Understanding the Gauge

I find it very odd that so many shooters have such profound misunderstanding of the shotgun. I am constantly encountering experienced shooters who still thing that the shotgun remains a 25 yard device and is only good for shooting ducks. These are shooters who should know better. Some of these shooters who don’t understand the shotgun tack the tac that they are against the shotgun and even get insulting of those that elect to use them. They continue to pass on poor stereotypes of the shotgun:
1. Shotguns have brutal recoil.
2. Shotguns are for short ranges only.
3. You don’t have to aim a shotgun.
4. Just the sound of a pump action shotgun being cycled will send goblins running away in panic, soiling themselves along the way.
Unfortunately, none of these are true.
1. My 12 year old has no problem handling any of my shotguns, each one a 12 gauge. If my young kid is tougher than you are… Drop and give me fifty!
2. This is one of the shotgun’s advantages… You can go from zero to two hundred yards with one weapon. Most defensive shootings are within 21 feet. If you have a defensive shooting that extends past that, the further away, the more difficult the time will be for you to justify your use of lethal force. For military guys, sure everything can be a nail and your hammer is a battle rifle so you are fine… But for civilians, going out for three yard shots isn’t really a good idea. So range doesn’t matter much for shotgun justification.
3. At normal defensive distances, inside twenty-one feet, the spread of a typical shogun load from a typical defensive shotgun is shockingly tight. I daresay the pattern will be tighter than what you boast you can can do with your carry pistol. The groups are typically just a couple of inches at those ranges. This makes it easy to fire a dramatic miss. You still have to aim. Part of this aiming is knowing what your shotgun and load is doing at every range interval. Once you gain an understanding of just what your gun is doing… How it patterns… Then it helps you apply all that delicious violence that your shotgun can deliver.
4. Racking the slide does make a good sound. We all love that sound. But for a defensive situation your sound might not scare anyone away, and you might have just gave away your position or warned your adversary that you are getting ready to fire. You might not have time. Get your shotgun ready before the bad guy is close enough to hear it.

15 thoughts on “Understanding the Gauge”

  1. The 2000 Cherokee’s battery went Tango Uniform Saturday morning – thankfully in the driveway. It’s on it’s third battery and second set of tires (we bought it used) – but it’s rock slid so far, and still has plenty of power and tows well considering it’s close to 200,000 miles.
    Knock on wood.

    FourRunner’s can be great – just depends on how they were treated and the luck of the draw – good in snow, better turning radius versus that truck – sometimes on narrow roads that can be a good thing.

    1. My personal mechanic rebuild this rig top down and it’s running pretty damn good. Should be solid.

  2. I hit enter accidentally – was trying to do the “comment on two post’s thing”.

    Anyway – you are one of the few that “get” the shotgun. It’s more versatile than it’s detractors will admit – and nothing puts the stomp on something at close range as hard – unless it’s belt-fed or explosive.

    And you can shoot birds with it, too.

  3. To reinforce your point, at 7 yards, my 870 patterns Federal Law Enforcement Tactical 00 has a 3 inch pattern. The cheapo Rio Royal patterns 4 inches + 2 inch flyer.

    In shotgun classes, I’ve seen people miss a ten inch plate with birdshot at 7 yards.

  4. I always get a funny look from a shotgun ‘expert’ when I explain that when I rack a shotgun, the only good that sound will do is to let the bad guy’s partner know that he better start running away faster.

  5. I’ve often thought of the shotgun as the poor man’s sub machine gun. Even with the relatively inexpensive pump gun you are getting a burst with each round of buck shot. Purist will disagree with me but I like the ghost ring sight since it makes, at least for me, and easier transition from a rifle mentality to the shot gun. If you are on a budget a used pump shotgun or lever action rifle is a pretty good buy for the bang.


    1. >>I’ve often thought of the shotgun as the poor man’s sub machine gun.

      Actually, it’s better. It’s way easier to get good hits with a shotgun than with a fully automatic Uzi. (Never fired an MP5, so I can’t comment directly on that.)

  6. Kids and 12 gauge: Actually, 12 gauge has less recoil than a 20 gauge.

    20 gauge shotguns tend to be smaller, and therefore kick harder.

    If the kid that can pick up and shoulder a 12 is better off. Start with trap loads if you are worried.

  7. A rubber recoil pad, a firm seat to the shoulder and standard law enforcement 2&3/4 inch shells with 00 buck let me shoot for an hour with no pain or bruising. If I could take it so could Sherman’s horse.
    AS a matter of fact get some buddies together with their shotguns go out to a range and fire away for while and make sure the old ladies are at home when you get done. Gun smoke, noise, and shredded cardboard is an aphrodisiac.

  8. I just spent the past weekend in a class from Rob Haught. The shotgun is very useful and his push-pull and CQB positions are most useful. Recoil with Hornady Critical Defense Buckshot wad less then half using the traditional pulling tight into the shoulder.
    Good sling, short stock and light on a work gun and you are set.

  9. So, Ogre, is there any chance you’re working up a revised shotgun course after your MAG-40 experience?
    The Course Calendar over at Crusader is looking pretty sparse…

  10. Allegedly, it’s a sin to load your own defense ammo… But, 9 pellets of #0 buck was too tempting for me. That’s about a 1oz load @1,300, fits well in a shotcup, excellent patterns when buffered. Are any of the big manufacturers loading similar stuff? Do I really care?
    When you come over, knock first and act politely. 🙂

  11. My usual response when people say that racking the slide can scare the bad guy away is usually something along the lines of, “once I decide to work my shotgun I’m done scaring the dirtbag”.

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