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20-Gauge Youth Shotguns: Are They Effective For Self Defense?

We wanted to know if these smaller, lighter guns were suitable for home protection. Tested: Winchesterís Ranger Compact, Remingtonís 870 Youth Express, and the Mossberg Bantam.

When it comes to home defense in the middle of the night, a 20-gauge Youth-model shotgun is a good choice. Even though the 20-gauge shotshell produces about four times the energy of a .45 ACP pistol, you don’t need to be big and strong to handle this short-stocked weapon. Our top choice (shown) was the Winchester 1300 Ranger Compact, $367. It put three slugs into one hole at 25 yards, and also produced a 12-inch buckshot pattern at 30 feet. 
Several years ago a member of our staff was approached by a neighbor for advice about home protection. The woman, who lived alone, was being terrorized by a man who was stalking her. She had no firearms experience whatsoever. With an eye towards simplicity and power, our staffer suggested she buy a pump shotgun. However, a trip to the range proved that a 12 gauge was too heavy and the recoil was too punishing. Ultimately, she settled on a 20-gauge model with a short stock, and she loaded it with buckshot. Just days after her first lesson, with buttstock braced against her hip, she repelled her attacker from her house…

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