shotgun basics vs myths

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by tacmotusn, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    3 yards, 7 yards, and 15 yards. Those were the ranges I had to qualify watch stander personell at with the .45 colt 1911, and 12 gauge riot shotgun.
    Many novices with the shotgun were, #1 in fear of the recoil, #2 expected the shotgun to spray a wide pattern in a very short distance. #3 had never considered having to aim it, let alone how.
    Because of myth #1 people who did not listen to my lecture, movie experts, held the shotgun away from their body a bit when they yanked the trigger and the shotgun kicked the heck out of them. You should hold the shotgun with the butt pad tight against your shoulder, and it doesn't hurt to lean into the shot just a little. Firing the gun will rock you a little, but can easily be handled with 2.75 length 00 -Buck rounds with 9 pellets, even if you are female, 5ft 2in and 100 pounds.
    Because of myth #2 and 3, people who did not listen to the lecture would often miss the E silhouette 40 tall x 20 wide completely, or hit the flightdeck, or worse. After all, it has no sights, and everyone knows you only have to point it in the general direction of your intended target. You should sight right down over the top of the receiver, lining up the top of the receiver, and the end of the barrel, with the top of the barrel, just covering where you want to hit.
    You should expect the spread of those 9 pellets to be less than 2 inches at 3 yards, about 5 inches at 7 yards, and less than 12 inches at 15 yards. You have to make a conscience effort to align the barrel on your intended target or you may well miss.
    The riot shotguns we trained with had no rifle sights or other sighting devices attached. Barrels were 18 to 18.5 inches long with "cylinder bore" choke (basically that means no choke). If your shotgun has rifle sights then use them. Practice on a target at various ranges to see how your shot spreads, and whether it is centered on your point of aim with the sights. Chokes of "improved cylinder, modified, and full choke" will normally tighten the groups a bit over what I stated above.
    By all means practice with and get to know your life saving tools, for without practice they may well get you killed.
    Thus ends the sermon. jmho
  2. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    A shotgun is not a magic wand.

    A shotgun is not a magic wand to be waved in the general direction of a target, with the expectation that the load will magically impact the centre of the seen target mass contrary to the laws of physics.

    Good post tac.

    (prayers are not usually an effective target acquisition and engagement system either) ; )
    tacmotusn likes this.
  3. Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf Monkey+++

    Good post Tac. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me that the pattern from their shotgun would cover the whole alley!
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Might come close at 50 yards, but there would be a few holes in the pattern. Anyone that is thinking of using a shottie must pattern them at the range anticipated (and a few others for reference) before they can possibly know what to expect. Tacs training allowed for that insofar as the training ranges were set and taught, but probably did not explicitly cover patterning and why.

    I"m sure he'll tell me if I'm off with that. [yack]
  5. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    It would have to be a narrow alley. The manual I worked from claimed maximun effective range to be 50 yards. Pattern was not specified at that range, but elsewhere in the manual was a very old military musket spec of hitting a 6 foot square. So I figure a spread of 6 foot would be the maximum to be considered effective for getting one or two pellet hits.
    You know what this means don't you? I am going to have to go down to Babcock Furniture tomorrow and get a piece of cardboard 6 foot by 6 foot and shoot the damn thing at 50 yards. . .:mad:
    STANGF150 likes this.
  6. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    A duck bill attachment would widen the pattern... but i'm not sure that they are made anymore...

    The type of wad would also have an effect... a cardboard flat wad would spread wider than a "shot cup" style wad...
    Maxflax likes this.
  7. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    You might want to load your shotgun with bird shot (#7.5 or #8 shot). In house at 30 feet and less, it will get the job done unless those being shot are wearing body armor. #4 shot or #6 does and even better job, but may better penetrate that first wall it hits as well.
    Years and years ago as a boy hunting fox squirrels with a .410 shotgun, I found that #7.5 was fine for birds and rabbits. Fox squirrels at normal ranges high in the trees scampering from limb to limb and tree to tree couldn't be anchored with #7.5 at all. #6 was a fifty / fifty proposition, but #4 shot would get it done.
    Now, just how that might apply to defenses within the house, is anybodys guess. BTW #6, #7.5, and #8 low brass game loads are about all I can afford to buy in quanity, and then only when on sale. Aren't the prices on shotgun shell absolutely outragious?
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Go to Hertz and get a bundle of packing paper. Cheaper, and one sheet of cardboard will let you shoot all loads, all shot sizes on each of your chokes. I've found all I needed to know with target loads at 40 yards for spacing, and 20 yards for POI testing.

    One (or two) pellets won't do much unless one gets an eye shot. Further than a large room, go for something a bit more massive than a pellet.

    (And you're right, a narrow alley, it might work, bouncing pellets off the walls.)
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Yep, there are spreader chokes out there. I have never used one (nor even seen one) so can't say how effective they may be. One guy told me he cuts the shot cups at the top of the powder cushion, lets the pellets go wild. Dunno.
  10. PapaSasquatch

    PapaSasquatch Monkey++

    Other than the "fire-from-the-hip-and-watch-the-wide-pattern-kill-everyone" myth, the other that just bugs the crap out of me is the hollywood derived notion (the even some gun folks espouse) that pumping the shotgun when you hear a bump in the night will send the bad guy running.

    Those who've been there, done that, and have had competent training know that 1) Someone determined to break into your home is willing to take risk and will not wet himself and run when confronted (all the time), especially tweakers or actual murderers; and 2) You're not doing a good job protecting your self/home/family if you don't already have your primary home defense weapon loaded and ready to go; and 3) Why oh why would you give up your advantage by giving away your position? In this category should be fools "clearing" their home with lasers and/or lights turned on saying brave comments meaning to scare their burglar/robber. I've heard nimrods say they'll clear their home with a red laser..anything moving under that red light is dead.

    On TV and in macho discussion, we all know "racking the shotgun and he's gone!" is a real fantasy. In real life, not really..especially since the bad guy will then assume that because you racked it and blurted out your epithet, you'll probably also fire from the hip.

    As for what to load with, I'll side with the box-o-truth testers and countless other experts who say that bird-shot is for birds and that if you load with proper ammo that gets the required 12" minimum penetration, it's going to go through walls. You have to use ammo that goes through walls if you want to STOP your badguy. And frankly, between 00buck, 40s&w, and 5.56 rounds, it's all about the same amount of drywall penetration. As for me and my house, we will serve up the douchebags first with a handgun, then the AR, then the shotgun - in that order, due to length, ease of use under stress and cornering agility...all have lights for proper identification prior to being shot. Birdshot on someone with an ounce of determination is going to get you killed. Sure they'll have a very nasty but shallow wound that won't bleed them out...but you'll die. Only on TV do people fall down if shot. Expect the most determined home invaders possible and load and train accordingly is my suggestion.
    STANGF150, Maxflax, Idahoser and 3 others like this.
  11. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    In my USN shipboard security days, we trained at the base range with the .45 pistol and M14 rifle. Shotgun was just 'familiarization fire' off the fantail while at sea. I recall the trainer giving the old myth of "the shot will clear the passageway!" When squirrel hunting, I learned to AIM my shotty - not doing so meant no squirrel for supper!
    My current HD shotgun is the venerable 870 (same as I used in the Navy), but with 20 barrel - I cut the original 28 inch barrel down, installed screw-on rifle sights, and patterned it at the local range - it keeps three slugs inside two inches at 25 yards. I have seen what #6 birdshot can do to a plywood board - that is my HD load, with slugs on the Side Saddle carrier (JIC).
    I don't sweat the lack of a choke - this is not a hunting gun.
    tacmotusn likes this.
  12. Frisian

    Frisian Monkey

    I agree with the case made for patterning the shotgun at various distances.

    And also would add that patterning MUST be done with the same Exact load you intend to use for defense.
    Simply using a different Ammo brand will make a dramatic difference in the patter spread.
    Even within the same brand, premium loads, LE loads or standard loads will again all pattern differently.
    Some loads such as Federal LE reduced recoil loads, with the Flite Control wad are designed to give a very tight pattern when compared to other similar loads.
    Patterning is a must if you intend to use a Shotty for serious self defense.
  13. Redneck Rebel

    Redneck Rebel Monkey++

    Where could one find serious, reliable information on proper SD/HD setup of a shotgun?
    I keep mine loaded with slugs, but because of the layout of my home I do not currently need to be overtly concerned with where a slug goes in the event it misses. I keep the shotgun upstairs and it's primarily for night time use when I'd be defending against attackers coming up the stairwell.
  14. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    Am I correct in assuming SD/HD stands for self defense / home defense? If so I would suggest the following: On a pump shotgun, my preferred weapon of choice, an extended tube magazine to match barrel length (7 round total for 18 inch, 8 round total for 20 inch, 10 round total for over 26 inches). High output flashlight (over 100 lumens) with beam of light adjusted to center of shot pattern at 30 feet. Bandeleer sling with extra ammo. For me that is all I feel I need. YMMV. For ammo I prefer #1 buckshot mag loads, 00-Buck mag loads, and a good brand of solid copper conical saboted slugs. jmho
    Guit_fishN likes this.
  15. Frisian

    Frisian Monkey


    There are a number of good DVDs on the market that will introduce you to Shotgun Defense. Some to check out...

    Magpul industries

    Louis Awerbuck

    Gabe Suarez

    Its worth checking out the varying philosophies by the different instructors... Then if this info has not disuaded you from using the shotgun as your primary platform, seek out if possible, a live fire training course. It can be a real eye opener.

    As far as using slugs for inside the home... beside the issue of over penetration, is the recovery time from shot to shot.
    A shotgun with slugs must be fired like a rifle in terms of sighting, this fact when added to the recovery time between shots make slugs a less than optimal load for this situation.
    If you are going to use the gun like a rifle, then why not use a rifle...
  16. Redneck Rebel

    Redneck Rebel Monkey++

    It's filling in until Keltec extracts their heads from their tails and makes the G22 compatible SUB2K available again. I've got other options available as well, this is simply in the bed room ready to be trained at the top of the stairs where anyone dumb enough must round a corner and clear a landing in the dark with my dog treating them as a chew toy. Over penetration is a 110% non issue here IMO. Theres nothing on the other side to hit inside and on the exterior of the house is an open field with a defunct railroad line at the far end. I think it's suitable for the very specific role it is playing in the grand scheme of things. Thanks for recommending some vids to check out though as I would like to be able to safely expand the role it can play.
  17. Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf Monkey+++

    I found out a long time ago that bird shot at 30' does not impress a raccoon at all, while #4 buck shot gets the job done.
    For 870 shotguns, Surefire makes a forearm with a built in light and pressure switch.
    Maxflax likes this.
  18. wrc223

    wrc223 Monkey+

    About 5 years ago some friends and I all pooled together some cash. One of the guys is a contractor so he used his Lowes card and we bought all kinds of material to make wall assemblies and some other materials to make other targets.
    Here is what I learned about shotguns. If you have wall studs with 1/2" sheetrock for interior walls, pretty much anything associated with being a man stopping round will easily penetrate interior walls. Buckshot and slugs will easily penetrate exterior walls (keep in mind, this is from ranges like 8-13'). Light shot like 7.5 will blow holes in interior walls at 5'. They still maintain enough energy on the other side to penetrate tyvek 1' away from wall assembly. If you are shooting down a hallway 20' or more away, lighter shot will not go through interior wall assemblies. Buckshot can penetrate walls down a hallway but the general consensus among those of us there, seemed like it used up it's energy going through the wall. Slugs sail through and keep goin.
    What we did learn was if you add 1/4 fiberglass panels to the assembly (both sides), you need a rifle to get through that. It kept 12GA at bay and 9mm. 2" viroc will hold off 12GA slugs at 50' for a while (I did not dare nor would I get any closer than that. Even at that range I...we were shooting from behind cover.). Brick walls inside the house around your woodstove is a real good idea. An exterior wall assembly, interior wall assembly, and then a brick wall inside that will hold off a shotgun for a real long time. It stopped a couple shots from a .375H&H Mag.
    Another thing we found out was with shot anything at a sharp enough angle will slow and stop the rounds with interior wall assemblies. They deflect very well. Each persons house is different. It is tough to pick the right round for the job. If overpenetration is an issue where you live, lighter shot is your best bet.
    From my ffp's in my house I am fortunate to have a wonderful set up to offer protection and safe shooting lanes. Areas that were vulnerable have since been upgraded for the safety of my family. Not that I am worried about my shots, but concerned if someone tries shooting up at us.
  19. groovy mike

    groovy mike Immortal

    I agree that trying to scare a home invader with sound is stupid. So is giving your position away.

    I suppose it is possible that a combination of wall studs and bricks stopped a round of 375 H&H but it does not match my experience. 375 H&H soft point fcatory loaded hunting ammo punches 3/4 inch soft steal 100% of the time. By contrast 308 "armor piercing" military ammo punches through about 50% of the time, other wise it just makes a dent. 375 H&H solids loaded for dangerous game will punch straight through bricks, cinder block, and dang near anything else a badguy might consider cover including mid sized trees and do it easily. The greater kudu antelope in my avatar pic was hit behind the right hip with a 375 H&H and SWift A frame at a distance of 272 paces. During butchering the bullet was found lodged in his left shoulder. That's about 5 feet of penetration through bone and tissue and a one shot kill on a 700 pound animal at 250 + yards with a lead faced soft point hunting load. Penetration is not an issue with the venerable 375 H&H.

    Yes Yes Yes pattern the shotgun with the load you plan to use. The exact shotgun and the exact load. Changing either changes your pattern. You DO need to aim a shotgun! try shooting trap. If you can hit a moving target 25 out of 25 times, I will be impressed.

    But a scatter gun can clear hallway. Try to pattern 3 ounces of shot from an 8 gauge shell at 50 yards. Yes it will kill you at that distance too. Punt guns were built to kill FLOCKS of geese. Now I admit that few people have 8 gauge guns. A ten guage is somewhat less effective and a 12 gauge slightly less than that. But if I dump a Saiga 12 mag down a stairwell. No one is coming up those stairs. For 2 legged predators I recommend #4 shot or larger (#2, oo buck etc.). Yes I DO want my ammo to penetrate walls and furniture and anything else that might give a bad guys a chance of surviving if he is shooting at me.

    Ok I have ranted enough - for anyone new to shotgun and looking for info. Here are the basics:

    Shotgun primer

    Every once in awhile new shooters ask some basic shot-gunning questions trying to decide which shotgun they should buy. They are generally concerned with either home defense, or hunting, but often both. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com<img src=" />

    Yes you can hunt small game and game birds with the big 10 gauge, but it is more recoil than most people want to deal with on a regular basis. By and large the “big gun” is the 12 gauge. It has been a fight stopper from the OK corral to World War Two.

    I have been asked many times if a 12 gauge is too much gun for hunting small game. There is a fear among some new shooters that the smaller animals will be too peppered with pellets to be edible or at best a gruesome mess. It is not true. Many, many, many rabbits and partridge and pheasants have gone down to the 12 gauge and been perfectly suitable for eating world wide over the last hundred years or so.

    Sixteen gauge shotguns use a shell slightly smaller than the 12 gauge shell, but there is not a significant difference in the perceived recoil. In my opinion, the only thing gained by using a sixteen gauge is greater expense because the shells are used a lot less common and thus cost more than the twelve gauge or the 20 gauge.

    That said, a 20 gauge is also perfectly suitable for all shotgun hunting and for self defense without the full recoil from the larger shells of 16, 12, or 10 gauge guns. I agree with the often repeated advice that new shot-gunners, most women, and younger teens who wish to hunt or shoot trap or skeet should begin with a 20 gauge. Many are built for smaller frame shooters (youth models) and they will probably be a better match for those folks.

    The 28 and 410 gauge shells are much smaller than the 20 gauge and also more expensive. They can be used for hunting and defense, but it is like deer hunting with a 22 rimfire. These shells are really not best suited to the job. These smaller gauges are useful for teaching shotgun use, and for youths to hunt squirrels with, but in my personal opinion do not throw enough lead to reliably take birds on the wing. Others will disagree.

    Once you decide on what shell to fire, the next question is what action choice to make for your shotgun. Single shots are simple to operate and inexpensive, but slower to reload and fire after the first shot than other types of actions. The venerable side by side shotguns aka “double barrels” are basically two single shot guns sharing a single stock. They are reliable in that you have two complete actions (triggers, hammers, chambers) so that if one breaks you still have the second, but also heavy. You are carrying two barrels as well. Pump guns are the next technological step. There are good ones and bad ones. They require two hands to operate and I have found them more prone to jam than any other action, but they did dominate the shotgun market for 50 years, so I really can’t put them down too much. Any of these can and will work for you if you find one that you like and that feels natural for you to operate. I personally love the old outside hammer side by sides but they are not the optimum for efficiency. In my opinion that designation goes to the more modern semi automatic shotguns.

    A semi auto will be more expensive than a pump, double, or single shot but it will kick less because the springs soak up recoil. Follow up shots will be very fast until you need to reload. The number of shells you can load at a time varies but is generally at least three so that you will get at least one more shot than the old double guns without having to pump the action or work a bolt.

    If you have any concern with recoil get a semi auto. Regardless of what you buy, put a pad on the butt-stock to cushion your shoulder when you practice.

    In general the number of pellets in a shotgun shell is greater for the bigger bore guns. A 12 gauge is a larger diameter shell than a 20 gauge. So when using the same sized shot the 12 gauge will throw more pellets than the 20 gauge per shell.

    Similar to the numbers used to designate gauge, shot size is also inverse to the number designation. The smaller the number - the larger the pellet. #8 shot is very small pellets suitable for bird hunting. #6 shot is a decent rabbit load. #4 and #5 is a larger pellet suitable for turkeys. #2 shot is suitable for goose hunting. #1 shot is big O, OO, and OOO are bigger pellets sometimes called buckshot. In general the larger the pellet, the more deadly it is when it hits large game. The trade off is that you fit fewer pellets in a shell.

    You can fire shorter shells (like 2 3/4 inch length) in a shotgun that holds longer shells with no downside. You can't fire longer shells in a shotgun designed for shorter shells. For example you can not use 3 inch shells in a shotgun with a 2 3/4 inch chamber. All things equal, get the longer chamber to increase your ammo options, but buy the shorter shells to reduce recoil. As a rule of thumb, the longer the shell the harder it will kick. So buy the 2 3/4 inch shells not the 3 1/2 inch shells. The short ones will do everything you want at under 50 yards.

    This covers the very basics of shot-gunning terms and should give you enough information to start asking questions and narrowing down the choices when you decide which shotgun you want and what you want to feed it with.

  20. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Disagree here. Wing and clay shooting does NOT involve "aiming" per se, it's pointing, a completely different technique. Busting 25 of 25 isn't a miraculous deal, even I've done it, so don't be all that impressed. Top shooters can go 500 of 500 or more. (That would NOT be me.) However, when you get into two and four legged game, aiming becomes more appropriate. That would be why defensive shottie designs have sights somewhat more advanced than the usual bead sights on wing and clays guns. (I like "ghost rings" personally.) I have some friends, dedicated deer and turkey hunters, that use optics and red dots on their guns.

    The same admonitions against spray and pray with semi- (and full) auto pistol and rifle applies to shotguns. Not a killer tactic unless prayer works, and He won't respond to that most of the time.
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary