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.
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:
What is a Tactical Shotgun?
What separates a tactical shotgun from a 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?
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.
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.
- 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.
- Slugs: Solid projectiles, often quite larger, heavy and powerful. They allow you to extend your effective shotgun range.
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.