Recently a neighbor asked my advice on purchasing a home-defense shotgun—his first gun in fact, and the first one he would shoot since the .22s of his Boy Scout days. Actually, he wanted me to accompany him to an upcoming local gun show, and if not for a sales meeting scheduled for that weekend, it would have been fascinating to hear a newcomer’s take on the gun show scene.
I described different options and then advised him to consider a short-barreled side-by-side like the Stoeger Double Defense because loading and shooting it are foolproof. No effort is required to cycle an action, and the gun can’t jam between shots. Since precise aiming isn’t necessary, even the rawest beginning shooter has a fair chance of operating the gun effectively. Though the Double Defense utilizes the economic, century-old “coach gun” platform, we thought enough of Stoeger’s clever revision to award it Shooting Illustrated magazine’s 2010 Shotgun of the Year award. It now comes with a black synthetic stock, single trigger, 20-inch ported barrels and accessory rails top and bottom for attaching an optical sight and/or a weapon light, both extremely useful when responding to alarming sounds in the night.
My neighbor listened, but ultimately came home from the gun show with a pair of Mossberg 500 pump-action shotguns, one for upstairs and the other for down. He liked the idea of having more shots, and didn’t mind paying more (though the Mossberg is value-priced too). He will need a little more training and practice to prepare for using those pump guns in a high-anxiety encounter, but seems determined to get it, and in fact, we are planning a day at the range so that I can help get him started on the right foot.
I believe my neighbor made an excellent choice in the matter and, moreover, I salute him for making the decision to take responsibility for his own home defense. For you and me that may seem like a no-brainer, but for many adult non-shooters it can be a difficult and even scary crossroads.
If someone like that comes seeking your help, please give it thoughtfully. Don’t add to the paranoia that might be driving them, but rather spell out the pros and cons of the various gun options without getting overly technical or insistent. And if you can walk them through basic gun safety and help them learn to operate their new gun, then you’ve done your part for homeland security.