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Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Gunday: Meet Leo

I still haven't had a chance to go shooting recently. Today marks exactly one month of not having gone to the range. This bothers me greatly, because I have found the practice of putting small precise holes in distant pieces of paper to be both addictive and relaxing.

No word back from the Store Owner regarding the status of Rev (as described here), so I will have to call him this week. I did however receive the new scope mount for Izzy in the mail today and installed it with a minimum of fuss. I will describe it in greater detail once I've had a chance to test it, but initial impressions are promising as it feels very solid. 

But enough about rifles. It's time to introduce you to another one of my boys, and he's optimized for home defense. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Leo, my 12 gauge Mossberg 500:


Actually... wait. That's not quite right. That's what Leo used to look like, back when I got him as a Christmas present. You will note that one of the first things I did was replace the 28" barrel with a much shorter 18.5", because Leo's main purpose is home defense. Trust me when I tell you that it's much easier to walk around corners with a foot-and-a-half barrel than it is with one in excess of two feet.


Why is he named Leo? Because he has a mighty roar.

This is Leo in his current configuration. You'll note that I have made him "tacti-cool" by replacing the handsome blond wood (which I still have) with a tactical foregrip and six-position pistol grip stock. Now, while I will plead guilty to the charge of over-accessorization, I made all of these changes for very good reasons and not just because "It looks cool."

The six-position stock should be obvious: I am a short person with short arms and regular fixed stocks are too long for me. The addition of a pistol grip gives me increased control over the weapon in tight spaces, and between that and the sling mount, it will be very hard to disarm me. The TacStar SideSaddle gives me increased ammunition selection, so that (for example) I could carry whatever mixture of birdshot, buckshot, solid slug, or less-lethal defense rounds I felt necessary.

The front pistol grip, in addition to giving more aim control, also gives me a surer grip when racking the slide to reload. The tactical foregrip has Weaver rails on three sides and the flashlight mount puts the power switch less than inch away from my thumb. I don't recall the type of the flashlight, but it is LED and very very bright -- over several hundred lumens, if I recall. It has two settings: "Ohmygod I'm blind" constant beam and "Induce epileptic seizure" strobe. Having caught a reflection of the beam in my bathroom mirror, I'm half-convinced that the blinding light alone could neutralize an intruder.

So we've covered the basics here: postive, two-handed control over the weapon at all times; a sling to prevent the weapon being taken from me; added ammunition should the need arise; a light so I can tell the difference between family and intruder; and an overall low-profile for maneuvering through halls and doorways. The only question remains: why a shotgun for home defense?

There are two excellent reasons for choosing a shotgun as a home defense weapon. The first is that it has an unparalleled combination of not needing much in the way of aiming (due to the spread of the shot) and that it's guaranteed to knock an intruder on his ass and leave him with large gaping holes where his guts used to be. This is critical because, in a self-defense situation, your aim will probably be terrible due to adrenaline, and you may only get one shot, so that shot had better count.

Note: This is not a recommendation that you blindly fire or shoot from the hip. Put the stock to your shoulder and aim like a sensible person. The spread of the shot will correct errors in technique, not miraculously save you.

The second reason is that, unlike a pistol, you don't need a 3-day waiting period. If you ever feel that your life is danger and you need a weapon for self-defense, I urge you to head to your closest gun store, sporting-goods store, or even certain Wal-Marts, and get yourself a pump-action shotgun. I got mine and most of these accessories as Christmas presents, but even a casual Googling tells me you can get a good one for $200-300 -- which, I would like to point out, is still less expensive than any handgun in .32 caliber or above. If you think you can use a .22 pistol for self-defense then you'd better have incredibly good aim.

Get a box of 00 buckshot (if you live in an apartment building or are otherwise worried about shooting through drywall, consult with the person behind the counter about what ammunition you should get -- I suggest #8 birdshot but I am no authority on these matters) and take your weapon to a local trap & skeet club where someone will show you how to operate it if you ask for help.

After that, it's quite simple: aim barrel, make hole, problem goes away.

7 comments:

Niall Bole said...

That's a real pretty gun!

Sadly, I live in Northern Ireland where gun ownership ain't quite so straightforward - however, I am rather interested in the flashlight o' doom you've strapped on to the side. Would there be any chance that you could dig out the model/link to it somewhere?

Erin Palette said...

Hi Niall, glad to have you aboard. Leo thanks you for the compliment. :)

From what little I know of UK gun laws, shotguns aren't as strictly regulated as rifles or pistols. You are sadly limited to a magazine capacity of 2 and apparently have to register your firearm with the police and have some sort of license. If you do decide to get a shotty for home defense, as opposed to hunting or sporting purposes, I recommend you get one with lever or pump action and not break-action, as with some training you could achieve a reasonable reload time.

Tracking down the make & model of the tactical flashlight will take a bit of doing, but I'm working on it. As soon as I know the particulars it will be the subject of another Monday Gunday post.

Thanks for your interest!

Nathan Tamayo said...

Another excellent reason to use a shotgun for home defense is that it has less wall penetration, so you know if you miss that you won't be endangering the other side of the wall (be it neighbors or family.)

Erin Palette said...

That's not quite correct, Nathan, as wall penetration re: shotguns is a complex formula involving type of shell (birdshot, buckshot, specialty rounds, etc), how much power is behind each shot (2 3/4" vs. 3" vs. 3" magnum), how close you are to the wall, and if anything between the wall and shotgun might serve to decelerate the round.

At close ranges, even birdshot will penetrate sheetrock and retain lethal velocity*. (If you live in an apartment building and your overpenetration results in injury or death of a neighbor, I'm pretty sure you're going to held criminally liable.) It's less likely to penetrate if you shoot from further away, or the shot goes through your target, but it's a far cry from "won't be endangering."

Watch this video for a demonstration:
 http://youtu.be/CSOWpy5OKSc
(Warning! Contains graphic depictions of pumpkin slaughter)

My personal setup, since I don't have fancy less-lethal rounds, is 1 shell of #8 birdshot followed immediately by 00 buck. While this is by no means perfect, it gives me the following advantages:

1) Reduced chance of endangering family who are still sleeping. Hopefully after the gunshot wakes them up they will hit the floor with something large between them and non-exterior walls.

2) Florida has a Castle Doctrine, which means that if someone's in my house I can safely assume he means me harm and I am immune from both civil and criminal prosecution if I shoot him dead. However, were this not the case, the first round of birdshot can be considered a "warning shot," if you like, and police and/or juries are less likely to look at me funny if I shot the perp with a game load than with one meant to kill large animals.


3) It gives me a chance to adjust to recoil of the much beefier 00 buck.
And if that first shot doesn't immediately drop him, you know for damn
sure that there will be follow-up shots.

4) I'd prefer NOT to kill someone if I can help it. A nice maiming, followed by his immediate surrender, is always preferable.


*Of course, buckshot will retain lethal velocity for 20+ feet even after shooting through a human being.

Erin Palette said...

That's not quite correct, Nathan, as wall penetration re: shotguns is a complex formula involving type of shell (birdshot, buckshot, specialty rounds, etc), how much power is behind each shot (2 3/4" vs. 3" vs. 3" magnum), how close you are to the wall, and if anything between the wall and shotgun might serve to decelerate the round.

At close ranges, even birdshot will penetrate sheetrock and retain lethal velocity*. (If you live in an apartment building and your overpenetration results in injury or death of a neighbor, I'm pretty sure you're going to held criminally liable.) It's less likely to penetrate if you shoot from further away, or the shot goes through your target, but it's a far cry from "won't be endangering."

Watch this video for a demonstration:
http://youtu.be/CSOWpy5OKSc
(Warning! Contains graphic depictions of pumpkin slaughter)

My personal setup, since I don't have fancy less-lethal rounds, is 1 shell of #8 birdshot followed immediately by 00 buck. While this is by no means perfect, it gives me the following advantages:

1) Reduced chance of endangering family who are still sleeping. Hopefully after the gunshot wakes them up they will hit the floor with something large between them and non-exterior walls.

2) Florida has a Castle Doctrine, which means that if someone's in my house I can safely assume he means me harm and I am immune from both civil and criminal prosecution if I shoot him dead. However, were this not the case, the first round of birdshot can be considered a "warning shot," if you like, and police and/or juries are less likely to look at me funny if I shot the perp with a game load than with one meant to kill large animals.


3) It gives me a chance to adjust to recoil of the much beefier 00 buck. And if that first shot doesn't immediately drop him, you know for damn sure that there will be follow-up shots.

4) I'd prefer NOT to kill someone if I can help it. A nice maiming, followed by his immediate surrender, is always preferable.


*Of course, buckshot will retain lethal velocity for 20+ feet even after shooting through a human being.

Cowboys1954 said...

Hi ,I like what u did to LEO im looking at a used moosseberg an older model it looks like LEO before the transformation.Will any 18in mosseberg barrel fit any mosserberg?? AS u can tell im new to shotguns, thanks in advance for your help
 LOU

Erin Palette said...

Hi, sorry for not replying sooner, just now noticed this.


Not all Mossberg barrels are interchangeable. I do know that the 500 series and 590 series are interchangeable, and they are the most common style of Mossies. So if you have one of those, you're good. :)

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