Shotguns for Home Defense – Myths and Realities

James Yeager talks about shotguns for self-defense and related topics like ammo and tactics…

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments below…


  1. Never heard of this fellow before but he is spot on with his shot gun assessment. Today’s bad guys are less afraid of the gun it’s self. They will judge the threat when they scope out the person holding the gun and that is the reason racking no longer works with bad guys. It will still scare the crap out of good guys though.

  2. Not much new here, but good advice for a newbie.

    Just got a Mossberg 500 20ga “Defender” for inside the house defense. Short Hogue stock, bead night sight, raised Brownell’s safety.

    I find that the 590’s and extended mag 870’s too long and heavy for “inside” work.

    Loaded with Federal #2 buck, ooh-la-la!

  3. Curley Bull says:

    I pretty much stand in agreement with this fella on everything. I prefer the 24” ported barrel due to getting full power from the shell and a little softer recoil. But “to each his own”.

    Luke 11:21

  4. tommy2rs says:

    I’ve had to use my model 97 police issue twice during breakins back when I was young and single. Just thumb the hammer back and pull the trigger. Both times one round ended the problem immediately. It’s still by my bed in a rack ’em wall mount.

    One thing he doesn’t mention is that firing a shotgun in the house, without hearing protection, leaves you with a lasting impression. I also learned not to be so cheap about the cost of rent and moved to better area….lol

  5. Didn’t hear anything to disagree with. Nicely thought
    out and explaned for the newer shooters.

  6. I like my smith and Wesson 45 tactical on a 1911 frame with night sights. I use Winchester 230grain brass jacketed hollow point rounds. I have had to use this gun . It lifted him and blew him thru my screen door. Sorry to say there is no getting up from this. Shotgun is ok but sitting on the couch and someone kicks your door in you don’t have time to get a shotgun.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Some of us have discussed this from time to time. We live in the country and have different tools for different jobs. A lowly 20 ga. can be defined as a critter gitter and is not intended to murder. I’m not so sure the same argument could be made in a court of law if you meet an intruder with a .45. Would depend upon circumstances and district.

    • only in the movies says:

      “It lifted him and threw him thru the screen door.” – very doubtful – ever heard of Newton’s laws? “For every action there is a equal, and opposite, reaction.” – how far back did it throw you? Musta’ been a Hollywood gun…

  7. 1 Man + God=A Majority says:

    Agreed 100%, James! Excellent tips.

    There is not a better defensive weapon made for the “average” person than a shotgun.

    We have Remington 870s, Winchester 1300s, Ithacas Model 37s, and the “new kid” on the block is our $150 special, an H&R Pardner 12 ga. (it’s built like a Sherman tank, don’t let anyone kid you.)

    Our local county government board got the notion to ban “assault” weapons because they were so horrible. Our local Sheriff and even County Coroner attended this vast public hearing hoping to yet abridge our God-given as well as 2nd Amendment rights.

    After all the malarkey was presented by the “antis,” I calmly got up and had the opportunity to speak. Before this vast crowd I asked the County Coroner which was the most devastating weapon his office had seen in terms of human gunshot wounds.

    The County Coroner’s very quiet and meek answer was “12 gauge shotgun, of course…”

    I asked him kindly to repeat his answer loud and clear, which he did. To the delight of gun owners in attendance, the proposal to ban “assault weapons’ went down in flames.

    Plus–the “antis” didn’t have the votes or guts to ban the little old shotgun–testified to as being the firearm producing the most devastating wounds upon human flesh.

    Back in 1917 in WWI, when the Germans started using flame throwers, poison gas, and “shock” assault tactics, Uncle Sam’s Dough-boys stopped ’em cold using their 12 ga. scatter-guns. Stopped ’em cold.

    The Germans were so outraged, they filed formal complaints against the US. Army and marine for using such a “inhuman” weapon! Imagine that…the pot calling the kettle black!

    Your home shotgun is your best friend when needed: treat it right and it will bite at your command.

  8. James Nelson says:

    Not bad advice except for the stuff about tactical 12 gauge loads. At home defense distances there will be no fall off in lethality between full power and tactical loads. If there were police departments would not have requested and gone to the tactical loads. The advantage of tactical loads is faster follow up shots. I’m a big guy and the speed difference is noticeable to me.
    TLs (for short) fire the same weight of shot at about 200 feet per second less than FP loads. Penetration difference at less than 50 yards is too close to call. At 100 yards you will see some fall off, But buckshot in a shotgun is not a viable self defense choice. At anything under 50 yards FP loads will blast through the human body with power to spare, so will the TP loads. The TP loads may be less powerful than the FP loads afterward, but at that point who cares? If a 20 gauge is perfectly adequate for self defense, and it is, how can a tactical buckshot load for a 12 gauge with considerably more power than a 20 be inadequate?
    Besides the faster follow up shots with the tactical loads, smaller weaker people can shoot a 12 gauge much more comfortably with them. My GF likes to shoot and has her 20 gauge 870, but I have several 12s. What sense would it make to have a home defense weapon she can’t use because full power loads are too much for her.
    IMO tricked out shotguns for home defense are unnecessary and might (slim chance) cause problems down the road. Even new pump shotguns are cheap, certainly cheaper than handguns, and there is a ton of used ones out there. Get 2 or 3 and have them in various locations. If you defend yourself and end up on trial, it might be better to not have used some super trick tactical shotgun, but one like grandpa hunted deer with.

  9. The last place you want to fire a 12ga is in a small enclosed space… like a room of your house. You’ll be lucky if the hearing loss isn’t permanent (I have 40% loss of hearing in my left ear after my cousin set off the big stick inside a barn). At night, you will be blinded by the muzzle flash. You can also expect much of the glass in the room to break from the pressure. These disadvantages should not be overlooked.

    I will point out that the lowly .410 has the same muzzle velocity, power and penetration as the 12 ga. The ONLY difference is the size of the payload: 12 ga = 9 x 000 buck. the .410 = 3 x 000 buck. At home defense range you’re not likely to miss, which negates the “shotgun advantage,” and still gives you 3 holes in your target, without the significant disadvantages of the big boom.

    • Michael Fassari says:

      32 yrs LE and I can attest that a 12 GA. WILL NOT blow out all the windows in a room.

      • That’s not what I said.

        It WILL take out mirrors, picture glass and lamp bulbs in proximity to your point of aim.

        • Michael Fassari says:

          Not unless you are within an inch or two of those items. A shotgun blast, indoors, does NOT create an over-pressure situation and the sound waves are no louder or potent then any other large calibre firearm (handguns or rifles). I’m speaking from personal experience here.

  10. Tactical G-Ma says:

    This guy’s good. I have the Rem 870 20ga jr but I changed the stock to an adjustable tacticle stock and added a pistol grip so I can shoot from shoulder or the hip. Before you decide what load to use, go to the range and try different ones. What works on cardboard will work at close range on a body. Get what you can handle and always double-tap. Just the opinion of a defenseless old crippled lady.

  11. riverrider says:

    i suggest if you are banking on using a shotgun inside your home for defense that you search out prison videos of inmates teaching each other how to disarm a defender armed with a shotgun. i saw them 30 years ago, didn’t believe it, until a corrections capt. friend tried it out on me. even knowing when the attack was coming, he still took my gun every time, before i could pull the trigger. no long guns for interior defense. handgun only, and presented horizontally from the rib cage, not out in front or the low ready. they have effective disarming techniques for that too. now, if you plan on using it from your front door to the end of the driveway, none better can be had. jm2c.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Definitely going to think on that and research. You just jogged a wire in my brain. I’ve heard that before. Seems like I even learned that years ago in martial arts. Well dh keeps a handgun on his side. Plus we have an alarm and several barriers that have to be breached while we sleep. Thanks for your input and all the others – pros and cons.

      • riverrider says:

        hey not sayin they aren’t useful. i have a 20 ga 870 in the coat closet in case the threat or suspected threat is outside at night, and for critters.

  12. Bam Bam says:

    What is a full power load? Is this 00 buck instead of birdshot (which I am imagining is 06 or something)?

    Right now I have my Glock 19 as my primary self-defense weapon. The Remington 870 is in the closet. I just don’t have enough training at this point to feel comfortable using it in a high stress situation.

    But my big question for the gun gurus is this: what is better in a home invasion scenario, a 9 mm or a 12 gauge? (I ask this question theoretically, as if one had solid training on both guns.)

    Personally, I don’t have to worry too much about a home invasion. If Max, our GSD doesn’t scare the bad guys away, my dh holding his Springfield in his tighty-whities would certainly do the job–we’d probably get sued for psychological scaring.

  13. What works for us is two shotguns (his and hers) accessible in the bedroom with handguns and a 22lr accessible in the house areas. Due to our rural location, depending on the critter I need to address, the choice is just a few steps away.

    I prefer bird shot for close up encounters. In my last life as a Paramedic, there is absolutely nothing worse than trying to plug holes made by a shotgun. Although your house will be quite a sight for a while, no matter where you hit, he ain’t getting up.

    If I had to choose for a home invasion, it’s shotgun first, pistol second. You plug someone with a 12 guage and anybody in his right mind will leave.

  14. Thomas The Tinker says:

    My DW and I have opted to a handgun first. Only because of the speed and agility. Our fall back locations have hard angles and shotguns to defend them with. Momma loves her Mossy20.. so do I. Given the ‘Time’ to react, we have both decided to use the Mossys. Odd timing MD… I’m taking the TDIohio shotgun course again this July with my Mossy20.

  15. hes right ,, rackin the slide is not a deterent to some moron high on what ever juju is in vogue now… just sayin….

  16. Both the wife and I keep handguns in the nightstands,her a wheel gun me and auto but I also have a mossy 500 loaded and ready in the corner if I can get to it quick enough. I prefer the shotgun. In case of a night break in The dogs would probably make enough noise for that. Remember that while a handgun is better than nothing its still does not have the stopping power of a rifle or a shotgun at close range. Of course that’s just my opinion I could be wrong

  17. I agree with everything but one item, which, even then, I’m of two minds. As a LEO, it was department policy to keep the shotgun without a round in the chamber for safety reasons. I understand because some cops get complacent about firearm safety. I know of a chief in a smaller town who was killed while removing his shotgun from his vehicle. He habitually kept a round in the chamber and one day brought the shotgun out muzzle first, pointed right at him. Something caught on the trigger and the safety was off. It was the last thing he saw.

    Yeager’s comment about people not being scared from the sound of the slide being racked or simply having the shotgun pointed at them is false. He has obviously never been in a situation where this happened. I have and let me tell you, the suspect just about needed to get a clean pair of undies once he was in cuffs.

    It all depends on the situation. Preppers are not LEO’s and their mission isn’t the same as a cop. A prepper’s mission is to survive and keep his family alive in a FMITRAI situation. So, taking prisoners isn’t and shouldn’t be a top priority. However, shooting someone and probably taking a life isn’t an easy proposition. While you may not feel guilt, you still have to live with the nightmares. Even thought you It doesn’t matter how “mentally prepared” you feel you are to shoot someone, you will still deal with the after affects no matter how justified.

  18. Tracker says:


  19. Encourager says:

    For our anniversary two years ago, we purchased a youth 20 gauge shotgun. Dh already has his Dad’s 12 gauge, but it put me on my butt and nearly tore my arm off at the shoulder. The 20 gauge I can handle and it is short enough for me to be comfortable. It came with two barrels.

  20. Edward p Hammond says:

    as someone living in subidize housing and on fixed income i would apreceate the opinons of my fellow prepers that are lawenforcment traind as to the viabilite of rubber ammo in an apartment so small that if i did hit my target my nerest nabore would be less than 20ft from my targget with only sheetrock between me and them,so right now the 12gapump is loded with rubber buck+duble ball lodes with .22mag single six lodeded with holopoints as back up hope to replace .22mag with s+w govener .45-.410 in a couple of yrs so advise please

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