Shotguns vs Handguns for home defense: Which is the better fit?

The guns that were put head to head were a Remington 870 12 gauge and a Makarov PM in 9x18mm. (Photo: David LaPell)
If you were to ask five different self defense instructors about what weapon you should use in your home for personal defense, you’ll likely get five different answers. You can bet though that one will most likely recommend a shotgun and another a handgun, but of the two which is better for you and your needs?


The shotgun has been touted as a defensive weapon of sometimes mythological proportions and, while it is formidable, the shotgun has drawbacks. This is something every shooter, no matter how experienced, needs to know.
First of all, a shotgun is not a magic wand, dispatching evil by merely pointing it in the direction of the bad guy. Shotguns with defensive loads like buckshot really do not cover a large area, only a few inches at 7 to 10 yards with a short barrel and improved cylinder choke. This is hardly the wall covering shot pattern a typical Hollywood film depicts. And no, it won’t send someone flying through the air either.
What a shotgun does do however is deliver in a single load of buckshot, no matter if it is 00 or #4 buckshot, much contains more lead and projectiles than any single handgun round can deliver. Depending on the size of the buckshot load you’re using, you can deliver anywhere from eight to 27 pellets or more on target in one shot. The shotgun is a fight stopper and it can do this very quickly.

Nine pellets of 00 buckshot, delivered in one round, compared to nine rounds of 9x18mm, delivered consecutively. (Photo: David LaPell)
If you’re worried about the recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun being too punishing, don’t overlook the 20 gauge or even in some cases, a .410 option. Many of the same models that are popular in 12 gauge like the Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500 can be found chambered for smaller rounds and, when loaded with buckshot, these are still more powerful round-for-round than any handgun. (TAC-6 suggests sticking with the 12 gauge. Fear not the recoil. This can be mitigated by using tactical low recoil buckshot such as Federal with Flite Control. Excellent ammunition.)
When it comes to the specifics, a personal defense shotgun should have a short barrel, 20 inches or less. It may also be a good idea to install an extended magazine, but that’s really not necessary. Of course pump shotguns are the most common, but there are reliable semi-autos these days too. If you don’t mind the limitations, even a side by side coach gun is nothing to sneeze at. Also, don’t ignore the single barrel, single shot shotguns in your home defense plan. These can be a cost effective option for around only a $100 or more. (Encoutering multiple threats such as a home invasion is a valid reality. TAC-6 suggests as a force multiplier, its shotgun side saddle which you can get HERE.)


So now we come to handguns. If you think that they are easier to shoot compared to a shotgun, well, they are and they definitely are not. Sure the average handgun in 9mm or even a .45 ACP doesn’t have the shoulder thwacking recoil of a shotgun. But what it does have is a shorter sight radius which requires serious practice to be able to shoot well.  Practice is the word with any handgun.
Where the handgun outshines the shotgun for personal defense in the home is that when it comes to movement. Moving around an enclosed area like a hallway is a lot easier with a handgun than with a shotgun with its longer barrel and size. Also remember that a long barrel is something a bad guy can grab, if you’re unlucky. (TAC-6 input: Simple training tactics within one's home can greatly increase movement with a shotgun and this is encouraged. Sample techniques of using a long gun in a confined space )

If you did decide to choose a handgun for the defense of your home, you could do a lot worse than picking a Makarov PM which are known for their reliability and accuracy. (Photo: David LaPell)
Having a handgun also means, in most cases, more ammo capacity and likely more spare magazines or loaders on your person. When it comes to speed, reloading a semi auto pistol beats any shotgun. Loading rounds into a tube will seem like an eternity when you’re in a rush versus simply swapping out the magazine of a pistol or even a speedloader of a double action revolver if you practice enough.


I decided to take my Remington 870 and my Makarov PM, my favorite carry gun in warm weather, to the range to see how they fared against one another. I started at the 7-yard line. I loaded the Remington 870 with a 2.75 inch round of nine pellet 00 buckshot and the Makarov a full magazine of eight rounds and one in the chamber. This gave me nine rounds from a handgun against nine pellets of buckshot.
The groups were fairly close, much closer than one might expect, but the thing to remember is that I delivered all of those pellets from the shotgun at once, while the Makarov was a rapid and steady fire affair but it still took several seconds. The 9x18mm Makarov round is on par with .380 and is a mild round compared to .40 S&W and .45 ACP, so I’m apt to think that a group from a stouter round would be larger compared to the shotgun.
At 7 yards the load of 00 buckshot grouped tighter than a magazine worth of rounds from the Makarov PM. (Photo: David LaPell)
I then brought the shotgun and the Makarov back to the 15-yard line. The two groups started began spreading out at this distance with the 00 buckshot really opening up but still keeping all the pellets within a radius of 12 inches. I fired the Makarov at the same brisk pace I kept at the 7-yard line. The nine round were still fairly closely grouped. Again, keep in mind that the Makarov is a fairly pleasant shooting pistol with low recoil due to its all steel frame and mild caliber.
The point of the exercise was to see what both guns could do at similar ranges. The first verdict is you can do more with one well placed round of buckshot faster than you can empty the magazine or cylinder of a handgun. The second verdict is that a handgun, with skill acquired through practice, can be effective at the same practical ranges as a shotgun inside a home.
At 15 yards the 00 buckshot spread out more than the group from the Makarov but still held a fairly decent pattern. (Photo: David LaPell)

A word on penetration

So what about penetration? It was a pretty moot point to test against drywall since it is a fact that even light birdshot can go through a couple layers of drywall. You have to still be aware of your surroundings no matter what you’re shooting. Both handguns and shotguns will send a round through a wall into the next room with ease, so take that into consideration no matter which you choose.


Which would you pick? The decision is ultimately yours. Why not both? Well, that’s probably the smartest option, but not really in the spirit of this exercise.
If you’re looking for advice on a gun for your home, something you wouldn’t necessarily plan on carrying outside, I recommend a shotgun. Whether it’s 12, 20, or even .410, shot for shot, no handgun can match what a shotgun delivers — as long as it is buckshot.
Shotguns are also very cost effective. You can pick up a cheaper defensive shotgun like a Maverick 88 for less than $250 and a Remington 870 for under $400. You can find used shotguns often for around $200 or less in some cases. Also if you have a shotgun for hunting, many have barrels that interchange. For a mere $100 or so you can turn your hunting gun into a defensive shotgun in a matter of moments.
Handguns are of course great for personal protection, if you are going to take the time and expend the energy to get good with them. You still need to practice with your shotgun and pattern loads at different ranges from up close to at least 15 yards. But in the end it’s the simpler and usually better choice.
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Shotguns & Bowies for "The People Rule" State


Arkansas state Sen. Trent Garner wants to celebrate the state’s heritage by designating an official state gun and knife.

The Republican, who was elected last year to represent the El Dorado area, plans to introduce legislation to declare the Bowie knife and the shotgun Arkansas’ official state knife and gun, respectively.

Garner said the reasoning behind the choice of the shotgun is due to the state being internationally known for hunting, especially duck hunting, asserting most sportsmen in the state have a shotgun in their collection.

“Whether you are shooting ducks in a green-timber hole, hunting deer on a cold morning or calling turkey from the edge of a pasture, the shotgun is a versatile tool that can be used in many different types of hunts,” Garner said.

While there are no large shotgun makers in Arkansas, Berryville-based Nighthawk Customs and Wilson Combat produce a number of customized scatterguns for law enforcement and home defense use. Federal Armament in Fort Smith also manufacturers shotguns in-house.

The logic behind the Bowie knife is in Alamo hero Jim Bowie’s connection to the state, primarily that his famous wide-bodied blade was crafted by Arkansas blacksmith James Black and many early versions were known as the “Arkansas Toothpick.”

“Designating the Bowie knife as the official state knife of Arkansas will do more than simply recognize its well-earned role in the state’s history,” he said. “It will also let the world know the importance of this Arkansas-born treasure.”

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A Full-blown Civil War Appears To Be Materializing: "Nobody Will Be Able To Retreat To A Neutral Corner"

A Full-blown Civil War Appears To Be Materializing: "Nobody Will Be Able To Retreat To A Neutral Corner"


At the rate things are going, a full-blown civil war appears to be materializing.  Colin Kaepernick began it all with “taking a knee” in protest of the National Anthem.  Fast-forward one year later, and read this, released by Yahoo Sports for just how far it has gone:

“The Colin Kaepernick story has gotten seemingly endless attention because its reach goes far beyond football.

A pretty good reminder of that came Saturday afternoon in New York City, which is far removed from Kaepernick’s former NFL home of San Francisco. At a rally in Brooklyn, dozens of current and former New York police officers wore shirts that said “#WeStandWithKap” and at the end of the rally they took a knee and raised their fist, according to the New York Daily News.

Kaepernick became a household name when he took a knee for the national anthem last season to bring attention to racial injustice, including police brutality. It also appears to be one reason he has not been signed by any NFL team this offseason.

The police officers noted to the Daily News that they were speaking out against their belief that NFL teams aren’t signing Kaepernick as punishment for his protest.

“What Colin Kaepernick did is try to bring awareness that this nation unfortunately has ignored for far too long,” said NYPD Sgt. Edwin Raymond, an organizer of the rally, according to the Daily News. “And that’s the issue of racism in America and policing in America. We decided to gather here today because of the way he’s being railroaded for speaking the obvious truth.”

So, now the New York City Police Department weighs in on this.  They claim Kaepernick is being “railroaded,” eh?  Funny: He didn’t do it the year he went to the Super Bowl with the 49ers and a billion people were watching.  He didn’t stand for anything then, and he stands for nothing now.  That flag and that anthem represent something…and many died to keep the nation flying that flag and playing that anthem intact.  The sad irony of rights under the Constitution is that Kaepernick has the right to protest…a right that was enabled for him to exercise by his betters.  Look up the pictures of him and his buddies holding up automatic rifles, standing for nothing except themselves: perfect symbols of a decayed society and a dying empire.

The country is committing suicide as we speak.  The push for revision and redaction in all the history books has been on for some time.  Now we’re seeing actual mobs of demonstrators surrounding these historical statues.  The push is on.  On August 19, demonstrators in Detroit gathered to protest and demand removal of a statue of Christopher Columbus.  In all the major cities, the push to remove these statues along with protests continues.

It’s not going to stop here.  Now that Bannon is gone, a letter was sent to the President by more than a dozen conservative groups asking for him to not move toward a more moderate stance.  Indeed, over the weekend he “Tweeted” the Boston Police Department commending them on the way they handled the protests there.  The President has also adopted this “wishy-washy” stance of “we all need to heal the wounds” in the U.S., as if any of these protests had any relevance to any injustices happening today.

Seriously, this is all out of Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”  Go back and review the Glenn Beck programs of 2012-2014…when he presented some very good information on the Weather Underground (particularly Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers), as well as Cloward and Piven, and all the “outstanding” work by Van Jones to topple the system.  I’m not a personal fan of Beck’s, but back then he used to have very comprehensive layouts that were easily referenced and noted that concerned these Marxists and Communists marching under the banner and guise of “social justice.”  All that stuff that Van Jones had planned back then, with funding from Acorn and George Soros…it is manifesting itself here and now.

There is a civil war coming, as it is the domestic initiative that must be pursued to bring the United States down to the canvas…rendering her ineffective when the foreign initiative…an attack comes…to give the final count.  In both battles, nobody will be able to retreat to a neutral corner.  If the U.S. stays intact, then the NWO loses, and vice-versa.  These protestors (paid and genuine) are but a sampling of the platter to be served…a buffet right out of Pandora’s box.

original story SHTFplan click here:  A Full-blown Civil War Appears To Be Materializing: "Nobody Will Be Able To Retreat To A Neutral Corner"TAC-6

One man army weapon system

You can only carry one when on the run or standing a post.
There is a plethora of information on the web regarding firearms and there application in SHTF scenarios. It is of our opinion, that if you are going to survive there is one weapon system that might see you through the other side. It is known that many Americans have stock piled a diverse amounts of ammo, pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and rifles. Recent firearm sales have broken records. But, unless you are supplying an army, buying as an investment/collector, when it comes right down to it, "what if your location becomes compromised?" How much of it do you plan to carry? What weapons system is your go to? We have it set up to only grab one gun.
The go to primary weapon system that we believe is the overall best for SHTF/TEOTWAWKI/WROL/APOCALYPSE and having owned many BRs, ARs, rifles, pistols, revolvers; the tactical-combat pump action shotgun is our primary weapons system. It has been for decades and find it to be the best overall weapons system for a prepper/survivalist/sheep warrior.
Ease of use 
Reliability - Based on over 100 years of development.
Availability of a wide range of ammunition - From bird shot, buckshot, slug, flechette and sabot, to specialty ammo from non lethal to very exotic along with low recoil to magnum power rounds making a single weapons platform a definite force multiplier. This system can even be a launcher with blank rounds to launch a grappling hook or other ordinance.  
Your personal load-out should have a few of each dictated by your own personal intelligence of the situation at hand. An ammo load-out is about a total of 25 to 50 rounds depending on your capabilities of weight management. Use of a tactical vest or equivalent to carry a load-out of shot shell carrier card for ease of acquisition extra shot shells is critical. 
Ammunition reloading components are widely available and easy enough to even reload with basic tools by hand in the field if necessary.

Accessories - User customization with accessories including easy barrel change outs, choke systems, light systems, sight systems, carry systems, ammunition holders, hardware and adjustable furniture configurations.
A combat pump shotgun in a survival situation is the ultimate hunting system for the survivalist from small game to the largest North American game such as elk, moose and even big bears.

The combat pump shotgun is a one man army weapons system; in a SHTF scenario you can only handle one weapon system at a time. The combat pump shotgun with its ability to handle and cycle such a wide diverse ammunition loads, fulfills every need that you may face that requires a firearm!
In a survival situation it is unrivaled.  For defense, security, engage close quarter targets to engaging targets up to 300 yards. (For those who doubt the long range capability check video below. Smooth bore common 12 gauge foster slug. It is impressive)

In a bug out situation,*  the combat pump shotgun is my go to weapon system with the knowledge of the aforementioned it is a weapon system that I know I can deal with any situation requiring the need of a firearm.

Remember, preserve life, defend the weak and helpless. Love your countrymen!

*This is a last resort. Bugging out after the SHTF  is precarious and extremely challenging. It is best to have planned routes to a secured locations that is a primary, secondary and tertiary with caches along the way. Belonging to a like minded group when on the move each with their own particular training and skills is also a major plus. 

A full load-out of 12 gauge ammo is heavy; (This goes for any preference of weapon system as well as other supplies) 100 rounds of 2.75 inch 9 pellet 00 buck, just under 10 pounds equivalent to 10 mags of .223/5.56mm respectively . It is already known, that many will talk about  the possibility of engaging in a firefight, but remember the majority of ammo expended in such a scenario is suppression. To which, 100 rounds of 00 buck is 900 projectiles of .33 caliber 53 grain shot within a typical 100 yard range of contact engagement suppression compared to just 300 projectiles with a heavy load-out of .223/5.56mm.