Throwback Thursday: Coach Guns — Double Barreled Defense

Side-by-side shotgun with action open and loaded

The short-barreled double-barrel shotgun with hammers is often called a coach gun or side-by-side shotgun. This type of shotgun was once the preferred weapon to guard stagecoaches. Many years before the type was used in the Old West, the coach gun was used to guard European coaches from dangerous highwaymen. This coach gun was at times called the blunderbuss.

Coach Guns

Coach guns are formidable shotguns capable of defending the home. The pump shotgun and the self-loader are more complex, more expensive, and more difficult to train with. There is nothing simpler than the hammer-fired double-barrel shotgun, save a single-shot shotgun. I have seen many double-barrel shotguns at ready in the home or on the farm, and they are capable of dispatching unwanted pests and varmints as well as members of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class.

Pump action shotgun top, coach gun below
Compared to a pump-action shotgun the double barrel is compact.

A different variant, the double-barrel striker-fired shotgun, was used by New York City cops until at least the 1970s. The double-barrel with two loads of buckshot was ideal for taking dangerous felons at gunpoint. With a powerful firearm and an instant second shot, coupled with excellent handling qualities, these shotguns filled a real need.

A correspondent tells me his western police department kept double-barrel shotguns in 20-gauge until at least the 1980s, along with pump-action 20-gauge shotguns. At close range making felony arrests in tight quarters, I am certain these were formidable firearms. The double-barrel shotgun is an excellent all-around shotgun for defense use and ideal for many of us.

Double-Barrel for Defense

For personal defense, the double-barrel handles quickly and points well. They aren’t well suited for tactical use by special teams, but for home defense, double-barrels, particularly short-barrel coach guns, are ideal.

Everyone’s budget and circumstances do not allow purchasing an expensive defensive shotgun. The double-barrel is simple to use well. Simply break open the action and load the shells then close the action. To fire, cock the hammers and pull the trigger. Each hammer is cocked individually. You may wish to cock them one at a time, or both at once in anticipation of firing. Modern Century Arms double-barrel coach guns also feature a handy tang-mounted safety. I like this safety for use once the hammers are cocked, it is a good feature when moving in the home. Real safety is between the ears and involves keeping the finger off of the trigger until you fire. I recommend cocking only one hammer at a time until you are very familiar with the shotgun.

2 paper targets with multiple holes from birdshot
This is a mix of birdshot and buckshot at 15 yards.

The double-barrel shotgun offers a formidable deterrent. From the images of old west guards riding shotgun on a stagecoach to the modern hammer-fired double, the double-barrel has an unmistakable image and the threat of a double-charge of buckshot. The modern hammer-fired double barrel has the advantage of simplicity.

Shotgun Training

The double-barrel is also easy to train with. Another advantage is that with two loads, you can stage the load. A lighter load first and then buckshot for problems inside the home. The load may be changed quickly if the problem is a dangerous animal such as a rattlesnake just outside the door or a predator such as a coyote farther away.

For those in an urban setting, the shotgun with proper loads makes for a good Brooklyn special. It is politically correct and legal where other types of long guns are not. There is also the appeal of coach guns as a low-key defensive shotgun that doesn’t have much negative connotation. The double-barrel is about as politically correct as a shotgun can be. We wish we did not have to consider this, but sometimes we do.

exposed hammers cocked on a side by side shotgun coach gun
The exposed hammers are cocked only when ready for action. This is a good safety feature.

The double-barrel is also fun to shoot. It is practical as well. When all is said and done, the double-barrel shotgun remains a formidable weapon for personal defense and outdoors use. These simple, rugged, and workmanlike shotguns are well suited to many traditional shotgun chores. These chores include serving as a go-anywhere, do-anything, all-around tool for hunting, pest control, and personal defense.

Century Arms Double-Barrel

My personal Century Arms double-barrel was ordered in 20-gauge. Available in both the hard-hitting 12-gauge and the light-kicking 20, I elected for the 20-gauge so everyone in the home could use the shotgun well. The 12-gauge hits hard and may be your choice. The 20-gauge kicks about half as much as the 12-gauge and carries about 55% of the payload.

This is a neat little bead-sighted shotgun that handles well. The hammers are not difficult to cock, and the triggers are crisp enough. The hinged action was stiff at first, but became easier to use with a couple of trips to the range. The overall length is 37 inches, and the shotgun weighs about 7.5 pounds.

Firing Coach Guns

The double-barrel action is compact and allows for longer barrels while retaining a relatively short profile. The barrels are 20-inches long. The choke is an open cylinder, well suited for home defense, but not for hunting at anything past 20 yards with birdshot.

12 gauge shotshell left, 20 gauge right
The 20-gauge doesn’t have the payload of the 12-gauge, but just the same, it is a powerful loading.

Most of the shells fired have been Winchester’s 7½ birdshot. This is a great training load. The recoil is light, and the shotgun handles quickly and gets on target fast. While I use birdshot for training, birdshot is by no means useful for personal defense. At best it will penetrate only a few inches of gelatin and would probably be stopped by winter clothing. On the other hand, Winchester’s #3 buckshot load holds 20 buckshot pellets. This load consistently offers a minimum of 12 inches of penetration in my testing and should cancel Christmas for the bad guys at typical home-defense engagement.

With the open-choke barrels of the coach gun, 15 yards is the limit for retaining a good pattern for best effect, which isn’t different from the average riot gun. For longer-range use, the Hornady 20-gauge Lite Slug is a great choice. Among a few high-tech variants in 20-gauge slugs, this loading offers formidable effect at ranges longer than 25 yards. For home defense, the coach gun looks good. Affordable and powerful, it is worth a look.

Do you have a coach gun for self-defense? What shotgun do you prefer? Share your answers in the comment section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December of 2016. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (64)

  1. I keep a Tri-Star 16 gauge over under as truck gun. It’s loaded with Federal 16 gauge buckshot, and hopefully it doesn’t scream super tactical because the back of my SUV is littered with upland game training gear. I happen to own a couple of Weimaraners that I hunt with, and in addition, I own two Stoeger Condor Outbacks(20 inch barreled over unders) chambered in 12 and 20 gauge. Without a doubt 12 gauge is the easiest to find ammo, but thanks to online shopping, 16 gauge ammo is easier to find than you think. All three loads in buckshot would leave you having a bad day.

  2. I wish I could find a side-by-side (or over under) coach type shotgun for less than $750. I had a Norinco hammered coach at one time, and I should have never gotten rid of it!
    If anyone could give me a steer towards a $400 – $500 range double barrel coach, 12 or 20 gauge,I would be grateful…

  3. Buy a mossberg spx with the adaptor and you can shoot the small 1 1/2 inch shells that will do the job. My wife and i love this hand cannon for home defense…

  4. I bought a Spanish made in the 1970’s SxS 12ga in great condition specifically for home defense. I keep it by the bed loaded with 3” 00 12 pellet ea. do the math. Just about any 12 ga load at a close distance is powerful. Sheet rock won’t stop much of anything so hit what you’re aiming for solves that. As for kick it’s a 12 ga so quit whining. I put a padded rubber butt pad, a neoprene shell sleeve with 5 extra rounds. Wife can handle it if necessary but she has a 410 SxS that’s sufficient. Say what you want but out to 25+ yds it puts a lot of lead in the air quick.

  5. why was my post deleted

    That’s what I have on the overhead of my bed. Never have to worry about springs etc. Plus, that click, click, is a real pucker factor. I have combat autos, tricked out pumps with folders, collapsing stocks, red dots, etc. but they just sit in the safe. That said, what’s on the stand, next to my hand are 45 acps. A 625 & a shield.

    have the courtesy of answering

    1. Tom,
      Your post was not deleted. It was not approved yet. All comments are reviewed before posting. ~Dave

  6. That’s what I have on the overhead of my bed. Never have to worry about springs etc. Plus, that click, click, is a real pucker factor. I have combat autos, tricked out pumps with folders, collapsing stocks, red dots, etc. but they just sit in the safe. That said, what’s on the stand, next to my hand are 45 acps. A 625 & a shield.

  7. Tombstone, October 26, 1881. Tom McLaury was killed, one shot from a 10G side-by-side shotgun. Could cover the entry wounds (upper right chest, almost armpit) with your hand reported Dr. Goodfellow.

    The reenactment show uses a 12G SxS. Since the safety distance for a 12G blank is 50 feet, they use chamber inserts that take the 45 Colt cartridge; safety distance 25 feet.

    With the appropriate insert it’s no problem to shoot even 22RF from a 12G shotgun.

  8. Found this post and thought that everyone would like to know that #7 1/2 birdshot is very deadly at ranges measured in inches, not yards. Many years ago (late 1960’s) a family friend was hunting rabbits in South Maine one sunny February day. He was kicking a blowdown (fallen tree) and instead of a rabbit, up pops a bear. At near contact range, he fired one round of 12 gauge (paper) 2 1/2″ #7 1/2 shot. Game Wardens wouldn’t keep let him the bear, but he did keep the newspaper clipping in his scrapbook. Moral is that any load of any type of shot, with a center of mass hit, is deadly. A 20 gauge, or even a .410, will work IF you can hit a 6″ paper plate at 10 yards, and keep almost every pellet on the plate. As for me, a Mossberg 500 in .410, with 3″ FEDERAL #4 Buck (Handgun) ammo, is my choice,

  9. Well…. coach guns… this whole article just makes me laugh.
    Sure, there are double barrel but no one can use them.
    If ya want a single shot… sad to say it but the Stevens 301 is the closest thing to the old NEF. Yeah, it’s a Chinese POS…. but it’ll do the job if you do a touch of work on it. It’s an ejection break action. The 28″ bbl 12ga version has choke tubes that are changable, WinChoke thread. It’s light, handy… will kick out a hull over either shoulder should you decide to use left handed. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll thump your rear like an angry mule with hemerroids using 00 buck, rifled slugs, 3″ heavy high wall brass, magnums… doesn’t matter, it’ll eat it. Whether or not you can handle it is another story.
    One of the best sounds is the deep sound of the hollow tube when a fresh 12ga shell is ejected and a new one is inserted. Ready?! PULL!

  10. I know of several people who bought 12ga coach guns and none of them liked them. They all stated that the 12ga kicked way too much for them and way way too much for their wives. It might be better to purchase a 20ga coach gun to lesson the recoil and I’m sure #2 or #3 buckshot in 20ga, especially in the home would handle any man or dog or animal with zero problems.

  11. I have an old style exposed hammer coach gun.
    It is a Russian made 16 gauge.
    I like it for edc and carry it in my Jeep Wrangler coach.
    My other edc gun is a Winchester 86 extra light in 45-70.
    They compliment my edc Cimarron bad boy .44 revolver.
    Back up is a High Standard.22 Derringer.
    They accompany me where I go.
    They are my edc because I chose them to be.

  12. Anyone know of any coach guns with ejectors? I hate having to pull the empties out, and in an actual defensive situation, being slowed down that much could be dangerous.

  13. Fla Detective in Upper Central Florida used a Shotgun taken from a drug house raid…shortened barrels of Savage 311 ( I think )….his faith in that
    12 gauge was stronger than his faith in a pump shotgun….always 2…only drawback…no ejectors…used extractors…but repeat always 2

  14. Worked a homicide as a young police officer where a burglar was shot in the abdomen at close range with bird shot. Very devastating and absolutely lethal. I’d trust it at inside-the-house ranges, and the reduced recoil could be beneficial to people who’d struggle with the recoil of buckshot. Not my first pick, but it could be a good choice for some.

    1. I agree, Les…..While bird shot loads would not be my first choice as defensive loads, at close range…..AKA in-the-house…..such loads can be very effective. When ever the subject comes up of which loads are best as defensive loads, the argument can get pretty heated. When it does, I always ask the question…..”Would you be willing to stand in front of the gun when it fires such a load?” That usually puts the argument to rest.

  15. Good article, all good points.

    Off topic but just as important: why isn’t the liberal press giving us, NRA/gun owners more credit for defeating Hilary?

    They are blaming Weiner, Comey, Fox news, the Russians, skipping Wisconsin etc.

    This is one time i want to be singled out as a major contributing factor and let them know how strong we are and how dedicated against someone like her. Especially now that Schumer is top Dem in Senate. Thanks!

    1. I agree with your comment, Ed. That said, I suspect it will be a long time before the liberals in any capacity begin to acknowledge that we gun owners and gun rights organization members have the kind of clout that we do have. Back in the mid-term elections of 1994, few if any news outlets acknowledged the defeat of the liberal elements in Congress as being the result of the backlash against the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban”. That said, however, the politicians knew what happened, and when that onerous ban came up for review in 2004, it was quietly allowed to “sunset” it’s way out of existence. That turnabout has served a number of times since then to remind our so-called representatives that America’s gun owners are indeed a force with which to be reckoned.

  16. Some years ago I bought a Spartan, 20 inch coach gun. Open hammers, dual triggers. Beautiful hardwood stock was a bonus. One of those guns I will never sell. I am a bit of a traditionalist anyway. I love single action revolvers, have double action 38 for bedside, and the coach gun in the closet.

  17. My Rossi overland coach 12 ga has an improved barrel on the left (front trigger) and a modified barrel on the right (rear). This takes care of any distance achieved by a moving target between my first and second shots without the need for different ammunitions or much thought. I’ve seen people that could reload, open, drop, load, close and fan the hammers back, with machine-like speed, ready for rounds 3 and 4 almost as quickly as some of you can pump your Mossberg 500’s. It’s simple, with practice you get good at what you use. My double barrel has few parts, is impossible to jam, needs no safety and shows me whats in the chamber every two shots. Chambers are polished and chamfered, so shells go in and out like you remember when your wives were young. Besides, if two loads of buck doesn’t get you to cover for a quick reload you’ve stood there too long and if I need a force equalizer, I’d go with my Saiga 12 with drum. I just don’t see the need in the confines of my bedroom. My Rossi coach gun will do just fine.

  18. “birdshot is by no means useful for personal defense. At best it will penetrate only a few inches of gelatin and would probably be stopped by winter clothing”
    Not so!
    At “in the house” ranges, it is deadly and will make a mess of anyone hit with it!

  19. Good article – in particular Its important to discuss the 20 ga which I seldom see done. My home defense is #3 buckshot in 20 ga in a shortened but vent rib Mossberg. Short is more important for handling than it is for spread. Up close there is little spread on any shotgun round. I strongly suggest shooting at 30 inch square paper to find out just what the spread is. I did this years ago and it started me being interested in patterning. Try it with the 410 in a judge and it will scare you how bad an idea this is.
    I do NOT like hammer guns for self defense – a hammer-less double will give you the second shot without any practice. A hammer gun has to be cocked and under stress that might get you killed. I had an incident here with a druggie scouting out my yard and shop and I stepped out in my underwear with a pump and racked a round and suggested he leave immediately. He argued that he wasn’t doing nothing !! No sane person faces down a 68 yr old man in his underwear with a freshly charged pump gun. I offered to blast him if he didn’t leave and he was still arguing when he got back to his car. We all want to think people are sane but they are NOT.
    This article was good food for thought and hopefully will help folks make good decisions. I have several Mossys in 20 ga – excellent inexpensive insurance. I also have a couple of just legal single shot 20s stashed in corners. Just in case. Pattern whatever you have at house distances. Then you will KNOW. Trapper

  20. My coach gun does a fine job on pest/varmint control around my property but I’ll stick with my DP-12 or Glock 21 for defense purposes. Heck, even my M1 carbine is a better choice for defense than the coach gun. I could be wrong, but that’s just the way I see it.

    1. Dan, I thought that home invaders were pests and varmints to be controlled. Buckshot is (arguably) the best pest/varmint control around. But this is just my opinion.

    2. Dan is absolutely right; his M1 carbine is a much better choice. A 10 1/4″-11 1/2″ AR based carbine, such as a Colt Commando, XM177 or 607 is even better.

    3. @Dark Angel:

      My DP-12 holds 16 rounds of #3 buckshot…quite a bit better than 2 rounds. It will handle 2 legged pests and varmints quite adequately.

  21. For those who wonder if the shot will leave the cup at short ranges, a tip: Use Rio Royal Buck – no cup (I don’t think other brands of buckshot do either – I would never trust birdshot), extremely reliable, and certainly does the job.
    And not as expensive as some of the other “big brand name” ammo.

  22. Hide Brhind;
    I have to ask: When you say “Size of shot pattern for birdshot to buck shot no more than a quater under 15′ “, have you actually patterned your gun?
    At 10 feet (I didn’t pattern at 15′), my coach gun (CAI, 12 gauge 20″ bbl) has a spread of right about 3+ inches. My 500 with 20″ bbl patterns the same. Cylinder bore on both.
    My Mossberg 535 with 24″ bbl patterns about 2 3/4” with full choke.
    What are you using? What choke?

  23. Oh yeah!!

    The sound of a pump action will “scare the Hell out of”……whatever.

    It will also give away your position.


    Tells the intruder…………

    “HERE I AM!!” “SHOOT ME NOW!!”

    Dumb……….just dumb.

    1. Pale Horse, some people have seen waaaay too much Hollywood. What works in the movies, does not work in real life. Rack the slide, if a round is already chambered, you loose a round, lets perp know your location. If a round isn’t already chamber, still gives the perp your location. Either way, racking the slide= STUPID MOVE!

    2. Pale Horse, Dark Angel, I absolutely agree. And with self/house defense laws as they have become in recent years in many states, there is absolutely no need to “warn” the intruder. Rack the slide and the perp now has more tactical information about you than you have about him. Also, firearms are deadly weapons – if you aren’t mentally and emotionally prepared to kill the intruder, don’t bring a gun.

  24. Some coach style guns come with choke tubes, which is useful. I have found with my 20″ 870 (“deer” barrel, rifle sights) that the IC choke gives good buckshot patterns and excellent slug accuracy. Very good points in the article, and certainly a SxS double is more compact than a pump, especially if you can find an 18″ one. External hammers make sense for less experienced shooters and for loaded storage. The other option for a hammerless gun would be an elastic shell holder on the buttstock, chambers empty, and practice quickly loading. I suspect that 2 72-caliber muzzles staring you in the face is more intimidating than just one, if you are a felon. The audible racking of a pump is probably overrated, because you are likely to do it before the bad guy is close enough to hear it. I think somebody might be making 20 ga loads in #1 buck, but I’m not sure. Certainly #4 would be good. I would think 18 or 20 pellets (27 in 12 ga 2.75″). Some large agencies have used #4 exclusively for years, and they have not complained about stopping power…….

  25. Average front room 15′.
    How far before shot cup flies off of shot to allow spread?
    Size of shot pattern for birdshot to buck shot no more than a quater under 15′; so even #7 1/2 is effective man killer at in home defensive range.

  26. For home defense Good high brass or even low brass bird shoot like #6 or even 7 1/2 works great because you are most likely at point blank to across a room at most. Even in a short barrel double or pump its not out the wading yet and acts like a minimal penetrating frangible slug. Which is good if your worried about penetrating through a wall and reduced recoil on user.
    I havent really used a double but my short same length barrel pump i normally keep a couple round of #6 followed by a round or 2 #4 buck shot( which i used as my load in law enforcement more pellets same power) with the last round being a slug because by that time your probably shooting outside. And yes my state allows you to chase them down outside and shoot them.

  27. Saw a Stoeger stagecoach for sale at the local gun store and immediately recognized the superior home defense qualities. The cost was very reasonable so the side by side was purchased and came home with me. What I was not aware of was the unease I would have over the striker design. As a result I never leave the gun in a loaded condition which is a disadvantage for a home defense gun. In hindsight I prefer the physical indications that a hammer fired weapon provides. That said the the image of a side by side should make any unfriendly take a step back without a word being spoken. If they still keep coming then something is clearly wrong with their head!

  28. As a firearms instructor I get asked the question ” What gun do you choose for home defense?”. I always tell them that I don’t have a set go to gun because I have guns stashed all over my home. But if you want one all around gun for home defense a shotgun is my choice. I prefer a pump action shotgun because just the sound of you racking a round in he chamber is the scariest sound in the world. Which usually scares off any intruder. I also recommend a double barrel shotgun with a short barrel 20 inches or shorter.

  29. A double barrel is certainly a choice to be considered. Having said that I have two Mossberg 500’s outfitted for both in and out of home situations. On the outside away from home in today’s world you may encounter a situation of great complexity. Thus having access to a larger capacity of rounds was one of my first choices. Second having access to backup rounds was considered, and third the intimidation of a ‘laser’ sight/flashlight combination was also added with a folding stock. This JIC unit is available anytime I leave my residence. At home I chose another 500 that is a little more maneuverable but still has six rounds available with backup ammo attached to the stock. Also a ‘laser’ and flashlight combo were added for visibility JIC. Using a combo load of #4 and #00 buckshot covers both close encounters and something effective up to 25 yards. Both guns operate in the same fashion, new enhanced safety/trigger devices were added and are readily accessible. When I did private security work I always carried a 590 for backup before law enforcement could be summoned and arrive.

  30. To each his own. As far as cost reasons to buy a coach gun, Cheaperthandirt has many pump actions for less than what the CZ coach gun costs. A pump has more rounds on tap than the coach gun. You can reload without taking the weapon out of the fight. The fact that you still see 870s and mossberg 500s in police cruisers would steer me in that direction. If you need it to be politically correct and not a scary black evil gun, everyone’s grandpa has a wood stock and blued steel. Well written article for those who chose to use one.

  31. Coach guns are fine IF all you expect to do is fire two rounds. Once you have fired both barrels, and open the action, good luck getting the shells out. Coach guns have extractors, but no ejectors (like a single-shot external hammer gun I have). I usually have to poke a cleaning rod down the barrel to get the shells loose, or drop something down the barrel to knock the shells far enough out of the chamber to grab and pull.

  32. I purchased a DP-12 thru CTD threw a Streamlight green laser/light on it, filled it with buckshot and haven’t looked back. Slide rack intimidation is now a thing of the past but a strobe light, green laser, and 14 quick rounds of buckshot is pretty damn intimidating!!

    1. I wouldn’t be writing off that “slide rack intimidation” so quickly. With my Kel Tec KSG equipped with light and laser…..and 14 rounds of whatever 12 gauge load I can rack, the rig is definitely a pee bringer.

  33. I carried a short double barrel 12 ga shotgun as a Police Officer and found the psychological effects of the appearance of a double barrel in the hands of an Officer is very effective at deescalating a situation. I now have a win. defender and although the appearance doesn’t have the same effect as a double it has an effect as a short barrel shotgun and the racking of the slide to chamber a round is unmistakable and a very effective psychological tool. I prefer the #4 buck to 00. I was introduced to #4 by a professional hunter that hunted coyotes from a helicopter. And I even used #4 in my .410 with excellent results. And coyotes and bad guys share some of the same qualities. They are both opportunistic scavengers and cowards unless traveling in packs.That said I am looking into getting another double barrel because the varmints aren’t impressed with the sound of the racking slide.Enjoyed the article, it covered all the pros of the Double and reminded me how much I miss mine.

  34. I’m a retired police officer and always wanted a coach gun. I received one for Christmas a couple of years ago. I took it to the range with a couple of men from my church. We found it shot a great pattern at close range, as mentioned in the article. My wife knows how to use, though the recoil is pretty rough in the 12 gauge model.
    It now sits ready next to my bed.

  35. I also have a Stoger IGA Coachgun in 12ga for home defense. I prefer its striker design, but otherwise I’m in total agreement with the author. It is my wife’s primary home defense weapon. Just because you are small (she is 5’0″ 110lb) their is no need to fear a 12 ga. I worked up a light load with #8 shot for her to train with and it’s in the right barrel. Good for snakes, and at 5 to 10 feet the flash and bang will send 99% of home invaders running and the pellets will not penetrate 1/2 inch drywall so no worries about collateral damage. Barrel #2 is a Remington copper solid slug. If he isn’t running away after the skeet load she fires barrel 2. Even if he is wearing body armor the sherif has no need to hurry. Great article.

    1. @ Philip If a perp is running away there is no “lawful” reason to fire on him. If he is running the threat of danger has passed and if you shoot and hit him you open yourself up for prosecution.

    2. I think you need to read his comment because he doesn’t mentioned firing on a fleeing perp. But otherwise , thank you for the very technical legal advice as I’m sure it’s a benefit to us all who did plan on shooting those fleeing from us when the opportunity came.

    3. Thanks Kaz, yes Marine if you read carefully I said if the perp isn’t fleeing after the first shot, then barrel 2. I will also say this, I tell my wife to keep shooting till she no longer feels threatened. Prefer to by tried by 12 than carried by 6.

  36. I’m a big fan of the Coach gun. I keep a Stoeger Coach gun loaded with 3” 000 buck by my bedside for things that go “bump” in the night. If roused from my slumber I will pick it up even before going for my handgun. It allows me to get off two very powerful shots very quickly; much the same way an African double rifle allows professional hunters to dispatch the most dangerous of African game when it gets up close and personal. I have also found that staring down both barrels has a tremendous psychological impact on most ne’er-do-wells.

  37. grew up with a 16 gauge single break action. eventually became my DOVE GUN. on the other hand, i loved my dad’s MOSSBERG 12 gauge pump, with a POLLY choke, for everything else. on the coach dbl option for the HD, i think 2 slugs or 2 DBL 00 loads would be good.

  38. 20 gauge is a great choice for people of light of stature. Most women can handle the 20 gauge more accurately and consistently/reliably…and allows for more PRACTICE and Familiarization with the firearm. With much less “Flinching”. This goes for most males too. Though many in general will not admit it. To be honest the difference to the BAD GUYs is going to be marginal at best and the Bad Guy(s) will never know the difference. I prefer #4 Buck in 12 gauge loads for self defense….#3 Buck in 20 gauge will do the job…Center Mass hits at 15-20 yards/meters should stop and take the fight out of the Bad Guy. The double barrel allows for a simpler (and faster weapon back to target with PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, AND MORE PRACTICE) reload than most any handgun with less practice and will allow with quick follow up shots……shooting from the hip can and should be learned. The 20 gauge is far easier for people of slight stature (and most anyone) to learn to shoot from the hip, than the 12 gauge, because of less recoil and intimidation. Just some thoughts to consider.

    1. While the 12 gauge is usually thought of as the standard in protective shotguns, the 20 can do just fine. ‘Fact is even a .410 can be pretty effective with proper shot placement at close range. One of my many shotguns is a Taurus Circuit Judge .410. As a five shot double action revolving shoulder weapon, one can put a number of bursts on a target at in-house distances that will definitely put the hurt on a bad guy in short order. I have a Circuit Judge .410 hanging on a hook on the back of the master bedroom door that is loaded with 00 buck, and on my patterning board… “hallway range” it produces some very interesting patterns with those .32 caliber balls.

    2. Think of it this way – the 12 gage is the same bore diameter as the 72 caliber Brown Bess musket of 1776, and the 20 gage is the same diameter as the 58 caliber Springfield and Enfield rifle-muskets of 1860. The guns of the Civil war were certainly effective.

    1. Bob, That may well be true and no argument there. But then again not everyone can afford or has one, OR CAN GET ONE.
      One has to use what they have in their hand. But then again carbines were not the topic of the article. Worst case scenario in this you will still get at least one bad guy and a blood trail…….. BUT AGAIN PRACTICE PRACTICE, PRACTICE PRACTICE , AND MORE PRACTICE (as mentioned above) also fire and maneuver, cover and concealment WILL help you better odds of survival. Even with a tactical carbine, it takes PRACTICE,PRACTICE,PRACTICE including FTF FTE, etc., developing muscle memory and changing magazine skills/ drills. One does NOT become competent or capable by purchasing or owning ANY firearm…..or with any firearm they never practice with under various conditions. Not every shooting/self defense is going to occur under perfect lighting while standing in front of a paper target that is not shooting back. Shooting in off hand/ weak hand, hip, etc. need to be practiced as well. Would you put a “green/inexperienced” officer/ troop untrained/unfamiliar with a carbine up against a well experienced troop with a shotgun in real life??? Again it is practice/familiarization and what one has in their hands at the time of need. I might want/prefer an M-203 or a SAW or even an M-60 or MA-DEUCE…..or even an F-15E, or an A-10 or AC-130 and “DANGER CLOSE” but do not have them available…..there is no doubt of their superiority or capability in taking out and killing Bad Guy(s). You use what have you have and what you know….

  39. Grew up with 12 gauge, double barrel next to the front door. Learned to fire it with some degree of accuracy by the time I was tall enough to reach the triggers. Was striker fired, not a hammer gun, made, according to the stamp on the breech hinge, when opened, in 1898 for a Smith’s Hardware Store, Little Rock, Arkansas. Beautiful gun with ‘burled’ walnut stock and engraving on the side plates.

  40. While nostalgia has often drawn me to the acquisition of firearms, and the old side-by-side external hammer shotgun has certainly done so (to the tune of having a few in my collection), for real life tactical applications I much prefer the pump shotgun. True…..the side-by-side is a fairly compact firearm, but there are a number of pump guns that are also equally, if not more, compact. Case in point…..My wife bought me a Kel Tec KSG bullpup pump gun for my birthday last year. It is extremely compact and possesses two 7-round magazines. Also, if one restocks a standard pump such as a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500, with pistol grips and no buttstock, even the ubiquitous pump gun gets pretty compact.

  41. I am by no means an expert, but my thinking the coach gun known as a blunderbuss was a mussel loaded black powder gun.

    1. In reality, Jimmy, the blunderbuss was a single barrel gun, since the flared muzzle would preclude two barrels collimated side by side. While prior to the advent of metallic cartridges, the blunderbuss and muzzle loaded side by side were known as “coach guns”, that term has also been carried forth to include side by side shotguns as often seen up on the boot of stagecoaches in the Old West.

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