Home defense shotguns

The proliferation of self-defense loads in .410 has started me thinking down a road that I normally wouldn’t go down, namely that of pistol grip shotguns.  See, normally pistol grip shotguns are fail upon fail when chambered in “serious” calibers.  The whole point of putting a stock on a shotgun is so that you can mount the gun to your shoulder and use your whole body to absorb recoil, thus making follow up shots faster.  So when you take that shoulder stock off the platform, you’re left with an unwieldy super-pistol that’s difficult to accurately aim and challenging to manage the recoil on.

With that in mind though, I recently happened on a Mossberg 500 in .410, that actually had a pistol grip on it.  Initially I looked at it like you’d look at something “created” by a cat, but then I got to thinking about the little shotgun.  Hefting it, it was light and pretty easy to swing around.  With the addition of a sling so you could shoot it SAS-style (the British Special Air Service used a technique of pressing their MP5s against all the slack in their sling) this could actually be a reasonable HD gun.

In .410, the pistol grip shotgun actually makes a lot more sense.  Then you get all the benefits of a short overall length, and with the light recoil of even the stoutest .410 loads it would be much easier to aim and manage recoil when firing without the benefit of a shoulder stock.  I do feel like the sling is a must have though, if for no other reason than it allows the shoot a way to retain the weapon if you’re in a CQB situation in your house, as well as providing a more stable firing platform when the shotgun is pressed out against the sling.

While a .410 is certainly not the “optimum” platform for home defense (the optimum platform being a 12 Megawatt pulse rifle that vaporizes badguys) I certainly wouldn’t volunteer to stand downrange and catch five or so rounds of Winchester’s new buck and ball load.


  1. That Buck-and-Ball still gets me scratching my head. I imagine that patterning REALLY weird.

    Still I think 12 and 20 gauge are far preferable, and still quite manageable, if used in a stocked gun.

    As for stock-less shotguns, why? It doesn’t actually make your gun any smaller when you’re using it, as you’ll still be holding the gun away from your body. If you have limited space get an 18″ BBL shotgun, and toss a folding stock on it, and if trouble comes your way just unfold the stock and charge a shell into the chamber.

    Still you could do a LOT worse than .410 #00 Buckshot, or slugs.

  2. “As for stock-less shotguns, why?”

    Plus if your shotgun is set up with bead (most are), lacking a stock and a proper cheek weld ruins your ability to aim. That and I’ve seen a guy knock a tooth out after shooting a .410 PG shotgun from “the shoulder.” The shotgun’s owner says he only shoots it from the hip.

    “I recently happened on a Mossberg 500 in .410, that actually had a pistol grip on it.”

    I realize you weren’t saying you’d buy it, but you don’t want a mossberg 500 with a pistol grip. The tang safety is brilliant for a standard stock, but useless with a pistol grip.

    I still not sure I buy into that winchester self-defense load. The ball will work, but the BBs are probably too small and the “dimes” are going to have garbage sectional density. I think you’d be better off using levergun with JHP .45lc or a stocked youth 20 gauge with #1 buck.

  3. If I were to take leave of my senses and buy said pistol gripped shotgun, I most certainly would not leave it with just a bead for a sight. I’d actually love to mount one of the Trijicon RMR sights on it, which would be doubly hilarious since that sight costs more than two of those .410 Mossbergs.

  4. I have a .410 Saiga. With 15 round Surefire mags (mine only works with Win ammo) and a red dot scope. It is a fun gun to hook new shooters.

    But if I had to hand someone a gun for self defense who had never shot before I think this would be one of the easiest for them to use.

    A .410 Saiga AOW would be super tacticool.

  5. I’ve never been crazy about shotguns for home defense. Too long, kick too hard, too little ammunition payload. I keep kicking around the idea of picking up a pistol caliber carbine.

  6. NMM1AFan, that’s my #1 recomendation to non-gunnies who want an HD gun. A pistol carbine are light and handy, and with their short barrels, don’t project much further than a handgun held in weaver or isosceles. They’re quieter than all but rim-fire carbines. They are chambered with cartridges with proven stopping power (they trump handguns, but not rifles and shotguns) and they offer very reasonable recoil and fast follow-up shots, also they can be stored fully empty with a full mag nearby and be quite safely stored, but able to be readied in seconds.

    That’s one reason why I keep a 1911 in my nightstand rather than my Mossberg 590 (which is a superior HD gun IMHO) is it takes AGES to fill up the tube of my Mossy, and just as long to reload, and the only other alternative is to store it with a full mag and an empty chamber, which is just a hair too close to fully loaded for my comfort zone.

  7. “I’ve never been crazy about shotguns for home defense. Too long, kick too hard,”

    One of the nice things about shotguns is you can dial down the recoil on them for games like steel plate shoots. Just get some light shooting loads (or make your own, reloading shotshells is super cheap to get started on) and you’re good to go. I’m a recoil wuss but I can run 1oz loads all day in a pump gun just fine if I keep ’em down around 1150fps. You get the same fundamentals drilled into you without getting beat up in the process.

  8. Hm. Home defense applications or not, a .410 AWB actually sounds like something that might be borderline fun, rather than a 12 gauge variant which sounds like a short and painful trip to carpal tunnel syndrome…

  9. You didn’t mention the H&R Handy-Gun. Unfortunately, it has been out of production since 1934. Quite a shame, as it’s fairly user-friendly.

    Linoge is quite correct in that a similarly-sized handpiece in 12 gauge is bothersome after the first round. It does make a very strong visual deterrent when viewed from an intruder’s angle.


  10. RE: the H&R Handygun. Nice gun. My dad used to have one until it got stolen. They are Class III firearms and require NFA paper filed during the amnesty period. Legal Handyguns are Very pricey. Like $1500-2000, and they are only single shot. I had lots of fun hunting rabbits with my dad’s.

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