The Shotgun is a double edged sword. Depending on the situation, a Shotgun can either be the most effective weapon possible or wholly worthless. It lacks the range of a rifle or the concealability of a pistol, but it makes up for it in raw power, ease of use, reliability and intimidation. Little else is more feared than the ubiquitous sound of racking a shotgun, and a blast of buckshot can literally leave your adversary staring through a grapefruit sized hole in his torso.
Selecting a Shotgun
Unlike Rifles, selection of a shotgun is more or less standardized. You will want a pump action model with a short barrel. The big 3 of shotguns are the Remington 870, the Mossberg 500 (590 if you have the $$) and the Benelli Nova. All of these are available for around $250 new. The Remington and Mossberg are more traditional, whereas the Nova is more high tech and comes with some very nice features like fiber optic or available rifle style (ghost ring) sights. There is, unless you are on a very tight budget, little reason to look at anything else. If you absolutely must save a buck, get a 12 gauge on police surplus. Most of them are lightly used and can be picked up for a single bill. You can also easily find 500s and 870s (You might have some trouble finding a Nova) in pawn shops, as both of them have been produced for a very long time, making them very common. Stay away from the cheap Norinco shotguns.
Another nice shotgun is the Russian Saiga-12. It is a semi-automatic shotgun that is built off the AK47 action, so it is very reliable (Unlike most other semi-auto shotguns, which are very jam prone) and it comes with detachable magazines up to a 10 shell capacity for quicker reloads. It starts at around $400, but if you want one fully tricked out with goodies like an integrated flashlight, muzzle break, short barrel, folding stock and ghost ring sights, you're looking at over $1000. Unfortunately, it is illegal in some states now.
Don't bother with other gauges. 12 gauge is the world's standard defense and hunting shotgun for a reason. Other gauges are either not powerful enough or far too expensive to be practical.
For defense, there are only two loads worth considering, buckshot and slugs.
Buckshot is large diameter lead balls loaded into a shell. The standard 00 (pronounced as "double ought") buckshot has around 9 pellets which are roughly the size of a .30 caliber bullet, making it incredibly effective against soft targets. 00 is the standard load for buckshot. Some claim that #1 or even #4 are more effective, but you can't go wrong with 00. For smaller shooters, reduced recoil loads are worth considering. They not only have less recoil, but usually tighter groups as well. The maximum range for buckshot is 50 yards, but realistically you should wait until the target is within 25 to ensure that they are hit by as many balls as possible.
Slugs are large, solid projectiles that somewhat resemble muzzle loader bullets. They essentially turn your shotgun into a high caliber, low velocity rifle. The only problem with slugs is that in situations where they are better than buckshot, you're better off with a rifle. Nevertheless, slugs are very effective and have a maximum range of around 100 yards. A slug may be slow, but it packs an awful lot of punch at shorter ranges. If you have to hunt large game with your shotgun, use slugs. If you regularly shoot slugs, it might be worthwhile to invest in a rifled barrel, but the investment required for this would cost more than a nice rifle. A slug has reduced effectiveness against a vest or helmet but the blunt trauma can still sometimes be deadly even though it does not penetrate body armor.
Gadget loads like dragons breath and bolo are nearly useless when compared to conventional ammunition and will do damage to your weapon. There is very limited utility in 12ga tear gas shells, with the expense why not leave that stuff to the cops, same advice for flares and bird banger (airport non-lethal bird scare) shells.
A simple pipe shotgun can be made from
3/4" pipe coupler
3/4" pipe plug
Wood for stock
Heavy fricton tape
metal strap(for hammer)
Spring or rubber strap
Drill a hole in the pipe plug and loosely tape down the nail/firing pin file the point off of the nail. Thread the coupling onto the pipe, ream the barrel to allow a 12 gauge shell to fit. Friction tape the barrel to the rough sawed stock. Make the strap/hammer and bend into a U shape attach with screws and put under spring or rubber tension. Insert the shell and plug, only insert the firing pin before firing. Test fire with a string several times for safety. If you are creative you might be able to make this into a double barrel gun. Only use shot not slugs in this weapon. Since you only get one shot with this crude zip gun do as they did before repeating firearms, attach a bayonette, weld a steel rod or blade to a pipe coupling and thread that onto the end of the barrel. A ramrod may be needed to eject the spent shell.
Surprisingly to some this is legal in some places in the USA if the pipe is longer than 18 inches and you can legaly own a gun. If the cops haul you in expect to sit in the can overnight until the DA pulls his head from his ass and realizes you are legal, but they will always take it away. It is still legal to make your own gun in most parts of Amerika no matter if it is made from junk. As always check the law yourself it may have changed since printing.
This is an unsafe desperate design for protecting against the murders public and private who would try to extinguish your life. If you need to use this weapon your upgrade should have arrived with the threat.
The shotgun is the ideal defensive weapon. It's perfect for the vamping band of pigs or hard-heads that tries to lynch you. Being a good shot isn't that necessary because a shotgun shoots a bunch of lead pellets that spread over a wide range as they leave the barrel. There are two common types: the pump action and the semi-automatic. Single shot types and double-barrel types do not have a high enough rate of fire for selfdefense. Some shotguns can also hold slug shells, which, instead of buckshot pellets fire a large piece of metal, useful for the far away or armored.
The pump action is easy to use and reliable. It usually holds about five shells in a tube underneath the barrel. For self-defense you should use 00 buckshot shells. Shotguns come in various gauges, but you will want the largest commonly available, the 12 gauge. The Mossberg Model 500 A is a super weapon in this category which sells for about $90. When buying one, try to get a shotgun with a barrel as short as possible up to the legal limit of 18 inches. It is easy to cut down a longer barrel, too. This increases the area sprayed.
The semi-automatic gun is not used too much for self-defense, as they usually hold only three shells. With some practice, you can shoot a pump nearly as fast as a semiautomatic, and they are much cheaper. See the gun books catalogued in the Appendix for more information.
Another Tried And True Pipe Shotgun.
There are many other good guns available, and a great deal to know about choosing the right gun for the right situation. Reading a little right wing gun literature will help.
Article about some interesting shotgun rounds