Shotguns: The Ultimate Survival Gun

Everything you probably need to know about Shotguns.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far” Teddy Roosevelt (excerpt of a West African proverb)


Get ready for a wall of text unlike any this site has ever seen. Below is a all encompassing introduction to shotguns, their parts and use. This article is to help anyone interested in shotguns whether novice or expert. I hope in writing this article it will help entertain and educate the members on shotguns and raise the bar on informational articles.

Shotguns come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Shotgun use is broad; from sport to hunting, law enforcement, home defense or even the military. In the tactical world a person who specializes in shotguns is often called a Pepper, PP (point pepper), Scattergun or Doorman. Shotguns are by far the easiest survival firearm to obtain, use and maintain. They are inexpensive and extremely reliable. Smooth bore shoguns can fire any appropriate gauge of ammunition except for sabot rounds.


Here is a brief description and break down of a shotgun’s main functioning parts.

The “receiver” is where we will start, since it is the main body of the firearm. It is the housing that all other parts of the gun are in or connected to. Inside the receiver is the “action”, or method used to slide the chamber open, which connects to “the bolt”, the part that holds the bullet in the “firing chamber”, usually located in the first 3” of the barrel. The bolt has an “ejector” and “feeder” attached to it. The ejector pulls the shell out of the firing chamber and ejects it from the gun, while the feeder takes a new shell from the “magazine” and places it in the firing chamber.

The magazine is a spring loaded device that holds ammunition that will cycle into the chamber. Internal magazines can not be detached to add more ammunition, where as removable magazines plug into the receiver and can be changed to add more ammunition. Internal magazines are usually a long tub with a spring on that pushes the shells to the loading ramp. The spring can be removed for cleaning via the “barrel screw cap”. Shotgun internal magazines often have different spring settings or caps and spacers for laws limiting capacity in certain states or countries.

The feeder, ejector, bolt and action work in a single mechanical motion to pull the old shell out of the magazine, cycle a new shell into the chamber and reset the “hammer” making the gun ready to fire again. The hammer, usually seated behind the bolt, is connected to the “trigger assembly”. When the trigger is pulled the hammer is released and it strikes the “firing pin”, which usually runs through the middle of the bolt. The firing pin strikes the primer on the shell, igniting the round. The “armature” the object or objects being fired travel out of the firing chamber through the “barrel”. At the end of the barrel, if the shotgun is equipped with a “choke tube”, the armature is guided into a smaller concentrated spray. Choke tubes are usually adjustable or removable.

The “recoil”, or rearward force of a fired round travels through the receiver and into the “stock”. The stock and/or handle, also known as a “pistol grip stock”, pushes back into wherever it was placed for the shot. If the stock is not “seated” against your body, it will make a hard impact that will probably hurt quite a bit. Once the stock is seated on your shoulder, as you look down across the top of the receiver, you will see the “sight” and will be able to aim the shotgun by lining it up with a target.

The only two parts left are the “safety”, which keeps the trigger from activating the firing pin, and the “slide lock”, also known as the “action release lever”, that locks the bolt closed. This is a basic description that applies to the majority of shotguns. In some models or descriptions the parts may have different names, but the purpose is the same.


pump action shotgun
Pump action shotgun is the most common type of shotgun in the world. It has a internal magazine tube under the barrel and a slide handle that fits around the magazine. The pump action is simple and reliable. They come in a wide variety of styles to suit the shooter and purpose from tactical military to casual bird hunter. If you are thinking about buying a shotgun this is the best place to start.

breach loading shotgun

Breach Loading shotguns are a one or two-barrel single-shot variety. The gun “breaks” at the action and the two halves of the gun fold into an “L” shape exposing the receiver. The shells are loaded directly into the barrels and the breach is snapped closed when straightened back to normal. Typically breach or break shotguns have 2 barrels configured in either a side-by-side or an over-under configuration. These guns are primarily used for sport shooting or hunting and can handle ammunition fired at a lot higher pressure than most other shotguns.

lever lock shotgun

Lever Lock shotguns were typical in the old west. Rarely used or made anymore, they are prized by wild west enthusiasts and collectors alike. A lever lock has a lever that creates a trigger guard when closed. When opened it cycles the next round into the chamber from the internal magazine tube. The spent round is ejected from the top. This type of gun usually comes in smaller gauges like 36 and 48, because it was meant to be used mainly while mounted on a horse.

Bolt Action shotguns are meant to be accurate above all else. They are used exclusively for hunting and can chamber extremely high pressure rounds. Often, Bolt Action shotguns are used with single projectile ammunition like slugs or sabot rounds. More often they are rifled barrels, not smoothbore. This helps with long-range accuracy.

semi-auto shotgun

Semi-auto shotguns fire whenever the trigger is pulled and a round is in the chamber. A growing number of external magazine varieties are becoming available. The most common type of semi-automatic shotguns are made for duck, goose and turkey hunting. They typically have an internal magazine tube and hold 3 + 1 rounds.

tactical shotgun

Tactical shotguns also come in a wide variety of types and loading types. These shotguns have been designed or redesigned specifically for close to medium range (10-75 yards) against humans. They are much lighter than sport or hunting variants and are a lot more resistant to jamming and weathering issues.

full auto shotgun

Fully Automatic shotguns continue to fire once the trigger is pulled until the trigger is released. There are few designs of Full-auto shotguns as they are only allowed to be used by the military, and are classified as destructive devices instead of firearms.


The shotgun’s most versatile part is the ammunition. I’m going to list a few and give a brief description, from least to most dangerous.

  • Less-than-lethal rounds are a rather large group of rounds designed to hurt or stun but cause no long-term damage.

Bag Shot
Shoots a lead powder-filled bean bag with a smaller charge. Once the bag hits the energy dissipates over a large surface area to cause a generalized blunt force trauma. It is exclusively used against the torso of humans to cause sudden pressure to the liver or the lungs. Ballistic armor does not help reduce the impact much and has the same results as an unarmored opponent. Bag shot is only used over 15 yards, but under 25 as to make sure the momentum is sufficient to cause the desired effect without causing severe internal damage. Major trauma or death could be caused under 15 yards.

Rubber Shot
Also know as riot shot, is a less than lethal round over 15 yards. Much like the Bag shot it has less powder behind it and it disperses 00 rubber buck shot. It has been used to stop rioters near police lines all over the world. It is often employed after a chemical dispersant has already been used, because the rubber balls can break bones and cause massive potentially life threatening internal hemorrhaging.

Baton Shot
A less than lethal round used for taking down singular agitators in riot scenarios. It fires a dense foam baton about 2″ in length from a 3″ magnum shell. The Baton breaks upon impact but releases large amounts of kinetic energy into a small surface area. Used properly it should knock a person to the ground with a center-mass hit.

  • Home-Defense Shot encompasses a wide variety of usually self-loaded or specialty-loaded rounds.

Pepper Shot
Rarely seen in today’s gun stores, but was widely used in the 1920-1950’s as a means of home protection that has little collateral damage. The round is packed with different grounds of black pepper as well as with dried pepper corns. The idea of this round is once fired at a person and the pepper blinds the attacker. Even with a center mass shot. The corns create bruising and let the attacker know that they have been shot with something. Without sight the attacker cannot tell what the actual damage to his body actually is.

Salt Shot is illegal in most states in the US, because the rock salt is meant to be embedded in the eyes and skin surface causing permanent blindness and severe scarring.

Sand Shot
Used in close range to cause large amounts of surface bleeding with little actual life-threatening damage.

2 Inch Shot
A form of usually 00 buck shot in a smaller shell with less powder. The effective range of 2″ is only a maximum of 50 yards. It is often used in enclosed tactical situations and for self defense.

  • Foul Hunting Shot – Range in pellet groupings from FF-9, with 9 containing the most pellets and FF containing the biggest pellets.

Rat Shot
A size 9 shot which is similar in size to sand. It is used mainly in house defense, hiker shot for snakes and wild animal deterrent, and for hunting rodents. The shot does not have deep penetration but creates a large surface wound and quickly leads to heavy metal poisoning.

Grounding Bird Shot
Size 4-8 is mainly used on quail, pheasants and grouse, birds that are ground-dwelling and take to flight at close range to the shooter. The shot is not deep penetrating. It is used more to break the fragile bones and have the bird fall out of the sky.

Varmint Shot
Size 5-9 is used mainly for deterring small animals like dogs and wolves or for hunting rabbit or squirrel. It is not deep penetrating and requires a shot usually under 30 yards for a kill.

Water Foul Shot
Has a wide range from BB-6. This shot is used mainly for deeper penetration on larger birds like duck and geese. The range is longer due to fewer shots at larger weights. The effective range is usually under 50 yards.

  • Large Game Hunting Shot – Range in number just like bird shot from triball-4.

Buck Shot
Usually ranges from 4-00. 00 buck shot is the most common hunting round in the entire world. It’s mainly used in hunting deer and elk. It is widely used by the police and military in most countries.

Boar Shot
Also called “Tri-ball” or “3-ball”, has 3 large pellets used to make a deep penetration and instant kill. The round is often used in close proximity to the target. Boar hunting requires an instant kill as a missed or non
lethal shot means the boar will charge you.

Bison Shot
00-0000 has deep penetration, often passing through most targets. Bison shot usually has a higher powder charge.

  • Long range shot is usually a slug variant and are effective from 50-150 yards maximum.

Slug shot
Fires a single large lead slug that has rifling on the bullet itself to impart some stabilizing rotation. It is typically used for large game like deer, elk, bison, moose and bear. It has deep penetrating power and isusually fired at 50-75 yards.

Sabot rounds
Uses a rifled barrel and are also used in hunting large game, but in more open,longer
range situations. The effective range is 100-150 yards maximum.

Magnum Shells
Typically used for longer-range flying targets and sport shooting (Trap and Skeet) are packed with 2 to 2 1/4 ounces of shot and are usually 3″ in length. Choke tubes are required to have the shot narrowed to a small spray at longer distances.

  • Military rounds (most are illegal in every country, or highly restricted)

Breaching Shot
Also know as a “Hatton Round”, it is a 12 gauge round of metal powder and wax or plastic. The round fragments and disintegrates after leaving the barrel. The effective range is under 1 foot. If fired at an individual it can have lethal results under 10 yards.

Ferret Round
A type of breaching round that disperses gas or powder when the armament breaks through a window or door. Often used to disperse pepper gas inside vehicles and homes for tactical entry.

Tazer Round
Shoots a battery-charged round that deploys stabilizing fins. When the fins lock in place 4 barbs are pushed out of the front of the projectile. When the barbs penetrate clothing or flesh they send an electrical shock through the target, immobilizing them.

Flechette Round
Contains about 20 steel feathered bolts that are loosely welded to a wire strip, much like nail gun strips. Soft armor is completely useless against flechette and it was internationally banned for war in the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual armament.

Dragon Slug
Shoots a payload of magnesium powder that ignites and disperses on impact. The maximum effective range is only 25 yards before the fuse burns out.

Dragon’s Breath
A 9 sized pellet of magnesium mixed with a small amount of Thermite to create an extremely hot spray of inflamed metal and gas. Again, the maximum effective range is under 25 yards.

Armor Piercing Shot
Typically 1-6 tungsten or steel darts that are backed by a large powder pack. There are AP rounds that can penetrate 3a with a 1/4 steel trauma plate. They are sometimes carried by anti-terrorist teams, but they are illegal for police to carry.

Buck and Ball Round
Often marketed as the optimal defense or war wound. It contains both a singular fragmenting slug round and 4-8 00 buck shot. This is one of the few rounds that can literally knock a 200lb person off his feet, because of the timing and grouping of the impacting rounds.

Strung Round
Fires a set of .50 lead shot connected by a steel wire. The balls penetrate the flesh and drag the wire between them causing massive internal wounds and a huge exit wound.

Rocket Dart
Also known as the “Momentum Sabot”, is a small hollow steel bolt that is fired out of the barrel with a small charge. Once the armature is ignited by the initial blast it propels itself towards the target and stabilizing fins pop out. The armature is less-than-lethal under 10 yards, as it requires distance to gain maximum force at 150 yards.

Frag 12
Comes in 3 variants; High Explosive, Fragmenting Explosive and High Explosive Anti-Personnel, A.K.A. Claymore grenades. It is a 12 gauge grenade round that releases stabilizing fins. Unlike 40MM rounds Frag 12 is meant to be shot at a straight trajectory and is meant for tactical strikes more over than suppression fire.


shotgun cleaning kit

Why are shotguns so versatile? Because some pump actions and breach loaders never HAVE to be cleaned. A firearm should always be treated well, by cleaning and/or regular maintenance, but a few types of shotguns just don’t require it to function.
For those of you who do not have a shotgun that you would risk never cleaning or oiling, first consult your owner’s manual. In your owner’s manual it will specifically tell you what you can and can’t oil. It is not intuitive what should be oiled on a lot of different types of shotguns. In shotguns specifically over oiling will gunk up a gun and make it non-functional.

Basic cleaning and inspection should be done on all guns after they cycle 100 rounds or more, or are going to be stored for a long period of time between uses. A service gun should be cleaned after every use, allowing it to be at peak performance at any moment.

Step one – Always make sure the gun is disarmed and unloaded. Cycle the chamber a few times to make sure, and open the bolt to look inside the firing chamber to visually see that no round is in the chamber. Place a finger into the firing chamber to make absolutely positive no rounds are in the chamber or can be cycled into the chamber. Once the gun is fully disarmed close the breach and pull the trigger to make sure it is functioning properly, then open the chamber again and leave it open.

Step two – Bore cleaning and inspection are the second part to a good cleaning cycle. Get a shotgun bore solvent and place it on a bore mop or wad of cloth. Stroke the bore solvent down the inside of the barrel into the open breach. Make sure to get the entire bore coated and inspect with a flashlight in the open breach and physically look down the barrel. Let the solvent soak for about 15 mins and while it’s soaking in, pull out your tooth brush. Using a light bit of solvent on a rag coat the inside of the receiver, and brush with the toothbrush getting the wall, ejector, loading ramp and firing pin area. Once the breach is cleaned and the bore has had time to soak, use a wire brush to scrub the barrel, removing any residue stuck to the sides. Once the barrel is well scrubbed, add solvent neutralizer to the end of a bore snake. Pull the bore snake through the barrel of the gun, cleaning out the rest of the residue and solvent. At this point the barrel should be relatively clean. Finish the job by adding neutralizing agent to a clean cloth and wiping off all the muck left in the breach.

Step three – Oil it. Put a tiny pit of gun oil on a mop or cloth and push it through the bore. It will put a tiny layer of protection inside the bore that will keep it from corroding. Open the breach and lightly oil the bolt rail and/or chamber. Lightly oil the ejector and the join connection, the action, slide, and the loader. Do not lube the firing pin, as it can guck up with dirt and unspent gunpowder.

Step four – Buff up the outside with a silicone infused cloth. Wipe off any excess oil and cycle the gun a few times to make sure the action is sliding smoothly. Inspect all the junctions where moving parts meet. Look for wear and tear and corrosion. Check the safety and trigger functions. Load the gun and cycle a full magazine out to double check that it is clean and working smooth. Congratulations, the gun is clean. Time to stow it away.

Field Strip will require you to read your manual and follow the recommended field-stripping protocol. You should strip your gun down to its major parts for a fine cleaning and inspection every 1000-2000 rounds. Follow the procedure in your manual to disconnect the slide, magazine, receiver, barrel, and trigger assembly. Check for any wear or corrosion on all moving parts. You should never take apart the trigger assembly. With the gun broken down it is easier to oil all the parts of the gun that require it. Make sure to check and clean the firing pin assembly.
Once you have finished the cleaning, inspection, and oiling, replace any broken or worn parts. Do not put a broken gun back together unless you absolutely have to. After the gun is put back together follow the previously mentioned step 4.

Full strips should only be done by certified gunsmiths. Usually full strips are only done in the event of a 10k shot tune up, where pins and other parts are swapped out for new ones. Or during major repairs where many internal parts might have been damaged.


shotgun for hunting
Tactics for hunting, much like armed tactics, have entire books written on them, so I will touch on these topics and give you a general idea of how to set up for certain game. The majority of game on earth can be and usually is hunted with a shotgun. Rifle seasons are becoming smaller or non-existent in some states and countries. It is always best to go hunting with knowledgeable and responsible hunters who will teach you the proper etiquette and techniques.

Sweeping a field is mostly used for hunting small birds or grounding birds like pheasants and quail. The hunters will form a line across a field with tall grass. They will slowly walk across the field with either dog or beaters slightly in front of them. The the bird will take flight when threatened and the hunter calls out location and direction if it takes off in his square so the hunter next in line can take aim and fire.

Stalking or tracking is by far the most rare form of hunting as it is difficult and time consuming. Basically, when fresh tracks, droppings or an animal is spotted, the hunter begins to follow it to find its general behavior and direction of travel. The hunter then tries to circumnavigate the prey to get into a shooting position while the prey freezes or becomes distracted. Only the most skilled hunters employ these tactics as masking scent, wind direction, body control and noise control are all huge factors. In general, this type of hunting is more trouble than it is worth.

Tree stand or elevated platform hunting is common for big game like deer, elk, and bear. The hunter looks for signs of high animal activity through the woods and finds a location where it is likely that the desired animal will wander by under normal activities. They either erect a platform or tree stand about 15-25 feet high, allowing them to stay hidden and masked from the prey. The prey wanders by or is called to the area with mating calls. There is usually a lure or sent lure in the prime shooting location. When the prey gets to a desired location and the shot is taken, the hunters must track the injured prey.

Hunting from a blind is most often employed for large water fowl. A blind is open on the top or has a flip mesh top and conceals your location, sound and scent. The blind usually has peep windows so that you can see the prey. Calls and lures are used to get more prey to the location surrounding the blind. When the first birds take flight, usually because a dog is released, the hunters jump up out of the top of the blind and begin a salvo into the flock that recently took off. The dogs retrieve the downed birds.


combat shotguns
The shotgun has many uses in tactical encounters, from high collateral damage to acute non lethal action. The most important place to start is close counters, because in general most shotgun action will be 5-40ft according to the IDPR (Illinois Department of Professional Regulations).

How to Practice
Most important to tactical shotgun practice is multi-firearm shooting. You need to learn to use at least a shotgun and a handgun. In body guarding, armed escorts, tactical entry and tactical team dynamics it is of utmost importance to know when and why to switch between weapon platforms. This practice is to make sure to you reduce the chance of friendly fire. If you are in front or on point, use shotgun. If anyone on your team might be in the line of fire in any way switch to handgun. The transition has to be smooth and without thought. In tactical competition shooting you must recognize if there are non-combatants at the station and act accordingly. If there are non-combatants then you must use a handgun to neutralize the threats and switch back to shotgun when going to the next station. There are competitors who are so exact with shotguns that they can hit a threat without hitting the non-combatant, but it can still hurt your overall score. Since a shotgun user is usually on point, it is important to practice obstructed-view shooting. This means practice moving around corners while maintaining a shot profile (an idea of what you are aiming at). You should never pop around a corner to shoot. You should always have your gun pointed forward and ready to aim. My last tip is always have 2 rounds in hand. Get used to loading on the fly. When you load 2 pull out 2 more. Try practicing the fire 2 reload 2 pull 2 as fast as you can. It is not easy, but just like handgun grandmasters, shotgun grandmasters reloading is as impressive and important a feat as firing. Ambidexterity in shooting is a must. Practice both sides, and allow for a sling or harness that won’t inhibit switching grips.

Entry team and door breaching
In the world of forced entry the front man is always the Pepper. A relatively new use for shotguns is door breaching, a.k.a. opening a locked door quickly. Usually a door breaching team consists of a Shield (1/3” steel plate backed by a hardened Kevlar), Pepper, and Ram or sledge hammer. They sneak close to the entry point and the Pepper will hide behind the Shield on one side of the entry and the Ram will wait on the other side. At this point the Pepper manually loads a “breaching round” and lines up to hit the door handle/lock mechanism down and toward the door frame. A distraction, usually flash grenades or 37mm smoke/TS rounds, are sent through the windows. Almost immediate to the distraction, the Pepper fires at the entry lock and drops behind the Shield to chamber a lethal round. The Ram hits the door dead center or towards the damaged end to knock the door open and the Shield opens his shield and body to cover a portion of the door to cover the approaching entry team. After a clear is given by the Shield the Pepper takes point and covers the main entry point from the inside as the rest of the team enters the residence. At this point the Pepper usually switches to handgun to follow the allotted team in clearing the building.

Clearing a house (solo or with a team)
When clearing a house work 1 room at a time and try to make it impossible for anyone other than your team or loved ones to get behind you without notice. In a team dynamic, 2-7 members, the point and rear are a constant. A 2-person team is not 1 guy in front, one guy aiming over his shoulder. There should always be a point or forward and a guard or rear. Point, usually a shot-gunner, makes sure the area to the front is clear of threats and reacts to threats as encountered. The guard makes sure that the immediate area cleared remains neutral. Imagine for a second that there is a hallway with a room at each end. The point is at one end of the hall and the guard is at the other end . The point’s job is to watch a 45-degree region to the front and nowhere else. The guard’s job is to cover 270 degrees from the back of the forward to the entire room previously cleared.
As a point you always keep an area of 45 degrees in front of you while you move. If a member needs to relay information to you they usually use hand signals by reaching around your shoulder so you can see it in your peripheral if auditory transmission is not possible. The point absolutely should never look backwards or stop observing the forward profile. When rounding corners you find a position in which you can see around the corner but do not give away a position. The shotgun should be pointed in the middle of the 45 degree visible space, not to the angle that will be soon revealed. As you slowly move from the wall into the cone of death (the area where you are in danger of being shot at) you move away from the wall in a backward 45-degree foot pattern. Sometimes this is called slicing the pie or the Z-pattern. The Z-pattern is like it sounds: you clear the inner angle walking to the door, fall back as you scan the inner room, and come forward to reveal the last angle from the opposite side of the entrance. Once the inner room is clear there are still 2 blind spots to check: the walls closest to you on either side of the entrance. This is problematic if the room is large enough or the door is in the middle of a room. When there is only one blind spot from the tip of the z-pattern you aim in the direction of the blind spot and rapidly pan at a rear-diagonal angle through the door and keep moving. If resistance is met you have the advantage of already being aimed at a fixed target and you are moving in a fashion that is not instinctual to track by a shooter.
If there is a closed door stand to the side of the door with the handle on it and turn the handle until it is ajar. Then get back into shooting position while the door is still mostly closed. If no observable actions have taken place move to the opposite wall by the door hinges. Use your foot; open the door slowly, no more than half way. Once the area is clear to the half of the room visible move into the room alongside the wall that was already cleared. Move around the outside of the room with the gun pointed towards the center. Clear the area that was not observable behind the door. When a room with a door is cleared, lock the door if possible and close it behind you. If it’s not possible put an item on the closed door that will not be able to be put back into position from inside the room, thus ensuring the area remains cleared. If rounds are used in the act of clearing a room reload before you move on. Always keep a full firearm so you don’t have to stop and reload when you run out. After a hallway or entrance is clear drag a piece of furniture across it and prop it so if its run into it falls over. The idea is that a person can not rush you and catch you by surprise. In moving around a house you will give away your position constantly. Just make sure that someone will have to do the same thing if they are trying to come after you.

Open warfare
I’m going to start by saying good luck. A shotgun’s effective range is 10ft-200yards max. If you are shooting 12ga 00 buck, which is used in most militaries, then your effective range will be more like 75-100 yards maximum. In open warfare you will be put on point only when the perceived shooting range is under 25 yards, like in jungles or urban regions, or whenever there is a choke point and no observable long,range vantage points. In warfare the Point relates to a fan formation or triangle. The point is the tip of the triangle that moves ahead of everyone else to clear or scout for the group. Its called the fan formation, because much like a Chinese fan the 2 wings can move in and out making a steeper angle but leaves a single point at the center. Other then specialty scenarios, a shotgun has limited use in open warfare. It is a close-range weapon compared to a rifle and is over-powered by alternatives such as full-auto suppression fire, grenades or 40mm grenade rounds. The shotgun’s use has sharply declined in military service since Vietnam, and today it is limited to special forces and rare situational use.

Civil Unrest Pacification (Law enforcement applications)
From a lone gunman, to a road block, or riot, the tactic is always the same: get behind cover and aim center mass. It is the policy of US law enforcement agencies that lethal force is to be expected when a firearm is pointed at any person. As such non-lethal ammunition is only ever loaded after a call is made to attempt to use non-lethal force. Other than cover and aim there is only 1 place where police tactic change: a riot. In a riot defensive line, the shield wall is backed by a row of officers with long batons called a Tanjo. Behind them are a row of shot-gunners. Behind them are grenadiers and another row of shields, then usually some cars or firetrucks with water cannons. When orders come for the shotguns to move in,usually because the pepper spray/ tear gas and water cannons haven’t done enough to disperse the rioters. The shot-gunners load non lethal rounds as appointed by the department. They move forward to the shield wall and aim through the clear shields. When the officer in the shield wall drops the shield low, the already aimed shotgun fires and the the shield comes back up. Rubber ball ammo is used most often in US riot scenarios. These balls cause large welts and bruises. If an agitator is too close the trauma is usually enough to make them fall to the ground and incapacitating them for a few minutes. If the agitator is in range of the wall they will move forward to cover the officers behind them, so they can drag the person back to safety and arrest them. This technique was repeatedly used in LA and Seattle to apprehend armed and violent rioters with out killing them.

Team Dynamic
A person who specializes in shotgun usually specializes in multiple weapon platforms. The shotgun is a specialty tool that isn’t often the right tool for the job. When a shotgun is needed there is no better tool. In SWAT and similar teams the world round, shotgun specialists study the use of 37/40mm grenade launchers, handgun, SMG and compact rifles. They aren’t “shotgun specialists”; they are often the “weapons specialists”. As a sniper is to a rifle the shot-gunner is to its shotgun name-sake. A broad specialty with many weapons and ammunition, not an acute but finite use on a single weapon. So if you aren’t the best shot in the world, then learn to be a good shot in everything and you will have a use in any team dynamic.

Upgrades (warning highly opinionated)

shotgun upgrades
With all the “Tactical” and after-market parts out there, it is easy to get lost in what’s useful. A shotgun never “needs” optics. They don’t effectively shoot so far you can’t see and it takes away the ability to see the peripheral area. If you need to upgrade the aiming potential of the shotgun, try a night site ,iron sight, or bead sight. Other than that a shotgun is perfect as it is. Pistol grips by themselves are rather useless as you can no longer get a proper shot lined up. Folding stocks and adjustable stocks with a pistol grip are a good tactical pick, as the grip allows for more control of the weapon and when not in use the gun collapses for easier storage or carry. Slings are a very useful upgrade. Make sure you don’t over load a bandoleer sling full of rounds, or you won’t be able to lift or maneuver the gun. Make sure that the orientation of the sling allows you to use it to keep your shotgun shouldered, and allows for the slide and ejector to operate uninhibited. Gun lights or aiming lasers? If you are really into tactical shooting and competition or in the field of enforcement the light is a nice improvement. It can be set so that the light shows the general spray pattern of the shot you are using. It allows for reactionary shooting, without aiming. It also gives you a clear view of what you are about to shoot. Aiming lasers, not really useful honestly. If the light doesn’t work and you can’t aim a shotgun, then you have no business using one. Bayonet? Ha! If you ever would need one this would be the gun to put it on, but seriously would you ever really need a knife on a gun? Extra rounds mounted to your gun… Unless it is recessed into the stock seriously what is the point? It throws off the balance of the gun, they usually rattle and become loose. They snag on things easily and the rounds aren’t that easy to pull out and load into the gun. Get a nice shogun ammo pouch for your tactical belt and you will be better off.


Course notes and seminars
“Center Axis Re-lock” by Paul Castle is a course designed and taught by Paul Castle or Saber-tactical for Pistol, Shotguns and Rifles. The class cost about $1500 now, and as of yet there is no major literature produced by the creator.
Illinois Department of Professional Regulations- Shotgun qualification course notes.
Useful tactics for counter terrorism and personal protection Seminar notes.

Website articles
Mossberg 590 Owners Manual acticles; Mr. Smashy’s 8 part series on the Survival Shotgun…
Wikipedia articles for; Shotguns, actions, riot police, forced entry, Mossberg, Bennelli, Winchester, Remmington, hunting, large game, small game, water foul hunting, flechette, explosive rounds, gauge, and Hello Kitty ™

Books & Magazines
May 2011 issue of Guns and Weapons article LE Shot-shell Firepower and Combat-proven ammo tactics to keep your shotgun ready for the fight!
August 1999 issue of Guns Magazine article MMC Tactical Shotgun Sights -by Roy Huntington
The Tactical Shotgun: The Best Techniques And Tactics For Employing The Shotgun In Personal Combat by Gabriel Suarez
“Field and Stream” magazine, 2009,2010, January-March 2011

Personal interviews of experts in Shotguns and tactics
Personal interview with Chief Inspector David Hughes on close combat tactic in policing and private enforcement.
Personal interview with Jerry Herbeck, NRA member and avid sport hunter.

Picture Sources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.