The shotgun is one of the most effective and deadly weapons on the battlefield. In one trigger pull, a shooter can put downrange a mass of lead that can literally stop and kill an opponent before he has a chance to hit the ground. Its greatest strengths are its close range lethality, and its endless ammunition options, that carry a variety of functions. This is a tradeoff because you can very quickly run out of ammunition running a shotgun. An experienced combat shotgunner is adept at reloading on the move and transitioning to a backup weapon instantly when the need arises. Outside of the military, a shotgun is a very popular choice for home defense. The decreased lethality at longer ranges and lack of penetration with certain types of ammo help lower the risk of someone else besides the assailant accidentally taking damage. In either case, with a few bits of knowledge, the shotgun can be a very effective weapon against anyone who you might face in a gunfight.
There is a very large variety of shotguns available on the market. Some of the more popular choices among military and law enforcement are the Mossberg 500, the Remington 870, and the Benelli M4. The Mossberg 500 is a very good choice for its high reliability, and relatively low cost. The 500 features a rock solid pump action that allows the user to shoot virtually any type of shotgun ammunition on the market. The safety is ambidextrous, and the gun proved itself to operate in the harshest conditions imaginable. The Remington 870 is a similar in that it also has a pump action and can fire any type of shotgun round. One potential advantage that the 870 may have is a steel receiver. The receiver on its Mossberg counterpart is made of an aluminum alloy, which is lighter, but some say it can be less durable. A disadvantage to both weapons is that it is very difficult to operate a pump action from the prone position, which could potentially be a problem in a combat or tactical situation. When the United States Marines were shopping for a new semi-automatic shotgun, they bought the Benelli M4. While more costly, the M4 offered the ability to deliver rounds downrange at greater speed. Its unique Auto Regulating Gas Operated (A.R.G.O.) system has dual stainless steel, self-cleaning pistons located just ahead of the chamber that operate directly against the bolt assembly.
Operators can configure combat shotguns to do a variety of jobs. Mainly, when used in combat, the configuration of the shotgun directly relates to the job it is trying to perform. The combat shotgun fills its role as either a primary or a secondary weapon. As a primary weapon, a soldier will have a distinct advantage in close range, house-to-house urban combat, as long as he can remember to reload every time there is a break in the fighting. If a lull does not present itself, then the operator needs to drop the shotgun and transition to a pistol as quickly as he can. Learning to “load what you shoot” is a good idea for a combat shotgunner.
As a primary weapon, or as home defense, 00 buckshot is the most effective type of round that is available. In most cases, buckshot sends downrange seven to nine .33 inch 8 ounce pellet barreling toward the bad guys. Having the misfortune of getting hit with 00 buck is like getting shot by nine pistols simultaneously. In addition to 00 buck, a few slug rounds should be readily available in case the operator has to engage a target at slightly longer range. Having no more than two types of ammunition will lower the likelihood of engaging a target with the wrong type of ammunition.
Using a combat shotgun as a secondary weapon, fitted with a pistol grip and slung across the back of the user is useful for specialty jobs like door breaching, or crowd control. This will allow the shooter to carry a full sized primary assault weapon such as an M16A2 or an M4 variant. Transitioning between these two weapons is a bit more difficult, so extensive training may be required.
The combat shotgun has proved itself in the battlefield as far back as the First World War, and enemy troops feared it due to its incredible stopping power. Proper gear and employment tactics will ensure the continued success of this versatile weapons system on and off the battlefield.