Whether it’s Grandpa’s old Remington or a modern Kel-Tec KSG, the psychological deterrent of a shotgun cannot be argued with. Ammunition choice is rather simple. Buckshot is preferred, due to the spread effect, but accuracy is still required, of course. Much like a rifle, the larger chassis of a shotgun allows for less-experienced users to effectively manipulate the weapon. Also, for those in restrictive jurisdictions, shotguns tend to be the easiest weapons to acquire.
A shotgun loaded up with buckshot is less likely to overpenetrate as well. Objects may stop those pellets from sailing through walls and striking unintended targets. However, remember always what your target is and what is beyond it.
Like a rifle, close-quarters manipulation becomes problematic. The length of the weapon might be an issue when traversing a narrow corridor, and yes, a determined assailant would find it easier to attempt a “grab”. Yes, you can shorten a shotgun’s barrel, but there’s legal hurdles and a wait time to make a short-barreled shotgun, or SBS as it is known.
Also, until recently, shotguns were not able to be suppressed. With the introduction of the Silencerco Salvo, a shotgun suppressor is a reality. In home defense, having a suppressed firearm gives the user a decisive tactical advantage, as the concussive blast of the shotgun is mitigated, allowing for more effective follow-up shots since the user is not deafened and disoriented. However, unless pending legislation changes the situation, acquiring a suppressor (where legal) involves significant bureaucratic hurdles and (as of February 2017) about an eight month wait time for the ATF approval to come in.
Below, you’ll see over a dozen shotgun models, sortable by various criterion such as ammunition and action-type. The models we’ve chosen here vary widely on price and expertise required, but we’ve provided brief descriptions and specs to help make your gun shopping easier, and to allow you to explore the differences between major models and manufacturers.
At the very bottom of this article we have an additional section on “Ammunition Selection” and no “Shotgun Actions”, in addition to a robust “Resource Guide” of links for people who’d like to learn even more.
Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
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