A shotgun delivers massive close-range stopping power and can be a very effective home-defense tool, but only if you choose the right one. The two most important keys to an effective home-defense shotgun are maneuverability and reliability.
A 10-gauge goose gun with a 32-inch barrel can deliver all the power needed to stop a home invasion. But if you’re awoken at 2 a.m. by the sound of your front door breaking in, how handy is that gun? How easy is it to maneuver room to room? What happens if an assailant is on the other side of the door and grabs that long barrel when it pokes through? A home-defense shotgun needs to be short, lightweight and easy to navigate in tight quarters. Barrels in the 18 ½- to 20-inch range are preferred. If it’s light enough to fire with one hand, that’s a plus.
A home-defense shotgun is often loaded, tucked away and never shot. But, if after a couple of years of sitting in a closet, it is suddenly needed, will it work? Firearms, in general, do not fare well in long-term storage. Lubricants congeal and springs can take a set. It’s advisable to fire, clean and lubricate any firearm on at least a semiannual basis. With that said, a pump-action shotgun (properly prepared) is the one most likely to work in this case. An exposed-hammer side-by-side double-barrel would likely be second and an inertia-operated semiauto ranks third.