Episode-551- All About Shotguns

I know it is Monday and we are supposed to do a listener questions show for people that email in questions and commentary but once in a while it is good opsec to change things up.  Seriously I was just thinking about shotguns this morning and realized how many questions I get about them.

I also realize that my audience ranges from firearms experts to complete firearms newbies and even some that have never owned a gun in their lives.  Additionally we have a lot of overseas listeners that live under the tyranny that comes when men are not protected by the right to bear arms.  In many of those nation one of the things you can own is a shotgun.

The shotgun is really a do it all weapon, from home defense, to small game and even big game it really can be your only gun if necessary.  There are also many myths and misunderstanding about shotguns and both there capabilities and limitations.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • What exactly is a shotgun and where did it come from
  • What is “shot” and what do those numbers mean
  • What exactly is a “gauge” and what relation does it have to caliber
  • Anatomy of a shotgun shell
    • Case
    • Primer
    • Powder
    • Over powder wad
    • Shot cup wad
    • Shot (payload)
    • Overshot wad (optional)
    • Shot buffer (optional)
    • What is a magnum
  • A look at shotgun actions
    • Break action (double and single)
    • Pump action
    • Semi auto
    • Bolt
    • Lever
  • Shotgun uses
    • Small Game
    • Big Game
    • Sporting (clays, etc)
    • Defensive/Offensive
  • Chokes and uses
    • Cylinder bore
    • Skeet
    • Improved Cylinder
    • Modified
    • Improved Modified
    • Full
  • Gauges and thoughts on them
    • 10 Gauge – .775 “caliber”
    • 12 Gauge – .729 “caliber”
    • 16 Gauge -.662 “caliber”
    • 20 Gauge – .615 “caliber”
    • 28 Gauge – .550 “caliber”
    • 410 Bore – .410 “caliber”
  • Patterning reality
    • Point and pull is a myth
    • Ammunition can have a huge effect on pattern
    • It is more about density than size
    • Patterns on moving targets are different than still targets
    • Precision shooting is the key
  • Choosing a shotgun for your use
    • What do you want it to do for you
    • What budget do you have
    • What weapons do you already own
    • Consider fit as it relates to function
    • Don’t discount the 20 gauge

Resources for Today’s Show

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Photo Credit Above to TigresBlanco
via Flickr used under Creative Commons

13 Responses to Episode-551- All About Shotguns

  1. I thought episode 501 was about The Real State of the Economy?

    Wiseassery!

  2. I can’t wait to listen to this. I’m wondering if you’ll talk about barrels. We have a Remington 870, which is a good all around first shotgun, including home defense. However, I stupidly thought I could get by with the non-rifled barrel for deer hunting. I missed a buck Sat night that was about 70 yds away. I also passed up an opportunity to shoot another that was about 100 yds!
    Sunday, my only decision was whether to buy a rifled barrel for the Remington, or just buy a 2nd shotgun so my husband and I both have one! I bought a Mossberg 535 with interchangeable barrels, including the rifled barrel with proper sights. I intend to add a scope shortly.

  3. Great info, I love my shotgun!

  4. Ive got a Remington 11-87, its a pimps shotgun. its fast with low recoil, and has never jammed yet (knock on wood) i know there is tons of them out there so parts aren’t an issue. even if im forced to get them second hand they shouldn’t be that hard to find. SOME Cons i didnt realize before i fired the shotgun: its not as light as an 870 pump. i figured semi-auto shotguns weighed less cause the first semi i ever shot was an ithaca which is way lighter than the 11-87 and even the 870. (If you have the funds just buy the Ithica. trust me its way worth it. they might sell for the price of two semiauto shotguns but they bring you into a whole new level of the ball game.) lastly The hot gases from the action vent out the barrel about half way down the barrel on the top. this creates a wee bit of a problem for me. the gases escape through the vent on the top of the barrel, this heat creates a wavy mirage type distortion in between front bead and back sight (my eye). this little mirage distorts the sight image just the smallest bit, so my CQB (close quarters battle) follow up shot is a little slower if i want on point precision as in a defense situation in the home (a missed shot could injury family or VIP personnel)…. love the podcast thanks

  5. One issue with the sporting look vs evil black look, is that in the demographic areas where evil black is an issue, the jury is not likely to even know what a sporting look is. 20 years ago, a lot of people may have seen the distinction, but from what I’ve seen, today guns are either evil or not simply by being in the shape of a gun. I think the real deterrence from the evil black look is when things are added that don’t serve a function. If you have a light, you can tell the jury it is so that you can be sure of what you are shooting at, that is a plus to me. When your only answer for an accessory is that it looks cool, that would be a negative to me.

    I’m with you 90% on the #4 Buck idea. It does fall a tiny bit short of the FBI standard in a lot of cases, but even the original authors of the FBI benchmarks said there is nothing magical when you go from 11.5″ to 12″ in ballistic gel. But ever since I started reading up on #1 Buck, it makes a lot of sense. It seems to be the balance point for putting down two legged critters. Penetration passes the 12″ mark for most loads, it has much more cross sectional area, there are more pellets, it penetrates walls about the same as #4 Buck, and from what I’ve been told it tends to pattern tighter.

    Wall penetration is all but a moot point within reason IMO. From #8 birdshot through 000 Buck, the shot has enough energy to pass through a wall and seriously injure a person on the other side. Studies have also shown, that statistically, it just doesn’t tend to happen. Apartment dwelling is about the only case where I’d value a reduced wall penetration. Even then, hit the bad guy, and the pellets stop, miss the bad guy and the pellets go on.

    To me the bit about not being able to miss with a shotgun is a misunderstanding (usually only people that misunderstand it say it). Compared to a handgun, a shotgun is relatively pointable at defensive distances just as any long gun is. But even then it is a matter of practice. I think the saying came from vets that were so instinctive with a shotgun, they literally couldn’t miss at short ranges, but that perhaps that concept got lost in translation over time.

    On the bit about 20 vs 12, I have to admit to being in the anything the 20 can do, the 12 can do better camp. The 12 is a bit heavier, which could matter if you need to take it and a high round count over a lot of distance, but that weight also reduces recoil. The lighter recoil of the 20 gauge is also easily mimicked by the 12 with reduced recoil loads.

  6. Awesome…I am buying my first shotgun after Christmas and this show will help me make a better and clearer choice.

  7. Jack, any visibility from you on the ATF ruling that having a pistol grip on a shotgun makes it a “destructive device”, with all that entails? Last I heard, Justice was telling them not to enforce it, but the ruling is still on the books.

    Also, I highly recommend the 12 with a frangible round for removing hinges, works every time!

  8. @Artos:

    That ruling is being blown way out of proportion. It is actually a very good thing for some gun owners, and it is in perfect alignment with current law. The way that ruling works is normally any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18″ is a short barreled shotgun (SBS). But to be a SBS, it must have a shoulder stock. So if the shotgun has a barrel less than 18″ and no shoulder stock, it can’t be non-NFA because of the barrel, and it can’t be a SBS because of the lack of a shoulder stock. So it is classified as an any other weapon (AOW). AOW’s have only a $5 transfer tax. The other interesting issue with AOW’s is they are often exempted from state laws against SBS’s and zip guns. Here is a good site for examples of SBS’s and AOW’s:
    http://www.paladinarmory.com/SBSAOW.htm

  9. @Artos:

    I just realized you were probably talking about this ruling (http://www.nfaoa.org/documents/ffl-newsletter-2009-11.pdf):

    “Firearms with pistol grips attached:
    The definition of a shotgun under the GCA, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(5), is “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosives to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

    Under the GCA, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(29)(A), handgun means “a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.” Federal law provides under 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(1), that if the firearm to be transferred is “other than a rifle or shotgun,” the purchaser must be 21 years of age or older.

    Certain commercially produced firearms do not fall within the definition of shotgun under the GCA even though they utilize a shotgun shell for ammunition. For example, firearms that come equipped with a pistol grip in place of the buttstock are not shotguns as defined by the GCA.

    A firearm with a pistol grip in lieu of the shoulder stock is not designed to be fired from the shoulder and, therefore, is not a shotgun. Since it is a firearm “other than a rifle or shotgun,” the purchaser must be 21 years of age or older. Additionally, interstate controls apply. The licensee and transferee must be residents of the same State.”

    That is for pistol grip only (PGO) shotguns with barrels longer than 18″. It is treated as a “firearm other than a rifle or shotgun” which is the same category used for handguns. It still isn’t a destructive device (DD).

    The hoopla over them being DD’s stems from this:

    “Any weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.” Source: 26 U.S.C, Section 5845(f).

    But it does not just say shotgun. It says shotgun or shotgun shell. A pistol grip only shotgun may not be a “shotgun” but it still fires a shotgun shell. I’d admit there is some ambiguity there, but think of this way:

    If a PGO shotgun was a destructive device, all shotguns would be destructive devices under the readily convertible clause since 5 minutes with hand tools could either swap the stock for a pistol grip or saw the stock down to a pistol grip.

  10. I thought that this was a great podcast. I enjoyed this one more than most. I now have the answers to all my shotgun questions I was too embarrassed to ask. THANKS JACK!!!!

  11. Matthew R Winship

    For an awesome slug gun check out Savage’s model 220f. its a Bolt action fully rifled 20 ga slug gun with a magazine.

  12. Good show Jack.

    Bit of a nit-picking on the Drilling. It is European in origin. It comes from the German “drei” for 3. It is a break action 3 bbl firearm. It usually has 2 shotgun bbls and one high power rifle bbl below the 2 size by side shotty bbls. I haven’t seen a double rifle with a shotgun bbl included.
    It is my understanding that they were used in Europe as you described. Being able to take various types of game with only one gun.

    I’d like to do an article on reloading slugs. From casting through performance testing. Would that work best for you as just a post in the forum or on the SOS site?

  13. Thanks for helping me make a decision on my latest firearm purchase. I just picked up my 870. Now come the fun part of getting out there and patterning it.