Monday, March 25, 2013

RE: Basic Guns Part 3: Shotguns

My recent post on shotguns in the basic guns series drew a comment worth replying to. It already got a pretty good response but I'll take a shot at it also. Here it is, I will reply after each piece in italics.
"Let's see...
* Heavy, bulky ammo
How much ammo do you plan on carrying? For a normal home defense or siting on the porch after a Hurricane type scenario I'd be quite comfortable with what's in/ on the gun and 40-50 rounds which is not excessively heavy. True 150-250 rounds of buckshot or slugs would weight a lot but if you're trying to do that it's likely not a problem that can be solved with a shotgun anyway.
* Short range
Short range in comparison to what? [This is a systemic issue of the comment. Nothing is defined or compared to another alternative.]  Figure buckshot is good to 30 meters or so which covers probably 90% of home defense type situations. Slugs out of a standard open cylinder barrel with a bead sight are good to about 100m (if the operator does his part) which probably covers 99.9% of civilian defensive situations.
* Ineffective against even the cheapest armor
So are all but a few oddball pistols but you don't see folks running away from 9mm, .357mag, .40 and .45. The comment to use slugs is valid. Then again rifle plates that stop everything up to 30'06 AP are common place and can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. So that thinking eliminates the advantage of .223, 7.62x39 and .308 also; you would really have to move to .338 Lapua or other anti materiel type rifle that will either blow through a plate or create so much energy it would do a person in through blunt force trauma. Honestly while Goblins wearing body armor is a valid worst case scenario for home defense the real odds of it happening are probably pretty low. If a round to the plate does not do somebody in (or you see vests) transition to 'hips and heads'. In plain English if you suspect folks might have vests shoot them in the hips and then in the face. Heck given the slim but reasonable likelihood that somebody has a vest these days starting with 'hips and heads' isn't a terrible idea.
* Crap sights
Honestly I have never really had an issue with the plain old single bead. Given the realistic ranges for employing a shotgun I find them sufficient. Rifle sights, ghost ring sights or a red dot are all better and valid options but they cost money.
* Crap accuracy
If a person cannot use a serviceable shotgun to accomplish realistic shotgun tasks the issue lie in the operator not the weapons system.
* Awkward, slow reloads
 In comparison to a modern magazine fed weapon that holds 20-30+ rounds reloads are slow and awkward. On the other hand if we are comparing it to a bolt or lever action rifle I would call it a wash.
So why would I want to buy a shotgun again?"

Further commentary:  The systemic problem with this comment is that it does not compare shotguns to another option by weak point or to propose another weapons system as an all around better option. Maybe I am being too hard on this but it has it's been pounded into my head that you bring up a problem AND A BETTER OPTION.

I am a pretty harsh critic of shotguns for home defense. This guy would take an AR/ AK/ Mini 14/ Whatever over a shotgun every day of the week and twice on Sunday. $1,500 Project AR with a $500 optic blows the old 870 out of the water in about every possible way. A Mercedes or Porche SUV blows my Asian SUV out of the water and $120 a bottle Scotch beats $18 a bottle stuff. The problem is that a comparison between them that does not consider economics is invalid. 

At the time of this writing AR's run $1,200 for low end guns. AK's are running almost a grand for low end ones.  A quality shotgun costs 1/4 to 1/3rd of either. Many people are priced out of modern defensive rifles these days but any semi functional adult can pull together $250-300ish to get a good pump shotgun. Also today they are still widely available both in stores and on the private market. Think I've beat the cost thing to death.

The other big benefit of a shotgun is versatility. A rifle can do some things better than a shotgun but there are many things a shotgun can do that a rifle fails completely at. As discussed before any sort of jack of all trades is not the master of any but in this scenario a gun that does a lot of things acceptably is very useful.

Instead of comparing a shotgun to rifles that cost 3-4x as much ones in the same range might be a more equitable comparison. We will get to rifles later but the playing field between bolt action deer rifles, lever guns and old milsurp Mosin Nagants and the shotgun is a whole lot more level.  A reasonable person could choose to go rifle first then shotgun down the road but it's still important to compare apples to apples.

Considering this is the Basic Guns series and we are talking about affordable but still reliable guns that will fill a lot of roles I consider the shotgun worthwhile. 



Joshua said...

I have just a few thoughts and opinions on the 12 gauge pump action. I carry both an 870 and a RR LAR 15 in my car. I would echo ryan's point that different situations call for different tools. My heavy armor is set up to run the AR in an active shooter situation, however the 870 is deployed almost as frequently for building searches, animal attacks, felony traffic stops in apartment complexes or anytime where we have a heads up and know overpenatration is a higher risk..also according to the FBI the 870 loaded with 00 buck has a 98% lethality rate... good enough for me. Finally unless the bad guy is rockin a heavy vest, 00 buckshot will knock him on his ass with something in his rib cage busted to shit, so the follow up shot to the pelvic girdle or head should be much more manageable.. and I was always under the impression that a one ounce slug will go through soft armor... anyways an 870 with some basic accesories is truly a combat weapon available to all of us.

tweell said...

Ammo is still kinda scarce and expensive. Shotgun shells, OTOH, are still fairly abundant and relatively cheap. If you've just (figuratively) woken up, a shotgun and shells is about all that is readily available.

Unfortunately VP Biden has been touting the shotgun (as incompetently as possible), so going by the 180 Biden rule we should avoid them. That's a good rule generally, but in this case, ignore every word he says but 'shotgun'.

There is nothing as fearsome at close range as a shotgun. It may not be logical, but folks pay a lot more attention to a pump shotgun cycling than to a rifle bolt engaging. We might think we won't get hurt too bad by that small bore, but the large shotgun bore speaks eloquently of the damage it can do. There's some bluff there, but only some.

Joshua said...

The reaction to the shotgun is more significant than when the rifle is deployed, compliance and intimidation comes more naturally with the shotgun, I suppose it could be chalked up to ignorance or hollywood perceptions. It simply is another facet of the pump action.

Aesop said...

Invite Mr. AR Rules to a local sporting clays range, and you each get one basic load to run one course of fire. If you're feeling sporting, let him use his pistol to pickup any targets he can't hit with a full magazine worth of .223. That will most likely be all of them.

Then take him over to the firing range. Put a silhouette target on the far side of an average automobile body at midpoint.

Engage from 75-100 yds. with slugs vs. FMJ, or even SS109 equivalents, and count how many large holes in the silhouette vs. the small ones from the AR. Odds are, all the holes will be from the slugs.

Loser gets to STFU and sit down.

An AR is my first choice too. But it doesn't do everything, nor do everything better. It's the same reason carpenters have both a hammer and a screwdriver in the same tool box.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, whoever posted that comment has obviously never had any "formal training" with a shotgun. He can wear a vest and stand 100yds away, let me hit him with a slug, and we'll prove who is right. Plus, I'll use a bead sight. I've done it in training and it will disprove the 'sight' statement as well.
Slow reloads? Sure! I can stuff a mag in my pistol or AR in just over a second. But I can port-load 1 shell at a time fast enough for him to keep his down.
And 'tweell', I don't argue with you on the sound of the action of a pump, but if I deploy my home defense 12ga, all you will hear is the safety coming off.

Archer Garrett said...

On a far more practical level, why have a shotgun outfitted in addition to your rifle?

Well, not long ago my AK had a critical failure of a part I had not expected to fail.

Without the 590, I had no other comparable long arm to fill that role that wasn't already allocated to someone else. I had some stop-gaps, but the cheap shotgun was my next best alternative to a matching AK.

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