Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Short-Barrel Pistol Grip Shotguns – Thanks, But…

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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

A few manufacturers have found exploitable loopholes in the National Firearms Act of 1968 and – to the delight of some – are “thumbing their noses” at the authorities and producing short-barrel pistol grip shotguns. They’re marketed for the home defense set, and a coterie of tactical accessories is sure to follow.

A number of people are certainly excited about the Mossberg Shockwave and the Remington Marine Magnum, hailing them as self-defense implements par excellence.

The goal, of course, is to get as close as possible to offering people a sawed-off shotgun while still complying with regulations governing such things; how such guns comply with said regulations is by meeting the overall length requirement (26 inches) and fitting a pistol grip at the factory.

While you can’t put one in a concealed carry holster, this new breed of home defense gun is getting feted as the ultimate home defense weapon. The Marshals carried shotguns just like them for years, after all.

I’ll be sticking with my handgun.

Not that a pistol grip/short-barrel shotgun won’t be effective; it can. There’s no question that long guns will put a bad person down more easily on average than a pistol. It’s just that a shotgun isn’t the manstopper some people think they are. Furthermore, a pistol grip shotgun is going to be harder to shoot well as a full-size.

For starters, there are plenty of recorded instances wherein a malevolent person has been given several rounds of buckshot and kept on coming. During the 1986 Miami Shootout, for instance, both the suspects and agents were hit by shotgun rounds, yet no combatant in that engagement were downed by buckshot. Plenty of other instances are out there as well. In short, even when full-size shotguns are employed, even by professionals, they aren’t necessarily one-shot-stoppers.

A 3-inch 12-gauge shell holds about 7 pellets of 00 buck. When aimed, you’ll know relatively where they’ll pattern. Shot from the hip, not so much. In other words, you still need to be able to shoot it well, which gets harder when you take the stock off a long gun. Recoil can be more than some shooters can handle and aiming without a stock is going to require some adjustment.

Just like with other gimmick guns, if you really want one, get one! Enjoy it! Have a blast. After all, basically all the shooting most people will ever do is going to be at the range, though waterfowlers and other hunters are an exception. Why NOT try something a bit different? Variety, as it’s said, is the spice of life.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a decked-out AR, a Barrett or other .50 BMG, a Desert Eagle and so on. They’re great guns, even if they aren’t going to get the kind of practical use that a Remington 700, Winchester Model 70, Mossberg 500 or Marlin 336 – and so many others – will.

But let’s not pretend that the wheel is going to get reinvented somehow. The breed can always be improved, but the garden variety 12-gauge pump is going to be easier to use, as will a garden variety handgun. A gun that’s easy to shoot accurately is and always will be the best implement of personal defense.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit