As a firearms and tactics trainer, I often hear, “I like a shotgun for home defense because I can just point it in the direction of the threat.” This statement is a potentially dangerous fallacy. Without knowing the pattern of your shot shell (the measurement of your shot spreads on targets), proper aiming and trigger control, you are at risk for missing your target and potentially sending a lethal shot load beyond your intended target.

To illustrate this, I conducted a shooting experiment. Utilizing my home defense shotgun with a 20-inch barrel/ improved cylinder choke, 9 pellet 00 Buckshot and proper aiming/trigger control, I engaged targets at typical home defense ranges.


At three yards, the shot pattern was approximately 1.5 inches.



At seven yards, the shot pattern was approximately 3 inches.



On close to what I believe is the maximum likely home defense distance of twelve yards, the shot pattern was approximately 4 inches.



With those minimal shot patterns, there is a good chance that the home defense minded firearms owner would miss the threat. Prior patterning, aiming, trigger control and training with your shotgun is critically important.

To make aiming easier and to give me the ability to identify a threat during low light, I equipped my home defense shotgun with a red dot sight and weapon mount light. To keep my skills up, in addition to regular range training, I routinely conduct dry fire and movement training.

Now let’s go over some of the reasons I prefer a shotgun for home defense.

  1. Stopping Power – The shotshells I used above have nine 00 buckshot pellets, which translate to approximate .33 caliber for each pellet. That shot load has a muzzle velocity of 1325 feet per second. Compare that to a common 9mm home defense round. 9mm Luger translates to approximately .35 caliber. That common 9mm home defense round has a muzzle velocity of 1135 feet per second. With a higher velocity and with a single shotgun shell deploying multiple projectiles, I think it’s hard to argue that the home defense shotgun is not very effective.
  2. Ease of Accuracy – By design, long guns, like shotguns are easier to become and maintain accuracy than handguns. Once a home defense minded firearms owner obtains the skills and knowledge of shotgun use, he/she is a formidable force against home invaders.
  3. Wide Range of Ammunition Available – With a shotgun, you can tailor your round to the threat or your personal situation. From small birdshot to 1-ounce slugs to less lethal rounds, there is round for every home defense situation.

A downside of shotguns is their limited range. However, home defense is generally, if not exclusively a close-range affair. Close range, it’s hard to beat a shotgun in the hands of a properly trained home defense minded firearms owner. TTC offers comprehensive defensive shotgun training from beginner to advanced levels.  Check out our calendar for the next available course.