Home Defense Shotgun Myths Revisited In This DGU

People love their shotguns for home defense. I'm not saying they're wrong for it, because I've got a Mossberg 500 in my strategy for home defense, just that the shotgun isn't all that it's cracked up to be if you don't know what you're doing with it.

A lot of defenders believe some pretty bad myths concerning the shotgun that are just mind-boggling to those who know better. One of these myths is that you don't need to aim. I've been in a gun store on more than one occasion or even at the gun range hearing gun owners saying that all you've gotta do is get in the general direction of the intruder and yank that bang switch.

This is usually followed by dirty looks as I make a lame attempt at explaining why this isn't necessarily true. And, you shouldn't want it to be true, by the way. Why anyone would want a spread so large that it could take out innocents in the vicinity is beyond my comprehension.

And, the truth of the matter is that at the average hallway's length an average shotgun will spread to about the size of a softball or grapefruit. That's really it, and some spread out less than that.

Now, don't get me wrong you can change its spread by using a different shot or choke setup, but for the most part, that's just how it is.

I go into further depth on this shotgun myth and another in this article I wrote about two years ago.

The point of this article that you're reading right now is to show one of these myths in action as a defender points his shotgun at an intruder twice and is believed to have missed both times.

They haven't found the bad guy so they're not entirely sure that he missed. But, one of the first things you do when you're shot, whether a good guy or bad, is go to the hospital and there is no record of this right now.

The only way I can believe this is possible is either because he used the wrong type of shot for home defense, which we see a lot when people tell us they load their shotguns with bird shot. Don't get me wrong, bird shot can be utterly devastating at up close and personal distances. However, once you start to get away from that person, even just five feet can see the effectiveness of bird shot drop significantly.

Either he used an ineffective defensive round, he fired warning shots, or he subscribed to the myth of, “you don't need to aim a shotgun, just point and shoot.” No matter what, he was wrong in his thinking.

Now I wasn't there and the reporting doesn't specifically say what kind of shotgun or shot shells were being used so all we can do is assume and learn from what we believe to be true.

Here's the story:

Rome, NY — Police are investigating reports of shots fired this past Sunday after a masked male allegedly pushed in the upstairs air conditioning unit to gain entrance to the home.

The room he gained entrance to had three people in it, a man, a woman, and a 3 year old child. It's being reported at this time that the intruder assaulted the woman before moving on to the walk the rest of the house. At this time there is no information on what the adult male was doing while the woman was being assaulted.

The masked intruder was armed with a handgun and allegedly pistol whipped the woman with the gun multiple times.

At some point during this incident a neighbor became aware of the incident and brought his shotgun with him as he entered the house. This good Samaritan neighbor then chased the intruder throughout the home and fired one shot in his direction.

The police have said that they don't think the intruder was hit. (Likely they saw no evidence of it)

Shortly afterward, the intruder jumped out a second story window.

The neighbor ran out of the home to follow the intruder only to find him getting into a dark colored SUV which was reportedly right behind the residence where the incident occurred.

According to reports, just before he entered the vehicle, the intruder turned toward the armed neighbor causing the neighbor to fire a second shot toward the suspect. Police believe that the intruder was not hit a second time, though the SUV may have taken damage.


Living life under any myth can be dangerous. In this particular case, a few different outcomes could have happened. We don't know enough of the details about the shotgun being used, what gauge it was, the type of shot used, etc., so we can't really make many speculations.

What we can figure out, though, is that he either missed twice or used an under powered shot shell that didn't prove effective against the intruder. Either way, it could have turned out differently, but thankfully he just ran away.

It's highly important to know your gear, how it works, and what it'll do if you're ever presented with the dreaded opportunity to defend yourself.

Proper gun selection is just one of the topics we cover in our course titled Complete Home Defense. The knowledge you learn in this course should be worth as much to you as your life is. Click on that link above for more information on the course and how it can help you better prepare for a home defense scenario.


About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Ken Curtis on June 16, 2020 at 7:24 pm

    See Paul Harrell’s you tube videos on shot guns for home defense.

  2. drkhorse6 on June 19, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I too have a Mosberg 509 haning next to my bed but mine has a flashlight and a lazar on it that work together and if you dot it you got it. I use bird shot cause my longest shot in the house is only about 17 feet at the longest place.

  3. Clark Thomas on June 19, 2020 at 10:37 am

    I carry a Glock 43X with an extended mag 15 rounds but in my home I like my 20 gauge. Sawed off Mossburg pump w/ lazer and light.

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