During World War I, millions of people died from all types of weapons.
Aerial bombs, bayonets, grenades, pistols, and rifles.
Not to mention the machine gun – one of the deadliest weapons of the war – and poison gas.
But, only one weapon was so feared by the Germans that it led to a diplomatic protest…
On July 21, 1918 German troops captured an American soldier in France.
The soldier carried a weapon the Germans had never seen.
It was a Winchester Model 97 pump-action shotgun.
In September 1918, the German government officially protested the use of the shotgun.
The diplomatic letter claimed that the shotgun violated The Hague Conventions.
The Hague Conventions prohibited the use of weapons or ammunition designed to cause “unnecessary suffering.”
So, Germany warned that any American captured with a shotgun or shotgun ammunition would be executed.
Brigadier General Samuel T. Ansell issued a response to the alleged violations.
Ansell pointed to the fact that Germans were using saw-toothed bayonets, flamethrowers, and chlorine gas.
All of these German weapons caused unnecessary suffering.
And the shotgun was nothing like these weapons.
So, the U.S. Government concluded that Germany’s protest was bogus.
Germany’s reason for protesting the shotgun was no doubt because of its effectiveness.
The shotguns design gave Americans an advantage in close combat.
The Winchester had a 20-inch barrel, sling swivels, and a bayonet. It held six shells and all six could fire in a matter of seconds.
The shotgun became known as the “trench sweeper.”
And no Americans were executed for carrying shotguns or for having shotgun ammunition.
In fact, the U.S. never wavered on the use of shotguns in wartime. U.S. military forces used shotguns in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and even in Iraq.
The shotgun was ideally suited for clearing out suspected insurgents in house-to-house fighting.
There is no question the shotgun is a popular and effective self-defense weapon.
Considering this, have you ever looked into shotgun barrel lengths to decide which is right for you?
Short Barrel (18″ to 24″)
Shorter barrel shotguns are best suited for home defense weapons.
The shorter the barrel, the less weight you have to carry.
Plus, they are more maneuverable around tight areas.
I wouldn’t recommend anything less than an 18″ barrel.
That’s because it’s easy enough to handle, but maintains the full ballistic performance of the shotgun.
The drawbacks to shorter barrel shotguns are increased noise, flash, and recoil.
When the shotgun shell exits the barrel, the high-pressure gasses are released.
This causes more noise in a shorter barrel. Plus, there is an increase in muzzle flash that will be very noticeable at night.
If you are considering an 18-inch barrel shotgun, I would check out the Winchester SXP Defender.
Another option is the Remington 870 Express, which has an 18.5-inch barrel.
Long Barrel (24″ Or Longer)
Longer shotgun barrels are generally best suited for hunting.
And they are better for sporting activities such as trap, skeet, and clays.
Longer barrels provide a longer sighting plane, which makes it easier to aim the shotgun.
There is also less recoil on a shotgun with a longer barrel, since the added weight of the barrel.
The drawbacks of a longer barrel are reduced maneuverability and added weight.
A 30″ barrel would be harder to swing around in close quarters and would be easier for a home intruder to grab.
If you are looking for a longer barrel shotgun, I would check out the Browning Citori or the Winchester Model 101.
As with all firearms, there is no one perfect barrel length.
So, when purchasing a shotgun, decide what will be your main use for it.
If it’s strictly home defense go with a shorter barrel.
If it’s for hunting or sport, consider a longer barrel shotgun.