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Are Shotguns Good for Home Defense?

Are Shotguns Good for Home Defense?

Libertarian Country |

Yes, shotguns are great for home defense. They are affordable, effective and easy to learn how to use.

While the debate rages on about the best gun for home defense, many Americans use a shotgun to protect their homes, families and property.

This article will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using a shotgun for home defense.


The Advantages of Using a Shotgun for Home Defense


They're inexpensive

While some shotguns can bear the hefty price tag of thousands of dollars, many good, sturdy pump-action 12-gauge shotguns are only a few hundred dollars. For Americans on a budget, the shotgun is an excellent choice for providing effective home defense without breaking the bank.

Aim forgiveness

A popular misconception about the shotgun is that it doesn't need to be aimed to hit a target. That is false. Knowing how to shoot your shotgun and becoming comfortable using it is essential.

However, in a tense situation like responding to a home invasion, a homeowner doesn't need to be Annie Oakley or a Green Beret to subdue an attacker, provided they use a spray load like 00 buckshot. Because double-aught buckshot fires eight lead pellets instead of one projectile, a shotgun can offer more aim forgiveness than a pistol, making it a great home defense weapon.

Load versatility

A 12-gauge shotgun, like many other guns, can hold different types of rounds, ranging from rock salt rounds to slugs. A shotgun round can also combine slugs and pellets, like the Winchester PDX1 Defender, which contains a 1oz rifled slug and three plated 00 buckshot pellets.

Different types of 12-gauge ammunition can be loaded into a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun. For example, some homeowners like to load their first round with a rock salt load. Rocksalt loads fire pellets of salt (and sometimes pepper), which can stun an invader but is less likely to cause significant bodily harm or fatality.

Behind the rock salt load, the homeowner has loaded 00 buckshot. If the invader retreats or surrenders, the homeowner chooses not to fire the second round. If the invader continues to advance, the homeowner will discharge the buckshot round, which is more likely to cause significant bodily harm or fatality. The shotgun can simultaneously be loaded with 'less lethal' and 'more lethal' rounds.

While many firearms have the capability of loading 'less lethal' rounds, the versatility and effectiveness of the shotgun are preferred by many Americans.


A pump-action shotgun is relatively easy to learn how to use and shoot. While many guns have some risk of jamming, proper technique, quality rounds, and proper inspection and maintenance will keep your shotgun working well.


The incredible power of a single 12-gauge or 10-gauge shotgun shell is typically enough force to incapacitate an attacker. In contrast, pistols like the 9mm often require firing multiple rounds to stop a dedicated assailant. Of course, this depends on several things, including the shooter's aiming ability and the size and strength of the attacker.

The shotgun is among the most powerful domestically used firearms. When used properly, the shotgun is a great home defense weapon, respected by homeowners and criminals alike. This brings us to our last point.


While this may be subjective, the reputation of the shotgun is known far and wide. It's a beast of a gun. Hollywood and cinematic portrayals of the shotgun make this weapon feared by many criminals. Art imitates life. The shotgun lives up to its reputation. The sound of a shotgun cocking is often enough to send an invader running in the opposite direction.

These are some advantages of a shotgun, a time-tested home defense weapon many Americans prefer. But they're not for everyone. Now let's explore the disadvantages of using a shotgun for home defense.


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The Disadvantages of Using a Shotgun for Home Defense


While some premium models are lighter, have softer recoil and are easier to handle, a shotgun is a heavy and bulky weapon. It can pose a challenge in hallways and the tight quarters of many homes. It usually takes more time to retrieve and arm yourself with a shotgun than a pistol. The heavier, bulkier design may also be challenging for smaller or less physically able homeowners, such as the disabled. For these reasons, some homeowners choose to use handguns rather than shotguns.

Two-handed use

While some gun owners tout that they can fire a shotgun with one hand, handling a shotgun this way is not recommended. Two hands are required for proper use, which can present a challenge to some homeowners.

For example, some homeowners do not intend to shoot burglars for personal, moral or ethical reasons. They want to leverage the weapon to their advantage without discharging it.

The news once featured video footage of a woman, home alone with her two children, responding to a home invasion (in broad daylight). Armed with a pistol, she led the invader to the garage. She then directed him to sit with his hands on his head until the police arrived, having a free hand to call 911 on her cell phone. She wouldn't have been able to easily do that with a shotgun that requires two-hand use. 

When choosing a weapon for home defense, it's essential to consider all advantages and disadvantages unique to your situation.

Expensive ammunition

A person can train with a .22 revolver at the range, shooting the gun for hours without spending much. .22 caliber bullets are inexpensive and easy to find. Shotgun shells, particularly double-aught buckshot and slugs, are expensive and sometimes in short supply. Many indoor ranges will not allow less expensive rounds like birdshot in the lane. Training and becoming proficient with your shotgun will cost some money. When tallying up the cost of owning and training with a firearm, it's important to consider ammunition costs and the cost of the gun.



Shotguns have disadvantages and may not be for everyone, but overall they are excellent weapons for home defense, offering functionality, versatility and power.

If you're inexperienced with firearms, obtaining coaching and proper training before storing or using any guns in your home for self-defense is highly recommended and imperative.

Many gun ranges offer teaching sessions and have personal trainers for new or inexperienced gun owners. Friends and family are generally excited to teach new users how to properly handle and store firearms, which can be a great, comfortable way to learn valuable gun operation skills.


Thank you for reading! When you head to the gun range, make sure you're wearing one of our awesome gun shirts!

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