For many, it is the end-all, be-all of home-defense, the mighty “boomstick” that, on television, cleaves automobiles and walls in two as if it were some kind of handheld howitzer.
The shotgun isn’t THAT powerful — no firearm could be — but it is a very popular choice for defending the home.
There are, however, things that even experienced shooters forget when it comes to the home-defense shotgun.
The late, great Louis Awerbuck and I once discussed this very topic.
His untimely death was a loss to the firearms industry, and we miss him.
Here is a summary of what he had to say to me.
Three Things Even Experienced Shooters Forget About Shotguns!
Shotguns can be complicated, even for a weapon that is mechanically relatively simple.
There are some basic concepts every shooter needs to remember.
Forget these and you run the risk of missing your target or experiencing a negligent discharge.
All the movie lore about shotguns out there doesn't help matters.
Here are three things even experienced shooters forget, or don't know, about shotguns:
1. Most Shotguns Have Just A Simple Bead Front Sight
Some shotguns have “ghost ring” sights, or more substantial sights, and this is not uncommon on combat weapons.
The basic combat shotgun, though, just makes use of this bead arrangement.
Do NOT make the mistake of thinking that this means you don’t have to aim!
It’s not enough to just point the shotgun in the direction of the bad guy.
Especially if you follow our advice and load slugs instead of shot, you’ll need to be very careful where your rounds go.
2. Always Press-Check The Magazine Tube
In other words, check to see if there’s a round in the tube as opposed to a round in the chamber.
This varies from the manual-of-arms for most other weapons, such as pistols, carbines, and so on.
The reason for checking the magazine tube is that when you press the trigger on a pump-shotgun or a semi-auto shotgun, and it does not fire, you know whether you have more rounds in the weapon available to you.
In other words, if you point the shotgun, pull the trigger, and nothing happens, if you hadn’t checked the magazine tube, you would have no idea whether there would be another round available once you pumped the slide or ran the bolt back.
By contrast, if you check the chamber but DON’T check the magazine tube, you know at most that you have just one round.
That’s the only thing you’re verifying.
3. The Ejection Port Is Not For Loading!
That port is an EJECTION port, not a LOADING port.
It is never meant for loading rounds.
To safely load rounds in a shotgun, load the magazine first, then operate the action.
This is a seemingly small but important distinction, mechanically.
As we'll see, however, mechanical differences can be a matter of life and death.