We’ll be taking a look at some of the best tactical shotguns you should have in your home. For the purpose of home-defense, form factor, reliability, and ease of use are of utmost importance and could be the difference between life and death.
With this in mind, I’ve narrowed our options down to only 5 shotguns. Now, I will not bore you with all the specifications and focus more on the user’s experience since the gun is only as good as the user.
Of course, some may argue that a pistol may be a better home-defense weapon, and I agree. However, I will not make a case that shotguns are your go-to home-defense gun. Everyone has different needs and styles, and so their ideal choice of firearms varies accordingly. My recommendations are for those who believe that shotguns would work best for them in such a situation.
However, I also need to point out that many people choose a shotgun for this purpose. All my shotgun recommendations are 12-gauge, which is suitable for 99% of the people already. Of course, I won’t ignore the recoil-sensitive shooters or those who are not physically capable of taking the kick from these shotguns. For those, I say that shotguns chambered in 20 gauge or smaller would work best.
But my recommendations may not make much sense to some people unless we go over the things that make a shotgun a good home-defense firearm.
First, let’s go over the basics. For home-defense, you want to have a shotgun that is portable, reliable, and comes with an option to add a flashlight. The gun needs to be rather small so that you can maneuver it in the tight space of your dwelling. This is why a 30-inch barreled duck gun wouldn’t make for a good home-defense gun unless you live in a mansion.
Reliability here means that the gun needs to shoot and hit your target when you pull the trigger. The last thing you need is the gun jamming or otherwise doesn’t work when you’re 10 feet away from your target.
Having a flashlight mounted to your gun helps you identify the figure in the dark as it could be a family member, a neighbor, or a robber. You need to know who it is before you pull the trigger, after all. If it is a threat, the light should blind them for a few seconds, giving you the precious moments to place a well-aimed shot and incapacitate your target, putting an end to this decisive confrontation in a matter of seconds. If your shotgun doesn’t have a Picatinny rail, consider getting some aftermarket light mounts. Having a light is crucial. Other than that, I’ve seen a lot of people who are concerned about the sights on their HD shotgun. I’ll tell you right now that ghost ring sights are good, but they’re not mandatory for home-defense. A traditional front bead sight works fine if your target is just across the room. Go with the one that works for you.
This includes all of its variants such as the 870 Express or 870 Express Tactical. This is one of the most popular shotguns in America and it has seen widespread use. I can say that over half of the law enforcement use this shotgun, so if it works for them, it also works for you.
There is a budget variant of the 870 called the 870 Hardwood Home Defense. As the name suggests, this un-bedazzled shotgun comes with a wooden stock and under four bills. If you want to spend a bit more, you can get one with a six-shot magazine. Now that’s value right there.
Similar to the Remington 870, Mossberg shotguns also make up a large portion of the law enforcement shotgun market. Your options for firearms include the Mossberg 500, which is a decent shotgun. However, it would be better if you can get your hands on the 590 or even the 590A1.
The 590 has better magazine capacity with its upgraded magazine tube. The 590A1 is a better option thanks to its heavier barrel, metal trigger guard and assembly, and a metal safety. If magazine capacity is a concern for you, consider getting the 590M. This variant comes with a detachable box magazine and this gives you ten rounds of ammo capacity. Of course, with more ammo capacity comes more weight, so you need to decide whether the tradeoff is worth it.
If any of these options seem too expensive for you, Mossberg has some offerings for budget-minded individuals. The Maverick 88 series like this one. For a budget shotgun like this, expect to see some corners cut.
For one, you will have to give up the sling swivels and make do with the synthetic buttstock and a basic bead sight. Although I haven’t seen or heard of any reliability issues, I also haven’t seen anyone putting them through a 300-round shooting test. At this price point, I don’t expect it to be as durable as the 590. Still, if you’re on a tight budget, this will serve you well. If you want to get a Mossberg shotgun, stick with traditional stocks. It is not a good idea to get a shotgun with a tang safety and a pistol grip since you would need to abandon your strong hand grip.
If you’re worried about short-stroking your pump-action, then you go semi-auto. For this, you have the Mossberg 930, a budget semi-auto 12-gauge shotgun with 8+1 round capacity. The 930 has some of the lightest recoil impulses of all semi-auto shotguns out there. The only downside is that it doesn’t do well with light birdshot loads until broken in. You’ll be fine if you roll with buckshot loads or slugs of any power, though.
One thing people worry about semi-auto shotguns is their problems with cycling low brass shells. This is where the Benelli M2 and M4 excel. “What about the Benelli M1?” you might ask. It is discontinued and a bit finicky with a lighter load. Some M1 owners reported that their guns can cycle anything down to heavier birdshot. However, you might have problems using lighter loads (buckshot included) with an affixed light. Moreover, it suffers from reliability issues if you use a cartridge holder mounted to the receiver. For all the above reasons, I just cannot recommend the Benelli M1. However, Benelli ironed out all these issues with their M2 and M4, which I highly recommend for home-defense.
Beretta is known for making excellent shotguns, and this holds true with their new offering: The Beretta 1301. This is the gun that made a lot of pump-action shotgun crowd reconsider their purchase option and belief in semi-auto shotguns. The 1301 uses Beretta’s BLINK gas system, which gives it a lightning-fast cycling speed with less recoil and fouling compared to other platforms.