I am old enough to remember my first duty shotgun at LASD. It was an Ithaca 12 gauge. The stock had been cut down as had the barrel. It was handy and it was fast owing to its balance and its well-worn action. And I recall the old deputy that trained us in skipping buckshot off the concrete range at the Wayside training range. He relayed some tall tales about taking rioters out at the knees during the first iteration of the LA Riots held in Watts. I later learned that what I initially thought were exaggerations, were pure fact and the deputy had personal experience dropping about ten rioters that way. In those days, the spread of the pattern and lack of reach of the shotgun was seen as a huge asset by the law men that carried it into urban harm's way.
Sometime after that, the shotgun fell out of favor. It began when the Gunsite crew began trying to turn the weapon into a rifle, and tighten the pattern to the point where any benefit of the weapon had been nullified. And then the inevitable question of "why not just use a rifle?" That coincided with the exceedingly poor performance of the LAPD in North Hollywood, the prevalence of smaller police officers, and the availability of rifles.
Later, when the Assault Weapon Ban expired in 2004, and rifles flowed into the hands of commoners, the death knell of the shotgun was almost certain. Add to that the fear-based, internal affairs mindset of every round needing to be perfectly placed and accounted for - something even highly trained special ops units cannot achieve - and shotguns fell from the first line for both officer and civilian
Except for one thing. The shotgun in its original form...well, perhaps with a few additions, can perform in ways that the rifle will never be able to. And the niche for the 12 ga shotgun, so forgotten by the historically illiterate, is once again coming to the forefront.
- Close Range Urban Confrontations
- Facing Multiple Advancing Attackers
- Rapidly Evolving Situations Precluding traditional Marksmanship
- Limited Down Range Effect of Missed Shots
- Reduced Visibility Due To Atmospheric or Man Made Effects (smoke, fires, gas)
- Limited Penetration Through Mediums, Living or Static
- Increased Physical Damage from Hits
- Ability To Hit Massed targets With One Projectile
All of those things the shotgun excels at and the rifle cannot do.