That's all I've seen though.
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Old January 31, 2016, 09:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strambo View Post
Shotguns in the military are pretty much just used for breaching and on occasion sentry duty...as in slug to the engine compartment or 00 buck to the drivers face. I'm career Army infantry and have never seen a shotgun used outside of the breaching role. A niche shotgun role in Iraq was for the turret gunner to have one handy to snap shoot blast someone trying to toss an anti-armor grenade. Don't know how many units actually did this though, I bet very few.

In my NRA LE handgun/shotgun instructor course, one of the instructors was a SWAT cop and preferred the shotgun because his 7 shot 00 buck payload was 56 approx 9mm projectiles in just 7 trigger pulls.

There is no contest between the shotgun and carbine for general utility in military duty, the carbine wins handily. For LE with much closer average engagement distances and for civilian HD use, the shotgun comes into its own...but with caveats regarding increased collateral damage from multiple projectiles and complicated manual of arms to actually run the thing right and keep it fed properly.
Strambo- I've been hearing rumors of an infantry arm being accepted called the "Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun." Have you or your people been briefed on such a thing or is it just "out of camp" bravado?
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Old February 1, 2016, 12:08 AM   #5
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We had 3 or 4 Remington 870 shotguns in our Company. My Platoon never used them, but the other two were known to sign them out and use them in raids. We had breach rounds and 00 Buck, no slugs.
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Old February 1, 2016, 12:30 AM   #6
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The Marines were using them for breaching and room clearance in 'home visits' in Iraq right up until those stopped.
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Old February 1, 2016, 01:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sapper771 View Post
We had 3 or 4 Remington 870 shotguns in our Company. My Platoon never used them, but the other two were known to sign them out and use them in raids. We had breach rounds and 00 Buck, no slugs.
Thanks Sapper, so do you know weather they were used for breaching, or direct combat?
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Old February 1, 2016, 01:12 AM   #8
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I think the role might change again it we ever go back to the jungle again.

A shotgun in the sandbox would have a very limited role when you can see further then your M-4 can shoot.

It might become very different when you can only see 15-20 yards off the trail in heavy undergrowth.

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Old February 1, 2016, 09:27 AM   #9
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Thanks Sapper, so do you know weather they were used for breaching, or direct combat?
Both. They liked to drag them out because they didnt have a breaching asset. At least thats what they said.
We didnt need them because we had explosives.

I dont recall exactly what model they were though. More than likely they were Police Magnums. Wood furniture.

Another Company on our FOB had the old Winchester 1897 Trench Guns, complete with bayonet. They never used them in operations though.
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Old February 1, 2016, 09:36 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by rcmodel View Post
I think the role might change again it we ever go back to the jungle again.

A shotgun in the sandbox would have a very limited role when you can see further then your M-4 can shoot.

It might become very different when you can only see 15-20 yards off the trail in heavy undergrowth.

rc
Agreed. I can see them being handy in an urban environment, especially at night (foot patrols). Outside of that, it is a disadvantage.

Like RC said, once you stepped out of town, engagement ranges open up well past the effective range of a shotgun.
Due to our area and our missions, you were better off leaving the shotguns in the locker.
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Old February 1, 2016, 05:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Officers'Wife View Post
Strambo- I've been hearing rumors of an infantry arm being accepted called the "Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun." Have you or your people been briefed on such a thing or is it just "out of camp" bravado?
I just googled that and it looks like that term refers to the old Franchi SPAS 12. No element of the military is adopting that thing I'm aware of. The latest issued shotgun I was privy to was the Benelli M1014, but those were being issued to USMC over a decade ago. Army infantry just has a mix-match of Rem 870s and Mossbergs is all I've seen though the Army probably has the M1014s also. In the Ranger Regt. we had 12" 870s that mounted under an M14/M4 for breaching or could be used stand-alone on a bungee sling.

If I were wanting a shotgun for HD or CQB, it would be something like a semi-auto Benelli M2, 14" barrel (cut down and registered SBS), and Aimpoint RDS, side saddle and a 2 shell carrier on the right side of the forend for emergency reloads plus a good weapon light and sling. Price no object of course, what I actually have is an 870 and it isn't my primary for HD.
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Old February 3, 2016, 09:49 AM   #12
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It all comes down to range. The shotgun becomes useless real quick once the range opens up past 50 yards, unless you're pushing slugs out the barrel, and at that point, one could argue that 30 rounds of 5.56 or something comparable is far better than 7+1 or whatever fits in a shotgun.

I see them at USMC bases for gate duty. Occasionally you'll see the USCG carrying them on smallboats. I have no doubt they're in the arsenal for just about every unit, albeit to fill a very limited role.
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Old February 3, 2016, 10:35 AM   #13
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We had Mossbergs over in Iraq. Our gunners used them in the turret, pretty much for what strambo said (RKG3's were a real concern). We ran PSD in the heart of Baghdad, they were pretty handy actually.
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Old February 4, 2016, 03:09 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcmodel View Post
I think the role might change again it we ever go back to the jungle again.

A shotgun in the sandbox would have a very limited role when you can see further then your M-4 can shoot.

It might become very different when you can only see 15-20 yards off the trail in heavy undergrowth.

rc
My old man was a Ranger in Viet Nam, and he ditched his issued M-16 for a Remington 870.

I saw shotguns carried by MPs in various detainment centers, but still quite a few with M-16 rifles.

No one I was assigned with had a shotgun. But we weren't doing any breaching or door kicking outside of rare, unique circumstances.
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Old February 4, 2016, 08:55 AM   #15
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Lots of functions in the military aren't exactly combat -and for some of them where close quarter encounters might occur - a shotgun is not a bad idea. No, we're not talking issue weapons and there are certainly better weapons as part of a unit -but I did keep a short pump shotgun with me when out and about in Vietnam (1971). I was on my own and wanted something for bad breath ranges -no it wasn't the only weapon I carried (I was not a combat type…). Fortunately it was never needed -but it did push me towards shotguns years later when I became a cop….
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Old February 4, 2016, 08:20 PM   #16
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Cooldill asked about American soldiers, but what about other countries, or even bad guys not representing a country?

I do not know why, but I mostly associate shotguns in combat with Americans, especially pump shotguns. I might be wrong, it would not be a first, at least according to my better half.
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Old February 4, 2016, 10:23 PM   #17
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I served 26 years in the Coast Guard and we used shotguns a lot. For boat searches they worked better subguns and M-2 carbines we were ussued. Mostly
Winchester model 12's and Ithaca 37's in Viet Nam. Later on , Reminton 870 took over. Eighteen inch barrels were standard with a few local made 12" for VIP protection details. Standard magazines were the norm. OO buck shot was the standard ( #6 birdshot was used to scare off polar bears on the icebreakers ). If the #6 did not work we had a Win. m70 ,375 H&H mag.
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Old February 5, 2016, 07:40 PM   #18
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Yeah, they're mainly used for breaching. However, shotguns are still used as anti-personnel weapons, but mainly at bases by gate guards, MPs, etc. When deployed, if you have a shotgun, 99% of the time, it'll be for breaching and it'll be a secondary weapon and you'll still have a rifle/carbine as your primary.
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Old February 5, 2016, 08:00 PM   #19
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Know a submariner.

They had to stop using M16s for guard duty because more than one guy had dropped the mag into the bay.

That means a scuba team has to be called out to retrieve live rounds.

They all get shotguns now.
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Old February 5, 2016, 08:34 PM   #20
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Cooldill asked about American soldiers, but what about other countries, or even bad guys not representing a country?

I do not know why, but I mostly associate shotguns in combat with Americans, especially pump shotguns. I might be wrong, it would not be a first, at least according to my better half.
That may come from the history of combat shotguns. The Americans were, to my knowledge, the first country to utilize shotguns in combat. The Winchester 1897 was known as a "trench broom" in WWI and was popular with American forces the Great War. Germany vigorously complained about our use of it, arguing that the use of shotguns was a war crime and a violation of the Hague Convention, and threatening to "punish" and American soldiers captured with shotguns in their possession. We threatened to retaliate against German POWs if they did.

How a country that was using poison gas and flamethowers could credibly say that buckshot is a war crime, I'll never understand, but that's a discussion for another day.
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Old February 5, 2016, 09:17 PM   #21
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Cooldill asked about American soldiers, but what about other countries, or even bad guys not representing a country?

I do not know why, but I mostly associate shotguns in combat with Americans, especially pump shotguns. I might be wrong, it would not be a first, at least according to my better half.
The British used Browning A-5's in the Malay Emergency, 1948-1960.
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Old February 5, 2016, 11:11 PM   #22
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My mom had an ex-bf who was an E-9 CSM who did a tour in Afghanistan back in the mid 2000's. The only shotgun he ever carried there was a sawed off side by side that he kept in a shoulder holster. Only time he said he used it was to shoot a cobra that was ready to strike.

Shotguns are definitely finding more use in the military since 9/11. Back in Desert Storm, Vietnam, and Korea the majority of fighting was on the battlefield away from urban areas. Today the fighting takes place exclusively in cities and that's where the shotgun finds its greatest role.

The military has now the M26, it's a bolt action 12 gauge w/ 8.5" barrel that attaches to the underside of the M4 like the M203 grenade launchers. Main purpose is for breaching, but it's also possible to slap a stock on them and use them as primary guns too.

I expect the shotgun to continue to see more involvement in the armed forces so long as we continue to get stuck in conflicts in the Middle East. The AA-12 may become the standard infantry shotgun and replace the 590's and 870's.
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Old February 6, 2016, 07:49 AM   #23
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We use them in a security role as sentries, but the vast majority of the time they sit and a carbine fills the slot. They are SPECTACULAR boarding tools, and get used there, but they basically suck as breaching devices, and therefore don't really see a lot of use.
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Old February 6, 2016, 02:22 PM   #24
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Know a submariner.

They had to stop using M16s for guard duty because more than one guy had dropped the mag into the bay.

That means a scuba team has to be called out to retrieve live rounds.

They all get shotguns now.
That's very odd. I've never heard of having to call a SCUBA team to retrieve live rounds. Perhaps they do that when in port and not at sea. I was firing an M16 full auto on a sub a few years ago. When it'd get hung up, the one sailor would yank the mag out and toss it into the water (rounds and all). He did this with about 3 mags. I thought it was kind of wasteful. This was outside if Point Loma.

I also saw sailors dumping thousands of pieces of brass (9mm, 5.56x45, 7.62x51, and .50) and empty ammo cans into the Atlantic. As a reloader, I was mortified.
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Old February 6, 2016, 04:46 PM   #25
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It may be wasteful but nobody is going to have a stoppage with THAT magazine again.
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