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.