Before we get into different kinds of shotguns, it bears focusing on one of the most important features of the shotgun as a home defense weapon: the shell

The shell is a plastic hull that contains small pellets (shot) or a lead ball (slug), wadding, and powder.

Understanding how the shell’s contents affect the way you can use a shotgun loaded with them is very important. 

Depending on those contents, the shells might be better suited for aiming to kill or wound, to be exact or hit a broader target, hit a distant target or one in close proximity. 

Knowing these differences will help you plan ahead by getting the right kind of shells, as well as allow you to use your shotgun in various situations where these different firing options are ideal.

Shells can contain a wide variety of projectiles. 

For example, there are flechettes, birdshot, rock salt, rubber pellets, bean bags, sabots, buckshot, slugs, and many other options. 

It’s important to recognize this is not a complete list – it’s meant to act as an indication of the wide variety available to choose from as a shotgun owner. 

Not least because you’ll need to ensure you buy the right kind of shells for home defense use!

Generally speaking, you’ll be focusing on shells with slugs or buckshot for use in home defense. We’ll go into more detail on these two options in Section VIII. Ammunition.