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Question About Firearm Selection for Home Defense (VANITY)
vanity | April 13, 2003 | Jim Noble

Posted on 04/13/2003 7:10:36 PM PDT by Jim Noble

I have been trying to select a home defense firearm. I have handled and fired .38 special, .357 Magnum, and .45 ACP handguns, and 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns, but I'm not (yet) an experienced shooter.

I also have small kids at home.

I like the shotgun option, but have 2 concerns. 1) Do I like it because blowing away bad guys with a shotgun looks cool in the movies? (i.e., is this as viable an option as a handgun). 2) Can a bad guy with a handgun kill me before he is in lethal range of my shotgun?

Thanks in advance to all the experienced shooters here.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: bang; banglist; handguns; homedefense; shotguns
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1 posted on 04/13/2003 7:10:36 PM PDT by Jim Noble
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To: Jim Noble

2 posted on 04/13/2003 7:12:46 PM PDT by RIGHT IN SEATTLE (by taking)
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To: All
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3 posted on 04/13/2003 7:13:55 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: RIGHT IN SEATTLE
History of Free Republic

4 posted on 04/13/2003 7:14:23 PM PDT by Bradís Gramma (Become a Monthly Donor to Free Republic! Please?)
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To: Jim Noble
Inside a house, there is no such place as outside the lethal range of a shotgun loaded with appropriate ammo.
5 posted on 04/13/2003 7:15:50 PM PDT by Restorer (TANSTAAFL)
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To: Jim Noble
I use a Mossberg 590 12 Ga. shotgun loaded with just plain birdshot. 8 or 9 rounds of birdshot. Must handgun or rifle projectiles can be lethal to neighbors in tight situations.
6 posted on 04/13/2003 7:15:58 PM PDT by AdA$tra (Tagline maintenance in progress......)
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To: Jim Noble
>> "2) Can a bad guy with a handgun kill me before he is in lethal range of my shotgun?"

Not likely. Shotgun can be lethal to 40 yards or more. Most home encounters are in the 10 ft range.
7 posted on 04/13/2003 7:16:10 PM PDT by sd-joe
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To: Jim Noble
I am partial to a Remington 870, 12 gauge, loaded with 00 Buckshot. At 50 feet it will tear a whole through a 1/2 inch sheet of plywood. Plus with a scatter gun you don't need a whole lot of light to get a bead on your target.
8 posted on 04/13/2003 7:18:22 PM PDT by mtbrandon49 ("Beware the fury of a patient man")
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To: mtbrandon49
Ditto!
9 posted on 04/13/2003 7:20:26 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Jim Noble
Winchestesrs 'Defender' in 12-gauge loaded with 4-ought buck will throw more bullets faster than submachine gun and will out range the majority of hand guns in the open and at close quarters is the scaryist weapon around.
10 posted on 04/13/2003 7:21:03 PM PDT by fella
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To: Jim Noble
I agree with post #6 as to a 12 ga. loaded with birdshot. The birdshot tend to shed energy very quickly as it passes through something solid like a wall and therefore may not be as much a danger to neighbors, livestock, etc.

You still have to practice on a repeated basis to develop and maintain proficiency, as you would with any weapon you're depending on for defense.

The best thing a shotgun has going for it, IMHO, is that the sound or racking a round into the chamber should soil the undergarments of almost any intruder.
11 posted on 04/13/2003 7:23:44 PM PDT by x1stcav (HooAhh!)
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To: Jim Noble
An ex-Navy Seal once told me that a sawed off 12 gauge shotgun is the home defence weapon of choice. Of course, being so effective, it's also illegal.
12 posted on 04/13/2003 7:23:57 PM PDT by 69ConvertibleFirebird (Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.)
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To: Jim Noble
I use a Mossberg 20 guage with a pistol grip. The pistol grip reduces the lenght of the firearm and the handgun's manueverability advantage if your opponent is packing one.

I use 00 buck loaded with #4 shot.

My rifles are packed to fly.

13 posted on 04/13/2003 7:25:01 PM PDT by ez (...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.)
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To: *bang_list
Bang!

The shotgun is the most versatile weapon ever made. Some of the best shotguns for home defense are the Winchester Defender, the Mossberg 500 series, the Remington 870 and the Benelli M-1.
14 posted on 04/13/2003 7:27:14 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (Don't punch holes in the lifeboat)
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To: RIGHT IN SEATTLE
Get a handgun with a magazine safety if you have kids in the house and no safe of any sort.

These include the Smith and Wesson autos, like the 4506 in 45 caliber, or the 6906 in 9MM or their variants.

You can also opt for a Browning High Power or one of the clone variants in 9mm or 40 caliber. It has a mag safety also.

This means you can take the magazine out of the gun, even if it has a round in the chamber, and it won't fire.

If you go for a shotgun, get the 870, it's the best of the bunch, and easy to learn the manual of arms for it.

15 posted on 04/13/2003 7:28:39 PM PDT by Armedanddangerous (The first rule in a gunfight is to have a gun...)
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To: Jim Noble
The pump action shotgun has a very distinct advantageous side effect: 

The pumping of the slide is such an ominous and distinctive sound it scares the crap out of 99.99% of those that hear and understand they might be on the receiving end of a close quarters load of buckshot...

This alone makes it a fabulous choice. 

Sun Tzu:

"To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
16 posted on 04/13/2003 7:28:45 PM PDT by antaresequity (...)
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To: Jim Noble
I have a Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Magnum that I use for home defense. I'm in the market for a 12 gauge shotgun right now. If you really need to kill somebody, use a shotgun.

Incidentally, I was told by a former cop that a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 shot has the stopping power of nine .357 rounds. I can't confirm that, but a more gun savvy Freeper probably could.

17 posted on 04/13/2003 7:29:02 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: x1stcav
Trying to chamber a round within earshot of a burglar isn't a smart thing to do. You wouldn't do it with a semi-automatic pistol so why do it with a shotgun.
18 posted on 04/13/2003 7:29:41 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (Don't punch holes in the lifeboat)
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To: x1stcav
The best thing a shotgun has going for it, IMHO, is that the sound or racking a round into the chamber should soil the undergarments of almost any intruder.

Sun Tzu:

"To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
19 posted on 04/13/2003 7:30:13 PM PDT by antaresequity (...)
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To: ez
Shot guns are easiest to master,easiest to operate in aclutch. the Ithaca 12 is particularly wicked because as long as you hold down the trigger it will fire at the end of every shuck. You can become adept at emptiing the thing in about 3 seconds thereby disposing of anything in that part of the state. Dead men tell no tales.
20 posted on 04/13/2003 7:30:53 PM PDT by ping jockey
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To: Jim Noble
In a home defense situation, it would be difficult not to cause a lethal wound with a shotgun. I would recommend taking a certified NRA course in shooting safety and knowledge before buying anything, as you will learn a great deal about your legal responsibilities and ramifications of using lethal force. Gun geeks are like computer geeks and car geeks- they will cheerfully argue their favorite issues and points for hours, and like anything else, those that know the least often talk the most. Get some qualified instruction before you listen to the hype.
Here's a link to the U.S. Department of Justice Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness


http://www.firearmstactical.com/hwfe.htm


Their conclusions

"Physiologically, no caliber or bullet is certain to incapacitate any individual unless the brain is hit. Psychologically, some individuals can be incapacitated by minor or small caliber wounds. Those individuals who are stimulated by fear, adrenaline, drugs, alcohol, and/or sheer will and survival determination may not be incapacitated even if mortally wounded.

The will to survive and to fight despite horrific damage to the body is commonplace on the battlefield, and on the street. Barring a hit to the brain, the only way to force incapacitation is to cause sufficient blood loss that the subject can no longer function, and that takes time. Even if the heart is instantly destroyed, there is sufficient oxygen in the brain to support full and complete voluntary action for 10-15 seconds.

Kinetic energy does not wound. Temporary cavity does not wound. The much discussed "shock" of bullet impact is a fable and "knock down" power is a myth. The critical element is penetration. The bullet must pass through the large, blood bearing organs and be of sufficient diameter to promote rapid bleeding. Penetration less than 12 inches is too little, and, in the words of two of the participants in the 1987 Wound Ballistics Workshop, "too little penetration will get you killed." Given desirable and reliable penetration, the only way to increase bullet effectiveness is to increase the severity of the wound by increasing the size of hole made by the bullet. Any bullet which will not penetrate through vital organs from less than optimal angles is not acceptable. Of those that will penetrate, the edge is always with the bigger bullet."

21 posted on 04/13/2003 7:31:11 PM PDT by happydogdesign
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To: Jim Noble
One advantage of a shotgun is that just the sound of racking a round into the chamber is distinctive enough to scare off most people. There may also be advantages depending on the laws where you live regarding gun ownership and use of deadly force in defense of self/property. You can also vary the load (anything from birdshot to slugs) to give a bit more control over penetration, etc.

Disadvantages are that it's unwieldy indoors, especially if you have narrow corridors and the like. How easily can you turn around in a hallway with your weapon at the ready?

With kids in the house, aside from the obvious of keeping the weapon out of their reach, you might also want to think about penetration. Drywall doesn't slow down a heavy slug (pistol or large shotgun pellet) much, you don't want a stray round to go through a couple of walls and injure or kill a family member.

Lethal range isn't an issue. Unless you have an unusually large house, if you and the perp can see each other, you're within range of each other's weapons (the variable is how good a shooter you/he is.)

Outside, for example guarding your property against looters after a disaster of some kind, a shotgun (or other long gun) is a lot more visible from a distance and likely to keep the bad guys from even trying.

22 posted on 04/13/2003 7:33:02 PM PDT by algol
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To: Jim Noble

As I coaxed the halibut near the boat, Darrell raised the harpoon and drove it home with savage force. The halibut immediately sounded, now battling a mortal wound, the rope attached to the harpoon and my line. In a few seconds the big fish succumbed to the inevitable and again came into sight. This time Darrell stood ready with the Coup De Gras. A muffled blast from the stainless steel 410 shotgun ended a valiant battle. Together Darrell and Norm struggled to haul in more than 130 pounds of halibut.

That's what my Dad always carried in the motorhome...about 30" total length, next to the bed. not lethal except at very close range...single shot.

23 posted on 04/13/2003 7:33:21 PM PDT by Bobber58 (whatever it takes, for as long as it takes)
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To: Jim Noble
short barreled shotgun, like the Remington 870. Choose appropiate ammo. Light loads, birdshot for inside. You don't want to blow a hole in walls and hit someone in the next room. A good gun store should be able to steer you in the right direction with ammo. Walmart has good buys on 12 gauage shotguns. 12 gauge would be my choice.

Next would be a simple revolver with 4 inch barrel, 38 special. S&W chiefs special good choice.

Either gun can benefit from Tritium sights. Nightime is most likely time of trouble.

As you get experience then choose your own.

Practice until you can load, shoot and clear jams in the dark. knowing how to shoot is extremely important. Just watch those Iraqis shoot the moon and you will see why. A gun isn't any good if you can't use it correctly.

A good course on CCW will give you all the legal stuff you need for your state. Highly recommend CCW if your state offers it, even if you don't carry. Knowledge gained will be very valuable.
24 posted on 04/13/2003 7:33:46 PM PDT by snooker
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To: 69ConvertibleFirebird
A careful investigation of the special situations that can be encountered in a home defense situation, makes any long gun, such as a shotgun a poor choice. Since the homeowner may have to navigate narrow passageways, as well as around furniture, the homeowner that uses any long gun risks having the intruder take control of the weapon due to the lenth of the barrel, allowing the intruder better chance to take control of the weapon. In low light situations an intruder can lay in wait, then wrestle the gun from the homeowner, especially if the homeowner is a woman. The best choice would be a snub nosed .357 magnum hand gun, since most intruder combat situations occuer in close quarters and within 7 feet, the intruder will be much less likely to releive the homeowner of his .357 snub nose, as opposed to any long barreled weapon.
25 posted on 04/13/2003 7:36:20 PM PDT by TJFLSTRAT
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To: Jim Noble
Even a 20 guage will do the trick, but use bird shot. If you have 00 Buckshot a good attorney can make a case of it.
26 posted on 04/13/2003 7:36:48 PM PDT by gortklattu
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To: Shooter 2.5
Safety with children about?

I know this isn't the ideal way to approach home defense, but I know I'm more comfortable with a weapon with a charged magazine rather than with the chamber charged. I'm not certain that the time required to chamber a round is always significant.

And I do it with a semi-auto pistol every night. Trusty AMT 1911A1 clone, a 'Hardballer' .45, with 10 round magazine inserted and ready to go.
27 posted on 04/13/2003 7:37:08 PM PDT by x1stcav (HooAhh!)
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To: Jim Noble
Consider a Springfield XD40. Another Freeper recommended it to me because of all the safety features it has (modeled after the Colt 1911) and including an indicator to show you that a round is in the chamber. They run about $350-$475 and can be found at www.gunbroker.com.
28 posted on 04/13/2003 7:37:18 PM PDT by Mean Daddy
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To: antaresequity
Certainly a more elegant way of putting it.
29 posted on 04/13/2003 7:38:39 PM PDT by x1stcav (HooAhh!)
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Interesting way to look at it. The velocity is about the same with the same caliber. The only thing missing is whether the round soft lead shot would open up as the same as a .357 mag bullet. I don't know what the weight of the shot is but I think he's correct or at least enough to sell anyone on the idea of the Shotgun/handgun aspect. My son and I started to destroy some junkyard stuff with a Bennelli and a Mossberg using buckshot and slugs and it really is a thing to watch. Awesome.
30 posted on 04/13/2003 7:38:46 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (Don't punch holes in the lifeboat)
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To: Jim Noble
I like the shotgun option, but have 2 concerns. 1) Do I like it because blowing away bad guys with a shotgun looks cool in the movies? (i.e., is this as viable an option as a handgun). 2) Can a bad guy with a handgun kill me before he is in lethal range of my shotgun?

Personally, I prefer a handgun for home defense, but that is simply because I've had more experience with handguns compared to shotgun.

The advantages of a handgun are size (easier to move around corners), operability with only one hand, and the ability to fire a lot of rounds quickly and reload quickly (assuming it's a semiauto).

If you go with a handgun, get some tritium night sites to go on the weapon (I recommend Trijicons-- $100) so you can see your sites in the dark. Also, get a tactial light like a Surefire E2E ($70) so you can identify your target in the dark. If you want, you can also get a weapon-mounted light ($150-$350).

For handgun caliber, I would choose either a 9mm, .40, .45, or 357 Sig. Each has it's advantages and disadvantages. You should pick whichever one you shoot the best and are most comfortable with. Go with a reputable manufacturer such as SIG, Glock, H&K, or Springfield.

If you get a shotgun, I'd recommend a 12 guage tactical shotgun with an 18" or 20" barrel. It's also a good idea to get a light mounted on the gun, which can cost as much as the shotgun does. For loads, a lot of people prefer either 00 buckshot or #4 buckshot for home defense. A shotgun will give you some spread, but at close ranges you'll still need to aim the weapon.

Either route you go, expect to spend about $1000 to get setup.

31 posted on 04/13/2003 7:39:26 PM PDT by Mulder (No matter how paranoid you are, you're not paranoid enough)
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To: Shooter 2.5
Unless you've got a very large house or very soundproof doors, odds are a burglar is going to hear either of those sounds (assuming a middle-of-the-night robbery). The shotgun is probably louder (can't say as I've done a comparison).

Storing a weapon with a round in the chamber isn't too bright.

Granted, I certainly wouldn't wait until I'm sure the burglar can hear me before chambering a round, I'll do that as soon as I pick up the weapon.

32 posted on 04/13/2003 7:39:52 PM PDT by algol
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To: Jim Noble
12 Gauge with slugs and buckshot can be appropriate to home defense depending upon whether you own your own home live in an apartment/condo urban suburban or rural..
Self defense loads that travel throught walls injury bystanders your main worry...after nuetralizing the threat

Get a good light for your rig... Surefire imo

I recommend the Rem 870 for a pump I wouldnt overlook the Benelli autoloader which is also good choice...imo

For handgun...a Ruger GP100 or a S&W in 357 if you are going CCW the smith 38 special in the ultra light 442 with the short barrel and a HI Viz front sight

Nothing wrong with a number of autoloading handguns as long as you get all the training and practice you need to handle one safely and effectively...the same goes for revolvers...however imo revolvers learning curve is a little less steep...

Make sure you have a good light handy and above all whatever you get practice..one hit with 38 +P is worth 100 misses with a 45 or 9mm

Looking cool in the movies has nothing to do with anything...Robert Redford is a movie star..
So is Sean Penn in real life the idiot Penn just gave away two of his loaded pistols to the criminals who stole them from his car..

Yes a bad guy can kill you inside the range of your shotgun and you could him as well...

The shotgun with double OO is basically sending many 38 cal pellets downrage everytime the trigger is pulled...its the ultimate machine gun within its limits

You need lots of training and practice..safety needs to be a real issue for you as well as envisoning your intruder scenarios..

Also get a good dog if you can...the best early warning system...needs no batteries or power to work..

Keep a cell phone near your safe area..(the place you will retreat to...dont search the house for the bad guys make them come to you ..in the open with you protected and concealed if possible..

Home defense is an area with lots of opinions both good and bad...many better than mine..so dont be afraid to seek out quality advice..from many qualified sources..

The NRA is a good place to start
33 posted on 04/13/2003 7:41:04 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: Jim Noble
I'm no gun expert, but my uncle who is, advised me that a shotgun is the best option for someone who isn't adequately trained with handguns.
34 posted on 04/13/2003 7:41:07 PM PDT by Welsh Rabbit
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To: Jim Noble
I would buy a 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun with the shortest barrel possible for home defense. Semi-automatic shotguns have the advantage of less recoil over pump action. Be sure to get the shortest shotgun possible with a pistol grip included. The shorter the shotgun the better. I don't know the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearm laws on how short a shotgun can be.
35 posted on 04/13/2003 7:41:20 PM PDT by 2nd_Amendment_Defender ("It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains." -- Patrick Henry)
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To: TJFLSTRAT
opposed to any long barreled weapon.

This is why he recommended a sawed-off 12 guage shotgun.

36 posted on 04/13/2003 7:42:03 PM PDT by 69ConvertibleFirebird (Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.)
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To: Jim Noble
Winchester Defender 20 gauge with #2 buck 3 inch shells is my choice. It's ideal for my street, with houses close together, and the wife can handle a 20 gauge. The barrel is minimum legal length, which is good for close quarters and has enough power to stop anybody at indoor range.

If there is a lefty in the house, consider an Ithaca model 37.
37 posted on 04/13/2003 7:42:25 PM PDT by c-five
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To: mtbrandon49
I am partial to a Remington 870, 12 gauge, loaded with 00 Buckshot.

My problem with using 00 buck indoors is that any shot that miss will go right through drywall and still have plenty of energy left over to kill or seriously injure someone on the other side. You don't want to have to think about missing your target, but anything can happen when your life's on the line and the adrenaline is flowing.

I have a Mossberg 500A 12-gauge, with an 18-inch barrel and a ghost ring sight, and I keep it loaded with #4 shot. At indoor ranges, that's plenty enough punch so that anything I hit with it is, at best, going to seriously question the wisdom of continuing to threaten myself or my property.

38 posted on 04/13/2003 7:42:29 PM PDT by CFC__VRWC
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To: algol
Storing a weapon with a round in the chamber isn't too bright.

If you don't keep a round chambered, it will cost you a couple of seconds and the use of your weak hand which may or may not present problems.

39 posted on 04/13/2003 7:43:20 PM PDT by Mulder (No matter how paranoid you are, you're not paranoid enough)
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Comment #40 Removed by Moderator

To: Jim Noble
Also, be sure you get some firearm training and practice often. Don't go more than 45 days without going to the shooting range.
41 posted on 04/13/2003 7:44:44 PM PDT by 2nd_Amendment_Defender ("It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains." -- Patrick Henry)
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To: 2nd_Amendment_Defender
Unless the law's changed recently, the feebs require that a shotgun's barrel be at least 18 inches in length. FWIW, this is the law that they were trying to "sting" Randy Weaver with, in the events leading up to Ruby Ridge.
42 posted on 04/13/2003 7:45:45 PM PDT by CFC__VRWC
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To: x1stcav
I notice it's never an kid issue when "the sound of a shotgun shell being chambered will make the bad guy #### his pants".

It's just plain stupid to be that close to a home invader to suddenly decide the gun should be loaded. It's cheap Hollywood stuff.
43 posted on 04/13/2003 7:46:43 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (Don't punch holes in the lifeboat)
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: Jim Noble
I'd suggest a .20 gauge pump-action shotgun loaded with birdshot. Enough to knock an idiot out of his shoes, but not enough to do much damage to the walls of your house or innocent people who might be behind them.

Also, because you're acting in a pressure situation you might want to buy yourself a good, heavy bat while you're at it. You might not be able to reach your gun and get it loaded, but you can always pick up a Louisville Slugger to swing.

45 posted on 04/13/2003 7:51:15 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: antaresequity
>>The pumping of the slide is such an ominous and distinctive sound it scares the crap out of 99.99% of those that hear and understand they might be on the receiving end of a close quarters load of buckshot...<<

Well, that's an attractive proposition, all right.

I'm trying to think beyond that to the cold hard fact that I intend to use the weapon to kill an intruder.

that was the basis of my question about lethal range, which has been well answered here. Thanks.

46 posted on 04/13/2003 7:51:31 PM PDT by Jim Noble
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To: algol
The only sound the burglar should hear if he's that close is the whispered phone conversation with the dispatcher as you cradle your shotgun pointed at the entranceway.
47 posted on 04/13/2003 7:51:53 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (Don't punch holes in the lifeboat)
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To: Jim Noble
For me the presence of the kids changes the equation a bit. If you do decide to go with a pistol remember that it takes quite a bit more training - practice, practice, practice, and then more practice, to quote pistolero Jeff Cooper - and is much more the sort of thing the kiddies can get into trouble playing with.

I'd recommend a lockbox, one with the provision for quick access of a loaded pistol. Browning, Mossberg, Liberty, and many others make pistol boxes answering this description. My personal choice is a GunVault, as it has finger grooves, a large number of potential combinations, and "goes to sleep" after six incorrect tries (meaning it must then be opened by key). That keeps little fingers from guessing the right combination.

A shotgun, OTOH, has a couple of advantages - it is less likely to be misused by kiddies (even chambering a round may be beyond a child's strength and Mossberg's 500 has a button that must be pressed in addition to racking the action). It isn't lockable in the same way, however, but at close quarters is devastating no matter what you've loaded it with.

Birdshot is marginally safer than buckshot but at close range both are a nearly solid mass. You don't get much of a spread on birdshot at inside-the-house ranges. Which means that you still have to hit what you shoot at. All calibers have less of an overpenetration problem if they have to pass through the chest cavity of a bad guy...

48 posted on 04/13/2003 7:52:25 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: algol
If there is a thug in my house, I don't wanna be racking the slide to scare him... He can listen to the slide rack after he is shot the first time. I personally want the element of surprise if I can have it and to not be fumbling with loading the weapon.
49 posted on 04/13/2003 7:53:50 PM PDT by Noslrac
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To: Mulder
I'll keep a round chambered if I expect to be in a combat situation on short notice -- in which case I'm probably not sleeping, either, and the gun is in my hand.

If the gun is not in my hand (or holster, if I were carrying), then I don't want a round in the chamber.
50 posted on 04/13/2003 7:54:28 PM PDT by algol
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