Your looking for best shotguns for home defense and you’ve come to the right place. But let’s talk quickly about why a shotgun is the right choice for home defense.
When I’m at home, I feel secure. Not because of the glass windows that stand between me and the ferocious and unpredictable world outside. Not because of the locks on my doors (that can be picked at will by skillful hands). Do I rest easy because I know that I have a portable safe inside of which lie two handguns that are preloaded? No.
Let’s be real, when it comes to home defense, two handguns locked away in a safe aren’t gonna do me (or anyone) much good. If a hypothetical intruder comes into my home, I won’t have the time to grab my keys, unlock the safe, and take the safety off one of my handguns before an intruder is on me.
That won’t do.
And that is why I keep a tactical shotgun inside of a false bottom on my bed board. When it comes to home defense, there is no substitute for the sheer accuracy and power of a shotgun.
Of any household weapon, the best home defense shotguns offer the deadliest action per trigger pull, all but guaranteeing that a threat will be neutralized.
But that’s not the only reason I prefer a tactical shotgun to other home defense equipment. In the following article, I will break down what a tactical shotgun is, how it works, why I think it trumps most other weapons on the market, and how to spot the weaknesses of a home defense shotgun and rectify them.
Additionally, I will discuss my favorite tactical shotguns, and why I think they’re the right shotguns for your home defense needs.
So, you might be wondering how a tactical shotgun differs from a traditional hunting shotgun. Well, there are several key differences, particularly the features that a tactical shotgun has that a hunting shotgun doesn’t have.
These include all of the following:
Pump or Semi-Automatic Operation
Shotguns come in a wide variety of forms from bolt action or pump action to semi-auto or even lever action. There are single barrel shotguns and double barrel shotguns. Of these disparate versions, only the semi-auto or pump-action shotguns are really appropriate for home defense purposes. These are the most expedient forms of operation for a shotgun, delivering the fastest action and, in my opinion, the best results.
This barrel length makes for a shorter weapon and a more defensive shotgun. One that is more concealable than others and more ergonomic. A shotgun with an eighteen to twenty-inch barrel is also easily maneuverable when used indoors or in other confined spaces. 18 is the shortest legal barrel for a shotgun if you don’t have a tax stamp and/or federal registration. I’ll go into this further down below.
A sling enables the user to attach the weapon to their body, which comes in handy if you need to free up your hands for a little ass-whoopin’. If you’re in a home defense situation where you need to get your family to safety, you’re gonna need your hands to perform other tasks besides pulling the trigger. It’s in this kind of scenario that a sling mount proves out to be of paramount importance.
12 or 20 gauge caliber
12 gauge is the gold standard when it comes to shotgun caliber, particularly if you are using a semi-auto tactical shotgun. It is, by far, the most powerful I’ve encountered and might be your best option.
That being said, it does make your shotgun heavier, which can be cumbersome, especially with the intense recoil it delivers. For those looking for something a bit lighter but fairly potent, the 20 gauge is a good option.
A Decent Set o’ Sights
The majority of shotguns come with a tiny bead at the end of the barrel(s) that serves as a built-in sight. While this can be adequate in controlled situations, and for basic function, but if you want to get the most out of a shotgun, especially in a home defense scenario, it is helpful to have a front and rear sight. For even better accuracy, you can also get yourself a red dot.
Shotgun Shell Size
A shotgun shell is pretty damn big, which is why shotguns are fairly limited in their capacity. 4+1 shells are effective in most cases, but something closer to 7+1 will make a real difference, giving you a home-field advantage as it were.
If you’re using your shotgun for any kind of combat, a stock is a must. A lot of people like a pistol grip because it gives the gun a groovy look, but I prefer a shoulder stock. It can make for more accurate shooting and handles better in my experience.
Shotgun vs Handgun Home Defense – What Can a Shotgun Do That a Handgun Can’t?
Why do I prefer a shotgun for home defense purposes?
Difference situations call for different measures, and I, for one, can’t tell you how convenient it’s been to spray scavengers and other pests with birdshot when I catch them messing with my crops or marking my territory.
When I go hunting, I always take buckshot with me. Like birdshot, each load is filled with pellets, but these pellets are larger, which makes them ideal for bagging some large game, all but guaranteeing that I’m going to come back to the fire with meat for days.
And, of course, when it comes to home defense, it’s this dude’s opinion that you can’t really go wrong with slugs. They’re generally more powerful than other projectiles and more solid.
These were the babies I had preloaded in my Remington 870 when Hurricane Sandy struck, and we were all plunged into a situation that was straight out of a horror movie.
The power was out for nearly two months on my block, and Neighborhood Watch was in a panic. People were looting, posing as utility workers for the purpose of home invasions – and the rest of us were scared.
Most of us, anyway. But not my family.
We had a generator chained up to two cinderblocks in our garage with extension cords running into the house through a crack in our back door. The door was secured with a piece of wood, something that kept it from budging but not for long if someone were to try and break in.
That’s why I had my Remington at the ready. During the night, my brother and I heard the chain on the generator rattle. I sprang up and ran down the stairs, yanked the wood out from behind the door, and trained the barrel of that Remi on the darkness of our backyard.
The sound of the rattling ceased, and all I could hear were the soles of someone’s shoes padding frantically into the distance and then…nothing. Silence. Crisis and crime averted. Our generator was safe, and so were we.
Always Come Loaded For Bear
When we talk about a tactical shotgun, we’re talking about one thing and one thing only: Eliminating the threat.
This is why you should always be fully loaded and ready for action. Slugs or buckshot are the only options I consider appropriate for defensive measures.
Choosing your ammo should be no problem, as nearly all major shotgun ammunition companies offer defensive ammo for shotguns. And while shotgun ammo can be somewhat expensive in terms of per round price point, there are affordable options on the market if you’re willing to do your research.
What’s important to remember is that you can’t put a price on good ammunition (that’s the manufacturer’s job). Quality shotgun ammunition is more effective than a sub-par product. Period.
If you’re shopping on a budget, sites like LuckyGunner.com specialize in cheap bulk shotgun ammo, but some people like to buy their ammunition from more established retailers like Midway USA.
Personally, I like to use Brownells to search for current ammunition deals, which they run often. It can be a good resource for finding affordable ammunition in bulk.
Tip: do a Google search for “Brownells coupon,” as they regularly put out new coupons on social media.
Price points range wildly across brands and types of ammunition. My favorite home defense ammo has gotta be Winchester PDX1 12 Defender. It causes a bit more recoil than other ammo, but it makes for a heavier shotgun load. It fires three plated buck pellets followed by a rifled slug.
If I’m using a 12-gauge shotgun, I’m using the Defender. When you’re talkin’ bang for your buck, this one has got it as far as I’m concerned.
You can learn more about Winchester PDX1 12 as well as other home defense ammunition in this informative YouTube clip:
The average price point for this brand is around $1.40 per round. There are plenty of cheaper options, but I like this brand for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it was tested by the FBI to ensure that it would stand up against serious threats in the real world.
When it comes to a home invasion, you are dealing with a situation that calls for close-quarters combat. As such, you need to act quickly and neutralize your opponent as fast as you can. That’s why I think that the shotgun is head and shoulders above a handgun.
The shotgun rules because it covers more ground and packs more of a whollip. When it comes to an indoor firefight, that’s the bottom line. Get ‘er done and get ‘er done fast!
Top-Notch Tactical Shotguns: The Best of the Best
When it comes to selecting a shotgun, you only want the best of the best, and there can be only one top contender.
Here are my 5 favorite home defense shotguns:
Benelli M4 [Top-the-line-Option]
Mossberg Maverick 88 [Budget Option]
Remington 870 [Trusted, Long Time Favorite]
KEL-TEC KSG 12 GA [Affordable and Reliable]
Mossberg 500 All-Purpose Field [Most Versatile]
Let’s take a look at what makes each of these shotguns special.
1. Benelli M4
As far as I’m concerned, the Benelli M4 holds that spot, hands down!
At $1,700 plus, it’s a pricey option, but it’s also a piece of craftsmanship that’s worthy of respect. The build quality and design integrity are clear as soon as you unwrap it.
The Benelli M4 has an extended magazine and an ARGO (Auto Regulating Gas Operated) system. This one’s got a pistol grip, but it’s also known for its no-fail reliability, and it can be modified to have a collapsible stock, which can be great for maneuvering.
When I was in the market for a semiautomatic shotgun, this was the first choice on my list, and I was glad that I picked one up. It fires like a dream, and I haven’t had any problems with it since the day it arrived.
Times are tough, and not everyone can afford a top of the line Benelli shotgun. For those who are in the market for something less expensive, I always recommend the Mossberg Maverick 88. It sells for $189.99 to $205.99 on average, and I like to think of it as one of the best pump-action shotguns for beginners.
The Mossberg shotgun has a durable synthetic stock and a cylinder bore choke. Another thing I like about it is that it comes with an interchangeable barrel. In my family, we like to modify our guns by hand, so I always look for features like that one in a home defense gun.
3. Remington 870
As I mentioned earlier, my go-to gun for home defense is my trusty Remington 870. It’s a middle-of-the-road shotgun in terms of price (I got mine for $344.99 from SportsmanGuide.com), and I find it to be lightweight and easy to handle.
It has all the features I’ve come to look for in a tactical shotgun, including an 18.5-inch barrel and a 3-inch chamber. As far as pump-action shotguns go, this is the one for me.
Of course, there are other, cheaper defense shotguns on the market, one of them being the Stevens 320 Security Shotgun, but I can’t say I’m crazy about the shape of that one, and I don’t trust the Stevens name the way I trust the Remington name.
Remingtons have been in my family for decades upon decades, and it’s clear from how long they’ve been around that they must be doing something right.
4. KEL TEC KSG
This is considered a 12 gauge shotgun and has become increasingly popular with those gun owners who are looking for a 12 gauge shotgun that is higher in performance. The KEL TEC KSG shotgun has great pump-action, and it can work with two different types of ammo. This shotgun has a strong and high-quality construction that delivers when it comes to reliability, and it can work with different types of ammo. One downfall is jamming, which has been reported by a few people that have used it.
The KEL TEC shotgun comes in at slightly over $1000 and has a 12+1 capacity round, 18.5-inch barrel length, and titanium finish.
5. Stoeger Model P3000 Tactical Pump Action Shotgun
The Stoeger Model P3000 shotgun offers the reliability you need when looking for the best shotgun for home defense. This shotgun offers precision.
Its rotary bolt increases its strength and allows for near-flawless feeding and extraction. It has an 18/5-inch barrel allowing for improved balance. Its blade front sight allows you to aim at your target.
Tactical Shotgun Drawbacks & Easy Fixes
As with almost anything, some cons go along with the pros. Home Defense Shotguns have some innate weaknesses. I guess you could say.
If you are buying a shotgun for home defense, you must ascertain these weaknesses and learn how to prevent such drawbacks from affecting your intentions.
The best way to counteract a shotgun’s weak spots is to train thoroughly.
Here are the three most common drawbacks to tactical shotguns:
Lower Ammunition Capacity
The average combat shotgun can only contain a maximum of 8 rounds at one time. A lot of people prefer a gun with a magazine, but most combat shotguns are tube-fed models.
The pro to this con is that you aren’t fumbling around with a full magazine, which makes the gun less bulky and more dependable.
If you want to make lemonade outta lemons, that’s the best way to look at it. The other way is to acknowledge that a feeding system can often be more reliable than a magazine that can jam.
In a home defense situation, it is ideal for firing once and firing accurately. Still, if you find yourself in an extended firefight where you’ve blown your entire shotgun load, you want to be able to top yourself off in a timely manner.
This is why it is important to train when you first pick up your combat shotgun. It is a good practice to ensure that your gone will never go dry in the face of danger.
A simple tactic for ensuring that you stay loaded is to fire two shells and then load two more. This establishes a rhythm that keeps your gun constantly replenished. Always keep extra ammo on hand for this purpose.
In my case, I keep two boxes at my feet between my bed and my bedside table. In the event of a home invasion, I know that I’m covered because I have two in the chamber that I can fire immediately before rolling on to the floor and grabbing up my reserves.
The number one thing I tell all shotgun beginners is this: Keep your weapon loaded! In a home defense situation, you want to maintain the element of surprise. The last thing you want a would-be intruder to hear is you pumping your shotgun.
The only time he or she should hear you pumping your gun is after you’ve already fired off a round in their ass. The first shot is what counts.
Short Range Home Defense Shotguns
Shotguns have a shorter range than rifles with buckshot, usually traveling no further than 30 to 35 yards.
Slugs aren’t much better in terms of range, either. With a slug, you’ll be lucky if it can reach 100 yards in a defensive situation.
For this reason, it is integral that you make every yard count. This is another area in which training will get the most out of your shotgun. Every shotgunner should practice controlled breathing and using their sights.
Don’t be fooled by that old chestnut about it being impossible to miss with a shotgun.
Remember: People are as unpredictable as your aim.
One false shot and your intruder can be out the door or up in your face with a Bowie knife or a gun of their own.
Another way to adjust for the shotguns short-range is by testing different loads to determine which one is tightest out of your gun. Patterning a shotgun is integral to controlling the distance the pellets can cover.
Best SHOTGUN for Home Defense Buyer’s Guide and Summary
So, why choose a shotgun for home defense, you ask? Why not is the answer. With a shotgun, you have better ammo versatility. This means that you can use birdshot, buckshot, and slugs.
Let’s review these home defense shotguns ammunition types one more time:
Birdshot loads are filled with multiple pellets. They are small pellets, which means you can load a lot more into the shell at a time. Birdshot isn’t necessarily what you want to have for home defense, however. Simply put, it is just not going to be enough to neutralize any threat at the home. So, if you find yourself in a home invasion situation, you will find it has a very limited range.
Buckshot is the ammunition most homeowners prefer because you can deliver 16 pellets at over 1000 feet per second. Unlike birdshot, buckshot can go through the walls and is far more lethal. It is effective for out to 50 yards.
Slugs are larger and have the longest effective range. They can reach up to 100 yards and even further if you have the right shotgun. While slugs can be used for home defense, they can easily penetrate multiple walls in the interior of the home. So, you need to keep this level of penetration in mind when choosing slugs for home defense.
Shotgun Barrel Length
One of the biggest differences between a hunting shotgun and a tactical shotgun used for self-defense is the length of its barrel. I already mentioned this above, but remember, a longer shotgun in an indoor environment like the home can be harder to maneuver.
Again, under US federal law, the minimum barrel length for a shotgun is 18-inches, and the minimum overall length is 26-inches. So, stay close to these numbers for a shorter barrel and better maneuverability.
Shotgun Action Type
For home defense, you want a shotgun that can operate faster than the one you may use while hunting. So, the decision between pump-action and semi-automatic needs to be made. Semi-automatic are faster and have a lighter and less recoil. However, you may also be limited to the ammo you can use.
With a pump action shotgun, you have to manually pump the shotgun for each shot. In a home defense scenario, this may not be ideal. You want your home defense weapon to be fast and effective.
Home Defense Shotguns Sights can also significantly help when dealing with a short-range weapon. That’s why I always use a Trijicon MRO red dot. It’s kind of a foolproof way of training your shotgun on its target. When you’ve got the red bead on them, you know exactly where and when to fire.
As anyone who has ever used a firearm can tell you, the blowback can be startling and pretty fierce. This is true of handguns and hunting rifles, of course, but it’s even more true of combat shotguns.
I like to joke that for every box of ammo I buy, I buy twice as many bottles of Icy Hot. That’s because the recoil from a tactical shotgun can do a real number on your shoulder. The recoil from a 12-gauge can be intense, to say the least.
Fortunately, some options can minimize this problem. Proper stance is a key factor in the minimization of the blowback effect.
The appropriate way to stand when firing a shotgun is erect with your weight balanced slightly forward and with your shoulders relaxed.
That last part may be hard to master in the moment (you’ve got a stranger invading your home), which is why home defense shotgun training is vital. Practice makes perfect, and, in this case, it will make for muscle memory that could save your life or the lives of your loved ones.
With your feet six to nine inches apart, one leg back and one forward, you should point your front foot at your target. Your neck should be slightly craned forward, and your shotgun should be between your shoulder and your face.
Hey everyone I'm Chris. Founder and editor at Gun News Daily. This site was originally started by my father who passed it on to me. Gun News Daily has been reporting on gun news and conservative politics since 2001. We are the original gun news source. Life-long Second Amendment Supporter.