The Best 12-Gauge Shotguns Under $600, All Stress-Tested by TTAG

One thing we get from readers time and again is the request for more budget-friendly gun reviews and recommendations. Your wish is TTAG’s command. Here are the best 12ga shotguns we’ve reviewed, all available for around 600 samolians or less.

Stoeger P3000: $299 via Brownells

BLUF: This shotgun is a great bargain. Its light weight, portability, and reliability are strong suits. Ergos aren’t bad; it’s comfortable to shoot albeit a little front-heavy. It is not drilled and tapped in case you were considering mounting an optic. Full review here.

H&R Pardner Pump: $200 via Cabela’s

BLUF: Manufactured in China to maximize affordability, this utilitarian 870 clone is just shotgun you may want for the things (or people) that go bump in the night. If that’s what you’re looking for and you don’t want to spend much, this could be the perfect fit. Full review here.

Mossberg FLEX 500: $420-$550 via Brownells

BLUF: The FLEX is a highly modular, versatile shotgun that’s earned its tremendous popularity, so much so that we prefer it to the basic Mossberg 500. It’s hard to take issue with this gun, and we really only have good things to say about it. Full review here.

Mossberg 590 Pump Action Shotgun: $419 via Cabela’s


BLUF: A classic, affordable, versatile, low-maintenance, ultra-reliable home defense weapon ready for ambidextrous use. Feed it buckshot, slugs, or birdshot without a worry. Full review here.

Benelli SuperNova: $500-$600 via Cabela’s

BLUF: Weighing in at eight pounds for the 28″ model, the SuperNova isn’t as light as some other shotguns, but the weight goes a long way toward recoil management in this pump action scattergun. The famously reliable SuperNova may be more comfortable for those with larger hands. Full review here.

Weatherby PA-08 Upland: $370 via Brownells (currently on sale for $330)

BLUF: Though maybe less well known, Weatherby more than keeps pace with Winchester, Mossberg and the rest. This attractive, affordable pump gun is outstandingly accurate, with an element of style thrown in to boot. Full review here.

comments

  1. avatar RocketScientist says:

    Am I the only one out of the loop here? Did I miss in the text where they explained it? WTF does “BLUF” mean??

    1. avatar Porcus says:

      Bottom line up front. I’ve only seen it used in the military.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Career military here, never heard of BLUF, never heard of bottom line up front.

        1. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

          It’s something the Army did for awhile 07-13 ish. It’s not as used as it was because army writing got more concise. Ie why say BLUF (bottom line up front) when you can just say what you mean.

        2. avatar PATRON49IFT says:

          Kind of like “net, net” or cut to the chase?

        3. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

          “Career military here, never heard of BLUF,…”

          I’ve heard of ‘BUFF’…

        4. avatar New Continental Army says:

          I did my time in the army as well. Never heard of BLUF or BUFF but I did hear of DUFF. Designated Ugly Fat Fuck.

    2. avatar Jordan says:

      Bottom Licker at University of Florida

  2. avatar Skinnedknuckles says:

    From Wikipedia: (I had to look it up, too.)
    A BLUF is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text, rather than the end, in order to facilitate rapid decision making. This differs from an older, more-traditional style in which conclusions and recommendations are included at the end, following the arguments and considerations of facts. The concept is not exclusive to writing; it can also refer to conversations and interviews.

    TTAG is going high brow!

    1. avatar RocketScientist says:

      So its like TL;DR for grandpas?

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        teal…deer? When is the season for those again?

        1. avatar Felix says:

          Too Long; Didn’t Read.

          Executive summary.

          Bottom line.

          Synopsis.

          Cliff’s Notes.

          Cheat sheet.

  3. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Ok, I’ll start the whataboutthisun part of the comments….why not , it’s Friday!

    https://www.tristararms.com/products/home-defense/raptor-atac/

    1. avatar Cz Rider says:

      I’d put the Mossberg 930 on that list. Not too heavy, easy to modify, takes everything from target loads to 3″ slugs and throws it downrange as fast as you can stand to fire it. The gas system takes a decent bite out of the recoil, too. Just don’t put too much lube on the piston area or it’ll start gumming up sometimes.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        They fit the price range. Mid 400s if I remember correct.

      2. avatar PATRON49IFT says:

        Big fan of the Mossberg 930. Does everything it should when it should. Extension tube makes for more fun.

  4. avatar Jim L says:

    I’m seeing a slow erosion of quality on this website. Maybe my tastes have changed. But more likely, it’s just TTAG has changed. I don’t think it’s this “article” in particular that will keep me from coming back. Rather it’s all the latest articles that have lost my interest.

    1. avatar J.T. says:

      It’s not you, TTAG has changed. It has been inundated with stuff like this with only “staff-writer” listed as the author (many of which have affiliate links that generate income for TTAG). Dan and Kat seem to be the only ones giving us actual content lately apart from something here or there from one of the writers that only does something every few weeks. There has been nothing from Nick since early August, Jeremy went from a few articles a week to three in the last two months, JWT went from several a week to one this month, and John Boch and Dean both haven’t posted since last week for some reason.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Farago saw the writing on the wall and sold out after Trump got the white house. New management.

      2. avatar Rimfire says:

        JT, I concur with your thoughts here. It’s sad to see something good fall by the wayside. TTAG was always my go-to site for great gun talk. I was hoping the transition would be seamless, but things changed after Robert’s departure.

      3. avatar jwtaylor says:

        Just an update on me, I write at least 4 articles a month. Usually more. This month, I happen to have assignments that take a lot of shooting. I’ve got another small medium large model comparison, 3 Iron Sights to compare, and an application that is just acting wonky.
        Those all just take a lot more shooting than my normal 500 rounds per gun. You’ll see all of those out this month, starting next week.
        After that, it’s two break open shotgun reviews with the history of the coach gun included, and three different bolt action hunting rifle reviews. Then a 9mm to 38 Super 1911 conversion, and an 1858 Remington tune up.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Coach guns is cool.

        2. avatar Just Sayin says:

          Thank you, Baby Jesus.
          I personally am frustrated by the slow down in actual gun reviews that brought me here in the first place.
          Love your work JWT. Always feels like Christmas morning when I see another review by you pop up.
          Miss the articles by Nick and Jeremy.
          Wishing them the best…

      4. avatar New Continental Army says:

        It has gone downhill. Having read this site for years, I used to learn things here. Now it’s blatant opinion, clickbait, and advertising. Occasional good stories in the mix. I still come around really only because the comments section here is really entertaining. If they move to Disqus or some other platform then it’s deuces.

  5. avatar Felixd says:

    So, what makes these “best”? What are the standards? If I use two pieces of galvanized pipe and an end cap does it quality?

  6. avatar D says:

    I love the Mossberg receiver mounted safety. Much easier to reach and more intuitive than the trigger guard design. However, putting a pistol grip on a Mossberg negates all of its advantages since you cant reach the safety when your hand is on the pistol grip.

  7. avatar 870? says:

    No love for the 870?
    I’ve heard Remington’s quality control has suffered in recent years. It must be in the sludgy depths of a Syrian sewer to preclude the 870.

    Full disclosure: I sold my 870 for the sweet shooting Winchester SX3. Many ducks have fallen to its svelte cycling.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      They thru in a fing chicom pirated 870. NO

  8. avatar Nanashi says:

    500? You can get a Mossberg 900 for that. Could even get a decent red dot if you’re not counting transfer fee.

  9. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Honestly, there are SO MANY shotguns available under $600, I wouldn’t know where to start. And the used racks at gun shops have plenty of good ones for quite a bit less. If you stick with recognizable brands, you’ll find repair parts easier to find and aftermarket add-ons more plentiful.

    Any of them should go bang. The good ones will go bang after 10,000 rounds.

    A few weeks ago there was an article here on shotgun fit. This is WAY more important than the brand.
    https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2018/09/daniel-zimmerman/how-to-make-sure-your-shotgun-really-fits-you/

  10. avatar anonymoose says:

    Supernova a besto. <3

  11. avatar Rimfire says:

    Again, no mention of the fine Winchester SXP, (Super X Pump) which is not unusual for this site lately. It is a quality, fast shooting shotgun that should have been included. Disappointed? Yes!

  12. avatar former water walker says:

    I’d include my lowly Maverick88 20″ on this list. Massive firepower cheap…and if it breaks just buy another one!

    1. avatar Tom Worthington says:

      Absolutely. For $600 you can easily buy THREE Maverick 88s and none of them will give you an instant of trouble. Or maybe just buy two Mavericks and enough premium ammo to last you several years.

    2. avatar mjn says:

      +1
      local Walmart has them for 189 right now for a 12 or 20 with a long barrel, pick up an 18.5in for $80 and you have just about everything you will ever need in a shotgun

  13. avatar Destro says:

    I picked up a hawk Norinco 982 12 gauge with ghost ring sights for 185 dollars. It is based on the Remington 870 and made in the same Factory is the HR pardner pump. The thing is built solid and takes 870 accessories with minor fitting it even uses the barrels if you use an adapter. Overall I’m pretty impressed with the quality my only complaint is that it’s made in China. It’s really sad the Chinese make it better 870 then the actual company does in the United States. Overall I prefer the ergonomics and the takedown of the Mossberg 590 but the thing is I built a solid shotgun for a lot less than I would have if I bought the 590 A1 with Magpul furniture and sights. I guess one of the only downside is that when the Norinco is heavier but this also means there is less recoil. The older ones actually have the steel or metal trigger guard. My newer one was sadly polymer.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      Cut the BS “Made in China” firearms = Chicom PLA arms industry.

      JUST NO . The Chicoms are the existential enemy of the US.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        China is a global competitor and *potential* enemy.

        The existential enemy of the US is actually the US itself — specifically the warmongering, economy-looting globalist elites, our monstrous central gov’t bureaucracy, and all the progressive Marxist useful idiots. China doesn’t need to destroy the US; this country is deep-sixing itself.

        1. avatar Destro says:

          Best throw away your smart phones, tvs, computers, electronics and other devices if China is so terrifying my friends.

          I hate to say it but we are reliant on each other. It’s nice having budget options for poor folks to defend their homes and loved ones. Also the competition/Rivalry forces us to innovate.

          Norinco/HR shotguns and Holosun/Primary Arms/Vortex optics are an amazing value for the money.

  14. avatar el Possum Guapo Herr Standartenfuher they think we're making pizza's" Oberst von Burn says:

    Well I’ve been wanting to get another 12 gauge, now my interest is in that Norinco or Mossberg, maybe the Winchester. I’ve had good luck with Norinco. , the Model Of The1911A1 is my baby, I wouldn’t trade her for a Colt Gold Cup. Then I’ve got that 54-1 and that poor things been through hell, under truck seats, banged around in a tackle box, even been confiscated by the cops” twice” and it still keeps on shooting. Yup I’m getting the Norc shotgun

  15. avatar Anonymous says:

    No maverick 88? It’s like the cheapest shotgun ever. At least review it and show us how bad it did.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Mine don’t do bad at all. 7+1. 20 inch tube and if it has to go for evidence I’m not out much.

    2. avatar el Possum Guapo Herr Standartenfuher "they think we're making pizza's" Oberst von Burn says:

      I’m worse then a woman .lol Now I’m thinking Maverick

    3. avatar skoon says:

      Mav88 is the best. Compatible with most 500 accessories reliable inexpensive not remington. Does rattle a little.

  16. avatar X Bow T says:

    For prices you dont shop at Cabelas/Bassturd Pro.
    That’s what struck me as advertisement.
    Brownell’s has deals, if a coupon code works… ie. SIG, Go to slickguns, now called….gun deals.com.

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