The 12 Gauge Shotgun: A Beginners Manual for Home Protection by Charles Marais

Folks considering or using a shotgun for home defense might want to pick up a copy of this book. It's a fountain of knowledge that dispels myth and lays a firm foundation surrounding defensive application of shotguns.

A few months ago Charles Marais, after reading my review of Clay Martin’s book, contacted me and asked if I would be willing to review his book, The 12 Gauge Shotgun: A Beginners Manual for Home Protection. I accepted the request. I suspect many returning readers are probably wondering why I would accept this request when I hold a strong opinion for the AR platform as the optimal tool from home protection and don’t seem to have a positive opinion on the good ole shotgun in general. The facts are I do think the shotgun is a viable option for home defense, but I think it is often misunderstood and misrepresented more often than not. I also think the shotgun is a complex weapon system with a steep learning curve. Icing on the cake is that I’m not particularly skilled with the shotgun and figured the opportunity to read and review this book would also help me level up my knowledge on the platform. So yeah, I was curiously intrigued by the request and selfishly accepted it even though I was a bit skeptical.

Full disclosure: Mr. Marais provided me with a digital copy of this book. Outside of the free copy of the book, I am not being compensated to write this review. If you happen to use one of the links in this review to pick up a copy of the book, then I will receive a modest kickback as I am using affiliate links.

Prior to reading Marias’ book, I did the best I could to mentally prepare myself to read the book with an open mind. Even so, I would not be telling the truth if I said I started reading this book without any skepticism whatsoever. However, my skepticism was subdued before finishing the first chapter as the author compared the shotgun to the other types of firearms available for home defense and pointed out each platform provides a set of advantages and disadvantages compared to the others. He also immediately disclosed that a bit of homework has to be done before one can successfully employ a shotgun for home defense and clearly pointed out the importance of ammunition choice, drawback of the recoil factor, and capacity limitations may make the shotgun less than an ideal tool. He also stated, and I agree with him, that it certainly can be an effective tool if used wisely.

The second chapter converted me from a neutral reader to an eager reader in about seven pages by covering the myths and misconceptions commonly parroted by the hordes of folks who claim the shotgun to be the ultimate home defense tool and clearly possess limited knowledge on the subject of home defense. If I had a dollar every time I heard one of those myths when discussing the home defense topic, then I would be happily retired.

The next several chapters cover the shotgun and ammunition types in both breadth and depth. After consuming those chapters, a reader can expect to have sound academic knowledge of the different shotgun types, their anatomy, their operation, along with the anatomy and application of different ammunition types. It’s difficult to understate how much information is contained in these chapters. In terms of operation, the book provides sound discussion on how to apply shooting fundamentals to a shotgun and also places an emphasis on both dry and live fire training and practice.

Several techniques for essential skills are presented in the book as well. How to deal with malfunctions. How and when to reload. How to properly aim with the shotgun. Different methods of deploying the shotgun from various shooting positions. Again, Marais consistently delivers a vast amount of information and appropriately places the burden on the reader to develop those skills.

The later chapters focus on self defense mindset and tactics for home defense. There is a lot covered in those chapters that serve as a good starting point for folks to build a foundational academic understanding of those topics. These include, but are not limited to, situation awareness, the OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop, and use of concealment and cover.

While a reader might feel like they are drinking from a fire hose when reading this book, the book is pleasant to read. It’s well organized and that makes locating topics to reread or review easy enough.

Over the past year, a lot of folks who never previously owned or even shot a gun have decided to purchase one (or more) for defensive purposes due to the growing concerns of civil unrest. Without a doubt, shotguns were purchased for this purpose. I am certain folks who are in this boat and have not had a chance and have not had the opportunity to receive professional training would benefit the most from purchasing and reading this book. It’s a very inexpensive, yet extremely valuable, resource that will immediately yield benefit by helping folks become aware of what they don’t know, erroneously assumed, or were improperly informed.

Honestly, I think this book is perfect for anyone who currently uses or is considering using a shotgun for home defense purposes regardless of experience level. While folks experienced with shotguns may find a fair amount of content to be a good review, I believe they will find valuable nuggets of information to consider and take their skills to the next level. Shotgun novices on the other hand will be well equipped to begin their defensive skill development journey in the right direction without being misled by myths and bad information. Even folks who have other defensive weapons at their disposal and haven’t considered leveling up defensive shotgun skills can benefit from reading this book.

Folks wanting to learn more about Charles Marais and his work are encouraged to check out his author profile on Goodreads. Charles is also involved with the Dynamic Ballistics Facebook page.


  1. I love this book and this is a solid review.

    I also found it to be packed with knowledge on ammo.

    I personally loved the section on it’s use as an impact weapon, as well as retention. We don’t train enough in those skills in America.

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