Shotgun or sidearm?

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Shotgun or sidearm? This 1976 Sid Davis police training film for the Pasadena Police Department should help you decide:

Watch the first couple minutes, with the shootout and its immediate aftermath. How far away did the robber appear to be? And what kind of spread should you expect from buckshot at that range? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that pellets should not be hitting six feet off line at a couple dozen yards.

I was pretty surprised when they set up the scenario at the target range at “the same distance, about 50 yards.” OK, at that distance you should expect a fair amount of spread, but more like a four-foot diameter — which is still plenty dangerous on a crowded sidewalk.

The attitude toward revolvers is, well, it’s quite optimistic: “Most cops get a fair amount of practice with their sidearms, but they don’t fire a shotgun very often.” I especially liked this comment: “With his thirty-eight, Don would have hit only the suspect. One shot.” Yeah, a cop shooting a double-action revolver at 50 yards, while getting shot at, is going to hit the suspect with one shot?

Enjoy the whole thing.


  1. Kirk says:

    Wow… Talk about a blast from the past.

    I’m a little iffy on the ballistics, there, myself–I get the impression that the people behind the film were selling something, or had an axe to grind. At those ranges, it’s been my experience that the shotgun pellets are usually in a much tighter pattern than they demonstrate, but who’s to say what improvements have been made in wadding and choke bores on riot guns? I know my Benelli M1 didn’t do that sort of thing–At the ranges shown, my patterns have been more like man-size, not minute-of-sidewalk.

    It’s interesting, too–The two cops with the “resisting” suspect at about the 8:00 mark? LOL… I watched a pair of sheriff’s deputies back then deal with a similar situation. The two “resisters” weren’t shot, but they sure as hell learned the effects of a shotgun buttplate to the body and head. One deputy, one shotgun, two “resisting arrest” types=broken arm, many broken ribs, and I believe a couple of skull fractures. It was kind of hard to tell–too much blood coming from the dudes head, which had about a six-inch skin avulsion hanging over his eyes. The second deputy just hung back and watched the fun, didn’t even draw his pistol. After it was all over, and the two idiots were on the ground, the older, non-involved deputy walked up, gently toed one of them, and said something to the effect of “Told ya what to do, you didn’t listen to me… Carl here used to be the pugil stick champeen in the ‘Corps…”.

    Ah, the 1970s, when men were men, and police brutality in rural areas of the Northwest was merely something people talked about being a problem if the cops beat someone to death…

  2. ASM826 says:

    Shotgun ammo has changed markedly. Federal Flitecontrol has doubled the effective range of buckshot. Here’s the article with target comparison pictures from BoxO’Truth.

  3. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    “the older, non-involved deputy walked up, gently toed one of them, and said something to the effect of “Told ya what to do, you didn’t listen to me… Carl here used to be the pugil stick champeen in the ‘Corps…”

    1776: The Founding Fathers start a bloody revolution to throw off the brutality of British oppression.

    1976: The degenerate heirs of the USA sink into brutality to rival that of the British, and Kirk cheers.

    The USA was founded on the idea of natural rights inherent to the individual. Police brutality is contrary to human rights. Celebration of police brutality is un-American.

  4. Kirk says:


    And, you’re a dumbass. Knowing nothing of the situation I describe, you project your moronic belief system and preconceptions into it.

    Point of fact–The idiot I watched had had a knife, and was using it on his girlfriend when the cops showed up to intercede. Personally, I’d have shot him and saved the public fisc the money to prosecute and incarcerate him. The cops you mocked could, and probably would today, have shot him and been well within their purview. As it was, he survived that encounter with reality, and went on to God knows what. Hopefully, he learned from it, but I doubt that he did. “Frontier” justice often ain’t pretty.

    Far from being an example of “rights” erosion, that was actually a fairly positive outcome. Similar situation just this past year resulted in a dead man outside a Safeway, rather than the cops controlling the situation physically. But, that’s what you folks want, right? No police “brutality”? And, helpless little chickie cops that have no other option than to kill?

  5. Adar says:

    The rule of thumb is that the shot pattern will be as wide in inches as you are yards away from the target. 12 yards away and the shot pattern should be about a foot wide.

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