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Thread: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

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    Member Bullgator's Avatar
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    Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Why is it everyone seems to recommend a pump action shotgun for home defense? Is there something inherently unreliable about auto loaders? We are trusting of auto handguns and carbines, why not shotguns?

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    Senior Member Teach's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    The malfunction drill on an autoloading shotgun should probably include a prepaid funeral policy. Most jammed pumps respond to a vigorous thump of the buttstock on the ground while holding the action release tripped. I don't think I'd want to bet my life even on the admittedly remote possibility of an auto shotgun choking on a shell.
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    Senior Member tennmike's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Nothing inherently wrong with an auto loading shot gun for HD. But, you gotta admit that the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 pump shotguns are the 'Barbie Dolls' of HD for the same reason the AR 15 is so popular. You can accessorize the pumps in all kinds of configurations because they have been popular choices for ages, the aftermarket is loaded with cool stuff for the pumps, and the police have proven their effectiveness, too. That' my take on it, anyway.
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    Senior Member NCFUBAR's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    The right one is not a bad choice. It just better be one that is proven reliable. I use to have a Benelli (H&K) M1 Super 90 Tactical for HD never needed it and loved to mess with it for fun. It never had a failure w/ birdshot to buck. I would still bet on it, I just happen to move on to a HD carbine.
    Once is an accident, Twice may be a coincidence ... Three Times is enemy action.

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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    One of the cool things about a shotgun shell is the space potential - you can fill that space with any conceivable variation of powder, shot, and wad. Add more of one and one or both of the other two will need to decrease. These combinations can be tweaked to make anything from loads that might kill a field mouse at point blank range, to "no more for me, thanks - I'm drivin'"

    You give up a certain amount of that ammo versatility with an autoloader. A pump will run with ANYTHING that is packed into a shell of the correct length, where an autoloader will only run with stuff that's in it's "happy" pressure / recoil zone. It's not that autos are necessarily less reliable, but they are more susceptible to the human error of loading rounds the gun won't like. Just make sure you wring the gun out thoroughly with the ammo you plan to go to war with.
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    One of the cool things about a shotgun shell is the space potential - you can fill that space with any conceivable variation of powder, shot, and wad. Add more of one and one or both of the other two will need to decrease. These combinations can be tweaked to make anything from loads that might kill a field mouse at point blank range, to "no more for me, thanks - I'm drivin'"

    You give up a certain amount of that ammo versatility with an autoloader. A pump will run with ANYTHING that is packed into a shell of the correct length, where an autoloader will only run with stuff that's in it's "happy" pressure / recoil zone. It's not that autos are necessarily less reliable, but they are more susceptible to the human error of loading rounds the gun won't like. Just make sure you wring the gun out thoroughly with the ammo you plan to go to war with.
    I would never feel undergunned at all with my Benelli M1 S90 or SBE if I had to take either one into a gunfight. The secret is what was written above. Stoke either with a 3" magnum waterfowl load and you are gonna ruin someone's day. They don't fail when it is -10 and blowing snow, I am sure they won't fail between the bedroom and living room. Would either be my first choice? NO . But, without a doubt, either would get the job down with extreme prejudice.
    Last edited by ericb; 07-06-2011 at 03:36 AM.

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    Moderator Jayhawker's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Over the years I have had several shotgun that stood bedside duty...an M1 S90, a Remington 1100, an 11-87...never had any reliability issues with any of them...however, my old 870 trumps all of them...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"

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    Senior Member SirGeorgeKillian's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    My bedside gun is a Mossberg 930 with a 18.5" barrel. It has yet to let me down even after being submerged in brackish water while it was 18 degrees. That was the same morning my buddies super nova failed.
    This gun has proven its self to me. There are others I wouldn't do anything but shoot skeet with. Auto loaders have came a long way.
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawker View Post
    ...however, my old 870 trumps all of them...
    Hey Jayhawker, care to share your reasons here? Inquiring minds want to know...

    Pump shotguns generally cost far less than a comparable-quailty auto (which is a BIG factor for a lot of folks, myself included). When you cut corners on your auto to get down to a price comparable to the pump, you run into the ammo sensitivity issue and find the cheaper auto will be more finicky on how clean it's kept.

    The state-of-the-art in autoloading shotguns has come a long way, even in the last twenty years, but it speaks volumes to me that most law-enforcement agencies still equip their officers with the tried and proven pump-action over the new breed of semi-autos for reasons that make sense to a large majority of private defensive shotgun buyers, despite trading out wholesale from revolvers to pistols for sidearm use. Ease of operation, ease of service and repair, adaptability through aftermarket equipment, and unit cost all play a factor, I'm sure.

  10. #10

    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    The wifes shotgun is an auto. Helps to reduce recoil.

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    Senior Member Eli's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    My experience has been pretty opposite of "standard".

    The only shotgun that I've ever owned that failed consistently was my 870 express. The action was smooth as butter, until you fired it, then it locked up tighter than a bank vault. On a few occasions, it took holding down the pump release and beating on the forearm itself with a rubber mallet before it would open. I put fifty rounds through it, and it locked up on literally all fifty rounds.

    My Benelli/HK M1 Super 90 on the other hand, has been going strong for the last ten years. It's fed anything I've put through it, from wal-mart bulk birdshot, to 1 3/8 oz. Brenneke slugs. I haven't run any of the new low recoil buck shot through it, but I think it would probably do okay with that as well.

    You can guess which one gets my vote for a bedside scatter gun.
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    Moderator Jayhawker's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by gunrunner428 View Post
    Hey Jayhawker, care to share your reasons here? Inquiring minds want to know...
    My bedside 870 is an old Wingmaster with an 18 1/2" barrel with an extended mag and a plain old bead sight...it's plain and simple and anyone in the house can make it work with a minimum of familiarization. My autos were always double duty guns...comp guns, turkey guns, coyote guns that might or might not be there.
    The 870 has one use and one use only, to stand ready to defend my home....
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eli View Post
    My experience has been pretty opposite of "standard".

    The only shotgun that I've ever owned that failed consistently was my 870 express. The action was smooth as butter, until you fired it, then it locked up tighter than a bank vault. On a few occasions, it took holding down the pump release and beating on the forearm itself with a rubber mallet before it would open. I put fifty rounds through it, and it locked up on literally all fifty rounds.
    That don't sound like you're having a failure, it's sounds like you've got a major malfunction, from the get-go.
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  14. #14

    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by olesniper View Post
    That don't sound like you're having a failure, it's sounds like you've got a major malfunction, from the get-go.
    I'd agree with Olesniper on that one. There was an inherent failure with that particular gun. The only time I've had my 870 bind was using Winchester Super Speed, and that garbage will jam anything. That was more the fired shell expanding in the chamber and holding up the action. Poor materials used in those rounds.

    Oh, and yes, my 870 Talo sits by the bed watching over us.
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    Senior Member Jeeper's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullgator View Post
    Why is it everyone seems to recommend a pump action shotgun for home defense? Is there something inherently unreliable about auto loaders? We are trusting of auto handguns and carbines, why not shotguns?
    You just need to make sure that your autoloader is going to be reliable with whatever you're going to load it with. I have an old 1100 that I would bet my next paycheck is at LEAST as reliable as any pump you can dig up with any brand of reliable 2 3/4" ammo. I guarantee that I can smoke off 4 shells faster and more accurately with it than you can with whatever brand of pump you care to choose. I would have NO problem recommending a quality semi-auto shotgun for home defense.

    Luis

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    Senior Member JasonMPD's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    1. You are going to purchase something; so determine your budget. Less than $1000 or greater than $1000. More on that in a second.
    2. Dedicated SD/HD shotgun or something you can sport with as well, say, hog hunting? A lot of folks don't like a single-function gun. But with an SD/HD piece, prepare for that. It is what it is--an insurance policy. But, never consider a bird gun for SD/HD. But, I don't see anyone making that misconception here.
    3. Pump or auto--the debate of the thread:

    You have to train - regardless of which you choose - or you will fumble with failures of action. I emphasize this to folks all the time, but it's rarely taken to heart. Running a shotgun in a truely defensive (read: offensive life-saving measures) manner is like flying a helicopter with one bad foot and a hook for a right hand. Train. Please. That is my preface.

    With a semi-auto, you have to consider recoil with follow-up shots. On a pump gun, the recoil is done and over with by the time you cycle to the next round. With a semi-auto, on the other hand, there can be no pause between shots if fired rapidly enough. An inexperienced shotgunner with a semi-auto can easily get muzzle-high in three rounds fired rapidly without experience in dealing with it. Even with hunting semi-autos, you do not fire as quickly as you likely will feel the need to in a SD/HD situation. When I duck hunt, I am looking at one shot per second at the quickest. In SD/HD scenarios three per second may occur. Just something to consider.

    Reloads with a semi-auto are pretty much the same as with a pump, the exception being a bolt release button rather than pushing the foregrip forward on a pump. I would recommend an enlarged button release on a semi-auto.

    With a pump, the biggest hurdle is training yourself to cycle the darn thing under stress. People just plain forget to do it and pull the trigger twice as if it were semi-auto. And a semi-suto locks back when its empty, a pump won't. But no worries, the time wasted in running a pump home on an empty chamber, hearing the click with no bang and yanking it open to begin the reload is fairly negligible. Besides, SD/HD shotguns typically have 6+1 magazines, so if it ain't done in 7 rounds from 12 feet away, you won't survive the reload of a semi or a pump.

    The greater than or less than $1000 thing is this. Even if you find a pump on sale for about $450 with decent ghost rings already on it, you still need to invest in a GOOD sling, a light (possibly) and copius amounts of ammunition to train with that will easily breech the $1000 threshold when all said and done.

    A shotgun is a hell of a tool for sure. Lots of hurt, real fast.

    -Jason
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Like some one said in a different post some time ago, If you shoot anything long enough you will most likely experience a " Jamb " (just kidding guys), jam. I bought my first 870 back in 1978, I have used it pretty much every hunting season sense. They are great guns but I have had it let me down or jam on more than one occasion. It was my fault but it still was a jam.They happened when I was trying to shoot very fast trying to get a triple on dove, that could be the case with a bad guy coming at you. I short stroked it and if I recall I ended up with one empty in the chamber and two jammed in the receiver under the reloading gate and if I recall I had to take the barrel off to clear it, you cant say time out to a bad guy. I think if I had to chose I would chose the Benelli Tactical, But like someone also said you have to practice and make sure that it all works with said ammo,practice,practice,clean it, ect,ect.When someone is trying
    to kill you, your most likely going to be in a rush,I know I am when I shoot birds, That's just my opinion
    Last edited by randymac; 07-09-2011 at 08:28 PM.

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    Senior Member cpj's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonMPD View Post

    The greater than or less than $1000 thing is this. Even if you find a pump on sale for about $450 with decent ghost rings already on it, you still need to invest in a GOOD sling, a light (possibly) and copius amounts of ammunition to train with that will easily breech the $1000 threshold when all said and done.



    -Jason
    So in other words, you will also be adding 550 bucks to the price of an auto loader as well.

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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Yup. . .cost can be a factor in selection as well.

    There are exceptions, but the typical "sexy" combat autoloaders can approach and exceed a thousand bucks. That's a thousand bucks for a sub-100 yard weapon. . .that isn't rifled. . . that may have ammo-type sensitivity issues. . .that you'll probably have to give up as evidence if you ever have to use it.

    GOOD pump guns can be found for $200 bucks, GREAT ones for not a whole lot more.

    While there are obvious benefits to a self-cycling action, one has to ask whether it's worth the added cost and potential drawbacks. If you can comfortably absorb the $1500 expense of a Benelli M4, good on you, but how many things can a plain Mossberg 500 not do as well?
    WWJMBD?

    Ok, so .277 is the number of The Beast. This makes The Beast. . .what. . .a chihuahua?

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    Senior Member JasonMPD's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpj View Post
    So in other words, you will also be adding 550 bucks to the price of an auto loader as well.
    Yeah. I was using the least expensive possibility to illustrate the costs that can soar. But, I don't shoot cheap, unfortunately. Others may get away with less, but I like to shoot on top of the fact I like training with guns I own.
    "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." -Ronald Reagan on the economic philosophy of big government.

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    Member Bullgator's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    What about the Saiga 12? I don't know much about them. Are they considered reliable?

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    Senior Member NN's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    If it is relialbe, any shotgun will work; no matter what the action.
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    Senior Member snake284's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    As Teach says, I don't think I want to bet my life on one either. They are great for claybird shooting and bird and waterfowl hunting, but when it comes to facing down the BGs I want something that is as close to 100% as possible and that isn't an auto loader shot gun. Of course all of our US battle rifles of recent past and of present are auto loading and most are full auto. But there seems to be something about a shotgun that scares me.
    I think it was their track record I saw when I was growing up. Most people called them jama matics back then.
    Last edited by snake284; 07-11-2011 at 04:15 AM.

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    Senior Member Jeeper's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    Quote Originally Posted by snake284 View Post
    As Teach says, I don't think I want to bet my life on one either. They are great for claybird shooting and bird and waterfowl hunting, but when it comes to facing down the BGs I want something that is as close to 100% as possible and that isn't an auto loader shot gun. Of course all of our US battle rifles of recent past and of present are auto loading and most are full auto. But there seems to be something about a shotgun that scares me.
    I think it was their track record I saw when I was growing up. Most people called them jama matics back then.
    I'll disagree with that. My old Remington 1100 has fired THOUSANDS of rounds without a single failure. I keep it relatively clean, but still.... the performance record is flawless. Definitely better than most will be able to do with a pump that they aren't experts with.

    I wouldn't hesitate to run any full power load through it for defense. The only time I've EVER had it fail to feed was with some of those ultra-light (AA? or AAA? forget what they were called) target loads for clay. Any standard 2 3/4" load has always worked with no issues... whether it was low brass #7 1/2 birdshot, or magnum #4 buck, 00 buck, or slugs.

    Cost comparison.... what's a used 1100 go for these days? $400? Surely not more than that. Add $100 for another barrel, and you're in business for not much more than most new pumps.

    Luis

    ps. just checked Gunbroker.... PLENTY of 1100's for $300ish.

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    Senior Member Nomadac's Avatar
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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    I have a Winchester 1200 Defender Pump 18"bbl. 7 rd. capacity that I used for HD. I also have a Benelli M1 Field 21" bbl. 4 rd. capacity that I would not hesitate to use for HD, but since my Defender offers 3+ rds. this is my primary choice. Benelli's are known for reliability and this has been my experience, having watched trick shooting using a Benelli in the past.

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    Re: Auto Shotgun for Home Defense?

    I use a Winchester 1300 pump myself. Absolutely reliable, easy to accessorize, disassemble, and clean, and only cost $289. I recently added an adjustable pistol-grip stock, which has increased my speed in raising from low-ready to firing by 2 seconds (shorter pull). I figure that was enough of a reason for the switch. I don't have any real experience with an auto loading shotgun, so that's the limit of my input.
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