Hello again TFB, and welcome to the second part of a series titled “Love, Grandpa Fudd.” In this series (okay two articles), with input from you readers, the TFB staff, and the sometimes-helpful TFB Discord, we’ll be tackling some of the most pernicious Fuddlore that still rears its ugly head. Without any further ado, let’s beat to death an argument that we’ve hashed out a million times. This time, shotguns and home defense.
A Letter from Grandpa Fudd
I was talking with my good friend, Bubba, about how to protect ourselves in the home. Now Bubba said he used a sporterized Mauser that he worked on himself, but I told him that the best thing to do was to use a shotgun! After all you barely have to aim the thing, it just blows holes in whatever you point it at. If someone starts trying to break in, I’ll just fire through the door!
Dear Grandpa Fudd
Well Grandpa Fudd, there’s certainly nothing wrong with using a shotgun as your home defense weapon. Millions of Americans do. But I’m afraid you’re wrong about not having to aim. Just ask any skeet shooter, 3-gun competitor, or avid duck hunter, you absolutely have to aim a shotgun to get a hit on target.
And a shotgun loaded with buck won’t just “blow holes” through a target that’s just generally in the same direction as your muzzle. Unless you properly line up your shot, you will not get the results promised by that amazing Clint Smith quote that a shotgun will “physically remove a chunk of shit off of your opponent and throw that shit on the floor”. I will also note that Clint prefaced that statement by saying “at the right range with the right load”. Further, under absolutely no circumstances should you just “fire through the door”. That is unquestionably a bad, bad idea that unfortunately got some mainstream attention a few years back.
You Have to Aim With a Shotgun
This is, fortunately, a much more widely accepted truth than it used to be. Most people these days understand that you have to aim with a shotgun. Others, inspired by video games or fuddlore, believe that 00 Buck will spread out to the size of a dinner plate at home-defense ranges. Thus, you barely need to aim. This is of course, untrue.
The Box O’ Truth has spent years testing every conceivable type of ammunition for MOA, drywall penetration, spread, and anything else you could think of. I really cannot praise their work highly enough, go check it out! In the post I’ve linked above, they tested 4 types of 00 Buck, the most common home defense shotgun load: Remington Managed Recoil Buckshot, Hornady 00 Buckshot, Estate S.W.A.T 00 Buckshot, and Remington Premier 3″ Magnum. Using a stock Mossberg 12 gauge Maverick, they measured shotgun spread at 12 feet (4 yards), an average home defense distance. At that distance, the pellets spread between 1.75″ and 4″. Definitely not enough spread to justify not aiming or just barely aiming.
Do Not Shoot Through the Door
Well Grandpa Fudd, this is a really bad idea. Do not do this. While obviously laws differ from state to state, in almost every state shooting blindly through the door is, in the best-case scenario, reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment charges carry (again depending on the state) a sentence of between 3 months and 7 years in prison. If you actually hit someone? Unless they were pulling a “Here’s Johnny!” and physically hacking down the door with an ax, you’d be looking at assault with a deadly weapon or even manslaughter, both of which carry hefty prison sentences.
A Parting Thought
There’s nothing wrong with shotguns for home defense. As I mentioned at the beginning, millions of Americans use them for just that purpose. However, given their generally low capacity, and in the case of a pump-action the extra step of having to chamber each individual shell, in a high-pressure high-adrenaline home defense scenario, things can go wrong with a pump-action you don’t want to have go wrong.
At the end of the day, however, as long as you’re using a firearm you are familiar with and have trained with, there’s really no “wrong” answer for home defense. There are of course considerations, such as whether or not the round will punch through your exterior walls and endanger a bystander. Personally, I want a light on my home defense gun, and I encourage everyone to put a light on theirs. While most home invasions occur during the day, it’s still a good idea to be prepared. Especially since anyone who works a day job spends more of their time at home when it’s dark outside than when it’s not.