Points on the Fighting Shotgun

Gabe Suarez provides some excellent points on setting up a shotgun for home defense.

From: http://www.warriortalk.com/showthread.php?7479-The-Fighting-Shotgun

The Fighting Shotgun

I was asked by a number of readers to update them about the shotgun. They were asking about lights and magazine extensions and other attachments. Recently some other trainers were posting a great deal of material at “another” forum, and they gave all manner of must have suggestions. Rubish! I suspect many will disagree with my views on the combat use of the shotgun, but that has never stopped me before.

Let me begin by saying that I have used these fine implements against live fighting adversaries several times. Moreover, I received the classic training in this weapon at the academy which birthed the “modern technique” of the shotgun.

Training and reality sometimes conflict.

I have three shotguns at home. One is a Remington 870. Another is a Remington 11-87. A third one, a vintage side-by-side exposed hammer shotgun with many “rustlers” to its credit.

None have Ghost Ring Sights, Sidesaddles, Speedfeed stocks, Specially Ported or Choked barrells of ANY kind. They are light, simple, fast into action, and all of them are more than sufficient for any anti-personnel duties.

Things You Need:
A fast handling lightweight weapon that you can get into action very quickly, and that has at least 5 shots available.

Nice To Have – But Not Essential:
A Light: Many fights happen in low light. Having a flashlight mount makes sense. Its not essential as in most situations, there will be sufficient ambient light to tell what is going on and who is doing it at CQB-CRG distances. For those times when there is not, a light will help.

A Magazine Extension: Some guys like these so they can download it by a couple of rounds to transition to slugs. This is silly. Who wants to go to a gunfight with a weapon not loaded to full capacity. Not me. The load/switch to slug concept may have merit, but its use is so limited that I would much rather have an extra round of buckshot.

A Sling: For class its essential. For fighting its a nice-to-have item in the event you need to transition to pistol (much more likely than transitioning to slug).

Things You Do Not Need:
Ghost Ring Sights: In my opinion, the shotgun is NOT a rifle, nor should it be turned into one. The idea that you must somehow be able to reach out past CQB distances with a shotgun is a silly idea. Even the much discussed North Hollywood Bank Robbery involved shots within pistol range, and not way out there in rifle land.

Sidesaddles/Butt Cuffs: Many use these for slug switching. We’ve discussed that already. If your gun holds 7 or 8 shots and you need more than that, tactical withdrawl may be a better bet than anything else. How many shots are fired in pistol fights? It will be the same in shotgun fights. Sidesaddles make the gun heavy. Add a butt cuff in addition to the sidesaddle and it become heavier yet. Will you have lots of ammo? Sure. Will you be able to shoot and hit as accurately with a light fast gun or an overweight gun? I think you know the light fast gun will allow you better likelihood of NOT NEEDING a reload.

Want extra ammo? Ok, get a belly bag with two compartments. Fill one with buck shot and the other with slugs. Keep that with the shotgun and take it when you grab the shotgun. Its not as sexy as a sidesaddle and no elite bitchin guy SWAT dudes use it, but it makes more sense than a weapon you can’t even bench press.

Ports/Choking, Special Barrels: Close Range shooting boys. Any shotgun barrell with any ammo will do just fine inside of 7 yards. At 15 yards it will open up slightly, but 15 yard shots are rare.

Other Points –

If you need a rifle, the shotgun is a poor substitute. A CAR15, or even a Marlin 30-30 will outshoot a slug loaded shotgun everytime. So grabbing a shotgun to do rifle duty is not a wise thing unless you are a cop whose administration does not trust its employees enough to give them rifles, and all you have and will ever have is a shotgun.

Slug loading has its place in a special situation, such as when you anticipate “contacts” in a car. I have a group of friends who routinely have such contacts and they load with slugs to penetrate through vehicles at close range. Same goes for guys who frequent bear country. A shotgun with slugs is good bear medeicine…or so I’m told. Both situations are rather close range deals, and not anything like what some so-called gunfighting schools are teaching.

What can a slug loaded shotgun do? It can reach a little farther and penetrate a little more than a buckshot loaded gun, or a pistol can do. A rifle will do better everytime. What can a buckshot loaded shotgun do? It can hit the adversary with something, even under bad conditions where your marksmanship has not kept up with the tempo of events in the mid to outer close range gunfighting zone. It is a weapon to be used at handgun distances against rapidly moving adversaries while you yourself are moving, where you cannot obtain (or don’t have time to obtain) a suitable sight picture, and where the light is poor.


1). Shooting a running adversary while you are also on the run in the dark – Distance 20 yards.

2). Multiple adversaries suddenly appearing in unison, again attempting to fire at you – Distance 3-5 yards.

Partial patterns will give you a hit, slugs or overly choked patterns may allow you to miss. Will thos epellets that don’t hit the bad guy be a problem? Possibly. But if you miss with the slug because of the rapidly developing situation it won’t matter either.

For CQB/CRG distances (within 5 yards) buckshot will outperform slugs every day of the week. Knowing that IF I grab a shotgun and go fight with it, it will be used in this situation more often than not, my round of choice is buckshot. I relegate slugs to “special purpose” applications. If I need a rifle, I’ll go get a rifle.

While on the topic of buckshot: The ability to scallop a target standing behind a “hostage”. I suggest a long deep inhale to smell the coffee. Then grab you best most expensive Tactical Shotgun with all the attachjments on it that the “cool” Gun Magazine Guys use. You know, the one with the famous shooting school logo on the stock and engraved so fetchingly on the receiver. Load it with the most expensive tactical gold-plated buckshot you can find and then stand off at 7, 10, or even 15 yards (whatever the shotgun school qual says).

Then place your daughter in front of that evil silohuette target. Still willing to take the shot? Some tactical cool guys will answer in the affirmitive. Then DO IT I say. Most of these guys have never fired a shot at a real human being before much less at a hostage past the ear of an innocent…with a shotgun much less. Fantasy always loses out to reality.

Technical exercises devised by clever minds on the firing range often fail to emulate reality. We’ve learned a great deal about CQB pistol fighting in the last few years simply by allowing ourselves to leave the doctrinal box. Perhaps its time we slay the sacred cow shotgun myth as well. Prove everything you train to yourself in force on force. If a technique cannot be replicated against real people, get rid of it.

Train for skill and attribute development, not to beat some silly shooting test, or some bobbing/weaving target dressed up in old clothes.

1). Know tactical advantage and Liabilities of Shotgun and their ammunition
2). Develop sound Firing Positions, Ready Positions as well as Ready Carry positions
3). Learn Reality based Marksmanship that takes advantage of the standard shotgun pattern
4). Learn tactically appropriate Gunhandling Drills & Transition to Pistol if suitable.
5). Learn CQB Responses to any point along a 360 arm’s length to 7 yards. Its important to focus on fast close shooting because this is where you will use the weapon, not at the mythical rifle ranges some schools are suggesting..
6). Learn the ability to retain/recover/and fight with the weapon in body to body fight (including alternative force issues)
7). Learn Shooting in diminished light and the use of assisted lighting, as well as the use of Tactical Point Shooting.
8). Learn Shooting on the Move (in anything but firing from ambush you must move or get hit).
9). Learn Reality based Multiple adversary responses (not simply shooting at five pepper poppers).
10). Learn YOUR natural body speed and shoot as fast as YOU can guarantee the hits (not on how fast some “master” shot with his souped up Benelli back in 1990).

Develop these attributes and you will do well with your shotgun in any fight. The funny thing is that it doesn’t take 5 days in the desert at a special school nor $1000 to teach you this material. Progressive/Reality-Based trainers can do it for a fraction of the cost in one weekend class. Isn’t progress wonderful?!

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Posted in Home Defense, Shotguns

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