The shotgun in police service

Beretta 1301 Tactical

As a police recruit in 1988, the sound of racking a round into shotgun in training had our class of 44 students all paying attention. We practiced with it, loaded and unloaded it until you could do it flawlessly.

We did building clearing sceneries, felony stop scenarios, and answered simulated calls, and a Remington 870 shotgun loaded with #0 buckshot was always with us, or at least close by.

This article isn’t a debate about what weapon is better for this or that, it’s really just to pay homage to one of the firearm icons I grew up with, and give it credit for being a great police weapon.

The shotgun has some great advantages, one is its reputation, the second is its ability to throw several projectiles at a target at the same time, (#00 Buckshot consists of approximately nine, 33 caliber pellets) third, it has potential to devastate what the round hits, and fourth, it doesn’t over penetrate.

To me, when it comes to ‘one shot stops’ the shotgun at close range, loaded with #0 or #00 buckshot is tops. The combination of penetration and effect favors #00, and this is the load I prefer, although the #0 is a close second. I don’t like smaller buckshot in police service.

Buckshot fired from a modern shotgun penetrates well, wound severity tends to be great, and unlike rifles, buckshot offers little danger to citizens who are over a hundred yards away. Generally, 00 buck is used up to 30 or so yards, after that, the spread of the pattern is a great concern. The buckshot round looses most of its energy well within the 100 yard range. (Slugs are effective out past the 100 yard mark, but we couldn’t carry slugs by policy, so I’m not prepared to talk much about that option)

Typical arguments against using a shotgun is that it isn’t effective at long range, and as range increases, it’s shot pattern becomes larger and therefore misses may occur. These are true, but in context, the shotgun is meant to be used where the range is close, like when clearing a building, or making dynamic entry into house or small structure. At close range, and in close quarters, the shotgun is my first choice, patrol rifles excel at greater ranges, and are a great asset in such scenarios.

Next, police shotguns are built tough, reliable, and they are simple. Pump shotguns will work even if you do have to treat it poorly. Our patrol shotguns back in the day could stay in a car 24 hours a day – 7 days a week if that particular beat was manned all the time. (Beats were laid out by call load then, a busy beat slot was always “up” and that beat car and shotgun was up as well.)

Pump a round into shotgun in a crowd one day, and you will understand this post !

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