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Biden aside, don’t forget the scattergun in your safe

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The duck gun in the closet. It’s perhaps one of the most common firearms in any American home. Whether it’s an heirloom passed down from grandpa gathering dust in the coat rack, or a fully tricked out turkey buster, most see the humble shotgun as being as harmless as a doorstop, or a useful tool to plink a few birds for supper.

But the common scattergun has been overshadowed in recent years by the “modern sporting rifle”. With its sleek looks, easy handling and an ability to change form and shape as the mission warrants, the AR-15-style rifle is by far the highest selling and most popular firearm in America.

While it might be a stretch to call the modern sporting rifle as versatile as the shotgun, many AR owners are justifying their $2,000 purchase by claiming the .223-firing rifle is a great weapon for defending their family in the home. But is it?

With all eyes on the AR-15 these days, most have forgotten about the usefulness of a shotgun and its ability to morph from a deer killer, to pheasant buster to master of the clays — all with the easy change of a barrel. And today’s shotguns have a variety of accessories and options that can turn that old scattergun into a formidable home defense weapon.

While AR-15s look cool and shoot great, many experts say it’s overkill in a home defense mode and that the shotgun (and to some extent, the handgun) offer a far better option to keep your family safe when your castle’s been breached.

Even America’s current vice president and self-appointed gun expert Joe Biden says a sturdy double barrel is a better option than an AR, right? (insert sarcastic tone)…But don’t take his word for it.

“The [AR] gives you a lot of rounds, but the problem is … if you shoot somebody, it’s going to go through him, through the wall and across the street and into your neighbor’s house and possibly hurt somebody else,” said Brandon Wright, senior firearms instructor at the West Point, Va.-based G4S International Training school. “For stopping power, for intimidation, for being able to stop the threat immediately, the shotgun is going to be the way to go.”

With its lack of long-range penetration, per-shot hit ratio, reliability and cost it’s hard to beat the shotgun as a primary home defense weapon. And while the AR-15 is much easier to shoot and holds 30-rounds of ‘get the heck out’ in its well, the danger of overpenetrating and injuring someone nearby as well as its single shot nature could make it more of a liability in a heat-of-the-moment fight than a lifesaver.

Besides, even the worst shot can get at least some lead on target — even at extended ranges.

“The advantage of the shotgun is that with one shot of XX buck you’ll get nine rounds on target,” Wright said. “And it’s spreading out is going to give you more of an area to damage and hurt, rather than one small .223 round.”

So ARs may be all the rage these days — and justifiably so. But don’t forget about that old duck gun sitting in your closet. While it might be considered the best tool for bringing fowl to the table, underneath that humble exterior lurks a formidable defender of you and your loved ones.

The argument about best weapon for home defense is only slightly less common (and contentious) than that of AK vs. AR, et al. Here Christian Lowe revisits the topic of employing the (formerly ubiquitous?) shotgun for family protection. Look for alternate views and responses in the future. We encourage intelligent and respectful debate in the comments section below.  David Reeder

About the author: Christian Lowe is a journalist holed up in the anti-gun capital of the United States. He has covered the military and tactical industry for over a decade and maintains a healthy fear of the coming zombie apocalypse in hopes of improving his shooting and survival skills.

For some more looks at shotgun employment, check out ITI's training page or follow them on Facebook and YouTube. You check out this series of videos on TEOTWAKI Blog about various reloading styles, or check out this video from Bill Jeans courtesy of Panteao Productions.

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