The Box O’ Truth #18 – Sight Off-Set

A recent thread on an online forum discussed the attributes of a Handgun vs. a Shotgun vs. a Rifle in home defense.

Several advantages for each type of weapon were discussed.

I’d like to expand on one of those of the rifle, i.e., increased accuracy potential.

At Thunder Ranch in the Urban Rifle course, we were sent through the Terminator, a building with halls, rooms, and bad guy targets. The instructor held us by the collar of our flack vest and walked behind us as we cleared the rooms.

At the end of the run, I cleared a hall and sliced the pie of a room on my right. There was a target with the bad guy hiding behind a “hostage”.

The instructor (as the bad guy) hollered, “I’ve got a knife at your kid’s throat! Drop the weapon!!”

I had one second to “solve” the problem. I shot the bad guy through the forehead. The instructor patted me on the back and said, “Good job. He’s DRT.”

He later told me that some folks will freeze-up and not know what to do in that scenario.

A couple of issues:

1. When shooting for a head shot, be sure not to shoot low.

Clint related a story about a police officer that shot a bad guy in the jaw with a .44 Magnum, and blew most of the guy’s lower face off. But the bad guy still killed the officer.

A good head shot should be in the forehead, eyes and above. This will cause damage to the brain and stop hostilities.
2. When using a rifle, we have something at close range called “sight off-set”.

This is the amount that a bullet will strike below point of aim.

With an AR15, the sight off-set at 10 to 15 feet (the width of a room) is about 2 1/2 inches.

This is caused by the height of the sights above the bore.

You must aim approximately at the top of the forehead to strike in the proper zone.


Let’s give it a try.

First, a shot with the AR15 Carbine, from Low Ready, in 1 second.




I did the drill 3 times.

These are the results.

These are the results.

Next, with a 12 Gauge shotgun, from Low Ready, in 1 second.

Low Ready.



Tman caught me in full recoil.


Notice the holes in the target.

The load was 00 Buck.

Now, before anyone hollers “foul”, I was trying to place the shot in the same place as with the AR15.

The low pellets were not “planned”.

That is the problem with a shotgun; it is not “precise”.


I tried again with a load of #1 Buck.


This one had an ugly hole that I am pointing to. I found that it was made by the shot cup.

This one had an ugly hole that I am pointing to. I found that it was made by the shot cup.

Lessons learned:
  1. Sometimes, a 1/2 head shot is all you will have. You must be able to take the shot.
  2. A Rifle is the best weapon to make precise shots.
  3. A Rifle is much more powerful than a handgun, and much more precise than a shotgun.
  4. If you know that you will have to fight, as Clint says, “Bring a rifle. Bring several friends with rifles. If a rifle is not available, bring a shotgun loaded with 00 Buck. If a shotgun is not available, bring a handgun, one that the caliber starts with at least a ‘4’.”
  5. “Pray and spray” won’t cut it. You must be able to place precise shots under stress.
  6. And practice.

Besides, shooting stuff is fun.

1 Comment on The Box O’ Truth #18 – Sight Off-Set

  1. There are a few misconceptions about shotgun for home defense that I see all the time.
    Myth and fact.

    Myth: Using shot gives you a better chance of hitting the BG, you can just point in the general direction and something will hit.

    Fact: At close range shot usually has a tight group. You do need to aim or you will miss. You also need to know how the shot will pattern in your gun. If you do miss this creates more objects that will likely land in another room or in your neighbors apartment.

    Myth: The sound of racking the slide will scare away a BG.

    Fact: This gives away you position and lets the intruder know you have a gun. If the BG was intending to do you harm, the first thing that will happen is you will be shot at, and the BG can claim self defense in court, presuming they live. If you are going to rack the slide be prepared to empty the chamber.

    Myth: Slugs are not good because of over penetration. It will go through the BG and keep going through walls and kill someone innocent on the other side of the building.

    Fact: Any ammunition capable of stopping a person is going to over penetrate walls. Slugs are no exception. There are some circumstances that rifle and handgun ammo will penetrate more.

    There are a few more but you see where I am going with this.

    I believe a shotgun using low recoil slugs is a great option for many self defense situation, much better than buck shot or bird shot, equal to a rifle but with more take down power (well, depending on what rifle you have). With very little training someone can be extremely accurate with a shotgun, add a red dot and these become even more accurate. I have hit bulls eyes (with in 2″ groups) all day long at 20 feet shooting slugs in my Mossy 8-shot with a Holosun red dot. In this situation, where there is a hostage, instead of putting a hole in the head it would likely take the top of the head clean off (well, maybe not so clean). Even if the shot was low I would think the brain would get hit.

    Maybe you can expand on this article using slugs?

    Thank you for this blog as it does show how a rifle is a great option for HD as many people over look it as an option.

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