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Shotgun Modifications

Discussion in 'Tactical Shotguns' started by David Armstrong, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. My error. I thought we were supposed to post links and not articles, but Eric said that since it was my blog I should post the article itself instead of the link. Sorry to any who got confused and for any problems.
    The Tactical Shotgun for Home Defense
    “Keep it Basic”
    By J.D. McGuire, Owner of AI&P Tactical
    Web site:
    This short write up is going to be very basic and many of the knowledgeable gun guys and gals are going to be bored to death reading this, however, there is a current trend in the gun world of people wanting a Tactical Type shotgun for home defense use. This is for them as many are also new to firearms.

    You may have seen the term “HD” when reading about shotguns. That simply stands for “Home Defense” and any firearm can be used for this. However, there is one that is best for most people and that is the shotgun. These are also referred to as “Tactical Shotguns”

    The Tactical shotgun is nothing more then a shotgun with some features that makes it easier to use in certain situations. These weapons are very much like the shotguns that have been used for sports shooting for many years, but with a few design differences. They are what many of you would know as Police or Riot Type shotguns. They have shorter barrels, a larger round capacity then a sporting weapon and other features not common on the type of shotgun you would hunt with or use on the skeet range. They are called Tactical Shotguns simply because they are designed to be used in a Tactical type scenario by Police, Military or Security Officers. In a worse case scenario, they are designed to be used by you or me to defend our loved ones or ourselves.

    Design of the Tactical shotgun should start with the action of the weapon. Most common and reliable is the Pump action. With this weapon, you manually pull the forend of the weapon to the rear after each shot and the action ejects the spent shell and loads another shell into the chamber so you can fire again. The semi-auto loading shotguns perform this action for you each time you pull the trigger. The weapon operates by using gases from the shell being fired to force a piston to the rear initiating the same action that you performed manually on the pump action and an action spring forces the bolt back forward loading a new round into the chamber so you can fire again. Some models of semi-auto shotguns operate with other actions by using the force of the fired shell to initiate the action instead of using gases.

    With that out of the way, remember this. I do not recommend any semi-auto shotgun for Home Defense, Duty or in any situation where your life is on the line. These weapons are not reliable enough for me to trust. There are too many issues that can cause a semi-auto to miss feed, jam or to malfunction in other ways. They are fun to shot, great to hunt with but a pump shotgun should be your choice for Home Defense. It comes down to the operational design of the weapon and I will not get into all that, however, if you are reading this and trusting what I am saying then trust this part most of all.

    The most common pump shotguns used for home defense are 12ga shotguns. I believe the smaller 20ga to be a more affective HD shotgun but the buying public does share this opinion so there are more 12 ga shotguns on the market in the tactical design. If this is a weapon for a senior, a person small in stature or a person very new to firearms then I recommend you look that the 20 ga Tactical Models. A great example of this weapon is on my web site . Put your cursor on the links for the 20ga Tactical. The weapon that you are seeing there is a Remington 870 20 ga. Tactical with the SpecOps recoil reducing stock a synthetic stock that is shorter then a standard stock. It cost about the same as the 12 ga models. You do not need the exact one on my web site as that weapon has custom upgrades up with Police parts and is parkerized. If you have the budget for it then fine but the same stock model from Remington will fit your need.

    The most common barrel length on a Tactical Shotgun is 18” or in the case of the Remington models, an 18.5” barrel. Barrel length is important as you will be moving through your home with this weapon and the short barrels are more “Doorway” and “Hallway” friendly. They are also faster to swing to a target close to you. The legal length for any shotgun barrel is 18”. Shorter then that requires a special stamp from the BTAF, a $200 Federal license fee and a lot of paper work.

    Choke is the restriction at the end of a shotgun barrel that tightens the shot just prior to it leaving the barrel. This is done to give you tighter patterns of shot at longer ranges. The most common choke on these weapons is called Cylinder Bore or Cly Bore for short. This is pretty much no choke. Next is Improved Cylinder Bore or I/C and is a little more restriction. Next is Modified or Mod. Which is a little more restriction then I/C. I recommend the Cyl Bore or I/C choke for most HD weapons. Choke really does not matter at the close distances you are going to using this weapon in an emergency. If you have out buildings or property around your home and may to go outside, the I/C gives you a few more feet of assurance that your pattern will be affective on a threat. I have the modified barrel on both my HD’s since I have out building on my property but I/C would serve as well.

    Sights. Here is where may people go wrong when selecting an HD shotgun. The best sight for you HD shotgun is a simple bead sight. It is the fastest sight to use and the most effective at close ranges. There are high visibility and tritium bead sights that enhance the effectiveness of this type of sight and these are fine with me. The trend is to go for “Tacti-cool” or as I call it “Tacti-fool” sights like Ghost ring sights or Optical sights. These sights can get you killed in a close quarters fight. Do not even think about them on a dedicated HD shotgun. In the type of situation you are going to use this weapon there is no time to find a threat in a small peep sight like the rear ghost ring sight. Optics are also a problem as they have to be turned on, they have batteries that can go dead and there is simply no need for them on a close quarters weapon.

    The type of stock you decide on is very important. Length of pull ( LOP) of the stock is the distance from the trigger to the end of the stock recoil pad that is up against your shoulder. Standard LOP is 14” and works well for people over 5”10” tall. However, here again, shorter is better so I recommend the reduced LOP stock which is 13” LOP. If you are short I even recommend what is called the “Youth Stock” which has a LOP of 12”.

    There are also adjustable stocks that adjust with a quick pull of a lever and look like the stocks you see on many AR type rifles. These are a good choice for the home where different people of different heights may be required to learn to use the weapon.

    There are two very effective tactical stocks on the market that not only adjust, but they reduce the recoil of the shotgun. The Knoxx SpecOps stock uses a cam spring in the pistol grip and a spring in the stock tube to take up to 80% of the felt recoil. It is very effective and allows anyone to be able to handle the 12ga shotgun. The other is the Mesa Tactical stock. It also adjust but it uses an Endine buffer in the stock tube to take up to 70% of the felt recoil. The buffer works like a shock absorber on your car. The SpecOps sell for around $120-$140 and the Mesa stocks start at $315 so your wallet can often decide the type you decide on. Another recoil reducing option, and less expensive is to upgrade the recoil pad to one that helps reduce felt recoil. The best I know of is the Remington R3 pad made by Limbsaver or any of the Limbsaver pads. There are other great recoil pads on the market also. Upgrading the recoil pad on your shotgun is the best upgrade and shooter can do and your shoulder will thank you.

    The capacity of the HD shotgun should be 6+1. This means six rounds in the magazine tube and one in chamber. I recommend this simply because most HD shotguns come with this capacity when they have the 18 or 18.5” barrel. If they have a 20” barrel they will have a three shot extension on them and can hold 7+1. I also recommend that if the weapon is going to be stored loaded that you do not have a round in the chamber. Keep only four to five rounds in the magazine tube so you do not compact the magazine spring over time.

    Most of these weapon will come with sling attachments and you may want a sling should you take a shotgun training course. Most of these courses require one, however, take that sling off when you get home. An HD shotgun does not need a sling and that thing can get you killed. It can hang up on other guns in your gun safe or hang up on something in the closet. It will hang up on door knobs, furniture and things that I have not even thought of yet. NO SLING on an HD…..

    Weapon lights. This is one accessory that I recommend. You need to see what you are dealing with in these situations and a quality weapons light can save your life and it can stop you from making a mistake and using that weapon on an innocent person. The best on the market is the Surefire dedicated forend lights. These lights are built into a forend that will replace the forend on your shotgun. Surefire is one the best companies in this industry and they warranty these light for a life time. They have the best customer service of all the vendors I deal with.

    Other options are to use light brackets and a small weapons light or even some of the LED flashlights. You can see some quality brackets at www.cdmgear and these will hold lights like the Surefire G2L or G3L, other Surefire models or many of the other brands on the market. The Stream Light Poly-Tech is another quality light that will not brake the bank.

    A shell holder is not needed on a basic HD but it is a plus if you have property or out-buildings to check. This accessory allows you to have additional shells on the side of the weapon. I have several different type of ammo in my shell holder as I have out-buildings and have to leave to house to check them if I think something is going on. One of the buildings is my custom gun shop and with a 20 minute responce time being average by the police where I live I may have to deal with something in or around that shop. Everyone's situation is different and it is better to have the extra ammo and not need it than to need it and not have it. If you live in a residential area, condo or you are certain this weapon would only be needed indoors, pass on the shell holder as it is very unlikely you are going to have a situation inside your home that requires more rounds then you have in the weapon.

    This is very important. Take a shotgun training course from a reputable trainer. No some EX Delta Ninja Special Ops Commando trying to turn students into some kind of Special Operators, but a reputable trainer at a reputable training facility. You will not only learn to use the shotgun but will learn about the laws of you state pertaining to using deadly force in self defense. After the training course get out and shoot your weapon as often as you can. Learning the weapon and becoming proficient with it is what is going to save your life.

    It is important that you avoid the Tacti-fool mess that so many people put on these weapons. Keep it basic and there is less to go wrong with it when the time comes to protect your life and the life of you family. My contact information is on the top of each page of my web site, and you can call with any questions any time. I always have time to talk shotguns.

    Also, be warned. If you call and are asking for a HD shotgun and then inquire about something like my “Police Elite” model, well, we are going to have a serious debate about what you need and what you want. If you have that kind of money, and want one then fine. Just so you understand the difference. There is a big difference in what you want and what you need. I recommend on my web site that someone on a budget go buy the basic Remington HD Shotgun model 25077. That weapon will serve you well and would fit the needs of 90% of the people that call me and can be found anywhere for around $330. Some one asked me why I would send my customers away like that and I replied “because it is the truth.”

    If you get little else from this write up, please get this. Anyone trying to sell you Ghost Ring sights, Optic sights, pictinney rail forends, laser or strobe sights, heat shields or bayonet lugs on an HD shotgun or to put on your HD shotgun is just trying to get as much money from you as they can. On my web site on the "build your weapon" page is a link to a video of a man named “Clint Smith” the founder of Thunder Ranch. In this video he talks about the shotgun for home and self defense use and this man knows what he is talking about. He also tells you to keep it basic. If you will not believe me then please believe him.

    So let us review.

    1. The HD shotgun should be a pump action shotgun
    2. The HD shotgun should be kept basic, no frills and tacti-fool mess.
    3. Barrel length should be 18 to 18.5 inches with a bead sight
    4. Stock length should fit the shooter but short is better
    5 Weapon capacity should be 6+1 or 7+1
    6. Weapons lights are optional
    7. A shell holder is optional
    8. No sling on a an HD shotgun
    9 No tacti-fool mess on this weapon
    10. You don’t need a high dollar shotgun as long as it is well built from any of the leading manufacturers.
    11. Take a shotgun training course from a reputable trainer.

    So there is the basic HD shotgun. It is that simple and understanding that gives you the right starting point.
  2. CAcop


    Jul 21, 2002
    I like your thought process. I kind of added my $0.02 in where I thought there was some wiggle room. Mostly in terms of semi vs. pump or name brand vs. off brand as long as they were reliable. I am okay with slings as long as you use them. If you put one on and don't use it of course it is going to snag. Ghost ring sight are okay as long as you don't try to get a perfect sight picture up close. Essentially use the front sight as a really big bead. I do think a bead sight is better if you are going to be inside the average home.

    The simpler the better is always the best way.

  3. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy ********* Moderator Moderator Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Jan 16, 2001
    Buried in the X-files
    I disagree with #6, 8 and 9, mostly because of training levels. For your average American idiot, yes, a sling may get in the way. A light is NOT an option it is a must. You blow away an unidentified target say hello to Bubba and Federal Pound Me in the @!! prison. Unless they're shooting at you first, and then you're behind the OODA loop.

    For a pure indoor gun a bead will work, though ghost rings and Aimpoints (Which stay turned on) are more functional for a multipurpose patrol type gun.

    "Tactical" is just a word. If it makes you more efficient and makes you more likely to survive, it has a place
  4. WayaX

    WayaX Lifetime Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    My replies are in red.

    Of course, a shotgun is a poor weapon choice for home defense, but I guess it is better than nothing.
  5. Boeydafunk


    Jan 3, 2008
    "Of course, a shotgun is a poor weapon choice for home defense..."
    What? Its the gold standard for home defense!
  6. byf43

    byf43 NRA Life Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Southern Maryland

    For a while, I kept my first wife downstairs, with a chokechain and a short leash.

    During that time, I didn't need no stinkin' weapons. She was mad-dog mean, I tell ya!

  7. gnasty1521


    Feb 15, 2010
    DFW, TX
    I would say that at home distances, the shotgun is the most devastating weapon by far. It may "over-penetrate" too, but much less than any common rifle round anyone would use for home defense...:dunno:
  8. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy ********* Moderator Moderator Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Jan 16, 2001
    Buried in the X-files
    Actually, you are wrong, as the FBI (and many others since) have proven.

    5.56mm softpoint loads penetrate less than shotguns or any common pistol round. It may not seem 'right' but it has been proven. SWAT teams have transferred from the MP5 to the M4 en masse because of this, and the armor threat and the 'not inside a room' option SWAT teams have to deal with, same reason most special ops units running MP5s no longer do. Basic M855 still pretty much sails through walls but a good softpoint/hollowpoint 5.56 will not.
  9. Given that final comment it really makes one wonder about all the other comments.

    Since this is J.D.'s article I've refrained from addressing elements in the article itself, but I do want to discuss this. I was a fairly reputable shotgun trainer for a while and more importantly while doing so I got to know a number of other shotgun trainers. And with that I can categorically say that stating a lot of this article is out right incorrect is wrong. While anything can be debatable, most shotgun trainers I know will and do agree with most of what J.D. wrote.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  10. The last sentence there is the key. SOME 5.56 loads penetrate less than shotguns or common pistol rounds. SOME shotgun and common pistol rounds penetrate less. Penetration is largely a function of ammo selection.
  11. WayaX

    WayaX Lifetime Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    My shotgun weighs more than my pistol or rifle. It's longer. It holds less ammunition. Follow up shots are harder. If it were a pump it would need to be manually cycled. And if in the rare chance the intruder had body armor, it would be less effective. Tell me again, why is a shotgun so great?
  12. I'm curious, what other shotgun trainers that you know will agree with most of his article?

  13. Just a shot in the dark, but


    With one of those, follow up shots and shot placement doesn't matter a whole lot. With the other, it means everything. Also, since it's a long arm, accuracy is much improved over a pistol, where just squeezing the trigger wrong can send the round drastically of course (yeah, train for this etc etc. But you never know what's going to happen under the circumstances, I would imagine shooting at paper or steel isn't quite the same situation)

    But most of your comments are personal opinion and not completely fact. It's possible to rack a pump action shotgun very fast if you need to, and maintain accurate follow up shots. It is not inferior to a semi auto gun that relies on recoil to chamber the following round.

    All you really *need* for home defense is a 12GA (20GA actually works too, it doesn't bounce off the bad guy) shotgun of any style, or brand. Whether or not it's semi auto, pump, double barrel, or has a flashlight, saddle, sling is all personal preference and not set in stone. Marketing would like to tell you that you need to have the best (most expensive, usually) of everything, whether or not you believe that is up to you.

    FWIW I have a ghost-ring 590A1 (8+1) with a light, and side saddle on it, the only reason I have the side saddle is because I don't actively keep the magazine tube loaded. That may not be the 'best' method of preparedness to some people, but I don't think I won't be woken up or alerted to an intrusion until the guy is at the foot of my bed, either.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  14. WayaX

    WayaX Lifetime Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    Yes follow up shots don't matter because in the dark without your light with an unilluminated bead sight in a high stress situation you instantly turn into an expert marksman.

    Shotgun use for self defense is a hold over from the past when it was a staple in the house with a bolt action rifle and maybe a revolver. Back then it was the best choice.

    The only advantage a shotgun has now is the round. But with that argument we should all carry .44mag for concealed carry.
  15. CAcop


    Jul 21, 2002
    When I went to firearms instructor school we played with shotguns for a couple of days shooting slugs, buck and birdshot. We even shot at clay pigeons. The thing I took away from that was that the shotgun was all about one thing: hit probability.

    You increase the odds of hitting your target with multiple projectiles in the B zone. In the C zone where buckshot loads start to loose a projectile you switch over to slug to increase your hit probability. In the A zone at close range it doesn't really matter what you are throwing out there because even birdshot is one big lump of lead.

    As for penetration issues pistols and shotguns act pretty similar. Rifles behave different because of their higher velocity. Of course keep in mind even a quickly fragmenting 5.56 round with still be dangerous after it goes through one wall. It's not like a layer or two of sheetrock is a forcefield that stops all 5.56 rounds.

    As far as body armor issues only rifles can overcome that. Therefore the failure drill with pistols and shotguns. Now of course a Mozambique with a shotgun is going to be a bit more effective than a pistol or even a rifle. And you better practice it with you 5.56 rifle because it is not a death ray.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  16. Which has little or nothing to do with an HD gun.
    Again, both of which have little or nothing to do with an HD gun.
    Not true.
    As you admit that is a rare chance, but the body armor will protect against a pistol as well as the shotgun. And depending on the rifle and the armor, it might provide protection for that also. So what was your point?
    Hmmm. Greatest likelihood of a first-round hit, greater likelihood of a single hit solving the problem, greater delivery of energy on the target per round, ease of use, etc.

    As opposed to you being an expert marksman in the dark without your light and with an unilluminated rifle sight or ghost ring sight in a high stress situation?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  17. aippi


    Jun 12, 2009
    Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch would agree. But what does he know. I am sure you you guys know more then him.

    As for some of the so called "trainers" out there, they are teaching tacti-fool nonsence that is designed to impress the students with their knowledge and skill as some kind of operator. They are wasting the students time with a bunch of stuff they will never need. The are preparing them for HD like it is going to be the closing scene in "Scare Face". They are pushing tacti-fool mess that has no place on these weapons. That is not HD training. That is something else and may has a place for those that want it. However, to push this as Basic HD training is a wrong. Let the new people get the Basic HD training then if the want they can move on to other training courses.

    The subject of this article is for a dedicated Home defense shotgun and as stated is for the new user and is basic information. However, some of you can't seem to read and missed that, or you don't comprehend what a new user needs to know to be effective with this weapon.

    Others of you go to one of these so called "tactical Training courses" and hang on every word of the presentor because of an age old saying, "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king". So for you all that mess he said is gospel.

    Others of a more level headed mind undestand the basics of this subject and will adhere to them. They avoid all this mess on their dedicated HD. Then there is the guy who come here to argue the subject of the basic shotgun for HD, yet want to argue the shotgun is not an appropirate weapon for HD. That guy should get off this post and go start his own as to if a shotgun is appropriate for HD and not thread jack with his mess. He will get some strong debate with a post like that.
  18. Clint Smith from Thunder Ranch comes to mind as supporting most of it. Jim Crews also pops up. To a lesser extent John Farnam. I haven't trained with them, but writings from Evan Marshall and Dave Spaulding suggest a high level of agreement.
  19. gnasty1521


    Feb 15, 2010
    DFW, TX

    I was thinking ball 5.56, sorry it's just my profession. However, I know this is all hypothetical, but how many home invaders even have money for body armor? Low level burglars, the type that target blue-collar homes, will almost never have body armor I would guess.

    We aren't talking professional bank robbers, or scholars for that matter :upeyes:.
  20. MacG22

    MacG22 CLM

    Feb 28, 2008
    Your arrogance is off-putting.

    There are some things that are fine about your piece, but there are some things that are fundamentally wrong. However, by your writing here, I see that you are more in love with your own opinions than you are with the truth.

    To save you from asking, the issues I see with the piece:

    1. Claiming that ghost ring sites will "get you killed" is nonsense. It betrays your agenda. I have trained with several of the top trainers, and studied from some of the guys you seem to think would agree with you (would be a mixed bag, by my read).

    I have shot with all sight systems, and I am equally quick and accurate with ghost ring sights. And for a shot over 15 yards, a bead sight is NOT accurate for me, where ghost ring have been good for me.

    In your desire to decry "gear", you have committed the very sin you try to accuse the "tactifool mess" group of doing (an immature characterization, IMO)--you have put far too much emphasis on specific gear, assuming that using or not using something will "get you killed".

    2. You cannot have a basic introduction to shotgun for HD without discussing patterning.

    You start by having a person measure the distances they may need to defend themselves at with the shotgun. This includes out property, hallways, stair areas, etc. It's not unusual to have lengths of 15 yards or more in many home layouts, not counting the distance from an out building, garage, etc.

    Then you test the loads you want to use, at the distances, with YOUR shotgun. Every gun shoots every load a bit differently. Some loads I can shoot buck at 10 yards and it's a tight group. However, some loads I CANNOT shoot 00Buck at 10-15 yards and get what I consider to be a safe group. So I need to keep both buck and slug, as I have an out building.

    For anything at slug distance, I am INFINITELY more accurate with a ghost ring setup than I am with bead. It's not even close.

    3. Shotshell is indeed optional, but the discussion doesn't mean much until it is explore a bit more. It has to do with training, potential need for loadout change, and other factors. If my house has no lengths over 10 feet, that's one thing. If I may need to keep a slug for change, a shotshell holder is actually a responsible, well-trained option.

    Slings are the same way. They can be extraneous or they can be evidence of a mature and well trained individual. For a guy with three kids to collect from different rooms, a sling is an excellent option.

    And the list goes on.

    4. Finally, if your tone reflected the nature of education--that is, an open mind--then people may take your attempt to educate them with a bit more sincerity. As it is you've made some strong statements that are just false (ghost ring will get you killed). And with nebulous claims of "many other teachers would agree" the trust actually goes down, not up. I've worked with many trainers. None of them would suggest a sight, or sling, or light, or anything would either "save you" or "get you killed". That's not how it works. Good trainers will always say "it depends" and learn about your training, your context, and all the other factors that determine what sight, what loadouts, and what accessories may or may not help.