Do Shotguns Suck?


I been meaning to share a post from Sunshine Shooter for a while to help draw attention to his website but keep forgetting. So today is a guest post from his site.

This is the first installment of a new series we’re calling Crossfire. In this series, we’ll feature a topic and two separate authors who have opposing opinions on the subject each present their case. It’s your job as the reader to tell us in the comments who you think laid out the better case.

To make it fair, we will both be writing our portions before reading the other’s.

So, Dear Reader, read on and tell us in the comments what you think.

Ozone: Why Shotguns Suck

When asked “what gun should I use for home defence” or listening to fuddery at my local IDPA match. People always bring up the time old classic shotgun as an answer to the problem of someone trying to be somewhere they should not be. However in my humble and not qualified opinion let me lay out why they quite frankly….suck. If you set aside the lore of one ounce of lead drops all, the pump is 100% reliable, the sound scares off evil do-ers, you don’t have to aim. ECT. The shotgun really does not answer any problem a rifle or pistol can solve.

Lets first discuss the accuracy issue. Shotgun sights are typically crude or not very precise. Much less able to be adjusted for zeroing. Raise your hand if you have ever patterned your shotgun at all, let alone used different loads at various distances to see what the ol scatter gun is doing? At 3 to 7 yards most will pattern in a small circle then open widley past 10- 15 yards.(unless you are using federal flight control, in which case it will be a lot tighter.) Which leads us to ammo selection. Your favorite September 1st Dove load is not suitable for self defence. It lacks the penetration and weight to be effective. Buckshot or slugs need to be used. Then the argument of over penetration comes back into play just as it would with a centerfire rifle or pistol round. Buckshot is just as capable of going through residential walls as your rifle but is less accurate. 

So once you get your shotgun dialed in and load the combo set. The next issue that arises is ammo capacity and the ability to reload quickly. Most big box shotguns hold 3 or 4 +1 rounds, granted some “tactical models’ ‘ do have slightly higher capacity, space in a tube is limited. Even the newer magazine fed shotguns are limited to 5 or 10 rounds before the magazine gets so ridiculous and cumbersome they lose the necessary maneuverability to be effective in anything other than a 3 gun match. Give me 20-30 rounds in a compact pmag anyday. **quad load in the garage guy has entered the chat with bloody fingers and spilt rounds at his feet.**

Barrel length is also a concern the longer barrels help your reach out but clearing hallways with a 26” goose gun isn’t ideal and that mossberg shockwave pistol grip things….good luck trying to accurately aim. Iv tried and maybe you are more skilled than me but it wasn’t good.

Next on to reliability. Yes manual operated actions are cool and fun in movies and at the range, but under duress of just a timer not an actual conflict I have seen,and done it myself, short stroked a pump action and induced jams or FTF. “GeT MoAr TrAinIng” guy has entered the chat. Semi Autos are a good solution but the plastic shells can deform over time and mushroom. This can also cause malfunctions in pump or gas operated systems. 

While a proofed out, patterned and well maintained shotgun in a well trained and experienced shooter is a formidable force. The steep learning curve and ergonomic drawbacks lead me to believe they are not the answer for everyone and kinds just suck.

**guy who takes everything personal and doesn’t pick up on tongue in cheek articles on the internet well has entered the chat/comments below**

Sunshine_Shooter: Why Shotguns Kinda Rock


First off, the limited capacity of a shotgun isn’t that big of a deal. Yes, 3 rounds is dumb, but most pump guns have removable magazine blocks that can be removed to bump that number up to 5 or 6. Six rounds doesn’t sound much better, but we’re not talking about pistols here. We’re not talking about tiny little varmint guns or poodle shooters, either. We’re talking about power. We’re talking about “putting a hole through a man that a beer can will fit through”-power. A 12-gauge shotgun (aka, 95% of all of them) has a bore so wide that to rifle it would classify the weapon as a destructive device.

When you’re shooting 00 buckshot, it’s equivalent to shooting a 15-round burst from a 9mm sub machine gun. Yes, if you’re a bad shot then you can waste all of your ammo into nothing in no time flat, but that also means you can absolutely dump tons of lead in a hurry. Considering that most of us will only ever need a firearm in a situation that loosely follows the rule of 3’s (three feet, 3 rounds, 3 seconds), I find that “limiting factor” to be pretty moot.


Shotguns can’t be beat on price. Low pressure cartridges mean the barrels can be thinner than a rifle, which also means less expensive to produce. When you’re talking about a pump action, a good, high quality weapon can be had for much less than a comparably good handgun. You will not find a rifle in that price range worth purchasing. You can use your extra cash on upgrades (red dot, magazine extension, weaponlight, etc), training, or just on ammo.

Oh, and the ammo is super cheap too. You can buy cheap 12 ga ammo for less than cheap .223, and comparably priced to handgun ammo. The key to overcoming a shotgun’s limitations is through practice, and that includes live fire.

When you branch out of pump actions, the price quickly escalates. Some of the most expensive production guns around are in fact shotguns, but they are not the defense-oriented pieces you & I are interested in.


Recoil sucks. It slows your split times (time between shots) and it hurts. If you have a lot of recoil, then it hurts a lot. Shotguns, since they put out a lot of lead, have a lot of recoil. It’s the price you pay, and physics doesn’t help us out here.

There are techniques and skills you can use and develop to help mitigate that recoil, but I am no expert in them. It will require practice. Thankfully the ammo is cheap, so it won’t hurt your wallet as much as your shoulder while you learn.


What do you think? Are shotguns a good idea? A bad idea? Let us know in the comments below.

We’ll see you next week.


Check out his inferior website below


  1. a) a goose gun doesn’t have a 26″ barrel. That’s a skeet gun. A goose gun has a 28 to 30″ barrel.

    But why are you using a goose gun for home defense? That’s like using a hammer to remove a Phillips-head screw.

    For $300 or so, a guy can find short-barreled (18.5 to 20″ long), often cylinder-bored pump guns in the used gun market easily. They’re not pretty, they’re not useful for hunting or clay sports. They’re meant for the home defense situation. This is the truth about shotguns: For people of limited means, who want a weapon that is highly effective with minimal training, a shotgun can, with the correct choice of ammunition, deliver the best terminal effect for the limited funds. First, quit obsessing about all the latest Eye-talian “tactical” guns in the glossy magazines.

    No, friends, look in the used gun market. With a caveat that “until this summer,” every gun dealer who handles used guns has an old, American-named (or even American-made) short-barrel pump shotgun with plain wood or plastic stock in the gun rack that is unloved and unnoticed by gun buyers, and carries a price to reflect that. Go find a Winchester 1200 or 1300, or a Mossberg Maverick 88. No one notices them, no one loves them. Why? No sex appeal and no models wearing push-up bras in glossy magazines holding them in a 6-page article, that’s why. If you’re looking in the new-production market, there are Turkish-made shotguns with short barrels, no-frills furniture and plain finishing that can be had cheaply – cheaper than a competent handgun can be had.

    b) 2.75″ 00 buck rounds usually have nine (9) 0.33″, 60-grain diameter pellets. There are some newer rounds by Winchester and others that have as many as twelve (12) 0.33″, 60-grain pellets. To get to 15 pellets, you’d need to be shooting 3″ magnums.

    c) An educated shotgun shooter wouldn’t be using 00 buckshot inside a house, because any pellet that doesn’t hit a tubby human target will soon be outside the house and potentially causing problems for said homeowners. An educated shotgun shooter would be using #4 buckshot. Makes a fine mess without having so much energy in each pellet so as to penetrate all your walls on the way out of your house and penetrate all your neighbor’s exterior walls on the way into their house.

    d) If you live in such a palace or mansion as to have the problem of aiming over 7 yards, then by all means, get a rifle. Might as well get a Sharps reproduction in .45-70. That oughta have the terminal ballistics you need. Hell, if you’re able to afford a house where you have even one room with a 10-yard range from one side to another, why are you worried about shotguns vs. anything else. Hire that job done – you’ve got enough money to hire your own private security to handle intruders.

    • Mr. DG, since you are on this post I have three questions.
      1. On topic, what is your opinion on 1.75″ mini shells for defensive use?
      2. Off topic have you seen any Anvil Gunsmithing videos either on C&Rsenal or his new channel and do you have an opinion on Mark and his work?
      3. Are you going to post more on your blog?

      • – I have not used any mini-shells. Haven’t been able to see any locally. I’ve read of them, they sound like an interesting idea, but I just haven’t been able to get my hands on a small box of them to try out, so I have no opinion at this time.

        – Yes, I’ve seen Mark’s work at C&Rsenal’s video site. He does nice work, and I’m guessing he’s a classically trained ‘smith from the way he goes about things. He’s used to working on older, nice guns too.

        – I’ll eventually post more on my blog, such as it is. I haven’t put up more there because I got messing around with learning how to put pictures and video into a blog posting, and went down that rabbit trail, and was fiddling with that and… just sort of wandered off into writing large Word documents with pictures in them. I get distracted at times.

  2. Even using a 00 Buck shell, it’s not remotely close to “a burst from a 9mm submachinegun.”
    Each pellet is far closer to 32 ACP (or, better, 7.65mm French Long) than 9 Luger. And you do get 8-9 of them, unless you’re using 3″ magnum shells (but why would you do that when 2.75 works just fine?), so you’re really more getting a short burst from a Vz. 61, or a MAS-38
    If you do the sensible thing and go for a #1 Buck, you’re somewhere between 32 ACP and 25 ACP…albeit with 12-15 pellets per shell rather than 8-9.
    Pity Federal discontinued their Flite Control #1 Buck load, too. Though I hear the 8-pellet 00 Buck Flite Control is pretty good.

    • +1 on 00 buck closer to 32 acp.

      #1 buck — a pellet equals roughly a half weight 7.62 Nagant

      And #4 buck is like shooting ~27 shots of 22lr.

  3. Ammo cost? Bird shor isn’t to bad, but good buck shot isn’t much cheaper than 5.56.

    I used to be all for the shot gun, but I have long switch to a semi rifle or kesver gun.

    Realistically hone invasions are almost always multiple intruders. A fast firing, low recoil rifle is a far better tool for that.

    Shotguns have a place and are still better than pistols, but an AR, Mini14, AK, etc with a light and a dot is orders of magnitude better.

  4. Shotguns don’t suck, but I’d go for a handgun. Easy to store, easy to access, easy to manoeuvre. Also, I’m familiar with handguns while only ever fired one round from a shotgun in my entire life.

  5. The major drawbacks of shotguns are recoil and capacity. Recoil can be mitigated somewhat by gauge choice, but all the best defensive loads are in 12 gauge, so the advantages of the shotgun start to skid off rapidly from there also.

    If you and everybody in your family can manage a 12 gauge, go for it. Grab one of the ones with a capacity of 6 or more and capacity is unlikely to cause you any problems in life.


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