Recently, I have had the desire to purchase a shotgun. After reading Creek’s post about how to make a survival shotgun, it was clear that this desire began. After becoming a homeowner, the itch grew stronger (I feel a lot like Kevin McAllister). The shotgun is an excellent weapon for disaster preparation and home defense. It is reliable, powerful, and versatile. It can be used to hunt for food or to defend your home from intruders.
As I have said before, I am a beginner at guns. Although I was raised around guns, I didn’t become interested in them until recently. Before I brought a gun into my home, I wanted to ensure 209 primers that I understood how it worked and fire it properly.
So I went to the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, OK, to speak to Mike Seeklander (President of the Academy, and co-host of Outdoor Channel’s The Best Defense). Mike has helped me with articles about how to fire a gun and a rifle. He explained how to understand and fire a shotgun on this trip. I will share what I have learned with those who want to learn from Mike.
Shotguns can be fired from the shoulder, and are used for hitting targets at close ranges. A shotgun cartridge fires many pellets, called “shot,” unlike rifle or handgun cartridges which can only fire one projectile. Shotgun cartridges typically fire multiple bullets called shots that spread as they leave the barrel. The energy of a single cartridge is split into numerous pieces of shot. This means that the shot’s power decreases as it travels further away from the gun. Shotguns are therefore short-range weapons.
Break-action shotguns have a hinge connecting the barrel to the stock. This allows you to open or break the barrel to expose your breech to load your ammunition. You may have seen old cowboys or big game hunters holding shotguns. Double-barreled break-action shotguns have the barrels placed either side-by or one on top. These shotguns are used primarily by hunters and sports shooters. Break-action shotguns have one disadvantage: they are single-shot guns. This means that once you have fired a single round from each barrel, you will need to reload.
Pump-action shotguns are single-barrel shotguns that can hold multiple rounds, unlike break-action shotguns. To extract spent shells or chamber a new game, pull the handle of the pump towards you and push it back along its barrel. Because of their reliability, and the ability to hold multiple rounds, pump-action shotguns have been widely used by police forces all over the globe. The American police have used the Remington 870 as their standby shotgun for years. The U.S military has preferred the Mossberg 500.
According to the firearms community, pump-action shotguns are the best choice for home defense. They are incredibly reliable, easy to use, and almost impossible to break. Even more importantly, even the most seasoned criminal will be stung by the sound of a hot round inserted into a 12 gauge pump-action pump. They are also relatively inexpensive, starting at $200. You need to be aware of short-stroking when firing a pump action shotgun. This is when the pump doesn’t return to its original position. It will not chamber the next round.