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Another SHTF Gedankenexperiment

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by yermolai, Nov 12, 2007.

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  1. yermolai

    yermolai Member

    Oct 21, 2007
    I am imagining a scale that runs from personal self-defense and home defense at one end, to "community defense" and "preservation of liberty" at the other. My question is: at which point on this scale does the shotgun (e.g. Rem. 870) become a liability and the rifle (e.g AR or AK) become a necessity? Furthermore: is there an identifiable point where the AR/AK becomes less desirable than another long gun? Which gun and why?

    Sincere thanks in advance from a noob,

  2. ClickClickD'oh

    ClickClickD'oh Member

    Sep 12, 2007
    Lewisville, Tx
    Seeing as how shotguns and rifles have served alongside each other in conflicts around the world through the modern history of armed combat, I don't think there is such point where one particular weapon becomes a better asset than another. Fighting has a nasty habit of changing from long range to short wihout asking your opinion. The best weapon to have is the one in your hands, as long as you know it's capabilities and limits and use the weapon accordingly.

    ROMAK IV Member

    Jul 20, 2007
    It is more than just scale. If you read some of the other threads, I always put a rifle in there. It is more range and penetration than anything else. So you would bas your scale on range required and penetration required first. HD requirements would be set with consideration to conditions, location, and budget. For 90% of HD uses, a snoutgun is the best choice wih consideration to the size of the person using the shotgun. Maybe you would get a 410 for a petite woman, and something larger for a big man. However, it depends on the woman as some women have been using 12 ga. for a long time. Most shotguns can reasonably match a rifle at short ranges, and slug guns can be good out to 100 yards, but that is with a skilled shooter. Beyond that is the realm of the rifle. If your plans for HD extend to disaster and civil unrest, it might be wise to add a rifle to the mix, just in case. Doing so is reklatively cheap and with the intermediate power cartridges available in misnamed "assault weapons", you add capcity and firepower. In a SHTF fan, defense of liberty, (unlikely at this point) you need a full powered rifle. Fred, of Fred's M-14 stocks has an Appleseed program which addresses that situation. It isn't as though he is actrually plannning for a major uprising, it is just that, if most of the population of the US were to become proficient with rifles at ranges to 4000 yards, it would make the possibility of a US gun ban even less likely. Furthermore, were the US to lose its 2nd Amendment tradition, it wouldn't come back. In many parts of the US it is already gone for the most part.
  4. Just Jim

    Just Jim Member

    Mar 27, 2006
    I am gonna have to think about the question a bit, "when does a shotgun become a liability and a rifle a necessity". MMMMM It ain't the tool it's the skill of the man who uses it.

    Would you rather be shot at by Jerry McClick with his revolver, Saterwhite with his Benelli or a Marine Sniper with his Remington 308? Men at arms who train to be the best will win.

  5. yermolai

    yermolai Member

    Oct 21, 2007
    I should be clearer: the scale I'm imagining is one of civil breakdown. While I'm fascinated by how closely the effective range of a given weapon seems to correspond to the severity of the situation demanding it, I'm also curious what factors besides range and penetration might be significant. I'd like to know where else the virtues of bullets, slugs, and buckshot diverge.

    With regard specifically to range, however: what is it precisely about escalating SHTF that tends to draw out the actual topographical distances of confrontation? Riot- or hurricane-themed SHTF threads rarely present compelling arguments for supremacy of rifle over shotgun, for example--but defense-of-liberty ones seem to take it for granted (maybe to the point of romanticizing the rifle). What would have to happen--specifically and concretely--in the social space between "unrest" and "revolt" for the distance and accuracy of the rifle to become indispensable?
  6. Wheeler44

    Wheeler44 Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    Around fifty yards depending on shot size a little farther if you use slugs.
  7. foghornl

    foghornl Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    My 1/50th of $1

    If you are talking about 'at what range does a rifle trump a shotgun?' about 75 Yds is all I am willing to lob a 12-ga slug. If you see the thundering herd coming your way at 300+Yds, and some flashes of light from that way, yeah rifle trumps shotgun.
  8. JWarren

    JWarren Member

    Jan 5, 2007
    MS and LA
    Seems like consensus is forming on distance.

    Which shotguns, it's going to be dependent on a couple factors:

    Load and Barrel.

    A shotgun loaded with buckshot isn't going to have all that much range for effective purposes. A Shotgun with slugs is going to have significantly more range.

    And then if that shotgun with slugs has a rifled slug barrel, you can expect further effective range and accuracy.

    I could envision a situation where it would be easy to swap out a standard smooth-bore shotgun barrel with a rifled slug-barrel quick and easily. On a Remington 870 or 1100, the swap can be made in less than a minute. While I am not advocating swapping out barrels in the middle of a situation, I can see how a situation could be anticipated and the firearm configured in relation to that situation.

    So a shotgun could have a range of about 100 yards comfortable (for me).

    Even so, I'd prefer a rifle. Any rifle I'd choose has more benefits than a shotgun-- easier wielding and easier reloading.

    -- John
  9. baz

    baz Member

    Dec 16, 2005
    I think of a shotgun as a CQC weapon. Sure, you can shoot a deer at 50-75 yards (or longer) with it, and thus supposedly a two legged critter also, but at that distance I'm going to use a .223 semiauto if I have it. I don't see a shotgun at that distance being very effective on moving targets, unless they are winged and small. Inside 25 yards, of course, it can be deadly effective. Even then, though, you have to consider who will be using it, and whether they are comfortable with the recoil.

    Save the shotgun for HD and CQC. Even at 25 yards, and specially once outside, a rifle is the only way to go.

    Edited to add...

    You also asked about alternatives to AR/AK. There will be those who don't even consider them effective combat weapons, certainly not "MBR's." I'm not one of those, but I think there's a place for the .308 for taking down targets at longer ranges. For ranges between 25-200 yards, I'm comfortable with the AR/AK (my main assault rifle happens to be a Tromix Saiga in .223, so it is sort of a little of both). For longer range -- beyond 200 yards -- targets, the .223 may be effective for suppressive fire, but it would be nice to have somebody along side me trying to take them down with something chambered in a more powerful .30 caliber weapon.

    There's something to be said for having a squad with all these weapons available -- shotgun for CQC, AK/AR for close range combat, .30 caliber for long range engagements.
  10. LaEscopeta

    LaEscopeta Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Los Estados Unidos
    I don’t know. And I don’t believe anyone else does either. By definition SHTF is chaotic and unpredictable. No one knows where, how, how big or how long it will happen, and therefore no one knows the best way to prepare or what tools will be required.

    But this is the internet, the place to sprout off even (or especially) when you don’t know.

    Over the past >100 years SHTF in the USA have been rare, localized and short lived. A few historical examples I can remember now where rifles seemed to have the advantage over shotguns:

    • The Poncho Villa raid into New Mexico (Arizona?) around 1906.
    • The James Gang attempted bank robbery in Northfield MN in 1890 something.
    • Several (not all) of the shooting incidents in the Hatfield McCoy feud, 1870 to 1920?
    • Various range wars in the west, 1860 to 1900+/-.
    These events are not what most people on the internet are expecting for their SHTF, are they?

    I don’t believe any of the US SHTF events in my lifetime (various race riots in Watts, Miami, Baltimore; post storm or earthquake looting, etc) would have required someone to have a rifle over a shotgun.

    Some places outside the US SHTF happens more often, is a lot worse, lasts a lot longer. Like wars, coups, government crack downs on Liberty, tribal/family conflict, and criminal gangs taking over city neighborhoods or whole parts of the country side.

    Looking at the above, I think “What would have to happen--specifically and concretely--in the social space between "unrest" and "revolt" for the distance and accuracy of the rifle to become indispensable?” is…you have to defend against organized, centrally lead, persistent threats.

    The types of looters and rioters we’ve gotten in the short term SHTF situations in the US are un-organized, leaderless mobs, out to grab what they can with minimal risk to themselves, and they have no plan beyond that. They are generally persuaded to cease (or at least to go find a softer target) by a couple of shotgun blasts. The SHTF is over before the looters/rioters can evolve into a more formable threat.

    But armed gangs, revolutionaries, paramilitaries, groups of hired thugs, feudin’ families or tribes, etc, need more than simple persuasion. These groups have the ability to regroup after receiving fire, assess the situation, and figure out how to out flank their opponent. If all you have is a shotgun, it will be difficult to keep the threat far enough way to prevent them from observing you, and maneuvering into a position of advantage. Defense against these groups requires (among other things) the long range, effective fire a rifle provides.
  11. ernunnos

    ernunnos Member

    Feb 11, 2007
    For defensive purposes, a rifle can always substitute for a shotgun, but a shotgun cannot substitute for a rifle. If you want one weapon to cover all eventualities, you want a rifle.
  12. Kentucky

    Kentucky Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    What you are about to read is only my opinion, and is worth no more and maybe less than others in this same thread.

    For me, the choice is between an AR/AK at short range and a 308 at longer ranges.

    The shotgun is a fine tool, but obviously it cant be used for long range work. 100 yards with slugs is the absolute max, and frankly 100 yards doesnt begin to cover the kind of distance I want between me and my opponent in any type of shootout.

    At short ranges the shotgun holds 1/10 of the ammo that an AR does. 3 rounds (or up to 8 rounds) vs 30 is no contest. The fact that shot and buckshot dont pattern out very wide at short ranges has been well established, so the myth of not having to aim is not valid.

    There is a story in General Discussions about a fellow that had two guys break in on him and shot at them with a .38. He used up six shots in just a few seconds, with only one of them hitting his target. I know, practice and shot placement and all that. Still, there were only two intruders and she used up all his shots and only managed to wound one of them. Fortunately that took the fight out of them. A perfect scenario for a particular weapon covering MOST HD secenarios. But what if it had been four guys instead of two, or what if the second guy had just come on through and tried to kill him, what if he hadnt managed to clip the neck of the first guy with one of those 6 shots? More scary than anything, what if he had been attacked by two guys who knew what they were doing instead of two punks? Yeah the revolver was enough gun for his situation, but if any of the variables outlined above had changed then he could have found himself undergunned really quickly.

    It is slower to shoot. Yes, someone who has practiced a lot with their shotgun can probably shoot it very fast. If that same someone practiced as much with an AR they could probably fire 2-3 times as many shots in the same time frame. I know I know, aimed fire and practice. Thats great but in the dark at short ranges it is easier said than done. There is something to be said for being able to "keep their heads down" while you move to a better location, or out the back door :D There is also something to be said for rate of fire if the 4 desperate for a fix druggies decide to rush you. Again, in most scenarios you wont need more than the 3 shots available in a shotgun. But one can certainly imagine, (and show examples of), many scenarios where more is needed.

    It has more recoil and is slower to get back on target.

    It takes longer to reload.

    Is the shotgun adequate for most home defense scenarios? Yes of course. So is a Hi-Point 9mm. But neither one of them is the best tool available.
  13. yermolai

    yermolai Member

    Oct 21, 2007
    Really interesting responses. +1 Sr. Escopeta especially--the idea that the S *really* HTF only when civil chaos starts to give way to order. Would one way to put it be that, SHTF, shotguns are generally enough to defend individuals and their interests--storefronts, homes, grocery carts--but that rifles become necessary in the context of ordered (i.e. team) combat?

    It seems that raids, fortifications, and marches are basic forms of order under SHTF. I can picture the need for rifles here. Let me further refine my question: are there SHTF scenarios which (for all intents and purposes) do *not* involve organized violence--no squads, gangs, or leaders of any significance--but where the shotgun (beyond firepower discrepancies outlined above by Kentucky et al.) is not enough?

    Related: am I missing an in-depth THR thread on squads and small-scale SHTF organization, or is this apparently crucial topic not widely discussed here?

    Ps. It's clearly only a matter of time before I "refine" my question to "O.K. ... which rifle do I buy."
  14. george_co

    george_co Member

    Jun 18, 2003
    Okay, I will give this a shot.

    When is a Shotgun a liability?
    1. Ranges in excess of 50 yards for buckshot, or 75 for slugs.
    2. When the problem you are facing is surrounded by other non-threatening individuals ie: collateral damage, injuring innocents.

    When is a Shotgun a benefit?
    1. Generally easier to hit with at closer range.10 to 40 yds.
    2. Massive damage the closer the target is.
    3. At 20 to 50 yds. closest thing to a machine gun most of us ever
    get. Think the mob out to get Frankenstein with scythes, pitch forks and torches. Against a homogenous mob of threats out to get you. Approximately 72 pellets in under 15 seconds.
    4. Close range intimidation.

    When is a rifle a benefit?
    1. Greater than 75 yds.
    2. When the threat is surrounded by innocents.
    3. When you want to carry more than 30 rounds.
    4. Barrier penetration.

    When is a rifle a liability?
    1. When you have to worry about what else is downrange. Like the Eveready Bunny, the rifle round keeps going and going.

  15. ROMAK IV

    ROMAK IV Member

    Jul 20, 2007
    With respect to penetration and capacity, the rifle is generally superior. There is an active initiative by the federal government to limit the effectiveness of shotguns, as tactical shotguns have for the most part been re-clasified to make them unavailable to the public. The Saiga 12 is about the only shogun that has a detachable magazine that is legal to be sold to the public, that is still avauilabe. A Saiga 12 with the 10 round magazines would counter everything other than the range issue for the shotgun. In fact, purchasing 3 different Saiga firearms: A Saiga 12; a Saiga 223 or 7.62 x 39; and a Siaga 308, would provide a relatively inexpensive coverage for all possible scenarios, and be relatively inexpensive at the same time. The High capacity magazines for all three are a bit more expensive, but the initial outlay for all three would be just around $1100. Another strategy would be to buy a good shotgun for HD and a less expensive rifle, like a Moison Nagant or even a K-31 as a reserve to cover emergencies. A Moison Nagant is around $100, a K-31 can still be found for as low as $150, so it's about the cheapest insurance you can buy. As for other choices of rifles, a high capacity semiauto like an AR or AK, is best for ranges up to 300 yards. Beyond 300 yards, a semiauto isn't as important and bolt actions will work nearly as well. Most large caliber semiautos are heavy and have less of a capacity, and wih the exception of the Saiga, are generally more expensive.

    SHTF discussions sometimes get into other discussions which mght involve theoretical operations against the federal government, and that is beyond the rules and purpose of THR owners, which is perfectly within their rights to limit as they see fit. It makes gun owners seem extreme and so it isn't discussed here because of that.
  16. Autolycus

    Autolycus Member

    Feb 13, 2006
    In the land of make believe.
    To many varibles. I like my shotgun but at times I can see the need for a good rifle.
  17. Exmasonite

    Exmasonite Member

    Sep 4, 2006
    I think the key is that there is no "one" gun for the job. at the very least, one should have a handgun, shotgun, and rifle.

    as to when the AR/AK becomes a "liability" and you want another rifle, that is clearly beyond the scope of a SHTF scenario. there will be no reason why you'd need to be taking 500 yd + shots in order to defend yourself.
  18. silverlance

    silverlance Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    In my Foxhole
    I used to believe this too (and yes, Ive seen box of truth). But I can tell you for sure that my benelli m1s90 firing #4 buck will make a huge hole about 8" at about 7 yards. how many .223 rounds can you fit inside an 8" diameter hole? #4 buck.. lessee.. that's how many pellets? I think 32 IIRC.

    thirty-two .30 caliber nickel plated hardcast pellets, with enough force to blow through anything short of body armor that the BG might be wearing. unless he's wearing significant body armor, your first shot will be undisputed.

    I love my rifle, but when you're in the bedroom and behind the door, the shotgun stands alone.
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