Friday, February 27, 2009

Guns: Accessories for the Home Defense Shotgun

For a long time, my housegun was a plain-Jane 20 gauge Remington 870 with an unwieldy 26" barrel. I switched to a 20" barreled 12 gauge 870 (mostly because of the scarcity of 20 gauge buckshot), and that served as bedroom defense for a long time. I'd still be using it today if I could ever get out onto the skeet range to practice. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, so I shelved the 870 and went with an AR carbine because that's what I could get range time with.

Still, during those years where the shotgun was my primary housegun, I learned a lot about setting it up for defense, thanks to the folks on various webforums (The High Road and The Firing Line, mostly). Xavier posted about this topic recently, so I thought I'd share my top accessories for the home defense shotgun.

1. Proper Ammo - This is really the biggest and only absolute requirement. I don't make many blanket statements here on Shangrila Towers about guns, but here's one - NEVER use birdshot for defense if you can help it. Go with 00 buckshot or slugs. Birdshot is made for shooting birds and busting clay pigeons, not for penetrating into dense muscle and bone. Even the much-heavier 00 buckshot sometimes has problems with penetration, so why would you use something even lighter?

2. Stock & Sights - At most inside-the-room distances, a shotgun must be carefully pointed in order to hit at all. I won't say "aimed," because you don't really aim a shotgun, especially at a moving target. But you do need to point with your barrel, and a good-fitting stock and visible sights can help you with that. You may or may not opt for fancy tritium front beads - just make sure your eye can track the end of the barrel at all times, even when you're looking at the target. The best way to test your particular setup in this regard is practice at a skeet, trap, or sporting clays range. Go out with your shotgun as it is set up in your home, and practice often.

3. Weaponlight - A cheap polymer flashlight from one of the big flashlight manufacturers (SureFire, Streamlight, Pelican, etc.) will do if you mount it to your gun with a metal bracket. In a pinch, handheld lights not mounted to the shotgun can work if you have an autoloader, but not with a pump, since you'll need both hands to shuck the action. I've already spoken about how much I like my TLR-1 weaponlight, but the prettiest setup is a dedicated foreend light.

4. Sidesaddle/Buttcuff - I'm not as gung-ho about adding extra ammo onto the gun as others, since it's almost unthinkable that you'll need to use more than 6 or 7 shells in a fight. For when the unthinkable happens, though, you might like a sidesaddle or a buttcuff shell holder. Both store extra ammo on the side of the gun, and both alter how the gun weighs and handles. The buttcuff shellholder is a heckuva lot cheaper, so it gets my nod.


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