Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Is Joe Biden right? Comparing the double-barreled shotgun to the AR-15 for self defense.

Written By: Bob - Feb• 22•13

Talking to a reporter for Parents magazine, Joe Biden made a very interesting statement regarding the use of two specific kinds of firearms as defensive tools.

Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans don’t need semi-automatic weapons to protect their homes because a couple of blasts from a shotgun will scare off intruders.

“Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun,” the vice president encouraged those worried about defending themselves. He was speaking in an online video as part of a Facebook town hall hosted by Parents Magazine on the administration’s strategy for reducing gun violence, which he has led at the direction of President Barack Obama.

Biden said he keeps two shotguns and shells locked up at home and he’s told his wife, Jill, to use them if she needs protection. He presumably was speaking about before he became vice president, a position that gives the couple full-time Secret Service protection.

“I said, `Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony … take that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house,”‘ Biden said. “You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use and in fact, you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself.”

I unpacked the legal ramifications of Biden’s advice at PJ Media, which is that if you do as the Vice President instructed his wife, you’ll most likely end up in prison for committing a felony. It was horrible, frankly stupid advice from a legal perspective.

What I didn’t do in that post however, was answer the question of whether or not the Vice President was correct in his assertion that:

“You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use and in fact, you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself.”

President Barney Fife fires his "one bullet." The second choke tube on this sporting shotgun was not installed. Obama fired the one shot for a photo op.

President Barack Obama fires a double-barrel shotgun of the type known as an over/under (O/U), which is probably what Joe Biden has in his safe at home.

In the photo above, President Barack Obama fires a double-barrel shotgun like the kind the Vice President suggested for self defense.

The simple fact of the matter is that this kind of shotgun is not designed for self defense. The high-end shotguns preferred as status symbols by the political elite are often hand-fitted to the individual shooter, and cost thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, the 28-gauge Perazzi favored by former Vice President Dick Cheney probably cost between $20,000-$40,000. These firearms are works of art, highly polished, jeweled, and engraved.

Less ornate versions of these firearms exist, of course, but a quick glace at the current listings on suggest that prices in the 2,000+ range are common for the kind of shotgun that the Vice President has at his home.

As I said before, these sporting arms are not made of defense; if they are designed to kill anything, this is it.

A mourning dove. If you are ever attacked by these small, fast-moving birds, a double-barreled shotgun may be your best defense.

A mourning dove. If you are ever attacked by these small, fast-moving birds, a double-barreled shotgun may be your best defense.

Double barreled over/unders like the kind Biden talks about are also used to kill slightly larger birds like pheasants, and the occasion clay pigeon, but that is about it.

The have long barrels of typically 24-32 inches, and are designed to (primarily shoot low-brass, lower-powered shot for hollow-boned, thin-skinned birds weighed in ounces.

The most common, best-selling and most popular centerfire rifle sold in the United States, the AR-15.

The most common, best-selling and most popular centerfire rifle sold in the United States, the AR-15.

This is an AR-15.

The AR-15 is the most common centerfire rifle sold in the United States and has been for a number of years. Contrary to the Vice President’s assertion, it is easy to aim, easy to fire, the recoil is next to non-existent. As an Appleseed instructor, I see people of every age, size and shape come to our events with AR-15s, and I have repeatedly seen petite teenaged girls shoot expert “Rifleman” scores with these firearms.

To put these points in a list, here is the skinny on the AR-15 vs. 12-gauge double barrel shotgun:

  • AR-15 is more easily adjustable for shooters of different sizes
  • AR-15 has far less recoil
  • AR-15 is more controllable shot-to-shot
  • AR-15 has larger magazine capacity
  • Ar-15 is faster to reload
  • AR-15 is as easy to aim, and depending on the sights and optics chosen, can actually be more intuitive
  • AR-15 has much longer practice range: 400 yards for an average shooter versus 40 yards
  • AR-15 using any round is less likely to under-penetrate than a double-barreled shotgun using birdshot. Dick Cheney shot his 78-year-old friend in the face at 30 yards and the gentleman was discharged from the hospital within the week
  • AR-15 using hollowpoinst or frangible ammunition are less likely to over-penetrate than a double-barreled shotgun using buckshot or slugs

The AR-15 is a far superior self-defense firearm for anyone over a double-barrel shotgun.

Vice President Biden is wrong on the law, wrong on the guns, and wrong on the facts.

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  1. A double-barrel shotgun has some very good characteristics as a home defense gun, and some very bad ones.

    In positive, it is the ultimate point and click interface. Point it right at the bad guy, and go click. Each barrel has 9 to 12 .33 caliber balls, ready to go at a moments notice at a bad guy, with no hesitation or need to work an action.

    The negatives are still immense. Once your two rounds are done, that’s it. If you pull a misfire on round 2 (ala the end of Unforgiven), you are stewed (esp. if the shell ignites while you have the breech open.)

    I am looking to buy a Stoeger coach gun in 12ga. (or even possibly 20 ga.) to fill a single niche: Gun to use to get to the other guns. This shotgun would be near the bed to give us enough time to gain access to the other guns.

    A double-barrel shotgun is NOT the primary defense weapon for a house.

  2. Comrade X says:

    Agree, but we all know that those who want to limit AR’s today will be after the shotgun tomorrow when they get their way with the AR’s.

    I gave my wife for mother’s day one year a pistol grip 20 gauge (short barrel but within legal limits), it is her Alamo gun but if you ask her what’s her favorite is, it’s her FN 2000 bull pup and unless she has retreated to her’s Alamo, the 2000 the one she is slinging.

    I’m just hoping she doesn’t claim my Tavor when that comes in!

    What makes Biden and Obama GOD that they can tell anyone how to defend themselves, anyway?

    Death before slavery!

  3. MrApple says:

    Biden’s stupid comment is negated simply when you compare the recoil differences between the two weapon types. I love a good shotgun but an AR has substantially less recoil.

  4. Klingonwork says:

    This argument is moot…self defense expert and all around bad ass Michale Moore says dogs are more effective. Imagine the terror in a murderers eyes when you come at him petting the weiner dog in your arms.

    Clueless Joe, that guy would be good for a laugh 7 days a week except the top 2 spots for the throne are Dumb and Dumber.

    I think I’ll limit my self defense advice to Oscar Mossberg, Ronnie Barrett, Armalite Corporation, Uziel Gal, and Springfield Armory.

    but that’s it!

    Molon Labe

  5. Viktor says:

    Am I the only one who found it funny that Biden said this on the same day that this happened:

    Unexpectedly, many reports leave out the type of firearm used in this “rampage”. Like this one from the LA Times:

    I can’t imagine why the LATimes would do that. Usually they’re very much “on the ball” reporting the type, make, and model of the offensive, scary, good-for-nothing-but-murder, “assault weapon” that is used in any crime they report. In fact, they usually report the types of scary “assault weapons” owned by scary people (like “tea-baggers”) even when those scary “assault weapons” aren’t used, … or even relevant to the story. And the number of “bullets” that the “clip” of each scary “assault weapon” is also typically reported — multiple times — in any story where reporting such info might be scary.

    Not so, this time. I wonder why?

  6. Chuck says:

    Shotgun Joe prefers the double gun because he can’t count much higher than two.

  7. Robert says:

    A good related article on why a rifle is a better home defense weapon from someone who seems to know his topic.

  8. Honeybadger says:

    Biden is a moron on all topics he voices his opinion on.
    It really is that simple. You’ll lose your mind trying to figure him out or his reason for his opinions. He is a moron and that is the reason he says what he says. Go talk to another moron and you’ll get similar answers.

  9. Arthur says:

    In Australia they see Over-and-Under shotguns as tactical guns since pumps and semi-autos are almost illegal. Something to look forward too…

  10. Mudlark says:

    Biden the warrior should explain to my 14 year old why he can’t handle an ar-15 and why the 12 gauge is so much easier for him to handle, or my wife. I sold my riot gun years ago because the recoil would tear the heck out of the webbing of my hand after a few shoots. If you weren’t wearing gloves you’d be missing sking for a few weeks. If you buy a shotgun make sure it has a stock!

  11. Mike Gregory says:

    Guns and Ammo staged it perfectly several years ago. They built 2 sheetrocked stud walls with a hallway between them and then another with plywood outer sheathing to simulate an exterior wall on the other side of a room.
    The 12 gauge 00 buck went through all walls and exited the building. So did the slug/sabot, as you would imagine. The same with a .45 230 FMJ.
    The AR shooting a 55 grain FMJ penetrated the first wall and was already splintered lead as it hit the second interior stud wall.. It NEVER made it to the exterior wall, let alone penetrating it. A frangible round would do even better.
    If you NEED to shoot through the walls then a 62 grain penetrator should do the trick. If the goal is to minimize collateral damage in other areas of the interior of a home an AR-15 is tough to beat.

    Stupid Joey will never have a clue so why bother.

    • cloaked in mystery says:

      indeed, fast rifle bullets especially the OTM’s favored for defensive use are poor penetrators of gapped barriers.

      something like the 45-70 is a different story, but the typical wallboard and plywood found in many homes best stops fast light projectiles due to the wall function as gap armor.

      on the most extreme example of this are whipple sheilds used to protect spacecraft from hypervelocity impacts that would defeat a much heavier single layer.

      (stardust would be the best example, as it flew through a cometary tail, its whipple sheilds were several feet thick, made of stacked layers of aluminum seperated by vaccum)

  12. rumcrook™ says:

    its really no more simple than this, felt recoil and memory flinch.

    I shot trap competitively with a 12 guage. I was in the army and had an m-16. now an ar-15. pulling that trigger is miles apart and I could imagine even more so for a a women at 120 lbs vs my 250.
    women who shoot an ar 15 comment that it is anti climactic. shooting a 12 guage is not and takes a little getting used to. I woulfd have red bruising on my shoulder after shooting trap all evening. Ive never had a rash from a day at the range with an ar-15.

    as usual joe should go back to waxing his vintage trans am

    • uninformedluddite says:

      I have never heard a senior’s penis described as a vintage trans am before.

  13. styrgwillidar says:

    You forgot to mention ARs have rails allowing mounting of weapon lights. WMLs are much easier to manipulate than carrying a flashlight separately from the weapon. It allows for a ‘last chance’ identification of the target and whats in their hands. In addition they tend to dazzle and disorient the intruder complicating his picture in the first critical seconds of an engagement. Not many over-unders come with rails.

    Additionally, most ARs either come with sling mounting points or they can easily be added, whereas most double shotguns don’t. These provide better weapon retention while moving around the home allowing the use of the hands for things like, a phone, gathering up/directing the kids, without putting down and forgetting/losing control of the weapon. Additionally, if it comes to a struggle, it makes it more difficult for the weapon to be stripped from you.

  14. right_2_bear_arms says:

    Here in Florida, following Biden’s advice, you’d face potential jail time of MINIMUM 10 years for discharging the weapon that way. Thanks for the advice Joe! Heck, shoot an intruder INSIDE your own home but in the back – good possibility for jail time.

    An AR or other sport rifle like a Ruger Mini 14 are great home defenders. I also think a pump shotgun is a decent choice for home defense. I prefer a 410 GA. over 12 GA for many reasons. Depends on your circumstances. That is why we need CHOICE. Not one firearm is always ideal for another.

  15. Orion says:

    Totally different topic – but that is a very beautiful young woman, especially due to her obvious poise – and her pose.

    That should be a classic “This is an American teenager.” type of picture. My respects to her parents – They must be very proud of their daughter.


  16. jhstuart says:

    Biden can be the founding member of a new organization whose credo is MORON LABE
    as opposed to Molon Labe

  17. Col Bat Guano says:

    “Vice President Biden is wrong on the law, wrong on the guns, and wrong on the facts.”

    Uncle Joe was hitting the sauce again before that interview. What’s worse? A drunken VPOTUS, or a dumb-as-a-brick VPOTUS.

  18. Rip says:

    If a shotgun is easier to aim and easier to use than an AR-15, shouldn’t we be banning shotguns instead? I mean, I thought we were supposed to be banning guns that can be used to kill people easily.

  19. CayleyGraph says:

    Oh, sure, you laugh at the prospect of being attacked by the birds. But the birds can very easily be dangerous, as shown in the Hitchcock documentary whose name escapes me at the moment.

  20. J White says:

    Joe Biden urges everyone to go out and get a shotgun. Let’s consider that… AR-15 shoots a .223/5.56mm round that was designed to maim or incapacitate, not kill. A 12 Gauge shotgun’s bore measures .720, which is a little over 3X the size of an AR-15 projectile. The .223/5.56 is typically a 55-65 grain projectile. A 12 gauge slug is typically 1 oz. In reference, 1 grain = 0.00228571429 ounces or 1 ounce = 437.5 grains. Therefore a 12 Gauge slug is 8X heavier than a .223/5.56 projectile. My AR-15 holds 30 rounds and my Remington 870 12g holds 7. In terms of firepower, my fully loaded AR-15 holds 1,650 grains of projectiles where my fully loaded Remington 870 3062.5 grains. That means in order to match the potential amount of lead put downrange I would have to fire 1.85 fully loaded 30 round magazines from my AR-15. Biden specifies using a double barreled shotgun for home defense. That means TWO rounds per reload. 437.5 x 2= 875. In order to match the potential of one fully loaded AR-15 magazine, I would have to reload once with a double barrel. Consider the speed with which a DB shotgun can be reloaded by the regular, ordinary citizen that has very little practice and/or range time. I make these calculations unbiased and with only education in mind. YMMV. On the matter of opinion, I would put a good solid pump shotgun that holds at LEAST 5 slugs on par with an AR-15 BUT ONLY in the hands of an individual who has practiced with and is accustomed to the firing characteristics of a pump shotgun. I also did not touch on the subject of shotshells, be it buckshot, birdshot, or any other type.