Friday, March 30, 2012

Gun advice for the newbe -4

Shotguns and Rifles

First, Shotguns

Some people will wonder why I wrote my first three articles almost entirely on handguns. What about using a shotgun for home defense? Well, mostly, I don't have much experience with shotguns, though I have some experience with rifles.

There are some things I do understand fairly well though, and I will go over them in this article.

Pro's and Con's

As a home defense weapon, the shotgun has some advantages, and some disadvantages.

In general shotgun more effective than a handgun, from 10ft up to, maybe, 100 feet. Closer than 10 feet, there is too much chance of the invader getting a hand on the barrel, which because of its length, makes a good handle for the bad guy to control the weapon's aim. Beyond about 100 feet, the shot tends to lose too much energy, and spread out too much. (And that is for a 12 gauge, for smaller shotguns, the distance is less, for a 410, it is about 60 feet.).

It takes about as much familiarization training, but only about half as much range time to be proficient with a shotgun. But, since most people think all you have to do is point and shoot, training tends to get even more neglected than it does with a handgun.


Use buckshot and buckshot only.

Oh, yes, I have heard it all. Rock salt. Bird Shot. Dimes. Slugs. The first three are too lite to be effective, and the last one is too hard to aim. For home defense use buckshot, and buckshot only. Pretty much any buckshot will do, though I prefer #4, since you get more pellets, and they are just heavy enough to do the job. You will want the hottest and heaviest load your gun will take (if you have a lightweight gun) and that you can handle (if you are not too big, yourself).

Now, if will you need to deal with snakes, small animals, game animals, you will need different loads. The lightest birdshot load (commonly used for trap and skeet shooting, aka clay pigeons) will deal with even a big snake. And from twice as far as the best snakeshot load in a handgun.


Just as with a hand gun, you need to handle this weapon every three days for a couple months to insure you are familiar with its operation and to get accustomed to the weight of it in your hands. You will need to make at least two trips to the range, to get accustomed to aiming it, and the recoil it creates, when fired.


Just as with a handgun, you will need a locked container or rack to store it. Everything else I said about handgun safety, prove if it is loaded or not, do not believe in trigger locks, store in a safe, etc, all apply to a shotgun.


Rifles are generally used for long distances and/or game bigger than a human. They are generally not used for home defense, though they can be. They have some of the same problems as a shotgun, requiring a larger storage container and having the problem that a bad guy within 10 feet has a possibility of getting an hand on the barrel. In addition, walls, with the exception of brick, offer little resistance to rifle bullets. Therefore bullets, even after passing through the bad guy, will likely penetrate the outside wall of the house.

Outdoors, things are different. If you have to defend a farm or ranch, or if you are hunting any kind of game, a rifle is definitely a good weapon to have. There is simply too much variety for me to cover everything in this area, so to learn more about rifles and rifle cartridges, I suggest starting with the following readings.

Rifle Cartridges - Reader's Choice
Bullet Guide 1
Rifle Cartridges

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