Shotguns are the most popular firearm in in the country. People who only own a couple guns will usually have a shotgun as one of them. Using a home defense shotgun requires you to understand the pattern of the gun.
It is important to understand all aspects of the tools you use to protect yourself and your family. You will be more effective in using them and will have a better chance of stopping a threat.
Spend time at the range with your gun and with the ammunition you use for home defense. Shoot the gun at various distances and evaluate the performance and shot pattern.
Home Defense Shotgun Barrel Length
The length and choke of the barrel will have the most influence on the shotgun pattern. Using the same ammunition in different length barrels will produce different results. A longer barrel will keep a tighter pattern on the target if they are fired from the same distance. The shorter barrel will produce a wider pattern.
Most of the pattern could be in the center of your intended target but some of the pellets may go wide. Think about the way your gun would pattern if you used it for self-defense.
The pellets that are outside of the target can harm others or cause unintended damage. We are legally and morally responsible for every round we fire and a wild pellet injuring an innocent person will result in us becoming the criminal.
Different types of ammunition will produce different patterns. Some ammunition is designed to hold tight patterns but will still be influenced by the barrel length.
Buckshot is very popular for home defense shotguns. A three-inch buckshot shell fired from an eighteen-inch barrel from ten yards will cover center mass of a silhouette target.
Many people talk about the advantages of birdshot for home defense shotguns. Birdshot will not penetrate as many layers of drywall as buckshot. However, it is important to understand that it will penetrate several layers of it. Birdshot produces a very wide pattern when fired from a short barrel.