When it comes to smash, the more, the better. I prefer a big-bore handgun, and for hunting thin-skinned game, the .30-06 rifle is my favorite. A 12-gauge shotgun has ridden in the trunk for many years. Then the mild-kicking .44 Special is a nice handgun, and I am a staunch advocate of the far-from-extinct .30-40 Krag rifle. Each is a mild-shooting cartridge and firearm combination with much merit.
My ego is not so overblown that I want to keep hard-kicking firearms so my other half and the youngsters in the family cannot use them. In shotguns, the 20 gauge deserves praise. The 20 is a better—as in more powerful—shell than the .410 and does not kick as much as the 12 gauge, yet has respectable ballistics. The 20 gauge kicks considerably less than the 12, meaning those interested in a defensive shotgun can deploy a reasonable substitute and handle it well. The 20 gauge kicks well over half as much as the 12; do not misunderstand. Yet it does not kick nearly as much (the various formulas are inexact because the weight of the shotgun varies as do the loads).
The bottom line is the gun and shells are lighter and so is the recoil.
I have seen illustrations of the 20-gauge, double barrel used by big-city police agencies, which makes a lot of sense. I understand many Midwestern agencies issued 20-gauge pump shotguns. As for the double-barrel shotguns, they did not ride in the cruisers; they were loaded just before officers kicked in the doors. For those who seldom fire a shotgun, the recoil is not startling, and the load is effective at a few feet. The problem with any shotgun for home defense is that it is long and does not handle quickly in that environment.
- A long-barrel duck gun tracks well, although it does not maneuver well.
- A short-barrel (18.5 inches to keep it legal), lightweight shotgun is ideal.
The Mossberg Cruiser is one such shotgun, with many advantages.
- Quality of manufacture and a good design lead the pack.
- It features an ambidextrous safety that is ideally located.
- The action is smooth, and feed is positive.
- The dual-action bars are smoother than a single-bar design.
- The Cruiser version is a pistol-grip shotgun about 29 inches long, and in 20 gauge, it weighs about 5 pounds. That is light, and the shotgun handles like a marvel.
I always have preferred a full-stock shotgun; however, for close quarters inside a dwelling and as a truck gun, the Cruiser makes a lot of sense. While I always aim, you handle a shotgun by feel. That means you maneuver it into position and fire based on handling.
As for the 20-gauge shell, you must consider energy. After looking at the factory figures, it appears that my 20-gauge Cruiser is producing 1,200 to 1,300 pounds of energy. The 12 gauge produces 1,500 pounds of energy. Now, I do not always count energy in comparing cartridges, preferring to consider actual damage, although it is a valid consideration when comparing payload and velocity.
The .45 auto exhibits about 400 to 450 pounds of energy. The 20-gauge definitely has enough power to do serious damage, with high wound potential. Number-three buckshot contains twenty .25-caliber buckshot pellets. While patterns differ in various shotguns, the Winchester loads we used in this shotgun gave good, tight groupings to 7 yards or so—and that is a long shot in a home.
When all is said and done, the Mossberg Cruiser and 20 gauge are recommended for home defense. The combination is fast handling, powerful and reliable. With plenty of practice and dedication, the pistol-grip shotgun just may be a lifesaver.
If you do choose the type, the Mossberg’s good traits make sense.
What do you think of the Cruiser and 20 gauge? Which shotgun do you own and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section.