5 Best Home-Defense Tactical Shotguns

Pew Pew Tactical

At this moment I have a safe full of nice and expensive rifles and handguns.  But…it is a shotgun that sits by the bed.


Because, per trigger pull, it delivers the most terminally devastating payload possible from a controllable, shoulder-fired firearm.  

When it comes to home defense we all want the most effective weapon possible.  Our family, our lives, and our homes deserve that protection.

Gun Bed!
Gun Bed!

That’s not the only reason though.  Throughout this article, we are going to dive into what the tactical shotgun is, why it rocks, and how to recognize and address the weaknesses.

Plus, we’ll cover our Top 5 Best Tactical Shotguns at all price points:

  1. Mossberg 590A1
  2. Remington 870
  3. Benelli M3
  4. Hatsan Escort Aimguard
  5. Mossberg SPX 930

What is a Tactical Shotgun?

What separates a tactical shotgun from a hunting shotgun?

Double Barreled Hunting Shotgun
Double Barreled Hunting Shotgun

There are certainly a few different features that make a shotgun ‘tactical’:

  • 18 to 20-inch barrel: This length of barrel keeps the weapon short and maneuverable when used inside buildings or even vehicles.  18 inches is as short as you can legally go with a shotgun barrel without requiring a tax stamp and federal registration.
  • Pump or Semi-auto operation: Shotguns come in every flavor imaginable.  This includes pump action, semi-auto, lever action, bolt action, and single and double barrels. Pump and semi-automatic actions are the only two that are practical for home defense.  They are the fastest forms of operation for a shotgun.
  • A good set of sights: Most shotguns come with a single bead at the end of the barrel that acts as a sight.  These work for a lot of applications but if you want to squeeze the most out of your shotgun a front and rear sight are important, or even a quality red dot (Aimpoint, Trijicon, etc.)
  • Sling Mounts: A sling allows you to attach the weapon to your body.  This allows you to retain the weapon while using your hands for other tasks and makes it difficult for an attacker to strip you of your weapon.
  • Chambered in 12 or 20 gauge: 12 gauge is the most common combat shotgun caliber, especially when it comes to semi-automatics.  The 12 gauge is the more powerful option as well.  It also makes the firearm larger, heavier, and recoils fiercely.  A 20 gauge is still a very potent round and is much friendlier for smaller people.
  • Capacity of 4+1 minimum: The shells a shotgun uses are quite large and therefore most shotguns are limited in capacity.  4 +1 will settle most encounters, but preferably you are using something more akin to 7+1 to give yourself that extra edge.
  • A stock: Any fighting shotgun needs a stock.  Pistol grip only shotguns are fun, look cool, and handy in some situations.  However, a shoulder stock makes a shotgun much easier to handle, much easier to shoot accurately, and more comfortable.

What Can the Shotgun Do?

Why is a shotgun so effective?

First off…versatility.

I can fire the widest variety of projectiles from a shotgun. I can engage anything from pests like possums to two-legged varmints, and even creatures as big as bears.

Shotgun Ammo Types
Shotgun Ammo Types

The shotgun has three primary loads:

  • Birdshot: A load filled with small pellets, ranging from dozens to hundreds depending on the particular load used.  Designed for hunting birds, clay pigeons, and other small game.  Not very effective for home defense.
12 ga Birdshot
12 ga Birdshot
  • Buckshot: A load of larger pellets commonly ranging in caliber from .24 (No 4 Buckshot) to .36 (000 Buckshot).  The number of pellets varies per load and caliber of the ball used.  Perfect for medium game and tactical applications.  The most common is 00 (“double aught”) buckshot.
00 Buckshot, Paracles Tech
00 Buckshot, Paracles Tech
  • Slugs: Solid projectiles, often quite larger, heavy and powerful.  They allow you to extend your effective shotgun range.
12ga Slug
12ga Slug

The One Thing to Remember

A tactical shotgun is made to end the threat.

Load it accordingly.

When we start talking about using a shotgun defensively we will focus primarily on buckshot and slugs.  Inside the home buckshot is king.  If you keep a shotgun as a truck or trunk gun you can toss in some slugs for longer range encounters.


11 thoughts on “5 Best Home-Defense Tactical Shotguns

  1. My premier home defense firearm is a Winchester 1200 defender 12 Gauge pump , was a Pig shot gun (its legal not that I GAF)
    pistol grip and a mag full of 00 buck

    sweep the room
    when yer woke in the middle of the night and you have to act .. aim isnt something of a finer point in a fuzzy woke world ..12 gauge spray is your friend , you aint gonna miss, and you wont send a bullet out a window to kill your neighbor or your kid in the next room behind the wall

    not to mention they will likely shit their pants at the sound and site of a 12 gauge blaster coming at them 6 rounds of get the F outa my home

    1. I am surprised the Winchester didn’t make his list. I love the Remington 870 Tactical and the Winchester SXP Defender.

  2. “……Inside the home buckshot is king. …..”

    If your home is in an urban area (or suburban), you may want to use bird shot to avoid shooting your neighbors at the same time.

    1. Actually, birdshot has inadequate penetration for self-defense use. It can sometimes work at very close range, but its terminal effects are known to be unreliable. Anything that penetrates flesh well enough to stop an attacker is also going to be capable of penetrating most interior building walls.

      1. Okay. I believe you. A gun store owner in Las Vegas told me that, but I use buckshot because I have no neighbors.

  3. Heyeaah….

    So many different loads.

    Bean bags to ball bearings with piano wire.

    Plus you don’t have to aim when ur fkd up.

    1. You still have to carefully aim a shotgun in order to hit your target. The spread of the shot is only a couple of inches at typical ranges inside a house. Just sayin’…

  4. 12 gauge has a helluva kick, especially with slugs. 20 is much more user friendly, without too much loss of effectiveness.

  5. I bought mine for the chambering sound. EVERYBODY knows that pump action music and will freeze a thinking person with ease. If they are stupid, blammo! Darwinning!!

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