Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Home Defense Shotgun Clinic

Home Defense Scenario
My friend Steve and I recently taught a shotgun clinic introduction to using shotguns for home defense. The students were a group of women shooters. Most are regular participants in our Sensible Self Defense Short Range Match and some have attended previous pistol classes. All were comfortable with pistols; however, they had little to no experience with defensive shotgun skills.

We had a discussion of the essential skills necessary to effectively use shotguns as a defensive weapon in the home. After we demonstrated the various techniques for mounting, firing, reloading, and dismounting the gun, the student dove into learning these skills.  We finished the class with a home defense scenario based on the design of my house and what I would need to do to defend it against armed home invaders.

Steve and I brought a variety of defensive shotguns for the class including a Berretta 1301, various Mossberg pump shotguns, a Remington 870 police version, a Mossberg 930 SPX, and two 20 gauge RIA-VR82s. All of the shotguns with the exception of my Beretta, my 870 police, and the VR82s had stocks with standard 13-1/2 to 14-1/2 inch or longer lengths of pull.* 

The students had no trouble with the 12 gauge’s recoil; however, all had issues with the way the various shotguns failed to fit their body types. The standard pull length was simply too long. The Magpul stocks on my 1301 and 870 have 12-inch lengths of pull and most were able to mount my 1301 shotgun without too much difficulty. Even with a 12-inch pull, the Remington 870 still posed a challenge for most students to work the slide easily. The VR-82s we had on the range have AR-style adjustable stocks and the AR stocks solved the length of pull problem for most students.

The shotguns that Steve and I own are set up for large males (Steve is 5’11” and I am 6’2”) so cheek weld was also a problem. The comb height on our guns prevented some students from placing their face in a comfortable cheek weld while still being able to see the sights. **

A competent gunsmith can cut a stock or shooters can install aftermarket products such as the Magpul SGA stock to fix length of pull problems. Other aftermarket products such as padded butt cuffs can help achieve proper cheek weld. Magpul for example, offers cheek riser kits that allow the user to configure their firearm to the ideal comb height to accommodate a range of iron sights, optic configurations, or shooter preferences.

This introductory class was a success. All participants did well and indicated that they were impressed with the defensive shotgun’s utility. All students also commented on the challenges they had with the excessive length of pull on most of the 12 gauge guns. The 20 gauge Rock Island Armory VR82 may be an acceptable solution for smaller-statured people. We are still experimenting with the VR82s and have not reached a solid conclusion concerning their suitability and reliability. More to follow. 

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* Length of Pull (LOP) on the shotgun or rifle is the distance from the trigger to the back center of the butt plate or recoil pad. This is one of the primary measurements to fit the gun to the shooter.

 ** The comb is the top portion of the stock where the shooter rests his or her cheek while shooting. The comb height determines how low or high the shooter’s eye-line is in relation to the sights.