Shotgun Myths

By CTD Rob published on in Firearms, General

I love shotguns. They are among the most devastating close range weapons available. Pump actions, autoloaders, or breechloaders—they’re all fun to shoot and highly versatile. However, Joe Biden’s ridiculous comments aside, there are truckloads of Hollywood myths the casual firearms enthusiast hears about these types of weapons. I think its time to clear the air.

You Don’t Have to Aim

Remington 870 Pump Action Shotgun

Remington 870 Pump Action Shotgun

Shotguns do indeed make excellent home defense firearms. I would argue there are better ones, but that is another post. A shotgun is typically reliable, deadly and easy to operate. However, I’ve heard people claim that you don’t have to aim a shotgun. This is obviously garbage. Yes, shotguns do indeed throw projectiles in a pattern that spreads apart the further away the pellets travel. However, the pellets in a shotgun shell don’t begin to spread apart until they travel some distance. Depending on what type of shot you are using, at 25 feet you may get as little as a six-inch pattern on your target. The plastic wad, which holds the projectiles together and increases muzzle velocity, simply doesn’t have enough time to open. Pointing the shotgun in the general direction of an intruder is not only careless, but also less effective. Just like a rifle, a shotgun must be pointed directly at what you intend to shoot.

Racking One in the Chamber

This is a misnomer and something that really gets under my skin—the thought that the sound of a pump-action chambering a shell will scare away an intruder. I’ve heard this from gun shop owners, dealers and private collectors alike. I have no idea where this came from, but this seems like a odious idea. When you chamber a shell in an otherwise quiet house, you just gave the intruder two tactically important bits of information. You gave away your location and the fact that you are home. If the crook didn’t have his gun out and ready, he certainly does now. Instead of fleeing, they may decide to start shooting in the direction of the sound. What could have been a very short; one-sided victory for the homeowner is now a two-way gunfight. This is something I would prefer to avoid. If you loudly chamber a shell and they do happen to run away, consider yourself extremely lucky.

Rock Salt

Rocksalt Load

From theboxotruth.com

Old TV westerns and Quentin Tarantino revenge movies can’t be wrong, can they? The gist of the myth is that a shot shell loaded with rock salt makes an especially painful home defense round. While I don’t doubt that getting shot with a load of salt would seriously ruin your day, I stand by the fact that this is generally inconsequential. First, rock salt is not nearly as dense as lead, therefore it makes a poor excuse for a projectile. When you fill a shot shell with a very course grain salt, you’ll notice the shell still feels empty. Very little mass means that those projectiles are going to decelerate very quickly. Outside of about 12 to 20 feet, you are not going to do much but make someone very angry. This brings up another point. If you are in a situation where you have to defend your life, wounding an armed assailant may just buy that person enough time to kill you. Either shoot to kill, or don’t shoot at all.

What are some shotgun or rifle myths you know of? Share with us below and help debunk the myths!

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Comments (47)

  • Brian

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    Chelle–The goal of any deadly force confrontation is to stop the aggressor It is possible a home invader might learn their lesson without being killed. Again, the goal is always to make the invader stop the aggression–not stop breathing!

    Reply

  • Chelle Armstrong

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    I promise you that I will not let an intruder leave my home in anything other than a body bag. If I do, and the idiot hurts or kills their next victim, then I am just as much to blame.

    Reply

  • nitro8512

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    As a former police officer, for some time, when conducting a search in low or no light conditions with a flashlight, I would extend both arms in front of me and cross them at the wrists, with the wrist of my gun hand resting on top of the wrist of my hand holding my flashlight. During one such search, a fellow officer told me to actually hold my flashlight off to my side. The reason became obvious. The flashlight will give away position, and if a bad guy is intent upon firing on you, what better target than the light you are carrying. If you are holding the light in front of you, in the immediate vicinity of your weapon and the bad guy fires, they are firing in the general vicinity of your face. By holding it to the side, there is nothing behind the light but open space for the bad guy to fire at. Of course, this applies pretty much to handguns. I don’t know that I could accurately handle any long gun with a single hand, while holding a flashlight in the other away from my body.

    Reply

  • John

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    How about if you own a pump shotgun… ALWAYS keep one racked and the gun on safe?
    Very easy to quietly slip a safety off. Plus you get to keep another shell in the pipe… DUH???

    Reply

  • Richard Peters

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    Not sure if this is a myth, or if it is substantiated. Is Silly putty a good home defence round? I have heard that it is dence enough to make a hell of an impact, but I haven’t seen much testing on the subject. What are your thoughts. I found this idea on youtube. There is video of this being tested on objects, but no mesurements are being taken, and it looks to be mostly backyard shooting.

    Reply

  • lawinstructor

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    I most certainly hope that you dont consider yourself an expert, most of what you said is correct with the exception of the statement that you shoot to kill After you shoot an intruder and you tell the police you shot to kill the intruder, you will find yourself in a world of legal trouble. As a law enforcement instructor and a firearms instructor for 20 years both law enforcement and civilian I NEVER teach someone to shoot to kill. You shoot to stop the hostile action because you were in fear for your life You delivered accurate fire until the intruder ceased his hostile actions. (the fact that he dies does not matter, you simply shot to stop him as quickly as possible to end the threat)….I certainly hope that you dont continue to preach that MYTH

    Reply

  • Turk

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    From personal experience, I must disagree with you on how far rock salt carries. It will easily break skin, and draw blood EXCEEDINGLY PAINFULLY at 50 YARDS. I know this for a fact, and that’s as much detail as I’m willing to go into on the subject. (grin)

    Reply

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