Shotguns have been used for home defense for centuries in one form or another.
But the real question is, what’s the best home defense load for your shotgun? Let’s figure it out.
For a thug, nothing can be more terrifying than the sound of a pump action shotgun racking a shell into the chamber for sound deterrent? This will make even the most hardened criminals think twice. Obviously, sheer intimidation will not always solve your big problem. Well what do you feed your shotgun against your home invading foes? Well below are Remington 12 gauge shotgun shells opened up for you to see the actual payload. Impressive, isn’t it? Well, each load from size 7.5 on the left to even the mighty shotgun slug on the right has a purpose in home defense.
Birdshot is a favorite of many home defenders. At close range, the blast of these lightweight small pellets hit like a solid fist. The thug in the picture on the right caught a blast at close range. Certainly, this is a postmortem image. Now, a shotgun is called a scattergun by many for a reason. The shot fans out quickly. The fellow in the left picture caught a shotgun pellet blast at a farther distance. He is in pain, but certainly still breathing and ultimately quite angry.
Birdshot has excellent track record for up-close-and-personal with minimal penetration to household walls. If the distance is somewhat far, better think bigger, such as the smaller sized buckshot loads.
The handy size chart shows a size comparison of how these projectiles stack up against each other. All of these sizes in a pinch can be used for home defense, but personally, I would begin with nothing smaller than size 8 for close range. Number 4’s would be even better.
Remember as distances and any obstructions you might encounter get larger increase the size of your projectiles. Save the largest sizes for shooting through cover or barricades. Remember those larger projectiles will keep going and walls may not hold them. In urban settings, loads of 00 Buckshot get the job done against man and beast alike.
What about heavy shotgun slugs? Unless you are living in big bear country or have to shoot through heavy barricades save shotgun slugs for big game hunting. A thousand plus pound bear knocking down your cabin door takes more to stop than a home invader. As with hunting load for the target.
My advice to all who want to use a shotgun for home defense is to buy a selection across the different sizes of projectiles. Then, take various items, like drywall, plywood, gallon jugs of water, etc. and other materials and test what those loads do to them at the gun range if allowed.
This target practice will allow you to see how powerful your shotgun really is. Then you can make the right decision of what shotgun load will be the best pick for your own home defense situation.
Sources: Remington, Winchester, Eric Nestor
When you’re just plinking at the range, it’s no big deal to just stand and fire away, but in a self-defense situation, the very first thing you should do is move. Moving helps turn the tables on your attacker by forcing them to react to what you’re doing. It also makes you much harder to hit, should they decide to start shooting. You have two goals when making that shot while moving.
First, don’t trip. That might cause you to shoot yourself, or someone else.
Second: You want to keep as stable as possible shooting platform, so you can hit what you’re aiming at. The easiest way to do that is to act like a tank, but be a fast tank.
Another thing to think about is the use of airsoft (not covered in this video) to go head to head against someone. Play it out in scenario based such as street muggings, active shooter response, etc..
What are your thoughts on this type of training and let us know below in the comment section.
Tom McHale: When you’re just plinking at the range, it’s no big deal to just stand and fire away, but in a self-defense situation, the very first thing you should do is move. Moving helps turn the tables on your attacker by forcing them to react to what you’re doing. It also makes you much harder to hit, should they decide to start shooting. You have two goals when making that shot while moving.
First, don’t trip. That might cause you to shoot yourself, or someone else.
Second: You want to keep as stable as possible shooting platform, so you can hit what you’re aiming at. The easiest way to do that is to act like a tank. Let’s look at how to move laterally, and forward and backward, separately.
The conventional method for lateral movement has you taking a large step to the side, and then moving your other foot partway to that step. This method is safe, deliberate, and stable. And I absolutely hate it. I don’t know about you, but if someone ever starts shooting at me, I can pretty much guarantee you that my brain isn’t going to issue such unnatural commands to my hands and feet. But you’ll have to try it out for yourself, to see if it works for you.
I prefer a more natural, but still controlled movement that I’m far more likely to adopt under stress.
Using a heel-to-toe technique, you can maintain a surprisingly stable platform while moving quickly, and minimizing the risk of tripping. Basically, you’re setting your lower body in motion in the direction you want to go. Your waist has a really nifty design feature: It can rotate. So take advantage of that. While walking heel to toe, just rotate your upper body in the direction you want to shoot.
Notice I’m not crossing my feet over one-another, which might lead to tripping. I’m walking naturally, just turning my torso towards the target, like a tank turret.
To maintain stability, plant your leading heel while your trailing toe is still on the ground. If you need to move forward or backward, the same technique can get you moving quickly without a lot of bouncing up and down. If you have access to a suitable range, try a controlled heel-to-toe walk while aiming at a stationary target. Be sure to practice moving sideways, forward, and backward, since you never know what you’ll need in a real-life situation.
So remember, if you ever have to run-and-gun, move like a tank to make that shot.
The innovative LCR design has been a hit with shooters since the original Ruger LCR .38 Special +P was released in 2009. That design was optimized for concealed carry with a ﬁve-round cylinder, 1.875-inch barrel and hammerless, double-action-only trigger. Since that time Ruger (ruger.com) has expanded the line by chambering the gun in new calibers and adding new features. The LCRx model added single-action capability by introducing an exposed hammer to the available options but retained the short barrel length.
In late 2014 Ruger released the LCRx with a 3-inch barrel. This variant is again chambered in .38 Special +P with an exposed hammer that allows both double-action and single-action activation. The 3-inch tube has a full-length rib and fulllength underlug. The black rear sight is adjustable for both elevation and windage. The serrated front sight features a white square to aid in sight acquisition. The sight is pinned to the barrel and can be easily removed and replaced with one of the other front sight options available from Ruger. The package is completed with the installation of a full-size Hogue Tamer grip in place of the shorter grips on the previous models.
The rest of the gun follows the general LCR pattern: The two main structural components are the aerospace-grade aluminum frame mated to a polymer ﬁre control housing. The lock work includes a patented friction-reducing cam that eliminates stacking and reduces the perceived trigger weight. The stainless-steel cylinder is heavily ﬂuted for weight savings with a durable black Ionbond Diamondblack ﬁnish. The push-button cylinder release is in the normal Ruger location on the left side of the frame behind the cylinder.
THE BARREL UTILIZES a stainless-steel liner and aluminum shroud with a polished muzzle. The ejector rod is the same length as on the 2-inch barreled models. The one-piece grip ﬁts onto a shorter grip peg molded as part of the ﬁre control housing. The grip can be removed and replaced by unscrewing a single screw in the butt.
The ﬁrst thing I noticed about my review model was the size. While the LCR heritage is evident, this is no pocket gun. The extra inch of barrel, full-length rib, and larger sized Hogue grip add enough to the physical envelope to push it into the small side of the medium-frame revolver category.
The 3-inch barrel increased the overall length to 7.5 inches, while the full-length rib and larger Hogue grip make it taller at 5.8 inches. The LCRx 3-inch weighs 15.7 ounces. For comparison, the standard 2-inch-barreled .38 Special LCR is 6.5 inches long, 4.5 inches high, and weighs 13.5 ounces.
I had my gunsmith measure the trigger pull with a Lyman digital gauge when I picked up the revolver. This revealed a pull weight of 11.5 pounds for double-action and 7.0 pounds for single-action.
I tested the gun with a variety of .38 Special loads provided by Hornady Ammunition. This included their Critical Defense Lite 90-grain FTX load, their Critical Defense 110-grain FTX standard and +P loads, their 125-grain XTP load, and their 158-grain XTP load.
I warmed up by shooting a few rounds at a plate rack at 15 yards to give me a general feel for the double-action and single-action trigger pulls. I then ﬁred for groups at 25 yards while seated at a table with my hands resting on the LCR’s zipper bag for padding. All ﬁring here was single-action.
The best group, measured from the furthest distances of the holes, was almost exactly 2½ inches.
Interestingly, it was almost exactly the same when measured from the top- to bottom-most holes as when measured from the furthest left to the furthest right. This was the standard-pressure 158-grain FTX load.
The second best group was from the Critical Defense 110-grain standard-pressure load that printed at just over 3 inches, from furthest edge to furthest edge, with pronounced left-to-right stringing.
Unfortunately, the deliberate single-action, slow-ﬁre shooting revealed a mechanical problem that I hadn’t noticed during the more casual ﬁring at the plate rack. The hammer was noticeably more difficult to cock on one of the chambers than the others. I later consulted with a gunsmith friend who said the likely cause was due to out-of-spec machining on the lobe of the star corresponding to that chamber. (I later cleaned the revolver and the problem was still there during dry ﬁre with the clean gun.) The one bad hammer pull made the precision testing more difficult. I only got the best two groups later in the test after I identiﬁed and compensated for the issue. At ﬁrst the heavier and grittier pull on that chamber both threw off my concentration and also caused me to break my grip. This also made it impossible to determine if any particular load was more accurate in the gun. A typical “bad” group was 5 inches or so, often with one ﬂyer that messed up an otherwise good group.
IN EXCHANGE FOR THE LARGER size and weight over the ﬂagship LCR, you get a revolver that is easier and more fun to shoot. The grip is large and comfortable, the hammer is easily accessible for single-action cocking, and the longer sight radius and more visible sights help practical accuracy. The extra weight over the standard .38 Special version helps make the gun more pleasant to shoot as well. While the +P rounds had some noticeable sting, they weren’t bad, and the polymer trigger housing and generous grip soaked up the recoil of the standard-pressure rounds nicely.
The only disappointment in the design was that the gun retained the short 2-inch ejector rod of the parent models. While it’s understandable that Ruger wouldn’t want to spend the money on a dedicated 3-inch ejector rod for this model, having that full ejector rod stroke would have been a nice touch. Note that I didn’t have any problems with the shorter ejection stroke; I just prefer the longer ejector rod when possible.
The Ruger LCRx 3-inch would make an excellent choice for a lightweight trail gun, as a concealed carry gun in a belt holster, or as a home defense gun. As with most revolvers, the limited ammo capacity is an issue, but if you want a lightweight revolver that shots like a medium-frame gun, this is one to get. ASJ
Everybody has an AR because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. Besides owning a shotgun an AR is the next best thing for a home defense.
Below video highlights Richard Nance (GunsandAmmo Editor) and Dave Spaulding (Handgun Combatives) discussing tactics and techniques using an AR-15 which any lawful citizen can learn.
They talk about best ways to enter and clear a room while not extending your AR out there. But if you do there are some weapon retention methods that can be used to retain your AR. So sit back and enjoy this training session.
Speakers: Richard Nance (gunsandammo host), Dave Spaulding (HandgunCombatives.com)[gunshots]
Richard Nance: “Well Dave, it’s really no mystery why the AR15 is the preferred weapon of tactical teams. I mean you’re not going into a structure hunting a dangerous badguy with a handgun if they have access to an AR. That explains why the AR is so wildly popular now for home defense.”
Dave Spaulding: “I agree.”
RN: “But unfortunately, in home defense you need to understand some of the nuances of this weapon, because while we tend to think of close-quarters combat as say, seven yards, fifteen yards, there could be situations in your home where you’re much closer than that.”
DS: “Right, and the homeowner needs to understand that they’re not part of a tactical team.”
RN: “Exactly right.”
DS: “We made a fairly quick entry into this room, and I think the homeowner needs to understand that they need to go slow, they wanna be methodical, because one thing you don’t want to be in a hurry to do is get shot.”
RN: “Exactly. You’re gonna take as much information as you can from outside the room and everything else.”
RN: “But rather than talk about tactics, I wanna talk about the use of a longgun in a confined setting.”
RN: “So, you know, here is the typical shoulder-mount that we often use. Now, when we’re entering a room, you can imagine our muzzle is definitely going to preceed our movement into that room.”
RN: “There’s some other positions that we wanna consider using, and what we can do is: Unload these guns, use an inert training gun, and I can demonstrate some of these for you.”
DS: “I think that’s a good idea.”[Unloading]
RN: “Good there. Ok, let me come back outside the room here. And if I enter with this huge, long musket here… I mean, if you’re a badguy and you’re secreted in the corner of the room, you’re gonna shoot me. Because you know I’m behind this gun.”
RN: “If you’re unarmed, you have ample opportunity to grab hold of this, and there’s so much leverage here, you could certainly off-balance me.”
DS: “And for the viewer, I should let them know, this is a full-length M16. A car bead(?) that’s commonly used nowadays is gonna be a little shorter, but what you’re getting ready to talk about still applies.”
RN: “Exactly. So, sometimes that’s remedied by the use of a low-ready -or even like a safety-circle type position- when you enter the room. That way, the muzzle doesn’t preceed your movement into the room by much.The only problem is, if I’m coming in the room from the low-ready, and you’re there and you grab hold of the weapon, I’m kind of in a bad position here.”
DS: “Now I have the leverage. Absolutely.”
RN: “So, oftentimes people say, ‘if someone grabs my gun, I’ll just shoot them off’, well if you’re exerting pressure there, then shooting the weapon isn’t going to take care of the problem.”
DS: “Well, Rich if you go ahead and just fire a buncha rounds, this barrel’s gonna get hot, and he’s gonna let go. But what’re you firing those rounds into?”
RN: “Exactly right.”
RN: “So, I mean, you gotta be accountable for every round. Another option is to enter the room in what’s called that close-quarter hold, right? So I’m in the room like this, now if you grab hold of it, I can actually take it away from you, using what’s caled COPP. Clamp, Orient, Push, Pull. So I’m already clamped here, the muzzle’s oriented to you, but the same technique works if you grabbed it this way. Just orient the muzzle to you this way, then Push-Pull. Driving the muzzle in, and pulling back.”
DS: “The leverage is definitely yours.”
RN: “Exactly. And this is actually a firing position that we can demonstrate. So why don’t we get the live-fire guns back up, and we will demonstrate shooting at close-quarters from this close-quarter control hold,and above here like this.”
DS: “Okay, let’s do it!”
RN: “Dave, I’m gonna load this AR-15, we’re gonna go hot again just for a second. Just to live-fire some of these positions I just showed. The first is a close-quarter hold, I’m gonna clamp down here, now–”[GUNFIRE]
RN: “–Pretty dang good shots from here. This isn’t something you’re gonna do at extended range. Then you would want to have the sights, and you have the shoulder mount. Another option we showed here, and that is after I drive the muzzle into the badguy and I’m pulling it back here–”[GUNFIRE]
RN: “Get my effectiveness here, I’m not even seeing the sights. It’s similar to shooting from here with a handgun at extreme close quarters.”
RN: “Now why would I come over the shoulder? Because you have a little further length of pull there, to completely extract the muzzle from the badguy’s hands.”
DS: “Rich, that is great information, and I think what homeowners need to understand before they select the AR-15 is, it is a different gun than a handgun. That, you know, it’s like anything else. You gotta give careful consideration, you gotta select the weapon that works best for you, you gotta train with it, and then you gotta do some really solid preparation in order for it to work for you.”
RN: “Excellent point, Dave. Thanks a lot.”
Source: Richard Nance – GunsandAmmo, Dave Spaulding – Handgun Combatives
When Winchester produced its famous 1873 lever-action rifles and carbines, Colt wasted no time in chambering its single-action Army revolver in Winchester’s calibers from .44-40 down to .32-20. There are times when the quick handling and easy portability of a handgun is of paramount importance for self defense, but when faced with dire threats cowboys knew it was much better to have a repeating rifle. A handgun and longarm in the same caliber was a winner on the American frontier. From a self-defense standpoint, today’s shooters can find a practical, cost-effective, modern parallel to the 19th century Colt/Winchester pairing in Hi-Point carbines and pistols. Hi-Points are chambered in popular pistol cartridges such as .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 9mm Luger and soon .380 ACP, and the .40 S&W and .45 ACP model carbines and pistols even share a common magazine. I tested a model 995ts carbine and C9 pistol chambered in 9mm and was favorably impressed.
It is known that you can get a Colt Defender pistol and Model 6951 AR-15 type carbine in 9mm; however, this combination will cost you about $2,000. The Hi-Points I tested cost less than $500! That puts Hi-Points into a unique niche as the least expensive centerfire firearms on the market. There is a lot more to the differences between Colts and Hi-Points than price, so to narrow the focus of the discussion, I will evaluate the Hi-Points as personal home-defense firearms. In this respect, based on my testing, Hi-Points represent an exceptional value.
Be careful not to make the mistake of assuming inexpensive means poor quality. Hi-Point firearms are engineered to be inexpensive. When I disassembled them, I was struck by the clever way parts were designed to serve multiple purposes and the use of highly efficient manufacturing techniques like metal stamping, zinc alloy casting, metal injection molding, button-rifled barrels, powder coating and injection-molded plastic. The martial spirit of the highly effective Soviet PPSH-41 submachine gun and the clandestine American FP-45 Liberator pistol of World War II are channeled through the Hi-Points. All of these firearms let the ease of manufacture and effective function dictate their form.
An important consumer byproduct of the care taken in designing the Hi-Points is that the production cost of parts is so low, the firearms are warranted forever. Not just for the original owner, but every owner (the instruction sheet with older production guns may still indicate the warranty is limited to the original purchaser, but the distributor at MKS assured me that is not the case). If any of Hi-Point’s firearms has a problem, it will be repaired by the factory free of charge. From my research, they are living up to their promise, and their reputation is excellent.
If Hi-Point’s design has a negative, I believe it is the trigger pull. The one I tested initially was heavy and erratic. Sometimes it let go crisply; other times it creeped one or two times before it released the sear. This trigger spoiled a lot of groups. I think the crux of problem is that by design, each pull of the trigger is doing a lot more than just releasing the sear. When you take the gun apart you’ll see what I mean. It is what it is, but take heart! If your trigger is stiff and creepy like a zombie, I found that dry firing the action a thousand times, like I did while I watched a TV show, improved mine significantly.
The 995ts carbine is a good choice for targets from 15 to 50 yards. It is probably effective at ranges greater than 50 yards, but if you are shooting at someone that far away, it may prove difficult to make a case for self defense in court. It comes with a 10-round magazine and mine had a very handy factory two-magazine clip. This clip attached to the web of the stock allowing me to carry 30 rounds total, in and on the gun. The buttstock had a recoil-absorbing butt pad that was probably more important with the .45 ACP version than it was with the 9mm I tested. The carbine was pleasant to shoot and the military aperture sights were easy to adjust and use. This model has plenty of surprisingly rugged polymer tactical rails to mount all of your accessories and they make a nice-looking vertical foregrip and muzzle-brake, which I did not test.
The carbine used in this test had several hundred rounds through it before I formally evaluated it. I’ve been using it during our local Zombie Shooters United competitions in central Kentucky for over a year and it has never malfunctioned in competition. I do recall, when I first zeroed it for 25 yards, that the trigger pull was quite heavy. However, during my test for this story the trigger seemed a lot better.
As one would expect, ammo matters. The best of the three different loads I tested was remanufactured semi-target-grade, 124-grain, full-metal-jacket ammunition from AwesomeAmmunition.com. The average 50-yard, open-sight group from five separate five round strings was 2.25 inches, which is pretty darn good for a pistol cartridge at that range. The velocity through the carbine’s 16.5-inch barrel was 1,143 feet per second and was measured 12 feet from the muzzle.
Of the 115-grain full-metal-jacket factory ammo I tested, Winchester Target was clearly the better of the two. It was close behind Awesome Ammunition’s magic beans, with an average group size of 2.98 inches and 1,332 fps. The Winchester groups were more than an inch tighter than another popular low-cost factory ammo. This pattern of performance held for the C9 pistol too. Awesome Ammunition was the most accurate, this time a 124-grain, jacketed hollow point, followed by Winchester and the other famous brand, coming in at a distant third place.
Don’t expect the C9 pistol to shoot like a Colt Gold cup. It’s no target pistol, but it will be head-shot accurate at 7 yards and center-mass effective to 25 yards. I was able to easily put five shots through a green bean can at 7 yards with one hand after I broke in the trigger. When I bench tested at 7 yards, I found the same Winchester load I used in the carbine, printed groups averaging 1.62 inches and had a velocity of 1,104 fps. That cluster of 25 test rounds left a ragged hole in the target which you could cover with the bottom of a soda can. That’s pretty impressive for a $140 pistol. As a point of interest, I shot groups with this same load benched from 25 yards both before and after I broke in the trigger and the difference was dramatic. Breaking in the trigger shaved 2 inches off the group size, dropping it from an average of 9.74 inches to 7.75 inches.
The Hi-Points are heavy guns, but they are reliable, bargain priced, decent shooters and all American made. Without a doubt, they will be the best home-defense guns you will ever own for the money. ASJ