Being a long gun fired from the shoulder, the shotgun is relatively accurate. Under duress, it is easy to miss a target with a pistol, especially a moving target. But a shotgun can hit a moving target with relative ease. The fact that the shot spread out, covering a much larger area than a single bullet also helps with accuracy. You can’t shoot skeet or trap with a pistol.
A full power defensive load of double-aught buckshot is 9 pellets of .33 caliber at supersonic velocities. Hit your attacker square in the chest, and it is a one-shot man stopper, for sure. And for a moving target, even if only a few pellets hit the mark, the effect is powerful and often deadly.
Some pistols are prone to jamming, especially if the mag springs are weak or the ammo is cheap. But a pump-action shotgun is ultra-reliable. Shoot. Pump. Shoot. Pump. And even semi-auto shotguns are rather unlikely to fail. That’s a high priority in a self-defense situation: a reliable firearm.
The sight of a home owner wielding a shotgun, and the sound of a round being chambered, is enough to send most bad guys running away. And in the rare case of an attacker who is not affected by that sight and sound, a single blast from the gun is very loud and very intimidating. If the attacker isn’t dead after that first shot, he will be running as fast as he can.
A good pump-action shotgun, like a basic model Mossberg or Remington, is relatively inexpensive. Current prices are well under $500. A good semi-auto pistol will cost the same or more. And the ammo is also relatively cheap and easy to find.
Well, I don’t know if there are any other PROS, but I’ve already convinced myself. A shotgun is a damn fine home defense weapon. Anyway, let’s look that the other side of the coin.
You can walk around the house and yard carrying (where legal) a pistol, concealed or open carry. But a shotgun is much less convenient to carry. You’ll probably want to have it in one location in the house, in a gun safe. Then you must retrieve it, when needed.
2. Muzzle blast
The sound and flash from a shotgun is intense, especially if fired indoors. You will want to have a pair of over-the-ears muffs to avoid damaging your hearing.
A 12 gauge shotgun is a formidable weapon, but that power means it has a lot of recoil. A less experienced shooter or someone who is recoil-sensitive, might find this disadvantage to be a serious problem. There are lighter recoiling loads, but they are also less effective.
4. Ammo Capacity
Shotguns tend to have lower capacity magazines than many pistols. And while 30-round mags are commonly used in ARs, a shotgun might have only 8 to 10 rounds. Reloading a semi-auto pistol or AR is fast, but shotguns are reloaded one round at a time. Granted, you probably won’t need to reload the shotgun, in most self-defense situations. But when the SHTF, you never know.
If I had to have only one firearm for home defense, maybe it would be a semi-auto pistol with a high-capacity magazine. But shotguns are relatively inexpensive, and very effective. So as one of several guns to own, it is in the top three: pistol, AR, shotgun. There’s a reason that 3-gun competitions use those three firearms, they are the three most useful ones for self-defense.