On site at the Bristlecone Shooting, Training and Retail Center in Denver, Colorado, Rob Pincus answers a question he’s asked a lot. Shotgun vs. rifle: what’s better for home defense?

Semi-Auto Rifle

His personal preference is for a medium-caliber semi-automatic rifle. He likes the AR-15 platform and has used it for a long time. He has done a lot of rifle training and practice with it. He chooses the semi-automatic rifle for its precision, controllability, magazine capacity, ergonomics, and recoil management. He finds a semi-auto rifle much more controllable than a 12-gauge shotgun.

Shotgun

But in the shotgun vs. rifle debate, a 12-gauge shotgun can certainly do a lot of physiological damage to a home invader and cause the desired stop. Be sure to use the right kind of ammunition, such as the Winchester Defender Slug and Buckshot load. Some slugs are designed for self defense and there’s also buckshot that is specifically made to keep a tight pattern, for personal defense and armed professional applications.

One of the greatest advantages of the shotgun is variety of ammo choices. One of the biggest limitations of the shotgun is capacity. Though high-capacity shotguns exist, in the context of home defense, where you want a relatively small, light and maneuverable firearm that you can reload quickly and efficiently, Rob does not find the shotgun to be as easy to use as a semi-auto rifle. If you choose a shotgun, get some shotgun training to prepare yourself for a home-defense incident.

Shotgun vs. Rifle Live-Fire Demonstration

Rob then fires a round from each weapon. The buckshot fired by the 12-gauge shotgun looks much more impressive than the single round fired by the rifle, yet Rob still prefers the rifle for its additional round capacity, ability to place those rounds precisely, and ease of reloading.