Just the Tip: No Bullets from Billy Mays
Erik “Trek” Utrecht, @michigantrainer
The shotgun is one of the most versatile and effective defensive tools available to the responsibly armed citizen, sometimes the only one available to those living behind enemy lines in gun-control states. It also tops the list of firearms with the most amount of incorrect, utter Internet derpdom misrepresented as fact.
Unlike what many fatuous chuckleheads might say, genius VP Joey “Drunk Uncle” Biden included, the shotgun requires discipline from the user to make it effective instead of a liability. Shotgun “common knowledge” is often nothing more than range lore and Hollywood myth. You still have to aim. You’ll likely need to do more than rack the action to avoid a fight. The 12-gauge isn’t always the only bore worth using, nor for that matter are double-ought and slugs the only rounds suitable to fight with.
On the subject of ammunition, you still need to know the pattern of your ammunition, in your shotgun. It’s very important to understand every individual shotgun will shoot differently than an identical model owned by another person, even with the same ammunition. A serious gun owner will do their own data gathering and not take Interwebz “well, this is my best load” statements as gospel.
[Some shotshells out there look interesting enough. Some would sound great described in a Casca or Mack Bolan novel. Do you know enough about them to bet your life on their performance?]
It goes without saying that environment will influence proper defensive ammunition as well.
One of the most egregious bits of misinformation involves that of ammunition selection; more specifically, the repeated offering of fad ammunition marketed to shotgun owners (and for that matter, to all gun owners).
Just because something looks cool, uses the term trocars, or has grandiose declarations written across the box, that does not mean that one should use it. This applies to training and especially to situations where life and limb might depend on it. So do some research. Find out what sort of street record it has, and if LEOs have used it. What sort of ballistic performance has it demonstrated?
If the bullets you’re considering are called anything that sounds like it’s from a SyFy movie (Annihilator, Devastator, Terminator, Double Secret Omega Discombobulator), stay away from it. If there’s a video about it and the narrator sounds like Don LaFontaine, steer clear.
The science of ammunition is ongoing. Bullet technology has improved substantially over the last three decades, and will doubtless continue to do so. Ammo is getting better.
But barring an MiB- or Newcomer-driven quantum leap in metallurgy or gunpowder, any ammo descriptions delivered in Billy Mays or Susan Powter style is likely just bullet blivic.
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About the Author: Erik “Trek the Trek” Utrecht is a Breach-Bang-Clear contributor and the HMFIC for the Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute (MDFI, progenitor of the You Suck It’s Not The Gun pistol course). He is a tactical gypsy who rides a Motoped Survival named Leeroy Jenkins and carries a Remington 11-87 Youth Compact named Vera, which as we see it automatically puts him one tier higher on the food chain. A former USAF 811X0, FLETC graduate, and savvy investigator, he’s the dude who rode a bicycle unsupported from northern Michigan to the Arizona-Mexico border to raise awareness of the Brian Terry Foundation (Trek’s Trek). He has excellent taste in friends, booze, and cigars.
If his predisposition toward the latter is a result of lingering in the Freudian Phallic Stage, well, who are we to judge? Trek is an outspoken and unexpectedly articulate proponent of the Second Amendment, which is no doubt why he has been called upon to speak before the Michigan state legislature on gun-related issues.
Hey man, in the photo with the guys shooting: what model is that shoulder holster? Or it is a chestrig? If so, what model?
MDFI is hands down the best firearms training company in Michigan. Trek is an excellent instructor who imparts knowledge and critical skills on his students while making lernin fun. This is the tip of the shotgun iceberg. Dive into one of Trek’s shotgun classes to see what you’ve been missing.
Personally I’m a fan of #4 buck. 27 high velocity bits of hate and discontent with one pull of the trigger.
That said, the one exotic round I’ve found that I really do like is called “Rhodesian Jungle”.
While the ad copy is clearly hype what I love about this round from my Mossy 500 is that at 10 yards the smaller shot throws a pattern about 4x larger than the 00 that’s the core of the round. So while I get about 3″ with the 00 I get ~8″ of diameter with the smaller stuff which is actually quite a bit more than I get with #4 buck out of the same barrel (~5″ at that range). The end result of this round is something that puts out a good pattern for home defense, doesn’t throw 9 pellets of 00 for potential over penetration with a miss and, should I be forced to use it, will very likely at least catch Mr. Bad Guy with part of the pattern, which while likely not lethal, will certainly give him something to think about and slow him down a bit.
As with everything, YMMV.