View Full Version : Primary defensive shotgun choice funnel; a bit of the old 'semi vs.pump' thrown in

02-17-2004, 10:41 AM
As I cannot leave long guns out and ready for use in my home (have a new 8 year old stepdaughter) any longer, my focus has shifted to my .45auto (locked in a small case under the bed) as my primary go-to weapon while at home. I believe however that a long gun can and should be available to compliment when time and circumstance allows, and that defensive need is currently best met by a shotgun.

My objective is a defensive relatively short ranged PDW to compliment/back up/take over for my current handgun when applicable, and can be had for an amount that is (current) budget friendly. It must be tough/robust and reliable, and of course good shooting and accurate. (I know, I know....) Going forward, it would be nice to be able to use pull double duty as a decent 3Gun competition shotgun or similar shooting sport that I would like to try.

I've looked at the great bargains that the 870 Express #5077 18" 7 shot offers ($289 new!), and that model is very tempting indeed, as are your 590a1's (almost Marine-proof); both can be Vang comped easily enough making them both exceptional. I've come to the conclusion however that I like the idea of being able to shoot relatively fast from all positions including the prone (options are good), so the semi's seem to be the obvious choice. I'm willing to trade some risk of error with a good semi for that prone flexibility and fast firing to get it, and immediate action drills are almost second nature to this former Marine.

I cannot afford an BenelliM3/M4 and even the Rem LE 1187's are higher in price than the two choices listed originally, and the 1187 seems to have some reliability issues (o rings?). The newer FN police doens't appeal to me; neither does any gee whiz-looking gun for that matter. That being said....the choice funnel is narrowed to be the jungle gun and the 1201FP (and ?).

The 9200A1 is of course a mil-spec gas-operated semi that seems to have a good reputation of robustness and reliability. Detractions included only a 4 shot mag (though there are mag extensions out there that will fit apparently) and only a bead sight stock. Vang comp will modify the stock barrel if wanted for his standard fee. Robust seems to fit this shotgun as an apt description.

The 1201FP can be had for about the same price (higher $400's and up), and as it uses the Benelli M1 inertia (recoil) action, is reliable from (most) accounts. Not Mil-spec tough, but not a Barbie gun by any means. 5 shot mag (only) after 1999, many come with ghost ring rears and tritium fronts stock, older versions seem to come with 3 dot rifle sights and 6 shot mags. It seems this weapon is more akin to a fine-tuned Porsche-a somewhat tempermental but slickpiece of engineering. Cannot be Vang comp'ed with stock barrel, Vang says they are too thin so a new one must be used ($500+ opposed to the $220 for barrels that are thick enough).

(As to the Vang comments: I like the idea of compressing shotgun shot further than is normally done, making it useful for even some close (sensitive) shots as well as more effective much further out. Perhaps it's too much of a good thing with regards to close in, I dunno. But, here it is again, the idea of making the shotgun more flexible, more capable, is appealing to considering that for me, the shotty would be the primary defensive weapon used when there's time enough to take any long guns out.)

Thoughts and suggestions appreciated.



02-17-2004, 11:55 AM
I run a 1201FP.

The 1201FP is lightweight, shoulders quickly and, while no 1100 for comfort, is far from torture to fire. The improved cylinder barrel is a reasonable choke compromise. The stock rifle sights are not particlarly fast to acquire, however.

Since I'm no pro, an autoloader was my only choice for a defensive shotgun. The risks of my short-stroking a pump gun outweighed my concerns of inadequate grasp of a recoil-operated semiauto. (Realistic or not, I didn't want to mess with changing O rings.)
At one point, I viewed a defensive shotgun tape from Gunsite and saw the instructor short-stroke his fancy 870. I figured if this guy, who probably fires more rounds in a week than I do in a decade, botched a pump, a ham n' egger like me was sure to do the same!

Vig Creed
02-17-2004, 12:13 PM
In my part of the country used 870's are common and priced right. Cut the barrel to 18"+, add $30 front bead nite sight and a mag extension and there you go. About $200 total.

For another $75 or so, you can have a screw-in choke installed for long shots.

My 18 3/4" 870 with screw-in full choke will keep six out eight Super-X OOO Buck on an IPSC target at 50 YARDS. Never have used a Vang, but from the numbers I've seen, they don't do much, if any, better than a standard full-choke.

Never have short-stroked one in about 40 years of use. Learned from the beginning to always rack the slide all the way back hard, then slam it back forward hard. Always works.


Lee P. Lapin
02-17-2004, 03:18 PM
Have you considered the long recoil operated Browning Auto 5? Good used examples are usually readily available, and the design has been used as a fighting shotgun since at least WW2. I'd stick to screw in choke tubes, with the forcing cone extended while the 'smith is at it. Good used examples hereabouts run $400 or so. Haven't messed with a Browning trademark version but the +2 mag extensions which fit Remington 870/1100/11-87s fit my 18" barreled 1920s era Remington Model 11 (remember, no barrel clamps on these). Speedloading it would not be an easy drill tho.

As for versatility there are always extra barrels for an easy- to- strip shotgun... .


02-17-2004, 06:08 PM
For MY use and IMHO shotguns get way over-done. All kinds of wiz-bang gizmos for what should be a very straight forward and simple weapon.

For ME, MYSELF, and I the shotgun must be a family-friendly defense weapon. I try to picture my wife or oldest daughter waking in the middle of the night to an intruder and needing to employ the weapon. They need (as I do in said scenario) simplicity. They shoot but not as often as I do nor do they have the training and experience I have with firearms and tactics.

I would in no way discount for MY type purposes a break-action single shot or double bbl scattergun. Preference given to the double. You can get fine quality guns from Stoeger and EAA in "coach" set-up that are ideal for home defense. And an NEF single runs about $100 new and often can be found for $50-75 used. The NEF will require a tube reduction.

I say this because for either my wife or daughter, these weapons provide very straight forward use and sureness of action. They load simply and it is very easy to know that the weopon is ready to fire.

For ME I prefer a pump as I have trained, carried, and used them for years. Mostly 870's which are an awesome gun and readily available, although I prefer the later production Mossbergs with a tang safety. But as I said, a pump is a bit much for the ENTIRE family from a dead sleep. So I look to what they feel comfortable with and can practically employ.

Inside the home, 7 1/2 birdshot is plenty sufficient and there is no reason to stoke buck shot unless longer ranges are expected. Lower recoil and still massive impact at the ranges an in-the-house encounter will present.

So the point to all this rambling is, what is the overall purpose of the weapon? For ME the shotgun is for than just my gun, it is the family's gun and so I must adjust accordingly.

Now that doesn't mean I don't have a pump lying in wait. :)

02-17-2004, 09:17 PM
With practice the pump and auto are equal,the pump will short stoke and the auto will jam, 6 of one half dozen of the other, pick one you like and like any other toy in the box practice,, for grins and giggles when the new guys are going thru the academy shotgun triaing and bitchen about the 870, I bring out my old Ithaca Auto-10ga "Roadblocker" with the 18" bbl that was issued to me a 100 years ago.NOW YOU WANT TO TALK RECOIL :p

Vig Creed
02-18-2004, 09:35 AM
Inside the home, 7 1/2 birdshot is plenty sufficient and there is no reason to stoke buck shot unless longer ranges are expected. Lower recoil and still massive impact at the ranges an in-the-house encounter will present.


I investigated a 20ga birdshot shooting at fairly close range and it took 3 COM torso shots to put the BG down (and he survived). Birdshot isn't nearly as effective as people imagine.

In addition, there is no gurantee that all defense shots will be inside at close range.

Bottom line: OO Buck, OOO Buck and slugs are what I use and recomend for self-defense.


02-18-2004, 01:36 PM
I think for average joe homeowner a double with some kind of shell carrier on stock may be the way to go. Can leave shotgun unloaded with hammers snapped so no spring tension. And double is quick to load. With auto or semi auto with shells in magazine would probably want to unload periodically to check status and assure shells were not crushed from being in magazine. As pointed out by other poster operation of double is simple for non gun person or any person under stress.

02-19-2004, 03:49 PM
The best shotgun, rifle, pistols,and/or knife for anyone is the one they can handle the best. Sure we all have our favorites, and we are all right= for us! Best thing one can do is try out as many weapons as they can. I have no problem with the double barrel variety. I have one over the back door to grab as I head out to see what is going on. I know that is what my mother would prefer. SO don't get caught up on what the other guy says works for him, find out what works for you. I rather have a gun I know and am comfortable with than the newest wis-bang gaget guru wonder thang a mugjig. Like the old saying= beware of the man with only one gun- he knows how to use it!

02-19-2004, 07:25 PM
Doc-thanks for posting. Any reliability or ammo sensitive issues with your 1201? How's the patterning?

Vig-thanks too for posting. As you seem to be very confident in your pump shooting, how do you feel about prone shooting with it? As of now, shooting the prone position is a valuable option for me (who says I should always have to stand up, or even crouch for that matter, to to tell them where I am/present a larger target?), and that is the pump's largest detraction for me-even over such proven designs as the 590/870, etc. While I'm sure I could cycle a pump in the prone position, it would be ackward. It may even be a moot point as most (definsive) situations might not get the opportunity to shoot in the prone (I frankly don't know), but in my mind, options are good, and the option of being a smaller, hard-to-see target for an offensive bad guy without giving up shooting ability/speed is....appealing as one of those options. Am I thinking too much?

Lee-thanks to for posting and no, I haven't considered an Auto 5 as I didn't really know much about them. After looking at your post however, I did a bit of research on them and they seem like a good weapon with a good reputation. However, most examples I've seen for sale seem to be of the treasured sporting variety, even to the point of intricate carving, etc., and are priced accordingly. That kind of puts them out of the reasonably priced requirement for now (but puts them into the "keep an eye on 'em for a good deal" catagory though :) ).

Thanks for everyone's input; it's appreciated, as is the forum itself.


Vig Creed
02-20-2004, 09:16 AM

The chance of having to use a shotgun prone is very slim. Never knew anyone who had to. Self-defense shooting situations are typically over in seconds. So it's usually a grab-your-gun-and-shoot type thing, with no time for much else.

A semi-auto would no doubt be easier to use prone, but a pump should work OK. I believe Gabe teaches how to do it in his Tactical Shotgun book.

02-21-2004, 06:09 AM
While prone is definitely a skill to have under your belt, we don't live in a static, flat, unobstacled world. Going prone, in my house for example, would immediately limit my vision and field of fire.
In other words, I'm not sure how often a situation would allow a clear shot from prone. Also, it takes time to get prone and it takes time to get up from prone, your mobility is compromised. Of course your environment may vary.
As far as incoming fire, wasn't there a statistic about bullet travel after hitting a hard surface like the ground (concrete, asphalt)? IIRC, the bullet will move along the ground at about 6" height until it loses it's energy?? Does anyone remember this?

My .02

02-21-2004, 09:02 AM
It depends upon the ammo used and the angle the bullet strikes a hard surface, but a general rule of thumb is the bullet will travel 6-18" from the hard surface after impact.

02-23-2004, 11:21 PM
Thanks all for taking the time to respond-good info on this board again!

FWIW, though I still wanted a good semi even despite the good info posted here by you folks, I came across a too-good-to-pass-up deal on an 870 Magnum, already nicely equipped with tritium ghost rings, Giles sling and mag extension, so I purchased it knowing I couldn't go wrong and am quite happy regardless :)

Thanks again.

Cruc, first time 870 owner, Cruc

03-09-2004, 06:24 AM

Prone is my preferred fighting position. Certainly was in Viet Nam. BUT.....

With my present medical condition and being to damned fat I will be standing/crouching to fight. I was all right until the knee's went.

If I ever went prone or even to a Knee, I would not be able to maneuver any more.

So that is no longer a practical choice for me.

Shoot and scoot will have to be my tactics from now on. Even though my scoot isn't what it used to be, I can still shoot real well. Accuracy has thus, become of primary importance for me. I had better get him down as fast as I can.

My primary Home Defense weapon is a 590 with Winchester 00 buck 2 3/4 magnums. Backed up with the primary Home defense handgun, SIG 226 and/or my CCW 228.

I just got a marlin 16" 1994 'guide' model. I may make this a Home defense option.

And there is the Garand (7.62 NATO) with a sling of clips. if the shit should get more than boot top deep.

But for the foreseeable future I will go with the 590.


Semper Fidelis