First things first: I don't intend to start an argument here and I did search and found these threads: http://lightfighter.net/eve/fo...621083362#8621083362 http://lightfighter.net/eve/fo...491021683#9491021683 that answered some questions I had, but not all.
The Magpul DVD release as well as a recent discussion I had with someone featured in that product has left me wondering why the shotgun? It seems the biggest selling point is versatility- both of the above threads and several others mention the ability for less-lethal and breaching rounds as well as chemical, tazer, and other specific use loads. I understand the need for less-lethal options for LE and some Mil applications, but for me the versatility argument doesn't fly. A less-lethal gun is a valuable tool, but it seems that many if not most agencies using them dedicate a weapon for less-lethal applications and ONLY that application. Orange/red stocked 870's are on the wall at several LE dealers and one local shop I've visited in the last 6 months. But if it is strictly a less-lethal gun, the versatility argument is moot. For breaching, again, that (in my mind) makes it a specific tool. When we carried shotguns overseas we did so in addition to our rifle/carbine, not as a replacement. For all the other applications (to include less lethal) it seems as though one of the stronger virtues of the shotgun could also be said of the m203- which you don't see in a lot of folks' safes these days.
The question I have is simply what niche or primary function does a shotgun serve that a rifle or carbine does not do as well or better? In terms of home defense, offensive or defensive military use, or just about any type of situation in which you are carrying a tool to kill someone with, I can't see an advantage in limiting range, limiting optics options, limiting magazine capacity, limiting ergonomics, and slowing reloads. Now the caveat here, I freely admit that I have had virtually no formal training and only a small amount of "operational" experience using shotguns. I've owned a few- (870 police mag with Wilson extended mag tube and speedfeed stock that was stolen, Mossberg Mariner 590 with a shortened stock and Surefire fore-end that I sold after not using it, and a Beretta 391x that I received as a gift and use for trap/skeet/sporting clays) and the only one I have ever held on to is a bird gun. I see and hear folks very, very frequently recommend a 12 ga for home defense more commonly than almost all other suggestions combined. I just don't see why. When the virtues of shotguns are spewed forth by the various gun shop commando types I hear mostly inaccurate or irrelevant info- everything from "you don't have to aim" to the whole "scaring them off by cycling the action" crap. When I hear the justifications from folks who are generally pretty switched on, I don't see any advantages over a rifle, a rifle that corrects many of the shortcomings of the shotgun at that.
I don't want to be closed minded and I want to understand how to employ ANY weapons system under ANY circumstance, so that leads me here to the SMEs. For those who have extensive training and experience with these guns, what are the real benefits over other weapons systems? I refuse to believe that these benefits don't exist based on the fact that so many agencies, departments and virtually every branch of service still use shotguns in some capacity. There has to be something here I'm not seeing or haven't experienced in training. I'm not looking to debate one type of shotgun over another, to discredit them as a weapons system- I am simply looking to find out the answer to that question: what do they do (outside of less lethal, breeching and sports/hunting) that makes them a viable weapon compared to everything else available to the end user?