Firearm selection for home defense is and always has been a source of much discussion. Many authorities on the subject suggest a shotgun as being most appropriate for a broad base of shooters with varying experience. If you train regularly with your handgun, you’ll probably be able to handle an intruder in your home; however, any handgun is infinitely underpowered and inadequate in comparison to a long gun.

Rifles have the disadvantage in a home setting because of a high likelihood of over-penetration in substantial calibers. Shotguns have less penetration than rifles, and won’t still be lethal a mile away. Provided a standard stock is used (no pistol grips), long guns are extremely quick and natural-pointing when mounted on the shoulder, a decided advantage in any situation, but especially in the dark and under stress. A pump-action shotgun affords the shooter a system capable of delivering multiple shots in rapid succession, but its operation is more complex than a double-barreled shotgun, particularly in the case of an inexperienced shooter thrust into the terrifying situation of an intruder in a dark house.

The double is surely 19th century technology, though some modern variants have brought design features up to date. Nonetheless, the double has a lot going for it.

Ease of Operation

The double is typically very easy to operate, load and unload. Again, nothing points more naturally than a rifle or shotgun when it’s shouldered. Therefore, in close quarters, even in low light, you’re apt to get on target quickly and get solid hits. Many of the modern doubles automatically cock when the gun is broken open. Hammer guns make firing much more deliberate in that they must be thumb-cocked first. Unloading is as simple as thumbing the opening lever, sharply cracking the gun open and tossing the husks free. Loading two rounds as big around as your thumb into correspondingly large chambers is easy, even in the dark. Most of this involves more gross motor skills than fine motor skills.

Reliable & Effective
The double has no slide, cylinders, in many cases no manual safety, no magazines, and no bolt. One would be hard-pressed to jam it.
Within the confines of a house, when it comes to firearms, nothing is more devastating than a 12 gauge loaded with 00 buckshot. Your longest shots will probably be within 10 to 20 feet. Even a 20 gauge will be lethal in this case when loaded with buckshot. On this topic, don’t be misled by “experts” who advise you to load the gun with birdshot to avoid over-penetrating dry wall and other structures. Birdshot will penetrate boneless gelatin 4 to 6 inches at the max, and while it may make an adversary choose to break off the attack, it’s very unlikely to incapacitate them. Buckshot will penetrate walls but it’ll also adequately penetrate tissue and bone to efficiently incapacitate a bad guy. Consequently, be mindful of what’s behind your target.

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