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I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: a home defense shotgun is the armed American’s best chance at a one-stop shot. To which I’ll add please consider keeping a pair of electronic earmuffs by your bedside. A shotgun blast in your house will cause hearing damage. That said, let’s look at your best HD scatterguns . . .

1. Mossberg 590A1™ Tactical – $605 msrp

Fifty-million Elvis fans can’t be all wrong. Neither can 10 million Mossberg owners. While some Mossie fans use their shotguns for hunting, a significant portion keep the Mossberg 500 to hand to defend kith and kin. For HD, the 590A1™ Tactical is the pick of the litter.

The 590A1 is an any-color-as-long-as-its-black pump-action seven-shot shotgun with a bead sight. That said, you can opt for an XS Big Dot or a so-good-it-seems-like-cheating ghost ring site. My favorite feature: the Mossberg’s tang-mounted safety. It’s intuitive and nowhere near the trigger — by far the safest shotgun safety system.

Mossberg’s shotguns are built like the proverbial brick sh*t house. They’re reliable firearms that stand up to decades of hard use. Or — and don’t try this at home — years of sitting under the bed, unfired. You can buy models with rails and an adjustable stock, but the plain Jane version is a great value piece.

2. Benelli M4 Tactical – $1999 msrp

Wait. What? A home defense shotgun that costs $1579 more than a perfectly adequate lower-priced alternative? Well, if you appreciate quality and want a semi-automatic shotgun that’s as rugged and reliable as a Remington or Mossberg pump, one that doesn’t kick like a mule, the Benelli M4 Tactical is it.

And hey, the gas-operated M4 Tactical comes standard with a Picatinny rail and pistol-grip stock! Not to mention a fully adjustable ghost-ring aperture rear sight and windage-adjustable front sight. And don’t forget the M4 Tactical eats 2.75″ and 3-inch” shells of any power-level without operator adjustments — in any combination.

Now how much would you pay? Anyway, until you’ve handled and shot this beast don’t knock it. And if you get one, I highly recommend the titanium mag extension tube and an oversized charging handle. In for a penny . . .

3. Lone Star Arms SAIGA-12 – Around $1k for the gun plus $1100 to make it work and more for other upgrades

Like the shotguns above, the LSA SAIGA-12 is a fast-shooting, reliable shotgun. Did I say reliable? Yes I did. “The guns really need a lot of work to perform with low-powered ammo,” Michael Rodgers, CEO of Lone Star Arms says. He replaces the Russian fire control group with a U.S. highly modified Tapco G2 fire control group, smoothes-out the action, bolt carrier and carrier group, to eliminate friction, vibration and “unnecessary resistance.” And completely overhauls the gas system.

When we ran a LSA SAIGA-12 against the Benelli M4 (see: picture at the top of the post), the SAIGA-12 didn’t so much as hiccup — and kept on running when the Benelli was out of ammo.

Yes, there is that. That’s a eight-round mag y’all. But — it’ll take up to a 20-round drum. Now why in the world would you need 20 shells for home defense in the continental United States? Who knows? But it makes shooting the shotgun a lot of fun. And the more fun it is, the more likely you are to shoot it. And the more likely you are to shoot it, the more comfortable you’ll feel using it when bad guy push comes to ballistic shove. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

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    • No kidding, an M1 carbine with modern Hornady FTX would be drastically superior to ANY shotgun. Shotguns are an old-think, [and at this point] deeply idiotic idea for home defense. The concussion from a shotgun in can easily cause permanent hearing loss, and will certainly disorient you. Shotguns are rounds limited, and having to manually cycle the action after every shot is just stupid. You would be drastically better equipped to defend your home with a duty size double stack 9MM pistol. NOBODY is going to laugh off a 124 grain Federal HST, don’t kid yourself. Shotgun = extremely bad choice, and that’s the truth about guns.

      • Benelli and saiga are both semi-auto as far as the noise. Any firearm will suck if you fire it inside.

      • Madcapp that’s funny right there!

        Seriously, I am very pro choice when it comes to firearms, and I have a hi-cap 9mm ready to go, but I’m choosing to keep my shottie loaded. Pistols should be used to fight to the long gun which is superior in every way except ease of carry.

        That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ?

      • I go with a handgun for HD because of the layout of my home, but if you strip away the environment and just have you and an assailant and any one of the guns you own, it’s really hard to beat a shotgun for damage. A 12-gauge with buckshot will do more disabling injury to someone full of adrenaline than any rifle round shy of probably .338LM or bigger, which would be an *interesting* home defense choice at best. True though the rifle rounds start to beat the shell in energy long before Lapua, the shell does a specific job better. It’s the same reason you don’t load a defensive gun with hunting ammo.

        I agree about the shock of a heavy round’s report, shy of keeping a suppressor on your HD gun, it’s tough to get around that danger. Hopefully none of us ever have to deal with it.

      • Maddcap,

        NOBODY is going to laugh off a 124 grain Federal HST

        I’ll be that guy … a reasonably fit attacker is physiologically capable of sustaining their attack for at least 10 seconds (and quite often more like 20 seconds) after taking a 9mm, 124 grain bullet to the heart. In my world I don’t want an attacker sustaining their for 10 to 20 seconds after I shoot them.

        Compare the above to the INSTANT incapacitation aspect of a 20 or 12 gauge shotgun slug to the heart/chest.

        If all you have is a 9mm handgun and your attacker is in a rage or on drugs, you better be good at the Mozambique drill if you want to survive physically unscathed.

        • Hahahahahahahaha…nobody is going to sustain any sort of effective attack for an additional 10-20 seconds after getting hit with 365 ft/lbs of muzzle energy from a Federal HST….not even you, and I know that reality bruises your ego deeply, but its the truth. Plus, you have plenty of follow ups available (in your 10-20 second window) from your 9MM duty pistol if there is any question. Back to the point, having a “shotgun first” approach to home defense is completely foolish, a shotgun is a tool of last resort, not first.

        • 10-20 seconds of attack after getting shot in the heart? What movies have you been watching? You should base your home defense strategy on reality instead of John Wick films.

        • uncommon is absolutely right about the fight continuing. People who think that a drugged up guy stops instantly and dies quietly after one shot are watching too many movies. There have been drugged up people shot in the head and body multiple times and kept going. Your brain and muscles have enough oxygen to keep going even after that heart stops pumping. Dont fool yourselves.

        • Madcapp and Adam,

          Review this article about female Los Angeles police officer Stacy Lim. Please explain how she continued the gunfight after taking a devastating shot to the chest from a .357 Magnum revolver … and explain how her attacker kept running and was able to empty his revolver after taking a shot from her 9mm pistol. And neither person was in a rage or higher than a kite on drugs.

          Of course there are plenty of other examples where both attackers and defenders take handgun rounds to various parts of the body and keep going for several seconds to several minutes. While any handgun in any caliber can be incredibly effective at stopping an attacker immediately, any handgun in any caliber can also be incredibly ineffective at stopping an attacker immediately. Do your homework.

        • You might also ask yourself how Danny Dietz, Matt Axelson, and Michael Murphy, the 3 SEALS who died alongside Marcus Luttrell, managed to fight for well over an hour with mortal wounds from 7.62×39 rounds to their chests and heads. Or how elk and deer will sometimes run 300 yards after a heart shot. Adrenaline can perform miracles. PCP and other illicit drugs can as well. The only guarantee for a quick stop is a CNS hit above the diaphragm.

      • As with all defensive scenarios you should select the weapon you’re most comfortable with. For someone new to guns and doesnt train much, or has poor eyesight, a shottie is by far the better choice since some birdshot and a short barrel to remove a lot of the “aiming” component.

        And never argue with the ultimate non lethal bad guy deterent that is the sound of a pump action shotgun

        Personally I pack 17+1 of 9mm and a spare 17 just in case it gets really bad and back when I was in college and wasn’t allowed to keep a gun (on campus) I kept a baseball bat and a large buck knife close by

        • as an old st. louis missouri cop from back in the 1960’s, my personal experience was that the bullshit about the racking sound of an 870 would put the fear of GOD into a shitbum is really over rated. all it did was identify your location and clarify you be a cop.

        • Same here Duke, but I go ya one better! Keep a 150 lb crossbow with talon bolts available at all times.
          As for shot placement, a single round from my 357 mag to dead center thorax cavity put down a perp, INSTANTLY. Not only perforated his windpipe, but severed his spine while shattering his neck vertebrae. While most home bodies can’t be as accurate in defensive shooting, those of us that were military and LEO trained usually can. It takes a different mind set and frequent practice in a full motion range.

      • 100% wrong. Victims wounded by a handgun, any handgun not counting magnums, have a survival rate of over 90%, even when thoroughly perforated with 9mm. Rifle survival rates are around 50%, while survival from a shot gun is less than 10%. Think about that for a second. There’s actually a TTAG article devoted to these numbers, if you care to find it. But keep up with the uninformed sarcastic comments like some kind of liberal. Because some people here actually care about the truth, not your personal opinion that’s biased by your favorite handgun.

      • Madcap U need to check some of Massad Ayoob’s articals on actual shootouts U will find that handgun cal. from 380 to the fabeld 45 are notloriously bad man stoppers . In one case a subject was not only shot between 10 and 15 times with 9mm but also took approximately 3 buckshot loads and was still shooting the last hit he took was a 12ga slug and he finally went down. So U never know how its gonna go with a handgun,thats why 2 to the chest 1 to the head. Seriously it will be very interesting reading for U and anyone else who takes self defense seriosly

        • There has been a lot of advancement in handgun bullet technology since the days of Massad Ayoob publishing books. I have to wonder how OLD the data is that you’re referencing (and by extension Ayoob has in old books). These unique scenarios other commenters are attempting to point to…we don’t know about shot placement, or bullet type. What I do know for sure is that in most home defense scenarios, you’d be much smarter to reach first for a double stack 9MM with a light and an extended magazine than going for common pump action shotgun. People tend to forget that .32 ACP, .32 S&W, and .38 Special were used very effectively by police departments here and in Europe for many, many decades. Modern 9MM is a significant step up from that, and is completely adequate.

      • “NOBODY is going to laugh off a 124 grain Federal HST”
        Laugh, no. Continue fighting, absolutely yes. I shot people with a rifle multiple times that kept on fighting. I had an Afghan man walk into my clinic, again, walk, not carried, with 3 close range 7.62X39 rounds from an AK47 to his chest. I’ve seen a man put a .38SPL to his center chest, pull the trigger and then stand there calmly for a full thirty seconds before he collapsed.
        Don’t bet your life on any shot, especially from a pistol round, instantly incapacitating your attacker.

      • I have to disagree. The shotgun is “old think and deeply idiotic?” I’ll make a deal with you, we find a shoot house and you enter on one side with your 9mm and I on the other with my auto-loading 12 gauge, and we’ll see how it comes out.

        Everyone is entitled to use whatever they feel most comfortable with, but to make a statement that shotguns are “old think” is ludicrous. My wife and I both keep .45 and 9mm handguns next to our bedside at night, and when we’re going about our evening activities we keep handguns close. But if something happens when we’re in bed at night my go-to is my 12 gauge

      • I beg to differ, the sound of my Mossberg being shucked is enough to make most would be intruders pee their pants. The first load of buckshot should be enough to stop said intruder, any of his companions would be discouraged from continuing their escapades or suffer the same consequences. I know my capabilities, and have trained extensively in clearing my house with my 12 guage. For me it is the weapon of choice. How dare you criticize my choice. Intruders be damned at any hour day or night if you chose your target wrongly. So i think you are WRONG in saying it is a bad choice, period! It is my choice and therefore, for me, is the right choice.

      • Exactly , I agree with Madcapp. And I’ve got 40 years of rather ‘intensive’ experience in this area. Shotguns, especially the pump actions are pretty much obsolete for any serious CQB anymore, and you forgot to mention they’re not very ‘combat friendly’ when it comes to the reload. And now with the new ‘psycho’ one shot stopping ammo for pistols. One of the best pragmatic night stand weapons would be a Glock 17 with a 30 round mag loaded with this bad boy ammo. Compact, easy to shoot, no safety hesitation, or racking a slide. Put a high lumen light and laser combo on it and you’re very good to go…or should I say the intruder will be ‘going’, bye bye!

      • Everyone should use what they are comfortable with and educated about. What is an idiotic choice for you, is a comfortable system for someone else. The idea is to stay alive. Personally I’ll take a shotgun or .45acp over a 9mm, but that’s my decision.

      • Well any firearm in close quarters will damage your hearing period. And apparently you haven’t heard of semi auto shotguns or if your not into manual pump action how about twin sticks. Either over under or side by side work well. As far as not ideal for home defense well your wrong on that count as well. With bird shot no less you don’t need fancy smancy defense rounds to get the job done. And at 15 to 20 feet in a house it’s just like hitting them with a slug round not much expansion at that range. And doesn’t really matter how many rounds you have after first shot the scatter haven’t seen a video where they do anything else but run. There not there to put up fight…

    • Most WWII vets preferred the M1 Garand as they found the 30 cal Carbine cartridge to be ineffective on Japs and Krauts. No offense, I’m using WWII vernacular.

    • Why is it that I’ve read countless times where WWII Vets would trade-in their M1 Carbines for a Garand due to lack of stopping power?

  1. I would have to include the benelli supernova tactical into the mix. Extremely smooth and rugged, it’s a serious contender. As an owner of both a mossberg 500 tactical and a supernova tactical, I would take the benelli every day of the week. And for around $500, I can’t think of a better pump gun.

  2. So why do I sell so many Mossberg Maverick 88s as a first-time owners “house gun”?
    Because it’s cheap, it works and even though a MSR is arguably a better choice, they start at several hundred dollars more.

    • Well I got a Maverick88 20″. I can load 8 if I use 5Herters 2.25″ ” and 3 2.75 slugs or shells.Good enough! Funny but today an old guy was selling a brand new unfired KSG to my local gunshop. He won it in a raffle and uses “other” stuff for home defense…he ended up trading for another hunting gun.

    • This is what I came here to say as well. Poor mans home shotgun.

      4. Mossberg maverick 88
      Used (barely) maverick 88, 7+1, pump, 6 position folding collapsable stock: $188

      • The mav 88 deserves the number 1 spot on the “best value HD shotgun” list for sure. They make great truck guns. Low cost, high versatility.

      • Don’t laugh my friends……….Catamount Fury 1. After I went to Carolina and dropped another 500$ of after market mods, it is a weapon of mass destruction. I’ve pitted it against Saiga’ s and its held it own EVERY time. For a total cost of around 800$, it’s not bad at all.

    • I was thinking along the same lines when reading the article: nice guns but fancy price…perhaps a bit much for many…too much for a retiree like me. I just purchased a Winchester SXP Defender pump action 12 gauge for $239. I already have a Maverick 20 gauge pump, which works as advertised for less than $200…never had a problem, goes bang every time. For only a little more, the Winchester is faster and smoother than the Maverick or any Moss500 I’ve shot. Affordable options for the “regular folks” out there.

      • Darn, I paid too much…BudsGunShop now has the Winchester SXP Defender for $206. Yes, I know it’s built in Turkey…but it’s an American design and the Turks do build some good guns and the quality is more consistent than “built in China”.

  3. KSG should be in there. Its lenght makes it a great CQB shotty. If it was a semi it would be even better.

    • I was thinking of the KSG as well, but I seem to remember that it has (had?) feeding issues. Not sure how big a deal they were or if Kel-Tec fixed it though.

      • They don’t have feeding issues, they have people short-stroking them issues. I would have definatly put it on the list as well. A LOT easier to manuver inside a home than a Saiga.

        • Several hundred rounds through 3 of them so far, some of that in a defensive shotgun course that got the barrel smoking hot, and not a single hiccup. Make the slide work for you, rack it like you mean it, and you won’t have a problem.

          I’ve sold off every other 18″ shotgun I have, after seeing how much easier a KSG was to maneuver, aim, and reload (meaning…you pretty much don’t have to).

        • The two are functionally equivalent in many ways. Feel free to blame user error but I’d rather have a good shotgun that isn’t as susceptible to it than one that is…

        • That’s fair, I’d rather have a semiauto that I don’t need two fully functional arms to empty into a badguy.

        • I don’t like semi-auto shotguns for home defense…too slow to clear a jam. As far as the pump…if there is a ammo problem of some sort you are much more likely to power through and chamber a round. If you fail to pump fully under stress, you should have practiced more, its not that hard.

    • I lost all desire to own a KSG after shooting one. I had a jam that took 3 people, 15 minutes, and tools to clear. No thanks.

  4. The 590A1 should be a 9 shot. 20″ bbl. You can get a lot done with 9 rds of buckshot. No lifter to get in the way of loading, and an aluminum receiver to cut some weight (that gun is ALL barrel). There’s not a whole lot that’s going to be better. Maybe a reliable auto, 930’s, the M4 above, but the price for M4 is astronomical.

  5. I don’t entirely get the disdain for semi-auto shotguns yet insist on semi-auto handguns and rifles. I’ve heard the concerns about jamming, but mine cycles every single time. Besides, you can jam up a pump shotgun too with adrenaline induced short stroking or whatever.

    In case of the bump in the night, my first go-to is to grab the pistol and roust the family to one room, barricade the door, and then set up with the shotgun. Even if it did jam, I still have the sidearm with me for the second and subsequent guys that come through the door.

  6. My favorite is the long discontinued Winchester ’97 pump gun. That is mostly because I learned to run it in Cowboy competition and a fast follow up slamfire on target is very easy.

    • That’s one of the guns I still kick myself over, could have bought one a few years back for about half of what they’re going for now.

    • The only downside of the Model 1897 is that the disassembly/reassembly is more complicated than the more modern pump shotguns. Don’t get me wrong – I love the 97’s. They work and work well when maintained.

      But when something goes wrong in a 97, you’d best consult a gunsmith, unless you have substantial skills. A Rem 870 or Mossy 5xx series? Feh. Buy the parts, drop them in, run it like you stole it.

  7. My 870 works just fine for me, never been much of a shotgunner anyway. It was fun watching John Wick run that Benelli, though.

    • Nothing wrong with old school and practical. My top three recommendations would have been Mossberg 500, Maverick 88, and used 870 pre freedom group.

  8. My 50 cal has a better chance of a one stop shot. Oh wait. I can’t even afford the scope rings.

    Lame joke aside, I’d rather spend $2K on a nice rifle, red dot, sling and ammo — even though an AR costs more than a pump and has no mystical knock down powers.

  9. When asked what golf clubs to buy, Lee Trevino (supposedly) replied, “cheapest ones you can find and hit 600 balls a day”.

    I’m guessing a used, quality pump and 200 rounds of 2 3/4 birdshot will pass the Merry Mex’s postulate.

    • ^This…when it comes to HD for your average American, just about any 12 ga pump will do. Gotta remember, if you are a more casual gun-owner, only interested in the shotty for HD and occasional firing, chances are you aren’t spending over a G on a shotgun. Take your ~$200, get the Mav 88 and you’re probably good.

      • From what I’ve seen 20 ga works just as good for home defense (with the correct load). Same result with a hit, anyway.

  10. I’ve got to disagree about the 870 Express. I got one that had a tendency to stick with steel-hulled shells. Like, “hold to fore end and slam the butt into the ground” stuck. I ended up polishing the chamber with steel wool and a power drill.

    • “I ended up polishing the chamber with steel wool and a power drill.” I’ve found that to be a requirement on most new 870s.

      • Interesting.. I have a Hawk 982 I paid all of $200 for straight from China, and it runs like a champ without lube or even regular cleaning.

  11. My Mossy 930 JM Pro (24″) has been a rock.
    Works for HD, skeet, three gun and wicked fun 9 shot speed dumps into any old appliances that find their way out to our private range.
    I’ll get another in a heartbeat if this one disappeared in a boating accident.

    • This. All day, every day. Get an old one, or four, used anywhere and shoot it/them a lot.

  12. No Vepr 12? 750 bucks and runs everything you feed it except universals, and even those on a hot day. When was the last siaga imported? Any siaga should run home defense ammo with ease out of the box, no need for some snake oiled 3 gun garbage and pay 2 grand for it

    • Mine runs low brass all day. Out of the 500 or so rounds I can count the jams on one hand.

    • I loves me a Saiga, but every one I’ve ever owned or fired has only run well double-ought buck. Which is what they were built to run. But if you want to mix and match your loads, it’s going to take work to get that gun to run reliably.

    • You are correct, sir. The Vepr 12 with 10-12 round magazines is the first-choice last-option. The rest are just runner-up.

  13. $2k HD shotguns… really? A HD shotgun should be safe, reliable, and cheap. If you’re not home and someone decides to break in, this is the gun you’ll never see again.

    “The guns really need a lot of work to perform with low-powered ammo” – what a selling point for a HD gun!

    Realistically, the list should be a cheap 500 (or derivative), the 870 Express, and literally anything else; with the 870/500 as choices 1 and 2, you’d never need the 3rd option. I can’t imagine spending more than $300 on a dedicated HD shotgun.

  14. I hope lone star paid you for that plug cause I’ll bet a bottle of your finest scotch my bone stock VEPR 12 smokes that tricked out gas hog for less than half the price.

  15. Any shotgun that you like and can run safely. For me, it has been 870’s since 1972 hunting dove, ducks, turkey, rabbits, squirrels and deer with 12’s & 20’s. I have multiple barrels for each. Keep a 20″ barrel on my 20ga for HD and a 18 1/2 on my 12ga in different parts of the house. Must admit, I prefer the 20, light and handy plus the Mrs runs it too!. Keep it simple and stick with what you know……… Recently I have strayed and really lust after that Beretta 1301……

  16. I have a serious taste for the Benelli, it’s near the top of the “Guns to be procured” list. That being said, what’s leaning in the corner between the bed & nightstand is a Magpul’ed 12ga Mav 88. You have to buy a 500 forend for it, but it’s dirt-simple to change out if you’ve ever field-stripped your 88 – you just slip the 500 forend back in place of the 88’s.

    I want the Benelli – it’s not a “need” question. I appreciate the way it’s designed. The HD gun will always be the Mav though, because the Benelli will be locked in the safe!

  17. “To which I’ll add please consider keeping a pair of electronic earmuffs by your bedside.”

    With all due respect, this is silly advice. Certainly discharging a shotgun, or most any un-muffled firearm, in a closed space will wreak havoc on ones ears. Even so, reaching for hearing protection when something goes bump in the night — especially if that bump is a the sound of a home invader kicking in ones door — is the last things anyone should be fiddling with. People under combat stress situations have hard enough time remembering to deselect their gun’s safety, let alone donning electronic earmuffs and dialing the sound up to the appropriate level. Hearing protection is mandatory equipment at the range or recreational shooting. They are not appropriate for emergency self-defense situations. Unless…

    Unless you want to sleep with your hear-pro on. You are allowed to engage home invaders with hearing protection if you sleep with them on. Otherwise if you are that concerned about your hearing, buy a .45 and a silencer.

    • Seems to me that if you don’t have enough time to put on your ears, you probably don’t have time for anything else, such as getting your shotgun, waking up enough to not shoot the mirror, or anything else.

      If you have time, why not? Would you wear body armor during a HD scenario if possible?

      • Yes, in an ideal world we’d have body armor, hearing protection, eye protection, steel-toed boots, helmet, gloves, gas mask, tactical clothing with integrated tourniquets, cup (for the gentlemen), clean underwear and fresh breath, and we’d be wide awake. But in a perfect world we would also not have home invaders surprising us in the middle of the night.

        • I’m neither talking about a utopia nor a three second break-in. I’m just saying that wearing ear pro isn’t (to borrow your word) “silly,” and could even be a good idea.

          Do you think you’d shoot better indoors with or without ear pro? (An answer with the words “combat stress situation” is lame.) Personally, ear pro will make my shots a lot more accurate.

          I’m no expert, but it still seems to me like you might as well prepare to prepare, as much as possible. That includes things that you most likely won’t use, even if you are in a DGU. YMMV.

  18. “3 Top Shotguns for Home Defense”

    Considering these lack a sporting purpose, you technically can’t own a “home defense” shotgun as they violate the NFA rules and are considered destructive devices. If I were an enterprising attorney, I’d charge that too to just be a dick.

    I know what the counterargument will be; “but I can shoot squirrels with it.” Actually since that is not it’s intended purpose or marketed that way, it would supersede said hunting/target shooting claim.

  19. I’m a cheapskate and can’t see spending a lot of money on a home defense pump shotgun. If I felt the need for one, I would take my old but very reliable J. C. Higgins Model 20 and shorten the barrel since the choke is not an issue. It has always been dead reliable and I have about $60 tied up in it. There are a lot of old cheap pump shotguns around.

    • I’ve grown awfully fond of my Adler 12 ga. for HD. lever action, nice short 13in. barrel, 5 rounds of buck or slugs & being in Canada doesn’t fit into any SBS regs or other silliness. Right handsome too

  20. Huh? Guns going over $1K that need to hold a half-dozen rounds, be equipped with a cylinder choke and just be a no-frills, reliable run?

    I’m usually the one here at TTAG championing expensive shotguns, but in this application, I’m going to echo what has already been said: there are cheaper, easier guns to find.

    Example of a good HD gun that hasn’t been mentioned yet, but it has a well-proven design? Ithaca Model 37, “Defense” model with a 18.5 or 20″ bbl. Solid steel & wood, cylinder choke, ejects from the bottom (so it works for lefties as well as righties), has a long track record with the military and police as well sporting uses.

    • Great guns, but not cheap either. If you want the shorter barreled and long tubed versions, they run about $900 retail.

  21. I’m sticking with my M1 Super 90. Best shotgun I own. I have a Remington 870, Mossberg 500 and an Ithaca 37 trench gun.

    My second choice would be the Ithaca.

  22. Beretta 1301 Tactical. It cycles all loads, shoots softer than an M4 or a pump and weighs less than most.

    I can afford it, so I bought it.

  23. I have a Remington 870 with the slug barrel. Nothing like a 20 gauge slug to center mass to take the fight out of someone.

  24. No Pardner Pump shotgun?!?!?!? They are super inexpensive and you won’t miss it when police TAKE IT FOR EVIDENCE. And, if you ever run out of shells, you can use it as a nasty club since they feel like they weigh 300 pounds.

  25. I bought a Benelli M2 Tactical a few years ago for a lot less than $2000. It is semi-auto inertial so no gas piston system to clean. No worries about short stroking, and after break-in it even eats low brass 7/8 oz shells. I practice with 5 gallon water bottles in my local sand pit and while no shotgun is a tack driver, the bottles definitely hop around.

    • I have an m2 tactical as well. Haven’t shot it too much, training with it is on my list of things to do. From my limited experience it is very comfortable to shoot and so far has had no firing or feeding issues. My only problem is loading it. When I push the shell in, the flap thing (can’t think of the actual name for it right now) tends to bite my thumb. Not sure if I’m doing something wrong or what, but it is my only complaint. Not a big issue since I don’t plan on reloading during a HD situation anyways, I’ll just grab the next gun.

  26. “… you can opt for an XS Big Dot or a so-good-it-seems-like-cheating ghost ring site.”

    I said it before, I’ll say it again. If you think you need sights on a home defense shotgun, then you should learn to use a shotgun before you employ one in that capacity.

    Those who know how to use shotguns (hint: you don’t aim it, you point it) can consistently knock birds out of the sky (winged or clay) at considerable distance with a top rail, a front bead, and the skill that only comes from practice.

    The adrenaline dump of self-defense naturally leads us to focus on the threat with both eyes open. This also happens to be how you successfully hit targets with a shotgun. This is what makes them a logical choice for home defense – if you have the skills.

    But if you haven’t acquired the skills I mentioned, then you’re better off with a rifle.

    • I have an old h&r pardner pump 20ga youth repurposed as a home defense gun. (It was once one of my kids first shotguns) it’s dead reliable, never failing to feed, chamber, fire and eject anything its fed. Short length of pull and short barrel make it very quick and easy handling. Heavy enough to take most of the recoil out of firing. I use estate 3×3 game loads (equivalent to 0 buck) with great effect through an i.c. choke. Used this combo on barn yard varmints aa lot, and I sure wouldn’t want to be on the business end. I think I payed under $150 for it new some years back. The expensive hunting and sporting shotguns live in the safe.

  27. Any cheap pump in 12 gauge will turn a bad guy into shredded beef in no time. If you spend over $300 bucks for your wall-leaner, you done got took.

  28. Any ole shotgun works well, but my little AR15 shreds meat too, I’m changing trigger on it, bang on pull, bang when rlsed. I think the upgrade will be great.

  29. I don’t feel under gunned with a Mossberg 500. Swapped out the long multi choke barrel for an 18″ security barrel, threw on a sling and now feel good to go! The bigger question is the ammo choice, Winchester PDX1 seems like overkill, 00 or 000 buck has been a ‘go to’ round for sometime but the newer thinking seems to be something like #4 buck for ‘in home’ distances.

  30. I have a Taurus Judge with 3″ chamber. The gun is wholly inaccurate with 45 Colt loads, (due to the free bore of the 3″ chamber) but I will tell you the 410 3″ shell loaded with a home defense load, is a real attitude changer. You can also mix and match between the 410, and the 45 Colt.
    Of course it doesn’t compare to a 20 or 12 Ga. round coming out of a full size gun, but the small size (compared to a regular size scatter gun) makes up for a lot of its shortfall.
    Also, something to consider. No jams, no failure to extract, or eject, and if you get a misfire, just pull the trigger again.
    I would not recommend that this be your only weapon available, But as a first weapon to grab, it’s hard to beat!

  31. I always keep two pair electronic hearing protection in the master bedroom,
    along with my Mossberg 500 pump, loaded with open action.

    The electronic hearing protection will allow you to communicate with your sig other
    and hear any intruder(s) before they enter your bedroom.

  32. I know I’ll get blasted for this one…….The Judge .410 ga with Triple ought buck….every other shot 45LC Hollowpoints.
    Keep shooting till the thug drops.

  33. I wouldn’t laugh off a 9 or or any round but if it had the misunfortune of not taking me out I would be laughing when 72 balls of lead are promptly returned. Or 90 depending on which broomstick was the closest

  34. a blast from a doule barrel shot ,no one standing. my new home defense is a mossberg shockwave.with double 00 bad dude.

    • Years back I tried the pistol grip on a Mossberg 500 idea. Control was so out the window I put the regular stock back on. But that’s me, what works for you is what you should do.

  35. My niece is considering what to get for HD. She has very young children at the other end of the house. So – three issues no one has considered. One, over penetration. As in through the wall, the next wall and then through the daughter. Two, the bad guy is HOLDING the two year old. A broad pattern is worse than no shot at all. And last, but not least, fast access WITHOUT the ability of the four year old to operate it. I’m thinking of recommending a good but cheap pump. 2 1/4 inch 12 ga. shells throw six 32 caliber balls at 1250 fps = 1117 ft lbs. Yes, if any miss, they will keep going, so over penetration is reduced but not solved. But the kids are pretty short – Center the pattern on his clavicle and it will be OK. Or kneel and aim center mass. If the bad guy holds a hostage, pump it once or twice and use the slug. The longer (than handgun) sight radius will help put the slug where she wants it. Yes, she will have to remember that under big stress. And last but not least – uhm, this is still a problem. A handgun in a small, quick-access safe is more secure and fast. Fumbling with a trigger lock under stress, in the dark is not a sufficient solution. Thoughts anyone?

    • This is a hard one because all good answers add cost and a young family or single mother is unlikely to have much in the way of extra cash. The first protections are improving the lock-down ability of the home. Window bars, security doors, improving the door frames and using longer and stronger screws. Improving door locks. Exterior lighting, cell phone with spare or larger blug-in battery so as not to have to worry about landlines being cut. All that stuff to keep bad people away in the first place and connect you to 911.

      People will furiously hate on the next idea but it must be said, a Ruger 10/22 can group a bunch of .22 bullets very tightly in a short time at a close distance found in a home. It is a short gun, recoil is nothing (I’ve used on rabid, feral dogs to great efficiency, just once). Or if not that gun there are also .22LR in AR15 form factor, which makes for good training opportunity before moving up to a centerfire rifle caliber. All this speaks to is the child as hostage worry, shooting at exposed bad guy parts.

      After that fall back on the same advice that fits all handguns for self defense. Use the most caliber you can manage well, which is about the second and third shot as much as the first. Use the best quality you can afford and still be able to buy ammo for practice. Use expanding bullets to keep as much ammo inside the bad person as possible, as opposed to passing thru them.

      There are all sorts of ways to secure the gun or guns. Gun safes. Gun lockers. Biometric gun locks. There are wall and furniture mounted pistol boxes or gun holders. The holders can bolt on a wall and hold a loaded shotgun with the barrel in a safe direction and the trigger and receiver completely enclosed. Just do Google searches, see what turns up. Go to websites for Cabelas and Bass Pro just to look at what’s offered.

      I am years beyond small children in the house but keep two Stack-On gun lockers in a ready state. Pistol box atop long gun cabinet. Pistol box is push button and turn knob. Has always loaded and chambered full size 9mm pistol. Below is the long gun locker, holding one of my shotguns and an AR15. All of this is secondary as without little people in the house I can have whatever I want conveniently placed, out of sight but unimpeded by locks.

      Teaching children. Gun locks are not a substitute for teaching little ones about guns and safety constantly as they grow. Nor is teaching them a substitute for those locks. Both are needed. Good friend of mine made a point of buying his little ones toy guns that look like toys, nobody could mistake them for real. But he has used them to teach safety and responsibility. Including the consequence of unsafe handling. Point the toy gun at the puppy and it’s a time-out and take away the toy for a little while.

  36. I went through a defensive shotgun class with my SRM 1216. One guy had a SAIGA-12. He was running his high power ammo through it and it still performed poorly. My SRM was chewing through Wal-Mart ammo all day and performed flawlessly. It also was happy with the 00 Buck for part of it. I also carried more ammunition in magazines than he did. The SRM is a more compact and more easily maneuvered package.

  37. It’s been some 40 years since I had to point a gun at anybody. Seriously lucky both times, bad people saw the gun and decided to be someplace else. I figure that’s all my luck on that sort of thing.

    My Mossberg 590A1 alternates loads of 00 Buck and slugs. Originally setup that way for bear troubles in a remote mountain place I spent some years in and I’ve just kept loading it that way. I left the bayonet off though, seemed a bit much.

    My small place in town isn’t great for swinging that long beast about indoors. Plus there are neighbors real close. So my Mossberg 500 with the 18.5″ barrel and #4 Buckshot (not bird, Buckshot). At any distance inside a modest (read small) home the shot column is still tight and still devastating. The lead will not be crossing the street with to punch through a passing car or neighbor’s house.

    One more thing on shot placement. Good luck with shot placement. This is where some will talk about their prowess. That’s wonderful if you are an experienced warrior, super duper SWAT cop or combat pistol shooter. Most people are none of that. So if real danger is suddenly there in your home and you roll out of bed in a desperate moment, shot placement is liable to be a good deal more difficult a thing than a pleasant day of targets and plinking cans or busting clays.

    Which I also do with several pistol calibers and a few rifle calibers. Just not in my bedroom at 3am within a few seconds of some loud noise waking me from a deep sleep.

  38. I keep a Smith & Wesson “Governor” hand gun loaded with “Highly effective in both shotguns and 410 compatible handguns, the PDX1 in 410 gauge features a distinctive black hull and black oxide high-base head and combines three plated Defense Disc™ projectiles and 12 pellets of plated BB shot. The result is the ideal personal protection load for short range engagement with the performance needed to stop threats”
    I have made large pumpkin’s vaporize in front of my eyes. I like that. I have more confidence with a hand gun in close quarters. Its just plain faster to maneuver and aim. Just my opinion, and pro gun choice.

  39. The home-defense pistol/shotgun/carbine debate will last as long as there are homes to defend and firearms to defend them with. My advice: (1) Pick the one you feel most comfortable with and TRAIN with it. The weapon that will save your life is the one YOU can operate by muscle memory and consistently place shots on target. (2) Prepare yourself mentally. Guns don’t win gunfights, people do.

  40. Simple me, I just use my 30 plus yrs. old modified 870. I bought it for $35.00 or so back in the day and recently converted the wood forestock and butt to tactical, synthetic stocks. I don’t need to pay the big bucks it takes to get a Benelli, Mossberg or Saiga to take out a bad guy with one or two .00 buck rounds. I do imagine folks looks better holding one of those fancy shotguns while that smoke wafts from the barrel of them but I’m not into looks these days. I’m just a tired horse. I cut to the quick and use the most practical tool that requires the least energy to employ. That’s me.

  41. Thank you all for your input. I purchased a Mossberg 88 a while back and then added on the Mossberg 500 18″ replacement barrel. This is reportedly a slug shotgun but have shot various different loads of buckshot through it at the range. Not much kick when held right and fun to shoot. Had some initial jamming issues at the range and returned it to Mossberg who immediately sent it back with a brand new barrel. When I go to the range with it now I try to put 25-30 fast rounds through it just to see if I can get it to jam and it has been great. So food for thought before you put your families life on the line, take your weapon of choice to the range each and every time you go to shoot your pistols or rifles and shoot a box of 25 or more shells through it just like you do with your other firearms. Shotgun shells are dirt cheap at Walmart so take advantage of it to the point you get proficient with it as you are with your CCW weapons.

  42. I agree with the concept that a full load 12 ga may be over the top in the home. I use a Mossberg 500 in 20ga. Less blast/recoil, etc. Also available are lighter loads–even half loads. It might be possible to review a Mossberg .410 ga with one of the “spreader” chokes. Clever idea. Never fired one myself. Remember, one major consideration is over-penetration through dry wall, floors, etc. Lets not hurt the neighbor folks while we control intruders.

  43. Bull, I’m a big time shotgun expert and in my experience none are more unreliable than the Mossberg, its that there’s so many better shotguns out there, and to put it as #1 someone has there head up there ass

    • Bull, If you’re a big time shotgun expert, I’m a rocket scientist. When a blowhard starts out telling us they are an expert, you immediately know that what they say will be worthless.

  44. I have the Mossberg 930 Tactical – 8 Shot SPX – Pistol Grip. . . . works for me

  45. Being on the receiving end of a 1 1/8 ounce 12 gage slug would ruin anyone’s day. I like my 870 Riot Gun or my 45 for HD. I have mags and extra shells hidden all around the house. Also, I’m a fan of #4 Buck, not 00.

  46. Well, I’ve read through all the comments, and the only consistency here is that everyone has their favorite, and it’s better than the other guy’s favorite. So be it……use what works for you.

    If you want to know what works for me, break into my house unannounced with evil in your heart, and I’ll show it to you…………..up close and personal…

  47. I don’t post very often, but since all the above comments mostly pertain to choice of firearms and ammo, most of you seem to miss the mark.

    I’ve always been under the impression that in a gunfight or defense situation placements is what counts.

    Since your goal is to stop the BG, and his death is a secondary ingredient, it appears that most of you have missed the mark. Sorry for the bad pun.

    In these days, with so many wearing ballistic plates that cover the “critical center mass” area, a well or not so well placed head shot will be just the thing to have all hostilities cease, immediately.

    Whether the round is a .380 to an eye or a 12 ga. to the face, this should work almost all the time. I’m not saying that a head shot is primary, but I’ve been practing triple taps (2 center mass, one head) for the past year or so awsome.
    In my opinion, this the correct way to go, short of using a Ma Duce, which most of us don’t have under our beds.
    The weapon of choice for me is my customized .45 1911, shooting Federal 230 gr HST +P, great ability for the necessary follow-up shots and only makes you half-deaf and blind. Like a 12 Ga or .44 mag.
    Feel free to critics me, but I really feel that’s the way to go.

  48. …And yet one of the most highly desirable HD choices should have been the Kel-Tec KSG with it’s short barrel, easy to handle, manually select-able dual tube feed, 14+1 capacity 12ga! And yet it didn’t even make the cut……WOW!?!?!

  49. I’ve read so much false information in this article and the comments that followed that I had to post a comment.
    First let me say that I’m a former POST firearms instructor that attended the FBI’s Instructor school and several Armorers schools. I was a patrol car cop, Narcotics Agent, Firearms Instructor that instructed a 600 person dept. and also taught at the LSU law enforcement academy. I lost two partners in uniform patrol.
    Let me address the posting about you not being able to hear after firing shots inside. That is pure BS as like Elmer Keith, I’ve Been There Done That on more than one occasion. Your body has a built in focus meter so to speak. When you are in a stressful situation and you fire a gun, you only hear a muffed sound, not the full blast effect like being on the firing range and letting off 357 magnums. All guns give off a subdued pop,pop,pop sound.
    If you fire a shotgun indoors, chances are the shot will be stopped by your target or your walls. The same can’t be said about a rifle round which can easily kill your neighbor.
    As a street cop, I can tell you that I put a stop to hundreds of encounters with the bad guys by simply jacking in a round from my Ithaca 37 or Remington 870. Remember that the Ithaca has no sear disconnect and it will fire if your finger is holding down the trigger. More than one squad room has wall or ceiling damage from that mistake.
    Well I’m going to step off this soap box, Be safe and remember that perfect practice makes perfect shooter!!!

  50. The Benelli is a work of art. The Marines seem to do well with it. The price is high, but mine has appreciated about $500 since I bought it. There are always those who value quality. Any pump shotgun (especially the KSG) has massive recoil. Those well trained to handle recoil should do fine. But the lower recoil of the Benelli is a game changer for those of us not designed for the NFL or Sumo wrestling.
    Therefore second and third shots are fast AND accurate. The soft shooting is what really sold me.
    I like pistols and rifles too, for HD. My son was kidnapped from my house about five years ago. I now have all three within an arms length when I’m home, and a rifle and a pistol when I’m out.
    I agree with most above that the weapon of choice should be what you have and practice with.But if you have the wherewithal to buy top grade weapons, there IS a difference. An old beater car will get you where you need to go. So why do so many people choose more comfortable, safe and reliable vehicles? They’re nicer and more fun. If all you care about is shooting your weapon a few times and the letting it sit under the bed, until the day comes when it’s needed, money becomes more relevant. If you like fine weapons, and you like to take them out and actually shoot them for fun, Benelli M4 fills the bill for me.

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