WHEN SHOTGUNS ARE USED LIKE RIFLES 101, by Dave McCracken
By now, you've probably figured out that a reliable, short-barrelled repeating shotgun stoked with slugs is a large caliber carbine of great effect and utility. While having less effective range than centerfire rifles, many shotguns and their owners are capable of effective shots up to 100 yards and further in certain circumstances.
Many Eastern deer and hog hunters use shotguns and slugs. Some because of game laws in that area, and some because the combination of a big chunk of lead and medium velocity means short blood trails and meat edible right up to the hole. Some use shotguns because that's what they have.
Shotguns with fully rifled barrels are really 12 gauge rifles.They've little versatility, but they can be very accurate at ranges long thought to be excessive for shotguns. A Tar Hunt shotgun or Browning's now-discontinued bolt action with proper ammo and a good scope are capable of shots past 100 yards giving clean and humane kills. With the right variable scope, these also work for brush hunting.
More versatile is a short-barrelled repeater fitted with choke tubes and with a rifled tube in place. Lots of general purpose shotguns give yeoman service like this. My pet 870 for deer with the rifled tube in place keeps them under 4" at 100 yards from the bench. Many folks do better after a little slug testing and tweaking. If I swap the tube for an IC, groups open to 5 1/2", but not with that slug. Shotgun ballistics still have a touch of mystery to them.
Still more versatile though perhaps less accurate is a simple open choked barrel with no tube threading. These have the advantage of simplicity and reliability, Some barrels with plenty of choke do well with a particular slug, but not with different brands.
"Serious" shotgunning is that in which Human life or death depends on the tool and expertise. Combat falls under this, of course, and so does hunting dangerous game or just being in that dangerous game's territory. Many guides in Alaska keep a pump loaded with slugs close in bear country. So do those Rangers on our parks that deal with nuisance bears that have to be relocated.
As for combat, a bit of recent history.
A few decades ago, New York City dealt with armed robberies in Harlem and other high risk areas by having a squad of excellent shots stake out high risk businesses and engage robbers when they tried to rob.
The Stake Out Squad had considerable control over their weapons. While all had handguns, their longarms included 9mm subguns, M1 carbines and Ithaca 37 pump shotguns. After numerous real world firefights, the longarm of choice became the Ithaca loaded with slugs. Nothing else could match the one shot stop record of the Ithaca and those .73 caliber hunks of soft lead.
Even today, nothing can.
I see a hand up in the back. You, the guy
with the black BDUs....
Actually, the rifle can do less. While unmatched for accuracy and range, a rifle does shotgun things like small game and wingshooting very badly. A shotgun does rifle things better.
And, one can field a fine shotgun for less than any of the major battle rifles cost. The cheapest military semi auto, the SKS, is an exception.
The best approach for disaster scenarios would be having at least one of each, but how many guns can YOU run with? The shotgun just fills more niches.
I see another hand up.....
"So what do you recommend as a good choice for this?"....
Your Mileage May Vary, but a Big Four Pump with decent sights, good trigger, and a great pad would be close to optimum for me.
Pump for the best reliability with ALL the ammo spectrum.
Decent sights, possibly a peep's the best or a LOW power scope,something less than 3X.
A good trigger, for obvious reasons.
A great pad, with it and the stock fitted to the shooter for reasons equally obvious. Slug guns kick,even with the newer reduced loads.
Dave McCracken has been shotgunning longer than many shooters have been alive. He regularly posts on TheHighRoad.org and TheFiringLine.com. This article is reprinted here with his permission; reprinting or redistributing this article without his permission is expressly prohibited.