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Do you need a rifle for "SHTF"? Will a shotgun suffice?

Discussion in 'Survival/Preparedness Forum' started by Landmonster, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Landmonster


    Oct 9, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Forgive me if this is a noob post. This is a serious question, and not a sarcastic one.

    This is something I've often wondered about, since I own both a rifle and shotgun. I'm a little confused on their ideal applications.

    1) Do you need a rifle for a defensive situation in "SHTF", or will a shotgun suffice? How do you define "need"?

    2) What kinds of particular defensive situations dictate using a rifle rather than a shotgun?

    The reason I ask, is mainly because of cost. When most people talk about defensive rifles for "SHTF", they are talking about AR15s or other auto-loading military-style rifles. A good quality AR15 or other comparable rifle system is easily twice the cost of any shotgun, after you factor in magazines.

    As you all know, a shotgun like a basic Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 or 590 runs $300-500, and does not require any additional magazines or special tools to function.

    You get the ability to hold 6+ rounds, and fire slugs, buck-shot, bird-shot, and/or specialty rounds, given your circumstances and needs. All for under $500 in a very reliable platform.

    The question is... for what circumstances or defensive situations would you require an AR15 or other auto-loading battle rifle instead of a shotgun?
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  2. ancient_serpent


    Jun 6, 2008
    There are much better qualified and more eloquent people here to answer your post, but I'll give my opinion.

    Hope I was helpful.

  3. inzone


    Aug 20, 2009 should always try to get two of both...for redundancy and also to arm a buddy or two or three... it isn't just about the weapon or the is also about force multipliers.... none of us are as strong as all of us and I think that best stratgey is to always be thinking of your weapons and how you can arm trusted family/friends, etc.... in that vein, it is much easier to teach a novice or person who is not a marksman to be reasonably accurate with a shotgun than a rifle...a shotgun still must be carefully aimed however it is much more forgiving and the learning curve for cqb fighting ranges is much shorter than for a rifle.... also, a shotgun is generally more effective for low light and no light conditions and especially if you are defending in place, it is wise to have a rifle and a shotgun and keep them loaded. That is why I buy up the single shot shotguns when I find them and also surplus bolt rifles and so forth... BUT you still need a rifle two! In my AO I have set it up that I can provide at least one MBR and plenty of ammo and at least one shotgun to each person and then set them up in good defensive positions with high ground and cover and concealment. If an attacking group tries to give you the bum's rush then you can switch as needed from MBR's to shotguns, or alternate with one firing a rifle and another firing a scattergun. The buckshot and ball loads I think are particularly effective. just some thoughts....
  4. Landmonster


    Oct 9, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Ok Ancient. Why do you feel the necessity to spend $1200 rifle on a system, rather than use your $300 Mossberg 500?
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  5. Cali-Glock

    Cali-Glock Mountain Man

    Feb 11, 2002
    California Sierra Mnts
    Personally if I could have only one gun it would be a Mossberg 590 with Ghost Ring sights.

    Shotguns are never great at long distances, but with some sights and decent slugs, I sure would not want to be at the receiving end at 100 yards.
  6. cyrsequipment

    cyrsequipment Angry

    Aug 8, 2004

    A shotgun is a great self-defense weapon. Learn to use it and IF you are even in a SHTF "event" keep a low profile and only use your weapon in defense of your life (kinda like you'd do now).

    It ain't gonna be Mad Max...
    Glockworks likes this.
  7. I can answer that from my perspective. At one hundred yards, I can put 20 rounds of 75gr 556 (traveling at 2800 fps) in a five inch circle in less than 8 seconds. Do I think that I am special? No...but I would like to see someone do that with a Mossberg.

    Do I think the AR is better than the Mossberg? Thats a negative also. Guns are tools, use the right one for the task. All things being equal, I would rather the AR be my multitool.
    BlackhawkFan likes this.
  8. I put a scope on my 1187 a few years ago. I wanted to take a deer with it...but decided the slugs hurt my shoulder more than my 300 Win Mag. I will never shoot slugs again if I dont have to.
  9. Arvinator


    Jan 16, 2011
    Not so much for the SHTF reasons most think of, but for spares if one breaks down, and not be stuck with ammo and no gun, I have adopted Clint Smith's old saying "One is none, two is one".
    I have a pair of 12 ga. shotguns, and a pair of .22 rifles, etc...

    if one goes down, there is a spare. IF you consider a shotgun only, then I'd buy several and two for slugs only...
  10. Stupid


    Oct 26, 2005
    I am very anti-shotgun, particularly pump action shotgun. :)

    Why Pump Action Shotgun Is Not The Best Self-Defense Weapon?
    Because I am stupid...

    I personally don't like to use pump-action shotgun as my self-defense weapon for the following reasons:

    1. It's slow to shoot.

    No matter how much you practice, it is slow to shoot because you have to work the pump. In our bird hunting trips, friends with pump-action shotguns often have trouble delivering follow-up shots because they have to work the pump. Those of us, who carry semis, have no such headache.

    2. You have to work the pump.
    a. When you rake the pump slide and your shotgun generates this chung ching sound. I know this sounds cool in the movies, but the reality is much harsher than what you want to believe. When some bad guy hears this sound, he would do one of the three things: run if he still has any common sense, wait until you fire at him if he's so stoned out or fire at the sound if he is desperate and has a gun. When I am in a gun fight, I like all the possible odds to be at my favor. I DO NOT want to give him the chance to know my position by the stupid chung ching.

    b. Cool, you load your shotgun beforehand and only flip off the safety to ready your weapon. Great move! Now, after the first shot and the threat is still there, what do you must do? Right, work the pump again instead of instantaneous follow-up shots!

    c. For untrained users, (how many of us are really well trained?) working the pump action often moves the gun away from the intended target. Very often the operator tends to under-pump it which either jams the gun or loses a chance to fire.

    d. working the pump is a two hand operation.

    3. low ammo capacity. Hardly can any form of shotgun take more than 10 rounds except for the A12 with 50rd magazine - how heavy is that? After 10 rounds, if the fight still not over, it's probably the time to bail, but life is not that simple. If you have loved ones to protect, running is not an option. Don't even think about killing swarming zombies with a shotgun. That's stupid not because there's no zombie, but because it's a stupid weapon choice tactically.

    4. lack of precision. A shotgun loaded with 00 Buckshot will spread roughly 1 inch per yard. A typical room distance is somewhere 15-30 feet, 10 yard max. At 10 yard or even 5, if the bad guy is holding your wife/daughter hostage, how can you deliver the killing shot at his 10 inch head protruded slightly from your woman's head?

    5. heavy recoil. Most women would flinch under the kick of a 12ga shotgun - you can hardly expect them to use it properly without enough training. Pump action produces more kick than semi.

    6. impossible to reload. Go try to load it and you will see. Almost everybody can reload an magazine fed AR15 under 1 second. How fast can you reload your shotgun?

    7. No, it's not point and shoot. For those of you who think you can just point the shotgun and shoot, well, you can but you will also likely miss the target. Shotguns just like rifles, they need to be operated properly: two hands to hold the gun and shoulder the weapon properly, then AIM and shoot!

    My favorite self-defense weapon is my ninja sword, no, actually it is my AR15 just like most law enforcement officers. I can easily attach 2 magazines with 30 rounds each. It has recoil so low that a petty woman can shoot with ease. Precision is no problem as i can hit a 3 inch target at 100 yards; within room distance, i can do that in a fraction of a second.

    However, if I shoot some intruder with an AR15, some newspaper would have produced news like "Homeowner mows down local drunk with assault rifle!!!" On the contrary, if I shoot the same intruder with a good old American shotgun, I would probably get a pat on the back and an "attaboy!"

    My current setup is a Mossberg 930 semi-automatic shotgun loaded with 8 00 Buckshots in combination with two pistols. After all 8 shots, I do plan to run while using the pistols to cover my retreat.
  11. I know that we are talking about SD and semi auto vs pump...but I learned something last year while pheasant hunting:

    It was very dry and we were having to walk through some thick crap. Most of us had semi autos. Personally, I was carrying my Benelli M1 Super 90 that I put a 26 inch barrel on. Its a sweet shooting dove and pheasant gun...much quicker than than the 1100's and 1187's...and way quicker than the pumps. By the end of the day, the pumps were quicker. All the semi auto's guys guns were having FTE's and FTF's due to all the crud getting into our guns.

    Do I think pumps are better? No, but in certain conditions they are head and shoulders better. It all depends on the situation.
    LASTRESORT20 and Cred's Cariad like this.
  12. Stupid


    Oct 26, 2005

    Single shot would be even better in some situation like in the Iraqi desert. All the M16 would be jammed up while the single shot would still be working. :)

    Personally, I'd take a rifle over a shotgun any day except for maybe when hunting for birds and squirrels.

    If you have a choice, always go with a rifle. I have been considering to buy a Keltec SU16C for like $500.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  13. inzone


    Aug 20, 2009
    I have some pumps, some single shots and some side by sides, my brother in law nearby has two semi auto redundancy is had by us! We also have among our extended family a good mix of MBR's and carbines...i personally prefer the simplicity and relatively idiot proof SKS fed by the cheap ten round stripper clips, and of course the AK workhorse.... I try never to pass up a good deal on a markdown mosin nagant bolt rifle.....I have now bought almost enough for eevry member of our extended family. I got a really sweet deal a couple years ago on original mosin nagant five round chargers from WW II (unused) and bought a couple hundred of them. If the balloon goes up I really want absolute reliabiity, ruggedness, simplicity and QUANTITY.... when I someday have the money I am planning to also add the .308 platform....I like the fn fals but out of my price range right day at a time!
  14. Andrewsky


    May 28, 2004
    The two statements above seem inconsistent.
  15. Stupid


    Oct 26, 2005
    Also there are so many rifle choices.

    For example, a Saiga 223 would only cost you $350, cheaper than most semi or pump shotguns. :)
  16. bdcochran


    Sep 23, 2005
    Los Angeles
    Very difficult to answer.

    Skills observation - If you can shoot a pump shotgun or a semi auto rifle while walking or running and engaging multiple targets accurately, you have the skills. Skills count for a lot.

    Quality and appropriate ammunition observation. You can shoot a 12 ga shotgun accurately on steel 200 yards from a supported rest position, but it requires slugs. If you use the common #8 birdshot, you probably won't do much damage past 50 yards. A rifle is capable of shooting more than 200 yards. However, most people do not understand ballistics, carry a ballistics card, practice, or even scope their battle rifles. If you are the type who hopes his reloads don't stink when shtf and that the cheap and criticized foreign ammunition will function when shtf, ok.

    You have to consider your scenarios. I had a USMC sniper scout instructor tell me that if he could choose just one firearm, it would be his sniper rifle. Obviously, he isn't contemplating many person's scenarios when shtf. If you are going to be shooting in the dark, not more than 100 yards, take birds on the wing, engage multiple targets, have something light weight, yatta yatta, you don't need more than a Ruger 10/22 .22win mag knock off with a foreward mounted Burris or Leupold scout scope. You might even get by with a standard Ruger 10/22 .22lr scoped the same way. If you are urban, aren't going to go hunting, and want something with you all the time, you aren't going to have a rifle or a shotgun. And, if shtf and you have a low level of continuous danger, you aren't going to go about your daily business totting a rifle or a shotgun.

    When you consider "price" think price plus sales tax plus registration =$X
    Then think about the "price" of your scope, spare parts, carry case, sling, shtf the ammo, practice ammo. Acquiring a shotgun isn't $300-500 when you factor in all of the costs. Or, you can do it like most people, buy the firearm and never get around to decent optics or decent, quality shtf ammo.

    If you have a family wherein people don't train, would never dream of spending money on a shooting class, never buy their own ammo and rely upon you, yatta yatta, then you only need something very simple. The operation of a shotgun can be taught to a 15 year old in 15 minutes.

    Remember, skills count for a lot. Look at the people in Libya and consider that a heck of a lot of them got killed because of a lack of training and skills despite having modern firearms.
  17. barbedwiresmile

    barbedwiresmile Unreconstructed

    Feb 3, 2008
    Whether you "need" a rifle vs whether a rifle is a "nice to have" is largely determined by your environment and SHTF plan. In most situations, it would be handy to have both. And both can be had relatively inexpensively. So I would suggest having both.
  18. Stupid


    Oct 26, 2005
    A rifle is super easy to train while a shotgun is not.
  19. quake

    quake Millennium Member

    Aug 4, 1999
    Arkansas, USA
    I much prefer a carbine, but no denying a shotgun can be very effective.

    That said, while I think that a shotgun can be as effective as a good carbine in a lot of situations, I don't think a shotgun is as efficient as a carbine.

    A properly-loaded shotgun is more forgiving of sloppy aiming. Not as much as a lot of folks believe, but it is - somewhat. A propertly-loaded shotgun can be just flat-out devastating; and again, I'm not really a shotgun guy. But they can. Where the shotgun is less capable, or at least less efficient imo is in rate-of-fire, ammo load-out (how much you can carry), and in performance from extremely-short to substantially-longer ranges without having to change ammo. A good buck load is great up close, and still deliver effective out to 75(?) yards or so; which is probably 99% of when you'd need a defensive longarm to be sure. But a good carbine can do the same thing, with a faster rate of fire, delivering lethal hits out to hundreds of yards; and even a mediocre carbine can do it out to 150 or so. Not an insult to the shotgun, just that the carbine has somewhat of an edge there; on range, carryable load-out, and rate of fire. Whether that advantage is important is subjective based on personal situation and personal comfort zone.

    Basically, to me a shotgun is a very good choice; but a carbine is a somewhat-better choice if a person has the option. If push came to shove I'd still trust my old 500 if need be, but I'd just prefer one of the carbines; just as I prefer a semiauto pistol for defensive use, but wouldn't be completely terrified if I just 'had' to use a good revolver instead.

    I'd say find what you like, what is practical for your situation (financial and otherwise), and then take it serious. Get familiar with it, get some training with it, get in a LOT of practice with it, and get comfortable that you really can do what you need to with it. For a lot of folks, a shotgun can probably do that just fine.
  20. Javelin

    Javelin Got Glock? Silver Member

    Feb 9, 2008
    N. Dallas
    A reliable, high capacity, concealable pistol will be your biggest asset in a SHTF. A shotgun will be fine for your choice of long arm - just be sure to have a supply of slugs & shot.
    Randylahey53 and LASTRESORT20 like this.