A shotgun for HD/SD.... Why?

Just posting this to stir up discussion, NOT arguments. At the end of the day everyone will do what makes them comfortable and that’s quite Ok. You all have the right to sleep like a baby at night. What I’m posting here is my opinions but I love to hear other folks take on this topic.

So last night I was teaching a class on SD weapons and the topic of shotguns was brought up by two lovely ladies. Same topic came up again today during another discussion.

So here is my take on SD/HD shotguns…

Not for me, thank you.

Heretic, no???

I think any “normal person” trying to decide what their long gun of choice should be for SD/HD should look for slow motion videos of someone firing a shotgun and someone firing an AR rifle and THEN decide. I like the concept of 30 rounds, almost no recoil all day long, and add to this the fact that a quick switch of mags gives me a completely different ammo performance profile? Winner…

That being said my biggest concern with using a shotgun for self defense is how unwieldy and obnoxious it is to fire ANY shotgun. I have the misfortune of training a LOT of new shooters that some misguided clerk in a gun store convinced that a 12 gauge pump is the answer to ALL Home Defense needs. Some even have bought into the ultra short pistol gripped 12 ga concept! These are folks that have no training and in some cases have NEVER fired a shotgun, and most (when you press them on it) really made this critical decision based on cost primarily. Reality is that a basic no frills 12 or 20 ga pump is about as inexpensive as it gets for a HD weapon, and an easy decision when propped with info derived from the opinions of the counter guy and a bazillion hollow echo voices on the internet.

When I get these folks I will go out of my way not to give them any preconceived notions of their own capabilities or limitations since many will surprise you. I spend time and prepare them physically AND mentally for that first shot. I even use light target loads to make sure they have the relatively best possible experience on that first shot. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has hated the experience and acknowledged they made a mistake. Can they be trained to get past that? SURE! But again, why start with a handicap?

So I am clear, I believe a shotgun loaded with slugs AND outfitted with proper sights in the hands of a professional/civilian well trained in its use is an AWESOME tool that will most likely defeat even a body armor clad bad guy. I think it’s the closest to Thor’s hammer us mere mortals will ever experience. BUT, in the hands of someone that is not trained it is most probably, based on my observations, a wild ONE shot wonder.

I consider myself relatively proficient with a 12 gauge in any configuration and I sold all my SD shotguns a long time ago. I can’t see me reaching for one when I have an handy AR as an alternative.

And let’s set aside the fact that a long gun is normally easier to shoot well than a handgun, there is no argument there. But my point here is that if a long gun is the answer, and it could very well be for most folks, why make it a shotgun? If an 5.56 AR is “too much” why not a Ruger carbine, which will be just as easy to shoot as a shotgun and easier to add real value accessories like a red dot sight and lights AND it can deliver 30 rounds of soft shooting yet highly effective 9mm versus 3-5 rounds of shoulder pounding 20 gauge.

Or even better, a 9mm pistol with a 5"-9" barrel, either the Ruger or AR variants with a brace on it running high capacity Glock mags. Why would any shotgun be a better option for indoor use for HD?



You’re right about cost. Some are priced at about the same range as a Phoenix pistol.

As for me, I want me a little pricey AR-style shotgun from Rock Island Armory.


I would love to get my hands on one of those and take it to my trap range :rofl:


Thanks for starting the topic @Enzo_T

As we were discussing. I agree that a .223 semi auto makes much more sense than a shotgun for many reasons. Even though my primary home defense weapon is a handgun for various reasons, there are situations where a rifle is a better choice. For most folks with limited training a rifle will also be significantly easier to shoot accurately.

A short barrel braced 9mm pistol that reliably shoots HP ammo or 300 BLK braced pistol might actually be the perfect home defense weapon. Wish I could afford one!


MY 2 cents, On the plus side.
A shotgun slug or shot is less likely to go get to your neighbors house than say a 5.56.
A shotgun is big so there is some visual value there, when the bad guy looks down the barrel he may just change his mind.
A shotgun is loud, another psychological advantage.
A shotgun is certainly cheap.
Shot gun ammo is pretty easy to get and is relatively inexpensive.
And to your point “sleep like a baby” the person with the shot gun will, at least believe, they are well equipped.

Why I don’t have one for SD, I think you covered it mostly
Too bulky and difficult to handle in a close encounter inside of my house.
Not very agile, I can’t take it on a walk or effectively use it in my car.
Devastation, it destroys everything it touches, furniture, cabinets, walls, not just a hole but a HOLE.

That said and like you said. Everyone has there own reasons and opinions in regards to HD and SD. If your are trained and you are practiced with a shotgun, I pity the poor bastard that climbs through your window at 2am.


I believe this is a common misconception. Slugs and 00 buckshot over penetrate more than most .223/5.56 rounds. Many .223/.556 rounds actually penetrate less than handgun rounds.


IMO- this should be the primary HD tool for a novice. High capacity, minimal recoil, plus easy to get and hold on target.

However, in many cases the shotgun is what has been in the household for years and is a known commodity both in usage and function familiarity. Is it ideal to wind through the house in the dark with a 24"-28" barreled duck/dove/turkey gun; probably not; but you use what you have on hand.

Personally, I have a predetermined escalation plan; handgun to 8" pcc to 16" AR rifle with shot gun being the last SD/HD tool. All go to the range on a rotating basis to stay proficient.

God willing the plan will never have to be executed.


I prefer a good high capacity handgun like my M&P 2.0 9mm 5” barrel with 2 17 round magazines and my M&P Sport II AR15 with a 30 round mag and 2 spare mags near by. Although some will prefer a shotgun because that’s what they feel comfortable with and that’s ok also. A shotgun is better than having nothing at all.


Prices are starting to come down. Palmetto State Armory has some great ones and they are becoming more affordable by the day, again.


I agree with Shamrock on this one. Heavy and slow usually translates to DEEP penetration. The tests I’ve seen show that a slug is as easy to stop as a locomotive. Proper light/fragile .223 HP ammo is not a great penetrator. BTW just saw a test where a 230gr .45 JHP penetrated right through 3 full indoor walls over a 30 feet distance without expanding and hit a target on the other side.


I have read of a lot of folks having issues with AR style 9mm pistols having feeding issues when shooting hollow points. Especially with Glock style mags. Does anyone have experience or seen reliable reviews with people shooting a lot of 9mm SD HPs without issues?

I might just try building a 300 BLK instead anyways. Worked with a vet awhile back with a lot of special forces experience who said it was a great defensive caliber.


Can’t speak for others but mine runs flawless with anything I feed her. My original one about 20 years ago was troublesome and I think that’s where that perception came from. Now we have dedicated lowers and uppers without need for adapters or compromises. They are AMAZING!!!


That makes sense, get that much mass moving it’s not going to be easy to stop. Certainly a frangible .223 isn’t going very far.


I used to think a 12 gauge with short mini shells was the answer. Still might be some of the time. Got a hi point 9mm carbine, nice but more fun for the range. Use a canik tp9 long slide now 20 & 1, like that. This is just my most recent thought, a short barreled ar rifle/pistol with a stock would be ideal. Still looking for that…


Handgun, shotgun or rifle, you need to have confidence in your firearm, and confidence comes with training.
My Department’s .45ACP UZI certainly fills the bill for HD/SD much better than the AR I used to carry in the trunk of my car, however the State of CA would frown on me having one these days :slightly_frowning_face:


My PSA PA-9, 8" (ETS mags- 17, 22, 31, 40) eats everything from value priced FMJ 115’s (Magtech, Fed Champion, etc.) to JHP 124’s (Sig V-Crown, Fed Punch, IMI DiCut).

Additionally, very accurate but when you’re putting 31 rounds through paper you’re making a shotgun equivalent. Breeze to keep clean & lubed, too.


As pointed out by others it’s a individual thing. I cut my teeth on a Wingmaster 870 20ga and have probably fired more 12ga shells through my 870 than my .223 mini-14. Probably something like a 10 to 1 ratio. It’s my opinion that should I need a stack of 20/30 round mags then there are more attackers than I’m going to survive. Remember just as you can shoot through walls, over penetrate, they can too. I keep handgun handy, shotgun at a good location, and my .223 in the safe. After decades of wing shooting quail, duck, pheasant, dove, and such, my shotguns hit where I look. there is no aim, just quick point and shoot. I can run my five 00’s at five different targets, taking each down, likely as fast or faster than most can their semi-auto AR. BTW-- felt recoil on the range is completely different than what one feels when on the hunt. I do agree that for most people shooting a low recoil weapon works, but don’t you believe us true shotgunners are not up to the job.


I read somewhere that everyone should practice shooting skeet with a shotgun to be able to defend against a drone attack…when I was young drones didn’t fly through the air !!


I think @Enzo_T is right on the money. In the hands of a capable/proficient shot gun user, it is a devastating tool. I’m 6’1”, 295ish lbs and shoot skeet, and other shotgun activities regularly. I can run my pump 12 gauge with the best of them. My wife, is 5’2”, smaller stature, and has RA. She won’t be using any shotgun any time soon. She prefers a 6 inch .357 revolver, to a long gun. Each person has to use what is right for them. For the vast majority, a mid length barrel, pistol caliber carbine is just the ticket.


My 12.5 and 14.5" AR’s are in the safe. This guy is bedside…I love this setup…6 position stock, and at 6’2" I practice with it closed up all the way…had a dream last night I was using an AR for hd, and woke up saying it would have been a better dream with the shottie.
Fwiw…Mossberg 500 tactical persuader. My son has similar but newer, believe it’s now called the scorpion. Short, light,very mobile. Rack on recoil and follow up is… quick enough.
Talking with a club mate yesterday, we found we both carry Glock 43’s primarily, and agreed if you really need 30 rounds or multiple mags as a civilian, well something has gone totally fubar.
Hey whatever works, and pretty sure when my cans come in, the 12.5" AR will replace the Mossberg bedside.