best tactical shotgun home defense pump
Nick Leghorn for TTAG
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best tactical shotgun home defense pump
Nick Leghorn for TTAG

We won’t start the whole “which type of gun is best for home defense” debate here. We might as well throw gasoline on the comment section fire by talking about GLOCK vs. 1911, 9mm vs. .45 ACP or .308 vs. 6.5 Creedmoor. Let’s save those for another day.

The fact is, lots of people still gravitate to shotguns for home defense, just as they’ve done for generations. That’s because they’re generally simple to use, take a wide range of ammunition and are devastatingly effective. There are few home- or self-defense situations that a shotgun loaded with OO buckshot won’t solve.

The most popular shotguns for home defense are generally affordable pump action guns. Again, they’re very simple to operate. Just about anyone can figure out how to use one in about five minutes’ time (don’t wait for a break-in to shoot your shotgun for the first time). And, they’re generally more affordable than semi-automatic shotguns.

All of the big makers produce “tactical” versions of their post popular pump shotguns that are perfect for self-defense use. These models feature shorter barrels (between 18 or 20 inches) for easy maneuverability, synthetic stocks for durability, and generous capacity.

Some models are available in smaller gauges if you’re looking for something with less recoil, but mosty buyers opt for 12 gauge so that’s what we’ll deal with here.

Some tactical shotguns have traditional grips and some have pistol grips. Some models have ghost ring sights mounted while others sport the usual open sights with a brass bead or a bladed front site. We suggest you at least shoulder (even better, go out and shoot) a few to figure out which works best for you.

Most tactical shoguns don’t have interchangeable chokes, either. Their barrels are usually fixed cylinder bores to accommodate buckshot loads or slugs. Most will let you attach a Pic rail if you want to mount a red dot on your shotgun, too.

All the shotguns here are excellent, reliable choices that most shooters can easily afford and rely on. Some are made in the US, some aren’t. But they’re all scatterguns that you can feel good about grabbing should you ever hear that dreaded bump in the night.

While there are some excellent tactical semi-automatic shotguns (and even tactical double barrel guns) on the market, we’ll cover those in another post. The focus here is on easily-affordable (under $400) home defense pump-action shotguns to protect yourself and your family.

And yes, we’ll stipulate up front that “best” is subjective. All five of these are great options, appealing to different buyers for different features and attributes. That’s why we present them in no particular order. It’s hard enough to whittle down the choices to the top five, let alone one single best shotgun on the market.


best tactical shotgun home defense pump
courtesy mfr

Remington 870 Express Synthetic Tactical

The granddaddy of them all is a gun your granddaddy very likely owned himself. Big Green makes a number of American-made tactical versions of their venerable 870 shotgun. You can pick the configuration that works best for you.

That said, we like the Express Synthetic Tactical’s feature set including its simple, point-and-shoot front bead, 18.5-inch barrel length and 6+1 round capacity (there’s a 5+1 version, too). Remington has a number of other configurations if ghost rings, Pic rails, or pistol grips are the way you want to go.

Oh, and if there’s something about the 870 you buy that needs tweaking, there are about a ba-zillion aftermarket options to improve or swap out every single part of your gun to make just what you want it to be.

best tactical pump shotguns
courtesy mfr

Mossberg 500 Tactical

The first question in the comments will probably be, why the Mossy over the 870? Or vice versa? The fact is, they’re both great American-made shotguns that will serve you long and well. One of the biggest deciding factors for some buyers is where they like their safety. The 870 has a crossbolt safety behind the trigger and Mossberg puts theirs on the tang at the back of the receiver. Potato, potahto.

The next question will no doubt be, why the 500 and not the 590 or 590A1? The fact is, you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you want the battle-tested 590A1, you can buy the 590A1. Mossberg makes a dizzying array of models with virtually any feature set and configuration you’re looking for.

The 500 Tactical shotgun, with its classic corn cob fore end, though, has a 20-inch barrel and will likely do everything you’ll ever need a home defense shotgun to do. Adjustable stock, standard or pistol grip, six-shot or eight-shot capacity, ghost rings or bead sight, heat shield or Pic rail…there’s a 500 made for anyone.

best tactical pump shotguns
courtesy mfr

Stoeger P3000 Freedom Defense

The Turkish-made Stoegers offer excellent features and reliability at a not insignificant savings. With its 18.5-inch fixed cylinder barrel, the P3000 lets you choose between 2 3/4 or three-inch loads and will easily handle buckshot or slugs.

The P3000 Freedom Defense also gives you as much as 7+1 rounds of capacity and an easily acquired bladed front sight at a price point that’s $50 to $70 less than similar American-made options.

Benelli Nova Tactical

The Italian-made Nova Tactical shotgun gun is a robust, ultra-reliable choice in a home defense gun that will handle anything you can throw at it. Its unique texturing on the grip and fore end is both comfortable and functional, ensuring a sure hold on the gun when you need it most.

The Nova Tactical gives you options as to sights (open or ghost ring) and its 18.5-inch barrel is a fixed cylinder bore. While it has a smaller capacity than the others here (4+1) the Nova is the only gun in the group that’s chambered to take 3 1/2-inch magnum shells.

best tactical pump shotguns
courtesy mfr

Winchester SXP Defender

The SXP Defender will chamber 2.75 or 3-inch rounds and has a chrome-plated chamber and barrel. Its 18-inch barrel makes for easy maneuvering and has a fixed cylinder bore to handle either buckshot or slugs. The classic corncob texturing on the fore end gives you a firm grip, even when racking the gun when it’s wet.

The Turkish-made Winchester SXP Defender is another very affordable option for someone looking for the reliability and punch a home defense shotgun provides at a price that’s easy on the wallet.



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  1. While I am not a dedicated Mossy fan, I shot a side by side for MANY years. I will always prefer the safety under my thumb. BTW, the safety under the thumb is inherently ambidextrous. NEAT!

  2. With a folder on it, I could really like that Benelli Nova…

  3. Remington 870 Marine with Magpul furniture and Surefire lighting.

    Only problem is I don’t do Remington anymore.

  4. “There are few home- or self-defense situations that a shotgun loaded with OO buckshot won’t solve.”

    True enough, if you know how to use a shotgun. If you don’t know how to use a shotgun then you write about ghost ring sights or bladed front sights or red dots. And you try to aim a gun that is designed to be pointed. (Notice that three of the shotguns pictured above have merely a front bead and no rear sight, because that’s all you need.)

    The beauty of using a shotgun for self-defense is that in that adrenaline rush, you will instinctively focus on the threat (target), which is how a shotgun is designed to be used. Sights just get in the way. Become a shotgunner first, then tool up with a smoothbore whoop-ass machine for home defense.

    • I’ve always found the idea of sights on a shotgun at home-defense distances to be a humorous solution in search of a problem.

      These people who need sights on a shotgun for home defense must live in a mansion that’s at least as large as Bill Gates’.

      • I keep my cylinder bore smoothbore deer barrel on my home defense 870, so it happens to have iron sights. But I can point just fine. 😉

      • “These people who need sights on a shotgun for home defense must live in a mansion that’s at least as large as Bill Gates’.”

        A simple laser isn’t useful?

        • Why? I don’t need sights on a pistol at home defense distances, why would I need sights or target indicators on a long arm at home defense distances?

          Grab a firearm, point it at center-mass, pull the trigger.

        • A simple laser isn’t useful?

          A laser is perfect for HD, … as long as it works. The only problem is they can be unreliable. Look at the reviews on Optics Planet and Amazon. Even the expensive ones seem to have a high rate of failure (20-40%). Either they don’t work out of the box, or they spontaneously stop working, or they stop working after a few recoils, or they don’t hold zero or they don’t have enough adjustment to zero in the first place.

          Crimson Trace seems to be among the best for the money but I have a Micro Tru Glo on my Shockwave and it has held up well. Maybe I’m lucky. It’s not very bright. Useless in daylight. Works well indoors or in a dimly lit range.

        • “Famous last words…”

          I reliably hit a little clay disc that’s moving at a little more than 40 MPH, coming out of a launcher that is at least 16 yards in front of me, 23+ times out of 25 with a shotgun with an IM or F choke. I’m at a point with a shotgun I don’t even look down the rib any more. I mount the gun into the sky where my brain tells me the clay is going to be and I mash down on the trigger. Poof. Clay gone. I don’t even remember what the sight picture looked like – my eyes are on the clay, not my gun – never mind the front bead or the rib.

          People who are obsessed with sighting systems for up-close shots need to engage in more practice without sights. I can hold a fist+ sized group on a target at 7 yards (on good days, longer than that) merely my looking at down the side of a pistol. No sights necessary.

          Let’s quit takling about guns and gun sights. At seven yards, with practice, you should be able hit someone in the face with a fist-sized rock 85%+ of the time. Does your hand have sights? Of course not. With more practice, you could hit someone in the face with a rock if they’re moving, too.

          How do you think a pitcher is able to launch a baseball into the strike zone of a batter who is standing 20+ yards away, reliably? Practice. Practice at close(r) ranges until the gun (whatever gun you so choose) becomes an extension of your native ability to throw some object and hit someone at close range with a hand-thrown object.

          It’s possible. It takes practice, but it is entirely possible, and it isn’t rare. Back in 1992, I took a 2-day course with Jimmy Cirillo. He used to teach students to tape over their rear sight on a pistol and put rounds into centers of targets just by glancing down the sides of the pistols – that’s where I learned that technique. He had lots of LEO’s and experienced pistol shooters who considered taping over the rear sight to be heresy. It took only about an hour of practice to make believers out of everyone on the firing line.

          Another technique is shooting for hits with muscle memory. At my height, if I hold my pistol extended at about the center of my chest, and I memorize what it feels like to shoot a level shot at someone who is also about my height, I’m going to hit a guy my size or a tad smaller who is standing up on level ground in the center of his chest. That’s another “no-sight” technique he taught us. Then Jimmy taught us how to move laterally across a target, holding our gun in a center-chest presentation, and make hits while we were moving across the targets – no sight usage was realistically possible. By this time, people’s skepticism had abated, and we were all making serious progress at moving while shooting at 7+ yards in a half-hour. With another hour of practice, some of us were jogging and flinging shots into the center of B-27’s, one-handed. No sight usage was realistically possible. Give your muscle memory and your primitive rock-throwing reflexes a chance, and you can surprise yourself. Cirillo’s class was an epiphany for me on the subject of ‘how to put rounds on a human-sized target’ under all manner of less-than-ideal situations.

          There are plenty of times to use one’s sights. There are all manner of sighting systems. eg, I use a red-dot sight on my S&W 41 at 50 feet for bullseye shooting. But at home defense distances (ie, inside your house, maybe 20 feet at most in many houses), you should strive to not need sights.

        • Replying to DG here…
          Fully agree with basically everything you said. With an appropriate amount of effective practice sights on pistols are just something to slow you down at inside the house distances with human sized targets. Sights also make hits on the move harder slower or impossible. That’s quite a bit of practice though…

          On to shotguns…inside the house…sights are totally unnessessary and anything beyond bead is
          mostly going to be a liability. Bottom line is that if it’s challenging to hit CoM on a human sizes target at inside the house ranges with a shotgun, different sights are not the answer, more practice is. I don’t think I’ve ever put anyone behind shotgun who couldn’t reliably hit half silhouettes at reasonable distances (10 yards) the very first try, and certainly never had anyone who couldn’t do it every time after a box of practice shells. HD shotguns don’t need sights. They will only get in the way or slow you down.

    • On the shotguns specifically for home defense, absolutely correct. Although I would highly recommend a very bright bead, fiber optic, or tritium front sight.
      On a duty shotgun that is an entirely different animal. Ghost ring rear and a front blade make complete sense, as ranges are likely to be much farther. Do you know what the distance between the front of the cab of an 18-wheeler and the back of a stopped patrol car is? It’s about 50 yards.

      • Agree on the distance to the front of a class 8 truck. For that situation, I’d want a ghost ring sight, and a barrel with a lengthened forcing cone, and some very gradual choke on the barrel over the length from the end of the forcing cone to the muzzle.

        One way to get this effect is to just call up Hans Vang and see if he has a barrel for your shotgun. The other way is to grab a non-chromed barrel, get some tooling for the forcing cone from Dave Manson, and then make a hone with a Sunnen stone and get or make a bore diameter indicator. Once you’re done honing & polishing, send it out for chroming (you can get black chrome now if you want it to be dark when you’re done).

        Working on shotguns for things like this is interesting work. You can get so much more out of a shotgun today if you understand where shotguns have come from, where they’re going, and what happens to shot/buck in the barrel.

      • “Do you know what the distance between the front of the cab of an 18-wheeler and the back of a stopped patrol car is? It’s about 50 yards.”

        Is that why cops carry rifles? Because that’s what I would want for such a situation. This article has “home defense” in the title.

        • Not all departments and all cars carry rifles. My dept uses no rifles, the only long arm they use is a shotgun.
          And yeah, that’s why I started with “On the shotguns specifically for home defense…”

      • The main reason a lot of us want a shotgun around is because we’re far more likely to need it for dispatching a fox, coyote or raccoon in the yard than a person in the house, and a ghost ring sight is very useful in that situation.

    • A nice, bright flashlight with a tight beam, mounted more or less in line with the barrel seems to do a great job on my Mossy 500 for telling me where most of the pellets will hit.
      The fact that the beam enlarges with range is also quite helpful. It’s not perfect, but inside a room, it’s more than OK.

      • I’ve used the flashlight technique extensively, to the point that I’ve marked the point on the flashlight where the adjustment for the spread of the beam coincides with the spread of my favorite 000 buck from my HD shotgun. It isn’t a precise science, but it’s more than good enough for the ranges involved and I wouldn’t hesitate to rely on it.

        • Until the batteries or the switch fails to work, because of neglect or that silent corrosion which often occurs between the battery + or – terminal and the spring-loaded only (i.e., not screwed in or on) contact point. How many times have you picked up a previously (like, in the last day or so) fully functioning and bright flashlight to find that the light was dim, or needed to be smacked to brighten up? All, I say again, all the time. So, rely on it? No, use it and have the above skills for when it inevitably fails, at precisely the worst time. You’re welcome.

    • Why do people think shotguns are are just point and shoot? I’ve seen people miss quite often using shotguns in high stress situations. Military and Police departments qualify on shotguns and use their sites to to qual, or end up driving for Fedup. Besides if you use slugs you’ll find out pretty quickly why sites matter.

  5. Excellent overview! I’m an 870 fan, but these are all solid choices.

    I wonder why picatinny rails aren’t standard on all “tactical” shotguns? It seems natural to want to mount a light and/or laser and/or red dot, and factory-included rails make that a LOT easier.

    Maybe the manufacturers don’t offer them standard because it would add to the cost, and they are trying to compete price-wise.

  6. I think the Ithaca 37 should be mentioned for being truly ambidextrous, with bottom-feed and ejection.

      • Actually very much inferior. Lighter weight makes perceived recoil much greater. And the Ithaca 37 is a pain in the arse to field strip to clean. Plus the company goes in and out of business every couple of years. Nice try; no cigar.

      • Make that a tripping-slipping hazard.

        Dropping roller bearings down at your feet where you will be walking seems questionable to me…

        • I’d hate to stomp a shotshell into a hard floor while barefoot, as I’m apt to be while dealing with an intruder at 4AM. Then again, by the time the shot shells are piling up at your feet the competition is likely in pretty bad shape as well. Everything is a compromise. It’s a gunfight….inherantly dangerous and all that.

        • I sleep barefoot. Home defense has a likelihood an intruder would come in at night, might get ya out of bed, might not give you time to put even flip flops on.

    • The Ithaca is certainly a nice option but I only own one pump gun – It is a 71 year old Winchester Model 12. I’m pretty confident that it will work fine if I need it.

    • other than the trench replica that begins as an ithaca i don’t remember them being touted or reviewed here. i stopped asking for reviews even though they make a 1911.
      solid steel receiver, ohio built now. if you have the means…
      oh noes, shells at my feet.

    • I have not seen an Ithaca 37 in years, and I HAVE been looking.

      Agree with the poster about attaching lights, we need a way to easily attach a light, or piece of rail to a basic 500 or 870

  7. HUGE fan of the Benelli SuperNova tactical here. My favorite shotgun for home defense, or any other job, by far.

    • 7 and 9 round tubes are readily available for the Nova/Supernova. Winchester makes a 3.5″ #4 Buckshot round with 54 pellets, which is twice what a 2.75″ will hold, but the velocity is only 2/3 (850 fps). 3.5″ is mostly for steel waterfowl or turkey loads, which I wouldn’t use for defense.

  8. The Mossberg 500, with a stock adjusted down so the length of pull fits your smallest shooter, paired with low-recoil buckshot (like Federal #1 Buck with FliteControl) is an inexpensive, high quality, and easy to shoot long-gun option for your whole family.

    I put together a youth model 20 gauge version for my younger sister when she wanted something to keep in her house. It’s a Super Bantam with an aftermarket recoil pad, and the vent rib barrel replaced by a smooth 18.5″ cylinder bore. It’s something I wish they sold retail.

    I still believe if you’re willing to spend a little more, an inexpensive and lightweight AR15 with an adjustable stock is practically universal for anyone with two hands.

    • +1

      If you are going the shotgun route for home defense AND want even younger family members to be able to operate it, then a youth model 20 gauge shotgun with short barrel and recoil pad is second-to-none.

      H&R Youth model Pardner Pump shotgun in 20 gauge is EXACTLY what I just described. You can purchase one brand new for under $180 and a LimbSaver recoil pad for about $20. Load it with Remington 5/8 ounce (273 grain) slugs which exit the muzzle around 1,500 fps and you have a guaranteed man-stopper.

  9. 590A1 shits on all the above pump guns. No other choice needed.
    Beretta 1301 Tactical for semi auto.

    • The Mossberg is actually the tu*d shotgun of the bunch. Aluminum alloy receiver contributes to much greater perceived recoil. Plastic safety is prone to breakage. Not nearly as smooth as the Remington 870, the undisputed KING of pump action shotguns. Nice try; no cigar.

      • I don’t think the 870 is king anymore. The Benelli SuperNova (admittedly a little more expensive than the Nova or a new 870, but you don’t want a new 870 anyway, you want an old one) has about half the perceived recoil with the ComforTech stock, a smoother action that’s harder to short stroke, resists corrosion and impacts far better, has a better forend that is easier to grip, and has a bigger ejection port combined with a magazine cutoff button for easy slug-buckshot switches without emptying the magazine first.

      • “Remington… undisputed KING”

        😂😂😂😂😂 maybe 40 years ago. You couldn’t give me one of their garbage guns today, ESPECIALLY not if I’m gonna possibly trust it with my life. Benelli or Mossberg (I own both and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either) ALL THE WAY. I’d take a freaking High Point over a current gen Remington

      • If you can’t manage shotgun recoil don’t use a shotgun. You seem to be quite scared of a little recoil from a shotgun. Man Up kiddo.

  10. Well, I’m not going to try & remember how many shotguns I have, but I do have several favorites I keep rotating every year at my house & Bear & Wolf infested Montana property, SKO Shorty – kicks like a mule, but a fun piece,,, Mossberg 500 – my grandkids like this one,,, KEL TEK – KSG – awesome, like this one a lot,,, I have a bull pup style called a UTAH – nice but heavy when fully loaded ,,,can’t remember how many long barrels hunting ones I have, but my all time favorite is my SAGA,,, really nice & dependable,,,but all Kalishnachov (can’t spell that word) weapons are very good…!

  11. I always wanted an Ithaca 37……………IF they would have placed the safety on the front of the trigger guard or as a thumb safety on the receiver, as did Mossberg. That would have made the gun truly ambidextrous and I would have one in several gauges.

  12. For the truly budget conscious I find the RIA M5 High Standard clones run pretty well. Ugly for sure, but just as reliable as any other pumps I’ve run.

    • If you want budget get a Maverick 88. I got the security model. Long mag tube, short barrel. 8 rounds on tap.

      • My dad has one of those, it’s got over 1500 rounds through it (birdshot, buckshot, and slugs) and he hasn’t had a single problem. For an inexpensive, no frills, dead reliable 12 gauge there’s nothing better

        • I kept a Maverick 88 in the trunk of a car for over a decade, shot it occasionally, never cleaned it, occasionally sprayed WD40 or whatever on and in it if it felt cruddy or looked rusty. It never failed to feed, fire and extract/eject, even though much of the ammo had also been stored in the trunk with it, for 10-15 years, in Ohio River Valley humid hot summers and cold wet winters.
          Guns are tough, factory ammo is tough, Maverick 88s are very tough and very reliable, and for my money the best deal in the SD HD shotgun world.

      • I agree completely. I have a pre-Freedom Arms 870P and a Mossberg Shockwave. They are both too expensive ( relatively speaking ) to relinquish to the cops after a HD scenario.
        The Maverick 88 is my go gun to for actually pulling the trigger on an intruder. My only personal quirk would be to replace the fixed stock with a Choate top folder.

  13. If you choose to stick with a 12 gauge shotgun for home defense, consider the Mossberg 500 pump-action series with the OpSol Mini Clip adapter that enables you to run Aguila MiniShells. Running MiniShells keeps recoil to a reasonable level and enables you load 10 MiniShells in the tube magazine that normally only holds 5 standard 2 3/4 inch shells.

  14. Something that should be said about the Mossberg 500: if you want to change the forend or increase the capacity, just get the 590. It’s difficult to change those items on the 500.

    Oh, and in case anyone is wondering…
    GLOCK > 1911
    9mm > .45 ACP
    6.5 Creedmoor > Everything

  15. We went with an Emperor MPTAC12 for well under $200. It came with rails top and bottom and now has a tac light on the bottom rail. It sits beside our bed at the ready.
    I know, it’s a cheapo. However, it goes bang every time, it racks and feeds shells just fine and it was easy on the budget. And it included rails.

  16. One location in the house has a Mossberg 500 with the 18.5″ barrel. Owned that one forty years, works great.

    Another location has my Mossberg 590A1. Built out of used parts, but works smooth as can be. Even has the bayonet, which was not expected just included in the parts I picked up. But I leave the pig sticker on the shelf.

    Alien Vampire Zombie Virus Apocalypse?

    Yup, I’m covered, it’s all good.

  17. I’ve never heard a serious argument against the Mossberg 500 youth bantam series pump shotgun. 3″ chamber, .410 bore, 6 shell capacity, capable of delivering three to five buckshot into an attacker at massive muzzle energy. It’s light, easy on recoil, report, and follow up shots; usable by nearly everyone in your household. Its hard to beat that.

  18. People here seem to like the Mossy 500 and I used to own one, for about a week and a half. That’s when I took it out to the range the first time and found that about one out of four rounds wouldn’t cycle properly. Took it out the next day with the FFL man who sold me the gun and it didn’t work properly for him either. Got it traded off for a Remington 870 with a seven shot extension and a folding stock and had it ever since, going on 40 years now.

    • 40 years ago I’d have agreed with you. But nowadays the Mossberg rocks and the Remington don’t. Times do change. If I had the old school 870 I’d hang on to it. My Hunting mossberg 500 is 20 years+ old. And it still does the job.

  19. Is a Maverick88 OK?!? Honestly never shoot it. I’d grab my handgun(s) 1st and my AR after I shoot it more. But I’ll keep my shotgun for shtf…

    • It’s an excellent budget choice and it is one of only 3 weapons I don’t keep in my safe.

      My opinion comes from shooting at least 1000 clays with it and as using it as my test gun for my slug and shot reloads. I have the tactical rail saddle but I took it off because it’s better just as it comes stock.

    • Mine cost $260 out the door with 2 boxes of shells, I don’t shoot it all that much probably 200rds a year but it’s never given me any trouble. Great if your on a budget, buddy bought 1 after trying mine and loves it. Shoots his a lot more to, bonus is barrels are compatible with the mossberg 500.

    • See above:

      Ive owned and mistreated a few 88s over the years and found them to be 100% reliable, just really great guns for the money. If I were going to buy an HD SD shotgun today it would probably be an 88, I highly recommend them to anyone asking, and I’ve owned 870s 590s, and 500s. The 88 does everything an HD shotty needs to do and does it well. It’s got nothing you don’t need and everything you do. You’ve gotten lucky here, your 88 will very likely serve you well for life.

  20. How about the IAC 982 Hawk, a high quality 870 clone at a fraction of the price? I think some of the classics like the Winchester Model 1897 and Model 12 would be good candidates as well.

  21. Everybody knows that all you have to do to drive off an intruder is just rack the slide on a pump shotgun. It doesn’t even have to be loaded because just the sound is enough to send someone running. As a matter of fact, you really don’t even need to have a shotgun handy since all you really need is a recording of a slide being racked. Criminals and bad guys hate that sound and will run away once they hear it. ///sarc///

    • I did run a bad guy out of my house by racking a shotgun. I ran a bad guy off a friends property by simply appearing, shotgun in hand.

      If you can win a gunfight without firing a shot, you really win.

    • Every old wives’ tale has a grain of truth. Your basic smash and grab thug probably will run if he hears the kthump of your shot gun. He is running because of the sound. The sound is an indicator that someone is hone and he isn’t interested in finding out that you can out thug him.

    • Lol, careful with that: I can easily tell the difference between a dry shuck and the sound of a shell going into the chamber…and I bet I’m not the only one.

      • There was a round going into the chamber. I had small kids and in those days no one did safe storage with a safe. The gun had a loaded tube and empty chamber and was in the top of the bedroom closet.

        Bad guys don’t want a fight. They aren’t hollywood badguys or comic book super villains. They will scamper if they can.

        • Yeah, you mustn’t leave a “hammerless” shotgun with a loaded chamber because by def. the hidden hammer is cocked and even placed high in a closet it’s dangerous as it may fall, etc. The only way is empty chamber. Which is why an actual Win 1897 or other hammer shotgun like a SxS coach type could make sense, more in a retail environment than a home, where you could leave the hammer down or on half cock (still not safe but not so enormously unsafe as the other) but surely never have a hammerless gun loaded and cocked with only the safety on.

  22. I’m poor, poverty level ( what most make a week is what Social security gives me a month), saving up my money for a Mossberg, I had an old 870 and looked at the new ones, so it’s Mossberg for me. I’d like to be a Winchester fan however their Ranger series soured me on Winchester. … So being as poor as I am that should say something for Mossberg.

    • Possum,

      Have you looked at the H&R Pardner Pump shotgun series? Available on sale brand new for about $180. And they seem to be pretty darned reliable as far as I can tell.

      One store near me was even selling the youth model 20 gauge for $125 brand new!

      • Thanx, I’ve got an H&R Pardner 410 single shot and other then the plastic trigger guard it’s a good firearm.

    • Your old 870 beats any pump you can buy new now. Quality used to be great on the old ones. Old 870 would be my pick for a home defense shotgun. Unless i used a Winchester M12. Shot them for trap shooting for so long would feel natural to me. But the old 870’s are more reliable.

      • Well, 870 has twin transfer bars, M12 only single, mebbe more reliable. But the M12 has the best and sweetest balance of any mechanical shotgun I’ve ever used, which may not entirely matter in home defense, actually. As I find myself forced to mention in a comment below, all modern Winchester pump shotguns, with the aluminum receiver and the “artillery” style lockup with the steel bolt and barrel, are total shit. Strong comment follows below.

    • Of course brand spank’n shiny new has its appeal. But do think about visiting local gun shops for a buy on a used Mossberg. You can save some dollars that way and still get a good dependable boomstick.

    • I highly recommend the Maverick 88 security. It is a Mossberg 500…with a 7 round tube and synthetic furniture, 20 inch cylinder bore 3 inch chamber…extreamly reliable, dual action bars on the pump, smooth enough…just great guns and less expensive than most other options.

  23. I live in a subdivision with thin fragile walls, but the houses are a bit further apart than those built in the last few years. For me, number four buckshot makes sense over an AR since there is much less of a chance of over penetration, no matter what the SWAT cowboys use.

  24. While a cylinder bore is usually best to accomodate buckshot or slugs, most types of slugs as well as all buckshot will shoot just fine through even a full choke.

    Of course if you are a marijunna bootlegger who is so pissed off at your landlord for closing down your unlicensed and unregulated marijunna grow (that is illegal under Oregon as well as Federal law) that you try to intimidate your landlord by shooting at his children, your scum sucking whore of an attorney can argue the Elmer Fudd defense. Said scum sucker can even missrepresent your brain damaged, drug addicted grandson as a “gun expert” to offer perjured testimony that attempting to shoot buckshot or slugs through a shotgun with a choke will cause the barrell to explode! This attorney and his “gun expert” can even cite the cartoons where Buggs Bunny shoves a carrot into the muzzle of Elmer Fudd’s shotgun as evidence.

    I need to test this theory on the attorney’s head.

    • No mention of the FN P-12? More expensive, but better made than the Remington or Mossberg. Includes a 18” chrome-lined barrel and chamber, plus it has the ability to swap chokes.

  25. The Tac-14 and Shockwave shorties make good home self defense pieces too. Easily stowed away and have the same actions as their big brother Remington and Mossberg counterparts. 3″ shells can be a handful depending on the load but 00 buck in 2 3/4 and BB/birdshot in 3″ handles like a breeze. Initially the 3″ shells didn’t seem to cause issues in firing (when I first got my wodden Tac-14) but I must’ve hit a hot load of Federal Slugs in 3″ and the trigger guard on my Tac-14 beats the hell out of middle finger. Last time I shot it blood was dripping from where the guard impact from repeated shots broke the skin. Still made consistent minute of badguy groupings on the target at 30 ft away so no biggie.

    • I prefer #4 buckshot for defense. It still has sufficient penetration, and the number of pellets x sectional area means more destroyed tissue than 00. 00 has highet sectional density, so it will travel further if long range is a concern.

      • My Mossberg 500 is always loaded with #4 Buckshot.

        My Mossberg 590A1 is always loaded with #00 Buckshot and slugs.

  26. Mossberg 590 with a bayonet. Yes that right. That’s the reason why I got it in the first place. If I have to pull security after a natural disaster at my house I think it gives an extra meaning to the statement, “Don’t F#ck with me or my sh*t!

    My Judge shotgun revolver by Taurus makes a good inexpensive option for a home defense, night stand, shotgun. Hornady critical defense, Winchester PDX or 00 buckshot are all great .410 loads. All in a hand gun!

    you can get after market bayonet mounts for any 12 Gage shotgun now from NC Star.

  27. I’ve used every shotgun on this list and none are anywhere close to the Winchester 1300 Defender that I’ve had since the early 90s. I had Sage combat shotgun sights installed ( rear ghost ring tritium front) and I had the barrel reamed and threaded for replaceable choke tubes, I always have a ” modified ” in it. Smoothest action I’ve ever ran. Completely reliable. I heard that the modifications that I had done were available from the factory later on, but I have never seen one so equipped.

    • This is my strong comment referenced above. My dear sir, I must disagree with you on every particular re the Win model 1300 Defender, the first shotgun I ever bought. I fell into the jive re the “fastest” shuck and the lack of needing a steel receiver because the bolt was like a rotating artillery piece bolt into the steel barrel, etc. etc. I also looked at the Rem 870 and was (ignorantly) put off by the simple way the bolt locked, only up into the notch on the inside of the steel receiver, considering this less secure than the Win (wrongly and stupidly), and so bought the cheaper Win. After a lot of shooting, mainly 00 9 pellet buck and 00 12 pellet magnum load (still 2 3/4″, boy does that extra pellets kick!) buck, I got rid of it, because of the tendency of the gun to short shuck, which means you don’t actually pick up a shell on reload you just think you have, then (for a defense shotgun, the second loudest sound) “click”. Indeed, the action, in an effort to have it be the fastest to unlock, required that you maintain opposite isometric pressure, pulling the stock into your shoulder and pushing against the sliding lever/pump handle to force it forward to slow it down so that you can manually full shuck it and thus ensure you’ve both ejected (which it never had a problem doing, it was the reload which routinely failed) and picked up a new shell on the forward stroke. In fact, you could hold it to your shoulder with only your right hand and fire, and the gun/action would indeed on its own from recoil alone move the handle back and eject the spent shell, but not far enough by about an inch or so so that if you didn’t further pull it back into the stops before pushing forward you’d short shuck, then “click”. Also, over time, the aluminum receiver started to ding on the action areas, although for a plain shotgun this would not have been disqualifying. Anyway, I found this totally unacceptable for a defensive shotgun, ok for slick quick shots on the skeet field, dumb as hell for defensive use. So, I got an 870 and never looked back. After firing you have to pull on the pump handle to eject, and push to reload, and it never fails nor needs “getting used to”. If I’d wanted a fast second shot, I’d have gone with a semiauto, and there the deficiencies I’ve catalogued would not have excluded the Win semiauto, but I still think I’d prefer the Rem steel receiver of the 1100. But for a pump, the 870 for these reasons, for me, beat the Win 1300 Defender in every way.

  28. Wow. A good old fashioned m500 vs 870 dust up. Haven’t seen one of these in about 20 years. Let’s do an article where we can see how far back we can get the gun/caliber debates going.

  29. Streetsweeper with 100 round rotary mag. Reload like; never.

    Oh, that’s right, lost in a tragic boat anchor incident.

  30. Everybody loves their own shotgun, and why not?! Shotguns are great. I love mine. Sights? “Aiming” a shotgun is instinctively simple, especially at home defense distances. Practice a little, don’t listen to “Shotgun” Joe Biden, and you’ll be fine.

  31. Rather crap list honestly

    No Mossberg 590A1, no FNH P12…
    But the 870 express is on there??

    Johnny freaking crisco

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