Best Self Defense Shotguns – My Top Four

Shot guns save lives, plain and simple. If you don't have one you are missing a key tool in your home defense or self defense arsenal. Here is a run down of my top four picks for a self defense shotguns.

Best Self Defense Shotgun
Self Defense Shotgun
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Manasquan, NJ –-(  No matter where you live in the USA in 2013 you have seen home invasions on the rise. For this reason and since the President's push for disarmament of the U. S. gun owner, I have had student after student ask me what is the best shotgun for self defense or home defense?

Shotguns make excellent guns for at home protection as they are easy to maneuver and simple to operate. Pump and auto loading shotguns with a barrel length of 18 to 22 inches is the optimum choice for self defense. They are completely reliable and stupid simple for most everyone but the most fanatical progressive to operate.

So I came up with my best four picks for the Top Four Self Defense Shotguns for reliable home protection.

My Top Four Self Defense Shotgun Short List:

Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Remington Model 870 Express Tactical Magpul Shotgun
Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Remington Model 870 Express Tactical Magpul Shotgun

Best Self Defense Shotguns – Remington 870 Pump Shot Gun:

The 870 is a classic self defense gun from back in the day and is still an easy goto weapon for anyone. In fact any of the 870 models will work just fine. I happen to like the Remington Model 870 Express Tactical Magpul Shotgun.

Remington Model 870 Express Tactical Magpul Shotgun:

From Remington: No task is too demanding and no challenge is too intense with our rugged, ultra-dependable and ever-expanding selection of tactical shotguns. Our lineup keeps growing to serve the needs of law enforcement, the military, competitive shooters and people defending their homes and loved ones.

When you're in the most demanding environments and every second counts, Remington's tactical shotguns give you the confidence and firepower to get the job done.


  • Tried and true 870 receiver milled from solid steel
  • 18.5″ barrel with extended tactical choke tube
  • Receiver and barrel features tough, weather resistant Cerakote coating
  • One piece magazine tube
  • Fully adjustable XS Ghost Ring Sight rain with removable white bead front sight
  • SGA Magpul stock
  • Spacer system for length of pull adjustment
  • Cheek risers for use with optics/raised sights
  • MOE fore-end with improved grip ergonomics
  • SuperCell pad reduces felt recoil by over 50%
Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Mossberg 590A1 TactLight Forend Shotgun
Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Mossberg 590A1 TactLight Forend Shotgun for self defense.

Best Self Defense Shotguns – Mossberg's 590 A1 Shotguns Series

Much like remington 870 series the 590 A1 has multiple models that we get the job of self defense done but I prefer the Mossberg 590A1 Tactical Light Forend Shotgun for the built in flashlight, an essential tool in your self defense kit.

From Mossberg: The forend houses an L3/Insight Technology light, (which you can buy separately and upgrade current shotgun) delivering 125 peak lumens, ambidextrous side touch pad operation with Temporary On, Fixed On, Strobe beam settings. Shock-resistant.

Mossberg's 590 A1 Shotgun KEY FEATURES:

  • 3″ Chambered Models in 12 Gauge
  • Heavy-Walled Barrels, Metal Trigger Guard and Safety Buttons Built to Mil-Spec Demands
  • 18.5 or 20″ Barrels, 6 or 9-Shot Capacities
  • Tri-Rail Forend and Tactical Light Forend Models
  • Free Gun Lock/10-Year Limited Warranty Included
  • Gauge 12
  • Chamber Size 3″
  • Capacity 6
  • Barrel 18.5″
  • Sights Bead
  • Chokes Cylinder Bore
  • Overall Length 39.5″
  • Length Of Pull 13.875″
  • Barrel Finish Parkerized
  • Stock Synthetic (Black)
  • Weight 7.5 lb
Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Arsenal’s SGL12 Semi-Auto Saiga 12-Gauge Shotgun
Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Arsenal’s SGL12 Semi-Auto Saiga 12-Gauge Shotgun

Best Self Defense Shotguns – Saiga 12-gauge Shotguns

Based on the ultra reliable gas operated action of the classic Ak47 rifle, the Saiga SGL Shotguns are a rock steady choice for self defense.

SGL12-07, Russian 12-gauge shotgun that incorporates a mil-spec original Russian buttstock, the new generation SAW type Russian pistol grip, and all the reliability that you expect from this Saiga shotgun with detachable magazine. Unlike aftermarket conversion shotguns, this factory manufactured unit does not have any unnecessary riveted holes on the sides of the receiver and does not compromise the integrity and value of your shotgun. Like our other SGL12 Shotguns, it has the same fit and finish as our SGL21 and 31 series rifles. Components include 922r compliant parts, mil-spec Buttstock, and trigger group. This variant features the new generation SAW type Russian pistol grip for a real comfortable grip with all the reliability that you expect from this Saiga shotgun with a detachable magazine. Unlike aftermarket conversion shotguns, this factory manufactured unit does not have any unnecessary riveted holes on the sides of the receiver and does not compromise the integrity and value of your shotgun.

K-Var is proud to sell FIME’s own 12 gauge Saiga shotgun. This Saiga 12 was manufactured at the Izhmash Factory in Russia and Imported through FIME Group, LLC in Las Vegas. This Saiga 12 is the perfect balance between price and added features for an extremely reliable semi-automatic shotgun.

Designed as an all purpose shotgun, this Saiga will deliver the unprecedented performance needed. Chambered in the versatile and functional 12-gauge round, this semi-auto shotgun has all the standard features seen on the original Saiga that allows it to operate in the harshest environments with virtually any type of ammunition. This rifle comes with a chrome lined barrel which allows the use of many different types of ammunition to include steel. FIME's Saiga 12 Is capable of cycling both 2 ¾“ and 3” magnum shells.

As with all Saiga 12's, this shotgun is not designed to use low pressure shells.

Saiga 12 gauges come standard with the bolt hold open feature. This allows for a quicker change time between magazines (ideal for hunters and self defense alike). With all of the available accessories on the market for these Saiga 12’s the possibilities are endless.

This shotgun was manufactured utilizing the Kalashnikov gas system. This gas system reduces the felt recoil dramatically and will be a guaranteed hit with every squeeze of the trigger. It will be capable of shooting in either a single shot operation, allowing use of all the gases in order to increase the velocity of the round or in the standard semi-auto mode.

As with all rifles and shotguns that K-Var offers these will be backed by FIME Group’s standard warranty, hunters, sportsmen, and persons interested in self defense can’t go wrong with this Saiga.

Summary: Saiga 12 Gauge shotgun, LE Variation, chrome lined smoothbore 19” barrel – This Saiga 12 was manufactured at the World Famous Izhmash Factory in Russia and Imported through FIME Group LLC in Las Vegas, Nevada. This semi auto shotgun is featured original and added features configuration from Saiga. Will shoot both 2 3/4 “and 3” magnum. Bolt-Lock option and One-Shot or Semi-Auto Adjustable Gas tube, Black Stock Set, Warsaw Pact length Buttstock, New generation SAW type Russian pistol grip.

Made using only new mil spec. parts.

SGL12 is shipped with one 5-round Russian magazine, cleaning kit, cleaning brush, oil bottle & a Saiga adjustment tool.

Saiga 12-gauge Shotguns KEY FEATURES:

  • Caliber: 12-gauge
  • Total Length: 978 mm (38 1/2 in.)
  • Barrel Length: 483 mm (19 in.)
  • Weight without Magazine: 3.11 kg (6.85 lbs.)
Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Hawk 12 GA. Pump Defense Shotgun
Making the Best Self Defense Shotguns short list: Hawk 12 GA. Pump Defense Shotgun

Best Self Defense Shotguns – Hawk 12 GA. Pump Defense Shotgun

The Hawk Model 982 is patterned after America's favorite 12 GA pump, (see if you can guess which one from the choices above) and features a machined solid steel receiver, an 18 1/2″ barrel with 3 inch chamber and an adjustable ghost ring sight. This traditional pump action model is fitted with polymer stocks with recoil pad and has a black matte finish.

Hawk 12 GA. Pump Defense Shotgun KEY FEATURES:

  • MODEL: HAWK 982
  • BARREL: 18 1/2″
  • MSRP: $284.99

The truth is almost all shotguns will work well for self defense but if you have a choice any one of the four above will do the job with room to spare and more than that they are all fun to shoot and will work well for Three Gun Competition as well as the occasional clay shoot.

Don't like our picks? Then check out Moss Pawn and Gun's video take on the Best Self Defense Shotguns:

Do you have another gun that is your favorite or you think is a better choice. Drop me a note in the comments below.

Thinking you want a Semi-Auto for your concealed carry weapon? Read our article of the Top 5 Concealed Carry Handguns .

  • 89 thoughts on “Best Self Defense Shotguns – My Top Four

      1. its not a shotgun but i love my beretta bobcat tip up barrel .32. granted its caliber challenged but that tip up barrel is hard to beat

        1. Tom, I love the Beretta Tomcat 3032. Before I retired I convinced my department to change the minimum off-duty/concealed carry from the standard .38 Special/.380 Auto to .32 Auto. The Tomcat had just arrive and I purchased one of the originals and loved it. I found that the very best defensive round is the Fiocchi 60 grain, semi-jacketed hollow point, followed by the easier to find Winchester Silvertip 60 grain hollow point. Although I like Federal ammo, I found that their 65 grain Hydra Shok would key-hole out of my atom Cat. About two years ago I administer the coup de grace on a 200 lb. wild boar. My friends thought I used a .357 Mag. This was with the Fiocchi ammo, one shot behind ear.

      1. I got one too, and I love it as well, also the fastest shooting pump action shogun on record!!!, in case you didn’t know that.

    1. My first choice is an Ithaca Model 37. Available used about 225 dollars- bottom eject, smooth action and accessories still available.

      The Hawk is an unmitigated piece of garbage. Chinese-made knockoff of an 870.

      I am an instructor at a large firing range and we have several as range guns – they are cheap, that is the only positive thing I know about them. Heat treat seems to be iffy, small parts break, spend another 80 bucks and get a cheap new 870 Remington or a used Ithaca.

      Ithaca Model 37 Shot Gun

    2. I would think that just about any shotgun is better than no shotgun at all. My concern is the posture taken by many states, including my own (Connecticut) that is trying to “backdoor” confiscation of firearms by putting draconian conditions on ownership. When not in use firearms are to be kept under lock and key. Anybody out there want to be concerned about unlocking a gun safe to retrieve and load a weapon while under a home invasion alert? Do you want to be forced into buying “insurance” to cover personal injuries committed in a crime with a weapon stolen from your home? THis is the kind of stuff we are dealing with here.

      1. Move, brother. I’ll never live in a Socialist state again. I grew up in NY, and that was enough for me. Go to the south ro the west. Forget the rest.

        1. Amen to that. Left NYC nine years ago, moved to NC and never looked back. NY, NJ, MA, CT. It’s Bizzaroworld up there.

    3. Hi ALL
      I favor whatever feels and fits the person holding and shooting the SHOTGUN . It might be a 410. for some A 20 Ga /( 16 Ga. Rare ) or a 12 Ga.
      Any of these can be loaded with anything from 0 Buck 00 Buck 000 Buck and 1-2-3-4 Buck I would not go above # 4 Shot for defense .
      Then there are the SLUGS .
      What you load with DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU LIVE WHAT TYPE DWELLING YOU ARE IN and HOW CLOSE IS YOUR NEIGHBORS HOME ( in case you through the wall )
      I load mine with 3 first shots with 1 & 2 1 Buck # 3 is 4 Buck and 5 and 6 are slugs .

      I prefer a Pump or with a 18 1/2 – 20 in barrel . If I didn’t have a pump I’d want a side by side double coach gun .
      All of these shot guns have 5 shell holder on stock . ( besides what is in the tube !! )
      Stay safe KNOW YOUR GUN AND AREA



    4. Why do I seldom see Mossberg’s 500 “Persuader” mentioned in these discussions? 7 rounds, 12 0r 20 guage. Seems to me to be a great choice for an affordable home defense tool.

      Mossberg 500 Persuader Shotgun

    5. Caution on the Mossberg – – When I patterned mine, it was hitting 2FT left and 2FT high from point of aim. After 2 passes through customer service, it works fine now.

      My favorite is a Winchester 1300 Stainless Marine Defender. They are out of production now, but you might find a used one. Winchester took the stainless parts, copper plated them, then hard chromed them. It should last FOREVER.

      Consider Federal ‘Flight Control’ ammo. Special wad design adds about 15 yards to the effective range, if you need it. Good stuff.

    6. This is about HOME Defense, and not long range shooting, so why would you want a long shotgun with a shoulder butt stock? You need a shorty Mossberg 500 with a Pistol grip, a foregrip light and laser light. A 50 round mixed 12g bandolier with 00 Buck, 000Buck, and deer slugs. Moving around corners or hallways with a long gun will not get the job done. You need fast turning and hip aiming.. LOL You don’t have time to shoulder the long gun and check to see if your rear sites and front sights lined up in a 15 ft hallway.. Nice try…

      1. Can’t hang onto or aim or bonk someone in the head without a stock. How about a folding stock? (top folder, cant work a pump with side or under)

    7. Glad to see Mossberg listed. The Model 500 is my choice, love the position of the safety on Mossbergs. Also own a model 9200 for hunting everything from rabbits to deer.

      Mossberg Model 500 Shotgun

    8. I use a kids Remington 20ga 3″ express magnum. Nice short barrel and with 3″ magnums packs quite the punch.

      Nothing says reliable like Remington.

    9. I like my Mossberg 500, configured for home defense with the 18″ barrel and pistol grip. I have added a combo laser and light on the feed tube. Love it! Keep it loaded with Fiocchi Low Velocity Defense Ammo (combo 00 and no.7 shot). Back it up a couple of 9mm handguns and a .223 rifle.

    10. What would you suggest for an in town old home with 2 aged 50 first time buyers/newbie shooters? We have a Glock 9mm we bought a year ago and have yet to shoot it as it’s too intimidating for us?

      Ira & Tess

      1. First go to a certified instruction firearm class near you. Then Go to your shooting range where you can Rent a .22 caliber hand gun.

      2. Hum, was wanting some unbiased, practical info on a small, light shotgun for myself for self defense/possibly some hunting, yet your site is prefaced with misinformation, scare tactics and outright lies. Home invasions in my county for the last 20 years: 0. US Presidents who have ever called for disarmament of the U. S. gun owner: 0. Academy Sports, here I come, for info without fear mongering…

      3. This 60 Yr Old Couple Carry / Hers Ruger SR 22 Great Ergonomics Easy Take Down Nice Rubber Grips Easy To Shoot She Has Rumatoid & Fibro . / His Beretta M9 I Installed Wilson Combat Components , Super Smooth Action & For Hide Out Ruger LC 380 . And By All Means Pratice Get Carry Permit & Firearms Saftey Class My Friends .

        PS I Bought My Wife , Her Pick Ofcourse ,A Gun Toteing Mama Purse . LOL

    11. As an owner of a Mossberg 590, I was greatly appreciative of this article of the top picks of home defense shotguns. I do have a question though. In the picture at the top of the article, the shotgun is equipped with a flashlight mount with a 360° sling swivel. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for, but unfortunately have not been able to find one anywhere. Can anyone please tell me either the name of the bracket/holder or where I may obtain one? Thank you.

    12. While home invasion is something to worry about, the author is incorrect to state that invasion rates are on the rise. Most stats on home invasion indicate that their rates have been falling over the past decade:

      Also, there are legitimate reasons to criticize Obama (excessive use of drones in warfare, his push to slash Social Security, his close ties to the parasitic capitalists of Wall Street, etc.), but saying that the President is trying to disarm the American citizenry is false In my own opinion. I beleive Obamas gun confiscating background checks will identify and stop clinically insane like the Virginia Tech and Aurora Colorado shooters. Also we have mandatory training and tracking requirements for automobile ownership, and the government has never used these systems to deprive us of our right to drive as far as I can tell.

      I like shotguns, and I will be using this information to make my purchase, but please don’t get swept up in a strange political fantasy with these articles.

      1. “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” No law or rule creates or allows more freedom or options than already exist without said law or rule. Thus, any and all gun laws and rules in fact infringe, and being contrary to our constitution, are invalid from inception, and “create no duty to obey”, per the Supreme Court’s Marbury decision. This sort of thing used to be actually taught in Civics class, in public school. Damn, I really miss America…

      2. Jake may be some form of odd troll from Doomberg’s group? I wouldn’t trust anyone with this level of monumental stupidity. Or maybe it’s just a jokester trying to rile folks. Either way, a waste of space here.

      3. Obama flat out told Jon Lott in a discussion/debate he wanted to take guns awy from all Americans. So much for paranoia!

    13. What about a Benelli Nova tactical? This 12 guage will accept up to 3 and a half inch shells without having to buy a special receiver like the 870 Express, and can be found for about the same cost. Easy breakdown and cleaning too.

      Benelli Nova tactical Shotgun

    14. I am not so sure about the pistol grips. Think about how you are going to shoot and where your absolute advantage is in an emergency. Yes, pistol grips look cool in Resident Evil but for home defense, stick with the stock.

    15. The Winchester turkey special black. My dad bought me this gun as a gift in 1998 I’m 30 now I have both slug and regular barrels for it 19″ with extra full chock. It shoots 3″ and I use 000 buck no stock with pistol grip & flash light on the pump. Has a 5 shell holder on side with Tac red dot sight. Very nice and dependable bet its had over 10,000 rounds put trough it with just minor break down and clean each time it’s shot. Can’t go wrong with Winchester. I’ve had a lot of 1300/1400 models and never no problems.

    16. Hey jake, if I were you, I’d go back and check the president’s voting record on gun rights all the way back to when he was a state legislator in Illinois. Never mind that he won THAT public seat by threatening his opponent who was a female African American and longtime civil rights advocate with a voter fraud suit that caused her to drop out of the election….I digress.He has always been and always will be, at least as long as taxpayers pay for his personal security, anti firearms rights. That rifle (or shotgun in this case) on the wall of the average working man deserves its place there…”liberty’s teeth” as Washington put it. Give an inch they’ll take a mile. By the way the author needs to add Benelli tactical shotguns M1 through M4 to the list although they fall under American pumps!

      Benelli Tactical Shotguns

    17. Mart, that’s not a Benelli Nova, its a Benelli M4 Entry shotgun, a short barreled version of the M4/ M1014 shotgun that is an NFA registered weapon.

    18. Oh, one last item for jake above… hey jake ever notice that despite our laws regulating vehicular licensing and insurance, there are STILL large, and I do mean LARGE numbers of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road? A) the government can’t afford a background scheme such ss the one they propose B) they don’t have the resources to enforce such a scheme. C) Most criminals don’t function economically in the legitimate marketplace when aquiring weapons, only to collect welfare and foodstamps while profiting from black marketeering. D) it would violate both the 2nd and 4th ammendment rights of honest citizens an offer the government the opportunity to exploit their information for purposes of political and cultural discrimination.

    19. I had the Mossberg 500 or 590 in mind until I saw the Saiga. I like the idea of the semi-auto clip to avoid the need to pump.
      I’m strictly home defense as I’m getting a bit elderly, but don’t want a hand grenade just yet.

      Question… will the damn thing ever jam? Of Course, I have nightmares about jamming… what’d u do if that happens…. toss the whole gun at the intruder and wait to see if he can unjam the thing and drill me? Tain’t funny.

      If you can have only one, which one would it be.

      Mossberg 590 Tactical Shotgun

      1. You miss the point. the saiga runs out of ammo. None of the others do. like lever actions, you can hold the loaded gun cocked and ready – and stuff more ammo into the loaded gun – topping it off. Weapons that use removeable magazines like the saiga are unloaded during (the brief) time after you run out. And they cannot be topped off. 10 round magazine ban? poo. Pump actions NEVER run out. I keep an old crown royal bag full of shells right next to my pump and always grab them both.

    20. Hey Dick, I have a Moss 500 and a 590, the 590 is a little more tactical, with double the shell capacity. A pump is least likely to jam. To insure that, buy new, and don’t be afraid, go out and break it in, with at least a couple hundred rounds. Ira and Tess, A 9mm Glock is no cannon, with very little kick. If you can’t take the gun out to a range, for the fear of it, you certainly won’t be able to shoot someone in your house. That ends up with the bad guy shooting you with your own gun! Taking a life in your own house is very personal, usually it’s the untrained, or un-prepared that can’t take that shot. Practice with the weapon, and be mentally prepared to protect yourself and your family! Good luck!

      1. EXACTLY!
        Forget that only the Saiga with it’s drum mag has greater capacity, The KSG has greater flexibility. For example, load A-barrel with the non-lethal of choice: pepper rounds, bean bags…NOT rubber buck…bad things happen when you fire those indoors! If, and I do men IF, you wish to fire a warning shot, there you have it. If you don’t like warning shots, go right to B-barrel. Load your favorite lethality here, be it shot or slug.

        And with every possible respect to Dick Hughes, I must disagree. The last thing that you want to do is get AWAY from the pump. Racking that slide is a sound that can NOT be mistaken for anything else, and it sends chills thru anyone who is not welcome. It can, in fact be the best possible warning shot sometimes.

        1. I disagree, racking the slide gives your position away to a more than likely hardened criminal who if armed can start throwing lead towards that sound! The room where you are trying to protect your family.

      2. It always amuses me that the KSG is overlooked in these discussions. I can only assume because it is one of the hardest to obtain, they determine that the average home defender won’t have access to one. I have one and wouldn’t trade it for ANY of the shotguns listed in the study.

        1. Not sure what you mean by the KSG bring hard to obtain. Every gun shop around seattle has 1 to 3 of them in Stock at the moment. I do agree that the KSG is better than any of the guns on this list. I got one last year and it has been great, and the ability to load 1 tube with 1 type of round and the other with another type is awesome.

    21. Mossberg 500 Persuader (pistol grip only) and Cruiser (pistol grip and stock) are identical, 8-shot, pump action shotguns that are reliable as hell and easy enough for a kid to rack. The only thing to remember is to pump it all the way back and forward – which is not hard to do, but will cause a problem if not done.

      Laserlite sells a small quad tac-rail for shotguns on which you can mount a light and laser. Once you get the laser sighted in, you’ll want to aim the light above it.

      Keep in mind that there are low recoil shells in addition to a wide range of pellets, from #00 to #28 (although you won’t find more than 1/4 that many). Going full double-ott is stupid and dangerous because each of those 9 steel balls is .32 caliber and will penetrate apartment walls like a hot knife through butter.

      Plus, you don’t need to punish yourself to punish the bad guy. My favorite Zombie Apocalype shotgun is the SRM Arms 1216 – 16-shot, four-tube KSG killer that you can load one tube with rock salt, one tube with rubber pellets, one with #00, and another with 1 1/2″ rifled slugs, and be ready for anything coming your way.

      But, I’d have to sell my car to buy it.

    22. Ira & Tess! go to a range and just shoot it! find a firearm instructor to help. That model is a whole lot easier to handle than you may think, especially for a man (due to larger hands). Your wife however, may find it difficult to hold easily, but the instructor may help find a method to help her. the Mossberg 500 is one I own and my wife is comfortable with it. We have the pistol grip handle, and it is a breeze to fire. Only required thing your to do from now on, is to get comfortable with what you have, and what ever you buy. never just buy a firearem and toss it in a closet, drawer, or safe. Bring it out and go to the range with it. Otherwise,, your likely to not hit your target should an intruder hit you one night! I AM NOT KIDDING. Even trained police are well known for fireing many shots at close range and missing the target due to the stress involved when bullets may be coming your way. Find a local gun club, and just simply ask for help on your situation. Folks will be more than happy to help out, very rarely charging you a dime. just don’t take advise from the folks shopping at the local gun shop at the Gospel Truth… Get to the range and learn it for yourself. It may save you life one day. Owning a firearm and not using it is similar to buying a plane and hoping you can fly it without advise or good instruction…. And have fun at the range! Gun range visits can be intimidating at first, but after meeting with a qualified instructor, you’ll be fine. and you’ll likely be back again a few times just for the fun of it as well as to brush up on what you’ve learned.

    23. Jake, please don’t buy a shotgun. Your comments and analogy are so spectacularly stupid you would be doing the rest of the human race a favor by allowing yourself to become a victim of a violent crime and subsequently removing yourself from the gene pool.

    24. Jake said: “…our right to drive…”

      At that point you can ignore Jake because he does not understand the difference between rights and privileges.

    25. @mike hally – or anyone.

      What would be the best home defence shell/round in the Kel-Tec.

      I am new to shotguns, live in a rural location with wife and family, nearest neighbors home 200’+

      other than range time this is the sole purpose of owning one (for the number of rounds)

      Further if the worst were to happen (home invasion) get woken up from sleep – what is the best way to learn. In other words you won’t likely be thinking of sighting and taking aim at a target, in this situation, what is the likely “natural” way of holding and deploying?


        1. Savage/Stevens 320 Security models with ghost ring or bead sight work well for home defense. I prefer the bead sight on mine because I am less likely to snag it and I am comfortable with the bead. The snobs will always tell you to stay away from Chinese or Turkish shotties. I have put well over a thousand rounds through my Stevens 320 12ga and we have probably put close to that many through my wifes Tristar 20ga. Both shotguns were well under under $200 when we bought them. They have performed well over time, and we have no need to replace them. Notice I say “no need”…I WANT a KSG and a Saiga..Just because “Murica, that’s why!!

    26. Graham…my advice would be to locate a local rifle/gun club or range…maybe even a reputable firearms store…I’m sure someone would be able to direct you. As far as training with the type of shotgun you’d need…the same places could probably direct you. Stick with reputable entities….this way you’ll feel comfortable keeping a firearm in the home for self defence.
      Just a note…I live on Staten Island in a real suburban nabe…two weeks ago there was a home invasion where the husband was murdered and the wife severely injured…Had a rifle/shotgun permit and I let it expire…guess what I’m doing now?…can never be too safe my man.

    27. Thanks @Ted – yup – I’d hate to have to use it but I sure like knowing I can. I don’t think home invasions happen much arround these parts – everyone has a “home defender” 🙂 – but just in case…


    28. At home, I’ve got my old 870 close at hand in the bedroom and a Mossberg 590 stashed at the opposite end of the house. Also keep a Khukri (sp.?) under the couch and a few long handled ballpeen hammers is different spots around the house. Snubnose .357 for carry only. Houses in my neighborhood close proximity to each other and overpenetration potential concerns me. Besides, that distictive sound of an 870 being shucked will most likely make it unnecessary to actually fire it! But I don’t count on it.

    29. How about Threading the barrel for some choke tubes? It would add some versatility to these guns and more people could justify getting one.
      Yes? No? May be?

    30. Ok Jake,
      First off, driving a car is not a right. It is considered a state privaledge. Owning and bearing arms is a right. Try taking a look at the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

      As for which shotgun is the most appropriate, it obviously depends on the intended use. For the money and performance I like the Mossberg 500 with a 20″ barrel, 8+1 capacity and a collapsible stock. Inexpensive enough to have several for familiarity and very reliable. There are more after market ad ons than you will ever use.

      Mossberg 500 Persuader with 20

    31. Mine is a 870 Super Mag cut to 18.5 with a 2 round extension and flashlight. 1st shell is a 3″, Winchester Super X 00 buck,the rest are 2 1/2 for max capacity..Don’t use cheap ammo,it HAS to work. People need to remember shotguns in real life don’t work like the movies. The pattern on a no choke 18 1/2″ barreled shotgun is still pretty small in a home defense situation. You can’t just point in a general direction and hit what you are aiming at. Pistol grips are absolute crap. Get a good,well fitted stock(I love the Magpul 870 stock) and don’t use slugs. buckshot will do what it needs to do and give you a slight margin of error. Practice,practice,and then go practice some more!
      Any gun is no good if you are not proficient with it.
      Personally, I’m a 870 guy,but any of the reputable brands are good choices. I would stay away from any thing not major brand. Why trust your like to a shotgun made in Pakistan or India just to save a few bucks. Stay safe and be prepared everyone.

    32. Although a few of these shotguns are good, You
      did leave out some of the best. The model 37 Ithaca, the Model 12, and the model 1897 Winchester ( Mine came out of the Baltimore, P.D. years back & with it’s 18″ cyl. bore shoots #1 buckshot well out to 80 to 100 yards as well)( I know I killed deer that far with it.) Yet it still is one of the best defense shotguns still today. Now all these shotguns are what some call slam fire shotguns. This means once you pull the trigger just hold it and keep pumping the gun hard and fast. you should be empty in less than 10 seconds 20 at the most. Also the Savage 67, 18″ cylinder bore that was sent to Vietnam for the south Vietnamese. works well. All these old shotguns in the closet will work as a self defense weapon. Now the Mossberg 500,( also sold under many different names years back by Sears, Western Auto, Montgomery Wards, Pic n Save, K-Mart, And their store names) The most sold type shotgun of them all, Even the barrels will still change out.
      The 500 with a long or even a short barrel, Bottom line the 500 will do the job.
      Now most all the old timers will tell you to get a good old Double Barrel shotgun. One thing you will get 2 for sure shots. And it is easy to change out ammo.
      Same is said for the single barrel shotgun. ( If a person sticks around after you fire a single shot out of a 12,16,20, or even a 28 gauge & include a 410 then your in the fire fight for the long haul. And make your shots count.
      Now we get into the semi-auto’s, The AK-47 type shotguns as far as I have tested will rock and roll out the rounds. And by using a clip type feed it is easy to reload. The AK shotgun works just as well as the AK-47 rifles.
      And if you have been in combat the AK is a serious weapon to go up against. And is the worlds most produced assault weapon made world wide. And now by the AK being re-chambered in different calibers it is as just as dependable.
      Not to forget the Sniper calibers in a larger caliber AK style produced by Russia & China in both 7.62 x 54R and 308 nato & the 338 Lapua.
      The Ak style weapons are not to be taken lightly.
      And if you get a federal permit you can get a silencer for the Ak as well. Also Silencer Co sells a really quite silencer for any other type single barreled shotgun. It maybe even quitter than the ak-47 silencer. But again a federal permit for $200 will be required.
      But in the end any shotgun Single barrel, Double barrel, Pump, or Semi-auto, or even Full auto, Or if you have one with the $5.00 federal stamp a Street Sweeper or Striker(drum type) will do the job.
      Bottom line just grab a shotgun and a box of 2 3/4 inch 00 buck shot( it’s 9 pellets but they will do the job) ( If you want a few more pellets the # 1 buckshot will due the job.)
      You could even mix them up, If you shooting for distance or if the target behind a concrete block wall or a car door? A few Slugs will do the job. Shoot 2 to 4 slugs at a block wall at say 40 to 50 yards and watch the hole it will punch out.
      A shotgun and if your target is close or fairly far their going to be wishing they were somewhere else…

      1. Plus 1 for the Model 12 and the 97.
        I have the 97 in the “Riot Gun” configuration with 20″ Cylinder bore. I bought a police trade in 870 several years ago, also with the 20″ open choke barrel. Then I bought a 28″ barrel for it that came with a set of choke tubes so I can hunt or shoot trap, return home, change barrels, and reload with 00 Buck for the bedroom gun. Multitasking is a good thing.

    33. I use a 870 for home , camping , or in the motor home. It has all the bells & whistles magazine extension tube, pistol grip, stream light flashlight, side saddle shot holder. The one thing it’s to heavy for my wife to handle. So I took a regular 870 express I use to hunt with bought a 18 1/2 barrel with rifle sights with night sights already on it. Put a five shell holder on the side of the stock made from elastic weave. Then removed the plug. I can return it to a hunting gun in five minutes I installed a small rail on the barrel for a light. Now the shotgun is lighter than regular model hunting shotgun. And she loves it. The extra barrel , stream light tr-1, shell holder, ran about $250.00 extra . I think it’s a great setup.

    34. Stevens Model 320, at Walmart for $187.99. 12 or 20Ga.
      Tube mag. holds 4 of the 3 Inch, or 2-3/4 inch shells.
      With hunting plug, that I remove…
      Has pistol grip, 18.5″ barrel…

    35. I use a Mossberg 500 with the youth stock and smooth slug barrel, I also have a Model 12, both chambered in 12 ga. And if I need so reaI range I have my M1903A3, however I prefer 00 buck, however I do have slugs. As I tell my wife when you see the red shell come out of the chamber either reload or grab the other gun..

      As common shot gun ammo does not have tracers, I recommend that the last shell to be fed in to the action gun (first in the tube) be a diffrent color hull than the rest. Most people who do not conduct stress shooting are 1. probably not counting thier rounds or 2. adrenaline takes over and they lose count of thier rounds.

      Training , training and farmiliarity with not only the weapon, but with your ability to address stoppages, stress, low light, dis-orientation wil help you win the battle.

      Though it is not wise or recommended, you must rember you probably are not going to have time to get your hearing protection on, like at the range, thus i recommend at least one firing of the shotgun without hearing protection so that you can understand how loud it is and the effect it will have on you. This is especially useful if you must take follow on shots.
      Disorientation your thinking, well most home invesions when people are ordinarly home happen at night, and a 12 ga or any weapon does produce a muzzel flash, thus screwing with your ability to see properly after you pull the trigger.

    36. I once fired my Ruger Blackhawk .44 magnum, 5 1/2″ barrel, without hearing protection just to realize how loud it was and to experience its’ effect on me. Suffice it to say, I wont be doing that again, unless it is a life and death situation.

    37. a Home Defense shotgun, in my opinion, needs to be as short and “Tactical” as possible. I myself would select one with a colapsable/folding stock, Bullpup or a simple pistol grip is needed to move quickly in confined spaces. A short barrel is a must as well. Having a light mounted is very important for at home in the darkness and such, either a flashlight or LASER will assist in making the first shot count: 1 Shot 1 Kill.

      My alltime favorite is the Franchi SPAS 12 as it is a Semi/Pump combo with a top folding stock and pistol grip, plus it just looks as cool as snot when you are warding off Velociraptors at Jurassic Park! My second choice is the Bullpup Unlimited conversion for the Remington 870 Express Tactical and it has mounting rails for LASERs and lights. And finally would be any Remimgton or Mossberg with just a pistol grip.

    38. No, don’t you people know anything? Use a double barrel shotgun, shoot both barrels in the air and the criminal will run from your now empty gun! Does Joe Biden have to teach you everything!!!???

    39. Word of caution, a pistol grip on a shotgun is not a good idea for most people, they look all cool and all but what some fail to realize is that when firered all that recoil is going right into your wrist which will hurt like hell and in some cases may break it.

      1. If you want a pistol grip that will reduce recoil by up to 65%, this is what you need:
        BlackHawk Breachers Grip Stock

        BlackHawk Breachers Grip Stock

        I prefer a Mossberg Persuader 500 20 gauge 8 shot. Lighter. More maneuverable. Massad Ayoob recommends a 20 gauge over a 12 gauge. 60% of the recoil of a 12 gauge with 30% less shot.

        However, nothing beats a handgun for versatility, maneuverability, changing defensive positions, firing postures, and close-in defense. If someone is three-feet away, they can grab or knock your shotgun barrel. Can’t do that with a handgun.

    40. Pumps are OK for hunting, I’ll stick with my Remington 1100 Tac 4 for home defense. I carry a couple of buckshot loaded Judges in shoulder holsters during the day.

    41. Ouch. Buddy did that with his 686 using .357, fired two rounds, then he dropped the pistol and grabbed his head between his hands, he was in extreme pain.

      Thanks for sharing so others learn not to do that.

    42. I have a Saiga 12 gauge, and my wife prefers the Hawk pump 12 gauge. We both have good tactical lights on our guns and load them with “00” buckshot. Two excellent shotguns, and we were pleased to see them both on this list. We are both proficient with handguns, and both keep a locked and loaded pistol ready at all times (9mm for her and .45 for me), but when you hear that crash in the middle of the night, and you awake with your head and eyes still filled with the muzziness of sleep, there is nothing like a good 12 gauge.

    43. I have a Mossberg flex 500. The gun is tricked out complete tactical weapon but can be converted to game shot gun if needed. Definitely my favorite defense weapon prefer over hand gun .

    44. Is anyone familiar with Mossbergs, Maverick 88 Tactical shotgun? I’ve heard mostly good things, unfortuanately I
      Can not afford anything high dollar. I’m told this Shotgun is well made and will get the job done.

    45. lf you need to know all this about your gun then you don,t know enough to have one in your hands. Best to have your Nebo.s number programed into your phone. Any shotgun will do the job and any shell also. I bought my wife a 20ga camper special pump and some number 4 s and 6 s which will cut you into at ten yards which is more than most of your rooms. These will go through the door of your car when laying across your lap and take some one out on the out side. A load of no. eights will take a pine tree six in,s through out at ten feet. Don,t over equip your self just to look good. Learn to shoot without sights and from a point. No good hunter uses the sights on a shotgun if he knows his gun and how to shoot. Remember this is for protection and not to take on a army.

    46. Just learn to shoot what you have and stop worrying about how bad it is. Know your gun and how to shoot it safely and not to over kill. If you can,t shoot from any position you are not ready to face someone with a weapon pointed at you or your family.

    47. This site must appeal to “violence geeks”: people who fantasise about unleashing a flurry of deadly violence on someone else and wait for the part where you’ll be rewarded with a bravery medal. Simply put: how many here live a town where violent crime is the norm? How many here have a criminal lifestyle were you can expect a violent intruder looking for revenge? Most likely people here are ordinary people who are imaging an extremely unlikely scenario to so they can face a violent encounter that they assume they’ll easily win.

      It’s strange people are waiting a lifelong sense of heroism and bravery accolades when they do waste a criminal while ignoring that many soldiers who do face violent situations end up with a form of PTSD. You think you can legally waste a criminal and be Mr Slick as PTSD is for sissies? Most here will be thinking “yes” because you’ll be pretty safe in not having to prove it.

      1. You’re likely not far off in some cases. Like anything that covers the spectrum of the population privately owned weapons are in the hands of every type of person. Misunderstanding or misrepresentation are always right behind.

      2. Even stranger is that you took the effort to write such a long post on a website that you supposedly have no interest in. Yes…very strange indeed…

    48. Am partial to the mag loading shotguns available as a I can see a serious home invasion with multiple perps deteriorating into a protracted gunfight. ie. roving bands of scavengers if/when TSHTF. Reloading down time/distraction may become the critical factor, therefore, sustainable and focused firepower being the objective of mag loading. However, I’ve heard rumors that the long-term storage of shot shells compressed in magazines can cause distortion of shell casing, impeding feeding and causing jamming. Anyone have any bona fide knowledge or personal experience with said problem?

    49. I like the Linberta Semi-auto. $399 at Buds, but you can shop around and get one for $252.00 + $25.00 shipping, elsewhere (check or There are two models; one with a carry handle and barrel wrap/heat protector – more “tactical looking” and a model with ghost ring sights and a rail for monting a scope. Both look sharp. Yes, they are made in Turkey, in one of the most modern, standards-driven weapons facilities in the world, like most other decent shotguns nowadays under $900.00. The machining is good and quality of workmanship overall appears to rival anything I’ve held made here – [most tacticals, regardless of brand name, are not USA made.] Mine cycles very fast, handles 2 3/4″ and 3″ shells and eats buck shot and slugs, as well as regular field loads if you want to shoot paper or jugs…all without issues or making any changes to the weapon. The pistol handle grip is a nice silicon/rubber covered piece, just the right size for me. I hope I never have to use it in my house, but, I am taking it on a hog hunt this next week just to see how it does. Comes with a nice 20″ barrel with muzzle brake or modified choke if you prefer. I am confident it will take care of any home defense issues I might have; if not, there is always the back-up 357 on the nightstand.

      or go to Bd’s listing here ->

    50. I am an older man who has suffereda costly burgulary last December 7th. and I would like to inquire about a
      least expensive shotgun purchase. I would not like to wound (stop) an intruder, NOT Kill. I am a retired former Deputy
      Jailer (transport) I think a 20 gauge perhaps. I am familiar with 12 gauge kick, and as I have no sternum (due to a fall right after bypass surgery) and I think that would be too much for this old bird to handle. Thank you for any feedback that you might consider.

      John H.

    51. Happy to say that of your list, we have three of them. The Mossberg, the Hawk, and the Saiga. The Hawk was a Christmas present for my wife two years ago.

      These are all great guns. The Saiga rests in a rack on the side of my bed, with a 12 round mag of 00. We both keep our handguns at the ready, but a good shotgun is our number one choice for self defense.

    52. wanted to here comments on the Harrington & Richardson pardner protector shotgun, I have been looking at both the Mossberg maverick 88 and the H&R ,wanted to here opinions pros and cons.

    53. In my nearly 20 years on the trial court bench the only firearm I consistently saw fought over was the self defense shotgun. Why, it’s too long and few homeowner’s have ever. taken any training. A short Carbine like a Beretta Storm at 31 inches or Auto Ordinance’s M1 Carbine at 32 inches is a much better choice that a 12 gauge at 40 or 42 inches and precisely because of your quote: “A 12-gauge, 9-pellet buckshot load with rated velocity of 1,450 feet per second delivers a whopping 2,240 foot-pounds of energy” Since knock down power is a fallacy (to prove it look at Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If knock down power were true, it would also knock down the shooter. That scares the heck out of anyone but those who have practiced a lot,are wearing a Limbsaver recoil shoulder shield and have ear muffs on. Plus women will not use a 12 gauge shotgun.

      If you have the $$ a IWI Tavor in either 5.56 NATO or 9mm is the perfect house gun at 26 inches overall and an almost unlimited round capacity. Of course it cost the same as my Bellini M2 defense shotgun.
      I do thank the Lord you did not repeat the myth about racking the shotgun’s slide driving off a burglar. All you are doing is saying “Hey I am over here in the dark with an unloaded shotgun.” The criminal will know it is loaded when 9 pellets are traveling towards him at 1300 feet per second.

    54. Is it against any law in OUR/MY country (AMERICA) to mount a human head like you would a deer???
      Just wondering!


    55. Over the years with Shotguns ,I started my police career with a Ithica Auto Burglar .It is the perfect 16 ga. pistol gripped double barrel shotgun . With that said ,the ones left are in private collections and they w ere re classified so you will need a tax stamp . Once you finished paying for it ,you could own several other shotguns .
      Since then I’ve carried an array of other shotguns From a chrome plated sawed off double barrel 12 to Ithicas ,Winchesters ,Mossbergs ,Remingtons ,Smith & Wessons .My Favorite is a Ithica model 37 .The older ones slam fire ( which I like ) ,They eject through the bottom of the receiver . This weapon has it over a magazine fed shotgun because you can combat load at any time an not take the muzzle off target .
      Using a shotgun you have ammo that ranges from small game to large .In the confines of a house Bird shot is just as deadly as slugs.At the distance you are shooting ,a chest shot wound will have all shot and most likely the wadding inside…

    56. My “perfect” self defense shotgun is my semi-auto Benelli M1 with pistol grip stock, long magazine, short barrel W/ turkey choke and red dot sight.

      I’ve had that gun duck hunting in the worst rain, sleet and snow with never a hitch with ANY load. It is totally reliable and amazingly fast. I can shoot 5 rounds BEFORE the first hull hits the ground. If row M1 Benelli is good enough for the LA SWAT team it’s good enough for me.

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