Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This applies to defensive pistols, rifles, and shotguns. For today, let’s discuss shotguns. It is tempting to add the latest gadget to any platform. The question that the owner must ask is, “how will this help me?” and “is this necessary?” Much of what is available is truly fluff. You may believe your shotgun looks cooler but in fact it is detrimental to the functional operation.
Let’s start with the stock. A pistol grip stock is out! Take it off. Unless you have a legitimate reason to try to conceal a shotgun, get rid of it. They are good for bank robbers and shark fisherman: at that, a real stock would be more effective for the fisherman. They are not accurate and a shotgun has too much recoil to control the gun. Plus it hurts your hand! A full size stock allows you to point and aim if needed quickly and take a follow-up shot if required. Remember, you are accountable for every pellet that leaves your gun. We do prefer a shorter length of pull on a defensive shotgun that your clay gun for compactness and to run it more like a rifle. A pistol grip on a stock or a Magpul SGA stock is very practical. The combo is very controlled for defensive use or for turkey hunting as we use our shotty more like a rifle.
Collapsible stock require their own paragraph. They might look cool but bluntly, they suck. They absorb no recoil. They do not align your eye properly with the rib or rail and you typically need to lift your head to see a proper sight picture. Bottom line-they hurt! If you don’t want to take our word, go try one and shoot a box of 25 rounds of 00 buckshot. Be sure to post a picture of your bruised cheek and face on our Instagram account after!
Optics and sights are a question that often comes up. Your home defense shot gun does not need them unless you have a place in your home that is longer that 20 or so yards. Most people do not have such a space. Somewhere over 20 yards a slug might be preferred over buckshot and as such a small red dot would be handy. Home defense distance requires nothing more than a bead or two on your rib. An optic is just one more thing that will snag or get knocked out of zero. Ideally you are using the shotgun defensively with both eyes open and using a form of instinctual shooting. Beads are meant for this style. If you prefer no sight, try a fiber optic pipe on your gun. This item will be sure to break off on a door jamb or at some other inopportune moment. If you like being punched in the cheek (see above note on stocks) try a high mounted ghost ring set or a high mounted optic. This style will force your cheek off the stock and it will feel like a left cross from Mike Tyson. The only enhanced set of sights we have found to be an upgrade and practical is a set from XS Sights. They are made of steel with a tritium insert. If you have a rail on your receiver it is awesome paired with a small Ghost ring. They all mount low enough to ensure you keep your head down on the stock!
Extended choke tubes are an item that will just make your gun longer. You don’t need your XXX Full turkey tube or the latest shark tooth door breacher from hell. Unless you are breeching doors or actually know how to do so, a fixed cylinder or a flush fit choke is more than fine!
Slings can get caught on door knobs etc if you are not wearing them correctly. I keep a sling next to my gun and can install it in a spilt second if desired. If I’m in my boxers checking out a strange noise at night I do not want a sling. If you know how to use one to your advantage, it can be handy if you are dealing with a child or need to open a lot of doors.
Lights are paramount to identifying a potential threat. This is one item that should be mounted to your gun. You need both hands to run your shotgun and holding one in your teeth is not practical. It need not be super powerful. In fact there is too much of a good thing with light as the reflection or splash will blind you if it is too powerful. Somewhere around 100 lumens is plenty for residential interiors. I’m partial to Inforce weapon mounted lights these days. Robust and sturdy and easy to operate. Mount your light properly. Take the shotgun to the range and run 50 rounds through it to ensure your attachment is sturdy. Better to know now that when you actually need it. Duct tape is not a long-term solution by the way.
By the way, if you are getting the idea that less is more on an HD shotgun, you are correct! Get rid of the crap on your gun and get some training. We have defensive shotgun classes coming up this spring. Look for the dates! Cajunarms.com
Jim Benoit's thoughts on guns, gear, & training
CAJUN ARMS & TUSCARORA TACTICAL TRAINING
WEST CHESTER, THOMPSONTOWN, PA