I have often stated that the shotgun isn’t just a weapon, it is a weapons system. The new Home Defender products from Lightfield ammunition underscore this statement. The shotgun will digest birdshot, buckshot, slugs, bean bags and all manner of munitions. It is common to use rubber ball guns and tear gas guns in Europe. Again, non-dedicated adversaries such as those attempting an (unarmed) break-in and against dangerous animals that are roaming the property, these munitions have merit. On the basis of short range alone, they will serve. But make no mistake, the legal consequences of an injury by these munitions must be faced, and the same rules apply as with any lethal encounter. BB guns, lead air gun pellets, and even paintballs have killed individuals. In at least two unfortunate incidents, blank guns have killed movie actors.
I mentioned some of the rubber ball guns in Europe. It was also common in Holland, prior to World War Two, for officers to load their five-shot .38 caliber revolvers with a blank, two tear gas cartridges, then two ball rounds. The concept of using nonlethal ammunition in a lethal weapon is long established. So is the concept of, “just have a bad guy go away.” The concept of taking a life is so abhorrent to some that they look for a nonlethal means of personal defense. For those of such a mind and others, a 20 gauge shotgun with this rubber ball ammunition just may be the answer.
If you keep these rounds in the pump shotgun, the act of racking the shell into the chamber has been known to make strong men flee. When you fire, that is another warning—and when he is hit, he may not realize it wasn’t a full load of buckshot. The good thing about the shotgun is the non-lethal round will be first up and you can back it up with buckshot. Now, if the perp is firing at you, all bets are off and go to the buckshot load. Otherwise, the rubber-ball load just may work. In police work, many agencies require the shotgun used for nonlethal beanbag loads and the like be specially marked and never loaded with slugs or buckshot. This is a good idea, and in all cases, you should be certain of the loading.
Lightfield tells us the rubber slug is very accurate inside of a home defense situation. I have fired a goodly number of similar rounds, intended for practice, by a company that made slugs for European boar. They were very accurate to about 15 yards. Rubber slugs have a solid hit when striking steel reaction targets, will actually move an eight-inch gong. They also have been proven accurate enough to hit man-sized targets to about 20 yards.
Be certain you know the point of impact versus point of aim for these loads if you rely upon them outside of home defense distance. They may fire as much as a foot high or a foot low, although this isn’t noticeable at home defense ranges. If you have a large dog chasing your cattle, this is a good load to keep on hand, or even for introducing youngsters to the shotgun. Recoil is nonexistent. Remember—in certain conditions such as a hit to the soft areas of the neck, this load could be lethal.
By using this load, you have shown a reluctance to take a life in a life-threatening situation. On a final note, like most long-time trainers, I have suffered a number of hits by bullets that bounced off hard wooden frames— and once by a lead bullet that bounced off of a subjects car during an in service incident. Each left a bruise and carried far less energy than the 20 gauge ball loads by Lightfield.
They should be in the arsenal. Just in case.
Have you ever considered a less-than-lethal round for home defense? Tell us your choice in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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