Monday, April 18, 2022

A Review of Self-Defense Basics: Shotguns

 I don't worry about myself.  If you do, read the Bible, or the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.  Death and bad outcomes are natural, expected, and inevitable.  Adjust your opinions and quit fretting.  

That said, the country is being run by the worst people imaginable.  They are evil or stupid, if not both, and are determined to hang onto power at all costs -- especially to the rest of us.  I suppose power gives some people a thrill.  Conversely, I don't want anyone to tell me what to do any more than I want to tell other people what to do.  Sadly, it's getting harder to get what I want, which is mainly to be left alone.  

Several years ago, I talked a little about the firearms you want to have and the effectiveness of various handgun calibers.  Since that time, I have expanded my collection a little, as have many of you all, no doubt.  I'm going to update and summarize a little of what I have discovered.

Shotguns are still hard to beat at close ranges.  Use buck or at least heavier shot (e.g., #2 or BB).  Some buckshot loads are better than others and have more range, and some of that will vary based on an individual shotgun.  The supply situation for defensive loads is better than it was six or eight months ago, and the prices aren't too bad considering the overall inflation we have.  

In using a shotgun, we need to not only be familiar with the way it operates but how a full-power load feels when shooting.  Adrenaline will help with recoil and muzzle blast, but I don't want to count on that alone.  I want to pattern my chosen loads.  And practice.  I work on developing my sense of distance, especially within my house.  If it becomes necessary to repel boarders, I must know where every pellet is going to go.  

Shooting, done right, is like driving.  When we are learning to drive, especially, with a manual transmission, we're thinking about everything, all the fundamentals.  After years of driving, how often do you think about when to accelerate, where your wheels are, where other cars are, how hard to brake?  Not often.  All the basic, fundamental actions required to safely operate a motor vehicle occur almost automatically.  Sure, you can be surprised into acting incorrectly, but it has to be something really unusually or where you were caught looking at a text or some other unforced error.  

The same is true of shooting.  Most of us don't shoot nearly as much as we drive, which is part of the problem we have.  I'm never going to shoot like Jerry Miculek, 22Plinkster, Kirsten Joy Weiss or some Olympian.  I don't have the innate talent to begin with, but I will also never have the amount of time and ammunition the experts have burned perfecting their passion.  I can live with that.  

With the shotgun, we don't have to shoot live ammo all the time to develop the Zen mind.  Dry-firing will probably not hurt a pump or autoloading shotgun.  But snapcaps are cheap or virtually free if we want to make our own.  (Cut an empty hull off about half way down.  Knock out the primer.  Shoot some silicone in the primer pocket and let it dry.  Cut it off smooth if necessary.  Fire away.)  The other advantage of a snapcap is that we know we didn't mistakenly loaded a live round.

Anyway, dry-firing lets us practice shouldering, sighting, manipulating the action, and trigger technique.  We need to practice loading and chambering, too, but that should be done at a range with live ammo.  Dummy shotgun rounds are available on Amazon, of course.  Midway has a variety, also -- for example (select 12 gauge or whatever in the cartridge dropdown).  Those let us practice at home.  

We need to practice, either out somewhere actually shooting at stuff or doing dry-fire drills.  Not everybody is going to have time to do it daily.  But we can hit it as often as possible.  It's better than playing video games.  Probably.  I'm not a gamer so I don't know if there's some virtual substitute for setting off a 3-inch Remington Nitro Turkey load of #4s.  I should also mention that some loads are more punishing in some shotguns than others, or even with different barrels on the same shotgun.  Case in point, that aforementioned turkey load in my 870 with the 28" barrel and an extra-full choke is noticeable but not excessive.  If I switch to my 18" barrel with the fixed modified choke, the same load becomes a bear -- or nearly unbearable.  Slugs, buckshot, and other Nitro Express loads are fine, but that one is brutal.  That's why it's important each of us find our own comfort zone.  

I hope this summary helps.  Think local and keep your powder dry.

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