HOW TO: Make Any Shotgun A Home Defense Shotgun

Contrary to what many gun “experts” would like you to believe, you do not need an expensive, mean looking, black, and tactical shotgun in order to properly protect your home. Even though these firearms might be very useful, and when practiced with properly, can be very effective as a home defense shotgun; the reality is that you, the average gun owner, does not have the time to deal with tactical cool guy firearms. And for even more Americans in this tough economy, it is hard to justify spending several hundreds of dollars on a spiffy shotgun. For example…

Benelli M4 12 Gauge Shotgun – Semi Automatic

Cost? Only $1,600.00

If the idea of spending sixteen hundred dollars on a military shotgun makes you shake your head, please keep reading.

Instead of worrying about all of these new and fancy guns, let’s focus on what we know. Maybe you have a simple pump action shotgun at the house which gets used for hunting here and there. Maybe you have any old break action shotgun your grand father left you. Maybe you are looking to pick up your first shotgun today. Here are some suggestions and tips to quickly take any shotgun and trim it into a sturdy and reliable home defense gun.

1. Before buying a second shotgun for home defense, stick with the one you have.

One of the most important aspects of owning ANY firearm for defense, is to be very comfortable with the gun. What better way to feel comfortable then by using the gun which you have had for years? The gun you grew up shooting with will treat you better than a complicated tactical shotgun that also drains your wallet. Odds are you will also be very accurate already with your own shotgun and your knowledge of the controls will be automatic.

You need to know how to run the gun you have.

2. Shorter Barrel

You may already have noticed that the 28 inch barrel which you use to pull birds out of the sky is not the most practical thing to use for defense indoors. Corners can be tight inside a house, and it is important to not only have maneuverability, but also be concealability. Nothing gives your position away more quickly than a long barrel protruding from beyond your cover. Be sure to always follow regulation regarding barrel length. Avoid shotgun barrels that are less than 18 inches in length. Finding short barrels is fairly easy for the two most common pump shotguns in the United States today: the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870.

Mossberg 500 with the standard “field” barrel. The shorter security barrel is shown underneath.

An additional barrel for either a Mossberg or a Remington will cost you a hundred dollars or so, but you can still use the shotgun during the hunting by quickly swapping out barrels. An online sporting goods store, such as Midway USA, usually will have short security barrels for common shotgun brands. Here are some links for the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870.

3. Shell holder / Shell bandolier

Shotguns are not known for their high capacity internal magazines. Your five rounds or so could be quickly gone after a short altercation. Any easy fix would be to add a shell holder sleeve which you quickly slip onto the stock of virtually any shotgun you might own.

Shotgun shell holder – Mossy Oak

As an alternative or in addition, a great buy would be a shotgun bandolier. Most standard shell bandoliers carry 25 extra shells, and buying two not only decks you in a great Pancho Villa look, but you are also armed to the teeth.


Shotgun Bandolier by Allen Company

Having extra shells on hand for your shotgun is one of the best improvements you can make in a home defense situation. Both the shell holder sleeve and the bandolier are not going to be expensive additions, as you can easily pick up both for less than $40.

4. Light attachment

The ability to see your target is a crucial factor when engaging an assailant in your home. A clearly visible target becomes the difference between shooting an intruder, and shooting a member of the family coming home later than usual.

Unlike a handgun, holding a flashlight with your non-shooting hand is very difficult to do with most shotguns. Pump actions tend to be heavier, and you would obviously need both hands to operate the firearm appropriately. The good news is, there are a wide variety of attachments that can allow for a small light to be mounted to a shotgun.

Streamlight PolyTac LED flashlight with a Shotgun Mount

A quality light mount that also includes its own flashlight could run around $100. This particular light from Streamlight is about $80 on A light attachment could end up being one of the more pricey additions to a home defense shotgun, but the practicality pays for itself.

If you still want to go in a much cheaper direction, we have heard of using cheap scope mounts and their mini Mag Lite flashlights as a light attachment.

Duct tape works great too.

5. Ammunition

Choosing certain types of shotgun ammunition can be an easy way to improve your shotgun’s effectiveness as a home defense firearm. Having said that, any ammunition is better than NONE. If all you have lying around the house are old bird shells or the shells you use to plaster clay pigeon, they can also do the job. Tiny balls of metal flying through the air at a several hundred feet per second is pretty terrifying for a bad guy no matter how you stack it.

If you feel like spicing up your ammo selection, consider these options for your home defense shotgun:

  • 00 Buck Shot – A favorite for defense. Instead of many many small steel shot used for bird hunting, Buck shot uses just a few larger pieces of shot packed in front of a more powerful amount of powder. The result means much more energy on target and devastating effects to your intruder’s well being.
  • Slug – Shooting a slug from a shotgun is essentially similar to shooting one big a** bullet down range. You no longer have the spreading pattern as you would from bird or buck shot, but you still preserve a VERY destructive effect on target when shot accurately.
  • Reduced Recoil shells – You can even buy fancy cool guy shotgun rounds that have a “reduced recoil” effect. Obviously these shells will cost you a few extra dollars, but you gain more control due to less recoil. Shooters of a smaller body type tend to find this option a great plus and helps make the shotgun feel more manageable and comfortable.

6. Practice, drill, train

This applies especially to people who have the mentality that buying a wonderful and $1600 gun automatically make them secure in their home. A gun is worthless if you do not know how to properly operate it in a safe and defensive manner. Whether it is a new shotgun you just picked up, or the old hand me down – drill, drill, drill. Take your shotgun out to a range and force yourself to practice important areas of defensive shooting.

Practicing how to do smooth reloads between your firearm and your ammo sleeves or bandoliers is very important. You want to get a feel of where the ammo lies on your person or the gun, and how you are going to use your hands to put that ammo into the firearm. Practicing on a range can make the motion automatic even when you are under stress. The whole concept behind training is to mentally prepare your mind to work in an automatic state when the chips are down and your heart is racing.

Take yourself outside of your comfort zone out on the range, so you will not be surprised when you are outside of your comfort zone in a fight.

You and your shotgun need to become quite acquainted with each other, as well as acquainted and handled by any members of your family who may also need to use the firearm for defense. Perfect practice will save your life.

Hope you came away with some good ideas to improve your shotgun for home defense. Please add comments, questions, suggestions, concerns. Cheers.



1 comment

  1. jsiddle2010 August 6, 2012 6:34 pm 

    I would highly advise against using 00 buck shot in an urban environment. Picture this: You use 00 buck and a couple BBs miss and penetrate the wall into your child’s bedroom… Those are massive BBs and are going to do damage.

    Now take a #7 bird load for example… lots of smaller BBs… It will still have the knockdown needed to take down an intruder, but if a few of those BBs even make it through the wall, they wont have enough velocity to really do any devastating damage….

    all in all, 00 buck shot will go through multiple walls before stopping. a bird load will only lightly pepper the room right behind the first wall… Think of your situation and whats behind your target.

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