All across the nation, the evening shifts of countless police agencies are assembling their gear, getting briefed and uniformed to start their patrols. With only a few exceptions, there is a long gun racked up in the front seat of their patrol cars. More often than not, that gun is a Remington Model 870, the 60-year-old 12-gauge shotgun that has been the mainstay of police forces for decades. But in some cars, there is a different gun in place. It is a version of the AR-15 with a short barrel and a long magazine. Which officer has an advantage?

The service version of the AR-15 carbine is called an M4—although technically that term applies only to the Colt-produced gun. In law enforcement, the AR-15s are almost always semi-autos with 16-inch barrels. The use of these .223 Rem. carbines is a fairly recent phenomenon that stems from situations where greater range capability than that of a shotgun is required.

Although there are still countless thousands of short police 12-gauge shotguns like the 870 in use, it is clear AR-15s are making big inroads. I have to wonder how many M4s made it to the front-seat rack on the basis of careful reason and how many came by way of the understandably human desire for change—or even because of the M4’s greater cool quotient. After all these years, the venerable old trouble gun—a short shotgun—is often augmented, if not replaced, by the modern .223 AR-15 carbine. The carbine is often viewed as a better firearm due to greater accuracy and range, a perception that is undeniably true. A spin-stabilized spitzer-type bullet traveling at very high velocity is much more likely to arrive where it is aimed when the target is distant. However, a charge of 00 buck or 000 buck, or even a 1-ounce slug, has a greater chance of completing its mission—to stop the fight immediately—than a 55-grain, .22-caliber bullet.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the 870. The author’s test indicates the shotgun delivers more stopping power out to 25 yards—with different loads. After that, the AR takes over.

I could take either side of the argument and make a good case for personal defense. No matter what conclusion I might reach, however, there is no scientific measurement involved. So, I decided to try to actually measure the effectiveness of the two guns in a side-by-side shootout. For my shootout to have any validity in its results, the playing field would have to be as level as possible—the same challenges needed to be presented to both guns. Since the crux of the matter was effectiveness at range, I determined each gun should be fired at the same target and at the same range. Because the idea was to ascertain some kind of combat effectiveness under stress, I put a time limit on each stage. To establish a baseline from which to compare guns, I used plain, uncustomized versions of the 870 shotgun and M4 carbine. In recent years, the 870 shotgun has come to be heavily customized by individual shooters and the AR is like the 1911 pistol in being one of the most heavily user-modified guns in the arsenal. Brownells devotes endless pages to thingamajigs and whoozits for the AR in its catalog.

To do the shooting, I went to Gunsite Academy near Prescott, AZ, where I engaged the assistance of Operations Manager Ed Head. I was fortunate a 260 Shotgun course was in progress, as well as a 223 Carbine course. For the purposes of the test, I needed a really good shooter for each gun. Head suggested Bill Murphy as the shotgunner.

At long distance, the shotgun became a challenge because of its lack of sights. Despite the hurdle, two slugs hit the target at 100 yards

Murphy is a friend from my first visit to Gunsite many years ago. He is still a working police officer with a Southern California agency and has been involved with SWAT, felony arrest and other police special operations work for his entire 20-year career. A Gunsite Rangemaster, Murphy is a highly skilled tactical shooter who has actual police shooting experience with several platforms. Vince Morgan, his counterpart with the AR-15, is a Midwestern police officer who was at Gunsite polishing his instructional and tactical skills. Morgan is also a longtime law enforcement officer with considerable field experience—another shooter who has seen the elephant and heard the owl.

The actual course of fire for our experiment was as follows. Each shooter faced a single Gunsite silhouette, first at 15 yards, then 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards. On the whistle, they had 3 seconds to get as many hits as possible on the target. Obviously, the shotgun has the potential for many more hits, but the carbine was more likely to get hits at the greater ranges. Since we used stock guns—a plain 18-inch, cylinder-bore 12-gauge 870 and a Smith & Wesson M&P15—that neither shooter had handled or fired before, there was no advantage to shotgunner or rifleman.

Murphy was at a tremendous disadvantage, because in its stock configuration, the 12-gauge shotgun didn’t contain a rear sight. He had to shoot using the rear edge of the receiver for a sighting reference. It might seem unfair, but most patrol-car shotguns just don’t have rear sights.

The AR-15 takes over in stopping power after 25 yards according to the author’s tests.

Scoring was interesting. In a sense, we were trying to evaluate the performance of two vastly different systems, and computing the energy each gun delivered to the target at each range was the best means of comparison. To accomplish this, I had to determine the weight of the bullet or pellet and the speed at which it was traveling when it struck the target, calculate the energy at impact, then multiply by the number of hits the shooter produced. Thus, Morgan’s first stage at 7 yards saw his four, 55-grain bullets traveling at 3,240 fps produce 1,282 foot-pounds each, for a total of 5,128 foot-pounds. Yet, I remain a shooter who is distrustful of energy as a definitive index of stopping power. In my view, the means of energy transmission to the target should always be considered.

I also gave the shooters the option of choosing their ammunition and several types were available. This was most important to the shotgunner, who could use either buckshot or slugs. The slugs available were Federal Law Enforcement 1-ounce slugs of the Foster type. A slug load in a fighting shotgun is a much underappreciated piece of ordnance. It is essentially a .73-caliber, soft-lead hollow-base bullet weighing 437 grains, traveling 1,325 fps at 25 yards.

Close in, a slug generates more than 2,000 foot-pounds of energy, about five times that of a .45 ACP. Even at 50 yards, one of Murphy’s slugs had about three times the energy of one of Morgan’s 55-grain AR-15 rounds. It is well understood in combat shooting circles that a solid torso hit with a shotgun slug instantly stops the fight.

My personal-defense shoot had a lot of warts on it, but the test crew plunged enthusiastically forward. I guessed Murphy would probably use buckshot at 15 and 25 and slugs the rest of the way. I was wrong. He used slugs at 15, getting four hits in 3 seconds. So did Morgan with his AR-15. Murphy was well aware of what he could do with slugs at close range, so he shot for as high an energy level as possible. At 25 yards, he hedged his bets a bit. Knowing a cylinder-bore shotgun will reliably keep almost all of its pellets (in a nine-pellet #00 load) on a silhouette at 25 yards, he used buckshot. Firing four rounds and getting 35 hits out of the 36 possible, Murphy did not risk a miss with slugs.

At 50 yards, Murphy went back to his slugs and stayed with them the rest of the way. He only managed two hits at 50 yards, one at 75 and then two at the 100-yard line. But, Morgan—as solid and reliable a shooter as I have ever watched—got five hits at 50, then four at 75 and finished with three at 100 yards.

Slugs are amazing projectiles in many ways. Even in an unchoked or unrifled barrel, they can be remarkably accurate all the way to 100 yards and beyond. But, that big old punkin’ ball has a poor excuse for a ballistic coefficient and drops in velocity fast. Since energy is calculated using the square of velocity, when a projectile quickly sheds velocity, energy decays even faster. In plain terms, the shotgun put more energy on target than the rifle, at least inside of 50 yards. But at that range, the AR-15 started to excel. Basically, that’s because the nature of rifleballistics are such that rifle bullets retain energy much longer and are markedly superior in the accuracy department. Compound the shotgunner’s problem with a nearly non-existent sighting system and he doesn’t have much of a chance.

Does my personal-defense shootout prove anything? Actually, it does not. A statistician would tell you there is insufficient data. All we really have here is a suggestion that the conclusions are meaningful. Murphy was aware of this and wanted to see what he could do with slugs in his own 12-gauge shotgun, a Mossberg auto-loader with a modern red-dot sight. I asked Morgan to shoot against him using his own AR, a Colt M4 with another red-dot sight. They fired the 3-second drill at 50 yards. Murphy’s shotgun delivered three hits for 4,266 foot-pounds of energy, but Morgan was able to speed up thanks to his red dot, getting seven hits for 8,218 foot-pounds. As it was with the uncustomized guns, the AR-15 got more power on target. This will not come as a big surprise to any experienced field shooter. The shotgun would seem to have lost, but because inferior sights caused a severe limitation on getting hits.

I would not argue for dumping all 12-gauge shotguns. It is relatively easy to put a set of rugged ghost rings on the Remington and it does wonders for the gun’s accuracy—even at close range. Also, I remain convinced a hit with a shotgun slug or a charge of buckshot is a better hit than one from a .223 Rem. AR-15 bullet—it tends to traumatize more tissue. At 100 yards, the delivered energy from a 1-ounce slug is about 970 foot-pounds. The .224-inch-diameter bullet is more than 1,000—not a lot of difference. If anything comes out of this experiment, it is a strong recommendation to to put better sights on shotguns and investigate the wider use of slugs.





  1. It’s actually very complex in this full of activity life to listen news on Television, therefore I only use internet for that reason, and get the latest information.|

  2. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and will come
    back later on. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a
    nice holiday weekend!

  3. Hello there! This post could not be written much better!
    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He constantly kept talking about this. I will
    send this information to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a good read.
    I appreciate you for sharing!

  4. That is very interesting, You are an excessively professional blogger.
    I have joined your feed and sit up for in search of extra of your excellent post.
    Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

  5. Free customary transport and handling if mailed
    throughout the United States, $5 commonplace international price shall be
    charged when mailed outdoors the U.S.

  6. This cuff bracelet is made from pewter polished in delicate class.

    This is an everyday put on jewelry for males. This men’s bracelet could also be engraved with a person’s identification info, medical
    knowledge, names, symbols, and messages.

  7. And for goodness’ sake, do not wear a revealing top.

    As for flouncy, balloon skirts, you may get a bit of bit extra inventive together with your top, depending
    on the skirt length and elegance. As a rule, pair a extra detailed, ballooned, female skirt with a less dramatic
    high and vice versa.

  8. You won’t be making photos bigger, as an alternative you’ll
    be cropping out of your original, adjusting
    and saving.

  9. Step 1: Find a frame that’s large sufficient so that you can lay all your earrings in, aspect by side.
    Whether standing up or on a wall, you don’t wish to limit yourself house-smart and defeat
    the purpose.

  10. Great site you have here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!|

  11. An elective further, and one that can allow you to an ideal deal in significantly fiddly
    jobs, is what is often referred to as a serving to’ or third’ hand.

  12. There could also be a standard management mark – this can be a mark used
    by nations which can be signatories to the Worldwide Conference on Hallmarking.

  13. They want one thing that makes them really feel good, however would not
    cost much”. Mr. St. Pierre’s feedback are additional evidenced by the current upswing and
    robust sales of sweet and sweets. For a comparatively
    low price, a quick purchase permits consumers to take a break and indulge; and
    feel better – even if it’s just for a few minutes.

  14. This handmade beaded necklace is already bought,
    however, but I wished to indicate off the beautiful blues
    and greens in this pendant necklace.

  15. Hello, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, wonderful blog!|

  16. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back someday. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!|

  17. Hands down, Apples app store wins by a mile. Its a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but Im not sure Id want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.
    buy merrell

  18. Great info and right to the point. I am not sure if
    this is truly the best place to ask but do you people have any ideea where to employ some professional writers?
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  19. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to provide something again and help others such as you aided me.|

  20. May I simply just say what a relief to uncover someone
    who actually knows what they’re talking about over the internet.
    You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    A lot more people should look at this and understand
    this side of the story. I was surprised that you
    aren’t more popular since you definitely have the gift.

  21. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say excellent blog!|

  22. This really is such a fantastic useful resource that youre providing and also you give it away for free. I adore seeing web sites that understand the value of providing a top quality resource free of charge. It?s the outdated what goes around comes around program.
    cheap keen shoes

  23. Its rare for me to discover something on the net that is as entertaining and fascinating as what you have got here. Your page is sweet, your graphics are outstanding, and whats more, you use source that are relevant to what you are saying. Youre certainly one in a million, good job!
    ugg boots on sale

  24. It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read even more things about it!|

  25. Arrival from the standpoint of a fellow associate within this commerce, I in point of fact enjoy your write-up. I’ve regularly been in in actuality like with this trade all my life so I have developed a dialogue board for market specialists to come together and chat about all things in this business. You gave me some fantastic creative concepts for my own web site.
    buy ralph lauren online

  26. This is the perfect internet site for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would wantHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. great stuff, just great!
    cheap adidas shoes

  27. Hi my friend! I wish to say that this post is amazing, great written and come with
    approximately all important infos. I’d like to look extra posts like this.

  28. Terrific article! That is the kind of info that are supposed to be shared across the web. Disgrace on the search engines for now not positioning this put up higher! Come on over and seek advice from my website . Thanks =)|

  29. The website post author includes a specific effortless expertise to explain unquestionably excellent topics. Reads the blog site is unquestionably great and you will come across certainly many average visitors. No wonder, while using first-rate reports. In any circumstance, it was a pleasure to commit time on your site and learn the exciting content.
    discount prada bags

  30. Hola! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally got the courage to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

  31. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog? My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would genuinely benefit from some of the information you present here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Regards!|

  32. Simply want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.|

  33. Please tell me that youre heading to keep this up! Its so superior and so important. I cant wait to read additional from you. I just feel like you know so substantially and know how to make people listen to what you have to say. This blog is just too cool to become missed. Terrific stuff, really. Please, PLEASE keep it up!
    cheap barbour jackets

  34. Wonderful learn, I simply handed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he truly bought me lunch as a result of I discovered it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! Anyway, in my language, there arent much good supply like this.
    belstaff outlet

  35. For newest information you have to go to see the web and on world-wide-web I found this site as a most excellent site for latest updates.|

  36. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy I came across this in my search for something relating to this.|

  37. Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to know so much approximately this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something. I feel that you just could do with a few percent to power the message home a little bit, but other than that, that is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. Ill certainly be back.
    parajumpers shop online

  38. Thanks for share very nice info. Your weblog could be very goodI am impressed by the information you have got on this blog. It shows how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more. You, my good friend, ROCK! I discovered just the knowledge I already searched in all places and just couldn’t find. What a perfect site. Like this website your website is one in all my new favs.I like this info introduced and it has given me some form of desire to succeed for some cause, so thanks
    oakley on sale

  39. Simply puts, this report showed HCA had all of the powerful weight-loss advantages it was reported to have – without
    any major negative effects.

  40. Claire McCaskill, the chairman of the Senate’s consumer protection panel,
    scolded Oz for promoting magic tablets.

  41. My brother recommended I may like this blog. He was once entirely right. This submit truly made my day. You can not believe just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!|

  42. Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to fix this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Many thanks!|

  43. I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.|

  44. Hello there, I do believe your site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, great blog!|

  45. I have been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours nowadays, but I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more helpful than ever before.|

  46. I simply wanted to write down a quick note in order to thank
    you for these nice concepts you are giving on this website.
    My prolonged internet investigation has at the end of the day been rewarded with
    excellent points to write about with my colleagues.
    I would mention that many of us site visitors are quite lucky to exist in a good network with many lovely people with valuable pointers.
    I feel very much privileged to have used
    your web page and look forward to so many more awesome minutes reading
    here. Thank you once more for everything.

  47. My brother recommended I might like this website. He was totally right.
    This submit actually made my day. You cann’t believe just
    how a lot time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  48. It’s an awesome piece of writing in support of
    all the web viewers; they will obtain advantage
    from it I am sure.

  49. Fantastic blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed
    .. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot!

  50. However because HCA inhibits this enzyme, your body’s capability to store fat is slowed
    down, as well as the continuing to be fat cells will be
    used as power.

  51. Greetings from California! I’m bored at work so I
    decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, great site!

  52. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not
    already 😉 Cheers!

  53. The most effective Garcinia item on the marketplace is
    called Pure Garcinia Cambogia Extract, which boasts an HCA focus of 60%.

  54. I conceive other website owners should take this web site as an example, very
    clean and fantastic user friendly style.

  55. This piece of writing offers clear idea in favor of the
    new visitors of blogging, that genuinely how to
    do blogging and site-building.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here