Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Shotgun For My Home Defense In The Suburbs

     I realize this is a well discussed, often tedious, topic around the Internet. However, I'd like to put my personal spin on it. Maybe, just maybe, I might brush on something not discussed before, or come up with a pretty good idea. It rarely happens, but has been known to occur almost as frequently as Bigfoot sightings.

     I like the shotgun as an option for home defense. I have a couple of pump shotguns, and am now getting comfortable with the reliability of an auto loader as a home defense weapon. The shotgun I chose originally is a Remington 870 Magnum, which I've used for 20 years. The replacement I recently bought, and have yet to run through it's paces is the Mossberg 590A1. The actual version of the 590A1 I bought is this one 590A1 Blackwater.  I could care less about the logo on the side. This was the only way to get that shotgun, configured that way, from the manufacturer. I'm not recommending the above retailer as a place to buy it, but the Mossberg website didn't detail the Blackwater and the site above did a good job I thought.

     The Remington 870 has served me well, and also helped me create a wish list of option for it's replacement. I'm a big proponent of OEM (the manufacturer) equipping a special purpose weapon versus buying the components myself and putting them on. The warranty is big reason, so is relying on their R&D versus my own research which would be heavily Internet based vs real life practical field testing.  That's not a knock on the "home armorer".  I like doing that stuff myself some also, just not on my home defense shotgun. That weapon, second only to my carry gun, has to be 100% reliable. I've got to have 110% confidence in THAT weapon because of the roll it plays in defending my family.

     Over penetration, while a concern in a home defense situation isn't something I want to go into a great deal of depth about on this post. Generally speaking, if something shoots with enough force to kill a person, it will pass through two 1/2 inch pieces of sheet rock. I also don't want to get into the shot size debate either. I use 00 Buck and could care less about the arguments for or against. If you want to use #7 shot, go for it. 

     Upgrades on the new shotgun:
  • 590A1 - Military spec with heavy walled barrel. Makes the weapon more durable, but also makes it heavier. If you've ever stood in  line in a grocery store holding a gallon of milk for 10 minutes, you know how heavy almost 8 lbs can be. I'm OK with heavier, I'm not standing a post with it. It's for grab and go defense.
  • XS Ghost Ring Sights - hi-visibility white front post. I'm familiar and comfortable with this type of site.
  • 20" barrel - full mag tube and 1 in the chamber, the weapon holds 9 rounds. A little extra length adds a little more weight.
  • Speed Feed Stock - stores an extra 4 rounds. Two on each side of the stock. Brings the capacity of the weapon up to 13 rounds. If I added a side saddle it would hold 19 rounds of 00 Buck on or in the weapon. Nothing extra to grab. Stock is stippled for better grip in adverse conditions.
  • Rail on the receiver - option to mount a red dot should I decide to.
  • 3 Rails on the fore grip - One integrated, two bolted on. I'll probably remove the bolt-ons, and add a light to the integrated rail.
  • Metal trigger, trigger guard, and safety button.
  • Anti-jam elevator, dual extractors, positive shot shell extraction and ejection all increase the reliability when it's needed most.
     A shotgun is longer and more difficult to corner with, but it's the most versatile and powerful weapon a civilian can use for home defense. My 590 has a longer barrel than my 870, but I get 3 extra rounds in the magazine. To me that is worth the extra inch and a half in barrel length.

     With the right rounds you can breach a door, clear a room, and make a 100 yd accurate shot. Granted that will take some training, skill, and practice to effectively make a slug change over for example. So...get some training. That's the long and short of it. Get trained. If you can't effectively operate a shotgun under stress, you shouldn't use one for home defense.

     I'm going to add a light to my 590. Target identification as well as target environment as equally critical in a home defense situation.  For example, knowing the person you're about to shoot with buckshot is actually the bad guy, and also knowing your 4 year old isn't standing behind him are equally important. You should understand that if you miss with a weapon as powerful as a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot, it will go through interior walls. If you don't live in a brick structure, it can go through exterior walls as well.

     I'm going to take my new 590A1 out and shoot a hundred rounds or so through it this week. I'll be curious to see if I actually get the benefits I think I'll get by upgrading from my older Remington 870 to a new Mossberg 590A1. I'll be sure and provide a full range report, and possibly do a side by side comparison vs my Remington 870. Although I think the Mossberg 591A1 would compare more equally to the Remington 887, the 870 is what I have.      
     The next shotgun I plan to purchase is the Mossberg 930SPX. It'll be really interesting to compare that to the 590A1. As I said above, I'm getting much more comfortable with the reliability of the auto shotgun. It'll require additional training to learn how to run it effectively, but you know me...I love to train.

     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. The point is to survive to fight another day. 

     As always, suggestions and comments are always welcome. If you have any shotgun drills you'd like me to run in my comparisons, please e-mail them to me

Thanks for reading.


  1. I find no fault in your reasoning, but I would like to take you up on your testing. What do you think about #4 buck shot versus 00 Buck?

    The FBI recommends #4. Their reasoning is that the higher pellet count equates to more hits and causes a greater shock effect than the 00 hits. Multiple hits do induce more trama to the body, this is one of the reasons a shotgun is more effective than a handgun. The FBI believes the #4 buck offers the same penatration as the 00 buck. Most of my experience is with 00, I know it works well on feral dogs.

    What are your thoughts on #4 buck.

    One other thought on shotguns, I use the 870 as my primary because that is what I learned on. Recently I purchased a Saiga 12 Ga. and 2-20 round drum magazines. My reasoning is this gives me the close in firepower of a 9mm submachine gun in a non-NFA firearm. I knew 20 rounds of 00 would be impressive, but even I was surprised.

  2. I think #4 Buck is a very viable defense round. I've actually had people recommend #2 Buck as well, but have never even SEEN any. I also deploy #1 Buck as well, but didn't include that in my post. My decision to deploy 00 vs #4 Buck came down to two things:

    1. 00 Buck is .34 caliber, #4 is .24.....the pellet count varies with manufacturer. The 00 Buck I deploy has a pellet count of 9, which has a smaller spread at distance than #4. I run either an 18.5 or 20 inch - no choke barrel. So spread can equal stray pellets in an open space like my livingroom/diningroom/kitchen....which is all open.

    2. My familiarity with 00 Buck, I've shot LOTS of it, and I'm comfortable with it's performance. Also, I can walk into a Wal-Mart and pick up 00 Buck, which might not be the case with #4 through #1.

    I know those might not be terribly sound reasons for or against 00 Buck, but it's what I based my decision on. I'm no expert, I'm just a working class stiff with a family to feed and protect.

    Thank you for reading my rantings and taking the time to ask real questions.

  3. I also have Remington 870 for home safety and also use it to do target shooting. It is not an easy task to operate it with having any training. So, I ma doing firearm training course from MA Firearms Safety Course which gives best firearm safety and shooting training.