Shotguns: The Best Home Defense Tool Ever Made

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms

I was serving in the Persian Gulf during the L.A. Riots in the early ‘90s. I called home on a MARS station (Military Auxiliary Radio System) to see if everyone was safe and out of danger. My mother answered the phone and said she could see fires burning from three different directions. From 8,000 miles away, I instructed her to get a pump shotgun from the spare room and made sure she knew how to load it.

She was worried. I assured her the sound of chambering a round was very distinctive, and if she was really worried about shooting someone to touch a round off into the ceiling—no one would likely stick around to see if she got more accurate with the second shot. She assured me if came to that, I would not have to worry about patching a hole in her ceiling. That’s my mom…

I think she grabbed the well-suited Mossberg 500 back then. I am from the school that believes the bigger the bore, the better the boom in a home defense situation. But by no means is that statement meant to discourage someone from using a 20-gauge or a .410. I would prefer something bigger and feel most anyone can handle one, but in the end, a small gun you can wield is better than no gun or the one you are afraid of handling.

IAC Hawk Model 982

Interstate Arms Hawk Model 982 is a super buy at $199 and a solid home defense or behind the truck seat shotgun.

Recently one of the best, low-cost options for a security shotgun to cross my path is the Interstate Arms Hawk Model 981R and Model 982. Am I alone? Hardly. I have not checked the numbers lately, but a few months back it was our top selling firearm. I am sure price has a lot to do with it, but when your life could possibly be on the line, it has to work reliably, the first and every time.

Next to the Mossberg 500, I would say the next most popular shotgun for home defense over the years is the Remington 870. Thinking about it, mom would have been just as likely to have grabbed an 870 that day several decades ago, but I digress. The Interstate Arms Hawk Model 982 is close, actually very close, to being a direct clone of the Remington 870. Not all of the parts are interchangeable, but many are.

As the old saying goes, “You can’t step into the ring with Ali just because you say you can box.” And so I decided to take a closer look at the Model 982 and see just how close and reliable it really is.

Interstate Arms Hawk Models 981R & 982

Okay, let’s be upfront and start with the downside. This shotgun is basically a Chinese-made Remington 870 manufactured by Norinco and imported by Interstate Arms. That is a turnoff for many, which I understand completely. Leave a comment if you’d like, but we all get it.

Nonetheless, it is still our top seller, so a lot of people have looked past its origin.

The IAC Hawk does a great job of doing exactly what the manufacturer intended it to do, which is to be a rugged, home-defense gun—and it comes in two different flavors. Because it is patterned after one of America’s favorite 12-gauge pumps, the IAC Hawk 981R features a machined solid-steel receiver, 18.5-inch barrel, 3-inch chamber and bead sight. This traditional pump-action model is fitted with polymer stocks, recoil pad and comes decked on a black matte finish. Distinguishing the Model 981R from her sister, is the picatinny rail topping the receiver for your favorite optic and a bead sight.

The Model 982 is identical with all the same features including a 5+1 capacity, but has preinstalled ghost ring sights instead of a rail—and if you have priced out ghost rings lately that is a great deal. The price? $199. However, I am a bird hunter and occasionally get out for a round of skeet, trap or sporting clays. Therefore, I am not a big fan of sights on a shotgun—turkey guns and slug guns for deer would be an exception of course, but those are longer-range guns. In a home defense situation, just eye your target; you’ll hit what you’re looking at, so either model is great.

Other than that, it is hard to knock the construction. The extractor and ejector are machined which beats its American counterpart that uses MIM (metal injection molded) parts. As mentioned, the receiver is steel as is the trigger guard.

Times are tough and everyone’s looking for a deal these days. Often, that means you get what you pay for. The IAC Hawk, however, seems to be an exception and provides plenty of quality at a great price. In fact, although it hurts me to admit, better quality at a fraction of the price of some of my favorite guns.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: 12-gauge
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
  • Chamber: 3-inch
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Stock: Polymer
  • Finish: Matte black finish
  • Receiver: Machined, solid steel
  • Sights: Adjustable ghost ring sights
  • Length: 38.5 inches in overall length
  • Weight: 7 pounds

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Comments (40)

  • Prepare for Riots


    […] Shotguns: The Best Home Defense Tool Ever Made […]


  • Full Article


    I enjoy the information on your web sites.
    Appreciate it.


  • King Ghidora


    I’ve seen some pretty bad information in this thread. First off a shotgun does NOT have a huge dispersal pattern as has been suggested. At 30 feet your average shotgun spread will be about 5″. And 30 feet inside a house is a long way. Second it is easy to reload a shotgun as you are firing almost. You shoot a round and feed another round in the bottom if you’re using a pump. A butt cuff can allow you to carry 5 or 6 extra rounds. Add that to a true HD shotgun (mine holds 5 rounds in the tube) and that’s 10 rounds on the gun. If you are in your defense position, which you should be with your phone, you can store extra ammo there.

    You won’t have as much ammo available as you do with many handguns but you won’t need as many either. Keep in mind that a 12 ga., 00 buck shell holds 9 pellets that are bigger than a .32 caliber bullet (each one is bigger) so in effect you are firing your pistol 9 times every time you pull the trigger. A 20 ga. will fire smaller pellets so IMO they are not as effective as a 12 ga..

    Also forget that stuff about scaring an intruder with the sound of a shotgun being racked. The first sound they should hear from you should be the last sound they ever hear – boom. If you go for the gun you should be prepared to use it.

    The one and only drawback of a shotgun is they are longer than handguns. That can cause problems getting off the shot you want to fire. But you will have far less over penetration. It really depends on your situation. If you live all alone in a remote country location you may want a battle carbine type weapon (AR-15, SKS, AK, etc.). If you live in an apartment building you may want to use a sword. They can be very effective especially if they are short enough to work in tight spaces. I have a machete (about the same length of a short sword). It will take your arm off at the wrist very quickly. I’ve seen it cut through 2.5″ of tree limb without slowing down. Likely as not you’ll have to learn to sharpen one to that level.


  • Gem Gram


    In answer to Joe. No, handguns are far more likely to cause collateral damage than a shotgun loaded with bird shot. Handgun bullets penetrate walls much better than birdshot, and do more damage after penetrating a wall than birdshot. Fire your hand gun into a simulated wall sometime (especially sheetrock) and see the damage it will do on something on the other side. A handgun round might even exit the body of a perpetrator and kill or greatly harm someone else in a house, a load of birdshot will not.

    Of course any gun is better than no defense BUT, loaded with buckshot the shotgun is the very best defensive weapon within fifty yards, loaded with birdshot nothing is better in less than ten yards (which IS the distance inside most rooms in a house).

    And last but not least, NOTHING scares the hell out of a criminal, and I mean nothing< as much as the sound of the racking of a pump shotgun or the snap of a double barrel being slammed shut. Well except maybe the boom from one going off! 😉



  • Joe Johnson


    I think shotguns are great guns, but may not be the best option for the home. The risk of collateral damage is too high. Instead of taking out a home intruder, you may end up injuring one of your loved ones. I myself prefer handguns – to each his own.

    I made a list of the best guns for home defense. Let me know what you think. Keep up the great blog! -Joe


  • WhoWuddaThunkIt


    A “Loaded and Ready Gun” next to you, is the best home defense. Those guns locked away in a Gun Safe are useless, when seconds count. On Average, within 5 seconds an Intruder Thug could easily kick in the average Front Door of any home, with a gun pointed at you. Just be ready physically and mentally to hit back faster and harder. Boom Boom!! Boom Boom!!


  • Mark


    Heck, there are still many a folk that use a good old “Coach-Gun” for HD. I love how that term has never left our traditional “lexicon”–How many times have you uttered the words “I’ve Got Shotgun” when heading out as a kid with Mom&Dad, Sister and Brother on a trip (back when Gas was affordable, the grass was green and life just seemed so much better (man I guess I’m showing my age…).


  • Gem Gram


    In the heat of the moment ANYONE can short stroke a pump. Personally I prefer a Benelli but can find no fault with many gas operated semi’s as they simply kick less and are just as dependable if cleaned. Of course they do lack that wonderful sound of a racking pump gun. I believe many lives (mostly criminals who decided they enjoyed living) have been saved by that wonderful sound.

    Since the gun grabbers seem to wish to save criminals they should require all AR owners to have a pump shotgun. Once a criminal came through a window into my house late at night; when I was supposed to be away. I woke to hear my wife racking a shell into that shotgun and asking the guy if he wanted to get shot. He immediately dived back through the window and ran like hell. Which actually in all likelihood saved his life. If she had simply screamed he would have kept coming and surely have died from what I would have done immediately afterwords.

    Police friends tell me that the sound of a 870 being jacked has saved unbelievable numbers of criminals who seemed willing to fight until they heard that distinctive sound of the “Opening of Heavens Gate”.

    By the way, I am always amazed by all that crap that has come out for fools to “add to a shotgun”. Other than that tube extension to put in a few extra rounds all those add on’s do is screw up what has evolved for four hundred years into the quickest handling weapon anywhere. Otherwise people would use something else to shoot fast moving quail. The same thing that works for them works amazingly well on humans.

    Remember it was not the Colt, nor the Winchester in the hands of a man that actually “Won the West”. It was a plain old shotgun in the hands of a scared woman standing in front of a bunch of scared kids that really did. The man was off doing manly things like hunting or some such thing leaving her to do most of the work and all of the protecting of those kids. Of course that never played as well on television or at the Movies. :-)


  • Mark



    I can’t find anything I would disagree with in your post–some good stuff there (thank you for your service BTW). I have both pumps and semi-autos and I too would go to either my 1187P or Saiga-12 over my Mossberg Pumps. For those of you who may be familiar with good old Hickok45 on YouTube (guy shoots as well as anyone I have ever seen in terms of the sheer variety of weaponry) has a very good video comparing the pump vs. semi action shotgun. Even he short-strokes the pump.


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