The Shotgun - Force Multiplier for Civilian Small Unit Tactics
Suarez International Staff Instructor
The role of the shotgun in Civilian Small Unit Tactics should be as a specialty weapon, as it is in MIL / LEO operations.
There are several uses of the shotgun in this role. The two that most often come to mind are breaching and its use by the lead member of a patrol moving through terrain that has dense vegetation.
For some LEOs this is the only authorized long gun available to patrol officers. Some areas are not rifle friendly for citizens to own, or they simply think the shotgun is good enough to do everything they might need it to do. (The countless times I have heard phrases that would make one think that the shotgun imparts great marksmanship skills to the user or that no skill at all is required….)
As previously discussed in several threads on WT, the shotgun is a niche weapon and not a “Do All, Only Gun You Will Ever Need.” Pump actions and semi-autos can both be used and each type has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
By considering the MIL / LEO applications, we can establish the shotgun’s use for civilians conducting SUT type operations.
Considerations for both urban operations and conducting rural patrolling operations will be discussed here.
Both uses should be as a supplement to the primary weapon carried when possible. Don’t let it slow you down as it will not be a force multiplier if you are not in condition enough to carry the weight of an additional weapon and its ammunition.
If a shotgun and a pistol are the only tools at hand, knowing how and when to employ the options in the shotgun’s wide array of ammunition choices is critical.
Urban Use of the Shotgun:
Breaching: Use of the shotgun to gain access through an exterior or interior door by defeating the lock or hinges using the ballistic force of the shotgun round.
Structure Defense: Using the shotgun’s ability to launch projectiles rapidly into threats, coupled with the ability to use slugs for mounted avenues of approach allows choke points in or near the ingress / egress points of structures to be covered by fire.
Rural Patrolling Use of Shotguns: Terrain is a limiting factor not only for our movement techniques but also for the employment and capabilities of the weapons we carry. Some of the lighter, faster cartridges in use can be deflected from their intended point of impact by heavy vegetation, as seen in some of the IMG DVD offerings. This can be where a shotgun supplementing the primary carbine can be of use, as has been done during past wars by military units.
I am not saying abandon your favorite carbine and just carry a shotgun in the bush. I am saying that the light weight carbine firing a light weight bullet might not offer the optimal performance you desire in certain types of terrain.
During movement in heavily vegetated terrain the shotgun can provide a high volume of projectiles to facilitate a break contact drill.
One type of patrol where a shotgun would be devastatingly effective would be a deliberate ambush in an area that has moderate to heavy vegetation. Think small waterway or rural road denial operations.
We like to use the most causality-producing weapon we have to initiate an ambush. The shotgun can fill this role as it is unlikely that civilian operators will have belt fed machineguns, claymores or other anti-personnel mines. They are more likely to have the capability to employ a shotgun to initiate the ambush. Semi automatic shotguns shine in this area because of the rate of fire they can bring to bear onto the bad guys moving into the kill zone.
We know the Saiga 12 is the premier fighting shotgun. However, employment of this system might not be the best option for this mission. Remington models 11-87 or an 1100 might be a better choice. Some Pros and Cons of each system are covered below. (Please note: Less common shotgun designs like the MKA 1919 are not discussed here.)
When we reduce the length of our barrels to make the shotgun a faster and easier to employ long gun we also reduce the capacity of the tube fed guns. When we add large capacity magazines or drums to the S-12 the height and weight are affected. As with most things there is a tradeoff: What you are willing to accept or what you have on hand will dictate how you can apply the shotgun to your specific mission requirements.
Let’s look at the options in the semi-auto shotguns that could fill this role and compare them.
Saiga-12 (converted to AK configuration)
Same manual of arms as our AK rifles.
Rugged and reliable.
Accessories and spare parts are available.
Folding stock option for compactness.
Drum and large capacity magazines are available which lead to the ability to rapidly reload the shotgun and rapidly change to use of slugs for anti-vehicle use. For example: 20 rounds of buckshot or slug before need for a reload. Buck and slugs could even be mixed in the drum.
Platform availability and cost to convert to AK configuration.
Reliability and cost of drum magazines and other high capacity magazines.
Size of drums and high capacity magazines can impede a good low prone position, but can be mitigated by careful selection and preparation of the firing position.
Another trade off for noise and movement once in the ambush to prep the firing position.
Loaded weight of drums is another consideration.
Requires a little more maintenance than the AK rifle.
Remington 1100 or 11-87
Cost and availability make it more apt to be found in gun cabinets in the US than an S-12.
The availability of extended magazine tubes, which require the trade off of added barrel length and weight for the extra capacity. For example, The 22 inch barrel with magazine extension would offer 8+1 rounds of buckshot.
Tube magazine does not interfere with low prone position.
No additional magazines are required.
Repair / spare parts are readily available.
Minimum of 5 rounds before needing to reload on a standard configured gun with no extension tube.
Reloads take additional time and are slower under stress and the accompanying reduction in fine motor skills.
No folding stock option. However, pistol grip full stocks with shorter length of pull are available.
Frequent operator level maintenance required to ensure reliability.
System uses gas seals which, if they become worn or fail, can cause the gun to not function properly.
Some thoughts to consider:
Should it be a purpose driven force multiplier or a supplemental one?
This is what I have on hand, how can I best employ it?
I have my AR or Pistol Caliber Carbine how can this added weight help me/us inflict greater damage to the bad guys?
End Part I