When Robert and I first started writing this blog, we specifically wrote that we reserved the right to change our minds based on new experiences and evolution of thought. Well, this past year, I’ve experienced just such an evolution of thought, and I wanted to explain it here. A little over three years ago, I wrote about what I considered to be the ideal minimalist three gun battery for defensive purposes. I still largely believe in what I wrote then, but recently, I’ve found it necessary to change the specific lineup of that battery of weapons.
In that article, I suggested that new gun owners who were interested in self-defense should buy a pistol, an AR-15, and a firearm chambered for .22 long rifle, in that order. I also argued against the inclusion of the shotgun, due to its relatively narrow niche. This year, I changed my mind about that. As I write this, if I had to defend my home with any warning at all, I would retrieve a Remington 870P short barrel shotgun from the quick access safe in my bedroom closet. While the niche of the shotgun is indeed relatively narrow, within that niche, it is almost unequivocal. Within the confines of my home, it is now my first choice.
Thus, I’ve been forced to revise my suggested three gun battery to now include a pistol, an AR-15, and… a shotgun. I don’t much think it matters these days whether it’s a pump action or semi, but get a good one that’s tailored for the task at hand. By way of example, my 870P is specifically set up for home defense. I could certainly use my Beretta A300 Outlander to defend my home, but that’s not what it’s for. That gun is far better suited for hunting and breaking clays than it is for stopping a home invasion. As opposed to the full length stock, long barrel, bead sight, and magazine plug to limit capacity that my Beretta features, my Remington has a short MagPul stock, a short barrel that falls under the purview of the NFA, rifle sights, and an extended magazine tube that increases capacity. Both are shotguns capable of firing the same 12 gauge shell, but their purpose and design are quite disparate.
So why did I change my mind? First, I attended Tom Givens’ shotgun specific block of instruction at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference. That was the spark that prompted me to acquire my 870P SBS. At some point, I read this book. The authors make a convincing case for the 12 gauge, although I chose a different brand shotgun than suggested. I also observed Darryl Bolke’s “Offensive Shotgun” class at the 2018 Tactical Conference. Finally, I took a one day shotgun class with Tom Givens earlier this year.
To further explain my evolution of thought, one of the salient points that I took away from training with Bill Rapier was his philosophy of, “Does it make sense? Does it work better than what I’m currently doing? Is it worth spending a significant amount of time to retrain myself?”
- Does the shotgun make sense for home defense? In my mind, absolutely! Darryl Bolke has frequently pointed out that within pistol ranges, the shotgun is king.
- Does the shotgun work better? Again, yes. There is no doubt in my mind that within the confines of my home, a single round of buckshot is far more effective than either a single pistol bullet or even a single rifle bullet. Tom Givens describes this as “servings.” When wielded with skill and precision, the shotgun can deliver eight or nine projectiles on target with one shot. To quote Paul Howe, “You can’t sew up hamburger.”
- Finally, is the shotgun worth spending a significant amount of time to retrain myself? This is a question with definite merit and worth considering. As Tom Givens points out in class, the shotgun is a weapon with a significantly dissimilar manual of arms. If you’re going to rely on a shotgun for home defense, you really need to learn how to run it effectively in a formal class setting and pattern it with your choice of ammunition. Both Rob and I have spent significant time and money this year doing exactly that, as has been documented on the blog. I still need to train more. But for me, the answer to this last question is again, yes. Learning to wield the shotgun effectively is worth it, for all the reasons outlined above.
So there you have it. My revised three gun battery for defensive purposes. Inside the home, the shotgun is brutally effective. Outside the home, the pistol is easily carried and concealed. For times of civil unrest or more distant threats outside of the home but still within the curtilage of property, the rifle is the ideal choice. I suggest that you obtain and study examples of all three.
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