Ammunition

Consider a Shotgun for Your First Firearm

Pump Action Shotgun

If you’re thinking about buying that first gun, but are not sure which way you should go, consider the shotgun. Since its early days, the shotgun filled several roles, as it does today. It remains the only firearm capable of fulfilling nearly all functions of a gun, with very few exceptions.

A shotgun is so darn useful because of its ability to shoot a wide range of ammunition. Shotgun shells fill just about every role you can think of. Birdshot shoots a large number of smaller pellets that cover a wide area, allowing the shooter to hit a bird or clay disk while it flies through the air. Buckshot, on the other hand, shoots a smaller number of much larger pellets. These heavier pellets hit with more energy as buckshot typically utilizes more propellant in the shell casing. Buckshot is suitable for home defense as well as large game, such as deer. The downside to both birdshot and buckshot is range. Outside of 40 or 50 yards, the damage caused by smaller pellets is very limited. For engaging targets that are around 100 yards, slugs are useful. A shotgun slug is one of a variety of projectiles that cause heavy damage due to their large singular projectile.

For most of us, price is always a factor when selecting firearms. Luckily, shotguns are predominantly inexpensive. They are among the most affordable guns on the market, and you don’t have to sacrifice functional quality when you buy cheap guns. A basic model pump-action 12-gauge will run you less than $200, and it will run like a top.

Another reason for owning a shotgun that many overlook is legislative protection. Handgun and rifle gun laws are always trickling down with varying success. However, even in countries where handguns and most rifles are illegal, you can still own a shotgun. For example, in the United Kingdom, their government prohibits owning virtually all handguns and semi-automatic rifles, with few exceptions. However, shotguns are still legal with a certificate. In many countries with the strictest gun laws, shotguns are still perfectly legal, allowing the general population some level of personal protection.

Most basic shotguns are also modular. A 30-second barrel change can transform your shotgun from a short home defense role to a bird-blasting field gun. The popular Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 lines have endless after market accessories you can use to tweak your shotgun into whatever role you want it to play. Grips, stocks, rails, lights, lasers, and red-dots are all readily available and easy to install.

Shotguns are so effective that during the First World War, the German government issued a protest stating that the Winchester 1897 pump-action shotgun should be illegal, citing that it was too deadly and caused unnecessary suffering to their troops. The Germans also felt it was unfair that Allied soldiers who were skilled at trap shooting and bird hunting would blast enemy hand grenades out of the sky before they landed in their trenches.

Almost a century later, ask the gun experts this hypothetical question: If they could only own one gun, what would it be? Most of them would give you two answers—either a .223 AR carbine or a pump shotgun. I would choose the latter, since you really can’t hunt upland birds with a carbine. If western civilization fell, a reliable pump action shotgun would provide protection, food, and peace of mind to its owner.

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 (9)

  1. Hi і am kаѵin, іts my first time tо commentіng anyρlacе, when i гeaԁ thіs paragrаph i thought i could аlso mаke
    сοmment duе tο thіs ѕеnsіble piеce of ωritіng.

  2. I agree with you. But we DO have people that have a drivers lic. and a clean backround check. “gimmie some thing to protect my family wit”. They walk out with a gun and a box of shells. The sales man gives them a quick “here’s how” and they’re out the door. LOL
    410’s are great and a single is a wonderful beginner gun.
    Did the sales man include ear plugs?

  3. Wow Roger, that sounds like the wetback rock haulers that come through Boomhower during the day. Someone takes them on the first load and they memorize where to turn etc.after that,they’re on their own. If they get out of route they’re lost. Load the gun, but don’t know how to unload it huh? You know you’re driving right next to these guys, right? No, they don’t need an autoloader right off the bat! They could fire twice before they knew they blew their foot off with the first round. Or worse. Let ’em learn on a .410 single shot. That way, they learn saftey, how not to waste shells, basic cleaning/mainainance skills, and recoil isn’t an issue. Besides, .410s are for beginers and experts. This way, they’ll have the oppritunity to come full circle.

  4. tWEEK, yOUR RIGHT THAT WE SHOULD PRACTICE WITH ALL OF OUR GUNS AND i DO AND LIKE TO, BUT ………. WE ALL DO NOT LIVE IN SUCH A PLACE WHERE WE CAN PRACTICE. i LIVE ON A DEAD END NEXT TO NOTHING SO I CAN SHOOT WHAT AND WHEN I WANT TO. SOME FOLKS LIVE IN PLACES WHERE THEY WOULD BE LUCKY TO BE ABLE TO SHOOT ONCE A YEAR IF THEY FIND A PLACE TO SHOOT. MY COMMENT IS FOR THE WIFE THAT NEVER SHOOTS ALSO. THERE IS NO STANDARD FOR HOW MUCH ONE CAN AND HOW MANY TIMES OR HOW OFTEN. (SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS, I HAVE BIG FINGERS). A SEMI IS JUST EASIER FOR SOME THAN A PUMP THAT’S ALL I AM ADVOCATING. HECK SOME ARE INSTRUCTED ON HOW TO LOAD IT AND NEVER EVEN FIGURE OUT HOW TO UNLOAD IT, LET ALONE WHICH WAY IS THE SAFETY SAFE. HOW ABOUT PRACTICE SHOOTIG WITHOUT EAR PROTECTION TO GET USE TO THE NOISE,LOL

  5. “The Germans also felt it was unfair that Allied soldiers who were skilled at trap shooting and bird hunting would blast enemy hand grenades out of the sky before they landed in their trenches.”

    I have never heard of this! It sounds amazing/awesome. Where are accounts of this recorded?

  6. We must learn to protect ourselves. The police can write up reports, however, there are not enough to insure our total safety—

  7. @Roger thats why its important to practice shooting with every gun you own, and get used to them. youre not supposed to buy a gun and learn on the fly when somebody breaks into your home or you have your favorite game in your sights.

  8. Pumps are nice but for the beginner I suggest a semi for the reason that in the “moment” it is easier to just pull the trigger for every shot. It’s a loud noise and someone may freeze up when the shock of the noise surprises them.

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