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A shotgun is a firearm generally used to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot.
These small pellets cover an extensively wider range than the common rifle. The shot is generally fired from a smoothbore barrel; however another configuration is the somewhat common rifled slug barrel. The hostage slug barrel is generally used to fire a single projectile (slugs can also be fired from smoothbore weapons). In the shotgun, the power of the burning charge is somewhat equally divided among the pellets, the overall energy of any one ball of shot is relatively low. This fact makes shotguns very useful for hunting small game and birds. The large number of projectiles, however makes the shotgun very useful as an effective defensive or close combat weapon. In this situation, the short range ensures that most of the projectiles of shot will hit the target the user is aiming at. Shot shells are the given name of ammunition for shotguns as well as shells or shotshells. Shotgun slugs or just slugs are single projectile loads.
Common Uses of the Shotgun
The most common use of the shotgun is to fire at fast moving, small targets, however the shotguns has numerous advantages when used against immobile targets. The first advantage is that the shotgun has incredible stopping power at short range, this topping power is more than virtually all handguns and very comparable to most if not all rifle cartridges. Additionally, the widespread of shot produced by the shotgun makes it much easier to aim and to be operated effectively by an inexperienced marksman. 8-27 large lead pellets are usually within a typical self defense load of buckshot and fired this will result in numerous wound tracks in the target. Additionally, unlike a rifle bullet, each pellet of the shot is far less likely and effective in penetrating walls or hitting bystanders.
Shotgun for Home Defense
The shotgun is often the choice for law enforcement for its high stopping power and low penetration rate. Many Americans use the shotgun as a home defense weapon for the various reasons mentioned and the ease of aim also mentioned above.
In a typical home defense situation, the use of the shotgun is rarely over ten or fifteen feet. At these close distances, the shot fired out of the shotgun rarely expands to more than a few inches. Even closer, or extremely close ranges, the wad and pellets will generally strike the target as a single mass.