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Reader Sam Bocetta writes:

The shotgun is the original home and self defense firearm and they are still, arguably, the best weapon to choose to defend your home and yourself against intruders. The reason is simple – with a longer barrel and more contact with the gun, you’re always going to be more accurate with a shotgun than with a handgun.

That’s not to say, however, that you can’t miss with a shotgun. Accuracy is as important a consideration when choosing a shotgun as any other weapon. Though some people still claim that “my shotgun can cover that whole wall,” in reality, with most modern smoothbores, the spread is pretty tight especially at personal defense distances. That’s actually a feature, however, because if you can hit someone from across a room (and you really should be able to) you’re delivering multiple rounds directly on your target.

Which gauge to go for in a self defense shotgun? While some prize lighter weight of smaller caliber for its reduced recoil, to my mind you should go for at least a 20-gauge, and preferably a 12. And, of course, with a large gauge shotgun you can adapt the shot mix to suit your purpose, and even using your gun for hunting when it’s not protecting your home.

The last consideration is whether to get a pump-action or semi-auto shotgun. My advice is straightforward – keep it simple and get a pump. For a start, you’re likely to already have experience in using a pump action, and the last thing you want in a self-defense situation is to be learning new skills on the fly. Secondly, the physical effort required to move the mechanism in a pump-action is normally enough to clear any jams that may happen due to irregular ammo or improper cleaning, making pump-action shotguns one of the most reliable weapons around.

There is plenty of advice out there for choosing a good self-defense shotgun, so have a good look around before you settle on the shotgun that is perfect for you. However, you could do a lot worse than checking out these options first:

Mossberg 500
The Mossberg 500 was the first issued to Marines, and many found that it was one of the deadliest close-combat weapons they had ever used. When this weapon was released it set a new standard for pump-action shotguns, and retains a good reputation for reliability and ease of use.

The Mossy 500 is a robust, simple weapon, used throughout the country by law enforcement and the military, and unlikely to be replaced any time soon. There’s one in every price category and more recent versions come with Mossberg’s FLEX system, which allows you to customize the gun quickly and easily, and makes what was already a great firearm shine.
Benelli M1014/M4 Super 90 
Though an imported gun and therefore limited to 5+1 rounds, the M4 is one of the most reliable available. Like the Mossberg, it has also seen extensive military use, and the results are very impressive. It’s said that during this testing 25,000 rounds were put through one of these before anything had to be replaced.

While I recommend that most people go for a pump-action shotgun for self-defense, if you prefer an auto-loader, the M4 is the way to go. Unlike a lot of semi-auto shotguns, Benelli’s gas system is simple and reliable, making it almost as reliable as a pump.

The only disadvantage here: the cost. But if you can scrape up the cash for an M4, you’re getting a top quality shotgun that will give you many years of reliable service.

Winchester 1897 and IAC 97T
The Winchester 1897 was the original close-combat shotgun, issued to soldiers during WWI. It was so effective that the Germans tried to get it declared illegal for use in war. Though an amazing gun, the Winchester is now quite rare, so it’s great that IAC has released their 97T model, a faithful reproduction.

Though this weapon takes a bit of getting used to, it’s great fun to fire, and after a few days on the range will feel as natural as any other shotgun. For the price, this is a solid gun for self-defense that will not let you down.

There’s one other shotgun you should definitely consider:

The Shotgun You Already Have
Ultimately, a shiny new gun is no better than the person using it, so before you invest a few hundred dollars in a new weapon, consider whether the one you have really needs to be replaced. You’re likely already really good at shooting it, which in the end counts for far more than all the “advanced features” of a more modern weapon.

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  1. ithaca. all three.

    “…and the last thing you want in a self-defense situation is to be learning new skills on the fly.”

    like pulling the trigger in rapid succession?

    • I don’t even have a local range that will allow me to use a shotgun for anything but shooting clays, let alone “rapid fire.”

      • No doubt! This is why I now use an AR15 for my home defense weapon. Far easier to train with it, plus I like the capacity, modularity, and better ammo selection.

        • An AR is a good choice for someone living out a bit. Most of us are urban dwellers. IMHO the shotgun works better when surrounded by dense populations.

          We will be held to account for every round fired.

        • The FBI’s official position on pistol vs shotgun vs rifle over-penetration is that 5.56 rifles are less dangerous than pistols or shotguns after penetrating walls.

        • At what distances, Mark? A 5.56 round that heads out a window is going to travel farther and hit harder than a buckshot pellet.

          I don’t give much faith or credit to fbi stats and studies.

        • “The FBI’s official position on pistol vs shotgun vs rifle over-penetration is that 5.56 rifles are less dangerous than pistols or shotguns after penetrating walls.”

          Do you have a citation for this? I was having this discussion at lunch yesterday.

          By the way, I was at Gander Mountain yesterday, and I saw at least one gun at a better price than my go to “is this a good price” source.

      • This is a problem many people have.

        20 gauge would be fine, but 99% of shotgun ammo seems to be for 12 gauge.

    • An old Model 37 Featherlight all the way. Well built, reliable, bottom ejecting & slam fire’s a nice surprise for anyone unlucky enough to be on the receiving end.

      • Yep. A 37 is a reliable, non-handed (ie, neither left or right handed) gun. Very reliable and well built, even today.

  2. That Winchester replica is an overpriced, Chinese made piece of junk.
    Mossberg over an 870, seriously? 😀

    • Yes. In the last 5+ years I’ve known people who bought new 870’s and could not get them to work. I’ve never known a person that got a new Mossberg that it didn’t work..

      • My experience is limited to a 10 year old M500 and a three year old 870. The M500 has never been shot (it’s an 18″ version) and has scratches from snap caps, while the 870 cycles smoother and seems to have a better finish. This doesn’t mean anything, but I thought I’d just put it out there.

      • If someone cannot get an 870 to work, please let me know what days they go to the range so I can stay home.

        • Brand new, out of the box guns that were defective from purchase. Freedom Arms/Remington. What remote jungle hideaway you been in to have missed this news.

        • Steve-

          I bought one two years ago. Wouldn’t extract the shell after it was fired. Did that across a whole gamut of ammunition types. Garbage.

      • You can add another one to the list. 2009 Remington 870 Express, failure to extract ANY shell; even after 3 trips back to Remington.

    • depends when the 870 wasade. Remington’s quality control nose-dived after that company bought them out. I hear they’re working hard to fix that. My 870 was manufactured in the early 90’s. Not one hiccup yet, I bought it in 1997 and it’s never given me a problem. It just doesn’t really like those Aguila baby shells. Mossberg 509 or 590 is also an excellent pump

      • Opsol makes an adapter for the 500 series, but it won’t work on the 570s.
        I’ve used the Aauilas in my 500/590A1 without an adapter (one’s on my wish list), and I’ve found that if I am slower and direct in operating the slide, they work just fine. I have no experience with them in a 570.
        The Herters Mini-buckshot shells work just fine with my 500/590A1 guns, even cycling them fast. Six of them fit in my 18.5″ 590A1’s magazine.

    • I have an old 870 that i love. But i wont support anything owned by freedom group when i can get as good or better for the same price from stand up compies. Ex mossy 590 vs remm 870 or henry vs marlin or annyone vs aac.

  3. The last paragraph nailed it. For me, that’s a KSG. You choose a 500, 870, shoot a Beretta Silverwing for all I care, just pattern it and practice.

    • + for Bullpup

      Have you tried a UTES UTAS 15?

      You can replace the tactical breacher/choke with an extended barrel section.

  4. I have a dedicated house gun. A Maverick 88. I also have a Mossberg 500 that can wear a short or long barrel. It came with both. I use it to hunt with and then as a house gun. 2 story house.

    That Benelli is a great gun. But the one in the picture is set up as a house gun. If you wanted to use it for hunting or sporting clays or whatever else, could you? Or would you have to purchase another gun for those uses? It’s a fourteen+ hundred dollar gun. A mossberg is a 300 dollar gun. A lot of versatility for a little money.

    God forbid you have to use your house gun the cops are taking it. And while I’ve seen the statement around here that goes something like”An expensive gun is a cheap price to pay for your life” the gun is just the start of your expenses after a shoot.

    The thousand dollars I saved by not buying the Benelli is seed money for lawyers and other costs associated with shooting a person.

    Now in a long term survival situation I have 2 youth model 20 bores, bought cause I have small people in my circle, that I would carry. They are light and the ammo is lighter than a 12 bore. And they will fill the pot just fine.

  5. Got a Maverick88 too. 7(or 8)+1of 12gauge goodness. I need to shoot it more. Only one range nearby where I can shoot it. And it ain’t fun like a handgun…

    • I currently keep a mav 88 as my truck gun. The range I practice at will allow shotguns with birdshot on the pistol range. It’s a lot of fun knocking steel plates down with a birdshot

  6. Long, unwieldy, heavy recoil, slow to reload.

    Unless your home is invaded by dove, a shotgun is absolutely not your best choice for home defense.

    The only way a shotgun is best is if you don’t have a good carbine or pistol. Most police have long since transitioned to carbines.

    I wish we could get past this traditional piece of conventional wisdom.

    I notice you didn’t mention AK pattern shotguns. Those, at least, have modern tactical features.

    • Police had no choice in the carbine bit. Half or more of their officers aren’t able to handle real guns like a shotgun.

        • Yes. Yes I would. I don’t live on a farm any longer and CA has all sorts of silly rules about mags and bullet buttons, etc.

          If I lived in the country I would keep a shotgun and a rifle handy. Probably not an AR. Likely a .30-30.

        • So making decisions (and advising others) based on the wacko dictates from a dysfunctional government body? My cousin’s housekeepers neighbors broker says to buy………….

          I’ll accept that today Mossberg is the 1st choice in new purchase of a pump shotgun.

    • Long, unwieldy; maybe, unless you learn to move with the barrel down. Then, they are good to go.
      Slow to reload? Yes, once they are empty. Just how bad is your aim?
      Unless your home is invaded by dove; well, using 00 or #4 buckshot, I’m pretty sure it would need to be an extremely large dove to come off first best, as opposed to second best.
      Conventional wisdom is often that way because it’s pretty good wisdom. At close ranges, the shotgun is an argument stopper *par excellence*. As good as a carbine? The shotgun will do it in one round, the carbine’s oft-cited benefits include 30 round magazines. Just how many people do you think are coming into your house?
      So far, the reviews of AK pattern shotguns show they are very picky about their diet. Of course, you should pick what it likes and stick to that to solve that problem.
      I own and use three different 7.62×39 carbines, and I’ll still stick to the shotgun for home defense.

      • You pretty well covered it Bill. I think many people don’t really understand just how much damage a defensive shotgun load does at close range. It’s not like a pistol, or a carbine. Across the room it’s less like any gunshot wound, and more like… It’s difficult to describe and remain in good taste, but it can decapitate or amputate quite readily, and may partially eviscerate as well. Pistols generally don’t physically incapacitate with a single hit, that is, you should not expect your assailant to stop after being one shot with a pistol. Carbines are better than pistols in this way, but still do not typically inflict instantaneous incapacitation with a single shot. 12 gauge 00 Buckshot loads from cylinder bore guns will annihilate and displace all types of tissue, organ and bone in about a 3 to 5 inch radius for more than a foot and a half at ranges from zero to 3 yards. Calling the effect devastating understates the wounds it produces, and fails to encompass how dramatic the result is. A chainsaw cannot inflict the damage per second that a 12 gauge with the right ammo can at contact distances.

        Shotguns suffer generally from excessive recoil and low capacity resulting in slow followup shots and a low over all rate of fire. Additionally they are greatly limited in range, and have very heavy ammunition. However their advantages are many and they are extremely versatile. The variety, specificity and novelty of ammunition available for the shotgun is mind boggling. Properly loaded and within it’s range the shotgun is the queen of the battlespace , and the very last word in close range lethality.

        Given that home defense typically occurs at very close distances with relatively few combatants, it’s difficult to image an argument against the shotgun for anyone able to employ it, unless perhaps to make home defense less lethal and more sporting, because pistols and carbines are less lethal weapons compared to a 12 gauge at in the living room distances.

        • “Shotguns suffer generally from excessive recoil and low capacity resulting in slow followup shots and a low over all rate of fire. Additionally they are greatly limited in range, and have very heavy ammunition.”

          You’re right here, and it should be noted that the shotgun isn’t perfect.
          But then, what is?
          Each person must make their own choices. Especially when it comes to what you might use for self defense. Anything is better than tooth and claw (nails).
          If you (the generic “you”) find a 12 ga to be too much, try a 20. Lighter, less recoil, almost as devastating.
          Reloading is slow compared to dropping a mag and putting in another. IMO, the need to reload (my 500 carries 7 rounds in the mag tube) is probably not a factor. If perps are shooting back, and there are that many of them, I’m probably dead anyway. But such scenarios are very rare. From what I’ve read of reports of break ins, three is the max, and that’s rare itself. One or two is much more common, and even then, they (break-ins) are rare.
          For myself, I seriously doubt that the sound of a pump gun being racked will make a hardened felon fall to the floor in a puddle of his own urine. But, I’ve been told t hat a .22 barrel pointed at you looks like a .45,and a .357 looks like a .500 Mag. From my own experience of pointing a .44 Mag at a trespassing perp, he told the police that it looked a lot bigger than it was. (I don’t have the .44 anymore; my arthritis didn’t like it)
          I can only imagine what a shotgun barrel looks like when it’s aimed at you. I like to think it makes a wandering soul who wandered into the wrong house think what his mama will say to him when he has to have a closed casket funeral.
          Yeah, I went there.

    • Ever see pics of an actual chest wound at living-room distances from 1 1/8 oz, #7.5 birdshot out of a shotgun?

      I have. It didn’t look like human tissue any more. It looked more like tight puddle of human tissue that had been through a blender.

      The EMT’s/Medics who worked on the intruder on the way into the ER knew it was pretty futile. The ER doc took a look at the wound, heard out the paramedic, and then pronounced. It changed a bunch of our minds about shotguns and birdshot at close ranges.

      • There are 2 kinds of people when it comes to shotguns and stopping power: Those who argue about it, and those who have seen what it does. At across the room distances, as you noted DG, the wounds look more like an industrial accident than a GSW, are generally instantaneously incapacitating , and rarely survivable.

        When the threats are few and near, there is just nothing that compares to big bore shotguns.

        Speaking of bird shot, I’m sure you’ve seen cut shot DG?

        Cheap, easy, readily available and inarguably effective, and allows the damage caused at across the room ranges to reach out a bit further.

        • It’s common knowledge that point men in Vietnam would often pick a 12 gauge and they were offered anything they wanted. They were also incredibly effective in the trenches of WW1. Anyone that has shot a coyote or a deer with buckshot will attest to there ability to drop varmints or game instantly. I have seen a lot more coyotes running away after taking a .223 than any shotgun. Part of it might be the distances involved but seriously #2 on a coyote turns them inside out.

        • Oh, yes, I’ve seen cut-shot shells. I don’t discuss them, because I’m sure that some whippersnapper will find a way to screw up the concept and hurt himself, and so I don’t want the liability of the issue. But sure, they used to be a real easy way to make a shotgun more hideously effective at slightly extended ranges.

          I will NB, however, that when talking of cutshells, that both shotguns and shotshells have changed substantially in the last 50 years. Years ago, shotshells were loaded with a felt wad behind the shot, and then a “gas card” on top of the powder, or the wad would be made of waxed cork. These earlier wads would often be over-sized for the bore by a bit, but then to create even tighter seals, shotgun bores used to have an abrupt “forcing cone” a small distance in front of the chamber.

          The old forcing cones would be just forward of the fully opened length of a shotshell for the chamber length; eg, measure a 2.75″ shotshell with the crimped end opened up and splayed in the full-forward position – then add, oh, about 1/4″ – and that would be the distance from the bolt face to the forcing cone in many guns. The forcing cone might be only 3/8ths of an inch long. This abrupt constriction was put there to cause the felt wad and/or gas card to get snugged up against the barrel walls very quickly and give a better gas seal as the wad/card pushed down the bore.

          When you look down an older shotgun bore from the breech with a flashlight, you can see the forcing cone. Many people think they’re looking at the front edge of the chamber when they see the cone – but the cone is forward of the chamber, as I said above. You can see how abrupt the cone is, however. If you probe the area with a bit of copper wire, you can appreciate how much constriction and how abrupt the angle is.

          Today’s shotshells no longer need such an abrupt forcing cone angle, because the skirt on the plastic combined wad/shotcup expands a bit and keeps the propellant from blowing past the wad/shotcup so easily now. A modern forcing cone might be 1.5 to 2″ long, and present a very gradual angle. If you examine a truly modern shotgun that assumes the use of only modern shells (eg, Caesar Guerini), you see “back bored” bores (ie, in a 12ga, you see bore diameters of 0.733 to 0.735 or so, vs. the classic 0.724 to 0.729″) and longer, gradual forcing cones. The result is faster velocities of the shot out of the muzzle and less shot pellet deformation, which leads to tighter patterns.

          The net:net of all this is – “cut shells” used to be more effective in the old days because of how shotgun bores and shells were made. Making a “cut shell” out of a modern round, in a modern gun with a long forcing cone – I don’t know how much of the original effect one would get.

          Anyway, cut shells were a better idea back in the days of paper shells and felt wads. I suppose they’d still work today, but with a different concept of where to make the cut.

          As for lots of people’s theories about wound ballistics: Yea, becoming a EMT has changed my mind about lots of pet theories – including wound ballistics, what actually happens during auto accidents (as opposed to all those sanitary auto insurance industry airbag test videos), what happens in animal/car collisions (if you live, you end up buying a bigger car, pronto), the limitless stupidity of people in darwinian situations, how to pay for healthcare, why the healthcare system in this country is in trouble, etc.

          Our PHTLS training had a few words about wound ballistics – “in practice” as opposed to theory. Many bullets leave much nicer wounds a first responder can pack to slow down blood loss. A shotgun wound made with close-range birdshot? I think you could more successfully pack a wound made with a 1″ spade drill bit, and a surgeon is going to make an even bigger mess trying to get much of that shot out of the tissue. None of this means that the wound might stop someone immediately, but most close-range shotgun wounds to the trunk are “injuries incompatible with life.”

        • ” I think you could more successfully pack a wound made with a 1″ spade drill bit, and a surgeon is going to make an even bigger mess trying to get much of that shot out of the tissue.
          I can tell you this: when I broke my hip, I actually broke the neck of the femur. Actually, I managed to shatter it, into eight little shards, that went into the surrounding tissue, including the tendons in that area. The surgeon had to dig them out.
          I still walk with a limp, because that damage will never properly heal.
          Trying to correct the damage from something like a shotgun, even firing birdshot, will require a lot of damage just in finding and removing the little pieces of lead than many people realize.

  7. Is it really true that shotguns were the first defensive firearms?

    If you want to keep it simple, don’t get a pump. The mechanism is simple, but it’s not simple to shoot as an auto-loader.

    Personally, semi-auto is the only option when it comes to defensive shooting. YMMV.

  8. Which gauge to go for in a self defense shotgun? … to my mind you should go for at least a 20-gauge, and preferably a 12.

    If you are willing to use slugs, a 20 gauge shotgun is quite literally overkill for self-defense at ranges inside the average home. I cannot picture any human absorbing a 273 grain, .61 caliber slug hitting him/her at 1,500 fps (that is over 1,300 foot-pounds of energy) without immediately succumbing to their wound (assuming a center torso shot). If such a load is so incredibly effective, why increase recoil and muzzle blast — and reduce your speed for follow-up shots — with a 12 gauge shotgun?

    Now if you are interested in shooting #00 or #000 buckshot, then a 12 gauge shotgun probably makes more sense. Personally, I am quite content with the “knockdown” ability of a .61 caliber, 273 grain slug.

  9. Bennelli M1 Super 90. I see know reason to upgrade.

    Also have a Mossberg 500. For the price a good secondary weapon.

    1 oz slugs and military spec 00 buck.

  10. I keep a Stevens 320 with a mixed load of shot shells. 1 bird shot, 3 buck shot, 1 slug in the gun. I have the same on the side of the gun for reload.

  11. Love my Mossy 20G, and have used it for a lot of years. It will not likely be my first “go to” self defense weapon, even for a home invasion. Unless I’m in bed, or working downstairs, with that shotgun on the rack at the side of the room, I won’t likely have access to it fast enough. I can’t carry it around with me, obviously.

    Just spent a few hours out in the horse pasture getting ready for the horses to come in for the summer… checking for snakes and noxious weeds. No way to carry any sort of long gun with the shovel in my hands (too hot to carry it slung on my back). But the Ruger .357 on my belt would do in the event there was a serious problem. Or at the kitchen sink, in the laundry room, etc.

    Maybe you guys can stand around with your rifles and shotguns… but others have work to do! 🙂

  12. I noticed allot of posters posting their range wont allow this or that with their weapons, this is why the Second is so doomed in this country, in the old days we all knew we could go shoot somewhere and not bother a soul. Im blessed to have enough land to shoot whenever i care. The fact so many have no place to shoot is going to cost us the Second imho.

    • If you don’t know somebody who lives out in the sticks, here’s a suggestion:
      Load up a cooler with a few 6-packs of good beer, and go out and meet a few. The beer helps with this a lot. Making it good beer (no Bud Lite) helps even more.
      Or, try visiting a gun club; you never know,they might know where to shoot. (If you live in an area with no gun clubs, this may either not work, or require a little travel)

      I’m lucky; with Ben Avery range just a few miles away, when the weather’s nice, it’s a great place to shoot. Also, a lot of Federal lands are good places, but be sure to find out, first. Some are off-limits to shooters.
      With a little effort, finding a safe place to shoot might not be as hard as you think.

  13. This list is ridiculous if it doesn’t have a Rem 870 on it. There have been more 870s made I would wager than all 3 of the others put together. People complain about 870s but my experience with all of them old or new is that they always go bang even after years of bouncing around in trucks, laying in the mud and snow and general abuse. The Benelli is overpriced, the mossberg is overrated and the Winchester while beautiful is going to be a safe queen unless you have money to burn. Ttags anti Remington bias shows itself again. I thought it was disappearing after the 1911 article on the R1.

    • I agree – considering the Benelli and Winchester options list 2+ shotguns that are essentially the same in function, I would have said 870/500 for the #1 choice. I’ve never considered one better than the other… the 870 just happened to be on sale when I was looking to buy.

      • I’m sure there are a LOT of very nice 870s out there.
        Being somewhat of an engineer (at least the Army thought so), the ergonomics of a tool are important to me. I tried both a 500 and an 870, and the control placement on the 500 was much better to me (I’m a righty).
        That’s not to say the 870 isn’t good, just different from the 500.

  14. I’m a big fan of shotguns. Also, there’s a familiarity factor me. I grew up with an 870 in hand and it’s the only gun I could honestly say I can load and operate blindfolded.

    I’ve always liked the versatility of shotguns. True, they’re not the best at any single task beyond wing shooting, but with practice and proper selection, they’re an adequate choice for every job. Carbines are great and the right choice for a lot of people, but I like the fact that my shotgun is better at grouping single projectiles (slugs) than their carbine is at patterning shot.

    Ammo capacity? Well, every round I fire contains many projectiles. Recoil? I’m 6’2″ and 250 lbs. so recoil only bothers me if I’m shooting from the bench.

    As for a semi auto vs. a pump: I’m sure quality semi-autos are very reliable, I just don’t trust the semis that are in my price range.

  15. Benelli M4 is way over-engineered, heavy, and pricey. Staying with Benelli, the M2 (my preference is the 21″ barrel) is MUCH more suitable and can double as a hunter and clays gun. Yes, you can do that with the M4 as well. See “heavy” above.
    No 870 on the list and the Winchester ’97 is. Oh puleeze! Newer 870’s junk? There’s a bazillion used older ones out there. Police trade-ins can be great values.

    • Agreed. The m2 is a superior choice. Can’t the m2 be made to readily comply with 922r allowing you to legally increase the length of the mag tube if you desire a capacity greater than 5 +1?

    • +++ on the Benelli M2. Very reliable semi-auto. Lightweight and maneuverable—”points” better than any other shotgun I’ve used. I have the 21″ barrel for home defense and an easily-interchangeable 26″ barrel for hunting. Best of both worlds.

  16. Practically born with a shotgun in my hands. The house gun is an 18″ 870 w/7 rds of #1 buck, backed up with a CZ P01 because the only problem with a long gun is, it takes 2 hands to operate.

    • … also both have lights but its better to sweep an area with a handheld than to sweep a loved one with a muzzle.

  17. My wall-leaner is a cheap H&R Pardner Pump Protector loaded with 00 buck and kept in cruiser-ready condition.

    I have lots of other guns for backup in case my home is invaded by a zombie swarm, but for everything else I do believe that a few rounds of 12 gauge nastiness should do the trick.

    And for those who would argue the virtues of the Rem 870 over a Mossy 500, you were absolutely correct once upon a time, but now not so much. I’m not a Mossy fan but I simply can’t recommend any Remington guns to my customers. Not if I want to keep my customers from hating me.

    • I’m glad you got a good one, Ralph. My H&R PPP came with a curved barrel which I didn’t notice when I took delivery from Dick’s, and shoots several inches right of POI at 15 yards. I put off shooting it for the first time for too long. Also, when I first took out the trigger assembly to lube it (it was a little stiff) by pushing those two pins of of the receiver and dropping the trigger assembly out, two parts fell out of the receiver that weren’t supposed to. Those bars that keep shells from backing out of the magazine tube, whatever they are called, were not staked properly into the receiver, so the only thing holding them flat in their grooves at the rear is the trigger assembly when it’s in place. I was able to get the gun back together and it seems to function fine aside from the POI thing. Weighs a ton for it’s size. I only bought it for a backup house gun and it shoots more or less minute-of-bad guy across a room. One of these days I may try and straighten the barrel. It was a cheap shotgun but I still feel like I got less than I paid for.

      • The PPP is Chinese-made by an affiliate of Norinco. I did get a good one, and I was lucky since the H&R PPP is a Chicom-made, Remington product, which is like a double hex.

        BTW, H&R is now pretty much defunct. Actual H&R production ceased in February, 2015, so I guess all it does now is import Chinese firearms.

    • My 870 went bang every time, but I couldn’t stand how loose the action was; as a rule, I shouldn’t be able to effortlessly rack the slide on a pump gun without touching the forend at all. And I guess it’s a good thing for reloaders, but I also never cared for how gently it would eject empty shells. I sold mine to a friend and put the money towards a Girsan MC312 with a +5 mag extension for sport, and a 590 Shockwave both for home defense and a bit of nose-thumbing at the ATF.

      • My old 1980’s 870 Wingmaster Youth Model was not what I what I would call loose. It was slick, smooth, and easy, but the forend felt tight in the locked-up mode. It didn’t rattle and twist around like the Mossy 500’s I had looked at back then. Those guns were what I call loose.

        The wood and receiver finish on that 870 were spectacular. The Wingmaster grade now is just meh.

  18. Mossberg 500 for me. Going on 30 years now. 2nd barrel cinched the deal. Leave it loaded up with the short barrel, 00 Buck, another 5 on the stock, attached light, and maybe another 50 shells in a bandolier that has a mixture of buck, bird shot, and slug.

  19. If you are going to go the mossberg pump route, and you are going to keep it close to its original configuration (no x-long mag tube so only 5+1), then a Maverick gives a much better bang for your buck.

  20. I’m surprised there is no love for the Benelli super nova tactical.
    It fires 2.75, 3, and 3.5 shells. It comes in beed, ghost sights, or rifle sights on the barrel, so you can switch out as needed. The magazine tube cap doubles as a pin push so short of a detail strip, it is esentially tooless takedown. The receaver is pre drilled for scope mounts. The polimer body over the steel frame provides strength and weather resistance out of the box. It sells for under $500, which is the sweet spot between price and value. You can even get it in pistol grip or straight stock configuration.
    For the cost, I have not found a more versitile, better quality defensive shotgun on the market.

  21. Love the Benelli M4 but a bit expensive. I just inherited a Remington 1100 shotgun (auto) that had a 28″ full choke barrel. Spent about $200 for a like new (used) slug barrel with rifle sights, a black tactical forearm, black stock with a pistol grip and a Wilson Combat mag extension. Pulled it apart and cleaned the hell out of it, replaced some minor parts and bingo! I had a nice new tactical shotgun (with some pretty scroll work on the receiver and bolt). It is VERY reliable – not one issue with 250 rounds of 00 buck. I think the author should give a little more credit to quality autos – suddenly we’re back to the “revolver vs semi auto” debate 30-40 years ago.

  22. I’ve heard very mixed things about the Mossberg FLEX system. Everyone either loves it or hate it. If you use it you are stuck with Mossberg’s proprietary accessories.

  23. Lots of Mossbergs in my home. I love its features and price. Carried the Benelli a bit in Iraq. Loved it. Sweet shooter. Still, a little too heavy and made me lust after the Mossberg 500s that other Marines had. Now I’ve got my eye on the Beretta 1301 Comp. Super reliable, light, and semi-auto.

  24. After my experiences in Iraq, I never fully trusted 5.56. Of course, we had to use green tip, so that’s a problem right there. Multiple solid hits in the torso and the skinny suckers kept going. My buddy shot a guy 14 times before he gave up the ghost. Next night I see him with a Mossy 500 (bead sighted). He shot three guys that day. Boom! Flop. Boom! Flop. Boom! Flop. Just as fast as you can read it. When I heard how fast they went down I assumed buckshot. He said, no. All slugs. He never used buck because sometimes the shots were a little longer. Boom! Flop. LOL!!! I’ll use either.

    • For your consideration: Most game wardens and people who tromp around in the brush in Alaska’s bear areas don’t depend on a sidearm as a bear gun.

      They instead choose a slick-bored 12ga with slugs.

      A modern “magnum capable” 12 ga loaded with some of the hot modern slugs has the muzzle energy of a .375 H&H. Shooting a human with a slug gun is pretty much the textbook definition of ‘overkill’ – ie, just enough gun.

  25. How is the KSG not on this list? It solves all the normal cons of using a shotgun for home defense, namely capacity and overall length.

  26. My Vepr 12 has never failed. I use 10 round magazines, which I can empty as quickly as I can pull the trigger. I can then replace the mag with one quick move and drop the bolt with my trigger finger. Mild recoil impulse and little muzzle rise. No slowing down or pulling the barrel off target to rack the slide. No feeding new cartridges into a tubular magazine. Just one, long, deafening roar and a flickering balloon of flame. If it bleeds, I can kill it–not to mention splattering it all to hell.

    • Haven’t used slugs but #6 shot from 5-7 yards(room length) will cut down a walnut tree with a 2.5″-3″ trunk with one shot. The damn rabbit gets away. So less chance of over penetration with shot( depending on size used) but still devastating damage from a hit.


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