I recently had a discussion with an instructor about using shotguns and AR-15’s for Home Defense(HD). I explained to him that last year I had the opportunity to take the Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course put on by Tom Givens and it completely changed the way I look at HD and the firearm I choose. I loved the class and took away so much from it that I went and assisted Tom Givens for a day when he was teaching the same course earlier this year in Homestead, FL.

The main item that was discussed in this conversation and prompted me to test my theory and write this blog was this. He stated something along the lines of transitioning between multiple targets and managing recoil along with splits would make him choose an AR over a shotgun. There was also a comment about never choosing a pump over a semi but that’s a conversation for another time and will have to involve my friend Chief Lee Weems from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office who beat me in a 1 on 1 pump vs. semi competition last year in Georgia. But, anyways, back to the subject at hand. I tried explaining to this person that if you train properly and often, have the correct gun and ammo set up for the purpose then it’s probably going to be closer than you think and very manageable. One last comment on that, this article is discussing transitions between multiple targets. Not one static target. A shotgun would not be able to keep up with an AR in a repetitive shot competition on one target.

I went to the range with some friends on Saturday. We did a bunch of pistol drills and generally just had a fun day shooting. A bunch of them had brought their AR’s and I had my shotgun. It was the perfect opportunity to test the theories listed above gun vs. gun. So we set it up.


Here were the parameters.

  • 5 targets(BC Transitional aka Smurf) about 5-6 feet apart 10 yards downrange
  • Shooting position, standing at ready centered on 5 targets at the 10 yard mark
  • Firearms Used: SOLGW AR15 5.56 with Vortex Strikefire Red Dot Optic and Beretta 1301 Tactical 12 Gauge with factory ghost ring sights
  • Ammo Used: 55gr ball 5.56 and Hornady Critical Defense 00 Buck Shot with Versatite Wad
  • Each string started with one in the chamber
  • String of Fire: 1 shot on each target as fast as you can get an accurate hit. Solid hit is scored in the second oval which on that target is about the same size as a chest cavity
  • Timer used was a Pocket Pro 2 Shot Timer

That’s the setup. Here’s how it played out. I used my friends AR15 which I had never shot until that moment. On the beep I proceeded to place one 5.56 round in the scored zone on each target in 3.05 seconds. Now, I’m not the best shooter out there by any means and I know there are guys that can do it faster. But I thought that was pretty good considering it’s not my gun, I don’t shoot a lot of rifle and hardly ever use a red dot optic of any kind. The math works out to .61 seconds for each hit. And only hits count!! Ok, so there we have the par time set with the AR15, 5 shots, all hits, 3.05 seconds.

Now, the shotgun. My shotgun, that I have trained heavily with and shot a lot of rounds through. On the beep I proceeded to place one nasty big hole of 8 – .33 caliber lead balls which are held together nicely by the versatite wad into each of the targets scored zones in 3.49 seconds. Wait, what? Yes, 3.49 seconds. That’s .698 seconds per shot compared to .61 seconds per shot. Not much difference in time but there is surely a difference in the size hole. If those were 5 real threats coming at me I would bet that not all would drop to the ground after a .22 caliber bullet hits them but I’d be curious as to what kind of drugs the guy is on that can keep coming after getting a fist size hole punched through his chest. And if by chance one did keep coming at me, a .698 split time could give him a second dose. How many extra doses of .22 caliber would he need? Hope this article gets some of you thinking. As for those of you already enlightened on the ability and use of the shotgun, you get it.